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October 31, 2012

Citing 'Jersey Shore,' Court Throws Out Race Discrimination Case Against 'The Bachelor'

As I've previously discussed here on LBW (and here), a class action race discrimination lawsuit was filed this year complaining that neither the television show "The Bachelor" nor its sidekick show, "The Bachelorette," has ever "featured a single person of color" as the lead Bachelor or Bachelorette. The defendants in the case included, among others, ABC, the show's production companies and the show's executive producer.

Alas, earlier this month, the case "did not receive a rose" as they might say on the show, and was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger. In her opinion, Trauger noted that the issue of whether the First Amendment protected casting decisions appeared to be a matter of first impression. She found, however, that the casting decisions in question were "part and parcel of the creative process behind a television program -- including the Shows at issue here -- thereby meriting First Amendment protection against the application of anti-discrimination statutes to that process."

Trauger referred to the defendants' "convincing" argument that if the First Amendment was interpreted otherwise, any network targeting particular demographic groups such as the Lifetime Network (females), the Black Entertainment Channel (African-Americans), Telemundo (Latinos), and others would be called into question. Similarly, she stated,

the content of any television show that does not have a sufficiently diverse cast would be or would have been subject to court scrutiny, such as The Jersey Shore (all white cast members), The Shahs of Beverly Hills (a show about Persian-Americans living in Los Angeles), The Cosby Show (a show with an African-American cast), and The Steve Harvey Show (a show with an African-American lead actor and supporting cast).

October 31, 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: The Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012, which means the world is coming to an end on that day. Do I still need to pay my traffic tickets? That seems kind of pointless under the circumstances, doesn't it?

Answer: Maybe not in Russia, but you'll need to pay them in the U.S. just in case the world does not end. (UPI, Doomsday near, man won't pay traffic fine)

2. Question: Good grief, this stupid prison dental floss breaks every time I use it. Does the government purchase some kind of terrible off-brand floss for prisons or something? 

Answer: No, it is weak by design to prevent prisoners from using dental floss as a weapon or to cut their way out of their cells. (ABA JournalAfter Inmates Sue for Dental Floss, Jailers Explain the Security Risk)

3. Question: I am having trouble getting betting lines on this weekend's pee wee football games between teams of 8-year-olds. Where did all my bookmakers go? 

Answer: They all just got arrested, sorry. (CBS News, 9 charged in Fla. youth football gambling ring)

October 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 26, 2012

More 'Suggested Mottos for Other Law Blogs'

At his Noncuratlex blog (via PrawfsBlawg), Kyle Graham has undertaken an interesting project: to propose new mottos for other law blogs that he likes. Graham serves up several suggestions, including:

  • PrawfsBlawg: "Please Don’t Judge Us by Our Website's Hideously Ugly Color Scheme"
  • TaxProf Blog: "Surprisingly Interesting, at Least as Compared to Tax Law"
  • Above The Law: "Get to Know Our Commenters Before You Meet Them in Hell"
  • How Appealing: "Legal News for People with Short Attention Spans"

These are all good, but why stop there? Allow me to throw out a few other suggested new law blog mottos:

  • Simple Justice: "Unretired Since March 5, 2012"
  • Popehat: "Where LawSpammers Come to Die and Ponies Rule"
  • Legal Blog Watch: "The Last Blog on the Internet With '' in its URL"

Please weigh in with your own new law blog mottos in the comments below!

October 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 25, 2012

'Change of Appearance' Instruction Upheld in Case of Defendant Wearing Eyeglasses to Court

The cat-and-mouse game between defendants who want to wear eyeglasses so that they look less threatening, and the prosecutors who don't want them to do so, goes on. You may recall that back in March 2012, I noted a trend in D.C. courthouses involving non-prescription "hipster" or "personality" glasses. In short, many criminal defendants and inmates facing hearings have begun wearing the glasses to court, for reasons that are in dispute.

Defense lawyers say that the glasses are simply part of the "professional look." Prosecutors, however, say that the defendants are dishonestly misrepresenting their appearance and that the glasses are "masks" designed to influence the jury. Defendants are "putting on a schoolboy act," one prosecutor complained to The Washington Post.

The Blog of the Legal Times reports that in one recent case in the District of Columbia Superior Court, the court granted the prosecutors' request for a jury instruction that, if the jury found that the defendant had tried to change his appearance with eyeglasses to avoid being identified, the jury could consider it as evidence of his feelings of guilt. The defendant objected to this instruction, and raised it as an issue on appeal.

In an opinion issued earlier this month, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals upheld the "change of appearance" instruction. The court wrote that it could not find that "giving the standard change of appearance instruction was highly prejudicial to Mr. Harris" and added that, "even assuming error, given the compelling evidence presented by the government, the error would be harmless."

So in D.C. courts, at least, defendants wear their Urkel glasses at their own peril.

October 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (7)

October 24, 2012

Wednesday's Three Burning Legal Questions

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

1. Question: The TSA is groping my teenage daughter's crotch as part of a pat-down. Is it within my First Amendment rights to tell them, in some foul language, what I think of this?

Answer: No, stating your opinion here in that type of strong language is called "disorderly conduct." (The Consumerist, Court Says Berating TSA Officers During A Pat-Down Is Disorderly Conduct, Not Free Speech)

2. Question: I robbed a bank and demanded $20,000. The teller put a large amount of cash in a bag for me, which I figured out after I left the bank did not add up to $20,000. Unacceptable! Should I just go back and get the rest of the money I demanded?

Answer: You can, but don't be surprised if the police are there waiting for you. (The Post-StandardShort-changed robber returns to Syracuse bank to demand more money)

3. Question: I am a new officer on the county police's K-9 unit, and I am required to bring my dog home with me. Sweet! Do I need to get insurance for the dog?

Answer: No, the county will cover insurance on the dog. You, on the other hand, may need to start shopping for new homeowners insurance as some insurers will cancel K-9 officers' homeowner coverage due to the additional liability exposure of your police dog. (Omaha World-Herald, Insurer cancels deputy's homeowner policy; police dog at home deemed too risky)

October 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 23, 2012

'Lone Wolfing': Judge Kozinski Disagrees With Everyone

I was interested to see recently on the WSJ Law Blog that Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit, who most recently appeared on LBW when it was revealed that he "does not read block quotes" in appellate briefs, had again thought outside the box in the case of Gorfias-Rodrigues v. Holder

Usually, the menu of options for an appellate judge participating in an opinion is limited: You either write the opinion, concur with it, dissent from it, or concur in part and dissent in part. But not so for Kozinski, who ordered off the menu when he broke out the following as a preface to his opinion in the case: "Chief Judge KOZINSKI, disagreeing with everyone." Nice! 

What does this even mean? How is "disagreeing with everyone" different from writing your own dissent? I really don't know, but then again neither do appellate experts such as Howard Bashman, who writes, "Just when you thought that every possible type of appellate opinion had already been created, Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski goes and invents one more.”

So what should an opinion "disagreeing with everyone" be called? A "DWE"? I think the best name for it would be "Lone Wolfing," i.e., "Chief Judge KOZINSKI, Lone Wolfing."

October 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 22, 2012

Halloween Law and Safety Report: What to Wear, and Not to Wear


With Halloween fast approaching (which I know to be the case based on the official notice above that I found on an easel in my house this morning), I thought you might want some guidance on which costumes you may and may not wear this year.

1. Slutty Big Bird costume: MAY NOT WEAR -- First of all, what is wrong with you, tarnishing the legacy of Big Bird by sexing him (her?) up like this? Second of all, Sesame Street Workshop is very unhappy with these costumes, and stated recently that "our legal team has sent a cease and desist letter to the website selling them, will monitor the site, and follow up accordingly to make sure the items in question are removed."

As Buzzfeed explains, "Sesame Street would never approve of a sexy lingerie version of its characters, just as you won't see an official licensed shirt of a Oscar the Grouch holding a gun."


2. Sexy "Four Loko" Beverage costume: MAY WEAR -- Although this alcoholic beverage was banned because it also contained caffeine, that does not mean you cannot wear Four Loko to the Halloween party. Indeed, as Consumerists notes, there are four sexy Four Loko flavor costumes available for you and your three BFFs to rock the party in this year.

3. A "black costume and a black hat with a white tassel": MAY WEAR, but highly discouraged if you live within rifle-shooting distance of a relative who may confuse you for a skunk

October 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday's Three Burning Legal Questions

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

1. Question: My boyfriend's 6-year-old son has challenged me to a "bite contest" to see who can bite the other the hardest. There's no way a 6-year-old can beat me in a bite contest. Game on, right?

Answer: No. That could get you charged with "child abuse without great harm." (NBCMiami, Florida woman bit boyfriend's 6-year-old son, police say)

2. Question: I'd like to buy some land, but I only have ten bucks. Is that going to be a problem?

Answer: Not if you're willing to buy land in Pipestone, Manitoba! (The StarWant to buy a plot of land for $10? You can in Manitoba)

3. Question: I'm a defendant in a criminal case. During closing arguments, the prosecutor presented a PowerPoint slide show with my mug shot and the word "guilty" superimposed in red letters three times across my face. I was convicted by the jury. Is this a legitimate tactic? 

Answer: That is not a legit tactic, and your conviction will likely be reversed. (How Appealing, Wash. convictions reversed over PowerPoint show)

October 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 19, 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'm an assistant manager at a Family Dollar Store, and I have a great idea for a prank on my annoying co-worker. I'll just put a bunch of laxative tablets into a couple of bottles of Coke, then glue the caps back on and put them in the employee refrigerator for him to find. He's always stealing food from there. Classic, right?

Answer: You'd better make sure that he doesn't get wise to your plan and put those Cokes back on the shelf. The customer who buys them certainly won't be amused, and offering her a $200 gift card for her trouble probably won't cut it. (The Kansas City Star, Lawsuit: Employee rift led to KC store selling laxative-tainted Coke)

2. Question: I, for one, am not at all tired of this "binders full of women" meme! Do you have any advice about how to create a binder full of women lawyers?

Answer: Sure! Head on over to Cravath's website, which has a handy "Add to Binder" button on its attorney profile pages. (Above The Law, A Biglaw Binder Full of Women?)

3. Question: An undercover cop testified against my friend, and I want revenge. How should I get back at this guy?

Answer: Well, you probably shouldn't latch onto a picture of him from Facebook, post it on your own Facebook page and identify him as an undercover cop. That could get you charged with retaliation. And some advice for undercover cops: Check those privacy settings. (The Dallas Morning News, Mesquite woman arrested after posting undercover cop's photo on Facebook)

October 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 17, 2012

Wednesday's Three Burning Legal Questions

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

Question: I'm Batman. Well, I'm not really Batman, but I do dress up in a Batman costume and patrol my community every Friday and Saturday night, armed with a baton, chemical spray and sand-filled gloves -- and accompanied by my trusty partner Batgirl, of course. But not only are the police not appreciative of my caped crusading, they keep arresting me! Hey, I'm doing a public service here! I'm not really in serious trouble over this, am I?

Answer: Well, last time you were just banned from wearing costumes, but this time you're facing felony charges of resisting and obstructing police in an investigation. Good luck at your arraignment -- and maybe leave the cape at home. (Petoskey News, Petoskey Batman: It's not up to the government to save us)

Question: All those saggy, baggy pants are bad enough, but now the young people in my town are actually wearing pajamas out in public. Pajamas! Don't they know we're living in a society! Is there anything to be done about this abomination?

Answer: If you live in Caddo Parish, La., you may be in luck, as District 3 Commissioner Michael Williams has introduced a resolution encouraging businesses to incorporate a pajama ban in their dress codes. Don't worry, he's going after the sagging pants as well. And better sooner than later since, as Williams predicts, the next generation "is going to be in Victoria's Secret, and the next generation is going to be nude." (Shreveport Times, Caddo advances pajama, saggy pants legislation)

Question: I am a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Surely I don't have to worry about silly little things like parking tickets, right?

Answer: Sorry Justice Scalia, no one is above the reach of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (even if your dashboard is sporting an official police business placard). You can always appeal! (Constitution Daily, Supreme Court justice’s car ticketed by Philly’s Parking Authority)

October 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4)

October 16, 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'm about to take the Louisiana bar exam, and let's just say I don't have a good feeling about it. Is there anything I can do to protect myself from the ridicule of my peers if I don't pass?

Answer: Absolutely! Louisiana allows bar applicants to choose fictitious names before taking the exam, to preserve their anonymity in case they end up on the fail list. And if your (fake) name does end up on that list (pdf), take comfort in the fact that you're in the company of such aspiring lawyers as "Rongly Accused," "Clark Kent" and "Atticus Finch." (Above The Law, Recent Bar Exam Results: Open Thread).

2. Question: I'm at the Anchorage airport, catching a flight home to Colorado. I just pointed out that the ticket agent put my baggage sticker on my friend's bag, and the agent said it didn't matter because the bags were going to the same place. I think I'll liven things up by joking that my friend's bag has a bomb in it. Hilarious, right?

Answer: Probably not so funny to the hundreds of travelers who will have to stand outside in below-freezing temperatures while the entire terminal is evacuated. And don't count on leaving Alaska any time soon, as you may get arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Plus, the airport manager might tell the press that you "did something that in this day and age a teenager would know better than to do." Embarrassing! (The Associated Press, Airline passenger charged with disorderly conduct).

3. Question: I work at a pharmacy. A customer came in to return a certain product, saying his mother no longer needs it. The packaging looks kind of funny, like the bottom of the box might have been glued back together. Should I just put it back on the shelf?

Answer: Wait, does that product happen to be a box of enemas? Definitely check to see if any of the enemas in that box have been used before you try to re-sell them. If they have, the customer could face federal charges of product tampering. And if you re-sell them, you'll get the job of notifying the unsuspecting customers who bought the used goods. (Jonathan Turley, Florida Man Arrested For Returning Used Enemas For Refunds).

October 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 10, 2012

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'd like to join my middle school's scrapbook club. Do I just go sign up? 

Answer: Not so fast. First you will need to submit a urine sample and pass a drug test. (ReasonMiddle Schooler Forced to Take Drug Test to Join Scrapbooking Club)

2) Question: I won a roach-eating contest. Hurray! What is my prize?

Answer: You may have won an $850 python, if you survive. (CNN, Florida man dies after winning roach-eating contest)

3) Question: The Fourth of July is just nine months away! Every year we stake out our place in the Canonsburg, Penn., parade route by placing some chairs on the route a couple weeks early and tying them to trees or telephone poles. But everyone is catching on to that tactic now, so should we just tie up a few chairs now and beat the June rush?

Answer: No, the Canonsburg city council is also on to your tactics and is taking a stand against early-bird place-savers. The council recently passed a regulation that chairs may only be set out beginning 48 hours prior to the parade date. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Canonsburg chairs can hold spots 2 days before parade)

October 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4)

October 09, 2012

If You Build a Fifth Law School in Indiana, Will They Come?

You might think that with the legal economy still firmly stuck in a miserable state, the last thing one would want to build right now is a new law school. That will be unaccredited when it opens its doors. In Indiana, where there are already four law schools.

But the folks at Indiana Tech Law School think you are all wrong. Here they are breaking ground on their new law school, which is set to open in the fall of 2013 in Fort Wayne, Ind.


No, seriously! You can watch the building's progress right here on the Law School construction cam! According to an August 2012 press release, ITLS recently hired its first four faculty members, who join Peter C. Alexander, dean of the new law school.

A post on this weekend asking if anyone knew anything about ITLS kicked off what has become a hearty discussion about the merits of, and the need for, this new school. Alexander himself joined the discussion, and stated, among other things:

  • the school's "Charter Class" in Fall 2013 would include only 100 students
  • ILTS intends to be a "new and different kind of law school, one that intentionally blends theory and practice and one that focuses on ethics from the very start of school"
  • Tuition will be $29,500 per year, with academic scholarships available
  • the school may not apply for ABA accreditation until it has been open for one year with students

Alexander also told Business Insider that he didn't foresee any problems with getting ABA accreditation (although receiving accreditation is not always a "gimme," as Lincoln Memorial School of Law learned last year).

In a post Monday on Inside the Law School Scam, law professor Paul F. Campos came down hard against ITLS. Campos wrote that 

Indiana, which contains 2% of the US population, already has four ABA-accredited law schools, including two "top 30" institutions, both of which feature legal unemployment rates for their grads of around 40%, and which are currently placing only 20% to 25% of their graduates in firms of more than ten attorneys.

Chutzpah has been defined as murdering your parents and then pleading for mercy because you're an orphan. How about setting up another legal diploma mill in a hyper-saturated market, while claiming that what will set your school apart is its emphasis on "ethics" and "professionalism?"

The comments to Campos' post were, predictably, just as hostile to the idea of building a new law school. As one commenter stated,

In Indiana Tech, we truly have a marvel: a place conceived and built after the scam became well known and opened long after the downturn in applications. It's like building an investment bank in 2010 or a milk man service in 1980 or a CD megastore in 2005.

October 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4)

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 am required to submit urine samples for drug-testing as a requirement of my job. Just curious, but do the testers have the ability to detect it if I happen to submit drug-free but non-human urine?

Answer: Yes, they do have that ability. Stick with human urine. (SportsGuru, NFL Adds Three Games to Broncos LB D.J. Williams Suspension; Supplied Non-Human Urine for Test)

2) Question: I am a lawyer. Is it a problem if I accept my fees in cocaine?

Answer: Yes, it will be a problem on several levels. (Legal Profession Blog, Former Prosecutor Accepted Fees In Cocaine)

3) Question: I am honorary consul to a Eurpoean country. I've had a bit too much to drink but I really need to drive home. Can I play the "diplomatic immunity" card if I get pulled over?

Answer: No, because "driving [your] vehicle intoxicated would never fall within [your] official duties." (Naples Daily NewsDiplomat charged with DUI after crashing into tree, claims immunity) (via Legal Juice)

October 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

October 08, 2012

Florida: Alligators in Pools at 'Gator Parties' Must Now Be Kept on Leashes

Back in my day (late September 2012), we used to be able to host children's pool parties where we would hire a company to place a live alligator in the pool, with the alligator's mouth taped closed, to swim around with the kids. As long as the alligator provider had a permit to exhibit the alligator, you were all set for hours of fun.

Ahh, but those were simpler times. Nowadays (two weeks later), investigators at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have deemed "gator parties" to be "unsafe for kids and parents," and ruled that alligators may no longer swim freely in residential swimming pools. The commission issued a requirement that for any future such parties, the alligators must be kept on leashes. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the new alligator-leash rule came after "gator parties" received a significant amount of press last week, which led to at least 10 complaints filed with the wildlife commission.

After reviewing the gator party concept, the commission concluded that it was important to keep captive wildlife such as alligators "under rigid supervision and control" as they "pose[] a serious public safety risk and could result in scratching of persons, loosening of tape around its mouth, or unrestrained thrashing of its tail." Bob Barrett, the owner of Alligator Attraction, which providers gators for parties, said the company's handlers already take the necessary precautions but will do whatever the commission requires.

October 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4)

October 05, 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 work at city hall. We just found a 4-foot long aluminum rod in the building with the word "Kaboom" written on it. Should we evacuate the building and call in the police dogs to search for explosives?

Answer: Perhaps, but remember that the rod could also be the walking stick for a man whose legal name is actually "Kaboom." (CBS Cleveland, Akron City Hall Evacuated After Man Named ‘Kaboom’ Leaves Walking Stick)

2) Question: I am a policeman. We are at the scene of an accident but a man in a Batman suit has also arrived at the scene and he refuses to leave and is confusing our police dogs. What am I supposed to do here? I mean, it's Batman!

Answer: Confiscate his Batsuit and charge him with obstructing police. (msnNOW, Batman arrested in Michigan by police officers with no sense of fun)

3) Question: My friend told me and everyone else she knows that she had Stage IV cancer. We raised tens of thousands of dollars for her by holding several benefits, and even organized meal calendars where we all took turns bringing her dinners. Now she is saying that she is feeling better and believes a miracle is coming. That happens sometimes, right?

Answer: Perhaps. But it could also be the crime of "theft by deception." (Gloucester County TimesDelran woman accused of faking cancer to gain tens of thousands in charity)

October 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 04, 2012

Trust Me, I'm an Expert: Marijuana Odor Experts

As I have begun to chronicle in this ongoing "Trust Me, I'm an Expert" series of posts, courts have not hesitated to deem people experts in fields such as "smell" and "lap dancing" and whether a grown woman can be smothered to death by a Labrador Retriever On the other hand, courts have refused to accept proposed experts in the field of "shit," and "pimping." Now, I've learned that there is an accepted sub-specialty in the "smell expert" field that focuses on the odor of marijuana.

As noted today by Scott Greenfield on his Twitter feed, a recent marijuana case in federal court in Illinois turned on the testimony of Richard L. Doty, Ph.D., who was permitted to testify as a marijuana odor expert. Police claimed that they smelled a strong odor of marijuana inside the defendant's car, and a subsequent search of the vehicle turned up 10 grams of pot inside a mason jar.

The court ultimately threw out the evidence of the marijuana, however, after Doty testified that the odor of marijuana sealed in a mason jar would not have been strong enough for an officer to smell it, as claimed. According to Wikipedia, Doty is "a researcher in the field of olfactory functioning and dysfunction (anosmia)" and the director of the University of Pennsylvania's Smell and Taste Center in Philadelphia. 

October 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 03, 2012

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 was recently hired by a facility that performs drug testing on patients and I have been instructed to always check each male's underpants "to ensure there is only one penis." I am unclear on the concept -- what does this even mean?

Answer: Sometimes drug abusers will use false penises to help them submit fake urine samples. Good luck with your sleuthing. (The Local'I check their underpants to ensure there is only one penis')

2) Question: I have an appeal that will likely be heard by Judge Alex Kozinski on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. We have some bad facts in our case. How can I best downplay this information?

Answer: Just put your bad facts in block quotes in your appellate brief. Judge Kozinski does not read block quotes. (Lawyerist, Use Blockquotes When You Have a Point You Don’t Want to Make)

3) Question: Yes, I crashed my vehicle, but there was an elephant in the middle of the road. What am I supposed to do, run straight into an elephant? 

Answer: No, but just bear in mind that your credibility about the elephant is diminished when you admit to smoking marijuana that was dipped in PCP prior to driving (and avoiding the elephant, and crashing). (MyFoxPhilly, Del. Man Claims He Saw Elephant On Road, Faces 7th DUI Charge)

October 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 02, 2012

The Weather Channel Anoints Itself as Official Winter Storm-Namer

Tropical storms and hurricanes have names (Hurricane Katrina, Tropical Storm Isaac, etc.), so why not blizzards? That's what The Weather Channel is saying this week, as it rolls out its plan to start naming winter storms during the upcoming 2012-2013 winter season.

According to The Weather Channel, which has anointed itself as the official winter storm-namer, there are plenty of good reasons to name major winter storms. These include increased awareness, ease of reference in social media communication such as Twitter hashtags, and a way to better remember and refer to the winter storm in the future. In the absence of any such names, for example, Washington, D.C.-area residents are stuck referring to the massive snowfall of 2010 as Snowmageddon, or Snowpocalypse, or other such nonsense.

Here is the list of storm names TWC has come up with for 2012-2013:


I think they all seem suitably menacing-sounding, except for Yogi. I am going to be quite bitter if I get snowed in and my power knocked out by a storm named Yogi.

Notably, a website called TheWeatherSpace is already calling out TWC for claiming the idea of naming winter storms as its own. TWS says that its Southern California Weather Authority has been naming winter storms for over a decade -- and already has the 2012-2013 names picked out, thank you very much.

October 2, 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: I received a $2,212 bill for lawn resodding from my stupid homeowner association. There is no way I am paying that. How much will it cost me to fight this in court? 

Answer: Probably around $220,000. (ABA Journal, Homeowners Who Spent $220K in Legal Fees to Fight $2K HOA Lawn Bill Win Court Case After 11 Years)

2) Question: I raced out of work early to watch my 12-year-old son play in his rugby match. Why am I being turned away at the field by Isambard Community School officials? 

Answer: Sorry, but Isambard Community School has now banned parents from watching their children take part in sports events unless they pass a criminal records background check. (The TelegraphSchool bans parents watching sports day without criminal record check)

3) Question: Oh man, I am being pulled over for drunk driving. Can I maybe get out of this by spraying cologne into my mouth to mask the scent?

Answer: Doubtful. (The Boston GlobeSuspected drunk driver in Boston sprays cologne in his mouth after hitting dump truck, police say)

October 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 01, 2012

Things That Exist, Vol. 7: Secondhand Lawyer Suits and Ties

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: Secondhand lawyer suits and ties

On the Lawyerist blog today, Leo Mulvihill Jr., writes that after meeting a fellow lawyer who confessed to only having three suits in his wardrobe, Mulvihill informed this lawyer that Mulvihill had "14 in my wardrobe right now. But that's just my summer rotation. I've been too busy here at the office to switch out to fall rotation." The other lawyer was stunned to hear about this abundance of suits, and Mulvihill filled him in on his secret for acquiring such a wardrobe without a "trust fund or offshore accounts": the secondhand suit market.

According to Mulvihill, everything from Brooks Brothers to Boss can be picked up secondhand for pennies on the dollar if you know where to look:

Who cares whether someone else bought them first? Kind of like a used car, clothing loses a substantial amount of its initial value as soon as it’s off the lot -- so you can save a lot when you buy used. But whether you use eBay & Etsy, troll thrift stores, or frequent higher-end consignment stores, you can often pick up some top-quality garments for a fraction of the original price.

Secondhand buyers need to be smart though, he says, and steer clear of damaged fabric, ill-fitting bargains, all things polyester, and anything dated or worn out.

I'm not sure how I failed for decades to pick up on the fact that lawyers all around me might be wearing secondhand suits to court, meetings, etc. Honestly, I blame all of you for failing to tell me.

October 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (5)

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