Feb 28
9:13 AM

Protecting Your Mac from Theft

We are always surprised when we see that a library patron has left his or her laptop unattended without securing it with one of the cables that can be checked out from the circulation desk. Some intruder could walk away with your laptop in seconds, causing you great expense and untold havoc in recovering months if not years of data and work. Mac users will find excellent information about securing their devices in this article, which also includes information about encrypting your hard drive and preventing thieves from wiping it clean.


Feb 27
7:29 PM

Attorney General Kamala Harris to challenge the 9th Circuit with regard to right to carry concealed weapons

Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said Thursday that she would challenge a federal appeals court ruling that would require counties to give law-abiding residents permits to carry concealed guns.

Harris’ announcement followed a decision last week by San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, the named defendant in the case that triggered the ruling, not to appeal.

Unless overturned, the  2-1 ruling by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would end a stringent restriction on carrying handguns in the state’s most populous counties. Most rural countries already allow permits if minimal requirements are met.

For more details, see the  article in the Los Angeles times.


Feb 27
7:08 PM

First known video taken of proceedings in the U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court was subject to a security breach when a spectator sneaked a video camera into Wednesday’s proceedings and filmed a protestor who disrupted an oral argument.

The clandestine footage, posted on YouTube, is the first known video of a Supreme Court proceeding to be made public. It isn’t clear what type of device was used to make the recording.

Check out the WSJ article for more details and to link to the video.


Feb 26
4:04 PM

U.S. Supreme Court Uses California Case to Expand Warrantless Searches

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Fernandez v. Gonzalez that police can search a home without a warrant, even if the suspect has objected, as long as he is no longer on the scene and a co-tenant gives consent.

The ruling grew out of a California case involving Los Angeles resident and robbery suspect Walter Fernandez.  In Fernandez, police officers investigating a violent robbery went to the defendant’s apartment and the defendant denied the detectives the ability to search his apartment.  Also present was Fernandez’s bloodied girlfriend Roxanne Rojas.  Suspecting that she was the victim of domestic abuse, the officers removed defendant from the apartment and placed him under arrest. An officer later returned to the apartment and, after obtaining Rojas’ oral and written consent, searched the premises, where he found a sawed-off shotgun, a knife, ammunition and gang paraphernalia. Fernandez was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in jail.

The California Court of Appeal for the 2nd District mostly affirmed the decision and the state Supreme Court declined to review it but the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in May 2013.

Check over at SCOTUSblog for more developments on this case.


Feb 25
6:42 PM

California Supreme Court: Charging a cover can make social host liable for injuries caused by “obviously intoxicated minor”

The California Supreme Court sent a warning Monday to high school and college students who host liquor parties and charge admission: If you serve a drink to an obviously intoxicated minor who later causes a crash, you’ll be held responsible.

A 1978 state law eliminated liability for social hosts and allowed suits only against bars and retailers that sold alcohol to obviously intoxicated minors. A recent state law extended legal responsibility to any adult who sold or served liquor to a minor who caused an accident.

Monday’s ruling applied the same standard to minors who charge admission for parties where liquor is served, treating them as the equivalent of bars. State law still exempts those who sell or serve drinks to adults, who remain solely responsible for the damage they cause.

Source: Court holds young hosts responsible for drunken guests, SFGate

Read the case here (PDF).


Feb 22
11:06 AM

Have you ever had a law prof use TV or film to illustrate a concept? – News


Image from Shutterstock.

On a recent snowy Friday when only five students could make it to class, Appalachian School of Law professor Paula Marie Young decided that she would screen a long excerpt from the the film The Negotiator.

“It illustrates so many concepts I discuss in my courses,” Young wrote at her blog, The Red Velvet Lawyer. Young teaches certified civil mediation and dispute resolution.
There’s also a TV series Young likes for this purpose: “I could create an entire course based on the negotiation tactics Francis Underwood uses in House of Cards,” she wrote in a short subsequent post. “My idea. Don’t steal it, please.”

Using a fictional dramas to teach law students isn’t unheard of: A William & Mary law professor created a textbook and class titled: The Wire: Crime, Law and Policy, based on the HBO television show. But how often is it really done?

So this week, we’d like to ask you: Have you ever had a law prof use TV or film to illustrate a concept? If so, which program or movie? If you have your own ideas about films or TV shows that lawyers or law students could learn a thing or two from, share that as well. (But be sensitive to your fellow readers—and moderators—and include spoiler warnings if you want to discuss the just-released season of House of Cards.)

via Have you ever had a law prof use TV or film to illustrate a concept? – News. (ABA Journal)


Feb 21
10:55 AM

Posner proposes new approach to hearsay

Judge Richard Posner is proposing a rewrite of the hearsay rule and its exceptions in a concurring opinion in a gun case decided by the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Posner derides the approach taken by the Federal Rules of Evidence (PDF) in his Feb. 13 concurring opinion (PDF). “The ‘hearsay rule’ is too complex,” Posner wrote, “as well as being archaic.” How Appealing and EvidenceProf Blog note Posner’s comments.

Posner instead suggests a flexible approach based on the catchall Rule 807, which allows the admission of some hearsay in the interests of justice even if it is not covered by a specific exception.

Posner wrote in a case in which two exceptions to the hearsay rule were at issue: the “excited utterance” and the “present sense impression.”

The rationale behind the “present sense impression” exception is that the immediacy reduces the likelihood of deliberate or conscious misrepresentation. Not true, Posner said, citing studies that say less than one second is needed to fabricate a lie.

Posner also questioned the justification for the excited utterance exception, based on the assumption that excitement can produce utterances free of conscious fabrication. How can there be any confidence that a statement made under psychological stress is reliable? Posner asked.

“Like the exception for present sense impressions,” Posner writes, “the exception for excited utterances rests on no firmer ground than judicial habit, in turn reflecting judicial incuriosity and reluctance to reconsider ancient dogmas.”

Posner says he does not have a goal of reducing the amount of hearsay evidence in federal trials. Rather, he is proposing an alternative that would “swallow” the exceptions in Rules 801 through 806 in the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Posner says he would use a simplified version of Rule 807, the “residual exception,” and allow hearsay in these circumstances: “when it is reliable, when the jury can understand its strengths and limitations, and when it will materially enhance the likelihood of a correct outcome.”

via Posner questions basis for “archaic” hearsay rule, proposes flexible approach. (ABA Journal)


Feb 19
8:32 AM

ATT: Crim Pro Students

The top court in Massachusetts has ruled that police need a warrant to obtain cellphone location data to track a suspect for more than a brief time period.

The Massachusetts court ruled 5-2 in the case of Shabazz Augustine, who was arrested based on data showing his location when his girlfriend was killed. The court noted that police had obtained two weeks of data by persuading a court the information was relevant and material to an ongoing probe. ABA Journal.

Read the case.


Feb 18
9:27 AM

Expectation of Privacy in Your License Plate Number?

The surveillance industry is fighting back. A company that makes automated license-plate readers sued Utah’s government last week over a new law intended to protect drivers’ privacy.

Digital Recognition Network of Fort Worth, Texas, which makes license-plate readers that rapidly scan the tags of passing vehicles, argues that a new state ban on license-plate scanning by private companies infringes on its free-speech rights to collect and disseminate the information it captures, and has effectively put it out of business there.

The case is an early example of pushback as Congress and state legislatures consider proposals to rein in phone-records collection, drones and license-plate readers. At least 14 states — including Colorado — are considering measures that would curb such collections.

By Jack Gillum
The Associated Press

Read the entire article.


Feb 14
9:46 AM

Other paths for law grads

Twenty-four percent of the surveyed lawyers were not practicing law in 2012, compared to about 9 percent who weren’t practicing law in 2003, according to preliminary survey findings. The results are from the After the JD study, which tracked a national sample of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000 with surveys in three waves—in 2003, 2007 and 2012.

“These are the golden age graduates,” said American Bar Foundation faculty fellow Ronit Dinovitzer … , “and even among the golden age graduates, 24 percent are not practicing law.”

The careers with the highest percentage of nonpracticing lawyers were the nonprofit and education sector, where about 75 percent weren’t practicing; and the federal government, where nearly 26 percent were nonpracticing. Nonpracticing careers ranged from law professors to real-estate agents to investment bankers, Dinovitzer said.

Read the entire ABA Journal article.