Prosecutors

Nancy Grace: You'll be seeing a lot more of her.

Ever since the acquittal of Casey Anthony, people have been wondering: What has Nancy Grace been up to? The prosecutrix turned pundit got some major mileage out of the Casey Anthony trial, which she followed with maniacal dedication. How could she top her gavel-to-gavel coverage of the infamous “Tot Mom” trial?

Earlier today, “Nancy Grace” started trending on Twitter. It was from Twitter that I learned of Nancy Grace’s second act.

You’ll have a hard time believing this, but it seems to be true….

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You realize we live in a society that puts more warning labels on cigarettes than guns.

It’s still a very challenging economy for recent law school graduates. The class of 2011 has just hit the market and many of them are still without jobs. For the class of 2010 — well, if it hasn’t happened by now you have to start wondering if it is ever going to happen.

But there’s a job opening in Miami, thanks to a spectacularly boneheaded move by a member of the class of 2010. Apparently, a 2010 GULC grad got drunk and fired his gun in the parking garage of a condominium.

He wasn’t arrested, but he will resign, because you can’t get drunk and shoot off your gun and still be a Miami prosecutor…

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Paul Bergrin

I’ll always be grateful to Paul Bergrin, the New Jersey federal prosecutor turned notorious criminal defense attorney. Thanks to him, I’ll never have to worry about being the most scandalous alumnus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

While working as an assistant U.S. attorney, I wrote a mildly snarky blog about federal judges, pretending to be a woman, until I outed myself in the pages of the New Yorker. That pales in comparison to what Bergrin stands accused of doing, including (but not limited to) the following: operating a real-estate scam, which defrauded lenders of over $1 million; running a high-volume drug dealership, which was apparently big enough to move 120 pounds of uncut cocaine; running an illegal escort service; and, most seriously of all, having witnesses murdered to keep them from testifying against his clients.

It’s hard to believe that Paul Bergrin was once a federal prosecutor. It’s not hard to believe that he is, in the words of New York magazine, “The Baddest Lawyer in the History of Jersey.”

But let’s recall that the charges against Bergrin are just that — charges, which Bergrin disputes. Last week, represented by prominent defense lawyer Lawrence Lustberg, Bergrin appeared in federal court in Newark and pleaded not guilty to all 33 counts in the 139-page indictment. Bergrin’s trial is currently set for October 11 before Judge William J. Martini.

In light of the astounding charges leveled against him, Paul Bergrin has taken on a larger-than-life aura — the man, the myth, the legend. What is he really like?

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Wouldn't you love to lick one of these?

When faced with a job that isn’t making you happy, sometimes creativity is necessary in order to escape. Because hey, not everyone can enjoy courtroom glory like that of Jose Baez, knight in shining armor for Casey Anthony. And so, for these people, there are many career alternatives to choose from.

We’ve written previously about these creative types: some decided that they’d rather walk across the country than work another day in Biglaw; others decided to hang their own shingles in the wonderful world of mobile cupcakes.

If doing something that will make you or your customers wish for a summer oasis is your thing, then I say go for it.

But some lawyers opt to pair business sense with their creativity. Some lawyers realize that during the summer, the ideal treat is not scaling a mountain or munching on a cupcake, but instead, licking a popsicle or two. And that is how one former prosecutor started a delicious frozen empire in Georgia to become the self-proclaimed Earl of Pops….

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With the discussion of heavy Biglaw workloads still fresh in our minds, let’s remember that most attorneys understand the law is a rigorous profession. Lawyers don’t expect to work 9-to-5 hours. Most lawyers aren’t going to freak out when they have to put in a long week.

At least on the East Coast. Maybe, up in the Pacific Northwest, lawyering is a different thing entirely. Maybe it’s a regular, working man’s job, where you “punch in,” “punch out,” and take a precise hour-long lunch away from your desk every day. And maybe northwestern lawyers get so used to this workaday schedule that when they find themselves in the middle of a long week, and the specter of weekend work is staring them in the face, it’s totally usual for them to lash out at opposing counsel with displaced anger.

Or maybe this one prosecutor is just kind of a prick?

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Last week I attended an interesting talk by Preet Bharara, currently serving as the U.S. Attorney for the (extremely powerful and prestigious) Southern District of New York. I had heard great things about Bharara from many people, including current and former colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s office and people who previously worked with him on Capitol Hill, where he served as chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer. So I was eager to hear his remarks, which he delivered to the New York Financial Writers Association, a group of business and finance journalists here in New York.

Here’s my report on what he had to say — including, for those of you who aspire to be assistant U.S. attorneys, what he expects from the prosecutors who work for him….

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Another summer, another reason to never go to Brooklyn.

Yes, my friends, the bedbugs are back in the King’s County District Attorney’s Office. Last summer, bedbugs invaded the KCDA’s office — and emails started flying around from concerned employees on the verge of having anxiety attacks.

You’d think that given all the coverage and stress, the city would have spent the winter figuring out some way of protecting public employees that have to work in Brooklyn.

But maybe there’s just no cure for bedbugs….

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Being a federal prosecutor, an assistant United States attorney (AUSA), is a great legal job. The work is interesting and challenging, you’re serving the public, and you’re paid decently — maybe not Biglaw bucks, but reasonably well when compared to many state government or public interest positions. And if you want to earn more money later, perhaps as your kids approach college age, you can walk through the revolving door into the world of private practice, which values AUSA experience.

I worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in my home state of New Jersey from 2003 to 2006 (under then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie). My colleagues enjoyed their work. I remember that when I interviewed for my position, I met one AUSA who told me, “I love my job so much, I’d do it for free!”

Well… would you? Because that’s what some U.S. attorney’s offices are offering: the opportunity to work there, for no pay, with a minimum commitment as to time period.

And apparently lawyers are lining up for the opportunity….

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Andrew Shirvell (far right) and Chris Armstrong

Here’s a quick update on a past Lawsuit of the Day. Last month, Chris Armstrong, the openly gay ex-president of the University of Michigan student body, sued Andrew Shirvell, the former Michigan assistant attorney general and outspoken opponent of homosexuality. As you may recall, Shirvell criticized Armstrong in a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch, making allegations that according to Armstrong were false, and Shirvell also followed Armstrong around Ann Arbor. So Armstrong sued Shirvell for stalking, invasion of privacy, and defamation (among other claims).

Now Andrew Shirvell is firing back. Last week, Shirvell, proceeding pro se [FN1], moved to dismiss Chris Armstrong’s lawsuit.

Not surprisingly, Shirvell claimed in his motion to be a victim: “Plaintiff’s course of conduct was politically motivated and intended to make an example out of Defendant in order to deter others from criticizing Plaintiff’s homosexual activist agenda.” More specifically, Shirvell argued that certain counts of the Armstrong complaint fail to state claims upon which relief can be granted, that Shirvell’s criticism of Armstrong was protected by the First Amendment, and that Shirvell never had direct contact with Armstrong (e.g., by email or by phone).

In addition, Shirvell lodged some counterclaims against Armstrong. What is the basis for Shirvell suing Armstrong?

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Don't sucker punch David Prater.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater: you, sir, are poised to receive the coveted “everybody now knows you’re a bad ass” award. Expect your phone call from Badass-in-Chief President Obama shortly.

The story from the Oklahoman (gavel bang: ABA Journal) starts off in scary fashion. A defendant, Emanuel “E Man” Mitchell, took a swing at prosecutor Prater, after the jury found E-Man guilty of felony murder. Prater never saw the punch coming.

But that wasn’t the end of the fight….

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