Friday Links

id42

Above, you’ll find the cover of Independence Day #2, a comic book adaptation published way, way back in the halcyon days of 1996 (to coincide with the release of the film). Well, as you may know, the film’s sequels hits theaters this week, and although we’re a bit hesitant to endorse it, we’ll probably see it. After all, we remember standing in line in early July of 1996 to see the first one (which morally obligates us to see the sequel). That’s how at works, or so we’ve been told.

As we mentioned yesterday, we will be at the North Carolina Bar Association Annual Meeting this weekend in Charlotte. Say hi if you see us, and be sure to follow the hashtag #NCBAAM16 on Twitter if you’re interested in the event.

Did anyone go see The Cure in concert last night in Charlotte?

If the representations in our favorite legal tweet of the week are true, we need to see Finding Dory (as we adore jokes about warning labels). See below, and hap tip to Bob Dorigo Jones.

Abnormal Use at the NCBA Annual Meeting

As you may know, we here at Abnormal Use often travel to conventions and meetings far and wide. As fate would have it, though, the North Carolina Bar Association’s Annual Meeting takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we have an office (and where our editor, Jim Dedman, is based). Accordingly, Jim will be at the NCBA Annual Meeting, and we suspect he’ll be tweeting from it using the Annual Meeting’s official hashtag, #NCBAAM16. In fact, as you’ll see below, he’s already at it.

If you also happen to find yourself at the meeting, be certain to say hello!

Storytelling for Lawyers

We have all read about the importance of telling a good story as part of any trial strategy, whether in an opening statement or a closing argument, but what about in our own personal marketing or when promoting our law firm? Yes, you have the 60 second elevator speech that you can use, but what about a story that informs others about what you can do for your clients or what your law firm is capable of doing for its clients?

I recently read a Wall Street Journal article by Susan Credle, global chief creative officer for FCB, one of the largest advertising agency networks. In the article, Credle says “data and technology dominate the conversations.”  There is creativity but it is often formulaic. Credle laments the absence of “bright moments when someone creates a piece of work that captures our imaginations and our hearts.” Credle’s theory is that the advertising industry has “forgotten that first and foremost we need to be storytellers.” She says the best in their industry are “relentless storytellers” whose brands are purpose-driven and whose stories are authentic.  The story is told and retold, over and over again, in “new, surprising and creative ways.” As Credle notes, this storytelling is an investment, and with each new investment, “the brand becomes more valuable.”

Credle encourages others to seize the opportunity, even the responsibility, “to create famous, lasting brand stories.” She asks if we are dreaming big enough, if we are walking away from what could be some legendary stories. Credle concludes “It is about a relentless and lasting commitment to a brand’s story, and the elation of waking up every day with an opportunity to help write the next chapter.”

Credle’s premise is that our stories create the most valuable brands. Have you thought about what stories you can tell? Can you write a story about your practice that is memorable and effective? I have been inspired by Susan Credle’s emphasis on storytelling. So, I am going to work on some of my stories. I think I will start with the story of how I decided to become a lawyer.

Until next time . . . .

Hot Coffee May Be A Carcinogen?

Coffee Art

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use have prolifically posted on hot coffee-related topics. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has now given us a novel hot-coffee related topic on which to post. A review published today by the IARC concludes that the consumption of “coffee, mate, and very hot beverages” is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

CNN reports that “the review by a panel of global experts stated that drinking beverages at temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius — 149 degrees Fahrenheit — could cause people to develop cancer of their esophagus, the eighth most common form of cancer worldwide.”  The reason being that the drinking of hot beverages “at this temperature can cause significant scald burns in the esophagus when they’re consumed and has previously been linked to an increased cancer risk in this part of the body.” The good news for our U.S. and EU readers is that “beverages are not typically consumed this hot in Europe and North America but are commonly served at, or above, this temperature in regions such as South America, the Middle East and East Africa — particularly when drinking teas.”

Reportedly, “the findings come after a group of 23 international scientists analyzed all available data on the carcinogenicity of coffee, maté — a leaf infusion consumed commonly in South America and other regions — and a range of other hot beverages, including tea. They decided that drinks consumed at very hot temperatures were linked to cancer of the esophagus in humans.”

The new classification for very hot drinks puts them in the same risk group as exposure to gasoline and lead, which are also classified as “possibly carcinogenic” by the IARC. Talcum powder as used in the perineal or anal regions of the body is also within this category.

For more information on carcinogens generally, please see our prior post on the alleged carcinogenicity of certain meats.

Friday Links

We here at Abnormal Use are nostalgic persons, and we must commend the dear YouTube user who posted a video of a 1996 drive through the City of Austin, Texas (which our editor once called home). It’s a trip back in time, and you can watch the video here.

Country music singer David Allan Coe now finds himself in legal trouble with the IRS.

Don’t forget that HeroesCon takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina this very weekend.

Our favorite legal tweet of late comes from Judge Dillard, and you can find it below.

Why Lawyers Should Be on Twitter – And Who You Should Be Following

Like Utah’s federal court opinion explaining Facebook, I will begin by explaining what Twitter is. Twitter is “an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called ‘tweets’. Registered users can read and post tweets, but those who are unregistered can only read them.” People use Twitter for different things. They use it to communicate and keep in touch with others. They use it to keep up with breaking news. They use it to promote their businesses. And, unfortunately, people use it to ruin their careers.

There are many reasons that lawyers should be on Twitter, but the main reason is that it is a great news filter. If you still only get the news from the morning paper, you will likely be the last to find out about almost every important event. Twitter allows news outlets such as The New York Times (@NYTimes) and CNN (@CNN) to break news literally the second it happens and to send the news directly to people’s phones instantaneously. No paper or TV necessary. The Twitter user has the opportunity to select which news outlets he or she wants to follow, and you can even follow your favorite individual journalists. If you lean to the left, and you only want to follow left-leaning news outlets, you can. If you lean to the right, and you only want to follow right-leaning news outlets, you can. Or, if you want to follow the opposite side to get your blood pressure going, you can do that too!

For lawyers, the best thing about Twitter as a news feed is that you can keep up to date on developments all over the country, and all over the world, as they happen. Judicial opinions and jury verdicts neglected by mainstream news agencies will be covered by legal news outlets such as Law360 (@Law360). Other lawyers are also great sources of information. Lawyers from around the country share information and commentary that you would miss if you were not on Twitter.

The best part about Twitter as a news outlet is that Twitter forces the person tweeting to limit the tweet to 144 characters. So, instead of having to read a long, drawn out article on a subject, you can get the gist of a story in a matter of seconds. You can then dig deeper if you want to, but the short tweet at least makes you quickly aware of the story or issue.

We also promised a list of who you should be following. The following is a nonexclusive list of who we think you should be following, but there are other lists out there such as this one and this one. Without further ado, we recommend the following accounts.

Above the Law (@ATLBlog)

Lawyerist (@Lawyerist)

Lowering the Bar (@LoweringTheBar)

Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. (@GWBLawFirm)

Jim Dedman (@JimDedman)

Jeena Cho (@Jeena_Cho)

Stacy Linn Moon (@StacyMoon02)

Kyle White (@Kyle_J_White)

Nick Farr (@NAFarr)

Judge Dillard (@JudgeDillard)

John E. Cuttino (@SCLitigator)

Max Kennerly (@MaxKennerly)

Gray Culbreath (@GrayCulbreath)

Marc Williams (@MarcWVA)

DRI (@DRICommunity)

Walter Olson (@WalterOlson)

Ron Tate (@SCCounsel)

Stuart Mauney (@StuartMauney)

This list is in no particular order and is by no means complete, but it is a good start!

 

“Stairway to Heaven” Plagiarism Suit Set For Trial

A while back, we here at Abnormal Use wrote about a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Led Zeppelin. The suit, filed by the estate of Randy California of the band Spirit, alleges that Led Zeppelin lifted the opening chords of “Stairway to Heaven” from the Spirit’s song “Taurus.”  Now, some two years later, that case is on the eve of trial.  Jury selection is set to begin this very morning. Trial is is expected to last less than a week, with each side allotted 10 hours to present testimony. In case you are wondering, the great Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are expected to be in attendance at trial.

We will be curious to see how this one plays out at trial. If the plaintiff prevails, it would mean that a jury found by a preponderance of the evidence that one of history’s most prolific songs was partially plagiarized from Spirit of all bands. While we appreciate the classic California band and, in particular the song, “I Got a Line on You,” it is hard for our minds to grapple with notion that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant didn’t conceive the majestic opening chords of “Stairway to Heaven.” We get that many bands (including Led Zeppelin) are no strangers to “musical inspiration” in creating their own hits, but it still pains us to think that our favorite songs are anything less than original.  Of course, we are also the same folks who questioned whether Tyson intentionally bit off Holyfield’s ear or whether Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs. So take it for what it is worth.

The plaintiff alleges that Jimmy Page got his musical inspiration for “Stairway” when Led Zeppelin was the undercard for Spirit during a 1968 U.S. Tour and heard the band play “Taurus.” According to Page, the band apparently was paying that much attention. In a 6-page declaration filed with the court, Page stated the he never heard nor was he aware of “Taurus” until a couple of years ago. We will wait and see which way the jury wants to go.

Friday Links

supes27

Enough said: Please consider the arguments set forth in “Why you Need to Stop Typing and Start Dictating” from the Tips for Lawyers website. Very important lessons here, folks. We’ve run into a lot of younger lawyers who believe that their savviness with computers prompt an aversion to dictation. As the article suggests, though, there’s nothing more efficient than using the dictation process to place your thoughts onto the written page (unless your Superman, depicted above on the cover of Superman #27, published way, way back in 1944).

Of course you know that many of our Abnormal Use bloggers also use Twitter. Today, we direct you to the Twitter account of longtime Twitter user Stuart Mauney whose tweets you can follow here. (In fact, it was Stuart who directed us to the dictation article referenced in the preceding paragraph!). Enjoy his tweets!

Don’t forget that the new Band of Horses album arrived today.

After the nonsensical insurance claim subplot in Now You See Me, we have no interest in seeing the new sequel.

There is, apparently, a 1993 issue of Fantastic Four entitled “Chaos in the Courtroom.” You’ve been warned.

Brewery Law CLE In Charlotte on June 9

If you find yourself in Charlotte, North Carolina this Thursday, June 9, please join the Mecklenburg County Bar for an upcoming brewery law seminar. The bar’s Continuing Legal Education Committee plans a number of very interesting events, including programs on the Salem witch trials (featuring colonial historian and novelist Katherine Howe), the fascinating tort of alienation of affection (for a Halloween event at which presenters also explored the legal implications of the Ashley Madison hack), and of course, the regulation of North Carolina breweries.

Its next program is the “What’s Brewing with Regional Alcohol Laws?” event, which takes place this coming Thursday, June 9 starting at 5:15 p.m. The program will explore the laws governing the interstate shipment of alcohol, trademark issues, and other craft brewery legislation in both North and South Carolina. The roster of speakers is impressive; it includes lawyer and South Carolina Brewers Guild executive director Brook Bristow of Bristow Beverage Law, Raleigh beverage industry attorney Laura Collier of Strike & Techel Beverage Law Group LLP, and Carrboro trademark law guru Ed Timberlake of Timberlake Law, PLLC. Both Laura Collier and Ed Timberlake have spoken at past brewery law events in North Carolina, and they are not to be missed. This event will be Brook Bristow’s first speaking event at a brewery law program in North Carolina. The event will be held at the Birdsong Brewing Company on North Davidson Street in Charlotte. Known for its famed Jalapeño Pale Ale, Birdsong also brews a seasonal wheat ale called Fake Plastic Trees, named for the sublime 1995 Radiohead single.

The general public is welcome to register for the event. If you’re an attorney desiring CLE credit, it can be yours, but if you’re not and/or you don’t, there are other pricing options (including a $25 general public rate). Registration information, speaker biographies, and more specific program information can be found here.

The event was planned by our editor, Jim Dedman.

First Wrongful Death Lawsuit Hits Marijuana Industry

Since its recent legalization in certain states, marijuana has found itself in the middle of several product liability lawsuits. A new lawsuit filed in Colorado has just upped the ante. According to a report from the L.A. Times, a new suit has been filed accusing marijuana of being the culprit for a homicide. In the first wrongful-death suit against a recreational marijuana company, the children of Kristine Kirk, murdered by her husband, Richard Kirk, back on April 14, 2014, have filed suit against Gaia’s Garden, LLC, claiming that the company’s Kandy Orange Ginger chew candy triggered the shooting. The plaintiffs allege that Gaia’s failed to warn customer that marijuana edibles could lead to paranoia, psychosis and hallucinations.

According to Kristine Kirk’s 911 call, the shooting happened after Richard burst into their home ranting about the end of the world. Thereafter, he laid on the floor and asked for someone to kill him. Richard then retrieved a pistol and shot Kristine. Richard has been charged with first-degree murder. He initially pleaded not guilty, but has since changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

We here at Abnormal Use will be interested to follow this suit as the facts develop. Reading the reports of the incident make it sound more like those involving bath salts than recreational marijuana. It is so outside-the-box that we almost wonder whether marijuana was the culprit at all. Interestingly, toxicology reports showed that the amount of THC in Richard’s blood was less than half the legal limit. Prosecutors actually contend that the murder is the result of increasing marital stress.

In any event, we see this as a case akin to suing Anheuser-Busch for a driving under the influence accident. Gaia’s apparently complied with all state labeling requirements regarding the potential adverse health effects. With legal marijuana being so new to the marketplace, we suppose this lawsuit is an attempt to test the waters with marijuana litigation. We assume that the same legal principles applied to similarly situated products will continue to apply.