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NEW YORK — The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles wants an injunction and unspecified damages against the California Law Clinic. Given that it has provided free legal services to poor people since 1929, the foundation said, it has established for “Legal Aid” a secondary meaning “as referring to legal services for the poor provided by a nonprofit organization.” Last year, it coordinated thousands of donated hours by more than 200 lawyers. Then along comes the clinic with what the foundation asserts is a staff composed of nonlawyers, phone lines with advertised names like “Legal Aid Hotline” and a for-profit ethic. The foundation’s trademark infringement suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, doesn’t quite use the phrase fly-by-night. But it comes close. A day after the Dec. 2 filing, we called a couple of California Law Clinic’s listed phone numbers. The same man answered each time and said he knew nothing about how to reach anyone from the clinic. The numbers have been taken over by Acme Management Company, the anonymous receptionist added. GRIM JUSTICES Singer-turned-printmaker Debora Iyall is auctioning off a linocut of the Supreme Court. It isn’t clear just which opinions she dislikes, but it’s safe to guess she’s not happy with the justices. Her Dantesque print has a border of skulls and bombs, topped with an Apache helicopter. Looking bored, robed judges wander on the shore of a river that’s washing up skeletons. There’s a pile of money. Everything is purple and blue. Iyall created the print for a fund-raiser by People for the American Way. It joined 160 other pieces, including a script for Anger Management signed by Jack Nicholson, that went on the cyberblock at eBay. The auction ran past our press time, but within the first couple of days, three bids for the print had raised the ante from $75 to $103. That beats the bidding for another Iyall product that was simultaneously on eBay: a sealed CD of the album “Instincts,” which her now-extinct New Wave group Romeo Void put out in the early 1980s. “She is every bit as idealistic and every bit as committed to progressive values as she was back in that day,” said a press release from the organization. “One of People For the American Way’s most critical tasks [is] keeping the federal judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, a place where Justice reigns supreme over narrow corporate interests and partisan politics.” DISPARITY A South Texas Law Review study reports that winning personal injury plaintiffs get reversed by state intermediate appellate courts 45 percent of the time compared with 18 percent for winning defendants. In consumer fraud cases, 51 percent of winning plaintiffs lose; 23 percent of defendants. Co-author Lynne Liberato, an ex-State Bar of Texas president, calls the outcome “a reflection in part” of the conservative Republicans who dominate the courts. NAMING NAMES The Greater L.A. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists gave this year’s Freedom of Information Award to UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. It’s hard to imagine a freer use of information than Volokh came up with in an amicus brief he filed in U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Authors’ Guild and literati who include Scott Turow, Elmore Leonard and Michael Crichton. They argue that the Missouri Supreme Court was wrong when it weighed “commercial value” against “artistic value” and found that Todd MacFarlane shouldn’t have named a comic book character after hockey player-plaintiff Tony Twist. Using famous people’s names as raw material is a legitimate artistic device, Volokh said, citing Paul Simon’s reference to Joe DiMaggio in “Mrs. Robinson.” Besides, he informs the justices, Crichton is “likely one of the very few amici to appear before the court who has had a dinosaur named after him, Bienosaurus crichtoni.” Gail Diane Cox is a reporter for The National Law Journal , a Recorder affiliate based in New York.

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