Attorney Christopher J. McCann Teaches Everyone How Not To Build An Online Reputation

June 15, 2013
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“Christopher J. McCann speaking!”

Last year, Brian Tannebaum wrote about attorney Christopher J. McCann. Apparently McCann was trying to build his online reputation the wrong way. Long story short, McCann’s marketeer, Nader, asked Brian if he could write a guest post on Brian’s blog, My Law License.

Brian wondered why McCann, who advertised “personal service” on his website, couldn’t just pick up and the phone and ask him to write a guest post instead of having his webmaster do it:

I just wonder why Chris has hired someone to go find lawyers and try to sell himself on their blogs. Can’t he send his own email, or “call directly?” Where’s the “personal service” Chris. Chris?

A few days after Tannebaum posted his article, Matt Brown, a young lawyer in Arizona, wrote a blog post about availability which mentioned McCann in passing. In doing so, Brown described McCann’s marketing techniques as “scummy.”

Ok, fair enough. We call that First Amendment protected opinion. For instance, you may think my blog is stupid, crummy, and boring. While that opinion might hurt my feelings, you’re also entitled to express it.

So… fast forward to June of 2013…

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Why Pennsylvania Desperately Needs an Anti-SLAPP Statute To Protect Civic Engagement – The Dragonetti Act Is Not Enough

May 19, 2013

When most people think of the First Amendment, they think of the right to free speech. However, the First Amendment does not just protect free speech, it protects all civic engagement. The purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure that citizens have an active voice in our government. The First Amendment is not just a right to free speech, but a right to public participation. 

That right in Pennsylvania is currently in jeopardy thanks to SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation). 

Ideally, Congress would pass uniform anti-SLAPP legislation so citizens in all 50 states enjoy the right to public participation. But until that happens, Pennsylvania desperately needs an anti-SLAPP statute because what we have on the books currently is not enough. Every citizen should be able to participate in our government, perhaps through blogging or civic activism, without having to worry about being served with a frivolous lawsuit.

Below are my thoughts on why we need it, and what it would look like…

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Rakofsky v. The Internet Gets Dismissed, Streisand Effect Remains

May 11, 2013
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“Remember folks, filing defamation lawsuits can have unintended consequences.”

A big round of applause for Marc Randazza and Eric Turkewitz – the attorneys who defended 33 bloggers accused of defaming Joseph Rakofsky. Yesterday the New York Supreme Court dismissed Rakofsky’s ridiculously stupid lawsuit for a number of reasons. A bunch of other talented attorneys also defended the case, including John H. Teschner and David Brickman. (Teschner is too cool for a lawyer website.) Kudos to them, too.

Of course, another huge round of applause for bloggers Scott Greenfield, Brian Tannebaum, Carolyn Elefant, Canada’s Antonin PribeticGeorge Wallace, Jeff Gamso, Mark BennettAbove the Law, Philadelphia’s own Maxwell Steed Kennerly, Mirriam Seddiq, Eric Mayer, Jamie Koehler, bannination.com, and others who chose to fight this silly lawsuit instead of paying Rakofsky $5000 and saying they’re sorry like, say, Lori Palmeri did. By fighting the case instead of paying a settlement because such a thing would be convenient, the bloggers put their personal lives on the line when push came to shove in defense of the First Amendment.

It’s always nice to see that integrity still matters to some.

So… what happened? The court dismissed the case but did not sanction Rakofsky. In dismissing the case, the court found that:

Rakofsky does not deny Judge Jackson made several comments that he was not competent and too inexperienced to provide a proper defense to Deaner in a murder trial. In fact, during the trial, Judge Jackson had two side-bar discussions with Deaner pointedly inquiring whether he was satisfied with Rakofsky’s competence and lack of trial experience. The gravamen of Rakofsky’s argument is that there was no causal connection between the mistrial.and his competence and inexperience.

The clear import of Judge Jackson’s rulings was to excuse Rakofsky due to his lack of competence and inexperience to defend Deaner in a murder trial. It is acknowledged that the Deaner murder trial was Rakofsky’s first trial in a foreign jurisdiction and with which he was totally unfamiliar, and Judge Jackson was vigilant in protecting Deaner’s right to effective assistance of counsel. Significantly, the reported fact that Judge Jackson declared a mistrial in the Deaner case was not defamatory because even Rakofsky initially celebrated the mistrial as a positive development in his career. In other words, defendants’ report that a mistrial occurred does not constitute defamation.

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Joseph Rakofsky and Matthew H. Goldsmith: When “Keeping It Real” Goes Wrong

January 6, 2013

You may remember Joseph Rakofsky. In 2011, a D.C. Superior Court said his trial “performance was not up to par under any reasonable standard of competence under the Sixth Amendment” while defending a man accused of murder, and declared a mistrial. This was particularly notable because it was Rakofsky’s first trial. Not just his first murder trial, but his first trial. The court also had ethical concerns about an email Rakofsky wrote to a private investigator instructing him to “trick” a witness. Rakofsky’s blunders were picked up and written about by the Washington Post.

The legal blogosphere was intrigued. What kind of young lawyer would take on a murder case as their first trial? Soon they would find out.

Amazingly, it turns out Rakofsky had declared a personal victory in the trial on his Facebook page:

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The legal blogosphere did some more investigating and found it got worse. Much worse. Despite being licensed for only a very short period of time and in New Jersey only, Rakofsky held out that he had offices in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Connecticut. His letterhead even listed offices where he is not licensed to practice.

Rakofsky described his law firm:

My name is Joseph Rakofsky, and I founded this firm on a commitment to set the standard for criminal defense in New York City. When you need an experienced attorney to make sure your rights are protected, no one will fight more aggressively on your behalf than we will. We have an extensive and intricate understanding of legal procedures and loopholes, as well as federal and state trial experience, especially in all areas of white collar crime including: * Embezzlement * Tax Evasion * Identity Theft * Securities & Bank Fraud * Grand Larceny * Drug Trafficking

Not only is Rakofsky unlicensed to practice in New York, but that is pretty ambitious for someone who had been licensed for such a short period of time. It seemed like at every turn, the story got worse and worse.

At this point, Rakofsky had a choice to make. He could take his licks and learn from it, and move on with some hard earned experience and perhaps a little humility.

He could have done that, but instead Joseph Rakofsky decided to keep it real.

First, Rakofsky sued 78 defendants in a New York state court in a suit aptly dubbed “Rakofsky v. The Internet.” Then when bloggers blogged about his SLAPP suit, he decided to add them in by filing an Amended Complaint. Rakofsky’s Amended Complaint weighed in at 82 pages with 218 paragraphs.

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Fun Friday Reading: Marc Randazza and Eric Turkewitz’s Latest Papers Absolutely Decimate Joseph Rakofsky

June 15, 2012

Margarita Monday anyone…?

Finally got around to reading the new papers filed in the Joseph Rakofsky v. the Internet case. Here they are:

A couple of weeks ago I did my best to try and breakdown Rakofsky’s set of papers. This week Marc Randazza and Eric Turkewitz did a much better job.

The opposition to Rakofsky’s Motion to Amend discusses Rakofsky’s endless amount of paper he has made everyone sift through, including opposing a pro hac motion, requesting a stay and then violating it by trying to file motions that were deemed “incomprehensible”, and then appealing the denial of those motions. Rakofsky also sought $5000 settlements from many of the defendants, which some actually paid. As the Defendants point out:

Once the Court granted Marc Randazza’s pro hac vice admission on September 15, 2011, Rakofsky requested and received a stay of proceedings so that he could retain new counsel. On October 24, 2011, however, Rakofsky attempted to file documents with the court in violation of this very stay that he had just requested.

Rakofsky again tried to receive ex parte relief from the Court on December 23, 2011, bringing an order to show cause that sought a wide range of relief ranging from a second amendment of the complaint, to court orders that involved at least one non-party, Google, Inc. On the face of these papers, it was hard to understand what, exactly, Rakofsky wanted the court to do. The filing was so awful that Justice Goodman, who handled this matter prior to her retirement, denied it on January 3, 2012 as “incomprehensible.”

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Joseph Rakofsky in His Own Words: A Stunningly Sad Mix of Vanity, Hubris, Bad Judgment, and Irony

May 24, 2012

Alright, Joseph Rakofsky’s latest papers are out. I actually read them, so you owe me a beer. (They can be found in their entirety here).

If you don’t know the story, Joseph Rakofsky was admitted to practice on April 29, 2010 in New Jersey. On May 3, 2010, he claims he was approached by Dontrell Deaner’s family to defend him in a murder case. (say what? April 29, 2010 was a Friday Thursday. May 3, 2010 was a Monday. That means Rakofsky got licensed and somehow in four days was approached to handle a murder trial.)

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A Late “Happy Cinco de Mayo” from Joseph Rakofsky!

May 7, 2012


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