Archive for February, 2011

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has reportedly unleashed an attack on his critics for his violations of disclosure laws and alleged conflicts of interest. He warned law students that these critics are “undermining” the Court and endangering the country by weakening core institutions. As one of those critics, I am flabbergasted by Thomas’ remarks which show an implied disregard that seems to have now reached open contempt for certain principles of judicial ethics. There is not a hint of concern for his own conduct and how it has undermined the Supreme Court as an institution. For a prior column, click here

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The recent United Nation Security Council decision to freeze the assets of the Gaddafi family was heralded as a high-point of international cooperation to fight authoritarian abuse. What has gotten less press attention is the role of the United States in drafting the resolution. The Obama Administration insisted on adding a provision that barred the punishment of mercenaries for war crimes committed in the country — out of concern that the same principle could be used against U.S. contractors in places like Iraq.

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Manitoba Justice Robert Dewar is under attack for his sentencing of Kenneth Rhodes, 40, for sexual assault. Dewar gave Rhodes just a two-year conditional sentence to be served at home for raping a 26-year-old woman. Dewar appeared to blame the victim in part for the attack.
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It didn’t take long for religious fanatics in the United States to uncover a nugget of prejudicial hate in the ruins of the recent earthquake in New Zealand. Christchurch Quake is registered in Utah and claims that the earthquake was God’s judgment on the people of New Zealand for allowing “lesbians running loose on the South Island as if they own the place.”
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I am always shocked by folks who fail for Nigerian Internet schemes or web cons. The saddest, however, are the ones (as we have seen) that prey upon people looking for companions. A 48-year-old Naperville man has added himself to that lonely hearts club after giving $200,000 to a fake “girlfriend” whom he only knew over the Internet.
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Watch a Real Reporter At Work

If you want to see a real reporter who asks the tough questions, take a look at Joey, 5, interviewing the Chicago Blackhawks.
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Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

With the constant news reports highlighting the economic woes of the State and Federal governments and the important battle in Wisconsin and other states over the claim that workers need to sacrifice a little more to help out their state governments, it is interesting to learn just how much big corporations pay in Federal Taxes. Would it surprise you if I told you that many of our largest corporations pay zero Federal taxes? (more…)

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Jet-setting canines have a new stop on the luxury hotel circuit. Hoteliers in Paris have opened a new dogs-only luxury hotel. To cater to their four-legged guests, Devi and Stan Burun, have included a heated pool, masseuse, televisions equipped with DVDs, and a doggie workout room with treadmills and a decor adorned with framed doggie prints.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Benjamin Arrow, a 3L at Fordham University School of Law, has raised an interesting question in his article for The Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. Can a use in fiction constitute a “use in commerce” sufficient to reserve priority rights in a trademark?

In 1996, Fox won a preliminary injunction against two Australian breweries for manufacturing a product called “Duff Beer.” Fox is also pursuing lawsuits against other breweries, but what harm could Fox allege?

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Lawyers Using Groupon – Ethical?

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We have previously discussed the law firm with the drive-thru window, here. That notion seems upscale compared to law firms using Goupon. Groupon (group coupon) is a deal-of-the-day website that can determine your computer’s location through it’s IP address and offer you discounts on goods and services in your area. If enough people sign up for the deal, it becomes available. If the predetermined minimum is not reached, no one gets the deal. Groupon makes money by keeping approximately half of the cost of the deal.

Groupon recently turned down a rumored $6 billion buy-out offer from Google.

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Three’s The (Ch)Arm

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Think reality is self-evident. Neuroscientists at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet aren’t so sure. Seems recent testing reveals it is quite easy to convince the human mind that it’s body has three arms.

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Have I The Right?

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Today we have The Honeycombs in glorious STEREO!

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Last week I wrote up a post titled Scott Walker: A Fiscally Responsible Governor or a Politician Who Is Playing Favorites?. Judging from the number of comments left at that post, it appears that people are very interested in what’s been going on in the state of Wisconsin. I think many people may believe that as Wisconsin goes—so goes the nation…and probably the life expectancy of labor unions and collective bargaining.

What got a lot of press attention was the story of the prank phone call that Governor Walker received from gonzo journalist Ian Murphy. Murphy pretended to be billionaire industrialist David Koch. He talked to Walker for twenty minutes. Murphy reportedly told the Associated Press he made the prank phone call in order to show how candid Walker would be in a conversation with Koch at a time when Democrats claim the governor was refusing to return their calls.

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Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

 

After a few recent discussions about Free Speech in earlier threads, I came across another example of how limited our Free Speech really is.  At a recent speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former CIA employee, Ray McGovern, attempted to protest her speech about Democracy and Freedom of Speech and how the freedom to disseminate information helped the Egyptians rid themselves of a brutal dictator.  (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) claims that birthright citizenship “undermines the intention of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Arizona Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills alleged that “if you go back to the original intent of the drafters … it was never intended to bestow citizenship upon aliens.” Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) trots out the old canard that the Citizenship Clause was drafted to “address slavery, not immigration.”

When one looks at the 1866 Senate debate regarding the 14th Amendment, the facts don’t support these claims.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The school board in Giles County, VA, has decided to remove the Ten Commandments posters in all local schools. The Virginia ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation had plaintiffs and threatened lawsuits that the school board would have almost surely lost. The school board decided it could better spend the estimated $300,000 cost of a lawsuit on instruction that wasn’t religious.

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Uptown

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Today we present The Crystals in glorious STEREO!

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Some of us have raised objections for the last two years on President Obama’s conflicting positions on gay rights. Now, White House Spokesman Jay Carney was able to nail down concretely the President’s position on gay marriage: he is still “grappling” with it.
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There is an interesting case in Los Angeles where David Martin found an all-you-can-eat offer at a Sushi restaurant a bit fishy . . . or perhaps not fishy enough. Martin went to the Studio City restaurant to take advantage of the all you can eat deal for $28. However, because he is a diabetic, he proceeded to eat the fish and leave the rice. That led Restaurant owner Jay Oh to cry foul and demand that he either eat the rice with the fish or pay a la carte prices. That led Martin to file suit.

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In one of the more awkward mug shots, Devra Oberlin, 48, has been arrested for DUI. Nothing strange there. Thousands are arrested under such charges every year. However, Oberlin is the former president of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
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Filings in Judith Regan’s pending lawsuit have revealed the identity of the person whom she says encouraged her to lie to federal investigators about her affair with former New York police commissioner, Homeland Security nominee and subsequent convicted felon Bernard Kerick. She previously described the person as a “senior fox executive” but papers revealed that she was referring to Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News.

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As Jeff Foxworthy might say, you know you’re a Redneck if you actually write down “Redneck” on your booking form under religion. That stand-up (and line-up) line properly goes to Joshua Lee Joehlin, who has become the first religiously Redneck inmate in Florida.
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After the posting this morning over the controversy involving former Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox, I had an opportunity to discuss the allegations with him in detail. Cox makes an interesting free speech case over his treatment and later termination for comments that he made on Twitter and on his blog. I wanted to share some of those details and the concern over a termination based on a lawyer’s statements in his private life.
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State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, have introduced a bill that would make it a felony to adhere to Sharia law in the state of Tennessee — punishable by 15 years in jail. The facially unconstitutional law would make Tennessee the leading state in the Union in the denial of freedom of religion.

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Seventeen police officers and the owners of the Majestic Auto Repair Shop have been arrested in an extortion scheme involving thousands of dollars of kickbacks from towing cases.
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Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox has reportedly been fired after Mother Jones Magazine identified him as the source of a tweet denouncing liberals and calling for the use of live ammunition against teacher protesters in Wisconsin.

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For two years, some of us have been criticizing President Obama for his Administration’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in federal courts. The Justice Department has now announced that it has decided to reverse its position and refuse to further defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

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There is an interesting case out of Delaware where the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the state Human Relations Commission that the manager of a Dover cinema, David Stewart, was racist for asking people in a largely black movie audience to turn off their cellphones and refrain from talking during the movie. What is most interesting is the individual who appears to have helped organize the complaint to the Human Relations Commission. The decision also overturned the $80,000 fine against the Carmike 14 Theater. The case is Boggerty v. Stewart, 2011 Del. LEXIS 108 (Feb. 17, 2011)
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We have been discussing the failure of President Obama and both parties to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while our cities and states continue to sell off property and shutdown vital programs due to a lack of money (here and here and here and here and here). Rep. Ron Paul again showed his mettle this month and again called for an end to the Afghan war. In legislation proposed with Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, Paul sought to withdraw funding for the war at a savings of more than $116 billion a year by ending the war in Afghanistan.
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We just saw how Michigan has responded to budget shortfalls by ordering the closure of half of Detroit’s school – pushing the class size to 60 students. Now, Supt. Tom Brady has gone one better: issuing pink slips to all of the teachers in the school system in anticipation of dire budget cuts. I have previously noted the disconnect in these stories as Congress and President Obama continue to gush billions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. An effort by Ron Paul to force a pull out of the war to save $100 billion a year was roundly rejected this week.

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I thought that I was a good father until I saw this clip of what a father did after 80 hours of snow-shoveling in Lake Tahoe.
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It appears that the people of Utah feel deeply about representation in Wisconsin. A Utah based group calling itself the American Recall Coalition has filed to campaign for the recall of Democratic senators who remain in hiding to stop legislation curtailing labor rules for teachers. It turns out that beyond a few pending matters in Salt Lake, the people of Utah are primarily concerned about matters in Madison.

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The hardline Islamic government in Gaza has implemented another edict under Sharia law. This time male hairdressers were told that they would be arrested if they continued to cut women’s hair.

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We have yet another example of mindless school policies leading to an equally mindless arrest. An eleven-year-old Arvada Colorado boy was arrested for drawing an inappropriate stick figure — even though his therapist had told him to draw such pictures as a way to managing his emotions.

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We recently saw how Utah was moving toward the establishment of the M1911 as the first official state gun. Now, Arizona is aiming to beat Utah to the prize by naming the Colt single-action Army revolver as its official state gun.

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Mayor William Lantigua of Lawrence. Massachusetts has announced that the city will no longer pay legal bills for police officers, including the bills for officers currently in court in nine brutality cases pending in U.S. District Court.
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As we continue to spend billions every week in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, states continue to cut basic programs for lack of funding. The latest is Illinois, which just cut all funding for drug and alcohol abuse treatment in the state and Michigan which has ordered Detroit to close half of its schools (driving class size to 60 students). What is striking is the lack of any connection drawn between these states which are short hundreds of millions of dollars in their budgets and the expenditures of billions each week in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Afghan women and public interest groups are opposing an effort of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to take over all of the shelters for abused and battered women. You may recall Karzai’s earlier feminist agenda when he initially support the legalization of rape. The new move is viewed as a way for the government to satisfy hardliners in blocking access to some women to shelters. The government is also expected to close some shelters entirely.

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Texas Tech University seems to be sending a rather curious message about its priorities. Faculty members are objecting after the administration froze faculty salaries for the entire university but then gave Texas Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville a $500,000 a year raise.
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FSU: The S is For (Semi-)Sober

I just saw this on Reddit and thought it was a bit of a curious sales pitch for Florida State University. I note that they do not give the same assurance of “mostly sober” for their faculty.
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Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Cat Lafitte has become the latest victim of the enticement of Facebook. Lafitte reportedly posted an assortment of shocking comments on her accounts, including bragging about cutting a hospital worker’s face when he tried to get her to stop screaming profanities into her cellphone.
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Larry Birkhead, the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s only surviving child Dannielynn (and therefore the heir to her large estate), is threatening legal action against the Royal Opera House over its opera “Anna Nicole.” Birkhead is insisting that the portrayal of Smith is not flattering or respectful — leading to some interesting questions of how (even if Anna Nicole were living) such an opera would defame a former stripper and reality television star who courted controversy in her life.
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Remember when Obama energy advisor Carol Browner assured the public that the oil from the BP spill has miraculously disappeared after criticism of Obama’s opening up the pristine areas of Eastern coast to exploration? Well, the Administration is still at odds with scientists who insist that the damage is devastating.
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Dog bites are the bread and butter of thousands of lawyers. One of the greatest secrets of the personal injury lawyers, however, is that a large portion of the bite business comes not from big dogs but little lap dogs. The secret is now out. New York health officials have released the 2010 data showing that the Chihuahua and Shih Tzu are two of the top five menacing breeds in the city.
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Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

 

You may have missed this story in the corporate media.   It is an issue that is near and dear to my heart.  It seems that a Federal Judge has dismissed a case brought by Jose Padilla and others against Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials, for a very interesting reason.  (more…)

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Mike Appleton (guest blogger)

A Florida circuit judge has issued  an administrative order virtually certain to result in a court battle pitting the right of free speech against the duty of courts to protect the integrity of jury deliberations.  The order prohibits “the dissemination of all leaflets and other materials to summoned jurors, as well as approaching a summoned juror for the purpose of displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education or counseling with information tending to influence summoned jurors on any matter, question, cause, or proceeding which may be pending, or which may be brought, before him or her as such juror… .”

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

There’s been a lot going on in Wisconsin in the past week. I hope most Americans are aware of the reason why so many Wisconsinites have converged on the state capital to hold demonstrations.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, claims that the state is in financial trouble. He’s asking teachers, plow drivers, janitors, nurses, garbage collectors, and other public sector workers to contribute more to their pensions and to pay a larger amount of their health premiums. It appears many of those workers are willing to negotiate with the governor and to consider having more money taken out of their paychecks for their pensions and health insurance. What those employees are not willing to do is relinquish their right to collective bargaining.

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Steve Martin’s character, Navin Johnson, has nothing on two West Virginia residents hell-bent to rescue a relative with car trouble. Hearing the plea for help, but without sufficient funds to finance the 34 mile trip from Somerset, PA to New Stanton, PA, cousins Michael Allen Graham, 37, and John Edward Barry, 35,  got  resourceful. Believing they could “live off the land,” so to speak, the Milton, WVa duo began an alleged shoplifting spree at gas stations and auto parts stores in the general direction of the disabled motorist.

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
One hundred twelve pound Cassie Herkelman is a historic figure in Iowa high school sports. Though Iowa has allowed girls to compete against boys in wrestling for two decades, Cassie is the first to win a match in Iowa’s legendary state wrestling tourney. The problem, for some, is that she won by forfeit.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The Constitution’s text on the issue states “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.” The problem arises due to a pesky comma. Does the clause “at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution” refer only to “a Citizen of the United States” or to both clauses including “a natural born Citizen?” It turns out that according to accepted rules of grammar in 1787, the pesky comma means that “at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution” refers to both antecedent clauses.

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