A regularly updated guide to random legal news that I find interesting -- and hope you will too. And links! Always links!


Thursday, April 03, 2003

Bill Aims to Curb Judicial Discretion

This is a VERY bad idea: "A freshman congressman is trying to force changes that would virtually eliminate any discretion federal judges have left to show mercy on criminal defendants. Tom Feeney, a Florida Republican, quietly attached a rider to the Amber Alert legislation -- which had seemed destined for passage before Congress recesses for Easter next week -- that would erase many of the grounds for downward departures and require de novo review of sentencing decisions," reports here. I'll even go so far as to urge you to email your congressman or congresswoman to voice opposition to this rider, which you can do from this link.

Seven years ago, the Supreme Court decided that sentencing departures should be reviewed under the "abuse of discretion" standard, rather than the de novo standard, giving federal judges back at least a little bit of the discretion the Sentencing Commission took from them. Koon v. U.S., 518 U.S. 81 (1996). We should not stand by and let this nutjob Congressman from Florida take it away again.
Record Industry Sues 4 Students Running File-Sharing Networks

"In its ongoing, aggressive effort to stem Internet music piracy, the record industry filed suit today against four college students who run Napster-like file-sharing computer networks at three universities, including Princeton University." But so far, ordinary Kazaa users are safe, according to this.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Congratulations, WeirdOfTheNews Readers!

Sometime today, WeirdOfTheNews logged its 10,000th visitor! And I seem to have developed a "hard core" of around 50 readers who visit regularly. I'm glad all of you are interested in my little project. I'll try to keep up the quality. You tell your friends!
Supreme Court Takes on Hollywood Copying Case

Fox had let its copyright lapse in a WWII documentary. Dastar Corp. took the footage, re-edited it, and re-released it under another name. Does Fox have a case because Dastar used its footage without giving credit, or was Dastar justified in using what was now in the public domain? The Supremes heard oral argument on the issue today, the AP reports here.
Mayor: WTC Personal Injury Suits Could Bankrupt NYC

Lawsuits filed claiming harm from the City's cleanup -- not the initial attacks -- may bankrupt New York, according to this.
Oral Arguments in Intel v. Hamidi Today

The California Supreme Court heard oral argument today in an appeal of an injunction granted in favor of Intel that stopped Hamidi, a disgruntled former employee, from sending Intel employees emails critical of the company. Computer law and free speech experts say the case has far reaching ramifications, as reported here. UPDATE: has just published another article about the argument here.
Pillsbury Makes Public Apology To Jensen

As you may recall, when Pillsbury partner Frode Jensen announced that he was leaving for Latham & Watkins, Pillsbury responded with a press release accusing him of being an unproductive sexual harasser. Frode sued. Now Pillsbury has settled the lawsuit and issued a public apology, it says here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

"A White Buffalo"

One lawyer calls a sexual harassment class action trial as rare as "a white buffalo." "So many cases are settled that trials are never seen. Or almost never. A federal court in Chicago is preparing for a white-buffalo sighting. On April 28, the Chicago district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is scheduled to try its largest case since it settled a sexual harassment complaint against Mitsubishi five years ago for $34 million," The National Law Journal reports here.
Race at Issue in Opening Arguments of Gun Industry Trial

The NAACP is the plaintiff in a suit seeking injunctive relief against gun manufacturers and distributors in Federal court in New York. The interesting case seeks to show that guns have a disproportionate adverse impact on African Americans, and seeks court-ordered regulation of the industry to minimize the harm, according to this.
Legal Weirdness at Work

The National Law Journal has compiled a list of the 10 weirdest employment law cases of the year.

Monday, March 31, 2003

ExxonMobil Wins $416.8M Jury Verdict From Saudi Oil Firm

The case, tried in Delaware and applying Saudi law, concerned the Saudi firm's charges to ExxonMobil for technology in a joint venture. Sounds like a pretty interesting case, as reported here.
Oral Argument Tuesday At Supreme Court re: Michigan Affirmative Action Case

SCOTUSBlog has comprehensive pre-argument coverage (and lots of links) here. The Court will make audio tape of the oral arguments accessible to the media within hours of the arguments. This is only the second time in history this has happened -- the other being Bush v. Gore. UPDATE: The New York Times reports that today's arguments seemed to have gone well for proponents of affirmative action here. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate also reports on the arguments here.
Philip Morris: Ruling May Mean Bankruptcy

"Philip Morris is warning a downstate Illinois judge could force it into bankruptcy, jeopardizing billions of dollars in tobacco settlement money set to go to cash-strapped states through 2025. Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron earlier this month ordered the nation's biggest cigarette-maker to post a $12 billion appeal bond to cover a $10.1 billion judgment, plus interest, during the appeals process. The bond is more than twice the company's $5 billion operating income for last year," UPI reports here.
Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Sex Crime Limits

"The Supreme Court took up the subject of old sex crimes Monday in a case that could determine when statutes of limitations can be erased and prosecutions begun. . . . The justices are considering whether California violated the constitutional rights of a man by prosecuting him in 2001 on charges of molesting his daughters that began almost 50 years ago," the AP reports here.
Bad, Late Transcripts Land Court Reporter in Jail

"In a rare action, a three-judge federal panel in the Southern District of Texas has found a court reporter in contempt of court and sentenced her to 10 days in jail. It released her after seven," reports here.


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