Court Watch

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Texas court cites to “Billy Madison”

In a first, but hopefully not last, for the federal judiciary, Texas bankruptcy court judge Leif Clark quoted from the Adam Sandler opus “Billy Madison” while dismissing a motion for incomprehensibility. Writing that “deciphering motions like the one presented here wastes valuable chamber time,” Clark cited the famous quote that includes “At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

University of California needs contracts refresher

Last week a San Francisco judge ordered the University of California (UC) to pay $33.8 million to students who had their fees unfairly raised. The case involved more than 10,000 students at the state system’s professional schools, who claimed UC officials broke their promise to freeze fees at the amount students paid when they first enrolled. Superior Court Judge James Warren called the university’s breach of contract “clear and unambiguous.” “It shows that even the law school needs to follow the law,” said Mo Kashmiri, lead plaintiff and 2004 Boalt Hall graduate. “It’s such a black-and-white case. They promised not to raise fees and then they raised fees.”

Seat opens up on the First Circuit

Judge Bruce Selya ’58, who recently visited HLS for a session of oral arguments, announced this week that he will take senior status on the First Circuit Court of Appeals after 20 years of service. Selya, 71, is a native Rhode Islander, meaning his decision could open up a seat for another native of that state. A federal statute mandates that if possible, each state in the circuit’s jurisdiction be represented on the court.

Judge orders Google to turn over data

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge James Ware said that Google, Inc. will have to comply to some degree with a Department of Justice (DOJ) request for search requests made by users. The DOJ originally asked for 1 million random web addresses and a week’s worth of random search queries, but has since significantly revised its request downward. The request is intended to help the DOJ in its quest to revive the Child Online Protection Act, which deals with pornography. Google resisted a subpoena to turn over any information because of user privacy and trade secret concerns. Search engines at Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp.’s MSN, and Time Warner Inc.’s America Online all complied with the DOJ request.

Big win for “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision and agreed with high school student Joseph Frederick that his banner proclaiming “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” was protected speech. Frederick displayed the banner when the Olympic torch relay passed his school, hoping to get on television, and was suspended for 10 days. The court held that since the banner was displayed off school grounds during a non-curricular activity and did not disrupt school, it was protected under the First Amendment. The court also cleared the way for Frederick to ask for damages. Damages 4 Jesus.

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