Lunacy

pants 2 Roy Pearson Judge Roy L Pearson Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGOver at the Washington Post’s Offbeat blog, Emil Steiner is liveblogging Pearson v. Custom Cleaners — aka “The Case of the $54 Million Pants.” Check it out by clicking here (and scrolling down — no, farther down).
Here’s Steiner’s account of the plaintiff’s testimony:

If I had $54 million in my pocket, I’d almost give it to Roy Pearson to end this thing. Pearson took the stand this afternoon in his trial against Custom Cleaners, and it wasn’t exactly spellbinding.

Pearson went into seemingly every minute detail of life: his history of community service, his weight gain as a middle-aged man, his financial woes and his painful divorce. Even the opposing defense counsel was rubbing his eyes and suppressing yawns.

But the judge let Pearson tell his story, taking occasional notes, always with a somewhat bemused expression on her face. I could almost see the thought bubble over her head: Take as much time as you need to orchestrate your circus. (Though if circuses were this slow, Barnum & Bailey would be out of business.)

Then, just before 3:30, Roy L. Pearson broke down, appeared to almost cry, and quickly requested a break. Would it be heartless to ask whether he had been bored to tears?

Jeez. Should we lay off Judge Pearson? Until now, he struck us as a raging asshole rather unsympathetic plaintiff. But now it sounds like he may have… issues.
Does Roy Pearson need $54 million? Or does he just need a good therapist — and the right combination of prescription drugs?
Pearson v. Custom Cleaners: The Plaintiff Testifies (and Breaks Down!) [Offbeat]
Offbeat Blog [Washington Post]

* When the backdrops for crazy shootings tend to be God-forsaken backwaters (or suburbs), it’s reassuring to know that New York City is still home to plenty of wackjobs. [Gawker; Village Voice; Braunstein recap here]
* I love it when a guy makes good on the “You can’t make me!” threat. [QuizLaw; The Smoking Gun]
* Silly little lawsuits do not suit hip hop. Bring back the thuggery, I say. [All HipHop News]
* The CHiPs guys would never do this, but things are different down South. [Chicago Sun-Times]
* He’s short, a biter and, in all likelihood, soon to be single–single line, girls. [CNN]

Stroock Stroock Lavan LLP Above the Law blog.JPGApparently something weird is going on over in the New York office of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. Something really weird.
A source at another firm advised us:

Something has happened at Stroock. Rumors floating around that an associate flipped his s**t and emailed all personnel with something odd. I can’t find out more than that.

Use your powers. Find the answer.

After invoking said “powers,” we learned a bit more — and got our filthy paws on the email.
Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What the Stroock Is Going On?”

* When I was in college, plagiarism was something special we saved for papers. But kids have told me that in an age of blogs and other electronic content, original thought is so very quaint. [Ivygate Blog]
* Blonde Justice loves them crazy folks. [Blonde Justice]
* I think I was totally brainwashed into liking The Daily Show; at the height of its popularity, I thought, man that is a funny show, even though I had seen maybe five minutes across a few episodes. [PrawfsBlawg]
* No jello or mud was involved… [Local6.com]
* …or he would have been on the scene. I know he’s probably had something up the butt before, but I keep forgetting if this guy has ever been in prison. [WJHG.com]

smiley face with bomb Above the Law blog.gifThe Cravath partner who uses Scotch tape to Biore herself during a deposition. The Sullivan & Cromwell partner who allegedly tells a gay associate to “bend over” and pick up a document. The partner that you’re probably working for right now, who makes one insane demand after another.
What is UP with these people? How can they be so clueless? Why are they completely unable to appreciate how their words and actions will be received?
One theory about why powerful partners act the way they do can be gleaned from this NYT op-ed, by Richard Conniff, author of The Natural History of the Rich. Conniff suggests, in a nutshell, that power turns people into inconsiderate a**holes. Here’s an excerpt:

Researchers led by the psychologist Dacher Keltner took groups of three ordinary volunteers and randomly put one of them in charge. Each trio had a half-hour to work through a boring social survey. Then a researcher came in and left a plateful of precisely five cookies. Care to guess which volunteer typically grabbed an extra cookie? The volunteer who had randomly been assigned the power role was also more likely to eat it with his mouth open, spew crumbs on partners and get cookie detritus on his face and on the table….

The researchers went on to theorize that getting power causes people to focus so keenly on the potential rewards, like money, sex, public acclaim or an extra chocolate-chip cookie — not necessarily in that order, or frankly, any order at all, but preferably all at once — that they become oblivious to the people around them.

Are you one of those associates who does whatever a partner asks of you, quickly and without complaint, no matter how unreasonable? You may be part of the problem:

[T]he people around them may abet this process, since they are often subordinates intent on keeping the boss happy. So for the boss, it starts to look like a world in which the traffic lights are always green (and damn the pedestrians). Professor Keltner and his fellow researchers describe it as an instance of “approach/inhibition theory” in action: As power increases, it fires up the behavioral approach system and shuts down behavioral inhibition.

So next time a certain partner asks you to coordinate an armada of town cars to ferry deal documents to her at home, “Just Say No.” You’re standing up not just for yourself, but for generations of unborn associates.
(Okay, this advice would probably get you fired. But wouldn’t it be satisfying to tell her off? It might almost be worth losing your job to say to her, “I graduated from a top law school. I got offers from every top firm I applied to. Do I look like a Dial-A-Car dispatcher?”)
The Rich Are More Oblivious Than You and Me [New York Times]

Alison Maynard Allison Maynard Sunny Maynard Alison Sunny Maynard Above the Law blog.gifWhen we wrote about her amusing court filing earlier today, we redacted her name. But since she has shown that she has no problem with being identified, even going so far as to comment on our prior post, we’re happy to shout her name from the blogospheric rooftops: ALISON MAYNARD.
Alison Maynard, who ran unsuccessfully for Colorado Attorney General as a Green Party candidate, is known in some circles as “Sunny” Maynard. And with her hilarious motion, Sunny Maynard has brightened the days of thousands of lawyers around the country.
This is why we’re naming her our Lawyer of the Day. Congratulations, Ms. Maynard!
For those of you who didn’t read our prior post, here’s the relevant excerpt from Maynard’s motion:
inebriation 2 excusable neglect drink drunk drinking motion Alison Maynard Allison Maynard Above the Law blog.JPG
In the hours since we posted it, we’ve been bombarded by several lengthy email screeds from Maynard. Because most of them contained the words “water rights” and “bill of costs,” they were initially banished to the “Boring Stuff” subfolder of our “Junk Mail” folder.
But we dutifully rescued them, and we even read them. Some excerpts, as well as links with biographical information about Alison Maynard, appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Alison Maynard”

* Domenici asked for ousting of New Mexico U.S. Attorney. [New York Times via How Appealing]
* Descendants of ex-slaves not welcome in Cherokee Nation. [Jurist]
* Prosecutors decide to pass on attempted murder charge for astronaut in kidnapping case; CNN decides to use a more flattering picture. [CNN; compare with CNN (2/05/07)]
* And speaking of unflattering pictures… [CNN]
* Breyer to appear on NPR “comedy” show. [AP via Yahoo!]
Update: In case you were hoping to attend the “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” taping, you should note that it has been pushed back by a week.

Patek Philippe watch timepiece Above the Law.JPGWe sure do love pro se litigants. Like the guy who filed this notice of appeal. Or the loon who filed this lawsuit against Arm & Hammer. And, of course, there’s Aaron Charney (although he now has counsel).
Today we introduce you to Michael Melnitzky, who served as the principal art conservator at Sotheby’s for almost three decades. From the NYT:

[W]hen his wife filed for divorce in 1994, Mr. Melnitzky became something else: a litigator. A prolific one. And although he has no law degree and only himself as a client, he has never been busier.

Through a series of self-fashioned lawsuits and appeals, issues that might have been settled with his divorce have gone on for 13 years, 3 years longer than his marriage.

He has sued virtually everyone involved: one of his former lawyers, his wife’s lawyer, three banks, five judges and a psychiatrist appointed by the court to evaluate his mental health. In unrelated cases, he has sued a neighbor, a thrift shop, the city and his former employer. And he has almost always lost.

Unlike so many pro se litigants, Melnitzky is neither incarcerated nor impecunious. But in terms of his psychology, he fits the pro se profile:

At a recent hearing, an opposing lawyer called him a “serial litigator” who was turning the legal system into a “hobby” at the expense of the people he sued.

Mr. Melnitzky takes exception to such characterizations, as he does to the mention of obsession.

“It’s not an obsession; it’s a cause,” he said. “Would you call the fight against Nazis an obsession?”

Melnitzky is a Holocaust survivor. But despite that fact, we respectfully question whether it’s appropriate to compare the worldwide struggle against Fascism and genocide to litigation over a watch collection (even a very nice one — it includes timepieces by Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin).
The Marriage Lasted 10 Years. The Lawsuits? 13 Years, and Counting. [New York Times]

glock gun Above the Law Above the Law handgun Above the Law.jpgLaw school can be stressful. Very stressful. Sometimes people crack under the pressure.
Several tipsters directed our attention to this unusual story:

A University of Pennsylvania law student couldn’t shake his paranoid suspicion that his two neighbors, Drexel University graduate students, were foreign spies sent to work on some sort of a terrorism plot, police said.

His anger-laced curiosity grew after he approached the roommates, both Indian-born bio-engineering majors, during a seemingly friendly conversation yesterday morning….

At about 12:30 p.m, the 31-year-old Korean-American law student returned home, took out his legal Glock-9, and knocked on his neighbors’ front door.

The 22-year-old Drexel student, the only one inside, ignored the pounding. The Penn student’s anger exploded as he fired about 15 shots into the apartment’s door, three of which sliced through the door’s lock.

The wannabe lawyer, whose name wasn’t released, left the building as the graduate student hid in a bedroom, police said.

“It is a strange case,” said Lt. John Walker..

You can say that again. Here’s are quotes from two area students:

“Spies – that is out of left field. Spies in West Philly – that is ridiculous.”

“You’d think a law student would be smarter than that.”

Indeed. A serious law student wouldn’t mess up his stereotypes. It’s the Arabs who are plotting to kill us all, not the Indians.
(The Penn Law student’s name will become a matter of public record upon his arraignment. But perhaps it will emerge in the comments to this post before that time…)
P.S. Jeez, running a blog aimed at lawyers can suck sometimes. Lawyers are critical by training and serious by disposition (for the most part). We are therefore compelled to issue the following disclaimers:

1. Please do not take offense at the title of this post. It cannot be denied that (a) many South Asians own convenience stores and (b) many are held up at gunpoint. Pointing this out is no more offensive than the character of “Apu” on the Simpsons.

2. The sentence about getting stereotypes straight is tongue-in-cheek. We are NOT saying that Arab-Americans are terrorists, etc.

3. Please do not write to us to point out that the Penn law student in question is probably mentally ill, that mental illness is no laughing matter etc. We know. If you want to have a pissing contest with us over sensitivity to mental illness, bring it.

Student shoots at ‘spies’ [Philadelphia Daily News]
Law student arrested for firing at neighbors [Daily Pennsylvanian]

WSJ Law Blog Peter Lattman Above the Law.jpgThe Justice Department’s Shanetta Cutlar isn’t the only idiosyncratic manager in the legal profession. The WSJ Law Blog offers up some interesting blind items about bosses from hell challenging supervisors in the world of private practice.
From the main post:

[Wall Street Journal columnist Carol Hymowitz] interviewed Gary Hayes, a psychologist and consultant, who says he worked with a New York law firm where a senior partner flung heavy law books across the room at an associate.

“The associate told me it was all right since the partner intentionally threw to miss — not hit him,” says Hayes. “But the associate soon moved to another firm.”

It’s okay to hurl F.3ds at your underlings, as long as you have crappy aim.
And from the comments:

“In the eighties there was a story making the rounds about a partner at a major firm (yes I do know which one) who punctuated a heated discussion by ripping a telephone out of the wall and flinging it across the room at another partner. Does partner v. partner mean it’s ok?”

“There is a certain partner at a certain well-known firm who is reputed to have hit her secretary in the head with a phone.”

“It just happened to me on Monday. A partner started yelling at me, reaching a high-pitched crescendo, because I handed him a photocopy of the wrong e-mail in an informal discussion. I almost started laughing, which infuriated him even more. The guy was on the verge of a stroke. I pity the man. He is a punishment to himself.”

If you’d like to enlighten us about these blind items, or speculate as to the individuals involved, you may do so — at your own risk — in the comments.
We will remind you, as we’ve done before, that under Section 230, YOU are responsible for any defamatory comments you post. We are providing the forum for discussion, but YOU are the speaker or publisher of your own remarks.
(And only YOU can prevent forest fires.)
The Scream [WSJ Law Blog]

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