Federal Judge Hands Hastings Law School Victory In Lawsuit

A federal judge has rejected claims by a Christian student group that the University of California’s Hastings College of Law must recognize it as a registered student group even though it discriminates based on religion and sexual orientation. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Christian Legal Society in July 2004 after the law school refused to recognize them as a student group because they did not permit gay and lesbian students and non-orthodox Christians to become full members of the group of hold officer positions in the group.

White ruled that Hastings did not violate the CLS’s First Amendment rights of free speech by denying them recognition.

“(Hastings’ policy) affects what CLS must do if it wants to become a registered student organization – not engage in discrimination – not what CLS may or may not say regarding its beliefs on non-orthodox Christianity or homosexuality,” White wrote in his decision.

A number of similar lawsuits are pending against various other public universities throughout the nation, including the California State University system, so White’s ruling, issued Monday, could have impact beyond at Hastings, according to the attorney for the school.

Details here from cbs5 Bay City News Wire.

Miers’ Answer Raises Questions

Asked to describe the constitutional issues she had worked on during her legal career, Supreme Court nominee Harriet E. Miers had relatively little to say on the questionnaire she sent to the Senate this week.

And what she did say left many constitutional experts shaking their heads.

At one point, Miers described her service on the Dallas City Council in 1989. When the city was sued on allegations that it violated the Voting Rights Act, she said, “the council had to be sure to comply with the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause.”

But the Supreme Court repeatedly has said the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” does not mean that city councils or state legislatures must have the same proportion of blacks, Latinos and Asians as the voting population.

“That’s a terrible answer. There is no proportional representation requirement under the equal protection clause,” said New York University law professor Burt Neuborne, a voting rights expert. “If a first-year law student wrote that and submitted it in class, I would send it back and say it was unacceptable.”

Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, also an expert on voting rights, said she was surprised the White House did not check Miers’ questionnaire before sending it to the Senate.

“Are they trying to set her up? Any halfway competent junior lawyer could have checked the questionnaire and said it cannot go out like that. I find it shocking,” she said.

Details here from David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times.

In Midcareer, a Turn to Faith to Fill a Void

DALLAS, Oct. 4 – By 1979, Harriet E. Miers, then in her mid-30’s, had accomplished what some people take a lifetime to achieve. She was a partner at Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely, one of the most prestigious law firms in the South, with an office on the 35th floor of the Republic National Bank Tower in downtown Dallas.

But she still felt something was missing in her life, and it was after a series of long discussions – rambling conversations about family and religion and other matters that typically stretched from early evening into the night – with Nathan L. Hecht, a junior colleague at the law firm, that she made a decision that many of the people around her say changed her life.

“She decided that she wanted faith to be a bigger part of her life,” Justice Hecht, who now serves on the Texas Supreme Court, said in an interview. “One evening she called me to her office and said she was ready to make a commitment” to accept Jesus Christ as her savior and be born again, he said. He walked down the hallway from his office to hers, and there amid the legal briefs and court papers, Ms. Miers and Justice Hecht “prayed and talked,” he said.

She was baptized not long after that, at the Valley View Christian Church.

New York Times, In Midcareer, a Turn to Faith to Fill a Void.

Miers was born and raised a Roman Catholic. She became a partner at what was then Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely.

Then she was “born again” after a “series of long discussions – rambling conversations about family and religion and other matters” with a “junior colleague at the law firm.”

Seriously? And she’s going to be on the Supreme Court??

Danger, Will Robinson. DANGER!

Apple Fires Law Firm Over Proposed Settlement

Computer group Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has dropped law firm Linklaters from an ongoing legal battle with the Beatles’ record label Apple Corp over the use of the Apple name to sell music-related products.

The latest installment in a long-running series of legal scraps between the two sides had been due to go back before the courts in London this autumn.

However, it now looks likely to be delayed as Apple Computers’ new legal representative, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, gets to grips with its new case.

It is believed that Apple Computer decided to switch legal teams after Linklaters raised the possibility of a settlement said in legal circles to be close to US$35.65 million, far higher than Apple Computer’s expectations.

Details here from MacNewsWorld.

Judge Allows Kobe Bryant’s Accuser’s Sexual History Into Evidence

The judge in Kobe Bryant’s rape case dealt a major blow to the prosecution by ruling that key details of his accuser’s sexual history will be allowed into evidence at trial.

Judge Terry Ruckriegle, sitting in Eagle in the western state of Colorado, ruled that the alleged victim’s sexual activity around the time of the alleged June 30, 2003 sexual assault would be admissible at trial.

He said all evidence of “the alleged victim’s sexual conduct within approximately 72 hours preceding her physical examination … is relevant … to the determination of cause of injuries observed by the nurse” and the source of “the DNA and other bodily fluids found,” he wrote.

The ruling represents a bombshell for prosecutors who have claimed that the injuries to the then-19-year-old woman’s genitals were caused by National Basketball Association star Bryant raping her in his hotel room.

Some speculate that the prosecution now might even drop the case. Details here from Yahoo! News.

Toyota Loses Watershed Suit Over Logo Copyright in China

Toyota Motor lost a lawsuit against China’s Geely Group after an 11-month battle that marked the first attempt by an overseas car maker to use courts to stop domestic rivals copying designs and logos.

Toyota sued Geely in December last year for 14 million yuan (about R11 million), claiming it used a logo on the bonnet, hub cabs, steering column and boot of its Merrie cars that resembled Toyota’s T marque.

A Toyota spokesperson said the company regretted the ruling by the Beijing court. . . .

“[T]his is not good for the protection of intellectual property rights in China,” said Katsumi Nakamura, the president of Dongfeng Motor Company, Nissan’s venture in China.

Wang Zhong, a lawyer for Geely, described the verdict as “fair” and “objective”.

I once briefed an American judge on a motion to stay a case and refer it to arbitration in China. The judge’s attitude was: “We have no way of knowing what the hell might happen over there.” The motion was denied. It will be interesting to watch as China’s legal system increasingly has to deal with international business disputes.

The immediate story is reported here by Bloomberg.

ACLU Asks Kansas Court to Overturn 17-Year Prison Sentence of Bisexual Teenager

Arguing that excluding gay teenagers from the Kansas “Romeo and Juliet” law is unconstitutional after the recent Supreme Court decision striking down sodomy laws, the American Civil Liberties Union today asked a state appeals court to free a bisexual teenager who is serving 17 years in prison for having oral sex with another young man.

Matthew Limon is appealing a 17-year prison sentence he received because shortly after he turned 18 he performed consensual oral sex on another teenager at a residential school for developmentally disabled youth where they both lived in Miami County, Kansas. If he had instead performed oral sex on a female of the same age, he would have received no more than 15 months in jail under the Kansas law. But because the “Romeo and Juliet” law applies only to heterosexuals, Limon was convicted under the much harsher state sodomy law.

The sentence was just wrong — with or without Lawrence v. Texas, as I blogged earlier here. The US Supreme Court reversed and remanded Limon’s sentence within a day of the Lawrence decision. But the Kansas courts still haven’t decided what to do with Mr. Limon, which is what the ACLU’s brief addresses. If you don’t already, you should consider supporting the ACLU. Even if you don’t always agree with them, they are an important counterpoint to John Ashcroft.

Winnie the Pooh

California Appellate court lets stand ruling that Disney is bad, bad, bad, and leaves open door for plaintiff family to potentially collect hundreds of millions of dollars in Pooh royalties. Oh, bother! (Nice move by Bert waiving the sanctions award, and thus limiting the issues on appeal . . . .) Read the unpublished decision of the court here. (PDF format)

DRAM Case Yields $81 Million Fee Award

With a swagger in his step and a gold tie around his neck, Guido Saveri exuded an air of largesse Wednesday morning.

Moments earlier, a federal judge had approved attorney fees for Saveri and other plaintiffs lawyers who reached a $325 million settlement in a price-fixing case against companies that make DRAM computer chips.

Lead plaintiffs attorneys say an estimated $81.5 million, or 25 percent of the total settlement, will be split as fees between some 40 firms that worked on the case, which was brought on behalf of companies that used the chips in their products.

“Tony, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee,” Saveri told co-counsel Anthony Shapiro of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, who argued the fee motion before Northern District of California Judge Phyllis Hamilton.

I won’t argue that this fee wasn’t justified by existing law or was outside the bounds of reason. I know Judge Hamilton, and she has a reputation as being a pretty by-the-book, conservative judge.

But over eighty million dollars??? At my current salary as a public servant, I would have to work for over seven hundred (700) years to earn an equivalent amount. Judge Hamilton would have to work for approximately 560 years. It strikes me that this is somehow insane.

Details here from The Recorder via Law.com.

Odd Obituary Coincidence

The AP’s current top obituary article contains the following two entries:

DALLAS (AP) — Wilford ”Crazy Ray” Jones, the boisterous Dallas Cowboys fan who energized crowds for decades with his cowboy getup and sideline cheerleading, died Saturday. He was 76.

Jones died at his home, said Tracy Moberly, a friend of the family. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease were listed as the causes of death, according to the Dallas County medical examiner’s office.

Known as the Cowboys’ unofficial mascot, Jones entertained fans with sideline antics and magic tricks while wearing his signature chaps, six-shooter and blue vest.

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Denny Sym, also known as ”Dolfan Denny,” who cheered on the Miami Dolphins for 34 years as a one-man sideline show, died Friday, his wife Ingrid said. He was 72.

Sym had been battling kidney disease and cancer for several years.

Sym led Miami crowds in cheers and chants in his glittering orange and aqua hat since the Dolphins’ first game in 1966, starting in the stands.

Both men were given special treatment by the teams they cheered. I guess it was a bad weekend to be a fanatical football booster. Details here from the AP.