Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"Not all that is public should be publicized" + some case notes

Do you use Google or some other free internet service to quickly pull up state and federal cases (for free!)? Adam Sherman (of Vorys Sater Seymour & Pease, who also teaches IP law at Northern Kentucky University) thinks it's wrong that court decisions are so readily available. (See OPINION: Not All That Is Public Should Be Publicized.) He argues that decisions should be publicly available online, but not via ordinary searches; instead, those seeking court decisions should have to use specialized search engines, such as Google Scholar. Why? Because he believes quick and easy access may unfairly harm reputations (e.g., a potential employer may view the mere existence of a lawsuit as a black mark against a job applicant). He writes:
Until recently, public access for court decisions still required time, effort or expense. Court decisions used to be filed away in musty courthouses. Some were printed in expensive, hardback volumes available only in law libraries. But now, it’s easier to find court decisions than ever before. Federal circuit court decisions are readily accessible through Internet search engines. While perhaps good in theory, this has actually become problematic and needs to stop.
Although court decisions are public records, that doesn’t mean they should be publicized by the courts on search engines, such as Google.
Image result for online legal research
Image result for dodging a bullet
In the 'dodging a bullet' category, take a look here, where 2/8 concludes:
Although we find –– based on the nature of the record and the briefs submitted
on appeal –– that this is close case for sanctions, we find that the better course is to end
any further court involvement with the parties.
Also of note, to be filed under "when a 'judgment' is NOT really a judgment" (because it's only from phase one of a bifurcated case), look at the now-published decision in Baker v. Castaldi:
After the first phase completed, the court found both Theresa and Alfonse jointly and severally liable for conversion. On May 20, 2013, months before the punitive damages phase began, a document entitled “judgment” was filed. The “judgment” indicated that judgment was against both defendants, jointly and severally, and set forth $610,500 in compensatory damages plus interest and costs. The “judgment” went on to state that the court “finds by a preponderance of the evidence[4] that both defendants Alfonse Castaldi and Theresa Castaldi have acted with malice and with oppression toward plaintiff Ken Baker warranting an award of punitive damages to be assessed at a separate trial.…”  

In the "is it appealable?" file, here's more emphasis that it's the anti-SLAPP order that's appealable, not the subsequent fees order.