Criminal Defense

That’s what some people are saying.

It’s a brutal attack on an attorney running for governor, blasting him for representing criminal defendants. How can he protect battered women when he helped their abusers beat the rap? How indeed. Oh, and it’s not just that he helped their abusers, he did so for money. Because counseling the accused for fees in this country is where all the money is. It’s a seedy racket no way at all as admirable as, I don’t know, lobbying elected officials for political favors at the expense of the citizenry. If only this guy was smart enough to take hundreds of thousands to poison rivers and streams he wouldn’t be such a scumbag.

This ad is just goddamned brilliant at connecting the disingenuous dots for the easily duped.

And this message was “approved” — ultimately — by a former prosecutor who’s now being investigated by the office he once led….

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* Let’s hit some lingering holiday stories that came in after we went off the air on Tuesday. Think of it as your Christmas hangover. First up, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, reimagined as a lesson on pregnancy discrimination. [Bolek Besser Glesius]

* On a related note, here’s a nice chart comparing the original poem with the legalese version created by Dezert-Rose. [TaxProf Blog]

* Well, that’s one thing you can do with law reporters in the age of Westlaw and Lexis. [Legal Cheek]

* Isn’t it really nice of prosecutors when they actually try to fulfill their constitutional obligations? [Katz Justice]

* A life lesson for these thieves: there’s no such thing as a Christmas tree that doesn’t shed. [Legal Juice]

* The lawyers supposedly told NFL players they would not be taking any of the concussion settlement money. There’s a lesson to be had here about how you shouldn’t trust lawyers. [Overlawyered]

* Professor Nancy Leong went on Ashley Madison with a “white” profile and an “Asian” profile. The Asian profile got more hits. Is this interesting? Sure. Is this the sort of academic work worth charging law students $180K to support? Not so much. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

This one escaped our attention for a while, but apparently Slate writer Matthew Yglesias set off a war of words a couple weeks ago with an article about the Zimmerman trial and the role of public defenders. Yglesias, best known for having a much better handle on inflation than Ben Bernanke, waded into legal commentary, contrasting Zimmerman’s trial experience with the experience of indigent criminal defendants.

Former public defenders took offense at the article and have taken to the Internet and social media to rip Yglesias. Yglesias has offered an apology and been rebuffed.

So what’s the deal here?

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George Zimmerman, Esquire?

He wanted to be a cop for awhile, but he’s talked about going to law school.

He has a real interest in the law and … prosecuting appropriately — not like what he got — is something he’s very interested in. I will not be surprised if he ends up in criminal law. His dad was a judge, and he wants to be a prosecutor or a lawyer.

Mark O’Mara, one of George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys, speaking about his recently acquitted client’s law school ambitions.

(Which law school do you think will accept Zimmerman as a student? Will he have any issues with bar admission? Do you think he’d be a good lawyer?)

* Who is the real John Roberts? Will he forever be known as health care reform’s savior, or the man who disregarded precedent to gut minority voting rights? Hell if we know, so we’ll let you be the judge. [Opinionator / New York Times]

* The man may be a mystery, but one thing’s for sure when it comes to Chief Justice Roberts: it’s fair to say that at this point, he’d sincerely appreciate it if his colleagues would kindly STFU during oral argument. [Big Story / Associated Press]

* Elena Kagan, a justice who was never a judge, is now being praised for her ability to put the law into terms that non-lawyers can understand. That’s a score for law professors everywhere. [New York Times]

* In terms of the Voting Rights Act, while the chances of the current Congress enacting a universal voting law are approximately nil, there are other effective avenues that could be taken. [New York Times]

* On Friday, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay on gay marriages in California, and less than 24 hours later, Prop 8 supporters filed an emergency motion with SCOTUS to stop all of the weddings. Lovely. [NPR]

* Meanwhile, ex-judge Vaughn Walker thinks Justice Scalia’s having joined the high court’s majority on standing telegraphed the fact that he didn’t have votes to uphold Prop 8 as constitutional. [NPR]

* Rubber stamp this: Judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are so upset that they’re being made out as government patsies that they’re talking to the press about it. [Washington Post]

* Whether you think Chevron is “suing [Patton Boggs] lawyers for litigating” or for promoting fraud that “shocks the conscience,” here’s a summary of what’s going on in an epic case. [Washington Post]

* Got a high-profile criminal defense firm? Look out, because you may have captured Biglaw’s eye. Take, for example, Stillman & Friedman, which will be merging with Ballard Spahr. [New York Times]

* Apparently being in your mid-50s is a “good time to [retire]” for law deans who pull in six figures. Ken Randall, outgoing dean of Alabama Law, says he’s “really ready for the next challenge.” [AL.com]

We all know by now just how many atrocious lawyer websites there are out there. Whenever I see a tip show up in my inbox about legal advertising, I prepare myself for yet another round of “What Were They Thinking?” But every once in a rare while, someone comes along who has mastered the advertising game. It takes a special talent to know what is just the right amount of crazy to be awesome.

It occurs to me that before today I never stopped to ask myself the important question, “What might Shaft’s website look like if he were a lawyer?” Which is unfortunate, because now I know the answer. And it is good.

So who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? Carl B. Grant. Right on.

Kids, it’s time to turn up your speakers, sit back, and enjoy the greatness that is Carl B. Grant, if you can handle it.

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David Otunga

* “Enough is enough.” Come on, Togut, did you really think all of the Dewey drama was going to end just because the judge approved your settlement plan? Now he’s trying to get the former partners committee disbanded. This won’t end well. [Am Law Daily]

* Covington & Burling was disqualified from representing Minnesota in the state’s anti-pollution case against ex-client 3M over a conflict of interest. A “conscious disregard” of professional duties? This is 1L stuff, really. [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]

* Remember J. Michael Johnson, the former dean of Louisiana College Law who resigned for a “great job offer” before the school even opened? He’s now senior counsel for the ultraconservative Liberty Institute. [Alexandria Town Talk]

* “If you’ve been hit by a table, ladder, or chair, call David Otunga.” What has this Harvard Law grad turned WWE wrestler been up to, aside from filming commercials at criminal defense firms? [City Sentinel]

* “The argument is absolutely absurd.” An ex-high school coach accused of having sex with a student wants Oklahomas’s ban on student-teacher relationships overturned as unconstitutional. [Alva Review-Courier]

Is, is... is that a baby?

Now this is an Innocence Project.

An Australian coroner has ruled that a dingo really did eat Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton’s baby, over 30 years ago.

To put this in context, the line “a dingo ate my baby” comes from this case! This case was the basis for the movie A Cry in the Dark with Meryl Streep (though IMDB claims that the famous line was never actually spoken in this movie).

So Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, the “dingo ate my baby” lady, has been vindicated! What a world. Next thing you know, dogs will actually start eating homework, and O.J. will find his ex-wife’s real killers.

How did we come to this?

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Imagine that you’re a lawyer on maternity leave, and you find out on a Friday — somewhat short notice, but you have the weekend to sort things out — that your request for a trial delay has been denied. You have to go to court on Monday. What would you do in that kind of a situation?

While some would simply ask a family member to watch the baby, others would hit the babysitter’s number on speed dial in a heart beat. Others would farm the case out to a competent colleague. And others still would dump the baby off at the local daycare center that specialized in newborns. Each of these options seems reasonably workable.

But Amber Vazquez Bode, the lawyer this actually happened to, wasn’t having it. Interrupt my maternity leave? Screw you, judge, I’m bringing my baby to court….

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Friday night, I attended the first ever Innocence Project of Florida dinner. I was invited by a close, personal Twitter follower board member, and upon acceptance, asked by someone in one of my Google+ circles the Incoming Chair of the Innocence of Project of Florida to turn over a fairly large amount of cash to be a co-sponsor. Apparently, while Holland & Knight was receiving an award for their thousands of hours helping to free the wrongfully convicted, money for the dinner wasn’t pouring in from the establishment. Maybe next year.

As lawyer-type dinners go, it was a little different — poor lawyers representing alleged violent criminals mixed with Biglaw lawyers who spent the last decade doing the same, as well as three dozen judges, the elected state attorney, the appointed United States Attorney, and a slew of law students. Also in the crowd were a half-dozen exonerees. The exonerees included James Bain, who served more time than any other exoneree — 35 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He went to jail when I was four years old, and got out as I was planning a trip for my 40th birthday.

The night had its share of speeches and awards. One of the awards went to lawyer Marty McClain, whose client, Juan Melendez, was there among the suits wearing a t-shirt. Juan spent 17 years, eight months, and one day on death row before being exonerated. Marty’s other client, Frank Lee Smith, couldn’t make it because he died of cancer on death row before being exonerated. At his table was Marty’s high school buddy, actor Tony Shalhoub, who looked like a stalking fan taking pictures on his phone when his lawyer-friend was honored for being poor and a hero. While people were asking Shalhoub for pictures and autographs, he was busy being enamored with Marty….

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