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April 30, 2012

Finally! Georgetown Law Rolls Out the 'Law Firm Pronunciation Guide'

You know how you keep interviewing for jobs but not getting them because you mispronounce the name of the law firm? Remember, for example, when you interviewed at the New York office of Gide Loyrette Nouel?

You (earnestly and sincerely): "Sir, it has always been a dream of mine to work at 'Guide Loirette Nool."

Interviewer: "Well, young man, I'm sorry but you just took strike one, strike two and strike three in the first 10 seconds of this interview. Our firm name is pronounced 'Jeed, Laurette Newell.'"

You: "Sorry."

Interviewer: "Good day, sir!!"

Damn, that sucked! And remember when you were bounced out of interviews with (1) Akerman Senterfitt, (2) Dechert, and (3) Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear all in the same week for similar mispronounciations? How were you supposed to know Knobbe is pronounced "Kenobi," as in Obi-Wan? How? How??!

Well, those sad and confusing days are now over for you, because Georgetown Law's Office of Career Services has rolled out its new Law Firm Pronunciation Guide that takes the guesswork out of pronouncing law firm names such as "Sughrue Mion PLLC." If you recall, when you tried to say "Sughrue Mion" in your interview it came out sounding like "screw me" and that's exactly what happened to your candidacy. If you'd only had the Law Firm Pronunciation Guide available to you, you would have known the firm's name is supposed to be pronounced exactly like this: (click here).

April 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday'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 large African-American man. My boss keeps taunting me by humming the "Fat Albert" theme song and saying stuff like, "Hey, hey, hey! It's Fat Albert!" I'm about to own this whole company, aren't I, after I file my federal lawsuit?

Answer: Possibly, although there are some people who have been called the "pre-op Al Roker" all their lives who you won't want on your jury. (New York Post, Obese lawyer sues supervisor and AIG for 'Fat Albert' insults)

2) Question: 
I just won the crown of Miss Dominican Republic. W00t!! Can my husband come on stage and celebrate with me? 

Answer: No, no, no, you are going to need to keep the whole "having a husband" thing on the down-low if you want to keep your crown. Miss D.R. is for single ladies only! (TMZ, Miss Dominican Republic Dethroned Over Secret Marriage)

3) Question: I just found out that my county government is going to be honoring nine "notable" trees and their caretakers at today's board meeting. Can I have my tax dollars back, please? 

Answer: No, Grinch, the tree-honoring will go forth, and there will be no tax refund for you. You need to get on board with the notable tree concept. (Arlington, Virginia Press Release, Arlington County Honors Nine 2012 Notable Trees)

April 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 27, 2012

Court Imposes Stringent Measures to Prevent Defendant From Stabbing His Fourth Lawyer With a Pencil

Back in November I learned about the alarming case about one Josh Monson via a post on Lowering the Bar that was aptly titled, "Man Who Stabbed His First Two Lawyers With a Pencil Stabs Another Lawyer With a Pencil." The LTB headline, which made me laugh when I read it in November and made me laugh again just now, pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the situation at that time. In case you crave more details, Monson is a defendant in one trial involving drug charges and another trial charging second-degree murder, and in the course of those trials he has stabbed three different lawyers with writing utensils.

As the pencil stab count has now reached three, the judge in the murder case understandably rolled out enhanced security measures for Monson's trial, which got under way Thursday. Happily, these measures appear to have succeeded -- so far. As The Herald confirmed today, "no lawyers were injured on Thursday as a murder trial got under way for an Everett man accused of stabbing three of his previous attorneys.

According to The Herald, here are the ways that the court is now trying to protect Monson's latest attorney from being stabbed with a pencil in the coming days and weeks:

  • Monson is seated at a separate table, away from his attorney;
  • Monson has one hand restrained;
  • Monson is strapped to his chair and has restraints under his clothing; and
  • Monson is wearing "an electric stun cuff that corrections officers can activate if he gets out of line."

I think I speak for all of us in the blawgosphere when I say that nobody wants to see a headline any time soon reading, "Man Who Stabbed His First Three Lawyers With a Pencil Stabs Another Lawyer With a Pencil." To everyone in that courtroom, I say please keep your head on a swivel!

April 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 26, 2012

In Maryland, Pit Bulls No Longer Get 'One Free Bite'

One of the tort law maxims that I recall from law school is the "one free bite" rule for dogs (and their owners). Under the "one free bite" rule, if your dog bites and injures another person and has never done anything like that before, you are not liable for those injuries because the law assumes that you had no knowledge that your dog was dangerous. As the Dog Bite Law website puts it:

The rationale of the one bite rule was that domestic animals by definition were not injurious, and therefore liability could be predicated only on the defendant's knowledge that a particular animal had a propensity to behave in manner that was injurious to humans. Again, the rule applied to any type of injury, whether or not a bite.

This week in Maryland, however, the state's highest court found that the "one free bite" rule will no longer be applied with respect to one, specific breed of dog: the pit bull. In short, the Court of Appeal of Maryland determined that pit bulls are "inherently dangerous," thus eliminating the need for an injured plaintiff to show that the owner had actual knowledge that the specific pit bull involved was dangerous. The court specifically stated that it was "modifying the Maryland common law of liability as it relates to attacks by pit bull and cross-bred pit bull dogs against humans."

Three judges dissented from the majority's holding, arguing that 

Taking into consideration the lack of evidence in the record of this case with regard to the landlord’s knowledge of the vicious propensities of the dog, the conflicting studies about how best to control the dog bite "epidemic" mentioned herein, and the problems inherent in defining what constitutes a "mixed-breed" pit bull, the matter of creating a new standard of liability is fraught with problems and is beyond the sphere of resolution by any appellate court.

April 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (39)

Thursday's Three Burning Legal Questions

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

1) Question: A blizzard hit and I was forced to wait on the tarmac for my flight to take off for seven hours without food, water or appropriate sanitary facilities. Can I recover damages for this?

Answer: No, but as a consolation, the law can give you "sympathy." (New York Law JournalPassenger's Suit Over Long Tarmac Wait Is Rejected)

2) Question: Our good-for-nothing neighbor here in the U.K. has harassed us for 10 years by making hundreds of silent telephone calls to our house, ordering hundreds of unwanted taxis to arrive at our address, and even ordering two tons of coal to be delivered to our door. Is there anything I can do to stop this? 

Answer: You can try to get an order banning his "anti-social behaviour" and, if he breaches it, have him arrested and jailed. (Daily MailNeighbour from hell spent ten years ordering hundreds of taxis and takeaways and TWO TONS of coal to victim's home) (via Jonathan Turley)

3) Question: I work at Dunkin' Donuts. A man from our corporate headquarters just arrived to do an audit of our store, which included taking a wad of cash from the cash register and running out the door. That's part of the standard Dunkin' Donuts audit, right?

Answer: Wrong. (UPI, Fake Dunkin' Donuts auditor arrested)

April 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 25, 2012

After a Century, Politicians Look at Allowing Skyscrapers in Washington, D.C.

If you grow up in the Washington, D.C., area, one of the things you eventually learn is that the reason there are no skyscrapers in the city is because under some old law, no building can be taller than the dome of the Capitol. Everyone knows this. I have known it for my four-plus decades living on the East Coast. Except I learned today that this bit of D.C. history has not been true for over a century.

It is true that the 1899 Height of Buildings Act mandated that no building could be taller than the Capitol (289 feet). As discussed in this article, why, then, is D.C. not full of 28-story buildings? The answer is that in 1910, the act was amended to further limit building heights to no more than 13 stories (or 16 stories in some areas on Pennsylvania Ave.), and this limitation remains in effect today.

The Washington Post reports that after 102 years under this 130-foot limit, there is now growing momentum to relax building height limits in D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton have begun discussions on ways Congress could amend height limits to allow minor modifications in some parts of town, with more significant changes in building heights further away from the downtown area. Architects say that even small changes to the law could make the city's buildings "sleeker, raise ceiling heights and provide more opportunity for green space." Issa adds that possible dramatic changes away from downtown could help remake parts of the city and help absorb new residents and businesses.

In an article last week on Slate, Matthew Yglesias argued that the current height limits in D.C. are "bad for the nation's capital and terrible for America." Yglesias says that the height limits lead to unduly expensive hotels in D.C., hurting tourism; sky-high office rents and home prices; and fewer jobs in the city. Looking at the city of Richmond, Va., which is just two hours south of D.C., Yglesias adds that Richmond has 21 buildings over 200 feet, "the tallest of which is almost 450 feet. Richmond is the capital of a medium-sized state. D.C. is the capital of the mightiest empire in human history. In no universe should Richmond have more tall buildings than the District of Columbia."


April 25, 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 live in a "concealed carry" state for guns, and I am all for it. The only problem is that my gun doesn't really fit in my pants or go well with any of my outfits. Any ideas? 

Answer: Yes, check out the Woolrich Elite Concealed Carry line of chinos and shirts, which are designed with special pockets for the "fashion-aware gun owner." (The New York TimesNew Fashion Wrinkle: Stylishly Hiding the Gun)

2) Question: I am interested in becoming an expert in forensics, but I am very busy with my day job and I'm afraid I do not have the time or money to get trained and certified. What does it take to become a Certified Forensic Consultant in this field?

Answer: About 90 minutes total and $495. Plus another $50 if you want a white lab coat. (Simple Justice, A Fab Career as a Forensics Expert!!!)

3) Question: I am in line at the bank getting ready to commit a robbery. Suddenly, however, I am having an emergency medical condition. What should I do? I think I might be dying!

Answer: You haven't done anything yet, so you could ask the teller to call 911 to get a medical team to respond. While you are waiting, however, do not hand the teller your note demanding money. In short, once you call 911 on yourself, you need to abort the initial robbery plan. (WDTN, Bank robber passes out during heist)

April 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 24, 2012

Saturday Night Not-So-Special: Sorry About Shooting You in the Leg

Saturday was a bad day for certain husbands and boyfriends who had misadventures with firearms, and an even worse one for their wives and girlfriends who were accidentally shot in the leg by the men in their lives.

To recap:

1. In a story that for some reason reminds me of "Short Fuse at Anger Management Class Leads to Stabbing," a husband and wife from Virginia who were attending a firearms safety course both ended up in the hospital when things went "awry." The Roanoke Times reports that while the firearms safety instructor was briefly out of the room, the husband managed to shoot himself "in the hand with a .45-caliber handgun and the bullet passed through his hand and struck his wife, seated nearby, in the leg." The husband called the shooting a "stupid accident."

2. Later on Saturday, a man and his girlfriend were camping out and hog hunting in Florida. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that the boyfriend saw a hog and fired at it, but couldn't find the animal. He left the tent to search for the hog, and heard a noise in the woods. Thinking it was the hog, he again fired at the animal, which turned out to be his girlfriend who had left the tent. The girlfriend "was struck with a .30 caliber bullet that traveled through both of her legs."

April 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 23, 2012

IP Lawyers Meet Tupac's Hologram

At the recent Coachella festival, fans of the late Tupac Shakur fans received an amazing treat when his hologram performed live on stage with Snoop Dogg. According to MTV, a company called AV Concepts worked with rapper and producer Dr. Dre and used Hollywood special effects to bring Dr. Dre's vision of a virtual Tupac performance to life. Discussing the performance, the president of AV Concepts said his company has the ability to virtually recreate deceased people in its studio. "You can take their likenesses and voice and ... take people that haven't done concerts before or perform music they haven't sung and digitally recreate it," he said.

The splash caused by Tupac's hologram quickly brought speculation and brainstorming about the creative possibilities that might lie ahead, including a tour by Tupac's hologram. Other interesting ideas I have heard in the past week include getting the Wailers together with a hologram of Bob Marley; a Michael Jackson hologram tour; a Nirvana reunion with Kurt Cobain's hologram; having the hologram of the late Sean Taylor (formerly of the Redskins) run out of the tunnel onto FedEx field; and so on. The impact of Tupac's hologram is also being felt in the world of intellectual property law, where lawyers who might not have been able to spell "Tupac" two weeks ago are now wrestling with the novel and complex issues that are being teed up by the concept of hologram performances.

One IP issue that has been discussed recently is ownership and usage of a dead person's image. As Ryan Calo, the director for privacy and robotics at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, observed here, "if the fear of dying weren't bad enough, suddenly you lose control over aspects of your legacy." While such usage may be forbidden in cases of commercial exploitation, other cases are far more challenging, such as using a hologram of Martin Luther King to utter words he never said while he was alive.

In this post, IP Brief lays out many of the key IP issues that are raised by hologram performances. They include:

  • copyright licenses for songs performed in new holographic performances;
  • ownership of the holographic performance itself, i.e., "who would own the rights to a public performance of a hologram Tupac rapping an entirely new song?"; and
  • right of publicity protection against people using holographic images of celebrities without permission.

As IP Brief concludes, "it just might be a brave new world for the music industry and for intellectual property laws."

April 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday's Three Burning Legal Questions

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

1) Question: We are about to pick the name for our company's new beer.  I see that our state has previously approved the names "Fat Bastard" for wine and "Raging Bitch" for beer, so we should be safe going with "Dirty Bastard" for our beer, right? 

Answer: No way, now you've crossed the line. That is profane. (FOX News, Alabama bans beer over dirty name)

2) Question: My buddies and I got drunk, broke into Sea World, swam with the dolphins and woke up the next morning to find a penguin in our room. We want to return the penguin but what charges might we face if we 'fess up?

Answer: You will likely be facing charges of trespassing and "stealing a protected animal." (Daily MailFriends 'broke into zoo, stripped to their underwear to swim with dolphins before stealing a penguin' on drunken night out)

3) Question: My wife says she is going to have me arrested for hurting her eye. I say that you cannot be arrested for throwing a box of Cheez-Its at someone. Who is right?

Answer: She is right. Hurled Cheez-It boxes can form the basis of a charge of assault. (Click Orlando, Police: Man attacked wife with Cheez-It snacks over Earth Day concert)

April 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 20, 2012

Things You Can't Do on a Plane: Vol. 17

You might think that after Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3Volume 4Volume 5Volume 6Volume 7Volume 8, Volume 9Volume 10Volume 11Volume 12Volume 13Volume 14Volume 15 and Volume 16 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:

  • (For pilots): Become distracted with your mobile phone and forget to lower the wheels for landing. Captains of planes cannot get so preoccupied with their mobile phone that they neglect to lower the wheels for landing. CONSEQUENCE: Cockpit alert will (hopefully) sound, notifying the crew to the lack of any wheels down, landing will be aborted and a second landing with wheels will occur.
  • Attack flight crew because your bag does not fit in the overhead bin. Passengers who are upset after being advised by a flight attendant that their carry-on does not fit in the overhead bin and must be checked may not respond by grabbing the attendant's arm and shoulder.  CONSEQUENCE: Flight attendant may place the passenger under a citizen’s arrest until police arrive to formally arrest the passenger on "suspicion of misdemeanor battery."
  • Leave your cellphone charging in the plane bathroom. Passengers may not leave their cellphone charging in the bathroom socket intended for shavers, as doing so may trick other passengers into believing there is a bomb on board. CONSEQUENCEPlane will make an emergency landing and, ultimately, the crew will ask any passenger missing their phone to "come forward."

April 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

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 frustrated at work and gave someone at my workplace a "wet willie." Can I get in any trouble for that? 

Answer: Delonte? Is that you? Yes, depending on your employer you could face as much as a $25,000 fine for that childishness. (CBS/AP, Mavs' Delonte West fined $25K for "wet willie")

2) Question: I was traveling for business and staying in a hotel. I managed to hook up with a friend I knew in town and we had sex in the hotel room. During sex, a glass light fitting fell off of the wall and hit me in the nose and mouth, requiring me to seek hospital treatment. Can I seek worker's compensation for my injuries since the sexual activity came during the course of my employment?

Answer: Of course! (The Daily TelegraphCompo payout for woman injured during sex on work trip) (via Above the Law)

3) Question: Can I bury my late husband in our backyard? All of the local cemeteries are full!

Answer: You should expect to get some significant opposition to any "home burial" from county officials, who will likely argue that it violates zoning regulations. (ABA JournalWidow Argues for Right to Keep Husband Buried in Backyard)

April 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (5)

April 19, 2012

DLA Piper Launches 'All In' Blog Dedicated to International Gambling Law

On its Twitter feed today, law firm DLA Piper announced that its "Gaming" practice has launched a new blog called "All In" that will offer legal and regulatory updates on a seemingly underserved topic: international gambling law.

Looking at the blog's 13 named contributors, All In appears to largely be the work of lawyers in the firm's U.K. offices, with a handful of lawyers from other European countries and the U.S. also involved. Indeed, the first 10 or so posts on All In cover gambling law developments in countries including the U.K., Italy and Germany.

Recent posts on All In discuss topic including:

  • the award of 2,000 new Italian betting shop licenses;
  • the status of proposed guidelines in the U.K. on whether TV game shows such as "Deal or no Deal" are games of chance requiring licenses under the Gambling Act of 2005; and
  • a video by DLA Piper associate Giulio Coraggio analyzing current developments in online gaming in Italy.

Overall, All In looks like a solid effort in the gambling blawg area by DLA Piper, which now produces 12 different blogs.

April 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday's Three Burning Legal Questions

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

1) Question: My fellow 103 residents of F*cking, Austria (rhymes with "ducking") and I want to change the name of our village, for obvious reasons. At least 13 road signs bearing our village's name (costing £250 each) have been stolen, and semi-naked women are constantly posing for photographs beside the signs when they are not stolen. What are our options?

Answer: Good news, it looks like your mayor has already called for a vote on this among all of the F*ckingers for later this week! (The TelegraphAustrian village F---ing to vote on name change)

2) Question: I am working at a police checkpoint. A man just walked up to me holding a wanted poster ("Be on the Lookout") bearing his own face, and demanded the $100 finder’s fee referenced on the poster. I asked if the person on the poster was him, and he said "Yes, yes, that's me! Can I get my award now?" This was not covered in my police training! Do I arrest him? Give him the $100? Both? Neither?

Answer: Yes to arresting him, no to giving him the $100. (The Washington PostTaliban commander turns self in ... for reward on 'Wanted' poster)

3) Question: I am trying to do some bootleg "deer jerky" sales off of an ad on my Facebook page. I have some interested buyers who have called me, but I have my suspicions about them. Police don't do undercover deer jerky stings, do they? 

Answer: Oh yes they do! (WSMV, Ex-TN deputy busted in undercover jerky sting)

April 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 18, 2012

Would Will Rogers Like Even an Aggressive New York Lawyer?

Years ago, American humorist Will Rogers famously stated, "I have never yet met a man that I didn't like." But would Rogers' claim hold up to a confrontation with a threatening big-city lawyer over an aggressive claim of "unfair competition?"

The Letters of Note blog has a post today with an interesting exchange of letters between William Beverly Winslow, a New York lawyer representing Funk & Wagnalls Company, publishers of The Literary Digest; and Rogers, who was involved in a "moving picture" and later a book called "The Illiterate Digest."

Winslow wrote to Rogers in 1920 on behalf of The Literary Digest, a publication nearly thirty years old at the time that Winslow claimed was "probably the most influential weekly publication in the world." Winslow told Rogers that

"The Illiterate Digest" has been repeatedly called to our attention and we are told that the prestige of "The Literary Digest" is being lowered by the subject matter of your film as well as by the title of your film because the public naturally confuse the two subjects. We are also told that exhibitors are being misled by the similarity of titles and that some of them install your subject in the expectation that they are securing "The Literary Digest Topics of the Day."

I have advised the publishers that they may proceed against you through the Federal Trade Commission in Washington calling upon you to there defend yourself against the charge of "unfair competition," because of your simulation of their title, or that they can proceed against you, the producers of your film, its distributors and exhibitors in court for an injunction restraining you from use of the title, "The Illiterate Digest." 

Before, however, instituting any proceedings in either direction they have suggested that I write directly to you to see if your sense of fairness will not cause you to voluntarily withdraw the use of the objectionable title. 

Rogers' reply, which can be read in its entirety at the Letters of Note blog, was pretty much what you would expect from a humorist in such a situation:

Your letter in regard to my competition with the Literary Digest received and I never felt as swelled up in my life, And am glad you wrote directly to me instead of communicating with my Lawyers, As I have not yet reached that stage of prominence where I was commiting unlawful acts and requireing a Lawyer ...

And now I want to inform you truly that this is the first that I knew my Title of the Illiterate Digest was an infringement on yours as they mean the direct opposite, If a magazine was published called Yes and another Bird put one out called No I suppose he would be infringeing. But you are a Lawyer and its your business to change the meaning of words, so I lose before I start ...

Now you inform your Editors at once that their most dangerous rival has withdrawn, and that they can go ahead and resume publication, But you inform Your clients that if they ever take up Rope Throwing or chewing gum that I will consider it a direct infringement of my rights and will protect it with one of the best Kosher Lawyers in Oklahoma ...

Illiterately yours 


Rogers later wrote in the dedication to his 1924 book, "The Illiterate Digest," that he never received a reply and "thought, oh well, there I go and waste a letter on some High Brow Lawyer with no sense of humor. I was sore at myself for writing it." But about 6 months later, he wrote, Winslow came to see him and was "the nicest old Gentleman I had ever met, especially in the law profession. He was the one I had written the letter to, and he had had Photographic Copies made of my letter and had given them around to all his Lawyer friends. So it is to him and his sense of humor, that I dedicate this Volume of deep thought. ..."

So it looks like Rogers claim that he "never yet met a man that I didn't like" stood up even to the challenge of a big-city lawyer.

April 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday's Three Burning Legal Questions

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

1) Question: There is something very odd about this park in the Shorecrest neighborhood of Miami that is creeping me out. About two dozen men are here, camped out for the night. What is this, Occupy Miami?

Answer: No, it sounds like you may have stumbled upon the park recently created in Shorecrest for sex offenders to hang out in. (CBS Miami, Park Created To Keep Sex Offenders Away) (via The Consumerist)

2) Question: What a great deal! I just scored copies of bestsellers like "I am the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Thirty-Five Shades of Grey" at ridiculously low prices on Amazon. Are these bootleg copies or something?  

Answer: No, the books are real. But check your titles to make sure you're getting what you think you are getting. (FortuneAmazon's knock-off problem (35 Shades of Grey, anyone?))

3) Question: I am a police officer. We were called to the scene of an elementary school because a 6-year-old was having a tantrum. The girl resisted when we tried to calm her down, and we charged her with simple assault and damage to property. Our policy states that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back and there is no age discrimination on that rule. Break out the handcuffs for this little girl, right?

Answer: That seems a bit over the top, but you would not be the first police force to handcuff a 6-year-old. (The Associated Press, Police handcuff Ga. kindergartner for tantrum)

April 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 17, 2012

Class Action Lawsuit to Probe Alleged Race Discrimination on 'The Bachelor'

I'll admit it. I've watched "The Bachelor" on television on-and-off through the years. I'm familiar enough with the show to know about the "fantasy suites," and how the women all swear to be on the show "for the right reasons," and how the show's host, Chris Harrison, always tells the women booted off the show to "take a minute and say your goodbyes."

But one thing I never thought about in the numerous times I watched the show over various seasons was that, as alleged in a new class action race discrimination lawsuit set to be filed Wednesday, neither "The Bachelor" nor "The Bachelorette" has ever "featured a single person of color." The defendants in the case will reportedly be ABC; production companies Warner Horizon Television, Next Entertainment, and NZK Productions; and the show's executive producer, Mike Fleiss.

Now I know I've seen some African-American women on "The Bachelor" among the many women vying for the bachelor's attention, so the lawsuit must be referring to the absence of any person of color ever serving as the actual Bachelor or Bachelorette for a season. Hollywood, Esq. reports that the plaintiffs in the case will be football players Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, who are both African-American men. Claybrooks is a linebacker on a minor-league football team. Johnson played wide receiver at Tennessee State and is now preparing to try out for NFL teams.

Hollywood, Esq. notes that last year, executive producer Fleiss commented that the show has tried to "cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would."

April 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (7)

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 watching the 3-D version of "Titanic" here in China. I may not be remembering the original correctly, but didn't they show Kate Winslet's breasts in the original film? 

Answer: Your memory is correct, but China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television decided to censor out the nudity scenes because it says that "considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people's viewing." (MSNBC, Kate Winslet's 'Titanic 3D' breasts censored in China)

2) Question: My buddies and I tried to steal a guy's phone. We cornered him and got him to turn it over, but he kept chasing after us and somehow got one of us to give him his phone back. That proved to be a huge mistake as he then immediately (1) started taking photos of us with his just-returned phone, and (2) called the police and stayed on the line with them as he chased us through town. Who is this crazy man?!

Answer: It sounds like you may have had the extreme misfortune of trying to steal a phone from attorney David Newdorf. (Legal Pad, Badass Lawyer of the week: David Newdorf)

3) Question: I got kicked out of MetLife Stadium for being a drunken idiot at the Jets football game. Now the team is saying that I must write an apology, take a four-hour online course on fan conduct and score at least 70 percent on the test at the end of the course if I ever want to come back to the stadium. Do I have to do this?

Answer: No, but if you do not comply with these rules your name and photo will be placed on the team's "unforgiven" list and you will be arrested for trespassing if you are ever caught at the stadium. (The Consumerist, Get Kicked Out Of NFL Game And You'll Have To Take A Class If You Ever Want Back In)

April 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 16, 2012

Teller of 'Penn & Teller' Sues to Stop 'How-to' Disclosure of His Magic Trick

I haven't written about the practice area of "law and magic" lately (sorry, Law and Magic Blog!), but today brings an opportunity to get back into the field as Teller of the Las Vegas show "Penn & Teller" filed a lawsuit last week alleging that a Dutch entertainer is stealing Teller's copyrighted magic trick. Hollywood, Esq. reports that Teller alleges that Gerard Dogge (stage name "Gerard Bakardy"), is ripping off Teller's illusion called The Rose & Her Shadow, and is now offering to reveal the secrets of the trick for $3,050.

Teller claims that that he actually offered Dogge money if he would not disclose the mechanics of the illusion, but could not reach an agreement with Dogge. Hollywood, Esq. says the case, which is filed in federal court in Nevada, could set precedent concerning the level of protection that magicians have over their tricks.

Hollywood, Esq. explains that magic tricks are copyrightable in some circumstances, but typically require the magician to present some sort of notation system or at least a video of the trick. In this case, Teller reportedly "wrote down the details of his performance, included a cute picture, and registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1983." Check out Teller's picture below, maybe you've seen this one before?


April 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 13, 2012

This Week in Divorce: Valuing Law Degrees; Possession of Pre-Embryos; and Madoff Fallout

There has been a flurry of interesting divorce court rulings lately. Here are three that caught my eye:

1. Esposito-Shea v. Shea: In this case, the court decided that the husband was entitled to 10 percent of the value of the wife's law degree as part of the divorce. To figure out what that number should be, the court relied upon an expert testifying for the wife who stated that the law degree she earned from Notre Dame Law School was not worth the paper it was printed on, so the husband should receive zero. ... Just kidding -- actually the expert concluded that the law degree added $126,000 to the wife's earning power, therefore entitling the husband to $12,600 for his (limited) contributions to her attainment of the degree.

2. Reber v. Reiss: A couple in a post-divorce dispute had 13 frozen pre-embryos in storage that they had previously created from the wife's eggs and the husband's sperm. Due to subsequent cancer treatments, the wife was unlikely to be able to have children and the pre-embryos were arguably her only chance to be a biological parent. The wife therefore wanted possession of the pre-embryos, but the husband, who had since had a child with another woman, wanted the embryos destroyed.

An initial decision in the case went in favor of the husband but an appellate court reversed. The appellate court ruled that while the party wishing to avoid having a child usually wins in such cases, "in this case, because husband and wife never made an agreement prior to undergoing [in vitro fertilization], and these pre-embryos are likely wife's only opportunity to achieve biological parenthood and her best chance to achieve parenthood at all, we agree with the trial court that the balancing of the interests tips in wife's favor."

3. Simkin v. Blank: After 33 years of marriage, husband and wife agreed to split their assets up evenly. Of the couple's $13.5 million in assets, $5.4 million was invested with Bernard Madoff. In the split, the husband kept most of the assets invested with Madoff, while the wife took her settlement proceeds in cash. Keeping the Madoff assets cost the husband millions of dollars, however, when Madoff was revealed to be running a massive Ponzi scheme in late 2008.

After the fraud was revealed, the husband asked the wife to revise the settlement but she refused. The husband sued the wife, arguing that they had made a “mutual mistake” about the existence of the Madoff account. On April 4, the New York Court of Appeals found in favor of the wife, holding that the Madoff account did exist because the husband could have cashed in his account until December 2008, when the fraud came to light. The court found the extraordinary situation to be one that was "more akin to a martial asset that unexpectedly loses value after dissolution of a marriage.”

April 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

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 am in kindergarten and today is show-and-tell. Do you think my dad will mind if I bring these 50 bags of brown powder I found inside a jacket at home to show my friends?

Answer: Yes, I think your dad will definitely mind, although the police may appreciate it. Maybe you could bring a Power Ranger or something else today? (The Associated Press, Conn. boy, 5, takes 50 packets of heroin to school). 

2) Question: I am a police officer on "school resource duty" at the local middle school. I have asked several times for these kids to clear the hall way and get to class, but they are just taking their sweet time. I can start shooting some pepper spray blasts throughout the halls to get people moving, right?

Answer: No, sir! (CW Arkansas, Students hospitalized after pepper spray incident at a Pine Bluff junior high school)

3) Question: I bought an old stock certificate at an estate sale for $5. The certificate is for an old share of stock in a company that was later taken over by Coca Cola. The line where the shareholder's name should go was blank so I wrote my name in -- am I entitled to $130 million now?

Answer: Keep an eye on the case of Coca-Cola v. Marohn in Delaware, in which a similar claim was made (although the judge handling the case recently called it "a new version of the 'Beverly Hillbillies'").  (Reuters, Garage sale find: $130 million in Coke stock?)

April 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 12, 2012

Reporter's Tweet Posting Photo of Juror Causes Mistrial in Kan. Murder Case

As I discussed here last week, there are no real standards in place regarding reporters who wish to cover a trial by tweeting from the courtroom. A report last year by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press found rules in this area, if they even exist, tend to "vary from state to state, and at times from trial to trial."  

To date I had seen two primary objections to the use of Twitter by reporters in court, neither of which seem particularly compelling: (1) in a high-profile trial, reporters' tweets might reach a juror since Twitter does not require active pursuit of information and a juror might follow a person on Twitter who was discussing the trial; and (2) reporters pecking out tweets during the trial might be a distraction to the jury. I think the first concern above should be manageable as the court can instruct jurors to stay off of Twitter for the duration of the trial, similar to the way jurors are already instructed to avoid other media about the case. The second concern also does not seem like a significant issue, as reporters who want to tweet can be asked to sit in the back of the courtroom and also advised that they may only tweet if they can do so without becoming a distraction to the jurors and other courtroom participants.

Today, however, I saw one more issue pop up with respect to reporters tweeting from court that actually led to an unfortunate mistrial in a Topeka, Kan., murder case. The Topeka Capitol-Journal reports (via the ABA Journal) that on Wednesday, in the trial of Austin Tabor, District Court Judge Mark Braun declared a mistrial after a a Capital-Journal reporter who live-tweeted the trial's opening the day before included a photo that showed one or more of the jurors. Under Kansas Supreme Court rules, 

Individual jurors shall not be photographed. In courtrooms where photography is impossible without including the jury as part of the unavoidable background, the photography is permitted, but close-ups which identify individual jurors are prohibited.

The Capital-Journal said it "regrets the error and loss of the court’s time. We will use this as a training opportunity for our staff members as they strive to bring information to our readers in digital and print media.”

April 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 11, 2012

Easter Bunny Crime and Arrest Roundup

Now that Easter has come and gone, I am struck by the number of Easter Bunny-related crimes and legal stories I have read in the past few days. I feel these need to be summed up somewhere in the interest of furthering Easter Bunny jurisprudence and future Easter safety.

Below is a list of what I came across recently -- please help me build this list with other Easter Bunny-related matters I undoubtedly missed:

1. "Operation Hippity Hop," West Palm Beach, Fla., March 28, 2012

The West Palm Beach Police Dept. launched "Operation Hippity Hop," an undercover operation involving a police officer in a pink Easter Bunny costume. The bunny/officer stood on the side of a road with a sign reading, "Have a safe, hoppy holiday. Buckle up!" When motorists not wearing a seat belt passed by, the bunny secretly radioed a fellow officer up the street, leading to over 50 seat belt violations (carrying a $116 citation) in the first two hours of Operation Hippity Hop.

2. Arrest of Mall Easter Bunny on illegal prescription drug charges, Danville, Va., April 7, 2012

After a man hired to "provide Easter fun" as a costumed Easter Bunny at a Virginia mall started acting suspicious while on break, police walked the bunny away from the public area so he would be out of view and arrested him for illegally possessing prescription narcotics. 

3. Six-foot-tall Easter Bunny statue mistaken for stalker, Duisburg, Germany, April 8, 2012

Duisburg police were called to a resident's home on Easter Sunday by a worried couple who spotted a tall, intimidating prowler with a 'striking face' peering through their window. Police found that the suspect was actually an Easter Bunny statue measuring "about 1.80 metres tall, yellow shirt, blue check trousers, green rucksack and a 'striking face.'" Police good-naturedly arrested the bunny, which had been left as a practical joke, saying "We took him into custody but he hasn't said much yet."

April 11, 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 am a burglar and I have successfully broken into the Radio Shack store! Is there anything here that I should avoid stealing?

Answer: You mean other than the global positioning system equipment, right? (Chicago TribuneProsecutors: Man who robbed Radio Shack tracked down using GPS he stole)

2) Question: I have a two-month-old child. I just woke up to find a strange woman in my child's room attempting to breastfeed him. I do not recall any discussion of this in the breastfeeding classes. Is this some kind of hospital wet-nurse program? 

Answer: No, that sounds like the crime of "unlawful occupancy." Call 911! (The Associated Press, Cops: S.D. woman broke into home, attempted to breastfeed stranger's baby)

3) Question: Is it my imagination or is this guy in the Easter Bunny costume that we hired to provide Easter fun at our local mall acting really shady? 

Answer: You would think Easter Bunnies would be beyond reproach but sometimes police need to walk the costumed Easter Bunny at the mall away from the public area so they can arrest him for illegally possessing prescription narcotics. (WFMY, "Easter Bunny" Arrested On Illegal Prescription Drugs Charges)

April 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 10, 2012

CSI Del Boca Vista: Condo HOAs Demand Canine DNA Samples to Identify Dog Crap

Surely, there should come a time during your tenure as a member of your condo's Homeowners Association when you think to yourself: Do I really want to be the guy requiring all of my neighbors to submit samples of their dog's crap so that we can DNA test it and identify people who do not clean up after their pets? Is that the direction I want to go in my life, the legacy I wish to leave behind?

Yes, we live in a "CSI" world now, where it is technically possible to figure out which pile of dog crap belongs to which canine residing in a condo. Even so, that does not mean dog crap-identification measures are the way to go for the residents of Del Boca Vista Phase III or whatever condo you may live in. And yet more and more, we are seeing HOA leaders demanding doggie-DNA samples from their (former) friends and neighbors living in their condos.

Last year in New Hampshire, the apartment manager at "Timberwood Commons" purchased a commercial DNA sampling kit and asked dog owners to submit a "cheek swab" for their pet. This was all a setup for the next step: picking up renegade piles of dog crap, matching it with the DNA on file, and issuing HOA fines against the owners of the canines.

The Consumerist reports that last month in a Northern Virginia condo complex, residents received a letter telling them they had 30 days to provide a DNA sample of their dog via a special kit provided by the HOA. Oh, and don't even think that you are going to outsmart the braintrust at this Northern Virginia condo by providing DNA from another dog or from a neighborhood squirrel or what have you because the letter specified that "Dog owners are required to obtain and use the kit to take the DNA sample in the clubhouse in the presence of the On-Site Manager."

The tactics of this HOA predictably were not appreciated by many of the residents, who called it "both disgusting and intrusive." One resident stated that "If I was told from the start that this would be a mandatory system, I would have NEVER moved in." In an update posted Monday on The Consumerist, one of the residents of this condo named Dave says he and his neighbors have tried to fight back by posting signs alerting residents to the issue and planning to attend the next HOA meeting. The HOA, however, took down their signs and reportedly canceled the next meeting.

In addition to objecting to the plan in general, Dave also wants to know the answers to more complex dog crap-identification questions such as "What happens if a vindictive neighbor pulls your dog's poo from the trash and puts it out to get you in trouble?" or "What happens if someone else leaves their dog's mess out there and my dog marks his territory on the offending poop?"

April 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (5)

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 trying to eat breakfast at Waffle House but a woman just opened fire outside the restaurant at another group of women! What the heck is going on?!

Answer: It sounds like someone changed their relationship status on Facebook. (WRDW, Deputies: Shots fired at Augusta Waffle House stemmed from Facebook)

2) Question: We are a small telephone company in Nebraska. For years we have made a pay phone available to the public (the only one in town) but last year the phone took in just $3.35 in revenue while costing us $1,450 in upkeep and other expenses. Can we pull the plug on this relic from the 1970s? 

Answer: Sorry, but state law requires at least one public phone in every community across Nebraska, so you will need to keep that phone in service. (Journal StarCompany wants to pull small town pay phones)

3) Question: Last week I drove by someone in a pink Easter Bunny costume with a sign reading, "Have a safe, hoppy holiday. Buckle up!" Aww, that's so cute! Is this some kind of public service announcement by my town of West Palm Beach, Fla.? 

Answer: Not exactly. Did you also notice the bunny/police officer secretly radioing his fellow officers up the street? You just drove by "Operation Hippity Hop," which helped police issue 50 seat belt violations (carrying a $116 citation) in its first two hours alone. (The Palm Beach PostWest Palm Beach police use bunny costume to enforce seat-belt law)

April 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 09, 2012

Dataminr Uses Twitter Analytics to Identify Market-Moving News for Traders

Dataminr, a "Twitter analytics company," announced a partnership with Twitter today that will give it access to the full Twitter Firehose in real-time, thereby allowing it greater access to tweets and metadata. The Twitter Firehose is not publicly available, and provides all public tweets to those with access.

Dataminr made news last year when it reportedly was the first to detect the death of Osama bin Laden, Ars Technica reports. Based on its analysis of 19 tweets in a five-minute period, Dataminr sent an alert to its clients about the death at 10:20 p.m. EST on May 1, 2011. The company says that news of bin Laden's death started to move S&P Futures at around 10:39 p.m., and the U.S. dollar index moved at 10:41 p.m. The New York Times and Bloomberg reportedly did not report the death until 10:43 p.m. Dataminr says it has several large investment banks and a hedge fund currently testing its service. Such firms could theoretically use Datminr's early alerts to profitably trade on news before it is widely reported.

Dataminr uses "linguistic analysis, sentiment classification, analysis of Twitter metadata, and monitoring of spikes in volume, merged with unspecified 'third-party and client proprietary data' to identify events and their reliability," according to Ars Techinca. Dataminr says that other recent "pre-news" it was able to issue alerts on include an assassination attempt on high-ranking Arab leaders in Tajikistan, a tsunami warning in Chile, and panic-buying of fuel in the U.K.

April 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 06, 2012

Is Tweeting From the Courtroom by Reporters Too Distracting for Jurors?

As discussed here in late March, convicted fraudster Allen Stanford recently asked, unsuccessfully, for a new trial because the court "let reporters send Twitter messages from the courtroom, even while the judge and lawyers were talking outside the jury's presence, and failed to instruct jurors to stay off Twitter." Stanford's lawyers argued that these tweets are "likely to have reached a juror, since Twitter does not require active pursuit of information, but rather, if a friend of the juror's was following the 'Stanford trial,' the tweets might automatically show up on a juror's Twitter account."

Stanford's motion was promptly denied, but perhaps it would have been more persuasive if Stanford had argued that the reporters' tweets prejudiced him in another way -- by being too distracting to the jury. In the high-profile trial that started this week of the man accused of killing the family of singer/actress Jennifer Hudson, the court has barred reporters from tweeting or posting messages to Facebook from inside the courtroom. The Associated Press reports that according to a court spokesman, the judge "didn't want constant typing on cell phones to distract jurors and other courtroom participants."

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reported last year that reporters' tweeting from court is a quickly growing trend, but that there is "no set standard regarding tweeting from courtrooms and the rules tend to vary from state to state, and at times from trial to trial." In the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray concerning the death of Michael Jackson, for example, tweeting was permitted and one local news station sent out nearly 1,900 tweets to about 3,000 followers. RCFP notes that in a tax fraud trial in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett of Iowa, Bennett allowed a reporter to tweet about the proceedings but asked the reporter to sit in the back of the courtroom so that her typing would not be distracting.

Some reporters who wish to tweet from the courtroom view it as a First Amendment issue. Ron Sylvester, a court reporter for The Wichita Eagle believes that when courts ban the use of Twitter they are "effectively shutting people out from the courtroom who care about these proceedings. ... If you say no tweeting, you might as well say no reporting allowed," he said. "I do think it's a First Amendment issue."

April 6, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

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 a police officer. I just pulled a woman over for driving on the San Diego Freeway with a cellphone in one hand (itself a citable offense), a baby in her lap and two unsecured children in the backseat. Where do I even begin with the charges here?

Answer: You could go with arresting her on suspicion of child endangerment and placing the three children in protective custody. (CBS, Woman Accused Of Texting While Driving With Baby On Her Lap) (via Consumerist)

2) Question: We just took our senior class photo and a group of us wore T-shirts that spelled out "CLASS of 2012." My shirt had the "A" on it. After the formal photo we took another casual photo but while I was still standing next to the other two kids with "S" shirts for that photo, the kids with the "C" and "L" shirts wandered away. Now the school is saying that the two "S' shirt kids and I will be suspended and fined $135 each. What gives??

Answer: When you and your friends spell out "A-S-S" in your school photo, you may face some consequences. (KHOU, Senior class photo spells trouble) (via Legal Juice)

3) Question: My kid wants a Happy Meal with the cool toy. Isn't this this a violation of consumer protection laws, exploiting my son's vulnerability by using toys to lure him to eat nutritionally unbalanced meals that can lead to obesity?

Answer: No. Get a life. (The Associated Press, Calif. kids can have Happy Meals, judge rules)

April 6, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 05, 2012

Wolfram|Alpha Offers Data on U.S. Federal Court Filings, Caseloads and More

Wolfram|Alpha is an online service/search engine with the mission of getting knowledge and answers for people "not by searching the web, but by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods." Via FutureLawyer, I learned that Wolfram|Alpha recently announced that it has added some data on each of the 94 district courts in the federal court system, which it hopes will offer some "fascinating bits of information about the justice system in this country."

For example, entering the term "California courts" will produce a list of all of the district courts in the state, along with data for each court, such as the number of cases filed and terminated per year, and the number of cases pending. There is also interesting data on points such as the median time to trial in each of the state's four district courts (e.g., 19.7 months in the Central District versus 35.1 months in the Southern District).

Clicking further to learn about a particular district court (here is the link for the Northern District, for example) produces information on that court including a map of its jurisdiction, charts of its annual filings and much more. Customized graphs and other data are available for users of the Wolfram|Alpha Pro service, which appears to have a $4.99/month fee.

April 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday's Three Burning Legal Questions

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

1) Question: Today is my wedding day. At the reception, one of the drunk guests was slow-dancing with my new husband/groom for way too long. I asked her to stop and she got upset and started yelling at me and tried to hit me, and then she "fell to the ground kicking and screaming and being belligerent." I do not need this at my wedding! Can we get her charged with something, ASAP, please! 

Answer: Yes, her actions could get her charged with "assault and disorderly conduct intoxication-persisting." (The Morning JournalFor better or for worse; Drunken wedding guest dancing with groom sparks fight, arrested) 

2) Question: My dog just ate my four tickets to the Masters golf tournament. Nooooooo!!! If I can induce the dog to vomit up the tickets and then piece them all back together and send a photo of the regurgitated/pieced-together tickets to the people running the tournament, can I still use the tickets?

Answer: No problem. (Deadspin, Dog Eats Man's Masters Tickets, Man Induces Dog To Puke, Man Pieces Tickets Back Together)

3) Question: I just got a job delivering marijuana door-to-door for a medical marijuana company. I'm a bit apprehensive about this -- what are the main things I need to worry about? 

Answer: Ninja attack. (Lowering the Bar, Pot Delivery Guy Reports Ninja Attack)

April 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 04, 2012

Texas Hospital Says Obese Job Applicants Need Not Apply

In Victoria, Texas, the Citizens Medical Center has implemented a hiring policy that is "virtually unheard of" in the medical field: All potential employees must have a body mass index of less than 35. As explained by The Texas Tribune, a BMI of 35 translates roughly to a weight of 210 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-5, and 245 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-10.

The Tribune reports that applicants for positions at Citizens Medical are screened by a physician "to assess their fitness for work," including their BMI. David Brown, the CEO of the hospital said that while some obese job candidates have been turned away since the policy was implemented, existing workers who become obese over the course of their employment are not terminated. Brown also said that the hospital "also offers to help heavy job candidates get their body mass index down. We have some people who are applicants and they know the requirements, and we try and help them get there but they're not interested," he said. "So that's fine, they can go work somewhere else."

Although some hospitals have policies against hiring workers who use tobacco on the grounds that their health insurance is too expensive, the Citizens Medical policy does not invoke such reasoning for its ban on obese new employees. Rather, the policy specifically states that an employee's physique "should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional." Brown adds that 

The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance. ... We have the ability as an employer to characterize our process and to have a policy that says what's best for our business and for our patients.

So, is it legal for this Texas hospital to discriminate against job applicants based on obesity? According to the Tribune, it is indeed legal as only the state of Michigan and six U.S. cities ban currently discrimination against the overweight in hiring.

In this commentary, Suzanne Lucas notes that even if the policy is lawful, it is still misguided, as "obese" per BMI standards is not what you might think it is. Lucas links to a set of photographs of people along with their BMIs, and observes that some people with a BMI over 35 do not even appear to be particularly overweight. Moreover, she says, it is simply bad policy for a host of reasons, including the fact that the employer will miss out on some great candidates.

April 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

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 just got pulled over by the police and I have marijuana in the car. Should I just try to eat it real fast? 

Answer: It really depends on the amount and whether it is "raw bud" or already rolled. Here is a handy guide for next time. (Deadspin, Should You Eat Your Marijuana During A Police Stop? A Guide)
2) Question: I am working out at the local YMCA, and I live in Indiana so of course I have my concealed carry weapon with me. A man just came running through the Y with a mask on and apparently carrying a weapon, and people are freaking out. Should I shoot this fool?

Answer: Please, please be sure that the masked man is not a YMCA employee doing a safety drill. (WTHR, Avon Y under fire for emergency drill)

3) Question: I am headed off to college. I suffer from depression so I want to bring my companion animal (my guinea pig) along with me.  Can I do this? 

Answer: It may depend on the school, but some schools refuse to consider guinea pigs to be companion animals. (WZZM, Student sues GVSU, needs guinea pig for support)

April 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 03, 2012

Things You Can't Do on a Plane: Vol. 16

You might think that after Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3Volume 4Volume 5Volume 6Volume 7Volume 8, Volume 9Volume 10Volume 11Volume 12Volume 13Volume 14 and Volume 15 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:

  • Bring a commercial grade M-80 explosive onboard the plane in your backpack. Passengers may not carry powerful fireworks onto a cross-country flight. CONSEQUENCE: Passenger will be arrested and face federal charges including "possession of a destructive device."
  • Attack flight crew after being refused alcohol. Passengers with a fear of flying who are refused alcohol may not express their emotions by getting out of their seat, attacking the flight crew, kicking them, spitting in their faces, knocking a flight attendant to the ground and breaking an arm rest. CONSEQUENCE: Passenger will be tackled, restrained, greeted by police upon landing and charged with "Interfering with an Aircraft" and Battery.
  • Scream about terrorism plots and claim that the plane is "going down" while serving as captain of the plane. Captains of aircrafts may not begin screaming mid-flight about al-Qaida, the presence of a bomb on the plane, Iraq, Iran and how "we're all going down." CONSEQUENCECaptain may be restrained, choked, taken down by passengers and charged with "interfering with a flight crew."

April 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

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 just filed a foreclosure case in state court in Florida. Are there any cases ahead of mine in the state foreclosure court? 

Answer: Yes, 368,000 of them as of this week. You might want to pull up a chair. (South Florida Lawyers, Your Case is Next - Right After the First 368,000!)

2) Question: I have too much time and money and would like to get an LL.M. in Global Food Law. What options do I have?

Answer: You may be in luck, a Global Food Law LL.M. program is now pending approval at the Michigan State University College of Law. (Above the Law, Law School Contemplates Offering Dumbest LL.M. Ever)

3) Question: I agreed to write for free for the Huffington Post to get exposure. But then AOL purchased the Huffington Post for $315 million. I'll be getting some of that money, right?

Answer: Wrong. (New York Law JournalHuffington Bloggers Lose Bid to Sue AOL for Compensation)

April 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 02, 2012

Blawg Review Makes Its Return at the Declarations and Exclusions Blog

Ever since Al Gore invented both the Internet and the legal blog back in 1898, it seems like a new Blawg Review ("the blog carnival for everyone interested in law") has come out like clockwork every week or so. Until August 2011, that is, when Blawg Review #314 was published and then ... silence. In September 2011, Blawg Review posted a quick message saying that "the sun hasn't set on Blawg Review, but we've been traveling these past few months, and not just to law conferences. ... Blawg Review will be back soon."  But fall turned into winter, and winter turned to spring and still ... silence.

Today, however, Blawg Review made its return, as George Wallace's Declarations and Exclusions blog posted Blawg Review #315: "The Plain Vanilla Edition." In the tradition of Blawg Review, Wallace offers up blog links and short commentaries on many of the hot issues now being discussed in the blogosphere, including links to Mark Bennett on the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Tom Goldstein on the U.S. Supreme Court's recent arguments over the Affordable Care Act, the latest April Fools prank by "hoaxing mastermind" (and stellar disclaimer writer) Eric Turkewitz, and much more.

Wallace also notes that Blawg Review #316 is due to be published on April 9 by Jamison Koehler at his Koehler Law Blog.

April 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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