Friday, March 25, 2016

Was law school worth it?




Man Arrested in North Carolina for Allegedly Failing to Return VHS Tape Rented in 2001



Houston Court of Appeals Reverses Robert S. Bennett's Disbarment

, Texas Lawyer

Robert S.
Robert S. "Bob" Bennett

A Houston appeals court reversed a trial court's sanction disbarring Robert S. Bennett of Houston and remanded it for reconsideration of the "appropriate sanction" after finding evidence is insufficient to support the trial court's conclusion that Bennett violated two disciplinary rules.
A panel of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals found legally and factually sufficient evidence to support the trial court's conclusion that Bennett violated Rules 3.02 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, but found insufficient evidence he violated Rule 1.15(d).
The court remanded the case to the trial court for reconsideration of the appropriate sanction to be imposed on Bennett for violating Rule 3.02.
Bennett, who was disbarred in March 2014, said that with the appeals court opinion on March 24, he has returned to the practice of law.
"Obviously I'm pleased that they have reinstated me and I'm up and running again," he said. "I have cases that I'm moving from just consulting on to be attorney of record."
While the opinion is not a "total victory," Bennett said, "it's certainly better than it was."
The opinion was written by Judge J. Brett Busby and joined by Judges William Boyce and Marc Brown. They heard oral arguments September 2015.
Bennett, whose practice included defending lawyers from State Bar of Texas disciplinary suits, was disbarred in 2014 by Judge Carmen Kelsey of San Antonio, then judge in the 289th District Court, a "specially assigned judge" who found Bennett violated Rules 1.15(d) and 3.02.
The appeals court sustained Bennett's challenge that he violated Rule 1.15(d), finding no evidence that at the time his representation of former client Gary Land was terminated, he failed to refund an advance payment of fees that had not been earned. That rule requires a lawyer to refund any advance payment of unearned fees.
The court, however, overruled Bennett's challenge that he did not violate Rule 3.02, which provides that a lawyer, during litigation, should not take a position that unreasonably increases the costs or other burdens of the case or unreasonably delays resolution of the matter.
"[T]here is sufficient evidence that Bennett took actions that unreasonably increased the costs or other burdens of the fee dispute or that unreasonably delayed its resolution," Busby wrote.
In 2013, the Commission for Lawyer Discipline filed the disciplinary suit against Bennett after he appealed an arbitration award in a fee dispute with his client. His fee contract, according to the commission's allegations in Commission for Lawyer Discipline v. Bennett, required an arbitration panel selected by the Houston Bar Association Fee Dispute Committee to handle any disputes arising out of the agreement; the contract further stated that the arbitrator's decision would be "binding, conclusive and nonappealable."
Claire Mock, public affairs counsel for the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, said the commission declined to comment on the Fourteenth Court's opinion because the litigation is pending.
When asked if the opinion paves the way for Bennett to immediately return to the practice of law, Mock said the commission is reviewing the opinion and "determining their options."

Read more:



WATCH: Louisiana town arrests reporter for trying to get public records on mayor’s salary increase

A Louisiana news reporter was led away from White Castle City Hall in handcuffs for reporting on the mayor’s salary.
Chris Nakamoto was arrested and handed a misdemeanor trespassing charge while he was following up on a public records request pertaining to the pay of Mayor Jermarr Williams, his employer, WBRZ reports. The station reports Nakamoto arrived with photojournalist Joe McCoy at about 11 a.m. looking for missing items they were seeking as part of their request, including an audio recording of a town council meeting and a copy of the mayor’s taxpayer-funded car mileage compensation.
They were also looking for evidence that the city had approved a large salary increase for the mayor.
“A public records request is a formal inquiry anyone can make to get access to public government documents,” WBRZ reports. “An elected official’s salary is public information. Nakamoto was at city hall checking on the records request.”
According to WBRZ, Williams’ pay saw a nearly 20 percent jump between April and November of 2015. An increase in pay for the mayor can only be approved by the City Council by way of a municipal ordinance.
Nakamoto and McCoy, an award-winning team from the station’s investigative unit, were looking into when — or whether — the ordinance for the mayor’s pay increase was approved.
The city has a history of failure to produce public records. Last year, residents sued over the issue and on Friday, a judge ordered the city to both hand over the documents and pay penalties associated with violating transparency laws.
“This is what the residents of White Castle deal with,” Nakamoto said into the camera while being led away in handcuffs.
Just prior to that, McCoy had his camera rolling when a White Castle police officer told the pair to step out of City Hall. Nakamoto can be heard saying they have the right to be there and asking on what grounds they were being told to leave.
“Okay this is a public building sir, we have a right to be here,” Nakamoto states. “We’re here to get our public records.”
The police officer then tells McCoy to stop recording. McCoy responds, “No. Public building, man.”
The arrest of Nakamoto was condemned by a press advocacy organization.
“The arrest of WBRZ investigative reporter Chris Nakamoto for “trespass” in a public building while attempting to access a public record is a blatant assault on First Amendment rights,“ Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, said. “ Especially in light of a judge’s order that these records be made public, this kind of action is wholly unacceptable on the part of the local police and city administration and cannot be justified or tolerated.”
Watch video of his arrest, as posted by WBRZ, here:



Saudi Prince Sued After Trashing Los Angeles Mansion In Alleged Drug-Laden, Destructive Party

by jonathanturley
3281A04F00000578-0-image-a-25_1458778105142We have previously discussed the anomaly of the House of Saud executing people in Saudi Arabia under its draconian Sharia laws while Saudi royalty is seen in booze and drug saturated scandals in Western countries. The latest is Prince Aziz al Saud, 29, who allegedly hosted a wild party at a rented Los Angeles mansion with naked female dancers and copious amounts of drugs. He is now being sued for $300,000 by the owner for lost rent after the damage to the mansion was repaired.
jonathanturley | 1, March 2


Twelve Year Old Middle School Student Arrested For Battery After Pinching Boy’s Butt School Game

by jonathanturley
3273DCE900000578-3504348-image-a-6_1458652064703A 12-year-old girl, Breana Evans, from Milwee Middle School outside of Orlando, Florida was arrested and booked after she allegedly pinched a boy’s butt in school as part of a popular game. While the boy did not want to press charges, the boy's mother reportedly insisted on criminal charges being brought against the girl.


Englishman Arrested After Posting Anti-Muslim Views On Twitter

by jonathanturley
327E209A00000578-0-image-a-2_1458745788050Police have arrested a British man, Matthew Doyle, for "suspicion of inciting racial hatred on social media." Doyle was arrested after posting tweets in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks. He described how he confronted a Muslim woman in south London and asked her to explain the Brussels attack. After she said, understandably, that she had nothing to do with the attacks, Doyle said she had given "a mealy mouthed response" and later used an anti-Muslim epithet.

In Shift to Streaming, Music Business Has Lost Billions


Streaming and vinyl sales surge, but the big moneymaker, CDs, has been gradually abandoned.
Cyberattackers attempted to gain control of the Bowman Dam in Rye, a suburb of New York, in 2013. The effort failed, but worried American investigators because it was aimed at seizing a piece of infrastructure.
U.S. Indicts 7 Iranians in Cyberattacks on Banks and a Dam


The indictment is the first time that the Obama administration has sought action against Iranians for a wave of computer attacks that began in 2011.

The Brief: The Trump-Cruz Twitter War Over Wives Intensifies

by Jacob Sanchez and John Reynolds | March 25, 2016

The Big Conversation

The war of words between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump continued to escalate on Thursday with Cruz issuing his angriest statements yet following Trump's decision to post an unflattering picture of Cruz's wife, Heidi.
The Tribune's Patrick Svitek reported that Cruz indicated at a campaign stop in Wisconsin that Trump is scared of "strong women" like Heidi Cruz.
"Real men don't try to bully women," Cruz said. "That's not an action of strength. That's an action of weakness. It's an action of fear. It's an action of a small and petty man who is intimidated by strong women."
The larger takeaway, as The Washington Post reported, is Trump's now well documented treatment of women.
"Trump has shown little reluctance in attacking his female rivals — or some of his rivals’ spouses — in ways that strike many as sexist or demeaning, and many fear that the insults are a harbinger of the gutter rhetoric to come if he faces (HillaryClinton in November," wrote the Post's Jose A. DelReal and Jenna Johnson.
"Polling shows Trump sliding sharply among women in recent months, hurting the GOP’s already shaky position with that demographic. Trump’s favorability numbers have decreased 10 points among women nationwide since November, to 23 percent, while his unfavorable number among women has jumped to 75 percent from 64 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken this month."

Federal judge wounded in shooting will participate in peace march

Mar 25, 2016, 8:32 am CDT


Utah is first state with registry for white-collar criminals

Mar 25, 2016, 7:14 am CDT

Lawsuit seeks R-rating or higher for movies depicting tobacco use

Mar 25, 2016, 6:00 am CDT

Former state supreme court judge fined $50K over objectionable emails, but keeps pension

Mar 24, 2016, 5:00 pm CDT


Former state supreme court judge fined $50K over objectionable emails, but keeps pension

Justice J. Michael Eakin. Image from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
A former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who resigned last week has been fined $50,000 for sending and receiving objectionable emails, mostly or entirely on a private account.
But J. Michael Eakin will keep his $153,000-a-year pension, because a judicial tribunal agreed to accept an ethics-case prosecutor’s recommendation to drop the most serious charge against him, according to the Associated Press
“The common thread of the emails, with their imagery of sexism, racism and bigotry, is arrogance,” said the Court of Judicial Discipline in its Thursdayopinion.
However, Eakin’s performance on the appellate bench over a 20-year period was “otherwise exemplary,” the court said.
Now 67 years old, Eakin is a Republican who joined the state’s highest court in 2002. He earlier apologized and said the emails did not reflect his true character.
Related coverage: “Another justice of Pennsylvania’s top court faces ethics complaint linked to ‘Porngate’” “Pennsylvania justice retires amid email controversy”



Judge who reduced verdict from $5M to $1M, expecting campaign gift, gets 10 years in bribe case

Michael Maggio
Michael Maggio. Image from Arkansas Judiciary.
A former Arkansas judge was sentenced Thursday to a maximum 10-year prison term for admittedly reducing a jury verdict in the expectation of a contribution to his planned campaign for a state appeals court seat.
Michael Maggio, now 54, lost his seat on the Faulkner County Circuit Court bench after the reason for his reduction of a $5.2 million nursing home verdict to $1 million came to light. However, at least for now, he has not been ordered by U.S. District Judge Brian Miller to pay the $4.2 million in restitution that federal prosecutors sought, according to the Arkansas Blog of the Arkansas Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Miller said he wanted the sentence in the Little Rock case to reflect the harm Maggio had done.
“What’s worse: a drug dealer on the corner or a dirty judge?” the judge said Thursday. “A dirty judge is far more harmful to society than a dope dealer.”
Maggio opted not to speak in court. His lawyer, James Hensley, told reporters that Maggio plans to appeal.
Related coverage: “Ex-judge gives up law license after taking plea in federal bribery case over jury verdict”


North Carolina governor signs law regulating transgender bathroom use at government facilities

Mar 24, 2016, 1:43 pm CDT

Was law school worth it? Only 20% of recent grads strongly agree, pilot study says

Mar 24, 2016, 10:43 am CDT


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