LSJ - June 2014

LEGAL FUNNIES

A STICKLER FOR THE LAW SO IT TURNS OUT ATTICUS FINCH WAS A PRETTY LOUSY LAWYER. That’s if you believe self-proclaimed “lapsed lawyer” and comedian Julian Morrow (who also happens to be a former Journal contributor). Morrow entertained a theatre packed with lawyers last month at the inaugural Stickler session in which film bu•s and eggheads tear apart cinematic attempts at expertise. The Hon Keith Mason AC QC, former president of the NSW Court of Appeal, and Santo Cilauro (both pictured), maker of cult Aussie film The Castle , helped Morrow and a panel of film critics scrutinise several iconic legal films for their accuracy. witless EXPERT

BECAUSE IF WE CAN’T LAUGH AT OURSELVES …

BEWARE: ZOMBIE INVASION IMMINENT LAWYERS KNOW THAT NO MATTER HOW CAREFULLY YOU DRAFT A CONTRACT, NO MATTER WHAT POTENTIAL FUTURE PROBLEMS YOU TRY TO ANTICIPATE, THERE ARE ALWAYS ‘ACTS OF GOD’ THAT CAN RANDOMLY THUNDER IN TO DERAIL YOUR BEST LAID PLANS. But is the legal profession going to let God or Mother Nature screw over our clients’ business? Of course not! Enter the force majeure clause: a lovely piece of catch-all boilerplate that’s also become prime battleground for sales versus legal team shenanigans inside one of the largest companies in the world. As reported by Roll on Friday , an inside source revealed sales teams have been running a book to see who can get the most outrageous things into the fine print of multi-million dollar deals. A recent deal included “invasion of zombies (including but not limited to and irrespective of their sexual orientation)” as one of several specified force majeure events. Another £400 million deal is to be protected by an alien invasion clause. Better to be safe than sorry ... PROMISE TO PLAY NICE DEPENDING ON WHO YOU TALK TO, CALIFORNIA IS EITHER LEADING THE WAY ON CERTAIN ISSUES OR DRIVING THE COUNTRY FURTHER INTO THE ABYSS. While Expert Witless pleads the fifth when it comes to political views, we are happy to reveal we are pro-swearing. So a recent news item in the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog caught our eye: Californian attorneys are being asked to swear more than before. Okay, it’s their oath to practise law in the state, but still … From 23 May, new lawyers will pledge to support the state and federal Constitutions, and swear to “try to conduct themselves at all times ‘with dignity, courtesy, and integrity’”. In other words, you shouldn’t be mean to your legal colleagues. The fish hook for the politeness police at the State Bar and the American Board of Trial advocates, however, is that the new pledge, although compulsory, is only aspirational and not enforceable by disciplinary procedures. Guess new lawyers are just being asked – pretty, pretty please – to play nice. AN EXPENSIVE GARNISH WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE, SLAVING AWAY IN THE OFFICE, CLOCK WATCHING AND HANGING OUT FOR LUNCH SO WE CAN REVITALISE. But a 29-year-old man recently took the idea of a pick-me-up sandwich to a whole new level. Orange.co.uk reports that Spanish police arrested a Columbian national after his lunchtime ham and cheese was found to be garnished with nine plastic-wrapped cylinders packed with more than 100 grams of cocaine. Spicy! The police even tweeted a photo of said sandwich and searched the man’s home where they discovered “more than a kilo of cocaine powder and pieces, as well as marijuana and tools to handles drugs”. The man and a 20-year-old compatriot, reportedly housemates, were arrested on suspicion of drug traŒcking and now face hefty prison sentences. Makes Subway’s $2 for guacamole seem like a pretty cheap add-on after all. LSJ

As it happens, Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird erroneously failed to request a change in trial location once he had established that Tom Robinson wouldn’t get a fair trial due to his race. The claim was met with a collective gasp of horror from the crowd, especially those who had named their firstborn after him. This was followed by a general murmur of agreement at the claim that pretty much nothing in Double Jeopardy has a legal leg to stand on. And Legally Blonde ? Well, we all know it’s the best law movie ever made, with nary an inaccuracy to be seen... So what about The Castle? Aside from the fact that in the High Court scenes the judges are dressed in red (instead of black), are wearing wigs (which hasn’t happened for yonks) and the back wall is a collage of carefully constructed butcher’s paper, it was agreed that the “it’s the Constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the vibe” quote has well and truly become a part of Australia’s legal landscape, with Mason even admitting to having referred to “the vibe” in one of his judgments. That should go straight to the pool room …

98 LSJ I JUNE 2014

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