Facebook

When a tipster sent us an e-mail with the subject, “Court awards $700,000+ in sanctions for destruction of FB page,” I thought it sounded like it might be interesting. Because hey, that’s a lot of money.

I didn’t realize it would also be one of the most depressing legal news stories I’ve read since this tragic murder-suicide.

The three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar sanction award was levied against the widower of a woman killed in a car accident and the widower’s lawyer. The ruling was an abrupt table-turn for Isaiah Lester, who had previously won a $10 million wrongful death suit against the driver whose truck overturned and killed his wife.

Keep reading for the depressing details….

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Like many of my other uber-productive legal brethren, I spend an obscene amount of time on Facebook. In between looking at pictures of friends in slutty Halloween costumes and friend’s babies in slightly less risqué garb, I decided to look for small firms on Facebook. Much to my delight, I found a great Facebook page belonging to the Lee Law Firm. With 5,717 other fans (or are we called something else now on the new Facebook?), I was not the only person to appreciate the firm’s highly effective use of Facebook.

So why do the 5,718 of us dig the Lee Law Firm’s Facebook page? Let me count the ways….

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* Only in Texas can a judge get paid leave after a video of him beating his daughter’s ass goes viral. Makes you wonder about the kind of crazy sh*t you’d need to do to get stuck with unpaid leave. [KRIS TV]

* A federal judge has ordered Paul Ceglia to return from Ireland to produce more of his hidden destroyed missing evidence. Oh, Facebook, always trying to steal his lucky charms. [paidContent]

* Memo to the NBA: you know you’re playing on the wrong court, right? On the bright side, at least we don’t have to worry about this happening with the WNBA. Or anyone caring about it if it did. [Bloomberg]

* Bar passage rates for first-time takers in New York were up by half a percentage point. Biggest contributing factor: I didn’t take the New York exam. Yeah, you’re welcome. [New York Law Journal]

* Joe Francis is suing over a debt dispute and vows to take the it to the Ninth Circuit if he loses. He needs to realize that no one cares about what he does unless it involves boobs. [Washington Post]

* Don’t be fat and then smush a lawyer at Shea Stadium. You’ll break her back, she’ll sue, and you might be known as the guy who got fat people banned from the upper deck. [New York Post]

Remember how everyone used say, “Don’t post anything on Facebook you wouldn’t want your boss to see. But if you do, just make sure you set your privacy settings so that your boss can’t see.”

Well, things have changed. Now, when companies enter workman’s compensation or personal injury litigation, courts will sometimes order discovery on password-protected Facebook information.

On Thursday, a New York appeals court ruled that a company could not see the plaintiff’s protected data, but not simply because it was private. Let’s see what happened…

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Four months ago, you revised your company’s policy on employees’ use of social media. The policy said all the right things: When employees use social media, they should respect the rights of others and treat people with dignity; obey the company’s code of business conduct; maintain corporate confidences; and so on.

Unbelievably, some recent communications from the National Labor Relations Board suggest that each of those provisions (except for the “and so on”) could actually cause your company some labor pains. Why?

Here’s the easy part: The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in “concerted activities” for the employees’ “mutual aid or protection.” Those words apply across the workforce and are not limited to unionized employees. An employee acting solely on his or her own behalf is not engaging in “concerted activities.” On the other hand, consider an individual employee who is working with (or on the authority of) other employees, or is trying to induce a group of employees to act, or is bringing group complaints to the attention of management. The NLRA may protect all of those activities, and an employer may violate the NLRA if it maintains a rule that could reasonably “chill employees in the exercise of their” rights.

What does that mean for the three examples suggested in the opening paragraph of this post?

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Here at Above the Law, it seems like we complain about the American Bar Association on an almost daily basis. But you know what? It’s Friday, so we’re going to cut the ABA some slack.

We’re a little tardy to the party on this one, but today we have some news for law students that could possibly put some money into their pockets, all courtesy of the ABA.

Shocking, right? Law students, you’ll want to take part in this sweepstakes, but act fast, because it all comes to an end on Halloween….

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Rapper or criminal mastermind?

I am constantly amazed at how dimwitted some criminals can be. We have covered them in these pages before, from the guy who left evidence of his violent plans open on his desktop, to the robber who reached out to his victim via Facebook.

On Thursday in Pennsylvania, a federal jury convicted Anthony D. Elonis on four counts of threatening his estranged wife, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Berks County Sheriff’s Department, a kindergarten class, and an FBI agent. The vehicle for his litany of threats was none other than Facebook.

The case goes to show that producers of cool heist movies like Ocean’s 11 or The Italian Job have no idea of the context in which your run-of-the-mill petty criminal exists.

What did Elonis threaten to do? Some pretty bad stuff, actually. Keep reading to see why it is lucky he’s no criminal mastermind….

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Stop sexually harassing me.

* Now trending on the Election 2012 campaign trail for Republicans: attacks on the federal court system. Be prepared for SCOTUS term limits and other ridiculous propositions. [New York Times]

* After some bratty behavior from MGA Entertainment, Orrick was allowed to withdraw as counsel. Maybe they’re using the unpaid $3.85M in legal fees to buy noses for their dolls. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Paul Ceglia’s latest lawyer, Dean Boylan, is used to working with fabricated evidence. He was just ordered to pay $300K in damages for creating some fake kiddie porn. [Bloomberg]

* Cate Edwards got married this weekend. Was daddy sporting another $400 haircut when he walked her down the aisle? [Hollywood Reporter]

* Who wins the prize for being the number one deadbeat taxpayer in New York’s Upper West Side? A lawyer with $1.2M in tax liens, that’s who. [New York Post]

* “It would be better if you didn’t wear any underwear to work.” The trials and tribulations of being a female bartender in Manhattan, now brought to you in lawsuit form. [New York Daily News]

Better as a redhead.

* You know you’re screwed when law school folks are coming after you. A University of Hawaii Law dean has jumped aboard the “sue Facebook for wiretapping” bandwagon. [The Republic]

* Walk like an Egyptian? Emory Law student, Ilan Grapel — who was detained by Egypt on espionage charges — may soon be released in an exchange with Israel. [NBC New York]

* Lindsay Lohan’s probation was revoked, and she’s facing up to a year in jail. Judge Sautner doesn’t like her, so here’s hoping that LiLo’s single and ready to mingle. [New York Daily News]

* Heather Mills is being sued by her hairdresser over $80K in unpaid bills. After getting $50M in her divorce, she can’t cry poverty — she wouldn’t have a leg left to stand on. [Daily Mail]

* Being sexy and using kinky props for a song entitled “S&M” aren’t options anymore, because David LaChapelle has settled his copyright suit against Rihanna. [Rolling Stone]

* Peter Mullen, executive partner during the M&A boom at Skadden Arps, RIP. [New York Times]

'But I'm too pretty to go to jail.'

* The AT&T/T-Mobile antitrust suit is so big that not even Big Government law can handle it. The DOJ is bringing in even bigger guns with a partner from Biglaw firm Munger Tolles. [Bloomberg]

* Obama has nominated former Kozinski clerk, Paul Watford, to the Ninth Circuit. Way to go, because he’s kind of cute. Isn’t that what everyone looks for in a federal judge? [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Is Paul Ceglia’s Facebook lawsuit completely doomed? His own lawyer, Jeffrey Lake, wants to defriend him. This will be the fourth firm to dump Ceglia as a client. [Wall Street Journal]

* Blind item: which Hollywood actress is suing IMDb for $1M for revealing her true age? And we say “true age” because everyone knows that Botox knocks a few years off your face. [Reuters]

* Lindsay Lohan is due in court today for a progress report hearing, and prosecutors want to throw her in jail. Hope she’s been brushing up on her acting skills. [New York Daily News]

* Cry me a river? A Florida lawyer will be arguing before the state Supreme Court this winter over his First Amendment right to blast Justin Timberlake from his car stereo. [NBC Miami]

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