Pope Benedict XVI

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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The Notorious P.O.P.E.

* Like any lawyers worth their salt, attorneys for the Obama administration are wasting precious time and procrastinating on whether they’ll weigh in on the Supreme Court’s Prop 8 case. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The nation’s largest companies, on the other hand, filed a brief with the Supreme Court concerning the DOMA case. Of course, they care more about money than people, but that’s beside the point. [New York Times]

* Lanny Breuer took his sweet time turning in his resignation from the top post of the DOJ Criminal Division, but his acting successor was named quite quickly. Welcome aboard, Mythili Raman. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Francine Griesing, the ex-Greenberg Traurig partner who alleged the firm was a “boys club,” agreed to mediate her claims. Too bad, we hoped something would actually happen with this case. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Hoping to get all your law school applications out before that looming March 1 deadline? Not gonna happen. LSAC’s site has been borked since Tuesday. Take this for the obvious sign that it is! [National Law Journal]

* Surprisingly not from The Onion: the Vatican wants to call the retiring pontiff “Pope Emeritus,” but a California rapper that no one’s ever heard of is threatening trademark litigation to stop it. [Borowitz Report / New Yorker]

* BREAKING: Law enforcement appears to have cornered Chris Dorner in Big Bear. Two injured in a shootout. [NBC News]

* Ranking the rankings? Who’s a bigger joke: National Jurist or Cooley? If only we had a ranking system for rankings. Hmm, that gives me an idea… [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]

* A 2009 Harvard Law grad and Proskauer associate Megha Parekh just took over as the General Counsel of the Jacksonville Jaguars. She’s a much better hire than Blaine Gabbert. [Big Cat Country]

* Looking for a clerkship in the present state of anarchy in the post-Clerkship Scramble world? This new website can help. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Call 911 for a sexy emergency! [Legal Juice]

* Papal resignation is a little more complex than you’d think. But what’s all this stuff about Benedict XVI having to “take the Black” and move somewhere called “The Wall?” [Volokh Conspiracy]

* When is a blogger a journalist? This question becomes pretty important when a state boasts a shield law for journalists. [Simple Justice]

* The profiled study here asks whether judges prefer plain language or legalese? Unfortunately, it doesn’t consider the fact that some judges prefer neither. [Associate's Mind]

* After the jump, watch some video of what happened when hackers hit the Montana emergency alert system and said zombies were taking over….

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* DC Comics didn’t take kindly to a garage selling replica Batmobiles without permission. A federal court agreed. But if we outlaw Batmobiles, only outlaws will have Batmobiles! [Comic Book Resources]

* Mistrial in Philadelphia after the witness lost (part of) his head on the witness stand. [Philly.com]

* Taser or Lightsaber? I never thought that would be a serious question. [Legal Juice]

* A quick refresher from that “Law and the Vatican” course you took as a 3L. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A compilation of some bad courtroom (and quasi-courtroom) behavior including our friend from last week, Penelope Soto. [LOL and Smile]

* The Bratz case is so totally over. The result? A whole lot of nothing — much like the Bratz movie. [The Recorder]

* Shorter version of this article: Morpheus explaining, “But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see?…The very minds of the [nice legal academics] we are trying to save. But until we do, these [law professors] are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy.” [Inside the Law School Scam]

* New Mexico is considering a new law against bullying — but does it go too far? Does it? Answer me, you little wuss! [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Bank of America agreed to pay $2.43 billion, one of the biggest securities class-action settlements in history, to put the Merrill Lynch mess behind it. According to Professors Peter Henning and Steven Davidoff, B of A “is probably quite happy with the settlement given that it could have potentially faced billions of dollars more in liability in the case.” [DealBook / New York Times]

* “Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting.” Here is Robert Barnes’s take on the SCOTUS Term that starts today. [Washington Post]

* And here is Professor Garrett Epps’s review of Jeffrey Toobin’s new book on the Supreme Court, The Oath (affiliate link). [New York Times]

* How Dewey justify paying a big bonus to a member of the management team “when it has been widely pointed out that excessive compensation to the firm’s upper management significantly contributed to the firm’s collapse in the first place?” [Bankruptcy Beat via WSJ Law Blog]

* A high-profile Vatican trial raises these questions: “‘Did the butler do it?’ Or rather, ‘was it only the butler who did it?’” [Christian Science Monitor]

* Ben Ogden, an Allen & Overy associate who was killed in a Nepalese plane crash, R.I.P. [Am Law Daily]

I send my lawyers out unto the world.

I’m not sure it’s fair to call the Vatican “homophobic.” Homophobia contemplates a kind of fear. It’s a prejudice that, like so many, comes out of ignorance.

The Vatican is different. They think they’re at war with gays and lesbians — and who knows how many of these guys are at war with their own sexuality. And as opposed to a mere lack of understanding, there’s that annoying, Vatican-style, moral omnipotence that makes them feel they know exactly where gays and lesbians are going to end up. The Vatican isn’t homophobic so much as it’s homo-hating.

Given all that, I can’t say that I’m surprised that the Vatican is suing over a photoshopped picture of Pope Benedict XVI open-mouthed kissing another man. I’m sure surprised that the Unhate Foundation and an Italian fashion company had the stones to put the picture in an ad campaign all around Italy….

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A prophet, who now goes by the name “Rael,” once encountered space aliens who told him the secret of life. Later, his followers, “the Raelians,” set up an advocacy group to expose pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church. But the group’s work was frustrated when Pope Benedict XVI (a.k.a. Joe Ratzinger) covered up the crimes of Catholic priests, in an effort to discredit the Raelians and suppress their message.

If I were writing fiction, this would be about the point where Tom Hanks holds a black light up to a window in Washington National Cathedral to reveal the precise location of Area 51. But before he can tell anybody, Al Pacino (heretofore unobtrusively sitting in a pew, drinking a glass of orange juice) makes Hanks an offer he can’t refuse.

But this isn’t fiction; this is the real world. In the real world, there is only one way to handle this kind of massive conspiracy, cover-up, and intrigue: a lawsuit.

And so it is that today, on the thirteenth of September in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, that Pope Benedict XVI finds himself sued in the High Court of Justice: Queen’s Bench Division, for tortious interference with business…

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