Airplanes / Aviation

More fun than document review?

I’m surprised we’re not seeing more of this. As TSA continues to scan and/or feel-up everybody who gets on a plane, raising questions under the Fourth Amendment, an Oklahoman woman stripped down to her underwear to prove a point.

According to a report by News 9 – Oklahoma, Dr. Tammy Banovac, 52, arrived at the Oklahoma City airport wearing an overcoat and in a wheelchair. When she got to security, she removed the coat, revealing her curvaceous figure — clad in nothing but a black bra and panties. She refused to go through the metal detector, so she had to be subjected to a pat-down.

Is there video? Would I be posting this if there wasn’t?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Slightly Crazy Blonde Disrobes for TSA”

We’ve received a number of email messages from readers today conveying some very sad news. In the words of one correspondent, “Texas lost one of its finest lawyers, as well as a great man and father, last night.”

On Tuesday night, prominent Texas lawyer Gregory Coleman — name partner at appellate boutique YetterColeman, former Solicitor General of Texas, and former partner at Weil Gotshal — was killed in a plane crash. Said a second source: “I think most folks in Texas would regard him as one of the best, if not the best, appellate lawyer in the state.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Greg Coleman, Leading Appellate Litigator and Former Texas Solicitor General, RIP”

This morning, the Senate had a TSA oversight hearing to discuss serious issues around secure air travel, notably the use of see-through-your-clothes scanners and aggressive “crotchal area” patdowns. A highlight was the TSA head offering any of the senators that wanted one a sample patdown to experience it for themselves. No happy ending guaranteed.

For the patdowns and scanners, that is. “There must be a way to figure out how to do what’s necessary… and for the privacy concern to be addressed because it’s legitimate,” said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in her opening remarks.

Frequent flyers are increasingly annoyed with their air travel experiences, whether they’re being scanned, felt up, paying for extra bags, or having their flights delayed or canceled. One U.K. man turned to Twitter in January to vent his frustration when his visit to a lady friend in Ireland was thwarted by a snowstorm. Paul Chambers tweeted, “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh*t together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

The British sense of humor tends to be dry. Chambers’s was too dry for the courts there. He was convicted of being a menace and ordered to pay $4,800 in costs and fines. When his appeal was denied last week, it caused an explosion on Twitter. And those protest tweets will soon be turned over to police…

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TSA's T&A?

Taking off your clothes and getting fondled is usually fun… except when it happens at the airport. Going through security before flights has gotten increasingly humiliating over the years. Watching people prepare themselves for inspection by stripping off their shoes, belts, jackets, and sweaters is like the least sexy and most frustrating strip tease ever.

The TSA’s new whole-body imaging machines make the stripping much more efficient. There are two types of scanners — using either millimeter wave or backscatter technology — which show a person without their clothes on, to reveal a glock, bomb-making materials, or smaller, less intimidating equipment. There are now over 300 of the machines in over 60 airports.

The scanners have been controversial for both privacy and health reasons. Some people aren’t comfortable with a random TSA worker seeing them sans clothing, despite promised privacy protections, such as faces being blurred and the TSA officer who views the image not seeing you in person. And some frequent flyers fear the radiation risks that come with being X-rayed on a regular basis.

A privacy civil rights group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, is hoping to stay the scans with a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Can You Fly the Friendly Skies Without Being Seen Naked?”

In a reader poll we took back in August, 80 percent of you expressed the view that JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, famous for his on-board meltdown and dramatic exit, is not a criminal (or shouldn’t be treated as one).

Well, now he is. This morning Steve Slater pled guilty to second-degree attempted criminal mischief, a felony, and a lesser charge of fourth-degree attempted criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Although flight attendants are used to spending long periods of time in confined spaces, Slater isn’t getting any prison time.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Slater must go through at least one year of mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment. If he completes the program in satisfactory fashion, the felony charge will be dismissed, and he’ll be sentenced to a year of probation on the remaining misdemeanor count.

Did anything exciting happen at the hearing? Did Slater take a page from his JetBlue playbook, call Judge Marcia Hirsch a “f**king asshole,” and tell her to “f**k off”?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “JetBlue Flight Attendant Steven Slater Pleads Guilty”

We touched upon this issue in Morning Docket, both today and yesterday: Is Steven Slater — the JetBlue flight attendant who reportedly unleashed a profanity-laced tirade over the airplane’s public-address system, before fleeing the plane via the emergency-evacuation chute, beer in hand — a criminal?

Slater was hit with felony charges of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, on the reasoning that the deployed evacuation chute could have hit someone below. But his lawyer argues that there was no endangerment, since Slater — a flight attendant with about 20 years of experience, since he entered the business at age 19 — checked to make sure nobody was below before deploying the slide.

Let’s explore the legal issues a bit more — with the help of one of our favorite commentators, memoirist turned litigatrix Elizabeth Wurtzel….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Did the JetBlue Flight Attendant Go Down the Slippery Slope Slide to Criminality?”

Part of the frustration is this incredibly long build-up to nothing. Like, ‘Why did I spend 22 years getting A’s and studying for the chance to eat canned chili?’

… I was in the airport watching people move bags from the curb to the curbside check-in, thinking, ‘At least they do something all day long, and I have $450,000 in education and fancy everything, and I’m sitting around all day and watching 2.5 movies a day?’

Brad, a 28-year-old New York lawyer who was unemployed for six months. (Gavel bang: The Careerist.)

avatar Exley ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by EXLEY, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Exley's avatar (at right).]
We apologize for the delay in bringing it to you; we received it later than the other submissions. Alas, the demands of Biglaw are not very conducive to covert participation in a legal blogging deathmatch.]
I saw this rather striking ad at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank this morning (pre-quake):
Lady Justice ad in airport.JPG
The text on the right says: “Justice may be blind but she still sees it our way 92.3% of the time.”
Call me a sick nut but at first I thought it was an ad for the United States of America, to make me feel good about all the rigmarole a person has to go through at airport security these days.
But it turns out that Lady Justice was posing for another almost-all-knowing entity.
Find out who it is after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Mascot of the Day: Lady J.”

Star Simpson MIT student fashion Above the Law blog.jpgIn the wake of our recent post about a dubious defense, here’s another one:

A lawyer for an MIT student held at gunpoint after she walked into Logan International Airport wearing what authorities believed was a bomb asked a judge to throw out the charges Friday, saying the device was a legitimate form of free speech….

Thomas Dwyer Jr., a lawyer for Simpson, said his client didn’t think her shirt would scare anyone. He said she’d been wearing the shirt for several days on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, and it had not alarmed anyone….

“People make these objects part of their identity. It’s a part of their personal expression,” he said. “They are legitimate forms of First Amendment expression.”

Writes Blogonaut:

[A] 9mm round from an airport police handgun might be a legitimate “free speech” reply to a person with a battery-powered rectangular device on their chest with flashing lights and apparent plastic explosive in their hands.

The marketplace of ideas. Ain’t it grand?
P.S. Is the Tom Dwyer involved in this case the well-regarded Thomas E. Dwyer, Jr., of Dwyer & Collora (formerly Dwyer, Collora & Gernter, before Nancy Gertner was appointed to the federal bench)? If so, we’d expect a former state and federal prosecutor to offer a more compelling defense.
P.P.S. In fairness to Dwyer, another argument he’s making — that state law does not clearly define a “hoax device” — seems stronger.
Woman charged with wearing fake bomb says device was free speech [Worcester Telegram via Blogonaut]
Earlier: From the Department of Dubious Defenses

Kyla Ebbert Hooters Playboy breasts nude Above the Law blog.jpgRemember Kyla Ebbert, the comely young woman whose sexy outfit was deemed too revealing for flight by Southwest Airlines? We mentioned her story in passing back in this post (fourth link).
Well, it seems that Ms. Ebbert is back in the news — er, nude. From the AP:

A 23-year-old college student who was told by a Southwest Airlines employee that her outfit was too revealing to fly is wearing even less on Playboy’s Web site….

Kyla Ebbert appears in a series of pictures — some in lingerie, some nude — under the heading, “Legs in the Air.”

“They’re very tastefully done,” Ebbert told The Associated Press on Thursday. “I don’t see anything wrong with the female body.”

Indeed. And we’re big fans of Playboy, which we read strictly for the articles (and the ATL shout-outs).
So what does Kyla Ebbert want to do with her life?

Ebbert worked at a Hooters in San Diego but said she wants to become an attorney, and doesn’t think posing nude should get in the way of her professional aspirations.

“This was beautiful and classy. I don’t see why it would affect a professional position,” she said. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Ebbert is absolutely right — there’s a long and distinguished tradition of law students posing in various states of undress. See here.
So, when’s the application deadline for Miami Law?
Flyer told to change outfit poses nude [AP via Yahoo! News]

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