Law Students Can Be Real Scumbags

The law school was evacuated today due to a fire alarm.  I just got this email:

As the building was being vacated this afternoon because of the fire alarms, two laptops were stolen from the Moot Court office.  A third laptop has just been stolen from the Law Library.

The Moot Court office is somewhat hidden on the 4th floor.  There’s no reason for people who aren’t law students to be up there.  So the odds are that law students stole these laptops.  What a bunch of scumbags.  And morons.  Who the hell jeopardizes their legal career over a couple of mediocre laptops?

Lesbian Teens Told By School Officials To Go To The Prom With Guys

Kind of misses the point of being a lesbian, doesn’t it?

School officials in a rural Mississippi county told a lesbian student to get "guys" to take her and her girlfriend to a high school prom and warned the girls against slow dancing with each other because that could "push people's buttons," according to documents filed Tuesday in federal court.

Source: Hearing set in lesbian teen's suit to force prom - Yahoo! News

What Would Jesus Do? Oppose Iqbal and Twombly, Apparently.

I have to agree that the “vague and malleable” standards invite judges to substitute personal feelings for legal reasoning.  Glad to see that there are some conservative groups out there who are working to repair the system.

The conservative Alliance Defense Fund is lining up in opposition to a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that changed the standard for filing most civil lawsuits -- a move that aligns the Christian litigation group with some unlikely allies.

Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for Congress to override last year's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, as well as a similar decision in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly in 2007. They have the support of a coalition of liberal groups, including consumer advocates, trial lawyers and civil rights organizations, all of whom say it's become more difficult to avoid having their claims thrown out of federal court prior to discovery. On the other side, business groups have supported the rulings.

In a letter to lawmakers, Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Gary McCaleb writes that his group represents both plaintiffs and defendants, so its objection is not that bringing a lawsuit has become more or less difficult. "Rather," he writes, "our concern is that vague, malleable rules are bad news when it comes to orderly, reasoned processes."

Source: - Christian Group Joins Campaign on Pleading Standard

Lesbian Teen sues high school because it canceled her prom

I suspect this is going to end up on many final exams in Con Law next year…

JACKSON, Miss. -- An 18-year-old lesbian student who wanted to take her girlfriend to her senior prom is asking a federal judge to force her Mississippi school district reinstate the dance it canceled rather than let the couple attend.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi on Thursday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oxford on behalf of 18-year-old Constance McMillen, who said she faced some unhappy classmates after the Itawamba County School District said it wouldn't host the April 2 prom.

Source: Lesbian teen sues to force school to hold prom -

Supreme Court Adopts The “Nerve Center” Test

Civil Procedure textbooks across the country are now out of date.

The Supreme Court overturned that decision, sending the case back to federal court.

"We conclude that the phrase 'principal place of business' refers to the place where the corporation's high level officers direct, control and coordinate the corporation's activities," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote. "Lower federal courts have often metaphorically called that place the corporation's 'nerve center.' We believe that the 'nerve center' will typically be found at a corporation's headquarters."

Source: - In Unanimous Ruling, Supreme Court Says Business HQ Is Where Executives Are

Toyota’s cars are perfectly safe – it’s all just a big union and trial lawyer conspiracy

Hmmm.. Republican governor is facing a reelection.  He defends a big corporation, and bashes unions and trial lawyers.  No surprise there.  

Washington -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended Toyota Motor Corp., suggesting that "union activists" and others are pushing criticism of the automaker.

. . . .

"The company has taken big steps to enhance its reputation for quality and to repair vehicles," Perry wrote. "It does sometimes appear, however, that the negative news is being encouraged by plaintiffs' trial lawyers, union activists and those interested in cutting into Toyota's market share."

Source: Texas governor backs Toyota | | The Detroit News

How I wish that Rick Perry would just “get on down the road.”  Bonus points if you get the reference.

Does “No Drama, No Dicks, No Douchebags” hiring policy run afoul of any laws?

Personally, I’d love to read a lawsuit in which a plaintiff alleged he or she wasn’t hired for being a dick or a douchebag. 

As DICE is a business conference, Pitchford was also quite open about what's important to Gearbox as a studio -- he also shared his Gamertag ("DuvalMagic"). He shared components of what he thinks are important to the company's employees, like aggressive profit sharing, milestone bonuses and discretionary merit based rewards. He also mentioned a crass, but wise, tenet of the studio's hiring process: "No drama, no dicks, no douchebags."

Source: Borderlands sells 3 million units; Pitchford discusses Gearbox hiring policy, Gamertag

Casting Call For Litigators Who Would Like To Blog

Are you too busy litigating to run your own blog, but you’d still like to write a blog post now and again?  Then get in contact with me.  I’m about to launch a blog written by and for litigators.  Lawyers of all stripes are welcome; this blog will be about how to litigate, not who to litigate for.

I’m looking for lawyers who (a) can commit to write four substantive (500 words or more) posts per year; (b) who have tips, tricks, traps, complaints, or war stories to share; and (c) consider litigating to be their calling in life.  If this sounds like something you’re interested in, then drop me a line at justinian at 

Are Juries Getting More Skeptical Due To The Recession

Quite possibly.

"I think with what is going on in the country, there are a lot of angry people," said retired Broadway actor Sammy Williams. "Money is such an issue and to give money to someone for results of a case, it's really important that they're getting it for a real reason, an important reason."

Source: Weighed down by recession woes, jurors are becoming disgruntled -

The Prempro Video Wyeth Doesn’t Want You To See

Apparently, Wyeth is asking a federal judge to order attorneys to remove this video from YouTube.  After watching the video, I can see why Wyeth has its knickers in a twist:

Kudos to the attorneys who produced this video.  It’s top-notch and not cheesy at all.  The only revision I’d make to it would be to put the peoples’ names at the bottom of the screen, and not at the very beginning.  But this is definitely a video the attorneys should be proud of.

My favorite part was when the self-described conservative jury foreman called Wyeth “despicable.”  Conservative jurors are not a death knell for plaintiffs – you just have to speak their language.  Note how he talked about how Wyeth abandoned their moral obligations.

Check Out My Most Popular Post

In this six years I’ve been blogging about the civil justice system, I’ve never written a post that has generated so much discussion in the blogosphere.  Apparently, I tapped into a vein of hostility towards self-described social media experts.  Here’s the first paragraph:

Most people who know me think I’m a quiet, unassuming, laid-back guy.  And I am.  Until I reach my level of tolerance.  Tonight, I reached my level of tolerance for snake oil salesmen who bill themselves as social media experts for lawyers.  Perhaps snake oil salesmen is too kind.  People who want to charge lawyers money for teaching them about social media are bullshit peddlers who hope to exploit the (presumed) ignorance of the (presumed) rich.

Source: Justinian Lane - Commentary on law, politics, and tort "reform.": An Uncensored Discussion About Social Media for Lawyers

Blogging has been light here because (a) I have a bad cold, and (b) I’ve got finals coming up.  I have one in a few hours, as a matter of fact.  Perhaps if I cough and sneeze a lot, enough students will rush themselves to get out of there and I’ll rock the curve that way.

This is why you should hire a lawyer, not a law professor

Nesson may be a brilliant Harvard law professor, but it appears that he’s a piss-poor lawyer.  Keep this in mind if you ever consider hiring a law professor to represent you in a case.  

That was the backdrop, but when Nesson and his team stepped up to litigate the issue of fair use, what did they offer to Gertner? "A truly chaotic defense," she calls it, along with legal papers that "can only be described as perfunctory."

It was also one that reached much too far. "Rather than tailoring his fair use defense to suggest a modest exception to copyright protections, Tenenbaum mounted a broadside attack that would excuse all file-sharing for private enjoyment." By striking so broadly at the idea of copyright, Tenenbaum took the matter out of Gertner's hands. "Whether the widespread, unlimited file sharing that the record suggests he engaged in benefits the public more than our current copyright protections is a balance to be struck by Congress, not this Court," she concluded.

In addition, she singled out Nesson for criticism in a footnote to the memo. "Defense counsel repeatedly missed deadlines, ignored rules, engaged in litigation over conduct that was plainly illegal (namely, the right to tape counsel and the Court without consent), and even went so far as to post the illegal recordings to the Web." Examples of Nesson's bad behavior in the case "are legion."

Source: How Team Tenenbaum missed a chance to shape P2P fair use law

$5 million dollar lawsuit against Burger King – over three text messages

First, read this, and then I’ll tell you what I hate:

Espinal's contention: Burger King "caused actual harm" by harassing her with the "cryptic" messages, according the lawsuit. Espinal was "subjected to aggravation" and made to pay for receiving them. Now she is seeking -- get this -- $5 million in relief.

God bless the American legal system.

In April 2008, Espinal's phone beeped. The text was labeled "99143 " instead of showing a return number, and the sender seemed, well, kind of bossy. "Kick it up a notch with a loaded steakhouse burger," it read. "Try one today at BK."

Source: Whopper of a Lawsuit: Woman Wants Burger King to Pay for Text Messages - Miami News - Riptide 2.0

I hate the fact that scummy PI attorneys will file bullshit lawsuits like this just to get attention.  I also hate the fact that the media covers them, but doesn’t cover when they get thrown out of court. 

The Government Requested GPS Info From Sprint Alone Over 8 Million Times IN A Year

That and other particularly interesting bits of information are available at the link below.  Maybe we are living in a surveillance state…

Cox Communications, the third largest cable provider in the United States, is the only company I've found that has made its surveillance price list public. Thus, we are able to learn that the company charges $2,500 for the first 60 days of a pen register/trap and trace, followed by $2,000 for each additional 60 days, while it charges $3,500 for the first 30 days of a wiretap, followed by $2,500 for each additional 30 days. Historical data is much cheaper -- 30 days of a customer's call detail records can be obtained for a mere $40.
Comcast does not make their price list public, but the company's law enforcement manual was leaked to the Internet a couple years ago. Based on that 2007 document, it appears that Comcast charges at least $1000 for the first month of a wiretap, followed by $750 for each month after that.


"[M]y major concern is the volume of requests. We have a lot of things that are automated but that's just scratching the surface. One of the things, like with our GPS tool. We turned it on the web interface for law enforcement about one year ago last month, and we just passed 8 million requests. So there is no way on earth my team could have handled 8 million requests from law enforcement, just for GPS alone. So the tool has just really caught on fire with law enforcement. They also love that it is extremely inexpensive to operate and easy, so, just the sheer volume of requests they anticipate us automating other features, and I just don't know how we'll handle the millions and millions of requests that are going to come in.
-- Paul Taylor, Electronic Surveillance Manager, Sprint Nextel.

Source: slight paranoia: 8 Million Reasons for Real Surveillance Oversight

Congratulations to the Center for Justice & Democracy

Today I got a wonderful e-mail from Joanne Doroshow, the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy.  Joanne is on my short-list of heroes, so I’m extremely pleased to share the following news with you:

  • CJ&D’s blog, ThePopTort, has for the second year in a row been selected as one of the 100 best legal blawgs by the American Bar Association.  You can help turn that good news to great news by voting for The PopTort in its individual category.  First, register here (it’s quick and free.)   Second, simply click here and vote for it.  I’ll wait patiently while you go register and vote for it.  This is a big honor for the CJ&D, as there is a lot of competition to be in the top 100 legal blawgs by the ABA.
  • The CJ&D has also launched its own Facebook page, with lots of great photos including some hilarious scenes outside its window in Lower Manhattan.   You may already be a Facebook fan of ThePopTort, but now CJ&D has a page, too.  Why not become a Facebook fan of both ThePopTort and the CJ&D today?
  • You can also start following Joanne’s excellent blog posts at the Huffington Post.

Again, hearty congratulations are in order to Joanne and the fine crew at the Center for Justice & Democracy.  They’re one of the finest organizations fighting to protect the civil justice system from the millionaires & billionaires behind the tort “reform” movement.

Exposing Hypocrites By Attempting to Ban Divorce – Thumbs Up

If you don’t support gay marriage, that’s fine.  But don’t lie and say you oppose it because you want to protect marriage.  If you really want to protect marriage, you’d be all over this attempt to ban divorce:

In a movement that seems ripped from the pages of Comedy Channel writers, John Marcotte wants to put a measure on the ballot next year to ban divorce in California.

The effort is meant to be a satirical statement after California voters outlawed gay marriage in 2008, largely on the argument that a ban is needed to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. If that's the case, then Marcotte reasons voters should have no problem banning divorce.

"Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more," the 38-year-old married father of two said.

Source: Activist seeks divorce ban in Calif. - Life-

Greedy Bastards Scuttle What Could Have Been The Ultimate Web Device

I’d have bought at least two of these.  I sincerely hope that Arrington and the rest of the Crunch boys sue the “shareholders” into oblivion.

It was so close I could taste it. Two weeks ago we were ready to publicly launch the CrunchPad. The device was stable enough for a demo. It went hours without crashing. We could even let people play with the device themselves – the user interface was intuitive enough that people “got it” without any instructions. And the look of pure joy on the handful of outsiders who had used it made the nearly 1.5 year effort completely worth it.

Our plan was to debut the CrunchPad on stage at the Real-Time Crunchup event on November 20, a little over a week ago. We even hoped to have devices hacked together with Google Chrome OS and Windows 7 to show people that you could hack this thing to run just about anything you want. We’d put 1,000 of the devices on pre-sale and take orders immediately. Larger scale production would begin early in 2010.

And then the entire project self destructed over nothing more than greed, jealousy and miscommunication.

Source: The End Of The CrunchPad

Judge punishes bank by canceling mortgage

Reading this article, I got the feeling that the bank wasn’t interested in working with the court, but instead wanted to have things done its way.  Looks like the bank learned that the Judge is the boss.

The judge concluded that the banks' conduct was "wholly unsupportable at law or in equity, greatly egregious and so completely devoid of good faith that equity cannot be permitted to intervene on its behalf."

But he went further than rejecting the foreclosure.

If the case was simply dismissed, he wrote, the court "cannot be assured that Plaintiff will not repeat this course of conduct."

Also Spinner said that monetary sanctions were "not likely to have a salubrious or remedial effect" and, in any case, would not benefit the homeowner.

Imposing sanctions would bring little benefit to the homeowner, the judge wrote, leaving the "appropriate equitable disposition" of canceling the debt and discharging the mortgage.

Thus, he concluded that the original principal amount of $292,500 "should be cancelled, voided and set aside," the mortgage be discharged and the bank barred from any attempt to collect on the note.

Source: - Judge Blasts Bank's Foreclosure Conduct and Cancels Mortgage

I don’t often agree with Posner, but I don’t want him dead. Unlike this nutjob

I’m sure some people will accuse me of being a liberal socialist Nazi communist dictator… but I just don’t think that death threats should be protected speech.

"These Judges deserve to be killed," declared Harold "Hal" Turner on his Web site on June 2. He was attacking three federal judges who earlier that day had upheld Chicago-area bans on handguns.

By the end of the month, Turner was in handcuffs. On Dec. 1, he's scheduled to go to trial in Brooklyn, N.Y., in a federal case that will test First Amendment protections online.

. . . .

On the day the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the gun bans in National Rifle Association v. Chicago, Turner went online to accuse the three 7th Circuit judges -- Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner and William Bauer -- of being "traitors." He wrote, "Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty." The next day, he posted the judges' names, photos, phone numbers and work addresses. He provided a photo and a map of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, where the court is located, with arrows pointing to "anti-truck bomb barriers." He added, "Behold these devils."

Source: - Trial Over Death Threats Against Federal Judges Could Test Free Speech Rules Online

Looks like the legal profession will have to deal with another group of people who shouldn’t be lawyers

There are a lot of good reasons to be a lawyer, and even more bad reasons.  One of the bad reasons is that you’re looking for a good job:

The number of people taking the Law School Admission Test is at an unprecedented high, and the recession is a likely reason. But some are questioning whether bad economic times are a sufficient reason to go to law school.

"We assume that the economic downturn is causing more people to think about graduate education, but we have no way to prove that it is," Wendy Margolis, director of communications for the Law School Admission Council, tells the ABA Journal. She also points out that there are more people in the 20- to 24-year-old age group, and that could also be driving up the numbers.

Source: LSAT Test-Takers Jump by Nearly 20%; Should They Consider the Alternatives? - News - ABA Journal

Being a lawyer is a calling.  You either have it in you, or you don’t.  If you’re just going to law school because you don’t know what else to do, you shouldn’t be going.  Otherwise, you’re just going to end up hating the practice of law and end up doing something else, but with a J.D.  I’ve got some bad news for you guys: Just because you decide you don’t want to be a lawyer anymore doesn’t mean you can stop paying for your student loans.