Mitchell Driskell

Published on January 18th, 2023 | by Mitchell Driskell


The Local Lawyer: Barstool Briefs Part 28: “Short Stories on Legal Affairs”

Old Movie Pictures

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Romeo & Juliet

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were just teenagers when they electrified audiences in the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. The film was a hit and was nominated for four Academy Awards. It was mainstream pop-culture, accepted and enjoyed by the nation.

Well, Boomers should be ashamed of themselves, because they were enjoying and being electrified by a sex scene included images of sixteen-year old Whitting’s butt and fifteen-year-old Hussey’s bare breasts. That’s child pornography (seriously, it is, do not google the love scene).

Can you imagine this today? A mainstream, popular movie that unapologetically contains a sex scene featuring a naked fifteen year old girl and a sixteen year old boy? Unreal.

Well, Hussey and Whitting are now in their 70s, feel that they were exploited and filed a lawsuit in California last week accusing Paramount Pictures of sexually exploiting them and distributing nude images of teenage children. All facts, but, then again, it was fifty-five years ago.

The suit alleges that the director assured both actors that there would be no nudity in the film, and that they would wear flesh-colored undergarments in the bedroom scene, but, later he pressured them to do it in the nude “or the Picture would fail.”

The director, Franco Zeffirelli, cannot tell his side of the story because he is dead. The loss of evidence over time is why there are time limits, called statutes of limitations, on lawsuits. California temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for older claims of child sexual abuse to allow victims of systematic, organizational child abuse to file suit. Hussey and Whiting’s suit is also allowed under that law, so Paramount cannot say it’s too late to sue.

They will settle because one of the other reasons why statutes of limitations exist is because, when old conduct is analyzed by current juries, it is impossible for a current jury to apply the cultural norms and expectations that existed at that time.

It looks like 1968 America was insanely comfortable with an underage sex scene, but a current jury will rightfully be enraged.

The director’s son decided to go on the offensive in response to the lawsuit, and said, “It is embarrassing to hear that today, 55 years after filming, two elderly actors who owe their notoriety essentially to this film wake up to declare that they have suffered years of anxiety and emotional discomfort.”

School Settles High Heat Practice Lawsuit

The parents of a Georgia high school basketball player who collapsed while practicing outdoors in August and later died agreed to a $10 million settlement with the school district late last year.

Imani Bell collapsed on August 13, 2019, after running up the football stadium steps during required summer workouts for the girls’ basketball team. The temperature was in the high 90s at the time and the area was under a heat advisory. Imani died later that day from heat-related cardiac arrest and kidney failure.

An autopsy done by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found that she had no preexisting conditions and her death was due solely to heatstroke caused by strenuous physical exertion in high-90 degree temperatures.

A statement released by her parents attorneys said that the settlement sends a message to schools about high-heat practices. And I am sure it does.

I grew up playing sports in Georgia and Mississippi and heat was never an issue. I mean, it was always hot as hell, but no adult ever mentioned it being an issue that should be addressed or discussed. It was hot, deal with it.

I cannot imagine schools monitoring temperature and sculpting practice schedules and locations around the heat. I’m not saying it is good or bad to reduce high-heat practicing, just I cannot imagine it.
And what about a place like Hot Works. People actually pay to go workout in a manufactured heat environment.

As part of the settlement, the Clayton County school system agreed to rename the gymnasium at Elite Scholars Academy for Imani Bell.

I hope that gym is huge, because a Georgia high school that does not practice outside in the heat will be slam packed with indoor practices year round.

Federal Death Penalty Trial Begins

Trial began this week of Sayfullo Saipov who faces federal terrorism charges for running over pedestrians with a truck in a Manhattan bike path on Halloween 2017, killing eight people. He pulled over into the bike path and just mowed them down – and he admits it.

The trial is about the death penalty. The State’s attorney said in opening statement that the evidence will prove that Saipov was proud of the killings and Saipov was part of a terrorist organization.

Saipov’s lawyer said that the State will have no proof of any connection between Saipov and any terrorist organization and will paint Saipov as troubled, mentally disturbed.

On January 16, 2021, Dustin Higgs was executed, becoming the thirteenth and final person executed by the federal government during the presidency of Donald Trump, when federal executions returned after a 17-year hiatus. Trump’s presidency ended only four days later.

Mitchell Driskell practices law with the Tannehill Carmean firm and has been an Oxford lawyer for twenty two years. You can call him at 662.236.9996 and email him at He practices criminal law, civil law, and family law.

The Local Lawyer: Barstool Briefs Part 29: “Short Stories on Legal Affairs”
The Local Lawyer: Barstool Briefs Part 27: “Short Stories on Legal Affairs”

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About the Author

Mitchell Driskell practices law with the Tannehill Carmean firm and has been an Oxford lawyer for twenty-two years. You can call him at 662.236.9996 and email him at He practices criminal law, civil law, and family law.

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