The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments t...

Time to scratch off that Fourth one?

The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and one of his law clerks have penned a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment. It’s been murdered, Judge Kozinski and Stephanie Grace write in an editorial for The Daily, and you all are the guilty culprits.

You’ve put a knife in it, by letting supermarkets track your shopping in exchange for loyalty discounts, letting Amazon and eBay store your credit card info, and letting Google track the websites you visit and take photos of your homes with satellites.

The problem, at least constitutionally speaking, is that the Fourth Amendment protects only what we reasonably expect to keep private. One facet of this rule, known as the third party doctrine, is that we don’t have reasonable expectations of privacy in things we’ve already revealed to other people or the public…

With so little left private, the Fourth Amendment is all but obsolete. Where police officers once needed a warrant to search your bookshelf for “Atlas Shrugged,” they can now simply ask if you bought it. Where police needed probable cause before seizing your day planner, they can now piece together your whereabouts from your purchases, cellphone data and car’s GPS. Someday soon we’ll realize that we’ve lost everything we once cherished as private.

via Remember what the Fourth Amendment protects? No? Just as well. | United States |

The lamentation for the loss of privacy has special resonance coming from these two, because it’s by one of the top federal judges in the country and that Stephanie Grace.

Read on at….

Did you know that giving your computer to charity can run afoul of your ethical requirements as an attorney? Did you know you had an ethical duty to be technologically competent enough to handle all of the technological aspects of a basic discovery request?

These are the kinds of questions we’ll be answering at the Legal Technology Leadership Summit. You can sign up to attend the conference here. One of the panels will feature a dedicated discussion of ethics when it comes to electronic discovery and social media.

The panel will explore these specific situations:

  • A lawyer “friends” an opposing party or a witness in a pending trial.
  • A judge “friends” a lawyer.
  • Lawyers fail to consolidate duplicate electronic records and perform unneeded reviews of duplicate records.
  • Lawyers place client data on unsecured drives.
  • A lawyer’s PC has unencrypted client data and is stolen at a restaurant or in an airport.

Here’s the agenda for the full conference.

Let your clients be the ones who can’t handle Facebook ethically. Join us from September 6 – 8 and learn how to avoid the ethical pitfalls of the modern age.

For attorneys, missing deadlines is a big no-no. BIG no-no. A Goodyear blimp-sized no-no. People have literally died because of blown deadlines. Cases worth millions of dollars get tossed out because of missed deadlines, even if someone has a decent excuse.

That being so, I do not envy the lawyer who had to tell his client that the 4th Circuit shut down their lawsuit because he didn’t know how to use his Microsoft calendar.

More about the difference between “excusable neglect” and this run-of-the-mill bonehead mistakes after the jump…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How to Lose a Case With Simple Computer Cluelessness”

Exciting developments continue to unfold as we prepare for the Legal Technology Leadership Summit, presented by Above the Law in partnership with the Electronic Discovery Institute (EDI) and the American Society of Digital Forensics and eDiscovery (ASDFED). Today we are pleased to announce the speakers who will present the keynote address, which will kick off an informative two-day agenda featuring over 50 leading in-house legal experts:

Dickie Scruggs was at one time a preeminent plaintiffs tort lawyer, with major wins in tobacco, asbestos and insurance litigation. His reign ended with his conviction for the attempted bribery of a Lafayette County Mississippi Circuit Court Judge. Former U.S. Attorney Tom Dawson was heavily involved in the Scruggs investigation and prosecution. He and political blogger Alan Lange of detailed Scruggs’ dealings in their recent book, Kings of Tort.

In their keynote address, Dawson and Lange will provide an inside look at Scruggs’ modus operandi – complicity in the theft of corporate information (paper and electronic) by a company’s employees who are later paid consulting fees; providing those records to state attorneys general for their potential use in civil and criminal proceedings; striking contingent-fee arrangements with government agencies; the well-orchestrated political and public relations campaigns that accompanied the litigation; and the funneling of political contributions to state officials.

The authors will also provide an inside view of the eight-month undercover investigation and four months of litigation that followed resulting in the conviction and prison sentences of Scruggs, and four other defendants, three of whom were also tort lawyers, including Scruggs’s son and a former State Auditor.

This will certainly be a keynote address to remember. We hope to see you at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida, on September 6 through 8. You can attend the Legal Technology Leadership Summit by registering here.

Earlier: For Legal Technology, Above the Law Needs An Entire Summit

Maybe I’m just naive, but I find the concept of conducting any courtroom business via video enthralling but also a bit unnerving. It seems so inconsistent with the mythical and timeless ideals of the hallowed halls of justice, yadda yadda yadda.

Whether we like it or not, however, video conferencing is creeping into courthouses across the country. For example, as I previously reported, a Georgia court let a criminal witness testify via Skype.

Last week a government survey revealed that Pennsylvania state courts conduct more than 15,000 video conferences each month. More than half were preliminary arraignments, but the state used videoconferencing for warrant proceedings, bail hearings and sentencing hearings, too.

According to the survey, not only does video conferencing save the state a boatload of money, it also saves magistrate judges from having to personally interact with the pesky “derelicts” charged with crimes.

Keep reading to find out how virtual arraignment conserves dollars and judicial peace of mind….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Video Arraignments Save Money and Make Judges Feel Safer”

Allegations of criminal conduct can be made against attorneys from all walks of life. An innocent-looking solo practitioner in Illinois can be accused of prostitution. A partner in a well-regarded Minnesota law firm, the incoming president of the state bar association, can be accused of molesting a child (and convicted of criminal sexual conduct, after pleading guilty).

Such seamy accusations aren’t limited to the heartland; we also see them here in New York, at elite law firms. As we mentioned last night, Moshe Gerstein — a 35-year-old corporate associate in the New York office of Gibson Dunn, who also once worked at Skadden — has been charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office with child pornography possession. And we’re not talking about garden-variety kiddie porn, but images of a particularly disturbing nature.

Let’s learn more about the charges against this young lawyer, have a look at Moshe’s mug, and hear from some tipsters who know him — including a former colleague….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Gibson Dunn Associate Hit With Child Porn Charges”

The normally tepid e-discovery world felt a little extra heat of competition yesterday. Recommind, one of the larger e-discovery vendors, announced Wednesday that it was issued a patent on predictive coding (which Gabe Acevedo, writing in these pages, named the Big Legal Technology Buzzword of 2011).

In a nutshell, predictive coding is a relatively new technology that allows large chunks of document review to be automated, a.k.a. done mostly by computers, with less need for human management.

Some of Recommind’s competitors were not happy about the news. See how they responded (grumpily), and check out what Recommind’s General Counsel had to say about what this means for everyone who uses e-discovery products….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Predictive Coding Patented, E-Discovery World Gets Jealous”

Preparations continue for the Legal Technology Leadership Summit, presented by Above the Law in partnership with the Electronic Discovery Institute (EDI) and the American Society of Digital Forensics and eDiscovery (ASDFED). We are pleased to announce three new sponsors:

And two new speakers, who will be joining us at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida, on September 6 through 8:

You can attend this event by registering here. CLE will be offered (details to follow), and there will be a special rate for groups. We hope to see you there.

Legal Technology Leadership Summit

Earlier: For Legal Technology, Above the Law Needs An Entire Summit

Sorry, we can’t help you with registering for the New York Bar Exam.

Yeah, for those who haven’t been paying attention to some of my prior coverage, the New York Board of Law Examiners occasionally has problems. Today they’ve got a big one. People were supposed to be able to figure out where they’d be taking the bar exam this summer, but things have not gone smoothly. A tipster reports:

the email with a link to the sign up for NY Bar locations for out-of-state test takers went out today at 2:36. The site crashed at 2:41. I think that the Bar Association could at least pretend to give a s*** and make an effort to make sure their equipment works.

Service has been spotty to non-existent since then. That’s okay, out-of-state test takers. I hear Albany is lovely in the middle of the summer. (/Sarcasm off.)

We can’t make registering for the bar any faster, but perhaps we can make studying for the bar a lot faster for everybody taking BAR/BRI this year…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When Did The Bar Exam Become The Kobayashi Maru?”

This news is more than a little scary.

Google announced yesterday that hackers in China had gotten access to hundreds of Gmail accounts. And it wasn’t just anyone’s email. The attack targeted senior government officials in the United States, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries, military personnel, and journalists.

I have a feeling we will hear a lot more about this over the next few days. For the moment, let’s take a look at the details we know so far….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chinese Hackers Hijack Hundreds of Gmail Accounts”

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