May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

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Quote of the Day - The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them. - Randy K. Milholland
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There are 2033 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 156

Alleged Carjacking Criminal Caught As Caped Crusader

You have to think that maybe this guy had seen the Fantastic Four before he allegedly committed three carjackings while wearing a purple robe supposedly stolen from a church.

Has he seen too many movies?

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, July 15, 2005 at 13:15. Comments Closed (0) |

Everyday Lawyers Have The (Unlikely) Chance of Nomination To The Supreme Court

President Bush says that he's willing to nominate someone without judicial experience as a replacement for SDOC. I guess that leaves me out; I sometimes sit as a temporary judge.

Damn.

Along with the other (estimated) more than a million lawyers in the United States, President Bush is likely to pass me by. It seems kind of odd, doesn't it, that traditionally most Supreme Court Justices were not judges beforehand.

What does that tell you about the law? Does it take a judge to know one?

It seems that being a judge is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to making a decision that will become "the final decision." But isn't that what everyday judges do? Sure, the judge in Superior Court down the street from my office makes decisions that become final every day. More than the Supreme Court could ever hope to make.

No one else, though, relies on that decision to decide another case. In a couple of words, the decision by the "street judge" has no precedential value. On the other hand, appellate courts and the Supreme Court publish their decisions, and they are relied on as precedent. Most appellate judges (the old saw in the Ninth Circuit is that there's not justice there, only judges) and justices are appointed only if they've been judges before.

Why, then, would it be different for the Supreme Court? Maybe it makes it easier to get confirmed since lawyers have few, if any, published rulings that the Senators can call into question. Maybe it's because practical experience is viewed as more valuable than judicial experience when it comes down to establishing long-lasting policy.

It's perhaps as simple as that: long-lasting policy. Who better to make those decisions than someone with a broad range of experience in the law rather than someone whose job it has been to decide cases in a confined courtroom?

My hat's still in the ring, but I'm not holding my breath.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 14:29. Comments Closed (0) |

Secret Tax Court Opinions See The Light Of Day And Critical Examination

It's been 11 years, one five-week hearing, a written report from Special Trial Judge D. Irvin Couvillion, a 606-page opinion from Senior Judge Howard A. Dawson, Jr. (now retired, but still hearing cases), and we're not there yet. As if you couldn't tell already, we're talking about the Tax Court.

Earlier this year, our Supreme Court ordered the Tax Court to release previously secret opinions, one of which included the startling case of Burton Kanter, a famous tax attorney, now deceased.

The high court decision highlighted the Tax Court's 20-year practice of Special Trial Judges writing decisions kept secret from the parties and seen only by the senior judges in the Tax Court - kept secret even from appellate courts in cases on appeal. The startling aspect of the Supreme Court decision came when the Tax Court released Special Trial Judge Couvillion's decision, which was markedly different from the final decision in the Kanter case.

Special Trial Judge Couvillion, who heard the Kanter case for five weeks, ruled that there was no fraud. Senior Judge Dawson's ruling held there was.

One appeals court judge stated that he had reviewed some 880 opinions involving STJ rulings, and each had agreed with the final opinion. Now that the opinions will be opened up, tax professors will be poring through them. We'll find out soon enough whether that observation holds water.

Meanwhile, Kanter's case (the Estate of Kanter) is still winding through the Tax Court, with his lawyers claiming vindication given last week's release of the STJ opinion. The IRS lawyers, not surprisingly, haven't given up. Remember Dickens' not-so-fictional case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce?

This is it in real life.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at 10:40. Comments Closed (0) |

Announcing The Return of Sharks In The Water

MIPTC's companion blog, Sharks In The Water has returned, and our very own Joe McFaul is in the swim.

Give the site a visit, drop in and leave your comments and get on the bandwagon.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 10:54. Comments Closed (0) |

Indonesia Hangs Fate of Corporate Employee and Its Own Reputation In Balance

MIPTC brought you the news before, and here's an update. The American who heads Newmont Mining Company's Indonesian operation, Richard Ness, was charged criminally in Indonesia with violating pollution laws.

The trial should start in two weeks, and Mr. Ness faces up to 15 years in jail. Other employees were dismissed previously, including an Australian. At least one opinion lays blame at the doorstep of the New York Times as a somewhat prosecutor instead of a news reporter.

There's no lack of local coverage (need Indonesian translator) of the events. The case hasn't lacked for attention by the U.S. Embassy, either. Seems everyone has an opinion.

The dispute is much bigger than the not-so-simple-alleged act of dumping toxins into Buyat Bay. It has to do with sovereignty, pressure from American media, local environmentalists, diplomats and conflicting evidence. The WHO and other studies appear to clear Newmont. The government tests contradict those results.

With trial in two weeks, we'll find out soon enough. It's been a long saga already.

The world is watching.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 20:24. Comments Closed (0) |

My That's A Big Birthday Cake, Mom and Dad

You may have had cake and ice cream for your 16th birthday party. I seem to recall that was on the menu for mine.

But the parents of one 16-year-old had a different idea. A stripper.

Yep.

Police found out when the got a tip from a drug store photo developer who spotted ... well, more than he probably should have. The stripper, her guard and the parents each got two years of probation. The parents were also ordered to attend parenting classes.

What more can I say? Well, Grandpa was there and apparently enjoyed the party too, but wasn't charged.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, July 10, 2005 at 11:21. Comments Closed (0) |

Boy Scouts To Be Separated From Military Support for National Jamboree

The Boy Scouts just can't seem to get any traction lately. Judge Blanche Manning, a federal district court judge for the Northern District of Illinois decided that the military can't sponsor the Boy Scout's National Jamboree.

Disclaimer here: I'm an Eagle Scout, earned a God & Country award and am a member of the Order of the Arrow. My dad was a minister, and was at one point, a leader of my Boy Scout troop. So, I'm pretty invested in this issue.

The annual Boy Scout Jamboree is held at the U.S. Army's Fort A.P. Hill, near Bowling Green and just South of Fredericksburg, in Caroline County Virginia. (I've attended the Jamboree there).

In addition to meeting other scouts from across the world, the Jamboree includes camping, cooking, archery, a bikathlon, buckskin games, confidence course, conservation programs, scuba, kayak fun, racing shell run, and raft encounters, according to the Scouts' web site.

According to Judge Manning, that event won't be going on much longer with support from the Army. She decided in favor of the Rev. Dr. Eugene Winkler, in a suit brought by the ACLU. No more can the Army host the Scouts, ruled Judge Manning.

This suit isn't the first time that Rev. Winkler and the BSA have tangled. The issue revolves around the separation of church and state. Rev. Winkler believes that the government should not spend money to support an organization that requires its members to "do my duty to God and my country."

The Scouts plan an appeal, and according to an AP quote of Boy Scout spokesman Bob Bork, "We are confident that an appeal to the 7th Circuit will return everything to the status quo."

Just in case you want to go, the Boy Scout's World Jamboree will be held in Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex, England in 2007, where scouting was founded by Sir Baden Powell. The next National Jamboree is not yet scheduled and no location has been announced.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 10:56. Comments Closed (0) |

Do You Have A Constitutional Right To Get Drunk On Private Property?

We've had a lot of talk about the constitution lately, but we're about to have one more discussion. Do you have a constitutional right to get drunk on private property?

The government can take your property, but what about the circumstance where you're drunk on your property? Can they take you?

That's what happened to twenty-five-year-old Eric Laverriere last New Year's Eve. He started the night at a friend's house, and was invited to spend the rest of the night there. Until, that is, the cops arrived. Apparently, someone had thrown champagne and beer bottles at a passing police cruiser, Waltham Police claimed.

Right. We've all done some pretty dumb things after a few drinks, but throw bottles at a cruiser?

The police paid the party a visit, and after discovering an allegedly inebriated Laverriere, they invoked the Massachusetts Protective Custody law, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 111B, 8 and invited him back to the drunk tank.

I've checked the Constitution, and it doesn't mention anything about drinking or getting drunk. It does, perhaps not surprisingly, protect Senators and Representatives from arrest while in Session (Art. I, 6). So, our Congresspeople can get drunk on the floor of the House or Senate and they can't be arrested, but heaven help you if you're in Waltham. I don't know.

Maybe Mr. Laverriere is claiming he has the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Seriously, though, I'm not far off. His lawsuit claims a constitutional right of "privacy and liberty right founded in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution."

Not everyone agrees, however. What say you?

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, July 08, 2005 at 21:55. Comments Closed (0) |



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