Posts tagged as:

defense lawyers

A criminal defendant’s road to lenience? Not if Judge Jeffrey Lanphear has a say about it [Providence Journal]

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One has to hope this kind of thing doesn’t happen often [press release, Office of the U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey]:

A former attorney in the Haddonfield, N.J., office of a firm specializing in toxic tort litigation today admitted that he falsified defendants’ names in more than 100 asbestos suits filed in New York State courts in order to increase business and his standing in the firm, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Arobert C. Tonogbanua, 44, of Sicklerville, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. During the proceeding, Tonogbanua admitted that he fraudulently inserted the names of his former law firm’s clients into legitimately filed asbestos suits and charged the clients more than $1 million in attorney’s fees, costs and settlements to defend them.

[via Legal NewsLine; South Jersey Times] For a retrospective on the Lynn Boyd Stites/”Alliance” scam of years ago, in which a circle of defense lawyers in Los Angeles used manufactured litigation to harvest fees, see clips here, here, here, and here.

Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer Daniel Muessig has set the bar high [Deadspin] More: Scott Greenfield, and yet more about whether criminal defense lawyers really do those things.

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Menlo Park, Calif.: A 90-year-old lawyer’s BMW SUV jumped the curb and pinned two 6-year-old twin brothers against a wall, seriously injuring them. Now the driver, Edward Nelson, “states in his response to the lawsuit that the plaintiffs ‘carelessly, recklessly and negligently conducted and maintained themselves’ in a way that contributed to the accident. Furthermore, ‘knowing the probable consequences thereof, (they) placed themselves in a position of danger and voluntarily participated in all the activities,’ and so assumed any related risks. Finally, the plaintiffs failed to ‘reasonably mitigate’ any damages they sustained.” [Sandy Brundage, The Almanac (Peninsula communities, Bay Area)]

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A reform proposal floated in a 2010 Cato Institute policy analysis is now becoming a pilot project in one Texas county. More: Greenfield.

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Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on October 23, 2013

  • Eliciting false testimony among sins: “Ninth Circuit finds ‘textbook prosecutorial misconduct’” [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Syracuse: jurors say insurance company lawyer observing trial got uncomfortably close [Above the Law]
  • South Carolina: “Prosecuting attorney is accused of dismissing charges in exchange for sexual favors” [ABA Journal]
  • Judge, handing down six-year sentence, calls defense lawyer’s briefing of witness a “playbook on how to lie without getting caught” [Providence Journal]
  • Kentucky high court reinstates $42 M verdict against lawyers for fleecing fen-phen clients [Point of Law] Accused of bilking clients, prominent S.C. lawyer surrenders license, pleads to mail fraud [ABA Journal]
  • Former Kansas attorney general accused of multiple professional violations: “Phill Kline is indefinitely suspended from practicing law” [Kansas City Star]
  • “Nonrefundable ‘Minimum Fee’ Is Unethical When Fired Lawyer Will Not Refund Any of It” [BNA]
  • Detroit police blasted for arresting Free Press photographer who filmed arrest with her iPhone [Poynter]
  • “The discomfort of principles” in criminal defense matters [Gideon's Trumpet]
  • House Judiciary panel on overcriminalization and mens rea shows genuinely useful bipartisanship [Jonathan Blanks, Cato] One in four new bills these days to create criminal liability lacks mens rea [Paul Rosenzweig/Alex Adrianson, Heritage]
  • Auburn, Alabama: “Cop Fired for Speaking Out Against Ticket and Arrest Quotas” [Reason TV]
  • Film project on overturned Death Row convictions [One for Ten] “Forensics review reveals hair evidence was possibly exaggerated in 27 capital cases” [ABA Journal]
  • Critics of Stand Your Ground seem to be having trouble coming up with examples to back their case [Sullum]
  • Maine: “Hancock County prosecutor admits violating bar rules in sexual assault trial” [Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News]

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Don’t

by Walter Olson on July 20, 2013

When representing the leader of a violent sect, don’t smuggle out of jail purportedly personal papers that in fact contain your client’s alleged hit list of witnesses, then lie to investigators about it [Lorna Brown, recommended for a two-year suspension, KTVU, Contra Costa Times; a disciplinary judge recommended against disbarment because Brown, who had represented Yusuf Bey IV of the notorious Your Black Muslim Bakery, "eventually admitted what she did and expressed remorse," did not appear to realize the papers' contents, and lacked a prior disciplinary record] In a character letter, “veteran Oakland criminal defense attorney James Giller, a former president of the Alameda County Bar Association, told the judge” that Brown has an excellent reputation: “She may have made a mistake but we all do that. We all screw up.” [Berkeley Patch] More: Ted Frank.

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…consider this cautionary tale [Brian Tannebaum].

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September 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 21, 2011

June 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 7, 2011

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Great moments in criminal defense, as revealed at a murder trial in Washington, D.C. [WaPo] Eric Turkewitz has many more links on the story, and also is put in mind of a lawyer advertising angle.

A disciplinary committee said it lacked probable cause to charge a court-appointed criminal defense lawyer from Jacksonville, though it described his billing standards as “not consistent with the high standards of our profession.” [ABA Journal, Florida Times-Union]

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October 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 11, 2010

  • “Feds seek to halt inmate’s frequent lawsuits” [AP; J.L. Riches]
  • “SeaWorld Blasts ‘Improper’ Suit Over Trainer’s Death” [OnPoint News, earlier]
  • Does new NY law serve as road map for charities that wish to defy donor intent? [CultureGrrl]
  • Cruise ship case an example of tensions that arise when defense lawyers jump fence to join plaintiffs’ side [Julie Kay, DBR]
  • More on Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal’s “my lawsuits create jobs” stance [Bainbridge; related, New York Times Magazine (opponent MacMahon: "His business is suing people.")]
  • Australia: “Autistic student sues over test” [The Age]
  • “The most conservative court? Hardly” [Jacoby, Globe] And Justice Breyer, for one, has “rejected the notion that the U.S. Supreme Court has a pro-business slant and said the court doesn’t rule in favor of companies any more frequently than it has historically.” [Bloomberg via Adler, Volokh]
  • “Abducted by aliens? Call now for compensation” [four years ago on Overlawyered; Germany]

October 9 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 9, 2010

  • Update: “Tax Panel Rejects Lawyer’s Bid to Deduct Spending for Sex” [NYLJ, William Barrett/Forbes, earlier] And: “Musings on laws affecting adult entertainment, alcoholic beverages and other ‘vice’ industries” [Meeting the Sin Laws blog]
  • Mississippi: judge jails lawyer for not saying Pledge of Allegiance [Freeland]
  • More on much-written-about Israeli “rape by fraud” case [Volokh, more, earlier here and here]
  • “Tribune bankruptcy talks complicated by emergence of pugnacious hedge fund” [Romenesko; earlier on involvement of hedge funds in bankruptcies]
  • More disturbing tales from Connecticut probate court [Rick Green, Hartford Courant, earlier]
  • Marc Williams of the Defense Research Institute responds to Ted Frank’s criticism of many defense lawyers [PoL]
  • Advice for Australians: to fix your litigation system, look to Germany’s success [Ackland, Sydney Morning Herald]
  • Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) & ’70s band Orleans threaten suit against GOP remix ["Orleans Reunion Tour"]

September 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 7, 2010

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Whether or not these are the very creepiest, Cracked has found some instances where law firms might want to rethink the artwork or slogans on their sites. Not included, mercifully, is the Texas law firm that yanked several tasteless stock photos from its website last year after setting off a blogosphere furor.

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