What Mr. [Richard] Trenk did was so egregiously sloppy that I’m told his name is entering the legal lexicon: “To Trenk” means “to show a lackadaisical attitude toward the law, with catastrophic results for the client.” A usage example might be: “We were doing great until the lawyer missed the filing deadline and Trenked the whole case.”
— Jake Freivald, owner of the domain name westorange.info, in public comments made during last night’s West Orange Township Council meeting. Freivald received a cease-and-desist letter from Trenk, and Freivald’s lawyer, Stephen Kaplitt, responded with a snarky letter that went viral globally.
(What else happened at the meeting? I attended, and it was a hot mess, jam-packed with shouting and even tears. Read on to get the juicy details….)
When public comments were opened, residents of West Orange stepped up the podium, repeatedly, to denounce Richard Trenk’s actions taken on behalf of the town. One fellow noted that a friend of his, a lawyer from France, had called him about the cease-and-desist letter. He then went on to state that “this kind of behavior … is the MO of the town attorney.” He concluded by letting the Town Council know that he thought it was “time for Richard Trenk to hit the road.”
Other townspeople used phrases like “national embarrassment” to describe the situation the Town Council had put West Orange into after attorney Stephen Kaplitt’s response to Trenk’s C&D letter went viral. Truth be told, the sh*t really hit the fan after Freivald delivered his comments.
Here’s Council President Victor Cirilo defending Trenk’s cease-and-desist letter:
My favorite outburst: “Where did you get your law degree? All of a sudden you’re an attorney?”
The best part, hands down, was when Cirilo admitted that he wasn’t sure if Trenk’s “poorly researched [and] poorly written” letter had any legal basis or not, and was then asked why he was defending it publicly if that was the case. Shortly thereafter, Councilman Joe Krakoviak broke down in tears, telling the audience that it was the worst town council meeting he’d ever watched or been a part of.
It was definitely a night to remember, and it’s probably fair to say that Richard Trenk won’t be getting his contract renewed as town attorney. Sorry, but sh*t happens when shoddy legal work goes viral.
(Flip to the next page to see the epic response to Trenk’s cease-and-desist letter, in case you missed it last week — or want to enjoy it again….)