Cardozo Law School, Federal Judges, Law Schools, S.D.N.Y., U.S. Attorneys Offices

Law Student Doesn’t Totally Get Shut Down In Quest To Make Her Note-Passing Mistake Live On Forever

Now that classes are back in session, I really hope some professor at Cardozo Law School pulls Benula Bensam aside and tells her that her keeping the story about her passing notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) alive is probably not helping her chances of securing a legal job.

You’ll remember Bensam as the student who got reprimanded for passing notes to Judge Rakoff during the Rajat Gupta trial. She went on to sue federal prosecutors and marshals for a number of claims arising out of largely standard courthouse security protocols. As we’ve previously discussed, upon leaving the courthouse Bensam wanted her cell phone back and had problems getting it.

Judge Andrew L. Carter (S.D.N.Y.) kicked most of Bensam’s case today, but he did give her leave to file an amended complaint on one issue.

For her sake, I hope she doesn’t take it…

To refresh your memory, Carter’s decision starts with all the people that Bensam sued:

The cases against all the named participants were dismissed, mainly for failure to state a claim. I guess Cardozo Law didn’t spend enough time going over Bivens factors in Bensam’s class, because most of her complaints failed that test.

But, quite surprisingly actually, Judge Carter didn’t completely scoff at her claim that two unnamed federal marshals inappropriately withheld her cell phone in violation of her Fourth Amendment protections:

Great. Now somebody at Cardozo needs to pull Bensam aside and explain to her the concept of saving face. Judge Carter didn’t totally smack her around like a rag doll. If she stops now, she can run around and say that she had a claim that she “chose” not to pursue, but she made her point. Great. Everybody wins.

Let’s leave it at that. Because every time somebody has to mention that this whole situation arose from passing notes to a judge, every time somebody has to dig up the fact that she had a private protest outside the courthouse over a cell phone, every time somebody is forced to write the words “Benula Bensam,” is a time that is not good for Benula Bensam’s future job prospects. If she takes this further, the next concept someone at Cardozo will have to explain to her is “Pyrrhic victory.”

And yeah, I’m putting it on Cardozo to talk some sense into her. You guys admitted her, you guys gave her the little bit of knowledge that she’s been using to match wits with Jed Rakoff and Preet Bharara. You guys said you would train her, so train her. With great power comes some goddamn responsibility.

She clearly didn’t know it was inappropriate to pass notes to a judge during a trial. She evidently thought it was a good idea to sue the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshals, pro se. It should be the job of the law school to teach their students not just about black letter law, but also about how lawyers should conduct themselves.

School is in session; it’s time to teach.

(You can flip to the next page to view Judge Carter’s order in full.)

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