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July 31, 2012

Tuesday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: The police are at my house because my husband claims I kicked him. I only did that because he was trying to grab my neck. The police asked me to give them a demonstration of what my husband did -- should I go along with that request and show them?

Answer: Sure, but don't get too animated in your demonstration or you'll be arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer. (The Daytona Beach News-JournalPort Orange police charge woman after she re-enacts domestic abuse claim on cop)

2) Question: We are half-finished building our new dream house and we just discovered we built it 3.5 inches too close to a neighboring property. No big deal, right?

Answer: Sorry, but you are going to need to either pay about $25,000 to correct the error or buy more property to render it moot. (UPI, 3.5 inch home error costs $24,850 to repair)

3) Question: My spouse is in the D.C. jail and he is depressed. When do I get to visit him and give him a big hug?

Answer: Never -- all inmate visits at the D.C. jail are now done electronically via a camera at the new Video Visitation Center. (District of DeBonis, DeMorning Links: eVisits only)

July 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 30, 2012

Olympic Lawyers Shadow Torch's Every Move to Prevent 'Ambush Marketing'

Via Lowering the Bar, I see the latest bit of evidence in support of those who argue "you can do anything with a law degree."

As discussed here, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games has been notoriously strict about the use by non-sponsors of items such as the Olympic rings, the word "Olympics," and even the use of certain words in advertising. And it appears LOCOG was equally zealous in its efforts to prevent non-sponsors from engaging in any "ambush marketing" to shoehorn their brand into the festivities that surrounded the running of the Olympic torch.

By way of background, ambush marketing occurs when companies try to benefit from an event without actually paying for advertising. One famous example of ambush marketing took place during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when police arrested 36 blonde women dressed in skimpy orange mini-dresses who were allegedly hired by the Dutch brewery Bavaria to attract media attention in the stands (see the video here).

According to The Guardian, LOCOG sought to prevent any similar stunts during the Olympic torch run by assigning two LOCOG lawyers the task of "shadowing the torch on every step of its journey across the UK" to prevent ambush marketing. Specifically, these lawyers "inspected the 'event zones' around each venue to ensure there was no unauthorised advertising and that 'areas are clean.'"

LOCOG did graciously decide not to make people wearing "commercially branded clothes or football shirts with the logos of team sponsors" remove their clothes, and is not checking under coats to inspect clothes. Thanks for that, LOCOG!

July 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 27, 2012

Olympic Squares? Condom Rings? Non-Sponsors of Olympics Get Creative

The Olympics are about to begin, and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games has been notoriously strict about the use by non-sponsors of items such as the Olympic rings, the word "Olympics," and even the use of certain words in advertising. Indeed, as discussed here on,

Using two of the following words "games," "two thousand and twelve," "2012," or "twenty twelve" together, or combining one of those with "gold," "silver," "bronze," "London," "medals," "sponsor," or "summer" is prohibited in advertising (by non-sponsors) or on products/merchandise when used in a context that could suggest an association with the 2012 Olympic Games.

Of course, not all non-sponsors are willing to completely shy away from the lure of the Olympic games, and several have come up with creative ways to circumvent LOCOG's rules -- sometimes, it seems, just to thumb their noses at LOCOG. By canvasing Twitter, CBC News has collected several amusing photos of businesses and billboards in London that are doing just that.

  • Olympic Rings? No, Squares! (plus bonus points for "Lodnon 2102 Oimplycs" reference):

Olympic squares

(source: @tompsk)

  • Olympic Rings? No, just some condoms.

Olympic condoms

(source: @benjamint)

Read the CBC article here to see the full array of "non-Olympic" ads, parodies, T-shirts and more captured by observers in London. 

July 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I've been in jail at the county detention center for a couple months. The deputy is telling me that I am free to go but I don't have a ride and I'm not walking home. What if I just tell the deputy I'm not leaving until one of the officers agrees to provide me with a ride? 

Answer: You'll probably be arrested again, for trespassing, and put right back in jail. (CBS News, Man refuses to leave NC jail, gets rearrested)

2) Question: My lady and I would like to get married but we don't have a car and we only have $100 between us. What are our options in the Las Vegas area?

Answer: You are in luck-- the Las Vegas Wedding Wagon will drive to you and perform a 10-minute, curbside wedding for only $99. (UPI, Las Vegas Wedding Wagon delivers nuptials)

3) Question: Can I get in trouble for emailing a picture of a cartoon villain to a school administrator? 

Answer: If it is a picture of the Joker from Batman, you can be charged with making a terroristic threat. (WHAS11, UK student facing charges after emailing picture of the Joker to school administrator)

July 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 26, 2012

Thursday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I'm a weatherman in the Netherlands, and people get completely bent out of shape when I get the forecast wrong. Hey, I'm doing my best! What are they going to do about it, throw me in jail? 

Answer: No jail, but weather forecasters who get the forecast wrong in the Netherlands may soon face fines. (CBC News, Faulty weather forecasts could lead to fines in Netherlands)

2) Question: I am the mayor of a small town, but the town's police are trying to arrest me for entering an office that is off-limits to me. Can I simply fire the officers who are trying to arrest me? 

Answer: Nope! (Seattle Weekly, The Terminator: Pink-Slip-Happy Mayor Cy Tries to Fire Cops As They're Arresting Him)

3) Question: I'm a civilian contractor doing some painting work on a nuclear-powered attack submarine. I don't feel like working today, and was thinking about starting a small fire to get out of work early. Do you see any "cons" associated with this plan?

Answer: You could end up causing $400 million in damage to the submarine and face up to life in prison for arson. (The Associated Press, Worker charged with arsons in Maine sub fire)

July 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 25, 2012

Robert Scoble's Visit With Kevin O'Keefe and LexBlog

On Tuesday, LexBlog CEO Kevin O'Keefe wrote on "Real Lawyers Have Blogs" about a visit he received at his Seattle office from Robert Scoble. Scoble is a well-known "technologist," author and innovator in the area of blogging and social media, who O'Keefe credits with making his company possible.  

One of the lasting impressions Scoble made on O'Keefe came in 2005, when Scoble explained that "if you don't talk about me in your blogging, I can't hear you." Scoble wasn't being egotistical with this point, but was rather expressing the view that if a blogger is not engaging with others, they may never hear or notice what the blogger has to say. 

Scoble interviewed O'Keefe and recorded the nearly 30-minute interview on Soundcloud. Highlights of their conversation include:

  • According to O'Keefe, 30 percent of lawyers now use iPads;
  • O'Keefe works with lawyers who are making seven-figure incomes based on relationships they have developed online as thought leaders;
  • Scoble and O'Keefe agreed that 10 years ago, lawyers believed it was in their interest to hoard information. Today, however, that idea has been flipped on its head, and lawyers are learning to profit from sharing information;
  • O'Keefe believes that the price of engaging in social media goes far beyond the return on investment that can be calculated. The price of failing to do so, he says, is "irrelevance," as the world may never know who you are and what you can do;
  • O'Keefe and Scoble spent a good bit of time discussing Flipboard, a quickly growing mobile app. Both men clearly believe lawyers who blog need to prioritize getting their content onto Flipboard.

The full interview can be heard by clicking below. 


July 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 24, 2012

Tuesday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I work at a jail. An arrestee who is being bailed out by some of his supposed buddies says he doesn't want to be bailed out by those guys, but won't explain why. Ideas?

Answer: Sometimes people bail other people out of jail so that they can kidnap them. Maybe that is what is going on. (Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage man kidnapped by 4 people who bailed him out of jail)

2) Question: I am at the public library. Why is that man using a computer with a plastic hood on it? 

Answer: That is one of the new library terminals for people to watch pornography on in private. (The New York Times, (He's Watching That, in Public? Pornography Takes Next Seat)

3) Question: I bought a gun on the streets. I was testing it out when it discharged, and I shot myself in the genitals. How can things get worse?

Answer: Depending on what you tell the emergency room doctor, you may also be charged with possession of a firearm. (UPI, Man shoots his own genitals, goes to jail)

July 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 23, 2012

Things That Exist, Vol. 4: 'Law School Death List'

I feel like I'm on my computer constantly, poring through hundreds of feeds and stories daily, spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of legal blogs and information you deserve. But I definitely miss a lot of things that everyone else seems to know about -- the type of things where I can only scratch my head and say, "Really?!? They have that? Never heard of it." 

Today's thing I never knew existed: Law School Death Lists

Courtesy of the "scambloggers" -- the army of young lawyers who have taken to the blogosphere with the mission of alerting wannabe lawyers to the futility of such a decision -- comes "The Law School Death List." As explained by the But I Did Everything Right! blog earlier this month,

Every year, there's some sickos on the web that predict which celebrities will die in the coming year.... 

Anyhow, based on this concept, unperson came up with a completely fabulous idea and I am going to push it as hard as my broke ass can: by starting The Law School Death List.

.... [T]he question is (drumroll please) which school is next

Whoever correctly guesses the next law school to fold wins a Kindle!

At the Law School Death Watch site, several schools are listed as possible "winners:" Whittier Law School, because of its "extremely low employment figures for its grads" and its California location ("the most lawyer-saturated state in America"); Golden Gate University, also in California and with a reported 22 percent of graduates holding jobs nine months after graduation; New England School of Law; University of La Verne College of Law; and several others.

If you want a shot at the Kindle, post your guess on the next law school to fold in the comments of the But I Did Everything Right post.

July 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (10)

July 20, 2012

Friday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I hate the mug shot the police took of me. Uggghhh!!  How do I complain about it -- by calling 911? 

Answer: No, that will get you charged with misusing the 911 system. On the other hand, it could give you another opportunity for a mug shot. (The Smoking Gun, Cops: Woman Dialed 911 With Mug Shot Beef)

2) Question: I hacked in to the school's computer system and changed my son's grade from a 98 percent to a 99 percent. Obviously I barely changed it, so if I get caught, will that just be a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania? 

Answer: One percent change or not, that still constitutes unlawful use of a computer and computer trespassing, a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania. (The Consumerist, Is It Worth Hacking Into A School's System To Change Your Kid's Grade By 1 Percent?)

3) Question: I work for an airline. We accidentally sold seats on an expensive international flight for four frequent flier miles. Four! Do we have to honor this? 

Answer: It looks like you might. A new Department of Transportation rule states that once a confirmation is issued, "the seller of the air transportation cannot increase the price of that air transportation to that consumer, even when the fare is a 'mistake.'" (The Middle Seat Terminal, DOT Investigates After United Says it Will Kill Award Tickets It Sold For 4 Miles)

July 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4)

July 19, 2012

Baseball Law: Are Teams Negligent for Not Having More Netting to Protect Fans?

A sad accident at an Atlanta Braves game in 2010 has led to the latest "fan vs. team" lawsuit for injuries resulting from a foul ball. In this case, the fan was a 6-year-old child who was hit by a ball in the head, resulting in a fractured skull and damage to her brain. The family is suing the owner of the Braves and Major League Baseball, claiming that the defendants were negligent in their protection of fans such as the injured child.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the plaintiffs claim that the Braves and MLB were particularly aware of the dangers given that one of their minor league managers, Luis Salazar, actually lost an eye when he was hit in the face by a foul ball at a spring training game. The family's lawyer, Mike Moran, argues that the danger to fans can be easily remedied by putting up more netting in front of the closer seats. The AJC notes that many fans object to teams adding netting around the first- and third-base lines because it can obstruct their views, but Moran counters that the most expensive seats at ballparks are usually directly behind home plate -- and a screen.

The AJC reports that about 200 "foul ball" (or flying bat) cases are filed each year related to baseball games played at any level, but the vast majority fail because spectators are deemed to have "assumed the risk" of any injury. At the MLB level, the back of each ticket specifically states:

The holder assumes all risk and danger incidental to the game of baseball, whether occurring prior to, during or subsequent to, the actual playing of the game, including specifically ... the danger of being injured by thrown or batted balls, thrown or broken bats.

As discussed here previously, there have been several cases and settlements recently in which players -- who are also usually deemed to have assumed the risk of injury -- were injured during games have recovered money. These include a pitcher who was injured while pitching on a mound that was "too big and too deep" and another pitcher who was killed by a line drive.

July 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I am trying to get my lawn to look nice, but we are in the middle of a Stage 1 drought and it has brown spots. Any advice?

Answer: You should consult with Lawn Care Blog Watch on this one, but one thing you may need to do is get your checkbook out and stroke a $200 check to your homeowners' association. HOAs will fine you for brown spots on your lawn, drought or no drought. (UPI, Woman fined $200 for dry grass in drought)

2) Question: I am a 71-year-old man. Two guys at the Internet cafe I'm seated in just pulled out a gun to rob the place and ordered everyone to lie on the ground. Will I get charged with anything if I open fire on the robbers with my own weapon? 

Answer: Are you in Florida? If so, you may avoid any charges. (Daily Mail, Stop or the senior citizen will shoot!

3) Question: I am an 82-year-old man. Will I get in any trouble if I point my fingers like a gun and threaten bank employees?

Answer: Oh yes, you could be charged with making terroristic threats. Put that finger gun down! (ABA Journal, Elderly Man Accused of Pointing Fingers Like a Gun at Bank Employees Sues over His Arrest)

July 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 18, 2012

'Breastaurant' Buys Deserted Town, Changes Name to 'Bikinis, Texas'

There's not a beach for hundreds of miles, but so what? If you buy a deserted town on Craigslist, you can call it whatever you darn well please -- including naming it after your booming "breastaurant" business.

Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill ("Americas Only Sports Breastaurant!") started in Austin, Texas, and now has another 10 locations in Texas and beyond. For those of you who do not get out much, restaurants in the so-called breastaurant business (e.g., HootersTwin PeaksTilted Kilt, Bikinis), feature scantily clad waitresses and, well, scantily clad waitresses.

This week, Doug Guller, the founder and CEO of Bikinis, announced that he had purchased the abandoned Texas town/railroad stop known as Bankersmith, Texas, on Craigslist and renamed it "Bikinis, Texas." There is nothing there presently, but Guller says that will soon change. "Bikinis, TX will be a world-class destination, and I am thrilled to expand the Bikinis brand to include town ownership," he said. "There could not be a better way to put Bikinis on the map ... literally."

On, an article notes that

The [Bikinis] website has few details about how, specifically, Guller plans to make the mostly uninhabited stretch of Hill Country "world class," but it's guaranteed to include youngish, large-chested women in undersized swimwear. And Bankersmith/Bikinis is unincorporated land, so there will be no need to settle whether it should have a strong mayor or city manager form of government or haggle over zoning restrictions. Instead there will be just one overgrown adolescent with too much money and too many willing charges.

July 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I work for the TSA. This man has a "very noticeable" bulge in his pants that does not set off the metal detector -- could this be a biological threat?

Answer: It could be. But it could also just be a part of the man with the largest penis in the world. (The Huffington Post, Jonah Falcon, Man With World's Largest Penis, Frisked By TSA At California Airport)

2) Question: The judge gave me probation on a car burglary conviction, but I still couldn't resist smashing her car window on my way out of court. Is this going to affect my sentence?

Answer: That will probably get your sentence bumped up to three years in jail, revocation of your probation and restitution of $250 for smashing the car window. (ABA Journal, Convicted Car Burglar Gets 3-Year Max for Breaking Into Judge’s Car Near Courthouse)

3) Question: My son is five years old and he is a terrific soccer player. Can I place a legally binding bet somewhere that he will play for the English national team when he grows up?

Answer: Of course. And since he is under the age of six, bookmakers will offer you 1000 to 1 odds that he will go on to play for England, sight unseen. (BBC News, The curious world of long-term bets)

July 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2012

Internet Defense League, 'Cat Signal' to Launch This Week

Cat_signalOn July 19, the new Batman movie will open at midnight. Don't be surprised if you happen to see a spotlight in your city that evening that is blasting a beam of light and displaying the cat signal on a neighboring building.

That's right -- the cat signal, not the bat signal, as July 19 is also the launch of the Internet Defense League. The IDL describes itself as "a network of people and sites who use their massive combined reach to defend the open internet and make it better. Because it can sound the alarm quickly to millions of users, people are calling it 'a bat-signal for the Internet.'"

The driving force behind the IDL is a group called Fight for the Future, a nonprofit organization that helped organize the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) back in late 2011. More than 115,000 websites, including sites such as Wikipedia, went "dark" for a day to help defeat those bills. IDL says that it wants to take the tactic that killed SOPA and PIPA and turn it into a permanent force for defending the Internet -- "like the internet's Emergency Broadcast System." Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who is on the IDL steering committee, explained that 

At a moment of notice, this kind of digital bat signal will go up in the air and you’ll get notified and have the opportunity to take action however you see fit on your site. It could be a slew of buttons that give links to whatever we're doing, a call to action to sign a petition, or a couple of lines of code that you put on your site that allows someone to call their senator. It will be up to the web owner to decide. ... We're trying to encourage as much from the bottom up, because that’s how the internet works.

But why the cat signal? Holmes Wilson, a co-founder of Fight for the Future, said that "if the internet has a mascot, it's definitely a cat, not a bat.‬"

Image: Internet Defense League

July 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: The judge handing down my sentence just ordered me to read the Old Testament Book of Job and write a summary. Can he do this?

Answer: Yep! (WSJ Law Blog, I Sentence You to Summarize the Book of Job)

2) Question: I just received a notice on my door from the Massachusetts Housing Authority saying that "the public display of the American flag in common areas is not permitted. As a result, all American flag displays must be restricted to the interior of your apartment." Really? Really?

Answer: The state of Massachusetts would like you to know that this ban on U.S. flags "was a mistake that is being corrected immediately." (The Milford Daily NewsFlag ban was a mistake, state says)

3) Question: I'm a judge. Why is this defendant asking me to add another month onto his sentence -- from 36 months to 37 months?

Answer: If your federal sentence is at least 37 months long you can qualify to attend a prison substance-abuse program, which can allow you to get a year's credit off your prison term.  (Boston Herald, Prosecutors rip Tierney kin’s plea for longer sentence)

July 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 16, 2012

Def Leppard 'Forging' Its Own Hits to Get Around Digital Sales Dispute

A band is covering Def Leppard's most popular songs to create "forgery" recordings it can sell, but Def Leppard doesn't mind at all -- because it is Def Leppard itself that is creating the new recordings.

Joe Elliott, Def Leppard's lead singer, is now 52 years old. In 1979, a teenage Elliott and his bandmates signed a recording deal with Universal Records that still governs the terms of how the band is compensated for the sales of its music. The sales of digital music, which did not exist at the time, were not covered by the deal, however, and the company and the band have disagreed on what a fair price is for such sales. Billboard reports that this has led Def Leppard to refuse to allow Universal to sell digital versions of its hits. According to Elliott, "our contract is such that they can't do anything with our music without our permission, not a thing. So we just sent them a letter saying, 'No matter what you want, you are going to get "no" as an answer, so don't ask.' That's the way we've left it."

The dispute has also led Def Leppard to undertake something that has proven to be a great challenge: re-recording many of its back catalog of songs "with brand new, exact same versions of what we did." Elliott told NPR that once the songs are re-recorded, the band owns them and do whatever it likes with them. "We can license them, we can box them, we can sell them, we can sit on them, but they're ours. I think artists need to wrestle back their careers and the ownership of their stuff," he said.

Elliott said that the band had to carefully study the original recordings so that the new versions would match as closely as possible. After decades of singing the songs differently live every night, he said, "it just drifts away from the original. ... To go back in and recreate what's in everybody's DNA is near on impossible. It's a challenge if nothing else and, like I said, it's a business decision." To accomplish this, the band "had to study those songs, I mean down to the umpteenth degree of detail, and make complete forgeries of them." Elliott said he had to sing himself into a "certain throat shape" to recapture his 22-year-old voice for the new recordings.

July 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 13, 2012

Things You Can't Do on a Plane: Vol. 21

You might think that after Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3Volume 4Volume 5Volume 6Volume 7Volume 8, Volume 9Volume 10Volume 11Volume 12Volume 13Volume 14Volume 15Volume 16Volume 17Volume 18Volume 19 and Volume 20 of Things You Can't Do on a Plane, that we'd have exhausted the list of things you can't do on a plane. Nope! The list grows daily.

Here are three more things I've recently learned that you cannot do on a plane:

  • Tell passengers after a 4 1/2 hour delay that they can deplane if they "have the balls to want to get off." Flight attendants may not announce over the intercom after a lengthy delay that "if anyone has the balls to want to get off, I'll let you get off! Get off!" CONSEQUENCE: Flight attendant will be removed from the flight for questioning. 
  • Force a passenger to sit across from a corpse on a 10-hour international flight. In the event of a passenger's death during a flight, flight attendants should not require other passengers to sit across the aisle from the corpse for the rest of the trip. CONSEQUENCEAirline will apologize and refund about half the cost of the passenger's $1,400 ticket.
  • Board a plane with a vital organ larger than the 100 ml limit for a liquid. Passengers may not board a plane with a trachea seeded with 60 million stem cells that must be implanted within 16 hours if the bottle exceeds 100 ml. CONSEQUENCE: Passenger will need to find another small jet to fly the container at a cost of $21,000. 

July 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I was happily reading the book Fifty Shades of Grey when my boyfriend told me to stop because he believes the book is "pornography." I told him I'd read what I wanted to read, and he then squirted me in the face with some brown sauce to show me what "saucy" really meant. Can he do this?

Answer: Squirting someone with sauce is the crime of common assault in some places, so probably not. (The TelegraphBoyfriend squirted partner with brown sauce when she refused to stop reading Fifty Shades of Grey)

2) Question: Whoa -- I just came upon a massive melee in Ewing, N.J. About 200 people are fighting and rioting. What is going on here?!

Answer: Sounds like a bridal shower. (Times of TrentonEwing bridal shower ends in riot of more than 200 people)

3) Question: I'm relieved to learn that President Obama will pay my utility bills as part of a bailout plan if I simply register for the program and provide my personal and financial information. This is legit, right?

Answer: Sorry, but this is a scam. The president will not be paying your electric bill. (Dayton Daily NewsDon't fall for 'Obama will pay electric bill scam,' warns DP&L) (via The Consumerist)

July 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 12, 2012

'Doing 55 in a 54': Law Review Article Applies Fourth Amendment to Jay-Z's '99 Problems'

I am not a fan of law review articles. The overwhelming majority of them are probably read by five people total and are on esoteric topics that are of no relevance to practicing lawyers or any other humans. See, e.g., the article I wrote in the early 1990s for the Maryland Law Review on a topic I can no longer remember and cannot find anywhere on the Internet. (And yes, I know that "Maryland Law Review" is supposed to be written in upper and lower case capital letters but this is a blog and we don't do that).

Every couple of years, however, someone does write a law review article that I actually look forward to reading, and I now add Caleb Mason, Associate Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School, to that short list for his "JAY-Z’S 99 PROBLEMS, VERSE 2: A CLOSE READING WITH FOURTH AMENDMENT GUIDANCE FOR COPS AND PERPS" (via Above the Law).

For those of you who are not familiar with Jay-Z's work, "99 Problems" (the video is here, and it contains some curse words) was a very popular song released in 2004. As Mason describes it, 

In one compact, teachable verse (Verse 2), the song forces us to think about traffic stops, vehicle searches, drug smuggling, probable cause, and racial profiling, and it beautifully tees up my favorite pedagogical heuristic: life lessons for cops and robbers.

Specifically, Verse 2 contains the story of a young, black man being pulled over (ostensibly for "doing fifty-five in a fifty-four" mph zone) by police, police interrogation as to whether the man has a weapon and whether they can "look around the car a little bit," whether the stop constitutes an arrest, the fact that the driver's glove compartment and trunk are locked and whether that necessitates a warrant for a search, and police threats to turn the K-9s on him.

Mason breaks down and analyzes each line of Verse 2 to offer a "detailed, accurate analysis of the Fourth Amendment issues Verse 2 raises." He concludes that 

The lesson for cops is that if you want to use traffic laws as a pretext for catching drug smugglers, you can. Absolutely, no problem. But you have to do it right, and doing it right can be labor-intensive. ...

The lesson for perps is threefold: (1) don’t consent, (2) know the reasonable suspicion boilerplate and don't provide it, and (3) make a record of the encounter any way you can, including your behavior, appearance, and demeanor before and during the stop, the officer's stated motive for the stop, all of your responses to questioning, whether or not you were placed under arrest, and the exact amount of time you were held on the side of the road.

All in all, this is a very creative and interesting article by Caleb Mason that I, as a Jay-Z fan and a fan of the song, enjoyed very much.

July 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I owe child support payments to my wife in Pennsylvania but I solved that problem by moving really far away, to Hawaii. Ha! But I just received a call out of the blue offering me the chance of a lifetime to star in Jennifer Aniston's new romantic comedy, and the producers want to meet with me in Pennsylvania. That happens, right?

Answer: Perhaps. But sometimes it is just a bounty hunter trying to lure you back to Pennsylvania so you can be arrested. (Reuters, Fake Jennifer Aniston Movie Role Nabs Deadbeat Dad)

2) Question: My employer failed to pay me $0.23 it owed me in overtime pay two years ago. Can I get a class action lawsuit certified?

Answer: Of course. (The Am Law Litigation Daily, Class Cert Granted in 23 Cent(!) Overtime Suit Against Office Depot)

3) Question: I'm a stripper from France and I'm trying to get a Canadian visa. Why do I keep getting rejected?

Answer: Canada has stopped granting visas for foreign strippers, escorts and massage parlor workers. Sorry! (Newser, Canada Bans Foreign Strippers)

July 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 11, 2012

Bob Ambrogi Identifies the First Law Firm to Launch a Website

Legal Internet historian/law blog pioneer/lawyer/consultant/former Legal Blog Watch writer Bob Ambrogi posted an interesting question on his LawSites blog last week: Which law firm of more than 25 lawyers was the first to launch a website and when?

On Tuesday, Ambrogi revealed the answer: Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti (now known simply as Venable LLP), in March 1994. In support of his answer, Ambrogi offers three pieces of evidence:

1. An article he wrote on his trailblazing "" column back in August 1995 that identified Venable as the first law firm to establish a Web page;

2. Venable's registration of the domain name on March 5, 1994 and logs showing Web traffic to that site as far back as June 12, 1994; and

3. An April 1994 article in The Baltimore Sun (miraculously still available online 18 years later) discussing Venable's new "electronic shingle" on the "far-flung network of computer networks" that went live in mid-March 1994. The article cites a Venable lawyer who said that Venable was the "first law firm with direct access to the Internet and the first to publish there under its own name."

Ambrogi notes:

As context, consider that the concept of the Web as an Internet service had just been introduced in 1991 and the first photo on the Web was uploaded in 1992. When Venable launched its site in 1994, no one knew quite what to make of the Web or could anticipate what it would become.

One other law firm -- the now-defunct Heller Ehrman -- also appears to have at least a claim to the title of first law firm website. The firm's Wikipedia page as well as a cached version of its own website claims that in 1994, "Heller Ehrman launched the first law firm website." Ambrogi, however, says he can find nothing to corroborate this claim, and nothing that provides the specific date in 1994 when Heller launched the website.

July 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 10, 2012

Trend Watch: Worldwide Efforts to Aid and Protect Women Drivers Who Cannot Park Well

Don't shoot the messenger, but I need to report on a worldwide trend I'm detecting: the creation of special parking spots and rules to deal with the physical limitations women may have when trying to park their cars.

I first noticed this back in 2009, when a Jonathan Turley post pointed out that in South Korea, special pink painted parking spots have been created "to give extra assistance to female drivers." The pink spots are 2.5 meters wide rather than the standard 2.3 meters (see a photo of a pretty pink parking spot here). In case you are thinking that maybe the pink spots are simply for expectant mothers, think again. As Korea Beat reported at the time, the pink spots are drawn wider specifically to "offer[] aid to women drivers unskilled at parking."

Next up in the global crusade to help women parkers was the nation of Croatia. As shown here on the Sociological Images blog, ladies parking spots have been created in Croatia adjacent to handicapped spots that are approximately 50 percent wider than standard spaces. Plus, they have a pretty pink line on the wall.

This week, however, the ladies parking issue took a new turn. Sometimes, it appears, the carrot of a large pink parking spot is insufficient, and you need to use the stick, too. That is what Gallus Strobel, mayor of the small town of Triberg, Germany, has now implemented via the town's new parking garage policy. As The Local reports, Strobel has now supplemented the municipal garage's 12, extra-wide and better-lit spaces already set aside for women with special parking spaces designated for men -- "because they're harder to get into." According to Strobel,

the men's spaces require the driver to pull in at an angle, and avoid hitting cement pillars. They are an "attraction" for any ambitious driver, Strobel told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

"But men are, as a rule, a little better at such challenges," he told the paper.

Strobel adds that women are welcome to take on the challenge of parking in the men's spaces if they wish, and admitted that, "of course, there are also great women drivers!"

July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I'm a new officer on the local police force. A man just barricaded himself inside a hotel and his demands include pizza and to marry Paris Hilton. This was not covered by my training. What do we do here?

Answer: Pizza?! That is outrageous. Break out the pepper spray. (WCNC, Police: Man barricades himself in hotel, demands pizza and Paris Hilton)

2) Question: Things are really going poorly for me. Can I sell my soul on eBay?

Answer: No, it looks like eBay lumps people's souls in with its general prohibition on the sale of humans, the human body, or any human body parts or products. (The Huffington Post, Lori N, Albuquerque Woman, Tries To Sell Soul On eBay) (via Law and Magic Blog)

3) Question: Can I make my final mortgage payment by delivering 62,000 pennies weighing 800 pounds to the bank?

Answer: No problem. (The Consumerist, Hope No One Minds If I Just Plunk Down 62,000 Pennies To Pay Off This Mortgage

July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 09, 2012

The Post-Storm Roles of Power Company Lawyers

Greetings from the Fairfax County Public Library!

As I discussed here last week, I had been holed up at a local hotel after being left without power and water for five days following the derecho storm. The power at my home finally was finally restored late last week, but phone, cable and Internet service is still down and out. That is why I am typing this from a table next to the children's section in the library. Hey, quiet down over there, Junior!!

So please forgive me for my fixation on storm-related issues lately. I pledge to stop writing about them when my Internet access returns. Today's storm-related question: What is the role of lawyers at a power company after massive storm outages?

The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times reports that at Pepco, the primary power company in the D.C. area, the company's 23 lawyers have a specific "storm role" they are expected to carry out. First, the company's lawyers staff the "escalated call team," handling calls from customers who are not satisfied with the response they get from customer service (note to self: ask to speak to power company's lawyer next time my power goes out for days).

In addition, lawyers from different groups at the company must take on the unique issues presented by a massive storm. The company's regulatory lawyers, for example, start preparing required reports that must be filed with regulatory bodies after a major event, and try to prepare for any investigations that they anticipate may result from widespread outages. Other lawyers begin fielding (i.e., denying) customers' damages claims, such as for food that has gone bad or for loss of business. Pepco says it doesn't pay for either of these types of claims.

July 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 06, 2012

Friday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: I don't care what anyone says, mermaids are real!! I will believe this until the federal government makes an official statement to the contrary.

Answer: Looks like today is the day! (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found)

2) Question: I'm a lifeguard and I just saved a man from drowning in an area of the ocean just south of my assigned area. Do you think I'll receive a commendation from the city or something?

Answer: You'll probably be fired, actually. (The StarLifeguard fired after rescuing drowning man outside Florida beach zone)

3) Question: I just bought an enema from the drugstore and I must say it looks, um, a bit "used." How is this possible?

Answer: Sometimes people are arrested for buying enema packages, using them, and then returning them with re-sealed packaging to make the products appear unopened. (WOKV, Man returns used enemas to Jacksonville CVS store)

July 6, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 05, 2012

Thursday's Three Burning Legal Questions

Here are today's three burning legal questions, along with the answers provided by the blogosphere.

1) Question: Uggghhh. The judge just sentenced me to 78 months in prison. Should I just grin and bear it?

Answer: If you grin, he may add six more months to your sentence. Just bear it. (The National Law JournalSmile gets defendant six more months in prison - and Eighth Circuit affirms)

2) Question: Our toddler's Grandma has cancer. Her doctor recommended that she use marijuana to ease her pain, and she whipped up a batch of pot-laced cookies. But then our child found the cookies and ate them, and had to go to the hospital. Can we get in any trouble for this?

Answer: If toxicology tests show marijuana is found in the child's system, family members could face child endangerment charges. (The Associated PressGrandma's pot cookies land 3-year-old Southern California boy in hospital)

3) Question: My 2002 Saturn was improperly towed and impounded. Unacceptable!! I'm going to sue the county -- does $500 billion seem like a reasonable demand? 

Answer: It does not. (Abnormal Use, Ohio Woman Sues Over Towed Car, Demands $500 Billion)

July 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 03, 2012

N.J. AG Warns Hotels, Merchants About Price Gouging During Storm Emergency

Greetings from the Dulles Airport Marriott, where I am pecking out this post from the hotel lobby. I am here because the power at my home has been out since Friday night following the crazy derecho storm that blasted several Eastern states, including Virginia. The storm has reportedly left over one million people in the Washington, D.C. area without power.

My family and I tried to wait out the power outage from home, despite the triple-digit temperatures this week, but finally fled to a hotel due to the lack of water -- which is another very unfortunate consequence of having no power when your house has a well, which works on an electric well pump. I was grateful to get a reasonable rate to stay at this hotel, but that does not seem to be the case everywhere. In New Jersey, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs issued a warning Monday to hotels and other merchants who are engaged in price gouging during a time of emergency in several counties in the state. Chiesa warned that 

New Jersey's price gouging statute, N.J.S.A. 56:8-107, et. seq., makes it illegal to set excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency or for 30 days after the termination of the state of emergency.

"During life-threatening emergencies, New Jerseyans should look out for each other - not seek to take advantage of each other," Attorney General Chiesa said. "We will look closely at any and all complaints about alleged price gouging. Anyone found to have violated the law will face significant penalties."

The Consumerist reports that in Pennsylvania, a hotel in Philadelphia that normally priced rooms at $79 a night suddenly began demanding $189. The hotel attributed the jump to "the busy holiday season" but quickly lowered the price after being visited by a TV news crew.

July 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 02, 2012

NFL Tight End Fred Davis Flashes Courtroom Skills in 'Drink Poured on Head' Dispute

They say that the lawyer who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. That seems to apply even more so to professional football players.

Luke Mullins of Washingtonian magazine has a great scoop about a civil trial involving Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis that has been, until late last week, somehow flying under the radar. The legal mess started 18 months ago, when Davis allegedly dumped a pitcher of juice on the head of Makini R. Chaka at a Washington, D.C., nightclub. Chaka testified that she is a "celebrity broker" who arranges parties for sports stars and other celebs. Davis' bodyguard, however, alleged in court documents that Chaka is engaged in another line of work and that she "often carries her 'pimp-cup' with her," Washingtonian reports. Chaka is demanding damages as a result of Davis' alleged assault, which also left her with an injured lip.

For unknown reasons, both Davis -- who recently signed a one-year, $5.4 million contract with the Redskins -- and Chaka are representing themselves in the case, including at an April hearing at which Davis gave a "closing argument" in which he told the judge the allegations were "just all made up and flagellant."

Trial in the case will not begin until March 2013, but the craziness to come seems to have been foreshadowed a bit by some of the proceedings to date between Chaka and Davis. Take this exchange between what Washingtonian called the "two armchair attorneys" related to a photograph of Chaka and two men:

Davis: "As it shows, you also have your hand on his genitals. I mean why would you take a picture like that?"

Chaka: "I do not. Let's look closely at the exhibit right here, Judge. Where is my hand placed in this exhibit?"

Judge: "I do not answer questions. ... The witness does."

Chaka: "Can you tell me where my hand is actually at in this photo?"

Davis: "It looks like it's in the genitals to me. I mean your hands are on his genitals. Your hand is on his -- "

Chaka: "Objection."

 Or this one concerning the "pimp cup":

Chaka: Let's look at these photos right here. Because I went to college. I go back to my homecoming every year. Why? Because a building on the campus named after a family of my family.

Davis: So, they use a pimp cup, that's all.

Chaka: Mr. Davis, I'm drinking out of a decorated accessory as many celebrities do.

Davis: Many celebrities as who, Magic Don Juan that's a pimp?

Chaka: As Paris Hilton, as Snoop Dog, as Little John -- I work with celebrities. Don’t you think it could have been a gift from one of them?

And don't sleep on this one, which addreses the issue of whether Chaka had been to Davis' house:

Chaka: Mr. Davis, you said that you did not know me on a friendship level. Is it true that I have, that I have or have not been to your home?

Davis: You've never been to my house. You’ve dropped someone off, a teammate to my house but that was it.


Chaka: So we never hung out at your house and stayed the night over there ... and watched episodes of Martin before.

Davis: You’ve never, ever stayed at my house. You’ve been at Devin's house, [former Redskins wide receiver] Devin Thomas's, that's another teammate of mine. You're naming things that we’ve done over his house. He has a studio in his house. He has all those things that you're talking about. I mean, as far as you coming to my house, you dropped someone off.

Surely this legal sparring is just a warm-up for the March 2013 trial in D.C. Superior Court, which should be legendary. As Legal Blog Watch's senior legal correspondent, I may even neeed to attend this one in person.

July 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

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