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It was supposed to be a joke. Barbara Bogart, an assistant district attorney in Bastrop County, Texas, wrote, “Pay up or we break your knees” on a court notice to Edward Charles Moore, in a hot check case. “It was in fun; it was in jest,” Bogart said. “It certainly was not with the intent of threatening anybody.” Philip Wilson, Moore’s court-appointed attorney, even saw Bogart write the message on the notice. “I figured she was joking,” the Austin, Texas, attorney said. “There’s no actual threat of my client’s knees being broken,” he added. But Moore wasn’t laughing. He said that the message alarmed his mother, and that he took it as a threat because it came from an authority figure. “I didn’t take it as a joke,” Moore said. “I took it real personal.” Bogart conceded that she might have acted unprofessionally when she wrote the note. She said she planned to apologize to Moore. “I certainly didn’t mean to offend him,” she said.- TEXAS LAWYER Picture O’Connor Pioneer, cowgirl, schoolmarm, swing voter. A judge who is bold, fretful, a waffler, moderate, conservative, liberal, tough, caring, a gentlelady in a man’s world � all these descriptions have been used to paint a verbal portrait of the nation’s first female justice. A fascinating exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington demonstrates that the same rainbow of interpretations confronts real portrait painters as well. Twenty-five artists, members of an artists’ collective called the Painting Group in New York, painted portraits of Sandra Day O’Connor during two three-hour sittings last October, and the results � in charcoal, pastels, watercolor and oil � are on display at the recently reopened gallery. Founders of the group, which has met regularly since the late 1950s, are portraitist Aaron Shikler and David Levine, the noted caricaturist for the New York Review of Books. Usually the group’s subjects pose in the nude, but O’Connor is not that much of a pioneer. She sat instead in her traditional Supreme Court robe, complete with a ruffle at the neck. The robe and the ruffle are just about the only characteristics shared by all the works on display. CBS News’ Sunday Morning show ran a segment recently on the exhibit. When asked what she thought of the portraits, O’Connor replied characteristically, without much sugar-coating: “Well, different strokes for different folks.”- LEGAL TIMES Courtesy counts A convicted bank robber in suburban Detroit was sentenced to time served and a short stay in jail after the prosecutor persuaded the judge that the act was really a cry for help. Lawrence Lawson, 61, faced multiple felony counts, but under a plea bargain was sentenced to a year in jail with credit for the 291 days he’d already spend behind bars. He also will spend time on probation. Oakland County, Mich., prosecutor David Gorcyca dubbed Lawson the “courteous bandit” � and said the robber was not dangerous or a habitual felon but was “merely caught up in Michigan’s devastating economic climate.” Lawson had been fired from his job as a mechanical engineer and was about to be evicted from his home. He did not brandish his holstered weapon while taking $4,900 from a bank teller. He then pretended to pass out after leaving the bank to avoid a police struggle. Gorcyca told police that Lawson wanted to be arrested so he could have food and shelter. “His intention was to get caught,” Gorcyca said. “He did not want to be homeless.” - ASSOCIATED PRESS

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