17. December 2010 08:49
This morning I saw this Slashdot.org article about a mistrial declared in Florida because a juror searched Wikipedia for a term that was unknown to her. She was "just looking up a phrase". Despite numerous warnings from the judge to jurors to not research the case, the juror brought what she found on Wikipedia to the jury room.
This is nothing new. Back in January of 2010, a murder case was thrown out because a juror looked up a definition on Wikipedia as well. The Washington Post wrote a very good article about how technology has caused more trouble for jurors who need to refrain from using it while serving on a jury.
My pondering is... will jury rules need to change to adjust to our technology-filled world? Should lawyers provide definitions/more information to confused jurors, so that jurors don't need to feel that they should look things up themselves? All it takes is a Google search on a smartphone and they have their confusion resolved. Give your comments below!
16. December 2010 09:28
In New York, a small business owner is in dispute over the name of his store. The name in question? Chocolate Library. His choice in name has been rejected over the idea that it will confuse or mislead people into thinking it was an actual library. A law in New York since 2006 states that the commissioner for education must be consented for use of the word "library" among other words in a certificate of incorporation or company name.
Curious, I checked Westlaw for this law. Within the Westlaw Directory I selected U.S. State Materials, then I did a search for New York. I selected New York Statutes Annotated (NY-ST-ANN). I did a natural language search: commissioner of education consent to company registration name library. The third result down gave me the following explanation:
Effective January 1, 2006, an LLC may not use words, such as “school,” “education,” “college,” “university,” “museum,” “arboretum,” “historical society,” “library” or other term restricted by Section 224 of the Education Law, or any abbreviation or derivative of any such word, in its name without the consent of the Commissioner of Education. This provision is subdivision (i) of Section 204. In addition, Section 216 of the Education Law was simultaneously amended by adding an undesignated paragraph which provides that a company (which would include an LLC) may not knowingly use, advertise or transact business with the word “museum” or “arboretum” in its name unless authorized by special charter or the Board of Regents. An LLC that had been using either “museum” or “arboretum” in its name prior to the January 1, 2006 effective date of this provision had until December 31, 2006 to obtain the requisite consent to use such word. A violation of Section 204(i) would be a misdemeanor.
(Links require Westlaw login credentials. From: McKinney's Limited Liability Company Law § 204)
Read the article here from the New York Times.
What do you think? Should the State Education Department have the right to consent over names of corporations or companies? Comment below!
7. December 2010 14:55
The ownership of Dodgers Baseball Club is in play in the dissolution of the marriage of the McCourts. The question turns on the legal drafting of their post-nuptial agreement and the use of the words ‘inclusive’ verses ‘exclusive’ by their attorney, and provides a lesson in legal writing. Play Ball!
2. December 2010 16:04
Mark House, Adjunct Professor of Law at Phoenix School of Law and a principal in Becker & House, PLLC in Scottsdale, has won a case in the Arizona Supreme Court: Estate of McGathy/Waldow et al. v. LaPorta, CV-10-0102-PR (Dec. 2, 2010). Professor House teaches Trusts and Estates most semesters. This case demonstrates why civil procedure is important even for probate attorneys!
1. December 2010 11:51
Online dispute resolution (ODR) is a growing area of ADR. ODR exclusively uses websites with and without human facilitators instead of face-to-face discussion. The clients may use "automatic negotiation" or "cyber-mediation" among other services. The ODR sites are free and fee-based. The most common use of ODR is to resolve e-commerce disputes. The National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution offers more information on ODR.
One example of note is iCourthouse, an ODR site that allows anyone to select pending cases and participate online as a juror.