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September 26, 2005

Blawg Review #25

A Veterans for Peace sign.Welcome to Blawg Review #25, the Protest Edition! Since “the largest show of antiwar sentiment in the nation's capital since the conflict in Iraq began” was just last Saturday, I've been thinking a bit about “protest” as both a way of life and a mode of expression. I realized that, whether they're protesting for themselves or on behalf of others, lawyers are almost always protesting something—that's their job. Isn't every lawsuit a form of protest against something or someone? Today's Review will highlight a wide variety of such protests that appeared in the blawgosphere in the last week and will feature a selection of images from the Sept. 24th peace march in D.C. But before diving into all the protests I want to invite you to check out some great new blawgs—they're popping up all over the place! Give a hearty welcome and read to:

  • bk!: The blog of Brandy Karl, f.k.a. “alice” of A Mad Tea-Party. Thanks to Bag and Baggage for the tip! I'm sure anyone who used to read and enjoy the Tea-Party on a regular basis will agree that it's great to see Brandy/Alice blogging again. Unfortunately, just as we discover Brandy's new identity and home—as well as the fact that she's a happy lawyer!—we must also extend our sympathies as she copes with a death in the family.
  •, a new blawg by nine prominent black law professors. I've had the good fortune to be able to work with Professors Spencer Overton and Paul Butler in setting up and designing this new blawg and it's been great to see it take off and start generating hits and great discussions. Check it out for lots of insight into critical right-to-vote issues, law school diversity, the difficulty Americans seem to have in talking about the racial implications of hurricane Katrina, and much more.
  • The Clerkship Notification Blog, a group site whose goal is to distribute information about the clerkship notification processs. This will only be a useful resource if lots of law students participate so the blawg's author has asked for help to get the word out about the site. And if you're a law student who has applied for a clerkship, be sure to visit and leave any information you know.
  • Law Spouses, a new “blog community for those who love a law student.” This blog's author aims to create a resources for spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, etc., of law students to help them deal w/the challenges that arise when their loved ones give their lives to law school. If you're a spouse or partner or other loved one of a law student and you'd like to become a contributor at Law Spouses, get thee to the comments and let the author know!
That's it for the new blawgs brought to my attention recently; now on to the protesting!

A billboard along the peace march route.Protest This!
Starting us off, Timothy Sandefur at Positive Liberty is protesting the hypocrisy of U.S. drug laws via this Slate article discussing William Rehnquist's alleged addiction to sedatives. Sandefur writes:

“The point here is that our government looks the other way, and gives light slaps on the wrist, to people in positions of power and notoriety for the sort of drug 'crimes' that ought not to be crimes to begin with, and that bring substantial punishments when committed by the underclass. That is the sort of hypocrisy that really does do damage to a society's moral standing, and serious damage. To Rehnquist's credit, however, he did not partake of that hypocrisy in the Raich case, where he had the courage to join the dissenters. I'm not a big Rehnquist fan, but he deserves props for that one.”

Speaking of white collar crime (and can you get much more white collar than the Chief Justice?), last week Professor Bainbridge invited protests both for and against white-collar crime sentencing policy when he asked, “As a matter of sound sentencing policy, should first offender white collar criminals serve their sentences in a maximum security prison?” The question prompted a lively discussion, both on the professor's blawg and on Crime and Federalism, where Mike asked, “Why are white collar sentences so long?” He says it's because otherwise these crooks would go unpunished:

If there weren't harsh sentences, white collar defendants would go to trial, since they'd have nothing to lose. And since they can afford top-flight counsel, they'd often win. It is unacceptable for white collar defendants to escape the trial tax. Sentences like those in the Kozlowski case will remind defendants to think twice before going to trial.

The Stopped Clock riffs on a similar theme, protesting that problems in criminal justice go unresolved because we figure criminal defendants are “probably guilty of something anyway.” And we call this justice?

Our discussion of white collar crime would hardly be complete without input from the White Collar Crime Prof Blog, so check out that blog's analysis of the “CSI effect” on white collar prosecutions.

Moving from theory about white collar crime to its real practice in the wild, Professor Bainbridge also notes that Bill Frist is being accused of insider trading (followup here). And in the news we see that the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal is has reached the White House. Lock up the crooks!

A popular sign at the peace march.Over at Wordlab, Abnu protests that a couple of lawyers have filed a trademark application for the word “Katrina”:

With dead bodies still floating in the streets of New Orleans, a pair of Louisiana lawyers are seeking to cash in on the killer hurricane by slapping the name Katrina on alcoholic beverages. In a new filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Andrew Vicknair and Harold Ehrenberg provided federal officials with a logo--reproduced above--bearing the word Katrina, the phrase “Get Blown Away,” and a small satellite image of the deadly storm.

PHOSITA also reports on other Katrina-related trademark applications and provides the first connection I've seen between that storm and a certain 1980s pop-band.

In other Katrina-related news, J. Craig Williams of May it Please the Court® fame wonders whether insurers are going to get a pass on paying storm-related claims. The answer is all tort-o-rific and depends on proximate, concurrent, and principal cause. But hey, if you don't want to read about it, you can just sit back and listen because Williams kindly records most of his posts as podcasts. Where does he find the time?

Colin Samuels at Infamy or Praise protests a law suit by the Mississippi attorney general against five insurers “to force those insurers to pay flood damages suffered by their Mississippi policy holders despite clear exclusions in those policies and the ready availability of flood coverage from federal programs.” Samuels calls this a brazen and irrational encroachment on freedom of contract. And he's not alone; as Jonathan B. Wilson notes, Walter Olson doesn't like this lawsuit either. Be sure to read Wilson's post to see “what really chaps Olson's briefcase.”

Katrina has also prompted Evan Schaeffer and Dennis Kennedy to ponder how such a devastating storm might affect e-discovery. Schaeffer also notes that trial lawyers cause hurricanes. Gee whiz; all this time I thought money was the root of all evil...

Who is the enemy here?But Katrina played second fiddle last week to its little sister, Rita. Before Rita hit, Ernie the Attorney—who lived through Katrina in New Orleans—offered tips for evacuees. One recommendation was to have plenty of “calming agents like wine” on hand; better yet, you could just evacuate to a vineyard. Tom Kirkendall at Houston's Clear Thinkers expected that the economic effects of Rita would be huge. However, when the storm wasn't as devastating as predicted, he revised those expectations. Check out the posts in between for more on the storm, including some interesting thoughts on the chaotic evacuation of Houston. Beldar Blog also updated frequently on Rita's progress, including great posts on the evacuation gridlock, a nearly hour-by-hour update of living through the storm, and observations on the aftermath.

Back to political protests, the gentlemen at the Power Line blog are protesting the fact that Yubbledew President Bush recently appointed someone who was foolish enough to admit she doesn't know everything to a position in the DHS. The post wins this week's award for best title with: “Stuck on Stupid, and Not Too Brite.” Are they talking about their president, or....?

Continuing the “stuck on stupid” theme, Retired Army JAG Officer suggests that Democrats are exactly that. Al Nye The Lawyer Guy doesn't use the exact phrase, but it seems applicable to some of these crazy quotes from consumers and creditors.

But not everyone was stuck on stupid last week. Professor Tung Yin used the mid-season cliffhanger of Battlestar Gallactica (BSG to those of us who are addicted to this, the best show on tv possibly evar!) to protest torture as a tool of interrogation.

Norm Pattis at Crime and Federalism protested some of the stupid questions senators asked John Roberts last week.

Monica Bay at The Common Scold managed to get quoted and pictured in the NY Times for her protest against spotty cell phone reception in rural areas.

Professor Althouse protested the cancellation of The Comeback, the Lisa Kudrow show on HBO. The good professor has also begun podcasting, joining Professor Gordon Smith of the Office Hour Podcast on the Wisconsin Law Prof podcast team. Come on you other law profs, it's time to step up to the mic!

At Between Lawyers, Dennis Kennedy responds to a critique of the “non-commercial use only” Creative Commons licenses. Kennedy asks: “What do you really intend 'non-commercial use' to mean?” Personally I intend it to mean something like “quit being a greedy capitalist pig!” but I welcome Kennedy's call for the Creative Commons to “take a stronger leadership role in providing interpretations of the license provisions.”

A metal sign at Camp Casey.Reporting Protests
When lawyers aren't protesting anything themselves, they frequently excel at reporting on and analyzing the protests of others. For example, Andrew Raff is in this reporting mode at the IPTAblog where he presents an exhaustive roundup of the Author's Guild's lawsuit to prohibit Google from scanning copyrighted books without obtaining permissions from the copyright owners. The gist seems to be that a majority of commentators think Google's “fair use” claim will win the day, but read the full post for much more.

Also in the reporting mode, Paul L. Caron at Tax Prawf Blog notes that Harvard has changed course and is allowing military recruiters on campus in order to make sure the school maintains access to federal funds. However, Harvard is continuing its protest in a different form:

University President Lawrence H. Summers said in a statement tonight that Harvard will file a friend-of-the-court brief tomorrow urging the Supreme Court to invalidate the Solomon Amendment, the statute passed by Congress in 1994 that allows the secretary of defense to block federal funds to universities that deny military recruiters “equal access” to campuses.
Todd Zywicki comments on this at the Volokh Conspiracy, as well. Hey, maybe if Congress didn't support sending U.S. troops to die in unjustified wars of aggression it wouldn't see so much opposition to the military's recruitment efforts. Of course, there's also that completely discriminatory and irrational “don't ask, don't tell” policy the military maintains, so there's quite a bit for Harvard and other schools to protest, actually.

But speaking of the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr reports that the new war on porn is “a running joke” at the FBI. Protest at the FBI by agents? That's a good one.

“I guess this means we've won the war on terror,” said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing.
They already gave at home, indeed.

Robert Ambrogi reports on the boatloads of cash NY lawyers take home, and since he's not really protesting, let me fill that gap: Judge Judy makes $30 million/year!? She's awful! Am I the only one that finds that not only shockingly ridiculous, but morally offensive, as well? Oh, and while we're at it, why do public defenders make less than prosecutors?

From money to sports (a pretty natural jump, don't you think?) Mark at the SportsBiz blog reports that several college football players have sued the NCAA “alleging that the NCAA's scholarship limitations are an illegal restraint of trade adopted in the name of cost containment by an organization that illegally monopolizes 'big time' college football.”

And in one other sports-related post, Richard Radcliffe of the Law Religion Culture Review notes that O.J. Simpson continues to have a talent for generating lawsuits. It's good to be good at something, you know?

Big Code Pink balloon peace sign.Implicit Protests
Lots of blawg posts fall into the category of implicit protests against something or other (or, perhaps I should say that a determined blawg reviewer can force them inside that box). David Swanner of the South Carolina Trial Law Blog files such an implicit protest against poor law office management with his keys to a smoothly running law office. It's all about having a plan for cases, finances, marketing, business, and life. So what's your plan, man?

Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog joins Swanner by offering tips for using desktop search tools. Calloway also covers the interesting bits from the ABA's Legal Technology Survey. Only 19% of responding lawyers have used a wireless internet connection? If my own school is any indication, that number is going to skyrocket when the class of 2006 enters practice; just about every law student at GW uses wifi every day!

And speaking of law school, in an implicit protest against unhappiness in the legal profession, Jeremy Blachman recently called for feedback from law students about their perspectives on working in the legal profession. He writes:

I'm interested in what law students (or prospective law students) are afraid of, whether that relates to law school, or being a lawyer, or something else related. I'm interested in what law students wish was different about law school, or what lawyers wish was different about their jobs. I'm interested in what law students and lawyers would want to do with their lives if money was no object. I'm interested in parents and spouses of law students and whether they feel law school has changed their child, husband, or wife. I'm interested in what's wrong with the legal profession, and what's right with it. I'm interested in inspiration, and how that relates to any of this -- does what you're doing inspire you, or if it doesn't, what would need to change for it to do that.

Since he doesn't have comments on his blawg, Jeremy has been publishing some of the emails he's received. In chronological order, here's what he's got so far: post one, post two, post three, post four, post five, post six, post seven, post eight, post nine. There's a treasure trove of interesting perspectives there, so dig in.

One theme of those posts is the varying level of satisfaction with working as a legal professional, but there is more than one way to find happiness in the field. Just ask Dave Johnston, who left law school a few years ago and is now the chief blogger (or “Internet Content Manager”) at the Cato Institute in D.C. And if you decide you do want to be a lawyer rather than just working in a law-related position, yet you don't really dig law school, fear not! Who says a lawyer needs law school? Not me, that's fersure! As those of you who read the imbroglio regularly already know, getting rid of or generally improving law school is one of my favorite topics. Therefore, it was with relish that I noted several recent discussions about whether the third year of law school is really necessary, including this great summary post from Andrew Raff.

Oh, and if you're moving on from law school and looking for a job with a firm, rethink(ip) reminds you to be sure and ask your potential employer two important questions: “Who are your clients?  Who are your best clients?”

- - - - -

Well, that's it for this little protest review. Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions for getting your blawg posts included in upcoming issues.

From time to time, the Editor of Blawg Review also posts reviews of law blogs, sometimes republishing a review. Last week, there was a lengthy review of Crime & Federalism originally published by Mark Draughn. If you've seen a good review of a law blog, or would like to write one
for Blawg Review, please contact the Editor.

Posted September 26, 2005 07:46 AM | law general

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» Blawg Review #25 from Crime
Todd Chatman, of ambivalent imbroglio, is hosting Blawg Review #25. To learn more about ambivalent imbroglio, you can read Previewing Blawg Review #25. [Read More]

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Blogger ambivalent imbroglio has done a great job with Blawg Review #25, which he dubs the Protest Edition. Here's a taster: Since 'the largest show of antiwar sentiment in the nation's capital since the conflict in Iraq began' was [Read More]

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I'm a little late to the game (busy Monday)... but Blawg Review #25 is up over at ai. The theme for this issue is protest, which considering the arrest of Cindy Sheehan and other war protesters this weekend, seems appropriate.... [Read More]

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