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Space Education

First Space Lawyer Graduates 188

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the great-more-lawyers dept.
PHPNerd writes "Over at space.com is an interesting article about the first space lawyer. He graduated from the University of Mississippi. 'Any future space lawyer might have to deal with issues ranging from the fallout over satellite shoot-downs to legal disputes between astronauts onboard the International Space Station. The expanding privatization of the space sector may also pose new legal challenges [...] "We are particularly proud to be offering these space law certificates for the first time, since ours is the only program of its kind in the U.S. and only one of two in North America," said Samuel Davis, law dean at the University of Mississippi.'"
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First Space Lawyer Graduates

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  • by crazybit (918023) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:13PM (#23383986)
    a new breed of lawyers
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:20PM (#23384078)
      It seems that maritime law is very similar if we can discount aliens.

      Disputes between citizens of different countries are already resolved on the high seas by maritime law. Dumping too.

      Space law just sounds like a degree cooked up by one of those internet universities that send you a pdf degree.

      • by jtroutman (121577)
        When was the last time a ship landed on someone's house?
        • by davolfman (1245316) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:49PM (#23384496)
          I'm sure it's happened. They call it "running aground".
        • "When was the last time a ship landed on someone's house?"

          KATRINA to answer your question. LOTS of ships, boats, barges and other craft landed over holy hell amounts of "land" property. As for the issues of a space lawyer, if you think private space travel and space tourism will not create new cases for law, you are mistaken. What happens when Virgin Galactic runs into a Chinese spy satellite? I know this sounds silly, but someone has to get to the nitty gritty of working on such a case. As for letting m
      • by frosty_tsm (933163) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:45PM (#23385158)
        Maritime Law does cover aliens if you treat them as "natives" like the colonials did.

        Trade with them, enslave them, and/or slaughter them.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by $0.02 (618911)
        As I remember correctly when a dispute on a ship happens a law of the country under which flag the ship sails is applied. Following that logic a dispute in space shuttle would be under jurisdiction of the USA. But what about ISS? Is that similar to a dispute in Antarctica or UN building?
      • by Steve Hamlin (29353) on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:10PM (#23387306) Homepage

        Don't critique that which you do not know.

        The University of Mississippi School of Law [olemiss.edu] "offers the only dedicated aerospace law curriculum in the nation from an American Bar Association-accredited law school, and requires courses on U.S. space and aviation law, international space and aviation law, and remote sensing; participation in the publication of the Journal of Space Law; and independent research. The National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law was founding in 1999."

        The faculty and staff look very well experienced [olemiss.edu]: international treaties, UN, regulatory exp.; aerospace, aviation, & remote sensing legal work; governmental, public policy groups and private sector.

        Curriculum [olemiss.edu] from the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law [olemiss.edu] :

        Remote Sensing Law: "Remote sensing is a valuable technology in science, foreign policy, national security, and commerce. This course provides an overview of international and domestic remote sensing law and identifies issues in the United States and the international community."

        U.S. Domestic Space Law: "This course covers the most developed body of domestic space law in the world: that of the United States. It addresses the nation's civil and military programs and offers a wide variety of commercial activites: launches, remote sensing, and satellite communications, among others."

        International Space Law: "This course provides an overview of current international space law in U.N. resolutions and treaties and customary law. It identifies legal theory and principles used in the advancement of civil, military, and commercial space activities."

        Journal of Space Law (practical): "The Journal of Space Law is an academic review of national and international scope, focusing on the many aspects of space, remote sensing, and aerospace law. Research, writing, and editing assignments, and other duties necessary to the operation of the Journal of Space Law. One hour credited for each term of participation to maximum of 4 hours. Limitation: credit not available if enrolled in the Mississippi Law Journal."

        RTFA before uninformed commentary. HTH.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Fengpost (907072)
        Actually, there are numerous space related treaties signed between nations. International lawyer with good familiarities of those treaties is probably needed in the future to deal with those affairs. See here: http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/SpaceLaw/index.html [unoosa.org]
      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Actually, space lawyers are very important. Only them can achieve space settlements in space cases, not to mention correctly apply principles like habeas space corpus.

        I believe this is a very important step towards building a space society that ensures the space freedom of the whole space people. I also believe that everything will be so different in space that we will need to prefix it with "space" to form a new space language.
    • by CowboyNealOption (1262194) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:46PM (#23384452) Journal
      And here I was hoping space would be one place to someday finally have a lawyer-free haven.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by srmalloy (263556)
      In virtually all the SF I've read, 'space lawyer' carried a degree of denigration over and above that of a simple lawyer, however.
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        In virtually all the SF I've read, 'space lawyer' carried a degree of denigration over and above that of a simple lawyer, however.
        In SF, they're usually using it in the same way the Navy uses the expression "sea lawyer" and the Army uses the expression "barracks lawyer".
    • by camperslo (704715)
      Space Lawyers, what a wonderful idea

      The first thing that came to mind was banner ads in space made by dropping them out the airlock at just the right interval...
    • by joe_bruin (266648)
      Great, let's see how long he survives in a vacuum.
  • In the states I've looked up, "specializing" as a lawyer means nothing. Every lawyer is on 100% equal footing with regard to the law. The "family law" lawyer has exactly the same legal standing as a "criminal defense attorney", wether the trial is a messy divorce or a murder trial.

    While I suppose it's good to have specialized training in law for a specific field, this just seems silly. I mean, I'm sure there have been lawyers before (working for NASA, Lockheed, Boeing, etc,) that have "specialized" in space law. Who cares if the diploma lists "space law", really?
    • by Tanman (90298) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:19PM (#23384060)
      Specialization has, for most professions, been a way for the industry to differentiate between its own members. It is not a government-recognized title. For example, a medical doctor can legally perform brain surgery without the 7 year neurosurgery residency. More than that, someone who has completed the 7-year training and *fails* the neurosurgery boards can legally perform brain surgery.

      Many HMO clinics/etc, as a cost-cutting measure, will actually hire 'radiologists' and other specialists who have been unable to pass their boards. This is because, while they are legally allowed to practice whatever medicine they want (assuming they have their state license to practice medicine), they will work cheap 'cause anyone who checks their credentials will likely turn them away.

      On another note, always check your physicians credentials :)
      • There are actually different typed of Nurse Practitioners certificates like FNP or ANP.
      • by MMC Monster (602931) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:35PM (#23385054)
        In the medical profession, some of the subspecialty boards are more of a money-grab by the professional societies rather than any indication of the abilities of the practitioners.

        In the field of cardiology, there are a number of subspecialty board examinations. Some of them are necessary (ie: Interventional Cardiology, Electrophysiology), and some of them are simple money grabs (Echocardiography, Nuclear Medicine, Peripheral Vascular Disease).

        Unfortunately, it all sounds impressive when you are a patient. :-(
      • by jamstar7 (694492)

        Specialization has, for most professions, been a way for the industry to differentiate between its own members. It is not a government-recognized title. For example, a medical doctor can legally perform brain surgery without the 7 year neurosurgery residency. More than that, someone who has completed the 7-year training and *fails* the neurosurgery boards can legally perform brain surgery.

        Litigious bastards that we Americans are, there's just too much happening in the law 'field' for one person to keep tr

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      Dodge's interest in space law grew from an early fascination with space exploration that was based mostly on science and history.

      Most kids interested in space want to be astronauts. When you think about it, space is this massive unexplored frontier full of adventure and wonder. Juxtapose that against the minutia sifting and pedantry of the field of law, and that tells me one thing; this kid must be really bitter.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by easyTree (1042254)

        When you think about it, space is this massive unexplored frontier full of adventure and wonder.

        I'm with you... let's find the natives, kill them, then start building the first space-McBurgerJoint!
    • by IP_Troll (1097511) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:29PM (#23384208)
      Exceptions! Patent Attorneys and Maritime Attorneys. Attorneys are not allowed to use those prefixes in a description of their profession unless they have passed special Federal bars, which are seperate from state bars. Although many IP attorneys say they litigate patents, a Patent Attorney is the only one that can secure a patent from the patent office. Similarly a Maritime Attorney is the only type of attorney that can litigate in Maritime law tribunals. From the article it sounds like this is just a novelty concentration for law school and nothing more.
    • I hope you're trolling.

      Yes, every lawyer is on equal footing with the law, but the field of law is so vast and complex that it requires specialization. If you think that a family law lawyer expertly knows what he's (she's) doing with patent law, or tort law, I encourage you to go try it. The smart attorney will refer you to someone who specializes in the repective law. The dumb (or maybe adventurous) one might try to handle it themselves.

      You don't have a civil engineer designing cell phones just as y

      • No, I was not trolling. And it's not that I don't recognize that specialization is a good thing in a lawyer. (I have a "family law" lawyer for my family law issues, a "corporate law" for my business issues, and a "trademark attorney" for my trademark issues.)

        It's the fact that the college is making a big deal out of this. Again, I'm SURE that there have been "space law" specialists in the past. The fact that this college decided to start offering it doesn't mean that this guy is the FIRST "space lawyer"
      • In engineering school you do learn the specialization in school. In Law you might get some exposure to the specializations in school, or you might not. But you learn the specialization in practice.
  • In space... (Score:5, Funny)

    by elliotm00 (1204958) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:14PM (#23383996)
    In space, no one can hear you sue.
    • **Knock Knock**
      <guy in ISS> WTF?
      **Opens Airlock, guy standing there in spacesuit, with package.
      <guy outside> You have been served. Have a good day!
      <guy in ISS> WTF??
  • by Tanman (90298) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:15PM (#23384006)
    [comment deleted due to space copyright]
    -Space Lawyer
  • Attack of the space-lawyers!
  • I suppose if a woman spends six months with two guys on the International Space Station, and three months after she lands on Earth she gives birth, a Space Lawyer could help determine paternity. Also if a Russian pilot dings the body work on the International Space Station with his Soyuz and denies it on the collision report, a Space Lawyer would come in handy there too.
    • by corsec67 (627446)

      I suppose if a woman spends six months with two guys on the International Space Station, and three months after she lands on Earth she gives birth, a Space Lawyer could help determine paternity.

      I think that someone trained to give a paternity test [wikipedia.org] would be a better choice than a "space lawyer." An issue that might need a space lawyer would be nationality, but that would probably be very similar to a cruise boat in that regard, and probably would be more dependent on where the child is born, not conceived.

    • Could also be handy if one of the astronauts inadvertently breaks the speed of light on re-entry - "The Known Universe vs Major Richtenbacher"
  • by bagboy (630125) <neo@NOSpam.arctic.net> on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:18PM (#23384046)
    on Jedi mind tricks.....
    • The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant compared to the power of a space lawyer!
      • by bagboy (630125)
        This is not the defendant you are looking for. These mp3's are not the ones shared on the internet.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:19PM (#23384068) Homepage
    I shouldn't be, but I am. I know that you refer to a lawyer by their specialty, i.e. a "patent lawyer" is a lawyer who specializes in patents, not a lawyer who themselves is patented or was created by a patent.

    But is it really all that much to ask that the world's first "space lawyer" actually be from space? Or live there now? I don't care what they specialize in, they just have to have a law degree and either hail from or emigrate to outer space.

    I'll be writing my congressman about this.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by SBacks (1286786)
      Not just that, but the term "Space Lawyer" seems rather lame, like he's in charge of a big warehouse or something.

      "Interstellar Lawyer" or "Galactic Lawyer" or something like that seems a much better job title.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chris Burke (6130)
        Not just that, but the term "Space Lawyer" seems rather lame, like he's in charge of a big warehouse or something.

        Hey, it worked for Space Ghost. Nobody was like "so, do you haunt a warehouse or something?"

        So maybe Space Lawyer just needs to hang out with Space Ghost, and then nobody will question him like that.
      • Haha.. I hadn't thought of that other meaning of space to be honest. How about Lawyer of the Great Integalactic Void? Space Lawyer does have a nice ring to it.

        Zorak: I'm a Space Baby!!!
  • Quick... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dusty101 (765661) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:20PM (#23384082)
    ... kill it now before it breeds! I say we take off & nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
  • by ianare (1132971) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:21PM (#23384098)
    but when are they going to send all the other lawyers in space?
  • by zunger (17731) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:23PM (#23384110)
    I'm sorry, this just reminds me of Heinlein's use of the phrase "space lawyer" as the SF generalization of "latrine lawyer."
    • I'm sorry, this just reminds me of Heinlein's use of the phrase "space lawyer" as the SF generalization of "latrine lawyer."

      Heinlein, a former naval officer, was expanding on the navy slang "sea lawyer". A derogatory term referring to someone who tries to use rules and regulations to shirk responsibilities and/or make excuses for their failures. They are generally not the most popular of shipmates.
    • It reminded me of the Red Dwarf episode, 'Back to Reality', where Kryten thinks he's Jake Bullet, who he assumes is a high-powered Robocop type because of his fancy title.
      Kryten: (Whipping out his badge) Bullet, Cybernautics!
      Cop:: That's traffic control!
  • Counselnaut? Astrolawyer? Orbital Mouthpiece? Defender (get it)? Prosecutron? Baikonur Barrister? Still, I guess this isn't any different than those lawyers that specialize in oddball maritime issues.
  • I didn't catch that. What kind of lawyer did you say he was?
    I couldn't hear over all the people laughing.
  • "Hello, beautiful. I'm a space lawyer." There's no way a tax attorney could compete with that.
  • Classmate: "So what have you been doing these past 10 years?"

    Hero: "Well, I'm a space lawyer."

    Classmate: "Do you, like, work on lawsuits about zoning or something?"

    Hero: "No, I handle laws based on outer space."

    Classmates, in unison: "Hahahahahaha."

    Hero: "I'm in the employ of several governments. I could buy all of your houses and probably enslave all of you, and by enslave, I mean pay you a living wage to fan me and bring me drinks."

    Classmates, in unison: *cricket* *cricket* "So where did you go to school
  • Mississippi (Score:2, Funny)

    by BrainInAJar (584756)
    They believe in space in Mississippi? Has nobody told their wonderfully enlightened pastors about this widespread heathen encroachment on freedom of religion?
    • They believe in space in Mississippi? Has nobody told their wonderfully enlightened pastors about this widespread heathen encroachment on freedom of religion?

      The big bang theory was developed by a priest, and rejected by some supposedly open minded scientists because he was a priest not on the merits of the theory. The vatican operates an observatory and supports hard core cosmological research. I wouldn't be so quick with the notion that cosmology and religion are incompatible, or that religion and sci
  • by Essron (231281) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:29PM (#23384206)
    because everyone who bought "property" on the moon will need to sue their real estate agent.
  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Puffy Director Pants (1242492) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:29PM (#23384210)
    How do you get a process server to the ISS?
    • More importantly, where is the space judge going to hold court? Do you even know the cost involved in getting 12 jurors AND alternates into a near earth orbit? You thought costs for a trial were astronomical on earth...
    • by Zoxed (676559)
      > How do you get a process server to the ISS?

      Perhaps more importantly: if you engage the services of a Space Lawyer, you should really check the small print relating to travel expenses.
  • First things first. Especially in space. Law is a set of rules established to maintain a civilized society. When it is obvious that a society is already governed by a set of rules (such as chain of command that necessarily exists with all space travel), imposing a set of artificial and necessarily arbitrary extra rules only makes for an extra burden, and therefore, danger in the situation. If any lawyers think their contribution to the set of behaviors in space is warranted, they are playing with people
  • I am waiting for the first paternity suit. It should be entertaining.
  • Sweet! I was wondering how I was going to handle the closing on that Mars property I have had my eye on!
  • Uniform? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin AT lunarworks DOT ca> on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:37PM (#23384306) Homepage
    I just have to wonder... what does the Space Lawyer uniform look like? Was it designed by Zapp Brannigan?
  • But.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fr4ncis (763671) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:39PM (#23384352) Homepage
    Weren't their fees already.. astronomical?
  • I'd be willing to bet there's nothing but space in the lawyers' heads as well.
    • by linguizic (806996)
      sigh...

      I knew someone was going to make a reference about Mississippians being stupid. Would you say the same thing about William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, B.B. King, Medger Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer or Morgan Freeman?

      Considering my experience with Mississippi, the University of Mississippi, and Joanne Gabrynowicz personally, I know that this program is top notch. You probably never knew that both William Faulkner and Jim Barksdale went to Ole Miss. Oh, and Trent Lott went there too, but we Bay A
  • I know the summary mentions the program is one of two of its kind in North America, but the tagline is still a little too disingenuous when you consider that the program's canadian counterpart - the McGill Institute of Air & Space Law [mcgill.ca] recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Even if American law is all you want to count, someone must certainly have graduated from the IASL and gone on to pass an American Bar exam..
  • This really might not just be a gimmick. Let's look at some scenarios:

    <ol>
    <li>A satellite from Russia is launched 10 years ago and has a failure of some sort knocking it out of its intended orbit. A space mission from Country X miscalculates, or is unaware of, its current trajectory. The instant they notice, Country X takes action that diverts the satellite from space to a trajectory that doesn't hit their mission but diverts the satellite again. Who is responsible if the satellite hits a third
    • I hate this new comment system.
    • Somehow I had got the impression that a lawyer had to be licensed by each state that he/she practised in (anyone?).

      If that's so, then wouldn't this guy only be able to take cases that were applicable to Misssiisssiiissiipppii (or however it's spelt).

      Personally, I can't see him geting a lot of business - unless of course it's merely a novelty act and he gets a proper job doing divorces or whatever they have out there.

  • Ahhh space lawyers.

    Rather than design new propulsion systems to make space travel more efficient, let's just sue Issac Newton, get the law repealed and go there for free.

    I wonder if his couse even considered the possibilty that there are natural laws and manmade laws. I'd love to see this in a courtroom. Sadly, given the state of the educational & legsal systems, I might.

  • My suggestion is spaceship chasers.
  • In that scene 2 German airmen are on a mission and they deem themselves alone high in the sky. They start making jokes about German leaders only see 2 members of the Gestapo in front of their windshield while the airmen are exclaiming that you are never save from the grasp of the Gestapo.

    I guess the astronauts must have the same fears now. Nobody can escape spacelawyers!
  • bzzt (Score:5, Informative)

    by delong (125205) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:00PM (#23384616)
    Inaccurate. This is not the first "space lawyer." It is the first "space law certificate" from a law school to a graduating law student. There are a multitude of "space lawyers" already.

    And just to be nitpicky, just because this person graduates from law school with this certificate doesn't make them a "space lawyer." Graduating from law school doesn't make you a lawyer. Passing the bar makes you a lawyer, and the certificate doesn't mean a damn.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:54PM (#23385258)
    The State of Mississippi was for many years among the poorest and most litigious states in the entire United States. There have been some recent attempts at reforms which seem to be bearing fruit, but it is not surprising that a new innovation in lawyers and lawsuits has come out of the State of Mississippi. The Wall Street Journal had a recent article [wsj.com] describing the litigious history of Mississippi.
  • Any future space lawyer might have to deal with issues ranging from the fallout over satellite shoot-downs...

    If for example China were to shoot down a US satellite I don't think it will be "space lawyers" that get launched.

    The last thing we need is another avenue for frivolous litigation. "Hey asshole, you parked your satellite in my orbit!" "So sue me."
  • Go ahead and develop a bunch of "space lawyers". Just keep them back here on the ground. Try to send them up with us and we'll make them all airlock integrity inpectors. We'd use them for reaction mass but the large proportion of hot air reduces their density.

    Maybe we can use them as Reaver bait, or chest-burster incubators. Perhaps they'll be able to make friends.
  • Given that there really isn't a body of space law for a 'space lawyer' to specialize in... How exactly does this work?
  • Space Sex
  • A defense against the charge of stalking while in possesion of diapers.
  • Space Lawyer sues YOU!
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k5Elsda1GI [youtube.com] This commercial PROVES that my client, the FIRST Space Lawyer, was on the scene much, much earlier. Naturally, we plan on a countersuit that will involve reparations including the spaceship that this "so-called" "Space Lawyer" rode in on...
  • I think Commodore Mendez said it best:

    "This is a court of SPACE LAW, not a theatre!"

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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