I have the great honor of serving as one of the keynote speakers at the 83rd Annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. I will be speaking today at 9:30 am at the Washington Convention Center. What is particularly cool is that my speech follows the keynote given by Peyton Manning to the group on May 3rd. As a football fanatic (albeit a Bears fan), it does not get better than this lineup. Of course, if Manning is truly excited about meeting a real law professor, I would be willing to take a few seconds to indulge him. I know that many NFL MVPs silently dream of being endomorphic, middle-aged law professors. I just hope that Manning will be able handle the excitement. As for me, I am just excited as a Bears fan . . . this is the closest anyone associated with Chicago has gotten to Manning in a long long time.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor
You may not have heard of it before, but the government has the ability to shut off cell phone service at any time, under the guise of National Security. The Department of Homeland Security has an operating procedure known as Standard Operating Procedure 303( SOP 303) and it has been labeled as the cell phone “kill switch”.
There is a troubling case out of Houston that shows the continuing immunity of the government from even lethal acts of negligence. In Patty v. United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54871A, Plaintiff Steven Craig Patty sought damages in a bizarre case where the DEA paid one of his drivers, without his knowledge, to participate in a highly dangerous drug sting with one of the most violent Mexican drug cartels. Lawrence Chapa, 53, (right) the driver, (who had been arrested in 2010 for possession of a controlled substance) was shot eight times. The sting went badly and resulted in the killing of Patty’s driver and shooting up his tractor-trailer. He claimed conversion, abuse of process, and constitutional torts, but U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal ruled that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is not liable to him even for the repair of this tractor-trailer. It is all an example of the sweeping protection afforded to “discretionary” acts by federal officers.
Like many, I am still waiting for the evidence used as the basis to charge the six officers in Baltimore for the death of Freddie Gray. This morning, however, I was disturbed to read that an effort to create a fundraising site for the defense of the officers was taken down on GoFundMe. It appears that the site has a very questionable standard for funding that does not afford accused parties a presumption of innocence in asking for support to fund their defense.
I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name. That case is still being appealed but a new case may well answer some of the question raised in the prior column. An Asian American rock band called “the Slants” has appealed a decision to deny it trademark protection — allowing the question to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A panel previously upheld the denial in In re Simon Shiao Tam, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6430.
A Russian court has sentencing two women and a teenager to 15 days jail time for twerking. That’s right, twerking. The women filmed a dance video with twerking in front of a World War II memorial. The timing could not be worse — or better — depending on your perspective. The Putin regime is using the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory to rally citizens. The court ruled that the twerking constituted “hooliganism.” You will recall that this is the same undefined crime used to jail two members of punk band Pussy Riot to prison for two years for an impromptu protest at Moscow’s main cathedral in 2012.
Russia Today is showing a less than positive image of the United States as a video shows its reporter trying to report on the protests in Baltimore last week only to be mugged on camera. Fortunately, police were in the area and apprehended the suspect. In the meantime, another disturbing video shows City Paper Photo Editor J.M. Giordano was tackled and beaten by Baltimore City police outside of Western District headquarters last night while covering the protests. The attack on a journalist by police was accompanied by the arrest and charging of another reporter for disorderly conduct.