Previous month:
July 2008
Next month:
September 2008

Marina Tylo Meets Barbara Streisand

Pop quiz: What happens when you file a frivolous lawsuit against a New York law blogger? 

Marina Tylo is about to learn.

Ms. Tylo, as first reported by Scott Greenfield yesterday, filed a frivolous defamation lawsuit against a New York law blogger.  This wasn't a very good idea, since filing a frivolous lawsuit against a law blogger is not the type of event that other bloggers will ignore. 

She filed the defamation lawsuit because the law blogger's post was supposedly harming her reputation.  I read the post several times, and really don't see how it harmed her reputation in any meaningful way.  That's her story, though.

Before she filed the lawsuit, anyone who typed her named into a search engine would have come upon her first website and the law blog's (not at all) damaging post. 

Now anyone who Googles her name will find multiple hits noting that she files frivolous lawsuits.

Is that how someone protects her reputation?   By suing a law blogger?  Really?  Who advised Ms. Tylo that filing the lawsuit was a good idea?  She should sue her lawyer for malpractice.

Oh, wait.  According to the summons that Mr. Greenfield helpfully posted, Ms. Tylo filed the lawsuit pro se, that is, on her own behalf.  She's literally her own lawyer.

I don't know much about Marina Tylo.  Indeed, before yesterday, I didn't know she existed.  But I now know enough to seriously mistrust her judgment, ethics, and professional competency.

Terry Christensen Convicted in Pellicano Case

The jury returned its verdict:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Former Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and his entertainment lawyer co-defendant were convicted Friday of charges linked to the wiretapping of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's former wife in a child support battle.

Pellicano and attorney Terry Christensen were each convicted of conspiracy to commit wiretapping. Pellicano was also convicted of wiretapping and Christensen was convicted of aiding and abetting a wiretap.

You may read the rest of the story here.

Judge Kent Issues Statement

Judge Samuel Kent's lawyer has issued a statement regarding the criminal charges pending against Judge Kent:

"Judge Kent is innocent of charges. He did have a relationship with this woman, worked for him for six years never complained about their relationship, which was completely consensual. The first time she ever complained was when she was about to be fired. Then she successfully avoided getting fired by making these outrageous claims that are not true. We will contest it and we will go to trial. Important thing to knows is that 5th Circuit Judges heard all of the evidence and they could not arrive at a unanimous or near unanimous verdict that Judge Kent had done anything wrong. This is a classic swearing match between a woman who has motive to lie and a United States District Judge who has faithfully served the public for 18 year as District Judge and 15 years as lawyer."

This statement presents some interesting issues.  First, it sets Judge Kent up for a defamation lawsuit.  Whatever happens at trial, Judge Kent may now be sued for defamation.  Of course, setting one's self up for a civil suit is worth it when facing criminal charges.  Sometimes you gotta go all in.

That said, the statement cites me as incredible.  If Judge Kent were really having a consensual relationship with his secretary, why would have have fired her?  Does that really sound like something someone would do? 

Generally, when a person is dipping his pen in company ink, he keeps even the most incompetent people on staff.  Kids and lovers never get fired, even when they should be.

Here, Judge Kent wants us to believe that he was going to fire his lover.  Yeah, that's believable.

Fifth Circuit Covers Up Serious Judicial Misconduct

Several month ago federal judge Samuel Kent did something really bad.  What did he do?  We didn't know for sure, because the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (which was charged with investigating Judge Kent's judicial misconduct) kept it confidential.  The Fifth Circuit did issue a reprimand - in other words, "Shame on you."

The reprimand was short on details.  The public, according to the Fifth Circuit, did not have a right to know.  All that the reprimand said was that Judge Kent's actions "violated the mandates of the Canons of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges and are deemed prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts and the administration of justice."  The Fifth Circuit covered the rest up.

Even though the Fifth Circuit had the power to refer Judge Kent to Congress for an impeachment investigation, the Fifth Circuit refused to.  Rather, all the Fifth Circuit would do was issue a reprimand.  The rest was kept secret.

Reporters from the Houston Chronicle sensed that there was more to the story.  After all, judges are reluctant to censure other judges.  You must do something really bad to get into trouble.  So the Chronicle investigated. 

Preliminary reports did not paint a happy picture.  Witness interviews indicated that Judge Kent committed something beyond "mere" sexual harassment, but short of rape.

After further investigation, Judge Kent was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault.  (Via Volokh).

According to the Indictment, Judge Kent "did engage in the intentional touching, both directly and through the clothing, of the groin, breast, inner thigh, and buttocks of [the complaining witness] with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, [and] degrade []."  He also allegedly attempted to put the woman's mouth on his penis.

Some will say that these are only allegations, just as some said that people like me were engaged in a "serious campaign of distortion" when we demanded that public officials answer publicly for their misconduct.

Yes, Judge Kent is presumed innocent.  However, the Department of Justice does not lightly indict sitting federal judges. The case against Judge Kent must be extremely strong, or else he would never have been indicted. 

While Judge Kent's alleged misconduct is troubling, something else is still more troubling.  Namely, the Fifth Circuit's conduct.

The Fifth Circuit knew of the allegations that formed the basis of the Indictment.  Yet what did the judges of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (led by "tough on crime" Edith Jones) do? 

They issued a mere reprimand, did not make the details of his conduct public, and did not ask Congress to investigate further.  They were willing to let the case end at the reprimand.

Self-discipline must go.  What Judge Kent is accused of doing borders on rape.  Yet the Fifth Circuit wanted to pass upon the issue with a simple, "It's our little secret."

Not, it's not your little secret.  Judges are public officers, paid by the public, and entrusted with extraordinary power by the public.  When a judge breaks the law, we have a right to know.  We have a right to write our Congresswomen and Senators to let them know about a sitting federal judge who abuses his power.

We cannot exercise our rights as citizens when judges cover-up judicial misconduct.  Congress must reform judicial disciplinary proceedings.  At the very least, allegations of judicial misconduct must be made public.  Judges have made it clear that they do not want to punish other judges.  Fine.  Leave the dirty work to the public and Congress.

Judicial Activism Alert

We always hear outrage over "judicial activism."  We are told that judicial activism is wrong... for some reason.  Oddly (or not?) the only time we hear complaints about judicial activism are when minority rights are vindicated.  If a judge finds that gays have a right to marry, people don't even need to read the opinion before declaring it activism. 

If you really want judicial activism, go spend a day in Family Court.  There, you'll see that Jim Crow lives on - if you're a man who wants custody of his child, or if you think it's only fair that your ex-wife should work for a living. You will see enough equal-protection violations to last a lifetime. 

Here is what happened to one man:

Former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan on Tuesday won his appeal from an $18,000-a-month child support obligation imposed in his 2006 divorce, which a New Jersey appellate court found both exorbitant and unfairly apportioned against him.

The court, in Strahan v. Strahan, A-3747-06, said that the trial judge failed to make the specific findings of fact necessary to sustain his decision to add $200,000 a year to the $35,984 annual award that the couple's twins girls are due under statutory guidelines.

The court also found error in the trial judge's saddling of Strahan with 91 percent of the child support obligation, especially since the judge did not impute any income to Strahan's former wife, Jean, even though she is college-educated and capable of working but has voluntarily chosen not to do so.

Now that's judicial activism.  And it's very, very, very common.  If you're a man, family law is more unfair than criminal law is to defendants.

By the way, if you're a man who has "voluntarily chosen" to not work, you will go to jail for failure to meet your child-support obligations.  How is the mistreatment of men constitutional?  It's not, but no one seems to care. 

Why not?  Isn't judicial activism, well, judicial activism?

How is this Legal?

Nancy Pelosi, humble public servant, owns stock in a company.  Based on the support (or lack thereof) she can offer by virtue of her public office, this stock price will rise or fall:

Turns out the speaker of the House of Representatives owns between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of stock in Clean Energy Fuels, a company that builds and runs natural-gas fueling stations for vehicles that run on compressed or liquefied nat gas, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Pelosi’s stamp of approval is huge because, without government incentives, gas stations that pump only nat gas are likely to go unused. So her investment in CLNE is “the clearest possible endorsement of natural gas as a transportation fuel,” Cramer said.

There’s a November ballot initiative in California, Pelosi’s home state, to authorize $5 billion worth of bonds to fund the replacement of 70,000 trucks and 150,000 cars with vehicles that run on nat gas and other clean fuels. If the initiative passes, that’s definitely good news for Clean Energy. With Pelosi’s support, there’s a good chance it will.

How is this legal? 

How to Tell if an E-mail is a Scam

In the post below, I reproduced an e-mail that a tricked a lawyer into sending almost $200,000 to a foreign client.  I said that the e-mail was obviously a scam.  How did I know?  I will reproduce the e-mail.  Inside the brackets are my comments:

From: Hong Kong Yejian Technology <[email protected]>

[The first thing I did was to enter the company's name, "Hong Kong Yejian Technology," into Google. There is such a company. But - and this is huge and is a sure sign that the e-mail is a scam - look at the e-mail address.  Why is it 

[Most large companies will have a website.  They will also have an "official" e-mail address.  For example, an e-mail from someone who works at Kelly Blue Book would be [email protected].

[Warning: Any scammer can create a company web page.  I could send you an e-mail saying that I'm the CEO of Spacely Sprockets.  And here's my website:  How would you know if there was an actual company behind the website?  So even if the e-mail looks official, it might not be.]

Subject: Legal Counsel

The purpose of this email is to evidence that we have visited your web page and found your profile very interesting.

[Wait, they are offering to hire me based on a web profile they read?  What legitimate company does this?]

We would like to enter into a one year Attorney-Client Retainer agreement with you as our accredited Attorney for the collection of debt mainly from our America debtors.

IN GENERAL, you shall have all of the responsibilities, duties, powers and authorities which are consistent with your position as our accredited Attorney solely for debt collection.

It is our opinion that your ability to consolidate payments will eradicate delays due to inter-continental monetary transaction between Asia and America.

[The companies they need to collect from are supposedly in America.  And I am... where?  Oh, that's right: America!  So how in the heck would I eradicate an "inter-continental" delay?]

More so, we understand that a proper retainer agreement will provide the necessary service and we are most inclined to commence talks with you on this matter as soon as possible.

Your consideration of our request is highly anticipated as we look forward to your prompt response.

For further information, please call +852 - 301 - 59103 during office hours or send a fax anytime to:  +852 -301 -72504 or email: [email protected]

[An e-mail address?  Imagine a manager from Coca-Cola e-mailed you.  Would they really send you an official e-mail, asking you to respond to them at an AOL e-mail address?]

Most Sincerely,
Ms. Ai Wa
Sales Manager,   
Hongkong Yejian Technology Co., Ltd.   
7/F, Sino Centre, 582-592 Nathan Road,
Mongkok KL. Hong Kong.
Tel No: +852 - 301 - 59103.
Fax No: +852 -301 -72504.

[Always enter phone numbers into Google.  Entering  "+852 - 301 - 59103" brings you to a site called Scambuster (site).]

Some basic research could have saved an Atlanta lawyer almost $200,000. 

Look, folks, it's no longer cool to say, "I don't understand technology."  Why is this something to brag about?  It's like bragging about not reading books.

I especially love it when old people who complain about "Gen-Y slackers" brag about being too lazy to understand the Internet.  Yep, that makes sense.

Scams will get more sophisticated.  Educate yourselves.  No one is saying you need to trick your browser out with every Firefox add-on.  But not knowing that an e-mail from someone working for a huge company should not come from an @aol or @gmail account is pretty sad.

Ignorance is, like, so not cool.