Web week

The Lawyer‘s Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week’s blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@thelawyer.com.

Windy thriller
Google’s senior copyright counsel William Patry has been busy with his blog williampatry.blogspot.com, where he has been following the interesting copyright case of the ‘Fartman’ doll.

Patry congratulates Judge Diane Wood on her entertaining judgment: “It is not the idea of a farting, crude man that is protected but this particular embodiment of that concept. Novelty could have created another plush doll of a middle-aged farting man that would look nothing like Fred.

“He could, for example, have a blond mullet and wear flannel, have a nose that is drawn on rather than protruding substantially from the rest of the head, be standing rather than ensconced in an armchair, and be wearing shorts rather than blue pants.”

CC’s tee hees
Of course, readers of www.thelawyer.com are far above such scatological humour. A senior partner making a clown of himself in public, however, and they jump at the story.

An article on www.the lawyer.com that appeared online late on 16 March (aka Red Nose Day) more than doubled the amount of hits that any other web story received last week. The subject matter? “Clifford Chance senior partner wears red nose.”

We even had photographic evidence of Stuart Popham wholeheartedly embracing Comic Relief, together with a run-down of some of the crrrraazy antics at Canary Wharf, all in the name of charidee: “Perhaps the prize for the finest collective effort goes to Clifford Chance. Not only did the firm display posters of global managing partner David Childs, senior partner Stuart Popham and London managing partner Jeremy Sandelson in red noses, it also organised a plethora of efforts including sit-up competitions, a pool competition and a dress-down day.

“Moreover, the firm did not overlook tomorrow’s headline event of St Patrick’s Day. The firm has been serving Guinness for the past two days.”

Sadly, we could not find a photo of Popham post-celebration in one of those green Guinness-pint hats with his own, natural red nose; although if anyone can provide us with one, we promise it will get published.

Texas cold ’em
Don’t mess with Texas, y’all. But you can have a joke at the Lone Star State’s justice in motion with a surprisingly candid and often amusing blawg by district court judges Gil Jones and Dan Mills (www.dcourt.org/forum/blog/1).

Judge Jones writes on www.dcourt.org/forum/node/15: “This jury is the most animated I’ve encountered. As is my custom, I’ll tease with them some to loosen them up from the arduous task they face, but perhaps I’ve overdone it with this bunch. At about 2pm the following notes were handed to the bailiff, and thence to me, each from a different juror:
– We respectfully request that the court provide us with ice-cream on our next break in order to help wake us up. (The testimony was indeed a bit dry)
– May I request an ice-cream break!?#Everyone screams for ice-cream (complete with a drawing of an ice cream cone).
– Is it possible for the court to provide an ice-cream break?

“Wishing to keep the jury both awake and happy, I immediately dispatched the district clerk, with my credit card in hand (scary, now that I reflect upon that!), to the grocery store for ice-cream and cones.

“A break soon became appropriate whereupon I gave a rather stern instruction for the jury to step down and remain in the jury room. They quickly filed out with puzzled looks and the attorneys couldn’t get to the bench quickly enough, concern written all over their faces, assuming some sort of misconduct had occurred.

“No sooner had I explained the circumstance to them than the laughter was heard from the jury room as the ice-cream was brought into them. Unfortunately, we had to return to the less-than-scintillating testimony. And there we remain.”

Why can’t jury duty this side of the Pond be more like that?