are you a lawyer? probably not.

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on March 21, 2009

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grab bag

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on March 7, 2009

A few quick things.

(1)  Wheels up! This week, Lori and I are traveling to Matamoros, Mexico.  Once there, Lori will start working and I’ll do various spring break-ish things (for a law student, this means mostly reading, writing, and outlining punctuated with random fun things).  Maybe we’ll cook out!  Maybe we’ll visit Playa Bagdad!  Maybe we’ll go to the Wal-Mart, either on the Mexico OR the US side!  Maybe I’ll make embarassing mistakes speaking Spanish!  So many spring break options!

Anyway, we’ll post pictures and stuff when we get a chance.

(2) Bernie Madoff and the CVRA. Looks like Bernie Madoff will be making a plea agreement.  See this article from the New York Law Journal.  Not surprisingly, Madoff’s victims do not like this.  See this victim-centered article at ABC News.  Why does what the victims think matter?  Because they have rights under the Crime Victims Rights Act, 18 USC 3771.

I’ll blog more in-depth about this as it develops, but when Madoff pleads guilty things are going to get messy.  If you’re interested, read In Re: Stewart, 552 F.3d 1285, about 112 homeowners who were defrauded into paying extra brokers fees on their mortgages (or something along those lines).  The petition stated that “while [the defendant] was enjoying the high life on his ill-gotten gains, the borrowers were all paying interest on the money financing it.”  Sound familiar?

The Eleventh Circuit held that “under the plain language of the [CVRA], a party may qualify as a victim, even though [he] may not have been the target of the crime, as long as [he] suffers harm as a result of the crime’s commission.”  This means that anyone harmed by a financial crime is entitled to confer with the prosecution about the charges and its plea agreements, to obtain restitution damages, and to make a statement at the sentencing hearing.  The prosecution doesn’t have to get the approval of the crime victims — in other words, the victims aren’t made into bosses of the prosecution — but the prosecution does have to confer with the victims and let them speak at the sentencing hearing.  Keep in mind there are thousands of victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and they’re all pissed.

Madoff’s investors are not happy to hear the he may cut a deal. 92-year old Zsa Zsa Gabor is one of them. Her husband Prince Frederick Von Anhalt said the couple lost their $10 million life savings to Madoff.

“It’s not enough” for Madoff to just plead guilty and go to jail, Von Anhalt told ABC News. “That’s what he wants, he wants to go to jail, his life is over. He wants to protect his family, his wife, his children.” Von Anhalt also wants to see Madoff’s wife, Ruth, and his sons arrested and put in jail. “What nerve she has, to say that she wants to keep all that money. That’s our money! Screw her!”

(3) US citizen beheaded in Tijuana. The LA Times has the story here.  The guy who was beheaded, dismembered and mutilated was, to put it politely, a scumbag — but still, he was an American scumbag.

Harrison had several drug-related convictions in the United States and was suspected of drug trafficking in Mexico, Baja California Assistant Atty. General Rafael Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said Harrison had been living in the Tijuana area since his release from a U.S. prison six months ago. He owned a pizzeria in Tijuana, from which he was abducted, Gonzalez said.

Authorities who searched Harrison’s business found four weapons, including a .38-caliber handgun.

(4) Guess what vocab word will now be mandatory at FSI. I’m sure everyone’s read about the red button incident between Secretary Clinton and Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in greeting Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, presented him with a red plastic button emblazoned with the English word “reset” and the Russian word “peregruzka.”

The gift was a play on Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s call in Munich last month for the two countries to “press the reset button” on their relationship.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word,” Mrs. Clinton said, handing the button to Mr. Lavrov. “Do you think we got it?”

“You got it wrong,” he replied, explaining that the Americans had come up with the Russian word for overcharged.


Mr. Lavrov said he hoped the linguistic miscue would “contribute to the advancement of Russian in the United States and English in Russia.”

Is there any advancement of Russian in the US?  I’m not sure I even know anyone who’s studied Russian, let alone speaks it.  I think I’ve heard more spoken Russian playing Call of Duty on my Playstation than in real life.  The fact is, foreign languages aren’t a big priority in US education. Many American speak Spanish, sure, but it’s because they either live in a border state and actually use it or studied abroad in Valencia and want to rub it in your face.  What hope does Russian have?  I mean, Russian has a freaky different alphabet and its country is super-cold.  What’s my motivation to learn it?

Having exhausted electrical metaphors, Mr. Lavrov then remarked that it was fortunate the United States and Russia were pushing a reset button instead of another red button that would start a war.

I know Staples uses a red button in its commercials, but couldn’t someone have foreseen that a red button might be the wrong symbol to use?  Don’t they sell buttons in other colors?  Like, a button with an eagle on it or something?

State Department officials professed not to know who was responsible for the error. But Mrs. Clinton was accompanied by several diplomats and White House officials who had lived in Russia and speak Russian — any of whom conceivably could have caught it.

Key word: conceivably.  The question is not how many diplomats and White House officials saw that button, it’s how many foreign nationals saw that button.  To an FSO, Russian is hard.  To Vlad in the consular bullpen, Russian is easy because he speaks it.  No one thought to ask him?

It’s not like this little mistake portends something awful — Obama and Clinton are running our diplomacy into the ground!  Buy jugs of water and shotguns for the coming apocolypse!  The more likley explanation is that this was a rushed last-minute idea and everyone at the US Mission to the European Office of the UN was too busy with more important matters, like the Secretary of State visiting, to worry about a silly button.

(My hope is that this will become a contest — who can design the most ironically appropriate diplomatic gift?  Like, presenting the Prime Minister of Canada with US-made imitation maple syrup or the President of China an iPod or the Prime Minister of Japan a gigantic fighting robot that can fly through space and combine with other fighting robots to make one super-gigantic fighting mega-robot.  Awkward!)


Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on March 5, 2009

I’m excited to announce that my article–“Resetting the Doomsday Clock: Is it constitutional for laches to bar copyright infringement claims within the statute of limitations?”–will be published in the Spring 2009 volume of the Buffalo Intellectual Property Law Journal.

Early reviews say the plot and characters are good, but the action sequences really make the article stand out. It’s a thrilling read from beginning to end, perfect for a long plane ride or to read while commuting.  Pick up your copy today!