It’s been some time since we checked in on Heidi Fleiss. The infamous Hollywood Madam, who spent the 90s as the top entry on Charlie Sheen’s speed dial, spent 20 months in the federal pen for tax evasion and joined the washed-up quasi-celebrity circuit. After appearing on both Big Brother and Celebrity Rehab, Fleiss faded away.
But now she’s back in the news after the police raided her house and allegedly found an abundance of illegal activity.
I support radical reform of our nation’s drug laws not despite my conservative political views, but because of them. Decriminalization efforts support at least three values that mean much to me as a conservative. Decriminalization falls in line with the conservative (or at least libertarian-leaning conservative) emphasis on personal liberty and the rights of individuals to make choices about how they govern themselves, so long as their actions don’t directly harm others. Decriminalization makes good moral sense too, by not vilifying addicts and by not needlessly breaking up families through incarcerating non-violent offenders. Perhaps most significantly, radically reforming current drug laws avoids the economic irresponsibility of America’s failed war on drugs.
This week, of course, Attorney General Eric Holder announced new Justice Department policies for drug prosecutions, while addressing the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In his speech, Holder proposed tinkering with the application of mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes; modifying the Justice Department’s charging policies “so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences”; and “taking steps to identify and share best practices for enhancing the use of diversion programs – such as drug treatment and community service initiatives – that can serve as effective alternatives to incarceration.”
I commend Holder’s effort. But as a conservative considering the economics of the drug war, I’m concerned that this new policy neglects one of the most significant reasons why we need much more radical reform than this . . . .
I didn’t go to Eric Holder’s big speech at the ABA annual meeting on Monday. I kind of halfheartedly tried to go, but there were a lot of people who wanted to see Holder say something they could’ve read about online hours earlier.
If the ABA had invited Secretary of Education Arne Duncan over to speak about the horrendous abuse of federal funds by purveyors of higher education, I’d have smashed my way in. But in the crush of people trying to get a look at the Attorney General trying to dismantle a big part of the United States “War On Drugs,” I was reminded that regulating legal education is a small part of what the ABA does — and a part that isn’t of great institutional importance to the organization. The ABA wants a seat at the policy table when it comes to big sexy issues of justice and legal services. Preventing member institutions from price-gouging young people doesn’t get its logo splashed across all the major news networks.
So, Eric Holder delivered a big policy address. And later, by which point I was on a plane, Hillary Clinton spoke about how she’ll be speaking about other things as she doesn’t run for president just yet. Holder! Hillary! Marvel at the ABA’s relevance in national policy debates!
Except, they’re not relevant. Holder did make an important speech on Monday, and he couldn’t have found a more supportive group for his take-down of mandatory minimums had he been speaking to potheads in Golden Gate Park. But really, the ABA isn’t going to be any more helpful when it comes to actually convincing Congress than a meeting of the 4:20 club…
* Whitey Bulger was convicted on 31 of the 32 counts he faced. [NBC News]
* Eric Holder announced that the federal government will stop charging certain drug offenders with crimes that carry draconian mandatory minimum sentences. Apparently, he just now realized the prison system is riddled with non-violent offenders. The last horses are finally crossing the finish line, folks! [Washington Post]
* Johnny Manziel has hired counsel for his upcoming NCAA probe. Surprise, surprise, it’s Champ Kind from Anchorman. [Jim Darnell]
* As a follow-up, the lawyer who filed suit against his ex-wife for bad mothering is facing ethics charges in an unrelated matter where he wrote a will giving his own kids 40 percent of his client’s estate. It take something special to try and slip that one past the goalie. [ABA Journal]
* The former escort behind the nom de plume Belle de Jour, whose exploits gave rise to a TV show, is being sued for defamation by an old boyfriend who claims her sexploits are a lie. If you can’t trust a detailed diary of sexual experiences, what can you trust? [Jezebel]
* Here are the top energy law priorities facing Congress after they return from summer recess. Repealing Obamacare, Congress’s only priority, is not an energy policy. [Breaking Energy]
* For IP attorney LOLZ, here’s a fun Tumblr. [IP Attorney]
* A law student at Wisconsin has developed a system that allows easy stalking of someone’s smartphone. While this makes him sound like a jerk, his intention is to prove how unacceptable this lack of privacy really is. It’s not stalking if it’s proving a point! [Ars Technica]
* The Sixth Circuit thinks the emergency manager law in Michigan may violate the state’s constitution. This could throw the whole Detroit bankruptcy into doubt. There’s a lot of talk about how this could help city pensioners, but let’s focus on the victims it could cause — what would happen to Jones Day’s billings? [Constitutional Law Prof Blog]
You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.–Donald Rumsfeld
That line, besides being a viciously subtle slap at this great nation’s servicemen and women, also contains a great amount of wisdom. Rummy’s lines had a way of doing that (known knowns, unknown unknown, gnome noams, etc.). For instance, today the sports world stands on the precipice of two wars. And as we survey the looming battlefields, sabres drawn, guns loaded, war analogies wild and unkempt, we face the very real prospect of going to war not with the army we want, but the army we have. Namely, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Manziel.
But go to battle we must. Our nation’s sports, all teetering precariously on a foundation of absolute hypocrisy, threaten to come crashing down. We are aghast at the mere presence of performance enhancing drugs. At least, that’s what some dude at GNC told me. And while we believe in the free market reflexively, we do not believe a 20-year-old should share in the fruits of his labors. These are the motivating paradoxes of our current sports age and they are threatening to unravel right before our eyes. Isn’t this exciting!? It’s like when the Berlin Wall came down and the kid in your class brought the little pebble and he said “Look, this was the Berlin Wall.” And you squinted and shivered at the mere sight of such an important artifact but, seriously? You wanted to beat that kid in the face and take his history rock.
Let’s talk something other than that jerk kid and his cool commie gravel…
* The cop who became a global internet meme for pepper spraying protesters at Berkeley Davis is now appealing for worker’s comp, arguing that he suffered psychiatric injury. Pray for him. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
* Ariel Castro has pleaded guilty. Professor Douglas Berman suggests that the death penalty may have made this possible. An alternative theory is that Castro doesn’t think being locked up in a tiny space for years on end is all that bad. [Sentencing Law and Policy]
* Lawyer arrested for bringing meth into a courthouse. I’d say “better call Saul,” but this sounds more like something Saul would do. [Press Democrat]
* An Akin Gump partner, James Meggesto, is in hot water for Tweeting his disdain for a congressman and a Native American chief. For the record, when a tweet opens with “Resisting urge to tweet…”, you’ve failed. [Politico]
* This story actually reminds me of the plot to the new BSG series — a networked house can easily be hacked by cylons. Or in this case, Kashmir Hill. [Forbes]
* New York’s energy regulations are increasing demand for energy-efficient solutions. The most efficient thing about my apartment is finally getting a break in the heat. [Breaking Energy]
The remnants of the Grateful Dead (Furthur) came to town last week. I was unable to attend, as I was putting on a five-hour benefit show the next day, and I knew a party the night before would not be good for me. Well, the band only got part way into the second set before stopping the show due to “weather.” Granted, there were thunderstorms about, as a cold front was finally lifting the oppressive heat wave of July 2013. But no rain was reported at the venue, and no “weather” ever materialized. Putting on my foil-hat character for a bit tells me that Bobby is still not well, or recovered enough from his bout with something or other earlier this summer. YouTube the clip of “Bob Weir falling” and see for yourself. It is not only sad to see a legend in the throes of some sort of addiction, but it is frustrating as a fan — to pay good money for a show, only to have to leave early because one of the stars couldn’t keep it together.
I have written before about mental illness in the profession, but a more insidious and pervasive issue is alcohol and drug dependency. Everyone who uses has their own story and background about how they got into alcohol or drug use, but I want to focus on the atmosphere in the legal profession: that you cannot have a gathering of attorneys without letting the booze flow. Beginning as a summer associate, and on through your career, wherever you end up, alcoholic beverages, and to a lesser extent drugs, become an omnipresent factor in your daily life. I am not here to preach or judge, just to offer a cautionary tale.
It might also have to do with the fact the we are boring as hell when in a group, and the only way to loosen up is to imbibe….
If you take a hard line in your belief in free speech, you need to double that staunch stance when it comes to humor and satire, because they almost universally require an edge or offense of some kind. Quadruple your stance if that humor or satire is aimed at anything having to do with the government, since they’re not allowed to be offended by our speech. Sorry, government, but that’s the deal we made two-hundred-plus years ago: you get to pretend like you represent us and we get to make fun of you for it…
Last summer, we brought you a tale about some mom-and-dad law grads who had been accused of planting a potpourri of drugs and drug paraphernalia in a school aide’s car for her apparent failure to “properly supervise” their child. At the time, Kent Wycliffe Easter (UCLA Law ’98) and Jill Bjorkholm Easter (Boalt Hall ’98) were charged with conspiracy to procure a false arrest, false imprisonment, and conspiracy to falsely report a crime.
The pair later pleaded not guilty, but were indicted for those crimes in October. A fact that hasn’t been trumpeted from the rooftops — perhaps it wasn’t salacious enough? — is that according to court records, the complaint against the Easters was dismissed in November.
UPDATE (6/26/2013): But note that the grand jury indictment is still pending.
Kent and Jill Easter are understandably upset after having been dragged through the mud for so long, regardless of the fact they’re still under indictment. And so, like any lawyer would do, the Easters are now suing several parties for defamation….
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.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.