May 20, 2004

Public Defender Dude on the Sivits Trial

Always nice to have an expert's opinion on things, even when his expertise is somewhat peripheral to the matter at hand. Because, you know, even a little bit expert is way more expert than not expert at all.

Anyway, I was interested in Public Defender Dude's comments on what he perceives to be going on in the Sivits court martial (the first court martial to come out of the Abu Ghraib scandal): Court Martial Conspiracy Take II.

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May 18, 2004

Lisl Auman: Murderer?

I just read the article about the Lisl Auman case in Vanity Fair (which, as an aside, is perhaps the most web-challenged magazine in America). Auman is a young woman currently serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for a murder that was committed while she was in police custody.

For more detail, see the not-quite-as-challenged (though guys, ease up on the animated GIFs) site for her legal appeal ( or this Denver Post article by Ed Quillen: Lessons from Auman case.

For me, this story ends up being about slippery slopes, and the importance of having people running the system who are willing to draw the line somewhere short of perversions of justice like this. It's somewhat like the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal: We start off with Bush declaring that prisoners captured in Afghanistan are "enemy combatants" without protection under the Geneva Conventions. Then, gradually, the desire to apply the same no-holds-barred approach spreads to the interrogation of Iraqis who clearly are covered by the Conventions.

So with Lisl Auman. Some bright politician decides that he can look tougher-on-crime-than-thou by pushing for a law that says if you are commiting felony burglary, and an accomplice kills someone in the course of that burglary, you can be charged with murder. And there's a certain logic to that, but then we start tobogganing down the slippery slope, and end up sending a woman away for life for a crime she quite clearly didn't commit.

I mean, where does it stop? Just because the authorities really, really want to punish someone, and the actual guilty party is already dead, doesn't mean they get to grab whomever happens to be standing around and charge them instead.

The Auman case is currently before the Colorado State Supreme Court. Here's hoping they fix this.

Posted by jbc at 07:55 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

May 08, 2004

Oprah, Stern, Kimmel, and the FCC

Aparently, I forgot to post a story back in March about the Oprah episode discussing a lot of explicit sexual acts that aired as a re-run on March 18th of this year; and that March 18th happened to be the same day that the FCC fined Howard Stern for a 2001 show discussing a lot of explicit sex acts; or that Jimmy Kimmel stired things up by pointing out the double standard; or that Stern's network censored him and bleeped the 'indecient' portions of the Oprah clip when he tried to play it on his show.

(See what happens when you don't post things when they're current -- you have to re-cap later.)

Anyway, I mention all of that, so that I can mention this: Apparently Kimmel and Stern got through to some people. The FCC has been flooded with emails complaining about Oprah, which are now available for public consumption thanks to the FOIA. Some of these letters seem a little over the top, but it certainly seems to be raising awareness about the hypocrisy of the FCC's rule(ing)s.

Posted by hossman at 11:29 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 06, 2004

Torture, Abuse ... Abuse, Torture

I just saw a clip of this on the Daily Show: At a recent daily breifing of the DoD, Rumsfeld fielded the following question...

Q: Mr. Secretary, a number of times from the podium you've said U.S. troops do not torture individuals. There was a joking colloquy one time here about the iron maiden, remarks -- I mean, does this report undercut your notion that the U.S. doesn't torture, this is -- is this one of those rare exceptions here that torture took place?

RUMSFELD: I think that -- I'm not a lawyer. My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture.

So, I'm not a lawyer either, but it got me wondering ... what the fuck difference does it make? Some are calling this "torture" others prefer calling this "abuse" -- am I really out on a limb here thinking that both words seem to apply?

  • Torture: an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person ... for a purpose such as obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation or coercion (UN Convention against Torture)
  • Abuse: When another person does something on purpose that causes you mental or physical harm or pain (Medicare Glossary)
Posted by hossman at 11:39 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

May 03, 2004

Absurdity in Political Satire Falling Further Behind Actual Government

The most recent headline that looks as if it crawled off theonion onto a "real" news site: Patriot Act Suppresses News Of Challenge to Patriot Act.

Posted by onan at 11:44 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 30, 2004

Teen Arrested for Sexually Abusing Herself

From the AP, via USA Today: "A 15-year-old girl has been arrested for taking nude photographs of her self and posting them on the Internet, police said. ... She has been charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography."

What's next, arresting a 14 year old boy caught masturbating for child molestation?

Posted by hossman at 01:56 PM | view/comment (21) | TrackBack (0)

March 13, 2004

Big Brother Wants Your Email

...and your web-browsing history, your IRC utterances, screen captures of your multiplayer Halo sessions... Easier Internet wiretaps sought.

Posted by jbc at 01:09 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 27, 2004

Paris Hilton: Porn Director

I saw this the other day, but the significance of the claim didn't really register in my mind untill today. Rick Soloman has filed a lawsuit against "Marvad Corp", for displaying still shots taken from the well known video of he and Paris Hilton having sex on their web site. The basis of his suit is copyright infringement -- which is key to keep in mind, because Marvad's lawyers have responded by claiming that as "The Producer", he is commiting fraud by claiming copyright without the consent of Paris Hilton, "The Director".

From their petition: "Ms Hilton offered directorial comments and physically controlled and directed the camera. Solomon's failure to identify Ms Hilton as a co-author on the application for copyright registration renders the certificate of registration invalid and fraudulent."

Posted by hossman at 02:18 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 18, 2004

2003 Stella Awards

A recent email forward containing a bunch of made up lawsuits prompted someone to reply with a link to "The True Stella Awards" -- which caps off with a real gem of a winner: City sues Taser International because a cop shot a handcuffed suspect with her firearm by mistake.

My favorite new "duh" quote: "...said in a telephone interview that officers no longer carry their handgun and Taser on the same side -- something that contributed to the Torres shooting."

Posted by hossman at 03:20 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 15, 2004

Anybody want to CUDDLE with me?

This link care of my buddy Wess, who's always curious about what laws he's breaking: C.U.D.D.L.E -- Cousins United to Defeat Discriminating Laws through Education.

Posted by hossman at 12:03 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 03, 2004

You Must Speak Spanish -- But Not On Your Break

As seen on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is sueing the company "Sephora" on behalf of several employees of their NYC store. The five women say they were hired because they were bilingual, and are required to assist spanish speaking customers; but they were told they couldn't speak spanish to each other -- even during their lunch break.
Sephora denies having any form of "English Only" policy, so there's not much detail for the article to go into on this particular case, but it does mention some interesting situations from the past relating to such policies, why some companies have them, who thinks they are good, and how other companies thrive without them.

Posted by hossman at 12:17 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 31, 2004

Armin Meiwes - Euthanasia By Cannibalism

(I can NOT believe we haven't mentioned this story on before)

Armin Meiwes was found guilty of manslaughter in a German court this week, and sentenced to 8.5 years in prison. Armin recieved this sentance for castrating his victim, eating his flesh while the victim bleed to death, and then butchering and freezing his body to eat over the course of several months -- all of which he recorded on video for later sexual gratification.

Now brace yourself -- none of that is the bizarre part.

The bizarre part is that the victim was a willing participant in the whole experience -- and even choose to eat some of his own flesh before dying. (I know, it sounds like i'm plagiarizing "Hannibal" but I'm not.) Like Meiwes, his victim "Bernd-Juergen Brandes" was a cannibalism fetishist, with a Hansel and Gretel obsession, who prepared a very detailed will, and sold most of his property before going to Meiwes's house and asked to be eaten. The two met had met online, when Brandes responded Meiwes's Internet chat room post: "Gay male seeks hunks 18-30 to slaughter."

This all happened back in 1995. Meiwes wasn't arrested until December of 2002 when police were tiped off by chat room users after Meiwes posted again, looking for another victim.

The German news organization "DW World" seems to have the most comprehensive coverage, so Here's a breif timeline of their articles...

(That last video link includes a great straight faced delivery by the News anchor asking the reporter why legal experts are saying that this case is so "unique").

Posted by hossman at 05:48 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2004

Military Lawyers Challenge Bush on Guantanamo Detainees

Here's an item from Salon that is worth sitting through the one-day-pass commercial: A legal black hole. Seems the military lawyers tasked with defending the rights of detainees at the Guantanamo detention facility see something familiar in the Bush administration's latest arguments:

In the Declaration of Independence, the American colonists listed their grievances against King George: He had attempted to "render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power," he had deprived the colonists "of the benefits of trial by jury," he had "made Judges dependent on his Will alone," and he had transported colonists "beyond Seas to be tried for pretend Offences."

In an extraordinary brief filed with the United States Supreme Court this week, five experienced U.S. military lawyers have leveled precisely the same charges at another would-be King George: the current president of the United States. Only this time, the oppressed citizens aren't American colonists; they're detainees being held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Posted by jbc at 12:28 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 09, 2003

Trampled Wal-Mart Shopper Seems Accident Prone

By now, most people have probably heard about the woman who was trampled the day after thanksgiving when hundreds of Wal-Mart shoppers rushed to buy $29 DVD players. What I just heard about tonight (Thank you Lewis Black and the Daily Show) is that this woman has a history of claiming ... suspicious ... injuries.
(Scroll down to "Wal-Mart Chaser" in this column for a detailed list of her past "injuries")

Posted by hossman at 11:44 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 08, 2003

Streisand Tossed Out of Court

As metioned previously, Babs has been acting like a spoiled little child, complaining that the California Coastal Records Project had violated the sanctity of her home, and was aiding stalkers. I didn't notice untill today, but last week the judge dismissed her case.
The CCRP web site has more info about the dismissal, and tons of press links.

Posted by hossman at 05:37 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 14, 2003

Scratching a Legal Itch

Generally speaking, I think there are way too many lawyers in the world, mucking the place up. But then I see stories like this one, and it occurs to me that maybe what we really need is more lawyers, so that when cops or landlords, or telemarketers, or TSA goons get cocky and think they can walk all over people, they'll get a rude surprise when the person they are trying to take advantage of says "By the way, I'm a lawyer, and you're way out of line, and I'm going to sue your ass so hard you'll wish you were dead."

Maybe then people in positions of authority would think twice before abusing their power.

Eh, probably not.

Posted by hossman at 12:31 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 10, 2003

Torture by Proxy reader Steve writes in with this north-of-the-border item: Apparently Canadians are well and truly pissed about US authorities having yanked a Canadian citizen off a plane in New York (where he was making a connection to another flight), after which they apparently sent him to Syria for torturing. Anyway, read the story and see what you think: Critics condemn US torture by proxy.

Update: From the comment by reader Tzoq, the statement to the media by Maher Arar. Where was I a week ago when this came out? Apologies for being so out of the loop. This, in a word, is absolutely fucking insane. Okay, three words. But still.

Posted by jbc at 02:22 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 25, 2003

Public Defender Dude's Current Trial

I really like Public Defender Dude's weblog. He provides a window into a secret world. And lately that world got a lot more interesting:

I wrote earlier about the murder client I represent where DNA evidence that could exonerate him sits untested by the prosecution (they will not attempt to get a sample of a 3rd party who was identified as the shooter by one witness but against whom they chose not to pursue charges, since any evidence gathered against him would only harm the case against my client). Well, believe it or not, despite the fact that my client is very likely not the person who did this shooting (I am convinced, for the first time in any murder case I've ever had, that my client is innocent), the case is now in trial.

People have asked me in the past "how do you sleep representing a guilty person?" My easy answer is "a lot better than I have this last week."

Stay tuned.

Posted by jbc at 06:44 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 01, 2003

Suicide as Entertainment

The rock band Hell of Earth is planning to allow an onstage suicide "live" at their next show in St. Petersburg, Florida. As you would expect, this has caused quite a bit of controversy, but my favorite part of the whole thing, is that the city council needed to pass a special law, making it illegal to: "conduct a suicide for commercial or entertainment purposes, and to host, promote and sell tickets for such an event." Apparently, they had to pass the special law, becuase otherwise they had no legal grounds to try and stop the show -- no one in the band is planning to "assist" this anonymous individual, they're just going to let him come on stage and do his thing.

The show must go on however, the lead singer promises that the show will happen at an undisclosed location within city limits, in front of a select few die-hard fans (pun intended) and it will be broadcast live on their website.

Posted by hossman at 03:53 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 28, 2003

Do Not Call Me, Call Everyone Else

Sometimes, it doesn't matter how miniscule or trivial the substance of a story is, it's still worth taking note of, if for no other reason then to laugh: Judge Who Nixed Call Registry Is on List.

Posted by hossman at 11:22 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 27, 2003

CIA Asks Ashcroft to Investigate Outing of Plame

NBC is reporting that the CIA has requested that the Justice Department investigate whether or not the Bush administration broke the law by revealing to reporters that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was an undercover CIA operative specializing in WMD: CIA seeks probe of White House.

This is (potentially) a really big story. But of course, that assumes that John Ashcroft's Justice Department is actually interested in, well, erm, "justice." I'm not exactly holding my breath on that.

Link from Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

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August 17, 2003

Public Defender Dude on the Presumption of Guilt

Public Defender Dude seems to have slightly pooched his Blogspot templates; at least, the permalinks don't actually correspond to anchors on the page. Sigh. I'll link to the anchor anyway, but be forewarned: you might have to scroll past some stuff to find the post in question A bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush. It's a great piece on how some police, having settled on a suspect whom they believe to be guilty, will actively resist further investigation that might serve to raise questions about that guilt.

Thanks to Kynn at Shock & Awe, yet again, for the link.

Posted by jbc at 08:00 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2003

You can't visit grandma, because you oppose the war.

It's official: prompted by the ACLU, using the Freedom of Information Act, the Transportation Security Administration has confirmed the existence of a secret list of people to receive extra scrutiny at apirports -- completely seperate from the no-fly list of possible terrorists. Membership of this list seems to be any high profile anti-war activists.... "US anti-war activists hit by secret airport ban"

Posted by hossman at 11:13 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

July 15, 2003

Paine on the Moussaoui Trial and the Sixth Amendment

Aggravating Hiro, take 2: I know you don't know who George Paine is, and you don't want to, but you really should. Anyway, he's got another great piece: The Constitution and justice. It covers the latest depressing developments in the Moussaoui trial, where the government is taking the position that no, it really doesn't have to give him the right to confront and question the witnesses against him. And if, as seems likely, the judge tosses the government's case on Sixth Amendment grounds, the government intends to just turn around and charge Moussaoui as an "enemy combatant," and try him in a military tribunal, where they won't be hampered by such "technicalities".

I am so not going to miss John Ashcroft when he's forcibly returned to private life. And please, may enough of my fellow citizens join me in my sense of outrage that that happens sooner rather than later.

Hm. Interesting question: Which news item disgusts me more with what is going on with my country today? This one, or the one I just posted? Hard to say, really. I could make a case for either one, for different reasons.

Posted by jbc at 11:52 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 01, 2003

Screw and Hit and Run

Apparently, driving on a public road and crashing into a sign post at 60mph because you were having sex with a hitchhiker is NOT illegal in Germany ... unless you leave the scene of the accident with out reporting it. Have I mentioned lately how much I Love Germany?

Posted by hossman at 11:58 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 14, 2003

The Truth Unveiled!

You may recall a recent story on a Florida woman of Islamic faith who was legally challenging the State's requirement to have her veil removed in taking her driver's license picture. Of course, the ACLU was eager to support this outrageous example of religious discrimination. When the State Court decided against her claim, in part for compelling reasons of public safety, the ACLU Director remarked that infringing on the woman's religious beliefs because of what others with actual terrorist intentions could do by using this form of concealment, "seems to be a funny kind of interpretation on how the law should apply".

It appears that the actual "funny interpreters" were the ACLU and the Florida woman. And the "law" being misused was Islamic! This blogger notes an Arab News article which denies any such religious requirement to remain veiled for such legally-required documentation. Don't you think the ACLU would at least check with authorities of Islamic law before breathlessly rushing to support a claim like this? That organization was, and could still be, such a viable voice for those who are victims of intimidation or discrimination. But its blatant political agenda has made it a parody of its former self, to the point of near irrelevancy.

Posted by Craig at 10:15 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

June 07, 2003

Girls Teach FBI Agents a Thing or Two

Here's a fun link, courtesy of Aaron/Hiro: Girls teach teen cyber gab to FBI agents. Update: And now, thanks to the wonders of ymatt, a new topic icon! Woo!

Posted by jbc at 12:18 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)