[T]he dislike [for legal academics] is a result of law professors being too much in the world. You see, law professors — and I should disclose here that I am one — very nearly run the world, or at least certain parts of the U.S. government. When you include Justice Anthony Kennedy, who taught nights, they make up the majority of the Supreme Court.
Court clerks in Virginia may be shaking their fists at the Fourth Circuit today. In an interesting ruling on free speech, privacy, and public records, the court ruled that an angry blogger has the right to publish public officials’ and court clerks’ Social Security numbers in order to protest the fact that Virginia puts records online that publish citizens’ social security numbers. We skimmed the opinion, but didn’t see a citation to Hammurabi.
B.J. Ostergren has been writing TheVirginiaWatchdog.com since 2003 to bring attention to the fact that state governments play fast and loose with people’s Social Security numbers when putting land records online. Her advocacy got many of them to actually start attempting to redact SSNs from the documents before putting them online, but the system was still imperfect.
She started posting land records containing unredacted SSNs, which led the state to pass a law in 2008 to make what she was doing illegal. She sued and the courts supports her, though the Fourth Circuit eliminated some conditions imposed by the district court…
We mentioned the ‘Skanks in NYC’ case in yesterday’s Morning Docket, and I’ve written about it extensively over at True/Slant.
To summarize: a blogger started a website called ‘Skanks in NYC’ in order to say nasty things about model Liskula Cohen. Cohen discovered the site containing just five posts, in which the blogger called Cohen a skank, a ho, and an old hag, among other nasty things, and posted photos of her.
Cohen decided she wanted to file a defamation suit against the anonymous blogger, so her lawyer subpoenaed Google — which hosted ‘Skanks in NYC’ at Blogger — to obtain the writer’s e-mail and IP address. The blogger’s lawyer fought the subpoena but lost. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden ordered Google to turn over the information. Google sent it along. Cohen filed her defamation suit outing her alleged defamer: Rosemary Port, a 29-year-old Fashion Institute of Technology student who was mad at Cohen for saying nasty things about her to Port’s boyfriend.
The press wrote lots of stories about the case and about Port, whose name the media obtained from court papers. Cohen then dropped her $3 million defamation suit, making it appear that this may have been a Cyberslapp: “a new form of lawsuit… threatening to overturn the promise of anonymous online speech and chill the freedom of expression that is central to the online world.”
Now Port wants to slap Google with a $15 million lawsuit, saying Google violated her First Amendment rights by complying with the court order. Her lawyer went so far as to compare ‘Skanks in NYC’ with the Federalist Papers. From the New York Daily News:
“I’m ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court,” [Port's lawyer, Salvatore] Strazzullo said. “Our Founding Fathers wrote ‘The Federalist Papers’ under pseudonyms. Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously. Shouldn’t that right extend to the new public square of the Internet?”
It’s been widely reported, but what are the actual merits of the suit against Google? We spoke with renowned privacy expert and George Washington Law professor Daniel Solove about the case and have an answer for you after the jump. While we had him on the phone, we also discussed how one becomes the foremost U.S. expert on privacy by age 37.
Relax, folks. We are aware that the 2009 law school rankings of U.S. News & World Report have leaked, in advance of their official Friday publication date. They’re all over the blogosphere and the message boards (links collected below).
We’ve been sitting on this item for a little while — coordinating with our other posts this morning, taking into account our traffic patterns, etc. There is a method to our madness.
Ideally we’d hold this item even longer (which would allow us to do a more detailed write-up). But it’s clear that you’re all dying to talk about the rankings RIGHT NOW. And we don’t want to get any more emails and comments of the “why aren’t you writing about U.S. News” variety.
So here you go. Rankings and discussion, after the jump (i.e., click on the “Continue reading” link below).
As we mentioned in passing on Friday, we’ve been mysteriously banned from Facebook, the popular social networking website. Our account was disabled without notice or explanation. We have not been informed of the allegations against us that led to the suspension of our account, nor have we been given the opportunity to confront our accusers.
To be sure, the Bill of Rights does not apply to Facebook. But being kicked off the FB still makes us sad. We’re going through their appellate process now, but they’re taking their sweet time in disposing of our appeal.
Professor Dan Solove has some interesting thoughts on Facebook and due process over here. Also, if you use Facebook, you might want to check out this interesting post, which lists some reasons people get banished from Facebook. Some of the rules are so vague that you could end up violating them without even knowing it. Update (1:25 PM): Yay!!! We’ve been reinstated. More details, after the jump. Further Update (3/5/08): We wrote more about our Facebook expulsion for the New York Observer.
* Are you in DC and looking for something cool to do later tonight? Attend the talk and book signing for Professor Daniel Solove’s latest work, The Future of Reputation (previously discussed here). [Concurring Opinions]
* Are lawyers really a**holes? Or are they just doing their jobs? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Some thoughts on possibly increased bank regulation, from our colleague, John Carney: “Resistance to a new wave of banking regulation requiring bank breakups and dividing Wall Street according to regulatory fiats rather than market demand is likely to be weak in an era when many think the financial supermarket model has failed…. No one expends much time, money or energy defending a right to do something they don’t want to do anyway.” [DealBreaker]
* Don’t forget to vote for ATL! Even if you did so before, you can do so again — once every 24 hours, ending November 8th. [2007 Weblog Awards]
Shame and gossip and questions of personal reputation have been with us for millennia. In our time, however, they’ve gone electronic. The resulting change in the way the world communicates with itself is as significant to speech as anything since the invention of moveable type.
David probably noticed that Frank Pasquale posted a mini-review of the book he calls “a fun read that also manages to be a scholarly work on cyberlaw.”
Solove draws us in with the old classics of humiliation–South Korea’s infamous “dog poop girl,” Jessica Cutler’s embarrassed paramour, and the Star Wars kid. Each sparked an avalanche of comedy, critical comment, spoofs. . . . and, like hope at the bottom of Pandora’s box, a tiny bit of sympathy as we wonder: will we be next?
Pace Andy Warhol, that’s not likely, but Solove uses the titillating stories to explore a deeper question: do we have any right to control true information about ourselves? Or influence the way we are portrayed? If somebody posts a vicious lie, they can be liable for defamation. But what about disclosure of private facts–should we have any right to stop that?
Okay–titillating stories–we’d buy the book to read more of that, but when do we get to read about David Lat?
“The parts about David have not been excerpted or discussed elsewhere,” teased Solove, in an exclusive interview with Above the Law. “It basically tells his story – then the rest of the chapter launches into a discussion on the good and bad aspects of anonymous blogging! In the same chapter I also discuss the legal protections on anonymity, Wikipedia, the trade-off between anonymity and accountability, how anonymous bloggers can be unmasked if not careful, and the clash between privacy and free speech.”
“If only I could get the poop on David Lat, I’d be able to write a preview for the book,” I cajoled, “It’s a tough audience! Gimme something to placate the fanboys.”
Okay, after the jump…the excerpt about David Lat…
So this is the 21st century? Where courts award punitive damages for offensive words and pictures? Isn’t “the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe” exactly what we always used to say people had to put up with in a free country? Man, that was so 20th century!
3. Suing Autodmit [Instapundit]
Professor Glenn Reynolds — who kindly links to our post, by the way — largely agrees with Professor Althouse. He sarcastically observes: “Stuff that offends dumb hicks in the heartland is constitutionally protected. Stuff that offends Yale Law Students must be stamped out!”
More links, after the jump.
Jiminy jillickers! ATL editors are going all over the place over the next month or so. Or at least all over the Eastern Seaboard. If we aren’t heading to your neck of the woods on these trips, never fear, we may hit you up on the next time around. We’ve already hit up Houston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the past year.
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
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