Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta’

“DA’s Office in Georgia Used Asset Forfeiture Funds on Booze, Steak, Galas…”

This isn’t the first time Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, has come under suspicion of turning forfeiture proceeds into what one might call seizure slush funds. “According to guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Justice, agencies that participate in the federal equitable sharing program (like the Fulton County DA), must ‘avoid any appearance of extravagance, waste, or impropriety’ when spending forfeiture funds.” [Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice]

P.S. In other forfeiture news, the U.S. Department of Justice has dropped efforts to seize/forfeit the property of landlords renting to California legal medical marijuana dispensaries [Nick Schou/OC Weekly, Reason] And [h/t commenter Gitarcarver] South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel has an expose of forfeiture doings in Sunrise, Fla. Yet more: Baltimore judge aims stinging criticisms at assistant U.S. attorney Stefan Cassella in seized-Mercedes case [Van Smith, City Paper]

Speaking at Emory today

Atlanta readers: a reminder that I’ll be speaking today at 12:15PM at Emory Law School, 1301 Clifton Rd. The closest visitor parking is at the Emory Hospital (map). Also speaking will be Prof. George Shepherd, who’s written extensively on legal education and law and economics and is co-author of the interesting new paper, “Law Deans in Jail” (and you thought I was the one critical of law schools). The Federalist Society chapter is sponsoring.

Atlanta police shooting aftermath

Kathryn Johnson, 92, “was shot and killed by police during a botched drug raid in 2006,” resulting in a payout of millions of dollars by the city. Now Rev. Markel Hutchins, who made public appearances as spokesperson for Johnston’s family, is suing her estate, saying he had an understanding to receive 10 percent of any recovery. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WABE] (& note commented controversy over whether “botched raid” is accurate.)

July 9 roundup

  • Many interesting reader comments on post about jury award against manufacturer over injury on bicycle motorized post-sale;
  • Reimbursed for money never paid: “Calif. Trial Lawyers Welcome Latest Ruling on Recovery of Medical Expenses” [The Recorder]
  • Update: Defamation suit against travel blogger Chris Elliott resolved successfully [Citizen Media Law, earlier]
  • Podcast: Northwestern lawprof Steven Calabresi on McDonald (Second Amendment incorporation) case [Federalist Society]
  • “Provost Umphrey claims banana picker reps siphoned clients, money” [SE Texas Record]
  • Lawprofs in a NYT flutter about deductibility of punitive damages [Walk, Drug & Device Law] On the merits, Carter at ShopFloor: “Changing Tax Laws to Punish Businesses — Unless They Settle”
  • Troubled Pacific Law Center to close in San Diego [ABA Journal, earlier]
  • New York high court rules Atlanta exec cannot invoke New York’s pro-plaintiff state or city laws to contest firing [NYLJ]

“4-year-old survives being hit by train”

Perhaps the most urgent question raised by this Atlanta Journal-Constitution story is not: how did Elijah Anderson manage to emerge from such a collision sufficiently unscathed to resume life as a normal kid, aside from a scar? Nor is it: why is his mother, represented by attorney Fred Lerner, planning to sue railroad CSX despite an investigative report exonerating the railroad and the general principle that right of ways are not for trespassing? No, the real question is: whose idea was it to take that camera shot of him on the tracks?

More on railroad trespassers here, here, here, etc.

Montgomery Blair Sibley suspended

We’ve had a lot of Montgomery Blair Sibley coverage over the years:

And we didn’t even mention his work representing Larry Sinclair (the fellow who unsuccessfully sued Barack Obama for denying Sinclair’s implausible claim that he had engaged in a homosexual tryst with him) in a lawsuit against three anonymous bloggers. (DBKP blog, Mar. 14.)

After years of over-the-top abusive litigation, the state bar finally took action, and he has been suspended by the Florida bar for three years. No doubt, this will result in a new round of frivolous pro se collateral litigation. It took a contempt-of-court citation for failure to pay child support before the Florida bar took action, so this can hardly be considered a rousing success of the bar in policing its own, even for someone as over-the-top as Sibley. (Florida Bar v. Sibley; ABA Journal, Apr. 25; MPGS blog, May 14; h/t S.G.).

Update: Two commenters (who never appeared on Overlawyered before) implausibly defend Sibley, both posting from BellSouth accounts in Atlanta, GA. Nothing about a divorce requires one to sue seven Supreme Court justices for “judicial treason” for denying a (frivolous) certiorari petition from a frivolous lawsuit. He should have been disbarred a long time ago; that he is only being suspended, and then only because of failure to obey court orders, is appalling. He’s been a hazard to his clients and to taxpayers; so, no, I don’t think he’s a “damn good lawyer.”

Update, May 16, 2:45 AM: We originally repeated a second-hand report sent to us that Sibley had also been suspended in DC as part of reciprocal discipline. It is possible that our correspondent confused a Rule 8.1 report, made by the DC Bar counsel recommending reciprocal suspension, with an actual suspension. If a Rule 8.1 report was filed, Sibley is entitled to file a response; no oral argument is scheduled at this time (though none is required to be scheduled) and no DC Board on Professional Responsibility report is listed as having issued with respect to Sibley. Rule 8.4 of the DC Board on Professional Responsibility Rules of Procedure is titled “Conclusive Effect of Adjudication in Other Jurisdiction,” which would appear to give Sibley nothing to argue in DC, and would likely make discipline inevitable, but the District of Columbia, in its typical competence, has posted the wrong text for 8.4 on its website, so I cannot say that for certain. Montgomery Sibley is, as of May 16, still listed on the DC Bar’s website as a member in good standing. If the error is ours, rather than that of the DC Bar website, we regret the error. Without written confirmation of the suspension, we retract the original statement that the DC Bar has suspended Sibley in response to the Florida bar’s three-year suspension of Sibley.

Update, May 20: We were right the first time.

The Jonathan Lee Riches docket

We’ve covered the litigious inmate fantasist before, but this is still a striking statistic: “Thirty-nine percent of the 491 cases filed so far this month in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia have been filed by one man: Jonathan Lee Riches. …Some of Riches’ prior complaints have been dismissed, including a $662 trillion suit filed in the Northern District last summer against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The suit alleged that Vick was attempting to ‘kidnap’ Riches’ mind and to force him to lose weight, and demanded that the $662 trillion be delivered — in ‘British gold’ shipped via truck — to the front gates of the prison where Riches is incarcerated.” (Janet L. Conley, “Inmate’s Frequent Filings Take On Targets Ranging From Spitzer to Van Halen”, Fulton County Daily Report, Mar. 25).

Roundup, March 15

  • Speaking of prostitutes and politicians, Deborah Jeane Palfrey has come to recognize that Montgomery Blair Sibley (Oct. 29; May 4; etc.) may not be the best lawyer for her. [WTOP via BLT]
  • Update: Nearly two years later, trial court gets around to upholding $2 million verdict in lawn-mower death we covered Jun. 16 and Aug. 18, 2006. [Roanoke Times (quoting me); opinion at On Point]
  • In other lawn mower news, check out Jim Beck’s perceptive comment on a Third Circuit lawn-mower liability decision.
  • Update: Willie Gary wins his child-support dispute. [Gary v. Gowins (Ga.); Atl. Journal-Const.; via ABA Journal; earlier: Nov. 2]
  • Tobacco-lawyer Mike Ciresi drops out of Minnesota senate race. [WCCO]
  • Belfast court quashes libel ruling against restaurant critic. [AFP/Breitbart]
  • Trial-lawyer-blogger happy: jury returned $1.25 million med-mal verdict for death of totally disabled person suffering from end-stage renal disease, pulmonary hypertension, oxygen dependent lung disease, and obesity, after rejecting businessperson from jury “for cause” because he was head of local Chamber of Commerce. [Day]
  • Car-keying anti-military attorney Jay Grodner faced the law in January; here’s the transcript. [Blackfive]
  • Anonymous blog post not reliable evidence of factual allegations. [In re Pfizer, Inc. Sec. Litig., 2008 WL 540120 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2008) via Roberts, who also reports on fee reduction in same post]
  • Clinton’s nutty mortgage plan. [B&MI (quoting me)]
  • A supposed DC cabbie’s take on DC v. Heller. [DC Cabbie blog]

Deal or Raw Deal?

Howie Mandel’s stunningly successful Deal Or No Deal television game show had an amusing little side-show.

Viewers were invited to play the “Lucky Case Game” by choosing which of six on-screen gold briefcases was the lucky case. Viewers submitted their choice on the Internet for free or through a text message that cost 99 cents. At the end of the program, the winning briefcase was revealed, and the winners were entered into a random drawing. The winner of that drawing received a prize of as much as $10,000.

One enterprising Georgia lawyer claims that this amounts to illegal gambling and has filed a class action lawsuit to obtain refunds of the 99 cent text message fees (plus attorneys fees, of course):

When a Forsyth County couple sent 99-cent text messages trying to win a prize on the NBC game show “Deal or No Deal,” they engaged in illegal gambling and should get their money back, a lawyer told the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday.

So should all other Georgians who sent text messages in the show’s “Lucky Case Game” and lost, lawyer Jerry Buchanan said. A judge hearing the case has estimated the bounty could reach tens of millions of dollars.

The case has been report to the state Supreme Court for the answers to two questions:

1. Does Georgia law allow losers of an illegal lottery to recover the money they lost?

2. And, if so, may the losers recover that money from the lottery’s promoter or organizer?

No mention of the third question.

(Atlanta Journal & Constitution, ajc.com, Feb. 27)

Since the suit was filed, the game has stopped.

Child support collection, for a percentage

Once again, the combination of contingency fees and law enforcement spells trouble: an article by Tresa Baldas in the National Law Journal reports that controversy is mounting over the activities of private firms that go after noncustodial parents’ child support obligations in exchange for a percentage share of the bounty (“Suits collecting around child support collectors”, Sept. 17, no free link). “Critics of the industry — many of them lawyers — claim that private collectors of child support are engaging in predatory practices, such as charging excessive contingency fees as high as 50%, and using aggressive collection tactics that run afoul of federal laws.” The private agencies escape the scrutiny of federal debt collection laws and have been operating effectively without regulation, but state lawmakers are now moving to fill the gap, with 13 states having passed laws intended to protect the services’ clients (if not always their adversaries) by capping fees, prohibiting the agencies from collaring state-directed payments, and giving clients more leeway to withdraw from contracts.

Read On…