Vicious Infighting

golden retriever dog pet lawsuit estate litigation Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re not really big on pets. Taking care of them is a lot of work, and we can barely keep our houseplant alive. So stories like this one strike us as almost insane:

A man who had not written a will left a $2 million estate, but the most hotly contested item in court has been his golden retriever, Alex. The four-way dispute over the 13-year-old pet was so intense, an attorney was appointed to represent the dog’s interest.

A guardian ad litem causa canis, perhaps?

On Monday, the judge decided the man’s divorced parents should split custody, The Commercial Appeal reported.

“At first glance, the petition seems almost frivolous, but after speaking with all parties, it is evident that this is a highly emotional issue for all involved,” said Alex’s attorney, Paul Royal, in his report to the probate court.

You had it right the first time, Mr. Royal.
P.S. A former colleague who shares our aversion to pets once quipped, “There are at least ten good reasons not to get a dog. Reasons one through nine are fecal matter.”
Judge settles intense custody battle over dog [CNN]

Remember Judge Sam Sparks, of the Western District of Texas? He’s a colorful judge with a robust sense of humor, as well as a low tolerance for lawyer shenanigans and quarrels.

Back in 2004, Judge Sparks compared bickering lawyers in his court to kindergarteners. His saucy order made the email rounds, first in Texas, then around the country.

And now he offers up this poetic order, in rhymed couplets:

Keystone Media Hancock order 1 Above the Law blog.jpg

The rest of this judicial ditty, including the punchline, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Sam Sparks Does It Again”

Indiana Law Indiana University School of Law Bloomington Above the Law blog.JPGWe recently posted about a controversy at the Indiana University School of Law, in Bloomington. A law student at IU alleged that a fellow student punched her in the face and broke her nose.
Not surprisingly, the post unleashed an avalanche of reader responses. Some questioned the accuser’s account of events, while others defended her. You can review the comments, including some by the accuser, by clicking here. (We think this comment does a good job of summarizing the conflicting theories.)
In the interest of providing balanced coverage, since we previously posted the accuser’s side of the story, we now offer another take on the incident. Some of these observations surfaced in the comments to the earlier post; but we realize that many of you may not have read through all the comments, which were voluminous.
These points are paraphrased from an email we received:

1. The accused student didn’t “punch” the complainant. He playfully touched her face during a drinking game. But because she has an especially fragile bone structure, her nose was broken by this contact.

(We are reminded of the proverbial “eggshell plaintiff” from Torts class.)

2. The comments and quotes by the accused, which may sound callous if viewed in a vacuum, were his own way of refuting false accusations. He’s the kind of guy who would respond to such allegations by being inflammatory — to show how, in his view, the allegations are ridiculous and baseless.

3. The accused student is one of the more good-natured and intelligent students at this school. It would be a pity for something like this to possibly ruin his career.

We feel we have now given airtime to both sides. And we hear, both from sources at the school and from the accuser’s blog, that the drama is now dying down. But if you have thoughts on this incident, feel free to share them in the comments.
Update: We won’t stoke the fires further with yet another post about this controversy. But for the record, please note the accuser’s comments on this post (here and here), as well as this post on her own blog.
Earlier: Midwestern Law Students: Not So Nice After All?

Indiana Law Indiana University School of Law Bloomington Above the Law blog.JPGEarlier this month, we paid a visit to the Indiana University School of Law, in Bloomington. We gave a talk to a group of law students, then went out to lunch with some of them. We were impressed by how cool and friendly everyone was.
But IU Law may have a less pleasant side. Some allegations, from a tipster:

Male law student punches female law student in face, breaks nose in 2 places, student complains, university does nothing….

Or something along these lines, details to be fleshed out. Excitement at University of Indiana Bloomington School of Law.

It’s all detailed right here, on Salon.

More details on the punchee’s blog, including frightening comments from the puncher himself:

Stephen said…
I’m the one Liz is accusing of breaking her nose…. Come to my apartment and talk shit. Anyone. Bring friends. In fact, bring weapons.

Come one, come all.

Stephen said…
Yeah, bring it. Get some, bitches!

A fellow law student broke my nose and joked about it on Facebook [Salon]
Dizzy does it…

Earlier: Programming Note: Greetings from the Hoosier State

Mean Girls Harvard LLM Above the Law.jpgLast week we wrote a little bit about internecine warfare going on within the Harvard LLM community. It’s a silly and trivial story — which is, of course, ATL’s stock in trade. So we intend to keep following it.
Today we’re happy to bring you an update. This email went around over the weekend:

From: [xxxx]
Date: 3/24/2007 5:12:01 AM
To: [LLM community]

Dear Fellow LL.M.s,

We would like to bring to your attention, an untoward incidence that augurs badly for the general reputation of the LL.M class. We fear, someone on this forum (God forbid) might be trying to cause antagonism between the diverse members of our community. Following our International Party, the advertisement flyers of this most successful event, were, apparently for the sake of ridicule, sent to a contemptible website — the one for which Dean Kagan cautioned restraint.

Alas, the writer has confused his “contemptible website[s].” The site that was the subject of Dean Kagan’s recent message is the site discussed in this Washington Post article. That site is not ATL (even if, one could argue, there isn’t much of a difference at the end of the day).
More from our irate LLM, after the jump.

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Remember this flyer, for the recent “International Party” sponsored by LLM students at Harvard Law School?
LLM party flyer Harvard Law School.jpg
Some of you, in the comments to our post, made some disparaging remarks about the English-speaking abilities of Asian LLM students.
But as it turns out, this flyer wasn’t written by the Asians. And many of them found it highly offensive.
For those of you who are curious, we provide the backstory — including an earlier version of the party flyer — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Harvard LLM Community: More Vicious Than the Cafeteria in ‘Mean Girls’”

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco Eumi Choi Eumi Choi Above the Law.jpgOne of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys was Kevin Ryan, of the Northern District of California (San Francisco). As noted by the Legal Pad, his firing appears to be one of the less high-profile or controversial ones.
But it’s important to us, since it raises a question about our favorite federal prosecutor:


Eumi Choi served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney under Kevin Ryan. As noted here, a previous paean to her, Choi is “a tough, smart, no-nonsense prosecutrix.”
We’re not the only ones wondering about Choi’s fate. Again, from the Legal Pad:

What’s the deal with Eumi Choi, the No. 2 to ousted U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan?

We’re hearing that the first assistant U.S. attorney has been sent down to be a line prosecutor. Not surprising, given that a new U.S. attorney such as recently appointed interim Scott Schools usually shakes up the top, especially in an office where prosecutors have frequently complained about management.

But Choi didn’t have much to say today when asked whether her job description had changed. She said she’d talk with office spokesman Luke Macaulay about getting us an answer.

This post was from March 5, and we see no subsequent posts about Choi over at the Legal Pad. So does anyone know what Choi is up to these days?
Is it true that she has been demoted? If so, we condemn such a move. Why are people so afraid of strong leadership?
And what about Choi’s search for private sector employment — is it still ongoing? Back in January, The Recorder reported that Choi “has had her resume floating around Silicon Valley for weeks.”
If you have any information about Eumi Choi and what she’s up to these days, please email us. Thanks.
Shred of Truth to Demotion of Ryan’s Sidekick? [Legal Pad]
E-Mails Paint Picture of Ryan’s Firing [Legal Pad]
Direction of Apple Probe Clouded by Shakeups in U.S. Attorney’s Office [The Recorder]
Earlier: How Yummy Is Eumi?
What Part of “Fabulous” Do You Not Understand?

Remember the Michigan Supreme Court benchslappery that we wrote about earlier today? We left out the best part.
Justice Maura Corrigan argues that it would be embarrassing, petty, and just plain silly for a justice to explain each and every recusal decision. She employs a little “reductio ad absurdum” to make her point:
Maura Corrigan Justice Maura D Corrigan Daniel Corrigan Grano Above the Law Blog.JPG
Daniel Grano Daniel Corrigan Grano University of Michigan.jpgWOW. And you thought YOUR mom was embarrassing!
P.S. As for Daniel Corrigan Grano being “very handsome,” you don’t need to take Justice Corrigan’s word for it. As a city councilman, Daniel Grano is a public figure, and his picture is readily available on these internets.
We’ve posted it at right — what do you think? He’s not a bad-looking fellow, in our opinion. But maybe he could do something more interesting with his hair?
Earlier: Back to the Sandbox: The Michigan Supreme Court

sandbox Michigan Supreme Court Above the Law blog.jpgForget about the proverbial “Girls.” The justices of the Michigan Supreme Court have “Go[ne] Wild,” according to the Detroit News (via How Appealing).
It’s a long and tortured saga. The upshot is that Justice Elizabeth Weaver believes that when a Michigan Supreme Court justice recuses herself from a case, she is obligated to explain the reasons for her recusal. A number of Justice Weaver’s colleagues disagree — vociferously. And they have traded benchslaps over it.
You can read their dueling statements here (PDF). Some highlights (all emphases added):
– Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., asks Justice Weaver to give the recusal issue a rest: “It is well past time for Justice Weaver to end her siege and begin to again devote her energies to the work of this Court rather than the destruction of her colleagues and the reputation of this Court.
– Justice Maura D. Corrigan — who, as Jan Crawford Greenburg reveals in Supreme Conflict, was considered by the Bush Administration as a possible SCOTUS nominee (but withdrew from consideration) — cattily kicks off her opinion by quoting the lyrics to a Broadway show. She quotes Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics for “Comedy Tonight,” which she brings back near the end of her opinion, by imploring Justice Weaver to “cut the comedy.”
– Justice Corrigan addresses Justice Weaver by her first name (yeah, we’re LOVING it): “Betty, can’t we stop wasting the taxpayers’ money on this frolic and detour?… Whatever your goal, this low comedy of your making can only end in tragedy: the public’s loss of respect for this Court and for our state’s judicial branch.”
– And there’s more. In the final paragraph of her opinion, Justice Corrigan calls upon Justice Weaver, “my one-time friend and still colleague, to rejoin the fold of ordinary mortals with the other six of the people’s justice, doing the people’s important work.”
“One-time friend”? OUCH. It’s très playground, but deliciously so.
Justice Corrigan to Justice Weaver: “We are NOT BFFs. And gimme back my fruit roll-up, bitch!”
Mich. top judges go wild [Detroit News]
Feuding justices spar as they work [Detroit Free Press]
People v. Parsons (PDF) [Michigan Supreme Court]
[All links via How Appealing (hefty linkwrap).]
Earlier: Benchslapped: Michigan Supreme Court Justices — Why Can’t They All Just Get Along?

All About Eve 2 Linda Greenhouse Jan Crawford Greenburg Jan Greenburg Jan Greenberg Jan Crawford Greenberg Above the Law.JPGWe have previously compared the fierce competition between Supreme Court correspondents Linda Greenhouse, of the New York Times, and Jan Crawford Greenburg, of the Chicago Tribune, to the rivalry between Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) in All About Eve.
For decades, Linda Greenhouse has ruled the reportorial roost at the Supreme Court — just as Margo Channing reigned over the New York stage. But just as Channing came to be challenged by a young and attractive newcomer, Eve Harrington, Greenhouse now faces tough competition from Jan Crawford Greenburg.
Perhaps this comparison, much as we love it, must stop here. We don’t want to spoil All About Eve for those of you who haven’t seen it. But let’s just say that Margo doesn’t put up much of a fight when Eve moves into her turf.
Linda Greenhouse, in contrast, is NOT going gentle into that good night. She will NOT pass her tiara graciously to Jan Crawford Greenburg, like a Miss America ending her reign. Greenhouse has no intention of allowing Greenburg to ascend to the post of America’s Next Top Supreme Court Reporter — at least not without a (cat)fight.
How do we know this? Just read between the lines of this “Reporter’s Notebook” item by Greenhouse. It’s snarkily entitled “Alarmism in the Blogosphere” — “blogsophere” being synonymous with “unreliable and dubious rumor-mongering” — and in it, Linda G. goes out of her way to embarrass and even humiliate her younger colleague:

Jan Crawford Greenburg, an ABC News correspondent who covers the court, posted a startling item last week on her blog, Legalities. Under the heading “Faith and Frailty,” she wrote that the “real drama” of an argument concerning the Bush administration’s religion-based initiative came when the argument ended.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s delay in getting to her feet and leaving the bench, Ms. Greenburg wrote, seemed a sign of possible ill health and “made me think I’d better start pulling those possible retirement files together.”

The alarming item quickly made its way around the blogosphere, puzzling court insiders who know that Justice Ginsburg, 73, is in fine health and keeps to a schedule that would exhaust most people who are decades younger….

The explanation is, quite literally, pedestrian. According to her chambers, Justice Ginsburg had kicked off her shoes during the argument and could not find one of them.

OUCH. Jan Crawford Greenburg did some phenomenal reporting work for her fantastic new book on the Court, Supreme Conflict. But in a single breezy, casually tossed-off “Reporter’s Notebook” item, Greenhouse makes Greenburg look like a rank amateur.
We conduct a close reading of Greenhouse’s column, after the jump.

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