Crime

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Blue-Collar Criminal Problems Are White-Collar Criminal Problems”

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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Federal Judge Allegedly Has Affair With Law Clerk, Goes To Jail Over Domestic Violence Incident”

Robin Williams

* “No person, no matter how high, is above the law.” It would seem Chief Judge John Roberts is unfamiliar with many of the attorneys we write about on a daily basis. [Associated Press]

* Considering many Americans can’t name a single justice, whether the high court issues 9-0 or 5-4 opinions likely matters little, but Cass Sunstein has a study on it. [New York Times]

* Judge Mark Fuller (M.D. AL) spent a night in jail this weekend after an alleged domestic violence incident with his wife. He paid $5,000 bond before he was released. Uhh… Roll Tide? [CNN]

* The ABA moved forward with reforms to help students gain clinical and distance-learning opportunities. Alas, being paid for work was too controversial this time. [National Law Journal]

* A woman who was trapped inside a law firm as a gunman opened fire before killing himself is now suing everyone for damages. You’d probably sue, too — it must’ve been terrifying. [Times-Picayune]

* Robin Williams, the beloved actor who recently played a very disgruntled lawyer, RIP. [ABC News]

Former White House press secretary and gun regulation activist James Brady died last week. The coroner has apparently ruled Brady’s death a homicide. Nothing new happened, the coroner is simply saying that the bullet to the head that Brady took 33 years ago killed him. As murders go, this was an extremely long-tailed killing. Crim law professors of the world rejoice: life just delivered your next issue spotter.

But can a death three decades after a shooting open the door to a murder prosecution?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “James Brady Death Ruled Homicide 33 Years Later — Are You Impressed Now Jodie Foster?”

By all accounts, Stephen G. Dickerman is a pretty good lawyer. He retired from practice a few years back.

By all accounts, Stephen G. Dickerman is a pretty poor lawyer. He’s an unknown man who appears to have stolen the former’s identity.

In a bizarre story out of Brooklyn, the FBI arrested a man for using the identity of the retired Stephen G. Dickerman to operate a law practice in Brighton Beach for the last several years.

How easy is it to steal a lawyer’s identity? Shockingly easy it turns out. As in, you should be really worried about your identity easy.

As of now, authorities still have no idea who this guy really is — he still insists that he’s Stephen G. Dickerman, practicing under his supposed Hebrew name as Shlomo Dickerman. The only thing we know for sure is that this guy’s got a lot of chutzpah….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Man Pretends To Be Lawyer, Becomes Criminal Defendant”

* The new icon of the Islamic State is a hipster with a law degree. Where’s his Career Alternatives piece? (Alternate quips: For his money, the evening call to prayer must be on vinyl. When decrying alcohol as sinful, he prefers PBR. The scimitar in that picture is from the vintage store. Which direction is Mecca from the Williamsburg Bridge?). [The Telegraph]

* A high school teacher showed up to work intoxicated and without pants on the first day on the job. And thus ends Elie’s career as a high school teacher. [CBS Houston]

* Google is tipping off authorities about criminal activity in Gmail accounts. I believe this message is brought to you by Hotmail. [CNBC]

* Smaller law firms are capturing more and more M&A work per a study by CounselLink. Biglaw may be coming “back” when it comes to hiring, but the trend of clients shifting work to smaller firms continues. [Wall Street Journal]

* We talk a lot about the justice gap in this country. Now some enterprising Utah lawyers are out there making legal services affordable. [The Atlantic]

* “This is not a life story that will end well.” Indeed. [Law Lemmings]

* Thanks to Betterment for sponsoring a great event last night with expert in-house counsel on becoming a startup company lawyer. Check out what you missed. [Betterment]

* A video of Notorious RBG describing the 2013-14 Term. She also explains her approval of the title of Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg. Embed below…. [Derrick Wang]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 08.07.14″

Could this investigation spell doom for Beau Brindley’s legal career?

“At the Law Offices of Beau B. Brindley, it is our policy to respond to all criminal charges with a relentless attack on the government. We aggressively pursue every case as if we were the accused.”

Those words, from the website of prominent Chicago defense lawyer Beau Brindley, have proved prescient. Now Brindley might get to feel exactly what it’s like to be in the shoes of the accused.

As we mentioned yesterday, Brindley finds himself the subject of a federal criminal probe. What are the allegations against him?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslapped Beau Brindley Is Back — And The Target Of A Criminal Probe”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Affluenza Kid And Privilege (This Time The Evidentiary Kind)”

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