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Xbox 360 Case Kills 'Death Knell' Strategy

If you were playing 'Call of Duty,' what would be the point of pausing the game right before taking a lethal hit?

If your strategy was to come back later to try some new move, you were still going to die. The game won't let you avoid an inevitable death.

That's kind of how things played out in the U.S. Supreme Court in Microsoft v. Baker. Here's what happened to the plaintiffs, who claimed their Xbox 360 consoles scratched their game discs.

When to Request Judicial Recusal?

If your judge wants to hold you in contempt, you might want to request judicial recusal.

But if you haven't made the request before such an ominous turn of events, you have probably waited too long. Trying to toss a judge off your case as a last ditch maneuver can be like tossing a grenade: if you don't throw it far enough ... well, yeah.

Judges generally have discretion whether to recuse themselves from cases. So unless you can show they have an unfair bias early on, you are usually going to get what's coming to you.

Advising Clients on the Do's and Don'ts of Keeping an Injury Diary

It's an adage that some clients seem to know instinctively: put everything in writing.

But before your personal injury client writes too much, sit down and discuss some of the do's and don'ts of keeping a diary.

It's the kind of thing that could make or break your case because you never know who's going to read it. Here's a checklist:

Should Jurors Be Removed for Crying?

After a police dog named Rocco was stabbed to death, jurors at the trial of his accused killer listened to a recording of the dog barking.

It was too much for one juror, who started to cry. The defendant's attorney asked the judge to remove the juror, but the judge refused and an appeals court affirmed the ruling.

"The showing of emotion, in and of itself, during upsetting testimony, does not require juror dismissal," the Pennsylvania appeals court said.

The court said the judge also instructed the jury not to be swayed by emotion, bias, or prejudice. But do jurors always separate their emotions from their deliberations?

Shortcut to Persuasive Writing: Follow Hemingway

There is a shortcut to persuasive writing, and it's been around for 100 years.

It's like we got lost along the way, retreading the same old path of legal writing. Heretofore's and therefore's later, many lawyers still don't get it. Perhaps we are too proud to admit that we need editing.

We should take a page from Ernest Hemingway, one of the most influential writers of the past century. He was not a lawyer -- which may be one of the reasons he was a great writer -- but he was a master of concise and simple prose, which is the key.

The legal profession has a drinking problem. More than one in five attorneys is a problem drinker, according to a study by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, and rates of alcoholism are much higher in attorneys than in the general public.

But attorneys aren't the only legal professionals with drinking problems, as recent news regarding a federal judge in Louisiana reminds us. U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi was removed from the bench and, recently disclosed documents show, ordered to treatment for alcoholism.

First Murder Trial? Consider the Facts

Stephanie Morales, a 32-year-old prosecutor handling her first murder trial, looked across the courtroom at her opponent -- the community's best known criminal defense attorney.

James Broccoletti , who had been practicing criminal law longer than his opponent had been alive, was defending his fourth client against murder charges in three months. All three of his other cases ended in acquittal or dismissal.

"There seems to be somewhat of a mismatch as far as the lawyer for the commonwealth and the lawyer for the defense," said former Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Bryant. "Experience is very important."

So how did Morales do in her first murder trial against the toughest opponent in town? Here are some things to remember:

The Challenge of Lawyers Seeking Accommodations for Disabilities

Working from a wheelchair, trial lawyer Carol Steinberg strained to hear the judge as she met in a sidebar with opposing counsel. She could not see the judge because of the elevated bench, and instead sat face-to-face with a wooden panel.

"As I stared at that wood in front of me, with the angry voice of my opponent and the obliging voice of the young judge above, I had one recurring thought: Maybe it's time to do something else," she recalled. "I felt I had no business trying a case in a wheelchair."

Steingberg recently chronicled her challenges as a disabled lawyer in an opinion piece for the New York Times. She has tried 50 cases, despite the obstacles from multiple sclerosis over the past 12 years. Like many disabled attorneys, it has been a battle of accommodation if not discrimination.

When it comes to housing and development, there is plenty of uncertainty right now. Will mortgage rates continue to rise? What will happen to affordable housing tax credits? What's in store now that Dr. Ben Carson could be taking his neurosurgery skills to the Department of Housing and Urban Development?

We don't have a crystal ball, but we do have one of the best ways to keep up with the latest housing and development news: Thomson Reuters' Housing and Development Reporter, a comprehensive newsletter published 24 times a year, covering the latest developments in housing and development.

Are Solo Lawyers Entrepreneurs?

There is a debate raging among lawyers about whether solo practitioners are entrepreneurs. But come on now, in the immortal words of Rodney King, "Can we all just get along?"

As Black History Month reminds us of the more divisive issues of our times, are we really debating the entrepreneurial nuances of law practice? With apologies to Allen Iverson, we're talking about practice! We're talking about practice! We're talking about practice!

Somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous -- which is the internet -- legal minds are dissing each other about the difference between a lawyer who hangs out his shingle and a person who bakes cupcakes. Here, mercifully, is a summary: