Murder

He’s going to try the case in court, not in the press, and I admire that.

Jeff Ashton, speaking about Mark O’Mara, who is defending George Zimmerman against murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin. For his part, Ashton is no stranger to the spotlight. The former Florida Assistant State Attorney was the prosecutor in charge of the Casey Anthony case.

Usually when we hear about courtroom drama stemming from social media, it’s caused by someone, you know, actually involved in the case.

Not today! This week, a judge declared a mistrial in a Kansas murder case after a pesky reporter shot and published a cellphone pic from trial. What kind of scandalous photos was the intrepid journalist taking?

The kind that almost certainly doesn’t warrant a mistrial….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Mistrial Declared After Modern Technology Unacceptably Intrudes into Court”

Jason Smiekel

When we last checked in with Illinois attorney, Jason W. Smiekel, the man accused of taking out a hit on a former client (who also happened to be the ex-husband of Smiekel’s fiancée), he was busy trying to convince a judge to release him on bail. Apparently he didn’t think murder for hire was a “crime of violence.” Needless to say, that was an exercise in futility.

In August, Smiekel pleaded not guilty to seven counts of using interstate facilities in his alleged murder-for-hire scheme. At the time, readers who knew Smiekel assured us that we would “see in the end that he is the victim in this whole fiasco.” They believed that the divorce lawyer’s fiancée — otherwise known as the “hot hot hot blonde” (HHHB) — was to blame.

But based on the plea deal that Smiekel took yesterday, that doesn’t seem to be the case….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chicago-Area Lawyer Didn’t Make a ‘Rational Decision’ When He Hired a Contract Killer to Off a Former Client”


Jason Cai is going away for a long, long time.

Yesterday, it appears some justice was finally served in a tragic Silicon Valley murder case. A jury convicted Jason Cai, a 53-year-old software engineer, in the grisly murder of a young attorney.

Prosecutors say the killing was an act of revenge. Let’s learn more about the attorney who picked the wrong case, as well as Cai, who at this point has ridden the murder trial rodeo more times than anyone should…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Many Trials Does It Take to Get a Murder Conviction? The World May Never Three.”

Last week, we wrote about the bail hearing for Stephen M. McDaniel, the Mercer Law School graduate accused of killing his former neighbor and classmate, Lauren Giddings. At the hearing, the prosecution cited a gory internet posting that it claimed was written by McDaniel. But it now appears that the post might have been a fake. When contacted by Above the Law, one of McDaniel’s lawyers, Franklin Hogue, denied that his client wrote the posting in question.

At the bail hearing, the prosecution asked for bond to be set at $2.5 million, while defense counsel sought $100,000 bond. Chief Judge S. Phillip Brown took the matter under advisement.

Yesterday he issued his ruling….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bail Set for Stephen McDaniel in the Lauren Giddings Murder Case”

* The EEOC suit against Kelley Drye was brought “for a reason.” You hear that, Biglaw? Other firms with mandatory retirement policies better take a look at their partnership agreements and make some changes. [Am Law Daily]

* Media whore lawyers unite! Cheney Mason of Casey Anthony fame has come out of the woodwork to support George Zimmerman. Still waiting on vital impressions from Gloria Allred. Oh wait… [Naked Politics / Miami Herald]

* Just think, maybe if Planned Parenthood of Texas had taken Tucker Max’s money, they wouldn’t be suing the state for banning their organization from the women’s health program. Nah, they’d still be suing. [Reuters]

* Georgetown Law is planning to launch an executive education program, but don’t worry, they’re not going to be competing with Harvard. They know they’re the safety school in this scenario. [National Law Journal]

* Love will definitely make you do some really crazy things, like watch The Expendables. Or allegedly commit a murder-suicide because your husband might’ve had an affair. Things like that. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

* Kim Kardashian’s dubious defense of the day: “I’m Armenian and hairy.” The only-famous-for-her-sex-tape star is trying to use that as an excuse to get a lawsuit over a hair removal product dismissed. [Fox News]

Stephen McDaniel

Last week, we saw some big news in the Stephen M. McDaniel murder case. In a bond hearing, prosecutors told the court about another internet post allegedly made by McDaniel, the Mercer Law School graduate who stands accused of murdering classmate Lauren Giddings. The newest post was particularly unsettling and gory.

At first glance, the post seemed like it could be a smoking gun. But things are never as simple as they seem: rumors are going around that the post is a fake. Because, as Above the Law readers know, don’t believe everything you read in online comments…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Was the Shocking McDaniel Internet Post Unveiled Last Week a Fake?”

* “We can’t engage the public in a seminar about health law.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor informed the public at Penn Law that she would not be taking up a post as a Wise Latina civics instructor. [Wall Street Journal]

* Next on Meltdown with Keith Olbermann: this liberal commentator has sued Current TV over getting fired. It is clearly the most irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, tea-bagging network ever. [Businessweek]

* George Zimmerman has added another lawyer to his soon-to-be defense team — a “veteran criminal defense” lawyer. Why did he need to hire such a hot shot if what he did to Trayvon Martin was legal? [Reuters]

* Step aside TSA: what kinds of rights do cruise passengers have at sea? How about the right not to be interrogated, strip searched, and then forced to pee in front of security guards? [Overhead Bin / MSNBC]

* Jordan Wallick has been convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of James Wallmuth III, a University of Pittsburgh law student. Wallick is now looking at life behind bars for his crime. [CBS 21 News]

Stephen McDaniel

It has been a while since our last significant update on the criminal case against Stephen M. McDaniel, the Mercer Law School graduate accused of killing classmate Lauren Giddings. But as noted in Morning Docket, we now have an update.

A rather lurid and gory update. Reader discretion is advised….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Creepy New Claim About Stephen McDaniel in the Lauren Giddings Murder Case”

Jenna Talackova

* AG Eric Holder can thank Obama for this homework assignment from Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith, because it seems like our president forgot about Marbury v. Madison. More on this to come later today. [CBS News]

* Dewey need to buy this Biglaw firm a functional calculator? New information shows that the imploding firm was off by roughly $153M when partners reported 2011 earnings to the American Lawyer. [Am Law Daily]

* You know there’s got to be something questionable about a law school when the accreditation machine that is the ABA gives it the side eye. And no, Duncan Law, a judge still won’t force its hand. [National Law Journal]

* Stephen McDaniel pleaded not guilty at his arraignment for the murder of Mercer Law classmate Lauren Giddings, but will he be released on bail before trial? Only if he’s got $2.5M sitting around. [Macon Telegraph]

* More law school lawsuits are coming down the pipeline, but local lawyers in Massachusetts don’t think that they stand a chance. Why? The highly-educated consumer argument strikes again. [Boston Business Journal]

* Thanks to Gloria Allred, transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova may be able to participate in the Miss Universe pageant if she can meet the legal requirements for being a woman in Canada. [MSNBC]

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