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Bar Tab The State Bar Association wants to weigh in on whether indigent parents are entitled to a lawyer before they can be locked up for not paying child support. The Bar moved on Jan. 15 for amicus status in Pasqua v. Council. In her decision last May finding a right to counsel, Mercer County Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg left open the issue of how to supply the lawyers, and when her ruling took effect in September, the Administrative Office of the Courts suspended coercive incarceration of indigent child support obligors because it is unable to provide them with counsel. The Bar fears an expansion of mandatory pro bono to fill the gap. Its lawyer, Metuchen solo practitioner David Rubin, says the requirement of a hearing within 72 hours makes it impractical to pick names off a pro bono list. David Perry Davis, the Princeton solo practitioner for the Pasqua plaintiffs, says the amicus filing shows “zero concern for the rights of indigent obligors facing jail, zero concern for the constitution, but lots of concern for lawyers being inconvenienced and having to help the poor.” AOC spokeswoman Tammy Kendig declines comment, saying the judiciary does not keep track of how many people owing child support have been released because they were not provided counsel. Writer’s Block When applying to be a deputy attorney general — a job requiring more than marginal verbal skills — you probably shouldn’t give a writing sample strewn with awkward grammar, incorrect citations and inflammatory rhetoric. Just ask Paul Beatty. “Writing sample is awful,” wrote Division of Law Director Jeffrey Miller in June 2001 as he ordered a rejection letter sent. The sample was a brief, with phrases like, “This police officer is a liar and if this lying under oath was done by an ordinary citizen he or she would be indicted by this same Prosecutor for perjury.” Beatty, who was 59 years old at the time, was convinced that age was a factor in the no-hire decision. He said so in a letter to Attorney General John Farmer Jr. that was “reminiscent of the tone of his writing sample,” the Appellate Division wrote last Friday in affirming dismissal of his age-discrimination suit, Beatty v. Farmer. Appellate Judges Sylvia Pressler, Lorraine Parker and Rudy Coleman upheld Superior Court Judge Paulette Sapp-Peterson‘s finding that the attorney general had a good record of hiring older applicants and a good reason for rejecting Beatty, whose writing sample was “well below the professional level reasonably required by the Attorney General.” Beatty says he simply selected a brief from a case he had just finished arguing. He blames his secretary for the errors but says he didn’t have time to correct them. “I chose it poorly,” admits Beatty. Ginsburg’s Revenge The last time veteran advocate Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in October, he made the mysteriously common blunder of addressing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as “Justice O’Connor.” Phillips appeared again before the justices on Jan. 14 in the case of Engine Manufacturers Association v. South Coast Air Quality Management District. One of the Supreme Court bar’s top advocates, Phillips got all their names straight. This time the slip of the tongue came from the bench. Justice Ginsburg addressed Phillips as “Mr. Carter” — not once but twice, during Phillips’ main argument, then again during his rebuttal. Unless Ginsburg has mastered the perfect poker face, both instances seemed to be genuinely unplanned. Both times, Phillips smiled broadly but said nothing, except that in his responses to her, he pointedly addressed her correctly as Justice Ginsburg. Afterward, Phillips laughed about the episode as fair turnabout. He said that throughout his professional life people have called him Mr. Carter. “But until today, it never happened in a courtroom.” Dot-Com That It was not a dull morning for Appellate Division Judges Barbara Byrd Wecker and Harvey Weissbard last Thursday. The pair heard oral arguments in IMO Robert E. Forchion, in which Forchion wants to legally change his name to “NJWeedman.com,” his Web site. Forchion, a marijuana-legalization advocate, argued the case pro se, and showed up in a black-and-white striped prisoner’s costume of the type more often seen in movies than actual jails. “It went well,” Forchion says of the argument. “The appeals panel was clearly on my side, clearly receptive … I believe it’s going to be a great ruling.” Perhaps. That’s not what happened at the trial level, before Judge M. Allan Vogelson in Camden County. He ruled that the state can deny the name change if it is offensive, criminal, bizarre, unduly long or if the petitioner has an unworthy motive, according to the Feb. 16, 2002, Courier-Post of Cherry Hill. Broadly, that was the argument laid out by Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Kathleen Higgins last week, Forchion recalled. Higgins, who did not return a call for comment, has previously argued that Forchion is a convicted drug dealer who wants the name change to advertise his business. -By Mary P. Gallagher, Charles Toutant, Tony Mauro and Jim Edwards

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