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 www.blogger.com, 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: info@delawoffice.com.
Or add a comment. Comments by: YACCS

We encourage the exchange of responsible ideas.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

 
how do you say "lawyer" and other questions

A Dialect Survey from Harvard University is asking how you pronounce certain words, and other questions, including which words you use for particular objects. They are taking the results and putting them on maps of the USA. Some sample questions:
What do you call the area of grass between the sidewalk and the road?

What do you call the long sandwich that contains cold cuts, lettuce, and so on?

What is the distinction between dinner and supper?
And, of course, the correct way of saying "lawyer" is to rhyme the "law" part with "boy," and not with "saw." The rest of you just have funny accents.


 
the henhouse v. the fox

Here's another disappointing story about a lapse in responsibility with an ironic twist.


 
drug testing

Drug testing is invasive, insulting, and generally irrelevant to job performance. Why do so many companies insist on it?
ReasonOnline takes a thorough look at drug testing in the work place. Is drug testing effective? Is alcohol a much larger problem? Once a company has a drug testing program in place, what perceptions might they face if they decide to stop?


Friday, November 01, 2002

 
law and literature

According to an article in the New York Times over 40% of law schools now offer Law and Literature classes. The movement has its critics, and I wonder if it's a class that should be offered as part of a law school curriculum. But, I would have signed up to take a class like that if it was offered at my law school. Then again, they are offering this Shakespearean Continuing Legal Education (CLE) class


 
cybersecurity and the fbi

At a speech given to the Informational Technology Association of America yesterday, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III talked about changes to the FBI to protect businesses. It makes for interesting reading. What challenges face the federal government? How much help will the private sector provide them? The director also mentions the FOIA issue that I raised earlier today:
Second, let me address your greatest concern, and therefore our greatest concern: the chance of having your reports made public under the Freedom of Information Act. We completely understand your ambivalence and your lawyers' warnings, but we are confident this issue can be worked out to everyone's satisfaction. Let us approach Congress together with a plan that will provide the tools you need to protect your equities and that we need to do our job.
The speech does give some insight into how the federal government will try to work with business to try to make their networks more secure.


 
lawyers are starting to stand up for the cause

In response to a continual barrage of lawyer bashing, and other such slanderous and small minded negativity, some lawyers are stepping up to the battle lines. Campaign slurs by the Republican party against the profession as a whole are entirely inappropriate. They make me ashamed to be a Republican.


 
businesses afraid of reporting cybercrimes?

You're the chief information officer for a tech business. Your computer system has just been hacked. Who do you call?

A number of businesses have been hesitant to contact the FBI in that situation. At a cybercrime conference in Virginia yesterday, government officials made assurances that they would try to avoid bad publicity for a company when circumstances like that arise.

Cio.com presents a view of reporting cybercrime from an information executive's perspective called Fear Factor: A reality check on your top five concerns about reporting security incidents. The article does raise a serious concern in addition to those five that people should be aware of.

The five that they list, and explain very well:
  • Fear of calling the wrong agency
  • Fear that everyone will find out
  • Fear that the government will take computers away
  • Fear that they will end up looking bad
  • Fear that there is no benefit to reporting cybercrime
The article also considers a Freedom of Information Act exemption that was being reviewed by the Senate that would protect information disclosed by a company that voluntarily reported cybercrime to the Federal Government. The act was originally the Critical Infrastructure Information Security Act of 2001 (summary), which was worked into the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (pdf). (See TITLE VII?Miscellaneous, Subtitle C?Critical Infrastructure Information, starting on page 170).

However, as the CIO.com article states, it may be possible that preparedness for a cyberattack should be part of an SEC disclosure, as is the reporting of a cybercrime:
"We can show that reporting may be a legal duty," says Christopher Wolf, a partner for Proskauer Rose in Washington, D.C.?specifically, in cases where an incident could have a significant impact on business.
And, under the Homeland Security Act, a disclosure to the SEC would not be protected under the FOIA exemption. A sidebar to the CIO.com article notes that the Homeland Security Act didn't make it through the legislative process this term. But, it's possible that the exemption will survive any retooling of the Act when the next term begins. And, even if the Homeland Security Act doesn't go through, this issue will likely be revisited in some form.

So, you're the chief information officer for a tech business. Your computer system has just been hacked. Who do you call?


Wednesday, October 30, 2002

 
filtered web sites

Do the owners of web sites that are being blocked by another company's filtering software have a right to know about the blocking? That's a good question, but it's not the heart of the litigation going on to allow a researcher to decrypt a software company's list of web sites filtered. Should a researcher be allowed to decrypt the protections built into filtering software to gauge how the web is being censored? Will the researcher be violating current copyright law if he makes that attempt? Would allowing others to be able to use that decryption tool be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act? If the Delaware Law Office web site was on that list, I would want to know.


 
online activism

The last two days I've linked to a couple of articles that involve politicians using the web in their election campaigns. In a switch, I'm pointing tonight to a use of the web that helps people contact their representatives.

Alternet has an article about people harnessing the power of the web to keep informed of legislation in Washington, D.C., and to enable them to draft documents indicating their positions on the shaping of laws. The article focuses upon the TrueMajority web site which was started by one of the cofounders of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream:
TrueMajority sifts through all the stuff going on in Congress. When your voice counts to create a just and sustainable world, you get an email alert. Then just by clicking one button a fax is sent to your congressperson in your name. It takes about 2 minutes a month and it's free.
While I like the idea a whole lot in theory, the thought of activism for activism's sake doesn't thrill me. Any issue worth protesting about is worth more than two minutes time to consider.


 
have you registered your beer keg today?

There's a new weapon in the battle against underage drinking, and I'm still trying to figure out whether it's a good idea or a bad idea. A proposal coming out of Westchester County, New York, is calling for a state law requiring that kegs be registered, and that identification information regarding who purchased specific kegs be recorded and monitored carefully.


 
le grande mac

If a major fast food chain issues a warning that you should only eat at their establishment once a week and that too much fast food isn't good for you, what do you do? Imagine you're the American representative of that company, and you have to explain why the French spokesperson made such a statement. On top of that, critics brandishing the threat of litigation are eating the news up. I'd love to see more fast food restaurants come up with healthier alternatives to their standard menus. Maybe that tide is rolling in.


 
federal information sharing

Applying for a student loan, or some other application that involves the federal government? Any guess as to how many eyes get a peek at the information contained on the federal forms? Evidently, it's quite a few.


Tuesday, October 29, 2002

 
software licenses no blue light specials

Kmart's attempts to sell off their internet provider, bluelight.com, has hit a major snag in the form of software licenses. An interesting thread over at slashdot looks at the Microsoft's objection to the transfer of licenses involved in the sale. I'm wondering how many corporations are reviewing the terms of their software licenses upon hearing about this. It's impossible to tell from the facts presented whether bluelight.com is a separate company in possession of the licenses, or if Kmart is the licensee.


 
amish safe driving manuals

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is putting together a driving safety manual for buggy drivers on Pennsylvania roadways. The focus of the booklets will be upon how to anticipate and prepare for drivers of much faster moving vehicles. The biggest challenge the Department may face is figuring out how to distribute the safety guidelines, since buggy operators don't need to go to PennDOT offices to register vehicles or secure licenses.


 
sea turtles find friends in costa rica

Costa Rica passed a law last week protecting sea turtles, to much celebration by the Sea Turtle Survival League. Amazing creatures.


 
"ought to be a law", part two

Yesterday, I wrote about an essay contest in Ohio for high school students sponsored by the Ohio State Bar Association with this name. A California legislator is holding a contest called There oughta be a law for the second straight year. Last year, the top three entries out of one hundred received were passed by the California legislature into law. With that rate of success, the contest is being held again. A companion contest, "This One's Gotta Go," accompanies it this year. I mentioned yesterday that I thought the essay contest was a good idea, worth copying in other places. The same holds true for this one.


 
technology and government

Business Week has a special report on in their latest online issue that shows government trying to adopt new methods, and facing new challenges while doing so. It's a six part series, and it raises a number of good questions.

The first part takes a look at whether the efficiencies of the web might help agencies save money while providing improved services.

The IRS is trying to meet a goal of having 80% of their filings be completed online by 2007, and the biggest hurdle that they face is having the public help them while being an unpopular entity. Internet filing reduces the costs associated with paying taxes by half, and speeds the process up tremendously. Will the American public help them meet that goal?

The Office of Management & Budget is responsible for coordinating the IT efforts of the federal government. Are they up to the challenge? (And, it is quite a challenge.)

Instead of targeting consumers directly, many dot com's are looking at becoming customers of the government. Is it a business model with a possibility of success?

More public records from the government are becoming available online. What is the proper balance between privacy and accessibility to public records?

Political campaigns are going online, and sometimes that's not a good thing. How will politics and internet mesh as more candidates to to the web in the future.


 
spam busters.... well... sort of

Verizon settles its lawsuit against a spammer. Is this like the little dutch boy? Or will it have an impact?

In addition to the criminal charges that can be brought in Delaware for such spam activities (11 Del.C. 932-938), the Delaware Code provides a particularly toothy provision which permits the confiscation of certain property of the criminal, sale and distribution of his assets by a receiver, and monetary damages that can sometimes include treble damages, and must include reimbursment of victim's attorney fees. (11 Del.C. 941)

The criminal penalties can range widely, including from 1 to 8 years in jail , and from 100 to 500 in dollars in fines. (11 Del.C. 4205, 4206).


Monday, October 28, 2002

 
busy day for the aclu

A post about the ACLU and two permits -- one an occupancy permit, and the other a parade permit. In one case, the ACLU is asking a court to decide whether a permit should have been issued when it wasn't. In the other case, they are questioning the need for a permit when the law is unclear, and may be unreasonable. A church was denied an occupancy permit by a borough in Pennsylvania, resulting in the filing of a lawsuit by the ACLU on behalf of the church. A suit was also filed today by the ACLU in Shrieveport, Louisiana, on behalf of a man who was fined for failure to have a parade permit when he picketed in front of a KMart. He was the only protestor.


 
copying dvds

Is it against the law to manufacture software that allows people to make backups of DVDs that they own? SunSpot.net takes a look at this question from the perspective of a company that makes software which allows DVDs to be copied, regardless of whether the disks have some type of copy protection or not.


 
corporate information on a web site

When a corporation posts information on a web site, even though they haven't publicized the presence of the information nor made it available from a link on the rest of the site, is the information public? The information was part of a third quarter report that hadn't been released to the public in the manner described by Sweden's law. The corporation has pressed criminal charges against a news service for publishing parts of that report, which they accessed at the corporation's web site.


 
there ought to be a law

That's the name of an essay contest sponsored by the Ohio State Bar Association for high school students in Ohio. It's good to see Bar Associations involved in activities like this one, aimed at getting students interested in learning about the law.


 
elections and the web

Politics will be changed by the internet. The Christian Science Monitor is reporting on How the Web is changing election campaigns. One of the sites that they point out is PoliticalWeb.info, which has some interesting lessons for politicians as well as voters.


 
national recognition for delaware attorney

Congratulations to Dana Harrington Conner, who recently traveled to the U.S. Supreme Court to be recognized with the 2002 Sandra Day O'Connor Award for Professional Service. She is the managing attorney of Delaware Volunteer Legal Services (DVLS) which is an organization of volunteer attorneys who provide services to low income families in a number of areas. According to the Wilmington News Journal the DVLS helped more than 1,000 low income clients in 2001. In addition to being an adjunct faculty member of Widener University School of Law as the Director of the School's Delaware Civil Law Clinic, she is also very active in the Delaware legal community:
She is a member of the American Judicature Society and the Melson?Arsht American Inn of Court in Wilmington, Delaware. She serves on the board of the Delaware State Bar Association?s Standing Committee on the Provision of Legal Services to Low Income People and is an adjunct professor of the Delaware Civil Clinic. Ms. Harrington Conner is frequently called as an expert witness in domestic violence proceedings and is a recognized authority on protection from abuse proceedings. She is a regular speaker at legal seminars and programs for the public.
It's good to see recognition go to someone who deserves it.


 
an excerpt from our revolutionary times

To the honorable the representatives of the counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex, in general assembly met, 14th March, 1775. The petition of the inhabitants, freemen of Kent county, most humbly sheweth:

That we conceive a well regulated militia, composed of the gentlemen freeholders and other freemen, to be not only a constitutional right, but the natural strength and most stable security of a free government, from the exercise of which a wise people will not excuse themselves even in time of peace. That happily secure in the affectionate protection of our mother country, we have for some time past been carelessly negligent of military art and discipline, and are therefore the more exposed to the insult and ravages of our natural enemies at this unhappy time, when we have lost our interest in the esteem and affection of our parent state.

We therefore pray your honors to take our case into your most serious consideration, and, by passing an act of assembly establishing a militia throughout this government, grant us relief in the premises, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.


 
eating an elephant

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I kept reminding myself of this on last Friday. It was my first Friday on the bench at Newark's Alderman's Court. The courtroom was packed, the lobby was packed. One case at the time. That was the only way to get through it.


Sunday, October 27, 2002

 
delaware news

The Board of Bar Examiners of the Delaware Supreme Court have announced the names of those who have passed the bar exam in Delaware.

Judge Carl Goldstein has announced his retirement from the Superior Court of Delaware, to take effect at the end of November. His future plans may involve teaching or music. His intelligence and experience on the bench will be missed. I hope that he does start teaching. Sharing what he has learned during his judicial tenure is a great opportunity for anyone fortunate enough to be his student. Judge Goldstein also performs roots music, and is a longtime DJ for a Saturday morning radio show (Fire on the Mountain) at the University of Delaware (WVUD -- 91.3 FM).

EZ-Pass transponders are wearing out more quickly than expected, prompting the company which issues them in Delaware and New Jersey to "agree to provide 209,000 free replacement windshield transponders to New Jersey and Delaware." It sounds like the program needs some work.


 
justice stevens

The Associated Press wire is carrying a profile of Justice John Paul Stevens that's worth reading if you're concerned about the people behind the laws. Known as fiercely independent, and often referred to as a wild card, the Justice has been issuing a dissent in approximately one-quarter of the rulings of the Court. I'm in agreement with him that dissent is a good thing.


 
divorce and the disclosure of corporate information

A couple of large corporations have had closely held corporate information disclosed in divorce courts recently. One corporation involved was General Electric, and the other was accounting firm Ernst and Young. An interesting conclusion made in the article is that corporations may have to fight even harder to keep information about their companies from being disclosed in divorce cases given the current climate surrounding corporate secrecy.


 
can the arts reduce crime?

Juveniles in Malibu, California, are spending a couple of days away from the detention center where they've been incarcerated to act in an improv troop, in front of a paying audience. The Christian Sceince Monitor writes about the performance in an article called Thug to thespian: Young offenders take the stage. Sounds like it was a great performance too. We need more programs like this one.


 
poland in the eu

Within the next year and a few months, Poland will likely become a member of the European Union. Before January 1, 2004, rolls around Poland needs to implement 80,000 pages of EU treaty law. I'm wondering how much that will change Poland. And once Poland, and nine other countries become members of the Union, how will the larger Union fit in with the rest of the world?








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