A Haiku on Mountain Dew

Wisconsin man sues
Mountain Dew. Claims his bottle
Contained a mouse. Eek!

Defendant moves for
Dismissal. The grounds? The claim
Is impossible.

Mountain Dew would have
Turned the whole mouse into a
“jelly-like substance.”

Wait, you’re kidding right?
This cure, worse than the disease!
Marketing? PR?

To do the Dew, or
To not do the Dew, Shakespeare,
That is the question.

Ronald Ball v. PepsiCo, 09-L-440 (Madison Co., Wisc. 2011)

Martin Luther King Day

We here at Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. celebrate the legacy and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In honor of the occasion, we direct you to this website from ABC News, which offers a complete transcript of Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. As you know, we here at the firm now have offices in three cities in the Carolinas. Today, our offices are closed. For a listing of MLK Day events in Upstate South Carolina see here, for Columbia, SC, see here, and for Charlotte, North Carolina, see here. (By the way, the comic book cover depicted above is that of Golden Legacy #13, published in 1972. The Fitzgerald Publishing Company, which produced that comic book series dedicated to African American history, has posted the entire contents of this issue on its website here.).

Friday Links

Quick! How can we seek exclusion of Superboy’s statement on the cover of Superboy #151, published way, way back in 1968.  Wouldn’t this cover, without any accompanying text, make for a good law school exam question? Is his confession admissible? Is this a custodial interrogation?  Has he been Mirandized? (Apparently not, as the police officers seem to surprised by the hero’s arrival to have already read him his rights.). We suppose it’s a good thing that Superboy is making that declaration during the last days of the Warren Court.

Today is Friday the 13th.  Beware.

Remember last month, when we here at Abnormal Use published a piece on the Christmas classic, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”?  If you don’t recall, you can revisit that holiday themed article here. Well, get this. Yesterday, Sam Favate at the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reported on a federal judge’s refusal to dismiss a copyright arising from a version of that song.  See here for more information on that proceeding. Everything ultimately gets litigated, we suppose.

Friend of the blog Steve McConnell of the Drug and Device Law blog will be a part of a free CLE webinar on January 25.  When we saw his name as a presenter, we thought that the CLE would be a gritty analysis of the legal themes of Springsteen’s immortal “Darkness of the Edge of Town” LP, but actually, it’s about the duty to warn in the digital era.  For details, see here.  And remember: it’s free!

Rachel WIlkes Barchie of the Law Law Land blog has a post with a great title: “Creepy Tweeters Have Speech Rights Too.” Fortunately, there are no references to Abnormal Use in the piece.

Abnormal Interviews: John Hart, Author of “Iron House”

We continue our series, “Abnormal Interviews,” in which we conduct brief interviews with law professors, practitioners and other commentators in the field.  For this installment, we turn to John Hart, author of four bestselling novels, The King of Lies, Down River, The Last Child, and Iron House, which was released in late 2011.  Hart describes himself as a “recovering attorney” who now devotes his efforts full-time to writing.  We appreciate his taking the time for this interview.

1. One of the things that I thought was interesting about your most recent book, Iron House, was that the central character, Michael, had been an enforcer for a mob boss, yet he had good qualities, too.  How did you strike a balance between those traits?

Well, the challenge that I had in writing this book right out of the gate was the question of how to make a stone cold killer redeemable in the eyes of the reader.  Because what I wanted to do was explore the type of man that a traumatized child might become – the type of child who goes through hell and is never given a soft landing by the system, by his family, by society and he’s on his own from the earliest days.  I wanted to explore the type of man that child would become and I had this idea of him growing into a life of serious crime and I knew right out of the gate that in order to make that character meaningful to the reader in any sort of positive way, he had to have some decent qualities.  And it was a challenge.  How to reconcile the kind of good qualities the readers want to see in a hero with the kind of qualities that would allow him to be a stone cold killer for 30 years or 20 years or whatever it was.  And that’s all about what made him who he was.  It was about the childhood of events that shaped him and how he clung to good parts of who he perceived himself to be throughout that.

2. What kind of response have you gotten from your readers for Iron House in comparison to your previous books?

Well, it’s interesting.  The first three books were all about normal people trying to find the strength to deal with difficult but abnormal circumstances.  This is the first character I’ve ever written that had a skill set.  I mean, this is a dangerous man who knew exactly who he was and what he was capable of doing.  And so it’s very different right out of the gate than the books I had written before.  The reaction has actually been quite positive because he’s a much more recognizable thriller character.  Most thrillers are about people that know how to get the job done in one capacity or another and people really responded well to him.  Better than I thought.  I was afraid that I had contrived to shoot myself in the foot by writing about a person capable of such cruelties but I seem to have found the right balance based on how readers have responded.

3. I have read all four of your books and it seemed to me the storyline in Iron House was a little darker.  You had the orphans, the mob, the crime, the violence.  I was interested in how you would describe it as being different from your previous books.

It was a conscious decision in that I felt that the first three books, by the traditional definition, should not necessarily work as thrillers.  “Work,” in the first novel, a sort of broken down lawyer, is atypical for a thriller.  Certainly, a 13-year-old child, in the third novel, Last Child, is atypical.  So I wanted to try to write something that was more immediately recognizable but still give the books the qualities that made the first three work which, in my opinion, is a certain amount of character depth and that was a lot of fun trying to write this guy in a way that people could relate to and still make him a total badass.  I’ve never written a bad-ass before.

4. I read somewhere that you almost walked away from writing Iron House.  What did you mean by that?

It’s exactly what we’ve been talking about.  I knew from page 1 that in order for the book to work, the character had to be likeable.  And I knew that that was a hard order to fill and so I felt like, at 140 pages in, just convinced that it was impossible to make a meaningful, personal relationship between the reader and a character capable of such cold violence.  And so I just became convinced that it was wasted effort and I need to move on to something else and I’m obviously glad that I didn’t move on.  But it was tough to find a compelling voice that felt real when dealing with a professional killer because I obviously know nothing about what it takes to be a professional killer.  It’s truly imagination.  And I like for readers to feel that my characters are fairly real and so I just lost faith that this guy would feel like a real character.  I did something I normally would never do.  I rarely show anything to my publisher until it’s finished.  They like to have a fresh read and so I – at page 140 – I asked my editor and my publisher to read it and tell me if I should walk away or continue.  I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my publisher.  He just thought it was fabulous and he said I understand your concerns but you have the talent to pull this off in a major way, is what he said.  And that really kept me involved.

5. Did you do any research before writing Iron House?

No, not really.  There was certainly temptation to do research on the mob and stuff like that, but most of my fiction, I write it so that it doesn’t require a tremendous amount of research.  The example I usually like to use, I rarely get into the specifics of weapons, for instance.  If I write about a gun, it’s usually small and shiny or large and rustic with a shine on the hammer or brutish and square, something that’s not specific.  I write from the internal landscape of the characters.  In Iron House, for instance, how does Michael feel about what he does?  How does he see his place in the world becomes much more important to me than exactly how does he do his job or where does he go to get his weapons or his information.  So I just write in the way that didn’t require a lot of that.  Of course, I’m always prepared to look for it if I felt I needed it.  But its one of the things – my books are fairly uniform and it’s really all about the character.  It’s about what they care about, what they see and what drives them and how they relate to the world around them.  And that doesn’t require as much specific information as you might think.

6. Was there anything about the writing of Iron House that drew upon your prior career as a lawyer?

Not Iron House so much.  Certainly King of Lies, to a degree, smaller than that, Down RiverLast Child and Iron House really did not have any specific draw from my legal training.  They all drew from my legal experience.  I was in the criminal system for a while and what I learned in that time is more about what motivates people to do bad things and it’s usually not as grand as you might imagine.  I like to think there are no criminal masterminds.  It’s usually by the end of the book we find that things are done for reasons that are fairly predictable.  Even in something like Iron House, it’s a much grander scale than my previous books, and I think that holds true.

7. Your first novel was The King of Lies, and the central character, Work Pickens, was a lawyer, but he did not seem to enjoy the practice of law very much.

No.  I wrote that book literally on the heels of my own law practice.  I’d been a few years in the criminal courts and quit to write The King of Lies.  I never felt great about my job in the criminal system.  I’m much more geared to the mindset of a prosecutor than a defense attorney.  Defense work was the job that I found, so I did it and I enjoyed it to a point but I never really felt great about it and obviously the fact that I was willing to walk away from it in order to pursue something as risky as writing a novel is fairly indicative of the depth of my feelings and those feelings very much spilled over into “Work.”

8. My favorite John Hart book is probably The Last Child, in which the main character was a kid named “Johnny.”

Well, Johnny’s my favorite character, too, and The Last Child is probably my favorite book.  Johnny was a challenge in that it’s very risky to write an adult thriller based around a child.  I wanted to do that.  The inspiration for Johnny actually came from Down River.  If you remember in that novel, we see in the first few pages Adam Chase returning back to Rowan County after a long exile in New York and he stops at the river and while he’s there he meets this young boy who’s down to check some fishing lines that he and his father had put out the night before.  And I love this kid.  He was just sort of wholesome, innocent, unafraid child and it got me thinking about what might happen if you took away all that bubble of innocence that protected all that he seemed to move through and took all that away, what kind of child might he become.  And so, that’s what got me thinking about Johnny.  I needed to ask myself a couple of questions.  If I did take away that life, that wonderful, perfect, innocent childhood, what would that do to him?  Where would he find the strength to deal with those new circumstances and down what dangerous road might that strength carry him?  You may remember Johnny’s best friend is Jack?  Really, two sides of the same coin.  Johnny, I think, is the kid we’d all sort of would like to be or wish we had been.  Sort of clear eyed and selfless and brave.  And Jack is the exact opposite.  He smoked cigarettes, steals his daddy’s liquor, cut school.  Johnny and Jack are both nicknames for John.  That was not coincidental.  I kind of feel like those boys were the two sides of me in a lot of ways and so one of the reasons that I love those characters so much in that book is that it all feels very personal to me in ways that others don’t.

9. How long does it take to write a novel such as Iron House?  Did it take longer than the others?

The general ballpark is anywhere from 10 months to a year, seems to be about average.  Iron House took more like 18.  That’s because it took me a very long time to find a compelling voice for this killer.  I started that novel nine different times trying to find the right voice for him.  That took a lot of my time.  Once I found the first 50 or 60 pages, it felt right.  The rest of it took about eight months.

10. You have had four best-selling novels.  Do you have anything in the works now?

Oh, yeah.  Working on number five.  It’s like anything else, you have to produce to get paid.  This is my career now.  It’s all I do and so I don’t like to sit idle for too long.  It’s great because you can take time off between books and have a little more of a life than I ever did when I was working as a lawyer in terms of free time.  But you can’t sit idle for too long.  You have to produce.

11. You are married and have a couple of young children.  How do you balance the family life with your writing time?

It’s not that hard.  I have an office downtown and I generally get down there about six hours a day, maybe seven.  Then the rest of the time I’m available to be with the kids and it’s very easy to take time off when I want to.  The only time it gets to be problematic is when I tour, which happens for longer and longer periods.  I do a lot of international travel now.  That gets to be a little bit of a challenge for the family if I’m overseas for three or four weeks which happens seems like once or twice a year.

12. One of your great passions is the protection of your native North Carolina’s open spaces.  What have you done to protect those open spaces?

I work with local land trust movements.  I’m involved specifically with one in central North Carolina.  It’s about educating the public about the benefits of conservation easements and it’s also about raising money to acquire property outright which is then often given to the Parks Service of the state to be preserved forever.  So it’s kind of a grass roots effort to get communities involved in preserving what they have with their open spaces.

13. Bonus Question: Other than writing, what has been your favorite job?

Working at a London pub right out of college.

BIOGRAPHY: John Hart was born in Durham, North Carolina, and later moved to Rowan County, the setting for both The King of Lies and Down River.  He is a graduate of Davidson College and later earned graduate degrees in accounting and law.  He has worked as a criminal defense attorney, banker, stockbroker, and apprentice helicopter mechanic.  He is a husband and father of two, and spends his time in North Carolina and Virginia.  Hart is the only author to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, and he has also won the Barry Award and England’s Steel Dagger Award for best thriller of the year.

A Tribute To The Trial By Jury

The mail was scattered across the dining room table.  One envelope, bearing the seal of our local Clerk of Court, caught my eye.  A summons for jury duty!  There must be some mistake.  Surely those over 50 years of age are exempt?  The week for which I was called, I was scheduled to be out of town, so our Clerk of Court transferred me to another term.

On Tuesday, January 3, 2012, I reported to the Jury Assembly Room at the Greenville (South Carolina) County Courthouse, home of both the Court of Common Pleas (civil) and General Sessions (criminal).  I thought my chances of actually serving on a jury were remote, given my status as a trial lawyer.  But you never know; after all, I did serve on a jury back in 1990, not long after I started practicing law.  Every lawyer ought to have such an opportunity.

Shortly after I arrived, around 9:00 a.m., I learned that they were not holding criminal court that week and that there were only two civil cases on the trial roster.  This had the potential to be a very short week!

We heard welcoming remarks from our Clerk of Court, Paul Wickensimer, and members of his staff.  Then, we watched a short film, which explained juror responsibilities and provided an overview of the South Carolina jury system.  Following a five-minute “stretch break,” the presiding circuit court judge entered the room and apologized profusely for the short delay.  He then explained that the only two cases on the trial roster had been resolved and that we were free to go.  Whew!  Released from captivity.  What a relief.

Then, as I left the courthouse with my fellow jurors, I felt guilty for this sense of relief.  Would it have killed me to have served on a jury for a day or two?  After all, as Sir John Fortescue, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, stated in 1468: “Trial by jury is the most rational and effective method for discovering the truth.”  Our judicial system was founded on the right to a jury trial for most civil and criminal cases.  The U.S. Constitution, most state constitutions, and the Sixth and Seventh Amendments to the Bill of Rights address the right to a trial by jury.  Having experienced my brief tenure in the Jury Assembly Room, I was reminded of why I became a lawyer in the first place.  I have always enjoyed the opportunity to work with clients to solve their problems – whether through a jury trial or settlement.

Most agree that England’s King Henry II was the “father” of our modern jury system.  Through a series of enactments, Henry II extended the use of the English jury to many areas of civil and criminal litigation.  It was Henry II’s son, John, who sealed the Magna Carta in 1215 at Runnymede.  The American Bar Association erected a marble monument three miles east of Windsor Castle to commemorate this event, which established as a matter of constitutional right representative democracy and trial by jury.

William Blackstone was a leading scholar and author of a commentary on English law.  Blackstone was an advocate of the right of trial by jury, commenting:

Our liberties cannot but subsist, so long as the right of trial by jury remains sacred and inviolate, not only from all open attacks, but also from all secret machinations, which may sap and undermine it.

One of the leading causes of the American Revolution was the denial of a trial by jury.  John Adams made this statement in 1774 about trial by jury:

Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty.  Without them, we have no other fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swine and hounds.

Alexander Hamilton was one of the principal advocates of the adoption of the Constitution and supported the concept of civil jury trials:

The friends and adversaries of the plan of the convention, if they agree in nothing else, concur at least in the value they set upon trial by jury; or if there is any difference between them, it consists in this; the former regarded as a valuable safeguard to liberty; the latter represented as the very palladium of free government.

Over the centuries, there have been many landmarks in the development of an independent, impartial jury.  This led Winston Churchill to write in 1956:

The jury system has come to stand for all we mean by English justice, because so long as a case has to be scrutinized by twelve honest jurors, defendant and plaintiff alike have a safeguard from arbitrary perversion of the law.

In addition to the brief research I conducted to collect these quotes on the importance of trial by jury, I also searched my inbox for an email one of my partners, Howard Boyd, authored several years ago, following a particularly satisfying jury verdict:

We do not need to be afraid to try cases to juries.  We need to properly evaluate the case for settlement purposes, but if a reasonable settlement cannot be obtained, we need to convince the client to try the case.  At mediation, if the plaintiff doesn’t get into an acceptable range for settlement, simply advise the mediator and opposing counsel that we appreciate their attendance at the mediation but we will be delighted to see them at the courthouse for a jury trial.  Juries almost always do the right thing.  While there certainly have been bad jury verdicts, and occasionally a jury will do something crazy and deliver a runaway verdict, often those cases can be corrected on appeal or settled during the appeal for a much more reasonable amount, and these results are not typical.

As many of you know, I have decried the decline of jury trials over the last few years, and hope we can once again restore the jury trial to our arsenal of defense of civil litigation.  There is simply nothing more grand than a jury trial, and no feeling more thrilling than a defense verdict after a hard-fought trial.  While trials are stressful and extremely hard work, the thrill of victory makes it all well worthwhile.  Even if we don’t win, let’s always remember the immortal words of Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Indeed.

Illinois Court Holds Woman Can Sue Dead Accident Victim Over Flying Body Parts

You may think your new iPad is the greatest Christmas present ever, but we here at Abnormal Use found something better. On December 23, an Illinois appellate court issued an opinion in Zokhrabov v. Park, No. 1-10-2672 (Ill. App. Dec. 23, 2011), bestowing upon Gayane Zokhrabov the right to sue the estate of a dead man for injuries she sustained when struck by flying portions of his body. Yes, you read that correctly.

In 2008, an 18-year old Illinois man stepped in front of a train and was killed at a Metra station in Chicago. Following the collision, a large portion of his body was propelled 100 feet onto the southbound platform and struck Zokhrabov from behind. As a result of the accident, Zokhrabov sustained a shoulder injury, a leg fracture, and a wrist fracture. She sued the man’s estate for damages, alleging that his negligence in walking in front of the train caused her injuries. The circuit court granted the estate’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that the man owed no duty to Zokhrabov. The Appellate Court of Illinois, First Division reversed, holding that the man could have reasonably foreseen that his negligence would cause injury to a passenger waiting in the train station nearby.

Many of you are probably appalled by this decision because it may sound both grotesque and ridiculous. Others are probably excited for the opportunity to reflect upon Cardozo’s infamous Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad opinion. We here at Abnormal Use fall somewhere in between. On one hand, the idea of someone suing the estate of a man dismembered in an accident seems to go against our humanity. On the other hand, Zokhrabov allegedly was injured by the man’s body. There is no evidence the train operator was negligent in any respect. (The estate actually sued the train company for negligence. However, the case was dismissed and upheld on appeal on the grounds that the danger was “open and obvious.”)

As you may recall, Cardozo created the “zone of danger” test in which a duty only arises out of a reasonably foreseeable danger. Here, the court held that it was reasonably foreseeable that an oncoming train could strike, kill, and fling the man’s body into a woman waiting on passenger platform. The court indicated that the potential outcome of the man’s conduct was limited because the train traveled on a fixed, linear path within the speed limit. Physics lessons aside, Zokhrabov must have been standing at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Regardless of the grotesque nature of the claims, Zokhrabov has been given a gift – the opportunity to let a jury decide whether it wants to hold a deceased man liable for these injuries. And you thought your holiday gifts meant something.

P.S. This post was written entirely on a new iPad.

For a thorough analysis of this decision and its Palsgraf interplay, please check out this piece by Jonathan Turley of the ABA Journal‘s top legal opinion blog.

The Case of the Killer Toothbrush

Every so often, I read a news story about a lawsuit that makes me think I’ve inadvertently stumbled onto the satirical publication The Onion.  This is one of those stories.

According to this report by CBC News out of British Columbia, a woman named Saliha Alnoor is suing the Colgate-Palmolive Company for injuries she sustained when her toothbrush allegedly broke in two places in her mouth, slicing her gums and causing her to lose consciousness.

Alnoor apparently hired an engineer, who has done extensive testing on the toothbrush and determined that it contains a design defect that caused the brush to break.  Despite this damning would-be testimony, however, Alnoor is now representing herself against the company, in what her family describes as a “David and Goliath” battle.

After initially complaining to Colgate, the company sent her a $20 coupon.  Later, when she became particularly serious about her claims, the company offered to settle her case for $500.  Can’t you just smell the fear?  It smells oddly like mint.

This is one case we’re going to have to watch.  I wonder what Wacky Warning Label might come out of this case.

Friday Links

Behold, the cover of Justice League of America #81, published way, way back in 1970.  Five members of the Justice League have apparently been involuntarily committed by none other than the Man of Steel himself. On the cover, Superman tells a institution guard, “I had to put them away! They – They’re hopelessly insane!,” referring to his super colleagues The Flash, Batman, Hawkman, Atom, and Black Canary.  Here’s our question: Wouldn’t they be placed in proper asylum garb somewhere between their initial confinement and the commitment hearings? The warden of the asylum is letting them continue to wear their costumes? Do you think Batman got to keep his utility belt, too, as well as his cowl? Where did they get a tiny straight jacket for the Atom? (And for that matter, how effective are those prison bars against the Atom, who can obviously walk through them?) What kind of asylum is this?

Lawyers are always talking about quality of life issues and work/family balance.  As attorneys, we all must find ways to ameliorate the stress of jobs in our daily lives, right? You can’t go to a CLE these days without hearing the topic which is, of course, important and worth discussing. That issue leads us to our recently received screener of NBC’s “The Firm,” the new television legal drama based upon the John Grisham novel and the 1993 film adaptation starring Tom Cruise.  It premieres this Sunday on NBC at 9/8c. If you’re concerned about your mental well being and the calm tranquility of home life after a full day of legal toil, don’t watch this new series. It’s too frustrating to watch due to all of the grievous legal errors and nonsense.  We only made it twenty minutes into the pilot before switching it off.  We couldn’t handle any more than that.

Starring Josh Lucas as Mitchell McDeere (the character originally played by Tom Cruise), the series chronicles his exploits years and years after the events depicted in the film.  It’s been a long while since McDeere worked at Bendini, Lambert, & Locke, the nefarious Memphis firm whose downfall McDeere prompted in the film.  In fact, as the new narrative begins, McDeere is a solo practitioner. It’s not until later in the pilot that he joins a new firm.

Whereas the original film had some nice touches for lawyer and non-lawyer viewers alike, “The Firm” is the sort of hokey legal television show that we’ve seen a million times before with all the overly familiar stereotypes. McDeere is the vexing  type of television lawyer who only seems to represent innocent defendants and reasonable, careful plaintiffs wronged by some evil multinational corporate conglomerate.

In the first few scenes, McDeere casually discusses a potential products liability case with his assistant, Tammy (Juliette Lewis, the same character played by Holly Hunter in the film).  Apparently, one of McDeere’s clients had a “defective stent,” which prompts discussion between McDeere and Tammy about “thousands of plaintiffs” and this being McDeere’s “biggest tort case of the year.” (They never cause to consider the Plaintiff’s pre-existing medical history. Of course the product must be defective!). Pausing to assume that the corporation is, of course, sinister, Tammy  remarks: “I’m sure they’ll settle; the last thing they want is a trial.”  Right, of course. McDeere’s brother, Ray, (played by Callum Keith Rennie here and by the far better David Strathairn in the film), is now an investigator for McDeere’s solo outfit.  Decrying his inability to find dirt on the drug company, Ray says, “The company knows better to leave a paper trail!”  Of course they do! More tired cliches about nefarious corporate defendants, just like so many other lawyer shows these days. Sigh.

“The Firm” also exists in a universe where lawyers are summoned to court solely to be appointed to a new pro bono case by a judge.  (Apparently, it doesn’t occur to court administration to send such appointments through the mail.). McDeere appears in court – twenty minutes late – for what he thinks is a hearing in one case; the judge, however, called upon him to appoint him to represent a new criminal defendant, a teenage boy wearing a bloody shirt.  McDeere and his new client then go to a conference room in the courthouse to discuss the case. That’s right.  In this universe, the defendant is allowed to meet privately with his lawyer while still wearing evidence before it’s collected by the police and crime scene investigators.  (McDeere even tells the defendant the police will ultimately want to collect the shirt later!).  Spoliation, anyone? Wouldn’t the police have already collected that evidence? Why would the system allow the minor defendant to get all the way to the courtroom for a pro bono legal appointment while still wearing the same bloody clothes in which he allegedly committed the crime?

Maybe these issues were resolved later on in the pilot, but we couldn’t bear to watch any longer. We understand that McDeere once again ends up at a large firm which seems like a dream job, which of course, actually is not.

In the end, “The Firm” is yet another lawyer show written by writers who know nothing about the legal process except from what they’ve seen on television on other bad lawyer shows. There are enough of those already.

For a far more professional television review of this program, see this piece by noted television critic Alan Sepinwall.

Abnormal Use Wins Popular Vote for Torts Category in the ABA Journal’s 5th Annual Blawg 100

Yesterday was our second blog birthday, and we got some great news!  After all the votes were tabulated, Abnormal Use won the popular vote for the Torts category in the ABA Journal‘s 5th Annual Blawg 100.  You’ll recall that back in early December, we were named one of the top 100 legal blogs by the editors of the ABA Journal, and as a part of that, we were placed into a category with five other well regarded Torts blogs, including our friends Walter Olson of Overlawyered, J. Russell Jackson of Jackon on Consumer Class Actions and Mass Torts, and Jim Beck, Will Sachse and Steve McConnell of the Drug and Device Law blog.  It was a privilege just to be included in that list.

But then came the campaigning. The editors of the ABA Journal asked that their readers vote upon their favorite blogs in each category.  So, for most of December, readers could vote for their favorite Torts blog in our category, or their other favorites in other categories.  The polls closed on December 30. We learned yesterday that we won the popular vote for the Torts category, and we couldn’t be more honored. You can see the final results in each category here. (We also congratulate friends of the blog Kevin Underhill of the Lowering the Bar blog and Jeff Richardson of the iPhone J.D. blog, for winning the popular vote in their “For Fun” and “Legal Technology” categories, respectively.).

We couldn’t have won it without the support of you, our dear readers.  Thanks again for voting for us, and of course, thanks for continuing to read our site!

Happy Birthday to Us II

We here at Abnormal Use celebrate our second birthday today. That’s right, dear readers! Our very first post – our mission statement – was published two years ago today! We’ve greatly enjoyed bringing you products liability litigation commentary over the past two years. Ordinarily, this might be the time for pensive self-reflection.  It might also be a good time to retell our origin story. But we’ve done that all before (including as recently as last November, on the occasion of our 500th post).

So, today, dear readers, you get a brief preview of what is to come from this site in 2012. No spoilers, but we have some big things in store for you this year. You might think we’re getting overconfident in our old age (two is pretty old in blog years), but we’ve hatched some ambitious plans for this year, so stay tuned and wait for what we have in store for you.

To see our first birthday post, click here.