On Monday, a jury convicted Larry Williams of first-degree manslaughter and his wife Carri of both manslaughter and homicide by abuse. Both now face possible life in prison.
Larry and Carri Williams were typical suburban parents who approached every parenting decision by asking, “WWJD?”
Except Larry and Carri were convinced that what Jesus would do is mercilessly beat and ultimately kill a defenseless girl.
While, obviously, the actual scripture is open to interpretation, what I take away from it is that Jesus would actually not do any of these things.
Unfortunately, Larry and Carri are not alone in their screwball religious interpretation, and while the media (to the extent it has covered the case at all) is focused on the verdict and looming sentence, the unasked legal question this case raises is how people like this are allowed to adopt children in the first place…
At the end of August, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in Elane Photography v. Willock that a Christian wedding photographer violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) when it refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. (New Mexico does not currently permit same-sex marriage, though all the parties and the court frequently refer to the ceremony as a wedding.) This week, one of the parties in a similar controversy in Oregon, Sweet Cakes Bakery, announced that it would be closing shop, citing its opposition to baking wedding cakes for same-sex couples.
Elane Photography argued that it did not violate the NMHRA but, if it did, this application of the law violated the photography business’s Free Speech and Free Exercise rights under the First Amendment. The court disagreed, writing that “when Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”
Personally, I’d vote for same-sex marriage if I lived in a state considering such laws. Polygamy too, for that matter. If you are listening for a full-throated defense of traditional, heterosexual marriage to the exclusion of state recognition of any other arrangement, you won’t hear it here. I’m inclined to support religious understandings of traditional marriage, but I’m libertarian enough to let everyone — straight, gay, or otherwise — suffer through the headaches of having the government divide your assets when you get divorced.
Still, using anti-discrimination laws to mandate that all businesses operating as public accommodations provide services to same-sex couples’ weddings sounds like an unnecessary imposition on the sincere religious beliefs of others — and a great way to end up with lousy wedding photos….
A Catholic lawyer, a Jewish lawyer, and a Muslim lawyer all walk into a bar. The Muslim lawyer says, “I’m filing an injunction to stop this den of sin from serving alcohol.” The Jewish lawyer says, “I’m suing you for working on the Sabbath.” The bartender looks at the Catholic lawyer and says, “Jesus, what do you want?” The Catholic lawyer says, “How the hell should I know? But I’ll take a scotch while you wait for an answer.”
It’s not every day that you see a person specify that they want a lawyer who is from a certain religious background. Law is generally a secular profession. Sure, Moses is the first law giver in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but the only God most lawyers consult before deciding whether or not to take a case is the one bathed in green.
Still, when you are a whack-job on Craigslist who is trying to mount an assault on the calendar, I suppose the only way you’re going to get help is with the aid of a true believer.
Yeah, you heard me right, I’m talking about a guy who wants to sue… somebody… over the calendar…
The day after the July 2013 bar exam concluded nationwide, we broke the news about a young woman of Muslim faith who was taken to task by a proctor over her religious headwear, a hijab. The proctor didn’t approach the examinee before testing on the Massachusetts exam started, or even during the lunch break — instead, the proctor passed her a note during the morning session of the exam, instructing her to remove her headscarf (even though the examinee had already received approval to wear it).
To interrupt someone during the bar exam and break their concentration over something that could’ve been taken care of when testing was not in session is not only incredibly rude, but also incredibly stupid. This is a professional exam that will determine if and when a person will be able to start their legal career. Why do something that could put their chances of passing in jeopardy? On top of that, why do something that could make it look like this was religiously motivated? This was a bad move on many levels.
I was on a fast-moving segment on HuffPost Live this afternoon called “Legalese It,” where host Mike Sacks runs through a bunch of overlooked legal items from the past week. Since I was on vacation for half of the week, I learned a lot! For instance, did you know that Michigan had an anti-begging statute on the books from the 1920s that was just struck down so they can put a big “Spare Some Change” sign in Detroit?
Okay, that’s not why it was struck down, but still. Also it seems that North Carolina is trying to restrict voting to five white guys chosen at random by Reince Priebus and Obama is now in favor of legislative prayer, as if nobody told him he can’t run for a third term.
Looks like I missed a lot, but that didn’t stop me from talking about it on the web. Specifically, I got to talk about how Eric Holder and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott are now friends when it comes to stopping USAIR and American Airlines from combining to own all the railroads on the Monopoly board…
Apparently not “Messiah,” regardless of his parents’ wishes.
A Tennessee judge — at least that’s what the media is calling her, she’s really a “Child Support Magistrate,” and since this whole affair is about claiming a grandiose title, it’s deliciously ironic — has ordered that the birth certificate of a 7-month-old baby named “Messiah” be “Martin DeShawn McCullough.”
Anyway, future Associate Justice Lu Ann Ballew based her name change on her religious beliefs, making her not only wrong legally, but also religiously….
* When it comes to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, corporate personhood only goes so far. Religious freedoms apply to human beings, not their businesses, and the Third Circuit agrees. [New York Times]
* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal sector added 2,800 jobs in July after major losses in the two months prior. We’re sure that the eleventy billion members of the class of 2013 will be very pleased. [Am Law Daily]
* Not a Nigerian scam: Biglaw firms in Washington, D.C. — like Covington & Burling, Greenberg Traurig, and Williams Mullen — are busy chasing business in Africa. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* A New Jersey municipal judge faces ethics charges due to his “extra-judicial activities” with an exotic dancer. It seems she appeared before him in his courtroom and in his bed. [New Jersey Law Journal]
* Tawana Brawley, the woman who dragged a New York prosecutor into an elaborate rape hoax (complete with race-baiting), is finally making payments on a defamation verdict. [New York Post]
* “Either I’m a stupid lawyer, or I’m stupid for thinking the court will enforce the rights of guys.” Former Cravath attorney and men’s rights advocate Roy Den Hollander is at it again. [New York Daily News]
* Morehouse College will be the fifth undergraduate school in the nation to publish a law journal. This is basically a case study in what it means to begin law school gunning while in college. [Daily Report]
This is what you could call a slow news week. It’s kind of the exact opposite of the week that inspired me to start writing these missives. Back then, the Supreme Court was handing down rulings and the Zimmerman trial was getting off to a disastrous start for the defense. It all seems so long ago.
The latter days of the summer are always slow in law as partners and judges go on vacation and students await the return to school. The bar exam provides some light entertainment and OCI generally provides a gem or two, but otherwise it’s a slow period.
And that’s when people can get tripped up by satire masquerading as news.
Here’s a short round-up of a few key stories from the week including how satire fooled a lot of the ATL-verse and some high profile cases that had milestone moments…
Everyone knows that things like hats, hoods, scarves, and visors are not allowed to be worn during the bar exam. But religious headgear, like Sikh dastars and Jewish yarmulkes, is permitted, as long as special written approval has been obtained before the test from a state’s board of bar examiners.
When there’s a miscommunication somewhere along the line, things don’t always go as planned. Yesterday, a proctor in Massachusetts passed a distasteful note to a Michigan Law graduate of Muslim faith during the morning essay session. We have a copy of that note…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.