Casual Friday presents: Technofailure

Like many courts, Jefferson County, Kentucky thought it would save itself some money in the long-term by investing in an electronic recording system for trials and motion hearings. Who needs those pesky court reporters with their funky typewriters? You can do the same thing with a tape recorder and a microphone! And the equipment doesn’t need health insurance!

Well, apparently, the Jefferson County courts do: [Louisville Courier-Journal]

Nearly three months after defense attorneys and prosecutors held a suppression hearing in the Cecil New murder case, they had to do the whole thing all over again recently — calling in the same detective, asking her the same questions and spending more than an hour re-creating the record.

The reason?

Jefferson Circuit Court’s digital audio recording equipment failed to properly record the first hearing in Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman’s courtroom, capturing video, but no sound.

In fact, the Jefferson Audio Video System, or JAVS, has failed to record audio in several courtrooms, meaning dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of hearings have been silently recorded, with no way for attorneys, defendants or victims to review exactly what was said.

The lack of a record is being used as grounds for appeals of at least one conviction, and one judge had to declare a mistrial of a 2008 case.

As a result of the problems, McDonald-Burkman has started using a court reporter — a recording system last used on a regular basis in Jefferson County in the 1980s.

Sounds like a good idea, no? The lawyers are getting paid. The judge is getting paid. The bailiffs are getting paid. Even the jurors are getting sort of paid (kind of). Why not let a court reporter make an honest living too? Heck, even if she fell asleep, you might lose five minutes of testimony, not the whole trial.

This video is a metaphor for the plight of Paris and Jefferson County:

Social Media nabs another: D-level celebs seem love the series of tubes known as the interwebs, particularly Twitter and Facebook, for enhancing their ability to shamelessly admire how great it is to be famous for the hell of it. Need evidence? See @itsthesituation, @spencerpratt, and @kimkardashian (sample tweet: “I do love my metallic bikinis!” OMG, Kim! I do too!)

But sometimes, one can share too much. Recently Facebook has allowed members to post their locations, despite some sources showing how bad of an idea it is to let the world know you are not home. Paris Hilton’s oversharing has created a problem, but it has nothing to do with “checking in” at Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

No, Paris, it seems, was nabbed recently with .8 grams of cocaine in a Chanel purse. Despite the purse also containing Paris’s money and credit cards, she used the ubiquitous “it’s not mine” defense, disavowing ownership of the coke and the purse. The problem? Just three weeks earlier, she posted a photo of the purse on Twitter, with he description “Love my new Chanel purse I got today!

#oops. #OMG3to5yearswillgofastiswear.

[HT: Slaw.ca via Legal Blog Watch]

Great Moments In Alibi History: These guys came up with the best alibi ever before recanting. [The News-Herald].

COPS: What are you doing in this vacant house?

PERPS: We’re gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

COPS: OK, we believe you. But you’re under arrest for breaking and entering.

PERPS: But we’re not stealing anything.

COPS: Doesn’t matter.

PERPS: Really? Then we were just kidding. We’re stealing copper.

COPS: Whatever.

PERPS: No, seriously. We’re thieves. We’ll plea, no matter how much harsher the penalty.

Elsewhere: The next mass tort? Porn. [Information Week via ABA Journal]

Casual Friday says Fore? Nah!

So you’re on the fourth hole and BAM! Your playing partner duffs a shot across the fairway and implanted his Titleist into your head, causing you to lose sight in one eye. [Sorry. John Madden wrote that last sentence.] But wait? You don’t remember hearing anyone yell “Fore!” So you sue the guy who hit the ball because certainly, he had an obligation to warn you of his errant shot.

Not so, at least in New York, where the Court of Appeals has found no such duty of care exists.

The court found that the injured party assumed the being hit by a golf ball is an assumed risk of playing golf, thus had to show intent or recklessness.

Here, Kapoor’s failure to warn of his intent to strike the ball did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct, and did not unreasonably increase the risks inherent in golf to which Anand consented. Rather, the manner in which Anand was injured – – being hit without warning by a “shanked” shot while one searches for one’s own ball — reflects a commonly appreciated risk of golf ….

That’s it for us this year. See you in 2011.

Casual Friday: Getting in and getting out

As the year winds down, legal news is gets weirder and weirder. Some quick hits for the final CF of 2010:

Earlier this week, a California court said the state must give a prisoner the double portions of Kosher meals he requested in celebration of Festivus. Never mind that the prisoner was not Jewish and Festivus was invented by Frank Costanza on Seinfeld. Now THAT’s viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the movant (Yikes!) non-moving party.   [SFGate.com]

Also, a San Francisco woman is suing McDonalds over its classic Happy Meal. Her grievance? They put toys in the meal, which makes her kids want them. I recommend she try what my mom always did: Just say no. It’s ok. Little Junior will get over it. [CNN.com]

In New York, a lawyer representing a professor accused of having sex with his adult daughter is questioning the legality of laws banning incest, describing the daughter’s participation as follows:

“somehow a victim here, when she can be best described as an accomplice.”

Don’t laugh. The Michigan Supreme Court might agree.

A Duke Law professor suggested that a number of wealthy people may resort to suicide to avoid having to pay the estate taxes that go back into effect in the new year. Someone should explain to these people that they don’t actually have to pay the tax until they’re dead. [ABA Journal]

And one day, the media will realize that if you keep putting on television shows only the people who say crazy things, everyone will say crazy things. Crazy =/= interesting.

In South Dakota, a lawyer is being tried on child porn possession charges. His defense? He had the photos so that he could give legal advice, which is kinda like saying that you should be able kill somebody so you can give legal advice to your client charged with murder. [ABA Journal]

Casual [Wednesday] presents: Priorities, priorities

It can happen to any sports fan. Your team is playing in a very important game and you have something else scheduled for that day. Usually it involves your wife’s friend getting married or having this thing known as a “couples shower.”* Or worse, your third cousin’s son’s first birthday party.*

* I’ve never been but I hear they exist and are as excruciating as they sound.

The two main methods of coping are: 1) go to the event, record it and try like hell to avoid finding the score before you get home; or 2) lay your man card down and simply refuse to go. After all, you were smart enough to plan your event during the summer when nothing important happens. Why couldn’t they do the same?

Option 1 is probably the most pragmatic, but dodging score updates from other attendees is a bit like dodging landmines in the DMZ. Eventually, you’re going to step on one.

Option 2 earns you incredible amounts of respect from your friends, but quite possibly will lead to you being divorced/dumped/single again.

So, really, there’s no downside to Option 2.

But sometimes, these entanglements are work-related. Consider the case of Texas attorney Darrell Cook. He had a court hearing scheduled for today (October 27). But how was he to know that, after 38 years of futile existence, his beloved Texas Rangers would be starting the World Series that day in San Francisco and he’d have tickets?

Rather than just stip to a continuance, the city attorney wanted him to file a motion for it, so Cook did (with footnotes!), detailing the Rangers somewhat improbable ride to this point, and we all win because of it. A sample:

5. Everything between Darrell and the Rangers was business as usual this year:

a. Josh Hamilton was discovered drunk and covered in whip[sic]  cream;

b. Ron Washington was discovered to have ingested a “controlled substance” during the 2009 All-Star Break;2

c. The top two starters for the Rangers at the beginning of the season, Rich Harden and Scott Feldman, looked like they were completely unfamiliar with the tasks assigned to them and made a mockery of their roles as leaders of the pitching staff; and

d. The team declared bankruptcy and was sold via auction more befitting a used Buick than a major league baseball team.

Did I mention footnotes? Yeah, the footnotes are even better:

2 Ron Washington apparently convinced everyone that his usage of a “controlled substance” at an advanced age was his first go-arond with the highly addicting substance. Darrell finds this very dubious, but that’s how baseball go.

7 It should be pointed out that ARod a/k/a AFraud [Ed Note: former Texas Ranger] took a called third strike to end the series and secure the Pennant for the Rangers. It has no significance to this motion other than the fact that Darrell likes to point it out as much as possible.

And this excuse as to why his associate can’t attend in his stead because she’s having contractors do work at her house:

8 It should be noted here that Ms. Bryan made Darrell aware of this commitment quite some time ago, but the playoff scenario now facing Darrell seemed so remote at the time… .

The entire motion can be read here. HT: Law.com/The Texas Lawyer

Elsewhere , the lawsuit of the day: Wow, this insanely-hot hot sauce is really insanely hot. They should warn you on the label.

Maybe my kid shouldn’t eat it. Oops, too late. Maybe they should have warned me on the label. HT: Legal News Blog

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Casual Friday presents: Technofailure

Like many courts, Jefferson County, Kentucky thought it would save itself some money in the long-term by investing in an electronic recording system for trials and motion hearings. (Who needs those pesky court reporters with their funky typewriters? You can do the same thing with a tape recorder and a microphone! And the equipment doesn’t need health insurance!)

Well, apparently, the Jefferson County courts do: [Louisville Courier-Journal]

Nearly three months after defense attorneys and prosecutors held a suppression hearing in the Cecil New murder case, they had to do the whole thing all over again recently — calling in the same detective, asking her the same questions and spending more than an hour re-creating the record.

The reason?

Jefferson Circuit Court’s digital audio recording equipment failed to properly record the first hearing in Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman’s courtroom, capturing video, but no sound.

In fact, the Jefferson Audio Video System, or JAVS, has failed to record audio in several courtrooms, meaning dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of hearings have been silently recorded, with no way for attorneys, defendants or victims to review exactly what was said.

The lack of a record is being used as grounds for appeals of at least one conviction, and one judge had to declare a mistrial of a 2008 case.

As a result of the problems, McDonald-Burkman has started using a court reporter — a recording system last used on a regular basis in Jefferson County in the 1980s.

Sounds like a good idea, no? The lawyers are getting paid. The judge is getting paid. The bailiffs are getting paid. Even the jurors are getting sort of paid (kind of). Why not let a court reporter make an honest living too? Heck, even if she fell asleep, you might lose five minutes of testimony, not the whole trial.

Social Media nabs another: D-level celebs seem love the series of tubes known as the interwebs, particularly Twitter and Facebook, for enhancing their ability to shamelessly admire how great it is to be famous for the hell of it. Need evidence? See @itsthesituation, @spencerpratt, and @kimkardashian (sample tweet: “I do love my metallic bikinis!” OMG, Kim! I do too!)

But sometimes, one can share too much. Recently Facebook has allowed members to post their locations, despite some sources showing how bad of an idea it is to let the world know you are not home. Paris Hilton’s oversharing has created a problem, but it has nothing to do with “checking in” at Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

No, Paris, it seems, was nabbed recently with .8 grams of cocaine in a Chanel purse. Despite the purse also containing Paris’s money and credit cards, she used the ubiquitous “it’s not mine” defense, disavowing ownership of the coke and the purse. The problem? Just three weeks earlier, she posted a photo of the purse on Twitter, with he description “Love my new Chanel purse I got today!

#oops. #OMG3to5yearswillgofastiswear.

[HT: Slaw.ca via Legal Blog Watch]

This video is a metaphor for the plight of Paris and Jefferson County:

Great Moments In Alibi History: These guys came up with the best alibi ever before recanting. [The News-Herald].

COPS: What are you doing in this vacant house?

PERPS: We’re gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

COPS: OK, we believe you. But you’re under arrest for breaking and entering.

PERPS: But we’re not stealing anything.

COPS: Doesn’t matter.

PERPS: Really? Then we were just kidding. We’re stealing copper.

COPS: Whatever.

PERPS: No, seriously. We’re thieves. We’ll plea, no matter how much harsher the penalty.

Elsewhere: The next mass tort? Porn. [Information Week via ABA Journal]

Casual Friday presents: Technology ho!

800px-Lawyers_Club

I know Michigan Law School attracts the best and brightest, and perhaps some others.

It seems that during the admissions period, anxious applicants like to call and berate speak anonymously to admissions officials about why it takes so long to make a decision the process.

But assistant dean of admissions Sarah Zeafoss, well, I’ll let her tell you:

“I have some bad news for the recent spate of ‘anonymous’ phone callers to the Admissions Office,” Zearfoss wrote. “What with our being in the 21st century and all, we have caller ID.

“It’s sort of awkward for us when someone calls and says, ‘I don’t want to tell you who I am,’ but we’re sitting there looking at a screen that, in fact, tells us who you are. On the one hand, saying ‘too late!’ seems a little confrontational and snarky; on the other, playing along seems a little disingenuous. The solution? I’m putting it out there: we know who you are.”

[From ABA Journal]. Yes, type A law applicants (Are there any other kind?), 1990s technology has hit Michigan. We have TiVos and DVD players, and cell phones that don’t require carrying a bag around.

I’ve heard of forced overtime, but this is ridiculous. A Florida woman crashed through the gate at the prison where she worked. The sheriff found she was driving under the influence of a controlled or chemical substance. She was held in the jail at which she worked. But hey, it helped with the commute.

Iron(y) Man: Did you hear the one about the plaintiff class action law firm that was sued by a former employee for failing to pay overtime hours? [New York Times].

Casual Friday presents: Too Sexy II, Criminal Edition

The mother wins!

Remember the New York woman who said she was fired from her job for being too sexy?

In Italy, being too sexy is a crime!

A 26-year old Italian woman is being investigated for “sensuously” rubbing tanning oil on her breasts while at a topless beach. The problem started when a mother of two tweenage boys (12-14) asked “Luisa” to stop rubbing lotion on herself. When Luisa refused, the mother complained to police.

I’m sure the entire department is involved in this one. “Where are those crime scene photos?!”

The mother had every right to complain. Can you imagine the emotional scars those kids suffered from having to see Luisa rub tanning oil on herself at a topless beach? I mean, most kids have to use the internet for that when their parents aren’t home.

Luisa’s attorney is indignant about the whole thing:

“She is amazed that she is being condemned for simply sunbathing topless,” lawyer Gianluca Arrighi said.

“’Let’s be clear my client is tall, brunette and has an ample breast and is therefore going to naturally be sensuous when she applies cream to her chest.”

And let me be clear that I am short and therefore not very good at basketball.
He thinks she might have a case against the mother …
Mr Arrighi said there could be grounds for his client to sue for slander if the case is dropped as “you can’t be reported for sunbathing topless in 2010”.
Or the police, maybe? Not really sure where he’s going with that. Maybe Italy’s slander laws are different than ours.

But think about poor Luisa. What options other options did she have?

Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper waded into the argument by defending the sunbather.”Summer is the season where everything happens but it is also the time of pathological mentalities … where was she supposed to apply the cream on her clothes?” said a commentator.
No, really…

Casual Friday presents: Ohio, the Great Logic State

We hear a lot of criticisms from all sides about the Michigan Supreme Court and the justices’ alleged allegiances to certain special interests. But no matter what one may think about the Court, it could be worse: it could be the Ohio Supreme Court.

Just last week, the Ohio Supreme Court said police don’t need a radar gun to prove a driver was speeding – just the naked eyes of a trained observer.  And in case you thought it was just having a bad week, the court has outdone itself by applying a long-arm statute to a Virginia man who posted some critical statements about an Ohio company on eBay and two internet message boards. Neither the defendant nor any of the internet sites have any ties to Ohio.(To be fair, it affirmed an idiotic Court of Appeals decision, but isn’t that what Supreme Court is for? To overturn dumb decisions by lower courts?)

But the messages could be read in Ohio (and apparently were … by five people), therefore, the company could show the “publication” element in a defamation analysis. In other words, if you post something on the internet, from anywhere in the world, about someone from Ohio, Ohio has jurisdiction over you. (Michigan fans, watch what you write on message boards about Jim Tressel!)

Roberts posted his allegedly defamatory statements on the Internet, ostensibly for the entire world to see.

And according to the Ohio Supreme Court, the proper jurisdiction for defamatory internet postings is the entire world.

Thankfully, not everyone on the court is brain dead.

Today, the majority has extended the personal jurisdiction of Ohio courts to cover any individual in any state who purchases a product from an Ohio company and posts a criticism of it on the Internet with the intent to damage the seller.

The foreseeability of causing injury to an Ohio company, whether the injury is intended or not, without directing activity at forum residents, is not sufficient to establish minimum contacts.

Subjecting all individuals to suit in Ohio who post Internet reviews — no matter how scathing — of purchases made from Ohio companies does not comport with the due process notions of “fair play and substantial justice.”

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Casual Friday presents: Driving through Ohio? Good luck!

[A very brief version this time around.]

The gun just makes him look cool.

As if a road trip through Ohio didn’t have Michigan drivers paranoid enough, there’s this from Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News:

In a 5-1 ruling, the court said “a police officer’s unaided visual estimation of a vehicle’s speed is sufficient” as long as the officer is sufficiently trained and experienced in estimating speeds.

The ruling came about after an officer on radar duty stopped a motorist near Akron about two years ago for ripping along at 81 in a 60 mph zone.

The judge dismissed the citation when the officer couldn’t produce his radar certification, but did allow the experienced officer to estimate the driver’s speed at 79 mph.

The driver lost and then appealed to the Supreme Court where he lost again.

OK, first thing: Who on earth would appeal a speeding ticket to the Supreme Court?

And two: If you plan on attending this year’s Michigan-Ohio State game in Columbus, you may want to just rent a car in Toledo. No matter what it costs, it will be less than fighting an “estimated” speed assessment. It’s bad enough that I think the Ohio Highway Patrol gets their radar guns from the same place as Comerica Park (definitely a ‘hot gun.’) But now they don’t even need the evidence.

Casual Friday presents: Too Sexy For This Job

[Just so you know, I cringed as much as you did I wrote the horrible headline.]

The Michigan media is typically aghast and agog over the Hooters waitress(es) who were allegedly fired for, eh, not properly filling out their size S tops and hot pants. And really, why shouldn’t it be?

[My favorite quotes from all of the above links comes from Brian Dickerson’s Freep column:

To prove his point, Smith has cleverly brought to the Roseville Hooters one Ericka Whitaker, an Atlanta Hooters girl and former Radio City Music Hall Rockette whose height and weight are virtually identical to those of plaintiff Smith.

"It's not what you weigh, it's how you carry it," explains Whitaker...

I am fluent in Hooters. She means “in her bra.” And there’s this reminder:

Another buff exemplar of the Hooters je ne sais quoi, Brittany Richter of Roseville, follows Whitaker to the podium and underlines the point that Hooters girls are more than the sum of their stingily clad parts. "Wearing the orange shorts," she reminds us "comes with many responsibilities."

Apparently, these responsibilities include “Don’t eat the food at work.”]

But perhaps we’re backwards here. In New York, they fire people for being too sexy. [NY Daily News]

image

A Latina lovely says her bosses at Citigroup canned her for flaunting her ample assets at a midtown bank.

Dangerously curvy Debrahlee Lorenzana contends her ex-bosses at Citibank in the Chrysler Building banned her from wearing sexy outfits or heels deemed "too distracting" for male coworkers.

"I can’t help it that I have curves," Lorenzana told the Daily News.

"And I’m not going to go eat and gain 50 or 100 pounds because my job wants me to be the same size as everyone else."

Well, Debrahlee, have I got a job opportunity for you!

To show just how sexy she is, she posed for a NY Daily News photo gallery, complete with wardrobe changes. The power and force of her sexiness was so powerful, Citigroup felt it needed to do something to contain it.

The 33-year-old Queens woman filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court, claiming she was ordered to lay off turtlenecks, pencil skirts and fitted suits because clingy clothes were drawing too much attention in the workplace.

Citigroup, have you no decency?!

But I know what you’re thinking: She’s sexy, for sure (just ask her):

"I get harassed in the supermarket with my son just wearing sweatpants with my hair in a ponytail," she said. "I can’t help how I look."

But is she Hooters-worthy?

Lorenzana, who is 5-feet-6 and 125 pounds…

I guess that depends on “how she carries it.”

Elsewhere, in Utah, a woman is suing Google because her Google Maps directions included a half-mile walk down Deer Valley Drive (a Utah state road), and… let’s just say she took the directions literally and was hit walking down the highway.

Sarah Jacobsson of PC World fabulously deconstructs the case. I join in her opinion. Check it out.