Backlash for town lawyer after his cease-and-desist letter prompted snarky response
Posted Jun 27, 2013 12:20 PM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Has the writer of a cease-and-desist letter for a New Jersey township entered the legal lexicon?
That was the suggestion of the man who received the letter in comments at a township meeting Tuesday, Above the Law reports. Jake Freivald, an unsuccessful candidate for town council, operates the website westorange.info; township lawyer Richard Trenk wrote the letter telling Freivald to shut it down.
Trenk’s letter, Freivald declared, “was so egregiously sloppy that I’m told his name is entering the legal lexicon: ‘To Trenk’ means ‘to show a lackadaisical attitude toward the law, with catastrophic results for the client.’ A usage example might be: ‘We were doing great until the lawyer missed the filing deadline and Trenked the whole case.’ ”
In the days before the meeting, Trenk’s cease-and-desist letter was met with similar snark by Freivald’s pro bono lawyer, Stephen Kaplitt, who said in a written reply to Trenk that surely he was jesting.
Surely the cease-and-desist letter was “not some impulsive, ham-fisted attempt to bully a local resident solely because of his well-known political views,” Kaplitt wrote. “After all, as lawyers you and I both know that would be flagrantly unconstitutional and would also, in the words of my 4-year-old son, make you a big meanie.”
Kaplitt’s letter went viral, bringing several residents to the township meeting on Thursday, according to Above the Law and TheAlternativePress.com. Many spoke in support of Freivald, and one resident opined that it was time for Trenk to “hit the road.”
Expressing a different view, public information officer Jessica Glicker said she had received many calls from residents who were confused about Freivald’s website, according to TheAlternativePress.com. She said Freivald was interfering with efforts to send a positive message about the town.
Councilman Joe Krakovik was so upset that he either broke down in tears (ATL’s account) or appeared on the verge of tears (according to TheAlternativePress.com). “I am literally sickened by what has taken place at this council meeting,” he said. “I would consider it to be one of the worst council meetings I have participated in, or watched, in the past five or six years.”