Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Peek Into the Criminal Mind

Last month news media reported that Luis Trinidad pulled up to a convenience store in Hartford in his burnt orange Cadillac and went inside, leaving his 2 year old son buckled in the back seat with the car running.  The police allege that Davon Mills drove off in the car with the boy still inside. When Mills was caught, he apparently, foolishly, failed to exercise his right to remain silent and offered an explanation to the police. However, his explanation was not the one you might have expected.  Instead of claiming that he made a mistake and did not know the boy was in the car, he claimed to have taken the car because he was upset that the boy's father left him in the car alone and, thereby, admitted to the mens rea element of kidnapping.

Click on the image below to view the news report:

Here is a print story on another criminal genius who posted an apology on his facebook page to the owners of the cars that he damaged while driving drunk and fleeing the scene.

Framingham, Massachusetts police responding to a complaint that some kids were egging a house arrived to discover the miscreants were Newton, Mass. police officers egging the home of their sergeant.

Can you spot the common thread running through these diverse events?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How Law Affects Real People...

... as portrayed by the Wall Street Journal.  The graphics below were printed in the WSJ ostensibly to make the effects of the recent tax legislation hit home. For instance, the single mom earning merely 7x the median income of a woman in the US will see a tax increase equal to her annual dry cleaning bill. The young single woman earning only 6x the US median will have to give up at least one designer suit purchase this year.  Hardest hit is the family with 4 kids struggling to survive with only 13x the median family income. Despite their $180,000 in investment income, they still have to work to get by. But they may have to downgrade their annual commuting vehicle purchase from the Mercedes SUV to the Lexus this year. (Look how they have to clutch their children to them to avoid the harsh critical stares from their private school classmates as they drive up to the school in that thing.)  And what about the elderly on fixed incomes? The retired couple with $52,000/year in investment income and another $130,000 from somewhere else can rest easy. The tax hike is zero. Papa can still afford a new dresser full of cotton sweaters to tie around his neck.

Image source:


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Does Law Shape Society or Does Society Shape Law?

This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr.’s address to the Methodist Student Leadership Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1964 may be used to spark student consideration of the relationship between law and society:

But I must go on to give the other side, because I am convinced that those who say that legislation can’t deal with this issue happen to be uttering a half-truth. It may be true that you cannot legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law can’t change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me and I think that’s pretty important also. And so while the law may not be able to change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men. And when you begin to change the habits of men, pretty soon their attitudes will be changed and their hearts will be changed.

I wonder if these comments are relevant to the present gun control debate?

Monday, January 28, 2013

"But That's Not What Judge Judy Does!"

After lecturing on some civil procedure matters a student raised her hand and somewhat defiantly asserted the statement that comprises the title of this post. I laughed good-naturedly and then recognized the confusion evident from her expression. "Oh, my God," I thought, "she thinks the Judge Judy show is a broadcast of an actual courtroom!" How many other students believe that Judge Judy or The People's Court or Judge Joe Brown, etc. etc. are actual court proceedings instead of TV shows?

Judge Judy's opening segment says "The people are real! The cases are real! The rulings are final!"
This much is true.  But not because it is a court ruling.  The rulings are final because the litigants have dismissed their small claims cases in favor of an agreement to be bound by the outcome in the TV forum.  As explained at the People's Court website: 

"The People's Court," produced by Ralph Edwards/Stu Billett Productions (the producers of the original series which ran for 12 years), draws on ordinary people who have filed grievances in civil court and have opted to have their cases heard and mediated by Judge Milian. An experienced team of researchers continually canvass courts across the country in search of the most compelling, unique and thought-provoking cases. Running the gamut from disputes between neighbors and family members, to dissatisfied customers suing businesses, Milian's decisions – based on current law – are final and binding.

Below is a video of the closing remarks form an early edition of The People's Court.  Following Doug Llewelyn's famous "You take 'em to court" phrase, is an explanation of the payment arrangements for participants.

Judge Judy closing credits.  At :31 is the written explanation, "Monetary awards are paid from a fund maintained by the producer."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Law Music Video: Work/Life Balance

This week's addition to the law Music Videos series is perhaps more business oriented that law oriented. The themes are obvious. Enjoy:

Busy, Busy, by Sandra Boynton recorded byKevin Klein
End of the Day, by Lucy Kaplansky
Richard Cory by Simon and Garfunkel

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The New Liberty of Expression

News article over the past few weeks have crystallized a troubling development in the Liberty of Expression amplified by the internet. In the last few weeks, a movement of conspiracy theorists have come forward to claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings never took place. Their claim is that the government staged a vast media event with "crisis actors" in an effort to support a gun control agenda.  In addition to making these comments publicly for the media, conspiracy theorists have been directly contacting rescuers and victims of the tragedy with anonymous and hurtful comments.

In the "marketplace of ideas" theory, speech of little value will be shouted down and drowned out by criticism. But how do you drown out anonymous postings? The Liberty of Expression once carried the responsibility to face those who were critical of your expression. That responsibility has been removed by the internet's anonymity. The delicate balance between individual liberty of public comment and individual liberty to be let alone has been thrown out of kilter. Speech that is likely to result in imminent physical harm is not protected.  Yet, speech that is likely to result in imminent emotional harm is protected. In the Westboro Baptist Church case, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of protesters to express their views publicly no matter how repugnant or hurtful.  But physical protests can, and have been, controlled with appropriate time, place and manner restrictions to temper the damaging effects while allowing the expression.  How do we do this with anonymous postings on the internet?

Since this post was originally published, similar issues have arisen regarding harassment of the victims of the Colorado movie theater shooting.

In a less tragic but similarly vexing incident, it appears that an autobiography of Michael Jackson has become the target of a coordinated internet attack by Jackson's fans.  The book's author and publisher are helpless to counter an avalanche of critical reviews posted by anonymous readers, sometimes including false and misleading information. In the past, when only journalists had the resources to publish reviews, reasonable journalistic standards provided protection against false statements. Now, it's a free for all with few rules.

How can the law respond to these and similar challenges?

I have declined to post videos here so as to avoid giving a further forum to the Sandy Hook deniers.  YouTube hosts dozens of these videos with more coming every day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Ethics Unwrapped" Videos from University of Texas

ALSB member Robert Prentice from UTexas shares with all of us a series of video ethics resource:

At the University of Texas' McCombs School of Business, we have produced some educational ethics videos that may be accessed and used FREE OF CHARGE.

These videos are available at Ethics Unwrapped.

We will add to the series from time to time as new videos are produced.  Currently, the focus of most of the videos posted is upon behavioral ethics.  They have generally been greeted with favorable responses.

Thanks for sharing!

Below is an example: "As Albus Dumbledore told Harry Potter, 'It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to your friends.'"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Blogger, Henry Lowenstein: Do You "Hear" The Law Sing?



Henry Lowenstein, Ph.D.
Professor of Management and Law
Coastal Carolina University

In the Legal Classroom Blog Profesor DeAngelis and guest professors provide different and unique approaches to assist students in their education on recognizing, understanding and interpreting business law and legal issues.  One such approach is through the use of music and in the exercise I offer today this learning device based upon one of the world's most famous and successful musicals.  

Many students returning to classes in 2013 doubtless enjoyed the premier and subsequent showing of Universal Pictures movie rendition of the popular and long-running musical Les Misérables starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried.   The story, based upon the novel by 19th century French author, Victor Hugo, takes place in France starting in 1815 and culminating in the June Rebellion (Paris Uprising) of 1832.

Les Misérables-The Musical premiered in Paris in 1980 in French, written and produced by Alan Boublil with music by Claude-Michel Schoenberg.  The English lyric version led to its London premier in 1985, over 30 years of performances, adaptations and now major movie.

Within the musical is a humorous scene and popular song sung by the rogue character, Monsieur Thénardier, a corrupt innkeeper who with his equally corrupt wife later loses the inn to bankruptcy.   The song, Master of the House provides an interesting opportunity for students of business law, and particularly students in a hospitality law courses to reflect on all the federal, state and local laws and regulations Monsieur Thénardier would be violating in the conduct of his establishment where he to find himself in the United States in the year 2013!! 

The exercise can be made to different degrees of challenge for students by adapting to particular states or localities in which they attend their business law class. Those in hospitality law can run down the list of issues posed in each state's Law of Innkeepers.  Other students can meet the challenge of identifying all the various unfair trade practices, statutory, regulatory and common law violations in such areas as bailment, bad faith and fair dealing, fraud and misrepresentation, animal abuse, contract and the list goes on. 

To help demonstrate this point we create two columns.  The first contains the lyrics to Master of the House.  In the second column is space where the students can identify in general (or if they and the professor desire) specific statute and regulation, the violation represented by each verse of this singing allocution of the innkeeper. (I have put some general identifications by a few of the lyrics as a demonstration.)

At the end I have attached a link to a YouTube performance of the song from the 10th Anniversary performance of Les Misérables.  I hope students and faculty find this a fun method to reinforce their learning on business law and the legal environment.

HL  12/29/12


*Lyrics “Master of the House” from Les Misérables (1980 English lyrics by Hervert Kretzmer)

Monsieur Thénardier-Innkeeper

Business Laws Implicated
Welcome M'sier
Sit yourself down
And meet the best Innkeeper in town
As for the rest
All of them crooks
Rooking the guests
And cooking the books
Seldom do you see
Honest men like me
A gent of good intent
Who's content to be
Master of the House
Doling out the charm
Ready with a handshake
And an open palm
Tells a saucy tale
Makes a little stir
Customers appreciate a bon viveur!
Glad to do my friends a favor
Doesn't cost me to be nice!
But nothing gets you nothing, everything has got a little price.
Master of the House
Keeper of the zoo
Ready relieve them of a sou, or two.
Watering the wine, making up the weight,
Picking up their knick-knacks
When they can't see straight
Everybody loves a landlord
Everybody's bosom friend
I do whatever pleases Jesus don't
I bleed them in the end!
Master of the House
Quick to catch yer eye
Never wants a passer by
To pass him by
Servant to the poor
Butler to the great
Comforter, philosopher
And lifelong mate
Everybody's boon companion
Everybody's chaperone
But look up your valises Jesus!
Won't I skin yer to the bone!
Enter M'sieur
Lay down yer load
Unlace yer boots
And rest from the road
This weighs a ton
Travel's a curse
But here we strive
To lighten your purse
Here the goose is cooked
Here the fat is fried
And nothing's overlooked
Till I'm satisfied
Food beyond compare
Food beyond belief
Mix it in a mincer
And pretend it's beef
Kidney of a horse
Liver of a cat
Filling up the sausages
With this and that
Residents are more than welcome
Bridal suite is occupied
Reasonable charges plus some little extras on the side
Charge them for the lice
Extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
Here a little slice
There a little cut
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
When it comes to fixing prices
There are lots of tricks he knows
How it all increases
All them bits and pieces Jesus!
It's amazing how it grows!
Master of the House
Quick to catch yer eye
Never wants a passer by
To pass him by
Servant to the poor
Butler to the great
Comforter, philosopher
And lifelong mate
Everybody's boon companion
Gives them everything he's got
Dirty bunch of geezers Jesus!
What a sorry little lot!
I used to dream
That I would meet a prince
But God Almighty,
Have you seen what's happened since?
`Master of the house?'
Isn't worth me spit!
`Comforter, philosopher'
- and lifelong shit!
Cunning little brain
Regular Voltaire
Thinks he's quite a lover
But there's not much there
What a cruel trick of nature
Landing me with such a louse!
God knows how I've lasted
Living with this bastard in the house!
Master of the house.
Master and a half!
Comforter, philosopher
Ah, don't make me laugh!
Servant to the poor. Butler to the great.
Hypocrite and toady and inebriate!
Everybody bless the landlord!
Everybody bless his spouse!
Everybody raise a glass
Raise it up the master's arse.
Everybody raise a glass to the master of the house!

Business License- Occupancy Permit?

Fraud and Misrepresentation

Slander per se

False statements



Violation of ABC law and regulation-adulteration of product
Breach of Bailment


Predatory pricing-bait and switch

Food service violations
Food labeling fraud, Violation of sanitation regulations.  Illegal treatment of animals…..etc,

Bait and Switch

Food and hospitality law violations

Deceptive pricing practices

Age discrimination in commerce

YouTube “Master of the House” 10th Anniversary performance Les Misérables.

Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day: Brown v. Board of Education

Today is the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth and his life and legacy.  In honor of his vision and his accomplishments, below please find videos on Brown v. Board of Education that you may find a place for in your classes.

From the PBS Documentary on the Supreme Court:

The song: