Katie Holmes, Esq?
By Caitlin Tremblay
A law career could be on the horizon for Katie Holmes. The 34-year-old actress, who's been making a new life for herself and daughter Suri in New York City since her divorce from Tom Cruise, is planning on going to law school, if sources cited by the National Enquirer can be trusted.
It could be a good time for Holmes. Her Broadway show "Dead Accountants" closed two months earlier than expected and she's apparently been spending her days buying cute hats for Suri. The law is also in her blood: Her father Martin Holmes is a divorce attorney with Shindler, Neff, Holmes, Worline & Mohler, in her hometown of Toledo, Ohio, and her brother is also an attorney. Both went to Toledo Law, according to Above the Law.
Some actors have gone on to have successful law careers. Child star Jeff Cohen (most notably, Chunk from "The Goonies") got his JD from UCLA Law School and now has his own entertainment firm, Cohen Gardner. Charlie Korsmo, who appeared in "Hook" and "Can't Hardly Wait," is now a law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
Holmes, who spent her college years playing Joey Potter on the hit TV show "Dawson's Creek," would have to get her B.A. first to join the ranks of child-stars-turned-attorneys.
Car and ex-driver
By Dan Brillman
Driverless cars might not be in showrooms until 2020 or even later, but it’s never too early to decide questions of liability. There are many potential defendants in self-driving car accidents, reports the Wall Street Journal: the owner, the passenger nearest the wheel or pedals, the car maker or someone making modifications to the car, to name a few.
Lawmakers in Arizona are working with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to indemnify carmakers in cases where self-driving cars are modified ex post sale. It’s unclear exactly what modifications could be made to the devices, but the provision has been written into a similar law in Florida, though not in California.
Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the group, acknowledged the difficulty for states to cohesively address the issue and said a federal set of laws were probably necessary. “The liability costs for this could be huge,” she told the Journal.
Can’t agree to disagreee
By Anna Louie Sussman
The controversial military court proceedings at Guantanamo Bay have gotten even more contentious, as the two lawyers running the show jostle over which charges can or can’t be brought, the Guardian reports.
Accused 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators face 2,976 murder charges in the trial. Last week Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor for the military, sought to drop “conspiracy” from the list of charges because U.S. appeals courts have ruled that it is not a crime under international law. Martin believes the trials will proceed more smoothly without the conspiracy charges.
Retired Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald, who retains overall responsibility for the prosecutions, has blocked Martin’s request and is insisting the charges remain. Lawyers say the battle between the prosecutors leaves the status of the charges in legal limbo.
On Friday, a U.S. appeals court overturned the war crimes convictions of another alleged supporter of al Qaeda accused of “material support for terrorism,” once again because they were not recognized as war crimes under international humanitarian law at the time they were committed. The same court also overturned Osama bin Laden’s driver’s conviction on similar grounds in October.
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
Aaron Tobey stripped to his shorts at
an airport security screening area. Then he
showed anyone who would look an abbreviated
version of the Fourth Amendment written on his chest
with magic marker. Then he was arrested. And now, says a federal appeals
court, he can go to trial to protest the
30, 2010, Tobey was scheduled to fly
to Wisconsin from Richmond, Virginia, to
attend his grandfather’s funeral. To protest
the Transport Security Administration’s search policies,
the young man placed his sweatpants and T-shirt on the conveyor belt and revealed on his torso a summary of the Fourth Amendment,
which protects Americans from unreasonable
searches and seizures. He was immediately handcuffed and arrested and held for
about 90 minutes by TSA officials.
In March 2011, Tobey filed a lawsuit
against the officials, claiming that his
rights under the First, Fourth and 14th
Amendments were violated, and sought
$250,000 in damages. A federal district court in Virginia dismissed his Fourth Amendment claims but kept intact his allegation
that he was arrested for exercising his First Amendment rights. Now the 4th Circuit appeals court, in a 2-1 ruling, has agreed. In his
wide-ranging opinion, Judge Roger Gregory invoked
Benjamin Franklin, who the judge said had
warned against a temptation to allow national security to override free speech
when he wrote that those “who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Helping victims of child porn
By Anna Louie Sussman
If the purpose of restitution is to “cause restoration to a previous state,” can it work for victims of child pornography whose images may have been distributed all over the world, asks Emily Bazelon in The New York Times Magazine.
Typically, people convicted of possessing child pornography are sent to prison, and the federal mandatory minimum for possessing one photo is five years, the sentence increasing with more photos. U.S. lawyers James Marsh and Carol Hepburn have sought financial restitution for two of their clients, identified in the Times story only by the names Amy and Nicole, by relying on a provision in a 1994 statute that gives sex-crime victims the right to full compensation for their losses.
In both cases, the lawyers have pursued multiple defendants accused of possessing images of Amy and Nicole and have sought to hold each of the defendants liable. In Amy’s case, Marsh has won over $1.6 million so far from more than 150 defendants. The victim identified as Nicole, who is Hepburn’s client, has collected over $550,000 from over 200 defendants.
Courts have disagreed on the validity of this approach. Bazelon writes that at least a dozen courts have upheld defendants’ appeals, but in an October 2012 decision 15 judges of the 5th Circuit decided 10-to-5 in Amy’s favor.
The trauma the two victims experienced made it difficult for them to work and attend college, the article says, although one recently graduated and hopes to one day pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. They both agree that without the financial awards, they could not get the counseling they need.
“I need the help I’m getting, especially the counseling,” Nicole tells Bazelon. “I want other people to get it, too.”
“Restitution can’t undo the damage of the past,” Bazelon writes. “It can’t actually make her or Amy whole. Still, Nicole says, ‘It can help give us the tools to heal.’”
By Ted Botha
Conservation group Scenic America calls digital billboards “TVs on a stick,” and if the organization has its way, they will soon be a thing of the past.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week, Scenic America alleges the Federal Highway Administration has violated the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 by allowing the billboards to proliferate, according to the Phoenix Business Journal. The “brightly lit signs with commercial messages that change intermittently every few seconds … devalue private property, distract drivers, tarnish the beauty of our natural and built landscapes and negatively impact the quality of life for many people,” states the lawsuit.
Digital billboards first appeared in 2005. Two years later the Federal Highway Administration, despite a longstanding prohibition on intermittent commercial message lighting, ruled that “messaging signs changing as frequently as every four seconds were not intermittent," according to Scenic America.
"For over five years we have pleaded with FHWA to do the right thing and revoke the memorandum," said Mary Tracy, president of Scenic America, on its website. “These standards were meant to protect all citizens from the trespassing glow of digital billboards flashing commercial advertisements along high-speed roadways.”
Advertisers spent $6.4 billion on outdoor signs and billboards in 2011, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, while political candidates, especially Mitt Romney and Republican candidates, used digital billboards increasingly as the 2012 campaign heated up and radio ads were sold out.
Summary Judgments for January 25
Summary Judgments for January 24
Summary Judgments for January 23
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook