Friday, February 1

Devil's Advocate

With the Sonics headed to court this June (not that court, or, sadly, that court, but this court), anyone who ever rooted for this team has a vested interest in seeing how the scenario unfolds.

One important aspect of the case will be the folks doing the talking – the lawyers. Everyone knows about Slade Gorton and the group of folks the city will employ, but what about Clay Bennett’s cadre of hired guns? Who dey?

Byrnes and Keller LLP, that’s who. Who is Byrnes and Keller? Well, here is one biography of the famed litigators:

... best known for its products liability work, particularly tobacco defense. The group is “the epitome of the hard-working hired gun of the litigation boutique, the kind of firm that you go to if you are in a lot of trouble and you need determined and passionate advocates.”
You read that right. Clay Bennett, not satisfied with being known as the most evil man in the Evergreen State, went and hired a group of lawyers best known for defending tobacco companies. Even on their own website BK minces no words, explaining how it not only vigorously defended tobacco companies, but pharmaceutical companies and (alleged) securities fraud artists.

Hey, I’m not so naive as to think that firms such as Byrnes and Keller are the devil. They obviously fill a need in our legal system in defending people the rest of us despise. And it makes sense for Bennett to hire the best defender he can to argue his case.

But before I get too friendly about the situation, let me shed some light on another case. Toure Butler, a former football player at the University of Washington. Butler, from Cascade HS in Everett, suffered from a learning disability, causing him to struggle in school. Eventually, his school came up with a way to teach him more effectively, enabling him to graduate.

Butler, an exceptional football player coveted by the University of Washington, was offered a full scholarship upon graduation. Great, right?

Wrong. The NCAA determined that because Butler did not take what they deemed “core” classes in school they would revoke his scholarship.

In other words, a fellow who passed all the aptitude tests, graduated from high school, and gained admittance to university was kicked out because his learning disability required him to learn differently than other students.

Obviously, the state of Washington and Mr. Butler thought this to be a gross miscarriage of justice, and they sued the NCAA, claiming that it had violated the American Disabilities Act. The suit was successful, eventually, in that it forced the NCAA to re-evaluate its arcane and depraved rules regarding situations such as Butler’s. Eventually, Butler attended school, played for the football team, and put the pigheadedness of the NCAA behind him.

Oh, right, the attorneys the NCAA called upon when they needed help defending their scum-infested position? You guessed it, Byrnes and Keller LLP.

Tobacco companies, the NCAA, the pharmaceutical industry, Clay Bennett. Sounds about right.


chunkstyle23 said...

Fan-freakin-tastic piece, Peter. I stood up and applauded like I was a jock at the end of the movie "Lucas." Good stuff.

Eric Reynolds said...

This just gets better and better. What's next? Bennett gets engaged to Cruella De Ville? Hiring David Duke as the new team spokesperson? Team Ombudsman Gordon Gekko?

Mr Baker said...

I guess Bennett could have gone one better and hired the lawyer that won against tobacco with the Master Settlement Agreement, but that lawyer is busy being the Governor of Washington State, Chris Gregoire. She would rather have the Sonics stay in Washington State.
I like the home team in this game.
Republican icon, Slade Gordon, he has done this before.
Democratic Governor of the state where the largest city is taking Bennett to court to keep the team AND recover all court costs.
Sue him with his own money, and keep the team, that is a plan anybody not in league with Satan can get behind.

Steve said...

Love ur blog. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Mr Nussbaum: I hope this is your statement that proves that A) Clay Bennett does nothing except prove his ass-clownery, and B) that the team has a punchers chance of sticking around.

I have a feeling this all-star game will provide the impetus to allow the Hornets to leave for OKC & stay there.