Chicago

We’ve reached July, and there is less than a month until the test. Does this qualify as the home stretch? How are our esteemed Bar Review Diarists doing?

Well, they are working hard and doing what they can to not lose their minds (as bar review studiers are perhaps wont to do). Let’s check in with Jeanette, Nathan, and Andrew as they continue stumbling through the bar exam desert….

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Are we there yet? Is it almost time to take the test yet? NO. There are still several week to go, and our Bar Review columnists are simultaneously working hard to stay motivated, and also straining to not get frustrated with the ridiculousness that the studying entails.

Let’s check in with Nathan, Jeanette, and Andrew, who are getting advice from strangers, navigating a never-ending parade of graduation parties, and starting to see hallucinations of bar exam questions in real life….

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Flo Rida

* Flo Rida was caught lying to a judge in the “slave wages” case filed by his former assistant, who claims he paid her only $3.08 an hour. Now he has been ordered to cough up $7,000. Not cool, Flo. [Inquisitr]

* Is News Corp. going to divide itself in two? [Dealbook / New York Times]

* Speaking of job changes, Patrick Fitzgerald, the outgoing U.S. Attorney for Chicago, will be replaced on an interim basis by long-time prosecutor Gary S. Shapiro on July 1. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* I admit, when I first saw the words “heroin burrito” I thought: that sounds delicious. Not because of the heroin, necessarily. Burritos are simply very tasty. [New York Daily News]

Justice Keith Blackwell

* Congratulations to Justice Keith Blackwell, the newest member of the Georgia Supreme Court! [Associated Press]

* Defense attorneys for a man on trial for assaulting a priest who allegedly abused him as a child are now claiming prosecutorial misconduct. Can you spell M-E-S-S? [Mercury News]

* A police officer in Carteret, N.J. saved Ellen Shane’s life by shooting and killing the man who held her hostage at knife point. But apparently that wasn’t enough, and now she has sued the city for $5 million. If she wins, she might want to consider donating the money to her lucky stars. [Newark Star-Ledger]


* Roger Clemens was found not guilty on charges of lying to Congress about using steroids. [New York Times]

* Why did the ABA Journal kill a feature story on mentoring by Dan Hull and Scott Greenfield? The world may never know, and the world may never see the story. [Simple Justice]

* Q: What does a male lawyer do when his female secretary gives him a nice little Father’s Day gift? A: Freak out because random acts of kindness are so unusual, and then write a letter to a New York Times advice columnist. [New York Times]

* If you’ll be in D.C. this Thursday, June 21, check out this battle of the law firm bands — a fun event that we’ve covered before, as well as a fundraiser for a worthy cause. [Banding Together 2012]

* ATL readers are awesome. You guys have already been a huge help to this court reporter who almost died when he fell into the Chicago River. The family is still taking donations, and now there’s a PayPal link, so it’s even easier to lend a hand to Andrew Pitts and his family. [Kruse Reporters Blog]

* A closer look at the continuing rapid progress of predictive coding (or, as skeptics would say, our new computer overlords) in legal discovery. [WSJ Law Blog]

* New York’s “hot dog hooker,” Ms. Catherine Scalia (no, not that Scalia), was sentenced to jail. Maybe she should have deigned to sell chocolate milkshakes instead. [Gothamist]

The Chicago River is only slightly less green when it's not St. Patrick's Day.

* America’s favorite serial litigant, Jonathan Lee Riches, wants to make an appearance as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer. [Detroit News]

* You better run and hide, because the vacuum bandit is coming to town. [Legal Juice]

* A Chicago reporter fell into in the Chicago sewer system River. He is currently on a respirator, and another court reporter has set up a relief fund for him. Get well soon, Andrew Pitts. [Kruse Reporters Blog]

* Speaking of Chicago, this could be an Odd Couple reboot: The drug dealer and his roommate, a local prosecutor. What goofy hijinks will they get into next? [Chicago Tribune]

* This Australian reporter says the American legal system has evolved to conceal truth, not reveal it. See how long you can read this before smoke starts coming out your ears. [The Atlantic]

* Happy Father’s Day! Even to all the famous, lawbreaking dads out there. [Attorney Fee]

We’ve got two unrelated First Amendment issues floating around today that I’m mashing into one post, because it is my right to do so.

We all know that money is speech. How we got to the point where money is worth just as much speech as talking is a manner of some contention (see Jeff Toobin’s New Yorker piece and Tom Goldstein’s response), but the question is what other things that don’t involve people saying anything can also be construed as “speech.”

Now Mitt Romney will tell you that money is speech and “corporations are people, my friend.” Fair enough. But I’m not sure he’d defend the free speech rights of people who don’t have any money so they’re asking for it on the streets of Chicago.

And I have no idea how he’d respond if you asked him if cars are people that can flash each other under the protection of the First Amendment….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Free Speech Potpourri: Begging Might Not Be Speech, But Flashing Your ‘Headlights’ Certainly Is!”

Yesterday brought some big news out of Chicago. Renowned federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — who successfully prosecuted such figures as Governor George Ryan, Governor Rod Blagojevich, White House adviser Scooter Libby, and media mogul Conrad Black — announced that he will be stepping down as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald’s resignation will take effect on June 30.

I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Fitzgerald in October 2007, when he spoke at our alma mater, Regis High School (which he graduated from before going on to Amherst College and Harvard Law School). During the question-and-answer session for his talk, I alluded to his celebrity status and asked him: “What’s next for Patrick Fitzgerald?” I tossed out several possibilities, such as running for political office or working as a male model (in light of his 2005 designation by People magazine as one of the sexiest men alive).

The straight-laced, self-effacing Fitzgerald — who spent his entire talk discussing cases, saying practically nothing about himself — seemed slightly uncomfortable at having the spotlight on him in such a personal way. He diplomatically dodged my question, saying something about how he was just focused on doing the best job possible as U.S. Attorney. This was very proper of him, even if a bit boring.

My question to him, posed back in 2007, was just a hypothetical. But now it has turned actual: What is Pat Fitzgerald going to do next?

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Jason Smiekel

When we last checked in with Illinois attorney, Jason W. Smiekel, the man accused of taking out a hit on a former client (who also happened to be the ex-husband of Smiekel’s fiancée), he was busy trying to convince a judge to release him on bail. Apparently he didn’t think murder for hire was a “crime of violence.” Needless to say, that was an exercise in futility.

In August, Smiekel pleaded not guilty to seven counts of using interstate facilities in his alleged murder-for-hire scheme. At the time, readers who knew Smiekel assured us that we would “see in the end that he is the victim in this whole fiasco.” They believed that the divorce lawyer’s fiancée — otherwise known as the “hot hot hot blonde” (HHHB) — was to blame.

But based on the plea deal that Smiekel took yesterday, that doesn’t seem to be the case….

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Over the weekend, a Northwestern 3L was hit and killed by an allegedly drunk driver in downtown Chicago.

The student was crossing the street to get a late-night snack when a woman hit him. She continued driving — at one point going the wrong way down a one-way street — until police noticed the extensive damage to the front of her car and pulled her over.

This is not the kind of story we like to write here at Above the Law. But keep reading for details on the student whose life was cut too short….

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Over the past week, while the Bay Area has been rainy, windy, and generally ugly outside, folks in my old Chicago stomping grounds have been enjoying the upside of global warming.

I know the sun is a nice, unexpected reprieve from the nine-month Midwestern winter. Unfortunately, the mini-heatwave has not brought any relief from the hot air that notoriously blows from government buildings in Cook County.

Earlier this month, a local judge was unceremoniously removed from her courthouse and arrested for assault. My colleague Staci Zaretsky might have called her a judicial diva, but I think this jurist is more of a Mike Tyson type…

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