Monday, July 03, 2006

Miscellaneous Musings

Just a quick post before embarking on my "fun things to do while unemployed" adventure for the day - going furniture shopping with a friend. Okay, perhaps not the most exciting thing to do, and it doesn't qualify by itself as something that would make me jealous if I were working, but try this on for size:

I woke up with the thunderstorm at 4:00 am and instead of being upset because I have to get ready for work in two hours and I can't get back to sleep, I could actually get up and sit out on the deck with a glass of wine and watch the rain for an hour or so. Then I went back to bed. Woke up at 9:00 and felt like working on another pastel drawing instead of eating breakfast (I have no talent, so it's more like "art therapy" than real art, but I'm slowly discovering a few tricks and it's fun, so there, nyah). Then Deone called and wants to take the convertible out in the sunshine and furniture shop, so I'm going to do that for a while. Taken all together, that makes for a much better day than hitting the office, I think.

So here's a few tidbits and extraneous thoughts from the 'net news this morning:

The Des Moines Register has another article about the red-light cameras, explaining the difficulties with civil/criminal law line - the protections I've been discussing have to do with criminal violations of the law (identification of the driver, due process, etc). The tickets being issued are considered civil, which is how they are trying to skirt around these issues. The point discussed in the article is how the civil tickets then treat some red light offenders differently from others: those stopped by officers still get the higher protections in that they're innocent until proven guilty, etc., but once convicted, they're subject to much greater punishment in that they can have their licenses suspended, and so forth. Camera violaters have almost no civil liberty protections - they fundamentally have to prove they weren't guilty instead of the government having to prove they were - but then are not subject to revocations or suspensions and such. My point has really been drawing that civil/criminal distinction at all: should a government be allowed to suspend civil liberties for what is essentially a crime simply by slapping a different label on it? Or will the Courts decide that it is just a criminal penalty in disguise and should carry the protections thereof? An analogy could be drawn with the civil forfeiture of property used in a crime, or civil license suspensions tangential to criminal OWI convictions - caselaw has shown that you must be careful to draw the civil/criminal distinction or the allegedly "civil" cases will be treated as criminal in nature. Just a thought.

The Register also has this article about gun forfeitures in domestic violence. They point out that it's very difficult to prosecute people convicted of domestic violence for having a gun under the federal laws prohibiting them from doing so, if the judge in the DV case never checked the box on the form to tell the defendants that they should turn in their weapons. They use some quotes from DV victims, demonstrating how guns in the hands of abusers can become a tool for terrorizing the victims. They have a point, but I don't think a simple check mark will totally solve the problem. The feds have a lot of work to do, and simply don't have the resources to prosecute unless it's an unusual case. I recall one situation back when I was prosecuting, in which I called the feds in on a guy who'd gotten picked up on another DV. He had a prior DV conviction, and had also just been raided for selling illegal pharmeceuticals, and during the raid they'd found a number of guns in his possession. I thought the feds might be interested in prosecuting him for that as well. Turns out, I had quite a bit of convincing to do - they were not going to come down and get him just for owning a shotgun. Of course, when I told him he had over 90 illegal weapons, they perked right up and came and got him within the week. But that was obviously the exception. Upshot: even though federal law does prohibit owning a firearm if you've been convicted of domestic violence (and a bunch of other circumstances, including being subject to a no-contact order), and even if the judge has checked the little box demonstrating that the individual has notice of the prohibition, that still is no guarantee that victims of domestic violence won't be subject to terrorism by firearm. Proper funding and prosecutorial resources must be in place to actually enforce the law, or it all falls apart.

BTW - my laptop is insane today. For some reason, every couple of seconds while I'm typing, it decides to stop placing the letters at the end of the line, but instead insert them wherever the mouse might be pointing - generally several lines up and in the middle of an entirely seperate thought. I think I've corrected it all, but if you see any weird typos, blame Bill Gates. Or Hewlett Packard. Either way, don't blame me.

Oh, and here's the Monday quiz:

You Are a Chocolate Chip Cookie

Traditional and conservative, most people find you comforting.
You're friendly and easy to get to know. This makes you very popular - without even trying!

And Stef, have you made a final decision on the Blogger Bash yet? Here's how it looks from my end:

Greenman and I will definitely be in Des Moines the 20th through the 23rd. We perform each day:

MA for Mature Audiences
by Gregory Aldrich, Matthew Brewbaker, and Dawn Wittke-King
directed by Matthew Brewbaker and Dawn Wittke-King
July 20, 9:00 pm; July 21, 6:30 pm; July 22, 8:00 pm; July 23, 3:30 pm
Location: Substance Architecture, 13th & Walnut (commercial building on SW corner; west side) Des Moines

We'll also be getting rooms somewhere in the general vicinity. We'll be wanting to go out nearby, and will also have 4 other actors with us. I think Falduto (Corvis) will be coming up one of the nights, but I don't know/remember which. (Matt? What's the plan?) Again, I don't recommend bringing any kids to our performances, unless you are planning to get that whole "birds and the bees" talk out of the way real fast - there's nudity involved. NOT MINE. Just want to be clear on that one. Anyway, let me know the plan so I can post it with nice pics and a big headline.

Okay, so now I have to get a few resumes out there and try to fit in today 's work outbefore heading to Deone's and the convertible.

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