Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is Calif. Ban on Violent Video Games Legal?

Are violent video games analogous to literature, which is not restricted by age, or is that a silly comparison? The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case regardingCalifornia's state ban on the sale of violent video games to minors.

Those in favor of the ban say it is important and necessary to protect the children. (You always hear a lot about "the children" around election time.) Publishers and filmmakers say the kids are going to be just fine, but restricting video games is wrong and could have a chilling effect. California officials and their defenders say the ban is important to protect children. Publishers and filmmakers argue that if the Supreme Court sides with California, the action could chill creativity in other media.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welfare, Well-Being, and Happiness

Normative legal theory is concerned with the ends and justifications for the law as a whole and for particular legal rules.  Previous entries in the legal have examined exemplars of the three great traditions in normative theory--consequentialist, deontological, and aretaic (or virtue-centered) perspectives.  There are important differences between these three families of theories at a very general and abstract level: for example, deontologists emphasize rights and wrongs while consequentialists emphasize the goodness or badness of states of affairs.  And there are differences between particular theories within the broad families: within consequentialism, for example, welfarists emphasize preference satisfaction, whereas hedonistic utiliarians emphasize pleasure and pain...

Prosecutor Accused of 'Sexting' Abuse Victim

According to MSNBC, Kratz sent over thirty sexually suggestive text messages to the 26 year-old abuse victim in a case he was assigned to prosecute. The three day sexting barrage was in an effort to start a relationship with a women who was fresh off a very, very bad relationship. Telling her several times she is "hot" or referring to her as a "tall, young, hot nymph," the 50 year-old Kratz originally denied that his texts were sexual in nature. The victim, Shannon Van Groll, felt otherwise. Van Groll reported the sexting to the police, but was worried that Kratz would drop the case against her ex-boyfriend if she did not respond to his advances. MSNBC quotes spokesman Tony Gibart: "His actions were more than a lapse in judgment. They in fact do have far reaching implications for victim safety and public safety."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Michael Douglas Cancer: Failure to Diagnose?

Recently, producer and actor Michael Douglas announced he has stage IV throat cancer and is currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. According to interviews,Douglas said he sought treatment for a very sore throat earlier in the summer. He saw many doctors who could not find the cause of the problem until very recently.

According to the London Telegraph, it was not until a biopsy in early August that the cancer was revealed. A walnut-sized tumor was discovered at the base of Douglas's tongue. Reportedly, symptoms of a dry and sore throat, ear pain and vocal problems did not point the way to the true problem until months after Douglas first sought help.

Click to read

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Restaurant Fined for Toad Licking Chef Video

Do you know what your employees are up to? If you don't chances are someone else will, and you might face legal trouble because of it. A restaurant owner in Iowa is being fined, thanks to the toad loving antics of his chef. The Scott County Health Department officials also very much appreciated the fact that the chef's actions violating the health code were captured on video, making their job that much easier.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Child Seat Laws: What You Need to Know

Most adults are quite used to buckling up when they get into a car. But teaching our kids to do the same is not only important, it is the law. Each state has its own child seat laws that require various safety restraint systems for children depending often on age and weight. Here are a few examples of some of the most common.

Court OKs Fetus Wrongful Death Car Crash Suit

In what looks to become a slippery slope, a Wisconsin 4th District Court of Appeals gave the green light for a man to sue his unborn child's mother's insurance company for wrongful death, after the woman's negligent driving played a part in a car accident. Following the accident, the mother gave birth to a stillborn fetus.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What is Debt Financing?

Potential or current business owners often ask: what is debt financing? In order to illustrate the importance of that question, let us offer another one:

Besides poor management, what is the top reason why a business fails? 

  • Poor concepts?
  • Lack of advertising?
  • Down economy?

Friday, June 25, 2010

What is a Fictitious Business Name?

The term "Fictitious Business" gets thrown around quite frequently. While some might mistake it for a shady business that is "made up," it actually is a legal term for a form of registration required of businesses in certain situations. So how does one know whether they need to file a fictitious business statement?

Click to read

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Legal Theory Lexicon: Welfare, Well-Being, and Happines

Normative legal theory is concerned with the ends and justifications for the law as a whole and for particular legal rules.  Previous entries in the legal have examined exemplars of the three great traditions in normative theory--consequentialist, deontological, and aretaic (or virtue-centered) perspectives.  There are important differences between these three families of theories at a very general and abstract level: for example, deontologists emphasize rights and wrongs while consequentialists emphasize the goodness or badness of states of affairs.  And there are differences between particular theories within the broad families: within consequentialism, for example, welfarists emphasize preference satisfaction, whereas hedonistic utiliarians emphasize pleasure and pain.

Click to read

OnStar Technology Leads to Accused Murderer's Arrest

Thanks to GPS and communications system Onstar technology police have arrested Bryan Ashline, a young father, in connection to a double homicide in the Village of Bath New York.

Bryan Ashline, 23, was arrested on Father's Day and is a suspect in the slaying of a 25-year-old woman and their 3-month-old son, the Daily Star reports.

Click to read

Book Review: 'Public Interest Litigation in India: A Renaissance in Social Justice' by Mamta Rao

This book gives a brief description on the past, present and future of the public interest cases in India and abroad. It proves to be an excellent guide to the law students especially at beginning of their studies. Author Dr. Mamta Rao is currently a lecturer of Durgawati University, Jabalpur. She is eminent author who has written a number of law related books for basic and advanced studies in law.

Click to read

Russia: Investigate Beating of Human Rights Lawyer

The lawyer, 31-year-old Sapiyat Magomedova, represents victims of human rights abuses, including taking their cases to the European Court of Human Rights. Her colleagues at Omarov and Partners, the law firm she works for in Khasavyurt, Dagestan's second largest city, told Human Rights Watch that police officers beat Magomedova unconscious on the premises of the Khasavyurt police department on June 17, 2010.

Click to read

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Legal Theory Lexicon: Path Dependency

The phrase "path dependency" is used to express the idea that history matters--choices made in the past can affect the feasibility (possibility or cost) of choices made in the future.  This entry in the Legal Theory Lexicon introduces this idea to law students, especially first-year law students, with an interest in legal theory.

The General Idea of "Path Dependency"  

The general idea of path dependency is that prior decisions constrain (or expand) the subsequent range of possible or feasible choices.  That is, a decision, d, made at tmay affect the choice set, S = (c1, c2, . . . cn) at t2.  We can define a choice set as a set of actions that a given agent could take.  Or to expand the path metaphor, if we imagine a network of paths through time, from past to future, decisions to branch at an earlier point on the chosen path may affect the destinations that one can reach from a later point on the path.  Sometimes, if we choose the left fork, we may be able to reach exactly the same destinations we could have reached via the right fork, but sometimes, our choices foreclose some possibilities altogether.  It isn't always the case that in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on.

Click to read

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Legal Theory Lexicon: Efficiency, Pareto, and Kaldor-Hicks

Almost every law student get's some introduction to normative law and economics in their first year of law school.  One of the basic ideas of normative law and economics is that the law should be "efficient."  But what does efficiency mean?  For economists, "efficiency" is a technical idea--with only a tangential connection to the use of "efficiency" in ordinary speech.  In order to understand economic efficiency, we will look at what are called the Pareto principles and a related idea that is sometimes called Kaldor-Hicks efficiency.

In addition to explicating the idea of efficiency, we will take a qucik look at some of the criticisms that might be made of this concept.  Although many economists operate on the assumption that "efficiency" is an uncontroversial good, that conclusion is controversial both inside and outside of the discipline of economics.

Click to read

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Legal Theory Lexicon: The Law Is A Seamless Web

F.W. Maitland, the famous legal historian wrote, "Such is the unity of all history that any one who endeavors to tell a piece of it must feel that his first sentence tears a seamless web."  (A Prologue to a History of English Law, 14 L. Qtrly Rev. 13 (1898))  Maitland didn't actually say that the "law is a seamless web," but he is usually given credit for the idea that the law forms some kind of "organic unity" or is characterized by strong interconnections.  The idea that law is seamless web is ambiguous--the aphorism expresses different ideas on different occasions.  This post in the Legal Theory Lexicon series will explicate the seamless web metaphor and its several implications for legal theory.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Legal Theory Lexicon: Contractarianism, Contractualism, and the Social Contract

Some of the key conceptual tools deployed by legal theorists are likely to be familiar to most law students from their undergraduate education.  One of these is the notion of the "social contract"--familiar from Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau.  But unless you were an undergraduate philosophy major or have some graduate work in philosophy, you may not be as familiar with some of the ideas that have grown out of the social-contract tradition.

Shin on Unconscious Discrimination

A steadily mounting body of social science research suggests that ascertaining a person's conscious motives for an action may not always provide a complete explanation of why he did it. The phenomenon of unconscious bias presents a worrisome impediment to the achievement of fair equality in the workplace. There have been numerous deeply insightful articles discussing various aspects of this problem and canvassing its implications for antidiscrimination law.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Vagueness and Ambiguity

This week the Legal Theory Lexicon entry focuses on "ambiguity" and "vagueness"--two important concepts for the theory of interpretation.  Some legal texts are ambiguous--they can have two or more distinct meanings.  And some legal texts are vague--they use concepts that have indefinite application to particular cases.  And some legal texts are both vague and ambiguous--they have multiple meanings, some (or all) of which have indefinite applications.  Because "vagueness" and "ambiguity" are basic concepts in the theory of interpretation, its important to master each of them and to understand the difference between them.

As always, this entry in the Legal Theory Lexicon is aimed at law students, especially first year law students, with an interest in legal theory.

Click to read

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ellis on Voter Identification Laws

    This article argues that photo identification laws represent a continuation of the use of economic forces as a way to block people of lower economic status from participation in the electorate. These laws are similar to other restrictions on the franchise, such as property requirements and poll taxes, because the rules required the voter to demonstrate the ability to meet an economic test – the ability to show a certain property value, the ability to pay a tax, or the ability to obtain a photo ID. The potential effect of such photo-voter identification laws is that the voters at the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale are effectively excluded from voting because they are the least able to afford the cost of voting exacted by the law. This article contends that this type of exclusion is antithetical to the nature of democracy and ultimately constitutes a tyranny of the majority against the minority at the lowest level of socioeconomic status. This article begins by providing an overview of American photo-identification laws and discussing the modern cost of voting to the voter. Then it will discuss the history of voter access in the United States, with a focus on Harper v. Virginia, which held that the ability to pay a poll tax had no relationship with the right to vote and, the paper contends, articulated a vision of the right to vote unencumbered by class bias. The paper will then consider the potential socioeconomic impact of photo identification laws upon voters and how those impacts are similar to historical class-based discrimination. It will examine how the courts have been indifferent to the costs levied upon on the right to vote by voter identification laws – most recently in the Supreme Court's decision in Crawford v. Marion County – and how that indifference tracks the conflict over the socioeconomic burdens of voting raised in Harper. Finally, the paper will recommend how to reframe the standards articulated in Harper to take into account this structural socioeconomic bias inherent in, and damaging to, the right to vote.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Theory Of Legal Argumentation

    What is to be understood by 'rational legal argument'? To what extent can legal reasoning be rational? Is the demand for rationality in legal affairs justified? And what are the criteria of rationality in legal reasoning? The answer to these questions is not only of interest to legal theorists and philosophers of law. They are pressing issues for practicing lawyers, and a matter of concern for every citizen active in the public arena. Not only the standing of academic law as a scientific discipline, but also the legitimacy of judicial decisions depends on the possibility of rational legal argumentation. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cohen on Wartime Cases & the Lessons of History

    References to the "lessons of history" are ubiquitous in law. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in recent debates over U.S. counterterrorism policy. In response to the Bush Administration's reliance on World War II-era decisions - Johnson v. Eisentrager, Ex Parte Quirin, Hirota v. MacArthur, and In re Yamashita - opponents have argued that these decisions have been rejected by the "lessons of history." They argue that the history of wartime cases is one marked by executive aggrandizement, panic-driven attacks on civil liberties, and overly quiescent courts - none of which should be repeated. 

          Click for article

Saturday, February 13, 2010

International Law

On 17 December 2009, the Rome I Regulation (EU Regulation 593/2008) on the law applicable to contractual obligations comes into force and will be directly applicable in all EU Member States with the exception of Denmark. When we last reported on the draft Regulation, the UK was still considering whether to opt in. It decided to do so and a statutory instrument, The Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Regulations, adopting the EU Regulation into national law, will also come into force on 17 December. This will replace the Contracts (Applicable Law) Act 1990, which will then only apply to contracts concluded before 17 December 2009.


Predictions that the number of redundancies in the UK would rise sharply during the credit crunch have been substantiated by the figures from the Office for National Statistics. The impact of the economic slowdown has also been demonstrated by fewer job vacancies and a rise in the number of redundancies particularly in the finance, business services and construction industries. 

Redundancy is one of the most traumatic events an employee may experience. Announcement of redundancies will invariably have an adverse impact on morale, motivation and productivity. The negative effects can be reduced by sensitive handling of redundant employees and those remaining.

Click for full UK resources