By Peter Rudegeair
It may not sound as momentous as the ballot initiative that
asked California voters whether the death penalty should be repealed, but a public-health measure that Los Angeles County
residents approved on Election Day may cause a $1 billion
industry -- the adult film business -- to exit the state,
The new law, supported by the American Medical Association
and the American Public Health Association, requires adult film
stars to wear condoms when shooting pornographic films and
requires producers to acquire public health permits.
Pornographers, however, say the measure is unnecessary because
there hasn't been an HIV cases in the industry in eight years.
Moreover, they argue that the condom requirement would turn off
performers, producers and viewers. Enforcement could also be an
But not every pornographer thinks the law will have a big
effect. "It doesn't change anything -- we'll simply shoot in
Hawaii, Mexico or the desert," Hustler magazine publisher Larry
Flynt told Bloomberg. "We'll fly to Cabo for a week or 10 days.
It's not a big deal."
By Dan Brillman
Arthur Gallagher really likes to smoke. So much so that the
resident of Clayton, Missouri,sued the city in district court
last year over a ban on smoking in its parks, saying the
ordinance was a violation of his free speech and due process.
Smoking is a fundamental right, he claimed, because of
"tobacco's ancient traditional role in American history" and
because it is an "intimate part of life," akin to a woman's
right to an abortion or consensual sex.
The case made its way to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals,
which yesterday affirmed the district court's initial decision
to dismiss, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Gallagher said he "ecstatically enjoys" smoking in public
parks (we don't want to know what that means exactly) and that
tobacco smoke can't be harmful outside because it dissolves in
the air. As the court's decision notes, however, a 2006 surgeon
general's report found that any amount of secondhand smoke is
dangerous anywhere. In fact, it was that report the city of
Clayton partially based its decision on in the first place. The
court found that the city has leeway to make public health
decisions based on a "strong presumption of validity."
New gig for Holder?
By Erin Geiger Smith
As Reuters reported, Attorney General Eric Holder said
Thursday that he was unsure whether he would stay on for
President Barack Obama's second term. "Do I have some gas left
in the tank?" is the question he said he is asking himself.
If Holder decides to step aside, The Atlantic's legal
analyst, Andrew Cohen, has a lengthy column (but well worth the
read) with an idea for the AG's next gig. He should lead a
commission on election reform that Obama should impanel to
investigate voter suppression, voter fraud and all other threats
to voting rights, writes Cohen. As you may recall, challenges to
new voter ID laws have been a huge topic this election season,
and the long waits voters experienced on Tuesday even got
recognition from Obama in his victory speech. "We have to fix
that," the president said.
Cohen notes that Holder has already showed he is on the side
of voter rights, pointing to Texas v. Holder, where the Justice
Department fought so that Texans didn't have to travel hundreds
of miles for state ID cards.
Should Holder decide to take the lead of this
not-yet-created division, he would of course need a big-name
support staff. The Atlantic article suggests that former
Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor and "former star
prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald" also take roles. Holder might
have to do a little work to recruit Fitzgerald --- Skadden,
Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom announced in late October that he
was coming aboard as a partner.
PETA ads banned
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a German
court's ban of a PETA campaign that uses images from the
Holocaust in an animal rights poster, reports the Jurist.
In March 2004, PETA planned to launch "The Holocaust on your
plate," a campaign protesting livestock conditions. Images of
concentration camp inmates were juxtaposed with those of animals
in mass stocks.
Members of the Central Jewish Council in Germany filed a
petition in a Berlin court arguing the campaign was offensive
and violated their basic human dignity. The court agreed and
banned the campaign on grounds that PETA's right to express an
opinion did not trump the plaintiffs' right to dignity.
After appeals in two higher German courts failed, PETA
switched tactics and petitioned the human rights court in
Strasbourg on freedom of expression grounds. But on Thursday,
the European Court on Human Rightsupheld the ban, ruling that
the historical and social context of the expression cannot be
ignored and the lower courts had honored a special obligation
towards Jews living in Germany.
Big law goes to Washington
By Peter Rudegeair
Big law didn't only contribute money to this year's House
and Senate races, it also had some skin in the game. Morgan,
Lewis & Bockius; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Akin, Gump,
Strauss, Hauer & Feld; Thompson Hine all had former partners
competing in this year's election, Am Law Daily reports.
So who were the winners? Republican Ted Cruz, an appellate
litigation partner at Morgan, Lewis, is headed to Washington,
D.C. after receiving nearly 57 percent of votes in the race for
Texas's open Senate seat. Texas voters didn't seem to be turned
off by opposition ads run criticizing the Cruz's affiliation
with a firm that allegedly donated over $200,000 to President
Barack Obama. In New York, Democrat Sean Maloney won a House
race for the 8th District, which includes parts of Westchester
and Rockland Counties. Maloney started his legal career as an
associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher and will leave his post as
an energy partner at Orrick before heading to Capitol Hill.
As for the losers, they include Senate bid of Tommy
Thompson, a former Republican governor of Wisconsin, a health
care partner at Akin Gump from 2005 until this past January. The
victor, Tammy Baldwin, had hammered Thompson for working at a
"powerful Washington lobbying firm" in ads, even though Akin
Gump employed him as an attorney, not a lobbyist. In Ohio,
Democratic candidate and former Thompson Hine corporate partner
Sharen Neuhardt failed to unseat incumbent Mike Turner for the
congressional seat for the state's newly created 10th District,
which includes Dayton.
By Dan Brillman
A June class action settlement against www.classmates.com
awarded $2.75 million to customers duped into joining via
deceptive ads, but after attorney's fees and administrative
costs, each of the 700,000 plaintiffs will get a check for only
$3.93. (The lawyers' cut was initially $1 million, but after
complaints from the Center for Class Action Fairness, U.S. Judge
Richard Jones clipped it by $200,000, reports Ars Technica.)
The suit was filed after spam-style ads led users to believe
old school chums were actively looking for them, when in fact
they were not. They were forced to pay registration fees to find
out for sure.
The class, as one might imagine, wasn't pleased with the
result (on Twitter, one person asked if she should "get it all
in pennies and roll around on the bed in it) and neither was
Judge Jones, who had thrown out an initial 2010 settlement
offering $2 coupons towards the site. "Class actions ... are
supposed to be about class members," he said in his final order.
"From their perspective, it is difficult to muster much
enthusiasm for this settlement." A fine sentiment, but somewhat
hollow words for plaintiffs who had paid as much as $40 to join
the site in the first place.
Moral of the story: When you have 700,000 classmates,
perhaps it's time to find cheaper lawyers.
Summary Judgments for November 8
Summary Judgments for November 7
Summary Judgments for November 6
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