For the first time in over three years of operation, Above the Law has been sued. We feel the lawsuit has no merit, but we will not comment further on this ongoing litigation. To access the pro se complaint, coverage by other news outlets and blogs, and ATL’s prior posts about Professor Donald Jones, click on the links collected after the jump.
Please note that we have closed comments on this post, out of respect for the judicial process. Thank you.
UPDATE: We will be continually updating this post with links to news and blogosphere coverage. We have already added new links from the ABA Journal, the WSJ Law Blog, and the Volokh Conspiracy, among other sources.
The fresh links will appear AFTER THE JUMP, so check them out there. Thanks.
If you were hoping for the AutoAdmit lawsuit to result in courtroom drama, with Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey breaking down in tears on the stand, then we’re sorry to disappoint you. The case has ended, somewhat anticlimactically.
Last week, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their case against the remaining defendants. From the Hartford Courant:
Two former Yale University law school students have quietly settled a high-profile lawsuit they brought against about two dozen anonymous authors who the students said defamed and threatened them by posting malicious falsehoods on an Internet message board.
Perhaps plaintiff Brittan Heller felt ready to put down her sword, now that she’s happily married. But note that the dismissal is without prejudice (so check yo self, Pauliewalnuts).
What did the plaintiffs get out of filing their lawsuit?
But with a hot blonde model as the plaintiff. From our sister site, Fashionista:
Liskula Cohen’s modeled for Versace and Armani and landed international Vogue covers, but recently she’s made less fashionable headlines.
Last year, a doorman smashed her over the head with a vodka bottle, and this year she’s sued Google to reveal the identity of an especially cruel blogger. The both tragic and anonymous person used Google’s blogger.com platform to unleash constant rants about the blond’s imagined sexual habits, but argued in court that the words were “non-actionable opinion and/or hyperbole.”
Lindsay Lohan is kind of over as far as celebrity gossip goes: no more car accidents, no more sloppy drunk photographs, and in a relatively stable relationship. But now Lohan’s girlfriend, Samantha Ronson, is getting pulled back into the tabloids, and she’s dragging First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus along with her.
Martin Garbus prides himself on being “one of the country’s leading trial lawyers” and for “aggressively represent[ing] his commercial and criminal clients in both the courts and the public media.” He sounded like the perfect fit when Samantha Ronson decided to file a defamation suit against celeb gossip blogger Perez Hilton for calling her a “lezbot” and accusing her of selling access to Lohan to paparazzi.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the suit did not go well. Ronson didn’t want to pay Garbus’s exorbitant bills. She lost the suit. Now she’s on the hook for her and Hilton’s legal bills, to the tune of over $200k. Her solution was to sue Garbus for malpractice. He sued her right back for unpaid legal bills.
Ironically, the suit transformed Garbus, who had called celebrity blogs “trash,” into an unwitting comrade in Hilton’s quest for dirt on Ronson.
In order to defend himself, Garbus is going rooting in the garbage of Lohan and Ronson’s life together:
Garbus’ attorneys have identified Lohan as the most critical witness in the case besides the two litigants and have requested information concerning their relationship, finances, possible drug use and alleged rehab stays. In one measure of how far his defense plans to go, they have asked for copies of every text message and e-mail between the women over the last two years.
A trial is scheduled for May in Los Angeles. The parties spent the last few months squabbling over procedures for deposing Lohan and Ronson after lawyers for the women raised concerns that videotapes of the pretrial Q & As would be leaked to the media.
The only winner in all this seems to be Perez Hilton:
Watching from the sidelines, Hilton’s lawyer said he was stunned Ronson was pursuing the case. Coverage of the first suit had extended the life and increased the audience for a small blog item, he said, and the malpractice claim was making it even bigger.
Back in 2007, Judge Ernest B. Murphy won his libel case case against the Boston Herald. The Herald had reported that Murphy was soft on crime and, well, nobody puts Baby in the corner.
But winning just wasn’t enough for Judge Murphy. After he won he sent two threatening letters to Patrick Purcell, publisher of the Herald, on court stationery. The letters, which included the use of all-caps as pioneered by Chief Justice John Marshall, demanded that the Herald drop its appeal and hand deliver a check for half a million dollars more than the judgment, plus interest.
According to the Boston Globe, “Purcell testified that the letters were intimidating and looked like ransom notes.”
Yesterday, Murphy agreed to resign. Murphy claimed to have post-traumatic stress from his battle with the Herald. The Commission on Judicial Conduct had recommended a $25,000 fine, but they may amend their report in light of Murphy’s resignation.
We’d make a joke about how a judge could incur psychologically destructive stress from participating in a lawsuit, but we’re terrified that Murphy will sue us under the ADA. Judge who sued Herald agrees to leave bench [Boston Globe via WSJ Law Blog] Earlier: Murphy v. Boston Herald: Some Beantown Benchslappery
The embarrassing Google hit is one of the great new fears of the modern age. If the number-one Google hit for your name is your work bio, Corporate Challenge race-time results, or nothing at all, consider yourself lucky. You could have something worse, like, “Kashmir Hill. Is that her real name or her porn screen name?” Or something much worse, like the derogatory comments that spurred the Autoadmit lawsuit.
Seattle lawyer Shakespear Feyissa is in a Google predicament. He wants a ten-year-old article removed from his college newspaper’s archives. The school administrators say sure, but the college newspaper editors are adamantly opposed. We love principled undergrads. From the Seattle Times:
While a senior at [Seattle Pacific University] 10 years ago, Feyissa was arrested on suspicion of attempted sexual assault and suspended. He was never charged, but the suspension stuck — indefinitely.
Feyissa complained that his punishment was more severe because of his race, he told the student newspaper at the time, but an investigation dismissed his claim.
He’s a lawyer now, and that article — still among the first hits for Feyissa’s name on Google — continues to hurt him personally and professionally, he said. So Feyissa, at 33, has been pressuring SPU to help clear his name.
We question his tactics. By going after the school, he has succeeded in getting the original Falcon article knocked back a few pages when Google searching his name. But due to the media coverage of his crusade, he now has tons of hits with the paragraph intro, “A decade ago Shakespear Feyissa was arrested on suspicion of attempted sexual assault.”
Read more, after the jump.
See the links below for more details. Also note this, from Marc Randazza of the Legal Satyricon:
For anyone who is curious, I have personally spoken to the University of Texas adjunct who happens to bear the [same name as the formerly anonymous defendant known as ].
He IS NOT the person in question. I would appreciate it if any readers would keep that in mind, and educate anyone who might hold this mistaken belief. I can confirm with 100% certainty that the [individual identified as ] in the complaint is not an attorney and is not a law professor.
* Spitzer may — or make that will — resign today. [CNN; New York Times]
* Obama wins Mississippi, picks up more Texas delegates than Clinton. [CNN]
* Gitmo war-crimes tribunal to hear detainee’s case. [MSNBC]
* Houses passes proposal to create independent ethics panel. [Washington Post]
* Another French trader taken into custody in connection with gigantic trading scandal. [AP]
* Irish appeals court chews up, spits out, libel ruling against restaurant critic. [AFP via Drudge]
In last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we asked you to submit your nominations for Lawyer of the Year. Today, you get to vote!
The nominees, and select comments explaining why, are below:
For both the attention focused, success of action, and for the visibility [he] brought to the secondary issue of partner/associate relations (but not those kinds of relations).
Exemplifies why lawyers are so mistrusted in this country.
The man had the credentials to do Biglaw. He chose public service instead. Although he is obviously politically ambitious, he at least appears to be in it for the people. He’s almost as hot as Judicial Hottie Jeffrey Sutton. I mean, did you see the Obama Girl videos? We’ve all got a crush on Obama. And he just might be president next year.
He’s generated the most thoughtful discussion of law school. That, and perhaps the publicity will help him get a job.
For his tireless defense and continuous commentary in countless RIAA cases.
We know that last one should really be a 2008 Lawyer of the Year, not a 2007 Lawyer of the Year, but we just don’t care. You demanded the nomination right now.
So who should win? Cast your vote below. Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.
There’s news to report in the lawsuit filed by two female Yale Law School students over various allegedly defamatory and threatening comments posted about them on AutoAdmit.com. The amended complaint, which was delayed in arriving, has finally been filed. You can check it out here.
For some thoughts on the amended complaint by Professor Dave Hoffman, who has established himself as the expert on all things AutoAdmit-related, see here. As Hoffman notes, the most significant change is the dropping of Anthony Ciolli as a defendant.
In response to this news, Ciolli issued this statement:
I am pleased to see that the Plaintiffs have voluntarily dismissed me from this suit. Including me in the suit in the first place was legally unsupportable. I never posted a single defamatory or invasive statement. I told the plaintiffs that from the start, and I provided them with a sworn declaration to that effect.
Had I remained as a defendant, the only theory could have been rooted in a desire to overturn Section 230. As I was merely an employee of AutoAdmit, leaving me in the suit would have been akin to suing a Google employee for anything found on a web page hosted by that company – even if Google was not responsible for the content. The weakness of that theory was apparent to me from the beginning, as were the ramifications of its unlikely success — an explosion of liability for every internet service provider in America.
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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