May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

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Quote of the Day - Man is the only animal that laughs and has a state legislature. - Samuel Butler
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There are 2033 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 160

By Not Telling Us, They Told Us

Attorneys have often wondered how to get a good motion granted after it's been denied. Now, we know.

Change judges, or ask the Court to reconsider your motion. But wait a minute, CCP 1008 (scroll to bottom) says you have to have new facts, new law or a change in circumstances, otherwise it has to be done within 10 days of the original motion.

Not anymore.

Our California Supreme Court says a trial court can reconsider a motion based on its own inherent authority. Sounds a bit like Marbury v. Madison. You know, the legislature told us we had to do it this way, but we like this other way instead.

As I quoted Robert Frost a few days ago, "Isn't it funny that everything the Supreme Court says is right?"

Don't get me wrong here; I'm not complaining. I agree with this decision. It's just that the conclusion of the opinion says it all:

"In this case, the individual defendants filed a new [second] motion for summary judgment ... , which they were not permitted to do. The trial court erred in granting that motion. Plaintiffs argue that this circumstance means that we must order that the case go to trial. We disagree. We merely hold that the court erred in granting an impermissible motion. On remand, nothing prohibits the court from reconsidering its previous ruling on its own motion, a point on which we express no opinion." (Emphasis not in original).

In other words, "you shouldn't have, but nevermind, go right ahead."

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, June 12, 2005 at 20:21. Comments Closed (0) |

Did You Expect Anything Less?

AP makes a big deal out of six millionaires on the Supreme Court: Bryer; Ginsburg; O'Connor; Scalia; Souter; and, Stevens.

My question is why aren't the other three: Kennedy; Rehnquist; and Thomas? They each earn over $200,000. By my calculations, that's a mere five years to the $1,000,000 mark.

Add to that book deals, supplemental teaching salaries, and travel reimbursements, and they bring in even more bucks.

And think about it: the last appointment to the Supreme Court was in 1994, eleven years ago. They work a few months out of the year and receive a hefty budget to administer their court. Sweet deal. Plenty of time to manage investments or fill out those financial disclosure statements, the rules for which are longer than most opinions.

These days, a million is almost expected. What would have been surprising? My eyebrows would have gone up if AP had used the b-word for their net worth.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, June 11, 2005 at 13:50. Comments Closed (3) |

I Can't Come Up With A Headline For This One

Talk about needing a second opinion. A woman in Florida died after receiving chemotherapy for cancer she didn't have.

A jury awarded her husband $8 million.

It was only after the coroner conducted an autopsy that they discovered the tumor she had in her lung was benign and could have easily been removed by surgery. I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV, but didn't anyone think of taking a biopsy?

And doctors complain they need tort reform.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, June 10, 2005 at 13:21. Comments Closed (0) |

Blawgers As Advertisers? No More So Than The Kentucky Bar Association.

For the roundup, start with Lisa Stone. Blawggers, led by Paul Revere (hat tip: Monica) have taken up Ben Cowgill's battle cry. Blogfather Eugene Volkh, Gloucester Bob Ambrogi, Evan Schaeffer and even the good Professor Bainbridge all have great insight into the definition of lawyer advertising in Kentucky.

This isn't the first time the Kentucky Bar Association has been in dutch. In fact, the issue of commercial speech and attorney advertising is a bit mixed up, with the Supreme Court typically allowing the free flow of information to the public.

That's what blawgs do.

Sure, blawgs are advertising, but then again, so is the Kentucky Bar Association website on lawyer advertising. Do they pay a $50.00 fee for their webpage? l bet Ben Cowgill would take their check if they want him to ensure it protects the public.

Seriously, though, I agree that we should Act Like Lawyers, Dammit!. If you don't want to write a separate letter, at a minimum, print out your blawgpost on the subject of lawyer advertising, and send it here:

Lori McMakin
Attorneys' Advertising Commission Paralegal
Kentucky Bar Association
514 West Main Street
Frankfort, KY 40601-1883

or just click on Lori McMakin's email address, and send it in.

But what about the rationale of commercial speech vs. free speech? Where do lawyer's blogs fall on that slippery slope? Is there even a difference between the two? Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion in 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island: “I do not see a philosophical or historical basis for asserting that ‘commercial’ speech is of ‘lower value’ than ‘noncommercial’ speech. Indeed, some historical materials suggest to the contrary.”

When I first said that blawgs are advertising, I meant it in the broadest sense of the word, and frankly, under my definition, everything is advertising. A minister, rabbi, priest or shaman could use blue sky as an advertisement for the supreme being. But, let's be a bit more practical.

Is the Kentucky Bar Association's request for donations to its foundation advertising? Surely it is. But it's also commercial speech. The Kentucky Bar Association is trying to convince Kentuckians that the entire Bar Association cares about the regular guy. Who regulates the Bar?

The Supreme Court has struck down many restrictions on commercial speech, and essentially, commercial speech is free speech. The Kentucky Bar Association may want to look closely at its own actions before pointing out the speck in Ben Cowgill's eye, if it's even a speck. Ben, like the rest of the blawgers across the country, are entitled to speak freely on weblogs, just like they can speak freely in self-published books.

The web is just a little hard to keep up with.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, June 09, 2005 at 23:11. Comments Closed (2) |

Inversely Proportional: Bank/Money and Bank/Consumer Data

You've seen them roaming the streets, pulling up to banks. Gun-toting guards between the truck and the bank doors, one guard hauling bags-o-cash out from the bank into the truck.

That's a bit of a different way then the banks handle computer data tapes.

They're shipped - among other ways - by Brown. Yep, banks protect their valuable money with armored cars, but consumer data ...

'Protected' via common carrier.

Your and my personal data goes from the bank to the credit agencies by regular, everyday truck, not by armored truck.

Think that practice will change anytime soon?

Apparently, Citibank has lost tapes of consumer data for four million of its customers. They were 'misplaced' sometime between when they were picked up from the bank and (not) delivered to the credit agencies.

My suggestion? Treat our data like you treat your money.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, June 08, 2005 at 22:39. Comments Closed (0) |

I'm Blogging This

'This' is the Orange County Bar Association Legal Ethics in Cyberspace seminar. The seminar deals with lawyers who have websites for their law firms, engage in multijurisdictional practice, and send and receive emails. It also covered the potential for the electronic formation of the attorney-client relationship.

Nothing on blawgs. Yep, I'm here because Blawgger Extraordinaire Denise Howell spotted this seminar, had a conflict, and wanted to know if blawgs were even 'on the radar' for this seminar. She invited me to attend on her behalf.

I'm sorry to report blawgs haven't made it before the ethics gurus at local law schools, who are sitting at the podium. They asked if anyone in the audience had a website, used email (actually, that question was asked in the reverse - who didn't use email?), or a listserv. No question was asked whether anyone in the audience blawgged. It's safe to say I was the only one.

They did offer some good advice on disclaimers. You'll shortly see some improvements in ours, based on the .pdf version of the PowerPoint Ranger presentation at the seminar.

The message on advertising, apparently, from the bars of the several states is still 'eewwwww.' That's the technical, legal term for lawyer advertising under the Rules of Professional Conduct. I'm glad blawggers haven't earned that moniker yet.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 at 20:18. Comments Closed (1) |

Hazed and Confused. And Dead.

If you played sports, joined a fraternity/sorority or virtually any other organization, you've probably experienced hazing in one form or another. California has an anti-hazing law, as do a host of other states.

Florida is the latest to add an anti-hazing law. Unfortunately, it took another death for the law to get enacted.

Why?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I got hazed as a young frosh on my football team, a swab at the Coast Guard Academy, and while rushing my fraternity (note here: all now have anti-hazing policies) and did my share of hazing, too. But no one got physically hurt - when I got hazed or when I "dished" it out. I understand now that not everyone comes through the experience the same way, though.

If you live in Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota or Wyoming, you may want to get in touch with your legislator. There are no hazing laws in these states. Check Stophazing.org for more information.

After being hazed and doing some hazing, however, I learned how to be a True Gentleman. Maybe it's catching.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, June 06, 2005 at 22:58. Comments Closed (0) |

And The Envelope, Please ... The Winner Is ... We're Waiting ...

It's coming, and perhaps sooner than you may think. Wags think Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist may retire by the end of the month.

But that's not what's coming. You certainly have seen the storm clouds on the horizon. The battle over who will be the next appointment will last a lot longer than a potential filibuster.

Apparently, the White House has a short list of nominees. Some have longer lists.

Here's the roundup of conventional wisdom of bloggers on the nominees.

Everyone's got a thought, and there are even betting pools on who will be the next nominee, and the next, and the next.

Who would you nominate?

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, June 05, 2005 at 22:59. Comments Closed (0) |



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