Tag Archive | "law"

The Jock Itch Defense

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The Jock Itch Defense


We are protected from unwanted  sexual behavior in our place of employment.  We have the right to be free of unwanted sexual advances,  sexual innuendo,  demands for sex in exchange for job advancement or keeping a job. The list goes on and on. There is an entire body of law and several Supreme Court decisions that give  us that protection and tell us what we should do if we are harassed.  If you are to believe two New York Police Department(NYPD) male police officers we are also protected from unwanted crotch itch.  That’s right. if your co-worker does more ball handling than Steve Nash you can get him fired and  sue for sexual harassment.

A gay NYPD lieutenant was recently found guilty by NYPD of sexually harassing two male sergeants.  Lt. Kieran Crowe, a 23-year NYPD veteran, was  initially suspended 60 days without pay for rubbing his crotch, simulating masturbation and wiggling his tongue at the male sergeants.  Crowe admitted that he may have scratched his groin area, but said it was because he suffered from “jock itch”. He even had a note from his doctor.  The “jockered” cops have now filed a federal sexual harassment suit against Crowe.  Crowe’s attorney stated:

“Does it make sense that this gentle, homosexual man would seek to coerce and seduce two large, burly heterosexuals?”

Believe it or not “crotch grab” harassment is not unusual. It unfortunately is a common gesture used by  neanderthals to reach a higher sexual and intellectual plane.  What is the message being sent with the “grab”?  If the message is, “I shouldn’t have slept with that girl last night” then the intent is probably not to sexually harass. The guy should get some powder and a penicillin shot.  In Crowe’s case however he was allegedly doing it whenever he was in the presence of these two ‘jockophobic” sergeants and was also moaning loudly whenever he scratched.

Should this “crotchety” police officer been canned?  There are those who would argue that “crotch-grabbing” has actually become the in thing among the Hollywood elite as a sign of respect for co-workers.  This trend was allegedly started by Oliver Stone and Josh Brolin during the filming of the movie “W“.  Brolin insisted his co-stars break up serious scenes by flipping off the director and grabbing their crotches.  I wonder if Stone and Brolin will be called as experts in crotch grabbing at Crowe’s the civil trial.

I suspect that Crowe’s dismissal will be overturned and he will be reinstated to the NYPD.   Hopefully minus his jock itch.

Motto of story?  If it doesn’t itch you must acquit.

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Paying For Twinkies With Your Life

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Paying For Twinkies With Your Life


Jose Luis Gonzalez is 63 years old. His trailer home has been broken into several times.  He is sick and tired of it.  15 year old Jesus Soto, 13 year old Francisco Anguiano and two other teenage boys were prowling his neighborhood one night. They were hungry.  Word must have been out that the Gonzalez trailer was an easy mark for free food. The boys decided to let themselves in and help themselves. They apparently thought  the coast was clear.  Gonzalez was in a nearby building at the time.  He returned home and confronted the boys with a 16-gauge shotgun.  Soto testified at trial that they were all unarmed.  Soto testified that Gonzalez forced them all to their knees.  There was testimony that the boys begged for forgiveness while Gonzalez hit them with the barrel of the shotgun and kicked them repeatedly.  Gonzalez then shot and killed 13 year old Anguiano.  Gonzalez was charged with the murder.

At trial Gonzalez testified that  he thought Anguiano was lunging at him when he fired the shotgun. The medical examiner testified that Anguiano was shot in the back at close range. There was testimony that  two mashed Twinkies and some cookies belonging to Gonzalez were stuffed in the pockets of his Anguianos’s shorts.

It was the opinion of the  Assistant District Attorney that the Texas “Castle Law” did not apply. He stated:

“What really took place here was a case of vigilantism. A 13-year-old boy was killed because a man was enraged.

What is  the Texas Castle Doctrine? Here is an overview:

In 1995, the Texas Legislature created an exception to a 1973 statute, which required a person to retreat in the face of a criminal attack. The exception allowed a person to use force without retreat when an intruder unlawfully entered their home. Is this what happened in this situation? The law also extends a person’s right to stand their ground beyond the home to vehicles and workplaces. The Castle Law allowing the reasonable use of deadly force when an intruder is:

  • Committing certain violent crimes, such as murder or sexual assault, or is attempting to commit such crimes;
  • Unlawfully trying to enter a protected place; or
  • Unlawfully trying to remove a person from a protected place.

The law also provides civil immunity for a person who lawfully uses deadly force in the above circumstances.

It took the jury of eight men and four women three hours Friday to find Jose Luis Gonzalez  not guilty of murdering 13 year old Anguiano. Should Mr. Gonzalez should have been acquitted?  This sounds more like a “gangland” execution than a person afraid for his life.   It is not clear how Aguiano who was on his knees could have “lunged” at Gonzalez and get shot in the back.  Did he rise up and hop backwards at him?   If anyone was afraid for their lives it was the subdued teenagers as they were being kicked and beaten by Gonzalez.

Unfortunately  for Francisco Anguiano the  Texas Castle Doctrine statute does not distinguish between Twinkies,  jewelry or a plasma television.  The statute does not impose any circumstances to define when something transitions from a deadly force situation to the requirement of a non-deadly response.  There is no question that the boys entered his home unlawfully.  Under the statute he had no duty to retreat. He had no duty to ask them  what they were doing there. He had no duty to call the police. He had no duty to ask the to leave.  He had no obligation to anything or anyone but the danger he perceived himself in even if that perception was flawed.   Assistant District Attorney Uriel Druker maintained during his closing arguments that the case was not about homeowners’ right to protect their property, but about when a person is justified in using deadly force to do so.

Druker’s argument seems reasonable but is legislatively flawed.  The legislature passed the Castle Law in part so homeowners would not have to go through that thought process before defending themselves.  If someone enters your home unlawfully  the intent is to do you harm. End of story.  A story however with many unwritten chapters and thousands of possible scenarios in between.  After his acquittal Gonzalez said he was sorry for Anguiano’s death, but “it was a situation in which I feared for my life.”

Did the venue matter?  Laredo is town plagued by cross-border Mexican drug cartel violence.  Fears are high.  Tempers are short. Triggers are quick.  Juries both empathize and sympathize with residents under siege.  It should also be noted that Gonzalez’s attorney Isidro “Chilo” Alaniz, is running unopposed for district attorney.  That  does not bode well for any future hungry kids looking for a free snack.

Motto of Story?  If you live in Texas steal your Twinkies from the local 7-11.  You will live longer.

Here is another example of how far Texas grand juries and juries are willing to go to protect homeowners T In June, a grand jury in Houston cleared a homeowner who shot and killed two burglars outside his neighbor’s house despite the dispatcher’s repeated request that he stay inside his own home.  The video is below.

Man Shoots Thieves Robbing Neighbor’s House; 911 Tapes Released

Posted in Law and OrderComments (7)

Death Of A Salesman

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Death Of A Salesman


The world of professional headhunting is highly competitive.  The competition for highly skilled candidates can be  fierce.  Here is a legal recruiter who put his own spin on the phrase “aggressive recruiting”.  This is a real email sent to me that is a road map on everything not to do when cold calling or emailing potential candidates for a position.   No in-depth analysis is needed as the email speaks for itself.  The attorney’s retort is classic.  The only changes to the email is the redaction of the attorney’s name to protect his/her privacy and “Dicks” email address to save him any further embarrassment.   If it is any consolation to “Dick” the world needs ditch diggers too.

Start at the bottom of the page.

From: Irritated Attorney(real name redacted)
Sent: Wed 8/20/2008 5:27 PM
To: redacted@earthlink.net
Subject: RE: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

And, I only have time for serious recruiters.  Perhaps you should invest in something other than an earthlink address.  Maybe a web page is too much to ask?

You know, Dick…  Is it okay if I call you “Dick”?  While we are tossing around suggestions…  You should probably rethink your approach to client development.  I don’t think making demands, insulting practicing attorneys, and not respecting the privacy of potential clients is the right road to travel in the promising world of legal recruiting.  But, hey, what do I know?  I’m just an unserious attorney who doesn’t hop to it when some random guy with a gmail address (sorry, “earthlink”) demands that I create a curriculum vitae on the spot.  Yep.  Not at all serious…

All the worst,

Irritated Attorney

________________________________

From: redacted@earthlink.net [mailto:redacted@earthlink.net]
Sent: Wed 8/20/2008 4:26 PM
To: Irritated Attorney
Subject: Re: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

I only have time for serious attorneys. Perhaps you need to get back to your
billing.

REPLY APPRECIATED
RICHARD K. EASTBURN
PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION
Legal Recruiting Professionals
Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC
redacted@earthlink.net
—– Original Message —–
From: Irritated Attorney
To: “redacted@earthlink.net” <redacted@earthlink.net>
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 2:17 PM
Subject: RE: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

Your email below implies that you have a “new practice opportunity”
available.  I’m willing to listen.  That’s all.  I don’t have an updated CV.
I’m not going to take the time to create one until I hear what you are
offering in the way of a “new practice opportunity.”

Call me tomorrow.  Please stop emailing my work address regarding this or
any related matter.

Thanks,

Irritated Attorney

________________________________

From: redacted@earthlink.net [mailto:redacted@earthlink.net]
Sent: Wed 8/20/2008 4:16 PM
To: Irritated Attorney
Subject: Re: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

Please forward a CV and I will be happy to discuss further.

REPLY APPRECIATED
RICHARD K. EASTBURN
PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION
Legal Recruiting Professionals
Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC
redacted@earthlink.net
—– Original Message —–
From: Irritated Attorney
To: “redacted@earthlink.net” <redacted@earthlink.net>
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 1:29 PM
Subject: RE: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

Call me tomorrow. (number redacted)
________________________________

From: redacted@earthlink.net [mailto:redacted@earthlink.net]
Sent: Wed 8/20/2008 3:18 PM
To: Irritated Attorney
Subject: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

If you are in the market for a new practice opportunity, this is an
excellent time for discussion.

REPLY APPRECIATED
RICHARD K. EASTBURN
PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION
Legal Recruiting Professionals
Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC
redacted@earthlink.net

Posted in UncategorizedComments (4)

Did Nancy Grace Kill Melinda Duckett?

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Did Nancy Grace Kill Melinda Duckett?


Nancy Grace is abrasive, confrontational and arrogant.  There is no one better in the tabloid legal arena of taking content worth 15 minutes of coverage and stretching it into a interminable Law and Order style interrogation.  Nancy has been known to rattle even the most seasoned attorney. Nancy can be tiring.   When a case has been beaten to death so badly even vultures have stopped circling we can count on Nancy to find a crime scene stalker, expert witness wannabe or friend of a friend of the maid’s sister’s friend to interview.  Her coverage of the Natalee Holloway disappearance was agonizingly redundant. No horse was spared.  For better or worse this is Nancy’s style.  It has made her the queen of tabloid legal.  She understands that the first rule of tabloid television is to create content when there is little or nothing left to talk about.  This is done by creating, prolonging or exaggerating controversy.  Without the ability to consistently create content in this manner tabloid shows would consist of 20 minutes of Youtube video.   Content must be created daily. It must draw the audience in and then drive them to  the next episode.  Nancy is an expert at this.  Many a witness, person of interest and experienced attorney has walked into her studio with confidence hoping to tell a story.  Many have left with a grimace and a sign that says “You Are The Story Sucker!”  stuck on their back.  Nancy  does not back down.  She has been accused of going too far with her guests. The family of Melinda Duckett think so.  They have sued Nancy and CNN to make the point.

Melinda Duckett was a troubled single mother.  There was  a contentious divorce from Joshua Duckett, the father of her son Trenton.  There was an on-going custody battle.  By all reports she lived a chaotic life. This included alleged involvement in an online amateur porn business including some disturbing images of her allegedly posing nude on her son Trenton’s crib.

On August 27, 2006 Melinda contacted the police and  reported Trenton missing.  She claimed someone had entered her residence and kidnapped him.  An Amber Alert style search for Trenton ensued. The focus of the investigation eventually turned to Melinda. The initial theory being that she had handed the child off to someone she knew.  Melinda was eventually narrowed down to the sole person of interest.  This is nothing new in these types of scenarios.  Statistics overwhelmingly point to a primary care giver or other family member.   A kidnapping by a stranger is a statistical rarity.   Melinda adamantly denied any involvement.  The case became the focus of intense national media scrutiny.  As would be expected the entire tabloid machine quickly revved into jet motion looking for any angle to create content and keep the drama alive until resolution for better or worse.

Melinda was approached by representatives of The Nancy Grace show.  Melinda and Josh Duckett agreed to do the show.  On September 8th Melinda and Josh Duckett appeared on the show.   A review of the show transcript reveals a fairly even keel interview until Nancy begins to  hammer Melinda about her refusal to take a polygraph exam.   Josh Duckett had already taken two and passed.  Nancy’s legal guests chime in.  They all but accuse Melinda of lying about Trenton’s disappearance.  Melinda begins to fluster and stammer.  You can read the transcript here.

Melinda Duckett walked into the interview with Nancy Grace hoping to tell her story.  Melinda left the interview considered the prime suspect by both law enforcement and the tabloid public.  Was Melinda naive, stupid or calculating in what she hoped to achieve?   In a battle of wits the war was lost to Nancy before Melinda ever did the interview.  It was no contest.   We will never know what Melinda’s true motives were.  A day after the taping Melinda Duckett committed suicide.

The Duckett family has brought a wrongful death suit against CNN and Nancy Grace.  They allege that Nancy lured an unsuspecting and emotionally unstable Melinda in the interview under false pretenses. They allege that it was Nancy’s plan all along to ambush Melinda, painting her as the prime suspect in her son’s disappearance.  It was the  emotional distress brought on by her aggressive questioning that caused of Melinda to kill herself.

Did Nancy Grace do anything wrong?   As  rhetorical as the question seems, there is precedent for an extremely “gracious” verdict.   In 1999 The Jenny Jones Show was ordered to pay 25 millions dollars to the family of Scott Amedure.  Jonathan Schmitz killed Scott three days after Amedure revealed his secret crush on Schmitz during a taping of a “same-sex, secret crush” episode of the show.  The Ducketts should not be getting too excited over similar prospects.   The Amedures had the benefit of an extremely friendly jury instruction.  It stated that the negligence of the Jenny Jones show only had to be “a cause” of the circumstances leading up to the killing of Scott Amerdure.   The Amedures  never collected on the verdict.  It was thrown out by an appeals court.  The court stated that Jenny Jones show owed no duty to protect Scott Amdedure.

In 2002 The Jerry Springer Show was sued by the son of a guest who was murdered just hours after the segment was broadcast.  Nancy Campbell-Panitz was murdered by her ex-husband after they appeared on a May 2000 episode in which he revealed that he had secretly remarried.  The lawsuit alleges that the Springer Show created a “mood that led to murder”.

Did Nancy Grace have a duty to protect Melinda Duckett from herself or at least warn her of the show’s agenda?   Did she “create a mood” that led to suicide?   Melinda Duckett had a troubled life long before she met Nancy Grace.  Linda Duckett knew she was a person of interest in the disappearance of her son before she agreed to do the show.  Linda Duckett  voluntarily did the interview. She could have stopped it at any time.  Melinda was outgunned and over-matched.  It is unclear how that translates into a duty to warn her of anything.  Nancy should not be to cocky about victory.  A federal judge recently denied a motion to dismiss the case.  It looks like Nancy is going to get pleasure of being grilled by an attorney who will probably be abrasive, confrontational and arrogant.  They will have a lot in common.

Nancy Grace is guilty. She is guilty of being Nancy Grace.   While that might be a death sentence to some watching her show it has worked for well for her over the years.  Neither her nor CNN owed any duty to warn Melinda Duckett that Nancy would be tough on her.   It is difficult to imagine a realistic scenario in which they would affirmatively create such a duty unless Melinda told them she was going to harm herself if Nancy were too hard on her.  The Ducketts will probably not be getting that same “Jenny Jones jury love”. Trenton Ducket is still missing…..

Posted in Law and OrderComments (31)

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