Crime

She’s coming down with a bad case of ‘going to get a pony.’

Remember the “affluenza” kid? His name is Ethan Couch and the teenager went on an alcohol-fueled joyride after a party in the mansion his parents had bought for him. The joyride resulted in the death of 4 people and the injury of multiple others as alcohol-fueled joyrides are wont to do. Except Couch avoided the fate of pretty much any other person who might kill 4 people on the back of a clinical psychologist’s expert opinion that Couch suffered from a mental condition that he coined as “affluenza” — basically as a rich, privileged tool, the kid couldn’t be held responsible for his actions.

Most people found this ridiculous. Elie went so far as to call for the parents to be jailed. Which has a certain Nancy Grace-style emotional appeal, but also kind of feeds the argument that this kid himself should continue to remain shielded from the consequences of his actions. It also fans the flames of the same parent-policing logic that ends with people getting arrested for letting their kids play outside. But in any event, the fact that a juvenile system judge with a reputation for harsh punishments for poor, black kids — she sent a 14-year-old black kid to jail for 10 years for punching a kid who fell and hit his head resulting in his death — sent a 16-year-old, rich, white kid willfully driving drunk to a country club rehab facility — conveniently paid for mostly by taxpayers — exposed everything wrong with privilege in America.

Now the case raises another debate about privilege. One of the victims who survived the accident is suing and wants to see exactly how this clinical psychologist came to his groundbreaking diagnosis that rich kids don’t have to go to jail, and Couch’s lawyers are fighting that disclosure tooth and nail….

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Jodi Arias

I do not believe it is in your best interest … I strongly urge you to reconsider.

– Judge Sherry Stephens, shortly before she granted Jodi Arias’s request to represent herself during the second penalty phase of her murder trial. In April 2013, Arias was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend.

Dan Markel

More than a week has passed since our last report on the investigation into the killing of Professor Dan Markel, and there has been disturbingly little progress — or at least publicly disclosed progress — in the inquiry. No arrests have been made, and no suspects have been identified.

But we have do have a few small updates, which we will share with you now. One of them is quite disturbing….

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* Nothing demands a SWAT team like a 90-year-old woman. [Lowering the Bar]

* Not so much legal, but here’s Princeton Review’s ranking of the best and worst colleges. If you’re looking for hard liquor, head to Iowa City. [TaxProf Blog]

* Dewey know what Al Togut’s going to say about law firm bankruptcies. Yeah, I know, but we’re just going to keep riding this pun. [Forbes]

* Corruption in New Orleans? Hold on, I need a second to let this sink in. [The Times-Picayune]

* Be sure to come by Betterment on Wednesday to hear from a panel of general counsel about the transition to in-house work for a startup company. [Above the Law]

* The CFPB is cracking down on debt-collecting law firms. So if you’re a bottom-feeder, the government is coming for you. [Gawker]

* Could this be the worst judge in the country? [WFPL News]

* “Study Finds College Still More Worthwhile Than Spending 4 Years Chained To Radiator.” Congrats to Michael Simkovic on his new paper. [The Onion]

* The next Hobby Lobby could be Notre Dame, who wants the right to not have to pay for insurance that might possibly allow women to purchase birth control that kind of but aren’t really abortifacients in any scientific sense. It’s represented pro bono by Jones Day. Honestly, I don’t have it in for Jones Day, but it seems like everysingledamntime I write something about a firm doing awful things I end up typing J-O-N-E-S-D-A-Y at some point in the article. [MSNBC]

* Helpful judge tells criminal to change his ways — not because he’s a criminal, but because he’s a really bad criminal. [Huffington Post]

* J.D.s should consider panhandling as a legitimate career alternative. [Law and More]

* Lat explains why apprenticeship should be an option for becoming a lawyer. But what if you just love law school so much. [New York Times]

* Remember when Examsoft screwed up the bar exam and the Twittersphere went nuts? WBEZ spoke with Lat about what went down. Embed below… [SoundCloud]

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I’m a technology geek. I’m cognizant of the argument that a not entirely thought-out prosecution could lead to the suppression of ideas and technology, and I have no desire to do that.

Wesley Hsu, chief of the cybercrime unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, explaining his approach to prosecuting cases. You can check out Kashmir Hill’s interesting profile of Hsu over at Forbes.

Dan Markel

The investigation into the shocking and tragic murder of Professor Dan Markel continues, as we noted in Morning Docket. The police recently released additional details about the crime — but are withholding certain pieces of information, for strategic reasons.

How much progress has been made in the investigation, and what are the latest developments?

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Convicted murderer Joseph Wood’s execution began at 1:52 p.m. yesterday. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., according to a statement from Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Some witnesses insist that Wood continued to gasp for air at least 600 times after he was supposedly fully sedated. Others argue that he was merely snoring. Everyone agrees that the lethal injection process took a lot longer than the expected. Death by lethal injection typically occurs within ten minutes or so.

America has grown accustomed to long delays in carrying out the death penalty. Inmates sit on death row for years, even decades. As Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote, “Old age, not execution, is the most serious risk factor for inmates at the San Quentin death row.” We may be used to delays before denizens of death row get to the death chamber, but we have only recently started to see delays once an execution has actually begun….

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Dan Markel

No major breaks have been announced in the investigation of the tragic death of Professor Dan Markel. Law enforcement authorities have not publicly identified any suspects. Dan’s former wife, Wendi Adelson, is working with the police and is both devastated at his loss and fearful for herself and their children, according to her lawyer. We extend our condolences and sympathies to her and to all of Dan’s family and friends at this time.

Until there are further developments in the case, let’s focus on Dan’s life rather than his death. I shared some of my own memories of Dan yesterday. Here are additional recollections of Dan from around the country….

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My experience with federal court is limited to three months externing for a district judge after first year of law school (that and testifying in a homicide case, but that’s another column).  The time was occasionally depressing (can you say “pro se”?), always sobering (you mean the judge is actually going to rely on my legal research??), and ultimately a decent dose of reality after enduring nine months of the alter-world that is being a 1L.

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