A bunch of alert readers direct me to things. Remember folks, without alert readers, life would be nasty, brutish and short. If you are not an alert reader, most of America’s problems are due to you.
So, here goes:
- An alert reader that isn’t violating any regulations points out that Col. Morris D. Davis (the former GTMO prosecutor) has nothing good to say about the way Susan B. Crawford (a former judge on the CAAF) handled her role as the “convening authority.”
Earlier this year, Susan Crawford was appointed by the secretary of Defense to replace Maj. Gen. John Altenburg as the convening authority. Altenburg's staff had kept its distance from the prosecution to preserve its impartiality.
Crawford, on the other hand, had her staff assessing evidence before the filing of charges, directing the prosecution's pretrial preparation of cases (which began while I was on medical leave), drafting charges against those who were accused and assigning prosecutors to cases, among other things.
How can you direct someone to do something -- use specific evidence to bring specific charges against a specific person at a specific time, for instance -- and later make an impartial assessment of whether they behaved properly?
- TaxProfBlog has an article about people that went to low-ranked schools suing their Alma Mater. A long time ago, we covered this issue here and here.
- Although we all know that Burgess v. US was granted cert., we might not know that his attorney filed an Anders brief before the Fourth Circuit. His petition was pro se. So, we imagine that his mailbag is quite full of letters from attorneys wishing to represent him.
But, there are two important questions presented:
Whether the term “felony drug offense” as used in federal statutes requiring imposition of enhanced mandatory minimum 20 years’ imprisonment when drug offender has “prior conviction for a felony drug offense” must be read in pari materia with federal statutes defining both “felony” and “felony drug offense”, so as” to require imposition of minimum 20-year sentence only if prior drug conviction as both punishable by more “than one year in prison and characterized as a felony by controlling law.
When the court finds that a criminal statute is ambiguous, must it then turn to the rule of lenity to resolve ambiguity?
- ACS has a neat post about the religious beliefs of each one of the founders. Hint: 1) they are different; and 2) they were not mega-Church Christians, or even mainline Christians. Even Washington "did not have much use" for Christianity. Merry X-Mas. A commentator on that post points out that the Treaty of Tripoli – says thus:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
- DotD points to Casey v. City of Federal Heights, 06-1426 (10th Cir., Dec. 10, 2007) in which police "grabbed, tackled, Tasered, and beat" someone at a courthouse who might have taken a file without first ascertaining whether he was a member of the middle class or above.
- Simple Justice and the Matlock blog have an interesting discussion on the diachotomy between “law men” and “fact women” and “fact women” and “law men. Or is that “law girls and...” oh, nevermind.
- CNN has article about the danger of women posting pictures of them drunk on the internet. The danger is, apparently, having a potential employer see them. But, I don’t get it: why is the knowledge that someone is a falling-down drunk worse than the fact that one is a falling-down drunk. Is the point of this article that it is more important to obscure one’s identity as a binge-drinker, than not to be one. I tend to think it is since binge-drinking is very common in college and law school (and some firms), but few firms advertise the fact that their associates spent their college-years worshiping the porcelain goddess. In some what, I think this is an allegory about the practice of law: it is not what you are, but what you pretend not to be.
- Gizmodo points to a brief in which the RIAA seems to argue that copies of songs on a CD “ripped” to one’s own computer are unauthorized copies. (“Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs’ recording into the compressed .mp3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs. Moreover, Defendant had no authorization to distribute Plaintiffs’ copyrighted recordings from his KaZaA shared folder.”) Recording Industry v. The People shows how this is not only an error of law, but contradicts their earlier position. Is this strained advocacy or just wrong? Are they really arguing that if someone makes a legitimate copy of a CD copyrighted track (as one can, and most people with Ipods DO) but intends to do something illegitimate with it that it is unauthorized? This is like saying that any purchase of a baseball bad by someone that intends to assault someone with it is illegal.
- "Open CRS" stands for "Open Congressional Research Service" and has -- get this -- reports from the Congressional research service. It seems to be updated in almost real time.
- Finally, I am convinced that the big sentencing decisions from yesterday that everyone is buzzing about are nothing more than “error correction.” The Supremes were not and are still not prepared to articulate the proper role for the guidelines, excepts to say that District Courts should at least try to analyze whether the final punishment fits the crime. Nevertheless, many courts of appeal were just too freakin’ deferential to the government and the Supreme Court reversed.