Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Obit watch: March 23, 2015.

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Izola Ware Curry passed away on March 7th. This is slightly old news, but I’ve been waiting for a good link.

For those of you who are saying, “Who?”: Ms. Curry was the woman who stabbed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The stabbing nearly cost Dr. King his life, requiring hours of delicate surgery to remove Ms. Curry’s blade, a seven-inch ivory-handled steel letter opener, which had lodged near his heart. If he had so much as sneezed, his doctors later told him, he would not have survived.

Ms. Curry was found incompetent to stand trial and spent the rest of her life in a series of institutions.

Chinua Achebe, noted Nigerian author, has also passed away. Somewhere I have a copy of Things Fall Apart. I need to dig that out, as I’ve been meaning to read it, and I seem to be out of Ross Thomas books at the moment.

Pratchett.

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

NYT. BBC. Tam. A/V Club. The discussion there, and on Fark, is surprisingly civil (at least, last time I looked).

I think I’m an outlier here. I’ve only read one and half Pratchett books. The half was Good Omens (which, as I recall, I read in an advance reading copy I picked up at an ABA convention).

One of my friends and cow orkers at Dell pushed Guards! Guards! on me when he found out I hadn’t read any Discworld novels. I liked it about as much as I liked Good Omens, which is to say quite a bit. But one thing that struck me about it was that, buried in this funny story, was actually a kind of nice and sweet vision of how the police should work: how they should combat crime, and how they should relate with the citizens they protect. In some ways (and I’m not sure Pratchett knew it), Guards! Guards! was very much like “Dragnet”, except funnier. Other people have made a similar point: Pratchett overlapped silly fantasy with contemporary social commentary.

I haven’t picked up any of his books since Guards! Guards!. That’s because I wanted to hold them in reserve. Now, I feel like I’ve got enough to keep me busy for several years.

There may be additional links tomorrow, but I’ll leave off with this. I wanted to purchase a membership in the NRA (or the British equivalent) for Pratchett when I first encountered it. From Night Watch:

There had been that Weapons Law, for a start. Weapons were involved in so many crimes that, Swing reasoned, reducing the number of weapons had to reduce the crime rate.
Vimes wondered if he’d sat up in bed in the middle of the night and hugged himself when he’d dreamed that one up. Confiscate all weapons, and crime would go down. It made sense. It would have worked, too, if only there had been enough coppers – say, three per citizen.
Amazingly, quite a few weapons were handed in. The flaw, though, was one that had somehow managed to escape Swing, and it was this: criminals don’t obey the law. It’s more or less a requirement for the job. They had no particular interest in making the streets safer for anyone except themselves. And they couldn’t believe what was happening. It was like Hogswatch every day.

Edited to add: LAT.

Edited to add 2: WP.

Random notes: March 6, 2015.

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Pigeon King International sold breeding pairs of pigeons to farmers with a guarantee to buy back their offspring at fixed prices for 10 years. Initially, Galbraith told farmers that the birds were high-end racing pigeons and that he planned to sell the offspring to the lucrative markets that support the sport overseas. Later, Galbraith changed his story, telling farmers that the birds were part of his trailblazing plan to elevate pigeon meat, known as squab, from a fringe delicacy in North America into the next ubiquitous chicken. But in the end, “they were neither,” the prosecutor said; Galbraith never sold a single pigeon for sport or meat. He seemed to have merely taken the young birds he bought from Pigeon King International farmers and resold them, as breeding pairs, to other Pigeon King International farmers, shuttling pigeons from one barn to another. And this meant continually recruiting new investors so he would have the cash to buy the pigeons his existing investors produced every month. When Galbraith’s scheme finally fell apart, Pigeon King International had almost a thousand breeders under contract in five Canadian provinces and 20 U.S. states. He’d taken nearly $42 million from farmers and walked away from obligations to buy back $356 million worth of their baby birds, ruining many of those investors. A forensic accountant determined that signing up enough new pigeon breeders to pay off those contracts would have dug him into an even deeper, $1.5 billion hole.

Speaking of fringe delicacies, your yearly slideshow of rodeo food from the HouChron is here. The deep-fried bacon-wrapped Reese’s peanut butter cup sounds interesting, but it looks a little small; I have to wonder what the value proposition is. Deep-fried Nutella also intrigues me, as does deep-fried pecan pie.

Obit watch, continued: Albert Maysles, noted documentary filmmaker. A/V Club.

Confession: I have a fair number of Maysles’ films on Criterion DVDs. I tried to watch “Grey Gardens”: I got about 10 minutes into it and just couldn’t watch any more. I’m not exactly sure why, but there was something about it that just made me extremely uncomfortable…

Random notes: February 23, 2015.

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Am I understanding things correctly? They made a movie out of “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law“? And it won Best Picture?

Ackquille Pollard is a rising young rapper under the name Bobby Shmurda. Mr. Pollard’s rap career has been temporarily sidetracked:

Mr. Pollard was arrested for what city prosecutors said was his role as the “driving force” and “organizing figure” behind the street gang known as GS9, an offshoot of the Crips. In one incident just a month before he was signed, prosecutors said, Mr. Pollard shot at his brother, shattering glass at a Brooklyn barbershop. He faces up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy, reckless endangerment and gun possession; others charged, including Mr. Pollard’s childhood friends, face more serious accusations, including second-degree murder.

Mr. Pollard is being held on $2 million bail. And he’s upset that his record label hasn’t bailed him out.

But as rap has become more corporate, that kind of aid is unusual. Matthew Middleton, Mr. Pollard’s entertainment lawyer, said that while Epic is not obligated to cover bail or legal fees for Mr. Pollard, the artist expected more support, financial and emotional, especially after the label’s spirited pursuit of the rapper made them business partners.

“These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world,” Mr. Middleton said. “To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.”

Obit watch: Herman Rosenblat. Mr. Rosenblat was a Holocaust survivor who wrote a memoir of his experiences. In that memoir, he told a story about a girl who threw an apple over the fence to him while he was in a concentration camp; later, after he moved to the United States, he met the girl again and married her.

This was, of course, a great story. Mr. Rosenblat made “Oprah” twice, got a book deal, and there were plans to turn his story into a movie.

And sadly, it turned out that Mr. Rosenblat completely invented the story about the girl and the apple. The book was never published and the movie was never made.

There is an Indian actor named Amitabh Bachchan. He’s apparently not well known in the United States, but he’s hugely popular in India. “He has appeared in more than 150 Bollywood films and served as a longtime host of the country’s wildly popular version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'” according to the LAT. He also had a small part in the 2013 “Gatsby”.

And because of that small part, a group of Sikhs in the United States are claiming Mr. Bachchan is subject to US jurisdiction.

The group has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. making the improbable argument that Bachchan’s work with a U.S. film company gives American courts the ability to hold him responsible for the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in India three decades ago. The group alleges that the actor, now 72, made statements that incited a violent mob.

More:

The suit hinges on the Alien Tort Statute, which in recent years has become the center of a debate over whether American courts can and should be the arbiter of human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world by non-U.S. citizens. The 1789 law, which was passed by the first Congress and initially used in cases of piracy and stolen goods, states that federal courts shall have jurisdiction over wrongs “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

It seems unlikely this will work, at least according to the LAT: the Supreme Court has restricted the ability of plaintiffs to pursue claims under the Alien Tort Statute, and they are also likely to have issues accomplishing service on the defendant.

One Wisconsin suit was dismissed after it became clear the process server hired by the group mistakenly served another Sikh man with a long white beard and turban, not the chief minister of the state of Punjab. Hospital security and Secret Service agents proved a hurdle in serving another Indian politician at a New York cancer treatment facility. A case against Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister at the time of the suit, was thrown out after the U.S. State Department stepped in to declare to the court that Singh was entitled to immunity as a head of state.

On at least one occasion, the group resorted to offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who could successfully serve the lawsuit on Punjab’s chief minister.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#18 in a series)

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Gosh, I love writing these.

The recently re-elected governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, has resigned.

I started a post yesterday about the Kitzhaber scandal, but I was having trouble finding a way into it. Ace posted a good summary: as I understand it, much of the scandal involves Kitzhaber’s fiance, who is accused of influence peddling, not reporting income, ethics violations, and getting people fired who failed to respect her authority.

More coverage here.

Edited to add: this link was broken at the time of the original post, but the Oregonian‘s timeline of the scandal is working now.

10/9/2014 Hayes apologizes and admits to making a “serious mistake by committing an illegal act” when she married an 18-year-old Ethiopian national to help him secure residency in the United States. She appears at a news conference without Kitzhaber, saying she takes responsibility for the 1997 sham marriage.

Also, quote of the day:

There has been no word as to whether Kitzhaber required emergency surgery to remove his face from his palm after his assistant informed him that she had EMAILED orders to delete his EMAILS to EMAIL accounts that were subject to open records requests.

Obit watch and other randomness: February 11, 2015.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Jerry Tarkanian: LV Review-Journal. LV Sun. ESPN. NYT.

(I care very little about college basketball, except for the annual Gonzaga bet. But anyone who ticks off the NCAA gets points in my book.)

“No. Really. I didn’t realize the women at those orgies were hookers. I thought they were socialites.”

Both Lawrence and I are still trying to sort out the implications of this, but I believe it is huge.

…Defendants are ENJOINED from enforcing these provisions.

Perhaps one of my readers who has something more than an Internet GED in law can comment: does this injunction against enforcing the ban on interstate handgun sales apply only in the district in which the ruling was issued? Or does it apply nationwide unless a higher court voids the injunction?

Edited to add: It looks like David Hardy over at Of Arms and the Law has the same question.

…if he enforced it in Maine or in Washington, he’d have violated the injunction, and could be held in contempt by the Texas court.

I would pay money to see that.

Hey, remember when Ray Nagin was convicted of corruption and sent to prison for 14 years? Good times, good times. Anyway, Frank Fradella, the granite countertops guy, is going to do one year in the federal pen for his part in Nagin’s downfall.

The Covington businessman pleaded guilty to stock fraud and bribery charges in 2012, and became a key witness in Nagin’s trial two years later. Fradella testified that he steered a $50,000 payment to Nagin in hopes of winning city contracts, and gave a free shipment of granite to a countertop business owned by Nagin’s sons.

Fradella is getting off light because he rolled on Nagin.

Today’s legal update.

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

I’ve written a bunch about the case of Robert Middleton: start here for more details.

Don Collins, the person who set Middleton on fire and started the chain of events that resulted in his death, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for his actions.

Collins faced a maximum sentence of up to 40 years imprisonment because Collins was 13 at the time of assault. The law in 1998 did not allow juveniles younger than 14 to be prosecuted as an adult, although the age was subsequently lowered to 10. Prosecutors agreed to the 40-year maximum to have him certified to be tried as an adult without the extra protections afforded a juvenile defendant.

Random notes: February 4, 2015.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Mrs. Summer said that she received a copy of the diary anonymously in the mail last week, that as a journalist she is not bound by the court order, and that the entries shed light on a vital question in the estate dispute: Was Tommie Rae Hynie Brown legally married to James Brown?

Related.

I like this. I like this a lot.

In the mean time, all I can really do is focus on my God. Not by proselytizing, not by preaching, and certainly not by telling you What Jesus Would Do. Because my God is just that – all mine, and nothing to do with you.

(Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

Yo, dawg.

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

The bankruptcy of SkyMall and their parent company, Xhibit, has been well covered in many places.

But I wanted to link, again, to this Priceonomics article from 2013 about SkyMall, Xhibit, and their questionable dealings, just in case folks forgot about it.

Skymall is by all accounts a reasonably successful company with $130 million in annual revenue, a differentiated offering, a well known brand, and at least some happy customers. Xhibit on the other hand, appears to be a company with dubious sources of revenue, a very thin competitive advantage, and more hype than substance.

But the police are the only ones who can be trusted with guns!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Two Austin police officers were suspended after they fired their guns accidentally last month, according to disciplinary memos made public Wednesday.

Both officers were suspended for “accidentally” discharging their “patrol shotguns”. One was suspended for three days, and the other officer was suspended for one. (The reason for the difference is not clear. Based on the Statesman‘s reporting, it doesn’t seem that there were any injuries.)

Not gun related, but another officer is being suspended for 16 days. Apparently, he violated guidelines in his handling of a sexual assault case involving a child, and became “involved in a civil matter in violation of the department’s policy”. (These were unrelated offenses, just to be clear.)

Obit watch: January 22, 2015.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

John Bayley, literary critic and husband of Iris Murdoch. Bayley wrote Elegy for Iris about his life with Murdoch and her decline from Alzheimer’s disease.

Alan J. Hirschfield, former president of Columbia Pictures.

Hirschfield was the studio president during the David Begelman affair, and is one of the central figures in David McClintick’s excellent book Indecent Exposure.

Bad politician! No biscuit!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Heh. Heh. Heh. Part I:

The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday, sending shock waves through the political establishment and upending the new legislative session.

Mr. Silver’s party affiliation is given early in the second paragraph. This bit of trivia is in the fifth paragraph:

The investigation of Mr. Silver began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.

Mike the Musicologist tipped me off to this story a while back, but I’ve been kind of waiting until something happened with it. Something did. Sort of.

State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane could face charges of perjury, obstruction, and other crimes in connection with the leak of confidential information to a Philadelphia newspaper in an apparent bid to embarrass her political enemies, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

The grand jury has also recommended charges of “false swearing” and “official oppression”. Ms. Kane’s party affiliation shows up in the fourth paragraph. And the newspaper in question is the Daily News (paragraph seven).

The problem here is that the grand jury recommendation is only advisory: the decision on actually filing charges is up to the local district attorney (“Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman”), and I’m not sure what the odds are on that actually happening.

I’m going to drop this in here, even though it doesn’t fit with the “bad politician” theme, because I don’t have a better place to put it. You may be asking yourself, especially in the light of past coverage on this blog, “What does it take to get yourself fired as a cop in Philadelphia?”

Well, we have an answer to that question:

A former Philadelphia police detective will face criminal charges in connection with allegedly driving his girlfriend – a murder suspect – to Upstate New York, then hindering the homicide investigation by lying to detectives who were looking for her, The Inquirer has learned.