Quote of the Day - In hindsight, yes, I wish I would have done that.
Looking back on this past year in legal news, there's been a lot of ups and downs. MIPTC once again jumps into the fray of those with 20/20 hindsight vision with its Third Annual Legal Louie Awards, a tongue-in-cheek look at this year's legal news.
Why a "Legal Louie?" Louie was my grandfather's barber, who always had an opinion about legal shenanigans. Grandpa Walker called him "three-spin Louie," because once you sat in the barber chair, just three spins later you were out. Here's a round-up review of the legal news for 2007 and the resulting awards for the best and worst, in multiple categories:
Worst TV Legal Show: Nancy Grace. Sure she should get the permanent award for this category, but this year, we have a runner-up who may just knock her out of consideration for being the category-killer. That's right, Dominic Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice on CourtTV, soon to be truTV. He's the self-described "consummate insider as well as ... indefatigable crusader, Dunne is the most penetrating chronicler today of the arrogance that leads the rich to believe they are above the law." That just about says it all.
Best TV Legal Show: Boston Legal. This show is worth tuning in weekly just for the one-liners from co-star William Shatner. Most recent best line? On the balcony, in the dénouement of the show: Denny Crane to Alan Shore, "You're a Democrat. You're supposed to be a complainer."
Worst Legal Decision: Every 5-4 decision from the Supreme Court with a plurality set of opinions. Take the wake from the 2006 decision in Rapanos, for example, that still reverberates today. The academic consensus places the best-reasoned opinion as Justice Kennedy's concurrence, not the majority decision. Did you ever think we'd see a majority opinion overruled by a concurring opinion?
Best Legal Decision: Oregon Justice Jeffrey M. Wallace's decision that named a baby when the parents couldn't agree. OK, technically the decision was filed last year, but it was in the waning days of the year, so it counts under my rules. Besides, when you're reading all those end-of-the-year stories about which baby was born first in 2008, you'll be glad to know this trivia. It's cocktail conversation for your favorite New Year's party. How many kids have a name chosen from the Battle of Hastings in 1066?
Runner-up? Judge Alex Kozinski's scathing dissent in Perfect 10 v. Visa International. Thanks to both sides for keeping my partner's seminal contributory copyright case, Fonovisa v. Cherry Auction, in the news.
Worst Jail Sentence: Well, not actually a jail sentence, but almost as bad. It's an asterisk.* We know all about copyright © symbols, registered trademark ® symbols and thanks to email, even the ubiquitous @ symbol. But thanks to an alleged-steroid-using Barry Bonds, we now have the * symbol attached to a baseball. Not even OJ can top that.
Best Jail Sentence: Yet-to-be-announced sentences for Brocade Communications CEO Greg Reyes and Stephanie Jensen. Yes, we feel sorry for them, but secretly hope in that I-should-feel-guilty-way that the option backdating scare is like the accident blocking traffic for miles and miles on the freeway. We don't know what's going on until we rubber-neck to look at the accident for just a few seconds, momentarily feeling sorry for those involved and then once we get back up to 65 mph (ok, 80), then we're grateful to be past that mess. Like I said, do you remember Charles Keating?
And for the runner-up, consider Warren Jeffs, the Utah polygamist who got two terms of five-to-life for his role in marrying off young women to old men. There's one man we're happy to see no longer on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.
Worst Will Contest: Trouble the dog gets a $12 million bequest. Forgive me for a moment here. It's not that the dog got the money. It's the worst because no one fought over it. Can you imagine the column inches that would have been devoted to that mess?
Best Will Contest: Larry Birkhead's the dad. Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband is out of the running, thank God. And MIPTC thanks God the whole thing's over.
Worst Insurance Claim: The more than 19 Southern California fires fueled by arson and Santa Ana winds this fall. The claims are pending, and we're sure to hear more as time ticks on, but here's what we have to look forward to: insurance companies who still have not paid all the claims from the 2003 fires that destroyed some 300 homes in Oak Glen, near Lake Arrowhead California. Four years ago! The claims for this years' fires won't be resolved until sometime after 2012.
Best Insurance Claim: Hurricane Katrina claims denied by insurers and Dickie Scruggs accused of bribery. Toss in New Orleans, and you've got all the makings of a novel.
Worst New Legal Trend: Legal advertisements on YouTube. It's not that advertising for lawyers is bad - it's that the legal advertisements are bad. Take, for example, LA's Dopest Attorney. I rest my case. Runner-up? The Boston Legal Syndrome. Run your own Google search for that one. You might be surprised.
Best New Legal Trend: The City of El Cajon's ordinance that prevents a smoker from standing within 20 feet of a person not smoking. No kidding. This very occasional cigar smoker doesn't mind. I've got a club to go to.
Saddest Legal-related Event: OJ's back in Court, this time to get punished no matter what. You don't think this jury's going to let him go, do you?
Most Hopeful Legal Event: Lawyers.com offers these five legal resolutions for 2008, all focused on getting your legal life in order. Here's MIPTC's recommendations: 1. Get a Will. 2. Form a Trust. 3. Complete a Health Care Power of Attorney. 4. Complete a Financial Power of Attorney. 5. Hire a lawyer to do the work. This is not a do-it-yourself list.
Worst Government Moment: Pick one: Treatment of our telephone system or the voluntary program to bring together stratified Collateral-Backed-Mortgage-Securities lenders and subprime borrowers in default. Can we say I'm about to go nuclear?
Best Government Moment: That's not an award category. That's an oxymoron.With that, we wrap up this year's awards, with three spins of the barber's chair. To relive those old barbershop times, if you'd like to share your comments, the comment feature below is open. Audio comments can be left at 206-338-3088, and will be posted below, as well. Finally, if the winners contact MIPTC, they can once again claim a parting gift.