Don Imus Donald Imus nappy headed ho Above the Law blog.jpgThere has been some discussion already, but here’s a dedicated thread for a topic that there’s no shortage of opinions on: Rutgers basketball player Kia Vaughn’s defamation lawsuit against radio host Don Imus.
Thus far, reactions seem to be similar. From our tipster:

It seems like a likely loser, because I don’t see a false statement of fact. I don’t think anyone really believes Imus was trying to impute unchastity to the Rutgers basketball team (i.e., calling them prostitutes); rather, he was making a really inappropriate and racist joke, and everyone understood it as such.

Nevertheless, although it’s a legal loser, I predict Imus will settle as a gesture of goodwill. Perhaps a scholarship will be set up.

Professor Ann Althouse is dubious:

It’s hard not to be distracted by Imus’s large pile of money. Would it kill him to share? But I’d hate to think one could win defamation suits on a theory like this.

David Nieporent concurs:

Imus’s comments might have been nasty and uncalled for, but calling someone a ‘nappy headed ho’ is not defamatory unless it is interpreted as an actual accusation that the person is a prostitute.

Fine, the claim based on “ho” may be a no-go. But what about the allegation of nappy-headedness? As one commenter notes: “[A]ll of the women on the Rutgers team had straightened hair.”
Good point. And to some people — e.g., Glamour editors — alleging that someone has nappy hair is defamatory per se.
Don Imus Sued by Rutgers Basketball Player [ABC News]
Rutgers basketball player sues Imus [AP via MSNBC]
“Don Imus referred to my client as an unchaste woman. That was and is a lie.” [Althouse]
Imus in the Courtroom, Update [Overlawyered]

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges associate salary Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgIn case you’re wondering what happened to the litigation support guy at Quinn Emanuel, who sent around an office-wide email reprimanding an associate for allegedly rude treatment, here’s an update:

The lit support guy got his walking papers almost immediately. The litigation associate to whom he directed the email was baffled by the entire event.

Apparently, he just told the guy that there was a mistake and that it needed to be fixed ASAP. Knowing this associate pretty well, I say it’s pretty inconceivable that he would treat someone like a “dog,” or even unprofessionally.

So maybe the associate didn’t do anything wrong, and the litigation support guy was just a bit unhinged — a beleaguered support staff member, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Cf. The Patton Boggs librarian.
Since the litigation support guy got fired over his email, we hope he derived a lot of satisfaction from sending it.
Earlier: ATL Practice Pointers: Be Nice to the Support Staff

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges associate salary Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFirst, it’s the right thing to do. Second, if you’re mean or rude to support staff members, they might start talking trash about you behind your back — not good for your reputation at the firm. They might also handle your projects with less care or speed in the future.
If you REALLY piss them off, they might tell you off directly. And cc everyone at the firm, just to make you look like a total d-bag (even if you’re generally known as a nice guy among your colleagues).
The following email was sent out this morning by a litigation support team member at Quinn Emanuel to a litigation associate. Copied on the message were (1) the entire New York office and (2) litigation support firm-wide.

From: [Litigation Support Guy]
To: [Litigation Associate]
Cc: [New York Office]; [All Litigation Support]
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 09:15:46 -0700
Subject: Respect

[Litigation Associate],

I don’t care who you are and what your title is…

Have respect for people when you speak to them. Education should teach you such life lessons. No one is your dog. If you want a dog go buy one or visit the zoo.

Sorry I did not see your wonderful screen shot as Trial Graphix did not see it either. People are human and make mistakes and I am sure you have made a few such as not providing the Bates number for us to cross reference.

[Litigation Support Guy]

We like this cheeky message, but we have a quibble. The zoo? Dogs aren’t really exotic enough to be in the zoo. Maybe try Michael Vick’s house?
Oh, sorry — you want a live one…
(The usual rules apply. Please don’t identify either the sender or the recipient of this message. Thanks.)

Marian Shelton Bronx Family Court Judge Marian Shelton Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, she looks like a cross between Chelsea Clinton and your fourth-grade English teacher. But make no mistake about it: Judge Marian Shelton is a true judicial diva, and not to be messed with.
From the New York Daily News:

Bronx Family Court Judge Marian Shelton allegedly yelled at a lawyer to “shut up,” tossed a woman from court for wearing “inappropriate” clothing, told a Caribbean man to “take those stupid things out of your hair” and said a lawyer had “mental health issues.”…

“Go to therapy, but don’t act out in my courtroom,” Shelton allegedly snapped at one law guardian in a 2005 case.

In another instance, she allegedly mocked the accent of lawyer Mariana Toledo-Hermina.

“How is Toledo-Hermina an attorney when you cannot understand what she is saying?” Shelton allegedly said.

But Judge Shelton has her defenders. Like her husband:

In May, anticipating the [disciplinary] charges, Shelton’s husband, wealthy former Proskauer Rose lawyer Saul Cohen, took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to bash the commission.

Full-page NYT ads aren’t cheap. But then again, neither is chivalry.
Bronx judge scorn to be wild? [New York Daily News via Gothamist]

This farewell email was sent out last month by a librarian who left Patton Boggs, the prominent D.C. law firm.
It pretty much speaks for itself. We would just note that Patton Boggs, as one of the biggest lobbying shops in Washington, is chock-full of both lawyers and ex-politicians.

smiley face with bomb Above the Law blog.gifFrom: [redacted]
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2007 5:35 PM
To: *Everyone (DC); *Everyone 2445 M Street
Subject: Good-Bye Patton Boggs

After 8.5 years, today was my last day at Patton Boggs LLP.

Everyone knows what I think about the Law(yers) and politic(ian)s, so I won’t dwell onit [sic].

Farewell to everyone as I doubt we’ll meet again in this life or the next.

Good-bye Patton Boggs.

Our tipster reported her fear that the embittered ex-exployee might go postal: “I came to work the following day using the side entrance because, well, I didn’t want to take any chances….”

Wesley William Wimber pro se Montana Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgGotta love those pro se litigants in Montana — and their dads, too. From the Billings Gazette:

Bond was set at $50,000 Friday for a man accused of attacking three police officers in a county courtroom as his father reportedly egged him on.

The officers were summoned to District Court in downtown Billings on Thursday after Wesley William Wimber shouted profanities at Judge Russell Fagg, court documents said.

In a confrontation that unfolded after a ruling by Fagg, the man allegedly charged one of the officers while his father shouted encouragement from the back of the courtroom, yelling, “Take ‘em, Wes! Take ‘em!”

No, we’re not making this up. The alleged assailant really is named “Wesley William Wimber.” And the presiding judge really is a Fagg.
So what gave rise to this disorder in the court?

Prosecutors said the melee broke out Thursday at the end of a custody matter in Fagg’s courtroom involving Wimber’s daughter. When Fagg ordered that Wimber allow his daughter’s mother visitation with the 4-year-old, Wimber called out, “Bite me, your honor!”

Very nice. If you’re going to tell a judge to “bite you,” be sure to add “Your Honor.” Then it’s all good.
(We’re reminded of McDermott Will & Emery partner William P. Smith, who suggested to a judge that she might be “a few french fries short of a Happy Meal.” The fact that he prefaced the suggestion “with respect,” and addressed the judge as “Your Honor,” didn’t save him from her wrath.)
Man charged in courtroom melee [Billings Gazette]

Linda Greenhouse 6 New York Times Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgTo follow up on our earlier post, here’s an update on L’Affaire Linda, from the Columbia Journalism Review:

Linda Greenhouse has written a letter in response to C-SPAN in which she defends herself against their accusations. In it she claims that the “issue is not one of ‘open media access to public policy discussions,’” as C-SPAN’s Terence Murphy wrote in his letter, but “one of communication and simple courtesy.”

Ignoring the question of whether she received an email warning her that C-SPAN was going to be present, Greenhouse writes, ” I learned about the plan to cover the Supreme Court panel only when I showed up and saw the cameras. Prof. Gajda told me yesterday that she had only learned at 5:00 p.m. the day before that C-Span intended to cover our panel.”

Read the rest — plus a bonus Linda Greenhouse Rap!!! — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Linda Greenhouse’s Reply Brief”

Linda Greenhouse 5 New York Times Above the Law blog.JPGWe feel better. We’re not the only folks who have been rudely dissed by Linda Greenhouse, the longtime op-ed columnist Supreme Court correspondent of the New York Times.
From Jim Romenesko’s widely read media blog, Poynter Online:

NYT’s Greenhouse demands that C-SPAN turn off its cameras
Columbia Journalism Review

The Times’ Linda Greenhouse became upset when she realized that C-SPAN planned to broadcast a panel discussion featuring Supreme Court reporters. “I told [the event organizer] she had a choice, either she could have me on the panel speaking candidly or she could have C-SPAN there,” Greenhouse tells Gal Beckerman. “I didn’t want to have to modulate my comments for a national audience.”

C-SPAN’s programming veep is unhappy: “All the participants were notified the night before, and no one objected. Then, five to ten minutes beforehand, we were told we couldn’t cover it. Having a five-person crew unable to work for a day was a major hit on us.”

Wow. To the commenters who have questioned our characterization of Greenhouse as a diva, please reconsider your views.
So why did Linda Greenhouse throw a hissy fit over possible C-SPAN coverage? We have some (quasi-informed) speculation.
Some thoughts and some links, plus the complete protest letter sent by C-SPAN, appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Linda Greenhouse Strikes Back (Capri Pants Sold Separately)”

X Men small X Summers X Summer Associates Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAt large law firms around the country, summer associate programs are nearing their end. But we still have a decent supply of summer associate stories. If you can add to our cache, please review our submission guidelines, and then email us.
This latest SA tale is, like that of Aquagirl or Jonas Blank, something of a classic. As a result, most of you have probably heard it already. But for those of you who haven’t, here it is:
1. Superhero name: The IncrediPaul(Hastings) Hulk
2. Special power: Ability to transform from a mild-mannered South Asian fellow into a raging, belligerent a**hole — with the aid of just a few drinks.
3. Summered: Paul Hastings, Los Angeles, summer 2006.
4. Claim to fame: This narrative is a bit lengthy — but it’s worth it. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “X-Summers: The IncrediPaul Hulk”

X Men small X Summers X Summer Associates Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe were rightfully ribbed for having so few details in yesterday’s post about the O’Melveny Mystery Man (hereinafter “Mystery”). Now we have more information about him, gleaned from multiple sources.
One source, who interacted with Mystery at lunches and over coffee, said that he “seemed very quiet.” But maybe he acts differently in a party context (i.e., after he’s had a few drinks). A second source, who spent time with Mystery on the notorious night of the firm retreat, described him as “obnoxious” and “a true frat guy.”
As for the alleged conduct on the evening in question, here’s what we’ve heard:

1. “[O]ne of the summer associates is a lesbian, but I don’t think most of us knew until this weekend since she brought her girlfriend. Everyone was at the hospitality suite on Saturday night, and the summer kissed her girlfriend on the cheek. [Mystery] yells out, “Whoa, what was that?!” and makes a totally un-PC scene, [making] both girls uncomfortable.”

2. “[O]ne of the first year associates had her fiance there, and he was drinking white wine. [Mystery] says: ‘Why are you drinking white wine? Are you a fag?’

3. “[Mystery] kept doing the ‘wink and point’ thing at a 3rd or 4th year female associate, telling her that she would be his drinking buddy for the night. She was creeped out.”

No, that’s not all. More misconduct alleged, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “X-Summers: More on the O’Melveny Mystery Man”

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