Bitter News, 11-19-09

Headlines from the Bitter Newsroom that kill fun like a sex offender answering Santa letters:

• A lot of things in Texas are big and fake, but are all marriages too?  “Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.” The phrase?  “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” Woops.  [McClatchy]

• Whenever you’re in front of a computer, the elephant in the room is always Big Brother.  Who’s watching over your every keystroke?  Above the Law points out that, based on an IP address, news director Kurt Greenbaum at The St. Louis Post Dispatch called the employer of a person who left vulgar comments on the news site.  To which the employer reacted by tracking the commenter down and confronting him, resulting in him resigning on the spot.  The right call by Greenbaum?  Doesn’t seem like it.  In fact, it earned him the “disgrace, douche, pussy” award from The Legal Satyricon.  But what about every damn email you send out while at work or using an employer’s server?  Surprise—you may actually be safer.  Courts are beginning to raise the bar on “rulings that hinge on the ‘expectation of privacy.’” But that still doesn’t make Kurt Greenbaum any less of a dbag.  [Wall Street Journal]

• Richard Nixon is relevant in legal news today for a couple reasons…

1. Washington lawyer Herbert J. “Jack” Miller Jr. died on November 14.  His career as one of the first attorneys to “specialize in white-collar criminal defense” included prosecuting Jimmy Hoffa and securing the pardon of President Nixon, preventing the release of Nixon’s White House Watergate tapes.  [Washington Post]

2. President Obama repeated a historical Nixon moment when he made a statement indicating 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was already a lock for the death penalty even though his trial hasn’t even begun.  And just as Nixon declared Charles Manson a murderer before he was convicted, scholars say it ain’t a thing. 

[AP via ABA Journal]

• Skadden is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Cravath and Cleary by announcing an identical bonus structure for 2009.  You decide if that goes on Santa’s naughty or nice list.  [WSJ Law Blog]

• The wife of a Dallas County District Attorney has been passed around between seven criminal judges, and it “looks bad” because she’s maybe providing “favors.” [The Dallas Morning News]

• Another crazy lawsuit takes flight.  “[A] former civil litigation attorney and father of young triplets is blaming his personal, professional, financial, emotional and physical anguish on jet noise and air pollution. Now he’s suing, well, everyone, for $15 million.” Not sure why at no point during the destruction of his life he never considered moving.  But if the mere functioning of an airport crushed his marriage, his in-laws must be saints.  Or quietly dead.  [San Francisco Chronicle]

• We’re neither gentlemen or scholars here at Bitter Lawyer.  But Google is the latter.  The addition of full-length legal opinions to Google Scholar is practically the second coming of Gutenberg.  [Law And More]

• Ready for your close-up, sheriff’s detention Officer Adam Stoddard?  A judge ordered him to apologize VIA NEWS CONFERENCE for taking documents out of a defense attorney’s file.  [AZCentral.com]

• So the government’s American Opportunity Tax Credit threw you a bone of $2.5K for some education.  If you’re in the University of California system, that will hardly even be noticeable.  A proposed hike would raise tuition at UCLA Law to $40,522, which would plop it in the top tier of most expensive law schools[Los Angeles Times]

Update: Ah, crap.  It just happened.  [Los Angeles Time]

• Cancer-free = lawsuit-free. Daniel Hauser, the 13-year-old who’s family was under a child protection order after running away with Hauser and refusing chemotherapy treatment, now has a clean bill of health and the judge has dropped charges.  [Associated Press]

• Looks like Obama is the meat in a doctor/lawyer sandwich.  An AP poll (below) found that 54% of people favor “making it harder to sue doctors and hospitals for mistakes taking care of patients.” “But congressional Democrats are reluctant to press forward on the issue. They don’t want to upset a valuable political constituency—trial lawyers.” [Associated Press]

• What happens when you Google a particular ambulance chaser, and the one you wanted doesn’t come up No. 1?  Drama.  Two Milwaukee personal injury firms are going at it over online advertising and search results.  Just better hope there’s no asbestos in that there Google.  [JSOnline]

• That bitch Katrina rears her ugly head again.  A federal judge found the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers guilty of failing to maintain a waterway believed to have led to the flooding of parts of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.  Four plaintiffs were each awarded $170,000, which could lead to billions in payouts if the rest of the city gets the same idea.  And as soon as you see that your neighbor just won $170K, you’re going to get the same idea.  [CNN]

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