Archive for February, 2008

John McCain’s possible election could trigger review under an obscure part of the Constitution: the birth eligibility provision of Article II. The requirement that an American be “natural-born” has long been controversial, but few associated John McCain with the problem as opposed to other leaders like Arnold Schwarzenegger. McCain, however, may be a foreign born citizen given his birth in the Canal Zone. Due to the bar on advisory opinions, this issue might not be ripe for review until after the general election, triggering another Bush v. Gore moment in the high court. Ted Olson has even been retained for the possible fight to complete the scene for a Supreme redux. (more…)

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To say the least, I am getting a bit of flack for suggesting that John McCain could have a constitutional problem under Article II’s eligibility provision. In the interest in lightening up the discussion, I offer the following as a possible rallying song for Panamanian and Panamanian-born friends alike. It appears that with a little tweaking and the indulgence of our Canadian neighbors, O Canada seems remarkably apropos. (more…)

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The Connecticut Supreme Court has issued an interesting ruling that bars the widow of a judge from suing under a law designed to benefit her alone. It is like a reverse bill of attainder ruling: barring selective special benefits as opposed to punishment in legislation. (more…)

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The United States has now passed a milestone, one of every one hundred adults are in prison or jail. This number grows even more when one considers the number of people on parole or probation. While the dollar is at a record low and our economy is collapsing, we can now at least claim that America now runs the world’s largest prison system. (more…)

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After YouTube blocked a video posted by a human rights activist on Russian prison abuse, the company has yielded to international objections and restored the video. The video shows the chronic abuse that occurs within the Russian prison system. (more…)

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While other departments are trying to teach non-violent methods, Russia appears to favor a more physical approach, as shown in this video. (more…)

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The American Field Service (AFS) is facing a possible lawsuit in a shocking case of alleged abuse and negligence. Maine teenager
Jonathan McCullum lost 60 pounds while placed with a family in Egypt. When he returned he was so weak that he had difficulty carrying his luggage and had to be hospitalized . AFS has refused to comment and referred inquiries to a lawyer who has also refused to comment. This could present some novel tort issues, but it appears that AFS has much to answer for. (more…)

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The expected nomination of John McCain has been eagerly anticipated by constitutional scholars, not because of political support but selfless academic interest. McCain’s election would trigger review of an obscure part of the Constitution: the birth eligibility provision of Article II. The requirement that an American be “natural-born” has long been controversial, but few associated John McCain with the problem as opposed to other leaders like Arnold Schwarzenegger. McCain, however, may be a foreign born citizen given his birth in the Canal Zone. (more…)

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It appears that the French believe that caffeine should only be delivered to tourists in small espresso cups in large numbers on the Champs-Elysées. The French government has banned Red Bull as dangerous to public health and the European Court of Justice said that it could do so. However, the Court ordered France to lift the ban until it could prove those dangers. (more…)

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Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been trying hard — and spending millions in public funds — to bury a scandal related to his affair with a former aide. The most recent defeat for Kilpatrick came yesterday when the Supreme Court ruled that documents from a civil case could be made public — adding more evidence of Kilpatrick’s cover-up of an affair with his chief of staff Christine Beatty. (more…)

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Roger Clemens’ decision to testify before Congress without immunity was a considerable risk designed to protect his legacy. He may now lose both his legacy and his liberty. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Henry Waxman and ranking Republican Tom Davis sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking for a criminal investigation into whether Clemens gave false information to Congress in the investigation in to the use of performance enhancing drugs. (more…)

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Michael Ray, a federal inmate, could rightfully claim some confusion. A “jailhouse lawyer,” Ray convinced the United States Supreme Court to accept an important prisoner case this term — an achievement unmatched by the vast majority of practicing lawyers. Now, however, the South Carolina State Attorney General is reportedly investigating Ray for possible charges of practicing without a license. What is particularly curious is that this is the same state that recently admitted well-connected applicants for the bar after they flunked the exam. South Carolina appears to have entered some parallel universe where success in the law is failure while failure in the law is success. (more…)

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Those brilliant environmentalists in the Chinese regime that brought us the Three Gorges Dam and cancer villages have come up with another breakthrough idea. Faced with soaring pollution in lakes like Chau Hu (Lake Chao), the Chinese government is introducing silver carp to eat the toxic algae chocking the lake. It will then feed the toxic-algae fed fish to Chinese citizens as food. (more…)

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Only recently, the Saudi police arrested an American businesswoman who sat down at a Starbucks next to a man who was not a family member. Now, a university professor has been sentenced to eight months in jail and 180 lashes for having coffee with a female student in Saudi Arabia. He was arrested by the religious police for being in a state of khulwa – seclusion – with an unrelated female. (more…)

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Karyn Galila, 24, has been given a 90 day jail sentence for her false report of being raped at gun point by five men in San Mateo, California. What is most striking about this story is the lack of consistency in the treatment of such false accounts, particularly the refusal of prosecutors to pursue charges against the two women behind the false rape charges in the Duke Lacrosse case. (more…)

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The Chinese government has been heralding its “train to the roof of the world,” the $4 billion Qinghai-Xizang railway to the Tibetan plains that is the latest flash point with environmentalists. Environmentalists objected on various grounds to the project, including its destruction of pristine areas and specific threat to the struggling Chinese antelope. The concerns for both were quickly extinguished with a remarkable picture of antelope gingerly running under the elevated tracks of the train in an otherwise perfect nature scene. The only problem is that Liu Weiqing’s photograph (which won various awards) is a fake. (more…)

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A Tortured Defense;
The guessing game is over. We know the U.S. government OK’d and utilized waterboarding. So what — if anything — are we going to do about it?  (more…)

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Jerry Seinfeld has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Missy Chase Lapine over comments made about her on national television. Seinfeld insists that he was just joking, but the laugh could be on him under the standard for such pre-trial dismissal. (more…)

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Arizona Bus driver Kim Sullivan has been charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct after the video below was shown to authorities. On the video, Sullivan is shown in a full hair-pulling wrestling match with a student. Three students were also charged. It seems likely that civil litigation will likely result from the controversy. (more…)

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Two unsettling announcements were made today. Scientists have determined the precise date for the end of the world while Starbucks has announced that it will stop serving coffee for THREE HOURS today. Breathe, breathe, . . . now panic. (more…)

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An Austrian lawyer, Markus Groh, 49, was killed near the Bahamas after being attacked by a shark. The tourist boat, Shear Water, of Riviera Beach-based Scuba Adventures, routinely chums the water with fish blood and parts to attract sharks — then invites tourists to dive among them. It raises some interesting torts questions. (more…)

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An interesting story on tasers has come out of Canada. In Ottawa, the police department instituted special “responsibility pay” if they regularly took a course on the proper use of force. The result appears to be a sharp drop in the use of force and tasers. (more…)

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Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes has resigned after a disclosure by the former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo military commissions, Col. Morris Davis, involving Haynes’ view of the true function of the military trials: to blindly impose guilty verdicts. Davis revealed that Haynes insisted that the military tribunals only produce convictions and no acquittals — leading to the demand of various military lawyers to be transferred. Haynes is the very same person that the White House and GOP fought to be made a federal judge. (more…)

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Police in Florida have arrested Moses Rogers, Jr., 28, with cruelty to animals charge for yelling at a police dog in a patrol vehicle. It appears that the dog was deeply offended or agitated by the encounter. (more…)

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Remember the horrific accounts of how Al Qaeda used two women with Down Syndrome to carry out attacks killing roughly 100 people in Baghdad in February? It turns out that there is no evidence that they had any physical or mental ailments and may not have any connection to Al Qaeda. It turns out the the account of the Down syndrome bombers was traced to Iraqi officials who reportedly based their view on the appearance of the women’ heads – which had been severed in the blasts. (more…)

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Zacarias Moussaoui is back. The self-confessed terrorist has filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit, contesting the trial court’s refusal to give him his choice of lawyers and the denial of information to him in his defense. While it is extremely unlikely that he will prevail in the Fourth Circuit, the arguments being made by Arnold and Porter are not nearly as crazy as their client. (more…)

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It appears that Elmo is past tickling and moving on to busting a cap in the head of toddlers who mess with him. A family has an interesting complaint against Fisher-Price: Elmo says he want to kill their son, James — as clearly shown on this video. (more…)

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American Airlines is looking as a likely lawsuit after a series of mishaps and mistakes on a flight from Haiti to New York. After refusing repeated requests for oxygen from a sick woman, Carine Desir, the airline crew then used faulty equipment and empty oxygen tanks to treat her. She died on the flight. (more…)

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After proclaiming that the nation’s security was in imminent danger due to the refusal to give telecommunication companies immunity, the Bush Administration has backed off the claim and now says that there has been no interruption in intelligence. Nevertheless, the Administration has continued to argue that that it is ultimately a choice between giving financial protection to corporations or risk a massive terrorist attack. (more…)

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Michigan artist Edward Stross thought that he was painting a classic when he used exteriro wall of his studio as the backdrop for Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man.” The problem was not Adam, but (once again) Eve — or at least her exposed breast. In a legal case with biblical dimensions, it appears that both Adam and Edward were undone by Eve until a Michigan appellate court ruled that the city of Roseville could not force a cover-up. (more…)

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Angela Nellany has pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon in California . The alleged weapon: a can of wasps. Despite the testimony of a man who alleged that Nellany tried to hire her to kill her estranged husband, Paul Nellany, and testimony on the attempt to use a can of wasps (Paul is highly allergic), she did not admit guilt in her plea and will receive only a few more months of prison on a two-year sentence. (more…)

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An environmental group called OneVoice has started an international campaign to highlight the horrible treatment of animals in Chinese zoos that range from using tortoises for target practice with coins to forcing bears to don boxing gloves and to punch each other. (more…)

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The fact that Jamie Lee Spears became pregnant as a minor is generally treated as an entertainment story rather than a case of child molestation for her adult boyfriend. However, even minors are now being subject to registration as sexual predators for fondling and other sexual acts with other minors under a federal law passed with the support of various members, including disgraced ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R. Fla). It is the called the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 and various states are now being compelled to put juvenile names into the system over the objections of many child advocates. (more…)

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U.S. District Judge suspended the trial date for U.S. Rep. William Jefferson pending his appeal. Jefferson has filed a novel challenge over the use of privileged material in the grand jury that led to his indictment on corruption charges. (more…)

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Despite confirmation of waterboarding by the Administration and the existence of a torture program, Attorney Michael Mukasey continues to refuse to acknowledge that waterboarding is a crime and has blocked any criminal investigation that would implicate the President in the commission of a war crime. Now, Democrats are heralding an internal investigation that promises nothing beyond a low-grade ethics review with no likely action against individual lawyers. (more…)

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The police department in Cookeville, Tennessee, is facing a very serious charge in a lawsuit alleging that its officers first used a police dog to attack a suspect, Carlos Ferell, without cause and then plant drugs on him. The scene is captured on this video — as well as officers mocking Ferell once the drugs are pulled from his pocket. (more…)

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Cartoon do not usually make for legal doctrine, but then again most employers can recognize a joke. The managers of Catfish Bend Casino, however, seemed to lack an sense of humor or sense of perspective. They fired Dave Steward, a former security supervisor, for simply posting a Dilbert cartoon — a termination found by a judge to be without cause. (more…)

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Ok, I am the only one suggesting it. However, the video below should strongly support a ban on further impromptu presidential dancing. (more…)

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An eleven-year-old boy may have just struck out pitching legend Roger Clemens. Photos have surfaced from a party given by Jose Canseco in 1998 — taken by one of the children. They purportedly show Clemens at the party, which Clemens vehemently denied in sworn testimony in hearings on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Baseball legend Jose Canseco may also be at risk in this disclosure. (more…)

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GOP Rep. Rick Renzi (Ariz.) has been indicted on charges of fraud in questionable land deals as well as money laundering. The former member of the House Intelligence Committee faces a very stiff challenge given the specificity of this indictment. (more…)

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I know that I am a sucker for this stuff, but this video rivals the early bonding scene in Columbia. This could well become an alternative to When Animals Attack. I am not sure if When Lions Hug will hold as much of an audience, but I am sure there is some television producers working on that question at this very moment. (more…)

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Arkansas Lt. David Mitchell is accused of filmed himself using a stun gun on a cow as his colleague laugh at the abuse of the animal. He will not be criminally charged. (more…)

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Madonna Constantine, professor of psychology and education at Columbia’s Teachers College, has been sanctioned for plagiarism. Constantine was previously involved in a controversy over a noose found on her door. (more…)

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In a surprising decision, convicted attorney Mary S. Roberts received no jail time for her convictions of theft in a sordid sex/blackmail scheme with her husband, lawyer Ted H. Roberts. She received 10 years probation despite the fact that her husband received five years and she faced a maximum of 20 years in prison. The sentence seems rather inconsistent with her husband and a bit light given the multiple count conviction in this case. (more…)

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It can be honestly said that the apple did not fall far from the tree in the case of father and son team Paul M. Crowell, 22, and his father, Paul J. Dupey, 41. Both demonstrated a room temperature IQ when they first stole allegedly stole a police taser gun and then took turns stunning each other for a YouTube video. They are now facing criminal charges. (more…)

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Karl Rove has been accused by Republican operative in Alabama of asking her to procure sexually compromising pictures of Alabama’s Democratic governor Don Siegelman. Jill Simpson’s allegations are particularly interesting because Siegelman was eventually convicted for bribery in a case that has drawn considerable criticism that it was politically motivated. However, the case against Siegelman was based on some very damaging testimony of a pay-to-play culture in his office. The new allegations are likely to increase calls for a renewed investigation. (more…)

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A New York woman has filed in interesting torts case against ABC News over a “Primetime” segment called “Stepfamilies in Crisis.” On the 2006 segment , ABC showed Kyle Nelson, then 15, being held down and punched by her stepfather Joe Nelson. She is now suing the network for failing to intervene and invasion of privacy, among other torts. (more…)

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Video: Lion Embraces Rescuer

I cannot find any reason to post this video of an African lion greeting his rescuer in Columbia. There is not a single legal, social, policy or political element. It is just pretty darn cute. (more…)

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As the legacy of the Roberts Court has started to form over the last few years, one of its most pronounced trends has been a highly pro-business bent. This trend continues this term with a series of rulings, including a very significant ruling in favor of medical manufacturers on the question of federal preemption in torts in Riegel v. Medtronic. (more…)

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Rep. William Jefferson filed an appeal on Wednesday to the Fourth Circuit to challenge 14 of 16 charges against him. The appeal could delay the prosecution for months. (more…)

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