May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons.
Line 7 to Line 21 - How (Not) To Get To Zero On Your Tax Return
Paul Petrino is one happy tax accountant now that he's been acquitted (for the second time in three months) of tax evasion. Except that Paul didn't evade paying any of his own taxes, he had helped his clients not pay taxes. Nearly $500,000 of taxes by some sleight-of-hand between Lines 7 and 21 on tax returns.
Before you rush over to the IRS 1040 forms to see what the difference is between the two lines, I can let you in on a little secret: it's not zero and the two lines are consequently not the same number. Line 7 is how much you earned, and Line 21 reflects your losses.
Here's Paul's gig: he's alleged to be a tax protester, and (previously) advanced the theory that earnings "that wages and salaries are not taxable because they are simply a return for an individual's labor - 'his blood, sweat and tears,'" according to this Newsday article. His next trick was to deduct the entire reported salary as a loss. Not surprisingly, the IRS disallowed the deduction and unfortunately for Paul's clients, their luck wasn't the same. The IRS made the clients pay the back taxes.
One of his clients' loose lips sunk Paul's ship. The bragger client detailed enough about the "zero tax" scenario that another taxpayer who had actually paid taxes was upset. That taxpaying taxpayer turned the deal over to the IRS, and viola', they sued Paul in tax court (where else?). The IRS, however, was unable to convict Paul because it couldn't show that Paul intentionally committed a crime.
Call me silly, but I didn't know that accountants unintentionally filled out tax returns. How the IRS lost this case is beyond me.
Coast to Coast Internet Radio Digs Into E-dicsovery
Coast to Coast takes up E-discovery today, an increasingly important part of a lawyer's world. To learn how e-discovery works and why it is an essential part of legal research, tune in with my co-host and fellow Law.com blogger Robert Ambrogi. You'll get insight from two e-discovery experts, Attorney Eric Meyer, with Dilworth Paxson LLP, and Stephen Prignano, partner and member of the Class Action & Mass Litigation Group of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge.
Attorney Eric Meyer is from Philadelphia and a member of his firm's Labor and Employment Group. Eric also practices more general commercial litigation. Our second guest, Stephen Prignano from Providence, Rhode Island, is a partner and co-chair of him firm's E-Discovery team
E-discover this show and click on the podcast button below.
Fluorescent Justice Shines A Cool Light On New York's Night Life
Some people have all the luck. Imagine the ultimate writing assignment for a legal reporter. If you're a regular reader of MIPTC, you've likely guessed by now that it's a court beat, but think harder. Let me give you a small clue. You've seen the TV show Night Court, but it doesn't compare with the real thing. That's right. It's "Defendants Gone Wild."
There's more juice than one person can write about, but Court TV is giving it a try. Back in February, they started a feature called "Fluorescent Justice." Just the name sends shivers of possibilities down my spine. They're covering real night court in New York.
It just doesn't get any better than that. Think ... "it's a dark and stormy night. The judge was wearing black, but it wasn't the only thing you couldn't see. Dark justice dispensed as fast as lightning from behind the bench. It was going to be a long, hot night." Mickey Spillane would probably write it a bit better, I'm sure, but you get the idea.
Here's a sampling from the website: Wife seeks protective order against husband who threatened her with a gun. The police arrive several days later (don't ask me, it's New York), but find only the bullets and gun case, not the gun. His defense? He mailed the gun to Belize weeks earlier, so how could he have threatened her with it? The judge gives him an A+ for creativity, but gives the wife the protective order.
The night court judge isn't a hanging judge, though. A 42-year old woman got busted two years ago for scamming unemployment benefits from the Department of Labor. She was employed at the time. She agreed to repay the $5,000 and started to do so, but didn't continue. The DOL was so agreeable the first time, she figured it might work again, and reapplied for unemployment benefits. She was still employed, though, which earned her a second visit with the judge. After a plea by her attorney, she got a second chance.
Sometimes, it's the most minor of crimes that get you into trouble, and this story tells us more about the writer than the defendant. The writer alerts us that Manhattanites get confused when leaving the island. A woman who lost her job and her home couldn't bear to leave the island either, so she slept on a roof top. Although the judge didn't ship her off the island, the defendant got five days. In a Manhattan jail, thank God.
Florescent Justice shines.
Woman Marries Man, Marries Man, Marries Man - Perhaps As Many As 15 Men
Is It Simply A Matter Of Money?
If one husband is good, then 15 is probably better - especially if you're "sharing" their money. Maybe the better way to characterize "sharing" as "scamming" them, as CNN does in this article.
An apparently lonely man on the internet engaged in a series of electronic chats with Kyle McDonald, A few months and emails later, Kyle and Donald Rice were married. He was no longer lonely, and she was into his pocket. According to police, her hand was into a string of pockets, also belonging to Kyle's husbands, some present and some previous. She is believed to have married 15 men and taken money from them.
The Detroit police arrested Kyle and she was sentenced to up to ten years in prison for defrauding one of her husbands. Now, there are a few more lonely guys on the internet who are probably a bit richer for it.
Coast to Coast Internet Radio Covers The 2006 AmLaw 100 List Of Top-grossing Law Firms
The Am Law 100 list is out from The American Lawyer magazine, which lists the top 100 law firms by gross revenue. What firms are on it? Are there any changes from the past year? What's the growing trend for the billion-dollar firm?
You'll find out on this edition of Coast to Coast with my co-host and fellow Law.com blogger Robert Ambrogi with our special guest Aric Press, Editorial Director for American Lawyer Media, which publishes the AMLaw 100 in The American Lawyer. In January 1998, Aric became Editorial Director for American Lawyer Media and its entire portfolio of publications. He joined ALM from Newsweek, where he had worked for nearly 19 years. For the last ten, Mr. Press had been a senior editor in charge of Newsweek's coverage of education, law, news media, religion, science and sports. This broad assignment included subjects ranging from the latest developments in cancer research, to coverage of the Branch Davidians and the O.J. Simpson trial. Before becoming an editor, he was Newsweek's justice writer for nine years. A native of Cleveland, Mr. Press is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University Law School.
Don't miss listening to this show: Aric counts down the Top 10 firms for us.
Smaller Firms May Offer More Qualified National Coordinating Counsel
Corporate counsel apparently need a new solution to an age-old problem: too much work, not enough time, and too little money. Sharon Caffery of Philly's Duane Morris proposes her own job: National Coordinating Counsel. Threre's another name for it: outside corporate counsel. The qualificatioins seem to fit most large firm attorneys, but that assumption would be misleading. Not all large firm attorneys work in large firms. Some used to work in large firms. Some now work in small firms or in their own firms.
Some are a lot less expensive than large-firm attorneys. Some even have tried cases (some, but certainly not all large-firm attorneys are paper tigers - motion attorneys who rarely go to court). Some large firms put entire teams that include junior, inexperienced attorneys who cost as much as former large-firm attorneys now working at smaller firms.
The idea of National Coordinating Counsel may be a great solution for strapped, in-house counsel. Large firm attorneys are not the only source for that solution. Look around, look beyond the standard solutions. Creativity comes from more than one place. It may reside in small firms.
There Are Some Things You Shouldn't Blog About
The wave of blogging has taken a new twist, and a strange one at that. Self-expression is the height of blogs, but here's one example of self-expression that lends validity to the malapropism "You're entitled to keep your opinion to yourself." As the CNN Law Center noted, "All [Kevin Underwood] ... wanted in life ... was 'to be able to live like a normal person.'"
Normal isn't the word for it. Kevin wrote about cannibalism. While it's one thing to write about it (they've even made movies about it [link may not be appropriate to open at work]), it's quite another to practice it. Kevin has been charged with the latter because of the former. That's right, he is accused of doing what he wrote about.
Kevin's blog, Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K. is still up and running as of today, with the last post dated April 13, 2006. The internal quote in the CNN story is from Kevin's blog. You don't have to be a lawyer to give this advice: if you're thinking about committing a crime, don't write about it where everyone can read what you wrote.
May 13,2006 postcript: if you're blogging on MSN's MySpace, then it might not be a smart idea to post about burning buildings and cars and also add photographs of your crime spree as these two teenagers did. The two are consequently now in juvenile lockup and facing felony charges. The cops found the posts online and arrested the two teenagers. Smart. Real smart.
A Day Off From Posting; It's My BirthdayAs a present to myself, I'm taking the day off. See you tomorrow.