By Caitlin Tremblay
One of this season's big wedding trends has nothing to do
with color schemes or cuts of bridesmaid dresses -- it's a court
Portions of a landmark same-sex marriage decision are
popping up as readings in both same-sex and heterosexual
weddings, according to The Boston Globe. The case, Goodridge v.
Department of Public Health, was decided in 2003 by the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and made the state the
first in the nation to recognize same-sex marriage.
Couples are choosing segments of Goodridge because its
written in non-legalese, says the Globe. One of the most popular
passages reads, "Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal
commitment to another human being and a highly public
celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy,
fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for
security, safe haven, and connection that express our common
humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the
decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous
acts of self-definition."
The decision was penned by Margaret H. Marshall, who was
chief justice on the court at the time. She says she is "touched
and honored" by the fact that her decision is so popular at
Five feet high and sinking
By Dan Brillman
As residential zoning spats go, this one is a head
scratcher, pitting a New York City developer who has converted
the former home of actress Katharine Hepburn into a sprawling
compound, against the town of Fenwick, Connecticut. The
centerpiece of the fight is a fencepost the town felt was 12
inches too high, and has ended up costing Fenwick thousands of
dollars in legal fees, reports The New York Times.
The constructionist drama began in 2005, when Frank Sciame
began renovating the former Hepburn home. As part of the work,
Sciame installed posts five feet high at the entrance to the
estate's driveway without prior approval of the town commission.
He was ordered to lower the posts by a foot to make them less
visible. Instead of shortening them, however, Sciame raised the
ground. In 2010 the town sued and won, and Sciame complied with
the ordinance by hacking off the top of the post, right through
the house's number. In the meantime he appealed the ruling.
Now a Connecticut state appeals court has issued an opinion,
ruling that Sciame's claims of emotional distress and harassment
were unfounded. Real estate side note: Sciame reportedly bought
the property in 2004 for $6 million and has it on the market for $30 million. Talk about emotional distress.
By Eileen Daspin
Traditionally law practices that get a shout-out for their
pro bono work are big firms with the resources to devote time
and manpower to causes ranging from the death penalty to helping
arts organizations. This year the National Law Journal's Pro Bono Hot List includes International Business Machine's
corporate legal department, which worked on behalf of people
whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Legal
departments, says the NLJ, increasingly are committing resources
to such projects. Some of the law firms that made the list are
Arnold & Porter, which led a team of 19 lawyers in a fight to
protect voter rights in Pennsylvania; Foster Pepper, which
helped a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor secure reparations from
the German government, and Latham & Watkins, which has been
battling human trafficking.
Lipstick on a pig
By Dan Brillman
Cosmetic companies like Avon, Mary Kay and Estée Lauder are
facing animal-rights lawsuits in the United States because of
Chinese laws that require animal testing. As Corporate Counsel
reports (hat tip: Connecticut Law Tribune), the suits highlight
potential conflicts across cultures when the bottom line is
Avon, Mary Kay and Estée Lauder all boasted a "cruelty-free"
policy -- meaning no testing on animals -- as early as the
1980s, ensuring a seal of approval from People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals, the animal rights group. But once the
companies began distributing their wares in China, they've had
to comply with local laws requiring testing on animals as an
added safety measure.
When five California women discovered that the beauty
companies were trying out their products on animals, they sued
all three firms together last February for false advertising and
asked for $1 million in damages. Avon, Mary Kay and Estee Lauder
responded that they have not concealed the fact that they test
on animals where mandated by law and pointed to disclaimers on
The district court in Santa Ana has since severed the cases.
Mary Kay has been ordered into mediation. The remaining
complaints are in the discovery stage, according to Corporate
Summary Judgments for January 8
Summary Judgments for January 7
Summary Judgments for January 4
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