Anonymous Commenting

Do you willingly feed trolls who are trying to obscure their identities?

I’m not talking about the cave-dwelling, ugly beings depicted in folklore as either giants or dwarfs. Those trolls aren’t yet online.

I want you to focus on the more insidious demons known as the “Internet trolls” (aka troll-holes as in a-holes). Troll-holes are devoid of any moral compass. These sorry-excuse-for-humans seek to ply discord on the internet. They post hateful, anonymous comments on anything from blogs to newspaper sites to Amazon and Yelp.

They want to argue with you. They want to demean you. They want to attack you. They want to provoke you. They want to upset you. They want to emotionally gut you.

Don’t take the bait….

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Judge Mike Maggio was the now-infamous Geauxjudge on the Tiger Droppings board. Just like we all thought.

The rapidly unfolding scandal broke Monday and confirmation came Wednesday night, when Maggio admitted to his Geauxjudge alter ego and withdrew from the impending Court of Appeals race. Still unclear is whether the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission will demand that he immediately step down from his current judgeship, which Judge Maggio will otherwise hold for the rest of the year.

The latest statement from Judge Maggio is reproduced below. It’s light on the racism, sexism, homophobia, and obvious breaches of judicial ethics, but it still captures the tone-deaf attitude of entitlement. At least we know Geauxjudge is still in there somewhere….

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The psychological term for it is The Online Disinhibition Effect, a condition brought on by the interlocking effects of dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority. This is the condition that leads people otherwise aware of proper social and professional behavior to go off the rails and say things they would know not to broadcast publicly if the world could easily identify them.

That’s what happened to a self-identified judge who routinely posted under a pseudonym on a popular college sports board.

And now it looks like we’ve cracked the code and figured out who this judge is, and if we’re right, he’s a rising star. Or he was a rising star, before this….

(It turns out that we’re right. Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Caught Making Racist, Sexist Comments On Internet Board”


Have you downloaded the Above the Law app? If so, you might want to check your “updates” and upgrade to version 1.1. And if you haven’t downloaded the app yet, now would be a good time. Because now the ATL app experience comes with comments and a tips button.

You can read comments on your phone or tablet device. You can leave comments on your phone or tablet device. That’s comments and tips that are completely untraceable by the people you work for. Yay increased anonymity, what could possibly go wrong?

Now that comments are more accessible than ever, we’ve decided to bring back our “Comment of the Week” feature. A free ATL t-shirt to the person who comes up with the best comment each week. As before, the criteria for Comment of the Week are whatever the heck we want them to be. Some weeks, it’ll be funny. Some weeks, we’ll care about who gets the most likes. Click through to see who would have won comment of the week last week….

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* “Did the imperative use of the F-bomb … threaten judicial authority?” Wow, seriously? This is perhaps the most entertaining question presented for review in a Supreme Court certiorari petition in the history of man. [National Law Journal]

* Boy, Dewey have some expensive paintings for you to buy! This failed firm’s art collection will be hitting the auction block in February, and the entire LeBoeuf lot is supposedly worth $2.3M, but most pieces are pretty damn ugly. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* When anonymous commenting goes wronger-er: Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has resigned amid the scandal caused by his underlings’ obnoxious comments. [Times-Picayune]

* Your employers really don’t want pictures of your office holiday party antics going viral online (but we do). Here are some of the many ways they’ll try to keep you from becoming internet famous. [Corporate Counsel]

* George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin, is suing NBCUniversal, alleging that the network and Today show reporters committed serious “journalistic crimes.” [Media Decoder / New York Times]

FIRST! Assistant United States Attorney.

First amongst weird creation myths is that of the Mbombo god, who is said to have vomited up pretty much all of our world. Similarly, the story of how this website has been… thrown up is worthy of retelling. At its essence, it goes like this: A boy blogs about very sober legal issues in an incredibly earnest way and then the governor of New Jersey tells him to start Above the Law, The End. I may have missed some crucial details and got others flat-out wrong, but I think the kernel of truth is still in there somewhere.

At any rate, that boy was working for the United States Attorney’s office in Newark at the time. Doing anything on the internet, even if it was super-serious and incredibly sincere, could be considered controversial because of the position. The lawyers tasked with working in such a high-profile prosecutorial role must be seen as impartial, lest the cases they take on get tainted by their online presence.

Which is what makes it all the more surprising that history is repeating itself down in New Orleans, where two assistant United States attorneys have become embroiled in scandal after being caught commenting on not just the law in general (like our own dear leader), but the specific cases that came through their office.

It’s almost as if the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office is trying to outdo David Lat in some way. Which, I mean, trick please…

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Maybe it’s just because Elie is out for a few weeks caring for his new mini-Elie, but we’ve recently been feeling a little more warm and fuzzy than usual here at ATL. One of the most widely-read stories this week was Staci’s heartfelt response to the jerkoid attorney who called out a Midwestern news anchor for her weight. As of this writing, Staci’s post has generated more than 200 comments.

Anonymous commenting gets a bad rap, but as our Comment of the Week winner shows, sometimes even the haters can give a lil’ love too…

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Leave my reviewers alone!

Here at Above the Law, we try to remain supportive of anonymous commenting. There are definite benefits — sometimes they lead to scoops or important details for a story we might not otherwise get (for instance, see Adam Kaiser). But sometimes commenting crosses the line and can endanger lives or unfairly damage reputations.

Who knew that opinions about The Dark Knight Rises, which officially comes out tomorrow, would be so strong that Rotten Tomatoes, the well-known movie review aggregation site, was moved to shut down anonymous commenting because of the terrible things being said about reviewers who dared to criticize Christopher Nolan’s newest opus.

All the ATL editors are accustomed to a cornucopia of criticism about our physical characteristics and mental capacities. But we have to hand it to our commenters, you don’t threaten to murder or rape us that often….

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A large portion of the strenuous life of bloggers consists of cruising various news sites, looking for some tidbit ridiculous interesting enough to merit a couple hundred words. You do this long enough, and you wind up getting picky pretty quickly. So, last night, when I clicked over to Wired, it was surprising in and of itself that when I saw the following story I literally stared at the screen, slack jawed, for close to a minute.

That’s how ridiculous this proposed legislation coming out of New York is. The only thing I can say is that if this bill somehow managed to become law, the Above the Law commentariat would not be happy at all…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New York Lawmakers Want to Ban Anonymous Commenting. I Wish I Were Kidding.”