Dubious Defenses

Darrious Mathis: too handsome for rape?

I had him stand up. I told the jury I wish I had what this guy’s got. Don’t take my word for it. Look at him. A lot of women like this — and some men, too.

Dwight Thomas, one of the attorneys who represented Darrious Mathis during his first trial, issuing remarks on having to “work with what you’ve got” as a defense attorney in a rape case. Thomas’s defense centered on his client’s good looks, a strategy that resulted in a hung jury.

At his second trial with a different attorney — one who did not use the “too-handsome defense” as aggressively — Mathis was convicted of kidnapping, carjacking, possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime, and assault with intent to rob and rape.

* The NCAA’s president thinks Northwestern’s sports union will be the first case of its kind to be heard by the Supreme Court, and his brain hasn’t even been scrambled by concussions. [Bloomberg]

* “If I’d come up with it, I’d probably be proud of it.” If this Georgia lawyer had used the “my client is too handsome for rape” defense, perhaps there wouldn’t have been a conviction. [Daily Report (reg. req.)]

* A few weeks ago, we wrote about the best law schools for making money. Since then, the rankings were revised due to error. Where does your school stand now? We’ll chat about this today. [Forbes]

* “[L]awyers aren’t retiring or dying nearly fast enough for us to fill their spots.” Perhaps statements like this about the job market wouldn’t be so prevalent if U.S. News told pre-law applicants the truth. [NPR]

* Law students will call you out for your behavior, even if you’re a police officer This one is suing the NYPD for false arrest after questioning their food truck tactics. We’ll have more on this later. [New York Post]

If every jury heard cases like this, it would almost be worth it to blow a week sitting on a trial. Speaking of blowing, a 61-year-old man allegedly tried to get some gentle cows to show him a good time back in September. I say “tried” because apparently the cows didn’t go for either the carrot or stick and rejected the man’s overtures.

Shut down in the barnyard, eh? Talk about failing to find love in a hopeless place.

Anyway, getting jilted by a cow was only the beginning of his alleged real-life game of FarmVille, and the man’s trial has provided non-stop entertainment for the jury as everything from the testimony to the judge’s instructions have elicited laughter from the jury box.

Bow Chick(en) Bow Wow!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cow Rejects Man’s Sexual Advances. What Happens Next… Is the Jury Laughs At Him.”

* The EEOC suit against Kelley Drye was brought “for a reason.” You hear that, Biglaw? Other firms with mandatory retirement policies better take a look at their partnership agreements and make some changes. [Am Law Daily]

* Media whore lawyers unite! Cheney Mason of Casey Anthony fame has come out of the woodwork to support George Zimmerman. Still waiting on vital impressions from Gloria Allred. Oh wait… [Naked Politics / Miami Herald]

* Just think, maybe if Planned Parenthood of Texas had taken Tucker Max’s money, they wouldn’t be suing the state for banning their organization from the women’s health program. Nah, they’d still be suing. [Reuters]

* Georgetown Law is planning to launch an executive education program, but don’t worry, they’re not going to be competing with Harvard. They know they’re the safety school in this scenario. [National Law Journal]

* Love will definitely make you do some really crazy things, like watch The Expendables. Or allegedly commit a murder-suicide because your husband might’ve had an affair. Things like that. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

* Kim Kardashian’s dubious defense of the day: “I’m Armenian and hairy.” The only-famous-for-her-sex-tape star is trying to use that as an excuse to get a lawsuit over a hair removal product dismissed. [Fox News]

Sleeping Beauty: Not on the fast track to partnership.

I’m a big believer in forcing society to make reasonable accommodations for disabled people. It’s not too much to ask that disabled people be provided with handicapped accessible taxi cabs and buildings. And a special parking spot. Or whatever. If there’s a reasonable thing that society can do to make it a little bit easier to function with a disability, we should do it.

As long as we’re dealing with a real disability.

We used to live in a world where it was pretty easy to identify a disabled person. “Hello. Hello? Oh, you must be deaf.” “Hey, why are a you miserable cuss who keeps screaming ‘hoo ha’ at me? Oh, you must be blind.” “Why did you take out a hundred thousand dollar loan to go to a school that doesn’t help people get high-paying jobs? Oh, you must be retarded.” Man, those were the days.

Sadly, we now live in a world where it’s harder and harder to separate out the really disabled people from those who just can’t get their stuff together. To cope, I’ve developed my own little test: if I wouldn’t want the disability, it’s a real disability. If I’d gladly take the “disability” in exchange for a cash payout, it’s probably fake.

So let me ask you this: would you take a cash payout from your Biglaw firm if I afflict you with the dreaded “I’m really sleepy” disability? Yeah, this woman would too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Are You Allowed to Have a Biglaw Job If You Need to Sleep All the Time?”

Last month, there was some controversy out in California about public nudity. In San Francisco, it’s totally legal to prance around naked all day long, but local nudists were upset when they found out they might soon be forced to put down a towel before sitting buck-ass-naked on public seats.

Now a similar controversy has traveled to New York — not over increased restrictions on nudity, but whether there can be public nudity at all. Holly Van Voast, a 45-year-old activist for the cause, has had her fair share to say about it. And by “say,” I of course mean “show.”

Van Voast has grinned and bared it all — in Times Square, on the Staten Island Ferry, and most recently, in the middle of Grand Central Station. One of these public displays of middle-aged nudity landed her in Midtown Community Court yesterday, where the naked truth was revealed….

WARNING: A photo of a topless Van Voast — tastefully redacted, of course — appears after the jump. If you can’t handle it, or if you’re not in a place where you can view a (tastefully redacted) photo of a topless woman, please stop reading here.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Naked Truth Always Comes Out in Court (But Not Like This)”

Swine Flu law schools.JPGThere is little chance that the American experiment would have survived a serious outbreak of the bubonic plague. The Athenians fought a war while stricken with the plague. Granted, it didn’t go so well, but that’s not the point. But a couple of kids get a new strain of spring flu (which is at least as accurate of a name for it as “swine flu”) and people start losing it.

Of course, law students are nothing if not susceptible to mass hysteria. Take this message that students at Loyola – Los Angeles received:

Dear Students,

Please be advised that students will be permitted to wear breathing masks during an examination. If a student chooses to do so, he/she will be permitted to bring and use the mask at his/her seat in the examination room. This policy will remain in effect through the end of the 2009 Spring examination period. Thank you.

Office of the Registrar Loyola Law School

On the one hand, are people really wasting precious exam cramming time worrying about swine flu? Really?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Notes on Swine Flu”

santosh potdar.jpgA fun part of traveling is observing “cultural differences.” It’s okay to pick your nose in public in some parts of Kenya, to comment on someone’s significant weight gain in the Philippines, and to burp mid-meal in India. The practices may not be your cup of tea, but that’s the fun of exploring other cultures. But what about a culture of gender discrimination in the workplace?

A group of female hospital administrative staff have filed a lawsuit in Ohio against Summa Health Systems and Dr. Santosh Potdar alleging gender discrimination. Among their allegations against the doctor, from the complaint:

  • Potdar referred to them as a “Bunch of B*tches,” “Hormonal Messes,” and a “F*cking Lesbian.”
  • Potdar “[made] gender-based, derogatory and offensive statements and display[ed] gender animus by stating, among other things, that ‘women should not work outside the home’ and by telling one Plaintiff that ‘he feels sorry for her husband that he has to deal with you’ and ‘he feels sorry for her father that he had only daughters.”
  • Potdar “subject[ed] Plaintiffs to verbal attacks, insults, degradation and humiliation, including, among other things, calling them a ‘Bunch of Monkeys.’”

    So we assume Potdar would prefer to have the hospital populated with Gaylord Fockers.

    Our favorite part of this lawsuit is the defense put forth by the hospital, according to the plaintiffs. From the complaint:

    Summa’s Human Resources Department told Plaintiffs that they were “working on it” and, at one point, they attributed Dr. Potdar’s treatment of women to “cultural” differences.

    We’re unsure where Potdar is from — according to the press release announcing his arrival, he was previously head of a medical center in Pennsylvania — but apparently he’s been listening to too much Jay-Z. Summa has not yet filed an answer, but we do hope the hospital’s lawyers come up with a better defense than “cultural differences.”

    Complaint from Summit County Clerk of Courts

    Case Details [Summit County Clerk of Courts via Courthouse News Service]

  • Seinfeld.jpgJerry Seinfeld is stuck in a bit of a legal mess (and it’s not the first time). He and his wife have been sued by cookbook author Missy Chase Lapine, who claims that Jessica Seinfeld plagiarized her recipes for the best-selling Deceptively Delicious Cookbook. Deceptive, indeed.

    Then Jerry went on David Letterman and made jokes about Ms. Lapine, comparing her “to ‘wackos’ who had stalked Letterman. Seinfeld added that the ‘hysterical’ Lapine was a ‘three-name woman’ and ‘if you read history, many of the three-name people do become assassins.’” So then Lapine hit him with a slander lawsuit. It’s a Seinfeld episode gone horribly, horribly wrong. Kind of like the last, really unfunny episode of the series, which also took place in a courtroom.

    Now, Jerry is seeking summary judgment claiming that “his remarks were consistent with a ‘recurring theme’ of his comedy and not slanderous.” Here’s an excerpt from the motion from Smoking Gun:

    1007082seinfeld3.gif

    So his defense is along the lines of, “Have you seen that one episode of Seinfeld?” Seinfeld references usually work among friends, but will they do the trick in the Southern District of New York?

    Cosmo Kramer, Exhibit A [The Smoking Gun]

    Earlier: Rich Celebrities Trying To Stiff Their Broker: “What’s the Deal With That?”

    tiny penis small penis.jpgA growing trend in criminal defense: invoking your modest endowment as exculpatory evidence.
    Back in March, we wrote about this case, in which a Florida defendant argued that his penis was too small to inflict the injuries sustained by a rape victim. Now we hear about a more extreme version of the “size matters” defense, from the Houston Chronicle:

    Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the conviction of a local doctor for indecent exposure.

    The court rejected the argument by high-profile attorney Dick DeGuerin and his associate Neal Davis that the doctor could not have exposed himself to an undercover cop because that which is alleged to have been exposed is too small to have been seen.

    Too small to be seen? Some defendants would rather serve time than rely upon this defense.
    Alas, the defendant doctor got the worst of both worlds: the world now knows about his wee wee-wee, and he was convicted (with the conviction affirmed on appeal). Columnist Rick Casey sums it up:

    The bottom line: This is a case that could be described as de minimis, a legal term defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “1. Trifling, minimal. 2. (Of a fact or thing) so insignificant that a court may overlook it in deciding an issue or case.”

    Quips our tipster: “So much for the myth that everything is bigger in Texas.”
    Accused flasher loses ‘to small to see’ defense [Houston Chronicle via Legal Blog Watch]
    Earlier: From the Department of Dubious Defenses: If the Trojan Mangum Don’t Fit, You Must Acquit

    Page 1 of 212