Tuesday, October 19, 2010

'Your honor, Mr. Green isn't here'

picture of 1882 Rutgers College Football teamImage via Wikipedia
The Rutgers College football team in 1882.

I feel sorry for that Rutgers football player who is paralyzed, but does Editor Francis Scandale really expect me to read this much about  it? I follow Formula 1 racing, not baseball, so I'm totally uninterested in the main element on Page 1 today. The Democrat turned Republican who is intent on unseating the congressman from Wantage? Yawn.

But look at the fourth A-1 story today in The Record of Woodland Park -- a glowing profile of the defense attorney for Ridgefield Mayor Anthony R. Suarez, who is on trial in federal court. Look at that client list. Read about his rags-to-riches rise. Why should I be interested in that? What kind of hourly rate does he command? $300? $400? More?

Oh, that's not in the story. Is that a deliberate oversight? 

In deference to the bar, The Record long has avoided discussing legal fees or even what attorneys keep when a jury award or settlement yields many millions of dollars for a plaintiff. And, of course, the former Hackensack daily has never explored the larger issue of how high legal fees and the snail's pace of civil litigation limit people's access to the courts.

Poor Suarez. Even if he is found not guilty, he'll probably be broke or his "legal defense fund" will be empty.

The relationships among judges and attorneys is so cozy. A criminal defense attorney can walk into a courtroom and say, "Your honor, Mr. Green isn't here. I'd like a postponement." And the judge, who was an attorney, immediately understands the lawyer hasn't been paid his retainer. No retainer, no representation, no hearing.

The front of Local has an "Accident of the Day" photo on the front -- a signature of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes. No Hackensack or Teaneck news appears in the section.

Food Editor Susan Sherrill and Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung have been so busy stuffing their faces with cupcakes, apple pie and other desserts, they didn't have time to write anything local for Better Living today.

Sherrill has been slaving away on her debut "Your Kitchen" column, based on a cookbook recipe. I've been eating takeout for days in anticipation.

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