Ethics Dunce: Above The Law

Wait, you mean Above the Law ISN'T The News Nerd? Could have fooled me.

Wait, you mean Above the Law ISN’T The News Nerd? Could have fooled me.

The legal gossip and commentary blog “Above the Law” is a useful source of inside-baseball stories about the machinations and peccadilloes  of law firms, lawyers, judges and law students, and occasional hard news of special interest to lawyers. Today it sported an intriguing headline:

Samuel Alito Gets A Supreme Benchslap

…which was filed under the categories of Justice Alito, The Supreme Court, and benchslaps. The latter is legal jargon for a reprimand from a judge. The Supreme Court reprimanding one of its own justices is big news, and unprecedented. Like many others, I clicked on the link, and read a jaw-dropping, insulting rebuke of Justice Alito by Chief Justice Roberts, banishing him to  “to a minor appellate jurisdiction” until he writes ” a few decisions in some lower-pressure situations” and is ready to return.

The post explained at the end of the quote that Justice Alito had been temporarily removed from the Supreme Court and appointed to the Eleventh Circuit, and that, according to reports, Alito will be replaced by Judge Ricardo Gonzalez of the District of Puerto Rico.

Then Above the Law’s writer, Staci Zaretski, revealed that…

(This quote comes from The Onion, a satirical news site, but that in no way takes away from the overall awesomeness of imagining a Supreme Court justice being demoted as a form of spanking.)

Ah. So you just wasted my time, then.

I had begun to suspect that the Roberts quote was fake, both for its use of the neckname “Sammie” for one of his brethren, and also because it sounded so much like a manager’s explanation for why a player was being sent to the minors. Nevertheless, posting a fake story, announced with a plausible headline, is unprofessional and unfair to ABL readers: Continue reading

Misleading Legal Website Headline Of The Millenium: “Above The Law”

Here is the headline:

Wait---didn't I just hear the President say that the economic recovery was going just great? Someone tell Danielle, quick!

Wait—didn’t I just hear the President say that the economic recovery was going just great? Someone tell Danielle, quick!

“Graduate Of Elite Law School Forced To Live Off Welfare Due To Terrible State Of Job Market”

The law school is my alma mater, Georgetown Law Center; the student is a 2010 grad who subsequently passed the bar, Danielle Owens. The author of the overwrought article in Above the Law is Staci Zaretsky. Her tone made my mind flash back to “Queen for a Day.”

I don’t particularly want to poke the Lawscam hornet’s nest again, because I don’t especially enjoy having giant photos of my head placed on-line accompanied by obscenities, and I know a lot of bitter out of work lawyers with shaky interpersonal skills, huge debts, a computer and time on their hands have nothing better to do but to blame me and anyone else they can find for their plight (and yes, if I see a couple of them posting a photo like this on Facebook with the caption, “Hello, Ethics Alarms!” I am calling the police.). Nonetheless, I can’t let this pass without noting that the headline is dishonest, and Zaretsky’s commentary on Owens’ problems is exaggerated to the point of hysteria. Continue reading