Articles Posted in 2011


A federal judge approved a joint request by mobile telecoms AT&T and T-Mobile to put their $39 billion merger litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division on hold.

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle signed off on the two companies’ joint motion to stay proceedings in the antitrust case until mid-January.

This appears to be a wise move.

Tagged: AT&T, DOJ, M&A, Merger, T-Mobile

I’m a little behind on this, but in September of this year, the AOC announced revisions to the Federal Rules of Evidence in the form of “re-styling.” The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules explains:

“The revision is intended to make the Evidence Rules easier to read, and to clarify, simplify, and modernize them without altering their substantive meaning,” said Judge Robert L. Hinkle (N. D. Fla). “There will be no change at all in the meaning or application of any rule. A judge or lawyer would get the right result using either a restyled rule or the old version. However, we think the chance of misunderstanding the rule is much smaller using the restyled version.”

The process began in 2007, and was released for the 2012 version of the FRE. As part of the effort, “Term usage was standardized, and the use of ambiguous words, such as “shall,” minimized along with outdated or archaic terms, intensifiers, and redundant terms and cross references. Rule numbers and citations were preserved to minimize the effects on research, but subdivisions were rearranged in some rules for greater clarity and simplicity. But terms were retained that have acquired special status from years of case law interpretation.”

Posted in: Legal Research

A juror who tweeted during a murder trial, and while he and his fellow jurors deliberated, led the Arkansas Supreme Court to reverse the conviction of a 26-year-old death row inmate.

While there were other factors that led the court to send the case back for a new trial, the tweets played a key role in its decision.

We’re not talking about a one time tweet either. The juror was a consistent, repeat offender who ignored the trial judge’s jury instructions even before opening statements about the case. He just couldn’t shake the Twitter bird off his back.


From the Free Government Information Blog (by way of beSpacific) comes word that the Congressional Research Service issued a report on November 30, 2011, titled “Congressional Lawmaking: A Perspective on Secrecy and Transparency.”  The 19-page report briefly outlines the history of the tension between secrecy and transparency in Congress, reviews the issues that emerged on this front during the formation of the 2011 Joint Select Deficit Reduction Committee, looks at various parts of lawmaking that are typically imbued with closed door activities, and closes with some summary observations.

All well and good, but . . .  is it just me, or does anyone else find it the topic slightly ironic given that the CRS itself seems reluctant to release unclassified and non-confidential (public domain) copies of their reports in any systematic way, and no comprehensive list of these reports is even publicly available?  As the first sentence of the Report notes, “Openness is fundamental to representative government.”  That openness should include access these valuable public policy documents paid for with our tax dollars.

CRS Resources

Posted in: Legal Research

Facebook is hacking Congress. But don’t be alarmed.

It’s all legal. Really.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers and their staffs are making nice on Capitol Hill this afternoon in a hackathon with Facebook engineers and software developers.

Mark Zucerkberg’s team is helping Senators, Representatives, and congressional staffers brush up on their social media skills.


Each year, on this fateful date, we remember the sacrifices of those we lost on December 7, 1941. In observance of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation honoring those patriots who gave their lives in defense of our nation during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Today, we join our fellow Americans in saluting and honoring our veterans for their sacrifices. Thank you.

Here are some photos from my visit to the USS Arizona Memorial.

Posted in: Laws

Would televising U.S. Supreme Court proceedings promote transparency in the country’s highest legal institution and help generate public confidence in the judiciary, or would putting the court’s oral arguments on TV or the Internet demean the institution?

These and other questions were raised in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning on “Access to the Court: Televising the Supreme Court.”


A Brooklyn jury acquitted a man accused of gun possession charges after his criminal defense lawyers discovered a treasure trove of derogatory, racist digital evidence on a Facebook group created by NYPD officers.

According to the New York Times, police officers who did not want to work at New York City’s annual West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn created a Facebook group to share their displeasure, complete with vulgar, intolerant epithets directed at members of New York City’s Caribbean community celebrating the event.


Carrier IQ, a mobile phone software and data analytics company that gives telecoms business intelligence on connections, dropped calls and user behavior was hit with at least eleven consumer class-action lawsuits alleging privacy and Federal Wiretap Act violations.

The lawsuits accuse the telecom software analystics company of variously recording Android or Apple mobile phone users’ text messages, e-mails and keystrokes, but a number of reports seriously question such claims.


Last week a New York trial judge denied a defense discovery request for a personal injury plaintiff’s current and historical Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter account information.

New York Justice George J. Silver of State Supreme Court in Manhattan reasoned that simply making conclusory allegations that a party’s “Facebook account is material and necessary to their [client’s] defense” is insufficient to justify disclosure of a litigant’s private Facebook records.

Then Justice Silver talked about a Facebook “fishing expedition”: