Seattle swingers.jpgWhere is the Institute for Justice when you need it? Or maybe the Pacific Legal Foundation?
A libertarian public interest organization needs to defend two victims of intrusive government regulation. From the Seattle Times:

Regan “Draco” Lane-Smith and “Naughty” Nonah Elliston outfitted their six-bedroom rental house with 15 mattresses, bondage crosses and sex swings. They built elaborate sets in their backyard for taking erotic photos. And they promoted the Hardwood Cabin online.

Up to 60 guests at a time came to mingle, sunbathe nude by the pool and have sex with fellow swingers and fetishists, Elliston said. Parties were frequent enough that the couple’s laundry service was cycling through 50 bedsheets a week.

But the couple shut down the sex club last month when they were cited for running a business without a license and threatened with fines of up to $513 a day.

So it was the commercial component that got them in trouble. A post-bar-exam orgy, or some German prison role playing, would have been just fine.
There are legal connections to this story in addition to the licensing and zoning issues. Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Needed: Pro Bono Representation for the ‘Hardwood Cabin’”

Carl McGee Carl Stanley McGee Governor Deval Patrick Above the Law blog.jpgFor the record, here’s some follow-up on two Bay State lawyers previously discussed in these pages, who have been cleared of the charges against them. At least to some extent.
First, remember Carl Stanley McGee (right), who was arrested after being accused of going down on a 15-year-old boy? Earlier this week, Florida prosecutors decided to drop the case.
Apparently the teen had trouble identifying McGee. But maybe he also learned that it’s bad form to complain about getting a BJ. Unless teeth are involved.
Second, remember the handsome Gary Zerola (below right), named a “Most Eligible Bachelor” by People magazine, and accused of rape and attempted rape by three different women? One of the cases against him went to trial, and he was acquitted (back in January; we missed the news when it came out).
Gary Zerola 2 Most Eligible Bachelor rape Above the Law blog.jpgA second trial is currently underway. In that case, as reported in today’s Boston Herald, Zerola’s defense team argues that the victim wanted to shakedown their client for $150,000.
The third incident, which is the one that we wrote about, has not yet gone to trial.
Sex Case Against MA Guv’s Aide Dropped [AP]
‘Most eligible bachelor’ acquitted in attempted rape case [Boston Globe]
Zerola team: Alleged victim sought $150G [Boston Herald]
Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Carl Stanley McGee
Most Eligible Bachelor Becomes Considerably Less Eligible

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)”

John Hagler Judge John B Hagler Above the Law blog.jpgLast month, Judge John B. Hagler, a state court judge in Tennessee, stepped down from the bench. Here’s why, from the AP:

A Tennessee judge resigned last month after making a recording of fantasies so lurid that when the tape fell into the hands of the police and FBI, they thought they were listening to a torture session and believed it might be linked to a murder case.

Police have cleared the judge in the murder case. But a hearing started yesterday over whether they must release the tape.
So, pray tell, what exactly is this tape about?

“It sounded like someone being tortured,” Chattanooga police Sgt. Alan Franks testified Wednesday, offering the first details of what is on the tape.

Franks said the recording was investigated in relation to a still-unsolved 1997 murder. He gave no other details on the murder case.

“The content was so shocking. I have been a police officer for 24 years,” Franks said before his testimony was cut off by an objection.

Well! What does Judge Hagler have to say for himself?

Hagler said that he had done nothing wrong but that the recording had caused great embarrassment to friends, family and the courts. Hagler, who is 65 and married, has been a circuit judge in Cleveland, Tenn., since 1990 and served three terms as president of the Tennessee Trial Judges Association.

“The description of it as containing ‘graphic fantasies’ … is an accurate and sufficient description and all any decent person would want to hear of it,” the judge said in a statement.

Should we be troubled by the trend of excessively scrutinizing the unorthodox sexual practices of judges? See also Judge Herman Thomas, aka the Spanking Judge, who resigned a few months ago.
Aren’t judges entitled to be a little kinky too? If judges have to worry about their personal lives being placed under the microscope, will the state and federal benches lose out on potentially talented jurists, who just happen to have a little sumthin sumthin going on under those robes?
Update: More coverage, from the ABA Journal.
Tenn. judge resigns over fantasies tape [Associated Press]
Ex-Judge Fights Release of Lurid Audiotape [ABA Journal]

Okay, she didn’t quite say that. But, for the record, the woman accused of groping Santa Clause denies the allegations, claiming that she never ever sat on his lap:

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if he was confused, it was a false report,” Sandrama Lamy, 33, said this morning.

Lamy said she was window shopping at the mall Saturday with a friend when she decided to get a picture with a man playing Santa Claus.

A woman — apparently working with the mall Santa — made a comment after the picture was snapped, Lamy said.

groping grope molest molesting Santa Clause Above the Law blog.jpg“I did not sit on his lap. A woman there said ‘Be careful, that’s my husband.’ I said ‘What does that have to do with the picture?'” Lamy said. “That’s all I said, and I left.”…

“Why would I do this? There were so many people there. If he (Santa) needed a few extra bucks I would have given it to him,” Lamy said. “I’ve never been involved in a crime or anything. This is shocking to me.”

Selected amusing comments from readers of the Danbury News-Times, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Accused Groper to Santa Claus: You Wish”

groping grope molest molesting Santa Clause Above the Law blog.jpgWhat kind of sick society do we live in? From the Danbury News-Times (via Drudge):

A 33-year-old woman was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault Saturday after allegedly groping a man playing Santa Claus at the Danbury Fair mall.

Sandrama Lamy, 33, of Danbury, is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, according to Danbury Detective Lt. Thomas Michael.

She sounds like a total…. ho ho ho.

Details leading up to the alleged fondling are sketchy. “I don’t know what the deal was. It was just bizarre,” the mall Santa told a reporter…

The mall Santa told police that Lamy touched him inappropriately while sitting on his lap. “The security officer at the mall said Santa Claus has been sexually assaulted,” Michael said.

Put Ms. Lamy on the “naughty” side of the ledger.

2007 has not been a great year for mall Santas. Earlier this month in Missoula, Mont., a mall Santa was assaulted with a pumpkin pie. Meanwhile, a department store Santa in Australia claims he lost his job earlier this month because he said “Ho, ho, ho.” (His bosses had asked him to say “Hi, hi, hi.”)

“Santa Tim” Connaghan is the president of and teaches hundreds of people a year how to be Santas. He said the Danbury Fair mall incident, if true, is one of kind. Santas usually have to worry about kids tugging beards and teens throwing pennies from the mall rafters.

“I’ve had some very nice ladies sit on my lap,” Connaghan said.

Over at the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Daniel Schwartz offers an analysis of potential employer liability under this fact pattern.
Sexual Harassment of Santa Claus – What’s An Employer To Do? [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]
Police say woman groped Santa [Danbury News-Times]

Samuel Kent Judge Samuel B Kent Above the Law blog.jpgAs regular ATL readers will recall, Judge Samuel B. Kent (S.D. Texas) is currently on leave from the bench (although still collecting his $165,200 salary). The Fifth Circuit suspended him after allegations of what it described as sexual harassment.
But Judge Kent’s troubles may not be over yet. From the Galveston County Daily News (via How Appealing):

A woman who has accused U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of unwanted sexual touching will have her case reheard by a disciplinary panel of the 5th Judicial Circuit, her attorney, Rusty Hardin, said late Monday.

Late that afternoon, Hardin gave the panel summaries of interviews his team did of 20 people who have had contact with Kent. Hardin claims those interviews show that Kent has misbehaved toward women since shortly after he was named to the federal bench in Galveston in the early 1990s.

Hardin said he and his client are asking that the panel refer the matter to the Judicial Council of the United States with a recommendation that Kent be impeached.

Additional discussion, plus a reader poll, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Samuel Kent: A Bigger Horndog Than Bill Clinton?”

Mannequin Movie Above the Law blog.jpgStatutory interpretation is fun! Check out this wacky fact pattern, perfect fodder for a criminal law final exam, from Court TV News (via Blogonaut):

In a 5-0 ruling, the [South Dakota Supreme Court] overturned the conviction of Michael James Plenty Horse for indecent exposure because he didn’t attempt to arouse others when he tried to have sex with the mannequin in a dark, closed room at a YMCA in Sioux Falls, S.D.

On Nov. 14, 2005, Plenty Horse, then 19, went to the YMCA’s Alumni Room, which housed memorabilia and photos of local high school students, including a mannequin wearing a band uniform, on the second floor of the building.

Once inside the empty room, he closed the door, turned off the lights, took the mannequin over to a desk and began trying to have sex with it, according to court documents.

A security guard opened the closed door, turned on the lights and saw Plenty Horse on top of the partially undressed mannequin, his pants down and a wadded piece of paper in his hand, court documents said.

Plenty Horse immediately rolled off the mannequin and began adjusting his pants when he saw the security guard, according to the ruling. When questioned by police, he said he had not seen his girlfriend in a year.

Grounds for a temporary insanity defense? Wisely, his lawyers took a different approach:

Plenty Horse’s attorney argued throughout the legal fight that, while what the young man did with the mannequin would likely offend people, he did not “flash” his genitals “in hopes of being observed, thereby gratifying himself sexually.”

The defense succeeded in getting him off:

“Nothing establishes that his conduct was done with the specific intent to generate sexual arousal or gratification by the act of publicly exposing, displaying or offer to the public view, his genitals,” the ruling said. “Therefore, the defendant’s act, lewd though it may have been, does not fall within the purview of the indecent exposure statute.”

Good stuff. You can read the full opinion here (PDF, via How Appealing).
Sex with a mannequin? S.D. Supreme Court says keep it behind closed doors [Court TV via Blogonaut]
State v. Plenty Horse [Supreme Court of South Dakota (PDF) via How Appealing]

It seems like you can’t throw a web cam these days without hitting a lawyer trying to use the internet to sexually prey on our kids. Reference recent lawyers of the day here and here, for just a couple of examples. And remember that prosecutor in Texas that blew his head off because To Catch a Predator was coming? Well, here’s another one:

An attorney arrested in an Internet child-sex sting in the basement of the Ohio Statehouse thought he was going to meet a 15-year-old girl he had met online, authorities said.
Barry Mentser, 48, a former children’s services lawyer, was taken into custody Wednesday moments after the police officer who conducted the sting testified two floors above in favor of a bill that would increase penalties for such offenses.
Lt. Jeff Braley, a detective from Hamilton Township in Warren County in southwest Ohio, said he posed as the girl to set up a Statehouse meeting with the man.

[FOX News]
Wow, the Statehouse, really? Is that the hot hangout spot for the teenagers in Columbus? Perhaps Mentser should have been a little suspicious.
What’s the deal with all these lawyers getting busted for this? Is there something about the legal profession that drives lawyers to this in higher than usual numbers? Or do we just hear about all the lawyers that get busted because everybody hates lawyers and is looking for any excuse to ridicule them? We suspect it’s the latter, but we’re still given a little pause by it all.
A little more discussion after the jump.
Attorney Seeking 15-Year-Old Girl He Met Online Arrested in Sex Sting at Ohio Statehouse [FOX News]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Barry Mentser”

Robbie Meredith Levin Robbie Levin Above the Law blog.jpgThis “news” is from last week. But we did want to mention it briefly, just for the record, since ATL strives to be a fairly comprehensive compilation of lawyer misbehavior. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Robin Meredith “Robbie” Levin, 36, of Jonesboro is charged with felony sexual exploitation of children and misdemeanor criminal attempt to contribute to the delinquency of a minor and electronically furnishing obscene materials to a minor. He faces 10 years in prison and disbarment if convicted of the felony….

Clayton County police Chief Jeff Turner said the alleged victim is the 16-year-old daughter of an employee in the county’s Indigent Defense Administration which has assigned court-appointed cases to Levin. The girl told her mother that she’d been having sexually-explicit conversations with Levin through the Internet. Turner said the girl reported the contact because she was afraid of where it was leading.

An undercover officer took on the identity of the girl to continue conversations with Levin, Turner said. The Internet contact soon included Levin performing a sexual act through a Web cam, Turner said. Levin was arrested Tuesday when he showed up at the Steak and Shake [sic] on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow to meet the officer posing as the girl, Turner said.

It’s a surprising turn of events, considering that Levin is described as a “good guy and a great lawyer” who has “represented several high-profile cases, including a gang member accused in the July 2004 shooting death of 4-year-old Travon Wilson.” Then again, it’s not inconsistent with other alleged actions of lawyers in the news lately.
(Also surprising: that Levin looks much better in a prison jumpsuit. Who would have thought that orange could be so flattering?)
Lawyer charged with sexual exploitation of colleague’s daughter [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Attorney Arrested for E-Mails to Teen []
Attorney Held in Internet Sex Case []

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