13 May 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (319)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of infamously-incompetent lawyer Joseph Rakofsky and his enabler, Craigslist-trolling attorney Richard Borzouye, who filed yesterday what may be the least-tenable, most-comical civil suit not penned by Jonathan Lee Riches. Through Borzouye, Rakofsky has sued... well, everyone who's anyone in the legal blogosphere, with the Washington Post thrown in for good measure.

Recall that back in April, Rakofsky mishandled a criminal defense matter and was called on it by his client, his client's family, his co-counsel, his opponents, the court, the press, and finally a number of legal bloggers. All in all, it was a terrific dressing-down of a young lawyer who took on more than he was qualified to handle in a misguided effort to further his career. The filing of this defamation claim in New York makes what was already one of the more spectacular professional reputation flame-outs in recent memory that much more spectacular. Unless he arrives at the dismissal hearing wearing a Mexican wrestling mask and riding a unicorn, I honestly don't know how this can get any more bizarre.

As Scott Greenfield noted this morning, the attempt to join so many defendants from around the country and from our fifty-first state, Canada, is doomed already; New York's Long-Arm Jurisdiction statute doesn't apply to defamation actions like this one. Notwithstanding, for those defendants based in New York, including Greenfield and the Above the Law site, disposing of this frivolous suit will prove no challenge.

Several bloggers have already commented on the matter (and many others did so more briefly yesterday on Twitter); take a moment to read these posts from Keith Lee, Jamison Koehler, Carolyn Elefant, and Nathaniel Burney, in addition to Greenfield's post linked above. I'll quote from the latter:
The complaint alleges that Rakofsky has suffered such sever[e] mental anguish that he will require psychological treatment for the rest of his life. That may well be true, given the insanity of his decision to take on the internet and his assumption that someone, everyone, will acquiesce to his demands. Maybe an elite Wall Street lawyer would have counseled his client differently, but not the ferocious Borzouye, who demands that the court "[p]ermanently restrain[] defendants from publishing the name, portrait or picture of plaintiff without her consent."

Astoundingly poor judgment has a way of compounding itself. A few years back, I might have offered Rakofsky a dime so that he could call him mother and let her know that his career as a lawyer has come to a crashing halt as result of his bad choices. Borzouye might have gotten a dime as well, now that his puffery comes to light as a result of his decision to be the ferocious lawyer championing Rakofsky's cause.

But I suspect they both have cell phones. They can make the calls on their own dime.

And yet the utility of Joseph Rakofsky as a role model for young lawyers continues. Don't let this happen to you. It won't end well. It never does. The internet is not a truth-free zone.

As for the case, it will be a minor annoyance like so many others that comprise an ordinary lawyer's day for the defendants. Whether other defendants will post about it is up to them. I see no reason to let a teaching opportunity pass, and the initiation of a frivolous action in a bizarre attempt to recapture lost reputation is hardly a reason for concern.

For the plaintiff, and perhaps his lawyer, this poor decision will likely compound his problems. Never underestimate a person's ability to dig the hole deeper.
Above the Law only recently named Rakofsky (after hundreds voted for him in a readers' poll) its Attorney of the Month for April. Today then, we can take some joy in Rakofsky's misfortune for that and thank him for becoming in the few days since the schadenfreude gift which keeps on giving. Here's to you, you magnificently-delusional young man! Or woman; the complaint refers to Rakofsky as both "him" and "her"... not that there's anything wrong with that.

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