Monthly Archives: September 2006
The Best Fucking Divorce Lawyer in America
This man has clearly seen Crazy People a few too many times. But we’re still a little smitten this morning.
QuizLaw’s Blawger Hotties Contest
We here at QuizLaw like David Lat. He seems like an uber-swell guy, the type of Yalie who would give up a prestigious law firm career to work for the government, and then give that up to blog full time (so far as we can tell). And a guy who gives up $150K+ a year to wax poetic about legal industry news, clerkships, or a judge’s masturbation habits is a guy we can totally get behind. Plus, it’s fantastic that there’s someone out there to bring the Gawker sensibility to an otherwise largely conventional or humorless section of the blogosphere, especially when all we can muster is our own second-rate Pajiba-like sensibility.
And though his efforts to highlight the few of the more aesthetically tolerable ERISA lawyers gained a small amount of controversy, we applaud Lat for boldly objectifying all four qualifying “hotties.” And now Abovethelaw — in another blog-stunt (and it’s not even sweeps yet!) — has decided to run a similar contest in an effort to find the Hottest Law School Dean in America (we humbly suggest our own law school’s current dean, Maureen O’Rourke, who should have her own Van Halen video). We say Kudos! once again.
Indeed, in the spirit of Above the Law’s “Hotties” Contest, we’ve decided to run our own similarly themed competition for “Hottest Blawger.” But, because we’re not trying to court controversy, we’re going to skip the whole nomination and voting process, and just arrive with our winner. After all, no offense, but Eugene Volokh, Peter Lattman, Ann Althouse, Walter Olson, Stephen Bainbridge, and Glen Reynolds — while fantastic Blawgers — aren’t exactly melting any panties, though we’d probably offer Howard Bashman and Jeremy Blachman as our honorable mentions.
It’s really not much of a contest, though. QuizLaw’s Hottest Blawger is, without a doubt, the aforementioned David Lat. We’re unabashedly heterosexual males here at QL (suggested by the many Hooters stories we run), but I have to confess a little bit of a man-crush on Lat. We’ve only found two available photos of him, but it’s obvious that he’s a dapper young man. He’s a little short for our tastes, but he’s so nicely dressed, and his hair is so well-coifed, that it’s just too hard to resist him. And that pink umbrella – well, it just has a way of magically bringing out his winning smile. Add to that his straight teeth; broad nose; proportional ears; rounded chin; those dark, mysterious eyes; and his beautiful glowing skin, and I think the choice was more or less made for us.
Just admit ladies and gentlemen, David Lat is fucking H-A-W-T! And by any account I’ve come across, he’s single, available, AND loves Scalia. If that’s not a man you want to bring home to Mom, well, I dunno who is.
The Daily Memo - 9/28/06
Starbucks is being sued by a local Seattle retailer which claims that Starbucks had become an “insatiable and unchecked” monopoly. (Blogging Stocks)
Fantasia Barrino’s dad is suing her memoir publisher for alleged lies in the book. (reality blurred)
Turns out that Anna Nicole’s baby may have been sired by her lawyer, though a photojournalist says otherwise. (The Superficial)
A federal judge has suspended the Kentucky law banning protests of military funerals within 300 feet of the services. (FindLaw)
I need me a boom stick!
So the town of Nolensville, Tennessee has an ethics code and local Alderman Larry Felts spent a considerable amount of time, thought and effort researching and drafting the code. Apparently, however, he didn’t bother to actually read the code. That’s right - the man responsible for Nolensville’s ethics code has now become the first person to be charged under the code! A complaint was filed by a fellow Alderman, although the specific allegations remain unknown at the moment.
If Alderman Felts wants to beat that charge, QuizLaw suggests that he get himself a big ol’ boom stick. ‘Cause Mr. Eko has a big boom stick. And now Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (the actor who plays Eko on “Lost”) has had his traffic violation case dropped. See, those Hawaii prosecutors get it - big boom stick equals more trouble than it’s worth. You taking notes Alderman Felts?
Orwellian or Good Policy?
In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg and his administration are proposing a law that would ban the use of trans-fat in the city’s 24,000 restaurants, which would require many of those restaurants to rejigger their menus to accommodate the policy. Trans-fat, of course, comes from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarines, and some shortenings, and some experts allege that trans-fat is the cause of death for over 500 NYC residents a year. It can also lead to obesity, diabetes, and other health problems.
I’ll admit that I’m of two minds on the issue. On the one hand, I suppose Bloomberg and Co., should be applauded for actually doing something about health policies in NYC. Trans-fat is easily replaceable, and the artery-clogging substance does lead to an enormous amount of health problems. If the city can create policies that establish a minimum warranty of habitability in its housing, perhaps it’s a positive step to do the same thing with the food we eat, even if it does mean that Krispy Kreme will have to make modifications to its donut glaze.
But on the other hand, it does sound awfully Orwellian, doesn’t it? Should we be letting the government dictate what we can and cannot eat? I can certainly understand forcing restaurants to warn its customers that the foods they serve contain dangerous fatty acids, but shouldn’t the citizenry have the choice as to whether to consume the food? And what will this policy do to the restaurants – will it result in higher costs, which will be shifted to the consumers? But then again, the cheaper costs of using trans-fat has already been shifted to our health care budgets, which rise under the weight of heart disease and obesity in the country.
So, is it a good policy? Honestly, I don’t know. But the fact that “top industry groups” are criticizing the proposal leads me to believe that I might just favor it. I’ve never been a fan of the “top industry groups.”
The Daily Memo - 9/27/06
The Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006 is going to W for his John Hancock. (The TTABlog)
Bacardi is being sued by three chicks who got burned after some 151 caught on fire (Bacardi claims the fire’s cause was the rubbing alcohol dumped onto the bar). (WGAL)
Poor Paris Hilton has been charged with a DUI. (The Superficial)
The jury in Junior Gotti’s trial is deadlocked and I can’t say I blame them - I’d be pretty hesitant to ever find any Gotti guilty of anything. (CNN)
To the surprise of some Tampa business owners, it’s illegal to have big electric signs on your business if the image or message changes more than once a day. (St. Petersburg Times)
Microsoft is being sued by a Seattle construction company over the name “forefront.” (Download Squad)
And Microsoft is also suing - this time, it’s after folks for copyright infringement, for their breaking of MS’ digital rights management. (Engadget)
Fly the friendly skies, but leave your First Amendment at home
Ok, so this needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, since it comes from a post on a bulletin board over at flyertalk (which calls itself “the world’s most popular frequent flyer community”). But it certainly has the ring of truth to it, and it’s damning enough to be worth sharing (damning, yes; surprising, no).
So this dude was traveling out of the Milwaukee airport yesterday, and got to take advantage of the new leniency regarding taking liquids on-board (as I imagine you’ve heard, we’re now allowed small amounts of liquids and gels, with their containers put into a clear quart-sized plastic bag). He decided to label his clear bag with a nice little political statement: “Kip Hawley is an Idiot.” Kip Hawley being the current director of the TSA. You can read this chap’s fully detailed recounting of the story here, but the gist is that he was held-up by TSA agents and local sheriffs deputies for about a half-hour, just because he had this on his little bag. He wasn’t arrested or issued any citation, although he was harassed a bit and faced a threat of having his little baggy confiscated.
The highlight of the story, however, is when a TSA agent informed him that while he has First Amendment rights “out there,” he has no such rights “in here.” Nice, right?
Another day, another stupid fucking lawsuit. And yet lawyers continue to file similar, merit-less challenges in an attempt to gain some press and, I suspect, make families feel better for screwing up their children. Plus, lawyers get the added benefit of delivering bad news when their client loses, something I imagine fills them with glee when they ask for their fees.
Indeed, it wasn’t bad enough that family members sued Judas Priest for allegedly imbedding subliminal messages into their music, which purportedly drove their children to suicide. Or the time when some enterprising lawyers went after Oliver Stone, suing him for wrongful death after a couple of dumbass teenagers went on a killing spree, blaming the film Natural Born Killers. But now family members are suing the makers of “Grand Theft Auto” for $600 million, claiming that the video game drove a 14-year-old to kill his father, stepmother, and step-sister.
The suit here alleges that several companies — including Sony, Take-Two Interactive, and Rockstar Games — should’ve known that the videogame would “spawn copycat violence.” Lawyers also allege that the game trained the kid “to point and shoot a gun in a fashion making him an extraordinarily effective killer without teaching him any of the constraints or responsibilities needed to inhibit such a killing capacity.” If “Grand Theft Auto” was that effective, it ought to be used for law enforcement training exercises.
Fortunately, the lawyers do have enough common sense to also sue Cody Posey, the kid who actually pulled the trigger. But, the lawsuit may fail there as well, since Posey is claiming that he committed the murders because his father had abused him for years. He said he finally pulled the trigger after his father yelled at him for not cleaning horse stalls fast enough. I’m not sure how well that argument went over in his criminal trial, but he does get out of jail when he’s 21. I hope someone keeps him away from video games once he’s out of the clink.
The Daily Memo - 9/26/06
A very amusing hierarchy of legal scholarship (I’m particularly partial to number 9 on the list). (Is That Legal?)
QuizLaw’s former law school dean, Ron Cass, says that an antitrust lawsuit against Intel is akin to claiming that Tiger Woods is a dominant golfer because of unfair antitrust-like advantages. (WSJ Law Blog)
David Gest’s $10 million lawsuit against his estranged wife Liza Minnelli has been tossed out of court by the judge because Gest didn’t offer evidence to rebut Minnelli’s evidence that “Gest’s headaches were caused by a strain of herpes that causes shingles and not by beatings.” (CNN)
Florida’s hazing law, one of the toughest in the country, is being put to the test as five Kappa Alpha Psi brothers are being charged for the alleged blindfolding, paddling and punching of a pledge. (CNN)
A class-action lawsuit has been certified against Big Tobacco for allegedly deceiving smokers by advertising some cigarettes as “light.” (WSJ Law Blog)
AOL has been sued by some of its subscribers because of its public release of search request data. (Slashdot)
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I love these great Hollywood lawsuits that are all about “hey, you know this monster big hit of yours - well I’m the man and actually came up with it first, so gimme some money!” The latest such lawsuit pits one Anthony Spinner against ABC and Touchstone Television Productions over some little show called “Lost.” Now, to be fair, Spinner has some legitimate writing and production credits to his name, including “Baretta” and “Mod Squad,” so he’s not the total quack that some of these folks who file such lawsuits are.
Nevertheless, his claims still rely upon a submission from 30 years ago! For you see, back in 1976, Spinner claims that he entered into a contract with ABC and a production company to write and produce a pilot. Spinner’s complaint alleges that the script got tossed onto the backburner, but that there was an agreement that he’d get some money if any of his ideas were used down the road. So knock, knock - here’s Mr. Spinner looking for his payout. Overall, Spinner alleges some 20 similarities between his original script, and ABC’s smash hit. For example, the focus of his pilot was on a group of folks who get stranded on an island when their LA-destined plane crashes, and the major characters included a doctor, a military man, and females with criminal pasts.
While ABC and Touchstone won’t comment, there is a 2005 letter from ABC to Spinner’s attorneys which is included in Spinner’s complaint. In this letter, it says that “ABC searched its archives and found no evidence of either the contract alleged in your [prior] complaint (or any similar contract) or any written ‘Lost’ script from your client.” Spinner claims that they do still have the script, and that it was given to J.J. Abrams and used to develop “Lost.” Part of Spinner’s circumstantial evidence to prove this point includes statements by the show’s producers that they were able to develop the show’s outline in just five days.
What’s interesting about this story to me is that the original production company Spinner allegedly contracted with, along with ABC, was Sid and Marty Krofft Productions. For many folks, Krofft is probably best known for “H.R. Pufnstuf,” which was about a kid who found a magical island. They also did the 90’s version of “Land of the Lost,” about a family who gets trapped in this parallel universe with exotic critters and dinosaurs in a jungle (and it’s even got “Lost” right there in the title). All of which is to say, I kinda’ wish that this story were true and that Krofft had made “Lost.” Can you imagine what it would’ve been like when Locke climbed down the hatch, only to find one of those creepy puppet guys waiting for him. Would’ve been much better than Desmond, I can tell you that much.
Deliverance Invades our Legal System
Here in my part of the world, New York state, the New York Times has uncovered a slew of abuses and outright incompetence in the court system, primarily in the rural parts of the state. The slide show, which depicts many of the courts —some of which look like broken-down trailer homes — is fascinating in and of itself. But, the Times 8-page exposé is well worth the read. In it, William Glaberson uncovers a lot of damning information about these 1250 courts, several which are not even run by lawyer-trained judges (some are sewer workers or truck drivers, and at least one didn’t even finish grade school).
The anecdotes that Glaberson offers are outright shocking, including one high-school educated judge who said of a woman seeking a restraining order against her husband that, “Every woman needs a good pounding every now and then.” Another judge denied an objection when a black man was described as a “colored man,” and convicted him anyway, noting “I could understand if he would have called you a Negro, or he had called you a nigger.” Yet another judge took a 17-year-old’s not guilty plea and then, instead of sending the homeless girl to a shelter, he brought her home.
Perhaps most disconcerting about these abuses — beyond the financial mismanagement and the power anointed to people with little or no education — is the countless numbers of abuses and discretions that can’t be uncovered. Why? Because the state doesn’t require that most of these courts even maintain records or transcripts of hearings. And when you can’t even rely on the law to protect you, or even refer the indiscretions to a higher court when there are no records, living in rural America has got to be plain scary.
The Daily Memo - 9/25/06
Defense lawyers in New Orleans are finding themselves stuck in a bit of a bind. (The Legal Reader)
American Airlines is being sued by a lady who got attacked by a spider while on a flight. (UPI)
If only he had turned green and said “Clinton SMASH!!”
Clinton was on Fox News over the weekend, getting interviewed by Chris Wallace, and he got just a tad tweaked at Fox’s political angle. This video (split up into two parts on YouTube, because of YouTube’s overall clip-length restriction) is all over the internets, but if you ain’t seen it yet, it’s worth a watch:
Nothing gets the Monday morning blood flowing like a little porn
Good ol’ Florida. Nothing beats Florida. Only there do you hear about a Tallahassee judge who’s been reprimanded by the state’s highest court for spending time in his chambers using the ol’ work computer to look at porn. The 60-year-old judge begged for forgiveness, apologizing profusely, but the state Supreme Court wasn’t having much of it. Although they did throw him a bone by letting him ride out his term, which expires at the end of the year.
I wonder if our little porn-surfing judge ever stumbled across pictures of Stephanie Adams, a 35-year-old former Playboy Playmate (she was 1992’s Miss November)? If so, he could’ve argued that he was actually doing legal work. That’s because Miss November has sued the city of New York, as well as the NYPD and a New York taxi driver, in a rather bizarre case.
You see, last May, Miss November hailed herself a cab to take her home. Now, she says she ended up getting into an argument with the cabbie over where he should drop her off. The cabbie, meanwhile, says there was an argument because she was refusing to pay the fare. He also claims that she said she had a gun and threatened to shoot him. In any event, the cabbie called 911 and filed a report that his fare, this Miss November, had a gun (in her lawsuit, she accuses the cab driver, among other things, of filing a false report). Miss November also called 911 herself, after the cabbie allegedly pushed a car door into her while she was getting out.
Meanwhile, after she got out of the cab, some plainclothes cops showed up, guns a-blazing. They snatched her handbag and threw her to the ground, holding her down until they realized that there was no gun actually in her purse. So that’s why she’s suing them and the city. Now, I can maybe see why she’s suing the cab driver, maybe. But if the cops get a report about a cab fare having a gun and threatening to shoot it, aren’t they kind of entitled to check the situation out and look into whether or not there is a crazy with a gun? And that would probably include tossing the alleged weapon holder to the gound while they search her belongings, right? So I’m not really sure about her case against the cops.
But anyway, the best part of the story comes out fo the fact that the cab driver is currently suspended. The reason is that the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission conducted an investigation after this incident occurred, and I guess they didn’t buy into his story - at least, the part where he says that he called 911, not just because she threatened to shoot him, but because she “flashed her ‘vampire teeth’” at him. He now denies the vampire teeth bit, but I’m inclined to believe said it, and I love it.
Maybe he’s a werewolf, in which case, the whole thing was understandable. I mean, if you’ve seen Underworld, you know there’s this whole war between them. It would also explain why she threatened to shoot him, if she was a vampire and knew he was a lycanthrope. How do you kill a werewolf? …shoot ‘em with silver bullets! See, I’ve got it all figured out!
The Daily Memo - 9/22/06
An asshole who admits to tearing off the head of his girlfriend’s cat gets to spend the next two years in the clink. (CNN)
American Express has been sued over its “My Life, My Card” ad campaign. (Yahoo! News)
A Utah judge declined to sentence a female high-school teacher to jail for blowing a 17-year-old student because she was a she. (World Net Daily)
With over 3 months still to go, 2006 has already set a record for the most software patents issued by the PTO. (Slashdot)
Don’t piss off the mathematicians - one is claiming that a New Yorker article defamed him and that he may have “to consider other options.” (Slashdot)
The new CW network has already been sued, for allegedly pinching the idea for its sitcom “The Game.” (Zap2It)
Do you need three more reasons to hate Congress? (Slate)
What took so bloody long?
Maybe it’s just me, but this week seemed to drag on and on, with it taking forever for Friday to get here. But Friday it is, and let’s celebrate with some tidbits and nuggets, shall we?
First up, down in San Antonio, someone stole these two big 500-pound bronze lions from the front steps of the Law Offices of Pat Maloney (they’re valued at $15K a pop). Two things I love about this story. First is how attached folks apparently were to these lions. Said founder Pat Maloney’s daughter, who purchased the statues in 1996, “[t]hey were courageous, noble, but gentle.” A paralegal added, “[t]hey were you and your mom.” Indeed. But, better then the statuary sentimentality, is this bit of brilliance from the investigators, who have no leads: they figure it must have taken at least two people to pull this off. …at least two people to move 1,000 pounds of statue? I’m amazed.
Next up, a bit of good news following-up on a story we told you about last month (in one of my favorite stupid entry titles yet, “Hush little baby, don’t say a turd…”). Happy days are here again thanks to the Las Vegas City Council, which has put the kibosh on that silly rule banning folks from sleeping near urine and feces. Free at last, free at last!
Quick note to self. If drinking, and if needing to go to the police station to check on my buddy who just got busted for a DWI, do not drive to the police station. There’s more than one DWI available, and I just might get one too.
And finally, a great little story. During a prostitution sting, surprise surprise, a hooker got busted. But, she didn’t busted for the prostitution so much. Instead, she and a friend are now facing charges of criminal impersonation and conspiracy. This is because she was pretending to be an undercover cop, likely in an attempt to extort money from johns. So, uhm, fake hooker sting run by hooker busted by real hooker sting run by non-hooker.
Urine … You’re Out.
Today’s theme: Human waste. Because nothing says funny like pee (and I’m sorry that I didn’t save the account of the postal worker who urinated in his co-workers’ coffee for today).
First up, McKeesport, Pennslyvania, where someone has pled guilty to disorderly conduct after he filled a fake penis with urine he was going to use to pass a drug test and get a job. The hangup: He stuck it in a microwave at a convenience store, prompting the clerk to call the cops, fearing the penis was real.
Second: A woman in Puttnam, Connecticut — who works at a drug treatment center — was arrested for 1) being high on heroin, 2) crashing her car, 3) while pregnant, and 4) having her three-year old daughter in the backseat. The twist: The woman had drugs, a needle, and a bottle of her daughter’s urine in the backseat! Why? She was going to use it to help her husband pass a drug test and get a job.
Third: A woman is Virginia Beach was arrested for drunk driving after police discovered she had a blood-alcohol level of .44, or five times over the legal limit. Police discovered her after a witness called 911 informing them that a woman — behind the wheel of a $50,000 BMW — had passed out. When police arrived, the woman honked her horn at the cops and sprayed windshield wiper fluid on them. The bodily fluid angle: She’d also shat herself. Police had to smash the car window to retrieve her.
Fourth: A Dallas man, with a string of convictions for carjacking, possession, theft, etc., was sentenced to an extra 99 years in prison. Why? Because while he was in jail, he harassed a jailer by throwing his urine on him!
And finally, my favorite entry: Though the accounts differ, at least one witness identified a homeless man who walked into a Shoprite, lined up at the check out line, allegedly climbed upon the conveyor belt, and urinated all over the cash register. The man — who possibly had a weak bladder — is still at large. Cashiers of New York: Beware.
And on a personal note: I was watching “Boston Legal” last night, when I was surprised to hear a witness being referred to as a man by the name of Eugene Volokh. All things considered, it’s pretty cool to give a shout out to the godfather of legal blogs. But, c’mon David Kelly. We’re legal bloggers, we attended your alma mater, and you even spoke at our graduation. Where’s the love, man? Maybe next time one of your characters is arrested for public urination, you’ll think of us, eh?
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
The Phillies are in a very tight race for the NL wildcard, but all local Philadelphians know they’ll blow it right at the bitter end. And the Eagles are just coming off one of the most heartbreaking collapses in recent memory. So it’s understandable that tensions are high in my hometown, where folks live and die by sports (particularly the Iggles).
Those tensions have now culminated in a nice little police brutality fracas. In the early hours of Saturday morning (which was before the Eagles loss, so I guess my theory there is kinda’ crapped out), a ruckus started outside of a downtown night club. This led to the arrest of two men, and part of one man’s arrest was caught on a cellphone camera, and that video is now enjoying a home on YouTube. In the video, the man, 24-year-old Durwin Jones, is seen being told he’s under arrest. He shoves the cops, who then throw him to the ground and beat on him, to the severe dissatisfaction of the surrounding crowd.
Now, I have very little trust for the police in these types of situations. However, the video seems to confirm the police spokesman’s statement:
What escalated this incident to the level seen on tape was the man was told he was under arrest and the officers were attempting to place him in handcuffs and he struggled, shoving the officer.
It’s suggested that Jones did nothing which warranted his arrest in the first place, and that very well may be. And if that’s the case, and if they used unnecessary force from the get-go, maybe he’s got himself a lawsuit. But just because he’s being cuffed when he doesn’t think he should be, that doesn’t mean he gets to resist arrest and shove the cops. So truth be told, when I watch the low quality video, I don’t see an excessive response by the cops here, despite the crowd’s protestations. Now, if the Internal Affairs review comes back otherwise, or a more convincing story or video comes along, I’m all for jumping on the Police Brutality bandwagon. But there is such a thing as the justified use of force, and I think that’s what we have here. But watch the video and judge for yourself:
The Daily Memo - 9/21/06
You try to smuggle Asian leopard cats and pygmy monkeys (in your pants!) through LAX, you might just wind up in the clink. (Canoe Network)
Tom Cruise’s hotshot L.A. lawyer, Bert Fields, is barking about a potential new lawsuit over allegations that Cruise is gay, this time relating to a book written by a porn producer. (Entertainmentwise)
Louis Vuitton is suing eBay for $47 million over the continued sale of counterfeit bags on the auction site. (Blogging Stocks)
The Washington Redskins are being sued, not because they suck, but because they don’t offer closed-captioning at their stadium for deaf fans. (ESPN)
The State of California is suing six car companies, claiming that car pollution has created a “public nuisance” in the state. (Blogging Stocks)
Wiley Coyote, super genius!
So get this - there’s this 18-year-old kid in Virginia, David Banh, who’s all sorts of smart. He just graduated from college, the University of Virginia, with a double major of physics and math. In one year. Sure, he came in to the school with 72 credits from high school AP courses. But he still pounded through a 23 credit semester, a 37 credit semester (11 classes!), and a 3 credit summer semester. Having just barely obtained a physics degree after a full four years of college, I can’t even begin to imagine gunning through 63 credits of mostly advanced math and physics in a year. Lordy lordy.
Anyway, the law part of this story comes from his future plans. Right now he’s still at UVA, doing more math work. But he’s apparently considering going to law school. I’m sort of torn on this. On one side, while there’s a plethora of lawyers out there, there are not enough truly smart lawyers, so he’d be a welcome addition to that group. But on the other side, our country is severely lacking in professional mathematicians and scientists, so I’m all for him staying on that track. But if you do go the law school route, Mr. Banh, I beg and plead that you spend more than one year doing it. You’ve already missed out on the fun of undergrad life - give your liver a chance to enjoy the debauchery that is the second and third year of law school.
You know, I could totally ramble on today about the cease-and-desist letter that Oprah is threatening to bring against a 69-year-old Kansas teacher attempting to cajole her into running for President. Or I could mention the non-story surrounding the death of Anna Nicole’s son, which is looking more and more like it was the result of natural causes (or, at least as natural as one can expect for a 20-year-old who dies spontaneously). There’s even a nice “human interest” story about a postal worker who was sentenced to six months of prison for urinating in his co-workers’ coffee over a period of several months.
But, I think that for today I’m going to go the PSA route and alert all of our female readers to the potential dangers of the birth-control patch. Indeed, for all you ladies trying to dodge pregnancy by putting a sticker on your abdomen, you should be aware of the health concerns. According to one study, women who use the patch face twice the risk of blood clots than women who use the pill, though a second study revealed there was no difference. Another study conducted by the Associated Press also revealed that patch users are three-times more likely to get a blood clot and die than women who take the pill. And, I suppose it goes without saying, if you are a smoker, it’s best to stay away from the patch all together. Ortho Evra, the manufacturer of the birth-control patch, has also disclosed that approximately 500 people have filed lawsuits or made claims related to injuries they allegedly suffered from the patch.
I don’t know what the lesson here is, but if the birth-control patch gives women the same sweet William S. Burroughs-type dreams that the nicotine patch has offered me in the past, I think I might risk the blood clots. Seriously, that nicotine patch — while asleep, anyway — is the closest thing you can get to legalized tripping. So if you’re trying to quit, or even if you’re a non-smoker that’s just kind of bored, I totally recommend the nicotine patch.
The Daily Memo - 9/20/06
Eminem hasn’t been able to come up with a divorce settlement, so it’s off to mediation for him and his former-wife/currently-estranged-wife. (LawInfo)
A Florida (!!) judge has been spanked by the state Supreme Court because of 14 admitted ethical violations, including ordering folks to go to church, and 22 other allegations, including allegedly telling a woman in his courtroom “to close her legs and stop having babies.” (Daytona Beach News Journal Online)
A Georgia law requiring voters to show photo ID before being allowed to vote has been ruled unconstitutional. (FindLaw)
Last year, there were more arrests for weed violations than for all violent crimes (including murder, rape and assault). (Wired Blogs)
Alberto Gonzales wants ISPs to keep all customer records for at least two years, and if they won’t do it on their own, he wants Congress to require it. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
“Texas police - acting first, asking questions later!”
Imagine you’re happily asleep in your comfy bed, resting peacefully next to your wonderful wife. At 1:30 in the morning there’s a knock on your door. Strange, you think, that someone would be knocking at this late hour. The people at the door say they’re cops, but you’re not so sure, so you ask your wife to give a call to 911. The 911 operator surprises your wife by telling her that the cops are there because there was a domestic violence call - that is, someone called to say you were beating your wife.
Meanwhile, the cops outside your door are fed up of waiting, so they try to kick the door in. That’s when you wife tells you that 911 confirms it’s actually the cops at the door, so you open it to let them in. You’re rewarded by immediately being put into a choke hold and drug around your apartment. Your wife and kids watch as you are then cuffed and pulled outside, still wearing nothing but the undies you sleep in.
Your wife begins pleading with the cops that they’ve made a mistake and that you don’t beat her. When they finally get around to looking at her and realizing that she’s not, in fact, bruised and beaten, they acquiesce and high-tail it out of there.
Later, you learn that the dispatcher gave them the wrong address, and they should’ve been knocking down a door two houses down from you. The man in that house was later properly arrested for assault.
I imagine that when the eventual lawsuit is filed, the Texas cops will quickly settle it out. This kind of thing doesn’t exactly create the best public image, you know?
Big balls or stupid stupid stupid? …a little from column A, a little from column B
So out in California, Jon Eipp was in in court for a trial alleging computer theft. Smack-dab in the middle of this trial, Eipp got busted under new criminal charges, for stealing the computers from the courthouse! He’s pled guilty now to 10 different charges in 3 different cases, and could get almost 5 years in the clink. As for why he made the bold move to snatch these computers? “Personal reasons.” He went on to say that he thinks it was his way of asking for help with “my drug problems, help with my sanity.”
(Hat tip to The Legal Reader)
Terrorist: Modern-Day Pirates
As we continue today’s Pirate theme — for the more hard core lawyers out there, Legal Affairs has a pretty interesting feature from last year on a new application of the otherwise anarchic pirate law: Terrorism. Douglas R. Burgess argues that terrorists, like pirates, hold an unusual position in relation to the law, since they are not “state actors” or “ordinary criminals,” and thus there are no international or domestic laws that apply. Burgess argues that what is needed is a new framework for crimes of terrorism and asserts that we have to look no further than pirate law, which is the only other legal field that covers state vs. nonstate conflicts, allowing anyone to capture a pirate wherever they are found.
Burgess further argues that “viewed in its proper historical context, piracy emerges as a clear and powerful precedent” for dealing with terrorism, especially perhaps the link between state-sponsored piracy of the 19th century and state-sponsored terrorism now. He continues:
The corollaries between the pirates’ “war against the world” and modern terrorism are profound and disturbing. With their vengeful practices, pirates were the first and perhaps only historical precedent for the terrorist cell: a group of men who bound themselves in extraterritorial enclaves, removed themselves from the protection and jurisdiction of the nation-state, and declared war against civilization. Both pirates and terrorists deliberately employ this extranationality as a means of pursuing their activities. The pirates hid in the myriad shoals and islands of the Atlantic. The terrorists hide in cells throughout the world. Both seek through their acts to bring notice to themselves and their causes. They share means as well—destruction of property, frustration of commerce, and homicide. Most important, both are properly considered enemies of the rest of the human race.
Indeed, it’s probably not too far a stretch to say that Bin Laden is the modern-day Edward Teach, a.k.a., Blackbeard.
Thy Daily Plank - 9/19/06
Geisha House is being sued by a photographer who says the fanchy-schmancy Hollywood joint owes her money for its use of her geisha photography. (Defamer)
A woman’s car was stolen by her ex-boyfriend, recovered by her ex-husband, and then crashed by her ex-husband’s son. (Dayton Daily News)
Alec Baldwin, who’s dating a lawyer so presumably doesn’t hate them all, says that Kim Basinger’s lawyer is “this 300-pound homunculus whose face looks like a cross between a bulldog and a clenched fist,” that she’s a “hideously angry-looking woman” and that she has a “snarl and hiss.” (New York Post)
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a former West Virginia inmate, claiming that the man’s parole was delayed because he planned to live with his fiancee, which would be a violation of the state’s cohabitation law, banning unmarried people to “‘lewdly and lasciviously associate’ and live together.” (FindLaw)
Microsoft is a landlubber!
Bill Gates is celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day by going on the attack against pirates. Software pirates, in this case, i.e., those who like to make counterfeit copies of Microsoft’s bloated and popular products and illegally sell them to whoever’s buying. MS filed 20 lawsuits against various companies all over the country, accusing these pirates of counterfeiting and/or loading unlicensed copies of MS software onto hard drives and then selling those to unwitting consumers. No word yet if Microsoft is seeking damages in the amount of whatever is in Davy Jones’ locker.
There still be pirates a-sea!
On September 21 there will be a lecture given at the Maine Chowder House in Belfast, Maine, entitled “Piracy: What every mariner should know.” This isn’t about music pirates like the ones New York is trying to put the crackdown on. No, we’re talking about actual sea-faring pirates who still plague mariners! The lecture is being given by Frank Wiswall, a law professor from Cambridge College who is also the chairman of the Joint International Working Group on Piracy and Maritime Criminal Acts in London.
Now this is a lawyer who’s putting his law degree to good work! Not only does he get to talk about pirates, but since he’s giving his lecture at the Main Chowder House, one must assume that he’ll get himself some free chowder. I wish I could get free chowder just for doing my legal-related work. Where’s the “free chowder for blawgers” program?!
Baton down the hatches, there be Pixel Pirates in them waters!
Soda_Jerk is a team of Aussie remix artists who have collaborated with another dude to create a remixed movie, Pixel Pirate II: Attack of the Astro Elvis Video Clone. As their website explains, this is “an hour long narrative remix video constructed from samples pirated from over 300 film and music sources.” They know that this doesn’t exactly comport with copyright laws, so they’ve incorporated the issue of “copyright tyranny” into the flick. “So one of the main intentions with ‘Pixel Priate II’ was to create a critique of copyright law that operates on the level of both form and content.” But more importantly, they just want folks to be entertained by the flick, and how can you not be entertained by a “sci-fi, biblical epic, action movie and cheesy romance where Elvis gives the finest performance of his film career?”
Here are two different trailers for the movie, which premieres in Australia later this month and will likely remain unaired in the United States, and available (if at all) only through bittorrent-type channels.
Arrrrrrrrrrr, avast ye matey!
It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, boys and girls. So get yer peg legs buffed, yer planks walked and yer Pollys crackered.
Last Friday, New York saw a new music piracy regulation signed into law, making it a felony for anyone to sell 100 or more illegal CDs. Disappointingly, the legislation does not include keelhauling or marooning as a punishment for busted pirates.
This afternoon, QuizLaw Proudly Presents: A Kentucky Fried Sex Scandal, starring the former dean of John Marshall School of Law, Robert Johnston, as Colonel Sanders and Virginia Smith as the plaintiff.
This little feature begins way back in 1983, when Colonel Sanders began dating one of his law students, Mrs. Smith, despite the fact that the dean was already married. At first, all went well: Sanders and his mistress allegedly did the ole’ doubleback in the Colonel’s car, his office, and even in his home. Throughout the entire affair, the Colonel — like any married man carrying on an affair with someone half his age — repeatedly promised to marry his mistress. But last year, when his wife kicked the bucket (excuse the pun), the Colonel decided to marry the associate dean of the law school instead of Smith (imagine the gossip in the teacher’s lounge).
Smith, now the woman scorned, brought a lawsuit with all sorts of salacious accusations, including allegations that the Colonel engaged in a little “striking, slapping, shoving, and twisting Smith’s face, limbs and body.” (Now that’s not nice!) And, indeed, there was evidence to back up these claims, specifically that the Colonel showed up to school one day sporting all sorts of bruises. The Colonel did not deny that there was at least one fracas, but he claims that it was he that received a round of punches after he informed Smith that he’d decided to marry someone else. As the Colonel’s attorney stated, “At the time he informed her, she clearly did not take the news well.”
Smith is claiming unspecified damages for “medically diagnosable and significant psychological and physical injuries and damages” that “required her to seek medical, dental and professional psychological treatment.”
And that concludes our program for today.
The Daily Memo - 9/18/06
While some of the big media companies have made nice with YouTube, Universal Music Group is now screaming, “copyright infringement!” (The Mercury News)
A police officer trying to become chief turns in his son when he realizes that his kid robbed a bank. (The Morning Call)
A note to our arsonist friends - if you want to remain out of jail, try not to leave your birth certificate behind. (Yahoo! News)
Governor Pataki has vetoed legislation which means that New York drivers can’t plea-bargain their speeding tickets to avoid getting points on their license. (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
The Mayor of Gallatin, TN is getting some flack for letting folks film Thong Girl 3: Revenge of the Dark Widow in his office. (Tennessean.com)
Senator Barbara Boxer is calling for an investigation into a 2004 FCC study on the effects of local media ownership which was buried. (ArsTechnica)
Monday Morning Bites
A little while ago, we told you about Banksy’s great replacement of copies of Paris Hilton’s CD in various UK outlets. Well, Banksy is causing problems on this side of the pond now. In fact, the Los Angeles Animal Services Department has now said it will not issue permits for elephants to appear at art events anymore, thanks to Banksy - seems he spray-painted an elephant (with nontoxic paint) for the opening of an exhibit, and the agency ain’t too pleased about it.
A federal judge in Louisiana has made a rather interesting ruling. According to Judge James, you can’t go boating or fishing on the Mississippi River anymore. Or on any other navigable waters in the United States. Why, you ask? Because according to his interpretation of federal law, control of such waters belongs to riparian landowners (that is, the folks who own adjoining land). So fishers and boating enthusiasts are committing criminal trespass, according to this interpretation.
Who let the Dog out? The court did. Dog, the bounty hunter, has been released on bail, although he’s been tagged with a monitoring bracelet and he has to stay in Hawaii (tough break on that one).
The new Supreme Court term is almost upon us (it starts on October 2) and it’s going to be an interesting one, with several hot-button cases including ones about abortion and affirmative action. And now, those Supreme lovers out there will be able to find out more about what went on during oral arguments sooner, as transcripts will be made available online the same day of the argument (welcome to the modern age of technology guys!).
The Daily Memo - 9/15/06
A suburban Massachusetts man has been ordered to get rid of the goats he keeps on his property because they violate local zoning laws and simply don’t qualify as pets. (Boston.com)
Seven years after the fact, a lawsuit has been filed over Dana Plato’s death, accusing the man who found her of not doing enough to try to keep her alive. (Access Hollywood)
Dog the Bounty Hunter has been arrested and may get extradited to Mexico. (TV Squad)
If you’ve got questions about the RIAA peer-to-peer lawsuits, some lawyers have answers for you. (Slashdot)
Hillary is looking to create a medical program with almost $2 billion in funding for the treatment of sick ground zero workers. (RedOrbit)
Serena and Venus Williams have been ordered by a Florida judge to produce tax returns in connection with a breach of contract lawsuit against them and their pappy. (SI)
My hometown of the ‘Illadelph is the latest city to ban smoking. (FindLaw)
Microsoft is being sued with allegations that the Xbox Live infringes another company’s patent. (Digital Battle)
Today’s Lesson Plan
LESSON NUMBER 1 - my friends, if you are crack dealers and have to go to the courthouse, it’s probably best not to take your supply in with you.
LESSON NUMBER 2 - we can all breathe a deep sigh of relief, for the penis-in-a-microwave case has pled out.
LESSON NUMBER 3 - if you runaway as a teen and stay away for 10 years, when you come back, the best thing to do is obviously to sue the city and your old school for failing to adequately try to find you.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
This story doesn’t have quite the same appeal as a machete-wielding nun with murderous intentions against her lover/priest, but out in Ohio, a bad scene is just getting worse. The story involves a developmentally disabled three-year-old Marcus Feisel, a foster child under the care of David and Liz Carroll. Back in early August, Liz allegedly lost her son, claiming that she passed out in a park because of a heart condition. The Carrolls then sparked a massive and panicked search for Feisel, only to discover that the boy wasn’t lost. In fact, the Carrolls had wrapped him in a blanket, taped it over him with clear packing tape, and shoved him in a closet where he died while they attended a family reunion. After the exhaustive search began (which included combing the Ohio River), authorities eventually found part of Feisel’s remains in a fireplace and the rest of his remains are believed to be in the river.
The Carrolls have been charged with a slew of crimes in relation to Fiesel’s death, and a lot of questions are being asked about the foster-care system in Ohio.
But, as bad as it sounds, it only gets worse when someone tries to exploit the child’s death for some quick cash. And that’s exactly what Donna Trevino, the birth-mother, is trying to do. She’s filed an $8 million wrongful death lawsuit against children services, the Carrolls, the county, and David Caroll’s live-in girlfriend (?), claiming that the people she trusted to take care of her child didn’t do their job. The fact of the matter, however, is that if Trevino had done her job as a mother in the first place, none of this ever would’ve happened. Instead, Fiesel often wandered off under her care, and the home’s conditions were unfit for the child. But instead of taking some responsibility for the fate of her child, this blob of a woman (pictured above) has decided that the best thing she can do is throw an $8 million lawsuit into the mix.
That’s justice: The American way.
Is That a Yes or a No?
Compliments of Above the Law, which also offers some context. (And seriously, stick around until the end; you won’t be disappointed.)
The Daily Memo - 9/14/06
Yesterday’s blogosphere hullabaloo about LonelyGirl15 came about, in part, because of a trademark application seeking registration of the LONELYGIRL15 mark, and it turns out one of the three folks behind the whole thing is, himself, an attorney. (The Trademark Blog and WSJ Law Blog)
While they pussed out and didn’t talk about it on last night’s finale, the guys on “Rock Star: Supernova” didn’t mention or use the Supernova name because a Cali judge has issued an injunction preventing them from performing under the name. (TV Squad)
There’s no crying in court room testimony! (CNN)
LA prosecutors are debating whether or not to prosecute our friend Paris for her little DUI incident last week. (CNN)
Bush and his cronies are trying to break deadlocks on new terrorism surveillance and prosecution legislation, including a bill granting legal status to the warrantless wiretapping program. (FindLaw)
The Ninth Circuit has ruled that a prosecutor’s juror dismissals in a decade-old case were based on racial motives. (Law.com)
A software pirate has been sentenced to over 7 years in the clink. (Download Squad)
I wonder how many Hail Mary’s she’s going to have to say for this whole mess
I usually try to stick with talking about American law, legal stories and antics, because that’s really QuizLaw’s focus, in no small part because we just don’t know much about international law. But this story, reported in the UK Daily Mail, may be better than any criminal tale that’s ever appeared on our site, so there’s simply no way I can pass it up.
Silvia Gomes De Sousa appeared in an Italian courtroom yesterday to face charges that she tried to kill a man, Carmelo Mantarro, and burn down his house. De Sousa and Mantarro had been scrumping for several years so the 39-year-old De Sousa was understandably peeved when she found Mantarro in bed with another woman. De Sousa went into a rage and threatened to kill Mantarro. She then used some candles and matches to set the curtains and furniture on fire. Some folks happened by and managed to restrain her from actually attacking Mantarro, and the cops and firemen showed up quickly and were able to snuff the flames.
Already a reasonably good story in and of itself, but I’ve only set things up for the money shots.
First, there’s the fact that Mantarro is seventy years old, almost twice her age! Then there’s the fact that De Sousa’s threats to kill him were surely something to take seriously since she arrived at the house inexplicably carrying a machete (one must assume that she knew of the affair prior to walking into the house, meaning she was quite premeditated). And then there’s the fact that Mantarro isn’t just 70, but he just happens to be a priest. Oh, but wait. The arsonist and almost-murdering De Sousa is herself a nun! And his housekeeper. AND, while in court and explaining that she was so enraged because their relationship was so serious, the nun explained how she had even had two abortions for Mantarro, the priest!
Needless to say, according to the UK Daily Mail, this story was “the talk of [Italy] as it dominated TV and radio news programmes.” Anyway, there’s no punch line to this story. Just go re-read that last paragraph again.
If you’re a Detroit Lions fan, let us just start out by saying, “We’re really sorry, you poor sap.” If there was any flexibility at all to the rule allowing you to choose only one favorite football team per lifetime, no one would blame you for taking advantage. Seriously: Matt Millen?! The guy couldn’t draft a fantasy team in a league full of drunken strippers. When, as a Lions fan, you have to resort to rooting against your own team in the hopes that its CEO/President of Operations might get fired, you’ve hit Arizona Cardinals territory, people. And the Jon Kitna/Josh McCown QB duo? Damn. Y’all are going to need to spend a lot of time on your knees during Sunday Mass just to eek out a win this season.
Well, since nothing short of an NFL-wide game of musical chairs looks to improve the chances for the Lions, at least the state legislature has stepped in and made it a little easier to accept your lot. Indeed, the state house has two proposals in the works: 1) allowing Lions fans to start buying alcohol at 7:00 a.m., instead of noon, so that by the time that Kitna takes the field, you’re already three tits to the wind; and 2) allowing fans to carry signs into the stadium calling for the “firing, impeachment, dismemberment, etc., of management.” The legislation, sponsored by a Republican state representative, will be known as the Sports Fan Bill of Rights and committee hearings are scheduled to begin next week.
That bill certainly would’ve come in handy over the weekend. In a 6-6 game, faced with a 4th and 4 to go on the Seahawks 37 (with 3:20 on the clock), what did the Lions do? Punt, of course. God bless Rod Marinelli. But if the Sports Fan Bill of Rights had already been implemented, most of Detriot’s fans would never have even known the final score (9-6, Seahawks) because they’d have been lying in a pool of their own vomit underneath the bleachers, which — I understand — is a natural position for Lions fans. It’s just too bad that this Bill of Rights won’t contain a provision allowing you to carry firearms into the stadium.
The Daily Memo - 9/13/06
Former NBA’er Karl Malone has been sued for allegedly trying to bribe a former business partner into taking the fall over an illegal hunting trip. (Sports Illustrated)
A Pennsylvania mom has pled guilty to misdemeanor drug charges for smoking up (or “smoking out” for you West Coasters) her 13-year-old son, sometimes as a reward for getting his school work done. (CNN)
Joe Francis (the “Girls Gone Wild” guy) and his company have agreed to pay over $2 mil to avoid being found guilty of violating federal law by sexually exploiting children. (LA Times)
The folks behind eDonkey have shut down their file sharing network and are ponying up $30 mil to the RIAA to avoid those pesky copyright infringement lawsuits. (Slashdot)
A first-of-its-kind proposed legislation in Michigan would require all sixth grade girls to receive cervical cancer vaccinations. (FindLaw)
District attorneys and public defenders alike are frowning upon the affidavits of a Nashville cop who uses some vulgar language to describe his undercover hooker busts. (Nashville Scene)
You park in a judge’s spot and you may just get stuck spending all day in court waiting for him to unblock you. (St. Petersburg Times)
LA – We Love It!
Kitson is this ritzy little Hollywood clothing store where lots of the young
whores celebs like Lindsay and Paris like to get their shop on. A while back, Us Weekly magazine named the store “LA’s hippest hot spot.” Oh how the times change.
The magazine has now been sued by the store’s owner/founder, Fraser Ross. He claims that the magazine has undertaken a campaign to intentionally avoid all references to Kitson, despite previously having mentions aplenty, in an attempt to cost him business. Ross alleges that the magazine crops photos to remove his store’s name, and goes out of its way to avoid any caption or story references. The lawsuit claims that this is costing the store up to ten grand per week!!
Meanwhile, the FBI is currently looking into a paparazzi agency which allegedly hacked Us Weekly’s computers to find out about upcoming celeb stories. That agency is owned, in part, by Kitson’s Ross.
You gotta’ love Los Angeles, the only place on earth where even the stores that sell to the celebrities and the magazines who talk about the celebrities can get into the kind of stupid fights and bitch fests typically reserved for the celebrities themselves.
No Fatties Allowed
In New York City this week, Kristen McRedmond — an ex-waitress at an upscale restaurant — is suing her former employer for $15 million after her employer fired her for refusing to weigh in before her shift. According to the New York Post Sutton’s Place had instituted a practice of compelling its female waitresses to step on the scales before getting to work, though the restaurant didn’t require waiters to do so. McRedmond and another waitress, Alexandria Lipton, complained that the weigh-ins were a form of sexual harassment and that they were fired for complaining about it.
“They told me I needed to get on the scale,” said McRedmond. “I told them I’m not going to be part of your sick game.” She also reportedly resisted when one of the managers tried to pick her up and place her on the scale. According to the lawsuit, the waitresses further asserted that the managers kept a running spreadsheet tracking the individual weight on the waitresses and placed the results on a website that kept tabs on the weight of other female servers in the city. The lawyer for Sutton’s Place unsurprisingly denies the allegations.
As for the merits of the waitresses’ lawsuit: As I recall from an episode of The Practice many years back, as an at-will employee, employers are allowed to fire you for being overweight. However, since the managers did not insist that male servers weigh in before getting to work, the waitresses here sound as if they have a pretty strong sex discrimination suit, particularly if the allegation that a manager picked up a waitress and tried to force her onto a scale.
But then again, I probably wouldn’t rely on David E. Kelly when filing your lawsuits.
Hat Tip to MetaDish.
The Daily Memo - 9/12/06
That lady who got a million bucks after being spanked by her boss in front of her co-employees has been charged with stealing from a local supermarket - presumably she was not trying to snatch a paddle. (KFSN)
On the other side of the pond, for the first time ever a man was convicted under double jeopardy, as England has revised the rule to allow for new trials when there’s compelling new evidence. (Times Online)
Either way, someone’s a scumbum….
Not sure whether we’ve got a drug dealing attorney or corrupt cops, but my money is on the drug dealing attorney.
See, a California lawyer has been representing this guy who’s been charged with lewd acts on a kid. Real peach of a guy. And the attorney claims that evidence in the case, including audio and video tapes, were tampered with. On August 30, he was set to go talk about these allegations with the D.A.
However, the day before, he got a call from a woman who claimed she needed a criminal lawyer because her boyfriend had been arrested. He and two employees went to meet the woman at a local Starbucks and he was arrested. The sheriff searched his car and pulled out a pound of meth. They’re not talking about it, but the implication clearly seems to be that it was an undercover sting. He says it was an elaborate framing, of course, and that there wasn’t any meth in his car. It was all about retaliation and intimidation, to keep him from meeting with the D.A., man.
Not sure why, under this rationale, the sheriff also had to bust his two staffers.
But never fear - the attorney already seems to be gearing up for his big lawsuit against the county, claiming that the sheriffs may have dug through his client files while executing a search warrant, thereby violating attorney-client confidentiality. But it’s good to see that he can still make bad jokes: “At least I was rated worthy enough in their eyes not to have just an ounce.”
So, a Lawyer Walks into a Coffee Bar …
Several weeks back, we warned that the most lethal combination in frivolous, pay-out-your-ass personal injury lawsuits were lawyers and coffee, this after a ballerina successfully swindled Starbucks out of $301,000 when of its baristas spilled hot coffee on her footsies.
Well, this week, a lawyer by the name of Peter Sullivan has decided to get into the coffee-lawsuit racket, suing Starbucks for $114 million – the value of around 28.5 million grande macchiatos, by my estimation. And why would a guy want to milk Starbucks out of that much money? Maybe a barista went postal after his screenplay was rejected and he fire-hosed a long-line of customers with scalding-hot coffee? Or perhaps it was discovered that Starbuck’s brand of soy latte causes birth defects? Or was it a lawsuit brought on behalf of all of Starbucks employees after the company raised its health insurance premiums?
No, silly. A $114 million lawsuit for any of the above scenarios might actually sound reasonable, and we’re talking about lawyers and coffee here. No. The reason that Peter Sullivan has decided to file this enormous lawsuit is because his client went in with a coupon for a free grande (that’s medium, for the Starbuck illiterate) beverage and those assholes denied the coupon! As a result, Sullivan’s client felt “betrayed,” so he filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the hundreds of customers who were similarly denied the use of their coupons. So betrayal does indeed have a price tag: $114 million.
Tune in next week when a lawyer decides to sue Dunkin Donuts for $500 million upon learning that coffee contains a deadly mixture of sugar and caffeine that makes him feel “jittery.”
The Daily Memo - 9/11/06
A Milwaukee judge cites to Britney Spears in a summary judgment opinion. (WSJ Law Blog)
The ABA’s Section of Litigation asks a question of the month on their website and anyone who answers “yes” to this month’s question is a big fat liar - “did law school adequately prepare you to be a lawyer?” (ABA)
A Missouri town’s local elementary school has been ordered by a federal judge to stop giving away Bibles to its students. (LawInfo)
Alaska strippers are suing local strip clubs for back-pay under the state’s Wage and Hour Act. (Overlawyered)
A North Carolina judge has ruled that consenting to a general police search does not include consent to have your genitals searched. (The Charlotte Observer)
Last Thursday, the House approved legislation banning the slaughter of horses for meat. (Guardian Unlimited)
Sean Combs… Puff Daddy… P. Diddy…Puff Douchey
There are some truly great hip-hop producers out there who are immensely talented and bring a lot to the mix. Puff Douchey, in my opinion, ain’t one of them. He produces tracks that, more often then not, don’t rely on new and fun beats or samples which are rejiggered in a unique way - instead, he simply pinches old classic samples wholesale, laying some crap on top of them. In fact, it seems that he’s much more “popular” for his grandstand events (arrivals and “performances” at award shows, pimped out parties, etc.), his fashion crap and constant name changes.
Well, looks like he may have to do a name change again. Puffy’s latest moniker, Diddy, got him into some legal hot water over in England as it seems there’s already a Diddy on the scene on that side of the pond. Richard Dearlove is a British producer best known for a remix of Blondie’s “Atomic,” and he’s been going by Diddy since 1992. So Dearlove sued Puff Douchey and they were set to go to court next month. However, they’ve reached a settlement and Douchey has agreed to pay the real Diddy over a hundred thousand pounds and to stop calling himself Diddy in England.
So the question is, will he still go by Diddy everywhere else, and use some new name just in England, or will he simply change his name yet again for worldwide use? Might I suggest that he go with a worldwide change and start calling himself…oh, I don’t know…Douchey?
The Daily Memo - 9/8/06
Do Barry Bonds and Charlie Brown have anything in common? (McSweeney’s)
An attorney makes the preposterous argument that finding a 19-year-old liable for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old is a violation of Equal Protection because the younger party isn’t found liable - this most certainly does not pass the laugh test. (KLBJ)
Everything you want to know about the upcoming Supreme Court patent case, MedImmune v. Genentech. (Patently-O)
A dude got ordered to do some homework for skipping out on jury duty, only to get busted again for copying the paper he turned in. (AP)
The reality is that our fantasy is just too good!
Apparently, this is the third year that a gaggle of blawgers (bloggers about the law, for those of you not in the know) are going to be competing in their own little fantasy football tournament, the Blawger Bowl. Despite the fact that they were in need of new members this year, QuizLaw wasn’t asked to join. Now, there are two ways to look at this.
One, they’re totally disrespecting us for some reason or another. Two, they’re scared by the knowledge that QuizLaw takes its fantasy football far too seriously (I mean, we actually flew out to Vegas because our league conducts its draft in-person). We choose to believe it’s the latter.
On a side note, I’ll be facing off against fellow QuizLaw staffer Dustin this week in our fantasy league’s first week of play. Don’t expect too many posts from Dusty next week, as he’ll be too busy sulking and nursing his shattered ego after suffering the grandest of defeats.
Are you ready for some football?
2.35 Million Little Pieces
So, I suppose the really big legal news of the day is that Paris Hilton was arrested last night on a DUI charge, which she typically blew off, saying she’d had only one drink but that it had been a long-hard day and she hadn’t eaten anything (and given her stick-like figure, that’s not hard to believe). Anyway, because she neither let loose a string of racial slurs nor attempted to trade in sexual favors in exchange for only a warning, the DUI doesn’t provide a lot of comic fodder, I’m afraid.
Another potential story — given the impending opening night of the NFL — involves former Denver running back, Terrell Davis, who is suing his insurance company after it refused to defend him following a post-Emmy awards fracas, in which Davis was assaulted for talking to a white waitress. But, there’s not a lot to that story, either.
No. I’m a lot more intrigued by the settlement that James Frey and Random House have arrived at, agreeing to refund buyers of Frey’s novel, “A Million Little Pieces,” for up to $2.35 million. As you might recall, Frey’s book was billed as a memoir, but The Smoking Gun later revealed that many of the episodes in the book were completely fabricated. Under the terms of the settlement, people can provide a receipt, a particular page of the hard cover, or the front cover of the paperback, along with a sworn statement that they thought the book was a memoir, to receive their refund.
I sort of applaud Random House for settling the case, a case I understand they had no chance of really winning in the first place. But, I guess I’m a bit dismayed at the fracas the whole ordeal started in the first place. I’m certainly not defending James Frey, though I do think that there is probably some merit to his argument that Random House convinced him to label a fictional autobiography as a memoir for marketing reasons. But, I’ve read both “A Million Little Pieces,” and Frey’s even more outlandish follow-up, “My Friend Leonard,” before these revelations were made, and I viewed both with a healthy amount of skepticism. And, honestly, I thought Frey — as a writer — was a bit of no-talent hack, but he did have one helluva story to offer. And, in both cases, I think I got enough entertainment value out of the books to justify the purchase, so I think it would be a bit dishonest to ask for a refund.
Moreover, I’m a big subscriber to the concepts of truth in fiction, and I never really thought that anything I got out of Frey’s novels was retrospectively sullied after I found out that he’d made up several parts of his life-story. After all, I do believe that you can still find most of Hunter Thompson’s books in the “memoir” section, but a large part of his oeuvre involves drug-fueled hallucinations of events instead of what actually happened. “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72,” for instance, contains numerous fictional accounts, yet I doubt there is any other book that more accurately captures the “aura” of that the ’72 campaign. But, I don’t see a lot of folks rushing to get the refunds after purchasing Thompson’s “memoirs.”
The uproar over plagiarism, I can understand - that involves out and out theft. But I get off the bus when folks get their panties in a wad because a supposed memoirist takes dramatic liberties or even makes things up whole cloth. Hollywood attempts to pass off films “inspired” or “based” upon a true story damn near every week (see, Invincible), but no one seems to take issue with that, even if the studios are attempting to have you believe that every scene accurately depicts what really happens.
I suspect that Mr. Frey’s writing career, after Random House dropped him, is pretty much over. But, when he does decide to write a true-life account of his experiences during this entire ordeal, I expect that I’ll be one of the first (and maybe only) guy to buy the book, because even if much of it is made up, I suspect that beneath it all there’s a great deal of truth.
The Daily Memo - 9/7/06
A Texas attorney who made mucho dinero in the Big Tobacco litigation has spent some of his money on buying a Batmobile, a Popemobile, a presidential limo and Lamborghini signed by folks like The Hef and Samuel L. “Motherfucking” Jackson. (Chron.com)
The owners of St. Rita’s nursing home in New Orleans, where 34 elderly patients died after Hurricane Katrina hit, are suing various government officials for their failure to help in evacuating the patients. (CNN)
Over at the ABA website, Peter Baird suggests that lawyers might need some new bedside manners. (ABA)
The legal battle over the continued existence of a trailer park has ended in the park’s favor, although it won’t be allowed to expand beyond its current 16-trailer size. (St. Louis Today)
Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech
While guessing how judges will rule on a case based solely on oral arguments is a bit like trying to fathom why women continue to vie for Flavor Flav’s love, you can sometimes figure out the direction of the wind. To that end, it looks the wind is blowing right for one case currently before the California Supreme Court. This case, Barrett v. Rosenthal, focuses on potential defamation liability of internet commenters, and it looks like the Cali Supremes are going to protect those of us who post on this here series of tubes.
The background of this case is that some guy wrote an editorial attacking two doctors and their alternative medicine practice, claiming that they used intimidation, false information, etc. Someone then posted this piece on a newsgroup, and both the author and the poster were sued by the two doctors, who claimed this was libel. The trial court threw out the lawsuit, but the appellate court reinstated one of the doctor’s claims against the internet poster on the basis that the Communications Decency Act did not provide absolute immunity. The appellate court decided there was no immunity because the doctor had sent a letter to the internet user, warning of a potential lawsuit, and so this put her on notice of potential liability.
As correctly noted by the many amici curiae (briefs by non-parties, so-called “friends of the court”), this is a preposterous standard. It would chill the hell out of free speech, “unleash[ing] a ‘heckler’s veto.’” Anyone who doesn’t like something posted on the internet could simply send a letter putting the poster on “notice,” or even to the service provider, and this could then create a burden for that person/entity to remove the intent content or risk being sued and having liability. Obviously, this would result in the immediate removal of the content in most situations, and there goes your free speech right out the bloody window.
During oral arguments, the doctor’s attorney did not receive the warmest of receptions. The California Supremes noted how the appellate court has created its own little standard that isn’t used anywhere else, even by other California appellate courts. Worse yet for the good doctor, one of the justices told his attorney that he had a “startling lack of legal authority.” Erm…yeah…I think even a doctor who dabbles in alternative medicine can tell ya’ that the prognosis here ain’t so grand.
Necrophilia is Always Funny
Okay. We’ve encountered some really twisted stories since we began QuizLaw, but The Smoking Gun brings us a tale that makes America Pie’s Jason Biggs’ bizarre quest to rid himself of his pesky virginity pale by comparison. So, the story goes as follows: Nicholas Grunke (that handsome feller you see pictured) saw a photo of woman in the newspaper and decided right then and there that he just had to have sex with her. The only problem was, the picture he saw was in the obituary section – the 20-year-old lady in question had died the week before in a motorcycle accident. But a little thing like death isn’t enough to stop an enterprising young man from getting himself some. So, Nicholas and a couple of his pals decided that they were going to rob the lady’s grave so he could have his way with her corpse. And Nicholas, ever wary of sexually transmitted diseases, even stopped by a Wal-Mart on his way to the grave to pick up some condoms.
Unfortunately for Nick, police saw a suspicious vehicle parked outside the cemetery and ultimately disrupted their plot, though not before the men had dug a hole down to the concrete encasing the coffin. Nicholas and his pals are now facing five years for sexual assault and theft charges. Man Alive: Those emo kids are really taking it to a new level these days.
And, in a completely unrelated story, we’d like to note that 70-year-old Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was hospitalized over the weekend to have a new stent put in a coronary artery. There doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage to his heart, thankfully. And c’mon, Justice Kenney. Just hang in there another couple of years, big guy. We need a reliable swing vote to keep the Court interesting.
The Daily Memo - 9/6/06
“Lost’s” Mr. Eko has been busted for driving without a license and then disobeying the cop who pulled him over…dude, doesn’t that cop watch “Lost?” I mean, seriously, you just don’t fuck with Eko, and that includes trying to give him a ticket. (Zap2It)
You gotta’ love when the World Series of Poker and the courtroom collide. (May It Please the Court)
Some folks in Tennessee have been busted for planning to illegally ship mussel shells to Japan, where they would be used to make pearls. (Tennessean.com)
The moron assistant coach who tackled a 13 year-old peewee football player has been arrested for assaulting a minor. (ABC News)
Some things never change
Over at The Underachieving Transformation, you can follow the journeys of a brand-spanking-new law student. …poor sucker.
In a recent post, said law student shares what he’s learned the first week, listing out seven items. Most of the items focus on the impending suffering, whether due to an unfunny professor, working your ass of, or being easily distracted by in-class wi-fi. There’s also an item where he says that he’s learned that the McDonald’s coffee case wasn’t frivolous, for which he’s catching a little flack in the comments and on some other blawgs. But the most important lesson he’s learned is item number seven: “Beer is an essential part of the law student/lawyer diet.”
It’s nice to know that five years removed from the last of my law school days, the experience hasn’t changed much. Although it’s clearly changed a little, because were I making that list back when I was a 1L, this item undoubtedly would’ve been the top item, not relegated to the bottom.
Asshole Frat-Boy, My Ass.
For those of you who are into blogger politics as I am, there is all sorts of controversy erupting over David Lat’s (formerly of Wonkette) new blog, Above the Law. It seems that Lat tried to introduce a series called ERISA Hotties that would’ve seemed otherwise normal on Wonkette, which gained some notoriety for its Hill Intern Hotties contest. Unfortunately for Lat, the legal blogosphere often tends to take things a bit too seriously, as he learned when the Feminist Law Professors blog took him to task.
It seems that Lat had obtained a disproportionate number of male candidates for his ERISA Hotties contest, and has asked for more female applicants, to which the Feminist Law Professors responded, “it’s easy to understand why women might prefer not to participate. Possibly Lat doesn’t understand that being celebrated for her looks is not known for being a ticket to career success in the legal world for a female attorney.” They continue by stating, “all of this blogging-in-drag is bewildering and appalling. I just don’t understand the prurient interest some have in watching an otherwise impressively credentialed or politically opinionated ‘woman’ degrade ‘herself’ by trivializing her politics or profession.” In response to Lat’s alter-ego as a female conservative on his first blog, Underneath the Robes, the Feminist Law Profs continue, “Speaking as a female blogger, who writes a ‘blawggish’ blog at that, I am personally offended. I think these poseurs, cheeky and satiric as they intend to be, bring down the image of serious female bloggers everywhere.”
Ann Althouse weighs in as well, appropriately (I think) wondering if the Feminist Law Profs have “considered whether this grim, censorious, humorless — nay, humor-phobic — attitude helps women.” Althouse also speculates whether “frat boy asshole” is really the right stereotype for Mr. Lat? And speaking as an “asshole frat boy” I’m a little offended that Althouse would lump me in with Lat. I mean, seriously: Do asshole frat boys attend Yale Law School and drop out of large firms to work in the Attorney General’s office? Of course not. We’re too drunk to achieve that level of success, and a real asshole frat boy would hold Wet T-Shirt contests with the Ladies of the IRS, thank you very much.
The Daily Memo - 9/5/06
The St. Thomas University School of Law of Miami, don’t act like you’ve never heard of it, has been sued by an expelled student on allegations that many students were expelled to keep the school’s bar passage rates up. (The Legal Reader)
The Eighth Circuit says that just carrying a large sum of cash is enough for the cops to confiscate said cash. (Catallarchy)
A messy legal fight is brewing between a 9/11 widow and her lawyer over his fee for helping her get money from the federal compensation fund. (Newsday)
Mos Def was arrested for putting on a performance in NYC before last week’s VMA’s without getting the proper permits - now, if only they could arrest MTV for putting on such a god damn boring VMA show, we’d be getting somewhere. (TV Squad)
Apple has settled, for an undisclosed amount, the patent infringement lawsuit over iTunes’ user interface. (Engadget)
The IRS is tightening up some of its donation rules, meaning you can’t deduct just any old crap you give to Goodwill. (Oregon Live)
This is a great story for two reasons
There’s this fantastic artist over in England known as Banksy who started off as a street artist, doing some amazing tags. Nowadays, he’s moved on to bigger subversion projects. For example, last year, he took his own pieces of art and quietly installed them in several New York museums, including MoMA and the Met.
So Banksy’s most recent project was to replace several hundred copies of Paris Hilton’s new CD, in almost 50 different UK shops, with his own redone version. The Banksy version of the CD claims to feature such hits as “Why am I famous?” and “What have I done?” It also teaches you, in the liner notes, things like the fact that “90% of success is just showing up” (you can see all the images here). This is one reason I love this story, just for what Banksy did.
But the other reason I love this story, and where the law connection comes from, is because of the reaction of HMV and Virgin, two of the big chains who had their products tampered with. An HMV representative noted:
It’s not the type of behaviour you’d want to see happening very often….I guess you can give an individual such as Banksy a little bit of leeway for his own particular brand of artistic engagement. Often people might have a view on something but feel they can’t always express it, but it’s down to the likes of Banksy to say often what people think about things. And it might be that there wil be some people who agree with his views on the Paris Hilton album.
A Virgin representative was similarly complementary, noting that “it’s a very good stunt.” Rather then threaten legal action or just filing lawsuits seeking injunctions and money damages, these big companies are taking this all in stride. That’s just as fantastic, and refreshing, as Banksy’s project itself. HMV and Virgin’s American brethren could learn a thing or two here about knowing when not to be quite so litigation happy.
The Weekend Memo - 9/2/06
When law professors attack! (The Legal Reader)
The U.S. attorney’s office had to issue a second warning, reminding ambulance chasing attorneys that they can’t yet bug the families of the Kentucky plane crash victims, following newspaper ads apparently soliciting personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. (Lexington Herald-Leader)
While it probably won’t amount to a hill of beans, California has passed legislation which would give the state’s 55 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. (Northwest Florida Daily News)
An ex-Bengal is suing the city of Cincinnati for $50 million because cops allegedly used excessive force when they arrested him in July for disorderly conduct. (SI)
A little Friday afternoon humor
This really doesn’t have anything to do with the law. But it’s Friday afternoon, and Fridays really aren’t about doing work or being serious-like.
So QuizLaw’s here to help you with your Friday goofing off, by giving you a link to this great little promotional video put together by Matt Stone and Trey Parker for Universal Studios. It’s old, and the video is of less-than-great quality, but it’s got guest stars galore, and is quite funny.
…and it makes me realize that my office really needs a porcelain deer.
The first-ever protective order for a dog in the State of New York has finally been issued!
That is all.
The Daily Memo - 9/1/06
Mattel is threatening to sue the Brazilian artist showing pictures of a lesbo Barbie, if the artist doesn’t pull her exhibit. (The Raw Story)
There’s been a 50 percent drop in female Supreme Court clerks, with only seven women clerking in the next term. (Slate)
Three Maryland strip clubs are heading to court to fight regulations restricting their trade. (WTOP)
The Second Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled that a student’s free speech rights were violated when folks at his school made him cover up parts of a shirt reading “chicken-hawk-in-chief” and showing Bush with a martini glass and coke. (Yahoo News)
A lawsuit has been filed over the Superdome roof’s destruction during Hurricane Katrina. (ESPN)
A new law has passed in California requiring all in-state wi-fi routers to show a warning about security risks. (Gizmodo)
The litigious mother of the 14-year-old suing over her lost iPod turned down a free iPod and iTunes gift card that was donated to her. (Engadget)
A Colorado man has been sentenced to 27 years in the clink for keeping his Indonesian housekeeper as a slave and sexually assaulting her. (CNN)
But does she get her security deposit back?
Neil Thompson Sr. is a professional landlord in the making. He, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend had all been sharing a house in Jacksonville for about a year. To the best of the girlfriend’s thinking, Thompson didn’t like that she ignored him. So while Thompson’s brother (that is, the girl’s boyfriend - you following?) was away on a business trip, Thompson got up in her grill and demanded she move out of the house. She said no. He yelled. She still said no. He went away.
Hoping to avoid further confrontation, the girlfriend took up her laptop and started playing a videogame. That’s when Thompson came back down and assumed the role of burgeoning landlord, giving her an official eviction notice.
Ah, but if you remember the introduction, I told you this house was located in Jacksonville. Florida, people! So, of course, Thompson’s eviction notice was only official insofar as you can officially evict someone by shooting their laptop. Yes sir, Thompson shot the laptop, spraying shards of computer into his brother’s girlfriend.
Needless to say, the girlfriend has temporarily moved out of the place, waiting for her boyfriend to get back from his business trip. Not that she necessarily has anything to worry about for the moment, since Thompson is currently sitting in the clink under charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.