Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ohio Fireworks Laws

With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, celebratory fireworks are in the news.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety has an interactive map, showing the kinds of fireworks allowed in each state.

Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3743: Fireworks

State Fire Marshal's Fireworks Redbook

Fireworks Safety:

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

National Council on Fireworks Safety

Ohio and fireworks in the news:

Chillicothe Gazette


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Last Opinions of the Term

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its final opinions of the term. In a case that has received much press, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Ass'n, the Court struck down a California ban on the sale of violent video games to minors.

More on all of the opinions:



New York Times

Wall Street Journal

The cases:

Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown

J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Ass’n

Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett

United States v. Juvenile Male

Monday, June 27, 2011

The [Alexander] Hamilton Mixtape

Snap along with "The Hamilton Mixtape," a founding father tribute performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda at the White House a couple years ago. Apparently it appears during the closing credits of a film on Hamilton recently aired by PBS. Thanks to The Volokh Conpiracy for its write-up of the film and YouTube clip.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Suing over Three Cups of Tea

In April, 60 Minutes raised questions about Greg Mortenson's book, Three Cups of Tea, including the veracity of some of the stories in it, and whether Mortenson's charity, the Central Asia Institute, is properly run.

Now, a federal lawsuit has been filed in Illinois, alleging violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. This is not the first lawsuit regarding the book--another was filed in Montana, and class-action status is sought for both of them, so they may be joined by purchasers of Mortenson's book.

CBS News



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Man Commits Robbery of $1 for Health Care

A man desperate for health care for several physical ailments planned a bank robbery of one dollar. Previously law-abiding, he handed a note to a bank teller, then sat to wait for the police. He also sent a letter to a local newspaper, calling himself "of sound mind but not so much sound body," so that it would be clear that his true motivation was getting medical care, not money from the bank.

Gaston Gazette

The Volokh Conspiracy

Huffington Post

LA Times Blog

Hat tip: Sentencing Law and Policy Blog

Monday, June 20, 2011

Opinion in Wal-Mart Sex Discrimination Case

Today, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Wal-Mart v. Dukes.

Although the Court was unanimous that the class should not be certified, there was a 5-4 split as to the scope of that decision.


The Volokh Conspiracy


Wall Street Journal MarketBeat Blog

CBS MoneyWatch

Forbes Blog

Friday, June 17, 2011

SCOTUS: Youths and Miranda

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that age is a relevant factor to consider as to whether a child is "in custody" for the purposes of Miranda warnings. The majority opinion was written by Justice Sotomayor and joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Kennedy. The dissent was written by Justice Alito and joined by the Chief Justice, and Justices Scalia and Thomas.

J.D.B. v. North Carolina

Additional information and commentary:


PBS NewsHour

WSJ Law Blog


Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Resume Tips

The resume advice that worked five years ago might not be so helpful today. Here are a few recent articles on current resume trends:

CNNMoney: This one is aimed at executive resumes, but most of the tips would be applicable to other types, as well.

Chicago Tribune

Wall Street Journal (hat tip to Legal Skills Prof Blog)

And, with a focus on references,

The Boston Globe

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dictionaries for SCOTUS

A recent Marquette Law Review article by Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier and Samuel A. Thumma examined the Supreme Court's use of dictionaries in opinions.

From the abstract:

During Supreme Court Terms 2000–2001 through 2009–2010, the Justices have referenced dictionary definitions to define nearly 300 words or phrases. Yet the Court has never expressly explained the proper role and use of the dictionary in American jurisprudence. The Article studies the frequency and the approach the Justices have taken to citing dictionaries in the new century, and it considers the Court’s lack of a reasoned process for selecting or using dictionaries.

The article has also led to a piece in the New York Times by Adam Liptak, pointing out one of the most recent uses of a dictionary: Justice Roberts examined the meaning of the word "of" in the case of Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.:

That reading follows from a common definition of the word “of.” See Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1565 (2002) (“of” can be “used as a function word indicating a possessive relationship”); New Oxford American Dictionary 1180 (2d ed. 2005) (defining “of” as “indicating an association between two entities, typically one of belonging”); Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary 1241 (2d ed. 1979) (defining “of” as “belonging to”).

Stanford’s reading of the phrase “invention of the contractor” to mean “all inventions made by the contractor’s employees” is plausible enough in the abstract; it is often the case that whatever an employee produces in the course of his employment belongs to his employer. No one would claim that an autoworker who builds a car while working in a factory owns that car. But, as noted, patent law has always been different: We have rejected the idea that mere employment is sufficient to vest title to an employee’s invention in the employer. Against this background, a contractor’s invention—an “invention of the contractor”—does not automatically include inventions made by the contractor’s employees.

More on the use of dictionaries by the Supreme Court:

Abstract of the article

New York Times

Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog

The Volokh Conspiracy

ABA Journal

Above the Law

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today in Supreme Court History and an Update

On June 14, 1943, the Supreme Court decided the case of West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, holding that it was unconstitutional to compel children to salute the American flag in public schools.

From the majority opinion, written by Justice Jackson:

The case is made difficult not because the principles of its decision are obscure, but because the flag involved is our own. Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

Full opinion at Justia

More on the case:


And an update from last week:

Forever 21 threatened to sue blogger Rachel Kane unless she took down her satirical blog by June 10. Although Kane originally said she would be taking it down, she has decided to continue blogging, arguing that her criticism of Forever 21 is fair use, and that her blog does not lead to confusion about whether it is affiliated with the fashion retailer.

New York Magazine

Time NewsFeed

Friday, June 10, 2011

More Oral Argument on New Health Care Law

C-SPAN has archived the health care oral argument from Wednesday in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Note that the argument does not actually begin until about 16 seconds into the recording.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Newspaper Map of the World

The website, newspaper map, uses Google Maps to provide convenient access to a multitude of newspapers throughout the world. Visitors to the site can simply click on a city to link to the local newspaper's website. It's also possible to link directly to a newspaper's presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Newspapers are available in the local language with the ability to quickly translate pages into English or other languages using Google Translate (translations are imperfect).

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Legal News: Bloggers, Disney, Coffee

Lawsuits pending, settled, and new.

1. Retailer Forever 21 has threatened to sue Rachel Kane, author of a blog lambasting some of the company's more "unfortunate" designs.

Kane has a disclaimer and numerous links to Forever 21, and even writes weekly posts devoted to Forever 21 items she likes, but the company has given her until June 10 to shut down the blog or face a lawsuit.

New York Magazine


Hat tip: Blog Law Blog

2. A Pennsylvania woman has settled her lawsuit against Disney, for an undisclosed amount. She claimed that during a 2008 visit to Epcot, she was groped by a park employee in a Donald Duck costume.

The Hollywood Reporter

The Mercury

3. A different Pennsylvania woman has sued Dunkin Donuts for allegedly putting sugar in her coffee instead of artificial sweetener. Danielle Jordan, a diabetic, claims the sugar triggered a reaction which ultimately sent her to the hospital with diabetic shock.

The Boston Globe

Monday, June 06, 2011

Appellate Argument Tips from Fifth Circuit Chief Judge

In a brief video interview for Texas Lawyer, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edith Jones provides advice for oral argument preparation. Judge Jones is apparently the court's most vigorous questioner and dislikes when attorneys refer to the court's judges as "you guys."

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Sixth Circuit Hears Individual Mandate Health Care Argument

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument yesterday in a case involving the constitutionality of the individual mandate aspect of the new health care law. The appellate panel included Moritz alum, the Hon. Jeffrey S. Sutton. The court has posted oral argument audio on its website for both the motion to dismiss on procedural grounds and the merits.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Illinois Public Domain Citation

The Illinois Supreme Court announced yesterday the creation of a public domain citation system for Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Court opinions. The court will no longer contract with private publishers to produce bound print volumes of the opinions. The opinions will reside at the Illinois Supreme Court website, freely accessible to the public. See coverage from Legal Research Plus and the Illinois State Bar Association, which reports that the change will save Illinois taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. About a dozen other states, including Ohio, have adopted a public domain citation system.