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 - When buying a used car, punch the buttons on the radio. If all the stations are rock and roll, there's a good chance the transmission is shot. - Larry Lujack
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Why Does E-discovery Matter?

Let's say you own a radio station in Florida, and let's call it WTKE, for example.  Back in 2003, you sign an agreement to sell your radio station to a company we'll call Quantum Communications.  As part of that agreement, you promise not to continue to shop your radio station for sale.  You agree to sell your radio station to Quantum for $3,000,000.

It takes awhile for the sale to go through, but while it is in process, Quantum gets wind that you may be trying to sell your radio station to someone else, let's say a company called Cumulus Media, so they sue you.  Quantum also alleges that you're doing everything possible to stymie the sale of your radio station.  You deny everything. 

Once the lawsuit starts, Quantum's lawyers request copies of your computer's hard drive, and all the emails that are on it.  They apparently get nowhere.  Undeterred, Quantum's lawyers subpoena the hard drive of the president of Cumulus, which contain a series of emails between you and Cumulus's president. 

On that hard drive, Quantum finds a series of email that appear to show you were trying to sell your radio station to Cumulus for $3,750,000. 

Oops.

Quantum gets this E-discovery evidence in front of the judge, who orders you to sell your radio station to Quantum for the originally agreed-upon purchase price of $3M, and issues a scathing ruling about your denial of violating the agreement and misleading the court.

Guess who's going to get to pay Quantum's attorneys fees?



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 22, 2007 at 16:06. Comments Closed (0) |

E-discovery Battles And Consequences Come Home To Roost For New York Company In Bankruptcy

A company formerly known as NTL, Inc. (now known by the more familiar Virgin label of Virgin Media, Inc.) got itself into hot water recently by failing to preserve e-mails of 44 of its top executives and directors in securities litigation.  When it was first sued, the company issued a document preservation order to its employees.  Later, however, the company went into bankruptcy and was purchased by NTL Europe, Inc.

It took some time for the new company to let the Court know of the merger, and the judge was none to happy about the delay, especially when he discovered that the purchaser had failed to retain all of NTL, Inc.'s e-mails.

When they discovered the lapse in document preservation protocol, the plaintiffs in the securities litigation against NTL, Inc. sought an order from the judge for a finding of an adverse inference and payment of their attorneys fees.  The "adverse inference" can be quite damning at trial.  Essentially, when plaintiffs try to present evidence on a point essential to their case and can't because the document has been destroyed, the jury can infer that the evidence would have been adverse to NTL, Inc., and adopt the plaintiff's reasonable interpretation of what the document would have said.

It's almost a free pass for plaintiffs, and a warning for companies in the process of buying other companies:  preserve what you're buying, or you'll pay for it later.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 08:27. Comments Closed (0) |

What's Your View Of TV Legal News Coverage? Tune In For An Update

If you have an opinion about television legal news coverage, then you'll want to be aware of this excoriating piece on Nancy Grace's handling of the Duke Lacrosse team and an alleged rape case, tellingly titled:  Graceless.  

MIPTC has an opinion about Nancy's show, which I've not kept to myself, and which has been mirrored by the Eleventh Circuit's review of Nancy Grace's behavior as a Fulton County District Attorney's Office prosecutor.  The Court found that she "played fast and loose with her ethical duties" under the Constitution.

Her television coverage has been no different.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 09:16. Comments Closed (0) |

Merry President's Day

Or is it Happy President's Day?  In any event, MIPTC wishes you a pleasant holiday.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, February 19, 2007 at 16:09. Comments Closed (0) |

Estate Planning Protects Your Family From Interlopers

Estate planning may change everything for those trying to gain legal recognition as Anna Nicole Smith's child.  CNN reports that her estate planning may preclude the father-to-be from sharing in any inheritance. 

See you favorite lawyer and protect your family.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 16:30. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer to Lawyer Internet Radio Goes to Scooter's Court

The First Amendment and freedom of the press are front and center in the "Scooter" Libby Trial.  On this week's Lawyer2Lawyer, we take a look at all the issues and discuss shield laws as well as bloggers in the courtroom.

Join me and my fellow co-host, attorney and Law.com legal blogger Bob Ambrogi as Lawyer2Lawyer discusses the twists and turns with special guests, Ed Carter, Assistant Professor of Communications at Brigham Young University and Mark Obbie, Director of the Carnegie Legal Reporting Program at the Newhouse School, to get inside this action-packed trial.



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 05:37. Comments Closed (0) |

“I’m Not The Father Of Anna Nicole’s Baby - That I Know Of”

Man Denies Paternity Allegations

Feb. 16, 2007 - A lawyer in Newport Beach has set the record straight.  He's not the father of Anna Nicole's baby, DannielLynn Hope Marshall Stern.  His name doesn't appear on the birth certificate, and even though he lives near LA and has seen Anna Nicole's pictures on television, he claims the last time he was in the Bahamas was on his honeymoon some twenty-five years ago.  "Or was it Bermuda? I always get the two mixed up," Lawyer J. Craig Williams said.

The media's been hounding him to come forward, but he claims to have denied requests to appear on Larry King Live and Oprah.  "We're tremendously disappointed that Craig won't come on Larry's show and claim that he's not the father, but we'll just have to cover the rest of the story without him," sources close to CNN reported.

Williams pleads, "A judge somewhere needs to pick the baby's father soon because we're running out of candidates."  Allegedly, since Anna Nicole Smith has shaken hands with so many men, there's an almost unlimited number of possibilities.  "Several of the seventeen men now in contention for DannielLynn's fatherhood have laid claim to her paternity based on shaking hands with Anna Nicole," said Joe Doaks, a spokesperson for Fathers Without Children, a non-profit group based in Utah.   "After all, shaking hands is how women become pregnant," Doaks observed. 

The non-father, Williams, has refused to provide a DNA sample.  Law enforcement authorities are threatening to go to court to get an order forcing him to provide his DNA.  "California established paternity law in the Lee Marvin case, and it looks like we may have to do it again and get this guy's DNA so we can put this issue to bed once and for all," according to an anonymous spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff.

For his part, Williams hopes "the whole thing goes away," his firm reported.



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, February 16, 2007 at 16:27. Comments Closed (0) |

Alabama Sex Toys Fall Prey To Legislation Regulating Public Morality

In case you missed it, yesterday was Valentine's Day.  For all of Hallmark's effort and the heart-shaped candy box in the kitchen, it was hard to ignore, but somehow MIPTC managed to do it.  Even my blindingly red MSN home page didn't quite motivate me. 

Do they have a card section for Belated Valentine's Day?

Practicing law makes it difficult to remember holidays, especially nice ones like Valentine's Day and the end-of-the-year "Winter Holiday," as my staff now lists December 25 on our Firm Holiday Calendar.  It's tough because we're always fighting and arguing with opposing counsel, filing motions with the court and litigating cases.

But try as I may, I had a difficult time finding a feel-good post to write about for the holiday, and the best I could do comes from a post on How Appealing.  It was this sentence from this Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that grabbed my attention:  "This case comes to us for the third time, arising from a constitutional challenge to a provision of the Alabama Code prohibiting the commercial distribution of devices "primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs."

Plus it was filed on February 14.  Intentional?  Of course, especially with that dry, but nonetheless scintillating come-on from the court.

You don't have to be a lawyer to see the humor in that introduction to the case.  Rather than prolong your curiosity, let's cut to the quick here.  The Alabama legislature's statute barring sex toys withstood the constitutional challenge brought by the ACLU on behalf of those who want to sell sex toys in Alabama and those who want to buy them.  The court upheld the statute on the basis that the Alabama legislature can legitimately regulate public morality. 

And I thought you used them in the bedroom.  Silly me.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 15, 2007 at 00:29. Comments Closed (1) |



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