Casual Friday presents: Ohio, the Great Logic State

We hear a lot of criticisms from all sides about the Michigan Supreme Court and the justices’ alleged allegiances to certain special interests. But no matter what one may think about the Court, it could be worse: it could be the Ohio Supreme Court.

Just last week, the Ohio Supreme Court said police don’t need a radar gun to prove a driver was speeding – just the naked eyes of a trained observer.  And in case you thought it was just having a bad week, the court has outdone itself by applying a long-arm statute to a Virginia man who posted some critical statements about an Ohio company on eBay and two internet message boards. Neither the defendant nor any of the internet sites have any ties to Ohio.(To be fair, it affirmed an idiotic Court of Appeals decision, but isn’t that what Supreme Court is for? To overturn dumb decisions by lower courts?)

But the messages could be read in Ohio (and apparently were … by five people), therefore, the company could show the “publication” element in a defamation analysis. In other words, if you post something on the internet, from anywhere in the world, about someone from Ohio, Ohio has jurisdiction over you. (Michigan fans, watch what you write on message boards about Jim Tressel!)

Roberts posted his allegedly defamatory statements on the Internet, ostensibly for the entire world to see.

And according to the Ohio Supreme Court, the proper jurisdiction for defamatory internet postings is the entire world.

Thankfully, not everyone on the court is brain dead.

Today, the majority has extended the personal jurisdiction of Ohio courts to cover any individual in any state who purchases a product from an Ohio company and posts a criticism of it on the Internet with the intent to damage the seller.

The foreseeability of causing injury to an Ohio company, whether the injury is intended or not, without directing activity at forum residents, is not sufficient to establish minimum contacts.

Subjecting all individuals to suit in Ohio who post Internet reviews — no matter how scathing — of purchases made from Ohio companies does not comport with the due process notions of “fair play and substantial justice.”

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Casual Friday presents: Driving through Ohio? Good luck!

[A very brief version this time around.]

The gun just makes him look cool.

As if a road trip through Ohio didn’t have Michigan drivers paranoid enough, there’s this from Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News:

In a 5-1 ruling, the court said “a police officer’s unaided visual estimation of a vehicle’s speed is sufficient” as long as the officer is sufficiently trained and experienced in estimating speeds.

The ruling came about after an officer on radar duty stopped a motorist near Akron about two years ago for ripping along at 81 in a 60 mph zone.

The judge dismissed the citation when the officer couldn’t produce his radar certification, but did allow the experienced officer to estimate the driver’s speed at 79 mph.

The driver lost and then appealed to the Supreme Court where he lost again.

OK, first thing: Who on earth would appeal a speeding ticket to the Supreme Court?

And two: If you plan on attending this year’s Michigan-Ohio State game in Columbus, you may want to just rent a car in Toledo. No matter what it costs, it will be less than fighting an “estimated” speed assessment. It’s bad enough that I think the Ohio Highway Patrol gets their radar guns from the same place as Comerica Park (definitely a ‘hot gun.’) But now they don’t even need the evidence.

Casual Friday presents: Too Sexy For This Job

[Just so you know, I cringed as much as you did I wrote the horrible headline.]

The Michigan media is typically aghast and agog over the Hooters waitress(es) who were allegedly fired for, eh, not properly filling out their size S tops and hot pants. And really, why shouldn’t it be?

[My favorite quotes from all of the above links comes from Brian Dickerson’s Freep column:

To prove his point, Smith has cleverly brought to the Roseville Hooters one Ericka Whitaker, an Atlanta Hooters girl and former Radio City Music Hall Rockette whose height and weight are virtually identical to those of plaintiff Smith.

"It’s not what you weigh, it’s how you carry it," explains Whitaker…

I am fluent in Hooters. She means “in her bra.” And there’s this reminder:

Another buff exemplar of the Hooters je ne sais quoi, Brittany Richter of Roseville, follows Whitaker to the podium and underlines the point that Hooters girls are more than the sum of their stingily clad parts. "Wearing the orange shorts," she reminds us "comes with many responsibilities."

Apparently, these responsibilities include “Don’t eat the food at work.”]

But perhaps we’re backwards here. In New York, they fire people for being too sexy. [NY Daily News]


A Latina lovely says her bosses at Citigroup canned her for flaunting her ample assets at a midtown bank.

Dangerously curvy Debrahlee Lorenzana contends her ex-bosses at Citibank in the Chrysler Building banned her from wearing sexy outfits or heels deemed "too distracting" for male coworkers.

"I can’t help it that I have curves," Lorenzana told the Daily News.

"And I’m not going to go eat and gain 50 or 100 pounds because my job wants me to be the same size as everyone else."

Well, Debrahlee, have I got a job opportunity for you!

To show just how sexy she is, she posed for a NY Daily News photo gallery, complete with wardrobe changes. The power and force of her sexiness was so powerful, Citigroup felt it needed to do something to contain it.

The 33-year-old Queens woman filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court, claiming she was ordered to lay off turtlenecks, pencil skirts and fitted suits because clingy clothes were drawing too much attention in the workplace.

Citigroup, have you no decency?!

But I know what you’re thinking: She’s sexy, for sure (just ask her):

"I get harassed in the supermarket with my son just wearing sweatpants with my hair in a ponytail," she said. "I can’t help how I look."

But is she Hooters-worthy?

Lorenzana, who is 5-feet-6 and 125 pounds…

I guess that depends on “how she carries it.”

Elsewhere, in Utah, a woman is suing Google because her Google Maps directions included a half-mile walk down Deer Valley Drive (a Utah state road), and… let’s just say she took the directions literally and was hit walking down the highway.

Sarah Jacobsson of PC World fabulously deconstructs the case. I join in her opinion. Check it out.

Casual Friday presents: Attorneys Behaving Badly

Sometimes it’s not so easy to find a theme for a Casual Friday entry. Other times, it’s obvious.

Like this week, when, for some reason, I found more stories of attorneys in need of attorneys.  Here are the top three, with the requisite mug shots:

Bronze Medal: An attorney should do everything she can to help her client. Unless that includes smuggling drugs into jail for him. Especially if she isn’t really his attorney.

image Nina Backon is a Farmington Hills attorney, but, likely, not for long [The Detroit News]:

A 35-year-old Farmington Hills attorney is facing smuggling and drug possession charges after allegedly smuggling drugs into the Oakland County Jail for her boyfriend.

The charges stem from a visit last week with her boyfriend, Eric Edward Wilamowski, 23, also of Farmington Hills, in the jail.

Wilamowski had recently been sentenced to 93 days in jail for possession of drug paraphernalia. On May 5, Backon represented herself as his attorney in order to visit him. At the conclusion of the visit, police say, Wilamowski let it slip to the deputies that Backon was actually his fiancé, and at the end of that visit she was blowing kisses to Wilamowski.

After deputies confirmed she was not his attorney of record, she was escorted out of the building and told she would no longer be allowed attorney visits.

On May 7, she returned with legal papers that she had filed as an attorney on his case, police said. Deputies were suspicious of Backon and, at the end of that visit, searched Wilamowski and found six Xanax pills and 10 pouches of chewing tobacco. Wilamowski admitted Backon had brought the items to him.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the police obtained a search warrant [Observer & Eccentric]:

A Farmington Hills attorney and her fiance, already jailed on drug-related charges, face additional charges after an apparent marijuana-growing operation was uncovered in their apartment.

“I would say it was highly unlikely it was just for themselves,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard of the “well-equipped” growing operation found in the pair’s Farmington Hills apartment.

Nina Marie Backon, 35, and her fiance, Eric Edward Wilamowski, 23, were arraigned on the new charges via video this week from Oakland County Jail where both are lodged.

Backon is active in the medical marijuana movement, posting on compassion club sites. But still, without the proper paperwork, it’s, you know, illegal.

And she finished third…

Silver Medal: There’s creepy guy, there’s sleazy guy, and there’s this guy [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]:


A Cobb County attorney has been arrested for allegedly putting a surveillance camera under a woman’s desk.

Cobb County Sheriff’s Office James Frederick Tenney, of Marietta, faces three charges of unlawful surveillance.

A female employee of Merritt & Tenney L.L.P. noticed the device earlier this week and called Cobb County police. The man, James Frederick Tenney of Marietta, turned himself in Friday afternoon, according to Sgt. Dana  Pierce.

Tenney faces three counts of unlawful surveillance for apparently recording the woman three different times, Pierce said.

HT: ABA Journal

Still, there was one better/worse…

Gold Medal: I don’t know how many strikes you get in Texas before you lose your law license, but it’s more than two.

Meet Carolyn Machalac Barnes, a 52-year old attorney from Leander, Texas, a barrister that personifies the idea of “Don’t Mess With Texas,” as well as “You don’t know crazy” (or, as they say in Texas “You ain’t seen crazy”) [Austin American-Statesman]:

Williamson County sheriff’s officials have charged an attorney with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, saying she fired five shots when a U.S. Census Bureau worker visited her home Saturday , court records show.

And this was no mistaken identity either.

After Gittel identified herself as a census worker, Foster said, Barnes came outside with a handgun and told Gittel to get off the property.

Gittel “was apparently not getting off of her property fast enough, and Ms. Barnes decided to shoot five rounds in her direction,” Foster said. He said Gittel was not injured.

She fired five shots after the lady as she was leaving.

This was not a first offense for Barnes. She has a long and disturbing history of striking out at police/governmental workers. Like earlier this year, for instance [MyFoxAustin]:

According to an affidavit, 52-year-old Carolyn Machalec Barnes passed her belongings through an x-ray machine when she entered the courthouse.

As the items passed through, a security officer noticed a multi-use tool with a knife blade in with her things. Barnes was asked to leave and take the tool out to her car.

Honestly, who hasn’t this happened to? (Well, maybe not with a knife blade, but a cell phone or a key chain, certainly). You’re annoyed, sure, but mainly because you know you have to walk back to your car. Not Barnes:

When the guard told Barnes she would have to go outside to place the call, she turned around and hit him in the chest. At that point, officers restrained her and placed her in handcuffs.

Sheriff Office [sic] says that’s when she started screaming like an animal and threatened the officer.

Unhappy with the news coverage, she fired back like a celebrity – with a litany of incoherent messages through Twitter:

According to Barnes twitter page, she says that she never had a knife in her purse and that it was an eyeglass repair toolkit.  Barnes also noted on her twitter page that she never threatened or cursed at the officers.  She said that she was the one that was attacked by officers as she was reporting them for abuse.

It was an EYEGLASS REPAIR KIT! “That’s not handgun in my bag, it’s just a brass cleaner.” She was charged with striking an officer.

Even before that, in 2002, she turned a traffic stop into a scene from “First Blood” [State of Texas v Barnes]:

Koenig approached appellant’s vehicle again and repeated requests for her cooperation. Several times he asked her to roll down her windows or to get out of the truck, but she ignored these requests. More than once, he also told her, “Don’t make this difficult. This is a speeding ticket.”

Approximately forty minutes after the stop, and after consulting by phone with a superior officer, Koenig advised appellant that she was under arrest for evading arrest and refusing to accept the speeding citation. He requested that she peacefully step out of the vehicle and explained that if she did not, he would have to break the window and forcibly remove her. He then said, “Please do not force us to do that.” … When she did not respond, he repeated pleas for her to put the vehicle into park and to step out. After appellant ignored these latest pleas, Koenig broke a window in appellant’s truck and opened the doors. Koenig restrained appellant while Fisher attempted to restrain appellant’s son. Appellant shouted for the boy to run and shouted, apparently to anyone passing by or looking on, “They will kill him.”

And that’s not all. [Austin American-Statesman]

In 2000 , Barnes, frustrated by difficulties in resolving a traffic ticket, wrote a letter to the Cedar Park Municipal Court clerk saying she would “fight to the death” with anyone who tried to arrest her.

“This is why people bomb governmental offices, kill cops, and kill judges because of all the lies and abuses!” she said in the letter.

[End of Attorneys Behaving Badly]

Watch out, Schwarzenegger: Virg Bernero appeared on Fox News a couple months ago and was pretty fired up:

The Skype camera and the green suit makes him look like The Hulk.



And the delivery somewhat reminds me of…


The End: Remember the lady that wanted everyone to pay for her legal education by soliciting donations through PayPal? She has abandoned her quest because of “mean spirited blog posts.”

And finally, because the City of Detroit hasn’t embarrassed itself enough []:

6/03 Year in which Detroit presented Saddam Hussein with a key to the city: 1980

Source: Office of the Mayor (Detroit)


Casual Friday presents: OMG! JUSTIN BIEBER!

Two lawyers on a plane from DC to Chicago were totally(!) excited about being seated on the same plane with next to 16-year-old pop sensation Justin Bieber (ask your kids, or see below). However, had their hearts not been palpitating, they might have noticed someone a little bit more relevant to their profession [ABA Journal]:

What they hadn’t noticed as they passed through first class was the other celebrity aboard the flight—a friendly looking gentleman in a bow tie sitting in an aisle seat: retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

When told, the two stared at each other in mutual embarrassment.

"We’re both lawyers," said the husband.

And young.

Because I doubt many of you could pick Justin Bieber out of a lineup, here’s a picture of him impersonating President Obama.

That’s impressive.

Who needs school loans?: The interwebs have many uses (other than porn). Add begging to the list.

Sarah Allen is a North Carolina resident who wants to attend law school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Rather than kill the credit rating with $100,000 in law school debt that she’ll never pay back, she’s going to earn it the hard way (not that hard way) … she’s begging for you to pay for it [ABA Journal again!]

So Allen has set up a PayPal account and is appealing to the public to make donations there to help pay her tuition, McClatchy Newspapers reports. So far, three people have donated, she wrote Monday on her blog, Going to Law School Debt Free.

Maybe this bugs me because I think it’s pathetic that she would have the gall to do this. Maybe it bugs me because I didn’t think of it. Whatever the reason, apparently, I’m not alone. [Allen’s blog]

I’ve been doing some online research and discovered that the N&O and ABA articles have spread through the Internet like wildfire – accompanied by a plethora of extremely unkind and vulgar comments – many seemingly by disgruntled attorneys and law students who have already gone into massive debt. Those so eager to criticize me obviously do not know me and have not read my blog in full. Even so, those who are quick to judge make fools of themselves by displaying their ignorance. Apparently no one ever taught them that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Instead of rushing to judgment, why not get your facts straight and contact me directly?

Aw, now I feel bad. Not only am I displaying my ignorance, but my mother did a bad job raising me. Maybe I should hear her out.

One point that so many people seem to be missing is my desire and intention to start a debt-free scholarship fund to help others get a higher education without going into debt. Regardless of whether I choose to go to law school, this is one goal that I hope to pursue.

Oh, so it’s for other people! Not just yourself! I feel better about myself now.

In another post, she discussed the areas of law in which she’s interested. Unfortunately, one of them isn’t "federal income taxation."

We here in Michigan have a name for a person who gets loans that they aren’t expected to repay :

Finally: U-M Law School students would appreciate it if you would stay out of their library. [The wonderfully titled blog,]

Sonia Sotomayor, comic book hero. [The Legal Times].

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Casual Friday revisits Lawmiss

Judicial recusal, Ohio-style: Remember lawmiss, aka Shirley Strickland Saffold, the Cleveland judge who (allegedly) took to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer website comments to anonymously rip litigators who appear before her?
Obviously, the attorney she ripped, Rufus Sims, sought her recusal, which she refused, claiming that he had no proof.

While Saffold clung tight to her alibi that her daughter wrote those comments, Ohio Chief Justice Paul Pfeifer gave her the hook []:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Acting Ohio Chief Justice Paul E. Pfeifer removed Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold from hearing the case of accused serial killer Anthony Sowell Thursday.

Pfeifer made the ruling based on comments posted on about the Sowell case. The comments were posted through a username created with an AOL e-mail address used by Saffold. The judge has denied making the comments, and her 23-year-old daughter has said she posted them.

Pfeifer found no evidence to suggest that Saffold made the postings, but he found the comments have “created a situation that ‘poses an impediment to the judge’s ability to resolve any remaining legal and factual issues in a way that will appear to the parties and the public to be objective and fair.’ “

Finally: Apparently, there’s a Michael Jackson imitator from Allen Park who took his imitation goes too far [The News Herald]:

Picture 3

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Casual Friday presents: The Brutally Honest Judge

Canadian junior hockey player Chris Doyle was charged with hitting his ex-girlfriend in the face with a door, breaking her nose. He claims he punched the door in frustration, but didn’t intend to hit her in the face.

The judge found him guilty … but not as charged. [].

Junior hockey player Chris Doyle was found not guilty of assault Friday, but received some harsh words from P.E.I. Judge John Douglas.

“If he was charged with being a colossal a*****e, I would find him guilty,” said Douglas, chief judge of the provincial court.

“Of assault causing bodily harm, I find him not guilty.”

HT: Deadspin.

I think the hairstyle was enough evidence for the judge’s “verdict.”

Someone told him to wear a suit, but forgot to advise him to lose the fauxhawk.

OMG, you guys! If we’ve learned anything from watching John Hughes1 movies over the years, it’s that parents totally suck. So do siblings. And teachers. And pretty much anyone else who would ever get in the way of skipping school or attending some raucous high school party that would never exist in the real world because a) logistics, b) the neighbors would notice 100 people hanging out on your lawn and loud 80s music blaring and most likely call the police.

But no one’s parents ever sucked as much as this 16-year old Arkansas kid whose mom posted things on his Facebook page, then changed his password. So he filed a harassment lawsuit. First the facts, from the AP:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The mother of a 16-year-old boy said she was only being a good mom when she locked him out of his Facebook account after reading he had driven home at 95 mph one night because he was mad at a girl. His response: a harassment complaint at the local courthouse.

“If I’m found guilty on this it is going to be open season” on parents, Denise New said Wednesday.

New, of Arkadelphia,[2] a small college town an hour southwest of Little Rock, said many of her son’s postings didn’t reflect well on him, so after he failed to log off the social networking site one day last month, she posted her own items on his account and changed his password to keep him from using it again. But her son claims what she posted wasn’t true, and that she’s damaging his reputation.

“The things he was posting in Facebook would make any decent parent’s eyes pop out and his jaw drop,” Denise New said. “He had been warned before about things he had been posting.”

Lane New, who lives with his grandmother, filed a complaint with prosecutors who approved a harassment charge March 26. Neither New would say Wednesday which items on his Facebook site the boy had found slanderous.

“I probably made maybe three, maybe four actual postings — the rest of it was a conversation between my son, me and his personal friends,” Denise New said.

OK, this is where it starts getting interesting.

In his handwritten complaint to prosecutors…

And here I was thinking there was a professional involved. I think it looked something like this:


…Lane New asked that his mother have no contact with him and wrote, “Denise first hacked my Facebook and changed my password. She also changed the password to my e-mail so I could not change it. She posted things that involve slander and personal facts about my life.”

Denise New acknowledged changing both passwords to keep her son from getting access to his Facebook page. She denied hacking into the account.

“He left it logged in on my computer,” she said. “It’s not like I stole his laptop.”

Denise New said the boy had written on his Facebook page that he had gone to Hot Springs one night and drove 95 mph on the way home because he was upset with a girl. Several other posts on his site also bothered her, but she refused to elaborate.

She said he has since opened a new Facebook account.

Prosecutor Todd Turner declined to comment because the boy is a minor. His office issued a statement later saying the woman’s alleged statements about her son justified the harassment charge — though he would not describe the comments.

Denise New said Lane moved in with his grandmother about five years ago, after she went through a difficult divorce, was having mental health problems and didn’t feel she could provide her son with the supervision he needed.

She faces a hearing on the misdemeanor at the Clark County Courthouse on May 12.

And an update:

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (AP) — The lawyer for a 16-year-old who filed a complaint against his mother that resulted in a misdemeanor harassment charge says it’s OK for parents to monitor a child’s internet activities, but impersonation isn’t.

The charge against Denise New of Arkadelphia was filed last month, based on an affidavit her son, Lane New, filed with the prosecutor’s office. In the complaint, Lane New said his mother “posted things that involve slander and personal facts about my life.”

Lane New’s lawyer, Travis Berry,3 told the Arkadelphia Siftings[!!!] Herald newspaper that “monitoring your child’s Facebook is OK.” But he said impersonating someone else, posting inappropriate language or disclosing private facts on the site is not OK.

Neither party has said publicly what specific actions by Denise New upset Lane New.

Anyone who has lived in a dorm room or even with a roommate knows you NEVER leave anything open on your computer, unless you want to come home and find that your roommate just traded Albert Pujols for Gerald Laird. Or that you just posted on Facebook that you love Jane Austen novels. Call that a life lesson, young Mr. New.

Also, as for the things he allegedly posted that set his mom off, your future HR professional will warn you to post things on Facebook at your own peril.  Sure, he was locked out of his page, but, who knows? Post negative things about your office on Facebook and you can get fired. You have no right to privacy for the things you intentionally put out to the public.

1 John Hughes was born in Lansing? Who knew?!

2 Arkadelphia? Is there a city named Ark Angeles? Arkramento?

3 You mean there IS a professional involved?!

Lighting the Batsignal I was checking the AP ticker and saw this:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House has passed a measure allowing mothers to use deadly force if their unborn children are threatened.

House members passed the bill by a 131-21 vote. It now goes to the Senate.

Some Democrats questioned whether the legislation is necessary because a woman already has the right to protect herself if threatened.

Sponsoring Rep. Jeanie Riddle of Mokane says the bill comes in response to the case of a Michigan woman who was convicted of manslaughter after killing her boyfriend for punching her unborn baby. The conviction was later overturned.

Republicans say they don’t want to leave any chance that a Missouri woman could go through a similar situation.

Oklahoma passed a similar law last year.

When I saw this story, I thought the law was unnecessary and probably political grandstanding (Understanding that I don’t know specific Missouri law here, but the fact that a woman was originally convicted of manslaughter here is disconcerting.), since, in my opinion, it’s beyond reasonable for a juror to presume/imply that an unborn baby is inside the mother’s womb, thus a threat to it would be a threat to the mother, therefore, standard self-defense laws would apply. I recognize the argument that a threat to “punch an unborn baby” may not rise to fear of “imminent death” but the Michigan self-defense statute clearly states”:

(1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:

(a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.

Without delving into the morass of a futile debate over the morality of abortion, can’t we just agree that forcibly trying to kill a fetus with blunt force not in the interest of saving the mother’s life and against her will would place the fetus into the “another individual” category?

The reason for the Batsignal is that I want to read the case referenced in the story. The article says the conviction was overturned. I’m hoping there’s a COA case out there. Does anyone remember it?