Rank Stupidity

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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Periodically, we catch wind of bizarre lawsuit filings, usually pro se, and seemingly from the the minds of people with serious mental problems. We don’t write about these lawsuits, because presumably they never go anywhere. They are not newsworthy; they are just sad.

Thus, it is quite unusual to come across a 30-page district court ruling devoted entirely to addressing far-fetched Da Vinci Code-style conspiracy allegations.

The judges handling this case must go home every night and weep while drinking Jameson from the bottle. I do not envy them.

In our Benchslap of the Day, let’s watch a federal magistrate judge shoot down complaints that his judicial colleague is part of a “large, amorphous conspiracy” — like a boss…

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The nameplate is like only $40, not that big of a crime, but what an idiot. He puts it on Facebook.

Al Lamberti, Broward County Sheriff, commenting on the pictorial evidence supplied by Steven Mulhall, a young Florida man who stands accused of stealing Judge Michael Orlando’s courtroom nameplate.

Ex-judge of the day, David E. Barrett.


I don’t even know where to begin with this, so let’s just play it straight:

Last week, a now ex-judge in Georgia pulled out a handgun during a bond hearing, pretended to hand it to an alleged rape victim who was testifying, and said she was “killing her case” and “might as well shoot” her lawyer.

What?

I wish this was a joke or a hoax story. But no, it actually happened.

Keep reading to find out who this former judge is (spoiler: it’s not Rooster Cogburn) and why he pulled his piece in court…

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No one wants to be this guy.

At any job, there are various levels of misconduct that an employee can usually get away with or at least occasionally pull off without repercussions. Like, maybe you could get away with wearing jeans even if it’s not casual Friday. You might show up a few minutes late when your boss isn’t around, or you might check Facebook. I steal cars and blog while racing down East 14th after my east coast coworkers go home. You are not supposed to do it, but hey, it happens.

Then there are things you cannot do. Period. Things that any competent employee should simply know are unacceptable.

Included in this category of utterly verboten workplace activities are watching porn during a rape trial when you’re the on-duty court clerk. The list would also include falling asleep during a youth justice hearing — when you’re the judge running the proceeding.

But some people never learn. And then they lose their jobs. And we write about it (gavel bang: Adjunct Law Prof Blog) and show you video of the sleeping judge in court…

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It’s always tempting to call people like the guy in this story the stupidest (alleged) criminal ever. But, somehow, the bar for getting arrested via internet idiocy keeps getting set lower and lower.

In the modern era, it seems that thieves and would-be murderers can’t help but gloat about their illicit activities online.

But until today, I’ve never heard of a wanted man posting on his local sheriff’s Facebook wall, commenting on a story about the fact that police were looking for him.

Wait, did I say commenting? This dude started a whole thread. You can’t make this stuff up….

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Proposed new law school at Indiana Tech. Not shown, the solitary confinment chamber for students who call professors obtuse.

Honestly, how many law schools does Indiana need? Two? Five? 317? I just want to know. I just want somebody — Peyton Manning, Mitch Daniels — to tell me how many freaking law schools are required in the great state of Indiana before its legal needs are met.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Indiana Tech is moving ahead with plans to open a new law school. Why? Because it can. The school allegedly did a feasibility study that found Indiana was “underserved” by lawyers. No intelligent person can believe it. Asking a university that wants to open a law school whether there is a need for a new law school is like asking a fat person if there is a need for more pie. Indy Tech will be the fifth law school in Indiana and the seventh within a three-hour drive of Fort Wayne. If Fort Wayne needs more access to legal education than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway needs more access to fast cars.

Oh, but Indy Tech has an ingenious way of getting use out of its soon-to-be unemployed law students. Slave legal labor for everybody at Indy Tech…

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The faculty at NYU Law are our poster children for law professors who lazily reuse old exams, instead of ripping themselves away from their largely unread law review articles long enough to write a new issue spotter.

Apparently, the school really likes being on that poster. Despite the fact that we’ve been highlighting this issue at the school since at least 2009, the faculty continues to use old exams. Students who find them enjoy an unfair advantage over students who are not skilled in the art of internet sleuthing. In fact, it seems NYU Law doesn’t even have a fully thought-out policy regarding exam reuse.

It must be a great life. Every time an NYU Law prof reuses an old exam (to the outrage of students), I have to write an entirely new post — even though the underlying issues of laziness and disregard for student concerns are the same. But if I were employed by NYU, I wouldn’t even have to go through the motions, I could just take the most recent post I wrote decrying the NYU Law faculty doing this, change the dates, and go back to watching the Australian Open on television. Does anybody know if NYU is hiring?

Actually, the latest example really is deserving of its own post. Because this time an NYU Law Vice Dean got into the mix and exposed a disturbing lack of understanding about the problem…

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Rapper or criminal mastermind?

I am constantly amazed at how dimwitted some criminals can be. We have covered them in these pages before, from the guy who left evidence of his violent plans open on his desktop, to the robber who reached out to his victim via Facebook.

On Thursday in Pennsylvania, a federal jury convicted Anthony D. Elonis on four counts of threatening his estranged wife, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Berks County Sheriff’s Department, a kindergarten class, and an FBI agent. The vehicle for his litany of threats was none other than Facebook.

The case goes to show that producers of cool heist movies like Ocean’s 11 or The Italian Job have no idea of the context in which your run-of-the-mill petty criminal exists.

What did Elonis threaten to do? Some pretty bad stuff, actually. Keep reading to see why it is lucky he’s no criminal mastermind….

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Before we get to the meat of this story, let’s quickly state the obvious: if you plan to commit a violent crime, you probably should not post details about it on Facebook or Craigslist. If you simply must tell the Interwebs of your devious agenda, it’s probably best to close the incriminating window ASAP, so visitors to your home do not see it on your the PC in your living room.

Glad we got that out of the way. Today, we have another fun dumb criminal story for you. It even comes complete with a thought-provoking judicial ruling. Did you know that if a police officer simply moves a computer mouse or presses a key to wake a computer up from sleep mode, that it constitutes a Fourth Amendment search? Well, neither did a Wisconsin police officer who was investigating a man who allegedly threatened to shoot up a shopping mall (gavel bang: Legal Blog Watch).

More on the case, US v. Michael Musgrove, plus Musgrove’s, original thug life Craigslist posting after the jump….

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