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


Saturday, June 07, 2003


With the very generous help of Dean Esmay (who has bad feelings about BlogSpot), WeirdOfTheNews will soon have a new name, a new look, and a new (and much more reliable) home!

As soon as the new site is ready and working, I'll post a message here with the info and a link to it. Then onward ho! Thanks, Dean!
Lobbying Starts as Groups Foresee Supreme Court Vacancy

"Interest groups on the left and the right are beginning full-scale political campaigns - including fund-raising, advertising and major research - to prepare for what many expect to be a Supreme Court vacancy in the next several weeks. While none of the justices have said they plan to retire, any decision would traditionally be announced at the end of the court's term in late June," The New York Times reports here (free registration required).
EBay To Charge Sales Tax For European Sellers

EBay will now collect a "value added tax" (VAT) from sellers located in EU countries, the BBC reports here.
TiVo and NPR

This has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of this blog, but: NPR's Senior Technology Correspondent John McChesney came to my house last night and interviewed me. Not about blogs (or even blawgs), but about my TiVo. He happened to overhear me talking about TiVo while relaxing after work in a Public House a couple of weeks ago. He also happened to be considering doing a story about TiVo at the time. Voila! It was fun, and kind of cool. I'll post a link to the audio if it ever makes the air. (BTW: TiVo rules!)

Friday, June 06, 2003

Drug Dealer Ordered to Return Lottery Winnings

"A Texas man who won $5.5 million in the state lottery has been ordered to give it up because he bought the winning ticket with money made selling cocaine, federal officials said Friday." Reuters has the story here.
"Is Lying About the Reason For a War an Impeachable Offense?"

John W. Dean ponders that question in this article from Findlaw and CNN.
"We, the People of the State of . . . Mmm . . . Uh . . ."

Read the latest tomfoolery from California appellate justice William W. Bedsworth here.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Lawyers Say Flat Tire Leads To Woman's Murder

Wayne State College freshman Amy Stahlecker stopped to change a flat Firestone tire on her 1997 Ford Explorer. She ended up being picked up by Richard Cook, who later shot her to death. Cook is now serving a life sentence for first degree murder. Stahleker's parent filed a civil suit against Ford and Firestone, claiming that their defective product caused their daughter's death. The trial judge dismissed Ford and Firestone, holding that Nebraska law shields them from liability unless they had "specific and actual notice of danger" to Stahlecker. The Nebraska Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on June 3, the AP reports here. (Via
Judge Reviewed in Affirmative Action Case

Chief Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr. of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati allegedly manipulated the court's ruling in a case that upheld affirmative action in admissions policies at the University of Michigan, which is now under submission at the Supreme Court. First, Judge Martin allegedly appointed himself to the three-judge panel that originally heard the case, even though assignments are supposed to be random. Then, when the case was to be heard en banc, he delayed a request to have the full appeals court hear the case for five months, ensuring the exclusion of two conservative judges who were planning to retire, according to the review. The review did not recommend any punishment, the AP reports. UPDATE: Here's another view from a former clerk of Judge Martin's.
Judge Gets Two Years In Prison For Extorting Money From Attorney

Pittsburgh Judge Joseph Jaffe pleaded guilty in March to extortion for soliciting $13,000 from attorney Joel Persky in return for granting Persky's firm unfettered access to the judge. The firm had hundreds of asbestos lawsuits pending before the judge. Now Jaffe gets 27 months in prison, 3 years probation, and a $5,000 fine, the AP reports.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Supreme Court Justices Hit Road in 2002

"The Supreme Court justices traveled widely in 2002, teaching or speaking in Israel, Croatia, China, Denmark and elsewhere, reports released Wednesday show," the AP reports.
Rape Defendant Sues County For $20,000

If convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl, Kenneth Williams could be sentenced to 112 years to life in prison. It would be his third (and last) trip to state prison, authorities say. But what recently has upset the 41-year-old Williams is a dinner he was served on May 2 in the county jail. He claims he found a fly in his mashed potatoes. Williams is seeking $20,000 from San Diego to ease the "mental stress and anguish" he said finding the fly inflicted upon him, according to this. You can read Williams' claim here. (Via

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Court Excoriates Both Judge and Defense Counsel

Having just finished reading today's 21-page opinion from California's Fourth District Court of Appeal, all I can say is "WOW"! It's quite a page turner. Miguel Hernandez was injured at work. Later, a physician, Richard M. Paicius, who was treating him for pain resulting from two surgeries on the initial injury, allegedly injured him again. He sued for malpractice. Mr. Hernandez was an illegal alien, but that was irrelevant to his case and defendant's potential liability, as he did not claim any lost earnings. But the judge, in an extraordinary colloquy, refused to grant a motion excluding evidence of plaintiff's immigration status, and betrayed his own extreme bias in the process. The appellate court rakes the trial judge, James M. Brooks, over the coals.

But it gets worse. Plaintiff's expert witness, Dr. Aengst, was also defense counsel's client in several malpractice actions against him! Despite that (and despite her duty of loyalty to him), defense counsel, Constance A. Endelicato (a partner at her law firm), absolutely devastated Dr. Aengst on the witness stand, largely through her own improper testimony (based on inadmissible evidence) about the malpractice cases against him, including at least some in which she represented him! I have never seen stronger disapproval in an appellate court opinion. Not only did the Court order its clerk to report her to the state bar, but it ordered her to report herself! Hernandez v. Paicius is worth the time it will take to read it. And I'll bet you won't stop reading until the end!

Nigeria Stoning Appeal Adjourned

"A Nigerian woman sentenced to be stoned to death for having a child outside marriage has had her appeal against her conviction for adultery adjourned. Mother-of-four Amina Lawal, 30, was told her case will not be heard by the Islamic appeal court until August 27 -- two days after the date set for her execution," CNN reports here.
Court Strikes Down Video Games Regulation

"A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a St. Louis County law limiting children's access to violent or sexually explicit video games was unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overturned a ruling issued last year that supported the ordinance," the AP reports here. The court held that the ordinance is a regulation of speech based on content and does not survive strict scrutiny. You can access the Court's opinion at Interactive Digital v. St. Louis County.
Ninth Circuit Rules on Copyright in Silvers v. Sony Pictures

In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit ruled today that a copyright holder can assign the right to sue on an accrued cause of action for copyright infringement to a third party, even if it retains all the other rights, and the third party will have standing to sue. You can access the interesting opinion at Nancey Silvers v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.

Monday, June 02, 2003

High Court Hands Fox Copyright Defeat

"In a major narrowing of the Lanham Act, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled unanimously that the law allows the copying of public domain material without giving credit to its source," reports here. You can read the unanimous opinion, authored by Justice Scalia, here: Dastar Corp v. 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
"Two Lawyers Win (an Uncollectible) $9 Million"

"In a bittersweet victory, a husband-and-wife lawyer team have won a $9 million libel award against a former South Carolina television news director. That was the sweet part.
The bitter end for the plaintiffs came when the defense prevailed with a directed verdict acquitting the station that employed the news director, all but eliminating the couple's chances of collecting any of the money from the imprisoned defendant," The National Law Journal reports here. Apparently, news director Don Feldman engaged in some rather extreme behavior . . . .
Man Wins Right To Sue U.S. Government Over "Pot Car"

A Mexican national may sue the U.S. government for selling him a car with a hidden load of marijuana, and then arresting him when he tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in it, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the government's argument that it should be immune from Jose Aguado Cervantes' lawsuit was "so off the mark as to be embarrassing," Reuters reports here. You can access the Ninth Circuit's opinion here.
DC Comics Beat The Winter Brothers

In this closely watched case, the California Supreme Court held today that DC Comic's First Amendment rights trumped Johnny and Edgar Winter's statutory right of publicity in an interesting opinion you can read here. DC Comics had published a comic book featuring two characters called "The Autumn Brothers." Some of the Autumn Brothers' distinctive characteristics were recognizably taken from the real-life Winter brothers. But the Autumn Brothers were also "depicted as villainous half-worm, half-human offspring born from the rape of their mother by a supernatural worm creature that had escaped from a hole in the ground," according to Justice Chin. UPDATE: Here's an article on the case from The Recorder.
Tucker Max In The New York Times

The Times reports here that Mr. Max's troubles with Ms. Vermont may be shaping up to be a serious First Amendment battle over "prior restraint" of speech. When will this guy finally go away??? (I discussed Mr. Max and his infamous capers earlier here.)


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