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 - You don't know a woman until you've met her in court. - Norman Mailer
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There are 2033 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 244

The Merry Wives of Email Theft

Divorce battles can be especially ugly. This one, however, could have ended up with jail time.

According to CNN, a woman (Angel Lee) frauduently obtained her husband's ex-wife's email user name and password. No, you don't need a consanguinity chart to figure out that relationship. I probably just should have said "the former wife," or just her name: Duongladde Ramsay, which would have been a lot easier to understand.

After Angel got Duongladde's email password, she went into the ex-wife's account and read 215 emails. Had to be tremendously interesting stuff to have read that many.

Stating that "privacy is still a cherished value," U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch sentenced 28-year old Lee of El Mirage, Arizona to 60 days of home imprisonment.

The Judge thought Angel should stay home with the kids rather than go to jail. Too bad he didn't take away her computer, too.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, October 19, 2003 at 09:35. Comments Closed (1) |

EPA Chases More Air Pollution Settlements

This article announced that multinational corporate melgoconglomerate ChevronTexaco will pay $3.75 million in fines and invest $275 million in plant upgrades at five refineries.

All to settle an air-quality lawsuit filed last month in .San Francisco federal court by State and Federal regulators. The lawsuit allged that C-T "did not immediately notify[] federal authorities and local fire departments of mishaps that led to hazardous emissions releases of hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid, nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide and other hazardous substances" at it El Segundo plant.

C-T's website sports a Social Responsibility page to tell us all about the company's good deeds, but a check of its press release site doesn't address this settlement.

The USEPA's press site has this to say, and claims the settlement will eliminate almost 10,000 pounds of NOx and SO2. Although the consent decree is not yet posted, it will be here, and open for a 30-day comment period.

This action is the ninth in a series of air pollution suits filed by the USEPA.

According to the Find Law article, however, "Nicole Hodgson, a ChevronTexaco spokeswoman, said the company disputes 'the underlying allegations.' She said ChevronTexaco settled so it could focus on reducing emissions 'rather than on costly legal proceedings.'"

And maybe clean up the environment a little more.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, October 18, 2003 at 14:09. Comments Closed (0) |

How Not To Pay for Environmental Contamination

The absolute pollution exclusion has been clarified once again. This time, however, it's been narrowed.

Environmental response costs are supposedly not covered under this insurance provision, according to the Sixth Appellate District out of San Jose. Perhaps not much of a departure from the California Supreme Court's Foster Gardner decision (free registration required to view), it's nonetheless a blow to insureds, and not good public policy.

In this case, the California Water Quality Control Board ordered CDM Investors to test its property for contaminants. CDM hired an environmental consultant to perform the work, and ultimately proved that the contaminants did not come from CDM's property.

CDM then asked its insurer, American National Fire Insurance Company (part of the Great American family - they even have a ballpark named after the company) to pay for the response costs. ANFIC refused, citing the absolute pollution exclusion as a bar.

The case is procedurally convoluted and that complicated posture plays a part in the court's decision, but suffice it to say that response costs cannot be covered by insurance unless there would have been a lawsuit by the Water Board against CDM.

So, in order to trigger coverage, insureds have to rebuff the government and wait for a lawsuit to be filed - instead of cooperating with the goverment and saving money all around. Sounds like great public policy to me. Let's spend more money, employ more lawyers, waste more time and raise hackles - all to get an insurance company to pay an otherwise legitimate claim.

Bright idea.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, October 17, 2003 at 08:06. Comments Closed (0) |

California Appeals Court Curtails Internet Speech

In a stark conflict with the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals, the First Appellate District held an ISP or an individual liable for defamatory postings. The first of its kind ruling is an amazing reversal of a trend toward absolute immunity for ISPs.

The court's decision focuses on the intentional republishing of defamatory content. Surprisingly, the opinion spends several pages disagreeing with the Fourth Circuit's opinion. It remains to be seen whether yesterday's California ruling will be challenged. Lawyers on the case are still analyzing their clients' strategies.

The broader impact of this ruling will likely mean that speech on the internet will be chilled, and opinions stifled for fear of running afoul of this ruling. We'll see whether it stands.

In the meantime, watch what you republish out there.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, October 16, 2003 at 10:17. Comments Closed (1) |

Crass Commercialism at its Crassiest

For all you lawyers and law-oriented non-lawyers, here's your chance to show the world just how much you love the law. You can emblazon your clothing, mugs, calendars, note cards, bags and other odds and ends with our new Judge. I don't have a name for him yet - maybe I'll have to sponsor a contest to name him. And of course the prize will be ....

Thanks to the cartoonist at Conservative Crust, MIPTC will soon sport a new logo. The logo should be up on the weblog within a few days, but you can see it (and buy it) right now at the MIPTC logo store. Yes, it's trademarked.

That's right - crass commercialism at is crassiest. So buy for your entire law firm, family, friends and even babies!

From now on when I send gifts, I know what I'm buying.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, October 16, 2003 at 08:15. Comments Closed (0) |

Covering the trial

Expanding the horizons of blogging, the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot moved reporting into the Courtroom with real-time blogging. Reporter Kerry Sipe is providing up-to-the-minute coverage of the trial of one of the DC snipers, John Allen Muhammad.

Some purists would argue that it's not a true blog in the sense that it doesn't quite look like a blog (no links, calendar, comments, etc.) on the blog page. These features appear elsewhere on the site, and in fact work much better than most blogs I've seen. But then again, it's commercial, and we're paying for it with ads and subscriptions.

But it's more up to date than this daily blog.

The Virginan-Pilot's blog does have an archive of sorts that features articles written about the other Defendant Lee Boyd Malvo. There's an entire index dedicated to just about every aspect of the cases, including a timeline, video, series of photos, graphics and polls. You can even submit your local site.

Of course, as with all media circuses, someone has to write an article about the Boys on the Bus, the "story about the story."

Which makes this post a story about the story about the story.

Or something like that.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 at 07:53. Comments Closed (0) |

What Can We Pledge Allegiance To?

The "One Nation under God" dispute will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this session.

Remember the national uproar when the Ninth Circuit ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional? Athiest Michael Newdow challenged his daughter's school district's requirement to recite the pledge? Newdow holds medical and law degrees and claims to be an ordained minister. He will argue the case himself.

His daughter's mother, Sandra Banning, has no objection to the Pledge, which confuses things even more.

A confluence of events may allow the ruling to stand. Justice Anton Scalia will recuse himself from the case due to his comments that criticized the ruling. That would likely lead to a 4-4 deadlock on the court.

Moreover, the Court has already gone on record with a series of rulings that would appear to uphold this ruling. The Supreme Court has already said that schoolchildren cannot be required to recite the oath that begins, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America." That case arose out of the Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs against the pledge.

The court has also repeatedly barred school-sponsored prayer from classrooms, playing fields and school ceremonies.

The First Amendment guarantees that government will not "establish" religion. That prohibition created a general ban on overt government sponsorship of religion in public schools and other forums.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court itself begins each of its sessions with the phrase "God Save the United States and this honorable court." The Declaration of Independence refers to God or to the creator four different times. Congress and many other legislatures around the country begin each session each day with a prayer. Our currency - inluding the new peach-colored 20-dollar bills - contains the phrase, "In God We Trust."

The phrase "under God," however, was not part of the original pledge adopted by Congress as a patriotic tribute in 1942, at the height of World War II. Congress inserted the phrase more than a decade later, in 1954, when the cold war was in full swing.

Supporters (a la' Senator Joe McCarthy) of the new wording said it would set the United States apart from godless communism.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 at 08:50. Comments Closed (0) |

Oh bother! What's another $500,000?

Winnie the Pooh and the 100-acre wood bring back childhood memories of innocence and hunny. But today, I'm afraid we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

The revolving door of lawyers has swung around once again. Let me explain the connection.

As this article explains, in 1991, the original Pooh cartoonist's wife's (Shirley Slesinger) heirs sued Disney over its non-payment of royalties to the Slesingers. The litigation hasn't stopped since then.

During the pending litigation, the Slesingers have changed lawyers like they change underwear. According to the SoCalLaw Blog, the Slesingers have had seven teams of lawyers in the last twelve years. The latest set of lawyers, however, may have established a new record.

The Slesingers said Friday "During the last couple of months, Jones Day's fees for handling this matter were much higher than either we or the firm expected."

Admittedly, Alan E. Friedman, an attorney with Jones Day, said in a letter sent to the court "cost considerations have led (the family) to conclude it cannot afford to have Jones Day continue as its counsel."

According to an IMBD article, those fees were in excess of $500,000 per month.

Ouch!

A simple, fun-loving bear who was given by a father, A.A. Milne, to his son, Christopher Robin Milne on his first birthday in 1925 has transformed into a meglo-marketing effort generating millions and long-running court battles.

What would Pooh say? Oh bother!

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, October 13, 2003 at 08:09. Comments Closed (1) |



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