Richard Posner

Posner.jpg* New Jersey Internet radio talk show host arrested for blogging that federal judges Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner, and William Bauer “deserved to be killed” after a recent decision on Chicago handgun ban case. [CNN]
* More Morgan Lewis Musical Chairs: Yesterday, the firm announced that it had tapped gas from Baker Botts. Good thing, because Morgan Lewis lost some energy to Pillsbury this week. [National Law Journal]
* We don’t know how Aaronson, Rappaport, Feinstein and Deutsch does in the courtroom, but it’s a big winner in the New York real estate market. [Observer]
* Nationwide (Law School) Layoff Watch: As predicted in May, layoffs have started at Harvard, despite HLS grads’ protest. [Boston Globe]
* The Fourth Circuit supports the ban on ‘partial birth’ abortions in Virginia. [Washington Post]

dahn yoga.jpg* California lawyer Ryan Kent has accused Dahn Yoga of being a cult and filed a class action suit against the Brain Wave Vibrators. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* Ross Mitchell spent just $38,000 on his online law degree and became his own first client. He won his lawsuit to be admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. [Boston Herald]
* Richard Posner is bearish on newspapers and bullish on draconian copyright protection for online news. Permission to link? [The Becker-Posner Blog]
* Is 12 years enough for Bernie? [Am Law Daily]
* Law school is great preparation for doing something other than law. [Legal Intelligencer]
* Musical chairs: Morgan Lewis taps gas from Baker Botts. [Am Law Daily]

Posner.jpgIt’s an exciting day here at ATL when we can find three excuses to cover the salacious beat (see #1 and #2). Judge Richard Posner brings us our third opportunity.

Judge Posner issued a ruling [PDF] Friday in a patent infringement case involving “sex aids” companies. Posner brings his dry humor and excellent wit to the decision, starting off by defining the nature of the business the plaintiff and the defendant are in:

Both firms produce what the parties call “sex aids” but are colloquially referred to as “sex toys.” A more perspicuous term is “sexual devices,” by analogy to “medical devices.” The analogy lies in the fact that, like many medical devices (thermometers for example), what we are calling sexual devices are intended to be inserted into bodily orifices, albeit for a different purpose.

Never before has patent infringement been so sexy… and sex toys so un-sexy:

The devices are generally in the shape of rods of various curvatures and are made out of rubber, plastic, glass, or some combination of these materials. Until the plaintiffs began manufacturing their patented sexual devices, glass sexual devices were made out of soda-lime glass, the most common form of glass.

We are not as well-versed in the nature of sex toys as is Judge Posner. We didn’t realize there were such things as glass dildos — despite the presence of this commenter in our threads — but apparently there are, and they have been around for a long time. The plaintiffs in Ritchie (Know Mind Enterprises/Topco) v. Vast Resources Inc. claimed to innovate the glass dildo design, obtaining a patent for those made with borosilicate glass (the stuff used by Pyrex). Adding silica makes the devices “slippery,” “lubricious,” and “resistant to heat, chemicals, electricity and bacterial absorptions.” While we like chemistry in bed, electricity might be a bit much.

Ritchie sued Vast Resources for violating its patent, and making their own slippery glass rods. The Seventh Circuit, in Judge Posner’s opinion, reversed the lower court’s decision in the plaintiff’s favor, ruling that Pyrexing sex devices is not patentable. It’s an “obvious” invention, an example of “modest, routine, everyday, incremental improvements of an existing product or process that confer commercial value… but do not involve sufficient inventiveness to merit patent protection.”

Posner is a judge on the Seventh Circuit but sat on this Federal Circuit case by designation. Like us, Posner likes writing on salacious topics. After all, having penned the book Sex and Reason in 1992, Posner is a judicial sexpert.

Decision [Federal Circuit]

Slippery Sex Toys Aren’t Inventive, U.S. Court Says [Bloomberg]

Slick Glass Dildos are an “Obvious” Improvement! [The Legal Satyricon]

Judge Posner at the Federal Circuit: Patent on Sex Aid is Obvious [Patent Law Blog]

Mr. Mom washes kids.JPGYou never know where you’ll find sexism in our society and our profession. It knows no party or ideology.

But it has no place in court. In a decision yesterday, 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner took a shot at a plaintiff’s attorney who thought this was still 1950.

The case, Thorogood v. Sears Roebuck, was perfectly set up for a sexist wisecrack by an attorney cheap enough to take it. The case involved stainless steel clothes dryers that nonetheless caused rust stains on some clothing. A massive class action suit was mounted against Sears because “stainless steel” was not used for every part of the appliance.

During oral argument, the plaintiff’s attorney suggested that the all-male bench “ask their wives” about the problems associated with rust stains from dryers.

Posner did not find this funny. Writing for the majority (and holding for Sears) Posner shot back:

At argument the plaintiff’s lawyer, skeptical that men ever operate clothes dryers–oddly, since his client does–asked us to ask our wives whether they are concerned about rust stains in their dryers. None is.

Nice.

Prior ATL articles have shown that some men really expect their wives to do all the laundry, but they are a dying breed (I think). There’s no way that attorney would have joked about women washing clothes if there was a woman on the 7th Circuit panel.

Hopefully, getting smacked around by Posner will teach this attorney that he should not make sexist remarks in open court regardless of the gender diversity on the bench.

Thorogood.SearsRoebuck.Opinion.pdf

Earlier: And No, She Doesn’t Do Windows

Posner.jpgProcrastination is a terrible habit, and the internet is truly the great enabler. How many hours of productivity are lost to YouTube each year?
Judging from Law Firm March Madness traffic, lawyers are definitely among the office workers looking for distraction. Slate has gathered “procrastination rituals” from various professionals. One of the contributors is Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit. His ritual is not to procrastinate:

Procrastination is very unhealthy. It causes problems for the people who are counting on you to complete things in a timely fashion and it makes your own life more difficult…. It helps to be a little compulsive. Then you feel uncomfortable if something is hanging over you — that’s the opposite of procrastination, a compulsion to complete things and get rid of the albatross hanging over you…. I have that compulsion.

And that’s why he’s Richard Posner: circuit judge, law professor, author of almost forty (40) books, prolific blogger, and one of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals. And he even manages to sleep, about six hours a night on average.
“Don’t procrastinate.” Like so much good advice, it’s hard to follow. But we’ll try. Just after we’re done reading this article about a scientific formula for procrastinating, searching the videos that come up on YouTube when you search “procrastinate”, listening to the Posner-Lat podcast, and playing our turn in Scrabulous…
Procrasti-Nation [Slate.com]

Foreign Policy magazine Top 100 public intellectuals.jpgIn the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine, you’ll find their list of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals. The list appears here (and you can vote for your top five). Bios of the honorees — and we must confess, some of these names didn’t ring a bell — appear here.

The public intellectuals explicitly identified on the list as lawyers, judges, or legal scholars are (in alphabetical order):

Aitzaz Ahsan, president of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association, and a leader in the Pakistan People’s Party;

Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel laureate;

– Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig; and

Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, who wrote the book on public intellectuals.

And here are two other honorees with legal links:

– University of Chicago law professor and philosopher Martha Nussbaum; and

– journalist, Harvard Law School graduate, and Kennedy School of Government professor Samantha Power.

Cass Sunstein Martha Nussbaum Samantha Power Above the Law blog.jpgWhat do Professors Nussbaum and Power share in common? Cass Sunstein, as you may recall.

Professor Nussbaum is a former flame of Professor Sunstein, while Professor Power is his current main squeeze. Rumor has it that his move to Harvard Law School from his longtime academic home, the University of Chicago Law School, was prompted by a desire to be closer to the center of power — Samantha Power, that is.

In their paper Six Degrees of Cass Sunstein: Collaboration Networks in Legal Scholarship, Professors Paul Edelman and Tracey George declared Cass Sunstein to be the “Kevin Bacon” of the law. But it looks like his influence extends beyond the narrow world of legal academia, into the World of Ideas, writ large.

In sum, two percent of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals are former or current lovers of Cass Sunstein. This should provide consolation for Cass, who didn’t make the list himself.

Professor Sunstein, you are the man.

The Top 100 Public Intellectuals [Foreign Policy]

The Top 100 Public Intellectuals: Bios [Foreign Policy]

Six Degrees of Cass Sunstein: Collaboration Networks in Legal Scholarship [SSRN / Green Bag]

Earlier: The Real Reason Cass Sunstein’s Going to Harvard? He’s Got the Power

Chicago skyline river Above the Law blog.jpgGreetings from the great — but frigid — city of Chicago. We’re hanging out with friends and doing some sightseeing, but the main reason for our visit is this event, taking place on Thursday (and open to the public):

Judges As Public Figures
Thursday, February 21, 2008, 4:15 PM
University of Chicago Law School, Room II

Judge Richard Posner
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

David Lat
Above the Law
Underneath Their Robes

Professor Lior Strahilevitz
University of Chicago Law School

While in Chi-town, we will also be meeting readers at an ATL “Happy Hour,” similar to the event we held in Miami last year. It will take place on Wednesday, February 20, sometime after work (time and place to be determined).
Update: The Chicago “Happy Hour” will take place on Wednesday, February 20, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Miller’s Pub (134 S. Wabash). Hope to see you there!
Schedule of Events [University of Chicago Law School Federalist Society]

sex toy cornucopia pornucopia Above the Law blog.jpgYou can find the weirdest s**t on Craigslist:

I’m creating a proposal for a downtown performance art show based on US sex laws – the quirkier the better. There are many lists online of these laws, but it’s really hard to find the actual statute or case number. In some cases, they either don’t exist or are changed to sound funny but the actual law is not so strange. Like, if its illegal to bring an animal into a public space, you could say that porcupines are not allowed at the opera but then neither is a dog. So much for your funny porcupine law.

The strength of the show is based on the truth – like the real Texas law where having 7 or more sex toys in your possession is “intent to distribute”. I’m looking to see if some defunct laws ever existed – like the supposed Florida law that banned unmarried women from parachuting on Sundays.

If you even understand what I’m going for and have access to a law library (online or brick&mortar), please contact me.

Cheers,
Gabrielle

Our tipster writes: “I’d take it on myself, but I’m not sure how I’d bill it. I know Loyola 2L is pretty hard up; perhaps he could use the extra bucks. Plus, something tells me Gabrielle’s gotta be hot (Roissy would surely agree).”
Gabrielle: you might want to drop Howard Bashman a line. He is a recognized authority on sex toys (as a legal if not practical matter).
Update: A diligent associate at a bonus-bestowing firm recommends A Guide to America’s Sex Laws, by no less an authority than the eminent Judge Richard Posner.
But this sex law compendium might come with a big red flag over it, in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas. The diligent associate points out: “Note that it’s out of date, coming as it did in the Bowers era.”
RESEARCH – Strange Laws for Performance Piece (Lower East Side) [Craigslist]

Well, not in Illinois. In Cavel International v. Madigan (PDF; via How Appealing), the Seventh Circuit upheld an Illinois law making it unlawful to “slaughter a horse if that person knows or should know that any of the horse meat will be used for human consumption.”
It’s a quirky and interesting case. Howard Bashman provides a concise summary and more discussion over here.
Don’t miss page 11 of Judge Richard Posner’s slip opinion, which features a photograph of a “birthday cake” made of horse meat. YUM!!
horse meat horsemeat Cavel International Lisa Madigan Richard Posner Above the Law blog.jpg
Cavel Int’l v. Madigan (PDF) [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit]
Horse meat was until recently an accepted part of the American diet [How Appealing]

Richard Posner Richard A Posner Above the Law Legal Blog.jpgThe rail-thin Judge Richard Posner (7th Cir.), who favors grapefruit for dessert, has this to say about fat people over at his blog:

It makes sense, as the recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine finds, that friends’ fatness would have an influence distinct from that of the culture as a whole….

In my own ingroup of 16 judges (11 active members of my court, 4 senior members, and 1 nominee, who will replace an active member who will be taking senior status), only 2 are overweight (12.5 percent), compared to a nationwide average of 66 percent. Among my other friends, judicial and otherwise, the percentage who are overweight is probably no greater than 12.5 percent.

When we read this, we guessed that one of the two overweight judges was Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook. After all, a fondness for Arby’s Melts is not a recipe for thinness. But one ex-Seventh Circuit clerk we contacted disagreed:

Actually, Easterbrook has lost a lot of weight. I am not sure who [Posner] meant. Also query whether he used the rigorous BMI > 25 test.

Good point. Did Judge Posner run around the Dirksen Courthouse with a pair of body-fat calipers? Or did he just eyeball his colleagues in the robing room, to see who was sporting muffin tops?
To Seventh Circuit groupies: Which judges are packing a few extra pounds underneath their robes? Please enlighten us, in the comments. Thanks.
Social Obesity — Posner’s Comment [The Becker-Posner Blog]

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