May It Please The Court

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There are 2034 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 71

Judge: Don't Read Newspapers Or Watch TV While You're On This Jury

Oh Yeah, And Don't Read A Blog, Either

That's right.  Some five government witnesses and one juror got tossed because they read a blog about an ongoing criminal trial:  Grimes & Warwick's coverage of the Peregrine trial in San Diego.  The trial concerns the securities-fraud trial of four Peregrine Systems, Inc. officials.

Someone perhaps interested in the civil side of the case (can we say, "Plaintiff's lawyer?") hired State-certified criminal specialist attorney Bob Grimes to blog about the trial, and he and his wife Linda, a non-practicing lawyer, have done so religiously on their website.  It's not a first for covering trials:  in the Daily Journal, Don J. DeBenedictis's July 16, 2007 article notes that blogs have written about "the trials involving Lewis "Scooter" Libby in Washington, D.C., former Ku Klux Klansman James Seale in Mississippi and lead-paint makers in Rhode Island."

And presumably who better to cover trials than lawyers?

The reporting is more accurate and perhaps more boring at the same time.  Newspapers write to a sixth-grade audience, lawyers write at the graduate school level, and assume (sometimes too much) familiarity with procedure and legal niceties.  Perhaps with a bit of a twist, lawyers Kevin O'Keefe and Anne W. Reed of Milwaukee law firm Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren have written about Grimes' coverage.

And now I'm writing about their coverage, as well as DeBenedictis's coverage.  Will it never end?

But this one's a bit different.  According to rumor (Grimes declined comment), Grimes has been paid $150,000, or $2,500 per day for 60 days of blogging to cover the trial.  Rumors also allege Grimes writes one version for the party who hired him to blog, and another version is posted on the Internet.  Estimates are that nearly $5 billion is involved with the capitalization of Peregrine. 

Interestingly, it doesn't appear that any of Grimes' posts reveal anything about payment to him for his blogging, but I've only skimmed and searched his posts, not read them for the last sixty days of his trial.  Grimes does provide this cryptic note:  "A class action on behalf of Peregrine stockholders is being litigated in front of United States District Judge Roger Benitez. This civil lawsuit involves many of the same issues that will be litigated in the criminal trial in front of Judge Whelan. .... The federal class action is currently stayed, pending an appeal."

There's nearly five billion reasons to want a daily report.

Some journalists postulate that a disclosure of payment to write is necessary to maintain credibility

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 00:33 Comments (0) |

New Advertising Campaign May Ditch Values, Create Liability - You Decide

Don't get me wrong here; I'm no moral barometer, certainly not a moral compass, and likely not even a moral thermometer, if there's any such thing.  Even so, I was struck by the advertising program used by the new shopping center at The District in Tustin Legacy, just down the street from my home.  As a disclaimer, I'm the father of three who are in their late 20's and early 30's and with two out of the three married, and all three with jobs, so presumably the advertising campaign is not aimed at me. 

Here it is:  "Ditch Mom," on a giant-sized poster featuring a pre-teen girl looking at  the words "Ditch the kid," on an equally giant-sized poster featuring a 30's-something Mom, plastered on the side of one of the stores on the Jamboree-South road side of the shopping center, west of the hangars.

Is the campaign designed to feature a fracture between parents and children?  If so, then so much for family values.  Or is it really the other way around?  Is The District's advertising campaign designed to highlight the shopping center as a safe place where Mom and daughter can separate, wander around and be alone for a period of time, only to hook up later just before going home? 

I'm not really sure, but if the latter is the message, then I can only assume The District wouldn't want the legal liability associated with such an implied promise of child safety.  If the former, then you're the judge.  Thoughts?  Comment below, or let The District's Marketing Director know what you think by sending her an email.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, July 14, 2007 at 15:19 Comments (0) |

LA Galaxy Introduces Beck-ho-hum

David Beckham has arrived in LA, only to be greeted by a blitzkrieg of cameras, but not a lot of fans.  The LA Galaxy stadium was not even 1/4 full of fans as shown by CNN's coverage earlier this morning.  According to news reports, some 5,000 fans appeared, which barely makes a dent in the 27,000 seat stadium

And you're surprised? 

Heck, we can't even support a full-time NFL/AFL (American) football team, we're confused where the Angels play baseball and we have nearby college teams called Banana Slugs and Anteaters. 

I rest my case. 

As if that weren't enough, give some thought to Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Tiger Woods and any number of other sports stars.  Their "introduction" was their performance.  Sure, Beckham is an outstanding soccer player.  That's a given, but it's not the reason the LA Galaxy hired him.

They hired him to draw soccer fans to the sport.   So far, it's been a dud.  No screaming legions of fans like the Beatles or other "British invasions."  He's just getting started here, so time will tell. 

Apparently both the LA Galaxy and Beckham both benefit from increased ticket and goods sales according to reports of the contract between the two.  Whether fans will join in on that contract remains to be seen. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, July 13, 2007 at 12:46 Comments (0) |

Yikes! We're Running Out Of Lawyers

Well, at least we're getting older, and older much faster than before.  It's a proven fact that as you get older, time passes on a geometric scale - especially compared to young kids (aka your grandchildren), who count their age by the half year.

In fact, an article in this month's California Bar Journal claims that the average age of a California attorney is 47.  Last year a whopping 35% of us were over 55 (MIPTC has hit the half century mark, but I'm not in that statistic yet, thank you very much).  As proof of my theorem, the article further notes in 2001, only 24% of us were over 55, but way back in 1991, a mere 14% of us were over 55.

You do the math.

The article focuses on lawyers in firms pushing retirement and how the demands of a fast-paced, cash-intense billable hour structure designed to cut out dead wood in law firms encourage earlier retirement year after year.  Right.  Go become a law professor.  I think not.  But when I read the article, what struck me was the rapid increase in the age of the lawyers surveyed, disproportionate to the gap of years in between.  Even I can do that math, despite not having a degree from MIT.  Perhaps it's second career switches, perhaps more lawyers are willing to report their age, perhaps more accurately.

But whatever the reason, it's clear lawyers are greying at a faster rate than before.  Just look at my beard and hair - I'm a prime example.  Couple that with the uptick in lawyers retiring early and - believe it or not - human resources plans to get attorneys to retire early, we have a recipe for disaster.

Before you know it, we'll run out of lawyers.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 22:24 Comments (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Covers The Flip Side Of The Avvo Flap

Avvo executives speak out on this week's Lawyer2Lawyer with me and my fellow co-host and blogger Robert Ambrogi.  You can hear Avvo CEO and President, Mark Britton and its Vice President of Products & Marketing, Paul Bloom with their reactions to our previous podcast about Avvo, the newest lawyer rating service against which a class action suit has been filed due to dissatisfaction with the service.

Listen to their point of view, how they are dealing with feedback and what steps they're taking to improve Avvo. Check it out!  You might be surprised.  I was.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 at 19:40 Comments (0) |

The Sex Is Not Real, But The Lawsuit Is: Copyright Infringement For Allegedly Copying Code

Hold on to your figurative hat here, this post is going virtual.  If you're new to either the Web or Web 2.0, you may be surprised that there's a Second Life out there.  Or rather in there.  In your computer.

Second Life is a virtual fantasy game where some 8 million people spend real money to do fake things. 

Like I said, if you're new to the Internet, read that line again.  Forget everything you know about video games, PlayStation and for that matter, even Atari's Pong or even PacMan if you're that old.  People pay money to participate in a virtual game.  In the last 24 hours, Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life, noted that more than $1,500,000 US was spent in the program.

Perhaps not surprising, there's sex in this virtual world called Second Life.  According to this Court TV article by Mallory Simon, "SexGen, a virtual animation program [...] allows the avatars, or digital characters, of two users to simulate engaging in different sexual positions and using sex toys on each other. The product includes 100 different sex acts, facial expressions and sounds."

You read that right.  Sounds.  From your computer.  No wonder you have to pay for it.  And the person who "invented" (wrote the computer code) for SexGen is claiming that someone else downloaded his code, made slight changes to it and is reselling it at a discount.  Not to be outdone, Inventor Kevin Alderman filed a lawsuit and obtained an order from the Court in First Life (real life) hearing the matter forcing Linden Labs and PayPal to give up the identity information for the person "pimping" the SexGen software. 

Alderman is likely one of the first real people to sue an online persona for copyright infringement.  But in the world of computers and the courtroom, virtually anything is possible.  I just wonder whether the judgment will be paid in dollars or LindeX (the moniker for money in Second Life).

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 23:28 Comments (0) |

Hey Congress, How Much Is That Judge In The Window?

Don't get me wrong here:  law is every bit as much of a business as it is a profession.  A service profession, mind you.  But hold that thought for a moment.

The top 100 US law firms made $46 billion last year.  That's billion with a capital B.

In those top law firms, lawyers work night and day since it is, after all, a service profession and they're "selling" hours, not widgets.  On average, though, partners in those law firms make over $1 million each.

On the other hand, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts makes $212,000, with the rest of the court, and other federal judges less than that.  In California, most state court judges make under $150,000. 

Without getting into the argument what teachers, firefighters, police and for that matter, members of Congress are worth, let's stick with the law.  After all, police and firefighters just put their lives on the line, and teachers, well, teachers ... they just educate our children. 

On the other hand, I think members of Congress and other politicians should pay money to the IRS to serve in either the Senate or the House.  That would certainly solve a lot of problems, but I'm getting off track.  Let's look at the quality of justice we're complaining about and complaining about.

Very few private lawyers in top firms, or for that matter lawyers in successful mid-size or small firms would seriously consider becoming a judge.  I know.  I've talked to them.  I'm one of them, and I wouldn't.

Why not?  It's not just the pay cut, but the benefits we get in private practice.  The government doesn't match those numbers.

But is the solution paying more?  Would paying judges the same as top lawyers entice those lawyers to take the bench in record numbers?  As one who's been asked by several judges to seek either election or ask the Governator, I'd consider it given an equivalent paycheck.  Most others I've talked to would, too.

But raising pay for judges is as likely as a pay raise for teachers, firefighters and police.  As a society, we don't reward those jobs.  We reward golfers and businesses that produce a lot of widgets.  Until we change that attitude, there will always be a pay disparity, and we'll keep complaining about the quality of justice, teaching and public service jobs.

Otherwise, you're going to have to write your representative in Congress.  They don't want to do anything.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, July 09, 2007 at 22:28 Comments (0) |

Right. And I'm The King Of England.

Now Where's That Crown?

Englanders have an unusual fascination with all things Royal.  Sure, we in the US like our blueblood stories now and again, but for the most part, the other side of the pond can keep their Royals. 

But some in England are especially fascinated.

So much so that one man recently claimed to be the illegitimate son of Princess Margaret and Captain Peter Townsend, both now deceased, God Rest Their Souls.  The Princess, by the Earl of Snowden, actually had only two children:  David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones

Since everyone in England already knows her lineage, along with all of the media and Royal-watchers, it seems improbable that she somehow managed to have another child before she was married. 

52 year-old Robert Brown wasn't buying it, however.  He wanted to unseal not only Princess Margaret's will, but also that of Queen Mother Elizabeth. 

Doesn't it drive you crazy how Englanders capitalize everything?

But back to the story.  Mr. Brown presented his claim in an English High Court, asking essentially to be placed 12th in line for succession to the throne.  High Court Judge Sir Mark Potter tossed the case out on its ear.  He ruled the case was, "vexatious," an "abuse of process" and based on "an imaginary and baseless claim," according to the Sunday Telegraph.

If it had been tried in the US, then we would have used DNA instead.  Now there's a thought.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, July 08, 2007 at 13:33 Comments (0) |

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