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The Judge has grown weary of sulking in the shadows and letting the MeJDs and Chinaskis of Judged hog the limelight. Here you will find news about Judged, updates to our law firm rankings and the Judge’s daily ramblings. Want the real scoop? Check it out here.

Gender: Female
Industry: Law
Age: Unknown
Location: Undisclosed

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A curmudgeon, voice of the unpopular, and winner of the controversial Supreme Court Case of 1963 that banned state-sanctioned religious prayers from public school, Leonard Kerpelman has himself gone on to rest with his forefathers. He has died at age 88 after complications from a tumor.

The 1963 case, which was his glory point, took on the part of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, whose son was mistreated because he asked to not participate in class prayer. The case made its way to other cases that confronted the supreme court, and it was decided that prayers and public schools don't mix, a point of contention that still riles up conservatives.

Incidentally, it also riles up Madalyn Murray O'Hair's son, who has since converted to Christianity and become an advocate for re-introducing school prayer. His mother, meanwhile, claimed that she was having a post-natal abortion, or disowning her son, but isn't around to complain about it, after she and her granddaughter were brutally murdered by a former American Atheists employee.

As weird as all that is, Leonard Kerpelman managed to keep things interesting for the rest of his career as well, becoming known as a gadfly, taking difficult and unpopular cases, such as helping to preserve wetlands on Maryland's Eastern Shore and to promote the legal rights of divorced fathers. He was finally disbarred for disruptive behavior, and overcharging clients, but not before he was sentenced to five days in jail for contempt of court in 1987 for being "so obnoxious that the dignity of the court and the orderly administration of justice was castrated."

As for what happy hunting grounds Kerpelman is onto now, he said in a letter at one point, "Those who expressed fear for my immortal soul: Don't worry yourselves. I have been a lawyer too long to be eligible for salvation anyway, though when I arrive at the celestial conference on the matter, I think I may be able to talk myself out of whatever difficulties I am in at the time."


The military coup that ousted President Mohammed Morsi seems to be indiscriminately attacking and detaining those critical of the military. Though there is some fear that Islamic militants could seek revenge for the coup, the military has been cracking down on Islamists in the "fight against terror," and in this vein, 2,000 have been arrested.

But how justified are these arrests? Labor lawyer Haithan Mohammadain was detained Thursday when passing a checkpoint in Suez, where a policeman accused him of being part of a secret organization. In fact, he is part of the well-known activist group Revolutionary Socialists which are critical of the military. Is it enough to be merely critical of this violent military force to be considered a prime target?

Mohammadain's lawyer, Maha Youssef, says no formal charge has been put, nor has he even been questioned.

Knowing the law is not enough to secure justice; being a lawyer and having a lawyer matter little when the state is basically a military state, with both sides seething for blood. This is so especially after the several days of violence that ended up killing over 1,000 people, mostly supporters of former Islamist President Mohammad Morsi.


One of American history's most successful lawyers, Ronald L. Motley, the South Carolinian dynamo who tackled big tobacco and litigated $246 billion dollars from their pocket, the biggest settlement in US history, has recently died. He was done in despite incredible wealth as a lawyer, who won battles against asbestos manufacturer Manville and Altria Group Inc.'s Phillip Morris unit, from complications of organ failures at Roper Hospital in Charleston, S.C., at 68.

"Ron Motley changed the playing field for individuals seeking to hold companies accountable in this country," said Richard Harpootlian, a plaintiff lawyer who knew Motley for over 35 years. "He may well have been the best trial lawyer of his generation."

Not only his friends say so. William S. Ohlemeyer, previously an in-house lawyer for Phillip Morris, said Motley was a man to be reckoned with. "It was impressive to watch him operate. He was a spectacular trial lawyer who worked hard for his clients."

That crusade for his clients became the subject of the movie "The Insider" in which actor Bruce McGill plays Motley.

Part of his power as an attorney verged on the absurd, with his use of props, as when he wore a white lab coat and used a toy doctor's kit to cross-examine a company's medical expert.

"He could take very complicated liability evidence from corporation's own files and explain it to lay jurors in a simple and straightforward fashion. He despised it when people were hurt through corporate misconduct."

Not that he was allergic to big money. When not blasting big tobacco, he would hang out on his mansion  off Charleston, or perhaps romp on his $15 million yacht Themis, named after the Greek Goddess for Justice.

Motley leaves his wife, Stephanie and his daughter Jennifer Motley Lee.


Big Tobacco has the financial backing to make things extremely difficult for those likely to sue them. Though cigarettes notoriously are the cause of cancer and early death in smokers, getting the company to cough up is quite a plight. Scott Schlesinger might mark the tipping point where Big Tobacco starts to fall.

The attorney won a case in Florida in which R.J. Reynolds is expected to pay his clients $37.5 million for the death of smoker Laura Grossman, who died from lung cancer at 38. Despite this and other wins, few winners against tobacco have in fact collected anything.
"There is no other litigant in the world like tobacco," said Schlesinger. "There is no resolution short of trial. And a case doesn't terminate until every single appellate opportunity is exhausted."

After all, Big Tobacco can afford it. But a tipping point took place when a class action, the Engle class action, rejected a case representing 700,00 Florida smokers, but established res judicata the jury's findings that cigarettes indeed cause cancer, that nicotine is addictive, and manufacturers sold a dangerous product.

"We have established a beachhead in Florida," said Schlesinger. "If they continue to allow us to practice trying these cases, and we get better and better, we're going to win cases in other states."

Though few have collected any money yet, 23 of 44 trials of the Engle progeny cases so far have won against Tobacco.

Though their pockets are deep, and their legal finagling is extreme, it might be the beginning of the end for Big Tobacco.


Edward Joseph Snowden is wanted for divulging the National Security Agency's policies and methods for domestic spying, and meanwhile has absconded to avoid retribution for what he thinks was doing the right thing: forcing transparency on the U.S. government. Lately, he's been hanging out in Russia, and has even secured a lawyer for himself, Mr. Kucherena, after emailing him and then meeting him in an airport lounge on July 12. Though initially uncertain Snowden's email was anything other than a prank, and also requiring a translator to relay it into Russian, Kucherena finally agreed to take on Snowden, and that pro bono.

"He has this struggle inside himself," says Kucherena. "He is absolutely convinced that he did the right thing to tell the America people what was going on." He has advised Snowden to drop his more than 20 appeals for political asylum to other countries, saying they would have no legal standing while he was on Russian soil. He drew out a review that ended up on the desk of President Vladimir Putin.

Despite being somewhat under the thumb of Russian politics himself, he claims that this case "is in the realm of big politics. I am a lawyer. I don't want to be involved in big politics," yet claims, nevertheless, that Snowden's appeal for asylum should prevail anyway, despite the Attorney General Eric Holder denying that anything like torture or the death penalty was planned for Snowden.

Though Kucherena is called a "staunch loyalist," who wins his cases by avoiding cases that authorities would dispute, he claims to be politically neutral, or at least to not have ties with the security service of his state. Whether he can win Snowden asylum may ultimately end up being more political than he cares to admit.


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