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Monthly Archives: June 2007

Bong Hits for ATL’s Guest Blogger

IMG_6718.jpgYesterday over at Above the Law (the second funniest law blog on the Interwebs), David Lat allowed a colleague from his sister site, Dealbreaker, to take a few unnecessary, kind of stupid, and not entirely well thought out swipes at Dahlia Lithwick, who among many lawyers and non-lawyers alike, is a favorite over at Slate. In fact, she kind of rocks — and her Supreme Court round-ups are the absolute best in the business. She manages to do for the Supreme Court what Chuck Klosterman does for bad tribute bands — make an otherwise tedious topic incredibly fascinating. And she’s been doing it for years.

John Carney, the guest writer in question, apparently doesn’t agree (he’s the one pictured above, in the middle — the homicidal lookin’ fella). He calls her “a deeply frivolous person,” suggests she is not of “normal intelligence,” and can’t decide whether she’s a “liar or a fool.” And he makes all of these oh-so-astute observations based upon one paragraph in Lithwick’s entire body of work — this, despite the fact she’s been writing for Slate for eight years.

But, the topic of this entry really isn’t John Carney and his dumbassery (the commenters on Lat’s site took care of that). Instead, I want to focus on David Lat’s disclaimer ahead of Carney’s entry. Lat clearly is a very intelligent man (and sexy, too!) — loads smarter than Mr. Carney — and because Lat rightfully appreciates Lithwick’s contributions, he attempts to separate himself from Carney’s piece. So, let’s pick apart his disclaimer. Lat’s actual words will be in italics, while what I imagine he was thinking when he wrote it will be in parenthesis. Let’s do it:

Ed. note: Today we’re pleased (not really) to present a guest post by John Carney. He’s the editor of our sibling site, DealBreaker (I’m really sorry, they are making me do this), and a non-practicing attorney (he’s a little rusty on the law, and let’s be honest: When he was a practicing attorney, he was a Skadden douchebag).

Please note that the views expressed in this post are those of John (and John alone) (please don’t lump me in with idiots like him. PLEASE). Unlike John, we HAVE met Dahlia Lithwick, and think she’s fabulous — one of the sharpest and funniest writers about the Supreme Court working today. (If she weren’t married and I weren’t of an unknown sexual persuasion, I’d hit that). We admire many members of the SCOTUS press corps — e.g., Jan Crawford Greenburg, Tony Mauro, Lyle Denniston (these are people that Carney has never heard of — see how much smarter ‘we’ are than him? — and by ‘we’ I mean, ‘I’) — but we don’t know of another writer who marries insight and humor the way that Lithwick does. (Carney blogs for a Wall Street site — he marries insight and humor like Britney Spears marries reason and birth control, i.e., not at all) As you can see from our Facebook profile, we are proud members of the We Love Dahlia Lithwick group. (Really — we, er, I would hit that. I’m not even kidding.)

Okay, enough disclaimers. John has a different view (A very unreasoned, irrational, kind of stupid view) — and since we value viewpoint diversity here at ATL (seriously, they’re making me do this), here it is. Enjoy.

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Silly retard, murder’s for sane people.

retard_nunchucks.jpgConvicted murder Scott Louis Panetti got a reprieve from his execution when the Supreme Court decided that the lower court should have considered psychiatric evidence about his mental illness.

In 1992 Panetti was convicted for the murders of his in-laws whom he shot to death in front of his wife and daughter. Now, I’m no rocket scientist (but I do play one at home when I’m sufficiently hopped up on Mountain Dew and Sour Patch Kids), but if I kill someone in cold blood just for shits and giggles, I’m gonna bet even money that keeping me around much longer isn’t good for anyone’s safety in the long run.

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution bars “the execution of a person who is so lacking in rational understanding that he cannot comprehend that he is being put to death because of the crime he was convicted of committing,” they said in court papers.

There’s gotta be “douchebag” clause in there somewhere, right?

*The above image is not Scott Louis Panetti. But ain’t he adorable? Cowabunga, Corky!


A record day in Tacoma, Washington

BAC.jpgForty-five year old Rebecca G. Lingbloom pleaded not guilty to a DUI charge earlier this week. Cops say she nearly swerved into a pedestrian and was all over the road. They later found her passed out in her car.

The record in question came into play when the toxicology was done on her blood. She tied the lab’s record for the highest blood alcohol level they’ve ever seen with an unfathomable 0.50. As the lab manager explained it, “it certainly would kill many people.”


The Daily Memo - 6/29/07

check.jpgATL’s got a guest-post from John Carney, who makes a rather idiotic attack on my favorite Supreme blogger, Dahlia Lithwick. (Above the Law)

check.jpgA New York court has decided that driving after “huffing” doesn’t fall within the confines of the state’s DWI laws. (The Legal Reader)

check.jpgSouth Dakota is adding Indian Law to its bar exam. (Legal Profession Blog)

check.jpgAn Oregon man is suing the Feds over an accident involving his Lamborghini and a Cessna airplane that some G-men piloted into his Lamborghini. (The Seattle Times)

check.jpgA Rastafarian prisoner is claiming a violation of his rights resulting from a city jail forcing him to shave off his dreadlocks. (PilotOnline)


Good to know that “stupid political correctness BS” can travel across the ocean

pc.jpgEngland’s Justice Ministry has drafted legislation that would strip the term “prostitute” from all of the country’s criminal statutes. And the wonderful reason behind this is simply that the Ministry thinks the word has too much of a stigma. The label of “common prostitute” has been around since 1824 and is “a bit outdated,” said a Ministry spokeswoman. Plus, she said, “it just wasn’t really helpful to label people.”

So under this bill’s proposal, prostitutes would now be referred to as “persons who sell sex persistently,” with “persistently” meaning they sell sex two or more times in a three month span.

This is beyond idiotic. They’ve taken a simple word and replaced it with legal mumbo-jumbo. And now there’s a loophole - if you only sell sex once every three months, you’re not a criminal prostitute. You’re just an entrepreneur!

When I first read this story, I turned to the British woman who happened to be in my office at that very moment, and asked her if she could explain what the hell was going on with her country.

She had no response.

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Ah, Philly, I really miss you sometimes

phillyPD.jpgNorberto Cappas was a Philly police officer. First of all, I love the name Norberto. That’s just great. Second of all, please note that I saw “was.” See, on Tuesday, a police tribunal found him “guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and lying during a departmental investigation,” which means he ain’t no longer a cop. And what did the former man in blue do?

Well back in 2003, he stopped by a jail cell where two women were being held (they were brought in on suspicion of having drugs, but no charges were ever filed). He then ordered them to put on a sex show for him, demanding that they kiss and fondle each other and show him their boobs.

And god bless Philly PD’s internal affairs - they never did anything with this case until last year, when the Philadelphia Inquirer started pestering them to find out what was up.

Of course, the real tragedy here is that Norberto didn’t even give the gals some singles or some beads after they complied with his “show me your tits” demand. …Ingrate.


The Supremes Bid a fond Adieu for the Term

supreme2.jpgI’m a busy bird right now, so I can’t really tell you much about the big Supreme decisions that came out today, and I certainly haven’t read the massive opinions themselves just yet. But here’s a quick run-down on what some other folks are talking about (and you can also check out a nice round-up over at SCOTUSblog).

Taking a general look at the state of things, Slate’s Emily Bazelon asks what “the liberal and moderate lawyers who supported John Roberts’ nomination say today?” She notes that he’s pretty much always sided time with the conservatives Alito, Thomas and the Saclia, and that this week’s rash of 5-4 decisions were all pretty much wins for conservatives and losses for liberal-moderates. In fact, if you look at his record over the term, says Bazelon, “John Roberts is proving to be an extremely conservative chief justice,” even if he doesn’t “go in for the rhetorical swashbuckling.”

You surely heard the big news from today, which was that the Court was “bitterly divided” in its landmark decision “ruling that race cannot be a factor in the assignment of children to public schools.” Chief Justice Johnny gave the smack-down to two programs using race in Lousiville and Seattle to create diversity (SCOTUSblog has a breakdown of the school plans that were at issue in the cases), saying that diversity should be achieved without considering race. The money quote? “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” However, Justice Kennedy’s concurrence is really the decision with all the meat here, and he did hedge things a touch, saying that there are narrow circumstances when one might be able to use race to properly integrate a school. If one believes David Lat, Justice Steven’s dissent consists of little more than a spot-on impersonation of a certain celebrity Scientologist, calling Chief Justice Johnny glib.

Over at the WSJ Law Blog, there’s a great Q&A giving you the nuts and bolts of the “big race case.” Among other things, it makes it clear that this decision does not flat-out overturn Brown v. Board of Education, although “it does reflect a deep division over Brown.” And Professor Dorf finds “the silver lining” in the integration cases, which is that the end result of the decisions isn’t “as drastic as suggested by some of the rhetoric” in Chief Justice Johnny’s opinion.

Oh yeah - there were two other decisions as well. In those decisions, both of which were also 5-4: (a) the Supremes overturned an almost-one hundred year old antitrust decision by ruling that challenges to vertical price restraints should now be judged with a rule-of-reason analysis; and (b) the Supremes said that the Fifth Circuit was being too strict in deciding whether someone is mentally competent enough to get thwacked with the death penalty.

The Court is now in recess until October 1.

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Great Moments in Presidential Speeches

If you any of you watch Letterman regularly, you’ve no doubt seen the series of “Great Moments in Presidential Speeches” he does every night. It’s really a testament to George W. Bush that there’s enough material to fill the small segment five nights a week — and I think Dave has been running it for a couple of years now. And some enterprising young YouTuber compiled a series of them into this nice five-minute clip — it’ll be the best laugh you have all day. If only it didn’t come at the expense of the leader of the free world.

Jon Stewart is funny. But George Bush is hilario …. an idiot!

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Give it up, folks, for the Arkansas police!

07626132615_062607_HS_Skateboarders_gra.jpgEarlier today, when Seth suggested that the Arkansan geezer who shot a kid in the neck(!) for throwing rocks was overreacting and that, perhaps, he should’ve called the cops — well, I’m not so sure the Arkansan police force would’ve acted much differently. I think maybe the heat is just getting to them down South. Everybody is overreacting. Take a gander of this video, filmed in the great city of Hot Springs (great, if you like horse racing and deadly theme parks). In it, a few kids decide to do a little skateboarding. Turns out, that’s a violation of a city ordinance. You know what that means, right?

Beat down! And Jesus — was the choke hold on the chick (at the 1:50 mark) really that necessary?

The police officer in question has been place on administrative leave.

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The Daily Memo - 6/28/07

check.jpgIn Rome, an Italian man was on the stand, testifying as to charges that he killed his American girlfriend, when he had a heart attack and died. (SignOnSanDiego)

check.jpg“The Utah Court of Appeals rejected an ex-fiance’s request to recover thousands of dollars spent during his engagement on a vasectomy, a cruise to Alaska, a trip to France and other purchases.” (My Way News)

check.jpgSo wait - it’s illegal to register your dog to vote? Since when?! (The Seattle Times)

check.jpgShould the taxpayers have to cover the costs of a murderer getting a sex change? (Newsday and Overlawyered)

check.jpgThe Eleventh Circuit has overturned a lower ruling, saying it’s A-ok for folks to be subjected to a pat-down prior to entering the stadium for Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games. (SI)

check.jpgIs it worth taking a case for the sake of publicity? (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgDavid Lat and Ann Althouse, live and in person … but more importantly, who knew they’re both New Jersey folk! (Above the Law)

check.jpgNetflix and Blockbuster are making nicey-nice over their business method patent dispute. (Engadget)


Ah-one, ah ta-who, ah-threeghjtumgpu

Starburst_Logo.gifHow many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? We may never truly know.

How many chews does it take to get temporal mandibular joint dysfunction? Exactly three. Romero, Mich. resident Victoria McArthur is suing the parent company of Starburst, Mars Inc. Why you ask? Well, it seems that Starburst Fruit Chews are … Wait, are you ready for this? Maybe you should sit down. Comfy? Good. She’s suing because they’re too CHEWY. Oh! Are you OK? You took a bad spill there. Didn’t see that one comin’, did ya’?

McArthur claims to be having difficulty chewing, sleeping, and talking and is suing for the usual $25,000 for “permanent personal injuries” she suffered after her run-in with the conniving confection.

McArthur is said to be contemplating suing Evian water after she used the brand of bottled water to loosen the sticky substance, citing excessive moisture and lack of drymouth due to her parched thirst.

In related news, peanut butter is filing for divorce from chocolate citing “irreconcilable differences.” Custody hearings over Reeces and Pieces to begin soon.

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Man, Wiley Miller really don’t like lawyers

ns-6-27-07.jpg

(Yesterday’s “Non Sequitur,” from GoComics)


This sounds like just a touch of an overreaction

rockHucking.jpgIn Dustin’s wonderful home state of Arkansas, 9-year-old Demotric Moore was being the type of little miscreant that young lads often, by their very nature, simply are. In this instance, that miscreant nature took the form of him hucking rocks at the home of one Jonathan Watts. According to the captain of the police (we’ll get to why he’s talking about this in a moment), Watts has had problems with kids hucking rocks at his home before. In fact, the 50-year-old Watts responded to one such incident by hurling a brick at the kid who was responsible for the rock hucking.

And sadly, one wishes that Watts had simply hurled a brick at Moore. That surely would’ve led to a better outcome for Moore than being killed by a gunshot wound to the neck. Said the surly Watts as he was being cuffed: “I’ve had it with these kids and the rock throwing.” Well that’s fine - I hear you on that, Mr. Watts. But, uhm, maybe you call the cops. Or get some shutters to protect the window. Hell, get a guard dog. But shooting a kid in the neck? For shame.

Oh, and if you were sick of the rock throwing, I can’t wait to see what your thoughts are on the salad tossing you’ll get in the big house. Bastard.


We’re #3! We’re #3!

billboard1.jpgA little over a decade ago, after the initial late night wars died down and Letterman settled into the ratings behind Leno and, occasionally, even behind “Nightline,” “The Late Show” put out what I think may be the smartest billboard ever designed. The only image I could find (to the left) is hard to make out, but the story went like this: As soon as Leno ascended to number one in the ratings, the hack-show host — whose show is based in L.A. — put up a big billboard with his grotesquerie and a huge “#1” emblazoned across it, in Times Square, very near The Ed Sullivan Theater (where Dave is taped). So, Dave — proving exactly why he is the best — put up his own billboard, a few blocks in front of Leno’s, with his own wiseacre grin, proudly declaring himself and his show to be “#3.”

And now, we get to feel a certain kinship with Letterman this week, having been named The Third Funniest Law Blog over at Legal Antics — making Phila Lawyer the Leno of the bunch and, somewhat appropriately, Above the Law as the “Nightline” of law blogs (the good Koppel “Nightline,” to be sure). And sorry, Ted — I guess that makes Overlawyered the Jimmy Kimmell. (You’d still be #1 in a landslide for Sexiest Legal Blogger).

But, as everyone knows, number three is the best. Just look at the evidence: Starship Troopers 3, Matrix Revolutions, Godfather 3, X-Men III, Revenge of the Nerds 3 and Porky’s Revenge — all the best installments in their respective trilogies. Right? Right? Awww, hell.

Congratulations Tucker Max, Phila Lawyer. I’m sure your victory had nothing to do with the free hand jobs that were promised in exchange for votes.

He does seem like a decent fella, though.

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I Know … I Know … I’m a Petty Little Bitch

perezhilton.jpgYou’ve gotta be freakin’ kidding me. What a vindictive little shit. So, here’s the latest on everybody’s favorite fat-ass (no, not Michael Moore). Perez Hilton, who has been sued by everyone but Seth and I, has decided to fight back. Not so much by defending his own lawsuit, which is pretty much a lost cause. But by filing his own, I suppose, in the hopes of gaining some leverage during the inevitable settlement talks.

So, Perez has sued X-17 (the paparazzi agency who is suing him for $7.6 million), claiming that the agency engages in illegal business activities, namely hiring illegal aliens and improperly labeling it’s employees as “independent contractors” to avoid payroll taxes and insurance. Perez Hilton’s lawsuit comes just a week after X-17 managed to convince his host to shut him down, which left him without a web home for a few hours, at least. But this lawsuit apparently has nothing to do with that. No sir.

[Hilton’s] lawyer, Bryan Freedman, tells TheShowBuzz.com that the lawsuit against X17 was not triggered by the photo agency’s complaints to the blogger’s Web host.

“Former photographers of X17 have been calling with these horror stories for months,” Freedman said. “This has been in the works for some time.”

I’m no expert in the law of illegal business practices or anything, so here’s my question: Why the hell are X-17’s business practices any of Perez’s goddamn business? I don’t know if X-17 does what Perez’s lawyers are suggesting, but even if they do, how’s it harming him? Where’s the standing? And if Perez is arguing unfair competition, how does that work? Perez doesn’t hire paparazzi photographers, he steals from them. So what’s unfair about X-17’s business to Perez?

I get so angry! And petty. And I hate myself for it, because I find myself in the position of siding with almost-as-despicable paparazzi. And discussing gossip blogs. On a legal site. But I can’t help myself. I hate him. Like, loathe him. I swear, if I could get he and Rosie O’Donnell — and maybe Dane Cook and Paul Haggis — in one room, I’d strap a bomb to myself and do the world a huge solid.

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Fatty fatty two-by-four

411MIL_Team07015.jpgMichael Moore is a fatty fatty two-by-four (hey - that rhymes!). But that doesn’t change the fact that his new documentary, Sicko, is surprisingly fantastic. I have actually enjoyed all of Moore’s work, but I do tend to find his persona a bit grating, and some of the more obvious stunts he includes in his films don’t always resonate for me. But this flick is much more subdued and as John Nichols over at The Nation puts it, it’s “the most important political statement so far in what remains an ill-defined domestic policy debate among Democrats who propose to replace Bushism with something better.” Quite frankly, I think this film should be required viewing for every member of Congress.

Professor Dorf agrees, calling the flick “terrific.” However, he also correctly points out the flick’s “principal didactic flaw,” which is that it fails “to explain why the U.S. [healthcare] system is such a disaster.” Dorf attributes the disaster to the fact that “so much of our health care dollar goes to administrative costs that take the form of insurance companies trying to deny coverage.” Which is definitely a pretty accurate assessment of what is probably the system’s biggest flaw (of course, that stems directly from the fact that we have a private/for-profit system, which is what Moore focuses on - he’s just not quite as explicit as Professor Dorf would like in connecting the dots for the more casual viewer). Professor Dorf’s blogging partner, meanwhile (Neil H. Buchanan), thinks the movie’s biggest error is one of commission rather than omission, because he represents Hillary’s 1990’s health care initiative as a good idea, whereas Buchanan says that initiative was “a genuinely terrible idea.”

Anyway, go read Dustin’s review of the flick to get a better grasp on what it’s all about. And then head out to the theater and watch it for yourself.


The Daily Memo - 6/27/07

check.jpgYikes - a Michigan man has been sentenced to 14 years in the clink for importing Eastern European women and forcing them to be strippers. (FindLaw)

check.jpgDouble yikes - a Pittsburgh man has pled guilty a slew of theft and abusing a corpse charges, after 19 fetus corpses were found in bags and bins in his garage (he was supposed to cremate the remains). (CNN)

check.jpgA woman is suing a funeral home that cremated her deceased husband’s prosthetic leg, which was worth over seven grand … plus the usual request for damages for her emotional and physical distress. (Fox News)

check.jpgA dude caused four cars to set fire when he tried to steal gas from one of the cars … with a drill. (WNBC)

check.jpgAn Illinois man has been charged with stealing lap dances! (Gazette Online)


She did WHAT with a golf ball??

golfer.jpg
The last time I went golfing, it was with my brother, a large Hawaiian gentleman, and another guy I can’t remember. We golfed, had a few beers, and generally played some crappy golf.

We definitely did not have strippers grinding on our laps and violating each other with a putter. I guess that’s what the tacky green blazers’ll get ya’.

Golfers at the Cherry Valley Golf Course complained to authorities when they spotted a private party on the golf course that played host to lap dances, “sex acts,” and the occassional bad golf swing. All I got the last time I golfed was sun burn …

The women at the private event were employess of CR Fannys Gentlemen’s Club in Wilson…and no, I’m not making that name up. I believe it’s a subsidiary of BJ Bummsniffer’s House of Spank. I could be mistaken.

After police met with attorneys for Gene Percudani (owner of Cherry Valley) some of the “performers,” and their handler, the party dispersed. Officer Ruben Torres declined to comment as it is still an ongoing investigation. Quizlaw sources are on route to CR Fanny’s for a more in depth look into the events of the day. Questions as to why they needed rolls of 1’s and 5’s before leaving were not immediately answered.


Texas Headline of the Day

poo1.jpgFeces Parking Ticket Proves Costly

Yup. An Austin man got a ticket back in April for leaving his car parked in front of his house for too long. Seems he was less than thrilled with this result so when he paid the ticket, he included some dog poo in the envelope, dropping the whole stinky thing in the Law Enforcement Center’s drop box. “When the office employee opened envelopes from the drop box, she noticed a brown fluid leaking from one envelope.”

Er … uhm … yuck? Yeah, yuck.

So this poor employee got the fluid on her hands and all over her desk. She woke up the following day with a headache, and found herself repeatedly vomiting, leading to a two day stint in the hospital for an illness that was never really determined.

The poo man, Joshua Steven Solberg, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge, and he has to pay the law enforcement employee just shy of three grand (which still won’t cover her medical bills, which were over $5,000). He also has to pay a $300 fine and write a personal letter of apology.

Moral of the story? Keep your poo out where it belongs, and out of any envelopes you mail to your civil servants (or to anyone else for that matter).


“It ain’t a tax if we don’t call it a tax, you see?”

nolimit.jpgVirginia’s General Assembly (that is, their state legislature) has instituted a new system of “hidden fees” to avoid the need for an actual tax hike to cover transportation costs. The law has been coined the “Dangerous Driver Law,” but it really penalizes more than dangerous drivers. For example, if you get busted going 20 miles over the speed limit, in addition to the normal court fees and traffic fines, you’ll be on the hook for an extra grand. One thousand bucks for a speeding ticket! The “hidden fees” also hit “a variety of misdemeanor traffic violations including being a passenger in a hit and run or the failure to give a proper signal” and can be anywhere from $250 to $3,000. So if you’re the passenger in a hit a run accident, you may get the privilege of helping Virginia construct its roads! Lucky you.

Many of the civil fees do address alcohol as was the intent of the “Dangerous Driver Law” when it originated, but the fees also may be accessed for such daily traffic violations as rolling through a stop sign (a fee of $300), or impeding traffic—a charge that’s possible when stopping in front of your mailbox to get the mail. The civil fee alone for a conviction on the latter is $300.

And if you can’t afford to pay the fees? Tough - kiss your license goodbye. And judges don’t even have the leniency to to suspend the fees, as the law rigidly mandates the fees.

The only good news is that these fees only apply to Virginia drivers, since the state can’t tax collect fees from residents of other states. So suck it Virginians - I can race through your state at 88 miles per hours and just get the usual $300+ ticket, without that extra grand!

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There’s hope for the future of our nation

fe3c0545-6210-4379-8c12-caff8b3c59b1.hmedium.jpgThe future rests in the hands of the children, right? Well then, as this entry’s title suggests, maybe all isn’t lost with the MySpace Generation. On Monday, a bunch of high school seniors visited the White House as part of their recognition for being in the Presidential Scholars Program. During the ceremony, a young lady presented Bush, to his surprise, with a handwritten letter signed by 50 of the visiting students. That letter urged the administration to but the kibosh on its continuing “violations of the human rights” of various terror suspects being held in places like Gitmo, and also asked that Bush and his cohorts respect the Geneva Convention.

Bush’s lackey deputy press secretary Dana Perino (who I must admit having a slight crush on even though, or perhaps in some way twisted because, she speaks the increasingly ridiculous lies that all of Bush’s spokespeople speak) … anyway, Perino said that Bush enjoyed his visit, and even read the letter, after which he assured the kids that our government totally doesn’t torture folks and totally values human rights. Okely dokely Dana.

But good on you, Presidential Scholars, good on you.

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Schnikeys!

If you snatch a purse in Texas, they will run your ass over. In a truck. I am not even kidding.

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That Jesus is a Funny Dude …

jesus_thanks.gifYesterday, right after the Supreme Court ruled that a high-school student could not hold up a banner saying, “Bong Hits for Jesus,” a city court in Slidell, Louisiana decided, for the time being, to keep up its portrait of Jesus, over the ACLU’s objections.

Well played, Jesus. Well played.


Florida Headline of the Day

jessica-alba-bikini-butt-03.jpg

“Pregnant woman attacked over beach towel.”

What?! Well I guess the other lady just really wanted that towel.

When questioned, [Mary] Riley admitted that she knew the victim was pregnant, and stated, “Ya, I knew she was pregnant.”

She’s been charged with aggravated assault for attacking the woman.


(*Note: Pregnant woman not pictured.)

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…Nun’ya who? Nun’ya business … hah!

nuns.jpgWhat is the world coming to when you can’t even trust a nun? I remember my days in Catholic school, where nuns were the paragons of virtue, patience, and piety. They were the feared dispensers of justice and punishment for transgression.

And now? They’re petty criminals out to turn a quick buck, but I tell you. Sister Mary Margaret, why? WHY???

A village in Spain is up in arms over a pair of nuns who allegedly stole three sacred statues from a now-closed church. After a raging termite infection the likes of which has not been seen since Paris Hilton’s last pelvic exam, the church was forced to close. The nuns moved to Toledo and removed the three statues from the church, one of which was a veneered statue of Christ used in town celebrations.

Unable to enter the church due to the keys also having been taken, the townsfolk have turned to sit-ins, pot banging, and some whining, whimpering and general pissy-ness. They may upgrade to Terror Threat Level Fuscia if no word is received from the nefarious nuns.

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The Daily Memo - 6/26/07

check.jpgWoo-hoo! The D.C. asshat lost his $54 million lawsuit against the dry cleaners, and he has to pick up their court costs. (WSJ Law Blog and Professor Bainbridge)

check.jpg“A battle over ownership of Michael Jackson memorabilia is headed back to a Nevada courtroom, where the King of Pop is seeking the return of items withheld from an auction of family items.” (FindLaw)

check.jpgThe court ignored his tears and begging, as Tom Sizemore got sentenced to 16 months in the clink. (CNN)

check.jpgBlawg Review #114 is the first Blawg Review of the summer season. (idealawg)

check.jpgA collective of restaurants have sued New York City over a new city regulation requiring certain chains and restaurants to list calories on their menus. (1010 WINS)

check.jpgA woman is going to court to keep a scumbum absentee dad from getting a share of the Victim Compensation Fund as a result of their 30-year-old son dying in the WTC attacks. (NY Daily News)

check.jpgThis August, Congress will be issuing a report about taxation of virtual goods in virtual gaming environments. (News.com)

check.jpgI know lawyers who did each and every one of these shady billing practices, which is one of the many reasons why, if I ever have to hire a lawyer, I’ll be checking their bill with a fine-toothed comb. (Professor Bainbridge)

check.jpgHouston’s police are ignoring the intent of a license plate law so they can rack up tickets and money. (The Houston Chronicle)


Now this is the kind of environmental protection the Roberts Supreme Court can get behind!

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(Today’s “Non Sequitur” strip, via GoComics.)


Common Sense Lesson #149

courthouseDoors.jpgWhen there’s a warrant out for your arrest, you might should try to avoid going to a courthouse. Because, you know, you just might get yourself arrested.

That’s what the 21-year-old Jonathan Franklin Hunter learned when he took his wife to the courthouse for a quickie wedding. Minutes after the ceremony, a sheriff’s deputy got all up in Hunter’s business and arrested him. Turns out Hunter had an outstanding warrant stemming from an alleged violation of a 2005 injunction (which, in turn, stemmed from some domestic violence issues with his sister). And get this - the heartless bailiffs wouldn’t even let him hug or kiss his bride goodbye before throwing him in a patrol car and driving off. For shame. Said his new bride:

It was embarrassing. I was shocked. Everyone was looking at us. I wanted to run out of there.

Welcome to married life, Mrs. Hunter!


The Supremes tackled a hodge-podge of issues in yesterday’s five decisions

supreme1.jpgYesterday was supposed to be the last day of the term for the Supremes, but they have so many decisions left that they decided to make Thursday the last day. So yesterday saw only some of the last decisions come down, and the rest will be out later this week. SCOTUSblog has a great entry loaded up with links to various discussions and articles about the two cases. But here’s my link-summary on the decisions for the QuizLaw faithful.

As we mentioned yesterday, the Court ruled that “Bong Hit 4 Jesus” is not protected speech when it’s on a banner being held high by a student (see what I did there with the “held high?” Don’t nobody ever accuse me of not being clever!). David Lat thinks that the Supremes ruled against “noble, crusading students” in favor of “the mean old school officials” because they prefer crack to weed. The AP’s Mark Sherman, taking a more serious look at the decision, notes that conservative groups are actually on Frederick’s side, as opposed to their usual position on the administration’s side, “out of concern that a ruling for Morse would let schools clamp down on religious expression, including speech that might oppose homosexuality or abortion.” Meanwhile, the WSJ Law Blog notes that Thomas, in a concurrence, said he’d like to rule “that public school students don’t have First Amendment rights at school.”

Meanwhile, in National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife, Alito penned the majority decision (in a 5-4 decision), ruling that when a federal agency is required (by law) to take some action, it doesn’t have to follow a conflicting mandate within the Endangered Species Act. In this case, the other law was the Clean Water Act, and so it would appear that while rock beats scissors, water beats the American burying beetle. …Work with me here, people.

Then there’s Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, which was another 5-4 split with the majority decision penned by Alito. Here, the Supremes said “that ordinary taxpayers cannot stop conferences that help religious charities apply for federal grants.” Or as Jason Harrow puts it, this decision means that a person cannot “sue the federal government, alleging an executive branch violation of the Establishment Clause, solely because that person is a taxpayer.” So President Bush is quite pleased, because this means that his faith-based initiatives can continue full-steam. Alito said the taxpayers didn’t have standing because Congress wasn’t providing the financial appropriation; rather the White House was simply pulling the money out of general appropriations. In his dissent, Justice Souter calls shenanigans, and says the case should’ve been allowed to move on to its merits. And Thomas and the Scalia, of course, said the majority didn’t go far enough, and should’ve banned all taxpayer lawsuits, which they see as a “blot on our jurisprudence.”

Number four for the day was Wilke v. Robbins, which contains a ruling that you can’t hold a government official personally liable under RICO if they were acting in their official capacity in trying to get your land for the government. The Jurist quickly sums up the situation behind this case, which makes this ruling more clear: “Robbins filed a lawsuit against several employees of the Bureau of Land Management … seeking to hold them liable under RICO … for alleged extortion in trying to gain a reciprocal right-of-way through Robbins’ private property.” Since the Bureau folks were acting in their governmental capacity, Robbins just can’t go after them personally under RICO.

And the biggest case of the day was probably FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life. Over at SCOTUSblog, Gretchen Sund calls the 5-4 decision a “blockbuster” which “[e]ffectively, though silently … overrules a central element in the Court’s most recent prior confrontation with the campaign-finance problem at issue.” As reported by the AP, the 5-4 majority “loosened restrictions … on corporate- and union-funded television ads that air close to elections” by upholding a lower court decision “that an anti-abortion group should have been allowed to air ads during the final two months before the 2004 elections.” The basis of this decision was free speech (so for those paying attention, there were two free speech cases today), and the majority said the campaign finance law was unreasonably limiting speech and violating this group’s First Amendment rights. As Sund sees it, “[t]he holding today is that the First Amendment precludes Congress from regulating any ad unless the government can prove that ‘the ad is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate,’” and Sund thinks this “takes the permissible regulation of campaign financing very close to back to what it was before the McCain-Feingold law.”

In another post, Sund says that this decisions is, as you may have already figured out from the above quick-discussion, “a major victory for those who oppose campaign finance regulation, and will likely lead to a new proliferation of corporate and union funded campaign ads in the 2008 election season.” Well that’s just bloody fantastic - I love me some corporate campaign ads! Meanwhile, also at SCOTUSblog, Marty Lederman sees the decision’s big impact as being the start of “a major sea-change with respect to corporate speech rights [rather] than a case upending the First Amendment’s general treatment of campaign finance regulation.”

And finally, Professor Bainbridge takes a Washington Post reporter to task for claiming that yesterday was a major win for Conservatives all around, saying that the “attempt to fit these cases into a pre-conceived left-right model is a few french fries short of a happy meal.”


Sipping on Gin and Juice (Laid Back)

Baby%20Drinking%20Beer.jpgWe have another parenting tip for you today, folks. If you find yourself knocked up at the age of 15, with child at 16, and completely bored with your 10-month-old baby’s antics, there’s always booze to enliven the baby-sitting experience. No no — not for the mother. For the daughter, of course!

A 16-year-old Florida mommy and a few of her relatives were arrested after spiking her baby’s juice with a little gin … and videotaping the results. From The Smoking Gun:

Investigators said the baby took several sips from a cup containing gin and an unknown juice, while the mother videotaped her child and Bell and Moore laughed. In a probable cause affidavit, cops reported that the teenager and her relatives were passing the cup around “in an attempt to get the victim to walk to them.” The trio was arrested after the girl’s mother discovered the videotape of her grandson drinking booze “to the point of intoxication.”

Man alive. Maybe abstinence-only education is the answer.

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It’s Always Funny Until Someone Gets - Wait. He’s Dead?

20070623_101126_bn23manzanares_200.jpgA few months ago, we posted a story about Larry Manzanares, a former Denver city attorney, judge, and Harvard law graduate, who was put on leave last February when a stolen computer was found at his home. The laptop in question actually belonged to a Denver court. At the time, before we had any more details about the case, we mocked the guy for claiming that he bought the computer off a guy in the parking lot a block away from the court house.

Well, after some more investigating, police discovered that, no, the computer was not purchased from a guy in a parking lot. As it turns out, according to The Legal Reader, Manzanares was using a work computer to look at porn. He took the computer home in order to clean up any traces of porn left on the computer before he was caught. That’s when he was nabbed with it. Manzanares was charged with three felonies: embezzlement, theft, and tampering with evidence. And his legal career was pretty much ruined.

But, the story goes from — “ha ha! What a dumbass” — to, “Jesus, that poor goddamn schmo,” really quickly. That’s because, over the weekend, Manzanares shot himself to death while walking under a bridge. He left a wife and kids behind.

And that’s really … well, it’s not funny.

Friends and family members are blaming an overzealous DA and the media for overly sensationalizing the story. “There is not a male over the age of puberty that has not - at some point or another - got into adult videos or that type of thing,” said a friend. And the friend (rightfully, I think) took the district attorney’s office to task for calling a press conference to announce the charges. “Calling a press conference was unnecessary. It was designed really to savage this man. At the end of the day, he’s a public figure who at best committed the transgression of taking an item to which he wasn’t entitled, with the value of $500 or $600.”

Damn.

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The Daily Memo - 6/25/07

check.jpgDahlia Lithwick and Walter Dellinger have once again started their end-of-term “Breakfast Table” analysis of the Supremes, which includes a great “Constitutional Law for Non-Lawyers” explanation. (Slate)

check.jpgDawnell Leadbetter, who got the RIAA to drop its download case against her, is taking it to them now, by trying to get her attorneys fees paid for by the plaintiff record labels. (Recording Industry vs The People)

check.jpgNew York Governor Eliot Spitzer say that the state’s judges “should know better” than to bring a “frivolous lawsuit” seeking pay raises. (Law.com)

check.jpgLast week, two Congressmen “announced legislation that would finally restore habeas corpus rights to U.S. detainees being imprisoned indefinitely without trial.” (Think Progress)

check.jpgOuch - the new book “Chambermaid” gets trashed as being “an abomination” and an awful book “both artistically and morally.” (PrawfsBlawg via Above the Law)

check.jpgMayor Al Kelley is the bestest mayor ever: “City hall is closed so everybody can have the opportunity to shop [at the new Wal-Mart’s grand opening].” (Montgomery Advertiser)

check.jpg“Hell’s Kitchen’s” Gordon Ramsay has been sued over a new show of his, “Kitchen Nightmares,” with allegations of wrongful termination, lies about rotten food and rigging the show with actors and staged setups. (TV Squad)

check.jpgYou gotta’ love the lawyer who spent $10,000 of his own money, on principle, to fight (and beat!) a $65 parking ticket. (WNBC)


BREAKING NEWS - The Supreme Court Hates the Baby Jesus

nun-bong.jpgHow else to explain their ruling against the “Bong Hit 4 Jesus” kid? I mean, wouldn’t you want the Baby Jesus to take bong hits if you liked him? A stoned Jesus is surely a happy Jesus, and even if he were to get a little paranoid, that’s probably a good thing - since his return means it’s the End of Times and all that.

So yeah, in one of today’s several Supreme Court rulings, the Supremes issued a 6-3 decision against Joseph Frederick (in the case of Morse v. Frederick). Justice Alito reiterated the fact that kids in school don’t have the same free speech rights as us grown-up folks (although they still have some). Here, the Court said it was reasonable for the school’s principal to decide that Frederick’s banner was basically promoting illegal drug use, and that this is a message which is inappropriate for school.

Justice Stevens, however, joined by Justices Souter and Ginsburg, does want Jesus to get high:

This case began with a silly nonsensical banner, (and) ends with the court inventing out of whole cloth a special First Amendment rule permitting the censorship of any student speech that mentions drugs, so long as someone could perceive that speech to contain a latent pro-drug message.


Another shining example of why the general public hates lawyers

CohenGrigsby.jpgLawrence M. Lebowitz is the marketing director for Cohen & Grigsby, a Pittsburgh law firm. He recently, with the help of some colleagues, explained to a group of folks how they can get around the Permanent Labor Certificate (PERM) program. PERM says that companies can legally hire foreign workers, and sponsor them for residency in the US (i.e., for their green cards), if the company can show that no US worker is capable of doing the job. As these scumbags teach, all you have to do is cheaply run shady false advertisements that will get you lousy applicants. Says Lebowitz:

[O]ur goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested US worker. In a sense that sounds funny, but it’s what we’re trying to do here. … So certainly, we are not going to try to find the place where the applicants are going to be the most numerous. We’re going to try to find a place where, again, we’re complying with the law and hoping, and likely, not to find qualified and interested worker applicants.

He then advises companies that, when they get resumes, they should just find easy ways to “disqualify” the applicants.

We know about this because a video of the presentation made it onto YouTube, where it currently has over 80,000 views. And those viewers include some Congressman who are rightfully ticked off. Last week, “Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-Tex) fired off a letter to Cohen & Grigsby demanding an explanation for its advice, as well as going so far as to ask for the names of its clients.” The Congressmen also said that they were looking forward to an explanation of how this was ethical and not fraudulent. Good luck with that one.

Here’s the despicable video, so you can watch for yourself:

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Well that’s one way to make the 405 log jam a bearable commute

the4oh5.jpgJust last week I mentioned, for the first time on this site (I think), “the Kevin and Bean show,” which is the morning show on LA’s KROQ. I love the hell out of that show, and even though I don’t live in LA anymore, I still listen to it almost every day thanks to the wonders of the internet. Anyway, during the call-in portion of their show on Friday morning, a gal called in with an appalling example of the law gone wrong. It’s also quite a funny bit, and worth the three minutes it’ll take you to listen to it. Give er’ a listen:

If you didn’t heed my advice to listen (or if the bandwidth has already been sucked up and you’ve been blocked from listening), I’ll give a quick recap – you can skip on to the next paragraph if you did listen. So Mary was in the car with her husband on LA’s heinous 405, and she decided to go down on him. He wound up in the carpool lane and got pulled over because the cop only saw one head in the car. They didn’t get a ticket for violating the carpool lane rules, but they did get a ticket for some type of sex offense (Mary didn’t mention what the specific crime was). In court, Mary was reamed out by the judge who then found her and her husband guilty. As a result, they both have to register on the sex offender registry, which also means that Mary will lose her job, as she works with kids.

Mary’s appealing this punishment which is certainly the right thing to do in this case, because that outcome is just preposterous. As Bean said on the show: “That is such an absurd overreaction. … That just flies in the face of what the intent is of the sexual offense registry.” No kidding. I mean, sure, I can understand a judge finding it to be in rather poor judgment (for possible bad outcomes of such an act, see, e.g. the infamous scene in Parenthood). But surely this isn’t the type of crime that any of us imagine would get you on the Kiddy Piddler List, right? Since I don’t know what crime she and her husband were convicted of, I don’t know what parameters the judge had in terms of sentencing. But if there was any discretion as to whether or not they should be put on the List, Mary and her hubby will surely win this appeal, because how can you not find that sentence to be an abuse of discretion?

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I bet he wishes that he had come up with the nightmare that is Pauly Shore

theWeasel.jpgA hearty welcome to Nota Bene, a newcomer legal blog focusing on appellate law and criminal litigation. I specifically welcome Nota to the blogosphere at this point in time because I actually didn’t see this story on any of the regular blogs I follow, and you know I can’t resist the opportunity to post a story about a lawsuit between two celebrities. The celebrities in this instance — and you can judge for yourself whether the word properly applies — would be Wes Craven (responsible, of course, for A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, among other things) and Pauly Shore (responsible, of course, for being a “weasel” and for being dead).

Turns out that Craven and Shore are neighbors. And according to the lawsuit filed by Craven last Wednesday, Shore has recently done some renovations and upgrades to his property, including to his house, pool and spa (how does he still have the money to afford a spa? It must be from his mother’s ownership of “The Comedy Store,” right?). Craven alleges that all this work caused a bit of a landslide last December, and that water is now seeping from Shore’s property onto Craven’s, screwing up his land’s stability and lowering his property value. So Wes is suing the Weasel for negligence and nuisance, seeking an unspecified amount in damages. He’s also asking for the rights necessary to make his next film, The Weasel, which is a terrifying account of the trials and tribulations of living next to a washed up comedian and actor who has turned into a zombie weasel.

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The World Was a Better Place to Live — At Least for a Few Hours

164342002-M.jpgWe have great news to report as you are going into the weekend: The most popular (to the blogosphere’s nitwits) and most reviled (to those with a modicum of taste and decency) celebrity blog on the Internet, PerezHilton.com, was temporarily taken off line this week, after X-17 (one of the many paparazzi agencies suing him for copyright infringement) convinced his hosting provider to yank him.

The site was down for several hours on Tuesday, before returning in skeleton form on Wednesday (the archives are absent and comments are not enabled). In the last two weeks, X-17’s lawyers have sent several letters to the Australian hosting provider, Crucial Paradigm, demanding that they discontinue hosting the blog. Crucial told the company that represents Perez that if they received one more notice of copyright infringement, they would be forced to shut ‘er down. Apparently, they got that one more notice. So, to protect their own asses in the case of a lawsuit (Perez is being sued for $7.6 million), they pulled the plug.

On his website, Perez explained to his legions of tiny, tiny brained readers that he was experiencing “temporary technical difficulties and other roadblocks.”

Meanwhile, the more disconcerting piece of the saga, to me at least, is that Blogads.com has decided to host Perez’s site until he can find a suitable replacement. I like Blogads — they are responsible for the ads on the sidebar of this site, and more prominently, on our sister site, Pajiba. But I am concerned, not just because Blogads is enabling blatant copyright infringement, but because the ad service is putting themselves in legal danger. I understand why, I think — Perez brings in over $30,000/week in ad revenue, 30 percent of which goes to Blogads. But now that Blogads has a virtual monopoly on blogger sidebar ads and the income to prove it, I don’t see why they feel compelled to needlessly endanger themselves or further associate their respectable ad service with the likes of Perez for a mere $9,000 a week, which has gotta be a drop in the bucket for those guys by now. So, what’s the deal, Blogads? Was this move made completely for monetary reasons, or are you under the misguided impression (as is Perez) that you are defending the First Amendment and Fair Use laws? Because, you’re really not. A couple of photoshopped coke boogers and scribbled monosyllables does not convert a copyrighted work into a fair use.

(Hat Tip: Evil Beet, for bringing this bit of news to my attention.)

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The Daily Memo - 6/22/07

check.jpgWil Wheaton rightfully calls the prohibition on internet gambling “stupid and intrusive.” (WWdN: In Exile)

check.jpgCongress wants to regulate the robots! (Engadget)

check.jpgDick Cheney’s office is trying to claim that there are instances when the VP’s office shouldn’t be considered an “entity within the executive branch” - I love this administration more and more with every passing day. (the raw story)

check.jpgSeveral of the bigger internet radio stations have planned a “day of silence” for June 26, in protest of the looming hike in royalty rates. (Download Squad)

check.jpgAn Ohio man has filed a lawsuit claiming that red-light cameras are part of an unconstitutional scheme to extort money, and he’d like $3 million, thank you very much. And who’s guilty of extortion here? (Engadget)

check.jpg“A classic Kozinski benchslap.” (Above the Law)

check.jpgA Florida teen has sued a Mickey-D’s franchise owner over the sexual relationship she had with her boss. (Law.com)

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Athletic associations, sentencing guidelines and shareholder lawsuits, oh my!

supreme2.jpgFor the time being, at least, we’ve had to abandon our Supreme Court Updates - life and our real day jobs are just sucking up too much time for me and Dustin. But here are some links relating to yesterday’s three Supreme Court decisions for those who care about such things.

It ain’t often that you see an article on ESPN’s website about the Supremes, but that’s what happens when the Court rules that “athletic associations can enforce limits on recruiting high school athletes without violating coaches’ free speech rights” (that case was Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Assn. v. Brentwood Academy).

Meanwhile the Court also ruled (in Rita v. U.S.) “that a federal criminal sentence within the Guidelines may be presumed to be reasonable when the case is on appeal,” although that presumption is not binding (i.e., it’s rebuttable). Some think this decision “has something for everyone except” for the criminal defendant, and that it’s going to create more confusion, rather than help settle post-Booker sentencing issues. Actually, others also think this is no good for the criminals , noting that this ruling will make “it harder … for most defendants to challenge their federal prison sentences.”

Finally, the Court looked at securities law (in Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues and Rights) and suits filed by investors. The Court held that, in order for a plaintiff to be entitled to a “strong” inference that the defendants acted with a wrongful intent, the underlying inference can’t just be “plausible or reasonable,” but must be “cogent and at least as compelling as any opposing inference” which would suggested that there wasn’t an intent to defraud investors. This is a blow to investors wanting to bring such lawsuits claiming fraudulent business practices, because it makes it harder for the plaintiff’s lawsuit to survive the early stages of litigation. Exciting, ain’t it? Well, the WSJ Law Blog points out some of the “exciting” battle between the Scalia and Stevens over statutory interpretation. In fact, Scalia got downright snarky, citing jade falcons. ….What? That’s not exciting either. Y’all are a difficult bunch to please.


You people just aren’t paying attention

iGetDrunk.jpgBack in April, we presented Common Sense Lesson #139, which was very simple and very clear: “don’t show up to your DUI hearing drunk.” Well it seems that Adam T. Lundgren, a 42-year-old Montana man either (a) is simply a raging drunk (for shame!) or (b) doesn’t read QuizLaw (for shame!).

Last Monday, at about 5:30 p.m., Lundgren was busted for a DUI. The cops released him post-arrest to the custody of a sober friend, but Lundgren wound up coming back into town, drinking some more, and running into a bridge railing a mere four-and-a-half hours later. The double-drunk was captured by witnesses until the cops rolled up to re-arrest him.

And then the kicker - he posted bail late that night, only to show up to his arraignment the next afternoon, drunk again. Third times the charm! Needless to say, this earned him a quick trip right back to the county pokey, where one assumes he tried to figure out how to ferment the jail toilet water so he could keep his buzz going.


“Lawyers F up everything”

kAndB.jpgYesterday morning, on the “Kevin & Bean Show” on LA’s KROQ, the titular Kevin and Bean went on a bit of a tear against their radio station’s lawyers. What’s all the hub-bub?

Well there’s this song getting a lot of play right now called “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s (you can catch the video at the end of this entry). So recently, the Kevin and Bean crew did a parody of the song called “Hey There Vagina.” I thought it was pretty damn hilarious in its crude misogyny, and apparently it was quite a hit with the general KROQ audience (not just the morning Kevin & Bean fans), as the song became the station’s most requested track earlier this week.

But then, all of a sudden, the station stopped playing the tune and it vanished from the KROQ website. Wha’ happened?

Well, as Kevin explained on yesterdays show, “lawyers, when they get involved, screw everything up.” Amen, Kevin. Amen.

In this instance, it seems that the radio station’s lawyers are deathly afraid of the Big Bad Wolf that is the FCC and its infuriatingly vague obscenity rules. So they simply decided, on their own, to make a preemptive strike and tell the station’s management that the song is “obviously obscene” and shouldn’t be touched anymore.

Asked Bean: “Who’s offended by vaginas? …Except maybe for Seacrest?”

Well apparently the KROQ lawyers are offended by vaginas. In fact, when Kevin and Bean said “we’ll bleep out any word that you find offensive,” the lawyers responded by saying “no sir, that won’t cut it - play no version of the song whatsoever.”

It’s utterly despicable when you live in fear, which is all this really is. The lawyers and station management fear the FCC, and fear a challenge which they would assuredly win, so they preemptively back down.

Of course, you want to hear this song, right? Well, here’s “Hey There Vagina:”

Now, as I say, I find this f’ing hilarious. But I could see folks finding it unfunny. I could even see folks finding it offensive. But “offensive” does not equal “obscene.”

In any event, the guy who recorded the track (Psycho Mike) went back into the studio to do the “most innocuous version of the song I could think of.” So here’s the new version, “Hey There How Are Ya:”

Hmmm … I think Psycho Mike might’ve slipped up a little there at the end.

(If the streaming mp3s aren’t working for some reason, you should be able to snag them over at Free To Be LA.)

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What a Loser

loser.gifYou’d expect to see the following lawsuit funnel through the U.S. court system, but Amsterdam? The Netherlands? They’re so reasonable and hi-iiigh minded. Still, a Dutch woman has filed one of the most absurd lawsuits I’ve ever heard about. She sued her country, arguing that she suffered emotional distress over having not won the lottery.

And if you think that’s bizarre, get this: She didn’t even enter. Her neighbors did.

Like everything else in that heathenistic country, the national lottery is screwy, too. Apparently, it works like this: Random zip codes are chosen, and anyone within the zip code who entered the lottery shares the winnings. In this case, the woman who sued, Helene de Gier, lived in a very small town where only seven inhabitants entered the lottery. When their zip code was chosen, those seven neighbors won about $18.6 million apiece.

De Gier filed suit, claiming that the media firestorm that erupted in her small town was an invasion of her privacy (can you imagine the questions? “So, Mrs. de Gier — I bet you feel like a giant jackass, eh?”), and apparently her neighbors even taunted her, including one who had the audacity to buy a Porsche with his winnings and ostentatiously park it in front of his house (gasp!).

My favorite part, however, is that de Gier says that the real distress comes whenever she has to write her zip code, which serves as a huge reminder of what a huge honkin’ loser she is. The thought of the next lottery, she said, was “like a noose around my neck being tightened.”

Anyway, a district court judge rejected the claim. Because he’s not insane.

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Oh Mis-ter Wil-sonnnnnn…

Dennis_menace.jpgLook folks, the next time you want to send your kids outside to play, fine. Before you do, just please do everyone in Long Island a favor: Rip out their tongues so they don’t run afoul of Bayville, NY’s noise code (which is designed to curb “the shouting and crying of peddlers, hawkers and vendors which disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood”).

A Bayville couple could face jail time because angry neighbors claim their daughters play too loudly in their backyard.

William and Rachel Poczatek must enter a plea in village court today after their neighbors complained to the village that the Poczateks’ two daughters, aged 5 and 11, were making too much noise around the family’s pool.

You hear that, you little gremlins? We’re talkin’ to you. And don’t let me catch you messing up my rose bushes! I’ll be damned if that blasted Mrs. Jenkins takes first place again! Mildred! Fetch my slippers, I’m gonna get the hose and show these little miscreants what for!

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The Daily Memo - 6/21/07

check.jpgA Nebraska judge has made a rather poorly thought-out decision to ban the word “rape” from his courtroom. (Slate)

check.jpgLawrence Lessig has decided to move his legal battles away from copyright and the public domain, instead going after corruption. (Lessig Blog)

check.jpgAhahahahah - Tom Sizemore broke down in tears, pleading for a judge not to toss him in the clink. (Zap2It)

check.jpgHoly schnikies - several people are likely to be charged after a Texas crowed attacked and killed the passenger in a car that hit a child (who suffered non-life threatening injuries). (Breitbart.com)

check.jpgTwo farmers have filed a lawsuit against the DEA so that they can grow industrial hemp. (KOMO-TV)

check.jpgQuizLaw story update - the horrible mother who contractually bribed her daughter to schtupp her boyfriend has been sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in the clink. (ABC News)

check.jpgBush unsurprisingly vetoed the stem cell bill that made its way to his desk. (MSNBC)


The important question here is, why an outlet parking lot? He’s a lawyer - surely he can afford the good malls.

outlet.jpg
“A prominent Hunterdon County lawyer who has served as counsel to New Jersey state government allegedly masturbated Friday outside of a minivan in a shopping outlet parking lot.”

The lawyer allegedly committed this act while facing a witness’ vehicle. The article does not say whether the lawyer will try to argue that he was simply leaving a unique “need a lawyer?” message.


We may have to update our TV parody image of the Scalia

scalias.jpgYou have to love The Scalia, you just have to. He was recently up in Canada, ay, participating in a panel on torture and terrorism. One of the Canadian judge’s on the panel (Justice Richard Mosley) made a remark which fired up The Scalia. Said the Canuck Judge: “Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra ‘What would Jack Bauer do?’ “

Well being a “24” fan, there’s just no way The Scalia is going to take such silliness in stride. No sir - he’ll defend Agent Bauer to the bitter end because “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” And most importantly, says Scalia, Bauer’s strong-arm interrogation techniques have proven highly effective on the show:

Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? … Say that criminal law is against him? ‘Youhave the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.
So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we belive in these absolutes?

The panel went on to debate such interrogation tactics, and Justice Mosley got The Scalia fired up again when he said that any government which respects human rights can’t get its hands dirty with torture: “The agents of the state, and the agents of the Canadian state, under the Criminal Code, are very much subject to severe criminal sanction if they would engage in torture.” But the Scalia said it was poppy-cock to make agents play softball.

The excellent article from the Canadian Globe and Mail detailing this story then ends by providing us with this helpful “Gospel according to Jack:”

“Tell me where the bomb is or I will kill your son.”

“I don’t want to bypass the Constitution, but these are extraordinary circumstances.”

“I need to use every advantage I’ve got.”

“If we want to procure any information from this suspect, we’re going to have to do it behind closed doors.”

“I’m talking about doing what’s necessary to stop this warhead from being used against us.”

“When I’m finished with you, you’re gonna wish that you felt this good again.”

“You don’t have any more useful information, do you?”

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Blogosphere Bottom Feeders

TMZ%202006.JPGGod’s honest: I hate TMZ.com. In fact, I hate nearly all websites backed by millions of dollars of corporate money that insist on calling themselves “blogs.” It’s bullshit — it smacks of the Pulp’s “Common People.” You can’t live like “common people” when you’re shitting hundred dollar bills. Call yourself a goddamn website — don’t sully the last shred of respectability the term “blog” has with your salaried staff and an endless budget to spend on “scoops” and paparazzi photos. If you were a real blog, you’d steal the paparazzi photos, take credit for other organization’s “scoops,” and post in your underwear while drinking twice-filtered coffee and scratching your testicles.

Whatever. I mention TMZ.com because they’ve somehow found a way to lower themselves even further into the muck of tabloid amorality by getting their hands on the O.J. Simpson “imaginary confession” book that Harper Collins killed earlier this year after it was inundated by public backlash (it also led to super-twat Judith Regan’s ouster). And, of course, TMZ being what TMZ is (page view whores), they put it online in PDF format.

The problem? Well, as it turns out, the family of Ron Goldman (who was murdered along with Nicole Simpson Brown) potentially owns the copyright to If I Did It? (question mark theirs, not mine). A federal judge has allowed the heirs of Ron Goldman to go after the copyright because it’s part of O.J.’s bankruptcy estate (which he tried to shield) and TMZ, by posting the book online, potentially diminished the value of the copyright. To be fair, the Goldmans are kind of scummy too — they purportedly want to publish the book themselves and market it as a real O.J. Simpson confession, because it’s apparently fun to profit off the dead.

At any rate, TMZ.com — which likely got the book from a file sharing service — claims that it did nothing wrong. A court-appointed bankruptcy judge disagrees and wants to hold the website in contempt. But, really, how much more contemptible can you be? TMZ has kind of bottomed out in that regard.

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God Save the Myspace Generation

myspace.gifThis, folks, is just how pathetically central the role of Myspace is in the lives of teenagers these days. Out in Indiana, a severely messed up 15-year-old kid had an argument with his Ma. When police arrived to check out the disturbance, Tyler Dumstorf opened fire, ultimately killing one cop and seriously injuring another (damn).

Of course, shooting and killing a police officer (R.I.P. Frank Denzinger) didn’t stop Dumstorf from posting on his Myspace page. After the shooting, Tyler ran back inside his house, and left a message stating, “I just killed two cops. Goodbye.” Tyler then shot and killed himself.

According to his Myspace page, Tyler was a fan of classic rock, so I suppose there will be an inevitable lawsuit blaming Lynyrd Skynyrd for the shooting.

It’s also kind of weird that Tyler’s “Myspace friends” are still posting messages to him — er … he can’t hear you, folks. He’s taken the Stairway to Heav … Hell.

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No, Sir, You May Kindly Go F Yourself

cheney_short_of_breath.jpgI used to argue against the occasional unemployment benefits claim as part of my old job, so let me see if I can remember the relevant standard: As I recall, you are entitled to benefits if you are laid off or fired, unless you were fired for misconduct.

It’s that “fired for misconduct” element that applies to the case of Douglas Williams, an employee at a Minnesota car wash. Apparently, what had happened was this: Williams was washing cars, minding his own business, when the sales manager requested that he go clean up the cigarette butts in the parking lot.

Williams, who had the flu that unusually busy day, responded in the manner that many of us might when asked to clean up cigarette butts. He said he was busy and told the sales manager that he should kindly “go fuck himself.”

He was fired for insubordination. And, given the standard, his unemployment claim would seem an open and shut case. Telling one’s boss to “go fuck himself” certainly seems to fit within the definition of misconduct. But the Minnesota Court of Appeals disagreed, granting benefits. The court stated that Williams should “not [be] disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits because his conduct was a single incident that did not have a significant adverse impact on the employer.”

You hear that, folks? As long as it doesn’t have a “significant adverse impact on the employer,” in Minnesota at least, you all have one freebie. So, in honor of Doug Williams, we officially pronounce that today is QuizLaw’s Fuck Your Boss Day. Do yourself a solid, and when your bossman or bosswoman asks you to do something you don’t want to do, tell them to “go fuck themselves.”

You’ll feel better. And if you get fired, rest easy knowing that unemployment benefits will not be deprived.* Besides, you can hardly hold it against Williams – he was just following the moral standard that our vice-president established not so long ago.

* This should not, in any way, be construed as legal advice. Please refer to our disclaimer.

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The Daily Memo - 6/20/07

check.jpgTwo guys tried to avoid drug charges by using an in-car rocket to launch away the evidence of their two pounds of meth. Sadly, the rocket was an apparent dud. (Gizmodo)

check.jpgSigh … Shar Jackson is planning to sue Star Magazine because it claimed that K-Fed knocked her up again. Were I her, I’d sue her judgment for letting K-Fed stick it in her again.(The Superficial)

check.jpgSeems that Paris Hilton’s prosecutor suffers from a touch of the heeby-hypocrisies. (CNN)

check.jpgOverlawyered is seriously trying to argue that the $67 $54 million pants lawsuit isn’t frivolous? That’s just crazy talk. (Overlawyered)

check.jpgIf you’re gonna’ get arrested for stealing your girlfriend’s car anyway, why not also huck a brick at her? (TBO.com)

check.jpgFour students are suing ITT Technical Institute after learning that the University of Houston won’t accept their technical school credits. (Houston Chronicle)

check.jpgAn LA judge has refused to approve the $49 million Bar/Bri settlement. (WSJ Law Blog)

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Common Sense Lesson #148

glawson.jpgThat charmer to the right is Richard Glawson. Last month, he was on trial for a bunch of charges relating to a weeklong crime spree he apparently decided to partake in back in 2001. Well he was convicted of those charges, and now he’s got brand-spanking new charges to deal with. Some of those charges stem from something he allegedly said to the jury during that last trial.

That something?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I’ll kill all of you if you find me guilty of any one charge, and that goes for your family, too.

He’s also facing charges for punching a juror from another trial of his, and for beating on a court officer.

I mean, seriously folks. When you’re facing criminal charges, treat your juries (and court officers) well. Don’t punch them. Don’t beat on them. And definitely don’t threaten them in open court. It’s just not going to work out in your favor.

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No, seriously, you can totally stop

Seems that Hillary is learning from opponent Barack Obama’s success with the online video thing. So she tapped into her acting chops in creating this “The Sopranos” spoof video as a way to introduce what song has been selected as her official campaign song. I’ll give her credit for at least making a relatively timely spoof, but the creepy guest-spot doesn’t make much sense within the video’s context. But whatever. Ultimately, I’m just happy to see Bubba again.

(And so that you need not actually go to her site, I’ll ruin the surprise and tell you that the campaign chose … *shudder* … Celine Dion’s “You and I.”)


Hc619-tm
Uploaded by hotternews

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Shenanigans have officially been declared!

shenani.jpgIt comes as no surprise to us that QuizLaw made the final cut in Legal Antic’s “funniest law blog” poll. When Dustin pointed out the early results to me, however, it did come as a surprise that “Phila Lawyer” had taken a commanding lead, considering that its 723 votes are probably more than the number of readers the blog actually has, coupled with the fact that I hadn’t even heard of the site before this poll (please note that I’m not commenting on the substantive quality of the site’s humor because, truthfully, I haven’t managed to make it through any of the terribly long posts I’ve tried to read thus far). It was at this point that Dustin expressed his desire to declare shenanigans, and I agree. So:

“Shenanigans!”

Of course, Legal Antic’s proprietor, Nicole Black, also knows the results are a little suspect, as she’s already updated the entry to discuss the “minor league ‘voter fraud’” going on. But I’m also declaring shenanigans on Above the Law being in second place. To be sure, I love David Lat’s blog, but I don’t really think of it as a particularly funny legal blog, despite the occasional good humor over there. I think he’s in second place (and rightfully in first place, when you take out the voter fraud) simply because he shamelessly plugged the poll (and I take no issue with that whatsoever), and ATL gets quite a bit of traffic. So he’s gonna’ get more votes than the littler blogs just based on traffic numbers, regardless of the relative humor of the sites in the running.

Is this declaration of shenanigans nothing more than sour grapes? No matter how much I protest that it’s really not, I’m sure some of you will say “yuh-huh” anyway, so feel free. But that doesn’t change the declaration.

In any event, while I would normally make a similar-to-Lat’s plea for all our wonderful readers to get out the vote, I’m not particularly motivated to do so in this instance. Feel free to throw a vote our way, and I have no doubt some of our faithful readers will do so anyway, but we won’t cry if you don’t. And for the record, in the now-improbably chance that we do actually win, I would ask Nicole to donate $20 to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (my pet legal charity project) in QuizLaw’s name, rather than buying us some silly Billable Hour trinket.

(And also for the record, I do think there are some worthy contenders on that list, particularly Overlawyered. And while I haven’t read much on the site yet, big ups to Buffalo Wings & Vodka for the excellent blog title.)

Update: I’ve been told that Nicole isn’t actually purchasing anything from Billable Hour for the winner and that, rather, it’s just The Billable Hour donating something as a sponsor of the contest. So scratch my attempted altruism, I guess.

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Theater of Pain

Theatre_of_Pain.jpgI know I’ve been tasked with taking care of our liberal female readership this afternoon, but when one of our colleagues over on Pajiba has besmirched the good name of Tommy Lee, it just won’t do to let it stand without adequate rebuttal.

As TMZ reported, Motley Crue — the fourth best hair band of all time (1. Bon Jovi; 2. Def Leppard; 3. Poison) is suing their former business manager, Carl Stubner, and management group for allegedly giving the band bad business advice. According to lawsuit:

Stubner forced Tommy Lee to “to become engaged in ‘reality’ projects that were bad career moves for Lee, harming [Sixx, Mars, Neil and Lee], the Motley Crue brand and Lee’s own image.” The suit calls the low-rated NBC show “Tommy Lee Goes to College” a “critical disappointment and a ratings disaster,” adding it painted Lee as “incoherent, lazy and incompetent” and made him “look like a laughing stock who could not carry a drum beat.” The suit also claims Lee’s participation on “Rock Star: Supernova” “diminished the public’s interest in Lee and their overall perception of his musical talents.”

As a result, the suit claims, Motley Crue lost out on over $8 million that the band would’ve made had it not had to cancel tour dates because of scheduling conflicts with Lee’s reality projects.

Which brings me to the statement that Litelysalted had the audacity to write over on Yeeeah!

The only reason why anyone (aside from 39 year old dishwashers living in their mom’s basements) gives a flying shit about Motley Crue or Tommy Lee is because he married a playmate, made a sex tape, and most likely contracted Hep-C.

What? Now, hang on a second. Back the fuck up. Clearly, Litely, you weren’t of age between 1981-89, because in addition to Hep C and a marriage to Heather Locklear, Tommy Lee used to be able to — hang on to your hat — twirl his drumsticks, throw them in the air like a baton, and catch them, at least half the time. Can you do that? No. I didn’t think so. Also, from his drumset at the back of the stage, he could spit beer 15-20 feet into the crowd (I ought to know — I got spat upon more times than I care to remember). Not just any gangly-ass, VD-ridden, drugged-up has-been drummer could once spew Bud Light that far. And the band was responsible for the most romantic song of the entire 80s: “She Goes Down.”

Damn, Litely — you just don’t appreciate talent, do you?

[I would personally put the Crue as the number one hair band of all time, but that difference aside, I wholly join Dustin in his public scolding of Litely - shame on you, woman. Shame. On. You. —Seth]

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And the Hits Just Keep Coming for AutoAdmit

06.23%20NPR-cvr.jpgWe’ve discussed this topic in the past on several occasions, but — in light of today’s NPR’s piece — it warrants another post. As Seth mentioned last week in linking to Concurring Opinion’s rundown, two unidentified female law students have filed suit against several posters on the message board, Autoadmit, claiming that their “character, intelligence, appearance and sexual lives have been thoroughly trashed by the defendants,” Anthony Scioli (who recently had a job offer withdrawn because of the site) and the posters responsible for writing various vile messages. And seriously — the messages weren’t just misogynistic, they were downright repugnant to the human race.

The contemptible nature of the messages is further highlighted in NPR’s piece (media player required, but it’s definitely worth the listen), if only because it’s shocking to hear even the cleaner posts read aloud (that the females had “herpes” or “slept their way through graduate school”). The two law students are suing for $200,000, claiming that, because of the message board, they were unable to land jobs (Google searches of their names would lead to the AutoAdmit posts, including one in which a poster hoped the plaintiff “would get raped and die”).

Eugene Volokh expresses doubt as to whether the posts cost the law students their jobs, and, undoubtedly, the lawsuit has little chance of success. Unfortunately, the laws simply aren’t in place to protect the students from such anonymous attacks. Brian Leiter, a UT Austin law prof who has spearheaded the anti-AutoAdmit movement, offers an interesting solution (and one that we suggested in jest a while back as well): To find out the names of the posters and write about them, allowing the “marketplace to exact its own penalties.”

In the piece, one of the owners defended the site, stating that there were just too many messages to moderate, so they shouldn’t be held responsible for what unmoderated commenters state. But, honestly, that’s bullshit. Jarett Cohen told us that he has taken down posts in the past, and said he would’ve taken down many of the posts that are central to this lawsuit if only he’d gotten an apology first. He didn’t, so he didn’t. And that’s why he’s getting his ass sued.

And if the names of those posters are ever revealed, you can bet your ass we’ll be one of the first to highlight them — nothing would bring me more satisfaction than to ensure that they never get a decent job.

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The Daily Memo - 5/19/07

check.jpgSome links about yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions, which are … conspicuously … absent from the typical QuizLaw coverage. (SCOTUSblog)

check.jpgAnd where, oh where, have the SCOTUS school cases gone? (Concurring Opinions)

check.jpgNinento Nintendo has been sued over the capacitors in its Wii, which isn’t nearly as naughty as third-graders might think it sounds. (Engadget)

check.jpgA ruling is expected next week in the now-concluded yet always-ludicrous $54 million pants lawsuit. (CNN)

check.jpgA California woman has filed a lawsuit over contact lens solution that was recalled, and she wants it to be a class-action suit representing not those who were injured by using the solution, but simply those who had to play along with the recall. (KLBJ)

check.jpgYou know, taking religious freedoms from prisoners doesn’t seem like the best plan I’ve ever heard of. (The Chicago Sun-Times)

check.jpgBugger! It’s about to become illegal to chop up corpses in Iowa. (Des Moines Register)

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They’re always after me lucky charms!

prisonbreak.jpgFrom Scotsman.com via Fark.com, let’s give this a shot, folks: The firstest ever Quizlaw Real Time Review!! (patent pending)

A convicted killer has gone on the run from HMP Castle Huntly three months after being transferred to the open prison.

**Oooh, this should be good. Wait, “open prison”? Isn’t that kinda’ contradictory? Oh well…

Tayside Police confirmed George McKay, 55, absconded from the prison, near Dundee, on 10 May.

**”Absconded”…I feel smarter after having read this. Hold on, May 10th? And they’re just reporting this NOW?

He is one of three inmates reported to have gone on the run in the last week.

**So I guess Larry and Moe must still be on the lamb. I hated Schemp…

McKay, originally from Glasgow, was given a life sentence in 1975 after being convicted of murder.

**Natch.

He failed to return to the prison after being granted home leave, but details of his absconding have only now been revealed.

**”Now, listen heerrrr McKay, ya go’ 7 days leave if ya promise tah be a guhd boy and come straight back now, ya go’ it?” (Abscond-2, Scotts-0)

McKay also absconded from Edinburgh’s Saughton Prison 14 years ago.

**This guy’s more slippery than greased haggis
**Abscond-3, Scotts-0

Last night the Tories called for an urgent review of the rate of abscondings from the Dundee prison, one of Scotland’s main open jails.

**This whole “open jails” idea? Not really working that well, is it?
**Abscond-4, Scotts-0

Bill Aitken, the Tory MSP for Glasgow and the Scottish Conservative’s justice spokesman, said: “Open prisons do have a place in the prison estates, but in the case of Castle Huntly, the abscondee rate is far too high and the situation clearly needs to be looked at again.”

**Hold the phone. You mean to say there’s an acceptable abscondee rate?? Someone’s been hitting the pubs a bit too hard, if you ask me.
**Abscond-5, Scotts-0

A spokeswoman for Tayside Police explained that McKay had been transferred to Castle Huntly in February of this year. She continued: “On 3 May he was granted a temporary release license allowing him home leave on the condition he return to Castle Huntly on 10 May.”

**Because we all know that murderers are men of their word, don’t we?I mean, if you can’t trust a homicidal maniac, then the terrorists have alread won.

“Mr McKay failed to return and the prison authorities alerted Tayside Police. Despite extensive police enquiries, Mr McKay has evaded recapture.”

**Ye’ll never catch me Lucky Charms!! Faith and Begora, bastards!!

**Final Score: Abscond-5, Scotts-0.

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Women’s Rights We Can All Agree On

beerWench.jpg(Hat tip to reader Three Elle for the entry title).

So dig this - Jill Coccaro is going to get $29,000 from the City of New York for showing off her breasts. She was arrested back in 2005 for taking a “topless stroll,” an arrest she challenged on the basis of a 1992 state court ruling that women are entitled to the same shirtless rights as men. She was held in custody for twelve hours before finally being released without any charges being filed.

So Coccaro went after the city, claiming civil rights violations for her wrongful arrest and subsequent poor treatment - her lawsuit, filed last October, claimed “that a police officer yanked her out of a patrol car by her hair and police took her to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.”

But with this settlement now in place, that lawsuit is a thing of the past and Coccaro is free to once again wander the streets with her ladies in full form. Which we here at QuizLaw fully support (there’s a pun in there about “support,” to be sure, but I’m far too classy to make it).

Oh, and the highlight of this story, aside from the bare breasts bit (“bare breasts bit” — alliteration at its finest folks!) is that Coccaro has since changed her name to Phoenix Feeley.

…You know, this morning’s posts have been quite heavy on the piggish testosterone, with the breasts and the porn and the Kristy Swanson. Hey Dustin, try to take care of our feminists and lady friends this afternoon, would you?


It’s a difficult job, but somebody’s gotta do it!

videos.jpgLorin Duckman, a Vermont attorney, will aggressively represent his client, no matter what he has to do for said client. Take this story, for example:

Attorney Lorin Duckman represents Brian Rooney in a sexual assault case unrelated to the aggravated murder charge Rooney is facing in the death of 21-year-old Michelle Gardner-Quinn of Arlington, Va.
During a status conference Friday [June 8], Duckman told Vermont District Court Judge Michael Kupersmith it was taking him longer than expected to go through the evidence against his client.
Duckman said he didn’t want to interview witnesses who hadn’t seen the images until he had gone through all of them.

That evidence Duckman has to rigorously poor through? “Hundreds of hours of sexually explicit videos,” some of which are tapes with his client on them while others are commercial videos. Duckman pooh-poohs the suggestion that an investigator could look through all the videos because it’s his obligation to go through the “hundreds and hundreds” of hours of porn video.


I have three reasons for writing this post, and none are particularly admirable

kSwan.jpgKristy Swanson.

“Who dat,” you ask?

She’s that attractive little blonde over there on the right. You might remember her from such films as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Mannequin: On the Move (the sequel that the original Mannequin simply begged for!) or … uhm … yeah, those two movies.

Most recently, Swanson played an Anna-Nicole type on an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” and before that, she was on that show you watched and loved, “Skating with Celebrities” (you did watch it and love it, no?). Anyway, she made headlines yesterday after getting herself arrested on Saturday night in Canada, of all places, after getting into a fight. Seems that she is dating Lloyd Eisler, her figure skating partner on “Skating.” Also seems that Eisler’s ex, one Marcia O’Brien, isn’t a Buffy fan and allegedly assaulted Swanson as she was on the move to give one of O’Brien and Eisler’s kids a pacifier. However, O’Brien hasn’t been charged, while Swanson had to head into the police station to deal with assault charges. So the story doesn’t quite add up.

But none of this really matters. As I said in the title, I’m posting this story for three other reasons. First there’s this one-two punch from the end of the story detailing this meeting:

Swanson and Eisler, 44, met in 2006 while filming the television reality series “Skating With Celebrities.” Eisler eventually left his pregnant wife for Swanson, creating a scandal in the skating world. Their son Magnus Hart Swanson Eisler was born in February.

I love that this was a “scandal in the skating world” because, frankly, I think the skating world is a world that needs more scandals. But I really love that the kid’s name is Magnus. That’s just great.

The second reason I posted this is so that I could make the following joke, entirely unapologetically:

While it appears that Swanson’s career has taken such a dive that she can’t even get arrested in Hollywood, the same doesn’t seem to apply in Canada!

Hey-ooooooo!

And lastly, and most importantly, Swanson also recently appeared in Playboy. Which gives me the excuse to post this salacious picture of the lovely Ms. Swanson (and slightly more NSFW pictures are available via our friends over at I Don’t Like You In That Way):

kSwan2.jpg

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Pedro Full of Grace

liberty.jpgThe new (*cough*) and improved (*ha*) U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement Department is ramping up its efforts, not only to keep Hispanics out of the country, but to help move along Social Darwinism in the United States. No longer do you have to be an illegal immigrant to be deported, now mental retardation gets you the boot, as well!

Such was the case for Pedro Guzman, a mentally disabled, 29-year-old U.S. citizen who, after being arrested for misdemeanor trespassing, was deported to Mexico. His mother is now frantically searching for him and has, with the help of the ACLU, brought suit against the Department of Homeland Security and the L.A. County Sheriff’s department. Guzman was born in California, which makes him a citizen — and police could’ve learned that by simply cross-checking his criminal record, checking his birth certificate, or, you know, listening to Guzman, who told the police he was a U.S. citizen.

But, you know how Homeland Security is these days — revved up and ready to get rid of anyone. And they saw a mentally retarded man and their eyes bulged: “He’s brown and retarded?! Holy Shit — If we get rid of this guy, a real-life Republican politician may give me a pat on the head!”

Well, if you’re going after the retards, I know a certain starletard in an L.A. prison who could use a little deportation action — if you pull off that feat, I’ll come by and pat you on the head, Mr. Homeland Security Guy.

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I Double Dog Dare You!

dbldogdare.jpgMan — I love dares. Or, I used to anyway. I remember fondly a time back in high school when some classmates dared me to ask a girl wearing fishnet stockings, “How much do you charge?” That was a fun day — especially the boot I took to the lip when Ms. Fishnet told her boyfriend.

But that’s nothing compared to this dare: “Police said the incident began when the 17-year-old friend taunted the 18-year-old with a gun, saying the 18-year-old would not shoot him.”

Guess what? “The 18-year-old then shot his friend in the thigh.”

Ha! Seventeen-year-old boys should know that 18-year-old boys never back down from a dare. The 18-year-old was arrested for aggravated battery, but if I were him, I’d argue duress at trial. There is nothing an 18-year-old won’t do if the request is appended with, “I double dog dare you.” It’s like sticking a terrible script under Nic Cage’s nose — What do you think is gonna happen? He’s gonna star in it, of course.


The Daily Memo - 6/18/07

check.jpgWhat do the lambada and the electric slide have to do with congressional testimony? (Slate)

check.jpgOf steroids and jury duty. (Deadspin)

check.jpgTwo writers are suing Dreamworks, claiming that the studio ripped off their idea in making the “Las Vegas” tv show. (TV Squad)

check.jpgWill the SPY Act actually make it harder for folks to protect themselves against spyware and malware? (Download Squad)

check.jpgA Canadian judge has ruled that a man can’t have a girlfriend for the next three years because he beat on his last girlfriend. (FindLaw)


Bans to the left of me, bans to the right of me

minikiss.jpgCalifornia is considering a ban on so-called imposter bands. You know, cover bands that focus on one band’s material, actually pretending to be that band - like Minikiss, the midget KISS cover band. It seems that Cali is looking to join twelve other states that have similar laws banning performances of such tribute bands, and supporters of such legislation would surely take offense to my calling them tribute bands in the first place. Such supporters argue that these bands are just imposters, trading off nostalgia at the expense of the actual artists’ earning potential. But what gets me is that the California push is being spearheaded by the former frontman for Sha Na Na. Is there anyone who is actually interested in seeing Sha Na Na, the real version or a tribute band?

Meanwhile, Seattle’s City Facilities Department is considering a ban on microwave popcorn. The reason is that folks don’t know how to cook their popcorn properly, it seems, and the Justice Center has been evacuated eight times in the last three years, because of the smell of burnt corns. Maybe it’s time to focus on hiring a bit more, you know, get some folks with enough common sense to figure out how to pop some kernels?

While these two bans are only “on the table,” our last ban is official and on the books. In Delcambre, Louisiana, it is now officially illegal for you to wear saggy pants. If you wear pants that, in fact, show undergarments or other parts of your body meant to be properly covered up, you could wind up with a $500 fine and up to six months in the clink. The Mayor’s advice for those who take issue with this law? Suck it up:

Just wear it properly. Cover your vital parts. I mean, if you expose your private parts, you’ll get a fine. If you walk up and your pants drop, you get a fine. They’re better off taking the pants off and just wearing a dress.

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Who knew the flat tax was back in the headlines again?

non-seq-6-15-07.jpg

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


Bathroom doors?

handle.jpgOk, this story is a touch old at this point, but it’s too stupid to not be worth mentioning. Two weeks ago, a committee of the Massachusetts state legislature decided to take a look at a very important bill. The Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight was spending its important time looking at a bill filed by State Representative James Valee, on behalf of one of his constituents, Douglas Flavin. And what does Flavin want?

Why, nothing more than a law requiring all public restroom doors to open outward rather than inward.

His wife says it’s a disease prevention issue, because folks could open doors with their knee or elbow, instead of with the handle. Which is absolutely idiotic - most folks wash their hands before leaving the bathroom, meaning the door handles on the inside of the bathroom doors are relatively clean. At least in comparison to the handles on the outside of the door, which are touched almost exclusively by pre-bathroom unwashed hands. And with outward-swinging doors, the only way to open the door to get into the bathroom is by touching the well-diseased handle.

Oh, yeah, and it’s also an extreme waste of the legislature’s resources and, were it to pass, an utter waste of public works. That too. But thanks for playing Mr. and Mrs. Flavin.

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Hey guys? I was just kidding. We’re cool, right?

policesearch.gifAssociated Press - June 14, 2007 West Charleston, Vt. -

The Vermont State Police says a four-hour search in West Charlestown launched after (Steve Austin) said he’d been shot by a stranger cost up to $20,000.

…But Austin later told police he accidentally shot himself in the knee while target practicing behind his home…Austin could face charges for making a false report.

I’m not sure about you loyal QuizLaw readers, but I think my own guilt would have kicked in around the time that the state police, game wardens, and sheriffs deputies were called in and just before the Border Patrol agents, including four dogs and a Border Patrol helicopter were brought in.

When reached for a comment on the $20,000.00 price tag on the search, Austin said “I got $5 on it….”

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I Got a Crush on Obama …

And this is why Barack Obama will win the nomination over Mike Gravel: Obama Girl.

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Your Dead Hooker and You

hclements_prostitute.jpgAll right now: Think back to the worst date you’ve ever had in your entire life. Multiply it by a billion, and maybe it’s almost as bad as an unidentified Seattle man, who hired a prostitute back in mid May. After toking up and having sex with the 47-year-old woman, the Seattle man decided to go to 7-11 to get some beer. His hooker friend stayed behind to take a bath.

Unfortunately, when the man returned about 20 minutes later, he discovered the woman in his bathtub. Dead. He panicked. He slapped her around in an effort to revive her, but she wouldn’t wake.

So, this Seattle man did what anyone would do in his position – he hung out in his apartment and got drunk for the next three days, trying to come up with a plan for what to do with the lady-ho’s body. At one point, even, he climbed out his apartment window and began digging a hole in the back, but had a change of heart, returning to run the dead woman a cold bath, so that her body wouldn’t decompose.

Eventually, after three days, he called his boss and they phoned the police, who came to fetch the waterlogged body. And believe it or not, pending a toxicology report, there is no suspicion of foul play. In fact, though it is a misdemeanor not to report a death in Washington, police have so far declined to press charges.

Best of all, the story gives me the opportunity to present this video entitled, “Your Dead Hooker and You.” Enjoy.

Your Dead Hooker and You |Funny Jokes at JibJab

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The Daily Memo - 6/14/07

check.jpgLat manages to find a legal angle to gynecomastia, or man-boob reduction. (Above the Law)

check.jpgSmokin’ Hot Ann Althouse discusses porn stars actors with Premiere’s film critic (stupid film critics). (Althouse)

check.jpgThe latest developments in the Genarlow Wilson case — the (racist) AG (irrationally) fears the (legitimate) Chi-Mo’s are gonna break through the prison bars. (AJC)

check.jpgIn Massachusetts, the gays win again(!) — gay marriage legal for the foreseeable future. (Boston.com)

check.jpgIf you have the inclination, do us a solid, and vote QuizLaw the funniest legal blog. (Legal Antics)


Silence Speaks Louder than Words Sanity

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel is running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States next year. Here’s his latest campaign ad.

Yeah. But where does he stand on miniskirts?


Girls Gone Stupid

girlsgonewildflyer5qs1.jpg

Here are the top five celebrities I loathe the most, in order of despicableness:

1. Perez Hilton
2. Paul Haggis
3. Brian Robbins
4. Joe Francis
5. Paris Hilton

With that said, I don’t hate anyone enough to unfairly hold them accountable for the stupidity of others, even if one of the above five were enablers of that stupidity. Brian Robbins is perhaps the worst director in Hollywood, but I can hardly blame him because millions of idiots want to run out and see Norbit (which he directed) or Wild Hogs (which he produced). Likewise, Francis’ “Girls Gone Wild” series is perhaps one of the most blatantly misogynistic, culturally damaging series of our time, and there are certain instances where he despicably manipulates underage girls to be in them for which he does deserve a splintered broomstick up his ass.

But then again, many of the participants in the “Girls Gone Wild” videos, who are starting to go after Francis through the court system now, really don’t have much of a legal leg to stand on. The civil court system was designed to right legal wrongs – or to make people “whole” again. It should not, however, be a substitute for personal responsibility. Such is the case here, where two Florida women are suing Francis, claiming that Francis lured them into their van, offered them alcohol (even though they were underage), and then coerced them into exposing themselves and feeling one another up. They were allegedly promised that they wouldn’t be featured in any future “Girls Gone Wild,” videos, though they undoubtedly signed a release, which they claim can’t be binding because they were drunk at the time.

So, okay – not to excuse Francis, because he really should be shoved down a well hole into Hell, but c’mon: Those free T-shirts likely said “Girls Gone Wild” on them, and if the guy filming you is also the cameraman for “Girls Gone Wild,” what do you think is gonna happen, ladies? What, really, tipped you off? The video camera in your face? Or the consent form you state you signed while you were drunk? Use some freakin’ common sense, you know? Don’t pull up your shirts and play grab-ass with your girlfriend in front of a video camera if you don’t want it to be aired to the world. If you’d done that in front of half the guys in America holding a video camera, the footage would’ve been released somewhere, whether you signed a consent form or not. If you want someone to blame because your mommy saw your boobies on TV, blame your own goddamn self for flashing them in front of strangers.

But then again, what the hell do I care? Sue the bastard. Merits or not, take him for all the son of a bitch is worth.

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Question: What do these three stories have in common?

paris3.jpgIn Seattle, Washington, an unidentified man stood over his bathroom sink yesterday morning, clipped his toenails, and swabbed his inner ears with Q-Tips. Briefly, he had ear wax lodged in his left ear, which muffled his ability to hear for about 12 minutes, until he successfully dislodged the small clump by slapping his palm against his right ear.

In the town I grew up in, a new noise ordinance was passed. Eight of the town’s nine alderman voted in favor of it. It prohibits excessive noise between 10 p.m. and dawn Monday through Saturday, with certain exceptions, like emergency vehicle sirens.

In Lynwood, California yesterday, Paris Hilton was transferred out of the medical ward and into the normal all-women’s prison facility in Los Angeles. She is serving the 12th day of her likely 23-day sentence today.

Answer: I don’t give a shit about any of the three. Unfortunately, that last item – which is no more or no less interesting than the first two items, greeted me at nearly every motherfucking website I visited this morning.

You brought this on yourself, America. Now make it stop. Please.

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I must not fear. Fear is the mindkiller…

trashcan.jpgHiding in a trash can. Making out with a hot total stranger. Putting on a plastic green derby and blending into the crowd at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade so you can continue your search for the one armed man. All these are tested and proven methods of avoiding police detection. But what does Francisco Correra Jr. do?

(CBS) BRONX An astonishing attempted escape from the police in the Bronx Wednesday morning left a suspect dangling from the side of a high-rise, 23 stories above the ground.

Attempting to avoid detection after violating an order of protection, police pursued the Teenage Mutant Retard Felon Correra to a high-rise where he employed the ancient art of Holy Crap Fu.

Correra was eventually pulled in after police broke through the window guard. He was charged with violation of a protection order and assault.

His father was charged with breeding an idiot.

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The Daily Memo - 6/14/07

check.jpgAnother lawsuit between two lawyers over season tickets. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgA man has pleaded guilty to spamming AOL users with over 1.2 million junk e-mails, and now faces up to 11 years in the clink. (Download Squad)

check.jpgLast month, a homeless man won a lawsuit against NY’s loitering law, getting a ruling that it violated his First Amendment rights. (Newsday)

check.jpgIs the deceased mayor of Rosemont, Illinois haunting a tree? (CNN)

check.jpgThe big law firms are struggling to keep women attorneys in their graps as the ladies flee for better lives in a variety of alternate career paths. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgBen Stein is getting into bed with Senatorial candidate/comedian Al Franken? (Professor Bainbridge)

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“Big Love,” meet reality

Big%20Love.jpgHBO’s great show “Big Love,” about a polygamist living with his three wives in a suburban Utah town, just started its second season on Monday night. (Spoiler alert - move on to the next paragraph if you haven’t seen it yet but plan to.) And the big cliffhange from Season One was that Bill Henrickson and his wives had been more-or-less outed. The issue was basically resolved in Monday’s episode after Henrickson met with the state attorney general (or a representative from the office) and was told that they wouldn’t be going after Henrickson. Basically, Bill was told, as long as you keep quiet and don’t take underage wives, we’ve got bigger things to worry about. Well it seems that fact and fiction are on the same basic page here.

Attorneys General in both Utah and Arizona have apparently said that they “had no intention of prosecuting polygamists unless they commit other crimes such as taking underage brides.” Arizona’s AG said, in what is a shocking sentiment to come from our government these days: “We are not going to go out there and persecute people for their beliefs.” Unsurprisingly, while polygamists welcome this stance, they are worried by the lack of any legal protection, meaning they could still be targets at any time.

(Hat tip to Concurring Opinions.)


Well, at least he’s not naked…

From yesterday’s “Non Sequitur” (care of GoComics):


ns-6.13.2007.jpg


Hold onto your pants here - turns out the rich folk don’t like us plebeians

beach.jpgBack in the ’70s, California smartly enacted the California Coastal Act of 1976. Among other things, this Act generally guarantees that people can get from public roads to the public beaches. But the rich people who live on wildly expensive beachfront properties don’t like all this public access business, so they put up signs of the “stay off my land, punks” and “step on my sand, I step on your face” variety. And this practice is getting so rampant that the California Coastal Commission sees a “huge problem” looming. In fact, here’s how bad it is - residents have been so effective at this attempt to keep folks off the beaches in Malibu “that unfortunate beachgoers occasionally get ticketed” (in other words, the law enforcement people either don’t realize that those signs don’t represent the actual law, or they’re more interested in keeping their rich local citizenry happy).

I wish I were back in high school again, and going to high school in LA. I’d organize a huge school-wide beach bonfire, and plant down right in front of the most expensive beachfront Malibu house I could find. We wouldn’t be obnoxiously loud or drunk or anything like that - we’d just keep traveling back and forth and all around, just knowing that our mere presence was taking years off the lives of the poor poor rich people who just don’t want to be near commoners like us.


The Latest in Parenting …

rope.jpgBack in the day, parents used to punish their children with a simple spanking — when I was a kid, if we did bad, my parents used blunt force punishment — paddles, the occasional belt, and, every once in a while, a switch (which we had to pick from a tree ourselves). These days, corporal punishment is mostly a no-no, so parents have turned to the time out — an hour or so locked away in a bedroom with no social contact. Personally, I would’ve welcomed time outs — and, apparently, their effectiveness is waning.

So, some parents are turning to more effective forms of time-outs. We’ve previously discussed the duct tape method — simply duct taping your child to a hard surface and leaving for the day. Well, a Tennessee mother has come up with another twist — the rope method. Rachel Gilchrist and her partner were simply trying to enjoy a delicious meal at Cracker Barrel (oh, how good are their chicken and dumplings, eh?), when their child began acting up. And not wanting to let a good meal go to waste, they put their six-year-old boy in a time-out. However, not having a bedroom to lock him away in, they did the next best thing, really. They took him out to their SUV, stuck him in the front seat, and tied a rope around his ankle so he couldn’t escape. Genius, right? Never mind that it was a sweltering 80 degrees outside. The kid got what was coming to him, damnit.

Of course, Gilchrist and her partner also got what was coming to them, after the boy was found in the car crying, sweating enough to soak through his shirt. As a result, Gilchrist and her partner were given their own time out — police put them in the pokey, charging them with cruelty to children. Though her partner was released yesterday on bail, Gilchrist still remains in time-out. I hope they turn off the AC in her cell.

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Indeed …

pariscartoon5.jpg

Link via Celebitchy


HuckaFuck ….

huckabee.jpgHere is a prime example of how Arkansas politics used to work: Back in 1993, after Clinton ascended to the presidency, then Lt. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (real name) took his position as governor of the state, and a special election was scheduled for Lieutenant Governor. Seeing this as an opportunity to make a name for ourselves, me and this other senior in high school — virtually by ourselves — threw up some fliers, called the candidates, contacted the press, and threw together our own Lt. Gov. debate.

I think there were 11 guys running for the job, and seven actually arrived, though the candidates ultimately outnumbered those in attendance (the fliers failed us) — and one of the guys that showed up was Mike Huckabee, who would not only go on to win that election, but would serve two terms as Arkansas governor.

Having had the opportunity to meet Mike Huckabee on a few occasions, this is what I want to say about the Republican presidential candidate: You’ll never meet a nicer, warmer, more beguiling narrow-minded politico-freak. The guy really can work a room, and if you never listened to a word he said, you’d probably vote for him in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, part of running for President requires that you speak in public. That’s where Huckabee has a tendency to shoot himself in the upper groin area. Take, for example, this exchange from an interview in Marie Claire :

Question: I read that you’re against miniskirts.

Answer: If a person dresses provocatively, they’re calling attention — maybe not the most desirable kind — to private parts of their body.

Q: What about a burka?

A: No, that hides everything. I think a person’s hair, arms, shoulders, legs are an appropriate display of who they are. I want people to be attracted to me because they find me interesting, not because I’m wearing something … well, I doubt I own anything provocative.

Q: How about a minskirt?

A: A thong.

And there you go, folks. We now know officially how Mike Huckabee stands on all the important issues: He’s pro-life, believes in intelligent design, thinks that school children should be graded on their weight, and he’s firmly against mini-skirts. And if you think that’s crazy — he’s also a huge believer in covenant marriage, for those of you who don’t think a legally binding contract isn’t legally binding enough

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The Daily Memo - 6/13/07

check.jpgEegads - according to this article, “[t]he majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true.” (The Gallup Poll)

check.jpgDouble eegads - up in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, an advocacy ground found sex offenders and retarded people living in the same group home. Maybe this is the kind of thing that there should be a law against? (Pittsburgh.com)

check.jpgTriple eegads - a 13-year-old Canadian girl is on trial for murdering her mother, father and younger brother. (The Calgary Sun)

check.jpgYou probably already heard this story, but a woman was busted for stealing toilet paper from a courthouse, and her last name was … tee-hee … Butts. (KETV)

check.jpgDahlia Lithwick’s take on Tuesday’s 4th Circuit terror ruling against Bush and his boys. (Slate)

check.jpgDaunte Culpepper has gotten the NFL Players Association to file a grievance with the league on his behalf, in an effort to get released by the Miami Dolphins. (SI)

check.jpgSome folks over at AutoAdmit have been sued by two law students who are fed up with nasty posts about them. (Concurring Opinions)

check.jpgAn awesome footnote laying a bit of a smackdown on some law professors who stuck their noses into the Scooter Libby trial - I hope the judge follows through with his “threat.” (Legal Antics)


Common Sense Lesson #147

thumbdrive.jpgWe’re giving you a twofer in this Common Sense Lesson.

First — and this isn’t just common sense, but it’s the morally and legally right thing here, people — just say no to child porn. Seriously – please go get yourself some help.

Second, if you insist on being a degenerate, knowing that the mere possession of child porn is illegal, it’s probably not a good idea to keep your kiddie porn on a thumb drive. Because when you lose that thumb drive and then go to the police to track it down, they’re kinda going to know it’s yours. Then they’ll raid your house and maybe find more kiddie porn.

And yes, the story that inspired this Common Sense Lesson may have taken place in Australia, but common sense down under works just the same as common sense up hither.


More Legalized Wacky Tobaccy on the Horizon?

pot.jpgIn New York, both houses of the state Legislature are apparently quite close to legalizing medical marijuana. And although Governor Spitzer last year said he was against such a thing, the Daily News is reporting that his aides say that he “is now open to the legislation.”

Under the proposal, anyone with debilitating or life-threatening conditions could ask their doctors to certify that weed would benefit their condition. With such certification (and once they’ve registered with the state, of course), they could then legally possess under two-and-a-half ounces of pot, or they could grow their own (with 12 or less growing plants).

This comes on the heels of similar legislation which has already worked its way through Connecticut’s state House and Senate. Governor Rell, however, has apparently not decided whether she’s going to sign the bill into law. The legislation hasn’t hit her desk yet, but when it does, she’ll have 15 days to sign or veto it, and the decision to do neither will allow it to slip into a law at the end of those 15 days.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana is already legal in California (and in 12 other states). However, up in Mendocino County, four of the county’s five supervisors just want to see pot made legal, period. They’ve written to D.C. to plead for the legalization and regulation of marijuana. And the primary reason why these supervisors want to see weed legalized? Because there’s just too “much illegal marijuana … being grown and seized.”

Of course, we all know the Feds will not consider legalizing pot. They still refuse to consider even allowing the states to treat the whole medical marijuana issue on their own. So if that law NY does pass, and/or if Connecticut’s Governor Rell does sign the bill getting ready to come across her desk, we can still expect to see more the same federal/state showdowns we’ve seen in Cali, with folks getting busted by the Feds for selling medical marijuana to patients authorized by their state to have such weed. It’s nice that we take care of our sick so well, arresting those that try to provide them relief, you know?

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But, like, I so totally just don’t want to pay!

lohan.jpgLindsay Lohan is, yet again, in legal trouble. This time, said trouble comes courtesy of the Small Claims Court, where Grandeur, Inc. filed a $3,000 lawsuit against LinLo last month. Seems that back in October ‘05, Ms. Lohan left the severely overrated Ivy restaurant in Beverly Hills, opening up her Mercedes once she was on the road, only to wind up thumping into a car that was illegally making a u-turn, and then careening into a parked van owned by Grandeur, Inc.

According to TMZ:

At the time, Lohan’s rep said the paparazzi were chasing her. Some witnesses say she was just goofing and speeding. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement saying, “Preliminary investigations have revealed that paparazzi were not a factor in the traffic collision…”

Lindsay? “Goofing and speeding” when she should’ve been paying careful attention to the road? Preposterous!

Anyway, the CEO of Grandeur, Inc. sent a letter to Lindsay, asking for some cash to cover his repair costs but she declined to even respond to his letter.

Lindsay? Ignoring a perfectly reasonable request for money it sounds like she owes and which is less than what she spends on a night of boozing? Inconceivable!

TMZ also says: “A rep for Lohan had no comment.”

Lindsay? She’s got nothing to say about … oh, you get it.


Oh My God: John McCain is Trying to Kill this Man!

mccain0508.jpgAs part of QuizLaw’s ongoing effort to find the appropriate legal services for those in need, we are currently looking for a lawyer who specializes in batshit crazy clients — experience with delusions of grandeur helpful but not necessary. The attorney we are looking for must be willing to stand up to FBI Agents who are maliciously attempting to kill this man, Larry. Details are still forthcoming, but, according to Larry, John McCain is terrorizing him and his family. Please help this man — he can be reached at badmccain@yahoo.com. Without immediate legal assistance, this man may die. You may be his only chance.


Terrorist or Maneater?

johnoates.jpgThe conservative Fourth Circuit, in a harsh rebuke of the Bush Administration, ruled yesterday that the U.S. government could no longer harbor enemy combatants without being charged. This ruling was limited – it didn’t touch on the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay – but the three-judge panel did hold that enemy combatants could not be held on American soil indefinitely without being charged of a crime and given their Constitutional rights to a fair trial.

The ruling constitutes the latest blow to Bush’s anti-terrorism strategy. “This is a landmark victory for the rule of law and a defeat for unchecked executive power,” Jonathan Hafetz, said in a statement. “It affirms the basic constitutional rights of all individuals — citizens and immigrants — in the United States.”

Most importantly, the ruling means that the man pictured above — Ali al-Marri, a.k.a. John Oates, the silent member of the 80s pop duo, Hall & Oates – can now bring his case to a court of law. If he succeeds on the merits, America may once again be blessed with the unique fusion of rock n’ roll and rhythm and blues, the so-called Rock and Soul sound that dominated the pop charts during the early 80s. [That’s the Philly sound, baby! — Seth]

No one quite understands the role that Oates played in the duo’s success – while many attribute their domination of the charts during their heyday to Oates bushy mustache and fashionable mullet, many fans of the group also admit that they could never even remember which was Hall and which was Oates. In either respect, the Fourth Circuit today has struck back at the Bush Administration’s harsh regime against Rock and Soul so that we may yet be blessed again with their kick-ass rendition of Jingle Bell Rock.

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The Daily Memo - 6/12/07

check.jpgA defense attorney says his client deserves a new murder trial because he, the attorney, was too sleepy during the original trial. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

check.jpgHector “Macho” Camacho just got a seven-year stint in the clink. (ESPN)

check.jpgPennsylvania liquor store managers are complaining to the state Liquor Control Board about collusion and a “carnival atmosphere of alcohol” … I dunno, that sounds pretty great to me. (PennLive.com)

check.jpgTwo lawyers are going to court over Chicago Bears season tickets. (WSJ Law Blog)

check.jpgSince we gave it all a real quick gloss, if you want to know more about any of yesterday’s Supreme decisions, feel free to check out the discussions over at SCOTUSblog. (SCOTUSblog)

check.jpgCalifornia’s State Senate is considering a bill that would offer incentives to film production companies in an attempt to keep them from running out of state for cheaper filming locations. (Cinematical)

check.jpgAs you no doubt heard, yesterday, the Republicans blocked an attempt to pass a vote of no confidence against Alberto Gonzales in the Senate. (FindLaw)


No Work Necessary

ridingMower.jpgThis short story, provided by ABC7Chicago, really does as good a job as is necessary for this tale. Please be sure to read to the end, because the article even includes its own true punch line:

A downstate Illinois man spent two nights in jail after riding his lawnmower while drinking.

Robert Wendt rode his lawnmower to a convenience store to get gas and a six pack of beer. On his way home, Caseyville police stopped him. They say he was driving on the wrong side of the road and appeared to be intoxicated.

Because he had a prior conviction for driving under the influence, Wendt went to jail. When he was released, he got a ticket for not mowing his lawn.


The latest recipient of QuizLaw’s unfortunate “Mother of the Year” award

motherYear.jpgAnd the award goes to the lengthily-named Kellen Deon Murray Auguste, of … Florida. The 37-year-old mother earned her award after her 10-year-old boy was found meandering about the neighborhood last Saturday. The disheveled and dirty boy was knocking on neighbors doors and asking for food. And why was he asking for food?

Because he was … remember, he’s tenthirty-five pounds. Thirty-five mother f’ing pounds. If you’ll excuse my crass turn of phrase, I’ve taken dumps heavier than that. A healthy ten-year-old should weigh well over 70 pounds. Needless to say, when the cops showed up they determined that the boy was malnourished and dehydrated.

Mother Auguste claims that the boy “had been living in Haiti with his father, who dropped him off at her house in that condition about four weeks earlier.” And she also claims that he hasn’t been able to keep down any food she’s tried to give him over the last month. Of course, it might have been hard for her to give him any food considering the cops found no food in her house - the refrigerator, freezer and pantry were all barren. Needless to say, she’s now been arrested and charged with child neglect. The poor boy was taken to the hospital and he, along with six other minors in Auguste’s care (who, luckily, did not appear to be similarly malnourished), have fallen into the state’s custody.


Al Pacino and Yoko Ono, sitting in a tree….

westernBurrowing.jpgAl Pacino and Yoko Ono are pushing a bill in New York which would help protect the advertising use of dead celebrities (e.g., that vacuum commercial with Gene Kelly from several years back). Under current New York law, companies can’t use famous folks’ images, voices and names in ads without their permission while said celebrity is alive. However, once they die, those protections fade away. Pacino and Ono want a mandate that advertisers seek permission from a dead celeb’s estate before using their name and image. As Pacino said in his letter to the state legislature:

I feel like one’s likeness and image should be protected in some way and not abused or denigrated for the sake of profit. Hoo-ah!

[The “hoo-ah” may not have actually been in his letter.]

The bill, were it to become law, would criminalize (as a misdemeanor) the advertising use of dead celebrities without the permission of their estate. Seems perfectly reasonable, but one Assemblyman is quick to point out that there must be balance for First Amendment rights. The bill, he says, is ambiguous because it prohibits uses “for the purpose of trade,” a rather vague phrase which could “stop the artistic exploitation of an image” in addition to “commercial exploitation.”

When Yoko Ono was asked for comment, she shaved a sheep while mimicking the hoots of the Western Burrowing Owl.

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Supreme Court Decision Update - Five Supreme Court Cases

supreme3.jpgThis week’s Supreme Court updates are going to be extra quick-and-dirty, because we just don’t have the time (or inclination, really) to scour through five mundane unanimous opinions to give you the details. None of the five are particularly noteworthy, and none will likely affect your life in any meaningful way unless you are a home healthcare worker, are worried about Superfund laws, or are suing the tobacco companies for the way they market light cigarettes.

The first case, Watson v. Philip Morris (PDF of the Opinion) might have been interesting had the Court ruled on the merits – the case itself involved whether marketing cigarettes as “Lights” constituted deceptive marketing practices. However, the Supremes, in an opinion drafted by Justice Breyer, merely ruled on a jurisdictional question, concluding that the federal courts did not have exclusive jurisdiction over the matter. So, against Phillip Morris’ wishes, the case can also be heard in state court.

In the second case, Long Island Care at Home vs. Coke (PDF of the Opinion), Justice Breyer (again) writing for the Court ruled that federal minimum wage laws do not apply to home health care workers that are employed by companies and other organizations – these 660,000 people are exempted from the 1974 Fair Labor Standards Act.

In the third case, United States v. Atlantic Research Group (PDF of the Opinion), the Court, in an opinion issued by Justice Thomas, ruled against the Bush Administration’s wishes, holding that companies contracted out by the government can sue the federal government to recoup pollution clean-up costs under the Superfund law, even if they voluntarily clean up hazardous materials (as opposed to being compelled to do so by CERCLA [Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act] enforcement actions).

In case number four, Fry v. Pliler (PDF of the Opinion), there were some dissents, but on the main issue, the Court unanimously ruled, in an opinion by Justice Scalia, that the Brecht “substantial and injurious effect” standard applies on habeas regardless of whether the state court did a harmless error analysis. Exciting, I know.

Finally, in Beck v. Pace International Union (PDF of the Opinion), Justice Scalia’s unanimous opinion held that a company that sponsors its own pension plan does not have a duty to merge it with another as an alternative to terminating it


Wowzers — “Marriage” Now Considered Hate Speech?

gay-marriage.jpgAccording to the Washington Times, the 9th Circuit has crossed a line. The case in question started out as a lot of petty bickering — in the city of Oakland, gays and lesbians wanted to celebrate diversity, while some obstinate employees sought to form a group to oppose “all views which seek to redefine the natural family and marriage.”

This, in turn, rightfully pissed off a lesbian co-worker, who felt excluded, and sued. The district court sided with her, concluding that the words “natural family” and “marriage” had “anti-homosexual import.” The obstinate employees basically defied that ruling and sued in their own right, claiming their First Amendment rights had been violated because they were unable to use those words in fliers to attract other employees to their anti-gay marriage group.

After the case went up on appeal, the 9th Circuit had its say. According to the Times, the 9th Circuit ruled that “the words ‘natural family,’ ‘marriage’ and ‘union of a man and a woman’ can be punished as ‘hate speech’ in government workplaces.” And initially, I was in a bit of an uproar myself — could this be true? Is using the word “marriage” actually punishable as hate speech.

I did a little more research and discovered that, as it turns out, the conservative Times was just parroting the words of Christian pro-family groups. According to Dispatches from the Culture Wars, the case had nothing to do with hate speech and, in fact, there isn’t even a hate speech crime at play.

None of this has anything to do with declaring phrases like “marriage”, “natural family”, or “family values” to be “hate speech.” They are completely distorting the ruling, which was very narrow and involved a very specific set of circumstances, as outlawing any speech about the subject. It’s a lie, plain and simple. And it’s a lie that they keep telling over and over again, told for the purpose of creating the perception that Christians are on the verge of being thrown in jail for advocating their beliefs. It’s all part of their very persistent PR campaign to strike the persecution pose.

Another lesson in the so-called objective reporting of a major newspaper, eh? The Times article wasn’t even in the opinion section, but if you read it, there’s nothing in there suggesting anything other than that the 9th Circuit has outlawed the term “marriage” in government workplaces. I think, perhaps, Julia Duin ought to return to journalism school and learn how to report objectively. Or else get a big fat promotion to an on-air personality over on Fox News.

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QuizLaw Update …

Genarlow-Wilson.jpgUpdating a story we ran last week, Genarlow Wilson, a 17-year-old boy who was sentenced to ten years of prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old, had his sentence tossed today. The judge in the case wrote, “If this court or any court cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always strived to accomplish … justice being served in a fair and equal manner.”

Wilson had already spent two years in prison for the crime, which had been downgraded to a misdemeanor after his felony conviction. Under the judge’s ruling, Wilson will not have to register as a sex offender, either. The attorney general, who clearly doesn’t know the meaning of “injustice,” has filed an appeal in the hopes of preventing Wilson’s immediate release.

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The Daily Memo - 6/11/07

check.jpgAn ambulance chasing lawyer may get copyright protection over his the cartoon advertisement he uses of a bandaged patient who has a prescription for the attorney’s services. (Law.com)

check.jpgSigh … another stupid “your movie stole my idea” lawsuit, this time from used-to-be-a-comedian Laura Kightlinger, over Mike White’s Year of the Dog. (Cinematical)

check.jpgRepresentative Barney Frank has introduced a bill which would get rid of the ban on internet gambling, instead putting the big money business under strict regulation. (News.com)

check.jpgA Miami burglar (Florida - where else?) accidentally turned on a ventilation fan in the store he was robbing, winding up rather dead. (Local6)

check.jpgUS Weekly and a Beverly Hills boutique have settled a lawsuit over the tabloid’s alleged refusal to mention the store, costing the shop over $10K a week in sales. (Contra Costa Times)

check.jpgAn Air Force family receives $24.5 million because, it turns out, doctors outrank majors. (KSDK)


BREAKING NEWS - When a boy is invited to touch a girl’s breasts, wild horses can’t keep him from doing so

breaking.jpgFriggin Utah, man. Check this out - Michelle Grosbeck hired a 14-year-old babysitter to watch after her 8-year-old son (who both remain unnamed, since they’re minors, so let’s call the babysitter “Janey” and the son “Bobby”). Rather than raiding the fridge and talking on the phone with her boyfriend, Janey made the rather poor decision to kill some of her babysitting time by playing a game of “truth or dare” with Bobby. And during this game, a dare fell to her, and Janey dared Bobby to touch her breasts. And Bobby, being an 8-year-old boy, of course went all touchy-feely.

When Mama Grosbeck came back, she said she just had an innate sense that there was something wonky going on. When she asked Bobby about it, “[h]e just came right out as if nothing was awry, and just started talking about what had happened.” So Mrs. Grosbeck went to the cops and child protection workers. The case was then turned over to the local district attorney and - get this - the boy was charged with lewd conduct!

Apparently, the Salt Lake County District Attorney felt that both Janey and Bobby were equally responsible for the situation Mrs. Grosbeck says “not so much,” and I have to agree with her. An eight-year-old boy who is invited to touch a pair of boobs (and within the confines of “truth or dare,” a dare really is tantamount to an invite) isn’t capable of saying “no.” Just not possible.

Seems the DA eventually came to its flipping senses, as the charges have since been dropped. However, the DA’s office is remaining mum on the whole situation, surely embarrassed that it has been busted for these preposterous shenanigans.

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The Zodiac Lawyer

zodiac.jpgA-hahahahahahaha. This is absolutely hilarious. Mucho thanks to the WSJ Law Blog for pointing me to a 16-page study with the exhilarating title of “Understanding the Negative Effects of Legal Education on Law Students: A Longitudinal Test of Self-Determination Theory.” In other words: “We wants to see how much law students get screwed up by going to law school.” The abstract for this study states that the results “suggest that law school has a corrosive effect on the well-being, values, and motivation of students, ostensibly because of its problematic institutional culture,” and it concludes that “[t]he emotional distress of law students appears to significantly exceed that of medical students and at times approach that of psychiatric populations” (emphasis there is mine, thank you much).

Seriously?

I mean, did you really need to study two law schools for three years to figure this out? You could’ve just phoned me up and I would’ve been happy to tell you how corrosive law schools are. And as for some law students being borderline sociopaths - again, that info was just a phone call away.

Anyway, the moral of the story is this:

To you, QuizLaw’s readers, a word of warning - if you see a law student approaching you on the street, best run and hide. You might be just be approaching the next Buffalo Bill, and you probably don’t want to wind up putting the lotion in the basket.
lotionBasket.jpg


Sure, the Colts beat the Eagles 45-21, but in the important match-up, the Indianapolis man beat the homeless man’s nuts, 1-0

colts-eagles.jpgWilliam L. “Butch” Riley was recently prosecuted for an event that took place last November outside of the RCA Dome shortly after Dustin’s very own Indianapolis Colts beat the tar out of my very own Philadelphia Eagles (a game I had to suffer through in Dustin’s house, to his infinite glee). In an alley, Butch attacked the homeless Timothy Upshaw Jr. by poking him in the eye and the groin with an umbrella.

According to Butch, he saw Upshaw approaching him as he was leaving the game and heading towards his car. Actually, that’s not quite true. According to Butch, he saw “the Terrorist” approaching him as he was leaving the game and heading towards his car. Yes, he apparently refuses to refer to the man by his god-given name of Timothy Upshaw Jr., only referring to him as “the Terrorist.” Anyway, Butch says that as soon as he got close enough to the Terrorist, he jabbed the Terrorist in the eye with an umbrella. When the Terrorist didn’t fall, and instead yelled out in a language that Butch said sounded Middle Eastern, well: “That’s when I gave him a shot in [the] groin with the umbrella and he fell. To ensure he wouldn’t get up and follow me, I jabbed him in the nuts again before getting in my car and leaving.”

Of course, the Terrorist Upshaw says that he wasn’t planning to attack Butch, but just wanted to ask for some money. But Butch attacked him before he could say anything: “And I wasn’t screaming in no foreign languages; I was just screaming because my eye felt like it was poked out. I don’t know any other languages besides American. I was born and raised in New Albany.”

Oh, and Butch claimed that the beers he had during the game did not affect his judgment. No sir, not in the least. His explanation for why his judgment was still clear? “I drink several beers every single day after work, so that has nothing to do with it. I felt like my life was in danger and I wasn’t taking any chance.”

Seriously? The “I’m an alcoholic, so I can totally hold my beers” defense?

Well, the jury didn’t buy it, convicting Butch. He’s gotta pay a $250 fine and do 100 hours of community service.

Oh, and get this. Under questioning from the prosecutor as to why he made this attack, Riley explained that it was simply a case of “Cause President Bush did it first:”

I must and will act preemptively to defeat any enemy who would impose his or her will on me, my allies, or my friends. That is good enough for our government so it is good enough for me.

So, by analogy, does that mean Bush should be hit with a $250 fine and 100 hours of community service over the Iraq debacle? I think so. And I think those 100 community service hours should be done in Baghdad, right?


The Daily Memo - 6/8/07

check.jpgUpdating Dustin’s entry about Knocked Up, here’s a PDF of the complaint for those who are curious about the author’s silly claims. (ALOTTFMA)

check.jpgA lawsuit over Boost Plus, a health drink that gives you an erection for days on end. (Above the Law)

check.jpgColor me jealous, as an old high school chum gets to spend the month teaching law in Rome. (Concurring Opinions)

check.jpgThe New York State Bar apparently hates porn stars. (Sui Generis)

check.jpgSigh … the Senate is spending its busy time passing resolutions like the one urging folks that the internet is “dangerous.” (Slashdot)

check.jpgFormer Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork has filed a slip-and-fall lawsuit against the Yale Club over a tumble he took last year while trying to get up onto a dais to give a talk. (WSJ Law Blog)


Index Card Friday

The always-brilliant Indexed astutely points out some similarities between two American pastimes:

divorce-or-tennis.jpg

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When States Attack!

carolinas.jpgNorth Carolina … South Carolina … fight!

That’s right, boys and girls, the Carolinas are having at it. The two states have gotten themselves embroiled in a bit of a legal tussle, leading to a case hading that you don’t get to see too often:

State of South Carolina
v.
State of North Carolina

The Battle of the Carolinas stems from the Catawba River. The 220 mile long river sits in North Carolina, but dumps into the Wateree river, which flows down into Southy. Both states are dealing with a moderate drought right now, and South Carolina is worried that folks in North Carolina are draining too much water out of the Catawba (with the approval of North Carolina) beyond the state’s equitable share of water. And the diversion of water out of the Catawba, Southy claims, has already harmed the state by reducing water inflow. Thus, South Carolina is seeking an injunction to get those pesky northerners to keep their dirty northerner hands off that delicious water.

And fun fact about this case – it was filed with the Supreme Court. Why for? Well, this is one of the rare situations where the Supreme Court is actually a court of original jurisdiction (meaning it can hear a case without that case having been heard by a lower court first). Section 2 of Article III of the Constitution lays out the specific instances when the Supremes have such original jurisdiction: “In al cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party.” So it’s a pretty small group, which is why this case is rare (and made even rarer by the fact that it’s two states going head to head).

Since my sister and brother-in-law live in North Carolina, and I don’t know nobody who lives in South Carolina, I’m pulling for North Carolina in this battle. Go Northy!


Awww, C’mon!

knocked-up.jpgJesus Christ – it’s like they just smell the lawsuit, and come crawling out of the woodwork like rabid termites in need of a litigation fix. The latest preposterousness to hit the courtrooms is Canadian author Rebecca Eckler’s lawsuit against Judd Apatow. Eckler is claiming that Apatow stole the idea for his successful (and hilarious) movie, Knocked Up, from her book.

The similarities? Well, Knocked Up is about a reporter for E! who gets drunk and has a one night stand, which results in her pregnancy. Eckler’s 2004 novel is about a newspaper reporter who gets drunk and knocked up after celebrating her engagement party.

And that’s basically where the similarities end – a reporter gets drunk and pregnant. Hey! That’s an original premise – people get drunk and accidentally knocked up in the real world only once every 15.1 seconds, I’d guess – though, the drunken pregnancy rates for reporters decreases dramatically to around once every half hour. Why isn’t Eckler also suing every soap opera, every other television drama, and every third television comedy for stealing that premise?

What’s next? Will every Dad who has ever written about their daughter’s wedding come crawling out of sewer grates foaming at the mouth, carrying legal papers, and confronting Steve Martin, claiming that Father of the Bride was their idea? Hey! My daughter got married. We even hired a wedding planner! Give me a $1 million.

I mean, c’mon people. And Eckler – you’re Canadian. I thought Canadians had more sense than that? Do you actually think that you and your goddamn book are so special that a man responsible for some of the best comedies to come out of Hollywood these last few years would steal from you? Give me a freakin’ break.

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This Ankle Bracelet, Like, Clashes with my Outfit

laLohan.jpgI dunno why I even bother because, by the time this is published, everyone in God’s kingdom will already know it because the media insists that we know it, whether we want to or not. We don’t have a choice in the matter – if you managed to avoid your computer or television all goddamn day, fear not – I’m sure Fox News has some skywriters flying above your house at this very moment, burning the message, “Paris is Free,” into the clear blue sky.

Yes – Paris Hilton, after serving only a few days, has been released from prison because of an unspecified medical reason. And yes – the medical reason is “unspecified” clearly so that every blog, news outlet, and peckerhead the world over can speculate. My guess? It wasn’t a medical reason at all – she’s just gotten so skinny that the prison guards were starting to worry that she’d be able to sneak through the bars in her jail cell. That, and she kept annoying everyone by exclaiming how “hot” it was (“That’s hot.” … “Damnit, Paris – we’ve already got the AC down to 50, so shut it.”)

Anyway, not that you or I care, but she’s been sent home, where she will serve out the full 43 days of her original sentence under home confinement. And man – that’s gotta suck when you’re a billionaire heiress. Whatever will she do cooped up in a palace for a month and a half? I’m guessing that, whatever it is, it will involve more than one penis, a lot of white powder, and it will be plastered on YouTube before the day’s out.

(*Note: Yes, that is an image of Linsday Lohan above. It’s an honest mistake — our intern clearly couldn’t tell the difference between coke-head celebutards. They all look the same.)

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The Daily Memo - 6/7/07

check.jpgBlawg Review #111 is out and about in the world. (Blawg’s Blog)

check.jpgCalifornia’s state Assembly has approved a bill allowing for gay marriage. (The Legal Reader)

check.jpgThe Copyright Office has denied a website’s request for a copyright protection of its rather non-unique interface and design. (May It Please the Court)

check.jpgSixth time’s the charm. (Legal Antics)

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Pants? I don’t need no stinkin pants!

dry-cleaning2.jpgRemember the asshat lawyer (and judge) who is suing a drycleaners for $60+ million dollars because of some lost pants? Well now he’s changed his story a little, lowering the amount of his lawsuit’s claim to a mere $54 million, and saying it has nothing to do with the pants anymore.

Roy Pearson is now putting the focus on his allegations that the dry cleaners had fraudulent advertising because there were signs in the window reading “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service.” And, well, he was not satisfied. Lost pants and all that.

The trial starts next week, and we here at QuizLaw sincerely hope that Pearson gets no Satisfaction whatsoever from this absolute waste of the judicial system.

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Another Borat Lawsuit

borat.jpgSo early in the Borat movie, our intrepid foreigner chases a businessman down a NYC city street. That man, Jeffrey Lemerond, naturally, has now filed a federal lawsuit against Twentieth Century Fox (but not against Borat-portrayer Sacha Baron Cohen), claiming a massive violation of his civil rights. “Violation of my civil rights!”

Lemerond’s filing moans about the fact that the film shows him “fleeing in apparent terror” from Borat, who just wanted a hug from the friendly New Yorker. He says the use of his image was unauthorized, leading to an unjust enrichment for Fox, and also claiming that he’s suffered humiliation and ridicule. “Humiliation and ridicule!”

The Smoking Gun is there, of course, with the full complaint, for those so inclined to read such things.

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Fair, Balanced, and Kinda Racist

conyers3.jpgAnd speaking of racists, at Fox News, apparently they do believe all black people look the same.

Fox News Channel apologized on-air Tuesday for running tape of a different congressman while reporting Monday on the indictment of Rep. William J. Jefferson on bribery charges.

The network ran footage of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan instead of Jefferson. Both congressmen are black.

Inexcusable.

Conyers agrees.

The apology apparently wasn’t accepted by Conyers.

“Fox News has a history of inappropriate on-air mistakes that are neither fair, nor balanced,” he said Tuesday. “This type of disrespect for people of color should no longer be tolerated. I am personally offended by the network’s complete disregard for accuracy in reporting and lackluster on-air apology.”

In Fox’s defense, they are both bald. (*shakes head ruefully*)

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The Stupidest Prison Sentence. Ever.

3024_KellyR.jpgAll right, it’s hard to parse the actual details of the case – since it’s sexual in nature, and appears in a mainstream newspaper – but I have to believe (as do even his critics) that Genarlow Wilson got royally fucked. During a New Year’s Eve party a few years ago, he got stoned, he got high, and he eventually had consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl that was caught on tape. For that, he was charged and convicted of child molestation and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Under normal circumstances, I might not think twice about the sentence – fucking around with 15-year-olds, even if it was consensual, ain’t cool. The kicker, however, is that Wilson was only 17-years-old himself. That’s right – Wilson engaged in an act that most teenage boys engage in, with another consensual teenager. And he’s being held for ten years with no chance of parole. So, what’s the difference between Wilson’s case and every other 17-year-old boy in America? Well, one, it was videotaped. Two, there were several others guys who also received blow jobs. Three, it was in Georgia, where there laws are stupid. And four, he was black – never mind that he was a solid student, homecoming king, and a football star – skin color trumps all.

Today, after serving two years of his sentence, he is trying to get his conviction overturned, and there are a lot of folks, including former President Jimmy Carter, who are backing him. In fact, a couple of years ago, the Georgia legislature even changed the law to make what Wilson did a misdemeanor. No matter – the district attorney of Forsyth Georgia apparently has got some serious pride issues, and he’s probably also a racist douchebag to boot, a charge he denies:

[District Attorney David] McDade said race did not play a role in Wilson’s case, pointing out that all of the defendants and both victims are black.

“I said early on in this case if I or this office had turned our heads and looked the other way when these two young ladies and their families cried out for help,” he said, “I would have justifiably been accused of putting a deaf ear to African-American victims.”

I hear that Dave — but 10 years? And it’s not like the plea he offered was much better: Five years in the clink, plus Wilson’s name in the sex offender registry for the rest of his life. Thank God the consensual 15-year old girl wasn’t white, otherwise you’d have probably asked for the death penalty. Right?

And yet, R. Kelly – who once married a 15-year-old, who had sexual intercourse with a minor that he videotaped (oh, and urinated on) and who faces countless sex charges – still roams free, polluting the airwaves with his shitty music. Of course, R. Kelly is a different case all together – he’s the greatest black man that ever lived, at least according to him:

“I’m the Ali of today. I’m the Marvin Gaye of today. I’m the Bob Marley of today. I’m the Martin Luther King, or all the other greats that have come before us. And a lot of people are starting to realize that now.”

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The Daily Memo - 6/6/07

check.jpgDoh! A Chicago-area man asked a judge to reconsider a divorce verdict requiring the man to pay a whopping $176 million, so the judge raised the verdict to $184 million! (Chicago Sun-Times)

check.jpg“How’d the lawyer make the connection to Dr. Flea?” (Universal Hub)

check.jpgAn Alabama lawyer has drummed up a lawsuit against XM Radio over its recent service outage, despite the company giving a two-day credit to anyone who wants it. (Overlawyered)

check.jpgThe Game is looking at more than five years in the clink. (I Don’t Like You In That Way)

check.jpgAn Ohio mayor “has ordered the city’s firefighters to cut grass and trim shrubs while on duty to help the service department care for parks and other public areas.” (Yahoo! News)

check.jpgWhat difference has Alito made on the Supreme Court? (Dorf on Law)

check.jpgA former paralegal who was pretending to be a lawyer has been indicted by the Manhattan DA. (WSJ Law Blog)


Of Hollywood and the Law

theWood.jpgCBS and Jack Osbourne are being sued by a gal in Muncie, Indiana, which is where the reality show “Armed & Famous” was filmed (that was the show where Osbourne, Ponch and other also-ran “celebrities” joined the local police force). The lady is suing CBS and Osbourne (along with the production company and several Muncie officials) for $1 million because she was left in handcuffs for 30 minutes while cops looked for a fugitive and tore her apartment up, before deciding they were at the wrong place and taking off. Footage of the woman in cuffs appeared on the show, but there was no explanation of the incident being a mistake. Her attorney puts it this way: “This is not a dime to CBS. If they want to make a circus of police shows, they ought to be held accountable.” Oh, well if this money doesn’t matter to CBS, not being a drop in the network’s bucket, how exactly would your $1 million verdict help hold the network accountable? I declare money-grubbing shenanigans.

Meanwhile, the Second Circuit has told the FCC to fuck off, saying that the FCC’s rulings on profanity are “arbitrary and capricious.” Specifically, the court agreed with television networks that the FCC’s enforcement seems inconsistent and unpredictable with regard to impromptu profanities uttered during a broadcast (such as Bono’s well-publicized use of “fucking brilliant” in reference to U2’s Golden Globe win in 2003). The FCC Chairman was, shockingly, unhappy: “I view this as having a significant impact on our ability to enforce our indencency regime as to any restrictions on language.” But an unnamed network exec gave the more realistic spin on this: “It just means on the rare occasions where we might make a mistake or error despite our best efforts, it’s going to be harder for the commission to cite that as indecency.”

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Gitmo’s back in the news

gitmo1.jpgOn Monday, there were two arraignments before military judges down in Gitmo which have resulted in a flurry of political fallout. One of the suspects was being accused of being Osama bin Laden’s chauffeur, while the other has been accused of killing a US soldier in Afghanistan with a grenade. However, the military tribunals never got to the merits of either of these cases, instead opting to throw them out because the government didn’t establish jurisdiction over the suspects. Specifically, last year’s Military Commissions Act (which was created in response to the Supremes’ Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision) refers to “unlawful enemy combatants.” The trouble, said the Gitmo judges, is that these guys had only been classified as “enemy combatants” by the military review boards that decide this, not “unlawful enemy combatants.”

Some are, unsurprisingly, quite happy with this result, looking at it as the end of an ugly road. Take Jennifer Daskal over at Salon:

The unexpected outcome is fitting and a win for the rule of law. The Bush administration’s attempt to create an entirely new system of quasi-justice — one without any established precedent or rules, where even the basis for jurisdiction was made up on the fly — has been dysfunctional since day one….The system has been put on trial rather than the alleged high-level detainees it was designed for. And it should remain on trial until it is dispensed with for good. Its ad hoc nature becomes more apparent with every proceeding.


Similarly, Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also used this as an opportunity to slap the Bush Administration across the face: “Five-and-a-half years later, we find what happens with that kind of arrogant, go-it-alone attitude - even conservative courts say ‘no,’” The White House, of course, “disagree[s] with the ruling,” and other US officials think it’s just a game of semantics.

Slate’s always insightful Dahlia Lithwick provides a great analysis of this story, summing it up by saying we “can more accurately see it as the professionals [that is, the military judges] ultimately putting their training and principles back into the service of the law or the war, as opposed to the service of this presidency.” Since the real world is crushing down on me right now, I’ll just end by saying you should go read her column (hell, she manages to work in a reference to Volkswagen buses and beads - how can you pass that up?).

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It’s not Funny My Ass is on Fire

pic_man_on_fire.jpgA serial arsonist recently discovered that his profession does not come without some danger. The man, who has connections to several arsons in the Rome, Georgia area, broke into a convenience store, stole some lottery tickets, and attempted to erase his tracks by setting the place on fire. Hijinx ensued:

He’s coming through the front door, using a center punch … In the man’s hand appeared to be charcoal lighter fluid. Within seconds, he began to douse the store. At one point, he spotted the surveillance camera above him and sprayed it.

At that point, the lighter fluid was sitting there with the fumes accumulating, so when he got to the point of igniting it, the fumes had already built up. So that when he tries to set the store on fire, he sets himself on fire.

The fire ignites his face, and all around him, and that’s w[h]ere it looks like he got some flash burns. While still on fire, the suspect grabbed rolls of lottery tickets.

I suppose when you’re an arsonist, lighting yourself on fire is just an occupational hazard. A lawsuit against the lighter-fluid company, however, seems all but inevitable.

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Fatty Fatty Two By Fou … Thunk …

FatWomenTryingtogetpantson.jpgThis story begins at Magic Springs theme park, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Magic Springs was the lone amusement park of my youth — a bit of a ghetto Six Flags with one single roller coaster ride consisting of a simple loop that, a few years ago, eventually gave up its ghost about halfway through, leaving its many passengers hanging upside down. I understand the coaster was soon thereafter torn down, to make way for the Twist and Shout, the subject of this current litigation.

It seems a … er … heavyset woman fell 11 feet from the Twist & Shout roller coaster and struck a metal electric mailbox. She’s now suing the theme park for $16 million for the injuries she suffered.

The catch, of course, is that the woman, described by some as “extremely large,” was allowed to take up two seats on the coaster, which apparently led to her being flung from the coaster because her center of gravity shifted. However, the woman, Felicia Robinson, describes herself as “healthy, active and industrious.” She’s claiming that the park employees did not seat her properly or provide enough safety features.

Now, let’s read between the lines here, all right? In all likelihood, this beast of a woman, who probably weighed upwards of 350 pounds, likely browbeat a poor 16-year-old into letting her on the roller coaster in the first place — I’m sure he had reservations about it, and she was all like, “You better let me on or I’ll sue your ass for fat-ass discrimination.” He probably reluctantly agreed because he was embarrassed, prying her into two seats and praying his dear little heart out that nothing would happen. I dunno. Maybe the woman ought to consider taking some personal goddamn responsibility in the matter; I’m not taking about personal responsibility for her weight — if she wants to be obese, more power to her — but, c’mon: Have sense enough to know that roller coasters were not designed for anyone to take up two seats. It’s not a commercial airliner — it’s a ride that depends, largely, on gravity and centrifugal force. Three-hundred and fifty pounds spread across two seats ought to ring a few bells in the woman’s head, like, “if I get in this, I’m going to get shot out like a canon at an electric mailbox.”

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The Daily Memo - 6/5/07

check.jpgA court has rejected the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s attempt to get custody of a 4-yearl-old foster child. (Miami Herald)

check.jpgAnd speaking of friggin’ Florida - a city has told residents that their yards need more grass, despite the fact that there’s a drought. (Tampabay.com)

check.jpgIf you’ve had sex with a Congressman or other high-ranking government official, Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine might just have $1 million for you. (UPI)

check.jpgA case claiming that the script for White Chicks was impermissibly copied has been thrown out of court – why anyone would want credit for that celluloid filth remains to be seen. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgA former Powerball winner recently found himself back in court, again – but at least he can afford to pay his attorneys with that $113 million he took home. (The Charlston Gazette)


“Foooooooood Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!”

foodfight.jpgLast Thursday, a food fight broke out in the cafeteria of West Aurora High School, a school 30 miles outside of Chi-Town. The massive fight, involving many of the 200 students in the cafeteria at the time, led to several injuries and three arrests. The fight was apparently a “senior prank,” and rumors about it had been circulating the school for a week. Cops were called in, and one cop was injured as he chased the alleged instigator (he tripped over a student who had fallen to the ground, and broke his foot in the process). A couple of school officials were also injured during the scuffle.

The alleged instigator, meanwhile, is one Demetrius Oglesby. He currently faces a felony charge of resisting arrest while two other students face misdemeanor charges - one is looking at charges of mob action and disorderly conduct, while the other faces an assault charge. One senior who was in the cafeteria for the food hucking gave this commentary: “It was just insane. Things like milk cartons, full pop bottles and blue slushies were flying around. Kids literally bought the food to throw it and, to me, that’s a little expensive.” The principal was similarly unimpressed: “A prank is something that’s funny and doesn’t harm anything or anyone, but a food fight is entirely different - a bad choice, bad judgment.”

At least these students had the good judgment to keep their mess contained within the cafeteria. I recall one senior prank my senior year, where a couple of the senior football meatheads decided to huck eggs at students in different classrooms. It was funny as hell to watch (at least for me, since I wasn’t one of those pelted by egg and covered in yolk), but it must’ve been a royal pain for the janitorial staff to clean up.


Supreme Court Decision Update - Erikson v. Pardus

hepatitis_c_virus.jpgDamned Supreme Court — they’re a bunch of teases is what they are. In Erikson v. Pardus (PDF of the Opinion), the Supremes laid out a relatively interesting set of facts, and then never addressed the merits of the case because the damn issue concerns a technical pleading matter. Well, for lack of anything better to do, I’ll also set out the facts and then perform a magic trick by instantly making your eyes glaze over.

The case concerns William Erickson, an inmate imprisoned by the state of Colorado. He has Hepatitis C, a life endangering disease. As such, the doctors at the prison began treating him for it — the treatment required a series of self-injections. However, soon after treatment began, the doctors suspended it when they discovered one of the syringes in a communal trash can and concluded that Erikson was using it to inject illicit drugs. He denied this, of course, and then sued the state on 8th Amendment grounds, alleging that the state’s decision to withhold treatment was cruel and unusual punishment.

However, both the district court and the 10th Circuit threw out the case in summary judgment, holding that Erikson’s pleadings only included “conclusory allegations to the effect that he has suffered a cognizable independent harm as a result of his removal from the [hepatitis C] treatment program.” The Supremes, in a per curiam opinion, noted that “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.’ Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the … claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’

In other words, the Supremes were, like, “Stop being douchebags. This guy was representing himself, so lay off — he did as well as he could, so at least listen to the man’s case — the dude probably doesn’t even know what ‘conclusory’ means.”

Scalia departed from the per curiam opinion, noting that he wouldn’t have granted cert in the first place, while Thomas dissented, noting that the 8th Amendment only applies to “injuries relating to a criminal sentence.”


Supreme Court Decision Update - Safeco v. Burr

GEICO_Logo.jpgSafeco v. Burr (PDF of the Opinion) involves the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and, specifically, when notice has to be given to consumers that an “adverse action,” has been made. As pertains to insurance companies, an adverse action is “a denial or cancellation of, an increase in any charge for, or a reduction or other adverse or unfavorable change in the terms of coverage or amount of, any insurance, existing or applied for.” The case is part of the current wave of class-actions against insurance companies, who have been sued for not telling consumers that a better credit score would’ve resulted in lower insurance rates.

In this case, the petitioners were given a particular car insurance rate by a couple of insurance companies, Safeco and Geico. Credit scores normally play into a person’s particular rate. However, here, the petitioners who applied to Geico would’ve received the same rate if the insurance companies had never even taken their credit scores into consideration — in other words, the credit scores were a neutral factor. Consequently, the insurance companies did not notify the petitioners that any adverse action had been taken. The petitioners argued that the insurance companies were required to send out notice of an adverse action, if a higher credit score would have resulted in better insurance rates. In Safeco’s case, first-time applicants received a higher rate than they would have if they had a lower credit score. The company, however, didn’t send out notices because they didn’t think that it was required for initial applications, only for “increases” in rates. The district court sided with the insurance companies, the 9th Circuit reversed, and the Supremes reversed the 9th Circuit.

The opinion, delivered by Justice Souter (in which all nine justices joined to at least some part) held that the insurance companies were not reckless in the way they handled notice procedures. As Souter wrote, “It makes more sense to suspect that Congress meant to require notice and prompt a challenge by the consumer only when the consumer would gain something if the challenge succeeded.” It was an easy call on the Geico applicants because they wouldn’t have gained anything — the credit score did not ultimately play into their insurance rates.

However, with regard to Safeco, Souter wrote that the company may or may not have violated the FCRA’s notice provisions, but it didn’t matter anyway because they were not reckless:

On the rationale that “increase” presupposes prior dealing, Safeco took the definition as excluding initial rate offers for new insurance, and so sent no adverse action notices to [the petitioners]. While we disagree with Safeco’s analysis, we recognize that its reading has a foundation in the statutory text, and a sufficiently convincing justification to have persuaded the District Court to adopt it and rule in Safeco’s favor.”

Justice Stevens, with whom Ginsberg joined, concurred in most of the opinion, but disagreed as to the meaning behind a “neutral credit score,” arguing that Congress could not have “intended for a company’s unrestrained adoption of a ‘neutral’ score to keep many (if not most) consumers from ever hearing that their credit reports are costing them money.”

Thomas, joined by Alito, also wrote separately, to concur in part, but to note that the court should not have ruled on a part of the case dealing with the meaning of “increase” because no one addressed that factor in their argument.


“Fire … FIRE!!”

debhammons.jpgDeborah Hammons, a 31-year-old gal from the lovely state of Florida, found herself in the clink over the weekend. The reason? She was at a popular Deytona Beach hotel, and pulled 11 different fire alarms, hosing down hallways and doors with a hotel fire extinguisher along the way. She’s now facing charges of tampering with a fire extinguisher and fire alarms, which could get her up to five years in the clink.

No word on why she tried to stop the nonexistent fire on six different floors of the hotel, but the cops say that Hammons appeared to be drunk. You think?


But would a mouse be interested in those kind of nuts?

windyCityCaravello.jpgJohnny Knoxville, Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla are all being sued for over $10 million dollars by a guy named Perry Caravello. A few years back, Caravello was involved with a Comedy Central movie called Windy City Heat, unaware that the whole thing was basically one big gag on him. The flick was produced by Dakota Entertainment Inc., which Kimmel is in charge of. Caravello claims that he was never paid the money owed to him under the terms of this contract, including profits and royalties from DVD sales.

He also claims that Knoxville promised to pay him additional money to put his, uhm, “special purpose” in a mousetrap on Adam Carolla’s old television show, as a promotion for the DVD. Caravello apparently let his genitals be the cheese to Knoxville’s mousetrap, yet he alleges that he received none of the promised money. Instead, he got lots of humiliation when Carolla’s show filmed the event without his permission (if he agreed to do it for the DVD’s promotion and on Carolla’s show, how exactly was it without his permission?) and eventually landed on the good ol’ internets.

I recall watching Windy City Heat when Comedy Central initially aired it and, if you’ll pardon the pun, Caravello was a complete nutbag. So I’m not initially inclined to think there’s much merit to any part of his lawsuit, although I’m sure that Kimmel, Knoxville and Carolla will just toss some cash at Caravello just to get rid of him and his mousetrapped nuggets.


Paperback Writer

Beatles.jpgSo, a judge out in Montana, clearly bored to tears with writing his usual brand of opinion, decided — when a defendant misspelled the Beatles as the “Beetles” — to take out his umbrage in a sentencing opinion rife with Beatles allusions. It’s lame as hell, but — just as when an out-of-touch-father attempts to make jokes in front of his son’s teenage friends — there’s something kind of endearing about it, too.

’Hey Jude’, ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret’? The greatest band in history spelled its name B-e-a-t-l-e-s.

I interpret the meaning of your response to suggest that there should be no consequences for your actions and I should ‘Let it Be’ so that you could live in ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Such reasoning is ‘Here, There and Everywhere’. It does not require a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ of interpretation to know ‘The Word’ means leave it alone. I trust we can all ‘Come Together’ on that meaning.

If I were to overlook your actions and ‘Let It Be’, I would ignore that ‘Day in the Life’ on April 21, 2006. That night you said to yourself ‘I Feel Fine’ while drinking beer. Later, whether you wanted ‘Money’ or were just trying to ‘Act Naturally’ you became the ‘Fool on the Hill’ on on North 27th Street. As ‘Mr Moonlight’ at 1.30am, you did not ‘Think for Yourself’ but just focused on ‘I, Me, Mine’.

Because you didn’t ask for ‘Help’, ‘Wait’ for ‘Something’ else or listen to your conscience saying ‘Honey Don’t’, the victim later that day was ‘Fixing a Hole’ in the glass door you broke. After you stole the 18 pack of Old Milwaukee you decided it was time to ‘Run For Your Life’ and ‘Carry That Weight’. But the witness said ‘Baby it’s You’, the police responded ‘I’ll Get You’ and you had to admit that ‘You Really Got a Hold on Me’. You were not able to ‘Get Back’ home because of the ‘Chains’ they put on you. Although you hoped the police would say ‘I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party’ and ‘We Can Work it Out’, you were in ‘Misery’ when they said you were a ‘Bad Boy’. When the police took you to jail, you experienced ‘Something New’ as they said ‘Hello Goodbye’ and you became a ‘Nowhere Man’.

Later when you thought about what you did, you may have said ‘I’ll Cry Instead’. Now you’re saying ‘Let it Be’ instead of ‘I’m a Loser’. As a result of your ‘Hard Day’s Night’, you are looking at a ‘Ticket to Ride’ that ‘Long and Winding Road’ to Deer Lodge. Hopefully you can say both now and ‘When I’m 64’ that ‘I Should Have Known Better’.

For the record, the defendant was sentenced to three years probation, community service, and ordered to pay a fine.


The Case of the Killer Teddy Bear

c5_3.jpgA math teacher in Indianapolis is suing several of his students, claiming that a movie they had made defamed him. Daniel Clevenger brought the lawsuit, claiming that the 78-minute film — The Teddy Bear Master — basically hurt his feelings, because in the film, both the teacher and his wife were eventually murdered.

Moreover, Clevenger claims that the film made fun of his mannerisms and appearance. Oh, and this should probably be made quite clear — the student-created masterpiece starred a Teddy Bear and several stuffed animals.

“The defendants intentionally created the ‘Teddy Bear Master’ and intentionally used the plaintiff’s name in such a way that would provoke a reasonably foreseeable emotional disturbance or trauma,” the lawsuit states.

The boys worked on the movie from fall 2005 through summer 2006. A description of the film in previous documents said that the teddy bear ordered the stuffed animals to kill the teacher because he had embarrassed him, but that students battled the toy beasts …

“It’s not true that they were murdered in the movie,” she said. “It was literally stuffed animals being manipulated by the boys, walking around going ‘yeoowww’ and talking in funny voices, very juvenile.”

The students were expelled for making the film, but — thanks in part to a lawsuit spearheaded by the local chapter of the ACLU — had their suspensions expunged and were awarded $69,000 in a settlement.

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The Daily Memo - 6/4/07

check.jpgThe best transcript about large penises you’ll read today. (Legal Antics)

check.jpgSlate explains when the federal Government can quarantine folks, and how this interplays with the ability of individual states to quarantine people. (Slate)

check.jpgFifteen New Zealanders (who are not Australians, as commentors have correctly pointed out to us!) have sued New Line, claiming they’re entitled to some Lord of the Rings merchandising money. (Cinematical)

check.jpgA member of the Crips who was hired by a man to kill the man’s wife, mother-in-law and daughter actually balked at the notion of capping the girl, and ended up helping the Feds bust the scumbum husband. (May it Please the Court)

check.jpgMicrosoft has been slapped with a lawsuit over some 2001 negotiations involving DVR patents. (Engadget)

check.jpgAmerican Indians are tweaked off that Martha Stewart wants to trademark “Katonah,” the name of a 17th century chief, equating it to Stewart trying to trademark “George Washington.” (Newsday)

check.jpgThe push is back on for internet taxes on your broadband connections, as well as your e-mail and online shopping. (MSN)


Supreme Court Decision Update - Sole v. Wyner

peace_symbol_6_l.gifIn Sole v. Wyner (PDF of the opinion), Justice Ginsburg delivers a unanimous opinion which says that you are not entitled to attorneys’ fees under federal law if you obtain a preliminary injunction in a civil rights case but eventually lose the full case on the merits. This stems from some antiwar protesting from a few years back. In January 2003, T.A. Wyner told Florida’s Department of Environment Protection that she had an antiwar art protest planned for the following Valentine’s Day, a protest which would involve nude people making a great big peace sign on a beach. In early February, she was told that this would only be lawful if participants wore bathing suits according to state law. She filed a federal lawsuit two days before Valentine’s Day, seeking protection of her First Amendment rights and asking for injunctive relief to ensure that her display would not be interfered with. On February 13, the District Court granted a preliminary injunction, allowing the display to take place the next day. However, the preliminary injunction did allow the state department to put up a screen, to allow those uninterested in the display to avoid seeing the nudity, and the department used such a screen.

Wyner then continued with the case, seeking a permanent injunction to ensure no future interference with her stagings. The court ultimately ruled against Wyner, in large part because she hadn’t actually kept her display behind the screen during the Valentine’s Day staging. Thus, the state law requiring bathing suits was necessary “to protect the experiences of the visiting public.” However, because she had obtained a preliminary injunction, the court determined that Wyner was the “prevailing party,” despite losing the main case, and ruled that she was entitled to attorneys fees for that preliminary injunction portion of the litigation. An appeal went up to the Eleventh Circuit, which also ruled that Wyner was entitled to those fees. The Court said she wouldn’t be entitled to them if the preliminary injunction had been based on a mistake of law. But that was not the case - rather, it was new facts following the injunction which caused her to lose the main case on the merits (those new facts being her failure to stay behind the screen).

In her unanimous opinion, Justice Ginsburg reverses the Eleventh. When looking at who is a “prevailing party,” the inquiry should focus on whether the plaintiff got at least some of the relief they wanted. The State argued that Wyner didn’t get such relief, because the law at issue remains valid and enforceable following the summary judgment. Wyner only got her preliminary injunction because of a very hurried process, with no discovery or adequate review of related witnesses and documents. While Wyner says she got exactly what she wanted, permission to do her protest without interference, Ginsburg says she didn’t ultimately get what she really wanted because the State can still “interfere” with her activities. In other words, the relief of her preliminary injunction was only a temporary success and the claim she raised during the preliminary injunction phase of the case is the exact same claim which the court ultimately rejected. So “her initial victory was ephemeral,” and even though she won the battle, she lost the war.

Ginsburg ends by noting that this ruling has no necessary application to the situation where, “in the absence of a final decision on the merits of a claim for permanent injunctive relief, success in gaining a preliminary injunction may sometimes warrant an award of counsel fees.”


Common Sense Lesson #146

cashcash.jpgIf the government sends you a check for $2.5 million, and you have no earthly reason to suspect that you actually should be getting such a pleasant check, it’s probably not in your best interest to go on a spending spree.

That’s the lesson that Minnesota’s Sabrina Walker has learned, after receiving such a whopping check from the state’s Department of Human Services. The check, which was intended to go to a medical center, wound up being mailed to Walker because of a stupid computer glitch:

Walker, along with a man she lived with, allegedly bought a $500,000 certificate of deposit, funded two retirement accounts, bought a $500,000 Treasury bond, spent $5,500 on jewelry, $3,817 at Best Buy and $2,069 on limousine services, according to the criminal complaint. Walker also allegedly bought two cars, called the state to report the check, then bought two more cars, prosecutors said.

Hey, at least she had the good sense to invest some of the money, right?

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Supreme Court Decision Update - Uttecht v. Brown

deathpenalty-thumb.jpgSince Uttech v. Brown (PDF of the opinion) comes up from the Ninth Circuit, it should come as no surprise that we are looking at another Supreme Court reversal. Them Supremes just love overturning the Ninth - I think they might actually be addicted to it, and in serious need of professional counseling.

Anyway, the underlying case focuses on a death sentence issued to Cal Coburn Brown by a Washington jury for his vile robbery, rape, torture and murder of two women. Brown eventually filed a habeas petition with the federal courts arguing, among other things, that his constitutional rights had been violated when three potential jurors were dismissed for cause. The District Court denied the habeas petition, but the Ninth Circuit reversed. It ruled that Brown’s constitutional rights were violated by one of the dismissals, where a juror was let go because he claimed he couldn’t be impartial in making a death sentence decision.

Justice Kennedy writes for the 5-4 majority (joined by Chief Justice Johnny, the Scalia, and Justices Thomas and Alito) in overturning the Ninth. Kennedy begins by noting that there’s an underlying balance here, as a criminal defendant is entitled to an impartial jury not predisposed to capital punishment, while the State has an interest in having a jury which is capable of working within the legal confine of the state’s capital punishment scheme. Thus, it is ok to dismiss a juror for cause if that juror is “substantial impaired” in being able to impose a death sentence. And the trial judge is in the best position to judge a potential jury member’s disposition, as they alone are able to actually perceive the person’s responses and overall demeanor during the voir dire process.

In this case, the trial judge specifically determined that the potential juror was substantially impaired in his ability to give practical application of the state’s capital punishment laws. So this dismissal was firmly within the judge’s inherent discretion and that decision is entitled to dereference, again, because of the judge’s unique ability to actually perceive the person’s overall demeanor and responses. And this deference does not “foreclose the possibility” that a dismissal could later be reversed - a dismissal would be impermissible, and entitled to reversal, “where the record discloses no basis for a finding of substantial impairment.” But that’s just not the case here.

Justice Stevens filed a dissenting opinion, joined by the other three dissenters, Justices Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer. Stevens notes that many Americans oppose the death penalty, but he doesn’t think that a potential juror is “substantially impaired” if they believe a life sentence with no possibility of parole is the harshest sentence that should “be imposed in all but the most heinous cases.” Stevens accuses the majority of “blindly” deferring to a state court’s “erroneous characterization of” a potential juror’s statements, and he thinks the record doesn’t support such deference. “Shenanigans,” he says!

Justice Breyer also filed a short dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Souter. He wrote separately from Justice Stevens’ dissenting opinion “to emphasize that, in my opinion, the majority’s strongest piece of evidence … should play no role in our analysis.” That piece of evidence is the fact that Brown’s attorney said “no objection” when the trial court dismissed the juror in question. Breyer says this failure to object should have no impact on the Supremes’ analysis, as this isn’t the type of situation where the failure to object is equated to waiver. He believes the majority reads far too much into the defense’s “no objection” statement, treating them “like a Rorschach blot” into the overall courtroom “atmospherics.”

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A heaping pile of trouble

coke2.jpgOn Saturday, Goliad County (that’s in Texas) deputies pulled over Omar Cruz Garza for speeding. As they were talking to him, they noticed things in his truck which seemed an odd assortment to them - a DVD player, a safe, a camera and power tools, among other things. This led to a search of Garza’s truck, which turned up some cocaine.

Things got worse for Garza when he gave them his license, because it was a fake I.D. Garza had been hesitant to turn over his actual I.D. since he was still on parole for a prior crime (which was set to end in just one week). But the deputies figured out that the I.D. was fake, in part because Garza has his actual name tattooed on him. Papers in the safe matched the fake I.D., and when county officials later called that person, he reported that the safe and other stuff had been stolen in a recent burglary.

Things continued to go downhill when the cops learned that the truck they pulled Garza over had also been stolen, a mere 12 hours before Garza was pulled over, from a local used car lot. Garza has already been charged with the unauthorized use of a vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, and failure to identify himself to the deputies. He’s also likely to get hit with forgery charges, because he had stolen some checks in the burglary and passed a couple of them off.

But the kicker to all of this is what Garza told the deputies when they found the coke in his [stolen] truck. He said he was driving up to Houston for his son’s graduation and that the coke was a graduation gift for his son!

“I have no idea what he was thinking,” said Sgt. Danny Madrigal, investigator with the Goliad Sheriff’s Department. “We’ve never had anybody saying ‘I’m taking this to give to my son. He’s graduating.’” However, Madrigral said, “The following day I spoke to him, and he told me it was for personal use.”

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The questionable case of eHarmony’s discrimination against gays and lesbians

gay-marriage.jpgEarlier this year, Linda Carlson wanted to sign up for eHarmony, an online dating site. However, she was disappointed to learn that the site only matches heterosexuals, leaving lesbians like her out of luck and out of love. She wrote to the company, but it said that it was not inclined to offer its services for matching up gay and lesbian couples. So Carlson has now sued the company for sexual-orientation discrimination.

She wants to make her lawsuit a class action, on the basis of eHarmony denying its services to gays and lesbians. She wants an unspecified amount of money, of course, plus she wants the site to change its wicked ways, saying the website is engaging in “outright discrimination” which is “hurtful and disappointing.” For its part, eHarmony says that her suit is junk and it doesn’t match up gay and lesbian couples simply because “the research that eHarmony has developed, through years of research, to match couples has been been based on traits and personality patterns of successful heterosexual marriages.” That is, eHarmony claims that it’s ill-equipped to match up non-heterosexual couples.

Other blogs have already talked about the fact that this case is a bit unique in the fact that Carlson isn’t claiming that the website flat-out prevents gays and lesbians from using it but; instead, she claims that the site doesn’t offer the same services to homosexuals which are offered to heterosexuals. As David Bernstein discusses over at The Volokh Conspiracy:

Eharmony does not technically prevent gays and lesbians from using its services; rather, it provides services for people looking for partners of the opposite sex. Assumedly, any self-identified homosexual who decided to look for an opposite sex partner would be able to use Eharmony’s services. Is this a distinction without a difference? I’m not so sure. I wouldn’t think that a strip club featuring nude females could be sued for sexual orientation discrimination simply because few gay men would be interested in utilizing its services. On the other hand, if the club excluded gay men who did wish to ogle nude women (or hang out with men who did), that would clearly be discrimination based on sexual orientation.

This eHarmony situation sure sounds more like the example where a gay man can walk into a strip club, but isn’t likely to be interested in the female dancers/services, at least to me. But even more interesting is Bernstein’s thought that a win by Carlson could actually backfire, because it would not only require websites like eHarmony to offer services beyond the scope of what it claims it’s capable of (although I’m not so sure I buy the fact that it can’t apply its compatibility test to homosexual relationships), but it would also require dating sites that cater to homosexuals to open their doors to straights.

I am a lefty-liberal at heart, so I’m all for the strong enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. But at the same time, at some point don’t you have to take a step back and say that the best result isn’t always for the law to intercede? Isn’t the market sometimes capable of taking care of things on its own? My gut tells me that the online dating world, to the extent that it works, works much better as it is now, than it would if specialty sites are forced to cater to all, as Bernstein suggests would be the result of a win for Carlson in this case. Not to mention, do we really want our government and laws mandating that businesses like eHarmony must offer services which it isn’t interested in and/or isn’t capable of properly offering (again, I’ll admit that I’m not so sure its services aren’t easily applied to homosexual relationships), when it’s not a case of those business actually preventing protected classes of people from participating? I’m not so sure the answer here is yes.

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Note to self - when I post things on the web, other folks can, you know, see it

myspace.jpgI love Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Mind you, I’ve never been to Sheboygan (or anywhere else in Wisconsin), so this love doesn’t come from any familiarity with the place. Rather, I simply love it because it’s fun to say “Sheboygan.” Go ahead, say it out loud.

See - fun, right?

And I bet it’s even more fun to say “Sheboygan” while stoned. We could ask 18-year-old Moua Yang (of Sheboygan) about this, if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s just been sentenced to the clink for 30 days. Check this idiot out - Yang was arrested and charged with a felony count of marijuana manufacturing and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia after cops found photos of his pot plants and other drug toys on his MySpace page:

Police said they were monitoring another Web site [for gang activity] when they saw that Yang had posted pictures of weapons and drug gear and had bragged about the plants in his house.

I know I should be accustomed to this kind of thing by now, but idiocy like this still amazes me.


The Daily Memo - 6/1/07

check.jpgThe Beverly Hills City Council is hoping to ban smoking in almost all outdoor eating areas. (KTLA)

check.jpgAnother knock to my profession - the Tuberculosis Guy has been identified as a lawyer. (CNN)

check.jpgWebcasters have gone to a federal court seeking a temporary injunction to put off the July 15 royalty-rate hike that’s looming before them. (The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.)

check.jpgNew York is planning to ease its scalping restrictions by letting folks sell tickets online for whatever price they can get. (ESPN)

check.jpgMusings on some more of the proposed revisions to Supreme Court rules. (SCOTUSblog)

check.jpgScrew the MLB, which has decided to attack the Slingbox, claiming it’s interfereing with the league’s broadcast contracts. (Sling in the News)


“He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” Must Be Furious

voldemort.jpgA Georgia judge has ruled that Harry Potter gets to stay in school. Not Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, mind you; rather, the Harry Potter books are allowed to stay in Georgia public schools, as the judge threw out a lawsuit filed by Laura Mallory (that last name is awfully close to “Malfoy,” isn’t it?).

Mallory was trying to get the Potter books banned because she says that they promote witchcraft and are an attempt to indoctrinate kids. Local school boards have defended the books, arguing that they help encourage kids to read and increase literacy, as well as spark the kids’ creativity. Last May, Mallory’s request for a ban was denied by her county, and the state Board of Education upheld that decision last December. That’s when she turned to the state courts, but Judge Ronnie Batchelor said that the school’s evidence about the books’ merits supported their decision to let the books stay in the school libraries.

Mallory says she may try to waste more public resources by filing a federal lawsuit, though she’ll get a lawyer to help her this time: “I maybe need a whole new case from the ground up.”

My favorite part of all of this is Mallory’s utter hypocrisy. During the court hearing, she argued that the books violate the separation of church and state since some people practice witchcraft. But then she turned around and said this to reporters: “I have a dream that God will be welcomed back in our schools again. I think we need him.”

So Mallory doesn’t actually believe in the separation of church and state; rather, she believes in the separation of every-religion-but-hers and state.

Ignorant hypocritical hick.

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Flea Bites

fleaDog.jpgWell I could’ve told you this was a stupid idea.

Dr. Robert P. Lindeman, a pediatrician, was a defendant in a medical malpractice suit. The plaintiffs’ 12-year-old son, Jaymes, had died back in 2002 from complications arising from his diabetes. The parents alleged that Lindeman failed to diagnose Jaymes’ diabetes during an exam and that the boy might not have died six weeks later if Dr. Lindeman had made the right diagnosis. So earlier this month, Dr. Lindeman was on the stand, being cross-examined by the family’s attorney, Elizabeth N. Mulvey. During the second day of testimony, Mulvey was questioning Dr. Lindeman about a pediatrics textbook when her questions suddenly went into an unexpected direction.

First, she asked him if he published a medical blog. Dr. Lindeman said he did. Mulvey then asked him if he was “Flea.” Lindeman said he was.

Lindeman settled the next day, apparently agreeing to pay a substantial amount of money to Jaymes’ parents.

So what’s this “Flea” business all about?

Well it turns out that Lindeman/Flea was blogging about the trial over on the DrFleaBlog, a blog which no longer has any content (a “flea” is apparently what surgeons refer to pediatricians-in-training as). He we apparently providing day-to-day details about the trial, mocking the plaintiffs and their lawyer, ranting and bitching about various issues, outlining his defense strategy (including advice given to him by a jury consultant about how to win over the jury) and even accusing some jury members of nodding off during the trial. Just by way of example - an early post nicknamed Mulvey (the plaintiffs’ attorney) “Carissa Lunt,” and wondered about whether she was a pillow biter.

drFlea.jpgClassy guy, that Dr. Lindeman (that’s our class-act to the right).

Mulvey apparently had a sense of humor about it, but did indicate that she was prepared to share Lindeman/Flea’s musings with the jury, which would appear to be what led to the next-day settlement.

So the moral of this story is: Don’t blog about your trial while you’re still in trial. Seems pretty obvious to me, but I guess it’s not so obvious to everyone….Maybe this should’ve been a “Common Sense Lesson” entry.

(Hat tip to Legal Antics)

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“I’m funny how?”

theSuper.jpgRichard Naumann was in front of an Ohio judge facing allegations that he was a slum lord and that he owed the gas company over $100,000. The judge in the case, Patrick Carroll, decided to punish Naumann with a sentence straight out of a Hollywood flick. Naumann has been sentenced to house arrest. The catch is, he doesn’t get to hang out in his own home, but in one of his crummy apartment buildings. And he’s stuck there until that building, and his other building, are brought into proper shape (right now, the buildings have no heat or hot water, nor working showers or working ovens). He can leave the building from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., to do work, but he must otherwise be in his slum, and he’ll be wearing a Martha Stewart-brand electronic monitoring anklet to ensure he abides by his house arrest.

In addition, any rent he collects must now get turned over to the city. Residents of his slum apartments, and the gas company, can then petition the city for reimbursements from this little fund.

(And yes, I know the post’s title comes from Goodfellas, not The Super [which is the flick where Pesci plays a slumlord ordered to live in one of his buildings] - but I couldn’t give you a quote from The Super if my life depended on it.)

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