On May 17, 2011, yours truly posted an article on this blog about one Joseph Rakofsky, a newly minted lawyer who elected to represent a defendant in a murder trial. It was not only Rakofsky’s first murder trial, it was Rakofsky’s first trial period. The judge in the case was not amused with Rakofsky’s performance and shared some of his displeasure about it on the record and declared a mistrial. “It appeared to the Court that there were . . . defense theories out there, but [Rakofsky had] the inability to execute those theories. It was apparent to the Court that there was . . . not a good grasp of legal principles and legal procedure of what was admissible and what was not admissible that inured, I think, to the detriment of Mr. Deaner.” In addition, Judge Jackson also commented on the motion for payment by Rakofsky’s former investigator alleging that he was terminated and uncompensated based on his refusal to comply with Rakofsky’s e-mail request to “trick” a witness which the investigator characterized as “inherently unethical.” “There’s an e-mail from you to the investigator [Bean] that you may want to look at, Mr. Rakofsky. It raises ethical issues.”
The Washington Post picked up on the story as did the American Bar Association. So did a large number of bloggers who posted articles on their legal blogs and online comments “depicting the Deaner mistrial as an ‘object lesson’ for those unsuspecting clients that contemplate retention of inexperienced defense counsel in criminal cases based on low cost and exaggerated marketing.”
Deciding he could use more litigation experience, Rakofsky sued these media folks (at least 59 in total) asserting all manner of claims including defamation, emotional distress, and civil rights violations. Motions to dismiss the claims soon followed.
On April 29, 2013, the court finally issued its order granting the motion to dismiss ruling that the articles written about Rakofsky were privileged and non-actionable opinion. Unless Rakofsky enjoys the taste of more crow and decides to appeal, this matter appears to have reached its welcome conclusion.