Friday, April 29, 2011

A Copyright Maze: Swing Era Jazz Recordings

A recent ABA Journal article discusses the formidable copyright hurdles involved in making historic swing era jazz recordings widely available. The article refers to the vast collection of sound engineer William Savory that includes recordings of legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and Lester Young. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem eventually acquired the collection. The heart of the copyright problem is tracking down all those who might have a copyright interest in the recordings and be entitled to royalties.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ohio Man Barking at Dog: Free Speech?

A Mason, Ohio, man entered a plea of not guilty in municipal court last week, after allegedly barking at a K-9 in a squad car. Ryan Stephens' lawyer argues that barking is free speech.

According to the police report, Stephens claimed that "the dog started it."

Middletown Journal

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Congressional Twitter Stats

The website's current tally of Congressional members on Twitter: 233 Republicans, 167 Democrats, and 2 independents. TweetCongress allows users to track Congressional tweets in real time. As we previously noted, Twitter donated its digital archive of public tweets to the Library of Congress last year. At the time, the LOC indicated that it would not post the archive online, but envisioned posting selected content around certain topics or themes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Petition Examines GPS Monitoring

Last year, a federal appeals court ruled that police officers must obtain a warrant before using a GPS (global positioning system) to track a suspect's movements for an extended period of time.

Antoine Jones was tracked for a month with a GPS device attached to his car. His conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base was overturned, the court ruling that the extended monitoring violated Jones' reasonable expectation of privacy.

Now, the Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

The D.C. Circuit's opinion can be found here.

The Justice Department's petition to the Supreme Court can be found here.

More news and commentary on the petition:

ABA Journal

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog


Monday, April 25, 2011

Free Daily Opinion Summaries from recently announced the release of its free daily opinion summaries service. The summaries are available for the U.S. Supreme Court, all federal circuit courts of appeals, and numerous state supreme courts including the Ohio Supreme Court. Weekly summaries by practice area are also available. Users can receive the summaries via email after signing up for a free Justia account. Justia has provided an example of a daily summary for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Users can link from the summary to the full-text of the opinion in PDF form.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Update on Lawsuits

Several lawsuits discussed here in the past few months are no longer going forward:

The Taco Bell is-it-really-beef lawsuit has been withdrawn. In response, Taco Bell has taken out ads in 10 newspapers, asking for an apology.

The lawsuit against the TSA by a Colorado attorney who objected to the full-body scans and pat-downs has been dismissed without prejudice.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The FOIA Project

Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) has created a new website called The FOIA Project that seeks to "bring transparency to the process by which the U.S. Government withholds information." The project initially features documents from Freedom of Information Act cases filed in U.S. District Court since October 1, 2009. Users can browse FOIA cases by geographic location or search for specific cases by key word, filing date, case number, district court, or party.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Motion for Continuance Due to Baby: Granted

Defendants requested a continuance due to the fact that the wife of one of the attorneys was due to give birth in Texas shortly after the trial was set to begin in Kansas.

Such a motion might have gone unnoticed by the rest of the world, were it not for the fact that plaintiffs opposed it, claiming (among other things) that defendants should have known of the due date at the time of the scheduling conference last fall. In his order, the judge stated:

For reasons of good taste which should be (though, apparently, are not) too obvious to explain, the Court declines to accept Plaintiffs' invitation to speculate on the time of conception of [the attorney's] child.

The order granting the continuance can be found here.

Hat tip to Lowering the Bar.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Outdoor Reading Room to Open in Downtown Columbus

An outdoor reading "room" is scheduled to open at the end of May as part of downtown's Columbus Commons park (where City Center mall once stood). Columbus Metropolitan Library will provide free Wi-Fi while the non-profit Friends of the Library organization will provide free reading material from a selection of overstock and discarded books. See the story from the Dispatch. Maybe this is a good relaxation option for those working downtown this summer.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Antifreeze Bittering Bill

Recently-introduced Ohio S.B. 140 would require engine coolant and antifreeze sold in Ohio and containing at least 10% ethylene glycol to also contain a bittering agent. This "aversive agent" would make the solution unpalatable to animals and children. A growing number of states have passed or are considering similar legislation. Comparable federal bills have been introduced in each of the last four Congressional sessions, though none have come to a vote. See the Ohio Legislative Service Commission's initial analysis of the bill.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Digitizing Ohio Civil War Memories

In honor of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Ohio History Service Corps is offering free digitizing of two-dimensional Civil War objects, such as photographs and letters.

The items will then be included in the Ohio Memory Community Collection, and participants will receive their own archival digital image of their objects.

The program runs through July 31, 2011.

More here and here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Harvard Law School Exams, 1871-1998

Want to know what exams Harvard law students faced in 1876? The answer is now only a couple clicks away. Harvard Law Library has digitized nearly all of the law school's exams through 1998. Only 1995/1996 is missing from the set.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Lawsuit: Gender-Change Issues

El-Jai Devoureau was born physically female, but has identified as male for years. His driver's license and birth certificate (re-issued by the state of Georgia) also identify him as male. Mr. Devoureau was fired from his job as a monitor at a drug treatment center and told that only a man could monitor other men.

Michael Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund says that this is the first employment case to deal with the question of the sex of a transgender person. New Jersey, where Mr. Devoureau worked at the treatment center, is one of a handful of states to ban discrimination based on transgender status.

New York Times

ABA Journal

Monday, April 11, 2011

Entertaining Case Titles

A recent Texas Bar Journal article reviews interesting and unusual case titles from across the country. Some of the cases included are: Schmuck v. United States, Death v. Graves (in which motorcycle accident victim Alan Death lives), Easter Seals Society for Crippled Children v. Playboy Enterprises, United States v. Vampire Nation, and United States v. 2,116 Boxes of Boned Beef, etc. The author provides citations for curious readers.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Five Worst Supreme Court Cases

Pepperdine School of Law recently held a symposium on the "most maligned" U.S. Supreme Court cases in history. Legal scholars discussed the following cases: Dred Scott v. Sandford, Korematsu v. United States, Plessy v. Ferguson, Buck v. Bell, and Erie v. Tompkins. See the LA Times coverage of the event. According to Pepperdine's website, video of the conference will soon be available online.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Lawsuits on Candy, Mice, Green Lantern

A few new and unusual lawsuits:

A mother is suing the Chicago public schools and a teacher who allegedly made fun of her daughter's hairstyle (an elaborate one incorporating Jolly Rancher candy) on Facebook.

A man has sued Monster Beverage Co., claiming he found a mouse at the bottom of his can of Monster Energy. The company has called the suit "frivolous and unfounded," and said there is virtually no way for a mouse to get into a can in the production line.

A special effects worker is suing Warner Bros. and others for injuries alleged to have taken place in July 2010 on the set of the upcoming Green Lantern movie.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fiesta Bowl Scandal

College football's Fiesta Bowl has recently become engulfed in a scandal. Allegations include the improper reimbursement of employees for thousands of dollars in political campaign contributions. An initial investigation conducted by a former Arizona attorney general found no credible evidence of wrongdoing. However, when an employee later came forward with more information, a special committee of the Bowl hired the Minneapolis-based law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi to conduct a more thorough inquiry. The firm's recently released report shows substantial evidence of the improper reimbursements as well as numerous extravagant expenditures including strip club visits, a lavish 50th birthday party for the now-sacked CEO, and gold bullion gifts to employees. provides a good overview of the emerging scandal. The Arizona Republic originally broke the story and provides an update on the ethical implications for certain state legislators.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Civil War Pictures, Events

April 12th (one week from today) marks the beginning of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The Library of Congress is commemorating the event with a special exhibition: "The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection." The collection contains over 700 ambrotype and tintype photographs of Union and Confederate soldiers.

More on the collection.

Washington Post article.

For those who cannot make it to Washington, you can view the pictures here, or participate in one of the many Ohio sesquicentennial events, listed here.

Monday, April 04, 2011

D.C.'s Emancipation Holiday Moves Tax Day

Here's some good news for procrastinating federal income tax filers. This year's filing deadline is April 18 due to the celebration of Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia on Friday the 15th. The IRS explains that the normal deadline is April 15 except when that date is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. "Legal holiday" includes holidays in the District of Columbia. Emancipation Day marks the anniversary of Lincoln's signing of the District of Columbia Emancipation Act, which in 1862 freed those held as slaves within D.C. (while also providing compensation to slave owners). The holiday is usually on April 16. However, D.C. law provides that when April 16 is a Saturday, the previous Friday is the official holiday. Emancipation Day has been an official holiday in D.C. only since 2005. In 2007, the holiday had a similar effect on the tax-filing deadline.

Friday, April 01, 2011

New iPhone App from Oyez Project

The Oyez Project has teamed with Chicago-Kent College of Law to launch OyezToday, a new app providing up-to-date information about U.S. Supreme Court cases. Users can quickly access the latest Supreme Court opinions or listen to oral argument audio synchronized with the transcript. Check out the preview on iTunes. The app is free.