In a unanimous decision [PDF], the Supreme Court has ruled on United States v. Jones and found that placement of a GPS tracker on a car by police is a violation of the fourth amendment—but is the ruling as clear-cut as it seems? [more inside]
David Grann of the New Yorker writes about the power of the Aryan Brotherhood inside America's federal prisons.
All this brings me to an Indian I want you to know better than his jury did—Douglas Ray Stankewitz, the longest tenured inmate on California’s death row. Like most Indians who find themselves in a group of non-Indians, he is currently known as Chief, but unlike many Indians, he is proud of the nickname. The government wants to kill Chief because Theresa Greybeal was shot dead in the course of a robbery by a group of people high on heroin, and there is no question that Chief was one of them. There is a serious question about who pulled the trigger, and juries are reluctant to kill individuals who did not pull the trigger. But as far as his jury knew, Douglas Stankewitz pulled the trigger. And he might have, but we will never know, based on his trial.
What's one thing the major GOP candidates can all agree on? Why, the need to be hard on porn, of course. Morality in Media (MIM, previously) recently revealed that presidential hopefuls Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich had all affirmed the group's drive for "enforcement of obscenity laws". And the multi-billion-dollar per year industry? Adult Video News responds to the campaign (nsfw ads).
The Obama White House formally speaks out against SOPA, PIPA. The Obama White House has come out against the Stop Online Piracy Act. The move has -- unsurprisingly -- drawn responses from the MPAA, RIAA, and other interested parties.
Two months after being kicked out by the NYPD in an early morning raid, the Occupy Wall Street protestors have returned to Zucotti/Liberty Plaza to meet new regulations that make protesting all but impossible. Meanwhile, OWS is looking for an accountant and NYC councilman Ydanis Rodriguez wants to donate his 5k stipend to the protestors. Yasha Levine of The Exiled writes about his arrangement hearing after being arrested during the Occupy LA raid and Political Cartoonist and Essayist Tim Kreider releases four essays he wrote during the first occupation of Zucotti/Liberty Plaza, "What OWS Wants" "Capitalism, A Bummer" "An Open Letter To The Tea Party." and "OWS: The Morning After." [more inside]
My Guantánamo Nightmare. Lakhdar Boumediene was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for seven years without explanation or charge until his case made it to the Supreme Court, leading to a decision which bears his name and his release ordered by a federal judge. The NYTimes has his and another account from another former detainee: Notes From a Guantánamo Survivor. [Via]
England's Obscenity Trial of the Decade is over, with unanimous Not Guilty verdicts being returned for all 6 charges. R v Peacock was a rare outing for the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and its out-lawing of media which depraves and corrupts, and despite being shown DVDs of explicit homosexual acts, fisting, testicular torture, rape scenes, prolaspses and other acts the prosecution described as extreme the jury decided the material didn't breech the law. Alex d. live tweeted the proceeding and Peacock's supprters are celebratory. The question now is what is obscene in today's society, and is the act still relevant. [more inside]
Bugs and Beasts Before the Law - "Murderous pigs sent to the gallows, sparrows prosecuted for chattering in Church, a gang of thieving rats let off on a wholly technical acquittal – theoretical psychologist and author Nicholas Humphrey explores the strange world of medieval animal trials." More on the theme of barnyard scapegoats from the BBC podcast documentary: Animals on Trial.
Two days ago, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), "with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge". [more inside]
On October 22, 2011 I was arrested by the DEA for cultivation and distribution of psilocybin mushrooms.
There has been an increasing outcry over the bleak job prospects facing law school graduates. Paul Campos, author of the "Inside The Law School Scam" blog, argues that continued high enrollment at law schools may be due to "lemming psychology".
"For the show’s editor, the genre is a new Russian art form, celebrating real-life proletarian characters."
Mother of all TV shows: [Financial Times] Russia’s latest hit, ‘Mother in Law’, makes ‘Big Brother’ look like ‘Sesame Street’.
Being gay was considered a mental disorder by psychiatry - until 1973 - when the battle lines were drawn. Reporter Alix Spiegel continues the gripping story that spurred a radical rethink. It's the story of a closeted cartel of powerful, gay psychiatrists; of confrontations with angry activists; a shrink dressed in a Nixon mask, and a pivotal encounter in a Hawaiian bar. [more inside]
Want your new law school to get accredited by the American Bar Association? Be prepared to jump through some hoops.
The crime against women that no one understands "They would be 10 educated, professional women versus a demonstrated liar—a man who had pretended to be a doctor, a CIA employee, even an astronaut—whom a court-appointed psychologist would decide met the legal definition of a "sexually violent predator." And yet the most remarkable thing about both trials wasn't the way they exposed the alleged tactics of a serial date rapist. It was that despite the outrageousness of the accusations against Marsalis, the testimony of 10 women wasn't enough to get a single rape conviction against him. The verdicts in these cases would be far lighter than his accusers sought—and victims' advocates say the outcome reveals a disturbing truth about the justice system. Nationwide, despite all the legal advances of the past three decades, little has changed for women who report a date rape. Because in far too many instances, juries don't believe date rape exists."
Samir Zia Chowhan, sensing a prime opportunity in this down economy, set out to hire a secretary who could not only do the typing and filing, but could also engage in group sex with Chowhan and his law partner. The Illinois Supreme Court found that this is conduct unbecoming of an attorney and suspended Chowhan's law license.
Even the most seemingly entrenched powers can be undermined and weakened and replaced by other human beings. And if it's not happening, it's not because it's impossible, it's because we just haven't figured out the right way to do it. And so the challenge of figuring out the right way to do that, and the role that I can play in it, and the way in which I can use my skills and my knowledge and my experience in order to contribute to it, is a really important and invigorating challenge for me. It becomes a work of passion, a sort of labor of love.As part of its "Conversations with History" series, UC Berkeley recently interviewed Glenn Greenwald, who discusses not only law and other issues, but his history and personal motivations for blogging. (1-hour SLYT) [more inside]
An Oregon judge has ruled that a Montana blogger is not eligible for the legal protections afforded to journalists, letting stand a $2.5 million defamation verdict. At the end of the Ars Technica article there's a link to a Forbes article that contains some more details and the text of an email that didn't help the blogger's case.
Malaysia is proposing a Computing Professionals Bill, based on the Registration of Engineers Act [.PDF] which makes it mandatory for all practicing "computing professionals" to be registered with a government body. Dealing in the IT industry, including sending “proposals, plans, designs, drawings, schemes, reports, studies or others to be determined by the Board to any person or authority in Malaysia” without being registered will incur a fine not exceeding RM20,000 (~US$6380) or 6 months in jail. Malaysian IT professionals and geeks are up in arms, and similarities have been drawn to Nigeria's law on computing professionals.
After almost 30 years of appeals and legal maneuvering, Philadelphia prosecutors have abandoned attempts to impose the death penalty on Mumia Abu-Jamal for killing police office Daniel Faulkner in December 1981. Background, previously.
High school student Emma Sullivan posted a tweet disparaging Kansas Governor Sam Brownback while on a field trip to the State Capitol. Brownback's staff called Sullivan's principal and complained. This has not resulted in postive PR for Brownback.
Professor Herwig Schlunk of Vanderbilt University explores whether a law degree is a good investment today. (SSRN link) [more inside]
Sociologist Lauren Rivera of Northwestern spent two years researching the way elite financial and law firms really select their new hires. The original paper is behind a sciencedirect paywall, but Bryan Caplan has a nice write-up about the results. You're much better off with a degree from a tippy-top school than just any Ivy -- but they don't actually care about what you learned there. Your grades don't matter that much as long as they're not bad. Climbing a famous mountain or making a varsity team, especially if you're nationally competitive, would be wise. And oh yeah -- they do care what you got on your SATs. More reax from the Chronicle of Higher Ed and physicist Steve Hsu.
Tomato: fruit or vegetable? In 1893, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Nix v. Hedden that the tomato is legally a vegetable and not a fruit, botanical definitions be damned. In 2001, the European Union disagreed, saying that "tomatoes, the edible parts of rhubarb stalks, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and water-melons are considered to be fruit". [more inside]
Roger Guimera Manrique and Marta Sales-Pardo have shown that "U.S. Supreme Court justice votes are more predictable than one would expect from an ideal court composed of perfectly independent justices." [more inside]
"In almost all cases it is not possible to bring a civil action against" a website that hosts your nude images posted without your consent.
This past July, Forbes blogger Kashmir Hill posted a three-part series about "online defamation and involuntary nudity." The first entry focused on an offender: Hunter Moore, owner of IsAnyoneUp.com (Link is NSFW.) The second entry focused on a victim: Paul Syiek, whose company was defamed by a disgruntled ex-employee on the consumer website Rip-off Report. The third profiled a Senior Copyright attorney at Microsoft, Colette Vogele, who co-founded a side project this year to help victims: WithoutMyConsent.org. [more inside]
Testing by Food Safety News has shown that more than 75% of the honey being sold in the United States does not qualify to be labeled for sale as "honey". [more inside]
Mr. Remis’s wedding took place in 2003 and he waited six years to sue. And not only has he demanded to be repaid the $4,100 cost of the photography, he also wants $48,000 to recreate the entire wedding and fly the principals to New York so the celebration can be re-shot by another photographer. Among the many hurdles: He no longer knows where his now-ex-wife lives.
The White House recently opened a website entitled We the People: Your Voice in Our Government, "[a tool which] provides you with a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country." They have issued a response to a petition to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.
Since 1988, the Center for Reproductive Rights has compiled a visual map of the laws regulating abortion throughout the world. Earlier this month, they released their 2011 Map in pdf and updated their online World Abortion Laws Map in a new interactive format which allows country comparisons and provides text of abortion laws for certain countries. (Via Good: Can I get an Abortion Here? The Abortion Rights Map of the World)
There are an increasing number of homeless military vets living in Los Angeles. The VA in Los Angeles has a 400 acre parcel of land meant to house vets. Slight problem: the VA has decided to lease the property to various area businesses instead of using the land for its intended purpose.
F*ck You! Pay Me! Customers not wanting to pay for work done (or pay less than what was originally agreed to) is a common problem that many business owners run into. In this 40 minute video, Mike Monteiro, a web designer, and his lawyer offer advice on how to get clients to pay up. The talk is aimed at freelancers and small firms that provide creative services. Note: There is some swearing in this video. [via Ask Mefi]
Over the objections of federal prosecutors and Ronald Reagan's family, John Hinckley, Jr. is on the verge of freedom. "Which should prevail—the belief that anyone who tries to kill a President should never be free? Or a judicial system that rests on laws that spell out pathways to wellness and freedom for people deemed mentally ill when they commit violent acts?"
Internet Sweepstakes Cafes have opened in strip malls and retail areas throughout United States of America in the 2000s to become a $10 to $15 billion industry. [more inside]
Over the past couple of months, there have been a series of scandals that have rocked the legal education community. First, there were tandem lawsuits against Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and New York Law School for misrepresenting jobs data. Then, Villanova University and the University of Illinois were found to be fudging their employment numbers. A legal team is now preparing to sue 15 different law schools because of misrepresentations made to students regarding job and salary data.
Derrick Bell, Law Professor and Civil Rights Advocate, dies at 80. Bell was a pioneer of critical race theory and the first tenured black professor at Harvard Law School. Bell was also a lover of gospel music, and hosted an annual gospel choir concert.
Temporary marriage: the next big thing? The divorce rate in Mexico City is huge, with half of marriages ending within two years. Some lawmakers there are introducing a reform to the civil code that would make marriage contracts renewable, with a minimum of two years. [more inside]
SCC approves safe injection sites. The Supreme Court of Canada today ordered the federal government to stop its efforts to shut down a safe injection clinic in Vancouver, opening the door to more clinics opening across the country. [more inside]
In 1991, Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of policeman Mark MacPhail in a Savannah, Georgia parking lot. Since then, seven of the nine prosecution eyewitnesses have recanted all or part of their testimony, with some citing pressure from the police to make false statements. An exception is Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who made the initial report of Davis’s guilt, and is regarded by the defense as the chief suspect. New witnesses have sworn affidavits that Coles confessed the crime to them. An array of figures have called for a stay of execution, including death-penalty supporters Senator Bob Barr and former FBI director William S. Sessions. Today, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency; barring action from the District Attorney, Davis is set to be executed by lethal injection tomorrow at 7pm. [Previously]
An experiment done in the 1990s exposed children to various levels of lead. The lawsuit filed in 2001 by the parents of over 100 participants accuses the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the scientists knowingly used the kids as test subjects in toxic dust control study. [more inside]
Why A Heterosexual, Married, North Carolinian Father Of Three Cares About LGBT Equality. Married father of three boys writes eloquently about the reasons why he opposes the proposed constitutional amendment banning any legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples. The amendment goes before voters in May primary election, when heavy Republican turnout is expected. Meanwhile Senator Goolsby says that it is all about "empowering voters" "so no activist judge is able to decide on his or her own what marriage is." [original]
Hartwick College, a small school in New York's Catskills, is the beneficiary of a trust that “could ultimately shatter the nation’s financial structure.”
The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that recording police officers performing their duties in public is a "clearly established first amendment right". [more inside]