More legal troubles for controversial celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, aka Mario Lavandeira. The latest lawsuit against him, filed by Universal City Studios, asserts copyright infringement, arising out of Lavandeira’s publication of a topless photograph of Jennifer Aniston (taken from allegedly stolen footage from “The Break-Up”).
The complaint is fairly straightforward. The most amusing part of the filing is an exhibit to the complaint: the topless Jennifer Aniston pic, with a strategically situated “Redacted” stamp:
Jennifer Aniston pic photo Above the Law.gif
During our time in commercial litigation, we got to know the “Redacted” stamp very well — perhaps too well. But we never saw the “Redacted” stamp used in quite such an interesting way.
We suspect that the Court will order an in camera examination of the unredacted photograph. Especially if the case winds up before Judge Manuel Real.
Lawsuit Over Topless Aniston Photo [The Smoking Gun via Drudge Report]

Writing About the Law New York Law School NYLS Above the Law.jpgWe had a blast at last week’s Writing About the Law conference, at New York Law School. And we weren’t the only ones. Here’s a (rather belated) round-up of conference coverage from the blogosophere:
1. Social life of a blawger [Overlawyered]
As you can see from his post, Walter Olson was a social butterfly at the conference. We enjoyed sitting next to him at lunch, where we talked about — what else? — his famous neighbor in Chappaqua, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Let the conversation begin!
2. Blawgers are Dirty Swingers [QuizLaw]
Dustin wasn’t even at the conference, but he used Walter Olson’s post as the jumping-off point for this entertaining write-up. Even Ann Althouse was amused — despite being the subject of the line, “One night with Ann Althouse is all I ask, man. It’s all I ask.
(Back off, Dustin — she’s with us.)
3. At the “Writing About the Law” conference [Althouse]
Speaking of Professor Althouse, here’s her account of the proceedings. It’s a multimedia extravaganza. In addition to several photos, it includes an amusingly awkward video. Technology is swell!
4. “Writing About the Law: From Bluebook to Blogs and Beyond” at NYLS, Part I
“Writing About the Law: From Bluebook to Blogs and Beyond” at NYLS, Part II
“Writing About the Law: From Bluebook to Blogs and Beyond” at NYLS, Part III
A trio of substantive write-ups of various panels, from Lawrence Solum of Legal Theory Blog.
Despite his brilliance, the lanky Professor Solum shares our tendency towards typos. Is referring to the Duke lacrosse team rape case as “the Dukie case” a Freudian slip?
5. Ripped From The Headlines [Soloway]
Photographs from the conference (including a profile shot of us typing away on our laptop).
6. Live-Blogging the NYLS Symposium on Writing About the Law [TaxProf Blog]
A linkwrap by Professor Paul Caron (who has duly noted our comments on his shirt selection).
7. Is John McCain’s website suggestive of NAZI iconography? [Volokh Conspiracy]
Professors Jim Lindgren and Randy Barnett of the Volokh Conspiracy both spoke at the conference, but haven’t really blogged about it. This VC post, from Professor Lindgren, includes a brief shout-out to Professor Althouse: “It was a pleasure to see Ann Althouse at the New York Law School conference yesterday.”
Here’s a picture we took of these two professors, mugging for the camera:
NYLS 1 James Lindgren Jim Lindgren Ann Althouse.jpg

BLT bacon lettuce tomato Legal Times law blog Above the Law.jpgWe must confess: we’ve never been huge fans of the bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich. And we don’t like dogs. In America, these are felonies.
But we’ve finally found a BLT we can enjoy. Say hello to The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times!
From Jim Oliphant’s inaugural post:

Hey look, it’s a blog.

Not exactly revolutionary at this point is it? So why would Legal Times do it, other than, of course, to slavishly follow journalistic convention.

That’s the cynical reason. The real reason is the opportunity this medium affords us, one that despite the wretched excess of blogs polluting the net remains very real, particularly in the areas this publication watches.

Check out that droll opening line, sans exclamation point. Admire the meta-ness of it all: blogging about their decision to start a blog.
The Legal Timesfolk are off to an excellent start as bloggers. Check out these two juicy posts (picked up by How Appealing):

1. Seller is Relocating, about how Justice Alito has put his New Jersey home up for sale (we’ll probably do a Lawyerly Lairs post on it); and

2. The Chief and Microsoft, about the rare oral argument “oopsie” from Ted Olson.

Delicious. We’ve added BLT to the ATL blogroll, and we expect to visit early and often.
The BLT is Served [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]

Writing About the Law New York Law School NYLS Above the Law.jpgOops, we forgot to post our write-up of the final panel of Friday’s conference at New York Law School.
Afternoon Panel (2:15-3:30): Beyond the Bluebook: The Future of Writing About the Law
“In a world increasingly dominated by blogs and online publications, does traditional legal scholarship have a future? Will legal scholars abandon the traditional law review to write for a popular audience, and if so, why? What will this brave new world look like?”
Panelists and Moderator:
* Bernard Hibbitts, Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Editor in Chief of Jurist.
* Rosa Brooks, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center and op-ed columnist, Los Angeles Times.
* Jack Balkin, Professor, Yale Law School and Founder and Director of the Information Society Project.
* Lawrence B. Solum, Professor, University of Illinois College of Law and author of Legal Theory Blog.
* Rodger Citron (Moderator), Assistant Professor of Law, Touro Law Center.
For those of you who are interested — which, we realize, is probably a small, wonky group — a brief discussion appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beyond the Bluebook: The Future of Writing About the Law”

We’re up in New York right now for a symposium on legal writing at New York Law School. Topics to be covered include both legal academic writing, for student-run law reviews, as well as writing about legal affairs for a lay audience (e.g., through legal journalism and blogging).
The comfortable, well-lit classroom that we’re in right now has excellent wireless internet access. So we will be blogging, both about the conference and non-conference subjects, throughout the day.
P.S. We think this conference will be very worthwhile. We’re only applying the “Dubious Conferences” tag because we’re quite proud of it, and don’t get to use it enough.
Writing About the Law: From Bluebook to Blogs and Beyond [New York Law School]

Aaron Charney 2 headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett CharneyWe just woke up from a nice little nap, to see that we’ve been given a delightful gift from the WSJ Law Blog: a copy of Sullivan & Cromwell’s motion to dismiss. To access it, click here (PDF).
Please post your thoughts on it in this open thread. We haven’t had a chance to read it yet. But one of you advises us by email:

Dude! You’re “one commentator”! (page 7 of complaint). But they wouldn’t give you the satisfaction of citing the name of the web site!!!

No name-check. Oh well. Are the Paul Hastings and S&C lawyers too embarrassed to admit that they read this fine website?
(But hey, we’re just lowly bloggers — we’ll take what we can get.)
P.S. Here’s the language in question:

Charney’s propensity toward wholesale disclosure was succinctly summarized by one commentator, who on February 2, 2007 stated as follows “Plaintiff Aaron Charney…. is usually an INSTANT emailer…. In the past he has been very cordial and chatty with us.”

S&C Files Motion to Dismiss Charney’s Lawsuit

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGMore ATL coverage of yesterday’s proceedings in Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney will be appearing shortly. Be patient.
Normally we’d apologize for the delay and beg your kind indulgence. But we have taken the advice of this commenter to heart. Having discovered our inner diva, we now say to you: You’ll get it when you’ll get it.
Our new high-handed attitude also means that we’ll be posting less frequently in the comments, to hold ourselves above the fray. But we will continue to discuss comments that catch our eye on the main page.
While waiting for more coverage from us, here are some Charney-licious links that you should check out (in addition to the ones we collected yesterday):
1. Destroyed Hard Drive Becomes Focus of Hearing in Sullivan & Cromwell Suit [New York Law Journal]
Very good piece by Anthony Lin, whom we had the pleasure of meeting after yesterday’s hearing. Money quote, on the issue of Aaron Charney’s hard drive (which we explained yesterday):

[Justice Bernard] Fried originally ordered Charney to produce an affidavit explaining the hard drive’s destruction by the end of Thursday, but he later extended that time until Feb. 14 in order to give Charney time to consult with another member of his legal team, noted criminal defense lawyer Michael Kennedy, on possible Fifth Amendment issues…

Kennedy has also represented a number of high-profile clients, including Robert Durst, the real estate heir convicted of murder in Texas.

So the speculation of some of you, concerning possible criminal exposure for Charney in this case that might warrant careful consideration of Fifth Amendment issues, was not entirely off-base.
2. Charney/S&C Takes New Twists and Turns [Leonard Link]
What substantive law will apply to Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell [Leonard Link]
A pair of excellent, substantive posts by Professor Arthur Leonard of New York Law School. Professor Leonard is both a legal academic and a journalist.
Recently he wrote us about a prior item of ours:

I was just scrolling back through your coverage and noted your speculation about my article concerning the Charney case in Gay City News.

I wrote my article based entirely on reading the complaint, which was given to me by a colleague on the day it was circulating on-line. My article was not based on other media coverage, which hadn’t occurred yet when I wrote it. Gay City News is a print weekly, and so articles may be written days before they appear….

Your speculation about who at NYLS gave me the complaint is totally incorrect. There are half a dozen gay faculty members here, and [William] LaPiana had nothing to do with cluing me into the story.

New York Law School: It’s just like S&C. It’s way the heck downtown, and it has oodles of gay people.
(But hopefully gays at NYLS are treated better than Aaron Charney was allegedly treated at S&C.)
3. Controversy Continues: LeGal, Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell [Soloway]
Lavi (pronounced LAY-vee) Soloway has been doing a great job covering L’Affaire Charney — despite having a demanding day job, as a practicing immigration lawyer.
We saw him in the courtroom at yesterday’s hearing. He’s quite cute, very young-looking for 40, and he dresses very well.
And he takes good photographs , too. Be sure to click on the thumbnails to see the true quality of each image.
4. Daily Intelligencer [New York Magazine]
Contains a shout-out to an earlier post of ours, which it describes as containing “[a]nonymous trash-talking” and “tawdry mixed metaphors.”
Why thank you, NYM! We do try around here.
5. Desperate Attorneys [Law Firm Diversity]
A brief item about the case, from a legal blog that appears to be on its last legs (per the author, Mr. Thorne, who claims to have lost business due to his blogging).
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Aaron Charney and S&C (scroll down)

gossip legal gossip whisper whispering Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.jpgWe’re a little late in commenting on this; we’ve been overwhelmed by a tremendous amount of news and gossip, on multiple fronts. But if you have an interest in blogging, or blogging about blogging, you should definitely check out this most interesting PrawfsBlawg post (if you haven’t done so already):
An Online Experiment: Take the Legal World, Add Gossip, Shake
Professor Matt Bodie offers some thoughtful (and thought-provoking) reflections upon Above the Law, as well as gossip blogging more generally. Money quote:

[L]aw professor blogs have pretty much shied completely away from law professor gossip. There are a lot of really good reasons for this. Liability concerns may be a factor, but I think they’re a small part. No law prof yet has been willing to go on record as the mouthpiece for gossip.

And why should they? Being a gossip conduit is costly to one’s reputation. It’s trivial. It’s non-scholarly. It’s hurtful to others. And besides — if you already know the gossip, what good does it do you to bring others in on the secret?

We don’t have time to respond in much detail. We have some VERY juicy Aaron Charney dish that we need to write up.
But for those of you who are curious, our thoughts on Bodie’s post appear after the jump.
Update: HA. We seem to misapprehended the point of Professor Bodie’s post. Please see his explanatory comment, available here.
(The irony, of course, is that we misinterpreted his post due to being defensive and oversensitive — even as we take the position that people in general need to be less sensitive when criticized or gossiped about.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Wherein We Suffer From an Existential Crisis as Gossip Bloggers. Or Not.”

* Blogs: Changing life as we know it — or just giving law students a respite from those pesky casebooks. [Balkinization]
* Guess this is more than playful alteration by a bored junior associate, like dropping the “l” from “public offering,” or the “cl” from “Class A common stock” in a prospectus. [National Review via Instapundit]
* Expect some “National Pork Board”/ “Chauvinist Pig” wordplay on a t-shirt soon. [Feminist Law Professors]
* We repeat: Blogging does not pay the bills. And Salon is not exactly old-establishment, so relax already — and edit your bookmarks, because Glenn Greenwald is moving February 8. [Unclaimed Territory]
* Young NYC graffiti artists, or just anyone ages 18-21 with a need for spray paint and broad-tipped markers, are free at last. [AM New York]

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgShanetta Y. Cutlar, a high-ranking official of the U.S. Department of Justice, oversees the Special Litigation Section (SPL) of the Civil Rights Division. As chief of the SPL, Cutlar is a steward(ess) of our nation’s civil rights laws.
And, of course, Cutlar is a great diva — which is why we adore her so much.*
Those who get to see a great diva up close, or to work with one, are truly blessed. So what if divas are difficult? That’s why we call them divas.
It should come as no surprise, then, that working for Shanetta Cutlar comes with a few occupational hazards. From a former employee at SPL:

I loved my position, duties and responsibilities. Unfortunately, in time I become a victim of Shanetta’s vicious, often brutal attacks, of constant, uncontrolled rage.

I tried to tolerate and persevere. But eventually the stress began to take a physical toll on me. Down to my last few months or so with the Department, I suffered a bout of diarrhea, each and every morning, before going to work.

My nerves were wrecked. I soon realized I had to seek employment elsewhere outside of the Department.

So I left DOJ and Shanetta. Life is good again.

Color us incredulous. You sacrificed the opportunity to work under an amazing lawyer and leader because, well, you had a touch of the runs?
You need to toughen up. Your “problem” wasn’t anything that couldn’t have been solved with a family-sized bottle of Kaopectate. And a lifetime supply of Depends.
* Sorry, Shalini. We will not apologize for having a weakness for divas. We have loved divas for our entire life, ever since we popped out of one’s womb.
For those of you who care (all six of you), we defend our fixation on divas after the jump.

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