Delaware Law Office
of Larry D. Sullivan, Esquire

A Weblog?
The column to the right, is a news/editorial/comment column. It is a weblog, also know as a blog.

The weblog thing comes from, which offers us a convenient way to manage the posting, administratively. You don't really need to know all of that, but we have included this explanation so that you won't be confused by the term "blog".

Another important topic here is that since the column includes editorials and comments, you can be sure that we are just exercising our free speech rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and as not yet abridged by a reactionary opportunistic vocal minority.

opinions, everybody's got one...
If you would like your opinion published here, forward it for consideration and editorial review to:
Or add a comment. Comments by: YACCS

We encourage the exchange of responsible ideas.

Saturday, November 17, 2001

Leadership can be a difficult concept to define. Within a society, leaders emerge at a number of different levels, in different areas of a culture. We find leaders in state office buildings, in places of worship, in office buildings, factories, and warehouses, in communities and charitable organizations, and in our federal government.

Some leaders are chosen in formal settings, and others assume responsibility when the need arises. In a representative democracy, the theory is that leaders are chosen by the people, and represent the whims of those who voted on their behalf. In practice, the "whims of the people" often represent a number of contradicting viewpoints and opposing calls for action. Leadership is the ability of a leader to respect these differing views, and to try to gain a consensus of opinion on a subject, and to take appropriate action when necessary. When someone is in a position of authority, they are also in a position of responsibility. It?s a responsibility of leaders to guide by following.

How do we tell when a person is an effective leader? One way is to create some type of benchmark, and compare that person?s actions to the benchmark. An often convenient method of doing that is to compare the leader with previous leaders. Peggy Noonan, in the Wall Street Journal opinion pages compares George W. Bush to Harry Truman. Businessweek online remarks about Bush?s attempts to emulate Ronald Reagan. The many speeches and press conferences we?ve seen by President Bush on television have some using his name in the same sentence as FDR.

Are comparisons to previous leaders helpful in determining the effectiveness of a present leader? Might they be just as effective as public opinion polls where the actual questions asked in the polls aren?t disclosed to the public. Perhaps some leaders in the media will arise and give us some idea of what types of benchmarks we should be looking for. Until then, maybe the best we will get is that Dubya is a lot like Harry, or Ron, or FDR.
- William Slawski

Friday, the Delaware Supreme Court announced the disbarment of Thomas Capano. His deeds have been a black spot on the reputation of the Delaware Bar. The Wilmington News-Journal has an archive of stories on the controversial capital murder case involving former State Prosecutor Capano.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

The American Red Cross has returned the funds! The new CEO, Harold Decker, apologized and returned the hundreds of millions of dollars which had been temporarily misdirected from the Liberty Fund by his predecessor. Now the victims and families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks will receive what was donated to them. Thanks to those of our legislature and public who spoke out and helped the Red Cross to see the light!

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Going back a few years in Delaware's history, the following were Delaware's delegates to the Constitutional Convention: Richard Bassett, Gunning Bedford, Jr., Jacob Broom, John Dickinson, and George Read. The National Archives and Records Administration tells us a little about our delegates, and touches upon the parts these gentlemen played in the decisions made during the drafting of the U.S. Consititution.
- William Slawski

134 years ago, New York City firemen raised money to buy Columbia, South Carolina a firetruck (a hose carriage). Columbia had just experienced a fire that destroyed 36 blocks of the city. All this happened shortly after the Civil War, and considerable tensions existed between the north and the south.

"Today, the firemen of Northern New York strike hands with their comrades of Southern Columbia, and in so doing, we call upon our fellow citizens of the two great sections to emulate our example, and thus hasten a restoration ... of our once beautiful and still united national fabric," said Henry Wilson, president of the New York Firemen's Association in a speech to Columbians June 28, 1867.

Columbia leaders made a pledge back then to not forget that gift. And forget it, they haven't, raising enough money to buy New York City a firetruck in return (and then some). White Knoll Middle School started the campaign, and when local firefighters were informed of the fundraiser by the school, their historians brought the civil war era gift from New York into the picture. With the support of the Columbia community, the middle school has raised $447,265.41 in 57 days, surpassing their goal by almost $100,000.00. The historical tie wasn't originally known about by the students and teachers who began this effort.
- William Slawski

The American Redcross has made a decision that all of the money collected into the Liberty Fund will go to people harmed by the September 11th terror attacks.
- William Slawski

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

You've been accused of a crime. You ask to see your attorney. You expect that you can explain to your lawyer what happened without a fear that the lawyer can be forced to testify against you. As a matter of fact, your attorney tells you that you shouldn't hold anything back, because failure to explain the facts can lead to a weakness in your defense.

Before you are interviewed by your attorney, you're told that the conversation that you are going to have will be monitored to make certain that you aren't passing on terrorist instructions. These others listening in aren't constrained by attorney-client privilege. You don't tell your attorney everything that you should for fear that your conversation will be used against you in court.

You lose your court case. You appeal. If you're lucky, the appellate court buys into your argument that you were denied effective assistance of counsel because you were placed in a situation where you couldn't talk with your attorney.

Lawyer-client privilege allows a defendant to talk freely with his or her attorney. This freedom is a necessary part of the criminal justice system. It permits the person accused to be honest with their legal counsel about the events that lead to their incarceration, and it keeps the attorney from acting as a witness against his or her client. Being unable to be open with the person representing you may be cause for an ineffective assistance of counsel determination. It may make convictions much more likely, even if there is no leaking of the conversation being monitored.

The U.S. Department of Justice instituted a new policy on October 30th, adding a monitoring system, in cases when the charge being considered is one of the ones under the anti-terrorism act. Criticism of this policy is coming from a lot of directions. Here are some articles that go into more detail:

Washington Post - An Affront to Democracy

New York Times (free registration required) - Experts Divided on New Antiterror Policy That Scuttles Lawyer-Client Confidentiality - DOJ Defends Lawyer-Client Surveillance

The idea behind this measure is that a person might pass information to an attorney to be passed along to others and allow those others to commit terrorist acts. It seems like this law is telling us that the Department of Justice doesn't trust the attorneys in these situations. While this type of monitoring will only take place in a small number of cases, maybe there are other solutions. The expectation is that this new policy will be challenged in federal court as soon as possible.
- William Slawski

Monday, November 12, 2001

When we talk (or write) about the law, we are discussing a set of rules by which people interact, and by which they are governed. It's not uncommon for people to use the phrase "natural law" in descriptions of the way that we perceive the world to work. But sometimes we just see the tops of things, and not the currents that run underneath. This is true with the legal system, and it is just as true when talking about natural law.

A prime example of this is the way that water moves through the oceans of our world. Believe it or not, a global current was first proposed to exist in the early 1990's that circulates water through a conveyer belt system. Some online articles about the conveyer system:

Climate rides on ocean conveyor belt

Ocean conveyer belt could spur stronger storms

Ocean circulation changes

Understanding what's below the surface can bring some new insights into how the world works. That's most probably true with the law, also.
- William Slawski

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