This is a first. I have mutual acquaintances with a shyster attorney who has been publicly shamed by Ken at Popehat. For purposes of plausible deniability, I won’t describe these mutual acquaintances, other than to say this: holy junkyard in the sky, the living arrangement in question is a motherfucking Ashland classic.

That’s all I have to say on the matter. It wasn’t me.

Before Ken helped publicize his recent extortion attempt, what I had heard about Charles Carreon was that he was a hippie attorney who had defended pornographers. He sounded like a principled First Amendment litigator who wasn’t ashamed to stand up for the seedy in defense of freedoms that the censorious would infringe. This is a popular public stance to take in Ashland, but oddly, Mr. Carreon chooses to present his representation of on his own website in some of the crassest mercenary terms imaginable. The self-absorption isn’t unusual for Ashland, but bragging about whoring oneself out to the highest bidder as a business litigator is.

Normally, I would be hesitant to go on the warpath against an Ashlander without giving him a pseudonym, as a way of presumably keeping shit from raining down on both of our asses, but this is case is different. Mr. Carreon is a brazenly pompous ass in his public life. Instead of being ashamed of his behavior or self-aware enough to recognize that what he’s doing is sleazy but lucrative, he devotes a section of the website for his own legal practice to bragging in very pleased terms about his representation of by way of pitching his memoir about the case. If I don’t make an ass of Charles Carreon, Charles Carreon will.

At Popehat, Ken has written about Mr. Carreon’s extortion attempt better and with more detail than I will. His posts on the case are very much worth reading in their entirety, but here’s a summary of the main points:

–A highly unscrupulous online content aggregator, Funny Junk, brazenly ripped off an independent online cartoonist, Matthew Inman, aka The Oatmeal.

–The cartoonist publicly criticized the aggregator for stealing his work.

–The aggregator retained an attorney, Charles Carreon, who sent the cartoonist a letter demanding that he remove defamatory material about his client and pay his client $20,000.

–The cartoonist, Mr. Inman, responded to this extortion attempt (which is exactly what it would be considered in most circumstances if a layman did it, unless one could weasel out of responsibility by claiming to be acting as pro se counsel) by publishing the letter demanding the money and using it as the impetus for an impromptu charity drive to raise money for bear habitat conservation and cancer research. The kicker was that Mr. Inman promised to take a picture of the $20,000 that he hoped to raise and send it to Mr. Carreon, along with a cartoon of Mr. Carreon’s mother seducing a Kodiak bear.

–After Mr. Inman had far surpassed his fundraising goal and gotten Mr. Carreon’s face covered in egg, Mr. Carreon went on MSNBC to express his shock that he had stirred up a hornet’s nest and to accuse Mr. Inman of not playing fair by launching an online PR campaign. He accused Mr. Inman’s followers of having sent him harassing communications, which is entirely plausible loose cannon behavior, and unacceptable if true. He also expressed his offense that Mr. Inman had accused his mother of “being a sexual deviant.” Maybe Mr. Carreon is unhinged enough to actually believe this, but no reasonable person would take the bear sex cartoon literally. It was clearly a crude satire meant to annoy and offend a public figure for being an unethical attorney.

It’s absurd to claim surprise that a creator and publisher of crude cartoons would respond to a frivolous and unethical legal demand by insulting opposing counsel with a crude cartoon. Really, this is a case of a shyster attorney squirming because he has been called out publicly for trying to extort a cartoonist on behalf of a client whose business model appears to be copyright infringement. Mr. Carreon would rather that the dispute be resolved obscurely and discreetly in open court. Sure, the proceedings are public, but it’s a rare civil case about which the public gives a damn, so shyster attorneys can usually weasel out with no worse punishment than a brief scolding from an annoyed judge.

Shyster attorneys are used to having their integrity savaged in court. That’s a game that they know how to play and, like professional football players, they’re handsomely compensated for taking the abuse. (Well, not that handsomely, but the law is generally more lucrative than being a shift leader at Starbucks, especially if you stay away from shit like pro bono work and clients who aren’t filthy rich.) What lawyers aren’t used to is being caught with their pants down (or their mothers’ dresses up in the Alaska bush) and exposed publicly as amoral shits. That’s a much harder game for shyster attorneys to play. For them, the court of public opinion is a most unfamiliar field of play.

Worse, there’s no money in it. Making these mercenary assholes defend themselves in public, beyond the reassuring precincts of the courthouse, is like making Michael Vick have an uncompensated sledgehammer battle with an Andrei the Giant meathead from the Hell’s Angels in a Barstow parking lot. The difference is that Michael Vick would probably be more adaptable and resilient. Probably a fair bit more ethical about it, too.

More attorneys should be made to squirm as Mr. Carreon has been. God knows more than a few of the fuckers deserve it.