A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Author Archive

Not-So-Final Resting Place?

By Victoria Rosner

Think you’ve got mother-in-law problems? When college professor Regina Constantin lost her husband three years ago, she assumed that when her time comes, she would be buried alongside him. But, she recently learned, her mother-in-law feels differently, and has made it clear to Constantin that she is not welcome and won’t have a place in the family burial plot in Queens.

As reported by the NY Daily News, she is suing to disinter her late husband and have him cremated so that his ashes can one day be mingled with hers. But the story did not address whether there is a legal basis to demand that one’s remains spend eternity next to those one’s spouse. Or more to the point, whether Constantin can dig up the body of her late husband and cremate him because her mother-in-law won’t allow her to be buried beside him.

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Hear the One About a Texas Lawyer Who Walks Into An Airport…and Sues?

By Jeremy Potter

First, there was the judge from Washington D.C. who sued his drycleaner for losing his pants, and now a Houston personal injury lawyer is threatening to sue several Houston entities over a missing leather jacket.  Frivolous lawsuits and the lawyers who file them do nothing to curb negative public sentiment toward lawyers.

William Ogletree left his Polo leather jacket at a pizza restaurant in the Houston Intercontinental Airport’s food court before a Continental Airlines flight to Las Vegas.  According to The Smoking Gun, as of March 4, 2010, Ogletree had not yet filed suit but he did send a letter to the city of Houston, Continental Airlines and the food management company of the food court, threatening to sue unless he was sent an $800 reimbursement for his lost coat.  Media accounts took for granted that Ogletree has a baseless claim…and it turns out they’re right. But they didn’t explain why.

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Why Bin Laden Might Not Need Miranda’s “Right to Remain Silent”

By the LASIS Staff

On April 14, CNN’s political ticker noted that Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that there was no need to read Miranda rights to Osama Bin Laden upon his capture because there already exists enough evidence against the al Qaeda leader to convict him at trial.

Miranda rights, of course, are the “right to remain silent” and the “right to an attorney” that, if you watch TV cop shows, a police officer grunts victoriously into a suspect’s ear as the officer cuffs the perp and slams him against the hood of his patrol car. This is purely for entertainment and dramatic effect; a criminal suspect doesn’t need to be read his Miranda rights until law enforcement has placed him under arrest and is ready to question him about his alleged crimes. If law enforcement never plans to question a suspect, then the suspect never has to be read his Miranda rights. (For a more complete explanation about how Miranda warnings work, check out the helpful NOLO guide here.)

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And in This Corner: NYPD v. Press. (It Ain’t Over Yet)

By Matt Catania

Judging from the response at a public hearing earlier this month, the New York City Police Department still has a long way to go to appease bloggers and other less-established journalists who, under the NYPD’s current rules, couldn’t get press passes to attend major media events or to cover breaking news.

The NYPD has proposed new rules that would make bloggers eligible to receive press passes (the change in policy resulted from settlement between the NYPD and bloggers who filed suit against the department in 2008), but several journalists at the April 7 hearing said the proposed rules gave them more questions than answers, and may herald tighter restrictions on press access to crime scenes than what previously existed.

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Roger and Me: An Open Letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

By Chris Cotter

In early March, a 20-year-old Georgia college student accused Pittsburgh Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her at a bar in Milledgeville, GA. After a month-long investigation, Georgia district attorney Fred Bright announced on April 12 that he would not charge Roethlisberger with rape. But while Roethlisberger has managed to avoid criminal charges, he will likely face discipline from either his team or from the NFL.

Under the NFL’s latest iteration of its personal conduct policy implemented in 2007, the league can discipline a player for any “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League.” According to the policy, this includes “illegal or irresponsible conduct,” and discipline may be imposed for “conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.” But the League has no set benchmarks by which it measures the length of any suspension it might impose against the conduct from which it resulted.

So, if I’m advising NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, there are a few things I’m telling him to consider, and thus begins, my open letter…

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