Episode 26: Memorial Weekend Roundup


Legally Easy's Memorial Day Legal News RoundupWe’re making this show short and light for this three day weekend, and setting up just a few of the topics we’ll be touching on in the coming weeks. So, grab a burger and put on your shades, and listen to Charley and Juli talk about the week’s legal news!


00:00 Introductions. Juli’s back from England, and Charley sets up this episode’s topics, which include: Dominique Strauss Kahn’s house arrest, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent scandal in the tabloids, discriminatory anti-discrimination laws in Tennessee, an update on Jared Loughner’s trial, and what happens when Disney goes up against Navy SEALs.

1:45 Starting with Dominique Strauss Kahn, the former IMF president who’s making for a very unpopular New York neighbor. DSK, as he’s been called, is under house arrest after making bail following his high-profile arrest for sexually assaulting a maid at the fancy New York hotel where he was staying. We talk about why he was initially denied bail (callbacks to Roman Polanski), his history of misconduct, French conspiracy theories, and the possibility of his political comeback.

5:04 Moving on to the next scandal, we talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 10-year affair with the housekeeper that resulted in a child. It’s a pretty taudry tale, but we’re more interested in the legal aspects of tabloid reporting and the Governator’s rights to privacy. Unfortunately for Schwarzenegger, in the United States, if you’re a public figure you’re fair game, though if someone’s writing outright libel then you have legal recourse. Tabloids stand outside the normal ethics of journalism in that they pay their sources; however, as long as it’s not classified information, it’s technically legal. If you’re interested in this topic you should check out the NYT article “The Gossip Machine: Churning Out Cash”.

We also go over pending bill colloquially called “Mel’s Law”, which argues that due-process rights are violated with the release of allegations that could prejudice a judge or jury, and makes it a misdemeanor for law enforcement officers to sell information to the press.

8:44 Next we go over Tennessee’s new law clarifying the state’s anti-discrimination rules for businesses. The issue was originally just state law versus municipal law, but it’s involved a number of big businesses like Nissan, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and many gay rights groups. The state of Tennessee bans businesses from discriminating against people based on race, sex, age, religion, national origin and creed, but doesn’t protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. A Nashville law did protect the LGBT community from workplace discrimination, but the governor struck down that law in order to create a workplace policy that was consistent State-wide. We discuss the potential options for those advocating gay rights, as well as the important role that municipalities play in progressive policies.

12:25 Jared Loughner was in the news again, but don’t anticipate any swift resolution to the Tucson shooting case, since a judge declared him mentally incompetent to stand trial. Charley and Juli reflect on a previous podcast discussion on what it means to be unfit to stand trial, how this relates to a potential insanity plea, and what will happen in the mean time.

14:54 The last case belongs in the “what were they thinking?” files. Disney tried to trademark the name “SEAL Team Six” shortly after the news of Osama bin Laden’s killing, but this week withdrew its application when faced with a counterfiling from the Navy. Apparently the Magic Kingdom was looking to make a tv show about the elite fighting team, but realized that it’s trademark bid was in poor taste. Interestingly, this sort of trademark grab is not unprecedented: CBS owns the trademark for NCIS, which is not only a Naval criminal investigation branch but a tv show. This leads us to wonder what on earth this means for likelihood of confusion…

17:49 While we had fun talking about this odd situation with the Navy SEALs, it is Memorial Day weekend coming up so we’d like to take a moment to appreciate the service of the men and women in the armed forces, especially those who have fallen.

18:24 Rocket Docket time! This week’s topic is on the right to privacy, and whether there should be more laws to protect peoples’ private lives from public discourse. What do you think? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook, and have a great Memorial Day!

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