Railing Against Rakofsky

May 21, 2011
/ Author: Rick

I’ve never been a fan of the draft. I’m a big fan of friends, though. And apparently some of my friends are calling me out for not having blogged about the latest poster-child for…what? I don’t know what I really think Rakofsky is a poster-child for.

Nevertheless, I submit to the draft, if for no other reason than to assure my friends that I do, actually, stand with them on Rakofsky.

Frankly, there are two reasons I haven’t blogged about Rakofsky previously. One is that by the time I started thinking about doing so, there were already so many other posts written by other bloggers that I didn’t really think I had much to add. For that same reason, I’m not going to waste space here giving detailed answers to questions you might have, like:

  • Who is Rakofsky?
  • What did Rakofsky do?
  • Why should I care about Rakofsky?

For answers to those questions, refer to articles listed in Mark Bennett’s compendium of blog articles about Rakofsky online.

Not-too-distantly related to my first reason for not jumping on the Rakofsky bandwagon is the second reason.

My second reason for not jumping into the Rakofsky fray is that I did not see — I do not see — Rakofsky as all that much of an anomaly. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I’m undeserving of the kind things people have said about my abilities with understanding and analysis. (Actually, I’ve always had a tendency to wonder about that. This should not be taken to mean that I don’t believe I have some such abilities — just that I don’t think I have them in the abundance that others sometimes credit to me.)

No doubt people will say I just haven’t dug deeply enough into the story. They may be right. But the truth of the matter is that the Rakofsky story bores me. And while it has become mildly more interesting since he started suing the world — collectively, in various configurations, and individually — I fully expect the lawsuit to fizzle and sink — no, I take that back: to sink and be flushed, like so much other shit is. (Because one thing is for sure: Rakofsky is not a floater; he makes every effort to go down, down, down.)

As Eric Mayer — author of Military Underdog, unwashed advocate and fellow bike-lover — put it in “The Rakofsky 74” (update 6/2016: apparently the author removed this article; nowhere to be found on Internet now):

Frankly, my opinion and perspective on this amazingly frivolous case is best explained through one of my favorite jokes.

Know what the white stuff is in bird shit?
(target typically responds with “No, what is it?”)
That’s also bird shit.

The Rakofsky 74, incidentally, apparently refers to the number of parties — companies, individuals, blog pages (called “unincorporated associations”) — who were then being sued. The number appears to be growing with each new company, individual, or blog page that says anything about Rakofsky, which lead Scott Greenfield to dub the case Rakofsky v. Internet, Antonin I. Pribetic to discover The Rakofsky Effect, and Nathaniel Burney beat me to the one thing I thought I might have to add, thus ensuring that (until now) I would not write about Rakofsky.

Make no mistake, when I first read the Rakofsky story — which I think happened even before he was silly enough to post his now-infamous Facebook update — I was horrified. I was, however, no more horrifed than the day I stood in the lobby of the Kings County Superior Court in Hanford, California, and watched an attorney who I knew had been practicing for decades, as he assembled the people to whose cases he had been appointed and, en masse, began to advise them concerning their cases and telling them how those cases were going to resolve.

In front of everybody.

Like it was normal.

I am no more horrified by Rakofsky than I am by another attorney practicing in Hanford who advised her client to plead guilty to something he probably did not do and did not understand — something, in fact, he could not understand, because of his PTSD and other not-so-latent mental problems. (There are people working to get this fixed now, but it may be too late.)

All I have to do to be horrified anew is to sit through a couple of hours in court. Almost any court. There is no shortage of attorneys failing, for various reasons, to adequately represent their clients. In my opinion, Rakofsky is just the latest in that long and disreputable line.

“No! No! No!,” I can already hear Scott, Brian and perhaps a number of others already screaming. Rakofsky is different!

How? Because he’s part of the slackoisie? Because he promotes, or apparently, promoted the hell out of himself on the Internet?

Do guns kill people?

While it may be true that Rakofsky’s “website breaks nearly every advertising rule in the book” — or did when it existed — the fact of the matter is that Rakofsky did not obtain his client via the Internet. 

At least a couple of people have said that “Rakofsky’s name is bound to become synonymous with a form of ineffective assistance of counsel depending upon the predilections of the person assigning the label.” I’m not sure what the qualifiers in that statement mean and I agree with those who hope law schools will put Rakofsky’s case in their professional responsibility materials.

One thing, though, is for sure: Rakofsky doesn’t know as much about self-promotion as some thought.

Let me close by clarifying this one point: I don’t bemoan those railing against Rakofsky. But Rakofsky is just one of many lawyers practicing today who are harming their clients. What I want to see is more judges reacting those attorneys the way the Judge William Jackson reacted to Rakofsky.

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  1. Which was, as I recall (I’m not inclined to go back and read it again) really my original point. The sad thing is that there are too many bad lawyers, in over their heads because of inexperience or incompetence or laziness or lack of interest but who are all about getting business. And we (by which I don’t mean you and I and lots of really committed lawyers and the serious blawggers but by which I mean the legal system) act as enablers.

    In Dontrell Deaner’s case, the judge called out the lawyer (Rakofsky). It should happen more. Instead, we have these tests of effective assistance of counsel that essentially amount to holding a mirror in front of the lawyer’s nose to see if it fogs up.

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