Thursday, March 31, 2005

More Nephew Blogging

Three year old Daniel (see photo from yesterday, below) is now convinced I'm a total idiot. I stopped in to see the boys yesterday, and he immediately ropes me into watching him play his new video game. ("You want to watch me play Spyro. All by myself. You want to watch me play all day. Right?")

This is an elaborate ritual, where he tells me how to dress ("You have to take your shoes off now."), where to sit ("No, sit here, by me"), and when to watch. He puts in the disc, informing me "this one takes a while" to load. Technical advice in a three-year-old's lisp is very difficult to take with a straight face.

So he starts to play. I try to appear suitably impressed as he maneuvers the animated dragon around the screen, scorching sheep which then inexplicably turn into butterflies and/or jewels. He gets up to the nasty looking armored thug-type guy then suddenly puts down the controls. "You do it," he says.


The kid set me up. I've got to admit here that I haven't played a video game since Mortal Kombat. The first one. I mean, hey, when I've got a free night there are always half a dozen movies I've been meaning to see, or something less fun like bills to pay. So I'm utterly out of practice.

I pick up the pad and flick a few buttons experimentally. My second try, I get the dragon to breathe a little fire. Then fall off the platform thingy he's standing on. Fortunately, the dragon flies. "No! Don't do that!" Daniel yells. Ooookaaay. So I manage to jump the dragon back up to face the bad guy, and I ask what move would work best. Daniel doesn't appear to know. He just says something nonspecific about "getting" him in a very authoritative voice, as if he's giving me step-by-step instructions or something. I run the dragon toward the bad guy, trying to knock him off the edge, breathe fire, whatever. I nearly get smashed by a mace, but I manage to duck. I look over at Daniel. The kid's got his hands over his eyes and seems to by trying to bury his head into the pillow. I reassure him that the dragon's okay, I didn't kill Spyro. I offer to try again. He yanks the control away and sets it down, announcing he's going to go get his dad.

At the door, he pauses and looks at me suspiciously. "Don't touch the buttons," he says. "I am playing it myself."

Legal Blogging

The new Iowa Court of Appeals decisions are up.

STATE V. HENDRICKS caught my eye for sheer audacity. The defendant appealed his conviction for failure to register as a sex offender. His grounds are rather unique: Iowa Code § 692A.2(4) indicates that “A person is not required to register while incarcerated, in foster care, or in a residential treatment program." Because the defendant hadn't been released from the Waterloo Residential Facility, but had rather just walked out and failed to return ("voluntarily absent" is the technical term), he was still "in" the program and therefore not required to register. The Court disagreed:
" In essence, Hendrick’s argument would require all covered persons released from prison or another correctional facility to register as sex offenders but would exempt from registration all covered persons who escaped or were voluntarily absent. Not only is this argument foreclosed by the plain language of chapter 692A, it (1) “strains logic,” in the words of the district court, and (2) is contrary to the evident public policy underlying chapter 692A."


STATE V. DEVERS is a challenge to a conviction based on the Court's ruling prior sexual conduct by the victim was inadmissible under the Rape Shield Law.

Facts: S.A. sneaked into her boyfriend, H.D.'s house through a basement window. They had sex. S.A. thought she left around 4:30, H.D. said it was around 1:00. Several hours after leaving H.D.’s home S.A. came into contact with the defendant, Devers, who offered her a ride. She fell asleep in Devers’s car and when she awoke they were at the Super 7 Motel in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Devers obtained a key to room 243 and the two went up to the room together and smoked marijuana. When she wanted to leave Devers “jumped on” her like he was “attacking her,” “like a football player making a tackle.” She struggled with Devers, who cut her on the right side of her face from cheekbone to jawbone. Devers forced his fingers into her vagina, telling her: “Shut up, bitch. I’m going to kill you. Be good.” Devers then forced his fingers into S.A.’s mouth and she bit him hard enough to cause a wound. In addition to her deep facial wound S.A. sustained several other injuries, including injuries to her forehead, inner thigh, knees, ankles and hand. Eventually she escaped the room and attracted the attention of Ed Van Severen, the motel maintenance man, with her screaming. Van Severen had seen Devers and S.A. pull into the motel in Devers’s car. The female he heard screaming was saying “rapist” and “I’m not going nowhere with you.” As Van Severen found the source of the screaming and was heading toward S.A., he saw Devers drive away past him in the same car Devers had arrived in. When Van Severen noticed that S.A.’s face was dripping blood he went into room 236 and called 911 for help. S.A. followed him into the room and told Van Severen that she wanted to go home and that Devers had cut her.

Issue: The defendant wanted to admit testimony S.A. had sex with H.D. because he wanted to allege that it was a possible alternative source for the bruising found on S.A.'s inner thigh, and he wanted to use the time discrepency issue to impinge on her credibility.

Ruling: "For the reasons that follow we agree with the trial court. First, there is no evidence in the record that H.D. and S.A.’s sexual activity was rough, resisted, anything other than consensual, or that any injury resulted from such activity. Second, the medical evidence in the record suggests the injuries to S.A.’s inner thigh were no more than six to eight hours old when she was examined after the assault, while her encounter with H.D. had taken place at least twelve hours prior to the alleged assault and even more time had elapsed before the injuries were treated by medical professionals. Finally, S.A. had numerous other injuries which Devers did not claim to have been caused by H.D. They included, but were not limited to, the large cut on her face upon which the State relied as the “serious injury” to charge Devers with first-degree sexual abuse. Thus, whether the injury to her inner thigh was caused by H.D. or Devers had very little relevance to any material fact at issue at trial."

Obligatory blog commentary: Yep, if you could just have explained away the bruise on the thigh, you might've gotten away. Never mind the big honking cut on her cheek. I'm sure the jury won't notice a little thing like that.


STATE V. CROMER involves a rape by lack of consent due to intoxication. The issue is whether the State had to prove the defendant was aware how intoxicated the victim was, and whether the defendant's own intoxication can be used as a defense to negate that knowledge.

Facts: The victim "consumed copious amounts of alcohol" at her cousin's wedding, and ended up talking to the defendant and his friend at a bar. Both men were also rather blasted. They offered her a ride home, she accepted. Somewhere along the line, she passes out. According to the record, "Schubick’s next memory is waking up naked on a motel bed between Cromer and Schulthies. At trial both Schubick and her mother testified as to the number of small bruises she had on her body, the lump on her forehead, and her bruised jaw." The State’s alleged that the two men had dragged her into the hotel room, disrobed her, and then preformed various sexual acts on her, as she remained “passed out”. This was corroborated by a jailhouse snitch. The defendant claimed that Schubick, "while admittedly very drunk, was nonetheless a willing participant."

Issue: Iowa Code section 709.4(1) provides a person commits sexual abuse in the third degree when they perform a sex act ”by force or against the will of the other person,” and Iowa Code section 709.4(4), provides a person commits sexual abuse in the third degree when they perform a sex act and “the act is performed while the other person is mentally incapacitated, physically incapacitated, or physically helpless.” The jury instructions on these points included these statements:
Jury Instruction 19 - The State must prove all of the following elements of Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree under Count II: 1. On or about the 29th day of March 2003, the defendant performed a sex act with Nicole Schubick. 2. The sex act was performed while Nicole Schubick was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. Jury instruction 20 - As used in Instruction No. 19, “Mentally Incapacitated” means that a person is temporarily incapable of controlling the person’s own conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicating substance.

The defendant alleged these instructions were unconstitutional because they required no proof that the defendant was aware she was mentally incapacitated due to alcohol. The district court agreed.

Ruling: The Court of Appeals found sex abuse in the third degree by mental incapacity a strict liability crime, analogizing it to the statutory rape prohibition in the Iowa Code. It also found that
even if knowledge was required, the evidence was more than sufficient:
The fact Cromer is subject to criminal sanctions because he incorrectly assessed Schubick’s mental capacity does not render the statute unconstitutional. Id. Furthermore, Iowa Code section 709.4(4) does not require knowledge of the other person’s mental incapacitation. Compare Iowa Code § 709.4(4) with Iowa Code § 709.4(3) (requiring that a person who performs an act while the other person is under the influence of a controlled substance know or reasonably should know that the other person is under the influence of a controlled substance); see also State v. Bauer, 324 N.W.2d 320, 322 (Iowa 1982) (holding a defendant's subjective awareness of a sexual abuse victim's lack of consent is not an element of third-degree sexual abuse). Therefore, the statute did not violate Cromer’s due process rights and the jury was properly instructed on all the statutory elements.

Moreover, Cromer’s own intoxication and the result it may have had on his ability to determine Schubick’s mental capacity does not change this conclusion. Sex abuse in violation of Iowa Code section 709.4(4) is a general intent crime. See State v. Christensen, 414 N.W.2d 843, 845-46 (Iowa Ct. App. 1987). Therefore, as Cromer’s attorney acknowledged during the hearing on his motion for new trial, “one of the problems that [Cromer] had was, of course, that his intoxication is not a defense in this case.” See State v. Artzer, 609 N.W.2d 526, 531 (Iowa 2000) (stating that defenses of intoxication and diminished capacity are not available on a general intent crime because these defenses negate only the specific intent element of a crime).

The standard imposed by Iowa Code section 709.4(4) is clear: to avoid the proscribed conduct Cromer should have refrained from performing a sex act with a person who is mentally incapacitated as that term is defined in Iowa Code section 709.1A(1). If he did engage in such conduct, his lack of knowledge of Schubick’s mental incapacitation caused by his intoxication is no defense. SeeState v. Tague, 310 N.W.2d 209, 211 (Iowa 1981) (indicating that “statutes regarding sex offenses are common examples of employment of strict liability intended to protect the public welfare"). Moreover, even if Cromer’s subjective knowledge of Schubick’s mental incapacity was required by due process, the weight of the evidence supports a jury conclusion that Cromer knew of Schubick’s mental incapacitation, as evidence indicated she was dragged into the hotel room and was unconscious throughout the entire incident. Consequently we conclude the district court erred in determining the jury instructions violated Cromer’s due process rights. We reverse the ruling on the motion for new trial and remand for entry of a judgment of conviction.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Nephew Blogging

'Cause they're cute.

Hmm . . . .

Missouri is the #1 most sexually adventerous state in the US, beating out even California at #2. I can think of so many ways to take this . . . tasteless jokes welcome in the comments.

Hat tip: Jen at One of Us.

Blawg Review

Here's a new twist to legal blogging I saw on Notes from the (Legal) Underground: The Blawg Review. A roundup of the best blawging articles hosted weekly a la Carnival of the Vanities. A more timely, responsive alternative to the law reviews? Cool.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dysfunctional Jeopardy:

The Personality Disorder Game.
If you need to brush up on your dysfunctionality, check out the DSM IV Diagnostic Criteria first (links to Cluster A, B, and C disorders near the bottom of the page).
Then you can check your own quirks against the Personality Disorder Test.

Questions on the Gage Murder

I understand from the article in today's Register that Trena Gage is claiming she didn't know Roger Bentley was a sex offender. But presuming that's true: 1) Wouldn't it be common sense to limit contact with the family anyway, considering both Trena and Jetseta were scheduled to testify against James Bentley and potentially put him in prison? 2) Where was DHS and couldn't they insist on limiting the contact if Trena wouldn't? They had the information on Roger Bentley. They should have been involved based on the molestation by James Bentley. Was there not sufficient basis for a CHiNA removal here? Dweeze has the same questions, as does Not the Moonbat. >

Monday, March 28, 2005

More Futile Underwear Humor by the MSM

In separate posts, State 29 and Roth & Co. each point out this editorial showing that Ken Fuson of the Des Moines Register has not a clue what the blogosphere is or is about:
"But that's not the big news. Blogs are.

Perhaps you have not heard of blogs. The name derives from a combination of "blather" and "logorrhea."

One of the unexpected benefits of the Internet, other than the ability to look really busy at work while filling out your NCAA tournament brackets, is that people can design their own personal Web sites and then report and comment on the big issues of the day as often as they want. These are called blogs.

This has proved to be a boon to people who apparently are (A) unemployed, (B) independently wealthy, or (C) no longer content to wait on hold to get their daily fix of attention from a radio talk-show host.

Let's put it another way: You know those people who like to write letters to the editor? A blog allows them to write letters all day long, on any subject they choose, without worrying about having the profanity removed or having any of their lunatic rants checked for accuracy.

Write all you want? No editors? More profane than a David Mamet character? We reporters have a word for this: E-mail. No, wait: Heaven."

Okay, enough is enough, Mr. Fuson. Pajama (or in your case, underwear) jokes aside, are you being deliberately obtuse or simply lacking the fundamentals in research for your column. Setting aside the big-name bloggers - like Professor Glenn Reynolds, Professor Volokh and his fellow-professor co-conspirators, professional journalist Matthew Yglesias, nobel prizewinner Gary Becker and Judge Richard Posner - just forgetting about the vast list of pro-blogs, and dealing on the local level. Who's sitting "at home in our underwear" according to you? Law professors. Attorneys. Accountants. Just to name a few.

I find it hilarious, the way you and the rest of the MSM will use examples of lunatic fringe bloggers and try to color the entire medium with the same brush, because after all a blogger is a blogger is a blogger. And you don't want to associate with those people, now do you?

Ever hear of the National Enquirer, the Star? Should we equate your Register with the "the devil lives in my microwave" gossip rag, simply because the means by which the message is delivered is similar? After all, a paper is a paper is a paper.

But of course, it's easier to just whip out a column laced with smug underwear references than it is to actually do a little research on the subject, isn't it?

All in all, I think I agree with your premise that "In the entire country, there are about six reporters who actually interview people and write stories that reveal new information."

And obviously you aren't one of them.

(Speaking of gossip, for an interesting little tidbit about Mr. Fuson's return to the Register after leaving in a snit back in 1996, go here. Don't worry, it's the American Journalism Review. Not exactly the National Enquirer.)


A blogosphere engagement!! Sarah has all the details on the proposal and the ring. Adorable couple! Frank blogs on it too, but without all the juicy details.

For those who want a less strenuous workout:

World Beard Championships. Greenman - if you can get Theresa to let you keep the odd Hedda facial hair, you could enter.

Know Thine Enemy (Not)

Daily Kos has a post up about a Fox News Blocker. I don't have a problem with the fact it's being made and people are using it, that's their perogative. But I would pose the same questions to those people that I pose to religious conservatives who advocate never listening or talking to people of other religions: 1) Doesn't that show an inherent lack of faith in your own viewpoint? That you don't think it will stand up to scrutiny? 2) Don't you want to know what the other side is saying/doing so you are prepared to answer it? It could be insidiously clever and if you don't get original source material, you'll look like an idiot trying to rebut it. 3) Isn't it rather ignorant to never listen to anyone who doesn't agree with you? What if, on some minor point, you've misinterpreted something and you're actually wrong?

How Far Can You Go

using fake signatures for credit card receipts? Pretty d*mn far, apparently.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Question to Ponder

For those not thoroughly sick of the Terri Schiavo debate, particularly those who agree (as I do) that she would not want to be kept alive at this point in her life. NOTE: I am sick of the debate myself, as it seems many peopole on the two sides are becoming more diametrically entrenched and simply clubbing each other over the head with simplistic labels, and I don't foresee that stopping until she's dead. But that doesn't stop me from trying. So, this morning I saw this:
"The courts not only are refusing her tube feeding, but have ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. "This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, it has ordered her to be made dead," Nader and Smith assert."

Given the source, I'm not vouching for the veracity. I've also heard conflicting sources about whether or not she can swallow simple liquids and liquid food. It would obviously dangerous for anyone other than medical personnel to even attempt such a procedure, and could in and of itself kill her. But assuming for a moment the release is accurate, does it change the analysis sufficiently to shift the essence of the order from "let her die" to "kill her"? If not, could we use the same analysis to advocate starving all basically brain dead individuals who did not require medical treatment (yep, the infamous slippery slope)? What if they'd said earlier that they would not want to live if they were mentally dead? Are we basically advocating euthanizing them?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Updated Updated - Amber Alert Cancelled

It appears the body of Jetseta Marrie Gage has been found.

Please say a prayer for her family, if you're so inclined.

How Do You Spell That?

IDOT starts an intensive study on whether the I-80/380 interchange could use improvement. Next year, they'll carefully examine the sun to see if it really rises in the east.

Stupid Internet Quiz

You Are A Realistic Romantic
You are more romantic than 60% of the population.
It's easy for you to get swept away by romance...
But you've done a pretty good job keeping perspective.
You're still taken in by love poems and sunsets
You just don't fall for every dreamy pick up line

From Dave Barry


The guy with two . . . um. . . you know. It's worksafe, no photos (thank God).

And the Ebay Song.

And You thought Grisham Just Made this Crap Up

In the testimony that followed a Feb. 22 mistrial motion by Ford against a $31 million verdict against the automaker from Zavala County, Texas, it was revealed that not only had a juror, Diana Palacios, "failed to acknowledge her romantic entanglement [with plaintiff's attorney Jesse Gamez] during jury selection, but had previously been a client of Gamez in other litigation, had been an aunt by marriage of one of the plaintiffs and indeed had solicited the plaintiffs to sue Ford and Guerrero and hire Gamez as their lawyer...."

Did I Suggest Performing

Gilbert and Sullivan?

via the Slithery D.

A Good Idea

or cruel, evil plot? You be the judge.


This website's been innundated with people googling for Terri Schiavo jokes. Yes, there's black humor out there. But if there is a list, don't you think everyone is finding the same d*mn joke?

But I'd really like to know who did this search a few days ago:


Come on. You can admit it to me.

If I Had More Time

I'd try this, too. Not as socially redeeming as forcing junk mailers to cough up money. But fun.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

You Can Relax Now

A number puzzle originating in the work of self-taught maths genius Srinivasa Ramanujan nearly a century ago has been solved by a grad student in Wisconsin.

Glorious Nonsense

tackles the scandal of Peeps research, citing both pro- and anti-peepsectionist sites.

OMG Part Deux

Greenman points out these children's book spoofs:

Gallery of Children's Literature Vol I

Gallery of Children's Literature Vol II

Some of these are as good as the romance novel ones from yesterday.

Sentencing Senselessness

The Register's got a good article up on the type of stupid enhancement laws that make absolutely no sense other than to clog up the justice system, yet all the politicians want to prove their tough on crime. My favorite quote:
"It would authorize judges to add five years to sentences of persons convicted of manufacturing or selling illegal drugs within 1,000 feet of religious institutions.

This conjures up an image of drug dealers consulting a map to figure out where to do business . . . Perhaps sophisticated dealers will have to resort to hand-held global-positioning devices . . . But why churches? It seems unlikely those who frequent religious institutions are especially vulnerable to the lure of illegal drugs. . . ."

Or are they?


I think I've met this guy. Or 10,000 of his twin brothers. Via Law, Life and Libido.

Help Him Out

Salieri's choosing a law school. Lawyer- and law-student-type opinions appreciated, I'm sure.

Free Legal News

Instapundit notes the Virginia Law Review is now free online. I received a slick little ad from Westlaw in my mail yesterday, advertising that they now carry the NY Times. Yee haw. I had to giggle.

Mmmmm. . . . pork

Centinal's got a post up on federal spending, which passingly mentions the proposed fake rainforest in Coralville, Iowa:
Among recent year's gems:
- $50 million for an indoor rain forest in Iowa
- $102 million to study screwworms which were long ago eradicated from American soil
- $273,000 to combat goth culture in Missouri
- $2.2 million to renovate the North Pole (Lucky for Santa!)
- $50,000 for a tattoo removal program in California
- $1 million for ornamental fish research

I for one am impressed by the federal government's foresight in address the invading Goth hordes. The Western Roman Empire ignored the Goths and now the Romans are forced to drive Vespas on cobblestone streets, which has got to really smart.

Meanwhile, I hope you caught 29's postings on the latest pro-fake-rainforest editorial in the Press-Citizen on both his site and the Iowa Porkforest:
Here's something even funnier that I don't buy:
I had thought it ludicrous that Congress and the Department of Energy would pork barrel $50 million for a rain forest.
That was January 22, 2004 when the $50 million was announced.

By May 21, 2004, Sandra L. Wilson was already part of a 26-member committee.

I find it interesting she says her epiphany came during the public forum held on March 22, 2004. Anybody know when she first put in to become a committee member? Also notable: Clara Oleson's letter pointing out that a public debate might like to have two sides.

Check out Professor Johnson's site for a summary of all the questions the forum didn't answer.

Thoughts on Academic Freedom

Posted on Daily Kos. There's a balance to be had between not curtailing free thought and exploration of even offensive ideas, and allowing the students the same freedom to explore meritorious ideas without ramifications. I think it comes close to striking it:
"We should not say that academic freedom means that there is no review within the university, no accountability, for the 'content' of our classes or our scholarship," he said. "There is a review, it does have consequences, and it does consider content." Mr. Bollinger said that he was not preventing professors from expressing their opinions in the classroom, but that there were boundaries. "The question is not whether a professor advocates a view," he said, "but whether the overall design of the class, and course, is to explore the full range of the complexity of the subject."

So long as it's used in practice as quoted here, and does not become a witch-hunt to oust professors with unpopular views, I can agree with the approach. Maybe it's just I'm attuned to this kind of thing, but I'm seeing too many articles these days of pressure being brought to fire professors based on defensible yet controversial content (as opposed to straight racist or sexist KKK-style dogma), or flunking students with opposing viewpoints.

You Know You're Just Twisted Enough

Dweeze, Not the Moonbat and I may disagree on different aspects the motives of the sentient parties involved with the Schiavo case, but we all agree that she would not want to be here and her wishes should be respected. Dweeze has a good post up on the topic, quoting the libertarian point of view. Basically, if we allow the government to take this decision from us, what have we got? That's why anti-suicide criminal statutes have never made any sense to me. That and the whole attitude: "Oh, you're depressed and want to end it all? We'd better fine/jail you. That'll teach ya." Yep. Helpful, that.

Meanwhile, the Dead Pool has started a Terry Schiavo side pool.

Tasteless, utterly tasteless.

Of course, my pick is already posted in the comments.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


This is the hardest I've laughed in a long, long time. My co-workers are ready to call the rubber-padded van. Ellen-Not-the-Moonbat, you've got to check it out.

If I had More Time

I'd do stuff like this:
Wesley A. Williams spent more than a year exacting his revenge against junk mailers. When signing up for a no-junk-mail list failed to stem the flow, he resorted to writing at the top of each unwanted item: "Not at this address. Return to sender." But the mail kept coming because the envelopes had "or current resident" on them, obligating mail carriers to deliver it, he said.

Next, he began stuffing the mail back into the "business reply" envelope and sending it back so that the mailer would have to pay the postage. "That wasn't exacting a heavy enough cost from them for bothering me," said Mr. Williams, 35, a middle school science teacher who lives in Melrose, N.Y., near Albany.

After checking with a postal clerk about the legality of stepping up his efforts, he began cutting up magazines, heavy bond paper, and small strips of sheet metal and stuffing them into the business reply envelopes that came with the junk packages."

(Reg. required - randommentality/password).

Okay, maybe I'd opt for more theater, shopping, travel. But I'd think about doing that. And laugh.

Coincidence or Religious Experience?

Now we can smell God.

And in other news, the nearly simultaneous resurrection of Bill Nye the Science Guy and Gary Larson. Hmmmmm. . . .

Legal Stuff

Saw on How Appealing that that Debra Lafave (the 24-year-old teacher accused of molesting her 14-year-old student) is seeking a plea deal.
"Faced with the prospect of such a media circus, her lawyer and the state prosecutor agreed Tuesday that it might be best for all parties involved - especially the teenage boy - to avoid a trial altogether.

"If this case can be resolved without a trial and we could respect the boy's privacy, that could be a good thing," said John Fitzgibbons, Lafave's attorney."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

This is a New One

Just a heads up: phishing most of us won't fall for. But pharming is a growing problem. Via Cnet.

Hey Greenman -

I got a hit on this site via this search: Hedda&hl=no

I guess someone in Norway was paying attention.

More Legal Stuff

Talk Left analyzes mandatory arrest laws in light of Castle Rock v. Gonzalez. From SCOTUSblog:
The facts of this case are brutal and tragic. In the midst of an ongoing divorce proceeding, respondent Jessica Gonzales obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) against her husband, Simon Gonzales. The order barred Mr. Gonzales from the family home, prohibited him from "molesting or disturbing the peace of" Ms. Gonzales and their three young daughters, and granted him only limited visiting rights with his daughters. The order also specifically directed law enforcement officials to (1) "use every reasonable means to enforce" it; and (2) arrest anyone who violated the order.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 22, 1999, Ms. Gonzales discovered that her three daughters were missing. She suspected that Mr. Gonzales had taken them, and called the Castle Rock Police Department around 7:30 p.m. for assistance. Two officers came to her house. She showed them a copy of the TRO and asked them to enforce it, but they "stated that there was nothing they could do about the TRO and suggested that Plaintiff call the Police Department again if the three children did not return home by 10:00 p.m." An hour later Ms. Gonzales reached Mr. Gonzales on his cell phone and learned that the children were with him at a Denver amusement park. Again she called the Castle Rock Police Department and asked the same police officers to find and arrest Mr. Gonzales. The officers refused and again asked Ms. Gonzales to call back at 10:00 p.m. if her daughters had not yet returned. At 10:00 p.m., her daughters still missing, Ms. Gonzales called the police and was told to call back at midnight. At midnight, still with no sign of her daughters, she called the police again, then drove to Mr. Gonzales's apartment, which was empty. She made a final call from her ex-husband's apartment complex, but no police officer ever showed up. Finally, Ms. Gonzales drove to the Castle Rock Police Station herself at 12:50 a.m. and asked for help. The officers took an incident report but otherwise did nothing.

At 3:20 a.m., Simon Gonzales drove to the Castle Rock Police Station and opened fire with a handgun. The police shot him dead at the scene. Moments later, they discovered the bodies of Ms. Gonzales's three daughters in the cab of Mr. Gonzales's truck. He had murdered them earlier that evening.

1. Whether the Fourteenth Amendment provides a procedural due process claim against a local government for its failure to protect the holder of a partial restraining order from private violence, even though this Court has already rejected a similar substantive due process claim in DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep't of Soc. Serv., 489 U.S. 189 (1989).

2. If so, what kind of process is due for police inaction with respect to a partial restraining order?

As TalkLeft points out, there are problems with mandatory arrest laws:
Mandatory arrest laws were enacted to correct a perceived problem -- the willingness of officers to drive an accused abuser around the block to let him "cool off" before returning home, rather than taking him to jail. In practice, the laws often result in arrests that accusers would prefer not to happen. Accusers who call the police hoping that their spouses will be lectured or driven around the block to "cool off" are frequently surprised when they find themselves driving to the police station (or a courthouse) to post bail for the spouse they've inadvertently caused to be arrested.

The value of mandatory arrest laws is debatable, particularly when police aren't required to arrest individuals who probably committed much more serious crimes. The laws put the police in a tough position. A wife who calls the police expecting a "cool him off" response may be shocked to learn that the police, as a result of her call, will cart her husband off to jail, and may beg the police not to make an arrest. The officer then confronts a difficult choice: disregard the law and honor the wife's request, or follow the law and make a bad domestic situation even worse.

I can think of two additional counter-arguments: 1) Abuse is about power and control, and any solutions to abuse must involve return of empowerment to the survivor. Mandatory arrest laws further deprive them of power. So while they may be productive in sending the message that society takes the crime seriously and will prosecute it, they are counter-productive in the particular instance in furthering the survivor's feelings of learned helplessness. 2) If the police were called by the survivor to diffuse a bad situation before it went off the deep end, hauling an abuser off to jail might have exactly the opposite effect. Now the survivor is a target of an enhanced rage and while restraining orders are nice, they're more tools to punish further conduct rather than effective preventative measures.

It's an interesting, if tragic, case. Earlier rulings are linked in the SCOTUS post.

I forgot to mention Gonzalez' attorney is a Drake grad?


No offense, but I've looked at it twice now and this doll still looks creepily like Phyllis Diller.

It's probably just me.

True Story

The Urban Legends Reference Pages lists some of the stupid "Is this true?" questions they've had to field. PT Barnum (or George Hull) was right.

A New Way to Detect Losers

Give them a chance, and they practically out themselves. . .

A tape measure???? Are you seriously that insecure?

Legal Stuff

Given my schedule Friday, I wasn't able to post that the new Iowa Supreme Court cases were up. There were three of them, one confirming that the statute prohibiting "any amount" of certain illegal substances in your system while driving really does mean "any amount." The second an appeal from a work comp case. The third is a trust and estates case involving remainders, which is cool for it's intro:
H.L. Mencken once said the capacity of human beings to bore one another seems vastly greater than that of any other animal. The subject-matter of this appeal—a medieval interest known as a remainder—proves Mencken’s point, although we shall do our best to bring matters to resolution as painlessly and interestingly as possible. Much is at stake.

Nicely put. Caution: Do not read if you never wanted to hear the words "contingent remainder" again once you got out of Property II. Though I can still hear Kurtz singing in the back of my mind. Very scary.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Around the 'Net - Mini-Monday Edition

Pierre Pierce's lawyers won access to his accuser's medical and counseling history. Just wait. Despite the email he wrote talking about how he trashed her apartment out of anger and stole her laptop, this will all be her fault. 'Cause she's a crazy b*tch who made him mad. So he's got the right. Yep.

Have you caught any of the death penalty debate raging on at various blogs? It started with a post by Eugene Volokh condoning the pre-hanging torture of an Iranian serial killer who had raped and murdered at least 20 kids. Key quote:
"I particularly like the involvement of the victims' relatives in the killing of the monster; I think that if he'd killed one of my relatives, I would have wanted to play a role in killing him. Also, though for many instances I would prefer less painful forms of execution, I am especially pleased that the killing — and, yes, I am happy to call it a killing, a perfectly proper term for a perfectly proper act — was a slow throttling, and was preceded by a flogging. The one thing that troubles me (besides the fact that the murderer could only be killed once) is that the accomplice was sentenced to only 15 years in prison, but perhaps there's a good explanation."

This drew responses by Matthew Yglesias, Clayton Cramer and others. Daily Kos rounded up some of the responses from the counter-position in a post here, you can find many others by scrolling down in the original Volokh post - one of the reasons I read them so regularly is that they don't silence the opposition, but try to debate the topic through. Follow-up posts by Eugene Volokh discuss the slippery slope issue and runs through and addresses the counter-arguments.

Then, demonstrating the effectiveness of reasoned, rational debate, Eugene Volokh changes his mind based on this post by Mark Kleinman regarding the practical problems with having such a punishment available:
"What I found most persuasive about Mark's argument was his points about institutions: about how hard it would be for a jury system to operate when this punishment was available, and how its availability would affect gubernatorial elections, legislative elections, and who knows what else. Even if enough people vote to authorize these punishments constitutionally and legislatively (which I've conceded all along is highly unlikely), there would be such broad, deep, and fervent opposition to them -- much broader, deeper, and more fervent than the opposition to the death penalty -- that attempts to impose the punishments would logjam the criminal justice system and the political system.

And this would be true even when the punishments are sought only for the most heinous of murderers. It's not just that you couldn't find 12 people to convict; it's that the process of trying to find these people, and then execute the judgment they render, will impose huge costs on the legal system (for a few examples, see Mark's post). Whatever one's abstract judgments about the proper severity of punishments, this is a punishment that will not fit with our legal and political culture."

I have to say my position tallies closest with this quote of Matt Yglesias' on this one:
"Unleashing excess cruelty on serious wrongdoers doesn't, in the end, solve anything, or balance out any sort of scales. Dead kids aren't revived and they're not really avenged, either. Family members pain and loss doesn't go away. You're merely telling people that they can and should try to fill the void left in their souls with the suffering of others. . . . But of the sort of thing we're contemplating now, there's no real affirmative case. Indulge the desire for cruelty for cruelty's sake and all you'll get is cruelty."

Unlike Matt, I don't think the cruelty would necessarily bleed over into other areas, or create a cruel streak in our society. But I take a rather utilitarian approach on it all: if we want to add more punishment, what good will it serve, what will it add to our society? The only response I can see for adding torture is that it will provide an outlet for the urge for retribution.

While retribution is one of the debatable goals of the penal system, I've never been fully persuaded of the merits of it. What good does it ultimately serve? I've never had that satisfactorily answered.It doesn't bring back the victim. It doesn't plug the holes of loss. Sure, you can say it satisfies a primal urge for vengeance. But isn't that ultimately a twisting of the very motivations that drive your typical murderer into a more palatable form for our consumption?
"The murder is cathartic and allows the killer to release hitherto repressed and pathologically transformed aggression - in the form of hate, rage, and envy.

But repeated acts of escalating gore fail to alleviate the killer's overwhelming anxiety and depression. He seeks to vindicate his negative introjects and sadistic superego by being caught and punished. The serial killer tightens the proverbial noose around his neck by interacting with law enforcement agencies and the media and thus providing them with clues as to his identity and whereabouts. When apprehended, most serial assassins experience a great sense of relief."

The Psychology of Serial and Mass Killers

"When the child grows up, according to these authors, all they know are their fantasies of domination and control. They have not developed compassion for others. Instead, humans become flattened-out symbols for them to enact their violent fantasies." summarizing Robert Ressler, Ann Burgess and John Douglas in Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives.

It's an interesting debate, one particularly worth reading if you're interested with death penalty issues because some of the arguments can be expanded and extrapolated to apply to the death penalty as a whole.

Oooh! Oooh! The UI College of Law Moot Court Team reached the international competition. Congrats! Way cool! I remember Van O. rather well. It's extremely stressful, but gratifying when you kick *ss.

Obligatory Terry Schiavo commentary:

Matt and Teresa took sides on the issues earlier.

My two cents, on the moral issues only (somewhere in the archives I discussed legal issues. I'll provide the link later):

1) Teresa said "All her husband wants is for her to rest in peace. People say he is only fighting for the money, that he is scum for starting a new family with a new woman. If your spouse died fifteen years ago and the only way to stop her parents stringing her up like a marionette and parading her around town like she was alive was to stay married to her then everyone would be on your side, even if you had already moved on and started a new family." I don't buy that. For the simple fact that it was her husband who kept her strung up like a marionette long enough to bring a case to court and collect additional damages based on lifelong therapy. Then apparently began withholding that therapy. It's widely known in tort circles that a vegetable case is worth far more than a death case, to put it bluntly and crassly. That's because you've got the added horror for the jury to consider of living your whole life that way. If he was truly convinced she wouldn't want to live this way, why did he not petition from the beginning to let her die?

2) I don't have the medical qualifications to know whether she's essentially mentally a "puppet," or just a severely handicapped human being who has some minimal cognitive thought. Either way, any woman who had the problems with bulimia she'd had would not want to be kept alive in this state. Think about it. She hated her self-image enough to starve herself to the point of collapse. She's now not only slightly overweight, she's the poster child for severe brain damage. She's trotted out in video clips. There are Terry Schiavo jokes. God save us from ever having this happen to us. She'd be horrified if she knew what she'd become.

So, while I don't think the husband has her best interests at heart, I do think the parents are deluding themselves if they think she'd want to go on living. It's time to let go.

UPDATE: Dweeze pointed out this link undercutting the theory that Michael Schiavo is in it for the money. I stand corrected. In the comments, Ellen's got a further Wikipedia link.

Monday Quiz

Via Theresa:

You Are A Good Friend

You're always willing to listen

Or lend a shoulder to cry on

You're there through thick and thin

Many people consider you their "best friend"!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hedda Blogging

Dweeze has a review up. For all those people who promised to come see me - tomorrow is your last chance. Your very last chance.

Think of the guilt if you don't show.

You'll have to spend way more buying me alcohol to soothe my hurt feelings than you would ever spend on a ticket.

And the suck-up value if you actually do make an appearance - priceless, no? It will probably obligate me to come to the next couple of events you're in. Ah, the power. It's going to your head already. I can hear it.

How often do you get to see me commit suicide? You can even laugh at it and no one will comment.

But if you throw things at me, I will find you and kick your ass.

'Nuff said.

Just for Pete

By request, I'm blogging on a book I've not read, but I think I'm going to have to: America (The Book) by (among others) the Daily Show's John Stewart. A co-worker of mine, Pete, got it from his sister and spent half the night up cackling maniacally over it. Apparently wife Sharon thinks he's gone straight off the deep end. But you read it, and it is good. Very good. It's done textbook style, down to the "This Book the Property of" stamp inside the front cover.

It starts off with a foreward by Thomas Jefferson:
" . . . . Yes, we were very accomplished. We discovered electricity, invented stoves, bifocals, the lazy susan . . . But in the 18th century it was nearly impossible not to invent something. "What if we put this refuse in a receptacle?" "Oh my God you just invented a sanitation system!" We lived in primitive times. Hell, I shit in a bucket and I was the president. . . ."

Goes on to briefly outline world history up to the founding of the country:
"1300 BC - God gives Ten Commandments to Israelites, making them his Chosen People and granting them eternal protection under Divine Law. Nothing bad ever happens to Jews again."

The textbook goes on to describe the revolution and founding of the nation, paying attention to some more minor trivia about the presidents and our founding fathers, and even minor political positions:
"Thomas Jefferson . . .
Reason why Unelectable: 'Ms. Hemings? Connie Chung on line one.'"

"Presidential Nicknames: 'Tricky Dick' Richard Nixon: Richard Nixon was regarded as an agile and 'tricky' political opponent. Also, he was a dick."

"Secretary of Transportation. Driven a car before? Seen an airplane? Hispanic? Good - put on this tie."

It explains the branches of government, and the difference between the house and the senate:
" . . . the more deliberative Senate would be comprised of two men from each state, regardless of size or population. Its members would be richer, better groomed, smarter. . . their wives hotter. . . . "

It outlines the Supreme Court and provides brief synopses of important court cases:
"Marbury v. Madison (1803) Established the principle of "judicial review" - that the Supreme Court has the power to declare laws unconstitutional. Before that, the Court only had the power to check laws for spelling and punctuation."

"Bush v. Gore (2000) The Court votes 5-4 to stop the recount in the disputed Florida election, effectively handing George W. Bush the presidency. In a remarkable coincidence, each justices' decision aligns exactly with his or her party affiliation - an accidental synchronicity a lonely, unemployed Al Gore muses on each and every evening as he cries himself to sleep."

It eventually runs up to the present day where it describes advances in the media:
"The town crier's call of 'Hear ye! Hear ye!' was the colonial equivalent of today's 'Fox News Alert,' only without a shrieking metallic sound effect akin to fingernails scratching a chalkboard in hell."

in politics:
"The United States will not remain the globe's lone superpower because we simply aren't fucking at a rate commensurate with the world's emerging nations. Sooner or later, someone's going to be richer and more powerful. China's a good bet - though don't rule out India. They're scrappy, they already have nukes and according to one recent study, every single Indian citizen is a computer genius who has already taken your job in programming."

and comparisons with other countries:
"Well, the loose collection of social democracies making up western Europe are not going to take it anymore. They've banded together to form a powerful coalition - the European Union - that will once again propel Europe to its rightful place amongst the world's most powerful. . . just as soon as they all adopt the same currency . . . and sign their constitution. . . and ratify their trade agreements. Wait, where's Belgium going? . . . We wanted to show you the new logo. . ."

Okay, Pete. You win. You're sane. Happy now?

Now let me borrow it when you're done.


Apparently this blog fits in well with yogic theory.
Sadhanapada; Samadhipada; Kaivalyapada; Vibhutipada; Random Mentality.

the last reminder in the ysp:

there's more than one way
there's no two ways about the - - - -
when you are the - - - -
you'll have to go back <
otherwise, you are "I am"; self absorbed

Self absorbed?

Blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too?

The new Iowa Court of Appeals decisions are up.

I like the nerve of this guy:
Originally defendant was charged with four crimes. He entered a plea agreement with the State by which the robbery in the first degree charge was eliminated in consideration of defendant’s testifying truthfully in a murder case involving Laviel Harper. Defendant later claimed he knew nothing about the Harper case. When this happened the State filed a motion to withdraw the plea agreement; the court granted the motion and defendant stood trial for robbery in the first degree. Defendant now claims the court erred in granting the State’s motion . . . . The district court aptly observed that defendant did a complete about-face and breached his agreement with the State. The court was right; there is no abuse of discretion.

Yet with a similar philosophical vein, the State tries to get the benefit of an unplead enhancement in this case:
Count III of the State’s trial information charged Baumann with possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) in violation of section 124.401(5). The trial information describes the offense as a serious misdemeanor. . . . section 124.401(5) provides as follows: . . . It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless such substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of the practitioner’s professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by this chapter. Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a serious misdemeanor for a first offense . . . . Baumann concedes the State could have sought to enhance his sentence on Count III to an aggravated misdemeanor or class D felony based on his prior convictions; however, he argues that because the State failed to do so the district court erred in sentencing him to a term of incarceration which exceeded six months. . . . The State argues that “the defendant is charged as a subsequent offender although not explicitly on this count.” This fact only makes Baumann’s argument stronger. In Count I, the State specifically alleged Baumann had prior offenses in order to subject him to an enhanced sentence for Count I. The record reveals the State made no allegation that Baumann was subject to an enhanced sentence for Count III either in the trial information or at the time that Baumann was sentenced. Because we find that the district court erred in sentencing Baumann to a term of incarceration which exceeded six months for Count III, we vacate Baumann’s sentence on that count and remand to the district court for resentencing on that count only.

The prosecution was also asleep at the switch in this case:
As set forth above, Shirbroun claims his counsel was ineffective for failing to ensure Shirbroun made a valid waiver of his right to jury trial by not making an adequate record as required under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.17(1) and the holdings in State v. Stallings, 658 N.W.2d 106 (Iowa 2003), and State v. Liddell, 672 N.W.2d 805 (Iowa 2003). Shirbroun is correct that no written waiver of jury trial may be found in the record, nor does the record reflect an in-court colloquy which would have enabled the district court to determine whether Shirbroun’s waiver was knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. See Stallings, 658 N.W.2d at 110-11. Based on the lack of either a written waiver or in-court colloquy the State concedes the requirements of rule 2.17(1) and the relevant case law were not met here and thus counsel breached an essential duty in failing to make a proper record on the waiver. However, the State argues Shirbroun failed to prove he was prejudiced by this failure and here, unlike in Stallings, prejudice should not be presumed. See Stallings, 658 N.W.2d at 112. We conclude that based on our supreme court’s holding in Stallings prejudice must be presumed when an important right such as a defendant’s right to jury trial is at issue, and the trial court’s judgment must be reversed and this case remanded.

I can see how you would miss the lack of a waiver, plea recitations are long, boring snooze-fests. But did you really think you'd get the whole waiving the jury trial bit in under the "no harm, no foul" rule?

Finally, I really can't comment on this case, as I'm supervising the ongoing file. But nice job to Janice on the appeal. And read the facts, they're interesting.

Finally . . . An Internet Quiz We Can Kick *ss On!


Congratulations! You're 125 proof, with specific scores in beer (60) , wine (83), and liquor (104).
Screw all that namby-pamby chick stuff, you're going straight for the bottle and a shot glass! It'll take more than a few shots of Wild Turkey or 99 Bananas before you start seeing pink elephants. You know how to handle your alcohol, and yourself at parties.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 43% on proof
You scored higher than 90% on beer index
You scored higher than 87% on wine index
You scored higher than 96% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid

Okay, I need to work on the proofs a bit. But still . . .

And I expect great things from you people, considering.


I know it's generally recommended that at some point in your life, you sit down and prepare for the potential you might someday get old and need to be put in a "home." But who has the time or the inclination for that kind of depressing chore? Thanks to the internet,

I've now got my plan all figured out.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Homercles had this up a while back. I'm resting my brain momentarily, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

What's your fav kind of cookie?

Chocolate Chocolate Chip from Cookies and More in the Old Capitol Center mall in Iowa City.

Who's America's most overrated actor?

My opinion? Jack Nicholson. Please don't kill me, but it's been a very, very long time since I've seen him playing anyone but himself.

Name a guilty pleasure.

Chick magazines: Glamour, Cosmo, and all the accompanying quizzes. Bath and Body shop body butter. Mmmm.

"Scrubs" or "Everybody Loves Raymond"?

Neither, really. I've seen Raymond and it's not bad, but I don't search for it or anything. Never seen Scrubs.

Name 2 things you can't live without.

Air and food?

Your first pet's name + your mother's maiden name = your pornstar name.

Nope, sorry, it's first pet plus first street you lived on. Better names and doesn't give out credit card info. Mine is not bad at all: Lady Cheyenne.

What song are you listening to right now?

Everything but You by Susan Greenbaum.

Name your celebrity crush.

Pick your favorite: Val Kilmer, Cary Elwes, Dougray Scott, a younger Harrison Ford. Common theme: an attitude of irreverance in a particular movie that caught my attention beyond just good looks. Caveat: I've no idea if any of them have that attitude in real life. If not, just another pretty face. Sorry.

Favourite punch line from a joke.

Hhhhhhhh ('Nette's leprechaun joke. Have her do it for you sometime. It's a scream.)

Who do you want to pass this meme off to?

Don't you mean "inflict on"? Whoever's brain-fried enough to need the breather.

Iowa Sexblogging

A nationwide obscenity and tax investigation has led to indictments of an owner of nine Iowa dirty bookstores on tax and obscenity charges. Go to Roth Tax Updates for the info.

You Talkin' to Me?

Jeff Jarvis has a response posted on the whole blogging diversity issue:
I'm white and male. Not much I can do about it. Not much I want to do about it. I'm sure as hell not going to apologize for it. I'm white. I'm male. I blog. You got a problem with that? Tough.

And two snaps in a circle back at you.

Being free (or mostly), unrestricted and driven utterly by consumer taste and linkage, it's the perfect medium to sit back and let the market decide. I'm content to compete on even ground with the guys, thanks much. Why the h*ll would I want anyone link to me based on gender rather than the quality of the posts?

Important Legal Tip of the Day

Important safety tip for litigators: If you are going to threaten to "F***ing kick your opposing counsel's ass" at a deposition make f***ing sure you are off the record.

Brought to you by Ernie the Attorney and Notes from the (Legal) Underground.

Timewaster Productivity Enhancer of the Day

Shoot the sheep. Via Dave Barry.

Law Firm Logistics

For any law students out there who are wondering what it's like to practice in a firm, Centinel's got a post up. My take: I hate hate hate hate hate keeping track of billable hours. I can do it, but it is a pain in the *ss. It also makes the day that much longer - you're spending time tracking yourself instead of working, and then you've got to work more to make up for the time. Did I mention I hate that?

I've pretty much avoided firm work except for right out of school, keeping my pay scale in the lower range for my profession, but giving me more time for acting and such, freedom from endless clockwatching, and relatively fewer blatant examples of office politics. It's a trade-off, but so far I've not been tempted to go back.

Duty Calls

Milbarge blogs about reporting for jury duty. One point I found interesting:
Here's what I realized. Unless you're a really good liar, I think it would be hard to lie well in court. Every hesitation seemed magnified and was pounced on. Every equivocation or contradiction was delved into. I can't imagine the pressure of having to lie for my liberty. I mean, I'm a freaking lawyer, I was expecting the question, there was zero pressure, I was in the jury box and not the witness chair, and "Duh-huh, well, jury duty's important, I reckon!" was the best I could manage. Maybe psychopaths or practiced liars get better at it, but I don't think my normal over-rationalizing style would come across well to a jury.

I've been deposed a couple of times, and had to testify in the removal hearings for Judge Holien, and while I come across well (blame the actress training) I do tend to do completely break the rule to (in my own words) answer only the question asked, then shut the f*ck up. I don't answer a leading question yes or no. I expand on my answer. I somehow feel the need to be very, very clear and complete in order to be fully understood. In other words, I talk too much. (Go ahead and comment. I know it, and everyone on this site has figured it out unless they're completely brain dead.) If I've somehow gotten in the position of being a witness in your case, and you're trying to slide something by without opening the door for cross, you'd better warn me about it beforehand.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Around the 'Net - Monday (Again)

From the Yin Blog last week - tons of new Iowa Law Student bloggers. Will update links eventually . . .

Also, you'd better start making friends with the professor now, because according to the job predictor test, his son will be Emperor of All the World. (Post title: We're all doomed, according to the job predictor test!)

According to Wired News, the Army is looking for spy blogs.

Juan Non-Volokh (I love that pseudonym) links to this article by Nicholas Kristoff in the NY Times (Randommentality/password) that discusses the environmental movement's eroding credibility. I agree with the premise: the more radical environmental groups have no more credibility with the mainstream than your average rightwing militia. The problem as I see it is that there's so much information competing for the national attention that advocacy groups are trying to use extreme scenarios and alarmist rhetoric to grab the spotlight. So long as it's statistically possible, albeit remote, they'll put up the claim. But the average citizen gets so sick of sorting through to separate out all the hype mixed in with the real information, that the entire message is pitched into the big mental circular file like so much junk mail. No science supporting that, mind you, it's just my theory. Yep, there's some irony in that.

On the "cool scientific stuff" side: Eugene Volokh links to a seismic map of the world.

And on legal issues, Orin Kerr brings up a good point: Will Blogs Kill the Law Review Case Comment?

Talk Left notes that Human Rights Watch is reporting that the US has decided to withdraw from the Vienna Convention's protocol of providing consular protection to citizens arrested abroad. Sounds like a really bad idea to me:
According to a decision by the Bush administration this week, the ICJ, or World Court, will henceforth have no power to hear cases brought by countries on behalf of detained non-citizens in the United States. Americans in the custody of foreign countries who have been denied access to their country’s embassies will also not have access to the ICJ.

Okay, it might eliminate the problem of foreign intervention with our trials. But our justice system, as bad as it is, is still generally better than many, many dictatorships' and third world countries' around the planet. The loss of protection for Americans traveling abroad outweighs any benefit, IMHO.

Speaking of our legal system, SCOTUSBlog has a primer on the Guantanamo cases.

Glorious Nonsense has colon pictures up. Sorry, I still think it's stupid. I'd go see it, because I'm just like that. But it's definitely stupid.

From the "I really shouldn't be laughing at this" department:

Janet Reno Rescues Terri Schiavo in Daring Raid
By Scott Ott on U.S. News

(2005-03-11) -- Shortly after midnight last night, former Attorney General Janet Reno and a squad of retired agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) stormed a Florida nursing home and rescued Terri Schiavo from her impending death...

Also from Scrappleface:

'No Croc Left Behind' to Help Evolutionary Failures
By Scott Ott on Science

(2005-02-24) -- After the recent discovery of two ancient crocodile skulls which closely resemble modern crocodiles despite 40 million years of evolution, the National Science Foundation (NSF) today issued a grant of $56 million to fund the new 'No Croc...


Salon has this article on blogging your private life, pro and con:
"If producing a regular column is living out loud, then keeping a daily blog is living at the top of your lungs. For a couple of months there, I was shrieking like a banshee. I realized in the wake of my online suicide note that for the sake of my family and my fiction, I needed to turn down the volume a few notches. I needed to give up the blog."

(Note: No, Stef, I don't have a username, I just mute the speakers and suffer through the ad for the daily pass.)

Dave Barry critiques the trend toward parenting coaches:
I don't know how you were raised, but my mom would not have called a coach in this situation. She would have compromised our butts right out of the house.


Instapundit discusses diversity in the blogosphere and the perceived dearth of women (We're here! We're here! We're here!)

In part, he discusses the idea of men pulling punches and not being as snarky toward a woman for fear of being labeled sexist, or women not being linked to because readers fear they're too sensitive to handle criticism. I don't know about the rest of the 'net, but I firmly believe that the people in my blog-circle would call me on my crap, and rightly so. Besides, I'm a freaking lawyer. If I tended to get sobbing fits because I couldn't handle someone criticizing my arguments, don't you think I'd've found another line of work? My suspicion is that blogging started out more prevalent among men because they tend to get the new techno-toys first. It always takes longer to play catch up, but it will even out. And, yes, there are still some stereotypes that women are all about ranting hysterically or substance-sparse "can't we all get along" rhetoric, and not into logical debate of issues. That could skew readership male.

I'd like to see a statistical study to see if that's accurate. If we're allowed to.

Hedda Blogging

First, thanks so much to everyone who's made it out for Hedda Gabler for your kind comments. Sunday was the first day I truly felt like I'd nailed it all down, though of course, the rest of the cast is too good to let me fail. But, as I'm really hard on myself and I've had too many compliments from people who do not give them lightly, I'll concede it's been all in my mind and we've all done pretty well throughout the run. Yay!!!!

The audiences have been more sparse than for, say, a big musical like Chicago or Little Shop of Horrors. In fact, we were speculating backstage on Sunday about the type of audience member who would forego a sunny afternoon to watch something as dark as Hedda. It was interesting - the first time my death scene got a laugh. I'm not quite sure how to take that. There are many ways in which it is so ironic that it merits a laugh. Others have speculated that it was just the uncomfortable giggle of people who are suddenly confronted with tragedy and don't know who to take it. But I can't be certain they didn't just like the idea of seeing me dead. Sick bastards . . .

(Just kidding, by the way, particularly for Paula and Vicki.)

The last night you can catch me in the role is this Friday. Either go to the ICCT website in my sidebar or email me if you want ticket info. If you can't make it, you could go Saturday or Sunday and catch Doreen in the part. It's so cool - she plays a very different type of Hedda, more understated, and every relationship in the play takes a 1/4 degree turn to reflect that. I can't wait to go see her Saturday.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Okay, I'm a B*tch

I saw the article in today's Press-Citizen about the fake rainforest in Coralville:
"If the business partnership between Coralville and the rain forest project were a dating relationship, the couple's conversation would have grown stale, and they wouldn't be able to remember their last deep discussion. . . . "

I couldn't help myself. I posted on this on the Iowa PorkForest blog:
Can This Relationship be Saved?

In the beginning, Coral was very attracted to Rain. She was a quiet girl, but looking to break out of her shell. Rain seemed like her dream date. An attractive, new-age kind of guy, Rain was creative, fun and full of new and original ideas. They’d talk for hours over coffee about life, his vision, his dreams. Coral was completely smitten. . . .

It goes from there. It's very snarky. So of course, I'm quite proud of it.

Not-So-Stupid Internet Quiz

Saw this quiz on Aprille's site:
Some researchers say that men can have 'women's brains' and that women can think more like men.

Find out more about 'brain sex' differences by taking the Sex ID test, a groundbreaking experiment designed by a team of top psychologists

I actually scored straight female, which I found surprising as I've always been more on the analytical side. Go figure.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Legal Blogging

I suppose I should throw some of that in this week, too. There's only two new cases from the Iowa Supreme Court this week (I'm ignoring last week's - from what little I recall about them, they were rather dull.)

STATE v. WILKINS upholds the murder conviction of one of the prisoners who'd escaped earlier from Oakdale in Coralville. Wilkins was alleging two errors: 1) The Court refused his challenge for cause against a juror who worked as an overweight vehicle enforcement officer, and so had some ties with the County Attorney's office via ongoing prosecutions. 2) Prosecutorial misconduct in that the State kept referring to the defendant by his nickname of "OJ". The Court found that because the defendant removed the juror in question through a preemptory challenge, the first issue was moot:
". . . . [T]he use of a peremptory challenge to remove an allegedly prejudiced juror from the array negates any prejudice that might otherwise arise from a denial of a challenge for cause. . . . when the impartiality of a juror is questioned the focus should be limited to those jurors who actually served in the case."

The Court then found that while it was unprofessional and rather rude of the prosecutor to hammer away at the defendant's unfortunate nickname, it didn't prejudice the defendant to the extent of warranting a reversal of a conviction. Finally, the Court ordered that the defendant's claim of newly discovered evidence be preserved for postconviction relief.

The STATE v. JAMES case turns on the interpretation of the word "knowingly" in the child endangerment statute. The facts: The defendant had woken in the night with a migraine and needed to take medication for it. While up, she woke her two-year-old son, who had a propensity for escaping the confines of his room. Presumably knowing the migraine meds might knock her out, she decided to tie his door closed with a phone cord, leaving enough slack for a small gap so he could call for her if needed. She goes to sleep, the kid tries to go out the window. He's spotted, fortunately, and the people manage to wake up Mom before he kills himself falling out the window. Mom had known he was capable of trying to get a screen out if the window was open, but he'd never before been able to open the window on his own. The State charged her with child endangerment under Iowa Code section 726.6(1)(a), which requires proof that she knowingly act in a manner that creates a "substantial risk to a child or minor’s physical, mental or emotional health or safety." The State argued that the words "knowingly act" only required the defendant to have a conscious awareness of her actions - that she knew she was taking the action, not necessarily what the outcome of that action would be. The defendant wanted an instruction that "knowingly act" meant she "had a conscious awareness that she was creating a substantial risk to . . . 'the child[’s] physical, mental, or emotional health or safety.'" The Court agreed with the defendant, and reversed the conviction:
"We conclude it was error for the trial court to instruct that “knowingly” refers only to the defendant’s act. The instructions should have informed the jury that it must find the defendant acted with knowledge that she was creating a substantial risk to the child’s safety."

More Rainforest Fun

David Lewis has a nice editorial reiterating the idiocy of erecting a fake rainforest in Coralville, Iowa. Given the latest with the Kerchner Englert resignation, I wonder: can we make David Oman cry?

Around the 'Net - the PG-13 Friday Edition

Several men actually admit in public to having inadequate equippage and buying the spam favorite that promises to "Increase Your Size by Three Inches." Their lawyers must have convinced them there's a whole lot of money in this case, because I think they've just totally shot any chance they have at sex for the next several years. Two words, guys: "John Doe".

More on the legal front: Salieri notes that a Norwegian politician is criticizing IKEA for not using female as well as male figures in its furniture assembly instruction pamphelets. Yep, that's what's wrong with 'em.

Theresa makes a good point: Who's your Turkish Prison Friend? Or, more importantly, how to recognize who isn't.

If you missed the details of the Tenet v. Doe decision earlier, it may (or may not) come as a surprise that spies who are promised big bucks by the feds cannot sue if our government reneges on the promise. Now, Milbarge and Fitz-Hume have the backstory.

No word yet on what the anonymous winner of the "Name that Monkey" auction is going to call it yet:
"The species of titi monkey -- which is about a foot tall and has a brown body, a golden crown, orange cheeks and a white-tipped tail -- was discovered by a Wildlife Conservation Society scientist in Madidi National Park in Bolivia last year, the conservation society said. The term "titi monkey'' describes about 30 species of monkeys found in South America."

Whoever-it-was paid $650,000 for the privilege to change the name from "titi monkey" to something presumably less titter-inspiring. Though unless I miss my guess, many bloggers would've backed Sebastian Haff's bid to name it "touch my." Just a little too late in pooling the funds.

Dave Barry provides the insightful news flash that some men are absolutely clueless.

Then he backs it up with evidence:
"Romanian doctors have removed a man's wedding ring from his penis.

The patient, who is married and has two children, told doctors he had a one night stand with another woman.

He couldn't say how the ring got onto his penis but suspected the mistress wanted to embarrass him because he fell asleep during sex."

I'll take a brief pause to restructure my universe in light of this new information . . .

While my mind is firmly in the gutter, I'll confess that I never knew Playboy was published in Braille. I guess some people really do read it for the articles.

On a tangent completely unrelated to the last several items, Evan from Notes from the (Legal) Underground is Prague-blogging. Those of us who haven't have a vacation in way too long can get jealous. I seriously have to go somewhere this spring.

From Overlawyered: Attorney accidentally sues himself. And it's in Madison County (Illinois) yet. Rolly 1

This makes my weekend.

Two other things I've been meaning to blog from Overlawyered:

An indignant Israeli is suing a pet shop that he says sold him a dying parrot. Can he be represented by John Cleese? Pretty please?

Music industry sues an 83-year-old dead woman for illegally trading music over the Internet.

Salon talks fugly.

Howard Dean's new image.

Vodkapundit links to . . . Hot Vodkapundit pics. Ya gotta love photoshop.

And, for dessert, Sugar Mr. Poon? has the obligatory self-castration post.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


The Daily Iowan's got a story up on Comics in Action, an improv group that features, among many other talented people, Brian Tanner - George Tesman in Hedda Gabler. I've been to about three of their shows in the Mill, and it's a kill. The next one's tentatively scheduled for March 29th, if anyone's interested. . .