Midweek Recess: Madonna and the Seventh Inning Snooze

Welcome to Law.com’s Midweek Recess, in which we round up some tasty tidbits from the week’s legal news cycle. We’ll be here every Wednesday, so grab a cup of coffee and take a little break. It’s all downhill to the weekend from here.

Bad (Blogging) Habit - Among the vast and varied responses to the U.S. Supreme Court’s blockbuster Hobby Lobby ruling last week came a missive from everyone’s favorite blogging federal judge, Richard Kopf of the District of Nebraska. He of “dirty old man” fame weighed in on the ruling on his blog, Hercules and the Umpire, opining that “to the average person” the decision “looks stupid and smells worse.”

“The decision looks misogynistic because the majority were all men,” he continued. “It looks partisan because all were appointed by a Republican. The decision looks religiously motivated because each member of the majority belongs to the Catholic church, and that religious organization is opposed to contraception.” The simple solution, Kopf concluded, is that the high court should just quit mucking about in hot button issues, because it gets people all riled up and generally undermines public perceptions of the federal judiciary.

In conclusion, he suggested that: “As the kids say … it is time for the court to stfu.” In case the justices weren’t clued into that particular profane piece of vernacular, Kopf helpfully linked to the Urban Dictionary definition of the phrase. (Feel free to click if you’re also in the dark.)

Unsurprisingly, the post didn’t go unnoticed by the media, and the judge appears to be reconsidering (yet again), his unconventional blogging style. In a follow-up post titled “Please Stop,” Kopf printed a letter from a lawyer who gently suggested that Hercules and the Umpire may have run its course. The lawyer suggested that controversial decisions from the Supreme Court are less damaging to the reputation of the judiciary than: “A federal trial judge, in a public forum, repeatedly using vulgarity including serial exercise of the f-word, apparently disclosing a fondness for looking up the skirts and down the blouses of female attorneys who appear before him, telling Congress to “go to hell,” and urging the SCOTUS to ‘stfu.’”

Kopf wrote that he was giving the letter some “careful consideration,” and said he will cool it a bit on the blogging while he makes a decision as to whether he’ll continue posting. He temporarily shut down the blog at the beginning of the year and then quickly resurrected it—as evidenced by the legend at the top of the site, which reads: “This blog was deader than Generalissimo Franco – but now has risen again.”

So, basically, to the idea that Hercules and the Umpire is going anywhere, we say: ROFL.

Material Girl, Real(ish) World - Want to get out of jury duty? No problem! Show up late, with an entourage in tow; attract a crowd of cell-phone toting onlookers; and get ushered into a private room and released early so that your presence doesn’t cause “further distraction for the courthouse.”

Sound far-fetched? Fair enough. What works for Madonna just doesn’t work for the rest of us The legendary pop diva showed up to do her civic duty at a Manhattan courthouse on Monday, arriving with two bodyguards and two assistants and wearing a fairly businesslike wide-legged black pantsuit—plus oversized sunglasses, natch.

Her Madgesty waited in a clerk’s office instead of in the general jury assembly room with the plebes other prospective jurors, and was dismissed when court officials decided they had “ample jurors” and wouldn’t need her on a panel.

“She got credit for her service, and we’re delighted she came,” said a court spokesman. As for Madonna, she proclaimed that she was ” proud to do my job,” as she left the courthouse.

So, basically, everyone was happy and excited—except the people who had to stay and, you know, actually serve.

Seventh Inning Snooze - Here’s the scenario: Man attends major league baseball game. Man falls asleep in his seat. Man ends up on television. Man … files lawsuit? Andrew Rector made headlines this week for bringing a defamation suit over footage of his mid-game nap, which took place and was featured on television during an April New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game. Who is he suing for the crime of using his nap as entertainment? Why, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, ESPN New York, ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk — oh, and the Yankees. For $10 million.

Rector does not dispute the fact that he caught some Zs during the game, but says that upon being made aware of the sleeping man in the audience, broadcasters “unleashed [an] avalanche of disparaging words” about him, including “but not limited to ‘stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid’.” Among the alleged insults that Rector cites in his complaint: “Plaintiff is confused individual that neither understands nor knows anything about history and the meaning of rivalry between Red Sox and New York Yankee.”[sic]

OK. As baseball fans, we do understand that being accused of not understanding the import of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry could inflict some emotional distress. The shame of it! Except it looks like no one said anything of the sort. ESPN responded that the statements were “clearly not said in our telecast.” [You can check out the video here. We certainly didn't hear them.]

As to the broadcast of the nap, Rector argues it was not a matter of legitimate public concern. This is also theoretically a valid argument—after all, who cares when this dude naps?—but if he was that concerned about the invasion of his privacy, then why did he sue ESPN and the MLB, ensuring that everyone and their mom would see the offending clip, hmmm?

As far as we’re concerned, you assume certain risks when you go to a baseball game, and while getting hit by a flying hot dog probably isn’t one of them, getting on TV for doing something silly like doing a weird dance, dressing up your baby in a funny costume or falling asleep during the middle of a Yankees/Red Sox showdown is just fair game.

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