Bitter News, Week of July 25th, 2011


Here are your headlines from the Bitter Newsroom, where we paint reality.

One Man’s Squatter is Another’s Possessor: In honor of bar exam week, we kick off with this delightful attempt at textbook adverse possession happening in Texas. The man learned that the Lone Star State requires only three years and, finding an abandoned home in foreclosure with a bankrupt mortgage lender, he may have found the ideal property to give it a spin. Neighbors are shocked and appalled, but we appreciate that he took time to learn the law rather than blab about how “fair” things are.


Let’s Rochambeau* For It: As far as insurance companies are concerned, friends who get into the habit of getting drunk and punching each other in the nuts (which we consider a term of art) do not thereby create an insurable accident when someone gets genuinely hurt. Additionally, we imagine that such friends would consider the filing of an insurance claim to be a “party foul, brah”. Have a hard time believing this happens? Read here, watch a few of these, and weep.

Felony Stupidity? While sailing on a large cruise ship, a drunk passenger managed to break into a control room and drop the anchor while the ship was the ship was sailing. Facing federal criminal charges, his lawyer claims that “an alcohol-induced reckless act does not necessarily equate to a violation of federal criminal statutes” and, because his client is rich, he should face only civil charges as he “has the money to pay restitution or any damages he has caused.” Nothing says class like claiming your client is so rich he’s above criminal charges.

No Refunds: A recent NYT article about the economics of law school generated buzz, but our eyebrows raised the highest at learning New York Law School charges higher tuition than Harvard. Meanwhile, most NYLS graduates find work in small to medium firms at salaries between $35,000 and $75,000 –often while trying to scrape by in NYC. Please stop the ride, we’d like to get off.

Genuine Apple-Like Product: Piracy in China reached a new level of sophistication when a blogger unearthed a fake-but-very-plausible Apple Store in Kunming. While some customers patronized the store while knowing its counterfeit status, the international media attention caused genuinely confused buyers to ask for refunds. Pssh…We in the Newsroom know a genuine Magnetbox when we see one.

The Cruelest Cut of All: California legislators want to circumvent San Francisco’s proposed circumcision ban. The city’s ballot measure to penalize those who snip the tip, regardless of religious or social persuasion, has already provoked constitutional challenges. We will not be satisfied unless this hits the Supreme Court so we can read Justice Scalia’s opinion on the matter.

Those Wacky Utahans: Utah’s liquor laws are as entertaining as they are Byzantine. If you like ski country, over-cheery people, and helping people open bars, this might be fun area for a niche practice.

We Must Dissent: The Washington Post called the appointment of a gay judge to the federal bench “remarkable”. We wonder why it took so long.

Isn’t That What Craigslist is For? The Illinois attorney who posted an infamous Craigslist ad for a “secretary/legal assistant” in “adult gigs” a few years ago is facing a one year suspension by the state bar. The man, who’s already given up legal practice, claims he posted it as a gag. The gag spun out of control when he received an actual application and made a semi-lewd reply that was reported to the bar. Remember: making a tacky Craislist ad may be sanctionable for “reflecting poorly on the legal profession”, but sleeping around with various partners and staff probably won’t.

Just Don’t Try the Chair: Bored residents somewhere in the uncharted lands of Missouri paid cash money to stay a night in jail and be treated like prisoners. The arrangement allowed jailers to test their new jail before it officially opened and gave the temporary inmates stories that make them sound pathetic then they tell people they payed to stay in jail. As no one was shived or made into another prisoner’s bitch sex slave, we see the experience as a tad too Disney.

A.B.A. Jam: In response to pressure from the U.S. Department of Education and with a desire to improve the quality of legal education and graduates, the American Bar Association proposes requiring that 80% of a law school graduates pass the in-state bar to maintain the school’s accreditation. The current, unofficial standard is 70%. If the ABA wants to find a solution to the glut of attorneys in recent years, this may provide an answer.

Monkey Business Redux: Looks like those monkey self-portraits mentioned last week may be in the public domain after all. Something about a need for human authorship and U.S. copyright code; we say raspberries to all of that–if a gorilla can learn sign language a monkey can produce art or at least drag a few more humorous stories out of it.

It’s Stuck in Our Heads!

But we still love its endearing stupidity.

*Yes, Mr. Wikipedian, we are aware that “rochambeau” originally meant rock-paper-scissors, now we don’t you go on and harass some other folks about minor grammatical technicalities?

Read more from the Bitter Newsroom.

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