A growing trend in criminal defense: invoking your modest endowment as exculpatory evidence.
Back in March, we wrote about this case, in which a Florida defendant argued that his penis was too small to inflict the injuries sustained by a rape victim. Now we hear about a more extreme version of the “size matters” defense, from the Houston Chronicle:
Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the conviction of a local doctor for indecent exposure.
The court rejected the argument by high-profile attorney Dick DeGuerin and his associate Neal Davis that the doctor could not have exposed himself to an undercover cop because that which is alleged to have been exposed is too small to have been seen.
Too small to be seen? Some defendants would rather serve time than rely upon this defense.
Alas, the defendant doctor got the worst of both worlds: the world now knows about his wee wee-wee, and he was convicted (with the conviction affirmed on appeal). Columnist Rick Casey sums it up:
The bottom line: This is a case that could be described as de minimis, a legal term defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “1. Trifling, minimal. 2. (Of a fact or thing) so insignificant that a court may overlook it in deciding an issue or case.”
If you were skeptical of the notion that Barack Obama never published anything as a member of the Harvard Law Review, your skepticism was justified. From Ben Smith and Jeffrey Ressner, over at Politico:
[A]n unsigned — and previously unattributed — 1990 article unearthed by Politico offers a glimpse at Obama’s views on abortion policy and the law during his student days, and provides a rare addition to his body of work.
The six-page summary, tucked into the third volume of the year’s Harvard Law Review, considers the charged, if peripheral, question of whether fetuses should be able to file lawsuits against their mothers. Obama’s answer, like most courts': No.
As ATL readers know — see the posts collected under the Harvard Law Review category — ascertaining authorship of HLR student-written work can be controversial. How do we know Obama wrote this case comment?
The Obama campaign swiftly confirmed Obama’s authorship of the fetal rights article Thursday after a source told Politico he’d written it. The campaign also provided a statement on Harvard Law Review letterhead confirming that the unsigned piece was Obama’s – the only record of the anonymous authors is kept in the office of the Review president – and that records showed it was the only piece he’d written for the Review.
Welcome to another post in the 2009 Vault 100 open thread series. You all seem to like having the law firms listed in groups of ten, so we’ll keep it up. Here are the thirty-something firms from the Vault 100, with prestige scores in parentheses:
Fried Frank and Cadwalader have been on the ATL radar of late. We broke news of staff layoffs at Fried Frank earlier this week, and news of the attorney bloodletting at Cadwalader last month. As noted in Cadwalader’s notable perks: “ouch, layoffs.” (Speaking of, in going through the Vault 100 list, we’ve discovered that Vault’s definition of “perk” is very different from ours.)
In the comments, the curious can pose questions, and the insiders can share insights. More threads to come. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
* Federal judge grants stay of execution in Texas because the condemned man may be insane. Judge Orlando Luis Garcia chastised the state courts for refusing to hire mental health experts to assess the man’s sanity. [New York Times]
* Bush administration will implement a regulation to protect anti-abortion health workers. [Washington Post]
* Three members of the Warren Jeffs-led Texas polygamist sect are indicted. [CNN]
* Alan Dershowitz wants to depose recently captured Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. [Associated Press]
* Woman tries to free her convicted-murderer husband from jail by forging two judges’ signatures, feds claim. [San Jose Mercury News]
* Former paralegal makes out in the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Siegel, Fenchel & Peddy. The co-plaintiff associate didn’t do so well. [New York Law Journal]
* More advice for young lawyers from the good professor. [Punditry - Stephen Bainbridge]
* Consistent with that advice, when it comes to email, “think before you write” — or risk losing the protection of attorney-client privilege. [Business West]
* Think juries suck? You’re right. [Swordplay]
* A shout-out to ATL Idol, from the ABA Journal. [ABA Journal]
* Seven notable New Yorkers — including our colleague, Dealbreaker EIC John Carney — opine on presidential politics. [Time Out New York]
* Professor Jonathan Adler, on the AALS boycott. [Volokh Conspiracy via TaxProf Blog]
* If our length limit for this piece hadn’t been so short, we probably would have written something more like this (since we had a lot of the reporting). [New York Times]
1. Start dates for incoming associates have been pushed back to January 19, 2009. Associates are being offered a $10,000 stipend.
2. The firm has pulled out of on-campus interviewing (OCI) at several law schools, including UVA and UC-Davis.
We contacted the firm for comment. Spokesman Patrick Bustamante informed us that Heller has delayed the start date for fall associates to Tuesday, January 20, 2009 (because Monday the 19th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). These associates will receive a monthly stipend between November and January.
He also confirmed that the firm has withdrawn from OCI at some schools:
It’s not unusual for firms to change or cancel their on-campus interview plans as they refine their hiring goals in late summer. [Ed. note: "Guys in my high school..."]
Because we plan to hire fewer summer associates next summer, we did cancel our plans to interview at some schools and to focus on schools where we have been the most successful in the past.
A recent article in IP Law & Business suggested that rumors of the demise of IP specialty law firms have been greatly exaggerated. According to the piece, intellectual property boutiques continue to survive, despite encroachment on their turf by general-practice firms.
This is not to say, however, that everything is peachy in IP land. The article notes that Morgan & Finnegan, one prominent IP shop, “has lost 10 partners in the past year, and its overall head count is down considerably.” (We wonder if they included Jeremy Pitcock in the partner losses.)
The firm has been shedding associates and staff, too. Earlier this week, we heard from several tipsters that Morgan & Finnegan was laying off lawyers, technical and scientific advisors, and staff.
We confirmed the news with Pat Bowers, director of administration for Morgan & Finnegan. She acknowledged the layoffs (and even had the courage to use the “L” word, which many other firms shun).
The firm believes in “the importance of communication,” explained Bowers. “It’s not like we were doing it behind closed doors.” Prior to informing the affected employees, administration sent out a firm-wide email explaining that the firm was “scrutinizing our direct and indirect expenses, and looking at our staffing needs in New York and D.C.”
The affected employees were notified of the layoffs starting on Friday of last week and ending yesterday by close of business (so if you’re at the firm and haven’t heard anything, you’re in the clear). Bowers declined to provide exact numbers, citing confidentiality concerns, but said that (1) the firm “laid off less than 7 percent of attorneys and staff,” and (2) the cuts were centered on staff, not lawyers.
More details, below the fold.
The Olympics draw to a close this weekend, and soon we shall all forget how excited we were about weird sporting events like the hammer throw, the trampoline, and synchronized swimming.
Two lawyers made a good showing today in one-of-those-sports-we-barely-knew-existed-but-now-we’re-really-excited-about: the men’s Modern Pentathlon! Lithuanian attorneys Andrejus Zadneprovskis and Edvinas Krungolcas won the silver and bronze medals.
These lawyers are well-rounded guys. The Modern Pentathlon is an all-day event that involves shooting, fencing, swimming, riding, and running. From Reuters:
Modern pentathlon was designed to simulate what a soldier delivering a message under duress would go through. Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Games, created it as a test of strength, technical ability, concentration and endurance….
The idea behind the sport is that a soldier is sent to deliver a message. He faces an enemy with a gun and shoots, then duels against others with a sword, swims across a river, rides an unfamiliar horse and then runs cross-country to his destination.
Back 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
As some of you have noticed, we tend not to remark negatively on the innate physical attributes of our Legal Eagle contestants. There are several reasons for our reticence, but the most basic one is simply this: LEWW believes that prestige is beautiful. LEWW believes that every bride can look gorgeous on her special day if she has the right law degree. LEWW believes that a JD from HLS is like a great bra; it looks flimsy and has a jaw-dropping price tag, but it will support you and make you look better than you deserve.
Having made much of our reluctance to comment disparagingly about our subjects’ appearance, we’ll promptly depart from our own custom and announce that this is Hotness Disparity Week on LEWW. All of our grooms are decent-looking but undeniably average Joes, and we submit to you that all of them have married up.
See if you agree with us. Here are the couples:
Earlier today, the American Lawyer published a report detailing declining profit margins in the legal industry.
It is nice to see that somebody commissioned an entire report to figure out obvious facts like “the first half of 2008 looks very different from the previous six years” and “[t]he slowdown is hitting the most profitable firms the hardest.” In other breaking news, Britney Spears’s career has hit a bump in the road.
Instead of a simple doom-and-gloom economic report, Am Law columnist (and Biglaw banker) Dan DiPietro offers this proposed solution to all the law firm ills: fire the associates!
“There is a silver lining. A bad year (and the numbers suggest 2008 will be even more trying than 2001, when partner profits were down slightly) will enable firms to take steps that partners would resist in a good year — winnowing out unproductive lawyers and applying greater discipline to expense control.”
Partners, pundits, and others who like to play McKinsey & Co. on the weekends always suggest this form of fat cutting in tough economic times. But it is a disingenuous solution.
Read why, after the jump.
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.