Lawyer of the Day

University of Chicago Law Professor and Lake Michigan rescuer, Randall Schmidt

University of Chicago law professor Randall Schmidt and his wife, Kristen Berg, can rightly be called heroes. That’s what you call people who rescue others from plane crashes on Lake Michigan.

Their incredible story was picked up in yesterday’s Chicago Daily Herald:

The Park Ridge couple, who rescued the only known survivor of a plane that crashed into Lake Michigan off the state’s western coast Friday, were on the second to last day of their annual boating trip, finishing breakfast on their 42-foot cabin cruiser, the “Kristin Says,” docked in Frankfort, Mich…

Around 10:15 a.m., after they’d been cruising for about an hour, Schmidt heard a fisherman call the U.S. Coast Guard on the radio about a plane in the water, a few miles off the coast of Ludington, Mich.

At that point the couple took immediate action to help the survivors…

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Federal agents played a little game of “To Catch a Law Firm Partner” last week. After a few weeks of online chatting with Samuel P. Logan, 45, they lured the Foulston Siefkin partner to a mall to meet the 14-year-old girl named “stazie” to whom he thought he had been sending naked photos.

Instead of his online Lolita, Logan met up with some very-of-age FBI agents. He’s now been charged with enticing a minor to have sex and one count of sending and receiving child pornography, according to the Kansas City Star.

That’s all pretty outrageous, but the story gets much more scandalous…

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When I worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I’d sometimes hear colleagues joke about handing over their Justice Department credentials along with their driver’s license if pulled over for a moving violation. It was a joke because it was generally understood that trying to get out of a speeding ticket by flaunting one’s status as law enforcement was a bad idea (setting aside the ethical issues). The police officer might give you a free pass, or he might get ticked off at your attempt to take advantage of your position. You could end up with a scandal on your hands — the kind of scandal that could derail career ambitions.

This is a lesson that Iowa attorney Lisa Jones-Hall learned the hard way. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports:

A woman on track to become a Linn County prosecutor lost that chance after police pulled her over in Marion last month for having tinted windows. New dash cam video police released today shows Lisa Jones-Hall called the officer names and tried to use her new job to get out of the ticket. The officer asked Jones-Hall to sign a ticket because he said her windows were illegally tinted. But, she initially refused to sign it, called the officer names and then brought up the job she was supposed to start the following week.

“Ok. I want you to arrest me for having tinted windows. I start with the Linn County Prosecutor’s Office next Tuesday. I want you to arrest me for not signing this,” Jones-Hall told the officer.

After hearing about this incident, the Linn County Prosecutor’s Office decided not to hire Jones-Hall.

Ouch. Jones-Hall should have read our earlier post about how lawyers should handle traffic stops (which also involved the offense of overly tinted windows).

The police video is actually quite mortifying — the article doesn’t do it justice….

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Hippocrate “Cheecho” Mertsaris: Does he have a weakness for judicial buttocks?

In a few weeks, an interesting trial will be getting underway in Queens Criminal Court here in New York. The underlying incident should provide fodder for either a Lawyer of the Day or a Judge of the Day — but it’s not clear which.

The episode giving rise to the criminal charges was reported back in May by the New York Daily News:

A disabled lawyer accused of touching the rear end of a Taxi and Limousine Commission judge is blaming it on his cerebral palsy. Queens prosecutors have charged Hippocrate Mertsaris, 35, with sexual abuse and sexual harassment for allegedly grabbing the woman’s inner thigh and buttocks during a meeting in her Kew Gardens offices.

Mertsaris’ lawyer, Wyatt Gibbons, admits his client touched the woman but denies it was sexual. “He whacked her in the butt but it wasn’t sexual abuse,” Gibbons said. “He has spastic movements.”

Let’s dig a little deeper….

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Does LeBron James have lawyerly genes?

LeBron James, who’s your daddy? (Unfortunately, it’s not the Knicks, to Elie’s great dismay.) Could it be a Washington lawyer by the name of Leicester Bryce Stovell?

Stovell came forward this week, claiming to have knocked up Gloria James when she was 15 and to have genetic proof that he’s the King’s father. Like all good dads should, Stovell is suing his new-found son and baby mama for $4 million for denying paternity. TMZ reported on the lawsuit on Wednesday along with photos of Stovell, saying the resemblance is uncanny. At the very least, it’s true that they’re both tall.

TMZ was blown away by Stovell’s credentials:

[T]he man making the claim isn’t some schmuck — dude is a Princeton graduate … who earned a law degree from the University of Chicago … and then became a Senior Legal Advisor for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Au contraire. You can get a law degree from the U of Chicago and still be a schmuck. One of Stovell’s former colleagues attests to that…

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Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

The Washington Post reports:

Three years into his own scheme of dipping into clients’ funds, Maryland malpractice lawyer Bradley Schwartz received an e-mail from a man claiming to represent a manufacturing company in Singapore, offering him legal work…

What happened next, according to Montgomery County prosecutors, is that the scammer got scammed.

Schwartz pleaded guilty and now awaits sentencing. Oh, it is sweet when a thief gets his just reward…

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Last Friday, we named Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Ama Dwimoh our Lawyer of the Day. As a prosecutor, Dwimoh goes after child abusers. And yet, according to the New York Daily News — irony alert! — she herself abuses the kiddies, i.e., legal interns in her office.

One reader with firsthand knowledge protested this portrayal of the Brooklyn DA’s office and its treatment of interns:

I’m [a law student] intern at the KCDAO [Kings County District Attorney's Office], and from everything I’ve heard from all of my intern colleagues, the senior ADA’s have been nothing less than amazing — they find us work to do, always treat us with respect, always make us feel appreciated, and the office is gloriously drama-free.

This tipster has a theory about what’s going on here….

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Ama Dwimoh looks composed here, but is it an act?

Deferred associates spending a year in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office claim that Brooklyn ADA Ama Dwimoh is an abusive boss.

At first blush, one assumes that kids who have been coddled at the best schools and top firms simply weren’t prepared for the rough and tumble world of actual lawyering.

But the Brooklyn D.A., Charles Hynes, is seriously looking into the allegations and has suspended Dwimoh. Can she really be that bad?

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Our typical Lawyer of the Day is an attorney you’ve never heard of, from a firm you’ve never heard of. It’s highly unusual for LOTD honors to go to a pair of legal titans, two of the nation’s leading litigators: Ted Wells (pictured) and Marty Flumenbaum, the co-chair and former chair, respectively, of the celebrated litigation department at Paul Weiss.

It appears, however, that the honors are deserved. The New York Law Journal reports:

A New Jersey judge has sanctioned two firms, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Lowenstein Sandler, for pursuing a “frivolous” and “ridiculous” legal claim on behalf of billionaire Ronald Perelman against his 85-year-old ex-father-in-law [Robert Cohen]….

Superior Court Judge Ellen L. Koblitz ruled that Perelman’s attorneys should have known that the claim was unsupportable. “No competent attorney could have missed the frivolous nature of this promise claim once the unhelpful testamentary documents were received,” Koblitz said in ordering the sanctions last Wednesday. “There was no legal or factual basis for the plaintiffs to proceed with their amended complaint given the evidence they had and the state of the law in New Jersey.”

Ouch — quite the stinging benchslap. The Garden State hasn’t seen such a slugging since the first season of Jersey Shore.

And other marquee names got dragged into this mess — a pair of high-powered lady lawyers, in fact….

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Would you shed your bra for a client? Earlier this month, Miami attorney Brittney Horstman did just that, while trying to pay a visit to a client at the Miami Federal Detention Center — but it did not help her case.

When Horstman visited the center on June 4, she set the metal detector off. The guards at the detention center barred her from entering while wearing a bra with underwire. The prison dress code doesn’t bar the bras, but it appears to be informal policy at the prison — presumably because an inmate might use the metal to make a Victoria’s Secret shiv and bust out.

So Horstman went to the bathroom and took her bra off. But the guards again declined to let her enter. From the Miami Herald:

In blouse and jacket, she returned, and cleared the walk-through detector.

Again, guards refused to let her pass — now, because she was braless, which is against prison dress code guidelines.

Apparently this has happened before, and there’s a special memo allowing defense attorneys to enter the center wearing a wire (bra). As women know, it’s hard to find a bra without underwire, after all…

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