Law blog roundup

DetroitWelcome to the first Tuesday in September. Here are some news items to get this post-Labor Day week started.

– An American city tries to emerge from bankruptcy.

– China holds an open trial.

– What is the most dangerous position in football? Inquiring workers’ compensation lawyers want to know.

– Did Chicago’s Metra invite a lawsuit?

Law blog roundup

whitey_bulger_12Welcome to Monday, the day before the bar exam begins. For those who are cramming, please remember one thing: It is a test of minimum competence. For those who wish to read on, here are some news items to get the week started.

– Is this where hope goes to die for defense attorneys?

– A whistleblower wins battle but must still wage war.

– Would you represent a juvenile criminal defendant for $350?

– Will reputed mob boss “Whitey” Bulger testify in his own defense?


Legal news roundup

Hobby LobbyHappy (rainy) Friday everyone! Here’s your pre-Memorial Day weekend legal news round-up:

– The Brooklyn district attorney’s office will face numerous challenges as it begins an unusual examination of 50 homicide convictions originally looked into by one police detective, Louis Scarella. Scarella , who is now retired, has come under fire some of the methods he used while investigating these cases. This includes using the same drug addict as an eyewitness. Mr. Scarcella has denied wrongdoing.

– Hans G. Poppe, a Louisville lawyer whose fainting caused a mistrial in a medical-malpractice trial is being sued by the insurance company providing medical malpractice coverage to the defendant doctor and hospital he filed suit against.

– Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. on Thursday asked a federal appeals court to exclude it from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill. The chain of arts-and-crafts stores argued that businesses should be able to seek exception from that section of the health law if it violates their religious beliefs.


Glass ceiling?

For many journalists, making the transition into a law career is an easy, if not common one.

That is, unless you are disgraced former reporter Stephen Glass.

Glass made waves in the media world in 1998 after it was discovered that 42 of the articles he had written for The New Republic in two years were fabricated or partially fabricated. (The saga is chronicled in the movie, “Shattered Glass,” starring Hayden Christensen in a role that portrays Glass as savvy and manipulative.)

Glass, however, turned to the law after being collectively shunned by the journalism world. Glass had been taking night classes at Georgetown Law while working for The New Republic and started day classes after the scandal broke. He later passed the New York bar exam, but when he applied for his law license he found out it would be rejected on moral grounds and withdrew.

Glass eventually moved to California and applied for his law license there in 2009. His request was denied, which he appealed in a closed trial. The judge ruled in favor of Glass and his opponents appealed to the California Supreme Court, where the case was opened in December. No hearing date has been set.

In the meantime, Glass found work at a California law firm, and Paul Zuckerman, the trial lawyer who hired Glass, wants to eventually make him a partner. Zuckerman, who has a history of substance abuse, said he wanted to give Glass a second chance.

According to an article on, though, law professors are divided on whether Glass, with his reputation, should be able to become a lawyer.

“What grates me is the idea that he is not honorable enough for journalism, so let the lawyers have him,” a New York University law professor told the publication. “Why should the legal system bear the risk?”

More drama at Werdesheim trial

WBAL-TV 11 News reported Tuesday that Baltimore Sun reporter Tricia Bishop passed out during the trial of the Werdesheim brothers this morning and that one of the defendants went to her aid.

Avi and Eliyahu Werdesheim, Orthodox Jewish and white, are accused of beating a black teen in an Baltimore neighborhood while Eliyahu was patrolling for an Orthodox Jewish watch group.

WBAL reporter Lowell Melser tweeted that Avi jumped out of his seat to administer aid when Bishop passed out. Bishop was OK when she was led out of the Mitchell Courthouse by emergency workers, according to Melser.

The trial has been going on since last week and has been drawing national attention due to its similarities to the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, where a black teen was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch patrolman.

The real-life ‘Lincoln Lawyer’

A Maine lawyer is convinced a former client is a serial killer and is now trying to link him to a series of murders.

Eric B. Cote represented Rory Holland from 2008 to 2009 in a real estate partition action. After Cote and Holland went their separate ways, Holland was convicted of killing brothers Derek and Gage Greene later in 2009.

Afterwards, Cote extensively investigated Holland and dug up old missing persons records trying to connect them to Holland. He is even convinced that one person has been wrongly convicted of a crime Holland committed.

For those of you who have seen “The Lincoln Lawyer” (anyone?) starring the one and only Matthew McConaughey — possibly the most unconvincing lawyer of all time — you know that Cote’s story is almost a scene straight out of the movie.

Just like Cote, McConaughey is representing a client who turns out to be a serial killer and is actually responsible for the murder one of McConaughey’s former clients went to prison for. (Although most of the movie is lots of action and chases and shooting and McConaughey making confused faces as his lawyer character unravels the truth.)

A few weeks ago, a judge said Cote had become “obsessed with the background and history of Mr. Holland.” Cote was then reprimanded by the court for using confidential information he had gained from Holland while representing him in later actions against Holland. (Cote had represented the Greene brothers’ mother, Tammy Cole, in an unlawful death action against Holland.)

While that doesn’t have the same glossy, adrenaline-pumped Hollywood ending, at least Cote seems to have a blemish-free record, with no disciplinary action against him in his 35 years of practicing law.

The same can maybe not be said for McConaughey’s acting track record.

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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