Practicing Law In Paradise?

Being an American lawyer in the Palau Islands (just north of New Guinea and west of Micronesia) might seem idyllic — especially to a stressed-out associate toiling away at some Big Firm in, say, New York or L.A. But its allure dims a little with the news that the job entails being beaten with a baseball bat by the “paramount Chief” of the place, who will be spending the next year in jail for doing just that, according to this.


Colleges Fight Back in Music File Sharing Cases

Boston College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have moved to quash subpoenas seeking the names of students suspected of Internet music piracy, saying they’re illegal because they weren’t properly filed.

The schools said the subpoenas, issued by the Recording Industry Association of America, didn’t allow for adequate time to notify the students, as mandated by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Read it here via Boston.com via the AP online.


Tucker Max In The New York Times

The Times reports here that Mr. Max’s troubles with Ms. Vermont may be shaping up to be a serious First Amendment battle over “prior restraint” of speech. When will this guy finally go away??? (I discussed Mr. Max and his infamous capers earlier here.)


Dear Trial Lawyers, it’s me again. Pay attention this time.

Remember a few days ago that I said climate change would be the Achilles heel for the Chamber of Commerce and the anti-consumer, anti-lawsuit hacks who run it?

The White House and environmental groups are turning up the heat on the Chamber of Commerce, and some of its member companies are feeling the burn.

At a National Press Club event last week, seven different reporters tried to ask the chairwoman of Royal Dutch Shell how her oil company could push for climate legislation while maintaining its membership in the Chamber.

Toyota has been inundated with calls and e-mails from Prius owners, pushed by MoveOn.org to demand an explanation of how the automaker’s membership in the Chamber squares with the green vibe it wraps around its hybrid cars.

And New York-based Mohawk Fine Papers — “the largest premium paper manufacturer in North America” — pulled out of the Chamber this week. It was the seventh company to resign over the business lobby’s opposition to climate change legislation.

Source: Firms take fire in war on Chamber – Lisa Lerer – POLITICO.com

I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly stupid it would be of trial lawyers not to take advantage of this situation to drive members and membership dollars away from the Chamber.  Look, the Chamber is already blaming defections of companies like Apple on trial lawyers anyway.  So instead of standing on the sidelines and playing the scapegoat, why not go on the offensive and hit them where it hurts?

Put the pressure on.  Make them spend their dollars defending their (outlandish) position instead of advocating for the dismantlement of the civil justice system.

Get to it!



Spector’s Former Lawyer May Be Held in Contempt

Sara Caplan

Sara Caplan, a former lawyer for Phil Spector, will be held in contempt of court if she refuses to testify about whether she saw a defense expert mishandle material that could be evidence in the music producer’s murder trial, the judge ruled this morning. The decision carries criminal penalties, but the contempt ruling was immediately stayed until June 22 to allow Caplan time to appeal to a higher court. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler also gave the parties until Monday at 9 a.m. to work out a compromise.

Fidler said it was the first time in his 25 years on the bench that he has had to punish an attorney with contempt. The jurist was clearly sorrowful that the dispute over Caplan’s testimony led to his decision.

“It goes without saying that nobody wants to be here today,” Fidler said as he recited his ruling from the bench. “Nobody has any personal animus against Miss Caplan. “I admire her for taking the stance she is taking; I don’t agree with it,” Fidler said, adding later that as a judge he had no choice. “You often have to do things you don’t like.” “I see no reason why Miss Caplan should not testify,” said Fidler, who was a defense attorney for 10 years. “There is no other person who can testify to what she saw.”

Details here from the Los Angeles Times.


The Bush Administration Lies

I try to avoid injecting much opinion or politics into this weblog, but I feel a civic duty here.

All politicians spin and selectively recite the facts that favor them — it’s the nature of the beast.

But I’m increasingly convinced that the Bush administration takes it a notch further, and just flat out lies. I’m convinced that they have repeatedly decided “let’s do plan A,” and then come out and told the press and public that “we’re doing plan B” when the two plans are diametrically opposed. That’s brazen. That’s unacceptable.

I’m increasingly convinced that the core of this administration has a radical “neo-con” agenda that they are systematically carrying out while knowingly lying about what they are doing because they know the American people would be outraged if they understood what the administration was really doing.

Just two examples:

Donald Rumsfeld was recently (3/14/04) caught red-handed on CBS’s “Face The Nation” lying about earlier lies he had told about Iraq. Read all about it here.

And Congressman Henry A. Waxman has compiled a report and database of the lies that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice told to the American public and the world to get us to go to war in Iraq. It makes compelling reading and speaks for itself. You can see for yourself here.

I think the American people are beginning to wake up and notice all of this. I hope so. And I hope the mainstream, non-partisan press lends a hand.


“The Lobster Police”

Why are federal officials prosecuting people for importing lobster tails in plastic bags instead of cardboard boxes? Or because a small percentage of the lobsters in a particular shipment were less than 51/2 inches in possible violation of Honduran law? Law Prof Ellen Podgor and Heritage Senior Research Fellow Paul Rosenweig ask: Have we won the war on terror or the drug war? Why the waste of resources? Read their op-ed in today’s Washington Times, Bum Lobster Rap.

Details here from TalkLeft.com.


Internet Quotation of the Week

“Forget about it, dude–even genocidal litigation can’t stop file sharers.”

Grokster president Wayne Rosso.

I stole this awesome quotation from Donna Wentworth of COPYfight.org, a great blog straight outta Harvard Law School. Donna has done us a great service by blogging from (something called) ILAW. Thanks, Donna!


Evangelists Have Enforcers?

I am so out of touch with the world of evangelism.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A fugitive accused of beating two teenagers on evangelist Tony Alamo’s orders must pay $3 million in restitution, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes awarded $1.5 million each to Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna, who were both raised in Alamo’s church in Fouke in southwestern Arkansas. The teens accused Alamo’s alleged enforcer, John Kolbek, of battery, false imprisonment, outrage and conspiracy.

Source: $3M awarded in suit against alleged Alamo enforcer – washingtonpost.com



Defendant, Deputies Scuffle in Courtroom

Cotati resident even gets hit in the face by his own attorney

A defendant in a Sonoma County courtroom got rough justice Wednesday when he was punched in the face by his own attorney and shocked twice with a Taser stun gun after he tried to wrestle a court bailiff’s gun from its holster.

Cotati resident Martin E. Hirtz, 44, was in Superior Court Judge Lawrence Antolini’s court at about 9 a.m. on a probation violation charge related to a previous conviction for assaulting a peace officer when the chaos began. Hirtz made a move for the gun as he was being taken from the courtroom into custody, according to a statement by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Hirtz lunged at bailiff Eric Greenband’s holster, grabbed hold tightly and tried to pull out the weapon by jerking it back and forth and pushing Greenband backward against a short court partition, sheriffs said. Hirtz unsnapped the holster and partially removed the gun as another deputy sheriff joined the fray and called for backup.

Seeing that the officers could not subdue Hirtz, his own defense attorney, the prosecutor and the probation officer on duty jumped into the melee to try to control the defendant. Despite several blows from Deputy Public Defender Jeff Mitchell and baton strikes to the head and arms by Deputy Sheriff Will Conner, Hirtz would not relent.

It was not until another deputy sheriff shot Hirtz with a Taser probe and shocked him that he began to give in. After a second shock, deputies finally subdued Hirtz and hauled him away.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I don’t practice criminal law. Details here from the San Francisco Chronicle.