Prisons

* Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the fairest firm of them all? According to the 2012 Acritas Brand Index survey, the current leader of the Global 100 is the most powerful Biglaw brand for the fifth year in a row. [American Lawyer]

* But that might not last for long, considering the dilemma Baker & McKenzie is facing when it comes to joining the Shanghai Bar Association in China. The firm is one of the first to indicate that it’ll take the plunge. [Wall Street Journal]

* Thanks to the Second Circuit, Rajat Gupta will be a free man on bail pending the appeal of his insider trading conviction. We wonder what Benula Bensam would have to say about this new twist. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Jason Smiekel, the lawyer who pleaded guilty in a murder-for-hire plot involving a former client, was sentenced to eight and a half years in federal prison. The things men will do for HHHBs. [Chicago Tribune]

* Student loan payments: coming to a paycheck deduction near you! Congress is considering an overhaul of the country’s student debt collection practices, and Rep. Tom Petri has some interesting ideas. [Bloomberg]

* The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is the latest school to hop aboard the solo practice incubator train, but graduates will have to rent their office space from the school. Nice. /sarcasm [National Law Journal]

* “We didn’t file this complaint lightly.” Sorry, Judge Norman, but as it turns out, you can’t just sentence a teenager to attend church for 10 years as a condition of parole without pissing off the ACLU. [Tulsa World]

* When your alterations cost more than your wedding gown, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll have some problems — ones worth suing over, if you’re a true bridezilla (like moi). [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

Ed. note: This post is by Shon Hopwood, bank robber turned jailhouse lawyer turned law student, whom we previously profiled. As we recently mentioned, Hopwood is now a 2L at the University of Washington School of Law, where he is a Gates Public Service Law Scholar. Check out his new memoir, Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption (affiliate link).

Ever feel like working as a Biglaw associate is kind of like practicing law serving time in a penitentiary? Well, you aren’t too far off; there are similarities.

I spent ten years in a federal prison running a jailhouse lawyer practice for my fellow prisoners, preparing everything from habeas petitions to certiorari petitions filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. It wasn’t the appellate practice at, say, Mayer Brown, but I performed similar work (and got my first cert petition granted).

After having listened to the stories from friends at Biglaw firms, I think Biglaw and Con(vict) Law are closer than you might think….

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Beat up your copier, not your clients.

* As a tipster wrote, “This judge done lost her mind.” We don’t know about that, but something is clearly wrong here. [Chicago Sun-Times]

* Another brutal — yet disarmingly tender — takedown of the bros who run IsAnybodyDown. [Popehat]

* Robert Morton Duncan, the first black justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, RIP. [Times Union]

* Yes, clients can be royal pains in the behind. But you still can’t hit an obnoxious client over the head with a baseball bat. [Charleston Gazette]

* Major Kudos to McGuireWoods for the firm’s support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. We encourage other firms (and individuals) to do the same. [American Red Cross]

* “As American as the modern prison system” doesn’t have the same ring as “apple pie.” For better or worse, though, it’s equally true. [Cruel and Unusual]

* LawDingo is a new company that connects potential clients with lawyers — all from the convenience of home. It’s the way of the future! [Dow Jones]


‘If there’s one thing America needs, it’s more lawyers!’

* Bank robber tuned jailhouse lawyer turned successful author, Shon Hopwood, is now in law school — on scholarship. Second chances FTW. [Seattle Times]

* As Hopwood transitions from inmate to law student, another would-be lawyer’s career is going the other direction. One of Reema Bajaj’s classmates is headed to the slammer. [Daily Herald]

* Damon Thibodeaux is the 300th person in the U.S. to be exonerated on DNA evidence. The Louisiana death row inmate was exonerated after 15 years behind bars. Oy. [Washington Post]

* Apparently this is the jailhouse edition of Non-Sequiturs, so here’s Judge Richard Posner expounding upon prison rats, damp, dark cells, and the concept of the Bubonic Plague in jail. Heavy s**t, man. [How Appealing]

* Lionel Hutz is a wonderfully terrible cartoon lawyer, but God help the client who ends up with a real-life version. [RocketLawyer]

* A trip down the substantially creepy rabbit hole wherein Chevron’s Ecuador litigation, Google, and concerns about electronic privacy all converge. [Opinio Juris]

* Add Maryland to the list of states sending gay marriage to the ballot box. [Daily Beast]

In his new book, Academy Award-winner Errol Morris has taken on one of the highest-profile murder case of the last 50 years.

Morris, known for The Fog of War, his documentary about Robert S. McNamara, just published his second book — A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (affiliate link) — a revival of the story of a young Army doctor convicted in 1979 of murdering his pregnant wife and two children.

Americans of a certain age (i.e., older than me) almost certainly remember MacDonald, whose story was told and endlessly picked apart on television, in Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss, and The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm. But Morris’s new book is perhaps the first serious investigative look at the idea that MacDonald may very well be innocent.

Morris’s book, which has already garnered positive reviews in the New York Times and the Atlantic, is at once a thrilling true crime story and challenging philosophical look at the tricky nature of facts and the importance of narrative in the American legal system.

Let’s hear more about the book and chat with Morris….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Interview With Oscar-Winner Errol Morris, Author of ‘A Wilderness of Error’”

Michelle Kosilek and Justice Ginsburg: separated at birth?

In this case, Kosilek has proven that he still has a severe gender identity disorder. Although female hormones have helped somewhat, he continues to suffer intense mental anguish because of his sincere and enduring belief that he is a female trapped in male body.

That anguish alone constitutes a serious medical need. It also places him at high risk of killing himself if his major mental illness is not adequately treated.

– Chief Judge Mark Wolf (D. Mass.), in today’s landmark ruling ordering Massachusetts to pay for convicted murderer Michelle (formerly Robert) Kosilek’s sex reassignment surgery.

* These are some sad times in Texas, y’all. It really hasn’t been a very good week for the Lone Star state in the courts. First their redistricting plan got thrown out, and now their voter ID law has been struck down. [CNN]

* Jeh Johnson of the Defense Department may take legal action against the former Navy SEAL who wrote a book about the Osama bin Laden raid, calling it a “material breach” of duty. Must be good; go buy it! [CBS News]

* Bros will be bros: disbarment has been recommended for an attorney who failed to disclose to clients that he had been suspended for banging an underage chick who worked at his office. [National Law Journal]

* Here are 15 Northeast law schools ranked by employment rate. After getting excited that mine was on the list — albeit dead last — I realized I’m seriously a low expectation havin’ motherf**ker. [Boston Business Journal]

* George W. Huguely V, the UVA lacrosse player who beat his girlfriend to death, was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Distasteful joke alert: for his sake, we hope the prison uniforms have poppable collars. [Bloomberg]

* A Maryland lawyer with autism and Sensory Processing Disorder has created a way for people to stop getting up in your personal space while riding public transportation. Say hello to the Sensory Shield! [Huffington Post]

If I were sitting in a bar and a guy wearing overalls sat down next to me and said with a Southern accent, “You know, in China, rich people hire body doubles to stand in for them at criminal trials,” I’d say “shut up, you racist prick. They don’t all look alike.”

At that point the apocryphal redneck would whip out a copy of Slate (on his iPad, cause print is dead) and say “Git R done” and order a cold domestic beer while I read the Slate piece and tried to pick up pieces of my shattered mind out of my gin and tonic.

Because in China, powerful and wealthy people do in fact hire body doubles. It’s not an urban legend. It goes down often enough that the police were willing to talk about it, anonymously of course.

This is wild stuff…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Could You Get A Body Double To Serve Your Time? In China The Answer Is Yes.”

* Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one Supreme Court justice thinks that things will be back to normal at One First Street come the start of the next term, despite his colleagues’ loose lips. [National Law Journal]

* Hourly billing rates for associate are on the rise nationwide, while partner and counsel billing rates only saw modest bumps. Is Biglaw back in business, or is this just another “retention strategy”? [New York Law Journal]

* This is a really hard to believe newspaper headline: “Law firm recognizes employees have life outside of work.” Carlton Fields, what kind of gypsy voodoo magic spells are you casting? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

* Another day, another editorial about the “irretrievably broken” state of legal education in our country. But the ABA admins needn’t worry their oblivious little heads, because people will keep applying. [New York Times]

* And in today’s disturbing law school debtor news, Jason Bohn’s charge was upgraded to first-degree murder after a DA announced via indictment that Bohn allegedly intended to torture his victim. [New York Post]

* “Quite frankly, these are the actions of a dirty old man.” You can look, but never lick: it’s not really a good thing when a judge uses a sentence like this to describe an attorney’s alleged client relations skills. [CBS News]

* For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball fraud game. Lenny Dykstra pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud among a potpourri of other felony counts, and he’ll now face up to 20 years in prison. [CNN]

Yep, you read that correctly. A vampire high priest, who just so happens to be an inmate serving a life sentence in Texas, has lost a civil rights case on appeal to the Fifth Circuit. Apparently prison officials weren’t allowing him to perform the ritualistic rites involved in the practice of his vampiric religion.

If this had happened on an episode of True Blood, you can bet your ass that this sh*t would not stand in Bon Temps….

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