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October 2007
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The New York Legal Blog Round Up

Blawgs_2 It's Monday and time for the weekly round up of interesting posts from my fellow New York law bloggers:

Indignant Indigent:

Judicial Reports:

New York Civil Law:

New York Public Personnel Law:

Second Opinions:

Simple Justice:

Wait a Second!:

To What Extent is an Anonymous Blogger Protected in a Defamation Action?

Gavel2 Via the Adjunct Law Prof Blog, I learned of a very interesting New York County Supreme Court decision, Matter of Greenbaum v Google Inc., 2007 NY Slip Op 27448. 

In this decision arising from a pre-action motion for discovery, the petitioner, a school board member, sought disclosure from Google of the name of an anonymous blogger who allegedly defamed her by calling her a "bigot."

The Court held that the statement made by the anonymous blogger was an opinion and thus protected speech, and even if it had not been protected speech, anonymous bloggers are entitled to certain procedural safeguards prior to disclosure of their identities:

The appellate courts of this State have not articulated the standards that should govern applications for the disclosure of the identities of anonymous Internet speakers. Courts elsewhere have repeatedly recognized that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in online forums anonymously or under a pseudonym, and that anonymous speech can foster the free and diverse exchange of ideas. (See e.g. Sony Music Entertainment Inc. v Does, 326 F Supp 2d 556 [US Dist Ct, SD NY 2004]; Best Western Intl., Inc. v Doe, 2006 US Dist Lexis 56014 [US Dist Ct, Ariz 2006].) The cases also recognize, however, that the right of anonymous speech is not absolute and cannot shield tortious acts such as defamation. In determining applications for the disclosure of the identities of anonymous Internet speakers, the courts therefore perform a balancing test between the interest of the plaintiff in seeking redress for grievances (in the case of defamation, protection of the plaintiff's reputation) and the First Amendment interest of the speaker in anonymity. (See e.g. Columbia Ins. Co. v, 185 FRD 573, 578 [ND Cal 1999]), Dendrite Intl., Inc. v Doe, 342 NJ Super 134 [App Div 2001] ["Dendrite"]; Matter of Baxter, 2001 US Dist Lexis 26001 [WD La 2001].)

Intervenor urges that this court follow Dendrite in deciding Greenbaum's disclosure request. Dendrite requires that the anonymous Internet speakers be given notice of the application for discovery of their identities and an opportunity to be heard in opposition, and that the plaintiff specify the particular statements that are alleged to be defamatory. (342 NJ Super at 141). The court agrees with these requirements and has followed them here. Dendrite also conditions disclosure of the speakers' identities on an evidentiary showing of the merits of the plaintiff's proposed defamation cause of action. While Dendrite is persuasive authority, the court need not reach the issue of the quantum of proof that should be required on the merits because, here, the statements on which petitioner seeks to base her defamation claim are plainly inactionable as a matter of law.

Not surprisingly, this decision has received quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere.

For additional commentary, see:

Define That Term #257

Dictionary_2 Thursday's term was codicil, which is defined as:

n. a written amendment to a person's will, which must be dated, signed and witnessed just as a will would be, and must make some reference to the will it amends. A codicil can add to, subtract from or modify the terms of the original will. When the person dies, both the original will and the codicil are submitted for approval by the court (probate) and form the basis for administration of the estate and distribution of the belongings of the writer.

Everyone who guessed offered interesting definitions and information regarding the laws of various jurisdictions and preferences as to why one would or would not want to utilize a codicil.

Today's term is:

tentative trust.

As always, no dictionaries, please.

New Laws of 2007 and Their Effect on NY School Districts

CheckmarkVia Harris Beach, PLLC, comes the following legal alert that "provides a summary of recent legislation which has been signed into law by Governor Eliot Spitzer, as well as a brief explanation of the implications of such laws on school districts." 

It includes summaries of new laws enacted in 2007 affecting employees, students, transportation, and school finance.

It's a useful resource for those who practice in this area of law.

Define That Term #256

DictionaryMonday's term was quitclaim deed, which is defined as:

n. a real property deed which transfers (conveys) only that interest in the property in which the grantor has title. Commonly used in transfers of title or interests in title, quitclaims are often made to family members, divorcing spouses, or in other transactions between people well-known to each other. Quitclaim deeds are also used to clear up questions of full title when a person has a possible but unknown interest in the property. Grant deeds and warranty deeds guarantee (warrant) that the grantor has full title to the property or the interest the deed states is being conveyed, but quitclaim deeds do not warrant good title.

Eli and Edward Wiest offered helpful defintions. 

In his comment/guess, Edward asked:   "In MA, the statutory quitclaim actually conforms to the old deeds providing warranties only against grantor's acts. And how does this compare to what was known as the bargain and sale deed used in NY (before I quit my claim to be practicing there, although I retain my licenses!)?"

Does anyone out there know the answer to Edward's query regarding New York law as to quitclaim deeds?  Real estate has never been my area of practice, so unfortunately, I don't know that answer.

Today's term is:


As always, educated guesses are welcome, but dictionaries are not.

The New York Legal News Round Up

Latest_news It's Wednesday and time for the round up of interesting and/or intriguing New York law-related headlines from the past week:

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thank_you_2The Daily Record wasn't published yesterday due to the holiday, so I fear you'll simply have to wait until next week to be dazzled by the pithy commentary and insightful legal analysis found in my weekly Legal Currents column.   Oh, the disappointment!

I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my regular readers for putting up with my incessant pleas for support in the 2007 Weblog Awards contest.   Sui Generis came in 7th place and was also mentioned in this Rochester Business Journal article

David Lat at Above the Law carried the day with a well-deserved first place finish.  Way to go ATL!

The New York Legal Blog Round Up

Blawgs_2The weekend is over, and it's time for the weekly round up of interesting posts from my fellow New York legal bloggers. 

But, first, I wanted to thank all of you for your support and for putting up with my multiple posts about the 2007 Weblog awards last week.  It was much appreciated!

And, now, without further ado, the round up:

A Buffalo Lawyer:

A Public Defender:

  • Enforcing the right to effective assistance of counsel (not sure if Gideon is a NY blogger, but he discusses the NYCLU's announcement that it will commence a lawsuit here in NY alleging Constitutional violations by the State for its failure to provide adequate resources to public defenders)

Indignant Indigent:

It's No-Fault of NY:

Juz The Fax:

Mental Disability Law Blog:

New York Attorney Malpractice Blog:

New York Personal Injury Law Blog:

  • Blawg Review #134 (an thorough and impressive round up with a NYC theme as its background)

New York Public Personnel Law:

No-Fault Paradise:

Simple Justice:

Wait a Second!:

Civil Rights and Wrongs

Billofrights01_2 It's been a while since I regularly posted about civil rights issues.  Quite frankly, I think that the news was becoming so depressing that I needed a break from it.  But, things are only getting worse and I feel a civic duty to chronicle the  dissolution of our civil rights.

So, on that cheery note, let's begin, shall we?

  • Wave to Big Brother, y'all:  Mark Klein, a whistleblower and former AT&T employee claims that NSA is screening internet data of all US citizens.  No, really? I never could have predicted that!
  • Because privacy is so yesterday:  Apparently, we, the American People, had better run out and buy neo-con dictionaries now that a " a top intelligence official says it is time that people in the United States changed their definition of privacy."  This, as Congress debates whether to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act so as to grant immunity to telecom giants facing over 40 wiretapping lawsuits. (AP)
  • Resistance is futile:  The LAPD is mapping Muslim communities so that we can perfect them "map the locations of these closed, vulnerable communities, and in partnership with these communities . . . help [weave] these enclaves into the fabric of the larger society..."  (LA Times)