WeirdOfTheNews
 

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

 
 

Friday, May 16, 2003

 
Federal Judge Denies Pot Guru a New Trial

"A federal judge rejected a bid for a new trial from convicted marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal on Friday, finding no basis for his claims of jury bias. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer upheld Rosenthal's highly publicized conviction in February. He now faces spending the rest of his life in prison when he's sentenced June 4. The maximum sentence is 85 years," the AP reports here.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

 
San Francisco DA Terrence Hallinan Pursues a Rare "Three Strikes" Case

This article concerns a current prosecution of the former Charles Rothenberg (now "Charley Charles"), who gained worldwide notoriety 20 years ago for setting fire to his 6-year-old son in a motel. The story raises all kinds of issues: the propriety of giving a prosecutor so much discretion in charging (and ultimately sentencing) defendants; the proportionality of sentencing under 3 strikes in different California counties; the competing personalities in the current SF District Attorney race; and the propriety of imposing huge sentences for relatively minor current crimes because of a defendant's past convictions. An altogether interesting read from Pam Smith of The Recorder.
 
Judge Tosses Plaintiffs' Lawyers Out of Class Action

U.S. District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo of Chicago recently made the highly unusual move of barring a half-dozen plaintiff attorneys from representing the claimants as a class, calling their work "inadequate." On behalf of a potential class of 17 million plaintiffs, the attorneys were going to settle for $25 million--and pocket $4.3 million for themselves, Forbes reports here. (Link via OverLawyered.com)
 
Judge Leaning Studios' Way in DMCA Fight

321 Studios makes software that allows users to unlock the encryption codes on Hollywood DVDs and make copies on their home computers. The studios sued, saying the software violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 321 Studios argues that enabling rightful owners of DVDs to make backup copies is a "fair use" under copyright law. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of the Northern District of California heard oral argument on a summary judgment motion in the case today. Though she appeared to be leaning toward the studios, she managed to throw a few curve balls into the mix, The Recorder reports here.
 
Law Partner Gets Five-Year Suspension for Neglecting Cases Over a Decade

Feeling overwhelmed? Pressured to succeed at all cost, while billing 2,400 hours a year? Read the sad but not unimaginable saga of Lawrence M. Furtzaig, a former partner at New York's prominent landlord tenant firm Rosenberg & Estis. He got so far behind the eight ball that he actually gave one client $60,000 of his own money to help conceal a failure. He was nearly disbarred, but landed a five-year suspension instead, Law.com New York report here.
 
"Beware Delaware"

"A string of recent decisions handed down by the Delaware Supreme Court — considered the "mother court of corporate law" — has been virtually ignored by the business press. Yet experts say the decisions could have as profound an impact on business than anything Congress or the SEC has done. Since last summer, the Delaware Supreme Court has issued at least five decisions of great concern to the corporate bar. Each was remarkable not only because it found against directors and in favor of shareholders, but also because it reversed a lower court ruling that went the other way," New York Lawyer reports here.
 
Oregon Budget Woes Affecting Judicial Priorities

"Oregon's budget shortfalls leave the state without enough funds to pay for public defenders for the poor. To avoid violating defendants' Miranda rights, the state is downgrading serious charges to lesser violations that don't entail court trials." Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the story via NPR here (links to Windows Media audio file).
 
Actor Tom Sizemore Faces 16 New Charges Related to Fleiss

"Actor Tom Sizemore is facing 16 new charges, including domestic violence and witness intimidation, stemming from a stormy relationship with Heidi Fleiss, the notorious former Hollywood madam who was once his fiancee," CNN reports here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

 
Burglary Suspect Bleeds To Death After Cutting Himself Breaking In

"After going on a 'mini-rampage' outside a busy Fremont supermarket, a 21-year-old purse-snatching suspect bled to death when he slashed an artery while breaking into a nearby apartment, police said Tuesday. Obadiah Videau of Fremont was pronounced dead Monday night at Washington Hospital in Fremont, after he severed his brachial artery after putting his arm through a glass window while trying to climb into an apartment at the Park Villa apartment complex," the San Francisco Chronicle reports here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

 
High Court Farewell

Law.com pays tribute to recently retired Deputy Solicitor General Lawrence Wallace who, with 157 Supreme Court oral arguments under his belt, was the most prolific advocate before the Court in the 20th century. Read all about Larry's admirable career here.
 
Ex-Flight Attendant Pleads Guilty To Giving Sedative To Baby

Daniel Cunningham tried to give an infant on his flight some apple juice to which he had added Xanax to stop the child's crying. Now he faces up to 11 years in prison, CNN reports here.

Monday, May 12, 2003

 
Sheriff: Texas Woman Says God Told Her To Kill Sons

Texan Deanna LaJune Laney, 38, allegedly killed two of her three young sons, apparently by beating their heads in with a rock. She then called 911 and confessed, saying that God told her to do it. Now the DA is trying to decide whether to seek the death penalty, CNN reports here.
 
Ohio Justice Sues N.Y. Times Over Story

"The New York Times and a state Supreme Court justice went to court Monday over an article involving a lawsuit filed by the son of Dr. Sam Sheppard. In opening statements in U.S. District Court, lawyer Don C. Iler said Times reporter Fox Butterfield wrote things about Justice Francis E. Sweeney that he knew were untrue and damaged the judge's reputation," Guardian Unlimited reports here.
 
"Google to Fix Blog Noise Problem"

"Google is to create a search tool specifically for weblogs, most likely giving material generated by the self-publishing tools its own tab. It isn't clear if weblogs will be removed from the main search results, but precedent suggests they will be. After Google acquired Usenet groups from Deja.com, it developed a unique user interface and a refined search engine, and removed the groups from the main index," Britain's The Register reports here. UPDATE: Is this whole story just hot air?

Sunday, May 11, 2003

 
'Bumfights' Producers Plead Guilty

"Three young men who produced the brief Internet sensation 'Bumfights' pleaded guilty on Friday to paying homeless men to trade blows -- charges that could send them to jail for a year," Reuters reports here via CNN.
 
Lawyer Sues Rival Firm Over Trademarked Ad Slogan

Detroit labor lawyer Richard L. Steinberg trademarked the slogan "working lawyers for working people." Now he's suing law firm Miller Cohen PLC for using the phrase "working for working people" in its advertising. No wonder people make lawyer jokes. Read the story here (link courtesy of The Trademark Blog).
 
Wife Held for Using Perfume to Harm Spouse

"A woman was arrested for dousing herself with perfume, spraying the house with bug killer and disinfectant, and burning scented candles in an attempt to seriously injure her chemically sensitive husband, prosecutors said. Police charged Lynda Taylor, 36, with aggravated battery Thursday," the AP reports here.

 

 
   
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