There is an interesting controversy out of Youngstown, Ohio where attorney Andrea Burton have been jailed for five days for contempt in refusing to take off her Black Lives Matter pin. Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich ruled that such pins are a distraction and inappropriate for the courtroom, but Burton refused to yield.
In a relatively rare move, Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Trista Hudson has been fired for her blatantly unethical conduct in the withholding of exculpatory evidence in the prosecution of Eric Knowles (left), 39, for child molestation. Recently, evidence was discovered that one of two purported victims made up at least part of the accusations in a child molestation case. Hudson also serves on the Valparaiso City Council.
A lawyer who specializes in wrongful death cases and car accidents has found himself at the center of such a case . . . as a criminal defendant. Scott A. Bailey, 44, allegedly crashed his Mustang into a woman’s SUV during a drag race. Kathleen “Kay” Koutroubis, 73, was fatally injured. The other man is Haven A. Sooter, 39, was driving a BMW who suffered a broken arm and a concussion in the crash.
Judges often have to deal with hard cases, including some who literally have nothing to lose in disrupting a courtroom. Most judges will have such defendants removed, but Floyd County Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham in Rome, Georgia appeared to be intent on trying to out crazy the craziest guy in the room. In this case, the guy was Denver Allen and he unleashed a tirade at Durham who proceeded to join him in trashing talking. This led ultimately to Judge Durham daring Allen to masturbate in his courtroom. It should also lead to Durham’s discipline and likely removal for conduct that violates the basic tenets of judicial ethics.
It has happened to us all. You quickly type an email and some auto program completes the address for the wrong person or you hit “reply all” by mistake. Indeed, most attorneys have had such misfires in case, but few have had to deal with the embarrassment of Defense attorney Bob Hinton in the high-profile case. Hinton sent an Associated Press reporter an email intended for the legal team that admits that his client former Quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is still abusing drugs and could not pass a simple urinalysis as part of any plea bargain. Since they are trying to secure such a deal, the email is devastating for any chance that Manziel had for such a deal. To make matters worse, Manziel’s own father called him a “druggie” and said that he hoped that his son would be sent to jail to save his life.
I have previously written about a large number of law firms on retainer to bring these actions and artists and companies that do little to limit them. The greatest problem is the success of this lobby in getting Congress and the Obama Administration to push through virtually any legislation that they demand — criminalizing violations, approving warrantless searches, and allowing for obscene awards. Every year it gets worse as companies claim ownership over common phrases and images — reinforced by these legal factory operations of bullying lawyers. We recently discussed the claim of Citigroup to ownership of “ThankYou.” Now in an all-too-rare ruling, The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld an $81,000 sanction against three lawyers — John Steele, Paul Hansmeier and the late Paul Duffy — for being little more than legal trolls in harassing and threatening people into giving them money for downloading pornography. These three lawyers operated “Prenda law” which was little more than a disgraceful shakedown operation.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit handed down a major tort ruling in throwing out the $1.8 million judgment awarded to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Ventura alleged that he was defamed in the late author Chris Kyle’s bestselling book “American Sniper.” The court cited various errors at trial, including a faulty instruction on the actual malice standard for defamation and the misuse of unjust enrichment as a basis for the damages. The trial showed clear and frankly surprising errors by both Ventura’s counsel and the trial judge.