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...
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We encourage the exchange of responsible ideas.

Saturday, March 30, 2002

taxing ideas
Delaware, like many other states, is experiencing a time of financial difficulty. It probably doesn't hurt to see what some other states are doing, and have done in the past, to overcome times of economic disadvantage. I don't know if people in Delaware would consider following up on the tax ideas coming out of California. If nothing else, considering them might spark some debate on the role of a taxing body as a social engineer.

A panel studying cancer put together by Governor Minner recently made a number of recommendations, including a tax on cigarettes. California is also thinking of increased taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. But they have some other ideas on items to tax.

One is a five cents per bullet tax to aid California trauma centers.

Some other taxes being looked into in California include a soda tax to help fight obesity in children, and a junk food tax to use to to pay for dental and health services, also for juveniles.

Whatever Delaware might decide to tax, a lesson from our neighboring State of New Jersey should be kept in mind, as our governor looks at ways to raise revenues. Do not tax toilet paper. Let me repeat that with periods between each word for added emphasis: Do.Not.Tax.Toilet.Paper.

Why? A lesson learned from Governor Florio of New Jersey almost a decade ago, as recited by one of the then Governor's aides:
Extending the sales tax to toilet paper didn't help. The plan had been to tax cable TV service, but the industry cleverly aired ads urging people to write their legislators in protest (reminding me of the old admonition never to argue with folks who buy ink by the barrel). Too bad for us; no one would have marched on the Statehouse tossing televisions like they did toilet paper.
I'm not certain that you could consider the taxing of toilet paper with the other items above as a sin tax, to be used to both raise revenue for the State, and to shape society in some fashion. But, in a country with a history of demonstrations against taxes like the Boston Tea Party, I don't know that I want to see a Dover Toilet Paper Party.

gambling and the kentucky navy
Urban legend debunkers at snopes have a little more to say on the Kentucky resolution calling for the purchase of a submarine and the start of a Navy.

The piece of legislation is a resolution, and not a bill. This means that if it is passed, it does not have a binding effect upon the State.

It was issued not to declare war upon riverboats, but rather to draw attention to a very large movement of money from Kentucky to Indiana every year:
The resolution was introduced by Tom Burch, a state representative from Louisville, as a wry commentary on Kentucky's continued prohibition of gambling. Kentucky doesn't allow it, yet thousands of Kentuckians simply cross the Ohio River to Indiana, where gambling is legal, and drop an estimated $500 million per year in their casinos. Wouldn't it make more sense, Rep. Burch reasoned, to allow casinos to operate in Kentucky and funnel some of that money into education and social service programs rather than filling Indiana's coffers?
Maybe they should talk with some government officials from Delaware, where slot machines video lottery machines (gambling is prohibited by Delaware's constitution, except for limited instances of lotteries, and horse track betting) have earned the State at least $650 million since 1995.

New Hampshire is examining the possibility of installing slot machines video lottery machines, and possibly even building full fledged casinos. As a matter of fact, they've had the benefit of some input from Delaware:
The Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce sent legislators a short video featuring legislative leaders from Delaware, which legalized video slot machines several years ago. Speaking to an off-camera interviewer, the Delaware officials report that gambling has hugely benefited their state's economy without increasing crime.
It really truly does appear that there has been no increase in crime that can in any way be related to the slot machines video lottery machines in Delaware.

I just wish that I could call a slot machine a slot machine, and not a "video lottery machine" with an accompanying wink and shoulder shrug.

Friday, March 29, 2002

kentucky to form navy
From the Kentucky Legislature comes HR256, proposed by Representative T. Burch:

A RESOLUTION encouraging the purchase and vigorous use of the USS Louisville 688 VLS Class submarine.

WHEREAS, in the past few years the scourge of the casino riverboat has been an increasingly significant presence on the Ohio River; and

WHEREAS, the Ohio River borders the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and

WHEREAS, the siren song of payola issuing from the discordant calliopes of these gambling vessels has led thousands of Kentucky citizens to vast disappointment and woe; and

WHEREAS, no good can come to the citizens of Kentucky hypnotized from the siren song issuing from these casino riverboats, the engines of which are fired by the hard-earned dollars lost from Kentucky citizens;

NOW, THEREFORE, Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

Section 1. The House of Representatives does hereby encourage the formation of the Kentucky Navy and subsequently immediately encourages the purchase and armament of one particularly effective submarine, namely, the USS Louisville 688 VLS Class Submarine, to patrol the portion of the Ohio River under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth to engage and destroy any casino riverboats that the submarine may encounter.

Section 2. The House of Representatives does hereby authorize the notification of the casino riverboat consulate of this Resolution and impending whoopin' so that they may remove their casino vessels to friendlier waters.
Should we file this under the sometimes-declaring-war-might-not-be-the-best-solution department?

Thursday, March 28, 2002

shortened sentences?
One of the most famous criminal cases decided by the US Supreme Court was Gideon v. Wainwright. It focused upon whether a defendant who couldn't afford to hire an attorney had a right to have one appointed to him or her by a court.

The answer was yes. Those simple three letters eventually lead to the release of more than 2000 other prisoners who were forced to represent themselves at trial in Florida, because they couldn't afford an attorney.

The Supreme Court now has a case before it that might shorten thousands of sentences.

Under the sentencing guidelines that judges use in federal courts, and many state courts (including Delaware), a sentence longer than what is called for in the guidelines may be given to someone if there are "aggravating" circumstances present at the time of the offense. For instance, if a Judge thinks that a crime was a hate crime, he might step outside of the guidelines and impose a longer sentence. In some jurisdictions, if a gun was used at the time of the offense, it might have been considered an aggravating factor which would allow for a longer sentence than what set forth in guidelines. The Supreme Court is being asked to determine if a jury should be the ones deciding if these aggravating circumstances existed.

Will this case make the United States Sentencing Commission's What's New page? Well.... that will depend upon how the Court decides.

Monday, March 25, 2002

Tricks of the Trade
By Private Investigator Michael T. O?Rouke

Question: . I am a Paralegal for an Attorney associated with the State of Delaware?s Public Defender system. Could you provide me a brief overview of a Death Investigation?

Answer: Certainly. All Death Investigations begin with the Positive Identification of the deceased. There are two types of identification. The first, legal identification, is determined by official sources such as driver?s licenses, similar picture identification, and relative, or known associate confirmation. The second source of identification is Medical Identification. This type includes visual inspection, dental records, fingerprints, medical histories that could include x-rays, MRI?s, or Cat Scans. The visual inspection identifies tattoos, scars, and physical abnormalities or peculiarities. The Medical Examiner will provide a great deal of information. Positive identification is the beginning of a background investigation. The background investigation will reveal sources to assist in the conclusion of the investigation.

The Time of Death. A timeline is invaluable in your investigation. Working from a known fact to the unknown fact organizes the investigation, and provides momentum. Several methods are utilized to estimate the time of death. Rate of rigor mortis, livor mortis, desiccation, decomposition (putrefication), body temperature, insect presence and observation thereof, and available eyewitness interview. The time of discovery is compared to the time the deceased was last observed to narrow down the variations. The date, and time, of loss are relative to the Manner of Death.

The Cause of Death. Identify the trauma causing death. Review all reports and analysis provided by the Medical Examiner/ Coroner. The cause of death includes loss of blood, blunt force trauma, disease, toxin absorption, respiratory failure, and other specific causes. This is a specific medical diagnosis denoting a disease or injury (myocardial infarction, strangulation, gunshot wound). In particular, the Proximate Cause of Death (the initial injury that led to a sequence of events that led to the death of a victim). And the Immediate Cause of Death (the injury or disease that finally killed the individual). This information will lead to the Mechanism of Death. This term describes the altered physiology by which a disease or injury produces death (arrytrhmia, hypoventilatory hypoxia, exsanguination).

The Manner of Death. There are four determinations: Suicide, Homicide, Accidental, and Natural Caused. If the cause of death cannot be ruled accidental, or natural, the investigation should include crime scene analysis. Forensic evidence collection will support, or exclude, hypothesis and/or factual evidence. The Manner of Death will identify negligence, liability, and/or criminal involvement. Forensic investigation involves photography, measurement, fiber collection, fluid (DNA, blood, saliva) collection, chemical analysis, trace evidence, serology, toxicology, forensic anthropology, forensic ondontology, and physical object inspection and analysis.

Death investigation can support both criminal and civil litigation. Fact collection can be interpreted defensively or offensively. An investigator assists in trial and testimony preparation, interprets police reports, and assists in obtaining and analyzing forensic evidence, and documentary evidence through independent, and governmental sources.

Det. Michael T. O'Rourke is a Member of the National Association of Investigative Specialists, The National Association of Professional Process Servers, and Sustaining member of the Delaware Paralegal Association. A Court Certified Special Process Server, and a Licensed Private Investigator in DE and PA, Michael specializes in Insurance and Criminal Defense.

He invites your questions to:

Loss Solutions, Inc.
824 N. Market Street, Suite 425,
P.O. Box 368, Wilmington DE 19899-0368.
(302) 427-3600.

Or you may e-mail him at

free speech
Salsa-dancing roosters taunt Guatemalan president
Silly title, serious topic:
Thousands of Guatemalans line the streets every year to see students wearing executioners' hoods poke fun at politicians, the church and the country's powerful military. The parade began as a protest against late 19th century dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera.

This year students dressed in yellow rooster costumes stole the show by changing the words to hit songs to take jabs at Portillo, who newspapers have accused of opening bank accounts in Panama to smuggle millions of dollars out of the country.
Why the hoods and costumes? Because past participants in these student marches have been assassinated as recently as in the 1990's.

The students weren't the only ones protesting this year:
For the third time in 10 days, thousands of Guatemalans filled the streets of the capital Friday to demand the resignation of President Alfonso Portillo and others accused of skimming hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds while children in the countryside are dying of malnutrition.
The Strike of Sorrows (or Huelga De Dolores) is a tradition that dates back to 1898. It's one of the few ways that criticism of government can be aired in a country with a long history of repression.

President Bush met with Central American Presidents yesterday. He had made a statement earlier last week about withholding aid from countries from governments that it identified as being corrupt. News reports don't indicate that the topic came up during the meeting.

I'm sure that most Guatemalans don't want aid money withheld. But, as we can see from their marches and protests, they would certainly like to see some changes take place in the way that the money is spent. The Strike of Sorrows happens around this time each year, so it wasn't timed to coincide with our President's visit.

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