Legal Ethics

Professional responsibility dictates that lawyers conduct themselves with civility. Litigating can raise tempers and when stress and irritation intersect with childish lawyers, the whole “civility” thing doesn’t always work out.

When it doesn’t work out in spectacular fashion, we get public filings replete with frenetic ALL CAPS and schoolyard name-calling. And when it really blows up someone forgets about the “Reply to All” button and all hell really breaks loose.

Maybe this is what happens when psychopaths become lawyers.[1]

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* Tim Tebow’s trademark will become invalid if “Tebowing” is not used in commerce. That might suck for him, but right about now Tim Tebow should be more concerned about whether “Tim Tebow” is going to be used in commerce. [The Official Review]

* Law school groups take to Facebook to advertise a panel on medical marijuana. A drug dealer litters the page with ads for drugs. Hilarity ensues. [Facebook]

* The Honorable Felicia Mennin may not understand time, but she does realize that “wearing jeans and a pea coat” does not a street walker make. [Jezebel]

* The mind behind Courtoons has a new iPhone App that lets you violently destroy the obnoxious 3 a.m. email from that partner. [iPhone JD]

* There’s a Philadelphia-based Instagram account, rats215, that posts witness statements to grand juries as an “anti-snitching” measure. This will end well. [Gawker]

* Dude who can set his water on fire is getting sued for defamation by… the people who made his water flammable. [Nation of Change]

* We’ve written before about Judge Ken Anderson and his career as a prosecutor where he just put innocent people in jail. Well now he’s going to jail. [Huffington Post]

* The on-going Wyoming Law scandal got heated when Dean Easton showed up to a Town Hall meeting to call out University President Bob Sternberg. [Wyoming Star-Tribune]

* Always wanted to join the mile high club? Now you can just buy your way in by booking a trip on a sex plane. The seats are… actually just about as clean as standard airline seats. [Vocativ]

* State suspends a lawyer for not having an email address because how can you practice law without sifting through hundreds of requests from Nigerian princes? [IT-Lex]

* Kids steal a llama and hit the town. The kids got arrested. They should argue that they needed a therapy llama. [Kotaku]

* Is the decline in law school applications due to high-profile preaching or students responding to the market? [PrawfsBlawg]

* Texans are pushing to require justices of the peace to be licensed to practice law. That’s one new job out there for any out of work Texas attorneys! [San Antonio Express-News]

* The Supreme Court reaffirms that pretty much no conduct rises to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel. Defense counsel consider this a sad day for justice, but look on the bright side: your permanent vacation starts now! [The Atlantic]

* A new web series about lawyers trying to run a firm. They’re doing just about as a good a job as Dewey. [Lawyers The Web Series]

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* The NSA protests that its spying on foreign leaders was entirely legal. In defense of the NSA, this latest uproar seems misplaced. Warrantless spying on Americans is illegal, but spying on foreign governments is kind of the whole point of the NSA. [Associated Press]

* Judge James Bredar has laid out his thoughts on how sentencing judges should deal with the changing legal landscape surrounding marijuana. This is important because those dumb Guidelines still recommend an enhancement for taking One Toke Over the Line. [Sentencing Law & Policy]

* Should a plagiarizing journalist be allowed to join the ranks of licensed attorneys? Con: His crime suggests low moral character. Pro: He’s going to be a master of boilerplate. [Juice, Justice & Corgis]

* Jones Day is representing pro bono a number of Catholic institutions ticked off that they might have to buy insurance that their workers might, at some point, maybe use to buy birth control pills. It’s a tremendous intrusion upon religious liberty that Catholic institutions routinely did before they decided to make a political spectacle out of it. [National Law Journal]

* A speech to Harvard Law alums about the slow death of free speech at Harvard. By “slow death of free speech” the speaker details how a private, non-governmental institution decided not to tolerate jackassery, but whatever. [Minding the Campus via The Volokh Conspiracy]

* It’s still several months until the ATL Law Revue competition. So to keep you entertained until then, check out this parody of Lorde’s Royals performed by some law students. It looks like it’s the same geniuses from Auckland Law School behind the Blurred Lines parody. Do the Kiwis have time to do actual law school stuff? Video embedded after the jump… [Legal Cheek]

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* Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has joined Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in being one of the only justices to perform a same-sex marriage. No divas here: the wedding ceremony was held at the high court because “[t]hat’s where she was.” [BuzzFeed]

* “Proceed with caution.” David Kappos, the former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, isn’t too keen on the latest patent reform bill that’s currently before the House Judiciary Committee. If only the man still had a say. [National Law Journal]

* Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge have released a joint statement to ensure the public that the proposed merger is still on. Good news, everyone! The firm won’t be named McDentons. [Am Law Daily]

* Ralph Lerner, formerly of Sidley Austin, has been slapped on the wrist suspended from practice in New York for one year’s time after improperly billing car service to clients to the tune of $50,000. [Am Law Daily]

* It’s been a year since Superstorm Sandy, and lawyers are still counseling their clients on how to muddle through the mess. Volunteer some pro bono hours and help out those in need. [New York Law Journal]

* After threatening to cut faculty positions, New England Law Dean John O’Brien is taking a 25 percent pay cut. He’ll only earn $650,000. Wow. I think we’re supposed to be impressed. [Boston Business Journal]

* Career alternatives for attorneys: rescuer of nerd relics. Head to this Brooklyn book store (of course it’s in Brooklyn) if you’re desperately seeking long lost science fiction tales. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* We bet that folks in Australia would like to tell the the High Court to bugger off after overturning this ruling. Sexual injuries that occur during work-related trips don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. [Bloomberg]

Oh, the hilarity that is the phrase “criminal justice system.” Talk to any defense attorney andthey’ll tell you how the deck is stacked against defendants and defense lawyers. The ideal of “innocent until proven guilty” has become little more than a disclaimer tacked onto cop-centered reality shows. Defendants are guilty until the jury is somehow tricked by the defense into handing down a “not guilty” verdict. A lot of effort goes towards dissuading defendants from even making it this far, as prosecutors will present worst-case scenarios comprised of every violation conceivable in order to get an agreement to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

The prevailing perception that the person charged is guilty, with the only answer yet to be determined is how guilty, makes defending arrestees an uphill battle. Judge (former judge) Elizabeth Coker took this uphill battle, increased the grade to 85 degrees, covered it with a sheet of ice and sprinkled it with a 50/50 blend of Teflon and motor oil.

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This isn’t the first time someone has accused Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy of misconduct. Levy, the son of television jurist Judge Judy, has already filed suit against the local sheriff for such accusations. But the latest allegations suggest that Levy played an even bigger role than previously thought in helping his friend beat rape charges.

The defendant’s jilted former lawyer has come forward with his take on Levy’s role in the case and the revelations have one ethics expert musing that Levy could be in a lot of trouble.

I guess we can characterize all this as “don’t pee on my leg and tell me you’re not really bending over backward to help an accused rapist…”

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So at some schools, Student Bar Association (SBA) funds get used for more than open bars and law school courtyard keg parties. One school in particular is conducting an audit to determine if SBA officials took school and student funds for personal use — up to and including trips, jewelry from Tiffany’s, and the single most ironic purchase of all time.

Hard to believe, since student government types are always such goody two-shoe résumé padders. Nice, service-minded people who just want to make the law school community a friendlier place. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, non-existent power should corrupt not at all. At least that’s the theory.

So what law school boasts SBA officials who might be breaking bad?

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She holds you in contempt.

Congratulations to Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler. The voters have spoken, and he is our latest Lawyer of the Day. Maybe this honor will help Doug Gansler close the gap in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.

We enjoyed the process so much last time that we’re going to do it again. We’ll give you three nominees, identify the arguments for or against Lawyer of the Day status, and let you vote for your favorite.

Our latest slate raises this question: what’s worse, criminal or crazy?

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When this lawyer took to the pages of a local industry mag to dispense general advice about depositions, she probably figured she was tossing out some non-controversial observations and maybe boosting her own profile. Hopefully it could drum up some business.

She probably didn’t count on kicking over a hornet’s nest of fellow lawyers, who ripped her advice and went so far as to accuse her of violating local ethics rules.

Hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

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