Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal joined ATL in 2008 by winning the ATL Idol Contest. Prior to joining ATL, Elie wrote about politics and popular culture at City Hall News and the New York Press. Elie received a degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He was formerly a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton but quit the legal profession to pursue a career as an online provocateur. He's written editorials for the New York Daily News and the New York Times, and he has appeared on both MSNBC and Fox News without having to lie about his politics to either news organization.

Posts by Elie Mystal

The Supreme Court of the United States (photo by Drew Havens).

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article by Adam Liptak on the increasingly suspect “facts” that the Supreme Court cites in some of its opinions. Whether penned by the justices themselves or the little twits who actually do the heavy lifting on the opinion-writing, opinions from the Court have become a veritable wasteland of dubious figures, outlandish claims, and hardcore pornography. Or, rather, just the first two.

Sex-crazed Stephen Breyer, for instance, is said to have relied on a discontinued blog for a statistic related to public libraries. The blog, wackyliberryfacts.blogspot.com, has two posts since 2008 and both have to do with Michael Hutchence’s death. A good read, if maybe a bit too reliant on incorrect lyrics from Suicide Blonde.

On the right side of the Court (and history…?), coozehound Samuel Alito is said to have cited an unreliable fact about background checks done by employers in a 2011 opinion. The fact? That 47 percent of Americans can’t come up with Joe Biden’s name when asked who our Vice President is. Which, as far as I can tell, is a totally true fact! But its connection to background checks is tenuous, if not downright nonexistent.

Given the fact that our nation’s entire legal edifice threatens to crumble under the weight of a thousand erroneous internet “facts,” we’ve decided to help the Court out. Here are five ways the court can get around the shoddy fact-checking in judicial opinions.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Indifference To Truth: 5 Ways SCOTUS Can Avoid Relying On Dubious ‘Facts’”

Whenever you go to an unaccredited law school, you are assuming the risk that the school doesn’t get accredited. The law school isn’t going to give you your money back if the ABA doesn’t accept it into the club.

Then again, even if you go to an accredited school, things are not set in stone. The gamble of going to a law school of middling rank is taking its toll on some students in the Pacific Northwest. On the bright side, at least some students can now leave, guilt-free, and start whatever else they’re going to do with their lives…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Week In Law Schools In Trouble”

As clear as I can tell, Becker & Poliakoff lawyer and out-homophobe Walter Kubitz, author of the now-infamous “gay plague of AIDS” email, still has a job. I’m not at all sure why. Becker & Poliakoff keeps saying that such divisive views about gays and lesbians do not reflect the firm’s “core values” and will not be tolerated… AND YET the firm clearly values Kubitz enough that he is still being tolerated by the firm.

Is Kubitz just a fantastic attorney that Becker can’t afford to lose? The man has been working for 30 years and still hasn’t made “shareholder” at the firm, so I don’t think he can be SO good that the firm just can’t do without him. What kind of power does this guy have? Jesus, does Kubitz have photos of Becker shareholders getting gay with Santa Claus? Maybe firm management doesn’t understand that pictures of them getting busy with each other at a firm retreat would be CONSIDERABLY LESS DAMAGING to the firm’s reputation than continuing to employ such a proud homophobe.

Becker just put up a statement on their website about the Kubitz situation. The statement doesn’t actually say what Kubitz did, doesn’t contain an apology from Kubitz, and hides behind religious toleration rhetoric when that’s not even the point of what happened here. Let’s give it a close read….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is Walter Kubitz The Greatest Lawyer Of All Time?”


He was in a wheelchair. Why would he shoot? He could have just hit the man, beat him up.

Anita Johnson, a Miami-area woman, commenting on the killing of an unarmed panhandler in a wheelchair. Miami police have arrested Rodney Louis for allegedly shooting the panhandler before leading the cops on a 20-minute, high-speed chase. I suppose the days when handicapped beggars were merely dragged from their wheeled chariots and assaulted are but a fleeting memory of what America used to be.

Have you heard of “immigrant-investment visas.” I hadn’t, but doesn’t it seem like exactly the kind of thing we would have? You pay us a lot of money, we give you a green card.

I know, putting it that way makes it seem a little too much like people can buy citizenship. Which they can. But the government dresses it up so it doesn’t sound quite as shady. From the Wall Street Journal:

Started 24 years ago, the EB-5 program allots 10,000 visas annually to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. development projects, from dairy farms and ski resorts to hotels and bridges. In return, the investor and family members become eligible for green cards, or permanent residency, typically within two years.

Yeah, that still sounds pretty shady. People with $500,000 to sink into a freaking ski resort are probably doing just fine in their home country. At the very least, they’re probably not fleeing political or economic desperation and in need of fast-tracked immigration decisions.

According to the Journal, wealthy investors do this for their children. Yes, the children of wealthy investors benefit from this program. Meanwhile — excuse me, let me set my rage meter to nova — there are thousands of kids with their faces pushed up against the glass of America right now, FLEEING DEATH.

Continue Reading On Above the Law Redline…

* Are Apple and Samsung really still fighting? Even people who live on the West Bank are tired of this pointless conflict. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Tim Wu + New York Times = Oh, like you could pick Robert Duffy out of a lineup. [New York Times]

* Wow, a cop actually got disciplined for choking a… oh, wait, he choked a white kid. Well OBVIOUSLY you’re not supposed to do that. [Washington Post]

* Yes, but what if you beat your wife while on marijuana? What will you do then, NFL? [ESPN]

* And now for the part where Miley Cyrus ruined that homeless man’s life. [ABA Journal]

* Jeff Kessler has some experience watching the free market destroy things. [New York Times]

* Let me explain how “The Man” works. First, he takes away your leg room on the airplane. Then, he just waits for somebody to try to recline his seat, and waits for the plebeians to kill themselves. The recliner is not your enemy. The airlines are… also the jackass recliners. [The Upshot / New York Times]

Somebody is going to need to do a study on the lost productivity caused by the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon. It’s been pretty amazing. Not that I support what’s really going on here: we should be living in frictionless times, but the exclusivity deals like the one FXX has struck with the Simpsons can make it more difficult to access the content you want on the platform where you want it. At this point, we need an app to tell us what app we need to download the shows we want.

I know, I know, my fears are groundless and my complaints moronic. Whatever, I get FXX and I either work from home or in an office where I can watch TV and say things like “I’ll finish this post between the 29th and 32nd minutes of the hour, thanks.”

It occurs to me that if you are at work, like a real work job, you might be missing out and much of this zeitgeist. Come on, just because you are locked in an office and chained to a desk, doesn’t mean you can’t procrastinate with your fellow Americans.

Let us reminisce about the patron saint of lawyers, Lionel Hutz…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Memoriam: Miguel Sanchez, A.K.A Lionel Hutz”

As an openly gay attorney at Becker & Poliakoff for over nine years, I know that the email sent by this attorney does not reflect the core values of this firm. In fact, Becker & Poliakoff is committed to diversity as reflected by the firm’s hiring practices, outreach and diversity scholarships awarded annually.

Michael Gongora, a shareholder at Becker & Poliakoff, explaining how outreach and scholarships might help future Becker lawyers learn where AIDS comes from. The firm says it has taken “immediate and severe” action against Walter Kubitz in light of his homophobic firm-wide email, but still refuses to announce the nature of the action. Kubitz’s profile is still up on the firm website, so I’m wondering if Becker management understands what “immediate and severe” even means.

The last few years have helped me get very used to the passive-aggressive bigotry that homophobes still think they can get away with. “Just believing” that marriage is between a man and a woman conveniently leaves out the stunning antipathy to gay love and civil rights… but it doesn’t sound as “hateful” as it is. And the idea that gay marriage can somehow threaten straight marriages sounds more stupid than bigoted, even though it’s both.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to search very long for harsh anti-gay rhetoric. But in the refreshingly genteel environment of educated society, old-school, anti-gay hate speech comes off as particularly harsh.

Old-school, anti-gay hate speech captured over law firm email is downright surprising given the current environment. But then again, bigoted statements that a senior lawyer sent out to all attorneys at a law firm come back all the way around to “incredibly stupid.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this stupid, bigoted, dumbass, hate-filled, verbal feces slathered all over law firm email is… quaint.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Senior Lawyer Unleashes ‘Old School’ Homophobic Rant, Hits ‘Reply All’”

So, it appears that there are some people who have ignored my advice and are about to show up to law school anyway. Still more people never heard my advice from their pre-law advisor/philosophy major. Welcome to the suck.

Well, there’s nothing for it now. You’re in it now and if you have chosen poorly it’ll be years before you fully realize the gravity of your decision. In the meantime, what are you supposed to do now? Classes are starting and… hey, are you briefing a case? Are you briefing a freaking case before classes even start? Jesus. PUT THOSE HIGHLIGHTERS DOWN.

You’ve heard about “outlines,” right? Outlines allow you to copy other people’s work so you don’t have to do it yourself. This is the way of things. I say, cheating is the gift man gives himself.

It’s time for some tips…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Elie’s 8 Tips For 1L Year”

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