Tag Archives: lowering the bar

Lincoln mashup?

Once again, Lowering the Bar takes the cake when it comes to finding, or making, fun in the legal world

Sure, you could spend years actually developing a reputation for trustworthiness and plain-spoken honesty, or you could just Photoshop your head onto the body of somebody who’s already done that.

This lawyer in the Philadelphia area has chosen the more direct route.

I don’t think there are any ethical problems with this advertisement, assuming it doesn’t mislead people by falsely implying that the lawyer specializes in a particular area, like maybe rail-splitting or suspending the writ of habeas corpus. Otherwise, it may be tacky, but there’s no First Amendment exception for tacky.

via Your Head + Lincoln’s Body = Instant Credibility – Lowering the Bar.

But why stop there with the attorney shenanigans?

Share your story of the weird, obnoxious, accidental, and funny stories about lawyers in the comments below. (and I’m curious to see if we get any at all…)



When English Fails to Describe…a Photocopy Machine

Can you identify this machine?

Too much fun is to be had in depositions. The below transcript was reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Lowering the Bar, via the WSJ Law Blog).

The dispute, before the Ohio Supreme Court, is over the costs for photocopying in the Cuyahoga County Clerk’s office. Currently, they are $28 for the first two pages and $8 for every page thereafter.

Yeah. And you thought paper was expensive at Kinkos.

Enter the lawyers for the deposition:

Plaintiffs’ Lawyer: During your tenure in the computer department at the Recorder’s office, has the Recorder’s office had photocopying machines?

Deponent’s Lawyer: Objection.

PL: Any photocopying machine?

Deponent: When you say “photocopying machine,” what do you mean?

PL: Let me be — let me make sure I understand your question. You don’t have an understanding of what a photocopying machine is?

D: No. I want to make sure that I answer your question correctly….When you say “photocopying machine,” what do you mean?

PL: Let me be clear. The term “photocopying machine” is so ambiguous that you can’t picture in your mind what a photocopying machine is in an office setting?

D: I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.

PL: Well, we’ll find out. If you can say yes or no, I can do follow-ups, but it seems — if you really don’t know in an office setting what a photocopying machine is, I’d like the Ohio Supreme Court to hear you say so.

D: I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.

DL: There’s different types of photocopiers, Dave.


And it gets better.

D: I’m sorry. I didn’t know what that meant. I understand that there are photocopying machines, and there are different types of them just like –

PL: Are there any in the Recorder’s office?

D: — there are different cars. Some of them run under gas power, some of them under electric power, and I’m asking if you could help me out by explaining what you mean by “photocopying machines” –-

PL: That’s a great point.

D: — instead of trying to make me feel stupid.

PL: If you feel stupid, it’s not because I’m making you feel that way.

DL: Objection.

But wait! There’s more!

PL: Have you ever–do you have machines there where I can put in a paper document, push a button or two, and out will come copies of that paper document also on paper? Do you have such a machine?

D: Yes, sir.

PL: What do you call that machine?

Patterson: Xerox.

PL: Xerox. Is the machine made by the Xerox Company? Is that why it’s called Xerox?

D: No.

PL: So Xerox, in the parlance that you’ve described, the language that you’ve described, is being used generically as opposed to describing a particular brand; is that right?

D: All of my life I’ve just known people to say Xerox. It’s not commonplace to use the terminology that you’re using.

PL: You mean it’s more — people say Xerox instead of photocopy?

D: If you’re referring to a type of machine where you place a piece of paper on the top and press a button and out comes copies of it, they usually refer to it as a Xerox.

PL: Have you ever heard it referred to as photocopying?

D: Not with my generation, no.

Stupid is as stupid does. No wonder it costs $28 for the first two copies. No one in the office knows what a photocopy machine is.

Check it out. It goes on for 10 pages. At the end of it, I can’t tell whether anyone is more enlightened for the discussion.

(h/t to Lowering the Bar)

When reason fails, let ridicule carry the day…?

Last week, I shared a post about a bipartisan effort in Utah to increase civility, especially in political discourse, but also in every aspect of every day life. It’s the Utah Civility and Community 2011 campaign.

Do we always need to be civil, though? Is there a time and place for rudeness? Today, a contact of mine in the Twitter-sphere suggested there is a time and place for acting without civility.

Be that as it may, I’m not convinced we have to surrender civility in very many situations. Today, I might have found one. At least, I might have found a couple people that truly merit public ridicule and have, by their actions, earned it.

As reported at Lowering the Bar, a judge overseeing a divorce case explained that the couple before him had reached that point in his court room. “The parties repeatedly have shown they are immune to reason,” Judge Joseph Quinn wrote. “Consequently, in my decision, I have tried ridicule as a last resort.”

Judge Joseph Quinn wrote that the problem in the case before him was simple: hatred. “[A] hardened, harmful, high-octane hatred. . . . Here, a husband and wife have been marinating in a mutual hatred so intense as to surely amount to a personality order requiring treatment.” As just a couple of examples, Larry seems to have enjoyed driving by Catherine’s house and giving her the finger, and Catherine once tried to run Larry over with a van, “always a telltale sign that a husband and wife are drifting apart.”

I hope you’re picking up the sarcasm, because the judge is laying it down pretty thick. And he was just getting started:

Sadly, these people had children, who they seem to have freely manipulated as part of their ongoing battles. Larry is described as having a “near-empty parenting toolbox,” while Catherine provided the kids with “advanced animosity tutoring.” Also charming: an incident in which Catherine texted her daughter while she was visiting her father and asked, “Is Dickhead there?”

Dickhead’s penchant for the middle-finger drive-by also resulted in a good quote: “A finger is worth a thousand words,” the judge wrote, “and therefore is particularly useful should one have a vocabulary of less than a thousand words.”

However glad he was to see them out of his court room, Judge Quinn was equitable: custody went to mom, and dad was ordered to pay child support of $1 a month.

What do you think? Was the judge lacking in civility, or, perhaps, was he exercising some well articulated criticism of a couple people who need it?

Rather than a partisan attempt to silence dissent, the Utah Civility and Community 2011 is an authentic effort to raise the level of intelligent discussion and debate by promotion of principles of civility in how we articulate our opinions and interact with each other. We could all learn the lesson to be civil when pressure increases and stakes are high (and even when stakes are not). It’s not easy, but I do think it will improve our politics, our relationships, and our society.

Many thanks to Lowering the Bar for noting the case. For the whole opinion, and the nuggets of snark therein, click here.

“Judge Who Lost Pants Forced to Rely on Briefs”

I can’t help it.  The headline is too funny to avoid stealing it from “Lowering the Bar.” I’ll give them the credit, though, and the whole story:

When we last saw Roy, in July 2009, he was losing his wrongful-termination case against the District of Columbia, his former boss, and others, a case he filed after he was not reappointed to another term as a D.C. administrative law judge.  See Judge Who Lost Pants Loses Another Suit,” Lowering the Bar (July 31, 2009).  The decision not to reappoint him may or may not have had something to do with Pearson’s valiant years-long battle with his dry cleaners over an allegedly lost pair of pants, which made national headlines largely due to Pearson’s demand for 65 million dollars in compensation.  He always insisted it was not about the pants, and later reduced his demand to $54 million, apparently in order to make that point.  See Judge Drops Pants; Suit Still On,” Lowering the Bar (June 6, 2007).  He lost anyway.

But a loss has never deterred Roy Pearson, Jr., and the more he loses the more not-deterred he seems to be.  Today’s report involves his appeal in the wrongful-termination case, which was dismissed by the lower court.  That is not going to change on appeal, an opinion that I think is reinforced by the D.C. Circuit’s cancellation of the scheduled oral argument, which was to have taken place tomorrow (May 11).  The court said it had decided that oral argument in the matter was unnecessary, and that it would decide the appeal based on the briefs.  This is generally a bad sign for the party with the weaker argument, which in this case, as in pretty much every case, is Roy Pearson.

C’mon, really?  This is too funny to be fiction.  You can’t make this stuff up!

(via Lowering the Bar)

No one wants to read law reviews…

The great thing about the legal blogs out there is that they make the law into something that law reviews and court rulings cannot – something interesting to read.

Here are a few of the blogs that I like to read from time to time, in no particular order:

  • Popehat: a random assortment of items, often about the law, often about whatever gripes the authors have on their minds.  It bills itself as “A GROUP COMPLAINT ABOUT LAW, LIBERTY, AND LEISURE.”  For example “Stay Classy, Nike” takes issue with Nike’s continued support for Tiger.
  • Simple Justice: is the blog of a New York criminal defense attorney… or at least about criminal defense.  Interesting post, on occasion, such as “Promise Unkept” about lawyers being behind the times on technology, or “Prosecutor as a social engineer” about the enforcement of sex education laws in Wisconsin.
  • Above the Law: it covers news from across the spectrum, but especially news from the big firms and law schools.  One notable post I read recently is “What’s your brand?
  • Lowering the Bar: it’s all about what’s funny about the law, and usually features the laughable that comes out of court and those who practice there.  Recently they noted that Kazakhstan is looking for a new dean for its law school (did you even know it had a law school?).