By Dan Slater
Don't look at that: A federal court has upheld the firing of a Wisconsin teacher for violating his high school's computer policy by viewing porn for 67 seconds, Wired magazine reports. Robert Zellner, a Wisconsin high school biology teacher and union president, allegedly disengaged the “safe search” filter on his computer, typed “blonde” into Google, and viewed pornographic “thumbnail” images for a total of 67 seconds. While the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the relationship between the union and the school district was "contentious, combative and miserable," it said Zellner's firing was unrelated to his opposition to the district’s policies.
Journalism or law? During oral arguments, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals questioned the tactics of victims of an abuse scandal at the Portland Archdiocese. The judges asked if the victims were trying to exact “another pound of flesh” by defending the release of personnel files for priests who had never actually abused them, Courthouse News reports. The appeals court was referring to the victim’s support of the release of personnel files for two priests known as Father M. and Father D. Though the original suit did not name the two priests as abusers, a federal bankruptcy judge who approved a $75 million settlement for the victims later ordered the release of the priests’ personnel files. Both priests had faced accusations of sex abuse decades earlier. When asked by Judge Alex Kozinski whether the victims' motivation was "vengeance," their attorney, Erin Olsen, replied that the victims wanted to hold the priests accountable. "Hold accountable?" interjected Judge Carlos Bea. "This is a journalistic phrase. What does that really mean in a legal setting?"
Disruption rights: The city of Santa Cruz, California, believes it was justified in throwing a man out of a 2002 city council meeting after he raised a mock Nazi salute. Now the city plans to appeal its case to the Supreme Court, the Mercury News reports, unless it can reach a settlement with Robert Norse, the 63 year-old activist. A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in December that a trial judge who threw out Norse's case should reconsider, indicating they believe city officials silenced him because they disliked his criticism. The case has never gone to trial.
Free to burn: New Zealand now has its version of Texas v. Johnson, the 1989 case that invalidated prohibitions on U.S. flag desecration, Radio New Zealand News reports. Valerie Morse, a peace activist who was convicted of behaving in an offensive manner after burning New Zealand's flag in protest of the war in Afghanistan, won her appeal to that country's Supreme Court. Morse argued that she had the right to freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights and the Court agreed. On Friday, it quashed her conviction, holding that "offensive behavior" must give rise to a public disturbance.
Dangerous Docudrama: A journalist is suing National Geographic for putting him in harm's way by planning to broadcast an allegedly "sensationalist 'docudrama'" that includes interviews with Japanese organized-crime members -- known as Yakuza -- who have threatened the reporter's life. Reporter Joshua Adelstein says the project was supposed to be a documentary on how the Yakuza was forming corporations in Japan, Courthouse News reports. He claims National Geographic changed the concept to a "docudrama entitled 'Gangland Tokyo'" that "contains exaggerated...soap opera style dramatizations of Yakuza crime and violence." National Geographic did not comment.
Bieber backlash: A 17-year-old Australian who broke into a Justin Bieber concert and threw eggs onto the stage was charged on Thursday with breaking and entering, trespassing and malicious damage, the AP reports. Video footage of last Friday's concert at Sydney's Acer Arena showed several raw eggs smash on the stage, narrowly missing Bieber and his backup vocalists. They continued to sing and dance.