Free Speech

You stole my building.

* Lawyers who re-argue 2,400 year old cases are lawyers with too much time on their hands, even if they’re doing it for charity. [ABA Journal]

* What do you know, free speech is allowed to exist on the internet. [Public Citizen Press Room]

* I shaved my balls for this fiscal cliff deal? [Huffington Post]

* Some law professors still don’t understand what the law school “disaster” is all about. [Associate's Mind]

* How much can you really charge for contract attorney work? [Point of Law]

* The best criminal law blog post in 2012 was… [Simple Justice]

* It never occurred to me that a building could be pirated, but here you go. [De Zeen Magazine]

* Seven out of nine sitting Supreme Court justices were silent when it came to the passing of Robert Bork. Justice Antonin Scalia, of course, issued a public statement, as did liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (surprise!). [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* No one ever really doubted that it would take an army of Biglaw lawyers from the likes of Sullivan & Cromwell, Shearman & Sterling, and Wachtel Lipton to handle a monumental deal like the proposed $8.2 billion NYSE/ICE merger. [Am Law Daily]

* Can you coach with Nick Saban and be a Miller Canfield partner at the same time? No. But you can sue (and win!) when the firm allegedly forces you out due to its “culture of fear and intimidation.” [Detroit Free Press]

* Justice Rolando Acosta, who wrote the opinion upholding the dismissal of the class action case against NYLS, rates well among his peers as a nominee for the New York Court of Appeals. [New York Law Journal]

* Peter Madoff was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but the judge will probably let him go to his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah before shipping him to the pokey. [Bloomberg]

* Merry Christmas, now go f**k yourself. A federal judge has given a woman in Louisiana free rein to display holiday lights on her roof in the form of an extended middle finger. God bless America. [CBS 3 Springfield]

* “Did the imperative use of the F-bomb … threaten judicial authority?” Wow, seriously? This is perhaps the most entertaining question presented for review in a Supreme Court certiorari petition in the history of man. [National Law Journal]

* Boy, Dewey have some expensive paintings for you to buy! This failed firm’s art collection will be hitting the auction block in February, and the entire LeBoeuf lot is supposedly worth $2.3M, but most pieces are pretty damn ugly. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* When anonymous commenting goes wronger-er: Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has resigned amid the scandal caused by his underlings’ obnoxious comments. [Times-Picayune]

* Your employers really don’t want pictures of your office holiday party antics going viral online (but we do). Here are some of the many ways they’ll try to keep you from becoming internet famous. [Corporate Counsel]

* George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin, is suing NBCUniversal, alleging that the network and Today show reporters committed serious “journalistic crimes.” [Media Decoder / New York Times]

Feline Riot

Seven members of Pussy Riot.

This website has been sadly bereft of Pussy Riot coverage. Sadly, because typing the words “Pussy Riot” is fun. Pussy Riot. Pussy Riot. If you don’t know of what I speak, here’s a quick crash course on all things Pussy and Riot. They’re a female punk band in Russia and, this August, three of their members were convicted of something called hooliganism because of a performance that took place in an Orthodox Christian cathedral, where the band shouted anti-Putin slogans and railed against the Orthodox Church’s support of the Russian president. Comprende?

Well, like that Che Guevara shirt you thought was so transgressive at the time and now looks like nothing more than the celebration of conformity and a youthful attempt to graft meaning onto an otherwise whitebread, boring upbringing, the Pussy Riot gals have transcended politics to become something even greater. Namely, fashion. The lasses of Pussy Riot have inspired lame middle class American kids to start wearing balaclavas.

If you don’t know what a balaclava is, don’t despair. I had to look it up too. It’s just a ski mask.

But contra Freud, the state of New York believes that sometimes a ski mask is not just a ski mask. Sometimes, it’s a criminal act…

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FIRST! Assistant United States Attorney.

First amongst weird creation myths is that of the Mbombo god, who is said to have vomited up pretty much all of our world. Similarly, the story of how this website has been… thrown up is worthy of retelling. At its essence, it goes like this: A boy blogs about very sober legal issues in an incredibly earnest way and then the governor of New Jersey tells him to start Above the Law, The End. I may have missed some crucial details and got others flat-out wrong, but I think the kernel of truth is still in there somewhere.

At any rate, that boy was working for the United States Attorney’s office in Newark at the time. Doing anything on the internet, even if it was super-serious and incredibly sincere, could be considered controversial because of the position. The lawyers tasked with working in such a high-profile prosecutorial role must be seen as impartial, lest the cases they take on get tainted by their online presence.

Which is what makes it all the more surprising that history is repeating itself down in New Orleans, where two assistant United States attorneys have become embroiled in scandal after being caught commenting on not just the law in general (like our own dear leader), but the specific cases that came through their office.

It’s almost as if the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office is trying to outdo David Lat in some way. Which, I mean, trick please…

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Say goodbye to your security deposit…

* If Twitter reset your password yesterday, don’t worry. Looks like someone at the company just had an itchy trigger-slash-reply-all finger. [Consumerist]

* A disbarred Dallas attorney ended up in jail for allegedly trashing his office and drawing penises all over the walls when he got evicted last month. Apparently he’s also been watching too much Workaholics recently. [Dallas News]

* The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of registered sex offenders, hoping to block a new California law that allegedly curtails their internet rights. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. [Wired / Threat Level]

* Social networks: the newest part of George Zimmerman’s defense team? [New York Times]

* A useful new tool to help law firms in recruiting and placing laterals. [Attorney Search Group]

* Jared Loughner, who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last year, was sentenced to life in prison without parole today. Here’s what Rep. Giffords and her husband had to say to him. [Althouse]

Last month, we discussed an interesting case that was pending before the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. The question presented: whether an adult entertainment club is entitled to a sales tax exemption for admission and lap dance fees under the theory that these dances qualify as “dramatic or musical arts performances.”

Flying with the speed of boobie tassels attached to a stripper gyrating furiously around a pole, the court handed down its ruling just a few short weeks after oral argument. Here’s what the court held….

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Twitter for us is like a parliament, but not the kind of parliament that exists in this region. It’s a true parliament, where people from all political sides meet and speak freely.

– Faisal Abdullah, a Saudi Arabian lawyer, explaining to the New York Times how Twitter has created a revolution of sorts in his country.

Let’s talk about two of our favorite topics: money and politics. And the combination of the two, which creates both problems and opportunities for our democracy.

On Saturday I attended an excellent New Yorker Festival panel about politics and money, featuring some impressive speakers:

What did these distinguished and high-powered panelists have to say about the influence of money on our political system?

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We’ve mentioned the proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule before, which are currently under consideration by the FTC. The changes to COPPA, as it’s known for short, would require sites that collect personal information from children to secure written parental consent first. On first glance, it seems like a slam dunk: why wouldn’t we want to protect children’s privacy, and maybe put a dent in the absurd amount of tracking that constantly happens whenever anyone goes online?

Oh right, I forgot one little detail: free speech!

Facebook is protesting parts of the rule, because the company says it would restrict the free speech of pre-teens who want to “like” articles online. Because heaven forbid children who technically aren’t even supposed to use Facebook have to voice approval in a manner that doesn’t involve clicking a little blue thumbs-up button….

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