Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Supreme Court Restricts Rights

In a ruling on Tuesday, May 30, the Supreme Court said public employees do not have 1st Amendment rights protecting them from speaking out to their managers about possible wrongdoing.

From the LA Times:
Although government employees have the same rights as other citizens to speak out on controversies of the day, they do not have the right to speak freely inside their offices on matters related to "their official duties," the high court said in a 5-4 decision.

"When a citizen enters government service, the citizen by necessity must accept certain limitations on his or her freedom," said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, rejecting a lawsuit brought by a Los Angeles County prosecutor.

Lawyers for government whistle-blowers denounced the ruling as a major setback. They said it could threaten public health and safety. Public sector hospital workers who know of dangers may be discouraged from revealing them, while police and public employees may be dissuaded from exposing corruption, they said.

"In an era of excessive government secrecy, the court has made it easier to engage in a government coverup by discouraging internal whistle-blowing," said Steven Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A warning

Consider this article about a disbarred lawyer accused of defrauding clients out of settlement money a warning to all who even think about going over to the dark side.

In the meantime, if you are looking for what a competent, ethical asbestos lawyer should be, check out

Monday, May 22, 2006

Should U.S. Prosecute Media?

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Sunday that his office is considering prosecuting The New York Times for breaking the story about the government's secret domestic spying program."

From Reuters:
There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Gonzales said told ABC's "This Week," when asked if the government could prosecute journalists for publishing classified information.

"I will say that I understand very much the role that the press plays in our society, the protection under the First Amendment we want to promote and respect, the right of the press. But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," he said.
Should one right "trump" another, or can they co-exist?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Law Firm Charged with Fraud

From Reuters:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP, the most prominent class-action securities law firm, was indicted on Thursday by a federal grand jury on fraud, conspiracy and other charges related to an alleged kickback scheme.

A Los Angeles grand jury issued a 20-count indictment against the firm and partners David Bershad and Steven Schulman. Prosecutors accused them of making illegal payments over a 20-year period to clients who agreed to act as plaintiffs.

Milberg Weiss said it would vigorously defend itself against the charges, which analysts said could make it difficult to keep its clients and its attorneys.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Execution Stayed by Governor

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen "reluctantly" ordered a 15-day stay of execution so DNA tests could be considered.


What's interesting is that the stay was not issued for the test to be conducted, only for the court to determine is the tests are warranted.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A boon for trial lawyers?

Will the recent worldwide recall of Bausch contact lens solution be a boon for trial lawyers?

From Reuters:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Bausch & Lomb Inc. on Monday said it has extended a recall of its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution to all markets worldwide, saying the product may increase the risk of acquiring a rare but potentially blinding eye infection.

The company concluded "some aspect of the MoistureLoc formula may be increasing the relative risk of Fusarium infection in unusual circumstances," Bausch Chief Executive Ronald Zarrella said in a statement Monday.

Company officials initially thought the infection may have been linked to a potential contamination at its plant in Greenville, South Carolina.

After an extensive investigation, "there is no evidence of product contamination, tampering, counterfeiting or sterility failure," Zarrella said.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Campaign Reform

Those of you interested in a political career should take not of this new campaign for political reform.

It matters not where you stand politically; this is an idea that deserves serious consideration.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Brain Injury CLE Seminar

The Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania is presenting a continuing legal education seminar entitled "Understanding the Medical and Legal Aspects of Brain Injury Litigation."

The all-day seminar is set for June 26 at the Wyndham Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel in Harrisburg, PA.

Chairing the even is attorney Stewart L. Cohen, Esq., of the firm, Cohen, Placitella & Roth. Cohen is also president of the BIAPA.

The Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board is offering 6.5 credits for the legal seminar.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

'Blackness' Matters

From Reuters:
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The more "black looking" an African-American man charged with murdering a white victim, the more likely he is to be sentenced to death, a Stanford University researcher said on Tuesday.

Using scores given by white and Asian-American Stanford undergraduates to rate facial features of 44 black men tried for murder in Philadelphia over 20 years, researchers found that 57.5 percent rated to have "stereotypically" black features such as dark skin were sentenced to death.

By contrast, 24.4 percent of black men in similar murder cases and rated by the students as less stereotypically black were sentenced to death, said Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford psychologist involved in the research.
Sounds like appeals arguments, eh.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Apple Computer win over Beatles

From Reuters:
LONDON (Reuters) - Apple Computer won its courtroom battle against the Beatles on Monday when a judge ruled the company's iTunes Music Store did not infringe on the trademark of Apple Corps, which represents the band's interests.

In a trial which included the playing of disco hit "Le Freak" in London's High Court, Apple Corps argued the computer company had violated a 1991 trademark agreement by moving into the music business.

Apple Computer, which has sold millions of iPods and more than a billion song downloads, held that iTunes was primarily a data transmission service and permitted by the agreement.

The Beatles are high-profile holdouts from Internet music services like iTunes, but it emerged during the trial that Apple Corps is preparing the band's catalog to be sold online for the first time, according to a submission by Neil Aspinall, managing director of Apple Corps and a former Beatles road manager.

"We are glad to put this disagreement behind us," Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said. "We have always loved the Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store."
Rest of article

Friday, May 05, 2006

Breyer Calls High Court 'Boundary Patrol'

NEW YORK - The job of a justice on the nation's highest court is to patrol the boundaries of American society, not to decide what kind of society it should have, Supreme Court Justice
Stephen Breyer said Tuesday.

People are suspicious of what the court does and think it intrudes into what they do, Breyer said.

"Democracy has boundaries, or rails," he said during a luncheon at New York Law School. "We are the boundary patrol."

The 68-year-old justice noted that the word democracy is not found in the Constitution. But the concept, he said, is there.

"When you understand this document has democracy as its heart, then you have an approach to answer specific questions," Breyer said.
Do you agree? What do you think is the main function of the Supreme Court ?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Feds do not prove case

Zacarias Moussaoui received a life sentence for his alleged role in 9/11.

Prosecuters argued for the death penalty.

What do you think they did wrong?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Trouble not over for Blackberry

Consumer Affairs:
Research In Motion, the company that makes the Blackberry hand-held communication device, is the defendant in yet another lawsuit claiming its popular product infringes on someone else's patent.

RIM paid millions of dollars to settle a similar claim two months ago.

In the latest case, California-based Visto filed a lawsuit against RIM, charging the company illegally used four of its patents. Visto said it would seek an injunction to force RIM to stop using its technology and to pay monetary damages.

RIM denied the claims in a brief statement "RIM believes it does not infringe Visto's patents and will file its legal response in due course," it said.

Visto has already successfully sued another company it said was using its mobile email technology without permission. It sued Seven, Inc., in Texas.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Legal ramifications?

What would be the legal ramifications if the American people followed the advice of this editorial?

From King George of 1776 to King George of 2006, It's Time Declare Our Independence from Monarchal Rule

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bush and the Constitution

For students of constituional law:
Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.