Legal Ethics

‘Manage me, Mark O’Mara.’

Not only have I done nothing wrong in regards to how we managed the defense fund and the online presence for the Zimmerman case, but I think we also set the standard for how these matters should be handled in future high-profile cases that warrant such measures.

Mark O’Mara, former defense attorney to George Zimmerman, commenting on the Florida Bar’s ethics investigation into whether he properly managed his client’s defense fund and social media presence. O’Mara’s full statement can be seen here.

(For all of the trouble O’Mara’s going through, we wondered if the proceeds of this eBay sale for Zimmerman’s artwork would be used to pay his outstanding legal bills. Let’s find out what Zimmerman had to say about that.)

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Chief Judge Kozinski has been feisty with prosecutorial overreach lately. A couple months ago, he snarked his way through an en banc beatdown of a prosecutor who asserted facts not in the record to secure a conviction. He was no doubt hoping to give us an encore performance in a case out of Washington, but his colleagues denied the request for an en banc rehearing.

But that didn’t stop the inimitable jurist from penning a lengthy dissent from the decision leveling harsh criticism at the prosecutor for the “violence done to the Constitution.”

So is the Chief Judge just cranky or was there some real abuse here?

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It just wouldn’t be prudent to let him back into society. (Image via Sunday Mercury)

* Remember the chimps seeking habeas? Well, bad news: they’re staying in custody, per an order from Judge Ralph A. Boniello III. Now their freedom is up to the Army of the 12 Monkeys. [Wired]

* Elizabeth Coker has announced she is seeking the office of Polk County Criminal District Attorney. While some may disagree, I think this is a great idea. She’s been directing the litigation strategies of prosecutors for some time now. So why does a judge drummed out of office for texting prosecutors think she should go back into public service? Prayer. Of course. [Polk County Today]

* Judge Steven Rhodes is overseeing the Detroit bankruptcy. He’s not taking any guff off anyone, including an investment banker who pledged that it was “very important” that his firm help the city, prompting Judge Rhodes to point out, “What’s very important to you is to make money.” He’s also a badass rhythm guitarist. [Associated Press via Yahoo!]

* A Colorado judge has declared that a discriminating baker can no longer prevent gay couples from buying wedding cakes. It’s unclear if he’s ordering the baker to stock those stupid plastic cake toppers in groom & groom format. [Consumerist]

* Proofreading law school exams. This article is aimed at law students, but maybe it should be directed toward a certain St. John’s professor… [Law School Toolbox]

* George Zimmerman’s girlfriend wants him out of jail. She originally told police that Zimmerman pointed a shotgun in her face. That’s Princess Bride-level true love s**t right there. [Slate]

* Michigan State celebrated putting Ohio State in its place by setting “at least 57 fires.” Can someone holding a sign encouraging people to “Burn the Couch” be held liable? A better question is whether West Virginia can sue Michigan State for stealing their hillbilly intellectual property? [PrawfsBlawg]

* Sadly, Akerman partner Richard Sharpstein was found dead in his home today. He was 63. [Daily Business Review]

* A few tipsters sent this one in. They claim it’s a law student acting like a jerk trying to buy cigarettes in a drug store. The sound is spotty, so none of us could figure out exactly what was going on, but it’s worth it for the guy who yells: “Yeah, tell him! Tell him when you were born!” Video after the jump….

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* Good news if you’re a better golfer than your buddies: if you play in New Jersey, you’re not liable when another member of your group injures someone with an errant ball hit into the proverbial lumber yard. On the other hand, you’ll have to be in New Jersey. [The Legal Blitz]

* Hank Greenberg continues his effort to throw roadblocks in the way of the NY AG investigation into AIG. Now he’s accusing the AAG on the case of ethical lapses, which is only fair since that’s what everyone else is accusing Greenberg of. [NY Daily News]

* It’s official: Biglaw fees are unreasonable. At least by South Florida standards. [South Florida Lawyers]

* A Nevada judge was charged with misdemeanor manslaughter in the death of a bicyclist. If convicted, he could spend up to six months in jail. I’d like to imagine this would play out a lot like when Rorschach went to prison. [Associated Press]

* Congratulations to Jennifer J. Johnson on being named the new dean of Lewis & Clark. Try to avoid any censorship scandals! [Lewis & Clark]

* If you’re in NYC tomorrow evening, the New York City Bar Association is hosting a free event titled “The First Amendment in an Age of Terror” featuring Professor Jonathan Hafetz of Seton Hall University School of Law; James Goodale of Debevoise & Plimpton; Judge Robert D. Sack; Spencer Ackerman, the U.S. National Security Editor for The Guardian; and Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union. [New York City Bar Association]

* Syracuse College of Law students have an early Law Revue video for us. Strap in for a Mariah Carey parody that involves a baby getting a hatchet to the face. That sounds way darker than it really is. Video embedded below….

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Law firms certainly have an interest in protecting their reputations from all threats foreign and domestic. By domestic, of course, we mean the damage that a lawyer can cause by posting dick picks on any of the multiple social media platforms out there. Social media snafus can reveal professional lapses or dangerous biases.

And if a lawyer embarrasses themselves on the Internet, there are people with high-profile, industry-leading publications that might just write about it.

But social media policing can also degenerate into paranoid intrusions into the private lives of lawyers. One firm has a social media policy that reads like the PATRIOT Act — at least to the extent it seems to provide the firm open-ended authority to govern the social media profiles of its lawyers….

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Except, apparently, one lawyer in Iowa.

Which is worse: to be unethical or to be stupid — really, really stupid?

Who says you have to choose? That’s the lesson of today’s story about a lawyer who fell for a Nigerian inheritance scam, dragged his clients into the mess as well, and just got his law license suspended by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Dear Friend: Please permit me to make your acquaintance in so informal a manner. This is necessitated by my urgent need to reach a dependable and trust wordy partner. We do not know each other, it does not matter.

My tale will not cause discomfort or embarrassment in whatever form, except to a monumentally moronic lawyer — who got cleared on some (but not all) of the ethics charges against him because he genuinely believed that a trunk full of money was going to magically show up on his office doorstep….

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Would you believe a state supreme court justice received a $50,000 trip to Italy from a lawyer who routinely appears before the court representing major clients?

Oh, it happened. And it could be happening a lot more often than you’d think because most states make it exceedingly difficult to discover. Every now and again someone will do important work pointing out that electing judges in an era of unfettered campaign contributions poses a significant risk to judicial integrity, and everyone will cluck their tongues, stroke their beards and wonder, “What’s to be done with this state court system?” A new study goes further and looks at the financial wheelings and dealings — and the lack of oversight they receive — of judges outside of election season.

How does your state court system fare?

Spoiler alert: Badly…

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Can you name this man? He’s Obama’s Kenyan uncle. Who are we kidding, better question: Can you point to Kenya on a map?

* Alabama fan allegedly shot despicable front runners who liked the Tide and the Heat for not being distressed enough after Alabama’s loss. When reached for comment, LeBron tightened his Yankee cap and yelled Roll War Eagle Tide. [USA Today]

* A couple of Illinois lawyers got disbarred for beginning inappropriate sexual relationships. One began an affair with a teen he’d prosecuted. It’s good to see people still look up to Dan Fielding. [Legal Profession Blog]

* Obama’s Kenyan Uncle will not be deported. We need him to stay and do a job no American wants to do.. fix Healthcare.gov. [Associated Press]

* Kaplan has agreed to make a number of changes to increase access for disabled students in a settlement arising from the request of a deaf student to get a sign language interpreter. Now figuring out the bar exam will be… slightly easier. [Daily Business Review]

* White males successfully argue that they shouldn’t even have to listen to a black woman talk about race, even if she’s their professor in “communications.” [Raw Story]

* Munger Tolles brings back the former ambassador to Australia as a partner. “That’s not a cognizable claim. This is a cognizable claim.” [Law 360 (sub. req.)]

* David and Elie appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch today to talk about bonuses that they’re not getting. Video embedded after the jump…

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Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas

* What led the Senate Democrats to go nuclear? [New York Times]

* Should Justice Lori Douglas, she of the infamous porn pictures, step down from the bench? Well, she has 324,100 reasons to stay. [Toronto Star]

* And what about Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg — should they leave while the Democrats still control the White House and the Senate? [Washington Post via How Appealing]

* A legal challenge to gun control stumbles — on standing grounds. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Moral of the story: if you want to threaten opposing counsel, don’t do it over voicemail — unless you want to get censured. [ABA Journal]

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara

* Dewey want more details about the lucrative contracts given to Stephen DiCarmine and Joel Sanders? Most definitely! [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* An interesting peek inside the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The S.D.N.Y.’s boss is a big fan of the Boss. [New York Times]

* Now that the merger between US Airways and American Airlines has been approved, US Airways CEO Doug Parker offers a behind-the-scenes look at his company’s response to the government’s antitrust lawsuit. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

Everyone enjoys the law firm gone bad. Think Wolfram & Hart; Bendini, Lambert & Locke; whatever the firm was that Devil was in charge of… Cravath? All right, it was really Milton, Chadwick & Waters, but whatever. The lawyer-hating masses like to see their biases lived out in the extreme, and lawyers enjoy the competence porn of thinking a law firm can really have an evil master plan. But these firms only exist in fiction, right?

So what the hell is going on with this firm?

Accusations are flying that this law practice was massively overfilling clients, instructing clients to harass and intimidate government officials, tailing people with P.I.s to accuse folks of traffic violations, and bugging people’s cars with GPS trackers.

It’s not plotting to birth the Antichrist, but it definitely sounds like bad news…

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