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The Law Is My Ass

The legal news of the moment, from Supreme Court decisions to legislative activity, to legal issues in the public consciousness - presented and discussed by highly experienced and thoughtful attorneys, law professors, and humorists.
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Aug 12, 2017

More Kozinski! After special guest co-host Will Maguire and Joe wade through the travel ban update and the legal news of the week (FBI raids! Google Bros! Breaking Bad!) - we play the second half of Joe's interview with outspoken and controversial Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, including his honor's thoughts about

  • The Fourth Amendment
  • How to be friends with the judges you criticize in your dissents
  • Digital privacy and the third party doctrine
  • Whether your mom is a good legal editor
  • Criminal justice reform
  • The death penalty

We will be on hiatus until September - but we hope you'll listen in, and, as always, keep it legal!

Aug 5, 2017

This week Joe and special guest co-host Vernon C. Grigg III walk you through the week's legal developments, including the re-invigorated Ninth Circuit appeal of the revised Hawai'i injunction against the second administration travel ban; the marketing of medications directly to state drug court judges; Wells Fargo's misconduct, which just keeps going, and going, and going; and the Mueller grand jury that empaneled last week but best of all - we close with Part 1 of our 2-part 90-minute interview of Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski! In this the first half of the interview we touched upon

  • His childhood in Romania
  • His libertarian political views
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Bananas
  • Movies and judicial opinions
  • Antitrust laws
  • The Senate Blue Slip process
  • The power (or lack thereof) of big corporations, and
  • Proposals to divide the Ninth Circuit

Next week will be even juicer - in Part 2 of the interview, we touch on the future of privacy rights, the 4th Amendment, and the 3rd Party Doctrine in the digital age, more on judicial opinion writing, his views on the death penalty, and dinner with the Ginsburgs and the Scalias. And as if that weren't enough, Judge Kozinski himself answers your listener questions.

As always, thanks for listening, and keep it legal!

Jul 30, 2017

In this the 31st episode of The Law Is My Ass, with Sid away in Scotland, Joe and guest co-host Vernon C. Grigg III (who was also our guest in episode 24 on the topic of obstruction of justice) covered a ton of ground, including:

  • What's happening with the Travel Ban litigation? (Hint: nothing, more or less)
  • What's happening at the Supreme Court? (Hint: death penalty appeals)
  • As between MJ and OJ, who is the week's winner? (Hint: OJ)
  • Any new law suits against Trump? (Hint: Seriously? We can barely keep up with all the old ones!)
  • Anybody sue Apple lately? (Hint: The University of Wisconsin just got a HALF A BILLION DOLLAR award in a patent suit against Apple...)
  • Can Trump pardon himself? (Hint: reasonable minds may differ)
  • Is Trump going to fire Sessions and Mueller (Hint: seems like a bad idea)
  • Is the whole Trump family going to jail for "collusion"? (Hint: "collusion" is not a crime)
  • With the DOJ arguing that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians, are there legal prohibitions against such discrimination? (Hint: Probably)
  • All of which begs the question, what the heck does "begs the question" mean, and should lawyers say it? (Hint: not what you think, and it's up to them)

Listen in for your weekly dose of all things law - thank you as always for listening, and keep it legal!

***YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS NEXT WEEK'S EPISODE WITH OUR VERY SPECIAL GUEST: NINTH CIRCUIT JUDGE ALEX KOZINSKI ! ! !***

Jul 22, 2017

We have some some very exciting news about our next two episodes (Hint: we will be interviewing a sitting Ninth Circuit judge for the August 5 episode # 32!!!)

Once we get that out of the way, this week we cover the developments in the ongoing travel ban litigation that the mainstream press has hardly covered at all (both the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court issued important clarifying and procedural decisions last week). But unlike the rest of the media, we bring you up to speed! We also answer pressing questions like "Is it legal to make mouthwash on an antifreeze machine?" (Hint: unlikely); "Is Harley Davidson still going to buy me a new stove?" (Hint: no, Jeff Sessions let them off the hook); "Can the government seize my assets without proving I did anything wrong?" (Hint: Jeff Sessions thinks it's a great idea, but Justice Clarence Thomas is skeptical); can the President pardon himself? (Hint: most likely yes, but even that might not protect him and we'll explore that in depth next week with our guest co-host and former prosecutor Vernon Grigg!).

Then we have our FIFTH guest interview with Eric Schillinger about the substance and procedure of the Senate's efforts to repeal the ACA (aka "Obamacare") - and conclude that the proposals are getting wackier every day.

Finally a listener question that points out just how complicated it can be to destroy the government from the inside out.

Thanks for listening and keep it legal!

Jul 16, 2017

The administration is back to losing motions and filing appeals about its travel bans, the latest occurring one day before the precast. Sid and Joe bring you up to speed in their weekly "Travel Ban Litigation Update"  In the Random Legal News of the Week with Sid and Joe, your hosts talk about bar exams, skeevy law professors, skeevier judges. racist AirBnB hosts, litigious UBER drivers, more lawsuits against the President, and answer the question "Is laughing, alone, a criminal offense when you direct it at Jeff Sessions" (hint: apparently it is not).

But the star of this week's episode is intellectual property law expert Chris Holland, who talked about the ins and outs of pants, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, noncompetes, the "right of publicity," fair use, parody, and answered some fascinating questions like "Can a blogger annotate and repost home photos downloaded from the internet?" (Hint: maybe); can the Kardashians market TuPac t-shirts without TuPac's estate's permission? (Hint: almost certainly not); Can we trademark "The Law Is My Ass" (Hint: yes, but it still wouldn't be worth anything); how do you spell "incontestability" (Hint: we just did); can you drive a Lexis or do legal research in a Lexus (Hint: unlikely).

All that and listener questions - so tune in, and keep it legal!

Jul 8, 2017

In this the 28th Episode of The Law Is My Ass, Sid and Joe talk about a recent dissent from cert denial filed by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch that gives a pretty good sense of where they lie on gun rights. They debut a new theme song for the Random Legal News of the Week, in which they answer "does EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt want to poison your kids?" (Hint: quite possibly); "can you bilk investors *and* concertgoers out of millions of dollars to put on a bogus music festival and then drive your Maserati into the sunset?" (Hint: it would seem not); "do plaintiffs win all the time?" (Hint: emphatically no; and "isn't what Volkswagen did with their emissions cheating criminal?" (Hint: it sure looks that way).

Then they talk to podcast regular Eric Schillinger about the state of the Senate's efforts to repeal the ACA (aka Obamacare), who benefits, who loses, and why.

All that, and one of the best listener questions the podcast has ever had! Give it a listen, and keep it legal!

Jul 1, 2017

On this the 27th episode (!) "Independence" edition of The Law Is My Ass, Sid and Joe correct some of the deficiencies in news coverage about the Supreme Court's decision in the travel ban litigation, cover the other five Supreme Court cases decided this week, talk about religious freedom and the first amendment, and then . . . a terrific interview with U.C. Hastings Professor David Takacs about environmental law and regulation, with a good breakdown of the Paris Climate Accord and what it means that the US "pulled out." So, was this week's Supreme Court decision in the travel bad case a big win for the President? (Hint: no.) Is it legal for border agents to shoot kids standing on Mexican soil? (Hint: maybe not.) Can churches resurface their playgrounds using public funds? (Hint: apparently so.) Is Justice Gorsuch making friends at his new job? (Hint: perhaps two!) Is the Senate still trying to take your health care away? (Hint: probably, but tune in next week to be sure.) And can the Trump administration destroy the environment? (Hint: depends.)

All that and some great listener questions about extortion, Zillow, McMansions, and the doctrine of fair use. Check it out, and keep it legal! Happy fourth of July!

Jun 25, 2017

In this the 26th episode of The Law Is My Ass, Sid and Joe break down the week's TWELVE new Supreme Court decisions, have a great discussion (only moderately impacted by a lousy Skype signal) with podcast-regular Lena Zwarensteyn about pending judicial appointments, answer listener questions, and along the way provide valuable insight into pressing issues like "Does Sid have a comedy album available and is it charting?" (Hint: yes, and yes); "Can a Green Bay Packers fan sue the Chicago Bears organization for being jerks?" (Hint: probably not, and that alone is wronger than wrong!); "Did a progressive Asian-American rock band just accidentally help the Washington NFL franchise continue to insult native Americans?" (Hint: you know it!); and "Is there anything normal about how President Trump is appointing judges to their lifetime gigs on the bench?" (Hint: not much).

Check it out - we hope you enjoy it. And in all events: keep it legal!

Jun 18, 2017

For this the Silver Anniversary Edition of The Law Is My Ass (it's our 25th episode! How crazy is that?) - we welcome back to the podcast the always brilliant and funny Jamie Lee Williams of the Electronic Frontier Foundation to talk about whether the government can track all of your movements all the time (Hint: at the moment, probably). We also talk about how to protect your text messages and your computer browser history (hint: imperfectly).

Before we get to that we talk about the Ninth Circuit's landmark decision in the Hawai'i travel ban appeal - ruling against the Trump administration on STATUTORY and not constitutional grounds! We round up the week's five (count 'em - FIVE!) mostly unanimous Supreme Court decisions including Justice Ginsburg's equal protection opinion in Sessions v. Morales Santana.

And as if all that weren't enough, we talk about new suits against the Trump administration, good news for DACA dreamers bad news for your Christmas plans in Havana, good news for high powered criminal defense attorneys in Washington DC; this morning's mixed news for Bill Cosby; the crime of encouraging suicide; and the Philando Castile verdict.

Jun 10, 2017

In a heavy news week, we had six (count 'em: SIX) newsworthy actions by the Supreme Court, drug criminals, criminal attorneys, attorneys who represent criminals, attorneys who become nuns, boyfriends who kill ex-girlfriends and frame junk yard owners for their crimes only to have it all made into a Netflix documentary, and as if that weren't all enough ...

We also have a fabulous interview with former prosecutor Vernon Grigg who helps us answer the questions on everybody's mind: has the President obstructed justice (Hint: probably not yet, provably speaking); is James Comey some kind of sneaky genius (hint: all signs point to yes); is James Comey a good employee (hint: probably not); do Senate hearings sometimes resemble scenes from the movie Fargo (hint: indubitably); and for the first time in months, NO TRAVEL BAN LITIGATION UPDATE! Because nothing happened.

Give it a listen, send your questions to lawmyass@gmail.com, and keep it legal! 

Jun 4, 2017

In this the twenty-third episode of The Law Is My Ass, Sid and Joe march through some of the more interesting legislation and litigation of the week, including a thorough discussion of all four of the week's mostly-almost-unanimous Supreme Court decisions. Then we have a great interview with Sachin Chheda of the Fair Elections Project to talk about partisan gerrymandering and the status of the Wisconsin gerrymandering suit now in front of the Supreme Court, in which they answer just how rigged do electoral districts have to be in order to be illegal (hint: 7%); would a stay tell us anything about the court's views on the merits (hint: probably not); and who will we blame for the Packers' shortcomings now that we don't have Olivia Munn to kick around anymore (hint: probably the fans). All that and a great listener question! Give it a listen, and keep it legal!

May 28, 2017

Sid and Joe review the week's three Supreme Court decisions (only one of which amounts to much),  the Fourth Circuit's 200-page decision holding that the Trump administration travel ban is unconstitutional and illegal, Joe interviews Supreme Court litigator Doug Geyser about last week's most significant Supreme Court case (Midland Funding v. Johnson), and the dubious bulk debt industry generally; beyond that, Sid and Joe answer your listener questions, including whether or not Justice Thomas has turned over a new leaf on race by ruling against North Carolina in this week's gerrymandering case (hint: probably not); whether Justice Gorsuch's desire for an oral argument in this week's summary affirmance of a campaign finance decision means that he hates all campaign finance laws (hint: probably not); and whether Mike Flynn's decision to take the Fifth and refuse to testify to congress about Russia means that the investigation is over (hint: not by a long shot).

Give it a listen, and keep it legal!

May 21, 2017

In today's 21st episode of The Law Is My Ass, Sid and Joe ask whether Anthony Weiner must now register as a sex offender, whether Donald Trump has obstructed justice, with Fiat is the new VW, and whether Robert Mueller has conflicts of interest. Then just for kicks we replay rock-star Supreme Court advocate Neal Katyal's argument before the Ninth Circuit last week over the constitutionality and legality of the Trump administration's travel ban - with copious interruptions and comments from the peanut gallery (aka, from Joe and Sid).

Check it out - and keep it legal!

May 13, 2017

For Sid's and Joe's TWENTIETH (!) episode, they eschew the guests to focus on the huge volume of important legal news from the last week, including: did Trump commit obstruction of justice? (Hint: maybe). Did Sessions revive the war on drugs? (Hint: looks that way). If I torrent porn on my home computer am I going to be sued? (Hint: possibly, but it's becoming perhaps less likely). If Trump is making tapes is he headed down the same road as Nixon? (Hint: too soon to say). Are the circuit courts going to get behind the Muslim ban? (Hint: odds are against it).

All that and exciting listener questions about Presidential Succession, and how civil cases are settled. Check it out and keep it legal!

May 6, 2017

We had four (count 'em - FOUR!) listener questions this week [thank everybody!] - but the real highlight of Episode 19 is the third (THIRD!) visit to the podcast by benefits expert Eric Schillinger to talk about the House's successful passage of the bill called the "AHCA" (aka TrumpCare) last week, what it does, what it doesn't do, and whether it's likely ever to become a law. All that, plus the Puerto Rico Bankruptcy, an update on new Supreme Court decisions, and the status of the 9th Circuit travel ban appeal.

Apr 30, 2017

Joe and Sid cover the legal news of the day - including the upcoming Ninth Circuit and Fourth Circuit oral arguments in the travel ban litigation appeals; the new ruling against President Trump's "sanctuary city" EO; recent Supreme Court cases; Justice Breyer's cell phone; and an exciting interview with cannabis law expert Katy Young! All that and listener questions too!

Apr 15, 2017

Today Civil Rights attorney Stan Davis returns for a conversation about whether United Airlines is liable to Dr. David Dao for the violent way that the Doctor was deplaned in Chicago last Sunday. Stan, Joe, and Sid also talk about education policy, beef jerky, bond fraud, the patent troll that sued the EFF, the state of Hawai'i's  bid to have the Ninth Circuit hear the travel ban appeal en banc, and a listener question about Donald Trump's tax returns.

Join us for this exciting episode of The Law Is My Ass - and keep it legal!

Apr 8, 2017

This week Mike Pence got a smack down from the US District Court, the Ninth Circuit scheduled a hearing on the administration's appeal of the Hawai'i injunction against the travel ban, Sid dropped an F-bomb, and we had two in depth interviews:

  • Eric Schillinger was live again to talk about the substance and the mechanics of the AHCA (aka "Trump Care"), and the next legislative steps we might expect; and
  • Lena Zwarensteyn joined Joe once again to debrief the activities last week in the Senate that led to the final approval of President Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court (he's a Justice now, if you hadn't heard).

All that and more legal news and listener question(s). Check it out and keep it legal!

Apr 2, 2017

This week Sid and Joe give their regular weekly update on the

  • travel ban litigation (hint - it's back at the Ninth Circuit!);
  • the week's biggest Supreme Court decisions;
  • developments in the Trump University fraud class action settlement;
  • Congress's interesting decision to eliminate all privacy protections for internet browsing data;
  • and Michael Flynn's oddly public request for immunity in exchange for his testimony

And is if all that weren't enough, featured guest expert, Bankruptcy specialist Greg Rougeau talks Sid and Joe through Chapters 7, 9, 11 and 13 of the Bankruptcy code, and explains the apocryphal tale of "The Red Bench."

All that and a shout out to our first official sponsor, Green Light Jerky!

Don't miss it! And keep it Legal!

Mar 25, 2017

This week Sid and Joe update you on the ongoing travel ban litigation; congressional efforts to allow internet providers to buy, sell, and share all your internet usage data (one wonders whether US Senators ever look at porn on the internet . . .); the Supreme Court's new IDEA ruling (reversing an opinion of 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch), and on the eve of the Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court confirmation vote (or filibuster, as the case may be) we interview Lena Zwarensteyn of the American Constitutional Society in Washington DC about judicial nominations and confirmations; and we tackle listener questions about treason, contempt, and comedy. 

All that and more on this, the 14th episode of The Law Is My Ass. Keep it Legal!

Mar 18, 2017

It's Lucky 13 at The Law Is My Ass! Sid is back from spring break for this long but edifying romp through the mechanics of class action litigation. Along the way, there's a legislative alert (H.R. 895 - please oppose it!), an update on the travel ban litigation in Maryland, Hawai'i, Washington, the Ninth Circuit, and beyond, and Joe and Sid point out a little tidbit from President Trump's 2005 tax return that Rachel Maddow seems to have missed.

Give it a listen - and keep it legal!

Mar 12, 2017

Special guest cohost, San Francisco comedy legend (according to W. Kamau Bell!) Nato Green joined Joe to engage guest attorney Michael Nelson in a deep dive into the policy, practice, politics and law of unions and labor organizing. Along the way, they also drank some bourbon, discussed the new Trump administration travel policy, spontaneously combusting lawyer trousers, recommended reading for those interested in labor history, and Nato dropped an F-bomb (hence the "explicit" rating this week).

All that and interesting listener questions about jerky sponsorship, Korean impeachment, and gays in the workplace.

Also, after we stopped recording, Nato recommended another book - it's called Strike for America by Micah Uetricht. We'd send you to Amazon, but their labor practices aren't all that great . . .

Mar 4, 2017

Today Joe and his special guest co-host Will Maguire talk about Sid's upcoming shows in Brooklyn, the Supreme Court's new gerrymandering decision out of Virginia, and the Honorable Jeff Sessions makes an appearance at both the top and the bottom of the episode. But the star of today's episode is Certified Family Law Specialist Raquel Sefton, who shared a lot of insight into all aspects of family law (prenuptial agreements, divorce, custody, community property, "common law marriage" - and more!).

Joe and Will also answer listener questions including "can my boss search my cell phone" and discuss the 1876 impeachment of President Grant's War Secretary William Kelknap.

Listen up and keep it legal.

Feb 26, 2017

Today, Sid and Joe talk to ERISA litigation and disability insurance expert Michael Bartolic about the protections and shortcomings of the law that regulates all our employee benefits (retirement/pension, health, disability insurance, life insurance): The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended.

Sid and Joe also talk about the Fourth Circuit's recent gun control decision holding that the Second Amendment does not cover AR-15 rifles; and new Supreme Court decisions about race-based recidivism and ineffective assistance of counsel, and the procedures that should have applied to a lawsuit over a schools exclusion of a disabled student's service dog. 

As if that weren't enough, the also answer listener questions! It's a great episode - listen up, and keep it legal!

Feb 19, 2017

Today, Sid and Joe talk to immigration lawyer Veronica Guinto about the so-called "Muslim Ban" and all the litigation surrounding it - suits in New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, Washington, Hawaii, and in front of the Ninth Circuit: what did they all find, where do they all stand, and what happens now that the administration says it's going to issue a superseding order?

Also, Sid and Joe answer the questions "is the Ninth Circuit the most reversed circuit in the country?" (hint: the answer is "no"); "may I renounce my US citizenship?" (hint: the answer is yes); and based on what rule was Mitch McConnell picking on Senator Warren? 

It's a great episode - and a long one! We hope you enjoy it. Keep it legal!

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