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Monthly Archives: April 2006

Happy Birthday, Jessica Alba!

Sure, we’re stretching here, trying to relate Jessica Alba’s birthday to anything legal. Uhm…how about…today is the day that state and federal laws recognize Jessica Alba as being a day older than she was yesterday? …works for me.

Besides, it’s Friday and we really just wanted to end your week on a positive note. So happy birthday Jessica!

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There’s no place like home

You know how when you’ve been away from home for a real long time and then you’ll be out somewhere and see or smell something and that sight or odor suddenly takes you back to where you used to live, and you’re overcome with old memories and whatnot? Well, I’m from Philadelphia originally, and we do things a little different in the ‘illadelph.

Sure, the smell of a thinly sliced rib-eye, grilled up in its greezy juices, takes me back to Pat’s (Geno’s can suck a nut!). And seeing something really heartbreaking, or getting kicked squarely in the groin, always reminds me of the Phillies. But to really take me back to Philadelphia, I need a little something more.

Something like a guy who uses his car sometimes to deliver Domino’s pizzas and sometimes to deliver dead bodies, even creatively using the corpse-carrying stretcher to hold the pies when he’s in pizza-delivery mode. That’s home! Said delivery man was originally pulled over last week for not having an inspection sticker on his car. When the cops realized he was pulling this double duty, one can assume that they were anxious to throw him in the clink. But, one phone call to the local health folks later, the cops learned that there’s absolutely no law or ordinance forbidding this.

Which is really fine by me. I don’t see a problem with this for two reasons. First, it’s not like he had pizzas and corpses in the car at the same time. But more importantly, even if he did have them both in his car at once, if we’re being really serious with each other, we have to admit that there’s really nothing a dead body is going to do to that pie that’s any worse than what Domino’s has already done to it. If anything, it might actually make the pizza a little better!


The Daily Memo - 4/28/06

homeland.jpgThe New Jersey cross-dressing guard with 47 disciplinary actions against him (yeah, you remember him) was unsuccessful in his civil rights/harassment lawsuit claiming that his jail was a severe or pervasive work environment. (Jersey 101.5)

homeland.jpgThe Ninth Circuit has overturned the “Guru of Ganja’s” conviction for growing pot, because of jury misconduct. (Law.com)

homeland.jpgA Los Angeles Superior Court judge is experimenting with allowing lawyers to make court appearances via videoconferencing. (Mercury News)

homeland.jpgThe Department of Energy gets off pretty much scott-free for violating the 1992 Energy Policy Act. (Seed Magazine)

homeland.jpgA federal judge in Massachusetts has thrown out a lawsuit challenging the military “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgThe Supreme Court has refused to hear a case involving a kindergarten student’s submission of a Jesus Christ poster for a class assignment. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgThe State of New York is suing two tobacco companies for their alleged failure to pay the state $100 million pursuant to the nationwide tobacco settlement reached in 1998. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgConnecticut may ban the gas company practice of “zone pricing.” (Hartford Courant)


2 Fast 2 Racist?

Out in Hollywood last night, a judge ruled that a race-discrimination suit against Universal Pictures could go ahead, despite the studio’s attempts to have it dismissed. The suit, filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of Frank Davis, alleges that Davis “a first assistant director on the studio’s hit 2 Fast 2 Furious” was fired because he was black. Davis, who had been directing for 12 years before he was fired, claimed that he was fired without cause, and over the objections of the film’s director, John Singleton “the only black director ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for directing.”

In the judge’s ruling, he said that “Singleton adamantly asserts that Davis was performing satisfactorily and that Singleton would have terminated Davis had he not performed,” which was enough evidence to create a genuine issue for trial concerning the true motive for Davis’ firing. For its part, the studio is claiming that “Davis was replaced on the film solely for inadequate performance and not for any other reason.”

Not to pick bones here, but really “given Davis’ history as an assistant director on films like Se7evn, Terminator 2, Next Friday and Road Trip” how much more difficult could this gig have been? We’re talking about 2 Fast 2 Furious here. It’s not that Herculean a task to point the camera at Paul Walker’s abs and ask him to jump in a car and drive real fast, is it? It’s not like there were a lot of complexities here; action-diva Vin Diesel didn’t even bother with the sequel. Seriously, if anyone should’ve been fired, it should’ve been screenwriter Michael Brandt, for whom 2 Fast 2 Furious was the apex of his writing career - I mean, what does that say about incompetence?!


The truth is out there

I don’t know many things, but here’s one thing I know. The aliens are already here. They walk among us, among me and you and them and everyone. And they have a plan which they will be able to implement one day, one day soon, when they have sufficiently infiltrated the government and corporate society. And on that day, they will begin the mandatory placement of microchip implants into each and every member of society. Once this implantation process is complete, with the flip of a switch the aliens will be able to take over, and we’ll all find ourselves mindless drones serving our alien overlords in what has been re-dubbed the United States of Alienica.

Here’s another thing I know. Wisconsin is fighting the good fight to prevent this from happening. The cheese state is on the verge of becoming the first state in our nation to have legislation prohibiting people from implanting microchips into others without the implantee’s knowledge and consent, and also prohibiting anyone from adopting a policy requiring others to accept such a microchip implant. An aide to the state representative who authored the legislation notes “I don’t think most people had thought about this as an issue, but it’s scary. It’s reality now.”

See, they know what the aliens are planning. So go suck on some cheddar, aliens, ‘cause you’re not getting to us through Wisconsin!


The Daily Memo - 4/27/06

homeland.jpgNew York City has been sued on the basis that its anti-graffiti law violates the First Amendment. (News.com.au)

homeland.jpgOklahoma’s Senate has approved a violent-games bill which makes it a crime for anyone to sell a “violent” video game to children. (Slashdot)

homeland.jpgMarlon Brando’s son may face contempt charges stemming from his testimony in Robert Blake’s trial. (CNN)

homeland.jpgA new bill would require satellite radio companies to pay the music industry new fees. (CopyBites)

homeland.jpgThe Ninth Circuit has ruled that student speech in grade school is not protected by the First Amendment, expanding the Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue. (The Volokh Conspiracy via Likelihood of Confusion)

homeland.jpgThe Second Circuit has ruled that, in calculating statutory damages in a copyright infringement case, unauthorized compilations which infringe multiple copyrights should not be deemed one work. (CopyBites and The Patry Copyright Blog)


Justice Kennedy: Buzzkill!

Today, the Supreme Court listened to arguments concerning the execution of Clarence Hill, a convicted cop killer who received a last-minute reprieve after the Supremes decided to weigh in on whether death row inmates could file last minute appeals and the larger issue of the nature of the execution method. Hill argued that the combination of drugs typically used in executions can cause unnecessary pain before death.

Apparently, now that Alito and Roberts have joined the court, the revelry tends to get a little raucous at times while matters of life and death are discussed, and today the debate was lively and oftentimes contentious. On the one side of the argument, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that the lethal injection procedure used in Florida “would be prohibited on cats and dogs,” and the-always-good-for-a-good-quote Justice Scalia argued that the Constitution doesn’t require painless deaths. “Hanging was not a quick and easy way to go,” he asserted, and though I wasn’t there to see it firsthand, you know he probably had a crooked smile on his face while he was saying it.

At any rate, later on during the arguments the Justices apparently forgot themselves briefly and began laughing at the thought of defense lawyers proposing how their clients would be executed (“Death by marshmallow,” I can only assume). In fact, Justice Kennedy, who is the swing vote on the issue, got all persnickety and reprimanded his fellow justices for laughing. “This is a death case,” Kennedy snapped, crossing his arms and pouting.

Yeah, we hear ya Anthony. But you don’t have to be such a Debbie Downer. I mean, if you can’t laugh at other people’s pain, what can you laugh at anymore? It’s called schadenfreude, man. Look it up.


I’ve Fallen for You like a Blind Roofer.

Though the legal and gossip headlines all week long have focused on Charlie Sheen’s nasty divorce with Denise Richards and allegations that he and his half-man are fond of hookers and kiddie porn, the latest has nothing to do with his-soon-to-be ex-wife. Now, another of Sheen’s ex-lovers has filed a lawsuit against Sheen claiming that the “wacky neighbor and female stalker, Rose” in Sheen’s sitcom, “Two and a Half-Men” was inspired by her relationship with the Wild Thing between 1992 and 1998.

According to papers filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Ursula Auburn is claiming that“several of the events involving Rose and Sheen’s character on the show mirror incidents that occurred between Auburn and Sheen and moreover, the character Rose herself clearly appears to be based on Auburn.” Auburn is seeking more than $1 million for invasion of privacy, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She further claims that she has suffered “humiliation, emotional distress, embarrassment, chagrin, mortification, and immeasurable grief.”

>Here’s the irony: Ursula Auburn, no surprise, is a porn-star who purportedly once narrated a sex-video in which she claimed to have scored with Jack Nicholson, Nicolas Cage, Don Henley, Charlie Sheen, Ian Ziering and Mikhail Barishnikov and even played intimate taped messages she says were left by some of those celebrities, and yet she is suing for invasion of privacy?! I mean, you gotta think that Ms. Auburn gave up any “invasion of privacy” rights when she started flashing her cooter for cash. And, honestly, “humiliation” and “embarrassment” are just part and parcel of dating Charlie Sheen. Seriously, if having a “wacky neighbor” based on her is the worst thing to come out of a relationship with Charlie Sheen, she should thank her lucky stars. After all, if history is any indication, anything less than a bullet wound is fortuitous.


You Wanna Hear the Most Annoying Sound in the World?

In today’s celebrity lawsuit roundup, we learn from People magazine that Jack Bunick has filed a copyright lawsuit against Ms. Jenny from the Block for allegedly stealing his idea for a series based on his move from Brooklyn to Miami. According to court papers, Bunick is claiming that “South Beach,” a television series executive-produced by Jennifer Lopez, was ripped off from a pilot episode for a show he wrote in 1999 called “South Beach Miami.” Bunick’s script was about two young men from Brooklyn who travel to South Beach, where one of them quickly gets involved with the club and modeling scenes. On the other hand, JLo’s show was about best friends Matt and Vincent, who “abandon their world as they know it and head to the alluring paradise of sandy beaches, beautiful people and hot spots in glamorous South Beach.” Bunick is seeking monetary damages and an injunction asking that UPN stop airing the show, which won’t be too difficult because it has already been cancelled.

Although the premises to both shows do sound surprisingly similar, in my non-expert opinion, it doesn’t really sound like Bunick has much of a case. I mean, if you think about it in broad strokes, almost any sitcom these days sounds suspiciously copied from another. After all, the makers of “Three’s Company” didn’t sue the folks behind “Two Guys and a Pizza Place” because that sitcom involved two people living with someone else of the opposite sex. Likewise, the creators of “Friends” couldn’t successfully win a lawsuit against subsequent sitcoms with similar premises; otherwise, the Los Angeles County court system would come to a screeching halt.

Besides, do you really want to advertise that you were responsible for the concept behind “South Beach?” I mean, c’mon. Isn’t that a bit like suing the Farrelly brothers, claiming that their idea for Dumb and Dumber was based on your life? Seriously, in the legal profession, there is a solid rule of thumb: Never advertise your own stupidity, even if there are monetary damages involved.

Correction: I have just received note from the American Bar Association (ABA) that the aforementioned rule of thumb is inaccurate. In fact, it should actually read: “Only advertise your own stupidity if there are monetary damages involved.” I apologize for the confusion.


The Daily Memo - 4/26/06

homeland.jpgThere are some troubling implications stashed deep within the Trademark Dilution Revision Act. (Editor & Publisher via Likelihood of Confusion)

homeland.jpgEnron’s Kenneth Lay has testified that he did nothing which broke any wire fraud or securities laws. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgIf you tell your daughter to lie on the witness stand, you too can be charged with solicitation to commit perjury, witness intimidation, hindering prosecution and obstruction of justice. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgA federal judge has ordered several record labels to turn over documents following a finding that the labels improperly tried to convince the government to stop an antitrust probe. (c|net)

homeland.jpg“Take a stand against the madness: stop the RIAA!” (EFF)

homeland.jpgSony has received a patent for a bathtub which can change shapes. (Gizmodo)


Change my pitch up, smack my bitch up

Alarm One, an Anaheim-based company which sells and installs alarm systems, apparently has a variety of interesting motivational practices. For example, in one office, sales teams compete with each other and the winners get to ridicule the losers by throwing pies at them, making them eat baby food, making them wear diapers, etc. These motivational practices spread through other Alarm One offices and their Fresno office took it a step further by spanking sales employees who were late for meetings, who talked out of turn or who were not being productive enough. While the spankings were issued, other employees would watch, hooting and hollering. A 53 year-old saleswoman in the Fresno office, Janet Orlando, quit her job as a field supervisor after receiving three such spankings, which she found embarrassing. And now Alarm One is being sued by Orlando for discrimination, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.

In it’s defense, Alarm One’s lawyer says that these are just antics like old-fashioned harmless fraternity hazing. “There was no intent to hurt anyone…it was motivation sales antics gone awry.” The ex-saleswoman’s supervisor testified that Orlando never complained following the spankings, and she used to hoot and holler when others were being spanked. “She was willing, ready and excited about being there.” Instead, says the supervisor, Orlando quit the company because she did not receive a promotion.

I just finished reading Max Barry’s most recent book, Company: A Novel, which was a satirical look at (stop reading now if you want to avoid a spoiler about this book) a company set-up solely as an experiment, with super-secret supervisors using the fake company and its unknowing employees to test various management theories and company operation ideas. This sure sounds an awful lot like such an experiment. I mean, this can’t be a real company using these “motivational” shenanigans, can it?

…and Western Civilization declines a little bit further.


Supreme Court Decision Update - Jones v. Flowers

supreme2.jpgToday’s second decision from the Supremes, Jones v. Flowers (PDF of the opinion) has to do with due process rights afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment.

QuizLaw Exclusive: as you read this discussion, it is worth noting that neither opinion issued by the Supremes recognizes the fact that this case involved Arkansas and had individuals named Jones and Flowers, the two women who former President Clinton allegedly had sexual relations with. You can only read that kind of info here at QuizLaw, kids!

Basically, a dude (Jones) owned an Arkansas house that he did not live at anymore, and while the mortgage was paid off, certain property taxes went unpaid. The Commissioner of State Lands mailed a certified letter to the home, noting that the house would be subject to public sale in two years if this problem was not fixed. As nobody was at the house to sign for the certified letter, it was returned to the Commissioner as “unclaimed.” Two years later, the Commissioner put a notice in a local newspaper that the house would be publicly sold and, after there were no bids, negotiated a private sale (after sending another certified letter to the home, which was also returned as “unclaimed”). The new owner had an unlawful detainer notice sent to the home, and this was served on Jones’ daughter, who was at the house. She then told Jones about the sale and he sued the new owner and the Commissioner, arguing that his due process rights were violated because he was never given adequate notice. The trial court and the State Supreme Court both disagreed, finding that the state statute’s notice requirements, which is what the Commissioner followed in this case, complied with due process requirements.

The majority of the Supremes, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts (and joined by Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer) disagreed. The Court held that states have a constitutional obligation to provide adequate notice and, in a situation where a mailed notice of a tax sale is returned, the State has to take other reasonable steps to try to provide the owner notice of an impending sale (as long as it is feasible to take such additional steps). The Court went on to find that, here, there were additional steps that the Commissioner could have reasonably taken and, since such steps were not taken, Jones’ due process rights were violated. Specifically, the Commissioner could have tried sending the letter again by regular mail, so that it would have been left for the resident even if nobody was home to sign for it, or the Commissioner could have posted a notice on the home’s door (however, the Court disagreed with Jones that the Commissioner should have searched the phone book and other government records to find out where he was actually residing).

Justice Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Scalia and Kennedy, arguing that the notice method used by the state clearly satisfies the Due Process Clause, based on earlier Supreme Court precedent. Thomas reasons that the mailing was sufficient because it was sent to the address provided by Jones, himself, and that the State even went beyond the constitutional minimum by publishing notice in the local paper. Regarding the issue of the certified mailing, Thomas argues that the Commissioner did not know, at the time of the mailing, that the notice would not be sufficient, so the majority is essentially requiring the State to take ongoing steps that could become a lengthy and unreasonable process. Thomas also believes that the additional steps the majority proposes the Commissioner could have taken are burdensome and impractical (and just as unlikely to effect actual notice).

Justice Alito was not involved in the decision of this case.


Supreme Court Decision Update - Hartman v. Moore

supreme1.jpgThe facts of Hartman v. Moore (PDF of the opinion) are a little complicated, but here’s the essential tidbits. An optical scanning company (REI) lobbied the US Postal Service to embrace a new scanning technology, which the Postal Service eventually did; however, the Postal Service used a competitor’s services. Postal Service inspectors then investigated REI and it’s chief executive (Moore) for an alleged kickback scandal and for allegedly getting improperly involved in the search for a new Postmaster General. A federal prosecutor then sued REI and Moore on these charges, but the District Court acquitted REI and Moore, finding no evidence to support the prosecutor’s claims. Moore then sued the prosecutor and the Postal Service inspectors for, among other things, retaliatory-prosecution (arguing that they went after him to punish him for his original lobbying efforts). The District Court dismissed the claims against the prosecutor based on the principle that there is immunity for prosecutorial judgment. The claims against the Postal Service inspectors were ultimately allowed to survive, despite the inspectors’ argument that there was probable cause supporting the original criminal charges which means the inspectors should also be entitled to qualified immunity. The Court of Appeals also rejected this argument, finding that there was evidence of a retaliatory motive by the inspectors, and now we’re with at the Supreme Court.

Got that?

Well the majority of the Supremes, in an opinion written by Justice Souter (and joined by Justices Stevens, Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas), reversed and remanded the case, finding that a plaintiff (such as Moore) who alleges retaliatory-prosecution has the burden of pleading and showing that there was no probable cause for the original criminal charges. Basically, when someone brings a retaliatory-prosecution case, they have to show two things: (1) that the defendant’s alleged nonretalitatory grounds (i.e., their stated reason for bringing the original prosecution) were not sufficient to provoke whatever harm the plaintiff in the retaliatory-prosecution case ultimately suffered; and (2) once that is done, the plaintiff must show that the retaliatory-prosecution directly caused their injury. On this second point, the Supremes reasoned that the issue is complicated when the original charges were criminal (rather than civil), and the reason for this complication is that the injury was technically caused by the immune-prosecutor and the plaintiff has to show some connection between that injury and the third-party inspectors who merely pressed charges. To do this, the Court reasoned, the plaintiff must be able to show that there was no probable cause for the original charges. If there was probable cause, then this causal connection is not likely to be present (although this issue is not necessarily dispositive in every case).

Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice Breyer, dissented, arguing that the burden should not be on the plaintiff. Instead, Justice Ginsburg would place the burden, as the Court of Appeals did, on the postal inspectors to show that, even if there was no retaliatory motive, the federal prosecutors would have filed the original charges anyway.

Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alioto were not involved in the decision of this case.


Supreme Court Decision Update - Day v. McDonough and Northern Insurance Co. of New York v. Chatham County

There were two new Supreme Court decisions issued today:

supreme1.jpgThe first case, Day v. McDonough (PDF of the opinion), concerned how to calculate and apply the one year statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas corpus petition under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The Court held that the District Court in this case was within its discretion to readjust the claimed computation of the statute of limitations and, because the corrected calculation meant the underlying petition was not timely filed, correctly dismissed the case. The majority opinion was written by Justice Ginsburg and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Souter and Alito.

Justice Stevens filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Breyer. Stevens agreed with the majority’s ultimate disposition of this case (affirming the appellate court’s approval of the original dismissal) but thought that the entry of judgment should have been postponed pending the Supreme Court’s decision in another case, which addresses related issues.

Justice Scalia also filed a dissenting opinion, again joined by Justice Breyer as well as by Justice Thomas. Scalia believes that the majority’s opinion blatantly disregards the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with regard to habeas corpus cases, which he suggests bars the District Court from readjusting the statute of limitations calculation and dismissing the case when a statute of limitations defense was not originally raised (as it was not in this case).

supreme3.jpgThe second case, Northern Insurance Company of New York v. Chatham County (PDF of the opinion), involved an admiralty suit filed by an insurance company against a Georgia county. The county claimed sovereign immunity to the suit under the Eleventh Amendment, and the District Court dismissed the case, agreeing that sovereign immunity extends to counties and municipalities. The Court’s unanimous opinion, written by Justice Thomas, held that an entity must qualify as an “arm of the State” to be allowed to assert sovereign immunity against an admiralty suit and because the county did not qualify as an “arm of the State,” it was not protected by sovereign immunity.


We don’t always talk about celebrities and rainbows and lollipops…

…sometimes we talk about real stuff too. This entry is going to be one of those.

For several years now, many academics and copyright advocates have been pushing for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to be scaled back. These guys are none too pleased at the fact that Congress is currently considering passage of the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006, which would do just the opposite. One of the more controversial aspects of the DMCA is a provision which prohibits the distribution or trafficking of any software or hardware which could be used to bypass copy protection. It should come as no surprise, then, that the most controversial part of the new proposed legislation is a provision which would expand this prohibition. Instead of simply prohibiting the distribution of hardware and software which can bypass copy protection, it would also prohibit the making, importing, exporting, obtaining control of or possession such hardware or software. While this is the most controversial portion of the legislation, folks are also displeased with the fact that it would: (i) give federal authorities broader wiretapping and enforcement powers in copyright and trade secret cases; (ii) expand criminal enforcement of copyright violations; and (iii) create civil asset forfeiture penalties.

Unsurprisingly, this legislation is supported by the big conglomerate/corporate copyright holders like the RIAA and the MPAA which favor as much limitation as possible, to hell with the fact that it goes against the principals which underlie why our founders originally granted certain intellectual property protections in the first place. If you want to learn about what you can do to fight this legislation, which is expected to be introduced soon, you can check out IPac.


A Current Affair

Another day, another TV talk-show-host sexual harassment scandal. Not to be outdone by the loofah-inspired sexual peccadilloes of Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly, Maury Povich enters the sexual harassment fray this week. Bianca Nardi, a 28-year-old producer who has worked on Povich’s show since 2000, filed a suit for $100 million, claiming that the set of “Maury” was classic hostile work environment, “where hostility, intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, sexual harassment, as well as alcohol use, was explicit, rampant, pervasive and was condoned.”

In court papers, Nardi claims that Povich “who is married to Connie Chung” was carrying on a long-time illicit affair with another producer, Donna Benner Ingber. She also claims that Ingber’s task often got shifted down to her because Ingber showed up to work drunk and, presumably, was too preoccupied offering sexual favors to Povich to bother with her own producing duties. Nardi also claims that the show’s executive producer directed her to wear concealed cameras and microphones for undercover assignments “such as going to bars to secretly videotape married men agreeing to have sex with her,” and subjected her to sexually abusive and intimidating conduct, “including posing in sexually explicit positions, exposing her breasts and watching porn.”

After hearing about the lawsuit, a frustrated Bill O’Reilly was heard to go off in a rage, ordering two crates of falafels and going on an alcohol-fueled orgy bender with a host of “O’Reilly Factor” interns. Meanwhile, not to be beaten at his own game, Pat O’Brien snorted three lines of coke and broke out his cell phone and began leaving obscene and completely nonsensical voice mails on random producers’ phones.


The Daily Memo - 4/25/06

homeland.jpgAttorney General Alberto Gonzales has proposed a new internet regulation which would require commercial websites to self-rate themselves, and websites with sexually explicity information to include official warnings on their pages, at risk of imprisonment. (Slashdot and c|net)

homeland.jpgA North Carolina lawyer died on Thursday, of a heart attack, while arguing in a drunk driving case - while money has been allocated since last year for the courthouse to have defibrillators, they had not been installed yet. (CNN)

homeland.jpgThe RIAA has sued a family for its alleged illegal file-sharing, but the family doesn’t even own a computer. (Boing Boing)

homeland.jpgIn New York, an administrative law judge says workers should not be fired for browing the net in the office. (MSNBC)

homeland.jpgMotoroloa has received a patent for a cell phone that can provide therapeutic stimulation to the wearer. (RealTechNews)


The Daily Memo - 4/24/06

homeland.jpgThis week, the House Judiciary Committee’s Task Force on Telecommunications and Antitrust will be holding a hearing on the controversial idea of allowing internet providers to provide tiered access and pricing. (TechWeb)

homeland.jpgThe Da Vinci Code comes out ahead in yet another copyright infringement case. (CopyBites)

homeland.jpgThe family of Joan Miro is claiming that Google violated Miro’s copyrights and moral rights when it changed its logo last week to appear in Miro’s style. (Slashdot)

homeland.jpgOn Friday, the final arguments were made in the trade secret lawsuit filed by Apple against bloggers who posted about the alleged trade secrets. (Slashdot)

homeland.jpgA California court has dismissed the lawsuit filed by Matthew McConaughey’s ex-girlfriend claiming that he stalked, drugged, raped and tried to kill her. (I Don’t Like You In That Way)

homeland.jpgOn Wednesday, the Supremes will hear oral arguments in a case involving death penalty challenges and related procedural issues. (CNN)

homeland.jpgHow to take a deposition in Texas. Profanity and threats of violence! (The Legal Reader via You Tube)


GreedKiddie Porn is Good!”

For those of you with burning questions about Charlie Sheen’s divorce to Denise Richards, the latest comes from The Smoking Gun, which has uncovered divorce papers in which Richards “alleges that her estranged husband is unstable, violent, addicted to gambling and prostitutes, and visits pornographic web sites featuring young men and girls who appear underage.” Indeed, Sheen apparently belonged to disturbing websites “which promoted very young girls, who looked underage to me with pigtails, braces, and no pubic hair performing oral sex with each other,” and used an online profile that included a photo “of his erect penis.” Sheen also apparently assaulted Richards, pushing her to the ground and screaming, “I hope you fucking die, bitch.”

Based on Richard’s allegations, a California judge has issued a temporary restraining order, ordering Sheen to stay at least 300 feet from Richards, her home, her car and their two young daughters except during supervised visits with the children.

Richards and Sheen met while shooting the independent film “Good Advice” in 2000 and appeared in 2003’s “Scary Movie 3.” Sheen now stars in the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” though there is nothing to suggest that the half man being referred to in the title is Sheen’s “erect penis.”


You gotta love politicians

Representative Jo Ann Emerson represents a district in southeast Missouri and, like any good politician should do, she takes the time to correspond with residents of her district. So when a constituent asked her about testimony given last year by oil executives during a Senate Commerce Committee, Representative Emerson decided to provide a letter in response to the inquiry. Well, apparently Representative Emerson isn’t a fan of proofreading the letters she signs. If she was, she might have realized that the letter concluded by noting, “I think you’re an asshole.”

Of course, nobody in the Representative’s office claims to have any idea or excuse for how this happened.

Now, I don’t believe that Representative Emerson meant to include this as her signoff, but I think it teaches a very valuable lesson. Namely, our political representatives really need to focus more on their jobs - if they’re not reading letters they sign close enough to miss snafus like this, what else is getting past them at our expense?


Dropped my baby one more time!

Warning: this comes from a gossip column, so take it for what’s it worth.

As you have no doubt heard ad nauseam, Britney and her man-meat have had some baby-rearing issues, one of which included poor lil’ Sean Preston being dropped on his head earlier this month. Well, People magazine has been digging into this story a little more, most likely while Katie Holmes was in labor and they had a two-hour window with nothing to cover about TomKat. Anyway, the story behind the baby’s fall is that his nanny was apparently taking him out of his high chair when “something snapped,” causing the plummet. So Brit-Brit is now convinced it was a defective chair and is contemplating suing the chair’s maker.

I would love to see this case go to trial for two reasons. First, the chair manufacture could certainly argue, in defense to Brit-Brit and Federleezee’s products liability claim, that there was an assumption of risk - namely, that when two people this stupid decide to spawn, they’re assuming the risk that they’re not going to be able to care for that child in the slightest capable way. Second, the manufacturer could also argue that there is no measurable harm to the child. I mean, considering the gene pool poor Sean Preston drew from, would you even be able to detect brain damage?

Seriously, I feel for this kid.


Pot is just nature’s way of saying “Hi”

In honor of today’s date, we bring you several thematic stories. Of course, QuizLaw does not condone the use of any illegal substances. But, for better or worse, today’s date is what it is, and to many people that has a special meaning.

First, a lesson. On Tuesday, Delaware cops pulled over a Ford Escort for crossing a solid line while trying to merge onto an off-ramp. When they spotted marijuana in the driver’s purse, they asked her to step out of the car. They then noticed the passenger furiously attempting to swallow his own stash of pot, and they removed him from the car and removed as much pot from his mouth as they could. While the driver was only charged with possession of marijuana (plus a traffic citation for the original reason she was pulled over), the eater got charged with resisting arrest, possession and consumption of marijuana, and hindering prosecution by destroying evidence. The moral of the story is that unless you’re sure you can swallow your whole stash, you’re probably better off just taking the possession charge.

Second, a celebration. Today, the students at Macalester College will be celebrating the date by throwing CHEEBAdanza, the “premier marijuana festival” of the Twin Cities. It’s being thrown by the school’s official CHEEBA Club, which has held past festivities including a chili cook-off, a bike tour and a previous pot fest (called Cheebonanza that time around). CHEEBAdanza will include free food (including tacos and a roasted 100 pound pig), jam-band performances, dodge ball games, lawn bowling and a bonfire. The school’s director of campus programming has said that it does not advocate drug use or that its student break any laws, but it does recognize that its students are attempting to advocate for the change of marijuana laws.

Third, speaking of those marijuana laws. There has been an ongoing battle between California, where voters have legalized the medical use of marijuana, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, which continues to enforce federal prohibitions of marijuana. The latest battle took place yesterday, when DEA agents conducted a raid of a Sacramento cannabis club amid protests from medical marijuana supporters. The agents confiscated 22 pounds of marijuana (street value of approximately $88,000), along with almost $50,000 in cash and a computer containing patient records. While supporters argue that all this does is hurt AIDS and cancer patients who are entitled to use marijuana under state law, the DEA shows no sympathy, noting that these people are “rolling the dice with their freedom.”

Quite frankly, this seems like one place where the principals of federalism are firmly on California’s side. Particularly as this use of medical marijuana, which is grown, sold and distributed wholly within the state, does not have any direct interstate commerce implications. Seems like the Republicans who push the DEA to keep conducting these raids forget that one of the tenants of the Republican machine is the support of states’ rights. I’m just saying….


Daily Memo 4/20/06

homeland.jpg The Supreme Court, part I: Yesterday, the Supremes talked about space aliens, while hearing oral arguments in a case which could have a major impact on the insanity defense (and many states’ laws defining how that defense can be used). (CNN & LawInfo)

homeland.jpg The Supreme Court, part II: The Supremes, needing Justice Alito to be the tiebreaker in deciding a case about police searches, have scheduled a special argument so that Alito, who was not yet appointed when the original argument was held, can participate in the decision. (LawInfo)

homeland.jpg Good news for Microsoft…: An appelate court has ruled that consumers who did not purchase their Microsoft software directly from MS cannot sue Microsoft for antitrust violations. (c|net)

homeland.jpg …and bad news for Microsoft: A Boston judge has ruled that Microsoft cannot subpoena information from Novell for use in its European antitrust case. (Reuters)

homeland.jpg Alabama has become the 16th state to enact the Uniform Trust Code. (Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog)


Bawitdaba, indeed

For those of you rabidly following the legal shenanigans involved in the Scott Stapp/Kid Rock sex-tape escapades in the hopes that the court system can quickly work this out so you can watch the two rockers play swords, the latest twist comes from a Miami judge, who has thrown out a lawsuit brought by the “star” of the video for invasion of privacy. The befouled receptacle in question belongs to gal known only as “Jane Doe,” who has been told that she cannot proceed in her suit against Stapp and the video’s distributor, World Wide Red Light District, unless she reveals her real name. In other words, unlike the hordes of ladies that Scott Stapp and Kid Rock have bedded over the years, this one cannot remain anonymous. Indeed, according to World Wide Red Light District’s attorney, the woman has no case whatsoever since she wasn’t “abused.”

Not abused?! Perhaps “Jane Doe’s” lawyer should rethink her legal arguments, because fornicating with Kid Rock while he chants “da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy” should presumably proceed on the basis of res ipsa loquitur alone


It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear

In today’s news-of-the-absurd, the California Supreme Court ruled that a writer’s assistant for “Friends” was not sexually harassed, as she claimed, when the writers for the show used “sexually coarse and vulgar language” around her. In its unanimous decision, the court found that the comments were made in a “creative workplace” where writers generated scripts for an “adult-oriented comedy show featuring sexual themes.” Amaani Lyle, who was fired after four months as a note taker for the television show, claimed that she was subjected to sexually and racially insensitive comments by the writers and producers. The producers, however, say that she was fired because she couldn’t type fast enough.

You see, Ms. Lyle, when the writers of a successful television show are hurling racial epithets at you and offering you a nickel to tickle their pickle, you got to type that shit quicker.

In other news, porn star Jenna Jameson - who operates a phone sex service at $3.99 a minute - is considering filing a lawsuit against several callers for sexual harassment, claiming that she, too, was subjected to sexually insensitive comments.

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Thank you once again, Judge Kozinski

Judge Kozinski, of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is responsible for the sausage quote we recently shared with you. Well, he’s at it again.

This time, it was in his dissent to the Court’s opinion in a sex bias case. The case focused on a lawsuit brought by a former Harrah’s Casino employee after she was fired for refusing to comply with the casino’s new appearance code requiring, among other things, that she wear makeup. The 9th Circuit upheld the dismissal of her lawsuit, arguing that a requirement that women wear makeup is no more an undue hardship than requiring male bartenders to keep their hair short. On top of that, the Court notes that the employee failed to submit any meaningful evidence, aside from her own opinion, to support her claim that applying makeup constitutes some type of hardship. And while the Court was willing to recognize the woman’s desire to project her appearance as she chooses, that was not sufficient to support “a claim of sex stereotyping.”

And this is where dear Judge Kozinski comes in, providing us with two choice quotes. First, in disagreeing with the majority’s opinion regarding the lack of evidence about women’s hardships in putting on makeup:

We know how long it can take from the hundreds of hours we’ve spent over the years frantically tapping our toes and pointing to our wrists.

Second, in support of his opinion that Harrah’s requirement does create an undue hardship, Judge Kozinski posits:

Imagine, for example, a rule that all judges wear face powder, blush, mascara and lipstick while on the bench….I would find such a regime burdensome and demeaning; it would interfere with my job performance. I suspect many of my colleagues would feel the same way.

Well, I don’t know if such a regime would be burdensome and demeaning, but as an attorney, it would be wildly more entertaining from our side of the bench if the male judges had to drag-queen it up.


Daily Memo 4/19/06

homeland.jpgThe four major TV networks have filed a lawsuit against the F.C.C., challenging its obscenity/indecency penalties. (The New York Times)

homeland.jpgYou won’t get to see Colin Farrell’s sex tape, this time around, as he and Playmate Nicole Narain hammered out a settlement over the potential distribution of their tape. (Defamer)

homeland.jpgThe 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Los Angeles cannot arrest the homeless for sleeping on sidewalks until it can prove that it has enough beds and shelter available for every homeless to have an alternative nightly place to stay. (Tracy Press)

homeland.jpgA San Antonio judge has ruled that the Florida Marlins have until May 15 to decide if they are moving to San Antonio. (SI)

homeland.jpgHawaii’s legislature has passed a bill to reinstate the humuhumunukunukuapuaa as the official state fish, a title it lost over ten years ago. (The Honolulu Advertiser)


Happy Days!

We don’t know what we’d do here at QuizLaw if we didn’t get our weekly fix of crazy from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He’s like the legal world’s Paris Hilton - kind of useless, but immensely entertaining. And this week, he doesn’t let us down, offering the equivalent of Paris Hilton urinating in a cab in the form of statements he made in a Supreme Court argument yesterday.

The case in question was United States v. Gonzales-Lopez, and if you’re unfamiliar with the details of the case, the central question involves the right of a paying defendant to be represented by his or her lawyer of choice. The question itself is important because many a defendant prefers to use family members or cheap Johnny Cochran’s who offer up outlandish, oftentimes creative, arguments to defend their clients. The problem, of course, is when defendants use their own money to choose a thoroughly incompetent lawyer, risking the possibility of a retrial (at taxpayer’s expense) for inadequate counsel, i.e., the My Cousin Vinny predicament.

During oral arguments, newly appointed Cheif Justice Roberts seemed to suggest the right of a defendant to procure his or her first choice was not a constitutional right, remarking, “it’s not as if he asks for a Rolls Royce and gets a Yugo or something.”

Later on, however, Scalia offered up the money quote of the day, seemingly rebutting Roberts’ suggestion and siding with a defendant’s constitutional right to hire the lawyer of his/her choice: “I don’t want a ‘competent’ lawyer. I want a lawyer to get me off. I want a lawyer to invent the Twinkie defense. I want to win.”


Love, exciting and new (but without any express warranty)

Online dating websites are nothing new. Match.com, JDate, eHarmony - folks have been hooking-up online for as long as there as been an online. But one of the newer matchmaking sites has taken an interesting approach in attempting to carve out its niche in the world of online romance. Lawyers in Love is designed to be “the premier online dating site for…lawyers, law students, and legal professionals.”

Now see, here’s the thing. I can’t think of any single lawyer I know who is actively looking to date another lawyer - when lawyers hook up, it’s more a matter of happenstance and situational circumstances. Law students often end up together because law school is basically like a romantic regression to high school, and students often commiserate in rather, uhm, physical ways. Similarly, lawyers end up together as their coworkers are simply the people they spend the vast majority of their time with (especially if they are young associates at a soul-sucking firm) and, again, commiseration loves physicality.

But to choose to limit your dating pool to only attorneys? I dislike thinking about even dealing with opposing counsel, let alone thinking about dating them. Now, a website that offers to pair up lawyers with young Hollywood starlets the likes of a Jessica Alba or Kiera Knightley? That I could get behind.


Daily Memo 4/18/05

homeland.jpgDirector John McTiernan has pled guilty to lying to an FBI agent regarding the Anthony Pellicano/Hollywood wiretapping mess. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgGoogle has been sued for allegedly infringing four patents belonging to a Wisconsin software company. (The Capital Times)

homeland.jpgThe Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by Jerry Falwell, attempting to shut down the pro-gay www.fallwell.com. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgApple has been hit with claims that the iTunes Music Store, iTunes software, iPods and QuickTime Streaming applications all infringe Burst.com’s patents. (Macworld)

homeland.jpg “7-Hour Standoff Ends; Police Discover Nobody at Home.” Yeah. Seriously. Gotta love the Oklahoma law enforcement. (ChannelOklahoma.com)




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Good Morning, Angels!

A California judge has dismissed the defamation portion of a lawsuit filed by television uber-producer and The Man who Spawned Tori, Aaron Spelling, against his former nurse. Eighty-two year old Spelling and his wife sued the nurse, Charlene Richards, and her attorney for $5 million for allegedly violating a confidentiality agreement and spreading rumors that Spelling sexually harassed her. Richards later filed a sexual harassment countersuit, alleging that Spelling asked her to have sex with him and “dress like a hooker.” Richards also sent a letter to over 600 actresses who worked with Spelling on shows such as “Charlies Angels,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” and “Melrose Place,” asking if Spelling had harassed them. Spelling argued that the letter, titled “Survey on Sexual Harassment by Aaron Spelling,” defamed him.

For his part, Spelling issued a statement justifying Richards’ claims, saying, “Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went the Nursing Academy, and they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie. And I like a happy ending with my sponge bath.”


Got a little Captain in ya?

On January 29, 2005, firefighters responded to a call of a reported truck fire in suburban Las Vegas. They arrived to find a Chevrolet Silverado with a smoking engine, and a man passed out in the driver’s seat. That man, FBI Agent Robert Clymer, is now suing both GM and the Chevy dealorship where he got the truck, claiming product liablity and seeking over $33,000 in medical bills and over $10,000 in lost wages. His complaint alleges he had left the truck running for a bit while he was pulled over making a telephone call, that he “somehow lost consciousness” and that the Chevy “somehow produced a heavy smoke that filled the passenger cab.”

What the complaint presumably neglects to mention is that when the firefighters arrived on the scene, the truck was found up on the curb. The complaint also probably fails to mention the fact that the firefighters found a SIG Sauer 9 mm pistol in the truck’s cab, and that Agent Clymer had been involved in some type of weapons-related incident at a hotel earlier that night, leaving his gun’s clip behind. And if the complaint doesn’t mention these facts, there’s no way it mentions that the firefighters, when pulling our dear Federal friend out of his smoking truck, also found an empty bottle of Captain Morgan rum in the truck. Which, of course, explains why Agent Clymer blew a solid 0.306 on the breathalyzer and why he has since pled guilty to drunk driving (and in exchange for that plea, he had his weapons charge dismissed).

The last thing you need to know is that, after Agenty Clymer’s exciting little night out on the town, he and his wife filed for bankruptcy and his wife subsequently filed for a divorce.

Divorce…pickup truck…money problems…booze…guns. If that ain’t a country song lyric waiting to happen, well then I just don’t know what is.


Daily Memo 4/17/06

homeland.jpgColumbia Pictures and the Weinstein brothers are heading to court to battle-it-out over who owns the rights to the other four books in the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” series. (Cinematical)

homeland.jpgTomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a case focused on whether, and to what extent, defendants are entitled to be represented by the attorney of their choice. (Law.com)

homeland.jpgCongress is considering legislation that would provide bloggers with the same political and campaign-related freedoms enjoyed by newspapers and magazines. (Lorelle on WordPress)

homeland.jpgThe copyright battle over the Internet Archive wages onward. (Yahoo! News)


The Best Little Hooter House in Alabama

Jarman Gray, a former assistant manager of an Alabama Hooters, has brought a sexual harassment and retaliation suit against the restaurant. Gray is charging that he was fired after he complained about comments made to employees by a female “visiting training manager.” According to his complaint, during meetings with waitresses, a trainer named Cat encouraged the waitresses to have sexual relations with male customers if they “need extra money” and/or if “the money is right.” After waitresses complained to Gray, he brought the matter to the attention of the corporate office, and was later canned for complaining.

After word of the lawsuit leaked out, there were reports of several half-drunken men leaving the restaurant with high-heel punctures in their eye, the result of their failed attempts at learning how much money is “right.” Said one Hooters waitress, “I don’t know what it is, but it sure as hell is more than a $1 tip on three dozen-wings and a pitcher of Pabst.”


DON’T EAT THESE SAUSAGES!!!

There are many weird things in the legal system that you might not know about if you’re not an attorney. This is a story about one of them.

When courts issue a decision on a case, the decision is generally rendered via a written opinion. These opinions became part of the law as precedent, and can be cited as legal authority from there on out. Except, sometimes when a court issues its decision it deems the decision “unpublished.” Even though the opinion is techincally published and readible by the masses (via legal databases), such “unpublished” opinions are not legally binding precedent and the rules of many courts say that the opinions cannot even be cited to the court. As an attorney, I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating this rule ends up being. Invariably, while doing legal research to find those cases which are factually similar to your case and which directly support the position you need to make, the most relevant cases will be such unpublished opinions, meaning you’re S.O.L.

Well the Supreme Court, which is in charge of upkeep for the rules governing federal courts, has decided that this rule is somewhat nonsensical. Under a newly passed rule (which will take effect the end of this year, unless Congress takes steps to counter it), unpublished opinions can be cited to federal courts as authority. This new rule says that the courts are still entitled to give unpublished opinions varying precedental weight, but at least attorneys can rely upon the decisions and put them before the court.

During debates over this new rule, a circuit judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Alex Kozinski, said that the reason courts disfavor citation to these unpublished opinions is that they are generally drafted by law clerks and other attorneys working for the court. Judge Kozinski then provided this colorful analogy:

When the people making the sausage tell you it’s not safe for human consumption, it seems strange indeed to have a committee in Washington tell people to go ahead and eat it anyway.

Well, in all deference to your honor, and I’ll acknolwedge that I may be going out on a craaaaazy limb here, but instead of telling folks not to eat the sausage because they’re not safe as people food, what if, instead, you make better sausages? The cited excuse for this practice, that it would be burdensome and time consuming for judges to spend more time on these opinions, is utter bunk. You’re charged with one of the most important foundational duties in our nation, and you can damn well spend the time to do it right. Not to mention the argument put forth by a late 8th Circuit appellate judge that you are violating Article III of the Constitution when you attempt to remove any precedential value from unpublished opinons. Shame on you.

I’ll take my sausages with relish and extra kraut, thanks much.

(via Patently-O)


Daily Memo 4/14/06

homeland.jpgTiVo has won a $73 million jury verdict against EchoStar in its patent infringement case. (Slashdot)

homeland.jpgAn opportunistic, uhm, gentleman, has been denied the right to register “September 11, 2001” as his trademark. (The TTABlog)

homeland.jpgA DEA agent is suing the United States government because of the online proliferation of a video showing him shooting himself in the foot. (The Smoking Gun)

homeland.jpgThere’s alway room for J-Lo - Jennifer Lopez is suing her first ex-husband for his alleged violation of a confidentiality agreement by publishing a book about their time together. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgPhilip Morris is ticked off that a “Smoking Baby” doll infringes its trademark (but it doesn’t seem to mind the smoking baby). (The Smoking Gun)


The Daily Memo 4/13/06

homeland.jpgThe Da Vinci Code has stepped out of the Holy Grail and into the fire. (Cinematical)

homeland.jpgMassachusetts is at the forefront of socio-legal development again, becoming the first state in the Union to offer universal health coverage. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgOwners of New Jersey bars and restaurants feel that NJ’s indoor smoking ban, combined with an impending increase in both the state sales tax and the alcohol tax, is dealing them a death blow. (Jersey 101.5)

homeland.jpgA Texas judge has ordered that a mentally ill inmate should be forced to take anti-psychotic medication so that the state can follow through with his death sentence. (Guardian Unlimited)

homeland.jpgThe NFL Players Association argues that the Tennessee Titans breached their contract with quarterback Steve McNair when they barred him from using their facility to workout. (SI)

homeland.jpgA judge has ruled that the IRS can ask PayPal to turn over information that may help it track down tax dodgers. (CNN)


Tenth Time’s the Charm!

A Connecticut divorce lawyer, who has been practicing since 1984, has had nine grievance complaints filed against him with the Statewide Grievance Committee, and all nine complaints were dismissed. Well, he got hit recently with complaint number 10, and this time the complaint stuck and the attorney has now been reprimanded by Connecticut’s Statewide Grievance Committee.

The complaints stemmed from an ongoing feud between ex-spouses who have been divorced and feuding for almost 10 years. During a 2004 hearing, an issue came up about someone needing to take a psychological exam. When the ex-wife asked why such a test was necessary, her ex-husband’s attorney allegedly said that someone in the room had problems. He then stared at the ex-wife and began humming “The Twilight Zone” theme song. The ex-wife filed a complaint with the Grievance Committee over this incident and the Committee determined that the attorney’s actions, implying that his client’s ex-wife is a whack-job, had “no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person [i.e., the ex-wife].”

While the attorney was also reprimanded for making false statements (about a factual issue in dispute during the hearing), he was let off the hook for a third charge, allegedly burning the ex-wife with a cigarette on purpose. The Grievance Committee ruled that the burning was an accident, occurring when the ex-wife approached the smoking attorney outside of the courthouse. However, the Committee did indicate that the attorney’s “apology,” which amounted to little more than “I’m sorry you ran into my cigarette,” was “rude and boorish.”

You know that episode of “The Twilight Zone,” “The Eye of the Beholder?” Yeah, it’s the one where the woman wants plastic surgery and it fails and all the doctors tell her she’s hideous and there’s nothing they can do about it and then at the end you find out that she’s actually pretty gorgeous but “normal” society in this world is all messed up and deformed. Right. Well, I don’t really have a point here. I just hate scum-bag attorneys like this. I guess that’s what I’m saying.


Trojan Man

Man Alive! QuizLaw’s Best Friend and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia - who last month flipped off a reporter while leaving Sunday Mass - is making the rounds again this week, telling college students at a University of Connecticut lecture yesterday that his decision not to recuse himself from a case involving Vice President Dick Cheney was “the proudest thing” he has done on the court.

The case involved Cheney’s request to keep private the details of closed-door White House strategy sessions that produced the administration’s energy policy. Scalia refused to recuse himself in that case even though he had taken a duck-hunting trip with the Vice President while the case was pending. In responding to questions from students, he said: “For Pete’s sake, if you can’t trust your Supreme Court justice more than that, get a life.”

After being awed by that ringing endorsement for the Supreme Court, Trojan Condoms notified Scalia and put in a request to have him as the condom-maker’s newest pitchman, quickly putting together a television commercial featuring a teenage couple pondering the effectiveness of their birth control. During their discussion, Scalia saunters into the bedroom in his robe and proclaims, “For Pete’s sake, if you can’t trust your condom more than that, get a life!” The commercial will begin airing on MTV and Spike Television next month.


“Yes, it’s true your honor. This man has no dick.”

In the middle of the afternoon one day last September, an 81-year-old New Jersey man allegedly parked his car across the street from a movie theater and began masturbating. After being spotted by a pedestrian, who called the cops, he drove off. The police stopped the man’s car shortly thereafter and he denied any improperly salacious acts, claiming that he simply has to itch a lot because of dry skin. He also told the police that the accusation was impossible because “I don’t have a penis.” Three weeks ago, the man appeared in court for his arraignment, brought in via wheelchair and speaking on his own behalf. When his case was finally called (after he had fallen asleep), the man asked the judge if he could represent himself at the next hearing, scheduled for later this month. The judge pulled out an age-old adage, telling him that he would have a fool for a client.

The assistant county prosecutor has not discussed how he intends to deal with the man’s no-penis defense, although he did say that “there is no information that would lead us to think that he is missing any body parts that men his age typically have.” Translation - this dick’s got a dick and his defense ain’t dick.


The Daily Memo 4/12/06

homeland.jpgA California attorney has been dissed by the California 3rd District Court of Appeal for filing a 202 appellate brief which was “rambling and ranting,” for comparing her client’s disabled child to broccoli, for unfounded claims that the trial court judge was biased and for her misrepresentations as to the holding of a seperate appellate ruling. (Law.com)

homeland.jpgJessica Simpson has been sued for $100 million for breaching a licensing deal by allegedly failing to promote a low-price clothing line. (The Smoking Gun)

homeland.jpgA Minnesota high school senior who had his SAT score incorrectly scored has filed a lawsuit. (CNN)

homeland.jpgimg>An 82 year old woman in California was ticketed for $114 for crossing a street too slowly. (NBC6)


Spanking Blogger Gets Spanked in Court

There is exciting legal news affront concerning everyone’s favorite sexually-explicit D.C. Blogger, Jessica Cutler, aka, The Washingtonienne. According to CNN, a judge has allowed a lawsuit to proceed against Cutler, a former Senate aide, for invasion of privacy. The case was brought by Senator Mike DeWine’s former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Robert Steinbuch, who alleges that Cutler engaged in an invasion of his privacy in 2004 by publishing sexually explicit facts about a relationship with Steinbuch on her blog. Cutler was fired from her job as Senate Aide after her blog created a big stink, i.e., got some powerful men in trouble with their wives.

Steinbuch’s asserts in his complaint that he was subject to “severe emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, and anguish,” though, from a man who purportedly loves hair pulling and spankings, isn’t this exactly what he was was asking for. The big twist in this case, however, is that Cutler never disclosed the full names of her DC lovers, only giving their initials, and Steinbuch’s identity may never have been revealed had he not filed the damn lawsuit in the first place.

The good news for Cutler, however, is that her sex-crazed antics have been optioned by HBO, which plans to create a sitcom about it, produced by Sarah Jessica Parker. As for Steinbuch - well, he’s a lowly Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas, where former President Clinton got his start. At least Steinbuch has better taste in women.


Does the word retarded mean anything to you?

>For those unfamiliar with the attractive nuisance theory on liability, it says that a property owner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on land if the injury is caused by a hazardous object or condition on the land that is likely to attract children, who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object or condition. Until recently, the attractive nuisance theory has always been applied to small children who, for instance, get a kick out of landfills with shiny toxic substances that may or may not result in the formation extra digits.

Well, a Pennsylvania federal judge has extended the attractive nuisance doctrine to two 17-year-old boys, who suffered serious burns from catenary wires when they were climbing a parked railroad car. According to the lawsuit, the two near-adult males were skateboarding in parking lots when they decided to climb to the top of a nearby parked railroad car and, subsequently, suffered serious burns when they came within a few inches of a set of 12,000-volt catenary wires - the electric wires that provide power to train engines.

When the damn-near-old-enough-to-enlist-in-the-Army-and-vote young men brought suit against the railroad company, they made an argument based on the attractive nuisance theory (which the trial judge refused to rule out), asserting “that 17-year-old males generally do not have fully mature brains, and as such cannot fully control their impulses or appreciate some risks.”

Hmmm. That kind of makes me wonder why I didn’t try arguing the “attractive nuisance” theory when I was 17, and my girlfriend’s father caught me sneaking into her bedroom in the middle of the night. I mean, what the hell did I know? My brain wasn’t “fully mature” and I certainly couldn’t control my impulses. If you can call electric wires on top of a railroad car an attractive nuisance, what would you call Beth Thomas’ bra strap?

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The More You Know - A QuizLaw PSA *Update*

Last week, the Quizlaw blog documented the illegal shenanigans of Charis Johnson, a North Carolina woman who swindled naïve investors out of $50 million and their hard-earned mortgage payments through a shady online, auto-surf pyramid scheme. Fortunately, her little scam was shut down by the SEC and her bank accounts were frozen - but, that wasn’t enough to stop Charis. Hell no! Girl is drawn to online scams like Whitney is to crack!

So this week, she launched a website called Startup Street, an online operation dedicated to “achieving success in life and in business … beyond the acquisition of wealth.” And how, exactly, does Charis plan on building this success in life? By encouraging visitors to view online ads, for which they can collect “points” and redeem those for e-gift certificates. And where does all this advertising revenue go? Charis Johnson, of course. So, while senior citizens are spending hours whacking a mole or sitting patiently through Casino ads on their dial-up Internet service in the hopes of collecting a $.99 coupon for a free “Dog Lovers Screensaver” (replete with its own ads), Charis Johnson can sit back, collect millions in advertising revenue, and laugh at all those she is duping - at least, until the SEC sends her to the clinker where the ladies at the North Carolina Correctional Institute are just gonna love playing Whack-a-Charis.

Stay tuned … QuizLaw is gonna take this jerk down.


The More You Know - A QuizLaw PSA

The internet, as it turns out, is quite a hotbed for illegalities, as federal regulators continue in their attempts to put the kibosh on illegal or unethical activities, including SPAM, chain e-mails, solicitations from Nigerian business men, etc. Recently, the dealings of Charis Johnson have been brought to our attention. Ms. Johnson is a Charlotte, NC business woman who parlayed an online ponzi scheme into over $50 million through her site, 12dailypro.com, which has recently been shut down. The site basically offered an alleged 12 percent daily return on membership fees, ranging from $6 to $6,000, for viewing a dozen Web sites daily, and it also allowed members to include their own sites in 12dailypro’s rotation of sites for promotion. So this autosurf program promised a 44 percent return in 12 days, which was enticing enough that Johnson was able to obtain around 350,000 members, many of whom lost thousands of dollars in the scheme.

Fortunately, just last month, the SEC finally put a stop to it, causing her solicitation of investors to cease and freezing all her companies’ assets. A receiver has also been appointed to take control of the companies’ operations. According to the SEC complaint:

The 12daily Pro website, recently ranked as the 352nd most heavily trafficked website, solicited investors to become “upgraded members” by buying “units” for a “fee” of $6 per unit, with a maximum of 1,000 units. 12daily Pro promised to pay each upgraded member 12% of his or her membership fee per day for 12 days. At the end of 12 days, the member purportedly would have earned a total of 144% of his or her original membership fee, 44% of which would be profit on the membership fee. To receive the promised payment, a member purportedly must view at least 12 web pages per day during the 12 day period. The amount of returns that 12daily Pro would pay its members, however, was in fact dependent solely on the amount of each member’s investment, not on the amount of website-viewing or any other services rendered.

Here’s the irony for me, however: Mrs. Johnson has recently launched a new website, expressing remorse for setting up the get-rich scheme that “crumbled before [her] eyes” and, in a backhanded way, blamed God for its inevitable shutdown, noting that “there was no way [God] was going to let that stand or thrive.”

Somehow, that seems like empty consolation to the thousands of folks Charis Johnson managed to rip off before the SEC stopped her operation. If you have fallen prey to her shenanigans, you should call your credit card company and have them reverse any charges; if that doesn’t settle it, contact her receiver by e-mail to tfl@tlennonfor12dailypro.com or by FAX at (619) 465-9288. Failing that, file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.

For other, less-real public service announcements, please check “The Office” website, which will instruct you on the merits of The Fugitive, the hidden dangers of cake, and how to protect yourself if approached by a bear.


But wait, she’s got an accent too …

In Minnesota, the House Higher Education Committee considered a bill, pushed for by many college students, requiring that all professors at public universities and colleges be able to speak clear English. Among other things, the bill would allow students who can’t understand their professor to withdraw from the class and receive a refund, and it would require universities to remove a professor from the classroom if 10% or more of the students in that class complain about the professor’s comprehensibility. The Committee heard testimony earlier this week from supporters of the bill, offering stories of class-related problems stemming from incomprehensible professors. The Committee also heard testimony from detractors, arguing that many math and science graduate students (who end up TA’ing classes) are foreign and the more appropriate solution is to try to push more American students into math and the sciences, and that this proposed policy would provide a crutch for students who are failing a course to simply claim “I couldn’t understand what was going on” and thus be able to drop the course without any negative consequences. After hearing this testimony the Committee passed an amended version of the bill which calls for a task force, made of students, faculty and parents, to consider the issue in more depth.

Having been a college science major in my pre-law life, I can understand where some of these complaints are coming from. But at the same time, I never had any real difficulty understanding my professors. Hell, some of my worst college professors actually spoke perfect English. Maybe folks should be focusing more on getting good teachers into universities. Either that, or “Professor Knightley” has a nice ring to it. I’m just saying….


The Daily Memo 4/07/06

homeland.jpgIn Canada, the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal has ruled that it was inappropriate for a landlord to evict his tenant because she documented their arguements on her blog. (The Kingston Whig-Standard)

homeland.jpgWhile the Commissioner of the USPTO is urging Congress to pass pending legislation intended to improve the patent system, a new patent reform bill has also been circulated. (Patent Baristas)

homeland.jpgSouth Carolina is close to having a law on the books exempting breast-feeding from indecent exposure laws and allowing mothers to breast-feed their children anywhere they’re legally allowed to be. (Greenville Online)

homeland.jpgThe California Supreme Court will soon be ruling on the issue of whether people need to disclose their sexual history to their partners, and may be leaning towards creating liability when folks with STDs do not disclose it. (Law.com)

homeland.jpgA new internet-related bill has hit the floor of Congress and, to the disappointment of some, does not include provisions requiring broadband service providers to remain neutral in favoring certain sites over others. (c|net)

homeland.jpgA District Court has allowed the lawsuit against blogger Jessica Cutler (Washingtonienne), for her publication about a sexual relationship with a hill staffer, to continue. (CNN)

homeland.jpgSlate provides an excellent write-up of the “no-knock” case currently awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court. (Slate)


Yippee-ki-yay, Motherf***er.

For those of you following the sordid illegalities of private investigator to the stars, Anthony Pellicano, you probably already know that Tom Cruise had hired him to wiretap Nicole Kidman’s telephone conversations during their 2001 divorce, and that Warren Beatty, Sly Stallone, Garry Shandling, and Steven Seagal were former clients or victims of Pellicano’s pursuits. Just last month, Pellicano was indicted on 110 counts in federal court for alleged racketeering and conspiracy, wiretapping, witness tampering, identity theft and destruction of evidence.

Well, the latest fallout from Pellicano’s exploits involves director John McTiernan (Rollerball, Die Hard, Predator), who has been charged with hiring the detective to wiretap conversations of a movie producer and then lying about it to F.B.I. agents. According to the criminal complaint obtained by the LA Times, “McTiernan claimed that he had no knowledge of any wiretapping conducted by Anthony Pellicano and had never discussed wiretapping with Anthony Pellicano, when in fact, as defendant McTiernan knew, he had hired and paid Anthony Pellicano to conduct a wiretap.”

Hopefully, McTiernan’s legal problems won’t plague him for long; there’s only so much time before Chris Klein gets too old to don another pair of roller skates and reprise his roll in Rollerball 2: This Time It’s Rollerblades, Bitches!


ZAP-POW-COPYRIGHT!

The Center for the Study of the Public Domain over at Duke Law School has put together a comic book as part of its Arts Project. Entitled “Tales from the Public Domain: Bound by Law?,” the comic presents a “Tales from the Crypt” style horror story about the impact of copyright law, fair use and the public domain on a documentary filmmaker. It’s nice to see folks out there fighting the good fight and doing their part to try to keep the IP laws in check. So big-ups to Duke on that one.

And of course, this is vastly more beneficial to the good of mankind than another Duke-originated writing that was released this week.


The Daily Memo - 4/6/06

homeland.jpgIn its ongoing battle against alleged copyright infringers, the RIAA suggests that students who are not financially capable of meeting its settlement demands should just drop out of college. (Slashdot)

homeland.jpgThe owner of a Wyoming store, having been cleared of charges for selling drug paraphernalia, would like his 130 confiscated pipes and bongs returned, dude. (WGAL)

homeland.jpgMarion “Suge” Knight, the co-founder of Death Row Records who helped launch the careers of West Coast rappers like Snoop and Tupac, filed for bankruptcy earlier this week. (CNN)

homeland.jpgA French screenwriter is alleging that Stephen Gaghan stole at least 15-20 scenes of last fall’s Syriana from her own earlier screenplay. (Cinematical)

homeland.jpgIs the law school regime broken? (U.S. News and World Report, via Blawgr)

homeland.jpgThe battles and debates over “Choose Life” license plates continue. (Law.com)


You’d Better Start Dumping that Merck Stock Now

John McDarby - a retired insurance salesman - and his wife received $4.5 million in damages yesterday in their products liability lawsuit against Merck & Co., the makers of Vioxx. The New Jersey jury found that the company failed to adequately warn McDarby about the risk factors linking the now-withdrawn painkiller to heart attacks and strokes. McDarby, a diabetic who took Vioxx for four years, suffered his heart attack in his living room and broke his hip as a result, triggering a health slide that has left him using a wheelchair and unable to care for himself, which is why his wife received $1.5 million for pain and suffering. Merck pulled Vioxx from the market in September 2004 after a clinical study showed that people who took it longer than 18 months faced twice the risk of suffering heart attacks and strokes.

This is the 5th Vioxx lawsuit brought against Merck, and its second loss (it was victorious in two other suits, and the fifth was set for retrial). Currently, Merck still faces another 9,650 lawsuits, and plans to contest each one. And, unless my math is off (a very reasonable presumption - I am, after all, a lawyer), at this current clip and with its current winning percentage, Merck could pay up to $21 trillion in damages, plus legal fees, before it’s all said and done. I suspect they’re going to have to sell a hell of a lot of Propecia to make up for that loss. And if that’s not alarming enough, the punitive phase in the trial begins today, which could mean that Merck will be out another several million dollars.

Honestly, I haven’t seen anything this hopeless since Tom Hanks lost his shirt (and Shelly Long her career) in The Money Pit.


So wait, mocking victims is wrong?

A New York municipal judge overseeing a 2004 assault case was apparently unconvinced by the testimony of the assault victim. So while the victim was reading an in-court statement, the judge told the defendant that he didn’t have to listen if he didn’t want to. The judge then mocked the testifying victim, comparing him to a Jon Lovitz Saturday Night Live character (Tommy Flanagan, a member of the Pathological Liars Anonymous, who continuously spat out clear and obvious lies). Unsurprisingly, the judge has now been censured by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The judge has agreed with the Commission’s description of what took place, accepted the punishment and attended a voluntary educational session. The AP did not report whether the judge, upon receiving notice of the censure, acknowledged that “yeah, that’s the ticket.”


Excuse me while I rant for a bit …

Ok, so there’s pending federal legislation that would require the Supreme Court to televise its proceedings. Yesterday, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy addressed members of the House and said that the Court is opposed to this idea because the issue should be left up to the courts. They argued that this would ruin the dynamic of the court and interfere with how cases are decided, and Congress should not tell the Court how to do its business (i.e., the “keep your nose outta’ our bitness” argument). Which all sounds like poppy-cock to me - if they would do their business differently in front of a television camera, one has to ask “why,” right? The only reasonable argument presented was that a decrease in the Justices’ anonymity could necessitate an increase in security. Valid point but, personally, I think this country would be better off if it knew a little more about who the Justices are and what the Supreme Court is really all about, and if that means that they need a bodyguard, so be it.

But what really gets my blood boiling is that Kennedy then went on to argue that federal judges need to be paid more money, because their current salaries are somehow inadequate (Chief Justice John Roberts currently makes $212,100, the other Supreme Court justices make $203,000, federal appellate court judges make $175,000 and federal district judges make $165,000). So the public should spend more and more every year on these judges but not be entitled to see what they actually do? It’s fucking ridiculous that he would argue these two things back-to-back. Let’s put aside the fact that any federal judge already makes more than at least 90% of the rest of the country. Kennedy argues that these salaries are not high enough to entice the best lawyers to want to be federal judges, which leads to a “serious erosion in the morale of the judges.” You know what? Tough shit! Sure, there are lawyers that make a lot more than these judges’ salaries, and they’re probably not willing to give it up. Great! That means that it’s more likely that the folks who do decide to become federal judges actually want to do the job and care about the work, and aren’t simply there for the money. I’d rather have a slightly depressed federal judge who went to the bench because it was what he felt was the right thing to do, over some money grubber who figured “hell, for the same pay as my firm, I can get better hours and a spiffy robe - count me in.”

I’m so angry right now that the only thing that can calm me down is to look up at that soothing picture of QuizLaw favorite Jessica Alba. Jessica Alba, take me away….


The More You Know - A QuizLaw PSA

The internet, as it turns out, is quite a hotbed for illegalities, as federal regulators continue in their attempts to put the kibosh on illegal or unethical activities, including SPAM, chain e-mails, solicitations from Nigerian business men, etc. Recently, the dealings of Charis Johnson have been brought to our attention. Ms. Johnson is a Charlotte, NC business woman who parlayed an online ponzi scheme into over $50 million through her site, 12dailypro.com, which has recently been shut down. The site basically offered an alleged 12 percent daily return on membership fees, ranging from $6 to $6,000, for viewing a dozen Web sites daily, and it also allowed members to include their own sites in 12dailypro’s rotation of sites for promotion. So this autosurf program promised a 44 percent return in 12 days, which was enticing enough that Johnson was able to obtain around 350,000 members, many of whom lost thousands of dollars in the scheme.

Fortunately, just last month, the SEC finally put a stop to it, causing her solicitation of investors to cease and freezing all her companies’ assets. A receiver has also been appointed to take control of the companies’ operations. According to the SEC complaint:

The 12daily Pro website, recently ranked as the 352nd most heavily trafficked website, solicited investors to become “upgraded members” by buying “units” for a “fee” of $6 per unit, with a maximum of 1,000 units. 12daily Pro promised to pay each upgraded member 12% of his or her membership fee per day for 12 days. At the end of 12 days, the member purportedly would have earned a total of 144% of his or her original membership fee, 44% of which would be profit on the membership fee. To receive the promised payment, a member purportedly must view at least 12 web pages per day during the 12 day period. The amount of returns that 12daily Pro would pay its members, however, was in fact dependent solely on the amount of each member’s investment, not on the amount of website-viewing or any other services rendered.

Here’s the irony for me, however: Mrs. Johnson has recently launched a new website, expressing remorse for setting up the get-rich scheme that “crumbled before [her] eyes” and, in a backhanded way, blamed God for its inevitable shutdown, noting that “there was no way [God] was going to let that stand or thrive.”

Somehow, that seems like empty consolation to the thousands of folks Charis Johnson managed to rip off before the SEC stopped her operation. If you have fallen prey to her shenanigans, you should call your credit card company and have them reverse any charges; if that doesn’t settle it, contact her receiver by e-mail to tfl@tlennonfor12dailypro.com or by FAX at (619) 465-9288. Failing that, file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.

For other, less-real public service announcements, please check “The Office” website, which will instruct you on the merits of The Fugitive, the hidden dangers of cake, and how to protect yourself if approached by a bear.


The Daily Memo 3/4/06

homeland.jpgA judge has ordered that a Florida woman is not to have anymore sex (because she is accused with killing her own child, and the court wants to avoid any further unwanted pregnancies). (WESH)

homeland.jpgTGI Friday’s is being sued by a Maryland teenager who snuck into the restaurant, proceeded to drink beer and liquor purchased for her by others, then proceeded to get drunk, then proceeded to the parking lot, where she then proceeded to pass out and fall on her face, resulting in shattered teeth, lips and gums. (WTOP)

homeland.jpgCameron Diaz has won her lawsuit against a photographer who was trying to sell nekkid pictures of her from back in the day. (Zap2It)

homeland.jpgThe Senate Judiciary Committee has endorsed legislation permitting the televising of federal court proceedings and requiring the televising of Supreme Court proceedings. (Law.com)


You think I won’t beat that trick, whoop that trick, your honor?

The Illinois state Senate approved a bill last week that would allow prostitutes to sue pimps who abuse them or johns who attack them. The bill now goes to the state House, which is likely to approve the measure as it has passed similar legislation in the past. Prostitutes who would be worried about being prosecuted themselves (since prostitution is still, you know, illegal) would be provided an extended window of time to file a lawsuit, being permitted to wait until after the statute of limitations for a prostitution charge has expired. Opponents of the legislation worry that hookers will take advantage of a new right to sue by filing suits against a pimp simply for not liking said pimp.

Personally, I’m all for legislation like this for two reasons. First, anything that makes the courtroom more interesting is aces-up in my book, and I don’t think anyone can disagree with the fact that:

courtroom + ho’s + pimps = more interesting courtroom

Second, I would pay good money to see a criminal defense attorney try the “it’s hard out here for a pimp” defense.


The Worst Thing to Happen to the Beach since From Justin to Kelly

As though trial lawyers didn’t get a bad enough name, it appears that they are now going after the sunscreen industry, filing suit against the makers of Coppertone and other popular brands of sunscreen. The San Diego law firm of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins (best known for appropriately going after Enron) are proposing a class-action lawsuit against sunscreen makers for false and misleading advertising, arguing that their products do not block out all harmful effects of the sun; they further allege that the hype has created a false sense of security among sun bathers and has helped expose millions of people to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, the leading cause of skin cancer.

“Sunscreen is the snake oil of the 21st century,” Lerach partner Samuel Rudman said. “False claims such as ‘sunblock,’ ‘waterproof’ and ‘all-day protection’ should be removed from these products immediately.”

But here is where an otherwise responsible, consumer advocacy case turns specious: The suit does not make personal injury claims; rather, it consolidates allegations made in nine false-claims complaints filed on behalf of consumers by several lawyers and seeks refunds for anyone who bought a falsely advertised sunscreen.

And what does that mean? That individual members of the class-action lawsuit will be able to recoup their $3.29 for the sunblock if they receive notice and if they bother to fill out the paperwork, but the law firm stands to make millions of dollars if successful. I mean, c’mon! Sunscreen advertising is already regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration - what this sounds like is a law-firm get-rich scheme; in fact, we’d argue that “pointless class-action lawsuits are the snake oil of the 21st century.” And you can quote us on that.


The Daily Memo 4/3/06

homeland.jpgDodgeball + bad temper = assault charges. (ABC News)

homeland.jpgA trial in the longstanding trademark feud between Apple Computers and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. record label began last week. (CNN)

homeland.jpgIndividual John Does in one of the RIAA infringement cases have teamed up in fighting the lawsuit. (p2pnet)

homeland.jpgA California man has sued American Airlines, alleging that his dog died after a cross-country flight because American employees did not provide care for the dog after it became sick. (FindLaw)

homeland.jpgLG has sued rival Samsung over allegedly false and defamatory statements made by Samsung regarding LG’s digital video recorder. (Engadget)


“What is your major malfunction?!”

The coach of a junior varsity softball team was sued by a player’s parents because he called players “idiots” and “two-year-old girls.” The lawsuit alleged that the coach was abusing his authority position by intimidating and humiliating the female players. A California court quickly dismissed the case, ruling that a coach can push his or her team to do better, even “using words that in another context would be considered rude, demeaning and even intimidating.”

Taking inspiration from this ruling, if I ever become a team coach, I shall model myself after Gunner Sergeant Hartman (of Full Metal Jacket) with admonishments and motivational gems like: “Tonight, you men will sleep with your bats. You will give your bat a girl’s name because this is the only pussy you people are going to get. Your days of finger-banging Mary J. Rottencrotch through her purtty pink panties are over! You’re married to this piece. This weapon of oak. And you will be faithful.”


BREAKING NEWS: Anarchy in the U.S.

Yesterday, in a surprising turn of events, Congress enacted a constitutional amendment via passage of the Anarchy Bill of 2006. This amendment has broad sweeping implications for the Federal Government. Among other things, as of 12:01 a.m. this morning:

1. The Supreme Court is to be turned into the Supreme Food Court, offering such delicacies as Scalia Scaloppini and the Alito Burrito.

2. All federal laws have been redacted and are now to be considered null and void.

3. The funds left in the federal Social Security program are to be donated to Bob & Cheetah’s House of Bongs.

4. In a surprising act of self-flagellation, all members of the House and Senate are required to spend the rest of their designated office term walking door-to-door and offering a personalized apology to each member of their constituency.

5. As his last act as President, Congress has authorized President Bush to act out his frustration at the fact that Egypt refused to install a McDonald’s inside the Sphynx by starting a second war in the Middle East.

6. April 29th has been established as National Global Warming Day, and children are encouraged to use freon in their water pistols.