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Attorney E-Newsletter

June 2008

Greenspan Joins Supreme Court

Governor Rendell has nominated Judge Jane Cutler Greenspan to the seat on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania vacated by the retirement of former Chief Justice Ralph Cappy. Her nomination was confirmed by the Senate on June 30, 2008.

Judge Greenspan has served since 1989 on the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Prior to that she served many years in the office of the District Attorney of Philadelphia County, and was named chief of domestic violence cases and later of the appellate division by then-District Attorney Rendell.

Judge Greenspan will serve the one and a half year balance of the term.

Judges Caught in the Web

Much of the news about legal types getting in trouble this month seems to center not on lawyers, but on judges under scrutiny related to modern technology.

Much attention has been focused on the embarrassment of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who was found to have a cache of risqué images and files on his website, which he didn't realize was accessible to the public. The disclosure led to Kozinski declaring a mistrial in an obscenity case over which he had been presiding.

Although the incident is certainly an embarrassment to Judge Kozinski, he has defenders who have expressed concerns about the fact that the files were found and brought to the public eye by a lawyer with a long-running dispute with the court and Judge Kozinski.

Meanwhile, back in Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia Traffic Court judge also got into trouble because of the Internet. Willie Singletary is facing disciplinary charges filed by the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board after a video showing him soliciting campaign funds appeared on that icon of contemporary culture, YouTube. We were pretty sure this would be the case, but a search reveals that the term "YouTube" is not found in the Disciplinary Reporter.

You never know who is watching these days.

Nigerian Scam Followup

Our report on a variation of the Nigerian Scam attempted on lawyers sounded familiar to some of our subscribers.

Bruce Sattin of Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein, Blader & Lehmann, PC, writes,

"My firm was the target of another wrinkle on this scam. We received a fax and later e-mails and telephone calls from a man in Estonia (or so he said) by the name of Damien Duff (later research found this to be the name of a famous soccer player). He was looking for legitimate-sounding representation for his computer supply business in the U.S. He had a cashier's check drawn on a large U.S. bank sent to my firm from Canada, ostensibly payment of an invoice, from which we were to deduct our fees for creating a new LLC and wire the balance to a supplier in China. Sensing a possible fraud, we deposited the check for nearly $200,000, but did not wire any funds until we were certain the funds had cleared our trust account. It took TWO WEEKS for the bank to determine that the cashier's check was no good. Be warned. We only lost some otherwise billable time, but the results could have been much worse."

Attorney David Bullock reports a solicitation purporting to be from a company that was allegedly doing evaluations of retail businesses. One of the evaluations was to be of the efficiency of Western Union Quick Collect. The solicitation included a check for $3,600 which appeared to be valid -- copying it resulted in the "void" watermark showing up. The letterhead showed Trenton, NJ; based on the area codes, the phone number was in Canada, and the fax number was in Kansas. The recipient was asked to "test" the Western Union service by depositing the check in her account and then transmitting part of the funds via Western Union to the sender of the letter. Most likely the check would turn out to be fake.

Finally, an email being circulated among the California bar appears to be from the Chief Justice of the Supreme High Court of Nigeria, advising the recipient that the court was cracking down on scammers. The email states,

"A total sum of ($1.5million) united state dollars in cash has been Approved and set aside for your compensation by the government of Nigeria which will Be delivered to your door step by A UNITED NATIONS DIPLOMAT attaché in the president office."

We have actually been authorized by the presidency, Republic of Nigeria and the governing board of central bank of Nigeria to investigate the unnecessary delay Of your payment, Recommended and approve your claims for payment if certified genuine. During the course of our investigation, we discovered with dismay That you have been scammed, from the records of outstanding claims due for Payment submitted by the United Nations, your name is next on the list of the Standing bills to be settled, I wish to inform you that your payment valued $14.7 million US Dollars has been processed and will be delivered to you as soon as you respond to this letter.

Of course, to collect the $14.7 million that was scammed from them, recipients must provide confidential information and pay a "shipping fee" of $760. It is surprising to learn that for some reason the Chief Justice of the Supreme High Court of Nigeria has a Yahoo Italy email address.

Tip of the Month: Registration Statement

Annual registration statements and payment of annual assessments for all Pennsylvania attorneys are due July 1, which is approximately when this newsletter is going out. So, if you haven't sent yours in yet, a good time would be, say, yesterday.

The Errata Sonata

As a Presidential candidate recently remarked, occasionally we are human like everybody else. Our sharp-eyed readers are quick to let us know when.

Gotta Gotcha

One of our readers (sorry, can't find the email) takes issue with our [now former] practice of concluding letters with the query "Gotta tip?" He points out that that question may be one of restaurant etiquette, but what we are actually asking is "Got a Tip?" And so we do.

Gotta tip our hat on that one.

I'm ?Äô-K, You're ?Äô-K

And a LOT of readers let us know about the glitch that appeared in the first mailing of last month's newsletter, in which several punctuation marks appeared as strange character strings. Subscriber Elise Salisbury comments, "We all know that our profession is peppered with plenty of unusual characters, so really the first edition of the May Newsletter was well in keeping with the intended readership."

We quickly learned that the glitch was due to a "platform conflict" between the PCs used by our legal staff and the Macs used by the creative agency that formats the newsletter. Although it is the PC guy1 who never gets anything right in the commercials, it turns out that this time the error crept in on the Mac guy’s2 watch.

So now we know what happened and we are confident it won't happen again. Not that one, anyway.

So, if you, our eagle-eyed readers, should spot any errors, factual, legal, grammatical, or cybernetic, please let us know. We're strong, we can handle it. Usually.

Gotta Tip?

Or a comment, a question, a request, a suggestion? Let us know at comments@padisciplinaryboard.org.

1 The Editor even bears some physical resemblance to the clueless PC guy in the commercials.

2 The Editor's 25-year-old daughter was retained as an unpaid consultant to evaluate the appropriateness of adjectives to describe the Mac guy. She concluded he was neither "hot" nor "cool," just "differently dorky." Tough room, those Millennials.