Friday, November 30, 2012

Law Music Video: Lawyers, Guns and Money

This week's installment in the Law Music Video Series is Lawyers, Guns and Money by the late Warren Zevon.

The protagonist in the song finds himself in hot water in a foreign country.  He pleads home to his father to send "Lawyers, Guns and Money" to get him out of trouble.

What is the significance of the grouping of these three subjects?  Is it a natural or an odd assemblage?
How are they similar/different?
What can they individually accomplish?  Accomplish together?
Which  is likely to be more effective? Why?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Go to Church or Go to Jail? What Despotic Theocracy Has That Law?

The despotic theocracy espousing the "go to church or go to jail" rule is Oklahoma.  In sentencing a 17-year- old to probation for a vehicle related manslaughter charge, Oklahoma state court Judge Mike Norman ordered the defendant to attend church for 10 years.

"If Mr. Alred stops attending church or violates any other terms of his probation, Judge Norman said, he will send him to prison," reports the NY Times.

In response to concerns raised about the constitutionality of such a sentence, Judge Norman says,

“I think it would hold up, but I don’t know one way or another.”

I would hope that my undergraduate students would know the answer to that one. I would think there would be a pretty good success rate if I wrote that query up as an exam question. At least Judge Norman didn't make any ruling about the denomination of church that the defendant must attend.  But he certainly had one in mind, saying,

“I think Jesus can help anybody. I know I need help from him every day.”

People of the theocratic republic of Oklahoma could use a little help from the spirit of James Madison.

Apparently Alabama already has in place a program similar to Judge Norman's:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How We Can All Contribute to Law Enforcement

I tell my students that if one of their cell phones rings in class, I will simply stop talking and make sure that there is an uncomfortable silence with all attention focused on the offender.  There is no penalty other than the public embarrassment that results.  I imagine that there is a similar justification behind the program proposed in the following video:

Click the image below to see the video:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Negligence Claims and Insurance Contract Claims

Which of the mishaps pictured in the Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. ads below may give rise to civil tort claims for negligence?  Which give rise to a contractual claim for indemnity from an insurance policy? Which are just funny mishaps?


Monday, November 26, 2012

Woman Fakes Mental Illness to Get Out of Jury Duty

A Colorado woman apparently went through rather elaborate machinations to claim to be a PTSD victim in order to avoid jury duty.

"Her makeup looked like something you would wear during a theater performance," court reporter Kelli Wessels told investigators at the time, according to the Denver Post. "When the judge asked the entire panel if anyone had a mental illness, [Cole] stated she had difficulties getting ready in the morning, which was apparent to me by the way she was dressed."

She was lucky to be dismissed from duty that day, but her luck ran out when she boasted about her charade on a radio call in program - a program to which the judge was listening. She was prosecuted for perjury and received a sentence of probation after a guilty plea.  I guess she didn't want to put her fate in the hands of a jury made up of people who actually were executing the civic duty that she disrespected.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Break - More Bad Lawyer Ads (#5)

It's Thanksgiving week and there are no classes at the University of Connecticut this week. The blog will return next week.  In the meantime, please enjoy the latest compilation of  "bad lawyer ads" below.

See previous posts: bad lawyer ad posts: #1, #2, #3, and #4.

The production quality on this one is so poor, I can't tell if this is a real ad or a parody.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Law Music Video: Appointed Forever

This week's installment in the law Music Videos series is the parody, Appointed Forever, by the Bar and Grill Singers.

What are the implications for lawmaking resulting from lifetime judicial appointments?
How would those considerations differ in situations where judges are elected?
How does the Citizens United case affect judicial elections? How does that affect the legal system?
If you could draft new rules for judicial selection, what would they be? Why?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Creative Sentencing

A judge in Ohio has ordered a driver who repeatedly drove on a sidewalk to avoid stopping for a stopped school bus to stand at the site of her infractions wearing a sign that reads:

"Only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus."

See the raw video below.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Examples of Potential Product Liability Claims

Below are examples of people using a product that resulted in an injury.  The product below is one that has become well known for its propensity to cause injury- the 4-wheeled All Terrain Vehicle.

See related post here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Can This be an Express Warranty?

In this post we pointed to the UCC Article 2 express warranty provisions.  In the video below, a bold statement is made by the retail sellers of coffee.  Is it a statement of fact or "puffing"?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Uh-oh, Uh-uh-oh, Not Such a Good Time

Can you make a copyright claim based on five notes and a couple of uh-oh's? Ally Burnett,a singer from Alabama has sued Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City for copying elements of Burnett's original tune, Ah, It's a Love Song in the Jepsen/Owl City hit, Good Time.

Judge for yourself:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Law Music Video: Razzle Dazzle

Today's installment in the Law Music Video Series is Razzle Dazzle from the movie Chicago.

Is a trial a "search for truth"? Or is it a contest - the one who tells the best story wins?
Is the difference between persuading the jury and deceiving the jury a bright line or a razor's edge?
Do TV cameras in a courtroom promote or impede fidelity to truth?
Do they encourage or discourage showmanship?
What is the trial lawyer's craft - presenting evidence or performing theatre?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

If I Don't Get Caught, It Can't be Wrong!

Everyone cheats, right? It's up to someone else (a referee, a judge, a police officer, an administrative agency,etc.) to enforce the rules, right? If you can get away with it, then how bad can it be? Right?

Click on the image below to see a famous "successful" cheater's play.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Duke Basketball Successful ON The Court; Football Successful IN The Court.

On September 7, 2002, before a home crowd of 25,486, the Duke Blue Devils football team went down in defeat to the University of Louisville Cardinals by the lopsided score of 40-3. Duke, was contractually bound to play Louisville three more times (2007, 2008, and 2009). But, apparently seeking to avoid any further embarrassment, Duke notified Louisville that it would breach the contract.  The contract had a liquidated damages provision that required Duke to pay Louisville $150,000 per cancelled game, if Louisville, in good faith, could not schedule a replacement game with a "team of similar stature." In Louisville's estimation, a  team of similar stature apparently meant a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly 1A) team from a Bowl Championship Series conference. However, Duke's lawyers took an interesting position. They argued that Duke football was so bad, that pretty much any college team would qualify as a "team of similar stature."

UL posed the following interrogatory in discovery: 
List all college varsity football teams (as that term is used in the agreement) considered by Duke to be a "team of similar stature" to Duke.

Duke responded:
Duke states that any and all college varsity teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) are teams of a 'similar stature' to Duke. . . . Additionally, Duke states that any and all college varsity football teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) that would be considered as good or better than Duke in football. . . are teams of a 'similar stature' to Duke. . . . [J]unior varsity programs of any of the aforementioned teams would not be teams of a 'similar stature' to Duke's varsity college football team.

Therefore, according to Duke, UL should have been able to schedule anyone and relieve Duke of its obligation to pay damages. The Court agreed.

UL's Law School dean disagreed, writing in his blog:

Strictly as a football fan, albeit one who is a Louisville Cardinals partisan, I respectfully disagree with Judge Shepherd. There is no adequate substitute for Duke football, a patsy nonpareil in college football. There simply is no other (1) Division I-A team (2) that plays such appallingly bad football (3) so consistently and persistently (4) all while maintaining its membership in a Bowl Championship Series conference.
As pleased as I am to witness a revival of the Louisville-Memphis rivalry, an old Metro Conference basketball grudge match moved to the gridiron, what I really want is a series of virtually guaranteed wins against the worst major college football team. And that team, despite its university's immense wealth and its city's sports tradition (think of Bull Durham and the 1942 Rose Bowl), is the Duke Blue Devils.

Judging from this recent article, searching for the proper "patsy" football opponent is a matter of art - and broken legal commitments. The implications of this decision on future football scheduling contracts is also a topic of important research. 

Watch the video below and hear Duke's lawyer urge the court to take judicial notice that Duke is "the worst football team in division 1 football."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Little White Lies

The British Advertising Standards Authority has taken action to ban a Christian Dior mascara ad featuring Natalie Portman.  The ad portrays results that cannot be achieved by use of the product. The agency ruling noted that Dior called the ad portrayal as "aspirational," admitting the lashes were re-touched after the photo shoot. In the US, the FDA and the FTC have periodically taken action against cosmetics advertisers. But in this case, no complaint has been made.The British regulatory action followed a complaint by a competitor. In the US, apparently, no one wants to "throw the first stone."

The Cover Girl ad featuring Taylor Swift, below, was pulled after the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureaus found it to be misleading. The Government didn't even have to get involved here.  Of course, the case was easily made since the ad's small print stated, "Lashes enhanced in post production."

Related posts on Deceptive Advertising: Activia ad, Ralph Lauren.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Speed Limit, 85 MPH ... or 90... Maybe 95 ... Going Once, Twice ...

In discussing the jurisprudential theories of Legal Realism, one of my prime examples is to ask students to think about speed  limits.  Speed limits are set by law.  The law may set the speed limit in an area at 25 MPH - but drivers rarely heed that law. It is well known that there is only a very small chance of getting a ticket for driving 26, or 27, or perhaps even 30. Driving faster than that increases the likelihood of  the driver becoming the subject of law enforcement action.  A Legal Realist considering these facts might argue that the speed limit law is not 25 at all, but 30. The words of the law may say 25, but the law in action imposes no penalty until 30.  Therefore, the conduct that results from law (both the written word and the system in action) is that people drive 30 MPH.  If law is based on the conduct that is shaped by imposing penalties, then the speed limit law is actually 30.

Then I found some verification in this story on CBS This Morning (Click on the image below to see the report):

More Legal Realism, here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Law Music Video: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

Today's installment in the Law Music Video Series is The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia by Reba McEntire or Vickie Lawrence or Jennifer Nettles (take your pick).  This is such a deliciously preposterous scenario. You could ask students to discuss the obvious due process issues. Or perhaps, consider it an allegory on injustices in the criminal system .  Ask students to identify realistic areas of challenges for attainment of justice in the legal system.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What is Law For if Not to Protect the Weak?

The Boy Scouts of America have for nearly a century kept secret files on volunteers and employees who have molested children. Recently, the Boy Scouts have been ordered to make public many of the documents. In some instances, files were begun after civic authorities brought charges.  But in other instances, it was the BSA that held the only evidence of the abuse. Sometimes authorities were notified.  Sometimes they weren't.  According to the Los Angeles Times:

Victims often feel betrayed by the scouts who either never took action to protect others or who never reached out to apologize for the harm, or even to acknowledge the truth.

With these BSA revelations coming on the heels of decades of allegations of the Roman Catholic Church covering up child abuse by priests and the recent similar failure to report incidents at Penn State University, the question has to be: Why does the law so consistently fail in getting people with knowledge of these incidents to report them?  In all states, reporting is required by law.  Yet, those with the knowledge to put and end to the abuse stay silent.

Recently, a Connecticut physician was arrested and charged with failing to report child abuse.  His defense was that after reporting child abuse many times, he had lost faith in the child protective system to do any good.  What is the law for if not to protect the weak?

Related posts may be found here and here.