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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

April Fools at Law School

I thought I'd kickoff my stint here with a post in honor of the day.  After all wouldn't want any more serious academic posts to get lost in all the April Fools humor circulating today.

I decided to take a look at how April Fools jokes have come up in legal cases, many of which are unfortunately far from being funny.  A few highlights (lowlights?):

  • For the criminal law prof: Winiarz v. State, 104 Nev. 43 (1988) (wife who killed husband claimed it was an accident done as part of an April Fools' routine gone wrong).
  • For the corporate law/first amendment profsDow Jones & Co., Inc v. Harrods, Ltd., 237 F.Supp.2d 394 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (British department store Harrods issued a press release that Chairman would issue an announcement about a plan to "float" Harrods, with journalists directed to contact "Loof Lirpa" (April Fool spelled backward).  On April 1, 2002 the website described a decision to build a ship version of the store to be moored on the bank of the Thames River.  Dow Jones didn't wait for the actual "announcement" and published an article reporting that Harrods planned to publicly list the company's shares.  Once they realized it was an April Fools Joke, the Dow Jones was forced to print a correction, but also printed another story saying if Harrods ever went public investors would be wise to question its every disclosure.  Defamation and other litigation ensued).
  • For the torts/advertisement/complex litigation prof: American Legacy Foundation v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 886 A.2d 1 (Del. Ch. 2005) (April 1st advertising distributed by non-profit organization created with the proceeds from the master settlement of lawsuits against the tobacco companies, in which an actor purporting to be a tobacco company executive announced the recall of all cigarettes, acknowledged the health hazards of smoking and stated that cigarettes would stay off the market until the industry could offer a safe product followed by a voiceover proclaiming "April fools" did not amount to 'vilification' of the tobacco industry in violation of the settlement agreement.)

 So in honor of April Fools Day, what are the best law-school appropriate April Fools jokes you have seen/heard/experienced within the Law School scene.  Any good jokes your students have played on you?  Any good jokes you have played on your students?  Any good jokes you have played on your colleagues?  Hopefully none of these are of the sort that would lead to litigation . . . 

Posted by Victoria Schwartz on April 1, 2014 at 04:38 PM | Permalink

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