Rudeness

Earlier this month, we talked about “Punk Defendant” Penelope Soto. Soto was charged with possession of Xanax, and during her arraignment she gave the judge the finger.

Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat cited her for contempt and sentenced her to 30 days in jail.

Soto has cleaned up her act, got her contempt sentence dropped, and appeared in court earlier this week, where she was complimented by a different judge.

And I’ve got to admit, I feel bad about calling her a “punk” in the first place. I now think that she was high during her initial, profane court appearance, and they should have dried her out before sending her up before the judge….

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A few weeks ago, a young woman named Penelope Soto became an internet legend after she was caught on camera flipping a Florida judge the bird and telling him to go f**k himself during a court proceeding. Soto’s behavior earned her a 30-day stint in jail for contempt of court, but she apparently changed her ways at a later hearing and convinced the judge to vacate the month-long sentence.

But not all mouthy defendants are so lucky. Some of them do go to jail. Take, for example, the case of Brian Noval, a Florida man who in 2009 called a judge a c*ck — twice. Why do all of these things happen in Florida? Anyway, Noval’s antics were captured on film, and he earned himself 120 days in the pokey for his indiscretions. Noval only served four days of that sentence before the judge decided that this cocky defendant had learned his lesson.

As we all know, the internet is for porn, but it’s also for wonderful videos like these. And thanks to Daniel Tosh of Comedy Central’s Tosh.0, sometimes the stars of embarrassing viral videos are given the chance to redeem themselves on cable television. Ms. Soto hasn’t been given the opportunity to participate in one of these yet, but Noval was featured on the show last night.

For reasons that escape me, we never covered Noval’s incident in 2009, but now that he’s been brought back into the pop culture limelight, we’ve got some funny videos to entertain you with….

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You loved that story, huh? Couldn’t get enough of Ms. “F**k You” to the judge. Everyone ran right to YouTube, 7,000,000 times. Non-practicing “legal experts” claimed they knew exactly why this was the wrong/right thing for the judge to do, while the coddlers and tough-love morality commentators claimed this was an example of a bigger problem.

So yeah, young people just in to the jail from a drug-induced night out don’t always have the best manners. Sometimes they say “f**k you” to people who are in a position to help them.

So do lawyers and law students.

Lawyers, you are the worst at valuing your colleagues time. You have a legal issue or question, you feel entitled to advice, case law, representation. You feel entitled to the extent that your appreciation is often nonexistent. You often want referrals to lawyers that will help you or your client for free because, well, now that you’ve been paid, there’s no more money.

Relax, I actually do have some examples….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: So She Flipped Off A Judge, And Your Manners?”

If you can’t laugh at these defendants, then you can’t be a defense attorney. Or a prosecutor, most likely. You could be a judge, though — a judge with no sense of humor.

We’ve got a couple of stories today about defendants behaving very badly in court. Hilariously badly. “I could have walked out of this courtroom, but now I’m going to jail for contempt,” badly.

Looking at these two stories together will allow us to analyze one important question about courthouse etiquette: is it worse to flip off a judge, or to physically assault an attorney?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Punk Defendant Potpourri: Punching and Cursing in Court Will Get You Held in Contempt”

Lady Gaga

Back in September, we declared that Lil Wayne was the best celebrity deponent of all time, but now we may have to take back that title and hand it over to Lady Gaga, who recently proved herself to be a gigantic bitch on the record in sworn deposition testimony.

In case you were unaware, Lady Gaga is the queen of all things fabulous. She can get away with wearing things — like dresses made entirely of meat, plastic bubbles, and Kermit the Frogs — that not even Madonna would consider. Her little minions monsters span the globe, and will jump to defend her highness at a moment’s notice. Her lyrics are powerful and awe-inspiring, and she’s a major proponent of gay rights, worldwide.

And last, but certainly not least, she’s a true New Yorker, as is evidenced by the f**k-laden deposition transcript that the New York Post got its grubby little hands on….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lady Gaga Is the Most Foul-Mouthed Deponent of All Time”

It’s the last day of December, so it’s a good time to look back on the year that was. We’ll do what we’ve done for the past three years (wrap-up posts from 2009, 2010, and 2011 can be found here, here, and here) and identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2012, based on traffic (as represented by pageviews).

By the way, for the third year in a row, the most popular category page on Above the Law was Law Schools. People have now been intensely focused on the declining value proposition of going to law school for as long as it takes to earn a Juris Doctor degree. Isn’t it time that we graduate from the current educational model?

The second and third most-popular categories on ATL in 2012 were Biglaw and Bonuses. Although this year brought us the largest law firm failure ever, nearly all other firms indiscriminately doled out offers to summer associates, and bonus season looked better for the first time in years. While the legal profession is still in transition, things are certainly looking up, and through the highs and the lows, we’ve been there to cover it all.

So what were the ten most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2012? Let’s find out….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, from Ross Guberman, a look at lawyers’ ethical breaches and their consequences.

Quick: List all the ways you can get into ethical hot water while writing a brief, and then list all the things judges can do to you in return.

Sometimes lawyers go too far, but do judges ever overreact?

I interviewed Judy Fischer, author of Pleasing the Court (affiliate link), on wayward lawyers and the angry judges who penalize them:

In your short and fascinating book, we meet all sorts of wayward attorneys who are in some way punished by courts for something they’ve done in a brief. One attorney called the members of an administrative board “monkeys” and compared their pronouncements to the “grunts and groans of an ape.” Another attorney neglected to mention an unfavorable case even though he himself was counsel in that case. Yet another referred to opposing counsel as “Nazis and redneck pepper-woods.” And various other attorneys drafted a proposed order with a first sentence that’s nearly four pages long, filed a complaint that the court called a “hideous sprawling mess,” cited a dissent as controlling authority, or copied another lawyer’s brief.

When you compare all these alleged ethical breaches with the penalties they provoked, what are a few of the behaviors that seem to irk judges most?

Read more at the ATL Career Center….

The year is quickly drawing to a close, but we have unfinished business to conduct here at Above the Law. Come on, people, we still have to crown our Lawyer of the Year for 2012.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, in the comments or via email. We’ve narrowed down the nominees to a field of nine (although you’ll see only eight options in the poll because one is a joint nomination). As in past years, the contenders run the gamut from distinguished to despicable.

And the nominees are….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Above the Law’s 2012 Lawyer of the Year Competition: The Finalists!”

It is that time of year when “A Christmas Story” begins to play on the endless loop left vacant by the old WPIX yule log. The scene I refer to is when Scut Farkus tortures Flick by turning his arm behind his back and forcing him to say “uncle” until Scut and his yellow eyes have had enough. Then he and his toady, Grover Dill, retreat back under the rocks from whence they came.

The Scut Farkuses of the in-house world are thankfully very few and even farther between. Usually, there is at least a façade of collegiality between different counsels representing their respective companies. Sometimes, this collegiality becomes real, and drinks are shared as deals are closed. But, yes, Virginia, there is a Scut Farkus Society.

They are the barely competent; just enough to be dangerous, and they usually somehow hit the lottery and work at uber-corporations whose money we as a company desire. As a vendor attorney, there is always a bit of kowtowing to the purchaser. Sometimes it’s a cultural necessity, but more often than not, it is a factor of needing the business. But everyone has a breaking point, yes, even me….

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Kristen Saban

* With Eric Holder questioning his job, and Deval Patrick dining at the White House, perhaps we’ll see our second black attorney general. Or not, because one of the Governor’s aides says he’ll continue his reign as a Masshole. [Washington Times; Buzzfeed]

* When it came to sanctions for discovery violations in the Apple v. Samsung case, this judge was all about pinching pennies. Last week, both Quinn Emanuel and MoFo got taken to task over their apparently “sloppy billing practices.” [The Recorder]

* What’s the most inappropriate thing for a federal judge to say to jurors when delivering the news that a defendant of Asian descent killed herself after testifying? “Sayonara.” Ugh. [Careerist via New York Times]

* “Law school is very unforgiving, but classes must go on.” Law schools in the New York metropolitan area are still trying to make sure their students are safe and sound — and studying, of course. [New York Law Journal]

* Another one bites the dust: Team Strauss/Anziska’s lawsuit against John Marshall Law School over its allegedly phony post-graduate employment statistics has been dismissed with prejudice. [Chicago Tribune]

* Are you ready for some litigation? Lawyers for Nick Saban’s daughter are showing the sorority girl who sued her what it’s like to get rolled by the Alabama tide in a flurry of more than 40 subpoenas. [Times Leader]

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