Benchslaps

Or a richness of embarrassment. Today we’re going to name not one, but seven Lawyers of the Day.
Our first Lawyer of the Day is Mark Mersel (formerly of Morrison & Foerster, now at Bryan Cave). In case you missed the shout-out in Morning Docket, here’s a bit more, from the WSJ Law Blog:

It’s a litigator’s worst dream — costing your client serious money by missing a filing deadline.

That nightmare was a reality for MoFo, which appears to have cost its client Toshiba America $1 million when it was one-minute late — 1 minute! — in filing a motion for attorneys fees.

For the exciting details — which involve a courier zooming through traffic on a motorcycle, and an unfortunately timed train — read the full post.
The other six Lawyers of the Day are no strangers to these pages. Let’s call them the Qualcomm Six. From the Recorder:

Qualcomm Qualcom Above the Law blog.jpgSix attorneys in the Qualcomm Inc. discovery fiasco were sanctioned Monday for “monumental” discovery violations and referred to the State Bar of California for possible discipline.

Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder attorneys James Batchelder, Adam Bier, Kevin Leung, Christian Mammen and Lee Patch, and Heller Ehrman’s Stanley Young were sanctioned and harshly criticized by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major in a 42-page order. The ruling follows a patent infringement trial Qualcomm had brought against Broadcom Corp.

The attorneys “assisted Qualcomm in committing this incredible discovery violation by intentionally hiding or recklessly ignoring relevant documents, ignoring or rejecting numerous warning signs that Qualcomm’s document search was inadequate, and blindly accepting Qualcomm’s unsupported assurances that its document search was adequate,” Major wrote.

Document production sucks — or, to put it more nicely, it’s a thankless task. It’s time-intensive, mind-numbingly boring, and a general pain in the a**. If you do it right, you’re just doing your job; but if you screw it up, consider yourself screwed. Monumentally.
Six Lawyers in Qualcomm Case Sanctioned for ‘Monumental’ Discovery Violations [The Recorder via Law.com]
Judge rebukes Qualcomm, its attorneys [San Diego Union-Tribune via Blogonaut]
A Litigator’s Nightmare: Late Filing Costs Client $1 Million [WSJ Law Blog]

gavel judge Above the Law blog.jpgToday we bring you not one, but two Judges of the Day. We can’t decide who is more deserving of the honor. From the Florida Times-Union:

Twelve days before Christmas, Circuit Judge Aaron Bowden fired his 17-year judicial assistant, who had been on leave since August with cancer. The Jacksonville judge said he feared her prolonged illness would leave him without an assistant at a time when the state had implemented a hiring freeze.

But his decision left Christine Birch, 54, with no medical, life or disability insurance and has created a firestorm at the courthouse.

Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran responded by calling Bowden “a no-good son of a bitch,” prompting Bowden to respond with a blistering e-mail (PDF) defending his decision and calling Moran’s criticism irresponsible, unprofessional and unseemly.

Other judges’ assistants were also appalled by Birch’s firing. They raised money to pay her rent this month….

Birch declined comment Thursday. But she thanked Moran in a handwritten note last week for putting her back on the courthouse payroll in a rotating judicial assistant’s position. Birch was paid about $3,275 a month in her old job, and the state paid her health insurance premium. Her new rotating position pays $750 less a month and requires her to pay her own premiums.

Our tipster writes:

Best quote from the article: “He said if she died while on the payroll, he would have been without an assistant for two months, ‘not an ideal situation for a judge.’” I guess dying wouldn’t have been an ideal situation for her, either.

To get both sides of the story, check out the email from Judge Bowden in which he defends his actions (and rips Chief Judge Moran a new one). You can access his message — in which he benchslaps Chief Judge Moran for his “effrontery” and his “irresponsible” comments, made “precipitously [and] without authority” — by clicking here (PDF).
P.S. Speaking of cancer, here’s a PSA from ATL, and bad news for Biglaw associates and paralegals: according to cancer researchers, overnight work and sleep deprivation may raise your cancer risk.
Judge fires his assistant, draws criticism [Florida Times-Union]
Email from Judge Aaron Bowden (PDF) [Florida Times-Union]

Shawn Hynes Shawn T Hynes Cleary Gottlieb Above the Law blog.jpgAs the old adage goes, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” And there is some anecdotal evidence in support of that proposition. See, e.g., Elana Glatt / Elana Elbogen (depending upon how you view the merits of her case against her wedding florist).
Here’s another example of what can happen when Biglaw litigators represent themselves. From TaxProf Blog:

The Tax Court today decided Hynes v. Commissioner, T.C. Summ. Op. 2008-1 (1/2/08), a case involving Shawn T. Hynes, a fifth year securities litigation associate in Cleary Gottlieb’s New York City office. The taxable year at issue was 2003, when Hynes was a Penn 3L (he tranferred to Penn after completing his first year at Oregon).

More about the facts of Shawn Hynes’s case, and how he got benchslapped by the Tax Court, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cleary Gottlieb Associate Gets Benchslapped By Tax Court”

short bus shortbus special education Washington DC Above the Law blog.jpgWhile you wait for more bonus announcements to trickle in, check out a benchslap from the nation’s capital. The Washington Examiner reports:

Furious over the city’s “stunning ignorance” of the crisis facing its special-education system, a federal judge has given the District of Columbia one week to come up with a cost-fixing schedule — or face contempt charges.

In an unusually caustic order, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman has ordered State Superintendent Deborah L. Gist and schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee to come up with a policy for setting rates with the thousands of private schools and vendors with which it does business.

Judge Friedman had especially harsh words for the city’s counsel:

“The defendants’ response demonstrates a stunning ignorance of the history of [the] litigation and the operative orders issued by this court,” the judge wrote. “The only plausible explanation is that the attorneys whose names appear on the signature page … must not have read it. …”

Lighten up, Your Honor. Lots of people sign stuff they didn’t draft, or even read. They’re called partners.
(And reading court filings is overrated. Just ask Chief Judge Jacobs.)
Judge sets deadline for special ed plan [Washington Examiner]
Earlier: Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs: Not Running for Student Body President

Hillary Clinton witch Hillary Rodham Clinton Above the Law blog.jpg* Happy Birthday, Mrs. President! Scott Shrake conducts an astrological analysis of Hillary Clinton. [Huffington Post]
* Speaking of witch, is Stephen Colbert “the best-scripted candidate this side of Hillary Clinton”? [Radar Online]
* “‘Terrorism,’ Censored Legal Briefs & The Blogosphere: Awesome Together.” [Fishbowl NY]
* Lawsuit of the Day: Mom of “Let’s Go Crazy” Baby fights back. [ABC News]
* Benchslap of the Day: federal judge tells SEC lawyer, to “sit down” and “shut up.” [WSJ Law Blog]

This short video clip requires little introduction. Res ipsa loquitur. Just watch Judge Marilyn Milian, of The People’s Court, benchslap a cute-but-insolent 2L from the University of Miami:

What is up with all these female Floridian jurists? See also Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff.
The People’s Court – Judge Milian Flips out on Defendant [YouTube]
The Hon. Marilyn Milian [Wikipedia]

Samuel Kent Judge Samuel B Kent Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we honored Judge Samuel B. Kent with our prestigious Judge of the Day award, based on his alleged sexual harassment of a court employee. Now the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council has also recognized Judge Kent. From Texas Lawyer:

The Judicial Council of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals [on Friday] issued an order reprimanding and admonishing U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent of Galveston. The order relates to a complaint of judicial misconduct lodged against the judge on May 21 alleging sexual harassment toward an employee of the federal judicial system.

A former case manager for Kent, Cathy McBroom, confirms she filed a complaint against the judge. She declines further comment. McBroom currently works in the clerk’s office in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.

You can access the order here (PDF). But as a tipster notes, “All the juicy stuff will ‘not be disclosed.’ No fun at all.”
Fear not, judicial gossip aficionados. The Houston Chronicle has more details:

Kent is accused of harassing and inappropriately touching his 49-year-old case manager in his chambers in March….

On the day of the incident, other employees saw McBroom crying and visibly upset, according to interviews. A few weeks later, McBroom transferred to another federal court job in Houston. McBroom was so shaken by the encounter, “She (was) a basket case,” an acquaintance said.

McBroom has retained Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who would not comment for now on the particulars of the case.

Not good news for Judge Kent. Hardin is one of Houston’s top trial lawyers.
And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Additional allegations against Judge Kent, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fifth Circuit Benchslaps the Naughty Judge Kent”

gay porn do not file Above the Law blog.jpgWhen it comes to knowing how to make proper court filings, don’t bother with the FRCP, or even the local rules. Just read ATL.
We tell you everything you need to know. E.g., don’t file an egg with Judge James Muirhead (D.N.H.).
And don’t file gay pornography with Judge Adalberto Jordan (S.D. Fla.). From GamePolitics.com:

That gurgling sound you hear could be Jack Thompson’s legal career swirling down the ‘loo.

The frequent video game critic, already facing professional misconduct charges from the Florida Bar which could see him stripped of his license to practice law, has outraged a U.S. District Court judge by including images of men having sex in a document filed with the court last week.

What was he thinking? And no, the gay porn was not essential to the case (as it might have been in, say, an obscenity prosecution arising out of said porn).
More details — if you want them — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Practice Pointers: Do Not File Gay Porn With Judge Jordan”

spanking small Society of Janus spank Herman Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgRemember Judge Herman Thomas, the Alabama state court judge who allegedly spanked a number of prisoners? Now there’s a theme song for the scandal, entitled “Spank Me.” Check it out here.
The creator and artist, Jolene Roxbury, is a former paralegal who decided several years ago that comedy was her true calling. You can learn more about her over at her website. Nice work, Jolene!
Jolene Roxbury: Certified Verbal Conversationalist
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Herman Thomas

spanking Society of Janus spank Herman Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgMobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas is ATL’s Judge of the Day. He takes the prize for his innovative approach to sentencing. From the Mobile Press-Register:

Authorities are investigating allegations that now-suspended Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas periodically removed prisoners from Mobile County Metro Jail and spanked them in a room at the courthouse, according to courthouse sources involved in the inquiry.

Once inside the room, according to the sources, the judge would ask the young men to drop their pants and prepare to be spanked with what they described as a wooden or fraternity-like paddle.

To quote ex-inmate Paris Hilton, “That’s hot.” We agree with these commenters:

“[I]n San Francisco we have lots of people who pay $200 a session for that kind of treatment. Perhaps this judge has a bright future in Bay Area.”

“That’s some kinky place. I think Senator Larry Craig would like to break INTO that prison!”

More details — including a description of the secret six-by-eight room that allegedly served as the judge’s S-and-M dungeon — are available here.
Authorities investigating paddling allegations against Judge Thomas [Mobile Press-Register]
Judge Accused Of Paddling Inmates [WKRG.com]

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