"Imagine a medical student who is training to be a surgeon but who fears that he’ll become distressed if he sees or handles blood. What should his instructors do?" -"Criminal-law teachers face a similar question with law students who are afraid to study rape law." The author worries about "a growing rape exceptionalism, which allows fears of inflicting or re-inflicting trauma to justify foregoing usual procedures and practices of truth-seeking."
Congress quietly ends federal government's ban on medical marijuana Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy. Under the provision, states where medical pot is legal would no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations. Agents would be prohibited from doing so.
9th Circuit upholds Los Angeles County law mandating the use of condoms in porn shoots. Decision here. Will this force the porn industry out of Los Angeles? [more inside]
This morning, the Supreme Court released an opinion (pdf) in Heien vs. North Carolina, finding that because the Fourth Amendment requires government officials to act reasonably, not perfectly, and gives those officials “fair leeway for enforcing the law,” an officer in North Carolina did not act unconstitutionally when they stopped and searched a car driving with a broken brake light, even though North Carolina law requires only one vehicle brake light to be working. [more inside]
"Defensive patent aggregator" RPX have a new line of business: selling patent troll insurance to startups.
The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in King v. Burwell, invalidating subsidies through the federal healthcare exchanges, despite the lack of a Circuit split.
The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare. "Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking." [more inside]
Missouri state court judge Rex M. Burlison has ruled that Missouri cannot keep St. Louis officials from marrying same sex couples. [more inside]
‘You do not need to deliver the fatal blow or even be at the actual scene of the killing to be found guilty and sent to jail,’ Detective Inspector John McFarlane said after the conviction of 17 of the 20 young people jointly charged with the murder of 15-year-old Sofyen Belamouadden at Victoria Station in March 2010: ‘the law on joint enterprise is clear and unforgiving.’ [more inside]
After seven years of litigation, the New York Civil Liberties Union has announced a settlement in Hurrell-Harring v. New York, which will reform the way in which low income criminal defendants are represented in court. [more inside]
Bias in the Box. "This is where Bryan Stevenson’s 'undeveloped understanding' comes into focus. A prosecutor may say with the utmost sincerity that he doesn’t exclude blacks [from a jury] because of their race, but because they or someone in their family has been a victim of discrimination, which leads them to distrust the system. Because of their experiences, they are believed to be less motivated to sentence someone to die and are therefore less desirable on a jury." (slVQR) [more inside]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver takes on the issue of civil asset forfeiture, including "Law & Order: Civil Asset Forfeiture Unit", a preview of how police procedurals could handle the topic. [more inside]
For five years, Kenneth Creighton was held in jail, suspected of involvement in the killing of a bystander outside a bodega in the Bronx. In 2012, the charges were dropped. Mr. Creighton was released from Rikers Island. He has since filed a lawsuit against New York City for false arrest and malicious prosecution, and has sought the name of his accuser — a man who told the police that he had seen Mr. Creighton hand a gun to his brother, Dior, who was charged in the shooting.
The Solace of Oblivion by Jeffrey Toobin [The New Yorker] "In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet."
“True, the Nazis were trying to find the Ark of the Covenant so they could destroy the world,” Canuto says. “But methodologically and legally they were in the right.” Why archeologists hate Indiana Jones. Also, why doctors don't like medical dramas; what is inaccurate about TV portrayals of lawyers and the legal process (PDF); and, finally, the terrific analysis of the portrayal of academics in children's books. When your profession is portrayed on TV, what do they get wrong?
Ian McEwan: the law versus religious belief. [The Guardian]
The conjoined twins who would die without medical intervention, a boy who refused blood transfusions on religious grounds…Ian McEwan on the stories from the family courts that inspired his latest novel.[more inside]
Stop and Seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes. A multimedia investigation by the Washington Post.
NPR interviews Omri Ben Shahar, teacher of contract law at the University of Chicago and co-author of the book, "More Than You Wanted To Know: The Failure Of Mandated Disclosure." His advice: "You shouldn't bother reading those terms and conditions. Don't even try. You don't have enough time in the year. Don't feel guilty about it. What you should do is follow some of these watchdog and watch groups that circulate information about particularly annoying new practices."
Why are lawyers so unhappy? One attorney by way of explanation demonstrates exactly what his days are like in an answer pulled out and published from a larger Quora thread.
The power of math: 17 Equations That Changed the World - a one table summary of the book by Ian Stewart FRS. Business Insider gives its interpretation of the importance of each equation. Brain pickings (2012) on this book and equations, and another extract from the book. [more inside]
NSA Tried To Delete Court Transcript In Lawsuit Over Deleting Evidence On three separate occasions in the Jewel V. NSA case, the NSA sought to delete evidence. Then it sought to redact the transcript.
In an unprecedented move, former United States press secretary James Brady's death has been ruled a homicide, 33 years after he was shot by John Hinckley Jr. Some history of the incident at the Washington Hilton and a sweet rememberance of "Bear".
DA Hamilton Burger may be the best-known loser of early TV, but his portrayer William Talman's life (content excerpted from the Perry Mason TV show book) was far more interesting. At the height of his fame in 1960, Talman arrested at a nude pot party, and was fired and blacklisted as a result. It took Raymond Burr, the cast, and the fans to eventually get him his job back. At the end of his life, on the verge of dying, he made a powerful anti-smoking PSA (the PSA itself)
"'Attorneys trained in this way will be able to be average people,' Ms. Orsi said, 'not just because they don’t have debt, but because law school tells us that we’re really special.'” [NYT][more inside]
A Republican panel of the D.C. Circuit has ruled [.pdf opinion] in the case of Halbig v. Burwell that a drafting error in the Affordable Care Act provides subsidies exclusively to state-based exchanges and not to federally-facilitated ones, even while subjectively intending to provide subsidies in both cases. The ruling threatens to take away federal subsidies for insurance sold on Obamacare exchanges in 36 states.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is expected to sign Chloe's Law. Chloe's Law, or the Down Syndrome Prenatal Education Act, requires medical practitioners to provide up-to-date and accurate information about Down syndrome with the accompanying diagnosis. Similar laws were passed in Massachusetts and Kentucky. Why is this necessary? Ask a parent or two and you find out how most doctors aren't up to the task. Fortunately, there are parents who will help them out (if they would listen).
The New York Times examines the case of a student raped by football players at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The colleges are under investigation by the Department of Education [Not Alone, previously] [more inside]
Margaret Perry's review of Women in Pants provides an interesting overview of those women (in the Western world) who chose to wore pants in the 19th and early 20th centuries when the standard gender norm dictated dresses for girls and women. R.S. Fleming has a great collection of Victorian women-in-pants images, particularly in non-American military garb. See also: Welsh pit miners, women fighting in the US Civil War (and support-staff), this cattle thief/gunfighter, some cowgirls, and Dr. Mary Walker - here she is in more traditionally masculine dress (second picture). In France, the artist Rosa Bonheur had to get permission from the police to wear pants (picture) while sketching in public (her license), while adventurer/archaeologist Jane Dieulafoy got a lifetime exemption to wear pants from France. [more inside]
A 17 year-old Virginia teenager who is under investigation for sending a consensual sext to his 15-year-old girlfriend may be forced to have an erection in front of police as evidence in the case. [more inside]
On June 26, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the Tsilhquot’in people in their title claim to more than 1700 square km of land in British Columbia. The case is a landmark, and was a unanimous decision, supported 8-0 by the justices. The decision, is the first time the Canadian courts have recognized full aboriginal title to a specific tract of land by, and experts in the field expect the ruling to have an impact on future title questions worldwide (from Vancouver Island to New Zealand, or, one might say, from PKOLS to Aotearoa) [more inside]
Ted Kaczynski. Jared Lee Loughner. Eric Rudolph. Susan Smith. And now, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They all stood (or stand) accused of committing heinous crimes. They all faced (or face) the death penalty. And they all have something- or rather, someone- else in common. [more inside]
The Supreme Court has unanimously reversed (large PDF) the California Court of Appeals in Riley v. California, deciding that police cannot search the contents of a phone without a warrant during an arrest, and that "the fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought." [more inside]
A federal judge in New York has ruled against a group of parents who had filed a lawsuit, asserting that the New York City policy that allows schools to ban unvaccinated kids from attending classes when another child has come down with a vaccine preventable illness infringed on their practice of religion. The decision cites Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), where the SCOTUS upheld Cambridge, Mass, Board of Health’s authority to require vaccination against smallpox during a smallpox epidemic.
Scott Aaronson on building a 'PageRank' for (eigen)morality and (eigen)trust - "Now, would those with axes to grind try to subvert such a system the instant it went online? Certainly. For example, I assume that millions of people would rate Conservapedia as a more trustworthy source than Wikipedia—and would rate other people who had done so as, themselves, trustworthy sources, while rating as untrustworthy anyone who called Conservapedia untrustworthy. So there would arise a parallel world of trust and consensus and 'expertise', mutually-reinforcing yet nearly disjoint from the world of the real. But here's the thing: anyone would be able to see, with the click of a mouse, the extent to which this parallel world had diverged from the real one." [more inside]
Bloodletters and Bad Actors Mefi's Own Max Sparber looks at the early days of Omaha theater, back when it was a frontier town, its amusements were questionable, and vice was rampant, with occasional forays into more recent performing arts misbehavior. [via mefi projects]
After the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canadian prostitution laws (previously), the Conservative Party has introduced new measures that would legalize the sale of sex, but that also criminalize the purchase of sex or soliciting in public, print or online. [more inside]
Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating: Since January 29 of this year, Sri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious sect, has been residing in a freezer in his ashram in Punjab. His followers claim he is in a "deep meditative state (samadhi)." Doctors, however, have declared Maharaj clinically dead and his family have sued to have his death be investigated and to have his body released for cremation. The guru's son also alleges that Maharaj was murdered and that his followers are trying to gain control of his estate, said to be worth $170 million. While traditional yogis have claimed extraordinary powers, including the power to stop one's heart, the evidence for these claims has been lacking.
Equaldex: the collaborative LGBT knowledgebase! A crowd-sourced, verified, beautifully presented representation of equal rights (and how they are specifically denied) for LGBT folks. [via reddit]
The Department of Immigration and Border Patrol of Australia's secret blacklist of immigration lawyers and agents has been discovered. DIBP claims that the list is used for "risk assessment" for partner visas and has "no impact" on assessing cases. The Migration Alliance, the lobby group of Australian migration agents that broke the news of the list, is not convinced.
In England coats of arms and other issues of heraldry are registered and administered by the College of Arms. But what if some base scoundrel displays your family's ancient and noble coat of arms without the right to do so? You sue them in the Court of Chivalry. [more inside]
The most recent story in ProPublica's Living Apart: Examining America's Racial Divide series is "Segregation Now," which focuses on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, city school district "and its fleeting experience with the challenges and virtues of integration." But beyond Tuscaloosa, "almost everywhere in the United States, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South – once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law." [more inside]
A couple's final journey. "Chris MacLellan and Bernard Richard Schiffer never exchanged “for better or for worse” vows. As a gay couple, marriage wasn’t an option in Florida. Instead, they lived together and loved each other for 11 years."
The inside story of MIT and Aaron Swartz. The Boston Globe reviews over 7,000 pages of discovery documents in the Aaron Swartz case (previously): Most vividly, the e-mails underscore the dissonant instincts the university grappled with. There was the eagerness of some MIT employees to help investigators and prosecutors with the case, and then there was, by contrast, the glacial pace of the institution’s early reaction to the intruder’s provocation.... MIT never encouraged Swartz’s prosecution, and once told his prosecutor they had no interest in jail time. However, e-mails illustrate how MIT energetically assisted authorities in capturing him and gathering evidence — even prodding JSTOR to get answers for prosecutors more quickly — before a subpoena had been issued.... Yet if MIT eventually adopted a relatively hard line on Swartz, the university had also helped to make his misdeeds possible, the Globe review found. Numerous e-mails make it clear that the unusually easy access to the campus computer network, which Swartz took advantage of, had long been a concern to some of the university’s information technology staff.
The Interpreters We Left Behind. "As our troops pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we're abandoning fixers and translators to the dangerous countrymen who view them as traitors. Asylum in the U.S. could be their last hope. If only we'd let them in."
The Murders at The Lake. "In the summer of 1982 the city of Waco was confronted with the most vicious crime it had ever seen: three teenagers were savagely stabbed to death, for no apparent reason, at a park by a lake on the edge of town. Justice was eventually served when four men were found guilty of the crime, and two were sent to death row. In 1991, though, when one of the convicts got a new trial and was then found not guilty, some people wondered, Were these four actually the killers? Several years after that, one of the men was put to death, and the stakes were raised: Had Texas executed an innocent man?" [more inside]
Debo Adegbile was selected by President Obama to be assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Senate, aided and abetted by seven Democratic senators, killed his nomination. Why? Because he’s fought for civil rights.
Twilight in the Box. "The suicide statistics, the squalor and the recidivism haven’t ended solitary confinement. Maybe the brain studies will." [Via]