David Corazza, 47, was the very image of the international jet-setting lawyer with postings highlighting his Harvard education, offices in cities around the world, and even photos with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. The problem is that this Harvard-trained lawyer was neither a graduate of Harvard or a lawyer. Indeed, he does not even appear to be named Corazza.
We have long discussed our close alliance with Saudi Arabia despite that country’s denial of the most fundamental human rights for women, non-Muslims, journalists, and political dissidents. While the State Department continues to vaguely reference “reforms” in the Kingdom, the Saudi Sharia courts and religious police continue to generate shocking medieval cases where people are flogged or executed for exercising free thought or associations. The latest outrage is the death sentence given Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s contemporary art scene. He has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam, being an atheist (which he denies) and insulting Saudi Arabia. Many view his real offense as being his embarrassment of the infamous religious police (mutaween) in Abha after he posted a video of their lashing a man in public. As is often the case in the pseudo, “courts” of Saudi Arabia, he was denied counsel and any real opportunity to present a defense.
A Texas woman, Susan Cammack, has been fined $500 and sentenced to two years of probation for her role in serving bogus court orders on a judge and lawyer involved in a foreclosure case against her. Comic claims to be a representative of the sovereign nation of Texas was convicted of issuing fraudulent court papers ordering a judge and lawyer to appear before an “international common law court.” What is interesting about this case is that Cammack received a two year sentence of probation for serving what were clearly meaningless and ineffectual papers. She was little more menacing than someone speaking to herself on a subway platform. Yet, her punishment is roughly the same as former Ohio prosecutor Jason Phillabaum of Cincinnati who was given no jail time and had his law license suspended for just a year for filing a false indictment in an actual criminal case. As I said earlier, the treatment of Phillabaum was shockingly light in comparison to what non-lawyers face in less serious cases. It is not that Cammack’s sentence was excessive. The question is how we deal with the most serious forms of prosecutorial misconduct.
It looks like we already have an entry for the 2016 Spooky torts listing. Assistant Prosecutor Chris White clearly does not like spiders, even fake ones. That much was clear given his response to finding fake spiders scattered around the West Virginia office for Halloween. White pulled a gun and threatened to shoot the fake spiders, explaining that he is “deathly afraid of spiders.” It appears that his arachnophobia (fear of spiders) was not matched by a hoplophobia (fear of firearms).
A former prosecutor in Ohio, Jason Phillabaum of Cincinnati, has had his law license suspended for a year after pleading guilty to adding a charge to a criminal indictment and then signing the document. Frankly, I am astonished that the Ohio bar considers this misconduct as warranting only a year suspensions as opposed to disbarment. This constituted not only the creation of a false indictment and false filing but the denial of basic constitutional rights and protections in our system. It is hard to image a more serious form of prosecutorial misconduct and yet he will be practicing again in Ohio in a matter of 12 months?
Leslie and I are leaving New Orleans today (I will post a few pictures tomorrow) after a wonderful trip to the Crescent City. Much has changed since I lived here but thankfully the essence has remained the same. We were here to participate in the reunion of the clerks who served with Judge W. Eugene Davis of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Judge Davis is approaching his 40th year as a judge and has an intensely loyal clerkship alumni. Indeed, virtually every one of his roughly 100 clerks showed up from around the country to celebrate his service and thank him for mentoring us all as young lawyers. Given the reason for the trip, I wanted to share a couple of lawyer signs that I spotted walking around New Orleans. They left me wistful in thinking about my life had I stayed on the faculty at Tulane Law School or . . . even opened up a firm like this one next to a tattoo shop on Magazine Street (perhaps offering “Torts and Tats” as a package deal).
Alabama Judge Marvin Wiggins is under fire this week after he offered to trade blood donations for judicial fines or fees while threatening those without money or blood donation receipts with arrest. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed an ethics complaint The SPLC obtained audio tapes, including people complaining that they felt forced to give blood by Wiggins.