Family Law

Judge Marjorie Rendell (former First Lady of Pennsylvania).

There’s lots of law-related news coming out of Philadelphia right now.

The lead story on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website today is about the latest Villanova Law scandal, regarding falsified admissions data being submitted to the ABA. (The article contains a shout-out to ATL, which we appreciate.)

The trial of Gerald Ung, the Temple Law student accused of shooting another young man, is getting underway in Philly this week. Opening arguments are set for this morning. (If you have any tips on the Ung story, please contact us.)

And then there’s the news that has all tongues wagging in the City of Brotherly Love: the split of a big-time Pennsylvania power couple (and a pair of Villanova Law grads, by the way).

Former Governor Edward Rendell, who left the governor’s mansion just last month, and Judge Marjorie Rendell, a prominent judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, are going their separate ways. They announced their separation, after 40 years of marriage, in an email sent to friends….

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This would not be happening if Leo McGarry were still alive.

When Charlie Sheen heard the news that Charlie Sheen was found naked and coked out of his mind in a trashed suite at the Plaza with a porn star hooker locked in the bathroom, Charlie Sheen knew he had to do something drastic – something epic – to top himself. 

Last week, the Two and a Half Men whacktor reasoned that the best way to supercharge the party was simply to multiply the coke, hookers and party duration by a factor of three. Here are the allegations, from TMZ:

Charlie Sheen had a “briefcase full of cocaine” delivered to his home — and was using large amounts of the drug during the 36-hour bender that landed him in the hospital … this according to a source inside the house….

We’re told Sheen had several people inside his home during the 36-hour span that started Tuesday night — including 2 porn stars, a business associate, and several other women….

Sheen was eventually hospitalized early Thursday morning for “severe abdominal pain.”

Charlie was released from celebrity hospital Ceders-Sinai last Thursday and is now spending his time rehabbing… his job, by writing public apologies to CBS and Warner Bros, and promising them he’ll be healed and back to work by the end of February. A number of sites have wondered how the 16 million blind and deaf fans who rely on Charlie, a fat, zitty teenager and some other talentless hack to make them laugh every week are going to survive while the show is on production hiatus. But I have an idea. Kill yourself…

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Full disclosure: Gilbert Arenas is one of my favorite basketball players. Sure, he’s a selfish, me-first player. And he seems to be one of the gun-nut whackos I would never want as a neighbor. But the man is the author of one of the best quotes of all time.

Check out Deadspin for Gilbert’s full thoughts on shark attacks. Here’s the kicker:

So if you’re swimming in the water and a shark bites you, that’s called trespassing. That is called trespassing. That is not a shark attack.

A shark attack is if you’re chilling at home, sitting on your couch, and a shark comes in and bites you; now that’s a shark attack. Now, if you’re chilling in the water, that is called invasion of space. So I have never heard of a shark attack.

Arenas is a gunner on the court and off the court, and he would certainly be one in the legal classroom.

So who knows, maybe he would make a great lawyer? He can’t be much worse than the lawyers at Trope and Trope. That’s the name of the law firm representing Arenas’s ex-girlfriend in legal proceedings against the star athlete.

And thanks to Trope, we know everything the woman is alleging against Arenas. Apparently Trope can’t keep its documents in order….

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Steven Simkin is too cool for a necktie.

Being married to a Paul Weiss partner is nice; getting divorced from a Paul Weiss partner is even nicer. Thanks to the prestigious firm’s eye-popping profits, getting divorced from a PW partner should give you a seven-figure payday (assuming the Paul Weiss partner has been a partner for a while and is the “monied spouse” — a pretty safe assumption, unless you work at, say, Goldman Sachs).

But when you get that gigantic payment — like winning the lottery, but without all the taxes — can you feel confident in its finality? Or do you have to worry that your ex-spouse, a partner at a firm known for its aggressive and brilliant lawyering, will find a clever way to get some of that money back from you, years later?

Consider the tale of Steven Simkin, a Paul Weiss partner of almost three decades, and his ex-wife Laura Blank, who works in education. It involves a multimillion-dollar marital estate, residential properties in Manhattan and the tony suburb of Scarsdale, and an investment account with one Bernie Madoff.

And yes, for your voyeuristic pleasure, the tale comes with hard numbers, lots of numbers…

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[T]he supposed legal benefits of marriage are often illusory, and in any event they are probably more than offset by legally created burdens. Marriage confers fewer rights now, but still many obligations. The question for any mature couple then is simple: Why do it?

— Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks, in a Room for Debate post at NYTimes.com.

Columbia professor David Epstein

I honestly can’t believe I have to do this, but apparently we need to argue about incest. Last week we told you about the Columbia political science (and adjunct law) professor, David Epstein, who is accused of having a sexual relationship with his 24-year-old daughter.

I’d hoped that most reasonable people would agree that incest is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed. But I’m dealing with lawyers and quite a few homophobes. I wasn’t exactly surprised that commenters made various Lawrence-based arguments and ridiculous connections between incest and gay sex.

And if the commenters are defending incest, you can best believe that Epstein’s lawyer is defending incest too…

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Columbia Professor David Epstein

We know that part of the appeal of Ivy League schools is the incestuous nature of the high-end job market. People like to hire their own, and if successful Ivy League graduates prefer to work with or mentor fellow Ivy League alums, then the whole Ivy system becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

See, it’s fun to talk about “incest” when you are using the word to make a creative intellectual analogy. It’s much less fun to use the word incest when you are talking about… incest. Revoltingly, David Epstein, a political science professor at Columbia University who also occasionally teaches legal seminars, has been accused of having a consensual sexual relationship with his 24-year-old daughter. According to the New York Daily News, Epstein has been charged with a single count of felony incest.

Epstein is (or perhaps “was”) popular with his students. He was also a news commentator and occasional blogger on the Huffington Post.

I’m find myself wishing he was accused of having inappropriate sex with one of his college-aged students, or using an escort service, or having sex with donkeys, or something other than allegedly doing it with his daughter. Because that’s just a gross perversion of nature.

And now I have to make jokes about it….

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Hopefully you paid attention during middle school sex-ed, because you’re unlikely to learn about the birds and bees at law school.

According a recently released survey by Law Students for Reproductive Justice, only 18 percent of U.S. law schools have offered reproductive rights law courses over the last seven years. More specifically: there have been 37 separate courses and instructor-led reading groups taught at least once, offered at 32 schools located in 17 different states.

Is that good? As future legislators, jurors, advocates or defenders of reproductive rights, do you think you need formal training in the subject? Or is study of the overarching foundations of our legal system sufficient to allow you to take the next Planned Parenthood case that comes into town — or at least talk intelligently about it at parties?

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Well, this is not going to make Bingham McCutchen partners happy. A judge today ruled that the marital agreement between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and wife Jamie McCourt is invalid — and therefore Frank might not have sole ownership of the Dodgers.

We wrote about Bingham’s boo-boo back in September. Some copies of the postnuptial agreement use the word “inclusive” in a way that would have given Frank sole ownership, while others use the word “exclusive,” which would have made Jamie a co-owner.

Bingham’s agreement may have been thrown out by the court, but don’t think for a second that Frank McCourt is done fighting for sole control of the team…

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This is a truly innovative approach to helping at-risk children. This is a truly sad commentary on the state of our society. This is a great way to introduce children to the concept of having a lawyer. I can’t believe we need to explain to children why they need a lawyer. This is a tale of a comic book, and it is truly the best thing I’ve seen that is so terrible.

The ABA Journal has a fascinating feature about a four-page comic book called: I Got Arrested, Now What. It was created as a final project for the Youth Justice Board, a program run by the Center for Court Innovation in New York City. The board is comprised of public school high school students from the City.

One of the students on the board explained the need for this comic book:

“All of us came in with the mindset that we wanted to change something in New York City,” says Khaair, a senior at Francis Lewis High School in Queens who didn’t want his last name published. “I feel like the youth of New York City don’t have representation—and we really need a voice, especially for the stuff that involves us.”

And since this is New York City, the “stuff” that our youths need guidance on is what to do when they get arrested. You simply must check out this comic book…

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