Thursday, June 28, 2012

Professional Students Need To Think Twice About What They Post on Facebook

Last week the Minnesota Supreme Court held that University of Minnesota did not violate the free speech rights of a student enrolled in the Mortuary Science Program by imposing disciplinary sanctions for Facebook posts that violated academic program rules where the academic program rules were narrowly tailored and directly related to established professional conduct standards.
The court stressed that it was not applying a broad legal standard that "would allow a public university to regulate a student's personal expression at any time, at any place, for any claimed curriculum-based reason."
In this case the course syllabus for a required anatomy lab included rules "set up to promote respect for the cadaver."  The anatomy lab rules prohibited "blogging" about the anatomy lab or cadaver dissection.  It was explained to the students that blogging included Facebook and Twitter. 
This ruling could have broader application because the Minnesota constitutional right to free speech is coextensive with the First Amendment.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Free Legal Research - FastCase and Android Apps for FastCase

FastCase is offering both iPhone and android apps for free legal research. The apps will provide attorneys with access to the FastCase statutory and case law resources on their mobile devices. Want more detail on where FastCase is headed? Check Jean O'Grady's posting on Dewey B Strategic.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Unfair to Genius: The Strange and Litigious Career of Ira B. Arnstein

For summer recreational reading, I recommend Unfair to Genius:  The Strange and Litigious Career of Ira B. Arnstein, by Gary A. Rosen.  Students of copyright law will likely remember Ira B. Arnstein from the famous copyright infringement case, Arnstein v. Porter, 154 F.2d 464 (2nd Cir. 1946).  Arnstein made a career of bringing musical copyright infringement actions during the heyday of Tin Pan Alley, filing lawsuits against Cole Porter, E. B. Marks Music Company, Albert Dominguez, Irving Berlin, and Broadcast Music, Inc., among others, over a thirty year period.  Author Gary A. Rosen, a practicing intellectual property attorney, tells the story behind Arnstein's string of copyright infringement lawsuits.  The book is a remarkable psychological study of a perennial litigant.  Rosen brings Arnstein to life and humanizes him so that the reader feels for him and understands his Quixotic quest for recognition.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Another potential path to the Supreme Court for supporters of marriage equality

This is a bit of a sequel to Karen Breda's post from last week on the First Circuit's decision that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit granted another victory to supporters of marriage equality. Proponents of California's Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that limited marriage to heterosexual couples, asked the Ninth Circuit to reconsider a February ruling by a three judge panel of the Court; the three judge panel had affirmed federal district judge Vaughn Walker's holding that Prop 8 unconstitutionally discriminated against same-sex couples. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit refused that request for an en banc rehearing, leaving the Prop 8 supporters 90 days to file a petition of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.

SCOTUS watchers have been busy predicting if the highest court will choose either for review. There seems to be some agreement that the First Circuit case has a better chance since it's framed as a states' rights issue, while the California case, in its broadest form, asks the court to affirm a federal constitutional right for same-sex couples for marry. Stay tuned!