The more I read “Above the Law,” the less I like it.
The legal gossip site has now devoted two articles to an embarrassing incident involving Sarah E. Buffett, a partner at Nelson Mullins, one of the largest firms in the country. While on a flight, Buffett downed three glasses of wine as a chaser to a prescription sleeping pill without eating dinner, and instead of falling asleep as was her evident intent, went bananas. Sitting in first class, she first began damaging her seat and then tried to smash the aircraft window with an entertainment system remote. Then she got up and began “acting in a menacing manner in front of the cockpit door.” The flight attendants weren’t able to restrain the out-of-control lawyer, so other passengers had to help get Buffett into plastic restraints. She removed those restraints twice before passengers held her down while an attendant wrapped her legs with tape.
The pilot was forced to turn around and make an emergency landing.
Buffett, who said in court that she remembers none of this, has been charged with violation of 49 U.S. Code § 46504, a crime punishable by a fine and/or possible imprisonment of up to 20 years. Her firm has suspended her from all duties, and wiped her bio from its website. She has been humiliated and her career is in jeopardy.
Nobody can seriously think that Buffett would have behaved this way intentionally, or if she hadn’t been surprised by an unexpectedly violent reaction to mixing the prescription drug with alcohol. She endangered the plane’s occupants, including herself. She is responsible for her actions, but from all the descriptions it seems clear that it was an unfortunate, accidental incident in all respects.
Buffett’s public statement, delivered by her attorney, reads…
“Ms. Buffett wishes to express her sincerest apologies to all the passengers, flight staff, and everyone else affected by her behavior. She experienced an unprecedented reaction to the prescription medication she was taking, under a physician’s care. She is undertaking all appropriate professional, medical, and personal measures to ensure such behavior can never happen again.”
So what is Above the Law’s‘s response? “Sarah Buffett is sorry for her plane party fouls. She promises she’ll never get caught again.”
Huh? “Never get caught?” How does one go bonkers on a plane mid-air and not get caught? What kind of unsympathetic jerk calls something like this a “plane party foul”? Buffett made a dumb mistake, but she was hardly partying.
Why doesn’t Zaretski come right out and say how she really feels, which is apparently, “Ha-Ha! Big, fancy rich lawyer who I bet looks down on hard-working blog-writers like me, look at the mess you made with your careless drinking and pill popping! Now you are screwed! Yippee! I hope you get what’s coming to you and you end up doing document review in some ambulance-chaser’s cheap office in Poughkeepsie!”
Imagine writing for a legal gossip website and hating lawyers that much. Zaretski jokingly calls Buffett a “partner with issues,” but I’d say she’s the one with issues, and vicious schadenfreude is only part of it.
If it’s any consolation, Sarah, the apology was fine, and having one drink too many on an empty stomach and a sleeping pill doesn’t make you an unethical lawyer or a bad person. I’m sorry this happened to you.