Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Drugs in Breastmilk (and not the prescription kind, either)

Oregon resident Jennie Thomas was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to a felony charge of "Forcible Ingestion of a Controlled Substance" after breastfeeding her baby boy while high on methamphetamines. She was sentenced to the maximum penalty of a year and a half in prison.
Thomas now has the distinction of being the first Oregon mother convicted for the crime of putting her child in harm's way through one of the most intimate connections a mother and child can share.
Link: Meth mom gets maximum sentence in landmark case

Breastfeeding Mom Arrested

Headlines notwithstanding, the mom was arrested while breastfeeding, not for breastfeeding.
Colorado police are investigating a woman's complaint about how she was ordered to stop nursing her baby, thrown against her family car with her blouse still open, and taken away to jail in handcuffs in what turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.
Link: ABC News: Breastfeeding Mom Arrested in Mistaken Identity

Reflections on Blawg Review #20

I took the rest of last week off from any "serious" blogging, following the marathon blogging session that was Blawg Review #20.

It's wonderful when things like this happen to your blog. The only problem is, I don't know anyone in real life who blogs, other than personal journals. Or even reads blogs. There's no one to call. I didn't even tell my mother - it would take too long to explain. My blog received around 975 page views on Wednesday and 575 visits.

I'm working on a piece about anonymous blogging, and where I am going with The Mommy Blawg.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Because I like to track hurricanes


8/29/05 12:23pm ETA: About Last Night has an updated list of Katrina-bloggers (via Instapundit, who has frequent updates, photos, and links to things like webcams). And Ernie the Attorney is blogging from New Orleans.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Family Law Joke (sort of)

Just received this via email (please note, I am an SMU law school alumna):

Dallas, Texas

August 24, 2005

A seven-year-old boy was at the center of a courtroom drama today when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him.

The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law and regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree possible.

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her.

When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him.

After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the SMU Mustangs, whom the boy firmly believes are not capable of beating anyone.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Blawg Review #20

Reality TV Edition

I must admit to a slight addiction to reality tv. My addiction is self-limited, however, by the fact that 1) we don't have cable, and 2) we have only one tv, which I share with two preschoolers who would much rather watch Bob the Builder or Thomas the Tank Engine. Usually they win.

Nevertheless, I watch when I can. Now we all know that "reality television" is like "professional wrestling". Right? Willing suspension of disbelief, and all that. Granted. So let's have some fun.

Here's something interesting: Prospective reality show cast members campaigning to be cast via blogs.

Note: All of the television shows mentioned below are real, although a couple are still in the casting or production stage and have not yet aired. If you click on the header for each section, you will get a link to the official site, if available, or to a list of links. Thanks to RealityTVLinks for the link directory.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. First up, real lawyers.

The Law Firm

The show "The Law Firm" was cancelled by NBC last week and will move to Bravo. It had already come under scrutiny by lawyers such as Donald Caster of All Deliberate Speed (Is The Firm Already Over the Line), Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground (The Verdict is In), and LawGirl's On Firm Ground (More Blogging About the Law Firm). LawGirl writes:
It occurs to me that NBC may have pulled the plug, not just because of ratings but because of all the legal and ethical concerns that have been raised by critics of the show. Maybe they are concerned about liability.
Could be. Now on to some fake Reality TV (or is that redundant?).

The Apprentice

This week on the Apprentice, Robert L. Shaver from Patent Pending fills in for The Donald and sends two very young contestants out to start their own business in Introduce Your Kids to Entrepreneurship.

Speaking of Trump, recent reports are that a Chinese version of The Apprentice is in the works. How's that for Capitalism?

Norm Pattis of Crime & Federalism reports that a Connecticut church worker has been charged with felony "risk of injury to a minor" for leaving four children to sell cookies, as part of a church fundraiser, outside a grocery store on a day when the temperature rose to 97 degrees (Hot Crime).

A Baby Story

Mother in Law's Law Mom started law school this week. In Labor vs. Law School, she compares law school to childbirth. Having experienced both, I know what she means. Watch out; the Bar Exam is like transition.

Also blogging about the first year of law school is David Giacalone of f/k/a (1L of a decision):
Your decision to attend law school is very likely to be one of the riskiest you will ever make in and for your life. Law school will test your stamina and your sanity, leave you with a mountain of debt, and prepare you (some say rather poorly) for a profession that is universally disliked, and is rife with dissatisfied, self-loathing and depressed individuals, who feel helpless to redeem their lives and selfesteem.

From the law student author of Pelican Barbecue & Buckeye Beer comes this humorous look at Orientation: Briefing a Case.

Law student Abusygirl of the Busy Days blog compares first-year law student to Penguins in March of the one-Ls.

And Christine Hurt of Conglomerate discusses what she would have done differently in law school in Regrets, Anyone?

Battle of the Sexes

Well, not really. When I told him I was working on Blawg Review, my husband asked if anyone had mentioned the NCAA Mascot decision. So here it is, honey. NCAA Looks for Way Out on Mascots by Mark at Sports Biz. He writes:
The NCAA in a rare display of recognition that it has actually made a mistake has put in place a system of appeals for the "branded" universities with unacceptable Native-American mascots and nicknames. In a statement released on Friday, the NCAA said that "namesake" tribal support would be a critical factor in the review process.
And thanks to the hubby for taking over a greater share of the childrearing duties the last couple days. I'll remember this come football playoff season.

Canadian Idol

Walter Olson of Overlawyered mentions the Canadian bar's efforts to spruce up it's image in Canada: "truth and reconciliation" panel for lawyers' image? He writes: "All talk of 'truth commissions' aside, that last bit sure sounds like progress to us -- and a decided improvement over the circle-the-wagons reaction to criticism so often adopted by organized lawyerdom in the U.S."

The Cut

The Cut is a show hosted by Tommy Hilfiger, featuring a group of clothing designers who are sent out to perform design-related tasks, Apprentice style. The couple of times I've watched the show, one thing that has always been emphasized is "protecting the brand", even while ripping TH clothing up and reconstructing it. So here's a little branding blogging:

I wrote this week about FedEx Branding & Trademark Issues, including the FedEx Furniture website. So did Phosita's Melody Wirz (FedEx Fuming Over Boxy Furniture), Copyfight's Alan Wexelblat (Dumb Ideas Never Die), Bill Heinz's I/P Updates (FedEx Frowns on Free Furniture), and of course Stanford's Center for Internet and Society who are the counsel-apparent for the defendant.

Jason Sonenshein of Leave Us Alone! writes that Cleveland Councilman Joe Jones should have used FedEx or UPS, rather than placing a false disclosure statement in the mail, thereby turning a state misdemeanor into a federal felony (Lesson of Jones Plea: Use a Private Courier).

And Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq. writes How Attractive is Your Firm's Brand on the "Supply Side?":
Let's face it: With the first-year associate package apparently frozen at $125,000 plus bonus, with every firm claiming to be "friendly and collegial," and with the reality of 2,000+ hours/year requirements across the board, how is your firm really going to distinguish itself?
Evan Schaeffer discusses The Swingline 390 Heavy Duty Stapler which Infamy or Praise's Colin Samuels picks up on, pointing out that it is Professional Schizophrenia to be blogging about staplers while extolling the virtues of The Paperless Office, a la The Greatest American Lawyer and The Home Office Lawyer.

Fire Me, Please
(or, My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss)

George Lenard of George's Employment Blog discusses Work-life balance lesson from Willie Wonka and Charlie.
In the movie, Willy Wonka offers Charlie the ideal job -- ownership and live-in management of the Wonka Chocolate Factory. Innocently, Charlie asks if he can bring his family -- Mom, Dad, and four elderly grandparents. When Wonka essentially responds "of course not," Charlie promptly declines the offer.

For Love or Money
(or, Who Wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire)

Big news this week was a Texas jury's $ 253 million verdict against Merck for their drug Vioxx. Ted Frank of Point of Law writes:
You might've thought that you needed to marry a billionaire to get $24 million from a one-year marriage, but we now know that that a one-year marriage to a 59-year-old Wal-Mart produce manager with arteriosclerosis is worth $24 million in compensatory damages. Mrs. Ernst is apparently very lucky that her new husband died from a sudden arrhythmia rather than from a brain tumor or lightning strike, because I'll bet a year's salary that she didn't have a $24 million life insurance policy on him to compensate her in the event of a sudden death.
Lots of folks had something to say about this verdict. From Point of Law alone we had comments by Jim Copland, Jonathan Wilson, and Ted Frank. Then there was Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground (The Good Guys Win), Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline (Judgement Day, No More Merk for a Couple Days, and Okay, One More Merk Point),Tom Kirkendall of Houston's Clear Thinkers (Merck Gets Hammered), Professor Bainbridge (Merk), Professor Tom Mayo (Merck's Biggest Hit (So Far): $253 Million), Gordon Smith of Conglomerate (Merk), Howard Bashman's How Appealing, Tom Lamb of Drug Injury.com (Ernst v. Merck Vioxx Trial: Massive Verdict for Plaintiff; Knock-out Punch for Merck?), and Douglas Sorocco of rethink(ip) with an unusual take, Use of PowerPoint in a Trial.

Thanks to Overlawyered's Walter Olson for many of the above links.

And that's just what the lawyers had to say. If you're interested in a medical perspective, keep an eye on this week's Grand Rounds which is due to be posted Wednesday at Straight From the Doc.

Houston Medical

This week on Houston Medical, the med students get some instructions on making patients feel comfortable, prompted by the recent New York Times article which Elizabeth Malloy of HealthLawProf Blog comments on in Being a Patient - Check Dignity at the Door.

Hospital employees also get guidance on HIPPA security regulations thanks to Bob Coffield of the Health Care Blog Law (CMS Issues New Educational Advice on HIPAA Security Rule).

I'm a Celebrity But I Want to Be a Pop Star

Melody Wirz of Phosita writes about The Artist Formerly Known As P. Diddy:
So, I got to thinking. Has "Diddy" registered all of these trademarks with the USPTO. I was surprised to find that he has applied for at least 27 different registrations, with 7 actually being registered....

Other registered marks include "Puff Daddy," "Puffy," and "Sean John." But my favorite is the dead application requesting registration of "Farnsworth Bently." The USPTO rejected the mark because it is almost identical to the alter-ego of "Diddy's" former assistant, Derek Watkins, a/k/a "Farnsworth Bentley." In the application, "Diddy" claims that he created the character, and controlled Mr. Watkins when he appeared as the character. However, the application was ultimately abandoned, along with the very similar "Fonzworth Bently."

Pimp My Ride

On this week's episode, Ted Frank of Overlawyered brings in a Ford Pinto with an exploding fuel tank and leaves with a Winnebago equipped with autopilot (One more Winnebago thought: the Ford Pinto lawsuit urban legend). Just kidding, Ted. My family actually had one of these "unusually dangerous" Pintos and I managed to survive childhood unscathed.

AutoMuse's E. L. Eversman has been featured in Forbes.com's Best of the Web (PowerBlog and Forbes Best of the Web).

Road Rules 13

The unlucky Road Rules 13 gang gets lost and winds up at the Boston University Blogging Colloquium where they learn about "the legal complexities facing the growing blogging community." Apparently, they got directions from Denise Howell at Between Lawyers.

And they might not have gotten lost in the first place had they been using their Blawg Review Google Guest Map courtesy of The Common Scold Monica Bay.

Rock Star: INXS

John Day, writing a guest post on Evan Schaeffer's Legal Undgerground, explains to clients "I'm sorry, you're just not right for our law firm, Branham & Day" (A Plaintiffs' Lawyers Explains the Economics of Turning Cases Down).

Tom Kane of the Legal Marketing Blog examines the opposite situation in: Lost An Unhappy Client? You'’ve Lost More Than That.

The Greatest American Lawyer has extensive coverage on the topic of Problem Clients.

Rough Science

For those not familiar with the show, Rough Science is a PBS series which puts a group a scientists on a desert island with a bunch of junk and asks them to make things, kind of like the Professor on Gilligan's Island.

Douglas Sorocco of Phosita sets us straight on the Microsoft/Apple/iPod interface patent hype (Microsoft Patents Apple - Don't Believe the Hype).

Ron Coleman of Likelihood of Confusion follows up on the ClearPlay litigation in "Cleaning Up, or Getting Their Clocks Cleaned?" ClearPlay has "developed a unique DVD parental control technology that enables users to skip and mute segments of movies that contain graphic violence, nudity, and profanity." Apparently, Hollywood doesn't like this too much. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.


The Supernanny is called in to help Denise Howell of Bag and Baggage whose little one has tossed her purse (including cell phone, car remote, and camera) into a fountain in I'm Soaking In It. At least Ms. Howell's iPod was not a casualty, as she might need it to listen to her recent Podcast interview with John Furrier.

And the Supernanny puts little Johnny in the naughty chair when he won't share, apparently egged on by J. Craig Williams of May It Please The Court's Property Law As Viewed By A Toddler. Little Johnny's appeal is pending.

Speaking of toddlers, Tom Mighell's Inter Alia turned three years old this week.

Who's Your Daddy?

Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds (or should we call him Instapregnant?) denies responsibility - in advance - if and when Angelina Jolie gets knocked up, er, pregnant.

The Will

Jill Fallon of Legacy Matters writes that an envelope found in the safety deposit box of a recently deceased 73-year old woman marked "Do Not Open Until My Death" may provide the key to solving the disappearance in 1930 of Judge Joseph F. Crater, called "the most missingest man in America".

Gerry W. Beyer of Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blawg writes a two-parter, Ethics Issue in Recent "Dear Abby" Column and More on "Dear Abby" Letter. The letter reads, in part:
My husband, "Girard," and I have been married two years. We both have children from previous marriages. Girard always told me I would have a home if I outlived him, even though his children will eventually inherit the property.... One day I asked Girard if it was in the will, and he said no, but that he and his children "had discussed it." When I asked him to put it on paper, he agreed. His attorney drafted a document for him to sign.... I decided to call the attorney myself. Well, you guessed it. I was told the papers had been executed. When I confronted Girard he admitted he had lied and promised to have the will done over. When I looked at the document he had signed, I saw that Girard was giving me 90 days to get out of the house after his death.
Now, why on earth do people write Dear Abby instead of calling their lawyers? Know what Abby's response was? "Now that you know how your husband thinks, consult an attorney of your own and find out exactly what your rights are as a wife in the state of Louisiana." However, I digress. Prof. Beyer's take on this is to discuss the ethics of the wife's conversation with her husband's lawyer.

Faking It

The unfortunate drawback of blawg reviewing around a "theme" is that there are always a number of good posts which are impossible to fit into the theme. Either that, or I am at the point of having completely run out of creative juices. Here are the remainders (often, the best parts):

Kevin at Cyberlaw Central discuses the move to make attention and attention data a new property right in Attention - Part One and Attention - Part Two. He writes:
From an IP attorney'’s point of view, Attention is interesting because it is an attempt to create a new property right in the aggregate of data. It'’s different from other forms of property that currently can be protected. ... Attention, unlike trade secrets, is public information. It'’s the aggregate of your interactions with third parties like shopping sites. The current state of affairs is that the shopping sites, with Amazon as the best example, are collecting this data for their own commercial advantage. While you might appreciate seeing what others who bought a book also bought, it'’s really in Amazon'’s interest since they are more likely to get an additional sale out of the deal.
Really interesting. By the way, I almost put this under the heading of "Last Comic Standing" before I actually read the links. At first glance, it looked like a slick hoax.

Next, Steve Bainbridge of ProfessorBainbridge.com writes about Air America, the radio station that was pulled off the air only two weeks after its debut:
Did the directors and officers of Air America owe a fiduciary duty to the network's creditors? In short, yes. Would the creditors' complaint alleging self-dealing in breach of that duty survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim? In all probability, yes.
Law Pundit Andis Kaulins writes in Google Library Digitization Project Delayed by Copyright Issues:
[P]lans to digitize university library holdings of Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Oxford University and the New York Public Library have been put on hold because of copyright issues raised by publishing and library associations, who of course are not interested in authors rights of copyright, but rather fear the new digitally based competition.
On the same topic, Brad Newman's The Law Student's Blog additionally discusses the DMCA's Notice & Takedown provisions (Google Press Pause On Book Scanning).

And I'll end with a marvelous Report From the Trial Court Trenches by William J. Dyer at BeldarBlog. Among other things, he writes:
And to my horror, just as I was sitting back down after the judge had overruled my fourth or fifth (absolutely valid!) objection, the paper-clip accidentally slipped out of my clammy fingers and, propelled by the rubber band, shot across the room, loudly TWACKing the hollow wooden front of the judge's bench.

"And I object to Mr. Dyer shooting his paper-clip across the room when he loses his objections!" thundered my opponent.

"Sustained!" thundered back the judge, glaring at me. Whereupon I pouted, conspicuously, for at least the next ten minutes (but with my hands clenched, empty, under the table).

In Conclusion

That's all for this week's episode of Blawg Review. Thank you to everyone who contributed. The next issue of Blawg Review will be hosted at Carolyn Elefant's My Shingle. Blawg Review has Submission Guidelines for getting your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues. Just a hint, it really helps the host if you include a description or summary of your post in your email. Give the host some idea of why your topic is important or relevant.

Until next week ... keep it real!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Site Update

The blogroll/links section on the right is complete. Well, as complete as it's going to be for a while, at least until Blawg Review #20 is published. Please let me know of any misspellings, broken links, if you think you were inadvertently left off :), etc.

Also, please note that these are blogs that I actually read (or at least scan the headlines of), not blogs that I think I should read, or blogs that I think you should read. For instance, I do have a couple blogs on my feed that look interesting, but are not on my blogroll yet since I haven't read enough to know if I want to keep them. Also, by the same token, blogs are subject to deletion at any time. So keep up the good work.

P.S. Why does Blogger's spellcheck function not recognize the word "blog". I mean, really! I can understand "blawg", "blogging", "blog(o)sphere", and "blogroll", but the word BLOG? Come on.

Friday, August 19, 2005

100 blogs in 100 days

The Blog Herald will be featuring a blog a day. See 100 blogs in 100 days for information on how to submit your blog. Sounds like a good way to get your blog out there.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

FedEx Logo & Trademark Issues

The Sneeze has an interview with Lindon Leader, The Man Behind the FedEx Logo. I also found an interesting discussion on the FedExKinko's rebranding at Typographica.

Nobody's Business comments on an article from Wired News, Furniture Causes FedEx Fits, about software developer Jose Avila who, short on cash, made furniture out of FedEx boxes (which are free). He then posted photos of his creations on his website. That caught the attention of FedEx lawyers, and correspondence insued. (via Walter Olson at Overlawyered)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Blawg Review

Blawg Review #19 is up at Patent Baristas. I am hosting Blawg Review #20 next week here at The Mommy Blawg, and I am pleased and honored to be sandwiched in between the snazzy, snazzy layout of the Patent Baristas and Carolyn Elefant's always helpful My Shingle. I've already gotten one submission. Keep 'em coming!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Site Update - Preview

I'm working on my blogroll. I accidentally re-published my blog before it was finished, so please ignore it for now with my apologies. Update coming soon.

Chandler, Arizona

News Flash: As of two days ago, the City of Chandler has suspended the "administrative directive" referred to below and "formed a committee to study the issue". However, it is an interesting legal question, even if it appears to be now moot.

Despite the recent trend of states and foreign countries (i.e. Ohio, Illinois, Scotland) to pass legislation protecting the right of mothers to breastfeed in public, the City of Chandler, Arizona, has decided to swim against the current:
Mothers who breast-feed on Chandler city property must cover up, go to a private spot or leave if someone complains. Refuse and they could face criminal trespassing charges.

The rule takes effect this week after the City Council made no objections to an "administrative directive" released Monday by Community Services Director Mark Eynatten.
Eynatten said Arizona law doesn't exclude nursing mothers who expose their breasts from "indecent exposure" prohibitions, and his directive conforms to that law.

It's also designed to give city employees a uniform policy on how to handle complaints without confrontation, Eynatten said.

He said city employees must now refer complaints about public breast-feeding to their supervisors. A supervisor will determine if the complaint is valid and if the woman's exposure is "unreasonably disturbing other members of the public."

The supervisor should "respectfully" ask the mother to cover herself or offer her a private place to feed the child. If she refuses, she will be asked to leave the building or grounds. Failure to leave could result in criminal trespassing charges, Eynatten said.
Source: Breast-feeding moms told to cover up or be cited

Additional News Links:
Breast-feeding debate rages in Chandler
Debate puts breast-feeding in the spotlight
Rule on nursing babies canceled

Hawthor the Cow Goddess responds with a series of cartoons (1, 2, 3, 4)

The legal implications of this are twofold. First, federal law prohibits discrimination of this sort on federal property ("Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location." Sec. 630, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, apparently not codified). This is not a Starbucks or a Walmart, whose corporate policies are shaped to a great extent by public opinion. This is a governmental entity creating regulations regarding governmental property. Yes, I know there is no federal preemption issue here, but surely someone could think up a bona fide legal argument. Is the city receiving federal funds? Parks & recreation grants? If a private business' purchasing a bottle of catsup can invoke the commerce clause, and the first amendment (despite the fact that it clearly states "Congress shall pass no law") is applied to state and local governments, surely someone can get creative with this one. Ok, you all know I have barely thought about constitutional law since the first year of law school, so go easy on me here.

Second, many breastfeeding law experts and advocates maintain that breastfeeding in public is always legal, and legislation "allowing" breastfeeding in public places merely clarifies the right, rather than creating it:
It is important to remember that women have a right to breastfeed in public whether there is a law or not. The purpose of legislation is NOT to legalize it, but to clarify the fact the fact that women have the right to breastfeed in public, or that it is not a criminal offense, such as indecent exposure. Thus, if you are in a state that does not have legislation, you still have the right to feed your baby where you go. Breastfeeding legislation often exempts breastfeeding from any criminal statutes, such as amending an indecent exposure or nudity law. More progressive legislation creates a new law that sets forth a woman's right to breastfeed. Some of the laws provide mothers with legal recourse if they are told to stop breastfeeding, such as New York, which has the strongest law in the nation, where a right to breastfeed as one of a person's civil rights was created.
Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. and Kenneth A. Friedman, Esq., A Current Summary of Breastfeeding Legislation in the U.S.

Although breastfeeding is a woman'’s intrinsic right, which should not have to be declared, in our bottlefeeding society, it becomes protective for state legislation to assert that the act of breastfeeding is both permissible and the entitlement of a mother.
State Legislation that Protects, Promotes, and Supports Breastfeeding: An inventory and analysis of state breastfeeding and maternity leave legislation, United States Breastfeeding Committee (PDF)
What many people do not know is that breastfeeding in public is legal in every state. A mother does not need to "cover up" or go somewhere more private. More than half of states have laws specifically protecting this right, but even in those that do not, it is still legal to breastfeed in public.

Breastfeeding laws fall generally into two categories. Some states simply exclude breastfeeding in public from the state's criminal laws regarding indecent exposure or obscenity, so that a woman cannot be charged criminally for nursing in public. In these states, a woman who is harassed for breastfeeding in public can sue under other laws, such as those prohibiting sex discrimination in places of public accommodation.
Nancy M. Solomon, Breastfeeding in Public Is a Basic Civil Right

On the other hand, Douglas Reid Weimer, Legislative Attorney and author of Summary of State Breastfeeding Laws and Related Issues, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress (PDF), gives a much more conservative interpretation:
Nursing mothers have asserted rights in a variety of lawsuits –under a number of legal theories, some successful -- but the centrality of state breastfeeding laws in defining legal protection is evident.
It should be considered that if a state does not have specific legislation authorizing or affirming breastfeeding in public, it does not mean that breastfeeding in public is necessarily prohibited. Local ordinances, which are not considered in this report, may deal with the issue. Likewise, an exemption from jury duty by a nursing mother which in some states may be covered by state statute, may also be covered in other states by court rules, local practices, or regulations.
Some courts, interpreting state law in states where there is no specific right to breastfeed in public, have rejected arguments based on constitutional rights, civil rights, equal protection, etc. However, all these cases, as far as I know (and I haven't really looked at the case law) involved businesses and not governmental entities.

I suspect, however, that just as public pressure has convinced the City of Chandler to back down, at least for now, legislation will be proposed and likely passed by the Arizona state legislature at the earliest available opportunity. Too bad. Sounded like a good test case.

Related resources:
Rep. Carolyn Maloney's Breastfeeding Legislation Website
50 States Summary of Breastfeeding Laws, National Conference of State Legislatures
Are your breasts bound by law? by Virginia L. Marchant, Mothering Magazine (Jan.-Feb. 2005)

Wacky Patent of the Month

It's the Wacky Patent of the Month, Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force, U.S. Patent 3,216,423.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

4 women arrested in breast-feeding protest

This is rich: "Four women were arrested while protesting a hospital's policies on breast-feeding, which the demonstrators said undermines efforts of mothers who want to nurse their babies." They were charged with trespassing. The hosptial has a policy of removing newborns to the hospital nursery for 4 hours soon after birth. And also giving new moms sample packs of formula, but almost all hospitals do that.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Miscellaneous Items

The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois has passed a law automatically exempting breastfeeding moms from jury duty. In most states, persons who are the primary caregivers for young children are exempt from jury duty anyway, but this law comes into play in the situation, for example, where a mom works full-time and pumps.
8/5/05 ETA: Don't miss the discussion over on PrawfsBlawg

Speaking of which, this is World Breastfeeding Week. Information on WBW from La Leche League, ProMom, and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.

Tom Mayo of the HealthLawProfs blog has some interesting comments on the Susan Torres case.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Blawg Review #17

Blawg Review #17 is up at The Greatest American Lawyer.

Ethan Leib of PrawfsBlawg posts that a federal judge in Nebraska has found that pregnancy is a disease.

Bill aims to limit inmate shackling

If I try to comment on this news item, I'll get really angry. So I'll just quote a little:
In California and across the country, female prisoners are routinely shackled for most of labor and immediately after childbirth -- a longstanding practice opposed by a growing number of legislators and even a spokesman for the conservative guards union. A bill introduced by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber that would ban the practice has moved from the Assembly into the Senate.
The practice of shackling laboring inmates is defended by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, although there is no known record of an escape or assault by a prisoner giving birth. All inmates, male and female, who leave state institutions for community hospitals are shackled and guarded by at least one armed correctional officer. That includes the 185 female prisoners on average who give birth each year in California.
In general, the women ride to and from the hospital in handcuffs. Inside, they can be shackled to a bed during early labor, a critical period when walking and changing positions assists the progress and comfort of delivery. Per department policy, after giving birth, they have one leg shackled to the bed for the duration of their stay.

Callahan, a first-time offender from Merced, said the shackles were more than emotionally traumatic -- they made her physical recovery more difficult. "You have to be stuck to a bed even though the doctors say you need to get up and walk because your stomach was cut open," she said. "They uncuffed me because a doctor and a nurse had given direct orders for me to walk around."

Between 1998 and 2004, California prisoners gave birth to 1,300 babies, the majority conceived before their mothers' sentencing. Most of those babies went home with relatives or into foster care.

Pregnant inmates get extra milk with meals and the services of a "doula" -- a trained labor coach who runs weekly childbirth preparation classes and provides bedside support during delivery.

According to prison officials, hospital doctors decide when a patient is in "active labor," and that is when restraints are removed. But that stage is ill-defined.

"Active labor means contractions that are regular, forceful and coordinated, and that can go on for 36 hours," said Corey Weinstein, a correctional medical consultant who serves on the board of the San Francisco-based California Prison Focus. Women interviewed by advocacy groups report being restrained until the pushing stage, the last part of active labor, a practice Weinstein described as "barbaric."

Legal Guide for Bloggers

Oh, and how come I'd never come across the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers? I didn't read very deep, but looks like a great resource. Aside from the FAQs, check out the link to "Cases" at the top of the page.

BlogHer 2005

The BlogHer 2005 convention was this weekend. Lawyers Denise Howell, Carolyn Elefant, Jill Fallon, Cathy Kirkman, and others attended. Kevin O'Keefe ("Real Lawyers Have Blogs") comments.

Tons and tons of live blogging, of course. There were a couple sessions on legal issues and one on mommy blogging. Reading the pre-conference posts from the mommy bloggers, the main concern seemed to be "what do I wear to the conference since everything in my closet is one size too small for my postpartum body and I haven't shopped anywhere but Target for the last 3 years so what's in style these days, anyway?" I can sympathise completely.

Sounds like it was fun and productive. Maybe next year.