Camera-shy. If you read this blog on a semi-regular basis, there are probably some questions you have, and one of them might be, "Gosh, Russ, why don't you have a picture of yourself here?" After all, if you surf the web for legal web sites, you'll encounter any number of pictures of lawyers, singly or in groups, most with the same studied pose: arms folded across the chest, a steely glare silently communicating the message that woe be it to any insurance lawyer or prosecutor who has the misfortune of crossing their path.
Well, to assuage your concerns, it's not that I have an advanced case of elephantiasis or a complexion that calls to mind a slab of not particularly lean corned beef. It's just that I don't photograph well. A couple years back, the Vindicator, the magazine of the state criminal bar association, decided to run a couple of articles under my byline, and urged me to provide a picture to accompany them. Against my better judgment, I did so. A popular topic on the association's listserv over the next several weeks was what the picture reminded the participants of, with the consensus finally settling on it being the type of photo kidnappers send to the hostage's family, the only thing missing being me holding up a newspaper with the current date.
Perhaps I'm too shy. There are people who have a complexion that calls to mind a slab of not particularly lean corned beef. Call Photography, a studio specializing in class portraits, realizes this as well, and so sent out an email to all the graduates of Thomas M. Cooley Law School (and four other graduating classes as well), boasting of their ability to retouch photographs to eliminate "unsightly blemishes," which they called "complexion retouching," and offered "extensive retouching" for more extreme cases. It even included "before" and "after" photography of a particular individual to show off the marvels of its work.
Unfortunately, the particular individual happened to be one of the graduating seniors. Being a good American, he promptly sued (complaint here), alleging that he "suffered with aesthetic difficulties with the complexion of his face for the majority of his adolescent and adult life." (I feel your pain, dude; while for the fair sex the cautionary advice in high school was that "boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses," for us it was "girls with big busts you'll scare off with your pustules.") He demanded compensation for having "quickly became the subject of conversation throughout Cooley Law School and plaintiff's colleagues."
Some conversation, I'll bet.
So, I guess there are things worse than having people ponder over your picture, "Gee, do you think he was still alive when that was taken?" Nonetheless, the student's plight has made me rethink my position on being photographed. I've decided to go the "before-and-after" route as well, in my case with the company who keeps sending me all those emails about penis enlargement. The results from the preliminary photo-shoot can be found at right. Stay tuned.
Fortunately, they'd left their tasers back at the station. Police in Milledgeville, Ga., responded to a call from a local school, and found a situation all too familiar in these dystopian times: a student, Salecia Johnson, was acting out, throwing furniture and knocking over shelves, which resulted in injuries to her principal. The cops managed to gain control of her, handcuffed her, and bundled her into the police car before taking her downtown. She won't be prosecuted, though, because of her age.
She's six years old. The police chief defended the handcuffing, asserting that there was no "age discrimination" in its policy of doing that with anyone who was to be placed in a cruiser. That's good to know.
Get ready for Zim-Mania. Well, this is off to a promising start. First, the country spends a month debating George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin, a debate unencumbered by information such as autopsy reports, witness statements (other than via rumor), or any forensic evidence, with everyone from the guy next door to the President of the United States weighing in. Then, Zimmerman's two erstwhile attorneys hold a press conference to announce that they are withdrawing from the case because their client is mentally unstable, establishing beyond peradventure that whatever Florida mandates in the way of CLE's on ethics, especially focused on the stuff about client confidentiality, it isn't enough. Then, the prosecutor climbs aboard this ethical train wreck, announcing that she's charging Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder -- murder? really?? -- and in the process violating any number of rules of professional conduct pertaining to prosecutors. And with the arraignment still over a month away, as recounted here, we have just about every lawyer in the country willing to go on TV and venture an opinion, no matter how ill-informed, about the case.
The debate about whether we should have cameras inside the courtrooms seems to have been settled. I'd like to reopen the debate, and suggest that maybe, when it comes to the law, the better question is whether we should have cameras outside of them.