While other prisoners are lifting weights or playing basketball, Michael Ray is working 40 hours a week, his head buried in legal texts and journals. Over the years, the jailhouse lawyer has helped dozens of fellow inmates file appeals, sometimes with success.
But recently Ray secured an achievement rarely seen by even the most experienced of attorneys on the outside: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in one of his cases.
Quips a tipster: “I wonder how many associates would get more appellate experience if they just got convicted of a felony or two.”
A little more discussion — as well as a shout-out to another pseudo-lawyer with criminal tendencies, Brian Valery — after the jump.
Still from the AP:
Legal experts estimate the high court accepts less than 1 percent of the thousands of cases it receives each year. The court’s action was even more extraordinary in this instance, because the appeal was drawn up by a prisoner who earns 29 cents an hour and does not even have a college degree, much less a law school education.
Twenty-nine cents an hour, and he can get cert petitions granted? At $160K, first-year associates are looking overpaid.
Michael Ray’s success becomes less surprising in light of his pre-prison background:
Ray has been behind bars for much of his adult life for various fraud schemes. A former paralegal on the outside, he is nearing the end of a six-year sentence handed down after he pleaded guilty to various offenses, including passing a bad check for about $285,000 as part of a real estate scheme in Myrtle Beach.
Ah, an ex-paralegal — like Brian Valery, who successfully passed himself as an associate at Anderson Kill & Olick for two years.
Speaking of Brian Valery, here’s the latest news on him, from the New York Post:
Valery, 33, of Massapequa Park, LI, stood [last week] before a Manhattan judge, who sentenced him to five years of probation for pulling off the elaborate masquerade. “I guess he got away with it so long because he was so talented, and so hardworking,” said Valery’s lawyer, Bob LaRusso.
That’s one way of looking at it.
The punishment came after it was discovered that Valery had fibbed his way up the ladder at insurance-litigation heavyweight Anderson Kill & Olick – going from a lowly, $21,000-a-year paralegal to earning $155,000 as a staff attorney….
Valery was calm during his brief sentencing – but flipped out when he saw photographers waiting outside .
He nearly got run over by a car as he dashed across Lafayette Street, then slipped and fell to his knees while attempting to bob and weave evasively on the rain-slicked sidewalk.
“Leave me alone! Leave me alone!” he shouted.
Where’s Chris Crocker when you need him?
In addition to probation, Valery has to pay back $225,000 in ill-gotten salary to the firm, and serve 100 hours of community service.
Almost a cool quarter-million — no small sum. But look on the bright side: at least Valery perpetrated his fraud before the latest round of pay raises.
Jailed law clerk gets inmate to Supreme Court [AP via MSNBC]
Bogus Attorney Takes A Trip [New York Post]