How Appealing

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

“ACLU sues DA in nude photo trading case”: The Times-Tribune of Scranton, Pennsylvania has a news update that begins, “The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Wyoming County District Attorney on behalf of three teenage girls who may face felony charges for having semi-nude pictures of themselves traded by classmates using cell phones.” The article provides links to that newspaper’s earlier coverage of these events.

Reuters reports that “Prosecutor sued over semi-nude teen photos case.”

And at’s “Threat Level” blog, Kim Zetter has a post titled “ACLU Sues Prosecutor Over ‘Sexting’ Child Porn Charges.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania today issued this news release and posted online a copy of its federal court complaint initiating suit.

Posted at 5:17 PM by Howard Bashman

It’s a big deal for tax lawyers — U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit grants rehearing en banc in United States v. Textron Inc. On January 23, 2009, The New York Times contained an article headlined “I.R.S. Is Thwarted as Court Shields Textron Tax Papers” that begins:

The Internal Revenue Service suffered a setback late Wednesday in its crusade against corporate tax shelters when an appeals court ruled that Textron, the maker of Cessna airplanes, did not have to turn over internal papers detailing its use of aggressive tax shelters.

According to the article, “The case has been closely watched by large corporations and their lawyers and accountants, who fear having to disclose potentially damaging deliberations regarding shelters that the I.R.S. considers abusive.”

The article reported on a ruling that a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued on January 21, 2009. In other coverage of that ruling, Reuters reported that “U.S. court rules Textron can keep paperwork from IRS.”

Today, however, the First Circuit entered an order granting rehearing en banc in the case, which means that all five active First Circuit judges are slated to rehear this appeal at an oral argument scheduled for June 2, 2009.

Update: “TaxProf Blog” links to its earlier coverage of this case in this new post.

Posted at 5:00 PM by Howard Bashman

“One would guess that the chances are pretty slim that the work of a 17th century French poet would find its way into a Chicago courtroom in 2009.” But, because an appeal that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided today involves the so-called “cat’s paw” theory, that’s exactly what has happened.

Today’s opinion, written by Circuit Judge Terence T. Evans, begins:

One would guess that the chances are pretty slim that the work of a 17th century French poet would find its way into a Chicago courtroom in 2009. But that’s the situation in this case as we try to make sense out of what has been dubbed the “cat’s paw” theory. The term derives from the fable “The Monkey and the Cat” penned by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695). In the tale, a clever–and rather unscrupulous–monkey persuades an unsuspecting feline to snatch chestnuts from a fire. The cat burns her paw in the process while the monkey profits, gulping down the chestnuts one by one. As understood today, a cat’s paw is a “tool” or “one used by another to accomplish his purposes.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1976). More on this a little later.

You can access a translation of the fable at this link, and the fable apparently has inspired at least several artists (see here and here).

Posted at 4:42 PM by Howard Bashman

Seventh Circuit decides appeal involving approximately 81,454 cans of baby formula: I guess the U.S. Department of Justice is free to attempt to approximate with exactitude, instead of using round numbers like 81,500. At least that appears to be the federal government’s position given the caption of the case known as United States v. Approximately 81,454 Cans of Baby Formula.

Incredibly, it’s another one of those “use by” versus “best when purchased by” date cases, and (as with the Beanie Baby line of appellate litigation) apparently this all but guarantees that Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner will be the opinion’s author. Unlike last time, when the federal government’s attorney failed to emerge unscathed, today the federal government actually wins the appeal. And, as a result, the baby formula — or at least its usefulness as a nutritious beverage — is on the losing end of today’s ruling.

Posted at 4:08 PM by Howard Bashman

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court opinion in an argued case: The Court today issued its opinion in Puckett v. United States, No. 07-9712. Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, in which the Chief Justice and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Samuel A. Alito, Jr. joined. Justice David H. Souter issued a dissenting opinion, in which Justice John Paul Stevens joined. You can access the ruling at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link.

Update: The Associated Press reports that “Court rules for government in plea deal dispute.”

Posted at 10:08 AM by Howard Bashman

“Supreme Court hears free-speech case on ‘Hillary: The Movie’; A majority of justices appear to agree that limits on corporate campaign spending violate free speech; The question is whether they will strike down some or all such restrictions.” David G. Savage has this article today in The Los Angeles Times. In addition, the newspaper contains an editorial entitled “Looking at ‘Hillary: The Movie’; Should 1st Amendment protections apply to a documentary critical of Hillary Clinton?

Today in USA Today, Joan Biskupic reports that “High court hears arguments over anti-Clinton film.”

Michael Doyle of McClatchy Newspapers has an article headlined “Political ad or free speech? Anti-Hillary film gets court screening.”

The Washington Times reports that “Justices view ‘Hillary’ movie; Group argues election film not campaign advocacy.”

Bill Mears of reports that “‘Hillary: The Movie’ gets high court attention.”

And Josh Gerstein of reports that “SCOTUS argues anti-Clinton film.”

Posted at 9:40 AM by Howard Bashman

“Security Worries in the Suburbs; Possible Move of Terrorist Suspects To Alexandria for Trial Raises Outcry”: Jerry Markon has this article today in The Washington Post.

Posted at 9:30 AM by Howard Bashman

“Ex-judge fights to have his pension reinstated; A former Creek County judge who was convicted of indecent exposure is asking an Oklahoma County judge to reinstate his judicial retirement pay”: The Tulsa World contains this article today.

Posted at 9:17 AM by Howard Bashman

“Judges for sale”: Today’s edition of The Boston Globe contains an editorial that begins, “How would you like to go into an appeals court if your opponent in the case spent $3 million to help elect one of the judges?”

Posted at 8:42 AM by Howard Bashman

“What Constitutional Rights Should Schoolchildren Have? Two Recent Cases Underscore the Ways in Which Children Are Not Simply Miniature Adults.” Michael C. Dorf has this essay online at FindLaw.

Posted at 8:34 AM by Howard Bashman