Prosecutors

He’s going to try the case in court, not in the press, and I admire that.

Jeff Ashton, speaking about Mark O’Mara, who is defending George Zimmerman against murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin. For his part, Ashton is no stranger to the spotlight. The former Florida Assistant State Attorney was the prosecutor in charge of the Casey Anthony case.

People always ask the Above the Law editors, “What kinds of people leave such horrible comments on your website?” And we always say, “Regular people, the ones you work with or socialize with.”

Most internet commenters are regular people who, under the Invisibility Cloak of cyberspace, feel free to say whatever disgusting/ridiculous/illogical thing that pops into their heads.

Lest anyone think the phenomenon is unique to our website, please think again. For better or worse, trolling is an inevitable part of online media. Most of the time, it’s best to just ignore it. Once a while, however, anonymous online commenting may signify something larger and more pernicious.

Case in point: our inbox was flooded over the weekend with the emerging scandal of a prosecommenter (yeah, you read that right) in New Orleans. This is what happens when a federal prosecutor takes his case to the interwebs instead of the court. Bad times…

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Judge Carlos Bea

Judge Carlos Bea is one of my favorite members of the Ninth Circuit. He’s refreshingly conservative, on a famously (or infamously) liberal court. He has a fascinating personal history; how many federal judges can claim they were almost deported? He has an ancestral home — some call it a castle — in Spain, which he sometimes makes available to vacationing law clerks. And he tools about town in a vintage Rolls-Royce (which, rumor has it, he received as payment for legal work before he took the bench).

Well, it looks like one assistant U.S. attorney has some expensive tire marks on his back. Check out the epic benchslap that Judge Bea just dished out — not just to the poor prosecutor, but to the United States Department of Justice….

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Despite the media echo chamber saying that the economy is improving, it’s obviously still tough to find work. Especially for lawyers. Everyone says you’re supposed to have a can-do attitude, but we sometimes prefer to think about all the things that you can’t do as an attorney.

Included in that list is getting a paying job at the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ has had a hiring freeze in place for a year now. We’ve heard reports of some thawing — i.e., selected parts of the DOJ receiving authorization to fill a handful of priority positions — but, for the most part, there are hardly any paying lawyer jobs to be had in that division of government.

Instead, U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country have been posting unpaid Special Assistant United States Attorney positions for some time now. We covered them last May. My colleague (and former assistant U.S. attorney) David Lat defended the SAUSA gigs somewhat, arguing that the nonpaying jobs might not be as bad as they seem. It’s fun, exciting work, and it provides valuable experience and serious professional credibility.

There is a crucial, ominous difference between then and now, though. Previous SAUSA jobs were generally aimed at entry-level or fairly junior attorneys. Now we’ve got a recent opening that’s asking for more.…

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Judge Matz

[T]his Court is compelled to find that the Government team allowed a key FBI agent to testify untruthfully before the grand jury, inserted material falsehoods into affidavits submitted to magistrate judges in support of applications for search warrants and seizure warrants, improperly reviewed e-mail communications between one Defendant and her lawyer, recklessly failed to comply with its discovery obligations, posed questions to certain witnesses in violation of the Court’s rulings, engaged in questionable behavior during closing argument and even made misrepresentations to the Court.

– Judge A. Howard Matz of the Central District of California, benchslapping federal prosecutors — and vacating the convictions, and dismissing the indictment — in a high-profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution. (Gavel bang: Daniel Fisher.)

(Additional links and information about this case — if you do FCPA or white-collar criminal work, this may be of interest to you — after the jump.)

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I genuinely dislike Jose Baez.

Jeff Ashton, former Florida prosecutor in the Casey Anthony case, commenting in his new book, Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony (affiliate link), on how he really feels about her lead attorney, Jose Baez.

(More of Ashton’s less-than-complimentary commentary on Baez, after the jump.)

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'But I'm too pretty to go to jail.'

* The AT&T/T-Mobile antitrust suit is so big that not even Big Government law can handle it. The DOJ is bringing in even bigger guns with a partner from Biglaw firm Munger Tolles. [Bloomberg]

* Obama has nominated former Kozinski clerk, Paul Watford, to the Ninth Circuit. Way to go, because he’s kind of cute. Isn’t that what everyone looks for in a federal judge? [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Is Paul Ceglia’s Facebook lawsuit completely doomed? His own lawyer, Jeffrey Lake, wants to defriend him. This will be the fourth firm to dump Ceglia as a client. [Wall Street Journal]

* Blind item: which Hollywood actress is suing IMDb for $1M for revealing her true age? And we say “true age” because everyone knows that Botox knocks a few years off your face. [Reuters]

* Lindsay Lohan is due in court today for a progress report hearing, and prosecutors want to throw her in jail. Hope she’s been brushing up on her acting skills. [New York Daily News]

* Cry me a river? A Florida lawyer will be arguing before the state Supreme Court this winter over his First Amendment right to blast Justin Timberlake from his car stereo. [NBC Miami]

About a month ago, we brought you the story of Alisha Smith, an assistant attorney general from New York who was suspended for allegedly moonlighting as a dominatrix. Her reported sexual proclivities earned her our Lawyer of the Day title, so it wasn’t a surprise when she beat the competition into submission to take September’s Lawyer of the Month title.

Today, however, we have news that our lascivious ligatrix can dish it out, but isn’t exactly a fan of taking it. Although whips and chains may excite her, being on the receiving end of a professional spanking just isn’t as erotic.

Smith and her sexy alter ego, Alisha Sparks, have gone public with some new information that may be shocking to those in the BDSM community….

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Alisha Smith

In our sexually repressed society, we just love it when “normal” people are exposed to have kinky sex lives. The bigger the disparity between the person’s “regular” daytime pursuits and their nighttime shenanigans, the better.

And while we know better here at Above the Law, the outside world tends to think “lawyer” is about as conservative a day job as possible. It’s a profession of discretion. So when the New York Post found a lawyer, a government lawyer no less, who reportedly gets paid to be a dominatrix on the side, it was going to be big news.

But come on, doesn’t “dominatrix” sound like relatively normal sexual activity for a securities lawyer working in the New York Attorney General’s office? This doesn’t sound like something she should be punished for.

Let she who is really satisfied by going home to five minutes of missionary before Leno cast the first stone….

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Obviously some people in my office … all of them … don’t like me.

– County Attorney Bill Sutter, of York, Nebraska, drawing a conclusion about his relationship with his co-workers. His co-workers have alleged that Sutter was disrespectful to women, made crude comments about his scrotum and about rape, and goofed around in the office. Sutter has refused to resign, and county officials are now attempting to initiate his recall.

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