The U.S. Courts website now has Supreme Court podcasts of landmark cases, for those of you who are U.S. legal history junkies (or are volunteering in a school, trying to interest kids in U.S. legal history). So far, cases covered are:
Prosecutors all over the country have voiced concern that the razzle-dazzle forensics of the CSI shows have created unrealistic expectations about the power of technology to solve crime. The Maryland Court of Appeals has officially rebuffed the concern, at least for the time being. From Kenneth Gerald Stabb v. State of Maryland (PDF):
CRIMINAL LAW - JURY INSTRUCTIONS - STATE’S LACK OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE - Petitioner’s right to a fair trial by jury was violated, under the circumstances of this case, where the trial judge instructed preemptively the jury that there is “no legal requirement that the State utilize any specific investigative technique or scientific test to prove its case.” Although the language of this jury instruction is not impermissible per se, its use, where perhaps appropriate otherwise, ought to be restricted to cases where curative instructions are necessary. In this case, there was no necessity for a curative instruction, and the instruction, when given, served to relieve the State of its burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Court said that it "may revisit this view at such time as a proper case comes before us where it can be demonstrated by appropriate scholarly research that a 'CSI effect' has been found to exist by the relevant legal and/or scientific communities and its scope and effect can be relied upon to tailor an appropriate response through voir dire questions and/or jury instructions." The Court's holding is consistent with findings in the Washtenaw County. See "Washtenaw Study on Juror "CSI" Effect Gets National Attention."
California's budget forecast looks to be off by about $3.7 billion, according to the state's independent legislative budget analyst. So California's equivalent of a budget committee is proposing a sweeping package of reforms, including a sales tax on services. Along with a cuts in and simplification of the state's income tax, an adviser told The Economist that the tax reform would be “only very slightly more regressive” because the poor would get a sales-tax rebate and "rich people tend to spend more on services (on accountants, lawyers, fitness instructors, etc)."
The changes would have to be approved by California's voters. The super committee is aiming at next November's ballot. If California did adopt the proposed tax on services, it would join only a couple of other states in taxing legal services, and would be the only state with a substantial population to do so. (Florida and Massachusetts have passed a tax on services in the past, but both repealed the tax before it took effect.)
Canadian economist Miles Scorak who teaches at the University of Ottawa describes the connection at his blog, summarizing the findings of a study he conducted with Patrizio Piraino about a cohort of young Canadian men and their fathers:
The bottom line is that about 40% of us have at some point worked for exactly the same firm that at some point also employed our fathers. But if dad’s earnings put him in the top 25% these chances are above average, they start taking off if dad was in the top 5%, and reach the stratosphere for top earners. Almost 7 out of 10 sons of top earning dads had a job with his employer.
All parents want to help their children in whatever way they can. But top earners can do it more than others, and with more consequence: virtually guaranteeing, if not a lifetime of high earnings, at least a great start in life.
Several lawyers offered useful responses, but here's an interesting response from a nonlawyer:
I work for attorneys as a process server and I can say that my best and most laid-back clients are the ones working solo. They are more hands on, stay in contact with me in regards to service, and are much easier to get in contact with. The larger firms with multiple associates always seem to be in a rat race for partner.
When Plaintiff filled out the self-described "mandatory" application form, which specifically asked for his teaching intersets and qualifications, Plantiff revealed that he was not qualified -- he was neither interested in nor willing to teach courses for which MSU Law hired instructors.
Criminal lawyers and prosecutors know that sometimes the more details that are available, the more contradictory the pictures that can be painted about an alleged crime. If you are still interested in what might really have happened to the ex heir-presumptive to the French Presidency, the New York Review of Books has a nearly surreal run-down of the day DSK was arrested at JFK airport for the sexual assault of a hotel maid, in "What Really Happened to Strauss-Kahn?"
The New York Times says that the ABA's vetting process has deemed a significant number of Obama nominees "not qualified," and that a large percentage of those found not qualified are women and minorities:
The White House has chosen not to nominate any person the bar association deemed unqualified, so their identities and negative ratings have not been made public. But the association’s judicial vetting committee has opposed 14 of the roughly 185 potential nominees the administration asked it to evaluate, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The number of Obama prospects deemed “not qualified” already exceeds the total number opposed by the group during the eight-year administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; the rejection rate is more than three and a half times as high as it was under either of the previous two presidencies, documents and interviews show.
The story says that the demographic composition of the 14 prospects opposed by the panel has proved to be "awkward." The Times' source says nine are women (five of whom are white, two black, and two Hispanic), and pf the five men, one is white, two are black, and two are Hispanic.
Coming soon to the Internet, .xxx domain names for porn sites. But if you aren't in the porn business, you don't really want your name associated with an .xxx domain name. Which explains why universities and businesses are (or should be) snapping up .xxx domain names to protect their brand. At $200 a pop, it makes sense. Even assuming you could defend your trademark through legal action, it's much cheaper just to own the site.