Legal Research Blog


Episode 4: The ABA Wants to Drop the U in UPL?

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Patrick Taylor, developer at Fastcase, joins me to talk MOOCs and cyberattack geekery today. Also, we’re on iTunes now so please subscribe and give us a review!

1. There’s always a lot of forward-looking conversation in academia about the future of pedagogy, and the same is true in legal academia. As someone who seriously considered making my life revolve around legal academia, I have to admit I was a bit concerned that MOOCs (massive open online courses) would eventually leave me without a job. I still think MOOCs are going to play a major role in education in the near future but this piece about Sebastian Thrun (Stanford Prof. & founder of Udacity) is an interesting look at the failings of MOOCs. I have some thoughts about this I’ll reserve for the literature review.

2. This story was submitted to our subreddit by @ouij: You may have heard about or experienced PACER’s several hour outage on Friday. We’re hearing conflicting reports on what caused the site to be down from 3-7p ET on Friday. Initial reports were that it was the result of a cyberterrorist attack. That was followed by a spokesperson for the US Courts announcing that the outage was caused by a denial of service attack. The FBI followed that up and told the Wall Street Journal that the problem appeared to be caused by technical issues rather than a cyberattack. On Saturday, however, the FBI said it was reconsidering its position.

3. Justice Scalia just authored an opinion in Burrage v. United States overturning part of a conviction of a drug dealer who sold heroin a man who died the following day during a drug binge. According to the unanimous opinion, an enhanced sentence would only be appropriate given the state statute if the drug was the actual cause of death (as opposed to simply being related). The case was remanded for the lower court to determine a new sentence without the enhancement.

4. The Kansas legislature thinks that judges shouldn’t be able to make their own opinion schedules. A proposed bill under consideration would require district judges to issue rulings on motions and non-jury trials within 120 days. Under the bill appellate courts would be have 180 days. I can’t imagine the courts I used to argue before would be thrilled about this proposal.

5. The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education thinks the ABA should relax or eliminate accreditation standards for law schools. It goes on to opine that states should relax the educational requirements for bar admission and consider allowing non-JDs to perform limited legal services. Yikes?

Please also take note of our subreddit at 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 3: Paywalls, Revenge Porn, and Massage Tables

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Some interesting stories to cover today. Also of note, PACER has been down a large majority of the day for reasons yes unknown.

1. The 2014 US News Job Rankings came out today. The rankings take into account things like career mobility, earning potential, salary expectations, and number of positions. So you may or may not be surprised to hear that lawyers are ranked the 51st best profession this year, behind such jobs as nail technicians, massage therapists, and maintenance workers.

2. I spoke briefly about Navarette v. California which was argued at the supreme court this week. If you don’t recall, this is the case that could decide whether anonymous tips are sufficient to give rise to probable cause. The Oyez project now has the audio recording of the argument up in case you’re interested in listening to it.

3. The FTC has been cracking down on hospitals acquiring doctor groups lately and today it had another big win today when it received a favorable ruling disallowing an Idaho health system from merging with the state’s largest independent doctor group on anti-competitive grounds.

4. The so-called “most hated man on the internet” was arrested yesterday after being federally indicted for conspiracy back in December. He was indicted for unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, and aggravated identity theft. Hunter Moore, founder of a revenge porn website, maintains his actions are protected by the Communications Decency Act.

5. The Governance Lab has put together a list of selected readings on big data. The series is meant to provide an “annotated and curated collection of recommended works on key opening governance topics.” Here at Fastcase we think this is going to be one of the single most important issues in the legal profession during the 21st Century, so we strongly encourage our listeners to explore these readings.

6. Readers of Eugene Volokh’s Volokh Conspiracy (like myself) are going to find themselves subject to a paywall in the next six months. As you may know, the Washington Post purchased the successful blog recently. Volokh said that, “Six months is the longest we could get.”

Guys (and gals), we’re on iTunes now so please subscribe and give us a review! Please also take note of our subreddit at 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 2: Wyoming is the Key to China’s Internet?

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One is the loneliest number, which is why this podcast is only ~11 minutes long. Still, some good stories today. Also, we’re on iTunes now so please subscribe and give us a review!

1. No one in China heard Episode 1 of this podcast yesterday due to what some are calling the Great Firewall Failure of 2014. Half of the ENTIRE WORLD’s internet users couldn’t access the internet for about 8 hours yesterday. It turns out that an error caused China to route all its internet traffic to an address registered in Cheyenne Wyoming. Internet security experts are theorizing this may have been caused by a misconfiguration of China’s firewall.

2. Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring has reversed the State’s position on its law banning gay marriage yesterday. Herring said he wants to “be on the right side of history, and on the right side of the law.”

3. Capital punishment has always been an issue of contention for the US when dealing with countries that don’t offer the punishment. Mexico, for instance, doesn’t implement the death penalty. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court last night denied a Mexican man’s appeal after his conviction for killing a police officer in Texas 20 years ago, and he was subsequently executed last night despite the objections of the Mexican Consulate and the warnings of the State` Department that this execution could affect the way Americans are treated in other countries.

4. A Kansas man who replied to a Craigslist post asking for a sperm donor was ruled by a Kansas court yesterday to be a presumptive father despite a contract between the parties waiving the obligation. The opinion pointed out that because act was not specifically an artificial insemination procedure performed by a physician, the man won’t be afforded protections guaranteed by a state statute in such cases.

5. One of the Fastcase ladies picks a few cases every year to construct our hypotheticals around when we conduct our legal research webinars, and she tries to pick ones she think will be granted cert. She’s on a streak, and this week the Supreme Court granted cert to a case considering whether or not the police need a warrant to search cell phones seized during an arrest.

Please also take note of our subreddit at 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 1: The [Sometimes Creepy] Future is Now

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For our first official The Law Review podcast, I’m joined by Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. These are the headlines we discuss:

1. While we typically embrace technology being the tech geeks we are, it’s always good to step back and think about how we’re using that technology. In a headline that sounds more like the introduction to a creepy dystopian sci-fi book, thousands of Ukranian protesters received a text message yesterday while protesting that read, “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” The overreaching future is creepy.
2. Former VA governor Bob McDonnell and his wife were indicted yesterday for allegedly accepting gifts valued at over $140,000 from a dietary supplement company. The couple claim they never accepted money with the intent of giving a government benefit, and instead allege the money was a personal gift (even though it’s since been paid back with interest).
3. Can emoji count as a death threat? A reporter recently wondered this after he initiated a drug deal, you know, for a story, and then backed out. It turns out drug dealers aren’t a fan of that. So the drug dealer tracked down the reporter’s real Instagram account and posted a threatening emoji on it. There’s no case pending, but it’s an interesting question – is it easier or harder for emoji to count as harassment.
4. Are more states going to start ticketing people for driving while wearing Google Glass? At least one person is looking at a ticket for driving while wearing the device. We’re going to talk a bit later on about whether or not these kinds of laws should exist, and when they might be appropriate.
5. The 9th Circuit held yesterday that a peremptory strike of a potential juror, just because he mentioned his same-sex lover in a case involving HIV medication pricing, was a violation of the equal protection clause. Striking counsel claimed he was unaware of the juror’s sexual orientation, but the authoring 9th Circuit judge rebutted, claiming that the attorney never asked him a substantive question about his ability to remain impartial.
6. The DC circuit isn’t giving any love to Common Clause’s attorneys seeking to overturn the filibuster rule. While their argument revolves around the majority rule language codified by the Constitution. It looks like this is going to a ripeness or lack of standing issue, especially given that it turns out none of the parties sued – including Vice-President Biden – has the ability to change the rules.

Please also take note of our subreddit at 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 0: Get Us On iTunes!

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So, amusingly, we made this podcast episode as a placeholder so that we could get placed onto the iTunes store, but before we could get it active, Apple already approved our podcast. Click here to subscribe on your various iOS devices and/or computers!

While we polish up the podcast and get ready for Episode 1, this one will give you an idea of what you can expect from us going forward.