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….
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….
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.
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….
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….
I’ve said before that the word “literally” is overused and misused in our culture. I’m guilty of it, and so are many others. It’s not a big deal, except for the fact that when you really need the word, its meaning has been diminished.
But guys, today we have a story about a man who literally and successfully set himself on fire on the courthouse steps and died. To quote a tipster: “If burning yourself alive to protest the court system isn’t sensational enough to merit a mention on ATL, I don’t know what is.”
But why self-immolation? Well, let’s take a look at the man’s 10,000 word suicide note….
* Eric Turkewitz channeling Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Look, let’s be blunt here. Who is in a better position to pay the costs of an injury if a city bus injures people? Our strapped city budget, or the victims?” [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Obama says drug legalization is worth a debate. For those scoring at home: we can talk about legalizing drugs, but we can’t talk about controlling guns. [Huffington Post]
* Meanwhile, Florida criminalizes… bath salts? Bonobo Bro has the winning blurb: “Check out this example of the brocist nanny state trying to get in the way of spring break, bath salts that have cocaine like effects and a few other of the principals this great nation was founded on.” [WJHG]
* Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana won’t seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. [Politico]
* Speaking of former Republican presidential hopefuls, Fred Thompson prepares to lobby on behalf of trial lawyers. Seriously. Cancel Law & Order and the universe starts breaking down. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The number eight proves lucky for one taker of the New Hampshire bar exam — and the number $140,000, not so lucky. After passing the NH bar exam on his eighth try, the debt-laden lad gets dinged on character and fitness — a familiar tale by now. [Legal Profession Blog via ABA Journal]
* Gotta love it when Jamie Dimon gets catty. [Dealbreaker]
* A corporate partner in the Moscow office of Baker Botts apparently took his own life. John Sheedy, R.I.P. [Am Law Daily]
I work in a fairly specialized litigation sub-field in a suburban market. The bar of attorneys who do what I do around where I am is therefore a pretty small and cutthroat group that hasn’t exactly emphasized “civility” in recent years.
I found out that a lawyer who’s one of my firm’s regular adversaries recently died. It wasn’t a big surprise; he’d been sick and in the hospital for some time, plus he was pushing 65-70. The thing is, he was (and his law partner still is) a gigantic asshole. He’d engage in frivolous tactics to rack up billables and then cut clients loose as soon as they couldn’t pay anymore. He’d insult other lawyers, including judges, in correspondence and at depositions. He’d condescend to women and junior attorneys. He even once wrote a smear piece about my firm as an op-ed in the local bar newsletter.
All this is to say, I know one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but I’m not exactly grieving. There’s going to be a memorial service, but I’m not exactly sure what to do in this situation. Should I go and at least make an appearance, and duck out at the earliest opportunity? Would it be bad form not to go, because the legal community in my practice area is so small? Should I just send a card? Or should I go and secretly gloat?
– Left Behind
Dear Left Behind,
When it comes to death and funerals, there is no right or wrong. People grieve in their own way, and sometimes not at all, particularly if the deceased was a truly horrible person…
It’s a pretty sad time at Southwestern School of Law. The National Law Journal reports:
The recent murder of a 17-year-old girl who was abducted near the Los Angeles campus of Southwestern University School of Law has sent shockwaves through the law school.
The victim’s mother, Deborah Drooz, a partner at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, had just finished a summer course as an adjunct professor at the school.
The victim, Lily Burk, was leaving Southwestern’s campus when she was abducted. A suspect has been arrested for her murder:
Burk had just picked up some paperwork at the Southwestern Law School’s building for her mother when she was abducted on Friday afternoon, according to recent press reports. During the next hour, Burk called her parents, asking how to withdraw cash from an ATM using her credit card. Her beaten body was discovered in her car Saturday morning at a downtown parking lot. A 50-year-old transient, Charles Samuel, who had entered a drug treatment program near the law school’s campus, has been arrested for her murder.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Drooz and her family.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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Additional information can be located on our website, at www.sgtlaw.com.