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Monthly Archives: May 2007

I am Man! I am Man!

I-Am-Man-1006.jpgOut on Philly, an Indian fella with a tad too much testosterone got his comeuppance this week. Thirumurthy Nakka Boomaiah of Chennai, India was sentenced to 69 days in jail (which he’d already served) for getting fresh with the flight attendants on a London to Philadelphia trip.

Boomaiah was arrested March 21 at Philadelphia International Airport after passengers and crew complained that he had rubbed the legs and genital areas of female passengers and thrown water in the face of a flight attendant who told him to stop. Passengers told authorities that after crew members strapped Boomaiah to his seat, he continued to shout obscenities until the plane landed.

Boomaiah was initially declared incompetent to stand trial because, during his first court appearance, he had to be wrestled to the floor after he started lurching toward a female clerk, shouting “I am Man! I am Man!”

Doctors, however, eventually ruled that he was competent to stand trial after learning that Boomaiah wasn’t crazy, he was just singing the new Burger King Double Whopper song.

Sing it, brother:


I’m Mad as Hell …

network166.jpgDamn — this could set a dangerous precedent. The owners of a Florida restaurant are bringing a lawsuit against the local paper for writing a negative review. The suit was filed last year, and a judge has just decided to allow it to go forward, finding merit in the allegations. The owners of the restaurant, Delmonico Grill, claim that the reviewer, Patricia Smith, presented her opinion as fact (ah — yeah, that’s what reviewers do).

Allegedly, Smith mischaracterized the interior of the restaurant, saying that it has “dimmed lights,” a “dark décor,” and “the chill of arctic air.” The restaurant owners took issue with that, suggesting that Smith insinuated that the restaurant sounded like “a cave.” Smith also wrote that one dish was previously prepared and not heated properly, though the owners claimed that the food was bought only two hours earlier and that “everything is prepared fresh.”

The owners further claim that the review wasn’t like any of the other, positive reviews of the restaurant and claim that Smith’s ed to a dramatic decrease in business, so much so that the owners now have to wait their own tables because they can’t afford a waitstaff.

Oh you poor bastards — you gotta wait your own tables.

Piss off. This lawsuit is pure bunk — unbelievable. You can’t sue a reviewer just because her review differed from everyone else’s. A bunch of idiots gave glowing reviews to The English Patient; that didn’t make it any damn good. I once suggested that the cast of the Jackass films were living out their homoerotic fantasies and I even went so far as to present that as fact. Can I expect the studio to sue me anytime soon?

This is ridiculous — reviewers are tasked with using their critical faculties. If a dish tasted like it was previously prepared and not heated properly, i.e., like shit, then it’s a reviewer’s God-given right, ne responsibility, to say as much. In fact, the very point of a review is to steer customers away from bad restaurants, necessarily decreasing business. If you want a better goddamn review, then make a better goddamn stuffed bell pepper. It’s not freakin’ rocket science, here.

Of course, the absurdity of this lawsuit is compounded by the fact that two similar lawsuits have been filed, one in Pennsylvania (still undecided) and another in Dallas that was dropped after the newspaper agreed to run a second review, which is just critical blasphemy, if you ask me.

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The Daily Memo - 5/31/07

check.jpgMassachusetts is considering legislation to crack down on bad food in schools - banning fatty and sugary foods not just from vending machines, but from bake sales and fund-raisers. (The Boston Herald)

check.jpgA woman has been charged with battery after allegedly biting off a hunk of her son-in-law’s ear. (Local6)

check.jpg“Lawsuits still not so sweet for Splenda.” (43(B)log)

check.jpgBrandy and another injured driver are both suing each other over a fatal freeway accident that happened last December. (FindLaw)

check.jpgLarry Birkhead is being sued by his former paternity lawyer, who claims he didn’t pay all his bills. (CNN)

check.jpgVermont’s Governor has signed a bus idling bill into law, requiring school buses to turn off their engines while parked and waiting on school grounds, to help reduce greenhouse gases. (Burlington Free Press)


Common Sense Lesson #145

daBomb.jpgLet’s say you’re a convicted burglar and a registered sex offender. And let’s also say that you’re on probation from your burglary charge. Finally, let’s posit that you’re scheduled to appear in court because you have allegedly violated that probation.

QuizLaw’s advice is that you turn up for your court appearance. And we suggest - we insist, in fact - that you do not try to get out of your court appearance by calling in a bomb threat to the county courthouse (and to two schools, just to play it safe). Sure, you may get out of your court appearance at that moment, but you’ll still have your day in court. Plus you’ll have a new day in court to face the three counts of making terrorist threats that those fascist prosecutors throw your way.


When I say MADD is mad, I’m suggesting they’re nuts, not angry

madd.jpgLawrence Taylor (who’s not that Lawrence Taylor) over at the DUI Blog has posted a fascinating “insight into the thinking at the top of MADD’s” bureaucracy (MADD is, of course, Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Last week, Taylor took part in a debate with MADD’s CEO, Charles Hurley. At one point, he asked Hurley about “why the [DUI] fatality statistics have remained unchanged for 13 years.” And check this out:

The reason for the continuing fatalities, Mr. Hurley calmly explained, is that defense lawyers are more concerned with their clients’ constitutional rights than with their clients’ victims.

And a recent report MADD filed with the Feds included the following two items as hurdles to DUI reform:

A judiciary that struggles to define itself and maintain its objectivity in the face of aggressive defense attorneys.

An organized DUI defense bar more concerned with “winning a case” than with the carnage on our streets and highways.”

I mean, look - I’m all for MADD’s goal to prevent drunk driving and trying to curb the “carnage on our streets.” No bones about it. But to argue that the problem here is that defense counsel is too concerned with protecting defendants’ constitutional rights is lunacy. I will never understand those who continue to argue that the best way to fix problems in this country is by taking away rights from folks, rights granted and guaranteed by our Constitution (…ahem, President Bush - I’m looking at you here, too). Seriously, MADD, maybe it’s time to update your thinking and look at meaningful ways to attack the problem.

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When Lawyers Attack!

fight.jpgLast spring, Schwebel Baking (an Ohio bakery) was involved in contract negotiations with the Teamsters Local 365, which the bakery’s employees were members of. John Masters (the Teamsters’ attorney) and Stephen Sferra (Schwebel’s attorney) were conducting these negotiations in a hotel conference room and things apparently got a little heated while the two were arguing over pensions. Things got so hot that, according to a lawsuit filed by Masters this week, Sferra beat the crap out of Masters, choking him, punching him and knocking him to the floor.

Last August, Sferra pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct charges relating to this incident, although a former partner of his claims that he’s “a decent gentleman in every sense of the word.” Masters, meanwhile, says that Sferra’s firm has touted its image as a “tough guy” firm, adding:

Sometimes you yell and scream at somebody. But I’ve never seen anyone close to putting their hands on anybody.

I’ve also never seen any lawyer-on-lawyer fights actually get physical (though I’ve seen plenty of shouting matches, and have unfortunately been in a few myself). However, a fellow associate did get so fed up with opposing counsel once that he offered to settle the matter in a boxing ring (and having later gone up against that same opposing counsel, I understand exactly where he was coming from - those guys were insufferable, condescending, obnoxious twits).

(A grateful hat tip to the WSJ Law Blog.)


Sunlight — Now Worth $33 Million

rosie.jpgA legal secretary for the New York City firm of Binder & Binder has sued the firm, claiming that it failed to accommodate her disability. And what, prey tell, was that disability? Seasonal affective disorder, of course, which I understand is another one of those “diseases” invented by the pharmaceutical companies to profit on SAD drugs – you know, like restless leg syndrome. According to Wikipedia, SAD causes people to suffer from depression during certain parts of the year, either summer or winter, and it’s often called the winter blues – or what I call football season. Rosie O’Donnell also suffers from SAD, which might explain a few things.

Anyway, the secretary, Caryl Dontfraid, claims that things started to go sour right after she revealed to her employers that she suffered from the disease. Soon thereafter, the “exemplary employee” was relocated to a different workstation, along with the rest of her department. However, she argued, it wasn’t close enough to a window for her liking. She demanded reasonable accommodation and when the firm refused, she refused to work. Dontfraid was fired later that day.

Naturally, she’s now suing her former employer for $33 million. $33 million! How about that?! Oh, and I should probably mention that her new workstation was three feet away from the window. I’m guessing she arrived at that $33 million figure by ascertaining that every foot away from the window warranted $11 million dollars.

Personally, I might’ve accommodated Ms. Dontfraid in a different manner – I would’ve bought a freakin’ sun lamp and stuck it over her head and grumbled, “Light enough for you, lady,” every time I passed by her desk. Either that, or set up her workstation out on the goddamn sidewalk where there’s plenty of sunlight, as long as you don’t mind sharing your coffee with the homeless folks who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder year round.

Stupid litigious country.

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You Really Can Do Anything with Duct Tape

It looks like it’s not just parents who are buying up the latest in technology — QuizLaw’s newest parental tool. Teenagers have caught the fever, too. Kidnapping has never been easier.

eTape.jpg

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Dr. Death Set Free

hensley.kevorkian.jpgIt’s been a long time since we’ve heard anything from Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the doctor known popularly as Dr. Death. You’ll recall that he helped at least 130 terminal patient kill themselves and, famously, he videotaped one such death which was later broadcast on “60 Minutes.” The man even invented his very own death machine to help hasten the deaths of many of his patients. Dr. Kevorkian, however, was imprisoned a little more than eight years ago after helping a Michigan man end his life.

Now, after all that time, Dr. Kevorkian is finally being released from prison (this Friday, June 1st, to be precise). Unfortunately, he’s ailing — the guy is old (79), and I don’t imagine prison has been a particularly healthy place for him to be. Still, as he leaves prison, he has to look around and wonder if it was all worth it. Eight years later, physician-assisted suicide is still only allowed in one state — Oregon — through a law that has been in effect since 1997. Since that time, only around 30 people a year have taken advantage of the law, asking doctors to prescribe medicine that would end their suffering. Most were very old to begin with, and the majority had terminal cancer.

Kevorkian, though he’s promised not to help anyone else end their lives, is going to continue to fight the good fight — he’ll speak out and try to legalize physician-assisted suicide in more states. The Supreme Court has looked at the issue and, in their 1996 decision, Washington v. Glucksberg, the Supremes held that state laws prohibiting physician assisted suicide did not violate the Constitution. The converse, of course, is that state laws allowing it are not illegal, either — the Supreme Court, in 2006’s Gonzales v. Oregon, upheld the Oregon law, over the Bush administration’s protest. So, for Kevorkian’s war to be won, it’s gotta be done on a state-by-state basis.

For the record, euthanasia is supported by 60 percent of Americans, according to a 2006 Gallup poll. California currently has a bill out there which would allow euthanasia — and though the legislation was defeated in 2006, it has since been reintroduced with broader support. Worldwide, euthanasia is still only legal in Belgium and the Netherlands.

I might also add that in Australia New Zealand, the power company has accidentally gotten in to the euthanasia game.

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The Daily Memo - 5/30/07

check.jpgA fat lady who was let onto a roller coaster, despite being rather too big for it, has sued the amusement park (for $16 million) over her 11-foot fall onto a cable box. (FindLaw)

check.jpgA Wisconsin bar owner has been fined for pouring Coors Light out of a Miller Light tap. (Fox News)

check.jpgIn Utah, you can’t have a vanity license plate that reads “Merlot” or “X,” but you can have a plate holder that reads “Happiness is a Dead Child” - God bless the Mormons. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

check.jpgNew Jersey Governor Corzine is telling folks he “should be dead,” as part of his campaign for folks to use their seat belts, following his April carcrash. (Courier Post)

check.jpgMore on yesterday’s Supreme Ledbetter decision. (SCOTUSblog)

check.jpgTexas lawmakers have approved random steroid testing of high school football players, although the legislation still awaits Governor Perry’s approval (or lack thereof). (FindLaw)


When Judges Attack

gavel.jpgLast week, an Atlanta judge hit a scumbum child molester with a life imprisonment sentence. But then he unloaded on the mother of the two child victims, after she thanked Jesus, railing on her for letting it happen and putting her kids at risk: “You knew what was going on … You are an atrocious mother … You are disgusting.”

Watch for yourself:

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A Florida Exacta

florida.jpgI’ve got two Florida stories for you this morning. Borrowing from horse racing lingo, the place horse would be the story of two Tampa-area siblings. Monika Iverson, 23, and her 18-year-old brother Jeremiah were arrested last Thursday after using their Ford Focus to cut off a school bus dropping off their 16-year-old sister. Jeremiah threatened the bus driver with a brick and, not wanting to be left out of the fun, Monika decided to beat up a cop car when the deputies finally showed up (she kicked out a window and dented a door frame). Nobody knows why they were pissed off at the school bus. My guess - it was just a case of the Florida crazies. (And it should probably go without saying that both are facing quite a few criminal charges.)

But that story was only good enough to come in second - the win, by a good four horse-lengths, goes to William R. Cohen, a Fort Lauderdale attorney. He’s suing a family for at least $15,000, and up to $1 million, after their dog bit his nipple. One million dollars for a nipple bite! Cohen was at a Boca Raton dog park back in March and he alleges that Taz, a 2-year-old terrier, bit a little girl’s puppy and then bit her. He jumped in and grabbed the dog, which is when his nipple got chomped. But the family says that this was just two dogs involved in a minor scrape, and that Cohen should’ve known better than to jump in to grab their terrier. They say that when Cohen was bit, “he was kind of like: ‘Ow. That kind of hurt,’” but that there was no blood and that Cohen didn’t seem to be in bad shape. Cohen says he’s not usually a litigious person, but he wants money for his medical treatment and loss of income, as well as for damages to cover his pain and suffering and “loss of sexual comfort and desire.”


Another Reason to Consider Voting for Barack Obama

His wife is freakin’ hilarious:

Source: Althouse.

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A Political Stinkbomb

poo1.jpgHere, folks, is the First Amendment in action: After two hours of deliberations, a jury returned last week and acquitted acquitted Kathleen Ensz of one misdemeanor count of using a noxious substance. The act? She left a brochure full of shit on the doorstep of her local congressman, U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave’s Greeley (a story we told about before).

Ensz, a Democratic Party activist, never denied committing the act; she just claimed the act was part of her free speech rights, i.e., that the shit was a symbol of what she thought of Musgrave’s politics. “Her only intention of going over there was to make a political statement that Marilyn Musgrave’s politics stink,” her attorney said after the verdict.

The jury, apparently, agreed. Ensz was the first person in that county to ever be prosecuted for leaving dog poop.


Supreme Court Decision Update - Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

pJam.jpgToday’s sole Supreme decision comes in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (PDF of the opinion). Sadly, the case has nothing to do with the Pearl Jam track “Yellow Ledbetter” (although it does give me an excuse to embed a fantastic “Ledbetter”-related YouTube clip at the end of this post).

So Lily Ledbetter worked for Goodyear from 1979 through 1998. For most of that time, salaried employees (like Ledbetter) got raises based on performance evaluations. Ledbetter felt that she was getting shoddy reviews because she was female, and that these reviews were being used to keep her salary down, so she complained about her treatment in 1998 by filing charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and she then sued Goodyear after retiring in November ‘98. Ledbetter claimed, among other things, sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

During the trial, Ledbetter claimed that her supervisors gave her cruddy evaluations because she was a gal and that her raises weren’t as high as they should’ve/would’ve been if she had been given accurate evaluations. As a result, she said that her paychecks were well less than the paychecks of similarly situated males. The jury agreed, awarding her backpay and damages. However, Goodyear appealed and argued that Ledbetter brought her claims too late.

The company said she was time-barred from relying upon any claimed pay discrimination that took place before September 26, 1997, as that date was 180 days before she initially filed with the EEOC (and Title VII essentially establishes this 180-day statute of limitations). Goodyear also claimed that there was no discrimination after that date which would allow her claims to fall within that time period. The Eleventh Circuit agreed, reversing the trial verdict and ruling that a claim of pay discrimination under Title VII must be based on salary decisions that fall within the so-called “EEOC charging period” (that 180-day period before filing with the EEOC). And since the Eleventh said there was no good evidence of discrimination since that September 1997 date, Ledbetter’s claims had no legs.

The Supremes, in a 5-4 split, agreed with the Eleventh. The majority opinion was penned by Justice Alito (and joined by Chief Justice Johnny, the Scalia, and Justices Kennedy and Thomas). Alito notes that the focus must be on the “specific employment practice” at issue. Here, the practice in question is Godyear’s reviews. Ledbetter tried to argue that each time she received a paycheck (which was below what she claimed to be entitled to), this was a separate act of discrimination. She also argued that pre-1998 decisions to deny her a raise should be treated as carrying forward because it led to a buildup of salary disparity. But Alito says this is all bunk. A disparate-treatment claim like Ledbetter’s requires a showing of some employment practice which was done with discriminatory intent. And here, Ledbetter doesn’t claim that there was any intentionally discriminatory action by the company during that 180-day period. She says that any discriminatory conduct happened before, when she was given lousy reviews and lesser pay raises. While there may have been differential treatment within that 180-day period, because of the difference between her paycheck and those of men, she was not able to show any discriminatory intent behind that difference - “Ledbetter’s attempt to take the intent associated with the prior pay decisions and shift it to the 1998 pay decision is unsound.” So Alito says “kiss off.”

Justice Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Breyer. Ginsburg basically disagrees with Alito because she thinks the majority’s system is unfair and lets too many potential discrimination claims fall by the wayside:

Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetter’s case, in small increments; cause to suspect that discrimination is at work develops only over time. Comparative pay information, moreover, is often hidden from the employee’s views…. Pay disparities are thus significantly different from adverse actions “such as termination, failure to promote, … or refusal to hire,” all involving fully communicated discrete acts, “easy to identify” as discriminatory.

So Ginsburg thinks the unlawful practice is the “current payment” of salary based on gender discrimination, warranting relief under Title VII.

But more importantly, here’s that great YouTube video I mentioned:


On their Knees, the War Pigs Crawling

pigs.jpgYou know how the mortgage industry is totally screwing (mostly poor) people these days with their subprime mortgages and their strong-arm tactics, convincing folks with reasonable mortgages to refinance under their awesome flexible 1,089 percent interest rate?

Well, one fella in Oregon is pissed, and he wasn’t going to just lie down and take it, allowing those bastards to come and take his home without leaving them a present. So Shane Lovett, who was terribly distraught about the foreclosure on his house, decided to put three pigs in his house and leave them without food or water. The hope? That they’d trash the place.

And by the looks of the picture above, he seems to have succeeded. Even better: The pigs were rescued and, though they suffered a bit of dehydration, they seem good and ready to destroy another house. Unfortunately, Lovett — who is on the run — faces criminal charges for his actions.


The Daily Memo - 5/29/07

check.jpgBlawg Review #110 is a special Memorial Day edition. (Biker Law Blog)

check.jpgThe British gambling company BETonSPORTS has pled guilty to racketeering charges and is going to help the Feds on its case against other defendants. (CNN)

check.jpgCongressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), a 61-year-old, chased down and caught an 18-year-old guy who pick-pocketed him. (Yahoo! News)

check.jpgTexas is on the verge of having a law banning speeding cameras, and requiring red-light cameras to have nearby warning signs. (Engadget)

check.jpgCrazy Anne Heche is not a fan of her soon-to-be ex-husband (who has the glorious name Coleman Laffoon), as a recent filed declaration says he just “plays pingpong, backgammon and poker and views pornography online.” (CNN)

check.jpgA judge has ruled that any religious text (such as the Koran) can be used for courtroom swearing-ins, not just the Bible. (Fox News)

check.jpgSony has been sued for patent infringement over its Blu-ray discs. (Engadget)


Wait, is this suggesting that lawyers lack creativity, or that we’re money-grubbing whores?

NS-5-28-07.jpg

It’s probably a little from column A and a little from column B.

(From Monday’s “Non Sequitur,” care of GoComics.)


Wouldn’t God, Him/Herself, Count as Prior Art?

godlyPowers.jpgChristopher Anthony Roller, of Minnesota, has filed a rather interesting patent application. Although it was filed in July ‘05, it only just came to my attention via one of the folks over at Fark. Citing to both God and David Copperfield, Roller’s patent application seeks to give him the exclusive right to … ahem … godly powers.

The application’s abstract explains it better than I can, sort of:

Christopher Anthony Roller is a godly entity. “Granters” had been given my powers (acquired my powers) (via God probably). These “granters” have been receiving financial gain from godly powers. These “granters” may be using their powers without morals. Chris Roller wants exclusive right to the ethical use and financial gain in the use of godly powers on planet Earth. The design of godly-products have no constraints, just like any other invention, but the ethnic consideration of it’s use will likely be based on a majority vote of a group, similar to law creation. The commission I require could range from 0-100% of product price, depending on the product’s value and use.

The claims in this patent application read like … well, they read like the ramblings of a crazy man. You can check them out here.

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So You Think You Can Be a QuizLaw Summer Intern?

theIntern.jpgQuizLaw could use some help in the coming summer months, and so Dustin and I decided to turn to our lovely readers. We figured that one of you just might want some of the fame and fortune (note - fortune not included) that comes along with being a QuizLaw contributor. So what’s the skinny, you ask? Read on, and all your questions shall be answered.

Is the position paid? Sadly, there’s no money involved. But that’s not to say there are no benefits. You get the snuggly feeling of doing some good work by contributing content to these Internets tubes. You get to write some posts that might just irk some folks, since we tend to cover some controversial issues now and again, and pissing people off is really its own reward. And you get the serious street cred that comes with being associated with QuizLaw.

What would I have to do? Write some QuizLaw entries, pure and simple. The only “required” writing would be to handle the update blurbs on any remaining Supreme Court decisions that come out over the next month or so. Beyond that, although we may throw a specific topic/assignment your way, you’re otherwise free to write about whatever you’d like. If you’re familiar with QuizLaw, you know the type of thing we typically focus on: humorous legal bits, stupid criminals, Florida (which is just an amalgamation of both “humorous legal bits” and “stupid criminals”), etc. And the occasional “serious substantive” post (in fact, we’d love for our intern to do a bit more on the “serious” side than we usually cover).

Who’s the prime candidate? There is no “prime” or “optimal” candidate. As for what we’re looking for, it doesn’t take much – we’re simple folk. The two main requirements are obviously that you must be a good writer and must have a good sense of humor (and by “good sense of humor” we of course mean “our type of sense of humor!”). You don’t need to be a practicing lawyer (though we welcome any attorneys looking to add a little “legal fun” to their lives) and, in fact, this gig is probably ideal for a law student looking for a little something to do with the summer, something to add to the resume and to help fill the hours between drinking binges.

How much time do you expect me to put in? There’s no set amount of time. Probably on the order of 5-10 hours a week, though it could be more or less, depending on any Supreme decisions that come out over the next month, and on any “special topics” we think need to be covered. And the gig would run through the summer, into late August (or possibly a bit longer if your schedule is accommodating).

How do I apply? Well that’s pretty easy. Just send an e-mail to intern2007(at)quizlaw.com. Include a little about yourself, and a draft blog entry along the lines of something you might see on QuizLaw. Ideally, we’d like to line someone up as soon as possible, so the quicker you get your e-mail in, the better. But there’s no real filing deadline - we’ll likely just take the first person we dig who meets the bill (and if there are enough folks interested, and enough people we like, we might even consider having more than one intern - a full-on summer program, if you will).

And what if I have other questions? Send an e-mail to intern2007(at)quizlaw.com, of course.

Will there be drink outings? Ah, what every summer intern wants to know – what about the booze? Well, if you happen to be in the Boston area, I might just be willing to take you out for drinks one night. And if you live in the Ithaca area, Dustin may consider doing the same (for the first half of the summer, at least). If you’re anywhere else, probably not so much (but you can always consider us to be drinking in spirit with you!).


Of Rosebud and Lawberdasheries

Last Thursday, Jon Stewart gave his spin on the whole debacle that is the fired U.S. attorneys scandal. As for Stewart’s metaphor for what it feels like the Department of Justice is doing to the inside of his head, I feel you Jon, I feel you:


The Daily Memo - 5/28/07

check.jpgThe first increase of federal minimum wage in a decade is coming, as the rate will increase (over the next two years) to $7.25 - which, of course, is still not going to be enough for most folks to make a proper living, but every little bit helps. (WEAU)

check.jpgIf you’re drunk driving and decide to stop for some Micky-D’s, to try to sober, probably best not to go through the drive-through. And definitely best not to fall asleep in the drive-through. (Kansas.com)

check.jpgSodomy is sodomy, apparently, whether you’re drunk or not. (Sui Generis)

check.jpgA feisty 86-year-old man was tossed in the clink after allegedly shooting at two other men competing in a bass tournament, trying to keep them away from his fishing lines. (WSBTV)

check.jpgUpdating a previous story, Carol Burnett’s lawsuit against Fox (over “The Family Guy”) is probably going to be thrown out. (TV Squad)

check.jpgA brief interview with the Regent Law School dean. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgThoughts on some of the proposed amendments to the Supreme Court’s practice rules. (SCOTUSblog)

check.jpgYouTube, and several other video sharing sites, have been sued by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority over video of a car crash on the turnpike. (Physorg)


Dude, Don’t Mess with my Carl’s Jr.

carlsJr.jpgEveryone knows that the best fast-food burgers in Cali come from In-n-Out. But Carl’s Jr. is the clear number two in my book (their Guacamole Bacon Six Dollar Burger is an utter beast, but makes for some mighty fine drunk eats). So I’m a little ticked-off at burger also-ran Jack In The Box for taking it to my Carl’s Jr.

And as it turns out, Carl’s Jr. isn’t particularly thrilled either. Its parent company, CKE Restaurants, Inc., has filed a federal lawsuit against Jack over alleged deceptive advertising. The advertisements in question poke fun at angus beef, which is what Carl’s Jr. uses in its various Six Dollar Burgers (angus, of course, does not refer to a specific section or cut of cow, but to a particular type of cow). One commercial, which we have of course included below, suggests that angus beef comes from a cow’s “business end,” and CKE isn’t laughing:

Customers of Carpenteria-based CKE have actually asked why it charges $6 for a burger made from a cow’s bottom, Chief Executive Andy Puzder said.

Puzder relished the idea of taking on Jack in the Box. “If they want to have a war we will take the gloves off,” he said.

(Hat tip to Overlawyered)

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Happy Memorial Day

flag.jpgSection 6103 of Title V of the United States Code reads, in relevant part:

(a) The following are legal public holidays: … Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.

QuizLaw would just like to take this moment to thank all those who are out there fighting the fight. Political leanings about the war aside, there’s no arguing that we all support our troops (well, except for those nimrods who still try to argue that not supporting the war is part and parcel with not supporting our troops). They’re making the best out of an impossible situation, and we certainly hope that they can all return home safe and sound sooner rather than later.


Are they sure this isn’t Florida?

tx.gifWow, this is just f’ing stupid. In Lubbock, Texas, a sex and lingerie store (Somethin’ Sexy) was raided by four local cops. They confiscated several sex toys which state law says you can’t intend to sell in bulk, with “bulk” being more than six (while the story is unclear on what the toys actually were, references to them being “devices,” and the fact that the store owner says they are very popular, certainly suggests your run-of-the-mill vibrator).

Now if that’s all there was, this story wouldn’t be that bad, since it is a state law and everything (putting aside that this law is pretty stupid, in and of itself, of course). But Somethin’ Sexy’s owner says that Lubbock is taking a hardline approach to enforcing this law, because similar products are sold out in the open in Dallas stores without any problem. Yet his store is in trouble, and it wasn’t even selling them “out in the open” - he kept the “devices” in a closed cabinet and only sold them when folks asked for them (people would know about the products if they elected to receive mailings, but the products were otherwise unadvertised).

The Lubbock Assistant D.A. had this to say about their enforcement of obscenity laws and how the city defines obscenity:

“If they tell them this is a candle put in on the birthday cake this is a novelty if they tell you to use it to enjoy sexual gratification, its no longer a candle on the birthday cake” says Assistant D.A. John Grace.

But we’re still not to the truly bad part of this story. The truly ridiculous part of this story is that the owner of Somethin’ Sexy isn’t the one who was arrested - instead, it was the store’s clerk who was arrested. And, if she’s convicted on these charges, she’ll have to register as a sex offender.

…F’ing puritanical rubes.

(Credit for pointing this story out, as well as for the title of this entry, to reader Kris S. Thanks, Kris!)


The Daily Memo - 5/25/07

check.jpgThe House has approved a bill which would require lobbyists to disclose when they “bundle” campaign donations from multiple sources before handing them off to lawmakers. (Salon)

check.jpgOn Wednesday, the House signed off on legislation approving an investigation into gasoline prices by the FTC. (UPI)

check.jpgStrange things are afoot with regard to the proposed Bar/Bri class-action settlement. (Two entries from the WSJ Law Blog: the first one and the second one)

check.jpgWell look, if you don’t pull over quick enough to get some honey buns, you deserve whatever cutting you get. (The Shreveport Times)

check.jpgDisorderly charges have been dropped against a student who wrote a school essay that talked about a mass murder and necrophilia. (CBS2Chicago)

check.jpgThe Texas Senate has approved a bill that would require strip club patrons to pay a $5 fee which would go to sexual assault-related services. (News8Austin)

check.jpgSenator Kohl, chairman of the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee, doesn’t want the Sirius-XM merger to go through. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)


Some lessons just don’t stick

DUI.jpgKelly Jean Moffitt, a 29-year-old Floridian (where else?), is a special kind of person. The kind of person who likes to drink and drive all the bloody time, continuing to do so despite racking up an unhealthy number of arrests (seven) and convictions (at least five). Actually, strike that - she’s got eight arrests now.

That most recent DUI arrest came Monday night and here’s the reason this is yet another typical only-in-Florida story: she was arrested ten minutes after leaving a court-ordered session where she a panel of DUI victims talked about how drunk driving has impacted their lives. Which of course means she was actually drunk at the panel! Good on you, Lady Moffitt, good on you.

Moffitt says she’s an alcoholic. You think?


Common Sense Lesson #144

wheelB.jpgOut in the town of Caddo, Oklahoma, Kalin Craig Richardson was bored. Well, bored and possibly on a meth bender. So he did what anyone might do to kill some time - he broke into the local movie theater (the Rex 2 - they’ve actually got a theater in Caddo with two screens!). Once inside, he gathered up $800 worth of candy and $2600 worth of tools. “But how to get all this golden loot home,” Richardson wondered to himself.

“Why, steal the theater’s wheelbarrow, natch,” he answered to himself.

Richardson’s plan was foolproof, but for one small detail - he left the wheelbarrow on his front porch. So when the owner of the theater drove by and saw the wheelbarrow, well, an arrest came shortly thereafter (and it didn’t help Richardson’s situation any that the cops found meth and pot in his home).

This should go without saying (but if it could truly go without saying, there wouldn’t be a need for these Common Sense Lessons) - when you steal shit, don’t leave it in your front yard.


Urgent! Urgent! All Points Bulletin! Condom Thieves on the Run. May be Dangerous.

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Source: The Smoking Gun

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The Incredible Exploding Crapper

toiletbowl.jpgBack in my high school days, I was a bit of a vandal (at one point, thanks to the Anarchist Cookbook, I was arrested and charged with two felonies, though — because of my honor-roll status and some influential friends at the Tobacco and Firearms Commission — I was let off fairly easy with some community service), and one of my biggest vandalistic feats was to, er, blow up a toilet bowl in a teacher’s yard. It involved a ten pound bag of fertilizer, some charcoal, a half-a-bottle of lighter fluid, and a flame that shot out of a shitter ten feet high. It was a beautiful site, and one that stank up an entire neighborhood for a full day. Fortunately, I was never caught and, now that the statute of limitations has passed, I’d just like to apologize to my senior English teacher. I was a stupid kid, and you didn’t deserve to be awakened by a flaming bowl in your front lawn. It was decidedly uncool.

Of course, reading this account, I’m hit with a new wave of retroactive guilt, in addition to a small amount of relief, knowing now that such an act potentially could’ve gotten me five years in the clink (or, at least, a year in juvie). Bruce Forest, a 50-year-old man in Connecticut, received a five-year sentence after admitting, under a plea agreement, that he blew up a portable toilet in February of last year (no one was hurt). Of course, this guy blew up several other toilets, and he detonated his explosives — not with a match like I did — with an assault rifle. He, of course, blames pain killers, while I blame simple idiocy.


The Daily Memo - 5/24/07

check.jpgTwo MacBook owners have filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple, claiming deceptive advertising over claims that the laptop’s LCD display can show “millions of colors.” (Business 2.0)

check.jpgCongress is giving consideration to a new government database that employers would have to use to check out the immigration status of all current and potential employees. (News.com)

check.jpgA cat was honored after his undercover role helped in a sting against a fake veterinarian. (CNN)

check.jpgWanna’ read all about the symposium on television Supreme Court arguments? You know you do. (Concurring Opinions)

check.jpgA federal judge has blocked a Texas ordinance that would’ve banned apartment rentals, in a Dallas suburb, to most illegal immigrants. (590 KLBJ)


The New York Post’s Headline Is Better Than Anything I’ve Got: “Base Accusation”

pRose.jpgThree years ago, wee Martin Gonzalez was enjoying himself some Little League. The 12-year-old has just gotten his first hit of the season, and went racing towards first base. As he approached, the first-base coach waved him on, telling him to take second. So Gonzalez kept going and, trying to ensure that he wouldn’t wind up getting out, he decided to slide into second. This was, it turns out, an ill-fated decision. Gonzalez wound up with a host of injuries which took surgery to correct (and his mother claims that he still has scarring and some physical impairment). So, of course, his moms filed a lawsuit earlier this month.

Jean Gonzalez filed her suit against her son’s coach, the local little league association, and its parent organization. She claims that they all - ahem - dropped the ball, by failing to teach her son proper training to avoid or minimize injuries (i.e., base running and sliding skills). Of course, others say that this is a stupid lawsuit, and that injury is just part of the game (and you can count me in that camp):

“I think it’s kind of funny,” Tricia Gregoretti said last week at New Springville’s ball field while watching her 6-year-old-son play. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

QuizLaw tried to ask famed slider Pete Rose for a comment on this story, but he only said: “Three-to-one that the case is dismissed. Come on, you know you want some action on this case.”

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The Mong … in All Her Glory!

firstamendment.jpgOn May 4, Gregory Requa started a 40-day suspension. The senior had been suspended by Kentridge High School because of a YouTube video of one of his teachers. Said teacher, Joyce Mong, didn’t know students had snuck a video camera into her class. These students then surreptitiously filmed her, including stupid conversations between her and some students and some students fooling around behind her back. The video was then edited together and posted on YouTube, where she became known as Mongzilla.

Requa was ultimately suspended because of this video, even though he didn’t make it. Another student told the school that he made it, but claimed that Requa did participate (of course, this kid only ratted Requa out after the school put the hot light on him and said it would give him a less severe punishment). In any event, Requa took the school to court, arguing that this suspension is a violation of his First Amendment rights.

His lawyer, Jeannette Cohen, says that he can’t be held responsible for the video because he didn’t post it (he claims he simply linked to it from his MySpace page). But even if he did post it, she says it was criticizing Mong, and is therefore protected speech.

“What is at stake here is the school district message that if you post things we don’t like,” you will be punished, Cohen said.

The school district lawyer says that the suspension isn’t about the posting of the video. Rather, he claims that Requa was suspended because of the disruption in the actual classroom, a disruption caused by a video being snuck into the classroom and all the kids monkeying around. But he should be careful what he wishes for, because the judge has said that this means that Requa’s suspension can only hold up if it’s established that he was involved in the classroom portion of the shenanigans (as opposed to being involved in any production or posting of the video).

And of course, we have the video in question to share with you. But frankly, it’s quite lame (even by high school standards), although it’s got a pretty solid soundtrack:

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Copyrights, and Beyoooooond!

toystory.jpgFor you copyright geeks out there (and I know there must be many of you), here’s the synopsis for the following video: “Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University provides this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.” I know that law school finals are over for most schools, but man alive, this video would’ve been helpful. I’ve also got the feeling that Professor Faden has a little too much time on his hands and an unhealthy obsession with Disney.


I … I … I Don’t Even Know What To Say …

wrong_kato.jpgI was talking to a buddy of mine the other day, and he asked me what I thought of the television show “An Eye for an Eye,” specifically, how the hell they legally get away with the crap they pull on the show. He said, for instance, that in one case the judge’s punishment was to allow the plaintiff to take a baseball bat to the defendant’s car. Wha? Apparently, it’s like Judge Judy crossed with the WWF, and it’s ample evidence that the devolution of television entertainment is taking the legal system down with it. And of course it stars Kato Kaelin. And the judge’s name is Judge Extreme Akim, who is actually a fairly well known attorney and named partner in the South Carolina law firm Anastopoulo & Clore. Check the video trailer — it’s … unspeakable. Is this on Court TV?

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The Daily Memo - 5/23/07

check.jpgA Congressman had his PB&J snatched by the TSA. (Congressman Tim Ryan’s Blog)

check.jpgDesperate for money, the RIAA has decided to try to kill the federal exemption for radio stations, so it can get performer and record label royalties. (The LA Times)

check.jpgThere’s a paternity battle going on in Missouri with two identical twins each being a likely candidate to earn the title of Father. (ABC News)

check.jpgMicrosoft says it has no immediate plans to sue open-source vendors for allegedly infringing over 230 patents. (ZDNet Asia)

check.jpgFor the first time ever, a law firm (in Australia) has gone public. (Law.com)

check.jpgThe trial over the New York lawyer advertising rules has been canceled. (Sui Generis)


Well that’s one way to get a new trial

punch.jpgLet’s say you’re a criminal defendant on trial for, you know, crime stuff. And let’s further say that things don’t look to be going very well for you. How might you try to get a mistrial declared, so you can start again?

Well if you’re Richard Glawson, you punch a juror!

Glawson was on trial for allegations of a crime spree which culminated with him shooting a cop. And I guess he got angry last week, so he decided to punch a juror. His attorney immediately asked for a mistrial, but this request was denied. So Glawson’s lawyer appealed to the state Supremes. An order from one justice came back down, asking the lower court judge “to ask the remaining jurors if they felt they could remain impartial after watching Glawson hit the elderly juror.” While eleven jurors said they could stay impartial, another four said “no,” so Glawson got his mistrial.

Selection of a whole new jury started yesterday.


A Pennsylvania court loves assholes!

asshole.jpgBack in 2004, Phillip T. Pongracz was participating in an anti-abortion protest outside of a clinic. He was arrested at one point, for allegedly walking the wrong way in a throughway outside of the clinic. So when he saw the clinic’s armed security guard sitting in her car about an hour later, Pongracz let off some steam by repeatedly calling her an “asshole.” He was then arrested and charged with harassment, and was ultimately convicted (his punishment was to do 100 hours of community service and to pay the prosecution costs).

However, Pongracz’s conviction has now been overturned, as a Pennsylvania court ruled that it violated his First Amendment rights. The court said that calling the guard an asshole three times in a 10-second period was “crude and childish,” and likely backed by an intent to harass the guard. However, he was also speaking with a purpose, to retaliate against what he saw as an injustice (his earlier arrest), which makes his speech constitutionally protected. Pongracz’s lawyer was obviously pleased with the result: “Finally, someone recognized the First Amendment. One wonders why anyone would spend any time prosecuting name-calling.”


Somebody Really Didn’t Want his Picture Taken

0517073mug1.jpg
Compliments of The Smoking Gun, this is the mug shot of a very belligerent man who needed a little assistance posing for his mug shot. Apparently, this man — Brian Thomas McCaffrey — was arrested last week after he got drunk and threatened to kill a female acquaintance, calling one of her sons a “girl” and a “faggot” because he “acts like one.”

Well, at least he doesn’t act like a ninny when he’s posing for the camera.

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Jury Duty Blooooows

jurorbadge.gifI’m not sure that it bears discussing, but since this is a legal site, and since I endured the misfortune of jury duty yesterday, I thought I might briefly share my experience. Mostly what I want to say is: This is the downside to voter registration, folks. No freakin’ wonder we have such a low percentage of people registered to vote in this country.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that I didn’t make it past the voir dire stage of the proceedings (voir dire being where potential jurors are questioned so the lawyers can weed out the folks they don’t like), possibly because attorneys are unlikely to choose other lawyers to serve on their juries (while I understand this is an antiquated notion, I seriously wonder how many lawyers actually do end up serving as trial jurors). [I know quite a few lawyers who made it onto juries, actually, despite being the worst kind of obnoxious attorney. —Seth] Still, if anyone wants proof of the inefficiency of our legal system, one need look no further than the jury-selection process. In the case I was assigned to, no fewer than 100 (probably more) comprised the jury pool, of which only 14 were ultimately selected to serve as jurors. At $40 a day, the court system and employers paid at least $4,000 yesterday so that 14 people could be selected for what appeared to be a very simple possession case. That doesn’t even account for administrative fees, the resources absorbed by the prosecutor’s office, and the waste of what will eventually be a three day trial, on top of the one-day voir dire proceedings. All for a possession case, and one in which a co-defendant had already pled out. That’s more than a month’s salary for a teacher, wasted because some dude was caught with drugs in his car.

I might also add that the actual jury questioning process is brutal. Two panels of 16 were questioned for around three hours each, and from those 32 people, the 14 were chosen. This meant that the other 65 or so potential jurors had to sit in a courtroom for around seven agonizing hours, watching attorneys ask banal, exceedingly tedious questions. Is it really necessary, for instance, to question a potential juror for nearly ten minutes about the fact that she had a bicycle stolen when she was a small child? And I wonder, also, are all prosecutors now required to ask potential jurors if they are familiar with HBO’s “The Wire” if a wiretap was involved in a case? And if a cousin’s brother’s cousin twice removed once did some blow, does that really affect one’s ability to weigh the evidence and assess credibility?

The short answer, of course, is probably yes. And while the process was horribly time consuming, excruciatingly dull, and ridiculously expensive, I have to admit that the two attorneys conducting the questioning did a nice job — they managed to select the 14 people, I would guess from their line of questioning, that were the least knowledgeable, least opinionated, and most easily swayed. And you know what? I probably wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, in the end, I was kind of bummed I wasn’t chosen — I would’ve lost three days of my life, but I would’ve left disgruntled, unhappy, and just a little proud to have been able to fulfill my civic duty.

Also, that dude was totally guilty — I could tell just looking at him.


The Daily Memo - 5/22/07

check.jpgA variety of groups (including Viacom, Microsoft, the MPAA and the RIAA) have formed the “Copyright Alliance” to fight the fight against copyright pirates. (Gizmodo)

check.jpgJohn Grisham: “Are [lawyers] really needed?” (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgEeegads - a 33-year-old Nevada woman has been arrested for allegedly exposing herself to a 13-year-old boy (and also making her touch him), and looking at her picture, there’s no question that this poor kid will be scarred for life. (Reno Gazette-Journal

check.jpgA Texas Senate subcommittee has discovered that the vendor of speed cameras used by the police has actually been paying one police officer’s salary. (The Newspaper)

check.jpgRetired Supreme, Sandra Day O’Connor, says that folks are too hard on judges, but also says that the Court needs to stick closer to its precedent. (CNN)

check.jpgPreliminary approval has been given “to the settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought against Random House and author James Frey.” WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgA traveling minister is facing all sorts of bigamy charges, accused of having eight wives. (CBS46)


Don’t Bogart that Buddahfinger

butterF.jpgIn March of last year, Kenneth Affolter found himself in some trouble with the law when DEA agents raided some Northern California warehouses. They found a lot of money, a lot of weed, some weapons, and other related paraphernalia. But they also found some of the products Affolter sold as part of his “Beyond Bomb” product line - candy and soft drinks laced with pot.

Affolter eventually got himself a nice 70-month stint in the clink. But his troubles aren’t over, because he’s now been sued by the Hershey Company, which wants $100,000 from him. Seems that he gave his products “fun” names, playing off of established candy and drink products - products in his “Beyond Bomb” line included Toka-Cola, Puff-a-Mint Patties, Muncy Way and, my personal favorite, Buddafingers. He also, however, had three products playing off of Hershey products: Stoney Rancher, Rasta Reese’s and Keef Kat.

And Hershey doesn’t take kindly to the similar names and packaging, so it sued Affolter for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition. When asked for comment, Affolter allegedly said this lawsuit was totally harshing his mellow, and then asked for someone to pass a Pot Tart.

A big old hat tip to the WSJ Law Blog, and thanks to the Smoking Gun which, as always, comes through with the photos we really care about (here’s one for you, but there are more at the Gun):

potCandy.jpg


Supreme Court Decision Update - Twombly v. Bell Atlantic Corp.

antitrust-744719.jpgTwombly v. Bell Atlantic Corp. (PDF of the Opinion) is a class-action antitrust lawsuit filed against the Baby Bells (the Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers), asserting that the telecommunications companies created a monopoly that prevented others from entering the industry by using similar business practices, such as pricing. The litigants, led by plaintiff William Twombly and including all the other subscribers of local telephone and/or high speed internet service from 1996 to the present, alleged that Bell Atlantic (which is now part of Verizon) and other telecommunication companies didn’t offer sufficient U.S. Federal Communications Commission-mandated assistance to new entrants to the industry, nor did they engage in active competition. “Their actions allegedly included making unfair agreements with the CLECs [competitive local exchange carriers] for access to ILEC networks, providing inferior connections to the networks, overcharging, and billing in ways designed to sabotage the CLECs’ relations with their own customers.” Additionally, the plaintiffs alleged, the ILECs conspired not to compete.

The Supremes disagreed, siding with the Baby Bells in another 7-2 opinion penned by Justice Souter. The central question was “whether the challenged anticompetitive conduct stem[ed] from independent decision or from an agreement, tacit or express.” The Court concluded that the plaintiffs complaint failed to show any sort of tacit or express agreement. “While a showing of parallel ‘business behavior is admissible circumstantial evidence from which’ agreement may be inferred, it falls short of ‘conclusively establish[ing] agreement or…itself constitut[ing] a Sherman Act offense.” In fact, Souter writes, the probable reason that they companies didn’t compete against each other was because they were created prior to the 1996 Telecommunications Act, when this sort of activity was permissible. And thus, “a natural explanation for the noncompetition alleged is that the former Government-sanctioned monopolists were sitting tight, expecting their neighbors to do the same thing,” as per the old rules. Accordingly, Twombly’s complaint was dismissed for failure to state a claim.

In the dissent, Justive Stevens (joined by Ginsberg) asserted that the actions of the Baby Bells was enough to imply a tacit agreement of conspiracy and, at the very least, the plaintiffs should have had a chance to go ahead to the discovery phase of the trial and investigate the issue further.


Supreme Court Decision Update - Los Angeles Count v. Rettele

gal918-7.jpgLos Angeles Count v. Rettele (PDF of the Opinion) is a case more to my speed — one with exciting facts. In the case, deputies of the Los Angeles County police department obtained a warrant to search a particular house, unaware that the suspects had moved out of the residence three months prior. Nevertheless, the coppers busted in and began searching, despite finding that the two suspects — who were in the bed, sleeping at the time — were not even the same race as the suspects (they were white, the suspects were black). Still, the officers — who were briefed that the suspects might have been armed and dangerous — ordered Max Rettele and his girlfriend, at gunpoint, to get out of the bed and didn’t allow them to get dressed for several minutes, despite their vehement protests.

Of course, after a couple of minutes, the officers realized they’d made a mistake. So they apologized profusely, thanked Rettele and his girlfriend for not getting more upset than they did, and left to execute another search warrant, which resulted in the arrests of the suspects they were actually after.

As it turns out, however, Rettele and his girlfriend weren’t as accommodating as the officers had hoped — they brought a section 1983 lawsuit against the department, alleging that the officers violated their Fourth Amendment rights by obtaining a warrant in reckless fashion and conducting an unreasonable search and detention.

The Supremes, in an 8-1 per curiam opinion, concluded that there was no Fourth Amendment violation.

When the deputies ordered respondents from their bed, they had no way of knowing whether the African-American suspects were elsewhere in the house. The presence of some Caucasians in the residence did not eliminate the possibility that the suspects lived there as well. As the deputies stated in their affidavits, it is not uncommon in our society for people of different races to live together. Just as people of different races live and work together, so too might they engage in joint criminal activity. The deputies, who were searching a house where they believed a suspect might be armed, possessed authority to secure the premises before deciding whether to continue with the search.

Stevens and Ginsberg agreed with the court, but wrote separately. Only Justice Souter disagreed, writing that he wouldn’t have granted cert in the first place.

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Supreme Court Decision Update - Winkelman v. Parma City School District

school.jpgWinkelman v. Parma City School District (PDF of the Opinion) is a fairly straightforward IDEA case (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), which provides free appropriate public education (FAPE). The case concerned an autistic kid, Jacob Winkelman, from Ohio, whose parents wanted to sue under IDEA but were effectively barred from doing so because they could not afford a lawyer — they had already spent $30,000 of their own money on legal fees, and one of the parents had even taken a stab at writing legal briefs. The parents objected to the school’s plan, which would’ve put Jacob in public schooling. They wanted to enroll him in private school and wanted the school district to shell out the $56,000 enrollment costs the private school, which specialized in autism, charged.

So, the legal issue here is whether parents are required to hire a lawyer to sue the school district over their child’s special needs. To answer that question, one needs to first decide if IDEA applies only to the child, or if it covers the parents, as well.

Writing for the 7-2 majority, Justice Kennedy said that parents could sue without hiring a lawyer. He concluded that parents do, indeed, have administrative rights under IDEA:

These provisions confirm that IDEA, through its text and structure, creates in parents an independent stake not only in the procedures and costs implicated by this process but also in the substantive decisions to be made. We therefore conclude that IDEA does not differentiate, through isolated references to various procedures and remedies, between the rights accorded to children and the rights accorded to parents.

Scalia, just to be the contrarian, wrote a separate opinion, joining in part in Kennedy’s opinion but dissenting from another part (Thomas joined him — kiss up). Basically, Scalia said that parents do have the right to proceed pro se under IDEA “when they seek reimbursement for private school expenses or redress for violations of their own procedural rights, but not when they seek a judicial determination that their child’s free appropriate public education (or FAPE) is substantively inadequate.” So, in other words, Scalia asserts that IDEA applied to both children and parents, but that FAPE only applies to the child.


Who the hell would fight over a Tommy Tutone song?

tommyTutone.jpgIf the name Tommy Tutone brings anything to your mind at all (and you’re entirely forgiven is you see that name and simply ask “za?”), it surely brings to mind Jenny and her phone number. 1982’s hit “867-5309/Jenny” is one of the quintessential 80’s songs, still showing up on radio “flashback weekends” and the new compilation CDs that seem to come out bi-weekly. Well, that magical phone number has now found its way into a trademark lawsuit.

A Rhode Island plumbing company, Gem Plumbing & Heating, trademarked the phone number two years ago, and began using it in its various local advertisements (which included TV and radio ads spoofing the original song). However, Clockwork Home Services has also been using that 867-5309 (the toll-free version) as its national phone number, which led Gem and Clockwork into a trademark infringement lawsuit.

The first victory in that lawsuit has now come down Gem’s way, as a federal judge ruled that Clockwork could no longer use the number in the New England area. Gem’s president is obviously pleased:

People can’t get the number out of their heads. So if they ever have a plumbing problem, they think of the number, and they think of our company without having to go to the phone book - and that instant recall is a big deal for us.

Tommy Tutone himself, meanwhile, isn’t happy about any of this, and he’d rather neither company used his special little number:

“It’s ridiculous,” said [Tutone], who is working on a new album. “If I wanted to get into it, I could probably take the number away from both of them.”

Well, I’m not so sure about that Tommy. However, what I find more ridiculous is that he’s working on a new album. Seriously? Unless one of the tracks is “Son of 867-5309,” I suspect that interest will be rather, uhm, nonexistent.

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Irony: It’s not Just a River in Egypt

rust-oleum.jpgA California State Senator ran her Toyota Highlander hybrid (good on you) SUV (well, sort of) into another woman’s car on Saturday. Senator Carole Midgen’s mistake led to a three-car smash-up after she apparently missed her exit and attempted to find another means to get back onto the freeway. However, the real reason for the accident was because the senator was speaking on her cell phone at the time.

The irony:

Migden last year voted for a new law that takes effect in July 2008 that will impose a minimum fine of $20 for anyone caught using a cell phone while driving without a headset, ear bud or other technology that frees both hands.


He Got a Bum Rap, See?

hbogart3-66.jpgLast week, the Florida District Court of Appeals sided with the Miami Herald in a case brought against the newspaper by the owners of Funny Cide, a former winning horse of the Kentucky Derby. The case arose out of that Kentucky Derby win in 2003, after which the Herald alleged that the horse’s jockey, Jose Santos, used an electronic device to prod the horse on. The allegation was proven false, and the Herald issued a both a correction and an apology.

Nevertheless, the owners sued, claiming that the false allegation motivated Santos to “over-ride” Funny Cide in an effort to vindicate the horse. As a result, the owners claimed that the horse came in third, instead of first, at the Belmont Stakes (this, after Funny Cide won the Preakness).

Of course, the allegation was silly and proving causation was downright impossible, and justice was dutifully served. But the amusing part of this story comes from the judge’s opinion. Judge Gary Farmer decided that he’d had enough of the standard legal opinion and he wanted to write a shorter, more interesting legal opinion (ironically, he does so by using three pages to introduce why he’s decided to write the opinion as such). Farmer aims to do so, in this opinion, by introducing elements of fiction. Sounds like Judge Farmer is going for some of that shoegum fiction – a little Bogartese:

The horse won the Kentucky Derby. Decisively. Tenth fastest time in Derby history. First jewel in the Crown.

Sure, there was some racket in the press afterwards. The Miami newspaper said it saw something in the jockey’s hand, some illegal electric thing, maybe to spark the horse. Turns out the paper was seeing a fantasy in a shadow and retracted the story. But the noise had already begun. Are we looking at a Triple Crown horse?

Then the horse won the Preakness Stakes. And it’s not even close. Wins by nearly ten lengths. The horse is so far out front, looks like he could make it past the wire and into the barn before they can take the photo. Hardly anyone asked if the horse ran out of gas for the Belmont. Are you kidding? Racing was all stirred up about the Crown. The feedbox noise grew hot.
Was it a dream, or did I hear stories about a guy who read in the paper the horse wins it all by a half? About another guy who said it was no bum steer, it was from a handicapper that’s real sincere? Even about a third guy who knew this is the horse’s time because his father’s jockey’s brother’s a friend?

Whatever. It’s a lock. Two jewels for the Crown. Make room for the third.

Only, wait a minute. Did I hear another story about this one guy who wasn’t so sure? Said it all depends if it rained last night?

Anyway for the rest it’s money in the bank. Everyone makes the horse the winner, so why worry about the race?

The horse did not win the Belmont Stakes. Yeah, he finished in the money, best he could do was show. Third place brings some money but not like a win. And it definitely doesn’t make the Crown. The guys in the stories were wrong

Except maybe the one. It was a sloppy track. You sure it didn’t rain last night?

My suggestion to Judge Farmer: A-plus for effort, but don’t quit your day job.

Hat Tip: The WSJ Law Blog.

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The Daily Memo - 5/21/07

check.jpgJustice Thomas didn’t ask a single question from the bench this whole last term. (Law.com)

check.jpgThe Salvation Army and Greenpeace have settled their lawsuit/battle over their collective shares of a $264-million estate bequeathed to eight different charities. (LA Times)

check.jpgWherefore art thou law in fiction stories? (Professor Bainbridge)

check.jpgA new proposed bill in Massachusetts would ban discrimination against folks based on weight and height (so-called appearance discrimination). (Bostonist)

check.jpgDirecTV is suing Comcast over its advertising claims that its HD images are better than DirecTV’s. (Engadget)

check.jpgThe lady who sued Pizza Hut and a dude who held a door has been awarded over $300K. (Madison County Record)

check.jpgA federal judge has ruled that NASCAR can’t stop Jeff Burton from changing the Cingular logo car on his race car to an AT&T car. (SI)

check.jpgA class-action lawsuit has been filed against Netflix, claiming that its lawsuit against Blockbuster is a violation of antitrust laws because it allegedly obtained it patents via some shenanigans. (Engadget)


Supreme Court Decision Update - Hinck v. U.S.

IRS.jpgIn a unanimous opinion penned by Chief Justice Johnny, Hinck v. U.S. (PDF of the opinion) deals with everyone’s favorite federal agency - the huggable, lovable IRS. Roberts begins his opinion with a very wise statement that most people know by this point: “Bad things happen if you fail to pay federal income taxes when due.” One of those bad things is that you have to pay interest on your past-due taxes. However, the IRS has the discretion to abate interest (that is, “to forgive it, partially or in whole”) if there was some unreasonable error or delay in the IRS letting the taxpayer know about the past-due tax.

Another provision of the Internal Revenue Code says that a taxpayer can obtain judicial review of a decision not to abate the interest (i.e., a decision that the taxpayer must, in fact, pay the accrued interest). The question here is where that judicial review must take place - can it only be done in the Tax Court, or can a taxpayer go before the Court of Federal Claims?

Chief Justice Johnny and the Supremes rule that judicial review of a refusal to abate interest can only take place before the Tax Court - that is, the Tax Court is the exclusive forum. Roberts says that the Supremes’ decision is governed by a “well-established principal” which says that, generally: ” ‘a precisely drawn, detailed statue pre-empts more general remedies.’ ” Plus, the Supremes have previously said that when Congress creates a new specific remedy, where no remedy previously existed, that remedy is generally treated as exclusive. And the remedy in question here (the ability to challenge an abatement decision) “fits the bill” on both counts.

The portion of the Internal Revenue Code in question is “precisely drawn,” because it contains a nice, simple sentence outlining who can seek judicial review, where that must take place, what the standard of review is, etc. And this provision was enacted after federal courts had unanimously said that there was no way to judicially challenge an abatement decision (thus, before Congress enacted this provision, the courts had ruled that there was no such remedy). There were several arguments made in opposition to this conclusion, but Roberts says that they are all “unavailing,” so that’s that.


Supreme Court Decision Update - Office of Senator Mark Dayton v. Hanson

punting.jpgThere are five new Supreme decisions today, which is just a joy for those of us who take time out of our busy days to read and summarize them. Luckily, Office of Senator Mark Dayton v. Hanson (PDF of the opinion) is just the kind of decision we like - short, simple and unanimous. In an 8-0 ruling (Chief Justice Johnny didn’t have anything to do with this decision), the Supremes decided that they didn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case in question, meaning they didn’t have to get to the merits of it at all.

The underlying case involved claims by Brad Hanson, a former employee of Senator Mark Dayton. Dayton was fired back around 2002, and he sued the Senator’s office, claiming violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the American with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Dayton argued that the District Court had jurisdiction over the case under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995. The Senator’s Office moved to dismiss the case on the grounds that the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause granted it immunity from Dayton’s claims (Article I, section 6, clause 1 of the Constitution states that “for any Speech or Debate in either House, [the Senators and Representatives] shall not be questioned in any other place”). The District Court didn’t buy this immunity argument, and denied the motion (and the D.C. Circuit affirmed the denial).

Justice Stevens, who authored the Supremes’ opinion, looks at section 412 of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, which says the Supremes have jurisdiction for direct review “from any interlocutory or final judgment, decree, or order of a court upon the constitutionality of any provision” of the Act. However, says Stevens, neither the District Court nor the appellate court ruled “upon the constitutionality” of anything in the Act - they simply denied a motion to dismiss, and the District Court’s denial of the motion didn’t even include any grounds for the decision. The lower “court’s determination that jurisdiction attaches despite a claim of Speech or Debate Clause immunity is best read as a ruling on the scope of the Act, not its constitutionality.” And there are no “special circumstances” that would give the Supremes a reason to exercise its discretionary certiorari jurisdiction.

In other words, the Supremes are punting on this case.


You know what they say: “It’s a ‘fraternity,’ not a ‘frat’ - I mean, after all, you wouldn’t call your ‘country’ a….”

council.jpgA member of a Nevada chiropractic board has gotten himself into a touch of trouble. Doctor Donald Miner seems to have some anger issues, particularly with women. A member of the state’s chiropractic board, a position he got via appointment by the governor himself, he recently “unleashed one of the most offensive terms a man can direct at a woman.” The news story declines to be “too specific about the word,” simply saying “you all know what it is. It’s a vulgar slur, one that’s only used when a man wants to hurt a woman.”

So at this recent meeting, Doctor Stephanie Youngblood (the board’s president) raised an issue that related to Doctor Miner. He was none-too-pleased about this, and at one point muttered under his breath “what a [you-know-what].” And since there was a microphone right in front of the ever-so-classy Miner, the “[you-know-what]” was caught on tape.

Youngblood says she was “shocked, but not surprised,” because Miner has apparently lost his temper at other meetings (and in an e-mail, he once suggested that she give up her role as president of the board and instead become the “sexytery”). Miner has since submitted his resignation to the governor, so he can now go back to hating women in private, rather than at public meetings.


A Two-Faced Lawyer - Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

twoFace.jpgHere at the QL, we’ve been known to occasionally throw our support behind a legislator running in a state or federal race. And we’ve certainly made our feelings known about some of the presidential candidates who have tossed their hats into the ring for next year’s big election. But we’ve never gotten involved with any city politics.

But that’s changing now, as QuizLaw is dipping its toe into the local politics pool, throwing its weight behind a district attorney candidate.

Sure, it may not matter for much when we’re talking about a fictional election which is nothing more than a promotion for one of next year’s big movies. Nevertheless, QuizLaw is proud to support Harvey Dent for Gotham City district attorney:

dentForDA.jpg

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Congrats, NRA - it’s a boy!

babyGun.jpgHoward David Ludwig, lovingly called “Bubba,” is a 10-month-old little boy in Illinois. He’s probably got a binky, a pacifier, some diapers, maybe some blocks, etc. But he definitely has a gun permit.

Yes, a 10-month-old has been issued a firearm owner’s identification card, after his proud father filed the application and submitted a meager $5 fee:

The card lists the baby’s height (2 feet, 3 inches), weight (20 pounds) and has a scribble where the signature should be.

And while the state police oversee the whole application process, they say their role is just to make sure felons and other specified classes don’t get permits. But since the law doesn’t have an age restriction, there’s nothing they can do about a situation like this.

Nice law, that.

Oh yeah, and it’s a good thing baby Bubba has that permit, since his grandfather gave him a 12-gauge Beretta shotgun.

(And that’s not baby Bubba in the photo - it’s just a random image I found, which seemed to fit the story since, you know, it’s got a baby and a gun.)

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The Daily Memo - 5/18/07

check.jpgParis’ jail sentence was cut in half, to 23 days, because of … her good behavior? (CNN)

check.jpgThe House has approved legislation giving lawyers loan forgiveness (up to $60K) if they do three years of public work as a prosecutor or public defender. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgAnd speaking of lawyers and money, three New York judges have filed a lawsuit trying to get high judicial salaries. (Sui Generis)

check.jpgGoogle got a big win in the copyright lawsuit over its use of thumbnail images in its image search results, although the battle isn’t over yet. (Law.com)

check.jpgNew York’s attorney general has sued Dell, claiming fraud, false advertising and a failure to honor rebates and warranties. (Engadget)

check.jpgThe Tax Court has ruled that California companies which provide the dying with medical marijuana cannot deduct their expenses. (Tax Prof Blog via ATL)

check.jpgMumia Abu-Jamal just had another appeal heard in federal court. (CNN)


More brevity

shakespeare.jpgFollowing up on a post from earlier this week, here are some more stories where a nice little one sentence summary packs more punch than my normal long-winded entries:

Yet another lawyer doing the profession proud - “drowning in a sea of nothingness,” a former Denver attorney was busted stealing money to pay for private jets and strippers.

An Alaska man tried to headbutt his attorney, in the courtroom, after getting convicted of murder.

A brilliant cop
was busted for driving with an open container of beer
when he was found, in his marked cop car chugging down some tasty suds.

The New Jersey Supreme Court
has lightened up
the 20-year-old policy of automatically suspending attorneys busted for doing coke because, after all, they have to push through to get those billable hours.

A man currently in jail because he allegedly attacked a woman with a hammer is pissed off at the unhealthy food he’s being served in the clink: “I am being force-fed meals that will cause a heart attack!”

Congressman are shocked - shocked! - to learn that $21 per week really won’t get you much at the grocery store.


This is so, like, totally bogus!

laLohan.jpgLindsay Lohan got smacked with a lawsuit last week. Giovani Arnold (go ahead, say his first name out loud - it’s fun) is a paparazzi who allegedly got run over by Lindsay’s BMW. The allegations play the story out like this: back in March, Lohan’s car ended up surrounded by paparazzi. One of them (not Arnold) hopped on the hood of her car. The ensuing ruckus caused Arnold to get knocked around, and he was then hit by Lohan’s car when she shifted it into drive.

To Lindsay’s credit, she did apparently get out and check on him before speeding off to whatever eightball was waiting for her at her destination.

In any event, Giovanni has now sued Lindsay and her moms (because the car belonged to Mommy Lohan) over his alleged severe and permanent injuries, claiming negligence and recklessness. Now I’m not a Lindsay defender, by any stretch of the imagination. But it seems to me that maybe, just maybe, the real reckless behavior in this incident is crowding around a car that’s obviously about to drive off.


Well, Of Course a Donkey is the Mascot for the Democratic Party — It All Makes Sense Now

shockjocks-cp-9862794.jpgFirst, there was Imus. Then there was The Dog House with JV and Elvis. And now, of course, Opie & Anthony have been suspended from their satellite radio show, after a guy on their show, Homeless Charlie, made a joke about wanting to rape Condoleeza Rice.

But the best part about this is that Fox News is using the debacle to talk about anal sex on the air and pass it off as news. Oh, those crazy sensationalistic bastards.

Here’s some context: According to the Urban Dictionary, a donkey punch is “A sleazy sex move in which while the guy is taking the girl anally he punches her in the back of the head, making her ass or vagina contract.”

And here is the clip.

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Did You Drink the Orange Soda

Bart%20-%20mooning.jpgA New York woman, Shantae M. Cammack, was arrested on Tuesday for repeatedly revealing her bare ass out the back of her van — flashing both drivers as well as a mother and her kids. Cammack, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge and denied to the police that she was mooning strangers.

The catch — she was wearing no underwear and her pants were around her ankles as she made those repeated denials.

“The officer asked her, ‘What are you doing,’ and she said, ‘I’m just sitting here, minding my own business,’ ” the lieutenant said. “The officer told her they had four witnesses, and her pants weren’t even on when he opened the van’s door.”

Cammack’s repeated denials actually reminds me of this video.


The Daily Memo - 5/17/07

check.jpgBaskin-Robbins settled a lawsuit, to the tune of half-a-million dollars, over allegations that its pints of ice cream were about 4 ounces light. (Consumerist)

check.jpgThe American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) has filed an ethics complaint against our favorite judge, the guy who wants $65 million from his dry cleaners. (Law.com)

check.jpgA British judge seems to be having a little trouble wrapping his head around this whole “web site” business. (Yahoo! News)

check.jpgThe WSJ Law Blog asks about whether it’s ok to copy another lawyer’s complaint… (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpg…and Professor Bainbridge says the more interesting question isn’t copyright concerns, but ethical concerns. (Professor Bainbridge)

check.jpgA judge has ruled that the kid who sued his school after getting in trouble for saying “that’s so gay” isn’t entitled to money. (FindLaw)

check.jpgA battle between three sex offenders ended with a sword … ah, Florida. (SPTimes.com)

check.jpgPossible congrats to the bald eagle, which may be removed from the endangered species list. (Yahoo! News)


I guess Floridians just really love their beers

beer.jpgJames Taylor (not that James Taylor, I don’t think) was in need of some money. So he rolled out to the local grocery store (called Publix … man, it’s weird down there in Florida, with these funky-named grocery stores I’ve never heard of before). There was a Bank of America in the Publix, and he proceeded to quietly rob the joint (he was armed and used the old “slip ‘em a newspaper with a note inside” setup). He then left the bank and the grocery store but, unbeknownst to him, Aldolfo Flores was watching.

Flores saw the shaky newspaper business, and when Taylor left, Flores confirmed with the teller that the bank had just been robbed. So he played the part of good Samaritan and went out to watch what Taylor did next.

What Taylor did was to drive to the other side of the parking lot, change his shirt, and go into Giovanni’s a restaurant. Then he parked himself down and had a beer. The cops showed up soon thereafter, and thanks to Flores, they found Taylor in the Giovanni’s, arresting him and ruining his beer enjoyment. Another witness said:

I’m thoroughly convinced that if this person would not have called, the guy would have been sitting there having a beer, laughing and watching the cops show up and not find him.

And Mr. Taylor seems to be soul mates with another Florida man, Richard Brockman. He drove to his local Sheriff’s Office (at 9 a.m.) so that he could register himself as a felon (stemming from a previous fraud conviction). However, Taylor should’ve taken a breath mint, because he was apparently rip-roaring drunk. The cops found beers in his car (including two empties). Brockman was found to have a 0.148 BAC, and was promptly arrested for drunk driving.

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My new favorite judicial nominee

McCaffey.jpgFrom the ’70s up until a few years ago, my beloved Philadelphia Eagles (and my “never ceasing to torture me and rip my heart out” Phillies) used to play their home games in Veterans Stadium, a concrete monstrosity that had a permanent urine stink. It was a terrible place, yet I was sad to see it get demolished a few years ago - childhood fondness, and all that.

Anyway, at the Eagles games, folks tended to get pretty rowdy, particularly in the notorious 700 level (the highest level of seats, which were as nosebleed as nosebleed can get). I saw quite a few fights, arrests, and tossed beers during my times up there. And it got so bad that the Vet became the first sports complex in the country to have an on-sight court. Folks would get hauled down to the little room, where Judge Seamus P. McCaffey sat on Sundays, and they would be immediately booked, processed, charged and convicted.

Things have settled down at the Iggles’ new home (the Linc - Lincoln Financial Field), and McCaffey’s services haven’t been needed in quite some time now. Which is good for him, as he may find himself quite busy, as he just received the votes needed to become an official nominee to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If the former Philly cop could handle the drunk and bitter Eagles fans he had to deal with, he can surely handle the sober and bitter appellate attorneys who appear before the PA Supremes. Good luck Judge McCaffey - QuizLaw is rooting for you!


Puff, Puff, Give. Puff, Puff, Give.

0515071faustino1.jpgDavid Faustino is getting an awful rap. The poor guy has been eternally typecast as Bud Bundy by the masses, but those of us “in the know” appreciate Bud Bundy’s Faustino’s master thespianship in movies like Puff, Puff, Pass, What’s New Scooby Doo?, Killer Bud, Lunatics Unleashed, and his most recent turn as the coach of a female hockey team, alongside Jon Bon Jovi, in the Oscar-worthy, National Lampoon’s Pucked. I just don’t know why mainstream America can’t move past the whole “Married … with Children,” thing. He’s a classy actor, damnit.

Of course, like most classy actors (Stephen Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, etc.), Bud Bun … er … Faustino is known to partake on occasion — it hones his acting skills, you know? Unfortunately, his drug use got him in trouble over the weekend, when he was arrested for pot possession and disorderly intoxication. He was arrested in Florida, after he was spotted arguing with his ex-wife in the middle of an intersection. Apparently, he even used (gasp!) profanities.

But really, the only interesting tidbit to this story is the mug shot. Dude is hiiiiiiigh. I suspect, however, that it was all just part of his method acting — he was prepping for his role in Puff, Puff, Pass 2. I’m looking forward to the performance, Dave.


Cold Shower Not Necessary

dominatrix44.jpgSo a dominatrix was arrested in Hagerstown, Maryland last week, on charges that stem from a seizure and indictment dating back six years. Her name: Patrician Meehan. During the seizure, the police found, inside her house, an actual dungeon with whips, chains, electronic torture devices, and an actual stockade (cool!).

Anyway, the charges against her were manufacturing marijuana, prostitution, crimes against nature (i.e., consensual sodomy) and my favorite, a misdemeanor: “keeping a bawdy place.” Who knew that “keeping a bawdy place” was a crime?

Anyway, she went under the name Mistress Jesse. And according to her website at the time, Mistress Jesse “loves to control, manipulate and play with submissive men. This is a private home, fully equipped for most kinks and fetishes, can accommodate anything from novice to masochist.” Mistress Jesse charged $275 an hour.

OK — and you’d figure that a woman who would had a dungeon and charged $275 might look a little something like the female pictured above, right? Not so — that’s just a random image I pulled from the web. In fact, this is what Mistress Jesse looked like — and before you click on this picture, just keep these two words in mind: Consensual Sodomy.

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The Daily Memo - 5/16/07

check.jpgGod bless them - “the beer industry is lobbying Congress to support its ‘beer tax rollback’ bill (H.R. 1610) which would cut the federal beer tax in half to its 1951 level.” (Center for Science in the Public Interest)

check.jpgDetroit’s mayor used over eight grand from a community fund to spend a week at a fancy California spa, but he of course claims it was to raise money for a city fund. (freep.com)

check.jpgRutgers University’s Livingston campus class president, and her boy-toy, are suspected for being behind a bunch of dormitory burglaries. (NorthJersey.com)

check.jpgA Memphis judge has been banned from a Florida resort because of his alleged sexual harassment of a resort employee. (The Legal Reader)

check.jpgThis comes as no surprise because the Phillies always lose when it counts - “former Phillies pitcher and lawyer strike out on fees appeal.” (Law.com

check.jpgDavid Faustino has joined the Celebrity Mugshot Club. (TV Squad)

check.jpgA Texas man has been charged with stealing $250,000 worth of Skittles. (CNN)

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Ok, Fred Thompson has to run for president now

fredThompson.jpgThis is truly the intentionally-funniest thing I’ve seen a politician or former politician do in years. And even though Fred Thompson is a fairly conservative Republican, I’d have to give him serious consideration in ‘08 after this.

See, fatso film director Michael Moore is on the publicity circuit, trying to drum up word-of-mouth for next month’s Sicko, his newest documentary (and like Dustin, I also think he’s a great documentarian, and wish he’d just pick his battles a little more carefully, and may not pick them only when they just-so-happen to coincide with a release date). Anyway, he recently penned a letter attacking Fred Thompson for attacking him. According to his letter:

In your May 2, 2007 National Review article, “Paradise Island,” you specifically raised concerns about whether my trip to Cuba with 9/11 heroes, who have suffered serious health problems as a result of their exposure to toxic substances at Ground Zero that have gone untreated was somehow going to support Castro and the Cuban government:

“It always leaves me shaking my head when I read about some big-time actor or director going to Cuba and gushing all over Castro.”

…I was struck by the fact that your concerns … apparently do not extend to your own conduct, as reported in The Weekly Standard’s April 23, 2007 story … [which mentioned] the “box upon box of cigars - Montecristos from Havana” that you have in your office.

Moore questions whether the purchase of these cigars has contributed to Castro’s wealth (and also says, ignorantly, that he’ll leave it up to “the Treasury Department to determine whether [this] violates the trade embargo” - and I say that this is ignorant because Thompson could legally purchase those cigars while he was a Senator, thanks to a nifty little exception in the trade embargo). Anyway, Moore challenged Thompson to a debate about health care, which finally brings me around to why Thompson rules the world.

Yesterday, this video response to Moore’s challenge started popping up everywhere and it’s - well, just watch for yourself:

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Grandmother of the Year

grannyFinger.jpgJune Candelario is a kindly little 62-year-old granny. A former state trooper, she spent the last three years devoting her time to working as a jail counselor. The thing of it is, she was also raising her grandson (who was 10-13 years old during this three year span). What to do with him? What. To. Do. With. Him?

Lock him up in a 4-foot by 3-foot dog kennel, of course!

Candelario pleaded guilty to child abuse charges, and has now been sentenced to three years in the clink (plus a year probation). The boy is now in foster care, and his foster mother said he was afraid to come to the sentencing because he is (unsurprisingly) still afraid of dear old granny. But a sad letter from him was read in court:

I felt like I was in a prison in my home. When I was in the cage, I felt scared and lonely and that I was not loved by my grandma.

Candelario, meanwhile, said: “I meant no harm to my grandson. I love him very much.” She really knows how to show it. What happened to grandmothers taking their grandsons to the movies and buying them candy? That’s how my grandmothers showed their love to me, and I never found myself in fear of them. Jesus….


Is That Massage Oil, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

0427sr-saguar-autosized258.jpgEuch. Ewww. Shudder. Blech. Ech. Blah. Agh. Guh.

Forty-nine year old former professional football player and current substitute teacher and track coach, Tom Porras, set the mood with soft music in his loft. Then he invited a 17-year-old student to his house to watch videos of other people doing the long jump.

Euch. Ewww. Shudder. Blech. Ech. Blah. Agh. Guh.

He then asked if he could give the girl an athletic massage. She said “sure,” knowing that Porras was a personal trainer and believing that such a massage might make her a better athlete. Besides, she reasoned, other students had gone to his home for personal massages.

Euch. Ewww. Shudder. Blech. Ech. Blah. Agh. Guh.

He asked her to change into a two piece. He told her to sit on a massage ball. And then the massage began. He rubbed her shoulders. Then he asked her to roll over on her stomach. Then he fondled her buttocks.

Euch. Ewww. Shudder. Blech. Ech. Blah. Agh. Guh.

Then he kissed her neck, cheeks, and buttocks. He asked her if she had any questions about sex. She said no.

And then he ejaculated on her. He told her it was massage oil.

Euch. Ewww. Shudder. Blech. Ech. Blah. Agh. Guh.

Porras has been charged with sexual indecency and assault.


I Love You so Much I’m Going to Take You behind the Middle School and Get You Pregnant

21650542.jpgAfter struggling in the ratings all season, “30 Rock” was thankfully renewed for a second-season by NBC. And since then, the cast members have been doing everything in their power to ensure higher ratings. First, Alec Baldwin left that voice-mail to his daughter, calling her a fat-little pig and suggesting she sleeps with ugly old men or some such — the timing was perfect, coming right before “30 Rock’s” season finale.

Now, as the summer doldrums approach and quality network television disappears for four months, another “30 Rock” star is determined to keep the show in the headlines. Just this week, Tracy Morgan appeared on a morning radio show out in South Florida, apparently showing up drunk and trying to sleep with the DJ, Yuleika De Castro.

She has since pressed charges, claiming that Morgan touched her inappropriately — rubbing her arms and shoulders and kissing the back of her head. In fact, at one point, Morgan allegedly said he wanted to impregnate De Castro. She said she felt “dirty” and “violated.”

We’re just waiting for Tina Fey to do something personally humiliating and perhaps criminal, and then we’d have a hat trick and “30 Rock” might get a super-early renewal for its third season. And then we’d be guaranteed another season of brilliance, like this exchange:

Tracy Jordan: I’m gonna make you a mix tape. You like Phil Collins?
Jack: I’ve got two ears and a heart, don’t I?

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The Daily Memo - 5/15/07

check.jpgThe trial in a case brought by five orphans against ABC, over an episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” begins today. (Reality Blurred)

check.jpgDang! Paris’ defamation trial has been put on hold. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgAn interesting interview with Major General Jack Rives (and his deputy), the top uniformed lawyer with the Air Force. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgDeputy Attorney General Paul McNulty (Alberto’s number two) announced his resignation yesterday, falling on the sword for Alberto. (ABC7.com)

check.jpgFox sues a website over the it’s-not-even-funny “The O.J. Simpsons” video. (TubeWad)

check.jpgA deposition music video? (Concurring Opinions)

check.jpgThe sweet lawsuit between Splenda and Equal settled on Friday, between the time when the jury reached its verdict and before that verdict was read. (WSJ Law Blog)


Brevity, and all that…

shakespeare.jpgThe wonder, idiocy and yikes-ness of these stories can be so easily summed up in one nice little sentence, that it just doesn’t make sense to waste long entries on each of them. And you get more stories for your punch this way…

A student who got busted for cheating is suing his school, claiming he was entrapped into breaking onto his teacher’s computer to steal test questions.

Police in Andover, Massachusetts are auctioning off, among other things, “bags and bags of women’s underwear.”

A homeless man who was sleeping in a trash dumpster when the trash collectors emptied the dumpster into their truck (and began compacting!) has obtained himself some legal counsel (although I suspect it’s more like the lawyers obtained themselves a plum plaintiff).

Up in Canada, eh, the city of Montreal has been ordered to pay over $27,000 in damages for what has been described “as the bar mitzvah from hell,” an event which involved a drunk city janitor, a pianist who had a heart attack and missing toilet paper.

And finally - a New Jersey man was arrested after leaving his two-year-old son in a car, and spending over nine hours then trying to find the car, possibly confused because of beer intake (you think?), and it was the poor kid’s birthday.


A Stripper Tuesday-Twofer

t_nude2.jpgToday, QuizLaw proudly brings you two stripper stories for the price of one. First, strip clubs down in Houston are getting ready to deal with attempts to regulate and crackdown on their business. New regulations say that “sexually oriented” places can’t be within 1,500 feet of churches, schools, parks or residential areas. So what do clubs currently in those places do? They have their dancers “wear bikinis, or even skimpier opaque coverings,” which then pulls them out of being “sexually oriented.” Of course, the quesiton that the Houston Chronicle asks, which is definately the right question, is whether customers would still go to a former nudie place that now has their ladies covering up? A manager at Centerfolds Adult Entertainment thinks their business will remain “profitable.”

The more interesting story, however, comes out of Seattle, where folks are asking “[f]or an undercover cop in a strip joint, how far is too far? For example, three cops who were recently involved in a strip-club sting have admitted to things which some say might be pushing it a bit too far:

One Seattle cop reported that he grabbed an exotic dancer’s breasts several times as she gyrated in his lap.

Another undid his belt for the dancer grinding against him — allowing her to slide her hand into his pants.

A third paid $100 to a stripper for four lap dances in a row as he tested whether she’d offer sex for money (she didn’t).

An attorney who represents several dancers says that “[t]here’s no legal reason for an officer to purchase multiple dances from the same person if she commits a violation on the first dance…. Otherwise, it would simply be a case of partying on the public dollar.” But, of course, the supervisor of the vice unit says everything is on the up-and-up. The SeatlePI article obviously covers this in much more detail (albeit not as salaciously as some of you may like), and makes for an interesting Tuesday morning read.


Supreme Court Decision Update - Schriro v. Landrigan

Thomas%202001-55.jpg Today’s Supreme Court case, Schriro v. Landrigan (PDF of the Opinion) is pretty straightforward – in fact, despite the fact that I generally disagree with the conservative majority, I’m still not positive why the case even warranted a decision from the Supreme Court, except for the fact that the 9th Circuit often has it’s head up its ass, forcing the Supremes to overturn their decisions. Anyway, here goes:

Jeffrey Landrigan is a messed up dude. In 1982, he was convicted of second-degree murder. In 1986, while serving out his sentence, he stabbed an inmate. Then, he escaped prison and murdered another man. He was convicted of that murder, and during the sentencing hearing, Landrigan’s attorney attempted to present mitigating evidence in the form of testimony from his mother and ex-wife. However, Landrigan asked them not to testify. The district court judge attempted to get Landrigan to change his mind and even tried to get the two women to testify over Landrigan’s objections. They refused. Then, the following took place:

When counsel tried to explain that Landrigan had worked in a legitimate job to provide for his family, Landrigan interrupted and stated “[i]f I wanted this to be heard, I’d have my wife say it.” Landrigan then explained that he was not only working but also “doing robberies supporting my family.” When counsel characterized Landrigan’s first murder as having elements of self-defense, Landrigan interrupted and clarified: “He didn’t grab me. I stabbed him.” Responding to counsel’s statement implying that the prison stabbing involved self-defense because the assaulted inmate knew Landrigan’s first murder victim, Landrigan interrupted to clarify that the inmate was not acquainted with his first victim, but just “a guy I got in an argument with. I stabbed him 14 times. It was lucky he lived.”

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the judge asked Landrigan if he had anything to say. Landrigan made a brief statement that concluded, “I think if you want to give me the death penalty, just bring it right on. I’m ready for it.”

Unsurprisingly, Landrigan got the death penalty. What is surprising, however, is that Landrigan appealed, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel. He complained, of all things, that his lawyer failed to present mitigating evidence. The district court denied his motion, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that Landrigan’s attorney did little to prepare for the sentencing hearing and that if he had done his job, he would’ve discovered a lot of evidence pertaining to Landrigan’s family’s history of drug and alcohol abuse, which should’ve been presented.

The Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit (surprise, surprise), upholding the district court’s decision. In an opinion written by Justice Thomas (and joined by the other conservatives, the Scalia, Kennedy, Alito, and Chief Justice Johnny), the Supremes basically concluded that such matters were up to the district court’s discretion. And, given the evidence here (specifically, Landrigan’s recalcitrance), Landrigan could not show that the district court abused its discretion. The district court’s decision was reasonable, says Thomas, and the 9th Circuit had no business overturning it.

In his dissent, Justice Stevens asserts, as did the 9th Circuit, that Landrigan’s counsel failed to thoroughly investigate the mitigating circumstances, of which there was apparently quite a bit. Stevens then argues that Landrigan’s waiver of his right to present mitigating circumstances was no good because the waiver wasn’t “knowing” and “voluntary.” Indeed, and this is where Steven’s argument does make some sense, the only mitigating circumstances that Landrigan chose not to present was the testimony of his wife and birth mother. However, there were ample amounts of other mitigating evidence (such as an organic brain disorder) that his counsel didn’t even attempt to present. Therefore, Stevens says, Landrigan didn’t really get the chance to waive it. And, unless Landrigan “knew of the most significant mitigation evidence available to him, he could not have made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his constitutional rights.”

Still, it doesn’t change the fact that the man said “bring it on” to the death penalty.

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Another Brick in the Wall …

0510072hs8.jpgNow, if you thought that showing a bunch of 8th graders Brokeback Mountain during class was bad, then get a load of Bruce Smith. Smith teaches history to high-schoolers in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Only, Smith has an unusual lesson plan. According to a lawsuit filed presumably by the parents of one of Smith’s students, Bruce liked to show pictures of female corpses, discuss push-up bras with his female students, and talk about his own exploits, including the time he skipped class to “bang a cheerleader.” In addition, according to The Smoking Gun:

Smith provided students “his sexually explicit Memoirs of a Class President,” which includes passages about oral sex and other raunchy activity. The [plaintiffs] contend that after filing “verbal and written requests” for school brass to address Smith’s classroom behavior, they were “retaliated against” by administrators who disclosed their identity, allowed Smith to “scare victims,” and directed the teacher to contact them at home “to somehow excuse his offensive, sexual conduct.”

Man, this is why teachers are so uncool these days. You show one corpse during class or talk about banging one chick back in high school, and you’ve suddenly got a lawsuit on your hands.


That Brokeback Got Me Good

brokeback_2601_wideweb__470x314%2C0.jpgA Chicago family is suing the city’s board of education after a substitute teacher showed a girl Brokeback Mountain during class. The lawsuit alleges that, as a result of this viewing, 12-year-old Jessica Turner suffered psychological distress. Jessica Turner and her grandparents are seeking $500,000 in damages.

$500,000! Because the 8th-grader was witness to big-screen man love? That’s ridiculous. Granted, the film was rated R and the substitute showed it without parental permission. But, really? Did it really warrant half-a-million dollars of psychological trauma? And what kind of fucked up kid, in the Chicago school system no less, would actually need to attend psychological treatment and counseling after seeing Brokeback Mountain?

Listen, Jessica — that wasn’t counseling. It’s called brainwashing. And if you know what’s good for you, take whatever amount of cash the school system offers and get the hell away from your grandparents. Quick. If you suffer psychological torment that necessitates counseling every time you see two men kiss, well, you may as well just toss yourself out a window now and save us all the trouble.

Unbelievable.

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The Daily Memo - 5/14/07

check.jpgThe NFL Network is planning to appeal a ruling that Comcast is allowed to put the network on a you-gotta-pay-for-it sports tier, separate from the standard digital cable package. (ESPN)

check.jpgBobby Brown is suing Whitney. (Boston Herald)

check.jpgOuch - the company that makes OxyContin pled guilty to charges that it misled regulators, agreeing to pay $600 million in fines. (The New York Times)

check.jpgWashington has passed a law intended to protect stupid people from themselves (and, more importantly, to protect others from said stupid people), as it has banned folks from text messaging while driving. (Network World)

check.jpgForty-five days in the clink ain’t nothing - Paris might want to be concerned with the $10 million defamation trial that’s about to get rolling. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpg“TiVo awarded patent for password that is so hard to guess it will outlive your hard drive.” (Davis Freeberg’s Digital Connection)

check.jpgThe EFF has filed a law-suit against whackjob spoon-bender Uri Geller. (p2pnet)


When Drivers Attack

socks.jpgSo there’s an Alaska man who “is facing a litany of charges after [local] police say he twice hit a pedestrian with whom he’d been arguing Saturday, then spat and flung urine at the officers who arrested him.” Seems that our dear friend was peacefully driving down the street when another car drove him into a ditch. Our friendly driver responded by running into the other car, then hopping out and opening a can of whoop-ass. Cops responded to call about the fistfight and when they showed up, our friend hopped back into his car and led them on a high-speed chase. He was eventually arrested, and showed his frustration by spitting on the cops.

Oh, actually, he probably really showed his frustration more with the whole flinging urine thing. Seems that he pissed himself in the back of the patrol car. And then, at the station he “again wet himself, kicked off his shoes, soaked up the urine with his socks and flung it at the two police officers.”

Eeegads.

You know, this guy is lucky that his car was only ran into a ditch at the beginning of this whole little adventure. After all, he could’ve wound up like a car thief who took a stolen SUV around an exit ramp curve too fast, winding up in a rather awkward position:

hangingSUV.jpg


It May Not be Rape, but It’s Still a Scumbum Move

noMeansNo.jpgThe Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court has unanimously ruled that sex via fraud is not rape. The case stems from a situation where 44-year-old Alvin Suliveres, a helluva guy, tricked his brother’s girlfriend into sleeping with him by pretending to be his brother. The Boston Globe explains what happened:

Duane Suliveres , now 33, was working night shifts, the brief said. At 3 a.m., the woman later told authorities, she was awakened by the sound of the door opening to the dark room and said, “Duane, why are you home so early?” but heard no response. Then, she said, someone she thought was her boyfriend got into bed, removed her clothes, and had sex with her for about 10 minutes.

He got up and opened the door, and she saw that it was Alvin Suliveres, she told authorities.

Alvin was arrested and charged with rape. The case made its way up to MA’s high court, which ruled that this situation doesn’t meet the definition of rape, which is where someone has sex against their will because of force used against them. The Court went on to say that it was up to the Legislature to criminalize sex obtained through fraud, if it wants to do so (and as several other states have already done, in fact).

And two state representatives (both former prosecutors) are already taking the Court’s lead, drafting a bill which would criminalize sex obtained through deceit.

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The Good and the Bad of Senator Brownback

sammyB.jpgAt the end of last week, Senator Sam Brownback (a Kansas Republican) did two things - as this entry’s title suggests, one was good (great, actually). And the other, not so much.

The good, first. Senator Brownback, along with Senator Wyden (D-OR), has introduced the Internet Radio Equality Act of 2007 into the Senate. Back in March, we told you about the terrible decision of the Copyright Royalty Board which would basically neuter all internet radio (the current drop-dead date is July 15). Wyden and Brownback’s bill would put the kibosh on the Board’s decision, overturning the new royalty rate and implementing a flat rate of 7.5% of a site’s total revenues (which is the rate paid by satellite broadcasters). This is a companion to a similar piece of legislation currently pending in the House, and hopefully this new scheme gets through Congress (and gets a Bush signature) before July 15, saving internet radio.

Now Senator Brownback’s “bad” isn’t so much “bad” as it is a serious error in judgment. On Friday, Brownback was giving a talk at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention. He decided, in talking about the need to focus on families, to turn to a football analogy. Now anyone who knows the first thing about football (or who’s just seen There’s Something About Mary) knows that in Wisconsin, “football” equals “Brett Favre.” So Brownback did not earn much love when he compared the focus on families to an offensive line in football:

He said if you didn’t have that line, “how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? … Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history?”

Whoops! Not only do you not say that in Wisconsin, but even ignoring Favre, that’s just not a true statement anyway (Mr. Dan Marino is the best quarterback in NFL history, followed closely by Elway and Unitas, in my humble opinion … and you can take your “Marino doesn’t have any rings” argument and shove it). Brownback tried to save face by referencing former Packer QB Bart Starr, but that didn’t help any, so he gave it one more shot:

Brownback tried again. “Let’s take Favre then … How many passes does he complete without a line?”

From the back one person yelled, “All of them!”

This assessment from the candidate: “I’m not sure how I recover from this.”

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The luck of the Irish, we don’t have

irish.jpgApologies to those of you who noticed that QuizLaw had vanished from the blogosphere yesterday. Seems that someone decided it would be fun to hack onto our server and have their way with it. Good times. As you can see, we’re mostly back up now. Any entries and comments that were added since about mid-day last Tuesday aren’t back online yet, but will be later today.

And just a heads-up - there will be another round of hiccups at some point over the next month. It’s now necessary for us to move web hosts yet again. Not by choice - this hacking incident has made our webhost decide to shut their doors. Which is too bad, as longtime readers may recall that we’ve had to move hosts several times before for various issues and problems with our providers. Things had been running pretty smoothly with this host, and now we gotta’ dip our toe into the waters and again try to find a good host. So apologies in advance for the issues that are going to creep up when we move again (hopefully nothing worse than comments being turned off for a few hours).

Hackers rules.


This is a debacle just waiting to happen

election08.jpgThere are tons of problems with our electoral system. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But a fun new wrinkle is threatening to show its ugly little face, and this just doesn’t sit well at all.

As you know, every state holds its own primary election to help determine the eventual major party candidates for president. And the timing of those primary elections it a hotly contested issue - the earlier states get lots of candidate love, while the states with later elections may not see as much, since the primaries are often settled by the time the vote gets around to them. So in an effort to get around this, some states have been scurrying to push their primary dates earlier and earlier.

Florida (who else?!) is one such state. Its primary has been pushed up to January 29th, from its old date in March. This was done by the Florida legislature, and it has now caused problems with both national parties. The Democrats, in particular, are considering penalizing Florida for violating the schedule set up by the two parties. There are a host of penalties that are possible, but the current one that seems to be getting the most attention is that the Democrat primary in Florida might not count! The party may opt to make the election nonbinding, punishing the Florida Democrat citizens for the action of their state legislators (while the Republican primary votes, meanwhile, would count, unless the Republicans issue a similar penalty):

No delegates would be awarded based on the results and instead party activists and insiders would decide some later date how to divvy up the state’s more than 200 delegates to the Democratic national convention.

This just flabbergasts me. The Democratic party, which cried about votes not being counted in the 2000 election, is now talking about non-binding elections? I mean … I don’t even have the words for this!

…Is it too early to go have a beer?

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Why would you want the credit for this?

nSync.jpgTroy Alexander wants credit for an ‘N Sync song. Alexander claims that he met the former boy band’s label back in 1990 and gave the label a song of his, “Up Against the Wall.” And his song, he says, is “substantially similar” to a track from ‘N Sync’s 2001 Celebrity album. Plagiarism, Alexander says. Plagiarism!

Troy filed his lawsuit in a federal court in Vegas on Monday. The label, Jive Records, says it doesn’t know anything about Alexander’s claim and that it hasn’t been served with the complaint yet.

And the answer to this entry’s title/question is certainly not pride. Rather, it’s gotta be the money, right?


Common Sense Lesson #143

bribery.jpgEarlier this week, San Antonio cops arrested a man wanted on an outstanding warrant. While he was being processed, the man offered to pay the cops $20,000 if they would just let him go (around these parts, we call this bribery, son). But, he explained to the cops, he didn’t exactly have the money on him. “So can I make some phone calls,” he asks. “Sure,” says the cops.

The police took the dude to a nearby Denny’s (!), where he called some chums. Later, a guy and a young gal showed up to the Denny’s, money in tow. And wouldn’t you know it, the Tactical Response Unit was waiting there for them! All three were arrested (or rather, the two newcomers were arrested and our fine feathered friend was re-arrested), and charged with organized crime and conspiracy to bribe a cop.

So today’s lesson - if your friend calls and asks you to bring money so he can bribe some cops, good friend or not, you should probably pass.

Today’s alternate lesson? (And probably the more important one.) Never go to Denny’s!


Good News for Gay Couples

gay-marriage.jpgOn Wednesday, Oregon’s governor (Ted Kulongoski) signed a bill into law recognizing same-sex unions, granting couples who join in such a union most of the benefits afforded to “regular” married folk (another new law he signed bans discrimination based on sexual orientation):

Kulongoski, a strong backer of both measures, said they would “transform our state from one of exclusion to one of complete inclusion.”

The new law for gay couples recognizes their union as a “domestic partnership,” allowing the couples to enter into a contractual relationship. This puts the state in line with six other states that recognize such civil unions or domestic partnerships (Vermont, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, Maine and Washington). And by banning sexual orientation discrimination, Oregon joins 18 other states.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts remains the only state to fully allow gay couples to marry. Eventually, a proposition may show up on state ballots for voters to take a chance at banning gay marriages. However, the state legislature has again decided to put off the fight over that ballot proposition for the moment. It’s only a small reprieve, though, as the vote was only put off until June 14, and the folks over at Bostonist would just like to get things over with:

We oppose adding the ban to the ballot, but this delaying makes us want to yell, “Get it over with!” The collision [and “ugly battle”] is inevitable.

On the bright side, perhaps pro-gay marriage forces will have a little more time to convince eight lawmakers to vote against adding the ban to the ballot. That’s all it would take to turn things around. On the negative side, if a small number of legislators allowed the ban, who’s to say they won’t do it again?


The Daily Memo - 5/11/07

check.jpgLast month, Representative Henry Waxman, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent letters to the head of many federal agencies to find out about White House political shenanigans. (Bad Astronomy Blog)

check.jpgA high school student’s law suit to get a grade changed has been tossed out of court. (The Charleston Gazette)

check.jpgA Tucson, Arizona man has sued the city after it stopped him from burning a Mexican flag in protest of his allegations that the city is in cahoots with illegal immigrant advocates. (WorldNetDaily)

check.jpg“Congress not told of major covert action.” What? The Administration didn’t keep Congress in the loop on things? Shocking. Shocking! (Think Progress)

check.jpgCalifornia legislators killed a bill which would’ve put limits on class actions within the state. (Law.com)

check.jpgThe Academy of Motion Pictures doesn’t seem to think fair use applies to itself, as it’s sued Oscarwatch.com for trademark infringement. (Likelihood of Confusion)

check.jpgQuizLaw story update - the “Life’s Short, Get a Divorce” billboard has been yanked just one week after going up. (Law.com)

check.jpgRudy Giuliani is planning to make it clear that he supports abortion rights, GOP base be damned. (NYT)

check.jpg“By upholding the ban on ‘partial-birth’ abortion, the Supreme Court has injected rigid Catholic teaching into law. That’s a crime against the Constitution and women.” (Salon)

check.jpgThe Tennessee Senate hates fun, approving a ban on motorcycle wheelies. (WMCTV)


You Better Watch What You do with Your Sperm

sperm.jpgThis is a personal tidbit that I have no business sharing, but it’s pertinent to the story I’m about to relay. Back in college, I donated sperm to a lesbian couple, who couldn’t afford artificial insemination — they figured me for a guy with decent genetics (ha!) and I was flattered, so I gave it up in a very hush-hush operation, in which I met them in a hidden-way part of campus, where they gave me “the supplies” I needed. It turned out, the “supplies” amounted to a small jar in a brown paper sack, which I was instructed to “fill” and leave in their mailbox the next morning. They gave the old turkey baster method a shot — unfortunately for them, it didn’t take and I moved away a couple of days later to Boston.

It probably turns out it was for the best, because in Pennsylvania this week, a legal precedent has been established that makes sperm donors potentially responsible for child support payments. There, a lesbian couple had four children, two adopted and two through a sperm donation from Carl Frampton, a longtime friend. The two lesbians — who had undergone a civil ceremony in Vermont — split, and one of the partners ultimately sued Frampton for child support payments.

The court granted the request (though, Frampton died of a stroke a few months ago), noting that Frampton, by holding himself out as a step-parent, obligated himself to the children. Frampton had been present at one of the births and had contributed over $13,000 in various ways over the last four years. So, by being a good person — donating sperm, helping out with costs — Frampton also bought himself the right to pay child support until the children turn 18.

It’s only a matter of time, folks, before people who contribute to sperm banks are ultimately asked to pay for child support.

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Bowling for Controversy

michael-moore-2.jpgDamnit — I wish that Michael Moore had not used up all his cachet by making an ass of himself following the remarkable Fahrenheit 9/11. The guy makes a great documentary, and if he’d just shut the hell up after he released them he might have become a formidable opponent to the right, instead of a goddamn punchline. I like the hell out of Moore, but the man’s got no credibility left with mainstream America.

Anyway, I mention Moore because the U.S. Treasury Department is opening up an investigation on him, looking into possible violations for taking a group of 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for a segment in his upcoming healthcare documentary, Sicko (opening in late June). The United States trade embargo restricts travel to Cuba and while Moore had apparently requested permission to travel to Cuba, no determination had been made on his request before he left.

I don’t think you need to do a lot of investigating, guys — he took them to Cuba to take advantage of their healthcare system, because the American healthcare system did not properly take care of those people. And, of course, the investigation is politically motivated (I understand that lots of people go to Cuba, simply by traveling out of Canada — and they aren’t investigated, are they?).

The move to investigate is an odd one ahead of the release of the documentary, which is set to take on America’s healthcare industry — one scene in the doc, in fact, shows a woman being denied an ambulance ride after a head-on collision because she was not preapproved. The government is basically providing free publicity here, as they did ahead of Fahrenheit 9/11, which went on to become the biggest money-making documentary of all time. If they ultimately prosecute Moore, they’re just martyrizing the guy — and if they throw him in jail, they will completely legitimize him again. So, maybe the investigation is not such a bad thing.

And Moore, who knows how to work controversy, has vowed to place a copy of the film in a safe house outside the country to protect it from government interference. It’s a completely unnecessary move, but by throwing out the idea that the government might sully his film, Moore has bought another $1 million at the box office. Smart guy, that Michael Moore. Let’s just hope he keeps his mouth shut for a while and lets his work do all the talking for him.


The Daily Memo - 5/10/07

check.jpgBush? Disingenuous about something? Naaaaah! (Dorf on Law)

check.jpgA class action antitrust lawsuit has been certified against Comcast over its alleged attempts to setup monopolies in Philly and Chicago. (Law.com)

check.jpgFlorida’s Supreme Court has made a sweeping change to state trial procedure - falling in line with most other US court systems - allowing the state to have the last say to juries in criminal trials. (Law.com)

check.jpgProsecutors are going after eight former Florida prison employees who allegedly abused prisoners, including - ugh - making them clean toilets with their tongues. (MSNBC)

check.jpgGotta love the government - a Wisconsin gas station has gotten in trouble for offering too-low gas prices for the elderly and folks who help out youth sports. (Yahoo! News)

check.jpgThe Austin police were no doubt thrilled when a man included feces with his mailed-in ticket payment. (Post-Bulletin)

check.jpgA Liberian man has been arrested for trying to sell a bag of white paper in a New York hotel, claiming that it was actually $4 million of $100 bills that had been dyed white. (UPI)

check.jpgHow was Thomas’ opinion in the partial-birth abortion case like an episode of “Lost?” (Law.com)

check.jpgTwo boys (ages 8 and 10) have fessed up to breaking into a day care center to steal milk, Popsicles, paper, crayons and Play-Doh. (Breitbart)


Common Sense Lesson #142

pot.jpgIf you simply must grow your own weed, you might not want to do it on land owned by the deputy police chief. Just saying.

That what an unnamed 17-year-old boy (unnamed because he’s a minor) has been busted for doing. The kid lived near a vacant lot recently purchased by the local deputy police chief, whose neighbors told him there was some reefer-growing going on. His deputies confiscated nine potted plants and, while they were there investigating, the found the teenager walking towards the property. The kid fessed up to growing the ganja and now faces charges of illegally cultivating marijuana.

Proof positive that smoking weed messes with your mental facilities. I mean, you’ve gotta’ be high to think growing pot on a cop’s property is a good idea, no?


So now we can’t discriminate against murderers?

oj.jpgLast Friday night (the night before the Kentucky Derby), O.J. went to a steak house in Louisville, Kentucky. The restaurant’s owner, Jeff Ruby, tossed O.J. out on his heiny, refusing to serve him. So here comes Simpson’s lawyer, Yale Galanter, claiming that this was racial discrimination and that he may just have to file a lawsuit:

“He screwed with the wrong guy, he really did,” Galanter told The Associated Press by telephone….

Ruby, meanwhile, says that it has nothing to do with O.J. being black and more to do with him, you know, being a classless murderer:

“I didn’t want to serve him because of my convictions of what he’s done to those families,” Jeff Ruby said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “The way he continues to torture the lives of those families … with his behavior, attitude and conduct.”

Ruby also said that this “was the first time since 1994 [Simpson] has ever shown any class. He showed it that night in the restaurant” when he quietly left.

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Stop raining on our parade!

restroom.jpgA blogging law student who goes to Suffolk is tweaked off that a contracts professor is using the student bathroom instead of availing himself of the faculty bathroom:

I’ve seen that man make water with us plebeians at least twenty times since the beginning of the school year.

The horror!

To be fair, he says that he’d rather get rid of the student/faculty “segregation” all-together, “[b]ut if we’re going to enforce bathroom Apartheid in Suffolkville, then damnit - that man needs to fall in line.”

Sing it, son!


Yet another lawyer doing my chosen profession proud

record.jpgTerry J. Record, a 26-year-old Indiana Department of Health lawyer, has gotten himself into a little bit of trouble. Last October, his car was involved in an accident with another vehicle, and the other driver died. Cops found Record’s Beamer flipped over, and witnesses said the BMW ran a red light. Record wasn’t found at the scene of the crime, however, and he told cops that the car may have been stolen. However, he also told the cops that he had been at a strip club where he had four drinks, but of course claimed he took a cab home.

At the time, Record had just started working for a county prosecutor. He had been there but a week (although he was an intern back in 2005, while still in law school) when he was fired, after his prosecutor bosses questioned him about the incident and found his story to be inconsistent. He’s now been arrested over the accident, facing a preliminary charge of driving a car while drunk and causing a death, and he’s currently sitting in the clink with bond set at $100,000.

What makes this guy extra-special (as if drunkenly driving into someone and killing them wasn’t enough) is this peach of a statement he made to the cops back in October: “I hope the guy has insurance to fix my car.”

It’s that kind of compassion and overall humanity which makes lawyers so loved by the general public.

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Meet John Taylor Bowles — Candidate for President

election08.jpgWith the 2008 Presidential election right around the corner (throat clear), I decided to start doing a little research into potential candidates. Naturally, I like Barack, though he’s still unproven, and I dig Hillary, if only because she’s married to a home-state hero of mine. And, of course, there is Rudy and McCain — I’m not Republican, but if McCain ever returned to the guy he was in 2000, I’d consider him; and Guilianni, at least, is not a president that would finally provide the impetus for me to move to Canada.

But I knew there were other candidates out there vying for my vote, and I wanted to give them a shot. So I started snooping around, checking out the candidate pages. And then I came across John Taylor Bowles’ website. I’d never heard of him, but his campaign web page gave me a nice primer: He was born to patriotic parents in Maryland. He is a “fun-loving father of three daughters.” He’s a union guy, and he used to work for the Department of Agriculture. I’m intrigued. Tell me more.

His campaign platform starts out strong enough — “NO MORE DEBT! NO MORE WORKING LONG HOURS! NO MORE HIGH TAXES! NO MORE HIGH COLLEGE TUITION COSTS!” Well, clearly, he has a thing for all-caps; but that’s not enough, by itself, to disqualify him from getting my vote. Besides, he believes that every American should have “FREE HEALTHCARE, FREE COLLEGE EDUCATION, ZERO INTEREST MORTGAGES, DECENT PAYING JOBS, VERY LOW TAXES, CRIME FREE NEIGHBORHOODS, LOW GASOLINE PRICES, A HEALTHY SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM, AND TO BE ABLE TO HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO ENJOY LIFE!”

Hey — I want to be able to have enough time to enjoy life. I want a zero interest mortgage and crime-free neighborhoods. Bowles — you’re speaking my language. Oh … wait. Oh, shit. Er …what’s that? “HOW CAN THIS BE DONE? STOP WASTING WHITE TAXPAYER DOLLARS ON THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES, NO-WIN WARS, AND FOREIGN AID TO ISRAEL. WHITE TAXPAYER DOLLARS BELONG IN WHITE TAXPAYERS POCKETS!

What’s with all the WHITE, Bowles? You trying to tell me something here? Let’s look at his plan for America: “A sound education for every White child which will teach honesty, morality, and strength of character, and instill a sense of pride in the great heritage and traditions of the White Race.” Huh? Well, what’s your stand on stricter gun control? “I oppose any attempt to disarm law-abiding White citizens. Law abiding White citizens should have the right to carry a concealed firearm for protection from rampant black-on-white crime.” Black-on-white crime? What’s that about health care again? “Free health care for all White citizens.”

Dude — what about the black citizens? Or Hispanic citizens. What would you do for them, if you were President.

The very first thing I would do is sign an emergency Executive Order ordering all non-Whites to be respectfully transferred to their own racial homelands. Non-Whites would be reimbursed for their personal property and real property upon exiting the USA. I don’t believe any non-Whites would want to remain in the USA after this emergency Executive Order went into effect. American Indians would be allowed to remain in the USA on their own reservations and all treaties with them would be respected and honored. Also, non-Whites would be immediately removed from the USA military within 24 hours of being officially sworn in as President.

Oh, sorry I asked … ummm … I think I’m going to … er … Barack Obama for President!

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Look Ma! No hands! (And only one leg)

wiley.jpgLast Tuesday, around 1 p.m., police spoted Frances Wiley, a 40-year-old Florida man, in a suspicious vehicle — a Ford Explorer — at a convenience store. When the officers arrived to investigate, the Explorer took off. A high-speed car chase ensued, with a second police cruiser joining the pursuit:

The Explorer was spotted a minute later on Grand Boulevard … From there it went to River Gulf Road, then south on Washington Street to Massachusetts Avenue. About 1 p.m., the officers broke off the chase because it could have put others in danger … The Explorer was last seen heading south on Grand.

While Wiley got away, an arrest warrant was put out for him for fleeing, suspicion of vehicle theft, and habitually driving with a revoked license.

But wait — if he got away, how did the police know who he was? Oh, I probably should’ve mentioned that Wiley has no arms and only one leg. He’s pretty easy to spot. In fact, this isn’t his first high-speed chase. In 1998, he led officers on a 120 mph high-speed chase in a Corvette. He’s also stolen a car, kicked a police officer, and attacked his wife headfirst.

Oh, and did I mention: Stumpy drives a stick shift. *Hero*

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The Daily Memo - 5/9/07

check.jpgLast week, an Ohio police officer who had been honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving was arrested, and I’ll leave it up to you to take a wild guess at what he was charged with. (Associated Press)

check.jpgWear it loud and wear it proud: “I am a thief - I stole from WalMart.” (CNN)

check.jpgBlawg Review #107 brings back the law school staple of the Socratic Method. (Blawg Review)

check.jpg“Associate pay raises = Salem witch trials.” (Above the Law)

check.jpgThe Austin police were no doubt thrilled when a man included feces with his mailed-in ticket payment. (Post-Bulletin)

check.jpgA Liberian man has been arrested for trying to sell a bag of white paper in a New York hotel, claiming that it was actually $4 million of $100 bills that had been dyed white. (UPI)

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Not guilty? Really?

sawedOff.jpgLeo Lewis, Jr. had been facing charges of allegedly groping a woman who was an old family friend (according to his wife, anyway). He was eventually acquitted of these charges, which led the whole thing into small claims court, as Lewis was seeking attorney’s fees from the woman. There was a hearing over this fees issue on Monday, but things took a rather unpleasant turn.

During the hearing, Lewis stood up and proudly proclaimed to all who would listen: “I should have shot that bitch two years ago.” He then pulled a sawed-off shotgun out of a manila envelope and fired off at the woman. Luckily, his aim was no good and he missed her (and also came close to hitting the judge, but missed as well). Lewis then took off, but was tackled by a courtroom officer and a bystander.

Yesterday, he was arraigned on second-degree attempted murder and weapon possession charges. He pleaded not guilty.

I dunno. When you state out loud that you should have “shot that bitch two years ago” and then proceed to fire off a shotgun in her direction - in a courtroom, mind you - that sorta’ sounds like “guilty” to me.


Matlock would be proud

matlock.jpgLast November, Dustin told you about a dude who changed his name to Andy Griffith and then ran in a local sheriff’s election. He not only lost the election, but the former Mr. William Fenrick found himself stuck in a lawsuit filed by the real Andy Griffith, claiming trademark and copyright infringement, along with invasion of privacy.

Well a federal judge has now ruled that Griffith nee Fenrick didn’t cause any harm to the real Andy Griffith. The judge said there was no trademark violation since Griffith’s name wasn’t being used in connection with commercial activities but “to seek elective office, fundamental First Amendment protected speech.” And the judge he was suspect of the claim that Griffith’s reputation had really been injured by this: “[The] campaign attempted to take advantage of a connection to Sheriff Taylor’s honesty and ethical behavior - hardly connection which would suggest damage to plaintiff’s reputation.”


AutoAdmit’s Owner Gets his Comeuppance

nelson-1024x768.gifI missed this last week, but for those of you following the Autoadmit (xoxoxo) fallout — as you recall, we posted about the WaPo article that started it all, one of the site owner’s defense, and Elizabeth Wurtzel’s take — the latest is that co-owner, Anthony Ciolli, a 3L at Penn, has just had his job offer revoked from Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. (If you don’t want to check the links — Autoadmit is a message board for law students that doubles as a free for all for racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and general bastardry). Ciolli had resigned as “Chief Education Director” about a month ago.

According to WSJ’s Law Blog, Ciolli had this to say: “Three years of legal education has been wasted because of an unmoderated message board. The timing is absolutely horrible … I don’t know what I’m going to do next.” The Law Blog also has a blow-by-blow account of how it went down, with Edward Angell’s managing partner, Charles DeWitt, telling Ciolli, in a letter, “We expect any lawyer affiliated with our firm, when presented with the kind of language exhibited on the message board, to reject it and to disavow any affiliation with it. You, instead, facilitated the expression and publication of such language… . ” adding that Cioli’s resignation was “too late to ameliorate our concerns.”

Ciolli, in a letter dated April 16, recounted the history of AutoAdmit and his joining as education director to “develop educational content and publications” for the site, including a working paper on which law schools place the most graduates at elite law firms, well after the site was founded in 2004. He played down his ability to control content on the site. “While I was free to give input and act in an advisory manner–which I often did, with mixed results–Mr. [Jarret] Cohen always had final say over all rules and policies related to the message board,” and that Cohen “rarely granted” his requests to remove offensive material.

Ciolli added that he was “still in the process of assessing all the lessons to be learned from this incident,” including “the importance of good judgment and proceeding with caution,” values he would appreciate “to a greater extent than a typical first year associate.”

Jill Filipovic, the NYU law student, feminist, and the subject of some pretty vile sexual harassment on the site, posted a long message on her blog sharing her feelings on the matter, including expressing her disappointment that Cioli “seems to be shifting the blame to Jarret — claiming he had no authority over what was posted, etc etc. Frankly, that smells like bullshit to me.” It smells kind of like bullshit to me, as well.

Finally, a Cornell ethics professor, Brad Wendel (who is a pretty damn good prof, I understand) added his perspective, noting that Ciolli might even have a difficult time passing the fitness and character portion of the bar. He writes:

Ciolli’s attitude all along has been “who me? I’m not posting this crap — I’m just providing a forum for the free and unihibited exchange of ideas.” As soon as it became clear that this unihibited exchange had degenerated into a game of who could be the biggest racist, Ciolli had a choice — either continue the site knowing that any value it had as a means of exchanging information about legal education was outweighed by the atmosphere of intimidation that had developed on the site, or take some modest steps to ensure the continued usefulness of the forum. Plenty of on-line discussion boards are moderated or have other ways of ensuring that the worst trolls don’t ruin the forum for everyone else. When Ciolli and his business partner decided not to do anything about the vitriol on the site, they essentially endorsed a particular style of exchange. It’s not unfair for an employer to see that endorsement as evidence that Ciolli doesn’t take racist and misogynistic threats all that seriously.

I’ll just add that Ciolli got off lucky — he exercised horrible judgment, allowed trolls to turn a potentially useful site into a cesspool of hate, and after all of that he still won’t have to bill 2400 hours a year, which might’ve been the ultimate punishment.


“Life’s Short. Get a Divorce.”

life%27sshort.jpg
There’s a new billboard in town, and it’s raising quite a ruckus amongst the legal community, who are appalled that lawyers (lawyers?!) would seek to turn their advertisement into a Nike ad. As you can see, the billboard features a chiseled chest on one side and a massive rack on the other, just beckoning (insisting) that married couples seek a divorce — see, if you get a divorce, the ad seems to say, that woman in the black lingerie will have sex with you! From the article:

“It trivializes divorce and I think it’s absolutely disgusting,” Rick Tivers, a clinical social worker at the Center for Divorce Recovery in Chicago, told ABC News. “Divorce is traumatic enough without this kind of [advertising]. We try and help people go through the divorce process with as much integrity as possible. A lot of my work is helping people grieve the loss of a divorce, and their own sense of betrayal. This makes divorce seem like it’s not a big deal, and it’s a huge deal for many people.”

Another lawyer suggested that the billboard was a “new low” for the profession. Oh, really? A new low? I agree it’s in all sorts of bad taste (though, it is kinda funny), but it’s hardly a “new low.” To accomplish that, the billboard would have to feature nipples that shot actual bullets at passers-by and the six-pack dude would have to step out of the billboard and flood the court system with millions of frivolous lawsuits. In the legal profession, this billboard is child’s play.

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The Daily Memo - 5/8/07

check.jpgThings are exciting in the state of Washington, as its first bestiality trial started up last week (a man is charged with scrumping the family pit bull). (King5)

check.jpgA Kansas registered sex offenders wants reform of the sex offender laws because he says they’re not balanced and aren’t working. (The Kansas City Channel)

check.jpgCongrats to Beth Sholom Synagogue, a Frank Lloyd Wright space-ship-looking place I used to drive by every day - the feds have designated it a National Historic Landmark. (Philly.com, with lots of cool pictures here)

check.jpgMassachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court has bitchslapped a Boston Herald reporter who got a $2 million libel verdict against him over some stories he wrote about a lower court judge. (Blus Mass. Group)

check.jpgUnsurprisingly, sporting goods companies are among those opposing NYC’s new ban on the use of metal baseball bats in high school ball games. (ESPN)

check.jpgSuperlawyer Bert Fields may be on the road to losing the first case of his career, a case over the crappy 2005 movie, Sahara. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgMassachusetts is joining the fight against the national Real ID. (Slashdot)

check.jpgWhy hasn’t R.Kelly gone to trial yet for pissing on little girls? (CNN)


Common Sense Lesson #141

orangeTroll.jpgI love this story. Last Tuesday, a bank was robbed in Scranton, Pennsylvania (home of “The Office’s” Dunder-Mifflin). The FBI was told that the robbery suspect, 24-year-old Mark Dennis, had orange-hair. So the feds made a logical leap-of-faith and started looking in salons. And sure enough, they found Dennis at a salon in Ohio, likely trying to change that stand-out hair color. Said a Philadelphia FBI agent involved with the investigation: “Maybe in a big city you can get away with walking around with orange hair, but in a smaller town you probably stand out.”

So today’s lesson is this - if you’re going to rob a bank (or commit any crime with potential witnesses, for that matter), you might just want to think about covering up any particularly identifying characteristics. Like, say, orange hair.


Law & Order

albrecht.jpgWell yesterday had several TV-related legal stories pop up. First, word came out that CBS has been sued over “The Amazing Race 5,” which filmed back in 2004. The network has been sued by a Tanzanian woman who worked at the Kilimanjaro International Airport and was caught on camera during the show’s taping. The woman has filed suit in the High Court of Tanzania, seeking $2 million for invasion of privacy:

Particulars of the submission include: Taking her photographs without her consent and against her will and amidst her protest; publishing the said photographs without her consent and against her will; and broadcasting the documentary “The Amazing Race” without her consent or knowledge.

CBS, unsurprisingly, says this is bunk. A statement from the network’s attorneys said that the raw footage shows the woman “staring directly into the lens of at least one of the production crew’s very large and visible cameras without any objection and also smiling and acknowledging the camera. She among other things, asked whether she could get a copy of the tape for herself … all of which amount to a very clear implicit consent for the program to tape and use her image.” It’s nice to see that attempts to cash in aren’t limited to the States.

(Speaking of attention whores and undeservedly cashing in , we’ve got an update to yesterday’s story about Paris getting sent to the clink for 45 days. Her attorneys have filed a notice of appeal, hoping to correct this awful awful abuse of the judicial system. We here at QuizLaw wait with bated breath and hope that Paris is freed before it’s too late.)

Meanwhile, Ty Pennington, the terribly annoying host of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” got arrested over the weekend for driving under the influence of drugs and booze. Er, uhm, suspicion of such, rather. The statement Pennington released on Monday pretty much establishes that the suspicion was correct, however, as he acknowledged making “an error in judgment” and that this “was my wake-up call.” Sadly, he did not announce any intention of vanishing from the airwaves (seriously, I find that guy annoying as a rash).

Lastly, HBO’s CEO and chairman Chris Albrecht was also arrested over the weekend, but not for a DUI (that’s his bald headed mugshot up top). Instead, he allegedly beat up his girlfriend outside of Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel following Saturday night’s De La Hoya/Mayweather Jr. boxing match. (I guess he was just inspired by the fight.) While we don’t have a copy of the police report yet, I understand that Albrecht was deemed the loser of the fight by a split decision. Don King is already working on setting up a rematch to take place outside of LA’s Geisha House on November 17 at approximately 2:35 a.m. We’ll keep you posted.

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Your Education Dollars at Work not Working

L44749_Black_Carbon.jpgHow low is this? An Oregon teacher is facing felony charges because she stole a winter coat from an 8-year-old student in her class. Afterwards, the mother of the girl went on eBay to find a replacement coat, and wouldn’t you know — she found a coat “hardly worn and in great shape” identical to her daughter’s and noticed the seller originated from the same city. The mother’s investigation eventually led to the arrest of Elizabeth Logan, who was charged with a computer crime and theft by receiving.

Man — I knew that teacher salaries were bad. But this bad?

It’s a shame she didn’t steal coats from two 9th grade students at Palm Harbor University High, who were each charged with one count of poisoning food or water with the intent to do harm. The two kids are accused of taking apple juice bottles out of a vending machine, pouring out the beverage, and replacing it with their own urine. Another student later purchased the apple juice and drank the piss on his way home on the bus. Those are the kinds of kids who deserve having their jackets stolen, right?


Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘07

hillaryclinton.jpgWhat the hell is it about Hillary Clinton that inspires such loathing in people? Quite frankly, I don’t get it — is it her politics? Or is it because she’s a woman? I think that certain people, especially Southern Republican men, feel threatened by her abrasiveness, by her strong view points, and her take-no-shit attitude.

Maybe that’s what it is for 19-year-old Richard Wargo, a freshman at the University of Louisiana. He’s been arrested and charged with terrorizing, and is now being held on $1 million bail. His crime: He threatened to kill Hillary Clinton.

Wargo told a fellow classmate that he wanted to commit an act of terrorism and asked if the classmate would join him. Clinton is scheduled to appear at the school this week, and Wargo said that his attack would be a “national event.” Then, according to the Smoking Gun, “when Wargo’s classmate told him that an attack on Clinton would make her even more popular, he responded, according to the warrant, ‘True, but have you ever heard of a dead president?’”

But as I say, I just don’t get it - why the Hillary hate? What is it about her that might drive a 19-year-old to assassinate her? It’s that bullshit feminazi stuff that Rush Limbaugh spews, right?


The Daily Memo - 5/7/07

check.jpgThe NRA wants suspected terrorists to be able to buy all the guns they want. (The Huffington Post)

check.jpgMore than 100 federal lawsuits have been filed against retailers over credit card receipts that show too much info (after December 4 of last year, the slips aren’t supposed to show expiration dates or more than the card’s last five digits). (WSJ)

check.jpgThe House has voted to expand hate crimes to include attacks against people because they’re gay. (FindLaw)

check.jpgA lawyer acting like an asshat? That’s shocking! (Law.com)

check.jpgAnother big lawsuit has been filed against Google over alleged YouTube copyright violations. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgFlorida’s legislature has passed a new bill that sets up random drug testing for some high school athletes. (ESPN)

check.jpgSouth Dakota’s DMV is recalling a gal’s “MPEACHW” vanity license plate because someone complained about the political statement. (The Rapid City Journal)

check.jpgChief Justice Johnny says that there are fewer cases being heard by the Supremes because, among other things, Congress hasn’t bothered to pass many important bills. (Law.com)


So you’re saying lawyers and baseball don’t mix?

shakingOff.jpg

(Saturday’s “Non Sequitur,” via GoComics)


“That’s not hot.”

paris3.jpgSince Friday morning, I had pretty much been off-line because I was out celebrating my baby sister’s wedding. So last night, I sat down to catch up with what was going on in the world and I was tickled pink to see repeated headlines about Paris Hilton’s jail sentence. I’m sure you’ve heard about it at this point, but if not, here are the important facts: Paris is going to the clink for 45 days.

I mean, that’s all you really need to know, right?

(If you actually do care about the particulars, this sentence is the result of a probation violation - she got busted driving on a suspended license while on probation from a drunk driving case.)

Hilton’s wonderful mother called this “a joke,” and her lawyer said he was “shocked” and said he would appeal. But for me, this actually reestablishes my faith in our judicial system. More importantly, my agnosticism may be dwindling, because how can you not picture a higher power pulling the stings and giggling behind the scenes of this one?

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A political inquiry I can get behind

piggyBank.jpgThe chairman of the House Education Committee has asked the FTC to investigate student loan lenders and their practices, because they might be deceptive and unfair. Representative George Miller (D, CA) thinks the promotional efforts of the industry, particularly the millions of letters sent out to students every day, “are often intentionally designed to confuse or mislead students.” He goes on to call the practice “predatory lending” and says they use “aggressive scare tactics.”

I’m all for going after student loan industry. Truthfully, I more-or-less knew what I was getting into with these bastards, and I certainly would not have been able to afford to go to law school without their financial aid (or at least, not as good/expensive a school as I went to). But I still curse them out once a month, when I make my ridiculously expensive online payments, and I’ll be continuing to curse them for at least the next ten years.

So while I’m sure nothing will come of any of this, I really just want to see the heads of Sallie Mae and the other big lenders sweat it out a little. I’m petty like that.

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Common Sense Lesson #140

potBrick.jpgOk, QuizLaw doesn’t support drug dealing or drug trafficking. Even of marijuana. It’s illegal. And QuizLaw abides by the law. We have to - it’s in our damn name.

But if you’re going traffic marijuana - let’s say, 180 pounds of it - there are some basic rules to follow to avoid getting caught. One of those rules? Don’t get caught speeding when you’ve got all those bricks of pot in your car.

This is the lesson that a Georgia couple - Marsenna Louise Jenkins and Shelvin White - have learned the hard way. They got pulled over in Baltimore, in a pickup truck, for going 17 mph over the limit on I-95. A drug-sniffing dog went bonkers when it hopped into the pickup’s bed, and the cops found 180 pounds of the sticky stuff hidden in a refrigerator and cabinet being hauled in the back of the truck. The couple is currently being held on a hefty $1 million bond and faces some hefty criminal charges.

So obey the speed limit, people - it’s the law.

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The Daily Memo - 5/4/07

check.jpgWashington state’s Governor signed a bill into law naming the Pacific chorus frog the state’s official amphibian. (Boston.com)

check.jpgSirius and XM have been hit with another patent lawsuit. (Engadget)

check.jpgWhy does Judge Kozinski hate the blogs? What did we ever do to him? (Above the Law)

check.jpgA California man was arrested after allegedly stealing 26 (!) cars in order to see his girlfriend. (SignOnSanDiego.com)

check.jpgA patent lawsuit has been filed over “the recently concluded half-grass, half-clay tennis match between stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.” (ESPN)

check.jpgA trans fat lawsuit filed against KFC has been tossed out, although I don’t think the judge actually said that this case was “for the birds”…but he should’ve. (CNN)

check.jpgIn Jersey, a lawsuit over “rent-to-own” agreements has settle for $109 million but, of course, each plaintiff will likely see less than $1,000. (Law.com)

check.jpgThe son of the mighty former voice of the NFL, John Facenda, can seek damages for the use of pappy’s name in connection with 2006’s Madden. (ESPN)


It’s the Title IX time of year again

track.jpgOver at Sports Illustrated, the great Frank Deford has a very interesting piece about Title IX. This is legislation that was passed back during the Nixon Administration, and its intent was basically to provide for equal opportunities for women in schools, although it’s most well-known for opening up women’s sports at colleges. As Deford puts it:

Basically, Title IX says schools must offer athletic programs in proportion with their gender population.

But Deford says that three decades later, while Title IX does provide for female sports, it’s at the expense of male sports programs. And as the percentage of college students begins to skew towards more women than men, there’s a troubling imbalance that has been created (“this creates the strange situation where James Madison [University] will have a women’s track team, but not a men’s”). And there is now a circular Ouroboros-type effect in play, which is only going to make things worse:

Moreover, because so many American boys devote themselves to sports, starting in grade school, working toward an athletic scholarship, neglecting classroom work, the problem can only increase. That is to say, because more boys concentrate on sports, more girls do better academically, so more women get into college and so there are fewer men’s teams with fewer positions for the boys devoting themselves to sports. Hence, even more girls qualify for college, thus fewer men’s sports and so on and on until eventually only a handful of Renaissance men will be populating the few remaining male sports teams.

Deford outlines his proposed solutions, and one is to have Congress basically exempt football from consideration, both because there is no female-version of the sport, and because it is so much more expensive than every other college sport. But I’d take him one step further - why not get rid of the requirement that the programs have to be in proportion with the gender population? Instead, just say that football is excluded and for all other sports there must be an equal number of male and female programs. And perhaps certain sports should also be specifically named such that, if the school offers that sport, it must offer it on both sides.

For example, you could include basketball, baseball/softball, lacrosse and track and field - if a school has a team in any of these sports, it must have a team for both genders. But for the non-listed sports (such as crew, volleyball, polo, or whatever), the school is free to have teams only of one gender, as long as there is some other team for the other gender, so the numbers balance out.

Seems like a relatively simple setup which would address all of the things raised in Deford’s column. And as an aside, I’m not sure I agree with Deford’s proposal to kill all athletic scholarships except for football and basketball. Yes, there is an inherent inequity in giving money to athletes and not to artists. But why not try to push the schools to offer more scholarships on the art side instead? Maybe a similar requirement that, excluding football and basketball, there has to be a one-to-one ratio between sports scholarships and arts scholarships. The individual scholarships may wind up being of a lesser value, in order to avoid prohibitive costs, but I think the end result would be more valuable to the school and society in the long run.

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A rare non-lawsuit

fnl.jpgA Michigan lawyer, Ronald R. Gilbert, recently filed a notice of claim naming 18 potential defendants, over a high school football injury. During a scrimmage game between to high schools last August, Shykem Lawrence was injured and ended up paralyzed. Last month, Gilbert filed the notice of claim, which is not a lawsuit - rather, it’s something filed to preserve a plaintiff’s right to file a subsequent lawsuit against government entities. The notice of claim states any potential lawsuit would seek $10 million in damages, and indicated that the possible defendants would include both schools, football coaches and school administrators.

Interestingly, however, Skykem’s mother, Nita Lawrence, says she never gave the lawyer permission to file the paperwork. In fact, she actually fired him earlier last month, and has now taken a very surprising and commendable stance in this litigious society of ours:

“We didn’t say we were suing nobody,” Lawrence said. “All we wanted was the insurance company to pay for my son’s medical bills. That’s all we wanted. We don’t want no $10 million. We’re living fine. Whatever the insurance company doesn’t pay, Medicaid pays. We don’t need a lawsuit. Now we’ve got all these people against us and it’s not fair because it’s not true.”

On Monday, after Mrs. Lawrence made these comments, the lawyer said that he had no comment other than a request for the media to leave the Lawrence family alone and to say that “there is no lawsuit pending.” On Tuesday, however, he acknowledged that the family had, in fact, fired him and since hired a new attorney.

As Gilbert wasn’t really the family’s attorney any more at the time he filed the notice of claim, one wonders whether it’s even valid, since he didn’t really have the authority to be acting on the Lawrence’s behalf anymore. In any event, you have to respect the hell out of the Lawrence family’s position (which surely could change between now and when the statute of limitations runs out) to not use Shykem’s injuries as a chance for a big pay day.

Although I have to say that this would surely be a more appropriate lawsuit than many of the other junk that gets filed, as I find it hard to believe that insurance and Medicaid will really cover all of the enormous costs that come with dealing with paralysis.

(Hat tip to Overlawyered.)

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Eddie Murphy’s getting sued…

otay.jpg…but sadly, it’s not by movie viewers seeking to keep him from doing anymore drek. I mean, seriously, the man’s filmography is absolutely littered with garbage. And it’s not about to stop: IMDB has two untitled projects listed for 2008 - Untitled Brett Ratner Project and Untitled Eddie Murphy/Romeo and Juliet Project. I’m pretty sure I’d rather watch a toilet bowl flushing for two hours than see either of these movies (and yes, I’m aware that there probably won’t be much difference between the end product, although the toilet will probably stink less than these movies).

But I have digressed well off the point. Murphy is being sued by Melanie Brown, a.k.a. Scary Spice. You may recall that she is claiming that Murphy is her baby daddy and since he’s not stepping up to the plate and signing the birth certificate, she’s seeking a paternity test.

I don’t know about you, but I for one would rather watch that paternity test being administered than watch those Eddie Murphy movies I mentioned before. …Have I made my point yet?


Incest — Coming Soon to a Nation Near You

incest.jpgThere was an interesting column in the Boston Globe the other day that bears mentioning here, because it concerns a case we wrote up a few weeks ago about a older man who was charged with incest for carrying on a consensual affair with his 22-year-old stepdaughter. The man is appealing, using the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas opinion, as grounds. As you might recall, in Lawrence, the Supreme Court – in a 6-3 decision – said it was unconstitutional to criminalize sodomy within the privacy of one’s home.

At the time, as the column points out, then-Senator Rick Santorum ruffled quite a few feathers when he remarked, after the ruling (and echoing Scalia’s dissent), “If the Supreme Court says you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” (In fact, if I recall correctly, the jackass also equated homosexual sex to fornicating with a dog.)

So it was a pretty insensitive, prick thing to say. But, as the columns suggest, Santorum may not have been entirely wrong. Because it now seems that the next big legal issue is, in fact, incest. Internationally, several people are actually pushing for legalizing incest, on very much the same grounds for which sodomy was legalized in America – people should have the right to do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes. There is another couple in Germany, for instance, who are brother and sister and have four children together. They want Germany’s highest court to abolish incest, arguing that “we’ve done nothing wrong. We are like normal loves. We want to have a family.” The brother even had himself sterilized so that he might not have any more children, which are susceptible to genetic defects. The Globe article also uses as an example another Wisconsin couple who, several years ago, fell in love as adults and had several children together, eventually spending some time in prison as a result.

The Glboe then points out that the Green party in Germany is pushing for the abolishment of incest; that Belgium, Holland, and France already allow it; and that in Sweden, half-siblings are allowed to marry.

So, in a way, is Santorum right? Though the Supreme Court likely will not rule in favor of abolishing incest, the language in Lawrence certainly makes room for it. And if the Supremes don’t abolish it today, how long before these types of relationships begin to multiply, forcing the court to rethink its position? I’m not suggesting it’s likely, but is it possible that there might be a time in our future when incest just might be socially acceptable? After all, Time Magazine is already posing the question of whether incest should be legal — maybe we are already sliding down the slippery slope.

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Trailer Trash

42442.jpgGiven the demographics of our readership here at QuizLaw, it seems unlikely that too many of you have spent a lot of time in trailer parks. From experience, I know that trailer parks aren’t exactly fertile grounds for gang wars or anything, but that doesn’t mean they are no less a cesspool for violence. So, I present to you today a typical example of the trailer park experience – a slice of life, if you will.

The story concerns two South Carolina women, Elizabeth Ann Tillman, 22, and Crystal Lee Walker, 24. The events began a couple of weeks ago, when Tillman’s older brother broke into Crystal’s trailer home and stole her electronic equipment – that probably amounted to a few old VCRs, an 8-track player, and a black-and-white television with rabbit ears that the man probably planned to hock at a pawn shop for $25. Unfortunately, the man never got a chance to pawn them because police pursued him in a high-speed chase after the burglary and the thief ultimately died in a wreck.

From what I can piece together, this resulted in a bit of a feud between Elizabeth and Crystal. Elizabeth was pissed that Crystal was cheating on her boyfriend, though there is no evidence to indicate why Elizabeth would care, unless she was the adultery police. At any rate, the two began leaving nasty notes outside each other’s house, and this went on for over a year.

And from there, things really escalated. Elizabeth went out and bought a pistol, learned to shoot it, and then amassed an arsenal of weaponry that would make Jack Bauer proud: syringes filled with insulin, a filet-knife, a hatchet, a drywall saw, duct tape, latex gloves, scissors, super glue, pepper spray, and bullets. And she put it all in her “murder bag.”

Elizabeth’s plan was to shoot Crystal up with insulin, inducing a diabetic coma, and then torture and kill her with the other supplies. So earlier this week, Elizabeth put her plan into motion, breaking into Crystal’s trailer at 5:30 a.m. by using a library card to force open the front door (and yes, it’s that easy).

Unfortunately for Elizabeth, Crystal woke up and she and her son barricaded themselves in a back bedroom. Elizabeth tried to get in through the door by shooting it down. One bullet managed to get lodged in Crystal’s thigh before Crystal and her son escaped through a bedroom window. Elizabeth then gave chase, shooting at them while they ran.

Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, and Elizabeth has been brought up on charges of attempted murder, burglary, etc.

But here is my absolute favorite part of the ordeal. A neighbor was questioned, and she said she heard about three shots at 5:30 in the morning and woke her son after she heard two more shots. “I heard a lot more than five shots” she said. “But it sounded like it was coming from higher in the trailer park, and sometimes they get to shooting up there. I didn’t think nothing of it.”

“Sometimes they get to shooting up there. I didn’t think nothing of it.”

And that, folks, is the life of a trailer-park resident.

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The Daily Memo - 5/3/07

check.jpgStrippers protesting an anti-lap dancing law. …Sorry guys, no NSFW pictures. (Dayton Daily News)

check.jpgLaw firms are a long ways away from using anything other than the billable hour, but there are some alternative billing arrangements out there. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgA Washington man’s conviction over medical marijuana has been reversed as he was found to be a “qualifying patient,” even though he lacked a proper prescription. (LawInfo)

check.jpgImus is suing CBS Radio for $40 million left on his contract. (CNN)

check.jpgInternet radio stations have bought two more months of freedom before the Copyright Royalty Board’s crippling new rates shut most of them down. (FMQB)

check.jpgThe ex-president of BAR/BRI thinks the current proposed settlement in the antitrust lawsuit against the company doesn’t give enough money to the settlement class of plaintiffs. (Law.com)

check.jpg“A New Judicial Crisis: Judges Falling Asleep.” (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgPeter Jackson has pulled out his lawyers regarding the script for The Lovely Bones he’s currently shopping around Hollywood. (Defamer)

check.jpgDC’s City Council is considering setting up a toll for drivers who want to get into the District. (NBC4)

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This may be one of my favorite laws, ever

duel1.jpgWest Virginia has a great law on the books, from 1849 (before it was even a state!):

If any person fight a duel in this state and in so doing inflict a mortal wound, he shall be deemed guilty of murder.

And sumbitch if someone isn’t being charged under this law. Murder by duel!

Steven Bryant Simpson (a 47-year-old WV man) got into an argument with Dana Martin, his 39-year-old neighbor. Seems the two were verbally fighting over something, possibly about the noise coming from Martin’s all-terrain vehicle. After going back and forth a bit, the two men stormed off, got guns, and came back. Both guns were fired, and Martin was hit and killed.

If Simpson had been a fan of the show that bares his very own surname, he would’ve known that duels are nothing but trouble - Homer got himself into quite a jam when he started challenging folks to duels and messed with the wrong Texan.

…Seriously, is there anything we can’t learn from “The Simpsons?”

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“Can you at least put me in neatly, so I don’t wrinkle?”

dryer.jpgLast December we told you about the wonderful father who put his girlfriend’s kids in the dryer. Well a Houston-area man decided to take that idea and run with it: “Well if you can put some kids in the dryer, why not put your girlfriend in the dryer.”

Last Thursday, local sheriff’s deputies received a call from the relatives of a woman who said they couldn’t reach her. The deputies rolled up to the woman’s apartment only to find her stuffed inside a clothes dryer. Her boyfriend, 27-year-old Adrian Williams, apparently tossed her in the dryer after the two had a fight. He’s now been charged with aggravated kidnapping and the woman, while unresponsive at the time, seems to be doing ok. It’s been rumored, although the reports are unsubstantiated, that the lady shrunk by about 5 inches, however, because Williams set the heat too high.

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Now that’s using your head!

cummings.jpgJoe Cummings is a special kind of drunk. The 36-year-old man is the kind of drunk who likes to put others at risk by drunk driving. But he’s also the kind of drunk who will do harm to himself, if that’s what it takes. So when he was pulled over on Saturday night, after being suspected of DUI, that’s just what he did.

Specifically, those head wounds he got are the result of him bashing his head, repeatedly, into the hood of a cop car. Said a police captain:

He broke free, he bolted and lunged himself head first onto the hood of the squad car and then began to ram his face repeatedly with a great amount of force into the hood.

His wife says that Cummings lost his job earlier in the day. Head-butting a cop car might not be the best thing to do when you’re suddenly in a bad economic situation. Not only does Cummings now have likely medical bills, but he caused over $1,000 worth of damage to the patrol car (!), and you can bet that’s coming out of his pocket too.


Man’s Best Friend — Forever. And Ever. And Ever.

dog1.jpgMan a-freakin-live, folks in Florida aren’t just criminally inclined, some of them are downright creepy. In fact, this week the Florida legislature passed a bill allowing, for the first time, people to be buried with the remains of their pets.

What sort of bizarre lobbyist group got that pushed through? Some sort of weirdo animal rights group with a lot of clout, right? Like, WEPA — Wackjobs for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?

Nope. The answer is Florida State Senator Jeff King, who pushed the law through after he discovered that (gasp!) he couldn’t be buried with the remains of his Labrador. It turns out that he received the pooch as a Valentine’s Gift from his wife several years ago and, now, he just can’t imagine entering the pearly gates without his canine by his side. So, if the Governor signs the law into legislation, people in Florida will forever be able to spend their afterlives with Fido decomposing next to them.

Now, the question is — do they extend the law to allow people to be buried with other animals, ‘cause I know a few guys who’d probably like to enter the great beyond with their horses.

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A QuizLaw Dramatic Reenactment

IMG_0528.jpgHere’s the scene: 58-year-old canoeist Dennis Bohrn and his friends are hanging out on the shores of the Snake River out in Twin Falls, Idaho. They are doing what groups of people usually do on the shores of the mighty Snake — gossiping, playing Truth or Dare, roasting marshmallows, and telling tall tales about the powers of the river (its reputation for wild, white-crested rapids and canoes that capsize, never to be turned upright again).

Suddenly, from a short distance, the group notices a suicide jumper from the corner of their eyes — she leaps from atop a bridge (ahhhhhh), whooshes through the air, hurtles toward the water, and finally splashes into the river, sinking into the murky depths of the fierce and violent Snake. Fueled by the cupfuls of adrenaline coursing through their veins, and without thinking, Bohrne and his pals act quick, jumping into their canoes, and paddling with great force toward the body. Left. Right. Left. Right. In two canoes, they manage to reach the woman and pull her in — heroes! Promptly, they wipe their brows of perspiration and turn their tiny wooden vessels around, paddling against the tide — left, right, left, right — and bringing the woman to shore.

Sadly, it’s too late. The Mighty Snake has taken another casualty. The jumper had accomplished her goal — to snuff out her life.

Borhrn and his buddies are crestfallen. Here they lie with a dead body, mourning the loss. They are despondent. Heartsick. Achy. Wondering, perhaps, if there was anything they could’ve done to save this poor woman’s life. They are grieving. Some are even weeping. Bawling. Slamming fists. “Why! Why! Why!” Tears stream down their cheeks like the Snake slivers downstream — with vigor and might and a deathly hiss.

Two police officers approach them. One, a female deputy with common sense and a bit of tact, bends down and consoles the group. She puts an arm around a female canoeist. Whispers comforting words: “There, there. You did the best you could. You are heroes. Sometimes, it’s just not in the cards. It was just her time. You don’t worry a bit.”

However, the other officer — a menacing, by-the-books sergeant with a chip on his shoulder and an angry black pen in his shirt pocket with a cap begging to be set free — eyes the group of canoeists. He glares, curling his upper lip, forming a devilish sneer. And then, with sinister delight, the sergeant delivers the following words with the gravely tone of Dirty Harry standing atop the Golden Gate with a pistol trained at his prey:

“I see you don’t have any life jackets so I am going to give you a citation.”

Unbelievable.

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The Daily Memo - 5/2/07

check.jpgThe House gave a big thumbs-up to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which would make it illegal for employers to use genetic information in making hiring decisions. (Engadget)

check.jpg“Silence is about the only right the Guantanamo prisoners have left.” (Slate)

check.jpg“Vonage sees a lifeline in Supreme’s KSR Ruling.” (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgA Houston man has been sentenced to four years in the clink for administering over 1,000 fake flu vaccinations. (The Houston Chronicle

check.jpgGoogle has filed its official response to Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit, and it basically adds up to “get bent, tax man!” (Download Squad)

check.jpgThe NFL Players Association has countersued the six players trying to get money out of the union and the league after getting fleeced in a fraudulent investing scheme. (SI)


Supreme Court Decision Update - United Haulers Association, Inc. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority

trashTruck.jpgSorry for being so late on getting an update on the last of Monday’s Supreme Court decisions - these things happen. Anyway, United Haulers Association, Inc. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority (PDF of the opinion) is about trash. In a 6-3 decision, the Supremes said that local governments can require trash haulers to deliver trash to local municipal facilities, despite it being cheaper (for the haulers) to take the trash to other facilities for processing.

This case is basically about the dormant commerce clause, so it’s worth a quick mention as to what that is. The Constitution has a Commerce Clause, which says that Congress has the power to control and regulate anything affecting interstate commerce. The dormant commerce clause come from Supreme decisions and basically says that the result of the Commerce Clause is that states cannot pass legislation which interferes with or places improper burdens on interstate commerce (as Chief Justice Johnny puts it, there is “an implicit restraint on state authority” that comes out of the Commerce Clause). Whether this dormant commerce clause should really be relied upon in case law and if so, to what extent, has been a contested issue for quite some time.

This case was ultimately a dormant commerce clause case, as the trash haulers said they could save money by going out-of-state, so they argued that these upstate New York ordinances were placing a burden on interstate commerce, in violation of the dormant commerce clause. In a majority opinion written mostly by Chief Justice Johnny (there was one section of his opinion that didn’t quite get the votes it needed), the Supremes said the dormant commerce clause didn’t come into play here. The question is “whether [a law] discriminates on its face against interstate commerce,” with “discrimination” being “differential treatment of in-state and out-of-state economic interests that benefits the former and burdens the latter.” And there is no such discrimination here, says C.J. Johnny, because the local ordinances treat private in-state businesses exactly the same as out-of-state businesses, requiring all of them to use the local public facilities. In fact, he says, the only real burden created by these ordinances is that trash removal costs will be higher and that burden will actually fall on the local citizenry, the very same folks who mostly voted for the ordinances in the first place.

The Scalia and Justice Thomas each filed opinions concurring in part. The Scalia agrees with most of Chief Justice Johnny’s opinion, but wants to “reaffirm my view that ‘the so-called ‘negative’ Commerce Clause is an unjustified judicial invention, not to be expanded beyond its existing domain.” That is, he thinks the Court needs to stop relying on dormant commerce clause precedents, except for two narrow exceptions (neither of which apply to this case). Thomas has much the same point, saying that “[t]he negative Commerce Clause has no basis in the Constitution and has proved unworkable in practice,” because its application “turns solely on policy considerations, not on the Constitution.”

Finally, Justice Alito filed a dissent, joined by Justices Stevens and Kennedy. They rely on a 1994 Supreme decision, C & A Carbone, Inc. v. Clarkstown, which they say requires the ordinances in this case to be tossed out. In that case, the Court held that a local ordinance requiring “all solid waste to be processed at a designated transfer station before leaving the municipality” was a violation of the dormant commerce clause. There’s no difference between that ordinance and the ones here, says Alito, so these ordinances should also be considered in violation of the dormant commerce clause. Chief Justice Johnny obviously didn’t buy that argument, saying that Carbone was different from this case because the facilities in that situation were private facilities, while the facilities in this case were public facilities. That’s an important distinction, he argues, and as the Carbone majority didn’t say anything about public facilities, it holds no precedential weight over this case. Alito argues otherwise, saying that “[t]he public-private distinction drawn by the Court is both illusory and without precedent.”


Shameless!

hewitt1.jpgJennifer Love Hewitt has been sued by her former management company, Handprint Entertainment. In a complaint filed on April 27, the company says that it’s owed at least $350,000 in past commissions, including commissions stemming from Hewitt’s current show, “The Ghost Whisperer.”

She fired Handprint back in March 2005 and, according to the lawsuit, stopped paying them their “Ghost” commissions in 2006 (commissions the company says it’s owed based on an oral agreement from 2002).

The opening paragraph of the complaint has some fun at Hewitt’s expense (emphasis is mine):

1. Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Love Hewitt”) currently stars in the hit television show, “The Ghost Whisperer,” in which she plays a young woman with the unique ability to talk to “earth bound spirits” who seek help in “resolving unfinished business with the living.” In real life, however, Hewitt is having troubles “resolving unfinished business with the living.” Listening to the tortious whispers of her new manager, Love Hewitt has breached….

The complaint also works in a “zinger” reference to Hewitt’s movie I Know What You Did Last Summer, saying she “knows what she did last season” when she decided to skimp on paying the company the 10% commission it claims it’s owed.

Now you might be asking yourself what is shameless about this lawsuit. Nothing, really. Instead, the title of this entry simply refers to this shameless excuse to show pictures of Jennifer Love’s Hewitts:

hewitt2.jpg


A QuizLaw Story Update – Let Us Help You Help Yourself

dry-cleaning2.jpgLast week, we told you about the beyond-ludicrous lawsuit of Roy Pearson Jr. - lawyer and administrative judge - who is seeking $65 million over a lost pair of pants. Well Sherman Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, has stepped up to the plate in response to the widespread news coverage of this story:

Since my organization, the American Tort Reform Association, works to limit this kind of abusive litigation that so hinders small and large businesses alike, we’re offering to raise the necessary funds to buy Pearson a high-quality suit of his choosing if he’ll just do the right thing [and dismiss this lawsuit].

It may not be $65 million, but it still sounds like a win, particularly when you remember the fact that the dry cleaner found the lost pants.

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The least surprising news of the day

bush.jpgFor the second time in his presidency, Bush whipped out the veto pen and wrote a big old “F.U.” on some legislation sitting on his desk. It should come as a surprise to nobody that said legislation was the Iraq war spending bill which included timelines for a troop withdrawal.

Bush said the timeline was a “prescription for chaos and confusion.” Say what you will about Bush, but he should be quite good at recognizing chaos and confusion in Iraq at this point. Bush also scolded the Dems for unnecessary political shenanigans: “They’ve sent their message, and now it’s time to put politics behind us and support our troops with the funds.” Bush calling for putting politics behind us isn’t just the pot calling the kettle black, it’s the pot calling the kettle a “nappy handled kettle,” right?

Nancy Pelosi responded to Bush’s post-veto speech by trying to show some balls of her own: “If the president thinks by vetoing this bill he’ll stop us from working to change the course of the war in Iraq, he is mistaken.” And because we’re already in the thick of the 2008 Presidential Election, all the major Dem candidates came out with statements of their own too, chastising Bush for ignoring the will of the people and the Congress.

So, what’s next? Well, the House is set to vote on a veto override tomorrow, but that’s fully expected to fail. After that, the next step from the Dems seems to be a new funding bill with some type of benchmarks and other restrictions on Bush’s ability to run the war, but it remains unseen how much of a divide this will create with both the Republicans and the more liberal Democrats. So there are good times ahead.

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CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN FOOTBALL-LIKE SUBSTANCE

cardinals.jpgFor anyone that both went to law school and follows football religiously, you’re probably intimately familiar with Gregg Easterbrook — senior editor of The New Republic, fellow at the Brookings Institute, and author of ESPN’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column. He also happens to be the brother of Frank Easterbrook, Chief Judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Well, in a 7th Circuit opinion handed down yesterday, Frank’s colleague on the bench, Terence Evans dropped this footnote in drug case (via How Appealing):

Of course, “Monday morning quarterback” is now passe since the advent of “Tuesday Morning Quarterback,” the terrific column regularly posted by Gregg Easterbrook on ESPN.com. See NLRB v. Cook County, 283 F.3d 888, 895 n.5 (7th Cir. 2002). In light of the column and the marquee “Monday Night Football” NFL games from September through December each year, we think the term “Monday morning quarterback,” from now on, should go the way of the drop-kick, the “T” formation, the Statue of Liberty play, and offensive tackles who weigh less than 300 pounds. From now on, a second-guesser should be called a “Tuesday Morning Quarterback.”

While I have a certain appreciation for a judge who drops pop-culture allusions (and kisses up to his superior at the same time!), I think another football term is appropriate here: Punt. As in, why has Gregg Easterbrook punted the same column, slightly rearranged, for years now? If you’ve read one Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, well, you’ve read them all. The guy hasn’t had an original thought since 2005 and barely prepares anymore; he just autokeys in his cute little team nicknames (Lucky Charms, Jersey A, Les Mouflons, etc.), throws up photos of cheerleaders (“Cheerbabe Cheesecake”), spits out a football-related haiku, and offers up his predictions, with which he gives with the same caveat week-after-week: “All Predictions Wrong or Your Money Back,” and then, ironically, chastises half of the league’s teams for punting in non-punting situations. Hey buddy — why don’t you try for the occasional touchdown with your columns, instead of phoning it in week-after-week?

Hmm. As it turns out, this doesn’t really have much to do with the law, does it? I suppose I just needed to air my grievances.

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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Entire State of Texas

Justice100dpi.JPG Oh, wow. Texas governor Rick Perry, tossing around ideas to prevent any Virginia Tech-type rampages in his state, came up with quite an interesting idea, which he thinks will put a stop to the unnecessary violence. He proposes that Texans be allowed to carry concealed handguns. Anywhere. Churches. Bars. Football games. PTA meetings. Confession. The guy who is sleeping with your wife’s house. Mexican Restaurants. Blackjack tables. Airports. Courthouses.

Yeah: Anywhere. Period.

“The last time I checked, putting a sign up that says ‘Don’t bring your weapons in here,’ someone who has ill intent on their mind — they could care less,” Perry told reporters. “I think it makes sense for Texans to be able to protect themselves from deranged individuals, whether they’re in church or whether on a college campus or wherever.” …

“Let me cover it right here,” Perry said. “I think a person ought to be able to carry their weapons with them anywhere in this state if they are licensed and they have gone through the training. The idea that you’re going to exempt them from a particular place is non-sense to me.”

That’s a great idea, Rick! There’s nothing safer than a bunch of Texans with pistols standing in line at the DMV. Or hey! Texas Longhorns fans carrying a gun with them to watch the Longhorns play against the Oklahoma Sooners — how many guns do you imagine would be trained on the QB if OU makes a late comeback rally? Lawyers could take their pistols into the courtroom and if the judge makes a certain decision, the D.A. could just wave that gun around a little and ask the judge reconsider. No matter, of course, because the judge would have a pistol too! Sure, there won’t be a solo-shooting massacre, there’d just be daily duels — and after all, isn’t it about time we brought back the Old West?

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The Daily Memo - 5/1/07

check.jpgA Republican convention in Utah ended with state legislatures “debating Satan’s influence on illegal immigrants.” (Daily Herald, via oogu)

check.jpgMSNBC seems to think that “fair use” doesn’t apply to its video of last week’s Democratic presidential debate. (ars technica)

check.jpgThe Supremes have declined taking on the case of two Gitmo detainees wanting to challenge military commissions. (Lawinfo)

check.jpgWest Virginia’s Supreme Court is set to look at whether a mansion “can advertise itself as a place to hold sex parties.” (Charleston Daily Mail)

check.jpgMore on yesterday’s KSR v. Teleflex patent case, including a statement that it’s “the most important patent case of the last 20 years, and perhaps since the passage of the 1952 Patent Act.” (Patently-O and SCOTUSblog)


Yet another glorious example of lawyers at their best

ica.jpgLast December, there was a little art shindig going on at Boston’s newly-opened Institute of Contemporary Art. Cambridge artist Gloretta Baynes was at the party having a conversation when a 67-year-old local attorney came over. She had never met Stephen Kunian before, but she claims he jumped into the conversation and appeared to be interested in an African necklace peaking out of her zippered jacket. Baynes alleges that Kunian then put his hands on each side of the jacket and ripped it open, busting the zipper and exposing her undergarments and some boobage. She says that he said something along the lines of: “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were wearing something underneath.”

So Kunian has now been charged with assault, after a hearing found sufficient evidence to sustain the criminal charge. Kunian, of course, claims that this is all nutty - he says it’s a shakedown, which is why she came to him before going to the authorities, asking for $500,000. His attorney added that the case is total junk and that Kunian is “one of the finest gentleman ever created on this earth.”

And that seems like a pretty bold statement in this situation. I mean, you figure there were witnesses to this event who probably saw what happened and who gave testimony at the hearing. If the witness gave other testimony, the criminal charges probably would not have stuck. So even if we believe that Kunian was simply interested in the necklace and did think she was fully clothed underneath, it still sounds like assault. Besides, would a “fine gentleman” really rip a woman’s jacket open to look at a necklace instead of asking, “excuse me, can I see your necklace?”

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Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me…can’t get fooled again

hitman.jpgLast November, Donald Bryant was sentenced to six years in the clink in connection with several cocaine and weapons charges. He had been in and out of county jail prior to that, and sometime between August and November he came up with a solid plan. In at least one of his cocaine cases, there was a police informant who was going to testify against him. So kill the informant, Bryant figures, and kill the case.

When another man in jail said he’d help Bryant kill this informant, Bryant was quite pleased, and he got his wife to get the $600 this guy would need for a gun. Things fell apart, however, when the “hitman,” himself, turned informant on Bryant, ratting him out to the cops. So last November, Bryant was charged with second-degree conspiracy and criminal solicitation. He pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge yesterday, getting an 8-to-16 year sentence in the clink, to be served consecutively with his current drug sentence (and his wife got a 3-to-9 year sentence of her own, when she pleaded guilty to her own conspiracy charge).

…oh, and I may have I forgot to mention the best part of it all. The “hitman” who ratted Bryant out? He’s the same guy who informed on Bryant in the original drug case! Bryant unknowingly tried to hire the man to kill himself, and that man ended up burning him twice!


Patting Ourselves on the Back - Our Favorite April Entries

aprilShowers.jpg• If you like QuizLaw entries, click here.

• Maybe he was just giving the Silver Surfer a blow job?

• Parents today are lucky to have so many choices about where to send their kids to school.

• Papa Bear plus illegal immigration equals many comments.

• “So acting out gorilla sex in my classroom is a bad thing?”

• When the Virginia Tech tragedy collides with the First Amendment, our readers stop lurking a little and voice some opinions.

• We suspect this is the only play published in April to feature a donkey as a main character.

• Teenage boys are “greatly disturbed” by books about lesbian sex?

Captain America’s not quite the hero he used to be.

• Lawyer plus dry cleaning equals wonderfully nonsensical lawsuit.