November 25th, 2015

Count Your Blessings…

The first time I did a Thanksgiving Day message, it was in the form of a Blawg Review, recounting the time Arlo Guthrie came to dinner at my house for a dinner that couldn’t be beat. That was 2009.

In 2011 I wished one and all a Happy Thanksgiving as I celebrated my fifth year blogging. I decorated my blog that year with the photo you see here: me dressed up in a turkey suit for a local race. That message is below.

In 2013 I came back with this message to put away those little pocket computers, unless you wanted to use the phone function that some of them have to talk with those dear to you, but perhaps not so near.

I’m now past my ninth year as a blogger, and while I missed the race this year, it was for a good reason.  But I hope to put it on anyway Thanksgiving morning for a group run with some friends, just because I can.

The costume does not come with a trigger warning. So if I scare the bejesus out of someone, they will just have to deal with it.

Running around in a turkey suit sure beats one of the alternative lives I could be having: Living in the anarchy and horror of Syria. Or suffering with the recent terrorism in France. Or Lebanon. Or Israel. Or Nigeria/Cameroon. Or Yemen. Mali. Iraq. Libya. Egypt. Afghanistan. And I’m only scratching the surface here.

There are many different ways to count your blessings. This is the way I want to do it…my posting from 2011:


Now you can see that I have a couple pictures here of me in a turkey suit, shot Sunday at a local Turkey Trot. And you might be wondering what the heck that has to do with blogging, or lawyering, or five-year anniveraries. And, you also might wonder if I’m nuts to put them up here, out of concern that it diminishes the seriousness of what I do for clients in the courtroom. Or that it might be seen by a potential client who will quickly hightail it elsewhere.

Glad you asked.

I see my fair share of human misery come through the doors with busted up bodies that shouldn’t be busted up. Anyone that deals with the consumer end of law will see variations on this theme, from divorce, criminal charges, bankruptcy, etc. And seeing those things gives me (and should give everyone) a greater appreciation for what we have. I know, from seeing it happen to others, that a car could blast through an intersection and instantaneously change my life and those of my family forever. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you, because it sure happens to some people, who’s only fault might have been sitting patiently at a light. And it only takes a momentary lapse of attention on the part of a driver.

There is no limit to the number of ways that life could be quickly altered for the worse, and I’m not sitting in the middle of a war zone.

So I am thankful for each day that I get. And if I get the chance to dress up silly and run a 1-mile Gobbler race with a few hundred local kids, giving out gift certificates to a local cupcake shop for those that finish near my feathers, then yeah, I’m going to do it. And if I can have a few hundred adults in the 5K race chase the turkey, with a chance to win free entry into a little half marathon trail race I put together, well that is fun too. Community events are often like that. Fun. And it’s nice not just to participate, but to help create them.

In deciding to dress like a turkey for this event for the third year in a row — and with my name I’m the natural choice for this gig —  I’m also mindful of Benjamin Franklin’s view of this particular fowl, as he advocated for it to be our national bird instead of the bald eagle:

For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.

I decline the opportunity to put on the “serious lawyer face” 24/7. You might see the suit and tie shot on my website, but you won’t see it on my blog. Here I get to let my feathers down.

I write this blog the same way I go through life. I try to enjoy it, while at the same time taking what I do for a living very seriously. I think that’s reflected in the 1,000+ posts that I’ve done. And yes, this is the same reason that I have for running  the occasional April Fool’s gag.

This week is Thanksgiving. Look around you. Be thankful for what you have. And live each day to the fullest.

I hate to use Latin phrases in law, as it invariably sounds pretentious, but I’ll make an exception today. Carpe diem.

Now if someone could please cue up a copy of Alice’s Restaurant, I’d be most grateful. I hear Arlo may be coming to dinner….


November 20th, 2015

Appellate Court Exonerates Dr. Katz; Lays Down Law on Recording Medical-Legal Exams (Updated)

Michael J. Katz

Michael J. Katz

The Appellate Division (Second Department) this week exonerated Dr. Michael Katz for lying under oath in a personal injury case before Justice Duane Hart in April 2014. Justice Hart’s condemnation of Katz as a liar — “more than 60 times” by the count of the appellate court — was covered here extensively at the time. And it was covered yet again when Katz brought a frivolous defamation suit against me after reporting Justice Hart’s comments.

The court also leveled sanctions against plaintiff’s counsel, who had surreptitiously recorded a medical-legal exam that Katz had conducted on the plaintiff. That video ran five minutes in total length with the actual exam part lasting just one minute and fifty-six seconds. It was this video that led both to Justice Hart’s condemnation of Katz and the appellate court’s condemnation of plaintiff’s counsel.

This is the executive summary of the decision (Bemejo v. New York City Health & Hosps. Corp.):

  1. A lawyer cannot surreptitiously video a medical-legal exam, and must obtain court permission to do so.
  2. If an exam is recorded, the video must be exchanged in advance of trial.
  3. The court held that Katz did not lie (though I think the analysis was incomplete, as described below).
  4. The court will allow the defendants to hire a new physician to do medical-legal exams, despite the fact that he is physically available (i.e. not dead or in jail) because of the unusual circumstances here that has Dr. Katz refusing to set foot in the courtroom again for this case.
  5. If the trial lawyer attends the defense physical exam with the client, he risks becoming a witness to what happened and being disqualified.
  6. The plaintiff’s lawyer was directed to pay the costs of the first trial and appeal.
  7. Updated: The matter actually settled in March 2015, but the court rendered this decision anyway.

The decision is very long in the facts department because it’s so unusual. The short version is that Katz did a medical-legal exam for the defendants, and in his report claimed that plaintiff’s counsel interfered with it, writing that he was:

…a nasty and obstructive front toward getting a proper history. . . . [he] just became nastier as questions were asked…

So when a second exam came around, plaintiff’s counsel secretly recorded it to protect himself, and presumably to shred Dr. Katz if he lied about what happened.

The video was revealed at trial only when plaintiff’s counsel called his paralegal to the stand in rebuttal to Katz, to testify about the brevity of the exam, as she had been there as a Spanish-English interpreter. And then she revealed the existence of the video only on re-direct exam.  It’s revelation came as a complete surprise.

The issues of interest in this damages-only trial (with liability having been previously determined in favor of the plaintiff):

Surreptitious Exams: While the existing law was pretty thin on the subject previously — only appellate cases in the Third (Lamendola, Cooper) and Fourth (Flores) departments were cited as having addressed the subject —  it certainly isn’t thin anymore. The court was emphatic that while plaintiffs can have representatives attend the exams, which the court calls “independent” medical exams, they will need court approval in order to record them. The court cited approvingly prior case law that held:

a plaintiff will normally be entitled to have his or her attorney present at an IME, but that permission to employ the additional measure of videotaping the examination will be granted only where the plaintiff establishes the existence of special and unusual circumstances.

There is no law from the legislature on the subject of recording, one way or the other. The court used the logic that the Legislature could have authorized it, but didn’t, and that is its support for not allowing the video. And that is a particularly weak argument.

So let me say here that I think the court badly misjudged this issue as a matter of public policy. The defense medical exam is not independent, no matter how often the courts try to pretend it is. Even Chief Judge Jonathon Lippman is on record as having said so.

What is really weird is that the court failed to give a decent rationale, other than citing to a 1989 case (Lamendola) where “videotaping has not been allowed in the absence of special and unusual circumstances.”

But the days of large, intrusive video cameras have vanished. Without a camera, the exam is like a deposition without a stenographer. Since we know these exams are exceptionally contentious, and the defense industry is rife with quickie exams, there is now no colorable reason not to document them.

This case is, in fact, the poster child for why these exams should be recorded. There were claims of interference by counsel and claims regarding the length of the exam and claims regarding the tests that were done. It’s a shame the court missed the irony.

Who, exactly, benefits from the failure to record the exam? Only the ones conducting them, who can say what they please in their reports. If court permission is needed to simply turn on a smartphone — and it shouldn’t be —  then the courts should be liberal in allowing it to happen.

We often tell juries that a trial is a search for the truth, and that we want them to be the proverbial fly on the wall that determines what actually happened. Well, technology now allows that for these exams.

This decision is, plain and simple, very bad law.

Exchange of Videos: The court was pretty clear that the video had to be exchanged, based on two provisions of the CPLR that call for “full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action” as well as for the exchange of all video of a party related to the action. No further comment needed.

Justice Hart's opinion of Dr. Katz

Justice Hart’s opinion of Dr. Katz

Katz Didn’t Lie:  The court was greatly displeased with Justice Hart’s repeated condemnation of Katz as a liar, and cited to the video that was taken. That video, which was on YouTube for awhile before being taken down, showed a total of five minutes spent with the plaintiff, of which just one minute and fifty-six seconds was an actual physical exam.

Katz had testified a number of times that he couldn’t remember the actual length of this exam, and was then pressed by the court for an answer as to his custom and practice for such an exam. Katz said 10 to 20 minutes.

The appellate court cited this as an example of why Katz did not lie — because he was discussing his custom and practice and not this particular exam. The problem is that Justice Hart didn’t just rely on the time spent on the exam, and went on to say that:

You see this is the part that you are missing. I am not making a big thing of 10, 20 minutes. Witnesses confuse time all the time but he didn’t do the tests that he said he did in the minute 56 seconds. That is the problem. . . . He didn’t do the tests that he said he did. How do you screw that one up? You either do the test or you don’t do the test.

…Again counsel, it is not the time so much if the doctor thinks that he can explain the time. It is not the time problem. It is that there are tests that he testified to that he didn’t do. That is the perjury…

So while Justice Hart specifically said at these points that it wasn’t the actual time that was most important to him, the appellate court failed to do any analysis of the tests that were referred to, and whether they could, or could not, be done in the minute and 56 seconds. Instead, the court just stated a conclusion:

At the hearing on the appellants’ post-mistrial motions, the Supreme Court apparently shifted its theory as to what was false about Dr. Katz’s testimony, advancing a new theory that Dr. Katz had lied about the quantity or nature of the tests he had performed. This theory had never been proffered by plaintiff’s counsel, either as a justification for revealing the secret video recording for the first time in the presence of the jury, or for any other purpose. In any event, this alternate theory was likewise not supported by the video recording. (emphasis added)

This failure by the appellate court is inexplicable to me given its very extensive discussion of the facts that will likely run 20-25 pages in the official reports. How did they determine it was not supported by the video? And no discussion of the tests Katz testified he did? I feel like there’s a big, gaping hole in the decision regarding what tests were claimed to have been done, or not done.

If this is going to be the basis that Katz did, or did not, lie, logic would dictate that the appellate court send the matter back down to the trial court level (with a new judge) to hold a hearing, and let independent orthopedists (chosen by the court, not the parties) compare Katz’s testimony regarding tests he claimed to have done with the video that was taken.

Nonetheless, attorneys that may cross-examine Katz in the future should expect him to say, if a judge even allows the issue to be raised, that the appellate court specifically wrote:

At this point, we dispel the premise that underlies the plaintiff’s arguments on these appeals, and the actions taken by the Supreme Court after declaring the mistrial, namely, the notion that Dr. Katz lied. The record does not reflect that Dr. Katz committed perjury. Dr. Katz was asked how long the second IME took, and his answer was that he did not know. There is no evidence in this record that, at the time Dr. Katz gave that testimony, he actually did know how long the second IME took. Thus, that answer (or series of answers) has not been shown to be untruthful. (emphasis added)

Defendants Get A New Exam:  It is often very difficult for a defense firm to get a new exam if their doctor should have some, shall we say, problems. The standard is that “a defendant must demonstrate that unusual and unanticipated circumstances,” and even being arrested and temporarily losing a medical license doesn’t qualify.

Here, the court cites  Katz’s unwillingness to testify given the circumstances. But this is, frankly, an unusual ruling. Since the court also precluded the use of the video due to the manner in which it was obtained and the failure to properly exchange it, and directed the matter to a new judge for a new trial, it is easy enough to keep all of this stuff away from any future jury. With that protection, why shouldn’t he come in?

One hopes that future courts won’t allow the simple “But I don’t wanna testify!” be enough for a defense firm to obtain new physicals. For if this happens, the motions will be legion.

Trial Attorney Shouldn’t Go on the Physical: The case stands for a good example of why the trial lawyer should not attend a defendant’s physical exam: You run the risk of becoming a witness and therefore being disqualified on ethical grounds. (Defense lawyers might also make themselves witnesses.)

When I was a young pup lawyer, I went on a bunch of these exams, as I wasn’t going to be trying the cases. Today, I send other representatives that can track what the doctors do. But it isn’t the same as video, that’s for sure.

Plaintiff’s Lawyer was Directed to Pay Costs: The defense asserted it wasn’t Katz lying about the exam that caused the mistrial, but the conduct of plaintiff’s counsel. Plaintiff’s counsel, by contrast, said the video wouldn’t even have come up if Katz hadn’t lied.

The court accepted the defense argument, because they said that Katz didn’t lie. The only problem with that, from where I sit in the cheap seats, is that the actual analysis was incomplete, as I noted above, as Justice Hart asserted it wasn’t so much the time spent that led him to call Katz a liar, but that he thought all the tests couldn’t be done in the brief time that the exam lasted.

It seems to me that if the appellate court is going to absolve Katz of lying, rip into plaintiff’s counsel and force him to pay significant costs, the very least they could have done is specifically addressed Justice Hart’s assertion that he thought Katz was a liar because he couldn’t have done all the tests so quickly. But nothing on that subject other than a conclusory comment. Zippo. Nada. No hearing ordered.

What was particularly odd was that the court concluded that the mistrial was caused, in part, by the conduct of the trial justice. If that is so, then why sanction plaintiff’s counsel?  If the court concludes that the proper judicial action was to simply preclude the use of the video, the trial could have continued without mistrial. The video, after all, came out only on re-direct. A simple objection, sustained by the court as it was beyond the scope of the cross exam, would have been all that was necessary.

It was also unusual to me that the court leveled the costs at all. Why unusual? Because our lower courts are so hesitant to do so. In both cases where I was sued for defamation, the first time by Rakofsky and the second by Katz, there were judges that refused. Despite the fact that the cases were so godawful bad.

On a final semi-related note, I did end out with a small judgment against Katz, by the way, after his “hilariously stupid” case against me was tossed. A judgment, I might add, that I think he still hasn’t paid.

Updated:  I’ve been informed that this matter actually settled in March of 2015 to the satisfaction of all parties. So why did the Second Department issue a 36-page decision on a case that was already concluded?


November 19th, 2015

So You Had Sex With Charlie Sheen And Now You Want To Sue…

Charlie Sheen Bree Olson(A version of this post appears at The Hollywood Reporter. It is cross-posted here.)

Charlie Sheen got himself into a pickle. I know, you’re all shocked! The question we try to answer today, just how big is his pickle?

The nature of his confession is that he is now HIV-positive, that he has known this for four years, and that while knowing he was HIV-positive he had sex with many women. This includes prostitutes and porn actresses. He claims that he told all the women about the HIV.

But at least one of them, former porn actress and girlfriend Bree Olson, claims she was never told. Sheen said that ain’t true. He also claims that at least one other has been blackmailing him to the tune of $10 million, telling him to pay up or she would release the information.

What we call this back East is a big, fat headache. We call it other names too, starting with “cluster” and ending with the likely source of Sheen’s illness, but I’ve been told to keep this piece clean.

Since I practice civil law, I’ll tackle this cluster-intercourse from that end with five easy questions. And since the women may be anywhere in the country, and Sheen travelled widely (and wildly), a claim could theoretically pop up in any jurisdiction.

I’ll use New York law as my baseline, since that’s where I practice. It also happens to be almost identical to California law in important respects, where Sheen resides. But, as you’ll see below, I don’t think it will matter much anyway where any suit is brought.

  1. Do any of the women have a negligence claim against Sheen for scaring the bejesus out of them with his HIV revelation?

In general, you can’t bring a claim purely for the negligent infliction of emotional distress in New York. “That car almost hit me, I was so scared!!!!!” doesn’t cut it, no matter how many exclamation marks you use.

There are a few small exceptions where a purely emotional injury could result in a claim, of which the desecration of a body is one, and the potential infection with HIV happens to be another. Thus, someone getting stuck with an infected needle due to negligence could result in a claim. It will most likely be six months before she knows if she was infected and there is little doubt a reasonable person would be anguished over it.

In order to prove negligence in the Sheen scenario, a woman (presumably) would have to come forward to say that Sheen breeched a duty of care to her because he knew of his diagnosis, and that he reassured her he was clean, and that they therefore didn’t use a condom. If a jury believed her — and remember that this is unlikely to be a nun that is testifying — a claimant could theoretically get over that hurdle.

But that is not the only hurdle. The woman will also have to prove that her mental injury is “a direct, rather than a consequential” result of the breach of a duty of care to her and that the claim “possesses some guarantee of genuineness.”

The problem is that it’s four years later. What direct injury? Remember, this is mental anguish only. Simple blood tests, if she hasn’t already had them, will give her peace of mind. The “guarantee of genuineness” is missing from the very tough New York rules against such claims.

But let’s say this was not someone in the porn or sex-work industry who might get tested often, but just a regular girl that liked the boy and they had good times together. Hey, it’s possible!

A claim now? Getting closer, but only if this was unprotected sex that occurred very recently, giving rise to a reasonable cause for AIDS phobia.

(California likewise has strict limits on suits regarding the negligent infliction of emotional distress.)

Charlie Sheen Women

Charlie Sheen with some friends.

2.  Even if a woman can elucidate a claim, does she bear any responsibility?

In New York we have something called comparative negligence. So too does California. If you’re in a car collision and sue, the jury gets to determine not only the fault of the guy you sued, but yours also. If they find you 25% responsible, you say goodbye to 25% of any jury award.

Here you got comparative negligence up the wazoo: A wild guy having sex with lots of different people. There is a heavy element of personal responsibility that goes on here not just from his point but from hers.

And a jury, if it were to actually reach the issue, would most likely wag a metaphorical finger at the woman and say:

“You had unprotected sex with Charlie Sheen?! CHARLIE DEGERERATED SHEEN! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND?!”

Yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t use that word, but good grief, think about that concept. The comparative negligence would be pretty darn high.

  1. OK, if negligence is out, how about suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress?

While this sounds like a better plan that suing under a negligence theory, the bar is still very, very high to prevail. The New York standard to prevail on that theory is:

“One who by extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress to another is subject to liability for such emotional distress.”

The problem with that is that there isn’t any evidence to show he tried to cause distress. By their own admissions, the women have to acknowledge that this was kept secret from them until he gave his recent interview. Is it possible? Yeah, maybe.

4.  Are there any damages?

In the unlikely event someone could prove Sheen was liable, how will she prove that a reasonable person would be fearful if the contact happened more than six months ago and she is HIV-negative when tested now? And even if she could prove that a reasonable person would nevertheless be fearful, just how big could the injury be?

The jury will likely be instructed by a court to view how the reasonable person of average sensibilities could be affected under the circumstances. Blood test. Done. Relief. Go have a beer.

Could there be punitive damages if found liable for intentional causing the injury? While possible, the road is very long to get there, and with little in the way of compensatory damages, might not be viewed favorably by many courts.

5.  Wait! Before you sum up! What about the extortion of $10 million?

In theory, if the extortionist were the one to sue, and in Bizzarro World — which doesn’t exist in our courts no matter what kind of headlines you might read — had a verdict rendered in her favor, a good argument could be made that the blackmailed dollars would be used as a set-off. But good luck proving it.

The only way the extortion issue comes into play is if some prosecutor says, “Hey, I bet a lot of cash was used for that!! Let’s follow the money to see if Sheen was breaking the law with respect to documenting transfers of cash over $10,000.”

But I’ll let the criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors discuss that.

Summation time! In the event a woman was able to surmount every single hurdle and survive motions to dismiss, what would the jury likely do?

They’d likely look at the rather motley array of witnesses that were presented, hate them all up, down and sideways, say a pox on you and your houses, you all get nothin’ and we’re going home to our families.

And frankly, they are likely to say that no matter where the suit was brought.


November 17th, 2015

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your #SyrianRefugees

Statue of LibertyI hate to go so wildly off-topic to venture into the world of politics, but when something happens that is so fundamentally at odds with our nation’s founding principles, it’s hard to silence my keyboard.

I woke today to find that, in the wake of the attack in Paris, a number of Governors are trying to keep Syrian refugees out of their states, apparently out of fear that a terrorist or two might slip through the tens of thousands of desperate souls seeking freedom:

After the terror attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people, the placement of refugees fleeing Syria has come under scrutiny as at least 18 governors — mostly Republicans — have said they do not want the refugees in their state.

So this is a good time for them to re-read The New Colossus, that being the extraordinary Emma Lazarus poem that they learned about in grade school that sits affixed to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor — a statue that was a gift from France.

And it is a reminder to those governors that this is a city of a thousand cities, and this is a nation of a thousand nations, and that the vast diversity of our citizenry is what makes us stronger, not weaker.

If ever there was a group of “wretched refuse,” homeless and tempest-tost, it is the refugees of a war that has already claimed over 200,000 lives:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


November 11th, 2015

Did David Aylor Really Cut and Run after Walter Scott Shooting?

David Aylor, initially hired by the insurance company to defend Slager.

David Aylor, initially hired by the insurance company to defend Slager.

You remember Michael Slager, don’t you? He’s the cop that shot Walter Scott in the back down in Charleston, South Carolina in April of this year. I pilloried his attorney, David Aylor, for first taking the case to defend Slager, then when the video surfaced and Slager was charged with murder, Aylor suddenly quit. And then yapped to the press about it. (See Enthralled With the Press).

Aylor was widely quoted as saying:

“All I can say is that the same day of the discovery of the video that was disclosed publicly, I withdrew as counsel immediately. Whatever factors people want to take from that and conclusions they want to make, they have the right to do that. But I can’t confirm from an attorney-client standpoint what the reason is.”

Damn that sounds bad. The  implication to me, and many others, is that Aylor was not going to rep this loser. Even though that is what criminal defense lawyers are often asked to do.

Now we have a pretty damn good update — Michael Slager has sued over the incident. Sued?! Sued who, I hear you ask.

Sued his insurance company, the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc., which issues polices of insurance. For it was the insurance company that apparently hired Aylor, and the insurance company pulled the plug on the representation. (Slager v. SouthernStatesPBA)

And here’s the thing — Southern States did this, according to the complaint, within a day of the video surfacing.

According to the complaint, Slager was paying every month for his legal coverage that included this:

“The Legal Defense Benefit will be provided to Southern States PBA members only in those cases where a lawsuit or criminal accusation results from professional acts or omissions which arise out of and in the scope of their duties as a law enforcement officer.”

“The Benefit shall consist of the payment by Southern States PBA of attorney’s fees and directly related Court costs.”

“Coverage under the benefit is intended to apply to cases where a member has taken some type of direct law enforcement action consistent with his/her responsibilities as a law enforcement officer.”

ScottShootingSeems pretty straightforward, right? No matter how awful his conduct, he was clearly undertaking some type of law enforcement action — he wasn’t sitting at a desk making management decisions on which new clerk to hire.

The cops even get a wallet card that specifically deals with shootings:


Except for this exemption clause:

“Southern States PBA reserves the right to withhold approval of any benefits and to withdraw approval of any benefits if it is determined at any time that the member has committed an intentional, deliberate and/or illegal act, either civilly or criminally.”

Now there isn’t any question that Slager was acting in the scope of his employment when he shot and killed Scott. His employer will be liable for any civil claim against it.

But if I read the complaint right, the insurance company is happy to give him a criminal defense as long as he is determined not to have done anything illegal?  An illusory and toothless contract?

This is the guts of the legal filing insofar as it pertains to Aylor and the April 4th shooting:

After requesting benefits under the Legal Defense Benefit plan, Defendant Southern States PBA granted Officer Slager’s request and assigned attorney David Aylor to represent Officer Slager in defense of the Scott murder charge.

On or about April 7, 2015, Attorney Aylor suddenly and summarily terminated his representation of Officer Slager.

Aylor took a lot of abuse for a few things: (1) cutting and running;  (2) yapping to the press about it, and (3) allowing Slager to be interrogated despite the fact that he had only the word of his client to go on.

But it now appears that the reason for the cut and run was that he wasn’t getting paid.  Aylor, it appears, wasn’t going to take on a very substantial and high profile murder defense without Mr. Green showing up to help.

There is this:

In a letter dated April 8, 2015, Southern States PBA explained that “upon review your [the] case,” it would not provide benefits under the intentional acts exclusion as it had determined that Officer Slager had “committed an intentional, deliberate and/or illegal act, either civilly or criminally.”

As per the suit, this was a one-day investigation, which is to say, that insurance company folks saw the video and saw a way out of the contract to defend and that, according to Slager, was bad faith.

This is not to say that Aylor’s conduct was the height of perfection, as he made dumb comments, allowed his client to be interrogated when he didn’t have all the facts and left the impression that he was running away from an unpopular client after seeing the video.

But this suit does seem to clarify the real reason he quit: He simply wasn’t getting paid by the insurance company.
Elsewhere: At Death and Taxes:

When it comes to police who fuck up, no matter how awful a fuck up it is, they can usually always count on the local police union or fraternal organization to staunchly defend them and slander their critics.

That is, apparently, unless you’re Michael Slager, the South Carolina cop who was caught on video shooting unarmed civilian Walter Scott in the back.

Guess cold-blooded murder proved to be too much for the Southern States Police Benevolent Association (we’re surprised too!), because the organization, to which Slager had paid dues for legal representation while active on the force, dropped him the day he was charged in the killing of Scott.