Award Someone You KnowYou have a little more than a month left. If you're a lawyer, that is.
To nominate someone you know for the Law Technology News Law Firm and Law Department awards. The deadline has been extended to December 13.
This is a great opportunity to get recognition for your firm or law department, for the hard work you've done during the last year. There are five categories, including Information Technology director, IT champion, most innovative use of technology in a trial by a law firm and by a law department.
The winners will be honored at LTN's second annual Awards dinner in New York City during Legal Tech New York, on January 31, 2005.
Details and an application form are available at the LTN Awards site or you can download the application form right here.
Go State! Win One For the Gipper! We're #1!Law school rankings are the bane of every law school Dean. They're kind of like the legal version of a football coach's win-loss record.
Rumor has it that Deans have been fired (middle of the page) if their rankings drop.
So, how about this story of a New Jersey Judge banning other New Jersey judges from voting on law school rankings?
Brilliant idea. That's only going to hurt New Jersey law schools, says UT Law Professor Brian Leiter. In Leiter Reports he opines that "removing the New Jersey judges from the pool will simply penalize the New Jersey law schools, which are, presumably, rated more highly by New Jersey judges than judges in neighboring jurisdictions."
Those schools, Rutgers-Newark (78 in Assessment by Lawyers and Judges in 2004, 72 overall), Rutgers-Camden (89 & 72, respectively) and Seton Hall (89 & 89, respectively), as noted by the TaxProf Blog, may see a dip next year in their ratings. The TaxProf is Professor Paul Caron of the University of Cincinatti.
Many criticisms exist of the ranking system, presumably though not by many in the top tier but more so by those at the bottom. But they do mean something. Most lawyers, after asking your name and practice area, will ask where did you go to law school? Law firms and most companies still determine whether to hire lawyers based on what law school a prospective attorney attended.
Maybe it should be, "How many trials have you won?" or "How many of your contracts have been broken?"
Maybe it should just be, "Hi, nice to meet you."
How Not To Disqualify Your Favorite Federal JudgeA recent Los Angeles Daily Journal (the local lawyer's rag) newspaper featured an article about hiring a hitman as an alternative to recusing a federal judge. The article requires a paid subscription, so you'll just have to trust me on this one. The author opined that the federal judiciary needs a better system to recuse judges.
Here's the short version. Federal judge dismisses a corporate case, believing the CEO perjured himself. Federal judge follows up with prosecutors, and writes a letter seeking to have the CEO charged. Prosecutors oblige, but file the case against the CEO in a different court. Federal judge orders the case transferred to his court. CEO seeks to have the dismissing / charging / transferring federal judge recuse himself. Federal judge not only refuses to recuse himself, but also revokes bail, throwing the CEO in jail. CEO, while in jail, is caught on tape by the FBI while attempting to hire a hitman to recuse the judge permanently.
Why should it have to come down to hiring a hitman to get rid of a judge?
In state court, we have a lovely little mechanism called a Peremptory challenge. It can only be used once per side, which really causes a quandary whether to use the challenge mechanism.
That way, it's not up to the judge to determine whether to back out of a case. It's up to the parties. Look at the mess with Scalia and Cheney. Does it really take 10 pages to explain why you're not prejudiced in favor of one party? Like the Daily Journal article said, if it takes 10 pages to explain that, you've missed the point.
The federal system has no similar mechanism that allows the parties to disqualify a judge.
Maybe it's about time we considered putting one into place that doesn't involve a hitman.
Should We Reconsider Case Management Conferences?Court this morning was not interesting. Boring, in a word. And expensive. But it didn't have to be.
Unfortunately, it was.
Let's look at it this way. Years ago, cases in California used to take five years to get to trial, maybe more. The people revolted. The legislature reacted.
We got Fastrack.
Cases are now tried in an average of eighteen months or less. Most courts hope for less. In fact, most judges pretty much push the attorneys to get cases handled in just over a year.
And that's fine. Good for the people.
Not necessarily, however, good for the clients. Take, for example, a fellow attorney who drove two hours this morning to appear in Court for three minutes. For a case management conference. All that happened was that the Court found out a little (very little) about what was happening in the case, and then set a further status conference.
So the attorney could drive another two hours for three minutes in front of the judge. But you argue that the attorney could have appeared telephonically. Not in this court.
So the attorney gets to do it all over again, and the client gets to pay for it all over again. Four hours for three minutes. Indeed, I had the same experience myself, but I only had to drive 20 minutes each way.
As Pink Floyd Would Say,Snow in the mountains. Cool weather in the desert. Surfers riding the waves.
And clean air. The best we've ever had.
When I moved here from Iowa, I spent four lonely days in a brown LA haze. It's gotten much better, which I can tell just by looking up.
It's also nice to be able to breathe deep.
Can You Say That On The Internet?All lawyers have taken con law (despite what you may be thinking, that's short for "constitutional"). So, to one degree or another, we're all qualified to comment on the subject. With that qualification out of the way, here goes.
How do you rebel if you're unsatisfied with a particular product? In this instance, our hero and heroine were not happy with the company that sprayed siding on their home. So unhappy that they started a website to voice their complaints.
What did it get them? A lawsuit.
Why? Alvis, the spray-on siding manufacturer, thinks that items posted on the homeowners' website infringes the company's trademark, that the homeowner website, spraysiding.com, is too similar to Alvis' website, sprayonsiding.com, and that the homeowners are disparaging Alvis.
We've all heard about the First Amendment right to free speech. So what's going on here? Can't the homeowners say what they want?
Well, there's a fine line between free speech opinions and disparagement. Basically, you can say what you want as long as you don't disparage someone else.
How's that for a lawyer's answer? Think about it this way: it's a fact-specific inquiry. Do the homeowners statements look more like an opinion or more like they're maligning a business? Are the statements true? Would you be confused between the two sites?
If you've clicked on the links, you know that there's virtually no way you're going to be confused. You also probably understand that the homeowners are upset with the quality of the company's work.
What are we going to get out of this case? Likely some good guidelines about what can and can't be said on competing websites. Stay tuned folks, this will be an interesting one to watch.
We Have Met The Enemy, And It's The BlogYou know I don't cover celebrity legal news (an oxymoron itself). I live behind the Orange Curtain.
Really. I don't get out much.
So it is something for me to pass this one along to you: the Peterson trial blog. OK, I will admit that it's on Court TV, so that should tell you something.
It's the Armageddon of our times, the end of the world.
The Peterson Trial Blog? There's someone actually blogging about this stuff? Come on. Let's get some real news coverage.
That's just like telling a cop when you get pulled over for speeding that she should go out and catch some real criminals. Reporters don't like it. Apparently someone(s) does (do), though, because the Peterson Blog got published.
So why am I writing about it? Well, I am in San Francisco today and tomorrow.
Maybe that explains it.
The Cardboard Candidate WinsWhew! It's over. The election, that is. Lawyers didn't riot in the streets or clog up the court system with last-minute challenges, so we collectively came out a winner.
Here's a short and unscientific election round-up for you.
That first link is the San Jose Mercury News gloating over some exit poll prediction mistakes by bloggers. Be careful there, old-school newspaper. There's a biblical adage about that - Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. But, I'm sure the Mercury News has never predicted an election incorrectly.
Then there's my friend, Tom Umberg, whose wife campaigned for him using a 6'1" cardboard cutout picture of him. As a reservist, he got called up to serve at Gitmo during the election, and couldn't campaign from Cuba.
To round things up, I've now got my work cut out (no pun intended) for me given the passage of Proposition 64. We'll be reviewing the cases we're defending to see if we can drop-kick any environmental 17,200 claims.
Oh yeah. Bush won.
It left some wondering why we need a Democratic party.