Gay

Heath Ledger Heath A Ledger Heathcliff Andrew Ledger death overdose suicide Above the Law blog.jpgWe wish we knew how to quit… finding legal angles to every story under the sun. One such story is the recent, tragic death of Heath Ledger, the celebrated young actor.
We’ve noted the news in passing. Now we offer more substantive, law-related discussion (beyond fleeting references to NYU law students who went from their seminars about Jesus to join the crowd of gawkers assembled outside Ledger’s apartment).
1. Rights to remains. Sometimes this can become an issue, as it did in the case of Anna Nicole Smith. Earlier this week, the Ohio Supreme Court heard a case about a law providing that body parts removed during an autopsy are classified as medical waste (which usually results in the incineration, rather than burial with the body).
It fortunately appears this won’t be an issue in Ledger’s case. Although additional blood and tissue testing still needs to be done, his family will be taking custody of his body, according to the NYT’s City Room blog.
2. Pending projects. Heath Ledger’s sudden passing raises issues with respect to projects he was involved with. From the Hollywood Reporter:

Of particular importance to Hollywood will be the future of Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which had very recently begun shooting. After dealing with the shock of losing Ledger to unfortunate circumstances, the film’s producers and lawyers will have to consult with their production lawyers and the insurance firm that indemnified the film to decide whether to recast, restage and/or rewrite the film to work around Ledger’s absence, or whether Ledger’s death presents an irresolvable barrier to completion of the film.

More analysis, including discussion of insurance recovery issues, over here.
3. Funeral protestors. Exact funeral plans for Heath Ledger are not yet known. But when it does happen, it could get ugly. A tipster raises a legal question:

Check out this story [about how members of the antigay Westboro Baptist Church plan to protest at Heath Ledger's funeral, because of his work in "Brokeback Mountain"].

Here’s my question. These [SOBs] are saying horrible, offensive, disgusting things. When does the fighting words doctrine come into play, and does the fighting words doctrine protect me if I punch out one of these bastards? Because I would really like to.

Feel free to opine in the comments.
Update: More about that Jesus seminar, from the WSJ Law Blog.
Heath Ledger’s Death Leaves Big Legal Question [THR, ESQ. / Hollywood Reporter]
Anti-Gay Church to Protest Ledger Funeral [ABC News]
What Are They Teaching at NYU Law These Days? [Traditional Notions]
Where Were You When? [Concurring Opinions]
The Passion of the Christ: The Trial of Jesus [NYU School of Law]

Michael Haverland Philip Galanes Above the Law blog.jpgWhy do the gay lawyers land all the fabulous real estate? Just a few days after this installment of Lawyerly Lairs, profiling the palatial pads of two same-sex couples, we learn of a third such couple living large in New York.
A reader sums it up nicely: “This seems right up our alley for Lawyerly Lairs: Manhattan / East Hampton real estate, Yale Law alum (then Paul Weiss before going in-house), Ivy League pedigree on both sides of the same-sex partnership, and shout-outs by the New York Times.”
Indeed it is. Read about the charmed life of architect Michael Haverland and lawyer-turned novelist Philip Galanes, follow their successful adventures in NYC real estate (and furniture collecting), and ogle photos of their luxurious Upper East Side and East Hampton homes, in this NYT article.
Starting Over, and Over, and Over [New York Times]
Philip Galanes biography [galaneshaverland.com]
Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Gay Gotham Edition

455 Central Park West 455 CPW Above the Law blog.jpgIn Chicago, gay lawyers get to attend exclusive parties. In New York, they enjoy a finer prize: luxury real estate.

The law schools of Columbia and NYU have been battling over faculty superstars for several years. And now NYU is bringing out the heavy artillery: multimillion-dollar condo purchases. From the New York Times:

Columbia University, in a never-ending search for a larger campus, has long had an outpost for faculty housing at 455 Central Park West — 53 apartments in an 26-story tower attached to the French Renaissance chateau at West 106th Street.

So it was something of a surprise when a foundation associated with New York University bought a large condominium in the complex. The unit, which cost $5.2 million, is built into one of the huge turrets of the chateau…. The duplex apartment has a round living and dining room with 37-foot high ceilings and Central Park views, along with three more conventional bedrooms.

Sounds fabulous! Who gets to inhabit this fabulous pad?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Gay Gotham Edition”

Kirkland Ellis LLP gay party GLBT LGBT Above the Law blog.jpgWhy was Cinderella stuck in the office doing document review, while her wicked stepsisters nibbled on caviar and danced the night away?
Maybe Cinderella worked at Kirkland & Ellis, and her sisters were of the Sapphic persuasion. From a K&E tipster:

The Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis hosted a “GLBT only” party last night. The email invitation is below.

It’s illegal under Illinois law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace. But they shouldn’t be expected to know that as attorneys, should they?

Here’s the invite:

The GLBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee cordially invites All Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Attorneys and Staff to a Winter Cocktail and Hors d’Ouevres Reception Today, Thursday, January 17, 2008 Sidebar Grille.

221 N. LaSalle
Chicago
5:00 P.M. — 7:00 P.M.

Truth be told, we aren’t deeply troubled. Regardless of their technical status under the law, events for lawyers who share common interests happen all the time.
So lighten up, Mr. Tipster! You probably wouldn’t have liked the music anyway — or, for that matter, being ogled by those twinks from IT. And you definitely wouldn’t have appreciated being hit upon by that bear from Duplicating.
As a certain ATL commenter might say, “Guys in my high school used to throw special gay parties all the time. They called it Drama Club. It was no big deal.”
P.S. A more serious issue is presented by K&E’s summer associate diversity fellowship, previously discussed by Professor David Bernstein over at the Volokh Conspiracy.
Diversity Fellowship Program [Kirkland & Ellis]
Illegal Fellowship at Kirkland & Ellis? [Volokh Conspiracy]

rectum redacted anal sex anus prostate gland Above the Law blog.JPGA case going to trial next month raises some, er, probing questions. From the NYT’s City Room:

Under what circumstances can a patient in an emergency room be forced to submit to a procedure that doctors deem to be medically necessary? That question — and the notion of informed consent — is at the heart of a civil case that is about to go to trial next month in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Brian Persaud, a 38-year-old construction worker who lives in Brooklyn, asserts that he was forced to undergo a rectal examination after sustaining a head injury in an on-the-job accident at a Midtown construction site on May 20, 2003. Mr. Persaud was taken to the emergency room at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he received eight stitches to his head.

According to a lawsuit he later filed, Mr. Persaud was then told that he needed an immediate rectal examination to determine whether he had a spinal-cord injury. He adamantly objected to the procedure, he said, but was held down as he begged, “Please don’t do that.”

C’mon, Brian. Why not have a more open mind (among other things)? Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

As Mr. Persaud resisted, he freed one of his hands and struck a doctor, according to the suit. Then he was sedated, the suit says, with a breathing tube inserted through his mouth.

After Mr. Persaud regained consciousness, he was arrested, then taken — still in his hospital gown — to be booked on a misdemeanor assault charge. Gerrard M. Marrone, who was Mr. Persaud’s lawyer, got the criminal charges dropped, then helped Mr. Persaud file a civil lawsuit against the hospital.

For more discussion — including additional facts about the case, legal discussion, and comment from the hospital — check out the full post, by the indefatigable Sewell Chan.
Update: More about involuntary rectal exams from Slate (via WSJ Law Blog).
Forced Rectal Exam Stirs Ethics Questions [City Room / New York Times]
But I Don’t Want a Rectal Exam! [Slate]

Remember Stephen Dunne, the aspiring attorney who brought suit after failing the Massachusetts bar exam, blaming it on a question about gay marriage? Well, he’s sorry. From the Boston Herald:

Stephen Dunne said he was “embarrassed” for being an “instrument of bigotry and prejudice,” in a letter to the editor and interview in the Jan. 3 edition of Bay Windows, a Boston newspaper serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered readers.

“By filing a misguided federal lawsuit . . . in respect to the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, I have regrettably perpetuated intolerance and animosity towards my fellow Americans,” Dunne said in his letter. “My religiously based discrimination of gay people was callous and diametrically opposed to America’s core principles of freedom and equality.”

Dunne filed a federal lawsuit in June against the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners and Supreme Judicial Court, seeking to prohibit the gay marriage question from being used to compute his bar exam score and from being included on future exams. He argued that answering the “patently offensive and morally repugnant” question, which involved a married lesbian couple who was divorcing, would imply his support of gay marriage and parenting, in violation of his Irish Catholic beliefs and First Amendment rights. He also challenged the constitutionality of the SJC’s 2003 ruling under which Massachusetts became the nation’s first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

So what brought about his change of heart? Does Stephen Dunne have a boyfriend now?
P.S. Speaking of matters gay, we thank Professor Ann Althouse for linking to our personal blog in this post, about Senatrix Clinton as a gay icon.
Update: Additional discussion, including a link to a Q-and-A with Steve Dunne, over at Legal Blog Watch.
Failed bar exam-taker apologizes to gays [Boston Herald]
Law Grad to Gays: ‘I Apologize’ [Legal Blog Watch]
“Hillary Clinton As A Gay Icon.” [Althouse]

New York Observer logo small Above the Law blog.jpgIn our column for this week’s New York Observer, we help you plan an imaginary dinner party. A dinner party, of course, is only as good as the guest list. So we review which colorful characters of the legal world, who made headlines in 2007, should be invited to your festivities.
Think of it as a “year in review” piece, aimed primarily at people who don’t read ATL (since most of the names mentioned in the article will be familiar to regular visitors to this site). The potential guests under consideration: Charlene Morisseau, the sassy ex-associate who sued DLA Piper; Aaron Charney, who made S&C “bend over”; and internet celebrity Loyola 2L.
ATL bonus content: Due to space considerations, our write-up of Elana Glatt (née Elana Elbogen) wound up on the cutting room floor. But if you’d like to read it, we’ve reprinted it after the jump.
Culture of Complaint Spreads Through Law Firms [New York Observer]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?”

Richard Scruggs 2 Dick Scruggs Dickie Scruggs Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday the FBI executed a search warrant on the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, Mississippi — the shop of high-flying plaintiffs’ lawyer Dickie Scruggs. It wasn’t immediately clear what investigation the search was related to. Here’s some commentary on the situation that we enjoyed, from David Rossmiller (in brackets, following excerpt from news article):

“This is a surprise to everybody connected to the Scruggs Firm,” [lawyer Joey] Langston said, “but I’ve got to tell you people who are very high profile and very successful have to contend with unpleasantries and this is unpleasant, but we’ll contend with it.”

[I like the touch of noblesse oblige here -- as if the FBI descending on one's place of business is the same as, say, getting heckled by drunken lumpenproletariat while showing up in top hat and tails to receive an award for charitable giving.]

suitcase briefcase cash money Above the Law blog.jpgNow we have a better idea of what the office search was probably about. From the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger:

Multimillionaire trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs has been indicted on charges of conspiring to bribe a judge in the case involving $26.5-million in attorney fees involving Katrina claims….

According to the indictment, Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey cooperated with the FBI in the investigation after reporting a bribery overture to authorities.

According to the indictment, Scruggs and others tried to influence Lackey by giving him $40,000 in cash to resolve the attorney fees’ dispute in favor of Scruggs’ law firm. Some of the conversations between Balducci and Lackey were captured on tape.

An interesting observation, from the WSJ Law Blog:

Down in Mississippi, there has been speculation of a connection between the FBI search warrant and this week’s surprise resignation of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Scruggs’s brother-in-law. Lott’s office told the Sun Herald the two events were but a mere coincidence.

Because, you know, it’s so much better to have people think you stepped down because of a gay sex scandal, as opposed to your brother-in-law’s indictment.
(For the record, the rumors about Sen. Lott and the gay sex scandal appear to be unfounded. See HuffPo and Wonkette — two sites that would, of course, love for the rumors to be true.)
Scruggs arrested on bribery charges [Clarion-Ledger]
More on FBI search of Scruggs’ law offices [Insurance Coverage Law Blog]
Dickie Scruggs Indicted On Federal Bribery Charges [WSJ Law Blog]

Eric Krautheimer 2 Eric M Krautheimer Aaron Charney Sullivan & Cromwell Above the Law blog.jpgBefore Thanksgiving, we put up an open thread devoted to discussion of the California bar exam. We’re surprised that nobody mentioned this interesting tidbit of news (which we learned about from a tipster via email):

High-powered Sullivan & Cromwell partner Eric Krautheimer, the alleged tormentor of gay associate Aaron Charney, took and passed the July 2007 California bar exam.

Congratulations, Mr. Krautheimer!
Back in April, at the height of the Aaron Charney controversy, it was rumored that Krautheimer was going to be transferred to S&C’s Los Angeles office. Some speculated that it was to remove him from the New York office, where Brokeback Lawfirm all went down. But if Krautheimer’s move to the West Coast is still going forward, despite the settlement of the Charney lawsuit, we’re guessing Krautheimer has his own personal reasons for wanting to move to L.A.
On our earlier post about the move rumors, a commenter called S&C LA wrote: “No truth to this at all. Sorry, this rumor is just that and nothing more.” Presumably this commenter thinks that Eric Krautheimer — a leading M&A lawyer, and a partner making millions of dollars a year, at one of the nation’s top corporate law firms — took California’s three-day bar exam just for fun.
It must have been strange for a veteran lawyer, almost 15 years out of law school, to be taking the bar next to newly minted law school graduates — including 18-year-old Kathleen Holtz. But then again, former Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan did it — twice.
On the S&C website, Eric Krautheimer is still listed as based in New York. But expect to see him in L.A. sometime soon, now that he’s a member of the California bar.
P.S. On the S&C website, the link to Eric Krautheimer’s bio was moved from here to here. Was the firm trying to render all of ATL’s links to his bio obsolete? If so, nice try — but nothing that a site-wide “Find and Replace” can’t fix.
July 2007 California Bar Examination Pass List [State Bar of California]
Earlier: Brokeback Lawfirm: Is Eric Krautheimer Headed for Hollywood?

Aaron Charney solo firm headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Above the Law ATL.JPGSo just how large was the settlement in Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell? Professor Scott Moss argued it was probably modest, while Professor Art Leonard believed it to be more substantial.
Here’s some evidence in favor of a larger settlement:

On Saturday at around 5 p.m., I spotted Aaron Charney in a cafe, in the bucolic town of Cold Spring, New York. I would have gone up and talked to him, but I realized who he was too late.

He was dressed in preppy fall wear, very J. Crew, with a wool hat. He was with two friends, and he was joking with them. He looked happy.

Well, how happy? Was it a $500,000 kind of happy, or a $2 million kind of happy?
Earlier: Just How Far Did S&C ‘Bend Over’ for Aaron Charney?

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