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Judges in their own words

November 2015

“At present, the court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court. But, for now, we have got problems, and the court is not sure Braham can solve them. As currently drafted, the complaint has a blank space— one that requires Braham to do more than write his name. And, upon consideration of the court’s explanation...Braham may discover that mere pleading BandAids will not fix the bullet holes in his case. At least for the moment, defendants have shaken off this lawsuit.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gail J. Standish incorporating Taylor Swift song lyrics in a recommendation that a claim against the pop singer be dismissed (and that the plaintiff’s related request to proceed in forma pauperis be denied). The recommendation was accepted by District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald. The case is Braham v. Sony/ATV Music Publishing, No. 15-CV-8422 (C.D. Cal).

November 2015

"Holy copyright law, Batman!"

Ninth Circuit Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, introducing the panel’s opinion in DC Comics v. Towle, 802 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2015), holding that federal copyright protection applies to the superhero’s famous ride, the Batmobile.

October 2015

“When a corporation and its counsel refuse to produce directly relevant information an opposing party is entitled to receive, they have abandoned these basic principles [of
litigation] in favor of their own interests. The little voice in every attorney’s conscience that murmurs turn over all material information was ignored.”

—Judge Roslyn O. Silver of U.S. District Court in Arizona, ordering $2.7 million in sanctions, as quoted by Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. in Haeger v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (793 F.3d 1122, 1126 n. 1 (9th Cir. 2015)). Smith upheld the order, which also requires Goodyear to file a copy of it in all subsequent litigation involving one of its lines of tires.

September 2015

“There ought to be a law against shining a laser pointer at an aircraft. In fact, there is, and it’s … designed for knuckleheads like him.”

—Ninth Circuit Judge Barry G. Silverman, explaining that the defendant violated a federal statute (18 U.S.C. § 39A) that makes it illegal to knowingly aim the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft. (See United States v. Rodriguez, 790 F.3d 951 (9th Cir. 2015).)

July 2015

“Nature, not judges, should be in charge of making mountains out of mole hills.”

—Justice Cruz Reynoso, concurring in Crum v. City of Stockton (96 Cal. App. 3d 519, 524 (1979)) that Douglas Crum could not ask police to preserve a steak as evidence. A meat-industry worker for 19 years, Crum was arrested (but not charged) after complaining at a restaurant that he was served a Spencer steak instead of the New York cut he ordered.

June 2015

“Sometimes it’s not over when it’s over.”

—Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert, ruling in McCready v. Whorf (235 Cal. App. 4th 478,480 (2015)) that a lien entitling the plaintiff to a business’s assets and profits was enforceable, even after the business had been through bankruptcy proceedings.

May 2015

“A fish is, of course, a discrete thing that possesses physical form. See generally Dr. Seuss ‘One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish’ (1960).”

—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, asserting in her dissent in Yates v. United States (135 S. Ct. 1074 (2015)) that fish are tangible objects. The majority found that a fisherman wasn’t tampering with evidence when he threw back grouper he’d caught illegally; under Sarbanes-Oxley, the justices reasoned, the fish didn’t fit the description of “any record, document or tangible object.”

April 2015

“This case goes to show that sometimes life can be like an essay question on a law school exam.”

—Justice Ronald B. Robie, writing for the state Court of Appeal’s Third District in Greenwell v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co. (233 Cal. App. 4th 783 (2015)). The case involved a California resident who purchased an insurance policy from a Michigan company, pertaining to property located in Arkansas; the court held California didn’t have jurisdiction.

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