Is extreme absentmindedness the same as legal malpractice?
Probably, but I'm not sure the punishment should be the same.
Check out a ruling from the Supreme Court of Louisiana called In re Schmidt . Among the lawyer's alleged offenses were losing a bag of dead insects, leaving documents in a car "where they were destroyed in a rainstorm," and not returning title documents for a dead guy's crypt.
This is an interesting law practice.
I'm thinking maybe Rowan Atkinson starring in the film version. "Mr. Bean, Esquire."
The Louisiana court imposed a suspension of one year and a day. I'm sure there's a reason for that extra day, but I don't know what it is. My guess is they figure the lawyer won't properly mark his calendar anyway.
What I wonder about is whether this discipline makes any sense. After all, this guy's memory probably isn't going to be any better next year.
Suspension is not going to protect the public. Lawyers like this and the guy I mentioned last week who thinks millions of dollars are coming from Nigeria should be treated like any other potentially dangerous product.
They should come with required warning labels.
All "disciplined" lawyers should be required to prominently post signs on their doors and on the front of their desks with language like this: "WARNING: Serious side effects of use of this lawyer may include loss of evidence, failure to meet court deadlines, impossible promises of untold riches, projectile vomiting, and a pounding headache. In the past, this lawyer has (fill in the blank). Imagine this happening to you. Consumers depositing valuable items here do so at their own risk."
I'm thinking the Food and Drug Administration should be regulating lawyers.
Hacker Alert: I'm not sure what to make of this -maybe this sort of thing is becoming the norm - but the Oklahoma Supreme Court has issued a tentative ruling revoking West Publishing's status as its official publisher.
This is startling to me. I've lived in Oklahoma (briefly) and California. I've never considered Oklahoma to be the more progressive of the two.
But California still calls West its official publisher even though all West has to do these days is load opinions onto the Internet.
Oklahoma now (tentatively) will do the official loading itself onto its own website. West can still publish unofficially.
I don't know what brought this on in Oklahoma, but my guess is that one of the state Supreme Court justices has a clerk that's good with computers. It's certainly sensible - we don't have to rely on mountains of bound volumes in libraries any more.
But I do see potential trouble.
Consider the government and computers.
Consider old people (i.e. judges) and computers.
Consider the temptation to hack.
There are going to be some exciting fictional legal precedents in our online future.
Irony of the Week: This is from a news report last week about the Utah Supreme Court striking down a ban on gay marriage in Utah:
"A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement that it supports "traditional marriage ... (M)arriage should be between a man and a woman."
Or a man and many women.