Michael Brown

* We welcome Howard Bashman to his new homepage! [How Appealing / Above the Law]

* An ode to Brian Leiter to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around.” [Philosophy Metablog]

* “Lawyers have a powerful voice in the American legal system, government, and news and entertainment businesses. But do they make their contributions to society while impaired?” You’re goddamned right we do! [SSRN]

* For example, a Louisville lawyer was arrested for allegedly surfing the web while driving drunk. Who says solo practitioners can’t multitask. [WDRB]

* Is litigation finance a loan or an investment? Perhaps tax law holds the answer. [LFC 360]

* Former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. had his law license suspended indefinitely. Apparently his trust account was bouncing checks. This suspension has ramifications for a much bigger case — Bosley had been representing Dorian Johnson, an eyewitness to the Michael Brown killing. [Missouri Lawyers Weekly (sub. req.); St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

* Hasbro thinks that owning Scrabble means they own the English language. [Slate]

* Congratulations to legal communications specialists Infinite PR, who just merged with UK outfit Spada to expand their business across the pond. [PR Week]

In Ferguson, Missouri, outrage over the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown roils on.  Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson yesterday, promising Brown’s family and the concerned public that a federal investigation would ensure justice.  If Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Brown, willfully deprived the young black man of his constitutional rights to be free from unlawful deadly force, Wilson could be convicted under federal civil rights law, in addition to any possible state charges.

Much of the outrage over Brown’s death is rooted in the belief that Wilson responded to Michael Brown as he did because of Brown’s race.  The case calls up a painful history of racist white men murdering black men under color of law.  I don’t dispute the existence of that history, and I humbly acknowledge that, as a white woman, I will never feel the same pain associated with that history that black men and women will.  Even so, I wonder about what in this particular case leads so many observers to conclude that racism obviously caused Wilson to shoot and kill Brown — not simply to conclude that Wilson was unjustified in his use of force for non-race-based reasons, or to be suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the use of force.

How could we distinguish a set of facts where a white police officer improperly kills a black teenager without racial bias from one where a white officer improperly kills a black teenager because of racial bias?  Do we have a picture of criminal violence by a white officer against a black teenager that is wrong, but not wrong for any reasons that involve race?

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* Full, fair, and independent: In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed, Attorney General Eric Holder promised “robust action” in Ferguson, Mo., in light of Michael Brown’s killing. [National Law Journal]

* Biglaw firms have taken notice of the crowdfunding scene, and some have started up their own practice groups dedicated to the cause. Goodwin Procter just got in on the ground floor. [Crowdfund Insider]

* Who will be honored with induction to the American Lawyer’s Legal Hall of Fame in 2014? Take a look at a list of past winners of the title to see if you can guess which legal luminaries will be next. [Am Law Daily]

* “We are actively investigating. We will not rest until we bring this case to a close.” Police still have no leads or suspects in the tragic murder of FSU Law Professor Dan Markel. Sad. [Tallahassee Democrat]

* Is your fantasy football league legal? Like the answer to all questions of law, it depends. Not for nothing, but we’re willing to bet that you won’t really care if it’s legal if it’s going to impede on your fun. [Forbes]


* Suit filed questioning the parentage of Blue Ivy Carter. Plaintiff claims to be the real… mother? Hm. You’d think that would be pretty easy for everyone to remember. [International Business Times]

* The Washington D.C.-area NFL team has filed suit to get its trademark back. They think the USPTO are Indian Givers. [DCist]

* The ACLU is asking courts to define “freedom of the press” in the wake of Ferguson. I understand their impulse, I just don’t think they’re gonna like the answer. [Fox2Now]

* A 71-year-old lawyer allegedly called two escorts over to his house and they asked for more money. Even for rich lawyers it’s the principle of the thing. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Sad to see Professor Larry Tribe join the “let’s blame the teachers instead of funding public schools” parade. But now that he’s become a high-profile supporter of ending tenure for those teaching the young, perhaps he’ll renounce his own tenure. Or at least fight to revoke it from all his colleagues. [National Law Journal]

* A Colombian lawyer is suing FIFA for $1.3 billion over bad officiating. Of all the things FIFA deserves to get sued over, this isn’t making the list. [Washington Post]

* Congratulations to Rob Manfred, a Harvard Law grad formerly of Morgan Lewis, on his promotion to MLB Commissioner. He will continue the proud tradition of keeping us bored all summer long while we wait for football to come back. [New York Times]

* New lawsuit says Google kept records of plans to infringe intellectual property… on Post-Its. Unwise. Office supplies are for back-to-school shopping, not writing down wrongful acts. [Valleywag]

* If you’re a current 3L or a law grad about to come off a clerkship, NOAA has a job opportunity for you. Imagine how exciting it will be when the next Sharknado happens! [USAJobs via NOAA]

“Tear gas?”
“Wait, was that a flash grenade?”
“Oh, now there’s a picture!”
“They arrested journalists… just for being in a McDonald’s?”
“Now the arrested reporters are back online!”

Last night, many of us fixated on our Twitter feeds to follow, in real time, every breaking development in Ferguson, Missouri. The hashtag acted as a latter day, crowdsourced ticker tape keeping those miles away from the town — clear to Gaza — abreast as the peaceful protests brought on a symbolically striking military-style occupation, complete with the use of gas and rubber bullets and the arrest of journalists for performing their constitutionally protected jobs.

That’s what Twitter did that was awesome. Unfortunately, last night also put on display everything awful about Twitter. Everything that people mistake it to be when they set up a handle and broadcast their message to the world in 140 character segments. Others have tackled what Ferguson means in the grand scheme of criminal law and what lawyers should do in response to Ferguson. But there are also lessons to be learned from “#Ferguson” — the cyber place that conveyed the events of Ferguson — and the opinions of casual observers — to the world.

Lessons that all technologically connected lawyers, and frankly everyone, can use….

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Michael Brown, age 18 and a high school graduate, was scheduled to begin college classes on Monday.

He won’t be. He was shot, unarmed with his hands in the air, by police near his apartment on Saturday afternoon. The shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, a mostly black working-class St. Louis suburb of 20,000, has ignited outrage and skepticism of the police’s explanation for the shooting.

As Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told Steve Giegerich of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the shooting took place as her son was walking to his grandmother’s residence.

One witness, Piaget Crenshaw, gave this account to Giegerich:

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Late last week, Michael Brown and 24 of his friends and family met at a Charleston, South Carolina restaurant for a farewell party for his cousin. After waiting about two hours for a table, a shift manager at the Wild Wing Cafe told the party to leave. Did I mention these folks were black? Oh, well, they were black. And why weren’t they getting seated?

According to the shift manager, it was because a white patron felt “threatened” by the group, and the manager felt obliged to respect this woman’s delusion by keeping the black diners waiting in the lobby before ultimately kicking them out.

Cue the Chief Justice: “Things have changed in the South.”

Seriously though, so far this ordeal has elicited calls for a boycott, but legal action has been mostly overlooked, which is odd since the story brings back memories of one of the biggest discrimination suits of the last 20 years…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “South Carolina Restaurant Refuses To Serve Black Patrons — Denny’s Redux”

Happy Halloween! Unless you live in New Jersey.

Based here in New York, I’ve spent the last several days watching the news while drinking copious amounts of whisky (klassy hurricane tip: pour the whisky directly into the can of coke — it saves washing a glass later if you’re worried about losing water!). The stream of images showing devastated areas is truly horrifying.

Thankfully my bunker of an apartment survived unscathed, but that did not excuse me from my own share of post-traumatic stress. But in my case it was seeing a number of lawyers-turned-politicians parading across the news channels displaying their own law firm certified brand of crisis management and triggering flashbacks to my years in private practice.

When we suffer the zombie apocalypse (which could happen as early as next Tuesday) or any other movie-level disaster, if we continue to place executive power in the hands of lawyers, we’re all screwed….

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Everything's more inappropriate in Texas?

I think a lot of normal men have been in this position: another guy says something horrible about your female friend or colleague, expecting that you will go along. It makes you very uncomfortable in the moment — because your knuckles stopped dragging on the pavement years ago. Then it makes you extremely uncomfortable later when you see the female friend or colleague, and you have to decide whether or not to tell her the horrible things being said about her by these other people.

It happens more than you think, and most of the times most guys just keep it to themselves. There’s no upside to telling a woman all of the things guys say, most of the time. But sometimes, ironically, especially when it happens in a professional context, you have to tell your female colleague what other professionals are saying about her, just so she’s not blindsided as she tries to go about her job.

Maybe some people would consider it a violation of the “bro code,” but one lawyer seems to think that the code is a viable defense in court. Sanctions are being sought against a divorce lawyer who has allegedly been saying horrible things about female lawyers, and when he got called out, he responded in court that he never said any of that stuff “to their faces.”

And, of course, this is going down in Texas….

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