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When Is Enough Too Many?

According to reports, the gasoline truck that blew up and incinerated one of San Francisco's freeway ramps, snarling traffic for what may be months, was the holder of some 27 citations, and the company who owns the truck the no-so-proud holder of nearly 60 citations.  In fact, news reports claim the truck was ordered off the road last year.

Yet it continued to roam the roads, seemingly impervious to regulation.

Who regulates the regulators?



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, May 05, 2007 at 00:29. Comments Closed (0) |

One Obstacle To Docking Your Boat: Sunken Boats In Your Slip

MIPTC is a big fan of sailing, and like all good skippers, even more of a fan of docking the boat at the end of the trip.  It's like the pilots say:  any crash you can walk away from is a good crash.

For many boat owners who suffered the ignominy of their boats sinking in the slips of New Orleans harbor, there must be some level of relief with the start of the project to remove the sunken vessels from underwater. 

It's expected to cost nearly $1 million to remove the hulks, some 300 tons in all.

The storm that has no end.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, May 04, 2007 at 00:16. Comments Closed (2) |

Vonage vs. Verizon: Perhaps First In Flood Of Patent Case Reconsiderations

By now, if you follow anything to do with current legal issues, you've seen most of the analysis and prognostications from lawyers across the country about the recent Supreme Court patent decisions, and the earth-shattering change one of Black Monday's decisions will have on the patent bar and patent litigators, like this firm.  In case you missed it, however, click here for a roundup of the professor and practitioner's take on the decision on KSR v. Teleflex.

Or, if you're somewhat more kinesthetic, then you can listen to this podcast recorded today with three top patent experts.

If you're not in the ivory towers, but rather in the trenches like we are, then perhaps this New York Times report is more apropos.  In that report, Vonage is requesting a new trial after it got slammed by a jury who favored Verizon's version of the patent case.  The reason?  Black Monday's Supreme Court decision.

Given that decision, anyone with a patent based in part on prior art, and if it's "obvious" - as opposed to patentable - the patent holder can expect a challenge to their patent by someone who wants to do the same thing.  Patent holders just saw the value of their patent portfolios drop through the floor.

Perhaps this quote from Aubrey Menen encapsulates the Supreme Court's ruling best:  "The essence of success is that it is never necessary to think of a new idea oneself.  It is far better to wait until somebody else does it, and then to copy him in every detail, except his mistakes."



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, May 03, 2007 at 00:09. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Explores (Not So) Patently Obvious Rulings From The Supreme Court

Two important Supreme Court rulings in patent cases this week KSR International v. Teleflex Inc., and Microsoft v. AT&T.  On this week's Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we discuss the decisions and talk to the experts about what this holds for the future of patent law.

Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi as we welcome guests Matthew I. Kreeger, a litigator in the San Francisco office of Morrison & Foerster, J. Matthew Buchanan from the firm Dunlop, Codding and Rogers P.C in Oklahoma and Professor Joshua D. Sarnoff, Assistant Director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, to discuss the Supreme Court's decisions on these patent law cases.  Don't miss it!



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, May 02, 2007 at 19:04. Comments Closed (0) |

MIPTC's Book Review: Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul Of Clarence Thomas

If you ever wanted to understand a Supreme Court justice, and in particular Justice Clarence Thomas, then Supreme Discomfort:  The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas gives you the insight that can only come from what appears to be a careful and long investigation into the inner workings of the man, his life and background, all ostensibly to understand his stance on the issues.

It starts with the pain he, Anita Hill and the rest of the country went through in his confirmation hearings.  It ends with a thin ray of light for Justice Thomas and all of us.  Dark in a deep way, the book paints a gloomy picture, almost bereft of hope at times.

As a lawyer, it offers an insight not normally afforded.  As a country, it's an insight I'm not sure we want.

The book lifts the roof off one of the Chambers of the Supreme Court, but it doesn't ask the question whether we should look inside.  There's a certain distance we seem to have ignored between our leaders and decision-makers, a distance lost long ago when Woodward & Bernstein peered inside Watergate and found Nixon wanting.

MIPTC doesn't advocate a return to Camelot and the blissful ignorance a pandering media offered us, but there is a respect for some level of privacy we may want to consider offering to those in power, and to ourselves.  Yes, we need a critical look at the legislation, decisions and choices made by our government leaders, but tempered with respect for their privacy, which this book tears away from Justice Thomas.

What we expect for ourselves, we may want to consider providing to everyone.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 01:58. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Discusses The Tragedy At Virginia Tech

On April 16, 2007, the tragedy at Virginia Tech rattled the world we know. On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we turn to the experts and discuss the issue of legal liability and the Virginia Tech shootings.

Should University officials have done more to prevent the gunman? Could they?  Does a recent Virginia law prevent Universities from throwing out a student with suicidal tendencies?  Is it really a problem more indicative of today's society that can only be solved by society? 

Join me and my co-host and fellow Law.com blogger Bob Ambrogi as we get insight from our guests, Professor Anthony Sebok, Centennial Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research at the Brooklyn School of Law and Attorney Robert B. Smith from the firm Nelson, Kinder, Mosseau, & Saturley and join in the discussion ourselves.  Don't miss it!



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, April 30, 2007 at 17:16. Comments Closed (0) |

A Post Office Is A Post Office Is A Post Office

Return To Sender: Church Materials

There are Post Offices and there are Post Offices.  You know the standard ones run by the U.S. Government - postal workers in light blue uniforms with dark pants, the ever-present, red take-a-paper-number dispenser that always seems to give you a number that is nowhere near the electronic red flashing number displayed behind the counter.  And of course the equally ever-present long line that extends out the door and snakes around the rows of post office boxes, back out to the parking lot and all the way around the block.

But I exaggerate, ever so slightly.

That one condition is likely the main reason that competitors sprang up and the government had to give in and allow privately-run post offices.  As many private post offices as I've been in, I've never seen a line.

Ya gotta love private enterprise.

But with private enterprise come other issues, especially when that private enterprise is a church.  According to the Associated Press, Bertram Cooper, Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, said he became upset when he went to  a post office run by the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church, which operates the Sincerely Yours Inc. post office on Main Street in Manchester, Connecticut.

Like any other red-blooded American, he sued.

Cooper, who is Jewish, said ''I'm walking into a place that's doing government business - selling stamps, mailing parcels and so forth - and they're doing this religious bit,'' according to the AP.  "The Church's Post Office has evangelical displays, including posters, advertisements and artwork. One of the displays is about Jesus Christ and invites customers to submit a request if they 'need a prayer in 'their lives.'"  To top it off, "the office has prayer cards and an advertisement for a mission run by the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church that receives profits from the post office. There is a television monitor for church-related religious videos," the AP reports.

If you remember your high-school or college civics class (or for me, my Constitutional Law class), then you probably remember the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which requires separation of church and state.  Here, where the government has delegated its duties of running a post office to private enterprise, that private enterprise is a "state actor" and still bound by the Constitution, which prohibits actions that can be deemed to "establish" religion.

At least that's something close to what Federal District Court Judge Dominic J. Squatrito ruled when he ordered the government's post office to inform the 5,200 private post-office contractors to toe the line and remove all religious materials from private post offices.

It seemed like a fitting post for a Sabbath.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, April 29, 2007 at 09:49. Comments Closed (0) |

JCW Turns 50 and Looks At Life Now

These Are The Good Old Days

I'm not in the office today, and won't be in this weekend, a bit rare for me lately given how busy things have been lately (in the last four years since WLF | The Williams Law Firm, PC started).  It's not because a case settled (although that's true - one resolved just before the end of the business day). 

This time, it's a once-in-a-lifetime weekend.  April 28 is my 50th birthday.

Perhaps this post is a bit self-indulgent - not your typical "here's the case of the day."  But it's perhaps more of a time for reflection than writing about the latest decision from one of the courts that find their way into this blog on an almost-daily basis.  It's about writing and the realization that I'm actually 50.  At the end of this summer, MIPTC will have turned four.  A bit young compared to me, but don't worry - you get all that experience.

At least that's my story.  And I'm sticking to it.

One of my dear friends, Jeff Lewis, who writes SoCalLaw Blog, sent an email to me today to report that after much reflection he's elected to stop posting.  Closing that blog will leave a huge hole in the blogosphere, and I have to report my disappointment.

For me, posting has become a great way to stay informed.  It requires me to read, and read a lot about what's going on - not only blogs (which tend to be my first source) but also legal news and sometimes even regular news.  Jeff's decision to stop writing caused me to question whether I should keep writing given how busy things have been lately.

I thought about it for about three seconds and then said, "Nah, I'm not going to stop, I love to write."  It's an expression of what's going on in the world and another way to look at it.  My reports to you of cases try to look at both sides of the matter or the event I'm highlighting, and very subtly give you the way I see it without coming right out and saying it.  According to what you tell me, it's working so far, and I appreciate your votes of confidence.

I'm not really sure I'm fifty, despite what my birth certificate says.  I am pleased to report that I couldn't find an expiration date on it, so I'm expecting at least another 50.  Even so, I still feel like I'm about 23 or so, and I'm still skiing and scuba diving like I did then.  It's my mindset.  Another dear friend of mine, David Moore of Reid & Hellyer in Riverside (who was admitted to practice law in 1965 and has one of the lowest bar numbers I know of) reports that all in his life is well because he is "upright and air is moving in and out of my lungs."

It's a bit more than that for me.  All of my body parts are working as far as I can tell, although after one of my sport outings it's obvious from the pain and torture I go through that they've fallen out of warranty.  Despite that pain, there are still several goals I have yet to meet.  Hang gliding, parachuting, kitesurfing and several others come to mind. 

Getting out of bed and standing up is certainly a good start, but it far from ends there.  The intellectual challenges of work coupled with some traveling, enjoying family, trying out new sports and contributing to the community all are part of it.  Most unusual, however, is how much more comfortable I am with myself and how little it matters what others think. 

Perhaps that freedom comes from independence - financial, work and personal, and perhaps a few other sources.  Most of all, though, I think it comes from within and believing in yourself.

Maybe it takes 50 years to get there.  Maybe it's more important to just be here now.  I think I'll go with the latter.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, April 27, 2007 at 23:02. Comments Closed (2) |



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