American Bar Association Journal, Law News Now

Paulette Brown called for initiatives to increase diversity and a commitment to pro bono service in her speech. All photos by ©Kathy Anderson.

Paulette Brown announces ambitious plans as she assumes the ABA presidency


ABA Journal

By Lorelei Laird
August 03, 2015


Introducing Paulette Brown, outgoing ABA president William Hubbard joked that Brown clearly has the strength and stamina to take up the presidency—because if you try to join her on her daily walks, "your ankles will burn like fire."


Brown, a partner at Locke Lord in Morristown, New Jersey, made good on that introduction by announcing an ambitious list of presidential initiatives for her 2015-2016 term, which will begin at the close of the 2015 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. First among these was the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360, an initiative to build on existing ABA work toward a more diverse and inclusive profession. To that end, she said she’d already formed partnerships with critical groups, including the Department of Justice and the National Center for State Courts. Read more

Russell Frisby, 2008–2009 Chair of the ABA's Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice section.

American Bar Association

The American Bar Association (ABA), founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation of model ethical codes related to the legal profession. The ABA has 410,000 members. Its national headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois; it also maintains a significant branch office in Washington, D.C. Read more

'Sovereign citizens' plaster courts with bogus legal filings--and some turn to violence

ABA Journal
By Lorelei Laird
May 1, 2014


The Atta family locked up their Temecula, Calif., home and went on vacation in 2012. While they were gone, Victor Cheng moved in.


Cheng had owned the home before the Attas, but he lost it in foreclosure. Nonetheless, he filed a fraudulent deed with the county recorder’s office, transferred the utilities into his name and even tried to evict the Attas after their return. During his prosecution for burglary, trespassing and filing a false document, he insisted that he was not the person being prosecuted because the indictment spelled his name in all capital letters. Read more

Litigious ex-con denied bond over claimed sex-ad post giving FBI agent's phone number


ABA Journal
By Martha Neil
August 13, 2015


After being in prison and on probation for the past decade, convicted con man Frederick Banks had a taste of freedom this summer. But it didn’t last long.


Known for his prolific federal court litigation, determined by a magistrate to include more than 300 meritless suits between 2004 and 2013, Banks apparently may have tried a new tactic in order to get back at an FBI agent who helped put him in prison, according to the Associated Press and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


In a Craigslist post, Banks sought sex partners for the FBI agent, identified in the case as "TP," providing the agent’s name, address and phone number in Florida, authorities allege. Banks was indicted, initially under seal, for interstate stalking. This week he was ordered held until trial in the Western District of Pennsylvania case, as a security risk, in part due to his litigious history.


"I find defendant is a serious threat to the safety of TP, and family, and potentially others with whom the defendant has legal disputes," wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Pesto.


It isn’t clear from news coverage how Banks got hold of the FBI agent’s contact information in Florida. TP was stationed in Pittsburgh when he worked on Banks’ case.


An attorney for Banks could not immediately be reached Wednesday for comment, the AP article says. Read more

Law Professor Paul Campos:

Inside the Law School Scam


Law Grad’s Ballooning Student Debt Will Exceed $1.5M by the Time He Retires
ABA Journal Law News Now
February 28, 2012, by Debra Cassens Weiss

A Touro law graduate who financed his education with a $69,000 loan in 1996 says he’ll owe more than $1.5 million by the time he retires in 23 years.

John Koch, now 46, was unable to pass the New York bar exam, despite three tries, according to Cable News Channel 12 (sub. req.). He has worked as a compliance manager, an insurance agent and a painter. He is also a law school scamblogger who uses the pseudonym JDPainterGuy, Legal Skills Prof Blog reports. The video is posted at YouTube.

When Koch defaulted on his loan, penalties added $40,000 to $50,000 to the balance, he tells the television station. He currently owes more than $300,000. Now he is deferring loan payments under a federal program, which adds $2,000 in interest to his balance each month. As a result, he will be charged interest on interest, a debt expert tells Cable News Channel 12.

Another expert, Cryn Johannsen, tells the TV station that huge student debts contribute to depression. People find her blog by searching online for the words "suicide" and "student loan debt." Johannsen is a journalist and an advocate for student loan debtors who runs a nonprofit called Education Matters.

Koch tells News Channel 12 the debt burden harmed his former marriage and affected his mental outlook. "When I'm 69 years old, I will have carried student loan debt for 50 years," Koch tells the reporter. The station broadcast the interview on Feb. 12 as part of a series called "Student Loan Trap." Read more

Supreme Court Rules Attaching GPS Device to Car Is a Search; Case Is ‘Big Loss’ for U.S.
ABA Journal Law News Now
By Debra Cassens Weiss
January 23, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled for a drug defendant who argued that police should have obtained a warrant before attaching a GPS device to his car to monitor his movements.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion for a court that was unanimous in its finding that the police conduct was a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

SCOTUSblog initially called the decision "a big loss for the federal government." The case, United States v. Jones, is an appeal by Antoine Jones, who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine after police installed a GPS device on his Jeep Grand Cherokee. Read more

Ex-Lawyer Reconsiders Legal Career After Winning Unusual Small Claims Case Over Honda Hybrid
ABA Journal Law News Now
By Molly McDonough
February 2, 2012

Updated: Rather than join a class action making many similar claims, a former lawyer who owns a Honda Civic hybrid took her complaints against her car's manufacturer to small claims court and won.

A Torrance Small Claims Court Commissioner ruled that American Honda Motor Co. misled the woman by claiming the hybrid could achieve as much as 50 miles per gallon, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Heather Peters, who maintained she never got more than 41 miles per gallon, was awarded $9,867 in damages, just shy of the $10,000 she was seeking. Read more


Heather Peters blog post Feb 2, 2012 7:09 AM CST


UPDATE: Appeals Court Overturns $10K Small Claims Verdict Against Honda for Hybrid Mileage Claims

Justice Thomas Recalls Time as ‘Lonely Kid’ Before He Was Recruited to Holy Cross
ABA Journal Law News Now
By Debra Cassens Weiss
January 27, 2012

Justice Clarence Thomas became emotional during a speech at his college alma mater on Thursday as he remembered the time he had dropped out of the seminary and got kicked out of his home.

Thomas spoke to students at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., about the priest who recruited him to the school and mentored him during his time there, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and the Associated Press. A new book, Fraternity, chronicles the lives of Thomas and four other men nurtured by the priest and former college president, the Rev. John Brooks.

Before going to Holy Cross, he was just a "lonely kid," Thomas said. "In the summer of 1968, I had no place to go and no idea what I was going to do," Thomas said. "I was 19. "My only hope was Holy Cross College, a place I'd never seen and had barely heard of."

At the school, Thomas said he "enjoyed the first brief glimpses of what it meant to be educated" and pledged to give up his anger. "It was here, directly in front of the chapel, on the morning of April 16, 1970, that I promised the Almighty God that if he took hate out of my heart I would never hate again," Thomas recalled. "He did and I have not." Read more


Clarence Thomas Wikipedia. Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Succeeding Thurgood Marshall, Thomas is the second African American to serve on the Court. Read more

Clarence Thomas is his own man
The Los Angeles Times
David G. Savage
July 3, 2011

After 20 years on the high court, the justice is known for standing alone in dissent.

WASHINGTON — Each summer, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas invites his four new law clerks to his home to watch a movie.

Not just any movie, but the 1949 film version of the classic of libertarian conservatism, Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead."

The movie's hero, played by Gary Cooper, is an idealistic but stubborn architect, who, as Rand wrote, "stood alone against the men of his time." A character, it might be said, a lot like Thomas himself. "If you think you are right, there is nothing wrong with being the only one," he said last year in explaining his fondness for the movie. "I have no problem being the only one."

Read more