Top 5: ‘That’s why I went to law school’

As one of our website commenters noted this week, who hasn’t wanted to stick it to the man? Many people equate beating a traffic ticket with just that, and James Liskow’s story of finding a typo in a 5-year-old statute struck a chord with Daily Record readers, making it the most-read story this week by the paper’s legal affairs reporting team.

1. Speed camera ticket tossed over typo in Md. law – by Danny Jacobs
James Liskow beat his speed camera ticket literally by a letter in the law.

2. Md. disbars estate-planning lawyer over forgeries – by Danielle Ulman
The state’s top court has disbarred a Virginia lawyer also admitted to practice in Maryland after he allowed a woman to forge her terminally ill mother’s signature on estate documents.

3. Jolivet’s son convicted of theft, plans appeal – by Brendan Kearney
The son of Maryland Minority Contractors Association President Arnold M. Jolivet has been convicted of theft for charging more than $4,000 in car rental bills over several months to his state-issued credit card.

4. Top court sides with trial lawyer in separate cases decided on same day – by Danielle Ulman
Workdays don’t get much better than the one criminal lawyer Andrew V. Jezic had last Tuesday.

5. Judge acquits 3rd Baltimore officer of misconduct – Brendan Kearney
In his first trial as Baltimore City state’s attorney, Gregg L. Bernstein convinced the jury but not the judge.

Top 5: I’ll take ‘transformative’ for $30 million

Verdicts, settlements and a big-ticket donation dominated the legal news this week. Here are the most-read stories by members of The Daily Record’s legal affairs reporting team.

1. Lockheed’s loss was the Maryland State Law Library’s gain – by Steve Lash
Bernice G. Bernstein began her career before Maryland had a state law library — or an intermediate appellate court.

2. Walk-out earns Frederick lawyer 60-day suspension – by Barbara Grzincic
An attorney who walked out of district court after a judge refused to put his client’s case on the stet docket will be suspended from the practice of law for 60 days, the state’s highest court has held.

3. Baltimore can proceed with suit against Wells Fargo – by Brendan Kearney
It took more than three years and three major edits, but Baltimore’s mortgage discrimination lawsuit against banking giant Wells Fargo has finally survived a defense motion to dismiss the case.

4. Lawyer, child win $3M verdict against police – by Danielle Ulman
The jury found officers Patricia A. Poulos and Shon P. Barr violated the First and Fourth Amendment rights of William E. Wallace III and his daughter Georgiana Wallace, who was 3 years old at the time of the incident in December 2007.

5. UMd. School of Law receives $30 million donation – by Danny Jacobs
The $30 million buzzword floating around the University of Maryland School of Law on Monday was “transformative.” News of the W.P. Carey Foundation’s record gift made an immediate impact — the school has officially changed its name to the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

Top 5: ‘They thought they could act with impunity’

New Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein made his courtroom debut during a week packed with high-profile legal news. Here are the five most-read stories by The Daily Record’s legal affairs reporting team.

1. Nordstrom found negligent in 2005 knife attack – by Danny Jacobs
A Montgomery County jury has awarded nearly $1.6 million to two women who were stabbed while shopping at a Nordstrom almost six years ago.

2. Bernstein opens trial of Baltimore officers accused of kidnapping – by Danny Jacobs
Gregg Bernstein introduced himself to jurors Wednesday as the Baltimore City state’s attorney. Then he introduced the three police officers accused of kidnapping and abandoning two Baltimore teenagers, pointing to each one for emphasis.

3. Divorce, punishment and protest bills pass – by Steve Lash
The General Assembly ended its 2011 session last week having passed legislation pertaining to parting, punishment and protest.

4. U.S. ordered to reveal identities of Currie’s unindicted co-conspirators – by Steve Lash
Federal prosecutors must hand over the names of state Sen. Ulysses S. Currie’s unindicted co-conspirators to the defense team in his bribery case, a judge said Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

5. Opponents file new lawsuit against Superblock plan – by Danny Jacobs
Opponents of the proposed Superblock redevelopment have filed another lawsuit to stop the project, this time alleging approved demolition plans would violate a historic preservation agreement.

Supreme blunders

It’s a Web journalism truism that blog readers love lists, so this seems a good forum to present the five worst Supreme Court decisions ever.

Sister blog DC Dicta has the lowdown via a story by the Los Angeles Times chronicling a discussion among legal scholars at Pepperdine University.

It doesn’t appear these are in any sort of order of egregiousness, so give us your pick for the worst Supreme Court decision ever in the comments. Here’s the list, with details at DC Dicta:

1. Korematsu v. United States
2. Dred Scott v. Sandford
3. Plessy v. Ferguson
4. Buck v. Bell
5. Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins

Top 5: ‘We’re on the same page’

Multimillion-dollar lawsuits and verdicts dominated the list of the five most-read stories this week written by The Daily Record’s legal affairs team. There’s also an appearance by one of the paper’s regular law columnists.

1. Lawyers for Hopkins student hit by car file $10M suit – by Danny Jacobs
Nathan Krasnopoler has been in a coma since a Feb. 26 accident outside Baltimore’s Broadview apartments on University Parkway, where 83-year-old Jeanette Marie Walke lives. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Baltimore City Circuit Court, alleges that Walke cut off Krasnopoler as she attempted to make a right-hand turn onto the Broadview’s driveway.

2. Fired manager can sue hotel for hiring her supervisor – by Steve Lash
The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act does not bar a lawsuit by a woman who says her supervisor fired her for complaining that a co-worker grabbed her and kissed her, the state’s top court held.

3. Jury awards $11.5M in Pr. George’s shooting – by Danielle Ulman
The widow and son of Manuel de Jesus Espina were awarded the verdict Wednesday in Prince George’s County Circuit Court, after the jury found Cpl. Steven Jackson liable in the shooting.

4. UB Law’s Center on Applied Feminism goes global – by Joe Surkiewicz
While a wide abyss may separate the theoretical from the practical in some areas of the law, that’s not the case at the University of Baltimore’s Center on Applied Feminism, which keeps its feet firmly planted on the ground.

5. Court of Appeals takes over professionalism course – by Steve Lash
After nearly 20 years of delegating the design, operation and expense of the professionalism course for new lawyers to the Maryland State Bar Association, the state’s top court has decided to make a change.

Top 5: Snowmageddon and same-sex marriage

Bylines from Steve Lash bookend this week’s Top 5 most-read stories by The Daily Record’s legal affairs team. Dispatches from Danny Jacobs — including a post for this blog — hold down the other three slots.

Lash’s account Friday of the House of Delegates sending the same-sex marriage bill back to committee made the list within an hour of its posting, so by the end of the day it will likely climb up these rankings.

1. Widow accepts $1.5 million settlement in wrongful-death lawsuit – by Steve Lash
The widow and child of a machinist killed while operating a boring machine in Baltimore have settled for $1.5 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit they filed against the manufacturer. David M. Desrosiers’ widow and daughter had sued Giddings & Lewis Machine Tools LLC for $20 million in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

2. City sued over snow removal bill – by Danny Jacobs
A Glen Burnie snow removal company filed a $5.9 million lawsuit against Baltimore City on Wednesday, seeking to be paid for its work during last year’s historic snowstorms.

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Very superstitious

Turns out powerful New York City trial attorneys can be as superstitious as baseball players.

That’s the takeaway from this New York Times article juxtaposing their reasoned, analytical grounding with a penchant for eating the same meal every day, not getting a haircut during a trial and using the same door to enter and exit the Manhattan courthouse.

“It’s part of the human condition that no matter how many years of education you’ve had, you still have faith in certain totems,” Arthur R. Miller, a law professor at New York University, tells the Times. “I won’t go to court without a three-piece suit and without a red tie, and without a red pocket square.”

One lawyer who’s represented organized crime figures says he gives $20 to any homeless person who asks when he’s working a trial.

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Top 5: The long reach of the Madoff Ponzi scheme

Gregg L. Bernstein, the new Baltimore City State’s Attorney, has trumpeted big plans for changes to that office — and Daily Record readers are very interested, judging by this week’s most-read story reported by our legal affairs team.

Brendan Kearney’s byline ran on the Bernstein story and three of this week’s Top 5, but not the one referenced in the title of this blog post.

Danielle Ulman had the latest on a lawsuit tied to the massive Ponzi scheme perpetrated by disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff.

Here are this week’s five most-read law stories:

1. New prosecutor seeks less fractured offices – by Brendan Kearney
Just a month into his term as Baltimore City State’s Attorney, Gregg L. Bernstein already wants out — out of his current office space, that is.

2. Maryland same-sex marriage bill debated – by Steve Lash
Supporters of permitting same-sex marriage in Maryland clashed with opponents Tuesday in a battle in which neither side was willing to discuss intermediate options such as civil unions.

3. $2M lawsuit claims injury from defective surgical forceps – by Brendan Kearney
An Anne Arundel County woman has filed a $2 million federal lawsuit against a medical device manufacturer, claiming that part of the forceps used during her hysterectomy broke off and remained in her pelvis for more than a year.

4. Suit over Madoff losses revived – by Danielle Ulman
A Maryland appellate court has partially revived a lawsuit brought by an investment manager and his firm for $10 million in losses related to the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. The Court of Special Appeals’ decision Wednesday will allow several counts against investment vehicle manager Jack Kay to move forward, reversing a lower court’s motion to dismiss.

5. False arrest lawsuit settle on eve of trial – by Brendan Kearney
An East Baltimore man who spent nearly a month in jail on assault and robbery charges, even though the alleged victim said he was not involved in the December 2009 incident, has settled his suit against the arresting officers for $75,000.

The art of the deal, or why sharks like to eat things

In the days since the reveal of the AOL/Huffington Post union, much analysis and speculation has swirled around the $315 million price HuffPo is fetching, and whether AOL overpaid.

Or vastly overpaid.

A good multiple, after all, is in the eye of the beholder, and since HuffPo is privately held most of the speculation has been exactly that, speculation lacking in solid numbers.

Still, as a journalist trying to peer in from the outside I’ve always been intrigued by the Texas Hold ‘Em aspect to valuations eventually agreed upon in deals like this. It reminded me of “A Good Start,” a recent post by the Epicurean Dealmaker, my favorite pseudonymous Wall Street investment banker.

“A Good Start” is offered as a counterpoint to “6 Ways Bankers Drive Lawyers Nuts,” a post on Wall Street Journal’s DealBlog by Ronald Barusch. In it, those six ways are balanced by counter-arguments from the investment banker’s side of the boardroom table.

“Never get between a banker and his fee,” Barusch writes, for example. “Are you serious? This is a gripe?,” Epicurean Dealmaker replies. “You might as well complain that sharks like to eat things. Counterpoint: Never come between a lawyer and a billable hour.”

Ouch.

Top 5: ‘This whole case was a tragedy of cataclysmic dimension’

Brendan Kearney’s story on the Baltimore County music teacher wrongfully arrested on child sexual abuse charges dominated last week’s list of the most-read stories by The Daily Record’s legal team.

1. Settlement terms revealed in wrongful arrest case
On the morning of Nov. 29, 2007, Yakov Shapiro was preparing for a day of family and music — his two great loves — when there was a knock at the door of his Germantown home.

2. Senate confirms Hollander, Bredar to U.S. District Court
“It’s the fulfillment of a dream from my days as a law clerk,” said Ellen L. Hollander, who in the mid-1970s worked for U.S. District Judge James R. Miller Jr. of Baltimore. James K. Bredar, when he takes the judicial oath, will become the first former federal public defender to sit on the federal bench in Maryland — a slice of history he deeply appreciates.

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