Archive for the ‘Lawyering’ Category

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

You may not have heard of it before, but the government has the ability to shut off cell phone service at any time, under the guise of National Security.  The Department of Homeland Security has an operating procedure known as Standard Operating Procedure 303( SOP 303) and it has been labeled as the cell phone “kill switch”.

I knew very little about the “kill switch” before today, but according to a recent Al Jezeera America article, the kill switch authority is being currently debated in Federal court. (more…)

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816fd620-f069-11e4-a4a8-49179b3b0ba2_Baltimore-copsLike many, I am still waiting for the evidence used as the basis to charge the six officers in Baltimore for the death of Freddie Gray. This morning, however, I was disturbed to read that an effort to create a fundraising site for the defense of the officers was taken down on GoFundMe. It appears that the site has a very questionable standard for funding that does not afford accused parties a presumption of innocence in asking for support to fund their defense.

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200px-AbalogoI will have the honor of serving as the moderator on a panel at the American Bar Association’s conference in Washington, D.C. today. The panel is entitled “Stranger in a Strange Land: Cross Cultural Issues in the Courts.” This is part of an internationally successful program organized by Judge Hon. Delissa A. Ridgway of U.S. Court of International Trade. Judge Ridgway has brought together jurists and lawyers from around the world to discuss difficult cultural issues that are increasingly appearing in criminal and civil cases. These cases deal with arguments or defenses that turn on the cultural norms or practices of a given defendant or litigant. The cases have forced the question of when and how courts should recognize such defenses.

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PanepintoPhiladelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Panepinto appears immovable on a controversial roughly $1 million sanction imposed on insurance defense lawyer Nancy Raynor after a witness discussed a bar subject in his testimony. Raynor insists that she told the witness not to discuss that a woman in the case was a smoker. Various witnesses have come forward to say that they heard Raynor give such instructions, but Panepinto has dismissed the new evidence and refused to budge on the sanction. Many lawyers are worried about the standard being set by the case since witnesses will sometimes stray in their testimony without any direction or knowledge of counsel.

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scales_of_justiceMichigan attorney Todd Levitt is again in court this month. Levitt recently lost a controversial libel lawsuit over a parody Twitter account by a Central Michigan University student that mocked his “badass” approach to legal marketing. The opinion (here) found that the site by was obviously a parody and that Levitt, who teaches at CMU as an adjunct, sued Zachary Felton without cause for his “badass parody.” Now, Levitt is suing his opposing counsel, who also teaches at CMU as an adjunct.

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d24d68ba081ac99041d0a1418fdb459dSan Diego University Law Professor Shaun P. Martin has prevailed in a bizarre lawsuit filed by Melanie Welch, who sued Martin for defamation after he discussed her case on his blog. In addition, the court imposed attorney fees against Welch for the litigation. The case is Welch v. Univ. of San Diego (Cal. App. 2015) and constitutes a victory for free speech protections.

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488px-scientology_symbolsvgWest Allis, Wis., police had a bit of a surprise when they responded to a call about a mysterious man in the neighborhood near Milwaukee in July 2013 and found Dwayne S. Powell, a private detective, with two laptop computers, binoculars, a GPS tracking device, a stun gun, two rifles, four handguns, 2,000 rounds of ammunition and a homemade silencer in a rented SUV. While first resisting to give his name, Powell reportedly admitted that he was hired to keep continual watch on the father of David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology, who had separated from the church. Powell further stated that, after seeing what he believed was a possible heart attack, he contacted David Miscavige, who allegedly told him to let his father Ronald Miscavige Sr. die and not intervene or call help. The case has not led to litigation but it could.

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