Ty Oliver McDowell, a medical technologist, thought he was fulfilling a Wyoming woman’s “rape fantasy” after responding to her ad on Craigslist. In reality, Jebidiah Stipe, the woman’s ex-boyfriend, had posted the ad in a twisted act of revenge on his ex-girlfriend. From the Associated Press:
Blonigen’s office has charged Ty Oliver McDowell, 26, with three counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary. Jebidiah James Stipe, 27, a Marine based in Twentynine Palms, Calif., is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault.
We’re not sure if this was posted in Women Seeking Men or Casual Encounters, but it wasn’t in Erotic Services, which no longer exists. The ad sought “a real aggressive man with no concern for women,” and included the victim’s photo. The woman saw the ad two days after it was posted and asked that it be taken down, but not before McDowell saw it….
Your Above the Law editors spent Sunday afternoon watching a group of talented players in a high-stakes battle. A veteran of the field locked horns with a newcomer.
No, we’re not talking about the Vikings-Saints game. We saw James Spader, David Alan Grier and Kerry Washington play lawyers in a matinee performance of David Mamet’s Race, which opened on Broadway last month.
Spader and Grier play Jack Lawson and Henry Brown, the name partners of Lawson & Brown, a high-profile criminal defense firm. Kerry Washington plays Susan, a fresh-from-law-school associate who is new to the firm. A powerful and rich white man accused of raping a black woman drops by, hoping to have the firm take his case.
The short play — it has two acts, but comes in at under two hours — takes place in the firm’s war room, a conference room lined with books that will look familiar to ATL readers. The Lawson & Brown attorneys discuss whether to take the case and what their strategy should be.
Obviously, we think the legal world is an exciting place, and we are always thrilled to see lawyers get dramatic treatment. Unless the treatment is terrible.
This treatment was impressive. Perhaps it helped to have two lawyers, Peggy Hill and Georgetown law professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz (Lat’s law school classmate), as producers.
Check out our reviews, after the jump.
Women of Switzerland, lock up your daughters. Roman Polanski has been granted bail, after a court approved his bail offer of $4.5 million. (For now, he’s still in jail; his release date has not been set.)
Once released, Polanski will be under house arrest. So, good parents of Switzerland, maybe there’s no need to lock up your daughters. Just don’t let them anywhere near Polanski’s ski chalet in Gstaad.
Getting released on bail is a nice result for Polanski, since it was widely expected that he’d remain stuck in the pokey. Perhaps he was represented by the Zurich office of Lindeman, Alvarado, & Frye? (Gavel bang: commenter #16.)
We suspect that ATL readers are displeased by this development. In a reader poll from September, almost three quarters of you expressed support for continuing to pursue and prosecute Polanski.
How does writer-turned-kinda-lawyer Elizabeth Wurtzel feel about all of this?
We’ve already mentioned the recent arrest of acclaimed film director Roman Polanski (pictured at right, with uber-hottie Adrien Brody). But it’s a slow news day controversial, so we’d like to give you a chance to discuss it in more depth.
Over at the WSJ Law Blog, Ashby Jones has a nice write-up. He explains the background:
The Oscar-winning film director was arrested on Sunday in Zurich on a 31-year-old warrant issued in the U.S. for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski was arrested, at the request of the United States, as he jetted into Switzerland to collect an award for his life’s work.
Local police arrested Polanski at the airport upon his arrival in Zurich, where he was to receive a lifetime-achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival. Polanski was jailed pending a decision on whether to extradite him to the U.S., according to the Swiss Justice Ministry….
Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 after he pleaded guilty to having had sexual intercourse with girl — the allegation was that he gave the girl alcohol and part of a quaalude before raping her. Since then, he has lived in France, where he was born. French authorities refused to extradite him to the U.S., claiming that his crime didn’t fall under those covered by treaties between the two countries.
According to ABC News, which obtained comment from Polanski’s French lawyer, the director plans to fight extradition.
Should the authorities keep pursuing Polanski? Some pros and cons, plus a reader poll, after the jump.
UPDATE (3/12/11): Douglas Wacker was acquitted of the charges discussed below — please see the update at the end of this post.
One University of San Diego Law School student isn’t worrying about deferrals. He’s worrying about defense strategies. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
A 30-year-old Marine Corps captain will face a court-martial Feb. 8 on rape and other charges involving three University of San Diego students in April 2007, a judge ruled today.
At the time of the alleged crimes, Capt. Douglas S. Wacker was on unpaid leave from the military to pursue a law degree at the university and on a spring break trip to New Orleans with the three alleged victims.
So not a very fun spring break trip for those San Diego law students.
According to the Union-Tribune, the New Orleans D.A. and a USD administrative board both looked into the allegations and decided not to pursue them, even though, in the opinion of one USD student, Wacker’s a “creeper”:
This guy was a 3L last year and was on the moot court board. A lot of people thought he was a real creeper.
Wacker might well be a “creeper,” whatever that means, but whether he’s a rapist is yet to be determined. The University of San Diego won’t be giving him a degree until that’s sorted out though. The University’s message to students, AND an update (analysis from a lawyer and former Marine as to Wacker’s fate), after the jump.
We’ve covered the legislative twists and turns of same-sex marriage fairly closely here at ATL. But there was one notable court case we missed back in March.
We thought Dr. Li-Ann Thio’s description of anal sex as “shoving a straw up your nose to drink” was graphic, but this article by the Register on attempted same-sex female marital rape is even more explicit:
A Massachusetts woman has appeared in court on a domestic assault and battery rap after allegedly attempting to impregnate her wife with a plastic syringe containing her brother’s sperm.
Stephanie K Lighten, 26, of Pittsfield, was reportedly “all liquored up” when she made unwelcome advances towards her other half, 33-year-old Jennifer Lighten. Jennifer explained to officers that Stephanie “had been talking about trying to impregnate her for some time”, and that she’d accordingly armed herself with a “turkey baster and her brother’s semen in a sealed container”.
According to Lez Get Real, there were no rape charges per Jennifer’s request, just a domestic assault and battery charge.
Apparently these lovebirds were able to put the turkey baster incident behind them. We checked in with the Central Berkshire District Court and found out the case was dismissed in April. US woman attacks missus with sperm-filled syringe [Register]
Pop quiz: You are a local prosecutor, and you’ve obtained pictures of an alleged rape. The pictures show the alleged violation taking place — the victim and the alleged assailant — as well as other teenagers drinking and partying. You should:
(a) Use the pictures as evidence when you prosecute the rapist.
(b) Put the pictures in a file and never look at them again (if you determine that the pictures show consensual sex).
(c) Do not charge the alleged rapist, but show the pictures to parents in your community.
As we’ve previously noted, when it comes to disputes between lawyers and their former firms, there are several sides to every story. For example, compare Yolanda Young’s claims against Covington & Burling with the firm’s response (PDF).
We try to cover both sides of these controversies. Having previously covered Roofiegate — aka Moor v. Bingham McCutchen, a complaint filed by ex-associate Michelle Moor against the firm, alleging that she was slipped a date rape drug at the firm’s holiday party — we now bring you this update.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has dismissed Michelle Moor’s complaint:
Based upon the Commission’s investigation, the Commission is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes a violation of the statutes. This does not certify that the Respondent is in compliance with the statutes. No finding is made as to any other issues that might be construed as having been raised by this complaint.
Details, plus a link to the Commission’s ruling, after the jump.
* I’m still waiting for somebody to give me one good reason for the third year of law school. Anyone? All of my loan repayment checks say, “For 1L year only.” (Yes. The vast majority of them bounce). [The Shark]
* What to watch for during today’s associate video conference at Heller Ehrman. [Heller Highwater]
A 16-year-old girl posted a cry for help on YouTube two weeks ago. She was allegedly drugged and raped by a 23-year-old man. In the video, she does not name the rapist, but instead focuses on her disappointment that the Florida state attorney’s office refused to prosecute the case. CNN picked up on the story this week. Their take is that young people are using social networking sites to talk about sexual assault. From a legal perspective, we think using YouTube as a forum to criticize the justice system is the more interesting aspect. CNN touches on that as well:
But counselors said survivors are going to look wherever they can to find help and comfort, particularly when they don’t get it through the court system.
Fewer than 5 percent of reported cases in Florida make it to a prosecutor’s office, Dritt said. Whether because of lack of forensic evidence or because many are he said/she said accounts, rape cases can be very difficult to try.
“What you hear from every rape crisis center from Pensacola to Key West is that there are hardly ever any prosecutions,” she said. “Most sexual violence is acquaintance rape, and unfortunately, a lot of juries still think that if a victim had a relationship with their attacker, then they cannot be raped by that person.”
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In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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