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 - Night court was Nashville's original reality show. We saw the stupid, the tragic and a little bit of everything. I feel like I lost an old uncle. - Tom Nelson
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There are 2033 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 74

Mourning The Passing Of "Fluorescent Justice"

MIPTC mourns the apparent death of Court TV's Fluorescent Justice, a gritty, Mickey Spillane version of night court in downtown New York, which hasn't been updated since mid-December 2006, covered by a stale apology by the editors that the writer is taking a holiday break.

Good writing is hard to find.  I'll miss this glimpse into reality.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 00:32. Comments Closed (0) |

New York Pays Woman To Go Topless

Misleading? Perhaps, But Not Too Far From The Truth

In the category of "you're never going to believe this one ... but ...", here's the real scoop. 

Let me give the setup first.  In 1992, a New York Appeals Court ruled that women have the same right as men to go topless. 

I haven't read the case, but I'm guessing its an equal protection argument.

Almost two years ago, Jill Coccaro, now known as - what else - Phoenix Feeley, decided to go on a stroll in Manhattan's lower east side.

Topless.

Not impressed, police arrested her, and held her for twelve hours before releasing her and not charging her.  Feeley claims the police mistreated her during her arrest.

Once released, she sued, and yesterday accepted $29,000 for her misfortunate arrest.  The City did not admit liability.

But they paid for her going topless, in a way.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 23:13. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Rates Avvo.com

The online numerical ranking system of lawyers, Avvo, launched last week with mixed reviews.  Many attorneys complained about Avvo's information and some even called it a popularity contest. Two Seattle attorneys have filed a class action lawsuit against Avvo.

On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we discuss thoughts about the product, the class action suit, competition among lawyers and the future of Avvo.  Join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Robert Ambrogi welcome our guests:  Attorney John Henry Browne, criminal defense attorney at The Law offices of John Henry Browne out of Seattle and one of the attorneys filing the class action lawsuit, Carolyn Elefant, founder and principal attorney in the Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant and blogger for MyShingle.com and Law.com's Legal Blog Watch together with Denise Howell, an appellate, intellectual property, and technology lawyer and blogger who writes the famous Bag and Baggage blog. 

Don't miss it!



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, June 18, 2007 at 14:31. Comments Closed (0) |

MIPTC Takes A Bow: LA Press Club Awards This Blog Best In Online Design And Layout

May It Please The Court went to the Los Angeles Press Club awards last night and came home a first-place winner in the Online Design and Layout category.  The Judges' commented:  "Easy-on-the-eyes palette appropriate to the subject matter.  Does a good job of accessibility and navigation to content across a variety of forms.  User-friendly interface helps invite the reader to read a site devoted to a potentially tough vertical topic."

Well, thank you very much, LA Press Club judges.  It's MIPTC's second win in a row; as noted over there in the left navigation bar, last year the Press Club awarded MIPTC the Best Individual Weblog.  This year, MIPTC won "Honorable Mention" in that category.  A hat tip goes to our very own Leigh Dierck for her work in submitting MIPTC for the two awards, and kudos as well to our design team, Optimal Design Group for working with us on the winning redesign of our blog, to Rushabh Jhaveri at Neurosity for putting it together and keeping everything working and Nigel and Ursula Nelmes of EPI Marketing, together with Bryan Ventura for our original design concept.  It was a team effort, all the way around.

Now here's a question for you, dear reader:did you find all the "Easter eggs" on our website?  Hint (and spoilers abound):  read the Primer page.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, June 17, 2007 at 17:33. Comments Closed (0) |

Allegedly Dangerous Levels Of Carbon Monoxide From Powerboats Prompts Arizona Lawsuit

You've likely seen the email photos of the party on Lake Havasu, but have you seen this Complaint?  Los Angeles residents Louis Patin and Erica Honore, the parents of 10-year old Austin Tyler Patin, sued the City of Lake Havasu for the carbon monoxide poisoning of their son.  According to the Complaint, Alan was wading in Bridgewater Channel when he passed out from carbon monoxide poisoning and drowned last month.   

The Complaint accuses Lake Havasu City of refusing to take steps to prevent deadly carbon monoxide levels from idling power boats moored at the channel.  Despite large tax revenues from marketing a "party-like atmosphere" at the channel, particularly through the sale of alcohol, the City has refused to address the alleged problem, the suit claims.  The parents also allege City officials knew about the carbon monoxide hazard from several documented poisonings.  

One tourist died over the 2002 Labor Day weekend, the couple claims.  Despite this alleged knowledge, the parents argue fears of losing tourist revenue overrode concerns for public safety.   The suit states that boats without catalytic converters emit 188 times more carbon monoxide than cars, and leave a layer of undetectable gas hovering over the water that can cause dizziness, headaches and unconsciousness, leading to death. 

The suit is pending in Arizona, and while MIPTC isn't licensed there, it's pending in federal court and based on common law negligence claims.  It's a novel theory, claiming that the City has a duty to prevent emissions of carbon monoxide in a water channel.  There are safe levels set by the USEPA, but they're mostly for indoors.  Safe CO levels outside are limited to 9 ppm, according to the USEPA, but that's not a point mentioned in the Complaint.  Even the conventional wisdom on the USEPA website points to generators as the greatest culprit for outside exposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide:  generators, not boats - despite the fact that the warning comes from the US Coast Guard.

The CDC, however, issued its first warning on boat carbon monoxide emissions in 2000, but again it centered on boat generators, not boat engines.

Even so, the National Institute of Science and Health says it's a probelm.  Until boats either get catalytic converters, laws get passed to limit CO emissions from boats, put a life vest on.  Be careful out there.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, June 16, 2007 at 14:56. Comments Closed (0) |

US Government Loses Right To Collect Nearly $175 Million In Back Taxes Due To Typo

Will the US attorney who wrote this plea bargain agreement get fired?  Will Congress investigate? 

According to CNN, "The U.S. Justice Department erred last year and cited the wrong law in a binding plea agreement with telecommunication entrepreneur Walter Anderson, the largest known tax evader in U.S. history.  That mistake made it impossible for the government to recover between $100 million and $175 million, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled."  The prosecutors asked the Judge to reconsider the contractually-binding plea agreement because of a typo in a citation to a statute.

That's a lot of taxes.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, June 15, 2007 at 15:24. Comments Closed (0) |

Baseball Stats May Land In The Hands Of Fans, Not The Major League

Since early last year, trouble has been brewing in the world of fantasy baseball, and it's as real as it gets.  The question of who owns baseball statistics is a sticky wicket for Major League Baseball.  The club owners have sued those who use "their" statistics in order to pay rotisserie league baseball.  Like the other trademarks and copyrights owned by MLB, they claim they own the stats too to the exclusion of the fantasy baseball players and providers.

MIPTC has covered the issue from the beginning and as developments occurred, and although I don't "own" a fantasy team, many lawyers and other friends do.  They're quite upset over the prospects of losing their hobby.  We may soon have an answer to the question.  Arguments were heard in the appeals court today, and it's not looking good for MLB.

Looks like MLB wasn't throwing heat to the Court of Appeal.  In fact, the heat was coming from the Court itself:  "This is about names, you say, this is about statistics, they say," said Chief Judge James Loken.  "I understand the practicality of the war because the statistics are in the public domain.  And it seems to me it's clearly a use of public information to figure out that if you're going to have an ongoing fantasy sports league over the life of a real professional sports league -- clearly a collateral market -- you have to have an opening set of statistics and evolving statistics that will allow for competition and trades and so forth.  And so where do you get those statistics?  Well, you can't take the 1923 Philadelphia Athletics because that doesn't evolve over a season.  So you take these statistics that are in the public domain.  And as I translate your argument into this case, 'well, we won't argue with that but don't you dare put a name next to those statistics.'  Well, of course, that's ridiculous."

MITPC calls this case a pop fly.  It looks like an easy catch for an out to retire the side and put an end to this game.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, June 14, 2007 at 17:34. Comments Closed (0) |

Anti-bootlegging Statute Stands The Test: Copyright Violations Can Be Criminal

Despite a pitch from law professors and librarians decrying limitations on the distribution of live performance recordings, the Second Circuit reversed the trial court and ruled that Congress validly enacted a law outside the scope of the Copyright Clause of the U.S. Constitution, making that distribution a crime.  Likening the law to criminal trespass, the Court said the power of the Commerce Clause gives Congress the authority to grant protections to artists unlimited by time.  The Copyright Clause limits that protection to the life of the author, plus seventy years.

The Defendant in the criminal case, Jean Martignon, had been charged with selling illegally recorded live performances at his store, Midnight Records in Chelsea, New York.  Professors and librarians joined his arguments that because Congress could not grant time-unlimited protection to artists under the Copyright Clause, they should not be allowed to do so under the Constitution's Commerce Clause.

The government on the other hand claimed the new criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. sections 2319A(a)(1) and (3), an anti-bootlegging provisions enacted in 1994 following the Uruguay international trade talks created no such conflict.  They reasoned that the Commerce Clause was much broader than the Copyright Clause and did not preclude criminalizing the distribution of live performances.  The government was joined by the Association of American Publishers, Warner Music Inc. and National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.

It's a close call, one that likely the Supreme Court will get the chance to consider.   You likely haven't heard the last of this case yet.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 23:26. Comments Closed (0) |



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