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Showing posts from August, 2012

Model Jury Instructions on Social Media Approved

The Tex Parte Blog has recently reported that the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management has approved model jury instructions aimed at curtailing jurors from posting their opinions regarding a case on social networking sites. The instructions are broad in that they ban jurors from commenting on a case on their "cell phone (s), text messaging, or on Twitter, through any blog or website, including Facebook, Google+, My Space, LinkedIn, or YouTube." The article reports that the model instructions were approved based on a national survey of federal judges originally requested by the committee. I will follow up with any further developments.

Bluebook Now Available as a Mobile App

According to a recent press release, the editors of The Bluebook, A Uniform System of Citation, have chosen the Rulebook app, to exclusively publish The Bluebook for mobile devices. The app provides access to The Bluebook as well as current federal and state court rules and users can search all sources by words or phrases, bookmark, highlight or annotate text, and view multiple rules and authorities simultaneously. The app is currently available through the App Store and available for all Apple devices. It is free to download but access to The Bluebook will cost $39.99. The federal court rules and select authorities along with the rules and authorities for specific states including Texas are available on the Rulebook app for an extra fee.

Some Welcome Additions to Lexis Advance

In its most recent release, Lexis Advance added some new functionality that gets it a little closer to being as good a legal research tool as lexis.com. Two of the least obvious of these welcome additions are the new Snapshot view and the new Recently Viewed icon.SnapshotThe new Snapshot view is basically an initial overview of results. Each Content Type searched is displayed as a "pod" that can be opened or closed. When opened, the first three documents from that Content Type are displayed. If you would like to examine any of those three documents, you can click on them from here; however, if you want to see any of the other results for that Content Type, you must click on the Content Type's tab. Once they work out the kinks in the Relevancy rankings, this will be a very useful feature.I really like the Snapshot view, but I wish it also displayed the number of results for each Content Type as well. For example, beside the Content Type's title (e.g., "Cases"…

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Can you feel that? I sure can. It’s beginning to feel like football season!Although the professional football season is just around the corner it now seems like there is football news all year round.The off-season is more than the draft or what free agent signed with what new team. The NFL football off-season is now full of stuff lawyers love; investigations and law-suits.
The two big legal stories that dominated the professional off-season were the investigation of the New Orleans Saints for putting bounties on opposing players and the ongoing litigation over concussions suffered by former players. 
In the first case the New Orleans Saints have been accused of putting bounties on players from opposing teams. What this means is that Saints defensive players were each putting up a certain amount of money and whoever knocked an opposing player out for a few plays, or for the rest of a game, was awarded the pot of money. This is, however, against NFL rules and the Saints were punished, …

Improving Juror Response Rates- By Carrot or Stick

Have you been called to serve jury duty lately? Did you heed your summons and perform your civil duty? In many areas, if your jury summons got lost in the mail, was eaten by the dog, or simply forgotten, there’s a good chance no consequence will come from your lapse. In some Texas counties, however, this is changing. This week, Texas Lawyer reported that Dallas County is changing its tune when it comes to no-show jurors. Dallas County began a Jury Services Court pilot program in response to jury turnout rates as low as 20%. Jurors who don’t respond to their jury summons may be sent a notice summoning them to Jury Services Court, which is presided over by Judge Gena Slaughter of the 191st District Court. Once they appear, the jurors may explain their absence, and reschedule their date for jury service. If jurors do not appear on the rescheduled date, a show cause contempt order is issued, and if not responded to, a warrant may be issued for their arrest and fines may be imposed. Texas …

The American Bar Association & Dangerous Dog Laws

On Monday, August 6, the ABA House of Delegates approved Resolution 100, which calls for laws regarding dangerous dogs to be “breed neutral.” The resolution states that “the American Bar Association urges all state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and government agencies to adopt breed-neutral dangerous dog/reckless owner laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership, and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs, and to repeal any breed discriminatory or breed specific legislation." This Resolution brings up two distinct, but interesting questions. Are dogs and their owners denied due process through state and local laws that are not breed neutral? And if so, what impact does an ABA Resolution have in changing the laws that govern these owners and their pets?
First, the due process rights of pets and their owners. Though a recent case filed against Sea World in San Diego by animal-rights group PETA (People for the Ethi…

Regulation Tracking: Part 2: Private Sites

In Part 1 of Regulation Tracking we looked at three free federal regulation trackers sponsored by the U.S. government.In Part 2 we will take a look at some regulations trackers sponsored by private groups and see how they stack up against the ones sponsored by the government.
Openregs.com (www.openregs.com) is a project of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The site is tabbed across the top with tabs for “Today”, “Agencies “, “Learn”, and “Regulatory Report Card”. The “Today” tab lists rules that have their comment period closing today, rules recently opened for comment, recently published final regulations, and recently proposed “economically significant” regulations.On previous days I noted that they also list proposed and final rules. Along the side is section for “Popular on OpenRegs.com” and “Regulations in the News.”The front page is very helpful, boiling down important matters that appear in the Federal Register to manageable categories and providing links to the …

Lawyers Famous Not for Being Lawyers

There are many famous lawyers, and then there are people who went to law school and became famous for something besides practicing law. The names Howard Cosell and Bert Sugar come to mind (with the Olympics going on I must be fixated on sports). One of the most famous of the lawyers who became famous for something else besides law was born on this day in 1779. That person was Francis Scott Key, famous lawyer and author of the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner. 
Key attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD and apprenticed in his uncle’s law office. During the War of 1812 Key found himself on a British ship attempting to obtain the release of Dr. William Beane who was a British prisoner. Key was forced to stay on the ship during the attack on Baltimore because he had become familiar with the disposition of the British forces. Key witnessed the bombardment of Ft. McHenry located in Baltimore Harbor and composed the poem “Defense of Ft. McHenry” the next day. The poem was published …