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Trumpers' Go-To Guy and the Truth About Roy Moore's "Jewish" Lawyer

Vivia Chen

January 12, 2018

I just got back from Mexico, so my knives might not be as sharp as usual. (Yes, I had many Margaritas on the beach.) But no worries: After being back in gloomy New York for less than 24 hours, that vacation feeling is quickly fading.

I am back in the saddle with my weekly picks of what I find piquant in the news:

Why do Trumpsters flock to the same lawyer? With all the hot-shot lawyers in Washington, D.C. and New York, why are three key players in Trump's orbit picking the same lawyer?

The Daily Beast reports that Quinn Emanuel partner Bill Burck is advising Stephen Bannon on his upcoming interview with the House intelligence committee. In case you forgot, Burck (center) also represents White House counsel Don McGahn (right) and former chief of staff Reince Priebus in the Russian investigation.

I don't know if each of these guys just happen to pick Burck as the One or if McGahn referred Burck to Bannon. (I assume Priebus didn't make the referral, since he and Bannon don't seem to like each other.)

Though this seems like a situation rife with potential conflicts, I assume they all gave Burck the green light. And maybe there's a grander scheme. The Raw Story reports that "Bannon could be an incredibly valuable witness for the special counsel, especially if his testimony matches up with McGahn and Priebus—who took the highly unusual step of keeping contemporaneous notes throughout his six months as chief of staff."

Will Bannon, McGahn and Priebus all stick with the same story? If so, how long? Curiouser and curiouser.

Who's really a Jewish lawyer? Remember how Roy Moore's wife Kayla tried to prove that she and her husband weren't anti-Semitic by saying at a campaign rally: "Fake news will tell you that we don’t care for Jews. . . I just want to set the record straight. One of our attorneys is a Jew!"

The Washington Examiner identified the "Jewish" lawyer-friend as Richard Jaffe, an Alabama defense lawyer hired by the Moores in 2016 to defend their son, Caleb, against drug charges. (Whoa, the Moore's son faced drug charges?!?)

But here's the news bulletin: Jaffe told Washington Examiner that he was a "passionate supporter" of Moore's opponent Doug Jones. 

Embarrassing, right? Stay with me.

It gets more complicated. After that story came out, Kayla Moore told the Examiner that it had made a mistake. She said the "Jewish" lawyer she was referring to is Martin Wishnatsky, not Jaffe.

Wishnatsky is a die-hard Moore supporter. But the sticky part is that he's long renounced his Jewish faith. Though born Jewish, Wishnatsky became an evangelical Protestant Christian (and before that, a Mormon). He's now a staff lawyer with the Foundation for Moral Law, which is run by the Moores.

So here's my query: Can the Moore rightly make the claim that they have a "Jewish" lawyer?  I don't mean for this to be a theological/legal discussion, but I am intrigued.

Bad-Date-Ruined-Art-Article-201801102004Only in Texas can this land you in prison for life. I'm sorry to pick on my home state, but Texas always stands out in strange ways. A few weeks ago, Lindy Lou Layman (by the way, love the alliteration!) was arrested after she allegedly destroyed $300,000 worth of art at Houston plaintiffs lawyer Tony Buzbee’s home in River Oaks (that's the super fancy part of town, if you didn't know). 

Texas Lawyer now reports that Layman (left) could get a life sentence, if convicted: "According to the Texas Penal Code, punishment in criminal mischief cases are determined by how expensive the property a person destroys." If the property is worth less than $100,000, it's only a misdemeanor; but if the property is over $300,00, it's a first-degree felony, which could mean the slammer for life.

"Basically it’s a rich people statute to make it worse if rich people get stolen from or if their property gets damaged," Chris Mulder, a Dallas criminal defense attorney, told Texas Lawyer. "I guess it discourages from stealing from the wealthy instead of stealing in general."

Of course, the rich deserves extra protection! Think of all they do for the rest of society! And that's why we've revised the tax code!

Anyhoo, don't worry about Lindy Lou. According to Mulder, it's not a law that's really enforced to the letter. 

Don't mess with Chinese moms.
 As every good Chinese child knows, you are suppose to care for your parents in their old age. So what happens if the child reneges? Sue!

That's what one mom did, and she just won her case before the Taiwan's Supreme Court, which ordered her son, a dentist, to pay up big time.

Reports the New York Times: "The case attracted considerable attention because the mother and son had put down in a written contract — signed when he was 20 — what is often left unsaid, particularly in a heavily Confucian-influenced society that emphasizes filial piety. The principle is backed up by law in Taiwan, where adults are legally prohibited from abandoning their parents."

The upshot is that the son must now fork over almost $1 million to mom ($754,000, plus interest, "bringing the total award for his mother to more than $967,000") for an "upbringing fee."

Hey, it all sounds reasonable to me. Are you listening, my darlings?



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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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