Category Archives: In the news

Mar 4
8:01 PM

Trading in your old cell phone?

iphone-106351_150You may not want to rely on the store’s salesperson to wipe your phone clean.

Woman sues Sprint over posting of intimate photos from traded-in phone

A Sprint worker found two images of the woman engaged in sex and uploaded them to her Facebook page, causing her much embarrassment, the lawsuit says…

Johnson’s suit said she traded in her HTC Evo telephone at the Sprint store … in April 2013 and was assured by a worker that its contents would be wiped clean. She had forgotten that the two intimate photos were among more than 5,000 on her old phone, her lawyer said.

About a month later, a friend called Johnson to tell her that compromising photographs had been posted on her Facebook page, the lawsuit said.

The suit said Sprint told Johnson that the telephone had been sent to a plant in Louisville, Ky., to be refurbished. Her lawsuit alleges that an unidentified Sprint employee at that plant accessed the photographs.


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 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 11
8:04 PM

ABA May Soon Allow Paid Student Externships

An ABA panel recommends that Interpretation 305-3 of ABA Standard 305 be revised to allow law students to receive both academic credit and financial compensation for internship and externship placements. The ABA Law Student Division has advocated on behalf of the change. The ABA’s Council of the Section on Legal Education will still have to vote to approve the change.
Source: ABA Moves Toward Allowing Paid Student Externships

Jan 24
1:48 PM

ABA Task Force Releases Final Report & Recommendation on the Future of Legal Education

The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education released its Final Report & Recommendations today. The Report addresses both the economics of legal education and the delivery and regulation of legal education. Among other things, the Report concludes that:

  • The current system of pricing and funding in legal education demands serious re-engineering.
  • The law school accreditation system should allow for more variety and innovation in the delivery of legal education and it should encourage law schools to give more attention to services, outcomes, and value delivered to law students. Such changes would likely require repeal or dramatic revision of several of the ABA Law School Accreditation Standards.
  • Notwithstanding some recent progress, law schools should continue curriculum reforms that integrate more focused preparation for legal practice. Law students need the opportunity to develop the competencies and professionalism required of people who will deliver services to clients.
  • State supreme courts, bars and other regulators should consider new or improved frameworks for licensing providers of legal and related services, including (1) bar admission for people whose preparation may be other than the traditional four-years of college plus three-years of classroom-based law school education; and (2) licensing persons other than holders of a J.D. to deliver limited legal services.

You can read more about the work of the Task Force here. [JML]

Nov 26
8:32 PM

Scalia/Ginsburg Opera


llustration by Jeff Dionise,
ABA Journal article

2013 Maryland Law grad Derrick Wang wrote an opera based on words from judicial opinions penned by Justices Ginsburg and Scalia. He previewed portions of the work at the Supreme Court in June. An excerpt from a July 2013 NPR article about the opera:

As the plot unfolds, the two justices find themselves locked in a room, and the only way out is to agree on a constitutional approach. A grumpy Scalia fulminates:

“The justices are blind — how can they possibly spout this?
The Constitution says absolutely nothing about this!
This right that they’ve enshrined — when did the document sprout this?
The Framers wrote and signed words that endured without this;
The Constitution says absolutely nothing about this!”

When Ginsburg enters, Scalia implores her, to strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” asking why she can’t seem to read the Constitution properly.

“Oh, Ruth, can you read?
You’re aware of the text.
Yet so proudly you’ve failed to derive its true meaning.”

Ginsburg replies with calm reason, asking Scalia to consider a different approach.

“How many times must I tell you, dear Mister Justice Scalia,
You’d spare us such pain if you’d just entertain this idea.
You are searching in vain for a bright-line solution,
To a problem that isn’t so easy to solve.
But the beautiful thing about our Constitution is that
Like our society, it can evolve.”

Our Founders, of course, were men of great vision, she says, but their culture restricted how far they could go. So to us, they bequeathed the decision to allow certain meanings to flourish and grow.

“We are freeing the people we used to hold captive, who deserve to be more than just servants or wives.
If we hadn’t been willing to be so adaptive, can you honestly say we’d have led better lives?”

In his finale, Scalia replies with characteristic flourish, on a soaring high note, followed by this harrumph: “Anyway, that’s my view, and it happens to be correct.”


Nov 21
7:02 PM

California State Bar News

CaliforniaStateBarOn the eve of the release of July 2013 California bar exam results, here’s a look at some of the latest news from the California state bar:

Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE) voted to indefinitely postpone any efforts to shorten the bar exam from three to two days.

The Board of Trustees adopted some modest changes to MCLE requirements beginning in July 2014:
  1. The substance abuse education specialty requirement is modified to a broader “competence” education requirement. This could be met by education that helps members recognize and deal with any mental or physical issue that could impact their ability to practice.
  2. Establish a formal audit system for MCLE providers.
  3. Require written materials for MCLE courses that are an hour or more in length.
  4. The elimination of bias specialty requirement is broadened to include courses on recognizing bias in society, not just in the legal profession.

The Board of Trustees deferred action on a proposal to increase the MCLE requirement from 25 to 36 hours every three years, asking State Bar staff to further explore the idea and develop a proposal for consideration at a future meeting.

The Board of Trustees voted to move forward with the next steps in implementing new competency training requirements for new lawyers. A new Implementation Committee is charged with devising a timeline and plan for implementing new requirements, which include:
  1. 15 units of practice-based, experiential course work or an apprenticeship equivalent during law school;
  2. 50 hours of legal services devoted to pro bono or modest means clients prior to admission or in the first two years of practice;
  3. 10 additional MCLE hours focused on law practice competency training

The current plan is to phase in the MCLE hours in 2015, the pro bono or modest means requirement in 2016, and the law school competency training in 2017.

You can attend one of state bar’s annual public hearings if you’d like to weigh in on these or other state bar issues:

10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5
The State Bar of California
1149 S. Hill St., 7th floor
Los Angeles, CA 90015

10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9
The State Bar of California
180 Howard St., 4th floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Individuals who wish to speak at the hearing and/or present written materials should contact Lauren Fletcher at 415-538-2310 or by Monday, Dec. 2.

Source: California Bar Journal, Nov. 2013. [JML]