Prisons

If I were sitting in a bar and a guy wearing overalls sat down next to me and said with a Southern accent, “You know, in China, rich people hire body doubles to stand in for them at criminal trials,” I’d say “shut up, you racist prick. They don’t all look alike.”

At that point the apocryphal redneck would whip out a copy of Slate (on his iPad, cause print is dead) and say “Git R done” and order a cold domestic beer while I read the Slate piece and tried to pick up pieces of my shattered mind out of my gin and tonic.

Because in China, powerful and wealthy people do in fact hire body doubles. It’s not an urban legend. It goes down often enough that the police were willing to talk about it, anonymously of course.

This is wild stuff…

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* Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one Supreme Court justice thinks that things will be back to normal at One First Street come the start of the next term, despite his colleagues’ loose lips. [National Law Journal]

* Hourly billing rates for associate are on the rise nationwide, while partner and counsel billing rates only saw modest bumps. Is Biglaw back in business, or is this just another “retention strategy”? [New York Law Journal]

* This is a really hard to believe newspaper headline: “Law firm recognizes employees have life outside of work.” Carlton Fields, what kind of gypsy voodoo magic spells are you casting? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

* Another day, another editorial about the “irretrievably broken” state of legal education in our country. But the ABA admins needn’t worry their oblivious little heads, because people will keep applying. [New York Times]

* And in today’s disturbing law school debtor news, Jason Bohn’s charge was upgraded to first-degree murder after a DA announced via indictment that Bohn allegedly intended to torture his victim. [New York Post]

* “Quite frankly, these are the actions of a dirty old man.” You can look, but never lick: it’s not really a good thing when a judge uses a sentence like this to describe an attorney’s alleged client relations skills. [CBS News]

* For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball fraud game. Lenny Dykstra pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud among a potpourri of other felony counts, and he’ll now face up to 20 years in prison. [CNN]

Yep, you read that correctly. A vampire high priest, who just so happens to be an inmate serving a life sentence in Texas, has lost a civil rights case on appeal to the Fifth Circuit. Apparently prison officials weren’t allowing him to perform the ritualistic rites involved in the practice of his vampiric religion.

If this had happened on an episode of True Blood, you can bet your ass that this sh*t would not stand in Bon Temps….

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* The Ninth Circuit denies en banc rehearing in the Prop 8 case. Can we please hurry up and get this thing in front of the Supreme Court already? [Ninth Circuit via Metro Weekly]

* Even more law schools are shrinking their class sizes. Do we have a trend on our hands yet? [Crain's Cleveland Business]

* AOL’s attorneys at DLA Piper sent a nastygram to a Maryland blogger, alleging intellectual property infringement, based on the blog’s aggregation. Because you know, AOL/the Huffington Post has never aggregated anything. [Maryland Juice]

Laura Flippin

* Speaking of DLA Piper lawyers, just before she was found guilty of public intoxication, partner Laura Flippin was also accused of lying under oath by the judge in the case. In short, things did not go as well they could have. [The Flat Hat]

* Remember the law school martyr Phillip J. Closius? He may no longer be Dean of University of Baltimore Law, but he has not finished his crusade to improve the financial security of students. Keep fightin’ the good fight, Phil. [Baltimore Sun]

* Congratulations to the 15 firms that made the NLJ’s 2012 Appellate Hot List. Most are Biglaw shops, but three elite boutiques made the cut: Bancroft, Horvitz & Levy, and Kellogg Huber. [National Law Journal]

* Ever wondered what life in prison is like? Check out this podcast, in which Jeffrey Deskovic, who served 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit, is interviewed by Professor Zachary Shemtob (disclosure: Shemtob is Lat’s co-author and special friend). [Cruel and Unusual: A Podcast on Punishment]

* There’s a war on prison rape. I’m excited about this. I can’t wait to bang prison rape in the ass. [Simple Justice]

* Meanwhile, there’s more rape probing on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn front from a French prosecutor. [Fox News]

* On the eve of his law school graduation, a student reflects on “the most colossal f*** up of [his] life.” [Shady Nation]

* Jamie Dimon has had better months. [Dealbreaker]

* Defamation by half-truth. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The California bar results are out. Congratulations to all who passed. [State Bar of California]

* There are a lot of bones to pick with this week’s Blawg Review. [Cyberlaw Central via Blawg Review]

* California is cutting prisons. That’s step one. Step two is to shuttle all the prisoners to Los Angeles. Step three involves a series of earthquakes… [McClatchy]

* Private equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman isn’t into 50 Shades of Grey (affiliate link). But David Lat apparently is. I dunno, if you are going to bother with that kind of stuff, you might as well hit Brazzers and get it over with. [Dealbreaker]

* I’m all for making sure that the Violence Against Women reauthorization prevents violence against women, not annoyances against women, or criticism against women. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Speaking of violence against women, I never blame the victim, but dating gun-toting dumbasses rarely helps matters. [Legal Blog Watch]

* @chrisdanzig: Stop bullying Obama @realjonlovitz. Leave him alone. Leave Obama alone! [Huffington Post]

* What do Vladimir Putin and former Dewey partner John Altorelli allegedly share in common? Are you sure you want to know? [New York Post]

Oh, I remember the first time somebody threatened to throw me in jail because I didn’t pay a debt. I was young and stupid, but not ignorant and fearful. I said, “Debtor’s prisons were outlawed!” (I didn’t know that from law school, I knew that from AP History.) The debt collector stammered and said, “Well, we can still get you in trouble.” Since I was already “in trouble” what with $150,000 in principal outstanding, I instructed the collector to contact me via mail and hung up.

Debt collectors are like bullies: punch them in the mouth, and well, they don’t “go away,” but they stop getting all up in your face.

Eventually, a summons came in the mail, and I responded, and yada yada, I’m still not in jail. The key is that “I responded.” I’ve made a lot of mistakes with my debts over the years, but I haven’t made a lot of mistakes with “courts.” See, courts matter. Debt collectors with hard-ons do not.

Keep that in mind as your read this story about a cancer survivor who got thrown in jail after failing to pay a medical debt that she didn’t even actually owe….

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The Supreme Court handed down a new ruling today, taking a controversial stance in a (literally) sensitive area. The decision should make would-be criminals across the country wince.

In a split decision (is there any other kind these days?), the justices decided that law enforcement is justified in strip-searching anyone, for any offense, before admitting them to jail.

Understandably, a lot of people are butthurt about the 5–4 ruling…

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What is this, I don't even...

* It looks like the Biglaw buzzwords for 2012 are “challenge” and “uncertainty.” Good! Great! Grand! Wonderful! Speaking of uncertainty, where are the spring bonuses? [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Kodak got the go-ahead for a $950M bankruptcy financing deal. Just think, if you had taken pictures using a film camera instead of a digital one, we probably wouldn’t be telling you about this. [Bloomberg]

* Rod Blagojevich will report to prison for his 14-year sentence on March 15, and he hopes to do so with “dignity” (i.e., no cameras). But you can be damn sure he’ll have his hair did, just in case. [Chicago Tribune]

* To be fair, the University of Maryland School of Law doesn’t really have time to worry about that parking job. The university might have to pay up to $500K in legal fees thanks to a lawsuit filed by the school’s environmental law clinic. [National Law Journal]

* Duncan Law’s got 99 problems, and another lawsuit is one. In addition to the school’s troubles with the ABA, a law student is suing because the school “negligently allowed her to enroll.” [Knoxville News Sentinel]

* George Seward, the founding partner of Seward & Kissel, has died at the age of 101. RIP. [Businessweek]

Stephen McDaniel

This should not come as a great shock, since he’s been in jail since July, but Stephen Mark McDaniel has been indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Lauren Giddings. McDaniel and Giddings graduated earlier this year from Mercer Law School, where they were classmates, and they were also neighbors in the Barristers Hall apartment complex in Macon, Georgia.

In addition to being charged with the Giddings murder, McDaniel has been indicted for other creepy crimes….

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