opinions, everybody's got one...
Friday, July 05, 2002
Writing the report on the minority, below, reminded me of an example of a few years back. A New Castle County police officer threatened to arrest me for "hindering prosecution" because I correctly advised my client of his constitutional rights. Get a clue! Please!
I support the police. My father was a policeman, as was I. But the Constitution and the rule of law must prevail. We cannot give the government free reign to tread on us, because given half a chance it will.
hard cases make bad law
It's an expression they taught us in law school, meaning that legal decisions that are difficult to make, when applied to different cases, end up in the wrong result. We've got a number of hard cases in the news, lately. Cases that are exigent because of heinous crimes and war.
Yes we are at war. I am very much aware of that, and I strive to support it in the ways that I can. We are at war with a people who hate us because of our freedom, and that it so contrasts with their views as to how the world should be managed (at least that's the best that I can figure). Religious and political oppression would suit them just fine.
Well there are plenty of our own who have the same goal, to have their vocal minority exert political and religious oppression over the flaccid majority. And they are surfing the wave of crisis to get there.
The police in Storm Lake, Iowa have sought the disclosure of all of Planned Parenthood's local records of pregnant women to solve a horrible child murder case. They are surfing, or rather fishing. The police have no suspect, and yet they want to force the disclosure of very private information.
Similar situations are occurring here in Delaware. I have been recently fending off fishing expeditions by the IRS. They want the customer records of a local private business, under the guise of protecting us from terrorism, and they won't even go to the trouble of writing out a subpoena. Bald and unsupported assumptions lie at the crux of their position, that...if the IRS is investigating these people, they must be criminals. And they ask me, why I as an attorney and a U.S. citizen would harbor terrrorists and criminals.
To allow this sort of trampling of our rights would be to surrender to the goals of the terrorists. These terrorists of our own scare me much worse than the bomb toters.
Thursday, July 04, 2002
The Declaration Committee, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs
Division, Reproduction Number: LC-USZC2-2243
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
An appeal in a case that saw a person win a $65 million lawsuit over the fradulent taking of his domain name (sex.com), may have implications for people who have lost their web site addresses (domain names) because of registry negligence.
In my trial advocacy class, my teacher used to claim that lawyers were the last gunslingers. I bet that he would have liked to have been part of this lawsuit which pits cattle ranchers against meatpackers. I've read enough westerns that I envisioned a showdown on the courthouse steps while reading about it.
The price of mailing a letter jumped three cents on Sunday. I've always been confused by the public/private nature of the U.S. Postal Service. If it's a private company, should competition be allowed for first class postal service? If it's a government agency, shouldn't there be more public accountability in their actions, and the possibility of exercising political restraint upon them, by exerting pressure upon elected oficials?
I remember a Supreme Court decision in an environmental case that hinged upon whether or not a tree had standing to bring a lawsuit under one of the environmental statutes. (The tree lost.) A review of a recent book, called Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights describes an author who is pretty serious about his subject matter.
He talks vaguely about basic liberty or dignity rights that might include immunity from enslavement and torture. But even assuming the animals deserve protection, who will assert these rights on the animals' behalf?Next, I'll probably be telling you that we should consider letting animals run for office.
percy for congress
Katherine Harris has competition for a congressional seat in Florida. Her opponent, Percy, is a real dog though. Didn't someone recently get in trouble for registering their dog to vote? Fortunately for Percy, it wasn't in his district.
self-help for copyright owners?
A California congressman is working to fight against the sharing of copyrighted files on the internet by people using peer-to-peer network software. Part of the legislation that he is working on drafting would allow copyright owners to hack into other peoples' computers to locate the presence of copyright protected materials that haven't been purchased. (Copyright owners, or just large multi-media companies?). Between this law, and some of the recent posts on copyfight, I've begun to wonder what types of abuses of privacy and civil libeties will happen in the name of protecting property. I'm not sure that government sanctioned vigilantism is ever a good idea.
Monday, July 01, 2002
tobacco settlement money?
North Carolina is using $400,000 dollars of tobacco settlement money for infrastructure improvements to attract a tobacco processing plant. Might as well just give the money back to the tobacco companies. Oh, wait. They are.
death penalty unconstitutional?
A federal trial judge in New York declared the federal death penalty statute unconstitutional today. While the decision is not binding upon other federal judges, and upon state capital cases, an appeal of the decision will probably have the effect of staying federal executions in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.
asian-americans unite to show patriotism
Former Delaware Lieutenant Governor and University of Delaware Professor S.B. Woo is the president of a large group of volunteers who are actively passing out thousands of American flags to Asian-American shop owners in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Houston, Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York. The group is known as the 80-20 Initiative, and their purpose is to to show their love for America, and overcome feelings of xenophobia that mainstream America might have towards new immigrants and citizens. I like the effort, and I wish that it does have the impact that they are hoping it will.
new sister city
The cities Wilmington counts as its sisters are Kalmar, Sweden; Watford, England; and Fulda, Germany. Osogbo, Nigeria may be next. The designation would come with an exchange of arts, and cultural and business programs. A festival celebrating African culture on the banks of the Brandywine River would be used to raise scholarship money for African students to attend school here.
The final day of Delaware's legislative session has come and gone, and a number of bills passed which will change Delaware's legal landscape. The ones receiving the most attention involve criminal law. One bill will shift the role of a jury, in death penalty cases, from an advisory body to the finder of fact making the final decision regarding whether the sentence is death. That bill has already seen some debate amongst members of the bar. Another law involving the death penalty would allow defense to raise the the issue that the defendant is mentally retarded, to avoid that sentence.
DNA testing will become a reality for all defendants who have been convicted of a felony. A database will be maintained of that genetic information and will be shared with other states.
dupont celebrates 200 years
Congratulations to the Dupont Company on its 200th anniversary. The company was founded in 1802 as a manufacturer of gunpowder, just outside of the City of Wilmington. Dupont has always been active in helping the people of Delaware, whether through charitable giving, community involvement, or partnerships with the University of Delaware. The Wilmington News Journal ran a special spread on Dupont this Sunday covering the past, present, and future of the chemical company in the First State. Dupont is the oldest industrial company on the Fortune 500, and the oldest in the Dow Jones industrial average.
Sunday, June 30, 2002
piracy in russia
Forbes reports on the attempts in Russian to end piracy of copyrighted works, and how it faces both legal and cultural difficulties. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry "estimates that two in every three recordings in Russia is a pirated copy."
mr. potato head joins the police
In Arizona and Los Angeles, a new tool is being used to try to help victims of crimes identify suspects. It's software that uses a photographic database and facial recognition technology, and allows someone to pick and choose different features to construct an image of a face. Police in Arizona have nicknamed the system "Mr. Potato Head," for its similarity to the childhood toy. Software from the company that developed this application is being used in approximately 900 police departments in the United States.
ftc to search engines: disclose paid results
When you search at a search engine such as one of those run by AltaVista, AOL Time Warner, Direct Hit Technologies, iWon, LookSmart, Microsoft and Terra Lycos, you expect the most relevant results for your search to appear. Sometimes, though you may receive certain web sites because someone has paid a search engine to return that page when a certain keyword, or keywords are used in a query. It's difficult to tell the two types of responses apart. It's also not always clear that some or all results on a specific search engine are of the paid-for-placement variety.
A few months back, a consumer advocacy group named Commercial Alert filed a complaint with the FTC asking that the paid-for-results be more clearly identified, so that consumers could tell between web sites that were relevant responses from the search engines database, and ones that they were paid to have appear. The FTC will be asking search engines from the above companies to more clearly label search results that appear as a result of paid placement. They also asked the companies to make it easier for consumers to find out more about their pay for placement programs, so that searchers can make informed decisions regarding which sites to visit, and which search engines to use.