Law blog roundup

speed cameraWelcome to Monday, the day before the 24th anniversary of the best rendition I ever heard of this Gladys Knight and the Pips standard. Here are some news items to get your week started.

– Federal judge deems New York’s stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional.

– U.S. attorney general seeks to alter mandatory minimum sentences.

– British businessman’s family seeks damages in Chinese murder case.

– Speed cameras come to Chicago. Can Windy City legal challenges be far behind?


Attorney named to Md.’s international advisory council

Gov. Martin O’Malley has named an attorney from Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP to Maryland’s International Advisory Council.

The Baltimore-based law firm announced Alexander W. Koff’s appointment Wednesday.

Koff already has significant international experience. He is the co-chair of the firm’s international practice and focuses mainly on international business transactions, government investigations, regulatory issues, litigation and arbitration. He has clients in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.

The council focuses on the state’s international profile. It was created in 2009 and is made up of 20 members from various business areas and industries.

Legal battles (literally) in Pakistan

pakistan lawyersNext time you think you had a bad day at the office, consider this:

But lawyers seem to be accorded a special measure of scorn: Many banks refuse to give them loans, and landlords won’t rent them property, fearful that the pettifoggers will find loopholes to worm out of making payments.

That’s the situation in eastern Pakistan, where lawyers have gone from exalted to the strongest antonym you can find in your thesaurus for “exalted,” according to The Washington Post.

Courtroom violence is becoming all too common in the region, where those involved in legal matters are “increasingly fearful of marauding lawyers in their trademark black pants, coats and ties.”

For some context, Pakistani lawyers earn around $150 a month and their “offices” consist of “an open-air warren of rickety chairs, battered desks and crumbling piles of manila-jacketed case files.”

The story also has a quote from a judge who struck a lawyer with a paperweight in court last year. It concludes with this gem from a local bar association president:

“We’ve had only one episode of an advocate throwing his shoes at the judge.”

So they have that going for them, which is nice.

Law blog roundup

ricky and lucyWelcome to Monday, the 61st anniversary of the television premiere of “I Love Lucy.” Here now, without commercial interruption, is the weekly roundup.

– An Israeli judge issues a Kafkaesque ruling.

– Egypt’s top prosecutor keeps job amid calls for independent judiciary.

– Captain in fatal shipwreck hears the evidence against him in an Italian court.

– Human-rights lawyer will serve as Libya’s interim prime minister.

Law blog roundup

Good Monday morning. If you’re still tired after losing an hour of sleep over the weekend, look at the bright side: it may be light outside when you leave your office tonight. If that doesn’t do it for you, perhaps the law links below will.

  • A lawyer reviewing claims that chemical testing at Fort Detrick has caused a cancer cluster says it ain’t so.
  • Law firms are doing better, but it’s mostly because of cost-cutting measures.
  • Maryland’s failed gay marriage bill exposed religious fault lines.
  • When all it takes is “I’m sorry.”
  • Ag art lovers: better get out there and get snapping soon. A Florida bill could make it illegal to take photos of farms there.
  • The National Law Journal has a comprehensive package on Legal Aid.
  • A Philadelphia public school teacher has been yanked her from the classroom for publicly opposing a plan to turn her school into a charter school. The union expects her to be fired today.
  • L’Affaire Renault.

For the ‘Love’ of biking

Last year at this time, Mike Hamburg was preparing to bike around northern Israel to raise money for a children’s hospital in Jerusalem. This year’s Wheels of Love charity ride will take him on a route near Israel’s borders with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

“A bunch of Jewish doctors and lawyers biking near Gaza; nothing good can happen,” the Pikesville lawyer joked Monday. (For the record, police escorts accompany riders throughout the five-day bike ride.)

Continue reading

No longer a “bafana” game

One of the best parts of the World Cup is the national teams’ nicknames. You’ve got the champion Furia Roja and the runner-up Oranje, not to mention El Tri, the Super Eagles and the Blue Samurai, to name a few.

(You can see a full list here. The U.S. is nicknamed the Yanks, which is, well, kinda lame.)

Outside of the Socceroos, however, the best nickname is Bafana Bafana, which belongs to South Africa. Sort of.

That’s because the phrase “Bafana Bafana” (Zulu for “boys, boys”) was actually copyrighted by a South African businessman in 1994. The South African Football Association, which uses the name, lost a lawsuit before the country’s highest court for control of the name in 2002.

Earlier this week, a South African government official suggested Bafana should be changed because of the lack of a copyright. As the AP noted in its story, “There is no indication the current owners of the brand will sue SAFA for using the term, but the country’s soccer association is unable to market it and make money from it.”

SAFA officials said this week they might seek the public’s help in choosing a new nickname. One thing’s for sure: whatever is chosen will probably be better than the Yanks.

(Hat Tip to for the photo above.)

A policy anything but lax

Upstate New York is the birthplace of many things – Wegmans, the Buffalo wing, and snowstorms, to name a few. The region’s most notable sports export is arguably lacrosse, which the Iroquois helped invent more than a 1,000 years ago.

You might know where I’m going with this: An Iroquois lacrosse team has been prevented from traveling to England for the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships due to passport issues. The British government will not allow the team’s members to enter the country using Iroquois-based passports. Team members say they will not obtain U.S. or Canadian passports because they do not consider themselves citizens of either country.

The team, known as the Nationals, has already been forced to forfeit its opening game Thursday against England and faces another forfeit for Saturday’s game against Japan.

I’m not a die-hard lacrosse fan, but it seems like something would be missing if you hold an international tournament without the sport’s founders. It would be like going to a Lionel Richie concert and not hearing “All Night Long.”

Incidentally, the team was initially prevented from traveling by the U.S. government because the passports lack modern security features. A lawyer for the team said the Iroquois nation is transitioning to the more secure passports. In the meantime, Hillary Clinton helped the team secure a one-time travel waiver.

Your move, United Kingdom.

Legal news from Down Under

From a man at work who enjoys Men at Work, here now some news tidbits from Australia.

  • The headline says it all: “Ninja students foil Aussie mugging.” Three blokes in the middle of beating a man for his iPod and cell phone fled the scene of the crime when “five black-clad ninjas” came to the rescue. The ninjitsu students were training at a nearby hall when one saw the mugging in progress. Two of the men have been arrested.
  • People entering Australia must now declare at customs if they are carrying pornography. An affirmative declaration allows customs officials to search the luggage to determine if the material is legal. The move has drawn protest as an invasion of privacy by the Australian Sex Party, which notes there is no formal definition of pornography on the customs form.

Now, if you’re like me, your first thought about the second story was, “Australian Sex Party? Really?” At the risk of getting fired, I performed a quick Internet search which indicates that it does in fact exist.

G’day to everyone.

Singing Filipinos don’t go ‘My Way’

I don’t do karaoke, but I’ve thought I should have some go-to karaoke songs if ever in a position where my singing could save a damsel in distress or my own life. (Preliminary list: Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It”, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and, of course, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’”)

Now, thanks to The New York Times, I know that if my sing-or-death scenario ever happens in the Philippines, there is one song absolutely to avoid – Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

According to The Times:

The authorities do not know exactly how many people have been killed warbling “My Way” in karaoke bars over the years in the Philippines, or how many fatal fights it has fueled. But the news media have recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade and includes them in a subcategory of crime dubbed the “My Way Killings.”

The story does not say if anyone has been prosecuted for the karaoke-related attacks, unlike a Seattle woman charged in 2007 with hitting a man as he began singing Coldplay’s “Yellow.” But it does point out that karaoke is something of a national pastime on the archipelago, and many karaoke bar owners have simply removed the Sinatra standard from their playlists.

No one is quite sure why “My Way” elicits such a deadly response, but The Times offers an anecdotally-based guess:

Filipinos, who pride themselves on their singing, may have a lower tolerance for bad singers. Indeed, most of the “My Way” killings have reportedly occurred after the singer sang out of tune, causing other patrons to laugh or jeer.

Yup, I’ll stick to practicing those Steve Perry high notes.