Joe Patrice: Hey, everybody.
Kathryn Rubino: Hey.
Chris Williams: Hello.
Joe Patrice: Awesome. This is Thinking Like a Lawyer. I’m Joe Patrice from Above the Law. I’m joined by Kathryn Rubino and Chris Williams, and we’re here to talk about the legal week that was, you know, in legal news.
Kathryn Rubino: Yes, that is what we’re doing.
Joe Patrice: Great. You’re such a giving, improv partner.
Kathryn Rubino: I’m helping. That’s what I’m here for.
Joe Patrice: You know what that sound means?
Kathryn Rubino: Small talk.
Joe Patrice: We’re going to have some small talk here.
Kathryn Rubino: I feel like everyone had a busy week. That have fun, small talk implications. So, Chris, do you want to start off with your highlights?
Chris Williams: Oh, yes. I had a bunch of friends over, and we painted my house. It’s always cool to see how different a coat of paint makes a house feel.
Kathryn Rubino: Sure.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. You sure that’s, like, the thing that your small talk is?
Chris Williams: Well, that’s the non-work-related thing about my life.
Joe Patrice: Okay. All right.
Chris Williams: Work-related, which is at least medium talk in my book. I interviewed a judge for the Federal Court of Appeals in Pauline Newman, and she’s 96 and walks faster than I do. It blew my mind. I have been of the mind to tell her to hold up as she would show me around to judges. But, yeah, I’ve written several articles chronicling what I feel like would be an age discrimination case if this was happening outside of the —
Joe Patrice: In the real world, yeah.
Chris Williams: — in a normal situation. Yeah, but constitution blah, blah, blah. Yeah, it was really cool.
Joe Patrice: No, awesome. No, that’s great. Yeah. No, what’s going on with her is really kind of awful. The rest of the Federal Circuit has just decided that they don’t want her to be a judge anymore, and despite the fact that that’s not how the constitution works, they seem to be just getting away with it. So really problematic stuff. It’s great that you’ve been covering it, and it’s great that you got a chance to chat.
Chris Williams: Odd thing is, talking to her, it just got worse. Right? Because one of the accusations was that she fainted on the job. But then her assistant was like, listen, this is a federal court. Like, you know how much paperwork would have to happen if a judge actually fainted? And I was like, that’s a good point. And then there was a point where —
Kathryn Rubino: But also, fainting is not that terrible of something to happen to you. Like, my sister faints frequently. I mean, maybe that’s not a great thing either, but I wouldn’t be like, “oh, you can’t do your job anymore.”
Chris Williams: Yeah, true. But there’s also, like, the like, this is a high security environment angle of it where protocols that would have followed if these were actual events that were happening to her didn’t fall in play. Or another thing was, like, she was accused of having a heart attack and having stents in her heart. The doctor exam showed that wasn’t the case. And I’m like, these accusations, were they made under oath? Were these signed off? Because if these are demonstrably false, shouldn’t the person making these accusations get in some sort of trouble? I was just thinking about the co-worker angle, but I didn’t even think about the legal consequences of potentially lying on the oath angle, which is a big one.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, no, that’s great stuff. So I was at Relativity Fest learning about e-Discovery stuff.
Kathryn Rubino: At this point, do you really feel like you’re learning about e-Discovery stuff? Because I feel like —
Joe Patrice: It’s a good question.
Kathryn Rubino: I feel like you’re maybe getting updates, you’re not learning.
Joe Patrice: I mean, it is obviously update centric. That is very fair. But I did feel I learned some stuff. I didn’t really think through, just kind of philosophically. I think about legal technology always as something that meets lawyers where they are and tries to make their jobs easier.
Chris Williams: Were you reading Heidegger?
Joe Patrice: Well, no, but one thing I thought was, as I was listening to their new updates, is that they’ve moved into a new space, which, at least with some of their products, are not meeting lawyers and making what lawyers currently do better. They are affirmatively creating products that allow lawyers to do stuff they never would have done before. They have products that are working on data breach stuff that basically can turn a run of the mill litigator into a data breach specialist. That’s a whole new book of business. And it’s something that can only happen because of the way they’re kind of orienting their product development. So I thought it was really interesting on that front. I was on a couple of panels, some CLE panels, if anybody wants to catch some very good 90s humor.
I was on one where we talked about cameras in the courtroom and there’s some choice John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt commentary on that.
Kathryn Rubino: Well, then you are selling it.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. So if you need CLE ethics credit and are interested in hearing a well-delivered joke or two, that might be your answer.
Chris Williams: Who delivered the joke?
Joe Patrice: Obviously. Come on. So, anyway, so that was mine. You have anything going on, Kathryn, or no?
Kathryn Rubino: I mean —
Joe Patrice: Cool story.
Kathryn Rubino: Fair. That’s fair. My baby is teething, so that took most of my life is trying to get a small human to not scream.
Joe Patrice: That’s fair.
Kathryn Rubino: She doesn’t cry. She screams, like, piercing. It hurts my heart because she’s obviously in pain and there’s only so much Tylenol I’m allowed to give her.
Joe Patrice: Right. Well, all right. What are we talking about today?
Kathryn Rubino: Oh, you’re not on top of it this week, huh?
Joe Patrice: Well, I mean, I can be. It’s just you sent out the scheduling memo, which was–
Kathryn Rubino: Well, because you seemed tired. You did not log in to work as quickly as you normally do.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, I mean, I’m pretty white —
Kathryn Rubino: Which all done on Monday, Relativity Fest. Yeah, well, this week is the trial, the civil fraud trial in New York for Donald Trump, his children, and the Trump Organization.
Joe Patrice: Okay.
Kathryn Rubino: So it is both a looking back story, as in everything that happened last week in the case, and also what’s about to happen, which I think is kind of a fun place for the story to be. But again, it’s a civil trial. And one of the more fun things is that partial summary judgment reared its ugly head, you know, great head, depending on your perspective. But the judge in the case decided that the Trump did commit fraud. So they overstated the value of certain assets. I mean, in wildly egregious ways, too. Like changing the amount of square footage of his apartment, like it’s not bigger on the inside. It’s not the TARDIS. There’s only so big. It is. We know how big it is. There are floor plans that exist.
I think that our columnist Liz Dyer, who wrote about it, said that all of his financial statements as he was attempting to get loans throughout the years were mostly vibes. Vibes and a kind of a combination of that and what they thought the bankers wanted to hear. That’s kind of what was on those forms, you know, that’s not really how you’re meant to do business. So that was a bit of a problem.
Joe Patrice: Well, the one that got me from that opinion was there’s a footnote where in response to all of this, Trump seems to assert that Mar-a-Lago is worth way more than anyone thinks it is. And his justification for that was that he could definitely convince some Saudi folks to buy it, which the judge puts in a footnote, kind of like bizarrely, he seems to be admitting to bribery here.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. Influence peddling, not so much savvy investing. I think the judge puts it. Yeah, and it’s wild because he complains and on social media, the Trump boys are complaining about, oh, this judge is so dumb. He says that Mar-a-Lago is worth only $18 million. And it’s like, well, it’s because that’s what you fought the tax assessors who attempted to levy taxes on Mar-a-Lago, and it was, I think, between 18 and 27 million is what the tax assessment eventually settled on. And those are very different numbers than the, I think, $500 million that he put on loan documents.
Joe Patrice: Right. And that’s the thing.
Kathryn Rubino: And he fought it. They assessed his tax liability for higher and he fought it and they came to the 18 to 27 million as a tax liability.
Joe Patrice: Right. And that’s the issue. It’s a multiple books thing when it comes to taxes, everything’s worth nothing, when it comes to securing loans or insurance and all. It’s all worth tons.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. And I think that because the sort of facts do not help the Trumps. I think it has put the lawyers in a really interesting position. We had some stories about this last week. The judge sort of betraying his frustration because the lawyers in the case keep on making the same bad arguments over and over. One of their sort of go-to arguments they had made multiple times in the case was that the attorney general was not able to bring the case despite the fact that the regulation basically being written for the state attorney general to bring these sorts of cases. But not only did the judge previously rule on that question of standing appellate courts had weighed in, and then they kept on bringing it.
Joe Patrice: Right.
Kathryn Rubino: This this is this is how we get sanctions, my friends. This is it. You want to know how? This is how.
Joe Patrice: It might be time to turn over that defense to Chat GPT. I’m thinking it can’t get too much worse.
Chris Williams: Well, the thing about Chat GPT is, since it just makes up cases, it may actually find some good case law that could help them.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Chris Williams: It’s also their only change.
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Joe Patrice: Okay, so what else is going on?
Kathryn Rubino: There’s a bit of a debate that you covered on social media about the right way to law school.
Joe Patrice: Yes, yes, yes. This comes up every few years. We have some kind of a social media blow up over whether or not cold calling is a worthwhile endeavor. For those not familiar with the law school universe, a time honored way of running law school classes is to arbitrarily pick one person to be in charge for the day, basically, and you then grill and humiliate them with their inability to have mastered the readings.
Kathryn Rubino: Well, that’s also some professors let you know that you’re on call. Other professors are just like, well, it could be anybody at any time. Be ready for the humiliation.
Joe Patrice: Exactly. And that’s the issue. I had classes that did both, and you survive. But I did feel that ones where you knew you were on call were better classes. You didn’t have the situation. Like, Elie Mystal, our former co-host here, always would tell the story of being called on for a case that he was not prepared for. And then Professor Kagan told him that we’ll just wait while you read it. Just, like, had a silent class while he had to read the like and that sort of thing.
Chris Williams: Like Kagan? Kagan?
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah.
Joe Patrice: So that’s a little much.
Kathryn Rubino: It is a great story now that she’s super famous.
Joe Patrice: Right.
Kathryn Rubino: Horrifying to have to live through, I imagine.
Joe Patrice: I’m sure. Yeah. So a Chicago lecturer also the person behind all of the college admissions cases to make college admissions safe for white people again or whatever. He saw that at Yale there were classes where people were like, I’m not on call today, and so on he decided to make a point about this on social media and then everybody got all up in a storm about whether or not. This was a productive way of doing law school. Like, is it really something we need to keep doing just because it’s what mean professors did to us back in the day. Well, this is about being prepared. This is what the courts won’t let you just blow off a question. It’s like, yeah, but you don’t show up at court.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, you know when you’re in court.
Joe Patrice: You know you’re going to court.
Kathryn Rubino: It’s not like they knock on your door. It’s not like a morning raid. Knock, knock, knock, knock. What did your client say on the 3rd July?
Joe Patrice: Right. Yeah, you absolutely are prepared if you ever are going to be in that situation.
Kathryn Rubino: And I think that this in my mind bears a lot of similarity to another hobby horse of yours, Joe, which is the bar exam. But I think that a lot of the legal profession really enjoys the “I had to do it, therefore you have to do it.” It’s like, I did it. It was awful. Now it’s your turn. And it’s kind of this weird handing of a baton. If you want to be successful in this profession, you need these stories. It’s this way of bonding. How better to sort of ingratiate yourself in stupid cocktail parties but to tell your story, being embarrassed in cold call or your bar exam horror story or whatever it is. I think that there’s this weird kind of bonding. It’s kind of trauma bonding, but for the legal profession and they put entirely too much focus on that.
Joe Patrice: Yes.
Chris Williams: I might have been the anomaly here, but I never really felt like cold calling was that bad. Not that I haven’t seen bad cold calls. It’s just that whenever I’ve seen bad cold calls, I felt like the students handled them poorly.
Like, for example, if I was in a situation where before Supreme Court Judge Kagan says, I guess we’ll just wait for you to read the page, I’d be like, oh, thanks. And I would just read.
Joe Patrice: I mean, that is what ended up having to happen.
Chris Williams: Yeah. It’s one of those things where it’s like I feel like, I don’t think it’s a good practice. There are better ways to teach that aren’t as requiring of like I’m so high and mighty. That’s generally not a good way to teach somebody something. It’s like instructing through shame. Who needs that? But if there’s any students listening, you’ll be fine. It’s okay to say you don’t know. It’s okay to ask a professor to move on to the next person. And if they don’t, they’re the one that looks like a dick. Right?
Kathryn Rubino: And the good news is most law school grading is blind. The fact that you did this, they don’t know that when they’re grading your test.
Chris Williams: Right. It never comes back to bite you. The only way it comes back to bite you is if you make it, if you stress under it. I remember there was one time I think I was in contract, I got cold call. I said, I didn’t do the reading today. Could you move on to the next person? The guy looked at me as if he was staring at my soul. I didn’t care. He moved to the next person. Then somebody else was like, oh, my God, I can’t believe you passed on that question. I’m like, yeah, we’re in class. We’re not expected to know everything. The expectation that we know everything is a false one.
Joe Patrice: Well, and that’s an excellent point, too, because law students are generally a pretty sharp crowd of people. They’ve gotten to this point in their lives where they’re in a law school because they’ve thrived at school for several years, and your high school classes are not cold calling on you in this sort of way. It’s clear that they’ve developed an ability to thrive in an academic setting without it. So why is it once we get to law school, we’re supposed to believe that this is the only way to teach material? Really annoying.
Kathryn Rubino: Because now you get to be a lawyer. You get to put an esquire after your name, and that means you’ve been tortured in a very specific way.
Joe Patrice: Not for nothing, not everyone’s a litigator. In fact, most people aren’t.
Kathryn Rubino: Is that true? Most people aren’t litigators?
Joe Patrice: I would believe so. I guess I’ve never really crunched the numbers on that.
Kathryn Rubino: Completely off topic. Sorry. I just said that, and I was like, is that even true?
Joe Patrice: Yeah. So if you’re going to be a tax lawyer, what do you care about any of this?
Kathryn Rubino: You’re going to have plenty of time to do the research if you’re a tax lawyer.
Joe Patrice: It’s just so ridiculous that we teach this way. Anyway. And then we’ll just reset the clock for two or three years from now. When somebody else complains about it, we have this whole thing happening.
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Joe Patrice: Okay, so we’re talking road rage.
Kathryn Rubino: We are. I think Chris had a story about a judge who had an interesting take on the road.
Chris Williams: Yeah. So it was Oklahoma. Got to love it. Judge Brian Lovell. Not exactly sure how to say his name, but he got caught in what was an interesting scenario, what had memory at play. So he got in a road rage incident, ended up shooting his gun off in public. Luckily didn’t hit anybody. Shot to like a couple of car doors. Oh, he didn’t hit anybody with a bullet. He then double rear ended somebody’s, same person twice, almost pushed them into an intersection. And the only thing he admits to remembering is that he got road ragey. Everything else he’s like was a blur. I’m not really sure what happened, but the thing is, when you’re rear ending somebody and then pressing the gas to then push them in the intersection, that’s probably intentional. You probably remember doing at least some of that. So the only really defense that he had was like, there are people giving characters has been saying how good of a person he was and how not stuck up he is. But if that’s what you’re doing, you need to stick up a little bit, be more formal. It’s traditional.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. Being casual is a benefit, but not when it comes to shooting up the place.
Joe Patrice: Right. Wow.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. And there was another road rage story we talked about last week too. This one was. Biglaw attorney.
It’s weird. It’s a Florida story. So Florida, man, all the way up. It is very Florida in every sense of the word, and it’s just kind of a wild situation where it was on a bridge in Tampa. Car stops, blocking traffic. Several lanes of traffic appear to slump over the steering wheel. Some passerby’s, helpful couple, kind of Good Samaritans, stop their car to go see what’s wrong, see if there’s something wrong. Can’t get into the car, try to get into the car, try to break the window. All of a sudden, the driver wakes up, jams on the gas, slams into the Good Samaritan’s car, backs up, goes in reverse, slams into our Biglaw attorney Patrick Scruggs, his car. And then our Biglaw attorney gets out of the car, according to the accounts that we have, according to the police reports, and stabs him with a pocket knife. The original driver that had slumped over, according to his lawyers.
There’s more details than we know that are out there, but it already feels like an incredibly wild set of circumstances. Like a pocket knife is a great word. The stabbing victim is expected to make a full recovery. You can make more jokes when you know that that part is right.
Joe Patrice: Right. That certainly helps.
Kathryn Rubino: But a Florida bridge, a pocket knife, an attorney, there are so many scenarios that this can go. I’m dying to know what these other factors in play are that the attorney is alluding to, but it is very entertaining. But he’s been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, and armed burglary. I’m not sure about that. He busted into the window to get to the driver to stab him, so I’m assuming it’s something related to that. But wow.
Chris Williams: It sounds like a walked into a bar punchline. Like a big law attorney with a pocket knife. Road rage walked into it.
Kathryn Rubino: I mean, we are joking about it, and maybe we shouldn’t be. Road rage is serious. People shouldn’t do that. It’s terrible. It’s awful. It’s awful that when something bad happens on the road, I’m more scared that I’m going to get shot than I am angry about whatever thing that some driver shouldn’t have done on the road. And that is a terrible statement about where we are as a society. But also, he’s on a Tallahatchie bridge with a pocket knife. This is just funny.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, there’s some Southern gothic sound to that. Okay. I don’t even know where to go with that.
Kathryn Rubino: Well, I will say that Mr. Scruggs is no longer employed at his firm, Barnes & Thornburg after this result, this incident. That was our road rage. You have a road rage?
Joe Patrice: I do not have a road rage. No.
Kathryn Rubino: It seems very certain.
Chris Williams: You don’t have, like, a honking sound on the soundboard at least?
Joe Patrice: You know, I looked for one. I did look, and we don’t but the closest we have is — that’s the closest we’ve got.
Kathryn Rubino: That is distinctly clown.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Kathryn Rubino: That is not a car.
Joe Patrice: I’m aware. That’s why I didn’t pull it out earlier. But you all decided to make it a big deal, so.
Kathryn Rubino: We’re trying here. Help us, help you, do better, Joe. If you’re going to be the soundboard guy, be the soundboard guy. Or don’t be the soundboard guy. I’d prefer the latter, but I think I’m losing that battle.
Chris Williams: Listen, I could take over. I probably won’t.
Kathryn Rubino: We don’t need competing soundboards, for sure.
Chris Williams: Yeah. Listen, not only would I be better, I’d also be better.
Joe Patrice: All right, so that’s everything, basically, that we have on deck for this week. So thanks for everybody for listening. You should subscribe to the show, get new episodes when they come out. You should leave reviews, stars, write things. It helps everybody else find the show. You should be listening to The Jabot Kathryn’s other podcast. I’m a guest, usually on the Legaltech Week Journalist Round Table. You can also hear a number of shows that we aren’t on, on the Legal Talk Network. You should be checking out Above the Law, as always, so you can read these and other stories before we talk about them here. On the social medias, I’m Joseph Patrice. She’s Kathryn1. Chris’s Writes for Rent, all on the Twitter. The blog is at ATL blog. I’m Joe Patrice of Blue Sky. Kathryn’s also Kathryn1 there. So that’s that.
Kathryn Rubino: Peace.
Joe Patrice: All right, bye.
Chris Williams: See you.