Man Sentenced to Yoga

First there was house arrest. Now there’s yoga.

A judge ordered a man convicted Wednesday of slapping his wife to take a yoga class as part of his one-year probation.

Details here from the Houston Chronicle.


Jury: Airline Not Liable for Racist Rhyme

Southwest Airlines is not liable for a flight attendant who upset two black passengers by using a version of a rhyme with a racist history, a jury determined Wednesday.

The two passengers, sisters Louise Sawyer and Grace Fuller, were heading home from a Las Vegas vacation nearly three years ago when flight attendant Jennifer Cundiff, trying to get passengers to sit down, said over the intercom, “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.”

The sisters say the rhyme was directed at them and was a reference to a racist version that dates to before the civil rights era: “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; catch a n—– by his toe.”

The sisters filed a federal lawsuit against the airline claiming they were discriminated against and suffered physical and emotional distress.

I’m sorry if the plaintiffs were offended, but I always felt this case had no merit because the flight attendant was unaware of the rhyme’s racist past, and the airline was unaware of its use entirely. At worst, it was an unfortunate, innocent mistake. It looks like the jury agreed, as reported here by the AP.


Roger Rabbit Rumble Revived

Who sucker-punched Mickey Mouse? Roger Rabbit, that’s who.

Well, actually it was Roger’s creator, Gary Wolf, whose 1981 book “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” became a huge hit seven years later as Walt Disney Pictures & Television’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

Wolf nailed the Mouse on Wednesday, when Los Angeles’ 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that he might be entitled to royalties on several promotional agreements that Disney signed for the movie, which grossed nearly $350 million worldwide.

Details here from California’s The Recorder.


U.S. Department of Homeland Security Gives Federal Judge Pause

A federal judge expressed “serious” doubts last week about the way the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is using an administrative rule, written to combat terrorism, against sex offenders.

The rule is “wooden,” it produces cases that are based on “quicksand” and it “may be an abuse” of civil rights, U.S. District Judge Faith Hochberg suggested to the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the bench.

The rule has come up in at least six cases in New Jersey and dozens more around the nation, according to attorneys on both sides. The suits charge that programs implemented to guard national security are being used on everyday criminals.

Details here from the New Jersey Law Journal.


82 Year Old Judge to Hear Scott Peterson Case

A retired judge whose long experience with high-profile cases dates back to the sensational 1970s trial of black militant Angela Davis was picked Wednesday to preside at the murder trial of Scott Peterson.

Retired Contra Costa County Judge Richard Arnason, 82, was chosen a day after Judge Al Girolami decided to move the trial to the San Francisco Bay area because of hostility toward Peterson in his dead wife’s hometown of Modesto.

The trial is scheduled to start Monday but will probably be postponed. Prosecutors asked for two weeks to move their operation to San Mateo County, and a hearing is scheduled later this week to discuss a delay.

Details here from the AP via SFGate.com.

UPDATE: Not anymore! Prosecutors challenged Judge Arnason, so another judge will have to be appointed, the AP reports here.


RIAA Files 532 Music File Sharing Lawsuits

The recording industry on Wednesday sued 532 computer users it said were illegally distributing songs over the Internet, the first lawsuits since a federal appeals court blocked the use of special copyright subpoenas to identify those being targeted.

The action represents the largest number of lawsuits filed at one time since the trade group for the largest music labels, the Recording Industry Association of America, launched its controversial legal campaign last summer to cripple Internet music piracy.

Music lawyers filed the newest cases against “John Doe” defendants — identified only by their numeric Internet protocol addresses — and expected to work through the courts to learn their names and where they live.

The recording association said each person was illegally distributing an average of more than 800 songs online.

Details here from the AP via SFGate.com.


Military Lawyers Urge Role for High Court

The defense assigned to represent accused terrorists before military commissions is endorsing the right to hold enemy combatants indefinitely but urging the Supreme Court not to close the door on suits arising from commission proceedings. The brief the team filed with the Court is the first public criticism from within the Pentagon to procedures that will govern the tribunals. Coming before an often closely divided high court, the lawyers’ arguments could prove influential.

Details here from Legal Times via Law.com.


Former Nevada Federal Judge Who Was Impeached Kills Himself

Harry Claiborne, a federal judge who was impeached after his conviction for filing false tax returns, has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 86.

Claiborne, who had cancer and other ailments, committed suicide Monday night at his Las Vegas home, the Clark County coroner’s office said Tuesday.

Before his appointment to the bench, Claiborne was considered one of Nevada’s top defense lawyers, representing many prominent people with ties to Las Vegas.

Claiborne was impeached in 1986, one of only seven federal officials in U.S. history to be removed from office through impeachment. Details here from the AP via SFGate.com.


Prosecution’s Documents Reveal Grisly Desert Slayings

A few miles southwest of the Strip, where the megawatt glare of the casinos meets a lonely stretch of desert, three young women were forced to walk into the night. Only one crawled out alive.

Prosecutors say it began in the chilly, early morning hours of March 5, 2003, when Kim Choy, her younger sister, Sophear, and friend Priscella Van Dine went to retrieve their belongings from a spacious home in the suburbs.

Now a Las Vegas man, Alfonso “Slinkey” Blake, is scheduled to be tried later this month for two counts of murder. The AP has the chilling details here via CNN.com.