May It Please The Court

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MIPTC Potpourri: Podcasts, Elections, Debates, Prop 64, Books, Blogs, Objections and Sharks

Every once in awhile you run into days when there are just too many good things to write about, and it's difficult to pick just one.  Today is one of those days.  So you can pick from the potpourri available, here's a laundry list of things that came across my desk in the last several days:

The Seventh Circuit is now podcasting its oral arguments.  Here's the iTunes link.  You can find the RSS feed here.  Why can't all courts make this available?

Deputy District Attorney Sheila Hanson is running for Orange County Superior Court Judge in the upcoming November election.  MIPTC is proud to endorse her, and notes that in the race for the seat, she's the only candidate rated by the Orange County Bar Association, where she received the Bar's highest rating.  The other two candidates declined to participate in the rating.

In the wake of the wave of law professorial blogging, the Yale Law Journal is soliciting submissions for an academic debate.

Kimberly Kralowec offers a wonderful review of two recent Prop 64 California Supreme Court decisions here and here.

Blogger Jeremy Blachman, who I met at the first BloggerCon conference and is a definite hoot, published a new book, the Anonymous Lawyer.  It's well worth your investment of time to read and once you get done laughing, and if you're a lawyer, more worth your investment to think about addressing the sarcasm behind every guffaw.  You can pick up the book here.

PinHawk publishes a wildly successful law blog digest, available by email.

Thanks to the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, I now have the entire California Evidence Code, with objections, downloaded to the Smart Digital card on my Pocket PC telephone.  The phone now works in Europe as well thanks to Samsung's newest GSM chip.  Now if I could only make my trial objections in French.

To top it off, there's today's news item detailing research that proves shark fins and human arms have common genes.  That's news?  Lawyers have known that for a long time.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 at 14:29 Comments (0) |

Improvements To MIPTC's Interface As You've Requested

You can surf May It Please The Court and discover many little tricks about the way things work on our site.  If you want the Cliff notes, we've got a primer for you.  We continue to improve the site to make it more user-friendly, frequently adding or changing the way things works thanks to your suggestions.  Two suggestions we were most pleased to implement were the Americans with Disabilities-compliant, text-only site and a PDA-friendly site for those of you who read MIPTC on your PDA. 

The latest additions to our long list of features and benefits are two items.  First, we added a small little button under each post called the "Email to a friend" icon.  Click on this button and, for example, you get this screen.  Fill it out, and the post is on its way to your nearest and dearest, or perhaps to someone who needs to have a point made.  Second, you can now download my vCard to your computer by clicking on the link under my photo, over there to the left.

We promise not to enroll you or your friend's email into a database (unless you click on the box at the bottom to be added in to our extensive list of email recipients) and we promise never to sell or divulge this email list to anyone else (even our sponsors) if you sign up.  We respect your privacy

There's one other change we've made to accommodate readers' requests to comment on various posts but at the same time prevent comment spam.  Comments are now open for  posts under 14 days old, and then the comment box automatically closes.  Don't worry, though, after the comments have closed, you can send me your comment, and I'll post it. 

Our next improvement will be the long-awaited and much-requested restart of periodic MIPTC emails to your desktop.  After we made several software changes in MIPTC and our law firm's software, we've suspended it for about six months or so.  Due to popular demand, however, it will be back shortly (read:  immediately after we get the last few bugs worked out).  And yes, for those of you who have asked, MIPTC will likewise resume its regular podcasts of its daily posts in the very near future. 

As always, your suggestions for improvement are welcome.  We really do listen and implement them.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 15:26 Comments (0) |

You May Get 25 Miles To The Zucchini, Or 25 To Life

Imagine this:  your car runs on leftover vegetable oil from your favorite neighborhood fast-food restaurant.  The restaurant is happy because they don't have to pay someone to haul the used vegetable oil away.  You're happy because you don't have to pay for regular fuel.  Your car reports that the jury's still out because its piston valves are a bit sticky from time to time.

The Sierra Club is both happy and unhappy.  On the one hand, you're not contributing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and hastening the ice cap meltdown.  On the other hand, however, you are contributing soot in the form of nitrogen oxides to the atmosphere (if there were a lot of you using vegetable oil, then it would be a very big problem).  Not surprisingly, the petroleum industry is decidedly unhappy:  they're not pumping high test into your car.

The USEPA is likewise unhappy, but they apparently don't care.  Using vegetable oil to power your car is illegal, but the USEPA has bigger fish to fry (no pun intended), and frankly, they don't have the resources to hunt you down and slap you with a ticket.

So, you're off and running on vegetable oil

But should you be?  It may benefit one part of the environment, and hurt another, both at the same time.  The monetary savings might be there, but there's a lot more work involved both with the conversion of diesel to vegetable oil, and then there's the decided lack of vegetable oil "gas" stations.  You can use a restaurant, but unless you've planned ahead, you may run out of fries. 

Then again, you could just go solar.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, July 24, 2006 at 23:18 Comments (0) |

MIPTC Book Review: The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine

Some time ago, lawyer-turned-writer Paul Levine forwarded a copy of his first Solomon vs. Lord novel, and I enjoyed the characters, Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, so much I couldn't wait for the next installment.  Paul's latest book, The Deep Blue Alibi, has been out for some time, but like most lawyers who read for pleasure, it takes me awhile to get through a novel.  It mostly takes a vacation to find that kind of time, but my advice is not to wait.  Get the book now and enjoy a top-notch story with crisp writing, great storytelling and legally accurate courthouse drama.

You won't regret it.  Anti-hero Steve Solomon is a Coconut Grove beach bum lawyer whose father resigned from the bench to avoid disbarment and isn't too far behind that possibility in his own practice.  Victoria Lord, on the other hand, is a glam Miami blue blood lawyer, with legs that distract most from her real asset:  a sharp legal mind full of ambition.  The contrast provides sparks from the Keys to the Courtroom, and you won't be able to put the book down.  It's a great read, and it won't frustrate lawyers with the typical mistakes most non-lawyer writers make. 

This sophomore novel is Paul's second of three Solomon vs. Lord books, with the third book, Kill All The Lawyers, scheduled to be released early next month.  I can't wait for this next book.  Paul also contributes to the blog, Naked Authors, another MIPTC favorite.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 13:17 Comments (0) |

IRS Can't Apply The Internal Revenue Code Retroactively

The Internal Revenue Service just lost a six billion dollar case with the stroke of a federal judge's pen.  The IRS had challenged the "Son of Boss" tax shelter invented by KPMG, and Judge T. John Ward ruled against the IRS' attempt to retroactively apply its revocation of the tax shelter.  Generally speaking the IRS code itself prevents its retroactive application, but when you're talking lost revenues in the multiples of billions and you're the IRS, well . . .  you try anyway.

According to the New York Times, the "Justice Department declined to comment on the ruling.  Donald L. Korb, the I.R.S.ís chief counsel, said in a statement that the agency 'was still studying the opinion.' "

I bet. 

The ruling may likewise affect KPMG's payment of $456 million in criminal fines for use of the tax shelter, called "Blips."  I'll make another bet here:  KPMG asks for a refund. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 11:16 Comments (0) |

MIPTC's Book Review: Thicker Than Oil

With the current crisis involving Israel, Lebanon and Syria, Rachel Bronson's book, Thicker Than Oil (available in hardcover), couldn't be more timely.  The well-researched and well-written book showcases Dr. Bronson's depth of knowledge of the area and helps explain the groundwork for this crisis and the entire Middle Eastern mentality.  Admittedly, MITPC has not always known the questions to ask, but Thicker Than Oil lays them out in a logical and rational fashion that allows the everyday American to finally get a handle on cultures foreign to our own.

Depending on your politics, you may not agree with Dr. Bronson's conclusions, but you will have a more thorough understanding of the interrelationship of US foreign policy with International Law and the vagaries of the cultures so few of us understand.  Dr. Bronson's experience as a Senior Fellow and Director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

If you have an opinion on the Middle East and you haven't read Thicker Than Oil, then your opinion can only be uninformed. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 13:30 Comments (0) |

Unmarried Couples Legally Live Together In North Carolina - First Time In Over 200 Years

Possibly some 148,000 people in North Carolina sighed a collective sigh of relief last week, but it's equally possible they didn't even know they were violating a state law.  According to the Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer, there was a law in that state preventing unmarried couples from living together.  It was enacted 201 years ago.  Estimates are there were 148,000 people involved in allegedly violating that law, even though they likely didn't know it.

Surprisingly, seven people were convicted of violating that law between 1997 and 2003, according to the newspaper.  Side note here:  how an odd number of people could be convicted leads to two possible conclusions:  either one person was wrongly convicted or the law is not limited to couples.  You figure it out.

One of those unmarried people decided to challenge that law, however.  When Debora Lynn Hobbs, a Pender County emergency dispatcher for the Sheriff's Department quit her job over Sheriff Carson Smith's ultimatum that she get married or leave the job, she sued to declare the law unconstitutional.  Local Superior Court Judge Benjamin Alford overturned the law as unconstitutional.  The North Carolina Attorney General is reviewing the decision and considering an appeal. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 11:39 Comments (0) |

Coast to Coast Internet Radio Trains Lawyers To Use Legal Software

For you technically  challenged lawyers and technically savvy lawyers, what do you need to know and how do you get the training for the technology that will make practicing law easier and quicker for you?

Join me and my Coast to Coast co-host and fellow blogger Robert Ambrogi as we turn to our guests Todd Sons, IT Director for Jackson Walker, Adriana Linares, founder of LawTech Partners and Andy Adkins, Director of the Legal Technology Institute at the University of Florida, Levin College of Law for information you won't want to miss.  Click on the icon below and give a listen.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, July 21, 2006 at 14:15 Comments (0) |

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