Of Unreasonable Searches and Seizures and Twitter fights.

April 2, 2013

Of Unreasonable Searches and Seizures and Twitter fights.

I get into a twitter fight over the illegality of Stop and Frisk as implemented by the PPD with the Philadelphia District Attorney, and next thing I know I’m on Philebrity.

Maybe Twitter is useful for more than sharing cat pictures.*

*Like sharing dog pictures.

P.S. Stop and frisk is still bullshit.


Stop and Frisk in Philadelphia is Bullshit.

March 20, 2013

Search and SeizureI was listening to my local NPR outlet this morning when a particular news story piqued my interest — the ACLU and Kairys Rudovsky Messing & Feinberg had just filed their Third Report to the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania regarding the monitoring of stop and frisk practices. I said to myself: “I need to get a copy of this report right away.”

Which I did. And I read it. And I got furious.
Read the rest of this entry »


Developers and RCOs Take Heed: the Zoning Code Changes on March 25, 2013 — Bill No. 120889

February 6, 2013
"New" is all relative anyway.

“New” is all relative anyway.

Get ready for some changes in the New Zoning Code.

On January 24, 2013, Philadelphia City Council overrided Mayor Nutter’s veto and voted Bill No. 120889 into place. The Bill goes into effect on March 25, 2013. And just last night, we received a fact sheet from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission that displays the major changes, which mainly affect developers and Registered Community Organizations.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re a developer or on the board of a RCO, you have some new rules to follow, and probably some more work to do. Here’s a quick greatest hits.

Read the rest of this entry »


Kevin Schreiber (kevin@cleanyourname.com) is an idiot.

December 20, 2012
Screen shot 2012-12-20 at 16.43.33 PM

Thanks, Siri. Now, find me some scummy SEO marketer in New York…

After yesterday’s post, you’d think that sleezy SEO marketers would understand that we don’t want what they’re selling.

Nope. Read the rest of this entry »


Jury Duty.

December 13, 2012

I reported Monday morning to the Criminal Justice Center at 8am for Jury Duty. I think I was the only person remotely excited to be there.

I sat all day today in the Criminal Justice Center waiting to get called to a panel, watching scores of people groan as their names were called, trudging their way into voir dire. I waited for my name to be called.

And I waited straight through noon, when they let us out for lunch. And I waited when we got back from lunch at 1.00pm.

Finally, around 3.30pm, I heard my name and got my juror number — 65. We took the elevator up to the 11th floor and waited in the jury box. After sitting another 30 minutes, the crier came out and announced that we weren’t needed, and we should go back downstairs where they’d dismiss us.

Damn.

At least I got my $9.00 check to show for it. That, and a lack of sleep, since I spent another 8 hours making up for the work I missed.

Maybe I’ll have better luck next time.


FOP President John McNesby Can’t Stop Saying Stupid Things.

December 7, 2012

FOP President John McNesby Can’t Stop Saying Stupid Things.

Yesterday, I posted about the officers whose testimony was so incredible that the DA didn’t want to call them as witnesses anymore. Veteran attorney Brad Bridge of the Defender Association remarked that the officers were “among the most troubled in the department.”

The officers,

  • Perry Betts;
  • Brian Reynolds;
  • Michael Spicer;
  • Thomas Liciardello;
  • Brian Speiser; and
  • Lt. Robert Otto

were named in several Internal Affairs investigations and civil rights lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force, false arrests, and filing false reports.

Unsurprisingly, the shit has now hit the fan. Yesterday, the District Attorney withdrew charges against two men who’d been charged with drug dealing — all because of the lying liars of the Narcotics Unit.

From today’s Inquirer:

Two men accused of drug dealing had charges against them dropped Thursday after their attorney told a judge that five Philadelphia antinarcotics officers involved in their case had “partnered with drug dealers” in crime.

According to the article, defense attorney Larry Krasner argued to Judge Charles Hayden that:

“There was a group of police officers who essentially partnered with certain drug dealers, and they partnered with those drug dealers to do things that were both illegal and outright crimes.”

The Assistant District Attorney Bret Furbur remarked:

 “[T]he [District Attorney's] office, my higher-ups, have informed me the case is going to be withdrawn.”

Naturally, it logically follows that the DA realized there was a substantial credibility issue with the narcotics unit officers. Further, it makes sense that when you’re trying get convictions (as ADAs are wont to do), it helps to call witnesses who are believable. Since these officers proved wholly unreliable, why would the DA want to call them as witnesses any longer?

But instead of noting that maybe, just maybe, FOP5 should raise the bar and suggest that their officers take that oath to tell the truth seriously, McNesby points the finger at District Attorney Seth Williams:

“[District Attorney Seth Williams] has no idea how to run the office. He doesn’t know the ramifications of what he’s done. He’s not just gotten these guys transferred, he’s tarnished their careers.”

He must have a variation on Tourette syndrome, where the afflicted impulsively says stupid things all the time. He just can’t help himself! Blaming the DA for FOP5 officer’s poor conduct that renders them incredible — now that’s really incredible.

After I shook my head in disbelief for a few minutes, I decided to put fingers to keyboard and pen this open letter.

Dear John:

I think you might find that the officers’ “tarnished careers” is the result that they’re 1) lying under oath; 2) the DA’s office realizes they’re lying under oath; 3) they’re constantly being sued under §1983 for civil rights violations; and 4) they’re all the subject of several IAB investigations.

Oh, John, reputations are important. When you have a reputation for being a dirty cop who does whatever he can to get a conviction, well, that kind of taint is difficult to remove. But these reputations don’t just appear out of thin air — they’re earned and well-deserved.

And when an officer’s reputation is such that even the DA doesn’t believe them anymore — well, that’s it’s not the DA’s fault. In fact, I’m pretty certain that DA Williams knows exactly what he’s doing by refusing to use them. He should be commended by refusing to rely on officers with combustible pants.

Maybe — just maybe — this will teach other officers out there a lesson. When you swear to tell the truth and the whole truth, you do it. When you swear an oath to preserve and uphold the law and our constitution, you do it.

Sure, I understand that you’re the president of FOP5, and since it’s an elected position you have a reputation to upkeep among the members. But your reputation with the citizenry, at this point, is nil. And you’re not helping the public perception of the PPD as working to protect their own first, the public second.

When you rush to defend even the worst of the police force, you tarnish the best of FOP5 as well.

So next time you point your finger at the DA for refusing to call dirty cops to the stand, think about where blame really lies.

Or just keep saying stupid things; you seem to excel at that.

In the meantime, Mr. Williams, keep doing the right thing.

[Ed. — Defense attorney Michael Coard, in his article "The 4 Most Annoying White People in Philadelphia" has the following to say about Mr. McNesby, which made me chuckle:

He wants all criminals jailed forever. So who’s gonna wear the blue uniforms, drive the white cars and beat the black people up when the good cops’ shifts end?]


Will You Be My Friend? — Young Lawyer Edition.

November 20, 2012

“No.”

People hate lawyers. That’s the trope at least.

The fact of the matter is, though, that at some point in your legal career, someone will hate you. And their hate will run so deep that they have to tell others just how much you’re a terrible shark/shyster/scumbag/bottomfeeder.

Now, back in the days before the series of tubes, it took a while for these whisper-down-the-lane rumors to be spread about town. But now, in the age of the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. And even internet dogs can type mean things.

There recently appeared in this blog’s comments a scathing rebuke of our firm by a person whose real name, IP address, email address, and Facebook account, I will mercifully redact. Note: I have never represented this person, nor have I ever met them, as far as I know.

Image

While looking up a local bar’s phone number, I noticed an identical negative review on the Google Places page for my firm. There was a different (::cough:: fictitious ::cough) name used, but the similarities are striking:

Image

In all fairness, his dog wanted custody over his bitch’s puppies, and I don’t do family law.

Webber Calvan? Really? That’s not even a good fake name. “Maxx Hornball,” now, that would have been funny.

But thanks to the wonders of the internet and my powerful investigative skills, I’ve determined that attempted-blog-commenter a.k.a non-client reviewer “Webber Calvan” is the friend of an opposing party in a case where I’m counsel. Swell.

Note: This is the second time I’ve had non-parties to litigation personally attack me or my firm’s online reputation. I presume that it will continue to happen from time to time.

When I first read the comment on my blog — which was never actually posted to it because we moderate all comments — I simply laughed it off. Then I saw it was posted on my former Google Places page, and I thought a bit more about whether to respond. What better platform than Twitter to take a quick poll?

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Popehat offered sage advice: “The negative review is self-evidently stupid. Hellfire likely to generate Streisand Effect. Prudence, not grace.”

So here’s my prudent response: That old saying “you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs” — the legal equivalent of that is “you can’t do a good job as a lawyer without pissing some people off.”

Young lawyers, you will find that you make enemies as you continue in your legal careers. One day it might be a judge. Another day, it might be the prosecutor. Some days, you might irritate some person who thinks it’s a bright idea to try to write negative reviews about you on the internet.

You know what? Lawyers make friends on the weekends.

So, Mr/Ms “Weber Calvan,” to use the words of a wise French statesman:

I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!


The Young Lawyer Chronicles – Perspectives.

June 6, 2012

This is the doorway to my office.

It was just another day in court.

After I served as bench warrant court appointed counsel a month before, I had received an additional five court appointment letters. As I always do when I receive new appointment notices, I fired off letters to my clients:

Jim Client
123 High Street
Philadelphia, PA

Re: I am Your Lawyer in Case 1234•2012, Next Court Date 4/20

Dear Client:

I have been appointed by the court to represent you in this matter. I have enclosed my business card with this letter. Please contact me as soon as you receive this letter. It is important that we meet before your court date to prepare your defense. I look forward you meeting you and serving as your attorney.

Very Truly Yours,

Leo M. Mulvihill, Jr.

Read the rest of this entry »


Philadelphia’s News Outlets are Hearing Us!

April 11, 2012

Leo Mulvihill, a lawyer who lives in the area, said that neighbors saw vagrants breaking in, and that the building was being used as a drug den and an illegal chop shop …

‘We are a system of laws. . . . Each time you have a violation, you have to be given an opportunity to respond,’ Gillison said. ‘That’s just the way it is here in America. The bottom line is that it’s incumbent on the owner to respond.’

The city can seal properties without an owner’s permission, but the city places a premium on working with owners and trying to get them to take responsibility.

‘I understand that L&I has policies. I understand that there is due process afforded to the owner,’ Mulvihill said. ‘The important point is it shouldn’t have deteriorated to the point it did before the city did anything about it.’

After deadly fire, debate over who was responsible for building’s condition (Philadelphia Inquirer).

I wasn’t kidding when I said that yesterday’s post wouldn’t be our first. Check back as we figure out what else we can do to fight slumlords and get the city to act so this doesn’t happen again.


I support your right to carry, but not your poor culinary choices. (Keen legal insight within).

March 8, 2012

Why yes, Charles. Yes I am. Oh my.

I got this message a few minutes ago and nearly spit up my coffee.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Philadelphia Daily News picked up a story on an Open Carry dinner that’s scheduled to be held at an Applebee’s in Ridley Township.

Now, these particular guys have been active on our neighborhood message board for quite some time now, acting the part of the rabble rousers. A bit ago, they posted an open invitation for us to join them this open carry convention held at the king of restaurants.

I whole-heartedly support gun owners’ rights – including the right to open carry in Philadelphia (irrespective of the wisdom of that decision). But this venue choice is atrocious. Really, of all the great restaurants we have in the area, they choose to assemble a group of guys who feel the need to wear their holstered penises on their hip for all to see at a family restaurant whose claims to fame are 2 for $20 dinners and half-price appetizers after 9?

I posted this in response:

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Who knew that my rhetorical eloquence would be picked up this morning by the Inquirer? (At least now I won’t have to let Applebee’s know how I feel on their Yelp page).

H/T @CharlesThomas for letting me know about this at all.

Shame on you Applebee’s for wanting to track my location when I visited your website.

Extra kudos to Stephanie Farr for including this line: “Fiorino, who used a forum on the website for the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association to coordinate the meet-up, said on the forum that he’s shooting for getting to the restaurant about 5:30 p.m.”  Ah, puns.


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