CNN's TV lawyer Ken Coffee has his list, and MIPTC jumps into the fray with its first annual Legal Louie Awards, a tongue-in-cheek look at this year's legal news. Why a "Legal Louie?" He was my grandfather's barber, who always had an opinion about legal shenanigans, and it just seemed appropriate to name the awards after him. Here's a round-up review of the legal news for 2005 and the resulting awards for the best and worst, in multiple categories:
Worst TV Legal Show: Nancy Grace. It's like Survivor in the courtroom. Come on, who really watches this show? Not lawyers or anyone else with a working head on their shoulders. Too bad we can't vote her off the network.
Best TV Legal Show: Boston Legal. Once again, William Shatner saves the universe with three-word sentences. Best line in the show by Shatner's character, Denny Crane: "I can act. I won a Grammy." OK, occasionally he can rattle off a four-word sentence, but trust me on this one, the show's a riot.
Worst Legal Decision: Kelo v. City of New London, the case that upheld that city's condemnation of Suzy Kelo's single-family home so they could give it to a private shopping center developer and make more in taxes from the mall. The U.S. Supreme Court may have been right on the law, but wrong on the public relations effect of its decision. It's one thing to complain about activist judges, but quite another when everyday citizens clamor to have local governments exercise their eminent domain power over the justices' homes.
Best Legal Decision: Can't think of one, but I'm open to suggestions. As far as the Worst Supreme Court Moment goes, however, the award has to go to Harriet Miers' blue dress. She almost made Blackwell's list, and MIPTC sighed relief when she withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court without first having a "wardrobe malfunction."
Worst Jail Sentence: Michael Jackson. No kidding. You think he did it? So do the rest of us, but even without the dream team, we're all glad it's over, along with the attendant media frenzy. Get a life. Honorary mention: Judith Miller, who entertained us all with her on-again, off-again refusal to reveal her sources, like a tart who keeps checking her watch.
Best Jail Sentence: Martha Stewart. I have to agree with Ken Coffey on this one, she took it like a ... well, you know what I mean. She did the crime, and she did the time. Now what's for dinner, honey?
Worst Will Contest: Terry Schiavo. If there's one thing we learned from this debacle, it's to get a Living Will. The rest of it was just embarrassing. Chalk another one up to the Glad It's Over category.
Best Will Contest: Anna Nicole Smith. Sure she's a gold-digger. But we love her for it. What story gets more coverage than a rich old man who marries a broke young playmate. Why shouldn't she get all of his money instead of his children, even if she was married to him for only three hours?
Best Insurance Claim: After a jury trial late last year, the insurance companies who started to pay (finally) for the damage to the World Trade Center buildings. It only took them four years of legal wrangling and numerous lawsuits, but they paid part of the damage.
Worst New Legal Trend: Lawyer jokes within the profession (subscription required). It's a tough enough profession as it is. Do we need to make it any harder or any less civil?
Best New Legal Trend: Blawgs and Podcasting. As one well-known blawger called it, 2005 was the year of the podcast. We're finally reaching out there and making the legal profession more accessible. Next year, MIPTC predicts video will surpass podcasts, now that broadband and the technology has come of age.
Saddest Legal-related Event: The loss of Civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks. She inspired legions of volunteers and changed our country's path for the better.
Most Hopeful Legal Event: Chief Justice Roberts sailed through his confirmation hearings with all the aplomb and grace the office deserves. It's too early to tell how his court will shape things to come, but if how he handled the Senate is any indication, he'll make us proud.
Worst Government Moment: It's a three-way tie. The first winner? He couldn't lead. He couldn't follow. He couldn't even figure out how to get out of the way until it was too late. It took a demotion to make him realize he needed to resign. Former FEMA Director Mike Brown probably won't get a book deal, talk show invitations or the lecture circuit. Thank God. Second and third place go to Senator Tom Delay and Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham for their fine, upstanding examples of leadership.
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 claim a parting gift.