30 May 2011
Votes need to conduct business (quorum) - a majority of seats currently filled by elected, living members.
Votes to pass a bill - a majority of members present for the vote.
Votes needed to end a filibuster (Cloture Vote) - 3/5 of the full Senate, i.e. of seats not vacant. Remember, the filibuster only exists in the Senate.
Votes needed to confirm a Presidential Appointee - majority of members present for the vote. Remember, only the Senate as confirmation power.
Votes needed to ratify a treaty - 2/3 of Senators present. Remember, only the Senate has ratification power.
Votes needed to convict and remove - 2/3 of Senators present. Remember, the House, by a simple majority, begins this process by impeaching the person.
Votes needed to override a veto - 2/3 of Senators present (House of Representatives are also needed).
Votes needed to propose an Amendment to the Constitution - 2/3 of member present. (House must also vote).
18 May 2011
Students in my Conversation and Presentation Skills for Lawyers course just finished a moot court exercise. For those of you not familiar with mooting, the exercise is essentially modeled on an appellate court proceeding. As I point out to students, these oral arguments in real life give appellate judges the opportunity to ask questions they may have on points of law, but more specifically it gives judges the opportunity to think about how their decision might impact future cases. As I like to point out to students, many of the questions asked by Supreme Court Justices during oral arguments are hypothetical in nature for the very reason that they are struggling with trying to determine how a particular rule they develop could be used in the future. But how important are these oral arguments? After all, both parties submit detailed legal briefs outlining their legal arguments. One sitting Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, has famously not asked a question during oral arguments for several years now. His position, apparently, is that these oral arguments aren't worth very much. Now it appears that at least one other Justice feels the same way.
17 May 2011
09 May 2011
08 May 2011
Experts say trials are won and lost in jury selection.The rest of the story and the video are worth your time if you are interested in getting a better look at jury selection in high profile cases.
This is why an entire jury-consulting industry is devoted to reading the body language of would-be jurors, profiling them based on personal characteristics and learning as much as possible about these individuals to sift out the "dangerous jurors."