Hurricane Katrina

Happy Halloween! Unless you live in New Jersey.

Based here in New York, I’ve spent the last several days watching the news while drinking copious amounts of whisky (klassy hurricane tip: pour the whisky directly into the can of coke — it saves washing a glass later if you’re worried about losing water!). The stream of images showing devastated areas is truly horrifying.

Thankfully my bunker of an apartment survived unscathed, but that did not excuse me from my own share of post-traumatic stress. But in my case it was seeing a number of lawyers-turned-politicians parading across the news channels displaying their own law firm certified brand of crisis management and triggering flashbacks to my years in private practice.

When we suffer the zombie apocalypse (which could happen as early as next Tuesday) or any other movie-level disaster, if we continue to place executive power in the hands of lawyers, we’re all screwed….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Lawyers Would Botch The Zombie Apocalypse”

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]

katrina.jpg
This week marked the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The news has been full of reports about the status of the affected areas, particularly New Orleans, two years later. Most of them have not been good; here are a few examples:
“Bitterness lingers 2 years after Katrina” [AP via Yahoo!]
“Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast Struggling 2 years later” [CNN]
“Hope, skepticism mark Katrina anniversary” [USA Today]
But this is a legal blog, and so we want to know specifically about the state of the legal community in New Orleans two years post-Katrina. Immediately following the hurricane, the New Orleans legal system was “devastated.” Has it recovered?
We’d like to hear from associates in New Orleans about their current experiences. Are the courts up and running? What is the backlog like? What about associate pay; is it back to normal?
And this has little to do with biglaw, but when is New Orleans going to get a handle on the murder situation?
Share your perspectives on the state of the New Orleans legal community in the comments.

* No do-over for Vonage. [c|net via How Appealing]
* Legislature approves $5 million settlement in Florida boot camp death case. [CNN]
* Katrina wrongful death claims blown away by judge. [Jurist]
* Reno trial lawyer faces his own trial. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* Fen-Phen plaintiffs have a horse in Saturday’s race. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Jury selection begins in Atlanta courthouse shooting case. [Fulton County Daily Report ]
* Jury rocks State Farm like a hurricane (complete with both wind and storm surge damage), awards $2.5 million in punitive damages. [CNN]
* Houses passes stem cell bill; President promises a veto. [Jurist]
* Second rule of Fight Club: Don’t film Fight Club and sell copies on the internet. [FindLaw]
* You Kidds play nice.[ABC]

* I think I may be the only New Yorker who regularly watches local channel NY1 — I just can’t get enough of Pat Kiernan’s deadpan delivery, especially of the more frivolous items. What would he say (and too bad he can’t) about this doctored photo of his colleague “BBB”? [New York Post via Gothamist]
* Because monkeys are people too. [AP via Yahoo! News]
* The lesson learned is to move if you live near a dam. (I am amazed at my restraint in the face of such a punnable word, but hey, this is pretty serious.) [New Orleans City Business via Ernie the Attorney]
* Anyone who hasn’t been ripped on in cyberspace is either in a coma or hasn’t come out of his Y2K bomb shelter. I bet these guys would love to be able to claim a cause of action. [Findlaw]

* Senate approves broad new rules to try detainees. [New York Times; Bashman linkwrap]
* Senate House grandstands over Hewlett-Packard as most witnesses take Fifth; libertarians celebrate that time wasted is time not spent passing new appropriations. [New York Times; WaPo]
* Verizon Wireless piles on against H-P. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Observers suggest Supreme Court cases over abortion might be contentious. You think? [Legal Times]
* Dozen Iraqi journalists arrested under new law against criticism of government. See? They’re already following in our footsteps up to the Alien and Sedition Acts! [New York Times]
* Belgium rules sifting of bank data illegal. [WaPo]
* California court hearing testimony over how many angels can dance on the pinhead of an anesthesized Death Row inmate. [Bashman linkwrap]
* Louisiana appellate court strikes down med-mal damages cap for failure to index to inflation, providing another excuse for doctors not to return to post-Katrina New Orleans. [Point of Law]
* New York Times writes thumbsucker on the Pirro marriage. [New York Times]

antonin scalia no girls allowed.JPG* The number of women clerking at the Supreme Court has fallen to the lowest level since 1994. It’s all Scalia’s fault. Oh wait, no it isn’t — he never hires women anyway. [New York Times]
* Former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr has asked the Supreme Court to hear the appeal of a high school that disciplined a student for displaying a banner that said “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”‘ during an off-campus Olympic torch relay. Such a killjoy, that Starr! And definitely don’t stick that doobie you-know-where… [Associated Press]
* A federal court has tossed out the retaliation claim made by Jesselyn Radack, the ex-Justice Department lawyer who advised the FBI not to question John Walker Lindh without his lawyer. [National Law Journal]
* One year after Hurricane Katrina, life is still hard for lawyers in the Big Easy. One former New Orleans attorney is now working as a short-order cook. So stop complaining about the paper cut you got doing document review. [National Law Journal]