Asians

Testimony is now over in the trial of Gerald Ung, the Temple Law student facing charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault stemming from a shooting in January 2010. Ung shot Eddie DiDonato, a former Villanova lacrosse captain and the son of a politically connected partner at the Fox Rothschild law firm.

Throughout the trial, Ung’s counsel, renowned Philadelphia defense lawyer Jack McMahon, has argued that his client acted in self-defense. As he said in his opening statement, “This case is about privileged, drunken bullies, four guys, tough guys, big-muscle guys. It’s unfortunate what happened to this young man [DiDonato], but it was their own fault.”

Today Gerald Ung got to drive this point home, in his own words. In a rare move for a criminal defendant, Ung took the stand, testifying for almost two hours.

How did Ung do? Let’s find out — and play the role of jurors, by voting in a reader poll….

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Gerald Ung (left) and Edward DiDonato Jr. (right)

In response to our last story about Gerald Ung — the Temple Law student now on trial for attempted murder and aggravated assault (among other charges), after shooting Eddie DiDonato, a former Villanova lacrosse captain and the son of a prominent Fox Rothschild partner — some commenters expressed the view that our coverage was too favorable to the prosecution.

Look — we have no dog in this fight. It seems that the part of the post readers found most objectionable was a blockquote from a source who attended the trial, which we reprinted simply because it was from someone actually present in the courtroom. Sadly, Above the Law doesn’t have a Philadelphia bureau. If you’ve been attending the trial and would like to share your thoughts with us, we’d love to hear from you.

Another reason why the earlier story might have seemed more pro-prosecution is that it was describing the prosecution’s side of the case and the early prosecution witnesses. Now that the trial has been going on for several days, a fuller version of events has emerged. This will culminate tomorrow, when defendant Gerald Ung is expected to take the stand. This is not typical — it happens more on TV and in the movies than in real life — but then again, this is not the typical case. Ung’s defense lawyer, Jack McMahon, may be betting on the ability of his client — a law student, presumably intelligent and articulate — to win over the jury.

Let’s learn more about what’s been going on at the trial over the past few days — and hear some juicy tidbits about defense counsel McMahon….

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As a deeply self-loathing Asian-American, I do not support Asians shooting white people. The white people were nice enough to let us (or our ancestors) into this great country of theirs; the least we can do is show some gratitude.

In addition, as an emasculated Asian male (is that redundant?), I don’t like guns. Of course, I respect the Second Amendment, and I’m not endorsing any specific gun-control legislation. Legal and constitutional questions aside, I just think that guns are icky and scary and bad, and the world would be a better place if nobody had them.

Given all my weird hang-ups about Asians and guns, I probably wouldn’t have made it on to the jury in Commonwealth v. Ung. The criminal trial of (former?) Temple Law student Gerald Ung — a gun-toting Asian accused of shooting Eddie DiDonato, a former Villanova lacrosse captain and the son of a prominent Fox Rothschild partner — got underway in Philadelphia this week.

And Ung’s lawyer, defense attorney Jack McMahon, seems to be standing up for the right of his client to shoot some bros — in self-defense, of course….

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Thank you, Above the Law readers. The results are in for January’s Lawyer of the Month, and I can happily report that I do not write for an audience comprised solely of heartless, cynical d-bags.

Seriously, I’m going to be able to talk to my mother about what I do for a living for a whole week.

In a month that had some worthwhile competitors, one lawyer stood out above the rest…

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As many of you know, one of our running features here at Above the Law is Lawyer of the Day. We don’t literally name one every day, but we like to keep you informed of the famous and infamous lawyers of the world. At the end of the year, we give you guys an opportunity to vote for a Lawyer of the Year.

Apparently you guys like to vote on lawyers, so why limit the experience to once a year? Above the Law has decided to let you crown a lawyer every month. We’ll pick the nominees (going forward, feel free to submit nominees to us at tips@abovethelaw.com, and you’ll vote for the most deserving. There are no specific criteria — just vote for the lawyer or lawyers you think most deserve the title.

Let’s get to this month’s nominees…

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Confucius say: "Sit down and watch my home video of my Carnival cruise or I'll sue you."

Chinese New Year is this week (February 3rd). May the year of the rabbit bring you health and good fortune. Holiday preparations are well underway, and hopefully people will take the time to reconnect with family and friends.

And if you don’t visit your parents, they might sue you. A new proposal from the Chinese Civil Affairs Ministry seeks to mandate parental visits from Chinese children. And if the children don’t regularly visit their parents, the parents can sue.

We shouldn’t look at this as a new law: it’s just a modern update on an ancient law. Old people have long tried to find ways of forcing their kids to pay attention to them. Some societies use laws, others use the magical threat of eternal damnation. Some parents merely trust that their own skills in psychological torture will keep the kiddies hanging around on the off chance that one day mommy or daddy will be “proud” of them.

But as modern medicine artificially extends life, every society is wrestling with the problem of what to do with old people nobody cares about anymore. China has a long history of trying to regulate the most intimate of familial interactions, so when you think about it, this proposal isn’t really shocking…

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If everyone hates this lady, why is her book selling so incredibly well? Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has been a blockbuster, ranking in Amazon’s top five last week. Parents have had no trouble laying down $25 and sacrificing five hours of late-night television to soak up Chua’s story.

— bestselling author Po Bronson, writing in New York magazine about Yale law professor Amy Chua and her new, highly controversial book.

Jed? Yes, Jed. Ms. Chua’s husband plays a large role in this story, even if he is made to sound like her hapless foil. He is presented as a handsome, charming and amazingly patient man, especially since his mother and wife had some similar traits. (His mother, according to the book, was once “aghast” at the cheeses Ms. Chua chose for a party and demanded better ones.)

Jed is the fixture without which Ms. Chua’s book would not be possible. And he is often wrong, wrong, wrong about child rearing, which means that the reader will think he is right.

Janet Maslin, in her New York Times review of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the new parenting memoir by Yale law professor Amy Chua (wife of fellow YLS professor Jed Rubenfeld).

Amy Chua

If you’re going to be a diva, then own it. Was this lesson lost on Yale law professor Amy Chua, the author of an incendiary essay in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, and a new book about Eastern versus Western parenting styles, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother?

Professor Chua seems to have it all: brains and beauty; an incredible academic career, with an endowed chair at Yale Law School; a hunky husband, fellow YLS prof Jed Rubenfeld; and two lovely and accomplished daughters. (Speaking of Chua’s kids, does anyone know where her oldest girl, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, is attending, or applying to attend, college? To Asian parents, sending a child to a top college is the ultimate vindication.)

Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld

But Amy Chua may need to work on her bitch-goddess qualities. After her controversial essay about the superiority of Chinese mothers and hard-ass Asian parenting set the blogosphere on fire — and sent her book rocketing to #5 on the Amazon bestseller list — Chua backtracked a bit, instead of defiantly standing her ground.

In interviews with the San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, among other outlets, the self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom” seemed to turn into a pussycat….

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Amy Chua: Yale Law professor and Tiger Mother.

Right now the legal world is abuzz about an essay published over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal by Amy Chua, a prominent (and pulchritudinous) professor at Yale Law School. The essay’s title, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, pretty much says it all. The piece is based on Chua’s new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, described by its publisher as “[a]n awe-inspiring, often hilarious, and unerringly honest story of one mother’s exercise in extreme parenting, revealing the rewards-and the costs-of raising her children the Chinese way.”

What does raising children “the Chinese way” entail? It’s not hard to guess. Here’s a good summary from Vivia Chen (one of the many Asian-American females to write about Chua; see also Jen Chung of Gothamist and Elizabeth Chang of the Washington Post): “Chua is an überachiever who’s hell-bent on raising her kids to be at least as accomplished as she is. Chua seems to delight in playing up to the stereotype of the pushy, academically obsessed Asian mom. So much so that I thought (for a moment) that she was pulling our legs. But she’s serious.”

Very serious. Let’s take a look at how Chua and her husband — Jed Rubenfeld, a Yale law professor, overachiever, and certified hottie, just like his wife — raise their two daughters, Sophia and Louisa Chua-Rubenfeld….

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