New Orleans

Remember a couple of months ago when a local radio host accused a cab driver of taking lewd video of her? Remember how I reflexively took the side of the local celeb, a woman accusing a big bad man of inappropriate sexual conduct?

I might have gotten that a bit wrong. Authorities have now dropped the charges against the cab driver and accused the woman of making the whole thing up.

Yeah…

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* “Did the imperative use of the F-bomb … threaten judicial authority?” Wow, seriously? This is perhaps the most entertaining question presented for review in a Supreme Court certiorari petition in the history of man. [National Law Journal]

* Boy, Dewey have some expensive paintings for you to buy! This failed firm’s art collection will be hitting the auction block in February, and the entire LeBoeuf lot is supposedly worth $2.3M, but most pieces are pretty damn ugly. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* When anonymous commenting goes wronger-er: Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has resigned amid the scandal caused by his underlings’ obnoxious comments. [Times-Picayune]

* Your employers really don’t want pictures of your office holiday party antics going viral online (but we do). Here are some of the many ways they’ll try to keep you from becoming internet famous. [Corporate Counsel]

* George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin, is suing NBCUniversal, alleging that the network and Today show reporters committed serious “journalistic crimes.” [Media Decoder / New York Times]

FIRST! Assistant United States Attorney.

First amongst weird creation myths is that of the Mbombo god, who is said to have vomited up pretty much all of our world. Similarly, the story of how this website has been… thrown up is worthy of retelling. At its essence, it goes like this: A boy blogs about very sober legal issues in an incredibly earnest way and then the governor of New Jersey tells him to start Above the Law, The End. I may have missed some crucial details and got others flat-out wrong, but I think the kernel of truth is still in there somewhere.

At any rate, that boy was working for the United States Attorney’s office in Newark at the time. Doing anything on the internet, even if it was super-serious and incredibly sincere, could be considered controversial because of the position. The lawyers tasked with working in such a high-profile prosecutorial role must be seen as impartial, lest the cases they take on get tainted by their online presence.

Which is what makes it all the more surprising that history is repeating itself down in New Orleans, where two assistant United States attorneys have become embroiled in scandal after being caught commenting on not just the law in general (like our own dear leader), but the specific cases that came through their office.

It’s almost as if the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office is trying to outdo David Lat in some way. Which, I mean, trick please…

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I realize, as a San Franciscan, my views on marijuana are somewhat out-of-the-ordinary relative to many other Americans. More specifically, San Franciscans as a group tend to forget pot is illegal at all.

But maybe we ain’t as crazy and/or progressive as we’d like to think of ourselves. Case in point: a prosecutor down south was busted this week when a joint fell out of his pocket — in court, while he was chatting with a police officer. Whoops!

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In the past few months, we’ve had some extensive bathroom coverage here at Above the Law. From bathroom naming rights at prestigious law schools, to proper bathroom etiquette for dropping a deuce at the courthouse, it seemed like the potty humor would never come to an end. But honestly, we never thought that we’d have to talk about having sex in a toilet stall.

But as a man in New Orleans has allegedly proven, sometimes you just need to get down on the floor of the men’s bathroom at the courthouse and plumb a girl’s drain….

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Judge Jessica Recksiedler

* Judge Jessica Recksiedler has disqualified herself from overseeing George Zimmerman’s murder trial. Stepping up to fill in as ringmaster for this media circus is Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. [Washington Post]

* Oh joy, new fee hikes associated with law school! Administrations of the LSAT are going down, down, down, so of course the price to take the test no one wants to take anymore is going up, up, up. [National Law Journal]

* Trying to win at all costs has its consequences. Just ask the New Orleans prosecutors who are now facing bar complaints for allegedly railroading defendants into harsh convictions. [Slate Magazine]

* Hopefully this lawsuit’s descriptions of the rotten chicken that was allegedly served to customers are enough to make you never eat at Kentucky Fried Salmonella again. [Huffington Post]

* “Housekeeping, you want me jerk you off?” Ex-MLB player and housekeeper aficionado Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to 270 days in jail after a conviction for lewd conduct and assault. [Bloomberg]

* Instead of gold, everything Charlie Sheen touches turns into a lawsuit. The producer for his FX comeback series, “Anger Management,” has been sued by another show producer for $50M. [New York Daily News]

* G’day, mates! This just in: if you’re on a business trip down under, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation for any sexual injuries that may occur “during the course of employment.” [Daily Telegraph]

* It’s Obamacare week at the Supreme Court, and people have been waiting in line since Friday morning to see the oral arguments. It’s kind of like Black Friday, except more people care about affordable TVs than affordable health care. [New York Times]

* Growth in the NLJ 250 increased by 1.7 percent in 2011. That’s fantastic for Biglaw, but associates at these firms care more about the growth of their bank accounts. Seriously… where are the spring bonuses already? [National Law Journal]

* George Zimmerman’s lawyer says he doesn’t think the “stand your ground” law applies to Trayvon Martin’s shooting. This was just self-defense — against Skittles. [MSNBC]

* The finalists for deanship at Baltimore Law include a Patton Boggs partner, an assistant attorney general, a law school dean, and two law professors. But which will be able to stand up to Bogomolny? [Baltimore Sun]

* Since blogging allows “big personalities” to run free, does the prosecommenter, Sal Perricone, have a bright future ahead of him here at Above the Law? Let’s see what David Lat has to say about that. [Times-Picayune]

* Millionaire John Goodman has been convicted of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges, and now he’s facing 11.5 to 30 years in prison. Boy is his girlfriend-slash-daughter going to miss him. [CNN]

People always ask the Above the Law editors, “What kinds of people leave such horrible comments on your website?” And we always say, “Regular people, the ones you work with or socialize with.”

Most internet commenters are regular people who, under the Invisibility Cloak of cyberspace, feel free to say whatever disgusting/ridiculous/illogical thing that pops into their heads.

Lest anyone think the phenomenon is unique to our website, please think again. For better or worse, trolling is an inevitable part of online media. Most of the time, it’s best to just ignore it. Once a while, however, anonymous online commenting may signify something larger and more pernicious.

Case in point: our inbox was flooded over the weekend with the emerging scandal of a prosecommenter (yeah, you read that right) in New Orleans. This is what happens when a federal prosecutor takes his case to the interwebs instead of the court. Bad times…

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People have really given Mitt Romney hell for saying he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” But really, it’s not just wealthy Republican Mormons who lack compassion for the very poor in this country. Ronald Reagan’s greatest legacy to the Republican Party was that he made it okay for them to categorically disregard the plight of the structurally poor and blame them for their own suffering. And for the most part Democrats have decided that in order to win they must show a similar callousness towards the poor. The poor don’t vote, and so both parties conspire to ignore the impoverished — or worse, talk down to those who were stupid enough to be born to the wrong parents.

At an individual level, nearly all of us are complicit as well. Well, I’ll just speak for me: I do my part to not care about the permanent underclass that lives in the richest society on Earth. I won’t even give money to homeless people on the street unless they sing or dance or perform some sort of talent. One time I gave “James,” a blind man who panhandles on the 4/5/6, line at the same times I head into the office, $20 — not because I wanted to be kind but because I got so sick of his spiel (“I’m legally blind, I get a little bit of disability but that only leaves me $18 a month for food.”). I thought he might leave me alone for the rest of the month.

I don’t think I’m the only one who sometimes wants poor people to just go away….

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katrina.jpg
This week marked the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The news has been full of reports about the status of the affected areas, particularly New Orleans, two years later. Most of them have not been good; here are a few examples:
“Bitterness lingers 2 years after Katrina” [AP via Yahoo!]
“Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast Struggling 2 years later” [CNN]
“Hope, skepticism mark Katrina anniversary” [USA Today]
But this is a legal blog, and so we want to know specifically about the state of the legal community in New Orleans two years post-Katrina. Immediately following the hurricane, the New Orleans legal system was “devastated.” Has it recovered?
We’d like to hear from associates in New Orleans about their current experiences. Are the courts up and running? What is the backlog like? What about associate pay; is it back to normal?
And this has little to do with biglaw, but when is New Orleans going to get a handle on the murder situation?
Share your perspectives on the state of the New Orleans legal community in the comments.

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