Deborah and Baby
It shouldn’t have to be said, but if you use someone else’s work: you need to get permission. The Hollywood Reporter’s legal roundup today included two copyright cases that probably shouldn’t have had to be litigated. The first was in regard to Baby Drive, the excellent 2017 action film from Edgar Wright that makes extensive use of music to drive the story. It’s great, and it’s up for a few Oscars. The main love interest is named Debora, played by Lily James, and so the film naturally included a 1968 song called “Debora” by T.Rex. Except they didn’t clear it first. The oversight was discovered when they went to get permission to use it on the Soundtrack, and the son of the songwriter sued Sony (T.Rex frontman Marc Bolan had passed away). The matter was resolved at mediation, suggesting that his heir received just compensation for using the song.
And further down in that same article, THR reports that Beyoncé settled with the estate of Anthony Barré, whose spoken word recorded under the name “Messy Mya” was used in her hit song “Formation“. Both of these instances are pretty straightforward copyright infringements, and I suspect the fault is not on Beyoncé or Wright, rather it was likely the studios who failed to get clearance and to compensate the original artists before going forward. Both suits have been settled, and you can resume listening to “Formation” and watching Baby Driver” guilt-free.
Seriously, go watch Baby Driver if you haven’t, it’s excellent.
I guess I’ll throw in a little criminal law- if Baby had been charged in Florida state court (the movie is set in Atlanta, GA), he would’ve been facing mandatory life in prison without parole for Felony Murder (even though he didn’t do the shootings). Regardless of the people who spoke up for him, the movie would not have ended on a positive note if it had been set in Miami…
After nearly a month of trial, and a second day of deliberation (the jury went home after a couple hours of deliberations yesterday evening), Lisa Troemner has been found not guilty of second degree murder. There was a chance the jury could have given her a lesser charge, but the Defense’s justifiable use of force case persuaded them, or at least gave them a reasonable doubt. In addition to Ms. Troemner testifying to her relationship with Trevor Smith, she stated that she was scared of him, that he was abusive and controlling, even violent the evening leading up to the killing (he had a BAC over .30). The Defense also presented expert testimony that she was suffering from battered spouse syndrome and even forensic expert testimony that indicated there had been a struggle at the apartment. The State countered with a week’s worth of rebuttal testimony, including counter-experts regarding battered spouse syndrome, and testimony from friends and family of Trevor Smith that in fact Troemner was the jealous, controlling party.
Troemner was facing life in prison if convicted of second degree murder, but she will likely be out of jail this afternoon. This is a huge win for Donald Day and the defense team, and another big Collier County loss for the State already this year… and expensive after a month of trial. Troemner had been in custody since the date of the arrest, in December, 2014. There was the possibility of a lesser charge, but the jury decided completely in her favor, complete acquittal. There is no appeal on a not guilty verdict.
First reported by Hot Story: https://twitter.com/hotstorycrime/status/962027561055219713
After about a week of testimony demonstrating that Lisa Troemner killed her then boyfriend, Trevor Smith, she then testified and her attorneys put on a week or so worth of testimony, including experts, that argued she was justified due to hear fear of Mr. Smith. That’s usually about where a case would normally wrap up, but the State has now spent a about a week on their rebuttal case. The have put on their own expert testimony countering the battered spouse claims, and testimony from friends and family that counter Troemner’s claims that Smith was abusive and controlling. The state countered with evidence that Troemner was jealous, and introduced test messages support their theory. Troemner testified the other day that Smith hulked out with rage, and the investigating officer saw a door that had been broken from its hinges, and it was determined he had a blood alcohol level over .300.
The State rested yesterday afternoon, and closing arguments will being this morning. The State is pushing for second degree murder, and the Defense is claiming that she should be acquitted under justifiable use of force (self defense). The jury could find her guilty as charged, which would mean up to life in prison, they could find her guilty of a lesser, such as manslaughter, which would likely result in a shorter prison sentence, or they could find her not guilty. After nearly a month-long trial, the jury may be out for a while, but a resolution is nearly at hand.
The procedure for Florida’s Death Penalty was found to be unconstitutional, despite efforts to rework it, until March of last year, when a procedure that meets Constitutional muster was approved and signed into law. But what to do with the cases that had been sentenced under the old procedure. Florida’s Supreme Court ended up splitting the baby, basing their decision on when the US Supreme Court issued their controlling decision in Ring v. Arizona back in 2002. The Florida Court decided that the rule would be applied retroactively to cases decided after the Ring decision, but that individuals sentenced before then are out of luck: even though the Court had already decided the procedure used to sentence them was unconstitutional.
The decision is based on the rule that decisions based on procedure will not be retroactive. In the last several weeks, the Court has been busy issuing ruling after ruling that declines to apply the rule announced in the Hurst case to pre-2002 convictions. This column from the Tampa Bay Times takes a look at the spate of opinions that have recently been released, and the sometimes incongruous results. It’s definitely worth a read.
ABC-7 tracked down the body cam video of the guy who passed out in the McDonald’s drive thru a few weeks ago. It is his third DUI arrest in the last three years. Employees called cops after Christopher Bidzinski fell asleep in the parking lot, waiting for the food he had ordered. When officers arrived, he told them to take him to jail, and at one point, attempted a cartwheel while officers were trying to conduct field sobriety tests. The entire interaction with the cops was caught on bodycam, and even they can’t help laughing.
Not only does Bidzinski have his own arrests, it appears he was struck by a vehicle a couple years ago while crossing the street when he was intoxicated. It’s clear he has a major alcohol problem: he tells the cops that he deserves to go to jail. He’s been in for three weeks right now, and some time in jail is a major part of getting him sober, but punishment alone is not enough: he will need major, long-term counseling help to stop being a danger to himself and to others.
The Defendant in the murder of Trevor Smith on Marco Island, has taken the stand in her own Defense. Lisa Troemner had previously admitted to stabbing her then-boyfriend to death, and her attorney indicated that she claims to be acting in self defense. She is now on the stand answering questions, as she tries to convince the jury her actions were justified.
Last week, the state rested, and the defense started presenting their case, including testimony from an expert regarding the effects of drugs and alcohol. The Defense has maintained that Ms. Troemner was acting in self-defense, but the best way for them to convince a jury is if the jury finds her testimony credible. She faces life in prison if the jury does not feel that her actions were justified and finds her guilty as charged. She could also end up with a lesser included offense, such as manslaughter, which would carry a lesser maximum sentence. NDN’s Patrick Riley is live tweeting from the courtroom.
Fort Myers police received a call from Barbara Harris and responded to a home, where Ms. Harris indicated the had just purchased an abandoned property. She showed the responding officer documents from the property appraiser that indicated that she was the owner, and the officer told her she could enter the house. She forced the lock and opened the door, setting off an alarm, and then asked the officer to make sure there was no one inside. The officer did, and observed that the house was fully furnished, which was odd since Ms. Harris had claimed that it was abandoned.
Not long after that, a woman showed up with her family, and said, that no, the house was hers. She explained that her family had built the house, and that they certainly had not sold it, and provided documentation that they had been living there. The officer told Ms. Harris to stay away from the house. It appears Ms. Harris did stay away, but she made repeated contacts with FMPD to try to obtain the house.
Ultimately, the homeowner did her own digging, and was able to locate a forged warranty deed that Ms. Harris had filed with the clerk, and used to get the property appraiser to incorrectly display the property owner. It was a good thing she did, because by the time a detective went looking, the false documents had already been purged. It would have been much harder to prove the case without the owners own detective work.
Barbara Harris, who also used the name Barbara Jeffers, Barbara Jeffrey, and Barbara Davis in her scheme was convicted at trial this week. She faced up to 40 years for Theft, Burglary, and some forgery related offenses. There doesn’t seem to be any media coverage of the trial testimony, or what her defense might have been. She had told the detective she’d meet with him, but blew him off. I’m not sure how this case ended up going to trial… perhaps she didn’t want to accept what was probably an offer that included prison time. Regardless, the most amazing thing about this is the audacity of someone to forge their own deed, and then call the cops to try to help them steal a house!