Legal Research Blog

 

Episode 25: Bostonian Pervert Prompts Great Civics Lesson

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It’s Friday for me, probably the weekend for you. Sounds like you don’t have a good excuse not to subscribe to the podcast and rate us five stars on iTunes.

1. The Hollywood Reporter recently published an interesting article on the case pending before the Ninth Circuit whereby the Court will consider whether the batmobile is entitled to copyright, rather than trademark or trade dress, protections. The strange argument appears to be that an inanimate object can rise to a level requiring protections as if it were a person. My favorite quote appears at the end:

If Towle is able to establish that DC has no protectable rights in the Batmobile, you should quit your job and start selling replicas of the General Lee and a decked-out DeLorean time machine.”

So if DC loses, I guess, see ya. Off to print some money by making Back to the Future DeLorean replicas.

2. @ouij points out on the subreddit that this next story is a great lesson in civics. It looks something like this: the Massachusetts legislature passed laws about 10 years ago designed make it illegal to take pervy photos. Here’s the text of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, 105(b):

Whoever willfully photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils another person who is nude or partially nude, with the intent to secretly conduct or hide such activity, when the other person in such place and circumstance would have a reasonable expectation of privacy in not being so photographed, videotaped or electronically surveilled, and without that person’s knowledge and consent, shall be punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

The executive branch attempts to enforce a perceived violation of the law (when a man takes upskirt photos of women on the Green Line on the T). The judiciary steps in and says, nope, the statute doesn’t do what you want it to do.

The legislature comes back and within 48 hours passes a new law, already in effect, which makes recording a person’s private parts illegal “whether under or around a person’s clothing or when a reasonable person would believe that the person’s intimate parts would not be visible to the public.”

(Incidentally if you’re a Fastcase member, you can check out the indexed opinion at here.)

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 24: For $8 All Your Datas Are Belong to Me

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It’s late. I’m in the office alone trolling RSS feeds for today’s news items. Don’t you feel some kind of imperative to subscribe to the podcast and rate us five stars on iTunes?

0. As promised, I used to read the five star reviews from the Legal Geekery podcast once in a while, so I’m going to read one of ours here at TLR today — Lawstudentnyc101 rates us five stars and says, “Great podcast for a law student to get interesting legal news and stories. Quick and to the point. Keep up the good work.” Thanks for the review!

1. The Governance Lab brings to our attention Datacoup, a service claiming to be “the first personal data marketplace.” Gone are the days where third parties benefit from surreptitiously selling your behavioral data. Why not sidestep the perfunctory “I Agree” and start selling your data yourself? That’s a more sarcastic version of the sales pitch anyway. Given some of my research on the privacy habits of millennials and the state of the economy, I wouldn’t be surprised if this kind of service becomes sort of ubiquitous. I’ll be sad — don’t get me wrong — but not surprised.

2. Is service via social media going to become more common? A judge in the Eastern District of Virginia believes that service by LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or email, satisfies the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(f)(3). Insofar as the spirit of the rule is concerned, I’m getting behind this as way more likely to make someone aware of a pending court case than traditional service by publication.

3. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog posted about Florida’s Warning Shot Bill, which was just voted out of the Senate judiciary committee. The law purports to “plug a hole” in the Stand Your Ground Law whereby a person could not threaten to use deadly force, say, by firing a gun a few inches from your would-be assailant’s head. Here’s the proposed text of the bill which is really the old bill with a lot of “or threaten to use” thrown in for good measure.

4. If you’re looking at receiving a settlement contingent upon your silence, you should probably make sure your kids aren’t blabbing about it on social media. This is probably also good advice if your clients have kids as well.

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 23: SCOTUS to Consider Right of Inmates to Bear Beards?

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It’s snowing out so I’m in my home office watching the snow fall and being thankful that I don’t have to be outside today. Would you consider warming me up by subscribing to the podcast and rating us five stars on iTunes?

1. This interesting Op-Ed piece at the Times considers whether the super wealthy should be allowed to use the judiciary in secret (for a price, of course). Specifically, it examines a 2009 law allowing litigants to essentially rent out judges and courtrooms for secret binding arbitration purposes. I can think of some good reasons for and against I’ll likely discuss in the ‘cast.

2. We talked about this on an earlier podcast, but just a follow-up that the Supreme Court of New Jersey is hearing arguments today on whether a defendant’s rap lyrics are admissible as substantive evidence. I continue to be baffled about the relevancy issue.

3. Kat Chow points us to this Slate piece urging President Obama to issue an executive order calling for a redesign of the American Passport. I sort of think it’s complaining for the sake of complaining. I dig my Passport.

4. When I moved to Florida for college (from Massachusetts where we have incredibly strict alcohol purchasing regulations) I remember having my mind blown when I learned about drive-thru liquor stores. Similarly, my mind was once again blown when I read this article about a drive-thru (okay, walk-thru) traffic ticket payment service in Pasadena. The Court claims the installation of the service window has cut down the traditionally very long wait times, but didn’t seem to offer any hard data on the reduction. Do these people have e-Ticket payment? I can pay my parking tickets in New York online in about 10 minutes even if I lose the actual ticket. I mean, not that I ever get parking tickets.

5. The Supreme Court of the United States has granted a hand-written cert petition by an Arkansas prisoner claiming that even though he’s incarcerated, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ensures him the right to grow his beard for religious purposes. LawProf Douglas Laycock from the University of Virginia filed a supplemental brief with SCOTUS pointing out that there’s a legitimate circuit split on this issue, and is now representing Mr. Holt.

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 22: Should Lawyers Stop Buying Competitors’ AdWords?

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I’m joined today by Fastcase CEO Ed Walters! Consider rewarding my chutzpah re: getting you a guest by subscribing to the podcast and rating us five stars on iTunes!

1. I meant to talk about this yesterday but got sidetracked with the awesome New York mimosa story. A lawyer in North Carolina was centured this week for buying Google AdWords corresponding to his competitors’ names. The NCSB Ethics Committee had issued an ethics opinion stating:

[A]n attorney’s purchase or use of another attorney’s name in an Internet search engine’s keyword-advertising program is dishonest and therefore violates Rule 8.4(c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The language of NC’s Rule 8.4(c) tracks the Model Rules, which many states follow, so this is potentially an issue of serious import.

2. If you happen to be a judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, or myriad other people dealing with the judges of Bexar County, Texas, you may have received a letter from the FBI the other day letting you know that your phones and texts were tapped and monitored. The entire operation is reportedly the result of an investigation into judicial corruption charges.

3. So that outburst during the Supreme Court session we reported on yesterday? Apparently a video of it was surreptitiously recorded by other members of the activist group 99 Rise. Above the Law links to the video as well as an interview (by my buddy Mike Sacks over at HuffPo) with Kai Newkirk, who it’s pretty clear was selected for his affability. Someone’s got a media coach.

4. Friend of Fastcase Aaron Kirschenfeld directs us to this wonderful opinion from the California appellate courts holding that, despite a state statute making it illegal to use a phone while driving, drivers can now legally check GPS maps on their phone. Props to Steven Spriggs, the gentleman who took this issue up to the intermediate appellate courts for a $165 ticket.

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 21: New Yorkers Lose Minds Over Bottomless Mimosas Because Everyone Stinks at Statutory Interpretation

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I’m alone in my home office today. Would you consider subscribing to the podcast and rating us five stars on iTunes to make me feel more connected to society?

1. Aaron Kirschenfeld points us to a Tweet by Arthur Lien who sketched a protest that happened at SCOTUS during patent arguments the other day. The man who’s now been identified by Reuters as Noah Newkirk from LA shouted, “Money is not speech,” “Corporations are not people,” and “Overturn Citizens United” before being promptly escorted out of the courthouse by police. This is reportedly the first outburst like this in nine years. (Which in my opinion is pretty impressive and perhaps says something about the respect for the supreme judiciary?)

2. Earlier this week the entire city of New York lost its mind when the New York City Hospitality Alliance announced there was a law on the books making bottomless brunch drinks illegal. I’m actually still seeing articles published talking about this. Amusingly, it seems like someone jumped the gun and forgot to read to the end of the statute. Here’s the statute via Fastcase:

Unlimited drink offerings prohibited. 1. No licensee, acting individually or in conjunction with one or more licensees, shall:
(a) offer, sell, serve, or deliver to any person or persons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price.
***
3. With respect to an individual licensee, this section shall not apply to . . . a package of food and beverages where the service of alcoholic beverages is incidental to the event or function.

(Emphasis added.) This is why 1Ls should really start opting for statutory interpretation as an elective over criminal procedure.

3. Kat Chow brings this article to our attention, which discusses whether Google Hangout is going to be the killer app for lawyers. Spoiler alert: Noooooooo.

4. The ABA Journal shares a weird story whereby a Florida high school student was arrested for sexual assault and jailed for 35 days before someone realized the police meant to arrest the other high school student by the same name. Four police officers were disciplined as the department said the oversight would have been discovered if protocols were followed. Specifically, little things like showing pictures of the suspects to their accusers to make sure it’s the right person before they’re arrested. It will probably be apparent in the ‘cast that my mind is blown with this story.

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!