May It Please The Court

RSS Feeds
MIPTC Author
About J. Craig Williams

May It Please The Court
by Leonard Rivkin
Barnes & Noble CLE Books
Latest Blogs
12/4/2008 - How to Get Sued

1/5/2005 - Your City Leaders Aren't Listening To You

12/29/2004 - Niagara Falls? Slowly I Turned, Step by Step, Inch by Inch.

12/25/2004 - Season's Greetings

This Month's Posts
Links of Interest [more]
Quote of the Day - I'm out of ammunition on this. - James Stockdale, during 1992 Vice Presidential debate, concluding his answer to a question about health policy
Claim Your Profile on Avvo
There are 2034 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 200

The Debates and Why We Hire Lawyers

No one at the concert talked about the debates tonight. In fact, I'd have to say that Peter White was great. Not quite the Hollywood Bowl, but the almost-finished-being-remodeled Hyatt Newporter always puts on a good show in the outdoor amphitheater.

But people did talk today.

About the debates.

Right. A new subject for MIPTC. I generally steer away from politics. And religion. But, I'm going to make an exception tonight.

So, how did George W. do? Well, how did Kerry do?

Depends on who you ask.

But that's not what this post is about. I have a few observations to offer to both candidates, and they have only a little to do with performance.

Let's look at presidential fashion first. Why did Bush wear a blue tie?

His handlers weren't paying attention. The background was blue, and Kerry sported a red tie, correctly hitting the old red, white and blue combination with his tie, shirt and background.

Bush, on the other hand, was better lit. Check out his shoulders, and compare them - look again - to Kerry's disappearing eyes. All because Kerry wasn't underlit, and Bush was backlit, giving him the halo effect.

Exacting details, maybe, but someone forgot the basics of three basics of television - lighting, lighting and more lighting.

OK, that's all fine and dandy, but can we have a little bit of substance here? Let's see if I can do this without favoring one over the other. I'm going to pick on one missed opportunity, without trying to endorse either candidate. I'm just offering some 20/20 hindsight, Friday night quarterbacking.

Alright. Here it is. But just one, tantalizing thought.

Bush had the chance to really zing Kerry, but he dropped the ball. Here's the setup: Kerry lambastes Bush for not building a coalition in attacking Iraq. This accusation is not news - Kerry's been making the charge for some time. Kerry has also pushed bilateral talks with Korea. Also not news.

No comment here on why Bush wasn't ready to attack these two points.

So, when Kerry took both positions in the first debate, why did Bush hold back? Bush could have picked Kerry apart for taking inconsistent positions during the very debate he was in. To push bilateral talks with North Korea ignores the coalition Bush has built with China, South Korea and Russia - the exact opposite of Kerry's criticism of Bush's "lack" of a coalition in attacking Iraq.

A skilled litigator would have made mincemeat of the flip-flop in positions, building further on Bush's main criticism of Kerry.

A missed opportunity. Groan.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, October 01, 2004 at 22:47 Comments (1) |

"I agree." No, I Didn't Really Mean To, Though.

How many times have you signed up to use an internet service and just clicked on the "I agree" button? Lots, if you're like me.

But the real question is: do you read online agreements? Do I? Well, sometimes - especially if it's a bank or financial institution. But for the average, run of the mill website, admittedly, I don't.

Ok, so sue me.

That's exactly what happened to this guy. He signed up for AOL, put his email address book (1,500 addresses) online and ran into problems.

Then, the inevitable call to tech support hell, with the person on the other end of the line that speaks an entirely different version of English. Long and short: our hero lost his 1,500 email addresses when he followed instructions to delete a folder.


So, being a lawyer (who else?), he sued for $5,000. And won. At least so far. AOL promises an appeal, based on prior precedent. Others, though, have different ideas.

The lawyer filed the small claims case in New York, and the judge issued a written decision disagreeing with AOL's argument that venue was proper only in Virginia, where AOL's 91-page agreement says venue is proper.

As Mark Fass of the New York Law Journal noted in the Judge's opinion, "'The general policy of giving effect to forum-selection clauses must yield to the scheme enacted by the Legislature specifically to ensure that civil justice is meaningfully accessible to those seeking the adjudication of small claims,' wrote [Civil Court Judge Debra R.] Samuels in her eight-page decision, Scarcella v. America Online, 1168/04."

Did you catch that? An eight-page, written decision in a small claims case.

You've got to know that Judge knew she was going to be appealed.

As my disclaimer states, I'm not giving legal advice here.

But I may start reading the fine print a little more closely.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, September 30, 2004 at 14:38 Comments (1) |

Taxing Tobacco To Tie Tongues?

Is it legal to tax a business and then use that tax money to discourage people to buy from that business?

Apparently so.

California has a tax that takes money from the $0.87 per pack tax from R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco Company, and then uses that tax money to run anti-smoking advertisements.

The tobacco companies don't like the government spending their money to advocate quiting smoking. They claim it violates their First Amendment rights. But the Ninth Circuit didn't agree. "The implication of the tobacco companies' argument is that industries subject to an excise tax are entitled to a special veto over government speech funded by the tax," said Judge Raymond C. Fisher. The Court split, and ruled 2-1 in favor of California.

The dissent in the case started its argument with a quote from Thomas Jefferson (who I frequently quote here). The quote read: "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical." The tobacco companies agreed with dissenter Judge Trott.

You're right. This isn't the end of the story. You can be sure they'll be an appeal to the Supreme Court, challenging the Ninth Circuit's ruling.

Tobacco wants to regulate the government's speech, and the government wants to regulate tobacco's sales. What do the rest of us want? Some want to smoke, and others don't want to - and don't want others to smoke, either.

The First Amendment says I can say what I want - and I usually do here. But there are many instances of the government limiting what can't be said. Now the Supreme Court will have to determine whether the government can use our money to argue against our own speech.

Next thing you know, the government will use my tax money to start a blog.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 at 09:00 Comments (0) |

Once A Marine, Always A Marine

Here's an interesting website on the Viet Nam war. If you're interested in doing a bit of research, this is a good place to start.

Plus, it's got a great audio lead-in of actual, spine-tingling radio communications and photographs. OohRah!.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 at 16:51 Comments (0) |

Justice Denied To The Blind?

Admittedly, I don't know the answer to the question I'm about to ask. Is this site accessible to the blind?

I'm not blind (although my vision is 20/700, I feel like it sometimes). And now, I have to wear reading glasses just to be able to see the computer screen. So, I kind of know, but not really.

But, I'm trying to check to find out. I've asked Access Now to let me know. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. I don't know yet.

But I do know that they lost their case yesterday. On a procedural technicality. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals didn't like the way the case was presented.

In the trial court, Access Now argued that Southwest Airlines' website was a "place" of business, subject to the ADA. They lost.

The trial court said that a website is not a "place."

Then on appeal, Access Now argued that Southwest Airlines and its website were essentially a travel agency, and that agency constituted a "place" under the ADA. The Court of Appeal didn't buy it, and dismissed the case.

The real problem comes from the definition of "place" in the ADA statute. It doesn't list websites as "places." A website is a lot like a place, but it's not. gets half of its business - $500 million a year - from its website, but during the pendency of the suit, the company redesigned the website to be more "access friendly."

The 11th Circuit said these cases are important, but this wasn't the case to do it with.

I guess Access Now will have to find another website, and another Plaintiff. Meanwhile, maybe more website owners will try to do what I did.

Find out, then fix it.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, September 27, 2004 at 23:54 Comments (0) |

It's Only Rock and Roll, But I Like It

Recording live concerts has been the bane of rock groups ever since tape recorders were invented. Now they're doing it with minidisk cameras.

Everyone's got a perspective on how it's supposed to work, and who's supposed to pay for it. Rock groups have tried to stop it by getting the "bootleg" law enacted.

But, it looks like it's going to be going on for awhile longer.

Judge Harold Baer, Jr. out of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York nixed it.

The bootleg law, that is.

He overruled the law, saying that even though it was drafted with the "same spirit" as other federal copyright laws, it didn't meet statutory criteria. Baer said that while federal copyright laws protect property for a fixed period of time, the bootleg law had no such time limit, however, and instead granted "seemingly perpetual protection" to the live performances.

He also thought that copyright laws cover fixed items, such as books and records, not fluid things like live performances. Call me silly, but doesn't the recording industry already enjoy copyright protection for records it sells of live performances? That argument likely won't fly on appeal.

My logic didn't work for Judge Baer. The ruling isn't available online yet, so you can check here next week. Just search for Jean Martignon or her company, Midnight Records, where you can still buy live recordings by mail or over the internet.

As you can imagine, the Recording Industry Association of America was displeased with the ruling. According to the AP, the decision "stands in marked contrast to existing law and prior decisions that have determined that Congress was well within its constitutional authority to adopt legislation that prevented trafficking in copies of unauthorized recordings of live performances," quoting Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the RIAA.

Well, maybe so, but that's not the case right now.

So, buy 'em while you can. Either Congress or an appellate court will soon fix the problems identified by Judge Baer.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, September 26, 2004 at 13:48 Comments (1) |

Inquiring Minds Don't Want To Know

Amber Melville-Brown, a media law lawyer at David Price Solicitors and Advocates, puts it this way, as only a Fleet Street Englishwoman could: "A balance has to be struck between ... the right to publish unauthorised flab, cellulite and sweat patches; and the rights of spoilt, prima-donna celebrities only to be photographed when they are good and ready. The press appears perfectly at ease in this task, little fearing that recent decisions tie their hands too tightly."

Yep, you got it: the press in Europe lost their right to publish celebrity photos if the stars are just out wandering privately in public.


Exactly. That bastion of celebrity-protecting judges, the European Court of Human Rights (I know I've been dying to try a case there) decided that these type of photographs of the Princess Caroline of Monaco shouldn't be published.

You know, the kind grabbed by the paparazzi when famous celebrities are caught off guard, just to make them appear more like the rest of us who don't get our photos in the newspapers on a regular basis.

Not that I'm worried about that.

Newspapers complain that the ruling infringes their right of free expression. Or did they really mean right to a profit?

I'm not buying it. In fact, I can't ever recall buying a tabloid newspaper. It just doesn't interest me, but apparently, I'm in the minority. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many trashy tabloids out there.

Now, however, it appears that there may be less of them across the pond very soon.

My heart breaks. Who cares?

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, September 25, 2004 at 11:17 Comments (0) |

California Considers Tighter Air Emissions

You may or may not know that the California Air Resources Board has is considering a vote (webcast) today on controversial regulations to reduce vehicle emissions blamed for global warming. Actually, they're considering it right now.

Several states are expected to enact the same standards that California may adopt this morning. According to CNN, California is the only state that can set its own emissions regulations since it began doing so before federal standards were set. Other states must adopt federal standards or California standards.

The regulations, if enacted, require cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent and other technological changes for vehicle emissions by 2009. The staff report favors a positive vote on the proposal.

I'm listening to the webcast now, and will let you know when the vote becomes final.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, September 24, 2004 at 13:05 Comments (2) |

Page:  << Prev  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47  48  49  50  51  52  53  54  55  56  57  58  59  60  61  62  63  64  65  66  67  68  69  70  71  72  73  74  75  76  77  78  79  80  81  82  83  84  85  86  87  88  89  90  91  92  93  94  95  96  97  98  99  100  101  102  103  104  105  106  107  108  109  110  111  112  113  114  115  116  117  118  119  120  121  122  123  124  125  126  127  128  129  130  131  132  133  134  135  136  137  138  139  140  141  142  143  144  145  146  147  148  149  150  151  152  153  154  155  156  157  158  159  160  161  162  163  164  165  166  167  168  169  170  171  172  173  174  175  176  177  178  179  180  181  182  183  184  185  186  187  188  189  190  191  192  193  194  195  196  197  198  199  200 201  202  203  204  205  206  207  208  209  210  211  212  213  214  215  216  217  218  219  220  221  222  223  224  225  226  227  228  229  230  231  232  233  234  235  236  237  238  239  240  241  242  243  244  245  246  247  248  249  250  251  252  253  254  255  Next >>