We’re a little bit late with April’s lawyer of the month reader poll. First of all, we’ve been doing a lot of reader voting so far in this month. (There are still a few hours for you to vote in our Law Revue Video Contest.)
The other reason why we’re a bit delinquent this month is because we think we know who is going to win. It’s not every day that a recent law grad finds himself trying a murder case — and getting reprimanded by the judge for “lack[ing] knowledge of proper trial procedure.”
Such is life during the Obama “recovery.” Check out this month’s nominees below…
Molly Wei, the pretty ex-Rutgers student who was charged with two counts of invasion of privacy in the Tyler Clementi case, has reached a deal with the prosecution. Wei, 19, has been admitted to a pre-trial intervention program that could result in the charges against her being dismissed.
What does Wei have to do as part of the PTI program?
Last September, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, surreptitiously recorded and then broadcast footage of Clementi hooking up in his room with another man.
Clementi’s death touched off an important national conversation about the bullying of gay teens and the need to reach out to them so they don’t feel so isolated. If anything good can come from Clementi’s suicide, it will be to make people commit to helping gays and lesbians as they struggle through adolescence and young adulthood in sometimes hostile communities.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Tyler Clementi will be the only martyr for this cause. No, there are some people hellbent on making sure that another young life is effectively ruined, and some of those people work for the state of New Jersey.
Charges flowed out of the grand jury today for Clementi’s roommate and “tormentor,” Ravi. Based on the allegations in the indictment, you’d think Ravi had been running for the Republican nomination for President instead of acting like an 18-year-old college freshman…
As many of you figured out, the cease and desist letter from Chris Webby, claiming ownership of the hashtag #webby, was an April Fool’s hoax. This week’s sign that the apocalypse is upon was a hologram launched by the Webby Awards people. Here’s the official reveal.
Really, we thought a few more of our loyal readers would see through it. The firm that purportedly sent the letter, Baxter, Butler & Associates, doesn’t exist. This commenter got it. But I guess most commenters don’t fire up Google unless an attractive girl is involved.
You can see why the Webbys weren’t able to get a real law firm to participate in this prank. It might have been a joke today, but the first hashtag infringement suit is surely just around the corner.
Happy April Fool’s Day. I’m going to go back to drinking heavily now.
When Washington, D.C., was buried in snow last week, one suburban Maryland school alerted parents via robocall that they would be opening two hours late. The call, hypothetically letting parents know that they could sleep in that day, went out at 4:30 a.m.
That angered privacy lawyer Aaron Titus. His well-told tale of revenge reverberated around the media last week, thanks to a story in the Washington Post. Titus went Robocop on the school, using an online robocalling company to place a 4:30 a.m. call to the home phones of nine school board members, the school superintendent, and the school’s chief lawyer the next day, letting them know he hadn’t appreciated the early morning wake-up call. (The school said it made a mistake in setting the time for the calls and that it should have gone out at the immensely more reasonable hours of 5 or 6 a.m.)
Titus tweeted that he was following the Golden Rule. Meanwhile, other laws were possibly ignored…
Social media savvy teen causes national controversy in Australia
‘Tis the season for… lover’s revenge via the Internet. Last week, Elie brought you the tale of a cuckolded man who filmed his wife making out with a fellow SMU Law student (and intervened to throw a weak punch). Then the husband posted the sad, sordid video to YouTube. Because shame makes the hurt go away.
Meanwhile, over in the land down under, a 17-year-old in Melbourne is using her social network savvy to punish a couple of Australian football players who allegedly did her wrong. Kim Duthie claims to have scored with two of the players (and to have had a miscarriage as a result). Feeling used and abused, she’s now using all the digital tools at her disposal — Facebook, YouTube, Formspring, and Twitter — to broadcast her story, as well as a handful of naked photos of the St. Kilda football players. This girl makes Karen Owen look like a saint.
And apparently she didn’t think through the legal implications of putting photos of the football players’ “lands down under” up on her Facebook page…
This is probably a joke. In fact, I’m almost sure this is a joke. Law school women don’t really talk like this, not on Craigslist. And law school guys are more than capable of satisfying their female classmates.
Wait a minute, that last line is false — almost entirely false. Crap, does that make this Craigslist ad real?
I don’t know. There’s a Craigslist ad, purportedly from a Seton Hall law student, that’s making the rounds among people who check out things on Craigslist and then email Above the Law.
Give it a look, then give me your true/false sensibility…
The Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island -- the orignal "bridge to nowhere."
Don’t you hate it when rich people try to welsh on a bet? British billionaire Alki David dared somebody to streak — that means “running while naked and probably drunk,” if you’ve never been to college — in front of President Obama. Alki said he’d give the person who streaked in front of the president, with the name of Alki’s website emblazoned on his or her body, the tidy sum of $1 million.
Somebody from Staten Island (why am I not surprised) performed the feat (or substantially attempted to perform the feat) during an Obama event in Pennsylvania. Now Alki is considering hiding behind the law to avoid payment.
This must be how rich people get rich: make outlandish promises, then use fancy law talk to avoid payment…
Molly Wei didn't stop her friend for using her computer; now she could end up in jail.
Prosecutors looking into Tyler Clementi suicide indicated yesterday that they might not be able to charge Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei with a hate crime. Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan told the Newark Star-Ledger that his office was trying to see if they could charge Ravi and Wei with a second degree bias crime, but so far they don’t have enough evidence to support such a charge.
Right now, Ravi and Wei are charged with invasion of privacy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
Given that some people have pushed for prosecution that goes all the way up to homicide charges, the possibility that Ravi and Wei won’t be charged with a hate crime (or burned at the stake, or whatever the hell will satisfy people’s revenge impulse) will disappoint many — perhaps including prosecutor Kaplan, who said: “Sometimes the laws don’t always adequately address the situation. That may come to pass here.”
And sometimes the public’s outrage completely outstrips the actual crime committed. I’ve already shared my thoughts about Dharun Ravi’s crime. Now let’s take a closer look at Molly Wei — a girl who, as far as we know, is guilty of letting a high school buddy use her computer…
Over the past few days, we’ve learned a lot about Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers college student and talented violinist who killed himself after his roommate streamed, live on the internet, a hidden webcam video of Tyler hooking up with another man. On September 22, a few days after the incident, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
Former ATL editor Kashmir Hill has learned even more. She’s been tracking Clementi’s digital footprints, and found that he went to a message board for gay men seeking counsel after he learned of his roommate’s prank.
I used the word “prank” because that’s how I see the actions of Tyler Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi. Ravi is an 18-year-old kid in his first semester at college. Along with a friend, Molly Wei, Ravi pulled a prank on his new roommate — one that went horribly wrong.
Because Clementi killed himself, the media has worked itself into a rabid lather over Ravi’s and Wei’s actions. The story was all over the New York Times yesterday. Michael Daly criticized Ravi so harshly I thought I was reading about some kind of modern day Billy Zabka in the New York Daily News this morning. Some gay rights groups want Ravi to be charged with a hate crime.
Before we crucify this college freshman, I have a couple of questions…
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