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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.

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Taking on a high-profile case comes with a whole set of risks and advantages that might suit a lawyer well if he or she wishes to make a name for him or herself. Celebrities do more than fascinate the world; they draw attention to their entourage: everybody knows who represented OJ Simpson. In the same way Shawn Holley and Mark Heller, the former and current attorney for Lindsay Lohan, have become something public, something well-recognized, for their association with the star-crossed starlet.

Lindsay has become something of a train wreck. Her initial DUI’s a few years ago were followed by a jewelry theft, attacking a rival in a bar, crashing her car, lying to cops, and violating probation on many occasions. The media loves to cover her antics.

“Her life has been under a magnifying glass with a great public interest in her case,” said Heller. “I am very proud to be a part of this process to make sure justice is served.”

Her lawyer evokes the name of justice, but his pride probably has more to do with getting mixed up with a high profile case. After all, what he considers to be justice is keeping Ms. Lohan out of jail – probably the one thing that can help her at this point.

“Justice has to be tempered with mercy,” said Heller. “Even mean-spirited people should want to see an alternative used to jail.” And with such talk, Mark figures that anybody who would want to see Lohan to get something like the justice non-celebrities get is somebody “mean-spirited.”

Lohan has visited court 20 times under four Los Angeles judges, having violated her probation five times and being sentenced to a total of six months in jail. Now she is up for trial on March 18 for charges of lying to a police officer and for reckless driving while on probation for shoplifting. This will give Heller plenty of opportunity to make glib comments on all those haters out there who would want such a nice person as Ms. Lohan to get the sort of justice administered liberally to standard criminals.

The worst Lohan is in for at this point is that she might have to serve the rest of her sentence for shoplifting, having broken her probation. That amounts to 245 days in jail, and perhaps some additional sentencing for her recent misdeeds.

On her way to court she brings a crowd of paparazzi with her, as everybody wants a picture of the starlet as she continues to make headlines with her bad-girl streak. It seems her lawyer wants exactly this kind of attention. Let him receive it magnanimously.


In a case that offends our sensibilities, two men are being
charged with seeking to enact their twisted fantasies to kidnap, rape, and then
devour women and even family members. This is the case of Michael Vanhise, 22,
and the “Cannibal cop” Gilberto Valle. They had joined a website for discussing
dark sexual fantasies. It has 37,000 members, and after Vanhise’s lawyer joined
it, for research, within 24 hours she had received messages from many who
wanted to “hang me, rape me, torture me, and eat me.”

Nevertheless, she sees her client as simply exercising an extreme form of the first amendment. Fantasies are not prosecutable. As she said, the “case will test the boundaries of what the First Amendment means.”

Whether the sensationalistic case will actually test that remains to be seen. After all, Michael Vanhise offered Valle $5,000 to kidnap a woman for him to rape and kill. The defense claims that such details are merely further parts of the game, the fantasy, not real.

Yet Vanhise had referred to raping his own newborn daughter, and also offered his 7 and 8-year-old nieces up to members to be raped. He shared pictures. How much are we willing to give on free speech?

The court case probably won’t fully address or define what is permissible to say regarding raping family members, but as for making plans that involve money, the case becomes more clean cut.


When does executive action amount to mere opportunism? After all, our gun problem isn’t exactly some emergent novelty, but a longstanding struggle in the States. Now that Vice President Joe Biden is claiming that executive orders may be called for to control guns, how careful will they be not to overstep their bounds?

“The president is going to act. Executive orders, executive action, can be taken,” Biden told reporters on January 9th. “We haven’t decided what this is yet, but we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the Cabinet members.”

“I’m convinced we can affect the well-being of millions of Americans, and take thousands of people out of harm’s way, if we act responsibly.” Responsibly, yes, but again, is this not merely opportunistic? The Newtown shooting and the Aurora shooting were clearly sensational, they grabbed the medias attention, they put guns on everyone’s lips. But does that truly account for an emergency, or justify any shortcut in legislation?

The White House’s procedure seems to be ordering endless lobby groups, special interest groups, the NRA, and Wal-Mart to meet and discuss the problem. Victim’s groups will have their say. A whole lot of input seems to be the beginning of the “compilation.”

Obama has also established a new task force, which includes members of the Cabinet and other government officials, promising “concrete proposals” by the end of January.

Perhaps an emergency situation, a mass panic, is the quickest and most profound way to snap new legislation into place. A slow bleed gets less attention than a gush. Nevertheless, when the president decries our culture as one that “glorifies guns and violence,” the rhetoric is up, and who knows but if justice is down?


Washington is one of the first states to legalize marijuana (alongside Colorado) and supportive residents are celebrating by lighting up their pot and puffing their first legal breath of smoke. No one was arrested or given tickets by federal agents. Even the cops were laid back, writing the following on their department’s blog:

"The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a Lord of the Rings marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to."

The bill responsible for legalizing weed in the state was heavily pushed by voters in November. The ballot was for legalizing marijuana possession, placing the state in direct contrast with the laws of the federal government, which still recognizes marijuana as an illegal substance.

Statements were released from the U.S. attorney’s office before the new law became effective, reminding Washington citizens that having marijuana in their possession was still considered to be a crime under federal law.

"Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6th in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law," read a statement from the Department of Justice. "The Department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged."

However, no trouble was made when citizens lit up their marijuana in the streets of Washington. The city’s police department made a statement that they have a good relationship with Seattle’s federal agents and won’t be doing anything to jeopardize it. Although the police department recognizes the federal law’s prohibition of marijuana, the officers will continue to enforce the law of their bosses, which is the general public of Seattle.

The law (I-502) came into effect at midnight today, when large crowds of pot smokers gathered in Seattle’s Space Needle for a celebration. There were officers on the scene to ensure that peace was kept. Over the next few days, the department is going to focus on reminding Washington residents to smoke indoors.

Washington’s and Colorado’s legislatures for marijuana legalization will become effective in January, when decisions will have to be made about how to tax growers and sellers of marijuana within the state. There has yet to be a decision on whether the U.S. Department of Justice will prosecute marijuana growers and sellers in those states.


The ongoing trial for the BP oil spill that rocked the nation and beyond is slowly coming to an end. It all started with lawsuits being filed by family members of the deceased and today, BP is being fined by the U.S. and it’s a really big total. In fact, it’s the largest criminal fine to date. According to court records, the U.S. government fined BP $4.5 billion that wil have to be paid over a span of years. The British oil giant’s troubles started when an explosion occurred back in April 2010, when their Macondo oil well spilled over into the Gulf of Mexico. It is noted as being the biggest environmental disaster created by man in the history of the United States.

That’s not all of the charges that the oil company will face. BP agreed to plead guilty to 11 counts of felony and two of their employees will be charged with criminal manslaughter, based on their negligence at the company.

"All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident, as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region," Bob Dudley, BP's chief executive, stated. "We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today's resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions."

The felony charges that the two employees are faced with have to do with the 11 deaths that resulted from their misconduct or negligence. Under the Clean Water Act the employees face one misdemeanor count and an obstruction of Congress felony charge (based on two communications made between BP and a member of Congress at the time of the oil spill).

To go along with the U.S. criminal charges, BP also has civil suits against them from angry families that lost their loved ones in the accident (some of who have never been found). In order to pay the $40 billion in civil liability, BP came up with a plan to sell assets over a span of multiple years. The $4 billion owed to the Department of Justice is to be paid over a five-year period and the $525 million owed to the Securities and Exchange Commission will have to be paid over a three-year period.

"BP is prepared to vigorously defend itself against remaining civil claims," the company said. According to statements made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, federal criminal investigations are still being conducted for the oil spill.


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