Thursday, February 28, 2013

Battery with a Burrito

A Florida man, Erik Brown, 36, was jailed after he allegedly threw a Taco Bell burrito into the face of his young brother-in-law.  Although the teen was not injured, he did sustain burrito fillings on his face and clothes.

According to the police report, the teenager did express fears for his future safety, which were probably not assuaged by Brown's assertions at the scene.

The Smoking Gun, including a link to the police report

Fox Charlotte

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gulf Oil Spill Trial

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial began on Monday. Because of the great public interest in the case, many of the trial documents are available online. Bloomberg Law also has the dockets available. (Remember to log into your Bloomberg Law account before clicking that last link to be directed to the two dockets.)

A simple search of Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg turns up hundreds of cases related to the oil spill, which of course involves some of the most complex litigation that exists. Keeping the procedural aspects and parties alone straight is a tremendous challenge. If it's an area you're considering for practice, check out some of our books on the subject. One in particular has applicability for a variety of trials: The Trial War Room Handbook : Effective Strategies from the Trenches.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oscar Pistorius and the Law of South Africa

Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.  With the Pistorius case making international news, and the shooting taking place in South Africa, you might be interested in some resources on South African law:

South Africa: Guide to Law Online at the Law Library of Congress.

At our own library, you can find materials on South African law in our catalog by doing a subject search (such as Law - South Africa) or doing a keyword search.  Here are some examples of what you might find:

Introduction to the Law of South Africa

Dignity, Freedom and the Post-Apartheid Legal Order: The Critical Jurisprudence of Laurie Ackermann

Essays on Law and Social Practice in South Africa

Traditional African Religions in South Africa Law

You can also find legal periodicals such as the South Africa Law Journal and Acta Juridica.

Keyword searches can also you to chapters or articles that are part of a larger work. For example, World Criminal Justice Systems: A Comparative Survey has a chapter on South Africa.

Finally, more news on the Pistorius case:

CNN

ABC News

NPR

Monday, February 25, 2013

Copyright Law and Amoeba Records

I'm a sucker for a good copyright law story, as you may have surmised based on previous blog posts. I think it's because regardless of your chosen field of law, it's an area that touches your life on a regular basis. I have yet to need a divorce or criminal attorney, but I often second-guess the legal ramifications of my online actions when it comes to downloading images and music.

So here's another story about copyright law:

Amoeba Records, a music store in Los Angeles and elsewhere that allows trade-ins and sells vintage vinyl, has begun digitizing old songs and whole albums, then selling them on their Vinyl Vaults page on their website. You may be morally opposed to this activity as the original musicians and rights holders are unlikely to see a dime from the endeavor. On the other hand, you may see it as a fortuitous way for unknowns to finally get the spotlight they deserve.

As an attorney, however, you're obligated to comply with the law on downloading illegally copied/digitized music. One facet of this story may be whether or not the works Amoeba is digitizing ever had copyright protection in the first place. Another facet concerns whether the works' copyrights have expired.

Friday, February 22, 2013

3-D You

Ever wanted a life-sized action figure of yourself or your favorite professor? 3-D printing may be the answer to your prayers.

Old laws, however, nonetheless apply to new technologies as copyright claims are becoming the norm for folks printing 3-D busts of iconic, copyright protected characters such as Yoda.

NPR has more on this developing legal arena.

Other possible legal questions associated with this technology? Rights of publicity (think Beyoncé action figures) and secondary liability for the companies that create the printers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Most Depressing Books in the Law Library?

On Monday I was browsing the shelves of the law library, and I think I've discovered the most depressing set of books we own. The books are in the section that houses the call number KF311.Z9, which I can only assume is the Library of Congress classification for books with the subject "Lawyers stink."

The books have titles like, "How to Hire an Honest Lawyer---and Other Oxymorons," "The Terrible Truth About Lawyers: How Lawyers Really work and How to Deal with Them Successfully," "Taming the Lawyers," "Legal Street Smarts: How to Survive In a World of Lawyers," and "Mad at Your Lawyer?"

Books like these may only reinforce the smarmy reputation often associated with attorneys, but take heart: reading up on these portrayals of attorneys just may help you avoid common mistakes that frustrate clients and give rise to attorneys' bad reputations. For example, when the books note that attorneys regularly fail to adequately communicate with clients, reflect on where this perception might come from. "Timely" and "regular" communication are relative terms, and if your client has never worked with an attorney before, it might help if you explain with specificity what you mean when you say that you will be in touch with the client "soon."

In other words, reading the books listed above may help you anticipate the difficulties you may encounter as you and your client work together. A few minutes reading these may just be the secret to avoiding hours of reading these.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Child Custody Dispute Over Toddler Concludes

The ABA Journal reports on a Utah couple who adopted a child, then lost custody of the child to the birth father. Over the course of almost two years, custody of the child was in dispute, and the adoptive parents have decided to abandon their appeal and allow the child to return to her birth father, though they have parented the 21-month-old child for her entire life. It's a complicated story for a number of reasons.

Curious to learn how this kind of case might be resolved in Ohio? We have a few resource guides here in the library:

Ohio Adoption Law
Adoption Law in Ohio
What's New in Adoption Law

You can also read the sections on adoption laws in Ohio Jurisprudence in Westlaw and Lexis:

Westlaw: 47 Ohio Jur. 3d Family Law § 870
Lexis: 47 Oh Jur Family Law § 870

Friday, February 15, 2013

Jeweler Tiffany Suing for Trademark Infringement

The jeweler Tiffany® may seem like one of those companies that regularly pops up in the news suing companies left and right for trademark infringement and related issues, but Tiffany® is not alone. Other companies are notorious for going after alleged trademark infringers. (Think Mattel® and all the litigation you've heard about over the years related to Barbie®.)

Sometimes it seems a company will sue for anything, but did you know there's actually an explanation rooted in the law rather than simply a desire to crush the competition? The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not pursue alleged infringers on behalf of trademark registrants, and failure to police one's own mark could, in a worst case scenario, result in the registrant losing its trademark. That's because a failure to make others aware that you own the mark (i.e., a failure to police your mark) may be evidence that you've abandoned your mark. (Refer to footnote three on page three of that last link for an example.)

Unfortunately, aggressively policing one's mark can result in pursuing folks who aren't infringing at all, potentially stepping on their free speech rights. This comes up often in cases where defendants are artists alleging fair use (see bullet point 10 for an example).

Fair use is not a likely defense for Costco® in this case, however, but you might be interested in following the case to watch for Costco's next move. For more on the Tiffany® v. Costco® case, check out Bloomberg Law. (Make sure you're logged in before clicking the link.)

For more on trademark law, head to the third floor of the library, turn right at the top of the stairs, and check out the books that start with the call number KF 3180. You can also go to the reserve room behind the circulation desk and find trademark law treatises and study aids around the call number KF 3180.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Amish Beard-Cutters Sentenced

Amish bishop Samuel Mullet and fifteen of his followers were sentenced last Friday for their hair- and beard-cutting hate crimes against perceived enemies of their breakaway sect.  Mullet received a sentence of fifteen years, while his followers, including three of his sons, received lower sentences ranging from a year and a day to seven years.

Some past coverage at the Moritz Legal Information Blog

FBI Press Release

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Sentencing Law and Policy

Huffington Post

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Contest! Win up to $5,000

The U.S. Supreme Court is kind of a big thing to many lawyers (and Americans). Did you know there's a whole blog devoted the Court? SCOTUSblog (an acronym for Supreme Court of the United States) is a journalistic site that has comprehensive, up-to-the-minute news reporting on all Supreme Court activities. It also posts pleadings and opinions in cases if you ever need a quick and easy way to track those documents down.

Bloomberg Law and SCOTUSblog have now partnered together to offer a contest that could win you up to $5,000. Pick up to four of your closes Moritz law pals, register as a team by February 28, then try to outsmart the experts at predicting the outcomes of judicial decisions this coming March.

The contest site offers some research suggestions and tips, but feel free to stop by the library for additional suggestions on resources that might help you win!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ohio State Bar Exam

The February 2013 bar exam is just around the corner (Feb. 26-28), but there is no reason to panic. If you've studied and practiced, you'll be fine. It may be the worst thing you'll ever have to do, but you'll survive. People do it all the time.

One word of caution, however: the bar examiners take the time limits very seriously. Here in Ohio, the Supreme Court recently denied admission to a test-taker who continued writing for 30-60 seconds after time was called on several questions. The good news for those of you sitting for the exam shortly is that this is an easily avoidable mistake. Trust that you prepared appropriately, and you should do just fine.

For those of you already contemplating the July exam, we have a research guide on the subject. The guide includes helpful books and strategies, practice tools for the multi-state portion, and links to past essay exams from the Ohio State Bar.

Good luck!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Ohio Youth Sports Concussion Bill Soon to Take Effect

Effective April 26th of this year, young athletes in Ohio must immediately be pulled from a game if they exhibit symptoms of a concussion.

Sparked by increasing awareness of the long-ranging consequences of concussions, H.B. 143 requires education for coaches and referees, and states that players with concussions may not return to practice or games unless cleared by a physician.

More about H.B. 143

Guidelines at the Ohio Department of Health

Columbus Dispatch

Akron Legal News

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Best News Story of the Day

"A new American hero is born" announces Lowering the Bar.  The hero?  A hitchhiker known only as "Kai," who was picked up by a driver who declared himself to be Jesus before driving his car into a utility worker. 

When two women hurried over to help, the driver attacked one of them, and Kai fended him off with a hatchet. 

You can also see the local news report at Lowering the Bar, which is well worth it because of Kai's dramatic reenactment.  The utility worker was rushed to the hospital for surgery, but his injuries are not life-threatening.

Time: Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker Defeats Racist Jesus

Friday, February 01, 2013

Driving in Ohio

I just got my Ohio drivers license, and believe it or not, I had to take the driving portion and the written portion of the test. (Never let your license expire lest you face my fate!)

In the process of prepping for the written portion of the exam, which all out-of-state license holders must take if they need an Ohio license, I learned a few things about Ohio driving laws. In perusing the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws, I learned the following: (1) it is permissible to take roadkill home (be it deer or other creature) so long as you report it "to a game protector or other law enforcement officer within 24 hours;" (2) you can only make a left turn on red if you are turning from a one-way street to a one-way street; and (3) "Persons under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both are prohibited from walking on highways."

Knowing the traffic laws can keep you safe, but they're also important if you're ever a defense attorney. Your knowledge of the point laws (pp. 48-50 in the Digest) may mean the difference between a client losing his or her license (and potentially their job as a result) or simply paying higher fees or facing probation.

Traffic law is a big area of practice, and it's a great way for solos to develop an area of expertise and steady work---who doesn't know a person or four with a few traffic tickets in their past? The library has a great set for you to start building your traffic law knowledge before you set up a practice: