Blawg Review #93

Welcome to Blawg Review #93, the sub rosa, hidden, and subversive Illuminati edition!
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1993 was an important year for the development of Internet and computer law. A seminal case that led to the creation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (the “EFF“)was decided. That case was Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service and United States of America, Western District of Texas, 1993. The EFF still maintains a case archive here.

In order to understand the case, you need to think pre-modern-Internet. In those days, most computer systems were not wired together. Instead, administrators (known as sysops) operated bulletin board systems (a “BBS”) that users dialed up to over ordinary phone lines using that antiquated device known as a 2400 baud modem. (I remember mine fondly as the “2400 Baud Modem For The Deaf”, as it only had one volume setting, *LOUD*.) 

In 1990, the Secret Service believed that two individuals had access to a guide to the 911 phone system, and that document was being disseminated on different BBS’s. These individuals also happened to be sysops on the BBS operated by Steve Jackson Games, a publisher of popular role-playing and game systems. This BBS was called Illuminati, in honor of its popular conspiracy game of the same name, and which this Blawg Review is in tribute to.

The Secret Service obtained a warrant and seized computers and documents from Steve Jackson Games, including the full text of a new game that was within days or weeks of publication. (GURPS Cyberpunk). Even though the agents were advised that Steve Jackson Games was a publisher, it took several months for computers to be returned. In the process of being held, some files and systems were lost and/or damaged. Steve Jackson Games sued the Secret Service for the wrongful seizure of its computer systems.

The district court held for Steve Jackson Games, and proceeded to read the agents the riot act for their failure to perform any sort of rudimentary investigation of Steve Jackson Games prior to obtaining the warrant, and for their resulting failure to return the computers and documents in any sort of a timely fashion.

So, in honor of this case, this Blawg Review is dedicated to Steve Jackson Games and its Illuminati game. Illuminati is a wonderfully fun card game with a wicked sense of humor. Each party plays a different group intent on world domination (like the Illuminati, the UFO’s or the Gnomes of Zurich) that each has a different goal. The players battle for domination of other groups (like the Boy Sprouts, the C.I.A, and the Congressional Wives), using such tools as Orbital Mind Control Lasers, Junk Mail, and Video Games. When one party meets its goal, and thus world domination, the game is over. For more on the game, the rules can be found here

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Gnomes of Zurich
The Gnomes of Zurich are after world domination through cold, hard currency. This is the old nickname of the Swiss bankers. Accordingly, I’ve put posts relating to the billable hour, and the pursuit of the almighty dollar, here.

Eric Turkewitz presents Simpson Thacher First Year Associates To Be Paid Like Federal Judges. It surely is a travesty that first year associates are being paid more than federal judges, and Eric points out that it will be hard to keep good judges on the bench if that remains the case.

Charles H. Green presents his post entitled “Leading Lawyers” posted at Trust Matters. He writes, “How can someone who bills 3,300 hours legitimately be described as managing, much less leading, a 550-lawyer firm? The issue isn’t integrity of billings—it’s seriousness of leadership.” I agree, Charles. Being focused on the almighty billable hour to that extent cannot result in good leadership, IMHO.

Did you know that Judge Judy makes $25 million a year?
That’s more than all of the Supreme Court justices combined.

The Bavarian Illuminati
The Bavarian Illuminati is the prototype of all other subversive groups. Its symbol, a pyramid with an all-seeing eye, later also became a Freemason symbol. Some say the Illuminati infiltrated the Freemasons, which partially explains that quirk. Its goal is simply raw power. Since the symbol appears on our U.S. Currency, I’ve placed posts relating to government and its laws here.

For those doing research on the Internet about the U.S. government, you can stay current by following beSpacific, and reading the articles over at llrx.com. Neil Squillante at TechnoLawyer Blog points to Law Practice Magazine’s profile of Sabrina Pacifici, the hardest working woman in legal research, and the publisher of both sites. I cannot recommend both resources highly enough, I read beSpacific every day. I have also had the distinct pleasure of meeting Sabrina on several occasions, and can personally attest to her wonderful spirit and dedication to helping others.

Lyle Denniston of the SCOTUSblog has a great post discussing the recent Supreme Court case that overturned California’s determinate sentencing law.

Professor Bainbridge refutes an argument that a Senate ethics reform bill would treat bloggers as lobbyists.

Walter Olson of the pointoflaw.com blog discusses in this post how employment attorneys nationwide say the FMLA is resulting in mounting litigation and uncertainty.

Jack Balkin analyzes the Attorney General’s position that there is no Constitutionally-guaranteed right to habeas corpus in his post entitled “Habeas Corpus and the Tyranny Gap.

In his post entitled “Computers, the Fourth Amendment and the Analogy Game”, Orin Kerr discusses the problems with applying the fourth amendment to computers.

David Fischer, of the Antitrust Review, asks a really good question about why interest groups don’t publish their amicus briefs online.

The Servants of Cthulhu
The Servants of Cthulhu are the servants of unspeakable powers (think H.P. Lovecraft aka The Dunwich Horror). They are out to destroy other groups through the exercise of powers that Man was not meant to know. Accordingly, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I’ve placed posts dealing with lawyer advertising and marketing here.

Nate Oman at Concurring Opinions has a great post on the mysterious logic of lawyer advertising, specifically a local lawyer who illogically is using a picture of the lawyer with his big happy family to sell divorce services.

Did you know that 4 of the top 25 Web Celebrities (per a list published at Forbes magazine) are lawyers? Bob Ambrogi discusses the phenomenon here.

Fred Faulkner, publisher of From the 21st Floor, shares a post that originally appeared on llrx.com entitled “BIG in 2007: How the web will continue to change how we do business.

Bill Gratsch at Blawg’s Blog has a good post entitled “When the World Searches for You, What Do They Find?” His point is that lawyers should be active on the web as well as in other media, as you never know if opposing counsel, or a judge, or a potential client might be searching for you.

Kevin O’Keefe at LexBlog writes about the future of lawyers using video for marketing.
For an example of a non-blogger lawyer using video, see Eric Sinrod‘s videos here. Kevin was on a roll this week, be sure to also check out his post about the value of linking to your competition. I can’t agree more with his post, I’ve gotten more out of fellowship with fellow bloggers in my practice area than any other tangible benefit of blogging. 

The Mummering Blawg Review editor, Ed, discusses the lawyer blogs nominated for the 2007 weblog awards, the Bloggies.

J. Craig Williams of May It Please The Court presents a podcast from the Marketing Partner Forum that sounds like fun to listen to. I’ve added this to my Mp3 player for my commute!

The Discordian Society
The Discordian Society seeks to dominate through sowing discord and strife. They worship Eris, the Roman goddess of Strife and Chaos. Accordingly, I’ve placed posts dealing with politics and other controversies here.

John Balkin at Balkinization has a great post on the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and the political future of abortion rights. The debate continues in the comments to that post as well.

David Kopel discusses the stances of the current Presidential candidates on the 2nd amendment here.

Ken Adams presents “Warranty” posted at AdamsDrafting. In this post, Ken examines the word Warrants and takes issue with its use in legal drafting. Good reading before drafting your next contract.

Mike at Crime & Federalism discusses Duke President Richard Brodhead and his misunderstanding of the presumption of innocence.

David Maister writes about Client Politics posted at Passion, People and Principles. He writes “Do you have the mediation skills to be a good advisor to you clients? And how do you deal with the ethical issues around client-site politics?” Be sure to also check out his continuing podcast Business Masterclass series here.

Brett Trout discusses clawback procedures under the newly-revised FRCP here.

Ted Frank presents Sen. Schumer and Mayor Bloomberg call for reform posted at PointOfLaw Forum.

Stephanie West Allen presents Not on the same legal writing page: George Gopen of Duke responds to Wayne Schiess of University of Texas posted at idealawg. These professors are having an ongoing dialogue on the nature of language. How’s that for a controversy, eh?

So, how do you end discord and strife? Mediation is one solution. Next week’s host is Diane Levin of the Online Guide to Mediation. She has two posts about bridging the gap between lawyers and mediators.

The Network

Nobody knows whether The Network consists of a group of computer hackers, or the computers themselves that have become sentient. Either way, they’re powerful, and they know everything about you. I’ve placed posts dealing with Internet, intellectual property, and computer issues here.

20th Century Fox served YouTube with a subpoena last week, asking the site to identify a user who uploaded several episodes of “24″ and “The Simpsons.” Peter Black, an associate lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, discusses that case here.

Peter Black also pointed out a clever “Second Life” parody site and the noteworthy response thereto by the makers of “Second Life” — a “proceed and permitted” letter (rather than a “cease and desist letter).

Nick Holmes of Binary Law talks about one of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams, and his impact on technology. You may recall that my Blawg Review #42 was dedicated to Douglas Adams.

Ann Bartow of the Feminist Law Professors Blog wrote “The Copyrighted Anne Frank”, which explores how copyright law affected a miniseries on Anne Frank, as well as letters written by her father, Otto Frank.

The Patent Baristas wonder whether it is worth it for Generics to challenge Branded Drugs.

The Bermuda Triangle
This group seeks power by collecting groups and adding them to its organization. Sinking ships is just a hobby. Due to this focus on growth through acquisition, I couldn’t help but think of the modern day huge international law firm, so I’ve put posts on law practice management here, as well as quality of life issues.

Bruce Macewen of Adam Smith, Esq. believes that a large law firm issuing an IPO is going to happen sooner than you think.

Susan Cartier Liebel, of Build a Solo Practice LLC, points out how one of her students is graduating with $165,000.00 in debt, yet he still has the entrepreneurial spirit and wants to hang out his own shingle as a solo.

Nicole L. Black, of the Sui Generis blog, writes about the life balance of a woman litigator, between family and litigation itself. Interesting reading. Be sure to also check out her post about the hazards of being a female lawyer in a criminal court.

The Basquette Case blog has an interesting post, entitled “Putting the Lie to Work/Life Balance.

Mike Dillon, General Counsel of Sun, asks the question “Where do you work?” He doesn’t have an office, perhaps you should think about not having one at all, either.

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The UFO’s
Nobody knows much about the UFO’s, are they extra-terrestrials, or the result of Air Force experiments in Roswell, NM after World War II? They are the most elusive group, since nobody knows what they are after. I’ve therefore placed posts dealing with the strange, the quirky, the sad and the funny sides of the law here.

At Overlawyered, this post discusses a teacher who has hired the ACLU to protest his firing. The reason? He moonlights as a “butt-printing artist.” And no, I am not making that up!

Did you know that an RFID tattoo has been developed? One of the proposed applications is for soldiers. David T.S. Fraser, a Canadian privacy lawyer, discusses the proposal here, and points out how incredibly stupid (and dangerous!) it is to deploy a technology that could be hacked by the other side to pinpoint just where the soldiers are.

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Ode To The Bar Exam posted at MAD KANE’S HUMOR BLOG.

Evan Brown of InternetCases.com discusses a recent case where a 16-year old girl was prosecuted for sending explicit photos of herself to her 17-year old boyfriend. The charge? Trafficking in child pornography. This one is just bizarre enough to be classified here under the UFO’s.

J. Craig Williams brings us the story from here in Chicago of a man who admitted to not being an attorney after filing a pleading to represent a criminal defendant. The judge noted there was no bar number on the pleading, and then he admitted he wasn’t an attorney!

Dustin, at Quizlaw, points out an unusual interpretation of Michigan law that could mean life in prison for the crime of adultery.

Here’s another post from Dustin, this sordid story is way more tangled than any one of my wife’s soap operas.

Here’s a serious story, Eric Muller discusses what it’s like to grieve for someone you only met online.
He calls it e-grieving.

Alan Childress presents Another Gift From the Legal Profession: Bizarre Warning Labels posted at Legal Profession Blog.

And, finally, Steve Nipper at The Invent Blog wrote “Diet Coke, Mentos and Lawyers.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed this special Illuminati edition.

Blawg Review
has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

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