Americans for Legal Reform/Spiegel Online über US-Gerichtsfall

Spiegel Online reports (January 13th):

bq. Ein Witz hat zwei Männern im US-Bundesstaat New York eine Anzeige eingebracht. Die beiden hatten sich vor einem Gerichtsgebäude über Anwälte lustig gemacht – sehr zum Unmut eines mithörenden Juristen.

bq. Two men in New York State have been reported to the police for telling a joke. They were telling lawyer jokes outside a courthouse, much to the disgust of a listening lawyer.

Harvey Kash and Carl Lanzisera, the founders of Americans for Legal Reform, are said to be defendants in a lawsuit beginning in February. Outside the Long Island court office, Kash asked Lanzisera, ‘How do you know a lawyer is lying?’, and Lanzisera answered, ‘His lips move’. A lawyer in the queue asked them to stop talking, but they continued and he reported them.

It looks as if Spiegel Online, which gives no references or links, has got its facts wrong again. Americans for Legal Reform have a huge van and loudspeaker for telling lawyer jokes outside courthouses and have got into trouble for this before now. The following article appeared in June 2002:

bq. Americans for Legal Reform, in Huntington Station, is among the court’s most visible detractors. The group’s truck, with its 12-foot- high billboard that reads “Stop the Lawyer Disease” is occasionally spotted in the parking lots of Long Island courts.

bq. Some critics call them loudmouths. Members use a bullhorn to spread their accusations against barristers and judges alike with an arsenal of lawyer jokes. One favorite: “What do you say to a lawyer with an IQ of 50? Good morning, Your Honor.”

bq. “The idea is to get under their skin,” said Harvey Kash, a member of the 12-year-old group. “At our meetings we have wall-to-wall people now. There are so many people who have been wounded by the system.”

bq. Americans for Legal Reform has volunteer court watchers, maintains a database that members use to refer people to or steer them away from attorneys, coaches people on filing grievances against attorneys or judges and helps people develop a strategy for dealing with the court and their attorneys.

(Via Jurablogs Blog)


It seems that Spiegel Online did take the report straight from a US source, an AP report:

bq. Men at courthouse cited for disorderly conduct
HEMPSTEAD, New York (AP) — Did you hear the one about the two guys arrested for telling lawyer jokes?
It happened this week to the founders of a group called Americans for Legal Reform, who were waiting in line to get into a Long Island courthouse.
“How do you tell when a lawyer is lying?” Harvey Kash reportedly asked Carl Lanzisera.
“His lips are moving,” they said in unison.
While some waiting to get into the courthouse giggled, a lawyer farther up the line Monday was not laughing.
He told them to pipe down, and when they did not, the lawyer reported the pair to court personnel, who charged them with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.
“They just can’t take it,” Kash said of lawyers in general. “This violates our First Amendment rights.”
Dan Bagnuola, a spokesman for the Nassau County courts, said the men were “being abusive and they were causing a disturbance.”
He said he did not have the name of the lawyer who complained.
Americans for Legal Reform monitors the courts and uses confrontational tactics to push for greater access for the public.

bq. The pair said that for years they have stood outside courthouses on Long Island and mocked lawyers.
On Monday, however, Kash said he was due in court to answer a drunken driving charge from a year and a half ago. The men are due back in court on the disorderly conduct charge next month.

Well, disorderly conduct is not a very serious offence and it still has more to do with how loud they were talking and whether they were trying to or likely to annoy the rest of those present. (Thanks to the IAFL list for the APA version)

3 thoughts on “Americans for Legal Reform/Spiegel Online über US-Gerichtsfall

  1. Haben Sie meine Fortführung gesehen? Es gibt tatsächlich eine AP-Meldung, bei steht nichts mehr. Allerdings unterschlägt Spiegel Online das Ende und die Vorgeschichte, und diese Ruhestörung kann auch störend gewesen sein. Man wird wohl weitere Berichte oder die Verhandlung abwarten müssen! (Bonn Blawg scheint zu meinen, dass sie gleich verhaftet wurden)

  2. Margaret,
    I have listened to Mr. Lanzicera phone-interviewed this morning on Fox news channel (public, not cable broadcast), and he told a few more lawyer jokes, for a bigger (and no doubt simpathetic) audience.
    Some of them were quite old; which, in my eyes, is a crime he and his buddy should’ve been arrested for. When asked what, in his opinion, irked the complaining lawyer so much, he said: Some people are very angry with themselves for not having sense of humor.

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