It was the night before Easter …
An amusing tale from the UK caught our attention last week via BabyBarista’s blog. The fictitious blogger for Times Online captured the frustrations barristers face when their cases are postponed. In this case, though, the scheduled day fell before Good Friday.
“I arrived at court today and waited for two hours with my client only to be told by the usher that the judge did not have time to hear us due to (ahem) ‘an emergency application’. We therefore went into court and had a chat with the judge as to when the case might next be listed,” the blog reads.
While the barrister was actually quite pleased to get out of the case for time being, while still being paid a full fee, the opponent was frustrated and suggested the judge reschedule for the following day.
And here comes the punch line: “The judge looked very surprised at the comment and then a hint of a smile followed. ‘Young man,’ he said. ‘The last judge to sit on the day after Maundy Thursday [Holy Thursday] was Pontius Pilate. I do not intend to follow his lead here in London’,” the blogger recalls.
Pacino does it better
So Al Pacino turns to the camera and sneers at the judge, trying to struggle his way out of the cuffs after a lengthy courtroom outburst: “You’re out of order! You’re out of order! This whole trial’s out of order!” Ah, Pacino does the outraged lawyer well … But so too did an actual lawyer in Washington DC last week.
Reminding any onlooker of Pacino’s famous words in And Justice for All, in which he plays Baltimore defence lawyer Arthur Kirkland, an incident broke out between a judge and public defender in a US court.
According to trial transcripts, the incident began when the public defender, Liyah Brown, told the judge that her client was “a homeless man”.
“I don’t know that he is,” responded DC Superior Court Judge John Bayly Jr.
An argument then broke out, and Bayly told Brown to “be quiet” and sit down. When Brown failed to quiet down as requested of him, Judge Bayly Jr called on a US Marshal to “step her back, please. Step her back”.
Brown was then handcuffed, subjected to a pat-down search and held in a cell with misdemeanour defendants for about 45 minutes.
The DC Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure determined Judge Bayly Jr violated the code of judicial conduct when he ordered a public defender, Liyah Brown, to be shackled and detained after an argument.
The commission said the judge violated the code of conduct that says a “judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity”, which, evidently, this judge was not.
According to the commission, Bayly has accepted the commission’s conclusion and recognised his violation. He also wrote a note to Brown to say sorry. Pacino would never have said sorry …
Itchy and now scratching
It may be the Big Apple, but few will find recent events at New York firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore at all tasty.
According to reports, Cravath has been attacked by bedbugs. One of New York’s smartest firms, Cravath has announced to its lawyers and staff that levels 21 and 41 have been infested with bedbugs. People were informed via email, which must have prompted a fantastic sight — lawyers jumping up from their chairs and rushing to the elevators as their inboxes sprang the news on them.
Litigators and paralegals, who inhabit the 21st and 41st floors along with the bedbugs, must be fuming as the firm goes ahead with plans for fumigating.
According to AbovetheLaw.com, two brave souls have now come forward to admit that they also have bedbugs in their apartments and that they might therefore be the source.
A pain in the bum
A German pensioner is suing a hospital after she checked in for an operation on her leg — and woke up to find she had been given a new anus.
The clinic in Bavaria’s Hochfranken has suspended the surgical team concerned after they evidently mixed up the notes for two different patients.
The woman complainant was expecting an operation on her leg, which Folklaw understands she is still yet to actually have, while another patient suffering from incontinence was scheduled for surgery on her sphincter.
The women is now planning to sue the hospital, while hobbling about looking for a new hospital to sort her leg out for her.
Tempting the wolves and Bear
A lesson comes from the recent happenings at Bear Stearns, where somebody clearly spent too many late nights and weekends working on the deal. If lawyers can learn anything from this, it’s that it is better to spend time on something when you’re fresh during work hours that fighting through the wee hours of the morning. The risk of irreparable errors is just too great to make it worthwhile, you would think. To prove the point, we turn to the following from The New York Times:
“JPMorgan and Bear were prompted to renegotiate after shareholders began threatening to block the deal and it emerged that several ‘mistakes’ were included in the original, hastily written contract, according to people involved in the talks.
“One sentence was ‘inadvertently included’, according to a person briefed on the talks, which requires JPMorgan to guarantee Bear’s trades even if shareholders voted down the deal. That provision could allow Bear’s shareholders to seek a higher bid while still forcing JPMorgan to honour its guarantee, these people said.
“When the error was discovered, James Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, who was described by one participant as ‘apoplectic’, began calling his lawyers at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to seek a way to have the sentence modified, these people said. Finger pointing over the mistakes in the contracts began as bankers blamed the lawyers and vice versa.”
Thank goodness for other people’s mistakes. Hopefully they are enough to keep the rest of us out of trouble.
Two blind mice
An amusing blog has been posted by a former lawyer-turned-skier living in the French Alps at babychou.squarespace.com. Entitled “Two Blind Mice”, the blog post illustrates the frustrations of dealing with IT, and computers generally — particularly for the not-so-new generations.
The former lawyer (whose blog appears essentially to be a means to make all lawyers jealous), called up his father to tell him about his new blog. He planned to send him the URL, but admits his father is a technophobe who has just mastered email, while his tech-wiz mother, who would usually help, was on holidays.
So in a case of the blind leading the blind, the following telephone conversation ensued:
“Baby Chou (BC): You have to highlight the address with your mouse, then right-click, click on copy and then ...
Dad: What mouse?
BC: You know — the thingy attached to the side of the computer by a bit of string.
Dad: Hang on. I’m going to have to write this down. Okay.
BC: Then you have to right-click on copy and open your web browser.
Dad: Where’s that?
BC: On your desktop. You know — the ‘e’ for internet.
BC: Look at your desktop and there’s a big ‘e’ thingy. Can you see it?
Dad: I’m looking at the desk but all I can see are some post-its and my Marmite sandwich.
BC: No, on the PC ... maybe you should wait until Mum gets back?
Dad: Okay. But don’t do anything too exciting before I read it.
BC: Like what?
Dad: You know — like run round the village with no clothes on.
After I hung up, BB, who had been listening to the whole conversation, looked up from the instructions … and said: ‘why didn’t you just tell him to click on the link in the email?’.”
Lawyers a gloomy bunch
Interesting results have come out of a survey by AbovetheLaw.com, where 500 people responded to questions on whether they expected layoffs at their firm, and how they are coping. Pessimism seems to reign, and as much as 43 per cent expect their firms to have layoffs.
Among respondents who are Class of 1999 or more senior, this number spiked to 66 per cent. Fifty-three per cent of law students are afraid their firms will have layoffs.
Most respondents thought their law firms would provide at least some support during a layoff:
• 54 per cent thought their firm would provide a severance package
• 53 per cent thought their firm would provide ample notice so they could find a new job
• 38 per cent thought their firm would help them move between departments to stay busy
• 20 per cent thought their firm would help them relocate to another office
• Another 20 per cent, however, were not sure if their firm would help them
• 15 per cent thought their firm simply wouldn’t help them during a layoff
While most respondents expect some support from their law firms, the most popular response to an anticipated layoff is to simply switch firms. As much as 53 per cent of respondents said that they would talk to head hunters about switching firms or going in-house to protect themselves from a slowdown.