How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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David Giacalone

Thanks for following-up on Lawyer King, Evan (something that I had no inclination to do). I thought it odd that Mr. King sent me an email on June 19th (after I joined you in asking him to keep his Comments on-point) saying "i do not believe i belong in the e-shame hall of imfamy. to the contrary, i believe i'm talking about some really important stuff." I had not nominated him for een-famy or e-shame, so this must have been preventive deterrence on his part.

It's interesting to learn that King is not a member of any bar, since he uses the Esq.-word so often. "J.D." might be more appropriate for someone who has a law degree but no current bar membership.

Christopher King

wait a minute, david this is what i'm talking about:

No, you're not being too harsh about Lawyer King, Evan. He's appeared at my website recently. I think I'll drop a blurb about him at f/k/a today and help him find his way into the e-shame hall of infamy.

Posted by: David Giacalone | June 14, 2005 09:07 AM

......also, I think it's clear from my website that I'm not licensed so I don't know why you are just learning that. As to the distinction between Esq. and J.D., that is oft-disputed by many legal scholars, whom I have asked. In a legal setting when writing letters to other attorneys (and Police Chiefs) I never use "Esq," only "J.D."

David Giacalone

Christopher: Yes, you are correct about "e-shaming" -- although I checked to make sure I had not done so on my weblog, I forgot that I had mentioned e-shaming at this site (cf. my recent post on "peridementia"). Please accept my embarrassed apology.

As for "Esq.": I'm concerned about the public being misled. Your using "J.D." with lawyers and authorities suggests you agree that "Esq." is troublesome and has connotations of being an attorney-at-law. It is an honorific, of course, and I wonder if a judge removed from the bench would/should continue using "Hon." when referring to himself or herself.

As far as just learning about your bar status now: The lengthy materials left in your Comments and email to me did not entice me to look for your website -- especially in order to see your film. As mentioned here yesterday on another topic, I can't chase down every invitation and yours did not make it into my priorities list.

Christopher King

Hi David,

That's cool. Oversights happen. The ESQ/JD thing is interesting...... should a former judge now simply say JD? If s/he should, then of course us mere mortals should do so as well if we are not licensed for *ANY* reason. Most experts I polled suggested making a distinction when using ESQ, as I do.

Perhaps one day the ABA will issue a bright line on it. They had already issued a bright line on surreptitious phone taping, and I was on the correct side of it in Ohio, yet still got burned.

Life it is a trip.

Late Model Saab

Chris, you are a trip. Keep it up, dude.

Obi-Wan Anonymously

Based on my experience with these types of cases, I can pretty confidently say that the extortion case is bullshit. Sending a demand letter on behalf of an organization is not extortive conduct. Moreover, if Mr. King can establish that he acted in good faith when sending the demand letter, he will walk.

If the NAACP officials knew that he wasn't licensed to practice law, but now are saying they didn't know, then those officials can be sued for libel, and perhaps civil rights violations. In some jurisdictions, a party giving false testimony (which serves as the hook for initation of the criminal process) becomes a state actor and thus is amenable to suit.

If what Mr. King says is true, then a lot of people are going to pay out a lot of money. Perhaps those NAACP officials have too long considered themselves as being cloaked with the, "If you sue me I'll play the race card" immunity. If Mr. King sues them, then that immunity will be stripped.

BUT, Mr. King is at a crossroads. A good criminal defense lawyer would focus on the narrow legal issues involved. By established that Mr. King, if anything, merely made a good faith mistake when he sent the demand letter, he will likely be acquitted. But I suspect Mr. King wants to put racism on trial.

The more I've read, the more I've concluded that Mr. King was victimized for a) his race; but mostly b) not playing ball. Had he rolled over for the State Bar, he would not have been disbarred.

Anyhow, Chris, good luck. Hire the best criminal defense lawyer you can afford, and listen to him or her. If not, the latest injustice you suffer might involve a prison cell.

Stay safe.


So is Obi-Wan posting from Mr. King's IP?

If anyone thinks "Esq." does not mean "I am a lawyer," I'd love to hear about it.

Jesse Jackson

Mr. King, call me at 717-286-9010 to discuss this. No justice, no peace!

Gwen Stefani

Chris, that sh*t's bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!!


The case to beat.

Section 637:5
637:5 Theft by Extortion. –
I. A person is guilty of theft as he obtains or exercises control over the property of another by extortion and with a purpose to deprive him thereof.
II. As used in this section, extortion occurs when a person threatens to:
(a) Cause physical harm in the future to the person threatened or to any other person or to property at any time; or
(b) Subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint; or
(c) Engage in other conduct constituting a crime; or
(d) Accuse any person of a crime or expose him to hatred, contempt or ridicule; or
(e) Reveal any information sought to be concealed by the person threatened; or
(f) Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense; or
(g) Take action as an official against anyone or anything, or withhold official action, or cause such action or withholding; or
(h) Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other similar collective action to obtain property which is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group which the actor purports to represent; or
(i) Do any other act which would not in itself substantially benefit him but which would harm substantially any other person with respect to that person's health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation, or personal relationships.
Source. 1971, 518:1, eff. Nov. 1, 1973.

Christopher King

Extorion is so amorphous it's insane. But I've never lied and I have all the documents that I say I have. This whole thing happened 3 days after I started blogging. Hmmmmm.....as Arsenio used to say.

BTW as I note on my blog, I told Jaffrey and NAACP that Mr. Toney's rights were violated irrespective of race, but the papers/TV never mention that so as to paint me as a one-trick pony. It's kinda insulting but then what else is new?

Christopher King

More on the "ESQ." thing: I read westlaw cases all the time about lawyers who are even disbarred, yet still referred to as Jim Smith, Esq. I dunno. I think once you wear the cloak you always wear the cloak, licensed or not. You just have to be clear when you're dealing with court stuff or negotiations that you're a J.D., so that's what I always make certain to do.

Sloof Lirpa

What about Bill S. Preston, Esquire (who was in Wild Stalyns with Ted Theodore Logan)? Was he a member of any bar?

Eh Nonymous

Uh, I hate to disagree with anyone as renowned in legal circles as mythago, but when I started out at a law firm, and was signing letters to clients, and hadn't yet been admitted to any state bar, they told me to use "Esq." after my name. You are an attorney at law when you graduate law school. Look it up.

You are not, of course, admitted to the state bar until you are; until that time, you should not hold yourself out to be such, lest you be committing the unauthorized practice of law to unwitting would-be clients.

If you need more specifics, go see Prof. Geoff. Hazard at Penn Law; he wrote the book on professional responsibility and he handles the tough ones.

Not that this is a tough one. Graduated law school, you're an Esq., as well as a J.D.; they are in fact coexistent. Anyone who tells you differently probably thinks that Esquire means something other than "Mister" or "Miss," or in the informal non-exact sense, "Professor" on campus.

Northern Lights

Glad we cleared that up.

Wasn't the George Clooney character in "O Brother Were Art Thou" in jail for the unauthorized practice of law?


You are an attorney at law when you graduate law school. Look it up.

Look it up where, exactly? The Uncivil Litigator?

Or, hey, how about my state's Bar web site, which has some things to say about the unauthorized practice of law:

§6126. Unauthorized Practice or Advertising as a Misdemeanor

1. Any person advertising or holding himself or herself out as practicing or entitled to practice law or otherwise practicing law who is not an active member of the State Bar, or otherwise authorized pursuant to statute or court rule to practice law in this state at the time of doing so, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in a county jail or by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

You're not an "attorney at law" when you get a J.D. If you were, there would be no need for that whole bar exam dealio. By the way, I don't know of *any* law firm that allows law clerks to put "Esq." after their names. I know that mine *does not allow* law clerks to do so--because that would be holding themselves out as attorneys. (Amusingly, we often run into opposing counsel who think it's OK to be assholes to the law clerks. They apparently haven't figured out that eventually, those law clerks will be lawyers, and in a position to...say...refuse to give extensions on court-ordered discovery.)

I don't want to dis your former firm, Eh, but I have to wonder if they were billing you at attorney rates or trying to convince people that they were getting letters from Real Lawyers and not mere law clerks.

Got any cites for those Westlaw cases, Mr. King?

Christopher King

Nope. No time for the Westlaw cases, but if anyone has time they can simply look up the disp. cases and you will see they refer to disbarred attorneys as "Esq." I would never go so far as to say, however, that a J.D., who never has passed a bar, should use "Esq." -- I never did until I sat my *ss in that chair for 3 days straight!


NEW HAMPSHIRE -- 24 June 2005

For Immediate Release

Christopher King, indicted for attempted felony extortion by a Cheshire County Grand Jury, will be issuing a press conference next week with his attorney and Willie Toney, the young black man who was handcuffed, arrested, faced three (3) drawn police-spec firearms and was body cavity searched despite the fact that he had no outstanding warrants, no drugs and only a small Swiss Army Knife in his possession.

“Mr. Toney and I have discussed this matter, and boy is he quite upset, to put it mildly. The NAACP called him in after they relieved me of my duties, ostensibly to investigate what happened in Jaffrey, yet the whole conversation dealt with me. (Jaffrey Police Chief Dunn) was present in the room the whole time.”

King says that Jaffrey Police Chief Dunn and Greater Nashua NAACP Gloria Timmons were on a fishing expedition and Toney and his significant other called King that evening to tell him about how they were twisting everything around – including the fact that Toney himself had volunteered to give the NAACP 15% of the money if his case settled. Lawyers typically charge 33%. King issued an email to that effect to the NAACP and to the City of Jaffrey’s Attorneys immediately. He has preserved such email and will share it at a time appropriate.

“Toney’s Civil Rights were violated when those 3 cops looked up his rectum and the NAACP didn’t even care. They never helped me in my case against American Tower, either in any measure. These guys are going down,” said King. “I have no room for haters in my life.”

King, an experienced but currently suspended Civil Rights/Employment Attorney notes that the indictment was handed down three (3) days after he initially posted his weblog critical of the way a case was handled by the NAACP and the town of Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

The blog is linked to Attorney King's website, which features a 15-minute video about his life, which also is running on Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts public access television throughout the month of June.


"I must be a Dangerous Black Man," said King, referring to a statement allegedly made by a Jo Ellen Mitchell, a former Vice President of American Tower Corporation about him, immediately after he demanded overtime pay in writing, citing U.S. Code. "Because everywhere I go somebody's calling the police on me." Mitchell is scheduled to stand trial in Massachusetts District Court for Defamation and unlawful overtime retaliation on 26 September, 2005.

The Department of Labor subsequently sanctioned American Tower approximately $300,000.00 after King sent Michael Mae, another fired Black man, to the Department with a note and they conducted an investigation. Mr. King may be reached at 203.845.0570 or through his email address which is on his website:


Christopher King

PS I hate to double up but there is something radiantly ironic about the fact that professors are teaching their students about a First Amendment case for which I wrote a successful Ohio Supreme Court brief back in '92:


It ain't easy being me. Not trying to be anyone's martyr but Gawl-D*mn! Repeat after me: Accidently, like a martyr....the hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder.......

David Giacalone

Methinks the (ex)Lawyer doth protEsq too much.

Doing the right thing is not merely a matter of avoiding direct violations of the Code of Ethics. One uses "Esq" -- especially when communicating with people who do not know you --to declare "Hey, I'm a lawyer, listen up."

Where I come from (as a consumer advocate and human being) you don't unnecessarily use terminology that is likely to confuse a lot of people, unless you're willing to confuse them.

Also, where I come from, other people might address correspondence to a lawyer using the honorific "Esq.", but real lawyers don't stick the damn thing on the end of their own names to impress people. In the business context, your letterhead should let addressees know whether you are a licensed attorney. In the personal context, you might use it to impress your grandma or maiden aunties, or as a joke, but you otherwise stifle the urge for this low-rent self-aggrandizement.


David, we keep missing each other's intent but I think at a bar, at a ballgame, game of pool or poetry slam, whatever we would get on just fine.

Anyway, so now let's return to the case-at-bar: "Esq." never was used. Now then leaving the case-at-bar, in terms of whether it means "I'm a licensed lawyer so listen up," or whether it means "I'm a lawyer who has practiced or obtained the ability to pratice" so listen up, that's fine, too. Oddly, I have used J.D. alot and what I get is "what's that mean?" "Oh it means 'juris doctor'" "Huh? you're also a doctor of what?" "Jurisprudence." "Sounds like a ten-dollar lawyer word to me....." So instead I use "Esq." on most things and freely note that I am not licensed or practicing. I do give it a lot of thought.

A query: If and when I decide to obtain my license in Ohio again, but don't use it in Ohio or anywhere else, should I should say "J.D.?"



I found this remark to be quite bizarre:

"The NAACP does not litigate, or threaten to sue any party, Levesque said."

What does it mean?

Christopher King

Well first of all, it's false. The NAACP has been involved in litigation frequently but they are getting away from individual cases. She is saying that all NAACP does is refer, which I attempted to do but most lawyers I called were like "where's his bodily damages?" as if that is the gravamen of anything. Sheezlouise.

The instruction manual says I had a duty to investigate. The truth is, it was a great big grey area. Levesque is lying her *ss off, though: My bi-weekly updates, orally and in email, spoke of the $65K demand letter. Mr. Toney is going to join my lawyers and me at a post arraignment press conference on Wed. I hear they were shocked when my lawyer called them. He's rather high-powered and well-connected and a great great guy and not down with this b*llsh*t.

Gwen Stefani

Let's all applaud Chris King--the most entertaining poster in the world. What a circus of a life! Fight the power, C.!


nd what I get is "what's that mean?" "Oh it means 'juris doctor'"

I just tell people it means I got a law degree. Guess I only use five-dollar lawyer words.

David, I can think of one exception to self-Esq.'ing. When I volunteered at a law clinic, we lawyers were told to put "Esq." on letter closings--because our clients liked it. They were indigent, and most would never earn enough in their lives to hire a lawyer, and it was important to them to see that, yes, an honest-to-jimminy lawyer was addressing them about their case.

Christopher King

thanks, gwen, i really love my blog now. don't even ask the inception for some of those images i really couldn't say.....i think my favorites are...well....i can't say. maybe the devil one for american tower, or marcus garvey and malcolm for "dangerous black man" and "really disturbed individual" or a leaping mcenroe. or.....

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