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Laurel Newby
New York
Recent Activity
The legal blogosphere is taking note of an amusing new guide to legal writing, courtesy of Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf and his entertaining blog, Hercules and the Umpire. (Hat tip: Lawyerist) Kopf, who joined the short list of judge-bloggers earlier this year, made waves back in 2008 with an irreverent Top 10 style critique of the U.S. Supreme Court's sentencing decisions, published in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. Kopf took on the high court again this April in a blog post titled "The frequent irrelevancy of the Supreme Court." Now he's back to the Top 10 format with some words of wisdom for attorneys submitting briefs to him and to "other all-knowing beings who ascend the federal trial bench, both literally and figuratively." Here's a sampling of Kopf's "Top ten legal writing hints when the audience is a cranky federal trial judge" (some of which he illustrates with links to relevant Urban Dictionary definitions and YouTube videos): Unless you are retrograde … or the judge won't allow it, hyperlink to cases and citations to the record. Remember, 9 out of 10 times a law clerk -- not the trial judge -- is the only... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
The Pioneer Press (via ABA Journal) has the story of a Minnesota man who was sentenced to probation this week after pleading guilty to making a terroristic threat against a police officer -- a threat that took the unusual form of a tattoo of a pig. Twenty-one-year-old Antonio Jenkins Jr., reputedly a member of the Bloods street gang, was charged after he posted a photo on Facebook of a tattoo on his bicep that depicted a person holding a gun to the mouth of a pig. The Pioneer Press reports that, according to the criminal complaint, the pig was "wearing a police hat and uniform with a patch on the right shoulder with 'Mpls. 8230' and a nameplate with the name 'J. Seidel' under the patch. Below the 'J. Seidel' were the words 'F--- the police.'" The message was allegedly intended to threaten Minneapolis police officer Jeffrey Seidel, who works in the gang investigation team. In a caption on the photo, Jenkins wrote, "My tattoo iz a pig get'n his brains blew out." The criminal complaint noted that 18 people had "Liked" the photo on Facebook. In November 2012, Jenkins was charged with making a terroristic threat for the benefit... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has revived a lawsuit by an Oklahoma man who objects to the image of a Native American sculpture on the state's license plates because its message conflicts with his Christian beliefs. The Associated Press reports that the court decided that Keith Cressman "can sue the state over its Indian 'rain god' license plate, ruling that the depiction of a noted sculpture on 3 million license plates could be interpreted as a state endorsement of a religion." (Turtle Talk, the blog for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law, has the filings in the case.) Oklahoma's license plate, unveiled in 2008, depicts artist Allan Houser's sculpture "Sacred Rain Arrow." According to Cressman's suit, the sculpture is based on a Native American legend and shows an Apache warrior shooting an arrow into the sky so that the "rain god" or "spirit world" would answer prayers for rain in a time of drought. Cressman claims in his suit that the sculpture tells "the story of a Native American who believes in sacred objects, multiple deities, the divinity of nature, and the ability of humans to use sacred objects... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
An actress who starred in a popular advertisement for a New York personal injury law firm has filed a suit alleging that the agency that produced the spot licensed the ad and her image to law firms around the country without her knowledge and without compensating her. She's seeking close to $1 million in compensation from the agency and the other law firms that licensed the ad. Elena Aroaz appeared in a 2009 advertisement for Trolman, Glaser & Lichtman that spoofed gold-digging personal injury plaintiffs. The ad, called "Machete," featured Aroaz sitting at a table discussing an injury in grave tones, with mournful piano music as the background score. "The pain was excruciating," she says. "It's like I had this huge, really sharp machete chopping down on me every time I tried to move." Soon, the nature of the wound is revealed: "It was the worst paper cut I ever had. They made that paper way too sharp." Aroaz raises one index finger with a green bandage on it, saying, "Someone has to pay." Text on the screen reads, "There are some cases even we can't win." As the contact information for the law firm appears, a voiceover says: "If... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
While several new health studies concerning breastfeeding are making the rounds, the topic has also been generating headlines in the employment law context, thanks to a recent Fifth Circuit ruling (as reported in Texas Lawyer's Tex Parte Blog) involving the firing of a woman because she wanted to use a breast pump at work. According to the opinion, when Donnicia Venters spoke to her boss at Houston Funding about using a breast pump at work upon her return from maternity leave, her request was met with a long pause, then the news that her position had been filled. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought a Title VII action against Houston Funding, alleging the company had discriminated against Venters based upon her sex. U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes (who has recently made news and caught bloggers' attention for allegedly racially insensitive comments) granted summary judgment in favor of Houston Funding, finding that Venters' firing did not constitute sex discrimination because "lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition." While "cramping, dizziness, and nausea" are conditions related to pregnancy, Hughes wrote, lactation does not make that list. After Venters gave birth, the opinion stated, "she was no longer pregnant... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
It's not unusual for judges and prosecutors to fail to see eye-to-eye on criminal sentencing issues. But it might just be a first for a federal judge to send an email comparing herself to a comic book character known for morphing into a large, green, superhuman "Hulk," and warn lawyers in the U.S. Attorney's Office, "You won't like me when I'm angry." The email has, not surprisingly, garnered some interest -- as has the resignation of the prosecutor who received it. The Des Moines Register (via the Sentencing Law and Policy blog and ABA Journal) has the story of the clash between U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose and prosecutors in the Southern District of Iowa U.S. Attorney's Office over sentencing in several criminal cases. Rose, who was confirmed as a federal judge last September in a U.S. Senate vote of 89-1, is the country's youngest federal judge at 40 years old. She had been a longtime federal prosecutor and served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa before her appointment to the bench. The Des Moines Register reviewed recently unsealed emails sent between Rose and federal prosecutors concerning the case of a convicted drug dealer named Bryan... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
Last week we discussed an Illinois judge who, after being arrested on drug and firearms charges, ended up at a court hearing wearing cut-off jean shorts and a T-shirt bearing the slogan, "Bad is my middle name." Not the most appropriate ensemble, to be sure, but here (via Jonathan Turley) is the story of a litigant who took the concept of questionable courtroom attire to the extreme. A New Jersey man attended a family court hearing this week wearing a Nazi uniform. Yikes. On the other hand, the outfit did coordinate nicely with his Hitler-esque mustache and swastika tattoos. Heath Campbell and his family gained notoriety in December 2008, when employees of a ShopRite supermarket refused to spell out the name of their 3-year-old son on a birthday cake. That name: Adolf Hitler Campbell. Heath Campbell said at at the time that he named his son after Adolf Hitler because "no one else in the world would have that name." Indeed. He said that those who would object to such a moniker "need to accept a name. A name's a name. The kid isn't going to grow up and do what (Hitler) did." And the Campbells stuck to the same... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
A new survey from Lawyers.com has been making the rounds on law blogs this week, due to its somewhat surprising revelation that, even amid seemingly constant headlines about the shaky job market greeting today's law grads, nearly two-thirds of parents hope that their children will pursue careers in the law. The survey results were based on 1,001 phone interviews conducted in English and Spanish. Of survey respondents with children in their household, 64 percent said they hope their kids will grow up to be lawyers. Respondents were also asked about whether they would like to have a lawyer as a son- or daughter-in law. A majority of mothers surveyed -- 55 percent -- liked the idea, while future father-in-laws were less keen, with only 38 percent saying they were interested in having their child marry a lawyer. "Being a lawyer means being a respected professional, and that's something that parents want for their children," Larry Bodine, editor-in-chief of Lawyers.com, is quoted as saying. “Despite the tough economy facing the next generation, it's exciting to note that nearly two-thirds of parents would be happy with a law degree in their child’s future." But some commentators find the results more alarming than... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
Employment law blogs, including Porter Wright's Employer Law Report and Ogletree Deakins' Employment Law Matters, have been discussing an Advice Memorandum recently released by the National Labor Relations Board that addresses when an employee may be fired over negative comments about an employer on social media, and when such messages constitute "protected concerted activity" under the National Labor Relations Act. The case involves private Facebook group messages written between current and former employees of Tasker Healthcare Group (doing business as Skinsmart Dermatology). During a group message discussion initiated to organize a social event, one employee took the opportunity to express some dissatisfaction with her supervisor and with the company in general. Among other comments, the employee (who the NLRB memo refers to as the Charging Party) wrote that the company is "full of shit ... They seem to be staying away from me, you know I don't bite my [tongue] anymore, FUCK … FIRE ME … MAKE my day …" No other current employees participated in that part of the conversation, but later on, one employee did write that "it's getting bad" at Tasker and that "it's just annoying as hell. It's always some dumb shit going on." The morning... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
An Illinois judicial scandal involving drugs, death and some truly unfortunate courtroom attire has been gaining steam this week. An arraignment was held Tuesday for St. Clair County probation worker James Fogarty, who is accused of selling cocaine to two county judges, Joseph Christ and Michael Cook. Christ died in March while on a hunting trip with Cook at a lodge owned by Cook's family. A coroner on Friday confirmed that Christ's death was due to cocaine intoxication. Christ, a longtime prosecutor, was sworn in as a judge only 10 days before his death. He was 49 years old and a father of six. Cook, a 43-year-old St. Clair County circuit judge, has not been charged in connection with Christ's death, but was arrested last week on charges of heroin possession and using a controlled substance while in possession of a firearm, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Cook resigned from the bench on Wednesday, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. A letter submitted by his attorney stated that Cook "was away in treatment." Cook pleaded not guilty at a hearing Friday, appearing in court wearing cut-off jean shorts and a T-shirt bearing the message "Bad is my middle name." That was apparently... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
I can't say that I've tried Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos, but it seems as though I'm in the minority. The menu item introduced last year has been so popular that it's helped create 15,000 new jobs for the fast food chain, Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed says. More than 1 million of the tacos are reportedly sold every day, with more than 500 million sold since the product was launched. [This Fast Company article provides an in-depth look at the origins and impact of the chain's "disruptive faux cheese-dusted taco."] Creating a taco shell out of Doritos chips was clearly an inspired concept -- and a federal prison inmate is now claiming that idea was all his. The Dallas Observer reports (via Consumerist), that Gary Cole, an inmate at a high-security prison in Colorado, filed a federal lawsuit in Texas this week alleging that Taco Bell stole his idea for the Doritos tacos. As proof, Cole offers a copy of a 2006 letter sent to his attorney, in which Cole recorded ideas for a number of potential products, including "Tacos [sic] Shells of All Flavors (Made of Doritos)." Among the other merchandise ideas listed were some items branded "Divas... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
iPhone users (and other Apple devotees), take note. A proposed class action filed in California seeks $5 million in damages against Apple over allegations that the company knew about a latent defect in the iPhone 4's power button and failed to disclose it. But here's the twist: The plaintiff alleges that Apple not only knew that the power button would fail, it knew when the button would fail -- just after the expiration of the phone's one-year warranty period. In her complaint, filed in federal district court, Debra Hilton says her iPhone 4 "suffered a terminal power button failure" 15 months after she bought it, and three months after her warranty expired. The only option that Apple's customer service offered her, she said, was to pay $149.99, plus shipping, for repair or replacement of the phone. The alleged defect involves a flex cable connected to the phone's power button, the "premature deterioration" of which "causes the power button to become harder and harder to depress until eventually it becomes entirely unresponsive," according to the complaint. Hilton alleges that Apple "knew that this defect existed as of the time of the phone's manufacture, and that it would be substantially certain to... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
Grabbing an ice-cold brew in Indiana may become a lot more convenient, if a trade group succeeds in its challenge to a 50-year-old state law that restricts gas stations, grocery stores and convenience stores to selling beer only at room temperature. The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association filed suit in federal district court in Indianapolis on Tuesday, arguing that the law against the sale of cold beer creates a "discriminatory regulatory regime." Package liquor stores in the state are permitted to sell cold beer. Scot Imus, the association's executive director, told The Associated Press that the law "says pharmacies, convenience stores and grocery stores are capable enough to sell the product warm, then it gets rather arbitrary about what temperature it can be sold at. When you change the temperature, it doesn't change the alcohol content." Indiana is the only state that regulates beer sales based on temperature, according to the suit. And the 1963 law only applies to beer; convenience and grocery stores are free to sell chilled wine. Convenience store groups have waged a long and unsuccessful lobbying campaign to convince state legislators to change the law, according to reports. The... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
It's been an eventful week for Cody Wilson, the 25-year-old University of Texas law student, self-described crypto-anarchist and creator of a 3-D printed handgun called The Liberator. Wilson's organization, Defense Distributed, has garnered much media attention for its Wiki Weapon Project, a "nonprofit effort to create freely available plans for 3D printable guns." Wilson's crusade has now landed him in the government's sights -- and his legal troubles may just be beginning. After Wilson made headlines for unveiling and successfully test-firing the plastic weapon, Defense Distributed last week posted downloadable blueprints for creating the gun on a 3-D printer. Several days later, Wilson received a letter from the State Department ordering the removal of the designs from the site pending review of whether publishing them constituted distribution of "technical data" in violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The problem? The plans had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times and published to numerous file-sharing sites. Meanwhile, Defense Distributed's endeavor is getting more notice than ever, and Wilson seems undaunted (to say the least). The issue has caught the attention of lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, who has argued for a ban on 3-D printable guns. "A... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
The buzz continues to build about Google Glass, generating explanatory reviews, opinion pieces, etiquette guides -- even a Saturday Night Live sketch. As early users and tech writers offer first-person accounts, reviews and analysis -- some ecstatic, some skeptical -- much of the debate is centering on privacy concerns over the potentially game-changing wearable computer product. A New York Times article this week discusses the legal issues awaiting the release and potential widespread use of the device. "Glass is arriving just as the courts, politicians, privacy advocates, regulators, law enforcement and tech companies are once again arguing over the boundaries of technology in every walk of life," David Streitfeld writes. The article quotes social media expert Bradley Shear, who says that Glass "will test the right to privacy versus the First Amendment." The Times piece describes the backlash already building against Google Glass well in advance of its release. A Seattle bar made headlines by pre-emptively banning Glass, while legislators in West Virginia are trying to add the device to a state ban on texting while driving. Of course, establishments (such as casinos) that already ban recording devices are also unlikely to be Glass-friendly. Computerworld has reported that a spokesperson... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
Major cosmetics companies have recently been hit with false advertising lawsuits alleging that they misled customers about testing on animals and marketed skincare products in a way that made them sound like drugs approved by the FDA. Now, there are reports of a new suit against cosmetics giant Lancome involving claims of a more, well, cosmetic sort. The New York Post and ABC News report that Rorie Weisberg, an Orthodox Jewish woman in New York, is suing Lancome and its parent company, L'Oreal, over its advertising for its Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation, which promises "24 hours of longwear, 24 hours of comfort." Weisberg "abides by Jewish law by not applying makeup from sundown on Friday until nighttime on Saturday," according to court papers. She bought the $45 product on Lancome's website, specifically looking for a long-wearing foundation that would last through the Sabbath for her son's bar mitzvah celebration. Lancome's website advertises that the foundation is the result of "8 years of research," and touts its "new EternalSoft technology" which "defeats all challenges." But Weisberg contends that it did not live up to the challenge of overnight wear. Instead of providing "lasting perfection," Weisberg found that the foundation "faded... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
As the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings continued this week, with charges brought against former classmates of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, there was an indication that media coverage of the event -- tied to the unique, crowd-sourced nature of the investigation of the bombing suspects -- might lead to some legal fallout as well. Erik Wemple's blog at The Washington Post reports that the father of one of the two young men who appeared on the cover of the April 18 issue of the New York Post is considering suing the newspaper over the false implication that his son was involved in the bombing. The New York Post published a photo of 17-year-old Salah Barhoum and another man, with the headline "BAG MEN: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon." Barhoum, who had no connection to the bombings, had gone to the police the day before to clear his name after seeing photos of himself circulating online. He told ABC News at the time that his reaction to seeing the New York Post cover was "the worst feeling that I can possibly feel … I'm only 17." Salah Barhoum's father, El Houssein Barhoum, said this week that he is... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
With new marijuana laws coming into effect in some states, police officers won't be tasked as often with seizing small amounts of pot from citizens. But in an unusual case making the news this week from Washington state, police are actually being asked -- well, ordered -- to give some back. A municipal court judge in Tacoma, Wash., has ordered police -- twice -- to return a small amount of marijuana seized during a traffic stop last year, threatening them with a contempt finding if they don't comply. And though the quantity of marijuana at issue is small, the case points to larger issues involving conflicts between state and federal laws regarding the drug. Joseph L. Robertson had a small amount of marijuana confiscated during a traffic stop in May 2012 and was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. The charges were dropped in December, after Washington state voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana. Robertson then asked for his pot back, providing proof of medical authorization. The police refused, and Tacoma Municipal Court Judge Jack Emery issued an order on February 28 compelling them to return the drugs. The police did not comply, and the marijuana remains at the Pierce... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
The New York Law Journal has a report this week about developments in a proposed class action against a Manhattan dentist who required patients to sign a confidentiality agreement in which they promised not to publish negative commentary about her and to assign her a copyright over any such commentary. A federal judge in New York has firmly rejected a motion to dismiss the case, which will now proceed against Dr. Stacy Makhnevich (who is described on her website as a "dentist, artist and opera singer"). The case made news when it was filed in late 2011 by Makhnevich's former patient Robert Lee, who was dissatisfied with the dental office's failure to submit reimbursement forms to his insurance company. A day after Lee posted negative reviews of Makhnevich on websites, including Yelp and DoctorBase, Makhnevich sent him a letter stating that he had violated the terms of the "Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy" that he had signed before treatment. Makhnevich threatened to sue Lee for $100,000 in damages, claiming copyright infringement, breach of contract and defamation. She later sent Lee invoices charging him $100 a day for copyright infringement. With the backing of consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, Lee sued... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
Here's a reminder that judges aren't above the rules of courtroom decorum -- or immune from embarrassing technological snafus. Michigan Judge Raymond Voet held himself in contempt on Friday and paid a $25 fine after his new smartphone made its presence known during a jury trial in his courtroom. As the prosecutor made his closing arguments, Voet's phone started asking for voice commands. "I'm guessing I bumped it. It started talking really loud, saying 'I can't understand you. Say something like Mom,'" Voet said, according to the Ionia County, Mich., Sentinel Standard. "My face got as red as a beet." Voet is a stickler when it comes to disturbances of this type, and has a posted policy in his courtroom warning that disruptions caused by electronic devices will result in the confiscation of the items, a contempt of court finding and a $25 fine. The Associated Press reports that Voet has enforced the rule against police officers, attorneys, witnesses, spectators and friends over the years -- and now he can add himself to the list. He paid the fine during a trial recess. "Judges are humans," Voet said. "They're not above the rules. I broke the rule and I have... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
The escalating patent battle between shapewear makers Spanx and Yummie Tummie over body-slimming camisoles has sparked discussion about what it and similar cases may mean for the future of design patents in the fashion industry. The dispute has proven to be quite alluring to news outlets and bloggers, inspiring a wide range of punny headlines such as "Battle of the Bulge", "Girdlegate 2013" and "Spanx Tells Yummie Tummie to 'Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Deal With It'!" In short, shapewear industry giant Spanx filed a request for declaratory judgment in federal court in Atlanta in March, in response to a cease and desist letter sent in January by the Yummie Tummie shapewear brand, which claimed that Spanx's designs infringe Yummie Tummie's patents for three-panel slimming camisoles. Last week, Yummie Tummie filed a patent infringement suit against Spanx in New York. In the meantime, Yummie Tummie founder (and reality TV personality) Heather Thomson posted an open letter on the Yummie Tummie website to billionaire Spanx founder Sara Blakely, tried to start a Twitter campaign (#shameonyouspanx) and told Women's Wear Daily that Blakely should be "ready for war." Forbes ran an interesting piece on Wednesday calling the Spanx-Yummie Tummie dispute... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
Watch out, Hooters. Texas restaurant chain Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill can now officially call itself "America's ONLY Breastaurant®." Bikinis founder and CEO Doug Guller announced in a recent press release that "Breastaurant® is now a Registered Trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office of the Department of Commerce." It's a signal of a growing industry -- and it's not the first time that the restaurants formerly known as breastaurants have made news over intellectual property-related issues. The breastaurant term has been used to describe establishments that offer food, drink and, most importantly, waitresses in smaller-than-average uniforms. Among them: the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, which has a Celtic theme and waitresses called Tilted Kilt Girls® who sport tartan bra-tops and tiny kilts. The Twin Peaks chain -- slogan: "Eats. Drinks. Scenic Views" -- offers a mountain lodge atmosphere with female wait staff dressed in what might be best described as "sexy lumberjack" attire, and which promises patrons that, "Twin Peaks is about you, because YOU'RE THE MAN!" New York-based Canz has a roadhouse vibe, with waitresses in tight black tank tops and knee socks. At Bikinis, the servers wear cut-off shorts and -- well, you've guessed it... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
Donald Trump announced last week that he is dropping his $5 million lawsuit against comedian Bill Maher over Maher's statement on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that he would donate $5 million to a charity of Trump's choice if Trump could prove that he was not "the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan." The joke was a reference to an offer that Trump -- a supporter of the so-called "birther" movement -- made to President Barack Obama last fall to donate $5 million to charity if Obama would release his college transcripts. Trump produced his birth certificate and sued Maher for $5 million, saying that Maher didn't honor his end of the bargain. The spat escalated with Maher's incredulous response on his TV show, Real Time with Bill Maher, in which he said Trump needed to learn "what a joke is and what a contract is" and that the legal system is "not a toy for rich idiots to play with." As The Am Law Daily reported ("Comic Maher Goes Ape Over Cooley-Repped Trump's Simian Sex Suit"), Maher also took some comic shots at Trump's lawyer, Cooley's Scott Balber, showing a letter from Balber and saying,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
The latest in the salacious saga of Michigan Judge Wade McCree has been making the law blog rounds this week (via Jonathan Turley, Above the Law), with the release of McCree's answer to the state Judicial Tenure Commission's complaint against him over a series of alleged ethics violations related to his sexual relationship with a complaining witness in a child support case. McCree, who allegedly impregnated the woman, Geniene La'Shay Mott, admitted in his answer to the complaint that he "made the unfortunate decision to engage in a sexual relationship with Ms. Mott and also admits that on a few occasions, the relationship took place in his chambers." McCree allegedly sent text messages to Mott from the bench, including a much-reported text cited in the complaint, which read: "C'mon, U'r talking about the 'docket from hell, 'filled w/tatted up, overweight, half-ass English speaking, gap tooth skank hoes ... and then you walk in." McCree states in his answer that the message "was sent in an effort to flatter Ms. Mott and was not intended to demean any person who had appeared in [McCree's] courtroom." Jonathan Turley writes: "I cannot imagine anyone feeling demeaned by a judge calling them "tatted up,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch
A significant copyright decision this week has lawyers, bloggers and commentators speculating about the future of the first sale doctrine in the digital age. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Sullivan has granted summary judgment in favor of Capitol Records in its infringement suit against online digital music reseller ReDigi, which bills itself as "The World's First Pre-Owned Digital Marketplace." Sullivan rejected ReDigi's first sale defense, holding that the defense "is limited to material items, like records, that the copyright owner put into the stream of commerce" and finding that, in reselling digital music, ReDigi is "distributing reproductions of the copyrighted code embedded in new material objects, namely, the ReDigi server in Arizona and its users' hard drives." Sullivan wrote that the first sale defense "does not cover this any more than it covered the sale of cassette recordings of vinyl records in a bygone era." On the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Deeplinks Blog, EFF's Corynne McSherry writes that what is "particularly frustrating" about the ruling is that "the court reached that decision despite the fact that Redigi went out of its way to prevent actual harm to any copyright owner." The method by which ReDigi transfers ownership of the digital music... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2013 at Legal Blog Watch