Category Archives: News

Shake-up in Thomson Reuters Legal’s executive suite as parent company downsizes

In a shake-up of Thomson Reuters Legal executive suite, TR Legal’s president Susan Taylor Martin is out at the end of this month, and Brian Peccarelli, president of Tax & Accounting, and Neil Materson, EVP and chief transformation officer, have been appointed Co-COOs. These changes are taking place in the context of TRI’s “plans to de-layer the business and reduce its cost base to reflect a smaller organization when it closes the sale of a 55% interest in its Financial & Risk business to private equity funds managed by Blackstone (expected in the second half of 2018).” Here’s the press release.

H/T to this LawSites post. — Joe

Illinois is the 37th state to ratify the ERA, what does that mean?

On Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Steven Schwinn wrote

The State of Illinois yesterday [May 30, 2018] became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, 45 years after Congress proposed it. This leave the ERA just one state short of the 38 (three-fourths of the states) required for amendment.

But Illinois’s vote comes well after the (already extended) congressional deadline of June 30, 1982. So does it count toward validation as an amendment? Given the deadline and putative ratification rescissions by five states, can the ERA come into force under any circumstances? Or does it need to be re-proposed, and re-ratified?

He then calls attention to this CRS report, The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues (R42979, May 9, 2013), because it addresses the questions he posed. — Joe

Trump pardons conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza by tweet

President Donald Trump said Thursday he plans to issue a pardon to Dinesh D’Souza, a prominent conservative commentator and filmmaker who was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution. In his tweet Trump adding that D’Souza “was treated very unfairly by our government!”

D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to reimbursing two of his associates after causing them to contribute $10,000 each to the 2012 Senate campaign of Wendy Long. From the FBI’s Sept. 23, 2014 press release announcing the plea deal:

During the plea proceeding, D’SOUZA admitted before the Court that he caused two close associates to contribute $10,000 each to the Long Campaign with the understanding that he would reimburse them for their contributions and that he did reimburse them. D’SOUZA also admitted that he knew that what he was doing was wrong and something the law forbids.

At the time, D’Souza was sentenced to five years probation. — Joe

Kyle Courtney and Harvard’s State Copyright Resource Center team win 2018 AALL Public Access to Government Information Award

Kudos to the award winners. From AALL’s press release:

Courtney and the State Copyright Resource Center Team at Harvard University have created an innovative website that helps users easily access information about the copyright status of their state’s legal information. By offering an easy to navigate, free to use digital resource, the State Copyright Resource Center website educates the public on copyright law and policy and provides advocacy tools for open access advocates and libraries.

Visit the State Copyright Resource Center at Harvard University here. Very helpful. — Joe

Trump Administration issues executive orders making it easier to fire federal employees

Last Friday, the Trump Administration issued three executive orders that will make it easier for federal agencies to fire employees. Buzzfeed reports “the executive orders will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for federal agencies to go through the process of firing a federal employee; reward ‘performance over seniority’; order agencies to work on renegotiating union contracts and publish them in a database; and require all federal employees to devote at least 75% of their work hours for agency purposes.

Resources:

— Joe

ABA reports 1.3 million licensed, active attorneys in the US

Newly released survey data from the American Bar Association on the nationwide population of lawyers indicates a total of 1,338,678 licensed, active attorneys in the United States. The total represents a 0.2 percent increase since last year and a 15.2 percent rise over the past decade in number of U.S. lawyers. Here’s the 2018 American Bar Association National Lawyer Population Survey. — Joe

Mart wins LLJ Article of the Year Award for the third time

This year’s award recognizes Susan Nevelow Mart’s The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal (Re)Search. The article, which some may and I will say, is one of the most important articles published in the 2010’s, demonstrates how legal research is impacted by the biases and assumptions held by the programmers who construct the algorithms searchers use. Congratulations. — Joe

2018 World Press Freedom Index

Earlier this week Reporters Without Borders released its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, an annual review of 180 countries and their relationship with the media. Sweden and Norway again rank as the freest media environments in the world, while the Netherlands replaced Finland in third place. Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea are this year’s worst offenders — just as they were last year. The U.S. has fallen from 43rd to 45th due in no small part to President Trump and his routine attacks on the press. — Joe

CloudNine acquires LexisNexis eDiscovery product suite

LexisNexis has sold its eDiscovery product suite including the LAW PreDiscovery, Early Discovery Analyzer and Concordance products. “That final one is particularly notable—23.5 percent of respondents to the 2017 LTN Law Firm Tech Survey indicated using the tool for e-discovery” notes Legaltech news. In an FAQ on CloudNine’s website, the company added that it plans to allow access to all of the tools in its portfolio to pre-existing users of the LexisNexis and the CloudNine software. — Joe

Simon Fodden, 1944 – 2018

A pioneer in Canadian law blogging, Slaw founder Simon Fodden passed away on Feb. 10, 2018. Here’s the link to his obit on Slaw by Steve Matthews. — Joe

Thomson Reuters’ US Print revenue continues to decline: TRI Q4 and full-year financial results

From the Feb. 8, 2018 press release for Thomson Reuters’ Q4 and full-year financials:

Q4 results for Legal:

Revenues increased 1% to $881 million.
•Recurring revenues grew 3% (75% of total)
•US Print revenues declined 7% (14% of total)
•Transactions revenues declined 1% (11% of total)

Adjusted EBITDA increased 6% to $314 million and the margin increased to 35.6% from 34.3% due to the impact of the severance charges incurred in the fourth quarter of 2016.
•In constant currency and excluding the severance charges from the prior-year period, adjusted EBITDA declined 3% and the margin decreased by 150 basis points.

Full-year results for Legal:

Revenues increased 1% to $3.4 billion.
•Recurring revenues grew 3% (76% of total)
•US Print revenues declined 6% (13% of total)
•Transactions revenues declined 6% (11% of total)

Adjusted EBITDA increased 4% to $1.3 billion and the margin increased to 37.7% from 36.6%. The increase was driven by the impact of severance charges incurred in the fourth quarter of 2016, higher revenues and savings from ongoing simplification initiatives.
•In constant currency and excluding the severance charges from the prior year, adjusted EBITDA was up 2% and the margin increased 30 basis points.

In another move to compete with WEXIS, Fastcase launches imprint for secondary works

When Fastcase hired industry veteran Steve Errick this summer, observers knew things were going change. And they have. Fastcase has launched Full Court Press to publish law journals, legal treatises, deskbooks, forms, checklists and workflow tools. First up, RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law. For details, see Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites post. — Joe

Sixth Circuit holds against University of Cincinnati in Title IX case

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case of John Doe v. University of Cincinnati (16-4693) today.  The case concerns whether a preliminary injunction against a penalty of suspension imposed in a Title IX case should be upheld.  The Court agreed with Doe that his due process rights were violated as he had no way to cross examine the accuser in his case.  The Court notes that educational institutions are not in the judicial business, meaning that their hearings do not have to model trials and their rules of procedure.  Nonetheless, they have to provide a level of due process to the accused.  The fact that the University failed “to provide any form of confrontation of the accuser made the proceeding against John Doe fundamentally unfair.”

The process the University subscribes to in its administrative hearings for Title IX violations allows for accuser and accused to submit written questions which the administrative committee would review and ask each of the parties.  This did not happen in this hearing because the accuser, Jane Roe, did not attend the hearing.  University rules did not, in fact, require any of the parties to attend.  The panel made its decision on the basis of the written statements each party submitted, the Title IX Officer’s report, and statements Doe made in his defense at the hearing.  They decided to impose a two year suspension that was later reduced to one year on administrative appeal.

Doe took his case to the District Court which found in his favor.  The University could only decide based on the submissions from each party, basically one’s word against another.  The Court stated that cross examination was “essential” to due process in these circumstances.  The District Court also noted that the University’s code allowed for notarized statements from the accuser.  Roe’s statements were not notarized and the Court said that this significant departure from the institution’s own procedures could also amount to a violation of due process.

The University appealed to the Sixth Circuit which agreed with the District Court and upheld the preliminary injunction against suspension.  The Court largely agreed with the District Court’s reasoning.  The Court of Appeals set out the required process:

While the exact outlines of process may vary, universities must “at least” provide notice of the charges, an explanation of the evidence against the student, and an opportunity to present his side of the story before an unbiased decision maker. Id. (citing Heyne v. Metro. Nashville Pub. Sch., 655 F.3d 556, 565–66 (6th Cir. 2011)).

Both parties agreed that Doe’s property interest (not being suspended) is significant.  The Court said that the right to cross examine in one form or another is required by due process in the most serious of cases and the accusation of sexual misconduct is one of these cases.

Given the parties’ competing claims, and the lack of corroborative evidence to support or refute Roe’s allegations, the present case left the ARC panel with “a choice between believing an accuser and an accused.” Flaim, 418 F.3d at 641. Yet, the panel resolved this “problem of credibility” without assessing Roe’s credibility. Id. (citation omitted). In fact, it decided plaintiff’s fate without seeing or hearing from Roe at all. That is disturbing and, in this case, a denial of due process.

The Court held that the cross examination need not take the form of direct confrontation.  The question and answer format identified in the University Rules would work as would other variations such as appearances via Skype.  At the very least, the accuser will have to participate somewhat more actively in the hearing.

I wrote a book review recently of Laura Kipnis’ book, Unwanted Advances:  Sexual Paranoia Come to Campus, which is about this very issue.  Professor Kipnis highlighted some of the more egregious violations of due process in the book’s stories.  It’s well worth reading in light of this decision.

Mark

‘Ex Libris – The New York Public Library’ trailer

From the film’s official synopsis: “The legendary filmmaker [Frederick Wiseman] brings his incisive vision behind the scenes of one of the world’s greatest institutions of learning, capturing the vast programmatic scope of NYC’s library system. The NYPL is blessed with uniformly passionate staff and deeply devoted, appreciative bibliophiles and beneficiaries across its 92 branches. The film reveals a venerable place of welcome, cultural exchange, and intellectual creativity.” — Joe

LexisNexis sells 150+ law enforcement titles to Blue360 Media

From the July 13, 2017 press release:

Blue360° Media has acquired over 150 law enforcement publications from LexisNexis® Group covering 40 U.S. states. Blue360° Media publishes Law Enforcement Manuals, Code Books, Field Guides, and an Officer Series focused on professional development.  With over 170,000 publications ordered each year, Blue360° Media helps new recruits learn the criminal and traffic laws for their jurisdiction, assists seasoned professionals in quickly finding legal changes, and helps department managers institute best practices with guidance on issues such as report writing and passing promotional exams.

“2017 has been a particularly active legislative year, and it is important that our officers remain up-to-date on the ever changing criminal code. At Blue360° we are passionate about serving our men and women in blue, and we seek to keep them safe and successful in protecting and serving in our communities,” said CEO Susan Slisz.

— Joe

Complaint available in the Fox News Seth Rich lawsuit

Headlines are blaring everywhere about the lawsuit filed by Rod Wheeler against Fox News involving a Fox story, later retracted, about the death of Seth Rich as part of a plan to distract from the Russia investigation involving President Trump.  See Lawsuit Asserts White House Role in Fox News Article on Seth Rich from the New York Times as an example.  If anyone is interested, the complaint in the case is available from the Deadline news site, here. Another source is from Document Cloud. —Mark

Dark web update: Someone is selling 40+ million voter records

For Mother Jones, A.J. Vicens reports that more than 40 million voter records from at least nine states are being offered for sale on a dark web forum, and the seller claims to have records for an additional 20 to 25 states, according to Dark Reading, a news organization focused on information security. See Someone is selling more than 40 million voter records on the dark web (July 26, 2017)

On a related dark web note, the DOJ announced last week “the seizure of the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet, AlphaBay, which operated for over two years on the dark web and was used to sell deadly illegal drugs, stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and toxic chemicals throughout the world.” DOJ July 20, 2017 press release.

— Joe

 

Friday Fun (with some sadness): Of Moose And Men

I was saddened on Thursday night to hear the news that June Foray had passed away at the age of 99.  She was a remarkable voice actor whose is most notably known for the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show from the 60s.  There was nothing like it on TV at the time and it spawned any number of culturally subversive cartoons that followed.  Dare I say without Rocky and Bullwinkle we would not have Ren and Stimpy or Ralph Bakshi’s crazed version of Mighty Mouse.

Miss Foray reprised the voice of Rocky in the 2000 live action movie, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, starring Robert Di Niro as Fearless Leader, Jason Alexander as Boris Badenov, and Rene Russo as Natahsa Fatale.  The movie was uneven but still a joy with the inspired cast list and cameos.  Other voices in Miss Foray’s repertoire include Granny and every other witch that appeared in Looney Toons cartoons.  Her voice was unmistakable.

OK, so much for the sadness.  On the fun side, please enjoy the 55 minute or so documentary Of Moose And Men, the story of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

Thank you June for all of the joy you’ve given so many people in your long career.

–Mark

Fastcase announces 2017 Fastcase 50 award winners

Kudos to this year’s Fastcase 50 class. Here’s the list. — Joe

Fastcase appoints Steve Errick as Chief Operating Officer and announces plan to launch own imprint for secondary works

Yesterday Fastcase announced that former LexisNexis executive Steve Errick will join the company’s executive team on July 1 as Chief Operating Officer. He will be responsible for executing the company’s strategic vision, developing new editorial products, and developing the company’s organizational structure as the company expands. From the press release:

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Steve join the team,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “Fastcase is an increasingly complex company, with sophisticated legal data updating operations, multiple product lines and more than 100 employees in three offices – and we’re growing all the time. Steve’s deep relationships in the industry and his experience in managing legal publishing companies at scale will be important as we are becoming one of America’s largest legal tech companies.”

Fastcase also announced that it would begin editorial publishing starting in 2018 to expand the reach of its legal research service, which to date has focused exclusively on primary law such as case law, statutes, regulations, court rules, and constitutions. The company will launch it’s own imprint of expert treatises, secondary material, journals and partner with its various State Bar Associations in developing new state workflow products to serve the state practitioner markets.

“Early in my career at West, my challenge was finding the best authors,” Errick said. “Most recently at LexisNexis it was acquiring the best companies and building a product team to drive those businesses. And now, I get this wonderful opportunity to use these diverse experiences to help accelerate the pace of the most innovative company in legal tech.”

Sometime in the future, the hiring of Steve Errick will be viewed as the stimulus for taking Fastcase to the next level to compete with Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis and Bloomberg BNA. It is no coincidence that Fastcase’s press release announced both the hiring of Errick and the move into the secondary source market in 2018. — Joe