Bad Ideas, Cardozo Law School, Federal Judges, Jed Rakoff, Law Schools, S.D.N.Y., Trials, U.S. Attorneys Offices

Some Law Students Learn From Their Mistakes; Others Sue The U.S. Marshals Over A Cell Phone

There are wiser career moves than suing the U.S. Marshals.

Do you remember Benula Bensam? You probably don’t. She was the student at Cardozo Law School who spent part of her summer watching the Rajat Gupta trial. She was reprimanded for sending notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.), including some that questioned Rakoff’s rulings. Such behavior could be seen as an attempt to improperly influence a judge, and so Rakoff had the U.S. Marshals bring her before him, and he told her to cut it out.

Yeah, you remember her now. It was a humorous story about a law student who was maybe a little bit overzealous.

But now Bensam is taking things to the next level. Instead of quietly learning her lesson and getting ready for next semester, the Cardozo student has decided to sue a whole slew of people. She claims that U.S. Marshals didn’t return her cell phone — before they returned her cell phone — and so she’s suing the Marshals, courthouse security, the U.S. Attorney for the S.D.N.Y., and several other defendants. In the process of suing, she’s also revealing how she had what I’d call a bit of a nutty outside the courthouse.

This complaint is just going to do wonders for her Google footprint….

First of all, behold this awesome case caption:

Yeah, this is gonna be good.

Bensam admits to passing notes to Rakoff, but claims that the U.S. Marshals mistreated her when they pulled her out of the courtroom to reprimand her:

A word of advice: do not attempt end a conversation with U.S. Marshals by walking away without answering their questions.

In any event, after getting her stuff, Bensam attempted to retrieve her cell phone. These next allegations form the heart of Bensam’s complaint:

Bensam refused to show ID, and left the courthouse that day without her cell phone. She returned the next day, and this time she got her phone. She didn’t show ID, but the Marshals took a picture of her. She “demanded” that they delete the photo, but the Marshals did not listen to her demands.

This apparently made Bensam angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry:


Somewhere, there is somebody on the Cardozo admissions committee who must be feeling so very proud right now. Way to go!

Okay, tell me what happens next. She’s had a confrontation with U.S. Marshals, and she’s had an impromptu protest outside the courthouse. What do you think happens next?

If you picked “she shows up the next day with another note for Judge Rakoff,” you are a winner.

Now if you’ve been reading along waiting to hear the legally actionable claim here, you’re not alone. Skipping ahead to the claims section:

Also these!

And if you are going to have claims, you’re also going to have remedies:

You can read the full complaint on the next page. I promise you, I didn’t even give you all the highlights.

Let’s get some reaction from her classmates. One Cardozo student we talked to offered this opinion:

The general consensus is that the inevitable appearance on ATL will not look good for us. However, I disagree. I think it shows quite clearly that this is the ravings of an isolated lunatic. She pleads her lunacy with a lot of specificity actually.

That’s what I can’t get over: why would she file a public document that makes her look like this? I feel sorry for her, I really do. She’s passed notes to Judge Rakoff, she’s suing the U.S. Attorney — what’s the upside? Doesn’t she have anybody to tell her that this is not the way to make a name for herself in this profession?

Like I said, you can get a full peek inside her world by clicking through to read her complaint. It’s funny, to be sure, but it’s also sad. She’s taken a humorous story and turned it into this. Instead of learning from her note-passing mistake, she’s just compounding the error…..

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