iPhone

Keith Lee

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day life of a lawyer. And the longer you are a lawyer, the more it will come to define you – if you let it. But it is a limiting definition, even for the best and brightest of lawyers. Take Marcus Tullius Cicero, likely the most famous lawyer in history. Upon being acclaimed for his skills as a lawyer, it is said that Cicero remarked:

“And yet he often desired his friends not to call him orator, but philosopher, because he had made philosophy his business, and had only used rhetoric as an instrument for attaining his objects in public life. But the desire of glory has great power in washing the tinctures of philosophy out of the souls of men, and in imprinting the passions of the common people, by custom and conversation, in the minds of those that take a part in governing them, unless the politician be very careful so to engage in public affairs as to interest himself only in the affairs themselves, but not participate in the passions that are consequent to them.”

– Plutarch, Cicero, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans (c. 75-100 AD), John Dryden translation

Here we have the greatest lawyer in all of Rome, insisting that he wished to be remembered as a philosopher — a thinker — not a lawyer. Being a lawyer was part of who he was; it did not define him….

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In too many ways, 2013 was a year that vindicated the long-standing paranoia of many Americans, particularly the more conservative. A bewildering number of stories littered the news that seemed to confirm exactly the sort of gross government overreach that previously sounded like a delusion of someone whose eyes were scanning the skies for black helicopters. In spring 2013, for example, we learned that the IRS had been targeting the 501(c)(3) applications of conservative and libertarian organizations, apparently based solely on their political and philosophical affiliations. Nothing in 2013, though, fanned the flames of political paranoia quite like revelations of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs.

In Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, decided in February, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Amnesty International’s constitutional challenge to a portion of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. In its 5-4 opinion, the Court found that Amnesty lacked Article III standing, in part because the plaintiffs could not show that they had necessarily been targeted for surveillance. When Edward Snowden later disclosed details of the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program, civil libertarians experienced something of a Pyrrhic victory. Standing would not be a problem in many future lawsuits because the revelation of PRISM established that millions of Americans had been subject to some NSA spying. The only question was whether that surveillance amounted to a violation of the law.

As we leave 2013 and 2014 dawns, some new developments have emerged . . . .

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Remember Ecce Homo?

* Apple gave the iPhone 5 fingerprint database to the NSA. This would be a gross invasion of privacy but Tim Cook masterminded this, so the NSA got the Ecce Homo of fingerprint image captures. [Hackers News Bulletin]

* Charlie Sheen got dismissed from jury duty after only one day. #winning [TMZ]

* Gordon from Sesame Street lost his palimony case. That’s because he was trying to duck out on the woman who mothered his “1… 2… 3… 4 kids! [thunderclap] Ah… ah… ah!” [Jezebel]

* Remember the early days of Twitter? Legal Cheek went back and found some of the earliest Tweets from British legal luminaries. It’s just funnier when you imagine an English accent saying, “I appear to be on Twitter… why, I have no idea.” [Legal Cheek]

* If you saw last week’s post on crazy people who claim that no court can try them because of maritime law, check out this epic opinion from Canada. Identifying those folks, like the maritime gang from last week, as Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument (“OPCA”) litigants, the opinion is 180 pages seeking “to uncover, expose, collate, and publish the tactics employed by the OPCA community.” [Alberta Courts]

* Police crack down on a motorized bar stool. That’s fair, because if there’s one motor vehicle that you’re likely to fall off… [Lowering the Bar]

* Professor Ilya Somin is touring the country and coming to a law school near you promoting his new book Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter (affiliate link). Small government does usually smart, as in “cause a sharp, stinging pain.” [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* An HLS grad working for the World Bank was rescued from the Kenyan mall hostage crisis. We wish her the best. [Daily Mail]

* Senator Elizabeth Warren and Professor Lawrence Lessig are going to be speaking at an event called “The Founders v. The Roberts Court: Corruption, Campaign Finance, and McCutcheon v. FEC” tomorrow at noon Eastern. The event will be livestreamed at the link. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Craigslist is suing Craigstruck, a company that specializes in delivering items ordered off of Craigslist. It’s how all those $5/hour attorneys get from place to place. Anyway, the owner of Craigstruck proposed to settle the legal dispute via football wager with Craigslist. If only all disputes could be settled this way. Video wager after the jump…

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Ed. note: Above the Law will be signing off early to begin the ATL/Kaplan Bar Crawl Review. Follow along on social media (Twitter and Facebook) or on the liveblog post after NS, or better yet, come out and join us!

* A Facebook “Like” is protected by the First Amendment. ATL Likes this. [The Atlantic]

* You can’t get a Frappuccino to go with your Kalashnikov any more. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The stand-up comic judge has been shut down by the New Jersey Supreme Court in a 7-0 decision. Everyone’s a critic. [ABA Journal]

* An interview with Alan Page of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and formerly a Defensive Tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Page’s hometown has a bust of him on display. Not so impressive until you realize he’s from Canton, Ohio. [Coverage Opinions]

* If you’re looking for some more legal content related to International Talk Like a Pirate Day, check out Buried Treasure: Finders, Keepers, and the Law. [ABA]

* A list of everything you should be doing with your time instead of getting a law degree. [Yahoo!]

* A warm welcome to Chris Geidner as the new legal editor of BuzzFeed. In addition to some great content, like his amazing profile of Edie Windsor (first link), stay tuned for “25 Ways Justice Alito Is Like This Cat.” [New York Observer]

* If you’ve upgraded your iPhone to iOS 7, you’re probably annoyed right now. Here are some tips to help preserve your battery life. We can do nothing about fixing how ungodly ugly it is. [Tuaw]

* Zynga is suing the makers of Bang With Friends alleging that the latter chose its name to take advantage of market confusion with Words With Friends. To remedy the suit, the app is considering a name change to “Bangville,” which actually works better because Bang With Friends is all about pathetically bothering everyone on Facebook to give you something you can’t go out and get yourself. [BBC]

* Ariel Castro gave some testimony. It was crazy. Enjoy! [Jezebel]

* A comprehensive legal analysis of Better Off Dead. Spoiler alert: the Paperboy was a penal code violating machine. [The Legal Geeks]

* 10 Things Only Someone Who’s Taken the Bar Exam Would Know [Policy Mic]

* Just where is the FISA Court? 10 points to Gryffindor for the “Room of Requirement” reference. [Konklone]

* The NBA luxury tax is supposed to help parity. So why doesn’t it? [The Legal Blitz]

* Brutally honest Craigslist ad for temp document review work. This will probably come down at some point, so the ad is reproduced after the jump…

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* Chess match becomes eight-hour police standoff. Sure, that makes sense. [Lowering the Bar]

* A roundup of the worst courtroom jokes of all time. The decision to kick off Roe v. Wade with a sexist joke was so “meta.” [Salon]

* Order some fine wines from Barrister Winery, founded by two lawyers who bought a home wine-making kit and turned it into their business. [Barrister Winery]

* A Brooklyn ADA is not fired for calling hookers from his office phone. Charlie Hynes runs a tight ship over there. [Brooklyn Magazine]

* A new study suggests that smartphones may make you meeker. The flaw with the study is that someone with a desktop doesn’t walk away and “take the initiative” because they’re more gung ho, but because desktops are not as cool as sitting around and playing Temple Run on your smartphone. [The Careerist]

* Simon Lazarus, Senior Counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center, says that libertarianism has taken over the Supreme Court. I won’t believe it until they hand down a ruling about returning to the gold standard. [The New Republic]

* Teresa and Joe from The Real Housewives of New Jersey “charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud in a 39-count indictment.” Teresa’s reaction to the news after the jump…

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* Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is leaving the cabinet to head the University of California system. That’s a natural transition because UC already treats its students like threats to national security. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Texas banning tampons from the Texas Capitol building in advance of abortion vote. Guns are still fine though. In the words of the inimitable Spencer Hall, “But what about a gun that FIRES tampons, Texas?” [Huffington Post]

* A lot of folks are anticipating Noel Canning, but if Harry Reid invokes the so-called “nuclear option” (fifth item), does that render the whole case moot? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Three years for stealing an iPhone from a child. I guess it’s like taking Candy (Crush) from a baby. [Law and More]

* If you stop to think about it, someone should totally have sued the camp from The Parent Trap (affiliate link). If for no other reason than the likelihood Lohan was dealing to all the other campers. [Crushable]

* An iOS app for creating semi-bespoke contracts. That’s cool, but I’ll stick to Temple Run, thanks. [Associate's Mind]

* “Can you imagine if a law firm had a breach? We wouldn’t work with them again.” In-house counsel are pissed that outside counsel CHECK THEY EMAILS on cellphones. [Am Law Daily]

* Matt Kluger’s 12-year insider trading sentence was upheld by the Third Circuit. All of the Biglaw firms he’s worked at, most recently Wilson Sonsini, must be so proud. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Shots fired: a tax law professor decimates Seton Hall in prose over its decision to possibly kick untenured junior professors to the curb due to budget considerations. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Do yourselves a favor, and don’t worry about how to “demystify the LSAT experimental section” during the test — unless you want a crappy score. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Pass the ammunition? After facing a court-mandated deadline from the Seventh Circuit, Illinois is now the last state in the country to have legalized the concealed carrying of firearms. [Chicago Tribune]

* Now that SCOTUS has punted on the question of gay marriage, other plaintiffs are stepping forward to sue for the right to wed. Next up, a challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on equality. [Legal Intelligencer]

* James “Whitey” Bulger let f-bombs fly across the courtroom during his trial yesterday when his former partner took the stand to testify against the mob boss. Once a Masshole, always a Masshole. [CNN]

A lawyer who brings a lawsuit predicated on his own stupidity is a rare, beautiful, courageous creature. It’s one thing to represent with a straight face someone who tried to make out with an industrial fan, and another to admit that you personally couldn’t master simple technology.

It’s also a bold move for a partner in a law firm to admit that he’s bringing a lawsuit over losing ONE FRIGGING DOLLAR on his mistake.

That’s why this guy deserves some credit for being so comfortable publicly admitting what no one else would…

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We should have known that the Fisher opinion was going to be a letdown — a “great big dodge,” as my colleague Elie Mystal put it. Instead of readying herself for an historical moment, Justice Elena Kagan spent yesterday doing some window-shopping.

Where did she go, and what merchandise did she check out? Here’s an eyewitness report….

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