Entries categorized "News & Current Events"

AOL IM - Don't Use

America Online's Instant Message chat device has a revamped "privacy" policy:

[B]y posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL ... the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.

This article has more details.

The Wrong Man

Everyone just knew that Matt Hale was responsible for the murder of Judge Lefkow's family.  We all just knew it.  I suspect that a lot of evidence when viewed by people who already knew what happened - but just needed to find some proof - pointed to Matt Hale.  And I bet detectives would have found enough evidence to tie Hale to the crime. We would have convicted him, and justice would have been served.

It now seems, though, that someone without any affiliation with Hale was responsible for the Lefkow murders.  This report indicates that Bart Ross was responsible:

Notes found in the car of Bart Ross, who killed himself after a traffic stop in West Allis last night, describe how he killed a federal judge's husband and mother in Chicago and listed additional people he blamed for ruining his life, including two Milwaukee judges.

The notes appear to suggest Ross acted alone in the Chicago murders, and was not planning to kill anyone else, a law enforcement source said.

Weeks earlier Ross confessed his crimes in a letter to NBC:

The hand-written letter, signed by Bart A. Ross, describes how the crimes were committed, saying he intended to kill Lefkow, not her relatives. The handwriting is at times hard to decipher, but NBC5 has made every attempt to transcribe it accurately without edits.

The letter begins, "I regret killing husband and mother of Judge Lefkow as much as I regret that I have to die for the simple reason that they personally did to me no wrong."

The author says he broke into Lefkow's house at 6:30 a.m. and planned to spend all day waiting for the judge to return. However, Michael Lefkow discovered the man in a utility room of the home at about 9 a.m., according to the letter.

"I had no choice ... but to shoot him," the letter states. "Then I heard voice 'Michael, Michael,' so I looked to the hallway (in the basement) and saw an older woman. I had to shoot her too. I followed with a 2nd shot to the head in both cases to minimize their suffering."

In cases like these I lose faith in the criminal justice system, and in all of us.  How can we so arrogantly be sure of what happened in a home thousands of miles away from us?  But we were sure, and we would have extracted our pound of flesh. 

The problem is that we would have taken it from the wrong man.

(links via How Appealing)

Lynne Stewart

Someone please educate me -- Why should Lynne Stewart have been acquitted?  I'm reading a lot of commentary that her conviction will harm the attorney-client relationship, and that it might deter others from taking unpopular cases.  Got it.  But why should she have been found not guilty? 

I'm not being curt -- I am really curious what legal defenses were available to her.  About all I know about her case is that Mike Tigar represented her.

UPDATE: Jarett Decker has a thoughtful piece on the Stewart case here.

Lawyer Jokes

First, ham sandwich.

A grand jury delivered the punchline for a senior citizen charged with disorderly conduct after telling lawyer jokes outside a Long Island courthouse: charge dismissed. No kidding.

Second, are these fellows going to sue the lawyer and law enforcement officials who (at least accoring to the grand jury) initiated criminal charges against them without probable cause?  Then again, the two fellows craking lawyer jokes probably hate lawyers so much that they'd never ask one to file a lawsuit on their behalf.

More Hours in the Day...

I've always enjoyed the work of folks like Tony Robbins and Dale Carnegie, and I always enjoy articles on how to get more time out of my day.  But they don't have anything on this guy, who was able to work 94 hours in a single day:

Solo Timothy C. Spayne has paid the federal government $1.24 million to settle allegations that he billed Groton, Conn.-based Electric Boat for up to 94 hours in a single day for representing EB employees in workers' compensation cases. U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O'Connor called it one of the most egregious instances of government fraud during his more than two years in office.
During the 1999 and 2000 calendar years, Spayne allegedly charged the company for more than 24 hours of work in a single day 135 times. During that same time period, the complaint contends, Spayne billed between 13 and 24 hours in a single day approximately 226 times.

According to the article, "criminal charges against [Spayne] have been stayed."  Spayne must have an excellent lawyer, since convicting him would be almost too easy. 

Did he use the mail to send his bills?  Well, that's mail fraud.  Did he make calls to discuss his bills with people ouf-of-state?  That's wire fraud.  According to the article, the billing practices date from 1991 to 2001.  That's RICO (assuming two counts of mail or wire fraud).

(Saw it at CrimProf Blog and We Win, They Lose.)

Never Again

This is the type of article that makes my day:

Passengers jumped in to help restrain an unruly traveler on a flight from Philadelphia to West Palm Beach before the plane landed, authorities said.

A flight attendant on Southwest flight 2161 asked passenger Christopher Egyed, 37, to quiet down because he was disturbing other passengers, said Palm Beach County Sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller.

The man later made threats and headed toward the pilot's cabin, and after a flight attendant tried to stop him in the aisle, a group of passengers helped detain him, Miller said.

None of the people who detained this idiot were government officials.  None of them needed to surrender liberty for safety.  Instead, the passengers vigilantly protected and defended their liberty by stopping someone from harming them.

To protect and defend ourselves on airplanes (and elsewhere), it is unnecessary for us to give up liberty.  Rather, we need more liberty, namely we need to exercise our freedom to kick the asses of people who get out of line.  That's what the passengers here did.