Portia, Portia, Portia

Whenever I have to spend a lot of time dealing with lawyers, I find myself thinking about The Merchant of Venice, the best guide to the law (and to lawyers) ever written. Of course, for as long as I’ve been reading it, I’ve encountered interpreters who sing the praises of Portia, the pseudo-lawyer who decides the case at the climax of the play. I guess my attitude toward Portia is a lot like Jan Brady’s attitude toward her older sister Marcia, as depicted in this, the climactic scene in one of the major episodes of the Brady Bunch epic.

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Ex Parte Khawaja

A letter addressed to Mr Gregg I. Adelman, Principal of the firm Kaplin-Stewart, Attorneys at Law, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

Dear Mr Adelman:

This is not the first time I’ve informed your office that no one by the name of “Shane M. Loercher” lives at [my address]. Nor is it the first time I’ve informed your office that no one by that name has lived here since at least July 2018, when my wife and I first bought this property. I am not sure what is accomplished by repeatedly sending legal notices to a person who doesn’t live here and can’t read them, but whatever the aim, you may wish to re-think it. Continue reading

Caught with Your Pants Down: The Strange Case of Mayor John Roth of Mahwah

I’m about to recount an almost entirely inconsequential political incident, the strange case of John F. Roth, mayor of Mahwah, a small, affluent town in northeastern New Jersey. But while the incident is almost entirely inconsequential, I’d say that precisely one feature has broad significance. Let’s see if you and I agree on what it is.

About a month ago, John F. Roth, the mayor of Mahwah, went to a party at the home of a Mahwah Township employee. You’re not going to believe this, but alcohol was served at this party. Yes, alcohol. And–hold on to your hats here–but Roth actually consumed some of this alcohol. I wouldn’t lie about something like this. Having done so, he managed to get drunk. He must have realized that he was drunk, because instead of driving home–like a normal person–he decided to walk into a bedroom or guestroom of the house, take off his pants, and fall asleep on a bed. He was later discovered pants-less in that very bed. A call was placed to his wife, who arrived to retrieve him. Retrieved, I gather that he went home to sleep it off, very possibly pants-less, in his own bed. Continue reading

Not Born in the USA

I did the last of my immigration-enforcement events yesterday at Felician–this one really a mini-event, intended for my seminar-sized criminal justice class. The guest speaker this time was my former Felician student Maria Lopez-Delgado.

Quick intro: Maria graduated as a philosophy major from Felician in 2013 (thesis topic: “The Marxian Critique of Capitalism”; advisor: Khawaja), went on to law school at UNC School of Law, did a stint at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, and for the past year or so has been back in North Carolina with North Carolina Legal Aid’s Battered Immigrant Project, where she works with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.* Since she was in North Carolina and we were in Jersey, we spoke by Google Video Chat.  Continue reading

Congratulations to Gurbir Grewal

Congratulations to Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal for his nomination to the position of Attorney General of New Jersey by Governor-Elect Phil Murphy.

I got to know Gurbir last year when he spoke at the series on “Race and Criminal Justice in America” that I organized at Felician University; I was deeply impressed then, and remain impressed now, at his capacity to walk the fine line between prosecutorial toughness about enforcing the law, and moral sensitivity to considerations of justice. It’s a tough balancing act, but I sleep better at night knowing that someone knows how to pull it off. Because I certainly don’t.

Gurbir Grewal speaking at Felician University, December 5, 2017

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The first thing we do, let’s criticize all the lawyers

I stick it to the lawyers’ guild at this discussion at Lawyerist.com. I’m responding to Sam Glover (and others), “Why Are Lawyers So Expensive? I’ll Tell You Why.” As far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t.

Ironically, I’m the Pre-Law Advisor at Felician College.

I might add that some of my best friends are lawyers. Seriously.

Postscript, November 2, 2014: I was away for most of the weekend, so I didn’t visit Lawyerist.com to see how the Expensive-but-So-Totally-Worth-It lawyers had responded to my criticisms of their special pleading for their inflated fees. I just did.

In four days, the author of the piece, Sam Glover, who conspicuously “LOL’d” my initial comment, has backed off, shut up, and moved on without responding to anything I said. I’ve now asked another commenter, who admitted to increasing his fees on the basis of snap judgments of his clients’ “unrealistic expectations,” whether he’d be willing to universalize that judgment and allow service providers in other fields–doctors, therapists, mechanics, plumbers, educational institutions, insurance companies–to do the same without legal interference, oversight, or regulation. I’m morbidly curious to hear the answer.

It’s not that I lack respect for the legal profession as such. It’s a necessary and valuable profession with many noble practitioners. Nor do I much mind that such people have large incomes and live accordingly. What I mind is how many others of them are arrogant, misologistic sophists who thrive on the undeserved deference they get in our society, and who, despite their inflated egos, six-figure incomes, and delusional self-conceptions, cannot argue their way out of a paper bag. There are plenty of lawyers out there fitting that description, and a great number of them seem to congregate at Lawyerist.com. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them billed for being there–in which case I don’t mind giving them a run for their money. Unfortunately, I can’t bill for it, but philosophers don’t live by bread alone.

By the way, I should probably add that not only are some of my best friends lawyers, but so are some of my best former students!