f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 15, 2006

what did lawyer-felon Capoccia give up for Lent? [twerpEsq update]

Filed under: pre-06-2006,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 11:45 am

The Good News for convicted lawyer felons: Freely share your
legal expertise while incarcerated and you will be (a) very
popular with fellow inmates and (b) the recipient of many
bartered small luxuries (e.g., strawberry cereal bar, sandals,
a set of headphones, a pillow), which you will appreciate far
more than in your heyday scamming millions from clients.

tiny check Since your “clients” have no money to pay the
legal fees of private lawyers on the outside, you
won’t even have to worry about the “consumer
protection” — Unauthorized Practicezealots
at the state bar coming after your disbarred butt.

FBP inmate 06-00370

The Bad News for convicted lawyer felons: Besides losing
your freedom, you eat far too much “mystery meat,” even
though you sent in an order for “aglio con olio, broccoli rabe
and escarole salad.”

at the end of Lent the taste of you
Jim Kacian from Taboo Haiku

The Albany Times Union offers an interesting look at the prison
life of Andrew F. Capoccia, “once a fierce litigator who earned
millions from personal-injury cases before being sent off to prison
in February. “Once a big litigator; now works for food: Inmate Andrew
F. Capoccia trades legal advice for small luxuries,” by Alan Wechsler,
April 13, 2006. (We’ve chronicled Capoccia antics with his debt-reduc-
tion scam, and the gross failure of NYS bar grievance committees to
protect his clients, frequently at this weblog — see, especially, this essay.)

The source of the article is:

“a 16-page letter to a friend that was provided to the Times Union.
The prison memoir, sent last month, is penned in tone of a man who has accepted his sentence of more than 15 years with a keen sense of irony and dark humor.”

It’s well worth a deterrent look, but hurry, as the TU only keeps its content
available for free online for 7 days.

jailbird neg

raindropS Honored Guest Jim Kacian has always
been a free man:

the place i can’t reach itches your absence

passing the jug
the warmth
of many hands

first page

of the new journal

untrammeled snow

raindropS raindropS

sharp wind

the metal gate bangs shut

bangs shut

sundown —

one dog starts

them all

Jim Kacian from from Presents of Mind (1996)


“sundown” – Upstate Dim Sum 2001/II

“the place” – Simply Haiku (2003)


“emptypocketsS” A little more local-area law news. Experienced litigator and appellate

advocate L. John Van Norden has been Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of

Schenectady, NY, the past two years (and carrying most of the load for his boss,

Alfred Goldberger). He’s also an avid member of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers. John

had worked for the City for eleven years prior to entering private practice in 2001. He

left because he disagreed with the City’s policy of defending every police officer accused

of misbehavior.

The Gazette reports today that John is looking for a new job, after getting caught in the

midst of salary squabbling aimed primarily at our Mayor, which has lost him a promised

pay hike. (Daily Gazette, “City’s Counsel Seeking New Job,” April 15, 2006). What

I wanted to point out is that John made only $45,000 in salary for his fulltime job for

2005. In order to get a raise to $70,000 for 2006, his boss allowed his own Corporation

Counsel salary to be cut from $70,000 to $50,000, as of Jan. 1, 2006. Those who think

that only losers take municipal law jobs, and/or that all lawyers are overpaid, should

take a look at John Van Norden’s record. We wish him the best as he looks for a new


bully flip

Another Schenectady story that may be of interest to Web denizens is the arrest of

David R. Monty, who is accused of stalking his estranged wife using several techniques

involving the internet:

– Sending harassing emails to his wife and her employer

and friends; they placed the wife in fear of bodily harm

and caused her employer of eight years (a cardiology

office) to fire her.

– Creating a weblog that he pretended was his wife’s web-

site. The weblog had “vulgar and sexual entries”.


– Attempting to access his wife’s bank accounts online.

– Illegally using wireless internet access points: stealing

the signals from his neighbors, allegedly, to avoid paying

for the services.

In April 2004, Monty wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Schenectady

Gazette, complaining that having to disclose a 1998 conviction for

“first-degree harassment” prevented him from being hired for jobs.

He wrote “Come on, employers, is there nothing in your past that

you have done that may be questionable? Give some of us a chance

to prove we are citizens.” (Daily Gazette [Schenectady, NY], “Police

say man stalked wife via Internet,” A1, by Steven Cook, April 15, 2006,

available by subscription)

tiny check To the best of my recollection, Mr. Monty was the

person who first taught me — while representing a child

as Law Guardian in Family Court — that keeping a mother

safe is a necessity for keeping a child safe. Sadly, when

a mother chooses to remain in a violent relationship, she

puts her children at risk


Fibonacci/Schmibonacci: You won’t get the f/k/a Gang to start

counting syllables again. See “is it or ain’t it haiku?” (via Blawg Review)

update (10 PM): Jonathan Stein of The Practice weblog has written yet another mouse lawyer small

attack on me and my position regarding the ethics of the standard contingency fee.

See “Bonus Post: One More freaking time,” April 15, 2006. For the third time, he has

failed to link to any of my materials on the topic (such as this). This time, Jonathan calls

my analysis is “crap” and “hateful”, and asserts again that only a p/i lawyer can have

an opinion about the ethics of contingency fees — especially the position that fees should

vary according to the lawyers perceived risk at the time of entering the fee agreement. So

far, he hasn’t explained why the American Trial Lawyers Association submitted a statement

to the Utah Supreme Court, in 2003, explaining [at 12]:

” ‘Attorneys should exercise sound judgment and use a percentage in the

contingent fee contract that is commensurate with the risk, cost, and effort

required.’ . . . The passage is not merely information given to clients, but is

taken verbatim from a resolution on professional ethics regarding the use of

contingent fees, adopted by ATLA’s Board of Governors in 1986. This resolu-

tion continues to be ATLA’s policy regarding the ethical obligations of its

members.” [emphasis added]

[ed. note: ATLA says the appropriate percentage belongs in the fee

contract. No client should have to depend on the lawyer giving him a

a fee rebate at the end of the case.]

mouse lawyer horiz Admittedly, we are experiencing an illicit Easter Eve Chocolate-Bunny

Overdose right now, and may be more annoyed than usual by his pixel drivel. However, we’re

writing because poor Jonathan needs some mentoring. Would someone who cares about

him, please remind Jonathan that potential clients for his Elk Grove, CA, solo practice just

might Google him and discover his attitudes and EQ? Couldn’t someone more objective than

I, let Mr. Stein know that he will soon be known, throughout weblawgdom, as twerpEsq, if he

doesn’t stop these little temper tantrums. In the holiday spirit, someone go hug Mr. Stein.

in the farm field
his wife hides…
croaking frog

Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue



  1. You have resorted to name-calling? That is what they taught you at Harvard. I am damn glad I didn’t go to that law school if that is the best you have.

    And the offer still stands. You can go to my blog and tell everyone you will take my challenge. Let’s see once and for all who is right with an experiment. Are you and your system up for it?

    Comment by Jonathan — April 15, 2006 @ 10:44 pm

  2. Dear Jonathan:  Let me make sure I’m getting this right:  At your weblog, a month ago, you said this about me: 

    ” I guess he is either too old to come to terms with anything other than the hourly fee, too lazy to analyze the contingency fee in context, or too afraid of being left behind by the times.”

    Then, on March 27, using some of the worst legal analysis by a lawyer that I’ve ever seen, you suggest that it is I who have given a deceptive interpretation of ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 94-394.
    And, on April 15, you call my analysis of the ethics and economics of standard contingency fees “crap” and “hateful,” and add the asinine question. “By the way, how ethical is it to go by multiple names?”– because  I use pseudonyms at my weblog to denote very different roles played there by its one and only, very nonymous Editor. 
    All along, you fail to link to any of my relevant materials, while making virtually no ethical argument in reply (except “we all do it” and “you don’t get it”).
    Now, you act scandalized that I advise you that you’ll soon be seen as a twerp among lawyers, if you don’t stop making such presentations.  And, you malign my law school. Plus, you suggest that I haven’t presented any substantive response to your drivel.  Seems to me you may just be fulfilling my prophecy about your new nickname.
    Even if I had the time and energy, I would not accept your harebrained “challenge.”  As you have pointed out, I have little p/i experience.  My ethics argument is that anyone holding himself or herself out as a competent and experienced p/i lawyer, using contingency fee arrangements, can and must make an adequate risk assessment of each individual case and offer a percentage fee that is commensurate.

    p.s.  Jonathan, in your April 15th post, you also said: “Interestingly, I notice that no one is telling divorce attorneys that their $10,000 retainers are pricing low and middle income people out of the market for legal services. No one is complaining that business formation attorneys are charging four hundred dollars per hour or more and their fees are stifling the creation of new small businesses for low and middle income folks. No one is talking about how renters cannot afford legal representation when they are being evicted ”
    I don’t know who the “no one”s are to whom you refer.  Spend a little time looking through the ethicalEsq Archives, and you’ll discover a lot of commentary by myself dealing with the issues you raised.  For instance, see the Access/Self-Help/Pro Se Page, the Unauthorized Practice Page, and the Fees Page.  As a lawyer who left antitrust and struggled to build a divorce mediation practice in a region that never had one — precisely to give clients a far-cheaper and less stressful option to traditional divorce-lawyering — I find it amusing that those comments of yours appear to be addressed to me.  See my discussion in Internet Lawsites Encounter the Profession’s Guild Mentality.  Also, the post  UK Dads Angrily Protest Divorce Lawyers, where I stated:  As a Law Guardian [that’s at $25 or $40 an hour, Jonathan, in the 1990’s] representing children and as a divorce mediator [charging $90 per hour], I have seen far too many instances of divorce lawyers needlessly fomenting anger and prolonging proceedings, to the detriment of the own clients, the opposing party and, especially, the children.  As lawyer-mediator Leonard Marlow has pointed out in Divorce and the Myth of Lawyers and The Two Roads to Divorce, the only winners are the lawyers.

    Comment by David Giacalone — April 18, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

  3. Wow, it’s amazing to see 2 individuals engaging in a pissing contest. Maybe had my defense spent as much time on my case as the two of you have picking at each other, they might have made an attempt at zealous advocacy!

    Comment by Wow — December 13, 2006 @ 2:51 am

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