: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Supreme Court Rethinks Torture

The Supreme Court released it’s latest ruling on Guantanamo. Not a good day for Gonzales or Bush. The ruling is one of four that, in my view at least, repudiate the notion that the US Gov’t can arrest people indefinitely without a real trial and real trial means real – constitutionally valid – trial, even if it’s a military tribunal.

NY Times: Justices, 5-3, Broadly Reject Bush Plan to Try Detainees

“The executive is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction,” Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the 5-to-3 majority, said at the end of a 73-page opinion that in sober tones shredded each of the administration’s arguments, including the assertion that Congress had stripped the court of jurisdiction to decide the case.

NY Times: Ruling Leaves Uncertainty at Guantánamo

Only 10 of the approximately 450 detainees now held at Guantánamo have been formally charged before the military commissions.

The Defense Department repeated that view on Thursday, asserting that the court’s sweeping ruling against the tribunals did not undermine the government’s argument that it can hold foreign suspects indefinitely and without charge, as “enemy combatants” in its declared war on terror.

Privately, though, some administration officials involved in detention policy — along with many critics of that policy — were skeptical that Guantánamo could or would go about its business as before. “It appears to be about as broad a holding as you could imagine,” said one administration lawyer, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the ruling. “It’s very broad, it’s very significant, and it’s a slam.”

For another perpective, Bill O’Reilly waxes jurisprudential:

The four liberal justices, plus Justice Kennedy, said the president has overstepped his authority and must get congressional approval for military tribunals. The rulings contain much bloviating and mumbo-jumbo. It’s what those people do. But bottom line: the liberal Supremes believe President Bush is commanding too much power. The three conservative judges say the president is within his authority.

What’s the big deal you say? Surely these military tribunals do a more than adequate job trying these cases. Well folks, there’s a reason our legal system is, and always has been, adversarial. Reasons like this.

Supreme Court Rethinks Obviousness

The Patently-O Patent Law Blog has a great analysis on the concept of obviousness that will be central in a patent case SCOTUS just agreed to hear – KSR v. Teleflex (Supreme Court 2006)

The doctrine of nonobviousness ensures that patent rights are not granted on inventions that are simply throw-away modifications of prior technology. Questions of obviousness are at play in virtually every patent case, in both proceedings before the USPTO and during infringement litigation.

Over the past twenty-five years, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has developed its nonobviousness doctrine using a motivation/suggestion/teaching test. According to the test, when various pieces of prior art each contain elements of an invention, the prior art can be combined together to invalidate a patent on the invention only when there is some motivation, suggestion, or teaching to combine the prior art.

KSR has asked the Supreme Court to rethink that approach and take a fresh look at the obviousness standard for patentability. The petition questions whether obviousness should require any proof of some suggestion or motivation to combine prior art references.

The EFF has taken a somewhat vigilante approach to attacking prior art in their patent busting campaign. I’ll be interested to see the approach the court takes, since my puny 1L understanding of the patent system is that it’s currently very susceptible to manipulation and exploitation. It’s also increasingly necessary as technology becomes cheaper and more easier to appropriate. Some safeguards are an economic necessity, but a lot hinges on getting it right. We’re entering an age when the ownership of patents is not an aid to doing business, it IS the business. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but the stakes are definitely higher.

Underage teens aren’t the only ones who need protection on MySpace

Predators need protection too in this day and age. Two underage girls, 14 and 15 posed as 18 year old Natalia and arranged a tryst with the victim. When he arrived as arranged, they pulled a gun and robbed him.

via BoingBoing, Fox news story

MySpace the Gangsta Rap of 2006

MySpace has got to feel someone pinned a bullseye on their back on the issue of personal security on the web. The latest article from the NY Times – Young People’s Web Postings Worry Summer Camp Directors – is choc full of comments like these -

In addition, “We are asking local police enforcement for more of a presence and are beefing up internal security, all of that directly because of MySpace,” said Fritz Seving, Fernwood’s director. “We’re bringing in a child psychologist to spend two days with campers talking about good decision-making.”

Summer camp is not exactly ‘hello mother, hello father’ these days. Notice the logic of Seving’s statement. Because MySpace exists, we need more cops at our camp. Clearly no camp director gets sued for being overprotective, so the incentive is to overcompensate, but isn’t there a little hysteria in such an accusation?

“The biggest concern is the safety of the campers,” said Peg Smith, chief executive officer of the American Camp Association, which is urging camps to monitor Web sites, contact parents, and set rules about what counselors and campers can post. “The information that kids share today often is personal and private information that allows predators to track them down. We’re also concerned about cyber-bullying.”

“This is probably the No. 1 issue facing all camp programs,” said Norman E. Friedman, a partner at AMSkier Insurance, a major camp insurer.

I’m starting to see a trend. MySpace is on its way to becoming the ‘Gangsta Rap’ of 2006. What can we expect in the near future? More outlandish accusations pinning more of society’s ills on the existence of MySpace, Congressional hearings, at the very least, because congressmen have the same incentive to be overprotective that camp directors do.

Blawgosphere: The Jurist

I just resubscribed to the Jurist RSS feed with a bit of trepidation. I can’t NOT read something I subscribe to. This is my own problem, I know. The Jurist is a phenomenal resource. The premise is simple. Hitch 30 law students up to your wagon and let them pull. The Jurist is essentially a student-edited legal news aggregator, though the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It has become a seminal online legal news and research service.

Take a look for yourself – The Jurist

An aside. I can’t say I think a lot about the University of Pittsburgh law school, but when I do, Jurist is the first thing that comes to mind. That, my friends, is called putting a good foot forward and the University of Houston should get some of what Pitt is smoking.

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