Sunday, January 31, 2010

Workplace Sexual Harassment-Part Two

In the Baltimore area they have this small chain of 50s-style restaurants called the Double T Diner.  The Baltimore Sun is reporting on a former Double T Diner waitress who filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit claiming that the son of one of the owners, Spyros Korologos, is getting all-grabby and vulgar.  To give you a better sense of what she's talking about I'll quote from Nick Madigan's story:

"The suit by the 27-year-old woman is the latest in a decade-long string of legal actions -- including two suits by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- against the Double T chain by former waitresses who claimed they were sexually harassed by managers and other employees. Most of those suits were settled out of court, in one case for $200,000.


In her suit, the woman names Spyros Korologos, 26, a manager at the diner where she worked for five months in 2007, on Mountain Road in Pasadena. It's one of several restaurants owned by the Korologos family.  The woman, who was engaged to be married at the time, says she was 'publicly subjected to intimidation, ridicule and insult on the basis of her sex,' 'unwanted sexual advances,' and 'profane, sexually graphic and vulgar language.' Korologos did not return a call Thursday seeking comment, and two lawyers who represented him in previous cases said they no longer do.  On Sept. 7, 2007, the woman says in her suit, Korologos 'violently grabbed'  her crotch, causing her 'physical injury and emotional distress.'  She quit her job six days later and pressed criminal charges. According to the complaint filed in Anne Arundel County District Court, Korologos not only fondled her but made a habit of inquiring how many sexual partners she'd had and was 'always foul with the way he talked.'

On April 17, 2008, he was given probation before judgment on a fourth-degree sex offense, meaning that he could avoid conviction if he adhered to the terms of probation. He did not, according to a report from the state Division of Parole and Probation, which said he failed to show up for court-ordered psychological therapy or to return calls from the therapist. He also stopped attending the required weekly meetings with his probation agent, the report says.As a result, Korologos, who was living with his parents in Ellicott City, was found to have violated his probation and was convicted last May of the sex offense against the woman, who now lives in Florida and is not being named because of Sun policy. The woman is seeking $6 million in damages. In her suit, she says Korologos has 'a long history of similar illegal conduct in the workplace,' but that he has not been 'discharged or disciplined.'

In other lawsuits, women who had worked at Double T diners said managers and other employees had locked them in freezers, poured hot sauce on their arms and, to amuse themselves, carved vegetables into anatomically suggestive shapes."
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There have been numerous times over the decades where I've dealt with nearly identical sorts of workplace hosrshit like that described in Madigan's reporting.  I think any reader of Bad Lawyer will conclude that the Bad Lawyer is not a prude, but I do not understand workplace sexual harassment anymore than I understand molesting children.  Certainly we meet and form realtionships including intimate relationships with people we meet at work.  I met the Blonde Super Lawyer while practicing law, that is not sexual harassment so let's define sexual harassment in the workplace:  there are two specific types of sexual harassment in employment law:


Quid Pro Quo Harassment: "Something for something;" this is the "you do something for me and I'll do something for you" type of exchange. This occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances. For example, a supervisor promises an employee a raise if she will go out on a date with him, or tells an employee she will be fired if  she doesn't sleep with him. Quid pro quo harassment also occurs when an employee makes an evaluative decision, or provides or withholds professional opportunities based on another employee's submission to verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct or a sexual nature. Quid pro quo harassment is equally unlawful whether the victim resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits and thus avoids the threatened harm.

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: This occurs when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, offensive sexual materials, or unwelcome physical contact as a regular part of the work environment. Generally speaking, a single isolated incident will not be considered hostile environment harassment unless it is extremely outrageous and egregious conduct. The courts look to see whether the conduct is both serious and frequent. Supervisors, managers, co-workers and even customers can be responsible for creating a hostile environment.

In this day and age what delusion is a business owner, or manager operating under to believe that an acceptable term of employment includes putting up with the kind of shit the Korologos-family inflicts on its waitresses or permits its employees to engage in?  It's ridiculous, childish and such a distraction from commerce!  Here's hoping that the message get's through--this time.

Arrested 74 Times in 2 Years

You want true crime stories from American Justice, there's nothing like reading the local news websitees.  In this story from the Cincinnati Enquirer website, we have the pathetic tale of Douglas Robinson (pic) arrested 74 times in 2 years.  This is from the Enquirer story: 

Douglas Robinson has been arrested so many times in the last two years – 74 times, to be exact – that social service agencies in the area put him on a list of people they wanted to help the next time he was arrested.


That happened Monday, resulting in a maximum 90-day jail sentence on charges of solicitation and possession of illegal drugs. But when one of the agency people called the jail to make sure Robinson was held, he found that Robinson was already free -- released due to overcrowding, much like the other times he was arrested.  Hamilton County’s director of pretrial services, Wendy Niehaus, said it’s frustrating, but that she and her staff understand the difficult position Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis is in as jailer.  'The sheriff has to prioritize,' Niehaus said. 'Is it Douglas that he keeps? Or is the person charged with aggravated robbery? That’s the bottom line.'

But when Robinson is released, it doesn’t improve the situation for anyone, she said. 'He’s part of a marginalized population that sucks up resources, just not the right kind,' Niehaus said.  Leis closed 800 jail beds in December 2008 because of budget cuts, reducing the space to hold inmates by a third. Voters have twice rejected tax increases to pay for a new jail or a jail expansion.  That means lots of people are released simply because there is not room to keep them and others get out early. Last year more than 20,000 inmates were released because of overcrowding, according to an Enquirer analysis.

Earlier this month Hamilton County Municipal Judge Richard Bernat reported that he walked out of the justice center after conducting a series of bond hearings and saw a person he sentenced to spend 90 days in jail on a theft charge less than an hour earlier. The jail was so full that woman was told to come back in March to serve her time.

Robinson’s criminal history dates to spring 2008, when he was kicked out of a homeless shelter after being accused of theft. Records show the 50-year-old Robinson became a chronic problem downtown.  He has been arrested 73 times since, on 153 charges, records show. Mostly he’s arrested for panhandling and trespassing, sometimes also with resisting arrest.  Robinson was arrested Tuesday on a charge of possession of drugs and tampering with evidence after Cincinnati police officers say they saw him on Pleasant Street with crack cocaine and a pipe to smoke it.

Hamilton County Municipal Judge Ted Berry was so shocked when he saw Robinson’s record Wednesday that he asked if it was a typographical error. It wasn’t a mistake, courtroom staff assured him. Berry set Robinson’s bond at $9,500.  The Enquirer used court records to report that Robinson had been arrested 96 times. A review of his jail stays shows he has been arrested 74 times since May 2008.
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Meanwhile, in Maricopa County, Arizona--they have so much money the Sheriff can voluntarily go into the federal (!) immigration law enforcement business;  hire $1000 per hour attorneys to sue the County's other elected officials who in turn hire outside counsel to defend the lawsuits.  All the while arresting anyone who looks suspicious.  American justice is . . .  a crazy shitstorm.

You Don't Need a Lawyer When They Say You Confessed, Even When You Ask For a Lawyer and You Say You Didn't Confess

Watch this video! 

Debra Milke has been sittting for twenty years on Death Row in Arizona for murdering her child.  The conviction was based primarily on Milke's "confession" which Milke has consistently denied making.  In actuality two terrible men, an ex-boyfriend and another man killed the child and disposed of the body.  The only issue is whether Debra Milke was involved. 

The only evidence of the "confession" comes from aa Maricopa County homicide detective who testified at her trial that Milke confessed.  Oh, no, Bad Lawyer, you exclaim, the detective played the confession back for the jury?  Nope.  Oh no, Bad Lawyer, you say:  he showed them Milke's written confession?  Nope.  Detective Armando Saldate also testified that Milke "waived her right to counsel."  Surely, Bad Lawyer, the Detective had this in writing?  Nope. 

There is no written confession, there's no recording of the confession, and there's no witness to Det. Saldante's collection of this confession--oh, and there's no written waiver of counsel.  Unusual, you bet it is.  Consistent with police procedure?  Nope.  Well, maybe Maricopa standards where investigative tools and eqiipment are reserved for investigating elected officials. 

Watch.



This extraordinary story comes by way of the very pro-police, anit-crime website Crime, Guns and Videotape. 

About the only hope Debra Milke has, is the intervention of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has previously reversed the U.S. District Court on technical issues will have a chance to issue a further ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield who has concluded that Milke's "Miranda Rights" were not violated. 

Here, we go again friends, the obsession with official State killing, has cost the state of Arizona "crates of money." and 20 years--and people like myself scratch our heads wondering how it is that the rights, freedoms and liberties applicable to most U.S. citizens are not available in Arizona, Texas, and Georgia.   For what?  To kill someone, someone who may not even be guilty of murder, who certainly didn't pull the trigger!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Over-Lawyered? Probably


This comes by way of AboveTheLaw.com which links to MassLawyersWeekly.com report on the decision in the Matter of Bartley J. King, a probate estate worth $1.2 million dollars.  The law firm handling the matter billed $800,000! Yikes!  The Masschusetts Supremee Judicial Court thinks, that just maybe, the matter was overbilled and overlawyered.  This is from the MassLawyers Blawg post:

K&L Gates, which charged a client $800,000 to defend a probate estate of $1.2 million, has been accused of  'unnecessary overlawyering' by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.


In a ruling in In the Matter of the Estate of Bartley J. King, released today, Justice Margot Botsford wrote for a unanimous court that 'a total of eighteen attorneys and paralegals were representing [the client], a remarkable number especially when one takes into account the motion judge’s view that the theories advanced by the contestants were not ‘overly complex.’ 'Even a cursory review of the billing records suggests that among all these attorneys there was duplication of effort,' the judge added, citing the fact that 'a fair amount of billing for the time of two or more attorneys who were attending the same hearing.' The SJC sent the case back to the Probate & Family Court to reconsider the fee award.

Stephen G. Howard, who led K&L Gates’ work in the case, had racked up the fees fending off attacks on the will of a 91-year-old who bequeathed the entirety of his $1.2 million estate to one of his daughters. Left out, his two other children and nine of his grandchildren contested the will, but when the case went to trial in 2007, the daughter, Lois A. Folan, won on all counts.

Afterward, Howard asked to be paid $710,322 in legal fees and $95,868 in costs. Lawyers for the other families balked, and a Probate & Family Court judge eventually forged a compromise, awarded $574,322 in fees. Boston lawyer Thomas F. Maffei, of Griesinger, Tighe & Maffei in Boston, then appealed that award to the SJC.  Citing the size of the fees, the SJC remanded the case to the Probate & Family Court to hear evidence on whether they should be awarded.

'[A]t least some of the pretrial litigation activity … reasonably could be seen as unnecessary overlawyering in a case such as this, where the decedent’s entire estate was worth $1.2 million, and where on more than one occasion before trial, the trial judge made clear that she thought a trial would be necessary because of unresolved factual issues,' Botsford wrote.  Maffei called the decision a 'wake-up call.'  'When it comes to legal fees, reasonableness is still the test,' he tells Lawyers Weekly. 'Not every litigation is a ‘bet-the-company case.’"
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We talk about bad lawyers all the time, but this case highlights something I've said on Bad Lawyer since the outset, the real thieves get away with it all the time.  Their law firms have marbled foyers, antique furniture, and silver service.  Rarely are they caught out in full rapaciousness, as attorney Howard and K & L Gates--by the way, check their website.  Apparently these Massachusetts Judges didn't get an invite to the last firm soiree, oops.  

Here's betting, the attempted ransack of this estate by K & L Gates results in no disciplinary action.

Privileged Communications, Not!


When a client talks to his attorney, the law creates a "particular and peculiar benefit"--the conversation is private, confidential, and not discoverable.  So instances when the government intrude upon these conversations and attempt to use the conversations against a client offend the sensibilities of Bad Lawyers everywhere.  In recent years, we have beguin to see prosecutions of lawyers based on surreptious recordings of lawyers and clients as with radical NYC lawyer Lynne Stewart who currently doing hard time after becoming a messager of jihad for her client Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric involved in the original bombing o fhte World Trade Center.

There have been numerous incidents of lawyers (see  Bad Lawyer's  post on Frank Pigantelli) who betray confidences and worse, actively participate to entrap clients as in the case of Omaha attorney Terry L. Haddock who wore a government wire to record conversations with his client as part of a investigation into a marijuana conspiracy as reported at Omaha.com.  Here's an excerpt fromTodd Cooper's story:

To his friends and former colleagues, this is the extent of Terry L. Haddock's existence today:  A voice on a speakerphone. A voice that echoes with both resolve and resignation.

In measured words, the Omaha attorney confides that he is in hiding after he wore a wire to help the U.S. government indict inmate Shannon E. Williams and 10 others in a massive marijuana conspiracy.  I realize I could lose my law license over this, his friends have recalled him saying in recent weeks. But, please, don't jump to conclusions.  Williams talked about committing crimes, about eliminating witnesses. I had to do something.

And that's it. Just as quickly as he tantalizes former colleagues, he shuts down — saying federal prosecutors have asked him not to talk about why he chose to risk his legal career, even his life, by taking on the marijuana ring and its alleged kingpin.

In a case that will hinge in large part on Haddock's credibility, here's what Haddock doesn't always divulge: His involvement in the federal investigation came after a yearlong stretch in which his personal and professional lives began to circle the drain.  Law enforcement officials close to the investigation say Haddock, 52, became enthralled with a 23-year-old woman from Zimbabwe who describes herself as a former escort. His wife filed for divorce. Credit card debt mounted. He was hospitalized for health problems and later treated for mental health problems. He stopped answering his phone, meeting with clients or showing up for court.  Then the federal government came calling, offering the man who friends say 'hates drugs' and 'hates drama' a front-row seat to both. Haddock began wearing a wire and smuggling a cell phone into the Douglas County Jail to witness Williams orchestrate the movement of marijuana and money from Phoenix to Omaha."
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People hire lawyers and talk freely to lawyers because of the attorney-client privilege.  Stunts like Haddock's and of the government agents who put Haddock up to taping his client, undermine respect for the law.  It is one thing to learn about the imminent commission of a crime and to approach the court to ask for removal from the representatio of a client--it is quite another to become an agent of the government under the guise of representing a client. 

Lawyer Schemes and Scams

Wow!  Here's a scheme, scam, scandal:  the Bad Lawyers in the pic are a couple of North Carolina lawyers who designed and executed a scam to obtain DWI dismissals for essentially no good reason.  While earning nothing to speak of and ensnaring many others in their scam, attorneys Chad Lee (pic entering court with his father and lawyer and Lee Hatch have "baffled" the sentencing Judge who sent them to prison.  This story is from the North Carolina News and Observer.com: 

"Chad Lee and Lee Hatch, buddies for more than a decade, headed to prison for nearly four years. They were spared the 50 years their crimes could have brought them; both surrendered their law licenses. Jack McLamb and Vann Sauls will be forbidden to take criminal cases as they serve three years of probation. Portia Snead, a deputy Superior Court clerk who helped with the scam, lost her job and retirement pay; she, too, is on probation. Cindy Jaeger, a former prosecutor at the center of the plot, still faces charges. The pleas help close an investigation that rocked the Johnston County legal community. Prosecutors say that, with Jaeger's help, the lawyers and the clerk wiped away drunken driving charges for dozens of defendants. Court documents were treated like currency, traded after hours among friends, filed in daylight under the auspices of official court business. 

'I cannot understand why anyone thought this was a good idea,' Superior Court Judge Henry Hight said moments before sentencing Lee. 'Detection was almost certain given the [pathetic condition of the] records and the number of people involved. I don't get it.'"
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It is a mistake, to presume that lawyers are smart or competent.  Everyday I have to dispell this notion, I try to start with the guy in the mirror.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Utah Lawyer Steals from the Dead, Gives Girlfriend Big TaTas!

This piece-of-shit (also called, "POS"--a technical expression) is Matthew "Terry" Graff.  He was a Cedar City, Utah lawyer until he got all grabby with the clients' settlement money.  Lot's of it.  Nothing new there, but it's from who he took money that caught my attention, and it is what he did with the money;  the account that follows is from Mark Havnes, Salt Lake Tribune article:

"Charges were filed against Graff in May 2009, after investigators said he stole money from Matthew Tillery and Easton Vigil. The money was from settlements the men received from the company that owned the airplane in which their wives died.   Marci Tillery and Camie Vigil were among nine employees of the Southwest Skin and Cancer Clinic in Cedar City who were killed in an Aug. 22, 2008 plane crash as they returned from a work trip to Moab. The pilot also died.  All the families received out-of-court settlements from The Leavitt Agency. But Tillery and Vigil, who retained Graff to represent them, never got their money.

Investigators said Graff used the money to pay for a house in St. George for his girlfriend, pay for her breast augmentation, and take her on a trip to Hawaii, among other things. He also spent $10,000 of the money he stole on a birthday party in Las Vegas for his wife.

'He didn't care for us, he just wanted a big paycheck,' Tillery said during Friday's hearing. 'He pretended to be a savior at the darkest time of my life. What he did has made me angry and frustrated.'

Vigil did not testify, but others who have been swindled by Graff did.   After Graff was charged last year, police and attorneys for Iron and Washington counties received more than 100 complaints about him, the Cedar City courtroom was packed Friday with people who claimed to be his victims. Many were elderly. All were angry."
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It's especially reassuring to know that our nation's law schools are pumping thousands of these men and women out on an unsuspecting public--most without a means of support, or a clue as to how to pay the bills, etc.

Tony Abbate Wants His Job Back--Right!



The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Chicago cop, Tony Abbate, perpetrator of this famous off duty assault and battery is suing to get his job back citing among the errors in his dismissal, the viewing of this video.  This is from the Tribune article on Abbate's request for reinstatement:

"A Chicago police officer fired after a video camera recorded him beating a female bartender is asking a judge to review his termination.In a petition filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, attorneys for Anthony Abbate said the Chicago Police Board made 12 errors in ordering his termination last month, including using the infamous videotape in deciding to fire him.

In a decision championed by Police Superintendent Jody Weis, the board found Abbate guilty of several rules violations surrounding the beating at Jesse's Short Stop Inn in the Cragin neighborhood on the Northwest Side.  Abbate's petition also claims that the civilian board wrongly viewed as a problem Abbate's decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at least 75 times during his board hearing.  The petition asks that a judge review the official record and transcripts of evidence and reverse his firing. Abbate's challenge could be moot, as he was convicted of felony aggravated battery in criminal court last summer. The city bars the hiring of people with felony convictions as police officers."
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My advice to Officer Abbate,  hold your breath.

Police Brutality--When Is Enough, Enough?


The charming looking gent to the left is Springfield police officer Jeffrey M. Asher, an assaultive cop with a lengthy track record of being involved in incidents of alleged police brutality.  Here's the MassLive.com story on the complaints surrounding Asher:

"Even before the videotape surfaced of a Nov. 27 arrest which shows him striking a drug suspect with a flashlight, the record of police misconduct allegations involving patrolman Jeffrey M. Asher was coming under increased scrutiny.  Details of the Police Department’s handling of seven civilian complaints brought against Asher over the past 12 years will play a role in the defense of New York man accused of assaulting Asher during his arrest at a downtown club in October 2008. The Police Department internal investigations records about Asher were turned over in November by the city to a lawyer for Raymond Bessette, 34, of North Granville, N.Y.  Bessette is due to face trial on Jan. 22 in District Court where he has pleaded innocent to charges of assault and battery on a police officer and trespassing. He may claim self-defense, his lawyer Frank Flannery advised the court in filings.

Flannery was successful in seeking access to the Police Department internal investigations records for Asher, including those involving incidents in which the 16-year veteran was charged with using excessive force and inappropriate conduct.   Jeffrey M. Asher Asher is now among four officers under both internal and criminal investigations in connection with the Nov. 27 arrest of Melvin Jones III during a traffic stop on Rifle Street. Asher was identified in a police report of that incident as having struck Jones repeatedly during a scuffle which ensued when the suspect tried to flee the scene and then grabbed another officer’s gun.

According to a police report of the Oct. 19, 2008, incident, police were called to the Salty Dog club at 280 Bridge St. Asher and another officer were taking Bessette, who they said was drunk and disruptive, out of the club shortly after midnight when Bessette struck Asher open-handed in the chest, according to the report. The report states that as the police officers were escorting Bessette from the bar he lost his footing and fell in the parking lot outside, getting a minor scrape.

In preparation for trial, Flannery filed a motion asking that the city be ordered to provide all internal investigation records about Asher for seven different incidents, including the 1997 case in which Asher and the department drew national attention. In that case, Asher was also caught on videotape, kicking a suspect in the head while he was restrained by other officers.   District Court Judge Jacques C. Leroy ordered the city to provide the records. Only the defense can look at the records, and they are sealed from public review, according to the judge’s order. Flannery confirmed that he has seen the records but declined to comment further.

The defense filing states that Bessette says he never struck Asher. Bessette claims Asher struck him in the shoulder with his fist, shoved him down a hallway and then threw him through swinging doors, according to the court document. In the most recent incident involving Asher, the suspect, the 28-year-old Jones, according to his father, reportedly suffered fractures to the bones in his face and remains partially blind in one eye.

Among the incidents for which Flannery sought records are:

• The 1997 suspension of Asher without pay by the Police Commission for kicking Roy Parker, a drug suspect, who was restrained and being handcuffed by two officers. Asher was cleared of criminal wrongdoing, and an original year-long suspension was later overturned and reduced to six months.

• A 2004 incident in which Asher was among a group of officers who were the subjects of a brutality complaint by a black school principal injured by police while he was in the throes of a diabetic seizure in his car at a South End gas station. After a month-long review, the Police Commission voted 3-2 to exonerate the officers. The city paid a $180,000 settlement.

• A 1994 incident which did not come to light until after the Parker case in which the city paid $75,000 in 2000 to settle a brutality complaint against Asher and another officer, Daniel Brunton. Michael J. Cuzzone, of Springfield, claimed he was beaten unconscious by Asher on May 26, 1994, after Cuzzone’s friend had a dispute with Asher’s father, Michael Asher, a bartender at Donnie’s Cafe on Chestnut Street. The city made no admission of wrongdoing in paying the settlement, and neither Asher nor Brunton was disciplined by the Police Department.

• A 12-day suspension of Asher without pay for violation of departmental rules and regulations for an incident that occurred on Clyde Street on Jan. 29, 2001. A complaint was filed by a 12-year-old boy, Luis D. Soto, and his mother, Rosa M. Sepulveda, both of Springfield. They said the side mirror of Asher’s cruiser hit the boy’s right arm while the boy was walking with friends. The child required treatment at Baystate Medical Center.

• Asher’s reprimand in 2005 by then acting Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet for 'failing to show respectful treatment'  in connection with a resident’s complaint of mistreatment in April related to Asher’s response to a dog attack. Jerry A. Belair, of Nassau Drive, said his encounter with Asher occurred when he was attempting to take his injured dog to an animal hospital after the pet was attacked by a pit bull outside his home. Belair said that despite repeated pleas to take his bleeding dog to the hospital, Asher detained him for more than 90 minutes, stated he was under arrest, handcuffed him and placed him a cruiser, all without cause. Asher denied wrongdoing, but Fitchet issued the reprimand and it was about this time that Asher was transferred to inside duty in the department’s Records Division.

• A 1995 case which resulted in a civil lawsuit filed by a former Springfield man, Brent Whitley. The Whitley case was dismissed in 1999 after Whitley appeared to lose interest in the matter and failed to contact his lawyer or appear in U.S. District Court. Whitley had claimed he was doused with a chemical spray, clubbed, arrested and pushed down stairs by Asher and another officer during his arrest on charges for which he was later acquitted.

• A 2004 incident in which, Holly M. Marion, 24, filed a complaint with the Police Department, saying Asher punched her in the face and broke her left leg on Oct. 7 as emergency workers responded to a call about a drug overdose at 75 Avon Place. Marion admitted, according to police reports of the incident, that she threatened to “stab” Asher with a hypodermic needle if he “didn’t let go” but later told him she did not have a weapon.
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Who would employ a cop like this?  Are the authorities in Srpingfield, Mass out of their minds?  This guy would be in jail if he weren't a cop.  He is nothing but a violent thug.  Chilling

From the Annals of Law-Givers: Um, the Mayor's an Idiot!

From the Annals of Law Giver's we have this charming little story. 

Lorain, Ohio is the town President Obama visited recently on his Stimulus Tour '10.  A comeback city, right?  Well, maybe if the Mayor wasn't a Goddam idiot.

This is report from the Chronicle-Telegram online: 

"Law Director Patrick Riley ruled Tuesday that Mayor Anthony Krasienko (pic) can’t rescind his inadvertent veto of legislation giving two west-side areas a controversial 100 percent property tax break for 15 years.

Law dating back to Marbury v. Madison in 1803 has held that once an executive power has been completely exercised — such as Krasienko’s signature on a veto letter — the ability to rescind the exercise of power ceases, according to Riley’s ruling.

It is unlikely that City Council could override the veto because the legislation passed 7 to 1, with three Council members abstaining because of potential conflicts.  Eight votes are needed to override a veto, and Councilman Greg Holcomb, D-6th Ward, who voted no, vehemently opposed the legislation. Holcomb could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Still, the legislation might not be doomed entirely. Riley said the City Council simply could start over with the legislation. If it passes, it could be presented again to Krasienko, who could let it become law unsigned as he said he intended in this go-round.  Krasienko said Tuesday he was embarrassed about the amount of work he caused. Ultimately, he said it was his mistake because he signed the veto letter prepared by his assistant, Liz Foster. He said he had read three earlier versions of the letter without the veto language and missed seeing the insertion of the veto wording in the final version.Krasienko has said he never intended to veto the ordinance but merely wanted to return it unsigned with a letter stating his problems with it. Unsigned legislation goes into effect after a 10-day waiting period.

The mistake occurred on Jan. 21 — the same day Krasienko was on the phone to the White House about the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama — although that is no excuse, the mayor said.

The veto snafu does give Council an opportunity to reconsider the mayor’s problems with the legislation.'I felt it (the 50 percent/10-year abatement) would be enough of an incentive to trigger sustained and continued growth,'  Krasienko said.  In a sense, the mayor will be getting what he wants — Council will give the matter a second look.  However, Krasienko said he absolutely did not sign the veto letter on purpose. He said issues involving tax abatement are highly controversial, and it took a long time to get the legislation passed in the first place.  'It’s created a tremendous amount of work for not reading that letter word for word,' Krasienko said."
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I know, reading all of that word-for-word is pretty tough sledding, but there are just so many charming, underlying elements.  Hizzoner's whining about reading the veto letter, his [non-] excuse of talking on the phone with the White House, and of course, his blaming the secretary, Liz Foster.  The Lorain Mayor is hitting the idiot-trifecta!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Pound of Flesh


Just a quick reminder, Gayle's [very erudite] Bard Blog is essaying Merchant of Venice, one of the English language's, first plays about finance and justice.  Yesterday she post this discussion on the classic expression a "pound of flesh", which is well worth reading--and a blog well-worth following!

Professional Courtesy--Update



When last we discussed North Charleston, South Carolina police officer Christine Phinney (pic) she had been pulled over by the Dorchester County, South Carolina Sheriff's department for speeding and essentially given a pass for drunk driving and disorderly conduct.  The update at the Post and Courier informs us that she has lost her job.  At the link you will find the "missing video" that her lawyer tried to prevent disclosure of, since as you will see it pretty well demonstrates why Officer Phinney is now a former-police officer. 

More importantly for this blawg, is the peek behind the "curtain" of law enforcement taking care of their own--or trying to.  Phinney didn't help them. 

Nonetheless, Phinney wasn't charged with a serious traffic offenses or disorderly conduct, even though it is obvious she's drunk, Phinney did not spend the night in jail.  It is only Phinney's failure to "play ball" at the scene of the traffic stop--her getting out of the car and her being "non-compliant" that causes her to be arrested.   The video tape seals her fate.

The Post and Courier and the other media rightly wanted to know how it is that this officer gets a pass and when they obtain the first video--which as you will recall was shot from a patrol car sitting behind the sheriff patrol vehicle; and, when the press are denied access to the second video, the Sheriff's car that is ubobstructed,  well I think, we all knew what the video was going to show--Christine Phinney had to go.

 Had Officer Phinney stayed in the car, had there been no video, she is back on the road--you know it, and I know it.  Let's now do a little "thought experiment"--if this had been me, mmmmm how many times would would thye have tased me?

Former Fed Prosecutor and Republican Gov-Candidate James Harper III Steals from Gun Company


There must be something in the water, this is majorly Bad Lawyer Week here at Bad Lawyer: with word via the Associated Press that former Atlanta federal prosecutor and republican candidate for Governor was indicted on multiple counts of theft from the gun maker Glock.  Apparently James Harper III, was hired by Glock to investigate fraud at the company but conspired with two others to steal $3 million from the Cobb County gunmaker.

The "Doctor" Is In, Court!


The expert Psychologist who called himself "Doctor" turns out not to be and expert or a "doctor," according to CNEWS.com.  Here's an excerpt from the story:

" A man that allegedly posed as a psychologist in child custody cases has been charged with fraud.  The Whitby man was posing as a doctor of psychology and called himself a doctor when he testified in family court, Durham Regional Police said Tuesday.  Since the November complaint, investigators have found three families that were affected but they are appealing for any other potential victims to come forward.  According to the College of Psychologists, the man is registered as a psychological associate with limited ability to practice and does not have a doctorate recognized by the college, police said.  Greg Carter, 63, of Pringle Drive in Whitby, is charged with three counts of fraud, two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of perjury. 
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A number of years ago, the Blonde Super Lawyer was callled to jury duty in a very high-profile case involving a wrongful discharge claim filed by the former director of Public Housing in OurTown.   One of the elements of the case turned on the authenticity of documents that the fired executive claimed authorized her to take certain funds auditors claimed she stole.  The signatures on the documents she presented to support her claim were challenged as foregeries by the persons who allegedly signed the documents; incredibly she presented a hand writing expert to testify tha tthe signatures were authentic.   This expert was not an expert, and his testimony was completely fraudulent. 

The former director lost her lawsuit, was indicted, and went to jail.  Oh, just before the firing--she was under consideration for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development--bullet dodged. 

The so-called handwriting expert was indicted for perjury and killed himself before he could be extradicted and returned to OurState for prosecution.  The Jury foreperson told me afterwards, that they loved this witness, he was totally charming, a delight to listen to, but they also thought he was completely full of baloney.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shut Up, Go to Jail!


Michael Sneed (pic) is a Tennessee lawyer who just can't return a phone call or stop practicing law even when ordered to--so he's going to jail.  This is from the Tennessean.com: 

"A Nashville attorney has been disbarred and ordered to serve jail time over contempt charges and several allegations that he mistreated clientsThe Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Michael Sneed for numerous ethical violations and ordered him to serve 50 days in jail for criminal contempt because he disobeyed a court order to stop practicing law after a suspension last year.  Sneed, reached by phone Tuesday, said he didn't believe the complaints against him had any merit and he plans to proceed with a federal suit that says he was improperly suspended and his constitutional rights were violated.

Sneed said he had not seen the order.

'I will admit, I made mistakes,' Sneed said. 'I had a large number of clients I represented … I'm not saying I was not an effective attorney. I think I did a good job for 99 percent of the people I represented.'

A disciplinary panel recommended in 2008 that Sneed be disbarred after clients and other attorneys complained that he acted unethically or failed to keep his clients informed. He was suspended the next year. The court found that he continued to practice law, and in an order issued Tuesday, the state Supreme Court put in place a sentence of 50 days jail time for 50 counts of criminal contempt related to his law practice. Sneed had already been disciplined by the Board of Professional Responsibility — the panel that disciplines lawyers — eight times by 2002, and five newer complaints for failing to communicate or keep accurate financial records for clients led to his suspension early last year." 

The article really focuses in on what seems to be a pretty cut and dried case of a lawyer who loved to be in court, but hated every other aspect of practicing law.  Sneed hated talking to his clients, and he was notorious as so many lawyers are--at returning phone calls (a subject I plan to return to in the near future.)  Apparently, Sneed can now begin his jailhouse practice. 
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When your disciplinary authorities tell you to stop practicing law--um, stop practicing law. 

Fickle Finger of Fate--Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason


Actually it was "the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate" an award (pic) given by Rowan and Martin on the 60's television show Laugh-In.  According to TV Acres.com

"Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award - Called the Rigid Digit, the Winged Weenie, Wonderful Wiggler, Friendly Phlange, and the Nifty Knuckle, this weekly satirical award was presented by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin on the weekly comedy variety series ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN/NBC/1968-73 for the dumbest/craziest news item of the week. Gold/Silver in color, the award was a "hand" mounted on a trophy base. Its index finger adorned with two small wings rotated in a 'Whoopee!' circular motion. Recipients of this 'uncoveted' award included then Los Angeles Chief of Police, Ed Davis who suggested that 'gallows' be put in all airports for the hijackers so they could be hung on the spot; the City of Cleveland for their Cuyahoga River (It caught fire due to its high pollution levels); and a Wonderful Wiggler went to William F. Buckley for his philosophy 'Never clarify tomorrow, what you can obscure today.' Top awards went to the Pentagon. They won five times."

As readers of the Bad Lawyer blawg, one of the themes of this journal is the fickle nature of justice, and as I read accounts of "justice," more often injustice I am struck by the sheer randomness of crime and punishment.  You would think a 55 year old, 28 year veteran lawyer would be cynical enough to let it all roll off his back, but you must bear in mind that I am a Bad Lawyer.  I still struggle to find some sort of narrative to make sense of it all. 


This morning my pal, rightwing Chuck the retired tax-denier, sent me a link to the Cleveland Plain Dealer article about the county prosecutor, Bill Mason.  This crime fighter, according to accounts from local attorneys told his high school classmates he planned to be President of the United States by age 50, apparently it's not working out.  Mason enjoyed a run of luck, though, succeeding the legendary late-Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who vaulted from the county prosecutor's position to Congress succeeding longtime civil rights pioneer Lousi Stokes, brother of Carl Stokes, the first Black Mayor of a major American city which Cleveland was in the 1960s.  All of this is by way of digression,--but it does indicate that there was a path available to Mason if he was good prosecutor.  But our man Mason fell in with a bad crowd, a county bribery and corruption scandal involving his closest political allies is dragging the blue-eyed wanna-be-president-of-the-united-states down.

I don't know Mason, personally, but a Judge I know related to me how he, the Judge,  had won the endorsement of his political party for higher office and was ORDERED by Mason, and his corrupt political cronies to stand down from the office the Judge aspired to, in favor of someone clearly less qualified but someone more politically important to Mason, et al.   Mason threatened the Judge with the promise that his political life would be turned into a living hell if he did not comply.  The Judge refused to stand down, and the position was snatched from him anyway. 

Mason also has been known to do the bidding of the corrupt former Sheriff.  There are well-documented instances where Mason prosecuted fabricated felonious accusations against lawyers involved in security scuffles identical to the ones discussed here, where ill-trained security officers of the corrupt Sheriff claim non-existent injuries after pounding the snot and pepper spraying  a lawyer. The lawyer who objected to the rude treatment of citizens entering and exiting the Justice Center where Mason and the disgraced sheriff have/had their offices.  

Mason was also behind the indictment of a Cleveland-area mother and father of the "special education" student-football captain who was raped by a local female teacher--the parents obtained and turned over evidence including digital photos taken by the kids who were having sex with the teacher.  The parents' crime? They were indicted for posession of child porn while the charges were ultimately dismissed the parent-victims ended up paying attorney fees and were required to enter a diversionary program!  What outcome did the school teacher, "star" of the child porn images get?  Count 'em, three days in jail.  Good job, Prosecutor Mason! 

Mason is one of those lawmen like Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Mason runs an operation more notable for its public relations claims than for actual achievement unless you count his striking blindness or indifference to the pay-for-play operation run by his foolish friends who are all headed to federal lock-up.  One of the mysteries of the scandals in Cleveland was how Mason seemed to have a teflon like quality as all around him, others were being indicted, charged, targeted in lengthy federal charges as the subject of the bribery schemes.  Part of what was going on was a changeover in journalism in Cleveland.  The Plain Dealer transformed itself into a serious muckracking enterprise with a laser-like focus on the things that matter, or should matter to the citizens of northeastern Ohio. 


Mason and a drinking buddy were recently pulled over for drunk driving.  The cops cut these guys a major break, a break they would not cut you or me.  Mason's buddy, a Cleveland-area politician was intoxicated and driving.  Mason, the passenger, was given a free pass.

Mason appears to be in the media cross-hairs, and in large part it's largely because of thieving lawyers.  The Plain Dealer piece by Mark Puente relates how Mason apparently has a pattern of willful ignorance where it comes to corruption.  Not only does Mason not see, hear, smell or speak it when it involves County Commissioners, political bosses, County Recorders, of his own political-persuasion--it doesn't occur to Mr. Mason to prosecute a former associate, the lawyer-pal who steals $300,000, from a client--while a laundry list of relative petty thefts by other lawyers land those lawyers in prison.  Some pay, some pay all, some pay nothing. 
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My friend Gayle after reading this blawg suggested that I read, Heinrich Von Kleist's Michael Kohlhaas.  The 1811 novella was an apt recommendation.  Kohlhaas is an upright citizen, a successful horse dealer by trade, and someone who readily embraces the law.  One day Kohlhaas is in transit with two beautiful black horses he intends to sell in Dresden.  He is waylaid at a minor aristocrat's property by a demand for a toll and a permit that had not been required of him previously.  What ensues is a legal nightmare. The denial of any justice including "a justice center scuffle" fataling injuring Frau Kohlhaas ultimately drives Kohlhaas to armed insurrection. 

My mocking tone about fickle finger of fate, is to highlight the argument that the reason for law is the need for certainty, or, at least predictablity in human affairs.  We all need to know what the rules are, we all need to know and agree what our rights are, and we all need to agree what the consequences, leavened with mercy--should be.  When public officials like Bill Mason use their very powerful offices to favor friends, and enable injustice--they degrade respect for the law, for justice.  ENOUGH!

Oh,  it does seem that the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate has finally found a worthy honoree.

Nancy Grace, Media -@#%$&


The harpy to the left is Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor and OJ groupie/lawyer commentator.  She's built a low-rated Cable channel program on what was formerly called Headline News, by appealing to the lowest common denominator and exploiting crime victims for sensationalism.  Her interview of Elizabeth Smart, is one of the most skin-crawling moments in "real crime" television history (see video at YouTube.) 

Grace is a defendant in a wrognful death lawsuit brought by survivors of a very troubled 21 year old mother of Trenton Duckett--who Nancy Grace insinuated murdered her then missing two-year old son.   The mother killed herself a couple of hours prior to the airing of the telephone interview in which the mother was berated by Grace for not submitting to a lie detector test Duckett's attorney told her not to undergo.  This is Dahlia Lithwick's article from 2006  which nicely summarizes the Duckett controversy and Nancy Grace's role in it. 

Which brings me to the hypocrisy that prompts today's post, courtesy of The Smoking Gun  Miss Grace is about to have her deposition taken by videotape--you know:  lawyers are going to ask this former prosecutor questions and this media-lawyer is going to answer the questions under oath in front of a camera.  Guess what she and Cable News, Inc. have filed a motion with the court seeking to "seal" the footage so we the people won't see it.  Seems, Nancy Grace is afraid that the deposition footage will be sliced and diced out of context.  No kidding!

There is a role for legal commentary, that's what I do here.  There is ample reason for expressing outrage on behalf of victims of crime;  we do that here, all the time.  But this hypocrite, sensationalist exploiter of crime victims can't take what she readily dishes, and we should all take notice.

Bottle Attacks? Glassings?

The internets are a wondrous thing.  The tubes that comprise the nets let you go many places and learn many interesting things. 

As I previously disclosed, the Bad Lawyer is ethnically poor white trailer trash.  Which means my family is can trace it's roots back to trailer parks in England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland via the Ohio River valley and God knows, where before that.  When the world of the internets entered our household in the era of the dial-up modem--the Blonde Super Lawyer immediately wanted to trace her heritage back to the Mayflower, blah, blah, blah.  Since most of my relations lived in "houses" with wheels, I had less interest, but in the golden age of the Bad Lawyer Blawg (er, now) era I have been looking at international websites--particularly Wales, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.  Lots of my posts have originated with stories from those websites. If you've ever done this, and by the way I highly recommend it--you will find interesting takes, like New Zealand's obsession on helmets for their nude cyclists.  So here's a new one on the Bad Lawyer---Wales is suffering through "bottle attacks."

Bottle attacks?  What the hell?  Wales Online is reporting that the authorities in the South Wales valleys are struggling with something called the "bottle culture," I'll let Gary Marsh of the Cynon Valley Leader bring you up to speed: 


"Figures show shocking number of bottle attacks in the South Wales Valleys  THREE people a week are bottled or glassed in the South Wales Valleys, according to new police figures.

In a harrowing reflection of what police term the 'bottle culture,'  bottles or glasses were used as weapons in more than 160 attacks during the past financial year.   A quarter of those were in the most dangerous category, involving broken bottles or glasses used as offensive weapons.  The figures also show that some of the victims were younger than 12 years old, while the majority were in their teens and early 20s.  The figures, obtained by Cynon Valley AM Christine Chapman, AM for the Cynon Valley, have been described as 'terrifyin.'   Mrs Chapman has since written to South Wales Police to express her concern. 'I am particularly concerned about any attack on a child,' she said.

One paramedic, who did not wish to be named, said glass attacks often resulted in severe injuries that could be life-threatening.  He said most of the incidents he had come across took place at night, usually in a public place like a bar.

'Speaking about the ones that I saw, they were pretty serious things, with quite severe injuries,' he said., 'Depending on where on their body they are attacked, it could even be life-threatening.'

And the new statistics show that even children are no longer immune.Between April 2008 and March 2009, there were fewer than three glassing attacks on children under 12, 21 attacks involving teenagers, 58 involving people aged 20-24, and 67 on people over 25.  Inspector Tony Bishop said officers take glassing seriously and have brought down the number of attacks by asking pubs to use plastic glasses on big event days.  Insp[ector] Bishop said: 'You stereotypically think of a broken glass being thrust into someone’s face like you see on television. But glass injuries can occur when someone throws a bottle in a street or in a licensed premises'.  Campaigners would like to see alcohol brewers replace glass bottles with plastic alternatives.Dr Alasdair Forsyth, of the Glasgow Centre for the Study of Violence, said: 'Research shows that far more people use a glass bottle than a knife as a weapon. 'Although many do not consider a bottle to be a weapon.'”
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Note, I am not ridiculing this problem.  I did an image search, and the injuries from these attacks are ghastly! Wales wisely is not a "gun culture."  So it's interesting to see this permutation on gang culture or should I say thug behavior.   Another world.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do Not Piss Off the Secretary!


Justice H. Campbell is a Charlotte-area attorney (see pic of business card); who apparently did not heed the advice to all lawyers, no matter the practice-area, no matter the firm size:  be nice to your secretary!

According to AboveTheLaw.com the preeminent tabloid blawg, attorney Campbell's legal assistant left the practice with with an out of the office "automatic email repsonse" for clients trying to contact her directly to confirm information relating to hearings, appointments, etc.  It states:

From: Email No Longer Valid: [Justice Campbell’s former legal assistant]
Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 11:56 AM
Effective 11/10/2009, this email is no longer in service.

If you want an update regarding your worker’s compensation claim, contact Justice H. Campbell personally at 704-448-3222 and if he refuses to speak to you, which he will, then mostly likely he’s avoiding you because he has NOT worked on your case and IS in the office browsing through facebook… Good luck, you’ll need it.

Do not piss off the secretary, do not piss off the secretary, do not piss off the secretary. . .

Speedy Trial

From the Billings Gazette this report on the effect of a 4 year delay on the prosecution of DWI vehicular triple homicide;  prosecution delays and the judge’s error led to the dismissal of charges in a drunken-driving crash that killed three people in Petroleum County, Montana--this is from Diane Cochrane's article:

"District Court Judge E. Wayne Phillips dismissed the case against Troy Jay Child because more than four years passed between the Sept. 15, 2005, wreck and the date set for trial.  'Stepping back and viewing the
entirety of the delays in this case, the Court cannot help but being struck by the total of 1,605 days of delay,' Phillips wrote in a 15-page order. 'That is reprehensible.'  The judge was responsible for some of the delay.  His decision will not be appealed, an official said.

'I don’t know how to describe it,' said Nancy Nelson, whose son, Jim, died in the crash. 'We’re just totally aggravated over the whole deal. It’s been one nightmare after another since the wreck.'

[Troy Jay]Child was accused of being behind the wheel of Jim Nelson’s 2003 Chevrolet pickup when it went off Highway 200 at a curve east of Winnett and then rolled.  The force of the crash separated the cab and front fenders from the frame of the pickup.   Investigators determined that the truck was traveling 20 mph over the posted speed limit and that all four people inside were intoxicated, according to documents filed by Petroleum County Attorney Monte Boettger.  Three people were ejected from the truck and died at the scene. They were Donald Schmidt, 61, and his son Dean Schmidt, 35, of Mandan, N.D., and Nelson, 33, of Hungry Horse.

Phillips dismissed the case [ . . . ] after Child’s public defender, Douglas Day, filed a motion claiming Child’s right to a speedy trial had been violated."
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Gee, talk about public officials not living up to the competence part of the deal.

Feeding the Poor Is Like Feeding Stray Dogs, They Just Keep Breeding

South Carolina Lt. Govenor Andre Bauer told  a town hall meeting that feeding the poor is like feeding stray animals according to Nathaniel Cary of the Greenville News


"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better," Bauer said.

Do you know why we feed the poor, Lt. Governor Bauer?  One of the practical reasons we" feed the poor," you moron, is so that you and your family have a measure of safety and security in your little protected white cocoon.  If we didn't, the poor would most assuredly take it from you, they will snatch it from your children, they will rob your constitutents, the will take it,  violently if need be, from their businesses and they will take if by force from your friends.  But, more importantly, we feed the poor, sir, because to some degree or another we are all the poor.  Your specific form of poverty appears to be moral bankruptcy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thieving Lawyers--Thieving Law Schools [re-edit]

Above The Law points us to a depressing story of Lawyers stealing from clients; this time en masse in California.  The story from Saturday's Fresno Bee perfectly captures the insidious and incremental way lawyers find their way into positions in which there really is no way back.   In some instances it's the age old problem of lawyers managing significant sums of money from settlements of lawsuits that do not belong to them, that belongs to the client and borrowing from the money with a plan (?) to return the money to the account in time to make a distribution. 

California and (probably) every state is dealing with hundreds of attorneys involved in mortgage modification scams, a form of active fraud, that involves taking money from folks facing foreclosure and doing nothing for the fees paid. 


The only scams the bar associations and disciplinary counsel ignore are the fraudulent misrepresentations by law schools that induce bright young men and women to incur an average of$120,000 worth of debt only to enter a profession with few jobs, no mentoring, and a non-existent skill set. 

These pathetic over-educated hordes are unleashed on the world twice a year unable to competently represent clients, pay debt, pay taxes, pay the light and telephone bills, or afford to employ staff.  These law school scams (check UCLA Law School's  website, if you don't believe me)  with their fasle promise of a remunerative career in a respected profession are chimeras and need to be shut down.  Law schools are as bad, certainly more pernicious than the trade schools that sprung up to scam federal dollars for work trasitioning when that program came into being during the last recession.  Think about it, those phony trade schools didn't unleash licensed hordes of ill-skilled, indebted "professionals," on the public to perpetrate further harm.

Pedestrians In Crosswalks

This post is about trying to cross the street.

For the many years, when I worked downtown, I had monthly parking privileges across the street,--West 3rd Street (incidentally, West 3rd was briefly named in honor of the long-time, now-disgraced alcoholic Sheriff of OurCounty.) 


On each end of this short stretch of West 3rd Street which runs north-south, major east-west intersections are controlled by traffic signals. The significance of this fact, is that cars are usually at a dead stop immediately prior to approaching the crosswalk which was at a mid-point.  The cars should not be faster than 25 mph. The entire distance from one light to the other was no more than 450 yards and as I said--with the pedestrian cross walk bisecting at a small one-way crossing street.  The lots were separated from one another by this small one-way street that ran in front of my building on Public Square and south to a W. 9th Street.  The foot traffic across this crosswalk during the hours between 8 am-9 am, and; again, at 4 pm-5:30 pm is steady.  This crosswalk remains active throughout the day, since this is the foot route to the federal court house, and the state office building. 

Notwithstanding, the cars race through the throngs of pedestrians, often gesturing and shouting and with impunity, not giving an inch. 

To cross in this crosswalk with cars moving along West 3rd is to take your life in your hands.   I'm not going to say literally, or actually, in reality, or fatally--since fatalities have occurred in this crosswalk, and in the crosswalks ringing public square including a recent horrific (available to you with a strong stomach on YouTube) homicide of a crosswalk pedestrian by a city bus driver who was texting.  Which brings me to this article from Madison, Wisconsin;  according to the Wisconsin State Journal, the Madison police ran an operation directed at this problem and cited 35 drivers in 4 hours last Tuesday. 

Wisconsin is not your most urban locale, but according to the article 756 pedestrians were hit last year with 58 fatalities.  Which makes me think that the statistics must be mindbending, and sure enough a cursory Google searcxh turns up this link on pedestrian-motor vehicle statistics from 2008.  The shocker in this article, is that 64,000 pedestrians are injured every year, and 5,000 killed.  The numbers dwarf the losses in in Iraq and Afganistan over the same period. 

When you cross West 3rd Street as I did nearly every working day of my career sometimes, multiple times I can not tell you how many times I've been shouted at, nearly hit, and seen near misses involving others.  While the traffic right of way in the United States is that pedestrians have the right of way, in crosswalks, being mighty cold comfort when you are dead. 

This is on my mind, in part because I was offered a job which I'm inclined to take.  It offers a slow, steady road back.  I have no ambivalence at all about the job offer or the terrific people who extended this opportunity--it is legal support work that is already in my wheelhouse. Obviously, my efforts at Bad Lawyer will be affected, and yet for the time being I do not envision ending this chronicle.  My exhausitve look at the odd corners of the local legal world will change, how--I can't say, maybe it will be improved with the need to budget my time--we shall see.  

Back to the crosswalks--as you will recall I've been looking for a path back, I hope not to be run down in the crosswalk.

Murder Mystery Fans


Murder mystery fans can do no better than yesterday's New York Times article about the Knoxville homicides of Devid Leath and Ed Dossett. 

The trial of Raynella Dossett Leath (top pic)  is underway in Knoxville, and the coverage by Shaila Dewan in yesterday's Times is not to be missed if you are a fan of damn fine crime writing as I am.

That Candy Is Almost as Addictive as Crack Cocaine


The one of the two gentlemen in the picture spent 5 DAYS IN JAIL because coconut candy found in their work van by an idiot cop was mistakenly believed to be crack cocaine according to an amazing account in the New York Daily News:

"Cops accused Cesar Rodriguez and Jose Pena of having crack cocaine in their work van, but it was only coconut candy, they said Friday.  Charges were dropped after tests showed they were telling the truth, but the two men plan to file a $2 million suit against the NYPD.'I spent five days in jail for possession of coconut candy,' said Rodriguez, 33, an ex-con who works as a plumber's assistant.  He and Pena were parked near an Arthur Ave. bodega Jan. 15 when two police officers asked to search their green Chevy Venture van, the men said.  The cops found pieces of the crystalline candy - known as crema de coco and sold in bodegas across the city - in a plastic baggie.  Officer Anthony Burgos of the 48th Precinct arrested the duo for drug possession despite their insistence they were guilty only of a sweet tooth, Rodriguez said.'I kept telling him it is candy,' he said.  Rodriguez and Pena were locked up on a Friday night and didn't see a judge for arraignment until that Sunday, said their lawyer, Neil Wollerstein." 
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Being an ex-con meant Rodriguez was not able to obtain an affordable bond and he spent 5 days in jail, while Pena spent 3 days, incacerated.

 Nice police work, there.

Fake Electrocutions of Inmates, That's a Lot of Fun!

There are just so few real bennies to correctional work, so who would be churlish enought to deny the guards the fun of a few "fake electrocutions?"  This report is from NJ.Com reporting from Avenal, New Jersey cuts to the chase:


"One week before Javier Tabora’s release from the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel, a specialized prison for sex offenders, he was summoned to an examination room.  Once there, Tabora later told investigators, a sergeant instructed him to sit in an electronic chair used to scan inmates for contraband and pretend to be electrocuted.  Tabora sat in the chair yelling and shaking, 'pretending that electricity was coming from the chair,' he said. Then he placed 'cream soup' in his mouth and allowed it to seep out 'for added effect.'  The entire ruse was allegedly conducted to frighten a second inmate, Robert Grant, a sex offender with a history of mental health problems whom officers planned to question. In a separate interview, Grant told investigators he saw an inmate with 'foam coming from his mouth' and then became 'upset, nervous and shaking' when officers sat him in the chair while interrogating him.

The officers involved denied the allegations, saying none of Tabora’s account was true. They told investigators they were only using the chair to search Grant for contraband before questioning him. Instead of threatening to electrocute Grant, they said, the officers were trying to reassure him by unplugging the chair, used to detect metal in objects like weapons or cell phones, because Grant’s handcuffs set off an alarm, scaring him.

The conflicting accounts of the Oct. 3 incident were contained in a confidential internal affairs report obtained by The Star-Ledger.  The investigation, which concluded this month, did not substantiate the electrocution threat or the preceding ruse, according to the report. Without a video camera in the examination room, the case boiled down to the officers’ word against the inmates’.

Earlier this month, the department moved to fire the three veteran officers involved but instead struck a deal allowing them to keep their jobs and receive transfers to other facilities, according to officials and documents.  Each pleaded guilty to multiple infractions including conduct unbecoming and violation of safety regulations, according to the settlement agreements. Sergeants Mark Percoco and Steven Russo, also charged with neglect of duty, are serving 105-day suspensions without pay, while officer Edward Aponte will be off the job for 14 days. Officials, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal investigation, said there wasn’t enough evidence to support firing the officers if the case reached an administrative hearing.

'The investigation didn’t produce the results that we thought,' one official said. 'We knew we weren’t going to be able to sustain the removal.'  In addition, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office declined to pursue criminal charges. The internal documents obtained by this newspaper provide a rare glimpse at an internal investigation and the disciplinary process within the state’s prison system. Such proceedings are kept confidential: public records show when disciplinary action is taken but reveal little about the employees’ infractions or how the punishment was decided.

The Oct. 3 incident also raises questions about how inmate complaints are handled in state prisons. Officers told investigators they were questioning Grant because he was making threats against an officer, but the internal report concluded the 'threats' were only the filing of 'remedy forms,' which give inmates a way to express concerns. And, when pressed, no one could locate the 'threatening' complaints Grant was accused of writing.  Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed concern that inmates were being discouraged from complaining.  'Respect for internal affairs and prisoners’ rights to address grievances is essential to the integrity of prisons and other such institutions,'  she said. 'The only way to create a silver lining to this tragic and appalling incident is to use it as a springboard for establishing grievance and oversight systems and training programs to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.'

During the four-month probe documented in the internal report, investigators videotaped interviews with inmates Grant and Tabora, the three officers under investigation, and several other employees in the prison.  The facility, built in 1976, provides treatment to about 650 sex offenders, including those with mental illnesses. Corrections spokesman Matt Schuman declined to comment on this case, and Russo’s lawyer did not return messages left at his office. Tabora, now under parole supervision, referred questions to his lawyer, who did not return calls for comment.

Robert Fagella, a Newark lawyer representing Aponte, said his client is a model employee whose lighter suspension shows he didn’t do anything seriously wrong. 'He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,' Fagella said. 'There wasn’t very much there to charge him with. I think it was a face-saving device.'

The Oct. 3 incident was brought to the attention of investigators by a third inmate at the prison, the report said. The inmate told investigators Grant was being mocked by staff members who were "making a sizzling sound" like they were 'frying meat.'  The inmate said Grant was telling other inmates he was strapped to a chair and threatened with electrocution.  The investigation found that Aponte and Russo had gone to the prison’s recreation yard to fetch Grant, then brought him handcuffed to the examination room for a strip search. Percoco told investigators he brought Tabora to the room to reorganize equipment, then sent him out when Grant arrived. Russo said they asked Grant to sit on the electronic chair to search him for metal. According to Russo, Grant has a habit of using razor blades to remove tobacco from cigarette butts in the prison yard.  Afterward, Russo told investigators, they escorted Grant from the room, providing him juice at a nearby office before releasing him.  According to the Corrections website, Grant is now serving his five-year term at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton.
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You know, it's kind of a relief that we don't just pull this sort of shit on Iraqis and Afganis. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shylock, Usury and the Letter of the Law


My friend Gayle has an excellent essay on one of the original Legal Dramas in the English language--Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.  Gayle's Bard Blog is truly a place to warm your neurons over the next few weeks;  and, thereafter if we can encourage her.

Machette's in Bars, Why Not?



Machette's in bars?  Why not.  Are you listening Tennessee legislators?

Here, we have the perfect combination of weaponry, machete's and bar stools, courtesy of the Idaho Statesman. Yes, a story to give succor to our beleaguered Tennessee law makers thwarted in their heoric effort to enable these most important of human liberties, the right to Bear Arms.  Here's the account: 

"Nampa police say charges are pending against a man who attacked bar patrons with a machete early Friday morning.The man was thrown out of a bar on the 1600 block of 1st Street North after causing a drunken fracas about 12:30 a.m. Friday, Sgt. Mike Wagoner said. The man returned a few minutes later wielding a machete, Wagoner said.  A bar patron took a bar stool and hit the machete-wielding man, 'flattening' him, Wagoner said.  Police wouldn't identify the man with the machete because charges are pending. The man will likely be charged with two counts of aggravated assault, Wagoner said."

So I say, let's go for it.  We could even have machete and bar stool leagues.

Fire the Tomboy, Whatta You Mean--That's Sex Discrimination?

The Associated Press is reporting on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision reversing summary judgment in a sex discrimination case where a "Tomboy" clerk at the Heartland Inns hotel chain was fired for appearing "too masculine."

 Brenna Lewis had received two merit-pay increases while at her Heartland Inn's job and received praise from patrons of the hotel chain for her service.  Nonetheless, Heartland, fired Miss Lewis:  I'm quoting from the court of appeals decision:

"'After seeing Lewis, however, [a supervisor] told [Lewis' boss] that she was not sure Lewis was a 'good fit' for the front desk.  [The supervisor] called [Lewis's boss] a few days later and again raised the subject of Lewis' appearance. Lewis describes her own appearance as 'slightly more masculine,' and [her boss] has characterized it as 'an Ellen DeGeneres kind of look.'"

Preposterous!  Employers look like silly asses when they go down this path.  How they look, that, my dear readers,  is what should concern them.