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


Saturday, May 10, 2003

Magicians Sue Brazilian TV Network

"Magicians claiming they nearly went broke after a television program aired the secrets of their trade have won a legal fight against Brazil's largest television network. TV Globo must pay damages to 21 magicians in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul because of a program that revealed how magicians perform such tricks as pulling rabbits out of hats and sawing women in half, Judge Eduardo Kothe Werlang ruled recently," the AP reports here. They must have some seriously strange causes of action down in Brazil . . . .

Friday, May 09, 2003

Judge's Drinking Brings Suspension

"A Gwinnett County [Georgia] judge has been banned from the courthouse and suspended with pay after a local TV news report showed him drinking, then getting behind the wheel of his SUV," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports here. The details are pretty shocking, including allegations that Judge David Fuller drank during working hours, and that he consumed 19 drinks in one seven-hour period, and then drove.
Chief Justice Rehnquist To Retire??

UPI legal affairs correspondent Michael Kirkland ponders that enduring question here.
Exonerated Convicts Find Freedom Is Tough

At least 35 former convicts have been exonerated through the efforts of the Innocence Project at Cardozo Law School and the DNA Identification Technology and Human Rights Center of Berkeley. But some of them have found life on the outside challenging after years of incarceration. "'We were getting all these people out of prison, but we found most of them were having tremendous difficulty with life on the street,' said Peter Neufeld, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, which provides legal assistance to prisoners seeking to prove their innocence through DNA testing." Now the two programs will jointly run the "Life After Exoneration Project" to help those they have freed adjust to freedom, it says here. [In case you've been feeling remiss about your recent level of charitable giving, you can find out how to support the Innocence Project here.]

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

"Plaintiff-Friendly Plan for 17200"

Here's a bad idea: A pair of California legislators (one democrat, one republican) want to overturn two recent California Supreme Court cases that established restrictions on the extent to which courts can order "disgorgement of profits" under California's Unfair Competition Law (B&P Code Section 17200). Read more here from The Recorder.
Nationally Known Asbestos Litigator Accepts Disbarment

"The referee in the attorney discipline case against prominent Miami class-action lawyer Louis S. Robles has recommended that he be disbarred, and Robles has agreed to this in a no contest plea. . . . [The referee] found that Robles engaged in a pattern of misconduct by failing to properly communicate with his clients, failing to 'properly and timely' remit funds due his clients, and charging clients 'excessive and improper' costs. Robles is nationally known for his class-action and mass torts work in representing people who claim they were injured from asbestos exposure," the New York Lawyer reports here.
Orrick in West Coast Merger Bid for Venture Law Group

"Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is in talks with West Coast technology firm Venture Law Group (VLG) about a possible takeover. It is understood that the talks, which could mean a full takeover or laterally hiring a substantial number of lawyers, are at an early stage," The reports here.
Man Removed Pacemaker While On the Lam From the Law

"A man who apparently tried to fake his own death had his pacemaker cut out of his chest in a South Carolina motel room shortly after staging his disappearance in January."

"Jasper County deputies said he staged his disappearance in January, then had his pacemaker delivered to his wife, along with a piece of skin and a letter claiming he'd been murdered by religious zealots."

Now "Steven Lukowich, 35, of Ridgeland is recovering from an infection in an Erie, Pa., jail where he faces charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution," according to this. (Thanks to The Obscure Store for both this link and the next about GM.)
Refusal To Fix Cadillac's Starter - Under Warranty - Costs GM $200k

First, a Wisconsin GM dealer could have fixed the car for a few hundred dollars, but refused. Then GM could have settled the case for $10-15k, but refused. Now GM is out $200k, consisting of $10k in damages, $108k in plaintiff's attorneys' fees, and $82k in its own legal costs, it stays here.
"Sentencing Reform Raises Legal Worries"

It certainly does, as I discussed earlier here and here. But this BBC article is talking about sentencing reform in the UK, not in the US. Though the same issues seem to arise there as here.
Court Hears Arguments on Landmark Assisted Suicide Law

"The fate of the landmark Oregon assisted suicide law rests with a federal appeals court that was asked Wednesday to decide whether Attorney General John Ashcroft can regulate 'legitimate medical practice' in a state. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Ashcroft's challenge to an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Robert Jones in April 2002 that barred Ashcroft from interfering with the Oregon law," the AP reports here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Tucker Max Sued

Professional jackass and one-time Fenwick & West summer associate Tucker Max, who was recently featured on the MTV show "Sex2k," is now being sued by a woman whom he claims he had sex with on his website, according to this.
Supreme Court May Review 2nd Amendment

The 9th Circuit today refused to reconsider December's ruling that there is no constitutional right to individual gun ownership. That ruling conflicts with the 5th Circuit, setting up a possible Supreme Court review, the AP reports here. The 9th Circuit's Order can be accessed here. It includes several dissents, including a very concise one by Judge Kozinski, beginning on page two.

Monday, May 05, 2003

CCA Upholds Butt Search for Crack

Thanks to How Appealing for this one: The Texas Lawyer is reporting that warrantless butt searches have been ruled legal (see third item).
Lawyer's Bid To Win Asylum Rights For Abused Women Awaits Action by Ashcroft

If I were an abused woman, I would not want my fate to be in the hands of John Ashcroft. Especially not if I were seeking asylum from another country post September 11. Read's interesting article here, and hope springs eternal.
Mississippi's Chief Justice Calls For Court Reforms

Although it may seem that WeirdOfTheNews has been doing a lot of judge-bashing lately, I'm simply passing on what the media prints. Case in point:

"The Mississippi Supreme Court's chief justice says changes are needed to restore faith in the state's courts, which have been damaged by a string of allegations of judicial misconduct.

"Chief Justice Ed Pittman's plans for reform: Switch from elected to appointed judges in the higher courts, allow cameras in the courtrooms, impose stricter codes of conduct and establish a review system if a judge refuses to recuse himself when there is a potential conflict of interest.

"'The majority of this court recognizes that we need to make some changes,' Pittman said. 'We are on the road to total recovery and absolute total neutral service to the people of this state," the AP report here.
Lawsuit Challenges Louisiana Ban on Nonresident Foreigners Taking Bar Exam

This is a strange one: "Tulane University law student Emily Maw of Wales wanted to stay in Louisiana after graduation to represent death row inmates and defendants in capital cases. Now she is thinking about practicing in Mississippi instead.

"In what is believed to be the only such rule in the nation, Louisiana prohibits nonresident foreigners from taking the state bar exam.

"The rule was issued without explanation by the Louisiana Committee on Bar Admissions in 2000 and upheld without comment by the state Supreme Court last year, triggering speculation that the justices were simply tired of foreign defense attorneys using clever arguments to get death sentences overturned," the AP reports here.
Chief Justice Warns of Congressional 'Intimidation' of Judges

"Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist said Monday that cataloging information about which federal judges give lighter sentences and why [by Congress] could amount to an effort to intimidate certain judges," and interfere with the independence of the judiciary, the AP reports here.


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