* Jurors go wild… kind of. [AP via Yahoo! News]
* This could be your fate if you have sexual relations with any animal, dead or alive, regardless of law: you could be the posthumous star of a Sundance documentary. [Editor and Publisher]
* Do not think you can know go about suing the various characters in your dysfunctional family. [Seattle Times]

foot in mouth.gifToday we have TWO judges of the day. Both win the prize for their honesty and fearlessness. These jurists aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and for that we salute them.
First, there’s Judge James Brooks, of “the O.C.” — Orange County, California.

An Orange County judge with a sharp tongue and a history of making insensitive comments about ethnic minorities was publicly admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance.

The commission cited [a] contempt hearing where litigant Arnold McMahon told Brooks that he didn’t attend a scheduled Oct. 15 deposition because he had gone to the hospital with chest pains.

“Gee,” Brooks responded. “I wonder what’s going to happen when we put you in jail, Mr. McMahon. Your little ticker might stop, you think?”

Come now — that’s a bit tepid. We’ve heard harsher words from federal appellate judges at oral argument. This was more compelling:

[T]he commission noted that Brooks had been privately chastised three times since 1996 for similar conduct. The commission-cited punishments include: a 1996 advisory letter for referring to Hispanic defendants as “Pedro,” and issuing a bench warrant for an Asian defendant for “ten thousand dollars or twenty thousand yen”…

Second, there’s Judge Wilbur Mathesius, a Superior Court judge in Mercer County, New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Supreme Court on Thursday handed Judge Wilbur Mathesius a one-month suspension without pay for making shoot-from-the hip comments that undermined the judicial system….

[Judge Mathesius allegedly] berated a jury for acquitting a defendant of illegal handgun possession. According to the complaint, Mathesius went to the jury room and said, “What the hell were you thinking?” He then told the jurors the defendant had a prior criminal record and chose to not testify because of that record; that another witness would have testified for the prosecution had he not been threatened; and that the prosecution’s principal witness was the most credible he had ever seen.

This was only one of several incidents for which Judge Mathesius was disciplined. He also made some over-the-top comments about the death penalty. When criticized for these comments before the New Jersey Supreme Court, he responded as follows:

Mathesius observ[ed] that Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner “has written on many of the same subjects,” [and Mathesius] suggested that members of the New Jersey judiciary do the same.

Judge Mathesius, we know Judge Richard Posner. We have corresponded with Richard Posner. And you, sir, are no Richard Posner.
You are a state court judge. In the trial court. In New Jersey. In a word: ICKY.
(We mean no disrespect to the Garden State, from which we hail. But the “state court” and “trial court” aspects are proper subjects of disdain.)
Vociferous Judge Is Suspended a Month Without Pay [New Jersey Law Journal]
Judge Scolded for Insensitive Remarks []

Fed Soc 26.JPG

Apperances can be deceiving. The smiling woman above looks like a sweet old lady (or perhaps she’s middle-aged).

But don’t be fooled. This pleasant-looking woman opened a can of whoop-ass at the final panel discussion of the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention. She rained hellfire and brimstone upon the audience, and placed at least two of the panelists on an express train to Hell.

As we mentioned earlier, that last panel “discussion” was insane. It was a no-holds-barred fight between the Federalist Society’s two major constituencies: the social conservatives and the libertarians. It was a smart move to save this intra-societal slugfest until the end of the weekend.
The nominal title of the panel: “The Role of Government in Defining Our Culture.” A more appropriate title for the panel: “Watch Libertarians and Social Conservatives Rant at Each Other About Gay Marriage.”

The combatants participants:

Moderator cum lion tamer: Hon. Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General
For the libertarians: Dr. Charles Murray, AEI; Mr. Anthony Romero, ACLU
For the social conservatives: Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum; Professor Hadley Arkes, Amherst College
Kinda in between: Professor William Eskridge, Yale Law School
Kinda irrelevant: Hon. Walter Dellinger, currently of O’Melveny & Myers and Duke Law School (and former acting Solicitor General)
A blow-by-blow account of this intellectual battle royal, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An ATL Public Service Announcement: ‘The Wages of Sin Is Death!’ (Romans 6:23)”

cookies baked goods rat poison Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Above the Law.jpgEarlier this year, controversial blonde pundit Ann Coulter joked about putting rat poison in Justice John Paul Stevens’s creme brulee.
Did Coulter give someone an idea? Check out this story, from the Star-Telegram of Forth Worth:

When federal appellate Judge Danny Boggs said at a Friday legal conference at Las Colinas that physical assaults aimed at judges have come mainly from “the deranged,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor underscored the safety concerns.

“Every member of the Supreme Court received a wonderful package of home-baked cookies, and I don’t know why, the staff decided to analyze them,” she recounted. “Each one contained enough poison to kill the entire membership of the court.”

Sounds pretty serious, right?
But we must call out Justice O’Connor for exaggerating the seriousness of the threat. It seems the ol’ cowgirl is playing fast and loose with the record. As reported by SCOTUS press corps diva Linda Greenhouse:

The danger posed by the packages was immediately apparent. Each contained a typewritten letter stating either, “I am going to kill you,” or, “We are going to kill you,” and adding, “This is poisoned.”

Supreme Court justices get accused of many things. But illiteracy is not usually among them.
Moreover, Justice O’Connor’s casual statement of “I don’t know why, the staff decided to analyze them” — implying the deadly treats came thisclose to reaching supreme judicial lips — is misleading. Again, per the Queen Bee:

All mail received at the Supreme Court is screened, and the tainted packages never reached the justices, said Kathleen Arberg, the court’s public information officer.

So it’s not that easy to poison a Supreme Court justice. Furthermore, even if the poisoned food somehow makes it past the initial screening, to reach a justice’s chambers, success is still not guaranteed. Why? In addition to their other duties, some Supreme Court clerks serve as food tasters for their bosses.
Finally, we fail to see how Justice O’Connor’s tale of the poisoned baked goods refutes Judge Boggs’s point that most threats against judges comes from “the deranged.” Clearly Barbara Joan March, who sent the poisoned packages to the Supreme Court — accompanied by notes that helpfully disclosed their toxic nature — is not a right-thinking person. At the very least, she’s not the most sane, nor the most intelligent, resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Sitting Ducks on the Bench [Star-Telegram (Fort Worth)]
Justice Recalls Treats Laced With Poison [New York Times]
Ann Coulter to Justice Stevens: Drop Dead — Here, Let Me Help [Wonkette]

naomi campbell Above the Law Legal Tabloid.GIFHow do you solve a problem like Naomi — besides deporting her skinny black ass?
Repeated brushes with the law have not deterred the British-born beauty from beating the crap out of the hired help. Here’s the latest:

Naomi Campbell might be spending more time in courtrooms than on catwalks these days. The supermodel was due in a New York court Wednesday to face charges of assaulting a housekeeper — one in a series of former employees who have said the supermodel is striking in more ways than one.

“Striking in more ways than one” — we love it. Who says wire reporters have no fun?

In Campbell’s latest legal woes, Gibson’s new lawsuit says ”Campbell either kicked or punched the back of Gibson’s head … while yelling discriminatory comments” as the maid searched the closet for the model’s jeans.

In Campbell’s defense, those were no ordinary jeans. They were Stella McCartney jeans.
And here’s the basis for the allegations of bigotry:

Gibson worked for Campbell from November 2005 through January 2006. Her court papers call Campbell a ”violent super-bigot” who disparaged her maid by saying, ”You are not in the Third World any more, stupid,” and ”Romanians are not usually as dumb as you.”

Bigotry? Come now — let’s give credit where credit is due. Campbell should be commended for the artful, almost lawyerly wording of her insult: “Romanians are NOT usually as dumb as you” (emphasis added).
Naomi Campbell Sued Again by Ex – Employee [Associated Press]

* Look, pal, we don’t do it that way around here. Instead, we give all our girls years of self-esteem-destroying mixed messages, double standards, and hypocrisy. [AP via FindLaw]
* Pleasssseee come back! We swear it won’t suck this time. We’ll give you a real office! [National Law Journal]
* This is for stealing my boyfriend; in your face! []
* There was no probabizzle causizzle for the arrestasizzle, you know what I’m saying? [AP via Yahoo! News]
* I’ve heard of baptism by fire, but this is ridiculous. [AP via Online Athens]

naomi campbell model assault.jpgWe love supermodels around here. Based on their fabulosity, we’d let them get away with murder.
Okay, not literally — which is why something must be done about Naomi Campbell.
Past brushes with the law have not deterred the ebony-skinned beauty. She has moved beyond the point of being entertaining Page Six fodder; she now poses a danger to public safety. The latest news:

Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been released on bail after being arrested in London on suspicion of assault….

Campbell was arrested yesterday afternoon after a woman walked into a central London police station and made an allegation of assault.

The Sun newspaper reported that Campbell attacked her drug counsellor. The paper claimed the therapist made a complaint after she was “scratched all over her face” by the catwalk model.

A spokesman for Campbell said he believed there had been a “misunderstanding.”

Ah, another “misunderstanding” — like this one:

Campbell is subject to to an ongoing assault case in New York. She is alleged to have thrown a mobile phone at her housekeeper’s head in a row at her Manhattan apartment. She failed to turn up to a hearing in September and the case was adjourned until November 15.

This is actually the ninth assault allegation against Campbell in eight years.
ATL public service announcement: If you see Naomi Campbell walking down the street, turn the other way — and RUN.
Supermodel Is Arrested [Sky News]
Naomi Campbell Said Questioned by Police [Associated Press]

green day american idiot.jpgUnchallenged by offering customers the choice of paper or plastic, one young store clerk has decided to venture into copyright law. From

Paul McPike, a 32-year-old grocery store employee in Medford, OR, has sued Green Day, claiming he wrote the lyrics and composed the melodies for the band’s highly acclaimed 2004 album, American Idiot.

McPike’s filed a copyright infringement complaint in U.S. District Court last week, claiming that he wrote the album in high school during 1992. The only evidence submitted was a copy of the album, stating that the words lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong sings don’t exactly match those printed in the liner notes.

Since McPike has never performed publicly, he assumes that that a friend must have recorded him singing at home and somehow that recording reached Green Day.

We doubt this guy wrote American Idiot; but he certainly sounds like one.
Oregon Grocery Store Employee Claims He Wrote “American Idiot”, Sues Green Day []
Man Says He Wrote Green Day’s Songs [Southern Oregon Mail Tribune]

bully video game.jpgHere at Above the Law, we’re not all about silliness. We have a serious and more practical side, too.
Last month, in honor of fall recruiting season, we shared with you our Top Ten Interview Tips. This is what’s known in the trade as “service journalism,” or what U.S. News and World Report calls “news you can use.”
We now bring you the first post in an occasional series of ATL Practice Pointers. You’ve landed the legal job of your dreams. Now, what do you have to do in order to keep it?
Today’s tip is about being a good loser. Even the most talented attorneys lose sometimes. Superstar litigator David Boies, for example, lost a little case called Bush v. Gore. So what’s the best way to handle professional setbacks?
Practice Pointer #1: Don’t send the judge nasty, ad hominem letters after he renders a decision against you.
The ACS Blog brings us this news:

Florida attorney Jack Thompson recently lost a case seeking to enjoin the sale of “Bully”, a video game which puts the player in the shoes of a high school ruffian. In response to his loss, Thompson delivered a letter to the judge in the case:

Dear Judge Friedman:

Now that you have consigned innumerable children to skull fractures, eye injuries from slingshots, and beatings with baseball bats, without a hearing as to the danger, let me tell you a few things, with all respect for your office and with no respect for the arbitrary way in which you handled this matter. I can handle an adverse ruling by a judge. I’ve had plenty of those in my lifetime, and that’s fine. But the way you conducted yourself today helps explain why a great Dade County Judge, the late Rhea Pincus Grossman, could not abide you. She was not the only one….

Luckily for Thompson, Judge Grossman is no longer around. She probably wouldn’t have appreciated being ratted out like that.*
The letter goes on for a while, before concluding as follows:

Next time you promise a “hearing,” I’ll bring a parent with me whose kid is in the ground because of a kid who trained to kill him or her on a violent video game. Try mocking that person, I dare you.

Which brings us to Practice Pointer #2: Don’t threaten a judge, either — even a mere state court judge.
* We’re assuming this enmity between the judges was not open and notorious; but maybe it was.
How Not To Speak To a Judge [ACSBlog]
Judge Gives Bully Game the Go Ahead [Tech Law Prof Blog]
“Bully” Case Document Dump [GamePolitics]
Letter from John Thompson to Judge Ronald Friedman [ (Word document)]
Earlier: A PSA from ATL: Top Ten Interview Tips

mahmoud ahmadinejad.JPGIn yesterday’s Lawsuit of the Day post, we wondered where on earth Martha Louise Piggee, former part-time instructor of cosmetology at Carl Sandburg College, dug up the anti-gay comics she foisted on her gay students. One of you enlightened us:

These are the cartoon “tracts” of Jack Chick. He has them all online, in case you’d like to see the cartoons that Ms. Piggie included. Click here.

Check ‘em out for yourself; they’re pretty wild. In Doom Town (above right), a man who looks suspiciously like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sets out on a quest to “rescue” homosexuals from the “horrible judgment” awaiting them.
In Sin City (below), “Reverend Ray” — a gay clergyman preaching tolerance for gays — comes to discover that he’s actually on an express train to Hell. But he repents just in time:
Apparently he was a bottom.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on gay rights, gay marriage, etc. We’re not here to debate such weighty issues. We just find it hilarious that Martha Piggee was mounting a one-woman campaign against homosexuality AT A COSMETOLOGY SCHOOL…
(C’mon, Ms. Piggee — challenge yourself. Take your proselytizing to a Kathy Griffin show!)
Earlier: Lawsuit of the Day: What Kind of Noodles Were They?

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