Doughboy with a Sword


            There is a school of thought that holds there is no such thing as bad publicity for trial lawyers. Thus all manner of lawyers blog, tweet, and otherwise dive in front of any media that will get their name in print. But how low will a lawyer go to capture the front page of the New York Post?

            We just found out today, courtesy of a Staten Island media hound named Richard Luthmann.

            The 35-year-old Staten Island lawyer posed for the post, with sword raised in one hand, and a shield on the other. “Knight Court,” the headline screams. “S.I. lawyer demands trial by combat.” In the lower righthand corner of the page is a mug of the diminutive imp,  Tyrion Lannister, from the hit series “Game of Thrones.”           

            What sort of lawyer wants this sort of publicity?

            It turns out a losing lawyer.

            Luthmann represented the losing side in a dispute between two investment firms. His client got whacked with a $500,000 judgment. When the client disappeared, the other side accused Luthmann of helped his client hide assets.

            I can understand Luthmann taking umbrage over the charges of engaging in fraudulent conduct.

            But filing a pleading in the State Island Supreme Court demanding trial by combat? And the mugging for the Post about it? Has Luthmann given up on the practice of law? Do they sanction frivolous pleadings in New York?

            He cloaks his claim in English common law, claiming that a little used right to trial by combat existed at common law at the time of the founding. What’s more, he contends, the Ninth Amendment reserves this right to the people. He wants no more than his due, he told the Post.

            Or simply to have the case dismissed.

            Clearly, the Post loves the show. A breathless writer contends that the portly litigator bears a passing resemblance to Ser Gregor Clegane, the burly warrior with a fire-scarred face from Game of Thrones.

            Huh. Clegane is big and battle tested. Luthmann is plump and soft. Imagine the Pillsbury Doughboy in a pinstriped suit and red bow tie.

            I’m generally the last person to snipe at another for bold self-assertion. But there is a limit. Richard Luthmann looks less like a bold litigator than a bad joke at the expense of all lawyers.

            For his sake, I hope there is nothing to the accusation that he helped a client hide assets. If he did, he has no business practicing law. Perhaps he no longer wants to practice.

His cover shot on the Post makes him a laughing stock fit for Hollywood, not a courtroom.

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