Ed. note: We apologize for getting such a late start today, but we were experiencing some technical difficulties. Thanks for being patient with us.
* Barack Obama made some bold statements about marriage equality in his inaugural address, but the jury is still out — literally — on whether he thinks laws banning same-sex couples from marrying are constitutional. [BuzzFeed]
* You can smoke pot for sh*ts and giggles in several states, but the D.C. Circuit is siding with the DEA on this one. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the (federal) law. [National Law Journal]
* With claims of prejudicial evidence, Rajat Gupta is trying to get his insider trading conviction overturned. We’ll wait for more on this story from note passer field correspondent, Benula Bensam. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* “Why are all high school teachers freaks in the sacks?” Sarah Jones, the cheerleader-cum-sexy teacher, cried over phrases like that yesterday during testimony in her defamation case against The Dirty. [ESPN]
* George W. Huguely V, the UVA lacrosse bro who was convicted of killing his sometimes girlfriend, has got one hell of an appellate lawyer. Perhaps famous litigator Paul Clement is a friend of the family. [Bloomberg]
* When it comes to medical marijuana prosecutions, the government is supposed to have “bigger fish to fry,” but it looks like even the Department of Justice couldn’t resist reeling in one last big catch. [New York Times]
* According to the results of this study, if you want to do well in law school, you should probably stop being so damn awkward, scale back your antisocial habits, and consider joining a study group. [National Law Journal]
* “[U]nder American law, anyone interesting is a felon.” This Columbia Law professor argues that the legal system failed Aaron Swartz because he was treated like a criminal instead of a deviant genius. [New Yorker]
* Porn stars in Los Angeles are challenging the constitutionality of being forced to wear condoms during filming — because the transfer of STDs is “constitutionally protected expression.” [Courthouse News Service]
* So, it looks like Lindsay Lohan fired her best gal pal in the world: her lawyer. But sometimes you have to fire people when you allegedly owe them oodles of money to the tune of $300K and you don’t have any. [Daily Mail]
* What Dewey know about this failed firm’s bankruptcy case? According to Judge Glenn’s latest order, it seems like D&L’s Chapter 11 plan is on track for confirmation in late February, unless there are objections, of course. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* The Law School Admission Council is suing California because the state’s legislature banned the practice of alerting schools when applicants had extra time to complete the LSAT. How lovely that LSAC values the ability to discriminate. [National Law Journal]
* “It’s not like we let anybody in the door. We don’t.” Apparently Cooley Law’s new Florida campus has very stringent admissions standards. Oh really? What else is required, aside from a pulse? [Tampa Tribune]
* It’s now too constitutionally risky for cops to get all frisky: a federal judge ordered that the NYPD cease its stock-and-frisk trespass stops without reasonable suspicion of actual trespass. [New York Law Journal]
* Tamara Brady, the lawyer for the accused shooter in the Aurora movie theater massacre, is setting the stage for her client’s diminished capacity defense — because even the mentally ill can buy guns. [Bloomberg]
* Pfc. Bradley Manning of WikiLeaks infamy will receive a reduced sentence if he’s convicted due to his illegal pretrial punishment, like being forced to sleep in the nude. A true hero! [Nation Now / Los Angeles Times]
There’s no love lost between cops and guys in wheelchairs.
You know things are not going well for the police when a judge uses the citation “U.S. Const. amend. IV.” Not a case interpreting the Fourth Amendment, not a scholarly analysis of search and seizure law, just a straight-up shout-out to the plain text of the constitutional prohibition. It kind of tells you where the judge is going.
Today’s installment of “Why Can’t You Just Get A Warrant” comes out of the Montgomery County courthouse near Dayton, Ohio. According to the judge’s order granting a suppression motion, the police subdued a wheelchair-bound paraplegic and searched his home. And by “subdued,” I of course mean: tackled a man in a wheelchair, handcuffed him, then pretended to be worried about the man’s grabbable area.
* According to the Second Circuit, the long arm of the law doesn’t extend to the middle finger. You can’t just go around arresting dudes for flipping you the bird. [U.S. Second Circuit / FindLaw]
* President Obama jetted off to Hawaii before he could sign the fiscal cliff bill, so he ordered it be signed by autopen. Of course, people are losing their minds over it. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Should we scrap the Constitution? Georgetown Law professor Louis Seidman continues to advocate for constitutional disobedience in this epic ConLaw throwdown. [HuffPost Live]
* Don’t celebrate your increase in California bar passage points yet. The state bar changed its tune, and a 40% pass rate is the new standard. That shouldn’t be hard, eh TJSL? [California Bar Journal]
* One of our former columnists, Jay Shepherd, has a great way to calculate what your actual hourly rate should be, if you don’t mind working for just pennies a day. Most lawyers would mind. [jayshep]
* For the love of God, even Gawker knows that going to law school these days is a fool’s errand, or in their own words: “IT’S A SUCKER’S BET. A CLEAR SUCKER’S BET.” Come on, stop being suckers. [Gawker]
* If you’d like to hear Dean Lawrence Mitchell of NYT op-ed fame sound off on why there isn’t a lawyer oversupply problem, and why it isn’t his job to get law students jobs, we’ve got a video for you to watch….
* I don’t fully understand this story, but it involves the beautiful and deadly Zhang Ziyi and a SLAPP suit. [Techdirt]
* I’m interested in who Andrew Cuomo appoints to the New York Court of Appeals, just because I’m interested in how Cuomo picks judges. You know, just because 2016-2020 could be an interesting time when it comes to shifting the balance of power on the Supreme Court. [WiseLaw NY]
* A Holland & Knight partner is leaving to start teaching an “Indigent Defense” class at Georgetown. I’m not sure who is teaching the companion class: “Blood From A Rock: How To Get Fees Out Of Indigent Clients.” [Legal Blog Watch]
* I swear I was absent the day they explained that the NRA is the fifth branch of government in civics class. [PrawfsBlawg]
* This seems like a good time to say that I watch This Week with George Stephanopoulos instead of Meet the Press. But I really think that DCPD has better things to do than investigate David Gregory’s ammo clip prop. [Slate]
* Oh mon dieu! Cela ne semble pas bon! As confirmed by The Lawyer, Nixon Peabody will definitely be closing its four-year-old international outpost in Paris, France, leaving the firm with only two offices outside of the United States. Triste. [Am Law Daily]
* “I just wanted somebody to pat me on the head.” Aww, all this former Winston & Strawn partner wanted was for someone to tell him he was a good boy, so he helped Kenneth Starr launder money. At least he didn’t get jail time. [New York Law Journal]
* Sorry, lady, but when you work in an HR capacity and you publish tripe about gays not being civil rights victims because they “choose” their lifestyle, the Sixth Circuit will just laugh at your appeal. [National Law Journal]
* At least one law school has gotten the point that tuition is too damn high. Starting next year, Seton Hall Law will allow qualifying first-year students to save about 50 percent on the cost of attendance. [Associated Press]
* What are some benefits of taking a gap year between the completion of your undergraduate degree and law school? Well, for one, you might reconsider your decision to enroll. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* “Why drag us into it?” Constitutional or not, it seems that not even the D.C. Circuit wants to deal with the political hot mess that’s been caused by President Barack Obama’s recess appointments. [National Law Journal]
* There’s something (allegedly) rotten in the state of Texas: Bickel & Brewer was booted from a multi-million dollar lawsuit due to accusations that the firm paid top dollar for insider information. [Dallas Morning News (sub. req.)]
* There are many more women in the legal profession these days than there were 40 years ago, but — surprise, surprise, here’s a shocker — they’re still getting paid less than their male counterparts. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* And here’s today’s opportunity to beat the horse that just won’t die. This law professor says he pities those who buy into the media’s law school scam narrative, while in reality, most would pity the many unemployed graduates of his law school. [Huffington Post]
* Here’s a protip for the February bar: don’t fake a disability to get extra time. Even if you end up passing, the bar examiners will find out and pretty much ruin your life. Just ask this UC Hastings Law grad. [Am Law Daily]
* “Also, you probably shouldn’t bring pot with you to the federal courthouse (or any other federal property).” Umm, come on, were the Washington police officers who created this marijuana guidebook high? [CNN]
Thanks to spyware, an FBI dad got a gift-wrapped child porn case.
Like any dad, Joseph Auther was worried about what his son might get up to while exploring the wilds of the World Wide Web. So when his 7th grade son got a school-provided laptop from Whispering Palms School in Saipan in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, Auther decided to install a monitoring program on it. He went with a spyware program called eBlaster from SpectorSoft, a company based in Vero Beach, Florida. Unbeknownst to his son, the program captured his website visits, his keystrokes, and every email, chat, and instant message he sent and received. This was all delivered up to his dad in emails, while giving the monitored person no hint that it was doing so.
Auther has a special appreciation for the benefits of surveillance. He’s an FBI special agent. In April, he discovered he was being transferred to the FBI office in Denver. At the end of the school year, Auther let Whispering Palms principal Thomas Weindl know that his family was moving and that they would be returning the school’s laptop. Weindl, 67, was actually a friend of the Auther family; when he got married earlier that year, Auther’s wife gave a reading at the ceremony. Auther told Weindl that he would return the laptop after he removed all of his son’s files, programs, and games.
Auther first took the laptop to his FBI office and asked his colleagues how to wipe it clean. Apparently they don’t have many cyber experts in the Mariana Islands, because they were unsuccessful. So Auther had to instead take it to a computer repair shop, which cleaned out the old files and allegedly re-imaged the hard drive to return it to its original settings. Auther didn’t tell the shop about eBlaster being on the computer — perhaps feeling a little Big Parent shame — but assumed that it would be wiped along with everything else. He then returned the computer to Weindl….
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