Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Thurs 3/13 - Trump's "Defense" Takes Shape, DraftWise $20M AI Leap, and $MSFT Caltech Patent Settlement

Legal News for Thurs 3/13 - Trump's "Defense" Takes Shape, DraftWise $20M AI Leap, and $MSFT Caltech Patent Settlement

On today's episode, we delve into Trump's legal defense over classified records, DraftWise's $20M AI leap in legal tech, and Microsoft's Caltech patent settlement.
Donald Trump watching himself launch into his defense, pencil sketch.

This Day in Legal History: Jack Ruby Convicted of Murder of Lee Oswald

On this day in legal history, March 14, 1964, marks a pivotal moment when nightclub owner Jack Ruby was convicted for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. The event unfolded in Dallas, Texas, where Ruby, in a shocking act caught on live television, fatally shot Oswald just two days after Kennedy's assassination. This act catapulted Ruby from obscurity to infamy, intertwining his fate with one of the most significant and tragic events in American history.

Ruby's conviction led to a death sentence, a verdict that ignited a storm of controversy and conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination. However, the legal saga did not conclude with this conviction. In October 1966, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Ruby's conviction, citing errors in the admission of testimony and the selection of Dallas as the venue for the trial. The court's decision for a retrial aimed to address these procedural missteps, yet Ruby would never face his second day in court; he died in January 1967 from a pulmonary embolism while awaiting the new trial.

This case also shone a spotlight on the workings of the American legal system and its challenges in high-profile cases. Notably, Ruby's 1964 testimony before the Warren Commission, which investigated President Kennedy's assassination, added layers to the public's understanding of the events leading to Kennedy's death. Arlen Specter, then Assistant Counsel for the Commission and later a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, played a significant role in questioning Ruby. Specter's involvement in the commission and his subsequent political career kept the Ruby case and the broader Kennedy assassination narrative in the public discourse for decades.

Jack Ruby's conviction and the ensuing legal battles highlight the complexities of justice and the enduring quest for truth in the aftermath of national tragedy. The events of March 14, 1964, remain a critical chapter in the legal and historical examination of the Kennedy assassination, reflecting on the broader themes of law, politics, and society in America.

Donald Trump's legal team is poised to request a federal judge in Fort Pierce, Florida, to dismiss a case accusing the former president of unlawfully retaining classified documents after his presidency. Scheduled for Thursday, this hearing is part of Trump's broader strategy to confront four criminal cases amidst his campaign against Joe Biden for the upcoming U.S. election. Trump, pleading not guilty, faces a 40-count indictment for keeping sensitive national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and obstructing efforts to reclaim them. His defense is expected to argue that he had the right to classify these documents as "personal," challenging the prosecution's stance that materials concerning nuclear capabilities and national defense cannot be deemed personal.

Prosecutors, led by U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith, contest Trump's claim, emphasizing the illegality of his actions. The defense also plans to criticize the vagueness of the charges, especially regarding the illegal retention of national defense information, as it pertains to a former president. Additionally, Trump's team will present arguments on presidential immunity and the alleged selective prosecution compared to other officials who have retained classified records.

Significant attention will focus on Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, and her response to these arguments, especially given her previous rulings in Trump's favor and subsequent criticism from a federal appeals court. The trial's timing is in flux, with discussions on postponing the scheduled May start, while Trump proposes a delay until after the November election, hinting at the potential to dismiss federal cases if re-elected.

The outcome of this hearing could have substantial implications for Trump's legal battles, including other cases regarding election interference and the New York state charges involving payments to Stormy Daniels, further complicating his political and legal landscape.

Trump to tell judge that keeping classified records was legal | Reuters

DraftWise, a legal technology startup specializing in AI-powered contract tools for lawyers, announced a significant milestone in securing a $20 million Series A funding round led by Index Ventures. This latest financial infusion, with contributions from existing investors Y Combinator and Earlybird Digital East Ventures, underscores the burgeoning investor interest in AI applications within the legal sector. The New York-based company, founded by ex-Palantir engineers and a former Clifford Chance lawyer, has carved a niche in the legal tech market by enhancing contract drafting and negotiation processes with AI.

Since its inception in the summer of 2020 as part of the Y Combinator startup incubator, DraftWise has distinguished itself by leveraging law firms' historical data and unique insights to refine contract customization. The company emphasizes a data-first approach over solely focusing on AI, which has allowed them to incorporate generative AI and large language models (LLMs) to further aid lawyers in their work. This strategy has enabled DraftWise to cater to notable law firm clients, including Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Mishcon de Reya, among others, reflecting its growing influence in the legal tech space.

The cost of DraftWise's services varies depending on the size and needs of the law firm, offering a flexible solution to improve legal operations. As legal technology continues to evolve, DraftWise's successful funding round represents a key development in the industry's efforts to harness AI for enhancing legal expertise and efficiency. This trend is further evidenced by other legal tech companies, such as Spellbook and Robin AI, securing funding, highlighting the sector's rapid growth and the increasing value placed on AI-driven legal tools.

Legal contracts company DraftWise raises $20 mln amid AI investment boom | Reuters

Microsoft has reached a settlement in a patent infringement lawsuit initiated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) concerning Wi-Fi technology, a dispute that echoes a prior case where Caltech secured a billion-dollar jury verdict against Apple and Broadcom for infringing similar patents. The resolution was communicated to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, with both parties requesting a pause in the proceedings to finalize their agreement. Specific details of the settlement are yet undisclosed, with Caltech and Microsoft maintaining silence on the matter.

The lawsuit accused Microsoft of violating Caltech's patents through its Surface tablets and laptops, as well as Xbox video game systems, a claim Microsoft contested by denying the allegations, challenging the patent validity, and asserting existing licenses for the disputed technologies. This legal battle follows a notable 2020 verdict where Caltech was awarded $1.1 billion in damages from Apple and Broadcom for similar patent infringements, a decision later overturned by an appeals court mandating a new trial for damages assessment. Subsequently, Caltech settled its dispute with Apple and Broadcom last year.

Moreover, Caltech has initiated lawsuits against other tech giants, including HP Inc and Dell, for infringing the same Wi-Fi patents, indicating a broader legal strategy to protect its intellectual property rights. These ongoing cases underscore the complexity and high stakes of patent litigation within the tech industry, particularly concerning foundational technologies like Wi-Fi. The Microsoft settlement marks the latest chapter in Caltech's assertive enforcement of its patent portfolio, reflecting both the value and contentious nature of intellectual property in the tech sector.

Microsoft settles Caltech lawsuit over Wi-Fi technology | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at