Lawyer Mind Tricks

December 24, 2015

by Jay Marshall Wolman, CIPP/US

Like many of you, I saw Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  I’m a lawyer and had law-oriented thoughts.  This post contains spoilers, so scroll past this image:

 

indiana-jones-et-le-temple-maudit_1368125780

and this one:

r2d2-3cpo-indiana-jones

OK, that should be far enough.

  1.  Cyber Security.  Star Wars exists in a galaxy where they have some form of holographic Skype/Facetime/etc.  The Jedi Council used in the prequels, and Lord Vader communicated with the Emperor this way.  Yet, in both A New Hope and in The Force Awakens, we have sensitive information transmitted through a physical medium given to a mobile AI.  In The Force Awakens, it makes sense that there are limited copies of the route to Luke.  Presumably they are using some sort of DRM to prevent multiple copies from being made.  Even so, there was a clear data breach–the AI, BB-8, was hacked through social engineering to reveal the route, copied to the memory banks of those who viewed it.  Kylo Ren identified this breach and sought to exploit it; fortunately, Rey was able to prevent it from being exploited, but this was moral luck, and not good planning.  Ideally, the data should have been better secured so that even BB-8 could not access it.  [This appears to be a general flaw, where the R2-D2 was able to plug into the Death Star and access data and control systems.]  Having a single copy, though, also increases the risks that it could be destroyed.  [I should also note that it was silly that R2-D2 was given the sole copy of the plans to the Death Star–those should have been immediately uploaded for broad distribution.  Another example of poor data management.]
  2. Kidnapping/Arrests.  In A New Hope, the Empire kidnaps and tortures an Imperial Senator and destroys her entire planet without due process.  We are told they are evil, so let’s presume ordinary natural rights do not apply under that regime.  Fair enough.  Presumably the First Order, as a non-governmental entity, certainly not constrained by the laws of war, cannot be similarly judged.  But in The Force Awakens, Leia sends Han to bring Ben Solo/Kylo Ren back.  As an agent of the First Order and having been complicit with and committed numerous atrocities, one would expect that he would be required to stand trial for his crimes.  But on what authority could he be held?  The Resistance was not formally part of the New Republic; the support was clandestine.  Blowing up Starkiller Base was a justifiable act of self-preservation (though I do wonder why they didn’t attempt to evacuate).  Holding and trying Ben for his crimes would require the re-establishment of a legitimate government.
  3. Slavery.  We are supposed to feel bad for FN-2187 because he was taken as a child to be raised and conditioned as a storm trooper.  But what of the Jedi?  In Revenge of the Sith and in The Force Awakens, we learn of children left (taken?) with the Jedi to be indoctrinated and trained in their ways.  There seems to be no regulatory oversight looking out for the welfare of the children.  And what of the sentient AIs?  Just because they may be conditioned to thank the maker at the drop of a hat does not make them of less value.
  4. Theft.  A tear comes to our eyes when we think of the demise of the late, great, Han Solo.  You know, the guy who cheated Jabba the Hut.  Who also cheated both the Guavian Death Gang and the Kanjiklub Gang in The Force Awakens.  Who steals back the Millenium Falcon for old time’s sake, from  Rey, who stole it from her guardian.  Granted, it appears that Han did not sell the Falcon, but capturing it mid-flight, seizing its contents and personnel in the process, seems like unlawful self-help.  We are also invited to cheer for Rey–a thief, who by moral luck has some skillz.  We even get to know Kylo Ren based on his chat with dead-grandpa Vader’s helmet–and how he came into possession of that is likely a matter of theft as well.  And let’s not forget the light-saber.  You know–the one built by Anakin, stolen by Obi Wan, fenced to Luke, until the rightful owner, Vader, caused it to be deposited on Bespin.  However Maz Kanata came into possession, it was not hers to give away, least of all to Rey.  As a known Skywalker, Ben Solo clearly had superior title; here, though, since Rey did offer it to Luke (and presumably told Leia), it is back in lawful hands.  This, of course, assumes that galactic estate law permitted the light saber to be demised to a Skywalker, notwithstanding the substantial claims against Anakin’s estate.

Looking forward to Episode VIII!


I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY!

November 4, 2014

You remember that episode, where Michael Scott declares bankruptcy?

Keep that in mind for this lesson, kids.

This happens to all of us, from time to time. A lawyer sends you a letter with some threatening language on it that he thinks accomplishes his goal of making it “confidential.” You know, like this:

CONFIDENTIAL LEGAL NOTICE
PUBLICATION OR DISSEMINATION IS PROHIBITED

The correct legal response is “suck my ass” or whatever you want to say. Ok, fine, how about “your point is invalid”. Let’s go with that. It is nicer, after all. And I’m all about being nice.

Now here’s one thing you can rest assured of: If someone puts that foolishness on their letter, it is because they’re afraid of that letter getting out there. They can’t possibly have confidence in what’s in it. Look, I write a letter, I expect that it might wind up getting slapped on Simple Justice, with Greenfield making fun of it. Even then, I can’t seem to catch every typo. But you know what? If my name is on it, you can bet your ass that I’ll own it.

And here’s why you can make the chucklefuck who signed YOUR letter own it by publishing the shit out of it, if you want.

For starters, saying “This letter constitutes confidential legal communication and may not be published in any manner.” is about as legally compelling as Michael Scott yelling “I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY.” Lawyers do not have magic powers that turn letters into confidential communications. You’re more likely to find a lawyer who can turn water into funk than a lawyer who has the magic spell to make a letter confidential. Sure, there might be some rules that make them inadmissible for certain purposes in litigation. But, you wanna share that letter? Go right the fuck ahead. Unless you’ve agreed to confidentiality, it ain’t confidential.

When I get one, I usually email the other guy and say “I’m not going to respect your request for confidentiality.” I give them a chance to support their position. When they don’t, I ask them if they want to give me something in exchange for confidentiality. So far, no takers.

Then, they realize “holy flaming peckerballs, this Randazza character can see right through the I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY trick! Randazza has spell capability? FUCK, he’s not a fighter, he’s a goddamned level 9 Ranger, and he’s got Druid spells! HE JUST CAST THE ‘SEE THROUGH BULLSHIT’ SPELL!!!!!

I know, it's my intellectualize proprietary res judicata!

I know, it’s my intellectualize proprietary res judicata!

So then they try again…

Aha, smart ass. That letter is COPYRIGHTED! I hereby throw the spell of Title 17!

Bush. League. Shit.

If someone pulls that on you, they’re even more full of shit than the guy who just tries the I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY spell.

Dumbass rolls a 2.

Here’s why:

It is no secret that the film, The People vs. Larry Flynt is one of my favorite movies of all time. It was required viewing in my classes, back when I did the lawprof thing. New hires need to watch it at my firm. You need to watch it.

Most of my readers are fully aware of the Supreme Court case depicted in the film. However, the lesser known case, mentioned for all of 30 seconds in the film, is the Hustler v. Moral Majority countersuit.

In that case, Jerry Falwell took the “Jerry Falwell Talks About His First Time” Campari parody and sent it to his Moral Majority minions — soliciting donations. Falwell took the entire copyrighted work and used it for a blatantly commercial purpose.

One of Falwell’s top executives conceded that the inclusion of a copy of the ad parody was part of a “marketing approach” to fund-raising, and the court can safely assume that this strategy involved encouraging the faithful to donate money. Hustler v. Moral Majority, 606 F. Supp. 1526, 1534 (C.D. Calif. 1985).

However, the court also found that he was not using the ad to elicit support for purely commercial gain, but even if he was, this did not dissolve his fair use defense.

[T]he court must also consider whether “the alleged infringers copied the material to use it for the same intrinsic purpose for which the copyright owner intended it to be used.” Marcus, 695 F.2d at 1175; Jartech, Inc. v. Clancy, 666 F.2d 403, 407 (9th Cir.), cert. denied 459 U.S. 879, 74 L. Ed. 2d 143, 103 S. Ct. 175 (1982) (same); see Italian Book Corp. v. American Broadcasting Companies, 458 F. Supp. 65, 70 (S.D.N.Y. 1978) (fair use generally sustained if defendant’s use not in competition with the copyrighted use). Under this principle, defendant’s use is more likely to be considered fair if it serves a different function than plaintiff’s.

In distributing the parody Falwell evidently meant to provoke the anger of his followers and to comment on the level of obscenity in the work.

The C.D. of California also pointed out portions of the Copyright Act’s legislative history, upon which a re-poster of a demand letter can rely:

The court discerns additional support for Falwell’s position in the legislative history to section 107. The House Report states: “When a copyrighted work contains unfair, inaccurate, or derogatory information concerning an individual or institution, the individual or institution may copy and re-produce such parts of the work as are necessary to permit understandable comment on the state-ments made in the work.” House Report, supra, at 73. It would thus be consistent with congressional intent to find that Falwell was entitled to provide his followers with copies of the parody in order effectively to give his views of the derogatory statements it contained.

Accordingly, when a law firm sends you a cease and desist letter accusing you of illegal activity, you can use that letter to provide your own supporters with copies of it in order to effectively give your own views on the issue — and to gather support for your cause. And… to make fun of that shit (because making fun of buffoons is classic fair use)

The legal landscape for I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY gets even more gloomy as we continue to read the Hustler case. The First Amendment rears her sexy pouty slutty face. (Yes, I want to bang Lady Liberty. Its a fetish. Constitutional cosplay anyone?)

First amendment considerations also enter into the court’s assessment of the purpose and character of defendants’ use. Although the first amendment does not provide a defense to copyright infringement, when an act of copying occurs in the course of a political, social or moral debate, the public interest in free expression is one factor favoring a finding of fair use. See Keep Thomson Governor Committee v. Citizens for Gallen Committee, 457 F. Supp. 957, 959-60 (D.N.H. 1978) (political committee’s use of a portion of rival candidate’s musical composition amounted to fair use in light of public interest in full debate over election and absence of injury to plaintiff). Cf. Robert Stigwood Group Limited v. O’Reilly, 346 F. Supp. 376, 383-84 (D. Conn. 1972), (priests’ un-authorized copying of rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” was not fair use where facts did not support defendants’ contention that their performance was counterattack to original’s “perverted” version of the Gospel), rev’d on other grounds, 530 F.2d 1096 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 848, 50 L. Ed. 2d 121, 97 S. Ct. 135 (1976).

Similarly, anyone who receives a cease and desist letter, from any lawyer (including me) can certainly claim that there is a debate at hand. Without the debate, there would be no complained-of statements or actions. It does not take Justice Brennan to see the First Amendment protection inherent in the republication of a demand letter in this context.

The purpose of copyright is to create incentives for creative effort. Even copying for noncommercial purposes may impair the copyright holder’s ability to obtain the rewards that Congress intended him to have. But a use that has no demonstrable effect upon the potential market for, or the value of, the copyrighted work need not be prohibited in order to protect the author’s incentive to create. The prohibition of such non-commercial uses would merely inhibit access to ideas without any countervailing benefit. Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, 104 S. Ct. 774, 793 (1984)

Under the “harm to the market for the original” prong of fair use, if the defendant’s use would tend to diminish sales of the plaintiffs work, then the factor can count against the defendant. However, that only applies if it would supplant the marketplace for the original. For example, if I copied a demand letter and used it as my own, then I might be committing copyright infringement. On the other hand, if I use the demand letter to ridicule the author, and the result of that ridicule is that consumers form the opinion that perhaps it would not not be a wise choice to select that lawyer to represent them, that is protected speech.

Let us return to Hustler v. Falwell:

The court has carefully considered all the evidence placed before it in light of the factors set out in section 107. It concludes that the “‘equitable rule of reason ‘ balance,” Sony Corp., 104 S. Ct. at 795, tilts sharply in favor of a finding of fair use. Any other result would mean applying the copyright laws in an inflexible manner and ignoring fundamental considerations of fairness. The ad parody was a satire about Falwell. He was entitled to use it as he did.

Exactly. The cease and desist is an instrument of attack upon the recipient. Any court that would find that this is copyright infringement should be reversed or impeached.

Okay counselor, but do you have a case that is exactly on point?

As a matter of fact, I do.

In Online Policy Group v. Diebold, the Northern District of California held that “fair use is not an infringement of copyright.” This is a slight tilt from the more common “fair use is an affirmative defense” logic. The N.D.Calif. held that the copying of the copyrighted materials (Diebold email archives) was so clearly fair use that “[n]o reasonable copyright holder could have believed that [they] were protected by copyright.” The court in that case held that a DMCA notice and take down was defective and that the sender was liable for material misrepresentation. § 512(f) FTW.

Conclusion

In short, while this is not legal advice, I’d say that if you want to reproduce a cease and desist letter as an act of self-defense or criticism, you should feel comfortable that the fair use defense will back you up.

And if you are the author of a cease and desist letter, don’t write anything that you don’t want the entire world to see.

Bottom line, no court has ever held I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY to be valid, nor has any court supported the “DON’T MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE COPYRIGHT” position – but an undisturbed case, relying on mountains of precedent, refutes it.

Lena, meet Barbara.

Lena, meet Barbra.

So with that, here’s a really stupid demand letter from Lena Dunham’s attorneys. It isn’t just dumb because it tries the aforementioned tricks — but substantively, dood… really? You’re supposed to be a better lawyer than that.

Short version of the story: Lena Dunham wrote a book in which she arguably wrote about doing some sketchy shit with her little sister. Truth Revolt wrote about it. The quotes from the book back up the Truth Revolt article. Dunham got all snippy about it. (source)

Yeah, that was pretty fucking stupid.

Its not stupid that she did it. She was a child. Ok. I can live with that. Its not even stupid that she wrote about it. Respect to her. (Ok, not really, book sounds like a piece of shit) But, what the monkeys-eating-their-own-feces-fuck was she thinking in authorizing a law firm to make a stink about it? Stupid. Well, unless they had a meeting and said “hey, Lena, want us to totally fiddle-fuck you by making you look like an asshole? Well then, have we got a plan for you!” If that happened, then GENIUS!

This article constitutes confidential legal communication and may not be published in any manner.

(just kidding)


Woman Charged Under Revenge Porn Law – Oh, Shocker

October 22, 2014
No I wd not cuz I no wut im talking about, LOL thx bai.

No I wd not cuz I no wut im talking about, LOL thx bai.

I hate the whole revenge porn thing. Not just that people do it, but I hate talking about it. Why? Because the whole subject just attracts bullshit like tourists with fanny packs attract gypsies.

One of the biggest sources of bullshit it attracts is the MacKinnonite-Dworkinite “legal scholars.(1) That’s the wing of feminist “thought” that sees everything in terms of “its the girls against the boys, and the boys suck.” They all banded together to make revenge porn a “civil rights” issue, and a gender issue, most inconveniently failing to investigate the facts.

They tend to see this as “a thing men do to women.” Guess what. It ain’t.

Here is how they look at it:

In 2009, Professor Danielle Keats Citron published “Cyber Civil Rights,” arguing, for the first time, that we ought to understand and address cyber harassment as civil rights violations. In that article, she called for a cyber civil rights legal agenda to prevent, punish, and remedy bigoted online abuse that make equality in our digital age “more of a slogan than a reality.” As she documented, the Internet has “all too often reflected and reinforced the offline world’s power imbalances.” Cyber harassers “raise the price” women, sexual minorities, and other members of historically subordinated groups “have to pay to engage with others on- and offline by forcing them to suffer a destructive combination of threats, reputation-harming defamation aimed to interfere with their employment opportunities, privacy invasions, and denial-of-service attacks because of their gender, race, or sexual preference,” she explained. (source)

That was stupid then, and it is stupid now — the notion that online harassment is in any way more focused on anyone by virtue of their race or genitalia. That might have been the case back when there were no women on the Internet. But, even then. Monica Lewinsky claims to be “patient zero” with this shit, and who was her key tormentor? Linda fucking Tripp. And case after case after case shows that harassers are often women, and frankly, more of the serious cases are involving women doing the harassing.

That is in no way intended to mean that I believe that it is 180 degrees from what the “Cyber Civil Rights” idiots think. They’re 90 degrees off, not 180. If we kicked all men off the Internet for a year, I would not imagine that things would improve, at all. Trying to make this a gender issue might serve a publication agenda — because academia loves that shit — but that’s the only thing it serves. It sure as hell does not serve any quest for truth.

So with that as a backdrop, we find this. At least one journalist seems surprised that the first conviction under Virginia’s revenge porn law is a woman. As she is someone whose exposure to revenge porn is probably limited to reading a few stupid blog posts and press releases, coupled with the male stereotypes that she probably carries (fairly, I suppose), her surprise is not all that surprising.

But, when we look at what happened here, is anyone really surprised? News reports about the conviction describe the perpetrator’s motives in pretty familiar terms.

“Waynesboro Police Sergeant Brian Edwards said, “What was the intent of Ms. Craig for posting this? She considered the victim a romantic rival for this one individual’s affections and she said that she did it out of anger.” (source). See also (source)

Yes, there are dickless creeps (I refuse to call them “men”) out there who are behind revenge porn sites, and who distribute the crap. In fact, I’m confident saying that more than half of the perpetrators are dickless creeps. But, a pretty good chunk of them are women — exhibiting some pretty negative feminine type behavior — the whole “woman scorned” thing is a rotten stinky thing. And, just like some people exhibit really shitty behaviors, which are more likely when you have XY chromosomes, there are other really shitty behaviors that come with the ol’ XX model.

So, to answer this bubble headed “journalist”, I will say “No, No I am not surprised.” What I am surprised at is that anyone still buys this bullshit simple narrative of its “boys against the girls.”

That isn’t helpful.

And, I won’t accept the opposite either. Any commenters who say “yeah, it’s all the bitches” can go fuck themselves in advance.

Curing ignorance. It is not really in vogue, but lets give it a whirl, if you’re not too busy.

Update: This sums it up perfectly.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.15.40 PM

___________________
(1) For those of you who don’t know what that means, Andrea Dworkin and Katherine MacKinnon are legal scholars (I use the term loosely) who are alternately credited with the idiotic statement that “all heterosexual sex is rape.” While we are trying to dispel bullshit here, lets do that in all directions. Neither Katherine MacKinnon nor Andrea Dworkin ever actually said those words. The Straight Dope has a good summary of it — here, with links.


Mayer Brown, shame on you. (日本、ストライサンド効果へようこそ)

February 25, 2014

The offensive statue. Photo Courtesy of Melissa Wall, Ph.D. under a creative commons license.

The offensive statue.
Photo Courtesy of Melissa Wall, Ph.D. under a creative commons license.

Every law firm gets confronted (on a pretty regular basis) with the question: “should I put my name on this?

That soul searching comes into play when you wonder, “is this honorable?” You know when it is, and when it isn’t.

I’m not talking about representing a client that you know is guilty — they deserve a defense. I’m not talking about representing a really evil client — because there might be an important legal issue in play.

I’m talking about when you do something truly disgusting.

That bar is pretty low. Despite the lawyer jokes, I have encountered few lawyers who have ever even approached that line.

If a law firm takes on the Nazi party as a client, in furtherance of some greater good, I do not look down on them. Nobody should. Represent a child pornographer? I can see plenty of justification there. There is almost no cause that doesn’t have some justification.

But, sometimes you gotta say “no.” Or, at least if you say “yes,” you must do so with class and dignity.

For example, if you represent a child molester, that is ok. You take it on from the point of “I may not condone what my client did, but he has a right to a defense.” But, if you put in your pleadings “the kid had it coming to him, he just looked so fucking sexy in that altar boy outfit,” well then… you are a dishonorable and filthy-taint-licking-piece-of-shit.

Ok, got that? That is the bar you need to step over. It doesn’t take strong leg muscles.

I’m sort of disappointed that I have to draw that distinction for anyone. But, I come to you with proof that this lesson is actually necessary.

Mayer Brown brings you this masterpiece— a lawsuit where they are trying remove a memorial for World War II “comfort women” from a public park. You see, it “offends” some of their clients. The cause itself is a bit slimy, but how they’re going about it qualifies them as “the least honorable law firm in the world.

For those of you who do not know what the “comfort women” were — they were about 200,000 women (some say as many as 400,000) who were forced into working in whorehouses for Japanese soldiers during World War II. (source)

Many were abducted, and some were barely in their teens. “I was taken at the age of 11,” one former sex slave Kim Young-suk said.(source)

As you can imagine, these women were not terribly pleased with this treatment. And, wouldn’t you know it, but some of them are still all harping on the past.

The few surviving comfort women, all in their 80s and 90s, cry foul.

“I was walking along the side of the road when I was captured and taken away,” says Ok-Seon Yi.

It was 1942, and Japanese and Korean soldiers grabbed her and threw her in the back of a truck. Her family never knew what happened to her, she said, and gave her up for dead. She spent three years at a military brothel in China. She was 15.

She’s 87 now and lives in a home for survivors like her outside of Seoul. She’s tiny, with white hair, frail and quiet — until the subject turns to Japan.

She shakes her fist. “The Japanese government are thieves,” she says. “They’re trying to rewrite history.

“They have no right to take away my honor and dignity,” she adds.

She says she’s thankful for the memorials in the United States, and says America is the only country that can right the historic wrong. (source)

So in comes Mayer Brown to try and put and end to this outrage. Not the outrage of forcing a couple hundred thousand girls and women to suck the cocks of filthy imperial soldiers, mind you — but the atrocious conduct that happened in the City of Glendale, California. You see, the City of Glendale has done something awful — it put up a memorial to the “comfort women.”

“They were raped maybe 10 times a day. On weekends, as many as 40 to 50 times a day. The majority of them were teenagers,” says Phyllis Kim, who as part of Los Angeles’ Korean-American Forum helped bring the statue to Glendale. “There are victims who are still alive, and waiting for an apology.” (source)

This little statue does not sit well with… well, lets scratch our heads for a minute about that, shall we? Who are Mayer Brown’s “clients” in this lawsuit?

Two of the plaintiffs are Japanese-Americans who live in Glendale. The third plaintiff is an “organization” called “GAHT-US.”

Plaintiff GAHT-US Corporation (“GAHT-US”) is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California. The purpose of GAHT-US is to provide accurate and fact-based educational resources to the public in the U.S., including within California and Glendale, concerning the history of World War II and related events, with an emphasis on Japan’s role. (Complaint at Para. 7)

Well, if we look for GAHT-US (The “Global Alliance for Historical Truth”), what do we find? We find that it is a corporation that someone created on February 6, 2014. After 14 days of legal existence, this lawsuit was GAHT-US’s first act — well after slapping up a web page.

This “Global Alliance’s” address is 1223 Wilshire Boulevard #613. That’s a UPS Store.

The world headquarters of GAHT-US

The world headquarters of GAHT-US

Ok, so with that illustrious organization out of the way, lets look at the two people that they managed to get to stand up for this noble cause…

As a Glendale resident of Japanese heritage, [Michiko Shiota Gingery] believes the Public Monument presents an unfairly one-sided portrayal of the historical and political debate surrounding comfort women…” (Complaint at 2).

The other Plaintiff, Koichi Mera, had similar gripes. I do see their point. I mean, on one side you have all these women who were kept in sexual slavery and essentially gang raped for 4-5 years. But, where is the side of the poor Japanese soldiers who had to fuck them? What of them? Have you ever had to fuck a woman who was captive and crying? I mean, think of it? Those poor Japanese rapist soldiers. The fact that nobody thinks of the other side in this discussion is really distressing. Bravo, Mayer Brown, Bravo.

Additionally, the Plaintiffs are upset because the monument offends them. They “would like to use Glendale’s Central Park,” but they now avoid the park because they are offended by the Public Monument’s pointed expression of disapproval of Japan and the Japanese people.(Complaint at 2, 4)

Guess what? I bet the City of Glendale actually loves Japan and the Japanese People. Aside from the fact that they seem to have a disproportionately large number of scat porn enthusiasts (second only to Germany), and this little “comfort women” thing, the Japanese are a-ok by me. For fucks’ sake, they gave us Godzilla. After being the only country to ever get nuked into the stone age, they staggered around for about 18 months, and then they kicked the entire world’s ass at technology, amassing wealth and power on a level that it took 17 Italians to equal the productivity and innovation of one Japanese high school girl with a Hello Kitty purse.

But yes, we all have our blemishes — and government-organized mass rape is a pretty bad one.

So if the consequence of such a sick-as-fuck act is that there’s a bronze statue in the corner of some obscure park 10,000 miles from the nearest piece of Japanese territory, I think that’s pretty fair.

Ok, so their clients are offended and rich, (I presume the rich part). The complaint has at least some rational points. They seem frivolous, but not completely off the wall. One part of the complaint discusses how this memorial interferes with the foreign relations between the United States, Japan, and South Korea. (Complaint at 14). I’m not saying it is a supportable argument, as Boos v. Barry, 485 U.S. 312 (1988) seems to dispense with the key point here. In that case, a D.C. ordinance sought to suppress speech that might chafe foreign powers. This is a little different, since it is private citizens trying to suppress governmental speech, but the core of the matter is the same — smooth foreign relations are not a sufficient justification to suppress speech.

The complaint also makes one rational argument –That the monument went in without the proper procedure being followed before the Glendale City Council. (Complaint at 16). I have to agree with this one (if it is true) — cities should not be engaging in ultra vires acts. And, the complaint could have made those arguments, stating that the complaint was brought reluctantly. Or, just lay off the victims, but make the dull legal points.

But no.

No.

Instead, Mayer Brown put its name to gems like this:

During World War II and the decade leading up to it, an unknown number of women from Japan, Korea, China, and a number of nations in Southeast Asia, were recruited, employed, and/or otherwise acted as sexual partners for troops of the Japanese Empire in various parts of the Pacific Theater of war. These women are often referred to as comfort women, a loose translation of the Japanese word for prostitute. (Complaint at Para. 14) (emphasis added)

You know… “whores.” They just “acted as sexual partners.”

I mean, lets just call them what they really were, BATTLE SLUTS!!!

Right now, my face is figuratively bright red and in searing pain from the epic facepalming that I am imagining doing to myself.

The complaint reads like a who’s who of hypocritical trash. Yoshikazu Noda, the poor mayor of Higashiosaka, Glendale’s sister city is quoted as saying that the installation of the monument was an extremely deplorable situation and the people of Higashiosaka are hurt at a decision made by [Glendale] city to install a comfort woman monument.” (Complaint at Para. 38).

Awwww… does it hurt, Noda? Can you describe the pain? Is it anything like being kidnapped, and then being raped repeatedly, every day, for four or five years? Does it hurt like that? Or just like when you step on a Lego brick in the middle of the night — because that, I tell you, absolutely fucking smarts.

The Plaintiffs want the monument removed and kept off of any and all public property in Glendale, and of course, they want money. (Complaint at 17).

I will give them some credit — at least the complaint did not call for all the remaining comfort women to be rounded up and shipped off to Manzanar.

Despite that small bit of tactful omission, I have never seen anything this dishonorable with a law firm’s name attached to it. I’ve seen dumber shit. I’ve seen more frivolous shit. I’ve seen more unethical shit. But, never seen anything this foul or shameful with a law firm’s name attached to it.

The silver lining in this? Mayer Brown’s abject stupidity and dishonorable behavior will bring their clients into complete disrepute (which they deeply deserve), and will educate more people than ever on the history of the “comfort women.” The “comfort women” have already won this battle – and they aren’t even really on the field.

Don’t let the bastards get you down, “Comfort Women”… Mayer Brown just made your critics into complete laughingstocks.

UPDATE: Looks like Popehat is pissed off about it too

I have written about many maddening lawsuits at Popehat. But I cannot remember a lawsuit that so immediately repulsed and enraged me. (source)


Temple of Sweetness

February 11, 2014

By Tatiana von Tauber

1933, child actress Shirley Temple

1933, child actress Shirley Temple

I grew up watching Shirley Temple as a child. I bet you did too. While we age and time runs from us, death of great icons really bring us something to be grateful for, to see our lives differently or to realize just how someone affected you, more powerfully than you knew. Shirley Temple did that for me. I’m so grateful to be of age where I will remember the sweetness of her childhood song and dance etched into my inner child. She simply brought pleasure to millions through an innocence that is lost so quickly among our girls.

I was born in Czechoslovakia and Shirley Temple’s position as US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia made her especially dear to my heart. I grew up in Miami in a predominately Latino community and in my neighborhood nobody heard of Czechoslovakia. “Checka-who?” In fact, I specifically recall my 4th grade teacher spelling it “Checkoslovakia”.

So, when the Czechoslovakian government fell in 1989, my birth country was finally in the news and in my mind, on the map. When Shirley Temple took ambassadorship, however, I felt especially proud. She added a magical quality of representation to this country no one seemed to know during my youth – and everyone knew Shirley Temple. And, it wasn’t so much that Temple was famous as was the fact that her presence, her history, her movies made people feel a sense of joy. Joy is good!

However, what Temple has achieved in her adult life is far more impressive than her child star success and her legacy extends far beyond her child star image.

Shirley Temple’s life achievements include:

– Ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia

– First female Chief of Protocol of the United States

– Acting as Representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly

As a native Czechoslovakian turned American citizen, what an honor it was to have Shirley Temple act as a liaison between two lands that I love. More importantly, Temple was a graceful, feminine and intelligent role model to many women and little girls. Sadly, culture has moved us to Honey-Boo-boo, a poor quality child star. We can do better, can’t we? I think a little sweetness in little girls is just fine to nurture. Shirley Temple is a fantastic symbol to what little girl sweetness can become!

 


Knox. Knox. No Justice There.

January 31, 2014

By Tatiana von Tauber

What do you think of this Amanda Knox story?

I watched her interview here . It’s moving. I’ve been following the case for years and I empathize as sometimes facts lead to conclusions which create illusion, not truth and it is here we discover the depth of trust (and fault), in ourselves and our systems.

What is justice? Truly, at what level can another human being say “this person deserves x, y or z for punishment” and call it a day? Who is satisfied? What or whom does that “justice” affect and what is its effect? Will our community be better off with someone like Amanda in jail so we are safer or are we merely seeking justice built on what we believe a victim’s life is worth because it’s socially demanded we punish those who kill?

If Amanda Knox did aid in murder, has her emotional turmoil and years already spent in prison – in the battle for her freedom – not counted as “time served in prison” if prison is defined as a place of punishment? Has her particular suffering not counted as anything at all? For the Italian court to accuse Amanda Knox of guilt after innocence, and weigh a hefty 28 year term on her is so striking I feel violated and I’m just a spectator!

Let’s face it, society places value on murders. They happen all the time. Every day.  Why is the destruction of Knox’s life more important than the destruction of yesterday’s murderer? And what about tomorrow’s murderer? What is jail for? Is it a place to make another person suffer for their pain onto another or is it a holding cell to keep the rest of us safer? What factors determine when it’s both? Or is jail a place where we feel, as a society, a sense of accomplishment in that we are doing what we’re supposed to do to “bad people”? Is there hope to rehabilitate or only institutionalize?

I don’t know if Amanda is guilty or not. I do know that I find her to have suffered a good deal for the circumstances upon which she found herself. There’s a point where another human being should suffer for murder (Hitler comes to mind) and then there’s a point where another human being should be given reprieve when being played with like a pawn in a game and having clearly suffered through an aftermath of such accusation. How is 28 years more of prison time a case of justice served at this point in time?

Amanda Knox presents herself very authentically. Maybe she is faking it but to imprison her for another 28 years for a crime that’s been tainted is a crime onto itself. It is way too harsh and unreasonable. Consider that killing the enemy in war constitutes as justified murder – freedom fighting we call it – but Knox’s situation demands almost three more decades of her life? From an innocent verdict to “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”?  Should this be the perfect case of “let it go”?

Life gets complicated when you discover that human beings have varied value and thus death isn’t the most atrocious thing we can do onto another.  The freedom we are given should never, ever be taken lightly as that option for choice is always at risk of being taken from others. I commend Knox’s ability to stay so vigilant with her freedom at hand and it’s terrible to have freedom handed to you like a toy to jump for.

For Italy, home of the Vatican, to not be an example of forgiveness in the light of tainted investigations (and prior innocent verdict!) certainly seems in line with the church’s very own hypocritical philosophy. Italy should have risen above common human nature of reaction. Punishing Knox will do absolutely nothing to bring back the victim, show or teach a lesson that hasn’t already been shown or taught, nor will it contribute to Knox’s potential good, to which I believe Knox is capable of expressing given the opportunity.

By demanding to lock her up further, Italy has shown an example not of justice but “murder to the spirit”. Knox, if imprisoned, would be as lifeless as the victim in the sense that neither could flourish, live a life to better themselves or others and nor contribute to the world through the good that is within them because they weren’t given a chance. One loss of life is enough but when grounds are not certain, why not give benefit of the doubt and rise above human weakness? Sometimes bad things happen and while time is the best healer (and eye-opener), it’s best to move on quickly to weave those experiences into new creations. Give people a chance. Justice is a human construct and in the case of Knox, justice begs for reinterpretation.

Amanda Knox interview: (http://gma.yahoo.com/amanda-knox-39-couldn-39-t-believe-hearing-071851472–abc-news-topstories.html?vp=1)


First Amendment vs. Disabilities Act

May 12, 2013

(From Charles Platt) Is this a real threat, or just posturing? The ADA has already been extended far beyond the areas in which is was first designed to apply. I can certainly imagine regulations compelling web sites to be “equally accessible” to the disabled. Discussion here.


Talking to your kids about gay marriage

December 10, 2012

I used to have neighbors in Flori-duh, whose argument (to me anyhow) against gay marriage was “what am I supposed to tell my kids?

Louis CK had a funny reply to that.

“It doesn’t have ANY effect on your life. What do you care? People try to talk about it like it’s a social issue. Like when you see someone stand up on a talk show and say ‘How am I supposed to explain to my child that two men are getting married?’ I dunno, it’s your shitty kid, you fuckin’ tell ’em. Why is that anyone else’s problem? Two guys are in LOVE but they can’t get married because YOU don’t want to talk to your ugly child for five fuckin’ minutes?”

The issue came up with my daughter, yesterday. Age 4.

She asked what I was reading. I told her, “an article about a Supreme Court case” – 5 questions later, and it was time to make something up, or just tell her, and see if she got it.

I brought up one couple we know who are legally married (and happen to be my son’s “godfathers”). I told her “they are married, like mama and daddy, because they love each other.”

“Oh” she said.

I then told her about our cousin and his boyfriend of 25 years – who we also refer to as “cousin.” I said “they love each other just as much, but they are not allowed to get married, because they live in Las Vegas, which is in Nevada.”

“Oh. That’s not fair.”

There… conversation had. That wasn’t so hard.

I’m glad that my four year old understands the Equal Protection Clause better than some judges. When the gay marriage cases come before the Supreme Court, I’ll be impressed if Samuel Alito or Clarence Thomas are able to show as much intellect and wisdom as a girl who thinks that Santa Claus is a member of the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association.


Anonymous Comes for Hunter Moore – Moore’s Man Card Revoked

December 1, 2012

Anonymous has now targeted Hunter Moore.

In a release published today, Anon writes:

Greetings citizens of the world, We are Anonymous.

This is a call to all Anonymous worldwide, you have a chance to make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of bullied teenagers and protect them from real harm such as rape or stalking.

Hunter Moore, Founder of previous revenge pornography site http://www.isanyoneup.com is coming back stronger than ever from the shutdown of his previous website. This capitalist makes money off of the misery of others.

People submit pictures of others naked to his website and he posted their social networking profiles along with the pictures.

This time he is taking it a step further and plans to list physical addresses next to the victims pictures along with a map to their house, self proclaiming that he has singlehandedly enabled the stalking of hundreds.

His servers are up. he already has domains he is secretly testing and will go public soon. He hides behind a loophole of section 230 of the United States online decency act which states he cannot be held legally accountable for third party submitted content.

This is a call to all of anonymous. We Will hold hunter moore accountable for his actions, we will protect anyone who is victimized by abuse of our internet, we will prevent the stalking, rape, and possible murders as byproduct of his sites.

Operation Anti-Bully. Operation Hunt Hunter engaged. We are Anonymous, we are Legion, we do not Forgive, we do not Forget, Hunter Moore, EXPECT US. (source)

I applaud them for it. I do have one issue with the missive — I don’t think that Moore is as protected by Section 230 as he likes to believe.

But, lets set the legal issues aside for this post: Moore is a douchebag, and deserves everything that Anonymous may throw at him. Here’s why:

Once upon a time, girls weren’t all paranoid about being raped, having shit slipped in their drink, or being stalked. Then, douchebags discovered rohypnol, stalking, etc., which ushered in a new era of “Why has this asshole just showed up at my table with a drink in his hand? Does he think I’m an idiot?”

Now, thanks to these clowns, you need to convince the girl that she should have sex with you AND that you’re not going to rape her or cut her into little pieces. Girls who were once approachable are scared to death to even have a conversation with you in a bar. All because of douchebags who need to circumvent rejection with drugs. And stalking. Lots and lots of stalking.

The douchebag’s MO is to shit out a cloud of fear. That cloud of fear supports an ecosystem that only benefits two kinds of people — other douchebags and second-wave feminists who absolutely love women in fear, because it makes their bullshit message resonate with just enough terrified women to keep a few of them signing up for their classes. Never forget the best way to control behavior is through FEAR. Just like the TSA, fear creates a justification for existence. There is the implied message of “If you challenge me, I’ll fucking spank you, so you better choose wisely.” But, if you take away fear, the assholes evaporate.

Involuntary Porn sites (like those run by Hunter Moore, Eric Chanson, Craig Brittain, and Chance Trahan) are the online equivalent of the asshole who goes to a bar with roofies in his pocket, or who stalks a girl who won’t give him the time of day. They punish all women through fear because they got rejected by their high school prom date or some chick in a bar or…whatever. They get off on the smell of fear and the resultant power over a woman and this is the drug that gives them the warm tinglys.

Imagine if no women had to live in fear of a shithead ex-boyfriend or these dickless fucks. Forget the morality of what they do, if you want, and think about from a purely utilitarian / economic perspective. Without these nimrods, a woman would always feel comfortable letting you take naked pictures of her. Women would feel comfortable sending you those pics as a “hey good morning” present. More naked pictures of girls means a better world for everyone, in my humble opinion.

Real men don’t get off on scaring women. Real men get off on trying to take that fear away.

Not because we are nice, or chivalrous. OK, some of us are, but more importantly, it’s because we want more naked pics and Hunter More and Craig Brittain are fucking with that.

So fuck you, Hunter Moore. Fuck you, Eric Chanson. Fuck you, Chance Trahan. And Fuck you, Craig Brittain.

Any man who gets off on putting women in fear loses his man card.

Good hunting, Anonymous.


Awfully Convenient…

September 30, 2012

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the director of the “Innocence of Muslims” movie, which has been blamed for setting off riots and murders in Islamic countries, has (conveniently?) been arrested for violating the terms of his probation. Among the terms of his probation: He was not allowed to se the Internet or a computer, which I presume he had to do in order to create and distribute his film. (source). From the sounds of it, the guy isn’t the most savory character in the world.

So yeah, it seems to me that he probably violated his probation.

Greg Pollowitz at The National Review wrote:

Listen, if you’re a two-time felon who is out on parole and told not to use an alias in business dealings or use the Internet and then you lie to reporters at the AP and WSJ using your alias and admitting you used the Internet, then what do you think is going to happen? (source)

Which is the only reason that he is now being held without bail, right? (source). Right?

It doesn’t have the slightest bit to do with the content of his film or the way that a bunch of idiots, brainwashed with superstition, reacted to it.

Let us presume that my cynicism is misplaced. Let us presume that it has nothing to do with that. It still sends the wrong message — that when the government does not like your speech, it can find a way to get you, First Amendment or no First Amendment.

Nikki Finke and Dominic Patten, at Deadline Hollywood saw it this way:

His arrest today is an apparent U.S. attempt to appease worldwide Muslims and their clerics and governments demanding for the YouTube video to be removed and its filmmaker punished. In an address on Tuesday condemning the content of the video, President Obama explained, “The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech.” This legal action is a way to preserve America’s  First Amendment principles but at the same time find a roundabout but legitimate way to punish Bakoula for the crudely made film that portrays the Muhammad as a religious fraud, womanizer and pedophile. (source)

I’m not saying that Nakoula should get a free pass for his probation violations. I am not saying that Finke and Patten are correct. Pollowitz has a hell of a good point. Nakoula couldn’t have made his probation violations any more public, and thus prosecutors had to do something.

Nevertheless, if Muslims are allowed to riot and kill people because they are offended at how their imaginary friend gets portrayed, I’m allowed to be offended when the government sends the message (on purpose or not) that “if you publish a film that we don’t like, we’ll find a way to put you in jail.”


What What, Fair Use on a 12(b)(6)?

June 8, 2012

“What what, in the butt?” was the question recently before justices Easterbrook, Cudahy and Hamilton in the appeal of Brownmark Films LLC v. Comedy Partners from the Eastern District of Wisconsin. (Opinion)  At issue was whether South Park’s interpretation of Samwell’s “What What In The Butt,” as performed by Butters in the episode “Canada on Strike,” was non-infringing fair use under 17 U.S.C. § 107.  More interestingly, though, was that Comedy Partners raised the defense on a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss – without any discovery or opportunity therefor (see FRCP 56(d), formerly Rule 56(f)).  The Eastern District of Wisconsin agreed that South Parks’ rendition of What What In the Butt was fair use, and dismissed the Complaint at the pleading stage.

Brownmark did not include the original What What In the Butt video, nor South Park’s adaptation, in its Complaint.  South Park Digital Studios did, however, attach both videos to its motion to dismiss, relying on the incorporation by reference doctrine.  On appeal, the Seventh Circuit resolved this issue in South Park’s favor:

Because the claim was limited to the production and distribution of a single episode, the district court was correct to rely solely on the two expressive works referenced in Brownmark’s amended complaint and attached to SPDS’s motion, as well as the allegations in the complaint, to decide on the fair use defense.

SPDS relies on the incorporation-by-reference doctrine to maintain that reliance on the attached works does not violate Rule 12(d), which requires that Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c) motions containing materials outside of the pleadings be converted into motions for summary judgment. It is well settled that in deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may consider “documents attached to a motion to dismiss . . . if they are referred to in the plain- tiff’s complaint and are central to his claim.” Wright v. Assoc. Ins. Cos. Inc., 29 F.3d 1244, 1248 (7th Cir. 1994). In effect, the incorporation-by-reference doctrine provides that if a plaintiff mentions a document in his complaint, the defendant may then submit the document to the court without converting defendant’s 12(b)(6) motion to a motion for summary judgment. The doctrine prevents a plaintiff from “evad[ing] dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) simply by failing to attach to his complaint a document that prove[s] his claim has no merit.” Tierney v. Vahle, 304 F.3d 734, 738 (7th Cir. 2002). (Op. at 5)

But the Seventh Circuit noted a curious wrinkle to this analysis:

While the application of this doctrine to the present case would seem to allow SPDS’s action, no court of appeals has ruled that the content of television programs and similar works may be incorporated by reference. Several district courts have concluded that the doctrine does apply to such works. See, e.g., Burnett v. Twentieth Century Fox, 491 F. Supp. 2d 962, 966 (C.D. Cal. 2007); Zella v. E.W. Scripps Co., 529 F. Supp. 2d 1124, 1131-32 (C.D. Cal. 2007); Daly v. Viacom, 238 F. Supp. 2d 1118, 1121-22 (N.D. Cal. 2002). And we think it makes eminently good sense to extend the doctrine to cover such works, especially in light of technological changes that have occasioned widespread production of audio-visual works. The parties, however, did not brief this issue, and so we reserve the resolution of the question for a later date. (Op. at 5-6)

Ultimately finding that the Eastern District of Wisconsin was within its jurisdiction to grant dismissal, the appellate court engages in a relatively truncated fair use analysis under the four factors of 17 U.S.C. § 107.  The reason for the brevity?

Since Brownmark never opposed SPDS’s fair use argument in the district court, we consider the argument waived. (Op. at 9)

Ouch.  And, since it’s the Seventh Circuit, that means automatically shifting attorney’s fees and costs under 17 U.S.C. § 505.  What What In the Butt, Indeed.

Perhaps the overlooked gem of this opinion is that the Seventh Circuit has forever enshrined my favorite South Park meme: Internet Money.

The South Park Elementary school boys—Cartman, Stan, Kyle and But- ters—decide to create a viral video in order to accrue enough “Internet money” to buy off the striking Canadians. The boys create a video, “What What (In The Butt),” (WWITB) in which Butters sings a paean to anal sex. Within the show, the video is a huge hit, but the boys are only able to earn “theoretical dollars.”

As the South Park episode aptly points out, there is no “Internet money” for the video itself on YouTube, only advertising dollars that correlate with the number of views the video has had. It seems to this court that SPDS’s likely effect, ironically, would only increase ad revenue. Any effect on the derivative market for criticism is not protectable. Id. at 592. And the plaintiff has failed to give the district court or this court any concrete suggestion about potential evidence indicat- ing that the South Park parody has cut into any real market (with real, non-Internet dollars) for derivative uses of the original WWITB video. (Op.)

Of course, when I use “Internet Money,” it refers to settlements from BitTorrent infringers and others who pay for their wrongdoing.  But, it is evocative of the constant challenge of monetizing the digital ether of the World Wide Web.


Eternity was in our Lips and Eyes**

April 26, 2012

A bit frigid

Egypt’s women urge MPs not to pass early marriage, sex-after-death laws: report.

Apparently, some guys in Egypt hope to have one last romantic moment with their wives once they die.  For up to six hours post-mortem.  At least they are putting in a time-bar; else, Cleopatra and Nefertiti had better start chastity belt shopping.

**Antony & Cleopatra, Act I, scene iii

Update:  Story was fake. Sorry folks. 


Michael Lucas Pays Homage to a Friend

April 25, 2012

By Laura Tucker

Michael Lucas of Lucas Entertainment recently wrote a heartbreaking post about the suicide of former porn actor turned personal trainer Dror Barak.  Lucas describes Barak as “shy, smart, sweet-natured, and serious,” someone who helped him out at the gym because Barak was worried Lucas would hurt himself.

Lucas takes aim at the commenters on the websites reporting Barak’s death, countering their cold-hearted sneers with warm stories about his friend.  Props to Lucas for calling out those who chose to make assumptions about a man they didn’t know.

Nice people don’t do porn, one commenter said. Well, here’s one who did.

Read Lucas’ post here.


U.S. v. Heicklen Explained – a Win for the Wizened and Worried

April 24, 2012

By Larry Sutter, Special to the Legal Satyricon

The Southern District of New York recently issued its order dismissing the United State’s case against Julian Heicklen.  The order is available here.  While this is an interesting case about the protection of speech advocating jury nullification, what is even more interesting is the story behind it – from both the people involved to the affect it has had on New York’s legal community.

The Defendant: An 80-year-old retired chemistry professor who believes in freedom and liberty. Like, a lot. He stands in front of the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan handing out pamphlets advocating jury nullification. Calling him “cantankerous” is an understatement that does violence to the language: With his counsel’s motion to dismiss still pending, he addresses a letter to the federal judge who has his case firing his court-appointed standby federal defense counsel–a letter in which the salutation is “Dishonorable Judge Wood,” and the closing is “yours in disgust and hatred.” Among other requests, the letter sought the indictment of the District’s US Attorney.

As part of the investigation, the US Attorney sends an undercover agent posing as a juror to talk to the professor – who advises him he has the right to decide both the law and the facts in the interest of justice. The professor is then indicted for violating the federal jury tampering statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1504. Ironically, such a charge does not merit trial by jury.

The federal defenders, who moved to dismiss the case on every possible ground before they were fired, including § 1504’s vagueness and overbreadth in violation of the First Amendment. But even in their briefs, the defenders refer to their client as a “shabby old man distributing his silly leaflets.”

New York’s legal community has drawn its battle lines over the case, spawning numerous articles on our precious heritage of freedom.  Prominent attorneys forecast that mere anarchy would be loosed upon the world—as two eminent lawyers argued last December in The New York Law Journal:

“Pause for a moment to imagine how this would work in practice with cases involving politically heated and classically divisive social issues….Runaway jury verdicts would amount to little more than a random 12-person vote….Talk about an engraved invitation for chaos—indeed, anarchy.”

Indeed? Indeed! Which the prosecutors were glad to echo. Last month, an Assistant U.S. Attorney characterized Heicklen’s advocacy as “an absolute threat to the system,” during a hearing on the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

But then comes a noble-visaged Portia of a judge to render justice between these parties.  Filleting the statute as skillfully as the countermen at Zabar’s wield their razor-sharp knives upon the $28-a-pound Nova Scotia salmon, Judge Kimba Wood rules that because the statute—giving effect to all its language, not allowing any of its provisions to be condensed or duplicated—only forbids attempting

“to influence the action or decision of a juror upon an issue or matter pending before that juror or pertaining to that juror’s duties by means of a written communication made in relation to a a specific case pending before that juror or in relation to a point in dispute between the parties before that juror.” (Emphasis the Court’s.)

Therefore, generalized exhortations—as opposed to urging the juror to throw a specific case—are OK. (source)  And you don’t even have to get to all those tricky First Amendment issues, do you?

Nevertheless almost half the decision is spent not getting to the First Amendment issues. In particular, the judge found that the danger, whatever it might be, in free-floating jury nullification advocacy wasn’t clear or present enough to pose “a danger to the administration of justice.” Why shouldn’t the jurors respond as sympathetically to the judge’s instructions to follow the law as she gives it as they might to Heicklen’s exhortation to disregard it?  Indeed, Judge’s Wood statutory interpretation reached the same result Heicklen’s counsel urged in their overbreadth argument, namely, that to convict Heicklen for what he was doing would be to punish protected First Amendment activity, viz.,  speech not directed to a specific case or matter before a particular juror.

Heicklen is said to be pleased and is reported to be planning to resume his post Monday in Federal Plaza and, afterwards, go to lunch with his supporters. Dutch treat, of course. It’s reported (on Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice blog) that his email to this effect was signed, “one small step for a shabby old man, but a giant leap for justice and our country.”


Critics say ‘sexist trousers’ hit below the belt

March 18, 2012

#SexistTrousers was trending on Twitter this week, with many up in arms about the care instructions on a pair of pants. (Source.) The subject of their ire was a label on chinos that first gave the typical cleaning instructions for 100 percent cotton pants, followed up with the remark, “Or Give It To Your Woman. It’s Her Job.”

The purchaser of the pants bought them from Madhouse, a retailer in the UK. Floods of tweeters complained about the pants, vowing never to shop at the store again. One woman was quoted as saying, “Lately I can’t tell which decade I’m living in. What brand are those trousers?! I can only assume that’s a joke.” The company later released a statement saying that it had not been aware of the label before this point.

“I can only assume that’s a joke”? Of course, it’s a joke! The first time I saw the label, I laughed. The tag is hardly offensive to the level of boycotting the brand or the store. In fact, if a guy of mine had these pants, it would probably be an endless inside joke we both could share time and again without it getting old and brought us closer. Lighten up a bit, ladies.

Besides, in my house, it’s always been the person who has the most pairs of underwear doesn’t have to do the laundry–a domestic game of chicken. I always win.