"D.C. Law Firm Suspends Woman Who Worked as Escort"

ABC News finds another person involved in the growing D.C. Madam scandal:

"A legal secretary at one of Washington's most prominent and well-connected law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, has been suspended after telling her bosses she secretly worked at night for the escort service run by the so-called D.C. Madam, Jeane Palfrey.

"The woman both serviced clients and, at times, helped to run the business, Palfrey told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast on '20/20' Friday.

"The firm said it would not make her name public.

"According to e-mails the woman sent to Palfrey on her Akin Gump account, she 'enjoyed and even missed' the work she did at night for Palfrey, who has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a large scale prostitution ring.

[snip]

"According to the e-mails provided to ABC News by Palfrey, the Akin Gump woman was interested in helping to restart the escort service after Palfrey had closed it, suggesting it could be done from the Akin Gump offices.

[snip]

"'I think that handling the phones 4 to 5 nights a week is a very fair offer and would be something that I could easily do, even with my paralegal duties as they could pretty much be done simultaneously in front of a computer,' she wrote."

This is just sad, very sad.


"Sunshine and Judge Seidlin"

Have to point to this very smart blog post about Judge Seidlin, of "judging on TV" fame:

"In 1933, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis advised, 'Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant.' True to this notion, Florida is known as the Sunshine State not only for its weather -- it has long been a leader in open government. But when it comes to cameras in the courtroom, does openness serve an injustice?

"After watching Judge Larry Seidlin's on-camera antics in the Anna Nicole Smith proceedings, Norm Pattis thinks so. At his blog Crime & Federalism, he says Seidlin singlehandedly rests the case against cameras in the courtroom. 'The judge sniveled and emoted like a pro se in traffic court for the cameras today, when he gave the lifeless body of Anna Nicole Smith [PDF] to the lawyer for her five-year-old daughter.'"

Highly recommend reading the entire post (& links)!


"PBS Series Spotlights the Supreme Court's Past & Present"

History, drama, games, timelines, personalities...did I mention games? What's not to like?

"At the rare times the Supreme Court pops into the consciousness of the public, it is usually because of a vexing case or, more recently, a personnel change or two. Rarely is there a chance to step back and look at the Court's history or its evolving role in the life of the nation.

"PBS makes a vitally important effort to do just that in a four-part documentary, The Supreme Court, which begins airing this week. It is a must-see series that takes the viewer back to the pitifully weak early days of the Court, then all the way forward to its current incarnation as a center-of-the-universe powerhouse. It perfectly tees up the current air of anticipation over just how conservative the new Roberts Court is -- or will be, with another vacancy or two."

It airs January 31 & February 7, 2007 @ 9 pm EST. Be sure to check your local listings.


CNN's Nancy Grace Sued Over 'Grilling' that 'Led to Suicide'

When does an aggressive interviewer go too far? Guess we'll find out with this wrongful death lawsuit:

"Relatives of a mother who committed suicide after CNN's Nancy Grace aggressively questioned her about the disappearance of her son sued the network and the talk-show host Tuesday, accusing Grace of pushing the woman over the edge.

"Melinda Duckett shot herself to death on Sept. 8, one day after taping a segment on Grace's CNN Headline News show in which Grace interrogated Duckett about her whereabouts on the August day that 2-year-old Trenton Duckett was reported missing. The network aired the segment after Melinda Duckett's death.

"Investigators have since named Melinda Duckett as the prime suspect in his disappearance."

CNN has mostly supported Grace; others perhaps not so much. What do you think?


"Justice: Pretty Woman"

Finally, a couple of paralegals actually have lines, scenes, & meaning in a TV show! You don't even have to guess what work they do. This FOX show recognizes the importance & permanence of paralegals in a law firm.  Gooooo bad TV!

"Oh my God. Did anybody else get dizzy while watching this? Maybe the target audience on this show is the MTV crowd. Jeez. All the handheld camerawork, quick edits and zooms made me queasy. That seemed new. Also new this week were the banners for different times in the case (i.e. 'Self Surrender', etc.). Kinda hokey and unnecessary. It also seemed like Rebecca Mader's appearance had been softened a bit since the premiere -- a positive change if you ask me. She seemed a little scary and inhuman in the pilot.

"The case: Music producer Lenny Stein is found dead in his hotel room and some young woman (Anne Diggs) was seen leaving. Instead of going to the cops when a sketch of her is plastered all over the media, Anne goes to TNT&G [fictional firm Trott, Nicholson, Tuller & Graves]. She claims it was self defense and Tom Nicholson (Kerr Smith) believes her. It's the top story on American Crime, so Ron Trott decides to work pro bono and raise money for Anne's defense fund by essentially blackmailing high-rollers who didn't want to make the witness list. Attorney Alden Ruller (Rebecca Mader) is suspicious of the girl's story, as am I. Nonetheless, Nicholson badgers Anne until she remembers where she ditched the murder weapon, a knife, and he and attorney Luther Graves (Eamonn Walker) go and pick it up off the street while a couple of paralegals worry about whether they're tampering with evidence. Graves tells them that defense attorneys can gather evidence just like prosecutors, but most are too lazy."


"Offering Truth and Illusion and Nothing but the Two"

Finally!  A TV show featuring paralegals as well as lawyers! 

"Celebrity trial lawyers are supposed to be flamboyant and theatrical. Yet the high-priced defense attorneys in Jerry Bruckheimer’s new courtroom drama on Fox, “Justice,” are not at all like F. Lee Bailey or Johnnie Cochran. They are as grimly focused and humorless as the crime lab detectives of 'CSI.'

"It’s the pretrial work that is the showy centerpiece of this series. Media spin, jury consultants and focus groups are the DNA swabs and bloodstain-pattern analysis reports of 'Justice.' And that makes it kind of fun: it is as if someone at Fox had ordered up a 'Trading Spaces' for television writers. Imagine what “Boston Legal” would look like if Jerry Bruckheimer were in charge instead of David E. Kelley.

"This series looks sleek but solemn. The camera zips and zooms jaggedly from character to character, while time-lapse photography punches up dramatic moments. These versions of the lawyers Denny Crane and Alan Shore from “Boston Legal” do not drink and smoke cigars in the workplace, and paralegals button their blouses as well as their lips."


"Supreme Court Pushes Back on Televised Proceedings"

Bad news! It would be great fun to watch the Supremes in action:

"Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy pushed back strongly Tuesday against a bill pending in the Senate that would require the Court to televise its proceedings.

"'Mandating direct televised proceedings would be inconsistent with the deference and etiquette that should apply between the branches,' Kennedy said in response to questions from House members at the Court's annual budget hearing Tuesday. 'We feel very strongly that this matter should be left to the courts.'"