We’ve received a spate of tips about judges losing their cool lately. Obviously most of them aren’t going around on killing sprees — or maybe they are — but several have plopped themselves into hot water in other ways.
Some argue that judges are overworked, underpaid, and fed up with disrespectful pro se litigants. Maybe, but how does that explain the Vegas judge we recently flagged in Non-Sequiturs for putting a litigant in jail for saying “thank you”? A litigant can’t get much more respectful.
For the judges we’ll profile here, the real culprit might be a potent cocktail of insecurity and a view of the law as their personal plaything….
* With the capture of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, many legal questions are being asked, like if he’ll be Mirandized, where he’ll be tried, and if he’ll be considered an enemy combatant. [New York Times]
* Thanks for kicking this keg, Mr. Baer: the Department of Justice and Anheuser-Busch InBev have settled their antitrust differences with respect to beer brewery’s planned acquisition of Grupo Modelo. [Legal Times]
* Which firm has a “generous tuition reimbursement” program? And by “generous,” we mean 100% of law school tuition, which is awesome. We may have more on this later today. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* Stan Chesley, the “master of disaster,” is retiring — not because he wants to, but because he’s disbarred in Kentucky and surrendered his Ohio license before the state could take it from him. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* California may soon follow in New York’s footsteps when it comes a pro bono mandate before bar admission, but the New Jersey Bar Association has an active hit out on the idea. [National Law Journal]
* In an effort to avoid a trial that would’ve lasted longer than their sham marriage did in the first place, fauxlebrity Kim Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries settled their divorce last week. [Reuters]
Here’s an idea for an Ethics CLE — tell lawyers they can’t whip out “The Gavel” in front of their clients.
Or in this case, their clients’ mothers.
Now an attorney is facing criminal charges for gross sexual imposition for allegedly exposing himself and fondling a client’s mother. “Gross” is used in the sense of “flagrant,” but the whole story fits the other definition as well….
Attorney John Steele says he has sued more than 20,000 Internet users. Now he's the one in legal trouble.
“It should be clear by now that this court’s focus has shifted from protecting intellectual property rights to attorney misconduct.” — U.S. District Judge Otis Wright
John Steele, the lawyer who told me he’d made “millions” going after people who illegally download pornographic movies, is experiencing some legal trouble of his own. A district judge in Los Angeles has questions about the way in which Steele and his colleagues have conducted their litigation. Ars Technica and Popehat have been providing detailed (and often gleeful) coverage of a series of hearings that may lead to the unraveling of hundreds of lawsuits filed by Steele and his colleagues at Prenda Law against alleged XXX-movie lovers whose IP addresses were caught downloading the films online.
Steele and his colleagues have been pursuing “John Does” who download XXX films without paying for them for copyright violations. When I interviewed him last year, he told me he had filed over 350 of these suits, and that he was at that time suing approximately 20,000 people. The tactic is similar to the one employed by the recording industry years ago, but where RIAA wanted to scare people out of illegal downloads by getting massive, scary judgments in highly publicized cases against individual Napster users, Steele and the lawyers like him are content to get relatively small settlements — deal letters often ask for $3000 or so — from individuals who pay up quietly to avoid being named in public court filings for allegedly watching a film such as “Illegal Ass 2.”
But now Steele and his firm are starting to run into serious problems.
You must remember Judge Wade McCree. Not only is he the son of the first African-American to be appointed to the Sixth Circuit, but he’s also the man who sent sext messages to his bailiff and had an affair with one of the litigants who appeared before him while he was on the bench. Note that we’re no longer using the word “allegedly” in that sentence.
We now know for sure that McCree — who’s been referred to as Judge McCreep since the media caught wind of his sexual derring-do — was getting down and dirty with the woman who he claimed had been stalking and extorting him, the same woman who shouted from the rooftops that she’d banged McCree’s gavel “[o]n his desk, in the chair, the couch, you name it.”
We know with relative certainty that McCree did all of these things because he just admitted it all in his response to the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission’s (MJTC) formal complaint.
Let’s see if he’s got any “shame in [his] game” now….
* If you’re looking for an easy résumé line, then consider joining the Supreme Court bar, an elite organization that doesn’t check to see if its members are still alive. All you need is three years of practice, two signatures, and $200. [Associated Press]
* Stanley Chesley, the master of disaster himself, was disbarred for his “shocking and reprehensible” conduct in a fen-phen case. His wife, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott of the Southern District of Ohio, must be oh so pleased. [Courier-Journal]
* Howrey like dem apples now? Some of Howrey’s former partners, including ex-chairman Robert Ryuak, all lined up to make deals to delay lawsuits from the firm’s bankruptcy trustee, Allan Diamond. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* This Biglaw firm’s future was just a little bit dimmer in 2012, with a 4.9 percent dip in profits per equity partner. This is unexpected from Milbank, a number 3 seed in our March Madness competition. [Am Law Daily]
* The NRA’s New York affiliate filed suit challenging the state’s new gun laws, claiming that a ban on assault weapons violates the Second Amendment — because this is clearly what the founders intended. [Reuters]
* Raj Rajaratnam’s younger brother, Rengan Rajaratnam, was indicted yesterday in a federal insider-trading scheme tied to the Galleon case. You can’t fault the guy, he was just trying to keep it in the family. [Bloomberg]
* Sorry, Dean Boland, but you’re not going anywhere. A judge denied the attorney’s request to withdraw from Paul Ceglia’s Facebook case. He must be wishing there were a dislike button now. [Law 360 (sub. req.)]
* The Senate approved a bill that will keep the government running through September, and it will likely pass in the House, but much of the sequester is still in place. I think we’re supposed to be excited about this. Uh… yay? [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* Sorry, folks, but you’re going to have to continue taking the LSAT in order to get into law school because the ABA says so. Drop that $118 into the burgeoning money pit that is law school, stat! [National Law Journal]
* You must remember that time when the University of Texas Law School Foundation authorized $5.5M in forgivable loans to faculty. Well, now the regents are calling for a probe. Yikes! [San Antonio Express-News]
Bergrin was first arrested back in 2009. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey, where Bergrin once worked before becoming a defense lawyer, brought him to trial. That trial, which took place in 2011, ended with a hung jury. Some time was taken up with appellate machinations (in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office prevailed).
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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