Monthly Archives: December 2006
The Daily Memo - 12/29/06
Olive oil in the workplace just makes things tastier, doesn’t it? (Overlawyered)
Tim Burton’s getting sued for fraud by his ex, former model Lisa Marie, because he allegedly told her he’d take care of her for the rest of her life and now he’s not really doing that so much. (Cinematical)
The dumbest man in New Hampshire decided, while being pulled over and arrested for drunk driving, that he should keep drinking his beer because being charged wasn’t “going to stop me from drinking and driving.” (Herald Online)
A federal judge has ruled that marijuana cannot be considered a religious sacrament when there isn’t a “sincere” underlying religious belief. (Times Dispatch)
TomTom and Garmin, on opposite sides of a patent infringement ruling, both claim victory in the verdict handed down by the court. (Engadget)
The Daily Memo - 12/28/06
Did you know that President Ford was a Yalie law school grad? (WSJ Law Blog)
Spanking, handcuffs and prostitution, oh my! (CNN)
The last dry town in Colorado has finally gotten with the program, killing its alcohol ban. (The Denver Channel)
A Japanese court has sentenced a woman to 20 months in the clink for sickening her neighbor by playing loud music. (Japan Today)
Should abused children involved in court cases be represented by a lawyer or non-lawyer? (CNN)
Who’s the most admired law professor? (Concurring Opinions)
The Ninth Circuit has ruled that federal investigators must be given test data, including names, from the 2003 drug tests which showed that 100 MLB players were juicing (and this may have implications on the Barry Bonds perjury case). (SI)
Mitt Romney is told to go suck it (and it just so happens that, in Massachusetts, it’s still legal for him to suck it)
The Massachusetts state Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that lame-duck Governor Mitt Romney and his buddies can’t force the state legislature to vote on whether or not the 2008 ballot should include a proposed amendment banning gay marriage. Romney filed this lawsuit, as a private citizen (as opposed to in his capacity as state Governor), because he was pissed off that the state legislators have been postponing a vote on the issue. Particularly because if they don’t vote on in when they return from recess on January 2, which is the last day of the current session, it will effectively be dead in the water (because it has to be approved in two consecutive sessions before being included on a statewide ballot, and there wouldn’t be enough time to do that for the 2008 ballot if it doesn’t get approval this term).
The court made its ruling on the simple basis that it didn’t believe that it had the authority to force a vote on the issue. But it did go on to say that the legislature should get on with the vote already because they’re effectively blocking the progress of a citizen initiative, and that sort of defeats the purpose of having citizen initiatives. So it should be interesting to see if the legislators do put this to a vote next Monday (it’s worth noting that they have managed to find the time to vote on making the garter snake the official Massachusetts reptile).
Now, a cynic might say that Romeny only really cares about this issue because he’s planning a Presidential run and he wants to show the uber-conservative base that he’s against the fact that his hippy-liberal state legalized it for them gays to run off and get married. But I’m not cynic, so I’m not saying that.
The Daily Memo - 12/27/06
It’s too hot in the hot tub for James Browns’ baby mamma…at least, according to his lawyer. (I Don’t Like You In That Way)
A recently retired California judge has been told she can never return to the bench because of 42 instances of prejudicial remarks she made over her career. (Law.com)
Gallagher has been sued for breach of contract but, amazingly, still hasn’t been sued for false advertising (for calling himself a “comedian” when he’s not actually funny, at all, you see). (LawInfo Weblog)
“Silly Beer Laws.” (Suite101)
No topless dancing, in this instance, may have created a hostile work environment. (STLtoday)
A Nobel prize-winner doesn’t dig the medicine and drug patents. (Slashdot)
Down in Jackson, Alabama there’s this lawyer, Stuart DuBose, who’s gotten himself into a little hot water. See, the state bar has sanctioned him, ordering his license to be suspended for 45 days because he took $1.2 million from a man’s estate for writing the dude’s will, despite never having even met the guy. While he claims there’s nothing wrong with what he did, the state bar obviously disagreed. The Alabama Supreme Court apparently disagreed even more, saying that the 45-day suspension isn’t enough. So now he has to go before a disciplinary committee which may order him disbarred, or give him a longer suspension.
But DuBose isn’t letting that slow him down. In fact, just last Friday he was sworn in as a new state judge! While he doesn’t officially take office until January 15, he decided to get sworn in early because he loves Christmas and enjoys celebrating the baby Jesus. I’m sure it has nothing to do with wanting to be sworn in before he is potentially thrown out of the state bar, so that when he hangs his head in shame he can say, “well at least I was sworn in as a judge before bringing shame upon my family and profession.” Right?
Yeah, I know, I’m just being cynical. And that’s not very Christmas-y of me. I apologize.
The Daily Memo - 12/26/06
Well thanks to the good folks over at Blawg Review, we can now add “Best Online Law Magazine using blog technology” to our growing list of accolades (sure, that list sits at two right now, but it used to be just the one, so that counts as growing!). (Blawg Review)
A little Christmas post-script - “The (Legal) Night Before Christmas.” (Sui Generis)
Folks in Hamilton County, Tennessee seem surprised that marriages are down significantly since the passage of a 2003 state “requirement that couples undergo four hours of marital preparation” or pay a $60 fee. (The Chattanoogan)
“Magic: The Gathering” meets the Supremes. (I Fought the Law)
Anna Nicole has been ordered by a Cali court to have a paternity test for her new kid. (Defamer)
A federal judge in Texas has put the kibosh on deep-linking. (Likelihood of Confusion)
Representative Robin Hayes is our latest douchebag politician, saying that the solution to the Iraq war is just to convert them all to Christianity. (The Huffington Post)
A Post-Holiday Message
A belated Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, etc. to all our lovely little QuizLaw readers. Things may be a little slow around here for the next week or so, but we’ll try our best. In the meantime, enjoy this video of my favorite lawyer:
The Daily Memo - 12/22/06
A “good on you” to New Jersey governor Jon S. Corzine, who signed legislation authorizing gay civil unions. (FindLaw)
Good lord - a British study suggests that the day may come when robots start demanding legal rights to social benefits. (Slashdot)
StubHub has filed counterclaims in the lawsuit brought by the New England Patriots last month, claiming that the Pats are trying to restrain trade and control a ticket monopoly. (ESPN)
A California legislator is contemplating a bill that would ban in-game ads and spyware, regardless of whether the user agrees to these during the game’s installation. (ArsTechnica)
Texas police have obtained a search warrant to pull an embedded bullet out of a 17-year old’s forehead because they believe it implicates him in a robbery and attempted murder that took place on a used-car lot. (CNN)
A new report claims that one of the defense lawyers representing Victor Conte was responsible for leaking information in the BALCO case. (ESPN)
“The Trump Lawsuit (TM) will be the best lawsuit in the history of lawsuits ever to be filed in any court, ever.”
This is, hands down, my favorite story of at least all of December, if not the year. On Wednesday’s episode of The View, Rosie went on a tirade about Donald Trump because of his decision to let Miss USA keep her crown after the stories of her underage drinking and partying. Rosie quickly turned this into a personal attack against the Donald, calling him a “snake-oil salesman,” claiming he’s repeatedly been bankrupt, claiming that his marital relationships have been less than stellar, etc. (you can catch video of some of Rosie’s little diatribe over at Gawker).
Well The Insider caught up with Trump later that day and he gave one hell of a rebuttal, saying he was going to sue her for all of the crap she was spewing about him. But there’s no sense in me telling you what he said, because I can’t do his actual words justice. Just watch - you won’t be sorry:
That’s right folks, coming in 2007, Trump v. O’Donnell. Here’s a sneak peak at the causes of action in Trump’s complaint:
Causes of Action:
1. Being disgusting and unattractive, both inside and out.
2. Being a slob.
3. Being a loser.
4. Basically, being a disaster.
5. Having a weak mind and a fat ugly face.
6. Talking like a truck driver.
7. Making personal attacks on The Donald (TM).
8. Trying to use ABC and The View to get even with The Donald (TM).
9. Not telling the facts.
10. Daring to disrespect The Donald (TM).
11. Not respecting my authoritah!
Our friends over at Defamer break down the current aftermath of this whole amusement here.
Meanwhile, yesterday, Trump took it a step further, saying he is all set to sue her and that his lawsuit is being put together:
She says things that come to her mouth, she’s not smart, she’s crude, she’s ignorant and to be honest I look forward to suing Rosie….I’m gonna sue her and I look forward to it. She’s really very dangerous for the show….Rosie will find out what we’re suing her for. She knows what we’re suing her for.
For those of us entertained by such nonsense, Christmas has come a little early!
Well, You Don’t Have to Rub it in, Mr. Moore
A lawsuit filed against Michael Moore by a National Guardsman has been thrown out today. The suit, which sought $85 million, arose out of a clip in Michael Moore’s inflammatory anti-war documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. Sergeant Peter Damon, a Massachusetts National Guardsmen who lost both of his arms in the Iraq war, claims that Michael Moore falsely portrayed him in the film. He alleged that a brief 16-second clip of him in the film resulted in a “loss of reputation, emotional distress, embarrassment, and personal humiliation.” Hollywood.com reports:
Damon claims the way Moore edited the clip made him look to be anti-war by depicting him as “voicing a complaint about the war effort,” when he was actually complaining about “the excruciating type of pain” from his injuries.
The judge dismissed the suit, stating that anyone who had seen the film would not believe that Damon shared the same views that Moore expresses in the film. He also asserted that there was no defamation involved, and that Michael Moore had wide latitude under the First Amendment to express his own political opinions.
Check out the clip, in question, near the end here. Worth $85 million? Not so much.
The Daily Memo - 12/21/06
“Necessity is not a defense” to having sex in the Washington University Law School library. (Above the Law)
Good morning your honor, may it please the Court, fuck the USA. (WSJ Law Blog)
As punishment for his pimping ways, a convicted pimp has been ordered to make an anti-pimping educational video. (CBC.ca)
A woman’s sentence to 10 years in the clink has been thrown out because it wasn’t severe enough for the woman’s crime of renting out her 9-year old daughter, over 200 times (!!), to a pedophile. (CNN)
Cheney is set to be a defense witness in Scooter Libby’s CIA leak trial. (LawInfo)
Don’t you call me pudgy, portly or stout. Just now tell me once again, who’s fat?
I was recently on a cross-country flight and across the aisle from me was this fat guy. “Big fat guy, I mean like orca fat.” But not so fat that he couldn’t fit into the seat, just fat enough that he couldn’t get the seat belt across his great big belly. The stewardess brought him this little seat belt extension thinger (a strap with belt parts on each end) so that he could buckle up and he took it all in good stride. He even joked with her about the fact that he needed it in the first place, and how her paperwork said there was apparently another fatty on-board who needed an extender but who wasn’t ringing the little flight attendant light to call attention to himself. Point being, this guy got it - he’s fat, and that means that special accommodations must be made in relatively tight places like airplane seats. Good for him.
This notion apparently hasn’t made it over to France yet. For that’s where we find the 352-pound Jean-Jacque Jauffret in a tizzy because Air France told him he would have to pay for a second seat if he wanted to fly the friendly skies. He says that he was humiliated when he had his waist measured in public by an Air France employee. While the French may not have a grasp on American self-deprecation, they sure do have a grasp on our favorite recreational hobby, because fatty is, of course, now suing Air France. Even though their website makes it clear that overweight folks may need to reserve a second seat, he says he’s never had to do so before, so he wants 8,000 euros for his pain and suffering plus the 500 euros he spent on the second seat.
Yup, Fatty McFat wants over $11,000 because he was too fat to fly like thin folk.
The best part is that the airlines lawyer, in court, made the following argument: “Let’s be objective. This man is fat….He barely fits on the courtroom chair. How could he sit in an airplane?” Jauffret is pissed off about this too, saying he “felt shocked and humiliated” for being called “fat” and “enormous” during the proceedings.
Three hundred and fifty-two pounds, people. That’s more than twice my weight so, by my calculations, unless this guy is about 12 feet tall, I’d say he is fat and enormous. A true fatty-fatty two-by-four.
Glad to know Americans aren’t the only ones who file ridiculous lawsuits.
And Now We Know Why It’s Not a Good Idea to Run with Scissors
For fans of Augusten Burroughs’ deliciously bizarre memoir, Running with Scissors, an unwanted epilogue is getting a lot of attention now. In the current issue of Vanity Fair, Buzz Bissinger writes extensively about pending litigation filed by the principal family in Scissors, the Turcottes (a.k.a., the Finches), who brought suit against Burroughs in 2005, alleging invasion of privacy and libel. They claim that Burroughs (formerly Chris Robison) fabricated or embellished large sections of his memoir, particularly the more outlandish episodes, and resurrected haunting memories for the family, which left many of them in extended states of depression.
According to Vanity Fair, the family claims that the book “‘falsely portrays’ the Turcotte family as an ‘unhygienic and mentally unstable cult engaged in bizarre, and, at times, criminal activity.’ In so doing, the author, with the full complicity of the publisher, literally has fabricated events that never happened and manufactured conversations that never occurred.’” Burroughs counters that he kept extensive diaries of the period discussed in the memoir and claims that he still has the journals, which confirm the veracity of his account. However, he has not made those diaries available as of yet.
For fans of Scissors, of Burroughs, or even of memoirs in general, the VF article, which arose out of interviews with most of the living Turcottes, offers an illuminating alterna-account to Burroughs’ memoir and examines the legal ramifications of the so-called “genre of appropriation.” It’s a fascinating read and an important post-script to the James Frey controversy of last year. A legal victory for the Turcottes could potentially chill the efforts of future memoirists, particularly given the Turcottes’ legal claims that Burroughs misquoted them — something that has to be somewhat expected for a book written 20 years after the fact. At any rate, check out the piece.
The Daily Memo - 12/20/06
Fred Goldman has sued O.J. over the aborted “If I Did It” book. (Defamer)
Hawaii now has one of the toughest no-smoking laws in the country. (Yahoo! News)
A member of Fergus Falls, Minnesota’s city council got himself tasered and pepper sprayed when he tried to avoid a DWI arrest. (The Daily Journal)
Carlos Santana and members of bands like Led Zeppelin and The Doors are suing a web site that sells memorabilia which the rockers allegedly never authorized for resale. (FindLaw)
Nintendo has been sued over the allegedly defective wrist straps used with the Wii remote control. (Engadget)
A new tech start-up is hoping to give IP owners a tool to automatically scan the internets for infringements. (Slashdot)
Virgil Goode, a republican representative for Virginia, is a bigoted asshole
Seems the good Mr. Goode recently sent a letter to his constituents to relax any concerns they may have that he wasn’t, in fact, a bigoted asshole. Here’s the heart of the fear monger’s letter: “I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs tradition to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.”
See, told you he was a bigoted asshole.
This letter comes on the heels of a democratic Representative-elect from Minnesota, Keith Ellison (who is a Muslim), requesting to be sworn into office with a Koran instead of the Bible. That is apparently not our Mr. Goode’s cup of tea, and he reassures his constituents that: “[w]hen I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way.”
Now here’s my problem with this bigoted asshole and his empty logic. All this letter of his says (and you can read the full text here) is “Muslims and Koran, bad…Bible good.” I have no problem with Mr. Goode’s own religious beliefs. But it’s bigoted assholery to suggest that all Muslims are bad - I think we all know this. The bigger problem here, for me, is this - would he have Representative-elect Ellison sworn in on a Bible even though Ellison doesn’t subscribe to Christianity? Not only would that give Ellison’s oath no moral authority, as he’s not swearing on something he believes in, but doesn’t it also feel like an affront to the very Bible which Mr. Goode cherishes? Seems so to me.
Virgil Goode is a bigoted asshole.
It’s not my fault I can’t keep my knickers up
This is the kind of lawsuit that sounds like it should’ve come from the always entertaining and stupefying Florida, but it’s actually from London. Back in 2002, the 29-year old Stephen Tame was enjoying his life, having recently gotten married. One day at his job, which was at a bicycle warehouse, he took a tumble off a gantry and busted up his noggin a bit. After awaking from a two month coma, things weren’t so good for Mr. Tame anymore.
See, after waking up, Tame found that he now had an increased libido. To satisfy this new sex drive, Tame turned to hookers and porn and, eventually, two full-blown affairs. I guess he didn’t like his new swinging lifestyle (dare I make the bad pun?…untamed lifestyle!), because he sued his former employer. Now I say this sounds like a Florida lawsuit because the notion of suing over an excessive libido just seem ludicrous to me. And Florida is the capital of U.S. ludicrousness.
But I guess the Brits are ok with this, because the man was actually awarded 3.1 million pounds by the High Court, to compensate him for the fact that “[h]is life and the life of his young wife were shattered.” Hire hookers, cheat on your wife, get the equivalent of $6 million! Only in
John McCain: Asshole
You know, I used to like John McCain quite a bit. I can appreciate the guy’s insanely patriotic fervor, excuse the occasionally amusing homophobic or ethnic joke, and even consider forgiving the blatant political posturing.
But, now the man has gone too far, introducing legislation that would basically fuck personal blogs and small commercial websites. Under his proposed law, websites and blogs would be fined $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards. Moreover:
After child pornography or some forms of “obscenity” are found and reported, the Web site must retain any “information relating to the facts or circumstances” of the incident for at least six months. Webmasters would be immune from civil and criminal liability if they followed the specified procedures exactly.
McCain’s proposal, called the “Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act,” requires that reports be submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn will forward them to the relevant police agency …
According to the proposed legislation, these types of individuals or businesses would be required to file reports: any Web site with a message board; any chat room; any social-networking site; any e-mail service; any instant-messaging service; any Internet content hosting service; any domain name registration service; any Internet search service; any electronic communication service; and any image or video-sharing service.
I appreciate the sentiment, here, but it’s honestly asking way too much of bloggers to not only figure out the identities of offending commenters, but to report and ban those people is almost impossible, particularly given the ability of posters to work around banned email address, IPs, or user names. Comment boards, particularly on popular blogs and websites that receive hundreds or thousands of comments a day, are already notoriously difficult to moderate (fark.com, for instance, would be farked). By enacting this legislation, McCain is basically chilling freedom of the speech on the Internet, and — in effect — killing the blogosphere, a domain for which he has already expressed disdain.
John McCain: You’re dead to me.
The Daily Memo - 12/19/06
Well this can’t turn out bad - a Nevada state senator would like new legislation authorizing teachers to have guns in their classrooms. (Yahoo! News)
Mel Gibson’s got some legal action coming his way as a 29-year old claims to be Mel’s love child, and the alleged story of her creation involves hitchhiking, station wagon sex, and an OJ factory. (The Superficial)
The winner of the most recent “Survivor” is a lawyer…is there anything us lawyers can’t do? (Above the Law)
An ex-quarterback of the New Orleans Saints is suing the Tennessee Titans because their mascot bumped him with a golf cart back in August…and he claims that’s worth $20 million dollars. (SI)
A Florida granny wins another court battle as a court rules that her breast-baring, as a form of demonstration, wasn’t disorderly conduct. (Daytona Beach News-Journal Online)
Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation has said that the city of Tampa has no authority to tell bars they can’t have drink specials (such as ladies’ nights or dollar drinks). (TBO.com)
The Day After
Following up on both of yesterday’s main entries….
First, we told you about the protein-enhanced salad dressing prepared by an Illinois student. Well, as expected, he surrendered to the cops yesterday and has now been charged with both disorderly conduct and attempted aggravated battery. And if you’re curious to see his mugshot, you know The Smoking Gun can feed your need.
Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon we told you about the Ward v. Arm & Hammer lawsuit, which was all about the lack of lables warning folks not to mix baking soda and cocaine. Well the case is actually on the old side, with that complaint originally filed back in ‘03. Overlawyered is on top of things, however, and lets us know that this puppy was, unsurprisingly, dismissed back in 2004. It’s worth noting that the Court was considerably more respectful of the whole thing than I would’ve been. But that’s probably why I’m not a judge….
Well we’re living here in Allentown, and they’re keeping all the good mothers down
Seriously people, it’s getting out of control. Any time a parent tries to get a bit creative anymore, there’s the Man jumping in and telling them that they don’t know what they’re doing. The latest victim of The State Knows Better is 43-year old Julie Figueroa, a former Allentown, PA resident. She found herself in court last week facing charges of endangering the welfare of children. All because she was trying to teach her kids how to be artists. By having her 12-year old son and 13-year old daughter take photographs of her.
Granted, she was naked and making seductive poses, but still…sounds like art to me. And she’s also got great fashion sense - she showed up into court with jeans bearing a rhinestone “Booty” on one rear pocket, and “Licious” on the other.
This mother-of-the-year candidate has been thrown into the clink for 9 months to 4 years. And yet another parental teaching tool is deemed improper and illegal.
Crack is Whack
It’s not quite as good as the case of Tyler v. Carter (in which a man sued the government to prevent bloodsports and the re-institution of slavery), but Ward v. Arm and Hammer is still a pretty fantastic case. According to the complaint, compliments of Above the Law, George Allen Ward is suing Arm & Hammer on a failure to warn theory of liability. Ward is suing for $425 million because A & H failed to warn Ward that if he cooked up Arm and Hammer baking soda with cocaine he might ultimately be convicted of crack-cocaine charges and receive a 200-month sentence. Ward complains that Arm & Hammer has an obligation to post warning labels.
The troubling question is that the Federal Government have insured [sic], that a company like ARM & HAMMER, which manufactures backing soda which is the “primary ingredient” along with cocaine hydrochloride in manufacturing crack and producing crack, is not penalized under the paraphernalia laws
Ward further alleges “that for a long time now” Arm & Hammer has “committed a serious case of gross ‘CONSUMERISM’ by not providing an honest labeling, warning the Plaintiff and the public with a drug prevention.”
Honestly, if Ward succeeds, I’m filing my own lawsuit against the manufacturers of Charmin for making toilet paper tubes that work so very well as bongs, the manufacturers of spoons for providing the perfect cooking device for heroin, and the corporations behind razor blades, which allow for the neat creation of coke lines on mirrors.
The Daily Memo - 12/18/06
Executions have been suspended in Florida (by Governor Jeb, after a botched needle insertion) and in California (by a federal court, which ruled the state’s lethal injection method as a broken method). (FindLaw)
A Ren Fair nerd’s mom has sued his high school after his yearbook photo was rejected. (Law.com)
Last week it was old vibrators - now the Google patent search gives us Megatron! (Gizmodo)
Did Stephen Colbert induce copyright infringement of the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate dictionary? (43(B)log)
An 85-year old man has been charged with kidnapping his wife from her nursing home and taking her down to Florida. (Yahoo! News)
The latest defendant sentenced to wear a sign: a 29-year old had to hang outside of a grocery store with a sign reading “I am not handicapped, I just parked there, sorry.” (Yahoo! News)
Two frat brothers in Florida have been convicted under a new anti-hazing law. (ABC News)
Hmmm…this salad tastes like it has a bit more protein than usual
Thanks to the ever-vigilant Smoking Gun, we have learned of a fantastic little letter that the principal of Wheaton North High School, in Illinois, had to send to student parents to alert them of a little, uhm, situation. We’ll let Principal Bullo’s words explain the reason for the letter:
There is no tactful way to give you this information, so I will explain it as it occurred. During the “D” lunch period on December 6, 2007, a male student removed a Ranch salad dressing container from the Student Commons, went into the boy’s restroom, ejaculated into the bottle, and then returned the container to the condiment table. It is unclear if anyone subsequently used the salad dressing prior to its normal cleaning by food service personnel.
The 17-year old has been charged with two misdemeanors and is set to surrender to the cops today.
If he winds up in the clink, this kind of culinary creativity should totally land him kitchen duty. After all, it’s all about using the ingredients that are available to you.
The Daily Memo - 12/15/06
The truth of the method behind the madness of law school exam grading is finally revealed. (Concurring Opinions)
Over 25% of the legislation signed into law by Congress over the last two years was about naming federal buildings, especially post offices. (CNN Political Ticker)
Wanna’ join a movement trying to use “citizen legislatures to collaboratively script their own legislation?” (NewAssignment.net)
Lesson 1.2 in the Xoxohth dissection hits us with “the whys and wherefores.” (Concurring Opinions)
Now you can search for patents on Google…. (Likelihood of Confusion)
…which is why we may now know of the first patent for a vibrator. (Gizmodo)
After four years, Oliver Stone (he of the tasteless Jack the Ripper “joke”) has been hit with a $6,000 fine for violating the Cuban embargo when he filmed a documentary about Castro. (Corruption Chronicles)
Senator Leahy, the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the Committee will be focusing on data privacy and rewritten patent laws next term. (c|net news)
If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits…
As you probably heard, Peter Boyle (originally from Philly, baby!), died earlier this week. While many probably know him as the pops from “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the more enlightened among us will always remember him from his hilarious turn in Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein.
Where am I go with this?
Body parts, baby; body parts.
This week, the New York Court of Appeals established, for any doubters, that a person does not own another’s organs. In this instance, when Peter Lucia died, his wife agreed to donate Lucia’s kidneys to Robert Colavito, a friend of Lucia’s living in Florida. However, only one kidney got sent to Florida, and it was damaged en route. By the time the other kidney could be tracked down, it had already gone through the New York Organ Donor Network to another recipient and Colavito was stuck.
He filed a lawsuit against the network, arguing that this was a misappropriation, because he had been promised his friend’s kidneys. The lawsuit was dismissed by the District Court, so it moved up to the appellate chain to the state’s top court:
The state Court of Appeals said it relied in part on Lord Coke’s 400-year-old pronouncement “that a corpse has no value” to decide that Robert Colavito had no right to Peter Lucia’s kidney and the New York Organ Donor Network legally gave it to another patient.
Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have quite as funny an ending as Young Frankenstein. Colavito never received a replacement kidney, despite being pushed to the top of the donor list, and he died this past June.
(hat tip to The Legal Reader)
I Could Go At Any Time
We here at QuizLaw love when parents try to take short-cuts in parenting — there’s so much we can learn from our subjects by their nifty strategies. Take, for instance, the story we reported on several months ago, about the family that decided to duct tape their children for the day, in lieu of a babysitter. Genius! And, something we can apply to our everyday lives.
But, just the other day, I was wondering to myself: Self, if I were to have a child, and that child were to piss his pants, how would I go about not having to change my son into a fresh pair of pants and punishing my child for his blunder at the same time?
“Oh, oh, I know! I know!” says Aron Pritchard, a Wichita man with his hand waving in the air like a madman.
“Yes. You sir, what’s the ideal method for dealing with a child who has oopsied all over himself?”
“Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I just stuck my girlfriend’s 3-year-old son in the dryer. And for good measure – so, he’d get the idea that we didn’t approve of anybody wetting oneself in our house — I threw his 2-year-old sister in the dryer, too! You want to throw both kids in at once – it saves on the electric bill, and they bounce off of each other a little, so that it absorbs the blows, if you know what I mean.”
“Wow, Aron. That’s, like, awesome. They ought to put that into Dr. Benjamin Spock’s next child-rearing book. You get into trouble for that?”
“Aw, not so bad. Four hours in jail, and $750 bond. But, really, $750 is nothing compared to the costs of a babysitter these days. And I tell you what: That damn kid won’t be urinating in his britches again anytime soon.”
The Daily Memo - 12/14/06
A Florida high school student, who happened to be the senior class president, has been arrested for mucking about in the school’s computer system and changing 19 students’ grades. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
“Lesbians in the OC.” (Above the Law)
A federal judge rules that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 didn’t properly, or entirely, suspend habeas corpus. (SCOTUSblog)
Joe Francis, the founder and producer of “Girls Gone Wild,” will be paying $1.6 million to the state of Florida after pleading guilty to charges that he didn’t ensure that the boobies were legal. (KSAT)
Well here’s a doubtless lawsuit in the making - a school teacher is likely to be fired in the near future after it came out that the teacher told three boys to piss in a soda bottle, rather than going to the restroom. (KNBC)
A Miami police chief’s son has been sentenced to 18 months in the clink because he tried to buy 400 pounds of pot (!!) last year. (CNN)
The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a death penalty conviction issued by a jury that wasn’t allowed to take smoke breaks. (Law.com)
Another reason to love New Jersey - asshole cops
I haven’t had many run-ins with the fuzz, luckily, and most of my police-type encounters have simply been traffic/driving related. In my limited experience, however, I have found Jersey cops (particularly the state troopers) to generally be the biggest assholes of them all. To be fair, I’d probably be a grumpy prick if all I did every day was cruise the turnpike for a full shift, only to have to go home at the end of the day to a house that’s still in bloody New Jersey.
Anyway, in this story the Jersey state troopers actually come off quite ok, although another Jersey cop takes the cake for being an asshole cop. Back in 2004, two state troopers pulled over a cop who was in an unmarked car because of alleged reckless driving. After being stopped, he refused to identify himself as a cop and refused to give them his gun, so he got a bit of pepper spray in the face. Well of course he is now suing these troopers, and his reasoning is basically that they didn’t afford him the special privileges he felt he was entitled to as a cop.
Of course, his lawyer claims that it’s not about “a special privilege.” However, she then says, about the notion of cops not hassling fellow cops and just “talking cop-to-cop,” that it’s “just known between them.” Which to me, you know, kinda’ sounds exactly like a special privilege.
Ladies and gentlemen - former Tinton Falls detective Gary Wade. QuizLaw’s asshole of the week!
Get Over Yourself, Evel
It looks like the esteemed, hero-worshipped, daredevil dumbass, Evel Knievel, apparently isn’t familiar with parody or fair use laws, as news comes that he’s suing Kanye West, claiming that Kanye’s video for “Touch the Sky” infringed upon his trademarked name and likeness.
The video in question featured Kanye taking on the persona of “Evel Kanyevel,” as he attempts to jump over a canyon on a rocket-propelled motorcycle, a stunt Evel Knievel once attempted – and failed. In the video, Pamela Anderson is also depicted as Kanye’s girlfriend.
According to lawsuit papers, Evel claims the video contains “vulgar and offensive sexual images, language and conduct involving ‘Evel Kanyevel’ and women apparently trying to gain his sexual interest.” Knievel also notes that the “video that Kanye West put out is the most worthless piece of crap I’ve ever seen in my life, and he uses my image to catapult himself on the public.”
Oh, come off it, Evel: You know what hurts your reputation more? Filing dumbass, worthless lawsuits that obviously have little merit and no chance of succeeding. Is it so bad at the Knievel palace that you feel the need to file a lawsuit for what’s essentially a tribute to your misguided attempts to capture fame by breaking your goddamn bones against canyon walls? You’re not exactly the poster boy for Christian enlightenment, either – your name is Evel, for fuck’s sake. How’s that go over in Sunday School? Go back where you belong, pal: 1982 lunch boxes.
The Daily Memo - 12/13/06
There’s growing legal kerfluffle over who owns the noose that was used in the last public hanging in Illinois. (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
One Illinois state judge gets busted for a DUI while his boss, the Chief Judge, gets caught trying to empty out his beer can on the road. (Law.com)
Yet another idiot has gone to the cops to complain that their drugs were stolen. (Sui Generis)
A New York federal judge has ruled that the Atkins diet, or at least a book about it, is protected by the First Amendment. (WCBS-TV)
Three people were shot by a man who thought he got cheated in a deal for a truck toilet seat patent. (Gizmodo)
RIM is suing Samsung for trademark infringement, alleging confusion between its BLACKBERRY mark and Samsung’s new competing BlackJack. (Engadget)
Democrats are planning to try block a Congressional pay raise set to kick in at the end of the year. (MyWay News)
DirecTV is being sued by Time Warner because of alleged false advertising about the NFL Network. (MSN MoneyCentral News)
Well nothing bad can happen here…
State Representative Edmund Kuempel has introduce the bill, which would require blind hunters to go hunting with a sighted hunter. Kuempel hopes the legislation will pass early next year. “This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that’s great.”
Of course, it also opens up the fun of additional people getting a Dick Cheney shot to the face, but Kuempel doesn’t say if he thinks that’s great.
Now here’s what I don’t get. A hunter/educator-type guy has explained how a blind hunter can get his hunt on:
A blind person can shoot a rifle by mounting an offset pistol scope on the side of the rifle instead of on top….This allows their companion behind them to peer over their shoulder and help them sight it, but the blind person can pull the trigger.
Which makes it sound like the seeing-eye-hunter does all the work and the blind guy just pulls the trigger. And I’m not sure that really qualifies as hunting. But if blind guys wanna’ do some shootin’ and killin’, I guess this is as good a way as any.
…remind me never to move to Texas.
Supreme Court Decision Update - Carey v. Musladin
In yesterday’s other Supreme Court decision, Carey v. Musladin (PDF of the opinion), the Court took a look at a new issue for the Supremes, whether spectators at murder trials can wear buttons with pictures of the victim on them. There’s also a little bit about habeas corpus law in there, which must have the Bush Administration up in arms, since they thought they had already eradicated habeas corpus.
QuizLaw Analysis: Well this comes from the Ninth Circuit, and since the guys over in the Ninth said “no” to the buttons, you should know where this is going - the Supremes reversed, unanimously agreeing that folks who sit in at a murder trial can wear buttons with victim pics because this doesn’t unfairly prejudice the jury against the defendant. The Supremes declined to go any further, however, despite the State’s plea that every spectator should be required to wear at least 37 pieces of flair.
So this started with a murder trial? Yup. In 1994, Mathew Musladin shot and killed a man. He confessed to the murder but claimed it was in self-defense. The jury didn’t buy this, and they hit him with a first-degree murder conviction. Musladin appealed the verdict however, claiming that there was prejudice because the victim’s family members were at the trial with the victim’s photo on buttons. The California Court of Appeal didn’t buy this argument, concluding that the buttons would likely just be seen as a sign of grief by the jury, and they wouldn’t serve to brand Musladin as guilty in the jury’s eyes. Musladin then moved on up to the Ninth Circuit via a writ of habeas corpus, and the Ninth Circuit reversed this because the Ninth found that the state court decision went against established federal law.
Who got the pleasure of writing this unanimous decision? Turns out the opinion itself wasn’t unanimous, just the final vote. There’s a majority decision written by Justice Thomas, and joined by Chief Justice Johnny and Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer and Alito. Then there are separate concurring opinions from Justices Kennedy, Souter and Stevens.
Lay Clarence’s opinion on me, would you? Things are pretty straight forward here. Thomas begins by noting that federal habeas relief can only be granted where it’s clear that the state court decision at issue went against established federal law. There are two main cases of relevant federal law here. The first is Estelle v. Williams, where the issue was whether there is a Constitutional violation of one’s rights when a defendant is forced to show up in what are obviously prison garbs. The Supremes said this was definitely prejudicial and that the State can’t compel a defendant to wear prison clothes. In the second case, Holbrook v. Flynn, the courtroom conduct at issue was having uniformed cops sitting right behind the defendant. Here the Supremes found that this wasn’t quite inherently prejudicial because there wasn’t an “unacceptable risk” that the jury would consider impermissible factors.
Now both of these cases were about state-sponsored acts, because it was the state which made the defendant wear prison clothes, and the state that made the uniformed cops sit in the courtroom. Here, however, we’re talking private action, not state-sponsored action, and the Court has never addressed when private action in the courtroom is inherently prejudicial to the point that it deprives a defendant of a fair trial.
And since the Court has never addressed the matter, there is no clear federal law. In fact, lower courts have been all over the place on this issue. Thus, Thomas can’t say that the California state court unreasonably applied established federal law, so the Ninth Circuit never should have reversed the California court, and that’s that
What’s Kennedy’s take? Kennedy starts off by saying that there should be a new trial whenever the defendant can show that there was an atmosphere of coercion or intimidation. And to Kennedy’s mind, this should be true regardless of who create the atmosphere, whether it was the State or private individuals. But Kennedy agrees with the outcome here - he doesn’t see that the buttons were coercive or intimidating enough to create such a prejudicial atmosphere. However, he does think there may need to be a new rule for this type of situation, and he suggests that the lower courts may have to play around with this.
And what about Souter? Souter thinks there’s a clear federal standard here because there are plenty of cases which look at how courtroom conditions can threaten a fair trial, and they all ask the question of whether there’s an “unacceptable risk” that the jury will consider “impermissible factors.” And there’s no reason that this set of cases shouldn’t apply to private spectators. Here, Souter sees no question that the buttons at least raise a risk that the jury will make an improper consideration, but he concurs with Thomas because he doesn’t think that risk is unacceptable. Most courts that have looked at the button issue have left the convictions alone, which means, to him, that the risk is ok. Plus, he says there may be a minor First Amendment issue about the button-wearing.
And finally, what about Stevens? Stevens basically writes separately to say two things. First, he would have signed on with Souter, except he doesn’t like the suggestion that there’s any First Amendment protection issue here. Second, he doesn’t like some of the language Thomas cites from an earlier O’Conner decision. He feels that O’Conner’s original language was already “dictum about dicta” and that “its repetition today is wholly unnecessary.”
Skinny Girl Famous for Nothing Arrested for DUI
For those of you who don’t venture into the gossip blogs or read celebrity headlines, you might have missed the news that Nicole Richie was arrested for driving under the influence early Monday morning. Actually, come to think of it, if you don’t venture into gossip blogs, you probably don’t even know who Nicole Richie is, and it’s hard to properly describe her relevancy to a layperson. She’s Lionel Richie’s daughter, which is not what makes her famous. She has a reality television show called “The Simple Life,” that few people have seen. And, she was once best friends with Paris Hilton, for also whom there is no reasonable explanation for her popularity and/or relevancy. They drink. The whore themselves out to rich, drunk men. And they rarely eat – in fact, if Richie were to turn sideways, you’d never even know she was in a room.
At any rate, a 911 caller spotted Richie driving her SUV on the wrong side of the road. When police arrived to the scene, Richie was pulled over in the car pool lane, where she admitted she was under the influence of marijuana and Vicodin.
The Daily Memo - 12/12/06
If Professor Bainbridge is posting about football, especially about a player on my Iggles (even if it’s a player I wish I didn’t have to root for in the first place), you know I’m going to give it a link! (Professor Bainbridge’s Journal)
The Fourth Department over there in New York has pissed off at least one person for its failure to tell a proper story. (Sui Generis)
The Court has denied a request by those two Borat frat brothers for a preliminary injunction to have footage of them pulled from the flick. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)
Florida may step up the penalties for beating up the homeless by making it a hate crime. (Sun-Sentinel.com)
An Indiana state appellate court has ruled that Taco Bell can be sued for bad security after a woman was shot while waiting in the drive-through. (Chicago Tribune)
Mariah Carey is looking to block similarly-named Mary Carey from trademarking her name. (Scotsman.com)
Last week Congress managed to get the Combating Autism Act passed, providing almost $1 billion dollars for research into the increasingly prevalent disorder. (MSNBC.com)
Supreme Court Decision Update - BP America Production Co. v. Burton
The Supremes gave us two new decisions yesterday and this first one is, for lack of a better word, simply fascinating. Seriously, trust me on this. BP America Production Co. v. Burton (PDF of the opinion) is about statutory interpretation and the statute of limitations as it relates to a specific type of Governmental administrative claim. Good times, good times.
QuizLaw Analysis:This case relates to a very specific statutory provision regarding the statute of limitations for contract claims brought by the government. And it more specifically relates to whether that provision applies to a specific type of administrative proceeding relating to payment orders made by the Minerals Management Services. And the Court says it doesn’t. So there you go. Now, I don’t blame you for jumping ship here, although I will tell you there’s a nice little Latin lesson for you, if you stick around. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
As quick as possible, can you fill me in on this case? A while back, Amoco Production Co. leased some land from the government, and used that land to produce oil and gas, and that lease was later passed over to BP America Production Co. Now back in 1996, the Minerals Management Services (the “MMS”), which is part of the Department of the Interior, audited the payments BP was making to the government per this lease. They determined that BP was improperly valuing the gas, and since the lease payments were based off of the gas value, the MMS said BP had been underpaying. So the MMS issued a payment order, requiring additional royalty money to cover the period from 1989 to 1996.
Now there’s a general statutory section that sets up a six year statute of limitations for contract actions brought by the Government. So BP appealed the payment order saying that order was barred, in part, by the six year statute of limitations (i.e., BP could only be ordered to pay royalties for a six year period, and not for anything further back). The Assistant Secretary of the Interior told BP to take a hike, and so did the D.C. District Court and Appellate Court.
Seems pretty straightforward - why did the Supremes agree to hear this? Back in 2001, the Tenth Circuit ruled differently from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, so the Supremes decided to settle the matter.
Now, it should be noted that the only issue here is whether the six year statute of limitations applies to MMS payment orders issued before September 1, 1996. This is because a new Congressional act relating to oil and gass leases became effective on that day, and it clarified the issue of statute of limitations here. So the outcome of this case is really narrow in scope.
So who’s on what side here? We’ve actually got a nice little unanimous opinion, penned by Justice Alito. Although Chief Justice Johnny and Justice Breyer didn’t play on this case at all, so it’s only a 7-0 case, not a 9-0 case.
And what’s Alito got to say for himself? He affirms the lower rulings, finding that the six year statute of limitations doesn’t apply in this case. First, he looks at the clear language of the statute of limitations, which applies when the Government files a “complaint” for an “action for money damages.” “Action” and “complaint” generally refer to judicial proceedings, as opposed to administrative proceedings, and nothing suggests that this language is intended to be broader in this instance. And here, we’re talking about administrative proceedings, so a basic language reading says the statute doesn’t apply. While BP tries to prove that “action” is often used in connection with administrative proceedings, Alito says BP is messed up on this point because all of the language it cites to includes something modifying “action” to clarify that it applies to administrative proceedings, but here we’ve got language using “action on its own.”
Next, Alito says that a letter and payment order from the MMS isn’t even a “complaint,” since a complaint is generally and primarily understood to be the starting of a civil litigation. Which isn’t what the MMS payment order does. Not to mention the fact that the MMS payment order doesn’t even have the necessary parts of a complaint.
BP also tried to argue that this ruling would make another section of the same statute superfluous, and that would go against a rule that you shouldn’t read a statute in a way which makes another part of it redundant. But Alito poo-poo’s this argument because that other provision came along many years after the statute of limitations provision, to provide clarification of a point unrelated to this case. And it would still serve that purpose, regardless of the Court’s ruling. Similarly, Alito isn’t buying the argument that the Court’s interpretation somehow makes the statutory scheme as a whole something odd or peculiar - instead, Alito says BP’s way of doing things would make the statute lack symmetry and harmony. In other words, “buzz off, BP.”
What about that Latin lesson? Ah yes. Alito explains that, if there was any doubt here, BP would be screwed anyway, because there’s a rule about statutes of limitation that says they should be construed as narrowly as possible against the government. And this ruling provides just such a narrow interpretation.
See, there’s this old rule, “quod nullum tempus occurrit regi,” which means that “time does not run against the King.” And a corollary to that rule is a rule that “when the sovereign elects to subject itself to a statute of limitations, the sovereign is given the benefit fo the doubt if the scope of the statute is ambiguous.” So any ambiguity here goes against BP anyway. Again, “buzz off, BP.”
The best little lawyer in Georgia
If you’re ever in Fulton County, Georgia and find yourself looking for a lawyer, look no further than Moreton Rolleston Jr. And right now, he’s easy as hell to find - just head over to the county jail. That’s where the 88-year-old attorney is sitting, thanks to his ongoing “machinations and artifice” in trying to muck up the transfer and sale of 18 acres of property (a sale he is supposed to make as part of a settlement). During a hearing last week, which Rolleston appeared to in handcuffs, the lawyer was quite uppity and had to be repeatedly calmed by the deputies. He made various arguments trying to justify his actions, including this curious bit:
“A lawyer’s right to pursue his law practice is protected by the U.S. Constitution,” said Rolleston, “and nobody has a right to stop him.”
The judge didn’t buy it, and said that Rolleston will remain in jail until he dismisses the pending appeal which is holding things up, and signs a waiver assuring that he won’t file any other appeals.
And if you’re not yet sold on the fact that Rolleston is the feisty lawyer you’re looking for, how’s this for you - back in the 60’s, he got to argue his own case before the Supreme Court. He tried to claim that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not mean that he had to let blacks into a motel he owned. Sure, the Supremes didn’t buy into his racist argument, but you gotta’ give him props for trying, right?
He’s also been involved in a variety of other lawsuits on his own behalf, including an 11-year-feud over a $5.2 million malpractice judgment that he got hit with in the 90’s:
The opinions documenting his string of losing legal battles are often blistering: In turning down a case he brought in Cobb County, Ga., against a purchaser last year, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears authored a separate concurring opinion asserting that “frivolous and reprehensible conduct has caused needless hardship for his opponents.” Further, she wrote, “Rolleston has also disgraced the legal profession … this Court should utilize its inherent authority to order that he be disbarred.”
As one opposing attorney puts it: “No one has been given more opportunity to have his day in court; and day, and day, and day, at great expense to all.”
So go git yerself some Rolleston representation now, while you still can!
Florida judges suck just as much as the Florida cops
While Florida cops are busy creating revenue under the guise of being cute helper-elves, Florida judges are frying bigger fish. Or at least, Judge John Sloop was. Said bigger fish being, in this instance, 11 violent criminals whom Sloop sent to the big house.
Only, they weren’t actually violent criminals. They were folks who showed up late to traffic court, where they were set to face charges for things like having illegal tags or driving with a suspended license. But Sloop didn’t care. They were late, and so to the clink they go! And that they got to have strip searches? Well that’s just a freebie!
The complaints made by these 11 ungrateful citizens (seriously, who doesn’t want a free strip search), were apparently the latest of many conduct complaints against Sloop, who has now been ruled unfit to remain on the bench by the state Supreme Court.
The 57-year-old judge admits that his actions were wrong, but then tries to cop out by blaming it on a previously undiagnosed attention deficit disorder. Because, you know, ADD apparently makes you stupid.
The Daily Memo - 12/11/06
Arlen Specter is again getting his panties in a bunch over the NFL’s exclusive deal with DirecTV which, as a non-DirecTV subscriber, I’m ok with - my interest in being able to watch more football outweighs my belief that this may be just a tiny waste of Senatorial resources. (SI.com)
Did you know that comic books were used as a weapon in the battle for public support by each side of the Roe v. Wade issue? (Comics Should Be Good! (second item))
A Georgia woman has been sentenced to walk around with a sandwich board reading “I am a thief” and “I stole what you worked for” on it. (The Sun-Sentinel)
An assistant principal at a California high school has been arrested after the fool went to complain that while he was high, a hired hooker allegedly stole his stuff. (CBS13)
A Christian frat is suing the University of Georgia…(ajc.com)
…except the University decided to relent. (ajc.com)
A statewide smoking ban in Ohio has now gone into effect - when smokers are told this is a reason for them to avoid Ohio, they respond by saying “it’s, like, number 57 on the list of reasons why to avoid Ohio.’ (Wane-TV)
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a speeding ticket for going 83…
I once had this dream where I broke into Santa’s Village to see what the Fat Man was up to, and I got chased down by his elf security staff. This is sorta’ like that dream - a Florida police deputy thinks himself clever enough to dress like an elf while pegging people for speeding:
I’m Santa’s helper today, helping to save lives so we can help these people enjoy their Christmas, so their families can enjoy their Christmas without the tragedy of traffic crashes.
Sounds like great Christmas spirit, right? Unless you’re a grinch like me, who thanks that the real purpose behind this is simply to get some revenue for the Sheriff’s Office. Which is supported by the fact that the elf and his buddies actually “wrote 53 tickets in 45 minutes and wound up writing a total of about 180 in the nearly three-hour detail.” One three-hour detail doesn’t make Christmas tragedy free. But 180 tickets sure puts some nice coin in the county chaffers.
Ho ho ho.
You don’t have to tell us, brother!
What’s the hardest part about being QuizLaw?
The Daily Memo - 12/8/06
A 13-year-old girl has been charged as both a victim and an offender for having consexual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend. (DenverPost.com)
About 12,000 people voted illegally in Ohio, because they didn’t sign in at their precincts. (Sweetness & Light)
The U.S. Mint is being sued by a family who claims that the Mint seized 10 rare and valuable gold coins found in the possessions of a recently deceased relative. (The Legal Reader)
“Famous trademarks of products that don’t exist” (e.g., DUFF BEER and COGSWELL COGS). (The Trademark Blog)
Ethics? What now? (GoComics)
More judges are packing heat when they go to court - nothing bad can come from this! (Law.com)
The RIAA wants to steal more money from the artists it represents. (The Digital Music Weblog)
Tom Brady is suing Yahoo because they like to use his sexy mug to advertise their fantasy football. (The Trademark Blog)
Don’t read this entry
Well. Clearly you don’t pay attention to warnings. If you did, you would’ve abided by the title of this entry, and we wouldn’t be in this predicament. And the predicament is this. I could tell you not to click on the link I’m about to give you. But since you don’t follow rules, you’re just going to click on it anyway. And if I try the reverse psychology thing one you (“click on the shiny red link…you know you want to”), you probably will click anyway.
So the only way to spare you from this link is to not put it up at all. But I just can’t do that.
So, let’s just say you should consider yourself warned - why tax law bloggers take a break.
(Evil hat tip to Above the Law)
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim
Move over Melvin Belli, Bruce Lanitt, Johnnie Cochran, Mark Gerrogos, and Thomas Mesereau, there’s a new celebrity lawyer in town, and his name is … Gore.
Yeah. Former two-time Vice-President Al Gore is apparently being recruited by Lindsay Lohan to take up her legal cause against tabloids that are purportedly sullying her name, mostly by reporting the truth about her bar-hopping, coke-snorting, sexual dalliances.
In a Blackberry message sent to her lawyer, and later leaked to the press, Lohan writes:
People are just mean. I am going to proceed with putting LR to court if need be for what she’s done to me. Its my life. I want to live it. People cannot lie and think that it is okay to continue on having done so. Simply because they will do it again to someone else, and that is not alright with me. I have had many ups and downs, as do we all. But to make false accusations to one girl is unjust in my oppinion. Having said this, I am willing to do anything I need to get my life the way it should be and the way I work for it to be.. And have thus far in my career. Let’s sue the tabloids for saying the things they say. Defamation of character. Amongst other illegal accusations, I will repeat this over and over to make my point. I am not fully aware of what these, again, accusations are, but I am fully and eagerly prepared to learn them. Have harvey and all lawyers help me please. If he is willing. Al Gore will help me he came up to me last night and said he would be very happy to have a conversation with me. If he is willing to help me, let’s find out. Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and Evan metroplis, and John Daur who works with them would be willing, if we just ask. If we just ASK. I’d really like to fix things and refuse to stop on any account for these unintelligent, vulgar people who like to hurt other people.
Aside from the belief that Al Gore would give a shit about the star of Just My Luck, I just love that the half-literate nit-wit starlet wants to sue the tabloids for “illegal accusations” of which she is “not fully aware of what these, again, accusations are.” Personally, I’m just excited about reading the 12(b)6 motion: “Your honor. We respectfully request that you dismiss this case for failure to make a lick of fucking sense.”
Let’s see Al Gore litigate that.
The Daily Memo - 12/7/06
Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick provides an in-depth discussion of a Scalia/Breyer chat. (Slate)
What’s the world coming to when a man gets arrested just for driving his car while naked? (RepublicanAmerican)
We’re a bit late in pointing to it, but Blawg Review #86 is up. (Infamy or Praise)
Jackie Mason has settled his “Jew for Jesus” case for an apology. (WSJ Law Blog)
Shockingly, a lawyer has been suspended after getting caught trying to sell info to the opposing party in a landlord/tenant case. (The Legal Reader)
The judge who got in trouble for using sex toys while at the bench will not be getting parole. (FindLaw)
A World War II vet has gotten into a fight with his homeowners’ association over the land where he put his flag pole. (StarTribune)
Representative Jack Kingston (R, GA) and others of his ilk can blow me
Over at the House, Representative Steny H. Hover has been working on next year’s schedule, and he says there’s going to be longer hours. For example, lately, “the legislative week started late Tuesday and ended by Thursday afternoon - and that was during the relatively few weeks the House wasn’t in recess.” Now, representatives are being told to plan on being around from 6:30 p.m. on Monday until about 2 p.m. on Friday.
That’s almost a five day work week! Can you even imagine?
In addition, there will be a cutback of the extended holidays, like the six weekdays Representatives used to get off around Memorial Day (as opposed to the one weekday peons like you and I get off).
Meanwhile, folks from Alaska, Hawaii and other far states are understandably tweaked by the fact that they’re going to be away from home more. But you know what, that’s your job. And as for Jack Kingston, he lives in friggin’ Georgia, so he’s really got no business complaining. Particularly when he tries to spin it thusly:
Keeping us up here eats away at families…Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care les about families - that what’s this says.
That’s right, Jack. The Dem’s hate families.
Seriously, buddy, fuck you.
Supreme Court Decision Update - Lopez v. Gonzales
It’s been a while since we had a new opinion from the Supremes, and I was starting to feel like they forgot about me. But now with Lopez v. Gonzales (PDF of the opinion), I feel loved again. Especially since a case about immigrants and drugs can’t be as boring as the impending patent case. I’ll take anything from the Supremes over that patent opinion.
QuizLaw Analysis: Here, the Supremes have basically made it a little easier for some immigrants to avoid being thrown out of the country when they get convicted of drug possession under a state law. The underlying legal teaching of this case is that when a state crime is considered a misdemeanor by the Controlled Substances Act, even if the state itself considers the crime a felony, that crime does not count as a “felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act.” Because, as I just said, the Act considers it a misdemeanor. Sure, it seems like common sense, but lawyers hate common sense, so they needed the Supremes to explain this to them.
What’s this all about? Jose Antonio Lopez started off his life in the US as an illegal immigrant. But in 1990, he did right and became a legal permanent resident. In 1997, however, he did some wrong, and he was arrested in South Dakota and ended up pleading guilty to helping someone else get coke. This got him five years in the clink (although he got out after a bit more than two years, for being a good boy). Once released, the INS began removal proceedings to have him tossed out of the country because of this conviction. One ground for removal was because Lopez had a controlled substance violation. Lopez didn’t challenge this. But he did challenge the other ground, that this conviction counted as an aggravated felony.
The reason for this challenge is because, with just the first ground, Lopez could petition the Attorney General to cancel the removal proceeding. But the second ground, removal because of an aggravated felony, takes such discretion away from the Attorney General, meaning Lopez would have no recourse.
Seems straight forward, so where’s the complication? Well here’s the problem. While the Immigration and Nationality Act (the “INA”) says that any “illicit trafficking” of drugs is an aggravated felony, it doesn’t actually bother to define “illicit trafficking.” However, it does say that “illicit trafficking” includes a “drug trafficking crime,” and that’s defined as any felony under the Controlled Substances Act (the “CSA”).
Now, the crime Lopez was convicted of is not a felony under the CSA. But it is a felony under South Dakota law. So the INS argued that this qualifies it as an aggravated felony. Lopez, meanwhile, argued that since it’s not a felony under the CSA, this makes no sense.
The Immigration Judge decided that this was an aggravated felony under the INA, even though it’s only a misdemeanor under the CSA, because it is a felony under state law. So Lopez was ordered to be deported. And this order was affirmed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (the “BIA”) and the Eighth Circuit.
And because of a Circuit Split over the issue, the Supremes decided to lay down the law.
How’s the new Roberts Court doing with the whole “happy, friendly and unanimous” thing? Not so well. We almost had a unanimous opinion this time, penned by Justice Souter. However, Clarence decided to ruin it all - Scalia apparently took the leash off, and Thomas went off writing his own little dissenting opinion. All by himself. …look who’s a big boy now!
What’s the Souter majority have to say for itself? Quite simply, they hit us with a refreshing bit of common sense - if something’s a misdemeanor under the CSA, it just doesn’t qualify as a “felony punishable under the” CSA for the purposes of the INA. Even if it’s a felony under state law. Case closed.
Since the statute doesn’t define “trafficking,” Souter looked at the word’s every day meaning, where it’s normally understood to mean “some sort of commercial dealing.” Lopez’s crime was all about possession (and helping someone else figure out where to get some drugs), so there was no actual commerce (i.e., Lopez wasn’t buying or selling). To interpret things the way the feds want, it would mean that mere possession would generally fall under trafficking, and that makes the Court “very wary of the Government’s position” since it doesn’t comport with basic language. But the Court cites to Humpty Dumpty to explain that this doesn’t necessarily end the argument:
Which is not to deny that the Government might still be right; Humpty Dumpty used a word to mean “‘just what [he chose] it to mean - neither more nor less,’” and legislatures, too, are free to be unorthodox.
However, nothing here really supports that Congress wanted to define illicit trafficking in some funky way. And taking such an interpretation leads to tricky consequences, like the fact that the law of alien removal would depend, at least in part, on how each state chooses to classify its own crimes.
So what’s Clarence got his panties in a bunch about? As mentioned, Justice Thomas was the sole dissenting voice here. He thinks that Lopez’s crime does qualify as an aggravated felony under the INA because it’s a felony (under state law) and is punishable under the CSA. In other words, he thinks the rest of the Supremes are unnecessarily limiting application to federal felonies.
And he also finds their approach “unpersuasive,” and goes on to explain why. Not to belittle his rationale, but I’m hungover at the time of this writing, so if you want to find out why he thinks it’s all so unpersuasive, you can go read it yourself.
Season’s Greetings from the Legal Department
It’s totally that time of year again, y’all. Holiday Parties can mean only one thing: Awkward drunken proposals delivered under makeshift mistletoe arrangements, designed primarily to make the rest of the year unbearably tense! Good times.
In that spirit, both Lawyers.com and Dahlia Lithwick have offered much-needed primers on the legal liability associated with holiday parties, namely “social host” laws, which hold party hosts liable if their guest have one too many spiked eggnogs and run over little Timmy on the drive home.
Such hosts may unwittingly put themselves in legal hot water by not carefully monitoring their guests’ intoxication levels, particularly when they get in their cars. A few precautionary minutes when planning parties can save the time, money and the heartache of the legal ramifications of a guest’s crash.
In other words, designate a key master. May we suggest this handsome fella to the left!
As Lawyers.com also makes clear, office parties contain increased risks for unwanted sexual advances, for which business owners can be held legally liable.
So, Ms. Lithwick has come up with the perfect holiday invitation, for all those who don’t want to be sued for Christmas.
WARNING: You are herein invited to attend a Holiday Party. Should you choose to attend this event, you are herein advised that you do so at your own peril. Food served may be manufactured in factories that may contain machinery that may have touched peanuts. In the absence of any coherent party-based sexual-harassment policy, you are warned that any hugging/touching/casual flirting/wine-stem fondling/hair tossing/breast gazing/butt grabbing will be deemed actionable at law. All guests must maintain a 5-foot distance from all others at all times (spouses included). Appropriate topics for conversation are: work; sports; light political banter; reality-television shows. Any unapproved conversational topics shall be cleared in advance by the Human Resources department. All dance moves shall be preapproved by the HR department. Seminars on these moves shall be conducted twice daily in the small conference room on the second floor between now and the day of the party. All closets, conference rooms, restrooms, and other possible areas of sexual misconduct are to be padlocked for the duration of the event. Small children are to be chaperoned at all times. Any child found playing or otherwise conducting himself in a childlike manner will be summarily removed from the premises. Should you or your partner feel at any point during the party that you have been sexually harassed, socially discomfited, religiously proselytized, or otherwise made to feel uneasy in any way, a team of HR lawyers will be made available to you immediately. Do not minimize your feelings or wait a few days to see if the bad feeling blows over. Prompt attention to any social discomfort is critical to eradicating it in the workplace. Once again, we wish you and yours a very happy holiday season, and hope to make this year’s office party the best ever.
(Hat Tip to Overlawyered for bringing the links to our attention)
The Daily Memo - 12/6/06
Michigan has a new proposed law, the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act, which some argue “violates men’s rights” because it prohibits men from changing their living arrangements with a pregnant woman. (The Detroit News Online)
A Washington man and his mother have been indicted with charges stemming from the man’s 20 years of pretending to be retarded, to get social security benefits. (Yahoo! News)
God bless Norway, where a court has ruled that strip clubs provide “a form of art performed by artists.” (Scotsman.com)
An Indiana man has been sued by the state attorney general for selling cornhole games which he never delivered, but sadly, “cornhole games” just refers to those festival games where you toss a bean-bag at a series of holes. (IndyStar.com)
New York City’s Board of Health has approved a ban on all trans fats. (7Online.com)
An L.A. Times editorial writer isn’t a fan of hate crime laws. (Overlawyered)
It’s been too long
I can’t even remember the last time there was a good celebrity arrest and mugshot. The last big one I can think of was the whole Mel Gibson debacle, but his mugshot just wasn’t that entertaining. So big ups to Rip Torn for stepping up and getting himself a DWI. But bigger ups for this fantastic mug shot:
Keep keeping it real, Rip!
Who Knew the GOP Could be This Sexy?!
Though we are a legal blog that covers, mostly, laws and the men and women who draft and enact them, we do tend to get slightly risqué from time to time here at QuizLaw. And, while we’re not of the gay persuasion (not that there’s anything wrong with it), we simply couldn’t resist posting a few images of this hot, steamy new political porn calendar. Hawt! With the likes of Mark Foley, Ken Mehlman, and that sweet little piece of ass, Orin Hatch, you just knew that the hottest calendar in town would come from the Republican National Committee.
Take this photo of Dick Cheney, for instance: Rugged and devilishly sexy, Dicky C. can melt panties and boxers alike. I know, because mine are melting right now! This man could shoot a round in my face, anytime.
Or, take a gander at the March 2007 spread of George W. Bush: Phallic telephone receiver, smoldering squint, and a pair of glasses to give the 44th President of the United States that undeniably intellectual look. Cold shower! Cold shower!
The less said about April 2007’s photo, however, the better — it feels just a little too Mark Foley for my taste. President Bush best look out, before he runs afoul of his own kiddie porn laws!
But, it’s September that really takes the cake: Look closely, y’all. The man standing behind George is perilously close to a Presidential reach-around!!! Quiver!
Act now! 12 months of the hottest, steamiest calendar glossies can be yours for the low, low price of $25. Bonus! For the first 1,000 customers, the RNC will throw in for absolutely free the 2007 Lesbian calendar, featuring Lynne and Mary Cheney. Order now! This GOP Porn won’t last long!!!
The Daily Memo - 12/5/06
I hope she’s not being facetious when she asks “what could possibly be more fun than beef jerkey?” ‘Cause everyone knows that nothing is more fun than hucking some jerk. (Sui Generis)
In criminal trials, prosecutors should be careful in telling the jury that it should “send a message.” (Concurring Opinions)
Folks are considering whether to keep North Carolina’s ban, in effect since 1869, against hunting on Sundays. (The Herald Sun)
Find out the answer to “is Scott Turow a celebrity in Chicago” and other important questions that are picking at your brain. (WSJ Law Blog)
“How can you lose a case you already won?” (May It Please the Court)
* “The Poon Tang Clan,” a reference to the unholy trilogy of Brit-Brit, Lindsay and Paris, is not a moniker of my creation, but comes from a listener of KROQ’s “The Kevin and Bean Show.”
So a little while back, there were four teens looking for a night of fun. But, alas, they couldn’t find anything to do. So they apparently decided to take their inspiration from A Clockwork Orange by going out and beating a homeless man to death. They all got caught and pled guilty to avoid life sentences - three of these fuckers were given sentences between 27 and 35 years, but lil’ Warren Messner got lucky with just a 22-year sentence.
After 8 months in juvy clink, however, lil’ Warren Messner decided that this whole jail thing is just no good. So he filed a motion seeking a shorter sentence, arguing that he’s learned his lesson and could be an inspirational speaker for other troubled teens. Never mind the fact that when he was originally asked if he felt bad while killing this man he said “not really, no.” That was then, you see, and he’s learned his lesson.
Plus, this whole juvy jail thing is hard! As he explained it to the Court, he just spends all his time locked in a cell, without getting a good education. Unsurprisingly, the state prosecutor and the judge both told the kid to get bent because, you know, that’s kinda’ the point of prison, to be locked up without the same type of services that free folks get. Free folks who didn’t decide to go out and kill a homeless man.
Of course, if he’s looking for education while in the clink, maybe we need look no further than his original source of inspiration:
Get a Life
I may be one of the few who remembers a little seen Chris Elliot show which aired during the infancy of the Fox broadcasting network. It was a sitcom called, “Get a Life,” which tracked the life of a 30-year-old paperboy (Elliot) and all his weird antics (R.E.M.’s “Stand” was the theme song). Personally, I loved the show, though I was only 15 at the time and my critical faculties had not yet been honed by years of National Lampoons films, a decade of “Married … with Children,” and endless reruns of “Saved by the Bell.” So, you know, my tastes have sharpened quite a bit since that time.
Anyway, there is really only one episode in the entire 22-episode run of “Get a Life,” that I remember: Chris Elliot wins a contest, the prize being the opportunity to hang out with a celebrity for a day – in this case, Martin Mull. So during an “Afternoon Delight” montage, Martin and Chris go out and do crazy things that sitcom characters in zany programs do, and at the end of this little segment, Elliot and Mull are hiding behind bushes, egging cars. Suddenly, a police cruiser drives by, which they pelt with a few eggs. The cruiser does a little Tokyo drift thing and the cops jump out of the car and pull their pistols. They start unloading a few rounds at Chris and Martin, who run for it, high-fiving one another once they escape the hail of bullets and find a clearing. Absurdist comedy, y’all. Funny as hell.
Unfortunately, the scene isn’t nearly as funny when “Afternoon Delight” is not playing, the thrower of eggs is a 14-year-old kid, and the recipient is a homicidal lunatic. But that’s what happened in Ohio over the weekend. Police are searching for the driver of an SUV, who shot and killed Danny Crawford, who he thought was throwing eggs at him.
The eighth-grade student at Westmoor Middle School was with two other boys, one of whom threw an egg at an SUV … the boy said Danny did not throw the egg.
He said when the SUV stopped, he and Danny fled down an alley …the driver, he said, followed while the third boy ran in another direction.
The boy said the driver stopped the SUV, got out and began to run after them. The boy said while he ran through one back yard, Danny found himself trapped in the alley.
He said when he got to his house, he heard six shots.
Six shots! For one egg? Chris Elliot would not be amused. Uncool, Mr. Homicidal Maniac. Uncool.
The Daily Memo - 12/4/06
Is “assfisting” billed at an hourly rate, or is there a flat fee? (The Legal Reader)
The Supremes have agreed to hear a couple more cases this term, including the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case. (L.A. Times)
The owner of some strip clubs has been tossed in the clink because he hasn’t shut them down yet. (Tennessean.com)
Admit it - you’re curious as hell to find out why Professor Bainbridge is writing about “top/bottom auctions.” (Professor Bainbridge’s Journal)
Maine’s Bureau of Liquor Enforcement is being accused of First Amendment violations and censorship after refusing to allow the sale of “Santa’s Butt Winter Porter.” (CNN)
If you’re a lawyer, make sure you’re up to speed with the now-effective new federal rules regarding electronic discovery. (MassLawBlog.Com)
You too can get sued for hosting the office holiday party! (Slate)
The players’ association for NBA players has filed unfair labor practice charges against the NBA. (ESPN)
I’m a-get them Duke boys!
The former mayor of Appalachia, Virginia (a little town with less than 2,000 residents) is going to the clink. Ben Cooper recently pled guilty to over 200 felony counts of voter fraud. This stems from a 2004 city council election, which Cooper helped rig so that he and a buddy could get elected. It worked, and the city council later elected Cooper as the Mayor (he stepped down this past March, after he was indicted for this whole shebang).
Seven others also pled guilty to helping Cooper with this scam, and seven more still have charges pending.
As for the scam itself, it was one part forgery (they forged absentee ballots) and one part bribery (they offered folks all sorts of goodies, like free smokes, booze, prescription drugs and snacks). Cooper now faces a fine of over $80,000 and up to almost 2 years in the clink (which may not be so bad for him if he kept a stash of those cigarettes he was giving away).
The prosecutor described Cooper “as a mastermind in the mold of Boss Hogg.” Cooper’s attorney, meanwhile, says the “he feels terrible about the whole incident.” One assumes that she finished the quote in her head: “…about the whole incident, particularly the whole getting caught part of it.”
And as for that “getting caught part of it,” that’s the best - Cooper was brought down by a pork rind! This whole thing was exposed by a voter who complained after being offered pork rinds. And actually, if that was the best “snack” Cooper could come up with, there’s no question that he deserves to be thrown into the Big House.
We’re number two! We’re number two!
Apparently it didn’t take that many votes to come in second place over at the Lawsites blog’s tally of top law blogs, what with there only being “about 60 legitimate votes” in total. But thanks to those readers who submitted us and said such lovely things. Particularly that we “define snarky.” That’s a badge of pride for us, man!
And to the first place Slaw, a co-op Canadian blog: watch out, eh, ‘cause we’re gunning for your beady eyes and floppy heads…
The Daily Memo - 12/1/06
“Oh, legal-shmegal…” (GoComics)
Hahahahahahaha…the Federal Election Commission is encouraging politicians to self-report any campaign finance law violations. (Yahoo! News)
A Los Angeles woman is suing Kraft Foods because, allegedly, it doesn’t put enough avocado in its guacamole dips. (Above the Law)
There will be no mistrial in the case where jurors, while sequestered, fooled around by having food fights, playing football and Frisbee, and having men race each other while in high heels. (CNN)
An Oregon lawyer who was wrongly arrested in connection with the 2004 Madrid bombings is getting a $2 million payout from the DOJ. (CNN)
A man who was fired for smoking off-duty is suing his ex-employer. (The Legal Reader)
A Wisconsin appeals court says that a boy can’t sue for gender discrimination for not being allowed to be on the girls’ gymnastics team. (LawInfo)
If Leno didn’t actually file a lawsuit, and just threatened to, some might call it chin music….now that’s a joke!
Judy Brown, a comedy teacher in Los Angeles, has found herself in a bit of a legal snafu. Ms. Brown has published nineteen so-called “joke books,” which contain the jokes and material of various comedians. Her books include such insightful works as “The Funny Pages” and “Joke Soup.” And while she attributes the material in her books, some of the quoted comedians aren’t so pleased. So she’s now being sued by, among others, Jay Leno, Rita Rudner and Jimmy Brogan. They allege that she used her job as a journalist covering the Los Angeles comedy scene to dig up all of the material that she then flipped around and impermissibly used in these books.
Now the fine folks over at TV Squad ask a good question: “Seriously, folks, who the hell is buying ‘joke books’ anyway?” But I think they’re really missing the heart of the issue here - can we really call the words of Leno or Rudner “jokes?”
In fact, shouldn’t anyone who actually purchased these books be the ones suing Judy Brown for false advertising?