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A woman accused of shoplifting spends a week in jail because she can't post a $2,000 bond. A man is sent to Riker's Island for three weeks because he can't afford $1,500 in bail. His alleged crime? Possessing a soda straw, which police officers said was illegal drug paraphernalia. Both have been identified as victims of the "bail trap." That's the system through which prosecutors use requests for high bail -- a few thousand for a misdemeanor here, a million for a homicide there -- to pressure defendants into taking a plea agreement.

But one judge in Texas is issuing her own protest against the tactic. When prosecutors asked Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown to set a $1 million bond, the judge changed the amount to $4 billion. Yes, billion with a B.

If you're scrambling to finish up your continuing legal education credits before a compliance deadline, or just want to make sure you're on top of the latest legal developments, here's one thing to keep in mind: you don't have to shell out a lot of cash, or trudge over to a conference center, in order to get CLE credits.

In fact, there are several high-quality CLE programs out there which will help you continue your legal education without having to leave your office -- or your couch. And because they're on-demand, you can complete them on your own schedule. Here are a few.

A witness's testimony may make you want to scoff, roll your eyes, or stick out your tongue, but try to keep the theatrics under control in court. That's the lesson from Florida this week, after a Palm Beach public defender was reprimanded for pretending to gag while a prosecutor questioned an informant in a murder trial.

The court didn't buy the attorney's argument that her fake gag was just "a confidential attorney/client nonverbal communication" meant to display her skepticism towards the testimony.

An attorney in Michigan is facing disbarment for filling his resume with a series of 'alternative facts' -- including that he competed for the U.S. field hockey team in the 1996 Olympics. Turns out, the lawyer, Ali Zaidi, wasn't on the roster for that or any other Olympic events.

Now Zaidi's gold-medal lie, along with a whole string of additional misrepresentations, has the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board recommending his ouster.

Hold Your Own Against Opposing Counsel

I was David; opposing counsel was Goliath.

I was a solo practitioner working out of my house; their office lobby was bigger than my house.

The firm had so many lawyers they occupied three floors in a downtown high-rise. I was defending a mom-and-pop art dealer; the other side was suing for millions of dollars.

As you might guess, I was a little intimidated. But, as you may also have guessed from the David v. Goliath reference, there are some soft skills you can learn to equal the playing field even when you are fresh out of law school.

Getting divorced? Get a lawyer. That's not just good advice for laymen, it's good advice for attorneys too.

Take, for example, the case of Anthony Zappin. A New York appellate court recently upheld sanctions against Zappin after the New York attorney represented himself in his divorce proceedings. Zappin's self-representation ended up a "maelstrom of misconduct," the court found," involving "unprofessional, outrageous, and malicious" behavior. Just how outrageous was it? Let's take a look.

ABA Task Force Studies Due Process in College Sexual Misconduct Cases

The American Bar Association has formed a new task force to study due process rights in college sexual misconduct cases.

Andrew S. Boutros, co-chair of Seyfarth Shaw's White Collar, Internal Investigations and False Claims Act Team, will lead the task force. It will be comprised of 10 to 12 members, including lawyers, academics, government officials, victim advocacy representatives, and other constituents.

"The Criminal Justice Section is committed to fair and balanced procedural and substantive due process in the criminal justice system," said Matthew Redle, chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section in a press release. "Those same carefully calibrated rights and protections for both the victim and the accused are also critical in the college disciplinary system, where the stakes are exceptionally high on both sides and the collateral consequences of a finding of responsibility are abundantly severe."

If you've ever sat down to a WordPress blog and started typing out your thoughts on tort reform, legal tech, or the trials of starting your own firm, you've probably wondered: At what point does my attorney blogging become advertising? Sure, you're not posting "10 Reasons to Hire Me Today -- Number 7 Will Shock You!" But you are, perhaps, subtly selling yourself, showing your personality, experience, insight. Does that mean your blog is subject to the same rules as, say, an actual commercial?

Not according to the State Bar of California. The bar association recently finalized a new ethics opinion that will allow lawyers to blog, outside their main law firm website, without having to worry about regulations on attorney advertising.

ABA: Don't Violate Client Confidentiality When Withdrawal for Non-Payment of Fees

When your client stiffs you in the middle of litigation with an unpaid legal bill, don't you just want to complain about it to someone? Not your bartender, but someone who can do something about it -- like a judge.

Well, you can tell the judge you want to withdraw but you better not give too many details. According to a new ethics opinion, you are bound by confidentiality to disclose only information "reasonably necessary" for the court to make an informed decision. It's almost enough to make an attorney stop talking.

"The tension between a lawyer's obligation to provide the court with sufficient facts to rule on a motion and the lawyer's duty of confidentiality has been characterized in one treatise as "a procedural problem that has no fully satisfactory solution," the ABA's ethics committee said.

Man Running for Judge Gets Law License Suspended Over Attack Ads

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth ten thousand votes.

At least, that's what attorney Ronnie Michael Tamburrino must have been thinking when he decided to run some television commerials in his judicial campaign. But what was he thinking when one video made fun of his opponent pouring whiskey shots for children?

Not only did Tamburrino lose the election, now he has lost his license to practice law for the controversial ads. The Ohio Supreme Court suspended his license for one year, with six months stayed pending conditions of probation.

"Tamburrino's misconduct impugned the integrity of his opponent as a jurist and as a public servant," Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote for the majority.