Thursday, December 30, 2004

"End Story-- 2004"

Local radio station WKRQ-FM, in promoting the coming weekend, has come up with the phrase "Close the door on 2004," and we shall.

Before closing, though, we thought we'd follow another tradition and skim back over the year. ABCnews noted "The Year in Infamous Criminal Cases" this morning. FindLaw detailed "The Most Important Legal Developments of 2004," and CourtTV came up with the "20 Wackiest Courthouse moments."

Have a safe weekend.

National EMT Rules

Yesterday no less than some 105 publications carried stories about emergency response crews being leary about a set of rules being proposed nationwide. Most of these mentioned that commented were still being received through January 2005... but failed to mention where they were to be sent.

For anyone who's interested in EMTs, "first responders," or emergency service, the site to visit is that posted by the National Association of State EMS Directors @ Instructions for submitting comments are contained in the posted draft.

IRS Issues Final 401(k) Rules

The Internal Reveneue Service released final regulations governing 401(k) plans Tuesday.

"The existing regulations covering these plans were last updated in 1994," the Treasury Department's press release states. "Since then, there have been significant statutory changes." The final regulations are posted online in the Federal Register (Dec. 29, 2004 Vol.69 No.249 Pp.78144)

Minnesota can't regulate internet calls

The 8th. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld a lower court decision that a Minnesota utility could not regulate internet calls in the same manner that it does regular telephone service. (Vonage Holdings Corp. v. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission)

The FCC voted 5-0 on Nov. 9th. for a petition by Vonage asking that its product be declared an interstate service. Further information there is available through Tech Law Journal.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court in a surprise move said it would hear a key telecom case (FCC v. Brand X Internet Services), which could decide whether broadband cable should be regulated as an unregulated information service, or as a telephone-like telecommunications service that can be required to make its lines available to competitors.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Israeli mobile phone restrictions

Israel's Communication Ministry announced last Sunday that it was amending licenses for mobile phone operators to restrict access of pornography only to adults having a code identifying them as adults.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Internet Security

A recent survey of computer security professionals revealled that while many believe compliance with increased government regulations has cut into their ability to secure computers networks, those networks are safer as a result. Still, almost one in five said they would be willing to leave their network unprotected on an around-the-clock basis, preferring to accept the risk to their network and the information contained in them.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Gov. Taft Names Hamilton County Judges

The Cincinnati Business Courier noted that Governor Taft has announced judicial appointments for the Hamilton County Municipal and Common Pleas Courts. The appointments come in the wake of the movement of two judges, Judge Ralph "Ted" Winkler of the Municipal Court and Judge Ralph Winkler of the Common Pleas court.

Judge Ralph "Ted" Winkler is moving from the Hamilton County Municipal Court to the Hamilton County Common Pleas court. His replacement, appointed by Governor Taft, is Judge Alex Triantafilou. Judge Triantafilou is a former assistant prosecutor and administrator of the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts office.

Judge Ralph Winkler is retiring from the Ohio State First District Court of Appeals, and is being replaced by Judge Sylvia Hendon, of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. Governort Taft appointed Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Karla Grady to replace Judge Hendon on the Juvenile Court. (see the Cincinnati Enquirer Local News Briefs from December 22, 2004).

Ohio Lawyers Weekly closes

Ohio Lawyers Weekly, which was established in 1997 and was,"the only source of timely coverage of all 12 Ohio Court of Appeals districts-- including thousands of decisions not reported in the OSBA Report," has announced it is suspending publication of both the paper and website as of today.

Ohio a "Point of Light", "Zany" in Two Reports on Courts and the Legal System

A Point of Light among Hellholes

Courts in Illinois, Texas, California, and West Virginia, among others, were named the 9 "Judicial Hellholes" of 2004 by the American Tort Reform Association. Ohio, on the other hand, was given the label of "point of light" for recent statutory changes establishing minimum medical requirements in asbestos litigation. (House Bill 292, 125th Legislature). The Ohio Legislature has other tort reform, in the text of amended Senate Bill 80, under consideration. S.B. 80 places limits on court discretion to award punitives outside the scope of statutory guidelines. The Legislature has passed or considered a number of other tort reform bills during the current session.

Zany for Rifle Range and Other Immunity Laws

The Center for Justice & Democracy issued its Zany Immunity Laws, in which Ohio gets a few mentions in relation to immunity for injuries occurring at your horse riding lessons and or noise generated by shooting ranges.

Thanks to for another interesting piece!

Possible Growth in Workers Comp Services for Lawyers

Local lawyers - and members of the Cincinnati Law Library Association! - were interviewed in a recent article in the Cincinnati Business Courier on the Ohio Supreme Court ruling in Cleveland Bar Ass'n v. CompManagement, Inc. (Webcite: 2004-Ohio-6506; Dec. 15, 2004). The Court held that non-lawyers appearing before the Industrial Commission and the Bureau of Workers' Compensation are not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, so long as they conform to the rules set out in Industrial Commission Resolution R04-1-01.

The lawyers interviewed believe that the decision, although technically a "win" for the non-lawyer group representing participants in hearings, will lead to an increase in workers' compensation representation by lawyers, and at least one firm indicated they'd be adding an attorney to deal with the expected increase.

"Do-not-call" compliance

An article in yesterday's Enquirer reminded us that starting Jan. 1st. telemarketers are going to have to be checking their contact lists against the national do-not-call registry every 31 days, or face possible fines of up to $11,000.
The registry, established in October 2003, has more than 69 million telephone numbers, according to the article.

Phone numbers can be registered, or complaints filed at or by calling (888) 382-1222. Both cell and home phones can be listed with the registry

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


The European Union court Wednesday ruled against Microsoft Corporation, ordering that it had to "immediately divulge some trade secrets to competitors and produce a Windows operating system free of the program that plays music and video," according to a MSNBC news report.
Internet News posted a second article, having a link to the ruling.

OMB Uniform Requirements for Agency Websites

The President's Office of Management & Budget in a Dec. 17th. memorandum for "the heads of executive departments & agencies" carried a subject line for policies for federal agency public websites.

"The efficient, effective, and appropriately consistent use of Federal agency public websites," the memo states, "is important to promote a more citizen-centered government"

DOL Announces Changes in Federal Labor Rules

The U.S. Dept. of Labor last week announced significant new revisions in its Fair Labor Standards Act child labor rules. The new regulations, taking effect on Feb. 15, 2005, make changes to occupations & work activities the DOL deems too hazardous for children.
An overview of "selected state child labor law standards" is available on DOL's website.

DOL also announced a proposal that would implement Wage Determinations Online, "replacing the current manual & paper-intensive processes with an Internet-based system."

Ham. Co. Clerk removes traffic tickets from website

Citing concerns of hacking and identity theft, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann Tuesday removed images of traffic tickets from the Clerk's website.

The Clerk's website is reported one of the most comprehensive in Ohio.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

U.S. lags behind world in wireless use

A article this morning relates that "an estimated 57% of the U.S. population chats on wireless phones-- not much greater than the percentage in much poorer countries like Jamacia, where 54% of the people have mobile phones, according to the International Telecommunications Union. By comparison, in Hong Kong there are 105.75 mobile subscribers for every 100; in Taiwan, there are 110."

The article also noted that "wireless companies were the No.2 sector for complaints to Better Business Bureaus in 2003, trailing only car dealers, and second-lowest in customer satisfaction according to the University of Michigan's index, second only to cable companies."

Monday, December 20, 2004

IRS Ethic Standards

The Internal Revenue Service issued stricter ethical standards for lawyers, accountants, and other professionals giving tax advice last Friday.

In an article in this morning's Court Index, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson is quoted as saying, "These new standards send a strong message to tax professionals considering selling a questionable product to clients. The new provisions give us more tools to battle abusive tax avoidance transactions and rein in practioners who disregard their ethical obligations.

We're on a roll with spam holdings

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Friday awarded internet service provider Robert Kramer $1.08 billion in what's believed to be the largest judgment to date against spammers. Articles on CNN and on the Clinton Herald's site.

A copy of the court's default judgment is posted on our resource page.

Friday, December 17, 2004

AG Report on Allen/Collins Affair

The Ohio Attorney General, Jim Petro, issued his report on the investigation the AG's office did at the request of the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office. The report is a 55 page document, including a 16 page directory of exhibits that were included in the "9 large binders" the AG's office provided to the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners. It's interesting reading, and a bit hard to find as it remained on the "press" side of the shop rather than in amongst the AG's opinions.

E-mail Guidelines

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday issued notice of final regulations facilitating the determination of whether an e-mail message has a commercial primary purpose and is subject to the provisions of the CAN-Spam Act.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

"Med-Mal" Courts

An Ohio Lawyers Weekly article (subscription required) says "for those pushing for tort reform in Ohio, it looks like juries have already done the job."

1999, the article says, "could probably be the poster child for tort reform when jurors in 19 cases returned million-plus verdicts for a total of $128 million.... In 2003, only 10 plaintiff attorneys reported verdicts exceeding $1 million, and a total take of $61 million amounted to 55% free fall from 2002 when juries turned in 20 verdicts that topped $1 million and, all tolled, amounted to $111.13 million."

Medical Malpractice & wrongful death cases dominated the list.

An article on Medical News Today last Sunday reported that "70% of Maryland's OB/GYNs have been sued at least once for malpractice, with the average settlement exceeding $1 million."

And a Law.Com article (subscription also required) meanwhile foreshadows that "as debate over 'tort reform' continues across the country, several states are considering the creation of medical malpractice courts to help streamline what many view as costly, complex litigation...
"... Courts would likely be designed to eliminate juries and allow judges with medical expertise to decide cases, possibly with the help of court-appointed experts..
"While a medical malpractice court has yet to be created, the idea is being debated in at least four states-- Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania-- through either legislation, budget maneuvers, or proposed pilot programs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Blog, humbug

A article "nicely" footnoting this morning's post relates "Grinch-like virus writers spreading variant of the so-called 'Zafi' worm inside holiday greetings."

"E-mails with the misspelled attachment 'Happy Hollydays' arrived in inboxes Tuesday, with the subject line 'Merry Christmas.' A worm is in the attachment.


Montgomery County (Md.) Circuit Court Judge Durke Thompson last Thursday ruled that that state's "anti-spam" law-- the first to penalize senders of junk e-mail-- was unconstitutional because it endeavored to regulate commerce outside of Maryland's borders.

Ass.'t Attorney General Steve Sakamoto-Wengel, however, said he believes the statute should be upheld, and plaintiff Eric Menhart, a 3rd.-year law student at George Washington University, has indicated that he will appeal the case.

The federal government and as many as 36 states have "anti-spam" legislation on their books, and appeals courts in California and Washington have both overturned lower court rulings declaring those states' statutes unconstitutional on similar grounds.

Internet law is developing, Sakamoto-Wengel observed in a CNN article yesterday. "There are going to be conflicting rulings," he said. "But the ultimate hope is that they all get resolved and we have clear rules over what the states can & can't regulate."

There is a good article on the Baltimore Sun's online (registration required) from Nov. 28th. backgrounding Mr. Menhart and this particular case.

Internetweek is carrying a story this morning, too, predicting increased amounts of spam thru the holiday season.

Also, our two previous "spam" postings might be of interest.

Google libraries?

A article yesterday stated that "When students do research online these days, many educators worry, those are often about the only steps they take. If they can avoid a trip to the library at all, many gladly will."

CNN-Money carried an article telling of a Google project that will digitally scan the collections of seven libraries, including Harvard and Oxford, making them available online in the coming years.

This morning, there's an article on ABCnews about concerns that Google's "move to digitize research collections could spell the commercialization of libraries.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Supreme Court Monday

In its final sitting of 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down 11 decisions, but failed to consider anxiously awaited rulings on the constitutionality of the federal sentencing guidelines.
"At the summertime urging of the solicitor general," a article relates, "the Court had expedited the handling of United States v. Booker and United States v. Fanfan to remedy the 'disarray' of the federal sentencing system in the wake of last June's Blakely v. Washington ruling, which struck down a state sentencing law similar to the federal guidelines. The Court heard arguments in the cases on the first day of its term in October, and many had expected decisions by November, but adjournment now means that the earliest a ruling could now come is Jan. 11, 2005.

The Court did decide that police "have the authority to arrest suspects on charges that later fall apart as long as they had a second, valid reason for the detention." It also refused to clarify "when police could use deadly force to stop fleeing criminal suspects, but did say a lower court got it wrong in allowing a lawsuit against a police officer in the state of Washington who shot a burglary suspect."

Monday, December 13, 2004

Ohio Child Custody bill

The Domestic Relations Journal of Ohio has been carrying articles about Ohio's pending substitute Senate Bill 185, introduced on Jan. 1st, and intending to replace the current version of Ohio's law with the "Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)" approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1997. (See Vol. 16 Issue 6 Pp. 93)

UCCJEA "revises the law on child custody in the light of federal enactments & almost 30 years inconsistent case law," the article recites. It is intended to "provide clearer standards for which the states can exercise original jurisdiction over child custody determinations," and "a remedial process to enforce interstate child custody & visitation determinations." A 16-page PDF explanation by the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention is accessible online.

Kentucky,Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have all passed some version of the Act, while Indiana's SB 280 died in the House in the 2003-2004 session, according to the NCCUSL Web site's UCCJEA Code Citation list and bill tracking service.

The American Bar Association has posted a table outlining the "child custody criteria" of the states, and FindLaw provides a link to pertinent state statutes.

House Bill 185, and its bill analysis, are available thru the Ohio Legislative Service.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


"2004 was the year of the Netsky," Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley said in a report covering a period from December 2003 to last month. Sophos is an international provider of virus & other types of security software.
"Netsky-P," allegedly written by German teenager Sven Jaschan in March, tops a list of the top ten viruses & hoaxes reported to that company.

An article posted by Enterprise Security Today comments that "virus writers took off their gloves in 2004, with the more inventive hackers focusing more on developing sphisticated malware for financial gains... One recent and quite worrisome example being the lastest generation of phishing attacks: those waiting for users to visit real banking websites and then monitoring & secretly recording login processes." this morning reports that computer-security experts, including former government officials, are urging the Bush administration to devote more effort to strengthening defenses against hackers and other online threats," including giving the Homeland Security Department more authority to oversee cyber security.

Meanwhile, a second news article on reports, internet companies and law enforcement agaencies will be working more closely together to track down online scam artists involved in phishing.

Ohio and many other states are working on these situations. See my previous posting on spam laws and David's on Ohio's spam felony efforts.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Website Locating Harmful Chemicals in Communities

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), part of the National Institutes of Health, of the Department of Health & Human Services, has issued a press release announcing its new interactive website that shows-- geographically-- the amount & locations of toxic chemicals released into the environment in the U.S..

The site, called TOXMAP, is free and does not require any registration.

TOXMAP joins other web resources maintained by the group for consumer health information broadly (, research studies (, and older American concerns (

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


There are a couple of "blogging" & research articles out there this morning, for whoever's interested.

First is an clip linking a GAO report on "data mining" from that provides some interesting insight.

Law Technology News has a piece about building blogs, and there's an article on MSNBC news about "The Business of Blogging" which is pretty interesting.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Supreme Court/ broadband cable service

In a suprise move Friday, the Supreme Court announced it would review a key telecommunications case that could decide whether broadband service should be a largely unregulated information service or as a telephone-like telecommunications service that can be forced to make lines available to competitors.
The Court held its regular private conference Friday to discuss cases, but no announcement is expected at least until today. The case, FCC v. Brand X Internet Services, is from the 9th. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Article available on and FindLaw.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ohio Close to Spam Felony

The Business First of Columbus for 11/29 reports that AOL feels as though it's received "an early and important holiday gift" as House Bill 383 passed the Ohio Senate and makes its last journey before being signed by the Governor. In light of the recent felony convictions in Virginia (see or CNN for coverage) that involved AOL, you can imagine their pleasure at new legislation coming along.

Although Ohio has had anti-spam laws since 2002, when it passed Senate Bill 8 and created civil penalties for improper use of commercial, unsolicited e-mail, this is the first felony spam law for Ohio. See Chuck's previous posting on spam for links to current spam laws in other jurisdictions.

Police Chief Can Hold 2 Public Positions; 7 Point Test

The Ohio Attorney General has issued an opinion that outlines 7 "questions used to determine whether two public positions are compatible". The opinion is in response to a request from the Preble County Prosecuting Attorney, who requested an opinion as to whether the village police chief could simultaneously hold the position of child abuse investigator for the county department of job and family services. The Attorney general indicated that he could, subject to the physical ability to perform both jobs and that he doesn't investigate child abuse reports within the jurisdiction of the village.