White People

(A stock photo of a teen driver — not actually Ethan Couch.)

I’m sure that by now you’ve all heard the story about the wealthy white teenager who killed four people while drunk driving. As we mentioned in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs, 16-year-old Ethan Couch got off — sentenced to therapy — because the judge agreed that the kid was a victim of “affluenza”: his parents gave him everything he wanted, and he believed that being rich meant that he wouldn’t have to face consequences for his actions.

The kid’s not wrong; the fact that he’s not facing incarceration for killing four people kind of proves the point. A poor white kid would be in jail right now. A rich black kid would be in jail right now. A poor black kid would be picking out items for his last supper right now. Anybody who thinks that this kind of lenience would be given to anybody other than a wealthy white dauphin is wrong and stupid (and probably racist). The rich kid isn’t in jail because rich people don’t suffer the full force of consequences for their actions.

That said… the judge isn’t wrong either. When you have a jerk-off prick of a 16-year-old, as this kid appears to be, it’s probably not his fault. Not really. My outrage isn’t that Couch is getting off, it’s that so many other teens and young people are being incarcerated without this kind of compassion.

Not that there aren’t people who deserve jail time behind this. It’s just that those people are Couch’s parents….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense Of The Rich White Boy Who Killed Four People And Got Away With It”

Justice Ginsburg: a full-service wedding provider.

Ed. note: We’ll return to our normal publication schedule on Monday, December 2. We hope to see you at our holiday happy hour on Thursday, December 5 — for details and to RSVP (to this free event with an open bar), click here.

* Even in a post-nuclear world, Republicans can still block certain judicial nominees. [New York Times]

* A prominent Toronto lawyer has gone missing — and so, allegedly, has $3 million in client trust funds. [Toronto Star]

* Dewey see legal fees in the future for Stephen DiCarmine and Joel Sanders? Well, multimillion-dollar lawsuits won’t dismiss themselves. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.); Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Congratulations to Matthew Layton, the new managing partner of Clifford Chance. [The Lawyer]

* And congratulations to Ralph Pellecchio and Jim Wernz, who were married by none other than Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who even helped them write their vows. [Talking Points Memo]

Harry Potter: guilty!

* Sure, let’s have the whole “is now a good time to go to law school?” debate again. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Especially if you’re a minority, since white people are losing interest in law school. [Am Law Daily]

* Congress can’t even get its act together about real guns, so perhaps it’s no surprise that limits on fake guns are set to expire soon. [New York Times]

* Harry Potter was convicted of obstruction of justice. Just because you’re a wizard doesn’t mean you’re above the law. [Daily Utah Chronicle]

Target’s idea of a Mexican employee.

I just got back from visiting my family in Indiana. While I was out there, I was reminded that while “Naptown” is actually fairly diverse in terms of color, it’s shockingly devoid of religious diversity. There aren’t a lot of Jews in Indianapolis. When I lived in Indy (for 13 months and nine days… not that I was counting), it struck me that people would believe pretty much any Eric Cartman-level stereotype about Jewish people. They all wore pouches with gold coins around their necks? Why not! My classmates would believe almost anything I said about Jewish people — since I was from New York, which is apparently a Zionist capital city. (They’d also believe almost anything I said about living in New York, like “there are underground cites in the subway tunnels” and “radiation levels are higher” there.)

So, here’s a question: would it have been “offensive” if my high school had “Jewish sensitivity day,” and class was all about dispelling really stupid and offensive myths about Jewish people? “Here, class, is a Jewish-American. As we can clearly see, there are no hooves or horns.”

Now, I think the answer to my question is, “Yes! Clearly! It would have been horribly offensive.” But on the other hand, people can be really, really stupid about cultures they haven’t been exposed to.

This question is going to face a California court thanks to a discrimination lawsuit filed by three Hispanic employees at Target. The employees claim, and Target admits, to keeping a list of “minority tips” that’s crazy offensive. But I don’t know, depending on how dumb the white people were that worked at Target, maybe they needed this kind of remedial help?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit Claims Target’s Sensitivity Training Is Just As Racist As Target’s Regular Behavior”


If you want to see something really racist, check out what her lawyers are saying.

Look, I think the Paula Deen controversy is more theater than news. The only people who need the information that there are still white people in the South who are horribly racist are John Roberts and his band of conservatives. Deen is awful, but I don’t have a lot of spare outrage to waste on a television fry cook.

There is, however, a really interesting and novel legal argument being launched by Paula Deen and her attorneys. I think the argument is arguably just as racist as anything Deen actually said, but that doesn’t mean it’s legally incorrect. Deen’s lawyers are saying that white people, namely the white plaintiff suing Paula Deen, don’t have standing to claim a “hostile work environment” if all Deen did was run around saying awful things about non-whites.

And her lawyers are now using the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, as the basis for their objections…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Paula Deen’s New Argument Seems To Be That White People Are Immune To Racism”

It doesn't help that Rich Whitney kind of looks like a Rich Whitey.

Sometimes, typos matter — a lot. We’ve seen typos get law firms into all kinds of trouble. And now a typo might ruin the already slim gubernatorial chances of a Green Party candidate.

Running on the Green Party line, Rich Whitney wasn’t likely to become the next Governor of Illinois anyway. But an error at the Chicago Board of Elections will cause Whitney’s name to be misspelled as “Whitey” on some touch screen ballots this November. Of the 23 wards affected by this typo, half of them are in largely African-American districts. And the error cannot not be fixed in time for Election Day.

So yeah, black people in Chicago will be able to vote for “Rich Whitey” this fall.

You remember that scene in Die Hard With a Vengeance where Bruce Willis has to stand in the middle of Harlem while wearing an offensive sandwich board? Things are going to turn out marginally better for Rich Whitney, but clearly Whitney would have been better off changing his last name to “not the whiteman’s bitch.” Or even “Kill Whitey,” as Juggalo Law suggests…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Election Snafu Hurts ‘Whitey’”

* I’ll bite: I think a tanning tax is racist. It’s textbook disparate impact. African-Americans have been through enough; we shouldn’t be forced to look at pasty-faced white people all winter. [Concurring Opinions]

* DWI fines are so expensive drunk drivers can’t pay them, so a Texas state senator suggests repealing the law. The things that pass for logic down there are amazing. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Arizona Governor Jan Brewer finds a way to blame Mexico for everything. [Color Lines]

* Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the solution to police budget cuts is to make sure it’s easier for people to carry around concealed handguns. D’uh. When they’re not enough cops you absolutely need people walking around armed to the teeth. Don’t you know that safety smells like hot lead and fresh blood? [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Court orders joint custody … of a Lhasa Apso. I have a Lhasa Apso, and I’m pretty sure my wife only puts up with me so she can see the dog. [ABA Journal]

* This is a pretty interesting way of looking at the LeBron coverage. [Breaking Media]

Legal Eagle Wedding Watch NYT wedding announcements Above the Law.jpgEven in these dark days, as an anxious nation awaits the latest dispatch from the associate salary wars, the wedding machine grinds on. We salute the brave couples who choose to go ahead with their ceremonies in the face of all this uncertainty — after all, how crushing would it be to return from your honeymoon and find your employer on someone’s List of Shame!
Honorable mention this week goes to this couple. (The father of the bride, William Barr, was once Attorney General under George H.W. Bush.) Unfortunately, those two did not make the cut. Here are the lucky lovebirds who did:

1. Michele Molfetta and Carolyn Wolpert
2. Eliza Harrington and Minor Myers III
3. Jennifer Merzon and Christopher Evans

More on this week’s couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 5.13: Cincinnati Weds”

jet ski jetski Above the Law.jpgA quirky and fun story in the Saturday New York Times (which nobody reads except us) describes the legal crusade of one John Lagana. He’d like to ride his WaveRunner around the shores of East Hampton, but can’t, thanks to the wealthy beach town’s ban on water scooters.
So like any good American, Lagana is taking the matter to court. And he has an interesting historical argument:

The case is now pending in state appellate court, where a panel of judges must decide if an obscure 17th century charter known as the Dongan Patent does indeed protect a man’s right to buzz around the waterways on a machine its signers could hardly have imagined.

When King James II deeded the eastern tip of the South Fork — which now includes East Hampton, Amagansett and Montauk — to a group of settlers in 1686, the governor in chief of the province of New York, Thomas Dongan, drew up the patent, granting “freeholders and inhabitants” of the area the right to “enjoy without hindrance” recreational activities like “fishing, hawking, hunting and fowling.”

The legal power of such deeding documents, which exist throughout Long Island and in other early-settled places, has been upheld by courts including the United States Supreme Court.

Lagana buttresses this with constitutional contentions:

Among Mr. Lagana’s arguments is that a passage in the federal Constitution prohibiting the creation of “any law impairing the obligation of contracts,” and a provision in the original New York State Constitution protecting “grants of land made by the authority of the king,” gives Dongan power in perpetuity. “If you’re going to ignore the Dongan Patent, you might as well throw out the Constitution,” he said.

The tony town has several counterarguments. Their main point is that “the patent is too vague and out of date to govern a modern municipality.” But they also have historical contentions of their own:

[Gary] Weintraub, the town’s lawyer, pointed out that if East Hampton were to live by the centuries-old patent, it would have other obligations, including the annual tax to the king of “the Sum of one Lamb Yearly and fourty shillings, curant money.”

Assuming East Hampton was not in arrears at the time of the American Revolution, that would amount to 230 lambs and 9,200 shillings the town owes, payable to Queen Elizabeth.

Merry Christmas, Your Highness? Or baaa, humbug?
At Odds Over Right of Kings, and Jet Skis, on Long Island [New York Times]

No, definitely not. Due to their variegated hair and eye color, white people have the best claim to internal diversity in appearance.
But these two white people DO look alike:
Amanda Sylvester Kayce Schildauer Above the Law Legal Blog.JPG
As a result, this screw-up — while mortifying and GI-normous — is somewhat understandable:

“We are horribly sorry,” the cop said. The 17-year-old girl who was wrongly locked in jail for seven days might be feeling terribly lucky.

Amanda Sylvester might still be in jail, facing criminal charges that included aiding and abetting a robbery [of a Kwik Stop convenience store], were it not for an anonymous tip to a Crimestopper hotline….

A week later, the Crimestopper tip led to the arrest of Kayce Schildhauer, 19, of North Platte.

Pretty bad. But hey, it could be worse. Remember this story?
Innocent Girl Held A Week In North Platte Jail [North Platte Bulletin]
(Gavel Bang: Drudge Report (of course, ’cause Matt’s a sucker for s*** like this))

Ted Olson Lady Booth Above the Law.JPGHere at Above the Law, we offered up lavish coverage of the magnificent wedding of Ted Olson and Lady Booth. Given Olson’s status as a giant of the legal profession, a former Solicitor General and leading Supreme Court advocate, this coverage was fitting and proper.
But, alas, it was not complete — and it may have been inaccurate in certain respects, for which we apologize. These omissions and possible errors were brought to our attention by some helpful reader comments.
Here are the items we’d like to address. Please refer back to this post and this post for background, as needed.
1. We assumed that the gentleman who escorted the beautiful Lady Booth down the aisle was her father. It appears we were correct. According to this comment, by Wayne N. Perkey II, “that is our father (Wayne N. Perkey) walking her down the aisle. It was indeed a beautiful wedding, and a good time was had by all.”
2. We said we didn’t know the identity of “the Margaret Thatcher doppelganger in the floral print dress.” We were enlightened by this comment:

Although Mary Ellen Bork would not likely quarrel with an analogy in any aspect to the Iron Lady, the term Margaret Thacher “doppelganger”… is hardly ‘fair’ to the very lovely Mary Ellen, wife of the esteemed Judge — and unintended style-celebrant on these pages.

We thank this commenter for the information, also corroborated by an email we received: “The [woman in the floral print dress] is Mary Ellen Bork. She read two Shakespeare sonnets picked out by Ted and Lady, and then gave a prayer. She’s a former nun.”
(That observation, of course, begs another question: Did Mary Ellen Bork cast off her nun’s habit in order to be with Bob Bork? If so, it’s tremendously romantic. As the Mother Superior said to Maria in “The Sound of Music”: “Follow your heart! Even if that beard is a bit scratchy.”)
3. “Napa Casual.” This has generated controversy more heated than Bush v. Gore, Ted Olson’s most famous case. We originally wrote:

Despite the tremendous collective brainpower of these august guests, we hear that several of them were left scratching their impressive craniums by one wedding detail: the request on the wedding invite for “Napa Casual” attire.

These leading minds of the bench and bar can slice, dice, define and parse the most complex legal terms known to man. But throw two innocent little words at them — “Napa Casual” — and watch them panic.

There’s disagreement among the commenters about this detail (which we received from a source we regard as highly reliable). Some commenters say that the “Napa Casual” request was “a myth.” Others say that yes, there was such a request, but it was made with respect to the rehearsal dinner (not the wedding).
How can we settle this dispute between anonymous commenters? Like good lawyers, we’re going to issue a document request. We’d very much appreciate it if someone would send us a digital photograph or pdf scan of the Olson-Booth wedding invitation and/or the rehearsal dinner invitation. The only way to settle this disagreement is by recourse to ocular proof.
We’re still having email problems, so please contact us at our temporary address: abovethelawtips AT gmail DOT com. Thank you.
Earlier: Lady and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Wedding Photos That Rock
The Eyes of the Law: Ted Olson’s Star-Studded Nuptials

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