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The law advances in ways the best of us cannot envision. During 2000, in the heat of the moment, myriad judges across the land wrung from legal doctrine more than could be expected, and a crowd of lawyers — led by a David Boies, a Barry Richard, or a National Law Journal Pro Bono Award winner such as Houieda Saad — displayed dramatic savvy or undying energy to the historic or worthy causes they took up. This is not the story of those people. At least, not those kinds of people at their finest moments. Although the law has been a bedrock presence in this country since its founding, the issuance of law from human hands has made its professional practice not as predictable as we might think (or fear). In 2000 came reminders that the law is a clumsy beast that does not always march forward. For these practitioners, whose deeds are recounted below, the law, it seems, was not even a guide. NEXT TIME, DON’T STINT ON THE PRIEST’S BRIBE: Boston bank lawyer Edward Voccola was sentenced to a year and a day for income tax evasion. He said that he made a large charitable cash donation to his church, placing $500 in cash each week onto the collection plate of his hometown church. His priest told Internal Revenue Service agents that the weekly collection from the whole congregation had never totaled $500. AFTER A DIG, HE DIGS HIMSELF IN DEEPER AND DEEPER: Queens, N.Y., lawyer Jerasimos Papapanayotou called a bankruptcy judge a “bigot donning the judicial garb of a bankruptcy judge, openly assuming the role of an advocate” for the defendants. He also said that his persistent complaints about the jurist were “not only meritorious, but, in fact, indefensible [sic].” The district judge sanctioned him $5,000. He appealed, which led the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to double the sanction. THE FIGHTING SPIRIT: Richard Foltz III, who practices in Reisterstown, Md., was accused, then cleared, of molesting an 11-year-old girl who was the child of clients and a close friend of his daughter. Apparently fewer than 15 people in town knew of the girl’s accusations against him, although that included the principal of his child’s school. Foltz sued the girl and family for defamation and asked for $48 million in damages. The jury rejected his claim and awarded the girl $1 million for a counterclaim. So far, his car and 10 of his rifles have been seized. WE CRAWLED ON OUR BELLIES DOWN THE COURTHOUSE HALLWAY UNTIL WE SAW A GLINT NEAR CHAMBERS: A raid requested by Florida lawyer Steven Peretz on behalf of the Japan CBM Corp. reminded WWII vet and fellow lawyer Jack Dominik of earlier wars. “Goon-squad investigators,” he charged, had disrupted his client’s cheap knock-off watch wholesale business and scared the dickens out of some of his client’s clients — “little ladies” with a storefront emporium. “The ‘Peretz Gestapo,’ ” he wrote the judge, conducted a raid that “ was an opportunistic attorney’s scheme devised for … extorting legal fees.” Switching fronts, he told Peretz’s co-counsel, “When I get in front of a jury, I’m going to remind them that these are the same sneaky yellowbellies who bombed Pearl Harbor.” Peretz convinced the judge that the Gestapo barb was “Jew-baiting,” meriting a $3,000 fine. “We’re getting to the time where the old romp ‘em and stomp ‘em in the courthouse doesn’t fly,” groused Dominik after paying. He said that his wife and two sons are Jewish and he doesn’t care what anyone’s ethnicity is: “I had no idea that Mr. Peretz was Jewish. I thought he was of German extraction, the same as I am.” NO WIFE OF MINE REFUSES TO LITIGATE! According to Hollywood, Fla., police records, lawyer-nurse Marilyn Tobkin said that her husband, lawyer/doctor Donald Tobkin, “was pressuring her to file suit against her surgeon from a faulty operation the victim had obtained.” After she refused to sue, he allegedly pushed her and punched her in the abdomen and the groin. Mr. Tobkin was taken into custody after saying that his wife was medicated and overly emotional, and protesting that he ought not be arrested if she didn’t haven’t any fresh marks. Charges were dropped after Mrs. Tobkin declined to appear in court. WHAT WAS FLYGUY SMOKING? Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe paralegal Said Farraj e-mailed several lawyers working for his firm’s ongoing opponents, Big Tobacco companies, and offered to sell them his firm’s 400-page trial plan for the upcoming lawsuits. The law student, who called himself “FlyGuyNYt,” sent his brother to McDonald’s to pick up the $2 million fee. The dealmaking duo were subsequently arrested and arraigned. BUDDY BUSINESS: Dallas judge David R. Gibson chose to preside over a case between chalkboardtalk.com and Yahoo, even though Yahoo lawyer Steve Stodghill already had been planning a fund-raiser for the judge’s re-election campaign. The other side raised a stink. After the case was removed to bankruptcy court, the two men met at Stodghill’s house, where they talked theoretically about the case, according to an affidavit by the judge’s divorce lawyer, who was also present. Judge Gibson wondered what would happen to him as the result of his participation, the affidavit said, adding, “He told Mr. Stodghill he needed to be ‘protected’ from adverse political ramifications. Stodghill replied that he was in a position, financially, to personally fund Judge Gibson’s campaign without any problem.” Shortly thereafter, the case was remanded to Gibson, who recused himself. DON’T WORRY, SIR, THEY STILL HAVE PAY PHONES IN JAIL: Judge Edmund Bart, of DuPage County, Ill., sentenced three different people to a total of eight days for letting their cell phones beep while in his courtroom. WE DON’T HAVE ANY DRUGS, BUT WE GIVE GREAT BACK RUBS: Cops say that Louisville, Ky., lawyer John Rankin took drugs in lieu of his fees. On the corner outside his office, he collected a 1/4-pound bag of pot from a turncoat client — but the transaction was being videotaped. Rankin has asked for a jury trial, at which he will try to impugn the word of his former client, a man who lives on Memory Lane in Louisville. NO ARGUMENTS HERE: Before he was arrested, one-time prosecutor Robert C. Schuster, 32, tried to bribe a paralegal at New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for tips about mergers. “I’m not Gordon Gekko,” he said, alluding to the “Wall Street” character whose words he repeated: “No risk, no reward.” CAN I PUT IT ON MY CARD? Andrew Capoccia, pesty advocate for the little guy and unceasing filer of debt-reduction suits against credit card companies, was disbarred for filing form defenses and for other conduct that judges deemed frivolous. He is fighting $1.5 million in sanctions. GUYS, YOU FORGOT ONE: Early one morning, Florida lawyer Stuart Thompson got himself charged with indecent exposure and resisting an officer after skinny-dipping where he shouldn’t have and setting off a burglar alarm. Rousted by the cops from his hiding spot in the bushes, he fled, nude, into the Gulf of Mexico, where he was arrested. The police report notes that he helped the soggy officers locate in their manual the final offense with which he was charged — attempted burglary. He has pled no contest to trespass. All other charges have been dismissed. THE STRUGGLE: Los Angeles counselor Kent Raygor of that city’s Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton has said he did “struggle a bit” over seeking sanctions (for “vexatious conduct”) against an opposing lawyer who had owned up to having a chemical dependence, suffering from bipolar disorder, and being hospitalized after the death of his twin brother. After his struggle, Raygor issued a press release publicizing the sanction. FOOT-DRAGGING: It’s been 10 years since Charles Murray, the erstwhile managing partner of Wynn & Wynn’s Fall River, Mass., office, told colleagues that he would never have hired law clerk Jill Carmichael had he known she was pregnant (which she wasn’t), and that he was going to tell Carmichael the firm had no openings for associates. Now, after Carmichael has been vindicated in five administrative and court hearings and been awarded $435,000 for sex bias, Wynn & Wynn has sued Murray for indemnification, and the lawyers who handled the Carmichael suit for malpractice. Carmichael’s lawyer says that her client has not been paid. I KNEW HIM WELL: The court reporter who took President Clinton’s deposition in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct case, Denise McNamara, mentioned her work prominently while successfully campaigning for a position representing Texas in the Republican Party. “I have seen the enemy, and I have looked him in the eye,” she said. WIGGY: Delaware lawyer William Prickett was rebuffed by the state bar in his campaign for lawyers to wear robes in court. He’d already written a draft rule and paid for the making of a model robe. AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT — HONESTY: Talkative U.S. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson shared his feelings as he withdrew from the retrial of a case involving a violent gang. “Having presided over the trial, I have formed strong opinions about the defendants’ guilt, and I have as well developed high regard for the integrity of the prosecutors and the credibility of their witnesses,” he wrote. “I am unable to put aside those predilections sufficiently to enable me to decide this matter impartially, unaffected by those prejudices.”

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