May It Please The Court

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May It Please The Court
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There are 2034 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 87

Alabama Sex Toys Fall Prey To Legislation Regulating Public Morality

In case you missed it, yesterday was Valentine's Day.  For all of Hallmark's effort and the heart-shaped candy box in the kitchen, it was hard to ignore, but somehow MIPTC managed to do it.  Even my blindingly red MSN home page didn't quite motivate me. 

Do they have a card section for Belated Valentine's Day?

Practicing law makes it difficult to remember holidays, especially nice ones like Valentine's Day and the end-of-the-year "Winter Holiday," as my staff now lists December 25 on our Firm Holiday Calendar.  It's tough because we're always fighting and arguing with opposing counsel, filing motions with the court and litigating cases.

But try as I may, I had a difficult time finding a feel-good post to write about for the holiday, and the best I could do comes from a post on How Appealing.  It was this sentence from this Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that grabbed my attention:  "This case comes to us for the third time, arising from a constitutional challenge to a provision of the Alabama Code prohibiting the commercial distribution of devices "primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs."

Plus it was filed on February 14.  Intentional?  Of course, especially with that dry, but nonetheless scintillating come-on from the court.

You don't have to be a lawyer to see the humor in that introduction to the case.  Rather than prolong your curiosity, let's cut to the quick here.  The Alabama legislature's statute barring sex toys withstood the constitutional challenge brought by the ACLU on behalf of those who want to sell sex toys in Alabama and those who want to buy them.  The court upheld the statute on the basis that the Alabama legislature can legitimately regulate public morality. 

And I thought you used them in the bedroom.  Silly me.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 15, 2007 at 00:29 Comments (1) |

Follow The Bouncing BLIPS To See Who Wins The War

MIPTC has covered BLIPS (Bond Linked Issued Premium Structure) tax shelters before.  They're a tax shelter gone horribly wrong.  Just ask Ted Swartz, who sold his business and made some $18 million, and wanted to avoid taxes as much as possible.

Yes, I know what you're saying:  where am I going to get $9 million to pay my taxes when I sell my business if I can't use a tax shelter?.  Although I litigate tax cases, I'm not a tax lawyer or an accountant:  I just clean up the messes afterward, so I'm not much help on the front end.  After reading this opinion, I'm really glad I wasn't one of the lawyers or accountants on the front end.

Allegedly, according to Mr. Swartz, KMPG told him that they could help him avoid his entire tax liability through a BLIPS tax shelter.  As we now know from the IRS, that supposed tax advice was wrong.  Not surprisingly, Mr. Swartz is none too happy that he paid KPMG some $1 million for this apparently faulty tax advice, so he did what most people in his position who are unhappy do:  he sued.

Mr. Swartz's complaint in Washington alleged fraud against KPMG because he believes that KPMG knew the tax shelter would fail when it took his million dollars, but they had issued an opinion to him that it would not fail. 

The trial court dismissed his cause of action for fraud, and not satisfied with the trial court's advice, he appealed to the Ninth Circuit.  The higher court reversed the trial court and reinstated Mr. Swartz's fraud claim.

Now all Mr. Swartz has to do is convince the jurors that he really believed KPMG's advice that he didn't have to pay a dime in taxes on an $18 million gain. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 at 00:03 Comments (0) |

Locomotive Huggers Beware: You'll Lose Your Case Without A Plan

Environmental land use law is full of, well, land mines.  Just when everything seemed clear, along comes another appellate opinion that changes the landscape.  Or not. 

Take, for example, this case decided last week.  The Tuolumne Park and Recreation District sold land containing a "historic but unused railroad right-of-way" to the Me-Wuk Indians.  The Indians said they wanted to develop the land, but had no immediate plans to do so.

Not to be dissuaded, the Friends of the Sierra Railroad sued based on the District's failure to conduct an environmental review of the consequences of the sale.  Now let me pause here for a moment because I've remained silent for about as long as I can stand it.

Historic railroad right-of-way?  Friends of the Sierra Railroad?  Only here in the land of fruits, nuts, berries and twigs would a railroad have friends and be historic all in the same breath.  Heck, we didn't even start to think about building a railroad until 1862, right about the time that Amtrak went into bankruptcy (well, maybe a few hundred years earlier).  And friends of the railroad?  How many locomotive huggers have you met?  But I digress.

The court sniffed this case out in a hurry and dispatched it the same way the trial court did:  since there was no plan to do anything with the land, there was nothing to review.  A change of hands of property doesn't invoke the requirement of an environmental review. 

What's the lesson from this case:  if you want to challenge something, you better have a plan.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 at 20:26 Comments (0) |

Didn't Ask For It, But Got It Anyway

Successful and Outstanding Blog

There it is, big as life.  No, it's not what you think it is.  Liz Strauss, who writes Successful Blognamed MIPTC an SOB, along with several other very interesting blogs.  In her opinion, the initials stand for Successful and Outstanding Blogger.  You may think it means something else, and you may be right.  But then again, you're not Liz.  Each week, she names what is now a steadily growing number of blogs as SOBs, and all are listed in the SOB Hall of fame, lest you think MIPTC is making this doesn't-really-sound-like-an-award up. 

Liz  also writes for The Blog Herald and blogs at Letting Liz Be and Liz  In her writing, she searches for bloggers who take the conversation to their readers to name as SOBs.

According to Liz, "When the SOB program started, I was looking for a way to encourage the sense of community that Successful-Blog stood for. We're all about relationships and conversation here. The conversations are fun, fast, and sometimes irreverent."

Now I understand - that last part is where MIPTC fits in. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, February 12, 2007 at 01:40 Comments (0) |

Is The Do Not Call Registry Working? How Many Calls Are You Still Getting At Home?

"Hello?"  [ No response].  {Pause} {Click} {Click}.  "HelloI'mSuzywithAcmeCompanyandwehaveeverythingyouneed.  Whatwouldyouliketobuytoday?"

Certainly there are many things in life more annoying than MIPTC complains about, but MIPTC is tired of being called at home, and I've signed up for the Do Not Call Registry with just about every telephone number I'm even remotely connected with.  The calls have gotten less, but they're still getting through. 

You too?  You're still getting calls even though you've already signed up for the Do Not Call Registry?  Well, you have several options:

The last one is my personal favorite.  Typically the caller responds that she won't give you her home telephone number, and I'll respond with "Then why are you calling me at home?" 

Then my phone goes {Click} {Dial tone}.

They usually get the message. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 13:38 Comments (2) |

We March Steadily Toward April 15

Despite the pun in the headline, tax season is almost upon us.  Lexis has rounded up a series of articles on how to get ready for it here, and they're worth a look. 

All I want is for time to go backwards, or someone else to do my taxes.  I went to law school because I don't do math.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, February 10, 2007 at 13:47 Comments (0) |

Lawyer to Lawyer Internet Radio Goes Ape

Last week, a guerrilla marketing stunt headed by Turner Broadcasting went horribly wrong resulting in complete chaos in the City of Boston.  On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, please join me and my fellow co-host and blogger Robert Ambrogi  as we turn to expert Boston University Law Professor David Rossman to discuss this hot topic.

Has guerrilla marketing gone too far and who should be held accountable?  What sort of punishment should offenders who stir up this type of chaos face in a post 9/11 world?  Do they deserve punishment at all?  Listen to L2L for a powerful show.

Update:  Late this afternoon, the President of the Cartoon Network resigned over the consequences from his role in the flap.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, February 09, 2007 at 11:57 Comments (0) |

Immigrant Twice Deported Sent Back A Third Time

Immigration is a sensitive topic for many, and especially so for MIPTC since I wouldn't be here if immigrants weren't allowed in this country.  Both sets of my great-grandparents arrived here from Scotland (my Mom's side) and Wales (my Dad's side).  There are many others who want to be here as well, and perhaps none more so than Raul Morales-Izquierdo.  

Raul was deported after arrival here, not once, but twice.  The first time he arrived without inspection and the second time he failed to mention that he had been removed once before.  He married a U.S. citizen and attempted to get his previous removal order reinstated.  The reinstatement was denied by an immigration officer, but Raul challenged that denial because an immigration judge did not make that ruling. 

The Ninth Circuit denied Raul's petition for reinstatement on the basis that Congress allowed reinstatement petitions to be determined by officers, not judges.  Raul will be deported to Mexico once again, now for a third time.

There's no prize for trying hard; only for following the rules.  As most know, we don't have open borders with any countries, which requires that someone sets  standards to determine who can emigrate and who can't. 

The system is a difficult one, but many protest it while others laud it.

How did you get here? Did you and your forebearers follow the rules?

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 08, 2007 at 19:01 Comments (0) |

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