Legal Ethics

Polina Polonsky

Last month, we brought you the titillating tale of Polina Polonsky, a “gorgeous brunette lawyer” who allegedly had an affair with Khloe Kardashian’s husband, NBA player Lamar Odom. Although it sounds like a Hollywood divorce train wreck in the making, sources claim Khloe and Lamar are going to stay together, even though the 6’10″ free agent is reportedly battling an addiction to crack cocaine, an odd drug of choice for a man of his wealth.

We know what you must be thinking: “Again with the Kardashian crap? Who cares if Lamar cheated on a Wookiee?” But today we think you’re going to care about the Kardashians if only because the lawyer involved in this torrid affair may have committed a serious breach of her ethical duties to clients at her firm.

What did this comely criminal defense attorney do that could have been so bad? Well, if your case didn’t go as planned, it may be because a washed-up basketball player like Lamar Odom was doing your legal work….

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* “The situation is an absolute mess.” Last summer’s SCOTUS decision on mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders has created a “legal limbo” for inmates. We hope they find suitable dance partners. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Even after you retire, you apparently still have to deal with the Cebullsh*t from your life on the bench. Former Chief District Judge Richard Cebull’s misconduct review is likely heading to Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. [Great Falls Tribune]

* Woe unto them that call unpaid work fair: the Second Circuit quickly granted Fox Searchlight an appeal in the Black Swan unpaid intern case in the hope of offering some “much-needed guidance.” [Deadline]

* Which private law schools offer students the best value? Some unlikely contenders are named on this list, and some T14 schools even make appearances. We’ll have more on this later today. [National Jurist]

* GW wasn’t the only school that grew the size of its entering class (although it was the largest increase). William & Mary and Missouri-KC saw big gains, too. Yay, more lawyers! [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* If you’re considering applying to law school, think about schools that have lowered their standards and are offering scholarship money like candy. Otherwise, here are some helpful hints. [Huffington Post]

* Henry Putzel Jr., former reporter of decisions at the Supreme Court, RIP. [Washington Post]

Nobody puts DLA Piper in a corner. It’s the world’s new highest-grossing law firm, after all.

Were DLA Piper’s revenues enhanced by alleged overbilling of clients? A former client made that claim in a lawsuit, which the parties ultimately settled (but not before some bad PR for DLA).

Now one of the lawyers who was a thorn in DLA’s side finds himself in a prickly situation of his own. He’s up against the Biglaw behemoth yet again, pursuing a high-profile case that a judge just described as “reek[ing] of fraud and malfeasance”….

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‘Want my cookies?’

[W]hat else would [Edward Bunstine] be wanting to do, having me come to my door naked?

Ashley Holdren, a client who refused to oblige what she perceived to be her lawyer Ed Bunstine’s inappropriate suggestion for an alternative fee arrangement. Bunstine’s license to practice law was suspended for one year, six months stayed, for attempting to solicit sexual activity with a client.

(Keep reading to see some of Bunstine’s more interesting defenses to the ethics charges filed against him by the Ohio Disciplinary Counsel.)

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The eyes of the law in Idaho.

* If Biglaw firms wants to get back into a financial sweet spot like in their days of yore, they had better get in on these billion-dollar international arbitrations while the getting is good. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Women lawyers, please take note: your future depends on it. Apparently the key to making partner in Biglaw is to get the backing of general counsel at big money corporate clients as a gender. [Corporate Counsel]

* ¡Ay dios mío! ¡Escándalo! Holland & Knight yoinked 10 attorneys, including three partners, right out from under Chadbourne & Parke’s nose to open up its new Mexico City office. [South Florida Business Journal]

* “If we actually got another million dollars going forward to spend on something, is the highest and best use to produce attorneys?” Even in a flyover state like Idaho, the answer to that question is a resounding yes when it comes to law school expansion. [Spokesman-Review]

* “A jurisprudence of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ does not properly safeguard [a defendant's rights].” California Justice Goodwin Liu is raging against policies on race-based peremptory jury challenges. [The Recorder]

* “I’ve been doing Paula Deen in a strongly metaphorical sense.” The magnate of marmalade’s case may be settled, but that doesn’t mean sanctions have been taken off the table. [Courthouse News Service]

* The hefty price of killing? Following his acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is now asking Florida to pay for his legal expenses, to the tune of $200,000 – $300,000. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Should Eliot Spitzer have faced harsher sanctions for pounding hookers? It’s a pretty interesting question that we can all ponder for the next four years after Spitzer demolishes Scott Stringer in the Comptroller race. [Wise Law]

* Homeowners were forced to pay hundreds in legal charges for lawsuits that don’t really exist. Stay classy foreclosure practices. [Overlawyered]

* Blackacre: The Poem. [Poetic Justice]

* The New York State Bar says lawyers have a reasonable expectation of privacy if they use Gmail. Google disagrees. [3 Geeks and a Law Blog]

* A round-up of law school officials facing discipline for deceitful advertising. Take note deans. [TaxProf Blog]

* A woman is indicted for taking her 13-year-old daughter to get an abortion. And it’s not even Alabama. [Wild About Trial]

* Lawyer and witness repeatedly flip each other off during cross. Video after the jump…

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Midwesterners may represent the most wholesome portion of our population, but their lawyerly brethren have allowed their libidos to get the better of them.

Take Kenneth Kratz, the sexting district attorney from Wisconsin who once notably told one of his victims, “You may be the tall, young, hot nymph, but I am the prize!” Another fine example is Reema Bajaj, a young solo practitioner in Illinois who pleaded guilty to engaging in prostitution (and was also accused of trading sex for office supplies).

Now we’re hearing about a public defender who was allegedly unable to keep it in his pants. Coles County Public Defender Lonnie Lutz held his position for 33 years before retiring in June. In the final years of his service as PD, he allegedly took advantage of the attorney-client relationship by repeatedly sexually harassing and fondling his female clients, but not all of them — “only the special ones.” The sweet nothings Lutz allegedly whispered to his “special” clients are quite… graphic in nature.

Is Lonnie Lutz just a horny old man? Let’s find out…

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* Chris Brown might buy his lawyer Mark Geragos a Lamborghini. Brown is quite an automotive expert. The upswinging doors make it sooo much easier to throw a girlfriend out of. [TMZ]

* Politics is all about figurative whoring, but a county board has dumped its lawyer for soliciting a crack whore. Actually, maybe politics is literal whoring. [Badger Pundit]

* Gourmand’s Grater, the kitchen product created by a former lawyer we mentioned a couple weeks ago, has opened its crowdfunding campaign. [Indie GoGo]

* Finnegan is ditching its Belgium office and moving to London. How can a firm turn its back on a city classy enough to have a urinating child as a symbol? [The Lawyer]

*Access online today’s nude dancing decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. And you’re interested because this is the audience that went crazy for a post about a Playmate from 1994. [How Appealing]

* Did you fall for the new U.S. News rankings? Silly readers. Paul Campos breaks down exactly how Rutgers-Newark gamed the system. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* In a New York state case, “[a] calendar call in the courthouse would require the clerk to shout out ‘JesusIsLord ChristIsKing’ or ‘Rejoice ChristIsKing.’” See, now THAT is a name that’s sacrilegious — not having a baby named Messiah. [NY Times]

* Yet another reason students should steer clear of law school: most of them have no critical thinking or argumentation skills. [Huffington Post]

* We’ve mentioned NYU Law grad and former S.D.N.Y. clerk Eli Northrup and his band Pants Velour before. Now they have a new jingle for Dial 7 car service. Check it out after the jump….

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There are a lot of prickly judges in the world. You can’t really blame someone who reached the pinnacle of their professional career for being insufferable to everyone else. Actually, you can blame someone for doing so, because success is not actually a license to be a prick.

That said, in the annals of judges, luckily, few have to deal with judges who insult and even threaten lawyers while openly undermining the constitutionally guaranteed rights of defendants in the courtroom. That sounds like the worst judge for a lawyer to practice in front of ever. (Well, maybe not the worst judge for a lawyer to practice in front of ever.)

In any event, the thankfully retired judge at the center of this tale left an ample record of his judicial shortcomings. As sanctioned by the state judicial conduct committee, this guy is a true embarrassment to his robes, and darned if he didn’t leave us a legacy complete with video.

And he’s not even a bit sorry for his actions…

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Martin Lipton?

* Former SCOTUS clerks earn more money for having clerked at the high court than SCOTUS justices earn for their yearly salaries. Consider how ridiculous that is. [The Economist]

* As it turns out, the National Security Agency oversteps its legal authority thousands of times each year, but that’s only because it’s a “human-run agency.” [Washington Post]

* Federal judges have come together to bemoan sequestration. “We do not have projects or programs to cut; we only have people.” Eep! Don’t give them any ideas. [National Law Journal]

* Ready, set, lawgasm! The comment period for proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure opened up yesterday, and yet again, e-discovery rules are on the table for debate. [Forbes]

* NYU professors want Martin Lipton to step down from the school’s board of trustees, but the Wachtell Lipton founding partner has had a honey badger-esque response — he don’t give a s**t. [Am Law Daily]

* As was widely expected, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s army of New York City lawyers will soon take the first step to appeal Judge Shira Scheindlin’s stop-and-frisk ruling. [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* A West Virginia judge was federally indicted for attempting to frame his secretary’s husband with drug charges. Did we mention that the secretary is the judge’s ex-lover? Quite dramatic. [Charleston Gazette]

* Consortium: Not just for straight couples. A same-sex couple in Pennsylvania is trying to appeal the dismissal of a loss of consortium claim in light of the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Christian Gerhartsreiter, aka poseur heir Clark Rockefeller, was just sentenced to 27 years to life in prison in a California cold-case murder. Maybe Lifetime will make a sequel to that god-awful movie. [Toronto Star]

* Jacques Vergès, defender of notorious villains and perpetual devil’s advocate, RIP. [New York Times]

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