Legal Ethics

It seems there is an interesting emerging trend in litigation these days: When a ruling doesn’t go your way, just make an appeal alleging judicial conflict of interest.

Same-sex marriage opponents wanted California judge Vaughn Walker to recuse himself from Prop. 8 hearings because he is gay. If and when the Supreme Court decides to rule on Obama’s healthcare law, some people have called for Clarence Thomas to recuse himself because of his wife’s outspoken work to repeal the act.

And yesterday, an Illinois woman convicted of child battery lost her appeal for a new trial. She appealed on the basis that the judge in her case’s adult children are Facebook friends with her alleged victim’s family….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “If You Are a Judge, Do Your Facebook Friends Matter?”

Last week, we mentioned in Non-Sequiturs that the results for the November administration of the MPRE had been released. While most were elated with their scores, others had a serious case of the WTFs (i.e., “WTF, how did I fail this stupid multiple-choice test?!”). If you’re a member of the latter camp, you might be wondering what you can do to get a passing score for your state.

Worry not, law students, because we’ve got a solution for you. Enter the People of Channel 38 — three recent law school graduates who will school you on all things related to legal ethics in musical form. With their help, maybe you’ll pass the test next time. The fifth time is the charm, right?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “So You Failed the MPRE… Now What?”

Tamara Tanzillo

Yesterday, we brought you the titillating tale of Tamara Tanzillo. In case you haven’t been following along, Tanzillo, an Illinois attorney, has been accused of a number of racy, ethical transgressions, all of which were detailed in our prior coverage.

Attorneys with breast implants and alleged exhibitionist tendencies are apparently the key to success in the law blogging world, because the story went viral. Readers have requested more information about our favorite Boss Lady, and we are more than happy to oblige.

Read on to get all of the details about this fiery, legal redhead — including her bra size….

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Not Tamara Tanzillo (her pic is after the jump).

Here at Above the Law, we write all the time about lawyers who have allegedly committed misconduct. And when some of these lawyers go off the deep end, you just feel bad for them. You want to give those poor souls a hug.

But when the rest of these lawyers decide to let their freak flags fly, you feel the urge to instantaneously friend them on Facebook. Instead of a hug, you’d like to buy them a beer, or better yet, a shot.

For example, take the case of Tamara Tanzillo. Back in 2009, she was fired from her job with the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services for engaging in “arguably decadent personal behavior.”

But what does that mean? Let’s find out — and have a look at the rather attractive Tanzillo, too….

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Judge Matz

[T]his Court is compelled to find that the Government team allowed a key FBI agent to testify untruthfully before the grand jury, inserted material falsehoods into affidavits submitted to magistrate judges in support of applications for search warrants and seizure warrants, improperly reviewed e-mail communications between one Defendant and her lawyer, recklessly failed to comply with its discovery obligations, posed questions to certain witnesses in violation of the Court’s rulings, engaged in questionable behavior during closing argument and even made misrepresentations to the Court.

– Judge A. Howard Matz of the Central District of California, benchslapping federal prosecutors — and vacating the convictions, and dismissing the indictment — in a high-profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution. (Gavel bang: Daniel Fisher.)

(Additional links and information about this case — if you do FCPA or white-collar criminal work, this may be of interest to you — after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: What Not To Do If You’re A Prosecutor”

When you are representing someone you have love and affection for, you’re going to work twice as hard and there’s no question about it. It is not a detriment to the relationship. My advice to a woman going through a divorce is, find a competent trial lawyer and make him your boyfriend.

Zenas Zelotes, a bankruptcy attorney, giving reported testimony to the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee about his “intimate” client relationships. Needless to say, the Committee recommended disciplinary action. Zelotes is appealing the decision.

'She was just asking me for directions, officer.'

* Three days after arguing that an alleged Sandusky victim’s lawsuit lacked any factual basis, Second Mile decided to settle. Better strike while the iron is hot (and the wallet is open), lawyers. [Bloomberg]

* So much for that “real shot,” huh? After a failed bid for bail, Galleon Group’s Raj Rajaratnam will begin serving the longest insider trading sentence ever come Monday. [DealBook / New York Times]

* A memo to all Biglaw bachelors: if your game is anything like that of Kenneth Kratz’s, then it’s not just ethics boards who will think you have an “offensive personality.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

* In Tampa, purchasers of prostitutes’ services will now have their cars impounded. Good thing Miami isn’t adopting this law, eh, Professor Jones? (Allegedly, of course.) [St. Petersburg Times]

* Law school is really tough, so the GMU Law administration has some advice for you: the best way to avoid becoming an alcoholic basket case is to play with cuddly puppies. [Washington Post]

Now THIS is a legal ad.

It’s easy to forget that lawyering is a business that requires a significant amount of advertising. Lawyers offer a service, and as many unemployed attorneys know, the profession includes lots of people doing essentially the same work. You have to find your customers to make it rain.

For more and more attorneys, blogging has become one part of an overall marketing strategy. Is law blogging always advertising? The Virginia State Bar seems to think so. Last month, it disciplined a small-firm attorney for not providing adequate advertising disclaimers on his blog.

Is the Bar, as Judge Richard Posner likes to say, being an ostrich? Is it sticking its head in the sand and ignoring the current technological paradigm — or is there a legitimate ethics concern here? Let’s see….

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Sorry to disappoint the snake-oil salesmen, but in this small post I will buck the trend, and debunk the fallacy of non-practicing lawyers who write books about social media for lawyers. Here, today my friends, I will tell you everything you need to know about the complicated and scary topic of: how to talk to people on the internet like a normal person.

Facebook

If you think Facebook is code for “high school,” you’re correct. But if you live in the same town you went to high school, why not connect with your loser friends who have some mid-level job? They need lawyers. Yes, as part of reconnecting with your past you’ll experience the joy of seeing that girl you wanted to date has moved to some small crap town and married Jim, who’s prematurely bald but “an awesome husband,” but so what?

Do not post every single picture you take of your kids, dogs, in-laws with your kids, kids with your dogs, the 189 pictures of your vacation, or “fake” complain about the first class service on some airline. You’re practicing law, not creating a family scrapbook.

Do not have a Facebook fan page for your law firm. No one should ever be a fan of a law firm. You are not a “rock star” and even if you were, rock stars do not ask people to be their fans. It just happens with good music. Asking people to be your “fan” may also violate your state bar ethics rules, if that kind of nuisance interests you — you know, ethics rules….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: The Definitive (All You Need To Know) Guide (This Is It) To Social Media For Lawyers”

This version of her face was better.

* Grassley, if you think a letter will get the SCOTUS health care arguments on TV, then you probably think the ABA is going to do something about your letters to them, too. Aww. [Blog of Legal Times]

* When in doubt, get the f**k out. Take this expert advice from Judge Paul Hawkes: the best way to avoid an ethics hearing is to quit resign from your job. [Palm Beach Post]

* Mmm, “law school porn.” So thick, so long, so… stupid. Just think of all of the other bigger and better things that law schools could be spending your tuition money on. [National Law Journal]

* And in real porn news, a litigant says that Jenna Jameson is “possessed.” But was he talking about her case, or the evil plastic surgery demon who did a number on her face? [Chicago Tribune]

* Gary Busey is being sued for walking under the influence at an Oklahoma airport. Applicable Buseyism? CRAP: Colliding Recklessly Against Passengers. [International Business Times]

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