Sunday, April 30, 2006

Best way to fight rights violation suits

The U.S. government is using the secrets defense to have suits dismissed:
SAN FRANCISCO, April 29 - The U.S. government has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by a San Francisco civil liberties group against AT&T because it says the case could reveal military and state secrets.

The class-action suit by the group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on behalf of AT&T customers accuses the company of unlawful collaboration with the National Security Agency in its surveillance program to intercept telephone and e-mail communications between the United States and people linked to al Qaeda and affiliated organizations.

President George W. Bush authorized the intercepts following the September 11 attacks without court approval.

In a "Statement of Interest" filed on Friday, the government asked U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to throw out the suit, saying the government "cannot disclose any information that may be at issue in this case."

"The government intends to assert the military and state secrets privilege (that) permits the government to protect against the unauthorized disclosure in litigation of information that may harm national security interests," it said.

"In addition to asserting the state secrets privilege, the U.S. also intends to file a motion to intervene for the purpose of seeking dismissal of this case," the filing said.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Microsoft's European Appeal

For those interested in European law involving Microsoft.

From the NY Times:
LUXEMBOURG, April 27 — Lawyers for the European Commission and Microsoft faced tough questioning on Thursday about the 2004 antitrust ruling against the company.

During cross-examination by 13 judges of the European Court of First Instance who are hearing Microsoft's appeal of the ruling, the sharpest questions were reserved for the commission. Judge John Cooke, who will write the decision in the case, appeared to chastise commission lawyers for not taking the company's concerns about protecting its intellectual property seriously.

Under the 2004 ruling, Microsoft was ordered to disclose technical details to rival makers of software for computer servers to allow them to develop programs that work as smoothly with the Windows operating system as Microsoft's own software does. The company contends this order breaches its intellectual property rights, while the commission argues that Microsoft is seeking to preserve trade secrets that fall short of legal protection.

On Wednesday, Anthony Whelan, the commission's top lawyer handling the software development part of the case, argued that patent and copyright claims must be scrutinized by independent bodies before they were granted protection, whereas trade secrets did not. Yet the bulk of Microsoft's intellectual property argument revolves around the trade secrets in Windows that the commission wants the company to reveal.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Dangers of The Defendant Testifying

From the Associated Press:

HOUSTON - In a highly tense cross-examination, Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay admitted he tried to contact potential witnesses during his fraud trial — including one who wound up testifying against him.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Merck guilty again

Form news accounts:
RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas (AP) - A state jury found Merck & Co. liable Friday for the death of a 71-year-old man who had a fatal heart attack within a month of taking its since-withdrawn painkiller Vio and ordered the company to pay $32 million. Merck said it would appeal.

The damage award will likely be reduced because of a state law capping punitive damages.

The jury of 10 men and two women deliberated for about seven hours over two days before returning the verdict in favor of the family of Leonel Garza, who had suffered from heart disease for more than 20 years and had taken Vio for less than a month.

The company was ordered to pay $7 million in noneconomic compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.

But the punitive damage amount is likely to be reduced because state law caps punitive damages at twice the amount of economic damages -- lost pay -- and up to $750,000 on top of noneconomic damages, which are composed of mental anguish and loss of companionship.
Sponsored in part by Vioxx Lawyers.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Free Speech v. Hate Message

From the LA Times:
Court Lets Schools Ban Inflammatory T-Shirts

Schools in the Western United States can forbid a high school student to wear a T-shirt with a slogan that denigrates gay and lesbian students, a sharply divided federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Thursday.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that a T-shirt that proclaimed "Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned" on the front and "Homosexuality is shameful" on the back was "injurious to gay and lesbian students and interfered with their right to learn." Wearing such a T-shirt can be barred on a public high school campus without violating the 1st Amendment, the court said.
How would you rule?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Court opinion: JAMES HERREMA vs. MEIJER, INC.

Here is an interesting case involving a brain injury:





Plaintiff, Case No. 05-12359-NO




We were tipped to this case by our Pennsylvania brain injury lawyer friends.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Constitutional question

For constituional lawyers, read this article on the case for Senate hearings on the impeachment of President George W. Bush.

Raising the worse-than-Watergate question and demanding unequivocally that Congress seek to answer it is, in fact, overdue and more than justified by ample evidence stacked up from Baghdad back to New Orleans and, of increasing relevance, inside a special prosecutor's office in downtown Washington.

In terms of imminent, meaningful action by the Congress, however, the question of whether the president should be impeached (or, less severely, censured) remains premature. More important, it is essential that the Senate vote—hopefully before the November elections, and with overwhelming support from both parties—to undertake a full investigation of the conduct of the presidency of George W. Bush, along the lines of the Senate Watergate Committee's investigation during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Interested in an internship at the U.S. Supreme Court?

Here's a link to their online application.

Monday, April 17, 2006

High court to consider retaliation claims

From a report by the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON - U.S. businesses are confronting a new dilemma: how to maintain control in the workplace after an employee complains of sex or race discrimination without drawing a more damning charge of retaliation.

Retaliation claims have risen dramatically, and the Supreme Court considers Monday what legal standard should be used to evaluate the seriousness of changes in employment made by supervisors who may be angry over an employee’s discrimination complaint.

A decision by the court could affect the balance of power in government and private workplaces nationwide.
The case is Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway v. White, 05-259.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Google Receives Voice Search Patent

Something worth watching for all patent attorneys (and wannabes like some of us) is the news that Google has been granted a patent for voice search.

Exactly what this means for the future of Internet searches and subsequent software development in that area remains unclear.

Perhaps it is a step in the direction of search engines being able to spider videos like this one on Choosing A Rehab Center or this one on TBI: What Families Need to Know, offered by

Of course, no one can know exactly where the field of patent law will go in the future, but for a law student with a keen interest in the Internet, this is a promising area to consider.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

BIANJ Sets Annual Seminar

The Brain Injury Association of New Jersey is conducting its 24th Annual Seminar May 17-18 at the Sheraton Eatontown Hotel and Conference Center.

Two workshops are planned covering legal issues:

TBI: New Jersey Law and Insurance Working for You
Wednesday, May 17, 2:45 pm - 4:00 pm
As intimidating as New Jersey law and insurance may be to some, this workshop will empower the audience to easily understand New Jersey law and insurance and apply what they learn in the seminar to best benefit themselves.
The Pros and Cons of Special Needs Trusts
Thursday, May 18, 10:45 am - 12:00 pm
This workshop will outline the essential facts to consider when making financial decisions that may affect finances for years to come for an individual with a disability.
Contact the BIANJ for more information: 732-738-1002;