Public defenders

I know Lat usually does the Lawyerly Lairs. Lat likes to see how fabulous people live. I’m less interested in that. My thing is more about mocking those less fortunate than me.

When the tip came in — “please help this poor public defender unload this real estate” — you can guess which one of us was more interested. PD real estate? Is it a Lincoln Continental? Is it a houseboat floating just off of Riker’s?

Sadly, for comedic purposes, the tipster has a legitimate house. Plumbing and doors and furniture that isn’t made of cardboard. Turns out the tipster is a federal public defender instead of a local, cannon-fodder PD. But, if you look really closely, you can see the signs of a person who works for clients who can’t afford anybody else…

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Even if what Stanley D. Rauls says to a potential witness is technically correct, somehow, the defense submits, as a result of the communication, the witness or their agent comes away unreasonably afraid. That’s the “poopyhead” part defense counsel really can’t countenance.

– Sharon Kiel, a former deputy public defender in Arkansas who showed a little personality in chastising a lawyer that she felt was intimidating a witness. She even worked emoji into her filing. Hawg Law Blawg, which recently brought us the dog-piss RFAs, uncovered this gem of yesteryear. It’s a tad unorthodox, but if you’ve got a friendly judge, why not break up the tedium of their day by giving them something fun to read?

* Alan Jacobs, Dewey’s bankruptcy trustee, says his clawback suit shouldn’t be stayed during the defendants’ criminal cases — after all, he doesn’t want their assets to dry up while they “scramble to defend themselves.” [New York Law Journal]

* Rengan Rajaratnam, Raj Rajaratnam’s little brother, was acquitted in his insider trading conspiracy case. It’s the first defeat in Preet Bharara’s financial crackdown against hedge funds. Tough break, dude. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Sore loser? Andrew J. Weinstock, the public defender who got into a fight with Judge John “I’ll Just Beat Your Ass” Murphy, resigned from his position in protest of the judge’s return to the bench. [WSJ Law Blog]

* There are many things nontraditional applicants should ask before going to law school, including, but not limited to, whether they’ll ever be able to find employment after graduation. [U.S. News & World Report]

* Oscar Pistorius’s attorney closed his defense of his client in the ongoing murder trial, and Judge Thokozile Masipa has adjourned all arguments in the controversial case until next month. [Bloomberg]


I’m writing today’s column from New York City, where I’m covering Thomson Reuters Vantage 2014, a great conference focused on mid-sized and large law firms’ use of technology. There have been fascinating discussions about how larger law firms are adapting to change and are incorporating some of the latest technologies into their IT infrastructure. Not surprisingly, however, it turns out that like solo and small-firm attorneys, large and mid-sized law firms are often just as reluctant to adopt new technologies and processes despite overwhelming evidence that doing so is the best way to stay competitive.

But the good news gleaned from this conference is that some larger firms are adapting, just as many solo and small firms are. And that’s my goal with this column: to showcase how individual solo and small-firm lawyers are using new technologies in their day-to-day practices. In the process, my columns will hopefully encourage and help other lawyers to do the same.

In today’s column I’ll be featuring Jill Paperno. Jill is a long-time assistant public defender, having worked at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office in Rochester, New York for over 27 years. She’s currently the Second Assistant Public Defender and is the author of Representing the Accused: A Practical Guide to Criminal Defense (affiliate link). In other words, Jill is a diehard criminal defense attorney and has dedicated her life to defending our constitutional rights.

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At the beginning of Superman — the real Superman, not the nonsensical slugfest from last year — General Zod and his accomplices are sentenced to the Phantom Zone for plotting a coup against Krypton’s rulers. Krypton as a whole seemed like a pretty forward-thinking place. You could tell because people wore glowing robes and robes are the universal sign of “fictional people with their collective sh*t together.” See, e.g., the Jedi, the 2688 world based on the music of Wyld Stallyns, Jesus.

Anyway, given the advanced society involved, the trial of Zod seemed a bit too Guantanamo. Zod didn’t get to mount any sort of defense and was pronounced guilty within seconds of showing up to court.

Apparently, comedian Patton Oswalt felt the same confusion and decided to provide us a glimpse into General Zod’s pre-trial prep with his public defender, “Leg-El”….

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* The federal judiciary is hiring for staff and public defender positions lost during the government’s sequestration throughout the better part of last year. Ready, aim, fire those résumés! [Legal Times]

* New York Biglaw firms always manage to find their way to the top of the Am Law 100 rankings. When all’s said and done, being so close to Wall Street definitely has its perks. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

* Absolutely no one should be alarmed about the fact that Kasowitz Benson’s profits per partner have dropped by 15 percent — well, no one but the equity partners, that is. Have fun with that. [Am Law Daily]

* The managing partner of Jacoby & Meyers is worried people will think his personal injury firm is going under, not Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy. Either way, those commercials won’t die. [New York Law Journal]

* A professor at George Mason University Law was pepper sprayed IN THE FAAAAAACE by an unknown assailant in his classroom yesterday afternoon. We’ll obvious have more on this story later. [ARLNow]

* La Verne is the first law school to offer flat-rate tuition. There will be no scholarships and no discounts. Students will pay $25K/year, nothing more, nothing less. This is, dare we say, wise. [National Law Journal]

* “Passion over pension.” Mekka Don, the Weil Gotshal corporate lit attorney turned rapper, just released his first CD, and it’s all about leaving Biglaw to follow his dreams. Go buy it here (affiliate link). [MTV]

Monica Marie Jenkins

I’m not worried anymore; give me some cocaine.

– Los Angeles County public defender Monica Marie Jenkins, in a statement allegedly made to police officers shortly after she was arrested on drunk-in-public, assault, and battery charges at the San Francisco International Airport. Jenkins was not permitted to board a flight due to her drunken state, and as police attempted to escort her from the gate, she allegedly began to kick at them and scream profanities, threatening to sue them. Soon after she arrived at San Mateo County Jail, she allegedly tried to bite a nurse. Jenkins pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Lawyers may not lead the most luxurious of lifestyles, but if you’re single and looking, it’s still a profession that will make prospective dates ooh and aah. Most people in the average dating pool think being a lawyer is a road to riches, thus making these eligible bachelors even more appealing.

One non-profit organization decided to take advantage of this allure, and is holding a man auction the week before Valentine’s Day. The event will feature about 50 professional men, and 10 of them are lawyers — very handsome lawyers. The bidding opens at $75, and we bet that some of these lucky gents will be sold for well beyond their hourly billing fees.

So who is the most prestigious piece of lawyerly man meat?

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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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* Stan Stallworth, the Sidley partner accused of sexual assault, has hired a prominent criminal defense attorney to represent him in the case while the firm stands by its man. [Am Law Daily]

* Wall Street regulators are considering approval of a formidable version of the Volcker Rule that would ban banks from proprietary trading. Voting occurs later today. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Skadden Arps has asked a judge to toss an FLSA lawsuit filed against the firm by one of its document reviewers. Aww, silly contract attorney — there’s no way you’re getting overtime pay. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Weil Gotshal is still leaking like a sieve. This time, Bruce Colbath, a partner from the firm’s New York office, defected to the Antitrust and Trade Regulation practice group at Sheppard Mullin. [Market Wired]

* Lawyerly Lairs, China Edition: Raymond Li, chair of the Greater China practice at Paul Hastings, just purchased a townhouse for about $95 million — and paid “mostly in cash,” homie. [Wall Street Journal]

* They’re extremely tardy to the party, but if the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar gets its way, law schools will be subject to random audits of their employment stats. [ABA Journal]

* It’s a tough job that “can really beat you down,” but an organization called Gideon’s Promise just made it a whole lot easier for law students to secure jobs as public defenders in the South. [National Law Journal]

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