Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Second Amendment--Prying The Gun From Your Cold Dead Hand



The Second Amendment to the US Constitution provides that:  A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Sitting around with the geezers this morning, my pal Ken was relating the story of his time in the great college town that he and I attended as undergraduates.  There is a great old time dive there where one afternoon he was warming a bar stool while engaging in the reverse alchemy of turning wine into water, awaiting artistic inspiration.  Suddenly there was a "loud pop."  Let's let Ken tell the res of the tale:  "...so we all thought it was a tail pipe or something outside.  We just kept drinking and BS-ing, one of the guys at the bar got up and went to the men's room.  When he came out, he asked the bartender to call an ambulance, he had shot himself in the ass with a gun that he had in his pocket."


The major controversy over the "right to bear arms" has been whether or not the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to have guns or a collective right of "militias" to have guns.  In my career as a Bad Lawyer my second amendment experience is limited to friends who are more interested in the subject than I am.  As far as I'm concerned it makes a lot more sense to view the Gun right as a collective privileged arising in the same context as the third amendment rights--quick without looking what is your third amendment right?   These are revolutionary-era protections for citizens vis-a-vis the King, and his armies.  The King can't march into your village and take your homes, and your militia's (police officers') guns.  


But far be it for me to say the Government can take away your right to shoot yourself in the ass in a public place.  






Thursday, October 29, 2009

Orly's Other BS Lawsuit Tossed!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/29/orly-taitz-lawsuit-thrown_n_338870.html

I Was a Sick Lawyer


I was (am) a sick lawyer and I concluded alcohol significantly contributed if not caused my sickness.  My drinking during my adult years--you know, who the fuck knows, I can't trust my memory because it is so shaped my wish to see myself a certain way--in fact, if you've been reading this blog and I've said anything self-aggrandizing feel free to ignore it as pure unadulterated bullshit.  I'm no less an addict than anyone else I've talked about in this blog--I'm just still here and able to string these words together.

From the time I was a kid, I was interested in alcohol and the effects on grown ups.  When I was in the Army I pretty much avoided trouble with booze because I was a pussy, a quitter.  It's probably the reason I don't drink now--I'm a total quitter, a chickenshit.  When I couldn't keep my bile down, when I had the anxiety attacks (dt's?) I had to do something to stop the psychic pain, so I quit drinking.  While my alcoholic drinking lasted for 4 years into the early years of my law career it was enough for me.

Drinking itself as I've said here before, is just a symptom of the larger mental illness.  The sickness: the self-absorption, grandiosity, oversensitivity and undermining that I'm still grappling with twenty-three years later--relieve me of the burden of self.  Seriously, what a pantload I am.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sick Lawyers

https://www.iardc.org/09CH0068CM.html  If the charges contained in the complaint of the Illinois Bar complaint are true, Deron Baker Elliott is a very sick lawyer.  According to the Bar complaint this lawyer has on several occasions engaged in racist verbal attacks on others in the community.  It is reported that attorney Elliott assaulted a police officer as part of a wild incident in which he verbally berated African-Americans and Jewish citizens.  In another incident Elliott referred to an Asian police official as "Detective Chairman."

It's not too difficult to appreciate the underpinnings of racism, recognizing that it underlies so much of what we all do and say, not excluding myself.  I recognize that as we try to explain the world to ourselves we include or exclude ourselves based on differences that we perceive.  If I'm uncomfortable I focus on the differences of others around me;  if I'm comfortable, I search our our similarities--is this it?  Aggressive and assaultive racism, in other words that behavior that excludes others through attitudes, words or violence--that, my Mother taught me was sin.  Wrong.  And my life experiences teaches me that racism is not only wrong but profoundly stupid.  What does racism contribute to my peace of mind or yours?

So when I read about Deron Baker Eliott, I conclude that he is not just racist, he is sick.  He is a very sick lawyer.  What's surprising to me is that Elliott made it through the process of being admitted to law school, admitted to take the bar exam, and admitted to practice with the attitudes that he holds.  That is why I've concluded that this lawyer is sick, clearly I'm just speculating but it certainly sounds to me like someone with an organic mental illness, like schizophrenia.

In my career, I worked for one profoundly (alcoholic and) racist lawyer.  During law school I clerked (filing legal papers, drafting legal documents, and writing briefs) with a small group of personal injury lawyers.  The most successful of these lawyers, Ronnie P had reached such prominence that he ran for Congress as the republican candidate, losing  in a heavily democratic district.  By repute, Ronnie P  was a brilliant businessman--I have my doubts.


Ronnie P's personal injury practice was based on advertising directly to African-Americans via Urban-format radio well before the era of widespread lawyer advertising. I did not know until late in my stay at this office, but Ronnie issued orders to his secretaries to clear the waiting room of black clients when business clients were due to visit and pass through the lobby.  Ronnie P. believed that Blacks people were "animals" interested in one thing, money that they could bleed from the system.

Ronnie P's racism became manifest as his drinking problem became more and more evident over time.  Shortly before I left this office as part of a revolt against Ronnie by all the other lawyers in the suite--Ronnie stumbled drunkenly into an office after lunch. I was interviewing two mature black ladies-clients who had had previous dealings with him.  One of the black ladies trying to be social with him asked Ronnie, Ronnie's opinion of mixed raced dating. This disgusting, mentally ill drunk uttered something so crude and vile, that today I count it as the most racist thing I ever heard one person say to another.

Within ten years, Ronnie P died a raving wet-brained maniac.

Dr. Thompson testifies!

http://www.velonews.com/article/99644/dr-thompson-takes-the-stand-in-his-trial-on-assault-charges

This is the LA doctor who assaulted the cyclists "to teach them a lesson."

The cyclists involved had GPS units mounted on their handlebars.  The data from the GPS units show that when the doctor overtook the cyclists and "brake tested" them--the bikes were going 25-29 mph.  Trying to stop a bicycle going this fast is impossible when a car pulls in front of you and stops.  One of the cyclists was thrown into the doctor's rear window and his nose was severed.  I have the picture but I'll spare you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Snyderman: the Movie


Ego and Greed!   http://www.snyderwins.com/  A lawyer so narcissistic his website has an animated cartoon featuring, who else, the lawyer as a superhero.

Newspapers Suck!

Bloomberg Business reported that newspapers, nationally suffered broad-based circulation losses, see:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=a3zVFwU3wo7A

Let's face it, newspaper retrenchment has not reached a bottom largely because NEWSPAPERS SUCK.  Don't get me wrong, I love reading the NYT, and occasionally I find Our Home Town Newspaper amusing and edifying as when our fashion columnist spent two columns of space describing her husband's desire to wear a bicycle cap a la Wesley Snipes in White Men Can's Jump..  At least at the Times there are genuinely talented journos, and amazing writers across disciplines and sciences.  As it relates to the law: Linda Greenhouse and Adam Liptak are brilliant.  The Times (and the Wall Street Journal are) exceptions to the rule.  Even at the local press, including ours, there are journalists and editors who are principled, talented and committed professionals.  Unfortunately, and for years, no decades, the bulk of the product passing as a newspaper in Our Home Town sucked.  It covered real news, barely, and while corruption in local and state government flourished, the newspaper, it's editors, and its journalists were clueless--no, worse than clueless,  Our Home Town Newless Paper, endorsed the very crooks and demagogues that today's scandals fuel their headlines.

In my opinion one of the real failures of the local press was their unwillingness and inability to appreciate and understand the complexities of criminal and civil law.  Oh sure they'd run a picture of Judge Italianname or Judge Irishname or Judge Menses-Insanity throwing the book at some poor shmuck without any explanation of jail-prison overcrowding, crooked law enforcement deals, bad policing, and horrible judicial work.  The failure of newspaper legal coverage is directly attributable to to not hiring lawyer-journalists to cover the law beats and the sheer laziness of the journalists and editors who were responsible for the coverage to invest in the job of telling the readership what they needed to know.   Why hire an experienced lawyer to tell you what the hell is going on in the Justice Palace when the sports writer will do just as well?

Look, let me say it again--there are many exceptions (in fact during the Catholic Child Sex Abuse Scandals there were at least four local journalists who took the time to invest in telling the history and providing the legal context to the underlying story, but)--to the general rule.  Too often important stories that directly effected the lives of the people are completely ignored by the journalists and editors too disengaged to tell important stories that make waves, that matter to you and me. The courts, the law, civil and criminal law relates to the THIRD BRANCH of government--the we-the-people branch of government and the local newspaper did not bother to cover what directly impacted you and me.  Frankly, court coverage is one of the most direct areas of interface for the community, you wouldn't know it by what passes as "news."

So if the newspaper doesn't cover what absolutely matters to you and me, if it isn't a resource for what counts in our lives, if it doesn't explain who, what, when, and why to us--why should we bother to buy the paper?  There's no mystery why their circulation numbers are in the toilet, the Newspapers sucked at what they did--surprise, surprise when something better came along, the readership was gone.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Good News, The French Have Found a Pedophile They Dislike!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091026/wl_nm/us_france_castration

Francis Evard, 62--a Frenchman who spent nearly half his life behind bars for molesting children is let out only to show his gratitude by kidnapping and raping a little boy.  Sacre Bleu! the French are pissed, at Evard.  Apparently Evard has no artistic or other creative abilities in order to qualify for immediate release and the adulation of the elite intelligentsia.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why I hate cops!




http://rawstory.com/2009/10/dallas-police-issued-traffic-tickets-speaking-english/

Let's face it.  Cops can be bullies.  The sort of personality that finds its Badass-way into policing often turns out to be the sort of personality that loves to exercise police power.  


I'll never forget the first revelation of this truism when as a young worker downtown I watched a police officer doing impromptu traffic detail decide that we drivers weren't proceeding the way he wanted us to down a narrow street--so, in addition to screaming at us to move this way or that--when I didn't move with the appropriate alacrity he pounded on the hood of my car.  I was stunned.  


Then there is this guy:



In Our Hometown there is a notorious cop, Jimmy Shootem.  Shootem has killed five criminal suspects over the years. The last Shootem victim being an unarmed bank robbery suspect that Shootem chased down the street and shot from the window of a civilian car, that Shootem commandeered in order to pursue this stupid bastard.  Amazingly, only 5 people have died at the hands of Shootem who's found reason to discharge his gun at another eleven suspects.  A local columnist for Your Hometown Newspaper had the termerity to suggest that just perhaps Shootem was a little excessive and the hue and cry nearly cost her, her job.  The columnist asked, what would you call someone who has killed 5 people over the years who was not a cop--she said a serial killer.  In Shootem's case, considering how many times he's missed suspects that he's shot at: I said, a bad shot.


In addition to being a menace to public safety, Shootem is also a bully.  He patrols an area of town just west of the downtown in a market district where hipsters are trying to rehab dilapidated storefronts.  Shootem likes to ticket cars that don't park perfectly in front of these businesses, and in the case of my client, a motor scooter business.   Shootem was issuing tickets ot the businessmen for "sidewalk obstruction" when customers parked their scooters and other vehicles on the double-wide sidewalk in front of the various stores.  My client protested the ticket he received and was arrested for "carrying a concealed weapon" when Shootem noticed a pair of "Leatherman multi-pliers" in a canvas case on this Motor Scooter Shop Owner's belt.  The pliers had a small utility knife folded up in the plier handle.  The arrest was recorded on a dashcam.  The retailer asked Shootem why he harassed business people saying to Shoooter, "if your Dad was a businessman trying to do business in this neighborhood would you give him a ticket..."  Shootem went nuts.  He told the business man to shut up and said, "How would you like it if I called your mother a whore?"


At least Shootem didn't kill the business man.  Fortunately for the Motor Scooter shop dealer the Judge who heard the case had seen enough of Officer Shootem over the years and threw the case out of court.   Still the arrest and prosecution lasted six months and cost this client endless time in the Halls of our Justice Palace.


But Shootem is a local hero.  In the minds of citizenry Jimmy Shootem is a bastion against lawlessness--forget innocent until proven guilty.  This insane bully gets away--well, let's leave it at manslaughter.  Jimmy Shootem has his own Facebook page (with lots of fans) and a Wikipedia entry.  Awesome!  And you thought popular fascism was dead in America, not a chance.  

When the Jury acquits . . .

When the Jury finds your client not guilty, leave well enough alone!  Don’t poll the jury!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Drunk Lawyers


Lawyers are required as a part of licensure to attend continuing legal education and report attendance of at least 24 hours including several hours of alcohol and substance abuse classes. These sessions are usually followed by cocktails. I saw this video and parts 2 through 4 at a seminar. As funny as it is, on one level, it causes me no end of pain.


When I started drinking, it had nothing to do with stress--but, the drinking sure caused a lot of stress. Unlike the lawyer in the video, I never figured out how to get my drunk ass back into the courtroom. I had to quit drinking just to function, not only as a lawyer but also as a human being--which I did 23 years ago. Alcoholism is a mental illness, one symptom of which is the physical and mental compulsion to drink too much.

I'm grateful that I don't have alcohol to blame for being a Bad Lawyer. Like you, I'm sure, I've seen too many lives destroyed, too many children harmed, too many good minds wasted by alcohol and drugs.


My friend Carter was a brilliant lost soul. Like me, ethnically: trailer-white-trash--like me he pulled himself out of the cultural and family limitations and put himself through college and law school. He claimed his father (long dead from a drug overdose) was a jazz drummer for a early version of the Dave Brubeck quartet. Carter's mother abandoned him to relatives, who found him unmanageable put him in an orphanage. I met Carter at Big State University--Carter was my graduate assistant instructor in Philosophy. He was just so full of shit--one of those communist-poseurs that you met on campuses in the late Viet Nam War era. Hindsight tells me that a lot of those guys were using antiwar activism as a way to get high and get laid.

I saw Carter again many years after college in Our Big City. It had become pretty evident to me that getting sober was a pretty good plan of action consequently I was attending AA lunch meetings with a lot of other professionals at a downtown church. One afternoon a senior-guy that I looked up to approached and asked me to "sponsor" Carter--that was nearly 20 years ago. Against all odds Carter put together long periods of sobriety; off and on we practiced law together. In the last few years of his life we became pretty close. Carter wanted what he thought I had: a house, wife, brats, things that seemed "normal." Both Carter and his fiancée, were struggling with relapse, I did not know. Which goes to show how powerful the disease is--how did I not know, HOW? I knew he was sick but I thought it was heart disease, smoking, diabetes,--then I knew he was relapsing. One afternoon several years ago while Carter was recuperating from heart surgery I got a call that a neighbor who found him dead. He died of a heroin overdose. I miss him so much.

Carter had many wonderful observations that prove true in my own life. He used to tell the story of the two Bar Flies, sitting side-by-side at the bar, one turned to the other saying: "I think you shit your pants," the other without moving from the barstool, says, "yeah, I know," the first Bar Fly says, "why don't you go into the bathroom and clean up," his friend says, "I'm not through, yet." Carter said that you reach your bottom long before you yourself will admit it, you choose to keep going down. I wish it were that simple.

I miss you, Carter.


Friday, October 23, 2009

In other News, LA Cyclist Road Rage Trial, Continues. . .



I updated from the road, yesterday in the comments section of the earlier post about this case. The pic shows the back of the LA doctor's car.  The car that the doctor used as a weapon "to teach the [cyclists] a lesson," as described by the traffic accident scene investigator at the trial in Los Angeles, see http://www.velonews.com/article/99513/-i-want-to-teach-them-a-lesson---road-rage-trial-resumes.

Where do we get off, "teaching" others a lesson?

How is it that we lose what it means to be a good and decent person, neighbor, friend, parent, professional?  What process occurs in our individual and collective brains that tells us we have some sort of obligation to use a two ton automobile to "teach a lesson?"  How do we go from the Hippocratic Oath to a motorized monster?

Likewise, how does a parent forget to love and care for their precious child, so that the parent not only permits to the child to be raped by a relative, but in turned blamed by the adult/parent for the injury?

In my sordid career I encountered, again and again, victims of childhood sexual violence blamed by his or her parents; and, worse, blamed by the authorities, the Church for the crimes of others.  How in God's name does the child go from being the blessing in your, our arms, to the discard pile in favor of the rapist, the relative, the priest?  You see, I think, we all understand the outrage of the cycling community over an arrogant, narcissistic doctor in his luxury car intentionally driving in front of road cyclists and then brake -esting the cyclists in a way that one of the rider's loses his nose when thrown head first into the car's rear window--but, it's a harder case when we deal with the spiritual murder of children.

Bongwater?

What is this bongwater, substance?  How much of it does one have to drink to get drunk?
http://www.twincities.com/ci_13617920?source=most_viewed

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On the Road Thursday

'Still practicing law (haven't got it right, yet.)

On the Road Thursday!

Justice for Cyclists, Damnit!

http://www.velonews.com/article/99475/defense-attorney-cross-examines-cyclists-in-la-road-rage

I've been hit twice while cycling and this last year assaulted by a driver who roared ahead of me on the parkway and pulled sideways across the road surface blocking the lane of travel. The Park Rangers got him.

The details in the velonews report are chilling.

Fly Brains and Memory of Abuse, Part One


Yuck, Fly Brains!

The New York Times, Science Tuesday reported yesterday that: Researchers had implanted memories of trauma in the Brains of Fruit Flies, see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/science/20fly.html?_r=1&ref=science. Ouch!

The nineteen-nineties featured a forensic debate about something labeled the “false memory syndrome”of FMS a pseudo-scientific invention of Peter J. Freyd, whose daughter had accused him of raping her when she was a child. Self-appointed memory experts like Elizabeth Loftus and Richard Ofshe ran around the country making a lot of money as “experts” advancing the non-scientific notion of memory implantation in the defense of lawsuits by brought by victims of child sex abuse. Wikipedia has a pretty good summary at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_memory_syndrome. Note, the adherents of the invented FMS are still at it--for a long time I received a newsletter from Freyd’s FMS foundation that operated a rapid response operation not letting any television or news report go unchallenged from their perspective, just check the “discussion” page at Wikipedia.

What’s involved?

Well, it doesn’t take a scholar of human behavior to see that adults frequently sexually exploit children. Can you say ROMAN POLANSKI? And surprise, surprise; normally credible people will leap to the defense of the adult! As this plays out in the family context can utterly blow your mind. The raped child is the perpetrator, the raped child is making it up—in more than one deposition I’ve taken over the years I’ve had family members who knew it was happening to a sister/daughter/grandchild/niece/cousin—tell me that the child “wanted it.”

Thank God for Roman Polanski because he illustrates an important point: crimes against children are not limited by social class, education, ethnicity, race, economics, or culture. Children have always been sexualized by adults, the evidence of which runs 24 hours a day on your television, the movies and advertising for clothes, cosmetics, and many categories of consumer goods.

So what is the context of the debate? Equally absurd is the forensic advancement of “repressed memory” –of which I have been labeled a primary proponent in the local and national press. While I believe repressed memory is a real psychological phenomena its use in court is ridiculous and to my mind fairly discredited. Repressed memory is the unconscious forgetting of past trauma. For instance, a victim of rape or violence does not remember the rape or the violence. Huh? How? Precisely, how does a person completely forget that they were raped or a victim of some traumatic violence? And why is this significant?

Well I don’t think the idea of that a victim of violence psychologically wants to forget the violence is all that difficult a concept to wrap your mind around, but how does this happen unconsciously?

Scientists who study this theorize that the brain can organically rewire perceptions of violent injury so that the victim can continue to function despite such horrors. There is considerable statistical evidence for the existence of this phenomena and I will discuss it again in this BLAWG at length—but for the time being let me illustrate the point. I personally had an accident where I fell from a cliff at a State Park. I fell, rolled, and tumbled some 200 feet down a steep ravine. While I knew this had happened, I could not explain the mechanism of the fall—for four years after the accident my memory of the moments immediately before the fall that would explain to me why the fall occurred were totally inaccessible to me. I’ve seen the same thing repeatedly over the years in litigation involving serious injury, the victim of the car, motorcycle; industrial accident is routinely unable to relate the details of what happened. How many times have you heard someone give an account of a violent accident saying I was driving along then the next thing I was waking up in a hospital bed—repressed memory.

Ok, I don’t want to go too long—let’s keep this entry at a readable length—repressed memory is important, forensically, because courts have held that civil and criminal prosecutions can proceed years after the period when a statute of limitations has expired if the victim did not discover the fact of their injury until they recovered their memory. You see? Repressed memory is also called “recovered memory” and the bane of Peter Freyd and the False Memory Syndrome proponents. They argue that repressed or as they call them recovered memories are "implanted" memories like the biologists are doing to the fruit flies. More on this topic

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Texas Govenor Supports Abolishing the Death Peanlty

No, it wasn't that asshole, Rick Perry--but see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/us/20texas.html?_r=1

Get this, former Governor White thinks there might just be a little problem with putting innocent people to death. Wow. No shit.

Criminal Sentencing and Other Hoaxes (Balloon/Attic Boy)


North Carolina’s Supreme Court handed down a decision last Thursday holding that life is no more than 80 years. As a result, 20 North Carolinian “lifers” are being released from prison. Among this stellar cohort are a bunch of killers, rapists, and at least one repeat child rape-r. See: http://www.thesunnews.com/564/story/1118300.html?storylink=mirelated

You gotta know there are some pretty unhappy politicians in North Carolina. These witless bastards are going to be pointing fingers at one another like crazy. Let’s watch how long it takes those hillbillies in the legislature to enact laws designed to give inmates Life + infinity (at least for Supreme Court Justices.) Last time I checked prison inmates have the political juice of about . . . , let’s see what number is less than zero?

And I’d be remiss in not remarking on Balloon Boy, or as I call him: Attic Boy. Last week I was waiting for one of my brats at the end of school when my pal Chris called to ask if I was hearing this “breaking” story. I had momentarily flipped across CNN where I heard the normally rational Rick Sanchez’s maudlin reporting of the presumed-child-in-the-balloon story. Sanchez said something like how as “a Dad” his heart was breaking and he just wanted to reach through the camera and put his hand out, God-like, to bring the balloon and baby boy safely to earth. I imagine Sanchez is squirming with embarrassment. Maybe not. After all Sanchez, Blitzer, Larry King, et al., are all media whores, and this Balloon story was a media whore orgy. All of them, the participants, the Sheriff, the reporters, well, not us, we the public, are just the Johns.

It seems to me that all of this began with OJ. Oh, sure there have been many precursors ,—little kids stuck in wells, but we didn’t go Wall-to-Wall insane until OJ—when the mainstream media realized it could get ratings showing a slow speed chase of a white Ford Explorer. The trivial was elevated to newsworthiness. The Kennedy and MLK assassinations received nothing like this sort of coverage. The difference in my opinion is related to two changes: cable news and the adoption of tabloid values by “journalists” who think they need to feed the beast. I know, Bad Lawyer thinks he's a big media critic; hardly an original insight, but true nonetheless.

Whatever the causes the net effect is that what is said on cable news, and in court is less honest, and less rigorous than when the original law givers came up with “life” sentences that only last 80 years and the news had real journalists who gave a shit about the accuracy and relevance of what came out of their mouths.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Attorney Fees-Greed Heads-Part One

A number of years ago a lawyer friend of mine told a another lawyer to consult me about a child sex abuse case, an area of law I pioneered in Our State. This young lawyer, who I will call K asked me to meet with her, I did and I shared my insights into representing victims of child sex abuse. I provided K with the names of expert witnesses and I made other suggestions. That was the end of my dealings with her.

Years later I was approached by a young man, John, who provided me with convincing evidence that his step father had raped him for a period of years throughout his childhood. John had turned 18, nine months earlier (this is significant because it meant time was running to take legal action)—John was represented in a civil claim against his step father by attorney K. K had informed John that if she could not work out a settlement with John’s step father on John’s claim she would not file a lawsuit on John’s behalf. K obtained an offer of $45,000 payable in installments over ten years. John rejected the proposed settlement which also contained other unacceptable terms and conditions. He discharged K, and hired me.

John’s rights were about to expire, as I’ve said before Our State has a highly restrictive statute of limitations. John had to bring his lawsuit within 1 year of his 18th birthday. After John retained me I prepared a lawsuit and delivered it to step father's counsel with an indication that the lawsuit would be filed in two weeks. Within the two week period that I set out as a time frame I settled John’s lawsuit for $150,000 payable immediately.

After the case settled and the money received, John authorized me to pay K an attorney fee of $2,500; despite the fact that Our State law entitled her to nothing, since her contract with John was "contingent" on her reaching a settlement or other agreed outcome on his behalf.

Nearly two years to the date of this transaction, K sued me. K did not sue John, the former client that had a contract with K—no, K sued me.

Here’s the rub, K wanted to intimidate me, so instead of using traditional “service” of process methods like asking the court clerk to mail the lawsuit to me, she pulled shit like trying to serve me personally and multiple mailings none of which went to my actual mailing address—the result was that the Judge assigned to the case began to proceed against me under the impression that K’s complaint had actually been served on me as provided by law. Ultimately, the Judge entered a “default judgment” against me. Despite my efforts to file an answer, Judge B, refused to vacate the default judgment and over the course of six months held three separate “trials” on the question of damages. One of these trials was held on Christmas Eve of last year—Merry Christmas.

Judge B, is a menopausal nut—but, Judge B does respect the law. Despite Judge B’s enmity for me (Judge B and I have history going back to a pretty nasty dispute decades earlier involving neighbors who were trying to kill one another, when Judge B was a private practitioner), Judge B could not figure out how K was entitled to payment of anything . Judge B repeatedly demanded that K, or her associate produce one citation to authority (case law, statutory law, anything) entitling K to payment of attorney fees versus the lawyer who earned the fees in subsequent successful representation of a former client. Even for Judge B, this was a forehead slapper, D’oh! Judge B ultimately entered judgment for me.

Today, after delay and delay and delay, I received K’s appeal brief. Yes, K appealed. I just read K’s brief, it is pathetic. Since this is Year Two of K’s attempt to collect attorney fees from me I thought perhaps there was some change in the law (a pending court case that would have precedental import) coming down the pipe that would provide authority for the proposition that she was somehow entitled to payment of fees. Nah. K’s brief consists of the following arguments: “I got default judgment how come I didn’t get any money!”

Aaaarrrrrrggggghghhhhhhhhh!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bad, Bad Lawyer


http://www.billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_5321417a-bada-11de-965f-001cc4c03286.html

Read this and weep. I know none of the participants, but boy-oh-boy do I feel for them.

A lawyer acquaintance of mine cornered me at a birthday party last year and related how he had represented a client in a case that did not turn out well. My friend/the lawyer had agreed to bring a lawsuit arising out of a failed commercial real estate deal. The client thought he was entitled to $300,000 from the defendant. As of the birthday party, his lawyer had so bollixed the representation that both the client and my friend-the lawyer were on the hook for nearly $700,000 on a counterclaim, attorney fees, interest and sanctions. The most remarkable aspect of this—was that the my friend-lawyer would own up to this disaster in public at a social occasion. A head slapper.

Things can go seriously awry, fast. Bad, bad lawyer!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shepard Fairey Lied


Who is Shepard Fairey? Fairey is the artist that designed the famous poster to the left. He's also the guy who created the "Andre the Giant" handbill that commands you to "Obey" and is papered all over the city light posts, bridge abutments, etc.

There is an ongoing copyright dispute between the Associated Press, its photographer, and Mr. Fairey concerning the "HOPE" Obama image which Fairey developed from an AP photo. I may or may not get into the issues relating to the intellectual property disputes underlying the copyright lawsuit between Fairey, the photographer and the AP--it is very compelling. I have followed the case. Terry Gross (one of the world's great interviewers) had the AP photographer, Shepard Fairey, as well as a copyright expert on her Fresh Air program, to air out the issues--check the NPR archives to hear it for yourself. I know less about intellectual property law than I do, even about family law (bleaaah!), but I know more than the lay person--so, let's revisit the subject at another time.

What has my attention is that yesterday Shepard Fairey admitted that during the litigation, he lied. See, link: http://www.eandppub.com/2009/10/surprising-developments-in-shepard-fairey-vs-ap-case.html. Not only does he admit that he lied, he admits he destroyed evidence and manufactured other evidence. Wow.

Generally speaking, litigant lying, perjury, spoliation of evidence is pretty heavy-shit. A local physician was up on malpractice charges. The doctor was the scion of one of our Home Town's wealthiest industrialist families--the arrogant bastard destroyed evidence of his medical malpractice and was caught out during the litigation because nursing staff kept copies of the original records. Not only did the jury hit him with a compensatory damages verdict, the punitive damages verdict for many millions of dollars was the largest verdict in local history up to that time. Moral: don't screw with the facts, the facts are the facts.

When I was a baby Bad Lawyer my closest friend was a young accountant. He, his senior partner, and their small business CPA firm were sued by the owner of a regional record retailer that had collapsed after financial irregularities surfaced that were undetected by my friend's accounting firm despite an audit. The record retailer's controller created the appearance of robust financial health by manipulating an aspect of inventory. The auditors should have visually confirmed the existence of these items but instead took the controller's/wrongdoer's verbal representation. Mistake. Malpractice.

No problem, my pal's firm had malpractice insurance, but my pal made a mistake that haunted his conscience. My friend lied during the deposition that the record retailer's attorney took in preparation for trial. My friend testified that he and his auditors had visually verified the existence of accounting items, that the company comptroller only verbally confirmed existed.

The malpractice case had not come to trial, and my pal was afraid. His senior partner, a real shit--was using my friend's mistake against him in their dealings and disaster loomed. What to do?

We looked at the procedural rules, depositions are governed by Rule 30 of Our Home State Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule permits persons to review transcripts of the the things they said under oath and change the testimony: yes to no, no to yes, add testimony, take away testimony, change anything. The caveat to this provision is that the person making the changes to his or her testimony is required set out the reason for any change, and submit to reexamination. Again this rule applies only if the attorney who took the deposition order the transcript of the discovery deposition. The record company's attorney did not order the transcript, but we amended the testimony anyway.

When my friend's case went to trial he and his firm was represented by one of Our Town's legendary civil litigators (not me, I was a spectator.) The defense was based on the idea previously explored, in the Bad Lawyer blog, that negligence requires proof of damages caused by the breach of the duty of care--consequently, the defense conceded the malpractice by my client and his firm (in effect admitting that the accountants did not visually verify inventory items that the company comptroller said existed)--but, denying that their audit mistake caused the collapse of the retailer. The defense, instead let the retailer demonstrate how out of touch he was with his business operation and employees. The jury returned a unanimous verdict for my friend, his partner and their accounting firm. Amazingly, my friend and his senior partner were able to survive this trauma, their accounting firm continued, and today, he is the sole owner, and one of Our Town's most respected accounting and financial authorities. My pal accomplished this, because he is honest and he is decent. I remain very proud of him.

Recently I successfully concluded the defense of a manufacturing company. During the discovery phase I deposed the plaintiff, and I ordered the transcript for my trial preparation and I directed it to be filed with the court. In the mail some weeks after the deposition I received a large stack of transcript "changes." In fact there were 24 separate changes to the testimony--it turns out that the Plaintiff's mother had inserted herself into the plaintiff's claim and lawsuit and she reviewed her son's testimony, sand she submitted the extensive changes over his signature. While none of the deposition changes were important, the fact that the mother involved herself so directly in her 31 year old adult son's injury claim led to a line of inquiry that resulted in developing facts that led directly to the dismissal of the lawsuit with prejudice by the court.. The mother's manipulation of the facts and evidence destroyed her son's claim, a claim valued by his attorney at $200,000 and which my client offered $40,000 to settle--now worth: $0.

Honesty in litigation is the only way the system can possibly work. Shepard Fairey has by his own admission destroyed the principle he purported to represent. By lying. Shame.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Texas Death Penalty Follies, continued.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/6338320/Texas-man-faces-execution-after-jurors-consult-Bible-to-decide-fate.html

and, accessory-to-the-murder of Cameron Todd Willingham/monster: Gov. Rick Perry

Bad Lawyers and Good Lawyers

Yesterday, I had lunch with my dear pal, Chris. Chris and I are brothers from different mothers, and we are at similar points in our trajectories personally and professionally. Poor Chris.

Chris has professional experience in IT and PR. When I started my blog I asked for Chris' help in publicizing it and he has hesitated because he says I’m not a Bad Lawyer. In response I sued him. OK, I didn’t sue him, but I insisted that he was mistaken. Chris still hasn't done shiat, I think he wants "crates of money." Hah, he's out of luck.

Also, yesterday that the Supremes of Our State suspended a lawyer of my acquaintance for backdating and notarizing some documents out of sight of the signatory. While I don’t condone such an act, it is absolutely wrong—this was the lawyer’s first offense in 47 years of practice. This is a demonstrably good lawyer who made a no harm/no foul/no injury one time mistake—he will now be suspended. This African/American lawyer provided affordable legal services to a disadvantaged community. This attorney's name is now permanently sullied. Good lawyer or bad lawyer?

I believe I previously mentioned the Judge here in Your Home Town who is up on disciplinary charges because he demanded that a criminal defendant appearing in front of him, cease and desist witness intimidation. The Judge immediately recused himself from further proceedings in the case. This same judge, a graduate of one of the Vatican’s great boy’s preparatory high schools , here in Your Hometown, went after the Bishop and the Bishop’s cronies for gaming the elected officials of Your State during the child sex abuse scandal. Disciplinary counsel is going great guns after the Judge because at the Hometown Law School conference the same Judge had the temerity to criticize the disciplinary counsel's focus on "low-hanging fruit" in the selection of lawyers to persecute, er, prosecute. Good Lawyer or Bad Lawyer?

There really are no good excuses for the mistakes and wrongs committed by Bad Lawyers like myself. We should always make it to court on time, have all of our documents in pristine order, give only perfect advice, win all of our cases, timely file all of our business records, especially our taxes; and, always make sure our bills are timely paid. Anything less—well, the lawyers on Our State’s payroll just won’t tolerate our lack of ethics. The Supremes with their massive private sector experience (in major law firms with marble foyers, silver service, and expense accounts) won’t understand. And Bad Lawyers will be immortalized in the pages of the Bar Journals and if we’re really lucky—in Our Hometown newspapers.

All the pro bono services; all the public service; all the speaking out for the poor, the cowering victims, the individual against the power and majesty of the courts and law; all the professional development and mentoring of other lawyers--none of that can compare with the honor of being a Bad Lawyer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Personal Liberty, Part deux

I was reading in our Hometown newspaper, the other day, that Our State has been quietly repealing school safety inspection rules. These rules were well-intentioned and related to important things like the depth of the spill basin on the water fountains. Apparently, enforcement of these regulations was cumbersome and the learned farmers downstate, er, legislators have been canceling the rules.

In the realm of safety, I don't believe that one can make absolute rules--if anyone reads this blog and disagrees, feel free to say so--but, the other day the geezer geniuses and moi--were debating just this idea in the context of the ban on public smoking. Apparently, even the home of Big Tobacco, Virginia has enacted a public smoking ban. I became a Bad Lawyer in the era when there were still ashtrays on elevators and the righteously offended person was the smoker who got the evil eye from some Old Broad on oxygen. We smoked on public transit, and not just cigarettes, if you know what I mean. So the world has changed and as an ex-smoker, I'm glad. I don't miss public smoking one little bit--and, yesterday morning I vigorously defended the smoking ban; let's face it, you really can't separate smokers from non-smokers in a public place. And really, smoke is carcinogenic--can we justify asbestos ceilings in designated areas of a public places?

If I haven't talked about it here, and I'm pretty sure I have--I'm an amateur road cyclist. It's something I've done on and off for many years. I wear a helmet largely because personal experience--entanglements with enraged drivers tells me that wearing a helmet might keep me off life support. A particularly bad fall in the Spring, sent me sideways into a chain linked fence head first, so I choose to wear one. Likewise, I rode a Vespa for a couple of years without a helmet--go figure? I can't defend the choice, but it is the one that I made. Even today when I ride my more urban, hybrid bicycle around Our Town I wear a baseball cap, not a helmet.

The Aussie videos made me think about the logic and rationale of helmet laws. I'm still pro-helmet--but, I hadn't really thought very deeply about the issue. Mike Rubbo, the Aussie filmmaker makes the point far more magically than I can--at the end of the second video--if you didn't watch it, please do.

Here in Your Hometown I live at a residence located midway between two flashing school zone signs that face away from my house. Directly across the street from my residence is a large parochial school on a wooded campus. The school building is set back at some distance from the curb. Generally, unless my schedule has me in court--I leave the residence at 6:45 am to drink coffee and solve the problems of the world with my Geezer pals. The traffic signals that operate at each intersection framing the city block are "flashing" instead of being fully operational. One morning recently I left later than I usually do. As I pulled on to the apron of the driveway, I looked to my left and saw the rush hour traffic lined up two abreast at the light which was fully operational. Having lived here for twenty-one years I knew I had to "insert" myself into the traffic flow or be an obstacle to this crowd of cars that uses my east-west avenue on its way into the downtown. There were no kids in the neighborhood, yet--no crossing guard at the corner, yet, no parents dropping off children, yet; and, no school buses present, yet. I accelerated out of my drive to the speed limit of 35 mph, and a police cruiser did a gnarly u-turn in front of the oncoming traffic to give me a ticket for violating school zone speed limit. The surly cop assured me as he strutted away from my car that he was "just keeping the kids safe."

One of the most aggravating things in the world for a lawyer is a traffic ticket, either one you receive or a ticket a friend or family member receives. You see, you can be Perry Mason and lose even a properly defended ticket. I have represented--for free (because how can a lawyer justify charging to defend an ordinary traffic ticket?), hundreds of family, friends, and other lawyers over the years. Generally, the local municipal courts will cut some sort of break, reduce the fine, dismiss "points" against your license, reduce charged violations, something to assuage the ticket-ee's outrage. But if you get into a dispute about the actual merits of whether the ticket should have been issued--forget it!

I fought the ticket. The ordinance provides that a person violates the school zone speed limit when driving faster than 20 mph during the time when the school zone lights are flashing and when children are present entering and exiting the building (check your local ordinance, they all say that--most traffic laws are patterned on a uniform laws enacted throughout the United States). At my "trial" which was delayed until a judge could be appointed who was not a personal friend of mine--the police officer testified to the facts, e.g. that I drove faster than 20 mph. I conceded this fact and moved for judgment on the ticket since there was no evidence or testimony that children were present.

After paying the $50 fine and court costs, I'm still pissed.

The court issued a ruling that at the hour I exceeded the 20 mph restriction I should have known that it was a school zone, because I have lived here for twenty-one years, and kids "could have been coming and going" since at the time I left my driveway it was "during the hours when kids come and go." Again, the court expressly noted the need to guarantee the paramount safety of children.

Actually, the only way my driving at 35 mph endangered children was if the police car that did a u-turn in front of the two lanes of oncoming traffic hit one a car full of them, --in the officer's zeal to ticket me.

Are children safer because I was brought to justice? Doubt it. Did my respect and appreciation for the authorities in Our Hometown decrease a little bit? Yes. Have I shared my opinion? Now, I have and I feel a little better--not so pissed.

We tolerate a lot of silliness in the name of safety. Our laws, ordinances and regulations are rife with examples of safety measures that are well-motivated, but ill-conceived, and ill-applied. Too often real solutions to real problems are dealt with on the cheap by enacting and enshrining a rule--as in the example of Sue and the bicycle helmet. We don't see the unintended consequences, we don't quantify the cost or appreciate the negative impact upon the quality of our life or liberty.




Liberty and other worthy ideals


and, Sue goes to Court:


Pardon my dust, I'm not very expert at this--but, I intend to "embed" two videos and I don't quite know if I've been successful.

These charming videos produced by Mike Rubbo an Australian video-maker were posted at the far better blog: BikeSnobNYC yesterday. I was struck by the loveliness of these short films which deal with the larger ideal of personal liberty and the practice of governments to legislate "safety." These videos beautifully illustrate complex ideals and impulses, watch them and we will discuss.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel


Long before Columbine, there was Frank Spisak (see pic), a neo-Nazi and transvestite who murdered three students at Cleveland State University. Spisak was convicted and sentenced to death in Ohio--26 years ago. His lawyer was the brilliant old-time criminal defense lawyer and notorious drunk, Tom Shaughnessy, now deceased.

Shaughnessy, was probably more effective before he drank his lunch, than afterwards--I once saw him eat a police officer alive (before lunch) on cross-examination--while multi-tasking over numerous other matters during the era before cell phones, lap tops and smart phones--in a hectic Cleveland court room. At lunch with him later--he counted wads of cash he collected from relatives of criminal defendants and quaffed prodigious quantities of liquor. He would stumble back to court and continue.

Shaughnessy was trying to save Spisak's life. Shaughnessy had saved the lives of many murderers over the years, but this was a high-profile matter and the press and prosecutor had the big guns out. The trial judge prevented, Shaughnessy from advancing an insanity defense. Shaughnessy, instead, tried to appeal to the better angels among the jury members he said, "when you turn and look at Frank Spisak, don't look for good deeds, because he has done none. Don't look for good thoughts because he has none. He is sick and twisted." Tom Shaughnessy hoped that the jury would find the humanity in themselves to save Spisak's pathetic life. They didn't.

Yesterday the State of Ohio argued that the US Supreme Court should vacate a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that found Spisak received ineffective assistance of counsel. Ohio still wants to kill Spisak.

I knew Tom Shaughnessy, not well, but well enough to suspect that wiley old Tom Shaughnessy actually did save Frank Spisak's life--and, that Shaughnessy "ineffectively" knew precisely what he was doing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Orly Taitz, Rule 11 Sanctions

Orly Taitz, dentist, lawyer, and Birther-movement queen was sanctioned (ordered to pay $20,000. to the US Government in 30 days) by a U.S. Dsitrict Court judge for her frivolous conduct in violation fo Federal Rule 11. Dr. Taitz, a Soviet immigrant, practicing dentist as well as a lawyer has been filing lawsuits attempting to establish that the President of the United States is not a "natural born US citizen" and therefore ineleigible to serve as President of the United States. Dr. Taitz has produced two patent forgeries purporting to be Kenyan birth certificates of the President of the United States.

There is nothing wrong in pursuing controversial casues and in taking daring positions. Even good lawyers risk sanctions from time to time to represent unpopular clients or causes--but shoddy legal work and offering evidence that doesn't meet the smells like merde-test! C'mon, Dr. Taitz isn't a Bad Lawyer, Dr. Taitz is a clown.

Read: http://washingtonindependent.com/63558/orly-taitz-sanctioned-for-20000 --the Court's order can be downloaded at the link.

Some People Get Extra Due Process while Others Get None

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125544222770882429.html The US Supremes will hear Jeffrey Skilling's appeal from his criminal conviction. Skilling, one of Enron's "smartest men in the room" was convicted of 19 counts of financial fraud. He's represented by the great civil lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, best remembered for obtaining something lie a trillion dollar verdict from OJ Simpson in a civil wrongful death action.

While I don't begrudge Skilling his various days in court, compare and contrast with the young woman, Jamie Leigh Jones from KBR who spent 4 years trying to get the merits of her civil claim heard in court http://badlawyernyc.blogspot.com/2009/10/al-franken-gets-to-heart-of-it.html. Or the thousands of rape and child molestation victims here in Our Home State who can't get to court because of a 1 or 2 year statute of limitation that bars their claims agasint the Church. Some people get all the due process, some get none.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ruth Bader Ginsburg--Feminism and the Court


http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-10-07/feminisms-last-line-of-defense/ for lawyers of my generation this Justice will always represent the role of feminism in the law, particularly employment law. Her dissent in the LilyLedbetter case was one of the highlights of the last term and a model of rational reasoning which seems to have taken its leave during the Roberts era.

Gov. Rick Perry, Shame on You!

tp://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/cameron-todd-willingham/2009/10/, and: http://wonkette.com/411563/rick-perry-in-terrible-trouble-over-possible-execution-cover-up

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Astor Trial--Questions

The conviction of Anthony Marshall and his attorney pal, Francis Morrissey in the ransacking of Brooke Astor's estate ends one of the longest trials in recent history, at least for now. One wonders what if any appellate issues arise from such things as the reported jury strife. Check the Wall Stree Journal law blog which contains a further link to the NYT story. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/10/08/breaking-astor-trial-concludes-anthony-marshall-convicted-of-theft/

I confess ignorance about Probate law so here's, my question: okay, Anthony Marshall is a freakin' hump, a worthless, scumbag, and his wife, Charlene a social climbing philistine; 'wasn't this money he was convicted of taking, ultimately his money in the end? Did Marshall just get convicted of stealing his own money? Wasn't he Brooke Astor's sole heir? Did New York just spend millions to prosecute a guy for stealing money he was inevitably going to inherit? Is something misguided about this?

The Lawyer forgery aspect of this is really appalling. Morrissey went to extraordinary lengths to forge codicils. It reminds me of a case from years ago--a bankruptcy lawyer I knew was administering an estate when a lawyer for a debtor contested a claim for some real estate claimed by the trustee. The lawyer produced a deed previously prepared and notarized by the attorney which the attorney claimed had not been filed but which purported to transfer the real estate out of the hands of the debtor years earlier. The only problem was the deed form itself, (yes, back in the old days we used printed forms from Legal Blank companies) bore a publication date of more recent vintage establishing irrebuttable proof of fraud by the lawyer. The lawyer killed himself when the fraud was discovered.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Judicial Temperament



Dahlia Lithwick notes this exchange between 'Nino and Peter Eliasberg, the ACLU attorney arguing the Cross on public lands case at the Supreme Court, yesterday:

[P]eter Eliasberg—the ACLU lawyer whose client objects to crosses on government land—suggests partway through the oral argument that perhaps a controversial World War I memorial might consist of "a statue of a soldier which would honor all of the people who fought for America in World War I and not just the Christians."

"The cross doesn't honor non-Christians who fought in the war?" Scalia asks, stunned.

"A cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity, and it signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins," replies Eliasberg, whose father and grandfather are both Jewish war veterans.

"It's erected as a war memorial!" replies Scalia. "I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead. The cross is the most common symbol of … of … of the resting place of the dead."

Eliasberg dares to correct him: "The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of Christians. I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew."

"I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead the cross honors are the Christian war dead," thunders Scalia. "I think that's an outrageous conclusion!"

Thunders, Scalia!

Remember when Sotomayor was being confirmed right wing lawyers and Senators questioned whether she could exercise judicial temperament. Temperament is the quality in a Judge where the Judge is composed, patient, courteous, and respectful to all. In short, not Scalia. The irony of the right wing attack on Sotomayor is that her critics would take Scalia x 9.

Practicing in a courtroom where the Judge is a bastard is very painful. I can honestly say that in my career I've seen Judges do it rarely--and I've had it happen to me even less often. Frequently, lawyers will complain about this or that Judge but in general they are complaining about a Judge who is unsympathetic to an argument and the lawyer will make the argument that the Judge was intemperate. I'm sure I've done this sort of outcome-based judgment particularly when I was a your Bad Young Lawyer--but the true monster Judge is a very rare creature. In Your Home Town there are very few active Bad Actors, temperamentally--but, there are a few. Usually, these Judges are the ones extolled for being "tough" when all they are are merely bullies. The voters elect and reelect these creatures and only learn wheat monsters they are when they or a family member or a friend finds themselves trying to get a civil matter heard or resolved and this beast is the Judge on their case. Nothing like a raging Judge to lighten your load.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

FurtherProof that it is Dahlia Lithwick's World and we just live in it

Once again the final word on the Supreme Court follies, is Dahlia Lithwick's http://www.slate.com/id/2231644/pagenum/all/#p2

When Will Time Heal All?


I was reading a review of Francine Prose's new book length discourse on the Diary of Anne Frank, in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/books/01maslin.html?_r=1&ref=books, in which Professor Prose argues for the recognition of the Diary as a literary masterpiece. Prose makes the point that Anne Frank the writer/diarist was able to talk directly to her imagined reader without detectable artifice; and, Anne was able to illustrate the character of her actors through incident not judgment. NPR featured within the last couple of days one of the directors of the Anne Frank museum who makes the point that if Anne Frank's life had coincided with this technology she'd be a blogger--this notion fills me with shame when I think of the triviality of what I do as a blogger.

I read the Diary of Anne Frank as a high school student--there are injuries and atrocities that time will not heal. If by time we mean the span of our lives.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Animal cruelty

Today the Supreme Ones took up the conviction of Robert Stevens for animal cruelty. Stevens cobbled together dog fighting footage into videos which he sold for "educational purposes." He was convicted under a federal law banning animal cruelty. The conviction and the law was struck down by a Philadelphia appeals court as unconstitutionally vague and impinging upon the Freedom of Speech.

The prospect of this case being argued at the Supreme Court today fueled the morning coffee hour discussion and a rather surprising unanimity among the various political wings of my crowd which cover the far left and reactionary right wing (and right wing Chuck is a dog lover.) We all agreed that as heinous as dog fighting is, the idea that Congress can enact a law that would prosecute a douche nozzle like this Stevens guy for selling this video violates our sense of personal freedom. As the acting law professor I threw in the parallel track of child pornography and the rationale for holding this category of speech as unprotected. In a nutshell, child pornography is unprotected because the market for the material fuels the sex crime against children necessary for the production of the pornography. My pal Chris did a pretty good imitation of John Houseman in sussing out the issues attendant to this special category of speech though Chris does tend to perseverate about his favorite first amendment case: the Bong Hits of Jesus case. (Morse v. Frederick: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/06pdf/06-278.pdf)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Staff Attorneys, Law Clerks, and other Pant Loads


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/us/29bar.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=supreme%20court%20&st=cse, the Paper of record had this illuminating article on the dramatic fall off in the case load of the US Supremes. One of the reasons given in the Times piece for the halving of the case load is the effect that court law clerks have on the non-selection of cases for review. Now I have no opinion on whether the Supremes are shirking their duties or not--but, I nodded in recognition at the observation concerning the role of the law clerk. Law clerks for the most part are in my experience law geeks. For instance, the picture to the right. I have no idea who this guy is, but if you google "law geek" his picture is on page one. And let's face it, he really looks the part.

Law clerks, and in Your Home Town, staff attorneys (don't fret it's a synonym) are these weasels who for the most part have never handled a real legal matter or paid a phone bill or any other invoice in their short, pathetic, loveless lives. Yet these baby monsters are delegated the important role of moving paper around the court's chambers and making recommendations about a myriad of issues from scheduling to whether or not a person should die. Cool, huh?

So, get this, these recent law school graduates often run court rooms and write the decisions issued by the Judge you elect and pay to be Judge. Here, in Your Home Town there is a Court of Appeals Judge who is, (in the language of twenty years ago) educable mentally retarded. This Judge Italianname is routinely re-elected and the cogently-written decisions that are issued in his name are written entirely by recent law school graduates. Is this a great world or what?

That the case load of the US Supremes is also a product of this great system is--well, let's just say, a little chilling.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Forensic Evidence, not in Texas

The secessionist bastard to the right is the Govenor of Texas and one of the people who bears direct responsibility for the murder of Cameron Todd Willingham. A commission looking into the execution of Willingham was set to hear from the forensic expert who was highly critical of the "forensic" evidence relied on to prosecute Willingham in the so-called arson murder of his three children. The Govenor who actually had the evidence of Willingham's innocence but ordered the execution anyway--fired the comission chair and two commission members two days before the hearing on the bogus scientific evidence used against Willingham. Perry's new chairman canceled the hearing, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/us/01brfs-GOVERNORFIRE_BRF.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=gov%20perry&st=cse

Govenor Rick Perry is an immoral pig.