Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Boston Business Breakfast on Sports Law this Thursday

I look forward to giving a talk at the Harvard Club in Boston this Thursday at 7:30 am.  It is for my alma mater, St. John's Prep, which I'm proud to say is also the alma mater of Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly (Class of 1979) and Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien (Class of 1988).

I'll be discussing breaking issues in sports law, including the Boston Marathon bombings and the impact on stadium security.

Even if you are not an alum, but are interested in sports law, I hope you consider attending ($25/person):

Boston Business Breakfast

Michael McCann ’94 • Sports Law

  • Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 am
  • Downtown Harvard Club, 1 Federal Street
  • $25 per person
Lance Armstrong was recently interviewed by Michael McCann '94 for Armstrong's first interview since his conversation with Oprah Winfrey. Join us for a unique opportunity to hear McCann speak at the Downtown Harvard Club on Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 am. A leading expert in sports law, McCann is a tenured professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, where he is founder and director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute. He is also Sports Illustrated's legal analyst, and serves as an on-air expert on sports law matters for CNN and NBA TV.  McCann is expected to discuss his interview with Armstrong and how Armstrong can defend lawsuits, various legal issues involving the NCAA and student-athletes, and select business and legal issues impacting the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL. He will also discuss his coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings for Sports Illustrated and WEEI, and how the bombings will affect sports security.

For more information, click here.

Monday, 29 April 2013

NBA player comes out--Now what?

Sports Illustrated has the story of Jason Collins, a Stanford grad, 12-year NBA veteran, and current free agent (he spent the past year with the Celtics and Wizards) coming out publicly (he came out to his family last summer). Submitted without comment, other than to not that while this is not a star player in the prime of his career, it is a big step in that direction.

8th June event: Can science solve every mystery? A scientist, a philosopher and a Christian discuss

Centre for Inquiry UK and Conway Hall present

Can science solve every mystery? A scientist, a philosopher and a Christian discuss.

Peter Atkins, David Papineau, Peter S. Williams

Can science answer every question? Should scientists show a little humility and acknowledge there are questions that only religion can answer? Are science and religion “non-overlapping magisteria”, as the scientist Stephen Jay Gould claimed, or is science capable of showing that religion is false, as Richard Dawkins believes? And what, exactly, do philosophers do?

Presented and chaired by Stephen Law (Philosophy, Heythrop and Provost of CFI UK).

Saturday June 8th, 2013

Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square

£7 (£4 students) Free to friends of CFI UK. Tickets on door. or go here http://humanism.org.uk/events/?page=CiviCRM&q=civicrm/event/info&reset=1&id=22

10.30am registration. 11am-2.30pm


Professor Peter Atkins (Univ. of Oxford). Chemist, atheist and author of many books including Galileo’s Finger and Four Laws That Drive the Universe:

“Religion closes off the central questions of existence by attempting to dissuade us from further enquiry by asserting that we cannot ever hope to comprehend. We are, religion asserts, simply too puny.”

“Sitting around thinking about the world … [that] is philosophy. And we know where that leads to in understanding. My argument is - nowhere.”

Peter S. Williams (Damaris Trust). Philosopher and leading British Christian apologist. Author of C.S. Lewis vs the New Atheists and A Faithful Guide to Philosophy:

“The existence of scientific laws is inexplicable unless we move beyond science into the realm of metaphysics, postulating a God who intends those laws for a reason.”

Professor David Papineau (KCL). One of Britain’s leading philosophers and humanists and author of Philosophical Devices:

“Philosophical problems are characterized by a special kind of difficulty, a difficulty which means that they cannot be solved, as scientific problems normally are, simply by the uncovering of further empirical evidence. Rather they require some conceptual unravelling, a careful unpicking of implicit ideas, often culminating in the rejection of assumptions we didn't realize we had.”

Saturday, 27 April 2013

"Pros or Cons" Thoughts For The Modern "Sports Attorney" - Part II

Sports Law Blog is publishing a 5-part series on the practice of sports law.  The series is co-authored by Peter Jarvis, a legal ethics and professional responsibility attorney with Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP in Portland, Oregon and Jason Davis, a California attorney currently residing in Seattle, Washington.  These posts will appear on Saturdays.   The first one is available at this link.  Here is the second one:


"Pros or Cons" Thoughts For The Modern "Sports Attorney"
Authored by Jason A. Davis, Esq. and Peter R. Jarvis, Esq. (all rights reserved)

Home Field Advantage? (Choice of Ethics Law)

As a general proposition, an attorney who is licensed and practices only in one state will be governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct, or RPCs, of that state. When, however, an attorney is licensed in more than one state or the attorney's practice crosses state lines, the picture gets more complex. Of course, an attorney receives and maintains the ability to practice law by virtue of the licensing authority of the jurisdiction(s) in which the attorney is licensed. When the rules of the various jurisdictions are the same, this does not matter. But what if they are different? Which set(s) of ethical rules govern which of the attorney's actions?

In our first segment, we introduced Attorney Al, who is licensed in both New Jersey and New York. Which state's Rules govern Al's representation of his client Mega Star? Fortunately, RPC 8.5 of these two states are substantially similar to each other and to the equivalent ABA Model Rule. New Jersey's RPC 8.5, which is identical to ABA Model Rule 8.5, state in pertinent part:

Rule 8.5 Disciplinary Authority; Choice Of Law
(a) Disciplinary Authority. A lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction, regardless of where the lawyer's conduct occurs. (...) A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both this jurisdiction and another jurisdiction for the same conduct. (Emphasis added)

(b)(2) for [conduct not involving litigation], the rules of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer’s conduct occurred, or, if the predominant effect of the conduct is in a different jurisdiction, the rules of that jurisdiction shall be applied to the conduct. A lawyer shall not be subject to discipline if the lawyer’s conduct conforms to the rules of a jurisdiction in which the lawyer reasonably believes the predominant effect of the lawyer’s conduct will occur. (Emphasis added)

New York's Rule 8.5 varies at (2)(ii) in that if the lawyer is licensed to practice in New York “and another jurisdiction, the rules to be applied shall be the rules of the admitting jurisdiction in which the lawyer principally practices; provided, however, that if particular conduct clearly has its predominant effect in another jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed to practice, the rules of that jurisdiction shall be applied to that conduct.” (Emphasis added)

Depending at least in part upon Al's geographic location at the time of this work, one could theoretically pick New York, New Jersey, California or Texas as the location where most of Al's conduct in aid of the representation occurred. And looking at the location of "predominant effect" may not provide a clear answer. Is it New York, because that is where Mega now lives? In California or Texas if he signs with either of those teams? As will be noted, at least the New Jersey rule provides, as a safe harbor, that Al need only conform his conduct to the rules of a state which he reasonably believes is the state of predominant effect.

But if, say, the predominant effect is in a state in which Al is not licensed, will he be subject to discipline or prosecution for the Unauthorized Practice of Law? This topic to be continued . . .

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The False Claims Act Complaints Against Lance Armstrong

The government this week filed its complaint in the False Claims Act case against Lance Armstrong.  The US annouced it would be joining the lawsuit, filed by "whistleblower" Floyd Landis, back in February.

The government's complaint is available here.

The second amended complaint submitted by Landis, the "relator", is available here, and his original 2010 complaint here.  The Landis complaint, though long the subject of rumor, only became public in January after the seal required in filing FCA whistleblower actions was lifted.

Back in 2010, I identified one issue in the rumored case as being the need to demonstrate a false claim submitted to the government.  The government has asserted both false claims and "reverse false claims" to meet that piece of the statute.

Lance's $125 million personal fortune is on the line. In February, I predicted that Armstrong's public pseudo-mea culpa meant he was prepared to settle the FCA case.  No sign yet that a settlement has been reached.

Rough draft for comments

Here is a first half only of a rough draft of a chapter for someone else's book. Feedback please...

Theme is Humanism: reason, science and skepticism

What are science and reason?

Humanists expound the virtues of science and reason. But what are science and reason? And we should we think it wise to rely on them?

By science, I shall mean that approach to finding out about reality based on the scientific method. This is a method that was fully developed only a few hundred years ago. Science, as I’ll use the term here, is a comparatively recent invention, its development owing a great deal to 16th and 17th Century thinkers such as the philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

So what is the scientific method? Here’s a rough sketch. Scientists collect data through observation and experiment. They formulate hypotheses and broader theories about the nature of reality to account for what they observe. Crucially, they then test their theories. Scientists derive from their theories predictions that can be independently checked by observation.

Take for example, the old Aristotelean theory that all heavenly objects revolve around the earth. With the aid of an early telescope Galileo observed that Jupiter had moons that revolved around it, not the Earth. He thereby falsified Aristotle’s theory.

Theories can also be confirmed by observation – if you can derive from your theory a prediction that is unlikely to be true if the theory is false, then discovering that the prediction is true confirms your theory. For example, to explain the erratic orbit of Uranus given Newton’s Laws of Gravitation, astronomers posited the existence of an as yet undiscovered planet. From their theory, they predicted the location of this new planet, looked, and discovered a planet there (Neptune). Because it was unlikely that there should happen to be a planet at that spot if their theory was false, this observation strongly confirmed their astronomical theory.

Systematic and rigorous testing, rooted in what we can directly observe of the world around us, is the cornerstone of the scientific method. Emphasis is placed on formulating theories and predictions with clarity and precision, focussing, wherever possible, on phenomena that are mathematically quantifiable and that can be objectively and precisely measured, e.g. using a calibrated instrument.

Non-scientific approaches to rationally assessing beliefs

The scientific method is a powerful tool, but surely not every reasonable belief is arrived at by means of it. People held beliefs, and held them reasonably, long before the development of the scientific method.

Suppose someone tells me they have an elephant in their trouser pocket. Given the absence of any large bulges in their trousers, it’s entirely reasonable for me to reject this claim: there’s no elephant there. True, I make this judgement on the basis of what I observe, but this could hardly be called science – certainly not as I have defined the term above. We engaged in this sort of reasoning long before the development of the scientific method.

Let’s also remember that beliefs can also be supported or refuted by non-empirical means (that’s to say, without relying observation of the external world). Take mathematical truths, for example. That twelve times twelve is one hundred and forty-four is something you can establish from the comfort of your armchair – by reason alone. So too can other conceptual truths. It’s possible, for example to figure out whether my great grandmother's uncle's grandson is my second cousin once removed by just unpacking these concepts and examining the logical relations that hold between them. Again you can do this from the comfort of your armchair. No empirical investigation or testing is required.

Rather more significant conceptual discoveries can also be made from your armchair. Galileo famously refuted the Aristotelean view that two balls of differing mass will consequently fall at different speeds by means of a thought-experiment. Galileo asks us to imagine that the two balls are now connected by a chain. This combination of objects will now have an even greater combined mass, and so, given Aristotle’s theory, should fall faster than they did individually. Yet, given Aristotle’s theory, the less massive ball should function as a brake on the more massive ball, and so the chained balls should fall more slowly than did the more massive ball. Galileo could demonstrate, from the comfort of his armchair, without applying the scientific method, that Aristotle’s view generates a logical contradiction, and so cannot be true.

So, even while acknowledging that science, as I have characterized it here, is an extraordinarily powerful tool, we should also acknowledge that non-scientific, but nevertheless rational, methods also have their place when it comes to arriving at reasonable belief – including armchair methods. Science is merely one way – albeit a particularly important way – of arriving at reasonable belief.

What’s so great about reason and science?

Why should we favour the application of science and reason over other methods of arriving at beliefs, such as picking beliefs at random, or believing what we would like to be true, or believing what a psychic tells us?

Advocates of science often point to its extraordinary track record. We have only had the fully-developed scientific method for about 400 years - just five of my lifetimes. Yet in that short time it has utterly transformed our understanding of the world and the character of our lives. Four hundred years ago, Westerners believed they inhabited a universe just a few thousand years old, created in just a few days. They possessed almost no effective medicine and relied on horses or their own legs to get around. Through science we have discovered the universe is about 13.75 billion years old, have developed electricity, computers, unravelled the genetic code, developed vaccines and visited the moon.

True, scientific theories are overturned, and of course it may turn out that many of our best current theories are mistaken. Scientific theories are often adopted only tentatively and cautiously. Nevertheless, the scientific method has allowed us to overturn a great many myths and make enormous progress in understanding the nature of the universe we inhabit and our place within it. While what scientists assert is sometimes dismissed by critics as being “just a theory” (that is often said about the theory of evolution, for example), a great many scientific theories are extraordinarily well-confirmed. Yes it is possible that any given scientific claim, no matter how well-confirmed, might turn out to be false. But “possible” does not mean probable. When it comes to such scientific claims as that the Earth goes round the sun, or that life has existed - and indeed evolved - on the surface of this planet for more than just a few thousand years, they are now confirmed to such an extent that it is ludicrous to suggest they might be false.

Science, and reason more generally, are valued by humanists because of their ability to reveal, or at least get us closer to, the truth. Science and reason offer us truth-sensitive ways of arriving at beliefs.

Humans have a remarkable capacity for generating false but nevertheless impressively rich and seductive systems of belief. Almost every culture has evolved belief in invisible and magical beings, such as ghosts, spirits, demons or gods. Belief in the magical power of objects, in psychic powers, in precognition and end-of-world prophecies, remains widespread across much of the developed world. Belief in non-supernatural but nevertheless bizarre phenomena such as Nessie (the Loch Ness monster), alien-piloted flying saucers, alien abduction, conspiracy theories involving 9/11, the moon landings and the Holocaust, and alternative histories involving ancient alien architects is also rife. Our vulnerability to such false belief systems is well-documented. Even intelligent, well-educated people are vulnerable (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of that quintessentially rational fictional character Sherlock Holmes, believed in fairies, and was successfully hoaxed by two little girls who faked photographs of fairies with their box brownie camera).

Very many of these beliefs systems are rooted in testimony– reports, supposedly originating with eyewitness to events such as miracles, amazing cures, precognition, and bizarre, seemingly piloted objects in our skies.

One particularly striking series of reports concerned an object that appeared over the building site of a new nuclear power station back in 1967. Sanitation workers claimed they saw a large lighted object. Then a guard confirmed the sighting. The police arrived. An officer said the object “was about half the size of the moon, and it just hung there over the plant. Must have been there nearly two hours.” The object vanished at sunrise. The next night, the same thing occurred. The county deputy sheriff described seeing a “large lighted object”. An auxiliary police officer reported “five objects – they appeared to be burning. An aircraft passed by while I was watching. They seemed to be 20 times the size of a plane.” A Wake county magistrate who arrived on the scene claimed to witness “a rectangular object, looked like it was on fire… We figured it about the size of a football field. It was huge and very bright.” There was also hard evidence evidence to support these reports - local air traffic control also reported an unidentified blip on their scope.

Local news reporters finally arrived to investigate. The object appeared again at five a.m. When they attempted to chase the object in a car, they found they couldn’t catch up with it. Eventually, they pulled up and looked at the object through a long camera lens. “Yep, that’s the planet Venus alright,” noted the photographer.

Though this might not strike many of us as remotely likely, the various eyewitnesses to the large illuminated object hanging over the nuclear plant had seen nothing more than Venus. Venus is one of the most common sources of UFO reports. That anomalous radar blip was just a coincidence.

What’s interesting about this case is that, if it had not been solved by a bit of good luck – by those reporters showing up and publicizing the truth – it could very easily have gone down in the annals of UFO-logy as one of the great unsolved cases. UFO buffs would no doubt have seized upon it and said: “Here we have, sincere, multiple, trained eye-witnesses - workers, policemen, a deputy sheriff and a magistrate. They have produced largely consistent reports of a bizarre lighted object hanging over the plant. They have no motive to give false reports (indeed, such officials are often hesitant and embarrassed about giving such reports). It’s absurd to suppose they might all have just have just seen a planet. Don’t forget their claims were supported by hard evidence in the form of that radar blip. Surely the best explanation of these reports is that there really was a large lighted object hanging over that plant.”

Fortunately, we did get lucky and now know the truth. What this case illustrates is that human beings are remarkably prone to generating such false reports, and for a very wide variety of reasons. This particular example was produced by an optical illusion and a coincidence (the radar blip), but take out a subscription to Skeptical Inquirer (published in the US) or The Skeptic Magazine (UK) and you will discover that such amazing reports are constantly being explained by reference to a wide variety of far-too-easily-dismissed-or-overlooked mundane mechanisms.

The moral is: clearly, a significant number of such otherwise-unexplained reports are going to be made anyway, whether or not there really are any visiting alien spacecraft, psychics, or miracles. But then the existence of such testimony is not good evidence that such phenomena are real.

True, it’s often reasonable to take testimony at face value. If Ted and Mary, a couple I know well and have learned to trust, tell me that a man called Bob visited them last night, I’ll rightly take their word for it. But if Ted and Mary add that Bob flew round the room by flapping his arms, died and then came back to life, then it’s no longer reasonable for me to just take their word for it that these things happened. When it comes to such claims, we should raise the evidential bar much higher because we know that such reports – including even reports that appear very hard to explain in mundane terms – are going to be made from time to time anyway, whether or not there’s any truth to them.

One variety of false belief to which we’re particularly prone is belief in hidden agency – in hidden beings with their own beliefs and aims – where in truth there are none. We’re particularly quick to appeal to hidden agents when presented with significant questions to which we lack answers. When we could not understand why the heavenly bodies moved in the way they do, we supposed that they must be other agents – gods. When we could not explain natural diseases and disasters we supposed they must be the work of malevolent agents, such as witches or demons. When we couldn’t explain why plants grew, or the seasons rolled by, we supposed that there must be sprites, or nature spirits, or other agents responsible for these things. Was a result of this natural tendency to reach for mysterious hidden agents when faced with such mysteries, we have populated our world with an extraordinary range of hidden and mysterious beings and developed extraordinarily rich and complex narratives about them.

Those who are broadly skeptical about such claims often refer to them somewhat disparagingly as “woo”. As we have seen, woo claims – or W-claims, as I’ll call them – are obviously a diverse bunch, involving psychic powers, alien abduction, cryptozoology (big foot, Nessie, etc.) past life regression, end-times prophecies, miracles, ghosts, fairies, demons and gods. They are claims with which we are peculiarly fascinated (which explains why they feature so much in tabloid newspapers, fiction, films, and so on), and to which we are very easily drawn. Clearly, while not all may be false, very, many are. Very many have been debunked. Many are mutually incompatible (many god claims, for example, are mutually exclusive – a great many of them must be false).

The humanist position is that we should take a skepticalattitude towards reports of miracles, alien visitation, and so on. We should not assume they are false (some may not be). However, humanists, as a rule, believe we should subject such reports to close rational and scientific scrutiny, and acknowledge that our inability to find a plausible-sounding but mundane explanation for such reports is, as it stands, not good evidence that they are true.

Notice that reason I am giving here for being skeptical about such reports is not that what is reported is impossible or even improbable (some religious insist that if there is a God, then his performing miracles is neither impossible nor improbable; thus skepticism about religious miracles based on the assumption that miracles are impossible or improbable just presupposes there’s no God). It’s not impossible, or even very improbable, that there exist bizarre and as yet undiscovered creatures that humans occasionally glimpse. The reason we should be pretty skeptical about such cryptozoological reports (Nessie, Big Foot, and so on) is notthat such creatures are impossible, or even improbable, but that such reports are going to be made fairly regularly anyway whether or not they’re true.

The scientist and humanist Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Under the heading “extraordinary claims” Sagan would certainly include what I am calling W-claims. And Sagan is correct about W-claims – we really should raise the evidential bar much higher than usual before accepting them. Why? If for no other reason than that we have an extraordinary track record of unreliability when it comes to making them.

The world is chock full of competing W-claims, including religious claims. They are claims to which we are both easily drawn and peculiarly vulnerable. If we step out into the marketplace of ideas as willing to accept someone’s testimony that they have psychic powers or a direct line to God as that they had baked beans for lunch, and our heads are soon going to fill up with nonsense. If we value truth, it’s important we apply science and reason as best we can - as, if you like, a filter. False beliefs may still get through, but subjecting claims – especially W-claims – to rational and/or scientific scrutiny before accepting them gives us our best chance of having mostly true beliefs.

Let’s now turn to some examples of some specifically religious claims that have failed to pass rational and/or scientific scrutiny.

C Science as a threat to religious belief

Many religious claims have been falsified, or at least shown to be rather less than well-founded, as a result of scientific investigation. Here are few examples:

Young Earth Creationism. The Young Earth Creationists (YEC) believe that the entire universe was created by God approximately 6,000 years ago (certainly less than 10,000 years ago). Their estimate is based on Biblical sources. In the 17th Century, using the Old and New Testaments as his source, Bishop James Ussher calculated that the moment of creation during the night before the 23rd October 4004 BC. Young Earth Creationism has since been empirically falsified in many ways by the cosmological, geological, biological, archeological and various other sciences. 

An Earth-centered universe. Back in the early 17th Century, the dominant cosmology, endorsed by the Catholic Church, placed the Earth at the centre of the universe. The other heavenly bodies, including the sun, revolved around it. This view was also supported by scripture. For example, Psalms 96:10 says “the world is established, it shall never be moved." And in Joshua 10:12-13, Joshua commands the sun to “stand still”, which suggests that the sun moves. This cosmology was rejected by Galileo (who was accused of rejecting it without proof, and was subsequently shown the instruments of torture and condemned to house imprisonment as a result). Science has, of course established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Galileo was right and the previously dominant religious view wrong.

The power of prayer. Many people believe in the power of petitionary prayer. For example, it is often claim that praying for people with a disease improves their chances of recovery. Yet recent rigorously-conducted large-scale scientific studies do not support this view. Indeed they undermine it. In 2006, American Heart Journalpublished the results of a $2.4 million experiment involving 1,802 heart-bypass patients, conducted under the leadership of Herbert Benson, a specialist who also believes in the medical efficacy of petitionary prayer. The results were unambiguous: prayer had no beneficial effect. A similar large-scale trial of patients undergoing angioplasty or cardiac catheterization also revealed prayer had no effect. That prayer has beneficial medical effects is a religious belief that can be scientifically tested. Tests strongly suggest it’s false.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Protest arrest of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh this coming Thursday NOW 2ND MAY

CFI UK will be part of the action taken world-wide on Thursday April 25th NOW RESCHEDULED 2ND MAY DUE TO DAY OF MOURNING ON 25TH FOR BUILDING COLLAPSE DHAKA). Details to follow. Do please take part. Here is a link to a piece on other action you can take: http://iheu.org/story/call-action-defend-bloggers-bangladesh 

UPDATE: Please get to the Bangladeshi High Commission on 28 Queen's Gate, London SW7 5JA (nearest tubes South Ken and Gloucester Road). Flyers available. 10am - 4pm.

Zapfino B for atheist bloggers in Bangladesh

Saturday, 20 April 2013

"Pros or Cons" Thoughts For the Modern "Sports Attorney" - Part I

Sports Law Blog will be publishing a 5-part series on the practice of sports law.  The series is co-authored by Peter Jarvis, a legal ethics and professional responsibility attorney with Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP in Portland, Oregon and Jason Davis, a California attorney currently residing in Seattle, Washington.  These posts will appear on Saturdays.  Here is the first one:


"Pros or Cons" Thoughts For The Modern "Sports Attorney"
Authored by Jason A. Davis, Esq. and Peter R. Jarvis, Esq. (all rights reserved)

Being a "sports attorney," in today's national professional sports scene can be a precarious balance of seeking the best advantage for your client, while ensuring that you maintain your sworn obligations as a licensed attorney. All attorneys owe ethical obligations, which are enforced by the state bar association(s) or the judicial system(s) in jurisdictions in which the attorney is licensed. In addition, some governmental agencies have their own rules and many civil and criminal statutes apply to lawyers. Just as in any sport, the most spectacular play can be overturned and players sanctioned or sent off the field if there was an infraction of the rules.

In the following series of articles, constituting four additional installments, we would like to highlight specific areas of concern that an attorney who serves a professional athlete/entertainer on a national scale may encounter. We hope to start the conversation that will lead to an enlightened approach of balancing responsibilities owed to the profession and the client.

To set the playing field, consider the following hypothetical:

Mega Star currently resides in New York and plays professional football for the Big Bruisers, and he has a long-standing relationship with Attorney Al, who is licensed in both New Jersey and New York. Mega's contract with the Big Bruisers is set to expire at the end of the season. With the end of Mega's career in the foreseeable future, he wants his next (and possibly the final) contract signing to be as lucrative as possible. Two other teams are trying to sign Mega for next season. One team is located in California, and the other in Texas. Mega also wants to start a motivational speaking business -- on the side for now but as a full-time endeavor after his professional career ends.

Mega asks Al to (1) negotiate possible contracts with (a) the California team, (b) the Texas team, (2) analyze possible state and federal tax implications of each. In addition, Mega wants Al to (3) organize a motivational speaking business and file the articles of incorporation in Delaware, and (4) review and advise him on a real estate purchase for a vacation home in Florida.

Over the next four installments, we will cover the common ethical obligations as it pertains to an attorney who practices on a national level. More specifically, we will cover questions concerning which jurisdiction's ethical rules may or do apply and the unauthorized practice of law.

Tune in next time to see how Al could/should ethically respond to Mega's requests.

--Jason A. Davis & Peter R. Jarvis

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Why fan speech matters

If you want proof that sports fan speech matters, that it has strong political content, and that the stands of sporting events are a site of genuine First Amendment activity, look no further than last night's Boston Bruins game, the first game played in Boston since the Marathon bombing.

Sporting events remain the only place in which adults regularly gather and engage in patriotic rituals, so the game marked one of the first ordinary events in which people could come together in an expression of patriotism, support, and healing in the wake of a tragedy. It is a great moment--and also an unquestionably political one and an unquestionably expressive one.

Should it matter that moments like this also give us obnoxious t-shirts and chants?

Monday, 15 April 2013

NCAA: Choosing the Interests of Coaches (Revenue) Over Students Yet Again

For years you have heard my ranting about the preposterous NCAA rules related to the ability of college athletes in men's basketball to properly evaluate their prospects in deciding to enter the NBA draft and forgo college eligibility.  Two years ago I wrote this piece in Huffington Post entitled "Transitioning From the NCAA to the NBA: Time for a Change in the Rules" that turned into this law review article in the Harvard Law School's Journal on Sports & Entertainment Law.

Today once again reminds us of how the NCAA chooses, yet again, to favor the interests of the high paid coaches over the students that they so publicly claim to protect and value.  While the NBA and NBPA have created the current "one and done" environment in men's basketball, the NCAA does an absolutely miserable job in allowing students to properly assess their prospects in making a wise decision as to whether or not to leave early.  How?  Well look at the dates for this process:

April 15th: Last day the NBA will provide an assessment, allowed under NCAA rules, of an underclassmen's prospects.

April 16th: Last day a student-athlete can withdraw from the NBA draft and retain their eligibility.

This provides a full day to make an assessment and, under NCAA rules, to do so without an agent.  OK, you'd then assume that the NBA's deadline to declare for, or withdraw from, this year's draft is imminent......right?  Nope.  Their deadlines are as follows:

April 28th: The last day a prospect can submit their name for this year's draft.  More importantly, is the following date...

June 17th: The last day a prospect can remove their name from the NBA draft.

What?  Yup, the NBA doesn't require someone decide until June 17th, a full TWO MONTHS, after the NCAA requires a college athlete make their intentions known.  You then, rightfully, ask why this gap?  Well, because college coaches wanted an early deadline to help them recruit should someone leave early.

I stand by my earlier statement, this is another example of the NCAA making decisions and rules for high profile, well paid, coaches, rather than the college athlete.  Or, as those of us on the basketball court may yell when blocking a shot...."CERT DENIED!"