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Of Microsoft, tort reform and Darva and Rick

A TV legal analyst meets the Web

April 28, 2000
Web posted at: 9:12 a.m. EDT (1312 GMT)

CNN -- On April 3, we got the word at CNN that the Microsoft ruling would be released around 5 p.m. In the past, that meant we would send messengers to the courthouse and wait until they brought it back to the studio to review it.

No more. Now, such decisions are posted on the Internet and we are immediately on the air reporting and analyzing theses important legal developments. As Bob Dylan said, The times they are a-changing, and so today, kicking and screaming this old style lawyer is crossing into cyberspace as a regular columnist for CNN Interactive's new legal page.

Someone once defined a lawyer as as a person who enjoyed listening to the sound of his own voice. You won't hear my voice here at the Law Center -- at least for now --but you can read my words, in a setting and with a readership that was unthinkable just a short while ago.

This column is kind of scary and humbling for me. You see, CNN is giving me space on its legal web page to express my thoughts on anything having to do with law. And I define law pretty broadly. So while I might write about George W. Bushs plans about tort reform (I don't like them because I don't think we need them), I also might write about whether we have too many lawyers or how we can make the legal system work in a way that is less expensive and fairer to those who have limited resources.

I'm much more interested in law as it defines our culture. I have always believed that what the Supreme Court does has more import on our daily lives than what Congress does. After all, its the Supreme Court that tells Congress whether its legislation is constitutionally permissible. Look at Roe v. Wade. for example. It was the Supreme Court that found a right to privacy within the constitution, not Congress.

However, just so you don't think this column will be too dry and legal, let me tell you that my favorite story of 2000 so far is Darva and Rick and how to marry a multi-millionaire. The story itself doesn't have much to do with law (although it could get us into all sorts of legal issues from pre-nuptial agreements to annulment), but it sure tells us a lot about ourselves. Just think, it used to be good enough if you could simply marry a millionaire. Now, only a multi-millionaire will do.

The unique thing about the Internet is that it allows us to explore a story from more angles than ever before possible in a mass medium. The depth of information is limitless.

I admit that I see the Internet the same way the cave men saw fire. They knew they needed it, it kept them warm, it gave them light. But every now and then, when they got a little too close, they got burned. My job will be to spread a little heat and light while not getting so infatuated with my own words that I get singed.

I expect that you will tell me what you think. No longer can I hide safely behind a camera. Interactive is the word of this column, and if it is to truly work, then I will need your response, which you will be able to e-mail directly to me. So be gentle; this is my first time in cyberspace, and I hope its as good for you as it will be for me.

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