Archive for the ‘Shoulda Read Our Book’ Category

Welcome to Portland!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Intern Rebecca here, with embarrassing news from my hometown…

oregongThis case reads a bit like a bad episode of any daytime soap, so I’ll try to break it down for you.

Way out West in Portland, OR, a twenty-year-old man-child by the name of Zachary Driver was caught pimping out girls via the Internet – a business venture made possible by sites such as MySpace and Craigslist. One of Zachary’s “employees” was a fifteen-year-old girl, and Zachary was soon exposed for selling underage girls as prostitutes and was sent to prison.

Distraught by the idea that her son would be returning (that’s right, returning) to prison, Shelia Montgomery, Zachary’s mother, decided to show the world that this particular fifteen-year-old was already a slut before dear Zachary turned her into an underage prostitute. How did Ms. Montgomery do this? She posted naked pictures of the fifteen-year-old on her own MySpace page – ostensibly taken before the girl met her son – to prove the girl lacked a moral code. Because posting naked photos of minors is child pornography, Shelia was charged with assisting in human trafficking over the Internet and is now serving time herself.

A little research unfortunately shows that human trafficking via sites like MySpace and Craigslist is apparently the hip new thing in Portland, along with avoiding gluten and wearing unnecessary glasses.

According to the Portland Police Bureau, an average of five cases of human trafficking via the Internet occur each week in my fair city, with an average of two cases a week being juveniles.

Portland police estimate a pimp earns $800 to $1,000 a day from each juvenile victim.

Really, Portland? Is this what it’s come to? I know we’re known for harboring insane amounts of pot, and more recently meth, and I know our only professional sports team is nicknamed the “Jail-Blazers,” and I also recognize the unemployment rate is uncomfortably high, but using MySpace to pimp out children? Or try to defend your child after they’ve used the Internet to pimp out even younger children?

As an Oregonian, I’m embarrassed. As a US citizen, I’m in shock. Human trafficking is clearly illegal. How can it happen via a forum as public as the Internet?? And we’re not even talking hidden black market websites here. We’re talking MySpace, Facebook’s ever publically embarrassing unwanted uncle.

Human trafficking is happening through the exact same medium you’re using to read this article. Are you disgusted yet?

Why hasn’t MySpace been shut down? Or Craigslist? How can this go on, legally, in a country that prides itself on being safer and all around better than the rest?

AMY RESPONDS…

I had no idea that Oregonians had such strong feelings. Or so many problems, really.  But I’ll be sure to keep my meth lab out of your state.  I think you correctly point out the horror of human trafficking, but I have to take issue with your solution here. First, there’s actually a law that protects websites from liability based on the third party content posted on them. In other words, if I have a website that carries content written and posted by outsiders (MySpace, for example), and someone posts something really stupid or criminal on it, by law as the website owner or internet service provider I can’t be held liable.

Secondly, I think we’ve got a public policy issue if we shut down sites that host content that we think is horrific (even where, as here, it really truly is).  The first amendment guarantees that the government shall not abridge the freedom of the press and while internet laws are still somewhat up for grabs, I think it strikes fear into the hearts of federalists everywhere that the police would be able to just shut down sites that post content that they hate.

Finally, I think that we misuse the justice system when we create a nanny state that, rather than punishing the scum-sucking slime that commit crimes like human trafficking, we simply shut down any possible sites that might allow them to do so.  Instead of shutting down Myspace, I propose instead that we snap pictures as these two idiots are doing the perp walk to the courthouse in handcuffs, and post those on myspace for the world to see.

Biggest Legal Stories of the Year… Beyond SO SUE ME, JACKASS!

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Well, seems our response to Worried Jewish Mother’s question has yet to be posted on the Forward’s website (and now we’re a bit worried we may have pissed off some Jews with our response…).  So in lieu of linking to our answer today, instead we’ll share Amy’s thoughts on the biggest legal stories of the annus horribilis that was 2009.

Here’s our girl on My Fox Philly (and though some might argue the point about the Madoff case, since it technically unraveled in Dec ’08, we think you’ll still have to agree that Amy’s hair looks particularly nice in this clip.):

Bad Touching

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

With Mad Men on hiatus, someone needs to bring the conversation back to inappropriate office behavior. So it falls to our intrepid general counsel in residence to discuss the downside of getting handsy with coworkers.

Fass das nicht an!

Fass das nicht an, dude!

In an interview with Rachel Zupack on Careerbuilder.com, Amy talks boundaries and what you need to know about touching coworkers so you don’t wind up getting yourself  slapped with a sexual harassment suit.

Read more here…

You Dirty Rat!

Monday, December 7th, 2009
Even I know better than to watch this show

Even I know better than to watch this show

No, not talking about a man named Tiger. Today we discuss other morally questionable animal acts, specifically the killing, cooking and eating of rats on the rodent infested reality show, I’m a “Celebrity”… Get Me Outta Here.

Apparently two contestants, aka “celebrities,” Chef Gino D’Acampo and Stuart Manning (?), an actor, “were charged with animal cruelty for acts in connection to the program,” according to the AP. “The killing of a rat for a performance is not acceptable. The concern is this was done purely for the cameras,” David O’Shannessy from the New South Wales RSPCA told the British Broadcasting Corp. (Ed: would it have been okay had it been purely for the taste of rat meat?)

Now I understand that the idea of killing an animal just for kicks is called hunting bad, but where is the line?

Why isn’t hunting considered cruelty to animals you ask? Good question! It’s one we pose in the book… And just to remind you why So Sue Me, Jackass! will be an excellent Christmas gift for both the conservatives and liberals on your list, here’s the Q & A:

Q: Why aren’t hunters arrested for “cruelty to animals”? Killing for sport seems pretty-pretty-pretty cruel to me. . . .

A: Well, my dear liberal sister, though you may find it heartless, like it or not, game hunting is legal in every state. Still, each state has its own specific laws to regulate it: laws that concern the hunting seasons, permits, and weapon usage. For instance, in the state of Maine, you must be at least ten years old before you can shoot dinner. And every state does ban animal cruelty, which is defined as “the crime of inflicting physical pain, suffering or death on an animal, usually a tame one, beyond necessity for normal discipline. It can include neglect that is so monstrous (withholding food and water) that the animal has suffered, died or been put in imminent danger of death.” Currently forty-four states consider certain forms of animal abuse a felony. (Ask former Atlanta Falcon and felonious dog-fighter, Michael Vick, about that one.) Some states go even further, with enhanced penalties for someone who harms an animal that’s a companion (pet).

In one awful case, during a raging domestic brawl a father pulled his kid’s goldfish out of its bowl then stomped on it in front of the child. That’s right, nothing says “I’m your father and deserve respect” like stepping on your kid’s goldfish. Fortunately Bad Dad was later arrested for a host of domestic charges, including cruelty to animals. The defendant tried to argue that he shouldn’t get the enhanced penalty for abusing an animal companion since a goldfish isn’t a pet. But the judge ruled that you can’t limit “animal companions” to dogs and cats; rather, domesticated animals (and apparently putting a fish in a glass bowl counts as “domestication”) like gerbils, hamsters, hermit crabs, and other creatures can be considered animal companions.

More on Things That Go CRASH in the Night

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
I'm totally on the list

I'm totally on the list

Everbody’s talking about the Salahis. They were on the Today Show this morning and said that they were not crashers, they were invited guests to a White House party despite the fact that, according to this AP story, “Michele Jones, a special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said in a written statement issued through the White House that she never said or implied she would get the Salahis into the event.

“I specifically stated that they did not have tickets and in fact that I did not have the authority to authorize attendance, admittance or access to any part of the evening’s activities,” Jones said. “Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come.”

So there’s that.

But say the whole “the President’s life could have been endangered,” thing was not part of the story. Say, as the holiday season approaches and there are parties you want to attend but to which the invitation must have gotten lost… The question I think most of us are wondering is this:

IS PARTY CRASHING ILLEGAL?

And the answer is one we discuss in the book on p. 101! (We were on to this whole party crashing thing long before Tareq and Michaele ever donned saris or auditioned for that Desperate DC housewives show.)

So to make sure you’re not doing anything illicit over the party season to come, go ahead, click this link, buy our book and avoid that legal pitfall that just might come back to bite you if you show up to a shindig on which you’re not on the list.

When Pigs Fly…

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I really do feel bad for celebrity chef, Paula Deen, who got knocked in the schnoz by a flying ham as she was doling out food for the charity organization, Feed the Hungry. While tossing around turkeys and hams with other volunteers, Deen was nailed in the whiffer when the “pig skin” was unexpectedly thrown back to her.  Clearly this is the Thanksgiving version of the old saw, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

But Deen, who’s been a favorite of mine since her hilarious segment on Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!,  responded to the incident with characteristic humor later tweeting: “I haven’t met the ham that could stop me yet!”

As we all head into the Thanksgiving and holiday season, and we go to other folks’ homes, eating their food, drinking their libations, possibly playing ball on their lawns (or having people over to do all of these things in our own homes), it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will blow off a nose-knocking as quickly as Chef Paula. And even during the holidays, there are legal issues to consider…

Fortunately, Amy will be on CNN tomorrow morning at 10:30 to discuss questions like:

  • What if the canned cranberry sauce you serve at Thanksgiving causes a guest to be rushed to the hospital for food poisoning. Are you liable for their medical bills?
  • What if you get caught in a crush of people during a Black Friday sale and accidentally knock an old lady to the ground, breaking her hip. Are you responsible for paying her bills or is the store?
  • What if your deep fried turkey catches on fire and destroys your kitchen?  Are you covered for the damages?
  • Your son brings home a friend from college for Thanksgiving who drinks to much of your wine, then gets into an accident, injuring a pedestrian.  Is he at fault or are you for serving the wine?
  • Your boss wants you to work all day on Thanksgiving but you decide to take the day off anyway because your family is in town. He threatens to fire you. What are your rights?

So tune in, turn on and have a healthy, happy and lawsuit-free T-Day!


Spitting MADD

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Seems to me that there are a few things everyone can agree on, regardless of where you find yourself on the political spectrum: it’s better if the sun is shining on your birthday than if it’s raining, it’s hard not to smile when you see a baby panda sneeze, drunk driving is terrible and NY Governor David Patterson is a phenomenally poor politician.

However, Patterson recently did something that most will agree is a good thing: he just signed Leandra’s Law, a law that makes it a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle. The law was lobbied for by Lenny Rosado, the father of 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed when the (intoxicated) mother of one of her friends flipped her car on the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan.

But as the holidays approach and alcohol tends to flow a bit more “fluidly,” we want to let you know about some of the laws and facts about drunk driving that we discuss in the book. (That would be the book that you can buy here which will make an excellent stocking stuffer this holiday season!)

  • You don’t have to be driving a car or truck to be arrested for drunk driving. You can be arrested for drunk driving a lawnmower.

Police in St. Cloud, Minnesota, arrested a reckless mower after seeing him careening atop his mobile lawn clipper. They then seized the man’s mower because of his previous DWI convictions. The offense colloquially known as “drunk driving” is the crime of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of more than .08. What people don’t realize is that in most states, “vehicle” is defined very broadly and includes any device that is moved by power other than human power. That includes lawnmowers, tractors, golf carts, motorcycles and motorized bar stools (no kidding). In one case, a guy was arrested for vehicular homicide after he hit and killed a pedestrian while intoxicated. He was driving a bicycle at the time. The charges were eventually dropped but the bottom line is that while drinking, you and your record—and innocent bystanders—are better off when you keep your bottom planted on a (stationary) barstool.

  • You can be cited for alcohol-related charges even if you’re just sitting in the passenger seat of a car.

Open container laws prohibit the possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of any alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of any motor vehicle. If you have an open beer bottle, wine bottle, or any other alcohol container that has previously been opened—even if you are not drinking it in the car, you can be cited if it’s in the passenger area (that is, not in a locked glove compartment or the trunk. Some states even make it a crime to transport any ‘unsealed’ alcoholic beverage container in a locked glove box.). And both the driver and the passenger can be cited. So if you have alcohol, keep it in the trunk until you get to your destination.

  • If you’re “impaired” you can be busted on a DUI charge, even if the only thing you’ve been drinking is cough syrup.

A Milwaukee woman discovered this when she was booked on charges of driving under the influence. When she hit a curb, she raised the suspicion of a police officer who witnessed it and he arrested her for DUI. But she hadn’t been drinking: she’d simply taken over-the-counter cold medicine.

You don’t have to be drunk on alcohol to be arrested, just impaired. That impairment can come from alcohol, illegal drugs, or legally prescribed medications—even over-the-counter medicines. Better to read about potential impairment on the bottle before you take the medication than to see it on the police blotter after the fact.

Tricks and Treats

Friday, October 30th, 2009

halloweenyAs one half of Team “Jackass” was still trying to figure out her costume for tomorrow night’s festivities, Amy was all over the radio this AM — the Metro Networks, The Wall Street Journal Radio Network and CBS Radio Networks – talking about the various legal pitfalls associated with the holiday we call “gay Christmas” here in New York.

Here are some of the highlights:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk drivers kill more than three times as many people during Halloween than on New Year’s Eve. Are you liable if your costumed guests drink too much and then get into a car accident? (In a word: YES!)

Emily, your eight-year-old neighbor cuts across your front lawn and trips – maybe on leaves, your plastic skeleton or her own feet.  It’s unclear, but she falls and breaks her arm. Are trick or treaters trespassers or are you liable if a child hurts him/herself on your property?  (You betcha!)

You didn’t realize that some of the candy in your trick or treat dish contained peanuts and a child has a severe allergic reaction, requiring hospitalization. Are you liable? (Not so much, but you’ll probably feel really bad.)

Costumes these days are often crossing the lines in terms of poor taste and indecency. Can you be sued for indecent exposure or costumes that might offend people on racial, moral or ethical grounds? (You can’t be sued, but you could potentially be fired – Happy Halloween!)

Your child plans a Halloween ding, dong, ditch trick on an aging neighbor and jumps out to scare them, resulting in a heart attack. Is your child liable? (No, but remember the Edgar Allen Poe story, “The Telltale Heart”?… The cost of the kid’s therapy is likely going to be greater than any summary judgment.)

Are you liable for your kids’ mischief on mischief night? (You could be! Isn’t parenting fun?!)

Happy Halloweeeeeeeen!

Blowing It For the Phillies

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Dear Susan Finklestein,

susan_finkelstein_20091027120913_320_240Thank you for you interest in purchasing World Series tickets at Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Field. While we appreciate that you are a self-described, “DESPERATE BLONDE NEEDS WS TIX (Philadelphia). Diehard Phillies fan — gorgeous tall buxom blonde — in desperate need of two World Series Tickets. Price negotiable— I’m the creative type! Maybe we can help each other!” we are afraid that it is not the policy of the Phillies’ management to accept sex for seats. At least not from a married 43-year-old woman.

As it turns out, Mrs. Finklestein, offering sex in exchange for cash or a durable good is what we call “prostitution,” and though many of our players,  politicians, announcers, groundskeepers, bat boys, bathroom attendants, ticket takers, peace officers, hot dog slingers, beer sellers, foam hand handlers, peanut & cracker jack merchants, jumbotron operators, color commentators, base coaches, news anchors, cheesesteak traffikers, and at least half the loge level frequently employ the services of sex workers (and we’re talking all the freakin’ time, if you knows what I’m sayin’!), we need to arrest and embarrass you for this crime because we have our morals.

Until prostitution is legalized we cannot even accept a bartered blowjob, not even for tickets in the nose bleed seats. But we thank you for your inquiry and we hope that your time in lock up doesn’t dampen that Philly spirit.

Go Phils!

Sincerely,

Philadelphia Phillies Management

Exactly the Reaction You Want From the Man You’ve Been Sleeping With…

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Yesterday the humor site, Holy Taco, posted a fantastic collection of the 7 Best Maury Povich Paternity Result Reactions, truly a high water mark of man’s humanity to man… Or, more accurately, man’s inhumanity to woman after said woman claimed he was her baby daddy and Maury called bullshit.

Never have you seen the face of pure glee until you have witnessed Andrew’s reaction to the news that he is not some child’s father:

Let’s momentarily put aside our HORROR for the poor little one in question, because though his mother is clearly a slut with exceedingly poor judgment, at least this jackass is not his father.

Let’s think instead of the legal ramifications, and, more specifically what you should do if you were to find yourself in this position (and just to clarify, we mean the position of contested paternity, not jumping for joy on the Mo Po Show.)

In our chapter on Kids, “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby… And Other Things You Might Not Want to Admit to Your Child’s Arresting Officer,” we discuss this issue in detail on page 133 — so go buy yourself a copy, Suspected Daddy — because the law says that though paternity can be disavowed, there are time restrictions. In other words, wait too long to contest the paternity, and even M.J.’s  “Billie Jean” defense won’t prevent you from being forced to pay child support.