How to bet the horses - at last Saturday's Breeder's Cup one lucky racing fan was the only one to hit the Pick 6. Amazingly, for a $12 investment the winner netted about $3 million. Well, he might have netted that amount, but it looks like it was fraud. Or "computer hacking" to be more precise as this New York Times article explains.
"Supporters of Elizabeth Dole's Senate bid in North Carolina can join an "e-leader" program. In return for supplying 25 e-mail addresses of friends and relatives, they get a certificate signed by the Republican candidate. The Democratic National Committee has made use of the Internet, too, posting a cartoon that shows President Bush shoving people in wheelchairs down the plummeting line of a stock market graph. Political campaigns are making more and more use of the Internet."
Oh, boy. I can't wait to see what other innovations the politicians come up with. These people are so creative. Oh, by the way, and not surprisingly, here's a lawsuit against the Dole campaign for spamming.
Wired News article on Legal Blog - it's entitled "Blog to Court: Check Your Facts" and notes that "in a striking example of digital-era accountability, a 5th Circuit appellate court judge amends a decision after an attorney notes a minor error in the ruling on his weblog."
I have a big problem with this article (and the title especially). I'm glad that Howard Bashman's weblog is getting more publicity; he deserves it. And I'm glad that Jerry Smith (the 5th Circuit judge who read Howard's blog and learned of the error in his own court's opinion) is intellectually curious enough to read Howard's blog and learn from it. So what do I have a problem with?
Well, I think that at this point it's not really all that surprising that a judge is reading a lawyer's blog. There are a lot of lawyer blogs now, and --as I said-- Howard's is perhaps the best and most informative (at least in terms of reporting on court opinions and other court events). But where are the blogs by judges or courts? That's what I'm desperately waiting/hoping for.
And I'm not talking about a judicial blog that comments on decisions rendered by the court, because that isn't going to happen for a long time, if it ever happens at all (the reasons for this are obvious). But it is possible that one day courts will use blogs to disseminate other highly useful information. What sort of information? Well, the legal profession needs for courts to use weblogs to issue opinions (in RSS/XML format, and in categories like "civil" "criminal" "domestic" "tax" etc.). Or it would be nice if the court would issue notices about changes in court procedure in an RSS format. When that starts to happen then let's break out the noise-makers and start celebrating. Woo-hoo, blogs rule dude!
Yeah, we need for courts and other government officials to use this technology to give the public information in a timely and meaningful way. But that's less likely to happen when Wired magazine basically says "blogger uses his blog to error-check a court." Jerry Smith might not find all of this press coverage of Howard's discovery to be offensive. Nor may he find the press coverage suggests that the 5th Circuit is so lacking in editorial skill that it has to rely on outside sources (and "bloggers" for God's sake!) to do it. But I'll bet some judges would take offense at the Wired article (and certainly some clerks and bureaucrats would).
So that's what I have a problem with. To the extent that any judges out there in some court of appeal are toying with the idea of using blog-technology to enhance their information delivery capabilities, and to the extent they are trying to figure out what blogs are, this article emphasizes the wrong thing. It's not big news that lawyers can use this technology to talk to judges, or --better yet-- tell the judges they are wrong. But it will be big news indeed when judges use blogs to speak to lawyers, and --more importantly-- to the public at large.
Wake me up when that happens. I will definitely run around in circles like a loopy Irish Setter and celebrate wildly when that happens.