Lunacy

Granny wants you to not be an idiot.

Pure lunacy is on display today in the Dear Prudence column on Slate. A prospective law student is set to take the December administration of the LSAT. But his or her grandmother — for ease of reference, I’ll use the male pronoun throughout this post — recently lost a battle with Alzheimer’s. Hence this question to Prudence (from questioner “Funerals and Such”):

I lost my grandmother yesterday, and I am devastated as we were very close. She had Alzheimer’s for years, and I made my peace with this some time ago. My family has planned the funeral for Saturday.

Here is the problem: My LSAT is Saturday, and I have waited for years for an opportunity to pursue law school. (I am near 30.) I told my mom that I couldn’t make the funeral because I cannot reschedule the LSAT, and she was furious! I have been on the phone with the LSAT people all morning, pleading to reschedule. No luck. Mom has informed me that she and my family are really disappointed with me, and I need to be at the funeral in order to pay my respects.

I don’t want to disappoint my family, but I have waited my entire life for this chance at law school, and I don’t want to give it up now. Additionally, if I don’t take the LSAT on Saturday, I will miss the opportunity to take it again in February (possible surgery), and I can kiss law school for next fall goodbye!

Yeah, this fellow is trying to decide between taking the LSAT or honoring his dead grandmother, and it’s apparently an open question. He’s going to make an excellent Biglaw attorney someday.

In the meantime, Prudence and I disagree about the appropriate response….

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This morning, the Senate had a TSA oversight hearing to discuss serious issues around secure air travel, notably the use of see-through-your-clothes scanners and aggressive “crotchal area” patdowns. A highlight was the TSA head offering any of the senators that wanted one a sample patdown to experience it for themselves. No happy ending guaranteed.

For the patdowns and scanners, that is. “There must be a way to figure out how to do what’s necessary… and for the privacy concern to be addressed because it’s legitimate,” said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in her opening remarks.

Frequent flyers are increasingly annoyed with their air travel experiences, whether they’re being scanned, felt up, paying for extra bags, or having their flights delayed or canceled. One U.K. man turned to Twitter in January to vent his frustration when his visit to a lady friend in Ireland was thwarted by a snowstorm. Paul Chambers tweeted, “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh*t together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

The British sense of humor tends to be dry. Chambers’s was too dry for the courts there. He was convicted of being a menace and ordered to pay $4,800 in costs and fines. When his appeal was denied last week, it caused an explosion on Twitter. And those protest tweets will soon be turned over to police…

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As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Randy Quaid, notable character actor of questionable talent, is on the run. The star is apparently seeking asylum in Canada. He and his wife Evi skipped out on a California court date for allegedly squatting in their former house.

Apparently the Quaids are afraid that more than a court date is waiting for them in the U.S. According to published reports, Randy and Evi believe they are on the “hit list” of a group of “Hollywood star whackers” who are also responsible for the deaths of Heath Ledger and David Carradine.

I don’t know — the Joker, Kill Bill, and Russell Casse? Who doesn’t belong on that list?

In event, you have to check out the handwritten note the Quaids’ lawyer showed in court…

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For a long time, Jonathan Lee Riches reigned as Craziest Pro Se Litigant in America. But at a certain point, JLR jumped the proverbial shark. His handwritten complaints, making bizarre allegations against everyone from Michael Vick to Martha Stewart to the late Benazir Bhutto, were just too clever by half. And once he passed the 1,500 mark in lawsuits, his shtick got… old.

Fortunately we have a new favorite pro se party for you. Meet Deborah Frisch (or Deborah E. Frisch, Ph.D., as she identifies herself in court filings). Frisch appears to be something of a loon, despite her doctorate and past teaching positions at such schools as the University of Oregon and the University of Arizona. Ironically enough, or maybe not so ironically, the nutty professor teaches… psychology.

Here’s the charming opening paragraph from a document that Frisch filed last week in federal district court in Oregon:

Plaintiff shall henceforth refer to self as litigant since she is defendant, appellant or plaintiff, depending on which shyster-vermin she is dealing with. Litigant files this response to the order filed by Docket Clerk Brinn and signed by USDC-OR Magistrate Coffin deeming all pending motions… moot since the frocked cowfucker in San Francisco denied the plaintiff’s appeal.

The “frocked cowfucker” appears to be the Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, who served on a panel that rejected a Frisch appeal. For the record, his chambers are in Pasadena, not San Francisco.

Let’s look at the rest of Frisch’s filing, shall we?

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Practice pointer: don’t refer to judges as ‘frocked cowf**kers.’

Carl Paladino’s had a bad week. A no duh. It began with a bizarrely homophobic speech to Orthodox Jewish leaders last Sunday. It continued with a sad attempt to apologize for those remarks. And Carl’s crazy exploits threaten to become The Neverending Story (sans flying dog-thing with floppy ears), as yesterday the twitterverse, blogosphere and other made-up words were filled with chatter about pornographic emails, Planned Parenthood, and a Paladino campaign adviser who marched shirtless in a gay pride parade. Really, all those things happened. A full week for anyone.

So why you gotta bring up old sh*t, Juggalo?

Because it looks like we totally missed a story that came out before this week’s avalanche of goofiness. As it turns out, Carl Paladino was a law school student once. And the Syracuse Post-Standard interviewed him about his law school career last week, only to find out embellishment might come as naturally to him as rattling off homophobic rants…

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For some of you, the bar exam starts tomorrow. Your friends at Above the Law — and our bar-related advertisers, including Kaplan PMBR and BarMax — wish you the best of luck.

If you’re looking for more review questions, check out our post from yesterday, based on Professor Laurence Tribe’s unfortunate incident at a Safeway supermarket. A few of you have already posted impressive responses, suggesting that you’re going to ace the big test.

But the Larry Tribe fact pattern would have been labeled “EASY.” Here’s something far more challenging, from writer-turned-lawyer Elizabeth Wurtzel, who explains:

When I was studying for the bar for the first time in New Haven, in my total frustration, I wrote a parody of a bar exam question, or may be of a Barbri question. I posted it on the Wall at YLS [Yale Law School's list-serv], and I am told that ever since it has been reposted every bar exam season.

I have gotten suggestions that I publish it, and a couple of people have actually attempted to answer it, which is crazy. In any case, do what you want with it.

It is hilarious, and insane, and it will make your head hurt — or explode. Check it out below….

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There are a lot of angry job hunters in the legal marketplace right now, thanks to lots of debt and little in the way of prospects. They’re desperate, frustrated, and may be dangerous. The Great Recession has turned some of these poor legal puppies into Cujos.

In May, we wrote about a heated exchange between a Massachusetts law student and a potential lawyerly employer. The lawyer, Rose Clayton, had hesitations about hiring the law student as a paralegal and offered to hire him on a trial basis. When he objected, demanding a full-time offer instead, she laid out exactly what he had done wrong. That set him off and the conversation deteriorated into an exchange of unconstructive criticism. The law student, Jesse Clark, ended with this:

It’s amazing that the Ma Bar lets women practice law. Shouldn’t you be home cleaning and raising children? As for your practice, its just Bankruptcy. It’s not difficult, and many Petitioners file pro bono and get discharges.

Clayton posted the exchange online, redacting the student’s name, and Massachusetts Law Weekly picked up on it. And then we picked up on it. Jesse Clark responded on his blog and thus shed the cloak of anonymity.

Noah Schaffer at the Massachusetts Law Weekly’s Docket identified Clark in a second story, which led Clark to create a nude modeling profile for Schaffer.

After corresponding with Clark, my photo and phone number found their way into a Craigslist casual encounters ad. I deflated quite a few, um, hearts when I let the many callers know that it was a prank.

Then all was quiet on the digital terrorism front for over a month. Until this week. Rose Clayton became the victim of a nasty new prank…

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Laura Hall: banned for two years from all pubs and clubs in England

I’ve certainly been kicked out of a few bars in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been officially “banned” from one, but there are certainly places that I’d probably not be welcomed back to. Getting banned from a couple of bars isn’t really a big deal. You’re probably not having enough fun if you’ve never run the risk of being banned from a particular watering hole.

But getting banned from every bar in an entire country? That is something special. The Daily Mail reports that a woman — a wee babe of 20 — has pulled off this amazing feat:

A woman has become the first person to be banned from buying or drinking alcohol anywhere in England and Wales.

Laura Hall, 20, was issued with a Drinking Banning Order – nicknamed Booze Asbos – which bars her from entering any pub, club, off-licence or bar.

The two-year order also bans Hall from buying alcohol at any other establishment or shop, carrying it in an unsealed container or drinking it in a public place.

A “Drinking Banning Order”? What the hell kind of totalitarian remedy is that?

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This must be the most profanity-laced piece of transcript since Aaron Wider’s deposition. It’s the transcript of the sentencing hearing before Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.) at which Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Pokorny was attacked by the defendant, before the court reporter and defense counsel tackled the assailant.

The transcript was prepared by Ron Tolkin, the court reporter involved in the incident, from an audio recording. Even the heroic Mr. Tolkin can’t simultaneously (1) kick the a** of a kid decades his junior and (2) transcribe the proceedings for posterity.

Excerpts appear below. For the full transcript, see the link at the end of this post.

Victor Wright transcript Above the Law blog.jpg

UPDATE: Another choice excerpt, pointed out by several of you in the comments:

Victor Wright Ron Tolkin Carolyn Pokorny Eastern District New York ATL.jpg

To read the full transcript, click here (PDF). If you do, the “press it in” discussion might be confusing (and sound completely filthy). An E.D.N.Y. source clarifies:

["Pressing it in" refers] to the CSO, Marshalls and Deputy discussing how to activate the panic button. In the old E.D.N.Y. courthouse, you push in, but in the new one, you pull out.

Sentencing Hearing Transcript: United States v. Victor Wright (PDF)

Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Harry Batchelder (And Court Reporter of the Day: Ron Tolkin)

The Empire State is sending all sorts of craziness our way lately. From the New York — no, not the Washington — Post:

A female federal prosecutor was viciously attacked by a hulking, razor-wielding drug dealer in a Brooklyn courtroom yesterday – and was saved when the thug’s 72-year-old lawyer and others tackled him.

“He was going to slash her throat,” said defense lawyer Harry Batchelder, who, along with a court reporter and two marshals, slammed Victor Wright, 27 [or 37?], to the ground and grabbed an inch-long razor blade from him.

Criminal defense lawyers are badass — even the septuagenarians. And don’t forget the court reporter:

“Why don’t you try me instead of her?” stenographer Ron Tolkin shouted at the cowardly criminal as he leaped on Wright, before the group fell to the ground in a heap.

Both the elderly lawyer and Tolkin, 60, are former military men who served in Vietnam.

And what about Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.) — what did he do? From Newsday:

Block immediately left the bench after the melee started, and more marshals rushed into the courtroom and helped subdue Wright, court officials said.

That’s too bad. This story would have been perfect with the addition of a black-robed avenger, whacking the criminal into submission with a gavel.

P.S. Despite our admiration for federal judges qua judges, if we needed to be defended against a knife-wielding lunatic, we’d go with a state court judge any day of the week. E.g., Judge Ira Robinson.

RAZOR MANIAC JUMPS FED PROSECUTOR IN COURT [New York Post]
Drug dealer attacks 2 in Brooklyn courtroom [New York Newsday]

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