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Pair Arrested After Telling Lawyer Jokes 657

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the not-so-loudly dept.
fembots writes "Two men were arrested for telling lawyer jokes while standing in line leading into First District Court. A spokesman for the Nassau courts said the men were causing a stir and that their exercise of their First Amendment rights to free speech was impeding the rights of others at the court."
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Pair Arrested After Telling Lawyer Jokes

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  • Slow news day? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SYFer (617415) <syfer&syfer,net> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:21PM (#11355027) Homepage
    So in this case, "Your Rights Online" refers merely to the fact that these jokesters were standing "on line." With all due respect, I just don't see how this is Slash-worthy.

    Next!
  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:21PM (#11355030) Homepage
    Okay, my first reaction: Petty abuse of power? By a lawyer? There's got to be some mistake.

    Reading the article, however, makes me wonder if we're really getting the whole story here. Given that these aren't just two random individuals but the founders of "Americans for Legal Reform", I personally smell an increased likelyhood that their side of things contains a certain amount of BS. Of course it's just my gut instinct talking and your milage may vary.

    Unfortunately this level of doubt precludes the normal level of moral outrage (aka, "hits" or "ad impressions") that these threads are supposed to generate, and for that I apologize.

    Now, answer me this: How many RIAA lawyers does it take to screw in a light blub?

  • Here's a joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:23PM (#11355059)
    Slashdot Editors!

    (Psst... make a "Law" category rather than stuff everything into YRO.)
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Antonymous Flower (848759) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:24PM (#11355067) Homepage
    Because it pertains to your right to say what you just said. Literary elements such as Satire have allowed people to say things they could not say directly. This pair was arrested for cracking jokes. The questions are: What precedent may be set? What comes next?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:25PM (#11355075)
    Sure it may sound bad this way... But I am sure the two guys went overboard somewhere... They did not simply offend one judge/lawyer/whatever and poof, was off to jail...

    This is one situation where I am sure you had to be there to know really what happened, since there is probably two stories to this one, the one doing the arresting, and the ones being arrested...
  • by solafide (845228) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:26PM (#11355080) Homepage
    Rude, uncivil, etc. Why were they there anyway? Learn your manners and respect other peoples opinions! Especially in front of the lawyer - how dumb was that?

    Sorry for the rant, but what fool calls lawyers names to their faces?
    Billy

  • Okay, so? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sialagogue (246874) <sialagogueNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:26PM (#11355081)

    By "they were arrested for telling lawyer jokes" you mean "they were arrested for 'being abusive and disturbing the peace'"

    I was going to try to make some articulate argument about the scope of First Amendment rights as it applies to public places and the social contract, but I'll just sum it up like this:

    Two retards act like dicks and get busted for it, and all of a sudden I have to read about it on Slashdot?

  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:33PM (#11355160) Homepage Journal
    In general, acting like an asshole in the presence of law enforcement is a bad idea. You may not get convicted, but chances are really good you will get arrested.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:34PM (#11355163)
    Christ. Think about that for a second. Lawyers are not gods. They are almost certainly NOT better people than you. I have no difficulty telling a lawyer that I'll assume she's a conniving bitch until she proves otherwise - you shouldn't either. The article is right on the money - lawyers want to control you, and with your attitude, you're letting them. The burgeoning lawyerocracy will have to be stopped fairly soon. Pick a set of ethical guidelines and live by them. Don't confuse what is legal and what is right. Above all, don't elevate lawyers to new nobility.

  • by EvilAlien (133134) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:34PM (#11355171) Journal
    The First Ammendment needs to protect jackasses too. Labelling a speaker as a "jackass" due to what was said is a matter of perception, not fact. The court case resulting from this will be the test for the two alleged jackasses... unfortunately, the cursory description of the incident leads to easy classification of the speakers as jackasses, the lawyers as bloodsucking fiends, etc etc.

    If the two were wrongfully arrested, would they be capable of getting some sort of compensation under US law?

  • by Otter (3800) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:35PM (#11355176) Journal
    Who knows? But given that:

    a) What kind of nut regularly goes to the courthouse and heckles lawyers as a hobby?

    b) They've spun this story as "Arrested for telling lawyer jokes!"

    I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the judge, not to them.

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Leo McGarry (843676) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:37PM (#11355189)
    Oh, it pertains to no such thing. Drop the agenda-mongering and look at the facts of the case: Two men were causing a disturbance on government property. When given the opportunity to stop, they refused, knowing full well that they were in danger of being arrested on a misdemeanor charge.

    These boys weren't exercising their right to free speech. They were, deliberately and with malicious intent, making a public nuisance of themselves. And we have laws against that sort of thing.

    The freedom of speech is not a freedom to be a shithead.
  • Ummm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fluxrad (125130) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:40PM (#11355226) Homepage
    Last time I checked, standing outside a courthouse expressing disdain for lawyers is perfectly legal.

    In some states, they even allow people to carry signs and march around in circles outside of buildings. In fact, from time to time, these sign wielding people will even chant repetative slogans (gasp). My friend, people have a right to protest, be it against abortion, creationism, blacks, whites, gays, white supremacists and yes...lawyers.

    Do I think these guys are stupid douchebags? Of course.

    Am I outraged that they were arrested for being stupid douchebags? You bet your ass I am.
  • by mOoZik (698544) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:45PM (#11355268) Homepage
    Why could the lawyer simply ignore the men? Yes, I RTFA, and this was set-up to get attention by the two guys telling the jokes, but this is a pretty extreme way to go about stopping them. Besides, anyone but the most naive knows that lawyers will do anything to win, and in return, make tons of cash. I don't care about the money they make, but the methods which they employ scares me.

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:45PM (#11355269)

    Because it pertains to your right to say what you just said. Literary elements such as Satire have allowed people to say things they could not say directly


    But how is it related to YRO - Your Rights *ONLINE*
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SilverspurG (844751) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:46PM (#11355279) Homepage Journal
    The freedom of speech is not a freedom to be a shithead

    If some hoidy-toidy lawyer down at the courthouse can't take it then tell him to close his ears. For crying out loud, what is this, kindergarten? Did he really have to go running to the teacher,"Make them stop! Make them stop!"

    public nuisance

    My butt. What's the legal definition for that? "Anything we want when we feel like it"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:48PM (#11355293)
    The fool that belives he lives in a free country.


    Maybe RMS can update 'The Free Software Definition' to add 'free' as in the United States of America -- The software is free until they decide it's not.

    ``Free software'' is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ``free'' as in ``free speech,'' not as in ``free like the USA.''
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Glock27 (446276) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @09:49PM (#11355309)
    Oh, it pertains to no such thing. Drop the agenda-mongering and look at the facts of the case: Two men were causing a disturbance on government property. When given the opportunity to stop, they refused, knowing full well that they were in danger of being arrested on a misdemeanor charge.

    How, exactly, were they "causing a disturbance"? Some people laughed? I mean, what exactly is the First Amendment about again? Did they yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater? I think not!

    These boys weren't exercising their right to free speech. They were, deliberately and with malicious intent, making a public nuisance of themselves. And we have laws against that sort of thing.

    I suspect the crowd of people in line were fine with the jokes...it offended one lawyer and the hammer came down. It is especially ironic given the "kings and peasants" analogy used in the article. (Did you read it BTW?)

    The freedom of speech is not a freedom to be a shithead.

    One person's shithead is another person's role model. THAT is the point of the first amendment. Just because you don't like it gives you no right to stop it. I mean, look at Jesse Jackson's marches through certain parts of the south...I guarantee that most people there think he's a shithead. However, he has the RIGHT to express his views.

  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:06PM (#11355451) Journal
    Last time I checked, standing outside a courthouse expressing disdain for lawyers is perfectly legal.

    In some states, they even allow people to carry signs and march around in circles outside of buildings.

    The key word here is "outside"...

  • by Ra5pu7in (603513) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ni7up5ar>> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:09PM (#11355472) Journal
    If you read the article, try to discover what is actually fact. Notice how no uninvolved people were interviewed - we only have the statements of the pair and a court official. Each of these people will, of course, spin the event their way. The majority of that article is little better than editorializing - filling in with opinion where facts are lacking.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:14PM (#11355503) Journal
    RTFA.

    This was in a line, not in a court-room.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:14PM (#11355506)
    And who determines what "an asshole" is? I got dark skin, some police officers think I'm an asshole by just being in their vicinity...
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tassach (137772) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:16PM (#11355521)
    What's the legal definition for [public nuisance]? "Anything we want when we feel like it"?
    Got it in one. There are so many different, contridictory laws that a cop can arrest just about anyone if he feels like it. They have the power, you don't. Grovel like the peasant you are in their eyes, and they might not hurt you.
  • by Facekhan (445017) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:17PM (#11355531)
    They are probably one of the many people who feel that lawyers who make up the vast majority of the people writing the laws, the people working for the people who write the laws, the people who lobby for such laws, the people who enforce the laws (the prosecutors not the cops), the people who interpret the laws (the judges), the people who defend you in court, the people you must pay when you need to use the courts, and the people who are paid to use the courts against you, have a bit too much power in our society.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by over_exposed (623791) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:23PM (#11355587) Homepage
    See, I could see them getting cited for public disturbance (if it was interfering with the day-to-day business of the courthouse or something like that) and maybe getting a ticket... but SUED? Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ....
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dhalka226 (559740) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:23PM (#11355593)

    The freedom of speech is not a freedom to be a shithead.

    Actually freedom of speech IS freedom to be a shithead without getting arrested for it.

    Where we begin getting on sticky ground is if people are inciting others to violence or panic, etc. Incidentally, I make no comment on the specific case in this story, but speak in general.

    A quote I have pasted before:

    The only freedom which counts is the freedom to do what some other people think to be wrong. There is no point in demanding freedom to do that which all will applaud. All the so-called liberties or rights are things which have to be asserted against others who claim that if such things are to be allowed their own rights are infringed or their own liberties threatened. This is always true, even when we speak of the freedom to worship, of the right of free speech or association, or of public assembly. If we are to allow freedoms at all there will constantly be complaints that either the liberty itself or the way in which it is exercised is being abused, and, if it is a genuine freedom, these complaints will often be justified. There is no way of having a free society in which there is not abuse. Abuse is the very hallmark of liberty.

    -- Lord Chief Justice Halisham

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Peyna (14792) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:25PM (#11355613) Homepage
    The lawyer that complained didn't grant an arrest warrant, nor did he personally arrest the two. A judge or a police officer had to do that. I can go to the police and complain about you being an idiot, but they won't arrest you unless they feel it is necessary.

    Have they even been formally indicted yet? I wouldn't be surprised to see the prosecutor drop the case or bring in a grand jury knowing they'll turn it down.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BinBoy (164798) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:26PM (#11355625) Homepage
    The freedom of speech is not a freedom to be a shithead.

    Then what's it for? We don't need it to protect people the government likes.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sglane81 (230749) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:31PM (#11355684) Homepage
    A wise man once told me that the right to free speech is not the freedom to say what you want. It is the freedom someone has to say things you don't want to hear.
  • Re:Some Jokes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sharkey (16670) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:43PM (#11355781)
    Q: What's the difference between a lawyer and a catfish?
    A: One's a scum-sucking bottom-dweller, and the other is a fish.
  • by ShinGouki (12500) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:47PM (#11355828) Homepage
    we're not outraged because a lawyer got offended and took action. we're outraged that our legal system allows people to be detained, searched, handcuffed, and arrested because SOMEONE ELSE DIDN'T LIKE WHAT THEY SAID.

    as Beatrice Hall once said "I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
  • by SilverspurG (844751) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @10:53PM (#11355867) Homepage Journal
    i.e. if everyone standing in line is annoyed (which sounds like what happened).

    Oh dear. You lose again.

    From TFA: "But while that rib and several others on barristers got some giggles from the crowd, the attorney standing in line about five people ahead wasn't laughing."
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lachlan76 (770870) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:19PM (#11356064)
    Ok, I'm not in the US, but I was under the impression that it says thing like the government can't:
    • Stop freedom of speech
    • Stop you from arming yourselves
    • Just arrest people for no reason
  • by Happy go Lucky (127957) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:10AM (#11356829)
    Hmm... so the line to get into the court was inside the court?

    Imagine a courtroom. It's inside a courthouse. Between the courtroom door and the exterior door to the courthouse is the rest of the building interior.

    You can't put metal detectors and X-ray machines outside on the front stoop. Snow tends to leave them somewhat used up.

  • hmmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marvelicious (752980) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:31AM (#11357104)
    These guys were arrested for making fun of our laughable judicial system. Need proof that our judicial system is laughable? These guys were arrested for making fun of...

    Sorry, if it was in a court room during a trial, sure, but all these guys did wrong was piss off the wrong people. Article mentions they are part of an organization to promote better public access to the courts. Obviously these two were a thorn in a side or two. Arresting them is pure abuse of power just to make a point.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Associate (317603) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:43AM (#11357982) Homepage
    The can't part is applied to many new laws or how those laws are presented to the people. Usually they are written to take back rights the government, in it's many forms, has assumed.

    Think of it this way.
    For citizens, in America a right not expressly forbiden is allowed. And I don't mean this as a joke, but in Soviet Russia a right not expressly allowed is forbiden.
    As for the government, in America a right not expressly allowed is forbiden. In Soviet Russia a right not expressly forbiden is allowed.
    At least that's how I came to understand it. The American example demonstrates that power is in the hands of the people. At least idealy.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slam smith (61863) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:06AM (#11358205) Homepage
    If lawyer jokes in the security line at a courthouse rattle your lawyer. I would recommend a new lawyer.
  • by Nikker (749551) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:26AM (#11358360)
    They purposely and continually go to courts and heckle the lawyers

    That is the beauty of freedom that people overlook. The idea is that if you are unhappy with something and you want to spend all day talking about it to to a person or a crowd of people then those people have the protected right to agree or disagree with you with out recourse. That is what makes freedom.

    Now we do have other avenues availible ie media, but it does *NOT* replace your right to speak in public.

    I would say in terms of free speach if I was a loud mouth shouting my opinion then you would have just as much a right to ignore me, agree with me, or stand across from me and scream back. As long as there is no violence and no one is get a lynch mob going that is ok and it is good because it gives all of us a pulse of our society.

    Many would have you belive this is wrong and if you want opinion to listen to a radio or watch television. That is what I would call opression the media is a nice to look at thing but has no real meaning or purpose any more. If a housing complex down your street is kicking people out to make room for higher paying patrons would this make the news? Maybe.

    If not and you went outside and told evreyone your opinion should you be arrested ?
  • Makes Me Wonder (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nica (176100) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:27AM (#11358815)
    If a couple of guys stood outside Planned Parenthood and made slut jokes, would that be OK?. OK, if you don't consider that a good analogy, how would you feel if someone was gathering a crowded near your business making fun of your job? I suspect many of us would deal with it just fine, but many would not, especially if it had been a lousy day at work.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:03AM (#11360355)
    of the lawyers.

    Lawyers are the entire power stucture on the USA: judges are lawyers, politicians are lawyers, and of course lawyers are lawyers.

    "lawyerocracy" indeed.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by homebrewmike (709361) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:55AM (#11361357)
    Of course, that's the reason why we have lawyers in the first place, now isn't it?

    Mr. Cop can go ahead and try to nail you for anything he likes. If you say fuck in front of a bunch of school children, and the cop nails you for it, just go to court.

    You explain why you said "fuck" in front of the innocents, and a jury of your peers say "yah, dat's a good thing" or "pay the fine, bozo."

    That's why we have a legal system, and not Judge Dredd running about.

    Don't forget /. crowd - it's YOUR responsiblity for making things work. We are the government, we elect our peers. It's your responsibility to do your homework, write your respresentatives when things are bad (and good), VOTE in every election, and don't try to get out of jury duty.

    The thing the founding fathers were also very afraid of (besides an oppressive government) was an ignorant society - it's our duty to stay informed, and help our countrymen do the same.

    So, quit your damn Government Paranoia rant, get off your lazy butt, and get involved.

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