The Veil Over Camelot

New Jersey v. H.L.M. (Superior Court of NJ, May 13, 2014)

This case involves the defendant H.L.M., who was arrested for removing her children from New Jersey in violation of the custody agreement with her ex-husband. She was stopped at the Canadian border and charged with first degree kidnapping as well as interference with custody. In a plea-deal, the state dropped the kidnapping charge and agreed to probation, counseling, and no contact with her children. The defendant then began “blogging [on] facebook” with apocalyptic quotes and references to Jeffrey Dalmer, Satan, and Adolph Hitler as well as references to her ex-husband and children.

At that point the judge agreed to modify the probation rules prohibiting her from referencing her ex-husband or the children on the blog. “You can talk about what you want to talk about, but don’t reference [J.M.] or the children.” A few months later, she began blogging again about her ex-husband and the children – but used the word “Camelot” to refer to them. The judge found a violation of probation.

You may be asking: how is this related? Answer, somewhat tangentially. It turns out that H.L.M. is also a former patent attorney and electrical engineer. In her appeal, H.L.M. argues that the no-blogging-about-children condition of probation was void for vagueness under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and is also an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech in violation of the First Amendment.

In its decision, the appellate court found the patent attorney aspect important – holding that fact lead to a conclusion that she “is clearly a person of more than ordinary intelligence capable of understanding whether her contemplated conduct is lawful.” The court also rejected the first amendment claim – finding that the condition is “narrowly tailored” to protect the victims without unduly limiting speech.

* Note, the image at the side is of the patented Chrysanthemum plant named Camelot. US PP5441.

36 thoughts on “The Veil Over Camelot

  1. There’s an interesting article in the May 12, 2014 New Yorker called “The End of Food.” The focus of the article is a Silicon Valley entrepeneur, Rob Rhinehart, and his liquid “food replacement” product, Soylent. What I found interesting was the critique (or, more accurately, decimation) of the conventional wisdom that patents are essential for entrepeneurial success or progress (Rhinehart published his formula “in the spirit of the ‘open source’ movement”).

    From the article: Rhinehart and his roommates turned to the Internet: they set up a crowd-funding campagin in which people could receive a week’s supply of manufactured Soylent for 65 dollarss. [They raised $100,000 in two hours]… In addition to the crowd-funding money, its production was financed by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, including Y Combinator and the blue-chip investment firm Andreesen Horowitz, which contributed a million dollars…..

    Sam Altman, of Y Combinator, mentioned Google and Facebook, and pointed out that search engines and social networks existed before both were created. “Most ideas, you can [argue], are not new,” he said. “Often, they just haven’t been executed or marketed right.”….

    Alexis Ohanian, a founder of the Web site Reddit and an investor in Soylent, described it as “the most brilliant marketing strategy ever, even though they didn’t think of it that way.” The legions of people tinkering with their own Soylent formulas at home … have become a fan base, improving the product and spreading awareness of it…. Rhinehart has a more philosophical take: “If someone else figures out a better way to make it, that’s still a win for humanity.” ….

    The company has ten thousand dollars in new orders coming in every day, and has started to become profitable.

    Anways, just some “food” for thought. ;)

      1. According to Rhinehart, the name was takent from the sci-fi book “Make Room! Make Room” and not the movie (which was inspired by the book). It’s an interesting marketing decision that is discussed in the article. Short version: the target audience is generally unaware of the cult Heston sci-fi movie (having been born two decades after its release). Do a google search for “soylent” and see what come up …

        1. For the benefit of those who don’t get the literary reference, the name of the food product implies it is made from dead people. Seems unlikely anyone other than a flim-flam man with a warped sense of humour would choose that name to market it as?

          1. Sorry.

            “Soylent, a name he came up with as a nod to the 1970s science-fiction film Soylent Green”

            From popsci, July 2013.

          2. Alun Seems unlikely anyone other than a flim-flam man with a warped sense of humour would choose that name to market it as?

            There’s a long history of successful marketing of products/services using unlikely names that might appear frivolous or edgy to consumers and non-consumers alike.

      1. – is it non-obvious?

        Two answers for you: (1) there are no claims that I’m aware of so it’s difficult to answer the question. Get online and find the formula and write a claim around it and then maybe we can discuss. My understanding is that the recipe is published for anyone to freely copy or improve upon — more likely Soylent is anticipated by Rhinehart’s own publications.

        (2) It must be non-obvious because look at all those pre-orders!!!! [<— mythological unsupportable nonsense created by judicial activists who really, really loved patents]

        – are we sure that no patent applications were filed

        I’m not sure. It’s easy to check though. I am 100% certain that many, many other failed entrepeneurs have patented all kinds of food replacement drinks.

        1. Yes MM, but his point is that it he couldn’t have patented it (and particularly if he knew this), then the open source comments are marketing.

    1. What I found interesting was the critique (or, more accurately, decimation) of the conventional wisdom that patents are essential for

      Nice strawman – only you post here with this “essential” plank Malcolm.

      How many times have I challenged you on this “but-for” rant of yours?

      1. How many times have I challenged you on this “but-for” rant of yours?

        “Challenged me”? That’s funny. I don’t know or care. Why would I?

        I do know that the concept of the essentiality of patents for innovation is something that the patent teabaggers fling around like candy on a very regular basis.

        Please let everyone know if you are so incredibly dishonest or naive that you require evidence of this.

        As a prequel to what awaits should you answer that question in the affirmative, I’ll remind you and everyone else that one of your favorite schticks is to imply that critics of, e.g., functional claimed computers and software patents, are somehow hypocritical because we use computers.

        1. I don’t… care…Please let everyone know if you are so incredibly dishonest or naive that you require evidence of this.

          Lovely denial plus AOOTWMD combination.

          As to the being hypocritical notion, you miss the point of wanting the benefit without wanting to afford the protection. Not sure how you are processing that as somehow indicative of hypocrisy in me pointing out your hypocrisy, but you have lived so long in your world of spin that the likely reason is that you just don’t know which way is up anymore.

        2. essentiality

          Again – the “but for” canard can be found on these pages put forth by you in your strawman arguments.

    1. You mean apart from her obvious mental problems? She may have possessed the intelligence to understand the injunction, but did anyone think to question whether she was aware, for example, that the judge was not a green-skinned alien from the planet Zzzzzzpft?

      Judges do hold attorneys to a higher standard. I have been accused by traffic court judges of being an attorney simply because I was the only non-attorney in the courtroom wearing a suit and tie, despite having the longest hair in the room of either gender. I sensed that saying “I’m only a patent agent, your honour” saved me from having the proverbial book thrown at me. Heaven help me if it was revealed that I’m also an electrical engineer!

  2. Too bad your summary states that the fact that HLM was a patent attorney was what led the court to conclude she was a person of “more than ordinary intelligence.” But the court stated that “Defendant, a former electrical
    engineer and patent attorney, is clearly a person of more than ordinary intelligence. . . .” so that the court’s statement about “intelligence” might have just as well been based on her status as an electrical engineer, a former electrical engineer, both a former electrical engineer and patent attorney–or none of the above. The court might have based its statement on her testimony or briefing, for example. Thus the implicit connection between patent-attorneyhood and intelligence does not really exist, eliminating the (far-fetched, in any case) justification for your post.

    Also, on another point, HLM would probably have been prohibited entry into Canada in any case, because Canada requires a notarized letter of permission from the other parent if one parent alone attempts to bring children into that country.

    1. “Also, on another point, HLM would probably have been prohibited entry into Canada in any case, because Canada requires a notarized letter of permission from the other parent if one parent alone attempts to bring children into that country.”

      My mom didn’t have any trouble what so ever “smuggling” me and my sister into Canada at Niagra Falls in this despicable manner, riding solo without husband in tow.

      1. The notarized letter requirement is a newer rule. If you are old enough to be blogging on this site, you likely were in Canada before they required a letter, or a passport.

  3. The veil of Camelot yields many questions (intersecting Kennedy and Obama and Mr. Smith – had he gone to Washington ;-) ):

    But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

    I’m sorry. My responses are limited. You must ask the right questions.

    (said in the best Dr. Lanning tones)

  4. Oh my…

    A First Amendment plea attempted to back up clearly harmful language is shot down…

    What next? Will modern social media tools be recognized as tools of advocacy that do not wave an attorney’s ethical duties not to dissemble or engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation?

    I can think of a particular person whose modus operandi of misrepresentations of law, misrepresentations of facts, and misrepresentations of what others post would be seriously affected if this type of ethical consideration were to be recognized by the bars of various states… (not to mention the cleansing effect that would occur on those same advocacy social media tools) ;-)

    1. Imagine for a moment if the responsibilities of being an attorney mandated a no-“engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” in correspondences involving social media (especially those addressed to a community clearly involved in legal advocacy)…

      Hmmmm

      1. I know and we have attorneys saying that software is natural laws that software has no structure among many other misrepresentations.

        1. …and academics who wish to proselytize (and yet remain unbuffeted by responses [hey, stop picking on me]) cannot be bothered to comment on baseline facts that go to the heart of the matter…

          …kid gloves and political correctness as a shield to critical scrutiny.

          (sometimes comments appear scathing because that is the appropriate response – sorry but being genteel is just not always appropriate)

          1. Re: “sorry but being genteel is just not always appropriate.”

            There are quite a few District Court judges who very strongly disagree with that, and not just in their courtrooms. I.e., including discourse between attorneys in general. Furthermore, mere exchanges of personal insults convince no one and accomplish nothing.

            1. (yawn)…

              So you say, paul, so you say.

              Now if everyone actually comported themselves as if they were in court and if intellectual honesty were the order of the day, then perchance I might agree with you.

              As it is, the real world intrudes.

              Wake up.

              (and don’t get me wrong – your call for civility is not bad in itself, it is just extremely pollyannaish of you). I would draw your attention to the fact that ad hominem exists because, in part, it is effective (and even appropriate in some contexts). If it were not effective, it would have disappeared a long, long long time ago.

      2. Imagine for a moment if the responsibilities of being an attorney mandated a no-”engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” in correspondences involving social media (especially those addressed to a community clearly involved in legal advocacy)…

        Always good for a laugh when TB starts talking about “ethics

        Maybe you and Professor Hricik can form some kind of thinktank, raise up some money, and start going after attorneys who “misrepresent” stuff on social media.

        Oops, I forgot: Prof. Hricik isn’t certifiable, like you. Never mind!

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