Archive for September, 2011

Now this is a takings case. Last week saw the last bullfight in Barcelona, Spain. This week there is talk of a lawsuit by bullfighting companies who want compensation for the ban on killing bulls slowly in a ring for the enjoyment of thousands of fans of the blood sport.
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Let no one say that criminal lawyers and their clients are not romantic. This picture is a staged death scene by a hired killer, Carlos Roberto de Jesus, who fell in love with his target in Brazil. Presumably, Sylvester Stallone is taking Spanish in preparation for the film.
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A Canadian police officer is the focus of an inquiry after a citizen filmed him shooting a Taser in the face of a teenager involved in a street brawl. While the 17-year-old is recovering, he took a surgery to remove the prong from his ear.
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There has long been an reasonable expectation among citizens that, if they are falsely accused of an offense, they will not have to pay either the fine or the cost of a hearing. Indeed, even if found guilty, there is generally not a charge for seeking justice in a court. Not in Salem, Massachusetts. The state supreme court ruled last week that motorists must pay the state even if they win their cases in court. The cost of fighting a ticket is $75, which can be roughly the cost of the ticket itself. It is a system that makes a mockery of the right to challenge a charge. No wonder so many witches were burned in the town . . . most could not afford the cost of an appeal.

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A Kuwaiti court on Sunday sentenced a Sunni Islamist activist to three months in jail for tweeting comments that were deemed derogatory to Shiite Muslims. I have previously written about the increase in such blasphemy prosecutions, including a trend in the West, as well as President Obama’s decision to support a U.N. resolution embracing the concept of blasphemy prosecutions – an abandonment of our long opposition to such laws. As previously discussed in a column and a line of blog stories (here and here and here and here), various Western governments have been curtailing free speech by prosecuting blasphemy and speech against various groups. In this case, Mubarak al-Bathali was convicted over his use of Twitter. It appears that you can blaspheme in 140 words or less.
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In Bay Minette, Alabama, felons are being given the opportunity to climb the wall. Not the prison wall, mind you. The Alabama court and local police are helping felons over the wall of separation of church and state by giving convicted citizens an opportunity to avoid jail if they volunteer — so long as it is with a church.
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Former Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn of Fayetteville has added her name to the expanding number of lawyers who are degrading the legal profession with faux court shows that mete out justice as a form of entertainment. I have previously denounced these shows and the types of lawyers who reduce their profession to the level of farce and freak shows (here). In Gunn’s case, the state bar informed her in 2010 that she was violating ethical rules by arranging to have her hearings filmed and released to shows. Rather than give up her desire for fame, Gunn resigned from the court and created a fake court called “Last Shot with Judge Gunn,” a show criticized by drug law experts as harmful and misleading. The problem with people like Gunn is that these shows are the product by unrestrained and self-consuming egotism built on the ruins of such professional values.
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We often criticize Saudi Arabia for its treatment of women and religious minorities under its extreme religious laws. Accordingly, we should also not hesitate to praise the country when it moves toward giving greater freedoms or embracing tolerance for minority groups. On Sunday, Saudi King Abdullah announced on Sunday he was giving women the right to vote and run in municipal elections.
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Physicists did not take long to find the first practical application of the reported success of scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in making a subatomic particle go faster than the speed of light for the first time. The scientists used neutrinos, which were observed smashing past the cosmic speed barrier of 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second). Below is the first joke being circulated around by our colleagues in the Physics Departments (and sent to me by one of my colleagues at the law school).
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Campus Republicans at the University of California Berkeley have reportedly received threats after creating a novel form of protests against California schools considering race in admissions. The students created a sale of baked goods priced according to their race: white men for $2.00, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1.00, black men for $0.75 and Native American men for $0.25. All women will get $0.25 off those prices.
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In my torts class, we often discuss accounts of “spontaneous combustion” particularly after discussing the case of spontaneous combustion of a hay rick in Vaughn v. Menlove. Such cases have occasionally been reported with people, albeit to skeptical police. The latest comes from Ireland where Michael Faherty, 76, seemed to spontaneously combust.
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Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

 

When it comes to the Second Amendment and guns, it seems that President Obama can’t make anyone happy.  Ever since Obama announced his candidacy for the Presidency, the NRA has screamed that Obama will be taking away the guns. This scare tactic continued when Obama defeated John McCain for the Presidency.  Just what has Barack Obama done to make the NRA and gun owners frightened for their guns?  The simple answer to this question is nothing. (more…)

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Sunday in Paris With Eric

Here is our picture of the week from our erstwhile colleague in the City of Light, Eric Tenin.
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Ponzi Schemes vs. Social Security

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

In his 2010 book, “Fed Up,” Governor Rick Perry called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.” A Ponzi scheme is an individual investment plan wherein investors are paid “interest” by the principal paid into the scheme by later dupes. A geometrically increating supply of new investor principal is required to pay off the “interest” to previous investors.

The WSJ calls Perry’s claim misleading and PolitiFact terms it False.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger 

Part I

 Jonah Goldberg was not pleased with Banned Books Week: Just a Lot of Propaganda Says Jonah Goldberg, the post that I wrote for the Turley blog last Sunday. In my post, I criticized Goldberg’s op-ed titled Banned Books Week is just hype, which appeared in USA Today on September 5th. Goldberg responded to my criticism of his op-ed with a blog post titled Banned Book B.S. Cont’d at the National Review Online (NRO). He said that my effort to come “to the rescue of the Banned Book Week crowd” was “entirely underwhelming.” He added, “A big chunk of her response restates my op-ed while casting her incomprehension as if it’s a rebuttal.”

Goldberg said my insinuation that the threat of book banning is a more serious problem than we realize because of the book challenges that go unreported to ALA (American Library Association) was “incredibly lame.”

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