May It Please The Court

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There are 2034 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 181

The SODDI Defense Goes Corporate With Shrug And Point

Friends of mine who are criminal lawyers shorthand their clients' defenses. One of those shorthand references is SODDI: "Some Other Dude Did It," or slang as noted by Black's Law Dictionary.

It appears the defense has now gone
corporate, or perhaps a variant of it called "shrug and point." The so-called "Dumb CEO Defense" is just that - a shrug of the shoulders, coupled with a point of the finger.

You know. SODDI.

It worked for former Cendant CEO Walter Forbes. After a six-month trial and two months of deliberations in the largest securities case ever, a Hartford, CT jury deadlocked on the 16 counts against Forbes earlier this month.

It didn't work for his second-in-command, vice chairman E. Kirk Shelton, who was convicted.

Over what? According to the article, "Cendant's stock plummeted on April 15, 1998, from $41 to $7.50, wiping out $14 billion in shareholder value in a day. In what was the largest accounting scandal at the time, the company later restated $571 million in income." Cendant paid $2.83 billion to settle the shareholders' class action, and its accountants, Ernst & Young, paid $341 million to make the largest securities settlement.

Now that the dust has settled, Forbes is staring at the possibility of a retrial and his assistant, Shelton, turning "state's evidence" to lessen the penalties for the conviction.

Stay tuned for the sequel.

Podcast  Vidcast

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 14:46 Comments (0) |

Death To Comment Spam

The Google Team has come up with a standard to eliminate the effectiveness of comment spam in blogs.

Sure, you may never see comment spam because it's usually buried back on the 50th archive page of this blog, but it is inappropriate nonetheless. The comment spammers have leapt on the back of this blog and others, attempting to gain from the goodwill that you've created as blog readers. Hat tip to Scoble, via the blog maven.

The comment spammers add links to this blog and others, which take advantage of the high page rankings enjoyed by some blogs. Well, no more.

MIPTC is adding the "no follow" attribute to the "posted by" section of our comment fields, so the comment spammers will die a slow death.

It's effect on you? Absolutely none. Click away, enjoy the site and comment to your heart's content.

We'll all sleep better tonight knowing that Viagra spam just got taken down a notch.

Podcast  Vidcast

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 00:13 Comments (0) |

Reality TV In Thailand Means You Can Watch Death Row

Just in case you've been thinking about traveling to Thailand, you may not be ready for this reality TV show. It's the last minutes of death-row inmates (up to, but not including execution).

Which, by the way, is by firing squad. You should be able to see the "TV show" on the Thailand Department of Corrections website.

And you guessed it, Amnesty International is none too happy about it.

No word whether you'll be able to tune in on Thai TV or whether it will just be available online.

Jail: the ultimate reality TV.

Podcast  Vidcast

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 10:42 Comments (0) |

General Counsel Up In Arms Over Broad JAMS Prounouncement

MIPTC reported JAMS' new policy of not enforcing employment contracts that contained bans on class action suits.

Back in November.

So what's the news now? Apparently, steam has been building since JAMS' decision, and in-house corporate counsel (subscription required) are complaining louder and louder.

So much so that we can expect a legal challenge to the JAMS ban. As quoted in the article above, "John DeMarco, general counsel of Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises Inc., criticized JAMS'[ ] new policy at a November corporate counsel conference in San Francisco. Interviewed for th[e] article, DeMarco accused JAMS of trying to 'insert itself as a guardian of social policy' by interfering with the freedom to contract. Lowe doesn't include mandatory arbitration clauses in its contracts, but DeMarco said that if his company turned to arbitration in the future, it wouldn't use JAMS."

Consumer organizations, however, are pleased. Plaintiffs' lawyers are too, and they're trying to get other arbitration groups to adopt the same ban. That worries some General Counsel.

Money talks, and dollars walk. Corporate America will vote with dollars, and not only stop using JAMS, but also challenge JAMS' policy ban. Among other reasons, I would expect the challenge to be based on freedom of contract and due process.

General Counsel argue that JAMS arbitrators are no longer judges; they're arbitrators who decide each case on its merits, not issue pronouncements on broad legal principles.

That's an area that falls within the province of sitting judges.

Podcast  Vidcast

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, January 17, 2005 at 12:31 Comments (0) |

Copyrighting Content Confuses Copiers

On the heels of yesterday's post comes the issue of RSS feeds as discussed by blog neighbor Denise Howell.

She asks the question whether an RSS feed is an implied license or whether it alters an express license. She notes that the Trademark Blog has yanked its feed from Bloglines (no link intentional). Denise likewise points to Dennis Kennedy's perspective, who plans now to preemptively add ads to his RSS feeds since Bloglines is making money from his feed.

Bag and Baggage and MIPTC both utilize the "Some Rights Reserved" Creative Commons license. That means you can copy content as long as you attribute the content to the author, but you can't use the content for commercial purposes.

Apparently, Bloglines missed that part for some blogs.

At least MIPTC isn't so popular on Bloglines that the company feels the need to place advertisements on their version of my feed. To me, the Bloglines feed looks like a feed, and the site links directly to MIPTC, and that's fine with me. Not so for other blogs.

RSS feeds push content from blogs, and with that push, all the rights and responsibilities that come along with it. MIPTC will likely add some type of copyright caveat to the feed now, given this issue. I'm also going to follow Dennis Kennedy's advice and include ads in the RSS feeds, Podcast feeds and Vidcast feeds.

Any sponsors out there? (Hint, hint,

Podcast  Vidcast

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 16:31 Comments (0) |

Drawing The Line Between Blogging And Advertising

Blogging as a phenomenon is reaching epic proportions. Given the coverage of blogs by institutional media, more and more people now understand what a blog is. Last night, I ran into the Dean of one of our local law schools, who told me about blogs.

It's a refreshing change.

I also ran across Riddle v. Celebrity Cruises, a case that debated whether pop-up ads violated Utah's anti-spam act. In two words, they don't. Unfortunately.

We'll have to write our legislative officials on that one. But the juxtaposition of the two events got me thinking.

Are blogs advertising?

Certainly, you can advertise on blogs. You can even have someone else build you a blog.

What about MIPTC? Yes, it provides a vehicle for people to get to know me without having to meet me, and I suspect under that definition qualifies as advertising. Somewhat surprisingly it has resulted in clients. At least there are those who haven't turned and run after reading this stuff. It helps pay the bills, too, along with those hefty quarterly checks from (MIPTC hasn't received its first check yet). But then again, the same can be said for most newspapers and other mainstream media.

Subscriptions and advertising pay for the people that bring us news and opinion.

It would be difficult to identify an altruistic blog, with no ax to grind. I'm not sure I could. Does that mean we're all advertising? In the broadest sense of the word, I'd have to vote yes.

Bloggers will argue (anything), so I'd be interested to read others' opinions on these points.

If you blog, do you advertise at least your point of view? Can any of us be truly neutral?

If you read blogs, do you consider the blogger's perspective as you're reading?

Is blogging advertising? Is the ad just restricted to that rectangle at the top of this page?

Podcast  Vidcast

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, January 15, 2005 at 11:34 Comments (7) |

End Of The Morning Ritual?

When I lived in Italy, every morning my classmates and professors would shuffle down to the cafe and indulge themselves with an espresso and a cigarette while crammed shoulder-to-shoulder at the bar.

As of Monday this ritual may be a scene from the past. The Italian government instituted a national ban on smoking in public places including cafes, bars, restaurants and night clubs.

Although one third of Italians smoke, a surprising majority supported the ban. I can only believe that even the smokers having dinner with their families want to enjoy the flavors of the food without every bite tasting like the inside of an ashtray.

The ban leaves restaurant and bar owners in charge of policing patrons, however, and requires them to call the authorities to report violators. The effectiveness of the measure remains to be seen.

Two of my most memorable Italian smoking memories are sitting in the "no smoking" section of my local pizzeria watching one of the regular customers light up a smoke. When he asked for an ashtray, the waitress gladly served one up.

Then, there was the Italian police officer casually leaning against a post, lighting up and puffing away. When I looked up, I noticed that he was standing directly under a "No Smoking" sign in the Milan airport.

If these are the enforcers, then my guess is that the rules may have changed, but everything remains the same …

Podcast  Vidcast

Printer friendly page Posted by Michel J. Ayer on Friday, January 14, 2005 at 12:35 Comments (0) |

Reel Reviews - Paris Texas

As you know, Friday is movie day. Here's MWGblog's review.

Reel Review #21: “I knew these people… These two people. They were in love with each other. The girl was… very young, about seventeen or eighteen, I guess. And the guy was… quite a bit older. He was kind of raggedy and wild. And she was very beautiful, you know?” A great Wim Wenders film and the Palme d’Or winner at Cannes in 1984. I go a bit longer on this one only because of my pure enthusiasm for this great film. Check it out.

Paris Texas - Amazon


The monologue


Printer friendly page Posted by Michael Geoghegan on Friday, January 14, 2005 at 10:14 Comments (0) |

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