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 - Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. - Oprah Winfrey
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There are 2033 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 195

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.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, November 07, 2004 at 21:56. Comments Closed (0) |

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,, is too similar to Alvis' website,, 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.

And listen.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, November 06, 2004 at 08:00. Comments Closed (2) |

We Have Met The Enemy, And It's The Blog

You 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.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, November 05, 2004 at 19:48. Comments Closed (0) |

The Cardboard Candidate Wins

Whew! 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.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, November 04, 2004 at 14:27. Comments Closed (0) |

New Look, Same News & Observations

If you're a frequent reader, then you've likely noticed some new changes to the site. The blog/blawg now sports my photo. As my grandfather would say, something to put up in the basement (can you tell I grew up on the Right coast) to scare the rats away. God rest his soul.

Clicking on the photo or the About link will take you to the "some assembly required" (a.k.a. "instructions") page, where you can get some how-to's on the way this site works. Some things there you may not have known, and may be able to do without if you're a power user.

MIPTC has added the little "" symbol because the blog is now the proud owner of not just one, but two registered trademarks.

Plus, the MIPTC blawg has added a completely new feature, Podcasts. Now, you can listen to these posts, and if you'd like, download them and take the audio podcasts with you on your iPod or your Pocket PC. Yep, we're podcasting (plawdcasting?). Blawg on!

Technology. Ya gotta love it.

P.S. Stay tuned. There are more improvements to come.

Oh yes. Ahem. A major announcement, too, in the next several weeks.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, November 03, 2004 at 23:59. Comments Closed (2) |

The Hulk vs. Snow White

You might be looking for a little comic relief today. I know I am.

Then it's fitting that Marvel Comics sued Disney over the ownership rights to its intellectual property in some of its characters.

I use that term "intellectual property" loosely when referring to comics. But, Marvel apparently takes it very seriously.

I mean, it's Spider-man vs. Mickey Mouse.

X-Men vs. Cruella De Vil.

The Hulk vs. Maleficent (Ok, she's the stand-in for Snow White).

Millions of dollars seriously. Apparently, Marvel did sell the rights to its characters, and Disney may have ended up with them, but Marvel now claims it didn't grant the rights to Disney. Now it wants the millions that Disney made with Marvel's characters.

I can't understand why Marvel is concerned about teaming up Thor and Captain America with Peter Pan.

They all fly, right?

Imagine the possibilities.

I've always thought of Davey Crockett as a superhero.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, November 02, 2004 at 19:26. Comments Closed (2) |

Should We Expect Bias In Arbitrators?

You probably aren't thinking about the arbitration provisions in your various contracts right now. But others are. In more ways than you probably care to know.

Here's the quickie rundown, though, just in case you're dying to know. Or not dying, as is more likely the case.

Just before Halloween, the Ninth Circuit decided Fidelity Federal Bank v. Durga Ma Corp. I know, that citation means nothing to you.

This may help: if your arbitration agreement says that each side in the dispute gets to pick one arbitrator and then those two arbitrators pick a third, don't be surprised if the arbitrator picked by each side is biased.

In fact, if you don't object or require disclosure by the other side's arbitrator, you can't set aside the arbitration award if you later discover such bias.

There's a shocker.

That makes perfect sense to me. If I get the chance to pick an arbitrator, I'm going to pick one I know. If the guy on the other side can't figure that one out ....


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, November 01, 2004 at 16:19. Comments Closed (0) |

So You Want To Be A News Anchor?

If you're anything like me and unlike a lot of others you're glad that the election is almost over.

I mean, can't we get on to more important things?

Like news anchors. This riveting piece was front page, New York Times. OK, admittedly, it was below the fold and in the Sunday edition.

But there it was anyway, fighting for attention among all that election news. With a picture of Peter Jennings. You know, the guy from ABC's World News Tonight. I say "news," even though many disagree that what Jennings gives us is actually news.

Why you ask, was Jennings featured news by the newspaper? Because Tom Brokaw is retiring December 1st, and that vacuum will likely rocket Jennings into the number one news anchor spot.

The NYT article cast Jennings in the electioneering light: he is out stumping for the vote. Yep, reconnecting with his voters, er, um, I mean viewers. I knew it started with a "V," it's just that I've been so preconditioned lately to cast everything in the context of the candidates.

Oh, I did it again?

So, apparently did the NYT. They can't get the election out of their head. There's even talk of impeachment in the media. CBS is considering axing Dan Rather, who (like Jennings) has been accused of some rather biased coverage, too.

What caught my attention about the article was its point that some 25 million TV viewers are going to start anchor shopping.

I agree, like many others, that news reporting is hopelessly biased. I don't plan on watching Jennings, my namesake - and Brokaw's touted replacement - Brian Williams (no relation that I know of) or Dan Rather. Actually, I like the Stanford-educated Daryn Kagan on CNN in the early morning.

Balanced news is hard to find. MIPTC tries to give you both sides of the story in its posts, and typically, if you read between the lines (most of the time you don't have to work that hard) what I think as a lawyer.

But I used to be in broadcast TV back in high school and college. Like Kagan, my undergraduate degree is in Communications Arts, except it's a BS (not what you're thinking - it stands for Bachelor of Science), with a minor in marine biology.

But I digress. If everyone's shopping for a news anchor, and Rather may get the ax, maybe the networks will be out shopping for a new anchor.

I'll toss my hat in that ring - how about you?

Either one of us could likely do a better job than the great majority of those doing it now.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, October 31, 2004 at 11:36. Comments Closed (0) |

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