Suicide

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we really do not like to write about murders, suicides, or murder-suicides here on Above the Law. The loss of human life is tragic, and it is even more so when there are children involved.

But that being said, we have news today that Sam Friedlander, an alumnus of my alma mater, was involved in a dispute with his estranged wife late Monday night — one that led to her bludgeoning and the shooting of his two young children — before he decided to turn the gun on himself.

If you think the story can’t get any sadder, wait till you see how the law school handled it….

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Judge Vanessa Gilmore

* Lincoln Caplan writes about Bill Stuntz — “America’s leading thinker on criminal justice, and its hardest to categorize” — in a review of Stuntz’s posthumously published book, The Collapse of American Criminal Justice (affiliate link). [Democracy: A Journal of Ideas]

* Ben Kerschberg identifies eight great law and technology resources — including Above the Law’s tech section, natch. [Forbes]

* Andrew Cohen calls out Judge Vanessa Gilmore for “dubious behavior” in a death penalty case. Judicial diva is as judicial diva does? [The Atlantic]

* Professor Eugene Volokh comes to the defense of “dissental” and “concurral,” two new words coined by his former boss, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. [Volokh Conspiracy]

Turtle as deadly weapon?

* Don’t let Stephen McDaniel or Bruce Reilly anywhere near a turtle. [Lowering the Bar]

* Check out Orrick’s excellent “It Gets Better” video. Orrick, MoFo and Shearman are the three large law firms we’re aware of that have made such videos; if you know of others, please let us know. [It Gets Better]

* If you are free on November 4th and will be in New York that night, consider attending the Black and White Masquerade Ball of the Dave Nee Foundation, a non-profit committed to fighting depression and preventing suicide. [The Dave Nee Foundation]

Tyler Clementi and Dharun Ravi

As we mentioned in Friday’s Non-Sequiturs, the legal team of Dharun Ravi has moved to dismiss the criminal charges against Ravi stemming from the suicide of Tyler Clementi. As many of you know, Clementi committed suicide after Ravi streamed video of Clementi hooking up with another guy.

Lawyers to Dharun Ravi discovered comments from Clementi suggesting that Clementi was concerned about his parents’ reaction to his sexual orientation. Other Clementi messages are getting more headlines. According to New York Magazine, Clementi “also made jokes about Ravi’s family, calling them ‘sooo indian / first gen americanish…his rents defs owna dunkin [donuts].’ In other words, typical teen asshole gossip, on both sides.”

Typical is how I’ve been describing Ravi’s behavior from the very beginning. I didn’t need the system digging into the past of a suicide victim to determine whether his roommate “caused” him to take his own life.

But this is what many people wanted. So now that we’re here, I’m wondering if people are happy….

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Who will help the injured Good Samaritan?

Before you’ve been through 1L Torts, this story is shocking. After you’ve been through 1Ls Torts, it’s not that surprising.

In 2009, two Good Samaritans saw a Hummer crashed off the side of the road. The car was on fire. The two men sprang into action, ran down a snowy embankment, and pulled a woman from the burning wreckage.

They saved her life.

Which is interesting, considering that it turns out the woman was allegedly trying to kill herself.

The men suffered injuries, and now they are suing….

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Dads, please don't set yourselves on fire.

I’ve said before that the word “literally” is overused and misused in our culture. I’m guilty of it, and so are many others. It’s not a big deal, except for the fact that when you really need the word, its meaning has been diminished.

But guys, today we have a story about a man who literally and successfully set himself on fire on the courthouse steps and died. To quote a tipster: “If burning yourself alive to protest the court system isn’t sensational enough to merit a mention on ATL, I don’t know what is.”

No doubt.

But why self-immolation? Well, let’s take a look at the man’s 10,000 word suicide note….

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Dr. Jack Kevorkian (via Getty Images).

Jack Kevorkian was a Michigan pathologist — but the doctor spent more time in the courtroom than in the operating room. He was a frequent litigant, thanks to his central role in the national controversy over assisted suicide, whose legality he advocated.

Early this morning, “Dr. Death” died, at the age of 83. It’s telling that Kevorkian’s passing was confirmed to the media by his lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger (whose awesome website we’ve previously deconstructed). The exact cause of death was not immediately known, but Kevorkian reportedly suffered from kidney and respiratory problems.

UPDATE (10 AM): According to Mayer Morganroth, another attorney for Kevorkian, Kevorkian suffered a pulmonary thrombosis, when a blood clot in his leg broke free and moved up to his heart. Morganroth was with Kevorkian at the time of his death, according to the Detroit Free Press (via ABA Journal).

The legal system tried to stop Dr. Kevorkian from assisting in suicides for many years, without success….

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Molly Wei, the pretty ex-Rutgers student who was charged with two counts of invasion of privacy in the Tyler Clementi case, has reached a deal with the prosecution. Wei, 19, has been admitted to a pre-trial intervention program that could result in the charges against her being dismissed.

What does Wei have to do as part of the PTI program?

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Tyler Clementi (left) and Dharun Ravi (right)

They really threw the book at this kid.

Last September, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, surreptitiously recorded and then broadcast footage of Clementi hooking up in his room with another man.

Clementi’s death touched off an important national conversation about the bullying of gay teens and the need to reach out to them so they don’t feel so isolated. If anything good can come from Clementi’s suicide, it will be to make people commit to helping gays and lesbians as they struggle through adolescence and young adulthood in sometimes hostile communities.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Tyler Clementi will be the only martyr for this cause. No, there are some people hellbent on making sure that another young life is effectively ruined, and some of those people work for the state of New Jersey.

Charges flowed out of the grand jury today for Clementi’s roommate and “tormentor,” Ravi. Based on the allegations in the indictment, you’d think Ravi had been running for the Republican nomination for President instead of acting like an 18-year-old college freshman…

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John Taylor Skilling, the son of former Enron executive Jeff Skilling, was found dead in his apartment in California. The Associated Press says that a bottle of medication was found next to John Skilling, and they report that he had been distraught over a recent breakup with his girlfriend.

His father, Jeffrey Skilling, served as president of Enron. In 2006, Jeff Skilling was convicted after a jury trial of multiple charges arising out of Enron’s collapse, and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. He appealed to the Supreme Court, which vacated part of his conviction in a major ruling on the “honest services” fraud statute, and sent the case back for resentencing.

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* An interesting interview with Professor Benjamin H. Barton about his new book, The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System, which demonstrates what many laypeople suspect: namely, that the legal system is rigged to benefit lawyers over the public. Professors Barton and Reynolds discuss why this might be the case and also compare the legal to the medical profession in this respect. [Instavision with Glenn Reynolds / PJTV]

* Eric Turkewitz channeling Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Look, let’s be blunt here. Who is in a better position to pay the costs of an injury if a city bus injures people? Our strapped city budget, or the victims?” [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Obama says drug legalization is worth a debate. For those scoring at home: we can talk about legalizing drugs, but we can’t talk about controlling guns. [Huffington Post]

* Meanwhile, Florida criminalizes… bath salts? Bonobo Bro has the winning blurb: “Check out this example of the brocist nanny state trying to get in the way of spring break, bath salts that have cocaine like effects and a few other of the principals this great nation was founded on.” [WJHG]

Fred Thompson

* Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana won’t seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. [Politico]

* Speaking of former Republican presidential hopefuls, Fred Thompson prepares to lobby on behalf of trial lawyers. Seriously. Cancel Law & Order and the universe starts breaking down. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The number eight proves lucky for one taker of the New Hampshire bar exam — and the number $140,000, not so lucky. After passing the NH bar exam on his eighth try, the debt-laden lad gets dinged on character and fitness — a familiar tale by now. [Legal Profession Blog via ABA Journal]

* Gotta love it when Jamie Dimon gets catty. [Dealbreaker]

* A corporate partner in the Moscow office of Baker Botts apparently took his own life. John Sheedy, R.I.P. [Am Law Daily]

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