Sex Scandals

Colleen Hartl Judge Colleen Hartl Above the Law blog.jpgMunicipal court is not exactly the pinnacle of judicial office. But we think that Colleen Hartl, until recently a (rather attractive) municipal court judge in Washington state, is still a worthy Judge of the Day. From the AP:

A Federal Way [that's a WA city name] Municipal Court judge has resigned after hosting a holiday party at which she claimed to be having an affair with a public defender who routinely appeared in her court.

Judge Colleen Hartl quit Dec. 19, less than a week after telling her guests — including five court employees — that she had sex with public defender Sean Cecil and displaying a text message in which he complimented how she looked in “tight jeans,” Michael Morgan, the court’s presiding judge, said Wednesday.

So she’s proud about how good her butt looks in tight jeans. What’s so wrong with that?

Even after admitting the affair at the Friday night party, Hartl showed up for work the next Monday morning and presided over several cases handled by Cecil, Morgan said. At lunchtime that day, Morgan — who attended the party but left before Hartl’s admission — was advised of the relationship by a court staff member who witnessed the statement. Morgan suggested that Hartl not sit on any cases that afternoon, and she resigned two days later.

Judge Hartl, we like your style.
Update: More here from Federal Way News.
Federal Way judge quits; talked of affair with lawyer [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
Affair with lawyer linked to judge’s resignation [Federal Way News]

James Colliton Jim Colliton Cravath Swaine Moore Above the Law blog.jpg(We missed this case because it happened over the holidays, when we were away from ATL. But we’ve received several requests to cover this super-juicy story, so we’ll go for it, despite being so late to the party.)
We described Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy, a lawsuit by a Jewish associate against his former law firm, as “the Jewish version of Aaron Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell.” Now we’re looking at “the pervert-who-has-sex-with-13-and-15-year-old-sisters version of Charney v. S&C.”
From the New York Daily News:

A disgraced lawyer who paid a mother to allow him to have sex with her underage daughters is looking for a payday of his own – from the elite law firm where he once worked.

James Colliton is suing Cravath, Swaine & Moore for $1.45 million, accusing the white-shoe firm of stiffing him on an annual bonus, salary and vacation pay.

Reached by phone at his home in Poughkeepsie, the convicted sex offender refused to talk about his suit, which was handwritten on notebook paper.

“It’s all in there,” Colliton said.

That’s what he told her. Also, we’d expect better than a complaint “handwritten on notebook paper” from James Colliton. If Aaron Charney can type up his pro se complaint against his former firm, surely an ex-Cravath lawyer can do the same.
More discussion, beyond the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day Last Month: Talk About a ‘Special’ Bonus
(The bonus you claim after pleading guilty to paying a mom so you can have sex with her two underage daughters)”

Szul Jewelry web ad orgasm cunnilingus Above the Law blog.jpgWe weren’t surprised to see this case get a shout-out on I Am Lawsuit Abuse. From the AP:

A model who says she has worked hard to maintain a wholesome image has filed a $5 million lawsuit complaining that a jewelry company’s video advertisement in which she writhes and moans looks pornographic.

The commercial, seen on the Internet in a clip entitled “Rock Her World,” shows a woman wearing blue lacy lingerie and a diamond necklace while moaning and stroking her face and neck. It ends with the Web address for the jewelry company, Szul.com.

The 37-year-old woman claims in her lawsuit that she did not “consent to or authorize the use of her likeness, picture, image or name to simulate a female having an orgasm or otherwise experiencing sexual pleasure.”

Actually, we prefer the description of the New York Daily News:

The 35-second “Rock Her World” spot features the model rubbing her teal teddy and purring with pleasure to the hard-grinding sounds of a guitar as the slogan, “Jewelry works every time” pops up onscreen.

But look, no need to rely on print descriptions of the ad. One of the beauties of the internet as a medium is that, when it comes to audio or video, you can judge for yourself. So check out the clip — which, we warn you, is quasi-NSFW (at least with the sound turned on) — over at Blogonaut.
Done watching? Okay. We concur with our fellow blogger:

[W]e find it hard to believe that Jane Doe’s behavior on the ad could be taken for anything resembling the “wholesome” persona she claims was maligned. What could she have been thinking when she made the ad?

Indeed. What exactly did she think she was advertising when she consented to be filmed, clad in pastel lingerie, writhing on a bed? Anti-epilepsy drugs?
Anyway, casting directors, consider yourselves warned. If the woman from the Szul Jewelry ad shows up for your casting call, don’t even think of using her in that Herbal Essences ad.
Oh, and the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally? NOT FUNNY.
Update: Ted Frank has written about the case at Overlawyered. We like the title of his post, as well as this quip: “And, of course, she didn’t have to roll around on the bed in the first place.”
But he notes, in fairness, that the model-plaintiff is claiming no release (hehe). That might be a legitimate basis for a lawsuit.
Model’s suit: You used the video you took of me [Overlawyered]
NY Model Sues Jewelry Co for $5M Over R-Rated Web Ad [Blogonaut]
Model sues Szul Jewelry over Web ad [New York Daily News]
NY Lawsuit: My Commercial Looks Lewd [Associated Press]
Rock Her World [YouTube (mildly NSFW)]

John Hagler Judge John B Hagler Above the Law blog.jpgLast month, Judge John B. Hagler, a state court judge in Tennessee, stepped down from the bench. Here’s why, from the AP:

A Tennessee judge resigned last month after making a recording of fantasies so lurid that when the tape fell into the hands of the police and FBI, they thought they were listening to a torture session and believed it might be linked to a murder case.

Police have cleared the judge in the murder case. But a hearing started yesterday over whether they must release the tape.
So, pray tell, what exactly is this tape about?

“It sounded like someone being tortured,” Chattanooga police Sgt. Alan Franks testified Wednesday, offering the first details of what is on the tape.

Franks said the recording was investigated in relation to a still-unsolved 1997 murder. He gave no other details on the murder case.

“The content was so shocking. I have been a police officer for 24 years,” Franks said before his testimony was cut off by an objection.

Well! What does Judge Hagler have to say for himself?

Hagler said that he had done nothing wrong but that the recording had caused great embarrassment to friends, family and the courts. Hagler, who is 65 and married, has been a circuit judge in Cleveland, Tenn., since 1990 and served three terms as president of the Tennessee Trial Judges Association.

“The description of it as containing ‘graphic fantasies’ … is an accurate and sufficient description and all any decent person would want to hear of it,” the judge said in a statement.

Should we be troubled by the trend of excessively scrutinizing the unorthodox sexual practices of judges? See also Judge Herman Thomas, aka the Spanking Judge, who resigned a few months ago.
Aren’t judges entitled to be a little kinky too? If judges have to worry about their personal lives being placed under the microscope, will the state and federal benches lose out on potentially talented jurists, who just happen to have a little sumthin sumthin going on under those robes?
Update: More coverage, from the ABA Journal.
Tenn. judge resigns over fantasies tape [Associated Press]
Ex-Judge Fights Release of Lurid Audiotape [ABA Journal]

Grafton Minot Biddle Judge Grafton Biddle Above the Law blog.jpgColorado judge Grafton M. Biddle has been the subject of a prior ATL shout-out. But he has never been officially named a Judge of the Day. We think it’s about time.
From the Rocky Mountain News:

A former Douglas County judge who had an affair with a prosecutor that included a rendezvous in his chambers and in the women’s courthouse showers was suspended for three years Monday.

Grafton M. Biddle’s punishment comes almost a year after he resigned his judgeship in a short Dec. 18 letter signed simply, “With regrets,” that gave no reason for his decision.

But by then, rumors of his affair with Deputy District Attorney Laurie A. Hurst — who used the last name Steinman at the time — had been circulating in the courthouse.

From one of the paper’s online commenters:

“Just another black mark on the Colorado Judicial System…… Would this be prostitution??? You know, lawyers have billable hours for everything they do… Screw the judge or screw the neighbors… Someone is paying the price for getting screwed, and an attorney is involved.”

If you use the Douglas County courthouse showers, wear flip-flops.
Judge suspended over affair [Rocky Mountain News]
Earlier: Let’s Get It On, Counselor!

Paul J Morrison Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison Above the Law blog.jpgSome quick updates on law-related sex scandals previously covered in these pages:
First, Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison, a recent Lawyer of the Day, is resigning. We’d say that this is pretty lame; what prominent public official hasn’t had an affair? But there are other allegations in the mix, including a claim that he tried to get dirt on a political rival from his lover, which make the resignation more understandable.
Second, yes, we missed last week’s juicy NYM story about financier Jeffrey Epstein, alleged former paramour of model Maximilia Cordero. Fortunately, our colleagues over at DealBreaker didn’t; Bess Levin’s post appeared here.
Finally, a sex scandal that’s new to these pages: some 1Ls at UVA getting busted for bonking, in a cell phone booth at the law library. Of course, library sex is nothing new. But it seems to be moving up the U.S. News rankings.
Maximilia Cordero small Jeffrey Epstein Dealbreaker Above the Law blog.JPGAttorney General Paul Morrison scandal (collected coverage) [Topeka Capital-Journal via WSJ Law Blog]
In Kansas, Top Official Announces Resignation [New York Times]
Jeffrey Epstein, Owner Of An Enormous Townhouse, Doesn’t Bitch About Having To Answer The Front Door When He’s In The Middle Of A 4th Floor Breast-Feeding [DealBreaker]
The Fantasist [New York Magazine]
Law Lib Bump ‘n Grind? [BLOTUS via TJ's Double Play]
Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Attorney General Paul Morrison
Sex in Your Law School Library Is Illegal, and ‘Necessity Is Not a Defense’

Maximilia Cordero small Jeffrey Epstein Dealbreaker Above the Law blog.JPGThe story of Cordero v. Epstein — the lawsuit filed by an aspiring model against prominent Wall Street financier Jeffrey Epstein, alleging that he took advantage of her when she was underage — gets weirder by the day.
The New York Post reported that the model, Maximilia Cordero, was actually born a man — one Maximillian Cordero, b. 1983. Cordero then sued the Post, filing as an exhibit with the court a birth certificate showing she was born a female. A number of you questioned the document’s authenticity, pointing out various irregularities. And such skepticism made sense: Cordero, despite filing the birth certificate with the court, is not including the Post’s claim that she’s a transsexual in her lawsuit.
But even if it may not be the gravamen of her complaint, Cordero still wants you to know she’s not a tranny. From a statement that William Unroch, her lawyer / roommate / possible ex-boyfriend, sent to the Daily Intelligencer (via Gawker):

Ms. Cordero will be happy to attend a televised nude settlement conference or celebrity charity benefit nude tea party with Rupert Murdoch and Lucifer Carne [a reference to Post reporter Lucy Carne] if the NY Post feels this would clear up the matter. Both Ms Cordero and Mr. Murdoch can appear nude and state their positions on this matter of grave public concern.

Hmm… Time for an ATL field trip?
More insanity, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Maximilia Cordero: Maybe Not a Man – and Ready To Prove It”

Richard Scruggs 2 Dick Scruggs Dickie Scruggs Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday the FBI executed a search warrant on the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, Mississippi — the shop of high-flying plaintiffs’ lawyer Dickie Scruggs. It wasn’t immediately clear what investigation the search was related to. Here’s some commentary on the situation that we enjoyed, from David Rossmiller (in brackets, following excerpt from news article):

“This is a surprise to everybody connected to the Scruggs Firm,” [lawyer Joey] Langston said, “but I’ve got to tell you people who are very high profile and very successful have to contend with unpleasantries and this is unpleasant, but we’ll contend with it.”

[I like the touch of noblesse oblige here -- as if the FBI descending on one's place of business is the same as, say, getting heckled by drunken lumpenproletariat while showing up in top hat and tails to receive an award for charitable giving.]

suitcase briefcase cash money Above the Law blog.jpgNow we have a better idea of what the office search was probably about. From the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger:

Multimillionaire trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs has been indicted on charges of conspiring to bribe a judge in the case involving $26.5-million in attorney fees involving Katrina claims….

According to the indictment, Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey cooperated with the FBI in the investigation after reporting a bribery overture to authorities.

According to the indictment, Scruggs and others tried to influence Lackey by giving him $40,000 in cash to resolve the attorney fees’ dispute in favor of Scruggs’ law firm. Some of the conversations between Balducci and Lackey were captured on tape.

An interesting observation, from the WSJ Law Blog:

Down in Mississippi, there has been speculation of a connection between the FBI search warrant and this week’s surprise resignation of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Scruggs’s brother-in-law. Lott’s office told the Sun Herald the two events were but a mere coincidence.

Because, you know, it’s so much better to have people think you stepped down because of a gay sex scandal, as opposed to your brother-in-law’s indictment.
(For the record, the rumors about Sen. Lott and the gay sex scandal appear to be unfounded. See HuffPo and Wonkette — two sites that would, of course, love for the rumors to be true.)
Scruggs arrested on bribery charges [Clarion-Ledger]
More on FBI search of Scruggs’ law offices [Insurance Coverage Law Blog]
Dickie Scruggs Indicted On Federal Bribery Charges [WSJ Law Blog]

Maximilia Cordero small Jeffrey Epstein Dealbreaker Above the Law blog.JPGWe’re confused. And we’re guessing we’re not alone.

We have provided extensive coverage of Cordero v. Epstein, in which model Maximilia Cordero alleges that high-profile financier Jeffrey Epstein took advantage of her when she was underage. To add to the suit’s salaciousness, the New York Post previously claimed that Maximilia Cordero was born a man — to wit, Maximillian Cordero (b. 1983).

Now Cordero has turned around and sued the Post. She has filed an exhibit with the court casting doubt on the Post’s claim that she was born a man — but oddly enough, she’s not raising the gender issue in her lawsuit. From DealBreaker:

Cordero and her lawyer (and alleged sometime boyfriend) William Unroch have filed a lawsuit against the Post, claiming it engaged in a smear campaign coordinated with Epstein’s flack Howard Rubenstein (who is also the publicist for the Post).

Radar has all the dirt, but here’s the dirtiest bit:

“Conspicuously absent from the accusations is the Post’s revelation that Cordero was born a man. A source tells Radar that the initial filing of the suit by Unroch includes as an exhibit a birth certificate, which showed Cordero being born Maximilia Cordero, a woman. Reached by phone this weekend, Unroch (with Cordero commenting loudly in the background but declining to come to the phone), called the Post’s behavior ‘outrageous’ but refused to address Cordero’s birth gender or the authenticity of the birth certificate originally filed. ‘She’s a woman,’ Unroch tells Radar. So, why not go after the Post’s gender claims?

‘It’s a slam dunk case whether she was born a cat, a dog, or a space alien,’ Unroch says.”

You can see why we’re confused. And our confusion has only grown since someone sent us a copy of the exhibit mentioned by Radar — namely, a birth certificate showing that Maximillia Josephine Cordero, born on November 15, 1982, was born a “Female.”

You can check out the birth certificate for yourself — please note, we take no position on its authenticity — after the jump.

Epstein’s Accuser Accuses Page Six Of ‘Raping’ ‘Her’ All Over Again [DealBreaker]
Epstein’s Accuser Sics Law Dog On Page Six [Radar / Fresh Intelligence]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Maximilia Cordero: Maybe Not a Man?”

* Bong hits 4 farmers. [Washington Post via How Appealing]
* If looks could kill, then maybe this guy would have had a defense. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* Privacy is so 20th century. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* Good for him I guess, but isn’t this a little weird? [CNN]

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