Paying the price
By Peter Rudegeair
As of Oct. 30, television ad spending on judicial campaigns
for the year totaled $19.5 million, with more than $5 million
being spent in the last week of the month, according to the
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and Justice at
Just a few weeks ago, Summary Judgments reported that TV ad
spending for judicial races was running a little north of $7
million, so the pace has really accelerated over the past month.
At the time, Michigan was leading the pack, with $1.4 million
spent since early September, and that figure now stands at $5.7
million, more than twice the spending in any other state.
Despite the outsize sums, lax disclosure laws mean that only 12
percent of those expenditures were accounted for in official
filings. Attacks in the Michigan ads also are getting sharper:
This week, the conservative group Judicial Crisis Network
released an ad claiming that a judge "volunteered to help free a
Seven additional states topped the $1 million mark
(Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas,
and West Virginia). The Brennan Center and Justice at Stake also
point out that if the 2010 elections are any guide, spending
will ratchet up in the final week before ballots are cast. In
those elections, nearly half of all TV ad spending on judicial
campaigns occurred in the final week.
Call me copycat
By Caitlin Tremblay
Canadian "Call Me Maybe" darling, Carly Rae Jepsen, and her
sometimes collaborator Adam Young, aka Owl City, are being sued
over their song "Good Time," reports NBC affiliate WSFA.
Nichole Burnett, a singer-songwriter from Huntsville,
Alabama, claims that Jepsen and Young ripped off "AH, It's a
Love Song," a track from Burnett's 2010 album, "The Takeover,"
and that, as a result, she's suffered emotional and
psychological damage. The major source of the suffering, says
Burnett, are "uniformed fans" who keep asking her why she copied
the Jepsen/Owl City song. "AH, It's a Love Song" has been
destroyed as an asset to her portfolio, adds Burnett, whose
songs have been heard on TV and radio shows, including on MTV's
"The Hills," according to WSFA.
Also named in the lawsuit are songwriters Matt Thiessen and
Brian Lee, along with Universal Music Group, Songs Music
Publishing and Schoolboy Records. None of the defendants have
commented on the lawsuit.
Battle of the bulge
By Dan Brillman
Zeltiq Aesthetics, a Florida-based medical device company,
is in a licensing battle over a non-surgical fat-cell cooling
process that Zeltiq calls "cryolipolysis." According to company
marketing materials, cryolipolysis helps remove "those annoying
muffin tops, love handles, and belly pooch." On the opposing
side is Tampa doctor Marco Hallerbach, reports IPWatchdog.
The complaint, filed in October, claims that Hallerbach used
the trademarked marketing name CoolSculpting for his weight-loss
clinic and offered an unlicensed imitation of the real thing,
even going so far as using a snowflake logo "similar" to
Zeltiq's on his Twitter page. (When Summary Judgments checked
out the page, it had been disabled, as had Hallerbach's company
Zeltiq licenses the technology to doctors but says that
Hallerbach is not one of them and claims he is harming its brand
by passing off his non-FDA-approved version as the real thing.
IPWatchdog reports that Hallerbach has seemingly ignored cease
and desist orders, and Zeltiq has filed a motion for preliminary
The name game
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
When a child is born to parents who are no longer in a
relationship whose surname should he or she take? Provided that
both the mother and father love and care for Junior, the answer
is, both, says the New Hampshire Supreme Court. (Hat tip: The
While in high school, Andrew Lemieux and Veronica Goudreau
were in a romantic relationship, but Lemieux broke it off after
learning that Goudreau was pregnant. He gave her no financial or
emotional support, and when the child was born, Goudreau named
him Alexander Bailey Goudreau. Almost immediately after the
birth, however, Lemieux filed a parenting petition -- in the 1st
Circuit Court, Family Division, Berlin -- requesting a specific
date to see his son. He contended that he had been adjusting
emotionally to the idea of being a father at the age of 15, and
that he was prepared to accept responsibility for the child. The
court granted his motion.
While the court was charting the specifics of the parenting
plan, Lemieux filed a separate motion requesting that the
child's name be changed to Alexander Bailey Lemieux. The court
concluded that since both parents cared for the boy, it would be
in the "best interests of the child" for him to use both
surnames and changed the name to Alexander Goudreau Lemieux.
Goudreau challenged that ruling, arguing that in order to
change a name, Lemieux and the family court must show a
substantial reason that Alexander would be adversely affected by
his current name. But the New Hampshire Supreme Court didn't see
it that way and dismissed her claim.
But as Volokh asks, "Why does it follow that the child
should be named Alexander Goudreau Lemieux, rather than
Alexander Lemieux Goudreau?"
By Peter Rudegeair
Tuesday's elections aren't just a contest between President
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It's also a duel between thousands
of lawyers working for each campaign looking to challenge
questionable practices by poll workers that could tip the
scales in one party's favor, The New York Times reports.
Attorneys for both candidates have been swarming through
Ohio, with the assumption that the more votes cast here, the
more likely it is that the president will win re-election. For
the Democrats, much of the action is in Cleveland's Cuyahoga
County, where it has 600 lawyers on duty. Republicans have just
70 but say they will rely on watchful non-lawyer poll workers to
keep an eye on things.
One issue likely to prompt a court challenge is any attempt
to keep polls open after-hours on election day, Nov. 6. When
lines were still long in Cuyahoga at the end of the March 2008
primary, the Obama campaign made such a request, and a judge
allowed some some polling places to stay open longer. This time
around, however, Republican officials in Cuyahoga said they
would fight any attempt to extend voting hours. Provisional
ballots, which are submitted when voter identification is
insufficient or there are discrepancies with the official voter
list, could also be contested in federal courtrooms in Ohio.
These votes numbered more than 200,000 in the state in 2008, and
80 percent were ruled legitimate, though it's a process that
could drag on for weeks.
The Times notes that campaigns' use of lawyers on election
day increased following the 2000 race that saw the stalemate and
extended recount in Florida and the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court
case, but this year it seems to have begun earlier and to be
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
Russia's new Internet surveillance law, which gives the
government the authority to block websites with content
considered harmful to children, went into effect on Thursday,
reports the BBC. Critics, however, worry the real goal of the
legislation is to block all kinds of online political speech.
Under the law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in July,
Russia's state agency for communication (the Roskomnadzor) will
operate a register that identifies websites hosing illegal
content, such as child pornography or the promotion of suicide
or drug use, says The Telegraph. Once a site is identified, its
Internet service provider has 24 hours to force the website
owners to remove the content. If they don't, the provider has to
block access to the site.
Writing in Wired's Danger Room blog, Andrei Soldatov and
Irina Borogan point out that the law also allows the
Roskomnadzor to draw on court decisions in compiling the
register. That is significant, since the courts have banned all
manner of political speech, particularly those that oppose to
"The government will start closing other sites -- any
democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline,"
Yuri Vdovin, vice president of Citizens' Watch, a human rights
organization, told the BBC. The Russian-language Wikipedia site
and the country's premier search engine, Yandex, have also
opposed the law. Yandex even temporarily crossed out the word
"everything" in its logo, "Everything will be found."
Summary Judgments for November 1
Summary Judgments for October 31
Summary Judgments for October 30
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