Pornography

* When it comes to medical marijuana prosecutions, the government is supposed to have “bigger fish to fry,” but it looks like even the Department of Justice couldn’t resist reeling in one last big catch. [New York Times]

* According to the results of this study, if you want to do well in law school, you should probably stop being so damn awkward, scale back your antisocial habits, and consider joining a study group. [National Law Journal]

* “[U]nder American law, anyone interesting is a felon.” This Columbia Law professor argues that the legal system failed Aaron Swartz because he was treated like a criminal instead of a deviant genius. [New Yorker]

* Porn stars in Los Angeles are challenging the constitutionality of being forced to wear condoms during filming — because the transfer of STDs is “constitutionally protected expression.” [Courthouse News Service]

* So, it looks like Lindsay Lohan fired her best gal pal in the world: her lawyer. But sometimes you have to fire people when you allegedly owe them oodles of money to the tune of $300K and you don’t have any. [Daily Mail]

It’s the last day of December, so it’s a good time to look back on the year that was. We’ll do what we’ve done for the past three years (wrap-up posts from 2009, 2010, and 2011 can be found here, here, and here) and identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2012, based on traffic (as represented by pageviews).

By the way, for the third year in a row, the most popular category page on Above the Law was Law Schools. People have now been intensely focused on the declining value proposition of going to law school for as long as it takes to earn a Juris Doctor degree. Isn’t it time that we graduate from the current educational model?

The second and third most-popular categories on ATL in 2012 were Biglaw and Bonuses. Although this year brought us the largest law firm failure ever, nearly all other firms indiscriminately doled out offers to summer associates, and bonus season looked better for the first time in years. While the legal profession is still in transition, things are certainly looking up, and through the highs and the lows, we’ve been there to cover it all.

So what were the ten most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2012? Let’s find out….

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Back in July, we brought our readers a story about an Illinois judge who had allegedly been using his courthouse computer to view hardcore pornography while in chambers. Most would’ve lodged an objection to the judge’s alleged behavior, because after all, he could’ve waited until he got home to sate his supposed desire for untoward viewing pleasures, just like everyone else.

After the inception of a judicial ethics inquiry, some of the porn sites the judge visited were revealed by a Chicago-area newspaper (and based on his pervy predilections, it seems the good jurist is a chubby chaser). But alas, the only thing the judge is chasing now are his hopes of keeping himself on the bench.

Late last week, the alleged porn procurer found himself before the Illinois Courts Commission (ICC) to defend his honor and his livelihood. During the hearing, the judge confessed to many of his sins, and revealed the reason why he couldn’t wait until he was within the comforts of his own home to visit his favorite XXX sites….

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Shakira, Shakira!

* When it comes to the art of law firm valuation, you may be surprised when you find out which Biglaw firm is worth the most. Here are a few hints: it’s not Baker & McKenzie, and it’s not DLA Piper or Skadden, either. [American Lawyer]

* Remember back in July when this Judge of the Day was busy clicking on hardcore porn sites while in chambers? As it turns out, now he’s busy crying in court while battling to keep his judicial career intact. [Chicago Sun-Times]

* Evening students are capable of doing more than ruining your class rank. Jacob Lew, once a night student at Georgetown Law, is now the White House chief of staff assisting with fiscal cliff negotiations. [New York Times]

* For now, the only thing that’s keeping Florida from gaining another law school is a lack of square footage in the real estate rodeo. But that’s probably a good thing, because adding a twelfth law school would be more than a little ridiculous. [Daytona Beach News-Journal]

* Samsung’s trying to get out of paying $1.05B to Apple, and their lawyers are trying to pin knowledge of the jury foreman’s misrepresentations on their technological nemesis to get the verdict thrown out. [Bloomberg]

* Shakira’s hips don’t lie, but her contracts allegedly do. The sexy singer’s ex-business partner (who’s also her ex-boyfriend) is suing her for $100M to “recover his share of past and future partnership profits.” [Billboard]

Thanks to spyware, an FBI dad got a gift-wrapped child porn case.

Like any dad, Joseph Auther was worried about what his son might get up to while exploring the wilds of the World Wide Web. So when his 7th grade son got a school-provided laptop from Whispering Palms School in Saipan in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, Auther decided to install a monitoring program on it. He went with a spyware program called eBlaster from SpectorSoft, a company based in Vero Beach, Florida. Unbeknownst to his son, the program captured his website visits, his keystrokes, and every email, chat, and instant message he sent and received. This was all delivered up to his dad in emails, while giving the monitored person no hint that it was doing so.

Auther has a special appreciation for the benefits of surveillance. He’s an FBI special agent. In April, he discovered he was being transferred to the FBI office in Denver. At the end of the school year, Auther let Whispering Palms principal Thomas Weindl know that his family was moving and that they would be returning the school’s laptop. Weindl, 67, was actually a friend of the Auther family; when he got married earlier that year, Auther’s wife gave a reading at the ceremony. Auther told Weindl that he would return the laptop after he removed all of his son’s files, programs, and games.

Auther first took the laptop to his FBI office and asked his colleagues how to wipe it clean. Apparently they don’t have many cyber experts in the Mariana Islands, because they were unsuccessful. So Auther had to instead take it to a computer repair shop, which cleaned out the old files and allegedly re-imaged the hard drive to return it to its original settings. Auther didn’t tell the shop about eBlaster being on the computer — perhaps feeling a little Big Parent shame — but assumed that it would be wiped along with everything else. He then returned the computer to Weindl….

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I’ve committed what is perhaps considered one of the cardinal sins of womanhood since 2011: I haven’t read a single page of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (affiliate link). But with all of the fanfare over the books’ overtly sexual themes, and given the fact that people are now naming their children after the BDSM-loving characters, I’m thinking about picking up a copy of the first in the series. Or, you know, maybe instead of doing all that reading, I’ll just kick back and watch the latest Fifty Shades of Porn flick.

“I’m completely shocked that there’s Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired porn,” said no one ever. Oh, come on, everyone knew that something like this was going to happen. Seriously, from the passages that were read to me by friends to convince me to read the scintillating tale, the series is essentially a softcore porn composition — “mommy porn,” if you will. So who really gives a damn if it gets turned into hardcore porn?

Universal Studios, that’s who, because the company owns the movie rights to the books. The motion picture empire brought a copyright infringement suit against Smash Pictures, a porn production company, earlier this week in federal court. Let’s check out the allegations, which our readers are bound to enjoy….

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It’s a tale as old as time, and perhaps — if you were desperate enough — you’ve even experienced it yourself.

A young man wanders the streets of New York City, with dreams of some day becoming a star. He waits tables and does various odd jobs to pay the bills, all the while yearning for his chance in the limelight. He lands a few soap opera and commercial roles, but in the grand scheme of things, he isn’t very successful in his theatrical endeavors. He can’t land any good parts, and in the end, he’s forced to make a decision: will he put his manhood to the test and turn to acting in adult films, or will he go to law school?

Yup. Porn or law school. Thankfully, the legal profession is such that you can do both. Or, at least it was in the 1970s. The wannabe film star that we’re referencing decided to do both, but at least he had the good sense to tend to his porn career first, and then head off to law school. And in the end, he had a very successful practice — both in terms of showing his “O” face to the world, and climbing the ladder of legal stardom to the ranks of county district attorney in upstate New York.

But until recently, his adoring public was unaware that DA also stood for Dick Adjudicator….

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Does anyone remember Hunter Moore, creator of IsAnyoneUp and the most hated man on the internet for a good swath of last year? His site, before he took it down in April, encouraged young people to submit naked photos of themselves or their friends. The photos were posted publicly along with screengrabs of Facebook pages and real names.

At least one copycat site has popped up: the extremely NSFW IsAnybodyDown.com. In some ways the site feels even more nefarious than its predecessor because of its semi-official takedown policy. The site links to a “Takedown Lawyer” who promises to get any photos removed from the site for somewhere between $200 and $300.

It so happens that this lawyer is a friend of the site’s owner and publicly admits to using a pseudonym to offer his services. Something seems suspicious here….

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Attorney John Steele is currently suing approximately 20,000 Internet users.

The rather long list of “People Most Hated By The Internet” — that guy who sued The Oatmeal, RIAA, Hunter Moore, Julia Allison, Violentacrez… — would be incomplete were it not to include John Steele. Steele is a lawyer who has partnered with the pornography industry to go after “pirates” who download their XXX films without paying for them. He has filed over 350 of these suits, and says he is currently suing approximately 20,000 people.

The tactic is similar to the one employed by the recording industry years ago to sue people who were amassing huge music libraries through peer-to-peer sharing rather than buying CDs. But where RIAA wanted to scare people out of illegal downloads by getting massive, scary judgments in highly publicized cases against individual Napster users, Steele and the lawyers like him are content to get relatively small settlements from individuals who pay up quietly to avoid being linked by name in public court filings for allegedly watching a film such as Illegal A** 2….

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I don’t want to devote another post to child sex scandals. And yet.

The website Vice ran an interview with a psychiatrist from Johns Hopkins University shortly after the Jerry Sandusky sentence was handed down. In the interview, Fred Berlin argued that one problem we have as a society was that we only attempt to address pedophilic urges through the criminal justice system. Y’see, Berlin thinks that pedophilia needs to be recognized as a public health issue. That it’s a sexual orientation like any other, except that it can’t be acted out. And by recognizing it as such and treating those who are held captive to its urges, we save more kids than we can in our current draconian posture. An ounce of prevention and all that.

That’s one way to go at this thing. Another way is the way we’re stuck with as a sort of modern day ordeal by water that has everyone suspected of being a pedophile. The head football coach of Minnesota State appears to have sank like a stone. I guess he may not be a pedophile after all.

It’s a shame, really.

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