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Published: February 6th, 2012

Category: News Briefs

Lea Johnston 
Assistant Professor of Law

The Supreme Court of California, in addressing what standard to adopt for competence for self-representation at a criminal trial, favorably cited Johnston’s article. The court did not mandate that lower courts adhere to Johnston’s proposed standard, but it detailed her proposal and characterized it as “plausible” and “helpful to the extent (it) suggest(s) relevant factors to consider.” The court then stated, “Experts asked to examine defendants for this purpose, and trial courts called on to make these rulings, may consider these factors (identified in part by Johnston) in their examinations and rulings.”

Lyrissa Lidsky 
Stephen C. O’Connell Chair; Professor of Law

On Jan. 26, Lidsky presented a paper entitled “Not a Free Press Court?” at a conference at Brigham Young University Law School on The Supreme Court and the Press that included legal journalists, media law professors, and political scientists.

“Legal targets emerging from the I-75 wreckage” (Jan. 31, 2012, Gainesville Sun)

Following the tragic traffic accidents and deaths just south of Gainesville due to low visibility from brush fires on Paynes Prairie, questions have been raised about where to lay blame and possibilities of pursuing legal action. Lidsky commented on the various potential targets of lawsuits, including the Florida Highway Patrol, trucking companies whose trucks were involved in the accidents, and possibly the person(s) who started the fire at Paynes Prairie.

From the article:
Lidsky said trucking companies might be sued because of their insurance and could be found negligent if their drivers’ actions were shown to be unreasonable.

“It doesn’t necessarily absolve all of these drivers of responsibility” if the highway patrol re-opened the road, she said.

A remaining target of a possible civil lawsuit is the person responsible for the fire, if one is identified. Lidsky said negligence is limited to foreseeable harm, but that courts have been willing to stretch the concept when faced with an intentional action such as arson.

“It doesn’t seem utterly unforeseeable that (a fire) would affect roadway visibility,” she said.

Joseph Little
Professor Emeritus

“Bus attack questions? We have answers” (Jan. 26, 2012, Ocala Star-Banner)

This article addresses questions raised after an attack was captured on film of a Marion County student by other students on a school bus. Little discussed the possibility of a lawsuit against the Marion County school system because some said the bus driver did not do enough to prevent the fight from occurring.

From the article:
The victim in the case could have the basis for a lawsuit against the school district, according to Joseph W. Little, professor of law emeritus at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. He said the victim could argue “the driver was negligent (in) not coming to the assistance of the person at risk, or that the school district was negligent in training the driver,” or both.

Rachel Rebouché
Assistant Professor

In January, Rebouché gave the lecture on prenatal genetic testing for the monthly seminar series at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and presented a paper on comparative abortion law at the feminist legal workshop at George Washington School of Law.

Elizabeth Rowe
Professor of Law; Director, Program in Intellectual Property Law

“Ten Top U.S. Intellectual-Property Verdicts Doubled to $4.6 Billion in ’11” (Jan. 31, 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek)

Last year saw the largest increase “in the size of intellectual-property jury awards” in the history of the United States, partially due to two major lawsuits by DuPont Co. and St. Jude Medical Inc. in an attempt to protect trade secrets. Rowe said this practice by large companies is becoming more common.

From the article:
“Companies are becoming more aggressive and more willing to pursue these cases,” said Rowe, who teaches intellectual- property law at the University of Florida. “As more and more of these cases go to trial, it encourages people to bring them. You have a growing body of precedents,” she said.

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