Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mississippi Supreme Court tries to suppress a dissenting opinion

Take a look at this article.

Power corrupts--especially on the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ABA supports legal outsourcing

Always one to battle for Mom and Apple Pie, the ABA have given its approval to shipping American legal jobs to India.

According to the opinion, Fat Cat Firms may send legal work overseas as long as the lawyer doing the outsourcing takes steps to ensure the protection of client confidences and preservation of attorney-client privilege. The advisory also states that attorneys should check to make sure that foreign lawyers are suitably trained and competent and that bills for outsourced work be reasonable.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SC Supremes issue opinion in Sloan emergency procurement case

From the Greenville News:

The South Carolina Supreme Court on Monday sided with Greenville businessman Ed "Ned" Sloan in ruling that state transportation officials were wrong to negotiate with a contractor on a project rather than put the job out to bid.

The 4-1 decision handed Sloan another legal victory in his lawsuits against the state Department of Transportation and other government agencies and made clear what is and is not an "emergency" for state agencies procuring services.

Sloan filed his suit in 2005 over a 2004 Charleston-area road-widening project that had fallen behind, according to the justices.

Faced with the dilemma of firing the contractor and putting the remainder of the project out to bid, DOT officials thought they could save time by negotiating a new contract with a subcontractor on the project under the state's emergency procurement procedures. The new contract cost just under $8 million, according to the justices.

Sloan argued in his suit that the circumstances did not allow an emergency procurement.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chief Justice Toal address SC judiciary

Among other points made, the Chief noted that South Carolina has fewer judges with a heavier caseload than any other court system in the nation.

Here is a copy of her powerpoint.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Married to the Big-Firm Machine

Once again, the Snark has a hilarious take on law firm courtships. Considering our summers just left, I found this pretty funny.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SC Supreme Court holds that a defendant may waive, in a plea agreement, right to PCR

In Spoone v. State, the South Carolina Supreme Court dealt with the issue of whether a defendant who pleads guilty may also waive his rights to collateral review. The Court decided to follow federal law and held that a waiver of the right to collateral review is permitted where the circumstances surrounding the waiver show it is knowing and intelligent.

Monday, August 11, 2008

ACLU sues SC on ballot access

From Foxcarolina:

A civil rights organization said it has filed a federal lawsuit against South Carolina, contending the state unfairly limits how candidates are chosen to be on voter ballots.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Columbia.

The organization said the state's so-called sore loser law is unconstitutional. The law prevents a candidate who loses a primary election from appearing on a ballot as the candidate of a different political party.

The ACLU filed its lawsuit on behalf of a voter, the Green Party and a one-time state House candidate.

Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said the law protects a party's selection process.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Trojans take the 'SC' mark from the Gamecocks

I'm a Clemson fan, but I do believe that the University of South Carolina was done wrong by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Office ruled that the Gamecocks may no longer use the "SC" logo on their baseball caps. The Digital has this story.

This is bogus. The University of South Carolina was founded as South Carolina College in 1801-- 80 years before Southern Cal. "SC" is the official state abbreviation assigned by the United States Postal Service to the state of South Carolina; the state of South Carolina is referred to on maps by the abbreviation "SC"; that various South Carolina state agencies use "SC" as part of their agency acronyms; that the state's official website uses the letters "SC" as part of its Internet address.

The gist of the ruling is that Carolina quit using the interlocking "SC" logo on sports hats in 1981 and did not start again until 1997. During that time Cal continued use of the logo. Cal was smart enough to apply for the mark and Carolina thus lost an uphill battle to use a logo that rightfully belongs to it.

I hope there will be an appeal.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fourth Circuit affirms grant of summary judgment in Abu Ghraib defamation case

In CACI PREMIER TECHNOLOGY v. RHODES, a military contractor sued a radio talk show host for allegedly defamatory statements. CACI interrogated Iraqi detainees at the notorious U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In her radio program, Rhodes made a number of criticisms about CACI role in the torture and abuse of Iraqis. CACI sued for defamation, but the district court granted summary judgment for Rhodes. The district court concluded that Rhodes's statements were protected by the First Amendment, either because they were not made with actual malice or because they did not state actual facts about CACI. The Fourth Circuit affirmed:

We have made a thorough and independent examination of the whole record, and we are satisfied that each of Rhodes’s statements that CACI challenges as defamatory is protected by the First Amendment:either it was not made with reckless disregard for the truth or it did not state actual facts about CACI (it was rhetorical hyperbole,for example). This case reminds us that "[i]t is a prized American privilege to speak one’s mind, although not always with perfect good taste, on all public [issues], and this opportunity is to be afforded for vigorous advocacy" that may be caustic and even exaggerated. New York Times, 376 U.S. at 269 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). This essential privilege minimizes the danger of selfcensorshipon the part of those who would criticize, thus allowing robust debate about the actions of public officials and public figures (including military contractors such as CACI) who are conducting the country's business.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Fourth Circuit issues SOX opinion declining to reinstate whistleblower

In WELCH v. CHAO, the Fourth Circuit upheld a district court decision declining to reinstate Welch. Welch is a fired bank executive who became the first person to win protection under the whistleblower protection provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The panel held that Welch failed to explain how his employer's poor accounting practices could be considered a violation of federal law.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

S.C. Supreme Court offers guidance on excited utterances

Under South Carolina law, three elements must be met in order for a statement to be an excited utterance: (1) the statement must relate to a startling event or condition; (2) the statement must have been made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement; and (3) the stress of excitement must be caused by the startling event or condition.

In State v. Washington, almost two hours following a homicide, Cropper gave a statement to police. At trial, the State sought to introduce this statement through the interviewing officer as an excited utterance. The Officer testified in camera that at approximately 9:30 p.m., he transported Cropper from the crime scene to the police station and began taking her statement at approximately 11:00 p.m. He described Cropper as being extremely upset and distraught over the incident. The Officer further explained that the statement consisted of a written narrative of the incident, which Cropper wrote, and three pages of questions and answers, which the Officer transcribed. Additionally, the Officer testified that after another officer informed Cropper during the interview that Victim had died, she became hysterical. The Supreme Court held that Cropper’s statement to police does not qualify as excited utterance.

Cropper made her statements in a formal interview with law enforcement at police headquarters almost ninety minutes after the events. These statements were made in response to the Officer’s questions. None of the statements were independent assertions or exclamations regarding the events. Indeed, it is apparent that the Officer was seeking detailed answers regarding the specific facts of the incident as opposed to emotional, unprompted, or inherent responses. While we have no doubt that Cropper was certainly upset as a result of the stabbing, the trial court’s finding that statements made in a formal interview or interrogation to be excited utterances greatly expands the scope of the exception.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday Humor

Associates love their big firm jobs--check out the latest from the Snark.