Blawg Review #118

Kang and Kodos hitchhiking.

Do you like to make people laugh?  Do you enjoy early Woody Allen movies, especially Sleeper?  Have you often heard people praising your wit?  And do you like everything about practicing law except for the clients, the judges, and your colleagues, particularly that partner who never fails to give you the creeps?

If so, welcome to Blawg Review #118.  Blawgletter has the honor to host Blawg Review this week.  We will cover many topics but will strive to throw in something funny every now and then.  Blawgletter:  Business trial law with a sense of humor.

Banishing Jury Trial


Anne Reed covers juries and jury trials on her terrific Deliberations blawg.  This week, she asks Is the Jury System Dying?  But she warns against going overboard with laments about the rarity of civil trial by jury.  As she notes in Clients, Choices, and the Jury System, "our first responsibility is to the client, not to the jury, and that often means we choose another path."

Scott Greenfield takes up the vanishing jury trial in Simple Justice.  Speaking from a criminal defense lawyer’s perspective, Scott wonders Trials; Where Have You Gone?  He offers a thought-provoking answer — that "the disease [of declining jury trials] was a conservative shift in political sentiment, elevating the desire for personal security over the promise of individual freedom."

Earlier this year, Blawgletter wrote about the Lone Star State’s 55 percent drop-off in civil jury trials since 1996.  We supposed that growing hostility to civil lawsuits in the Texas legislature, governor’s office, and judiciary helps explain the drop.  And we chuckle when we hear Supreme Court justices blaming everyone but themselves.

Should we care about marginalization of our most democratic institution, weakening of the strongest bulwark against arbitrary government action, silencing our greatest teacher of civic values?  Eh, we guess.

Michael "Voldemort" Vick


Have you already read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which came out this Saturday?  If not, you needn’t bother.  Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick delivers just as much evil in far fewer than 759 pages.  Or so federal prosecutors would have you believe.

Sports Law Blog describes the criminal charges against Mr. Vick (a/k/a "Ookie") and three buddies (including "P-Funk") for horrific treatment of fighting dogs.  The post includes links to other sources and the indictment itself.

Professor Stephen Bainbridge supplies a scholarly explanation of the Vick case, pointing out that the libertarian Edmund Burke would consider dog fighting way past his limit on government’s proper role.

Speaking of Pets

We also have videos — one of West Virginina Senator Robert Byrd rhapsodizing on canine critters (thanks to Althouse) and another of Will Ferrell advertising his dog-suing law practice (hat tip to Seth at QuizLaw).

Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit warns that "IT’S A BAD IDEA TO BURGLARIZE a place marked ‘K-9 Training Facility.’"  Res ipsa loquitur.

Plus J.D. Hull balances things a bit with an appreciation of cats.  Mr. Hull composes What About Clients? even during his vacation.  Yo, dawg, get some R&R.


Finally, What the Funny . . . Patents describes a patent on one of those "invisible pet" leashes (above).  This variety issues "a plurality of animal sounds" from a speaker on the collar.


The Disassociate, a column in and a blog, writes:

I cannot believe we are returning to formal business attire. I was sure that armpit-yellowed golf shirts and high-water seersucker pants were totally acceptable. Boy did I misread those second looks.

Mad Kane’s Humor Blog includes an ode about bloggers’ obsession with Google page-ranking.  We’ve never checked our page rank before, but we now we can’t wait to!

Professor Eric Goldman discusses our firm’s contingent fee agreement in patent cases — or at least Steve Susman’s description of it — on his Technology & Marketing Law Blog.  Reacting to Steve’s statement that he’d file suit before starting peace talks in order to avoid a bad forum, Professor Goldman suggests that limits on venue choices in new patent legislation could encourage pre-litigation settlement discussions.  (Go here for our view on how recent court decisions force plaintiffs to sue before talking settlement.)

The Invent Blog, per Stephen Nipper, gives a Miller High Life-like tribute to "Mr. et al." in this post.

Walter Olson provides an obit for a lawsuit against "Extreme Makeover" in Overlawyered; Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground offers links to classic (and scary) posts by The Machiavellian Lawyer; and Charon QC describes a striking instance of judicial disdain.

What About Clients expresses lack of sympathy for those who pulled an all-nighter last week on debate about Iraq:

In olden days (circa 96th and 97th Cong.), when WAC? worked for Congress during those pointless posturing all-nighters, we (a) stayed up for 4 or 5 nights in a row with no cots, (b) ate nothing but the cheapest pharmaceutical "Crank", and (c) drank only coffee, whiskey, Tune Inn beer and Jolt cola, all out of dirty Mason jars. Spartan. Tireless. And just as lame.

Over at Balkinization, Sandy Levinson — who taught Blawgletter a thing or two about writing — lays out constitutional amendments that he’d like to see.  One would limit presidential veto power, and others would relate to the office that John Nance Garner described as "not worth a bucket of warm" bodily excretion.

Wired GC fusses about the costs versus benefits of the patent system.  The post cites an article, in The New York Times, about a law professor’s study, which concludes that costs outweigh benefits because patent litigation expenses — presumably including defense costs — exceed profits from patents.  But we wonder.  Doesn’t having profits mean that you got more revenue than you paid to get it?

Jurorial love birds.  Homicide brought
them together.

And who can resist the tale of two Queens jury venire members who married after the groom voted to convict a murderer?  Not Peter Lattman, who writes The Wall Street Journal’s marvelous Law Blog.

Above the Law points out that the three people who sat for the Guam bar examination failed.  A fourth didn’t show up.

Scott Felsenthal and Jonathan Louis May, at The Legal Scoop, give us top 10 negotiation skills for a lawyer, answer should I go to law school, and demystify working in-house.

Barry Barnett

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Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck…

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck Redden).

Barnett is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, and Lawdragon has named him one of the top 500 lawyers in the United States three years in a row. Best Lawyers in America has honored him as “Lawyer of the Year” for Bet-the-Company Litigation (2019 and 2017) and Patent Litigation (2020) in Houston. Based in Texas and New York, Barnett has tried complex business disputes across the United States.

Barnett’s background, training, and experience make him indispensable to his clients. The small-town son of a Texas roughneck and grandson of a Texas sharecropper, Barnett “developed an unusual common sense about people, their motivations, and their dilemmas,” according to former client Michael Lewis.

Barnett has been historically recognized for his effectiveness and judgment. His peers chose him, for example, to the American College of Trial Lawyers and American Law Institute. His decades of trial and appellate work representing both plaintiffs and defendants have made him a master strategist and nimble tactician in complex disputes.

Barnett focuses on enforcement of antitrust laws, the “Magna Carta of free enterprise,” in Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s memorable phrase. “Barry is one of the nation’s outstanding antitrust lawyers,” according to Joseph Goldberg, a member of the Private Antitrust Enforcement Hall of Fame. Named among Texas’s top ten antitrust lawyers of 2023, Business Today calls Barnett a “trailblazer” among the “distinguished legal minds” who “dedicate their skill and expertise to the maintenance of healthy competition in various sectors” of the Lone Star State’s booming economy. Barnett is also adept in energy and intellectual property matters and has battled for clients against a Who’s Who list of corporate behemoths, including Abbott Labs, Alcoa, Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Broadcom, Comcast, Dow, JPMorgan Chase, Samsung, and Visa.

Barnett commands a courtroom with calm and credibility and “is the perfect lawyer for bet the company litigation,” said Scott Regan, General Counsel of former client Whiting Petroleum. His performance before the Supreme Court in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend prompted the Court to withdraw the question on which it had granted review. The judge in a trial involving mobile phone technology called Barnett “one of the best” and that his opening statement the finest he had ever seen. Another trial judge told Barnett minutes after a jury returned a favorable verdict against the county’s biggest employer that he was one of the two best trial lawyers he’d ever come across—adding that the other one was dead.

A versatile trial lawyer, Barnett knows how to handle a case all the way from strategic pre-suit planning to affirmance on appeal. He’s tried cases to verdict and then briefed and argued them when they went before appellate courts, including the Second, Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and (in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend) the Supreme Court of the United States.

Barnett is a sought-after public speaker, often serving on panels and talking about topics like the trials of antitrust class actions and techniques for streamlining complex litigation. He also comments on trends in commercial litigation and the implications of major rulings for outlets such as NPR, Reuters, Law360, Corporate Counsel, and The Dallas Morning News. He’s even appeared in a Frontline program about underfunding of state pensions, authored chapters on “Fee Arrangements” and “Techniques for Expediting and Streamlining Litigation” (the latter with Steve Susman) in the ABA’s definitive treatise on Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, 5th, and commented on How Antitrust Enforcers Might Think Like Plaintiffs’ Lawyers.

Clients and other hard graders have praised Barnett for his courtroom skills and legal acumen.

A client in a $100 million oil and gas case, which Barnett’s team won at trial and held on appeal, said Barnett and his team “presented a rare combination of strong legal intellect, common sense about right and wrong, and credibility in the courtroom.” David McCombs at Haynes and Boone said Barnett “has a natural presence that goes over well with juries and judges.”

Even former adversaries give Barnett high marks. Lead opposing counsel in a decade-long antitrust slugfest said “Barry is a highly skilled advocate. He understands what really matters in telling a narrative and does so in a very compelling manner.”

Barnett relishes opportunities to collaborate with all kinds of people. At the Center for American and International Law (CAIL), founded by a former prosecutor at Nuremberg in 1947 and headquartered in the Dallas area, he has served on the Executive Committee, co-chaired the committee that produced CAIL’s first-ever strategic plan, supported CAIL’s Institute for Law Enforcement Administration and other development efforts, and proposed formation of a new Institute for Social Justice Law. CAIL’s former President David Beck said “Barry is extremely bright” and is “very well prepared in every lawsuit or professional task he undertakes.”

Barnett is also a Trustee of the New-York Historical Society, a Sterling Fellow at Yale, a member of the Yale University Art Gallery’s Governing Board, a winner of the Class Award for his work on behalf of his college class, and a proud contributor to the Yellow Ribbon Program at Harvard Law. Barnett’s pro bono work includes leading the trial team representing people who are at greatest risk of severe illness and death as a result of being exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 while being detained in the Dallas County jail—work for which he received the NGAN Legal Advocacy Fund RBG Award.

At Susman Godfrey, Barnett has served on the firm’s Executive Committee, Employment Committee, and ad hoc committees on partner compensation, succession of leadership, and revision of the firm’s partnership agreement. He also twice chaired the Practice Development Committee.

Barnett understands that clients face many pressures. Managing the stress is important, especially in matters that take years to resolve. He encourages clients to call him whenever they have a question or concern and to keep the inevitable ups and downs in perspective. He wants them to know that he will do his level best to help them achieve their goals. He also strives to foster trust and to make working with him a pleasure.

Cyrus “Skip” Marter, the General Counsel of Bonanza Creek in Denver and a former Susman Godfrey partner and client, said Barnett is “excellent about communicating with clients in a full and honest manner” and can “negotiate for his clients from a position of strength, because he is not afraid to take a case through a full trial on the merits.” Stacey Doré, the President of Hunt Utility Services and a former client, said that Barnett is “an excellent trial lawyer and the person you want to hire for your bet-the-company cases. He is client focused, responsive, and uniquely savvy about trial and settlement strategy.” A New York colleague said, “Barry is a joy to work with as co-counsel. He tackles complex procedural and factual hurdles capably, efficiently, and without drama.”

Barnett’s wide-ranging experience and calm, down-to-earth approach enable him to connect with clients, judges, jurors, witnesses, and even opposing counsel. He grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas. He co-captained his high school varsity football team as an All-East Texas middle linebacker while also serving as the Editor of Key Club’s Texas-Oklahoma District, won the Best Typist award, took the History Team to glory, and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir. As Dan Kelly of client Vistra Corp. put it, Barnett is “a great person to be around.”

Barnett is steady and loyal. He has practiced at Susman Godfrey his entire career. He and his wife Nancy live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York. Their daughter works for H-E-B in Houston, and their son is a Haynes and Boone transactions lawyer in Dallas.

As a member of Ivy League championship football teams in his junior and senior years at Yale and a parent of two Yalies, Barnett has no trouble choosing sides for “The Game” in November. And he knows how important fighting all the way to the end is. On his last play from scrimmage, in the waning minutes of The Game on Nov. 22, 1980, he recovered a Crimson fumble.

Yale won, 14-0.