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, June 29, 2002

cybersquatters and icann

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held meetings this past week to review their practices, and to possibly reorganize their own structure. Some issues that they were considering addressing were geared towards helping businesses and people "fight extortion by speculators, known as cybersquatters." A great number of other topics were addressed, and there is coverage on many of those in the ICANN blog and ICANN Watch. (It might take a while to wade through all of these.)

what role futurists?

When the movie Minority Report was being made, ideas were solicited from futurists on what the world would be like fifty years from now. In Russia, futurists are working to try to give the Russian Federation, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) an idea of what the Volga River will be like thirty years from now. The results of the study will likely be shared with people from other geographical regions that have major waterways running through them (such as the Delaware or the Mississippi rivers).

how much for the moon?

The ultimate gift in diplomatic circles at one time was a presentation of a moon rock by the U.S. Government to a country. A Florida business man who purchased a moon rock from someone in Honduras is being told that he has to relinquish ownership rights to it so that it can be returned to Honduras. The rock was officially a gift to the Honduran Government, but sometime during a string of changes in governance, it disappeared.

It was seized from the Florida man by the U.S. Government in 1998, and is now the subject of a petition for return of property under the case name "United States v. Lucite ball containing lunar material." During the dispute over who owns the rock, estimates about the value of the rock have been calculated to be in the millions of dollars. Should the government be selling pieces of the moon to people willing to spend such sums of money?

register for the news

More news sites are requiring registration to read their content. Is this a sign of things to come from media sites on the web? Will the cost of staying informed through online sources become the loss of privacy? (via metafilter)

Friday, June 28, 2002

death penalty in Delaware

It's been more than a couple of years now since the trial of Thomas Capano, but the case continues to spring up as a subject for books, and in the newpapers, and on television. The former Delaware prosecutor's murder case continues to attract media attention. It was most recently seen on TV in March as the subject of the pilot episode for a series on the Learning Channel called Caught.

Today, the case is again in the newspapers as the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal in the case without comment.

It's likely that a new appeal will be brought by Tom Capano's attorneys arguing the constitutionality of a judicial death penalty decision, with a nonbinding recommendation by a jury. Should the jury have made the decision as to the sentence, and not the judge? Should the decision have been unanimous? The Supreme Court appeared to be holding off on ruling on the Capano case until a determination was made in the Ring v. Arizona case.

Though it's uncertain as to how the Ring ruling might affect Delaware capital cases, Delaware's legislators have been busy deciding how to rewrite Delaware's death penalty statute. The Delaware Senate has prepared and voted on a bill which is ready to be presented to the House of Representatives. A companion Delaware bill also followed that one through the Senate, in response to the Supreme Court decision in Atkins v. Virginia, and would prohibit the execution of defendants found to be mentally retarded.

The last day of Delaware's legislative sessions is Sunday, and it is possible that the House will wait until then to decide upon these bills. Are these two bills responding to the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court too quickly? Is it necessary that they be decided now, before the legislature breaks?

Arguments have been made that the statutory process is being conducted without a sufficient understanding of the implications of the federal court's rulings. Yet, we had a capital murder case put on hold this last Tuesday because the trial judge felt that he couldn't go forward without more review being made of the Court's ruling in Ring.

A judicial solution would be to certify questions of law to the Delaware Supreme Court. That process could possibly take more than a year to resolve, and would likely cause any other capital cases to be stayed rather than go to trial. Will a new death penalty statute speed up the Delaware Supreme Court's review of Delaware's death penalty in light of the Ring decision? That's not certain either.

I like the idea of a special legislative session meeting this summer to decide upon the issue, rather than our representatives trying to make a decision in the last few days of the legislative season. Interestingly, that idea also surfaces in an editorial in the Wilmington News Journal which also presents an argument for abolishing the death penalty.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

new courthouse to open soon

September 3 is the date being advertised as opening day for the New Castle County Courthouse. Among the many features offered there, you may see current scheduling information being scrolled on 50 inch plasma screens in the lobby; attorneys may use wireless links from their portable computing equipment to contact their office computers; and you may rent a parking space for $150 per month.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

pledge of allegiance unconstitutional

But only in the Ninth Circuit, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. While not directly on point, this is some contrast to last year's ruling by the Sixth Circuit that Ohio's motto, "''With God, all things are possible,'' is constitutional.

delaware courts news

A Delaware Judge halted proceedings in a capital murder case on Tuesday after considering the implications of beginning the trial in the wake of the Ring v. Arizona ruling by the US Supreme Court:
"I think that this is the type of earth-shaking move in constitutional law that puts the trial court in an impossible position of going forward," Superior Court Judge Richard S. Gebelein said, according to a transcript of the conference in his office with attorneys involved in the trial.

Gebelein delayed the murder trial of Miles Brice, 19, of Newark, until the Delaware Supreme Court can review the state's law.
Jury selection was almost completed when the decision was made to stop. The Wilmington News Journal article alludes to the preparation of questions to be sent to the Delaware Supreme Court regarding the applicability of Ring to the capital case. That would be done pursuant to the Supreme Court's rules regarding the certification of questions of law to the Court.

In other news from the Delaware courts, Supreme Court Justice Joseph T. Walsh has announced that he will retire next year, after 30 years on the State Supreme Court, Chancery Court, and Superior Court. His wisdom and experience on the bench will be missed.

Volunteer attorneys have been stepping up to help the State manage its civil and criminal caseloads. Delaware is the only state in the country which has a program in place allowing volunteer prosecutors for civil and criminal cases, and we have been having some retired and inactive attorneys coming forward, and making a difference.

new nirvana song by year end?

The legal battles between Courtney Love, and the former band mates of her late husband look like they might continue for quite a while over the rights to material recorded by the band Nirvana. But, it's beginning to look like they might agree enough to issue an album before the end of the year which would include the previously unreleased song "You Know You're Right."

possible delaware business law changes

Not yet signed by Governor Minner, the following Senate Bills have made their way through the Delaware House of Representatives:

SB 361, amending the General Corporation Law
SB 362, amending the Delaware Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act
SB 363, amending the Delaware Limited Liability Company Act
SB 364, amending the Delaware Revised Uniform Partnership Act

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

stretching out the dollar
Who best to stretch the dollar but a man named Greenspan. A child of the depression, he is a trusted figure in matters involving the U.S. economy. As I start to look forward to the November elections, albeit off-year elections, I recall my thoughts from the last one: please let Roth's staff remain in power; and nobody had better mess with Greenspan. They both made me feel warm and fuzzy.

can you imagine a world without murder?

I had a chance to see the movie Minority Report this weekend, and I was impressed with how good a movie it was. The special effects were special, the plot was strong, the acting was extraordinary, and I didn't leave the theatre dissatisfied like I did with Steven Spielberg's last movie, AI. I've been avoiding reading reviews of the film until after I had the chance to see it. I've read a couple of them today, and the one from echoes a lot of my thoughts regarding Minority Report. A spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet, the review does give some slight glimpses into the storyline, as I do with the title to this post.

family medical leave

The US Supreme Court agreed to hear next fall a Nevada case which deals with whether state workers can sue states for violations of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). States are normally immune from lawsuits by citizens, with a very few exceptions. Will a violation of the FMLA become one of them?

motorcycles v. baseball

Gilroy's Indian Motorcycles and the Cleveland Indians have found their way into a new arena -- a courthouse. The motorcycle company is having difficulties trademarking their name and logos so that they can be put on toys and clothes. The source of their problem is opposition from the Cleveland Indians and and Major League Baseball. Quiet on the controversy so far are the Atlanta Braves, indigenous Americans, and the Country of India.

Monday, June 24, 2002

here we go again

Supreme Court Justice O'Connor's dissenting opinion, in today's ruling by that Court that juries must make the decision about the death penalty, brings out observations about the practical effect that this case will have on the already overburdened criminal justice system. I suppose we must now endure another Capano penalty phase? The answer is yet unclear....

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