As I waited for my plane to take off Sunday morning, coming back from Thanksgiving vacation, I was listening to music on my iPod. We had been waiting on the runway for 25 minutes and I was bored, tired, and roasting hot. I needed to distract myself. But then, before I knew it, it was apparently time to take off. Without warning, the stewardess came from the back of the plane, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “SIR, you have to turn it off now. SIR. SIR.”
Like I do every time I fly, I took off my headphones until the flight attendant walked away. Then I put them back on. I also never turned off my cell phone or put it in airplane mode.
You probably know this is not allowed. Airplane passengers are supposed to turn off all electronic devices for takeoff and landing.
But WHY? Is aviation safety so delicate that a few Kindles or iPads endanger hundreds of lives? I don’t think so. A New York Times article from Monday takes a look at this mysterious, anachronistic facet of America’s law of the skies….
But when it comes to electronically tracking people, Jones is just the tip of the iceberg. Law enforcement also often follow American citizens through their cell phones. The practice has become so widespread that some magistrate judges are reconsidering their willingness to authorize it….
Long before I became a law blogger, I spent a good chunk of time working as a photojournalist. Periodically, I wound up photographing the police. Whether it was at an arrest at a football game, or an officer who suffered an unusual injury, officers rarely hassled me because I usually had a press pass and a big, professional-looking camera.
But anyone can film in public spaces. One of the most important — and overlooked — technological developments of the last five-odd years is the ease with which anyone can record police doing their jobs and throw the video on YouTube. The technology can be a great deterrent against police misconduct.
So it’s really, seriously disturbing when police try to intimidate witnesses into turning off their cellphone cameras. It’s even more nauseating when someone gets arrested for simply filming police activity. Luckily, a recent decision from First Circuit unambiguously told police to cut it out.
Keep reading for details about the man who was arrested for taping police in America’s oldest public park, as well as Judge Kermit Lipez’s benchslap of the officers who made the arrest….
* Should the police be able to use mobile-phone location data in order to locate a charged defendant? Kash reports on a recent decision. [Not-So Private Parts / Forbes]
* More importantly, should Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street get “gay married”? [Althouse]
* The ABA takes a lot of blame for the inadequacy of graduate employment reporting by law schools, but at least they’re taking “a step in the right direction,” according to Professor Gary Rosin. [The Faculty Lounge]
* Professor Ilya Somin: “The Decline of Men or Just the Rise of Women?” [Volokh Conspiracy]
* No need to email us that Kentucky judge’s (very funny) “tick on a fat dog,” “one legged cat in a sand box” order, regarding a case that settled, obviating the need for a trial — we covered it last month. Thanks. [Above the Law]
The satirical Onion News Network recently reported on new government funding for that “massive online surveillance program run by the CIA,” known as Facebook — dreamed up by “secret C.I.A. agent Mark Zuckerberg.” The report made light of how much information we’re willing to make available to a third party — information that we would never consider freely handing over to the feds. While funny, the report speaks to serious concerns about privacy. Civil liberties advocates like Christopher Soghoian and Nicholas Merrill worry about the ease with which the government can get access to the digital information we store with third-parties like Facebook, Yahoo!, and Google, as well as to the rich databases that our mobile phone providers have.
Should we call it the Tech.B.I. or the Dot.Com.I.A.?
* In the Barry Bonds trial, an expert on steroids described how the government injected a bunch of baboons with the drug Bonds is accused of using. I, for one, welcome our new baboon overlords. [ESPN]
* Some Amish in Kentucky are fighting a regulation that requires reflective safety triangles on their buggies. Say they’d rather get Munsoned out in the middle of nowhere than use those things. [Louisville Courier-Journal]
* A lawyer in Illinois faces possible jail time for letting her detained client use her cell phone. At least she’ll get bars now. HIYOOOO! [ABA Journal]
* The FBI has instructed agents to to hold off on Miranda warnings when interrogating “operational terrorists” about immediate threats. These threats include suitcase bombs, sex bombs, nude bombs, and La Bamba. The Los Lobos version. [New York Times]
* Law firms are whetting wetting their collective beak on drug deals. But drugs is a dirty business. It makes, it doesn’t make any difference to me what a man does for a living, understand. But your business is, uh, a little dangerous. [Am Law Daily]
Here at Above the Law, we’re trying to help you. We write about lawyers who do embarrassing things so that you can learn from their examples. Heck, you should get ethics CLE credit for reading this site.
One of our most widely-used lessons — now part of new employee training at a Wall Street firm, in fact — is the cautionary tale of Acela Bob. Pillsbury Winthrop partner Robert Robbins conducted what should have been a confidential conversation about impending layoffs at his firm — in a loud voice, using his cellphone bluetooth, on a crowded Acela train. An ATL reader heard the whole thing and tipped us off; we wrote it up. Shortly thereafter, Pillsbury — which had not yet admitted to any layoffs — confessed that cuts were coming (and “apologize[d] for the unfortunate manner in which our deliberations about reductions have become public”).
Here’s one lawyer who apparently never heard about Acela Bob, or perhaps forgot the story: James J. Kirk (no relation to Captain James T. Kirk).
As a place to live, California has a lot going for it: the Pacific Ocean, pleasant weather, celeb spottings. But if you’re concerned about the police perusing the contents of your smartphone without a warrant, you might prefer to spend your time further east, in the Buckeye State.
The Supreme Courts of California and Ohio have come down on opposite sides of the question of whether police need a warrant to search an arrested person’s cellphone. California may be perceived as the tech-savvy state, thanks to playing host to Silicon Valley, but when it comes to how the law applies to technology, its analysis is rather simplistic. In an opinion issued Monday, California’s court said “no warrant needed,” equating a cell phone with a pack of cigarettes. Hmmmm. Cell phones are addictive, I suppose…
Can you please offer your insight into proper etiquette for ring tones in the workplace? I understand someone may have an affinity for The Jitterbug in their personal life, but when did it become acceptable to leave your cell phone on full volume while in the office knowing that it will go off at least three times each day? I work next to a law clerk whose phone sounds like it’s Mario eating a magic mushroom whenever he receives a message. I’ve asked him to put his phone on vibrate or silent when he comes to work, but it hasn’t sunk in — do I need to pull a Bluto from Animal House and smash his phone to stop the madness?
Dear Gallagher, this question is disturbing on many levels….
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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