Illinois

As Brian Tannebaum wrote earlier today, many lawyers (and their cases) live and die by the ticking of the clock. Any attorney — or anyone who’s ever talked with an attorney — has heard about late nights struggling to file a brief by deadline.

So what happens when a litigant files a motion for appeal at 3 a.m. instead of the 12 a.m. deadline, and the judge allows the late filing anyway, then dismisses it on the merits… leading to yet another appeal?

In our Benchslap of the Day, Judge Frank Easterbrook writes, “it does not take a reference to Cinderella to show that midnight marks the end of one day and the start of another.” But maybe the plaintiff in the case does need to remember that he turns into a pumpkin at midnight, not 3 a.m….

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'F**k this f**king sh*tty bonus!'

* “Our assets went home every night, until one night, they went home and never came back.” Aww, Dewey shed a tear for this bankrupt law firm? Nah. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* It looks like SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas decided to kiss and make up with his alma mater, Yale Law School. He’ll be the keynote speaker at an alumni dinner in D.C. this summer. [Reuters]

* And the marriage equality battle has finally arrived in Obama’s former stomping grounds. Lambda Legal and the ACLU are challenging the ban on gay marriage in Illinois. [Associated Press]

* The biggest news out of the John Edwards trial yesterday was that Judge Eagles told the alternate jurors they didn’t have to show up anymore. OMG, boring. Give us a verdict already. [ABC News]

* Kim Dotcom and his company’s defense against the DOJ’s charges is coming together piece by piece. If only Megaupload were a torrent site, this would be a much better nerd joke. [Media Decoder / New York Times]

* The ABA Journal wants to know if you curse in the workplace, and if so, in what situations. We bet that a fair share of Biglaw associates were dropping f-bombs left and right over this year’s bonuses. [ABA Journal]

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….

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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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Female attorneys must be on the same cycle in Illinois, because based on all of the ethics complaints that have come down the pipeline, they’ve been acting a little crazy.

Today’s tale of alleged attorney misconduct comes to us as a result of a former public defender’s behavior in court. It’s nowhere near as juicy as the allegations against Reema Bajaj or Tamara Tanzillo, but it’s certainly a cautionary tale for lawyers everywhere who get a little hot-headed when they’re arguing before the bench.

Before you can say “oh sh*t,” let’s get down to the allegations….

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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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She definitely loves wieners.

* Vedel Browne has been charged in the machete robbery of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. He faces up to 20 years if convicted, and with that sentence, we’re betting he wishes he got away with more than $1,000. [CNN]

* ¡Viva México! These days, Mexico’s got more than just drug cartels, violence, and prison riots. More and more U.S. and international law firms (like DLA Piper) are crossing the border to set up shop. [Wall Street Journal]

* Which Biglaw firms own New York’s congressional delegation in terms of donations? The same Biglaw firms that have handed out bigger bonus dollars: Boies Schiller, Davis Polk, and Paul Weiss. [Politicker]

* Jury selection in the Tyler Clementi case is under way. Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers student who allegedly spied on his roommate, faces up to ten years in prison. Should’ve taken the plea bargain, bro. [New York Post]

* Some women like their wieners with a side of abuse, but that doesn’t mean they want the encounter memorialized on film. A federal judge says that’s too bad, so let the cameras roll. [Hollywood Reporter]

* Katherine Darmer, a Chapman University law professor, passed away after falling from a building last week. Her death is now being probed as a possible suicide. Rest in peace, professor. [Los Angeles Times]

It pretty much goes without saying that if you voluntarily agree to work in an establishment where the uniform consists of knee-highs, a tartan mini skirt, a bare midriff, and a push-up bra, you’re going to risk exposure to some lecherous individuals. That’s a given.

But what happens when it’s not just the patrons who are acting like horny frat boys? What happens when the most prominent pervert is your boss?

That is what has been alleged in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by employees of the Tilted Kilt in Chicago, Illinois, a breastaurant that’s advertised to consumers as the “best looking sports pub you’ve ever seen.” Let’s take a look at some of the allegations….

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Fricano asserts that the Cleveland Indians are “the arch rival” of the Chicago White Sox. While the two teams maintain a healthy rivalry, this court notes that it is generally accepted, at least among informed baseball followers, that the title of arch rival belongs to the reviled Minnesota Twins, to be shared, during inter-league play, with the Chicago Cubs.

Judge Joseph Gordon of the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District, in a fact-checking footnote to Fricano v. Chicago White Sox, Ltd. Marianne Fricano unsuccessfully sued the South Side Chicago baseball team, alleging civil rights violations and other torts, after she was arrested for fighting at a 2004 game against the Indians.

This is a gruesome story and sad story. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a 78-year-old man jumped out of his office at 111 W. Washington Street….

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