Sunday, November 17, 2013

More Lawyers Behaving Badly

When in doubt, blame the lawyers in movies and TV shows, unless they are devoured in outhouses by dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Enough lawyers screw up to give the rest of us a bad image. Here’s a few recent examples. John Bruster Loyd filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines on behalf of his clients, Luke Cash and Ami Gallagher. The claim was that they were passengers on the Carnival cruise ship, Triumph, last February when it was stranded at sea without services and amenities. Their wedding had allegedly been scuttled because of the ship’s breakdown. The loving coupe had never been adrift at sea for a week because they were never passengers on the Triumph. They were on land when an engine fire cut off the ship’s power supply. So much for their “deplorable, unsafe, and unsanitary conditions!” Loyd’s response was that he made a mistake, and proceeded to file an amended complaint against the cruise line. The saying is that lawyers who represent themselves have a fool for a client. Divorce and custody disputes can bring out the worse in people, including lawyers. Daniel Evan Schorr of New York didn’t expect his 4 year old son’s reaction on the Tuesday visitation night. He wanted to take his son to the Corner CafĂ© on Third Avenue, but the child demanded his American right of McDonalds. The child threw a temper tantrum. Daniel responded by saying either any restaurant but McDonalds or no dinner. The child chose no dinner. Daniel’s action is unwise in the ongoing divorce and child custody proceedings. The soon-to-be ex Mrs. Schorr won bonus points with Junior by taking him to McDonalds, but that’s not how the McDonalds saga ended. A court appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Marilyn Schiller, filed a report saying Daniel was “wholly incapable of taking care of his son.” Schorr’s degrees from NYU and Oxford apparently did not provide him with wisdom. He has now filed a defamation suit against Dr. Schiller. A hearing is scheduled in December to determine if Daniel Schorr is a fit parent. Some lawyers are recidivist over-billers. Ney McDaniel, a contract lawyer for the Iowa public defender’s office, billed for more than 24 hours on 80 days. The state claims $178,000 in improper payments. Ben Swift, a court appointed attorney in Dayton, billed courts for indigent defense clients an average of nine hours per day, seven days a week for 365 straight days. Another clichĂ© is that “The law is a jealous mistress,” but this one billed 29 hours for one day and over 20 hours for other days. It is theoretically possible to bill for 27 hours in one day by flying from the east coast to the west coast, but Ben was staying in Dayton. Tal Rappleyea of Kinderhook, New York represented several towns and Columbia County in New York. He billed the multiple clients 24.75 hours on June 14, 2010 and 26 hours on September 26, 2010. It may not be a record but he billed for 93.75 hours in one week in September. None of this though matched the antics of two married lawyers, Jill and Kent Easter, in Orange County, California. Kelli Peters was the PTO President and an-after hours volunteer at Playa Vista Elementary School. Jill was upset when Kelli was slow in bringing the Easter’s son to the front after school ended one afternoon in February 2010. They got into a verbal confrontation in which Jill said “I’ll get you” to Kelli. Kent, or was it Jill, drove to the Peters home early on February 16, 2011 and planted a bad of drugs in Kelli’s unlocked PT Cruiser. The plastic sandwich bag contained 40 Vicodin and Percocet pills, 17 grams of marijuana, and a marijuana pipe. He later phoned the police claiming he had seen Peters driving erratically in the school’s parking lot. Police detained Kelli for two hours, gave her a field sobriety check, and searched her house with her permission. They found no evidence that she used or possessed drugs, and did not arrest her. The investigating officer smelt a rat. The lawyers did it. Further investigation showed that the call was made from the Business Center at the Island Hotel Newport Beach, a few blocks from Kent’s office. Video cameras showed a man looking like Kent entering and leaving the business center. DNA from the Easters, but not the Peters, was found on the pills. Kent has admitted to making the phone call. The police also found plastic bags matching the planted bag in the Easter’s residence. Jill Easter pled guilty to one count of false imprisonment two weeks ago. Kent is currently on trial on the same charge. He’s been fired from his firm, and the once loving couple have separated. Both will lose their law licenses. Her degrees are from Berkeley and Boalt Hall; his from Stanford and UCLA Law School, proving once again that pedigree is no guarantee of intelligence. There may be no honor among thieves or married lawyers. Kent’s defense is that he was bullied by Jill; he lacks a backbone, or as we would say in the O.C. “cojones.” He claims to be the trusting husband of a dishonest wife, who also cheated on him. He also asserts Jill panted the drugs.

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