Trials

Gerald Ung (left) and Edward DiDonato Jr. (right)

This shouldn’t come as a shock; we predicted it last February, when the criminal case ended in acquittal. But Eddie DiDonato Jr., a former lacrosse star at Villanova and the son of a prominent partner at the Fox Rothschild law firm, has filed a civil lawsuit against Gerald Ung, the Temple Law School student who shot DiDonato in January 2010 in the Old City section of Philadelphia.

Gerald Ung isn’t the only defendant. DiDonato is suing a half dozen other parties, relying on various theories of liability. Let’s think of this as a Torts final exam: Who else might DiDonato be suing besides Ung? What causes of action can you see?

Let’s take a closer look at the lawsuit, filed on behalf of DiDonato by one of Pennsylvania’s leading personal injury lawyers….

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Casey Anthony, the young woman accused — and then acquitted — of killing her daughter, dropped off the radar after her sentencing in early July.

Thanks to Nancy Grace’s efforts, the allegedly murderous hottie soon became the most-hated woman in America. Rumors of attacks on Tot Mom look-alikes ran rampant, a burly African-American male named Casey Anthony had his Facebook wall defaced, and the real Casey Anthony was forced into hiding.

Within the past week, however, a purported video of the alleged child killer appeared on YouTube. Shortly thereafter, NBC News confirmed that the woman featured was, in fact, the real Casey Anthony.

She’s sporting a completely new look that’s reminiscent of a hot librarian. How does it compare to her old look, and what does she have to say for herself?

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Yeah, I’m shameless, but I repeat: Oxford University Press has just published a great new treatise!

I recently popped open a box and held in my hands an advance copy of a new treatise published by Oxford University Press: Drug and Device Product Liability Litigation Strategy (affiliate link), by yours truly and my former partner at Jones Day, David B. Alden.

Popping open that box is the only compensation I’ll ever get for having written that book, because I’m no longer in the private practice of law (so I can no longer use a publication to try to attract clients) and I negotiated an advance payment to my firm (back when I was a partner at Jones Day) that basically guarantees I’ll never get any royalties from this project. That leaves as compensation only the joy of holding the book in my hands for the first time and the satisfaction of knowing that a few people will find the treatise to be worthwhile.

I’ve now held the book in my hands, so that little thrill is behind me. But the treatise is also worthwhile, and I’ll prove it….

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When we write briefs, we show — we don’t tell — the reader that we win. Thus, we do not tell the reader: “This case is barred by the statute of limitations,” which is mere assertion. Instead, we show the reader why we win: “The accident in which plaintiff was hurt occurred on June 1, 2008. The two-year statute of limitations therefore expired on June 1, 2010. Plaintiff did not file his complaint, however, until August 15, 2011. This lawsuit is time-barred.”

At trial, it’s the same routine: We do not simply assert in an opening statement or closing argument: “My client should win.” (Nor do we beg: “Please, please. My client should win.”) Instead, we present the facts, and we let the jury conclude from the facts that our client should win. Show; don’t tell. It’s more persuasive.

What’s the equivalent for demonstrating legal expertise? What should law firms write (and say) on résumés and in responses to RFPs to show, not tell, their competence? And, as in-house counsel, what questions should we ask to investigate whether a firm is blowing hot air (which is what “telling” permits) or may actually be competent (which is what “showing” may suggest)?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Showing, Not Telling, That You’re Competent”

Reema N. Bajaj

Next week, Reema Bajaj, the comely Illinois attorney who has been accused of prostitution, will celebrate her 26th birthday. (You can look up her date of birth on the DeKalb County criminal docket.)

But how happy will that birthday be? There’s a cloud looming over this lovely lawyer….

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I genuinely dislike Jose Baez.

Jeff Ashton, former Florida prosecutor in the Casey Anthony case, commenting in his new book, Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony (affiliate link), on how he really feels about her lead attorney, Jose Baez.

(More of Ashton’s less-than-complimentary commentary on Baez, after the jump.)

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When a tipster sent us an e-mail with the subject, “Court awards $700,000+ in sanctions for destruction of FB page,” I thought it sounded like it might be interesting. Because hey, that’s a lot of money.

I didn’t realize it would also be one of the most depressing legal news stories I’ve read since this tragic murder-suicide.

The three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar sanction award was levied against the widower of a woman killed in a car accident and the widower’s lawyer. The ruling was an abrupt table-turn for Isaiah Lester, who had previously won a $10 million wrongful death suit against the driver whose truck overturned and killed his wife.

Keep reading for the depressing details….

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Dr. Conrad Murray

With hundreds gathered outside of a courthouse in California (with a stunning lack of Michael Jackson impersonators), we can finally answer this lingering question.

Who’s bad? Dr. Conrad Murray.

Dr. Murray, the King of Pop’s doctor, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

What kind of sentence is Dr. Murray looking at?

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It’s been a week of violence here at Above the Law. Between the murder-suicide guy and the judge who beat his disabled daughter, there’s been too much disturbing sadness.

Here at Above the Law, we prefer violence that is maybe, just a little, funny. For those who appreciate the lighter side of crime, we’ve got Joshua Monson. Here’s a guy who has stabbed his way out of his right to an attorney.

How do you lose this fundamental right to representation? Well, by stabbing all of your representation….

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Anwar al-Awlaki

Ed. note: In honor of Columbus Day (and Canadian Thanksgiving), we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back in full force tomorrow.

* If you are curious about that legal memo justifying the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, Charlie Savage describes its contents in this very interesting NYT piece. [New York Times]

* Ten years after the start of the anthrax attacks, some observers are asking whether Bruce Ivins, the Army microbiologist blamed for the attacks by the FBI, , was wrongly accused. [How Appealing]

Paul Bergrin

* Jury selection gets underway this week in the trial of notorious New Jersey lawyer Paul Bergrin (who’s being represented by a famous defense lawyer). [Newark Star-Ledger via WSJ Law Blog]

* Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor turned U.S. Senate candidate, is making “a proper case for liberalism,” according to E.J. Dionne Jr. [Washington Post]

* Andrew Cohen’s review of Justice John Paul Stevens’s new book, Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir (affiliate link). [The Atlantic]

* In case you missed it last week, here is Proskauer’s response to the discrimination lawsuit filed against it by its former CFO, Elly Rosenthal. [Am Law Daily]

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