Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bad Lawyer is Traveling Tuesday and Wednesday this Week

The Bad Lawyer blawg will publish irregularly through the 4th of July holiday.   A brief summer hiatus to focus on professional obligations and the annual family picnic for the 4th. 

Please rejoin me for regulary posting July 5.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blagojevich Guilty on Multiple Counts of Wire Fraud

A Chicago jury has found former Governor Rod Blagojevich guilty on multiple counts of wire fraud, attempted bribery, and extortion in connection with trying to sell the former senate seat of President Barack Obama. 

Verdicts in the Rod Blagojevich Re-Trial Have Been Reached

A Chicago federal jury has informed the trial judge that it reached a verdict on 18 of 20 counts.  Expect the verdicts to be announced within the hour.

Violent Video Games for Kids, "That's OK"--SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States has struck California's ban on violent video games for persons under the age of 18 years.  7-2 vote, wasn't even close. 

Did Prosser Commit a Tort?

Did Justice David Prosser (pic, left) of the Wisconsin Supreme Court assault and choke his female colleague,  Justice Ann Walsh Bradley (pic, right)?  The Blawgosphere and some mainstream media are asking precisely this question this morning.   Prosser, a close political ally of controversial Governor, Scott Walker, survived a squeaker of a reelection bid in April.

 Justice Prosser previously acknowledged calling his ideological opposite Chief Justice  Shirley Abrahamson a "total bitch."  According to local reports Justice Prosser threatened to "totally destroy her;" and, later acknowledging that he may have "overreacted."

"Mom's Just a Little Buzzed"

Cierra Baughcum
WBSTV Channel 2 reports that a Clayton County, Georgia mother, Cierra Baughcum was nearly 5 times the legal limit for blood alcohol when she drove herself and her two young unrestrained children into a mobile home picnic area wiping out her Camaro and two picnic tables before coming to a stop at a chain link fence near a busy highway. 

Here's a link to Channel 2's story with video.  Are you terrified for these kids?  I am.

10,839 persons died from drunken driving in the US in 2009 according to government statistics.

Judge Sentencing Man on 11th DUI: You are a Highway Terrorist

Allegheny Judge David R. Cashman (small pic, right)  has been known to go over the top in his colloquies with defendants when handing down sentences or taking pleas.  But he seems to have nailed the situation recently while accepting a guilty plea from Richard Caporal on his 11th DUI.  This is the local news account from WPIX.com:

A Pittsburgh man pleaded guilty to his 1[5]th driving under the influence charge on Monday.
Channel 11's Alan Jennings was in court when a judge called him a "highway terrorist."
Judge David Cashman asked Richard Caporal, 58, why he was pleading guilty. Caporal responded, "Because I am, your honor."
Police records show that Caporal's 11th DUI charge came during a snowstorm in February 2010. Police reports stated that Caporal crashed into a parked car at 2 a.m. on Mount Joseph Street.
Neighbors said they heard the crash and watched as Caporal fell down repeatedly. One neighbor told police that, "It was like watching the Three Stooges." Police said Caporal's blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was 0.25 percent.
During the court hearing, the judge told Caporal that, "You are like a highway terrorist, driving drunk for decades. Well, you won't kill anyone on my watch."
Cashman reviewed Caporal's arrest record, noting that his driver's license has been suspended since 1977.Caporal is not eligible to get his license back until 2043, when he'll be 93 years old.
[H]e [received 15 years.]
Get him off the road.  He's a terrorist and a menace to other drivers, pedestrians, and other living things. Keep him off the road.  Caporal is a sick man.  Good job, Judge Cashman.

The First Innocent Man

The man in the mugshot is Randall Dale Adams, the subject of Eroll Morris' great documentary The Thin Blue Line.  Randall Dale Adams was one of the first Texas death row inmates to be exonerated.  Adams' exoneration for killing a police officer during a traffic stop predated the innocence project and the advent of DNA technology.  It was based on the astonishing efforts of a handful of people including Morris who questioned the illogical sequence of facts and proffered testimony in the case.  In exonerating Adams, Morris et al. demonstrated that highly motivated law enforcement will massage the evidence and testimony to put an innocent man on death row when the underlying crime involves a cop killing.  Big surprise, right?  The following is an excerpt from the Dallas Observer's obituary notice: 

"It's an Everyman's story. It's the story of someone slipping through the cracks -- if you like, a nonfiction Twilight Zone episode." That was filmmaker Errol Morris talking, in 1988, about his documentary The Thin Blue Line -- otherwise known as the film that proved Randall Dale Adams did not kill Dallas Police officer Robert Wood in 1976, despite his having been convicted of the crime and sentenced to die in '77.

Errol Morris did not come to Dallas in 1985 to spring Adams; he didn't even know who he was. The filmmaker had arrived instead to profile Dr. James Grigson, the local psychiatrist known as "Dr. Death," because his expert testimony on behalf of the District Attorney's Office all but guaranteed a death sentence. That's what Adams received, thanks to Grigson, who told the jury he'd kill again if ever released. But Randall told the director: "I'm innocent." Well, of course he was; who on Death Row isn't? But Morris looked into it: "History, properly considered, is a mystery," the director told me in '04 when speaking about The Thin Blue Line. And he discovered: Adams wasn't lying. This is what we wrote in 2007 in summation:
The documentary alleged that [Dallas County District Attorney Henry] Wade's first assistant, Doug Mulder, withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. Adams' attorney maintained Mulder manipulated key witnesses. Mulder denied that and said he'd simply "forgotten" to turn over a witness statement pointing to another man. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered Dallas County to grant a new trial, and then-District Attorney John Vance dropped the charges.
The real cop-killer, David Harris, told the Dallas Times Herald and District Court Judge Larry Baraka shortly after the film's release that he'd lied about Adams's involvement in the shooting. It took a while for D.A. John Vance to come around, but, finally, Adams was released in the spring of '89. Two years later Adams wrote a book about his case in 1991, but finally left Texas a few years later to lead "a quiet life in Columbus, Ohio." And that is where he died in October, at the age of 61. Few knew of his quiet farewell till an obit appeared in yesterday's paper, buried in the Metro section; the Associated Press picks up the tale today.

Adams wasn't the first whose wrongful conviction in Dallas County became national news; before Randall Dale Adams, Errol Morris and The Thin Blue Line, there was Lenell Jeter, Morley Safer and 60 Minutes. And God know he wouldn't be the last, as the parade of exonerees from the Dallas County courthouse reminds every few months. But as Adams's longtime attorney -- Randy Schaffer of Houston, who took the case pro bono in '82 -- tells the AP: "Within the context of the modern criminal justice system as we know it, he was the first innocent man, the first death row inmate exonerated based on innocence, even though in the court's opinion he was exonerated on the state's use of false testimony."
I vividly remember watching Morris' documentary and being awe struck by the horror story at the heart of Morris' film.  It forever changed my view of the death penalty.

For proof that innocent men die in Texas (and elsewhere) look no further than the Bad Lawyer posts on the Cameron Todd Willingham case.  Willingham was murdered by Texas.  Governor Rick Perry, an assessory to the official killing, will be haunted by the spectre of the execution of Willingham, an Op-Ed at the New York Times claimed over the weekend.  Good.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cy-Pres: Make 'em Pay What They Said They'd Pay

Dr. Edw. Michaelson at University Hospital Cleveland, Ohio

Cy-Pres is an equity doctrine (which I originally wrote about in November 2009) adopted and advanced by certain innovative plaintiffs' Class Action attorneys to benefit charities and make corporate defendants pay what they promised to pay when they settled claims for civil wrongs.

Yesterday, Dworken and Bernstein in Cleveland led by my long time friend, Patrick Perotti distributed millions from the settlement of a Wells Fargo and CITIFinancial Class Action cases. This is one of the good news stories and one of the really excellent examples attorneys "walking the walk" thereby accomplishing genuine social good.

Here's an excerpt from the Cleveland.com report:

Leaders of 13 local charities and seven more from throughout Ohio learned Thursday that they'll split more than $2 million in unclaimed funds from settlements in two class-action lawsuits.

"Oh my God, who knew?" exulted Agaytha Corbin, who received a check for $78,000 for her Dayton-based economic development group.

Corbin said that when she got the call inviting her to Thursday's reception for the announcement, she initially thought it was a prank.

The windfall came from settlements that the Painesville-based Dworken & Bernstein law firm secured earlier this year in cases involving Wells Fargo and CitiFinancial. Invoking a legal doctrine known as "cy pres," the law firm insisted that any funds unclaimed in the settlements be distributed to charities, rather than returned to the defendants.

[L]awyers do[nated . . . ] more than $2.1 million. Twelve local charities were selected by Dworken & Bernstein; the defendants' lawyers chose the other eight, including Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland.

Cindy Norwood, executive director of The Arc of Greater Cleveland, cried softly after learning on Wednesday from a reporter that her organization would be given nearly $75,000.

Only three weeks ago, she had been hit with the devastating news that her agency, which serves people with disabilities, had lost out on $72,000 it had sought in United Way grants.   "I've been working so hard to replace that money," Norwood said. "To hear we're going to get almost the exact amount -- oh my God, I can breathe."

The gift amounts to a big chunk of The Arc's $300,000 annual budget.

For the Antioch Community Development Corp., which provides family outreach, free meals and HIV awareness and education, the timing couldn't have been better: State funding for its marriage enrichment program runs out June 30.   "The funds (more than $52,000) will help us to continue," said the agency's executive director, Kelvin Berry.

Patrick Perotti
The money distributed Thursday came from two Dworken & Bernstein class-action suits claiming mortgage liens on homes of borrowers were not released after the loans were paid in full. The settlement with CitiFinancial provided four charities with about $74,000 each: Project Love, The Arc, E Prep School and Society for Rehabilitation.
The Wells Fargo settlement generated varying amounts for: Malachi House, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, University Hospitals, the Gathering Place, Cornerstone of Hope, Antioch Community Development, Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine and Gordon Square Arts District.

Dworken & Bernstein lawyers have been invoking the cy pres doctrine since 2002 and have won more than $22 million for charities. Nonprofit groups can apply for future distributions by going online to ohiolawyersgiveback.org   Lawyer Patrick Perotti, a vocal advocate for broader use of the doctrine, said that if more law firms specified that unclaimed funds should go to charity, as much as $60 million could be raised annually for Ohio nonprofits doing vital work.
Way too often this blawg has been about Bad Lawyers and Judges, Prosecutors, and crooks it is relief to bring you news of lawyers doing actual social good. 

I understand that Cy-Pres is controversial, but as Perotti, one of the founders of LawyersGiveBack.org, says, Cy-Pres guarantees that when a corporate defendant agrees to settle a lawsuit the unclaimed class funds are not refunded to the wrong doer.  The defendant pays what they agreed to pay and our communities and charities benefit.

When Judge Gaines Throws the Book at You, Watch Out!

Atlanta Municipal Judge Crystal Gaines (pic) apparently thinks she's a federal judge the way she hands out the time.  Municipal court judges are limited by Georgia charter to handing out no more than 6 month sentences in their courts.  This, um, limitation has not inhibited Judge Gaines who keeps her municipal court defendants on paper for YEARS.  Here's Christian Booth's story from the AJC.com:

If you've received a sentence of more than six months from an Atlanta Municipal Court judge, you might want to continue reading.

Attorney Jackie Patterson said his client, Anthony Brooks, was sentenced to 48 months probation last fall by Chief Municipal Court Judge Crystal Gaines on two counts of marijuana possession and two counts of driving with a suspended license. The sentence -- 12 months per count -- exceeds the limit mandated in the city's charter, said Patterson, adding his client is not the only one affected.

"This is happening all the time," said the attorney.

According to Section 4-102, Article 5, punishment for violations may not exceed a fine of $1,000 "or imprisonment for six months." Probation and imprisonment are interchangeable[.]
There is some debate according to the article about the jurisdiction of the court in sentencing, but 48 months, is probably way beyond even arguable power in the Atlanta city municipal court. 

Took a Village to Raise Him, Now He's a Lawyer

OK, here's my feel-good story for the month courtesy of the Fresno Bee.  Tyrone Wilson was raised by wolves, well almost--20 foster families and now he's a lawyer.  Here's an excerpt from a lovely story at the fb: 
Despite growing up in 20 foster homes and being warned that he would end up in prison one day, Tyrone Wilson, 28, of Tulare was sworn in last week as a member of the State Bar of California.
He's a lawyer now.

"He could have become bitter -- he became better," said Tulare County Superior Court Judge Valeriano Saucedo, who administered the oath as Wilson's former foster parents and his biological mother watched with pride.

"Miracles can happen," Wilson said, choking up. "I was told all my life I was a bad kid -- 'You're going to be dead or in prison.'"

Last month, he passed the bar exam after a few tries. He shouted for joy when he got the news, causing neighbors to wonder what was going on. 
Local sports fans might recognize Wilson's name.

Ten years ago, he was a football player at Tulare Western High School, played at Fresno City College for two years and then at the University of Buffalo in New York, where he graduated with a degree in African-American studies. He graduated from the Buffalo Law School in 2009.

It wasn't an easy road.

His mother was a drug addict. When he was 6, Child Protective Services removed him and his siblings from her home, and he bounced between foster homes. He engaged in petty crime and got kicked out of school for fighting.

But some foster parents fought for him, he said.

Cathy Frasquillo of Tulare was one. She yelled at a principal behind closed doors until he agreed to let Tyrone back in school, Wilson told the crowd in Saucedo's courtroom.

"Don't prove me wrong!" she sternly told Wilson. But she died, and he started backsliding. Then Jess Washington, an African-American pig farmer in Pixley, became his first real father figure, making him do chores like everyone else in the family.  "I'm so indebted to the guy," Wilson said. "He gave me life lessons. He was a good, strong Christian man who loved me." Washington died March 5.
Later, firefighter Carlton Jones and Tia Coleman of Tulare let Wilson live with them. [. . . ] Two years ago, Saucedo heard Wilson speak to a group of young people who were living in foster homes or caught up in the court system. Saucedo liked what he heard and ended up tutoring Wilson for the bar exam.

"It took a village to raise me," Wilson said[.]
Very cool. 

Now stay out of trouble!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fla Death Penalty is Unconstitutional, Fla Taxpayers--Tell Us Again Why Were Paying for this Case Anthony Carnival?

At least that's the question Florida taxpayers should be screaming at prosecutors in the wake of the 94-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez striking down Florida's death penalty.  Judge Martinez repeatedly cited a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision as a basis for his finding that Florida's law is fatally flawed.

So Florida prosecutors are proceeding with a media circus in nearby Orlando in a declared effort to kill that idiot-child, Casey Anthony.  At the cost of how many millions?  And does Florida have so much revenue that they can feed and house all the abused and neglected children?

Uh, Oh, Here Comes Judge Gummo

Judge Gummo (pic) is a Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania District judge who needs to stay away form the bottle. With a hat tip to the ABAJournal, here's the local media report from WHTM abc27:

" A district judge has pleaded guilty to harassing a woman at a Cumberland County hotel.

Douglas Gummo, 42, of Petersburg, was fined $438 for the April 1 incident at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel in East Pennsboro Township.

Police said Gummo was drunk and wearing only a bed sheet when he repeatedly tried to enter the room of a female guest, who is also a district judge.  Gummo is a district judge in Huntingdon County. He and the woman were at the hotel for a conference. Prosecutors dropped charges of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct in exchange for the guilty plea."
No one is immune from the chaos, confusion, and humiliation of alcoholism.  As we've seen again and again, alcohol is cunning, baffling, and powerful.  Good luck to Judge Gummo, he's young enough that he can make this ridiculous episode a powerful component in his personal story.  Of course only Judge Gummo can figure out for himself whether he needs help.  But here's a clue: drink = trouble?  You might want to take a long hard look at yourself.

I'm Not a Detail Guy....

The Legal Profession blawg features the report of a Bakersfield, California lawyer who received a stayed two year suspension for allowing his secretary to sign pleadings.  Despite warnings from opposing counsel who objected to his practice of allowing his secretary to sign his pleadings, and in another situation a presiding court who warned against this; and, a court order striking pleadings, altogether he continued this practice.    Dowd explained, "it's just easier for me to do that.  I don't like details.  I assign those details to her."

Here's a link to the disciplinary opinion in the case of Robert Earl Dowd. 
There are many times when from the road a lawyer dictates a letter, the secretary prepares the letter, signs and sends it.  This practice is common, and certainly not unethical or inappropriate.    But why is it too much for attorneys to read and sign their own pleadings?

Honestly, I see my own sloppiness in this story, which extend to far more than pleadings, but it is not unreasonable to require original attorney signatures on pleadings since under operative rules the attorney's signature is more than a mere formality.  An attorney's signature is a certification of the good faith basis for the claims made in the pleading.  Thus this is a non-delegatable duty. 

Hunter Hogan: Lawyer-Photographer, Problems

An Illinois Bar Complaint targets Hunter Hogan (pic) a Chicago-area attorney and photographer.  This is a link to Mr. Hogan's Linkedin page and profile.  This is a link to his photography page at "Model Mayhem."

Apparently Mr. Hogan has on one or two occasions confused his roles as attorney and artist.  Mr. Hogan appears to be attracted to the subject of the nubile young adolescent models he photographs.  This is the come on from his model mayhem page:

"I have been shooting for 13 years but until a couple of years ago, I focused on candid and travel photography [. . . ] I need models, however, for an artistic series about beauty. [ . . .] I am currently exploring how we view and define "beauty" in modern America. When we say a woman is "beautiful", for example, I don't think we are usually referring to her natural, physical beauty. I think we are usually commenting on her youth, sexuality, conforming to cultural norms, membership in a subculture, health, wealth, race, attitude, make-up, or something else. I'd like my art to help people see the difference between physical beauty and these other concepts.

Escort: Bring anyone; bring your mother.

Nudity: I do not shoot nude photos.

[Oh, and Hogan's list of "genres"]
Fit Modeling
Parts Modeling
Performance Artist
Spokesperson / Host
This guy needs some professional help to sort out his various impulses before it's too late. 

Do not screw the client.  Maintain your boundaries.  Don't try to rationalize inappropriate behavior with a client by calling it art.

Orlando Lawyer Buys 300 Oxycodone Pills

Reporter Jeff Weiner at the Orlando Sentinel reports on the arrest of Orlando bankruptcy attorney, Anthony "Tony" McDonald (mugshot).  Apparently undercover agents for the metropolitan bureau of investigation set up McDonald and sold him some 300 oxycodone pain killers.  Ooops. 

Get help, Mr. McDonald.  You may not think you need it.  You need it.

Peeping Tom Lawyer Pleads to Misdemeanor

SignonSanDiego.com is reporting that an Escondido attorney entered a guilty to a misdemeanor peeping tom charge relating to a secretly filming women at a tanning salon.  Nice.  This is the news account of the plea deal.

A North County defense attorney pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges stemming from his secret filming of women at an Escondido tanning salon last year.  As part of his probationary sentence, David Taylor Kaye will be required to attend sex offender treatment and stay away from tanning salons and cannot possess pornography, said Deputy District Attorney Annette Irving.

Kaye, 43, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts each of peeking through a private area and secretly filming another individual, the prosecutor said. Formal sentencing is set for Aug. 11.

Kaye was the subject of a 10-month investigation that started when he was seen secretly filming women in various stages of undress at a local tanning salon.

He was arrested on April 19, 2010, and charged with four misdemeanor counts of secretly filming a person, said Escondido police Lt. Craig Carter.  Last July, Escondido police served a search warrant at Kaye's house and business and recovered additional evidence on Kaye's computers and phones that led to additional charges, the lieutenant said.
At the link, Mr. Kaye's snazzy website.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Prosecutorial Religious Discrimination Defense Emerges

Fr. Klein
The Chicago Sun Times reports that the defense attorney for a Catholic priest accused Chicago's high profile United States attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of discrimination against his clerical client.  This is reporter Steve Warmbir's story:

The defense attorney for a Catholic priest accused of ferrying messages for imprisoned Chicago mob killer Frank Calabrese Sr. blasted U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald Wednesday for bringing the case against his client.

“Patrick Fitzgerald is a friend, but this is an unbelievable stretch, even for him,” said Thomas Durkin, the defense attorney for Father Eugene Klein.

“Now that we don’t have a governor to prosecute, we can waste time and money on this,” Durkin said. “Apparently he couldn’t find any rabbis or nuns.”

[Father] Klein, 63, was the chaplain at a high-security prison in Springfield, Mo., which houses such dangerous prisoners as Calabrese Sr., who killed 13 people in mob hits. Klein is accused of passing messages for the mobster and helping friends of Calabrese Sr. go look for a potentially valuable violin that the mobster said he had hidden in his Wisconsin vacation home.

“This is a preposterous case,” Durkin said. Klein pleaded not guilty Wednesday in his first court appearance, and Durkin vowed to fight the charges.

Durkin suggested the charges were an attempt to get the priest to cooperate against Calabrese Sr. When asked if Klein ever had possession of any violin, Durkin scoffed.  “No, please,” Durkin said.
Pretty strange defense.  Maybe the underlying prosecution of Father Klein is "a stretch," as Mr. Durkin claims; but religious discrimination?  I think not.

Blogger Partial Outage Notice

Issues with "Blogger" are effecting Bad Lawyer postings today.  Regularly scheduled (and appearing) posts will resume once problems are resolved.  Uh, who knows when.

Colorado Bar Authorities Enable Gun-Wielding Lawyer Clyde E. Hook, Again

Denver, Colorado lawyer, Clyde E. Hook, received his second stayed suspension from the practice of law according to the Legal Profession blawg after some pretty scary conduct. 

The new stayed suspension for a controlled substance, in isolation, makes some sense.  This is obviously a lawyer with some alcohol and substance abuse history which if successfully treated would not be of the type of thing to disqualify him as an attorney.  But when viewed on top of an earlier disciplinary history where Clyde got all shoot-y in public with his .357 magnum outside of a closed Colorado pub that refused him service because he was intoxicated, you have to begin to question the reasonableness of the Colorado bar authorities. 


Silencing the Name of God, Dims the Light of Freedom, Says Golfer/Congressman

Sabrina Eaton at the Plain Dealer has the story of the small town Ohio Congressman and pal of Visa and Mastercard, Jim Renacci, who is outraged over the USGA's relationship with the Godless NBC:

NBC's decision to edit the word "God" from the Pledge of Allegiance during last weekend's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament has teed off Wadsworth GOP Rep. Jim Renacci, who is asking the U.S. Golf Association to reconsider its relationship with the television network.

"When we silence the name of God, we dim the light of freedom that defines us," Renacci says in a letter he wrote today to association Executive Director Mike Davis. "That is why this matters."

"Although I was pleased to see that NBC has apologized for its role in this unfortunate incident, as an avid fan of the sport and as an American, I would ask that USGA consider reviewing its relationship with NBC in advance of any future events," his letter continues. "Should the USGA decide to partner with NBC again in the future, I would hope that the USGA remain mindful of its role in controlling creative content and work to ensure that an incident as troubling as this one is not repeated in the future."

Golf Digest magazine recently ranked Renacci as one of the best golfers among Washington, D.C. political operatives -- tied for 39th place. House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohioan who played golf with President Obama last weekend, was ranked 43rd.
Renacci is a multi-millionaire owner of nursing homes and Harley dealerships.  Here's a link to his Wikipedia profile.  At Renacci's own website he calls himself, "a proven job creator."  Just goes to show, don't diss the Creator.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

All Kinds of Women Get Battered

Reporter Maddie Hanna at the Concord Monitor reports this story of the local homicide prosecutor who herself became a victim of a battering boyfriend.  The story is important because it demonstrates that even someone fully-equipped with the tools of a hardened law enforcement prosecutor can be disabled by battering.

The following is an excerpt from Ms. Hanna's report:

A Laconia man accused of beating and threatening to kill a state homicide prosecutor who was his longtime girlfriend appeared in Concord District Court last week on charges stemming from his alleged efforts to blackmail the woman and her bosses.

Peter DiBiaso, 46, waived probable cause on the charges, which allege he tried to use improper influence when he called an investigator with the attorney general's office and threatened to discredit Assistant Attorney General Lucy Carrillo (pic) if the office didn't persuade the Alton police to drop its charges against him.

The Alton police [ . . . ] arrested DiBiaso in January and charged him with obstructing the report of a crime for allegedly preventing Carrillo from making a 911 call during a domestic dispute at her Alton home.  During that incident, DiBiaso, who is a convicted felon, choked Carrillo and repeatedly kicked her in the head, according to what Carrillo told the Belknap County Sheriff's Department.

But Carrillo didn't initially report those allegations to the police. Her lawyer, Chuck Douglas, said Carrillo had been reluctant to reveal what happened to her, despite having taken pictures of red marks and bruising on her neck and head.

"Unfortunately, even though Lucy is a prosecutor and a lawyer, she had all the classic symptoms of being an abused victim, which she was," Douglas said.

He said Carrillo, who had been in a relationship with DiBiaso for four years, feels that her case is "just an example that no matter who you are, even a professional woman, you can get into a situation where you don't know exactly what to do and when to do it." [ . . . ]
DiBiaso was on probation for burglary and felon in possession of a firearm convictions dating to 2009 when he was arrested Jan. 27 and charged with obstructing government administration and obstructing the report of crime or injury. According to the charges brought by the Alton police, DiBiaso grabbed a phone from Carrillo's hands as she tried to call 911.

A bail commissioner issued a temporary no-contact order between DiBiaso and Carrillo. But after his arraignment, he continued to send her harassing text messages, according to court documents, and she sought an emergency protective order from the Laconia family court.  DiBiaso wouldn't give the court his address, however, and prosecutors told a Laconia District Court judge they'd been unable to serve him with paperwork. After he didn't show up for a hearing, the Belknap County Sheriff's Department issued warrants for his arrest.

He was picked up in April in Florence, Ala., by the U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force and brought back to New Hampshire, where he is being held at the Belknap County jail.

Before getting arrested, however, DiBiaso called one of Carrillo's friends at the Merrimack County Attorney's Office, saying he had paid someone "$5,000 to rape, beat, kill and remove Lucy's body so no one would find her," according to court documents.  He then made a series of calls to the attorney general's office, threatening to discredit Carrillo and alleging she forged her diplomas, according to court documents.  DiBiaso also threatened to share explicit photographs of Carrillo, according to court documents.

Those threats led the Belknap County Sheriff's Department, which investigated DiBiaso's threats, to charge DiBiaso with three counts of attempted improper influence.

The sheriff's department also interviewed Carrillo, who reported that before she called 911 the night of Jan. 27, DiBiaso had grown angry after checking text messages stored on her phone, according to an affidavit filed by the sheriff's department.

DiBiaso then pushed Carrillo onto her bed, straddling her and choking her, according to the affidavitCarrillo said she thought she had passed out. When she regained consciousness, she saw she was next to DiBiaso, who started kicking her in the head, according to the affidavit.

The sheriff's department charged DiBiaso with two counts of second-degree assault. Those charges are also pending in Laconia District Court.

Carrillo, who is 46, has worked for the office since 2007 and prosecuted the Mont Vernon home invasion murder cases. She was placed on paid leave March 31, as the sheriff's department was conducting its investigation, said Anne Edwards, the chief of staff for the attorney general's office[.]
You can imagine what sort of obstacles a victim without Ms. CArillo's connections and skill-set face in getting help for this sort of crime.  It's sickening. 

Good luck to Ms. Carillo.

Georgia Activists Attack Licensure of Death Drug Doctor

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that activists in an attempt to save the life of Roy Blankenship who is scheduled to be killed Thursday, are attacking the licensure of a doctor who helped procure drugs for other states which were used in the so-called lethal cocktail to execute the condemned.  This is an excerpt from Rhonda Cook's article:

Four days before Georgia is to execute a Savannah man in the murder of a 78-year-old woman, a human rights group is asking the state to revoke the license of a doctor who sometimes participates in lethal injections.

Roy Blankenship is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday for the 1978 murder of Sarah Mims Bowen, who was beaten to death. She was found in the bedroom in her house just a block away from where Blankenship lived. Police followed bloody footprints to Blankenship's house.

On Monday, the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a complaint with the Georgia Composite Medical Board alleging that Dr. Carlo Anthony Musso illegally helped Kentucky and Tennessee secure a scarce sedative used in a three-drug cocktail for executions, sodium thiopental. The only U.S.-based manufacturer of the sedative announced in January that it was no longer making the drug.

The group said in its filing that Musso, who owns CorrectHealth and Rainbow Medical Associates, secured some of the drug and then sold it to at least two other states even though he was not registered with the Georgia Board of Pharmacy or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to ship sodium thiopental across state lines.

“Dr. Musso violated a host of state and federal criminal laws,” the Southern Center for Human Rights wrote.

Musso, who could not be reached Monday, has denied selling drugs to Kentucky or Tennessee.

The filing says Musso secured the drug from a company in London at the same time Georgia went to the same source: Dream Pharma, which operated out of the back of a driving school. The DEA subsequently seized the drugs that the Georgia Department of Corrections had bought from Dream Pharma because the department was not registered to buy the sedative from the manufacturer or to ship it to the United States.

At the same time that the Southern Center for Human Rights was trying to block Musso or any doctors associated with his business from participating in any executions, Blankenship’s lawyer filed an appeal in Fulton Superior Court. Judge Wendy Shoob has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday.

Blankenship could be the first inmate in Georgia executed with a new three-drug combination that swapped sodium thiopental for pentobarbital.
Like that?  Dream Pharma.  Wow, the euphemisms used in the Death Penalty game are astounding.  The Bad Lawyer tries to be a euphemism-free zone as it relates to official killing of citizens.

The Juror's Got A Crush On You, Mr. Prosecutor

not the juror in question
I think we've been here, before, but let's revisit the story of the juror who has a crush on a prosecutor and who got a wee bit flirtatious. 
The New Hampshire Court of Appeals doesn't see a problem with this vis-a-vis the now convicted defendant who thinks, he should have declared a mistrial.  This is the report from the TimesUnion.com.  This is an excerpt from reporter Robert Galvins's story: 

If you were on trial for manslaughter, would you be OK with a juror who had a crush on one of the prosecutors?

Well, the state's highest court has no issue with it whatsoever.

The Court of Appeals said as much last week in a ruling that upheld the 2008 manslaughter conviction of Alicia Lewie of Glens Falls who was found guilty of recklessly causing the death of her 8-month-old son in 2007.   The 15th page of the 19-page decision noted that Lewie's attorney, Matthew Hug, argued the trial judge erred by not removing a female juror who had sent an "odd and inappropriate" note during deliberations.

"The note mentioned, among other things, the breakup of the juror's marriage and her view that the male lawyer who sat in the second chair at the prosecution table was a 'cutie,'" the ruling explained. "The juror asked, perhaps jokingly, to be given that lawyer's telephone number when the trial was over."

Any bias there?

Not according to the Court of Appeals.

"We think the trial judge handled this problem quite skillfully," stated the decision written by Associate Judge Robert Smith. "After disclosing the note to counsel and discussing it with them, he interviewed the juror in counsel's presence; explained to her gently that the note was inappropriate; and obtained her assurance that nothing, including her favorable impression of a prosecutor, would prevent her from being fair to both sides."

[The Court's opinion] continued, "Nothing in the interview, or in the note itself, suggests that the juror was biased."

Lewie's appeal argued the juror's actions demonstrated she had an eccentric personality.

"Eccentrics are not barred from serving on juries," the decision stated.

The ruling explained jurors can be discharged only if they are "grossly unqualified" or engage in "misconduct of a substantial nature."  In this case, the decision continued, "This juror was not grossly unqualified and engaged in no substantial misconduct. There was no reason for the trial judge either to discharge her or to make further inquiry."

The decision raises the question of what, pray tell, is substantial misconduct by a juror?  In Albany, acting Supreme Court Justice Dan Lamont regularly tells jurors that if a prosecutor or defense attorney should sneeze, they should forego natural inclinations and avoid saying "God bless you."

The reason Lamont always gives? It simply "doesn't look good."

At the state's highest court, calling a prosecutor a "cutie" evidently looks good enough.
Got that?  Now go to jail and stop complaining.

Mouthpiece Hall of Infamy: Gloria Allred

She's always there!  Gloria Allred's firm website is at this link.

At the elbow of every publicity seeking hooker, mistress, wife, gal pal, porn star, and aggrieved female"celebrity" wanna be in the news.  Allred's most recent tout was the ex-porn star (can you really ever be an ex-porn...and what passes for "star"?), Ginger Lee (left) who received tweets from Congressman Anthony Weiner, but moments before that she was on the Governator's mistress beat

Allred reached as close to a moment of zen in the Weiner circus with her press conference performance reading Weiner tweets for all the sensational impact she could achieve.  Check the YouTube video:  Attorney Gloria Allred and Ginger Lee video from the New York Post, a tabloid, of course.

The Post video is pretty funny, a bit of the pot calling the kettle black and all that. 

The thing is, Gloria Allred, she of the garish-colored business suits, was once alot more that a celeb wanna-be wingman and fierce exploiter of tabloid culture and money.  At one time Allred stood for the rights of women, a scholarly advocate against pornography,...Allred willing reduced herself to the caricature of a banshee at the elbow of the porno performer talking about Anthony Weiner's "package." 

The thing is I had a bit of exposure to this sort of stage managing via Jeff Anderson and SNAP media events.  Don't get me wrong, Jeff and the folks at Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) achieved a needed and brilliant narrative necessary to break through the wide denial about clergy sex abuse in our major faiths that in the 1990s dominated judicial, law enforcement, the media, and community thinking.  As I've said in many different ways, who wanted to think that our Father Joe up at St. Agnes was a pervert?  It took brilliant public relations led by Anderson and the SNAP with client victims to achieve something of a level playing field.  But I confess, I was never terribly good at this, because I see it as more than a little phony.  At least with Anderson et al., there was a worthy purpose to the staged lawyer-victim hugs.

Allred reduces this sort of art direction to banal absurdity as Allred, feigned outraged, stands next to some young woman who formerly fucked on film for a living spouting about the outrages of Anthony Weiner's embarassing social networking inflicted on her.

And Allred makes millions from this routine.  Is this a great profession, or what?

Monday, June 20, 2011

California Taxpayers Pay $308 Million for Each Inmate They Put to Death, What a Great Expenditure of Limited Resources

That's right folks, the LA Times reports that California ponies up nearly $308 million dollars for each inmate on death row that they get to kill.  Isn't that utterly brilliant? 

Here's an excerpt from the article by LA Times reporter Carol J. Williams (with credit to HuffPost for the tip:)

Taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since it was reinstated in 1978, or about $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out since then, according to a comprehensive analysis of the death penalty's costs.

The examination of state, federal and local expenditures for capital cases, conducted over three years by a senior federal judge and a law professor, estimated that the additional costs of capital trials, enhanced security on death row and legal representation for the condemned adds $184 million to the budget each year.

The study's authors, U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon and Loyola Law School professor Paula M. Mitchell, also forecast that the tab for maintaining the death penalty will climb to $9 billion by 2030, when San Quentin's death row will have swollen to well over 1,000.

In their research for "Executing the Will of the Voters: A Roadmap to Mend or End the California Legislature's Multi-Billion-Dollar Death Penalty Debacle," Alarcon and Mitchell obtained California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records that were unavailable to others who have sought to calculate a cost-benefit analysis of capital punishment.

Their report traces the legislative and initiative history of the death penalty in California, identifying costs imposed by the expansion of the types of crimes that can lead to a death sentence and the exhaustive appeals guaranteed condemned prisoners.

The authors outline three options for voters to end the current reality of spiraling costs and infrequent executions: fully preserve capital punishment with about $85 million more in funding for courts and lawyers each year; reduce the number of death penalty-eligible crimes for an annual savings of $55 million; or abolish capital punishment and save taxpayers about $1 billion every five or six years.

Alarcon, who prosecuted capital cases as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney in the 1950s and served as clemency secretary to Gov. Pat Brown, said in an interview that he believes the majority of California voters will want to retain some option for punishing the worst criminals with death. He isn't opposed to capital punishment, while Mitchell, his longtime law clerk, said she favors abolition. Both said they approached the analysis from an impartial academic perspective, aiming solely to educate voters about what they are spending on death row.

Alarcon four years ago issued an urgent appeal for overhaul of capital punishment in the state, noting that the average lag between conviction and execution was more than 17 years, twice the national figure. Now it is more than 25 years, with no executions since 2006 and none likely in the near future because of legal challenges to the state's lethal injection procedures.

The long wait for execution "reflects a wholesale failure to fund the efficient, effective capital punishment system that California voters were told they were choosing" in the battery of voter initiatives over the last three decades that have expanded the penalty to 39 special circumstances in murder, the report says.

Unless profound reforms are made by lawmakers who have failed to adopt previous recommendations for rescuing the system, Alarcon and Mitchell say, capital punishment will continue to exist mostly in theory while exacting an untenable cost.
The Bad Lawyer blawg has long ridiculed the capital punishment follies. Florida is currently conducting an expensive tax-payer funded media circus in an effort to put a young, lunatic woman to death while many other parental killers are sitting in Florida prisons doing life or a lot less.  In Cleveland families of the victims of serial killer Anthony Sowell have begged a prosecutor and judge to accept a guilty plea with the death penalty off the table to spare them the horror of living through a trial.  The official response, nope.

Our law enforcement and punishment priorities in this violent, crazy place are completely irrational.

Cincinnati Enquirer: What Chesley Stands to Lose

The Cincinnati Enquirer offers its view of what Stanley Chesley stands to lose.

I find this article extremely beside the point.  Whatever Chesley stands to lose, he's already lost it.  Money? Chesley has so much that it's superfluous whether he gives up millions as ordered by the Kentucky Bar authorities.  Reputation?  Already gone.  Influence? Now this is where the Enquirer seems to be casting its eye--Chesley having long been a Democratic player, an FOB (friend of Bill.)  President Clinton appointed Chesley's wife Susan Dlott to a U.S. District judge slot.  Chesley made former Ohio Treasurer,  Cincinnati-area prosecutor, and  Republican operative, Joe Deters, a law partner. But as we saw last week, that was no prophylactic to loss of Ohio's Class Action business.  So reporters Jim Hannah and Dan Horn at the Enquirer think Chesley stands to lose political clout.  Or maybe influence in Jewish or charitable circles.

A friend standing over my shoulder while I write this says Chesley should go to prison.  My friend, a noted Class action lawyer in his own right, says Chesley should lose his freedom.  Chesley participated in a criminal venture that stole millions from clients--amazingly the recommendation of the Kentucky Bar authorities is that Chesley should only disgorge a relatively small portion of the fees he and his conspirators claimed as a part of this heist.

What does Chesley stand to lose?  Who cares.  What did the legal and client community lose by Chesley's crime?  A champion, a hero, some one who symbolically stood for little guys against corporate culture of greed and negligence.

NC Lawyer Gary B. Kivett's Quite a Character

The guy in the picture holding the rattlesnake is North Carolina attorney Gary B. Kivett. 

He's also the respondent to a North Carolina Bar Complaint for getting all touchy, feely, and intercourse-y with a number of his female clients.  In other words a real snake in the grass.

A colorful blawg item by Mike Frisch at the Legal Profession reports that the NC bar authorities are a little tired of Kivett's inappropriate relations with his female clients and in one case, the wife of a client  One charge relates to sex Kivett had with a client on Grandfather Mountain. 

I've said it over and over again:  Do not have sex with the client.  The client comes to a lawyer because they seek independent professional help while the client is in a legally vulnerable position of some sort.  Sex with the clients so completely compromises everything important about the trust relationship comprising the lawyer-client contract. 

Attorney Michael S. Wade, You Got a Problem, Dude

Lousiville, Ky attorney Michael S. Wade is in a world of hurt for some pretty low brow shiat.  He's under arrest for something like the second time in a couple of days for walking into various local jails loaded down with H, and other stolen stuff.  Here's reporter Charlie White's story for the Courier-Journal:

A Louisville attorney arrested Wednesday while visiting his client at the Bullitt County Detention Center is facing additional charges of trafficking in heroin and prescription drugs and receiving stolen property.

Michael S. Wade, 31, of Middletown, remains in the jail on a $50,000 cash bond, which was increased from $5,000 when he was arraigned in Bullitt Circuit Court on the new charges Friday.

County Jailer Martha Weaver-Knox said jail officers found a syringe in the jail during a routine random search early Wednesday morning and began investigating how the needle got into the jail.
Information led them to Wade, who returned to the jail to visit a client just before noon Wednesday. Officers patted him down and found heroin, tobacco and rolling papers, Weaver-Knox said.
Kentucky State Police initially charged Wade with promoting contraband within the jail and possession of a controlled substance.

On Thursday, state police got a search warrant and began searching his vehicle in the jail parking lot, where they found heroin, syringes and prescription pills, state police said.

State police notified the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office, which got a second search warrant to recover jewelry, pocket watches, a Sentry safe, ammunition and other items from Wade’s vehicle. County police believe the items were stolen in Bullitt County or Okolona.
What is it with local news channel graphics?  Why can't they just run the mug?  Why do they surround it in this surreal graphic backgroung? 

So Michael Wade sounds like in addition to his small law practice, he was working the drug dealer, petty grifter biz in order to feed his habit.  You have no idea how much of this sort of thing goes on.  Seriously sad. 

More Deters' Sanctions

One of our Bad Lawyer Mouthpiece Hall of Infamy honorees, Eric Deters was in the news last week with the Cincinnati Enquirer reporting that a federal Judge is pissed, no worse than pissed.  He has indicated that Deters is about to be sanctioned (again) for misconduct relating to Deter's frivolous lawsuits versus the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court over Deters' pending disciplinary case. 

Here's a link to the article--notice another local lawyer, Larry Forgy is climbing out on a limb with some over the top out of court claims that are potentially sanctionable. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ten Commandments Prohibits Lezzy Kissing at Minnesota Twins Stadium

That invaluable legal resource Fark.com links to the the local story of the two women reprimanded by a security guard after being caught kissing at a Minnesota Twins game. 

Making this story notable was the colloquy between the women and the security guard nicely set forth in the CBSMinnesota.com website for local television news,WCCO-TV by Susie Jones (with recorded interviews at the link):

A Minnesota Twins security guard has been reprimanded for allegedly scolding a lesbian couple for kissing. According to Taylor Campione and Kelsi Culpepper, (pic) they were a little late to the Twins game at Target Field on May 27, 2011. Culpepper stopped to go to the restroom and gave Campione a little kiss.

Then, Culpepper said a security guard came up to her.

“I saw you kissing that girl, you can’t do that,” the guard said.

Campione told the guard, she could kiss whoever she wanted to, the guard allegedly replied, “Well, we don’t play grab a** here.”

Campione told Culpepper, who then confronted the guard and said, “I don’t understand what’s wrong with kissing my girlfriend.”

They said the guard replied, “Well here in the stadium, we adhere to the 10 Commandments.”
Apparently the security guard is still on duty, although he was reprimanded for sharing his interpretation of the prohibitions applicable under the 10 Commandments at Target Field.

Mississippi Supremes Order Suspension of Wacky Local Judge

In an 8-1 ruling Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a 30 day suspension and reprimand for a Stone County Superior Court Judge for judicial conduct that is fairly characterized as whacked!  According to a report at the Clarion-Ledger, Judge Theresa Brown Dearman presided over a criminal case involving her nephew, required other defendants to attend church as a condition of their bond, and discussed cases with parties outside the courtroom.

According to the report Judge Dearman agreed with the facts presented by the commission and agreed to the punishment. The Supreme Court said Judge Dearman's charged conduct involved nine cases over a period of more than three years and affected at least 22 parties and complainants.

A dissenting Justice said the accusations against Dearman "appeared vague."  Are you kidding me? 
Years ago I was trying a lawsuit involving a young adult woman who was sexually abused by her father.  This was a horrible trial, and my poor shattered client decided to settle the case for a nominal payment mid-trial.  The Judge, I'm sure she was well-intentioned--decided it was appropriate to drag all the parties into her chambers and give a biblical-grounded lecture. The judge then invited all of us to pray together.  I was stunned, too stunned to speak.  Thankfully, my partner Nancy had the presence of mind to thank the Judge but indicated that the suggestion was inappropriate.  The conference ended, abruptly. 

Chesley Loses Class Action Client: Ohio, In Wake of KY Bar Decision to Disbar

Chesley in his office
One of the curious things about the Stanley Chesley case was that the State of Ohio employed Chesley to represent it in a Class Action case arising out of the Fannie Mae mortgage meltdown.  Stories quoted Chesley on the subject all while the fen-phen scandal clearly implicated him in the historic rip off the of fen-phen class and cover-up that resulted in the long imprisonment of his co-counsel and disbarment proceeding against him and others.  In other words, Chesley continued to represent one of the largest states in the union in a major piece of litigation under both democratic and republican Ohio governments.  Chesley received the work under former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, a democrat, but he kept the work when former US Senator and Lt. Governor, Mike DeWine, a republican, took over the Attorney General's office during the last general election.  Perhaps the status quo remained under the republicans because Chesley et al. hired former republican operative, and treasurer Joe Deters?

This all changed, yesterday, when Mike DeWine finally brought the axe down on Chesley as it related to official Ohio representation.  Chesley who is facing permament loss of licensure is no longer representing the State of Ohio.  Here's a link to the Cincinnati Enquirer story.

Anissa Bluebaum Has Legal Writing Issues

Anissa Bluebaum law firm
 At the link you can look at Anissa Bluebaum's lovely website for the Anissa Bluebaum Blog and law firm in Ozark, Mo.  At this link you can look at Anissa Bluebaum's facebook page where she notes that she is inspired by Donald Trump among other notables.

Anissa doesn't list any literary (apart from the Donald, or) English major heroes, or teachers which may be reflected in her struggles with grammar and notably in her pleadings.  This is Kathryn Wolf's story for the Ozark News:

The same attorney who drew public criticism from a Greene County judge is now facing similar complaints from a local attorney.  Until Tuesday, Anissa Bluebaum represented Alison Peck, a former teacher who faces criminal charges for failing to register as a sex offender. Peck pleaded guilty in 2009 to five charges of statutory rape in three separate counties against a former student.

Bluebaum withdrew from the criminal cases Tuesday. According to online court documents, a public defender will be appointed to represent Peck in those cases.

Bluebaum remains the attorney in the civil case Peck filed in March against her former probation officer, Rebecca Martin.
Richard Crites, Martin's attorney, has responded to the complaint against Martin with an eight-page list of questions about both the accusations in the case and Bluebaum's abilities as an attorney.

"This petition is the worst example of pleading that the defendant's attorney has ever witnessed or read," Crites wrote in a recent motion.

Because of the fact that two people are named in the suit, Martin and her brother, Crites repeatedly asks who Bluebaum is referencing with the terms "defendant's" and "defendants."

"Defendant does not know whether plaintiff is just not familiar with the use of possessives or whether plaintiff was referring to merely one of the two defendants" the motion document said. "...is this merely the poor usage of the English language by plaintiff's attorney? We have no earthly idea which is the case."

Crites' motion asks that Bluebaum clarify the allegations in the civil petition, including where and when referenced incidents oc-curred. He said the case can't move forward until those questions are answered.

"Without answers to these questions and dividing this long-winded allegation into separate paragraphs, there is no way on God's earth that the defendant can reasonably be expected to answer this diatribe," he wrote.
Ms. Bluebaum is a young attorney flying solo.  She needs help in drafting and legal writing or she'll have to respond to these mean-spirited motions and replies.  She should bear in mind that when she files a lawsuit there better be a good faith basis for the filing or these grammatical glitches will be her undoing in front of an unsympathetic court with the power to impose sanctions. 

As some one who struggles with grammatical cogency, I empathetically urge her to get a copy editor, someone who will catch her worst tendencies as a legal writer. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Annals of Social Media Fails: Juror Sanctioned for Emailing Trial Details Causing Mistrial

This guy (pic) Daniel Matz emailed details of a trial he was sitting on, causing a mistrial. 

Now he's going to pay a $1,000 fine or go to jail for 30 days.  Seems fair.  This is from Thomas Zambito's story at the NY Daily News:

The email-happy Queens juror whose mid-trial musings forced a mistrial in a rape case was socked with a $1,000 fine Wednesday.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter levied the fine after juror Daniel Matz pleaded guilty to a criminal contempt charge for dashing off an email to a Bronx prosecutor friend with details from jury deliberations.

Matz, 45, will be locked up for 30 days if he doesn't pay. Buchter estimated he cost the state "tens of thousands of dollars" in lost time.

"There was a tremendous amount of damage done to a number of people," Buchter told Matz. "I think you learned your lesson and I'm going to hit you in the pocketbook because I can't countenance what you did."

Matz apologized to defendant Jose Fernandez as well as the alleged rape victim who will have to take the stand again when Fernandez goes on trial in September for raping the mother of six in 2009.
This social networking debacle occurred on day 3 deliberations.  Excellent.

Bountiful City Pays Man Repeatedly TASERED Pulled Over for Crooked License Plate

Maybe you recall this story, a Utah man was pulled over by the City of Bountiful, Utah police.  He got out of his car, unarmed, hands at his sides and implored the police officer to tell him why he was stopped.  The cops deployed the TASER on him,  mmmmmmmm . . . 8 or 9 or maybe 10 times. 
The City of Bountiful is paying,.  Hey, that means you, taxpayers.  Congratulations.

Here's a link to the local news account at ABC4.com.  At this link you can watch the police video of the confrontation without the commercials, etcetera.

Covering Up for Disgraced Judge in Knox County Tennessee

The Knoxville News Sentinel is going to court to get the sealed records on former Knox County Judge and pill head, Richard Baumgartner (pic) who when revealed to be a drug addict, quickly resigned and plead guilty to official misconduct.  Baumgartner received "diversion,"  avoided jail, and probably will have his record expunged.

Big problems erupted in Tennessee over whether the judge was impaired throughout various murder and other cases he presided over.

As opposed to say, Cuyahoga County, Ohio these Tennessee public officials know how to do cover up--someone has gone so far as to scrub files relating to issues concerning the Judge Baumgartners issues including the public and court files of other defendants impacted by the Judge's official misconduct.  Nice.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fmr. Mass Speaker Sal DiMasi, Guilty

Boston.com is reporting that former Massachusetts Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi is guilty of 7 counts of corruption including fraud and extortion.  A federal jury handed down the verdict on the second full day of deliberations. 

The Kentucky Bar Association Also Voted to Disbar Judge Joseph "Jay" Bamberger

Judge Bamberger
 Judge Joseph "Jay" Bamberger (pic) presided over the fen-phen settlements that resulted in the disbarment and long prison sentences meted out to various Kentucky lawyers; and, now seems to have cost legendary Mass Torts and Class Action Attorney Stanley Chesley, his law license and reputation.

Yesterday, the Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors in handing down their disbarment recommendation for Chesley also recommended that Bamberger also be permanently disbarred for his role in the fen-phen scandals.  This is the link to the NYK.com account of the proceeding and vote.

At this link you can read a profile of Bamberger.

Kentucky Bar Association Votes Disbarment for Stanley Chesley

The Kentucky Bar Association has voted to permanently disbar legendary Class Action and Mass Torts lawyer Stanley Chesley. 

At the link, the Cincinnati Enquirer article on the KY Bar Association Board of Governors vote following the daylrong hearing.

At this link you can read Chesley's firm bio.

Judging the Jurors Who Saw and Heard the Evicdence, Without Having and Heard the Evidence

Jurors in Oklahoma convicted a pharmacist in the murder of armed robbers. Jerome Jay Ersland was convicted of first degree murder despite a self defense in a wild shoot 'em up. Originally, he was viewed as a "hero" by locals. Now Oklahoma City neighbors of the jury members are angry and expressing outrage at the jury verdict. This is a link [Note: and earlier version of this post unsuccessfully attempted to embed the video of the raw interrogation of Mr. Ersland] to the Oklahoman story at NewsOK.com by Nolan Clay.  If you take the time to watch the video you might find yourself understanding why the jurors found the Pharmacist guilty of murder.

It's interesting that local men and women who sat through the trial, heard the evidence, and the testimony of Mr. Ersland felt compelled under the Oklahoma law to find the pharmacist guilty but are now vilified by their family and neighbors.

Maybe there are problems with the jury instructions in this case (not that I know one way or the other,) but these Oklahoma jurors were serious-minded folks doing the job required of them under the law.  Criticizing them without seeing or hearing the evidence is moronic.

Ann Coulter's Hate Speech re: Kent State, That's What You Do with Mobs

Ann Coulter is an attorney who makes a living with provocative speech that sometimes borders on HATE. 

In this clip from her pal, Sean Hannity's show Coulter crosses over into fiction and hate shooting her mouth off about the killings at Kent State.  As follower's of this blawg know, the Bad Lawyer has read deeply into the historical record about the official killings at Kent State in 1970, and this rght wing diatribe is ahistorical in nearly ever respect:

That's it, let's revise history to justify killing children.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Link to Phone Conversations Used to Convict Judge Terry of Corruption

At this link you can listen to the phone conversations re-played in Federal court which were used to convict Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Steven Terry. 

Details of the Jury's Verdict in Judge Terry Fed Corruption Trial

Former Judge, Convicted Felon Steven Terry
At Cleveland.com Jim McCarty has a detailed look at the former-Judge's conviction on 3 corruption counts and acquittal on two.

Corrupt Mississippi Judges and Former-Attorney who Bribed them Head Back to Prison

Attorney Paul Minor (left) Judges Whitfield and Teel
Friday I brought you the story of the former Mississippi Judges and the attorney who bribed them heading back to federal court for resentencing following reversal of that part of their convictions that related to the now-unconstitutional Honest Services law.  Former judges Teel, Whitfield and attorney Paul Minor are heading back to the federal prison following reductions in their sentences.  This is an excerpt from the Clarion-Ledger's reporter Jack Elliot's account:

Former Mississippi attorney Paul Minor saw his prison time cut by three years but failed to win his freedom Monday during resentencing in a judicial corruption scheme involving two ex-judges.

ex-attorney Paul Minor
All three were ordered back to federal lock-up.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate rejected the men's appeal to be sentenced to time already served in the case. But Minor and former Harrison County judges Wes Teel, 60, and John Whitfield, 48, all will serve less time than when originally sentenced in 2007. All are in prison now.

Minor was originally sentenced to 11 years. Wingate reduced it to eight years.

He and the two former judges had to be resentenced because a federal appeals court vacated their bribery convictions in 2009. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld other convictions, including honest services fraud against each of the men and racketeering against Minor.

Abbe Lowell and Hiram Eastland successfully argued the federal bribery argument in the 5th Circuit that resulted in Minor's resentencing.

Prosecutors said Minor, 65, would guarantee loans for the judges, then used cash and third parties to pay off the debts. Judges then ruled in his favor in civil cases. Minor has said the loans were meant to help friends in times of need and that he expected nothing in return.

Teel was sentenced to about four years in prison, a reduction of 19 months. Whitfield got about six years, a reduction of 22 months.

Teel and Whitfield already have served about 3 1/2 years each. Minor has served about four years and nine months, including time spent in treatment for alcohol abuse - rehabilitation ordered by Wingate.

[ . . . ] Earlier Monday, Minor told Wingate that he "deeply, deeply regretted" having let down his family, including his wife, Sylvia, who died in 2009.

Minor said his wife had told him to not get involved in politics, but he didn't listen.  "I am not the Paul Minor who was before you four years ago. I am a Paul Minor who is still a work in progress," he said. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Fulcher said after the re-sentencing that [U.S. District Judge] Wingate "made it clear that these convictions were serious offenses and the sentences were to reflect the seriousness" of them [. . . ] ingate said he was impressed by the contrition shown by the three.

"You have with your conduct earned a reduction" in the sentence, Wingate said.

Wingate said he also was concerned about the health of Teel and Whitfield. He said both men have been receiving medical treatment while incarcerated.

Teel had suffered a heart attack shortly after entering prison in December 2007 and had heart surgery in January 2008.

Whitfield suffers from Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation of the intestinal wall. There is no cure.  I am not the Paul Minor who was before you four years ago. I am a Paul Minor who is still a work in progress," he said.   [Judge W]ingate said he expected Minor to continue to get treatment for substance abuse for the remainder of his sentence and have random drug testing under the direction of prison officials.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Fulcher said after the re-sentencing that Wingate "made it clear that these convictions were serious offenses and the sentences were to reflect the seriousness" of them.

The government had initially requested maximum sentences for the three men. Wingate said he would not do that, resentencing all three to terms that were less than those suggested in federal sentencing guidelines.

Wingate said he was impressed by the contrition shown by the three.

"You have with your conduct earned a reduction" in the sentence, Wingate said.

Wingate said he also was concerned about the health of [former judge]Winfield. He [noted that] both men [receive] medical treatment [in the BOP.]

Teel had suffered a heart attack shortly after entering prison in December 2007 and had heart surgery in January 2008.  hitfield suffers from Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation of the intestinal wall. There is no cure.
This story should help in my continuing effort to disabuse you of the notion that life at the Club Fed is the high life.  It is often harsh, dangerous, and certainly objectively debilitating to older inmates' health.

Postscript: one of my commentators noted accurately that the "optical orange" uniforms are provided by the local jails when federal inmates are not actually in US Marshall custody, i.e. being housed local to US District Court.  In the case of Whitfield, Teel, and Minor the local county lockup. 

Optical orange is often used in-transit for the obvious reason that in the event of escape an inmate will (initially) be highly visible.  The stocking caps given to us at FCI, Morgantown over the winter were also optical orange while the uniforms are khaki.  But when I went to the HOLE/SHU, my uniforms (really all my property) were taken and I was given an oversize optical orange jumpsuit.