Welcome to Nearly Legal. I'm delighted to be hosting Blawg Review for my first time and in the UK for the second time. What follows is the best of recent Law blog posts, as heavily filtered through the pre-occupations of an english, publicly-funded civil litigator.
Readers from outside the UK may have noticed that we've just had a spot of bother with car bombs (A Stitch in Haste did). I'm a Londoner, home and work, and, while I generally prefer people not to try to blow up bits of the city, I was heartened to note the way in which the two London attempts were stopped. Britain, or at least England, is obsessed with traffic regulations and binge drinking, these being generally viewed as bad things. One bomb attempt was prevented as a result of inebriates staggering out of a nightclub, the other by the car being towed away for illegal parking. To the drunkards and parking wardens of London, I'm proud of you.
As evidence of those obsessions, traffic offences also featured this week in an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, as breaching the right to non-self incrimination. Geeklawyer was disappointed in the result. Binge drinking is still legal, but as le plus bon de viveurs Charon QC notes, even those of us who politely get through a bottle of wine or several per evening in our own homes are officially frowned upon. And as of today, smoking in public places is banned in England, which is bit harsh on those feeling nervous at the moment.
The UK also has a spanking new Prime Minister and a changed cabinet, including the Lord Chancellor and Attorney General. Head of Legal considers the changes while Prisonlawinsideout has some suggestions for the new Lord Chancellor, as does Simon Myerson for the Attorney-General. Belle de Jure sees historical echoes in the hand-over. Lexblog discovers that our new foreign secretary is a blogger. British politicians are catching on to blogging. For instance, and much to my surprise, the Opposition Minister for Constitutional Affairs has left comments on Nearly Legal.
The existing anti-terrorism legislation will no doubt be re-visited, although hopefully it may be that the new regime approach matters rather differently to the previous Government, about which Lawyer-2-Be has become dismayed. But this is hardly just a UK issue. Instapundit notes Judge Posner's extraordinary view that criminal law can't respond to terrorism, suggesting secret trials for terrorists to a scandalised audience of Australian lawyers. On the other hand, it seems that the US Supreme Court may be on its way to disgreeing - The Volokh Conspiracy and Scotusblog (and 2) comment on Boumedienne and Al Odah, the Guantanamo cases, now up for review. Of course, there are also those who appear to believe themselves to be outside the law - The Right Coast examines Dick Cheney's claim to be of neither the executive nor legislature.
Not that things don't get fraught inside the criminal justice systems. In the US, Defending Those People considers how offensive the defense lawyer should be, while A Public Defender notes an interesting judgment from the Minnesota Supreme Court on post-sentence self-incrimination and Prosecutor Post-Script is worried about a database of informers, both of which are quite jaw-dropping from a UK perspective. In the UK, Legal Beagle questions the value of yet more admin for Counsel in the shape of Plea and Sentence Forms. Despite all this, defenders get to sleep at night according to Public Defender Stuff.
While we are crossing jurisdictions, Tax Prof Blog records an English Court's refusal to allow the extradition to the US of UK citizens because of the conduct of the US prosecutor. As the WSJ law blog points out, this was under an extradition treaty that many in the UK are not happy about, largely on the basis that there is no reciprocity and it bypasses the need for even a prima facie case to be made. Apparently the same US prosecutor is involved in the KPMG tax avoidance case which Sox First fears is close to collapse. Ooops. Still, at least enforcing US civil judgments in France is getting easier, according to Conflict of Laws. However, while moving the money from one country to another is easier, moving people is getting harder - Free Movement writes on the difficulties of proving a marriage for UK immigration purposes.
There have been some odd trans-atlantic synchronicities lately. The racial make up of juries in New York concerns Personal Injury Law Blog, and a recent UK study on the same topic is considered by Publawyer. The problem of schools becoming increasingly divided by race and income is also a hot topic here, but thankfully the UK does not have the laws, history or symbolism that make the recent US Supreme Court decision such an issue. Balkinisation comments, as does Is That Legal among many others.
Another cross pond co-incidence concerns judicial nether regions. The US has the case of the Judge's missing trousers, WSJ, while we had the extraordinary sight of an Appeal Court Judge displaying his underpants in court, and explaining how he removes them, in order to defend his decency and modesty. Head of Legal, The Magistrate's blog and Martin George on the briefs in question.
Globally, it appears that restaurants are now the unlikely movers of cutting edge law. In the old days, if you annoyed restaurant staff, they'd just spit in your food, now they sue you. But in Australia, a restaurant review has been found to be defamatory - Legal Soapbox and Certa.ie try to digest the news. In the US, a rival restaurant is sued for breach of IP, Concurring Opinions and Madisonian net get stuck in. Whilst on IP, the music industry continues to be troubled. In the US, the RIAA's enforcement methods may be illegal says Techdirt, and in the UK music industry figures admit their business model is doomed, Geeklawyer sympathises, a little bit.
Before we were so rudely interrupted by badly parked Mercedes, this review was going to have quite a different form. Suffice it to say that we've still managed to trot through Life and Liberty, with a detour through property rights, which only leaves the Pursuit of Happiness. And for lawyers this pursuit appears to be particularly challenging. The public have good reason to hate us - Quizlaw. We're emotional wrecks - WSJ. We're losing our passion for the law - PT-Lawmom and if you're looking at big law, your career is up the spout - The BLS Blog.
Personally, I now know I will never be happy until I'm told exactly what is the legal height for a dwarf. Thanks a lot, Human Wreckage.
Happy forthcoming Independence Day to US readers, if you feel capable of happiness, and to the rest of us, pull your socks up and stop grumbling.
Next week Blawg Review is down to be hosted by the chubbier, wealthier, fellow British Blawger Corporate Blawg UK. In the interim, may I commend to you the delightful British and Irish Law blogs to be found in the list on the right.
Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.