Airplanes / Aviation

* I’m flying this weekend for the first time in over a year (it couldn’t be avoided). I’ll need to brush up on what rights I still retain during air travel. As long as I acknowledge TSA’s droit du seigneur to my wife, I’m allowed to carry an unopened water bottle on board, right? [Legal Blog Watch]

* There’s a statement from the University of Baltimore on the Phillip Closius situation. They say their “forward momentum” will continue. Does that mean they expect future Baltimore Law students to be unable to run a Google search? [WSJ Law Blog]

* Lat imagined a future legal career for Casey Anthony that starts with a Anthony getting a GED (before clerking on the Supreme Court and becoming a law partner of Jose Baez). But doesn’t Hustler seem like something more in her wheelhouse? [Gawker]

* Have we done irreparable damage to our credit rating, unless we can prove we have a legal “fail-safe” in case a vocal Tea Party minority hijacks the entire freaking nation again? [Blackbook Legal]

* Taco Bell employee fired for refusing to get his hair cut. I guess they were worried about 100% real hair mixing with their isolated oat product — er, seasoned beef. [Associated Press]

* Howrey going to massively reduce our assets for bankruptcy reporting purposes? [Chapter11Cases]

The tyranny of air travel continues. But every day, the resistance grows.

Today brings us word of another attempt by the allies of freedom to fight against the invasive and demeaning tactics our government uses against air travelers. There’s been a lawsuit filed by financial consultant Malinda Knowles against JetBlue Airways.

Her allegation? An airline worker asked her to confirm that she was wearing panties.

Knowles claims that was escorted off the plane, then made to lift up her shirt. Even after she showed her drawers to the worker’s satisfaction, she was still booted off of the flight.

And this wasn’t even ordered by a member of the TSA goonsquad under some BS security rationale. Knowles was allegedly asked to flash a JetBlue worker to confirm that she met with JetBlue’s dress code….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Asking For Proof Of Panties Is One Way To Put Them in a Bunch”

Here in New York City, the headquarters of Above the Law, we’re still dealing with the aftermath of the Great Blizzard of 2010. Check out our slideshow for some images (like the one at right).

Although the snowstorm ended on Monday, and it’s now Wednesday night, many streets remain unplowed and many sidewalks uncleared. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, generally praised for his tremendous competence, is taking a lot of flak for the city’s inadequate response.

And that’s just in terms of politics and public relations. Wait until the lawyers get involved!

What possible causes of action could arise out of the snowstorm? Let’s discuss….

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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?

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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…

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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”?

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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….

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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.)

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