On the other side of the pond, the principles of the First Amendment often take second place to the right to privacy. Britain, for example, has a smashing little thing called a “superinjunction,” which citizens can get from a court to keep the media from writing stories about them. They also have regular injunctions, which people — usually rich people, since injunctive relief can be expensive — can get to keep their names out of scandalous scoops. This results in lots of tabloid stories that read like Gawker’s blind items, or simply don’t run at all.
A married soccer player (for Manchester United, in case you care — though you probably don’t) got himself one of the latter, when the Big Brother star/model he was balling told him she was selling her story to the press. Unfortunately for him, a Twitter user crusading against muzzling the press with superinjunctions somehow got his tweepy hands on the information and published the rumor about the player’s adulterous scoring, along with a bunch of other supposedly superinjuncted gossip.
It caused an uproar in Britain initially, but the fire died down fairly quickly — until the soccer player’s lawyers decided to give it some more fuel….
It might interest you to know that if I were still an active justice, I would have joined [Justice Alito's] powerful dissent in the recent case holding that the intentional infliction of severe emotional harm is constitutionally protected speech. The case… involved a verbal assault on the private citizens attending the funeral of their son — a Marine corporal killed in Iraq. To borrow Sam’s phrase, the First Amendment does not transform solemn occasions like funerals into ‘free-fire zones.’
And they should be. At a firm, if you could convince half of your lawyers to write intelligent, substantive blog posts twice a week in their areas of expertise, you could stop paying the public relations folks. You’d dominate the web, and reporters from traditional media would beat a path to your url, seeking ideas for stories and comments on hot topics.
(The same holds for many corporations, although it would be the business folks (who are responsible for generating business) and not the in-house lawyers (who are not) who should be hitting the keyboards.)
But firms and corporations don’t do this, for many reasons. First, firms are skeptical; they’re not sure this would work. Second, this requires a large, non-billable commitment of time; many firms (or individual lawyers) aren’t willing to put in the effort. Third, firms are legitimately nervous. What happens when we urge our lawyers or employees to go forth unto the web, and those folks go forth and write embarrassing or crazy stuff, which they inevitably will?
In fact, even if you don’t encourage folks to participate in online discussions, they’ll do it anyway. So social media policies have necessarily become the next rage: How do law firms and corporations protect their institutional interests without unduly interfering with their employees’ right to express themselves online?
Our buddy, the Honorable Alex Kozinski, is on a roll. On Monday, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit benchslapped a pair of wealthy, persistently annoying and mildly famous identical twins.
The same day, he gave a lecture at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University School of Law, where he declared the Internet has killed the First Amendment, or at least made it an anachronism. Heavy stuff.
More on what the judge said about the web’s effect on unsuppressable free speech, journalism and scumbag bloggers, after the jump.
* It looks like Jonathan Lee Riches has some competition. Check out this crazy lawsuit filed against Apple (and many other defendants), by one David Louis Whitehead. Why do the wackos always have three names? [Apple Insider]
* Check out Professor Glenn Reynolds’s interesting argument against a federally-mandated drinking age of 21. “If you get shot at, you can have a shot.” [Wall Street Journal via Instapundit]
* The FTC is holding Google’s balls feet to the fire over its privacy practices. Want to turn up the heat a few degrees? [EPIC]
Do you heart boobies? I do -- for aesthetic reasons, and as symbols of female seductive power.
* Speaking of body parts, would this lawsuit have turned out differently if the bracelets, instead of promoting breast cancer awareness by declaring “I ♥ Boobies,” promoted testicular cancer awareness and read “I ♥ Balls”? [Philadelphia Inquirer via WSJ Law Blog]
* And speaking of free speech and schools, Congress should proceed with caution when passing anti-harassment legislation. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Biglaw partners team up with a former federal prosecutor to launch a new litigation boutique. Say hello to Levine Lee LLP. [Am Law Daily]
Remember Lawrence Connell, the professor at Widener Law School who got in trouble for coming up with teaching hypotheticals in which he killed Dean Linda Ammons? Well, perhaps Professor Connell wishes the dean’s death was more than hypothetical.
Apparently Professor Connell wants to slay Dean Ammons — in a court of law. He has sued the dean for defamation.
* Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal was denied by the Fifth Circuit. While he remains the smartest guy in the room, the room consists of him and a half-wit cellmate whose only discernible talent is making Prune-o. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Bruce Fein, an attorney who worked on Clinton’s impeachment and called for Bush’s impeachment as well, has drafted articles of impeachment for Barack Obama. His high crime and misdemeanor? Time theft. [Politico]
* An Ohio man has been charged with a misdemeanor for barking at a police dog. When asked why he was barking at the female dog, the man calmly replied, “Bitch owes me money.” [CBS News]
* The government rested its case in the Raj Rajaratnam trial yesterday. Of additional note is the fact that Rajabba sits ten feet behind his defense table, partially obstructed from the jury box. You can’t completely block Rajabba from view. You can only wish to contain him. [New York Times]
* The government has warned attorneys for former Madoff employees not to use money that might be associated with Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. That includes, for their own health, any ass pennies. [ABA Journal]
* The Fourth Circuit rules in favor of a pundit-professor, in a case about the free speech rights of faculty members at public universities. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Charlie Sheen is trying to trademark his catchphrases now. He’s overexposed like a frostbitten penis — is there anything funny left to say about him at this point? (We might try; check in later.) [Forbes]
There’s always something fun going on in the Ninth Circuit. Last week, the Court voted against rehearing en banc in United States v. Alvarez, a case raising the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act (a law that essentially criminalizes false claims of military heroism). A divided three-judge panel struck down the Act on First Amendment grounds, and the Ninth Circuit voted against reconsidering that decision en banc.
Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (disclosure: my former boss) wrote a spirited and persuasive dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc, on behalf of himself and six other judges. The dissenters argued that the Act passes constitutional muster and that the First Amendment does not protect knowingly false statements of fact (subject to certain exceptions not presented by the law). The position that the Stolen Valor Act is constitutional is shared by a number of prominent scholars, including First Amendment guru Eugene Volokh.
But this is far from an open-and-shut case (unlike many of the Ninth Circuit cases that generate dissents from denial of rehearing, which we’ve previously described as the “Bat Signal” flashed by right-of-center Ninth Circuit judges to the Supreme Court when the lefties run amok). On the other side of the Alvarez case was Chief Judge Alex Kozinski — Professor Volokh’s former boss, and a jurist who, like Judge O’Scannlain, is often vindicated by SCOTUS smackdowns of Ninth Circuit liberals.
In 2009, a paramedic in Connecticut went home and complained about her boss on Facebook. Then she got fired.
“Love how the company allows a 17 to be a supervisor,” 42-year-old Dawnmarie Souza wrote. A “17” is the code her company, the American Medical Response ambulance service, uses for a psychiatric patient. She also called her boss a “scumbag as usual.” Several people joined in the discussion thread.
Her company’s blogging and Internet posting policy prohibited employees from saying anything negative online about the company or its employees.
The National Labor Relations Board found out about Souza’s plight and filed a complaint against the company. In February, AMR agreed to change its Internet policy, as part of a settlement that fundamentally changes the consequences of poor Facebook judgment….
* The town of Sedgwick, Maine, has declared “food sovereignty,” giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing,” without regard to state or federal law. Preemption? The Supremacy Clause? Eat it. [Food Renegade]
* Speaking of chaos, Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse wonders: “Who will win and who will lose in the recall madness?” [Althouse]
* Elsewhere in the Midwest, a blogger who didn’t commit defamation is nevertheless held liable under alternative theories that media law professor Jane Kirtley describes as “trash torts.” We no like. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune via Consumerist]
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: birthday girl.
* A young couple that has been fined for their noisy kid might take legal action against their homeowners’ association. Do they have a toddler’s leg to stand on? [MyFoxDFW.com]
* Happy Birthday, Justice Ginsburg! You don’t look a day over 78. [Vault]
* We previously mentioned the ATL contest for NCAA picks — click here, join the group “Above the Law Blog” with the password “abovethelaw”, and fill out a bracket — but we also encourage you to join the Dealbreaker contest (which has much nicer prizes). [Dealbreaker]
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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