By Carlyn Kolker
It takes a village person
The Village People -- you remember them -- are always in the
vanguard. First, there was the singing group's groundbreaking
disco hit, YMCA. Now, it's a groundbreaking copyright decision
for Victor Willis, a former Village People singer. On Monday, a
federal district judge in Los Angeles dismissed a lawsuit by two
publishers who said that Willis couldn't re-claim ownership
rights to YMCA and 32 other tunes he wrote, the New York Times reports. In an opinion that the newspaper says has "significant
implications for the music industry," judge Barry Moskowitz
ruled that a provision of copyright known as "termination
rights," which allows artists to get back rights to their work
35 years after they've elapsed applies to Willis. Billboard
calls this provision - which went into effect in 1978 and
therefore is just starting to come due -- "a ticking time bomb
for the music industry." A lawyer for the publishers told the
Times that "the case is far from over."
Remember this about Richard Mourdock?
Before he was a player, Richard Mourdock was a litigant.
Mourdock, you may have read, on Tuesday night beat Richard Lugar, the six-term Republican senator from Indiana in a
bruising primary battle. What you might not remember is that
Mourdock had a front-court seat to a piece of litigation that
briefly captured the national attention. As the Indiana state
treasurer, he was the official who tried to block the Obama
administration's bailout of Chrysler in 2009 - and lost, as the
New York Times writes in a profile. Summary Judgments did a
little digging back in the archives to find out what Mourdock's
case was about - and what it may have showed about Mourdock's
Shortly after Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy in April
2009, Mourdock tried to block Chrysler LLC's bankruptcy plan
because it paid junior creditors before senior creditors, a
strategy that hurt pension fund investors such as his own
states' retirees, Mourdock said. In Tea Party-like language, he told Reuters at the time that the administration's plan was
unfair and "I bleed red, white and blue, but when I see the
federal government getting involved - and as soon as they get
involved they think they can change the rules - those are the
things we have to look at very, very cautiously."
But Chrysler fought back mightily, saying that Mourdock was
jeopardizing Chrysler's bankruptcy in the interest of Indiana's
small holdings, according to a New York Times report that month.
"The treasurer's actions lead one to wonder if his motives are
financial or political," Chrysler said in a statement. In the
end, Mourdock's gambit failed: the U.S. Supreme Court in June
2009 refused to grant the Indiana funds' request for a stay in
the case, leading the way to Chrysler to selling some of its
assets to Fiat and coming out of bankruptcy.
A Democratic challenger running against Mourdock for the
state treasurer post in 2010 tried to make the lawsuit a
campaign issue, accusing Mourdock of running up an unnecessary tab of $2 million in legal fees, but Mourdock apparently
clinched the election anyway.
Last week we brought you news of how Oklahoma Senator Tom
Coburn was holding up two federal judicial nominees from his
home state because he hadn't returned the necessary "blue slips"
allowing the nominees to be considered by the Senate Judiciary
Committee. (After the newspaper report, Coburn quickly reversed
himself). Today, we have some similar news from Georgia: The
state's two Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny
Isakson, have blocked the Obama administration's nominee to the
11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "The tango between Georgia's senators and the White
House has been odd even by the standards of the often
contentious judicial nomination process, according to longtime
observers," says the Journal-Constitution. The nominee, Atlanta
attorney Jill Pryor, was previously nominated to a district
court judgeship, and had the support of Chambliss and Isakson in
that proceeding. (That appointment didn't go through). Neither
senator will say why he is blocking Pryor now, neither has
returned his "blue slip" on Pryor, and neither senator's office
would comment to the newspaper.
There are currently two vacancies on the district court
bench in Atlanta, and another on the 11th Circuit Court of
Appeals, and on Tuesday another district court judge announced
he would take senior status.
Judges, we've learned from the example of Pakistan, can be
some of the most forceful advocates for systemic change in a
country's legal system. In 2007, Pakistan's judges, led by
Supreme Court Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, held an
uprising over executive intervention in the judicial branch.
Moroccan judges, it seems, are taking a page from their
Pakistani brethren, and a delegation of Moroccan judges recently
even met with Chief Justice Chaudhry of Pakistan, the
International News reported. The upshot: On Monday, thousands of
the country's judges signed a petition suggesting ways the
government can scale back its contact with the judicial branch.
"The Moroccan government and royal family are seen to have
inordinate power over the judiciary through promotions and
salaries, and it is believed that many verdicts follow the will
of the executive branch," the Associated Press writes.
Summary Judgments for May 8
Summary Judgments for May 7
Summary Judgments for May 4
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