Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Requests a New Trial

Elizabeth Holmes — the founder of blood testing startup Theranos and the poster child for misleading investors, media, and innocent people looking for medical care through a web of deceit — wants a do-over. She is requesting a new trial, according to a document filed Tuesday in the Southern District Court of California. Gizmodo reports: The motion for a new trial, authored by Holmes’ attorneys, hinges on “newly discovered evidence,” specifically: the alleged testimony regrets of Adam Rosendorff. Rosendorff was a lab director at Theranos and later, testified as a key witness in the case against Holmes and her ex-boyfriend/partner in crime Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. His original testimony lasted multiple days and emphasized the pressure that Theranos employees were under to demonstrate the faulty diagnostic technology worked, even when it didn’t.

“I felt that it was a question on my integrity as a physician not to remain there and to continue to bolster results I essentially didn’t have faith in,” Rosendorff said while on the witness stand in 2021, according to CNBC. “I came to understand that management was not sincere in diverting resources to solve issues.” Now, Holmes and her lawyers are claiming that Rosendorff left a voicemail and then showed up at Holmes’ residence on August 8 in a desperate bid to communicate that he “felt he had done something wrong, apparently in connection with Ms. Holmes’ trial.” The motion, supposedly paraphrasing Rosendorff, says that the former Theranos employee stated, “the government made things seem worse than they were.”

In the document, Holmes’ legal team wrote, “Under any interpretation of his statements, the statements warrant a new trial under Rule 33. But, at a minimum, and to the extent the Court has any doubt about whether a new trial is required, the Court should order an evidentiary hearing and permit Ms. Holmes to subpoena Dr. Rosendorff to testify about his concerns.” Holmes was found guilty in January on four of 11 charges defrauding the company’s investors and patients. She was found not guilty on four counts.

In July, Balwani was found guilty of 12 counts of conspiracy and fraud against certain investors and patients.

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Federal Court Upholds First Amendment Protections For Student’s Off-Campus Social Media Post

“Students should not have to fear expulsion for expressing themselves on social media after school and off-campus, but that is just what happened to the plaintiff in C1.G v. Siegfried,” writes Mukund Rathi via the Electronic Frontier Foundation (DFF). “Last month, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the student’s expulsion violated his First Amendment rights. The court’s opinion affirms what we argued in an amicus brief last year.” From the report: We strongly support the Tenth Circuit’s holding that schools cannot regulate how students use social media off campus, even to spread “offensive, controversial speech,” unless they target members of the school community with “vulgar or abusive language.”

The case arose when the student and his friends visited a thrift shop on a Friday night. There, they posted a picture on Snapchat with an offensive joke about violence against Jews. He deleted the post and shared an apology just a few hours later, but the school suspended and eventually expelled him. […] The Tenth Circuit held the First Amendment protected the student’s speech because “it does not constitute a true threat, fighting words, or obscenity.” The “post did not include weapons, specific threats, or speech directed toward the school or its students.” While the post spread widely and the school principal received emails about it, the court correctly held that this did not amount to “a reasonable forecast of substantial disruption” that would allow regulation of protected speech.

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Judge Orders Waterloo Business To Name Customers Who Doxxed, Threatened Bungie Employees

An innocent tweet about a wildly popular online multiplayer game led to a terrifying real-life campaign of doxxing and death threats against employees of game company Bungie. The Record reports: Two employees of Bungie, the American company behind “Destiny 2” — a first-person shooter with 40 million users — recently convinced an Ontario judge to order Waterloo-based TextNow to name its customers who made “racist and serious physical threats” against them. TextNow offers users anonymous phone service. […] The two employees sought an “urgent and confidential” court order requiring TextNow to name the customers who made the threats. The judge agreed on June 15 but waited a month before releasing his reasons due to “the serious nature of the allegations of danger.” TextNow collects information about each user, including email address, phone number, IP address, credit card number and logs of calls and texts.

The judge said the employees don’t plan to sue the users in Ontario. “Whether they sue in the U.S. or just give the name to the police, I am satisfied that the exceptional equitable remedy ought to be available to identify people who harass others, with base racism, who dox, abuse personal information, and make overt threats of physical harm and death,” he said. “Our mission is to provide everyone with an affordable way to communicate, and we place a high value on the safety and privacy of our users,” a TextNow spokesperson said in an email to The Record. “From time to time, we receive lawful requests for information. We comply with all valid requests as required by law.”

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Study Finds Wikipedia Influences Judicial Behavior

A new study attempts to measure how knowledge gleaned from Wikipedia may play out in one specific realm: the courts. MIT News reports: A team of researchers led by Neil Thompson, a research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), recently came up with a friendly experiment: creating new legal Wikipedia articles to examine how they affect the legal decisions of judges. They set off by developing over 150 new Wikipedia articles on Irish Supreme Court decisions, written by law students. Half of these were randomly chosen to be uploaded online, where they could be used by judges, clerks, lawyers, and so on — the “treatment” group. The other half were kept offline, and this second group of cases provided the counterfactual basis of what would happen to a case absent a Wikipedia article about it (the “control”). They then looked at two measures: whether the cases were more likely to be cited as precedents by subsequent judicial decisions, and whether the argumentation in court judgments echoed the linguistic content of the new Wikipedia pages.

It turned out the published articles tipped the scales: Getting a public Wikipedia article increased a case’s citations by more than 20 percent. The increase was statistically significant, and the effect was particularly strong for cases that supported the argument the citing judge was making in their decision (but not the converse). Unsurprisingly, the increase was bigger for citations by lower courts — the High Court — and mostly absent for citations by appellate courts — the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. The researchers suspect this is showing that Wikipedia is used more by judges or clerks who have a heavier workload, for whom the convenience of Wikipedia offers a greater attraction.
“To our knowledge, this is the first randomized field experiment that investigates the influence of legal sources on judicial behavior. And because randomized experiments are the gold standard for this type of research, we know the effect we are seeing is causation, not just correlation,” says Thompson, the lead author of the study. “The fact that we wrote up all these cases, but the only ones that ended up on Wikipedia were those that won the proverbial ‘coin flip,’ allows us to show that Wikipedia is influencing both what judges cite and how they write up their decisions.”

“Our results also highlight an important public policy issue,” Thompson adds. “With a source that is as widely used as Wikipedia, we want to make sure we are building institutions to ensure that the information is of the highest quality. The finding that judges or their staffs are using Wikipedia is a much bigger worry if the information they find there isn’t reliable.”

The paper describing the study has been published in ” The Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence.”

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California Parents Could Soon Sue For Social Media Addiction

California could soon hold social media companies responsible for harming children who have become addicted to their products, permitting parents to sue platforms like Instagram and TikTok for up to $25,000 per violation under a bill that passed the state Assembly on Monday. The Associated Press reports: The bill defines “addiction” as kids under 18 who are both harmed — either physically, mentally, emotionally, developmentally or materially — and who want to stop or reduce how much time they spend on social media but they can’t because they are preoccupied or obsessed with it. Business groups have warned that if the bill passes, social media companies would most likely cease operations for children in California rather than face the legal risk.

The proposal would only apply to social media companies that had at least $100 million in gross revenue in the past year, appearing to take aim at social media giants like Facebook and others that dominate the marketplace. It would not apply to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu or to companies that only offer email and text messaging services. […] The bill gives social media companies two paths to escape liability in the courts. If the bill becomes law, it would take effect on Jan. 1. Companies that remove features deemed addictive to children by April 1 would not be responsible for damages. Also, companies that conduct regular audits of their practices to identify and remove features that could be addictive to children would be immune from lawsuits. “Monday’s vote is a key — but not final — step for the legislation,” adds the report. “The bill now heads to the state Senate, where it will undergo weeks of hearings and negotiations among lawmakers and advocates. But Monday’s vote keeps the bill alive this year.”

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Judge Rules California Law Requiring Women On Corporate Boards Is Unconstitutional

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that California’s landmark law requiring women on corporate boards is unconstitutional. CBS News reports: Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis said the law that would have required boards have up to three female directors by this year violated the right to equal treatment. The ruling was dated Friday. The conservative legal group Judicial Watch had challenged the law, claiming it was illegal to use taxpayer funds to enforce a law that violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by mandating a gender-based quota.

The state defended the law as constitutional saying it was necessary to reverse a culture of discrimination that favored men and was put in place only after other measures failed. The state also said the law didn’t create a quota because boards could add seats for female directors without stripping men of their positions. Although the law carried potential hefty penalties for failing to file an annual report or comply with the law, a chief in the secretary of state’s office acknowledged during the trial that it was toothless.

The law required publicly held companies headquartered in California to have one member who identifies as a woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019. By January 2022, boards with five directors were required to have two women and boards with six or more members were required to have three women. The Women on Boards law, also known by its bill number, SB826, called for penalties ranging from $100,000 fines for failing to report board compositions to the California secretary of state’s office to $300,000 for multiple failures to have the required number of women board members. Fewer than half the nearly 650 applicable corporations in the state reported last year that they had complied. More than half didn’t file the required disclosure statement, according to the most recent report.

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‘Club Penguin Rewritten’ Allegedly Shut Down By Disney, Website Seized By London Police

“Club Penguin Rewritten,” a popular remake of Club Penguin enjoyed by thousands of gamers, has been seized by the City of London Police, with three people in connection with the site’s shuttering reportedly arrested for allegedly distributing copyrighted material. “Over 140,000 users were members of a Discord server for the game until today, when every message on the Discord disappeared,” reports TechCrunch. From the report: In 2007, Disney purchased Club Penguin — the children’s RPG that served as my first introduction to online fandom — for a whopping $700 million. Even then, as a child with little context about tech industry acquisitions, the purchase seemed foreboding (at least my friends thought so on the Miniclip forums, where I fraudulently claimed to be 13). But eventually, those of us who were dedicated fans of virtual sledding games and dance parties grew out of it, and after once boasting 200 million users, the game was shut down due to lack of interest in 2017. Disney tried to shuttle remaining players to a new mobile game called Club Penguin Island, but it only lasted for a year. But ever since the end of Club Penguin — when the iceberg finally tipped in a strangely emotional moment — there have always been remakes out there for nostalgic adults to relive their days of collecting puffles, dancing in the pizza shop and speed-running bans.

Only one message on the Discord remains, posted early this morning by an admin: “CPRewritten is shutting down effective immediately due to a full request by Disney,” the admin said. “We have voluntarily given control over the website to the police for them to continue their copyright investigation.” TechCrunch reached out to the City of London Police and Disney to verify these claims but did not hear back before publication. In 2020, Disney shut down “Club Penguin Online,” another copy of the game that acquired over a million new players during the pandemic.

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