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Legal Ease

December 12, 2011

For those of you who, like me, can get frustrated at how much idiocy pervades the legal system (whether or not you’ve voluntarily taken a position to be exposed to it constantly), there is a blog you should know about! Lowering the Bar has some delightful snippets that lawyers and non-lawyers can appreciate, even if–or perhaps especially if–you never want to even hear of another lawyer again. Think of it as the Darwin Awards for lawyers. For example, who wouldn’t appreciate a gem like this?

Joan Newberger v. Department of Wildlife & Fishery, State of Louisiana, Case No. 2:11 cv 2996 (E.D. La. (New Orleans), filed Dec. 8, 2011). Lawsuit for American with Disabilities Act violations and wrongful seizure. The plaintiff’s four service monkeys were taken from her as she attempted to change their diapers and feed them on Bourbon Street.

Or this other lawsuit filed, also by a pro seplaintiff (i.e., the person doesn’t have a lawyer):

Ray Miles v. State of Kansas; Kansas Highway Patrol; Capitol Police, Case No. 5:11 cv 4180 (D. Kan. (Topeka), filed Dec. 8, 2011). Petition to be ‘left the f*ck alone’ where the defendants harassed the plaintiff for ‘no reason.’ $100 million demanded.

And I found plenty to giggle at in their year-end round-up, A Year of Lowering the Bar.  For example,
Dec. 9, 2008: The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejects Senator Larry Craig’s argument that his airport-bathroom-stall conduct is protected by the First Amendment. The court holds that “even if Appellant’s foot-tapping and the movement of his foot toward the undercover officer’s stall are considered ‘speech,’ they would be intrusive speech directed at a captive audience, and the government may [therefore] prohibit them.”


Mar. 9, 2009: The California Court of Appeal rules that a contract for which there is no consideration is not enforceable even if it is written in blood.


June 30, 2009: A California court holds that a man who tripped and fell into the giant bonfire that ends the Burning Man festival in Nevada cannot sue the organizers for failing to keep him away from the fire. The man admitted he knew “fire was dangerous and caused burns” before he approached one, and the court holds that he therefore assumed the risk of injury.


Sept. 14, 2009: The U.S. Tax Court rules against tax attorney William Halby, who has claimed amounts he spent for what he calls “intimate therapy” services as deductions for “medical expenses.” The court points out that paying for this kind of “therapy” is illegal in New York. It also criticizes Halby for failing to get itemized receipts.


Oct. 1, 2009: The Wall Street Journal reports that Justice Scalia has praised counsel appearing before the Court but expressed concern that so many good people are becoming lawyers: “[T]here’d be a . . . public defender from Podunk, you know, and this woman is really brilliant . . . . Why isn’t she out inventing the automobile or, you know, doing something productive for this society? I mean, lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom. That’s important, but it doesn’t put food on the table . . . . And I worry that we are devoting too many of our very best minds to this enterprise.”


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