Weird Law Week

A lot of startling law-related headlines and one not-so-startling headline caught my eye last week. Here’s my favorite: “Akin Gump Partner Arrested Trying to Sell the Details of a Whistleblower Complaint (While Wearing a Wig)”

There are three mysterious aspects to this news story.

I can understand why a lawyer might want to make an extra $310,000 on the side by selling a sealed complaint.

I can understand why he would suggest payment in bitcoins so the money couldn’t be traced. But the rest of the FBI affidavit gets weird.

First, the lawyer says he’s going to text a meeting location to the guy with the money, “in order to make sure that this was not a ‘sting.’”

Do criminals initiate stings, and how would this help even if it was a sting?

Then the guy shows up, “wearing a wig which I believed was to conceal his identity.”

How, exactly?

There’s this thing called a face that usually gives away your identity. This wig thing is worse than Superman’s glasses.

The third weird thing is a completely superfluous sentence in the FBI affidavit: “Shortly after his arrest, Wertkin said out loud in the presence of an arresting officer, ‘My life is over.’”

OK, that’s sad, but is it criminal? Is it part of the case? Why throw that in?

The affidavit noted that the Akin Gump website described the defendant as a former Department of Justice lawyer who led more than 20 major fraud investigations and has “first-hand knowledge of the legal and practical considerations” of False Claims Act litigation.

Apparently not quite practical enough.

The biography was gone from the Akin Gump website last week.


Here’s another one: “Judge Wants Review of Legal Bills After Firms Reveal 9,000 Hours of ‘Inadvertent’ Double-Billed Time”


The news stories on this are a lot of fun. A highlight was the spokesperson for one of the law firms who claimed that billing 10 times the amount some lawyers were actually paid was “commonly accepted practice.”

Apparently, it took a newspaper report – by the Boston Globe’s famous “Spotlight” team – to point out that a $74.5 million fee award might be a tad excessive.

The judge’s order says that a judge appointed to investigate whether fees of $500 an hour for lawyers is justified … is going to be paid $800 an hour.

It’s his regular hourly rate.


“Farmer Spends 16 Years Studying Law by Himself so He Could Sue a Powerful Chemical Firm for ‘Polluting His Land’ – and He Wins the First Round”

This was in China, so maybe there weren’t any lawyers around. Or maybe law is a lot more complicated in China.

Either way, this guy should consider giving up the farming thing.


“Data From Man’s Pacemaker Led to Arson Charges”

Yet another electronic device rats on its owner.

Big Brother may not be watching, but Big Machine has got its eyes on all of us.

This is going to cause heart attacks.


“Infamous Journalist Stephen Glass Works for Iowa Law Firm”

This is from the Des Moines Register, and I have no idea why it’s a news story. Glass, a journalist who made stuff up, has been working for years for a law firm helping clients tell their stories (unless, of course, this story has been made up).

He’s quoted as saying he works with indisputably true facts because he’s afraid of being accused of lying again.

If only that were true of other people we could think of …


“Trump to Judges: Even a ‘Bad High School Student’ Would Rule in My Favor”

Expect the appointment of high school students to the bench in the near future.


“Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch Says Trump’s Attacks on Judiciary Are ‘Demoralizing’”

Expect the appointment of high school students to the Supreme Court in the near future.


“Trump Attacks Federal Judges in Unusually Personal Terms”

This is the not-surprising one. Judges get treated just like everyone else.

It’s only fair.

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