Legal Health Break

It’s been a long week folks.  Time for a musical break.  Enjoy!

(Hat tip: The Dish)

A Judicial Dilemma In The Age Of Fault-Based Divorce

While reading some historical materials the other day, I came across an interview of a judge, long since deceased, who described how he resolved an interesting divorce case in the years before Connecticut adopted its no-fault divorce statute.  I’m interested in readers’ reactions to how the judge handled the case.

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The Real-World Impact Of The Supreme Court’s Campaign Finance Ruling

What is the likely impact, in the real world of politics, of yesterday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Comm’n, which struck down a federal law that limited the total or “aggregate” amount of money an individual could contribute to candidates and PACs in a federal election cycle? 

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Supreme Court Continues To Gut Campaign Finance Laws

A divided (5-4) United States Supreme Court today struck down a federal law limiting the total or “aggregate” amount of money that a single person can contribute to all federal candidates.   I’m not an authority on campaign finance law, but I do know one thing: if you really want to understand the majority opinion in a Supreme Court case, you should begin by reading the first several paragraphs of the dissenting opinion (if one exists).  Here is what Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, had to say in the opening paragraphs of his dissent in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Comm’n: 

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When Lawyers Sell Their Reputations (And Their Souls)

A lawyer’s reputation has value.  A good reputation serves as a proxy for years of hard work and success in representing clients, particularly in difficult cases.  There is nothing wrong, improper or unethical about a lawyer using his or her hard-earned reputation to attract new clients in a highly competitive market for legal services.

But a lawyer needs to be very careful not to sell his soul when a potential client wants to retain his services, not for his skills and experience, but for his reputation.  This is particularly true when an individual or a business retains a lawyer to conduct an internal investigation and to issue a public report of his findings and conclusions–like the report recently issued by former federal prosecutor Randy Mastro, a partner with the distinguished firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  The report ostensibly clears New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of any wrongdoing in connection with the George Washington Bridge-closure scandal.

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The “Perkins” Case And The “Legimate Public Concern” Test

If you are a CT-N junkie like me, or have been following reports in other media outlets concerning proposed legislation that would restrict access under the state Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to crime scene photographs and 911 calls, you’ve probably heard many references to two court cases, one called “Perkins,” the other called “Favish.”   The two cases establish different legal standards for determining when the public disclosure of a government document would constitute an invasion of someone’s personal privacy.  In fact, Don DeCesare, the co-chairman of the Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know, jokingly said in testimony before a legislative committee two weeks ago that he wished he had never heard of those two cases.  (They were discussed ad nauseam during task force meetings.)

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Legal Tidbit No. 1 For Journalists: Understanding Damage Allegations In A Complaint

One of the objectives of this blog is to help my friends in the media understand legal issues that aren’t always clear to people without legal training.  With that objective in mind, I’d like to take a moment to clear up some confusion about the meaning of allegations in a complaint concerning the amount of damages a plaintiff is seeking.  

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Is Michael Skakel A “Public Figure?,” Ctd

Nancy Grace is not taking Federal District Court Judge Vanessa Bryant’s recent rejection of her motion to dismiss Michael Skakel’s libel suit sitting down.  Today she filed a motion asking Judge Bryant to reconsider her ruling.

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Lawyers And Time

In December 2001, a fascinating (at least to me anyway) article appeared in the New York Times discussing a just-published law review article by Professor M. Cathleen Kaveny, then of the University of Notre Dame School of Law (and, before that, a colleague of mine at Ropes & Gray in Boston).  Cathleen held a dual appointment at the law school and Notre Dame’s divinity school, and the subject of her article was how the “billable hour mentality” distorts a lawyer’s sense of time and how that distorted sense of time shapes a lawyer’s life:

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Hellooooo Saginaw (And Thanks)!

In case you didn’t know (and you probably didn’t), March 16, 2014 was Freedom of Information Day!  Pat Johnston and Hilary Farrell, who co-host the “First Day on Sunday” morning show on WSGW, AM 790 in Saginaw, MI, marked the occasion on their show and on Pat’s blog, Out in Left Field.

How did they mark the occasion?  A staple of the blog is the “Monday Music Minute.”  Hilary scoured the Internet for songs about freedom of information and, after a little bit of work, found a song I had written a few years back to mark the 30th anniversary of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act.   Click here for the audio segment of Pat’s and Hilary’s show featuring my song, “The FOI!”

Many thanks to Pat and Hilary for finding–and playing–my silly musical tribute to the Freedom of Information Act–and for Hilary’s very kind words about my resume. ;)


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