Blawg Review

It's not just a blog carnival; it's the law! ~ a fool in the forest

Previewing Blawg Review #24

When Jay Williams started blogging at Jaybeas Corpus he promised to work his hardest to give the blog a purpose. And so it began, this documentary of the adventures of a law student and his three-legged cat in Washington, DC. Irreverent, insightful, and unpredictable, this humble law student's blog is always a good read.

From the start he promised not to get into the details of his personal life, but Jay's post on the eve of Hurricane Katrina, The Big Easy, is one of the most personal posts you'll read on a law blog. Typically, you won't find a lot "about" Jay Williams on his blog, except in posts where he writes about others.

Not unexpectedly, Jay put a lot of hard work into Blawg Review #24.

"Be afraid. Be very afraid," he warned us.

Editor's Note: Jay Williams has taken down his blog previously hosted at Jaybeas Corpus, so we are hosting a replacement copy of his presentation of Blawg Review #24 here.

Update your links to Blawg Review #24 to point to this post:

Monday, September 19, 2005

Blawg Review #24

Welcome, everyone, to another back-to-school edition of Blawg Review. I’m your humble 2L host, Jaybeas Corpus. I’ll forego the introduction and just invite you take a look around the blawg to get an idea of what goes on here when I’m not contributing to legal blogging history by putting together issue #24. There are many extremely good submissions this week, so let’s get to work.

Law students are returning to school across the country (and the world), and our biggest challenge is usually just getting back into the groove of classes. We work best when things are routine and we know what we can expect in each class. The more things we can plan out, the better. With that in mind, as a service to 1L’s and 2, 3, and 4L’s who may have forgotten, here are the six steps for making it through your classes. Feel free to modify as time (and content) permits.

Step 1 – Check the News

We all want to sound like we know what’s going on in the world when we’re talking to our friends. Not only that, but you never know when Renee Zellweger might find a new beau, and you definitely want to be the first to know. Particularly with morning classes, this is a great way to wake up and get your mind working. Here’s a sampling of some of the recent news stories bloggers have been blogging about:

Hurricane Katrina: Now What?

With the floodwaters finally receding and talk of rebuilding picking up, legal bloggers spent a lot of time in the past week discussing the various legal implications of the disaster. Jury Geek guest-blogger Philip Monte suggests that jurors, particularly in the south, may become “even more cynical and suspicious than they are at the present time,” not only in Katrina-related cases, but also in more general cases. These type of biases, he adds, may extend out to oil companies.

Professor Becker and Judge Posner at the Becker-Posner Blog have different solutions on how to determine the amount of compensation for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Judge Posner would focus on those who could not have afforded insurance, while Professor Becker takes the position that the government should use the same standards as it uses for welfare, Medicaid, and other such programs. (Consider my description to be the LegaLines version of their arguments – I got the very basic point across, but if you just rely on my description, there’s no way you’ll completely understand.)

Raymond Ward saw the Katrina devastation firsthand and, along with many other attorneys, has relocated his practice elsewhere. He provides links to discussions and commentary about the effects of Katrina on the Gulf Coast legal community.

Texas Public Defender, host of Injustice Anywhere, is none too happy that a 73-year-old woman was arrested for looting in New Orleans and faced a $50,000 bond. While a subsequent judge decided to release her on a personal recognizance bond, the PD still wants to know what’s going to happen to the original judge.

Finally, in the “Hmm, This Could Get Interesting” department, Tom McKenna, a Virginia prosecutor, suggests that Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco could find themselves under Louisiana’s negligent homicide statute for their actions (or inactions) in response to the hurricane, especially in light of the charges against two nursing home operators for not evacuating many of their residents.

The Vioxx Verdicts

The legal community is still abuzz about the $253 million verdict against Merck & Co., Inc. This week, Evan Schaeffer at Legal Underground shares the transcript of his recent presentation on a panel discussion about the issue. Additionally, David Swanner at the South Carolina Trial Law Blog provides excerpts from an interesting Q&A with Mark Lanier, the attorney who won the case, and also links to the entire discussion.

Who Is John Roberts?

If there was any one topic addressed the most this week among legal bloggers, it was clearly the John Roberts hearings. Is anyone really surprised? While the media and Congress essentially view his confirmation as a foregone conclusion, that didn’t stop us from voicing our opinions not only about Roberts, but also about the process. As many have come to expect, SCOTUSblog has an exhaustive run-down of each day, as well as provides several round-ups of what other blawgs are saying about the Roberts hearings. I recommend going to the main site and browsing through the recent Roberts posts. To get an idea of the kind of impressive work they’re doing, check out this liveblog of day four of the hearings.

Juris Slacker, hearkening back to the Clinton impeachment hearings, suggests we should call Roberts “Slick Johnny.” I’m pretty sure that’s not an insult.

As for the utility of the hearings themselves, Underneath Their Robes provides a good roundup of opinions, noting how skillfully Roberts managed to not answer anything. UTR also lobbies for the following question to be posed to Judge Roberts: “How does it feel to be the fifth-hottest [male] federal judge in the United States?” Watch out, Alex Kozinski, Roberts’ publicity is only going to help him in the rankings. Of course, if news photographers keep managing to take pictures like this, Judge Kozinski might not have much to worry about.

Jane Woodworth takes issue with the line of questioning many of the senators utilized, basically trying to get Judge Roberts to say how he would “mangle the law” in order to get to an outcome that particular senator wanted. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, Ms. Woodworth observes that these hearings have certainly exposed “a strong disconnect between the job of the Courts, and what many politicians want the Courts to do.” Zing!

So now that it looks like we’ll have a new Chief Justice in the near future, what about that pesky other opening to the Court? Iowa law professor Tung Yin takes a stab at a prediction.

With all the talk of Judge Roberts’ past writings, what happens when a well-known (or even not well-known) legal blogger is nominated for a major judiciary position? Professor Bainbridge poses the question, and Ezra Klein provides a look into the future with a transcript from the Glenn Reynolds confirmation hearings.

One thing’s for sure, though: if IrishBrooke wants to follow in her great-great-great-great-uncle’s footsteps, she might want to start avoiding posts such as this one.

Step 2 – Find Funny Articles

One of my favorite hobbies is sending a funny link to one of my classmates (see step 4, infra), with the sole purpose of making him laugh out loud in class. I have succeeded in this once. This step works well after reading the news, because there are times where the news will depress you, and you need something to cheer you up. Aside from the standards of The Onion, Homestar Runner, and Fark, many bloggers also provide us with comedy gems.

The J-Walk Blog provides a link to and an excerpt from, a wonderful site that provides kids with helpful summaries, comic strips, and animations “explaining” our legal system, particularly the criminal justice system. Personally, my favorite section is “Toons.” Be sure to read some of the comments posted there. Here’s a gem: “Seriously, I can’t believe I have to do all this webpage for part fo [sic] detention.”

If Law For Kids isn’t amusing enough, you can always read up on Tony’s brush with (geeky) stardom last week. Maybe you’re not amused, but I sure was.

In the “this is really only funny to a specific group of people” category, check out some commentary over at The Patent Baristas, entitled “France Moves to Protect Strategic Yogurt Interests.

Step 3 – Shop Online

This is a very important step, as it not only keeps you from paying attention in class, but it also allows you to spend that loan/savings money that was specifically earmarked for your education. Be careful about whipping out the credit card in class, though – you don’t want to make it too obvious.

Evan Schaeffer provides us this week with the opportunity of a lifetime on eBay – the chance to own an actual 10 Commandments display ordered to be removed by a real-life federal judge! If you have $6,500 to spare, make sure to get your bid in by September 21st!

Apparently realizing the utility of shopping online when you should be doing plenty of other more important activities, Mr. Schaeffer shares some of the ultimate lawyer (and lawyer’s children) gifts. You’d better believe my children will wear an “attorney work product” bib.

Step 4 – AIM

AOL’s Instant Messenger (and other similar programs) has revolutionized the way law students make it through class. AIM allows you not only to chat with friends, but to be bailed out by classmates when you’re called on while shopping for “mess ipsa loquitor” bibs for your future children. Much like blawgs, AIM is a great way to debate issues with colleagues through the eloquence of the written word.

Hillel Levin provides a prediction of what will happen when the recent Pledge of Allegiance case makes it to the Ninth Circuit, and also responds to what other bloggers have said and predicted.

If there’s one thing law students love to debate, it’s Justice Scalia. Love him or not, it’s one of my (and many other students’) greatest joys in law school to read some of his scathing dissents. Richard J. Radcliffe over at Law Religion Culture Review provides a first-hand account of Scalia’s recent speech at Chapman University, which (not surprisingly) garnered a bit of controversy and media coverage.

MIbLAWg has an excellent podcast explaining why more people should participate in the discussion over the Michigan Supreme Court, known to many as one of the most “radical” courts in the United States. Enrico Schaefer, the host, also explains how blawgs make it possible for these types of discussions to occur in a truly public way.

Likelihood of Confusion’s Ron Coleman responds to another blogger’s criticism of “general search warrants” being used in India to fight illegal file-sharing.

Finally, when we’re not debating hot-button issues or sharing the latest articles from The Onion, we’re complaining about law school to each other, usually over AIM. Aside from reading Justice Scalia’s dissents and buying stuff with Westlaw/Lexis points, complaining about law school is a favorite pastime. Instead of just complaining, the [non]billable hour provides a slew of suggestions on how to make law schools better. Bruce MacEwen, host of Adam Smith, Esq., thinks along the same lines, and suggests that law schools across the country provide classes on “law firms as businesses.” Nicole takes a more practical approach, questioning the economic sense of her school’s parking enforcement system.

Step 5 – Learn!

By now, there are about 15-20 minutes left in class. You know everything that’s going on in the world, your friends have all signed off, and you’re out of money. You have nothing left to do but actually learn about some legal issues facing the U.S. today. Don’t fret, though – class is almost over...and hey, some of the issues can be pretty fun.

Trademark/Copyright Law

In the realm of trademark law, Abnu at Wordlab can’t help but wonder if the good folks at LEGO are taking their brand name a little too seriously with the disclaimer at the intro to their website, encouraging people to refer to their products as “LEGO bricks or toys” and not “LEGOS.” However, their efforts to prevent “genericide” don’t stop there.

Enrico Schaefer notes that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the presence of a trademark in a web page’s URL post-domain path does not violate federal trademark law.

Kevin Thompson of Cyberlaw Central summarizes a recent case between Blizzard, Inc. and two computer programmers who reverse-engineered some of Blizzard’s software to create their own game server for Blizzard games. The 8th Circuit determined that the granting of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff’s breach of contract claims was proper.

Legal Ethics

In the often-murky world of legal ethics, many waited years for the Illinois Supreme Court to reverse the $1 billion+ judgment for the plaintiffs in Avery v. State Farm, only to see the pivotal vote be cast by a justice who had questionable ties to State Farm. The plaintiffs have now argued that they were deprived of due process. E.L Eversman at AutoMuse has some good commentary on the issue.

Criminal Law / Criminal Procedure

Grits for Breakfast breaks down the debate over the new gun carry laws enacted in Texas, particularly how many prosecutors are creating their own rules about how to enforce it.

J. Craig Williams of May It Please the Court criticizes three rulings from the Ninth Circuit, which essentially give border inspectors the right to “pretty much take your vehicle apart and put it back together, even if it ends up with a hole in it or not all the parts reattached,” and wonders how 9/11 affected the outcome of these cases.

Step 6 – Whatever You Do, Try Not To Fall Asleep

Fighting off sleep is hard to do sometimes. You might find yourself in that weird ethereal world where things are more bizarre, but also make a lot more sense. If you find yourself in this netherworld, I would wager you could reach some sort of state of transcendence if you read the Harvest Moon Haiku, presented by David Giacalone at f/k/a.... Deep, man, deep.

Well, that just about does it for this episode of Blawg Review. I certainly enjoyed putting it together, and I hope you enjoyed reading it just as much.

Oh, and if any law professors are reading this, I can assure you that your students aren’t doing any of the above-listed activities (except learning). This is especially true if you’re one of my professors. I really need that participation bump.

Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions about how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.