I have previously stated that I fail to see the basis for criminal charges in the IRS scandal. Prior administrations have faced allegations of targeting opposing groups and such matters have been treated as abuses but not crimes. Yet, various news sites are reporting this morning that Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS division, will invoke the Fifth Amendment before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Her counsel asked the Committee to withdraw the demand for her testimony in light of her intention to refuse to testify on the grounds that it may incriminate her.
Archive for the 'Lawyering' Category
Tags: DSM-5, insanity, mental health, mental illness
Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), guest blogger
The relationship between mental health and the legal system is a turbulent one at best. One major problem is they speak two different languages. For example, insanity is a legal term found nowhere in any psychiatric or psychological diagnostic manual.
There are several key words used commonly by both professions, but which have quite different meanings. The words “validity” and “reliability” are part of the vocabulary of science. To a scientist, the word validity means that a test measures what it claims to measure. When a test is intended to measure depression or anxiety, the user can assume it measures depression and anxiety.
Reliability refers to the repeatability of a test or measurement. If we give the same test to the same subject several times, all the scores will fall within the standard error of measurement 95% of the time.
When an attorney uses the word validity, it means, Binding; possessing legal force or strength; legally sufficient.
The legal interpretation of the word reliability suggests the subject matter is trustworthy, and that one can rely on it. However, when a scientist says something is reliable, it means whatever is being tested will get the same results with every retest, within the Standard Error of Measurement.
An examination of the literature of both professions reminds us of the quip attributed to George Bernard Shaw, “[We] are two peoples divided by a common language.”
When I was in graduate school, a well-known attorney gave an invited lecture to the student body. The speaker made several sweeping generalizations about the mentally ill; all of them displaying a stunning ignorance of facts. Then he turned his venom on those in the mental health professions, referring to mental health professionals scornfully as, “Soul doctors.” I would like to say people like him are rare, but they are not. I have known judges who, quite literally, did not believe in mental illness. We had one of those in our area who, mercifully, retired a few years ago. People like that remind me of those misogynistic knuckle-draggers who don’t believe there is such a thing as rape.
Now, back to the stormy relationship between the legal system and mental illness.
Peerless: Oklahoma Man Repeatedly Shows Up Late For Jury Duty . . . And Then Misses Hearing On Contempt Of CourtPublished 1, May 17, 2013 Bizarre , Courts , Criminal law , Lawyering 9 Comments
Rickey Christopher, 23, obviously does not like jury duty. Many people feel the same but he is fast making jury duty into the worst chapter of his life. Christopher was previously dismissed from jury duty for repeatedly showing up late. Then when he was ordered to appear for possible contempt of court, stemming from his jury duty, he failed to appear. There is now a warrant out for his arrest from Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott. It is a good thing that such charges are generally handled without a jury. It would be hard to find 12 peers of Christopher to appear on time to try the case.
Convicted Philadelphia abortion doctor has reached an agreement with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty: he has waived his right to appeal in exchange for a sentence of life without parole. I have no problem with the conviction of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, who performed late abortions in violation of state law under the most gruesome and horrific conditions. However, the use of the threat of the death penalty to waive appeal is a serious concern for civil libertarians.
I recently published a column on how Barack Obama has publicly assumed many of the powers that were once cited as the basis for the investigation and attempted impeachment of Richard Nixon. One of those areas was the Obama Administration’s crackdown on journalists. This week Attorney General Eric Holder appears to have yet again added to this ignoble record. It appears that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press. This disclosure follows another recent disclosure that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted conservative groups associated with the Tea Party. Yet, once again, most Democrats remain silent in a type of cult of personality where principle is discarded in favor of loyalty to the President.
Oregon Man Acquitted After Arrest For Stripping Before TSA . . . TSA Responds By Bringing Its Own ChargePublished 1, May 13, 2013 Bizarre , Criminal law , Free Speech , Lawyering , Media , Politics , Society 68 Comments
I have previously written about how the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) set out to create a crime never approved by Congress: the crime of making a joke in an airport about security issues. The TSA has long appeared to chafe at the notion of an agency dependent on Congress or the public for its authority. That appears the message being sent to John E. Brennan. You may recall Brennan from a story last year when he stripped in the Portland International Airport in protest of increasing invasive TSA security measures. He was cleared by a judge who found his stripping was a form of protest. However, the TSA was clearly miffed by decision of the judge, so Brennan was pulled into the administrative abyss by TSA with an agency charge. It appears that, if the law will not punish a citizen, TSA will.
DC Attorney General Nathan Testifies In World Bank Case And Denies Any Wrongdoing By Staff Or Need For InvestigationPublished 1, May 9, 2013 Criminal law , Lawyering , Media , Politics 16 Comments
As reported this morning in various newspapers and sites, the World Bank case (Chang) ended its evidentiary hearings before Special Master John M. Facciola, United States Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, yesterday with the testimony of District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan. Like his predecessor, ex-AG Peter Nickles, Nathan was called by the court to answer questions on the latest controversy over false statements in filings by his office and the failure to inform the court for 70 days that someone had attempted to delete evidence in the case. As co-lead counsel, I am limited in what I feel comfortable in saying about the case, but, given the inquiries on yesterday’s hearing I wanted to give the status in the case. Continue reading ‘DC Attorney General Nathan Testifies In World Bank Case And Denies Any Wrongdoing By Staff Or Need For Investigation’
Judge Belvin Perry appears to believe that, as Oscar Wilde advised, “the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” Perry decided to get his 15 minutes of fame by granting an interview on the Casey Anthony murder trial during which he attacked Anthony as “very manipulative.” I will remind you that Anthony was acquitted of the first-degree murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. There are also judicial ethical rules meant to bar such commentary by judges. The question is whether the state bar will take action after this grossly inappropriate interview. Perry is the chief judge on Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit.
Toys R Us has vowed to appeal a $20 million verdict in Massachusetts in favor of the family of Robin Aleo who was killed after slamming her head on a concrete pool deck when a 6-foot inflatable pool slide deflated. The major issue in the appeal is likely to be the argument that the slide did not comply with federal safety standards. Toys R Us claims the federal standards were written for solid slides and that inflatable slides did not exist when the regulations were written.
For some, the liquidation of Bernard Madoff’s firm is approaching the same levels of excess as the original crime. Irving Picard and his firm, Baker & Hostetler LLP, have just asked for an additional $50 million in fees and expenses for work between July 1 through Nov. 30. That would bring the total fees to . . . wait for it . . . $440 million.
A retired State Department employee has been indicted on two charges of first-degree murder in the latest case involving “castle doctrine” claims. There is little dispute that the two teens, Nicholas Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, broke in the Minnesota home of Byron Smith, 64, on Thanksgiving Day. Indeed, Brady may have broken into the home twice before. However, Smith’s shooting the unarmed teens and his actions captured on his own videotaping system led to the charges.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
Like most of us I have been watching the developments in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy throughout the week. Because I’m retired I probably logged more hours of viewing it on TV than most people who are younger. The initial bombings on Monday and their aftermath made me terribly sad at the loss of innocent lives and the maiming of so many, which will have future pain and consequences for the entire lives of the victims. As a father and grandfather how could I not feel painful tears for the death of an 8 year old and the lifelong pain of his parents? Yet beyond that sadness, I also felt a sense of anxiety in my chest as I listened to the hour upon hour of cable news coverage and the analysis of “terrorism experts” aligned with prognosticators telling us what it all means.
My anxiety did not stem from fear of terrorism, because that fear is irrational. This is so not because terrorism is a chimera, but because this type of terrorism is an all too real fact of the lives of humanity and indeed while we in America have suffered it, so has the rest of the world to an even greater degree. Great Britain, Spain, Iraq, Israel, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia etc. and so on and so forth. Life itself is always uncertain and unseen death lurks as a constant possibility for even the most protected of us. This has always been the human condition and the truth is that as the eons of human history have passed we are far safer now than our ancestors ever were. Yet it is also a human necessity to maintain the illusion of our own safety and indeed immortality. When horrors like the Boston Marathon bombings occur it tends to shake up our human illusions and engender fear. In the aftermath of these horrors though come the “explainers” whose attempts to soothe us only increase the fears. Following the “explainers” come those who would exploit the aroused fears for their personal gain or predilection. This happened in America from 9/11 and in its wake the false meme “This Changes Everything” was transformed into a reality of war, torture and the shredding of our Constitution. My anxiety was raised because as I watch this all unfold on TV I became fearful of how this new attention arousing horror would be used by those intent upon transforming this country into a Police State under the guise of saving it from terror. Continue reading ‘SWAT: Is America Coming Under Martial Law, Redux’
Moore Money: Lawyer Secures $130 Million Malpractice Award After Being Mocked By Opposing Counsel For Turning Down $8 Million SettlementPublished 1, April 19, 2013 Courts , Lawyering , Torts 15 Comments
Lawyer Thomas Moore has instantly become something of a legend in legal circles after he secured a $130 million verdict after being publicly ridiculed for turning down an $8 million settlement and losing the first trial and then facing a hung jury in the second trial of his medical malpractice case.
Park Avenue lawyer James R. Ray, 50, is the subject of a bizarre allegation that he pressured his female paralegal to be his “third wife.” Sarbrina Rafi, 27, make the allegation in a sexual harassment complaint in which she says that Ray boasts of multiple wives and referred to her ethnic background in making her ideal for his third spouse. As lead counsel in the Sister Wives case, I am not sure of how Park Avenue Polygamy works, but this (if true) sounds more like simple sexual harassment than a consensual plural relationship.
The Justice Department has long been accused of whitewashing misconduct of its own prosecutors and rarely acting on acts of prosecutorial misconduct, including common complaints of federal prosecutors withholding evidence and making misrepresentations to counsel or the courts. Even in high profile cases of misconduct, the Justice Department often drags out investigations only to later quietly end them without sanctions. One of the few sanctions meted out by the Justice Department came with attorneys responsible for the disastrous prosecution of former Senator Ted Stevens where their misconduct not only led to reversal of the case but the waste of millions of dollars. Now, however, an Administrative Law judge has overturned the suspensions of two federal prosecutors.
The Justice Department imposed the suspension after finding that the two prosecutors had engaged in reckless professional misconduct. Notably, this finding excused the prosecutors of intentional misconduct, a finding ridiculed by many in a case of clear prosecutorial abuse. The penalty came years after the misconduct and only involved a suspension without pay. Joseph Bottini was suspended for just 40 days and James Goeke was suspended for just 15 days. Even that is now dismissed under the ruling of Judge Benjamin Gutman. The reasoning gives an insight into why it is so difficult to get the Justice Department to mete out even mild punishment for prosecutorial misconduct.
This week, the State Bar Court of California took the rare step of not only finding Del Norte County Dist. Atty. Jon Michael Alexander guilty of misconduct but recommending disbarment to the California Supreme Court. Many of us have long complained that prosecutors are rarely punished for abuses like withholding evidence, even when such misconduct leads to costly reversals. This case sends a stronger message that we will not continue to tolerate prosecutors who routinely withhold evidence and violate ethical rules. I have personally seen all of these forms of misconduct by prosecutors in prior cases without any sanction or discipline resulting for those responsible. The Justice Department has a particular poor record in disciplining its attorneys even in the face of outrageous acts of misconduct from supporting torture to withholding evidence.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Watching the unfolding meltdown at Rutgers University this week you had to be struck by the full array of human weakness on display. Prompted in large measure by a disgruntled former employee (all truth seems to come out that way), the school was rocked when a compilation video surfaced showing three years of verbal, physical and mental abuse heaped on student athletes whose crime was winning a basketball scholarship and having the misfortune to play for Head Coach Mike Rice and Assistant Coach Jimmy “Baby Rice” Martelli.
The murders of two prosecutors in Kaufman County, Texas has caused heightened security measures to protect court staff and prosecutors. However, few expected those concerns to lead to the withdrawal of a federal prosecutor in Houston. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman has reportedly announced that he will withdraw from a case out of personal safety concerns. If true, it is a rare case for a federal prosecutor to refuse to litigate a case out of fear.
Detroit Judge Faces New Ethics Charges After Repeatedly Having Sex With Witness In Chambers And Texting About “Skank Hoes” In His CourtroomPublished 1, April 2, 2013 Bizarre , Courts , Lawyering , Society 18 Comments
You may recall Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree found our earlier discussion of his sending court personnel revealing pictures of himself. He was sanctioned for that little episode. McCree is back before a judicial ethics panel for allegedly making a false report of a felony, misrepresentations to the commission and engaging in improper bench conduct and demeanor. The latter charges involve having sex with a witness in his chambers, a relationship that he insisted did not affect his judgment in any way in the child-support case. He also allegedly impregnating Geniene La’Shay Mott (left with McCree). Despite his continual bizarre and improper conduct, McCree has remained on the bench in an indictment of the entire political and judicial system in Wayne County in Michigan.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
To some of us the transition from slave to citizenship by those Africans brought in chains to these shores for economic exploitation and horrific abuse ended with the “Emancipation Proclamation”. To others its’ end might have been marked by “Brown v. Board of Education”, or by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Those of somewhat more insightful bent may have said that the true emancipation occurred when Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. In my view, as much of an impact as all those milestones (and more such as Jackie Robinson i.e.) made to American consciousness, Black people in the United States clearly still lack the benefits and rewards of citizenship. I would go further and say that in the United States, at this time; most Black people still suffer the degradation and challenges brought about by both institutional and emotional racism. This is not to say that in our country other groups, such as Latino’s and Native Americans are free of oppressive prejudice, but to assert that given their history in this country Black people are slotted into the bottom of the economic and social ladder and are still struggling to obtain even those most minimal of rights that most Americans see as their birthright. Continue reading ‘The Myth of Black Freedom in the U.S.’
Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony G. “Tony” Spencer of Caroline County seems to view “paralegal” to mean “extralegal.” The Virginia State Bar disciplines Spencer this week with a public reprimand after sending a paralegal undercover to spy on an attorney to discredit a statement he made in court.
Lindsey Lohan appears to be practicing method acting for the role of the Butcher in Henry VI who proclaimed “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Lohan was captured by TMZ muttering to her lawyer to shut up and badgering him while he tried to defend the serial celebrity defendant. She punctuated her court commentary with “Oh my god, I’m going to kill you.”
This is not the advertising that Thomas Lewis Edwards was looking for in placing the ad for his firm. Edwards, a DUI lawyer, had his recent mug shot posted next to his law firm advertisement. You guessed it: he was arrested for DUI.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
In Maryland, a seven-year-old boy is suspended from his school under its “zero tolerance” policy because he nibbles a pastry into the shape of a handgun and says “Bang!” “Bang!” (Here). In California, a high school principal refuses to let an ambulance come onto a football filed to tend to a seriously injured player citing school board rules. (Here). A nurse at a home for the aged ignores the furtive pleas of a 911 dispatcher and refuses to perform CPR on a woman dying of cardiac arrest because she says its policy not to do it. (Here). She won’t even get someone else to do it.
It appears some things do not stay in Vegas. State District Judge Eugenio S. Mathis, 58, of Las Vegas, N.M., has resigned from the bench after being accused of sextexting his wife from the bench as well as other alleged misconduct. He has also agreed never to hold a judicial position again.
Georgia Public Defender, Alexia Dawn Davis, 31, has found herself facing a relatively rare charge for failing to take steps to return a diamond ring that she found in a parking lot. Davis is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property after she kept the ring for two weeks before taking it to the police in Augusta.
Minnesota Lawyer Suspended And Criminally Charged In Elaborate Alleged Swindle Involving Dead ClientPublished 1, February 27, 2013 Criminal law , Lawyering , Society 10 Comments
Minnesota lawyer Linda Ann Brost, 61, is under arrest this week after being suspended from practice and charged with theft by swindle, two counts of identity theft, and aggravated forgery after allegedly posing online and in letter as a deceased client to bilk his estate. A friend and beneficiary of the deceased raised the first alarm over Brost’s conduct.
This morning, our blog passed our 15,000,000 viewers. Since just a few weeks ago that we passed the 14,000,000 mark, it is obvious that the blog continues to grow at an impressive rate. We continue to rank in the top ten most viewed legal blogs in the world and I would like to think that our civility policy adds to the appeal of the blog for new viewers.
Brooklyn Prosecutor Given A Reduced Charge and Just 10 Days of Community Service After Strangling EMT WorkerPublished 1, February 15, 2013 Bizarre , Criminal law , Lawyering , Society 14 Comments
Many emergency medical workers were visibly upset after prosecutors reduced charges for Michael Jaccarino, a prosecutor in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, who attacked a female EMT in a drunken rage. Jaccarino was given just a 10 day community service sentence for his guilty plea to assaulting the ambulance worker while he was being taken to a hospital. Prosecutor Sherita Walton insisted that his drunkenness was a complete defense to intent since it was not clear if he actually intended to hurt the victim,Teresa Soler. EMT workers cried foul and suggested that prosecutors were being far more lenient on one of their own in the plea arrangement. We previously discussed the case.
Georgetown graduate Soma Sengupta may have been undone by sheer vanity. Sengupta had secured a position practicing in London based on a series of false documents and claims of her professional and educational history. However, it was her claim to be eight years younger than she is that caught the eye of a female clerk. The clerk raised the alarm over the misrepresentation and soon discovered the application to practice in England was riddled with false documents, including a letter of recommendation signed by Professor Robert Drinan a year after his death.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Author’s note: This is the sixth installment in a series about the child sexual abuse scandal at The Pennsylvania State University that helped bring down iconic football coach Joe Paterno and three top officials at the premier public college in Pennsylvania.
The Paterno family has released their long unawaited report critiquing the Freeh report entitled appropriately, CRITIQUE OF THE FREEH REPORT: THE RUSH TO INJUSTICE REGARDING JOE PATERNO. Commissioned by the family through the mega-law firm of King & Spalding, the report on”The Freeh Report” (sometimes called the Special Investigative Counsel’s (SIC) report) predictably castigates Former FBI Director Louie Freeh for using “Rank speculation. Innuendo. [and] Subjective opinions.” to form the basis of his conclusion that Papa Bear Paterno knew quite a bit more about Jerry Sandusky’s sexual proclivities than he let on and actively participated in a cover up of monumental proportions. In contrast, Joe Paterno is pictured as a fine man undone by an unfair, inaccurate report that read more like ”an indictment” cooked up with the ”unchecked power of a prosecutor, and [that] delivered unsupported but headline grabbing theories as fact.”
The wake from the scandal has toppled one university president, the athletic director, and an athletic department that rode football like a bucking horse. The key points made by the Paterno family lawyers are that:
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Bill Maher’s caustic but hilarious shtick may have landed him $5 million dollars worth of trouble. Appearing on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show, the comic best known for his HBO series, Real Time With Bill Maher, laughingly “offered” a cool 5 extra-large to charity if perpetually hair-challenged, right-wing real estate mogul, Donald Trump, publicly coughed up his birth certificate. Saying he was reasonably sure that Trump was the “spawn of his mother having sex with orangutan,” Maher asked to see the document then pledged to pay five charities of The Donald’s choosing. Trump, who is no stranger to “birther” strategies, had famously offered to pay the exact sum to charity if President Obama produced his college records and passport application.
This is a problem that you don’t encounter everyday in court. Matthew Brunelli, 23, is being prosecuted for aggravated-assault for allegedly punching John “Big Red” Huttick so hard in the left eye during a bar fight in August 2011 that the eye had to be surgically removed. Big Red was on the stand tearfully recounting the fight when his glass eye popped out and he caught it in his hand in front of jurors. Common Pleas Judge Robert P. Coleman granted a defense motion for a new trial given the expected prejudice caused by the scene against Brunelli.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly appears to be pushing the limits of judicial notice this week. Kennelly found a defendant guilty after dressing up like a nun to see if her theory held water about determining the race of a bank robber in such an outfit.
Texas Judge Under Investigation For Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct That Led To Innocent Man Being Sent To Jail 25 Years AgoPublished 1, February 6, 2013 Courts , Criminal law , Lawyering , Society 33 Comments
District judge Ken Anderson of Williamson County, Texas is now formally under investigation for his alleged role in a gross injustice as a prosecutor. It is an all-too-rare case where a former prosecutor is actually called to account for an injustice. In this case, an innocent man, Michael Morton (shown here), now 58, was wrongly convicted in 1987 for the murder of his wife. Prosecutors failed to turn over key evidence showing that his son clearly stated that it was not his father. Instead, they took a tragic murder of a mother and magnified it by incarcerating the grieving father. Anderson was later selected as “Prosecutor of the Year.” We previously discussed the case.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
I don’t usually hold with simplified solutions to certain problems we all face but one comes to mind based on an article I read just now. A reasonable person should vote against any, I mean ANY, politician who has done, or is willing to do anything positive towards continuing the practice of privatizing the prison system on any level of government. From a standpoint of our Constitution I believe that the concept violates it, in spirit, if not in fact. From a fiscal point of view I believe that there is no cost effectiveness in privatizing a prison system. From an ethical position I believe that punishment by our criminal justice system is a government function and can not be given to private contractors without abuses coming. Finally, from a humane standpoint I believe that running a prison on a for-profit basis will never live up to the standards of humane treatment even the worst of prisoners deserve. The institution of a private prison system is a call for corruption just as in the case of the two Pennsylvania Judges convicted of wrongly accepting bribes to sentence minors to a private prison run for minors. This was the infamous “Kids for Cash” case which resulted in prison for these venal, loathsome jurists. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal I believe that cases and corruption such as this are the inevitable result of prison privatization and I believe that we are going to see more and more of it today.
The article which appears in today’s Huffington Post is titled: “Lake Erie Correctional Institution, Ohio Private Prison, Faces Concerns About “Unacceptable” Conditions”. The issues discussed in this brief article highlight all that I think is wrong about maintaining a privatized prison system and about the abuses that spring naturally from the concept. The article even touches on why the initial cost benefit put forth by private companies and by the politicians they convince to back their idea, is unreal and actually leads to greater expense on borne by the government and its citizens. Continue reading ‘Privatized Prisons a Bad Idea Gets Worse’
Vladimir Putin has worked hard to maintain his carefully constructed image of a macho authoritarian figure, including sending away the members of Pussy Riot for speaking out against him and his alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church. However, he continues to distinguish himself among budding dictators. For example, anyone can prosecute whistle-blowing lawyers. China continually does it. Iran does it. However, Russia is prosecuting a whistle-blowing lawyer after he died. Now that is a tough guy.
Who said law was boring? In the trial of shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem in Tampa, an attorney has alleged that he was set up by the opposing law firm in a DUI arrest in the midst of the high-profile trial. The story has everything: an obnoxious defendant, a castrated pig, an attractive young female legal assistant, a missing briefcase filled with trial papers, and a double set-up plot. It is a DUI version of Anatomy of a Murder except the James Stewart never finishes the trial because he is found in a car inebriated with Lee Remick.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
One of the main concerns we Americans should have is about the state of our criminal justice system. How a society deals with the issue of criminality is one of the ways that we all can judge its freedom from oppression. This country has been selling our “democracy” to the world for 8 decades now as an example of how a modern nation should operate. Continue reading ‘Carmen Ortiz: Prosecution for Political Ego?’
Lowe Blow: Minnesota Lawyer Suspended After Having Affair With Client And Then Billing Her For Time Spent In Sexual EncountersPublished 1, January 22, 2013 Bizarre , Lawyering 24 Comments
Minnesota attorney Thomas P. Lowe, 58, has been suspended indefinitely after he was found not only to have had an affair with a client in a divorce case but then charged her for time they spent having sex.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
While I’m not a lawyer, I do write for this legal blog by the invitation of its creator Jonathan Turley. I first arrived on the scene here many years ago because since the age of ten I have had been interested in the nature of the broad spectrum of civil rights issues faced by this country. My interest became an obsession at the age of ten. My parents, who were quite liberal, allowed me to stay up way past my bedtime to watch Ed Murrow bravely attack Sen. Joseph McCarthy for his Communist Witch Hunt, by documenting the anti-constitutional excesses he used to destroy people’s lives and careers. Months later they kept me home from school to watch the Army/McCarthy Hearings which directly led to McCarthy’s downfall. On our twelve inch, black and white TV I watched this famous scene:
“On June 9, 1954, the 30th day of the Army–McCarthy hearings, McCarthy accused Fred Fisher, one of the junior attorneys at Welch’s law firm, of associating while in law school with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), a group which J. Edgar Hoover sought to have the U.S. Attorney General designate as a Communist front organization. Welch had privately discussed the matter with Fisher and the two agreed Fisher should withdraw from the hearings. Welch dismissed Fisher’s association with the NLG as a youthful indiscretion and attacked McCarthy for naming the young man before a nationwide television audience without prior warning or previous agreement to do so:
“Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us. Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is true he is still with Hale and Dorr. It is true that he will continue to be with Hale and Dorr. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think I am a gentle man but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me.”
When McCarthy tried to renew his attack, Welch interrupted him:
“Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
McCarthy tried to ask Welch another question about Fisher, and Welch cut him off:
“Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you. You have sat within six feet of me and could have asked me about Fred Fisher. You have seen fit to bring it out. And if there is a God in Heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further.”
The gallery erupted in applause.”
The drama of this distinguished lawyer chastising one of the most powerful men in the United States and silencing his cruelty was one of the defining moments of my life. It spurred a lifelong interest in the Constitution, the Law and the rights of the American People. Today, among other ills, I believe that our American Criminal Justice System is broken. Let me explain why I believe that. Continue reading ‘America’s Broken Criminal Justice System’
I am still in Salt Lake City, but we have had a great number of inquiries on yesterday’s hearing in the Sister Wives case. The two motions for summary judgment were argued with the state presenting its case through lead counsel Jerry Jenson and my presenting the case for the Brown family. Judge Clark Waddoups was obviously well-versed in the record and asked probing and fair questions to both sides. He has now taken the case under review for a final decision on the merits. I prefer not repeat or comment on statements in court from either myself or the judge. A few articles from the hearing are linked below.
Continue reading ‘Sister Wives Case Now Set For Final Ruling’
Carmen Ortiz, the US Attorney in Massachusetts, appears to be feeling some of the heat of the global anger over her prosecution of Aaron Swartz — an unrelenting prosecution that many (including the family) blame for his suicide. Ortiz is attempting to portray this abusive and unnecessary prosecution as prosecutors merely enforcing the law in compliance with their oath. They were, according to Ortiz, something akin to a legal version of Inspector Javert — committed to the enforcement of the federal law without discretion or judgment. Ortiz, who had remained silent, appears to have accepted that the case is presenting a serious problem for her and begins with a statement of sympathy that was entirely absent in the treatment of Swartz by her office and Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann who has been linked to another suicide of a defendant.
Taunt First, Trial Afterwards: Texas Judge Goes To Facebook To Disclose Ticketing Of Texas A&M Football StarPublished 1, January 18, 2013 Bizarre , Courts , Criminal law , Lawyering , Media 23 Comments
Municipal court judge Lee Johnson in Ennis, Texas, is the latest public official to rush to Facebook like a teenager on a tear. Johnson breathlessly reported that a “certain unnamed (very) recent Heisman Trophy winner” had been ticketed in his jurisdiction — an obvious reference to Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Johnson then wrote “I meant to say ‘allegedly’ speeding, my bad.” It was striking that Johnson thought the problem was not saying allegedly as opposed to his turning into some form of judicial paparazzi.
Chicago Settles Case for $22.5 Million After Releasing Bipolar Young Woman Into High Crime Area Where She Is Kidnapped And RapedPublished 1, January 16, 2013 Bizarre , Criminal law , Lawyering , Politics 42 Comments
We have another large settlement involving the Chicago Police Department this year. The Chicago police will pay $22.5 million to compensate a mentally-ill California woman who was released by police into a high-crime area where she was kidnapped and raped before she fell from the seventh floor of a public housing apartment building. Christina Eilman, 27, survived and will be given the largest settlement in Chicago’s history (the prior record was $18 million).
We previously discussed how the Justice Department hounded Aaron Swartz in a prosecution that sought 35 years in prison for his effort to make academic papers available to the public — even though MIT did not ask for such charges and later released the papers free of charge to the public. United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and the Obama Administration were long criticized for the prosecution but remained committed to destroying Swartz — a move that clearly delighted copyright hawks that have tremendous influence over the Administration as discussed earlier. Given the high-profile nature of the case and the months of criticism, it is clear that Main Justice in Washington had to be monitoring the case. Now it appears that Swartz’s line prosecutor, Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann was connected to a prior suicide of a defendant in a similar case. In 2008, Jonathan James killed himself while being pursued by Heymann in a criminal hacker case. Heymann then moved on to Swartz who also killed himself — complaining of the abusive treatment by the Justice Department. It is worth noting that the Justice Department could not come up with a single charge for anyone associated with the torture program, including the attorneys who facilitated the program. However, it wanted 35 years for a man accused of illegally gaining access to a university site and downloading academic papers to make available to the public for free. Those documents later released for free to the public but the Obama Administration still felt jail time was essential in the interests of justice.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
I guess it should not come as a surprise to me anymore. However, it still upsets me to see a military defense contractor trying to deflect blame for the damages its negligence caused to members of our military while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. In a news item that I didn’t notice until a few days after it broke, Huffington Post reported that the defense contractor, KBR, was found negligent and responsible for the poisoning of a dozen soldiers in Iraq in 2003. Over 800 members of both regular and reserve units were stationed at an Iraqi water treatment plant to secure it and they were exposed regularly to a dangerous carcinogen called Sodium Dichromate. The impact on the soldiers and Guardsmen’s negligent exposure to that “extreme carcinogen” was both devastating and deadly.
“Sodium dichromate is an orange-yellowish substance containing hexavalent chromium, an anti-corrosion chemical. To Lt. Col. James Gentry of the Indiana National Guard, who was stationed at the Qarmat Ali water treatment center in Iraq just after the 2003 U.S. invasion, it was “just different-colored sand.” In their first few months at the base, soldiers were told by KBR contractors running the facility the substance was no worse than a mild irritant. Gentry was one of approximately 830 service members, including active-duty soldiers and members of the National Guard and reserve units from Indiana, South Carolina, West Virginia and Oregon, assigned to secure the water treatment plant, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sodium dichromate is not a mild irritant. It is an extreme carcinogen. In November 2009, at age 52, Gentry died of cancer. The VA affirmed two months later that his death was service-related. In November, a jury found KBR, the military’s largest contractor, guilty of negligence in the poisoning of a dozen soldiers, and ordered the company to pay $85 million in damages. Jurors found KBR knew both of the presence and toxicity of the chemical. Other lawsuits against KBR are pending.” Huffington Post Continue reading ‘KBR, Iraq and the Cost to Vets and the US’
Attorney For Christian Anti-Gay Group Arrested For Having Sex With Teenage Girl and Child PornographyPublished 1, January 11, 2013 Bizarre , Criminal law , Lawyering , Religion 85 Comments
There is a deeply troubling case out of New Hampshire where attorney Lisa Biron has been convicted on all eight counts of transportation of a minor with intent to commit criminal sexual activity, sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography. The jury took less than two hours to convict in a case with strong evidence and highly disturbing facts. Biron has been identified as an attorney with an anti-Gay Christian group.
As reported in the media, we resumed hearings this week in the the World Bank case (Chang v. United States) with testimony from the top lawyer at the Metropolitan Police Department, Terry Ryan, as well as other officers.
Best wishes to everyone celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah. Continue reading ‘Merry Christmas!!!’