He'll take the shoes, not the blouses

The Baltimore Sun

Ben Clyburn leaves his $7,000 Armani shoes at home when he goes begging the General Assembly on behalf of state courts. But the chief judge of Maryland's District Court won't say just where in the house he keeps those cap-toed alligator lace-ups.

"I have one hidden in one part of the house and another in another part of the house," he said. "I had to put a special rider on my insurance policy."

Clyburn didn't buy that fancy footwear on his judge's salary. He didn't buy it at all.

He has a son in the fashion industry who interned with Armani while he was a design-school student at Parsons in New York. Young Ben (he's 24) got the shoes for free after they were used in a photo shoot.

He got the internship the way you'd expect a judge's son to get that kind of thing - connections. But it wasn't one of the judge's old law school pals who hooked the kid up. It was the judge's bailiff, Joseph Schaech. His son is Johnathon Schaech, an actor and former Armani model (not to mention Christina Applegate's ex).

These days, the judge's son is a designer. He and Parsons classmate Sonia Yoon have their own label, Bensoni, which has been getting a lot of good press, including Harper's Bazaar in April. They expect to appear in Elle next month. Japanese Vogue is working on a piece. Locally, the label just got a big spread in Style.

The spring collection is already a hit at the most high-powered house in Maryland. "He's making two blouses for the governor's daughters," said Judge Clyburn, who knows the first lady, District Judge Katie O'Malley. "The daughters fell in love with one blouse."

Which explains why two $285 ladies' tops will eventually show up on a list of gifts to The Gov.

Bensoni makes only women's fashions. So the judge, who loved clothes long before his son got into the business, can't count on more freebies. But he still has connections.

"I have a friend who works in Saks in D.C., and he gives me a heads-up when they're going on sale," he said. "Once a year, I buy one suit and a pair of shoes, and two shirts and two ties. ... I can't afford Armani, but I wear it."

Pudgy white lawyer is guilty of love

A defense attorney who just helped a Baltimore kid beat the rap isn't satisfied with the not-guilty verdict. He also wants a date from the jury.

From the Baltimore "missed connections" page on craigslist.org:

"You were #4 on the jury but first in my mind! I know you didn't want to be there but I just couldn't bring myself to strike you. ... I could not stop staring at you through the whole trial. Of course you have a great body and sexy demeanor, but it was [your] sultry eyes and rich, luxurious skin that made me lose track of what I was arguing. ... thanks for the verdict!"

I contacted the lovesick lawyer via the Web site. He was willing to chat about his unusual appeal to the jury but declined to give me his name. He dropped just a couple clues to his identity: He described himself as an "overweight white guy" and signed off with a single letter, "S."

"[I]f people in charge read that I was looking for a date from a juror, especially after writing that I kept her on the jury because I thought she was attractive (ok, because I had an instant crush on her) it might not go well for me," he e-mailed me.

"The chance to have her sitting right there in those incredibly sexy boots for two days, listening to me talk and looking at me with those manga eyes? I am only a man. The ASA didn't strike her, despite her obvious distaste for him. She was smart enough to know that it is the State that brings charges and therefore it was HIS fault that she had to be there. But he was a bit of a rookie, and didn't notice. Thanks, high turnover rate in the ASA's office!

"Anyway, I put on a hell of a show if I do say so myself. My client was a young kid and he had been falsely accused and abused by the BCPD. So I had more motivation than just impressing the angel in seat number 4. But every little bit helps!

"[W]hat made me really remember her and made me want to post that ad on CL was the fact that she was able to put aside her personal dislike for jury duty and listen to the facts. She took the process seriously, even though it was punishing for her. I really admired that.

"Plus she was hot."

So why not just look up her name on the jury list? Overweight White Guy doesn't want to ruin the fantasy.

"It also lists marital status and [spouse's] occupation," he wrote. "What if it had said she was married to a professional kick boxer? What a bummer that would have been."

The stroll that got dropped from the book

Madison Smartt Bell takes readers on four walks through Baltimore in his new book, Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore. He actually took five walks, but Bell's manuscript ran long and his publisher wouldn't budge.

So Bell had to cut out his stroll down Roland Avenue with Allison Dickinson, founder of Hampden's late Paper-Rock-Scissors Gallery.

Bell said it wasn't a total waste of time for Dickinson. "She did get a lunch at Petit Louis out of it."

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