Saturday, August 29, 2009

Congratulations, Survivors!

You did it!  I must confess that, not even in my wildest fantasies, did I think that NINE of you would finish the contest (of course, that's partly because blawgs don't usually make it into my wildest fantasies but that's too much information).  Seriously, "you done good!"

As for your prize, my original idea was to provide the winner with a copy of my book and an audio CD of my Cleaning Up the Stress Mess program.  However, as we have so many winners, the prize will have to be divided amongst you.  Therefore, Jill you get pages 1-32 of the book.  David you will receive pages 33-64.   On second thought, perhaps I should just have you pass the book and CD amongst yourselves.  Oh what the heck!  Books and CDs for everyone!  After all, if I can get rid of 9 more books, I might just have a chance of parking my car in my garage before the end of the decade.

Seriously, I'd love to send you the book and CD as my way of saying thanks for indulging my silliness in starting the contest in the first place and enduring my commentary throughout.  Just send me your mailing address and I'll ship them out to you.  Once again, thanks for participating.  It was a blast!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Nail Biter

It's now 10:30 pm on the west coast and all of our remaining blawgs have current posts except for Wags Outside.  Will we lose another contestant after so many days of flawless and fearless blogging?  The anticipation is killing me ...

What's also killing me is that nagging feeling that I'm just not worthy to have put on this contest.  Each of the remaining contestants has blown away any expectation that I ever had when I thought up this silly idea.  As you know, my thought was that a competition would spur me on to blog daily as I had been promising myself for almost a year now.  Well, you guys took that baton and ran with it like Olympic athletes, just without all of the suspicion of steroid usage and gender fraud.

Not only have you all posted daily but some of you are now posting more than once a day.  For example, Tax Girl, has been posting twice a day over the last week, including three posts on Friday.  And by the way, these weren't Twitter-like "Had great pizza for lunch.  Anyone else really like anchovies?" posts.  These were hardcore "If you'd like an aneurism, please try to understand this section of the tax code and how it applies to left-footed Hungarian miners and why the IRS might consider you to be one" posts.

Likewise, the contest seems to have spurred some rivalries (although no one will admit it).  For example, our employment lawyers have each upped the ante in terms of both content and presentation style over the last two weeks.  Apparently, someone is going for the title of "Best Damn Employment Law Blog" period.  The same is true for our techies.  I salute you with words from one of your heroes, Mork from Ork, "Nanu Nanu!"

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to pop some popcorn and spend the next 90 minutes hitting the refresh button on my browser to see if Wags can pull out a squeaker.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Just One Down This Week

We finally lost our first castaway this week -- Izzie of Only 3 Years.  She missed Wednesday's post although I wouldn't hold it against her considering that she is in the midst of traveling half way across the world to start law school.  If I've ever heard of a good excuse, that's it.  Nevertheless, "rules is rules" and the remaining castaways will fight out it for the last six days.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Two Days Without a Single Loss

You all seem to have hit your strides nicely because no one has missed a post over the last two days. A few of you are posting multiple times per day and I'm getting a little concerned that one of you is going to be the most prolific homeless blawger of all time given that you can't possibly be finding time to work as well as write.

Seriously, keep up the good work, and if you'd like to treat yourself to some frivolity, here is my take on what Dr. King's I Have a Dream Speech would have been like if he used PowerPoint (Thank God that he didn't).

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Field is Holding

I must confess that, on our first Friday, I expected the castaways to start folding faster than a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.  Fortunately, I was sadly mistaken (not about the Dems but about the castaways).  Over the weekend, we only lost one blog -- Current Employment.  That leaves 10 fearless survivors with just 10 days of blogging left. 

It's going to be interesting!

Friday, August 14, 2009

How Sad Is This?

I've been officially eliminated from my own contest.  In my defense, I was so devastated by the loss of 1L Poet on Day #3 that I was unable to post anything funny on Thursday.  And while most of you are thinking ("When did not being funny stop you from posting?"), that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
Of course, since I can't win the Grand Prize (a copy of my book), the remaining blawgers will have to go it alone.  See ya!

Yes, I'm teasing!  I'll continue to monitor the contest, post (almost) daily updates, and generally be the annoying S.O.B. that has made me the most sought-after legal personality on the lecture circuit (depending on the meanings of the words "sought-after", "legal", "personality", and "sexual relations with that woman").

In any event, keep it up!  One week down.  Two to go.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How To Cash in on a Law Degree ... Even In This Market

By now, you've probably read the account of the young woman who is suing her alma mater because of her inability to find a job.   She seeks the return of four years of tuition costs -- $70,000 -- plus a whopping $2,000 in pain and suffering for the misery of her grueling four-month job search (sadly, I've looked for my car keys longer than that).

During my weekly legal commentary on the Legal Broadcast Network, I explain why this case could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Two Days in a Row

Wow!  After losing four blogs on the first day, we only lost one blog on Day #2 -- Two Lawyers in a Podcast, which ironically is a blog that I write with my podcast co-host (I believe in setting a good example, you know).  From a technical standpoint, I was actually disqualified on the first day as my August 10th post didn't become effective until August 11th according to the time-date stamp on the site.  I'm almost sure that I posted before midnight Pacific Time, but perhaps, the blog is set to a different time zone.  Or perhaps, I'm not smart enough to tell time (the big hand tells hours, right?).  Either way, I'm out and you could be too so don't wait until the last minute.  This is Blawger Survivor -- not the bar exam!

On the bright side, losing this contest seems to be a good omen.  One of the blogs eliminated on Day #1 -- Out-House General Counsel -- is the most popular blawg on the ABA Journal Blawg Directory today (just think if the author had actually posted something this week ... hehe).

On an even brighter note, today's featured blawg on the ABA Journal site belongs to Cynthia Rowland, the author of Leadership, Women, Lawyers.  You go, girlfriend!  And when you hit the "big-time," don't forget us little people.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Herd is Thinning Already

On our first day of the contest, we lost four blawgs.  That leaves just 13 fearless blawggers vying for the title of sole survivor.  By the way, I've added a new widget to this site that gives a birds-eye view of the survivors' blawgs (including the time of their last post) so you can now "spy" on the competition without visiting a dozen different websites.

Although, on that note, I suspect that we might not have a dozen castaways for too much longer.  Interestingly, about half of you wrote about this contest in your first entry.  Unless you are planning on devoting your blog to promoting my blawg (be my guest), the creative juices need to start flowing ... and quickly.  You have less than 12 hours to post your next entry.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Body Flab Search

Whenever I slacked off in school, my parents would threaten me with the prospect of eventually becoming a street sweeper, ditch digger or worse, the Republican nominee for President.   For the last few years, I've employed a similar tactic with my teenage son (with a similar lack of success).  However, I think that is going to change when I next threaten my son that if he doesn't study harder in school, he will grow up to become a correctional officer at the Harris County Jail in Texas.

What's wrong with working at the Harris County Jail?  Until recently, probably nothing.  However, that was before it was discovered that a 500-lb man (pictured above) secreted a gun into the jail by hiding it under the folds of his fat.  (See the full story)  This is despite the fact that the inmate had been searched for weapons upon his arrest, upon being booked into city jail and then again at the county jail.

Obviously, the regular procedure of strip searches and body cavity searches wasn't sufficiently "thorough."  To prevent other overweight inmates from sneaking weapons, contraband and Sony Playstations into the jail, the guards will be forced to initiate ... it's hard to even type ... body flab searches.  

By threatening my son with a future of vigorously inspecting the fat folds of a morbidly obese person, I will motive him to try harder in school (or at least, think twice before marrying a Judd).  Either way, I think I will have done my job as a parent.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blawger Survivor: Outpost, Outread, Outlast

If you're like me, then every Sunday afternoon, you say to yourself, "This week is the week that I start blogging regularly! I mean it this time!" However, before you know it, it's Thursday and you haven't posted a single entry on your blog. So you say to yourself, "Next week is the week that I start blogging regularly! I mean it this time!" In a desperate attempt to break that cycle, I'm inviting you to join me in playing Blawger Survivor.

We've all heard that it takes just three weeks to develop a habit. Hopefully, many of us can develop this habit over the next three weeks by participating in this contest whereby we will be challenged to post an entry on our blawgs EACH day (well, at least, each weekday). And while there is no length requirement for your post, it must include at least one link or reference to another blog (remember, a great blogger is an even greater reader). If you miss even a single day, you are out of the contest. At the end of the three weeks, the winners will receive the coveted title of "Blawger Survivor" (and maybe even a copy of my book, if there aren't too many of you).

Now, because many of us are lawyers, I realize that it's necessary to be extra clear about the rules, so here goes:

You have until 11:59 pm PST on Sunday, August 9th to sign up for the contest. You sign up by simply posting a comment below with the name and URL of your blog (also, any trash-talking comments you'd like to add for the heck of it).  Shortly thereafter, your blog will appear in the list of blogs listed under caption "Blawger Survivors" on the right.  Your blog link will remain in this list so long as you continue in the contest.

You must post a qualifying entry for every day of the contest (Monday through Friday for the weeks ending August 14, 21 and 28).  The official post time will be taken from the time and date stamp on your blawg.  If you fail to post a qualifying entry on any day of the contest, your blawg will be removed from the survivors list.  A qualifying entry must include at least one link or reference to another blog.

I'll be posting daily updates about the contest so make sure that you check back from time to time.  And, of course, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or suggestions.  Good luck and have fun!

Move Over Jon Stewart ... Here I Come

The Beginning of the End?

My entry into a field of endeavor usually spells the beginning of the end for the field and its institutions.  I ushered in the rise of online brokerage services by joining an offline broker in the early 1990s.  I popped the tech bubble by purchasing my first Internet stock in February 2000.  I later brought on the current financial collapse by working for one of the nation's largest subprime lenders.  Every company or law firm for which I've ever worked has eventually gone out of business.  The only institution that I haven't destroyed by my mere presence is the institution of marriage, which was already ruined when I got to it.

That being said, here is my debut on the Legal Broadcast Network, reporting "live" from the Sotomayor hearings in Washington, D.C.  The countdown to the collapse of the news business can now begin.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lawpsided Reason #3 to Love Layoffs: Living the Dream

If the promise of weight loss and closer family relationships isn't enough to allow you to accept (if not outright, enjoy) being laid off, then perhaps you'll embrace the concept of being able to pursue your dreams.  After all, where you really that happy in your past job?  If you're anything like me (and heaven help you, if you are), then your former employer may have done you the biggest favor of your life.  And, unlike in my CLE seminars, I actually know what I'm talking about in this case.

I was never quite cut out for being a large law firm associate.  Sure, I was able to fake my way through it with good looks, wit and my renown sense of humility, but I wasn't happy.  In fact, I remember sitting through a seminar and listening to the speaker ask the audience, "If you won $40 million in the California lottery tomorrow, would you show up to work on Monday?"  I thought, "I'm not showing up Monday or Tuesday or the following July!  Heck, I wouldn't even go back to the office to pick up my stuff, including the pictures of my wife and kids.  In fact, if I left my actual wife and kids in the office, I'm still not going back!  I'll send a limo for them; or maybe not."

It's safe to say that I was jaded.  Fortunately, shortly thereafter, my law firm "freed up my future for other opportunities" (their words not mine).  And after ten years of reflection (and hundreds of sessions of therapy), I've come to realize that they did this black man the greatest favor since CBS cancelled Good Times.  I now have a job that I love more than J.J. loved Big Macs.  All I can say is, "Dynomite!"

If you've ever contemplated a career change, or even a life change, what better time than now?  What do you have to lose -- your economic security?  At this point, it should be clear to everyone that economic security is a utopian fantasy, much like say, world peace, happily ever after or an Obama cabinet member's tax return.  So don't let the fact that your bank account is more overdrawn than Jessica Rabbit stop you from pursuing your dream job.  Even if you fall hopelessly in debt with no chance of ever being able to repay it, what's the worse they can do to you -- make you CEO of Citibank?  In other words, as my broker started saying last fall, "It's money, right?  Oh God!  Please shoot me!"

Of course, if you're happy practicing law, then by all means, return to the practice when things turn around. However, in the meantime, you should at least seize the opportunity to pursue your other interests (or better yet, to get some).  And for once, take the limits off of your dreams.  The sky is the limit ... literally!

For example, in the past, you may have always wanted to sky dive.  However, you talked yourself out of it because it wasn't the smart thing to do.  You had a family depending upon your income for their economic survival.  If you were hurt or injured in some way, you would be putting everyone at risk.  Well, not anymore!  You're probably worth more dead now than you are worth alive (a fact you might want to hide from your spouse).  In essence, you're playing with the house's money.  Let it ride!

If you want to skydive, do it.  If you want to bungee jump, do it.  If you want to date on the Internet ... don't be silly!  There are limits to what is prudent, even for the unemployed.  However, with that one exception, nothing should be off the table.

Take, for instance, one of my biggest fantasies -- being a contestant on the reality TV show, Survivor.  Each year, they choose a lawyer to be on the show.  He or she never wins, but I can't help but to think, "That could be me who the entire tribe hates and can't wait to vote out!"  If you've ever felt the same way, this is your opportunity to finally live your dream.

When you were employed at the big firm, it was out of the question.  Could you imagine asking the managing partner for six weeks off so you could participate in a "game show"?  You would have had a better chance of getting through airport security wearing an "I Love Osama bin Laden" t-shirt.  However, now you can go with the firm's complete blessing.  In fact, they might actually pay for one-way airfare if you agree to stop posting hateful comments about the firm on your blog,

Best of all, your recent experience of being unemployed should make you the odds-on favorite to win the prize of Sole Survivor and $1 million.  While the other contestants are whining about being deprived of luxuries like soap, pillows and food, you'll be whistling Dixie thinking, "No food?  What are they talking about?  I found a tasty earthworm just two days ago.  How often do these wimps expect to eat -- weekly?"

And even if you don't win, you'll have the pride of knowing that you did what most people can only imagine -- you pursued a dream.  Or, you can sit around updating your blog every hour about the most recent law firm round of lay-offs.  Take your pick!

Lawpsided Reason #2 to Love Layoffs: Bringing Your Family Together

Continuing on our theme of the upside of the downsize, let's take a look at how your layoff is going to bring your family together in ways you hadn't thought imaginable.

Let's face it.  If you were the typical big firm lawyer, you weren't able to spend as much time with your children as you would have liked.  In fact, you might not even be able to name them all on sight (this might be true even if you have just one child).  You probably just call for them by using generic nicknames like "Pumpkin", "Handsome", "Whatyoumacallit", "WhoseYourFace" or "Hey you, the short one!"  

Well, that's going to change.  You're going to become very close to your children, both literally and figuratively.  For one, you will no longer have to search your 6,000 sq. ft. home for them, wondering which of the seven bedrooms they might be playing in.  It's going to be a snap finding them in your new studio apartment.  They'll be the little obstacles that you trip over in the middle of the night on your way to shared bathroom down the hall. 

Financial austerity will bring your family closer in other ways.  When you were employed, you drove the kids to school each morning while conducting business on the phone.  You'd then slow to a roll and fling them out of the vehicle as you burned rubber out of the parking lot and raced to work.  You likely repeated the same process in the evening, occasionally picking up the wrong child (no big deal, their parents probably didn't even realize that they were gone).

Well, all of that is going to change.  You will actually be able to talk to your children on the ride to and from school.  And there won't be any need to rush.  You'll be able to drive at a leisurely pace; at least, until the bank takes back the car.  And even then, you'll have plenty of time to walk the kids to school.  The walk will not only build up their little bodies, but allow them to complain to their children that, when they were kids, they had to walk to school ... six miles ... uphill ... both ways.  Up until now, you've deprived them of this kind of tale of childhood woe.  Bad parent!  Bad parent!

Your parenting is also going to go to the next level when you began volunteering as the middle school soccer coach, drama club stage manager, afternoon school crossing guard or lunch lady.  Before long, your kids will feel that they can't get enough of you.  "Mom, you are, like, soooo embarrassing me.  When you pick me up from school tomorrow, can you pretend that you are kidnapping me or at least, take off the hair net?"  However, despite their current protests, you should continue your volunteer efforts knowing that (1) you are going to be building memories that they will cherish in the years to come; and (2) if you work hard, you might get hired full-time as the lunch lady.

Finally, you will be able to spend time with your children at the end of the day.  No longer will you tuck them into bed by phone.  "Daddy loves you, Julie!  Your name isn't Julie?  Is this 456-3227?  It's 3277?  Uggh!  Well, good night, whoever you are!"  Instead, you'll help them with their homework.  "Okay, Toby.  Today, we're going to work on a creative writing assignment -- Daddy's resume."  And after a light dinner (very light), you'll get them ready for bed.  As you lean beside their bed at the end of a long day, you'll look your child in the eye and say, "Always remember that Daddy loves you.  And also remember that, if Mommy asks, Daddy only had two beers since you got home from school."

All kidding aside, this could be a time to really bond with your kids like you've always dreamed of doing.  In a few months, you might find yourself asking, "Why did I spend so many years slaving away as a law firm associate?"  Or you may think, "Why didn't I go to business school instead of law school?"  I guess it all depends on how well the lunch lady gig turns out.

Lawpsided Reason #1 to Love Layoffs: The Recession Diet

If you've recently been laid off or fear that you will be next (i.e., you are a young lawyer in a large law firm), then take heart.  There are some plusses to being "downsized," if you will only look at it the right way.  After all, as author Aldous Huxley once said, “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” Of course, unlike the rest of us, Huxley actually had a real talent to fall back on, but I digress ....

In times like these, it's important to remember that you choose our attitude.  You can either look at your bank account as being almost completely empty or almost completely not full.  The choice is yours.  Likewise, you choose whether to endure lean times or to become lean and mean as a result of them.  This is true both figuratively and literally.

Let's face it.  If you're like most of us, you spent the last few years being fat and happy; once again, both figuratively and literally.  As a result, you probably no longer fit into, say, your wedding dress, tuxedo or maybe even, your first apartment.  The good news is that your weight is about to drop just as fast as your credit score.  The even better news is that it isn't going to take willpower or discipline to whip you into shape.

For example, you've probably been out to dinner with friends and thought, "I really should just have the salad."  However, the fried calamari looked so good.  And you'd heard such good things about the pork tenderloin and garlic mashed potatoes.  And, of course, you had to wash down your meal with a bottle of wine.  Finally, you topped off the outing with the tiramisu (just to balance out the saltiness of the calamari).  And then 7,000 calories later, you could just kick yourself for not ordering the salad; well, assuming that you could lift one of your elephant-like legs off the floor.

Well, this kind of guilt and recrimination is a thing of the past.  From now on, you will be able to stick to your diet.  You won't have any other choice.  The only item on the menu in your price range will be the salad -- the house salad.  And needless to say, wine and dessert will be out the question.  Just think how much your friends will envy your resolve to have just a salad and a glass of tap water.

Of course, a healthy diet is only half of the weight loss picture.  The other half is exercise and here is where being unemployed is worth your weight in gold.  While in the past you might have achieved limited results with pilates or yoga, you're about to be enrolled in the ultimate workout program -- poverty.  After all, with those other plans, you go to the gym what -- two or three times a week?  That's for wimps!  The poverty plan is an everyday all-day workout and trust me, you will feel the burn.

You'll feel it as you run for the bus each morning.  You'll feel it as you lug your clothes to and from the laundry mat.  And you'll feel it in a hundred other ways as you are now forced to do the things that you used to pay people to do for you.  Before long, you will be transformed from a soft and gelatinous mass of humanity into a lean and mean fighting machine (which will come in handy during your morning bus ride).

Just think, you will once again have the body of a 17-year old.  Of course, you will also have the net worth of one, but you can really put a price on youth?  My attorney says that you can't.  However, what does he know?  He got laid off yesterday too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Would You Like Alimony With That?

While lawyers were slow to jump on the Internet bandwagon, we are now fully on board.  And perhaps, no group of lawyers have embraced the Internet more tightly than our brethren in the family law bar.  They have taken the delivery of legal services over the web to a new high ... or perhaps, a new low.  At least, that is my initial reaction to (pictured below -- Do you see how happy these people are?)

Now, don't get me wrong.  I understand that we are long past the days of a white picket fence, a two-parent home and a solvent American bank.  In this country, half of all marriages end in failure; and the other half end in divorce.  In short, divorce has become as American as hot dogs, mom and apple pie.  I'm just not so sure that we should make divorce as easy to order as apple pie.

Yet, that is precisely what attempts to do.  It offers a "menu" of flat-fee services to make divorce as easy as ordering a Happy Meal from McDonald's.  For example, a married couple without children can obtain a divorce for just $249.  Of course, they can "supersize" their dissolution to include the whole family for just $50 more.  (I say, "Why not?"  It's such a bargain!)

Once again, I understand that marriages fail and that divorce is necessary (and in some cases, desirable).  I'm just not so crazy about the Madison Avenue approach to it.  Perhaps, you shouldn't get to "Have It Your Way!" when you file for a divorce.  Besides, what's next -- drive-through divorces?

Voice from speaker: "Welcome to Divorce Hut, how may we help you today?"

Husband: "We can't stand each other and ..."

Wife: "Shut up!  You always make it everything so complicated!  We'd like to order a #1 divorce with a side of joint custody."

Voice from speaker: "Would you like alimony with that?"

Husband: "No!!!!"

Voice from speaker: "Any charges of mental or physical abuse of each other or the kids on the side?"

Wife: "No, we'll just have the divorce."

Voice from speaker: "Okay, that will be $299.  Drive up to the first window, please."

Or perhaps, we'll eliminate the need to file for divorce at all.  Instead, the parties can just take each other off their Facebook list of friends and we can call it quits that way.  Custody issues can be decided by a coin flip.  "Okay, heads I get the boy and tails I take the girl ... um ... whatshername ... the short one."

Just a thought ...

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Penny for Your Farts?

It's nice to know that, despite all of our high-tech gadgetry, we aren't all that different from our forefathers; particularly our grandfathers.  How else would you explain the latest "intellectual" property battle being waged in our courts -- the Flatulence Wars?  And, by the way, if you think this is a battle between Taco Bell and Del Taco, think again.  This battle is over the increasingly lucrative iPhone flatulence application industry and which simulated fart vendor will establish early dominance in the realm (and yes, you read that correctly).

As you know, the Apple iPhone came onto the market a few years ago with so much promise.  It was going to change the way that we work, play and yes, fart.  It has lived up to at least one of these promises with the introduction of not one, but two, flatulence applications.  The original application, Pull My Finger, became an instant hit, eventually reaching the number one spot (and yes, you read that correctly too).

However, before long, Pull My Finger had competition in the form of iFart.  Yet, according to the maker of Pull My Finger, there was something rotten in Denmark (I just couldn't help myself, okay?).  Specifically, it claims that the maker of iFart used unfair business practices to cannibalize Pull My Finger sales.  Specifically, it claims that the iFart makers spammed its Twitter followers, wrote fake reviews and generally created an ill-wind about the product (sorry, that one just slipped) all while using its trademarked phrase -- "pull my finger."

As a result of this litigation, our courts will be forced to step in to decide once and for all who owns the phrase "pull my finger" -- the makers of the Pull My Finger app, the iFart app, or my grandfather.  It's certainly going to be a proud day in this nation's history when this landmark case comes before the Supreme Court.  However, that day may never come (we can only pray).

As usual, technology may move faster than the wheels of justice and make this issue moot.  Already, the makers of Pull My Finger have "upped the ante" by creating a new application that takes PDA flatulence to the next level -- Fart Lighter -- Pull My Finger, Pro Edition (and yes, you read that correctly too).  Not to be outdone, I hear that this spring the makers of iFart will be releasing Silent But Deadly -- the Nosebleed Edition.

Therefore, if we have any luck at all, every iPhone user will have either blown himself up lighting farts and given himself an aneurism smelly particularly stinky ones.  In either case, I think the big winner here will be those of us still using the olfactory-neutral Blackberry. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dare to Be Fired

Law firm associates across the country live each day in dread of their worst nightmare; and I'm not referring to seeing the managing partner step out of the shower naked in the gym.  I'm referring to the prospect of being fired, laid off or (my all-time favorite euphemism) "downsized."

Yet, rather than facing the future with dread, these young lawyers should embrace their "inner unemployment."  They should dare to be fired!  In particular, I'm referring to Deidre Dare, the former law firm associate who is quickly becoming an international sensation after being fired from her job for ... get this ... posting erotic pictures and stories on her website.  After the news of her site (and subsequent termination) broke in the legal press, she was offered a column in The Moscow News.  In addition, the Columbia Law grad has been inundated with inquiries about publishing her "weekly serialized novel about living in Moscow," Expat.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  "But Sean, I can't pose online in a sheer teddy or write chick porn.  How am I supposed to make being fired pay off for me?"

Let me just say that this is the same limited thinking that made you go to law school in the first place!   Remember, the point here is why Dare got fired.  According to her former employer, her behavior "was unacceptable and totally at odds with the standards of behavior that we expect from all of our people."

Certainly, some of your hobbies and interest fit this description.  Your problem is that you've been hiding your deviant activities.  Well, that might have been a prudent course during the days when the U.S. had a fully functioning financial market, some semblance of consumer confidence, and a thin Jessica Simpson.  Yet, sadly, none of these things are true anymore.  

You don't have the luxury of modesty anymore, people!  If you want to survive in the new economy, it's time to "let it all hang out."  So, for example, let's just say that you are ... I don't know ... a 41-year man who likes dressing up in one of his wife's old maternity dresses and singing Helen Reddy's I Am Woman into one of her hairbrushes while she runs errands to Costco; hypothetically speaking, of course.  Up until now, you've probably hidden this perfectly understandable fetish from your co-workers and Renee (oops, I mean your wife).  However, you're missing out on a golden opportunity for fame and fortune.

All you need to do is create a website, post video of yourself on it, and make sure to mention the name of your firm 30-40 times on each page.  The next thing you know, you'll be an internet sensation and can stop flying all over the country telling jokes to lawyers and judges, hypothetically speaking, of course.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Hardest Working Woman in Justice

James Brown may have been the hardest working man in show business, but he had nothing on our very own [Baby] Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Despite having a job with lifetime tenure, Ginsburg has the work ethic of a recent immigrant (an undocumented one at that).

Despite undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer (not exactly a minor ailment) last week, the only female justice is planning to return to work in less than three weeks, when the Court's public hearings resume.  Of course, this is nothing new for the toughest Supreme Court justice ever.  In 1999, she underwent surgery for colon cancer, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, and get this ... she didn't miss a single day of work ... at a government job!  That should be illegal!

In fact, it does seem to violate the basic tenets of fairness in public/private sector trade-off.  In the public sector, you earn less money.  However, in return, you enjoy a greater level of job security and more expansive benefits coverage.  Well, last year, Ginsburg earned less as a Supreme Court justice than some first-year associates in large Manhattan law firms.  I think that fact alone entitles her to at least a long weekend after emergency surgery.   After all, even the worst sweat shop law firm in existence (i.e., your firm) wouldn't expect an associate to come into work under these circumstances (unless he or she expected to make partner someday).

Seriously, Ginsburg is setting a horrible precedent here.  Before you know it, people will begin to expect that the Post Office will have more than one line open at a time or that the Department of Motor Vehicles will have any lines open ever.  That's simply unrealistic!  One of the great perks of a public sector job is that you can take time off if you need to (or just feel like it).  However, Ruthie refuses to utilize her perk, which as I see it, is the equivalent of a McDonald's worker refusing to take home free French fries, or a movie theater employee refusing to sneak into movies, or an Obama-appointee insisting on paying all of their taxes.  It's truly remarkable!

Of course, an even better question is: "What is she doing on the Court that makes her so indispensable?"  Does she have the only set of keys to the justices' washroom?  Is she the only one who can clap with the right timing to turn on the lights in chambers?  Seriously, would the Court grind to a halt if she took a single day off?  After all, if the third branch of government can't function without a 75-year-old grandmother then perhaps, we should stop calling it the Judicial Branch and start calling it Sasha and Malia.

After all, if Justice Kennedy went AWOL that would be one thing.  We need him -- he's the swing vote.   He's the judicial equivalent of the undecided voter in Ohio on the eve of the election.  You find it hard to believe that your freedoms lie in the hands of such a person, but what can you really do about it?

On the other hand, Justice Ginsburg is like the Democratic Party loyalist in Massachusetts.  Her vote was decided way back during the primary -- the 1936 primary.  The news anchors are simply waiting for the polls close to project the winner with less than 1% of the vote cast.  In fact, her "state" has been permanently painted blue on the John King's Magic Map.  In short, Ginsburg can really just "phone it in."  It's really not that big of a deal.

So, Justice Ginsburg, you have been a true pioneer as a lawyer and a judge.  Your contributions to the law (and a woman's place in it) are too numerous to list.  I think that, perhaps, you've earned a sick day or two.  Or, at the very least, can you cough on Justice Scalia?  His opinion in last year's Heller case was obnoxious, even by his standards.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beating the Rap

It's been said that bad facts make bad law, however it appears that bad rap makes even worse law.  This certainly seems to be true in the case of Gregory Royal, a Jazz trombonist who wrote a winning appellate brief that relied heavily upon rap lyrics.

Here is just one of his "dope" rhymes.

A domestic relations exception,
I was supposed to know. 
Appellee would know too,
So why did he spend so much doe?

Now, that's dope!  And by "dope," I mean that Royal might have actually been on drugs when he wrote this rhyme.

According to MC Incoherent, the appellee spent so much doe.  Really?  As in female deer?  Where was this case litigated -- Wasilla, Alaska?  Most of the courts in my home state of Arizona won't even take personal checks (at least not my personal checks).  I can't imagine trying to convince my local clerk into accepting, say, two elk, as payment for filing fees, although it wouldn't certainly make life at the filing window much more interesting.

Cashier:  "That will be $90.  How would you like to pay -- cash, check, money order or livestock?"

Lawyer: "Livestock, please.  By the way, you wouldn't happen to have change for a moose, would you?"

Cashier: "No, but we have an ABM (automatic butcher machine) down the hall.  Just come back to the front of the line when you're ready."

Lawyer: "Okay, and by the way, I'm going to need a receipt for my files.  Can I get that on butcher paper ... in triplicate?"

And if you think that is a scary scenario, please keep in mind that Royal has become so emboldened by his success in this case that he is anxiously looking forward to his next lawsuit against a Canadian rock band.   "I'm thinking about a rap scenario there," he told an AP reporter.  Royal then went on to say one of the scariest things not uttered by Mike Tyson.  "Imagine a real attorney who can actually capitalize and perfect that expression and throw some heavy stuff in there," he said.

No, Mr. Royal!  I don't want to imagine a real lawyer rapping her way through an appellate brief!  Our profession has enough image problems already.  The last thing we need is lawyers trying to get signed through their appellate writings.  After all, can you imagine the landmark briefs in our history being penned by rapping lawyers?  Take, for instance, the brief in Brown v. Board of Education:

Yo, yo, one-two,
What we're gonna do?
Hey, hey, three-four
What's the segregation for?

They say that justice can get messy
And that certainly was the case with Plessy
But now, it's time for a new sequel
Where the court strikes down separate but equal

So if you're tired of a discrimination,
And would like to build a better nation,
Then throw your #$%* hands in the air
And scream "Integration" like you just don't care!

Aren't you glad that this wasn't the NAACP's brief in the Brown case?  I am.  If it had been, I suspect that the closest Barack Obama would have come to the White House would have been when he drove his taxi cab passengers past it on the way to the Reagan Airport.  So for the sake of the future Barack Obamas out there, just say no to rap! 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bank Error in Your Favor, Collect $175,000?

Here is your ethical quandary for the week:

You deposit a check in the amount of $1,772.50 into your bank account.  Yet, the bank loses track of the decimals and credits $177,250 into your account.  The dilemma is as follows: Do you and your spouse quit your jobs and move your family to Florida or do you fake your death and go alone?

Well, Randy Pratt from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania chose the former option.  Upon discovering that he was a hundred thousandaire, Pratt came to the conclusion that he should move away from there.  Florida is the place he ought to be, so he quit his job, both he and Missy -- Melissa, that is, his 36-year-old wife.

Unfortunately, the Pratts didn't spend the rest of their days counting their fortune while lounging around the "cement pond."  Apparently, they weren't aware that Florida is part of the United States (an easy mistake to make if you happen to visit the northern part of the state ... or the southern part for that matter).  In any event, they must have mighty surprised when they were arrested and returned to Pennsylvania to stand trial on felony theft and conspiracy charges.

In his defense, Pratt is claiming that he initially tried to notify the bank about its error, but he was ignored.  He then came to the only logical conclusion: that the extra money in his account was ... and this is a direct quote ... "a gift from God."  Let's examine this claim in parts, shall we?

For one, Pratt could not have "tried" very hard to notify the bank about its mistake.  From my experience, banks tend to be particularly interested when large amounts of money are at issue, particularly when those amounts actually belong to the bank.  At my bank branch, they still tie down the pens.  I can guarantee that I would have my bank manager's full and undivided attention if I told her that one of her employees had just given me $175,000 in lieu of the traditional toaster.  After all, her bank isn't in the business of indiscriminately passing out large sums of money; that's what Congress does.

Second, how long did he think $175,000 would last?  After all, his wife is just 36 years old.  She could easily live another 50 years.  Therefore, even if they employed the most prudent investment strategy for today's turbulent markets -- burying the money in their backyard -- they would have to live off of $3,500 per year.  Unless they were willing to live like those people on the Feed the Children commercials (or worse, a certain legal humorist during the early days of his career), they would have run out of money faster than an American carmaker; except that the American public might have actually felt sorry for the Pratts.

Finally, I have to take issue with Randy's claim that he thought he was receiving a gift from God.  Of course, I must confess that I'm not exactly a Bible scholar (or even exactly literate, as evidenced from the numerous typos and grammatical errors on this blog).  Nevertheless, I don't remember a single line from scripture that reads: "And I shall pour ye out a bank error that ye shall not have room enough to receive."  And even if I did miss such a verse in, say, the book of Numbers, this "gift" might be a little more than the Pratts bargained for, as it is the gift that will keep on giving, at least for say, the next 5-7 years.

In closing, the next time you receive a bank error in your favor, go directly to the bank and give the money back.  Do not pass Go and, by all means, do not quit your job and take the B&O Railroad to Florida.  As the good book says, "The bank shall know the truth and the truth shall give the legal humorist a blog entry." 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What Generation Gap?

Much is made of the generation gap, but there is one thing that the young and old can agree upon – no indignity is too small to make a federal case out of … literally. How else can you possibly describe the continuing legal battle between 88-year-old Edna Jester and a junior high schooler by the last name of Tanis.

The next door neighbors’ troubles started innocently enough. Tanis’ footballs, basketballs and probably the occasional brick or two, kept winding up on Jester’s property. In the time honored practice of old people everywhere, she refused to return Tanis’ football last October.

However, rather than just accepting Edna’s stubbornness as being the price of living next door to a “mean, old lady”, Tanis’ father took the extraordinary step of calling the police, who … and this really blew my mind … actually responded to the call. I’ve lived in neighborhoods where the police wouldn’t respond to a murder call, but I digress.

At the “crime scene,” the officers asked Jester to return the ball, but she refused. This is despite several warnings that she would be cited for failing to cooperate. Eventually, the officers were forced to write out a citation, which … get this … she refused to sign. I suspect that she pulled a Fred G. Sanford and said, “I can’t sign that on the account of my arthritis.” Then she probably grabbed her chest, staggered backwards and yelled, “This is the big one, Elizabeth! I’m coming to join you, holding a citation in one hand and this football in the other!”

In any event, left with no other choice, the officers arrested Jester. However, the ordeal wasn’t a total loss for Jester because … and this is my favorite part … the ball has still not been returned to the Tanis boy, as it has been submitted into evidence as part of the petty theft case pending against Jester.

Nor is this ordeal over; not by a long shot. This week, Jester launched the second offensive in this legal battle by filing a civil suit against the Tanis parents for infliction of emotional distress. According to her complaint, the continual “barrage” of foreign objects onto her property has caused her health to deteriorate (I’m sure that being 88 years old has nothing to do with it).

The irony here is that a dispute over a $15 football might result in thousands of dollars of costs for each party. For her part, Jester may be subjected to a fine of up to $1,000 if she is convicted of petty theft, not to mention the legal fees she will incur in getting Clarence Darrow to defend her (I hear they went to high school together). Likewise, the Tanis family must now hire a lawyer to defend themselves in the civil action. Finally, I suspect that the authorities in their home state of Ohio can’t be very happy about expending scarce resources to try an octogenarian, even one as “dangerous” as Jester.

In fact, about the only winner in this situation is yours truly. After all, without people like this, I would have to get a real job. Even the thought of gainful employment makes me clutch my chest, stagger backwards and yell, “This is the big one, Elizabeth! I’m coming to join you, holding a briefcase in one hand and a resume in the other!”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don't Feed the Inmates!

An Arizona lawyer has been arrested for … get this … feeding his shackled client a piece of candy in court. I’m not sure which I find more disturbing:

1) This poor lawyer trying to make his crime look tough enough to survive lockup. “What am I in for? I fed Jo Jo over there a piece of candy; not just any piece of candy though. It was a mini Snickers bar. And you know what? I’d do it again!”

2) A hardened criminal being so desperate for candy that he would allow a grown man to feed him as if he was an infant. “Open up, prisonee poo! Daddy has a Hershey’s kiss for his little shanker!”

Amazingly, the lawyer in this case asked if he could feed his client the candy before doing so. When told that he could not, he did it anyway, saying to the detention officers, “What are you going to do, -- arrest me?” He received his answer a few days later when he was arrested at his home and booked into county jail on … get this … on a felony count of providing contraband to an inmate. He was released on his own recognizance, provided that he agrees to bring enough candy for everyone at his trial.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hell Hath No Fury

When Shakespeare penned, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he failed to take into account the fury of an ex-husband, or precisely, the two ex-husbands who have made the news recently for taking vindictiveness to a whole new level.

By now, you’ve certainly heard about the New York surgeon who is suing his ex-wife for the return of the kidney he apparently “lent” to her during their marriage. After providing a kidney to his ailing wife during the marriage, the good doctor would like to have his kidney back (“What made her think she could keep it?”). Failing that, he is asking for the sum of $1.5 million to compensate him for the loss of his kidney (and a shred of human decency).

Our other example of male compassion and decency is a man who successfully sued to have his ex-wife’s alimony terminated on the grounds that she was cohabiting with another person – specifically, her prison cellmate. After his ex-wife was sentenced to prison for injuring another motorist while driving under the influence, a Florida man went to court to have her alimony suspended. He argued that her current living conditions constitute “cohabitation” under their alimony agreement and therefore, he was freed from the obligation. And although the trial court found the ex-husband’s argument to be about as valid as his former wife’s driver’s license, an appellate court reversed, ruling that sharing a cell is another form of “shacking up.”

You can’t make this stuff up!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Next Bailout?

The current economic recession has claimed its latest victims -- the nation's executioners.  According to a recent National Law Journal story, executions nationwide hit a 14-year low in 2008.  Just 38 prisoners were executed in 2008, continuing a decade long decline in executions from the high of 98 executions in 1999.

The reduction in executions can partly be attributed to a moratorium during the early part of the year while the Supreme Court heard a case challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection.  However, when the Supreme Court gave the thumbs up (or perhaps, it's thumbs down) to lethal injection, the lethal cocktails did not "flow" as expected.  Even normally prolific Texas suffered a severe slowdown in executions with just 18, almost half of the nation's total.

In addition to the slowdown sparked by the moratorium, execution production was further slowed by activists judges.  For instance, four inmates were exonerated and four others had their sentences commuted to life in prison.  In addition, more than 25 executions were stayed.

Legal ambiguities and petty concerns over innocence or guilt has decimated the execution industry, which had previously been one of America's few growth industries (and one that is impervious to outsourcing).  As a result, executions across the country have been laid off or had their hours greatly reduced.  Before long, we may see them appearing before Congress asking for an execution "stimulus package," which removes, say, the right to confront witnesses or the presumption of innocence.

And while this may seem drastic, we must do something.  Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming a country without an execution industry.  How would we ever maintain our superpower status?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tax My Clients ... Please!

In an effort to meet a $5.4 billion budget shortfall, the Wisconsin legislature is considering a tax on services, including legal services.  And with just about every state suffering from similar fiscal woes, this might be the wave of the future.  And I couldn't be happier about it!  This is just the opportunity that we've been waiting for!  Let me explain.

As you know, sales taxes aren't imposed on the seller.  They are imposed on the buyer.  Likewise, a tax on legal services won't be borne by attorneys.  It will be borne by our clients.  We will simply add an entry on the bill adding an additional 5% (or whatever the tax rate will be).  But here's the good part ... A tax line will provide us the perfect opportunity to add a gratuity line as well.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  "A gratuity?  For legal services?  That's unprofessional!"  Says who?

Think about it.  Just about every other service provider in America is accepting tips these days, even those who provide very little (if anything) in the way of service.  For example, several times a week, I tip a taxi driver for driving recklessly in circles through the streets of his city while talking on a cell phone, smoking a cigarette and listening to what I can only guess is called "music" in his land of native origin.

And, by comparison, tipping the cab driver seems reasonable because he only insists on ripping me off once.  At the hotel, they charge me a room service charge plus an 18% gratuity and still have the nerve to include a gratuity line, just in case I feel that paying $32.95 for a cheeseburger and Diet Coke is too much of a bargain.

As lawyers, we actually provide real service to our clients.  We ... we ... we ... Well, I'll get back to you on this one.  Besides, what's service got to do with it ... got to do with it?  Most people have a Pavlovian response to gratuities.  They simply multiply the tax line by 2 or 3 and add it as a tip, regardless of whether the service was good, bad or nonexistent.  And since we will be spending thousands of dollars in unearned tips over the next year, we might as well earn a few.  After all, as the old expression goes: "If you can't beat 'em (and in the case of my last cab driver, I really want to), join him."

1, 2, 3 ... 109 Strikes and You're Out?

W.C. Fields once said, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  Then quit.  It's no use being a damn fool about it."  If only Norman Holmes had heeded these words of wisdom, he wouldn't have faced the ire of Cincinnati judge Ted Berry after receiving his 109th misdemeanor conviction.  And yes, you read that correctly!  109 convictions.

At 41 years old, Holmes' adult criminal career is, at most, 23 years long.  Yet, in this time, he has been able to amass 109 convictions, or almost five convictions each and every year (except for leap years when he took it easy and only got popped four times ... do the math, it works).  And while this rate of conviction might not be impressive for, say, a governor of Illinois, it is pretty darn impressive for an indigent man with few political connections (and apparently, even fewer functioning brain cells).  And if you think I'm being harsh in my assessment of Holmes, please keep in mind that, at the time of his latest conviction, he was wanted for ... get this ... stealing vodka, a screwdriver, and an air freshener from a convenience store.  I guess he figured that he might be a habitual thief and even an alcoholic, but he wasn't going to have a musty home in need of repair (thus, the screwdriver and air freshener).

However, even more strange than Holmes' crime sprees has been the Ohio courts reception to them.  While many jurisdictions have moved to a three-strikes paradigm for violent offenders, Ohio seems to be taken a more lenient approach -- the Otis approach.  This approach seems to be modeled after the way in which Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife treated Otis Campbell, the town drunk.  In short, they allowed Otis to use the town jail as if it were a hotel.  Whenever Otis needed a place to sleep off his latest drinking binge, he would be brought to the jail and after a good night's sleep, he would be released.  In fact, in several episodes, Otis showed up to the jail on his own volition and stumbled his way into a cell, closing the door behind him and leaving a wake-up time.

Holmes seems to have a similar arrangement with the Hamilton County authorities.  For his 109th offense, Judge Ted Berry "threw the book at him" by imposing a whopping 90-day jail sentence.  Assuming this punishment stands up on Eighth Amendment grounds, Holmes will be free just in time for spring, which will be the perfect time for him to get convicted for shoplifting, say, a wrench, a barbecue grill and, of course, more vodka.   Assuming that he can remain healthy (and the town merchants don't run out of vodka), Holmes may just have a shot at losing more than anyone in Ohio state history.  And given the fact that Ohio is home to the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Ohio State Buckeyes, that would be quite a feat.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Celebrity Justices

If I live to be 300 years old (i.e., almost as old as Justice Stevens), I will never understand the Supreme Court's vehement opposition to cameras in the courtroom, particularly in light of the recent live broadcast of oral arguments before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  After all, for hardcore appellate argument fans (all four of us), this is backwards ... to say the least.  It's like banning televised Ultimate Fighting Championship events and putting on sorority girl pillow fights in its place, except that I'm slightly less likely to get divorced when my wife sees the 2nd Circuit pay-per-view charges on our cable bill. 

I just don't get why the justices find the idea of being on television so repugnant.  For example, Justice Souter is on record saying that, "The day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it's going to roll over my dead body."  Many commentators, myself included, have asked, "How could we tell?"

Seriously, with the exception of Justice Thomas, most Supreme Court justices are completely anonymous.  In fact, Justice Breyer walked into a Massachusetts court room to report for jury duty a few years back and wasn't recognized by a single person -- including the court staff and ... get this ... the presiding judge.  At one point, the judge looked down at Breyer and said, "Breyer?  Breyer?  Boy, that name sounds familiar.  I know!  You're the ice cream guy, right?"

Would that happen to a key member of any other branch of government?  For instance, is there anyone in America who doesn't recognize Barack Obama or John McCain on sight?  Or can you imagine, say, Hillary Clinton walking into a clothing store and having the salesperson show her a dress or a skirt?  Likewise, can you imagine Senator Larry Craig walking into a public restroom and not having people racing for the door?  Of course not!  We often know these people better than we know our own family members and certainly better than we know the justices.  Why?  Because they are on TV!

Likewise, our Supreme Court justices need to be on TV as well.  For one, the misperception of the Court as a collection of Ivy League elitists will be shattered once and for all when the public learns that only eight of the nine justices graduated from Ivy League law schools.  Second, with budget cuts affecting the administration of justice on all levels, the justices could use their celebrity to bring in much-needed revenue to the federal court system.

For example, the Olympic Committee brings in millions and millions of dollars in additional revenue each games by designating, say, Coke as the official soft drink of the Olympics or Snickers as the official candy bar or Dianabol as the official steroid, etc.  Why couldn't the Supreme Court obtain sponsors as well for its broadcasts?  "Tonight's oral arguments are brought to you by WestLaw, the official electronic research tool of the Supreme Court.  WestLaw, when making stuff up just won't do."

Also, the justices could use their newfound celebrity to supplement their meager salaries.  It should be an embarrassment to all of us that Supreme Court justices make less than partners in large law firms, associates in large law firms and, in New York City, receptionists at large law firms.

However, as the hosts of their own reality TV show, they will be able to cash in like never before.  For example, normally when a justice writes his memoirs, they sell about as well as the Elliott Spitzer Guide to Love and Monogamy.  But all of that will change when the justices have the opportunity to incessantly plug their latest book right from the bench.  "So, is it your contention that the dormant Commerce Clause, something covered extensively in my new book, If You Do Not Rehearse, We Must Reverse: 10 Keys to Effective Oral Argument Before the Supreme Court, which will be in stores on Tuesday but you can pre-order right now on ... what was I saying again?"

And if their show is a hit, the sky is the limit.  Celebrities like Paris Hilton make millions of dollars in personal appearance fees by appearing at night clubs and other "hip" venues.  Certainly, the justices could do likewise by appearing at say, hip-replacement centers or Hometown Buffet grand openings.  In fact, if they hire a certain legal humorist turned Supreme Court Justice publicist, they won't even have to attend these events to make out like bandits.  For example, instead of having Justice Ginsburg attend the Annual Appellate Expo and taking pictures with the attendees for $10 a pop, we could rent out this cardboard cut-out instead.

Or maybe not ...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy, Happy, Happy New Year!

I must confess that I entered the new year with a sense of  dread.  Let me explain.  Last year was an incredible year for me as a legal humorist.  It was so incredible that I didn't see how this year could possibly top it.  And with the news filled with stories of layoffs, foreclosures and bankruptcies, humor was going to be in short supply.

However, it appears that I was worried for nothing.  In less than 24 hours, I have been proven wrong.  After all, I had not taken into account the X factor -- ex-professional athletes.

Time and again, former professional athletes have come to the comedic rescue.  And true to form, Charles Barkley began 2009 with a bang by being arrested for DUI (Driving while Utterly Ignorant).  Not only did Sir Charles fail his field sobriety test, but he made my new year by making the dumbest statements to the police since Robert Blake's infamous "I left my gun in the restaurant" alibi.

After running a stop sign, Barkley tried to explain his behavior by telling the officers ... oh, you're going to love this one ... that he was in a hurry to pick up a woman who was waiting on a street corner for him at that very moment.  Barkley went further to explain that he was particularly anxious to pick up this woman because she was, shall we say, linguistically skilled.  In fact, according to Barkley, she had given him a "private concert" that qualified as ... and these are his words, not mine ... "the best one I have ever had in his life."

That's right!  This man who has aspirations of being the next governor of Alabama attempted to employ the "really good orally sex" defense as an excuse for running a stop sign and drunk driving.   Needless to say, the police were not convinced.  I also suspect that the soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Barkley won't be impressed either.  If his wife is anything like mine (and the fact that he is still alive, seems to indicate that she is nothing like my wife), her divorce attorney will be the only person delighted with Sir Stupid's simultaneous admissions to adultery and presumably solicitation as well (look at the mugshot above and you tell me if there are women out there looking to pleasure Sir Chunky for free).

And here is the truly amazing part ... The "I was in a hurry to cheat on my wife" statement was not Barkley's most ridiculous statement of the night.  That distinction belongs to his attempt at bribing a civilian police employee into forgetting about the whole thing with a promise to ... you're really going to love this one ... "tattoo your name on my ass."  Is that supposed to be some kind of perk?

Think about it.  Is this going to be the sentiment chiseled onto his tombstone by his friends and family -- "Here lies Billy -- loyal husband, dedicated father and the person referred to on Charles Barkley's butt."  And assuming that he always dreamed of achieving this rather unusual form of immortality, how would he manage to bring up this "accomplishment" in casual conversation?

"Oh, so you just got back from Mount Rushmore, huh?  Well, did I ever tell you that my name is tattooed on an equally large mound -- Charles Barkley's butt?  I did, huh?  Several times?  Well, never mind.  How was the weather in South Dakota?"

If the news for the next 364 days is anything like the news on January 1st, this is going to be a very, very good year; at least, for me (and lawyers specializing in representing the wives of ex-professional athletes).  In fact, if the big firms start practice groups in this thriving area, they might just be able to stem the tide of layoffs and most importantly, keep hiring humorists for their events.  Oh yes, 2009 is going to be the best year yet!