Cruel and Unusual - The End Of The Eighth AmendmentIt might seem at first that the rules for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners were founded on standards of political legitimacy suited to war or emergencies; based on what Carl Schmitt called the urgency of the ''exception,'' they were meant to remain secret as necessary ''war measures'' and to be exempt from traditional legal ideals and the courts associated with them. But the ominous discretionary powers used to justify this conduct are entirely familiar to those who follow the everyday treatment of prisoners in the United States—not only their treatment by prison guards but their treatment by the courts in sentencing, corrections, and prisoners' rights. The torture memoranda, as unprecedented as they appear in presenting ''legal doctrines . . . that could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful,'' refer to U.S. prison cases in the last 30 years that have turned on the legal meaning of the Eighth Amendment’s language prohibiting ''cruel and unusual punishment.'' What is the history of this phrase? How has it been interpreted? And how has its content been so eviscerated?
posted by y2karl
on Nov 8, 2004 -
this mefi story here
where a set of extremely abusive parents who abused their children into their teens were sentenced to only 9 months prison. A judge now deems that sentence "demonstrably unfit" and resentences the mother and father to 5 and 4 years in jail, respectively. Thanks to t r a c y for the update.
posted by shepd
on Nov 5, 2004 -
Only in 1967 did Loving v. Virginia
overturn vigorously-enforced laws against interracial marriage in these 15 states--Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Only in 1964 did the Civil Rights Act
overturn laws against equal access to voting, public accommodation, and public education. Only in 1963 did the Equal Pay Act
mandate that men and women be paid the same wage for the same work at the same job.
isn't a superhighway, leading us in straight lines toward utopia. We fall back
and we move forward
, but over the past fifty years, the United States has become considerably more inclusive and equality of access to opportunity has widened. Take a look at this article
from the Atlantic Monthly
in 1956--1956!--if you don't believe me.
posted by Sidhedevil
on Nov 4, 2004 -
World Legal Information Institute
WorldLII has over 270 free databases
covering multiple countries and international law. The LIIs were created under a declaration that: (1) Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity. Maximising access to this information promotes justice and the rule of law; (2) Public legal information is digital common property and should be accessible to all on a non-profit basis and free of charge; and (3) Independent non-profit organisations have the right to publish public legal information and the government bodies that create or control that information should provide access to it so that it can be published.
For comprehensive French databases, try Droit Francophonie
posted by livii
on Oct 14, 2004 -
U.S.Businesses File Four Times More Lawsuits Than Private Citizens
[...]The report also found that businesses and their attorneys were 69 percent more likely than individual tort plaintiffs and their attorneys to be sanctioned by federal judges for filing frivolous claims or defenses. The report, Frequent Filers: Corporate Hypocrisy in Accessing the Courts, is available by clicking here.
“Corporations think America is too litigious only when they are on the receiving end of a lawsuit,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “But when they feel aggrieved, businesses are far more likely to take their beef to court than are consumers.”[...] more
posted by Postroad
on Oct 10, 2004 -
Being threatened with litigation by the RIAA? There's always this
posted by anathema
on Sep 27, 2004 -
Conscience Clauses and Health Care
--"Yes, we need to respect individual freedom of religion. But at what point does it cross the line of not providing essential medical care? At what point is it malpractice?" she asked. "If someone's beliefs interfere with practicing their profession, perhaps they should do something else." The Protection of Conscience Project
feels differently: Protection of Conscience Laws are needed because powerful interests are inclined to force health care workers and others to participate, directly or indirectly, in morally controversial procedures
, while NARAL says: ... Many of these clauses go far beyond respecting individuals' beliefs to the point of harming women by not providing them with full information or access to medical treatment. Medicine, not ideology, should determine medical decisions.
posted by amberglow
on Sep 17, 2004 -
US Ban on Assault Weapons Expires
Without much fanfare the ten year old ban on assault weapons has expired. How does this affect our relative level of safety now that we can all own high powered, high capacity weapons again?
posted by fenriq
on Sep 13, 2004 -
My cattle grazing grounds are not my idea and vice versa.
But thanks to laws I can "own" the idea as if the idea was a cow ; link goes to a interesting university-level paper [PDF].
The author makes some interesting analysis and points attention to the fact that current intellectual property laws can go against well established economic theories at the expense of free market competition theory, technical innovations and society-as-a-whole best interest.
Recommended to people with economic theory experience , but also to everyday public-goods-privatization opposers as the paper isn't (intentionally) way too technical.
posted by elpapacito
on Sep 10, 2004 -
The Just Cause Law Collective
is an excellent resource for outlining what your rights as citizens or non-citizens are within the U.S. in text and illustrations that are understandable by the layperson. It also includes advice on how to survive police encounters and a special section for activists.
posted by substrate
on Aug 23, 2004 -
Artist vs. Porn Star -- Law firm wins!
Jeff Koons is liable for $4 million in attorneys fees to his NY divorce lawyers, even though he ultimately lost custody of his son to his porn-star-turned-politician wife. Court says hey, that's fair, because he's not even complaining that the firm "charged an unreasonable hourly fee to have associates, for instance, watch pornographic videos, a necessary part of preparing to litigate the underlying custody dispute."
posted by onlyconnect
on Aug 20, 2004 -
California bill to ease "move aways" by custodial parents pulled.
Until a recent CA Supreme Court decision, it was easy for custodial parents to move themselves and their children far from their ex-spouse. The Court reversed the old rule and held that the move could be blocked if the non-custodial parent could show that it would interfere with his/her relationship with the kids. Legislation to reimpose the old permissive standard passed through the State Senate, but has now been pulled off the legislative calendar after an outcry by father's rights groups.
posted by MattD
on Aug 18, 2004 -
The Freeloader Registry.
When an employer pays low wages and doesn't provide health care benefits, its employees often end up getting free care through state and federal programs. How much does this cost you, and which companies benefit from the practice? A new Massachusetts state law will provide detailed information about top corporate welchers. (This follows recent discussion of the topic in the context of Wal-Mart
Via Good Jobs First
posted by alms
on Aug 6, 2004 -
I Think (Therefore) I'm Guilty?
A convicted sex offender is barred from public parks and the zoo in Lafayette, Indiana after he revealed to his psychologist that he entertained thoughts of sexual contact with children, while visiting a park. Here's John Doe's history
of arrests and charges for alleged sexual offences.
posted by Gyan
on Aug 2, 2004 -
You stink, therefore I am.
Philosophers and psychologists have been studying
, and its proper place in the law. Leon Kass, the chairman of the president's council on bioethics
, cites "the wisdom of repugnance"
in arguing against cloning. More recently, Martha Nussbaum
has written a new book, "Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law,"
which rejects disgust as a moral guide. She has also written on the role of disgust in the mutilations of women in Gujarat
posted by homunculus
on Jul 17, 2004 -
Homicide in Chicago: 1870-1930 July 25, 1899
Murphy, James, 28 years old, shot dead, saloon 1210 Wabash Av., by Lorezo Sodini, proprietor. Murphy refused to pay for drinks and ran out of saloon and threw stone through window. Sodini ran out and fired at him, killing him instantly. Harrison St. Station. Held by Coroner's Jury, July 29. Acquitted Dec. 9, 1899, by jury in Judge Baker's court.
Case number: 1498
posted by tcp
on Jul 2, 2004 -
Consider Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift,
military defense attorney, now representing Salim Ahmed Salim Hamdan
, a Yemeni who admits he was a driver for Osama bin Laden, a prisoner at Guantanamo since 2002. He was transferred to solitary confinement in December in preparation for trial, but no trial date has been set.
He has been told the trial will be fair but that evidence may be withheld from him, and his lawyer must ask the government's permission before revealing any facts of the case. He can seek redress only up the chain of command--in other words, to the people who decided he should be charged in the first place. Swift has filed lawsuit in Federal District Court in Seattle against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush, arguing not only that Hamdan is an innocent civilian, but that the military tribunal President Bush's administration created to try him is unconstitutional. Also, he says, the tribunal rules violate military law and the Geneva Conventions. If the government is right and Hamdan cannot use this legal avenue, "the logical result" is that Hamdan "could serve a potential life sentence without ever being charged with a crime and without being afforded a chance to prove his innocence," legal filings state. (More Within)
posted by y2karl
on Jun 16, 2004 -
The Supreme Court ruled today
that Michael Newdow did not have standing to sue on behalf of his daughter in challenging the recitation of the pledge in a public school classroom in California.
posted by monju_bosatsu
on Jun 14, 2004 -
Ling Chan gave up everything to come to America.
"Chan arrived in the United States with no knowledge of English, no support network, and a dependent child...she was happy to land a janitorial job with AXT Inc., a Fremont, California semiconductor manufacturing firm...on a four-person cleaning crew, scrubbing the boxes used to ship semiconductor wafers around the factory...after a few weeks, her colleagues -- mostly Chinese immigrants, like herself -- whispered that this was no ordinary dust: It could give you cancer." [via Fark, of all places]
posted by mr_crash_davis
on May 8, 2004 -
A huge number of internships are illegal.
So claims a labor lawyer in this USA Today
story. Are unpaid internships a form of white collar exploitation we should crack down on? Just how much of the workforce is unpaid, or working on tiny stipends? And is it like this in other Western countries?
posted by inksyndicate
on Apr 21, 2004 -
IM logging as illegal wiretap
: We need to get beyond the technology itself and ask whether there are legitimate expectations of privacy that we seek to protect by either permitting or refusing to permit the creation of a permanent record of communications
posted by anathema
on Apr 13, 2004 -
In response to Justice Konrad von Finckenstein ruling that file sharing was legal in Canada
(previously discussed here
), Federal Heritage Minister Helene Scherrer has stated that "As minister of Canadian Heritage, I will, as quickly as possible, make changes to our copyright law".
The problem is that Canadian copyright law has been going through a slow and thoughtful reformation process. Since the unveiling of A Framework for Copyright Reform
in 2001, a lot of progress has been made in updating the laws to reflect the needs and concerns of content producers, and the public domain.
Now, however, it seems that all of this work may be bulldozed by Helene Scherrer, who declared her intentions
at the Juno Awards last night.
posted by Jairus
on Apr 3, 2004 -
So, when did Canada
become the globe's official Progressive Society Laboratory? They've got the health care, they've got the gay marriage, and now, they've got 100% legal file-sharing
-- a judge has ruled that not only is downloading copyrighted material legal, but sharing it is as well. Um, whoa? How long can this stand on appeal? Is anyone here a Canadian legal expert who can tell us about how Canadian copyright law differs from our own? (Tall order, I know...)
posted by logovisual
on Mar 31, 2004 -