Free Speech

Ed. note: This column will be about sports. And the law. And the intersection of those two things. And whatever the hell else Juggalo Law can come up with.

One summer during my childhood, I wanted nothing more than five copies of X-Force number one. I must have spent a solid two months harassing my mother and, when she finally had had enough, she relented, saying she’d buy the comic book for me if I hit a home run in my next little league game. She could have just said no. Because I didn’t stand a chance that summer. I was afraid of the ball and would flinch ever-so-gently as soon as the ball was pitched towards the plate. I’d try to catch up to its trajectory, but I was toast every single time. When the next game arrived, I had forgotten about my mom’s promise. And, in my last at-bat, I flinched, closed my eyes, and then swung at what I could only hope was the ball. Home run. My only home run. My sweetest accomplishment ever in baseball. My only accomplishment, really. As we walked into the house after the game, I loudly reminded my mom of her promise. She shrugged and continued inside. And that’s when my sister asked me one seemingly innocuous question. “What’s that on your pants?” Do I have to tell you, dear readers? Do I have to confess to you that there was urine on my otherwise clean and unfortunately bright white pants, a memento left in loving memory of my fear or my relief or my pride?

Fact is, I can’t really remember why I peed a little. LET’S TALK SPORTS!

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Where's Waldo? In court, apparently.

* Jason Cai, the software engineer convicted in the spring of murdering a young attorney, was sentenced today to life in prison without parole and ordered to pay more than $700,000 to the slain woman’s family. [Mercury News]

* An appeals court revived a discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman against her employer. And nobody cares. Wait, hold on a sec. Her employer is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. What, what, whaaaat? [WSJ Law Blog]

* James Holmes, the man accused of last week’s movie theater shooting spree, has been formally charged with 142 criminal counts. They include 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. [Courthouse News Service]

* The Twinkie defense is so played out. Now, courtesy of an ex-Citigroup employee, introducing the brand spanking new “Where’s Waldo” defense. [Reuters]

* India’s largest and oldest television network has accused Nielsen of violating the FCPA by manipulating viewership data in favor of networks that offer bribes. Say it ain’t so! [Hollywood Reporter]

* Chick-fil-A, free speech, zoning laws, and homophobia — all thrown together onto a failure pile in a sadness bowl. Noted First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza, counsel to ATL, takes to CNN to educate the masses. [CNN]

Why do so many people who might want to harm someone else love to post about it online ahead of time? Not only is it a dumb strategic move — it alerts others to your allegedly nefarious plans, so a potential victim can escape the situation — it also makes it infinitely easier for law enforcement to, like, arrest and prosecute you.

We’ve heard this in various forms before, in regards to a possible mall shooting and laptop thief. But you would think a former prosecutor would know better than to allegedly threaten, via Facebook, to give his boss a whuppin’…

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SO. Freaking. Annoying!

If you like traffic cops, please raise your hand.

Good. Now bring that hand down in a hard, smacking manner upside your own head.

Traffic cops are the worst cops of all cops and meter maids are the worst of all the traffic cops. Think about it, the entire job of a meter maid involves punishing people for parking their cars — usually in a time and place where the very city they represent has not provided enough parking. What kind of job is that? I feel like everybody should have the right to go Lock Stock on traffic wardens.

Well, maybe that’s going a little far. But you should at least be able to scream at them. That’s a position that the state of Michigan fully supports me on…

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Back in April, we wrote about Mark and Rhonda Lesher, a couple in rural Texas who won a massive defamation verdict against formerly anonymous online commenters. The online comments followed a trial during which they were acquitted of sexual assault. The multimillion dollar verdict appeared to set things right.

But it turns out there is much, much more to their story. Theirs is an unsettling tale of small-town justice, politics, and Mark Lesher, a lawyer-slash-“professional agitator,” who tried to do the right thing in a town that apparently wanted none of it.

Let’s start with news that the defamation verdict was overturned last month, and go backwards from there….

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Permitting the Government to decree this speech to be a criminal offense would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable. That governmental power has no clear limiting principle.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy in today’s Stolen Valor ruling. You know, just the other random Supreme Court decision — protecting the First Amendment — that nobody seems to care about.

Free speech is a complex area legally, but it’s important to recognize that there are distinctions between one’s ability to express an opinion versus one’s ability to use F.C.C.-regulated airwaves to do so, and also one’s ability to engage in speech versus one’s ability to engage in slander.

Georgetown Law graduate Sandra Fluke, in a New York Times Magazine interview this weekend. Fluke was launched into the national spotlight after Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” for speaking out in favor of affordable contraception.

(An additional excerpt from the interview, after the jump.)

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* Welcome to the right side of history, former anti-gay marriage guy. [New York Times]

* Protecting free speech has to be more important than stopping hate speech. [National Post vai Overlawyered]

* Netflix is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seems unfair to me, people are already disabled, I don’t see why you have to make them deal with Netflix too. [Boston Globe]

* This Tony Parker lawsuit following the Chris Brown fight is right out of Eddie Murphy’s Raw where people start suing Eddie for “sprained eyes.” (If you haven’t seen Raw in a while, click the link. So funny.) [Daily Mail]

* This law would make it a crime for a teenager to breakup with his girlfriend via text. That sounds like a great idea. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* See my vest, see my vest, made of lizards I’ve smuggled to the U.S. [Legal Juice]

After the jump, you really have to check out Brian Cuban having an aneurism over Lindsay Lohan’s continued freedom…

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Joseph Amendola

* Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, has a very lawyerly license plate — and expired tags, too? [Deadspin]

* In other sports law news, Darren Heitner says at least one football helmet manufacturer should be afraid, be very afraid, of concussion litigation. [Forbes]

* A pop culture blogger, Jenni Maier, is rudely awakened to the boring, sexless, receding-hairline-filled real world of jury duty. [Crushable]

* A pair of former Lawyers of the Day, Michael Tein and Guy Lewis, are in trouble again — this time for allegedly acting “recklessly and unprofessionally” twowards the judge in a wrongful death case they were handling. [Miami Herald]

* The Minnesota Supreme Court rules that a Mortuary Science student was legally flunked for making fun (on Facebook) of the cadaver she had to dissect. Chalk up another point to the Facebook Fun Police. [City Pages]

* Senior U.S. District Judge Robert J. Kelleher, the oldest serving federal judge, died at 99 in California. [Associated Press]

* Only 44% of Americans approve of how the Supreme Court is doing its job, but that’s probably because the other 56% wouldn’t know what the Supreme Court was unless the justices were contestants on a reality show. [New York Times]

* Having nothing to do with the outcome of this Tenth Circuit appeal, apparently a juror in the underlying case had no idea when the First Amendment was adopted. As Bush II would say, is our children learning? [U.S. Tenth Circuit / FindLaw]

* Who’s going to win the “Super Bowl” of Android patent trials? Nobody. Judge Richard Posner has issued a “tentative” order which noted that both sides of the Apple/Google case ought to be dismissed. [Reuters]

* You should’ve “known better”: in case we didn’t make it abundantly clear when we spoke about NALP’s data for the class of 2011, the job market for new law grads is being classified as “brutal.” [National Law Journal]

* U. Chicago Law revolutionized the field of law and economics, but much to the school’s chagrin, everyone copied them. Now they’re thinking up new ways to do the same things. Gunners gotta gun. [Businessweek]

* Say hello to Mary Lu Bilek, the woman who’s been appointed as the new dean of UMass Law. Hopefully she’s not keen on using school credit cards for personal spending like the last dean. [Wall Street Journal]

* Occupy Wall Street protesters can’t sue NYC, its mayor, or its police commissioner, but they can sue the police. And with that news, “F**k tha Police” was sung in drum circles across the tri-state area. [Bloomberg]

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