Friday, April 13, 2012

Late Wednesday "What the Hell" Post

Have you ever spent seven hours in a deposition, slowly realizing that you have a sinus infection coming on? I did today. I felt like I had a tiny baby growing in my forehead that was ready to bust out by the end of the depo.

So I thought I'd take a break from legal work to put up a post here to let you know that there's only two days left in the week and not much is going on in the legal world that I've seen. However, our Friday Open Thread once again proved to be the best source of information for local legal news, notifying us of a gem of an Order issued by Judge Markell. I realize that this is old news, already hitting Above the Law, but I want to preserve this for my all future generations of young lawyers who get in over their head at a new law firm. Apparently Judge Markell has a soft spot in his heart for Barry Levinson and Levinson's former associate, Jeremy Mondejar.

According to the Order, Jeremy Mondejar showed up for a Show Cause hearing late and unprepared, which resulted in "the lowest moment in attorney representation the court has ever witnessed." Wow. I wouldn't want to put that on my resume.

There's been some half-hearted defenders of Mondejar in the comments of the Open Thread, some speculating that Mondejar was set up for failure by Levinson. The other side of the coin is that Mondejar should always be prepared for a hearing, no matter what the circumstances may be. And according to the Order, this isn't the first time Mondejar has shown up unprepared.

I feel bad for the guy, personally. I can't say that I've ever had a judge issue a scathing Order about my legal capabilities, but there have been times where I've had to cover a hearing on short notice and floundered a bit. Unless Mondejar himself decides to weigh in, we'll never know what lead to this sad situation. Anybody who hasn't weighed in so far, read the Order below and feel free to let us know which team you're on: Team Markell, Team Mondejar, or Team Jacob!

-JD

16 comments:

  1. Let this be a lesson to all (whether new or old). The Court has no time for nonsense. When you're assigned to be in front of someone, you need to be on time and prepared. That's it. Easy. Nothing else matters. Once you lose your name (and unfortunately, both the law firm and the Associate did) you're toast. At the end of the day, that's all you really have.

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  2. This order does more against the former associate than it does for Levinson. Law firms may search an attorney before looking to hire one, but the general public will go to the firm that they see last on a billboard or advertisement. Unless and until the news puts this out after each Barry Levinson commercial, the public won't know about it and will keep hiring him, just like they do Goldberg after he was ripped by Markell.

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  3. If the facts are accurate, which they likely are, my heart goes out for Mandahar as Levinson should have appeared (he probably didn't even know about the hearing). But you should never ever go into such a hearing as ill prepared as he did.

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  4. What a waste of judicial resources. Can you imagine how long it took to write that order? I can think of a number of ways that Markell could have achieved the same practical result (or something probably just as effective), without wasting so much time and effort on this opinion. My guess is that this opinion was written 1/2 to actually punish these guys and 1/2 for publicity

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  5. 8:44 makes an excellent point. We've all covered simple hearings and perhaps not looked our best. But this associate should have known better.

    And 9:23, I agree. I don't Markell, but he clearly spent time on his order, choosing words carefully, etc. Certainly there are other attorneys that piss him off, and other matters that truly need his attention. I think this order reflects poorly on the Judge, and in turn, the Judiciary.

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  6. When I was a law clerk for a federal judge eons ago, he often told me that part of being a wise judicial officer is that while a judge should be firm with attorneys who are wholly unprepared or otherwise are being unprofessional, simply because a judge has the power to bring down holy hell on a lawyer does not mean that a judge should do so. It appears Markell's wrath at unprepared and incompetent laywers who have flooded BK court as a result of the economic crisis came to a boiling point and he directed his wrath at Mondejar. It does not excuse Mondejar's poor performance, but Markell's wrath should have been directed at the flood of unprepared and incompetent attorneys that appear before him every day.

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  7. Well what do you do when you need a job and your boss tells you cover a hearing? I feel for this associate who was probably just following orders.

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  8. @12:43:

    You review the documents relating to the hearing. If it's an OSC, you read the OSC and get prepared to answer it. If you don't know the answer, you find out. If the answer isn't in the file, you talk to the supervising attorney. If it's a motion hearing, whether you personally filed the Motion/Opposition or not, you put on your big-boy pants and represent your client.

    You don't walk in 15 minutes late and hope to bumble through it.

    It's like any other task on any other file. If you don't know what to do, use your law degree for something other than keeping your wall up and find out.

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  9. He was late because he lost to Levinson in the best of 1000 Roshambo match to determine which of them had to go to Court and face Markell and the music.

    I place the blame 80% on Levinson, 20% on the associate.

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  10. I say good for Mondejar for leaving Levinson so quickly for another firm. If he had waited until this Order came out it would probably be much more difficult to find a job.

    I think Markell took it a bit too far with this Order. Many attorneys in Las Vegas do much worse than Mondejar and all they get is a private reprimand from the bar. This kid gets national attention because Markell drafted an Order that he knew would get spread around.

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  11. I think the answer to that is not that Mondejar shouldn't have been reprimanded, but all those attorneys who "do much worse" should be publicly shamed rather than privately reprimanded. I'm glad Markell is calling somebody out on the crap that passes for legal practice in this town. I only wish it happened more often and other judges would join in.

    (although I do feel sorry for Mondejar, who was probably in completely over his head, and agree that Levinson deserves most of the blame)

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  12. Levinson is a total turd and has been since Day 1. How he has lasted this long is either a miracle or a seriously negative reflection on the State Bar. How are the Ponzi Scheme trust fund allegations coming along? Better late than never.

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  13. Levinson probably ordered him to go to the hearing 5 minutes before the hearing time so I doubt there was even any opportunity for him to have attempted to prepare. His options may have been 1. do what he did; or 2. quit.

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  14. @6:55 It sounds like he took Option #1 first, and then took Option #2.

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  15. I think this is a case of the boss telling the employee to go to the hearing because he didn't want to take the ass chewing.

    I was once ordered by the partner, with the initials Connie Ackridge, to file a motion against the opposing counsel that I thought was not called for. The master chewed my ass out in front of the out of state attorney we were working with who wanted the case conducted by AZ rules. I was made to look like the idiot when I was just an underling doing what he was told after being overruled by the all-knowing parter.

    Therefore, I blame Levenson.

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  16. Levinson is NOTORIOUS, especially these days for refusing to attend court, 341 mtgs, anything, I know a guy that covered a number of 341 mtgs, on the come, and got stiffed by Levinson. I heard he had to pay back nearly $100k to trustee Leonard as a result of a hearing yesterday. Again, got some poor schmuck to attend when another attorney asked too many questions.

    Levinson is getting disbarred. I'm betting on it. However, hundreds of new clients will get duped while the Supremes get off their collective fat asses to get it done.

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