Let’s just be honest, the law does not attract the most savory of professionals. I mean, by and large, lawyers are learned professionals who exist to help other people with their legal problems, and do so as a manner of calling. However, we have a disproportionate number of fucking psychopaths lurking in our profession. I mean…a really fucking disproportionate number of psychopaths. As one attorney told a researcher:
“Deep inside me there’s a serial killer lurking somewhere. But I keep him amused with cocaine, Formula One, booty calls, and coruscating cross-examination.”
Isn’t that just comforting? Just those two sentences shatter the image of the local lawyer as being the stalwart Atticus Finch and makes them more of the Patrick Bateman type of person in your head, doesn’t it? But that’s ridiculous. One man does not a profession speak for. I mean, how many lawyers could really be off their goddamn rockers, right? It’s not like you’re going to go into your local attorney’s office and immediately get chased down the hallway by some 40-ish lawyer with a bad combover wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and wielding a motherfucking axe, right?
….Say, do you like Huey Lewis and the News?
Well let me put on this album and tell you about the blood on the hands of two particular members of our profession in this month’s Freaky Friday.
Ignore the newspapers taped to the floor. I don’t have a dog.
1L From Hell
Teddy was, on the outside, the perfect applicant for the University of Utah law school. He came highly recommended with letters from the Governor of Utah, attorneys, and psychology professors all pushing for the school to let the young man matriculate into the boundaries of the world’s (second) oldest (but amazingly similar) profession. On paper, he was the perfect applicant, having been described as “smart, aggressive, and a believer” by the head of the Washington State Republican Party, a graduate of the University of Washington, and a friendly and outgoing student known as charming by most of his classmates. Truly, he had blossomed from his troubled childhood, born as the possible result of his mother’s incestuous abuse at the hands of her father and having been moved across the country several times, sometimes quickly and without explanation, and a shy, reserved childhood.
Ted found law school difficult, however. He started skipping classes, and by April wasn’t attending them at all, choosing instead to go into California to help with the elections there and spend his time in Washington where he’d spent so many hours as an undergrad. As any attorney will tell you, not attending law school courses will flat out end any chance you have of a career in law, as, you know, the ABA sort of fucking requires you go to class at least 80% of the time or be disallowed from sitting for the final examinations. There’s just no way to charm your way through law school, as Teddy was finding out. So it likely came as no surprise to this handsome young man when he was asked to withdraw from the University of Utah Law School…but, given his propensity for talking people around to his way of thinking (the mark of a true attorney), he was accepted, again, to the same law school to repeat his first year studies.
They didn’t go any better. Teddy, the boy who had turned into a man, found out that the study and practice of law required something that he didn’t quite have. This isn’t uncommon, a lot of people get into law school and discover they just don’t have the right mindset or the analytical skills necessary to survive in the world of adversarial advocacy and legal interpretation. Like every other idiot who goes to law school, Teddy was upset at this, and succumbed to the stress that comes with being in law school and realizing, for the first time ever, you are not the best and the brightest in your group and someone has to get the F.
Most folks deal with this by drinking, drugs, escaping into tangential hobbies or, in very rare cases, actually busting ass to overcome their deficiencies.
Teddy handled it by kidnapping, torturing, and murdering no less than 10 women during his 1L year.
Thank god he never became a 2L.
Or maybe not, because Teddy, better known as Theodore Robert Bundy , or simply “Ted Bundy,” would go on to be one of America’s most prolific serial killers of the 20th Century. At the time of his execution, he had 30 murders to his name that we know about. The true count may be much, much higher. We’ll never know. What we do know is that, considering it took until 1976 to locate him, and considering Bundy was described as a likeable, intelligent, charming man, had he completed his course of study he probably would have been the classic example of a good lawyer. People would have respected him, and he would have been in a better position to hide his crimes.
So, you know, thank the instructor who tried to get him to understand the Rule Against Perpetuities.
“Murder Insurance Scam? FUCKING BRILLIANT!”
We all know about H.H. Holmes, the man who built a goddamn murder castle right in the heart of Chicago during the World’s Fair.
Want to hear about his fucking lawyer?
After the World’s Fair, and with creditors a-knockin’ at the door, Holmes, whose birth name was Herman Mudgett (which could go a long fucking way towards explaining his desire to kill things), fled the fuck out of Illinois faster than an astronaut leaves Ohio. Where did he go? Well, that bastion of civilization, St. Louis, Missouri, with his faithful companion in crime, Benjamin Pitetzel, a carpenter with a criminal past and family. It was there the two devised a scheme whereby they would take out large insurance policies on each other and fake their deaths, collecting and splitting the proceeds. But…you know…they needed a lawyer to help grease the wheels of insurance payouts.
Enter Jeptha Howe, brother of a respected attorney and a not so respected attorney himself. Jeptha, hearing the scheme and having met with both the men, thought it was fucking brilliant because it involved a lot of goddamn money and agreed to go along with it. So, with a lawyer ostensibly appointed as the representative of Pitetzel’s wife, Pitetzel and Holmes headed to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly “Fuck You’s,” to locate a body they could fake out as being Pitetzel’s. Holmes would then identify the body, Howe would appear as the attorney for the bereaved widow there to collect the insurance payment, and then the trio would split town to repeat the scam with Holmes himself.
It was no surprise, then, that “Pitetzel” showed up in the morgue. Holmes appeared and identified the body, and nobody was there to speak against the identification as Pitetzel was new to Philadelphia and relatively unknown. On schedule, Howe appeared as the attorney of the estate, and also identified the body as the poor deceased husband of his client. They were ready to collect the insurance money and skip town! You know, except for two things:
- They were fuckin’ caught.
- Holmes had actually fucking murdered Pitetzel. It was likely easier than finding a body. Who can blame him.
So, a murderer killed someone? Big fucking deal, why is this a fucking “freaky law” issue?
Because Howe, the fucking lawyer, also identified the body. He’d met Pitetzel. He definitely fucking knew what Pitetzel looked like. Even if he didn’t, considering Holmes set the fucking body on fire, he definitely would have noticed his other client never showed the fuck up again. So Howe either was a willing participant in the murder, or he was shortly going to be another fucking victim of Holmes, who…apparently…had a bad habit of making everyone that was engaged in a scheme with him come down with a serious case of the murdereds.
Remember this the next time your significant other wants to go talk about your wills alone with the lawyer.
Two tales of legal murderers (and accomplices) is enough for this month, at least for me. But remember, we’re still a profession with a disproportionate number of folks with sociopathic tendencies and that’s no likely to change. I’ve always said you have to be crazy to want to be a lawyer, and sometimes I guess the line gets crossed from “mundane psychopathy” over into “I wonder what wearing their face as a mask would feel like?”
But I haven’t crossed that line, and neither have many other attorneys.
Just think of this the next time you go to have a will rewritten or a suit brought against someone, or the next time you decide to meet with the lawyer who’s suing you because you’re pro se in a lawsuit. Somewhere, beneath the smiling eyes, the monogrammed shirt, the slicked back hair, and the impressive certifications on the wall of the office there may be lurking a man who wants to have a very deep discussion with you about the reservations at the Dorsia.