Magna Carta and all that...

Author: John Bolch /


JOHN, by the grace of Richard Dawkins Subject of England, Lawyer and Blawger to his fellow Blawgers, Greeting.

NOW THAT BEFORE RICHARD DAWKINS, for the health of Our soul and those of Our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of Richard Dawkins, the exaltation of the great man, and the better ordering of our blawgosphere, at the advice of My Lord Ed of Blawg Review, My Lady Victoria Pynchon, My Lord Colin Samuels, My Lord Charon QC and other loyal blawgers:

I. On Matters of State

We will begin with the subject of foreign policy. My Lord Charon QC, not satisfied with being a Smokedo master, has taken up learning French and promises to invade France again. With his help, we shall yet recover our possessions on the other side of the channel that those devious French have lately taken from us.

My Lord Tim Kevan at The Barrister Blog speculates as to who shall be my next British Prime Minister. He suggests, as he has done before, that it will be James Purnell. We shall see. Meanwhile, Baron Andrew Keogh of white rabbit has some advice for Labour MPs in this post, although he holds out little hope of them heeding his advice: "cos they are thick, tribalist and have a death wish". We will not argue with that...

There has been much talk in Our realm recently of privacy and the freedom of the press, following the decision of Mr Justice Eady in the infamous Max Mosley case (see, for example, this recent post by My Lord Charon QC). We therefore find it heartening that "48 editors-in-chief and leading journalists from 19 countries adopted and signed the European Charter on Freedom of the Press", as reported by My Irish Lord Eoin O'Dell in cearta.ie.

My Lord Carl Gardner of Head of Legal, meanwhile, has done a podcast with Charon QC on the Home Secretary v AF case decided by My Law Lords this week, in which they ruled that: "there is a breach of the article 6 Convention right in proceedings under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 if a control order is imposed and, on appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission a "controlee" is unable to effectively to challenge the order because the essence of the case against him is kept secret for reasons of national security".

II. On Family Matters

For our great sins we are a family lawyer, and only a jobbing one at that. My Lady Marilyn Stowe, on the other hand, is one of England's leading lights in the field, having (amongst many other things) regularly appeared in the national media to pass on her great wisdom to the masses. This week, however, she was taking a well-earned break in Porto Ercole on the Tuscan coast in Italy, where we found her waxing lyrical about the great master Caravaggio and discussing the human condition, with relevance to two recently reported cases.

My Lord James Gross has picked up on a piece by Lady Stowe, giving a most useful list of ten 'dirty tricks' employed by spouses on divorce - not, of course, for the benefit of one's client, but rather for the purpose of defending against their use by the other party.

We often visit My Lady Judith's Divorce Blog to enjoy her unique style of blawging, and oft-times to learn a thing of importance. This week she does not disappoint, with a post about one of the recent cases to which My Lady Stowe referred. It seems that in 'olden times' if a couple were to jump over a broom together that was sufficient to form a common-law marriage. How quaint. My Lady Lucy Reed of Pink Tape has also given her take on this case.

Beyond Our northern border My Lady Fiona of Divorce Survivor continues to plough her lonely furrow as (We believe) the only Scottish family law blawger. And what an excellent job she does of it too, continuing to inform upon matters pertaining to family law both north and south of said border. Take, for example, this post concerning the issue of tax credits and child support.

Moving much further afield to Our Australian colony We find another regular purveyor of excellent family law information, much of it of relevance or interest to family lawyers elsewhere. My Lord Stephen Page of the Australian Divorce Blog this week gave Us a most illuminating post concerning the issue of stalking, and how it is handled in the colony. He also advised Us regarding two criminal offences that may be committed in the course of a family dispute - a matter that all family lawyers should consider.

On the subject of crime and family matters, My Lady Jeanne Hannah at Updates in Michigan Family Law reported the news that in the Clark Rockefeller kidnapping case the jury rejected his plea of insanity and found him guilty of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter Reigh Boss last year. Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, had taken the girl during the first of just three supervised contact visits a year that had been agreed, and then fled to a new residence that he had purchased using another false identity, where he could hide Reigh. Thankfully, he was found by the police.

III. On Matters of the Economy

My Lord Jordan Furlong at Slaw.ca discusses the actions that large law firms are taking to cope with the economic recession, and the effects of those actions on the future of the profession: "A huge disconnect will quickly become evident: our professional admission system still imagines that purchasers of legal services are willing to effectively subsidize the new lawyer training process. The purchasers will say otherwise, and this reality will bear itself out in rising new lawyer unemployment rates. This will force us to accept that new lawyers must be ready, upon entry to the bar, to provide at least a minimal level of useful legal services to clients — a base of competence from which they can grow as professionals. And that realization will lead, faster than we think, to a wholesale restructuring of the legal education and lawyer training system."

My Lord Bruce MacEwen at
Adam Smith, Esq. has serious doubts that there are "green shoots" of economic recovery in evidence, as he explains in Why BigLaw is Not Yet Fixed. Belt-tightening must therefore continue, although this does not have to be at the expense of work-life balance, as My Lady Denise Howell at Bag and Baggage explains.

Over at
Above the Law, however, My Lady Roxana St Thomas reminds us of the realities for many of trying to pursue a legal career in these difficult times.

The economic situation is not all bad news, however, as My Lady Tessa Shepperson at The Landlord Law Blog points out: many tenants are being allowed to remain in their homes and pay rent to their landlord's mortgagee when the properties are repossessed. Whilst talking of housing law, We would like to give special mention to My Lord Nearly Legal, who recently celebrated three years of giving high-quality comment on housing matters to fellow lawyers.

IV. On the Liberty of the Subject

We have by this Great Charter determined that: "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will We proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land". These words continue to resonate. Take, for example, this post by My Lord Lyle Denniston on SCOTUSblog, in which he analyses the state of Habeas law in Our American colonies a year after the landmark Boumedienne decision.

Liberty has many aspects, and one that has only accrued in recent times is freedom of access to the internet. It comes as no surprise to Us that the devious French Government sought to deny its citizens of this liberty, without trial, and it pleases Us greatly that the Constitution Council of France has struck down this contemptible law, as reported by My Lord Andis Kaulins at Law Pundit. After all, if Our subjects were denied internet access, then how would they be able to read this Charter?

V. On the Employment of the Populace


Regularly furnishing high quality advice, My Lord of the Usefully Employed blog has written an enlightening post upon the subject of costs in the employment tribunal. Meanwhile, My Lord Michael Scutt at Jobsworth has been pondering the question: Should Tube Workers be allowed to strike? He says: "I fully accept that Unions once had a vital role to play in protecting employees’ rights – I’m thinking of the appalling deprivation suffered by the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the railway workers involved in the Taff Vale case in the early years of the last century. The RMT workers aren’t the Tolpuddle Martyrs though." No, they certainly are not.

Elsewhere,
My Lord John Phillips at The Employment Law Post this week gave consideration to the record in 'labor' (sic) and employment cases of Sonia Sotomayor, recently nominated for appointment to the Supreme Court, in Our American colonies. Also in Our American colonies, My Lord Anthony Zaller at California Employment Law Report advises us that: "The $86 million trial award against Starbucks for violation of California Labor Code provisions on tips was overturned by a California appellate court". Clearly, not such good news for the serfs.

VI. On Matters of Crime

Our esteemed predecessor on Blawg Review, My Lady Carolyn Elefant, mentioned the recent debate in the blogosphere about the propriety of revealing the identity of an anonymous blogger. The formidable Baron Scott Greenfield has entered the debate with this post, and we have to say that we agree with his sentiments. Apart from anything else, the blawgosphere would be a poorer place without the unrestrained contribution of anonymous blawgers.

A case in point, of course, is My Lord Geeklawyer. We felt it appropriate to include him under the heading of 'crime', as he has, of course, committed many crimes against blawging over the years, including in a recent infamous Blawg Review.

Turning to more serious matters, My Lord Mark Bennett at Defending People ponders over the issue of “The Club” of lawyers — prosecutors, judges, defense (sic) lawyers—in a community, and whether they may put the interests of "the club" before the interests of their clients. "I’ve probably been too diplomatic in these pages," he says, "I’ve had a policy of not naming names unless my subjects have put themselves in the public eye or abused their power, and even then generally avoiding doing so. I’ve sought to avoid hurting the feelings even of people who’ve done wrong. In doing so I’ve left out an important part of the truth." A trap for all lawyers to avoid, perhaps?

VII. On the Legal Profession

My Lord David Bilinsky at Thoughtful Legal Management, after treating Us to a few bars of the Rolling Stones, advises the profession of the opportunities that Web 2.0 can provide. More practical advice is given by My Lord Lee Rosen at Divorce Discourse, concerning lawyers keeping their clients waiting, and by My Lord Will Geer at The Bankruptcy Tech, explaining How to Replace your Cell Phone with Skype.

My Lord Elie Mystal at Above the Law gets nostalgic about billing time. My Lord Stephen Fairley at The Rainmaker Blog, however, counsels against the old ways in Changing the Rules of the Game (Rules #5).

My Lord Jay Shepherd of The Client Revolution also discusses the issue of the billable-hour system in an excellent post A one-question test for your law firm. The question is: How much will this cost? As Lord Shepherd states: "If your lawyer can’t correctly answer it, then you’ve got the wrong lawyer". Quite.

The most moving post We have read all week comes from My Lord Eric Turkewitz at the New York Personal Injury Law Blog. He discusses the "biggest taboo" amongst lawyers: losing a case, recalling the case he would most like to re-try, a breast cancer case from 17 years ago: "There was no problem with the evidence. No problem with the experts. A cross-exam of the defendant that, if I were doing it again, I wouldn't change at all. And if I wanted to somehow stop my voice from catching and cracking during summation, I wouldn't be able to if I tried." Strong stuff - if you follow no other link from this review, follow this one.

Lastly, and perhaps this should be in the next section, My Lord Kevin Underhill at Lowering the Bar writes of a Lawyer Charged With Billing During Sex. We have ourselves crossed swords with the lawyer in question, and so perhaps the less said about this (allegedly) sordid story the better.

VIII. On Our Amusement

We are most grateful to My Lord Marc Randazza at The Legal Satyricon for posting a video that caused Us great amusement. It is filed, quite rightly, under 'culture'. More, shall we say, unusual goings on in a shop were reported this week by My Lord John Mesirow at Legal Juice, upon which We shall make no comment...

My Lord BabyBarista continues to tell it as it is at the English Bar in his post Year 3, week 37: slap versus tickle. We look forward to the publication of his book BabyBarista and the Art of War, although We are not so sure that the Bar Council will be so keen.

Lastly, it is Our duty to report that My Lord Charon QC has re-appeared on the RollOnFriday discussion board, under the guise of Brigadier Grappa. We were particularly amused by this post, describing a visit he had from two members of Britain's security front line defences. Excellent stuff.

IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that all blawgers shall be free, and that men (and women) in Our blawgosphere shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of Us and Our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.

Both We and the blawgers have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the above-mentioned people and many others (who time and space have prevented One from mentioning).

Given by Our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the fourth year of our reign.