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Wannabe lawyer Matthew F. Hale of East Peoria, Ill., has lost his bout with the Illinois Committee on Fitness and Character. Hale passed the state board exam in 1998. But, as a public advocate of white supremacy and the head of a group that promotes racism and anti-Semitism, Hale was found by the committee to be unfit to practice law. Hale sued on the ground that under the First Amendment he has a right to his views, however distasteful. After losing in state courts, he switched to the federal courts, only to be thrown out when the district court found it lacked jurisdiction. An opinion on July 14 by an appellate panel affirms the district court. Although, strictly speaking, the case turned on an analysis of jurisdiction, the author of the opinion, Circuit Judge Diane Wood, couldn’t resist a few words on fitness. Hale is “currently being held under arrest without bond,” she noted. He was arrested for allegedly soliciting one of his followers to murder a judge who was presiding over a trademark infringement suit brought against him. Magistrate judge Steve Crocker, in the Western District of Wisconsin, gets July’s award for the most colorful courtroom smackdown, in his denial of plaintiff Hyperphrase’s motion to strike against defendant Microsoft: The parties “had until June 25th, 2003, to file summary judgment motions. Any electronic document may be e-filed until midnight on the due date. In a scandalous affront to this court’s deadlines, Microsoft did not file its summary judgment motion until 12:04:27 a.m. on June 26, 2003. I don’t know this personally because I was home sleeping, but that’s what the court’s computer docketing system says. “Microsoft’s insouciance so flustered Hyperphrase that nine of its attorneys promptly filed a motion to strike,” Crocker continued. “Counsel used bolded italics to make their point, a clear sign of grievous iniquity. “Wounded though this court may be by Microsoft’s four minute and twenty-seven second dereliction of duty, it will transcend the affront and forgive the tardiness. Indeed, to demonstrate the even-handedness of its magnanimity, the court will allow Hyperphrase on some future occasion in his case to e-file a motion four minutes and thirty seconds late.” Feel like holding your head a little higher? Thank the Florida State Bar Association, and its just-completed $750,000 public relations campaign to polish the image of lawyers. The public’s fondness for jokes at the profession’s expense has long been a concern. But now, for the first time, there’s a quantitative measure of success in getting out the message that most lawyers are decent, hardworking people who benefit the community. The team at RBB Public Relations in Coral Gables, Fla., reports that it exceeded its objective of increasing the amount of positive media coverage by 50% to 100%. It also met its objective of increasing coverage of pro bono and community relations efforts by 40% to 50%. Finally, the team built personal relationships with some 100 reporters. As a result of these successes, the bar has signed a second one-year contract. Spike TV has launched an animated sitcom about a lawyer so deplorable that one morning he wakes up having morphed into a six-foot rat. He then spends the day mistreating his mother, dodging the exterminator and defending Big Tobacco. The voice of “Gary the Rat” is that of Kelsey Grammer, mainstream television’s Frasier Crane. Grammer, who is also executive producer, said the series is “a bit of an indictment” of the legal profession, but “a loving one.”

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