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Fitbit Tracker to the Witness Stand

First it was Alexa and now it is Fitbit -- these smart devices are going to court to catch alleged killers.

Alexa, the voice of Amazon's digital assistant, made the news last year when prosecutors subpoenaed her data to find out if she "overheard" an accused murderer. Fitbit, the fitness tracker, is at the center of a new murder case because she may reveal the victim's last movements.

Richard Dabate, the accused, said that a masked intruder shot his wife Connie Dabate. Her Fitbit, however, tells a different story.

"The Fitbit could be the star witness in all of this," reported CNN.

What's your preferred way of communicating with clients? An in-person meeting? On the phone? Over email? Through a client portal? My guess is, not the last one. But maybe it should be.

Client portals can provide a safer, easier way to keep in touch with clients, avoiding some of the dangers of email. Here's what you should know about them.

Lawyers love to get worked up about obscure grammar and style rules, almost as much as they like to get in a huff over obscure laws. (Emoluments, anyone?) There's the long-running fight pitting case law aficionados against the caselaw'ers. A recent First Circuit ruling that was decided on the lack of an Oxford comma opened up a new front in that ongoing war. But frankly, that stuff is old news.

The newest major legal writing fight revolves around one of the most pressing issues facing lawyers today: Should you put one or two spaces after a period?

Police Get Search Warrant for Everyone Who Googled a Fraud Victim's Name

Do not Google these words: "Douglas" and "passport photo."

If you do, you could find yourself on the wrong end of a search warrant. The Edina Police Department has obtained a search warrant for anyone who Googled that name in connection with a theft of $28,500 from a Minnesota bank earlier this year.

"Douglas" is not the suspect; he is the victim. Police have concluded that the suspect Googled the victim's full name to search for a passport photo. The suspect then used a downloaded photo to create a fake passport, which was presented to the Spire Credit Union to complete a fraudulent wire transfer.

When you think of airport lawyers, if you ever think of airport lawyers, you might imagine some government attorneys with the FAA, or maybe a highly specialized land use attorney. But, given the hubbub caused by President Trump's recent travel ban, airport lawyers have taken on a whole new meaning -- and prominence. They're the attorneys who ran to the nation's airports the weekend after the president signed an executive order limiting immigration and travel from seven majority-Muslim nations. The ones who filed habeas petitions, coordinated with family members, spoke to the media.

Now, a new website created by attorneys and software developers has been launched to connect travelers impacted by the executive order directly with pro bono attorneys looking to help. Its name, of course, is AirportLawyer.org.

Court OK's Class Action Over PACER Fees

Maybe sometime in e-history, a government worker thought the cost to access a court document electronically should be roughly the same as the cost to print a page.

At least for Public Access to Court Electronic Records: PACER charged 7 cents a page in 1998. The fee increased incrementally thereafter, and today it is 10 cents a page.

It's about the same you pay to copy a page at the courthouse copy machine, which is stocked with paper by the court. Except for one incongruence: PACER users pay for their own paper when they download and print documents.

Maybe this observation doesn't exactly explain the problem with PACER, but there is a real problem with its fee schedule. A federal judge has certified a class action against the federal government for allegedly overcharging users for access. It's the fourth case in a recent spate of claims against PACER fees.

Video Surveillance Cameras in Lawsuits Everywhere

Big Brother and his ever-watchful video-surveillance camera have been around since at least 1984.

But in a new millennium where everybody with a cell phone has a video camera, surveillance has even transcended Big Brother. Not only may government be watching, but the kid walking down the street may be policing the neighborhood. So what's up with that, legally speaking?

In terms of usable evidence, it means that you never know who's going to catch you in the act. Or better yet, get a camera and be prepared to act.

Future Law Career: Privacy Law Specialist?

To think that a good privacy lawyer could possibly have saved the election for Hillary Clinton ...

After hackers got into her email, it was the beginning of the end for the presidential nominee. A few non-secure messages, an ill-timed FBI press release, a really bad connection to a guy named Weiner, and the rest is history.

We could what-if the Clinton situation all day, but the point is that people need privacy protection more than ever. And so the Information Age is giving birth to a new legal creature: the privacy law specialist.

Blockchain technology is set to transform industries and institutions throughout the world. What started as an idea synonymous with Bitcoin, the virtual currency, is now making its way into everything from contract drafting, to election monitoring, to land registry systems.

So what is this revolutionary technology and what do lawyers need to know about it? Thankfully, there's now an answer, in the form of a Blockchain guide for people just like you.

When we think of Nobel Prize winners, we tend to think of astrophysicists and chemists, poets and peacemakers, but rarely legal professionals. There is, after all, no Nobel Prize for law.

But the legal industry got some special recognition from the Nobel committee yesterday, as the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom "for their contributions to contract theory." That's right, better contracts won the Nobel Prize.