"It was customary in the European Middle Ages, more precisely in the period of scholasticism which extended into early modern times, to designate the more celebrated among the doctors of theology and law by epithets or surnames which were supposed to express their characteristic excellence or dignity. The following list exhibits the principal surnames with the dates of death."
Court judgments are often long, dense and full of legal jargon. But in the English Family Court case of Lancashire County Council v A & B Mr Justice Peter Jackson has given a judgment carefully written to so that the children involved, and their mother, can understand it. [more inside]
From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
New York's highest court has redefined parenthood in a same-sex parenting case. (SLNYT) The Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in In the Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A. C.C. and Matter of Estrellita A. v. Jennifer D., that the non-married, ex-partner of a biological parent may seek custody or visitation rights of children they once agreed to conceive and raise as co-partners with their exes. The Court, in a 6-0 vote, said that given the legalization of same-sex marriages and other societal changes that have upset the notion of "parents" as being a married man and woman, it was time for it to abandon the precedent of its 1991 ruling in Matter of Alison D. v. Virginia M. [more inside]
International investors have a private court of appeal even in criminal matters - "A parallel legal universe, open only to corporations and largely invisible to everyone else, helps executives convicted of crimes escape punishment. [ISDS] operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret." (via) [more inside]
"Mr. Bertling, 56, said in an interview that he had not heard what he considered sexist remarks in his decades of practice. But after the fine, he asked a lawyer in his office if she had. She showed him inappropriate comments in deposition transcripts, but said she did not seek penalties for them because, like many female lawyers, she thought doing so was futile." As of this Monday, after months of debate, that may no longer be the case: Goodbye to 'Honeys' in Court, by Vote of American Bar Association. [more inside]
Martha's Vineyard is well known as an idyllic summer vacation spot, but all is not well on the island. Affordable housing is hard to find. Housing for seasonal workers is hard to find. 57% of the dwellings on island are seasonal... [more inside]
As authorized by law, the director of the Missouri State Public Defender office just used his authority to appoint the state's governor, Jay Nixon, as public defender counsel to an indigent. The director is authorized to appoint *any* member of the state bar to represent indigent defendants as a public defender; Jay Nixon is a member of the Missouri bar. This move is the latest in a battle over the governor's big cuts to the public defender department: $3.5 million cut from a $4.5 million budget, leaving the public defender system unable to provide anything other than brief, cursory counsel, which may not meet the requirements of the law.
A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice. (Platform, Downloads/Briefing)
Law professor Zephyr Teachout first rose to prominence as the director of internet organizing for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. She's published the acclaimed political history book Corruption in America. In 2014 she primaried Andrew Cuomo from the left, winning half of NY's counties despite Cuomo refusing to even mention her name. And now? She's running for Congress. [more inside]
"What do you say to a police officer who tells you to stop when you are legally and not obstructively filming their interactions?" [more inside]
Women Were Included in the Civil Rights Act as a Joke And a racist joke, at that. But working women and black civil rights lawyers had the last laugh when they brought women’s workplace rights to the courts and won.
Rolling out the red carpet on the streets of New York comes at a price — those who fail to “submit an official permit application to the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting no less than two weeks prior to the date of the event” can expect to pay up to $24,000 in fines for each unveiling.How Many Of These Strange & Obscure NYC Laws Have You Broken?
As the rich get richer, trouble continues to brew for law schools in the United States. [more inside]
The Supreme Court has issued its opinion in Utah v. Strieff (pdf actual opinion), holding essentially that an active warrant remedies an unconstitutional stop. [more inside]
Vitalik Buterin invented the world's hottest new cryptocurrency and inspired a movement — before he'd turned 20 - "I think a large part of the consequence is necessarily going to be disempowering some of these centralized players to some extent because ultimately power is a zero sum game. And if you talk about empowering the little guy, as much as you want to couch it in flowery terminology that makes it sound fluffy and good, you are necessarily disempowering the big guy. And personally I say screw the big guy. They have enough money already." [more inside]
On Wednesday, The New York City Parks Department decided to continue allowing women-only swimming hours at a public indoor pool in Williamsburg, a heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn. An anonymous complaint had previously led the city’s Commission on Human Rights to notify the parks department that the policy violated the law, but supporters of the women's only hours state that disbanding 'Women's Swim' "would be akin to banning Hasidic women from the pool altogether."
“I thought, as most lawyers do when they get their first tree case: ‘How hard can it be?’” [more inside]
Billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel is the formerly anonymous money-man behind Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker.
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
Your long wait is over. Public service announcement: as of Tuesday, you can finally own Cop Rock on a triple DVD box. NYT: Sometimes “worst” is a misnomer for “ahead of its time.” On Tuesday Shout! Factory releases “Cop Rock: The Complete Series,” a three-disc package that provides a chance to revisit this TV curiosity. Watching the 11 episodes — the original 16-episode order was truncated when the show didn’t generate ratings — is fascinating, and not always in a train wreck way. When “Cop Rock” worked, though that was only intermittently, it worked quite well. Previously.
"As The Encyclopedia of Surfing also points out: "Visiting surfers since the early 1970s have had rocks thrown at them while walking down the cliffside Lunada trail, and returned from the water to find their car windows broken and their tires slashed — the work of local surfers, the sons of millionaires, determined to keep their break free of outsiders." -- L.A. Weekly's Hillel Aron asks, Can a Cop, a Model and Two Lawyers Break a Surf Gang’s 45-Year Grip on Lunada Bay?
Axanar is a planned feature film set within the Star Trek universe, following on the short film Prelude to Axanar. Paramount and CBS sued the film’s producers, alleging that the fan film infringes on the studios’ copyrights in Star Trek. Yesterday, the Language Creation Society filed an amicus brief (.pdf), written by Mark Randazza, in Paramount v. Axanar, to oppose Paramount’s claim of owning a copyright in the Klingon language.
Elizabeth Warren has a great idea for making Tax Day less painful - "She's taking on TurboTax and other predatory companies." [more inside]
In only the second case decided since the recent death of Justice Scalia, the United States Supreme Court today reached a decision [PDF] in the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, deadlocking in a four-to-four tie that upholds an earlier circuit court ruling finding agency fees for non-union teachers to be constitutional, but that sets no precedent for future cases. [more inside]
"They also don’t really have the will. They’re really nervous about it, very trepidatious." Jesse Eisinger outlines why we're seeing fewer successful actions against corporate and white collar misdoings in the United States.
Highlighted is the Thompson memo of 2003. [more inside]
Highlighted is the Thompson memo of 2003. [more inside]
The North Carolina General Assembly held a special session today to limit the power of municipalities. House Bill 2 would eliminate every non-discrimination ordinance in North Carolina, including a recent decision in Charlotte to uphold individuals' freedom to use public restrooms according to their gender identity. [more inside]
When juveniles are found guilty of sexual misconduct, the sex-offender registry can be a life sentence.--Longform by Sarah Stillman in the New Yorker.
Dawn Porter's Trapped documentary about the effect of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws opens in NYC, LA and DC today, more theaters around the US next week. [more inside]
How do you quantify the effects of things that don't happen to you? "The whole point of living in a culture is that much of the labor of perception and judgment is done for you, spread through media, and absorbed through an imperceptible process that has no single author." (previously; via)
A battle over triplets raises difficult questions about the ethics of the surrogacy industry and the meaning of parenthood. (slSlate)
Meet the "rented white coats" who defend toxic chemicals: How corporate-funded research corrupts America's courts and regulatory agencies. [more inside]
A Colleague Drank My Breast Milk And Other Wall Street Tales I kept the conversation light. I shared a funny story about my first day on Wall Street, when I opened up a pizza box to find condoms instead of pepperoni slices. Unwrapped. I was “the new girl,” and the guys just wanted to see me blush. I did blush, and I lived. “It’s not that bad anymore,” I said with a laugh. [more inside]
Everyone commits crimes. There are so many laws out there making what's relatively banal behavior criminal if looked at in that light. Apparently a longstanding legal principle tho has been the idea of a "guilty mind," which has gotten somewhat lost recently. The idea is that if you can't write a law where it's possible for a person to commit a crime without meaning to commit a crime. More in the link.
Couple to begin court fight against ban on heterosexual civil partnerships Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who describe themselves as feminists and reject marriage as a “patriarchal” institution, will pursue their claim against the government’s equalities office on Tuesday. The case is being brought on the grounds that the refusal to allow them to participate in a civil partnership amounts to discrimination, breaching their right to family life under article 8 of the European convention on human rights. [more inside]
Yosemite to Rename Several Iconic Places - "The National Park Service said today it will rename many well-known spots in Yosemite, as part of an ongoing legal dispute with an outgoing concessionaire that has trademarked many names in the world-famous park."
Inside the Snitch Tank. After his arrest for the worst mass shooting in Orange County, CA history, Scott Dekraai poured out his feelings to a jailhouse informant. But instead of nailing down a death-penalty conviction against a confessed killer who was arrested with murder weapons in his car, the bugging of Dekraai’s cell touched off a legal storm over prosecutorial misconduct and the misuse of jailhouse informants which has delayed justice and drawn national attention. The Orange County Register has set up an extensive website to accompany their ongoing investigation and report.
Oral arguments were heard on Monday in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a Supreme Court case in which the plaintiffs are attempting to invoke their First Amendment right to free speech to avoid being compelled to pay their share of the costs of union representation. Summarizing the oral arguments for SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe notes that "public-employee unions are likely very nervous, as the Court’s more conservative Justices appeared ready to overrule the Court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and strike down the fees." [more inside]
Most American rapes go unreported and unpunished. In part because ideas about what constitutes a ‘‘real rape’’ still hinder investigations and prosecutions, and many police officers continue to read vulnerability as complicity. But there is another unacknowledged side to the investigation of sexual assault: the huge numbers of victims who are children or teenagers. New Haven, CT detectives estimate that more than 80 percent of their cases involve minors — a number only slightly higher than national statistics. Such cases are rarely reported immediately, which means that there is rarely any physical evidence to investigate. "To Catch a Rapist:" How New Haven's special-victims unit fights a hidden epidemic of sexual assault that is disturbingly difficult to investigate. (Some may find the descriptions and topics in this article disturbing or triggering.)
“To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and, to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion." The Center for Reproductive Rights and law firm Paul Weiss submitted an amicus brief [pdf] to the U.S. Supreme Court signed by 113 attorneys, detailing the importance of abortion rights in their own lives. [more inside]
In 1998, Rob Bilott, an environmental lawyer, took the case of Wilbur Tennant, a cattle farmer who believed DuPont chemical dumping was killing his livestock. Internal documents would reveal that DuPont had known for decades that the chemical—PFOA, used in the manufacture of Teflon—was highly toxic, connected to organ failure, birth defects, cancer, and more. DuPont decided to keep using it anyway. Factory workers were poisoned, as was the water supply of 70,000 people; the scale may be even greater, as “by 2003 the average concentration of PFOA in the blood of an adult American was four to five parts per billion”.
For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions -"The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield billions in income." (via) [more inside]
Sci-Fi Author (and Metafilter's own) Charlie Stross has an interesting thought experiment: Could you get to a technological society without the use of writing? And if so, what would that look like?
12 reasons to worry about our criminal justice system, by 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski [PDF]
Liss-Riordan is tired of hearing that labor laws should adapt to accommodate upstart tech companies, not the other way around: "Why should we tear apart laws that have been put in place over decades to help a $50 billion company like Uber at the expense of workers who are trying to pay their rent and feed their families?" -- Meet "Sledgehammer Shannon," the labor rights lawyer who took on Starbucks and FedEx, and now, Uber, in defense of their workers.
Legal Curiosities: Fact or Fable? Among its other responsibilities, Britain's Law Commission works to repeal antiquated or irrelevant laws (NYT article) such as a 1536 law extending a London graveyard or the India Steam Ship Company Act 1838. The commission's "Legal Curiosities" note provides guidance as to which notorious "silly laws" are actually in force (actual example in force: it is illegal to be drunk in charge of a horse, and it is illegal to be drunk on licensed premises, both due to the Licensing Act 1872; not a real law in force: it is illegal for a lady to eat chocolate on a public conveyance.)