A. Wallace Tashima

Borat Above the Law Legal Blog Law Gossip Borat.JPGOn Friday night, we saw Borat at our local movie theater. We found it hilarious for the first fifteen minutes, before it turned repetitive. That said, there were some impressive set pieces in the second half of the film, such as the hotel room wrestling match.
(We viewed Borat on the recommendation of one of the Elect, and we spotted another in the theater. Supreme Court clerks: They’re just like us!)
If you’d like to know more about how the film was made, including who was in on the joke and who wasn’t, check out this Guide to Borat, from Salon (via How Appealing). According to Salon, most of the people who interacted with Sacha Baron Cohen in the movie were NOT in on the joke.
Commenting on “Lexytime” — our prior post about Borat, concerning two fraternity brothers who are suing the film’s producers — Tortious Malfoy wrote:

If you had seen the movie you would know why they’re suing: they went on a racial rant about how they wish they could still own slaves, women were nothing, and alot of other hostile stuff. Don’t think they’ll be getting much love in the South anytime soon, especially considering the movie’s reach.

Actually, if Borat’s portrayal of the South is even halfway accurate, we think that the plaintiffs might be embraced by southerners (e.g., the people at the rodeo, the gun store owner, etc.).
Having seen Borat, we actually have the opposite reaction to what Tortious Malfoy predicted: We are LESS sympathetic to the fraternity brothers’ lawsuit against 20th Century Fox and One America Productions. The frat boys are recorded drinking, watching porn, and spewing racist and misogynistic statements. And now they’re upset because, among other things, they thought that the movie would only be screened in Europe? Please.
Furthermore, we agree with this commenter at the WSJ Law Blog. In vino veritas. If the frat boys come across as racist and misogynist, well, maybe there’s a reason for that.
We also note that the frat boys’ lawsuit is counterproductive, due to the Robert Steinbuch effect. By filing a lawsuit, the plaintiffs are only highlighting the actions and statements of theirs that they did not want exposed to public view.
The impoverished Romanian villagers who are now thinking about suing over Borat are far more sympathetic than the frat boys. Regardless of the legal merits of the contemplated action, Cohen and the production companies might as well throw some money in the villagers’ direction, especially in light of Borat’s financial success.
A bunch of poor, exploited Romanian villagers are sure to arouse some public sympathy. Especially this man:

Mr Tudorache, a deeply religious grandfather who lost his arm in an accident, was one of those who feels most humiliated. For one scene, a rubber sex toy in the shape of a fist was attached to the stump of his missing arm – but he had no idea what it was.

Borat was number one again at the box office this past weekend, taking in another $28.3 million. Surely Cohen and Fox can afford to do something nice for the villagers. Like buying Mr. Tudorache a fist dildo made of glass, not rubber.
* The plaintiff frat boys are represented by the very handsome Olivier Taillieu. Here’s an excerpt from his unintentionally amusing bio:

[Olivier clerked] for the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, one of the most prestigious and sought-after clerkships in the country. Following his clerkships, he entered private practice as a litigator in the Intellectual Property and Technology Department in the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, one of the top 15 law firms in the country as ranked by revenue by The American Lawyer.

Now, we are the last people to dispute the prestige of a Ninth Circuit clerkship and a Biglaw gig. But traditionally law firm bios merely list these credentials, without the grandiose description.
(Then again, self-promotion is to be expected from a former contestant on the short-lived, ill-fated reality TV show, The Law Firm.)
Earlier: Prior Above the Law coverage of Borat (scroll down)
Collected Borat coverage [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
Guide to Borat [Salon]
Borat film ‘tricked’ poor village actors [Daily Mail]
Olivier A. Taillieu, Esq., bio [Zuber & Taillieu]

passport united states passport.jpgWe realize we’re late on this, since the news broke on Friday. But at the time, we thought Purcell v. Gonzalez was just a run-of-the-mill Supreme Court ruling. We didn’t realize it featured delicious benchslaps of the Ninth Circuit, the lower court whose decision was vacated.
The state of Arizona adopted a rule for next month’s elections requiring most voters to show photo identification before casting their ballots. Such rules, adopted by other states as well, are generally supported by Republicans — who view them as helping to cut down on voter fraud — and opposed by Democrats — who believe they may deter poor, elderly, disabled or minority voters from voting.
A legal challenge to the picture ID rule was mounted in Arizona. Some background about the case, from the L.A. Times:

In May, the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and several other civil rights groups sued to block the voter identification rule from being enforced Nov. 7. They called the rule a “21st century poll tax” because it could force some poor voters to purchase photo ID cards….

A federal judge refused to block the law from taking effect, but on Oct. 5, a two-judge panel of the 9th Circuit issued an order saying the law could not be enforced for the upcoming election. The appeals court did not explain its ruling.

Arizona’s attorney general asked the Supreme Court to intervene. And on Friday afternoon, the high court issued a six-page opinion that set aside the 9th Circuit’s order. It noted that the 9th Circuit’s “bare order” did not give a good reason for blocking the law from taking effect.

That’s a charitable description of the Supreme Court’s treatment of the Ninth Circuit. Here’s an excerpt from the opinion itself:

On October 5, after receiving lengthy written responses from the State and the county officials but without oral argument, the panel issued a four-sentence order enjoining Arizona from enforcing Proposition 200’s provisions…. The Court of Appeals offered no explanation or justification for its order. Four days later, the court denied a motion for reconsideration. The order denying the motion likewise gave no rationale for the court’s decision.

Translation: “Despite receiving oodles and oodles of briefing from state and county officials, the Ninth Circuit stopped Arizona from enforcing its rule — without even bothering to give the state its day in court. Then, when asked to rethink their decision, those Ninth Circuit morons just said ‘NO’ — again without bothering to explain themselves.”
The discussion continues, after the jump.

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