CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts doctoral student is trying to force the CIA to open up about how it uses jokes on social media. The CIA has been on Twitter since June 2014 when it tweeted, “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” It was a humorous nod to […]

via MIT student sues CIA for info on Twitter jokes — Boston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7News

AZ Black Bar logoToday, I catch up with another Arizona legal event of note: the Arizona Black Bar’s Hayzel B. Daniels Scholarship Award Dinner.

Held on October 16, 2014, at the Phoenix Art Museum, the event carried through on its theme of “closing the opportunity gap and building coalitions.”

In the story of bridging the gap between communities, the keynote speaker was an inspired choice. Attorney Connie Rice is the co-founder of the Advancement Project, described by organizers as “an organization that was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.”

AZ Black Bar Connie-L-Rice

Connie L. Rice

Rice spent decades suing for justice in Los Angeles, but her work yielded not only positive outcomes for underserved communities; it also yielded respect and more from California centers of power. For as Judge Carol Berry introduced her, “Connie Rice would wake up every morning thinking of new ways to sue the Los Angeles Police Department. Today, they give her a parking space.”

Rice’s remarks were salted with numerous memories of toiling in the high-pressure L.A. legal community. “I learned from Johnnie Cochran,” she said of the storied trial lawyer. “I did whatever he did—but better.”

Her speech at the Phoenix Art Museum focused on the LAPD, which she claimed has come a long way.

Recalling her initial impressions, Rice said, “I had never been to a town where everyone hated the cops.”

Her answer to alleged dehumanizing practices was through the courts.

“Back then, I was totally fearless. We had seven major class actions; we won. But with every victory, what could I show the community?”

To Rice, the problems—and the solutions—lay deeper.

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” she wondered. “Why do they make every African American get out of their car and lie on the ground?”

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” Connie Rice wondered. (Photo: Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 16, 2014.)

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” Connie Rice wondered. (Photo: Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 16, 2014.)

Part of the solution, she started to believe, came from new ways of seeing. For if an officer could look at a little Black boy and “see only an arrest statistic, and not feel love,” change would never occur.

The drug war and the prevalence of gangs was then making parts of Los Angeles a place of daily terror. And that spurred Rice to consider new approaches.

“I was winning my cases, but my clients were losing their lives. The first of the civil rights is the right to be safe. The first of all freedoms is the freedom from violence.”

She told the audience that her book Power Concedes Nothing is where she “documented my journey into copland and gangland, and then knit them together.”

Attorney Gerald P. Richard II, President, Arizona Black Bar

Attorney Gerald P. Richard II, President, Arizona Black Bar

The book explains how she was invited into the police department to help investigate police corruption and stayed to help rewrite the department’s anti-gang efforts.

Those efforts are credited by Rice with significant decreases in gang-related deaths. And it was “the most important thing I’ve done.”

Of her work with the police department, Rice says, “It’s all about cross-pollination, the opening of hearts and minds.”

Rice says the approaches are replicable across the country.

“If we can turn the LAPD into a bunch of heartfelt cops, anybody can do this. The lesson is, you can unlock everybody’s heart if you take the time to learn what’s in others’ hearts.”

To hear from Connie Rice herself, watch this video from a previous award.

Congratulations to the Black Bar and its leadership, including its President Gerald P. Richard II. Not only is he an esteemed attorney who serves as the Assistant to the Phoenix Police Chief, he also was an event honoree, receiving the Cecil B. Patterson Jr. Community Service Award.

Finally, if you’re curious what your correspondent writes on when he arrives at an event and realizes his pad is full and he needs more, click here.

Scottie Pippen

When Scottie Pippen gets bugged, he really gets bugged.

That’s one of the simpler takeaways we gained this week following the former NBA star’s legal broadside against, well, against a huge number of people.

Angered at what he sees as misreporting about his financial status, Pippen filed a defamation action in federal court in Illinois. Those at the receiving end of the suit range from massive media entities, all the way down to a law school blog.

I’ll talk about the blog in a moment.

Pippen’s beef is with media outlets that reported he had declared bankruptcy—he insists he never has. But in his retaliation against those who made the claim, he’s cast his net far wider. And in the process, he’s caught up a blog and others. His demand? $1 million from every entity that published or republished what he claims was erroneous information (there appear to be nine defendants).

News of the suit was generously shared with me two evenings ago by an ASU law student. She pointed me toward a TMZ news story—not a location I typically come across legal news. But the celebrity-gossip site seems to have broken the news of Pippen’s suit, and provided a link to the filings.

The lawsuit brought a chuckle from at least one Arizona lawyer, who opined on Facebook:

“ASU should offer to provide a remedial writing class to Pippen’s lawyer as settlement of all claims. ‘[A] most foul libel indeed’ sounds like something Stephenie Meyer would write, if she decided to pen a legal ‘thriller’ for tweens.”

The lawyer’s comparison to the “Twilight” series was based on the suit’s opening line: “It is a most foul libel indeed to be falsely accused of being bankrupt.”

I used to work with a lot of Chicago lawyers, and I know they can be all “Comes now the plaintiff.” Charming, really.

(I also enjoyed the caption, which names Arizona State University, based on the blog we’ll get to in a moment. The suit is aimed at “ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION FOR A NEW AMERICAN UNIVERSITY A NON FOR PROFIT CORPORATION.” I know the language was yanked off some university website, but you can still see University President Michael Crow grimacing to see his carefully tailored new-speak bent to such pecuniary purposes. So very old American university.)

You may read the filing yourself here.

Since last night, other lawyers have offered their armchair critique of the lawyering on Twitter (“Twitiques”?). The most common 140-character analysis boiled down to “Damages? Really?” Others treaded dangerously close to saying that Pippen appeared to be in a bad financial spot, and this lawsuit could be a solution; of course, that could be risky speech, given the willingness of Pippen to add defendants.

And that takes me to the blog, specifically the “ASU Sports and Entertainment Law Blog.”

If it sounds like a modest affair, that’s because it is. Its content—quite often insightful and timely—is created by law students who, let’s admit, have a pretty busy day job. This is a media channel, true, but one that lacks the deep bench of CNBC or CBS, two other defendants.

Take a look at the blog here.

It’s well done and includes valuable content. One thing you won’t see, though, is the post in question. It was published back on February 1, and it was up and available right through early evening on Tuesday. And then—poof—it was depublished.

The sudden disappearance gave me some insight into the kind of day the ASU Law bloggers had. One can almost see the scramble in Tempe, the abrupt arrival of university lawyers into the lives of the students, the impetus to act to minimize and mitigate harm—not that anyone’s admitting any, of course.

Most indigestion-ridden, I would guess, is a student named Dan White, the author of the post. I’d suppose he’s had some conversations with ASU administration by now, and had the words of his post reviewed with combs that define “fine-toothed.”

I have to guess at those things, because I haven’t been able to speak with Dan—yet. My emailed request for an interview disappeared into the mists as readily as the original post did. But I’ll keep trying.

Who can blame him, though, for not speaking to media? Not me. I’d assume that the university lawyers have made it clear that no one but they will speak publicly about the post and this lawsuit. My offer that he may want to tell his own story probably does not sound too appealing to him. But perhaps it will eventually.

One reason Dan may want to chat with media (Call me!) is this: It appears he wrote a good post that was carefully crafted and not inaccurate. Of course, it will take some time to determine whether the post is judgment-proof. But gauging by the claims made in Pippen’s pleading itself, there ain’t much there when it comes to the blog.

After all, at least one other outlet actually reported that Pippen had filed bankruptcy. But Dan White never did that. Instead, he discussed the financial troubles of athletes generally. And then he wrote about “bad investments and failed lawsuits,” for which he had news links (i.e., they actually were factual). Pippen may not like people hearing the news, but it appears to be news.

(And yes, I have read the post. Having been through a lawsuit rodeo or two myself, I expected that ASU would deep-six the post pretty quickly, so I snared it when it was available. But although I have a copy of the post, I’m not going to republish it for you. After all, we have lawyers here at the State Bar too, and I’ll skip any step that may give them indigestion!)

I will follow up on this as the story develops. Tomorrow, I’ll talk more about the Pippen lawsuit and the dilemmas it suggests for journalists of all kinds, not merely student bloggers. And I’ll offer my thoughts on the value of blogs—even when they cause their parent organization some momentary distress.

Another chapter in the battle of Arizona Medical Marijuana was opened today when Attorney General Tom Horne filed a lawsuit seeking to close four “cannabis clubs.”

Here is the press release:

For more information contact:  Amy Rezzonico (602) 542-8019 

HORNE FILES ACTION ASKING COURT TO STOP CANNABIS CLUBS FROM ILLEGALLY ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE MARIJUANA UNDER THE ARIZONA MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT

PHOENIX (Monday, August 8, 2011)  —  Attorney General Tom Horne today filed a civil action against four Phoenix-area cannabis clubs and one individual that falsely claim to be operating lawfully under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).   The action is for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief and is filed on behalf of the State and the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“The law permits one card holder to give marijuana to another card holder.  But is does not permit the activities of these Defendants, who charge fees to members.  These private entities and individuals are in no way permitted to legally transfer marijuana to anybody,” Horne said.  “The operators of these clubs claim that they are protected under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act when they are not registered as non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries as required under that law.  These people are marketing themselves as being able to lawfully transfer marijuana, and that type of deception and blatantly illegal activity must be stopped.”

The filing in Maricopa County Superior Court claims that The 2811 Club, The Arizona Compassion Association, Yoki  A Ma’ Club, the Arizona Compassion Club and Michael R. Miller are all private cannabis clubs or owners/operators of clubs that have claimed they are able to lawfully participate in the possession, production, transportation, sale, or transfer of marijuana in accordance with A.R. S. § 36-2801 et. seq., the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.  However the Act does not offer legal protection to cannabis clubs, cooperatives or any other person, association or entities that are not registered nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries.  Nor does the act decriminalize the possession, production, transportation, sale, or transfer of marijuana by or through those entities.

This action asks the court to issue a declaratory judgment that each of the Defendants is violating the AMMA and prohibit them from engaging in activities that involve selling, producing, transporting, transferring or possession of marijuana.

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The past week has seen a skirmish turn into an outright battle between the City of Glendale and the Goldwater Institute. The War of the Gs is over a deal involving public monies and a hockey team. The desert has never been more lively.

Most recently, both entities have threatened to sue each other: the Goldwater Institute over what it claims may be a violation of the state Constitution’s Gift Clause, and Glendale over what it claims is the institute’s tortious interference and unlawful interference with the City’s business affairs.

Not unexpectedly, Goldwater lashed back, saying any City lawsuit would be “frivolous and unsuccessful.”

Commentary has sprung up musing on whether Glendale has a hockey stick to stand on, or whether it is inappropriately attempting to squelch open debate. And that got me wondering about SLAPP suits.

As you likely know, that is the acronym for a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” “a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

Are the days of slap shots in the desert numbered? Zbynek Michalek of the Phoenix Coyotes breaks his stick on a slap shot against the Los Angeles Kings, Feb. 18, 2008 (Harry How/Getty Images North America)

I have never run a city, and I’d have to admit that the Goldwater Institute can have the tendency to rankle; in fact, that may part of its signature. But would it be appropriate for a municipality to sue another entity—or even a person—for demanding answers about how public money will be spent?

Are there are any SLAPP experts out there who could explain if the Arizona version applies in this kind of case? Here is the law (A.R.S. §§ 12-751–12-752 (2006)).

I suppose the question would be whether the Institute’s actions crossed into territory that is unprotected by the statute. For example, is threatening to sue over a proposed deal protected? And is contacting bond-rating agencies and underwriters protected?

Inquiring minds want to know. Especially before any of us start to mouth off to our elected officials on some future item with which we disagree.