Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Marissa Alexander and Overpolicing and Underprotection of Black Women

This op-ed originally appeared on

Marissa Alexander is a 33-year-old African-American woman who stands accused of three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm after firing a warning shot to ward off a violent husband whom she believed was attempting to kill her. The shooting occurred after her husband assaulted her multiple times---once landing her in the hospital with head injuries---and after he made credible threats to kill her. Nevertheless, a Florida state court rejected her self-defense argument, specifically the “Stand Your Ground” defense. Angela Corey, the same state prosecutor who unsuccessfully prosecuted the killers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis for murder, is now seeking to imprison Alexander for up to 60 years, effectively placing a life sentence around a Black woman who—unlike George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn--had every reason to believe her life was in danger.

Read the complete op-ed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Shadow Tells a Story: Teller Gets Summary Judgment for Copyright Infringement of His “Shadows” Illusion

By Professor Jay Dougherty

As I wrote about in a blog in 2012, magician, Teller, half of the famous “Penn & Teller” duo, brought an interesting and perhaps unprecedented copyright infringement claim against a Dutch magician, Gerard Dogge, who made of video of a “strikingly similar” illusion, posted it on Youtube and offered to sell DVD’s and reveal the “secret” of the illusion (which, in this case he appears to claim is different from Teller’s method). After several procedural rulings since then, in a decision on March 20,2014, Judge Mahan in the U.S. District Court for the  District of Nevada gave summary judgment to Teller on the copyright infringement claim, finding that Dogge had essentially admitted access, and there was not even a genuine issue of material fact on “substantial similarity” under both the “extrinsic” (objective) and “intrinsic” (more subjective, “total concept and feel”) tests used in the Ninth Circuit.  Teller v. Dogge (2:12-CV-591 JCM)(D.Nev., 2014).

Magicians incur many obstacles in trying to protect their illusions by copyright law. The “method” or “system” embodying the illusion won’t be protected (although some have qualified for patent protection), nor will the abstract “ideas” and commonplace “scenes a faire.” As Judge Mahan pointed out here, “While Dogge is correct that magic tricks are not copyrightable, this does not mean that ‘Shadows’ is not subject to copyright protection... The mere fact that a dramatic work or pantomime includes a magic trick, or even that a particular illusion is its central feature does not render it devoid of copyright protection.”

Friday, March 14, 2014

Being Responsible Gatekeepers

By Professor Michael Waterstone

This post originally appeared on

Who we allow, and even encourage, to join our ranks says a lot about our profession.  For too long, lawyers were almost entirely white males.  There is still a lot of work to do to make the legal profession more accurately reflect the society it serves.  But we have made progress.  Organizations like the California Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness have been looking examining and gathering evidence about how to increase the pipeline for underrepresented groups to become lawyers, in some cases with measurable successes.

Unfortunately, people with disabilities are still incredibly underrepresented.  The few studies to examine the issue have found that there are few, and in some states miniscule, attorneys with disabilities (for example, in 2009, Colorado estimated .15% of its lawyers had a disability).  Although in some cases these numbers may be an example of underreporting, by any measure they are too low.  This is in part based on a pipeline problem.  According to an American Bar Association study, individuals with disabilities are less likely to apply and be admitted to law school.  This means that the few students with disabilities can experience isolation when in law school.  And when they enter the profession, new lawyer with disabilities have fewer role models who can identify with their experiences.  Our profession reflects a lack of lawyers with disabilities in leadership positions in private practice or in bar associations. Unsurprisingly, lawyers with disabilities report problems with courthouse accessibility, accommodations, and in some cases outright discrimination.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Campus in the Spring

This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our law school campus.  I love what an interesting space we inhabit in downtown Los Angeles, and I consider myself lucky to get to teach on such a unique and functional campus that has been designed with an artistic vision.  

But the campus, of course, really comes alive with all of us who spend our time here, and I wanted to share how I’m reminded of that on an almost daily basis. It is the time of the spring semester when law review boards change over and the faculty receives emails with the lists of students who will be taking the helms of the various journals at Loyola.  I’m delighted to see current and former students on the lists, and I remember how busy my students are outside of the classroom.  It is also the season for receiving emails from students, diligently letting me know that they have to miss a class because they are attending (and winning!) a trial competition.  Sometimes I come across other interesting and important activities that Loyola students are up to and here’s a new one: – the

The Dotted Line Reporter is a Loyola law student-produced blog that has excellent, timely content focused on business and legal developments in the entertainment industry.  The blog provides lots of interesting info and analysis on a wide range of topics in film, television, music, sports, the arts, and more.   The site is packed with content on trending topics I want to read – everything from the recent “Dumb Starbucks” parody to the Time Warner-Comcast merger.  What is truly impressive is how many of the stories are not just the same sound bites you’d find on bigger, well-known blogs and websites but are rather original commentary and reflect thoughtful research.  The “Dumb Starbucks” piece, for example, was the result of one of the student contributors actually going over to the faux coffee storefront and interviewing folks and sleuthing the story. 

What I also love about this new blog is how it reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of the students who have started it.  I teach business law courses here at Loyola, and I try to bring to life the law we study – how the cases we read, for example in Business Associations, reflect scenarios where real people were pursuing innovative ideas, career or investment goals.  The students creating the have that entrepreneurial, industrious spark to use their interests to pave their own paths to success.

At Home Base Immigration Clinic, Smiles About as Clients Become Citizens

Clinical attorneys Marissa Montes ’12 (pictured, left) and Emily Robinson (second from right) ’12 recently joined their Home Base Immigration Clinic clients, Francisco and Sonia, in Los Angeles as they took their oaths to become new U.S. citizens. The clinic focuses on providing representation to individuals who are unable to obtain immigration legal services elsewhere, focusing on the community of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles area, specifically the constituents of Dolores Mission and Homeboy Industries. The clinic is accepting students for the 2014-2015 academic year. Interested students must have taken or be concurrently enrolled in Immigration Law during the 2014 fall semester. They may apply by sending a resume, a current transcript and a one-page personal statement to by March 14, 2014.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Whose Version of 'Diversity' Did the Oscars Celebrate?

By Associate Professor Priscilla A. Ocen and Khaled A. Beydoun

This op-ed originally appeared on

In many ways, Hollywood is a fenced-off community. It serves as the guardian of public accolades for excellence in film and representation. Yet, its gatekeepers are still overwhelmingly white, male and old, while the world it seeks to depict is the opposite. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is no different from broader trends in Hollywood itself. The voters who determined the winners of the 86th-annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 2 are a testament to the white homogeneity and hegemony in Hollywood.

People of color have always been on the margins of Hollywood. Oscar nods to Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry and Jamie Foxx were generally lauded as moments of racial progress, allegedly highlighting an industry moving away from racial exclusion and toward diversity.

Unmasking the meaning and motivations behind Hollywood “diversity” reveals that gatekeeper politics – not racial progress – dictates which people of color are let inside, and the shape, complexion and color of the faces that remain fenced outsides Hollywood’s gates.

Inside the Gates: Oscar Voters are White and Male

One can drive from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, the site for the Oscars, and easily take a route through a tapestry of Asian, Black and Latino neighborhoods. Yet, the images that are often celebrated within spaces like the Dolby Theater obscure or outright misrepresent the lives of people who live in communities of color, often relying on tired and outdated stereotypes.