Legal Research Blog



Barbie won again in federal court last week.  As a result of the verdict, MGA has been ordered to stop producing its popular “Bratz” dolls and to stop selling them by February 2009.  MGA must also reimburse its suppliers.  Additionally, at that time, it must turn over all unsold inventory to Mattel – the company that makes Barbie.

In July, Mattel was ruled the rightful owner of the Bratz brand (and of $90 million in damages) because Bratz creator Carter Bryant thought of Bratz while working for Mattel under an exclusivity contract.   
In theory, the four-year long legal battle could be over.  This February, Judge Stephen Larson plans to consider post-trial motions.   

Oral Arguments: When does a traffic stop end?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Arizona v. Johnson today.  As reported in our original post, the case centered around a traffic stop where an officer patted down the passenger who did not appear to have committed a crime, but did appear to be armed and dangerous.   Following argument, there appear to be two major issues for the justices to debate:

1) Is the passenger “seized” when riding in a car pulled over by police?
2) What are the requirements for a valid search under Terry v. Ohio?
For the state, Assistant Arizona Attorney General Joseph Parkhurst argued that for a search to be constitutional under Terry v. Ohio and subsequent opinions, the officer need only reasonably believe that the searched is armed and dangerous.  For the defendant, Andrew Pincus argued that a officer must believe both that a the searched is armed and dangerous AND that criminal activity is afoot. 
Interestingly, and for the first time, the Supreme Court may now need to decide when a traffic stop begins and ends.  A sizable portion of the argument centered around whether Johnson, the passenger was seized during the traffic stop as well as the larger issue of when a traffic stop actually begins and ends.  In fact, to rule here, the court may actually have to decide when a traffic stop begins and ends.  
Read the transcript of the argument here.
Source: SCOTUS Wiki

Free Book of the Month:Commentaries on the Laws of England

Download  the book or read it online.
This book was sourced from Google Books.

‘Tis the Season – W.A.T.C.H.’s Worst Toy List

Every year, W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) puts together a list of dangerous toys – just in time for the holidays.  Every year the list receives much media attention and often results in toy design changes.

The 2008 list is in – read it here.

Pirating: Acts of Terror

A new generation of pirates has emerged, threatening trade and disturbing the world’s navies successfully. Armed with grenade launchers and assault rifles, pirates in the Gulf of Aden are currently holding 13 vessels. It is a story that keeps re-emerging – This spring, a German Navy warship, Emden, encountered pirate vessels attacking a Japanese tanker. Emden was not allowed to intervene with the attack, as the act of piracy is not legally deemed terrorism.

The legal community is plagued by the following question, ‘Are pirates considered terrorists, or a small army?’ The confusion over the answer directly affects what happens to these pirates once they are caught by navies.  Theoretically, any nation may prosecute pirates, but many choose to ignore the attacks because of the potential strain to a country’s legal system. Furthermore, because Somalia has not had a recognized government since the early 1990s, captured ship owners are quick to pay the ransom because help may never arrive. 

There are many similarities between terrorism and pirating: Pirates, like terrorists, threaten the international community, disassociate themselves from governments and participate in acts of homicide and destruction. Some suggest that because of these similarities, the United States and the international community should adopt a shared legal definition that would recognize the link between piracy and terrorism. This recognition would take the form of an act of Congress or, a new jurisdiction for piracy and terrorism cases at the International Criminal Court.