Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fresh Law

New opinions from the Iowa Court of Appeals are up.

Every now and again one catches my eye more for the facts than the legal analysis. State v. Bellville affirms the defendant's conviction and sentence, despite the trial court's failure to articulate additional reasons for the term of imprisonment imposed beyond the fact it conformed to the plea agreement: "The court must provide specific reasoning regarding why consecutive sentences are warranted in the particular case. State v. Jacobs, 607 N.W.2d 679, 690 (Iowa 2000). However, where the sentencing court is merely giving effect to the parties’ agreement a failure to state reasons for the sentence imposed is not reversible error." Why is the defendant so upset about the court imposing a sentence he agreed to? Well, he can't say he wasn't warned:
On October 7, 2002, authorities investigating a complaint of a suspicious vehicle near Round Lake in Mondamin stopped Bellville’s vehicle. Bellville was a passenger in the vehicle. Officers smelled the odor of anhydrous ammonia coming from the vehicle. A search of the occupants and the vehicle resulted in the discovery of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, anhydrous ammonia in a thermos, lithium batteries, pseudoephedrine, Coleman fuel, plastic tubing, glass and plastic containers, and numerous other items associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Based on this incident, the State charged Bellville with twelve drug offenses.[1] He appeared before the district court in December of 2002 and entered guilty pleas to nine of the original twelve charges.[2] Bellville’s guilty pleas were part of an agreement to transfer him to drug court. When Bellville pled guilty, the district court informed him that if he successfully completed the drug court program, all of the charges against him would be dismissed. He was also informed that if he did not successfully complete the program, he would be sentenced to consecutive prison terms. The court accepted Bellville’s pleas of guilty and ordered him into treatment as part of the drug court program.

On August 2, 2003, Bellville violated the terms of his probation. Bellville admitted the violation, and on August 28, 2003, the court sentenced him to consecutive terms of imprisonment totaling fifty-two years. In January 2004 the sentencing judge gave Bellville another chance. The court reconsidered Bellville’s sentence and returned him to probation under the drug court program.

Bellville violated his probation again in October 2004. He admitted the violation, and the court re-imposed consecutive prison terms totaling fifty-two years.

State v. Colbert rejects the "close enough for government work" concept of restitution.

State v. Poynter deals with the probative/prejudicial line on evidence of other bad acts. During his assault trial, the defendant made a statement on the stand that he wished he could have contacted a certain witness, who would confirm his version of events. He told the court that he was unable to contact the witness because he'd been in jail. The prosecutor and defense counsel argued a bit off the record, and then the State asked: “And I don’t want you to tell me what other charges, but you are being held on other charges in the Black Hawk County jail besides this, aren’t you?” Poynter answered, “Yes, ma’am.” The defendant alleged that was prejudicial and reversible error. The state argued the defendant opened the door to the question, which was necessary to correct any misimpression by the jury that the defendant had been in jail the whole time on the charge at hand, and any temptation toward an acquittal based on the idea the defendant had been punished enough. The Court found the statements inadmissible, but the other evidence against the defendant was too strong to show a reasonable probability that the trial would have ended with a different result had the challenged question and answer not been published to the jury. However, the court then strikes down the consecutive sentences imposed by the trial court: "The district court’s sentencing order states in pertinent part:'The sentence adjudged in this case was found to be appropriate by the court following full and fair consideration of the plea agreement between the parties; sentencing goals and objectives; and defendant’s prior criminal record.' Here, there was no plea agreement. Poynter was found guilty following a jury trial. We conclude the district court failed to provide sufficient reasons for imposing consecutive sentences." D'oh.

State v. Kunde involved a first-degree arson conviction. The defendant's appeal alleged there was insufficient evidence to show that he knew, or could reasonably have anticipated, that someone was inside the structure at the time he started the fire. The Court's response: the evidence that there were witnesses he saw the victim at the cabin, and the testimony of a witness who'd told him the victim was back in town, combined with the testimony of the victim that he saw Kunde's truck drive by two or three times that day, was sufficient.

State v. Hoskins involves a search based on a confidential informant's tip: The information the informant gave police was that (1) Hoskins was in a bar; (2) his vehicle was parked outside; and (3) he had cocaine on his person. When Hoskins left the bar with a passenger, the officers followed, stopping him after they saw him drive through a red light. Hoskins consented to a search of his person. At that time, Hoskins was not under arrest, and officers had neither found contraband on him nor seen any inside the vehicle. Hoskins refused to allow a search of his vehicle. Because a K-9 unit was temporarily unavailable, the officers proceeded with a search of Hoskins’s vehicle. The Court found the search improper:
The informant’s statement to Sergeant Meyer is largely conclusory. The informant gave the police no information, innocuous or otherwise, that they could use to corroborate the reliability of this particular tip. . . .

It is clear from the record the informant gave no specific details about the cocaine. It is also clear the informant never advised police that he observed Hoskins selling the drugs. We have already concluded above that the initial stop of Hoskins’s vehicle was proper. Thus, the crucial issue before us is whether the warrantless search of Hoskins’s vehicle was supported by probable cause. The only information corroborated by law enforcement prior to the search of Hoskins’s vehicle was that (1) he was present at the Uptown Lounge and (2) his vehicle was parked outside. There was no independent corroboration of Hoskins’s possession of cocaine because the officers never entered the bar. Following the traffic stop, Hoskins was searched and no drugs were located on his person, in contravention of what the informant told Sergeant Meyer. . . .

We conclude there was insufficient probable cause to uphold the search of Hoskins’s vehicle.

State v. Polk concerned another sentencing issue. During the sentencing hearing, the Court noted the following:
The other factors that concern me greatly is number one, you were in possession of a social security card, a MasterCard and Shazam card from the John Deere Community Credit Union in the name of another individual, Kevin Dale Cameron. I don’t know how you came to be in possession of Mr. Cameron’s identity card and his credit card and his Shazam card, but I do find it somewhat coincidental that you were in the line at the John Deere Community Credit Union where those things were from. If you have some information to shed some light on it, I would certainly be interested in it.

And, nonetheless, I’m certainly not making a finding that you have committed another criminal offense in that regard; but those are factors I find to be somewhat aggravating and circumstantially suspect. You were also in possession and [sic] a check for Iris Wright. I don’t know how you came to be in possession of those things. No explanation was submitted in regards to that.

You were also in possession of a straightedge razor. That, for somebody who had just been released from completing another sentence, is very disconcerting to me, particularly when it’s combined with the fact that you have stated that this was a crime of opportunity. It was an impulsive thing.

None of those factors speak well in your behalf, Mr. Polk; and I think that the 15-year sentence is an appropriate sentence.

The problem: Not only was there no explanation for these items, none of them had actually been charged as crimes. It was pretty obvious that the trial court had relied on this at least in part, so the case was remanded for resentencing. As a side not, the defendant apparently did this one pro se.

Other stuff: speedy trial rules, sufficiency of the evidence on conspiracy to manufacture meth and possession of precursors convictions, an appeal of a defense verdict in a med mal case, work comp and permanent partial disability, statute of limitations and the discovery rule, and a bunch of juvenile cases.

Public Service Announcement

I am normally quite good-natured, but when it comes to a certain kind of patronizing male, it sets me off. The kind of male who thinks you might not come equipped with as nice a brain as a man, so he makes blatant seduction "moves" and presumes you don't 'get' it. Whose casual conversation betrays a misogynistic streak a mile wide, but believes it's well hidden and well-justified. Who is either obviously auditioning me for the role of the "barefoot and pregnant wife" or "notch in my bedpost" because, in his world, there are no other roles for women to play.

NOTE: Details have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. Except the street evangelist part. That was too good to fuck with.

On a first date, I don't mind if you try to impress me with brilliant analysis from your area of professional expertise. I do mind if you try to impress me with analysis from my area of professional expertise. Particularly when you don't have a clue what you're talking about, you don't know when to give it the hell up, and the word "condescending" doesn't begin to describe your attitude.

On a first date, I don't mind if you bring up the topic of your child/ren. I do mind if you continually refer to the child as nothing more than "the girl" and go into graphic detail about how you left "the girl" behind with "the bitch" in another state and only see her about every six months to a year, if that. Nice parenting instincts, dude.

On a first date, I don't mind if you tell me all about yourself. I do mind if you never once ask a single thing about me beyond my opinion of you.

On a first date, I don't mind if, when you see some ethnic cuisine on the menu, you take the chance to brag a little about having visited that country. I do mind if you use it as a springboard to bitch about how it "ruined you" forever from having that type of food in the US, because every single restaurant in America has somehow managed to get that food totally wrong and no one who knows better would ever eat that crap. Oh, and it's worse if you already know that I had also lived in that country for an extended period of time, yet seem to be enjoying my meal. If you're right, you've just insulted my palate, no?

On a first date, finances should really not come onto the table, other than a polite argument about spliting the check or generic information. If you're out of work and living with your parents/best friend/kid, do you really want me to know about it right off the bat? If you're wealthy, bragging about it makes you look like an asshole.

On a first date, I don't mind if you discuss your break up with your ex. It's dangerous territory, but if you intend to put on a show, I'll sit back and watch. I appreciate the information on such random topics as cleaning standards, your sexual habits, hiding assets from lawyers. I'm sure you'll appreciate that when I find out you broke up with your last girlfriend because she left dirty dishes in the dishwasher, that you cheated on your ex, that you really would like to find someone to visit a sex club with you, that you think stalking is an appropriate wooing method, or that you feel the right to dictate all expenditures down to how many tubes of lipstick you think your significant other can own, well . . . I'm going to allow you to pick up the tab for dinner. Then I'm going to ensure you never, ever bother me again.


That's the fun part.

I'll listen to all your misogynistic bitching just long enough to determine the kind of female that really ticks you off. Then I'll become her. I'll start low-key, and turn the volume up as the evening wears thin. It's an elegant little game: you don't get hurt, and I get a good story for my girlfriends.

Here's one from a few months back: I had just about every item listed above occur on a single date. When he was in the restroom, I left the building. I needed air. I was tempted to just keep walking, but didn't.

In figuring out how to get rid of the guy, I'd already tried the 'slightly shrill, antagonistic chick' approach, the exact opposite of the quiet little homemaker he hoped I'd be. Nada.

I thought about trying the smoking angle, bumming a cigarette off a nice lady in the street. But then I remembered I'd seen him smoking on a previous occasion. Damn.

Then, just as he was on his way out of the building, I was approached by two street evangelists wanting to talk about Jesus. It was too good to pass up. I sat down started a conversation. When he came out of the restaurant, I made him listen to them. For 45 minutes. Hey, I thought it would do him some good. He seems to have lost my phone number . . .

DISCLAIMER: Please not that I am not talking about most guys. Not even half of them. This is the small segment of the male population in serious need of remedial help. You know who you are. I'm just doing my part.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Washington Sex Offender Vigilante

Police are looking for a man who may have posed as an FBI agent to gain access to their apartment. A roommate who found the bodies says the man wore a blue jumpsuit and a cap with the FBI, and said he wanted to talk to the men about their status as sex offenders. The man also was seen Friday by neighbors.

The fake FBI agent told the three roommates that one of them was on a "hit list" on an Internet site, according to the police.

The men were on the sex offender registry site as of yesterday. By today, their names have been cut. The list allows you to see the addresses of the offenders if you click on an "I agree" button to this disclaimer: By entering the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office Registered High-Risk (Level 3) Sex/Kidnapping Offender site, I agree that the information I am accessing is to be used for informational and educational purposes only and will not be used to intimidate, harass or for the purpose of taking any unlawful action against any listed person.

This is precisely what anti-registration people were afraid of, as were the proponents.

You Might Want to Rethink This One

From my junk email box:
Special Topics - Hair Drug Testing
SEPTEMBER 19, 2005, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans Airport, 1535 Williams Blvd., Kenner, Louisiana 70065
TEL: (504) 712-0504, FAX: (504) 712-0109 Spec. rates available to 9/2/05
FEE $ 250
Fee is $100 for law students and new lawyers (limited space)
TEL NO. (402) 935-0401 * FAX NO. 402-935-0401
Web pages:


Hurricane blogging from Ernie the Attorney:
So I tried to leave New Orleans today at 12:30 pm but after 4 hours of driving I had only made it 15 miles. I was alone and tired so I decided the safe play was to return. It's kind of sad when the 'safe play' is to go back and wait to be pounded by the gnashing fury of a Category 5 hurricane.

That was Sunday. As of this morning a friend posted:
Making a break for it. At this point he is looking to escape the city - we are working in concert with state hotlines (if we can get thru), the news, the Internet and The Only Vincent to see if we can work him out of there somehow. Most roads are closed, water is rising and it's just getting uglier. If anyone can comment on open roads, known (and safe) escape routes throughout the NW side of the city, please post asap. Helicopter anyone?

Say a prayer or two for him, and my friends Danette and Mark, who'd just brought home baby Ava from China when this all hit. I've not said anything about them, because I have no idea where they are or what's going on. The lack of emails seriously concerns me, last year, Danette kept us all posted throughout the whole Ivan ordeal.

Here's how close they are to Lake Pontchartrain.

She's about 4.6 miles from the 17th Street Canal. The levee on the 17th Street canal broke this morning.

Got an email from Danette: they evacuated to Houston. Whew.

"No, really,

I just like the climate."

Monday, August 29, 2005

But is he single?

I suppose it never hurts to ask . . . much.

More Rules Debate

The Des Moines Register published this contrasting views op-ed last Friday regarding the new ethical rules for prosecutors.

I posted rather extensively on the rules earlier, so I won't repeat myself, but I have a few comments on the article.

Bill McCarthy states:
Imagine this scenario: A robbery and shooting is reported at a local convenience store. The responding officers observe a suspect fleeing in a vehicle. During the chase, suspects begin to fire from their vehicle at the pursuing officers. Eventually, the police are able to ram the suspects' car, disabling it. The suspects flee from the car only to be tackled by the police, who, after a struggle, handcuff the suspects. The media arrive on the scene at almost the same time the arrests are made. The officers, in attempting to tell the media what has transpired, must first include the disclaimer, "Now remember, these people are innocent until proven guilty."

First, as I pointed out earlier, the disclaimer is not necessarily required under the new rules, even if the statement is being made by the prosecutor himself. A statement that a person has been charged with a crime without the guilty-until-proven-innocent language was used by a comment to the rules as one scenario which will more likely than not have a prejudicial effect. But it did not state it definitively did have a prejudicial effect under all circumstances. If this statement were made by an officer, and the defendants brought an ethics complaint against the prosecutor about it, the ethics board would look at 1) Did the statement, in fact, have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter? and 2) Did the prosecutor exercise reasonable care to prevent persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor from making improper extrajudicial statements (in this case, the officers)? Even if #1 shows prejudice, to draw a reprimand the prosecutor had to have not exercised reasonable care. Given that the rules indicate a memo warning law enforcement of the rule is ordinarily deemed sufficient, the complaint would fail under #2.

Second, and I'm just asking, I'm not sure what would be the harm in stating the disclaimer under the circumstances as described? The suspects are already in hand, it's not like you need help capturing them. Brent, any thoughts?

Allen Sobel responds:
The public must be kept informed, but not at the expense of a citizen's constitutional rights. There may be dispute about the Iowa Supreme Court's ability to impose standards limiting police communications. But rest assured that if a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial is at stake, the courts will have the last word.

Public interest is not served if courts are forced to change venue because unnecessary pretrial publicity has made it impossible to get a fair trial in the county where the crime was allegedly committed, or, worse yet, the crime victim and everyone else involved in the process has to go through a trial for naught because on appeal it is found that the defendant's right to a fair trial was violated.

Law-enforcement officers in this state are called upon daily to make very difficult decisions, taking into account competing interests. There may well be times when releasing prejudicial information is unavoidable to protect public safety, solve a crime or apprehend a suspect.

Absent such circumstances, law enforcement should be encouraged to preserve and protect a defendant's right to a fair trial. It is a basic obligation.

These are very nice principles, but it still doesn't address the issue whether the means are logically related to your outcome. The rule at issue is an ethical rule governing prosecutors. It's not a rule of evidence, or obligation of the officer. It makes little sense to hold prosecutor's law licenses hostage to the behavior of officers, or to require a "memo to the file" as a rubber stamp protection of that license. The prosecutor has no control over the officer's actions. The "memo" could well be filed in that little circular file under the officer's desk.

The way for the courts to address pretrial prejudice is to move venue or issue gag orders in a particular case. Law officers should act responsibly in giving information to the media, to ensure that doesn't have to happen whenever possible. But using an ethics rule on prosecutors isn't the proper mechanism to enforce this behavior.

Fair Warning

Posting will be sporadic in the future.

Why? I'm busy.

New Database

The Register has this article about the new reports database for the Iowa State Patrol.

The story - Reports on traffic accidents investigated by the Iowa State Patrol are now available online, and reports on other incidents and crimes will soon follow, officials said Friday.

The headline - State Patrol's online reports exclude data

The backstory - Officials have decided to withhold some details from the reports, including the blood-alcohol levels of drivers who are given breath tests. Among the other pieces of information kept off the reports are drivers' dates of birth, home addresses and license plate numbers.

[O]pen-government advocates argue that the reports will be made less useful without the inclusion of driver information that could aid in the research of unsafe drivers.

My take:
Privacy concerns, anyone? I mean, the date of birth is a dead issue because it's already online through the Iowa Court system. But there aren't home addresses, license plate numbers, and so forth on there. What if someone has an unlisted address for a good reason (read: stalking victim)? How about the fact that PBT's are not admissible in court because of unreliability issues? You want suspects' social security numbers on there as well? An open online database is very different from a Freedom of Information Act request, and I'm not so sure we want every detail from the reports listed.

Blogs and Job Searches

What was this person thinking?

News Flash:

There's a generation gap.

No shit?

What are the People

At Rolling Stone smoking?

Top 100 Songs since 1963

Careless whisper?

Tiny dancer?

Don't you want me?


Friday, August 26, 2005

We Interrupt Regularly Scheduled Blogging

to bring you this public service announcement:

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2005.

You may now return to your reading, lurking, or comment trolling activities.

Cleaning Out the Links

More miscellaneous stuff:

An interesting debate: Three guys with cameras taking pictures of San Francisco are questioned and released by police. Reasonable suspicion or overreaching? Remember: you're only getting one side of the story.

It's that time again: No Shame season! Guerrilla theater at its best.

Evan Schaeffer discusses blawging the f-word. He's got linkage:
The Smoking Gun awarded its Legal Document of the Year award to a brief that included the following sentence in one of its opening paragraphs: "In order to provide a context for the alleged crime, we must first examine the history of the word Fuck and its evolution in society."

I didn't blog that. Quotes don't count. And I was crossing my fingers at the time. Also on the Legal Underground: THE STANKOWSKI REPORT #13: Ten Things You'll Need to Work 70-Hour Weeks.

By the way, did you catch this article in the Daily Iowan?
In a typical Midwestern town lacking in ethnic diversity, a stagnant pool of milky faces with lukewarm apathy can produce an imposing film across the lives of its residents. Short of passport requests and expensive airfare, those who wish to look beyond this white membrane are often left to rely on artists and academics to widen their worldview. . . .

Anybody else find that interesting? Put it this way: if I turned it around and made it black faces in their ghetto hoods needing to get off the street and learn some "real" culture, or Native American faces needing to get off the reservation and learn how to deal with the modern world, or women needing to get out of the kitchen and learn some math, it would definitely be called out as a racist or sexist piece. So why is the converse unchallenged by our campus, which is quite quick to jump on the latter topics? Is it viewed as somehow morally justifiable to turn around offensive behavior against a perceived repressor? Just mulling it over.

Side Notes linkage to more weird stuff.


Danette and Mark just sent me a bunch of pics from their trip to China to adopt Kele's new baby sister, Ava. Here's the family. Too cute!!!! Tell Kele that Miss Kris misses her lots. It'll be interesting how she takes to sharing her barbies . . .

Lessons Learned

Centinel posts on how to get rid of armadillos.

Totally Useless Office Skills: The Endless Fax! from Michelle's Mental Clutter.

Of course, if you want to embarrass yourself at work, you could always try this.

Blogger's Depression: know the warning signs.

Quiz yourself: do you know your European countries? (This was on Anywhere but Here some time back).

How to use your camera phone for the good of the cause.

You know you're a lawyer when . . .

There's a poker boot camp?!?

If you want to get on the plane, don't bring a baby.

You know that show, "The Six Million Dollar Man?" This is not what they had in mind, people.

Fight back against stupid commercials.

How to make popping a balloon look really cool.

Very scary Ebay auctions:

Boing Boing has a link. What's he need a mouth that big for, anyway? Don't answer that. . .

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Darwin Award Criminal of the Year Category - UPDATE

Earlier this month, I proposed a new category for the Darwin Awards - criminal of the year:
People who voluntarily weed themselves out of the gene pool by committing stupid crimes that guarantee prolonged visits to their friendly neighborhood jail. My first nominee for this year's award is Iowa's own Jessie Joe Hill.

Mr. Hill had used a flashing light on his truck to pull over another motorist for running a stop sign. He was arrested for impersonating an officer - and theft, when it turned out the truck was stolen. Well, he's baaack:
Lor heard tires squeal and spotted the Porsche near East Washington Avenue and Lay Street shortly before 6 p.m. The officer said he turned on his siren, stopped the car and got out to approach the driver, who then sped away with an unidentified boy in the car.

Lor gave chase. The Porsche ran into a pickup truck and then sped away again at speeds of 70 mph. Hill allegedly stopped briefly to drop off his passenger and sped away again.

The stolen car sped the wrong way on a one-way street and then was abandoned in the 3400 block of East Washington Street, police said. Hill was taken into custody shortly thereafter.

I'm wondering how exactly he stopped to drop off the kid in the middle of all this, there's got to be a story behind that. Is he sorry? Nope:
When the chase ended, "the suspect was laughing at us . . . that he had smoked all of us in his Porsche," Officer Doua Lor wrote in his report.

Coral and Rain Divorcing?

Like a good tabloid, the Iowa PorkForest Blog pointed out the signs months ago:"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. . . .

Now it's hit the news:
"It's time to realize we've done enough. We've tried very hard. We had a dream. We had an awesome project outlined. . . . We've been through counseling; now it's time to go see the divorce lawyers."

I'm Swamped at Work Myself

But maybe some of you have time to try for high score?

And So the Fun Begins

Fisking frantic letters in support of the fake rainforest in Coralville.

Oh, and State - Could you fix the Porkforest template? I'm not sure what got AFU over there, but I see the header and a big bunch of white (well, green) space before the post begins. Thanks!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Notes to Self:

Don't bribe a 14-year-old boy with the promise of $6,000 and a one-way plane ticket to Tulsa to not testify against a client on rape charges.
(via Arbitrary and Capricious).

Don't ever drunkblog about your sex life.

Sending responses to yourself does NOT comport with discovery rules.

Unless you're actually in the wild west, twirling the evidence is a definite no-no.

If at first you don't succeed . . . give it up before you really tick off the court.

If you have to point out to your relatives that operating an illegal theft ring could be a really bad idea, it will probably bite you in the butt.

Getting scholarly papers published may not be as hard as some people make out.

And while this bit of advice does me no good, I just want to remind the plaintiff's bar:
But just like you don't "hit" on 19 and don't "go all in" on a pair of twos, you cannot accept every case with strong damages proof simply because it has the potential for a significant jury verdict. There has to be a reasonable likelihood of a recovery. In other words, you have to have a reasonable likelihood that a jury will determine that someone did something wrong and caused an injury, and that claim has to either be grounded in current law or you have to have a good shot of making new law. The risk of loss must be balanced against the potential recovery and both must be weighed against the investment of time and money.

You'll kick yourself because you're out a bunch of money. The client will hate you because you lost. I'll be really ticked because I had to hire counsel unnecessarily, and let's face it, you'll look pretty darn silly. Remember those "breach" and "causation" elements. If they ain't there, don't file. Do us all a favor.

Somewhat-Legally-Inclined Miscellanea

Clearing out the clipping file:

Milbarge managed to turn the rules of Civ Pro into a love poem.

A flowchart to determine if a work is in the public domain.

Warning all geeks: A vendor in a Stormtrooper suit (with a plastic laser gun) at a Star Wars con in Janesville, FL, was surrounded by police after someone called the police and said that there was an "armed robber" in fancy white armor at the local Ramada.

Google is watching.

Centinel points out another case where no good deed goes unpunished:
If the plaintiffs bar wants a clue as to why many people hold them in contempt, it need look no further than a suit filed today in California. Evidently, the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition built a house for a couple who had taken in 5 orphaned teenagers. The teenagers allege that the couple then began making their lives miserable in a successful attempt to force them out.

So what do the kids do (with the help of an enterprising lawyer)? They file suit against ABC because ABC's got the money, not the couple. The kids claim ABC promised them a home, and therefore ABC owes them a home. Here's hoping that someone explains to their attorney the legal difference between a "promise" and a "contract."

Another no good deed goes unpunished story from Overlawyered:
Three years after getting drunk, blowing through a stop sign and triggering a wreck that left her passenger critically injured, a former Idaho resident has filed a $1.5 million claim against Washington's Pend Oreille County for not detaining her before she caused the crash." Ashlen Lee, 17 at the time of the accident, says in her claim that a county sheriff's deputy let her off with a warning in the wee hours although he could see she'd been drinking and neither she nor her passenger was wearing a seat belt.
(Yes, I know letting her drive straight home with a warning may not have been a good deed, particularly in hindsight. But the officer was trying to be nice, so it counts.)

In another drinking-related issue, an interesting perspective from the Agitator:
Glynn Birch, MADD's national president, "concedes that these parties [parent-sponsored drinking parties that require guests to spend the night to preclude drunk driving] keep the roads safe, yet he opposes them anyway because he opposes underage drinking. So not only has MADD's mission changed from keeping the roads safe to preventing consumption of alcohol, they'll support a position that cuts down on the latter even when it increases the likelihood of drunk driving fatalities."

Has the agenda shifted from being against drunk driving to being against alcohol? If so, will being against alcohol per se help the cause or backfire?

Iowa Voice reports a new low for Kelo cases:
The Fairfield County Weekly reports that now, not only is the city of New London kicking out the families who wanted to stay, but they are now planning on paying them prices for their properties based on the year 2000. New London is in the middle of a housing bubble that has yet to burst, and there is no way they can buy a similar property for the money being offered. . .

If you're up for it, recent posts from the Becker-Posner blog discuss affirmative action and the 10 Commandment Cases.

Loose links sink . . . oh, nevermind.
According to the majority, if an individual subscribes to an Internet E-group and that E-group is determined to have an illegal purpose, the government has probable cause to obtain a warrant to search the subscriber's home. This is the case even when (1) an individual's e-mail address remains on the E-group subscriber list only for fourteen days and (2) there is no particularized evidence indicating that the individual visited the E-group subsequent to subscription or participated in the E-group's functions in any way.

Somehow I don't think this is gonna work. (via L-Cubed.) (Side note: even if it does, couldn't the US just take it back via Kelo? Sounds like a discussion question to me).

If you're looking for a good response to lawyer-bashing, Objective Justice points out this quote:
I shall not rest until every German sees that it is a shameful thing to be
a lawyer.

-Adolf Hitler

Audition Alert!!

Dreamwell Theater is holding auditions for its last production of the 2005 season: Fortinbras, by Lee Blessing, which runs the first third weekends of November at the second floor of the Old Capitol Mall.

The play's author, a University of Iowa alumnus, describes the play as a "metaphysical farce." A comic sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet, the play chronnicles the attempts of Young Fortinbras to devise the best possible way to legitimize his claim to the throne of Denmark. As he does so (with the help of a reluctant Horatio as public relations person) he is plagued by a harrowing array of ghosts, which include a repentant Claudius and Gertrude, and an Ophelia most theater-goers would barely recognize.

Friday, August 26; Saturday, August 27 at 7pm at The Dreamwell Theater space, second floor of the Old Capitol Mall. Auditions will consist of cold readings.

Sunday, August 28

The script is available at the Iowa City Public Library.

Joshue Sazon will be the director, he's a very, very good friend and a not-half bad poker player. It promises to be quite cool. They need a good turn out for the auditions, lots of us got snapped up by Paula Grady and Michael Sokoloff's production of Macbeth that's a direct conflict. (I play Lady MacDuff. Yep, for those who are counting, I did just get Chelsea in On Golden Pond (the Jane Fonda role). So that means I'm in three shows at the moment. I am seeking help.)

Anyway, stop out and audition. It's mostly painless, and lots of fun.

Okay, Let's Review . . .

In general, most porn falls on the 'just-barely-legal' side of the constitution. So why would the administration be against creating an .xxx domain to house it? If you think all porn is bad, and you can't ban it, shouldn't you jump at the chance to quarantine it? Also, if you ever manage to pack the courts with right-thinking judges who allow a comprehensive ban, wouldn't it be much easier to do if they were all in one spot?

Somebody has spent a little too much time watching PAXTV.

Or the playboy channel.

Take your pick.

And, yes, the puns were intended.

Wednesday Quizzes

Interesting. I think I'm straight up moderate.

The Democratic Loyalty Quiz

Your score is 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. You are a solid Democrat. You are not as fiercely ideological or uncompromising as others in the party, but nonetheless remain a reliable supporter. If you could have your way, you'd like to see Democrats leaders take a slightly more accommodating approach on certain issues – and dial down some of their nakedly partisan and bitterly divisive rhetoric.

The Republican Loyalty Quiz
Your score is 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. You are a moderate. You agree with Republicans on some issues and Democrats on others, while rejecting the blind, naked partisanship of both sides. You base your vote on issues rather than ideology and principle rather than party, which makes you the quintessential swing voter the media loves to fawn over.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Tuesday Quiz

More Scientific

You have:
The graph on the right represents your place in Intuition 2-Space. As you can see, you scored about average on emotional intuition and above average on scientific intuition.Keep in mind that very few people score high on both! In effect, you can compare your two intuition scores with each other to learn what kind of intuition you're best at. Your scientific intuition is stronger than your emotional intuition.

Your Emotional Intuition score is a measure of how well you understand people, especially their unspoken needs and sympathies. A high score score usually indicates social grace and persuasiveness. A low score usually means you're good at Quake.

Your Scientific Intuition score tells you how in tune you are with the world around you; how well you understand your physical and intellectual environment. People with high scores here are apt to succeed in business and, of course, the sciences.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Scientific
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Interpersonal
Link: The 2-Variable Intuition Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

via TigerHawk.

NOTE: What, like, one other person my age has taken it?


Coralville officials have set a deadline for a proposed indoor rain-forest project to make "significant improvements" or the city councilors will withdraw their support for the $180-million project, officials said Monday.

I love this part . . .
Still on the rain-forest organizers' immediate to-do list is finding $90 million to complete the project's funding, plus hiring an architect.

Just a few minor kinks to work out.

The Iowa Porkforest has more.


The Des Moines Register has this editorial:
Some law-enforcement authorities look for any excuse to keep crime information from the public. The Iowa Supreme Court has given them a convenient one with new rules aimed at preventing prejudicial pretrial news coverage.

Not all law officials, however, like the idea of the court telling them what they can or cannot say about criminal investigations. Des Moines Police Chief William McCarthy, for example, effectively told the court to mind its own business. That should be the response statewide. . . .

If strictly obeyed, the court's rules would prohibit officers from saying much about criminal cases beyond the bare facts - including information in public records. Most troubling, authorities are discouraged from reporting the existence or contents of a confession, describing potential evidence or giving "any opinion" on a suspect's guilt or innocence. Indeed, simply reporting that a charge has been filed could be considered prejudicial unless qualified with a statement that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

While I agree this is overbroad and overboard, I think the situation is not quite so controversial as they make out. The relevant text of the rules:

(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may state:
(1) the claim, offense, or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;
(2) information contained in a public record;
(3) that an investigation of a matter is in progress;
(4) the scheduling or result of any step in litigation;
(5) a request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information necessary thereto;
(6) a warning of danger concerning the behavior of a person involved, when there is reason to believe that there exists the likelihood of substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest; and
(7) in a criminal case, in addition to subparagraphs (1) through (6): (i) the identity, residence, occupation, and family status of the accused; (ii) if the accused has not been apprehended, information necessary to aid in apprehension of that person; (iii) the fact, time, and place of arrest; and (iv) the identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.
[5] There are, on the other hand, certain subjects that are more likely than not to have a material prejudicial effect on a proceeding, particularly when they refer to a civil matter triable to a jury, a criminal matter, or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration. These subjects relate to:
(1) the character, credibility, reputation, or criminal record of a party, suspect in a criminal investigation or witness, or the identity of a witness, or the expected testimony of a party or witness;
(2) in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration, the possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense or the existence or contents of any confession, admission, or statement given by a defendant or suspect or that person’s refusal or failure to make a statement;
(3) the performance or results of any examination or test or the refusal or failure of a person to submit to an examination or test, or the identity or nature of physical evidence expected to be presented;
(4) any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant or suspect in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration;
(5) information that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is likely to be inadmissible as evidence in a trial and that would, if disclosed, create a substantial risk of prejudicing an impartial trial; or
(6) the fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime, unless there is included therein a statement explaining that the charge is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:
(f) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees, or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under rule 32:3.6 or this rule.

[6] Like other lawyers, prosecutors are subject to rules 32:5.1 and 32:5.3, which relate to responsibilities regarding lawyers and nonlawyers who work for or are associated with the lawyer’s office. Paragraph (f) reminds the prosecutor of the importance of these obligations in connection with the unique dangers of improper extrajudicial statements in a criminal case. In addition, paragraph (f) requires a prosecutor to exercise reasonable care to prevent persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor from making improper extrajudicial statements, even when such persons are not under the direct supervision of the prosecutor. Ordinarily, the reasonable care standard will be satisfied if the prosecutor issues the appropriate cautions to law-enforcement personnel and other relevant individuals. [Court Order April 20, 2005, effective July 1, 2005]

(Emphasis mine. The original text is in a massive .pdf file of all the new Iowa Court Rules downloadable from this page. It's in Chapter 32 on pages 46-47, under the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct.)

To pick this apart, Rule 32:3.6 prohibits certain pretrial publicity when an attorney knows it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter. Note #1: This is an attorney's rule of professional conduct only, with penalties ranging from public reprimand to disbarment. It has no effect on nonlawyers. Note #2: It prohibits only those communications which the attorney knows is likely going to prejudice a pending trial, by tainting the jury or otherwise. It does not prohibit statements that are not likely to be found highly prejudicial. Note #3: In criminal cases, any pretrial statements that taint the jury pool will result in removal of the trial to an untainted jurisdiction anyway, so even without this rule, the State has an incentive to be careful about what it says regarding an ongoing investigation. Note #4: Notice that several items are excepted from this - requests for assistance in obtaining evidence and information necessary thereto, warnings of danger concerning the behavior of a person involved, when there is reason to believe that there exists the likelihood of substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest, and information necessary to aid in apprehension of that person. Even if these statements have a "substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter" the lawyer can still make them.

Comment 5 expounds on the rule. Note #1: It's not a rule itself, just a comment to give further guidance for the lawyer so we don't have to keep bugging the ethics board with details. It includes a list of things that could well be considered prejudicial. Note #2: It doesn't prohibit these things. It just says to watch out for them. Release of information on this list does not violate the rule, if it can be shown the information released conformed with the rule itself, by being unprejudicial or by falling into one of the exceptions that apply regardless of whether or not there is a material likelihood of prejudice. Since the Register seemed particularly concerned about it, I should point out that this analysis would also apply to the comment's suggestion that the fact a defendant has been charged with a crime should be moderated by a statement that this "is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty."

Rule 32:3.8 is the part pertaining to prosecutors, and as usual, it's a bit more strict. They're prohibited from making extrajudicial comments that have a "substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused" unless they are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose. Note #1: Definitely more strict, because it focuses on public condemnation of the accused, not prejudicing the trial itself. Note #2: There's a huge, gaping exception for when it's necessary to inform the public of the action and serves a legitimate law enforcement purpose. That's a pretty broad standard. For example, a quick search of caselaw for that phrase brings up the US Supreme Court case of Wilson v. Layne:
Respondents next argue that the presence of third parties could serve the law enforcement purpose of publicizing the government's efforts to combat crime, and facilitate accurate reporting on law enforcement activities. There is certainly language in our opinions interpreting the First Amendment which points to the importance of "the press" in informing the general public about the administration of criminal justice.

The Court subsequently found that the 4th Amendment right to privacy in the home trumps that, but the idea of "publicizing law enforcement efforts" as a legitimate law enforcement purpose was not summarily rejected. Under a standard that's so loose, I don't think releasing legitimate information necessary to gather evidence or apprehend a suspect in an ongoing investigation would likely be prohibited. Note #3: Again, if the prosecutor or the police make enough comments to taint the jury pool, the case will be bounced around like a superball until it lands in an untainted county, so there's more incentive than just a disciplinary rule at work here. Note #4: Where I totally agree with the Register is this: it's unreasonable to hold the prosecutor ethically accountable for acts of others not directly supervisable by the County Attorney's office. I understand the theory behind it - too often, people suspect government officials of colluding with one another to skirt the rules in order to get a conviction. However, the idea that the lawyer can somehow control law enforcement is untenable in the best of circumstances and ludicrous in others.

Which is probably why Comment 6 expounds on Rule 32:3.8 and explains what that what they really mean by "reasonable care" is basically send a memo.

I agree with the Register that this language is a silly addition to the professional responsibility rules - they should simply cut it back to it's pre-2005 requirement that prosecutors "exercise reasonable care to prevent employees and associates from making an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer would be prohibited from making . . ." On the other hand, I should also point out in the Court's defense that taken as a whole, it appears this rule has been streamlined. Take a look at Jeff Stein's excellent article on the old Iowa disciplinary rules: certain things you can or can't talk about at the time of a search, if the accused has not been apprehended, and so on.

Attention Writers

Matt's scored a real find: an online writing professor holding a free course. It started last week, but you've got time to catch up. It's worth it to even just read the commentary:
One of the best exercises an acting teacher in college had us student actors do was to record an hour of conversation among several people. We then had to transcribe it verbatim in script form, memorize it and act it out in groups onstage. Our performance had to sound as “real” as the tape. To prove it, the professor played the tape first and then we did the scenes. Harder than you think! All that overlapping of dialogue, all the non sequiturs.

What an awesome idea. Also seen on the comments: this poem about pronunciation (NOTE: contains some Britishisms) and this McSweeney's article on "Words And Expressions Commonly Misused By Insipid Brothers-In-Law." Priceless. My favorite item on Quiz #1:
3. She waited with (baited, bated) breath to find out if she would star in the Lavoris commercial.

My submission for Assignment #1 (a compelling opening sentence): My brother died on a Tuesday.

My rationale: you can go lots of ways with it, from thriller to comedy to tragedy, and death is always interesting.

I fully intend on completing assignment #2, so you might want to edit yourself around me for the near future. . . .

Law School Blogging

Salieri's begun his legal education out in Moscow, and makes a beautiful start at law school blogging:
Today Professor Seamon* informed us that we should treat Civil Procedure like an alien. He produced a little toy dancing alien as part of the metaphor. So does this mean that Civil Procedure will erase my memory and give me an anal probe?

Do your best to keep that sense of humor - especially at 3 am the night before your first final.

Stop by and wish him luck!

UPDATE: Salieri reminds me the law school is actually in Moscow. My bad.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Prosecutors vs. Public Defenders

This post on Ambivalent Imbroglio seems to discuss whether prosecutors are heartless or just misguided:
The public defender in this conversation simply could not accept that possibility because, again, he seemed to be of the opinion that prosecutors are something very close to pure evil and incapable of redemption. From his perspective, the big sin of prosecutors is that they simply do not care at all for defendants; they don't see a person accused of a crime, they see a criminal, and that's really not a human being at all, so all they want is to put that person away and get another X in the “win” column. The defender kept repeating: “They don't care about them [the accused]! They just don't care!” . . .

I don't love prosecutors or think they are generally terrific people. However, I'm willing to give them a bit more benefit of the doubt. Everyone I've known who has been or is on his/her way to becoming a prosecutor is motivated by a desire to help people and to do something good for society. I generally disagree with their methods toward this goal, but that doesn't mean I think they are evil. I think they are wrong. They think I am wrong. We disagree. But it also seems that it's crucial to have good people on the side of the prosecution—people with good judgment, people who really care about the responsibilities they carry and who will work hard to make good charging decisions and to conduct their prosecutions ethically and fairly.

Arbitrary and Capricious sums it up like this:
Well, yes, you can usually find a prosecutor in your area who fits this description, but the majority don't, and AmbImb is right to be skeptical of that p.d.'s claim. In my experience, P.D.'s and prosecutors have more in common than either care to acknowledge. For starters, there's the courtroom, and there's the notion of public service, which AmbImb notes that each define a bit differently, but come to sincerely (again, with the there's - one - in - every - jurisdiction exception). No, if anyone, if any one group of lawyers has nothing in common with p.d.'s, it's more likely to be BigLaw types than prosecutors.

If a former member of the ranks of this particular "axis of evil" may put her two cents worth in for a moment? Criminal law is all about helping people - nobody makes a fortune as a public lawyer on either side of the fence. There are many views on how best to go about it, from deterrence, counseling, punishment, to empowerment. There are also two sets of people to potentially feel sorry for: the victims and the accused. Does a lawyer abdicate his/her right to empathize with a victim of a horrific sex crime simply by choosing to work as a public defender? I think not. The same holds true for the prosecution, I didn't give up my sympathy for a defendant who had a hard upbringing or was a victim of circumstance simply because I chose to prosecute.

In my state, the PD's office is actually far better funded than the county attorney's office, which I understand it inopposite of most jurisdictions. So to become a prosecutor over a public defender was actually a pay cut, not a perk, for me. Why did I choose as I did? In my opinion, it afforded me the best opportunity to use my own judgment on how best to help people. Let me explain: my counterparts in the public defender's office were constrained in their approach by the wishes of their clients. They could advise, but they could not ultimately - ethically - exercise their independent judgment and advocate what was best for the accused and the victim, if it conflicted with their client. For example, maybe in some cases it would actually be best for a drug user facing a probable conviction to enter a halfway house treatment program. But if the drug user wanted to ask for nothing but complete exoneration and no penalty, that's what his lawyer had to go for. There was no wiggle room. On the other hand, I could look at a situation and see what I thought would be best. Is this guy actually a hard-core dealer, or just a kid who's had too many bad breaks? Within the sentencing limits required by law, over which I had no control, I could choose to request jail or prison for the former, and a suspended sentence with treatment for the latter. Working for the State didn't impede my ability to evaluate whether the evidence came from a tainted search and the charge should be thrown out, and I would not hesitate to tell officers so, either in a kind way when the mistake was understandable, or in less so when it was apparent they knew better and were trying to skirt the law. In crimes with victims, naturally my sympathies were with the victims, but that didn't negate my attempt to take a step back when it came to sentencing to use my best judgment in making my request

I recall one case, very early on, in which I actually did my best to assist the defendant. He was charged with keeping an unlicensed kennel, a crime of which he was unquestionably guilty. However, the neighbor who had reported the crime had a long-standing Hatfield/McCoy type dispute with him, and had actually shot one of his dogs when it had broken it's chain, wandered onto the neighbor's property and had gotten the chain entangled in a bush. The dog was restrained, not a danger, but under the law as it stood the neighbor had the right to shoot it. The reporting of the kennel was just another dig in this spat. I pulled the defendant aside prior to trial and offered to recommend a deferred prosecution if he just licensed his dang kennel. He refused, thinking he had some kind of constitutional argument. I proceeded with the prosecution, although I did incur a complaint to the ombudsman's office by the neighbor for refusing to call him as a witness. It took the defendant three-quarters of the way through the trial before he understood a conviction was inevitable. Because I don't punish people for being ignorant, I reiterated my offer, he pled, and we were done. Okay, it was a simple misdemeanor, but it makes my point: I knew what I thought was fair and was able to act on my discretion. If you're interested in seeing justice done, that's a good day's work.

I got sick to death of people presuming I needed to rack up convictions for some hypothetical record. No one cares what my conviction rate was, no one kept track. Again, I realize that might be different in other states, where assistants as well as county attorneys may be elected, or where rising through the ranks to acquire the county attorney spot might actually pay quite a bit of money. In my case, I was not elected, and aside from the "clients" nobody knew who I was. Making county attorney would have meant many, many increased headaches for a slight salary bump: no thanks. So, for me, I couldn't see the point of being married to statistics. It would take a special sort of competetive personality to put a non-tracked win-loss ratio ahead of justice. In fact, I would think that those people are far more likely to take the competitive biglaw or corporate law positions than to stick around in a county prosecutor's office. Though I do understand that there are some bad apples in every bunch.

To end this little rant, I guess I'm surprised that the issue would come up. My colleagues in the public defender's office of the counties where I worked were generally former prosecutors who'd made the jump primarily for pay reasons. I could trust them to give me the straight scoop on whether their guy was a career criminal (frequent flier) and they just thought the bust was bad, whether we were looking at an unusual situation of a good guy in the wrong circumstances, or whether we were just going to have to fight it out, regardless of the circumstances, because this was the one that would land their client in prison. I didn't think any less of them for doing their job, and vice versa. Generally, we could all go out for a beer and argue theory after the work week was over. Sometimes I won, sometimes they did. Sometimes we just made each other's head spin. Either way, we recognized the other side had valid points and it was only the balance of the two views that could make the system work. I'm sorry for the public defender who thinks all prosecutors are the antichrist because they're to rigid in their viewpoints. Something about casting the first stone comes to mind . . . ?

UPDATE: "Morning, Ralph." "Morning, Sam." - Alaskablawg says it best.


Pierre Pierce Update

He's taken a plea.
Former Iowa Hawkeye basketball player Pierre Pierce pleaded guilty Monday to one count each of third-degree burglary, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal mischief in the fourth degree.

Pierce, 22, reached a plea agreement Monday when prosecutors agreed to drop two 25-year, first-degree burglary charges in exchange for the guilty plea. . . .

Under questioning from Hulse, Pierce admitted he held his former girlfriend against her will and tried to sexually assault her.

‘‘I did hold (the woman) against her will when she tried to leave her home,’’ said Pierce, who was wearing a yellow shirt, tie and tan pants.

‘‘Did you intend to commit a sex act when you did this?’’ Hulse asked Pierce.

‘‘Yes, your honor,’’ Pierce said.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will argue Oct. 14 at Pierce’s sentencing over how much prison time he should serve on the other three charges. The maximum sentence is now four years.

Fun with Algorithms

I've run into it before doing research on different claimed phobias, but it took a brilliant search by a Boing Boing reader to make it truly link-worthy.

See, there's this organization called CTRN ("Change That's Right Now". Catchy, huh?). It's plugging phobia treatments on the web. So it's got some kind of algorithm that catches google searches for different phobias and plugs the info into a pre-written script. Suffer from Clown Phobia? CTRN is #3 on your google search. Plug in your own phobia and have fun. NOTE: PhobiaFearRelease does about the same thing. So far, so good. But this is truly hilarious . . .

What is Prostitute Phobia?

Defined as "prostitutes, venereal disease, or stds", each year this surprisingly common phobia causes countless people needless distress.

To add insult to an already distressing condition, most prostitute phobia therapies take months or years and sometimes even require the patient to be exposed repeatedly to their fear.

(Is that legal??? Define "exposed.")
We believe that not only is this totally unnecessary, it will often make the condition worse.

(If you're talking STD's, I'm pretty certain it would make the condition worse.)
And it is particularly cruel as prostitute phobia can be eliminated with the right methods and just 24 hours of commitment by the phobic individual.

Known by a number of names - Cyprianoophobia, Cypridophobia, Cypriphobia, Cyprinophobia, Fear of Prostitues, and Fear of Venereal Disease being the most common - the problem often significantly impacts the quality of life. It can cause panic attacks and keep people apart from loved ones and business associates.
(ROFL. Can't even type.)
Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread, although everyone experiences prostitute phobia in their own way and may have different symptoms. . .

(Oh, the imagination soars, it does).
If you are living with prostitute phobia, what is the real cost to your health, your career or school, and to your family life? Avoiding the issue indefinitely would mean resigning yourself to living in fear, missing out on priceless life experiences big and small, living a life that is just a shadow of what it will be when the problem is gone.

(Cure your fear of prostitutes and discover priceless life experiences . . . )
Whilst the original catalyst may have been a real-life scare of some kind, the condition can also be triggered by myriad, benign events like movies, TV, or perhaps seeing someone else experience trauma.

But so long as the negative association is powerful enough, the unconscious mind thinks: "Ahh, this whole thing is very dangerous. How do I keep myself from getting in this kind of situation again? I know, I'll attach terrible feelings to prostitutes, venereal disease, or STDs, that way I'll steer clear in future and so be safe." Just like that prostitute phobia is born. Attaching emotions to situations is one of the primary ways that humans learn. Sometimes we just get the wiring wrong.

(Okay, I can't breathe, and I just snorted coffee on the keyboard. . . )
Working with us, you'll rapidly train your unconscious mind to connect different, positive feelings to the stimuli that triggers the phobia. . . . We don't use hypnosis for Prostitute Phobia but our modern techniques are equally relaxing and enjoyable. Clients immediately notice that they feel different.

(I'll bet!)
You'll need to play your part, of course. Usually as part of the work with us there will be some easy and enjoyable homework for you to do, and that will be a key part of your success.

(Thank god I put the coffee cup down already. I don't think the keyboard could take any more.)
We have never met a case of Prostitute Phobia that could not be overcome using these methods. So please, whether or not you decide to work with us, make a decision to get over Prostitute Phobia now. If you trust us to help you, we offer two ways:

Our premium 'VIP' One-on-One service,

Working one-on-one with one of our team, with guaranteed lifetime elimination of Prostitute Phobia. From $1497 and up.


Oh, and as Boing Boing puts it: "It even includes a semi-appropriate (and inadvertantly funny) stock photo in the design of the robo-generated page."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

For All You Girls

who haven't chosen a major yet . . .
On a recent visit to an old friend's childhood home, Amie discovered a piece of board-gaming history, and I'm compelled to share it. It's mere existence fascinates the hell out of me...

It's called "What Shall I Be?", and I imagine that when the Bay Shore, NY-based Selchow & Righter Company sent it to toy store shelves in 1966 that they saw it as a progressive step. "Let's get our little American girls ready for the wide-open working world!".

Looking at it now, nearly 40 years removed, it's mostly just a riot, or maybe kinda sad, depending on how far you think workplace gender equality has come since the mid-sixties.

Your goal? Be the first player to become a 'Career Girl' in your chosen field by collecting School Cards, Subject Cards, and Personality Cards that can either help or hinder you. The laughs start when you see what six future careers are available for young girls to choose from...

Yup, that's it. Teacher (College), Actress (Drama School), Nurse (Nursing School), Model (Charm School), Ballet Dancer (Ballet School), or Airline Hostess (Airline School).

Check out the link, Brad's got all the game pieces up and it's seriously non-PC. It's fascinating how things have changed.

A Unique Theory of Education

This editorial in the Daily Iowan appears to espouse the view that there should really be no standards for high school atheletes (or anyone else?) whatsoever:
High school is glorified baby-sitting. It exists because parents need a place for their children to be while they're at work. It's wonderful if a student can find intellectual satisfaction in fulfilling scholastic requirements. But do we really need to punish those who don't? If a football jock can sit through Western Civ or Advanced Typing without expiring from boredom, I say let him play, regardless of grades.

State 29 has the commentary.

I'm refraining - the whole thing presents such an easy target it's not worth the snark. But feel free to fill the comments.

Every Now and Again

We make ourselves look stupid.

Apparently, some Iowans have finally figured out there's an AIDS problem.

Coralville to Build 20-Story Vagina

Bad Pussycat . . .

Lions at a safari park in the north of England are prowling after Smart cars, in the apparent belief that the boxy little two-seat European city cars are worthy prey.

While we're at it, can we send them after the Scion XB? Ugliest car I've ever seen in my life.

OMG - Too Funny

Me: I am hoping to land a job with as a public defender once I am done with my clerkship.

Stink-boy-with-pointless-and-stupid-piercings: That's cool. I really liked all of my public defenders. So can I get your number?

Once when I was prosecuting I had a guy I'd sent up for his fourth OWI (only charged as second because of the age of the priors) ask a friend if she thought I'd go out with him. We were in the same bar at the time. I left. Fast.


Professor Yin has a post up on some fringe group that thinks it would be an awesome idea to repopulate the US with now-extinct native species: Elephants, lions, cheetahs . . .
It said large mammals were common across all continents until the Late Pleistocene wipeout that hit North America hardest and handed the world to smaller species. The largest mammals in the United States today are bison.

The Pleistocene epoch lasted from about 1.65 million years ago to 10,000 years ago.

"Large carnivores and herbivores often play important roles in the maintenance of biodiversity, and thus many extinct mammals must have shaped the evolution of the species we know today," the scientists wrote.

They said the pronghorn antelope's remarkable turn of speed must be due at least in part to the presence of the now extinct predatory American cheetah alongside it on North America's grasslands.

Reintroducing the modern relatives of the Late Pleistocene losers to North America could spark fresh interest in conservation, contribute to biodiversity and begin to put right some of the wrongs caused by human activities.

"Establishing Asian asses and Przewalski's horse in North America might help prevent the extinction of these endangered species and would restore equid species to their evolutionary homeland," the scientists wrote.

They proposed a second phase that would include reintroducing African cheetahs, lions and Asian and African elephants to large private parks.

Hell, why stop at the Pleistocene? Let's get us some sabre-tooth, , Neandertal, and Cave Bear DNA and repopulate them, too? Or better yet, use our Dinosaur DNA to create our very own version of Jurassic Park?

I mean, really. You think the deer problem is bad, wait until you hit an elephant on the highway. Talk about messy.

Thursday Quiz

This post from 2 Hot Chiks on Theresa's young soul made me curious as to how I'd be categorized. Fortunately, the internet has a test for every occasion.

You Are a Seeker Soul
You are on a quest for knowledge and life challenges.
You love to be curious and ask a ton of questions.
Since you know so much, you make for an interesting conversationalist.
Mentally alert, you can outwit almost anyone (and have fun doing it!).

Very introspective, you can be silently critical of others.
And your quiet nature makes it difficult for people to get to know you.
You see yourself as a philosopher, and you take everything philosophically.
Your main talent is expressing and communicating ideas.

Souls you are most compatible with: Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fresh Law

The Iowa Court of Appeals has posted bunches of new cases this morning. Some of the things I saw while flitting through:

In the Interest of FB and TB involves a termination of parental rights of a woman with, among other problems, bi-polar disorder. One of her primary allegations was that she was wrongfully denied a guardian ad litem to help her sort out the case plan and legal issues. Unfortunately for her, the Court notes that she was fully represented by an attorney, seemed oriented enough to comprehend the legal issues at the termination hearing, and didn't even request the GAL until after the termination was well underway, despite having about 10 months to do so. The dissent, however, would've liked a closer look at the issue, based on the ADA: "I disagree with the majority’s decision to file an opinion in this case without the benefit of full briefing. Cassandra suffers from a bipolar disorder which handicaps her in her ability both to understand the legal process and parent her children. She makes claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and further contends the State did not recognize and accommodate her disability in supplying those services required as a part of the reasonable efforts the State is required to make to preserve a family. See Iowa Code § 232.102 (2005). These are areas where prior cases provide little direction and I find the limited briefing hinders my review of these issues." It sounds like that's an issue that might come up in the future, given the wide range of problems that can be covered under ADA protection.

State v. Allen reiterates the idea that the state is strictly held to charging a person under the correct code sections. Angela Allen pled guilty to introducing a controlled substance into a detention facility in violation of 719.8, and possession of a controlled substance in a correctional institution in violation of section 719.7, both Class D felonies. The district court sentenced Allen to five-year indeterminate terms on each count, to be served consecutively. The problem: she'd brought the pot into Fort Dodge Correctional Facility. There are two statutes covering drugs in jails, prisons, and so forth: 719.7 prohibits controlled substances and intoxicating beverages into correctional institutions or institutions under the management of the department of corrections, and 719.8 prohibits the same items in detention facilities. Fort Dodge is a correctional institution, not a detention facility. The State tried to argue it's basically the same thing, and to overturn the conviction would frustrate the legislature's purpose. The Court disagreed: "With this background in mind, we conclude “correctional institution or institution under the management of the department of corrections” and “detention facility” are mutually exclusive terms. . . . By providing a statute for each, the legislature made a decision to treat detention facilities separately from correctional institutions and institutions under the control of the Department of Corrections. It is impermissible for this court to interfere with this decision “under the guise of construction,” . . . Finally, we do not think this conclusion leads to an absurd result . . . or frustrates the objects the legislature sought to accomplish . . . [r]ather, we conclude the two statutes target two similar but distinct harms. We must honor that distinction."

State v. Matlock dealt with the admission of other bad acts used to show intent, and prosecutorial misconduct. Matlock had been charged with willful injury and going armed with intent, both while being a habitual offender, after a confrontation in which he sliced the victim's face with a boxcutter. Matlock admitted the assault, but claimed he was acting in self-defense. Regarding the other bad acts issue, the Court found that evidence that Matlock had inflicted a 7" cut another man with some sharp instrument 11 days before the assault on this victim, and given yet a third guy a slice that required 18 stitches and surgery on the very same day, were both admissible to show the specific intent required by both the willful injury and going armed with intent charges: "Evidence of Matlock’s other intentional violent acts makes it more probable that his actions in this case were the product of intentional, voluntary decisions to inflict serious injury upon Riley. The fact that Matlock, in a short span of time, violently attacked two other individuals in a manner similar to his attack on Riley, raises a reasonable inference that his actions in this case were the product of specific intent rather than non-culpable justification. Because Matlock’s other bad acts were relevant proof of his intent to commit the offenses charged, and negated his claim of self-defense, the district court correctly concluded the exclusionary provisions of rule 5.404(b) did not apply." The prosecutorial misconduct appeared to be a closer call, the opinion shading the distinction between arguing that the jury can decide the testimony of the defendant was not believeable, and outright calling the defendant a liar. The appeal on this issue was technically for ineffective assistance of counsel, in that Matlock's attorney failed to object to the alleged prosecutorial misconduct. The Court found that the prosecutor's actions weren't clearly misconduct, and the failure to object to them didn't prejudice Matlock's case:
Matlock complains about a number of statements made by the prosecutor during the State’s closing argument. He argues the prosecutor improperly called him a liar, without actually saying the word “liar.” He also asserts the prosecutor’s remarks were demeaning and inflammatory. The prosecutor did suggest that Matlock’s testimony was not believable, stated that Matlock’s version of events was not “the truth” and was “ridiculous,” and at one point equated the possibility that certain of Matlock’s claims were true with the possibility that pigs will one day fly. Most of these comments were made in the context of the prosecutor’s review of the evidence, and her assertions as to what the evidence reasonably showed.

A prosecutor is entitled to some latitude during closing arguments in analyzing the evidence admitted at trial.” Graves, 668 N.W.2d at 874. While it is improper for a prosecutor to call the defendant a liar, a prosecutor is free to craft an argument that includes reasonable inferences based on the evidence. Id. at 876. Additionally, when a case turns on which of two conflicting stories is true, a prosecutor is allowed to argue certain testimony is not believable. Id.

Although some of the prosecutor’s statements were certainly inadvisable, and arguably inflammatory, in light of the foregoing standards we are not convinced they are tantamount to misconduct. We need not reach the question, however, as even if some of the prosecutor’s remarks constituted misconduct, we find Matlock has failed to prove that he was prejudiced by his counsel not objecting to the prosecutor’s statements. The misconduct Matlock complains about only occurred during closing arguments; it was not pervasive throughout the trial. We also note that the prosecutor never actually called Matlock a “liar.” She merely argued that his testimony should not be believed. Furthermore, the State’s evidence was strong in this case. Matlock admitted he attacked Riley, and his claim of self-defense was made less believable by the introduction of his other bad acts. Finally, although a curative instruction was not given, the jury was instructed that the arguments of counsel should not be considered evidence.

We conclude that Matlock failed to prove he was prejudiced by his counsel’s actions to such an extent that he was denied a fair trial. Accordingly, we reject his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Benson v. Iowa District Court for Benton County is a nasty divorce case in which Benson was found to have been in contempt of court. Apparently, the guy drained his $65,000 401K account just prior to the trial. His ex claimed that he then came into court and testified at trial that the account was still intact. After the trial, when it came time to sell the family home as ordered by the court, Benson wouldn't answer the agent’s telephone calls, failed to sign listing documents, threatened the agent with legal action, and impeded her access to the house. Meanwhile, the court had ordered that he be responsible for making mortgage payments in the interim. He didn't do it. Benson claimed he couldn't make the payments because he was unemployed, and she hadn't given him a cash payment she was supposed to have made. Yet, he did manage to make a $25,000 cash payment on his credit card, though the minimum payment on the card was about $670. Finally, Benson was supposed to give his ex several items that were clearly listed on an exhibit incorporated into the decree. He wouldn't give them over, or allow her access to the house to get them. He claimed that the decree awarding her the items violated due process because it didn't set a time limit for him to give them over. The district court found Benson in contempt on all these counts, and sentenced him to 30 days in jail on each of these four issues, to be served consecutively. The Court of Appeals upheld all but one of these - it struck down the lying under oath on the 401K issue because it couldn't anywhere in the transcript where he said it was still intact. So it seems Mr. Benson is only going to jail for 90 days, not 120.

There are numerous other cases, so check out the court's website if you want to know what else went on.