Rudeness

Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr.

We remind Delaware judges that the obligation to write judicial opinions on the issues presented is not a license to use those opinions as a platform from which to propagate their individual world views on issues not presented. …

To the extent Delaware judges wish to stray beyond those issues and, without making any definitive pronouncements, ruminate on what the proper direction of Delaware law should be, there are appropriate platforms, such as law review articles, the classroom, continuing legal education presentations, and keynote speeches.

– The Delaware Supreme Court, in an en banc decision, stepping away from the case at hand in Gatz Properties v. Auriga Capital to comment on Delaware Court of Chancery Chancellor Leo E. Strine’s tendency to make rather colorful comments and observations in his opinions.

(Continue reading for one of Chancellor Strine’s most recent greatest hits, which came in the form of an awesome courtroom digression.)

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

She is so in over her head, to me it’s unfortunate that she’s a U.S. Senator. It’s an example of why we are where we are as a country that we don’t have people of substance who really can step up. It’s a joke. She’s Chuck Schumer’s lap dog.

Daniel W. Isaacs, Chairman of the New York County Republican Party, commenting on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s reelection. Both Isaacs and Gillibrand together served as clerks for the late Judge Roger Miner of the Second Circuit.

How are you supposed to get students to turn out if you can’t book Katy Perry?

It’s well known that one way of getting students to come out is free food. I mean, Katy Perry works too, but she’s not always available. If you’ve got an “important dialogue” on an “issue facing young people” and you want students to show up instead of trying to get laid somewhere, you have to bribe them with food.

Except, students aren’t stupid. They know it’s a trap. Students aren’t like Midwestern field mice who think, “Look at this chunk of cheese, it must be my lucky day!” They’re like Manhattan city vermin who show up to a $50 mousetrap with a screwdriver and an EMP.

If there’s any way of pulling it off, students will show up to the event, grab the food, and duck out long before the featured speaker starts droning on about things that people wouldn’t listen to in a podcast while they exercised.

Well, one law school has had enough of students showing up to take the food and not staying to take their medicine. A school-wide email demands proper event etiquette….

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Out in Ohio, a woman’s campaign for reelection as county prosecutor has been marred by vicious rumors about her panties (or the alleged lack thereof). As the account is told, apparently Hocking County Prosecutor Laina Fetherolf experienced a wardrobe malfunction of sorts while in Judge John Wallace’s courtroom. It reminded us of the deposition in which counsel argued over a claim that one attorney’s shirt was so sheer the witness could see her breasts.

But in this case, Fetherolf was wearing a light-colored dress with dark panties, and a judge allegedly instructed her to fix her fashion faux pas. Okay, here’s where the story gets a little absurd. So, like any reasonable woman, Fetherolf reportedly ran to the men’s room (mmhmm), removed her panties (suuure), and returned to the courtroom, commando-style (give me a break).

You’ll never guess what she supposedly did next….

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Maybe it’s just because Elie is out for a few weeks caring for his new mini-Elie, but we’ve recently been feeling a little more warm and fuzzy than usual here at ATL. One of the most widely-read stories this week was Staci’s heartfelt response to the jerkoid attorney who called out a Midwestern news anchor for her weight. As of this writing, Staci’s post has generated more than 200 comments.

Anonymous commenting gets a bad rap, but as our Comment of the Week winner shows, sometimes even the haters can give a lil’ love too…

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Jennifer Livingston

Over the past few days, everyone has been talking about Jennifer Livingston, the Wisconsin morning news anchor who responded on the air to a male viewer’s email about her weight. In his letter, the male viewer told Livingston that she wasn’t a “suitable example” for young people because of her physical appearance. Her courageous counterpoint went viral, and ever since, she’s been making her rounds on the TV talk show circuit to address what she thinks is the root of the problem, and why people think letters like this are acceptable: bullying.

Now, you may be asking yourself why I chose to write about this today. To be honest, when I first watched Livingston’s video on Tuesday night, I really had no intention to do so. I thought that she was a very strong woman who chose to stand up for herself, and really, for all overweight people, but that her four-minute segment didn’t need to be addressed here at Above the Law. (Not even after being asked in the comments yesterday whether I thought I was a “good role model,” an obvious jab about my own weight.)

But then I found out a little more about the man who emailed Livingston to criticize her weight. As it turns out, he’s a lawyer….

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We’ve covered bullying time and time again here at ATL. Usually we come down pretty hard on schools’, parents’, and legislators’ attempts to punish certain forms of alleged bullying among hormonally unbalanced teenagers. Because we prefer to allow kids (like this little guy) to grow up and be able to handle their own lives without constant parental interference.

The anti-bullying movement is moving into the employment law world, as several states consider adding bullying to the existing discrimination law canon. Is this a good idea? Let’s take a look at the details and possible consequences for schoolyard bullies who got taller but never grew up…

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Biglaw lawyers behave badly sometimes. And Biglaw lawyers sometimes use travel as an excuse to behave badly. But no one likes to talk about the bad things they see their colleagues do. It is bad for business, especially since it is the rainmakers that usually behave the worst. Bad behavior is usually just ignored, and only gets revealed as confirming evidence of a former colleague’s failings — if and when the firm decides enough is enough and cuts ties with the evildoer. Sometimes that never happens, and the sociopath becomes a “firm leader.” Biglaw is a business, after all, and powerful people need to get away with the things powerful people decide they are entitled to do. So Biglaw lawyers and staff generally keep quiet.

When I was an associate, I was lucky enough to work with pretty decent people. Even though I did a lot of work traveling, with a variety of senior attorneys, I was never exposed to any behavior that was out of line. Back at the office, there usually was a spate of gossip following partner retreats, but that was tame stuff. To be honest, a group of pasty old partners hitting a strip club, or some millionaire partner sitting at the ten-grand-a-hand blackjack table, did not strike me as that scandalous. Especially when I was exposed in the office to blatant overstaffing of matters, do-nothing partners and associates “reviewing” things, and similar other profit-drivers that normal people would consider theft. (My firm was not so bad on the padding front; other firms I saw from cases I was on were far worse. But that is a discussion for another time.)

There was one time, however, when I saw openly unprofessional behavior, perpetrated by a pretty important Biglaw figure no less. And I kept quiet about it, despite the temptation to email Lat and expose what I saw. Now that I have this platform, I still intend to protect the identity of the Biglaw figure that I saw with my own eyes publicly debase his or herself and our shared profession. Why? For the sake of his or her family, clients, and firm. And for Biglaw — we don’t need more scandals, especially stale ones. And when there is innocent collateral damage to consider, I think it best to keep my mouth shut. If this person’s fate is to be exposed for other indiscretions, it will happen. Going by the lack of discretion they exhibited publicly (which I witnessed with my own eyes), there is a good chance they feel immune. Maybe they are. We’ll see — and I have no doubt that if things ever catch up to them, ATL will be there to capture the happenings.

So what did I see? First, some background….

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Justice Jim Sharp Jr.

You guys are a bunch of back woods hillbillies that use screwed up methods in dealing with children and I can promise you this, things are about to change in Brazoria County.

– Texas Justice James (“Jim”) Patrick Sharp Jr., quoted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in a public reprimand released earlier this week.

(Keep reading to learn the details of Justice Sharp’s reprimand and read much more of the choice language that got him in trouble.)

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Early in July, we wrote about a family court judge who found himself in hot water after a video of him yelling at a pastor who was going through a divorce went viral.

Now, the judge has been hit with expedited ethics charges — not over his hot-tempered behavior, though, but for allegedly ignoring orders from higher-ups on the state judicial food chain. And, as you might expect, the judge is not exactly Zen about facing the charges…

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