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, readingroomdouchebagundergrads.blogspot.com]

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

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This Week In Detroit Corruption

[This was originally going to be a Kwame Kilpatrick post. That was yesterday morning. Then the news just kept on rolling in…]

It’s sad that we’ve hit a point of oversaturation with Kwame Kilpatrick that we don’t post that much of what goes on with him anymore unless it’s particularly noteworthy, like his attorney plays the Patrick Ewing “We make a lot of money but we spend a lot of money” defense.

But this week, Detroit’s reputation is taking a worse beating than Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull. Not only did Kwame swoop back into town in the face of a new arrest warrant, but Monica Conyers and Sam Riddle are back in the news for their roles1 in the Synagro bribery scandal. Plus we have news of a federal investigation into Kilpatrick family kickbacks and the fallout from the Detroit Law Department’s complete and utter lack of professional ethics.2

1 Alleged! 2 Truth!

Kwame Kilpatrick just won’t go away. He’d like to, certainly, but on his own terms. Those terms undoubtedly include not going to jail, and probably not reimbursing the city either.

His endless attempts to stay out of jail for violating his parole by not paying restitution as ordered looked to be coming to an end. After the Court of Appeals denied his attempt to overturn Judge David Groner’s order to pay $70k by February 26, Kilpatrick filed a motion to have Groner removed for being biased against him. [Mlive]

“There’s nobody else in Michigan who’s been scrutinized like this ever in the history of this court,” he said.  “And I accept that, but I also want some fairness and somebody to be non-biased.”

This morning, Wayne County Circuit Court presiding criminal judge Timothy M. Kenny denied Kilpatrick’s motion. Rather than deal with Kilpatrick once and for all, Groner has scheduled his probation hearing for March 24, giving us two more weeks of this crap. [The Detroit News].

Monica Conyers is an absolutely nuts. After years of megalomaniacal displays, she managed to stay out of the spotlight for six months after pleading guilty to accepting cash for a vote in the city-wide Synagro scandal.

Then Wednesday, like Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, she returned… and brought hell with her. [The Detroit News]:

An angry Conyers, who surprised U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn by announcing she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea on bribery charges, unleashed a loud courtroom tirade against federal prosecutors and the news media.

“I’m just not going to jail for something I didn’t do,” said the former Detroit city councilwoman. Conyers left the courtroom saying: “I’m appealing this case” because Cohn had “no right to do that.”

She apparently thought she’d get a lighter sentence.

It was disclosed for the first time that Conyers has attempted to cooperate with government prosecutors. According to Cohn, prosecutors said they are still checking out information she gave them but so far do not feel it is valuable enough to warrant a reduced sentence.

Cohn’s courtroom was packed, with dozens of people, including FBI agents who investigated the case, unable to get a seat to watch the sentencing.

“It was one of the most bizarre courtroom experiences of my career,” said Conyers’ attorney, Steve Fishman, who is in his 37th year of practice. He told Cohn after the hearing he needs to withdraw from the case as he could be called as a witness in any appeal.

“No judge in my memory has allowed cooperation (with prosecutors) to go unrewarded,” Fishman said. “That’s essentially what he did.”

Though Fishman did not argue that Conyers should be allowed to withdraw her plea, he told Cohn she deserved a much lower sentence. Cohn, he said, should resist media drum-beating for a harsh sentence.

They’ve made Monica Conyers the human pinata for all that is wrong with Detroit,” he said.

I’d bet Kwame probably disagrees with that statement. But even if it’s true, I’d say that Conyers has done a pretty good job of that all by herself.

Conyers also wanted Cohn and everyone else to think about the children:

Before the sentencing was announced, a strange series of events transpired, highlighted by Conyers’ request to withdraw her guilty plea. She was screaming that she had her own tapes that would exonerate her before the sentence was announced. She also yelled “What about my children? They did nothing to cause this!” before the sentence announced.

Also,Cohn disclosed today that his sentence was lighter than he had planned for it to be.

Monica’s old partner-in-alleged-crime Sam Riddle is back in the news, finally picking a new attorney who will take his case (and announcing it on Twitter): former DOJ attorney Richard Convertino. Now he needs to find another juror who believes he didn’t do it. [Detroit Free Press].

The Kilpatrick family’s troubles extend beyond Kwame, of course. A grand jury is looking into accusations that Karl Kado paid Kwame, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and his chief administrative officer Derrick A. Miller. The Detroit News has a transcript. The FBI is preparing federal charges, possibly racketeering, against Kwame.

Whether this is related to previous matter is yet to be revealed, but Kwame’s mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and her aide, Andrea Bragg, have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in Detroit.  Bragg said she’s coming but Carolyn? She’s going to talk to her attorney to see how she’ll respond. But with her son and husband involved in that investigation… [UPDATE: Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick said that she and Bragg will cooperate with the grand jury. She also said that she is “not a target.”]

The worst part is that I could go on. The Freep has a comprehensive list of the other scandals with which the city is still dealing.

The Joker (circa 1989) summed it up best:

This town needs an enema.”

Kilpatrick hearing mercifully closes

Closing arguments on the Kwame Kilpatrick restitution case start today, signaling the beginning of the end of this particular ring in the Detroit political circus.

A decision is expected by Jan. 20 – not a day too soon.

DETROIT (AP) — Closing arguments in the restitution hearing of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are scheduled to start in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Kilpatrick’s attorney has said his client’s $6,000 monthly payment to Detroit should be halved because he makes less money as a salesman for Dallas-based Covisint than he did when that amount was set.

Kilpatrick already has made several $3,000 payments.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Kilpatrick has not been truthful about his finances.

Judge David Groner says he will issue his ruling Jan. 20.