Lunacy

Ernest Murphy Judge Ernest B Murphy Above the Law blog.jpgBack in 2007, Judge Ernest B. Murphy won his libel case case against the Boston Herald. The Herald had reported that Murphy was soft on crime and, well, nobody puts Baby in the corner.
But winning just wasn’t enough for Judge Murphy. After he won he sent two threatening letters to Patrick Purcell, publisher of the Herald, on court stationery. The letters, which included the use of all-caps as pioneered by Chief Justice John Marshall, demanded that the Herald drop its appeal and hand deliver a check for half a million dollars more than the judgment, plus interest.
According to the Boston Globe, “Purcell testified that the letters were intimidating and looked like ransom notes.”
Yesterday, Murphy agreed to resign. Murphy claimed to have post-traumatic stress from his battle with the Herald. The Commission on Judicial Conduct had recommended a $25,000 fine, but they may amend their report in light of Murphy’s resignation.
We’d make a joke about how a judge could incur psychologically destructive stress from participating in a lawsuit, but we’re terrified that Murphy will sue us under the ADA.
Judge who sued Herald agrees to leave bench [Boston Globe via WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Murphy v. Boston Herald: Some Beantown Benchslappery

Florida gator alligator Above the Law blog.jpgWhat is it about Florida that causes its lawyers and litigants to misbehave so egregiously? Just last week, the Florida Supreme Court sanctioned colorful attorney Jack Thompson. And now they’ve expressed their displeasure (PDF) with pro se litigant Julio Mora.
What did Mr. Mora do to upset the court? From its opinion:

Mora has filed pro se pleadings containing scandalous and obscene language. Specifically, in his “Petition to Inhibit Jurisdiction From this Very Supreme Court of Injustice,” Mora maintained that through its show cause proceedings with DOC, the Court has proven itself “to be a pack of incompetent cowards, without balls, testicles, courage or valor.” Further, Mora urged this Court to

“take this case and the ultimate decision, if ever, and please shovel it to the chief justice and every other justice’s a**hole, in order to have a common place to store the justices’ crap, together with the justice crap from their’s mind, properly disposed through the sewer system, in order to prevent the contaminants to reach the citizen of Florida, and also kiss Julio Mora’s the idiot seeking justice, kiss his a**hole every time the justice will retire going to their den. . . . Please kiss my a** one more time.”

The court declined to grant Mora the requested relief. Instead, it sanctioned him, directing the clerk of court to reject any future filings from Mora “unless signed by a member of The Florida Bar.”
In a court of law, it’s the parties who do the ass-kissing — not the judges.
Mora v. McNeil (PDF) [Supreme Court of Florida]

This must be the most profanity-laced piece of transcript since Aaron Wider’s deposition. It’s the transcript of the sentencing hearing before Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.) at which Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Pokorny was attacked by the defendant, before the court reporter and defense counsel tackled the assailant.

The transcript was prepared by Ron Tolkin, the court reporter involved in the incident, from an audio recording. Even the heroic Mr. Tolkin can’t simultaneously (1) kick the a** of a kid decades his junior and (2) transcribe the proceedings for posterity.

Excerpts appear below. For the full transcript, see the link at the end of this post.

Victor Wright transcript Above the Law blog.jpg

UPDATE: Another choice excerpt, pointed out by several of you in the comments:

Victor Wright Ron Tolkin Carolyn Pokorny Eastern District New York ATL.jpg

To read the full transcript, click here (PDF). If you do, the “press it in” discussion might be confusing (and sound completely filthy). An E.D.N.Y. source clarifies:

["Pressing it in" refers] to the CSO, Marshalls and Deputy discussing how to activate the panic button. In the old E.D.N.Y. courthouse, you push in, but in the new one, you pull out.

Sentencing Hearing Transcript: United States v. Victor Wright (PDF)

Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Harry Batchelder (And Court Reporter of the Day: Ron Tolkin)

The Empire State is sending all sorts of craziness our way lately. From the New York — no, not the Washington — Post:

A female federal prosecutor was viciously attacked by a hulking, razor-wielding drug dealer in a Brooklyn courtroom yesterday – and was saved when the thug’s 72-year-old lawyer and others tackled him.

“He was going to slash her throat,” said defense lawyer Harry Batchelder, who, along with a court reporter and two marshals, slammed Victor Wright, 27 [or 37?], to the ground and grabbed an inch-long razor blade from him.

Criminal defense lawyers are badass — even the septuagenarians. And don’t forget the court reporter:

“Why don’t you try me instead of her?” stenographer Ron Tolkin shouted at the cowardly criminal as he leaped on Wright, before the group fell to the ground in a heap.

Both the elderly lawyer and Tolkin, 60, are former military men who served in Vietnam.

And what about Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.) — what did he do? From Newsday:

Block immediately left the bench after the melee started, and more marshals rushed into the courtroom and helped subdue Wright, court officials said.

That’s too bad. This story would have been perfect with the addition of a black-robed avenger, whacking the criminal into submission with a gavel.

P.S. Despite our admiration for federal judges qua judges, if we needed to be defended against a knife-wielding lunatic, we’d go with a state court judge any day of the week. E.g., Judge Ira Robinson.

RAZOR MANIAC JUMPS FED PROSECUTOR IN COURT [New York Post]
Drug dealer attacks 2 in Brooklyn courtroom [New York Newsday]

University of Alabama School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgSweet home Alabama. It’s the home of law schools that have given us great stories in the past.
A fairly recent story, involving a student at the University of Alabama School of Law who got into a silverware spat with his roommate, was on the lighter side. But our latest tale from UA is more serious — especially in the wake of yesterday’s tragic shootings at Northern Illinois University.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Going on at Alabama Law?”

gunner law school gunner.jpgEarlier this month, we posted an open thread on the law school gunner. It generated a spirited discussion — perhaps too spirited — and we eventually closed it to new comments.
We’re going to try this again. Here’s another open thread to share your gunner stories. But please keep the discourse civil, and please don’t call out anyone by name. If you’re mentioned in a story and want to defend yourself, come up with a pseudonym for doing so. You really don’t want ATL to come up when someone Googles you (e.g., around recruiting season).
As is our practice, we’ll kick things off with a story. From a tipster at a law school in New York:

last semester a 1L decided to spread a little rumor. he said he knew what was going to be on one of the finals (civ pro) — actually he dropped another person’s name who people trusted and said that the prof told her what was going to be on the exam. word spread pretty quickly that the last question of the exam would be a policy question, and that preclusion wouldn’t be covered. it was a complete lie; he just made it up. most people studied everything anyway, but there were definitely a bunch who spent a lot of extra time trying to study “policy” issues and less time on preclusion (which of course ended up being a question on the exam).

p.s. this guy studies with a small group who call themselves the “dream team” – haha

some other things that i was told later on but didn’t experience first-hand:

1) he allegedly conspired to mislead the class for weeks about this

2) his facebook status said “[his name] is exploiting situations like Geraldo Rivera” after he spread the word about what was supposedly on the test

Earlier: Law School Gunners: Open Thread

University of Alabama School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgWe were pretty lucky in the law school roommate department. During our 1L year, we lived with a high school friend who was in New Haven doing medical research. During our 2L year, we roomed with a friend from college: the brilliant Steve Engel, a former law clerk to Judge Kozinski and Justice Kennedy, who currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel (and who recently testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in that capacity, on the legal rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees).
Both were highly considerate roommates. Neither tried to purloin our silverware, which is the allegation made in this angry letter from a University of Alabama 2L to his former roommate. It begins:

Dear Roommate:

Oneida Journey Silverware Above the Law blog.jpgThis is a letter regarding your use and possession of my silverware and tableware. I regret that I have to tell you this in writing, but all of my attempts to speak to you in person were thwarted by your unwillingness to speak directly to me.

I wish to be as tolerant as possible so we can live together peaceably. However, your impermissible possession and misappropriation of the bulk of my silverware, as well as my stoneware bowls, is no longer acceptable.

The silverware in question was purchased entirely by me for my use. It is relatively new, bought in 2007, and cost approximately $75. The silverware in questions [sic] consists of Oneida’s “Journey” (4 setting) and also an Oneida Silverplate (2-setting which is coated in actual silver). I did not object to you using it at first (although you never asked for permission), but I reasonably thought you understood that your use had to be within some bounds of reason. You have continually used silverware without returning it to the kitchen. This has meant there is insufficient silverware for me, the owner, to use. This is unacceptable under any condition. Placing dishes and silverware in the kitchen does not waive my right to have reasonable possession or use of it.

The letter gets more over-the-top as it goes along. It culminates with a threat to bring a civil action for the tort of conversion.
Read the rest, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law School Roommate Lunacy: In re Oneida Silverware”

It appears that Jonathan Lee Riches — ATL’s favorite pro se litigant, who filed that famous $63,000,000,000.00 Billion lawsuit against Michael Vick — has some competition in the contest for craziest complaint.
Pro se litigant Gregory Newman has filed a lawsuit against “Covert Action Air Operations.” This entity does not exist. But that hasn’t stopped Mr. Newman from alleging that it erased his videotape of a “magnetic tornado” that descended upon his backyard.
Here’s an excerpt from the memorandum opinion dismissing the complaint, which describes some of Gregory Newman’s more colorful allegations:
Gregory Newman Gregory E Newman complaint Covert Action Air Operations.jpg
You can read the two-page opinion — which includes some boilerplate and citations, perhaps helpful to the law clerks among you, for the proposition that complaints “that describe fantastic or delusional scenarios are subject to immediate dismissal” — by clicking here.
Memorandum Opinion: Newman v. Covert Action Air Operations [U.S. District Court (D.D.C.)]

gunner law school gunner.jpgToday’s open thread focuses on someone who is near and dear to all of your hearts: the law school gunner. He’s sitting on your left; he’s sitting on your right; or maybe he is you. If you don’t know who the gunner in your class is, then look in the mirror.
We asked the tipster who suggested this topic to us to provide us with some fodder to kick off the thread. Here’s what we got:

It all begin at Admitted Students Weekend last spring, when this particular individual had to be shushed and told to “STOP TALK-ING” by a professor running a mock class. This was after he interrupted another admitted student and said, “Well, he gave a BAD example, but what he was clearly trying to say was…” There was other bizarre admitted students weekend behavior, but that should give you an idea.

Then, we arrived at school in August and there he was…ready to embark on a semester full of interrupting other students and professors, sharing awkward personal stories, and even telling professors that material they assigned from casebooks was “irrelevant.”

For finals, he decided that typing on his laptop keyboard would not allow him to type quickly enough to get all of his thoughts down in EBB, so he got special permission from the Registrar to use an external keyboard and a stand for his laptop. The whole contraption takes up lots of desk space and looks like he is sitting at the controls of a spaceship. From what I hear, he also used it for the last week of classes to “practice” for the exams.

He also once asked a particularly well-known professor to autograph his casebook…

And, finally, the event that precipitated my message to you. During a lunchtime speaker event, this individual pulled out a set of nail clippers and started clipping and then filing his fingernails! The entire room heard and was staring at him–naturally this got around the law school pretty quickly. Did I mention this individual is older and should know better (not that a 22 year old straight from undergrad shouldn’t…but he’s significantly older)?

So there’s a few examples for you.

Have gunner horror stories of your own to share? Please do so, in the comments (without naming any names, per our standard operating procedure around here). Thanks.
Gunner [Wikipedia]

James Colliton Jim Colliton Cravath Swaine Moore Above the Law blog.jpg(We missed this case because it happened over the holidays, when we were away from ATL. But we’ve received several requests to cover this super-juicy story, so we’ll go for it, despite being so late to the party.)
We described Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy, a lawsuit by a Jewish associate against his former law firm, as “the Jewish version of Aaron Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell.” Now we’re looking at “the pervert-who-has-sex-with-13-and-15-year-old-sisters version of Charney v. S&C.”
From the New York Daily News:

A disgraced lawyer who paid a mother to allow him to have sex with her underage daughters is looking for a payday of his own – from the elite law firm where he once worked.

James Colliton is suing Cravath, Swaine & Moore for $1.45 million, accusing the white-shoe firm of stiffing him on an annual bonus, salary and vacation pay.

Reached by phone at his home in Poughkeepsie, the convicted sex offender refused to talk about his suit, which was handwritten on notebook paper.

“It’s all in there,” Colliton said.

That’s what he told her. Also, we’d expect better than a complaint “handwritten on notebook paper” from James Colliton. If Aaron Charney can type up his pro se complaint against his former firm, surely an ex-Cravath lawyer can do the same.
More discussion, beyond the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day Last Month: Talk About a ‘Special’ Bonus
(The bonus you claim after pleading guilty to paying a mom so you can have sex with her two underage daughters)”

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