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January 20, 2007

And now for something completely different

There's an article here about how NY is backing off its silly idea to declare all blogs to be "advertisements" and so on.

January 20, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tid-Bits

Supreme Court to Review McCain-Feingold.  The court will take its second look at this 2002 campaign finance statute, as this article in the Washington Post points out.

Texas Statute Prohibiting Processing Horsemeat for Humans Upheld Over Implied Repeal, Preemption, and Dormant Commerce Clause Challenges.  No, I'm not making it up:  there are 3 horse-meat processing plants in the US, and the Texas AG just tried to shut down the two in Texas that process meat for human consumption abroad. (Glad to learn that none is eaten domestically.  My wife would not be happy were it otherwise.).  You can read the Fifth Circuit's reasoning for vacating the district court's denial of an injunction against their operation here.

Michigan's Ban on Affirmative Action Not Delayed.  There's an article here, following up on an earlier piece, about how a referendum approved by the voters comes into effect despite efforts to delay it.

January 20, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink

January 17, 2007

Florida Decision Contrasting Logical and Illogical Textualism

Fellow gets addicted to pain pills and so writes some fake prescriptions for himself.  He gets convicted, not just of forgery, but of "drug trafficking" and so is sentenced to 25 years (not a typo) in prison.  He brings an 8th Amendment (and analogous state constitutional law claim).  One issue is whether this is really "drug trafficking" or not. Majority says it is.  Dissent raises some wonderful arguments about literalism, pointing out that under the majority's approach four hypothets are "drug trafficking" in Florida.  The case is here.  Great read.  (Isn't that what Rush Limbaugh did, and all he got was some slap on the wrist?)  Here's one of the hypos:

A high school principal discovers on school grounds a cache of thirty packets of what he knows from experience to be cocaine, each packet containing one gram of cocaine. He takes possession of it, locks it in his desk until he can turn it over to the police, and informs his secretary of his intentions. An emergency calls him away and he forgets to call the police. Sixty days later his secretary discovers the cocaine is still there and reports it to a school resource officer.

January 17, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 16, 2007

Which Definition?

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, wrestled with (we'd have said "wrassled with" in Texas) whether the word "municipality" has a specific, limited definition when it had been defined both in general definitions and in more than 100 other places in Jericho Water District v. One Call Users Council, Inc., 2006 WL 3635172, __ N.Y.S. 2d __ (N.Y. Sup. Ct. App. Div. Dec. 12, 2006).

If given one meaning, there was one result; if given another, there was another result.

Further difficulties: sometimes the definition was of a "municipality" and sometimes of "municipal corporations." Did that matter?

Again, an interesting case involving not just a lack of a defined term in a statute, but of myriad other possible definitions. What does a poor judge do?

January 16, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 15, 2007

MLK and the Law

There's a great post here on the law librarian blog with links to Letter from Birmingham Jail, etc.

January 15, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink

Prevailing Party Statute Construed

This is a common issue that I encountered in practice: a statute says that a trial court must award a "prevailing party" attorney fees, costs, or some other award. Easy enough if the plaintiff files suit and gets a judgment of a billion dollars. What happens if the plaintiff wins on its claim, but the defendant wins on a counterclaim that exceeds the plaintiff's claim? How do you value noneconomic awards in that circumstance? There are various fact patterns that have led to myriad case law.

On December 15, 2006, in Wakefield v. Bohlin, 006 WL 3691607, __ Cal. Rptr3d. __ (Cal. App. 6th Dist. Dec. 15, 2006), this issue was litigated again, this time with a dissent (as is also fairly common) that spent a fair amount of time analyzing both the plain meaning and legislative history and purpose of the California statute.

The legislature had tried to eliminate some of these interpretative problems by including this definition of "prevailing party."

(a) As used in this section, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
[¶] ... [¶] 4) ‘Prevailing party’ includes the party with a net monetary recovery, a defendant in whose favor a dismissal is entered, a defendant where neither plaintiff nor defendant obtains any relief, and a defendant as against those plaintiffs who do not recover any relief against that defendant. When any party recovers other than monetary relief and in situations other than as specified, the ‘prevailing party’ shall be as determined by the court, and under those circumstances, the court, in its discretion, may allow costs or not and, if allowed may apportion costs between the parties on the same or adverse sides pursuant to rules adopted under Section 1034.”

So, if a party falls within one of the first four categories, the party is automatically a "prevailing party." If not, then there's the last "catch-all" which is discretionary. In this case, there were various claims, and the party that "won" $34,000 at trial had by settlement paid out just as much.

It's an interesting read.

January 15, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2007

I just have to share this

There's all sorts of "site meter" information available, including which page gets the most hits.  The generic intro page leads by a long shot, but what's a close second?  The one that says "nude women are okay" with the California Legislature, which says something about how many porn searches are being run out there.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/statutory/2006/10/nude_women_are_.html

January 14, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting Op-Ed on Bush

I don't want to take us back into torture and git-mo, but if you're interested, there's an interesting piece from Dahlia Lithwick on Slate.com here.

January 14, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Michigan Supreme Court Soap Opera

A reader in comments earlier explained in part why the Michigan Supreme Court issues these divided opinions on statutory interpretation. (If you go through the blog, there are probably four or five opinions I've detailed from that court.)  There's an article here that also explains a bit more about what's going on in that court.

January 14, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack