Bad Ideas

dumbells dumbbells weight lifting weightlifting.jpgThis hasn’t turned into a lawsuit — yet. But we can see one coming from a mile away. And local law enforcement did get involved.
So it’s appropriate fodder for Above the Law. Here’s the story:

You can lift, strain, crunch and sweat all you want at the Planet Fitness in the Dutchess County village. But whatever you do, do not grunt.

Yep, “NO GRUNTING.” It says so, in black and white, on a sign posted at the gym. One former member learned the new rule the hard way.

“This is really absurd, especially the part about the grunting,” said Al Argibay, a corrections officer who learned first-hand “no grunting” means exactly that.

A corrections officer who likes to grunt? Color us surprised.

Argibay said he was at a multi-press station, getting ready to squat about 500 pounds, when the forbidden sin happened. “I let out a grunt, squatted down, back up, grunt again. That’s it,” explained Argibay. “Basically, grunt, grunt, basic breathing in heavy, and breathing out.”

Grunting is commonplace at most gyms, but not Planet Fitness, which discourages so-called “musclehead behavior.”

There’s even a flashing light and siren on the wall, labeled a “lunk alarm,” which sounds if someone grunts or drops weights on the floor.

[Gym manager Carol] Palazzolo admits she called the cops on Argibay. The Wappingers Falls police report said officers were asked to “escort a member out of the club for grunting while working out… which is not conforming with the rules of the establishment.”

Calling the cops may have been an overreaction. But even though the story is written in a “Can you believe this?” tone, we’re sympathetic to the gym manager’s side of the argument. Exertion at the gym is all well and good. But loud, showy grunting goes too far, and interferes with the workouts of other patrons.
Update: Ann Althouse has a similar reaction.
(Other pet peeves at the gym: super-sweaty people who don’t wipe down the equipment after they’re done; people who use the weight machines in spastic fashion, generating loud, clanging noises with each rep; and people who hog certain machines, sitting there for minutes on end, and shooting dirty looks at anyone who approaches to ask if they might work in.)
Man Escorted From Planet Fitness Gym For Grunting [WCBS - New York via Drudge Report]

* Only those of you who are heartless very, very jaded will think this is some dated National Geographic-esque gimmick. Some of you may be able to help with the remaining countries… And yes, we’ve already made a call to Madonna’s people about crossing Malawi off the list. [New York Children]
* Not the ideal set-up, but better than keeping them in a car without cracking a window. No one tells her how to raise her kids. [CNN]
* Leave it to Trump to personify garishness even without the gold facades and conspicuous branding.
[AP via Yahoo! News]
* Perez Hilton is getting his karmic retribution for defacing B-list celebrities’ crotches and septa. [Radar]
* Props to Rachel Sklar for working a promissory estoppel joke into a post about the New York Times. The humor may have been lost on many HuffPo readers; but the ATL audience will surely appreciate it. [Huffington Post]
* Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Give three pastors $1.3 million and, chances are, they’re going to use it for more than just bread and wine. [Talk Left]

dogs humping dog sex.jpgSome of you think we don’t give the West Coast enough love here at ATL. We’re happy to report that our next few interview anecdotes come from west of the Rockies.
Here’s the first:

Some years ago, I was a junior associate at a Big Firm in San Francisco. I was asked to take a young female law student out to lunch after her morning round of interviews. I grabbed another associate, and the three of us went off to a nearby expensive, formal, white-tablecloth restaurant.

Things were going fine. The conversation turned to family pets, which was okay because my wingman (wingwoman, actually) was a dog lover.

But then the law student brought up the male dog her family had when she was a child, who was a lovely dog — except for his propensity to hump everything, including legs, furniture, etc. At first this was okay, and made us all laugh.

But then, encouraged by the laughter, the interviewee proceeded to stand up from her seat at the table — in an expensive, formal, white-tablecloth restaurant — and physically pantomime the dog’s humping movements. All the while, she was describing the humping at the top of her lungs, and laughing hysterically.

Result: No offer.

Guess her pantomiming left something to be desired. Was she wearing a pantsuit or a skirt suit?
Earlier: Prior Interview Horror Stories (scroll down)

gunner law school gunner.jpgThe Virginia Senate race between Republican incumbent George Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb has been one of the most bizarre and entertaining races in recent memory. To recap, here are some of the things we’ve been treated to in recent weeks:

– the magnificent spectacle of “Macaca”-gate;
– a Southerner’s dramatic discovery of his long-lost Jewish heritage;
– a campaign manager named Dick Wadhams (he’s not gay!); and
– a father placing his son’s penis in his mouth (okay, in a work of fiction).

This is truly an embarrassment of riches. What more could one ask for?
Well, how about a law-related angle? From TJ’s Double Play:

[W]e thought we weren’t going to blog until our memo was done. Then 1L extraordinaire Mike Stark decided to pick a fight with Sen. George Allen and got his ass literally thrown out of a campaign event. Word is that Stark, who runs lefty blog Calling All Wingnuts, apparently began asking rude questions about Allen’s wife (most likely having to do with divorce details and whether or not he spit on his wife) and then Allen’s security tossed him out of the building.

Like any good law student, Stark is making a (federal?) case out of it. From NBC 29:

[O]ne Allen campaign staffer put Stark in a headlock and threw him to the ground. Stark was also removed from the building. Stark was not injured and is pressing charges.

But here’s the best part:

Thanks to a reader for sending us the video, so you can see Stark get thrown to the ground and pinned against a wall. It’s pretty awesome, especially because Stark is a pretty well-known gunner. We’ll see if he’s a little quieter this week. Or in class at all.

Well, at least Stark didn’t get his ass arrested. Because federal judges don’t look kindly upon clerkship applicants with criminal records.
You can read more about the whole incident at TJ’s Double Play and Wonkette.
Macaca Mike vs. Anglo Allen [TJ's Double Play]
Allen Staffers Beat Up Blogger, Nation Celebrates [Wonkette]
Incident at Allen Campaign Stop in Charlottesville [NBC29]

canada canadian flag.gifYesterday we implied that Canada isn’t tough on crime. Maybe we should take that back. Check out this interesting case:

Return to the Court With a Verdict of Guilty.” That’s what a Canadian judge told the jury in a marijuana possession case, where the defendant claimed he possessed the marijuana for medical reasons (though he apparently didn’t qualify for some reason for Canada’s medical marijuana exemption).

The judge instructed the jurors “to retire to the jury room to consider what I have said, appoint one of yourselves to be your foreperson, and then to return to the court with a verdict of guilty.”

Alas, the Canadian Supreme Court overturned the conviction. We’re kinda disappointed. The Canadian criminal justice system would be so amazingly efficient if they ditched this whole “jury trial” business and allowed directed verdicts of guiilt.
“Return to the Court With a Verdict of Guilty” [Volokh Conspiracy]
R. v. Krieger, 2006 SCC 47 [Supreme Court of Canada]

* Who even thought for a second that selling this drink to kids would be ok? “According to the label, each 8.4-fluid ounce can contains 280 milligrams of caffeine… but no cocaine.” [MSNBC]
* Having Shaq involved in any warrant execution automatically violates, like, four amendments at least. [Associated Press]
* Charter schools are a go in Ohio. [Dispatch]
* Some state ballots this month will include a measure to allow the recall of judges “for any reason,” and a proposal actually named “JAIL 4 Judges” — among other slights of the judiciary. [Newsweek]
(More on judicial politics at the New York Times (subscription archive), Ohio State Law Journal, and Common Dreams. Remember phrases like “judicial murder” and “nuclear option” from last year?)
* In memory of Pat Tillman, Army Ranger and Arizona Cardinals safety, his brother Kevin has written a thought-provoking piece on war. [truthdig; New York Times]

abstract art contemporary art.jpg* Look at us, we’re patrons in training! Our law firms are getting funky with their art. But let’s hope they draw the line at installation art. [New York Observer]
* If you want something dirty, keep up with the Heather Mills / Paul McCartney divorce. The divorce papers were leaked, and everybody’s getting sued. [Daily Telegraph]
(Because, honestly, who the f&*k is Sara Evans, and does she have only one leg?)
* If you want something really dirty, both literally and figuratively, read about the prosecutor who allegedly had sex with a paralegal — in a stadium bathroom stall. [Seattle Times]
* I wonder what happens to puppy killers in jail? [Washington Times]
* I think Elmo has always been on something. Or maybe it’s just an overactive thyroid. [KVBC]

man in suit grabbing cash.jpgYou’re a partner at the Chicago powerhouse law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, which generally ranks as the most profitable non-New York Biglaw firm in the country. But you decide that a six- to seven-figure income isn’t enough for your needs. So you do this:

1. Sell fraudulent certificates of deposit for $1.8 million.
2. Set up a bank account in the name of an LLC in Florida for the money.
3. Hire somebody to use the money to buy cashiers checks.
4. Proceed to blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on a girlfriend, a wedding, a honeymoon, and his Barrington, IL. lifestyle.
5. Leave the money off your tax return.

This is the scheme hatched by former K&E partner Robert Hallock. Not surprisingly, it didn’t work:

A Chicago-area attorney was convicted of tax evasion in federal court Wednesday for attempting to hide more than $1 million from the IRS. Robert W. Hallock, 62, a former partner at Kirkland & Ellis, was convicted in a bench trial of earning some $1.8 million in 1997 from the sale of fraudulent certificates of deposit.

Hallock funneled the money through a Florida bank account and used it to buy two cars, a truck and nearly $145,000 in jewelry, said Atlanta-based U.S. Atty. David Nahmais, whose office handled the case. He also gave $150,000 to his girlfriend and her parents, prosecutors charged.

Hallock sounds like a criminal and a moron. But he does get points for cojones and creativity. Here’s what he argued at trial:

[Hallock] argued that since [he] was obligated under the UCC to repay the money, he did not have any income — in his words, “a good faith belief, even if crazy, negates willfulness.”

Leave it to a tax lawyer to come up with an argument like that.
Former Kirkland & Ellis Partner Convicted of Tax Evasion [TaxProf Blog]
Bad Barrington Barrister Busted [Roth & Company, P.C.]
Chicago-Area Attorney Convicted of Tax Evasion [Chicago Tribune]

wedgie.jpgWe can’t wait for the 1983 action. From the Associated Press:

The principal of Park High School returned to school Tuesday after a six-day suspension for giving a student a “wedgie.” The Livingston School District Board held a special meeting Monday and approved Superintendent Hannibal Anderson’s recommendation that Principal Eric Messerli be allowed to return to work.

“It has been clearly recognized and stated that the behavior is inappropriate, unprofessional and unacceptable,” Anderson said.

Plainly inappropriate. But people may be getting their tighty-whities in a wad over this:

Messerli cried Monday as he read a statement to the board and the public. “I’ve made mistakes in my life, but none have had the impact that this one has had,” he said.

He cried? Wow. That chafing must have been really bad.
Here is Tom Elia’s take:

Unnamed legal sources claim that the suspension would have been at least double if the plain ‘wedgie’ has been accompanied by a ‘pink belly,’ or had risen to the level of ‘atomic wedgie.’

There was some debate about what the penalty for administering ‘noogies’ should be, however.

(And there’s more; check out the full post here.)
Montana Principal Returns After ‘Wedgie’ [Associated Press]
Montana Principal Returns From Suspension After Giving Student ‘Wedgie’ [The New Editor]

sinking ship milberg weiss.jpgWe’re vaguely troubled by the title of this WSJ Law Blog post (’cause it makes us think of this). But it does report on a notable move within the legal profession, so we will plow ahead.
From the aforementioned post:

Matthew Gluck is joining Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman as a senior partner, marking a significant hire for the plaintiffs’ law firm. Gluck had been a litigation partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson since 1973….

Milberg Weiss was indicted in May on fraud charges based on allegations that it paid plaintiffs to file cases. It pleaded not guilty and has vowed to fight the charges. Since the indictment, the firm has lost a significant number of partners and associates.

Gluck’s move continues the trend of breaking down the barrier between plaintiffs’ firms and Biglaw. Sometimes Biglaw associates might, after a few years of practice, move over to the plaintiffs’ side; but such moves at the partner level were much less common. Biglaw was Biglaw, plaintiffs’ firms were plaintiffs’ firms, and never the twain shall meet.
This may be changing. Gluck’s move, from Fried Frank to Milberg Weiss, comes not long after former Milberg Weiss name partner Patricia Hynes moved in the opposite direction — from Milberg Weiss to the New York office of Allen & Overy, the defense-oriented British firm.*
So why did Gluck make the move?

Gluck, 64 years old, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Cornell University. He told the WSJ’s Nathan Koppel he was soon facing retirement age at Fried Frank and wanted a new challenge.

Attempting to turn around a class-action-complaint mill under federal indictment would indeed qualify as a “challenge.” But the undaunted Gluck is surprisingly sanguine about Milberg’s future:

“I don’t know why people have left [the firm] except for panic,” he says. “It doesn’t strike me as rational.”

Not “rational”? Clients defecting en masse, partners fleeing in droves, courts taking the firm off cases, or refusing to appoint them in new ones… Call us Debbie Downer, but this doesn’t sound too promising.
Even if you question the original decisions of clients, partners, and courts to abandon Milberg in the first instance, here’s the problem: the prophecy of doom has turned self-fulfilling. Does the name “Arthur Andersen” ring a bell? Even though the accounting firm was ultimately vindicated in the Supreme Court, that vindication came too late.
But hey, Matt Gluck’s arrival is undoubtedly a good thing for Milberg. In addition to being an experienced litigator, Gluck has — as noted by Milberg Weiss managing partner Sanford Dumain — “superb credentials in the area of bankruptcy law.”
* Yes, Allen & Overy is one of the “Magic Circle” firms. There, we said it. Now wasn’t that fun?
Fried Frank Partner Comes In Through Milberg’s Out Door [WSJ Law Blog]
Milberg Gets Fried Frank Veteran [Wall Street Journal]
Against Tide, Lawyer Joins Milberg Weiss [New York Times]
Matthew Gluck bio [Martindale-Hubbell]

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