Alison Frankel

At heart of transgender rights case at SCOTUS, a controversial legal doctrine

September 29, 2016

(Reuters) – Briefing wrapped up this week in one of the most hotly anticipated petitions the U.S. Supreme Court will consider this fall: a Virginia school board’s request for the justices to review a federal circuit ruling that under the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX, a transgender high school student who identifies as a boy is entitled to use boys’ bathrooms at school.

9th Circuit in Picasso case: U.S. judges can look beyond briefs to interpret foreign law

September 28, 2016

(Reuters) – U.S. district court judges spend their days swimming in the deep sea of American law, usually federal law, but they easily adapt when they are called upon to apply state law. Once in a while, though, U.S. courts have to interpret the law of other countries – and in those instances, federal judges can be like saltwater fish dumped in a freshwater pond.

2nd Circuit in Vivendi case: Corporations can be liable for prolonging misconceptions

September 27, 2016

(Reuters) – The 2nd Circuit on Tuesday upheld a 2010 judgment of about $50 million against the French media conglomerate Vivendi. In an opinion by Judge Debra Livingston, the appeals court rejected the company’s arguments that it did not deceive a class of American Depository Shareholders with assurances in the early 2000s that Vivendi had plenty of cash on hand, despite internal communications about a looming liquidity crisis.

Yelp and the constitutional right to distribute bad reviews

September 23, 2016

(Reuters) – In January 2013, an ex-client of the California personal injury lawyer Dawn Hassell posted a one-star review of Hassell’s firm on Yelp, the online consumer site. The reviewer used a pseudonym, but Hassell figured out it was Ava Bird, whom she had represented briefly. Hassell tried to get Bird to change or take down the review, which the lawyer said was factually inaccurate and defamatory. When Bird doubled down, Hassell sued her in state court in San Francisco. In July 2013, Hassell won a default judgment against Bird, who did not appear in court to defend her supposedly defamatory statements.

Judge wanted 6th year associates to argue Fitbit motion, MoFo lets him down

September 23, 2016

(Reuters) – U.S. District Judge James Donato of San Francisco is one of about three dozen federal judges in California, Texas and Massachusetts to have made a real commitment to promoting the professional development of young lawyers. According to the group Next Generation Lawyers, these judges have all issued orders, sometimes standing and sometimes case-specific, encouraging firms to permit relatively junior associates to present arguments and question witnesses. A few of the judges offer an incentive: They will entertain oral arguments on motions that would otherwise be decided on the briefs only if firms designate junior lawyers to argue.

Can insider trading case at SCOTUS help Leon Cooperman?

September 22, 2016

(Note strong language in graph 8)

On Oct. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a question that has created considerable confusion in lower courts: When the government claims a corporate outsider has profited from trading illegally on inside information, what must it prove about the motive of the insider who supplied the tip?

Does 2nd Circuit give foreign defendants an escape hatch via Vitamin C decision?

September 21, 2016

In a way, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Tuesday to toss a $147.8 million price-fixing judgment against two Chinese manufacturers of Vitamin C was just a reaffirmation of a principle the U.S. Supreme Court established back in 1942. But has the appeals court given foreign defendants – especially those from countries where the rule of law is suspect – a way to get out of litigation in the U.S.?

Facebook to ‘millions of Internet users': Relax, you’re not engaged in computer fraud

September 20, 2016

(Reuters) – The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union envisioned disaster in an Aug. 19 amicus brief asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear Facebook’s Computer Fraud and Abuse case against the social networking company Power Ventures. Unless the court acts en banc to clarify the boundaries of the computer fraud statute, EFF and the ACLU warned, a three-judge panel’s ruling for Facebook could “make potential criminals out of millions of ordinary Americans,” for ordinary, innocuous actions like accessing a partner’s account to pay bills or printing out an airline boarding pass for a family member.

Backpage can’t claim privilege on documents subpoenaed by Senate – judge

September 19, 2016

(Reuters) – The Senate subcommittee investigating Internet sex trafficking will get to see how lawyers for the online classified ad site Backpage.com advised the company on its ad screening policies, under a ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer of Washington, D.C., who is overseeing Backpage’s challenge to a Senate subpoena. Judge Collyer held that because Backpage’s lawyers did not assert attorney-client or work product privileges when they contested the subcommittee’s demand for documents and did not prepare a log of protected documents, Backpage waived the right to claim privilege.

Trial judges have discretion to unseal grand jury records – 7th Circuit

September 16, 2016

(Reuters) – Only once in U.S. history has the federal government tried to prosecute a mainstream news organization under the Espionage Act for reporting on a classified document, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.