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We had some cases with interesting facts come up this week.

The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling on providing survivor benefits to children conceived by in vitro fertilization, with frozen sperm, after the father died. In Astrue v. Capato, Respondent mother of the twins applied for Social Security survivors benefits for the twins, relying on 42 U.S.C. 416(e) of the Social Security Act, which defined child to mean, inter alia, “the child or legally adopted child of an [insured] individual.” The Social Security Administration denied the application, reading the act to entitle biological children to benefits only if they were qualified to inherit as a decedent under state intestacy law. The USSC upheld this interpretation, ruling that it was more in tune with the purpose of the statute, to provide for children who were supported by the deceased wage earner.

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Well, it hasn’t been a good week for the reputation of the legal profession.

By now, you’ve heard that the 9th Circuit ruled on Padilla v. Yoo, finding that plaintiffs do not have a cause of action against the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Yoo for injuries suffered as a result of Mr. Yoo’s “torture memos.” The Court found that Yoo was entitled to qualified immunity under Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, because regardless of the legality of plaintiff’s detention and the wisdom of Yoo’s judgments, at the time he acted the law was not “sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he [wa]s doing violated[d]” plaintiff’s rights.

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Here is a rundown of March’s highest scoring lawyers on Justia Legal Answers, along with a look at which Justia Dockets legal filings, Tech Law blog posts, and Facebook posts readers viewed the most.

Justia Legal Answers’ Top 10 Legal Answerers for March 2012

  1. Min G. Kim, 880 points, 18 answers
  2. David Philip Shapiro, 705 points, 14 answers
  3. Gojko Kasich, 600 points, 12 answers
  4. Vincent Ronald Ross, 560 points, 12 answers
  5. Andrew Bresalier, 500 points, 10 answers
  6. Daniel Marc Berman, 430 points, 18 answers
  7. Janet Rubel 400 points, 8 answers
  8. James Kenneth Sweeney, 300 points, 6 answers
  9. Benjamin P. Urbelis 250 points, 5 answers
  10. Michael Howard Joseph, 210 points, 5 answers

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James J. 'Whitey' Bulger pictureWhitey Bulger, the indicted and apprehended alleged ringleader of Boston’s notorious ‘Winter Hill Gang’ organized crime family, needs “a reasonable amount of time to review a tsunami’s worth of discovery,” according to Bulger’s defense lawyers J.W. Carney, Jr. and and Henry B. Brennan.

The statement was made in a filing with the Massachusetts federal court this morning (read the legal filing below).

Just how much material?

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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.


It’s a bad week for government documents. OMB Watch recently reported that the House voted to cut funding to the Government Printing Office. This comes as no surprise, given the recent budget drama, and it’s not likely to get a lot of mainstream attention with looming cuts to entitlement programs and the military funding.

It’s important for those of us that advocate for government transparency and open access to take note, however. The GPO is the office tasked with preserving and disseminating federal documents. Cuts to its budget means less access to the law for people who can least afford to pay for it.

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In an enlightening decision, a federal judge ruled this week that Las Vegas-based copyright litigation enterprise Righthaven had no legal basis to sue one defendant, Democratic Underground, because it didn’t even own the copyright it was suing over.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hunt was particularly peeved to learn that Righthaven was trying to engage in legal slight-of-hand by purportedly having publisher Stephens Media, LLC assign it any right to sue for copyright infringement. This was impossible, the court concluded, because copyright law forbids assigning the right to sue over alleged infringement; “only the owner of an exclusive right under a copyright may bring suit.”


Here is a rundown of May’s highest scoring lawyers on Justia Legal Answers, along with a look at which Onward blog and Facebook posts readers viewed the most.

Justia Legal Answers’ Top 10 Legal Answerers for May 2011

  1. Mark A. Siesel, 3475 points, 70 answers
  2. Rodney John Alberto, 2,747 oints, 57 answers
  3. Burton A. Padove, 2,680 points, 54 answers
  4. Ryan P. Sullivan, 950 points, 22 answers
  5. Andrew Bresalier, 701 points, 14 answers
  6. Jeffrey D. Heck, 360 points, 8 answers
  7. Robert James Reynolds, 350 points, 7 answers
  8. J. Richard Kulerski Esq., 300 points, 6 answers
  9. Eric M Wiechert, 300 points, 7 answers
  10. David Philip Shapiro Esq, 281 points, 6 answers

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36 U.S. Code § 116 requests that the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying for permanent peace. Here are some photos and videos of how various Presidents and the people of the United States have observed Memorial Day / Decoration Day over the ages.

Memorial Day 2010: President Barack Obama laying a wreath at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

Credit: Pete Souza.

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The Supreme Court has handed down opinions in some of the cases that we blogged about back in October. Here are the updates.


Back in October, I wondered whether this case would add to the growing list of personal rights for corporations. The short answer is no. The Court held that corporations are not entitled to a “personal privacy” exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. 5 U. S. C. §552(b)(7)(C).