That was no lawyer


that was my wife

March 17, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Warren A. Brown says he's innocent. He never wanted his wife to give the world the finger in an ad for his law practice.

Maybe he was distracted by the cigar she was holding. Or her sexy get-up. Or her Sharon Stone-y pose. But the flamboyant Baltimore criminal defense attorney claims he didn't even notice the placement of his fifth wife's third digit until after he'd picked out the picture for the ad.

"I was looking at these little proofs here," he says. "When they blew it up, I said, `It looks like you're giving somebody the bird here!'"

Tell it to the judge, buddy.

Not-guilty plea aside, Brown calls the finger placement "fortuitous."

"I don't mind people interpreting it that way," he says. "Kind of like, `I'm sassy. I'm bad. [Bleep] the world. I don't care what you think of me. I am walking on the wild side.' And of course, the name between the legs" -- Warren A. Brown, Attorney at Law -- "would cause one to be either be appalled or enchanted."

Reportedly in the appalled camp: Kendra Ausby, president of the Monumental City Bar Association, a black lawyers' group. Brown says Ausby complained to someone in his firm.

"All I can say is: It has definitely attracted a lot of attention," Ausby tells me.

The Maryland State Bar Association has certain rules about advertising. One keeps lawyers from claiming they're "specialists." Another forbids them from hiring celebrity pitchmen if the celebrities aren't real clients. But in an odd oversight, the rule-makers never thought to ban ads with scantily clad spouses sticking out their middle fingers.

The bar does "encourage" lawyers to advertise in "good taste." But taste is in the eye of the advertiser. And Brown has his own ideas about what makes for a tacky lawyer ad.

"Let me tell you what I take exception to: the car crashes, `You got a phone, you got a lawyer,'" he says. "I think that brings disrepute to the profession."

He says that's not the case with his ad, which appears in The Flywire, an online and print magazine that bills itself as "Baltimore's urban entertainment and lifestyle guide."

"I would challenge anybody to say it is not classy," he says. "She's got a Bulgari necklace on. She's got a Cohiba cigar. And so it's not at all raunchy. It's tastefully done."

Donyelle Brown, a fitness instructor, runway model and former Miss Black Maryland, was more than game to star in the ad, even after her husband vetoed her choice of an earth-toned designer evening dress in favor of a white, midriff-baring halter, black skirt and strappy sandals. Warren Brown even told her how to hike up the skirt.

"I wanted her to kind of pull it up in the crotch area and show the legs," he says, "as if she's sitting down, getting ready to tell a folktale in the woods."

Not sure the folktale-teller vibe comes across. Maybe it will work better outdoors. Brown is looking for a billboard.

Operators are standing by

Once again, the call goes out for a good "--gate."

Sheilagate? Sistergate? FriendsandFamilygate? By any name, the fishy procurement deals at City Hall seem to be giving Baltimore a national reputation for phone-and-mailbox-only business fronts. How else to explain the comments of U.S. Rep. Mark Foley of Florida on NPR the other day?

He was talking about Dubai Ports World's promise to sell its U.S. port operations. Would the buyer be a real, American-owned and -operated firm, Foley asked, "or is it a post office box in Baltimore?"

Let his `aye' be `aye,' his `nay,' `nay'

Paul Sarbanes cast his 11,000th recorded vote in the Senate yesterday, reaching a milestone that his office says only 18 other U.S. senators have achieved.

What was the big vote? An amendment that would have required the Treasury Department to study and report on the increase in foreign holdings of U.S. debt. Sarbanes' vote -- in favor -- was historic, but fruitless.

The amendment failed 44-55.

High colonic interest

If you'd like to see a 20-foot-long, 8-foot-tall replica of a human colon -- and who wouldn't? -- head for Rash Field from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. In fact, you can do more than see it. You can stroll right through the inflatable "Super Colon," a press release says, to get a "close-up look at healthy tissue, tissue with malignant colorectal diseases as well as tissue with various stages of colon cancer."

Sound even more inviting? That's the hope of the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation, which is trying to raise awareness about the disease and encourage people to get screened.

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