Legal Research Blog

 

Episode 10: High Fives, High Beams, High Courts

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I’m joined today by Fastcase black letter content guru Deb “Kat Chow” Letz who says that you should subscribe to The Law Review Podcast on iTunes or she’ll be very cross with you.

1. Slap hands, bro. Courtney Allen Curtis [D], a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, recently introduced House Bill No. 1624, amending the state code to read:

The “high five” is selected for and shall be known as the official state greeting in the state of Missouri.

Allegedly it’s sort of a joke, but I hope it passes anyway. Rep. Curtis can reportedly be seen slapping hands around the floor of the House with some frequency.

2. Speaking of fun Missouri laws, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Missouri thinks it’s possible that defendants could prevail on a claim that flashing high beams is an expression of protected speech. This is interesting because we’re really talking about an act intended to bring someone into conformity with the law, which often gets statutory carve outs in state statutes. I also wonder about implications of things like DUI checkpoint warning apps (arguably a different analysis as these people could not really be brought into conformity with the law but rather can just try to avoid detection?).

3. The Justices have been giving talks all over the country during the SCOTUS recess and Justice Alito said yesterday in Florida that he’s cool with people hating on the Court. “There is a reason why the Constitution gives federal judges life tenure. We are supposed to do our jobs without worrying whether our decisions are pleasing to anybody.” Feeling whole-heartedly seconded. Coming from a practice in Pennsylvania state courts, I’ve felt the struggle of elected judges who clearly feel the pressure of a popular election. Keep calm and cert on, Justice Alito.

4. Eugene Volokh writes about the odd practice of PA trial court judges asking intermediate appellate courts to deny appeals in the absence of written opinions. Typically, the language is along the lines of, “This Court respectfully requests that the instant appeal be denied for the following reason(s):” I used to see this all the time and I just brushed it off as typical Pennsylvania attorney verbosity. Curious whether anyone actually thinks this is an inappropriate prayer given that in PA, criminal defendants have a right of first appeal.

Please also 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 9: Mini Preview of LegalTech and ReInvent Law

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I made a commitment to read on the air the first five-star review left after you subscribe to The Law Review Podcast on iTunes (reserving the right to make editorial edits as I deem necessary). Ed Walters joins me today and gives us a preview of the upcoming LegalTech and ReInvent Law conferences.

1. Will you have the chicken or the steak? It’s a question that could have saved a lot of money as the Indiana Supreme Court begins to consider whether it was proper for the Indiana Court of Appeals to fine a religious home-schooling support group for failing to provide an alternative dinner to a child with a severe allergy to chicken. When she filed a complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, the child was expelled from the nonprofit group. Is this a case of administrative overreaching in the context of an organization not acting like a school (framing via Petitioners) or is it disability discrimination and retaliatory treatment (framing via Respondent)?

2. Via Aaron Kirschenfeld (@kirschsubjudice): Aaron points us to a NYTimes article discussing the recent Supreme Court of New Jersey argument regarding whether it was proper for a prosecutor to introduce evidence of the defendant’s rap lyrics at trial.

3. The Ninth Circuit recently held that bloggers have the same First Amendment defamation protections as real, honest-to-goodness journalists, finding fault with the district judge’s requirement that the defendant produce “evidence of her status as a journalist.” We talk a bit about this opinion during the literature review.

Please also 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 8: Law Life is Like a Fleet of Ubers — You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get

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Happy Friday! Why not celebrate by subscribing to us on iTunes and giving us a five star review? It helps people find us, it takes almost no time, and whenever you do it, an angel gets its wings.

1. The New York times wrote yesterday about the unprecedented decision of the Justice Department to ask for help from attorneys in identifying low-level, non-violent drug offenders sentenced during the era of disparate crack cocaine sentences. The Justice Department is encouraging these people to apply for clemency in an effort to make right the disparate sentencing  that took place prior to Congress reducing the disparity in 2010.

Incidentally, part of a bill approved yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee would allow people sentenced under these laws a mechanism to ask for clemency from judges while at the same time reducing some mandatory minimum sentences. In response, a group of the Attorney General’s subordinates submitted a letter to Mr. Holder voicing the following concerns:

Mandatory minimum sentences are a critical tool in persuading defendants to cooperate, thereby enabling law enforcement to dismantle large drug organizations and violent gangs.

2. Derek Khannain is crowd-sourcing a list of Disney works created from the public domain. The existing list contains the revenues from the Disney works. Khannain believes the information is important for Congress to appreciate the long-term costs associated with extending copyright terms. (h/t Above the Law.)

3. Do you resent the idea of not spending your afterlife with your beloved pet? Virginia’s got your back. A proposed bill would allow for the burial of companion animals in a separate section of a cemetery. Currently, cemeteries are relegated to human remains by law in Virginia, but this bill would open the door for spot to join you in your eternal resting place.

4. Carolyn Elefant wonders whether lawyers can learn a lesson from Uber. Consider the things people usually dislike about lawyers and make them your strengths. She suggests, for example, having a wifi password prominently displayed while the client waits for you.

Please also 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 7: Cafeteria Justice

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Hello, friends. Josh here in the office (alone, again!) laying down some stories so that you don’t have to troll your RSS feeds tomorrow.  (Incidentally, if you would be so kind, please subscribe to us on iTunes and give us a five star review. It helps people find the podcast and makes me not regret recording alone in the office at 8p.)

1. Continuing our Glass discussion, Ed Walters pointed me to this article by Bruce Thomas over at LII. I talk about the nifty prototype they hacked together over at Cornell.

2. The Police Unions have been trying to intervene in the stop-and-frisk suits happening in New York right now and while the Mayor announced today that the City made a settlement offer, police unions are expressing serious concerns

3. Indirectly via @ouij: the first sale doctrine is pretty clear that once you sell something, you can’t control the downstream use. Someone is apparently not telling that to the lunch ladies (lunch professionals? cafeteria workers?) about the nuances of property because they’re instead dealing some street justice by repossessing the meals of $2 with overdue balances on their lunch accounts. 30 students were allegedly “humiliated and demoralized” when the cashier threw their food in the trash rather than adding another $2 to their tab.

App of the Day!

I’ve been using Duolingo every day for the past two months or so and I’m pretty much in love with it. I’ll tell you why in the cast.

Please also 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 6: [Sensational Headline Warning] Obama Administration to Address Possible Beiber Deportation?

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That was my attempt to write a ridiculous, sensationalist headline. How’d I do? (Irrespective of the answer, if you would be so kind, please subscribe to us on iTunes and give us a five star review. It helps people find us, it takes almost no time, and it makes us happy on the inside.)

1. Story submitted by Friend of TLR @ouij: The White House will be addressing the important issue of Justin Beiber’s proposed deportation in the near future. As of this podcast, about 134,000 people have signed the petition asking the White House to revoke Justin Beiber’s green card and send him back to Canada. (If I knew any Justin Beiber songs I’m sure there’s a decent pun to be made somewhere here.) The text of the petition reads:

We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture. We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing, Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nations youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society.

2. Via Ed Walters: the National Legal Research Teach-In is entering its 22nd year serving as a platform for law librarians to share ideas with other law librarians and legal instructors. We’re linking to their page here and encourage those of you interested in legal pedagogy to take a look through the archives or consider submitting something for this year’s Teach-In since the deadline for submission was extended until February 21.

3. The MLB is moving for an immediate dismissal of A-Rod’s challenge to the arbitration decision suspending him for 162 games (already reduced from 211 games in the initial decision). In its motion, the MLB points to the implicit policy of not allowing the courts to substitute their judgment for the judgment of the labor lawyers selected by the parties.

4. After our brief discussions of Google Glass, we thought we should point out the new promotion from Google showing off a redesign of Google Glass. I’m not as excited about it as the authors are, but the podcast is a good opportunity to me to talk a bit about my relatively short experience with Glass.

5. I’m shamelessly stealing this intro right from the ABA because I couldn’t write it any better: “tonight, 22 alleged bootleggers are going to party like it’s 1999″ because Prince today dropped his $22 million lawsuit for a bootleg video of a concert that began showing up on social media websites a few weeks ago. Prince’s lawyer said they’re aware of how badly people are craving for as much Prince material as possible, but they would prefer people, you know, give them money for it.

Please also 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!