A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Potpourri

Snake (Not So) Charmer

By Meghan Lalonde

Today’s Wall Street Journal features a nice little piece by one Jamie Coots, “pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name.”  The piece goes through many reasons why Mr. Coots believes his freedom of religion is being denied.

In fact, there’s just one reason: Poisonous snakes.

Mr. Coots claims that snake handling is an integral part of his religion based on two passages in the New Testament: Mark 16:18 (“they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them”) and Luke 10:19 (“Behold, I have given you power over serpents and scorpions…and nothing will injure you.”)

We have no problem with his worshipping the Lord any way he wants, but bringing snakes into the picture makes for a completely different story. And once constitutional rights violations are alleged, that’s where we step in.

LASIS enjoys responding to legal misunderstandings in the press.  And boy, do we have a slithering sucker of a story here. Oh, Mr. Coots. How do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

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A Juicy Bet

By Zachary Edelman

I would bet that all of us have made a bad wager or two in our lives. For some of us it was doubling down that pair of fours on the Blackjack table when we were feeling lucky. For others, it was a casual $1 bet with our sister as to which contestant would be eliminated next on “The Bachelor.” (Note to Sis: thanks for not making me pay up.)

Odds are that most of us have never bet $9.25 million; most of us don’t have that kind of money. And even if we did, we would be smart enough to fold on any bet raised that high. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers must have skipped a few accounting classes in college as evidenced by his most recent gamble.

Back in February 2012, Mr. Rodgers bet a man he’d never met, Colorado nurse Todd Sutton, that he was ab-so-lute-ly certain that friend and business partner Ryan Braun, outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, was playing “clean” – despite allegations and rumor to the contrary. He was so ab-so-lute-ly certain, in fact, that he offered to pay Mr. Sutton his annual salary if he was wrong.

Fast-forward to August 2012, and he admitted to using PEDs after being linked to a Miami clinic that supplied steroids to many other professional athletes. He was subsequently suspended for the rest of the season (65 games).

The story has been reported by many media outlets, but none of them looked into the chances of Mr. Sutton’s chances of calling his marker on that bet. We’ll tell you what would happen if Mr. Sutton decides to roll the dice in civil court.

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The Battle of West Orange

By Ryan Morrison

Many of you have seen the terrific response to a cease and desist letter. (Thank you, Above the Law).

LASIS has exclusively obtained the latest salvo in the battle of West Orange, copied and pasted below.

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Greetings and Salutations Mr. Kaplitt,

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to draft a response to our cease and desist letter. Unfortunately, it seems you hit the “send” button too early, and we have received what we can only assume to be an attempt to blow off some steam at your keyboard before carefully thinking through the matter.

As we are not, as it turns out, “a big meanie” we shall officially disregard your letter, and grant you another ten (10) days to respond. However, if we hear nothing further we can only assume that, despite your working on this matter “pro bono”, your client is overpaying for legal services.

On the slim chance you truly meant to send us what you did, I hereby respond to each of your numbered points:

1)    Your first point noted the cost of creating and maintaining the government’s professional website (it is a nice website, isn’t it?) with the cost of your client’s rudimentary one.  As if that mattered.

You see, after du Pont[1], a major trademark case by any standards, a list of factors were agreed on to help future courts ascertain whether two marks were, or were not, confusingly similar. Among the 13 factors (see here) –“cost”?  Doesn’t make the list.

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Summer’s Here!

By LASIS Staff

The calendar would disagree, but for LASIS, summer has arrived. This Sunday our senior reporters will be graduating at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall (we look forward to a fine commencement speech by New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg). Junior reporters are finishing their final exams, and in the next week or two will begin working at human rights organizations, law firms, and media companies.

Which means, dear reader, that except for some short updates, perhaps, LASIS is officially on summer hiatus.

We look forward to resuming our legal reporting in the early fall.

Have a wonderful summer!

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Our Justice System, for Better and for Worse

By LASIS Staff

Two of our nation’s prominent defense attorney shine a light on what really goes on inside a courtroom in a new book titled tilted, “Mistrial.”

Written by Mark Geragos and Pat Harris, the book (getting lots of buzz) is a “searing and entertaining manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system.”

LASIS has a copy of the new book to give away to one lucky reader.

Send an email with your name and address to legalassheisspoke@gmail.com before 5pm on Wednesday, May 1.

The winner will be chosen in a random drawing.

UPDATE, May 1, 2013:  Congratulations to Veronica Guzman Willis of San Pedro, California on winning a copy of “Mistrial”!

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