Rudeness

A game that nobody wants to play.

Even though serving on a jury is considered an important civic duty, people in this country seem to loathe the mere idea of being forced to do it. After all, because of jury duty, people have to miss work — hell, some people even get fired because of it.

And even though jury duty is something that is required by law, instead of just doing it, people would rather make jokes about others being too dumb to get out of it.

One judge in Indiana is well aware of that fact, and he’s on a mission to get people to serve willingly, lest they be forced to face some embarrassing consequences….

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Prosecutable hate speech in 17th-century Massachusetts included calling people “dogs,” “rogues” and even “queens” (though the last referred to prostitution); magistrates took serious umbrage at being labeled “poopes” (“dolts”).

John McWhorter, the noted linguist, in his New York Times review this past weekend of Speaking American: A History of English in the United States.

(Additional fun facts about language and the law — specifically, facts about statutes criminalizing oral sex — after the jump.)

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Being a student at Penn State has to be about as close as you can come to being in a World War I foxhole. Their reputation is just getting bombed from all sides. Right now, kids should just be trying to keep their heads down and ride this out.

But in the PSU Law foxhole, somebody just laid an egg.

Apparently students at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law have already been banned from a few area hotels for drunken and inappropriate behavior this fall. And now a student is throwing around a slur on the school list-serv.

It’s not happy times in Happy Valley…

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If you have watched political campaigns all of your life, or if you are just a student of modern political history, you’ll notice that the poor are rarely talked about on the campaign trail. We can talk about the rich (or at least our so-called envy of them), and the middle class is like the pretty girl in school who thinks she’s well-liked but really everybody just wants to screw. But you rarely hear candidates talk anymore about any kind of national commitment or shared responsibility to help the poor and destitute. (John Edwards tried for a minute, but… see screwing analogy above.)

Our politicians apparently concern themselves with helping only those people who have “worked hard” and “played by the rules.” We have Reagan to thank for that.

But what about the “undeserving” poor? What about the lazy, the shiftless, the ignorant masses yearning to just get by? Is it right that we consign them to backbreaking poverty simply because they don’t vote and they’re easy to pick on? I went to Catholic school just long enough to learn that we’re supposed to have compassion for all of God’s children, not just the people whom it’s easy to put into a campaign commercial.

I’m just talking, of course. Other than giving a dollar to the occasional panhandler, I’m unwilling to get any skin in the game to actually help the truly disadvantaged in this country. Why? Well, I don’t want to end up getting taken advantage of, like the woman who let homeless people stay in her house for Christmas and now can’t get them to leave….

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Gregory Berry

As mentioned briefly yesterday, a New York state court judge just dismissed the celebrated lawsuit of Berry v. Kasowitz Benson. As you may recall, a former Kasowitz first-year associate named Gregory Berry, who entered the legal profession after “conquering Silicon Valley,” sued his former firm for over $77 million. In his kitchen sink of a complaint, filed pro se, Berry tossed in some 14 causes of action, including wrongful termination, fraud, and breach of contract.

It appears that Berry’s “superior legal mind” failed to impress Justice Eileen Bransten of New York Supreme Court. Ruling from the bench, she dismissed his entire case, with prejudice.

But that’s not all. Her Honor was displeased when Greg Berry walked out of her courtroom before the hearing was over, while she was still putting her ruling on the record. So later this month, he’ll have to appear before Justice Bransten again and explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt….

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The blogosphere has been buzzing since we first wrote about Ice Miller attorney Courtney King’s alleged criminal activity. In case you missed our coverage, King was arrested after allegedly uttering, to the police, the words first made famous by rapper Eight Set: “Google me” (sans the “bitch”).

King, whom we recognized with Lawyer of the Day honors, was charged with alcohol intoxication, assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and terroristic threatening. She allegedly stated the following to the police, immediately prior to her arrest:

“You are going to… die. I’m a lawyer. You can Google me. You are dead. I work at a law firm in Indianapolis.”

People have quibbled over King’s attractiveness, but more importantly, they’ve speculated as to whether there was, in fact, any actual violence on King’s part leading up to her arrest. Was King overcharged? Was race a factor in her arrest? Is she on “possible probation” with the firm, or was she fired? All of this, and more, after the jump….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Google Me, B***h: The Real Deal on Courtney King’s Arrest”

Here at Above the Law, we know a thing or two about how lawyers should deal with the police. Incidentally, we also know how lawyers should not deal with law enforcement officers. And if you truly value your job as an attorney, it’s best not to mouth off to the cops, or to threaten them in any way, shape, or form.

But Courtney King, a rather attractive attorney with Ice Miller, apparently didn’t get the memo. Last week, after allegedly downing a few too many shots of liquid courage, King got into a stand off with police that may have iced her nascent legal career….

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UVA is a hell of a law school.

So, I finally caught Your Body On Drugs, the Discovery channel program narrated by Robin Williams in which scientists make people who are high on drugs perform various tasks. Frankly, I thought it would be a little bit better — like, American Gladiator, only with people on cocaine instead of steroids.

Anyway, there’s this part where the cokehead is saying cokehead things, and Robin Williams says something like “cocaine gives the users an inflated sense of self-confidence.” Then the cokehead puts together a bookshelf by balancing the wood in a general cube shape instead of actually screwing things in; it looks great but can’t actually hold any books. At the time, I thought, “Man, this is like going to UVA Law School.”

Oh, I kid, UVA Law students. But between the alleged criminal activity of current students, alleged tall tales told by former students, and all the popped collars, you gotta ask if a little humility might do the campus good?

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Sometimes silence is golden.

The executive editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson — who once worked as a legal journalist, for Steve Brill at the American Lawyer — recently issued A Note to Our Readers About Comments, in which she explained various changes to the Times’s commenting system. We thought we’d follow in the Gray Lady’s footsteps and announce a tweak of our own to the Above the Law comments.

Comments and online anonymity are hot topics right now, both here and abroad (e.g., India). Writer Katie Roiphe just mused about the angry anonymous commenter. Privacy lawyer Christopher Wolf recently argued, in the New York Times, that websites should “consider requiring either the use of real names (or registration with the online service) in circumstances, such as the comments section for news articles, where the benefits of anonymous posting are outweighed by the need for greater online civility.” Many Times readers disagreed, defending the value and importance of anonymous speech online.

In light of these conflicting concerns — civility, privacy, free expression — let’s turn our attention to the ATL comments….

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Of course not! But the headline got your attention, didn’t it? The notion of Judge Richard Posner as being anything other than a genius will certainly make people sit up and take notice. There’s a reason why there’s a Facebook group called Richard Posner for Philosopher King (of which I am a proud member).

It should be noted, however, that Judge Posner’s opinion in Gonzalez-Servin v. Ford Motor Co. was not 100 percent perfect. It initially contained some infelicitous wording — which has since been fixed.

Let’s look at the language that was perhaps imprecise….

UPDATE (4 PM): Additional comment from Judge Posner, added after the jump.

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