Sunday, May 29, 2011

An acute case of dontopedalogy!

Courtesy of a link at Dustbury, we learn of a lawyer with more words than wisdom and a mouth that couldn't stop running if he stripped its gears.

Let's begin with a report in the Washington Post.

A D.C. Superior Court judge declared a mistrial Friday in a 2008 murder case and allowed the defendant to fire his New York-based attorney, who exhibited what the judge said were numerous signs that he lacked knowledge of proper trial procedure, including telling the jury during his opening statements that he had never tried a case before.

Judge William Jackson told attorney Joseph Rakofsky during a hearing Friday that he was "astonished" at his performance and at his "not having a good grasp of legal procedures" before dismissing him.

What angered Jackson even more was a filing he received early Friday from an investigator hired by Rakofsky in which the attorney told the investigator via an attached e-mail to "trick" a government witness into testifying in court that she did not see his client at the murder scene.

. . .

News of the mistrial spread throughout the courthouse as observers raced into Jackson’s third-floor courtroom Friday to watch the proceedings. The judge, now obviously angry and frustrated, told Rakofsky that his performance in the trial was "below what any reasonable person would expect in a murder trial."

There's more at the link.

OK. New lawyer, too big for his boots, screws up. What happens next isn't OK. Said lawyer starts to sue anyone and everyone who reports the embarrassing facts of the matter, or makes any kind of derogatory comment about him.

Enter Eric Turkewitz, himself a lawyer, who blogs about the law and such matters. He previously commented on Mr. Rakofsky's stupidity, and now finds himself in the latter's sights. Here's what he has to say about that.

Rakofsky claims in the part of the suit pertaining to me, that "Rakofsky was never declared ‘incompetent’," as I had written. But he is wrong. He was declared incompetent. By me. And, of course, by many, many others. (Post headline read: D.C. Superior Court judge declares mistrial over attorney’s competence in murder case.)

Having given the basic outline of the story, I now turn to the part where I give my opinions. So let me go on to say that: In addition to being incompetent, I also think, based on the comments of the presiding judge, his co-counsel and the juror that spoke up, that he is unskillful, incapable, inept, unqualified, untrained, unprofessional, and clumsy. This is in addition to being a bumbler, blockhead, dolt, dingbat and chucklehead for having brought this suit, guaranteed to rain much unhappiness unto his name. I’ve got a thesaurus and I’m not afraid to use it.

. . .

What was Rakofsky thinking? That a bunch of lawyers that make their living in the well of the courtroom, accustomed to walking a high-wire without a net as we cross-examine hostile witnesses, would somehow cower in fear at an utterly frivolous lawsuit? Did he think that those of us that write blogs, for all to see, might not somehow have a basic grasp of the First Amendment? Didn’t he know, well before he even went to law school, that people have a right to set forth their opinions? How could he survive law school and pass a bar exam without knowing constitutional fundamentals? Perhaps the better question, why wasn’t he thinking of what would happen in response to such a suit? Was he a spoiled child that got everything he wanted simply by throwing a tantrum?

And those of us that are practicing lawyers are the small fries, compared with our co-defendants Washington Post, American Bar Association and Thompson Reuters. Like they are going to roll over and pull down their articles? Good grief.

Rakofsky’s choices at this point seem limited. But certainly, the first thing he ought to do is put away the damn shovel as he is burying himself with it.

Again, more at the link. Highly recommended reading, particularly his advice to Mr. Rakofsky (which I can't reproduce on a family-friendly blog like this, because it involves excrement, hats and heads [and even comes in Latin!]).


P.S.: 'Dontopedalogy' is a word coined by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Basically, it means that every time someone opens their mouth, they put their foot in it. Mr. Rakofsky appears to be a living definition of the term . . .


trailbee said...

LOL. Thank you. We see this so seldom.

Anonymous said...

"In the UK, rather than use Latin we would refer to Arkell v. Pressdram (1971)"

That's where I lost it. :-D


Dave O. said...

Everything sounds classier in Latin!