State Judges

Judge Nelson is tired… of your sh*t.

Your Honor, we’ve been working very long hours.

So have I!

– an exchange between Mark O’Mara, one of George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, and Judge Debra Nelson, after a 12-hour day in court. When defense attorney Don West piped up to say he didn’t think he could “physically keep up this pace much longer,” Judge Nelson gathered her belongings in a huff and left the courtroom, ignoring him.

(Keep reading to see video footage of the incident in question.)

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Do not wear this to court.

When temperatures soar, so do women’s hemlines. When cold fronts drop, women’s necklines do too. This is standard when it comes to the general populace, but we’ve come to expect more from professional women — especially from attorneys. Law is a very conservative field, and if you show too much skin, you may be looked down upon. And if we have to use the term “may,” you know that people will be talking about you behind your back if your clothes are too racy.

Yes, it’s hot out, and that’s too bad. Ditch the sleeveless dresses, throw out your above-the-knee skirts, and don’t you even dare to wear a pair of peep-toes. Sorry, ladies, but you still have to dress like pilgrims, especially if you’re in the South.

If you’re lucky enough to be an attorney with breasts in a southern state, even showing an elbow will earn you a reprimand from this judge…

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A disturbing video is making its way around social media today. It’s a six-minute family court video from August 2011 of a woman who complains that a marshal sexually assaulted her in a back room. The woman becomes increasingly agitated as the marshal, who is in the courtroom, then arrests her for “making false allegations about a police officer,” all while the magistrate plays with the woman’s child, at least until the child begs the arresting officer to not take her momma away.

It’s really tough to watch. Even I became emotional while watching the clip. And the marshal has since been dismissed. Most of the internet outrage is focused on the cop. Me, I can honestly say that after watching this I wish nothing but the absolute worst for Clark County Hearings Master Patricia Doninger. I think I’d rather see Edith Jones on the Supreme freaking Court than have this person “preside” over a game of Family Feud, much less be within shouting distance of a family court…

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That headline woke some of you up, I am sure. But don’t worry — keep reading for the details.

When a judge “requests” that you attend a function, or to represent an indigent client, or to work on a statewide task force, you don’t say no. Not only is it bad form to refuse such a request, accepting the invitation can get you a seat at a table full of people smarter than you, and might just allow you to have an impact on pending judiciary rules.

I met yesterday with a statewide task force on in-house attorney registration and pro bono work. Chief Judge Lippman and Judge Victoria Graffeo of the New York Court of Appeals are spearheading the effort to have all New York in-house counsel, who are not admitted in New York, register with the courts. The State Legislature has gone further and has passed legislation making it a felony to fail to so register. In other words, failure to register can get you a charge of unlicensed practice of law (“UPL”). The following is excerpted from correspondence with Judge Graffeo…

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Driving while drunk is wrong. I’m not going to dispute that. In fact, that’s why I live in New York, where my drinking habit hobby can never put anyone at risk. Except me, I suppose.

And the drive to drive drunk-driving incidents down further is in full swing, with the National Transportation Safety Board suggesting that states reduce the legal limit for driving to .05% — the level of intoxication achieved by inhaling while walking past a bar.

That said, are there ever any exceptions to the ironclad rule? And might one of those be fleeing an attacker?

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Gold stars and praise for all law students!

* “Going forward, nobody is going to get everything they want. Not Democrats, not Republicans, not me.” What a way to open the door to debate on the president’s newly endorsed bipartisan immigration bill. [New York Times]

* The ACLU is suing the United States over the collection of Verizon phone records, citing a possible “chilling effect” on the people who may contact the ACLU. What an entertaining (and egocentric) cause of action. [Bloomberg]

* When businesses throw cash at judges’ election campaigns, jurists tend to rule in favor of their donors — which is likely why Sandra Day O’Connor called state judges politicians in robes. [Washington Post]

* If it’s not news of layoffs, it’s news of office closures: Dentons partners will vote on whether to close the firm’s doors in Kuwait, and Curtis Mallet-Prevost already got the hell out of the Gulf. [The Lawyer]

* If you want a law school where professors pat you on the head and give you a treat each time you answer a question correctly, use this method to choose your alma mater. [U.S. News & World Report]

* There’s a pretty high probability that you’re a legal procrastinator, so here are some tips to stop the madness. Apparently alcohol isn’t the answer to your problems. Who knew? [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* New York City may be trying to defend a ban on sugary drinks that are larger than 16 ounces, but if your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, it doesn’t matter how big it is. [Associated Press]

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson

I don’t know that you’re taking this whole thing seriously. I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this? The whole courtroom was laughing. I’m not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn’t a joke.

– Judge Kathleen McHugh, in response to Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson’s show of team spirit when asked during a sentencing hearing in his domestic violence case if he was satisfied with his lawyer. Under the plea deal, Johnson wouldn’t have served time, but now he’s been sentenced to 30 days in jail.

* Crafty trial tactics out of C-Town. A Cuyahoga County prosecutor was fired after he admitted to posing as a woman in a Facebook chat with an accused killer’s alibi witnesses in an attempt to persuade them to change their testimony. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

* If you post on Facebook asking your employer to fire you, you can’t get mad when they, you know, fire you. [IT-Lex]

* Yeah. Where the hell is Fisher? [PrawfsBlawg]

* It’s a week late, but congratulations to whatever genius is behind UChiLawGo on graduating. [UChiLawGo]

* Once again, you can’t pay your bill with pennies just to get revenge. [Legal Juice]

* Some tips on turning your basketcaseness into eustress, which apparently means “good stress.” [Associate's Mind]

* New York eyes raising the retirement age for judges to 80. [New York Times]

I think there are many who think of judges as politicians in robes. In many states, that’s what they are.

– Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, criticizing the election of judges as she delivered the Rudolf G. Schade Lecture on History, Ethics and Law at Elmhurst College.

Objection overruled.

Ah, Memorial Day Weekend. The unofficial start of the summer. I’ll be spending it grilling out in my backyard and interviewing potential nannies (third time’s the charm).

If I knew either of these state judges, my holiday might also involve really good drugs. If you think about it, local judges should have great connects. And today, we’ve got two stories about judges who allegedly used those hook-ups to get access to loads of blow for themselves and friends.

Just stay safe. One judge’s friend (who was also a judge) ended up dead while lying on top of some cocaine…

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