American Needle v NFL logo.jpgTomorrow, the Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments in the case American Needle v. National Football League for the purposes of determining whether the NFL clubs’ collective licensing of individual club trademarks is exempt from Section 1 of the Sherman Act under antitrust law’s single entity defense.
American Needle, which is represented by the law firm Jones Day, will argue that the Supreme Court should uphold the ruling of at least seven lower courts, each of which has found that the business practices of the NFL clubs are subject to Section 1 of the Sherman Act (American Needle’s briefs are available here and here). By contrast, the NFL, which is represented by the law firm Covington & Burling, will argue that, despite these lower court rulings, the NFL is really more akin to a single company and should be treated as such for antitrust purposes (The NFL’s brief is available here).
More details after the jump.

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Me football young and healthy.JPGYes, I have my Al Bundy-esque stories of high school sports glory. You’re not going to believe this, but I used to be a tailback. 4-year letterman, 3-year starter, with a sub-5.0 forty time good enough for D-III, probably could have made a D-II team if I really wanted it.
Yes, I used to … care.
But, by the time I got to Biglaw my athletic days were long gone (Mmm … college). By the time I got to Biglaw, I could pull a hamstring walking from my seat at Shea to the hot dog stand (Mmm … hot dogs). When I was a summer associate, a colleague broke his collar bone running out a grounder at the firm outing. I vowed that would not be me. Sitting is the better part of valor. So, I stayed clear of firm organized (non-beer pong) sporting events and leagues.
But I was glad they existed. Hyper-competitive people who are not me should release some of that energy on athletic fields and gyms instead of unleashing all of it in the office.
Sadly, this recession means cutbacks. Am Law Daily reports that one of the things being axed is firm sponsored teams in lawyer sports leagues:

New York’s Lawyers Athletic League, for instance, has seen the number of teams in its winter basketball league drop about 30 percent over the past two years, from 142 to 100. Participation in Los Angeles’ primary legal industry sports league, the Landau Lawyers League, has also experienced a decline in participation levels for its softball and basketball leagues. And in Houston, the basketball, softball, and football leagues organized by the city’s young lawyers association have all gotten smaller over the past 18 months.
One big reason the Houston leagues are shrinking: some firms simply don’t want to pay the entry fees required to field teams.
“The bigger firms don’t seem to have pulled in the reins,” says Earl Spencer, a lawyer with Weingarten Realty Investors who chairs the Houston Young Lawyers Association’ sports committee. “But at smaller firms, where 400 or 500 bucks makes a difference, there is more reluctance now.”

Even at firms that can afford to participate, the optics of paying for employed lawyers to have fun, while recently laid off lawyers cash unemployment checks, are not good.
Additional details after the jump.

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raven akram sandberg phoenix cheerleader.jpgWe occasionally write about career alternatives for attorneys here at Above The Law. But as far as we know, cheerleading does not constitute a full-time job. So we’re creating a new “extracurricular pursuits” category for it.

Many lawyers are cheerleaders in a way, seeking to boost their clients’ spirits and fortunes and tout their best qualities. Perhaps that’s why this is not the first time a legal cheerleader has found her way into our pages.

An ATL reader alerted us that Raven Akram, an attorney at Sandberg Phoenix, moonlights as an NFL cheerleader for the St. Louis Rams. Sandberg Phoenix is a 65-attorney trial firm with “seriously unbelievable client service.” Akram joined the firm’s St. Louis office in 2008.

Our tipster writes:

I found myself wondering how I would feel as a client if I were at a NFL game and my attorney was profiled on the big screen in a skimpy bikini. I also found myself wondering why an apparently successful attorney would spend her spare time cheerleading for what is objectively the worst team in the NFL.

We imagine clients would feel excited… about having such a hot attorney.

Her firm bio is pretty dry; she’s a Saint Louis University School of Law grad who specializes in business litigation. Let’s take a look at her cheerleading bio (and photo), after the jump.

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broken ankle softball suit.JPGThis story actually broke last week, but I wanted to make sure you guys saw it. The Daily News reports:

A Queens softball player is suing the city, claiming she busted her ankle because her high school coach never taught her how to slide.
Alina Cerda, 15, says she’s been sidelined for seven months and wants the city Education Department and Francis Lewis High School coach Bryan Brown to pay.

Cerda busted her leg during — wait for it — a sliding drill.
I feel bad about making fun of a fifteen-year-old girl. Don’t worry, I am going to make fun of her — I just want you guys to know I feel bad about what’s about to happen.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day a Couple of Days Ago: Softballer Can’t Slide, Wants Money”

Alabama Crimson Tide.JPGOn Wednesday, we told you about Alabama defense lawyers who filed a motion to continue based on a conflict with the BCS title game. The judge has said he will grant the motion, even though the judge is an alumnus of Alabama’s arch rival, Auburn. Deadspin explains this miscarriage of justice perfectly:

If you’re going to start creating judicial precedents on the basis of college football schedules, then shouldn’t you also conform those judgments to reflect a more proper demonstration of your allegiance? An Auburn judge should not only deny any motion filed by a U of A attorney, he should hold them in contempt of court and make them swear to tell the truth under an oath to Pat Sullivan. That’s some smash mouth law makin’!
Instead, Circuit Judge Dan King says that a man who has waited four years to see the memory of his dead mother honored in a court of law can wait a few more months, because “If I didn’t, they’d say, ‘He just didn’t grant it because he’s an Auburn fellow.’” Yes, “they” might say that. They might also say that “He’s an adult who doesn’t think that educated professionals should get the day off every time they want hold recess outside.” The Crimson Tide will solider on just fine without eight extra lawyers getting hammered in the Rose Bowl parking lot.

Auburn fans, it looks like Judge Dan King needs a friendly email reminder about which side his bread is buttered on.
It’s not like the motion went unanswered — plaintiff’s attorneys filed a response.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Every Alabama Lawyer Should Try the ‘BCS Defense’”

Susan Finkelstein Phillies sex.JPGIn October, we told you that a Philadelphia Phillies superfan, Susan Finkelstein, allegedly attempted to trade sex for World Series tickets. Her preliminary hearing was yesterday, and … well, I’ll let the Philadelphia Inquirer explain it to you:

“I admit it. I’m a prostitute. I love sex. I’m a whore,” the Bensalem police officer testified that Finkelstein had told him as he posed as “Bob” at Manny Brown’s in Bensalem.
She talked about “how much she loved anal sex,” he said, alleging later that she pulled up her denim skirt to expose her genital area and asked, “You wanna touch it?”

Hey now. That might be even too much drama for TNT. Who does she think she is, Eddy Curry?
Finkelstein denies all of it. Her side after the jump.

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Alabama Crimson Tide.JPGUpdate: This motion was granted.
Some on this board have doubted my commitment to college football. Even though I didn’t go to a school with a major FCS team, I adopted Michigan long, long ago (Elvis Grbac era), and I know how important the sport is.
So believe me when I say that this motion to continue is one of the most rational arguments you are likely to hear today. The motion comes from defense counsel in Alabama. It’s so wonderful that even the plaintiffs attorneys found it amusing, as this email from Marsh, Rickard & Bryan shows:

Check out this Motion to Continue that was filed by the defendants in one of our cases today. LOL, it’s awesome.

Roll Tide!

Indeed, it is awesome. And, by now, I’m sure you know why defense counsel is asking for the continuance.
But it’s not just the thought. After all, sports-related continuance motions have been filed before.
It’s the execution that makes it great. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Best. Motion to Continue. Ever.”

native american mascots.jpgLegal battles over Native American mascots are being waged in both the professional and college sports arenas. The New York Times reports that the controversy over the Fighting Sioux of the University of North Dakota has gotten more complicated.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association advised the school, along with 17 other universities, to change its mascot three and half years ago, says Ashby Jones at the WSJ Law Blog. While other universities acquiesced, the Fighting Sioux fought back, filing a lawsuit against the NCAA.
The suit was starting to wind down, and the name was to change soon says the NYT, until members of the Sioux tribe decided to file a lawsuit of their own. To keep the name. They’re proud of it:

The members from Spirit Lake behind the lawsuit assert that many of the American Indians opposed to the Fighting Sioux nickname are simply from tribes other than the Sioux, and are jealous of all the recognition. (Opponents call this absurd.)

Eunice Davidson, 57, who says she is “full blood” and “grew up on this reservation” tells the New York Times: “I have to tell you, I am very, very honored that they would use the name.”
When we interviewed Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation who has a petition pending before the Trademark Board about the Washington Redskins name, she expressed skepticism about Native Americans who defend tribal mascot names. She said they are in the minority.
This week, Fordham Law professor Sonia Katyal penned a column for Findlaw about the IP and First Amendment issues when it comes to racialized symbols. Why do we object to “Wong Brothers” but embrace the “Skins”?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More Reservations About Native American Mascots”

Tiger Woods Rachel Uchitel Elin Nordegren.jpgUPDATE (3:07): The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) just held a press conference. FHP announced that Tiger Woods was found “at fault” in his traffic accident, guilty of careless driving. The fine is $164 and four points on his driving record. This ends the Florida Highway Patrol’s investigation.
FHP determined “that there was insufficient evidence to issue a subpoena for any further evidence. There are no claims of domestic violence by any individual.”
Hmm… No evidence, you say? It looks like not talking was in fact the smart thing to do.
* * * * * * * * *
Lawyers, members of the bar, law students, and others with a smattering of legal training: we all have a duty to stand up and defend Tiger Woods’s decision to keep his mouth shut. The mainstream media has this story completely wrong, and it is up to us — those blessed with a basic understanding of criminal jurisprudence — to educate the public about why Tiger is staying silent. We must explain to our mothers and fathers and doormen and bodega owners that Tiger probably has to keep his mouth shut, in order to keep his wife out of jail.
I’ve explained elsewhere that we are looking at a potential domestic violence situation. If some of the reports are true, Elin Nordegren attacked her husband, allegedly threatening him with a golf club.
Now this is the part that laypeople seem to be having difficulty grasping. Just because Tiger is a man doesn’t mean he gets to decide whether or not his wife gets prosecuted for domestic violence. Criminal law doesn’t work that way. If the police find that Elin Nordegren assaulted Tiger, then this process gets taken out of Tiger’s hands. Right now, shutting up is the only thing Tiger can do if he wants to retain a modicum of control over the situation.
Especially in Florida.
More details, after the jump.

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Tiger Woods Rachel Uchitel Elin Nordegren.jpgWe mentioned L’Affaire Tiger Woods in Morning Docket (first three links), but since it was the big story of the long holiday weekend, we thought we’d revisit it in more detail. This story has a number of interesting legal angles.
The most thorough coverage appears over at TMZ. Check out these posts, which thrown together could make for quite the law school exam hypothetical (we’ve included study questions with each one):

  • Cops Pursue Warrant in Woods Case: According to TMZ, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) may be “obtaining a search warrant — allowing them to seize medical records from the hospital that treated Tiger Woods — in an attempt to determine if the wounds Woods sustained are consistent with a car accident or domestic violence” (allegedly perpetrated against Woods by his wife).

Is there probable cause?
More links and questions appear below.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Legal Angles on the Tiger Woods Story”

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