What would you do if you came home one day and found a mob of 30 people
looting your home? Robert Salisbury, a Jacksonville, Oregon contractor,
faced such a crowd and it appears that the Internet is to blame.
Someone placed an announcement on Craigslist stating that Salisbury was
moving and that everything was up for grabs -- and grab they did. The
distraught homeowner said "I informed them I was the owner, but they
refused to give the stuff back, they showed me the Craigslist printout
and told me they had the right to do what they did." Eventually, the
local constabulary arrived, but not before several cars and trucks
filled with Salisbury's possession had fled the scene. Read the full
Seattle Times article here.
This incident is eerily similar to
one that took place about a year ago in Tacoma, Washington. In that
case the police were successful in tracking down the author of the bogus ad and she was later charged
with second-degree burglary, malicious mischief and criminal
impersonation. Read the full Seattle Times article here.
The ABA Journal's April 2008 cover story on U.S. News & World Report's law school rankings includes an interview with the man who devised the ranking system, Bob Morse. After reading the article, I found out that Bob Morse has his very own blog, Morse Code. How very clever.
For those of you who would like to pose some questions to Morse about law school rankings, you can find him answering questions live at ABAJournal.com on Friday, April 11,
from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern Time (that's Noon to 1 pm Pacific Time, California natives!).
WisBlawg reports that you can now find law review article citations from HeinOnline mixed in with your Google Scholar search results. HeinOnline is the "world's largest image-based legal research database" and it features a very large law journal library. Because HeinOnline includes the older volumes of law reviews, it can be a more useful database for legal periodical research on certain topics than Lexis or Westlaw. I ran a few test searches and found some HeinOnline articles in my Google Scholar search results. Google Scholar will display the first page of the article only, but if you're logged on to the USF network and click the "Subscriber Access" link on the right-hand side of the page, you'll be logged on to HeinOnline automatically and will be able to access the article's full text in PDF format.
A recent Law.com article notes that Justice Scalia mentioned Oscar the Grouch in his dissenting opinion in Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, released last Tuesday. When I was a kid, Oscar the Grouch was my favorite Sesame Street character (this fact will come as little surprise to some of my colleagues, I'm sure!), so I was thrilled to see him make an appearance in Supreme Court jurisprudence. I even attempted to name one of my first dolls after Oscar, but because my 2-year-old pronunciation of "Oscar" left something to be desired, she ended up with the more gender-neutral name of "Soccer."
I was curious whether any other children's TV show characters or childhood icons have made it into Supreme Court cases. I found one mention of the Lone Ranger in Justice Scalia's dissent in Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995). I also found a discussion of Fred Rogers' testimony in Justice Stevens' opinion in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984) (Fred Rogers is Mr. Rogers of the beloved TV show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood). But no mention of Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Barbie, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, or a host of other characters. However, I fully expect to see more popular culture references from Justice Scalia in the future since he has managed to work in two such references in the last 13 years.
An entry for the blog ScienceDaily explodes some long held assumptions about the reliability of testimony by child witnesses. Researchers now suggest that child witnesses see and recall events differently from adults. According to the article:
"Scientists found that humans exhibit two types of memory. They call one 'verbatim trace,' in which events are recorded very precisely and factually. Children have more 'verbatim trace,' but as they mature, they develop more and more of a second type of memory: 'gist trace,' in which they recall the meaning of an event, its emotional flavor, but not precise facts. 'Gist trace' is the most common cause of false memories, occurring most often in adults. Research shows that children are less likely to produce false memories, because gist trace develops slowly. As a result, children's recollections could be more reliable than those of adults, and this could lead to ramifications in the courtroom".
They compared human memory to the two-faced god Janus and hope that their research will "...reduce the number of false memories in court cases and give more validity to children's testimony."
We've all heard of lawsuits over mold infestation or lead contamination within residential properties, but apparently, if you're looking for a new home, you need to worry about more than just mold, old paint, and other maintenance issues. You've also got to worry about meth. According to this Law.com article, residents are suing landlords and the individuals from whom they purchased homes, alleging health problems stemming from the property's former use as a meth lab. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, meth production can use chemicals known to cause cancer, such as benzene, and living in a former meth lab can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, respiratory difficulties, and a whole host of other nasty health problems
The problem is severe enough that 13 states now require owners of residences formerly used as meth labs to clean them up before they can sell the properties or use them as homes again. Not surprisingly, California is on top of this problem -- our legislature has already passed the Methamphetamine Contaminated Property Cleanup Act of 2005, Cal. Health & Safety Code secs. 25400.10 et seq. This legislation sets forth clean-up standards for properties that have been contaminated by meth labs and requires local health officers and property owners to take certain actions whenever they receive notification of a meth lab on or adjacent to residential property. For those of you interested in delving deeper (and who wouldn't be?), you can find the Act's legislative history here.
Washington and Lee's law school announced recently that it is completely changing the structure of its third year curriculum by replacing all academic courses with experiential courses. According to the school's press release, "traditional classroom instruction will be replaced by practice simulations,
real-client interactions and the development of law practice skills. All third
year students will be required to obtain a Virginia practice certificate and
participate in at least one real-client experience during the year." Students will have a choice of practice areas, and the school plans to include transactional courses focusing on areas like banking and corporate finance. Most of these recent curricular changes at law schools are being driven in part by the 2007 Carnegie Report, which called for changes in how law students are taught so that students have more practical, "real-life" experiences before they begin practicing law. And I have to think that students themselves will be pleased with these changes. My third year of law school definitely felt a bit superfluous, and I would have jumped at the chance to gain some real practice skills before I graduated. I hope we see more law schools moving in this direction soon!
The San Francisco Chronicle has an extensive article this morning about tomorrow's oral arguments on the same sex marriage cases at the California Supreme Court. Briefs by the parties can be found here. Interested in watching the arguments live? You can view them at the following locations (9 am to noon): the Milton Marks Conference Center in the basement of the court
building at 350 McAllister Street, SF; Hastings College of the Law, 198 McAllister Street, SF,
first-floor auditorium; limited seating at the Koret
Auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
Looking for resources about same sex marriage legal developments in California? Check out UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies page, "Same-Sex Marriage in California: Overview and Issues." The page includes links to newspaper articles, public opinion polls, bibliographies, and advocacy group websites.