Friday, April 30, 2004

This is cold.

In skimming Overlawyered, I think I've found the coldest way possible to get dumped. Florida's laws on attorney's soliciting clients are notoriously lax, so much so that "ambulance chaser" has a whole new meaning. I'll bet the lawyers down there have scanners in their BMW's so they can beat the ambulance to the accident scene.

Anyway, apparently they've also got a system of buying the names of divorce defendants right after the petition's filed. So the poor chump gets a "Dear Prospective Client" letter from a lawyer before ever receiving notice or service of the divorce papers. Key quotes:

". . . one man returned from his mother's funeral in South America to learn from three lawyers' letters in his mailbox that his wife had left him." A "woman filed for divorce but did not serve the papers at once, waiting for family members to fly in to protect her. Before that could happen, a lawyer's flyer reached her husband, who came to the woman's house and beat her."
Because its Friday and I giggled:

Dixie Shanahan's been convicted of second degree murder. Of course, her attorney indicates he'll appeal. But the grounds he cites are unusual to say the least:

"The jury, under Iowa law, was not told what penalties were of the six verdicts they considered. Steensland said that was unfair.

"I think the law let them (the jury) down," Steensland said."

In Iowa we have a long-standing rule that the jury is not informed of the penalties for different counts charged. This is because criminal law is statutory and specific: each criminal statute has certain elements that must be proved in order for the State to show a crime has been committed. If any of the elements are missing, no crime. The focus during trial is on these elements. Like a jigsaw puzzle, jurors match up the elements of each crime to the evidence and see which crime "fits." Only after deciding whether a crime has been committed do we enter the penalty phase of the prosecution. Mr. Steensland wants to turn the system on its head, and for very good reason. If the jurors are told the penalties up front, defense counsel could encourage them to do results-oriented deliberation: deciding up front how much time they want to give a defendant, figuring out which crime will give them that result, and straining the facts to fit the crime they want, whether that's actually the one committed or not. In this case, that would favor the defense. But how about when it favors the prosecution? In a very aggregious case in which no "high level" crime was committed, the jury could strain the facts the other way in order to inflict the punishment it desires.

Its my old rule for analysis of political issues: always come up with the worst case scenario and put the shoe on the other foot. If you still think it's a good idea, you've got a decent principle. If not, rethink it. I think the courts won't buy this one.
Because I've spent most of the day disagreeing with others, I thought I'd continue the trend. Cedar Pundit agrees with this Press Citizen article which points out that while it's fine and dandy to ban alcohol at the Coralville Reservoir beaches, it makes little sense to do so when allowing alcohol on the boats. I agree that one without the other makes little sense, but question the beach ban altogether.

Specifically, I'm wondering about this: "Granted, during the past decade none of the seven drownings at Coralville Lake have been related to alcohol or drugs. But must we always wait until someone dies before taking action?"

Huh? I keep hearing this touted as a safety measure considering the recent drownings as in the Daily Iowan "Two drownings and a volume of complaints about rowdy behavior at the beaches last summer persuaded the corps to ban alcohol this year. . ." If none of the deaths were alcohol-related, wouldn't it be better to figure out how they could have been prevented? It just seems that alcohol is being banned as a catch-all solution, and I don't take well to banning anything without some real reason behind it. OWI laws were enacted after we showed drunk drivers caused accidents. Otherwise, I'd disagree with them as well. If there are underage kids out there, prosecute them for PAULA. If people get intoxicated and annoying, cite them for public intox or disorderly conduct. But absent a showing that a flat out ban would actually accomplish something, I don't like giving up yet another right simply because it sounds good.
Tusk and Talon and Cedar Pundit have already pointed out Professor Johnson's article on the fake rainforest in Coralville for the Des Moines Register, and Gerald Holton's pro-fake rainforest response.

Given they've fully fisked it, I would only like to address one minor subpoint:

". . . environmentalism is one of the fast-growing popular movements of our time, analogous in many ways to the civil-rights movement of the last century. I look at the Iowa Environmental/Education Project as a brilliant statement, an opportunity that taps into this popular consciousness, gives it an iconic place and informs and tames it."

There is a problem with this concept: only fake rainforests are tame. As it's been pointed out elsewhere, if they actually managed to recreate a real rainforest in this dome, visitors would be attacked by malarial mosquitos as they sweated and hacked their way through an underbrush teeming with poisonous insects and other less-than-pleasant surprises. I've not been to the Omaha rainforest, but Brookfield Zoo in Chicago has one exhibit. It's interesting, it's fun, and it's not real.

In Iowa, nature is the fox I heard attack and kill one of the neighbor's cats in the timber near our house. That's why I don't let our cat out. Nature is those d*mn asian beetles crawling everywhere, the incredibly huge spider that was on the wall by the garage door opener, the snakes in my garden, and the occasional bat that gets into the attic. How on earth do you think that you can capture a rainforest in a dome?

If you haven't read Michael Crichton's speech about environmentalism, you really should. Whether you agree or disagree with his opinion that the best solution to the malaria problem in Africa is to reinstate the use of DDT, his remarks on the environmental extremists are very provocative:

"Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

. . . .

There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?

And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did. On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process. And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

. . .

In short, the romantic view of the natural world as a blissful Eden is only held by people who have no actual experience of nature. People who live in nature are not romantic about it at all. They may hold spiritual beliefs about the world around them, they may have a sense of the unity of nature or the aliveness of all things, but they still kill the animals and uproot the plants in order to eat, to live. If they don't, they will die.

And if you, even now, put yourself in nature even for a matter of days, you will quickly be disabused of all your romantic fantasies. Take a trek through the jungles of Borneo, and in short order you will have festering sores on your skin, you'll have bugs all over your body, biting in your hair, crawling up your nose and into your ears, you'll have infections and sickness and if you're not with somebody who knows what they're doing, you'll quickly starve to death. But chances are that even in the jungles of Borneo you won't experience nature so directly, because you will have covered your entire body with DEET and you will be doing everything you can to keep those bugs off you."
I read this DM Register op-ed article on VEISHEA written by an Iowa State Student on Wednesday.

"It is important to remember any event is influenced by the context in which it occurs. Thus, we need to recognize that the disruption could have been handled better by law enforcement. We couldn't justify crashing a KKK meeting, pushing members into the streets, indiscriminately pepper spray everyone and then define it a "riot." Neither should the disturbance on Welch have been handled in such a way. The police departments can organize behind their badges, stand at press conferences and say they acted appropriately. These statements are placed in newspapers, and many may wrongly assume the statement "police acted appropriately" is an unbiased account of the night. Students don't have a comparable way to tell their story. . ."

I see. Officers' responding to neighbor complaints about a raucous 350+ person party is akin to "crashing" a private meeting, requesting the party-goers to disperse is like "pushing members into the streets" and the officer's use of tear gas to break up the crowd, in response to being pelted by bricks, bottles and other ufo's by an angry mob that outnumbered them 10-to-1 is synonymous with "indescriminately [sic] pepper spray everyone and then define it a 'riot.'"

One of the things they should have taught you in public relations is not to overplay your hand. You rightly pointed out that the number of rioters only equaled 3.65 percent of the student population, you said that the riots were something that the rest of the students were "ashamed of." These are strong points supporting the premise that VEISHEA itself shouldn't be banned because of the riots, rather the students participating in the riots should be identified and prosecuted. If you had sstopped there, it might have been a nice little piece and made your point well.

Instead you attempt to imply that it was the gestapo-style tactics of the police that caused the riots. They break up a quiet "meeting" and "indiscriminately" tear gas otherwise innocent students in order to justify the label of a "riot." We don't know the real story, because students like yourself apparently have no access to the press to communicate their side of the story. . . . um, yeah. And the article you just wrote doesn't undercut that theory utterly?

In attempting to assign the blame to the police on this one, you also overlook what happened after the tear gas was sent into the crowd. I suppose that then the poor, maligned students had no choice but to inflict $40,000 in property damage on businesses? What, the window at the Pizza Pit looked threatening to them and they acted in self defense?

"All involved should admit their shortcomings in this chain of events and cooperate with campustown establishments to prevent such messes. Punishing all for the acts of a few is not a just resolution."

I see, it's the merchant's responsibility to see to it that they install unbreakable glass so the rioters can't cut themselves when they try to break it out with a brick. Nice try.

Students are not children, they are adults and should be treated as such. I don't agree with the babysitting measures taken by various universities to restrict alcohol from students of legal age. But neither to I believe any special considerations should be given to students who flagrantly violate the law and basic common sense. The city and university have the right to limit activities which endanger the businesses and people of the town. Perhaps if the students would be more concerned about policing their own actions rather than blaming other people in a "now look what you made me do" argument, the request to reinstate VEISHEA would be taken more seriously.
For those of you who are interested, yesterday the Iowa Court of Appeals posted a whole batch of new decisions here. I haven't had time to read them yet.
Back from the abyss. For those of you who haven't been deposed, here's a short sample of several hours' worth of questions:

Q) What other cases did you review to come to that conclusion?

A) I don't recall.

Q) In fact, do you recall whether you reviewed any other cases?

A) In the memo, I state that "the case I feel best represents this point is. . . " That implies to me that I reviewed other cases in forming my opinion.

Q) But you don't recall whether you read them or not?

A) I wrote the memo four years ago, and this was a minor subpoint. I do not recall at this time.

Q) Would you have records that show what cases you reviewed?

A) The Westlaw bills might have those details, I don't know how our plan is set up. Otherwise, probably not.

(This is the rough paraphrase, we obviously won't get the transcripts for a few days. For those of you who are also attorneys, yes I am that my answers simply should have repeated "I do not recall" or "I don't know." However, for tactical reasons the attorney defending my depo agreed I should give this complete of an answer, as it contrasts well with the other side when in front of a jury.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Probably no blogging today - I get to undergo the wonderful little legal ritual called "getting deposed." Loads of fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I was bothered by this article in the Des Moines Register, and decided to do a little investigating of my own. The article states:

The Iowa Supreme Court said Monday that it would review an appeals court ruling that upheld the burglary conviction of a Sheldahl man who dragged his wife through the window of a van in 2001. The announcement gave new hope to Nathaniel Taylor, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence. Records show that the Iowa Court of Appeals is reversed in about 75 percent of the cases reviewed by the Supreme Court. . . .

Taylor, 27, was convicted of first-degree burglary and sentenced to a mandatory 25-year term. It was his first criminal conviction. His wife, Susan, has defended him, saying that he didn't intend to harm her during the incident and that they were attempting to save their marriage. Chief Judge Rosemary Sackett of the appeals court said in December that Taylor's punishment didn't fit the crime. "I do not wish to diminish in any respect the defendant's action," Sackett wrote. "But I question whether society is served by filling our state prisons . . . with people like this defendant." She said anger-management classes might have been a better solution.

Taylor's case gathered new attention in March when The Des Moines Register reported that he was unable to see his wife for at least a year because of a prison rule that bars visits by spouses until inmates complete anger-manage- ment and batterer-education classes. Taylor hasn't been able to get the training because the classes have been limited by budget cuts, and he gets bumped by other inmates with earlier release dates.

The article left me feeling a bit sorry for Mr. Taylor, and wondering if a 25 year sentence might be a bit harsh for a first conviction, given all the pro-Taylor rhetoric. So I looked up the appellate case.

The facts of STATE V. TAYLOR:

"Susan Taylor (Susan) obtained a no-contact order against her husband, Nathaniel Taylor (Taylor) and moved into her friend Michelle Vincent's (Michelle) home. The petition for relief from domestic abuse filed by Susan alleged that in September 2001 Taylor pushed Susan into a door, causing her to fall while she was holding their daughter and was also pregnant. It further alleged that in October 2001 Taylor became upset when Susan was not home when he wanted her to be. When she did return home Taylor was angry, had placed a gun with bullets on the table, told Susan to put the kids to bed, and that he wanted to take her out to the garage to kill her.

After staying with Michelle for five days, Susan, Michelle, and their children attended evening church in Michelle's van. After church they were planning to stop at the store when they saw Taylor drive by. Michelle was driving the van, Susan was seated in the front passenger seat, and Michelle's three children and Susan's two children were in the back of the van. Michelle followed Taylor for awhile to see if he knew where she lived, but then went back to the church parking lot because she thought there would be people there who could help. Michelle also called the police on her cell phone to tell them what was going on. Once back at the church lot Taylor confronted Susan, in violation of the protective order.

According to Michelle's testimony, Taylor got out of his vehicle and began pounding on the passenger window with is hand saying 'I just want five f---ing minutes, you f---ing bitch.' When Michelle attempted to drive away Taylor got back into his vehicle and tried to ram or block the van from driving away. At that point Michelle again called the police. While Michelle was talking to Detective Pote on her cell phone Taylor continued demanding that Susan talk to him and jumped on the hood of the van, denting the fender. He pounded on the windshield and cracked it. He hit the passenger side window and it shattered. Taylor then proceeded to pull his five-month pregnant wife out through the broken window. He pushed her into his vehicle and drove away. Taylor drove behind some storage units where they could not be seen from the street. A short time later, Taylor and Susan walked to the police station and he turned himself in to the police for violating the no-contact order. Susan did not file a written report on the incident but only wrote one word and stopped. Detective Pote believed she stopped because she was 'in a state of shock' and she just 'kept looking straight ahead.'. . .

Dr. Davis-Kramer testified that when she examined Susan at the hospital she discovered bruises and abrasions on Susan's chest, shoulder, and scapula. She further testified that although Susan initially did not complain of any pain, she indicated she had some pain when palpated by the doctor. Michelle testified that she stayed home with Susan the day after the incident because Susan was really stiff and sore. Michelle also stated that Susan asked her to rub her back and in doing so she noticed Susan had multiple bruises on her back, as well as cuts and abrasions on her hands. While welts, bruises and similar markings are not physical injuries per se, they are frequently evidence from which the existence of a physical injury can be found."

It should also be noted that the trial court admitted evidence that evidence that he pushed Susan and threatened to kill her in September and October of 2001. It was admissible as evidence of Mr. Taylor's intent in committing these acts, which he put at issue during trial.

This is what the Register describes as "dragged his wife through the window of a van in 2001"? That's it? According to the facts of the case, he rammed the van, smashed the window, yanked his pregnant wife out through broken glass, forced her into his car and drove away. If our prisons aren't meant for people who threaten to kill their wives and essentially kidnap them in a violent manner in broad daylight, for whom are they constructed?

I understand that she has recanted her earlier reports, but there are independent witnesses. Recantation is common even in meritorious cases of domestic abuse.

To take a look at the law in this case:

713.1 Burglary defined. Any person, having the intent to commit a felony, assault or theft therein, who, having no right, license or privilege to do so, enters an occupied structure, such occupied structure not being open to the public, or who remains therein after it is closed to the public or after the person's right, license or privilege to be there has expired, or any person having such intent who breaks an occupied structure, commits burglary.

702.12 Occupied structure.
An "occupied structure" is any building, structure, appurtenances to buildings and structures, land, water or air vehicle, or similar place adapted for overnight accommodation of persons, or occupied by persons for the purpose of carrying on business or other activity therein, or for the storage or safekeeping of anything of value.

"A bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. State v. Gordon, 560 N.W.2d 4, 6 (Iowa 1997)." (quote from Taylor's appellate court case).

713.3 Burglary in the first degree.
1. A person commits burglary in the first degree if, while perpetrating a burglary in or upon an occupied structure in which one or more persons are present, any of the following circumstances apply:

c. The person intentionally or recklessly inflicts bodily injury on any person.

2. Burglary in the first degree is a class "B" felony.

902.9 Maximum sentence for felons.
The maximum sentence for any person convicted of a felony shall be that prescribed by statute or, if not prescribed by statute, if other than a class "A" felony shall be determined as follows:
1. A felon sentenced for a first conviction for a violation of section 124.401D, shall be confined for no more than ninety-nine years.
2. A class "B" felon shall be confined for no more than twenty-five years.

From what I'm reading:
1) He had no right to be in her van pursuant to the no contact order.
2) He entered it, violently.
3) He had the intent to commit an assault according to the trial court, as may be inferred from his actions at the time and his prior death threats.
4) She was stiff, sore, and had bruises cuts and abrasions, sufficient to find physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.

Based on this, it appears the indeterminate sentence was appropriate under section 902.9. As far as the visitation issue goes, Mr. Taylor has already made it eminently clear to what lengths he will go to maintain contact with this woman, regardless of any court orders to the contrary. However, that's not relevant on whether his conviction should stand.

It's occurred to me that in the interests of full disclosure, I should mention I spent most of the five years I was a prosecutor handling domestic violence cases.

According to this article in the Press Citizen:

"James Arthur wants the test results kept out of his July 26 trial, in which he faces vehicular homicide and serious injury by motor vehicle charges. Arthur filed the motion to suppress earlier this month. According to police: On Sept. 28, Arthur, 18, drove his black 1997 Ford Thunderbird down Taft Speedway at speeds between 61 mph and 74 mph. He apparently missed a curve and smashed into a massive ash tree. The speed limit on road is 25 mph. Brian Barry, who sat in the right rear seat, died at the scene. He roomed with Arthur at Mayflower Residence Hall, and the pair were classmates and 2003 graduates of West High. Two others, Betsy Sweeting and Mackenzie Sedlacek, were injured in the crash. . . . Toxicology reports showed Arthur had a .163 blood alcohol content at the time of the crash, more than double the legal limit of .08. "Dr. Lorenzo, through her deposition testimony, has now confirmed that the certification form was incorrect at the time she signed it," Arthur's lawyer David Brown wrote in the motion to suppress. "Dr. Lorenzo testified in her deposition that rather than being unconscious as certified to on said form, (Arthur) was conscious at the time that she signed the form." Brown argued that police failed to follow proper procedure to permit withdrawal of Arthur's blood and did so without his consent."

In looking at Iowa cases, the law allows the doctor to sign a form for withdrawal of blood for a blood test if the doctor feels the patient is dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a condition rendering that person incapable of consent or refusal. That means there could be a basis for the form even if he was conscious at the time.

I pulled these three up right away:

Hafits v. Iowa Dept. of Transp., Motor Vehicle Div. 605 N.W.2d 1 (Iowa 2000)


Hafits was involved in a one-vehicle accident when his truck went off a retaining wall and caught fire. Emergency personnel who responded to the scene described Hafits as being "conscious, alert, [and] orientated x3." This means they felt he was fully alert. A doctor at the hospital, however, had a different view. The doctor concluded Hafits was intoxicated and certified he was incapable of making a decision consenting to or refusing a blood test. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) revoked the driver's license of Gerald L. Hafits under Iowa Code section 321J.12 (1997) for driving with blood alcohol above .10. On judicial review, the district court reversed, ruling that the revocation was not supported by substantial evidence.


Iowa Code Section 321J.6:

"1. A person who operates a motor vehicle in this state under circumstances which give reasonable grounds to believe that the person has been operating a motor vehicle in violation of section 321J.2 or 321J.2A is deemed to have given consent to the withdrawal of specimens of the person's blood, breath, or urine and to a chemical test or tests of the specimens for the purpose of determining the alcohol concentration or presence of a controlled substance or other drugs, subject to this section. The withdrawal of the body substances and the test or tests shall be administered at the written request of a peace officer having reasonable grounds to believe that the person was operating a motor vehicle in violation of section 321J.2 or 321J.2A, and if any of the following conditions exist:

. . .

b. The person has been involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in personal injury or death."

Iowa Code Section 321J.7:

“A person who is dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a condition rendering the person incapable of consent or refusal is deemed not to have withdrawn the consent provided by section 321J.6, and the test may be given if a licensed physician certifies in advance of the test that the person is dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a condition rendering that person incapable of consent or refusal. If the certification is oral, a written certification shall be completed by the physician within a reasonable time of the test.”


"[W]e conclude that the DOT's finding of incapability is supported by substantial evidence. We start, of course, with the "strong evidence" presented by the certificate itself. The doctor concluded Hafits was incapable of consenting or refusing and conveyed that opinion to the officer, who then suggested the doctor consider signing a certificate under section 321J.7. Even Hafits' own evidence that he was alert is cast in some doubt by evidence that he did not remember the accident, even though he was burned as a result of it. Because we believe there was substantial evidence to support the finding of incapability, we reverse the district court's ruling to the contrary and remand for reinstatement of the revocation."

State v. Axline, 450 N.W.2d 857 (Iowa 1990) - NOTE: This is too old for the archives, pulled it from Westlaw.


Axline was the driver of a car which left the road and turned over, killing a passenger. Officers and a doctor on the scene detected an odor of alcohol about Axline. The accident occurred at approximately 9:30 to 9:45 p.m. Dr. Dennis Mallory, the Tama County medical examiner, was called to the scene at approximately 10:00 p.m. He examined the body of Axline's passenger and pronounced him dead. He also examined the defendant at the scene, finding him to be excited and somewhat uncooperative. Dr. Mallory determined that Axline had suffered multiple blunt trauma to his chest and abdomen and feared that he was experiencing severe internal hemorrhaging and shock. The doctor began an intravenous drip and administered oxygen. Axline was placed in an ambulance to be taken to the hospital. Dr. Mallory called ahead and requested that a trauma surgeon meet the ambulance at the hospital. When Axline arrived at the hospital shortly after 11:00 p.m., a trauma doctor, Dr. Kolinsky, began treating him. X rays were taken to determine the extent of any spinal injury and a peritoneal tap was used to assess the extent of any internal bleeding. While these proceedings were in progress, Dr. Mallory asked a sheriff's deputy, Myron Obereu, whether Obereu was there to request Axline's consent for a blood test. Obereu said that he was. Dr. Mallory said that Axline was "in no shape to understand or give consent." Pursuant to Iowa Code section 321J.7, Dr. Mallory certified that Axline was incapable of giving or refusing consent to the withdrawal of his blood. The blood sample was then taken.


Same as above


Without elaborating on the evidence, we simply observe that the blood test rulings were sufficiently supported by the record. The court found that, even though Axline was conscious at the time, he was nevertheless in a condition rendering him incapable of giving or refusing consent. This is not necessarily inconsistent with Axline's evidence that he was conscious, awake, and responsive to questions. While the evidence relied on by Axline would justify a different conclusion by the trial court, it found otherwise. Under our standard of review, we conclude that the trial court's order denying suppression was supported by substantial evidence and therefore affirm on that issue.

State v. Weidner, 418 N.W.2d 47 (Iowa 1988) - NOTE: This is too old for the archives, pulled it from Westlaw.


On June 27, 1986, defendant was involved in an automobile accident in which two people were killed. Eyewitnesses testified to observing him driving erratically at a high rate of speed on Second Avenue in the city of Des Moines, running through a red light, and colliding with the vehicle in which the victims were riding. Because defendant himself sustained serious injuries in the accident, he was taken to a hospital. There the Polk County Medical Examiner, a licensed physician, certified that he was semi-conscious and incapable of giving consent or refusal to an extraction of blood. Based upon that certification, the Des Moines police officer made a written request for a specimen of defendant's blood. That request resulted in obtaining a specimen which was chemically analyzed. The results, showing a blood alcohol level of .166, were used in the resulting criminal prosecution. . . . An emergency room nurse testified that, in her opinion, defendant was beginning to come out of his unconsciousness at or about the time of his admission to the hospital. She indicated that she had charted him as "talking to us, drowsy but remained oriented." The district court determined that the conditions for a withdrawal of blood pursuant to section 321B.11 had been established by the State and admitted the test results in evidence at defendant's trial.


The portions of Iowa Code Section 321B11 dealt with here are essentially the same as above.


The Court found that “although the medical examiner's conclusions concerning defendant's capability of consenting to the test were challenged, there was substantial evidence to support the district court's finding that the certificate correctly reflected his incapability of so doing. Findings of fact by the court on preliminary evidentiary issues must be sustained if supported by substantial evidence. State v. Florie, 411 N.W.2d 689, 695 (Iowa 1987). We have considered all arguments presented and find no basis for overturning the judgments of the district court.”

I can see two avenues of attack here: 1) That he was conscious, coherent and capable of consent; or 2) That the state's filling out the form for the doctor in a false manner somehow rises to the level of an illegal search that we must punish by suppression of the evidence obtained from it, in order to preserve the liberties outlined in the 4th or 6th amendments.

There's not enough information in the article to assess the first one. It will all depend on what the doc says. The second point is tied in with the first to some degree. If the defendant had been unconsious, but was in the process of waking up at the time unbeknownst to the officer, would the Court label this an illegal search simply because the officer filled the form out for the doctor's convenience? I suspect it would have to rise to the level of a deliberate falsehood or a reckless disregard for the truth - which would mean that the defendant would have to actually be conscious, coherent, and capable, or the officer had some reason to believe he was although he was not.
Iowa State is going to suspend VEISHEA for a year. However, it looks like the students are going to get their "dialogue." Key quote:

"Iowa State will form two task groups to review the causes that led up to this year's riots, and to form recommendations to improve relations between ISU students and the Ames community. The task forces will include Geoffroy, the ISU student body president and Ames Mayor Ted Tedesco."

However, the police are pursuing charges against the rioters:

"Nearly 40 people were arrested in connection with the riots, and police are analyzing videotape and photographs to file other charges."
Speaking of kids, my latest with the nephews:

We're explaining to two-year-old Daniel the idea that his father is my little brother. He glances up at his six-foot-plus Dad then shakes his head, giving me the "boy, are you stupid" look. I get the bright idea to pull out old family photos as visual aids. He looks at a few family portraits, pointing to people. "Who this?" he demands. "That's me," I say. After a few rounds, he seems to get the rough concept, though real understanding won't come until later. I turn to the snapshots.

Me at three talking on a toy phone. "Who that?" "That's me playing with my toy phone." "I want play with phone." "You can't, we don't have it anymore. It was a long time ago."

Me at two riding on one of those toy horses on springs. "Who that?" "That's me on my toy horsie." "I want play with horsie." "You can't, I don't have it anymore. Don't you have your own horsie?"

We repeat this bit with a big wheel, a doll, a bozo-the-clown punching bag. The kid starts eyeing me like I've got some secret stash of toys hidden somewhere in the house. I don't think I ever convinced him. He's still contemplating taking me out and conducting a room-to-room search for the loot. If you read I've died by tripping on a small "Thomas the Tank Engine" left conveniently near the top of the stairs, you'll know.

James Lileks has a cute snippet up on The Bleat about his daughter learning not to say the "G-word." In part:

"Later, at dinner: "Oh God." I shot her a look. She held up her pink bear. “He said it.” He doesn’t speak. He’s stuffed.

“I talk for him. But I didn’t say it.” All children are lawyers at heart. Looking for the loophole."

Monday, April 26, 2004


One of the things I love about the letters to the editor are all the right and left wing "intellectuals" who propose the most interesting theories about life, the universe, and everything. This letter to the Press-Citizen is a brilliant example of this not-quite-coherent thinking:

"Mormon Trek feeds oil frenzy

It's really nice that Ernie Lehmann and crew are excited about the Mormon Trek extension ("New money pushes Mormon Trek road project," April 19). This gives me even more incentive to support our president and our war to control Middle East oil. Without this support, all of that vinyl for houses and the gasoline required to trek us out the Mormon trail and soon-to-be new malls, our citizens might be put in a vulnerable position.

Oh, I forgot! We are bringing the Iraqis democracy. Six hundred-plus dead GI's, 10,000 Iraqis. How many others dead from the previous sanctions?

Oh, I also forgot! We are a compassionate and benevolent nation.

Addendum: Why are the businesses in anti-business Iowa City too cheap to fund the Friday night concerts? I spend beaucoup bucks there.

Dennis Kowalski

Iowa City"

So now Ernie Lehman is to blame for Iraq? What color is the sky in your world?
EWW. I wonder what the security officers in prison are going to do about this kind of homemade weapon?
Last week's "Weird Searches that Link People to My Site" winner:

2004 email adresses of workers current OR pages "america"

Do ya really think there's one vast, searchable list out there for your spamming pleasure? And what makes you think it would be on this site? By the way, addresses has two d's. Not that it will help you.

So why do I never get the really odd ones that Cedar Pundit seems to attract? Just wondering.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

It's late morning and I'm still rather bleary from last night, so there will be no commentary of substance, intelligent or othewise. Closing night went beautifully, the tear-down was smooth, and it was so sad to say goodbye to everyone as the party at the Mill wound down. A synagogue in Cedar Rapids has expressed interest in sponsoring an additional performance or two in the fall, perhaps timed to coincide with the rememberance of Kristalnacht. No details yet, but we've decided to meet once a month or so to do a line bash, just in case. Meanwhile, I added Katerina to the lineup and posted a few other shots below. I'd do more, but it would really slow up pageload time. By the way, some of those uniforms are real, not just authentic-looking. It added something to the feel of the play, to say the least.

Saturday, April 24, 2004


Well the new computer works. Now I just need to see what I've got on disc from my docs and pictures. I'm really bummed I lost the photos from my last vacation, Christmas, and so on. That's what I get for being lazy with the backups.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Wonkette has this - I sincerely hope it isn't photoshopped. You gotta love a clever protest regardless of your politics.

Apparently, Urban-bag designer Tom Bihn has a Seattle store and a Port Angeles factory outlet, and his sales have doubled since a French-language presidential insult mysteriously made its way onto the bilingual washing instructions for hundreds of his laptop bags and backpacks:

Translated into English: "We are sorry that our president is an idiot. We didn't vote for him."

This is so cool.

I just wish that Bihn hadn't ruined it by practicing plausible denial in this LA Times story: "Bihn is careful to note that the tag doesn't specify who "our president" refers to. 'I'm going with the idea that it's a joke about me, the president of the company,' Bihn said Thursday, but 'clearly when you use the word 'idiot' and 'president' in the same sentence, people jump to other conclusions.'"

Okay I read this editorial in the Press-Citizen. What drew my attention was the following:

4. Economic growth

• WHAT HAPPENED: Considering the weak rural economy, budget and tax priorities this year should have been geared toward economic growth.

That wasn't the case. And as a partisan snub, lawmakers failed to establish a permanent funding method for the Iowa Values Fund, the economic development program that brought the guarantee of millions in dollars of new businesses, company expansions and accompanying jobs to the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids Technology Corridor and elsewhere.

During the session's final days, lawmakers did approve dollars for Vision Iowa and Community Attractions and Tourism Program. That opens the way for the proposed Iowa Environmental/Education project in Coralville to receive state dollars. Unfortunately, the funding mechanism for Vision Iowa isn't based on bonds, threatening to nullify much of the financial gain from the benefits that fund brings.

Though the local economy is strong, we're dependent on state funding for the University of Iowa. As Iowa goes, so Iowa City goes. The state must regear its economy to attract the growing and prosperous biotech, biomass and information-services industries for which we are perfectly positioned.


• NEXT TIME: Lawmakers should fully commit to funding the $500 million Iowa Values Fund and find other ways to encourage business expansion and relocation to Iowa.

It appears to be saying the only thing that saved them from getting an F was their paving the way to fund the fake rainforest in Coralville? And the reason why they got a D was their failure to provide "permanent funding" for Vision Iowa, to fund whatever project fits their "vision" next?

Hey, you Board members - I have a Vision! I think my own yard would be greatly enhanced with a fake ocean and tropical beach. We could buy up the neighbor's land and put it under an 18-acre dome, keeping it precisely heated to a sunny 83 degrees with a fresh breeze blowing up off the surf. I could invite neighborhood children over and teach them how Caribbean cultures eat fresh seafood and drink margaritas. After hours, I could invite all kinds of other interesting people over to study the celebratory rituals of Antigua, St. Kitt's, or Martinique. It would be very educational. I would only charge a nominal fee as the resident caretaker. Of course, you would have to get an additional grant to subsidize my PADI certification before I could lead the dive classes.

Anyway, the article tallies with the Gazette piece Cedar Pundit blogged on yesterday, which states in part:

"While it would have been criticized as radical, the Vision Iowa board should have continued to "award" whatever a project deserved, based on its merits. If the award exceeded funds available, an IOU marked "payable by the Legislature" could have been attached. Of course, the board had no authority to do such a thing, but it would have sent a strong message to the Legislature about the enormous and growing grass-roots support for the program and the need to assure this becomes a permanent program. Communities should be able to count on this state partnership whenever a visionary project is developed, not just if it happens to come at the right time during a funding cycle."

What part of 'fiscal insanity' do these publications not understand? Yes, we do want growth in our state, but the "Vision Iowa" board has apparently already shown itself to be fiscally nutty based on the fake rainforest idea. The idea of giving them authority to fund whatever wacky visionary project they like regardless of the state of our budget is like handing your personal credit card over to Tootsy the Clown.

C'mon. Who on your editorial board has stock in this project? You can tell us. At least then we could believe you have a rational reason to support these ideas.

On Tuesday, David Hogburg of Cornfield Commentary had this post asking:

"Do me a favor and read the Des Moines Register’s account of the Veishea riot that occurred over the weekend at ISU. Is it just me, or does the story come off largely as “it was the fault of police”?"

Well it's official, David - it isn't just you. The Register has gone from hinting to explicit accusation with Erin Crawford's column today, "Who's to blame for Veishea violence, riots?"

The article begins:

"Student reaction in the aftermath is far more provocative than the $40,000 in damage the rioters created. What happened at Veishea was the result of a few hundred people behaving horribly. What students have to say about it indicates a red-alert level of antagonism between students and the police and school administration.

Students were critical of their schoolmates and their inappropriate behavior, but they saved their harshest words for police, who they said overreacted with frightening actions. . . Sunday morning's events were bizarre and destructive. But for these young adults, there's a line between drunken stupidity and malicious activity. And, for whatever reason, they don't think students crossed that line. They think police did."

Well, duh. I've been to many beer parties, both of age and underage, and the partiers never think the police acted fairly in breaking up the event. It's always "Totally bogus, dude." Sometimes they are correct. More often than not, their perspective is perhaps slightly skewed. Police force is a sliding scale that is supposed to be proportionate to the situation. Look at the situation here. According to this earlier story in the Register:

"About 100 police, state troopers and sheriff's deputies used tear gas, pepper spray and batons against a mob that broke windows, set trash fires, and threw rocks and bottles after officers broke up an off-campus party about midnight. No serious injuries were reported. . . About 350 people were at the party. . . After officers dispersed the crowd, it moved toward Welch Avenue, the stage for clashes between students and police during past Veisheas. 'People in the area began yelling and chanting, "Riot, riot," ' Police Commander Jim Robinson said. The crowd, some hurling bottles as well as insults, quickly swelled with Welch Avenue bar patrons to an estimated 1,000. 'While this was going on, officers were being pelted with bricks, concrete, rods, cans, coins and other items,' Jaeger said."

So you have police officers responding to community complaints about a party, which they are very obligated to do. They find 350 - 400 people at the residence, and ask them to disperse. Instead of going home or splitting up to separate parties, they go back to the 'ol riot center from past years, where they join the after-hours bar crowd and begin throwing rocks, sticks, bottles, concrete, and other items at the police, who are now outnumbered by about 10 to 1. They begin chanting "Riot, riot," and screaming insults at the officers. Just seriously sit back and picture yourself in the officers' shoes at that moment.

Can you feel a slight sense of panic? Do you understand, given crowd mentality, the potential for danger here?

So how did the officers respond? They shot tear gas into the crowd to disperse it. No, they didn't ask them to politely go home. They'd tried that, remember? But neither did they panic and shoot anyone. In fact, there were no serious injuries reported from police "attacks" or otherwise.

So how did the students respond? Did they go home? Did they stage a protest? File complaints against the department? No, they attacked local businesses.

There was considerable damage done, $40,000 by Ms. Crawford's own admission. Other details were noted in the AmesTribune story here: "Most commercial business owners carry insurance policies with high deductibles to keep premiums low. Crawford is relieved that rioters broke only one of the store's 10 windows. He estimates repair costs will reach $2,500. Pizza Pit and Welch Avenue Station owner Tom Northrop estimated his costs at $5,000 to $6,000. Rioters did $500 worth of damage to Mayhem Collectibles, $1,000 to Leedz Salon and an estimated $2,500 to US Bank. The Tribune was unable to contact Taco Bell, a business that sustained extensive external damage."

Okay, tell me how the police shooting you with tear gas somehow forces you to break a window at the Pizza Pit? Remember, that's the central premise of all this: it wouldn't have "gotten out of hand" if the police hadn't fired the tear gas. It's easy to slide past so much behavior with that phrase "gotten out of hand."

You mean the police forced you to pick up that rock/stick/bottle and attack a window?

The police made you inflict thousands of dollars in damage to a business that had nothing to do with the tear gas, the police, or the situation?

Oh, please.

As David Yepsen said in his column: "We read where some students want to "dialogue" about what happened. Dialogue? What's there to discuss? Laws were broken, people injured and property damaged. Instead of thinking of themselves as "victims," students need to learn real-life lessons in personal responsibility."

It's RIVERFEST time in Iowa City this weekend. A calendar of events is posted in the DI here. It's also the last weekend for Rosenstrasse. If you're in the neighborhood, catch the performance at the Wesley Center at 8:00 either tonight or tomorrow.

PS to Ames: We know how to have a party without riots.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The review on Rosenstrasse is up - we're a hit. Key quote:

"Dreamwell Theatre in Iowa City, the company presenting the Iowa premiere of this show (which opened last weekend, in honor of Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — April 18), has a spare, absolutely wonderful production in “Rosenstrausse.” It’s raw — a bare stage and a group of actors — and it is very effective."

I am actually the only principal character not reviewed in the article. However, as I know Ms. Nancy was never taught the "if you can't say anything nice" rule, I'll take the silence as at least a nod of competence. She also fails to mention Deone Pedersen, who manages to pull off playing seven distinct characters in the space of an hour and a half, complete with costume changes, voice alterations, etc.

All in all, it is a fantastic production full of talented people. We close this weekend, so if you want to see it, get tickets for either Friday or Saturday.


On a side note, that is not petty and has nothing to do with the fact she didn't say a darn word about my performance, I notice Ms. Nancy still hasn't been introduced to the "spellcheck" feature of her computer, as evidenced in the quote above (Rosenstrausse? Are we protesting the illegal detention of flowery composers?), and in the fact that she entitled our last review "Bride Has Fun With Wedding Choas."
I couldn't resist snapping this on the Coralville Strip:

They must keep them in tiny little cages. . . but I bet feeding them is a b*tch.

Don from Tusk and Talon makes a modest proposal to give legislators a percentage of the savings if they reduce spending. I wonder if we could put them on a "commission only" basis?
This letter in the Daily Iowan chastizes us to give up meat or risk being labeled "anti-environment." Incidentally, I forgot to celebrate "Eat an Animal for PETA Day" this year.
James Lileks over at The Bleat does a bit of blogging on a trend I've noticed lately: commercials based entirely on the idea that Men are Stupid. I'll take that one farther: I have not noticed any new sitcom in the last 5 years or so that didn't have "men are idiots but ya gotta love 'em" as either the main theme or a running subtext.

Not that I want to turn in my feminist card here, but why aren't we demanding the same respect for men? I mean, there's a site going around on the net called "Throw Rocks at Boys." We'd have a fit about a "Throw Rocks at Girls" site and wonder why the entire gender isn't on Ritalin. I despise the hypocrisy of being rabidly vigilant regarding the tiniest slur on our own gender, yet turning a blind eye to blatant slams against the opposite sex.

That said, I personally would tell everyone to lighten up and allow all the "you are an idiot" jokes we can get, no matter what gender or persusion they parody, because I'm pro-humor. (Hey, maybe I can start a political action group?)

A new twist on the old "kissing bandit" story: the Daily Iowan reports that an uninvited male stripper is making the rounds of the dorms.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Dave Barry links to this study regarding shoe size and, um, you know. . .
Wide Eyed Insolence features the demotivators. I've had this marked in my favorites forever, why didn't I think of linking it? My favorite:

The NY Times (registration required - sorry) has this interesting piece entitled "No Politics are Local" that examines the increasing trend toward globalizing moral issues. Basically, as the world becomes a "global village" it becomes clearer and clearer that the new neighbors just ain't like us, and we don't like it. So citizens in the Midwest become concerned when a San Francisco mayor decides to issue gay marriage licenses, etc. Key quotes:

"Ever since the media theorist Marshall McLuhan announced that electronic interdependence was turning the world into a ''global village,'' we have put the stress on the adjective ''global.'' The wired world would bring a bigger choice of cuisines, we thought, but no increase in aggravation. Instead, the key term turns out to be the noun ''village.'' And villagers are notoriously bad at tolerating differences that bug them. . . We (stupidly) believed that McLuhan's global village would be a friction-free Brotherhood of Man. But McLuhan never said that. In his last television interview, in 1977, his interviewer began, 'I had some idea that as we got global and tribal we were going to try to --' McLuhan interrupted. 'The closer you get together, the more you like each other?' he said. 'There's no evidence of that in any situation that we've ever heard of. When people get close together, they get more and more savage, impatient with each other.'"

My own examples: Deaniacs from across the nation converging on Iowa to influence our caucuses. American politicians decrying Spanish election results as pandering to terrorist bombings. To take it bigger: Wealthy nations trying to impose their views of pollutants and child labor upon a developing third world that finds itself unable to compete commercially without taking the ecologically and humanely harmful shortcuts that got the wealthy nations where they were in the first place.


This puts things into an interesting perspective I'll have to mull over for a while. The same globalization that enables me to make maki rolls for the last cast party probably contributes to the perception many of us have that this country has never been so deeply divided politically. Conservatives and liberals appear to have utterly different views of reality. Is this because we are able to reach beyond local borders via weblogs and email and such to communicate directly with those who agree with us, instead of having to figure out a way to get along with "that nut next door" who doesn't?

I sat on the phone with my best friend Ellen, who canceled my vote in 2000 - or did I cancel hers? - and watched the elections. We were fascinated as the results wavered into the night and debated the whether there could be legal ramifications to the release of poll data at a point that could effect states that hadn't closed the booths. The legal debate went on over the next few weeks as we discussed the court cases and appeals on both sides. We're both lawyers, both the same age, and grew up in the same town, but we disagree on numerous issues. It's cool we can 'debate, not hate,' to sound like a really stupid bumper sticker.

The NY Times had a piece recently about the fact that 2 million people per year die of malaria in underdeveloped countries that are economically blackmailed into banning DDT. It's a pay-only link now, but the issue is also debated here, here and here. I think we can all understand that's an appalling number, and yet none of us wants to endanger the ecosystem. But can we negotiate a way to both save the people and save the birds, or will absolutist views simply battle to a stalemate?

I make it a point to try to sit down and have philosophical and political discussions with friends who vehemently disagree with my perpectives. We talk, and the respect we show for each other's viewpoints enables us to admit the weaknesses in our respective reasoning, and the good points made on both sides of the issue. At that "nursing-your-last-beer-for-an-hour-and-a-half" time of the morning people open up, drop the defenses, and we discover - wonder of wonders - common ground. We may appear radically divided, but I have confidence that we will get this all sorted out in time. . . . . .

If those insane radical nutjobs don't send the world to h*ll in a handbasket first.


The Press-Citizen's spotlighting the renegade ducks in Coralville's S.T. Morrison Park. The city is considering measures ranging from planting "unpalatable" grass to enacting a no-feed policy to discourage the ducks from returning after they round a bunch of them up for relocation. Discussing the no-feed possibilities, Parks and Rec Director Terry Trueblood said: "It's great fun for the kids, but I wonder how they cope with all this," he said, referring to the degraded landscape around the pond in S.T. Morrison Park."

I remember back in college, a friend who didn't know any better took a Pagliai's pizza down by the Iowa River to eat it. She ended up abandoning it to the hundreds of ducks that instantly swarmed her. I also remember taking a friend's five-year-old kid out to feed the ducks by the Union a few years ago. I had to stand very close to her to make sure the ducks didn't mug her and take the whole loaf. She quickly learned to throw the bread rather than try to hand it out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Geez. "Welcome home, Honey."
The Patron Saint of Mediocrity posted this wicked little drinking game based on an annoying ex co-worker's habits.

The idea opens up real possibilities. I've started working on one myself.

Okay, so I'm not really very nice today. . .


The word "tupperware" is mentioned. 1

Complains about needing money and/or hits you up for a loan. 1

One of them gives you whisker burns from a hug. 1

- And it's a female. 2

Goes straight to the buffet - and pulls up a chair. 1

Leaves the buffet for any reason except to use the restroom. 3

Winner of the "wierd searches that somehow lead people to my blog" award for last week:

"syllables in juggle"

For whoever thought it was necessary to search: the answer is two.
The Daily Iowan reviews Man of La Mancha. The opinion tallies with the rest of what I've heard. But it is nice to see local papers stepping up to the plate to cover local theatre productions (hint hint).


I've talked to a few more people, who indicate that the review is far too critical and this is one of the better musicals ICCT's done. Not having seen the show, and not being able to due to my involvement in Rosenstrasse and additional scheduling conflicts, I'll refrain from giving an opinion on the issue.
Now this is resourceful: A man stuck in a hospital notes his IV is all messed up. When unable to get a nurse to respond after numerous calls, he uses his cell to dial 911. After that, the hospital takes "good care of me." Have I said I love technology? Via Dave Barry.

Cedar Pundit posts a new quiz: What Video Game Character are You? I'd take it, but the home computer's down and the one at work appears to feel I should be using my lunch hour more productively. Anyone know a way around this thing?
By the way, kudos to the DI for it's diverse editorials on the war today - Cowboy Koizumi and Double Shot of Patriotism. When I attended years ago, the DI was at best one-sided. Editorials espousing opposing views were rarely seen and venemously criticized by all. Given the huge diversity of opinion on the Iraq situation and the growing chasm in allover world view between "conservatives" and "liberals" its good to see them both represented. Whichever view one holds, you need to read the opposition. Just in case they have a point or two.
The Chicago Tribune (registration required, sorry) reports State, County May Require Condoms in Adult Films. I understand the serious health ramifications from the recent announcements that two major stars apparently contracted AIDS and shut down the industry. But how are you going to enforce this? On-site inspections? The Untouchables-style raids? Prediction: If this goes through, we'll see litigation about whether condoms infringe on the right to freedom of expression and whether there are "less restrictive" alternatives available.

Monday, April 19, 2004

The Press-Citizen had another op-ed guest piece in favor of the rainforest the other day. Anyone keeping score on the pro/con pieces?

Some goodies:

"With a structure larger than the Biosphere 2 Center and a distinctly different architectural design, the Iowa Environmental/Education Project may be a terrestrial ecosystem research facility that can address global climate change research. It's likely that few in our community are aware of the scientific aspects of this project proposed to be built in Coralville."

Again with the digs at the supposedly uneducated masses that make up Johnson County residents. Are you people aware of the area's average education level? Do you really want to sound quite so patronizing?

"On the basis of the agency initiatives cited above, it seems reasonable for the project to seek to address some of these globally important issues. Clearly, project planning involves maximizing its design so that it will be research-capable. One possibility is to design a portion of the facility that could function as a DOE National Scientific User Facility. This means that the project cannot contain the same design flaws as found in the Biosphere 2 Center."

"Cannot?" Imprecise. How about: "had better not"?

"The Iowa Environmental/Education Project is pursuing computing systems that truly will be at the cutting edge of technology. Among them is high-bandwidth connections with the Iowa Communications Network ("

Oh, you mean this ICN Network? "Key legislative leaders say they'd like to get rid of the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) this session, but they can't reach agreement on how to do it. At a total cost of a couple hundred million dollars, it's become one of the biggest boodoggles ever fobbed on the Iowa taxpayer."

Meanwhile, 18 days until I leave for Isla Mujeres. Gretchen offered to pick up the tab for airfare with her miles, so all I've got to pay is the $45 per night in room fees. For many, many reasons I sooo need this. I'd put exclamation points after that last sentence, but they won't give me enough bandwidth for all of them.

I'm gonna get me a tan and a new bikini or two, then hit the beach and do some serious contemplating on the direction I want my life to take - over a few margaritas, of course. Wisdom shall be mine.

However, I will be staying far, far away from any of the "numerous female idols honoring the Mayan Goddess of Fertility, Ixchel."

Does anyone know if there's some kind of medication you can take before you go so the water won't make you so sick? I don't mind drinking bottled water, but if I can't get fresh fruit and veggies I'm going to a) gain weight, and b) be seriously annoyed. I do intend to steer clear from dirty food and wash everything, but if the water you're washing it in isn't clean. . . argh.
The Iowa Channel posts this article: Doctors Don't Always Tell Obese Patients to Drop Pounds. The premise?

". . . 40 percent of doctors told their obese patients to lose weight in 2000, down about 3 percent from 1994. The government also says patients who were advised to lose weight were nearly three times more likely to drop the excess pounds than those who weren't given such advice."

C'mon, it's not like they're telling you anything you don't already know. Does it really take a brain surgeon to tell you should lose weight? Guess so.
This piece from Overlawyered speaks for itself:

"The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma filed a claim Wednesday for 27 million acres given to the tribes in a 19th century treaty but said they would settle for 500 acres to build a casino in a symbolic return to Colorado."
According to the kids in Ames, the VEISHEA celebration is "the largest student-run, alcohol-free celebration of entertainment and education in the nation and second largest in the world." From that description, you'd think they were holding seminars and concerts, not engaging in this behavior:

"Early Sunday morning, Ames and Iowa State police say a crowd of about 1,000 people smashed store windows, pulled down light poles and flipped over cars. Police in riot gear used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd. It took about five hours to get the crowds under control. More than 30 people were arrested on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to assaulting a police officer. About 20 people were hospitalized with skin and eye irritation. Damage estimates from the riots are still being assessed. Police say three of their vehicles are damaged, as well as several belonging to the Story County Sheriff's Office. Monday, dozens of businesses along Welch Avenue and Lincoln Way were cleaning up the broken glass, downed light poles and scattered trash."

At least UI students generally limit their property damage to public urination. Can't the Ames crowd figure out how to get drunk without burning stuff? Oh, I'm sorry, according to their public relations department these people were "alcohol-free." Things that make you go hmmm.

Cedar Pundit has more coverage. He also indicates that Cedar Brewing Company now has free WiFi connections - and I see they've also got NTN trivia, and of course beer. What a combo. Could you guys consider opening a franchise in Iowa City? And serving food until midnight for all us poor theater rats who need to eat after a performance? Just a wish. . .
I'm baaaack. The home computer's hard drive is completely gone - some mechanical error that renders the data unrecoverable absent sending it to one of those experts for about $700. My stuff's not worth that much. So for now, no home blogging or email.

Rosenstrasse's opening weekend was incredible, all in all. We managed to turn in good performances both nights despite technical glitches. They do make the show interesting: Does the squeak in the platform means it's about to collapse beneath us? Will we be able to break into the building again if we get locked out? Will any of the actors will actually pass out from heat exhaustion from wearing wool coats, hats, scarves, mittens, etc. in 80+ degree weather with no airconditioning? Tune in next week to find out.

We also could be getting reviewed in the QC Times - at least they still cover Iowa City theater productions, unlike the Press-Citizen. Why they bother given the distance is something I don't understand - but thanks! Anyway, they were present for Saturday night's performance (and all the above-mentioned technical glitches except actually passing out). We'll see how we did, if we don't get bumped by something else. The Daily Iowan gave us a small article on Friday, which was quite nice.


I open my compuserve email this morning and get this message failure instead of the usual automatic notice for this post:

"The URL contained in your email to AOL members has generated a high volume of complaints. Per our Unsolicited Bulk Email policies, AOL will no longer accept email with the URL contained in your message."

Huh? Which URL? Mine? The DI? Or the QC Times? What's up with the big brother schtick?? I know AOL is notorious for blockage, but sheez.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I'll be doing little blogging today - took the day off and my home computer is toast. Opening night for Rosenstrasse tonight!!!! Not nervous yet, but I will be.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


After checking today's paper, I found no article on any of the three local productions opening this weekend, despite the rather condescending email I received from the P-C folks excerpted and fisked here. There was a couple of sentences in the calendar, but no quotes, no articles, and no reviews of any nature.

I've sent the following email back to the PC. We'll see if I get any better response this time around:

April 15, 2004



Dear Mr. Lewers and Ms. DeWall:

Based on Ms. DeWall’s response to my email, I reserved my opinion regarding the revised GO section until I reviewed today’s paper. I did so with hesitation, as the information regarding the discontinuing of articles on local theater productions was not simply a rumor, as Ms. DeWall seemed to suggest, but had been received directly from Press-Citizen staff by personal friend.

After reviewing the changes, I must say today’s coverage lived down to my original expectations. Three major local theatre productions open this weekend, and not one of the three ranks an article? Yet there seems to be sufficient space for a two-page spread on “Hook Me Up.”

Are you aware that this weekend Dreamwell Theatre is premiering Rosenstra├če, a powerful piece about the only successful non-violent protest against the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, which was conducted by a small group of unarmed women? What an apt choice for coverage, considering this is National Holocaust Remembrance Week.

Obviously you must have received something on Man of La Mancha from Iowa City Community Theatre, considering you ran the small photo of that production. Couldn’t you have spared a word or two to inform patrons about the considerable talents of Jason Tipsword, the choreographer? I saw you mentioned Jonathon Thull, but said little about his talents beyond his position at Cornell College.

I also note the Old Creamery Theatre production of Social Security is given barely a line, with no information regarding actors whatsoever.

I did scan the “Life” section, Ms. DeWall, as it appeared from your response yesterday that I might find theater articles there. Not a word. As I said in my original email, so much for the “Athens of the Midwest.”

I have copied my acquaintances on this email, to request they stop subscribing to the Press-Citizen until the situation is rectified. To my acquaintances: please forward this email to everyone you know and ask them to do the same, if you care about local theater coverage.

Mr. Lewers and Ms. DeWall, I hope you reconsider your position on this matter.

The Daily Iowan had this article on the fake rainforest in Coralville yesterday. Key quotes:

"We've already voiced our disagreement with the whole rain-forest proposal, and we concur with this latest assessment of the idea. Perhaps now that an organization beyond the state level is also crying foul over this, more taxpayers will begin to show interest. The nation is facing a $7.1 trillion debt that will not be overcome by spending more money in places where it need not be spent. The Iowa Child Project stands head and shoulders above all the other pork projects in its category of energy and water spending; the next highest amount of money allocated to any initiative of this kind is a mere $16 million. And the $50 million already devoted to the indoor rain forest will cover less than one-fourth the total cost - driving the nation further into debt to fund merely one-fourth of a rain forest in Iowa just doesn't make any sense. . . we consider that the success of this idea is far from guaranteed and that, quite frankly, a rain forest does not belong in the middle of Iowa. We trust that publications and watchdog groups such as this one will reveal the truth of this ongoing controversy."

So much for this article in the Des Moines Register asserting the fake rainforest had broad support in the under-34 crowd.
Saw this in the Onion:

Interesting FYI : I was just browsing the web to determine what I wanted to blog on today and the computer suddenly blue-screened - but it didn't look right. Reading the error message, it was supposedly a message from Internet Explorer that a virus was detected and did I want to scan. It was the trickiest pop up I'd seen in a long time, because it filled the whole screen just like an actual blue screen error. This is truly getting annoying.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

John Carlson of the Des Moines Register has this op/ed piece about the lack of media attention paid to democratic Senator Dodd's praise of Senator Robert Byrd - "'Robert C. Byrd in my view . . . would have been right at anytime. You would have been right at the founding of this country. You would have been in the leadership of crafting this Constitution. You would have been right during the great conflict of Civil War in this nation.'"

It is noteworthy because it echos the Trent Lott praise of Strom Thurmond a few years ago. As the article points out about Byrd: "The 86-year-old senior member of the Senate was in the Ku Klux Klan back in the 1940s - a "kleagle," in fact, which means he held a position of authority in that bunch of racist kooks. Then he was elected to the Senate, where he got a chance to do some real damage. Such as in 1964, when he filibustered in a futile effort to kill the Civil Rights Act."

Carlson asks why there was so much hubub over Lott's praise of Strom Thurmond, yet dead silence when Byrd is praised by Dodd: " One might think the invisibility of the Dodd story was an oversight, something that just happened to slip past newspapers and television networks. Or that Lott was his party's leader in the Senate when he fouled up and Dodd is a nobody, making his remarks unworthy of coverage. Or that there's a double standard here, that Democrats get off while Republicans get the media shiv deep in the gut. The only clinker is that irritating bunch at Fox, who ran a tape of Dodd on the Senate floor, gushing to a smiling, nodding Byrd. Liberals gripe that Fox - America's most popular cable-news outlet - is the chief mouthpiece of the right-wing conspiracy. They make fun of Fox's "fair and balanced" motto and its anchors who say, "We report, you decide." On the Dodd story, the people who run America's media outlets decided to not report. You didn't have the chance to decide."

Of course, the media may have been silent, but the blogosphere has been buzzing with the story for days now. I haven't blogged on it, but here's just some of what I've read:


Junkyard Blog

Andrew Sullivan

Matthew Yglesias

Rooftop Report

Outside the Beltway


Crow Blog

Insults Unpunished

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Thank you for joining us Mr. Carlson. Let us know when the rest of the journalists wake up, will you? We'd hate to disturb their naps.

Overlawyered features an Iowa "stella award" candidate:

According to the Creston News Advertiser Vernon Fick was a senior sergeant for the Cherokee police department. In August of 2003 budget cuts forced the city to eliminate his position. He's now suing:

"A federal lawsuit claims the actions of officials in the northwestern Iowa town of Cherokee forced the fired police officer to join the Army and risk his life in Iraq. . . Fick, who was fired last year, claims he couldn't get a job anywhere else and was forced to join the military, which sent him to Iraq, according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Sioux City. . . The lawsuit said the Army became his only "employment alternative" because the city falsely told other potential employers in the area that he had committed misconduct. That's why he deserves damages for ending up in a war zone, Fick's attorney, Stephen Avery of Spencer, said Thursday. "It would be stressful to you and it would be stressful to me to be in Iraq right now," he said. . .The lawsuit, which names the city, Police Chief Steve Schuck and Mayor Dennis Henrich as defendants, also seeks compensation for lost benefits and wages."

Meanwhile, Cedar Pundit picks up the story about the Press-Citizen not include articles about local theater in the Go section anymore.

I first received notice of this from the assistant director for Rosenstrasse, the Dreamwell play opening this weekend that I happen to have a role in. (So have I plugged this enough already?).

He received a call from the Press-Citizen, who indicated that they wouldn't be including articles about local theater in the Go section anymore. Instead, they would be relegated to a blurb on the Calendar. I emailed the PC and got an interesting response. Key quotes:

"No, we are not discontinuing our coverage of local arts. . . I would encourage you to take a look at the new GO in Thursday’s paper I think you will find that the section is filled with local arts coverage. . . I have received several e-mails this afternoon from theater folks saying they’ve heard we are discontinuing coverage of local theater. That is simply not true. I would also point out that GO is not the only avenue through which we provide coverage of local arts and events—we have a Life page five days a week."

First, note how this email makes it sound like the decision to discontinue this coverage was some unfounded rumor that popped up out of nowhere, rather than a telephone call from the PC themselves. I find that rather rude and condescending, to say the least. Pat the theater chick on the head and send her away with a clever reassurance. Nice try.

Second, note the careful wording. "Local arts" are going to be featured in the Go section, but no specific mention of theater. Instead, I am reminded that there is a Life section five days a week. Fine and dandy, but you didn't call us to say you'd decided to move the coverage from the Go section to the Life section. You said you were discontinuing the articles.

Ms. DeWall, if you have received sufficient emails to decide you wish to cover your ass by moving the coverage rather than discontinuing it, we'll allow it to slide. I'll check out your Thursday paper to see if you cover the opening of Rosenstrasse by Dreamwell, which happens to coincide with National Holocaust Rememberance Week so it should make a rather newsworthy story. Or perhaps you'll cover the opening of Man of La Mancha at Iowa City Community Theater, also expected to be an excellent show. If not, don't expect any of us to go away quietly.

The latest rulings from the Iowa Appellate Court have been posted here today.

This ruling in State v. Moorman is interesting when juxtaposed with the prior ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court in State v. Morris.

The facts in State v. Moorman:

"The charges stem from the theft of a 1999 Chrysler Sebring belonging to Gloria Bowker. Just after midnight, James Cook, Gloria’s son, borrowed the car to go to a convenience store. At the store, Cook left the car running with the keys in the ignition while he shopped. Exiting the store he found the car was gone. He called his parents and reported the car as stolen. Later that morning, sheriff’s deputies on patrol saw a Chrysler Sebring approach them and, on checking the car’s license number, they discovered it was stolen. The deputies turned their vehicle around and followed the car. They saw the defendant stop the car at a convenience store, get out of the car, and enter the store. One deputy approached the defendant in the store and asked him to step outside. When the defendant asked why, the deputy said the car the defendant had been driving was stolen. The defendant denied having driven the car."

The ruling: "The court instructed the jury the State had to prove the defendant knew the automobile had been stolen. A jury may infer a defendant’s knowledge property is stolen from evidence of a defendant’s unexplained possession of recently stolen property. State v. Everett, 157 N.W.2d 144, 146 (Iowa 1968); Stephen, 537 N.W.2d at 794. We conclude the defendant cannot establish the prejudice prong of his claim counsel was ineffective. Given the evidence presented by the State, the jury reasonably could find the defendant knew the automobile was stolen."

The facts of the Morris case:

"On October 6, 2001, at 4:30 a.m., Brian Gonzales started the engine on his truck parked on the street in front of his home. He intended to let it warm up before driving to work. Gonzales reentered his home leaving the engine running. Shortly thereafter, he heard a “revving” of the truck’s engine, looked outside, and saw someone driving his truck away. Gonzales called Waterloo police and reported the taking of the vehicle. Officer Aaron McClelland arrived at the scene and took the necessary information from Gonzales, including a description of the truck. The officer then put out an “attempt to locate” call to Waterloo patrol officers for the location of a brown Ford Ranger pickup truck. Approximately thirty minutes later, McClelland came upon the missing truck about five miles from Gonzales’s residence. The truck was being driven in the opposite direction from that of the officer’s vehicle. McClelland turned his police vehicle around and gave pursuit. The person driving Gonzales’s truck stopped the vehicle, got out, and fled on foot toward nearby houses. Officer McClelland radioed for backup and a K-9 unit responded. One of the dogs alerted police to the presence of a person hiding on a porch of a house. McClelland identified this person as the man who had fled from the truck. That person was ultimately determined to be defendant, Willis Elbert Morris."

The Ruling:

"Although apprehension of the suspect within a short time of the taking of the vehicle does not defeat the possibility that there was an intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property at the time of the taking, it is a circumstance that severely limits the circumstantial evidence from which that intent can be inferred. The State urges that the circumstances under which the defendant abandoned the vehicle, i.e., stopping it and running away, are indicative of the requisite intent. We disagree. Abandoning the vehicle and fleeing upon observing the presence of police was an act that would ordinarily assure that the truck would be returned to its owner. We affirm the decision of the court of appeals holding that the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction for second-degree theft."

See my earlier postings here and here, and the Tusk and Talon posting here)

Would the defendant in Moorman have done better to ditch the car and run like the Morris defendant? On the surface, it looks like enough to make your head spin, but the difference is in the code section charged. Theft is defined in the Iowa Code in Section 714.1. Degrees of theft are then outlined based on the value of the goods and services taken.

The code section charged in Moorman was 714.1(4):

4. Exercises control over stolen property, knowing such property to have been stolen, or having reasonable cause to believe that such property has been stolen, unless the person's purpose is to promptly restore it to the owner or to deliver it to an appropriate public officer. The fact that the person is found in possession of property which has been stolen from two or more persons on separate occasions, or that the person is a dealer or other person familiar with the value of such property and has acquired it for a consideration which is far below its reasonable value, shall be evidence from which the court or jury may infer that the person knew or believed that the property had been stolen.

The section charged in Morris was 714.1(1):

1. Takes possession or control of the property of another, or property in the possession of another, with the intent to deprive the other thereof. "

I still disagree with the ruling in Morris because I believe there was sufficient evidence for the jury as the finder of fact in our legal system to infer an intent to permanently deprive the owner of the car. But this is a lesson to the prosecutor that I learned rather early on myself: Always charge as many code sections as fit. You can always drop one out or refine it later.