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Comment Re:Outward Appearances (Score 1) 175

The deal offered was a recommendation of 6 months. He could have taken the deal and still gotten 50 years (based on the amended charges) because the judge isn't limited by the recommendation.

Judges typically follow the recommendations of the plea bargain; while there's a chance of the judge coming up with something more harsh it is very, very unlikely. In any event while suicide might be a rational response to an actual 50-year prison sentence, it is not a rational response to an unlikely but theoretically possible 50-year sentence. Swartz's timing is what's so weird.

Comment Re:Legal and you know it, Ortiz doesn't (Score 2, Insightful) 175

"This too, completely legal, campus police are just security guards with no special right to be told the truth."

Actually campus police are usually sworn police officers under state statutes, just like municipal or county police.

I think MIT was morally wrong in not pursuing this, and the U.S. attorneys' office overreached, but the whole issue is not as cut-and-dried as most people here would prefer you believe. I don't think Swartz was just a passive actor caught up in forces he had no control over, and framing the story that way does a disservice to the truth. Even the 6 month prison sentence under the plea bargain was unfair but not a legitimate cause for suicide and I don't think you can put all of that on the prosecutors' shoulders; I mean 6 months in a minimum security federal prison is not exactly hard time.

Comment Re:A game where winner still pays the price (Score 2) 259

I am not a patent lawyer so I have no special expertise on the subject, but generally different appeals courts develop different approaches to certain laws which stick around for years due to inertia. Appellate panels are randomly picked for each appeal, so if you get three judges together who by chance happen to be strongly pro-patent in an early case could set the agenda for the next decade. Subsequent panels are expected to follow the rulings set down under what's called the doctrine of interpanel accord, where a panel can't be overruled by a later panel, you'd need the entire circuit sitting en banc (all the judges at once) to overrule the first panel.

Comment Re:A game where winner still pays the price (Score 5, Informative) 259

"Newegg was lucky that they had an in-house lawyer and the original owner who was prepared to make a stand. This is rare: Conventional wisdom is to hire outside lawyers - patent specialists and all. "

They did hire an outside law firm, Weil Gotshal, which is one of the top firms in the country.

In theory judges are supposed to dismiss law suits without merit, but they don't - because they don't give a shit about the costs and it gives them something to do. . . That the original judge fucked up does not surprise me. Forget what you see on TV about just and fair judges: In patent troll counties like the Eastern District of Texas the judges are blatantly pro-plaintiff. If they were not all the money flowing into their district would dry up, the judges and legal fraternity would be looking for a job somewhere else.

Absolutely wrong, judges love dismissing cases, particularly complex cases like patent actions, because they don't want their docket to get overloaded. Judges make incorrect holdings of fact and law all the time; that's the whole point behind appeal courts. It's usually not out of malice or incompetence, despite perennial slashdot anger at what is perceived as to the contrary. Speaking as someone who used to litigate in federal courts, the majority of judges just don't care on a personal level about the parties before them, they just want to get the cases moved through their court. The only personal investment most judges have in the cases is they don't want them to be reversed because they consider it as a hit on their reputation.

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