Family Law

Jason Smiekel

It’s not every day that a lawyer is accused of murder for hire. But that’s what happened earlier this month, when Illinois lawyer Jason W. Smiekel was accused of trying to put a hit out on a former client — who also happened to be the ex-husband of Smiekel’s current girlfriend (or fiancée).

Last week, the feds unveiled the indictment against Jason Smiekel (who was originally charged by complaint). At his arraignment last Wednesday, Smiekel pleaded not guilty to seven counts of using interstate facilities in a murder-for-hire scheme.

Since his arrest, we’ve heard from friends and colleagues of Jason Smiekel, 29, who claim that he’s getting a bum rap. They claim that blame for this unfortunate series of events should be located… elsewhere.

“How come no one is talking about his ‘girlfriend’?” asked one reader. “She needs to be questioned as well.”

So, let’s talk about that girlfriend — the one that an ATL tipster described as a “hot hot hot blonde”….

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(And ATL readers come to his defense.)

Madeline Layla Samaan-Fay, RIP

I think he did the right thing. I’m proud of my brother and now he’s in a better place. He’s at peace. His daughter’s at peace. She’ll have one name now, and we can move on. And hopefully the court will learn a little thing about justice.

Nabil Samaan, a California attorney, commenting on the apparent murder-suicide of niece Madeline Layla Samaan-Fay and brother Mourad “Moni” Samaan. Moni had been in an epic custody battle with ex-wife Marcia Fay, a California deputy attorney general.

Reema Bajaj wins the race to the courthouse.

Today we bring you two tales of Chicago-area lawyers accused of naughtiness. Chicago is a beautiful city in the summer, but some of its attorneys are facing ugly allegations.

Ladies first. What’s going on with Reema Bajaj, the rather attractive Illinois lawyer accused of prostitution? We’ve mentioned Bajaj here and there over the past few weeks, but we haven’t had hard news about her since June. Is her case any closer to resolution?

Apparently so. A plea deal is near, according to the Daily Chronicle, and Bajaj is scheduled back in court on August 31. As you may recall, Reema Bajaj has been charged with two misdemeanors and one felony. If she pleads guilty to just a misdemeanor, can she keep her Illinois law license? Readers, please enlighten us.

Let’s hear more about Reema from one reader who knows her personally — don’t worry, he’s not a customer — and then learn about another twentysomething Chicago lawyer accused of more-serious criminal conduct….

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Ask this man for tips on romantic one-liners.

Google me.

Henry Silverman, billionaire and former CEO of Cendant Corporation, upon meeting yoga instructor Karen Hader, who is now his fiancée.

(A New York judge, Laura Drager, recently barred Silverman from using scientific evidence to prove his “innate genius” in court, in litigation against his ex-wife, Nancy Silverman. A creative way to try to get around the lack of a prenuptial agreement, don’t you think?)

Sad fact of the day: about fifty percent of marriages in America end in divorce. Of course, many of you already knew that, because you’re divorced yourself, the child of divorced parents, or a divorce attorney who is rolling around in money. But however you slice it, some of the best divorce train wreck stories are born of child custody battles.

Parents going through a divorce are willing to fight over anything when it comes to the custody of their children (“How dare you feed little Suzie pasta that isn’t organic and gluten-free?!”). Even when a divorce is finalized, sometimes parents are still willing to pull the trigger on any issues that arise. In some cases, though, custody modifications are warranted.

And in this case, an Oregon mother is actually fighting to keep another woman from pulling the trigger on her teenage sons, because she’s done it before….

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If they ask your kid to pose for stock photography that will come up when somebody searches for "fat kid," that's not a good sign.

An article from the Journal of the American Medical Association is making the rounds today. It’s written by a lawyer and a doctor. The authors argue that obese children should be taken away from their parents and placed in foster care.

Yes, it’s entirely possible that this country has become so vain that people want to make letting your kids get fat an offense tantamount to child abuse. But that’s not what’s going on here. The authors aren’t suggesting that parents should lose custody rights if little Johnny has a tubby tummy. Instead, the authors are concerned when little Johnny has diabetes and a measurable gravitational pull by the time he’s 11.

If it weren’t for the fact that foster care in this country is just a little bit better than sending kids to concentration camps, I think I would support this idea. Parents should be on a shorter leash in general….

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Why don't you ask Kay Adams what she thinks about father's rights.

I’m all for father’s rights. I think they should be co-equal with mother’s rights just as soon as the child is born.

Before the child is born? When we’re just talking about cells that are parasitically living off of the mother in an invasive way as they mangle the woman’s organs, while the father says things like “you want ice cream and pickles, jeeze” then I think it’s okay to have the mother’s rights supersede the father’s.

Of course, there are tough cases. When the mother wants to get an abortion while the father wants her to bring the child to term, the situation calls for a reasoned and compassionate solution. As we think through what to do in these situations, we need calm and respectful discourse.

You know, the kind of things that work great on a giant billboard in the center of town…

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Dads, please don't set yourselves on fire.

I’ve said before that the word “literally” is overused and misused in our culture. I’m guilty of it, and so are many others. It’s not a big deal, except for the fact that when you really need the word, its meaning has been diminished.

But guys, today we have a story about a man who literally and successfully set himself on fire on the courthouse steps and died. To quote a tipster: “If burning yourself alive to protest the court system isn’t sensational enough to merit a mention on ATL, I don’t know what is.”

No doubt.

But why self-immolation? Well, let’s take a look at the man’s 10,000 word suicide note….

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If you already know what I’m talking about, I’m sorry — I don’t have very much to add. The deposition is so damn short, the transcript doesn’t contain case-identifying information, and the pdf has been stripped of its metadata. Really, I only know what you know: a hilarious deposition took place earlier this month.

For those who are in the loop, there’s been this deposition making the rounds on various lawyer listserves. From what we can tell, it’s a real deposition in what appears to be a divorce or some other type of family-law proceeding. The deponent is named Kevin Phillip Gartner; of all the Kevin Gartners in Google, we can’t be sure of which one. The lawyer taking the deposition appears to be Denise Watson, a Jacksonville area lawyer. When I tried to contact her, I was told she is “unavailable, this week.” The lawyer valiantly trying to represent Kevin Gartner and defend the deposition is known only as “Mr. Dorsey.”

That’s all I got: a name, a no-comment, and the mysterious Mr. Dorsey. Normally, that wouldn’t be enough for a full post. But you’re going to want to see the depo transcript for yourself….

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I don’t like talking about incest, ever. But apparently some people out there need to be reminded that they shouldn’t have sex with their children.

There are a couple of absolutely disgusting stories floating around about some horribly depraved people. I hope you haven’t had breakfast yet…

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