Boston Court Reporters
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Boston Court Reporters 675 Massachusetts Avenue Central Square Cambridge

The May 2012 MBA task force report on the state of the legal job market in the Commonwealth is a reminder that even as the economy improves, much needs to be done in order to guarantee a viable economic future for your profession.

When I started the first Electronic Court Reporting firm in Massachusetts, I recognized – as did Judge Franklin N. Flaschner in 1973 – that the economy and quality of audio recording was a superior alternative to traditional machine stenographic court reporting.

From the beginning, the success of Boston Court Reporters has been linked to the success of the legal profession. Just as the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” has meaning in good economic times, so too does it have meaning during the not so good.

As part of the task force’s “conversation” on the state of the legal profession in Massachusetts, one point was how important it is to mentor recent law school graduates.

Recognizing a good idea when we see, hear, or read one, I want to offer gratis the services of our conference room at 675 Massachusetts Avenue in the heart of Cambridge’s Central Square as a place where the conversation on mentoring, started by the task force, can continue.

Our success depends on the success of your profession. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if we can provide a place for mentoring, brainstorming, networking, or socializing.

For today, I’m happy to present Boston Court Reporters’ quarterly newsletter Amicus Advocati and hope that you find it useful, informative, and entertaining.

Buck Ewing 

Boston Court Reporters

In TechNews we share links to stories that pique our interest.

Here is where we share the stuff and stories that interest us as providers of audio and video digital court reporting and transcription services. We’re always keeping an eye out for innovations that benefit us all.

Whether networking, partnering, or communicating, our primary interest is bringing the very best of technology to the practice of law. As we continue to grow our business, TechNews is where we share the latest trends, ideas and cultural game changers with you, our customers.

Think of TechNews as news-you-can-use.

Are you a blogger with a tech focus, either writing about new products or about the impact of technology on the practice of law? Then send us a link to your site. We also welcome your recommendations for techology news to share with our readers.

High (tide) and Dry

While Futurelawyer Rick George’s headline: “protect your smartphone from the toilet” might be a bit put-offish, his link to blogger Chuong Nguyen’s short list of the best waterproof smart phones currently on the market is worth reading.  

“You like me!”

The staying power of actress Sally Field’s proclamation during her acceptance speech at the 1984 Academy Awards for her role in Places in the Heart is what comes to mind when we read blogger Stephen Fairley’s advice on the power of social media. “Everyone wants to be liked…but for business users on Facebook, getting liked is critical to creating real engagement with prospects. This infographic by online marketing firm KISSmetrics walks you through the steps you should take to get more likes on Facebook.”

Freedom of tweet shall not be abridged…

is the take-away from Rosario v. Clark County School District when a Nevada court ruled that the plaintiff, a high school student, was wrongfully suspended from school under a cyberbullying statute. Did young Mr. Rosario tweet racist, violent, and hateful things? Yep. Does tweeting racist, violent, and hateful things while having dinner with his family at a restaurant fall under the cyberbullying statute? Nope.

Intellectual property attorney and social media commentator Venkat Balasubramani gives a thought-provoking summary of students, speech, and privacy.

Fee-fi-fo-fum…

could Twitter be a smoking gun? Attorney Daniel Cummins and Legal Intelligencer reporter Ben Present discuss Twitter, the “sleeping Discovery giant,” part of the Intelligencer’s online Social Media Law Center. Our source for this link is Florida criminal lawyer David Edelstein.  

All that and “a bag of peanuts please.”

We all know the stereotype: the gruff but kindly uncle in the golden years of life, with not much left to him but memories. A Boston-based criminal lawyer – Samuel Goldberg – is our source for this family story, so no surprise that the uncle is James “Whitey” Bulger and the family member is his nephew William Bulger, Jr., son of former Massachusetts Senate President and President of the University of Massachusetts Billy Bulger. We are grateful to Goldberg not only for giving us his take on the recording of Bulger’s conversation with visitors at the Plymouth County House of Correction, but also for a link that brings us to his source, The Boston Herald (our guilty pleasure). It’s almost hard to believe that the chuckling story-teller recorded here is stands accused of 19 murders. Almost.  

Texting from the bench…

is most definitely not a good thing as blogger Scott Henson brings to our attention in the case concerning Polk County (Texas) Judge Elizabeth Coker, who not only did something “very unethical” but seemingly pretty stupid since text messages from the bench to the prosecutor are pretty easy to document and trace.  

A crowdsource of your peers?

From age discrimination cases to criminal assault to intellectual property infringement, courts are relying on unexpected sources as this blog post on the website Urban Dictionary explains.

Are we really friends? And who’ll be the judge of that?

Attorney Venkat Balasubramani follows up one of his earlier blog entries on the failure to overturn jury verdicts based on undisclosed “social media relationships between jurors and witnesses or parties” with a discussion of two cases where judges and Facebook friends have been the issue.

Talking the talk

Billing itself as “All the legal technology and practice management news that’s fit to blog,” TechnoLawyer is our source for blogger Leo Widrich’s take on the psychology of language. 

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Not all blogs are created equal. The number of active blogs on law grows everyday. By one estimate, there are over 5,300 active blogs, podcasts, and newsfeeds on lawyers and the practice of law.

In BlogSay, we cull content from the blogosphere on legal culture, recent legal decisions, the practice of law, and the life of the lawyer. In BlogSay we share news-that-can-amuse, as well as educate, irritate, outrage, and maybe even inspire.

Have you read a noteworthy blog and want to share it with your colleagues? Send us an email.

Beware of Michelin Chefs bearing gifts…

is one way to sum up Napa County Superior Court Judge Diane Price’s ruling that La Toque Restaurant was in violation of California Health and Safety Code § 25982. No matter how you slice it, foie gras is not an expression of free speech in California. The new late summer menu item to replace the cruelly delicious and indisputably illegal fattened duck liver? May we suggest egg (on the face)? We offer you a link to the press announcement on the decision from California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund

Dr. Harold FeelGood…

meets the “conga line of stupid.” At least that’s what one blogger wrote when 23 Attorneys General (including Massachusetts) voiced their collective displeasure with the congenitally cool retailer Urban Outfitters. What could Urban Outfitters’s CEO and Chairman Richard A. Hayne do but pull their “Lightweight ceramic mug topped with a clever coffee prescription” off the shelves? Our source for this story is The Volokh Conspiracy

The Expert Witness (made simple)…

in “ten practical tips” from blogger and general counsel to the Harris County (Texas) Toll Road Authority Clarrisa Kay Bauer. We like Bauer not only because she shows how “you can effectivley manage experts with a few simple strategies,” but also because she uses examples from Hollywood movies to illustrate a good and a bad expert, something we appreciate not only because of our own expert witness column (The Expert Witness), but our own take on Hollywood and the legal profession (Lawyers on the Silver Screen).  

Going, going, gone? 

Among the premier museums of fine arts in the country, the Detroit Institute of Arts is the second largest municipally-owned museum in the United States, with an art collection valued at over $1 billion. While Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s recent formal opinion that the collection cannot be sold by the city to settle its estimated $18+ billion in debt, federal bancruptcy law might say otherwise. Our source for this story is the New York Times, but we link you to Schuette’s decision – a much more interesting read.

“It’s a little iffy to me”…

was the assessment of Rhode Island native Olivia Culpo, the woman whose head currently wears the Miss Universe crown after Pennsylvania’s Shenna Monnin resigned her Keystone State title in protest, following Monnin’s allegation that Donald Trump’s Miss USA pageant was rigged. Whatever the reasons behind Monnin’s resignation, the former 2012 Miss Pennsylvania is in the hole for a cool $5 million after an arbitrator awarded Trump’s organization that amount to settle its defamation claim against Monnin.  

Happy Birthday, Gideon v. Wainwright!

Ohio State University Professor of Law Douglas Berman recommends adding the June 2013 Yale Law Journal to your summer reading list for its “500+ pages of Gideon reading.”

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Lawyers on the Silver Screen is our recommendation of a film about lawyers and the practice of law.

Our inaugural film is Inherit the Wind (1960), director Stanley Kramer’s film adaptation of Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee’s 1955 stage play that fictionalized the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial.

Of interest to us is the small role of WGN radio technician played by actor Norman Fell. While the Fell’s character is at first glance inconsequential to the story that unfolds in the powerful performances by actors Spencer Tracey and Frederic March, the inclusion of this seemingly small character illustrates why the Scopes Trial was considered “the trial of the century.”

The Scopes Trial was the first live broadcast of a trial in American history. Chicago radio station WGN was still in its infancy when it sent radio announcer Quinn Ryan to Dayton, Tennessee to cover the trial. At the cost of $1,000 per day, WGN rented AT&T cables to connect the trial to its Chicago studios. With four microphones placed strategically throughout the courtroom, WGN radio enjoyed unprecedented cooperation of the Rhea County Courthouse in accommodating the radio station microphones to give American radio listeners a front-row seat.

Unfortunately, technology in 1925 was not advanced enough to record WGN’s historic broadcast for posterity. While the film is a compelling dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial, we can’t help but regret that the audio record is lost to the ages. In 1925, a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution brought two of the greatest lawyers of the twentieth century to the sleepy, economically-depressed mining town of Dayton. While the words of Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan are recorded on paper, no doubt radio audiences from coast-to-coast were lucky to hear what we can now only read. 

Do you have a favorite movie about lawyers? Email us your recommendation. We’ll watch it and review it here. Or feel free to write your own review and we’ll post it.

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Leo Cullum, The New Yorker, 1999

Amicus Advocati is read by over 1,000 lawyers and paralegals in Massachusetts.  In our commitment to deliver state-of-the art digital court reporting technology to lawyers, one thing remains constant: the importance of the expert witness in pre-trial discovery. The expert witness can make or break a case. Their expertise is a key component in litigation. If you know an expert witness who we can feature, drop us a line.

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Know ifs, ands, or buts?

According to the Massachusetts Bar Association, “Among the most challenging skills to master for new lawyers is the art of contract drafting and persuasive writing.” Are you a grammarian bar none? Are you a master of contract language? Contact us with your own tried and true rules on legal writing and we’ll give you a forum to reach hundreds of young lawyers who will benefit from your help!

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The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes

Rhea County Courthouse and Museum

“An unmistakable aura of historic presence pervades it” is how one commentator describes the Rhea County (Tennessee) Courthouse. A blend of Romanesque Revival and Italianate design, construction of the courthouse commenced in 1890 after the seat of country government was transferred from the town of Washington to the town of Dayton. Designed by the Knoxville architectural firm of W. Chamberlin and Company and built by contractors William Dowling and J.R. Taylor, the courthouse was opened in 1891.

From July 10 to July 21, 1925 it was the scene of the trial of school teacher John Thomas Scopes, tried and convicted for teaching Darwinian evolution in a public school in violation of a Tennessee law prohibiting such teaching in any publicly funded schools—including the University of Tennessee. The anti-evolution proscription was the law in Tennessee until it was repealed in 1967.

The courthouse has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. A $1 million restoration project in 1978 returned the second floor courtroom to its original appearance during the Scopes trial. A museum in the basement houses trial memorabilia, including the microphone used in the transmission of live broadcasts from the trial.

In late July the courthouse hosts Dayton’s Scope’s Festival, which includes a re-enactment of the trial.

You can find out more about the festival at http://www.scopesfestival.org/.

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According to the Law Blog of the Wall Street Journal, “Most U.S. bankruptcy courts, federal magistrate courts, and at least five states use only digital recording systems, while 18 other states are moving in that direction. Improving technology and squeezed state budgets have accelerated the trend.”

 

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