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Friday, October 28, 2016

Charged With a Crime? Don't Accept Interview Requests

The Des Moines Register reports:

A Des Moines woman has been arrested on suspicion of voting twice this month in the general election, police and court records show. 
Terri Lynn Rote, 55, was booked into the Polk County Jail about 3:40 p.m. Thursday on a first-degree election misconduct charge, which is a Class D felony. 
Rote, a registered Republican, reportedly cast an early voting ballot at the Polk County Election Office, 120 Second Ave., and another ballot at a county satellite voting location in Des Moines, according to a Des Moines police report.
Rote chose not to exercise her right to remain silent. From Iowa Public Radio:

"I wasn't planning on doing it twice, it was spur of the moment," says Rote. "The polls are rigged."
It appears that Rote made this comment after she was charged and released, as the Iowa Public Radio story indicates that it was updated to include Rote's statement. The report goes on to quote Polk County Attorney John Sarcone who confirms that cases of voter fraud are "very rare."

KCCI Des Moines reports that police were able to determine that Rote had voted twice by comparing signatures on election ballots. Rote's admission to media outlets that she voted twice will probably prove helpful to the prosecution's case against her as well.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sweden Effectively Bans Drones with Cameras

From The Verge:

The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden just ruled that camera drones qualify as surveillance cameras and require a permit under Sweden's camera surveillance laws. The ruling requires owners to cough up a sizable fee in order to get their equipment off the ground, and paying to start the process is no guarantee a citizen will be granted the right to fly. County administrators will have to consider whether use of a "surveillance camera" overrides the public's right to privacy on a case-by-case basis.
. . .
The ruling targets recreational and commercial users alike, and makes zero exceptions for journalists. Sweden's leading drone company Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) said up to 3,000 people may lose their jobs as a result of the court's decision.
Engadget suggests that even if people manage to pay the application fee, most applications will be denied as surveillance cameras are only permitted to prevent crime or accidents, and most people use drones with cameras for different purposes. ABC also reports that this is the case.

This is not the most extreme instance of countrywide drone restrictions. I previously blogged about India's ban on drones -- a ban that is still in place. While the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court's ruling is limited to the use of cameras attached to drones, the ruling will likely restrict a great deal of drone use.

Normally I would not place this much faith in secondary sources reporting on a ruling, but language barriers prevent me from investigating further. I think that the opinion is here, and any readers out their who know Swedish can feel free to flag any mistakes I have made in this post.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Luther on Placing Your First Law Review Article

From TaxProf Blog, I learned of this essay by Robert Luther III on the art of submitting law review articles for publication. Here is the abstract:

Many law reviews are only open to the top 10% of the class or to students who excel in a writing competition. While a high percentage of law schools now have at least one journal in addition to the law review, the reality is that well over half of the students enrolled in law school today do not have the opportunity to serve as a law review or journal staff member. Without that experience, those students-turned-lawyers who wish to publish legal scholarship after graduation are left in the dark about where to begin the process. I was one of those individuals, but over the last eight years, I have regularly published legal scholarship. Recently, my former students and other young attorneys have started asking me for advice. This essay — directed at emerging scholars who seek to publish their scholarship shortly after entering the legal profession — is a compilation of the advice I have shared.
The essay is a quick read, and I recommend checking it out. Luther devotes a bit too much space to the simple issue of submitting a curriculum vitae and cover letter (it could be shortened to: submit both and expect that neither will be read, let alone subjected to letterhead analysis). Additionally, tip number five on requesting expedited review is presented as though authors need to write a letter or email for each request -- which is generally not the case, as the submission websites ExpressO and Scholastica make the process almost entirely automatic.

For those in a hurry, I suggest following the one simple rule of: buy Eugene Volokh's Academic Legal Writing and do everything he tells you. It worked for me.

As for tips that I would add to Luther's essay, here are a few that came to mind:
  • If you are not currently in law school or a legal academic employed by a law school, start a savings account for the outrageous amount of money you will need to spend on submitting articles through Scholastica and ExpressO. ExpressO submissions are $3.10 each, and Scholastica costs $5.00 per submission. Authors hoping to cast a wide net (a description that probably applies to most people submitting for the first time) will find that these submission costs add up very fast.
  • On a related note, to push back against Luther's advisement against publishing while still in law school, students should take note that most law schools will pay all submission fees through their institutional account. While many schools may be reluctant to publish scholarship by student authors, students with access to unlimited free submissions can sent articles to so many journals that they may be lucky enough to find the exception.
  • While on the subject of student scholarship, students should consider submitting shorter pieces as essays or to online law review supplements. Those publications are more likely to be published without a "note" or "comment" label that Luther describes as a "scarlet letter" that frightens away those who would otherwise cite the article. You can find an excellent list of online law review supplements and their rankings here.
  • Avoid using overly complicated technical legal terms and submit something that is fun, or at least easy, to read.
  • Read and re-read Luther's ninth tip on coauthoring. It is very good advice that I don't see often enough in books or articles on this subject.
In short, students and practitioners should write, submit, and publish scholarship. Parts of the process can be tedious and time consuming, but it is ultimately a rewarding undertaking.

Monday, October 17, 2016

In Memoriam: Skye Donald

UCLA School of Law issued this press release earlier today which states in part:

UCLA Law faculty member Skye Donald, widely admired for her excellent teaching and extraordinary student mentorship, succumbed to cancer on Oct. 16. She was 43.
Donald joined UCLA School of Law in 2009, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor the following year. She nonetheless taught the Lawyering Skills course to hundreds of first-year students and assisted in upper-division clinical courses, and became an enormously successful and well- regarded teacher. In recognition of her excellence as an instructor, she was awarded a continuing appointment as a lecturer in law in 2015.
“Even in the midst of her very serious medical issues, Skye was extraordinarily focused on the well-being of those around her,” said UCLA Law Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin. “She worked very hard to understand and connect with her students, and she coupled high expectations with extraordinary empathy. We have lost a wonderful teacher, colleague and friend.”
Skye was my legal writing professor during my first year of law school. As my classmates and I attempted to manage our regular lecture coursework (including learning to glean rules and doctrine from cases and adapting to the Socratic method), we faced increasingly complex writing assignments that forced us to confront and adopt legal writing's terse analysis of facts and case law and the employment of cases as authority in legal arguments. For most of us, lecture courses were akin to learning to read in a different language and our legal writing course felt like learning to write in a different language.

Skye approached the task of teaching classes filled with stressed, confused, and stubborn students with an unceasingly positive demeanor. When finals and deadlines began to loom and tensions were high and tempers short, Skye defused the stormy atmosphere and renewed our confidence. She helped us see that with the right attitude and game plan, we could get through the seemingly endless piles of reading and work with which we were confronted. When I was confused about a grade or comment on an assignment, Skye took the time to talk me through my answer and her evaluation process and provided concrete guidance on how I could improve my work. Her cheerfulness cut through the darkest of days, and lifted the spirits of everybody in her presence.

My law school lecture courses gave me a doctrinal background that I have drawn on as an attorney. But without Skye's teaching, I would never have been able to employ my legal knowledge in motions, briefs, or blog posts. My legal writing abilities and my work as an attorney are both attributable to Skye and I will do my best to continue to employ and develop the skills she taught me. UCLA Law will not be the same without her.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Melania Trump Demands Removal of "Actionable" Statements from People Article

So reports Politico:

Donald Trump may not be planning to sue People over the magazine's story accusing him of sexual assault, but his wife Melania apparently is.
At 7:15 p.m. on Thursday night, Melania tweeted a copy of a letter bearing the return address of her lawyer, Charles Harder, and addressed to People editorial director Jess Cagle and People writer Natasha Stoynoff, who wrote a first-person account about Donald Trump forcibly kissing her at Mar-a-Lago in 2005.
Harder — who represented Hulk Hogan in his suit against Gawker, which was funded by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, and has sent threatening letters on Melania's behalf before — wrote that Stoynoff's account contained "actionable" falsehoods (though it did not call the article defamatory). The specific passage Melania Trump disputes: the account of the writer bumping into Melania and having a brief conversation with her outside of Trump Tower.
"The true facts are these: Mrs. Trump did not encounter Ms. Stoynoff on the street, or have any conversation with her. The two are not friends and were never friends or even friendly," Harder wrote.
A complete copy of the letter is here, and it is reprinted in full in the above Politico article.

The letter, which Politico notes uses the term "actionable," rather than "defamatory," does not specify what causes of action Melania Trump has against People. Melania's attorney contends that the statement gives rise to "claims of damages," but it is unclear how the mere statement that Melania recognized and said hello to Stoynoff is damaging in any way, even if it is false.

The letter states the vague threat that People's failure to retract the statements and issue an apology "will require Mrs. Trump to consider her legal options." Perhaps Melania and her attorneys should have considered the legal options before writing the letter, as Melania's legal options seem to be nonexistent.