Prosecutors

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski speaking at Yale Law School last year.

Perhaps this should be “benchslap of a few days ago,” since it happened last week. But it’s never too late to read about Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, right?

This latest benchslap involves the Ninth Circuit setting aside a murder conviction. So you might expect the benchslap to be coming from a unanimous Supreme Court in a summary reversal.

But no. The benchslap — actually, make that benchslaps, plural — come from the Ninth Circuit. On the receiving end: the police, prosecutors, a state judge, and a federal judge. Names are named.

And I wouldn’t hold my breath while waiting for SCOTUS to reverse. This decision looks pretty safe….

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We had the good fortune to have Patrick Fitzgerald — the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois who recently joined Skadden — speak to my company’s global compliance conference last month.

Let me prove that I’ve learned a little about this blogging business over the years: Before the jump, I’ll give you my personal thought or two about introducing prominent speakers. I’ll hold the good stuff — what Fitzgerald, the famous guy, said — until after the jump. (Watch this, Lat! They’ll be drawn through the jump like vultures to carrion!)

How do you introduce a prominent speaker? You can do it the usual way: He went to school, got a job, and did some fancy stuff, zzzzzzzz.

Or you can find something offbeat about the person. I chose to introduce Fitzgerald by saying that I was afraid that our speaker had peaked too young. He had been named one of the sexiest men alive by People magazine in 2005; how do you ever surpass that? And, also in 2005, he had received an award from Washingtonian magazine for “best performance without a script.” For most people, it’s all downhill from there.

Fortunately, our speaker managed to surpass his early achievements. And then I trotted through what must be the usual litany in a Fitzgerald introduction: Led the prosecutions of former Illinois Governors George Ryan (sentenced to five years) and Rod Blagojevich (14 years) and a bunch of others.

That was my contribution to the hour. But, you might ask, what did the famous guy have to say?

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Justice Sotomayor: you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

As we recently observed, Justice Sonia Sotomayor could be thought of as the people’s justice. The Wise Latina is also the Warm Latina.

Justice Sotomayor shows up on Sesame Street as well as One First Street. She hugs little girls on her book tour. She hires law clerks from outside the top 14 law schools.

But you need to stay on her good side; if you tick her off, woe unto you. Let’s check out the Beloved World (affiliate link) — of pain — that Her Honor just inflicted on a federal prosecutor down in Texas….

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Some say that models and bottles should be included in a lawyer’s employment benefits package, but failing that, VIP treatment at the local strip club comes in a close second. You just have to make sure you’re getting these perks on the down low, or else you might find yourself in the unemployment line.

That said, if you’re interested in potentially having to fish dollar bills out of your g-string as an alternative career due to your sudden joblessness, then perhaps you should consult with Ari Pregen, an assistant state attorney from Florida. Well, actually, that was his job before he got fired.

You see, when you walk into a strip club and expect to be treated like a king just because you’re a lawyer, you’re going to get yourself into some trouble when your superiors find out about it….

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Sorry, no free entry, not even for prosecutors.

* Even though Obama wants to “make sure that [he's] not interjecting [himself] too much into this process,” the DOJ may still suggest that the Supreme Court overturn Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage. [Associated Press]

* Anheuser-Busch InBev and the Department of Justice are cracking open a couple of cold ones to settle their differences over antitrust concerns with regard to the company’s planned purchase of Grupo Modelo. [DealBook / New York Times]

* It looks like Steve DiCarmine is being forced to take a break from his rigorous class schedule at Parsons to testify at a Dewey bankruptcy hearing next week. He’ll be happy to hear orange is in this spring. [Am Law Daily]

* Represented by Steptoe & Johnson, Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to misusing $750,000 of his campaign funds for personal use. Most interesting purchase: Michael Jackson memorabilia. [Blog of Legal Times]

* When it comes to recruiting new talent, the ability to maintain a “collegial culture” is apparently a selling point for midsize law firms. And here we thought douchebaggery was the way to go. Sigh. [National Law Journal]

* Protip: do not flash your prosecutor’s badge to bypass cover charges and lap dance surcharges at the local strip club. You’re going to get fired. We’ll probably have more on this later. [Riptide 2.0 / Miami New Times]

* Don’t worry ladies, if you’re about to be raped, just pee or puke all over your attacker — or better yet, tell him that you’re on your period. Yeah, that’ll work. These tips are almost as good as “don’t dress like a slut.” [CNN]

* “[T]his is a ridiculous sideshow that’s horribly unbecoming to the parties involved.” The NCAA is now suing over a new Pennsylvania law designed to keep PSU’s Sandusky fines in the state. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Another busted barrister: Archie Leach (John Cleese).

People can argue about whether or not Indians — of the South Asian variety, not the Native American variety — are or are not “Caucasian.” I take no position on that issue, having been burned before (see the comments to this post).

I will say this, though: in my opinion, South Asians share in common with East Asians the ability to pass for much younger than they really are. (It’s generally a blessing, although not always; in a discussion at the recent Penn APALSA conference, some panelists talked about how looking young can complicate dealing with clients and opposing counsel.)

So how much younger can South Asians claim to be? One India-born lawyer, who graduated from a top 14 law school, finds herself in litigation for allegedly lying about her age — amongst many, many other things.

And the whole thing smells worse than Ghazipur landfill….

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In the movie Malice, Jack Donaghy is asked during a deposition (by Sandy Cohen) if he has a “God Complex” and proceeds to deliver a classic meltdown: “I *AM* God.”

There’s a legal equivalent to Baldwin’s doctor, and it’s not a judge or even a senior partner. For the biggest “God Complexes” (“God Complii?”) look to your friendly neighborhood prosecutors. Imbued with extraordinary power through the charging process and the investigatory resources of the government, prosecutors can get used to getting their way and indifferent to the plight of defendants, witnesses, and counsel. And nothing can raise their ire more than someone unwilling to cooperate. “How dare they defy me?”

Take the case of Kevin Ring, a Jack Abramoff acolyte sentenced to almost two years of prison time, whose conviction was just upheld by the D.C. Circuit (opinion available here). I’m not a huge fan of lobbyists, but the transgressions proved at Ring’s trial look way too small to justify his sentence.

Instead, it looks like his primary crime was not cooperating with the almighty government….

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Patrick Bateman? No, Tabber Benedict (via Getty).

* Former Biglaw associate Tabber Benedict, whom we’ve mentioned before (in happier times), reportedly threw a lavish “going away” party — going away to prison, that is. [Daily Mail]

* Take your pick: is government an “impetuous vortex” or a “hideous monster [with] devouring jaws”? [Althouse]

* Some thoughts from Juan Haines, a current San Quentin inmate and jailhouse lawyer, on wrongful conviction. [Life of the Law]

* In defense of the weekly meeting. [What About Clients?]

* Prosecutors: above the (traffic) law? [UTSanDiego.com]

* And how about the U.S. Postal Service? [Felix Salmon]

* The furor over U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the late Aaron Swartz shows no sign of abating. [How Appealing]

* Speaking of technology law, how would you like to win $5,000? If so, check out this contest. [IT-Lex]

The crime scene.

Yesterday brought word of a law firm shooting in Phoenix in which a partner was injured. Today we have news of more gun violence, this time from Texas, resulting in the death of a prosecutor.

This morning, an assistant district attorney in Kaufman County, Texas, was shot and killed outside the courthouse. Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was on his way to misdemeanor court when he was ambushed by two men and gunned down.

The situation is still developing, but here’s what we know right now….

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FIRST! Assistant United States Attorney.

First amongst weird creation myths is that of the Mbombo god, who is said to have vomited up pretty much all of our world. Similarly, the story of how this website has been… thrown up is worthy of retelling. At its essence, it goes like this: A boy blogs about very sober legal issues in an incredibly earnest way and then the governor of New Jersey tells him to start Above the Law, The End. I may have missed some crucial details and got others flat-out wrong, but I think the kernel of truth is still in there somewhere.

At any rate, that boy was working for the United States Attorney’s office in Newark at the time. Doing anything on the internet, even if it was super-serious and incredibly sincere, could be considered controversial because of the position. The lawyers tasked with working in such a high-profile prosecutorial role must be seen as impartial, lest the cases they take on get tainted by their online presence.

Which is what makes it all the more surprising that history is repeating itself down in New Orleans, where two assistant United States attorneys have become embroiled in scandal after being caught commenting on not just the law in general (like our own dear leader), but the specific cases that came through their office.

It’s almost as if the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office is trying to outdo David Lat in some way. Which, I mean, trick please…

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