Crime

Now we’ll unmask this superhero.

Longtime readers of Above the Law will recall the tale of Aquagirl. She’s the former Cleary Gottlieb summer associate who, while in a state of inebriation, stripped down to her underwear at a Chelsea Piers charity benefit and jumped into the Hudson River. This might have been an effort to demonstrate her swimming prowess (she was on the swim team in college), but ultimately she had to be rescued in a boat by either the Coast Guard or the NYPD. Her exploits are now the stuff of legend, the bar by which summer associate misadventures are measured.

In these pages, we’ve referred to Aquagirl simply by her nickname, in keeping with our general policy of anonymizing summer associate stories. But that policy admits of exceptions. We will now unmask Aquagirl because she’s back in the headlines for newsworthy conduct — this time heroic rather than scandalous….

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On Friday, special prosecutor Michael McCrum secured an indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry, whose 2012 campaign is the first abortion Republicans have celebrated in years, is accused of coercion and abusing his office when he threatened to, and subsequently did, revoke funding for the Public Integrity Unit. That unit is charged with rooting out government corruption, and Perry took away its budget because the district attorney in charge of the unit — a Texas Democrat — was convicted of drunk driving and wouldn’t step down. Perry thought she should leave her post because she had lost the public trust over her conviction and not at all because she had been investigating possible corruption related to Perry’s signature project, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

If you don’t think this is shady and improper, you’re a hyperpartisan for Perry. Entirely obliterating the agency charged with protecting citizens from official corruption because you don’t like the person in charge — for whatever reason — smacks of overreach. Imagine Congress and the President zero-funding the Supreme Court because they wanted one justice to resign. It’s just cockroach hunting with a bazooka.

Still, is it criminal as opposed to just shady? That’s a different question. Law professors weigh in….

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With the media recently paying so much attention to foreign (read American and British) businesspeople getting in trouble in China, my firm’s China lawyers have been getting a large number of calls lately from worried Americans based in China. These callers are asking the following kinds of questions, and we are giving the following kinds of short answers (needless to say, our long answers are much more nuanced):

1.  Should I leave China? Not unless you or your company have violated Chinese law in such a way that you are at risk for going to jail. Let’s talk about whether or not that is the case…

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Judge Mark Fuller

Earlier this week, we brought our readers the sordid tale of Judge Mark fuller, a federal jurist facing allegations of domestic violence brought by his wife, Kelli Fuller. The good judge is also accused of having an affair with one of his law clerks, according to details from the police report that was viewed by the Associated Press.

Today, we’ve got some additional details about Judge Fuller’s history as an alleged lawyerly Lothario, as well as some updates in the case against him, including the transcript of the 911 call made by his wife during the course of the alleged assault…

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* A murder suspect grabbed his phone and asked Siri to help him dispose of a dead body. I’ll bet Siri gave him s**tty directions on doing that, too. [USA Today] UPDATE 8/14/14 5:16 p.m.: Hey what do you know, USA Today is overselling the story a tad! Still, someone performed this search and he seemed to approve enough to have the photo.

* Criminal defeated by the same dastardly device that plagued a famous Far Side cartoon. [Lowering the Bar]

* Congratulations to Brooklyn Law School’s BLIP clinic for successfully fighting off a patent troll. How’s that for practical law school experience! [Medium]

* “As long as there is demonstrated interest and commitment by sufficiently financed local owners and a dedicated, passionate local fan base, leagues prefer not to move teams.” So says Buffalo Law professor Nellie Drew. Shhh. Don’t tell her about where the Baltimore Ravens came from, it would break her heart. [University of Buffalo]

* We get more worked up about law students charged with crimes. Like murder and arson. I mean, obviously Above the Law does because that’s part of our beat, but I mean “we” as in everybody. Why is that? [Law and More]

* Avvo just released a new iPhone app for lawyers. Among the new features is an opportunity to be alerted as soon as a question in your practice area is asked. [Avvo]

* Ha. This cartoon. [Twitter]

* After a two-year absence, we welcome VC Deal Lawyer back to blogging! [VC Deal Lawyer]

Matthew Edward Alexander

According to news reports, another lawyer’s career may be over before it even started.

As we mentioned earlier today, on Tuesday evening, a Texas law student was arrested on some very serious charges: attempted murder and arson. The warrants stemmed from a single incident that allegedly occurred in Louisiana.

Details on the crime are scant at this point, but we do know where the accused goes — or perhaps went — to law school…

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When I was in law school, I went to hear Chief Justice Rehnquist speak. He told a story of going to visit Finland, and meeting with their attorney general. The Chief Justice asked the attorney general whether the highest court in Finland could overturn an act of its parliament. She didn’t know the answer. She huddled with her staff for a few minutes, then told Rehnquist that they think their Supreme Court could, but the issue had never come up, because their high court had never tried.

Rehnquist told the audience that he thought this was just straight up freaky (not his words). And then began to wonder why he thought this was so strange. He concluded that there is something in the American psyche — especially in the part of the American psyche that lawyers seem to embrace — that feels compelled to push power to its outer limits.

This is a dangerous thing to think about if you think that our law enforcement community — from the lowly beat cops to an FBI forensic accountant — shares this disposition.

It’s an idea perhaps best explored by The Onion in Insecure, Frustrated Bully With Something To Prove Considering Career In Law Enforcement.

Friends and family confirmed that [the frustrated insecure bully], an unpredictable, petty individual who frequently loses his temper when he feels he is being threatened or disrespected, has in recent months been inquiring into joining the ranks of the Raleigh Police Department. In this role, the man with a massive chip on his shoulder and no visible sense of empathy would be tasked with peacefully resolving disputes and evenhandedly administering justice to members of the community over whom he would have official power.

And it’s a problem in the shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent protests. And police response to protests. And violence in response to the police response.

There’s a cultural shift happening in our law enforcement communities, and that shift matters to folks doing white-collar criminal work as much as blue-collar criminal work.

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Say farewell to Cooley Law — j/k, it’ll always be Cooley.

* Cleary Gottlieb lost some historic cases during the first half of 2014, including one for $50 billion, but not to worry, “the firm is proud of the work Cleary lawyers do every day.” [Am Law Daily]

* The Fourth Circuit is refusing to issue a stay in Virginia’s gay marriage case, so the state will be for all lovers starting next week unless SCOTUS decides to step in. [National Law Journal]

* Thomas M. Cooley Law School has now officially become the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. If only a new name could clear its reputation. [MLive.com]

* It’s not every day that a law student with a criminal history is arrested on murder charges, but Tuesday was that day for one student. We’ll have more on this later. [San Antonio Express-News]

* “Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it.” Google sure is optimistic about Glass, but several states aren’t, and have already proposed driving bans. [WSJ Law Blog]

‘Hmm, do I really need a JD/MBA?’

* “I’m 98, and I don’t want to depart this world with this thing hanging over me.” Miriam Moskowitz was convicted more than 60 years ago, and now Baker Botts is trying to help clear her name before she dies. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Get a lawyer, you know how this works.” Boston Scientific’s chief counsel was killed earlier this week, and police think that they may have identified a suspect — her his former flame — in the brutal murder. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

* According to a recent study, California’s affirmative action ban has done some damage to minority admissions rates at both Berkeley Law and UCLA Law, and now things like this happen to their minority students. It’s quite sad. [Daily Californian]

* The ABA has delayed taking action on Concordia Law’s bid for accreditation, and instead appointed a fact-finder. We’ll help you with this fact of the day: we don’t need more law schools. [National Law Journal]

* If you’re thinking about signing up for a JD/MBA, then congratulations, at least one of those degrees may prove to be useful to you in some way, someday. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

Judge Mark Fuller

It’s mid-August, and from what we’ve heard thus far, at least one federal judge with a lifetime appointment had an action-packed weekend.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Judge Mark Fuller of the Middle District of Alabama spent a night in jail after he allegedly had a violent altercation with his wife, Kelli Fuller. The Fullers were staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, Georgia, when all hell broke loose — as tends to happen when accusations of marital infidelities are mixed with alcohol.

Judge Fuller was released from jail Monday morning after paying $5,000 bond, but what caused these events to occur, and with whom did his wife accuse him of having an affair?

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