Let your fingers do the suing
By Dan Brillman
A lawsuit involving a Montana barbecue joint and a phone
book ad has been settled, according to the Associated Press (hat
tip: ABA Journal).
Bar 3 Bar-B-Q and its parent company, Big Sky Beverage, sued
Dex Media after the phone book publisher placed a listing for
the barbecue joint under "Animal Carcass Removal" in print and
online directories. The restaurant claimed negligence,
defamation and slander, saying the listing -- which became joke
fodder for "The Tonight Show" -- was not a mistake but a
retaliatory strike to punish Bar 3 for not buying an ad. The
listing has hurt business and brand reputation, said the
lawsuit, initially filed in federal court in September 2011.
The litigants entered settlement negotiations after a
magistrate judge refused to dismiss, but they did not disclose
the terms of the deal.
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
The country's highest military appeals court is set to
revisit a decades-old statute that criminalizes attempted
suicide, reports the Los Angeles Times, and the ruling could
reshape how the Armed Forces treats mental health.
In January 2010, while stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Marine
Corps Private Lazzaric Caldwell slit his wrists and lived.
Caldwell, of Oceanside, California, subsequently pleaded guilty
in military court to a charge of "self injury without intent to
avoid service" but has since reconsidered, according to
Anchorage Daily News. On Tuesday, his lawyers will argue before
the five members of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed
Forces that it is wrong for the military to punish troops whose
mental problems cause them to attempt to take their own lives.
The code used in charging Caldwell stems from World War Two,
when the military sought to punish soldiers who were seeking to
avoid service. Navy Lieutenant Michael Hanzel, who is
representing Caldwell, argues in a legal brief that Congress did
not intend the code to be a strict liability statute used to
prosecute mentally ill people. In a counter-brief, Marine Corps
Major David Roberts argues that the law is clear and
unambiguous, and it helps maintain discipline within the ranks.
This is the first time since the Gulf War of 1990-91 that
the top military appeals court will consider the provision. The
Army has designated September as National Suicide Prevention
By Erin Geiger Smith
In the wake of the David Petraeus scandal, Summary Judgments
has talked a lot in the last few weeks about email privacy (see
"The Bork factor") and the question of how to balance an
individual's rights with the government's need for information.
Now, to add fuel to the fire, it looks like the authorities are
also going after cellphones and the data they contain.
The New York Times has a full report today on the phenomenon
and notes how differently courts have treated evidence taken
from suspects' phones. Courts are "all over the place" on the
issue, an Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer tells the Times.
The article does a great job of showing just how unclear the law
is, pointing, for example, to a Texas federal appeals court
which ruled that officials didn't need a warrant to track
suspects through cell phones, as well as to a Rhode Island
court, where a judge threw out a murder conviction and said cell
phone evidence did require a search warrant. In Washington
state, meanwhile, a court said that text messages were akin to
voice messages that could be overheard by anyone and thus were
not subject to state privacy laws.
The journey towards clarity might start later this week,
when a U.S. Senate committee considers whether police should
have to obtain a search warrant to search emails, no matter how
old. Lawmakers in favor of warrants would have to amend the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which in the past has
been used to conduct searches without warrant of email and
certain kinds of cellphone data.
By Erin Geiger Smith
"It is a common practice among law review editors to demand
that authors support every claim with a citation," writes George
Washington University law professor Orin Kerr in his new article, "A Theory of Law," published in The Green Bag -
tagline: an Entertaining Journal of Law.
That opening line constitutes a huge part of the Kerr's
tongue-in-cheek "article," which is, in total, about half a page
of text. As Kerr points out, law professors and law review
editors alike know the pains of making sure nearly every
sentence -- whether a profound new thought or centuries old
dicta -- is cited to a previous case or article.
To save some time, Kerr suggests his fellow academics simply
cite his broadly-titled article. In his two paragraph tome, Kerr
offers an example of when finding a source might be really
difficult, including when potential citations are "so obvious or
obscure that they have not been made before" or if they are
simply "made up or false."
Kerr, a frequent contributor to The Volokh Conspiracy, noted
in a post in that blog on Sunday that he would usually "post an
abstract along with the link to the full text, but this article
is difficult to condense."
Summary Judgments for November 23
Summary Judgments for November 21
Summary Judgments for November 20
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