Celebrities

riordan.jpg
The Phil Spector trial is almost at its end, but Spector has nevertheless just added a lawyer to his legal team: San Francisco attorney Dennis Riordan.
Riordan comes on as Bruce Cutler departs, though presiding Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler took pains to clarify that Riordan is not replacing Cutler as lead counsel for Spector:

“I think that was a little bit of hyperbole,” Fidler said when asked by the prosecution if there was a new chief defense counsel.
“Mr. Rosen is the chief counsel, the one we rely on as I understand it,” Fidler said of attorney Roger Rosen, who effectively became leader of the defense while Cutler was often absent for several weeks to tape a TV judge show.
“Mr. Riordan is here to work on jury instructions,” Fidler said. He said Riordan would be considered a member of the defense team while assisting with jury instructions.
Riordan, asked if that was his understanding, replied: “As far as I know, ‘chief’ refers to a Native American. I am not chief counsel.”

[CNN]
Yeah, I guess it does, in that it’s a racist, derogatory term for a Native American. Could he not have settled for a simple “Yes, your Honor”? Jeez.
At any rate, since Riordan is known as an appellate lawyer, we suspect he’s ultimately there for more than the jury instructions.
As stated above, Cutler left because Spector wasn’t too happy with him missing so much of the trial, which he was apparently doing to film a TV judge show. Which will be better, his or Larry Seidlin’s?

Michael Vick 2 speak from heart middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgMichael Vick, dressed in a sober charcoal suit and gold tie, just made a short public statement about his case. He took no questions. Here are some excerpts.
“For most of my life, I’ve been a football player, not a public speaker…. I’d like to take this opportunity to speak from the heart.”
He apologized to Commissioner Roger Goodell, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and Vick’s teammates, for “not being honest” in “previous discussions we had.”
“I was ashamed. I’ve disappointed in myself, to say the least.”
“I’d like to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts. What I did was very immature, so I need to grow up.”
[Dogfighting is inhumane, brutal, despicable -- but immature? It's not the first word that comes to our mind. And given the content of ATL, we consider ourselves experts in immaturity.]
“I take full responsibility for my actions.”
“Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I do reject it.”
“Through this situation I’ve found Jesus, and I dedicate my life to God.”
[Of course -- so predictable. Why can't we have disgraced public figures pledge themselves to the principles of Wicca?]
“I’ve got a lot to think about in the next year or so…. I’ve got a lot of down time to think about how to make Michael Vick a better person.”
[That's for sure -- and as just noted, Judge Hudson isn't bound by the parties' recommendations or the 12 to 18 month sentencing guidelines range. He's bound only by the five-year statutory maximum.]

Michael Vick middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe plea hearing for the embattled star quarterback took place this morning. One of Michael Vick’s lawyers, Billy Martin, spoke to reporters on the courthouse steps. He stated that “this matter is concluded until December 10th, when Judge Hudson will sentence Michael Vick according to the plea agreement.” He also announced that Vick will make a statement of his own at 11:30 AM today.
At the hearing, Judge Henry Hudson told Michael Vick something along these lines: “You know you’re taking your chances here. I’m not bound by the recommendations [of the parties].”
A correct statement of the law, especially after Booker? Yes. A smart thing for a judge to do at a plea hearing, to prevent the defendant from later claiming he was blindsided? Sure.
But, reading the tea leaves a bit, we’d hazard a guess that Judge Hudson might give Vick significantly more than the 12 or so months that the parties will recommend (per the plea agreement). Stay tuned.
(We’d guess that the parties will recommend a year and a day, which will make Vick eligible for certain “good time” credits applicable only to sentences over a year.)

The plea agreement (PDF) for star quarterback Michael Vick has been filed in federal court. In the statement of facts (PDF) accompanying the agreement, Vick admits involvement in the dogfighting conspiracy (including funding it), but declines to admit a number of other allegations. According to ESPN, Vick claims that he “did not place side bets and did not receive proceeds from purses from the fights.”
Here’s what the agreement provides with respect to sentencing:
Michael Vick plea agreement Above the Law blog.jpg
Assuming zero criminal history, an adjusted offense level of 13 gives you an imprisonment range of 12 to 18 months. Of course, and as noted in the agreement, the sentencing judge is not bound by the guidelines (thanks to Booker).
What’s next in procedural terms, from CNN:

Vick, 27, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday, where he is expected to plead guilty before a judge. The judge in the case will have the final say over the plea agreement.

Presiding over Vick’s case is Judge Henry Hudson, a Bush II appointee to the bench and a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (under Bush I). He has an impressive resume, but we don’t know much about him personally. We welcome your thoughts on Judge Hudson in the comments.
Vick files plea agreement admitting to dogfighting [ESPN.com]
Vick admits dog killing, conspiracy [CNN]

Pacman smoking drinking drugs Above the Law blog.jpg* Nurse sues Pacman. [Reno-Gazette Journal]
* Defense rests in Spector trial. [CNN]
* Patent infringers in less treble. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Yeah, I’m sure Texas is going to stop killing people because Europe wants them to. [Jurist]
* State charges for Vick too? [AP via Yahoo!]

Michael Vick middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWoof woof! This just in, from Fox News (via AFP via Drudge):

The lead attorney for pro football star Michael Vick said Monday that the Atlanta Falcons quarterback will plead guilty to dogfighting and related charges and will “accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made.”

Billy Martin, heading up Vick’s legal team, issued the following statement:

“After consulting with his family over the weekend. Michael Vick ask that I announce today that he has reached an agreement with Federal prosecutors regarding the charges pending against him. Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of Guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made. Michael wishes to apologizes again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter.”

Especially all the poor pooches, God rest their doggie souls.
But wait — are we sure about this?

The statement apparently took federal officials by surprise.

Jim Rybicki, a spokesman for U.S. States Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, said he had not heard of an agreement in the Vick case, and that he was trying to reach prosecutors.

We’ll keep you posted.
Update: This looks solid; CNN has this report. Apparently a status conference is taking place this afternoon.
Vick Attorney Says Star Quarterback Will Plead Guilty in Dogfighting Case [Fox News]
Vick agrees to plea deal, prison possible [CNN]

Jonathan Lee Riches Jonathan Riches Jon Lee Riches Jon Riches Above the Law blog.jpgFederal prisoner Jonathan Lee Riches, whose “$63,000,000,000.00 Billion dollar” lawsuit against Michael Vick was discussed in these pages last month, has a new celebrity athlete in his sights. From a tipster:

Got to think you’ve seen this by now: the guy suing Michael Vick for a bazillion dollars or whatever it is now realizes that the real culprit is Barry Bonds. See here.

Question: Where can we file amicus briefs on these?

More description of Riches’s latest Complaint, alleging “Fraud Against Mankind” and “Batman and Identity Robbin,” from the Smoking Gun:

Riches, who is doing a decade in prison for fraud, is at it again, this time filing a loony — though quite funny — complaint again Barry Bonds, baseball commissioner Bud Selig, and Hank Aaron’s bat.

In his lawsuit, Riches weaves an intricate conspiracy theory involving television ratings, steroids, the cracking of the Liberty Bell, Colombian narco-terrorists, and secretly recorded conversations for which journalists Robert Novak and Judith Miller have transcripts.

Sounds like the plot to Syriana or Babel. Might Riches — a/k/a “Secured Party” d/b/a “The White Suge Knight” — have a future as a Hollywood screenwriter?
As it turns out, Jonathan Lee Riches is an old hand at crazy lawsuits — a veritable pro at proceeding pro se. More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Jonathan Lee Riches Strikes Again (and Again and Again)”

Michael Vick middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgGuess we can’t get no respect from the mainstream media. Not even from Fox News, which carries a story that we brought you last month.
Meanwhile, in other Michael Vick developments, lawyers for the Falcons quarterback are working on getting him a plea deal. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Atlanta lawyer Dan Meachum, a member of Vick’s defense team, declined to comment Tuesday on any possible negotiations.

“I stand by Michael Vick,” Meachum said. “He’s a good kid in a bad situation. I’m a dog owner, a dog lover. I would not be involved in this case if I didn’t believe in him.”

And some of his best friends are black Labradors!
S.C. Inmate Hits Michael Vick With ‘$63 Billion’ Lawsuit [Fox News via Drudge Report]
Vick attorneys negotiating plea [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
(Much) Earlier: Lawsuit of the Day: Vick’s A Defendant In A Federal Civil Suit, Too

In response to our earlier post, Judge of the Day: Edward Nottingham, this “separated at birth” resemblance was pointed out by many commenters:
Tony Sirico Paulie Walnuts Ed Nottingham Edward Nottingham Judge Edward W Nottingham Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPG
We think the leathery skin and hair coloration — black on top, silver on the sides — may be responsible for the bulk of the resemblance. But still, it’s pretty darn close.
Our favorite comment in the thread:

“I’m loyal to the Bada Bing. Strippers to $3,000 (in singles)!”

Posted by: Paulie Walnuts | August 10, 2007 11:24 AM

Earlier: Judge of the Day: Edward Nottingham

Venable LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgWhat’s up with Venable? Strange things seem to be afoot over there. From last Friday’s Washington Post:

He’s back!!! Or is it possible Michael Jackson has been quietly lurking in our region ever since his early-a.m. Smithsonian tour last week?

The sometimes-reclusive, sometimes-exhibitionist performer was spotted Wednesday evening in the downtown law offices of Venable LLP. One spy said he looked exactly like — well, himself: black sunglasses, black jacket, white shirt, black pants, white socks, black loafers, a pair of oversize bodyguards.

For those lucky enough to glimpse Jackson, his appearance explained a memo the firm had just put out, warning staffers not to gawk at clients.

We’d love to see that memo (which we hear was actually just an email). As for what Venable is doing for the King of Pop, we think they represent him in some IP matters. Maybe he’ll sue our uncle for unlicensed use of “Thriller”?
Update: Roger Friedman of Fox News reports that “Jackson was in the law offices of Venable LLP to give a deposition in the $30 million lawsuit brought by his former manager, Dieter Wiesner.”
More Venable eccentricity, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Venable: DC’s Weirdest Law Firm?”

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