Jim Porter: Legal potpourri for the cocktail circuit
February 10, 2012
Sno Balls and Ding DongsItandamp;#8217;s one thing for our airlines and car manufacturers to file bankruptcy, but Hostess is a whole other matter. How could we do without Twinkies, Sno Balls, Ding Dongs, and Ho Hos? And donandamp;#8217;t forget the apple and berry pies. Oh, and Wonder Bread. I wonder if it still Builds Strong Bodies 12 Ways. My dad was a Wonder Bread guy, mocking the kidandamp;#8217;s switch to wheat bread as trendy. And Kodak filed bankruptcy. Whatandamp;#8217;s next, Blackberry? Hostess Brands, in business for 87 years, is the victim of a more health-conscious America.While I was never a fan of Twinkies or Ho Hos, I really liked Sno Balls andamp;#8212; pink is the best andamp;#8212; and chocolate cupcakes. The ones with the mysterious white stuff in the middle.I have a Hostess berry pie story. I inadvertently left a berry pie under the car seat. Six months later when duck hunting I found it and thought andamp;#8220;why not.andamp;#8221; I took a bite. It was as good as the day it was packaged, not as good as I remembered them, but not bad andamp;#8212; as long as I didnandamp;#8217;t read the list of ingredients.The Principal Is a PervertThe U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing three lawsuits filed by students who posted disparaging, false comments online about their principals and teachers.In one of the cases, a middle school principal in Pennsylvania was shocked to see his photo online described as a andamp;#8220;hairy sex addictandamp;#8221; who liked andamp;#8220;hitting on students.andamp;#8221; Another principal was called a big fag, a whore and a drug user. In West Virginia a student maliciously mocked another girl as a slut with herpes.All three students were suspended, and all three promptly filed lawsuits. The ACLU claimed the postings were andamp;#8220;juvenile humor.andamp;#8221;In two of the cases, the students won, but the victim of the herpes slander won. All three are before the Supreme Court. Weandamp;#8217;ll report when the high court rules. I predict the First Amendment will prevail, further opening the door to uncontrolled, flagrant lies protected as andamp;#8220;speech.andamp;#8221; Like political advertising and unlimited Super PAC donations. I am losing faith in the First Amendment.GPS Violates PrivacyIn a case you probably read about, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police violated Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure by planting a GPS device on a suspectandamp;#8217;s vehicle without a warrant even though the vehicle was on public property.The Court acknowledged that the ruling put off Internet andamp;#8220;thorny problemsandamp;#8221; for another day. The Court needs to make rulings to bring clarity to the rights of privacy and free speech surrounding the Internet, cell phones, and other tech devices and social media, including the rights of musicians, authors and publishers who have their works stolen and republished.Hot Coffee, The MovieAll of us know what happened to Stella Liebeck, the elderly woman who spilled a scalding cup of McDonaldandamp;#8217;s coffee on herself and sued the fast-food giant and won. What is not so well known is that her award was substantially reduced. I receive periodic e-mails of the so-called andamp;#8220;Stella Awards,andamp;#8221; supposedly true stories of our legal system gone awry. The legal system is far from perfect, but the Stella Awards are fictitious. Hot Coffee is an interesting documentary film that examines the infamous McDonaldandamp;#8217;s coffee case from a different point of view.Inside Job, Another MovieAs long as we are doing movie reviews, you really need to see Inside Job, (and in the same vein, someone suggested Too Big to Fail.)Inside Job documents the crash of our economy and financial institutions and the role corporate CEOs played-then and now. The same CEOs and high-profile university professors are still counseling our government policy makers. You will not be disappointed. In case you were wondering, most of those CEOs made out like bandits while their investors and the taxpayers lost billions. Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon, with offices in Truckee and Reno. He is a mediator and was the Governorandamp;#8217;s appointee to the Fair Political Practices Commission and McPherson Commission, both involving election law and the Political Reform Act. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at-the firmandamp;#8217;s website http://www.portersimon.com.