“Reports today say that a 33-year-old Kentucky man will argue in his murder trial this week that he should be found not guilty of killing his wife because he was under the influence of caffeine at the time.” [Lowering the Bar] Update: Lawyer doesn’t mention caffeine theory on trial’s first day [ABA Journal] From commenter Shtetl G: “I would be more sympathetic if he claimed lack of caffeine caused the murder.”
“A federal appeals court has overturned the arson convictions of a Caltech grad student accused of torching and vandalizing 125 SUVs, ruling the trial judge wrongly barred evidence of the defendant’s Asperger’s syndrome.” [ABA Journal, L.A. Times] While we’re at it, also from the ABA Journal: “Law Prof Charged with Tax Evasion, Claims Severe ADD, Prosecutors Say“.
- IP turf-staking: charity tries to trademark the phrase “Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness” [Likelihood of Confusion]
- Bad excuses dept.: Ohio 17-year-old killed his mom but lawyers “insisted youth and video game addiction made him less responsible,” a theory judge wasn’t buying [AP/WBBM]
- Lawsuit over Yelp review (chiropractor vs. disgruntled ex-client) settled [CNet; earlier]
- “Can U.S. Laws Protect Online Speech from Foreign Libel Suits?” [Neuberger/PBS]
- Coverage of Philadelphia’s Fumo scandal trial, “law firms [and some big ones] used in an alleged blackmail scheme” [Lowe, AmLaw Daily, earlier]
- “Another wrongful-paternity case from hell” (wrong guy, but default judgment) [Balko, Reason]
- Never trust content from “ProPublica” [Kopel @ Volokh on environmental effects of oil hydraulic fracturing, response from ProPublica, Kopel’s riposte; their attack on Goldman Sachs in California and New Jersey; Carter Wood at NAM “ShopFloor”]
- Few places have emulated San Francisco and Santa Cruz ban on discrimination based on appearance, i.e., against less attractive folks [WorkplaceProf]
That’s the explanation given by Charles J. O’Byrne’s lawyer for why his client didn’t file income taxes for year after year. I’ve never tried that one myself, but then, I’m not the chief aide to the governor of the state of New York, the way O’Byrne is. He has no plans to resign from his position. (Nicholas Confessore and Jeremy W. Peters, “Governor’s Aide Had ‘Late-Filing Syndrome,’ Lawyer Says”, New York Times, Oct. 23).
Relatedly or otherwise, Carolyn Elefant at Legal Blog Watch notes (Oct. 22) that Harpreet Singh Brar, known to Overlawyered readers for his abusive mass mailing of demand letters to California businesses,
came up with an even better defense to charges of failure to file tax returns on behalf of himself and his professional corporation: ineffective assistance of counsel. Sounds promising, except when you consider that Brar is an attorney who represented himself at trial. On appeal, he’s argued that he did not knowingly waive his right to counsel, and that he may have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the waiver. Not surprisingly, the appeals court rejected Brar’s argument. (Source: Metropolitan News-Enterprise.)
Ways (successful ways!) of wheedling oneself out of a contempt of court rap (Feral Child, Sept. 25; Tim Blair, Daily Telegraph (Australia), Sept. 25; Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of New South Wales v Hall, Australia, 2008).
John Duncan, once a prominent attorney with the Maine firm of Verrill Dana, was disbarred and faces prison after theft and embezzlement from the law firm, overbilling of clients and tax evasion. “His lawyer, Toby Dilworth, said Duncan had an ‘irrational’ desire to save more, to provide his family with greater financial security,” though over the period in question Duncan’s household had more than a million dollars in assets and an annual income topping a quarter million. (Martha Neil, “Ex-Chair of Prominent Maine Firm Gets 2 Years in Tax Case”, ABA Journal, Sept. 5).
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board’s charges against attorney John M. Sharp, formerly managing partner in the firm Sharp Henry Cerniglia Colvin Weaver & Davis, may possibly recall the old joke: lawyer finds satchel of someone’s misplaced cash, followed by wrenching dilemma of legal ethics: should he tell the partners? (Karina Donica, “Attorney involved in city-Cleco case faces possible disbarment”, Town Talk (Alexandria, La.), Aug. 22)(via ABA Journal).