Trial Delayed Due to LSU-Ohio St. Game

Justice can wait until after the LSU game. A state judge near the home of the Tigers has agreed to postpone a trial scheduled to start on the same day LSU plays Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.

Stephen Babcock, an attorney defending Imperial Casualty Insurance Co. in a lawsuit over a car crash, requested the delay because he has tickets to the Jan. 7 game at the Superdome in New Orleans. He and other LSU fans have rented out the second floor of a Bourbon Street bar for a pre-game tailgate party.

In his written request for a new trial date, Babcock refers to Ohio State as “Slowhio” (“due to their perceived lack of speed on both sides of the ball”) and notes that Allstate, sponsors of the Sugar Bowl, are not a party in the insurance case.

“All counsel to this matter unequivocally agree that the presence of LSU in the aforementioned contest of pigskin skill unquestionably constitutes good grounds therefor,” Babcock wrote. “In fact we have been unable through much imagination and hypothetical scenarios to think of a better reason.”

Babcock, whose law office is in Baton Rouge, said lawyers for the plaintiff in the case also have tickets to the game.

Details here from the AP via the San Francisco Chronicle.


Control Sought on Military Lawyers

Bush wants power over promotions

The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

That sure worked well when the target was United States Attorneys. How freakin’ dumb are these people? Details here from Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe. (via How Appealing)



There Goes the Judge

Just how low does a California judge have to go to be forced out of his or her job? The state’s eleven-member Commission on Judicial Performance is responsible for answering that question. And, in fact, the commission rarely rules that a judge deserves to be bounced from the bench. Since 1960, this independent agency has publicly reproved 17 judges, admonished 48, and censured 41—but it has removed only 23.

The commission archives on those discredited 23 do not reveal any instances of murder or even malicious malfeasance. But they do record plenty of bad language, bad attitudes, and most of all bad judgment. Here are five of the state’s most colorful tales of judicial indiscretion—with plenty of lessons on how far (and easily) the mighty may fall.

The astonishing (and amusing) details are here from California Lawyer magazine.


The Man That Got Away

Obama in 1990

Judges dreamed of having Barack Obama as their clerk. Why did he turn them all down?

Among prominent federal appeals court judges in the 1990s, Barack Obama was known as “the one who got away.”

In 1990, Obama had been elected the first African-American president of Harvard Law Review, which made him a blazingly hot prospect as a law clerk for one of the top federal appeals judges, who in turn would almost certainly send him on to the Supreme Court as a clerk.

But with a remarkable certitude that still amazes his friends and elders, Obama said no to all that, preferring to return to Chicago after graduating in 1991 to resume community and civil rights work and to write a memoir that turned into a best seller, Dreams from My Father. Now, only 16 years later, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois is a top contender for the presidency of the United States.

Eschewing a possible Supreme Court clerkship could stand as Obama’s biggest “road not taken,” a decision that would have taken him on a path toward a top law firm, law school faculty, or judgeship.

Instead, Obama plunged into Illinois politics, charting a trajectory that could put him in the position of appointing Supreme Court justices as president — or, in an alternative scenario floated recently by The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin and the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page, serving on the Supreme Court as Hillary Clinton’s first appointee.

Details here from Tony Mauro of Legal Times. (via How Appealing)


Contractor, Homeowner at Odds Over Fortune Found in Bathroom Walls

Most folks are happy to reach into the pocket of a little-used jacket and find a long-forgotten $10 bill.

Multiply that feeling by 18,200 and you will understand how Lakewood home-improvement contractor Bob Kitts felt when he pulled a giant cache of Depression-era cash from the walls of an 83-year-old Cleveland home he was renovating.

As he was ripping plaster from bathroom-wall studs, Kitts found bundles of bills totaling $182,000 wrapped in pre-World War II Plain Dealer news pages and tucked into boxes. The money is in such good condition, and some of the bills are so rare and collectible, that one currency appraiser valued the treasure at up to $500,000, Kitts said.

But there’s a hitch:

The walls from which Kitts pulled the money aren’t his walls. The house isn’t his house. Nobody knows for certain whose money it is.

Yet Kitts claims it as his own. He and his lawyer have dusted off an obscure, centuries-old legal doctrine called “treasure trove” – a common-law finders-keepers provision – that they believe gives him top claim to the wealth.


DNA Test Clears Man After 27 Years

John Jerome White

A man enjoyed freedom Tuesday after a DNA test proved he did not commit a 1979 rape. John Jerome White, 48, left Macon State Prison on Monday evening.

“I’m just thankful that this is behind me,” White said at a news conference Tuesday morning with the Georgia Innocence Project, which had worked to free him. “When I first started out, I wondered why this happened to me,” he said, breaking into tears. “I just saw it as something that had to happen because I wasn’t living a moral life.”

The investigation led to the arrest Tuesday of James Edward Parham, 54, of Manchester, who was on the state’s Sex Offender Registry for a 1985 rape conviction, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said. He was being held in the Meriwether County jail on charges of rape, aggravated assault, burglary and robbery.

A sheriff’s office employee declined to say whether Parham had an attorney, and there was no immediate response from the public defender’s office. There was no answer on a telephone listed at the address given for Parham in a GBI news release.

White is the seventh Georgia convict to be cleared by DNA evidence, said Aimee Maxwell, director of the Atlanta-based Georgia Innocence Project. In every case, the men were wrongly convicted on eyewitness accounts.

“This case does point out the fallibility of eyewitness identification,” Maxwell said.

Detail here from the AP via the San Francisco Chronicle.


Judge’s “Shocking” Words at Meeting Lead to Censure

Judge John Wulle

Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle has been censured for “demeaning, offensive and shocking” behavior at a training conference last year.

Wulle, 57, appeared before the state Commission on Judicial Conduct on Friday in SeaTac.

The judge and seven other people from Clark County, including a deputy prosecuting attorney, a juvenile probation officer and a defense attorney, attended “Planning Your Juvenile Drug Court,” July 24 to 28, 2006, in Los Angeles.

According to a nine-page document posted on the commission’s Web site, Wulle used profanity, made an obscene gesture in response to a request to lower his voice, and referred to Clark County’s group facilitator as “the black gay guy” while at the Los Angeles event. Also, after the facilitator said, “Clark County gets a star” for finishing an assignment, Wulle said, “I don’t need a star. I’m not a Jew.”

Several witnesses said Wulle smelled of alcohol, according to the censure order.

Details here from The Seattle Times.


Attorney Who Made Up Kidnapping Had ‘Meltdown,’ Husband Says

Karyn McConnell Hancock

A pregnant Ohio attorney who admitted that she fabricated her kidnapping left her family behind because she “experienced a meltdown,” her husband said Tuesday.

She never was abducted last week outside Toledo’s juvenile court building or forced into a vehicle, said police Capt. Ray Carroll.

Instead, she drove by herself to the Atlanta area, where she was found three days later outside an amusement park, investigators said.

Karyn McConnell Hancock, 35, a former city councilwoman, had been having psychological issues for several years, her husband said Tuesday.

“She experienced a meltdown and attempted to handle those matters without the assistance of professional help,” said Lawrence Hancock. “Karyn elected to leave everything because she felt that she was unable to continue.”

Police said at a news conference Tuesday that she recanted the story Monday after meeting with investigators for about eight hours. Hancock will likely be charged with making a false police report, said Police Chief Mike Navarre.

Details here from the AP via Law.com.


Solo Convicted in Sex Scam

A San Antonio, Texas, jury has convicted solo Mary S. Roberts on five counts of theft stemming from allegations that she helped her lawyer-husband appropriate $155,000 from four men with whom she had affairs in 2001.

The jury returned its verdict Dec. 10 after a weeklong trial. Judge Sid Harle of the 226th District Court scheduled Mary Roberts’ sentencing for Feb. 4, 2008. Each theft count is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.

In 2005, a Bexar County grand jury indicted Ted and Mary Roberts on theft charges based on allegations that after the wife had sexual liaisons with four men, the husband threatened them with litigation unless they compensated him for emotional distress. A second grand jury reindicted the couple in 2006, naming in the indictment the four men from whom the couple appropriated money.

In March, a jury convicted Ted Roberts of three theft charges for taking money from two of the men. The jury sentenced him to five years in prison.

Details here from Texas Lawyer via Law.com. My earlier posts about Ms. Roberts and her exploits are here and here.