Prosecutors

Unless you’re living under a rock or stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge,[1] you know that N.J. Governor Chris Christie spent yesterday digging himself out of the Fort Lee traffic scandal in the most Jersey of manner — by placing a proverbial bullet in the back of the neck of one of his most trusted allies Tony Soprano-style. He even invited the media over to the Bada-Bing for a couple of hours after he did it.

Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly took the rap for closing lanes on the GWB and creating a traffic snarl for Fort Lee residents after a smoking gun email emerged where the staffer seemingly ordered David Wildstein, himself a once highly-paid Christie staffer who resigned last month, to stop up the bridge to make life miserable for Fort Lee. The mayor of the town — a Democrat — had failed to fall in line and endorse the Republican Christie in his re-election campaign,[2] and Kelly’s email outlined the chosen means of retaliation. It seems dumb, but people may have died over this issue.

Liberal columnists are calling Christie basically an overfed Pol Pot and conservatives are comparing this — because they cherish beating their dead one-trick pony — to Benghazi.

But whether Christie was directly involved in this scandal or not — and so far the digital paper trail seems to begin with his mild-mannered aide showing uncharacteristic initiative and ends with a high school crony whom Christie put in charge of the bridge — this scandal falls somewhere between unsurprising and utterly inevitable.

Christie is a former prosecutor, serving as a U.S. Attorney from 2002 until 2008. The modern prosecutor is armed with the luxury to exact petty, brutal revenge on any and all who cross him or her, and this is the mentality that Christie brought into the Governor’s Mansion. Indeed, he made this mentality his political calling card.

Oh, and will this matter in 2016?

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* Let’s hit some lingering holiday stories that came in after we went off the air on Tuesday. Think of it as your Christmas hangover. First up, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, reimagined as a lesson on pregnancy discrimination. [Bolek Besser Glesius]

* On a related note, here’s a nice chart comparing the original poem with the legalese version created by Dezert-Rose. [TaxProf Blog]

* Well, that’s one thing you can do with law reporters in the age of Westlaw and Lexis. [Legal Cheek]

* Isn’t it really nice of prosecutors when they actually try to fulfill their constitutional obligations? [Katz Justice]

* A life lesson for these thieves: there’s no such thing as a Christmas tree that doesn’t shed. [Legal Juice]

* The lawyers supposedly told NFL players they would not be taking any of the concussion settlement money. There’s a lesson to be had here about how you shouldn’t trust lawyers. [Overlawyered]

* Professor Nancy Leong went on Ashley Madison with a “white” profile and an “Asian” profile. The Asian profile got more hits. Is this interesting? Sure. Is this the sort of academic work worth charging law students $180K to support? Not so much. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

Some of you are working feverishly right now. But most of you are clock-watching until the dictates of face time allow you to get out of the office. With Christmas and New Year’s falling awkwardly on Wednesdays, very little work is getting done next week or the week after. For some lucky lawyers, this is your last day of work for a week or even two.

To help you waste what’s left of the day, especially for those of you not on Eastern Standard Time, here’s a collection of funny tidbits from around the legal world.

Oh, and Professor Brian Leiter decided to rip Above the Law, so we’re going to talk about that…

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Remember the 80s? Big hair, Dynasty, Huey Lewis was popular for some reason. Well, Judge Jed Rakoff remembers the 80s, and he also remembers the way the federal government used to actually investigate and prosecute people who committed massive financial crimes — Mike Milken, Ivan Boesky, Charles Keating, a bevy of other savings and loans kingpins. Good times.

And Judge Rakoff wants to know what happened to prosecuting financial crimes, specifically the sort of fraud that crippled the economy. So he took to the pages of the New York Review of Books to ponder all the financial prosecutions that could have been. And he has some theories about what happened and how prosecutors could do a better job in the future.

It’s a fascinating look at a bunch of ideas that the government is going to totally ignore…

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An en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit dropped one-liners, harsh mockery, and severe realkeeping for a little over an hour, and it’s entirely watchable because it’s so damn funny.

A federal prosecutor in California inserted a “fact” into his rebuttal that wasn’t in the record.

Overzealous prosecutor lies to get a conviction? To channel Ralph Wiggum, “that’s unpossible.” Now I can take off my old defense lawyer hat.

After the trial judge responded to these charges by shrugging his shoulders, the case wound its way to an en banc hearing of the Ninth Circuit, where a bevy of judges (including Chief Judge Alex Kozinski) rips into the government for sandbagging the defense out of a fair trial.

And it’s all on video….

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[L]et’s try to help the person, she obviously had a bad night, and we don’t need to continue to hurt her dignity about this issue. So let the court do what the court’s supposed to do, and please, we don’t need to have theatrics around this issue.

– Alderman Tom Tunney of Chicago’s 44th Ward, in a voicemail message left for the owner of an adult sex shop about assistant state’s attorney Sarah Naughton, the “apparently intoxicated” prosecutrix who allegedly bit the leg of one of the porn purveyor’s employees, while the scandalous case was still pending.

While Naughton was acquitted of all charges in April, Tunney was recently found to have abused his authority by attempting to “tamper with” a potential witness in Naughton’s criminal investigation.

(Read on to hear Tunney’s message, and see footage of Naughton’s arrest.)

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Reema Bajaj

In June 2011, we brought you the story of Reema Bajaj, a lovely young lawyer in Illinois who was accused of prostitution. I expressed a belief in her innocence, although my faith was somewhat shaken by the nude photos of her that circulated on the web. And then, in June 2012, Bajaj pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of prostitution.

After covering her guilty plea, we thought we had seen the last of her. As I wrote, “The post you’re now reading could very well represent the final story we write about Reema Bajaj…. We will miss writing about this colorful young woman, but we wish her the best in getting on with her life and her law practice.”

I spoke too soon. Now Bajaj is back — with a vengeance….

Note the UPDATE at the end of this post, based on comments from Bajaj’s counsel.

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Have you ever thought that your law professor was a sadistic bastard? Have you ever felt like the prosecutor across the table was an emotional black hole? Would it freak you out if you turned out to be clinically right?

We’ve talked a lot about mental health recently, from panic buttons to Asperger’s (or autism spectrum disorder, if you prefer). But today we’ve come across a truly chilling article from a law professor who admits that she’s a sociopath and writes about how law is the perfect field for people like her.

I’m turning the snark meter way down on this post because, well, I don’t want to be murdered…

Note the UPDATE at the end of this post concerning the professor’s possible identity.

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Legally Blonde is a movie that inspired many a ditzy sorority girl to apply to law school — obviously the appeal of wearing a pink power suit to court was just too great for them to resist. Let’s face it: whether you like it or not, Elle Woods has become an icon of sorts for a generation of women who never realized that they could be smart and pretty at the same time. For that reason (among many others), she was able to make it to the Final Four of our Fictional Lawyer Madness competition.

Is all people see when they look at you blonde hair and big boobs? Then it’s highly likely that you, too, can get into Harvard Law on a whim! What, like it’s hard?

Unfortunately, there are some legal issues that not even women like Elle Woods can talk themselves out of, and we’ve got a potpourri of disorderly conduct allegations for you to feast your eyes upon….

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* “I don’t believe judges should be filibustered.” Tell that to the rest of your Republican pals, Senator Hatch. D.C. Circuit nom Sri Srinivasan faced little drama at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. [Bloomberg]

* A bipartisan gun regulation deal has been reached in the Senate, and of course the NRA is opposing it — well, except for the parts that expand gun rights. The group really likes those parts. [Washington Post]

* Trolling for patent partners? Bingham recently snagged five IP partners from DLA Piper’s Los Angeles office, including the former co-chair of DLA patent litigation department. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Time well spent: while Detroit hangs on the precipice of bankruptcy, local politicians are worrying about whether retaining Jones Day poses a conflict of interest for their emergency manager (Kevyn Orr, formerly of Jones Day). [Am Law Daily]

* NYLS — or should we say “New York’s law school” — is revamping its clinical program to kill two birds with one stone (e.g., fulfilling pro bono hours and boosting job prospects). [National Law Journal]

* For all the talk of his being a hard ass, Judge Rakoff is a nice guy after all! The judge gave an ex-SAC trader permission to go on a honeymoon after his release from prison. [DealBook / New York Times]

* If you’ve ever wondered how Lat spends his free time, sometimes he’s off writing book reviews for distinguished publications. Check out his review of Mistrial (affiliate link) here. [Wall Street Journal]

* “Lindsay Lohan is the victim.” What the Heller you talking about? LiLo’s lawyer thinks there’s a conspiracy among the prosecutors on her case that’s resulted in leaks of information to TMZ. [CNN]

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