International Law

I don’t really feel the need to slap a “hero” or “villain” label onto Edward Snowden, the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor who blew the lid off of the secret government email spying program now known as Prism. I mean, if I have to choose, I go “hero” because I basically don’t trust any program the government won’t even explain to its own people. And I certainly don’t trust anything that’s every come out of a FISA court, because how can I?

But I don’t know that this was the right or only way to bring this important information to light. I believe, I kind of need to believe, that the public’s ability to know and stop potentially massive government overreach rests on more than the good conscious of high school dropouts living in Hawaii. Perhaps so-called “small government” types will join together with progressives in saying that non-public courts issuing secret warrants is probably a bad thing.

With that in mind, I would love to see Snowden evade prosecution. It’s not his fault that he wasn’t able to forge alliance between Ron Paul supporters like himself and progressives who wish that politicians were as afraid of Fourth Amendment as the Second.

But how can he stay free? The Justice Department is loading up charges and Hong Kong just wants what’s good for business. Snowden is already on the move, where should he go? Come on people who went to law school for “international law” get your head out of complex cross border transactions and help this brother out…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series from Bruce MacEwen and Janet Stanton of Adam Smith Esq. and JDMatch. “Across the Desk” takes a thoughtful look at recruiting, career paths, professional development, human capital, and related issues. Some of these pieces have previously appeared, in slightly different form, on AdamSmithEsq.com.

We humans like to put things in categories.

And while we can get it plain wrong, or mix up two categories benignly or malignly, there’s no question our propensity for categorization — from friend or foe and food to poison, to Linnaeus, to the periodic table, to the Dewey decimal system — has gotten us a long way on the planet so far.

So today we launch our own taxonomy of law firms….

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I’ll get you my little Iranian… and your little dog too.

The sins of the father should not be visited on the son. Honestly, if House Mystal was in Westeros (I think I know what sigil you think I should have), those would be our words. It’s awful when a whole family is shamed for the mistakes of one member. Nobody wants to be in the position of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s crazy uncle.

Thankfully, in civilized societies, we don’t hold children criminally responsible for the crimes of their forebears. That’s pretty much a bedrock principle of modern jurisprudence. Guilt by association might happen in the public sphere (sorry, Jeb Bush — I think everybody knows your brother, President Fredo, should have been passed over), but in the legal sphere, we have a little thing called “due process.”

It’s a constitutional principle Representative Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) had to be reminded of yesterday…

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* Texas law student/international small-arms dealer Cody Wilson got shot down (pun!) days after revealing a fully security-proof 3D printable gun. The State Department pointed out that Wilson seems to be violating all manner of international arms agreements, which was pretty obvious when he went on video boasting about how his weapons were being used in hotbeds of civil strife. [Foreign Policy: Passport]

* The Juice may soon be loose! But probably not. O.J. Simpson has a hearing seeking a new trial in Las Vegas and blaming his former lawyer, Yale Galanter. Best part? Simpson claims Galanter approved the whole “armed, threatening confrontation” plan beforehand. Oops. [FOX News]

* Michael Arrington, a lawyer and “one of the most powerful people on the Internet,” is suing his ex-girlfriend for defamation. The complaint compiles some pretty salacious claims that she made via social media. [Valleywag]

* Just when you thought being an unpaid intern couldn’t be sadder, Judge Baer makes it sadder. [Fashionista]

* The “Thug’s Lawyer” got a reprieve when a judge tossed his indictment for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, theft, and perjury. [The Advocate]

* The EEOC filed suit against a Miami company that required its employees to become Scientologists. In other news, someone actually thought they could get away with making all their employees join the Church of Scientology. [Lowering the Bar]

* The history of the Madison Avenue IPOs alluded to in last week’s Mad Men. [DealBook]

When Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement, conspiracy theorists opined that the mounting allegations of a Church-sponsored cover-up of sexual abuse had reached the highest levels of the Vatican. That charge didn’t make much sense to me. As Pope, Benedict XVI possessed the legal immunities. Outside the office, his status is in doubt.

So if he felt some fear of prosecution, he should have opted to stay in the office for life.

It’s pretty simple logic. That said, “logic” is the sort of thing that, historically, gets you burned at the stake by the Catholic Church, so maybe I shouldn’t try to apply that to the Pope’s decision.

But the question remains: Does the “Pope Emeritus” retain legal immunities in retirement? And if not, what litigation is he inviting with his retirement?

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Quick! Grab that piece of paper in front of you!

Draw three circles, along the lines of a Venn diagram.

One circle represents the past; one represents the present; and one represents the future. Your three circles should show the relationship between past, present, and future.

People from different cultures tend to draw those circles very differently, and I’ll explain your cultural bias after the jump.

Why am I writing about this? Because my corporate law department recently held its global law conference, at which all of our lawyers from around the world gathered in one place for two days of meetings. (February in Chicago! Who could resist?) We’re quite an international group, and we invited a speaker (from one of our businesses, which consults on talent management issues) to talk to us about working on cross-cultural teams.

This is just the sort of touchy-feely stuff that I typically can’t bear, but this guy was actually pretty interesting. He both revealed the cultural biases of people within our group and gave some suggestions about how to work together more effectively in the future.

I’ve now stalled for long enough. If you’ve drawn your three circles representing past, present, and future, you’re allowed to click through the jump and learn about your cultural prejudices….

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* Ben Weiss suggests that the third year of law school be replaced by special certifications in practice areas. He calls these “O’Wendells.” I like the idea, but the name sounds dirty. If he really wants to keep with the SCOTUS theme, he could just call it a “Bushrod.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

* A guide to the legal landscape surrounding high-frequency trading (the new fad of super-fast, computer-driven trading algorithms swapping stocks in split-seconds). Good, because I like my trading like I like my women: capable of collapsing economic markets at any given notice. [New York Law Journal]

* In fairness to this judge accused of “inappropriate conduct” with an inmate, the Miami Correctional Facility is considered the most romantic correctional facility in America. [RTV6 ABC]

* Calvin and Hobbes impart an important lesson in International Law. [Invisible College Blog]

* Professor Howard Wasserman examines the economics of the infield-fly rule. There’s not even a jokey blurb here; this is intriguing. [Sports Law Blog]

* Man suing a church and some of its staff after being invited to a service and then allegedly being accused of demonic possession and beaten. In fairness to the church, if the man was really the devil, filing a lawsuit is the most logical means of revenge he could employ. [Legal Juice]

Antigua & Barbuda 1
United States 0

Have you been holding off on buying your copy of Supertrain: The Complete Series in hopes of downloading it illegally without fear of reprisal? Well, you have a friend in Antigua & Barbuda.

In a Monday decision by the World Trade Organization, Antigua & Barbuda can now legally offer downloads of copyrighted U.S. works, and there’s not a damn thing the U.S. can do about it.

The decision marks the latest chapter in the long-running trade dispute between the U.S. and the tiny Caribbean nation over Antigua’s internet gambling industry. The U.S. banned Antigua’s internet casinos, Antigua took the U.S. to court through the WTO, and Antigua won — and has continued to win — consistently throughout the appeal process.

And now, in what passes for the sentencing phase of the WTO proceedings, Antigua has earned the right to violate the hell out of U.S. copyrights up to the value of $21 million a year.

Does that seem illogical? Welcome to the WTO….

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You really don’t want to be sued in a corrupt, backwater swamp.

No, no! I don’t mean Louisiana! I mean a truly corrupt backwater swamp like, say, Sudan.

(I pick Sudan because it’s subject to sanctions by most first-world countries, so I don’t have to worry about someday being dragged before a Sudanese judge who isn’t tickled by my having called his country a “corrupt, backwater swamp.” I may well pay a price for having tarred Louisiana with that label, but my opening two sentences just wouldn’t have been funny if I hadn’t named a specific state. I’ll have to hope that judges in Louisiana have a sense of humor.)

You get sued in Sudan. You hire Sudanese counsel. You probe him about Sudanese substantive law, Sudanese procedure, and whether the Sudanese judicial system can be trusted. He answers your questions about corruption with vague assurances about how he’s a pretty well-connected lawyer, and most judges aren’t too bad, and corruption isn’t quite as rampant as outsiders seem to think. Then he goes on to explaining how he’ll defend your lawsuit.

That advice may be okay as far as it goes, but it’s missing the global perspective. Here’s one place where in-house lawyers — and sophisticated outside counsel — can add real value in litigation….

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* Legendary union leader Marvin Miller died today at the age of 95. This is a guy who lost a huge case at the Supreme Court fighting against Major League Baseball, and still found a way to win. He wasn’t a lawyer, but he mastered the law. [USA Today]

* Tax professors weigh in on the fiscal cliff. [Tax Prof Blog]

* Jersey Shore residents are suing over sand dune protection from storms. They’re not suing because they’re weren’t protected enough, they’re suing because the new sand dunes block their ocean view. [Asbury Park Press]

* Yahoo! and NBA lawyers might need to talk about what, precisely, the NBA is endorsing. [Marc Edelman Blog]

* I’m going to go on and vote “no” on the question of whether or not the U.N. should get to “govern” the internet. Wait… I don’t get a “vote” on what the U.N. should do? Well, that sounds like a good reason to go back to not giving a crap about anything the U.N. says. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Looks like the wheel finally came ’round on InTrade. [Dealbreaker]

* The Justice Resource Center, coordinator of the 2013 NYSBA High School Mock Trial Tournament, seeks voluntary attorney-coaches. Help teach young people about the law — and get CLE credit, too! [Justice Resource Center]

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