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Lawyer Offers $1M For Proof His Client Could Have Done It; Oops

samzenpus posted about 5 years ago | from the choose-your-words-carefully dept.

The Almighty Buck 362

A Florida attorney, Cheney Mason, made the mistake of offering a million dollars on a TV show to anyone who could prove that his client, Nelson Ivan Serrano, was able to travel across two states and kill four people in the time that prosecutors had alleged. Having a lot of free time, South Texas College of Law graduate Dustin Kolodziej decided to take Mason up on his dare. Dustin traveled the route prosecutors say Serrano took, completed the trip under the time allowed, and videotaped the whole process. He is now suing Mason in the federal district court — because the attorney doesn't want to pay, saying that his statement was just a joke.

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362 comments

Technically.. (3, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 5 years ago | (#28712813)

Technically, all that was proven was that this Kolodziej kid was able to traverse a distance in a given period of time, not that anyone else, least of all the defendant, was able to do the same. Plus, as far as we know, Kolodzeij did not need to take time out in order to kill anyone.

I may not be a fancy big New York Country Lawyer or anything, but it seems to me that this guy doesn't really have a case. Plus, everyone knows you're not supposed to believe anything until its been posted on at least two different blogs. TV just isn't a reliable source of information anymore.

Re:Technically.. (5, Interesting)

Weedhopper (168515) | about 5 years ago | (#28713153)

Huh? Who gives a flying flip about the trial?

I want the LAWYER to get a lesson in unilateral contracts from the law student. That's what makes this interesting. I couldn't give two hoots about the guilt of the lawyer's client.

Re:Technically.. (4, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about 5 years ago | (#28713173)

"I may not be a fancy big New York Country Lawyer or anything,"

The lawyer wasn't a big New York Country Lawyer either.

There's a /reason/ why Fark has a Florida tag.

--
BMO

Re:Technically.. (1)

tyrione (134248) | about 5 years ago | (#28713693)

"I may not be a fancy big New York Country Lawyer or anything,"

The lawyer wasn't a big New York Country Lawyer either.

There's a /reason/ why Fark has a Florida tag.

-- BMO

What is this big New York Country Lawyer thing we keep talking about? City, yes. Country, no.

Re:Technically.. (4, Funny)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#28713835)

This is the guy [slashdot.org]

you must be new here :)

Re:Technically.. (4, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#28713357)

Plus, everyone knows you're not supposed to believe anything until its been posted on at least two different blogs. TV just isn't a reliable source of information anymore.

Internets killed the video star, I see. :P

Re:Technically.. (5, Informative)

fredmosby (545378) | about 5 years ago | (#28713409)

According to this article [abovethelaw.com] the actual statement made by the lawyer was:

Mason: I challenge anybody to show me, I'll pay them a million dollars if they can do it.
Murphy: If they can do it in the time alloted?
Mason: 28 minutes. Can't happen. Didn't happen.

He wasn't going to pay a million dollars for proof that his client was guilty. He was going to pay a million dollars for proof that someone can go from the the Atlanta airport to the hotel where his client was seen on video in 28 minutes. Which this law student apparently did.

Re:Technically.. (1)

Andy_R (114137) | about 5 years ago | (#28713483)

That wording doesn't say there is only 1 prize. If the court decides to award this guy his million, it could concievably award other millions to subsequent proofs. It's a long shot, but if I lived locally I'd consider gambling an hour of time, gas and videotape against the chance of a million dollar payout.

Re:Technically.. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#28713949)

And that is a bad thing? At least it will teach people not to make void promises in public. On TV, for Buddha's sake.

Re:Technically.. (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 5 years ago | (#28713709)

So did the Kolodzeij kid actually kill four people? If he didn't, he hasn't proven anything. He needs to go back and do it again if he wants the million bucks.

Re:Technically.. (4, Interesting)

thej1nx (763573) | about 5 years ago | (#28714039)

Unfortunately, the lawyer cannot use that excuse either.

He will make the situation worse for himself, since he will be guilty of incitement of crime. Offering to pay people to commit murder is also illegal the last time I checked. If he actually uses that excuse, he will then simply avoiding paying the one million, only to be arrested and sent to jail for conspiracy to murder. Especially if some nutcase actually did go and commit the murders, just to take him up on his dare. Which in America, seems a bit more likely than other places, in my opinion.

Any particular reason why you are so keen on finding excuses for the lawyer to weasel out of his promise?

There are a number of such public challenges made. Ansari X comes to mind. There are various individuals who invest significant effort, time and money based on the promise of the award. The person/organizations making the promise are not allowed to weasel out later and renege on their promise, causing severe damage to those who invested significant money completing the challenge, based on the promise. He didn't state it was a joke. He was not on a comedy show. He had not been asked to make a joke. Until the challenge had actually been completed, he had full rights to even publicly withdraw it. He did not do so. So he is legally obliged to pay.

The lawyer is being just a weasel, based on his obvious advantage of not requiring to hire a lawyer to defend himself. His legal expenses in defending himself will be significantly less than the other guy.

There is a reason why L-A-W-Y-E-R sounds like L-I-A-R.

sanctions? (5, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 5 years ago | (#28712815)

He should be disbarred for offering a reward to anyone who helps strengthen the case AGAINST his client.

Re:sanctions? (1)

gnick (1211984) | about 5 years ago | (#28713019)

OK, on the surface that seems like the right sentiment.

But the lawyer's job isn't to convince the public that his client is right, it's to persuade the jury to release him. If making some irresponsible public statement to garner press, no matter how immoral, inappropriate, unethical, or just seemingly stupid it might be, if it helps his client he's doing his job. Even if he's pulling a publicity stunt that no juror should know about (but may affect the outcome) he's doing his job.

Maybe I'm just jaded, but what a world...

Re:sanctions? (1)

dynamo (6127) | about 5 years ago | (#28713807)

BUT - It didn't help his client. If I were his client in this situation, I'd probably be pretty pissed off. Especially about having my lawyer "joking" about the case and the chances that I might have killed four people.

I'm not sure he should be disbarred for the dare, that might theoretically have been helpful to the client, if no one responded. Calling it a joke though, um, is not funny.

Re:sanctions? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 years ago | (#28713853)

    Welcome to the modern legal system, and widespread tainting of the jury pool. If your case is big enough, everyone will know about it and have an opinion before it ever makes it to jury selection.

    Look at the O.J. Simpson cases. He didn't have a prayer for an impartial jury. I'm not arguing the merits of the case, or innocence or guilt. It was splattered all over the news, so by the time it made it to court, it was virtually impossible to find someone who hadn't heard of the case at least to some degree.

    Potential jurors aren't eliminated only on if they have heard information on the case. I was rejected as a juror once because I had gone through law enforcement school, even though I had not worked in the field yet. The defense tossed me immediately, even though he asked "Do you think your training has given you a better understanding of the law than a common person?" I answered "no sir.", because I don't know what the common person knows. :) I probably understand the law better than the average schmuck on the street, but I know much less than professionals in that field. I only said "no", since they were just looking for yes/no answers. Now I'm an information whore, so if I were asked, I'd probably already know something about the case in question, which one or both sides would want me rejected.

Re:sanctions? (3, Informative)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | about 5 years ago | (#28713917)

But the lawyer's job isn't to convince the public that his client is right, it's to persuade the jury to release him.

But this did the exact opposite, as it turns out; if the Defense is based on the impossibility of the timing provided by the Prosecution, the Defense Attorney has essentially provided a reward to give the Prosecution evidence against his own defensive theory, therefore harming his client and possibly condemning him to a jail sentence (guilt or innocence aside, depending on the basis of the Defense). So far as I've seen, it is a violation of various ethics standards for a lawyer on either side to, more or less, tank their own case, jokingly or not--in the end, if pressed, I'm sure in trial or appeal or a new trial altogether, the party who proved the possibility could end up deposed or on the stand for the prosecution. It's not necessarily a disbarment issue, but censure or other action, definitely is warranted, this particular instance in NO WAY helped his client.

Sanctions? Whoa, cowboy! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#28714043)

So far as I've seen, it is a violation of various ethics standards for a lawyer

I see what you did!

Re:sanctions? (2, Interesting)

ebonum (830686) | about 5 years ago | (#28713105)

Good point. I would love to hear what the Florida State Bar Association has to say. He did offer to pay for research that could help the prosecution.

I don't see any positive comments here on Slashdot. We should all look on the bright side. The more time lawyers spend fighting each other, the better the odds for a peaceful and harmonious society. :)

Re:sanctions? I can just see the judge now... (1)

davidsyes (765062) | about 5 years ago | (#28713261)

In his chambers, censuring the daring counsel, threatening him with disbarment (if not dismemberment, hehehe):

"You're more of a Cheney than a Mason. You should have tuned your open source defence more like MANdrake, not DRAKE man, and you'll be on the STREET because didn't ask DELLA to do the drive. You are APAULING, counsel. THIS very well could be YOUR D-Day. Your ass may be BURGER, you HAMfisted TON of Grade D daring.

(Thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Mason [wikipedia.org] i was able to cobble together some of my twisty humour...)

Re:sanctions? I can just see the judge now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713497)

Lame.

Re:sanctions? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#28713773)

He thought he was going to be able to say that he offered $1m for evidence and nobody took him up on it because it was impossible.

Re:sanctions? (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#28713997)

What he didn't think of is that with the current recession, people have a lot of time on their hands and, hey, a million is a million. And appearantly at least one person thought (rightfully) that it is not impossible.

Dishonest lawyer (0, Troll)

stryyker (573921) | about 5 years ago | (#28712827)

Wow, a lawyer not up to his word. Trying to weasel out of it by saying it was a joke. I hope Cheney Mason loses. It'll probably be the only way anyone will get justice against anyone with Cheney in their name.

Re:Dishonest lawyer (0, Troll)

GaryPatterson (852699) | about 5 years ago | (#28712899)

[republican goon] Take him over to Cheney's land, for a bit of deer hunting... [/republican goon]

Re:Dishonest lawyer (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28712907)

ROFL ROFL!! That is SO funny and SO fresh. lol *wiping tears from eyes*

Will jokes about past vice presidents ever grow old?? We can only hope not, else would miss hilarious gems like this one!

Re:Dishonest lawyer (0, Offtopic)

Silicon Jedi (878120) | about 5 years ago | (#28713239)

Al Gore says he invented the internet. Potatoe.

Re:Dishonest lawyer (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 5 years ago | (#28713801)

Potatoe, potato.

Re:Dishonest lawyer (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#28713963)

Wow, did he really? Where? I must have missed this one.

Re:Dishonest lawyer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713021)

[democrat goon] Tax him! Then take everything he owns away from him! He's too stupid (like everyone but us democrats) and doesn't need anything! He should only rely on us to think for him! [/democrat goon]

Re:Dishonest lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713369)

Frankly, that sounds a lot like both parties.

Re:Dishonest lawyer (2, Interesting)

GaryPatterson (852699) | about 5 years ago | (#28713503)

I'm not even American, nor have I ever been there, but I reckon that if you can't find the humour in Dick Cheney shooting his friend, mistaking him for a deer (or was it a duck), then there's something wrong.

Maybe I should post AC when I throw in a silly comment. Some of you guys are far too serious.

Pepsi points (5, Informative)

canadian_right (410687) | about 5 years ago | (#28712831)

Reminds me of the Pepsi Points Case [wikipedia.org] where someone tried to get Pepsi to hand over a Harrier Jet in return for Pepsi points during a contest. Pepsi won that case.

Re:Pepsi points (1)

eosp (885380) | about 5 years ago | (#28712855)

What the reasonable person would think here depends on the income that this attorney pulls in.

Re:Pepsi points (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 5 years ago | (#28712931)

Yeah, but this might fail outright on count three from that case--if the amount is large enough a verbal agreement doesn't cut it (IANAL, I don't know the relevant dividing amount)

Re:Pepsi points (5, Interesting)

aitikin (909209) | about 5 years ago | (#28713145)

Yes, but a legal entity, such as a lawyer, making a statement such as this one on public TV is much different than an advertisement, which can hardly (especially in this country), if ever, be taken seriously.

My law professor gave the example that if I said, "I'll give anyone who climbs the flagpole naked 1000 bucks," and they don't do it, I'm in the clear. IF they do, I'm screwed out of 1000 bucks because I made a public statement that a number of people witnessed. Even if they start up and I tell everyone, the person climbing included, that I won't follow through, they can sue me and win for the verbal contracted initiated.

IANAL and not studying to be one, just taking a couple law classes cause they're interesting.

Re:Pepsi points (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#28713977)

Well, I would climb the pole and then ask for the naked 1000 bucks.

Re:Pepsi points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713329)

IANAL, but generally the Statute of Frauds only cares about dollar amount if it is for a sale of goods. This looks like a service contract.

Re:Pepsi points (1)

swillden (191260) | about 5 years ago | (#28713195)

He was a bigshot lawyer on tee vee. 'Course he's got millions.

Re:Pepsi points (1)

scrib (1277042) | about 5 years ago | (#28713485)

Haven't you heard? "Billion" is the new "million."
I don't think million dollar offers fall into the obvious "joke" category any more. James Randi Educational Foundation is offering $1million [randi.org] just for proving some slight paranormal claims. I knew a guy who won a million dollars for hitting a hole in one. Promotions like that are insured and JREF has a financial statement to back it up.

If you can imagine the lawyer telling the jury "my client and I offered a million dollars to anyone who could do what the prosecution claims my client did, but no one claimed it because it is impossible" then you have to think it reasonable that he meant it. If he was joking or speaking in hyperbole, he should have known to say "billion."

The Harrier Jet cost an order of magnitude or two more than the purchase price of the Pepsi Points and was in a commercial aimed at children. It was a fun case to discuss in my only semester of law school before I wised up and went back to computers. As much as it breaks my heart, I do think the attorney will win the case on the grounds that it wasn't a real offer.

Re:Pepsi points (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 years ago | (#28713929)

    Unfortunately, you're probably right. He'll get off without paying, even though it incurred expenses by the person who did prove it for him. Maybe the final judgment will be for expenses plus damages for the implied but not reasonable offer.

    As for the Pepsi Harrier case, I thought there was a slightly happier ending, but I can't find anything online about that part. I could swear that for the sake of PR, they give him something nice. Maybe I'm just remembering it wrong.

Re:Pepsi points (3, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 years ago | (#28713825)

    That really was the justification of not needing to give away a Harrier. It was an unreasonable belief that Pepsi would give away a military aircraft, which made it a parody.

    On the other hand, a lawyer requesting an expert witness prove something, and making an open offer is not. If a lawyer said "I'll give a million dollars to the first person who can do X" is requesting that someone do that. The actual quote was "I challenge anybody to show me, I'll pay them a million dollars if they can do it,". It is reasonable to believe cash can be given by a lawyer. A million dollars is a lot, but still not an unreasonable sum. A military aircraft on the other hand doesn't usually fall into civilian hands, which made it an unreasonable assertion. :) Likewise, if someone says they'd part with a body part for something, more than likely that is an unreasonable assertion. I've heard people say it, but I have yet to see someone pay with a body part. :)

    What the lawyer did is right along the lines of an open monetary reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of particular criminals, or finding someone's lost [something], regardless if the something could be a dog, cat, watch, or child. I don't know too many people who would, on the safe return of a kidnapping victim, would really push for the reward money, but it's likely some people would. Personally, if I had information on a crime, and a reward was being given, I'd tell them to keep their money. A "thank you" and even a handshake would be nice, but that's all the reward I'd ever expect.

    That's what the article was reinforcing anyways. It was a reasonable assertion. Now he just knows he's really on the losing side of the battle.

    In doing more reading on it, the 10 hour window is really possible. As it seems to have played out, he flew from ATL to ORL, took the rental car, killed the victims, drove to TPA, and flew from TPA to ATL, so he could be in his hotel. Two false names, and the car was rented by a 3rd party to cover things up. He obviously wouldn't have driven the entire route (ATL to ORL and back), as that would be over 16 hours on the road, or only possibly 12 if he drove fast. That would run him into other problems, as a single traffic ticket would be his doom. He could have picked other airports, or even chartered a plane, but those would have been more suspicious. The three airports used are well traveled, so a couple odd tickets wouldn't really be noticed. Well, he hoped. The lawyer was just being stupid, and trying to reaffirm in the public's mind that his client couldn't possibly be guilty. He just really screwed up by doing it in such a way.

Re:Pepsi points (3, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#28714045)

The main point in that case was that it cannot be assumed by any reasonable person that they would give away a jet worth multiple million dollars for an amount of redeemable points that would not generate them even a percent of that cost. You might assume it if it is some lottery or game system where you additionally either have to have a lot of luck or have to accomplish some other feat... And all that provided that civilians may own military hardware where you live.

It's not so unreasonable to assume a lawyer would offer a prize to someone who can prove something (or, in this case, would incite people to try and fail to prove the opposite). The ethics is questionable (he might have been required to go a wee bit over the speed limit or drive recklessly, thus endangering people while trying to prove the point), but I wouldn't rule it out to be believable.

You can sue a liar for lying? (4, Funny)

fictionpuss (1136565) | about 5 years ago | (#28712837)

Should make politics more interesting. Who is in with me for a few class-action suits? $1 a share, excellent ROI.

Re:You can sue a liar for lying? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28712985)

He's not suing for lying, he's suing for the promised goods.

Take "read my lips: no new taxes", for example. You'd sue George H. W. Bush for the amount of the new taxes you payed, not for the act of lying.

Lack of standing (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 5 years ago | (#28712861)

He can sue for false advertising. If the guy had made this offer in court, or as part of a contractual obligation, it would be a different story.

Re:Lack of standing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713063)

An advertisement is not an offer....

An advertisement is not an offer.... (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 5 years ago | (#28713341)

OK, corrected sentence:

If the guy had made an offer in court, or as part of a contractual obligation, it would be a different story.

Re:Lack of standing (1)

thesp (307649) | about 5 years ago | (#28713739)

Carbolic Smoke Ball [wikipedia.org] says otherwise...

"The case concerned a flu remedy. The manufacturer advertised that buyers who found it did not work would be rewarded £100, a considerable amount of money at the time. The company was found to have been bound by its advertisement, because a contract was formed. The Court of Appeal held the essential elements of a contract were all present, including an offer, acceptance, consideration and an intention to create legal relations."

I believe that it has some precedential value in the US.

Re:Lack of standing (2, Interesting)

iserlohn (49556) | about 5 years ago | (#28713903)

Unilateral contracts are distinguished by three points - 1. A specific reward or payment to a group of persons or the wider public, 2. for a particular action from the offeree which will form acceptance and performance, 3. and with the intention to create legal relations.

In this case, the intention of the parties is the most important part for the courts to consider. In Carlill v. Carbolic, the offerer specifically stated that money was deposited with a bank for the reward. This action indicated to the courts that the intention to pay was present, even if this action was only to erect an illusion of intention, it is enough to satisfy that point in law.

It is entirely predictable in this case for Mason to argue that the offer was not serious with no real intention to create legal relations. This is the same argument made by Carbolic in the landmark case. However, what Kolodziej has in front of him now is to prove that Mason's action on TV amounted is serious. This is plausible. One line of attack he can use is that Mason made his comments on Dateline, as opposed to something like Jerry Springer. It really depends on how the arguments are made, and how the judge decides given the facts and arguments.

Re:Lack of standing (2, Informative)

julesh (229690) | about 5 years ago | (#28713663)

He can sue for false advertising. If the guy had made this offer in court, or as part of a contractual obligation, it would be a different story.

Bullshit. See 'unilateral contract' and the Carlil v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co Ltd case, which has been accepted as precedent by US courts despite being a UK case. This isn't advertising, it's an offer to form a contract which was accepted when somebody performed the task he was asking for.

Contracat ? (2, Informative)

Tiger4 (840741) | about 5 years ago | (#28712863)

Offer and clear terms, acceptance and proof of performance. Seems like payment is next in order.

Re:Contracat ? (5, Funny)

icebike (68054) | about 5 years ago | (#28712999)

Nope.

Dustin Kolodziej did not kill four people.

Contract not fulfilled.

Re:Contracat ? (1, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | about 5 years ago | (#28713045)

Proof of performance? From my intimate knowledge of this case based on the headline, the necessary performance was to prove guilt - Not to accomplish a road race. Making stops to kill people takes much longer than stopping for potty breaks or tossing Gatorade bottles out of the car.

Of course, I could be putting too much faith into the headline...

Re:Contracat ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713231)

Here's a link with more details...

Times Online - Weird Cases: deal or no deal? [typepad.com]

It seems that Cheney Mason (the mouthy lawyer) claimed it wasn't possible for his client to kill people in Atlanta at 5:20 pm and then appear on closed circuit TV at a hotel in Atlanta at 10 PM.

FTA:

Mason also declared it was impossible for anyone to disembark from an aircraft in Atlanta airport and get to the hotel five miles away in less than 28 minutes. He then said "I challenge anybody to show me, I'll pay them a million dollars if they can do it."

Apparently the earnest young law student managed to do just that. He flew from Orlando to Atlanta, and then (in under 28 minutes) made the final leg of the trip from the airplane at the gate to the hotel.

I'd love to see the court make Mister Mouthy Lawyer put his money where his mouth is.

Re:Contracat ? (1)

bladesjester (774793) | about 5 years ago | (#28713391)

Making stops to kill people takes much longer than stopping for potty breaks or tossing Gatorade bottles out of the car.

Not really. People are rather fragile. It doesn't take a lot to kill someone in all honesty.

What takes time is hiding the evidence. If you just want someone dead and don't care who finds the body, you can do it in a couple of minutes (and that's for opening an artery or two and letting them bleed out. Certain other ways can be even faster).

Re:Contracat ? (3, Funny)

zsau (266209) | about 5 years ago | (#28713441)

And given your sig, I would trust you on this one...

Re:Contracat ? (1)

martas (1439879) | about 5 years ago | (#28713691)

bullet + brains = segfault. can't get much faster than that.

Re:Contracat ? (1)

bladesjester (774793) | about 5 years ago | (#28713941)

As I said, some ways are faster. However, the problem with guns tends to be the noise. It's one thing to not care who finds the body, but most people, I would think, would generally want to be somewhere else when the body is found.

Sure, you can make a single use silencer, but that adds other difficulties (prep time, actually knowing/learning how to do it, etc etc etc)

Re:Contracat ? (3, Funny)

martas (1439879) | about 5 years ago | (#28714025)

i see you've put quite a bit of thought into this. maybe we should meet up to, you know, compare notes? we might make more progress working together...

Re:Contracat ? (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | about 5 years ago | (#28713473)

No, that's not how it works. He was obviously not being serious in his offer, and this case will get tossed out of court. Just because someone says something like that doesn't mean it's an enforceable contract. It's obvious that he was stating his opinion as to the ability of one to make the trip in the allotted time, not offering anyone a million dollars.

Re:Contracat ? (1)

dotgain (630123) | about 5 years ago | (#28713877)

Fair enough, but one would hope their Lawyer would have a better way with words than "bet you a million bucks"

Re:Contracat ? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#28714061)

Obviously?

He's a judge. He wants to prove his client is innocent. I wouldn't call it "obviously a joke" when he offers a prize to anybody able to prove his point. Or, in this case, offers a prize to incite people to try and fail.

His problem is just that someone tried and didn't fail.

Re:Contracat ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713487)

No offer existed, you need a specific offeree.

I welcome our new contracat overlords (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 5 years ago | (#28713665)

It might have been a "contra-cat" but it wasn't a contract except under the terms of Slashdot law.

Take it from me- I've been making money this way for years, and I always have my attorney review televised dares before I go bolting across state lines.

Re:Contracat ? (1)

martas (1439879) | about 5 years ago | (#28713677)

even so, what do you think would happen if i went on tv and offered 1 trillion dollars to anyone who can spit in a jar? if he proves that it was unreasonable to assume that he wasn't joking, i think he's off the hook (sorry for the double negative).

Laywers. Ugh! (2, Insightful)

longbot (789962) | about 5 years ago | (#28712867)

As a lawyer, shouldn't this douchebag know better than to grandstand and make promises like that?

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (4, Funny)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 5 years ago | (#28712933)

No.

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 5 years ago | (#28713171)

Free speech can work for you and against [wikipedia.org] you. Lawyers and judges are only men and women who are able to rationalize their biases through verbosity because they slogged it out through law school and then lived in a place where everybody agreed with their decisions until they gained consierable power.

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | about 5 years ago | (#28713509)

Grandstanding does not an enforceable contract make. No reasonable person would have thought he would actually pay someone a million dollars, and the reasonable person standard is what will be used in this case.

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (1)

longbot (789962) | about 5 years ago | (#28713579)

If it's coming from someone with a background in law, I'd certainly expect them to understand it may be taken that way by people. It's one thing to use theatrics in a person-to-person discussion, but saying something like that on TV certainly gives the indication that he'd follow through to most reasonable people, myself included.

At the very least, this should be used as evidence against his client.

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (2)

qc_dk (734452) | about 5 years ago | (#28713935)

Wouldn't the fact that you believed something because it happened on TV be an indicator that you are, in fact, not a reasonable person?

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (1)

longbot (789962) | about 5 years ago | (#28713961)

So, you're implying that anyone who takes the news as anything close to the truth is unreasonable?

Now, biases of the networks aside, there's obvious bullshit, and then there's things like this that may well have been intended as theatrics, but this jackass had to know that someone might take him literally. And he said it anyway.

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#28714079)

So the reasonable person's response would be to ignore that comment altogether and call the lawyer bluff and his speech baloney? Because that's basically the other possible option: Either take it serious, in which case he's have to put his money where his mouth is. Or call him a whisk and refuse to take him serious.

In other words: Saying that was really, really stupid, eh?

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (0)

comp.sci (557773) | about 5 years ago | (#28713741)

You are getting the parties confused here. The guy making the statement was an idiot, but the guy who took him up on an obviously idiotic and ridiculous claim is the douchebag. Let me emphasize here that the law-student who's now suing is actively trying to bankrupt some guy who made a dumb statement... Did he seriously believe that the guy would put up $1 million? No, he knew he was exaggerating but is now trying to cash in. Let's also keep in mind that this is a murder case in which the lawyer tried to prove his client's innocence. This student's trying to profit from a murder case is disgusting.

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (1)

longbot (789962) | about 5 years ago | (#28713795)

Lawyers get away with too much bullshit. If I said (for example) "I'm going to kill him" about someone in front of police, I could end up in all kind of shit. Anything from a "menacing" charge up through murder (if someone else later kills him).

He made an idiotic statement in public, and deserves to be penalized for his stupidity.

After all the sleazy shit lawyers pull, I'm glad someone is twisting what one of them said to his advantage. Jolly good, says I!

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (1)

countvlad (666933) | about 5 years ago | (#28713851)

Uh, I'll go out on a limb and suggest that the threat of imminent bodily harm "I'm going to kill him" is just a TAD different than the at-best oral contract "I'll give you a million dollars if you can jump on one foot."

I'll just leave it at that.

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (1)

longbot (789962) | about 5 years ago | (#28713945)

I've used the former far more than the latter metaphorically. I just don't see why one should be considered "obviously" fallacious and the other not.

Re:Laywers. Ugh! (2)

dotgain (630123) | about 5 years ago | (#28713985)

Except jumping on foot is not only possible, it's easy. The money is offered for something the lawyer claims is impossible. There was no need for you to synthesise some hypothetical case when an actual one exists.

Bozo Reveals Own Stupidity! More at 11. (4, Funny)

GaryPatterson (852699) | about 5 years ago | (#28712881)

The lawyer is a complete twit for basing a defense of his client on something that can (and has) been easily disproved.

The lawyer compounds his own stupidity by making a large cash offer for someone to prove him wrong.

Someone does that and asks for the money, and the lawyer puts the final nail is his coffin of bozo-ness by claiming it was just a joke all along. Ha ha, who wouldn't laugh at a trial of a man accused of four murders! Oh, those long nights must fly by with such hilarity!

Re:Bozo Reveals Own Stupidity! More at 11. (1)

julesh (229690) | about 5 years ago | (#28713651)

Ha ha, who wouldn't laugh at a trial of a man accused of four murders! Oh, those long nights must fly by with such hilarity!

Everyone jokes about their work. Lawyers on murder cases are no different. Example: a few years ago I worked with a guy whose brother was a barrister, doing defence work on high profile cases. What he used to do, practically all the time, was he and the other barristers who worked at his chambers had a notice board, and every day somebody would post a 'word of the day' on it. They each had to work that word into the trials they were working on at some point during the day. Bonus points for doing it in innovative ways.

Cheney Mason (3, Funny)

unfunk (804468) | about 5 years ago | (#28712943)

...combining the worst points of Dick Cheney and Perry Mason...

In related news... (5, Funny)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about 5 years ago | (#28712969)

Harvard Law School is thinking on teaching a class in shutting the hell up.

But did he kill four people? (-1, Redundant)

icebike (68054) | about 5 years ago | (#28712983)

>prove that his client, Nelson Ivan Serrano, was
> able to travel across two states and kill four
> people in the time that prosecutors had alleged

Simulations are not sufficient.

Florida Lawyers (4, Informative)

Anti_Climax (447121) | about 5 years ago | (#28713003)

What is it with Florida attorneys publicly offering money on clear terms and then backing out?

The last one that did it was disbarred for life, you'd think others wouldn't be in a hurry to follow his lead...

Re:Florida Lawyers (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 5 years ago | (#28713791)

That is natural selection. Let the natural legal process operate

Re:Florida Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28714071)

Furthermore, the existence of such lawyers is indisputable proof against intelligent design.

He didn't prove it though (0)

itsybitsy (149808) | about 5 years ago | (#28713061)

All he proved was that the drove the distance, not that the client could have killed anyone. For that he'd have to have killed someone or sometwo. ;-}

Re:He didn't prove it though (2, Interesting)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | about 5 years ago | (#28713287)

Ah, but that isn't the reason the lawyer is trying to back out of the agreement.

One might even interpret that as an implicit agreement that it is, in fact, proof his client was guilty. Which might be eligible in court.

Re:He didn't prove it though (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about 5 years ago | (#28713833)

No, no, no. It isn't proof of guilt. What it does do though, is shoot his defense arguments in the foot. It should certainly be admissible by the prosecution on the basis of refuting the defense attorney. What this ultimately does, is make the defense start from scratch*, and change the prosecution's position very little.

*(Yes, I know it won't be entirely from scratch, but this will require a major restructuring.)

Re:He didn't prove it though (1)

Qubit (100461) | about 5 years ago | (#28713403)

All he proved was that the drove the distance, not that the client could have killed anyone. For that he'd have to have killed someone or sometwo. ;-}

I think the lawyer is screwed either way. Either he

1) Admits that this guy made the trip in time and pay him $1 million (or perhaps do some out-of-court settlement with him), or

2) Admit that he just offered $1 million dollars for someone to drive between 2 states and kill 4 people.

I think that offering money for someone to kill 4 people is probably way up there in Felony land. Given that he's crossing state lines, you're talking Federal PMITA prison for a long, long time.

The only argument I imagine that the lawyer can make is that his comments were just a joke. But that basically means that anything else that he says in public is going to be perceived as a joke for quite some time. He's going to have to live with this shit for quite a while.

Judges often have a very wry sense of humor. I can see a judge finding some kind of interesting way to censure or otherwise reprimand the lawyer.

Re:He didn't prove it though (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | about 5 years ago | (#28713537)

He's not going to need to argue much of anything to get out of the million dollar deal. It was obvious to anyone that he wasn't being serious. To say something like "I'd give a million dollars for a glass of water" when you're thirsty would not mean that you had to give someone a million dollars if they brought you water, as it would be obvious that you were simply saying how thirsty you were. The same goes for this case.

Seriously (1)

Tachys (445363) | about 5 years ago | (#28713421)

Nobody ever pays out these prove "impossible" thing and I give you $1 million dollars offers, and no one ever will.

I will give $1 million dollars to anyone that can prove otherwise.

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713461)

Dustin Kolodziej will get to you when he has time.

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28713471)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermat%27s_Last_Theorem

This one?

Re:Seriously (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | about 5 years ago | (#28713495)

So if the guy suing the lawyer for the $1m wins, he can sue you for another $1m?

Do you think (1)

Cur8or (1220818) | about 5 years ago | (#28713711)

he can get his client to fit that bill too?

Good ol' South Texas College of Law (1)

NaijaGuy (844212) | about 5 years ago | (#28713749)

How fun to see South Texas College of Law in the news! I used to check my email in the library there when I recently worked in downtown Houston, because the multinational financial firm that laid me off had locked down access to Gmail and Facebook and Evite and all other sugar and spice in the online world. Nothing like those mid-afternoon breaks of walking a block to the school and getting a cappuccino out of their coffee machine and staring out the nice big windows of their library!

The judge will protect their own (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 5 years ago | (#28713855)

Kolodziej is unlikely to win - judges tend to protect their own and is likely to side with the lawyer.

Re:The judge will protect their own (1)

Phydaux (1135819) | about 5 years ago | (#28713975)

From the article:

On the other hand, it's not very likely that Mason intended for anyone to take him seriously, so a judge might not really consider his statement a unilateral contract. Without knowing more about Texas contract law, I'd wager that the judge will toss the case, save Mason a million clams and give Kolodziej a lesson in real world contracts.

I doubt Kolodziej will get anything, it was clearly hyperbole. But Mason has still shot himself in the foot, loosing this defence argument, because even if the prosecution don't use Kolodziej's tape, I think they could send one of their lackeys to do exactly the same thing.

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