July 2007


by Lee Gesmer on July 25, 2007

Justia.com is a very cool new legal research site that I stumbled upon. What I particularly like is its “front end” for research in the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (ECF) system, which has become extremely comprehensive since most federal district courts now mandate electronic filing.

One part of the site, Federal District Court Filings and Dockets, gives much easier access to the ECF system than the ECF front end, which I’ve always found to be awkward. Justia allows you to look (for example) for all patent cases filed between any two dates, either nationally or in a particular district. Ultimately, Justia dumps you into the ECF system, and you have to be a paid subscriber to access PDF files at eight cents a page.

The site has a number of other interesting areas to explore, such as a Supreme Court center and a searchable collection of legal blogs and podcasts.… Read the full article

Judges For Life

by Lee Gesmer on July 19, 2007

Andy Updegrove provided me with an article by Roger C. Cramton, Professor Emeritus at Cornell Law School, which Andy (a Cornell Law alum) thought was particularly interesting, and I thought it was worth sharing here. The article, entitled Reforming the Court: How Long is Too Long (published in a Cornell Law alumni magazine) is based on the introduction to a book by Professor Cramton and Professor Paul Carrington of Duke Law School, entitled Reforming the Court: Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices.

Of course, the titles of the book and article state the authors’ thesis. The article, based on the introduction to the book, is thought provoking. Here are a few “facts” taken from the article:

  • Between 1970 and today the average length of service on the Supreme Court has grown from 15 years to 26 years
  • During that time the average age at which a Justice retires from the Court has increased from 68 to 79
  • Statistically speaking, John Roberts, who was appointed at age 53, has a life expectancy of 30 years, and could be sitting as Chief Justice in 2037, or even much later
  • Before the recent vacancies created by the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist at age 80 and the retirement of Justice O’Connor at the tender age of 75, the Court’s membership had been unchanged for 11 years

The idea behind the book and article is that in 1789, when life under the U.S.… Read the full article

I’d fallen behind on some reading, but in catching up I noticed two copyright “fair use” cases that I thought were pretty interesting.

The first was decided by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. This case is similar to a situation that we encounter often, but on a scale that I’ve never seen before. Briefly, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department entered into a license that allowed it to make approximately 3600 copies of a software program on its computers. Through inadvertence, poor record keeping, or poor supervision, the Sheriff’s Department installed the software on approximately 6,000 computers. Exceeding the scope of a license is copyright infringement, and the software owner so claimed. The Sheriff’s Department’s main line of defense was that it’s actions were “fair use.” In all the cases I’ve handled of this nature, it had never occurred to me to assert a fair use defense, and I don’t regret my failure to come up with this imaginative defense.… Read the full article