Monday, November 24, 2014

More Bad Lawyer Ads

Just to be clear, it's the ads that are bad.  I make no representations about the lawyers.

It's Thanksgiving break week, so there are no substantive posts this week. But in keeping with tradition, there are bad ads. Click here for earlier posts in the series.

It is basketball season, after all:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Let's Amend The Constitution

Social protest from the Rockport Maine Opera House, Nov. 9, 2014.

"Five old guys in judges' robes, sold our country down the road... Let's amend the Constitution"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thought Provoking Law Quote: Judge Jerome Frank

Federal Court of Appeals Judge Jerome Frank was one of the leading writers in the Jurisprudence of Legal Realism. His 1949 work, Courts on Trial, is still relevant today as a critique on the ability of our trial system to effectively dispense justice.  From Chapter 6 of that work, The "Fight" Theory vs. The "Truth" Theory:

In short, the lawyer aims at victory, at winning in the fight, not at aiding the court to discover the facts. He does not want the trial court to reach a sound educated guess, if it is likely to be contrary to his client's interests. Our present trial method is thus the equivalent of throwing pepper in the eyes of a surgeon when he is performing an operation.
                                      -Judge Jerome Frank, Courts on Trial, 1949

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Irony of Our Times Seen Through NY Times

In the Thursday, November 13, 2014 edition of the NY Times, the following two articles appeared on page 17:

In Death of Dogs, a Human Story of Loss and Intrigue; Dog owners were understandable upset when, after leaving their dogs for boarding last June, they died tragically holed up in a 9-by-12 foot room with no functioning air conditioner. "The community has been behind us on this," said one of the owners.

Florida Finds Tricky Balance Over Feeding of the Homeless: A 90 year old WWII vet started a charity in remembrance of his deceased wife through which he provides food to the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. As a result, he has been cited several times for violation of a city ordinance against feeding the homeless in public places. According to the article, local businesses and the chambers of commerce would like the homeless population to be less visible.

So, in one article, the community is understandably up in arms over the inhumane treatment of beloved family pets.  In the other article, the pillars of the business community are up in arms over the humane treatment of their fellow humans.  And in each case, the law supports "the community."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

He Fades Away: Law's Remedy Too Little, Too Late

I know that I have posted this song before, but the video has been removed from YouTube, so I am re-upping, with options in case it happens again.

He Fades Away was written by Alistair Hulett and illuminates the position of a miners' wife as she watches her husband slowly die of mesothelioma. This was the fate of many who worked at the Wittenoom Blue Asbestos mine in Western Australia.

"There's  a man in my bed, they never told him,
The cost of bringing home his weekly pay.
When the courts decide how much they owe him,
How will he spend his money when he lies in bed and coughs his life away?"

To skip the introductions, start the video at 1:55:

Start this video at 0:35; end at 5:01:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Citizen's United in Song

More social/legal/political commentary from Roy Zimmerman.

"Citizens United puts the 'mock' in democracy."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thought Provoking Law Quote: Mitt Romney

Should government regulate business? According to Mitt Romney, CEO and former (and future?) Republican candidate for President of the United States, the answer is that "regulation is essential." It's just that the devil is in the details.

Regulation is essential.  You can't have a free market work if you don't have regulation. As a businessperson I had to have regula[tions]. I needed to know the regulations. I needed them there.  You couldn't have people opening up banks in their garage (sic) and making loans. I mean you have to have regulation so that you can have an economy work.  Every free economy has good regulation. At the same time, regulation can become excessive.

- Mitt Romney, Presidential Debate, Oct. 2012

Clip with context (first 0:45):

Short clip without the qualifying hedge line at the end:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

American Hustle Goes Libelous

In the movie American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence's character claims that the source of her belief that microwave ovens take all the nutrition out of food is an article written by Paul Brodeur. The real Brodeur is a science journalist who wrote for The New Yorker. But he never wrote such a scientifically erroneous proposition as was ascribed to him in the movie.  He claims the false attribution damages his reputation and has filed suit for libel in California state court.

The "Science Oven" allegedly libelous scene:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Falwell v. Hustler Supreme Court Oral Argument

There is great movie clip from The People v. Larry Flynt portraying the oral argument before the US Supreme Court in Hustler v. Falwell.

Unfortunately, I can't find an easily accessed public video of the whole argument.  The following video has part of it:

The video below has the whole audio part set to images of dogs as Supreme Court justices:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Business Ethics: The Brotherhood of Man

I know that I have posted this before, but I just completed a unit on ethics and wanted to share.

I tell students that they have to get to the point where acting ethically is not a decision but instinct.  You have to inherently derive joy from doing the right thing.  Adam Smith in the Theory of Moral Sentiments, which preceded The Wealth of Nations, said that people will be inherently moral because it brings them joy to do so. Therefore, the basis of the free market economic theory is that everyone, inherently, as if "guided by an invisible hand," acts morally.

Ultimately, it is all about being part of the Brotherhood of Man:

Click image below:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thought Provoking Law Quote: Abraham Lincoln

How often do we read or hear people saying that NOW we need to pay attention to business ethics. The implication is that recent events and actions have given rise to inequities, injustice and social detriment. However, a strong argument can be made that ethical challenges exist in the very fabric of a capitalist society and these issues have been worthy of attention from the very beginnings of an industrial society.

As the Civil War was winding down in 1864, President Lincoln began to look ahead to what he perceived as the next great crisis facing the nation.

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country.  . . .  Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Featured Article: NY Times - "Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General"

Speaking of lobbying, the front page of the NY Times recently featured an article about active and effective lobbying efforts targeting state Attorneys General on behalf of business interest.  Investigations and prosecutions literally melt away in the face of campaign contributions and face to face influence. Although our textbooks ignore this issue, the Legal Environment of Business includes examination of the political influence of business and its effect on law-making, business regulation and, apparently, law enforcement.

AACSB standard #9 requires that our undergraduate business students understand:

See also the Journal of Business and Politics.

Florida Attorney general Pam Bondi's contacts with lobbyists are described in the NY Times article.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

House Committee on Science Once Again Called Out For Denying Science

Legislatures make law.  But what makes legislatures make law? Of what is their law constituted? Logic? Reason? Justice? Science?  Where does "law" come from?

Click here for a prior post about legislators proudly displaying their ignorance of the things upon which they legislate.

Click here or on the image below to once again be flabbergasted:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Guest Blogger: Haskell Murray - Van Halen on Reading Contracts!

Today's post is submitted by J. Haskell Murray at Belmont University.

Van Halen on Reading Contracts

This is a video clip I use near the beginning of our unit on contracts in my Business Law and Legal Environment class.  The clip is light, relatively short, and is an industry (music) that many Belmont University students understand.  Through a story about a buried contractual clause prohibiting brown M&M’s in the back stage area, David Lee Roth (Van Halen) highlights the important point that everyone should read contracts carefully before they sign. I sometimes couple this with directions like “skip question 4; if you answer question 4 you will lose 5 points” in the middle of my normal directions on a quiz or test, just to drive the point home.  Many of my students expect to have lawyers to rely on in business, but I hope to communicate to my students that clients need to read and understand contracts they sign.  I also share examples of lawyers making drafting mistakes and how much lawyers charge for their time.   

Click here or here for additional links to this video in case the embedded video should be removed.