Legal Research Blog

 

Episode 30: This Email Will Self-Destruct in 10 Days

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We’re back for more legal geekery with some cool, important, and amusing stories today. (Not necessarily in that order.) Care to reward our dedication to getting back into the swing of things by subscribing to the podcast and rating us five stars on iTunes? We’d really appreciate it.

1. @ouij points Sarah Jeong’s critique of Mashable’s treatment of the Supreme Court’s recent Aereo argument. I don’t want to spoil the post because it’s a really amusing read — essentially it takes Mashable’s description of the justices and what it purports to say about the justice’s grasp of technology, then explains why it’s wrong. I agree with her assessment for the most part. Mashable’s mischaracterization of Justice Scalia’s understanding was particularly egregious.

2. There’s been an ongoing debate about whether it’s ethical for lawyers to look up their jurors on social media. The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professionalism recently issued Formal Opinion 466 which rules that it’s not an ethics violation to simply look jurors up on social media websites to discover whatever information is available to the public, but it would be a violation to attempt to connect with them. So what if they get a notification on LinkedIn for instance that I’ve been viewing their profile? The ABA had something to say about that too — it’s not communication between attorney and juror, but rather a communication between the social media platform and the juror, and therefore not an ethical problem. The ABA Journal points out that it remains unclear whether there’s an ethical obligation to point out misconduct by the juror to the court.

3. Two Harvard Law students have developed a platform called Pluto Mail designed to be essentially the snapchat of email. It will allow for the unsending of email, expiration dates on email, and ex post facto email editing. Depending on how this is implemented, there could be pretty wide-spread legal implications. I’ll discuss some preliminary thoughts and try to spark some discussion on the reddit page.

As always, please take note of our subreddit at reddit.com/r/thelawreview. Feel free to submit stories there or vote on the stories you’d like to hear us discuss that day. You can also email us at podcast /at\ fastcase /dot\ com.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 29: Can Robots Write Better Contracts Than Me? (Probably.)

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Welcome back to The Law Review Podcast and welcome to this apology episode. We’ve been hard at work polishing up the TopForm software we purchased from LexisNexis, and that’s resulted in my not having days, nights, and/or weekends. But as there tends to be there’s a light at the end of a tunnel and we’re back and ready to roll. You know what would make our return even more awesome, though? If you subscribed to the podcast and rated us five stars on iTunes. That’d be pretty swell.

For today’s podcast Ed Walters and I are joined by Kingsley Martin and Alex Hoover of KMStandards and we discuss intelligent agents and the recent movement of actual, legitimate quantitative analysis in the legal profession. It’s a good time to be a quant law geek, indeed.

Thanks to Kingsley and Alex for joining us today — check out the KMStandards site as well as the ContractStandards site I was referencing on-air. Both useful and awesome stuff over there [for free].

As always, please take note of our subreddit at reddit.com/r/thelawreview. Feel free to submit stories there or vote on the stories you’d like to hear us discuss that day. You can also email us at podcast /at\ fastcase /dot\ com.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 28: It’s Hard Out There a Bank Robber

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The Fastcase office is buzzing with TopForm preparations but I’m sneaking away to record a podcast. If you think this was a wise decision, would you care to subscribe to the podcast and rate us five stars on iTunes? I’ll be your new best friend.

1. The ABA Journal wonders: should Hawaii cops be allowed to sleep with prostitutes in the course of an investigation? I discuss how the Hawaii PD backpedaled on this issue.

2. Oldschool bank robberies don’t pay like they used to. According to FBI statistics, about 60% of bank robbers will be tracked down within 18 months. More interestingly, the mean take-home from a bank robbery is about $4000. Definitely doesn’t seem worth it. Which explains why the number of bank robberies is significantly down overall over the course of the past few years.

3. While speaking to law students at the Brooklyn Law School recently, Justice Scalia said that he thought the question of whether computer data was one of the effects protected by the Fourth Amendment was a really good question. Actually, what he said first was, “Mmm. Mmm.”

4. Carolyn Elefant takes a good look at whether crowd sourcing lawyers is unethical. She doesn’t think so. I’m sort of constrained to disagree.

As always, please take note of our subreddit at reddit.com/r/thelawreview. Feel free to submit stories there or vote on the stories you’d like to hear us discuss that day. You can also email us at podcast /at\ fastcase /dot\ com.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 27: It’s All About the Software Patents

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This is a special edition of  The Law Review: I’m asking Patrick Taylor, Software Engineer at Fastcase, to join us to talk about the Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank case pending before SCOTUS re: software licenses. Patrick, being a coder geek working at a legal research company, is likely going to have a unique take on things I’m looking forward to hearing. And by to by, have you subscribed to the podcast and rated us five stars on iTunes yet? We’d really appreciate it.

Much of today’s special episode is going to focus around Dean Holbrook’s Op-Ed piece on Forbes re: the potential demise of software patents.  You’ll have to listen to the podcast for a synopsis of this episode, but the jumping-off point will be, of course, 35 U.S.C. § 101:

Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

As always, please take note of our subreddit at reddit.com/r/thelawreview. Feel free to submit stories there or vote on the stories you’d like to hear us discuss that day. You can also email us at podcast /at\ fastcase /dot\ com.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 26: IM IN UR KOMPUTERZ, READIN ALL UR EMAILZ

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Back after an impromptu hiatus! I came down with a really bad case of the flu last week while simultaneously traveling to Chicago for the NABE and BLI conferences, so we took an unscheduled break. But fear not — we’re back now. Consider welcoming us back by subscribing to the podcast and rating us five stars on iTunes!

1. The government isn’t psyched about the whole PRISM leaking and is responding in-kind by requesting $9 million from the government for next year to fund its “insider threat” program. This program would allow it to monitor employees with secret clearance (or above) on or off the job. The monitoring wouldn’t end at the job — the program seeks to leverage off-site social media behavior to assess risk (as well as potentially polygraphs to extirpate would be whistleblowers).

2. Check out this truly awesome piece of journalism by Brad Hearth at USA Today titled, “The ones that get away.” This is a really interesting theory about hard and fast rules in many counties across the US against extradition. Sometimes, certain cities will forego pursuing over 90% of potential felons for monetary reasons. Philadelphia in particular was called out pretty hard in the article. Interestingly, I’ve participated in quite a few teleconference motions arguments in PA where the defendant was incarcerated in a prison in another state and present by video — seems like at least a partial solution?

3. We’re linking to a sad but legally intriguing case of a Texas man who recently died of skin cancer allegedly caused by burns he received at eight years old when a then-13-year-old boy doused him with gasoline and set him on fire. 99 percent of the boy’s body was covered in burns and he died in 2011 at age 23. The attacker is now being charged with murder in adult court. Interestingly, when the crime was committed, a juvenile had to be at least 14 for a capitol murder case to be transferred into adult court, but that age was changed to 14 in 1999. It’s an interesting policy question we’ve seen show up on the podcast a few times before: do we apply the law as it existed when the act was committed, or do we use the date of the victim’s actual death to determine which law governs?

4. Dean Chemerinsky recently wrote an op/ed calling for Justices Ginsburg and Breyer to retire. And soon. According to Chemerinsky, the Justices are 81 and 79 respectively and this summer could be the last viable time a democratic president could push new Justices in for confirmation. Depending on your ideology I suspect this could either be good or bad news, but Dean Chemerinsky points to some precedent, including Roe v. Wade, that could legitimately change with another conservative Supreme Court Justice.

As always, please take note of our subreddit at reddit.com/r/thelawreview. Feel free to submit stories there or vote on the stories you’d like to hear us discuss that day. You can also email us at podcast /at\ fastcase /dot\ com.

Thanks for listening!