Pennsylvania

Rapper or criminal mastermind?

I am constantly amazed at how dimwitted some criminals can be. We have covered them in these pages before, from the guy who left evidence of his violent plans open on his desktop, to the robber who reached out to his victim via Facebook.

On Thursday in Pennsylvania, a federal jury convicted Anthony D. Elonis on four counts of threatening his estranged wife, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Berks County Sheriff’s Department, a kindergarten class, and an FBI agent. The vehicle for his litany of threats was none other than Facebook.

The case goes to show that producers of cool heist movies like Ocean’s 11 or The Italian Job have no idea of the context in which your run-of-the-mill petty criminal exists.

What did Elonis threaten to do? Some pretty bad stuff, actually. Keep reading to see why it is lucky he’s no criminal mastermind….

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Judge Maryesther Merlo. Who will play her in the movie? Suggestions welcome.

Earlier this year, we brought you the story of Judge Rae Lee Chabot, a state court judge in Michigan. Judge Chabot was accused of taking three-hour lunch breaks and long shopping trips to the Gap, in the middle of the workday.

I wrote in defense of Judge Chabot, whose judicial work was well-regarded despite her, ummm, flexible work schedule. I opined that “[a]s long as a judge is reasonably current with his docket, he should be left alone. There is no face-time requirement for judges.”

But even I would have a hard time defending the latest judicial diva under fire, Judge Maryesther Merlo of Allentown District Court in Pennsylvania. Judge Merlo — or make that ex-judge Merlo, since she just got removed from the bench — allegedly missed 116 days of work, from September 2007 to December 2009. That amounts to over 23 weeks, in a period of about two years.

And that’s not all Maryesther Merlo stands accused of. Her treatment of defendants appearing before her may have strayed beyond the merely tough into the downright rude….

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(Not that she spent much time on it anyway.)

Today, we have news that both Virginia and Pennsyltucky Pennsylvania have released the results of the July 2011 bar exam. Our congratulations go out to everyone who passed. And for those who didn’t, better luck next time (but on the upside, it’s Friday, so it wouldn’t be completely inappropriate for you to drink yourself into a stupor today).

Here’s an open thread for discussion of July 2011 bar exam results from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and any other states that have already announced their results….

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Pennsylvania, Virginia — any others?

* With yesterday’s decision from Pennsylvania, the game is now tied for Obamacare at the federal district court level. Come on, SCOTUS, just grant someone certiorari already. [Bloomberg]

* Keep this in mind if you’re applying to law school this year: if you’re white, it ain’t aight. Who knew that there could be “anti-white bias” in a place where everyone’s white, like Wisconsin? [National Law Journal]

* Mark McCombs, the ex-Greenberg Traurig partner who overbilled for prestige, was sentenced to six years. Not a good way to thank your town for naming a street after you. [Am Law Daily]

* An Indian restaurant is accused of forcing Indian customers to give 18% tips. Here’s a tip: don’t punch customers in the face, and maybe they’ll give you a tip on their own. [New York Daily News]

* No soup (or supplements) for you! Curtis Allgier, a Utah prisoner awaiting his murder trial, wants seconds during dinner so he can get back to his fighting killing weight. [Boston Globe]

Image via Getty

Yesterday, we (and every other media outlet) ran our solemn 9/11 remembrance post. In general, I thought the media handled the day fine. I thought the NFL handled it in an unseemly “Are we not RESPECTFUL” fashion, and don’t even get me started on the companies who used 9/11 to push their products. I thought it was assumed that most companies were against global terrorism but until the Budweiser Clydesdales bowed, I wasn’t sure. I guess I should be happy that they didn’t have the Miller High Life guy busting into a cave and taking away a case of non-alcoholic beer from a terrorist.

In any event, today will be the predictable day where the media now takes a closer look at the aftermath of 9/11. And by “closer look,” I mean “report on everything that’s gone horribly wrong since 9/11.”

Gawker already got that ball rolling. I’ve got a really heartwarming story from a law firm that I want to share before I “take a closer look” at the week after 9/11….

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Today marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Throughout today, people have been looking back and reflecting on the tragic events of 9/11, as well as remembering and praying for the thousands who perished on that day.

Scanning the Twitter and Facebook feeds of my friends, I’ve seen competing impulses. Most people’s posts have been somber and sad. Some have taken the opportunity to reaffirm America’s greatness; others have used the occasion to criticize U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. Now that the day is coming to an end, some have expressed 9/11 fatigue.

If you have 9/11 fatigue, you can stop reading here. But if not, please continue….

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Back in June, we notified our readers about a fabulous job opportunity for attorneys in Philadelphia. There was one catch: the applicant had to be a “sharp dresser.” In fact, “no casuals” need apply for this lucrative position.

Apparently, the maverick behind the original Craigslist ad is still searching for a partner in crime law practice, because the job listing has reappeared.

And this time, if you’re thinking of applying, you had better get your headshots ready….

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Remember Isaac H. Stoltzfus from Intercourse, Pennsylvania? After handing out condom-stuffed acorns to women on the street outside the Statehouse in Harrisburg, Stoltzfus became our Judge of the Day back in September 2010. In the spirit of res ipsa loquitur, we kept our coverage short and sweet.

We now know that Stoltzfus was cited with one count of disorderly conduct, but that charge was dropped. In April, the Judicial Conduct Board filed a complaint against Stoltzfus because… well, let’s not split hairs here, the dude was handing out acorns that he had personally hollowed out and stuffed with condoms. That is some pretty bizarre behavior, but Stoltzfus claimed it was just a prank, and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.

On Wednesday, the state Court of Judicial Discipline dismissed the complaint, but why? We’ve got the scoop, after the jump….

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Mark Ciavarella, Jr.

Those three words made me the personification of evil. They made me toxic and caused a public uproar the likes of which this community has never seen.

— Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, Jr., commenting on his new moniker as the “Kids for Cash” judge. Today, Ciavarella was sentenced to 28 years for his role in a massive bribery scandal in the Pennsylvania juvenile justice system.

And now comes the part in our story where law school administrations, stung by the criticism they just received in the New York Times, start spinning. Yes, yesterday the Times exposed the law school business model to a horrified public of non-lawyers. Today, law schools are obligated to say, “No, no, no, that’s not our business model.”

It’s a perfect response. Law students already believe that they are special and will somehow overcome various odds stacked against them, and so they are particularly susceptible to the argument that while other law schools might have problems, the school they picked is the honorable school standing apart from the disreputable actions of others.

It’s like when women say “I have the best husband in the world.” Sure, 90% of husbands hate chick flicks, wish there was a way to get a hot meal without listening to your BS, and would bone Angelina Jolie 30 times in a row before they even remembered your name, but you found the best husband evah! Because you are so damn smart and discerning.

A bunch of law schools have tried to distinguish themselves from New York Law School since this weekend’s article, but the most outstanding example of this kind of distancing comes from: New York Law School….

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