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Monthly Archives: July 2006

9th Circuit Takes a Hit off of Jesus’ Bong

bong.jpgYou don’t think content matters in a First Amendment case? Well, get this: In the 9th Circuit today, arguably the court’s most liberal member, Judge Stephen Reinhardt ruled against the First Amendment in the case Harper v. Poway Unified School District, upholding a decision that a high-school student was not allowed to wear a T-Shirt to school that bore the message, “Be Ashamed, Our School Has Embraced What God Has Condemned,” on the front and “Homosexuality is Shameful, Romans 1:27” on the back. In the decision, Reinhardt stated:

Advising a young high school or grade school student while he is in class that he and other gays and lesbians are shameful, and that God disapproves of him, is not simply “unpleasant and offensive.” It strikes at the very core of the young student’s dignity and self-worth.

While I completely agree with the outcome in this case, it’s hard to imagine that Reinhardt’s decision wasn’t grounded in his own liberal bias – after all, Reinhardt didn’t take issue with the fact that the school had a “Day of Silence” for Gays and Lesbians, which led the student to wear the aforementioned T-Shirt in the first place. Certainly, an argument could be made that the student in this case was engaging in hate speech, which might change the dynamics of the case. But, from my viewpoint, the student’s T-shirt was merely a product of simple bigotry.

But what’s disconcerting here is that, earlier this year, Judge Kleinfeld came to a different conclusion when the message was different. Indeed, in Frederick v. Morse, Kleinfeld joined the unanimous court in holding that the school violated the First Amendment by forcing a student to stop displaying a banner during a Winter Olympics parade. And what was the message on the banner: “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.”

So, the lesson here, at least according to Judge Kleinfeld, is: It’s not okay for Jesus to Condemn Homosexuality, but it is okay for Jesus to Encourage Pot Smoking.

Amen to that, brother.

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The Daily Memo - 7/31/06

check.jpgThe Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission can only confiscate porn after getting consent from a judge (is this so the court can look at free porn?). (WOAI)

check.jpgThe House passed a bill with an overwhelming majority (410-15) banning libraries from allow public terminals to be used to access chat rooms and social networking sites like MySpace. (c|net)

check.jpgYou gotta’ love lawyers - the American Bar Association is pulling its sponsorship of the National Lawyers on Longboards Surfing Contest, set to take place in Hawaii during the ABA’s convention, because it’s worried about liability and lawsuits. (Law.com)

check.jpgA staffer for a former gubernatorial campaign has been charged with submitting fake signatures, and he appears to be blaming the models and dancers he hired. (Projo.com)

check.jpgThis year may set the record for threats against federal judges. (Law.com)

check.jpgA New York court has ruled that it’s ok for sexually explicit e-mails to be sent to children, as long as they don’t have any pictures. (Newsday)

check.jpgWhen privacy and blogs meet face to face. (Slate)

check.jpgThe TTAB is going to allow the public to come see its hearings. (The TTABlog)


“They may take my booze, but they’ll never take….my keeeeeeeeeeeys!”

gibson.jpgNow, I’m a little confused on this one. I’m sure you’ve heard the story by now, but just in case you haven’t - over the weekend, Mel Gibson got busted for a little drunken driving up in Malibu. When the cops pulled him over, he then started cussing up a storm and decided to confirm the allegations of anti-Semitism that flowed from 2004’s The Passion of the Chris by asking the arresting officer if he was a Jew and claiming that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson has since taken the rather un-Hollywood approach of basically admitting that things happened as the rumors claim, rather than trying to deny it all. However, he says that he drunkenly said things he doesn’t actually believe to be true, which is preposterous, since everyone knows you speak more truthfully when drunk, not less so.

And this is where my confusion comes in. Now that we know Gibson is an anti-Semite, I have to wonder why - after all, my fellow Tribesmen run Hollywood, so without us Jews, he wouldn’t have any career at all. And we control the money, which he’s got a lot of. So he should befriend us, no? But most importantly of all, everyone knows the best lawyers are Jews, and it sure seems like he’s going to be needing one of those, too. So why the hate, Mel, why the hate?


The Daily Memo - 7/28/06

check.jpgGood on Chicago - its city council is looking to increase the minimum wage by almost 80%, to $9.25. (BBC News)

check.jpgFriendster is starting to get awarded patents related to online social networking, meaning lawsuits against Facebook and MySpace could be waiting in the future. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgA Canadian man in court for charges of sexual harassment and sexual assault was released on bail, only to wind up committing two new offenses before even getting out of the courthouse - trying to steal one woman’s purse and then groping another woman. (CTV)

check.jpg“American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks got a preliminary injunction against a former producer, forbidding him from releasing a song that Hicks wrote and recorded back in the ’90s. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgKazaa has entered into a settlement for more than $100 million with the record labels that sued it over the peer-to-peer network. (c|net)

check.jpgTurns out you don’t get to keep your parent of the year award if you’ve recently pled guilty to arson. (The State)

check.jpgThe FCC is getting so ridiculous that PBS is considering not airing a World War II documentary by famed documentarian Ken Burns, for fear of fines. (Daily News)

check.jpgHow to beat the RIAA? (Techdirt)


Gives a whole new meaning to “beer bitch”

oz.jpgPaul Murphy wanted to run a bar out of his home. Paul Murphy applied for a liquor license with the Select Board, the group of local town officials who act as Springfield, Vermont’s liquor board. Paul Murphy’s application included his home address. Paul Murphy’s home address turns out to be strikingly similar to the address of the Southern State Correctional Facility. Paul Murphy wanted to sell booze out of his cell!

Needless to say, the Select Board rejected Murphy’s application. They also managed to deftly sidestep the difficult issue of whether an inmate can run a bar out of his prison cell, by simly rejecting the application because it was incomplete (many portions were left blank).

Seems to me, a prison bar is a good idea. The more time the inmates spend drinking, the less time they’re out there trying to shank folks. Of course, after several hours of drinking, the chances of shankings might increase, but hey, no plan is perfect.


Ladies and Gentlemen: Meet Magic Fingers

epstein.jpgI don’t know that many of our readers were familiar with a man named Jeffrey Epstein before this week, but he’s one of those billionaire investors with a secret list of clients, who he manages money for. He’s a big contributor to the Democrats, and is apparently one of those ruggedly handsome individuals who has been known to hobnob with the likes of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, who once mentioned that Epstein “likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

And how! According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by the good folks over at The Smoking Gun, apparently what Trump means by “on the young side,” is high-school-cheerleader young. Indeed, Mr. Epstein was arrested this week after a lengthy probe by the Palm Beach police department revealed that he’s been paying underage girls to have sex with him, and it ain’t exactly missionary-style we’re talking about here. From the 22-page affidavit, which is filled with all sorts of lascivious nuggets, Epstein liked to pay his underage ladies between $200 and $1000 to massage him while he did various things to them with various sex toys and his own magic fingers, though many of the girls were less than receptive. Moreover, the affidavit explains that Mr. Epstein’s penis was even deformed, in that it was “egg-shaped,” which the 2002 New York Magazine profile of Epstein conveniently left out.

Apparently, the real star of the show here was one Haley Robson, who met Epstein when she was 17, and later became his facilitator, scouring the area to find “masseuses” for Epstein, some as young as 14-years-old. In fact, Robson called herself Epstein’s “Heidi Fleiss.” According to her Myspace profile (which was largely ripped of its content while I was writing this post), Haley is a Christian girl, a member of the “make out club,” and holder of 335 friends, though I suspect that number may grow after this incident.

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The Daily Memo - 7/27/06

check.jpgESPN’s Harold Reynolds was recently fired because of a sexual harassment incident, purportedly involving a “hug” at an Outback Steakhouse. (Deadspin)

check.jpgFolks out in California are about to see Microsoft shell out $1.1 billion as part of an antitrust settlement approved back in 2004. (Reuters)

check.jpgNew Jersey’s Governor Corzine has signed a new bill into law, making it illegal for kids under 14 years-old to use tanning salons. (Courier Post Online)

check.jpgMassachusetts’ proposed universal healthcare insurance, the first of its kind in the U.S., has been approved by the feds. (SFGate)

check.jpgD.C. is getting ready to join a slowly growing group of locales using rubber sidewalks to avoid cracking and lawsuits. (Tampa Bay’s 10)

check.jpgA New York councilwoman found a Godfather-like horse head floating in her swimming pool. (MSNBC)


The emphasis is clearly on the “exotic” part of “exotic dancer.”

skulls.jpgOk, so there’s this crazy motherfucker living in New Jersey (I know, that description fits many Garden Staters - I’ll get more specific). On April 28, said crazy motherfucker, one Mister Sean McDonough, was arrested after pinning one of his roommates to the floor for over 5 hours, holding a knife to her neck and a shotgun (“but it was unloaded!”) to her head, all-the-while threatening to gut her. As one might imagine, he’s currently got some criminal charges pending from this stupid little ordeal. But this isn’t even what I’m really writing about.

LindaKay.jpgSee, last week the cops got a call that McDonough was suicidal and threatening to bash his own head in with a hammer. When they showed up, said crazy motherfucker was nowhere to be found, but another roommate of his stepped in to fill the crazy motherfucker void. This crazy motherfucker was one Linda Kay, a 31-year-old exotic dancer at Hott 22 (that’s Ms. Hotness over there on the right, who uses the stage name “Zilla,” by the way). While checking out the house, the cops found that Ms. Kay was keeping a jar of formaldehyde in her bedroom, and in that jar was a severed human hand. They then found six human skulls hanging out in another part of the house. Needless to say, she was promptly arrested and charged with improper disposal of human remains. The cops aren’t sure where the human body parts came from, although a friend says that the hand was gifted to her by a medical student who enjoyed her nudie shows, while her mother claims she got the skulls from a mail order catalog.

Well, be warned kids, because crazy motherfucker Kay has apparently skipped out on her bail, opting out of attending yesterday’s arraignment hearing. Maybe she was heading out to Minneapolis for a zombie dance party?

A former roommate (the one who crazy motherfucker McDonough threatened to gut) says that they’re both “lunatics” and that their house had a “cult-like environment.” Calling them lunatics seems a little harsh. I mean, it’s not like she had a nickname for the hand or anything.

…er, strike that. Her friends say she referred to the hand as “Freddy.”

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Man, he’s already got the QuizLaw endorsement!

barkley.jpg



Charles Barkley, who recently switched his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat, is considering running for Alabama governor, possibly as early as 2010. That’s only ~3 years away, boys and girls!







The Devil Wears … Whatever the Hell Ann Coulter Has On

coulter.jpgAs much as The Smoking Gun might have inspired us today with entries on a man who is suing a sperm bank after he discovered a secret pinhole camera or the story of a five-year-old girl whose parents are suing after the girl found a used condom in a Vegas hotel room and stuck it in her mouth, it is the world of politics that really leaves our mouths agape.

Why? Well, because just when you thought she couldn’t possibly say anything more outrageous than calling 9/11 widows money-grubbing harlots, plagiarist and anorexic devil-spawn Ann Coulter has taken her brand of crazy one step further by suggesting that former President Bill Clinton is … wait for it, y’all … a latent homosexual.

Yep. Your heard right. The man who Gennifer Flowers once told could “eat good pussy,” the former most powerful man in the world who once inserted a cigar into an intern’s cho-cha, and who then received oral pleasure in the Oval Office and lived to lie about it is, according to Ann Coulter, the next coming of Lance Bass.

In an interview Coulter gave on “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” transcripts of which were sent to Wonkette, Coulter suggested that Bill Clinton’s “sort of rampant promiscuity does show some level of latent homosexuality.” Really, Ann. Tell us more.

Ms. COULTER: No. I think anyone with that level of promiscuity where, you know, you — I mean, he didn’t know Monica’s name until their sixth sexual encounter. There is something that is — that is of the bathhouse about that.

DEUTSCH: But what is the homosexual — that’s — you could say somebody who maybe doesn’t celebrate women the way he should or just is that he’s a hound dog?

Ms. COULTER: No. It’s just random, is this obsession with his…

DEUTSCH: But where’s the — but where’s the homosexual part of that? I’m — once again, I’m speechless here.

Ms. COULTER: It’s reminiscent of a bathhouse. It’s just this obsession with your own — with your own essence.

DEUTSCH: But why is that homosexual? You could say narcissistic.

Ms. COULTER: Right.

DEUTSCH: You could say nymphomaniac.

Ms. COULTER: Well, there is something narcissistic about homosexuality. Right? Because you’re in love with someone who looks like you. I’m not breaking new territory here, why are you looking at me like that?

Why is he looking at you like that?! Because, damn Ann; you just rode the crazy-train halfway around the world and jumped the tracks somewhere around Looneyville. Where the hell did you get your psych degree, woman? Some sort of Hannibal Lecter mail-order school? Do you ever listen to a goddamn word that slips between your fangs? If narcissism was tantamount to homosexuality, I seriously doubt you could manage to leave any carpet unmunched. Damn! Stick a sock in it, lady, before something reasonable sneaks out.

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The Daily Memo - 7/26/06

check.jpgA Virginia woman has learned that it just might be illegal to leave your pet cockatoo in a scorching hot car while you go watch a movie, especially when the poor little birdy ends up dead. (FindLaw)

check.jpgA New York attorney gets a bit of smackdown from a federal judge, being called “grossly incompetent.” (Law.com)

check.jpgVermont falls in line with many other states, lowering its attested will requirements by only requiring two wittnesses. (Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog)

check.jpgIn at least one of its piracy cases, the MPAA finds that the other side is fighting back. (Wired News)

check.jpgThe Cleveland Browns have been sued by a local TV station because the Browns said they would break their broadcasting contract, allegedly in anger over the station’s airing of a 911 call involving relatives of the Browns’ owner. (ESPN)

check.jpgWashington’s Supreme Court has upheld the state’s banning of gay marriage. (CNN)


Braaaaiiiiiiiinsssssss….

zombies1.jpgZombies love brains. It’s as simple as that. But the zombies also love the dancing parties. You’ve heard that, right? Zombie dance parties are all the rage! Well, some have put two and two together and figured out that the best way to cut down on unwarranted brain eating is to keep an eye on these zombie dance parties, scooping the undead up in-bulk. So it was that seven zombies were recently arrested by Minneapolis cops.

As bizarre as the story already is just for being about zombies getting arrested, it gets better when you find out why they were arrested. Not for brain eating, which would make total sense. No sir, these dancing zombies were arrested under the suspicion of carrying around weapons of mass destruction! Turns out they had some curious bags with wires sticking out of them. While the zombies claim they were merely jury-rigged backpacks holding their stereos (convenient excuse, considering they were at a dance party), the cops say they looked like bombs. In addition to hauling around these potential bombs, the cops say that the zombies were acting with “suspicious and disturbing” behaviour, were trying to use their “ghoulish” appearance to intimidate folks, and were uncooperative with the police. An inspector summed it up nicely, with this rhetorical and circularly logical question: “Given the circumstance of them being uncooperative…why whould you have those (bags) if not to intimidate people?”

Of course, this whole thing defies basic zombie logic. If zombies blow people up, the brains get all splattered, and everyone knows zombies like their brains whole.

zombies2.jpg

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A QuizLaw Lesson in Employment Law

I don’t know if many of our visitors have had the opportunity to check out our exhaustive Employment Law section, but it offers scads of legal information on sexual harassment, wages, and even workplace discrimination. But today we provide some helpful guidelines in workplace termination laws, i.e., when an employer can legally fire you.

For today’s lesson, we offer Melanie Martinez for demonstration. Ms. Martinez was the host of a PBS kid’s show, entitled “The Good Night Show,” and she was recently let go from her hosting duties. Why? Well, let’s take a deeper look. Let us first assume, for the sake of argument, that she (like most employees) was at-will. In this case, she can be fired for nearly any reason, so long as it’s not discriminatory. So, looking at the facts: Ms. Martinez may be Hispanic, and if she was fired for this reason, that would fall under the category of race discrimination, which is totally illegal. We also have it on good authority that Ms. Martinez is religious by nature; if she were fired for that reason, PBS would be committing religious discrimination. But what if Melanie walked funny? Would PBS be legally entitled to fire her for that? Not if she was disabled, because that would run afoul of disability discrimination laws.

But, what if … just what if, she walked funny because she just had anal sex? Or, perhaps, she advocated many years ago the virtues of anal sex in a video she filmed called “Technical Virgin”? Well, if she was the host of a kid’s show, and word got around that she was a fan of the backdoor action, even “if it hurts a little” and “she walks around funny for a day or two,” then, yes, PBS probably has every right to terminate her employment. Particularly if that video was seen by thousands of folks whose children might have enjoyed “The Good Night Show.” So, PBS, you have successfully navigated the minefield of workplace termination laws. Congratulations!

And that’s QuizLaw’s lesson for today. You’re welcome!

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The Daily Memo - 7/25/06

check.jpgAn Ohio judge ordered two kids to fire paintballs at their car to avoid going to jail for spraying another man’s car with paintballs. (Yahoo!)

check.jpgA Catholic high school in Nebraska has filed a lawsuit over Wikipedia entries that are rather critical of the school. (Fremont Tribune)

check.jpgSnoop’s taking his battles off the streets and into the courts. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgA California court has ruled that it’s way to late for women to file lawsuits over the theft of their eggs and embryos from a fertility clinic in the early ’90s. (CNN)

check.jpgSome plaintiffs in the class-action Google click fraud case are fighting against the proposed settlement. (LawInfo)

check.jpgThe ACLU, on behalf of a fundamentalist church group that pickets the funerals of soldiers, is challenging a Missouri law that bans protesting in the area of funerals. (Newsday)


Uhm…wow

dick.jpgOk, so this cat over on the left is something truly special. Now the truly observant among you might notice that this photo portrait shows him in front of some flags, and you might guess that he’s somehow involved in politics. If so, you would be correct. Sort of.

Mr. David Dickerson is not currently involved in politics. In fact, he’s not really currently involved in anything, since he’s unemployed. But he has hopes of becoming a U.S. Senator for Maryland, and is currently running in the multi-candidate primary race to fill the spot held by the retiring longtime-incumbent, Paul Sarbanes. Of course, he’s only really “running” in this race in the broadest sense of the term, since Dickerson is currently polling at less than 1%. But he just managed to get himself some free media coverage, so maybe those numbers can improve.

But maybe not.

It appears that our 43-year-old candidate has himself a 19-year-old Latvian wife (they met just last year and while it’s unclear whether or not she was a mail order bride, it sure sounds like it). While this feels dirty, it’s not illegal. But beating and raping your wife? Yeah, that’s illegal.

Dickerson has been charged with raping and assaulting his young wife, allegedly slapping her throughout their relationship and forcing her to sex him up. During her pregnancy (they have a two-month-old currently being raised in Latvia by her mother), he also allegedly left her locked in the apartment with little or no food, and would frequently threaten to kill her and her family. He of course denies all of the charges, but neighbors claim that they’ve heard screams and noises repeatedly coming from the Dickerson apartment.

“Vote Dickerson and this fall we’ll beat the Republicans like I beat my mail-order bride!”


JDate Stands for Jackass!

jdate.jpgAs most people recognize, the online dating world is full of perils. Misleading photos. People who insist that they love walks on the beach, when in fact they live in landlocked states. Married men looking for some swinging action, and even stalkers. But no one, really, can be as awful as a Public Relations Agent by the name of Darren Sherman.

From his JDate profile, Mr. Sherman seems almost normal: treacly and pretentious perhaps, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary in the online dating world. But, Sherman is cut from a different kind of cloth — the cheap kind, with a money back guarantee, even after it’s been tattered and used.

Indeed, in one of the more bizarre online dating tales, Sherman meets Joanne. Joanne and Sherman go out to eat at a nice restaurant. The date goes okay, and at some point, Joanne offers to split the bill. Darren Sherman declines. The date, at some point, devolves. Darren goes home and … he emails Joanne for her portion of the dinner - $50.

Tacky as hell, right? Well, Darren’s just getting started, hombres. Joanne, expectedly, ignores his email, but Darren does not give up. Darren calls and leaves a voice mail, insisting that Joanne pay. The voice mail is immediately followed up with another email.

Joanne,

I wanted to follow up on my email and call to you last night to ensure you received my messages for the $50.

Please acknowledge by replying to this email that you will be sending me the $50.

I hope you understand from my point of view.

Thanks,
Darren

Joanne finally emails Darren back, and insists that the jerk cut it out, that she will not be sending him $50, and that he kindly leave her the fuck alone.

Darren, however, is not done. First thing he does is to cut/paste his AMEX bill for the meal onto an email message. When that fails to elicit the appropriate response, he leaves another voice mail, this time threatening to call Joanne’s employer to get the bill settled. Joanne writes back and politely suggest that Darren jump up her ass. Darren, who is not phased, does call her office and threatens Joanne with a court summons, remarking that “You ate the food, you drank the wine, pay the bill!”

This goes on for quite a while, voice mails are exchanged, more court summons are threatened, and Darren even calls the restaurant and asks them to remove half the charge and apply it to Joanne. Darren is unshakable. Darren is a schmuck. And today, Darren Sherman is all over the Internets. Congrats, Darren – you’ve forever ruined your dating life.

For more on the JDate saga, with real-life voice mails, check out PR Differently’s full account. And, if Darren follows through on the court summons, you can bet your ass we’ll be the first to discuss its merits.

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The Daily Memo - 7/24/06

check.jpgA judge accepts a donut and a child molester may go free? (NWCN)

check.jpgJohnny Damon is just a simple caveman with no sense of humor, threatening legal action against the seller of “Damon Sucks” baby bibs. (Fox Sports)

check.jpgThe Ninth Circuit issued a stay on a lower court’s issuance of an injunction forbidding the use of any comments which might possibly be considered disparaging of a trademark. (Likelihood of Confusion)

check.jpgThe “anatomy of a blog thread” about alarmist reactions to contract provisions (a YouTube concern, in this case). (The Trademark Blog)

check.jpgCalifornia and New York legislatures are considering laws which would prevent criminal defendants from using their victim’s sexual orientation in their defense (by trying to justify the crime on the basis that they were afraid of, or angry about, the victim being gay). (CNN)

check.jpgThe Senate has approved a bill making it a felony for sex-related websites to use misleading words or images which could cause minors to view the site. (c|net)

check.jpgAn American Bar Association task force thinks that Congress should setup judicial review of the presidential signing statements issued by Bush (the statements he signs, when signing legislation, which says that he’s reserving the right not to follow the law). (U.S. News & World Report)


Philly does something positive!

philly.jpgWay back in 1928, Philadelphia’s city council decided to allow the local chapter of the Boy Scouts to use a city-owned property, in perpetuity, as its headquarters. While the Boy Scouts had to pay for the building’s upkeep, its use was otherwise rent-free. This deal has continued since then, although folks started to get a little uppity about it a couple of years ago. See, the Boy Scouts have a policy of discrimination, ruled legal by the Supreme Court, where they refuse to allow gays to become scout leaders. In 2003, Philly raised a stink about this, because this policy goes against the city’s own anti-discrimination laws.

While the Boy Scouts assurred the city that they would setup policies matching Philadelphia’s, they have yet to do so. So recently, the city solicitor sent the Boy Scourts a letter basically letting them know that time was up. If the Scouts do not assure the city that there will not be anymore discrimination, they will be evicted unless they start paying fair-market rent for their headquarters building. While one would assume the Scouts are in a tizzy over this, they’ve said they’re not going to offer any official comment until they hear from their lawyers.

The Boy Scouts can’t really be surprised by this turn of events, right? After all, how they gonna’ expect to be allowed to discriminate against gay men in the city of brotherly love?


Wade Blasingame, Attorney at Law

As the weekend approaches, we leave you with one of this year’s few amusing SNL skits. It’s what we all aspired to do when we entered our respective law schools: Sue leg-humping canines for a living.

Enjoy!


Good to know all our problems are fixed!

house.jpgThe folks in the State of Arkansas aren’t the only ones convinced that there are no societal or economical problems that need governmental attention. Apparently, the House of Representatives agrees. First, they spent time on Wednesday focused on the problem of a pesky little Korean War memorial in San Diego. The memorial, a cross, sits on a small mound of public land and has been attacked for almost two decades by those who believe it’s acting as state-sponsored religion. A federal court recently agreed, ordering the cross removed. However, the Supreme Court stepped in, issuing a temporary stay to that order. Now, the House has passed a bill that would have the land seized and given to the Defense Department, under the rationale that a a war memorial, even a cross, is unquestionably constitutional if it is sitting on federal property.

They also took time out of their busy Wednesday schedules to address the pledge of allegiance. Representatives were apparently tired of the attacks on the pledge and the attempts to have the “under God” language pulled out. It would seem that the 9th Circuit’s 2002 ruling that it was unconstitutional to make kids recite the pledge in public schools has stuck under the Representatives’ collective craw (and the Supreme Court’s reversal did nothing to alleviate their concerns because it made its decision on a procedural ground). So the House passed legilsation that would prevent federal judges from ruling on whether the pledge is constitutional.

Now look. Although it’s for rather different reasons, I’m actually on the “social conservative” side of both of these issues - I have no problem with “under God” in the pledge (and making kids recite it in public schools), nor do I have a problem, even as a Jew, with a publicly sponsored cross memorial. And even putting aside the legal issues raised by both of these bills (especially the second one), it just seems to me that there are far more pressing matters to be addressed by our elected representatives (well, not my elected representatives, since D.C. is still subject to “taxation without representation”).

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The Daily Memo - 7/21/06

check.jpgThere’s an interesting antitrust class-action lawsuit going on against BAR/BRI (of which I am, apparently, a class-member). (www.barbri-classaction.com)

check.jpgThe World Poker Tour has been sued by poker players for alleged antitrust violations. (Card Player)

check.jpgKate Hudson won her British libel lawsuit over the “National Enquirer’s” story that she was too thin. (Zap2It)

check.jpgThe son of John Facenda, the famous voice of NFL Films for years, is now suing NFL Films over allegations that pappy’s voice was used in promotion of “Madden 2006,” in violation of an agreement banning the use of his voice for promotion. (ESPN)

check.jpgThe EFF had a good day in its NSA surveillance lawsuit against AT&T, surviving a motion to dismiss. (Info/Law)

check.jpgA North Carolina judge has ruled the state’s ban on unmarried cohabitation unconstitutional. (CNN)


Friday Nuggets

sperm.jpgAn L.A. man has filed a lawsuit for violations of his privacy and infliction of emotional distress. Who has he sued? The Pasadena-based Pacific Reproductive Services. What’s that? An L.A. area sperm bank. Why’d he sue? Because someone stashed a pinhole surveillance camera in the ceiling of the, uhm, production room. Apparently, the donor didn’t like being on this version of “Candid Camera.”



gamecock.jpgAre you a fan of “The Feathered Warrior” or “The Gamecock,” two separate magazines about cockfighting (seriously, there are two cockfighting mags)? If so, and if you get your cockfighting magazine fix filled by Amazon, you butter hurry up and complete your back stock. Because The Humane Society is threatening to sue the online supplier, arguing that Amazon is violating the Animal Welfare Act by mailing these magazines to purchasers.



elmer.jpgNote to self. Let’s say I find myself in a situation where I’m so fed up with a tree that I just need to shoot it, kill it real dead-like. I may not want to call-in to the “Opie and Anthony Show” to announce that I’m going to kill said tree. Makes it really easy for the local authorities to bust me for illegally discharging my gun.




ballot.jpgAnd, finally, this is the best. A Tennessee man had his middle name legally changed to “none of the above.” Now, he’s suing to be allowed to have his name on the fall ballot in the governor and Senate races. He’s currently being blocked on the basis that his name would cause confusion. Which it probably would. But it would also give the disheartened and disenfranchised a true option. Plus, who wouldn’t buy a “None of the Above” campaign shirt?


Wal-Mart: Sacrificing Morality for a Low, Low Price

walmart.jpgSo, most anyone with half a brain these days, who doesn’t also have a healthy sense of denial, already knows about Wal-Mart’s health insurance problems. There is ample evidence to suggest that the company engages in legal, though arguably unethical practices, holding employees just under the required hours necessary to trigger health-insurance entitlement and then only providing it with outrageous premiums. What’s more dispiriting, however, is Wal-Mart’s long-standing policy of encouraging workers to enroll in federally backed health care programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, passing the burden on to the American citizenry in the form of higher taxes.

So, when a state finally gets up enough nerve to challenge Wal-Mart’s practices, and actually passes a law meant to help out both the taxpayers and the folks who work at Wal-Mart, it almost comes as no surprise that a court would strike down the effort. The law, which was to take effect in January, would have required employers with over 100,000 employees to spend at least eight percent of its payroll on health care, or pay the differences in taxes. The district court, however, nullified the law, holding that — by requiring Wal-Mart to track and allocate benefits for its Maryland employees in a different way from how it keeps track of employee benefits in other states — it “imposes legally cognizable injury upon Wal-Mart.” The problem, it appears, is that the law would’ve treated Wal-Mart differently in Maryland than other states do, in violation of ERISA.

So, I suppose it’s just a matter of getting the other 49 states to go along with a similar measure, which is about as likely as Wal-Mart voluntarily offering better health benefits. But, at least you can still get your loaves of bread for under a $1.


The Daily Memo - 7/20/06

check.jpgA Florida lawyer who stole $300,000 from a client’s inheritance says she lost the money in a variation of the Nigerian e-mail scam. (NBC6)

check.jpgA federal judge has ruled that pregnant inmates in Missouri who desire an abortion must be taken to proper facilities by the state, and that the state cannot block inmates from having abortions. (CNN)

check.jpgAs expected, Bush used his first veto to kill the just-passed stem cell research bill. (FindLaw)

check.jpgSome New Yorkers have stepped off of the landlord/tenant grid, living rent-free, by taking advantage of illegal housing laws. (The Village Voice)

check.jpgYour Department of Homeland Security has used your tax dollars for necessary security purchases like iPods and home brewing kits, and lost other purchases (such as laptops and boats). (MSNBC)


(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction!

keith.jpgThe State of Arkansas has apparently fixed all of its societal, economical and other -al problems, and can now turn its attention to things that truly matter, like a pesky little reckless driving conviction that Keith Richards has had hanging over his head for two-plus decades. Seems that he was driving through Fordyce, Arkansas back in July of 1975, when he was pulled over for swerving. The cop who nabbed him smelled some wacky tobacci in the car, and Richards got hit with several charges, eventually pleading guilty to a reckless driving charge and paying a fine.

The state’s governor, the guy who runs the state, decided to move ahead with a pardon, apparently unrequested by Richards, after coming to the Earth-shattering conclusion that Richards was probably haunted by this situation and that he “was marred by a misdemeanor traffic stop.” So the Parole Board has now approved an application for clemency, which merely awaits the Governor’s signature to become official.

Keith Richards must be rolling over in his grave at the thought of governmental time and resources being used for such a stuidly ridiculous thing.

…whazzat?…seriously?…but he looks so leathery and mummified….

My editors would like me to clarify that Keith Richards is not, in fact, dead. Although that does not mean he doesn’t spend time hanging out in a grave anyway. I mean, have you ever seen or read an interview with that cat? It’s totally not without the realm of possibility. I’m just saying.

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Grope ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

lapdance.jpgFor almost as long as their has been titties and beer, there have been entrepreneurial misanthropes who have tried to make money off the best of both world’s combination, only to be …er … cock blocked by local governments. Still, strip-bar owners refuse to go down without a fight, and so it goes that the Third Circuit was asked to rule on the constitutionality of prohibiting lap-dances in a liquor-licensed establishment. An Atlantic City tavern argued that the local ordinance, which prohibited “any lewdness or immoral activity” on liquor-licensed premises was vague, overbroad, and shouldn’t be applied to lap-dancers who wear bikini tops and bottoms. The Moulin Rouge bar had been hit with a series of fines after police noticed dancers were straddling and grinding on the bar’s patrons; the lawyers argued that those erotic movements should have been afforded First Amendment protections.

The Third Circuit, however, disagreed, holding that the Jersey regulation was not overbroad, because it applied only to establishments that sold alcohol, which were rightly under the control of the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Moreover, the 3rd Circuit ruled that the bar’s constitutional challenge failed because it did not prohibit freedom of expression outright, only in bars that sold liquor, where presumably men could get drunk enough to forget about their wives.

And so it’s back to the drawing board for businessmen trying to find a loophole large enough for a pair of 36 DD’s to fit through. And for the bar’s patrons, I suppose it’s back to the drunken tryst with your inflatable dolls.


The Daily Memo - 7/19/06

check.jpgA South Carolina state senator has been arrested and charged with shooting, and trying to kill, two utility works who were scoping out his parents’ home for storm damage. (ABC News)

check.jpgXM Satellite Radio is looking to have the RIAA’s copyright lawsuit thrown out by the court, arguing that it’s protected by the 1992 Home Recording Audio Act. (USA Today)

check.jpgYouTube also thinks the copyright infringement lawsuit filed against it is meritless because of protections afforded by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgA judicial ethics advisory committee in New York has issued an opinion that there are no ethical problems with judges strapping heat while sitting on the bench. (Chicago Sun-Times)

check.jpgNew York’s trial lawyer bar supports new rules looking to crack down on attorney advertising and solicitation. (Law.com)

check.jpgMicrosoft has filed a whole bunch of lawsuits against various companies that are allegedly selling pirated copies of MS software. (FindLaw)

check.jpgJohn Cusack has been granted a restraining order against a stalker. (TMZ)

check.jpgWhat’s up the the Supreme Court’s sudden tendency to end in 5-5 deadlocks? (The Onion)


A Tale of Two Representatives

rummyPenny.jpgLet’s look first to representative Carolyn Maloney, a New York democrat who has had it with Rumsfeld. Maloney is sick and tired of waiting for the Department of Defense to implement a system intended to track sexual-assault incidents that take place in the military. She says that the Pentagon has been slow to fully implement the system, at least in part, because it would push unflattering stories about military assaults into the public light. While the Pentagon says the system should be fully operation by next summer, Maloney and the bill’s co-sponsers want it up and running by January 1, 2007. And the bill includes an interesting form of motivation on this point - for every day after January 1 that the system is not running, the bill would have one grand removed from Rumsfeld’s personal paycheck.

However, Rummy won’t be able to use his pennies to make up for the lost salary, if Arizona representative Jim Kolbe has his way. Kolbe is sick and tired of that damn penny filling up people’s pockets and purses, and he’s introduced a bill that would require all cash transactions to be rounded up or down to a neat little 5 cent multiple, effectively eliminating the need, use or purpose of the wee lil’ penny. This is the second time Kolbe has tried to kill the penny, filing similar legislation five years ago which never made it to the floor for a vote. Even though zinc costs have increased almost two-fold since then, this legislation seems likely to suffer the same demise. And of course, the motivation behind Kolbe’s bill has everything to do with the rising cost of zinc (the penny’s main component) and nothing to do with the fact that his home state is the nation’s largest producer of copper (the nickel’s main component), right? Yeah, thought so.

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Breaking News: God not Exempt from IRS

god.jpgOut in Pensacola, Florida (where else?) yesterday, an evangelist, Kent Hovand, and his wife were arrested and charged with 58 crimes. Among those charges, the man who is known as Dr. Dino is being prosecuted for tax evasion after failing to pay nearly $475,000 in federal income, Social Security, and Medicaid taxes, preferring to pay his employees with cash, instead.

And now why would Mr. Hovand refuse to pay taxes? Because, he argues, he is employed by God, receives no income, and has no expenses or property, despite the fact that he is also charged with evading bank reporting requirements in withdrawing over $430,000. Indeed, according to a bankruptcy judge in 1996, “The debtor apparently maintains that as a minister of God, everything he owns belongs to God and he is not subject to paying taxes to the United States on money he receives for doing God’s work.”

And, really, who are we to take issue with a Man of God. How’s this, though, Dr. Dino: You pay your back-taxes, spend the better part of the rest of your life in prison, and you’ll get an extra-big tax refund in the afterlife? That’s sound okay?

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“You took my money, and that’s what you get!”

Jesus! It’s one thing to fire your lawyer, but, my God! There’s really never a good excuse to pull out a pistol and shoot him, over and over and over again, while the poor guy tries to hide behind a tree.

Aspiring lawyers out there: It’s a dangerous profession. And when a fat man comes after you with a gun, the only suggestion we can offer is: Find a bigger tree.

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The Daily Memo - 7/18/06

check.jpgThe Second Circuit reiterates the fact that, in trademark infringement cases, side-by-side comparisons are useful but do not make or break a determination of whether there’s a likelihood of confusion. (Likelihood of Confusion)

check.jpgContent owners may turn their copyright infringement sights to the lyric websites. (PC Magazine)

check.jpgSo much for the peace - YouTube has been sued for copyright infringement by a Los Angeles video news service. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgTwo waiters at New York’s famous Waldorf-Astoria have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit for $150 million, alleging that their manager made various sexual advances, including grabbing at genitals and asking one of the waiters to “eat his ass.” (New York Post)

check.jpgSony has been sued, yet again, for patent infringement relating to its PSP, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. (Engadget)

check.jpgOnce again the debate rages on as to whether the 9th Circuit should be split up. (Law.com)

check.jpgLast week, a majority of the Massachusetts Legislature decided to take a semi-cop out, waiting until after this fall’s election to vote on the possiblity of a constitutional amendment to ban currently-legal same-sex marriage. (New York Times)

check.jpgThe California Supreme Court has ruled that local city governments are legally entitled to block Wal-Mart from setting up shop. (Blogging Stocks)


So that would make the Big Ten like Harry Hamlin in this story, right?

cyclops.jpgYesterday, the Big Ten NCAA football conference was sued by a fired referee, James Filson, for alleged disability discrimination. In 2000, Filson lost sight in one eye due to an unfortunate accident involving the corner of a desk. After testing himself and deciding he could continue to call games, Filson stayed on as a Big Ten ref. However, in 2005 he was fired for, according to his allegations, no reason other than the fact that he’s got one eye.

Filson alleges that after years of calling games with a single eye, coaches learned of his status and urged the Big Ten Commissioner to fire him for not being two-eyed. In fact, he alleges that, upon being fired, he was told that things could get real ugly and there could be “hell to pay” if he ever tweaked a call and the public learned he only had the one eye.

Instead of seeking reinstatement with the Big Ten, I would suggest to Filson that he apply for a job with the NFL. Considering the quality of many of their current refs, I would think they’d welcome an employee who at least has one good eye.


Get the Money You Deserve!

“You have a right to insurance money! To cash awards! To damages!”

Unfortunately, this personal injury lawyer has absolutely no right to his dignity. Indeed, Leonard Neuman (THE INJURY LAWYER), by posting his commercial on YouTube, has either sunk to a new low or he’s a freakin’ genius.

Either way, the post-apocalyptical background imagery is worth a laugh or two and makes me wonder all the more just how many degrees of separation there are between an ambulance chaser and an evangelical TV minister. Just change a couple of words in this commercial, and you’ve got Jerry Falwell reminding you of the world’s impending demise.

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The Irony of Shit …

Here’s an odd predicament I envision for the FCC: We all know that the word “shit” is not to be uttered on the airwaves during certain times of the day, right? Well, CNN has already aired the above video unedited, but the FCC does not regulate content on cable networks. So, if Brian Williams plays the above clip tonight on NBC’s national newscast, I wonder: Would the FCC fine NBC for airing a clip featuring the President of the United States using the word “shit.”

But more importantly, I have to wonder if President Bush’s negotiation talks with North Korea are not limited to simply, “Hey, Kim Jong II. Stop doing this shit, man!” And if so, it’s no wonder we’re not getting anywhere.


The Daily Memo - 7/17/06

check.jpgA Florida judge is having trouble finding a fair jury to hear the trial of a scumbum accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl and burying her alive. (CNN)

check.jpgWhat of YouTube and copyright? (Hollywood Reporter Esq.)

check.jpgChief Justice Roberts says that Supreme Court proceedings won’t be televised anytime soon. (Law.com)

check.jpgThe Google page rank lawsuit has been dismissed (with the possibility of a new complaint being filed). (c|net)

check.jpgThe town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania has passed a strict ordinance to fight the middle-Pennsylvania problem of illegal immigrants. (USA Today)

check.jpgA New York man is suing Fire Island National Seashore, a nude beach, for the right to have his dog accompany him on his nude sunbathing trips. (The Smoking Gun)

check.jpgTo the joy of law students everywhere, Pennsylvania has moved to a phased-out abolishment of the dreaded rule against perpetuities. (Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog)

check.jpgMichael Jackson lost, to the tune of $900,000, in the case brought by his ex-business buddy (although the split decision of the jury also said Jackson himself was owed $200,000). (CNN)


Like big brother, like little brother?

bushes.jpgRegardless of where one sits in the political spectrum, I think most would agree that President Bush has a lot on his plate right now, and it sometimes feels like things (the economy, the gas prices, Iraq, now the Middle East nightmare, etc.) are getting out of control. Well, now baby brother Jeb is looking at his own little mess - he’s had to declare a state of emergency in the little Florida city of Yankeetown. Seems that a majority of the city council members (three of five) up and quit, capping off a months-long downturn the city’s government has suffered.

The mess apparently started several months back, when a heated city debate arose over plans to build a resort on a local river. Several government officials resigned over the mess, and things ended up getting so bad that Jeb had to get local governments from nearby towns to help keep Yankeetown afloat. Government paychecks are only being issued because of a new special loan, the Town Hall is closed, paperwork isn’t getting processed and bills aren’t getting paid. And, to make matters worse, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been involved in looking into alleged corruption of local officials.

Things then hit their boiling point with the resignation of the city council members, making it impossible for any governmental decisions to get made, since there could be no majority vote. So Jeb stepped in and declared a state of emergency, granting the mayor and the remaining city council members the power to run the city and carry on basic functions. Bush also called for a special election, which will be held on August 29, to fill the vacated seats.

Personally, I gotta’ say that it’s nice to see that at least one of the Bush sons knows how to actually clean-up some of the mess on his plates. Maybe he should give his big brother some pointers.


What, me arrogant?

typing.jpgEarlier this year, a 39-year-old law student from Northwestern learned that he had been rejected by the law firm of Vinson and Elkins. Now, a naive and younger man might’ve taken this opportunity to tell the firm off, letting said firm know it would rue the day, etc. But our more sophisticated 39-year-old, George Luce, apparently took the higher road, sending a looooooong e-mail to the fourteen attorneys involved in Vinson’s hiring decisions, explaining to them why his many virtues deserved reconsideration.

Well, unsurprisingly, that e-mail is now making the rounds, being sent back and forth by attorneys and law students all over the place (and since it’s summer associate season, the forwarding is particularly extensive). As I say, the e-mail is wicked long. Although we’ve included the full text of it for you below, I thought you must to get right to the quick and dirty highlights (and due to the nature of the Internets, we acknowledge that there is always a questionable amount of veracity with these sorta’ things, so take it for what it’s worth):

  • “In law school, I earned the top score in my section on EVERY PAPER in both of my legal writing courses.”
  • “Judge Amy St. Eve, a federal judge with whom I externed, will tell you that I was the best extern she ever had.”
  • “I have seen enough during my clerkship to say with confidence that I am capable of better work - far better work - than most of the ‘experienced’ attorneys who practice before my judge.”
  • “I would also add that there are intangible factors to be considered. I left a lucrative job in my mid-thirties, working hard to score in the top 1% nationwide on the LSAT so I could go to an elite law school. (I was the oldest guy in my class.) When I was a computer programmer, I was a one-man consulting firm, saving my employer (the state of Louisiana) millions of dollars in costs and making the lives of thousands of people (the system’s users) easier. Often, I would go to bed at night, half dreaming, half awake, obsessing over a thorny problem that I encountered. When the creative inspiration would come in the morning, those were the greatest thrills of my life. I know what its like to work 80-hour weeks for months on end. I know what’s it like to be considered the expert of last resort - the guy they call in the middle of the night when the data gets corrupted and no one else can figure out what to do. I take my work SERIOUSLY and I take great pride in what I do. I would submit that these are the qualities that can make me a ‘franchise player’ at V&E.”
  • “[I]f you are not willing to change your verdict on me, would you please do the favor of giving me some honest feedback about why you were not impressed enough with me to make an offer? Is it my age? (I’m 39, but I’m healthier than most 25-year-olds.) Is it that I’m losing my hair? (I am willing to undergo transplants!) Is it the fact that I wore a pink shirt to my interview? (My wife picked it out.)…Is it because I have a minor speech impediment (a ‘lacerated S’)?”

And the topper:

  • “Do I come across as arrogant?”

Nooooooo. Nope. Arrogant? Never!

Anyway, here’s the full e-mail for you:

From: George Luce
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2006 11:25 AM
To: Johnson, Loreatha
Cc: Schick, Robert M.; Davidow, Jennifer; Harvin, David; Pipkin, Emily; Kornegay, Nancy; Mehta, Persis; Murphy, George; Hodge, Justin; Reeder, James; Chatman, Carliss; Held, Kenneth; Lawson, Corey; Powers, Jason; Omar, Amin

Subject: request to reconsider George Luce

Dear Loreatha,

I received your letter dated May 11, and I am extremely disappointed that Vinson & Elkins has chosen not to extend me an offer. I remain convinced that V&E is the right firm for me. While it is hard to quibble with the verdict of a panel of 14 people, I believe that a real mistake was made, and I ask that my application be reconsidered.

I assume that V&E’s chief objective in hiring new associates is to get the best people it can get. Please consider the fact that in law school, I earned the top score in my section on EVERY PAPER in both of my legal writing courses. (The grading was done anonymously.) My article was selected for publication in the Northwestern Law Review, which is one of the top law reviews in the country. Judge Amy St. Eve, a federal judge with whom I externed, will tell you that I was the best extern she ever had (and her externs were mostly cream-of-the-crop Northwestern students, many of whom went on to federal appellate clerkships). The Judge I work for now, as well as other people with whom I have worked, will tell you that I have unusual talent as a legal analyst. I suggest that before you conclude that I don’t measure up to V&E’s standards, you ask people with whom I have worked what they think about my work and my abilities. At risk of sounding arrogant, I submit that I would be a standout performer at V&E, even though V&E is an elite firm that can select from among the best candidates.

I sensed that some of my interviewers were uncomfortable with the fact that I am not committed to a specific substantive area of law. I would argue, however, that the tools that we bring to the table as lawyers are far more important than the direct, “relevant” experience we bring. “Practical” experience is no substitute for creative intelligence, intellectual sophistication, and pure tenacity. The career clerk in my judge’s chambers has 20+ years of experience, so she knows a lot of things that I don’t know. But she is not in my league as a legal analyst and writer. I have seen enough during my clerkship to say with confidence that I am capable of better work - far better work - than most of the “experienced” attorneys who practice before my judge.

As a judicial clerk, I have been deeply immersed in all sorts of cases at every phase of the litigation process. There are many procedural issues that are common across all different substantive areas of law. There are many connections and overlaps between the different substantive areas. Even within a given substantive area, every case is different, turning on its own facts. The relatively inexperienced associates who specialize in a particular area will have only seen a small part of the universe of possible issues that may arise in their area. Given these facts, I am highly skeptical that, say, a 3rd-year associate who has specialized in “oil and gas” is going to be light years ahead of me in that field. The hypothetical 3rd-year associate will certainly know a lot more than I know about the art and practice of lawyering. But it is highly doubtful that her substantive oil and gas knowledge (which of course exceeds mine) will give her a significant advantage over me when it comes time to analyze the next oil and gas case (which will no doubt involve issues that neither of us have seen before). I want to work on interesting, challenging cases, but I don’t believe it would be rational for me to arbitrarily limit myself to a specific substantive area of law at this point in my career. I’ll find my niche down the road. I would think that V&E would prefer that their new associates be open-minded enough to try different things.

I would also add that there are intangible factors to be considered. I left a lucrative job in my mid-thirties, working hard to score in the top 1% nationwide on the LSAT so I could go to an elite law school. (I was the oldest guy in my class.) When I was a computer programmer, I was a one-man consulting firm, saving my employer (the state of Louisiana) millions of dollars in costs and making the lives of thousands of people (the system’s users) easier. Often, I would go to bed at night, half dreaming, half awake, obsessing over a thorny problem that I encountered. When the creative inspiration would come in the morning, those were the greatest thrills of my life. I know what its like to work 80-hour weeks for months on end. I know what’s it like to be considered the expert of last resort - the guy they call in the middle of the night when the data gets corrupted and no one else can figure out what to do. I take my work SERIOUSLY and I take great pride in what I do. I would submit that these are the qualities that can make me a “franchise player” at V&E.

I recognize that the chance that you will reconsider and extend me an offer are very slim. (Lawyers tend to be extremely risk-averse and unwilling to do things differently than they’ve done before.) But please give this request some serious consideration. I suggest that you begin by talking with some of the folks who have worked with me.

Finally, if you are not willing to change your verdict on me, would you please do the favor of giving me some honest feedback about why you were not impressed enough with me to make an offer? Is it my age? (I’m 39, but I’m healthier than most 25-year-olds.) Is it that I’m losing my hair? (I am willing to undergo transplants!) Is it the fact that I wore a pink shirt to my interview? (My wife picked it out.) Is it the fact that I took the Louisiana bar exam before taking the Texas bar exam? (I took the Louisiana exam because I wanted to get licensed in my home state, and I wanted to get it out of the way first because I had to learn all that civil code stuff.) Is it because I have spent most of my life in Louisiana? (Houston is only a 3-hour car ride or a 40-minute plane ride from Baton Rouge.) Is it because I have a minor speech impediment (a “lacerated S”)? Is it because I am introverted? Do I come across as arrogant? Too timid? Is it because I’m not committed to a specific substantive area of litigation?

You judged me as a qualified candidate based on my paper credentials, as evidenced by your willingness to expend the resources to bring me in for an interview. I assure you that I am a much better lawyer than even my paper credentials suggest! Please give me another look. It would be a shame if V&E and me are deprived of a mutually profitable relationship because I failed to present myself well in person on May 8.

Sincerely,

George Luce

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The Daily Memo - 7/14/06

check.jpgThe RIAA has dropped out of its latest piracy/copyright infringement lawsuit, apparently because it doesn’t have enough supporting evidence, and it’s going to be stuck paying the other side’s attorneys’ fees. (Download Squad)

check.jpgWhile the issue of forced shares is relatively uninteresting, a reference to Dr. Strangelove certainly helps - Why Shouldn’t I be Allowed to Leave my Property to Whomever I Choose at my Death? (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Loving the French). (Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog)

check.jpgMerck, 4, everyone else, 3 - the seventh Vioxx trial has come out in Merck’s favor as a jury finds that Vioxx wasn’t a main cause of the plaintiff’s heart attack (but Merck still has some 16,000 Vioxx lawsuits to go!). (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgA scumbum has been busted for making up a wife who allegedly died on 9/11 so that he could milk over $100,000 in charitable benefits. (ABC News)

check.jpgTwo Indiana prisoners have sued the department of corrections to try to get access to skin mags like Playboy and Hustler. (Local 6)

check.jpgThe Berkeley Sea Scouts are looking for some help from the Supreme Court in fighting the fees they’re being charged by a marina because due to the Scouts’ discriminatory policies. (Mercury News)

check.jpgSalon identifies what it thinks are some of the most important races this fall. (Salon)

check.jpgA Manhattan lawyer has been indicted for stealing money from several of his clients, to the tune of $1.5 million! (Law.com)


Friday Reading Assignment

bar-exam.gif

For all the budding attorneys out there, it’s that time of year again - the Bar Exam is nigh. So in honor of these poor suckers, take a couple of minutes to be entertained by reading Trials and Tribulations: What to Expect While Taking the Bar Exam, which includes truisms such as:

“Nothing good ever happens to the people in practice bar exam questions. Everyone who crosses the street gets hit by a car, every doctor botches the surgery, parachutes never open, contracts never get fulfilled, anyone who uses a lawnmower ends up in the hospital, as soon as you write a will your whole family dies, employee benefit plans never pay out their benefits, computers all get viruses, your friends are always intoxicated, stealing your farm equipment, and driving it into the barn, police search you all the time for no good reason, you can never find a good place to hide your weapons, banks never recognize a signature as a forgery, and the forger always flees the country.”


“Secret agent man, secret agent man / They’re giving you a number and taking away your name…”

plame.jpg

Valerie Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, have filed a federal civil lawsuit over the leaking of Plame’s identity as a CIA agent. Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are all named defendants, and the suit includes spots for up to ten unnamed administration officials (such “John Doe” defendants are quite common in most civil lawsuits). Of course, Libby’s plate is already full, as he’s facing a criminal trial early next year for charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

In a nutshell, the lawsuit alleges that Cheney et al. were involved in a conspiracy to ruin Plame’s career by leaking her identity as a CIA agent, in order to enact revenge against Wilson for his criticization of the administration and the Iraq war. Specifically, the complaint alleges eight causes of action (you can read the complaint here): (i) violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech; (ii) violations of the Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection, privacy and property/due process; (iii) conspiracy to deprive civil rights; (iv) failure to prevent civil rights violations; (v) invasion of privacy and public disclosure of private facts; and (vi) civil conspiracy. The complaint seeks the usual things civil lawsuits seek - compensatory money damages of a “fair, just and reasonable” amount, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.


Eighteen Seconds of Fame … and Counting.

djboyd.jpgSo, there was, like, this totally famous “American Idol” contestant who, according to his website, made it into the top 100 in season 2, and was a “semi-finalist” in season five, inasmuch being in the top 70 qualifies as a semi-finalist — for those of you who have all of the “Idol” episodes saved on your Tivo, I’m guessing you can find a brief reaction shot of him softly weeping after Simon Cowell informs an entire room that they won’t be going any further in the competition.

Anyway, his name is Daniel James Boyd, but I guess his friends just call him “DJ.” Amongst those “friends”: two-teenage girls with whom he fornicated, on tape, after getting them drunk. Classy! I suppose it took a few drinks to convince the girls of the awesome powers of “semi-finalism.”

The great thing about being a “semi-finalist” on “American Idol,” however, is that you get to tack on another 15 seconds of fame to your 3-second close up when you’re charged with production and possession of child pornography, statutory rape, and unlawful supply of alcohol to minors.

But, I think my favorite nugget in this whole ordeal is that, according to DJ’s website, he anticipates a future in “Entertainment Law.” Well, congratulations, Mr. Boyd – you’re the featured artist on every Entertainment Law section on the web today!


The Daily Memo -7/13/06

check.jpgGoogle has applied for a dozen new patents. (Download Squad)

check.jpgA New York court shows how the cy press doctrine is applied to charitable trusts. (Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog)

check.jpgJurors in the seventh Vioxx trial have begun their deliberations to decide whether Merck warned patients that Vioxx had potential heart risks. (FindLaw)

check.jpgThe BlogNYC defamation lawsuit comedy continues. (BlogNYC)

check.jpgA mother has pled guilty to charges stemming from hosting an underage kegger for her 18-year-old son, bringing attention to a new Connecticut law that bans parents from even allowing their own children to drink. (Courant.com)

check.jpgM2 Software is trying to vacate two trademark rulings it lost on the basis that one of the Ninth Circuit judges overseeing the matter had a stock-related conflict. (Law.com)

check.jpgAn Ohio murderer sentenced to death was thrown out of the courtroom by the judge, who told him he was “a pure psychopath in the full sense of the word,” because he wouldn’t stop smirking and laughing. (CNN)

check.jpgThe Senate has approved a proposal which would allow prescription drugs to be imported from Canada, despite a current FDA ban. (USA Today)


What a wookie!

chewy.jpgMark Burnett is being sued in connection with his latest reality show endeavor, “Rock Star: Supernova,” which focuses on the search for a singer to front the “new” band Supernova. Supernova is a manufactured band made up of getting-up-there-in-the-years rockers Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue and stolen porn tape fame), Jason Newsted (formerly of Metallica) and Gilby Clark (of Guns n’ Roses, back when Axl took less than 15 years to put an album out). Trouble is, there’s already a band out there using the moniker “Supernova.” Based out of the O.C., this original Supernova has been around since 1989 and has released four albums (with a fifth on the way). They’re tweaked about Burnett pinching their name for the show’s band and are now suing to: (1) prevent Burnett from getting a trademark on the name; and (2) make him acknowledge that they’re not connected to the show in any way.

Of course, one might understand why Burnett had not heard of them, considering the closest thing to any substantial success for them has been the inclusion of the wonderful “Chewbacca” track on the Clerk’s soundtrack. And having once dated someone who had a song appear in a Kevin Smith flick, I can tell you first hand that the “success” that comes along with such an honor is, to put it kindly, negligible.


Movie Scribe Seeks Piece of Pirates’ Booty

kiera2.jpgFurther proof that no ridiculously successful movie is not without its subsequent lawsuit, a purported screenwriter has brought a copyright infringement suit against the Walt Disney company and Jerry Bruckheimer, alleging that the studio stole his ideas for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Royce Mathew is claiming that he secured copyright protection in 1980 on a script he so-cleverly called Supernatural Pirate Movie and updated the registration in 1993 with drawings and characters that allegedly bore resemblance to those in the Disney film. Mathew also says that he called his ship “The Black Pearl,” and had an original design for the medallion which played central in Pirates. His script also had a character named “Elizabeth” who fell in love with a “Will Turner.” Mathew claims that, in 1991 and 1995, he left his script and drawings with employees at Disney hoping to get it greenlit, but was rejected each time. Mathew is seeking unspecified monetary damages and an injunction prohibiting the defendants from publicly displaying the movie.

A Disney spokesperson claimed the suit is without merit.

Not included in the lawsuit, however, was a stick-figure drawing Mathew made of the movie’s heroine, which had a striking resemblance to Kiera Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann, though Knightley had to put on a few pounds to play the role.


The Daily Memo - 7/12/06

check.jpgUndercover New Mexico police arrested some guys who were videotaping the cops while they were truing to bust drunk drivers. (KRQE)

check.jpgThe authors that lost a copyright infringement lawsuit against Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code,” have announced their intent to appeal. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgVonage has been sued for patent infringement, in yet another case about VoIP. (Engadget)

check.jpgIt’s being reported that the Gitmo detainees are going to be officially granted all privileges that are afforded by the Geneva Conventions, and one suspects that this decision is at least, in part, a response to the recent Hamdan decision. (CNN)

check.jpgFollowing the dismissal of $145 billion punitive damages award against tobacco companies, the widow of a smoker has filed a new non-class action lawsuit. (Law.com)

check.jpgAn Alaska judge has struck down a portion of Alaska’s criminal law against marijuana, meaning Alaskans can now legally possess up to an ounce of pot. (Guardian)

check.jpgSome registered sex offenders in Florida are fighting hard against a city ordinance that is preventing them from living near parks or schools or anyplace where kids hang out. (News 4 Jax)


The best damn bar in all of Keithsburg, Illinois?

waitress.jpgGood one for Guy Brenkman the owner of several establishments in the town Keithsburg, Illinois, including a bar called Bikini’s Bar and Grill. When potential customers read the disclaimer on his bar’s door, however, they learn that the term “bikini” only applies in a halfway kind of sense. That’s because all of Bikini’s waitress are topless.

Some local residents are ticked off about this, while others are fine with it since the bar keeps relatively quiet. But it turns out that those that are pissed can’t do anything about it because Mr. Brenkman did his homework first - he’s legally free and clear to run his business this way. There’s a local ordinance that apparently limits the liquor license for strip clubs, but the ordinance defines a strip club as a place where there is adult entertainment or “adult use.” And Mr. Brenkman’s research showed that (as with many similar laws in other localities), topless-only does not fall within this category, only all-nude does. Thus, the regular bar/liquor laws apply to Bikini’s, and nobody can pull his license. The town’s mayor, himself, has even acknowledged speaking with city lawyers and confirming that the bar would have to do something in addition to having topless servers, in order for the town to be able to pull the liquor license.

And this, boys and girls, is why it pays to do your legal homework.


“Real World” Cast Member Still in Teething Phase

paula.jpgI actually gave up watching MTV’s “The Real World” sometime after that dude in the Austin cast got walloped in the eye during what I can only imagine was a drinking game involving who could make the most absurdly banal statement about race, gender, or sexual orientation. I’m guessing the fella with the broken eye socket lost. That moment may have actually been the apex of MTV’s attempts, starting full-force in Las Vegas, to escalate the antics on “The Real World” by apparently insisting that the entire show revolve around some mythical open bar that spews its hard liquor like Yellowstone’s Old Faithful. Not that there’s anything wrong with being three tits to the wind, but MTV has a responsibility to get a more interesting cast than the folks they’ve gotten lately, who repeat an endless cycle of shots and fisticuffs before passing out halfway through a date rape.

And while it’s certainly not a low point for the any of the show’s cast members (that, arguably, would be Eric Nies’s short-lived MTV dance show, “The Grind”), this latest bit of legal trouble certainly does represent one of the silliest. Out in Connecticut, a member of this year’s Key West cast (really, MTV – just hold next year’s in a brothel, already), Paula Meronek, who is unrecognizable from the adverts in this mug shot, up and bit her goddamn boyfriend. Not once … but several times, after her boyfriend refused to let her in the house. Meronek was arraigned and charged with third-degree assault and her boyfriend was charged with disorderly conduct.

From what we here at QuizLaw understand, Paula was this year’s token anorexic, and I have to say: Biting your boyfriend certainly shows progress. I hope to hell she got some meat off that bone and that she wasn’t found, hours later, in the jail cell ladies room regurgitating the calories.

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The Daily Memo - 7/11/06

check.jpgA federal appellate court has ruled that it’s copyright infringement for companies to edit “the dirty bits” out of DVD movies and then rent or sell the clean versions. (Cinematical)

check.jpgThe Bush administration was apparently keeping intelligence programs secret from Congressional oversight committees, in possible violation of the law. (New York Times)

check.jpgA Los Angeles man has filed a lawsuit against various military officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, alleging the unconstitutionality of the administration’s detention policies. (CNN)

check.jpgA Florida (!) man was arrested at an Indiana casino for showing off his naked bits, apparently not understanding that this isn’t exactly legal. (TBO.com)

check.jpgA California judge has waived the $114 jaywalking fine given to an 82-year-old lady who was too slow in crossing the street (although he did find her guilty of jaywalking). (CNN)

check.jpgGoogle has been ordered to disclose advertiser information as part of a copyright infringement lawsuit (the advertiser in question being the alleged infringer). (Download Squad)

check.jpgThe current civil lawsuit against Michael Jackson has now gone down the expected bizarre and creepy sidetrack, with mentions of Brazilian orphans and gay porn. (Defamer)

check.jpgArkansas’ state legislature is thinking about following Utah and Alabama by passing laws banning pregnant women from doing things like smoking, in order to protect “fetal rights.” (Philly.com)


Our legal representatives, hard at work!

pitts-herr.jpgLast month, some folks in the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection decided that there was nothing really to do with their time on the taxpayer dollar and that the most pressing problem in this nation is videogame violence. During a June 14 hearing on the issue, Pennsylvania Representative Joe Pitts made the following statement:

It’s safe to say that a wealthy kid from the suburbs can play “Grand Theft Auto” without turning to a life of crime, but a poor kid who lives in a neighborhood where people really do shoot cops and steal cars and deal drugs might not be so fortunate. There’s almost certainly a child somewhere in the America who is going to be hurt by this game. Maybe his dad is in jail or his big brother is already down on the corner dealing drugs.

It’s a wholly ridiculous statement, which is why Jon Stewart gave it air time on the June 22 episode of “The Daily Show,” noting that “the House of Representatives is filled with insane jackasses.” Well Representative Pitts is apparently now trying to call shenanigans on Stewart, claiming that Stewart didn’t give him a fair shake and that he actually believes “that gratuitously violent video games are inappropriate for all children.” But he doesn’t explain why he didn’t say this during the hearing, instead of making a ridiculous statement which essentially amounts to an argument that the poor kids are more susceptible to being psychologically manipulated by videogames since there are potential drugs and violence right outside their house. Nor did this dude explain how he can blame Stewart and “The Daily Show” crew for embarrassing him by showing a clip of his own words (that don’t even appear to be out of context, which would at least give him some, albeit small, argument).

With this ridiculousness in mind, QuizLaw hereby makes its first official lesser-of-two-evils political endorsement for Pitts’ fall opponent, democrat Lois Herr. We don’t know anything about her, aside from her obligatory statement that Pitts’ comment was “an embarrassment,” but that’s why we call it the lesser-of-two-evils endorsement.


Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackers Jacks …

cracker-jack.jpgThis one definitely should be filed in the “Good to Know” category for all you future adulterers out there. In New York this week a judge has ruled that a woman who broke off her engagement with her fiancé after learning that he was still married can hang on to the $40,000 ring he gave her.

In most situations like these, an engagement ring constitutes consideration in a conditional contract to marry; if the fiancée breaks it off, she has thus broken her side of the bargain and must return the ring. Here, however, because the fiancé, Brian Callahan, was still married, the judge ruled that the contract to marry was void (even though Callahan’s divorce had been approved and only needed 90 days to be finalized) and the 3.4 carat ring thus only amounted to a gift that the fiancée, Dana Clyburn Parker, was entitled to keep. Parker dumped Callahan after learning that he was trolling online for some new ass, which makes all the more sense when you know that the two initially hooked up on Match.com, that Internet bastion for perfect coupledom.

And what’s the lesson to be learned here? Next time you decide to propose to someone while you’re still married, you might want to check the bottom of your cracker-jack box for the engagement ring. It’ll save you around $39,999.01 and you’ll still have a whole box of caramel peanut & popcorn joy after your fiancée up and dumps you.

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The Daily Memo - 7/10/06

check.jpgThe FCC is thinking about re-thinking some of its recent rulings on television indecency, in light of a pending court case. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgA U.S. Attorney’s request for the court to withdraw statements from a legal decision which criticized prosecutor policies has been firmly rejected. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgThe private jet belonging to Google’s founders is currently in the middle of several lawsuits over the plane’s renovations. (blogging stocks)

check.jpgA South Carolina minor league baseball mascot has been arrested for fondling a female fan at an April game. (SI.com)

check.jpgA California man is going to plead guilty to copyright infringement for stealing sound effects libraries from several movie studios. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgVerizon and Cingular have been pulled into class-action lawsuits - in Cingular’s case, it’s over the quality of its network, and in Verizon’s case, it’s for allegedly automatically charging customers for the optional roadside assistance feature. (Endgadget)

check.jpgAfter security found and removed a barbecue fork from a man’s briefcase, he still managed to attack a judge by throwing a knife at him, believed to be stashed in his sock. (WGAL)

check.jpgA New Hampshire court has ruled that disciplinary proceedings should not move forward against a doctor who allegedly told a fat woman she could only attract black men, and told another woman that, after her brain surgery, she should shoot herself. (Philly Burbs)


Monday Morning Quick Hits

The Monday morning after a holiday week is always the worst, ain’t it? Well, here are some blurbs to maybe pick your spirits up a little.

apprentice.jpgSome dude had applied to be on the first season of “The Apprentice” and managed to make it to the final round of selections. By that time, however, producer Mark Burnett had learned of some problems this guy had in the past, including having filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and that his mother and brother sued the local board of health after their family breakfast restaurant was closed down. So according to this guy, Burnett was not impressed by his background and allegedly defamed him, slandered him and libeled him during the final interview process, all in front of the casting crew. Which, of course, has led to a lawsuit against The Donald and Burnett. Not really sure how this guy was damaged by anything that may have been said during these interviews, but the best part of the lawsuit is this - the guy says that he thinks “his litigious history may have scared off Burnett.” He said this in his filed pleading against Burnett. Come on!

jordan.jpgAnd here’s an even more ridiculous defamation lawsuit. There’s this guy who thinks he totally looks like Michael Jordan. And apparently others do too, and they talk about him and point at him. Not happy with this unwarranted recognition, he has sued Michael Jordan and Nike for defamation. Jordan has allegedly caused him serious emotional injury, and Nike has too because it’s promoted Jordan, making him more recognizable than he otherwise might be. And to make it even more ridiculous, this dude is suing for over $800 million, a number he arrived at in a most interesting way: “Well, you figure with my age and you multiply that times seven and ah, then I turn around and ah I figure that’s what it all boils down to.” …if I ever go back to practicing trial law again, I’m totally hiring this guy as my damages expert.

cellphone.jpgAnd finally, let’s turn from lawsuits to the actual courtroom itself. It’s a pretty common courtroom policy that you turn your cell phone off when court is in session. The court clerk or some other court employee usually even announces this before the judge comes out from chambers. So I can understand a judge getting pissed when a cell phone is left on and goes off during a court session. Well this has apparently happened to a California federal judge one too many times, because he snapped last week. During a sentencing hearing in a tax case, a cell phone went off. The judge stormed off his bench toward the phone’s owner and told her to give him the phone. She complied, and he promptly walked over to the courtroom doors and hucked it out of the courtroom. He then ordered the court marshals to round up every other cell phone in the room. The judge is very contrite about the whole thing now, but I think it’s kinda’ awesome. I don’t necessarily want to make an appearance before a judge with such a short fuse, but the world needs judges like these, just for this kind of story. And even if the world doesn’t need these kind of things to happen, QuizLaw does, ‘cause it makes it very easy to come up with entries like this. So we here at QuizLaw thank you, Judge Shubb.


U.G.L.Y. You ain’t got no alibi: You ugly! Hey! Hey! You ugly.

starjones.jpgIt’s one thing, ladies and gentlemen, to get up in arms if your fiancée cheats on you, has a credit-card problem, or has a weird obsession with Wizard of Oz tchochkes. But hell, there’s no reason to bring a lawsuit because your bride-to-be is ugly!

But, that’s exactly what a traditional Hindu family out in Massachusetts is doing. Indeed, Vijai Pandey filed a lawsuit against his friends who tried to arrange a marriage between his son and their niece. Apparently, after spending loads of cash on long-distance phone calls and airfare, the family went out to India only to learn that the niece was a bit on the coyote-ugly side. According to the lawsuit, Pandey claimed that they were “extremely shocked to find … she was ugly … with protruded bad teeth, and couldn’t speak English to hold a conversation,” and also had a bad complexion. The Pandey family is seeking $200,000 in damages – good god, she must have been hideous.

Though it hasn’t been filed yet, we expect the niece’s family to bring their own countersuit any day now, seeking $500,000 because Pandey is an asshole. If successful, however, this lawsuit does beg the question: How much is Star Jones’ husband entitled to?


The Daily Memo - 7/7/06

check.jpgPacifica’s city council is considering banning smoking, not because of the dangers of secondhand smoke but because cigarette butts are littering up the beaches. (SFGate)

check.jpgFlorida’s Supreme Court has thrown out the $145 billion punitive damages verdict assessed against various tobacco companies in 2000, finding the amount to be excessive as a matter of law. (Law.com)

check.jpgFour California men have been arrested for stealing an ATM machine with a forklift; said ATM machine was found in one of the men’s back yards. (KCRA)

check.jpgA New York man who spent over 20 years in the clink has been released thanks to DNA evidence showing that he didn’t actually commit the rape he was originally convicted of. (AP)

check.jpgColorado prosecutors have offered a plea deal to Broncos quarterback Jeff Plummer to settle charges stemming from his alleged road rage “incident” back in May. (ESPN)

check.jpgThe Federal Circuit is sending the eBay v. MercExchange patent case, remanded by the Supreme Court, back down to the District Cout. (Patently-O)


What the hell is with folks attacking animals this week?

cats.jpgEarlier this week, the winner of “Survivor Thailand” was arrested for shooting his neighbor’s dog, which made the terrible mistake of wandering onto his property, with an arrow. The pooch survived, happily. Now, word comes of a second incident involving two pets which were not as lucky as the neighborly dog.

Twenty-year-old Kentucky man David May allegedly found his neighbor’s cat on his car and decided the best course of action to take would be to swat the cat off his car and shoot it with his rifle. So he did so. May’s neighbor, Arlon White, started off reasonably, wandering over to May’s mobile home to find out what the hell was up. But then he apparently decided to enact his own brand of trailer park justice by taking May’s innocent little cat and allegedly choking it, tossing it onto the driveway and telling May, “now we’re even.” Apparently, neither men realized that there were these little pesky laws out there about not being cruel to animals and so, of course, they’ve both been arrested and charged with animal cruelty. They’re scheduled to make their court appearances in the end of August.

Now, I hate cats as much as the next Kentucky trailer park guy (although, I suppose they don’t hate cats all that much, since they each owned one). But even still, this is just wrong on so many levels. Seriously, people, stop taking out your anger and neighborly dispute on the animals, would you. Think of the pets, won’t you please think of the pets?

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Apparently, There Aren’t Enough Marriage Licences to Go Around

gay-marriage.jpgThough we generally reserve longer court-opinion write ups for Supreme Court cases, we make a special exception today for Hernandez v. Robles (PDF of the Opinion), otherwise known as the New York Court of Appeals case that fails to recognize the state constitutional legitimacy of same-sex marriage.

The New York Court of Appeals takes the easy way out here, basically blaming the Legislature. The court not only suggests that the question of same-sex marriage is best left to the state legislature, but says that when the legislature enacted the law that governs marriage 97 years ago, it implicitly intended that same-sex couples could not wed. New York state legislature: The ball is now in your court.

The facts are few: 44 same-sex couples in New York applied for, and were denied, marriage licenses. So they all brought their cases to the court system, and their cases were consolidated. The central question: Is the restriction of marriage to same-sex couples invalid under the New York constitution.

In the majority opinion, the court acknowledges that the Domestic Relations Law (which governs NY marriage) doesn’t come right out and say that same-sex couples were not allowed to marry; however, the court asserts that this was the universal understanding when the law was passed in 1909 (though, interracial marriage was not allowed at the time, either). Moreover, the law refers in general to “man” and “wife,” “bridge” and “groom,” etc., suggesting that the law was limited to opposite sex couples.

So the big question is whether the limitation is valid under the New York constitution, and the court says it is. In essence, the court suggests that the Legislature could limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, precluding same-sex couples, based on the ole’ “welfare of the children” argument. The court asserts, perhaps ignorantly, that heterosexual marriages provide more “stability and permanence” in their relationships, and that homosexual marriages could be seen as more casual and thus dangerous to children. The court also falls back on the usual “it is better for children to grow up with both a mother and a father” argument, an assumption the court makes not based on scientific evidence, but on “common sense.” Ah – yes. Good ole’ “common sense.”

The court also addresses the differences between interracial marriage and homosexual marriage by concluding that the struggle to legalize marriage between different races was a lengthy one with a long history of discrimination behind it. The court then suggests, rather mysteriously, that homosexual couples have not suffered enough yet to warrant their own marital rights.

The dissent basically argues that the right to marry is fundamental, and the majority opinion was wrong to conclude that gay marriage is not a fundamental right. “Simply put, fundamental rights are fundamental rights,” the dissent states. “They are not defined in terms of who is entitled to exercise them.” Moreover, the dissent argues, “discriminatory views about proper marriage partners can no more prevent same-sex couples from marrying than they could different-race couples. Nor can ‘deeply rooted’ prejudices uphold the infringement of a fundamental right.”

My favorite line from the dissent, however, is as follows: “While encouraging opposite-sex couples to marry before they have children is certainly a legitimate interest of the state, the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from marriage in no way furthers this interest. There are enough marriage licenses to go around for everyone.” (italics mine). The dissent also states that it is absurd to limit marriage to heterosexual couples based on the reasoning that it encourages them to procreate, especially since elderly couples are allowed to marry and prisoners have a fundamental right to marriage even if they aren’t allowed to procreate. Finally, the dissent thinks it’s ridiculous to leave the issue up to the legislature, based on the fact that the Supreme Court did not leave up to the legislature the question of whether different-race couples could marry, i.e., it did not wait around until all the states decided it was okay for a black man to marry a white woman — it stepped up and properly extended a fundamental right to everyone, regardless of race.


The Daily Memo – 7/6/06

check.jpgThe Supremes have gotten involved in a San Diego battle over a cross monument standing on public land, issuing a stay on a state court’s order to take down the cross. (Law.com)

check.jpgSigh…Rush Limbaugh is not going to be charged for smuggling Viagra into the country. (CNN)

check.jpgDid Justice Scalia lose his mojo this term? (Slate)

check.jpgThe Electronic Frontier Foundation has put together a top ten list of the patents it thinks are invalid and improperly impinging free expression. (Wired News)

check.jpgIran is asking the feds to step-in because a Chicago court has ruled that a university museum must sell off Iranian artifacts to compensate Hamas bombing victims. (Sun Times)

check.jpgA former clerk from the Oakland Housing Authority is expected to be arrested soon for allegedly taking bribes to help folks skirt long waits for public housing. (East Bay Express)

check.jpgA Palm Beach sheriff isn’t sure how to go about seizing intellectual property. (The Business Journal)

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“I’d like to steal secrets from Coke…”

pepsicoke.jpgThe FBI has busted three hoodwinkers trying to sell Coca-Cola trade secrets to Pepsi. The group includes one Coke insider, an executive administrative assistant, who was caught on film going through files and stashing a sample of a new Coke product into a personal bag. The three sent a letter to Pepsi offering it juicy internal secrets from Coke, and Pepsi immediately notified Coke about the situation. Coca-Cola then went to the feds, and the FBI began its undercover sting which ended up leading to the thieves’ downfall yesterday, when they thought they were about sell off some goods for $1.5 million.

I know that, in the big picture, Pepsi totally did the right thing here. But at the same time, would it have killed them to maybe buy the secrets, take a peak, then turn it all over to Coke and say, “hey, we caught some bad guys for you” - you know, essentially have conducted the sting themselves? I mean, that way, there would be a chance that they could actually do something to improve the taste of their sugary sweet swill, and maybe reignite the Cola Wars to their former glory of the 80’s. Anything that goes back to the way it was in the 80’s can’t be a bad thing, right?


What If No One Started the Fire?

billy_joel.jpgWe love it when scum-sucking dumbasses and the legal system intersect, so, unsurprisingly, we were a big fan of the following story: Out in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the city made popular by the Billy Joel ditty, Cassey Weierbach, 27, has stooped to heretofore unheard levels of assholery. Indeed, the woman has been traveling the lecture circuit for a while with her inspirational story about surviving being raped and infected with AIDS as a child.

The only problem: She made it all up.

The state has since charged her with deception, forgery, tampering with evidence, and making false statements, alleging that Weierbach defrauded Pennsylvania taxpayers of $66,000 in medical benefits. And that doesn’t even include the amounts she must have earned from telling her “story” to churches, youth groups, and medical conferences. Weierbach has further been accused of falsifying laboratory records to show she had the disease, a fabrication that was revealed, in part, when she refused AIDS medication.

It brings a whole new meaning to the first lyric of “Allentown’s” chorus: They never taught us what was real. Cassey Weierbach: You win today’s gold medal for most despicable person in all of Pennsylvania.

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The Daily Memo - 7/5/06

check.jpgSome California judges are balking at the idea that they may have to join the majority of judges in this nation by being required to take continuing legal education courses. (May It Please The Court)

check.jpgA woman claiming to be Marlon Brando’s “major domo” has sued the executors of his will, alleging that they forged a codicil and used it to fraudulently take control of Brando’s estate. (CNN)

check.jpgA Pennsylvania court of appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling that the town of Eldred is enjoined from using a local baseball field until a fence is put up. (Centre Daily)

check.jpgThe trademark battle over smiley faces is on! (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgMichael Douglas has settled a lawsuit he filed against companies that were using footage of him from an educational promo, without his permission, in their own advertisements. (CNN)


The NBA…it’s faaaaaaaaantastic

griffin.jpgThe center for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Eddie Griffin, has just been sued for $50,000. The lawsuit was brought by two Minneapolis men, one of whom owns a Chevy Suburban. The problem with the Suburban, according to the lawsuit, is that it was hit and damaged by Griffin’s Cadillac Escalade at 2:30 in the morning back in March. And the reason Griffin’s Escalade hit the SUV is because Griffin was allegedly drunk. The accident took place outside of the brothers’ grocery store, and they say the’ve got footage from the store’s video surveillance showing Griffin not only acting drunk, but admitting to being drunk.

Meanwhile, when the cops showed up following a 911 call, Griffin allegedly tried to bribe them. And the cops, according to the lawsuit, didn’t bother to give Griffin a field sobriety test despite signs of his inebriated state, and then even drove him home to St. Paul. So the brothers are also suing the local police chief and the responding officers, alleging violations of their civil rights.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that Griffin wasn’t only drunk, but was allegedly watching a porn DVD and masturbating at the time he crashed into their Suburban? Thank you Eddie Griffin, you just saved the need for me to try to be funny or come up with a punchline to this story. Well done, sir.


5 U.S.C. § 6103


fourth.jpg

Title 5, Part III, Subpart E, Chapter 61, Subchapter I, Section 6103.
Holidays

(a) The following are legal public holidays:

      New Year’s Day, January 1.

      Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the third Monday in January.

      Washington’s Birthday, the third Monday in February.

      Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.

      Independence Day, July 4.

      Labor Day, the first Monday in September.

      Columbus Day, the second Monday in October.

      Veterans Day, November 11.

      Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November.

      Christmas Day, December 25.

….


Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech

bilde.jpgAs we approach the 4th of July holiday, it’s nice to remember that we all have the First Amendment right to say damn near anything we want. Fortunately, however, if we are, say, the mayor of a small town and we say something hateful, bigoted, or just downright stupid, “we, the people,” reserve the right to kick the mayor’s ass right out of office.

Indeed, that’s what the prosecutor’s office is doing out in Cooperstown, Tennessee – population 3,176. According to a lawsuit filed to remove Mayor David Crosby (pictured to the left in all his hate-filled glory) from office, this backwards thinking asshole was fond of racial slurs, tried to arrest political enemies, and targeted military men and Hispanics for traffic tickets because soldiers would be more likely to “mail their fines rather than to come to Court to contest the Citations,” and Hispanics were “mostly illegal anyway,” and would want to avoid court.

Moreover, Crosby is accused of asking an officer to arrest a woman for DUI, even if it meant planting a bottle of liquor on her. Perhaps most despicable, however, was an allegation that, after swearing in an officer on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, he congratulated him by saying, “Happy James Earl Ray,” day.

Well, here’s hoping, Mayor Crosby, that you succumb to the same liver disease that befell James Earl Ray. To borrow a line from Keith Olbermann: Mr. Crosby - today, you are the worst person in the world!


The Daily Memo - 7/3/06

check.jpgA Kentucky judge donated one of his kidneys to an ill prosecutor, doing a good deed but creating an ethical dilemma. (Indystar)

check.jpgGood ol’ Florida - state legislators have been busted, on video, improperly submitting votes on behalf of their absent colleagues. (Tampa Bay’s 10)

check.jpgSome House members are suddenly worried about the subjectivity of the MPAA’s rating system after a movie with religious content got tagged with a PG rating. (Yahoo & Cinematical)

check.jpgThe “penis pump” judge has been convicted of four counts of indecent exposure. (Law.com)

check.jpgA Minnesota cop was arrested after a “suspect” called 911 from the back of the patrol car to report the cop’s abusive behavior. (KSTP)

check.jpgThe majority of SCO’s copyright claims in the Linux lawsuit have been thrown out. (KSL)

check.jpgThe always insightful Dahlia Lithwick shows how important Justice Kennedy has become to the tone and tenor of the Supreme Court. (Slate)


Yet another reason not to date lawyers

hulkhogan.jpgSo there’s this website called dontdatehimgirl.com, where women can post profiles about men who they deem to be undateworthy. These profiles include tales of sexual prowess, intelligence, faithfulness, etc. (or, rather, lack thereof of these things). Well, a Pennsylvania attorney has decided that he’s not happy with his profile, compiled by three former girlfriends. Said profile includes implications that he’s got an STD, that he once failed at his attempts to become a professional wrestler, and that he’s a womanizer. Our attorney friend is none-too-pleased, so I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that he’s suing.

Specifically, he has sued the owner of the site, as well as the users who contributed to his profile, claiming that they have defamed him. His suit against the website itself is pretty much a non-starter. While internet law is still a baby in the legal landscape, the majority of case law out there is pretty clear that web hosts are not generally liable for the independent comments posted on their sites by users. The users themselves, however, could be liable if they are in fact making these things up. But to win his case, of course, this lawyer would have to prove that all of these things are false, which could make for an entertaining trial if it were to ever get that far.

But the moral of this story is clear. And it’s not actually that you shouldn’t date lawyers, jokey title of this entry aside (while many of our chosen profession should be avoided at all costs, there are some good folks out there too). The real moral of this story is that you should never date anyone who tried to be a professional wrestler. Seriously, nothing good can come from it.


What freedom of the press is all about

firstamendment.jpgIn honor of the upcoming anniversary of our nation’s independence, you should go read this pointed and well-stated op-ed piece jointly authored by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times editors. Published over the weekend, the editors offer a response to the Presidential administrations’ ire and anger over their publication of stories about the Fed’s bank records investigations.