Blog Wars

Back in February, we covered a lawsuit filed by Mayer Brown that some critics called “disgusting” and “despicable.” The case challenges the placement of a memorial for World War II “comfort women” in a public park in Glendale, California — partly on administrative procedure grounds, and partly because the memorial allegedly “presents an unfairly one-sided portrayal of the historical and political debate surrounding comfort women.”

Filing a lawsuit that effectively seeks to deny the historical phenomenon of the comfort women — women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II — didn’t go over too well in many quarters. And now the case is back in the news, surely to Mayer Brown’s chagrin….

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A lawsuit filed earlier this month has raised the ire of several leading lawyers and legal bloggers. Noted First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza — a panelist at our Attorney@Blog conference, by the way — describes the case as “truly disgusting.” Ken White of Popehat, another prominent commentator on the legal profession, calls the suit “despicable” and “thoroughly contemptible,” writing that he “cannot remember a lawsuit that so immediately repulsed and enraged.”

Let’s find out what all the buzz is about. Which law firm filed this controversial complaint, what is the case about, and how bad is it?

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University of Denver law professor Nancy Leong continues her quest to make the internet safe for female law professors who engage in questionable scholarship. When last we heard from Leong, she was getting called out by Paul Campos for “research” that involved putting up white versus Asian profiles on Ashley Madison.

But Leong is better known for her ongoing dispute with online commenter “dybbuk.” Dybbuk made a number of nasty, racist, and sexist comments about Leong. Leong says that the comments have made her fear for her safety. She’s figured out who Dybbuk really is and is now asking his state bar to launch an ethics inquiry into his online behavior.

If you don’t like people trying to make your life awful, you shouldn’t talk on the internet. I think that rule applies equally to Leong and Dybbuk…

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You get used to it. I don’t even see the code. All I see are SCOTUS sightings, Bonus Rumors, and Law Schools Ripping Off Students.

So last Friday, while I was sipping chugging Jack Daniels and curating the weekly GIF roundup in the airport lounge, Professor Brian Leiter went on his blog to assert — without a lick of evidentiary support — that Above the Law was in some kind of financial trouble. Since the reality is that Above the Law is coming off its best year ever by every metric available, we responded.

Well, it takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong.

In related news, Professor Leiter did not admit he was wrong. In fact, he updated his post with a retort so drenched in weak sauce that we figured we’d reply again.

How weak was it? Well, let’s school the prof on some basic math about his own site….

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Hey, we’re talking about Hulk Hogan here, so I figure a 20-year-old reference like “Talk to the Hand” is entirely appropriate.

A judge in Florida has ordered Gawker to take down a sex tape it acquired showing wrestler Hulk Hogan putting the “Legdrop of Doom” into his friend’s ex-wife, along with Gawker’s accompanying commentary and all the comments made to the post.

Gawker has taken down the video.

But in lieu of taking down the post and the comments, Gawker penned a stirring defense of the First Amendment that will also serve as Exhibit 1 in the eventual contempt hearing….

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My personal favorite: Peepemptory Challenges.

* To those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter! Welcome the holiday by voting in the ABA Journal’s fifth annual “Peeps in Law” contest. [ABA Journal]

* If law firm brackets aren’t your thing, check out Professor Kyle Graham’s brackets for (1) law school classes and (2) law blogs. I’m thankful for ATL’s #1 seed but terrified by who we’re up against (because they’ve ripped me a new one before). [noncuratlex]

* Sorry, Judge Steiner, you wuz robbed; you should have been our Judge of the Day. It’s tough to top “allegations of a sexual quid pro quo with a female lawyer and the eye-opening confiscation of carpet from [chambers] for forensic analysis.” [OC Weekly]

William Shatner

* “William Shatner’s Seductive Powers Don’t Create a Fiduciary Duty.” Robyn Hagan Cain explains why. [U.S. Second Circuit / FindLaw]

* Citi settles securities cases for $730 million. Matt Levine is not impressed. [Dealbreaker]

* And Ted Frank is incensed by Bernstein Litowitz’s nine-figure fee request. [Point of Law]

* If you’re already depressed by public ignorance about the Supreme Court, don’t look at the responses to question 9 of this opinion poll. [Penn Schoen Berland]

* Steven Harper — author of a new (and very good) book about the legal profession, The Lawyer Bubble (affiliate link) — offers thoughts on the billable hour in the wake of the DLA Piper overbilling allegations. [New York Times]

* Just in case you haven’t seen enough responses to the Case Western Law dean’s New York Times op-ed, here are some more. (Plus, with this, you’re getting the additional bonus of an incredibly sad letter from a young lawyer.) [Associate's Mind]

* Oh mon dieu! Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s legal team is now denying that that there was ever a settlement in the hotel maid’s sexual assault suit civil suit, and especially not a $6M settlement — because that’s apparently “flatly false.” [Slate]

* You’ve probably led a sad and lonely existence if you’re laying on your death bed and worrying about who will inherit your iTunes library. Don’t worry, they’re headed to a “legal black hole,” anyway. [Legal Blog Watch]

* The Supreme Court might be taking the phrase “don’t judge gay people” a little too literally. [WSJ Law Blog]

* And in other news, some teenagers are so obsessed with their tech gadgets, like cellphones, that they’d allegedly be willing to kill their family and pry the damn thing from their cold dead hands. [Legal Juice]

* Please remember to vote for your favorite law blog (coughcough Above the Law coughcough) in the Blawg 100 in the News/Analysis category, and all the rest of the sites you read in other categories, too! [ABA Journal]

* After the jump, Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia speaks with law firm consultant Tim Corcoran of the Corcoran Consulting Group about the future of rainmaking and business development in Biglaw….

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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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Heather Clem

Sorry if I’m a little bit late to this story, but did you know that Hulk Hogan is suing Gawker for posting a sex tape of Hogan and his friend’s wife?

Let me back up: Gawker had a sex tape up with Hulk Hogan. Hogan initially used the Shaggy Defense, then came clean and contended that his friend Todd Clem (aka: Bubba the Love Sponge) set him up with his estranged wife, Heather Clem (pictured, and apparently able to be used as a floatation device in case of emergency).

Hogan claims that he didn’t know the sex (which took place six years ago) had been recorded, and he is suing Todd Clem, Heather Clem, and Gawker for posting the video.

And… did you know the Hulkster’s real name is Terry Bollea?

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The threat of getting sued for libel or defamation has always hung over the heads of media professionals, now particularly so in the blogging era. The truth is always the clearest, simplest defense when faced with libel claims. But there are other, less direct avenues one can pursue as a defense, if need be.

A lawsuit recently dismissed against Gizmodo shows off one of the more commonly overlooked ways to bolster a defense against defamation. Let’s just say there’s often a reason bloggers like to include all those hyperlinks…

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