May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.
Should We Reconsider Case Management Conferences?Court this morning was not interesting. Boring, in a word. And expensive. But it didn't have to be.
Unfortunately, it was.
Let's look at it this way. Years ago, cases in California used to take five years to get to trial, maybe more. The people revolted. The legislature reacted.
We got Fastrack.
Cases are now tried in an average of eighteen months or less. Most courts hope for less. In fact, most judges pretty much push the attorneys to get cases handled in just over a year.
And that's fine. Good for the people.
Not necessarily, however, good for the clients. Take, for example, a fellow attorney who drove two hours this morning to appear in Court for three minutes. For a case management conference. All that happened was that the Court found out a little (very little) about what was happening in the case, and then set a further status conference.
So the attorney could drive another two hours for three minutes in front of the judge. But you argue that the attorney could have appeared telephonically. Not in this court.
So the attorney gets to do it all over again, and the client gets to pay for it all over again. Four hours for three minutes. Indeed, I had the same experience myself, but I only had to drive 20 minutes each way.
As Pink Floyd Would Say,Snow in the mountains. Cool weather in the desert. Surfers riding the waves.
And clean air. The best we've ever had.
When I moved here from Iowa, I spent four lonely days in a brown LA haze. It's gotten much better, which I can tell just by looking up.
It's also nice to be able to breathe deep.
Can You Say That On The Internet?All lawyers have taken con law (despite what you may be thinking, that's short for "constitutional"). So, to one degree or another, we're all qualified to comment on the subject. With that qualification out of the way, here goes.
How do you rebel if you're unsatisfied with a particular product? In this instance, our hero and heroine were not happy with the company that sprayed siding on their home. So unhappy that they started a website to voice their complaints.
What did it get them? A lawsuit.
Why? Alvis, the spray-on siding manufacturer, thinks that items posted on the homeowners' website infringes the company's trademark, that the homeowner website, spraysiding.com, is too similar to Alvis' website, sprayonsiding.com, and that the homeowners are disparaging Alvis.
We've all heard about the First Amendment right to free speech. So what's going on here? Can't the homeowners say what they want?
Well, there's a fine line between free speech opinions and disparagement. Basically, you can say what you want as long as you don't disparage someone else.
How's that for a lawyer's answer? Think about it this way: it's a fact-specific inquiry. Do the homeowners statements look more like an opinion or more like they're maligning a business? Are the statements true? Would you be confused between the two sites?
If you've clicked on the links, you know that there's virtually no way you're going to be confused. You also probably understand that the homeowners are upset with the quality of the company's work.
What are we going to get out of this case? Likely some good guidelines about what can and can't be said on competing websites. Stay tuned folks, this will be an interesting one to watch.
We Have Met The Enemy, And It's The BlogYou know I don't cover celebrity legal news (an oxymoron itself). I live behind the Orange Curtain.
Really. I don't get out much.
So it is something for me to pass this one along to you: the Peterson trial blog. OK, I will admit that it's on Court TV, so that should tell you something.
It's the Armageddon of our times, the end of the world.
The Peterson Trial Blog? There's someone actually blogging about this stuff? Come on. Let's get some real news coverage.
That's just like telling a cop when you get pulled over for speeding that she should go out and catch some real criminals. Reporters don't like it. Apparently someone(s) does (do), though, because the Peterson Blog got published.
So why am I writing about it? Well, I am in San Francisco today and tomorrow.
Maybe that explains it.
The Cardboard Candidate WinsWhew! It's over. The election, that is. Lawyers didn't riot in the streets or clog up the court system with last-minute challenges, so we collectively came out a winner.
Here's a short and unscientific election round-up for you.
That first link is the San Jose Mercury News gloating over some exit poll prediction mistakes by bloggers. Be careful there, old-school newspaper. There's a biblical adage about that - Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. But, I'm sure the Mercury News has never predicted an election incorrectly.
Then there's my friend, Tom Umberg, whose wife campaigned for him using a 6'1" cardboard cutout picture of him. As a reservist, he got called up to serve at Gitmo during the election, and couldn't campaign from Cuba.
To round things up, I've now got my work cut out (no pun intended) for me given the passage of Proposition 64. We'll be reviewing the cases we're defending to see if we can drop-kick any environmental 17,200 claims.
Oh yeah. Bush won.
It left some wondering why we need a Democratic party.
New Look, Same News & ObservationsIf you're a frequent reader, then you've likely noticed some new changes to the site. The blog/blawg now sports my photo. As my grandfather would say, something to put up in the basement (can you tell I grew up on the Right coast) to scare the rats away. God rest his soul.
Clicking on the photo or the About link will take you to the "some assembly required" (a.k.a. "instructions") page, where you can get some how-to's on the way this site works. Some things there you may not have known, and may be able to do without if you're a power user.
MIPTC® has added the little "®" symbol because the blog is now the proud owner of not just one, but two registered trademarks.
Plus, the MIPTC® blawg has added a completely new feature, Podcasts. Now, you can listen to these posts, and if you'd like, download them and take the audio podcasts with you on your iPod or your Pocket PC. Yep, we're podcasting (plawdcasting?). Blawg on!
Technology. Ya gotta love it.
P.S. Stay tuned. There are more improvements to come.
Oh yes. Ahem. A major announcement, too, in the next several weeks.
The Hulk vs. Snow WhiteYou might be looking for a little comic relief today. I know I am.
Then it's fitting that Marvel Comics sued Disney over the ownership rights to its intellectual property in some of its characters.
I use that term "intellectual property" loosely when referring to comics. But, Marvel apparently takes it very seriously.
I mean, it's Spider-man vs. Mickey Mouse.
X-Men vs. Cruella De Vil.
The Hulk vs. Maleficent (Ok, she's the stand-in for Snow White).
Millions of dollars seriously. Apparently, Marvel did sell the rights to its characters, and Disney may have ended up with them, but Marvel now claims it didn't grant the rights to Disney. Now it wants the millions that Disney made with Marvel's characters.
I can't understand why Marvel is concerned about teaming up Thor and Captain America with Peter Pan.
They all fly, right?
Imagine the possibilities.
I've always thought of Davey Crockett as a superhero.
Should We Expect Bias In Arbitrators?You probably aren't thinking about the arbitration provisions in your various contracts right now. But others are. In more ways than you probably care to know.
Here's the quickie rundown, though, just in case you're dying to know. Or not dying, as is more likely the case.
Just before Halloween, the Ninth Circuit decided Fidelity Federal Bank v. Durga Ma Corp. I know, that citation means nothing to you.
This may help: if your arbitration agreement says that each side in the dispute gets to pick one arbitrator and then those two arbitrators pick a third, don't be surprised if the arbitrator picked by each side is biased.
In fact, if you don't object or require disclosure by the other side's arbitrator, you can't set aside the arbitration award if you later discover such bias.
There's a shocker.
That makes perfect sense to me. If I get the chance to pick an arbitrator, I'm going to pick one I know. If the guy on the other side can't figure that one out ....