Crime

Stephen McDaniel

Revelations continue to spill forth regarding Stephen Mark McDaniel, 25, the recent Mercer Law School graduate accused of killing his former classmate and neighbor, Lauren Giddings.

On Saturday, the Macon Telegraph reported on a theory that Stephen McDaniel was framed for the murder of Lauren Giddings. This theory was advanced by McDaniel’s mother, Glenda McDaniel, who steadfastly maintains her son’s innocence. As commentator Kenny Burgamy aptly noted in the Telegraph, “A mother’s love is instinctual, unconditional and forever.”

Yesterday the Telegraph followed up with a detailed profile of Stephen McDaniel, looking at his childhood, family background, and college years. It’s a great read; check it out in full over here.

To whet your appetite, let’s cover the highlights….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Portrait of the Accused as a Young Man (Plus a reader poll: innocent?)”

Reema Bajaj wins the race to the courthouse.

Today we bring you two tales of Chicago-area lawyers accused of naughtiness. Chicago is a beautiful city in the summer, but some of its attorneys are facing ugly allegations.

Ladies first. What’s going on with Reema Bajaj, the rather attractive Illinois lawyer accused of prostitution? We’ve mentioned Bajaj here and there over the past few weeks, but we haven’t had hard news about her since June. Is her case any closer to resolution?

Apparently so. A plea deal is near, according to the Daily Chronicle, and Bajaj is scheduled back in court on August 31. As you may recall, Reema Bajaj has been charged with two misdemeanors and one felony. If she pleads guilty to just a misdemeanor, can she keep her Illinois law license? Readers, please enlighten us.

Let’s hear more about Reema from one reader who knows her personally — don’t worry, he’s not a customer — and then learn about another twentysomething Chicago lawyer accused of more-serious criminal conduct….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Is Up With Chicago-Area Lawyers? Updates on Reema Bajaj and Jason Smiekel”

Stephen McDaniel

In our coverage of Stephen Mark McDaniel, the 25-year-old Mercer Law School graduate who has been charged with the murder of Lauren Giddings, his former classmate and neighbor, we have repeatedly stressed that McDaniel remains innocent until proven guilty. We have pointed to past examples of individuals who were viewed by the public as almost certainly guilty of particular crimes, but who turned out to be innocent — such as Gary Condit and Richard Jewell, to say nothing of the numerous prisoners who have been freed thanks to DNA evidence.

It is therefore appropriate to ask at this time: Has Stephen McDaniel been framed for the murder of Lauren Giddings?

Let’s look at some of the theories — and the evidence — suggesting this might be the case….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Has Stephen McDaniel Been Framed in the Lauren Giddings Murder?”


Stephen 'Hacksaw' McDaniel

In last night’s story about Stephen Mark McDaniel, the recent Mercer Law School graduate accused of murdering his former neighbor and classmate, Lauren Giddings, we tried to come up with a Nancy Grace-style nickname for the accused. Inspired by Tot Mom, Nancy Grace’s moniker for Casey Anthony, one reader suggested “Chain Mail Man” (based on McDaniel’s penchant for wearing chain mail to his law school classes).

In light of new evidence that has come to light, however, a better nickname has emerged for Stephen McDaniel. Until a superior option presents itself, the defendant may occasionally be referred to in these pages as “Hacksaw McDaniel.”

What is the basis for this new handle? Let’s take a look at the arrest warrant for Stephen M. McDaniel, which lays out the gruesome particulars….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Plot Thickens: Say Hello to ‘Hacksaw McDaniel’”

When I was in college, it was not altogether uncommon for people to leave their laptops unattended with their Facebook accounts still logged in. It was not altogether uncommon for an enterprising prankster to creatively twiddle with said account. A little switch of sexual preference here, a mildly offensive profile picture there, and maybe a nonsensical new profile quote.

It was annoying, and at worst required minor social media damage control, but nobody seemed to care much.

Nowadays, people definitely care. The California Court of Appeals ruled on July 21 that the same sort of online mischief can lead to felony identity theft conviction.

Let’s learn more about Rolando S., a teenager who messed with the wrong Facebook account….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Don’t Mess With Your Friend’s Facebook; It Might Be a Felony”

John J. O'Brien

Remember John J. O’Brien? Back in April 2009, we wrote about the mysterious departure of John O’Brien from Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was a well-regarded and well-liked partner in the M&A department. In a follow-up post in December 2009, we noted : “When partners leave a place like Sullivan & Cromwell, there’s often a story behind the departure.”

In our December 2009 post, we reported that John O’Brien “left Sullivan & Cromwell due to an issue relating to his taxes.” We added that the problem was personal, i.e., that it did not implicate S&C or any of its clients (unlike the fraud of another former SullCrom partner, Carlos Spinelli-Noseda, who defrauded the firm and its clients of more than $500K).

Some readers pushed back on this reporting. They claimed that John O’Brien left voluntarily and for perfectly innocent reasons. They told us to leave O’Brien alone. They accused us of harboring ill-will towards Sullivan & Cromwell (even though, to be honest, large law firms are somewhat interchangeable for us here at ATL; they’re all just potential sources of news to write about).

In light of all the flak we took for our John O’Brien coverage — similar to the criticism we received for covering Theodore Freedman’s departure from Kirkland & Ellis, a few months before Freedman got indicted by the feds — please forgive us for gloating a little. (This gloating is directed at our critics, not at John O’Brien; we have nothing against O’Brien and wish him the best of luck in moving on with his life.)

Today brings news that John J. O’Brien has been hit with federal criminal charges. Like Ted Freedman, John O’Brien has been hit with tax-related charges. But the numbers involved are larger — a lot larger….

UPDATE (7 PM): O’Brien pleaded guilty. See the update appended to the end of this post.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ex-Sullivan & Cromwell Partner Failed To Pay Taxes on Millions”

Our last post on law-related vanity license plates was on Tuesday. We received so many great photos that we couldn’t resist writing another one this week. We are always looking for more, so if you’re a fan of the Law License Plates series, please send in your photos via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).

So, on Tuesday, we wrote about Massholes. Today, we’re writing about a different kind of a-hole: criminal and DUI defense attorneys. These submissions came to us from Texas and Ohio. While these states are far apart, they seem to have one thing in common. Defense attorneys in both states are making straight cash, homey.

After looking at these plates (and the cars they’re attached to), you may want to consider changing your practice group….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law License Plates: Defenders Unite”

Stephen McDaniel

I just realized that I share several things in common with Stephen Mark McDaniel, the recent Mercer Law School graduate who has been charged with the grisly murder of his former classmate, Lauren Giddings.

During law school, I served as vice-president of my law school’s Federalist Society chapter. So did Stephen McDaniel (under Lauren Giddings, who served as president).

Through the Federalist Society, I got to meet one of my heroes, Justice Clarence Thomas. So did Stephen McDaniel, who expressed his admiration for Justice Thomas’s integrity.

I once aspired to be a prosecutor and a federal judge. So did Stephen McDaniel, who hoped to serve as a prosecutor on his way to realizing his dream of serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stephen McDaniel’s mother, Glenda McDaniel, once asked her son whether romance was possible between him and any woman. My mother has posed similar questions of me.

Lauren Giddings

And this, thankfully, is where the similarities end. My hair, while sometimes problematic, doesn’t look like the result of “a grizzly bear banging Bob Marley’s mom” (as one ATL tipster described McDaniel’s mane). In law school, I wore khakis and button-down shirts to class, not chain mail (which doesn’t sound very comfortable). I have never been accused of burglarizing apartments (to steal condoms). And I’ve certainly never been accused of murder.

As we reported last night, Stephen M. McDaniel, 25, has been charged with the horrific murder of Lauren Giddings, 27, a bright and beautiful recent graduate of Mercer Law. Giddings’s decapitated torso was found on June 30. The search for the rest of her remains continues.

Let’s take a closer look at this deeply disturbing case….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Closer Look at Stephen McDaniel, Lauren Giddings, and Mercer Law School”

Thomas Walkley

Earlier this year, we told you the strange tale of Thomas Walkley. A lawyer in Ohio, Walkley founded and runs Cafe 41:11, a coffeeshop for at-risk youth. Back in January, Walkley was accused of exposing himself to two teenage boys who applied to work at the cafe.

Walkley admitted showing his junk to the teens, but claimed that it was done for educational and mentoring purposes. Guys at my all-boys Catholic high school used to educate and mentor me all the time, it was no big deal.

The authorities didn’t buy Walkley’s argument. They tried to take him to trial.

Now we have some updates on Tom Walkley — plus comments given to Above the Law by a mother whose teenage son worked for Walkley at Cafe 41:11….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Trou-Dropping Tom Might Lose His Law License”

Stephen McDaniel

A recent graduate of Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia, Stephen Mark McDaniel, has been charged with murder, according to inmate information posted tonight on the website of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. As you may recall, Stephen McDaniel was a neighbor and classmate of Lauren Giddings, the slain Mercer Law graduate whose torso was found on June 30, inside a trash bin just outside her apartment building.

McDaniel, 25, was previously identified as a person of interest in the killing of Lauren Giddings, 27. He is currently being held in Bibb County jail, having been charged with two counts of burglary in an unrelated case.

Bibb County jail records are how the murder charge against McDaniel came to light. Let’s take a look at Stephen McDaniel’s inmate information sheet….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Stephen McDaniel Charged With Murder of Lauren Giddings”

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