On the outside
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
If former attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs posts a $2
million bond, he can leave the federal prison where he has been
serving time since 2008, the Daily Journal reports. District
Court Judge Glen Davidson also ruled that Scruggs, who was
convicted of bribing a federal judge, must report regularly to
probation officers after he leaves the Montgomery, Alabama,
Scruggs made his name suing asbestos and tobacco companies.
He was accused in 2007 of having bribed a Mississippi state
judge for a favorable ruling in a dispute involving a $26.5
million settlement after Hurricane Katrina. Scruggs pleaded
guilty to the charge and was sentenced to five years in prison
in June 2008. In February 2009, he pleaded guilty in a separate
federal indictment accusing him of attempting to influence
another Mississippi judge, Bobby DeLaughter, and he was given
two more years in prison.
Scruggs has now appealed the second conviction, arguing that
his offer to suggest DeLaughter for a federal judgeship was not
bribery but political speech, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Davidson's decision to grant bail pending the appeal
"is probably the firsbotht victory we've had in five years," said
Zach Scruggs, the son of the former attorney.
By Erin Geiger Smith
During the presidential campaign, Steven Colbert poked fun
at election law by setting up his own political action
committee, the "Colbert Super PAC."
On Tuesday, the Comedy Central satirist took aim at a
copyright law that says once you buy something, you can sell or
dispose of it as you please, also known as the "first-sale
The law is being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court this
term, and Reuters has extensively covered the case, Kirtsaeng v.
John Wiley & Sons. But for those who haven't been following
developments, here's the CliffsNotes version. The case started
with a Thai student attending college in the United States who
asked family and friends to buy textbooks in Thailand, where
they're much cheaper, and send them to him. The student would
later sell the books on eBay for a big profit. The publisher,
who owned the copyright on the textbooks, sued. The U.S. Court
of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit sided with the publisher, saying
the first-sale doctrine doesn't apply to copyrighted goods
manufactured outside the United States.
Colbert's segment, called "Judge, Jury & Executioner,"
started by describing the lawsuit as a "textbook copyright case
in that it's a copyright case about textbooks." Colbert said he
didn't buy the first-sale doctrine. "But if I did buy it, I
wouldn't resell it, because I don't have the rights," he yelled
to his audience. Colbert then dialed rocker Elvis Costello to
discuss selling one of his albums at a garage sale.
By Caitlin Tremblay
A former McDermott Will & Emery partner has been disbarred
for misrepresenting his income on his child's private school
financial aid applications in 1991.
According to the ABA Journal, Bruce Paul Golden prepared
fake tax returns in order to qualify for more than $22,000 in
aid over four years at the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago,
a private elementary school. Complaints were filed against
Golden when the Illinois attorney disciplinary authorities found
out about income discrepancies. He was recommended for
disbarment in August 2011.
Golden worked at McDermott for over 20 years and lost his
job there in 1991, though it's not clear why. But he had sought to have the complaints against him dismissed on grounds that
he's been retired since 2007, according to a Chicago Sun-Times
partner. The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him anyway.
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
Google is trying to stop the German parliament from
extending a copyright law that the tech behemoth says would
threaten the free exchange of ideas on the Internet, reports the Associated Press. In a new ad campaign dubbed "Defend Your Web,"
Google is trying to rally opposition in Germany to newly
proposed legislation that would allow publishers to charge
Internet search engines for providing links to newspaper
articles on services such as Google News, according to the Financial Times.
German publishers, including multimedia company Axel
Springer, lobbied heavily for the legislation, which is backed
by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her coalition, according to Zdnet. Publishers argue that Google gets a free ride on their
content, while the search engine says it drives traffic to
"Most people have never heard of this proposed legislation,"
Stefan Tweraser, Google's Germany director, said in a statement.
"Such a law would affect every Internet user in Germany (and)
mean less information for consumers and higher costs for
Germany is not the only place where laws of this kind are
being proposed. Last month, Mashable reported that French
President Francois Hollande threatened to put through a law that
would force Google to pay publishers for indexing their stories
on Google News.
By Erin Geiger Smith
Cahill Gordon & Reindel partner Floyd Abrams is one of the
most famous First Amendment lawyers around, and he got there
partly by defending The New York Times in the U.S. Supreme Court
when the Justice Department tried to prevent the newspaper from
publishing the Pentagon Papers.
On Tuesday, however, the Times published a letter to the editor from Abrams that criticized an editorial on the Supreme
Court's Citizens United opinion. (Abrams has taken a lot of flak
for representing the winning side in Citizens.)
The 2010 Citizens United decision allowed corporations to
spend as much money as they wanted to persuade the public on
issues or candidates via advertisements or other means. Earlier
this month, Justice Samuel Alito spoke at a meeting of the
Federalist Society and defended the Citizens opinion, saying it
wasn't all that groundbreaking and if corporations didn't have
free speech rights, newspapers wouldn't have the publishing
freedoms enumerated in the Pentagon Papers case, aka New York
Times v. Sullivan.
On Nov. 19, the Times criticized Alito's comparison of
Citizens and Sullivan in an editorial, saying "It is not the
corporate structure of media companies that makes them deserving
of constitutional protection" but their "function -- the vital
role that the press plays in an American democracy."
Not so fast, Abrams says in his letter to the Times. "You
state correctly that in neither case did the court make anything
of the fact that The Times is a corporation," he writes. "But
that is the point."
He goes on to say that the Supreme Court protected political
speech, in Sullivan and Citizens United, whether it's being
spoken by big business or your neighbor. "The law at issue in
Citizens United permitted The Times to endorse candidates while
making it a felony for nonmedia corporations to do so," he
writes. In other words, Abrams believes the First Amendment
protects everyone, corporations and individuals, alike. The
Times shouldn't be surprised by that, Abrams says.
By Caitlin Tremblay
With legal jobs drying up nationally, the Vermont School of
Law school is taking some steps to deal with a simultaneous drop
The school, known for its environmental law program, has
already offered voluntary buyouts to staff and may soon offer
the same to faculty, according to the Associated Press (hat tip:
Above the Law).
The move follows some shrinkage in class sizes. The class of
2013 has just over 200 students while 2014 has about 150, a drop
that caused a $3.3 million budget shortfall that the new dean,
Marc Mihaly, is taking very seriously, the National Law Journal reports. Mihaly also plans to revamp Vermont's degree options,
decreasing the emphasis on traditional, three-year in-classroom
programs and increasing the focus on part-time and online ones.
Summary Judgments for November 27
Summary Judgments for November 26
Summary Judgments for November 23
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