Suicide

Cynthia Wachenheim

Elie’s story earlier today about Cynthia Wachenheim, a Columbia Law School graduate and New York court attorney who took her own life and almost killed her infant son, has generated a lot of controversy. See, for example, the more than 100 comments on the original story.

Here at Above the Law, we believe in providing a wide range of viewpoints on different issues. Keep reading for a detailed and heartfelt message from a friend of Wachenheim who provides a counterpoint to Elie’s point of view….

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Strapped in this, the child survived his mother’s jump out an eighth-floor window.

I was hoping to avoid this story because it’s horrible and I didn’t want to deal with it. But it’s all over the news now and so we have to talk about it.

A lawyer, Cynthia Wachenheim, on leave from the Manhattan Supreme Court, jumped to her death from a Harlem apartment with her 10-month-old son strapped to her body in an Ergo baby carrier. The baby survived.

I know that society requires and expects me to use restraint or even show sympathy for suicide “victims.” But I just can’t muster the will to conform to social conventions in this case. This woman left behind a 13-page suicide note (of course a lawyer leaves a 13-page suicide note) explaining that she thought her baby had cerebral palsy based on internet research (doctors found nothing wrong with the child). When nobody believed her crazy rantings, her solution was to try to kill her own child — as if even an actual diagnosis of CP was worse than death.

Screw this woman….

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Killing your mother is unnatural. Personally, I think trying to ascribe a “motive” or a “reason” somebody would do such a thing is a little bit futile.

But the cops are saying that a recent Villanova Law graduate, struggling as a contract attorney, shot his mother over Christmas. Then, he killed himself.

“We’ll never know his motive,” said Marion County Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Sandlin. “What is our opinion? Financial. He had a lot of student loans that were outstanding.”

The guy’s father also died under suspicious circumstances…

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* The early numbers for the Am Law 100 are in, and it looks like Husch Blackwell’s gross revenue grew by six percent in 2012 after a two-year decline. Hmm… perhaps the firm is saving money by cutting back on its rejection letter proofreaders. [Am Law Daily]

* “If I can’t settle with any of those parties, I will sue them.” Howrey’s trustee, Allan Diamond, plans to sue former partners of the failed firm with a vengeance — and quite “quickly” — if they refuse to cooperate with him. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Speaking of bankrupt law firms, former Dewey partner Steven Otillar may proceed with his various claims against Citibank over the repayment of his $209K capital contribution loan. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Anyone remember Amy McTeer, the attorney who doubled as an apparent model for “faces of meth”? She resigned from the bar after allegedly helping her boyfriend escape from jail. Classy! [National Law Journal]

* Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney whose name was dragged through the mud after Aaron Swartz’s suicide, claims she intended to recommend only a six-month sentence for the deceased internet hero. [Bloomberg]

Don’t sue her because she’s beautiful: Constance Jablonski (via Getty).

* Not a Victoria’s Secret angel’s fantasy: being sued for $3.3 million. [Fashionista]

* Should a widow be able to extract sperm from the body of her husband, who recently committed suicide, so she can have a child with him? Some thoughts from Professor Glenn Cohen of Harvard Law. [Bill of Health]

* Speaking of suicide, controversy over the prosecution of the late Aaron Swartz rages on. [How Appealing and Instapundit]

* Professor Ann Althouse isn’t a fan of the “if we can save one life” argument for gun control. [Althouse]

* I don’t know anything about football, but even I chuckled at this. [Life in Biglaw]

* ‘Tis the season… for replacing law school deans. Congratulations to Michael Hunter Schwartz, the new dean at Arkansas – Little Rock. [Faculty Lounge]

After the jump, Elie challenges Mike Bloomberg to make him skinny….

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DaNae Couch

* “I’m a New Yorker, and I jaywalk with the best of them.” Don’t be fooled by the rocks job that she’s got — she’s still, she’s still Jenny Sonia from the block. The Supreme Court’s very own wise Latina, author of a new memoir (affiliate link), is proud of her city. [New York Times; 60 Minutes]

* If you’re looking for an M&A adviser, you’d be wise to seek out counsel from Skadden Arps. The firm swept three separate rankings lists based on the total value of its clients’ 2012 M&A transactions. [Am Law Daily]

* Only in the world of legal education could the dean of a law school that isn’t even numerically ranked by U.S. News have the highest salary of all law deans nationwide. (We’ll likely have more on this later.) [Boston Globe]

* Arizona schools will allow 3Ls to take the bar exam, but New York schools may soon do away with 3L year altogether. Of course, the ABA will find a way to muck it up, but still, hooray for progress! [National Law Journal]

* Remember “Made in Jersey,” the show about a stereotypical Jersey girl who made the jump to Biglaw? Yeah, neither does anyone else. Hopefully “Staten Island Law” won’t face the same fate. [New York Daily News]

* “Sexiness is all about being a woman of character.” Our congratulations go out to DaNae Couch, the Texas Tech law student who advanced to the Top 10 of the Miss America competition. You go girl! [Lubbock Online]

* Aaron Swartz — Reddit co-founder, friend of Larry Lessig, felony hacking defendant — RIP. [New York Times]

I was just on HuffPost Live debating gun regulation with Professor Eugene Volokh, among others. It was a good discussion where I argued that guns should be regulated like cars, and Volokh thought it would be a good idea to regulate guns like cars… and then we completely disagreed about what that would mean.

But I wasn’t off the webcam for five minutes when another tragic story about gun violence came across the wire. A man in Alabama shot himself inside an Alabama federal courthouse.

I’m not sure that there’s any regulation, up to and including abolishing the Second Amendment entirely, that would stop these kinds of situations entirely. But I am, again, shocked that courthouse security was such that this guy was able to get a firearm in there in the first place….

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Oh look, somebody executed a prank, the victim of the prank killed herself, and now the world is outraged. Where have I seen this before?

Last week, the world was shocked when nurse Jacintha Saldanha killed herself after being prank called by Australian DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian. Saldanha was not the nurse who dished private details about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy to the duo, she’s just the nurse who put the call through. But since she killed herself, the world needs somebody to blame, and “Mel and MC” are it.

For those playing along at home, I think the world reaction has gone something like this:

  • OMG. Duchess Kate is having a baby! Let’s find out EVERYTHING about this private, beautiful moment.
  • MOAR BABY NEWS!
  • Hahaha, these radio hosts prank called the hospital. What stupid freaking nurses to fall for it.
  • Was it criminal for these idiot nurses to divulge this information? What kind of low rate hospital are they running over there?
  • OMG. The nurse killed herself. DEATH TO THE DJs!

The DJs have been taken off the air, and the radio station is trying to cover its ass. Needless to say, I’m unimpressed by: the outrage, the excitement, the baby, the prank, the royals, the U.K., Australia, and blaming people when others commit suicide.

Let’s focus on that last point. Because trying to find somebody to blame when a person commits suicide has really got to stop. The Terminator may not be able to self-terminate, but us humans are fully capable of self-harm….

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I write about law school debt, often and passionately, because at the end of the day there are real productive people who are getting ruined by taking out more money than they can reasonably pay back. Not all of these people are “deadbeats,” and not all of these people are too stupid to understand a loan agreement. Many of them are people who simply thought that in America education was the path to upward mobility.

But unfortunately, in America today, education is also the path towards financial instability, or even disaster. People who take the shot at bettering themselves through education can easily find themselves with bad jobs and a mountain of debt that will take decades to pay off.

It’s not just happening to kids. The New York Times had a big article yesterday that highlighted all of the parents who have taken loans out for their children’s education and now can’t pay off the loans. And since we’re talking about parents, we’re dealing with people who maybe don’t have decades to get their financial houses back in order.

In one shocking case, a man took his own life; in the suicide note, he said: “I can’t even answer the phone in my own home no more. I can’t live like this no more.”…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Parent Cites Stepson’s Law School Debt In Suicide Note”

Kristen Saban

* With Eric Holder questioning his job, and Deval Patrick dining at the White House, perhaps we’ll see our second black attorney general. Or not, because one of the Governor’s aides says he’ll continue his reign as a Masshole. [Washington Times; Buzzfeed]

* When it came to sanctions for discovery violations in the Apple v. Samsung case, this judge was all about pinching pennies. Last week, both Quinn Emanuel and MoFo got taken to task over their apparently “sloppy billing practices.” [The Recorder]

* What’s the most inappropriate thing for a federal judge to say to jurors when delivering the news that a defendant of Asian descent killed herself after testifying? “Sayonara.” Ugh. [Careerist via New York Times]

* “Law school is very unforgiving, but classes must go on.” Law schools in the New York metropolitan area are still trying to make sure their students are safe and sound — and studying, of course. [New York Law Journal]

* Another one bites the dust: Team Strauss/Anziska’s lawsuit against John Marshall Law School over its allegedly phony post-graduate employment statistics has been dismissed with prejudice. [Chicago Tribune]

* Are you ready for some litigation? Lawyers for Nick Saban’s daughter are showing the sorority girl who sued her what it’s like to get rolled by the Alabama tide in a flurry of more than 40 subpoenas. [Times Leader]

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