Ridiculousness

So a guy hurt himself doing something that most of us would consider stupid. Then filed a lawsuit. It’s all hilarious.

Spreading stories about frivolous injury claims poses a moral quandary. While snicker-worthy suits like those often chronicled at Overlawyered are highly entertaining, the thinly veiled motivation behind circulating these tales is eroding confidence in the courts and promoting the dangerous assumption that all plaintiffs are crazy people trying to get rich quick. It’s all about using wacky outliers to convince everyone that the system is “out of control” before the next time some company poisons a water supply or something like that.

But there are some wacky lawsuits that need to be discussed because they ask something more fundamental. Like this one where a physical trainer decided — for no real reason — to do something EXTREME, got an EXTREME injury, and filed an EXTREME lawsuit.

And the fundamental question posed by this case is why we’re seeing more and more people with all of the sense of entitlement to do “whatever they want, whenever they want,” yet simultaneously possessing none of the commitment to personal responsibility for the consequences…

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He hit random keys or wrote, ‘I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job,’ over and over.

– An anonymous source describing stenographer Daniel Kochanski’s “bizarre antics” during numerous trials, which have caused judges to hold reconstruction hearings to repair the record in many cases.

(There’s much more to this story, so keep reading to see what happened.)

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Robert Richards IV

Sex offenders are the lowest of the low in prison. He’s a rich, white boy who is a wuss and a child perv. The prison can’t protect them, and Jan Jurden knows that reality. She is right on.

– Defense attorney Joseph A. Hurley, commenting on Judge Jan Jurden’s sentence of probation for DuPont heir Robert H. Richards IV as punishment for the fourth-degree rape of his 3-year-old daughter. Jurden noted in her sentencing order that Richards would not “fare well” in prison.


Darrious Mathis: too handsome for rape?

I had him stand up. I told the jury I wish I had what this guy’s got. Don’t take my word for it. Look at him. A lot of women like this — and some men, too.

Dwight Thomas, one of the attorneys who represented Darrious Mathis during his first trial, issuing remarks on having to “work with what you’ve got” as a defense attorney in a rape case. Thomas’s defense centered on his client’s good looks, a strategy that resulted in a hung jury.

At his second trial with a different attorney — one who did not use the “too-handsome defense” as aggressively — Mathis was convicted of kidnapping, carjacking, possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime, and assault with intent to rob and rape.

It’s fun to look at lists of bar exam passers. You can celebrate the success of your friends and derive schadenfreude from the failure of your enemies. And you can marvel or laugh at the names that some people have been saddled with by their parents.

We recently learned about two bar passers with such wacky names, it’s a miracle they survived the playground — then graduated from college and law school, and passed a very tough bar exam….

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Cleary Gottlieb switched over from “summer casual” to all-year business casual between my summer and starting full-time, so I never experienced a mandatory business attire office. Some senior folks would kvetch about the falling standard of decorum, but I suspected those guys were really just annoyed that they’d built a truly impressive suit collection and sat idly by as their wife started letting the tailor needle her, and for what? Younger lawyers rejoiced because not having to blow out a suit collection amounted to a functional bonus. I never experienced the full-on business dress policy, but personally, I could never imagine wearing business attire every day if for no other reason than business attire isn’t really conducive to the 18-hour workday.

More than a decade into the business casual movement, there are still holdouts demanding a return to the formality of the good old days. The problem with all these irritated partners is it’s not really possible to preach business attire without looking like a tool….

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That’s the only conclusion you can reach after reading the court’s new guide to typography. The federal rules say remarkably little about typeface, and the Seventh Circuit was having none of that vagueness. But instead of making a simple, concrete rule to guarantee that lawyers submit something that won’t make the judges — or their clerks — bleed profusely from the eyes, they churned out seven pages of pedantically detailed instructions. They even explain the difference between 12-point and 14-point fonts using many more words than “the second one is bigger.” Apparently the Seventh Circuit cares more about encouraging clean typefaces than efficient writing.

If you’re practicing in the Seventh Circuit, you need to read this curmudgeonly tract — and if you’re not, you can just giggle….

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“Playing Lecture Bingo gets 20 minutes in the corner”

The actual practice of law is much more rigorous than law school. Law school is basically college with lucrative summer jobs and crippling debt. Drinking every day, last-minute cramming, and generally winging it on exams are not out of place. That said, continuing the college-honed approach to my class work in no way conflicted with my understanding of proper professional behavior. I could slap together a paper for “Law and Super Mario Bros.”[1] or whatever seminar I was in and immediately shift gears to drafting well-researched and meticulously prepared memos for partners for my summer gig.

So while ATL is on record as a proponent of encouraging law schools to offer more concrete professional training, it’s not necessary to make class run like a day in the office of the worst partner or in the courtroom of a judicial diva.

That’s why, even though justified as an effort to train students to succeed in the persnickety world of trial practice, we really don’t need this professor’s three-and-a-half pages of single-spaced rules drenched in condescension….

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Does your school offer Law and Finger Painting? I bet they would if you asked.

Don’t look now, but spring is right around the corner. Spring semester, that is. For 3Ls around the country, just a few classes stand between them and graduation into one of the worst legal job markets.

Ever since President Obama suggested that the third year of law school could be cut, we’ve heard a lot of law professors talk about how essential the third year of law school is. You can take clinics! You can become “practice ready”!

Sure, you can do those things. But it’s unlikely that you are going to take any course in your last semester of school that will help you get a job when you graduate. Why would you do that? You can be unemployed just as easily taking small, low-stress classes that won’t screw up your GPA on your way out of the door.

Every school has its own selection of ridiculous upper-class electives, but I’d like to focus on how the big boys do it. The Ivy League law schools have been setting the standard for legal education for generations. Their students (for the most part) have jobs waiting for them on the other side of graduation. I’ve put together a full course schedule for an Ivy-educated 3L. Please feel free to send this to any professor who thinks that the third year is too important to lose…

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Polina Polonsky

Last month, we brought you the titillating tale of Polina Polonsky, a “gorgeous brunette lawyer” who allegedly had an affair with Khloe Kardashian’s husband, NBA player Lamar Odom. Although it sounds like a Hollywood divorce train wreck in the making, sources claim Khloe and Lamar are going to stay together, even though the 6’10” free agent is reportedly battling an addiction to crack cocaine, an odd drug of choice for a man of his wealth.

We know what you must be thinking: “Again with the Kardashian crap? Who cares if Lamar cheated on a Wookiee?” But today we think you’re going to care about the Kardashians if only because the lawyer involved in this torrid affair may have committed a serious breach of her ethical duties to clients at her firm.

What did this comely criminal defense attorney do that could have been so bad? Well, if your case didn’t go as planned, it may be because a washed-up basketball player like Lamar Odom was doing your legal work….

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