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Should Your Client Take Acting Lessons?

Oscar Pistorius, now on trial for murdering his girlfriend, has become famous for his outward signs of grief and anguish, including weeping and throwing up. Are the tears genuine? Is the vomit mere crocodile vomit? Who can tell? But he is putting on such a show that he's just been accused of taking acting lessons.

Huh, Acting Lessons? Good idea?

Should your client take acting lessons? Let's answer that question with a question, a question likely to be asked by opposing counsel. That question is, "Is it true that in preparation for your testimony here today, you took acting lessons?!?!"

It was pretty stupid, getting behind the wheel after drinking. It's bad enough when a layperson does it, but you're a lawyer -- you know the penalties and you have more at stake.

Fair enough. We came to help Caesar, not to lecture him. Here are a few things you'll need to think about now:

Sorry, we've always wanted to use one of those titles. But seriously, you really won't.

Jennifer Gaubert is a lawyer, a radio host, and a self-described "public figure." She also reportedly tried to sleep with a cab driver while very, very drunk. None of this is remarkable, or something we'd ordinarily care about, but then the courts got involved.

The cab driver, Hervey Farell, accused her of assault, as she allegedly grabbed his genitals. She has since been convicted, thanks to his videotaping of the encounter.

A year later, she filed alleged false accusations of him trying to extort money for the video. This led to his arrest, negative press coverage, and a temporary loss of work. He's now suing both her and the New Orleans Police Department, while she faces felony charges for the false accusations.

If Jerk.com [via Internet Archive] wasn't dead before, its fate is nearly sealed now.

The no longer online website just got slapped with an administrative complaint [PDF] by the Federal Trade Commission. Jerk allegedly violated Facebook's terms of service by scraping individuals' photos and names without their or Facebook's permission, allowing the site to create profiles for at least 73 million individuals. Visitors could vote "Jerk" or "Not Jerk," and leave comments. Most importantly, the site charged for memberships, implying that the purchase would allow the person to delete or edit their profile.

But it didn't.

Somewhere around page 11, we lost count of how many clients, former clients, and almost clients Mr. Randy J. Fuerst slept with. The opinion recounts a legion of divorcees that paraded through his office, and his bed, though in the end, despite the ethics opinion repeatedly stating that his adulterous activity with former or almost clients, he's only on the hook for violations with one client: MRW, since she was the only romantic partner with which he maintained a significant personal and professional relationship simultaneously.

Fuerst's frolics led to a 30 day fully-stayed suspension, a reduced order of costs (since the disciplinary board failed to prove the vast majority of the alleged ethics violations), and an appeals case about intentional infliction of emotional distress via adultery. Plus, a minor reputation hit, since his story is making the rounds on the legal blogs. (H/T to the Legal Profession Blog especially.)

Award-winning Judge Brian MacKenzie, of Novi, Michigan (a Detroit suburb) is back in the news again, and just like last time, it's because of misconduct allegations.

When we last caught up with Judge MacKenzie, he had just lost control over his entire docket, due to allegedly ignoring the law, handing out illegal sentences, hiding and sealing case files, and tweaking court transcripts to avoid the problem of having prosecutors present during sentencing. No big deal, right?

This time, a secret recording from four years ago, where he appears to pressure a defendant into dropping a police brutality lawsuit, has come back to haunt him.

It is stupid to falsify legal documents instead of admitting your mistake and requesting accommodations from opposing counsel.

It's even more stupid to get caught due to electronic service of documents with metadata indicating the true date that the document was created. And it's downright idiotic to copy previous certificates of service from the same case and try to pass them off as authentic.

Jeffrey McGinness, a former NCAA national champion in wresting and Iowa attorney, probably knows how stupid his conduct was, and if he doesn't, he'll have six months to figure it out. He was suspended by the Iowa Supreme Court after lying about discovery requests, first to opposing counsel, then to the trial court, before finally accepting responsibility after the parties uncovered his ruse. (H/T to the Legal Profession Blog.)

There's been a lot of news about kids getting into trouble on social media -- so much so that California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would allow minors to erase their Internet history. But what about when your kids post about their parents' lives?

Patrick Snay learned the hard way that his daughter's Facebook posts can haunt him too.

This is a question that has been bugging us since Perry and Windsor: if officials don't agree with a law, do they have the right to refuse to defend it? It seems like a silly question. After all, state attorneys general and other officials typically swear to uphold and defend the laws and constitutions of their respective governments.

But, we've seen state after state drop their defense of same sex marriage bans. Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder gave his stamp of approval to any other state officials who wish to back down from the fight. Meanwhile, other state officials, such as North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, have publicly stated that despite their personal feelings, they are required to fight to uphold their states' laws.

What's the right answer, or better yet, is there a right answer?

How does an award-winning judge, who is ironically the elected head of the American Judges Association (an organization that promotes best practices on the bench), lose total control of his docket?

No big deal. He just, allegedly, ignored the law, handed out illegal sentences, hid or sealed case files, and tweaked court transcripts.

Now, Novi District Judge Brian MacKenzie has been bench-slapped to extent rarely seen, with the Circuit Court seizing control of his docket, ordering him to provide records of all delayed or suspended sentences since 2004, and more. We're not sure what's worse: this neutered and publicly-reprimanded judge, or the one who was chased off the bench and had his case referred to the Department of Justice.