Mental Illness

Cynthia Wachenheim

Elie’s story earlier today about Cynthia Wachenheim, a Columbia Law School graduate and New York court attorney who took her own life and almost killed her infant son, has generated a lot of controversy. See, for example, the more than 100 comments on the original story.

Here at Above the Law, we believe in providing a wide range of viewpoints on different issues. Keep reading for a detailed and heartfelt message from a friend of Wachenheim who provides a counterpoint to Elie’s point of view….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of the Suicidal Columbia Law Mother”

Strapped in this, the child survived his mother’s jump out an eighth-floor window.

I was hoping to avoid this story because it’s horrible and I didn’t want to deal with it. But it’s all over the news now and so we have to talk about it.

A lawyer, Cynthia Wachenheim, on leave from the Manhattan Supreme Court, jumped to her death from a Harlem apartment with her 10-month-old son strapped to her body in an Ergo baby carrier. The baby survived.

I know that society requires and expects me to use restraint or even show sympathy for suicide “victims.” But I just can’t muster the will to conform to social conventions in this case. This woman left behind a 13-page suicide note (of course a lawyer leaves a 13-page suicide note) explaining that she thought her baby had cerebral palsy based on internet research (doctors found nothing wrong with the child). When nobody believed her crazy rantings, her solution was to try to kill her own child — as if even an actual diagnosis of CP was worse than death.

Screw this woman….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Attorney Jumps To Her Death Cradling Her Baby; The Baby Is Fine”

* What Dewey know about this failed firm’s bankruptcy case? According to Judge Glenn’s latest order, it seems like D&L’s Chapter 11 plan is on track for confirmation in late February, unless there are objections, of course. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* The Law School Admission Council is suing California because the state’s legislature banned the practice of alerting schools when applicants had extra time to complete the LSAT. How lovely that LSAC values the ability to discriminate. [National Law Journal]

* “It’s not like we let anybody in the door. We don’t.” Apparently Cooley Law’s new Florida campus has very stringent admissions standards. Oh really? What else is required, aside from a pulse? [Tampa Tribune]

* It’s now too constitutionally risky for cops to get all frisky: a federal judge ordered that the NYPD cease its stock-and-frisk trespass stops without reasonable suspicion of actual trespass. [New York Law Journal]

* Tamara Brady, the lawyer for the accused shooter in the Aurora movie theater massacre, is setting the stage for her client’s diminished capacity defense — because even the mentally ill can buy guns. [Bloomberg]

* Pfc. Bradley Manning of WikiLeaks infamy will receive a reduced sentence if he’s convicted due to his illegal pretrial punishment, like being forced to sleep in the nude. A true hero! [Nation Now / Los Angeles Times]

Carolyn Barnes

If the law allows a mentally incompetent lawyer to represent a citizen, then the law needs to be changed, because that is ridiculous.

John Bradley, the outgoing District Attorney for Williamson County, Texas, commenting on Carolyn Barnes’s ability to represent clients from inside her unit at a state psychiatric facility. Barnes has been involuntarily committed since mid-2011, when she was found incompetent to stand trial on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Deep inside me there’s a serial killer lurking somewhere. But I keep him amused with cocaine, Formula One, booty calls, and coruscating cross-examination.

– a comment made by a successful lawyer who was interviewed by renowned psychologist and author Kevin Dutton for his new book, The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success (affiliate link).

(Want to see where lawyers rank on the top ten list of the most psychopathic professions? Check out the list, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Think Your Boss Is a Psychopath? Well, He Might Actually Be One…”

Susan Cole isn't crazy, but her hair kind of is.

Almost everyone likes to fantasize and talk big game to their friends about outlandish strategies to get out of jury duty. But when it comes down to it, most normal people don’t have the balls to show up in court and act full-out crazy to avoid being seated.

For the courageous unpatriotic few who do play the nutso card, the most significant consequence would probably be a good cocktail party story. Nobody ever actually gets in trouble for creatively trying to avoid jury duty. Right?

Well, when you call in to the radio to tell your story of jury duty tomfoolery, you never know who is listening….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When an ‘Innocent’ Attempt to Avoid Jury Duty Goes Horribly Wrong”

Hemy Neuman is standing trial for murder. His defense is unusual.

Right now in Atlanta, a former operations manager at General Electric is standing trial for allegedly murdering the husband of his female coworker and alleged lover.

It’s a twisty tale of romance, deception, and violence, something you might find in an airport bookstore.

The strangest part of what has been dubbed the Dunwoody Day Care Killing, though, is the bizarre defense put forth by accused murderer Hemy Neuman. He says an angel and a demon, in the form of two celebrities, made him shoot his alleged lover’s husband.

Yes, you heard that right.…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Introducing the ‘Celebrity Angels and Demons Made Me Do It’ Murder Defense”

Herman Cain: victim of a high-tech lynching?

* Here is Bess Levin’s take on the Groomzilla lawsuit brought by Todd J. Remis, son of a Goodwin Procter partner. [Dealbreaker]

* What advice would crisis management guru Lanny Davis give to Herman Cain about Cain’s sexual harassment scandal? Here’s an imagined conversation. [The Hill]

* And here is a real conversation — between Herman Cain and Ginni Thomas, also about the sexual harassment allegations. [Daily Caller]

* Current law students, at Brooklyn Law and Cardozo, call upon the ABA to get its act together. [BLS Advocate; Cardozo Jurist]

Judge J. Paul Oetken (S.D.N.Y.)

* The legal career of NBA star Ben Wallace is off to a great start. [Yahoo! Sports]

* Antonin Pribetic asks: “Are GCs Shifting The Balance of BigLaw Power?” [The Trial Warrior]

* Congratulations to Judge Paul Oetken on joining the distinguished S.D.N.Y. bench! (I was lucky enough to attend his ceremonial induction last week, which was fabulous.) [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* And congratulations to the Dave Nee Foundation, a non-profit committed to fighting depression and preventing suicide, on its record number of law firm supporters for this year’s masquerade ball (taking place tomorrow night). [Dave Nee Foundation (press release)]

Judge Vanessa Gilmore

* Lincoln Caplan writes about Bill Stuntz — “America’s leading thinker on criminal justice, and its hardest to categorize” — in a review of Stuntz’s posthumously published book, The Collapse of American Criminal Justice (affiliate link). [Democracy: A Journal of Ideas]

* Ben Kerschberg identifies eight great law and technology resources — including Above the Law’s tech section, natch. [Forbes]

* Andrew Cohen calls out Judge Vanessa Gilmore for “dubious behavior” in a death penalty case. Judicial diva is as judicial diva does? [The Atlantic]

* Professor Eugene Volokh comes to the defense of “dissental” and “concurral,” two new words coined by his former boss, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. [Volokh Conspiracy]

Turtle as deadly weapon?

* Don’t let Stephen McDaniel or Bruce Reilly anywhere near a turtle. [Lowering the Bar]

* Check out Orrick’s excellent “It Gets Better” video. Orrick, MoFo and Shearman are the three large law firms we’re aware of that have made such videos; if you know of others, please let us know. [It Gets Better]

* If you are free on November 4th and will be in New York that night, consider attending the Black and White Masquerade Ball of the Dave Nee Foundation, a non-profit committed to fighting depression and preventing suicide. [The Dave Nee Foundation]

* Arizona has one of the least restrictive laws on involuntary commitment of nutters in the nation. Next time, Arizona. Next time. [Reuters]

* Talk of new gun laws is the perfect time to link to the most criminally underrated movie of all time…UHF. [New York Times]

* Two teen girls in Florida were arrested for creating a fake Facebook profile for another girl and posting fake nudes of her. The detective who cracked the case remarked, “The pictures looked shopped. I could tell from some of the pixels and from seeing quite a few shops in my time.” [Naples News via Gawker]

* A BYU Law grad who lied about his bar membership is charged with being an Indian Taker. [ABA Journal]

* Lawrence Taylor pleaded guilty yesterday to having a horrifying life and doing horrifying things that sadly diminish his Hall of Fame Tecmo Bowl career. [ESPN]

* “A naked housecleaner, who advertised services on a gay Website, used fear of police sodomy as a defense against murder charges — and it worked.” [New York Post]

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