"Why are white men poised to get rich doing the same thing African-Americans have been going to prison for?" An essay by Shawn Carter, AKA Jay Z, on racism and the War on Drugs. Illustrated by Molly Crabapple. [more inside]
How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
For 20 years Roger Ailes ruled the $1 billion a year Fox News empire, expecting a culture of fear to stop widespread sexual harassment from being exposed. Then, beginning with the Gretchen Carlson lawsuit against him, it was all exposed. How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media.
New York's highest court has redefined parenthood in a same-sex parenting case. (SLNYT) The Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in In the Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A. C.C. and Matter of Estrellita A. v. Jennifer D., that the non-married, ex-partner of a biological parent may seek custody or visitation rights of children they once agreed to conceive and raise as co-partners with their exes. The Court, in a 6-0 vote, said that given the legalization of same-sex marriages and other societal changes that have upset the notion of "parents" as being a married man and woman, it was time for it to abandon the precedent of its 1991 ruling in Matter of Alison D. v. Virginia M. [more inside]
In 1996, Jeffrey Wood was sitting in a getaway car, when, inside a convenience store, his friend Daniel Reneau shot and killed a clerk during a botched robbery. Wood was sentenced to death in Kerr County in March 1998, and will be executed next week in Texas. He was sentenced to death under Texas’ felony murder statute, commonly known as the law of parties, which holds that anyone involved in a crime resulting in death is equally responsible, even if they weren't directly involved in the actual killing. Under the law, prosecutors are not required to prove that a defendant had any part in committing a crime, or even intended to commit it. [more inside]
As authorized by law, the director of the Missouri State Public Defender office just used his authority to appoint the state's governor, Jay Nixon, as public defender counsel to an indigent. The director is authorized to appoint *any* member of the state bar to represent indigent defendants as a public defender; Jay Nixon is a member of the Missouri bar. This move is the latest in a battle over the governor's big cuts to the public defender department: $3.5 million cut from a $4.5 million budget, leaving the public defender system unable to provide anything other than brief, cursory counsel, which may not meet the requirements of the law.
A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice. (Platform, Downloads/Briefing)
"What do you say to a police officer who tells you to stop when you are legally and not obstructively filming their interactions?" [more inside]
As the rich get richer, trouble continues to brew for law schools in the United States. [more inside]
On Wednesday, The New York City Parks Department decided to continue allowing women-only swimming hours at a public indoor pool in Williamsburg, a heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn. An anonymous complaint had previously led the city’s Commission on Human Rights to notify the parks department that the policy violated the law, but supporters of the women's only hours state that disbanding 'Women's Swim' "would be akin to banning Hasidic women from the pool altogether."
Billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel is the formerly anonymous money-man behind Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker.
Your long wait is over. Public service announcement: as of Tuesday, you can finally own Cop Rock on a triple DVD box. NYT: Sometimes “worst” is a misnomer for “ahead of its time.” On Tuesday Shout! Factory releases “Cop Rock: The Complete Series,” a three-disc package that provides a chance to revisit this TV curiosity. Watching the 11 episodes — the original 16-episode order was truncated when the show didn’t generate ratings — is fascinating, and not always in a train wreck way. When “Cop Rock” worked, though that was only intermittently, it worked quite well. Previously.
Axanar is a planned feature film set within the Star Trek universe, following on the short film Prelude to Axanar. Paramount and CBS sued the film’s producers, alleging that the fan film infringes on the studios’ copyrights in Star Trek. Yesterday, the Language Creation Society filed an amicus brief (.pdf), written by Mark Randazza, in Paramount v. Axanar, to oppose Paramount’s claim of owning a copyright in the Klingon language.
The Battle Over the Sea-Monkey Fortune. A former 1960s bondage-film actress is waging legal combat with a toy company for ownership of her husband’s mail-order aquatic-pet empire.
“Can you imagine a situation where a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy?” asked the lawyer, Douglas E. Mirell.
“If they were a child,” Mr. Daulerio replied.
“Under what age?” the lawyer pressed.
Gawker founder Nick Denton and former editor Albert J. Daulerio take the stand.
“If they were a child,” Mr. Daulerio replied.
“Under what age?” the lawyer pressed.
Gawker founder Nick Denton and former editor Albert J. Daulerio take the stand.
Dawn Porter's Trapped documentary about the effect of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws opens in NYC, LA and DC today, more theaters around the US next week. [more inside]
The family of Justina Pelletier has filed a lawsuit against Boston Children's Hospital; in 2013, while being treated for a suspected mitochondrial disease, the physicians at Boston Children's intercepted the teen's care, believing her issues were psychosomatic. When her parents attempted to get her discharged, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Family Services stepped in, and Justina was placed in a psychiatric unit. [more inside]
“To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and, to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion." The Center for Reproductive Rights and law firm Paul Weiss submitted an amicus brief [pdf] to the U.S. Supreme Court signed by 113 attorneys, detailing the importance of abortion rights in their own lives. [more inside]
Sci-Fi Author (and Metafilter's own) Charlie Stross has an interesting thought experiment: Could you get to a technological society without the use of writing? And if so, what would that look like?
12 reasons to worry about our criminal justice system, by 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski [PDF]
Jury Duty, by Anonymous. (SL Medium): There is one other person in the room who doesn’t quite fit in, the Latino man who is the only other male juror of color. He sits and stares out the window. He doesn’t join in on small talk. “I haven’t been sleeping,” he says, when asked why he is so silent. “A man’s life is at stake.” I think of him as Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men. We will share this role.
Life of the Law is a scrupulously fair podcast that tells stories and asks questions about the place where the law and everyday life intersects. As part of its commitment to making the law accessible, each episode comes with a full transcript. Life of the Law has covered a variety of topics ranging from pregnancy and motherhood in prison to rules about where cops can live to the hidden costs of traffic stops to the reason lawyer ads get so ridiculous. You learn useful tidbits, too, like the secret power of jury nullification and how difficult it is to legally sell weed in "legal" states. Not all the episodes are so weighty, though; Life of the Law has also been known to cover things like history of legal humor.
"In his final arguments to the jurors, Groenweghe called Johnson’s accusers “promiscuous.” Hands in his pockets, eyes downcast, he told the members of the jury that these young gay men “have a lifestyle I don’t understand, that many of us don’t understand. But, he said that HIV criminalization laws weren’t put on the books by legislators just to protect them, but to protect the public health — including the health of the jurors." [more inside]
Rewrite the rules to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy - "If there's one thing Joseph Stiglitz wants to say about inequality, it's that it has been a choice, not an unexpected, unfortunate economic outcome. That's unnerving, but it also means that citizens and politicians have the opportunity to fix the problem before it gets worse." (via) [more inside]
For three years, Mother Jones has been litigating a defamation suit over a piece that drew attention to the political activites of wealthy billionaire Frank VanderSloot. "This was not a dispute over a few words. It was a push, by a superrich businessman and donor, to wipe out news coverage that he disapproved of. Had he been successful, it would have been a chilling indicator that the 0.01 percent can control not only the financing of political campaigns, but also media coverage of those campaigns." [more inside]
After a drunk man pummels a Pepper robot greeting customers at a store in Japan, robotics ethicists call for a new type of legal protection that would apply specifically to robots.
As more-advanced robots can already react to basic stimuli, navigate complex environments, and use specialized “intelligence” to accomplish narrowly defined tasks, they present themselves as far from human but also as something rather different from a toaster or basic tool. Weng calls for a set of laws to guide human interaction with robots as they become more common and more social. He argues that they are a “third existence,” after people and property, deserving of their own legal protections.[more inside]
PatentsView is a new patent data visualization platform from the US Patent and Trademark Office. The PatentsView beta search tool allows members of the public to interact with nearly 40 years of data on patenting activity in the United States. Users can explore technological, regional, and individual-level patent trends via search filters with multiple viewing options. The database links inventors, their organizations, locations, and overall patenting activity using enhanced 1976-2014 data from public USPTO bulk data files.
On December 13, 2013, the US district court for the District of Columbia ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of American citizens' telephone records was "likely" to violate the Fourth Amendment (previously on MeFi). Today, DC's federal court of appeals overturned that ruling. The rationale is that the plaintiffs did not prove "that they were affected by the metadata-gathering program," so they did not have standing to challenge it in court. [more inside]
Sexual-Preference Cakes We Are Willing to Build (a parody in light of the recent ruling in Colorado that Masterpiece Cakeshop discriminated against two men by refusing to sell them a wedding cake.)
Joe Stiglitz on Inequality, Wealth, and Growth: Why Capitalism is Failing (video; if you don't have 30m, skip to 20m for discussion of political inequality, wealth, credit and monetary policy) - "If the very rich can use their position to get higher returns, more investment information, more extraction of rents, and if the very rich have equal or higher savings rates, then wealth will become more concentrated... economic inequality inevitably gets translated into political inequality, and political inequality gets translated into more economic inequality. The basic and really important idea here is that markets don't exist in a vacuum, that market economies operate according to certain rules, certain regulations that specify how they work. And those effect the efficiency of those markets, but they also effect how the fruits of the benefits of those markets are distributed and the result of that is there are large numbers of aspects of our basic economic framework that in recent years have worked to increase the inequality of wealth and income in our society... leading to a society which can be better described, increasingly, as an inherited plutocracy." [more inside]
Eric Adler of the Adler Vermillion law firm and the Legal Hackers group dives into the odd nuances of copyright laws as applied to video games.
The New Mexico Law Review just published an issue dedicated entirely to Breaking Bad. It features eight articles that analyze the illegal acts committed on the show, their real-world parallels, and the consequences attached:
Given the array of legal issues raised, our editorial board was excited to take the opportunity to present analysis of Breaking Bad by scholars and legal practitioners. In April 2014 we issued a call for papers requesting abstracts on topics including the application of the Fourth Amendment to drug crimes under the New Mexico and/or U.S. Constitutions; the War on Drugs; ethical duties of lawyers; drug-offense sentencing; drug enforcement in rural, urban, and/or Tribal areas; and substance abuse and the law.Some of the greatest legal minds in New Mexico (and the country) came together to examine how Walter White would look to a jury, how the war on drugs affects peripheral citizens like Skyler, and whether Heisenberg could have stayed legit by fighting for his stake in Grey Matter in the courts. [via] [more inside]
Tuesday night, the Santa Monica (CA) City Council unanimously passed one of the most restrictive laws in the nation on short-term rentals. The ordinance (which strengthens and enforces laws already on the books) explicitly bans vacation rentals – rentals of 30 days or less where the primary occupant of the home or apartment is not present – while legalizing and taxing “home-sharing” – i.e. renting a couch, spare room or backyard cottage - providing at least one of the primary residents lives on-site throughout the stay. Santa Monica (pop. 92K) receives over 7 million visitors annually; Salvador Valles, the city's acting chief administrative officer for Planning and Community Development, estimates the number of available listings on home-share sites would go from 1700 to 300. The ordinance goes into effect June 15. [more inside]
China rates its own citizens - including online behaviour: "The Chinese government is currently implementing a nationwide electronic system, called the Social Credit System, attributing to each of its 1,3 billion citizens a score for his or her behavior. The system will be based on various criteria, ranging from financial credibility and criminal record to social media behavior. From 2020 onwards each adult citizen should, besides his identity card, have such a credit code." [more inside]
It's been a long time coming, but the Porn Trolling copyright lawyers of Prenda Law finally had (another) day in court, this time before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It went poorly.
Amanda Knox Acquitted of 2007 Murder by Italy’s Highest Court [New York Times]
"ROME — Italy’s highest court overturned the murder convictions of Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend on Friday, throwing out all charges and ending a long-running courtroom drama over the killing of a British student in 2007. The ruling in favor of Ms. Knox, a 27-year-old former exchange student from Seattle, and her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, 31, was a shock in Italy, where the convictions had been expected to be upheld in the stabbing death of the British student, Meredith Kercher.Previously. Previously. Previously. Previously.
"This week I may be jailed for writing a book on human rights abuses." by Rafael Marques de Morais [more inside]
The day Chris Kyle died - an account of the fateful gun range encounter between the subject of the film "American Sniper" and fellow veteran Eddie Ray Routh. Routh has received a life sentence for killing Kyle and freind Chad Littlefield, with a jury finding his claims of PTSD to be "an excuse".
Now in open beta, SCOTUS Search allows users to "search the text of 1,424,780 individual statements within 6,683 Supreme Court oral arguments." [more inside]
Letter from Ernest Hemingway’s widow could solve Cuban farmhouse mystery. [The Guardian]
The mystery of whether Ernest Hemingway’s widow volunteered or was coerced into leaving their Cuban house to the nation has come a step closer to being solved, with the discovery of a letter in which she states that her late husband “would be pleased” that Finca Vigía be “given to the people of Cuba … as a centre for opportunities for wider education and research”.[more inside]
An Argentina court has recognised an Orangutang as 'non-human person': “This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories.” - A similar case regarding a chimpanzee in New York was recently thrown out of court.
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.
Missouri state court judge Rex M. Burlison has ruled that Missouri cannot keep St. Louis officials from marrying same sex couples. [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]
Is Sampling Tom Petty Like Plagiarizing from Moby-Dick? [SLYT] Mini-documentary on 'sampling' circa 1989.
Sure, highly paid tech workers often have to sign non-compete clauses when they hire on at a new firm, and some people think this is a problem. But what about when it's fast food employees? [more inside]
"What happens, exactly, when a white family that wants a white sperm donor gets a half-black child instead? In the case of a lesbian couple from Ohio, it means a "wrongful birth" lawsuit against the sperm bank — two years after the fact. " [more inside]