Thursday, April 28, 2016

When will lawyers rise (like elevators) to the occasion?

D. Casey Flaherty

When will lawyers rise (like elevators) to the occasion?
ABA Journal News Online
By D. Casey Flaherty
March 17, 2016

It took 50 years from the advent of the driverless elevator for the public to become comfortable enough to use them. Even then, it was only because the elevator operators’ union went on strike and Big Elevator finally went the Mad Men route of advertisements showing children gleefully pressing the buttons. Before the public campaign, people would get into the empty elevator, wait, and angrily exit to find the operator.

It is a matter of intense debate whether lawyers will find themselves facing the same kind of technological unemployment that has caused elevator operators to all but disappear. That, however, is not the analogy that interests me. I am not sure what the future holds.

But in the present, too many lawyers share much of the helplessness, frustration and unnecessary labor of the passengers who take the stairs for want of operators to hit the elevator buttons for them. The truth is that even if we could press pause on technological progress, the legal community would still have considerable work to do to integrate existing process and technology improvements into the delivery of legal services.

With the focus on the divergent conclusions reached by those welcoming our new robot overlords and those doubting the mass displacement of lawyers by capable machines, overlooked is the fact that these authors fundamentally agree that technology already has changed and will continue to change the way that law is practiced. The point of disagreement is over the scope of the change in the future, not whether change is happening or whether that change means that lawyers need to adapt. There is unanimity that the profession cannot meet the challenges of the modern world without taking advantage of the innovations that make the world modern.

The sardonic engineering joke that when brute force fails, you aren’t using enough, has long been an operating a principle in legal market that has thrown highly educated bodies at the accelerating problems of scale and scope (think legions of document review attorneys). Brute human force only goes so far in the era of big data. "Big data" is one of those labels that, like "disruption," may suffer from terminal misuse. But the framework erected to explain big data does a serviceable job of describing the mounting challenges of operating in the modern world. The standard four V’s of big data are volume, velocity, variety, and veracity. We operate in situations of increasing uncertainty as we attempt to handle more diverse matter faster. Or, in the mantra of in-house counsel, we keep trying to do more with less. This means increasing reliance on machines. As economist Alex Tabarrok explains:

  • It’s not simply that the algorithms are good and getting better: It’s that the highest-productivity people will use their human intelligence to complement machine intelligence. That means trusting the machine to curate millions of items, bringing only the most important to your attention, and then using human intelligence to take action on the most important items … Even when the filter is imperfect, you are more likely to discover something of importance from 100,000 items imperfectly filtered to 100 than from 1000 items perfectly filtered to 100.

As Tyler Cowen argued in Average is Over, the future belongs to people who can defer to the algorithm.

Google and spam filters are further examples of algorithms that are both imperfect and absolutely essential given our concerns about the veracity of information that keeps increasing in volume, velocity, and variety. Indeed, one could argue (jokingly) that Google is just trying to replicate at scale that which lawyers have been doing all along: "Google’s algorithms produce educated guesses based on similar, recent, citable precedents from the highest authority in your jurisdiction. Google just happens to do this instantly and at an incomprehensible scale (45 billion pages and counting)." Despite our head start, Dan Katz estimates that lawyers are about 40 years behind other industries on the spectrum of technology diffusion.

Lawyers are absolutely using more technology than ever before (and expressly reducing their administrative support staff on that basis). Some lawyers are quite good with technology. But, overall, the rate of adoption and adaption are maddeningly slow.

To take the most ordinary examples, we remain universally terrible with Word, Excel, PDF and other ubiquitous desktop software that we’ve been using since the dawn of Windows. Our inboxes (PDF) are both a disaster and our primary document management systems, a function for which they are ill suited. Time wasted on digital research remains a huge pain point (PDF). We are way behind on the use of e-signatures (PDF) despite technological advancements and legislative changes that are almost two decades old. We have barely scratched the surface of document assembly, document automation (PDF), knowledge management, and expert systems that have been available since the ’80s. And the less said about cybersecurity (PDF), the better.

It may very well prove true that human + machine will outperform human or machine alone. But that only holds if the human is actually using the machine instead of waiting angrily for the operator to arrive.

D. Casey Flaherty is the founder of the legal tech consultancy Procertas, provider of the Legal Tech Assessment. He was a 2013 ABA Legal Rebel. He also serves on the board of advisors of NextLaw Labs.

Editor’s note: The New Normal is an ongoing discussion between Paul Lippe, the CEO of Legal OnRamp, Patrick Lamb, founding member of Valorem Law Group and their guests. New Normal contributors spend a lot of time thinking, writing and speaking about the changes occurring in the delivery of legal services. You’re invited to join their discussion.

Updated on April 15 to fix a typo.

 My response here after the ABA comments closed: mcorleone wrote: "Legal intellect is a commodity outside of the top 5% of lawyers." Agreed, one of the best comments ever on this site. Problem for the public, the other 95% of lawyers generate excessive rents and contribute little value for their "commodity" which arguably could be provided by a paralegal or Watson, etc.

Generally, the 95% maintain the status quo through mandatory state bar organizations, UPL laws, and the Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System. Another problem not discussed, certain unified state bars (Florida) that have essentially abandon the rule of law, and make a mockery of Model Rule 8.3: Reporting Professional Misconduct

Maintaining The Integrity Of The Profession
Rule 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct
  • (a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.
  • (b) A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge's fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.
Until the judiciary replaces the lawyer-judge model, the legal profession will continue downward. Lawyers are trained to advocate for clients. Prosecutors are trained to advocate for the state. Judges are supposed to be neutral, but all judges are either former lawyers and/or are former prosecutors. A truly independent judiciary requires a judicial profession separate from the legal profession, civil servant judges who are not trained as lawyers or prosecutors, and who have not practiced law. Civil servant judges trained as neutral judges, aided by Watson, Al, or computer judges.

Under our current lawyer-judge model, judges too often are lawyers who can’t earn a living practicing law anymore. They take campaign contributions from lawyers, money with an implicit expectation of return.

Likewise with the adversarial system; really just a fee generator that is broken in many parts of the country. See Amy Bach, Ordinary Injustice, collapse of the adversarial system
The collapse of the legal system is only a matter of time. These stories are too little, too late.
 Can/Should Computers Replace Judges? by Anthony D’Amato
11 Georgia Law Review 1277-1301 (1977)

"The most important inquiry in jurisprudence has always seemed to me to be whether it is
possible to have the rule of law rather than the rule of persons. In what sense can an abstraction
called "law" actually shape the lives and channel the behavior of persons? Does law "dictate" the
proper result in a given case even if the judge's personal inclinations would be to award the
decision in a different fashion? And how can we tell? Judges are preeminently capable of
rationalizing their results and couching them in appropriate-sounding legal phrases."

Judges in Jeopardy!: Could IBM’s Watson Beat Courts at Their Own Game?
ABA Technology Assisted Review: The Judicial Pioneers

Monday, April 11, 2016

Judge orders eviction of 100-year-old woman for causing commotion

Evelyn Heller
Judge orders eviction of 100-year-old woman for causing commotion
ABA Journal
By Debra Cassens Weiss
April 05, 2016

A judge in Riverside County, California, evicted a 100-year-old woman from her Palm Springs apartment on Friday based on a request from her landlord, who sought her ouster because of alleged loud arguments and "deplorable conditions" in her apartment.

The woman, Evelyn Heller, defended herself, the Desert Sun reports. She did a brief hula dance after being sworn in, then later hovered by the judge’s bench during arguments. She was unable to read a court document until someone in the audience volunteered her eye glasses.

A Desert Sun reporter who visited Heller’s apartment said her carpet was dirty and her living room was cluttered with boxes and stacks of magazines. The mess, however, was "far from the point of hoarding," the newspaper reported.

The landlord, Deep Canyon Desert, was represented by William Windham. He told the Desert Sun he felt conflicted but it was part of his job as an eviction specialist.

"I’ve evicted people off of their death beds and regretted every second of the trial," Windham said. "But my job is unfortunately to set my feeling aside and do what my clients ask me to do."

"It would be same if this was a lady who was 30 years old and had five children, or a little old man with cancer," he told the Desert Sun. "If you have a commotion being caused on the property, and the people won’t stop, you have no choice but to take action."

Heller didn’t realize she had lost the case until a deputy told her outside the courtroom. She has two weeks to find a new place to stay. Read more

100-year-old woman booted from her Palm Desert home
The Desert Sun
By Brett Kelman
April 2, 2016

Evelyn Heller, a frail-but-feisty great-grandmother with a long white ponytail, shuffled across a Palm Springs courtroom, barely lifting her feet taking tiny steps. When she reached the judge’s bench, she eased forward on to her toes, then leaned in close, as if unable to see the man in front of her.

"I’m 100 years old!" Heller shouted, before turning her attention to an attorney on the other side of the courtroom. "And I don’t understand what they are talking about."

Heller, a Coachella Valley resident who was born in 1915, was evicted from her Palm Desert apartment during a brief trial at the Palm Springs courthouse on Friday morning. Despite reluctance voiced by both the judge and the plaintiff’s attorney, Heller was ordered out of her home, and told to pay $616 in prorated rent and more than $800 in court and attorney’s fees.

She now has about two weeks to leave her apartment. Heller said she does not know where she will go.

"I have four grandsons, but I don’t want to be dependent on them," Heller told the judge, pleading. "I can’t be a burden to my family. They don’t have room for me. That happens in life."

Heller’s landlord, Deep Canyon Desert LLC, which owns and manages a small cluster of beige apartments at 45200 Deep Canyon Road, said it wanted Heller evicted because she often had loud, disruptive arguments with one of her daughters. The company threatened to evict her twice before, but nothing improved, so it followed through this time.

The apartment complex manager, Melody Morrison, also told a judge said Heller kept the apartment in "deplorable conditions." A Desert Sun reporter who visited the apartment on Friday afternoon found the carpet dirty and the living room cluttered with boxes and stacks of magazines, but far from the point of hoarding.

After court, Morrison declined to comment, then walked briskly away from a reporter to avoid questions. The company’s attorney, William Windham, an eviction specialist, said his client did not want to evict Heller, but felt it was a reality of their business.

Windham said he felt conflicted too.

"I’ve evicted people off of their death beds and regretted every second of the trial," Windham said. "But my job is unfortunately to set my feeling aside and do what my clients ask me to do."

"It would be same if this was a lady who was 30 years old and had five children, or a little old man with cancer," he added. "If you have a commotion being caused on the property, and the people won’t stop, you have no choice but to take action."

In this case, that action came in the form of an "unlawful detainer," which is a mundane court filing in which a landlord asks a judge to force a tenant from a property. Cases like these are rarely worthy of media attention, but the trial held on Friday morning was a strange one.

Heller defended herself, despite the fact that she could barely see or hear. After she took an oath to tell the truth, she kept her hand raised and did a brief hula dance, then laughed under her breath. Her eyesight was too poor to read court documents until someone volunteered a pair of eye glasses from the courtroom audience.

And finally, when it came time for arguments, Heller refused to stay at the defendant’s table, and instead hovered on the edge of the judge’s bench, unwilling to sit. For most defendants, this would result in a firm response from the bailiffs – including possible arrest – but as Heller pleaded with the judge, barely out of arm’s reach, deputies stood back and watched, uncertain how to react.

This leniency appeared to be a sign of sympathy, but in the end it didn’t matter. Riverside County Judge Charles Haines ruled against Heller without any deliberation. He issued his judgment in a low, hushed tone that she couldn’t hear.

Outside the courtroom, a deputy had to explain to her that she had lost.

"What? What kind of ridiculous thing is that?" she snapped, as the reality of the ruling set in. "But I don’t have any money." Read online

Reporter Brett Kelman can be reached at (760) 778 4642, or @TDSbrettkelman on Twitter.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

How extortion mills (courthouses) work

How extortion mills (courthouses) work
By Carey Wedler

A couple weeks ago, [Carey Wedler] spoke with victims of the state's force and fines on their way out of court. Here we discuss [with Dustin Kelly] why the government does whatever it wants and whether or not its services are worth the hassle.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Judge Posner suggests changes to improve jury trials

Posner says Bluebook is '560 pages of rubbish,' suggests changes to improve jury trials
American Bar Association (ABA) Journal
By Debra Cassens Weiss
March 29, 2016

Judge Richard Posner acknowledges his reputation as a "naysayer" and "faultfinder" yet proceeds to find fault with The Bluebook (it is "560 pages of rubbish") and the uneven quality of trial lawyering.

Lawyers often differ greatly in quality, and that distorts the trial process, according to Posner, a judge on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A uniform system of lawyer pay—funded by the government—could reduce uneven quality, Posner says in an article (PDF) for the Green Bag. His one-paragraph pay suggestion is part of a broader analysis of problems with jury trials and appellate litigation.

"Differences in the quality of lawyers wouldn’t matter a great deal," Posner writes, "if, for example, they were compensated as judges are: with a uniform government salary unrelated to outcomes or the relative wealth of the respective parties in a case. (The analogy is to a ‘single payer’ system of medical care.) There would then be no contingent fees and no $1,100 an hour billing rates. My pay isn’t docked if I’m reversed by the Supreme Court, and neither do I get a bonus if the Court affirms a decision of mine."

Posner goes on to quote a commentator who says commercial lawyers are working in a "zero-sum tournament" in which additional legal effort purchased by a party increases the chances of winning, rather than generating more justice. In a footnote, Posner says he wouldn’t limit the critique to commercial lawyers.

Posner calls the legal profession "complacent, self-satisfied" despite a legal system that has proven ineffectual at dealing with a host of problems. Among them: problems in delivering useful legal training at bearable cost, and in providing representation to "the vast number of Americans who are impecunious or commercially unsophisticated (so prey to sharpies)."

Posner goes on to propose changes that could improve jury trials. He endorses judges appointing neutral experts in cases involving difficult technical issues, giving jurors transcripts of testimony that can be read simultaneously with the testimony, and allowing trial judges to do Internet research (as long as lawyers can contest the results).

Posner also suggests that judges eschew pattern jury instructions that are "largely unintelligible to jurors." Posner says he writes his own jury instructions when he conducts trials as a volunteer in his circuit’s district courts.

Posner also dislikes The Bluebook. He has his own instructions on citation format, consisting of two pages in an office manual he gives to his law clerks.

"The first thing to do," Posner writes, "is burn all copies of the Bluebook, in its latest edition 560 pages of rubbish, a terrible time waster for law clerks employed by judges who insist, as many do, that the citations in their opinions conform to the Bluebook."

Posner also criticizes appellate opinions, which "tend to be overlong, crammed with irrelevant facts and repulsive legal jargon." Read more

What is Obviously Wrong With The Federal Judiciary Yet Eminently Curable
19 GREEN BAG 2D 187, Part I, by Richard A. Posner

The problem when capitalists make nothing but money
The Times Literary Supplement, by Paul Collier 

The Green Bag Official website; Green Bag literature; The Green Bag Wikipedia
The Bluebook A Uniform System of Citation; Bluebook Wikipedia
 Baby Blue (PDF) is a free alternative to the Bluebook

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The End of Lawyers, Period.

The End of Lawyers, Period.
The ABA Journal Online
Legal Rebels 
By D. Casey Flaherty
March 3, 2016

The law does not exist for the purpose of keeping lawyers employed. I cribbed that line—and many others—from Richard Susskind back in the days when there was still a question mark punctuating The End of Lawyers?

I think it is fair to say that Susskind has gotten past the interrogative. In his latest book, The Future of the Professions, he and his son, Daniel, write "we foresee that, in the end, the traditional professions will be dismantled, leaving most (but not all) professionals to be replaced by less expert people and high-performing systems."

If that is not clear enough, consider:

"Our expectation is that, over time—by which we mean decades rather than overnight—there will be technological unemployment in the professions. In other words, there will not be sufficient growth in the types of professional task in which people, not machines, have the advantage to keep most professionals in full employment."

Similar pronouncements in other sectors has given rise to a general sense of automation anxiety, where worries of a jobless future lead to headlines like "A World Without Work" that in turn engender further headlines like "Americans Are More Afraid of Robots Than Death." There is plenty of counterprogramming that relies on the Luddite Fallacy and the automation paradox to assure us that on net, technology increases the demand for human labor and to explain that the automation of tasks rather than jobs will change, not eliminate, work.

Automation anxiety is fairly acute in legal (or, maybe, it just seems that way because that is where I spend my time). The 2015 Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition survey (PDF) asked managing partners if a law-focused Watson would replace timekeepers—just as technology has displaced legal secretaries, seemingly permanently. Only 20 percent responded that computers will never replace human practitioners. That was down from 46 percent when the same question was posed to the same group in 2011, the year Watson first won Jeopardy! As always, there is counterprogramming like the recent New York Times’ Bits blog post "The End of Lawyers? Not So Fast." that, among other sources, cites to a draft study Can Robots Be Lawyers? which, while not yet for quotation, seems destined to conclude that the popular accounts of the potential displacement of lawyers by automation are a bit overblown. Read more

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hideaway from politics

Kiesza is a fine antidote to Trump and his gilded glamour. Hideaway, now an international hit, was filmed by Kiesza’s brother in Brooklyn on the second take.

Kiesza trained for a career in ballet until a knee injury, studied classic piano, and served in the reserves of the Royal Canadian Navy. Kiesa Rae Ellestad (born January 16, 1989), better known as Kiesza, is a Canadian singer and multi-instrumentalist from Calgary, who has most recently worked in New York City and London. Wikipedia

Interview with Kiesza, by Kelly Alexander on Virgin Radio Montreal.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Trump’s pitch: His gilded glamour

Trump’s pitch: His gilded glamour
Stars and Stripes
By Virginia Postrel
Special to The Washington Post
March 20, 2016

Why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? One popular theory holds that his supporters are bigots angered by America’s changing racial mix. Another is that they’re salt-of-the-earth working folks left behind by the loss of manufacturing jobs, alienated from the moneyed ruling class and irritated by the tyranny of political correctness. Or some combination thereof.

These theories, which contain elements of truth, emphasize Trump’s dire assessment of present-day America and his followers’ discontent. They focus on negative sentiment. But an important part of the story is Trump’s positive allure — the way the candidate taps into, and projects, the most fundamental outlines of the American Dream.

Conventional explanations miss the glamour of Trump’s message.

The word "glamour" originally meant a literal magic spell that makes people see things differently than they are. Understood correctly, glamour is not a particular style — different styles seem glamorous to different people — but, like humor, a form of communication that creates a specific emotional response. Glamour generates a feeling of projection and longing: "if only." If only I could walk that red carpet, drive that car, wear that dress, belong to that group, have that job, be (or be with) that person … if only I could have that life.

The feeling is universal, but the manifestation is particular: One person’s glamorous vacation may be a busy trip to Paris, while another dreams of the solitude of a mountain cabin. What you find glamorous depends on who you are — and who you yearn to be.

To tastemakers and TED talkers, Trump may seem impossibly vulgar, with his braggadocio, teased hair and preference for well-done steaks. But one definition of "vulgar" is "of or relating to the common people," and a lot of folks find Trump their kind of tycoon: a totem of success in whom they can imagine their ideal selves. "Trump is the big time, the bright lights, the fancy everything, and wealth and fame and all things I am not but would like to be," said supporter Michael Stuart Kelly, who runs an Internet marketing company. Kelly believes that the candidate appeals to "good, intelligent, productive people who dream big, even when they can’t live it." Unlike moguls who inspire resentment, Trump encourages his audience to imagine sharing his success.

Even more than fashion and film, the real estate and travel industries — where Trump has made most of his money — employ glamour as a tool of persuasion and sales. With carefully crafted words and imagery, marketers invite customers to project themselves into a different, better setting and, through it, a different, better life. Stay in a Trump hotel, the corporate website promises, and you won’t just get a nice room and good service. You’ll enjoy "a lifestyle where you can do more, experience more and live life without boundaries, limits or compromise." Glamour is much more than luxury. It promises transformation.

In this way, Trump combines powerful charisma, which draws audiences to enlist in his cause, with the glamorous salesmanship of a real estate brochure. At times the appeal is so explicit, it’s meta: "We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again," he said in announcing his candidacy.

His branding efforts permeate everything he says, with his repetition on the campaign trail of certain words: "win," "respect," "strong," "powerful," "rich," "leader" and, of course, "build." The right words can cast a spell, even if they don’t really make sense. "We are going to do something so good and so fast and so strong, and the world is going to respect us again, believe me," Trump told supporters after his win in New Hampshire, letting them fill in the blanks with their own desires. (It’s a trick well-honed during his business career. He once asked a vendor: "What should I call my next project? Celestia? Empyrean? Royal Imperial Regal?")

Like all forms of glamour, this salesmanship transmits an artificial sense of grace. It conceals effort, costs, difficulties and flaws: the constant maintenance that keeps the golf course pristine, the wear from real-life traffic on the white rug, the sand in the bathing suit, the jet lag, the family squabbles. Like the performance of a magic trick, glamour relies on the suspension of disbelief.

On the campaign trail, the candidate portrays himself as a maker. "Who can build better than Trump? I build; it’s what I do," he said, defending the practicality of his proposed border wall. For his supporters, the attraction is not just the possibility that the wall will be built but the belief that their candidate is a doer, someone whose abilities transcend the quotidian and inadequate skills of the political class currently in power. The builder image carefully omits the fact that these days, Trump doesn’t make his money by erecting new high-rises or resorts. Instead, he’s turned himself into what branding consultant Robert Passikoff calls "a human brand extraordinaire." He licenses his name to other developers as a lifestyle promise, which turns out to add significant value. Read more

Marco Rubio ends presidential bid

Marco Rubio ends presidential bid after crushing Florida loss
The Miami Herald 
By Patricia Mazzei 
March 15, 2016 

Marco Rubio put an end to his collapsing presidential campaign Tuesday after getting battered by Republican front-runner Donald Trump in Rubio’s home state of Florida.

"There’s nothing more you could have done," Rubio reassured dejected supporters gathered in the cramped lobby of Florida International University’s basketball arena. "While we are on the right side, this year we will not be on the winning side."

He blamed the "political establishment" for failing to pay heed to real frustrations from conservative voters. The Florida senator said voters repeatedly showed their complete disregard for politicians, beginning even before the 2010 tea-party wave that got Rubio elected. Yet their concerns went unheard, and their leaders need to do better, he said. "I understand all of these frustrations, and yet when I decided to run for president, I decided to run a campaign that was realistic on all of these challenges," he said.

"From a political standpoint, the easiest thing to have done in this campaign is to jump on all of those anxieties."

In an indirect jab at Trump, Rubio added a plea to the Republican electorate: "I ask the American people: Do not give into the fear."

 Rubio congratulated Trump from stage but said he hadn’t spoken to him. Read more

Rubio failed, and not just because of Trump
Stars and Stripes Opinion
By Jonathan Bernstein
Bloomberg View
March 17, 2016

The 2016 demise of Marco Rubio has been obvious for a while, but it is nevertheless a very big event. He was the Republican Party’s choice. He lost.

Starting last fall, I said he would be the most likely winner. I continued saying that through the early primaries and caucuses. In fact, he seemed on track to win up until his disappointing Super Tuesday on March 1, and even in the days after that I thought he was in fairly good shape — that is, right up until his support collapsed the weekend after Super Tuesday.

Since I have been dead wrong about Rubio, I can’t turn around immediately and tell you why he lost. It’s something all of us who study presidential nominations are going to need to study, and it’s going to take some time, especially for those who believe that strong parties made up of formal organizations and informal networks control their presidential nominations.

Is this year a fluke? A sign that the system has changed? Frankly, I don’t know right now.

But I can run through some reasonable explanations of what happened with Rubio.

1) The party chose a fatally flawed candidate. Some commentators have floated variations of this explanation. One is that Rubio wasn’t appealing to Republican voters. But for most of the contest, Rubio’s favorability scores among Republicans were excellent. Even when he lagged in the horse-race polls, he usually did well when pollsters probed beyond the top vote choice among Republicans.

I’m also skeptical of blaming his position on immigration or his hawkish foreign policy. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney won Republican nominations with problems that were more severe.

A more plausible explanation of Rubio’s weakness is that he choked under pressure. His poor debate before the New Hampshire primary when he repeated a line multiple times, and his debate after Super Tuesday when he got down in the mud with Trump, both appear to have been disasters. Read more

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rigged Justice: 2016 How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders off Easy

Rigged Justice: 2016 How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders off Easy

Press Release. Senator Warren Releases "Rigged Justice," First Annual Report Detailing How Weak Federal Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy

Jan 29, 2016

A PDF copy of the report is available here

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren today released a report titled Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy. The report, the first in an annual series on enforcement, highlights 20 of the most egregious civil and criminal cases during the past year in which federal settlements failed to require meaningful accountability to deter future wrongdoing and to protect taxpayers and families. Read more

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mississippi Goddam (Florida Goddam)

New Petition No. SC14-1637, Florida Supreme Court

The Smiling Faces of Evil 

UPDATE February 18, 2015

Supreme Court records obtained show certain pleadings, letters and other documents filed in Petition No. 12-7747 were received by the Supreme Court January 24, 2013 (date stamped Received, Jan 24 2013 Office of the Clerk, Supreme Court, U.S.). But those pleadings, letters and other documents do not appear on the Supreme Court’s docket for Petition No. 12-7747.

Supreme Court records were provided by the National Archives and Records Administration,
and researcher Mark Leutbecker, Nicklason Research Associates.

Therefore a reasonable person could conclude that U.S. Supreme Court Petition No. 12-7747 was compromised. A reasonable person might also conclude that the compromise of Petition No. 12-7747 was due to "a special relationship with the Chief Justice of the Untied States" with former Florida Chief Justice Ricky Polston, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Claudia Rickert Isom, and former Florida Bar President Gwynne Alice Young.

UPDATE January 21, 2015

On information and belief, the foregoing is evidence of misconduct by former Chief Justice Ricky Polston, Judge Claudia Rickert Isom, and Florida Bar President Gwynne Alice Young. Presenting Claudia Isom the Distinguished Judicial Service Award while Isom was a Respondent in Petition No. 12-7747 for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, along with the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, is conduct unbecoming a member of the bar that is prohibited by Rule 46 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure because it implied "a special relationship with the Chief Justice of the Untied States".

In determining what conduct violates Rule 46, an earlier Supreme Court [In re Snyder 472 U.S. 634, 645 (1985)] found tribunals should consider "case law, applicable court rules, and ‘the lore of the profession,’ as embodied in codes of professional conduct," such as the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Judge Isom’s appearance January 31, 2013 in the Florida Supreme Court Chamber violated, inter alia, Rule 8.4(e) of the Model Rules, which says it is professional misconduct for an attorney to "state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law."

The Distinguished Judicial Service Award itself appears to be a sham anyway. Officially the
award "honors outstanding and sustained service to the public especially as it relates to support
of pro bono legal services". But for the past three years the award was given to judges or a
spouse who in my Hillsborough case denied me basic due process.

In 2012 Judge James M. Barton, II, got the Distinguished Judicial Service Award, presented by
the Chief Justice Polston in the Supreme Court. Barton presided over my case in Hillsborough
County (05-CA-7205) from February 13, 2007 through May 25, 2010. The record shows Barton
collaborated with Mr. Rodems and my lawyer Robert W. Bauer (a Bar referral) to undermine my
case. On January 13, 2006 I established by Order of Judge Nielson a cause of action against
Rodems and his firm in the theft of $6,224.78 ($7,143) through a closing statement fraud. My
motion and affidavit for summary judgment were filed April 25, 2006 and noticed for hearing.
Tellingly Bauer did not argue my summary judgment. Instead he assisted Rodems & Barton.

In 2013 Judge Claudia R. Isom got the Distinguished Judicial Service Award, presented by the
Chief Justice Polston, see attached. Isom presided over my case in Hillsborough County (05-CA-
7205) from November 22, 2006 through February 13, 2007.

In 2014 Judge Emily Peacock got the Distinguished Judicial Service Award, presented by the
Chief Justice Polston at a Jan. 30 ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida. Emily Peacock is
married to Mike Peacock, the Public Defender who failed to represent me June 1, 2011 after he
was appointed to do so. Judge Arnold relieved the public defender from the counsel
appointment claiming no basis. But Arnold had other basis to appoint counsel, including the
ADA, and under Fla. Stat. § 29.007 (2011) "This section applies in any situation in which the
court appoints counsel to protect a litigant’s due process rights.", according to the ABA.

Request Senate Hearing, Nominee Arthur Lee Bentley

Sunday, August 17, 2014

No response from Chief Justice John Roberts; corrupted Supreme Court Petitions No. 12-7747 and No. 13-7280

The Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.                    March 5, 2014
Chief Justice of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20543

RE: Petition No. 13-7280, documents do not appear on the Court’s computer system. Referral by Senator Rubio’s office to the CFPB; intervening circumstances of a substantial or controlling effect and other substantial grounds not previously presented.

Dear Mr. Chief Justice:

Currently my pro se, nonlawyer IFP petition for rehearing an order denying Petition No. 13-7280 is pending before the Court, and was distributed February 19, 2014 for Conference of March 7, 2014. I am concerned that documents in this matter do not appear on the Court’s computer system. This happened in a previous petition too, Petition No. 12-7747.

A letter I received February 4, 2014 from Assistant Clerk Michael Broadus returned voluminous exhibits in Petition No. 13-7280 before time expired to file a petition for rehearing. So I called the Court to find out why, since the Court might want to see the exhibits on rehearing.

The woman who took my call could not find the letter of Mr. Broadus in the Court’s computer system. Similar problems happened in Petition No. 12-7747 too, documents were lost or missing.

Do you know why documents in my petitions do not appear on the Court’s computer system? Last year I contacted Kathleen Arberg, Public Information Officer, but did not get a response.

February 18, 2014 I wrote Robin Ashton, OPR Counsel, Office of Professional Responsibility, and Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, Rule of Law Unit, UN Headquarters, copy enclosed.

The Department of Justice Public Integrity Section [Wikipedia] referred me to the FBI for investigation of public corruption in Florida. Please find enclosed my letter today to James Comey, FBI Director, and Michelle S. Klimt, Special Agent in Charge, Jacksonville, Florida.

Unfortunately Mr. William Fitzgibbons, Office of Investigations, U.S. Department of State, informed me in response to the e-service of the petition for rehearing Petition No. 13-7280,
The Office of Inspector General has reviewed your most recent series of complaints forwarded to the OIG Hotline for review and have determined that the issues you have raised do not fall within the purview of the Department of State.
The OIG Hotline will take no further action regarding this complaint.
A paper copy of Mr. Fitzgibbons’ email is enclosed. The Hon. Steve A. Linick, Inspector General, OIG Office of Investigations, did not return my call. John M. Fitzgibbons, Esq. Chairman, Florida Federal JNC did not respond to a conflict check, copy enclosed.

Ms. Tania Banuelos Mejia [fn1]  provided me the latest PDF version of the UNCAC  Directory. [fn2] The cover page and three pages for the United States of America are enclosed, also found online,

[fn1] Associate Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, Corruption and Economic Crime
Branch, Division for Treaty Affairs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Room E1279,
P.O. Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
[fn2] UNCAC, United Nations Convention Against Corruption

Since filing my petition for rehearing, I located the USA Self Assessment for the UNCAC, which contends, "further legislation to implement the Convention was not required, and the Convention is consistent with existing U.S. law."
Referral to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Yesterday the Consumer Finical Protection Bureau (CFPB) notified me that Gina Alonso, Constituent Services Representative, Office of United States Senator Marco Rubio, opened CFPB Case number: 140304-000750 on information I submitted February 24, 2014. The CFPB email states, "We received your submission from the Congress and will review it as soon as possible to determine if it involves a Federal consumer financial law within our authority."

The ABA Journal Law News Now reported May 7, 2013 in a story by Martha Neil that the CFPB brought a lawsuit against two New York City law firms:
A new federal agency filed a lawsuit Tuesday against two New York City area law firms and an attorney who owns a related business. It contends that they charged illegal advance fees for so-called debt-relief services that provided little or no benefit to consumers, who routinely lost amounts ranging from $1,300 to $3,000.
In addition to the advance-fee allegations against Mission Settlement Agency; its attorney-owner Michael Levitis and his law office; Premier Consulting Group; and the Law Office of Michael Lupolover, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also alleges that Mission and Levitis violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act by using unfair and deceptive marketing practices, the Blog of Legal Times reports.
Among other issues, the civil complaint (PDF) filed in federal court in Manhattan by the CFPB says the Mission defendants violated federal law by misrepresenting to consumers the fees that would be charged and the benefits that would be provided concerning the debt-relief services they marketed.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment that includes criminal charges against Mission Settlement Agency, Levitis, and three current or former employees, according to the Hill's RegWatch page. It was the first criminal case ever brought based on a referral by the CFPB, the article says.
The indictment (PDF) accuses the criminal defendants of participating in a mail and wire fraud conspiracy that bilked consumers out of millions of dollars.
As part of the criminal case, the DOJ is seeking to seize the Rasputin Supper Club in Brooklyn, which is owned by Levitis, the New York Daily News reports. Federal prosecutors say he used money from the debt-relief operation to fund the glitzy Brighton Beach club, lease two upscale vehicles and pay his mother's credit-card bills.
A press release from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office provides further details.
"These wolves in sheep’s clothing take money from consumers who are already struggling to pay their bills, falsely promising them help while really making their problems worse," CFPB director Richard Cordray said said in a written statement provided to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman represents Levitis and tells the BLT that his client has been cooperating the government. He said Levitis has been trying to meet with prosecutors to provide evidence about the "rogue former employees who committed many of the frauds alleged in the indictment" before exiting to open their own debt-relief business. "Now Michael Levitis is left to clean up the mess," Lichtman said.
In an email to the BLT, Lupolover said the CFPB suit "has nothing to do with the law offices of Michael Lupolover."
The following documents are enclosed for the above ABA story:

Press Release, Manhattan U.S. Attorney
U.S. v. Mission, Indictment
CFPB federal complaint
ABA Journal News story
Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act - FDUTPA
A final judgment entered January 24, 2014 in Rory Hewitt vs. Law Offices of David J. Stern bears on this petition, the "unknown spouse" issue.

Rory Hewitt vs. the Law Offices of David J. Stern
Class Action Final Judgment: $831,110
Palm Beach County Court, Case No. 09-CA-036046
Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown
Case ID: 502009CA036046XXXXMB

In Hewitt, the Court determined that Mr. Stern was liable under FDUTPA, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, for suing unknown parties. In my case, Ms. Parsons and McCalla Raymer sued seven (7) unknown parties. The complaint only is enclosed.

It is my understanding that "unknown" parties are not permitted in federal court, and must be stricken. In Green v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, Civil Action No. 5:08-cv-0573-CLS, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Northeastern Division, U.S. Judge Lynwood Smith held in a Memorandum Opinion entered May 8, 2008, at footnote 1:

"Any claims asserted by a plaintiff against fictional parties are due to be stricken, however, because there is no provision for fictitious party practice under federal law or rules of procedure. Cf. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) (stating that "the citizenship of defendants sued under fictitious names shall be disregarded" for purposes of removal)...." The Order is enclosed.
David J. Stern Disbarred, Florida Supreme Court Case SC13-643
Penalty: 49 cents per 100,000 abandoned foreclosure cases
The Florida Supreme Court disbarred David J. Stern January 7, 2014 with a sweetheart deal:
49 cents per 100,000 abandoned foreclosure cases,
which The Florida Bar’s Referee Nancy Perez wrote "created chaos on the courts of the state of Florida, prejudicing the whole system as a whole." (page 4, Report of Referee SC13-643).

In March 2011 Stern notified Chief Judges in Florida courts throughout the state by letter that he could not do any further work on 100,000 pending foreclosure cases, due to of a lack of staff following the loss of large clients and massive layoffs. The American Bar Association reported,
Stern notified Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge Thomas McGrady and his counterparts throughout the state in letters sent earlier this month that he won't be able to do any further work on some 100,000 foreclosure cases, due to of a lack of staff following massive layoffs, according to the article.
"We have been forced to drastically reduce our attorney and paralegal staff to the point where we no longer have the financial or personnel resources to continue to file motions to withdraw in the tens of thousand of cases that we still remain as counsel of record,'' he wrote in a 251-page letter to McGrady dated March 4 that listed all of the Pinellas-Pasco cases. "Therefore it is with great regret that we will be ceasing the servicing of clients," apparently by the end of the month.
Calling the situation "a mess,'' McGrady says court employees are working to put together orders requiring the lending institutions that brought the cases to show cause why they should not be dismissed. Meanwhile, some attorneys reportedly may be seeking to take over the cases without a paper trail clearly authorizing them to do so.
But, Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. of Hillsborough tells the Times, "you can't just walk away. I think he's written the letter in attempt to circumvent the rules of judicial administration."
ABA Journal Law News Now, March 8, 2011, by Martha Neil, "Foreclosure Firm Collapse Creates Court Chaos; Stern Lacks Staff to Move to Withdraw from Cases"

Florida foreclosure defense lawyer Matt Weidner posted a comment March 9, 2011, 8:45 AM,
The biggest outrage about this episode is the lack of outrage from the rest of the Bar.  The Florida Bar has been silent.  The state and federal regulators have done nothing to marshal assets that should be used to help satisfy the administrative obligations of unraveling this mess that have been dumped in our court’s lap.  Our courts have been turned into a burlesque show and this is a horrendous black eye over the entire profession.  The general public, quite correctly, views this as lawyers protecting themselves by not going after this national travesty.  We are all guilty of shame in this debacle.
Unfortunately foreclosure mills are not held accountable in any meaningful way in Florida. The Florida Supreme Court disbarred David J. Stern but did impose any meaningful discipline, no fine or penalty, only judgment entered for The Florida Bar "for recovery of costs from David James Stern in the amount of $49,125.02". As divided by the 100,000 foreclosure cases Mr. Stern abandoned, that amounts to 49 cents per case.

Mr. Stern gets to keep a $58.5 million cash windfall for the sale of his back-office document preparation services, according to the Palm Beach Post in a story by Jeff Ostrowski posted Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 at 9:45 am "Foreclosure king on verge of losing law license, but keeps $58.5 million windfall",
The saga of Florida foreclosure king David J. Stern offered a bit of everything. Bogus paperwork filed by Stern’s team of lawyers. A dizzying caseload of 1,600 foreclosures per attorney. Callow lawyers too swamped to show up in court and befuddled when they did.
His firm visited "massive injury" on Florida’s foreclosure system, a judge wrote yesterday in recommending that Stern be disbarred.
And like any good South Florida scandal, Stern’s rise and fall included a publicly traded company that paid him handsomely. In 2010, Stern collected a big payday by selling his back-office document preparation services to Chardan 2008 China Acquisition Corp., a British Virgin Islands shell company formed in 2008 with a $55 million IPO.
Stern’s payday was rich. In exchange for turning over a company that had collected $260 million in fees in 2009, Stern received $58.5 million in cash. He also got a promissory note worth $52.5 million and the promise of another $35 million in cash, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the renamed company, DJSP Enterprises.
As two DJSP investors described the deal in a federal suit last year, "In substance, Stern was selling a 75-80% interest in his non-legal-services businesses to the prior Chardan shareholders for $145 million."
After briefly hitting $13.50, DJSP shares plummeted. But Stern’s personal real estate empire remains intact. According to property recrods, Stern in 2008 paid $17 million for two homes in Hillsboro Beach and in 2009 paid $8 million for a house in Fort Lauderdale and $6.9 million for a condo in Fort Lauderdale.
His shell company payday was noted by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Nancy Perez, who presided over his disbarment hearing. She wrote:
Mr. Stern’s letter of abandonment states that he did not have the financial resources to properly withdraw from his pending cases. Mr. Stern’s declaration revealed his net worth and that he did in fact possess sufficient resources to properly withdraw from cases. I am not persuaded by his argument that his reference to lack of financial resources related to the firm’s net worth only. … His statement was a misrepresentation.
Enclosed is my response to The Florida Bar in the following [UPL link] matters:
Also enclosed,
Index to Petition 12-7747 and Rule Applications
Index to Petition 13-7280
Halt amicus, Roberta Cripe; Halt amicus, Mark Hager disbarment

Please forgive the informally of this letter. Time is about over, and I do not know how else to proceed. Thank you.


Neil J. Gillespie                      Telephone: (352) 854-7807
8092 SW 115th Loop             Email:
Ocala, Florida                        Enclosures

VIA U.P.S. No. 1Z64589FNW97793740 
cc: Persons and parties on the Rule 29 Proof of Service of February 7, 2014
Additional information. Ethics Commission Florida Scribd Collection

Email Jeffrey Minear, Counselor to the Chief Justice; and Ethan Torrey
RE: Petition No. 13-7280, documents do not appear on the Court’s computer system. Referral by Senator Rubio’s office to the CFPB; intervening circumstances of a substantial or controlling effect and other substantial grounds not previously presented....
Email Ethan Torrey, Legal Counsel, Supreme Court of the United States
My email March 6, 2014 to you and Mr. Jeffrey Minear, Counselor to the Chief Justice, was returned for e-mail addresses not found. I am resending the email today to you at the email address shown on your Alumni page of the University of Pennsylvania. I am also a Penn Alumni, the Wharton School, Evening Division, December 1988, ABA.
 FBI letter by Brian J. Nadeau with referral to Tampa FBI Field Office
The primary function of FBI Headquarters is the administration of program management, policy formulation, training and other administrative duties. The review of complaint letters involving potential public corruption and related allegations is the responsibility of the appropriate FBI field office.
Accordingly, the PCU has forwarded your complaint information to the appropriate local FBI Field Office. Should you wish to provide any additional information related to this matter, please furnish the specific details directly to the below address.
Letter to Paul Wysopal FBI Tampa Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Dear Special Agent Wysopal:
Today at 6:20 PM I received a telephone call from 813-253-1000 from a man who identified himself as the Tampa FBI. The caller did not provide his name. The caller asked to speak with Neil Gillespie, that’s me. The caller asked "is this call being recorded" and I said yes. The caller was responding to the Telephone Recording Announcer informing him all calls are recorded for quality assurance purposes. The caller said it is against Florida law to record someone without the consent of both parties. I replied that the caller provided consent if he continued to talk. The caller responded "have a nice day, sir" and hung up. That’s okay, the telephone is not compatible with certain disabilities of mine. I prefer email or written communication....
Letter to U.S. Marshal William B. Berger, Sr., Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse
801 N. Florida Avenue, 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602-4519, Telephone: (813) 483-4200
Dear U.S. Marshal William B. Berger, Sr.:

Thank you for your phone call Thursday January 30, 2014. I share your frustration with this matter, which is a state-wide problem of The Florida Bar usurping the Article III judicial power of the United States....
 Letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., March 5, 2014