Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Can 2011 Possibly Be Any Worse For Notre Dame's Image?

All of the bad publicity in 2010 may be a disaster for Notre Dame. The tarnishing of the Golden Dome's image is reminiscent of the priest pedophile scandals that plague the Catholic Church. Tarnishing a once proud image with what appears to be bad judgment in assessing priorities is hard to forgive. While a silver cloud in the threatening skies is that the Notre Dame football team will finally be appearing in a post season bowl, the remaining news likely darkens the alumni perceptions .

The handling of Lizzy Seeberg's allegations have cast much doubt upon the University's credibility. Lizzy was a 19-year-old Saint Mary's College freshman who committed suicide 10 days after accusing a Notre Dame football player of assault. The conduct which allegedly occurred in the football players dorm room is an unproven allegation. However, the allegation that at the time of Lizzie's suicide, campus police apparently had yet to interview the accused student is the focal point of criticism. Oh sure, there are excuses. Rv. John Jenkins claims the delay in interviewing the student was because of discrepancies between a hand written statement immediately after the August 31st incident and the story she allegedly told police on September 5th. South Bend Tribune. (Did the University suspect that those outside of Notre Dame might question whether the delay had anything to do with the accused being a football player? Afterall, this is Coach Kelly's (the appointed savior of the program) first year of what is hoped to be a resurgence of Notre Dame football)

Tom and Mary Seeberg (Lizzy's parents) apparently have some serious doubts as to the motive behind the delay in the investigation. Lizzy's parents claim that their daughter's two accounts of the incident were substantially the same. December 15th interview. The accused student athlete claims that the contact between he and Lizzy was consensual, and it may have been. Unfortunately, an accepted truth as to what happened in the eyes of the public may never be reached because of the delay in the investigation. While outsiders may have motivation to criticize Notre Dame, the Seebergs are not outsiders. 11 of the Seeberg family members have attended Notre Dame over the last century. Notre Dame's delay in promptly interviewing the accused and Rev. Jenkins failure to communicate with the Lizzy's family was a huge mistake. (Other than Father Tom Doyle, vice president of student affairs, Notre Dame officials have apparently chosen to avoid contact with the Seeberg family)

Jenkins handles disciplinary matters at Notre Dame. But does that truly prevent him from sending his condolences?

Why would the University not investigate this matter more quickly in an effort to avoid the appearance of impropriety? Were the allegations taken seriously or investigated thoroughly? St. Joseph County prosecutor's eventual accepted the conclusions reached by the Notre Dame police investigators. But the prosecutor, Michael Dvorak, is the father of Notre Dame graduate Ryan Dvorak. Ryan Dvorak was running for mayor of South Bend at the time of the incident. While the conclusion not to file any charges may be warranted, it would have been more reassuring if it had come after an initial prompt investigation of the matter or if an independent prosecutor had been appointed.

It is rather disturbing that conflicting interpretation of a text message may have played a role in the decision of whether Lizzy was a credible victim. Lizzy allegedly received a text from a friend who supposedly wrote, "Don't do anything you would regret. Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea.'' According to Dvorak's report, he apparently thought that the texter subjectively believed Lizzy's claim to be false. No matter how you interpret the message, letting 15 days pass before talking to the only other person who knows what happened that night is not a good idea.

Nor is it a good idea to circle-the-wagons and blame the victim without a prompt and thorough investigation. This is a university, not the Vatican, and thus all allegations should be taken seriously and investigated. See-no-evil treatment of mistakes can lead to disaster. Exactly what happened in that dorm room may never be known. But merely sweeping the dirt under a rug and carrying on business as usual is not the answer. Keep in mind Notre Dame's response to the death of Declan Sullivan, the football team videographer who fell from the scissor-lift on a windy October day. Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick called weather conditions that day "unremarkable" prior to the gust that toppled the lift. But Sullivan had tweeted shortly before his death: "Gust of wind up to 60 mph well today will be fun at work . . . I guess I've lived long enough :-/." The Chicago Tribune quoted Swarbrick as insisting that until a gust out of nowhere, "It couldn't have been more normal in terms of the weather conditions at the time.'' One of these men was dead wrong about the weather that day.

Indiana's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating Sullivan's death. The U.S. Department of Education is also inquiring about the way Notre Dame handles sexual harassment complaints. Regardless of the outcome of the external investigations, the initial handling of such matters has stained the dome which once stood for righteousness and integrity. No matter how much success Notre Dame has on the athletic field, it is only by recognizing mistakes and taking steps to improve internal investigatory procedures that Notre Dame will be able to recapture integrity and credibility.

Update 3-16-11: More bad publicity for the too often "Fighting Irish." The state of Indiana has found that Notre Dame failed to maintain safe working conditions when Declan Sullivan died while filming football practice from a hydraulic lift. Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Lori Torres said Notre Dame will be fined $77,500 for five violations, including failing to properly train the student videographer and failing to have the lift inspected on a regular basis. (The lift was apparently missing the appropriate warnings and a service manual.)
Declandied Oct. 27 when the hydraulic lift fell over in wind gusts as high as 51 mph.

All suspects are to be presumed innocent. Even Notre Dame!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is It Possible For Christmas Images To Be Clouded By A Few Bad Apples?

As usual, I was planning on leaving the chimney damper open on the 24th. In fact, I was even going to set out more than the usual number of cookies and milk. But when I witnessed a youngster refuse to sit on Santa's lap without an older friend being present, I began to wonder if something about Santa had changed since my youth. So I started reading the news and much to my dismay, I began to ponder just how intuitive a four-year old might be. I even proclaimed out loud (and now in print,) has Santa finally lost his saintly image? Santa always had such a good reputation. What possibly could tarnish the image of good old St. Nick? After discussing the phenomena with a few kids, I learned the power of a little bad press to tarnish an image.

For example, one youngster told me of Santa pulling off a stick up. With a little research I discovered that Rhode Island police do indeed claim that a man dressed as Santa entered a bar at the East Providence Yacht Club on Sunday with intent to steal. Providence Journal. The suspect was "large and wearing a Santa hat, white beard, a red Santa suit jacket and jeans." The suspect entered the bar around 7 p.m. He reached into his "Santa bag" and pulled out either a rifle or a shotgun. The bartender fled. The costume clad crook grabbed cash from the register and fled the scene.

This apparently is not the only story of the man in the red suit turning crooked added another youth. Is it possible that the man in red has left the straight and narrow? Hollywood. Also see Sketchy Santas. A little girl told me she lost respect for Santa after she saw him dance. Could this be what she saw? Mosh pit? Another added, "Have you seen the Internet? Santa is scaring the crap out of kids all over the country." Christmas snapshots. Still another little girl added that she watched Jay Lenyo and learned that Santa is having a hard time holding a job just like her daddy. Now this came as a complete surprise as I had always figured that Santa had job stability. But with a little reading I learned that 68 year-old John Toomey lost his job at Macy's after cracking a joke to an older couple. Toomey appeared on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and let the audience know that he has now secured a better job working at a bar. (While his humor may be more easily tolerated at a bar, unless it is an Irish Pub, it has to be a step down from being St. Nick.)
So how was it that St. Nick could be removed from his holy throne so easily? John Toomey: ("When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they've been good and they say, 'Yes,' I say, 'Gee, that's too bad,' " said Toomey. SFGate.com."Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it's because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live." Id.) Toomey's new gig at Lefty O'Doul's may pay better than Macy, but I doubt if the patrons will sit on his lap without tucking dollars. UPI.com.
I started wondering if these were isolated incidents of bad publicity. After all, when Santa robs a pub or pulls off a bank heist, St. Nick comes off being anything but a saint. So imagine my surprise when I heard that Santa Claus, armed with a gun, held up a Jacksonville, Florida bank on Dec. 6th. (Apparently Santa was a 5'5" African American male who carried a silver semiautomatic pistol.) He apparently shot into the ceiling of the BBVA Compas bank and scared the heck out of a pregnant teller. ( We know Santa has experience scaring small children so perhaps this should not come as a surprise.) The suspect fled in a silver four door car so as not to leave a trail of reindeer poop. The suspect is still at large... While you may think it would be easy to apprehend the jolly old fellow, keep in mind that thousands of costume clad Santas gather each Christmas time at Santacon ( New York City.) This event has been described as a drunk fest with frisky reindeer games guaranteed to promote the "ho, ho spirit." No wonder the last little child told me that they don't bother to put out anything for Santa on Christmas Eve except for a pint of whisky.
Now that you know the facts, are you sure you want this fellow sliding down your chimney on December 24th?
Update 12-23-10: First Santa then another icon, Fred Foy, the lead in announcer for "The Lone Ranger" radio and television series, died Wednesday of natural causes. He was 89.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Does The Current Administration's Health Reform Violate the Commerce Clause? Judge Henry Hudson Says Yes..."

Henry Hudson, a federal judge in Virginia, has ruled that the national health care reform law's requirement that health insurance be purchased "is unconstitutional." Forcing individuals to purchase health insurance violates the Constitution's "commerce clause, " reasoned Judge Hudson. The Washington Post

Unless overturned, the decision means that courts cannot enforce the law's requirement that Americans be fined if they don't have health insurance by 2014. "Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market," Judge Hudson explained. "In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I [of the Constitution.]"

On the other hand, Judge Hudson did rule that the remaining broad portions of the law are legal and can go forward. Judge Hudson found no reason to halt implementation of remaining portions of the health reform law. This ruling arises out of the challenge filed by Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who felt the law is contrary to the Commerce Clause. AG's website. Insurance companies argue that they will lose money without the requirement. While that may be true, that doesn't validate a federal mandate.

President Obama's overhaul of the nation's health care system passed in March. This is the first major set back for the reform. The other lawsuits in Detroit and Lynchburg, Va. upheld the President's health reform law. With a dispute in trial court decisions, the appellate process could last several years before it is ultimately decided by the Supreme Court. Judge Hudson, who is a Republican, has added fuel to the speculation that many of the constitutional challenges are politically motivated. New York Times. No kidding?

Update 5-2-11: While the election heats up, Trump and President Obama exchange zingers:


Update 7-3-13:  The government will not require employers to provide health insurance for their workers until 2015, delaying a key provision of Obamacare by a year. At issue: A bushel of complex (and fairly recently introduced) rules and reporting requirements for businesses. Retailers and restaurateurs would have been effected the most by the mandate. AP On Changes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Criminal Justice Explores The Criminal Mind of Women

Females can be just as devious as males. Legal Pub has brought you the Barbie Bandits (LINK), Tiffany Sutton the alleged vampire (LINK) and Mary Winkler, a wife who killed her preacher husband (LINK.) Now our friends at Criminal Justice are exploring the top female criminal minds at http://www.criminaljusticedegreesguide.com/features/10-most-infamous-female-criminals.html .

Of the women discussed by Criminal Justice, Lizzie Borden stands out as the big winner. She was not only the chief suspect in the gruesome 1892 murders of her father and stepmother in Massachusetts, she even has her own nursery rhyme song. On August 4, 1892, Lizzie's father and her stepmother, Abby Borden, were found dead. Lizzie’s stories were inconsistent and suspicious but Lizzie was acquitted. No one else was ever arrested or tried for the murders.

Bonnie Parker partner of Clyde Barrow during the Great Depression is also acknowledged for her alleged role in numerous robberies, murders and their ability to flee police. Here at Legal Pub we agree with her second place finish although there is no evidence that Bonnie ever shot a gun. Yet she too gained legendary notoriety and her own song, "Bonnie and Clyde." Bonnie and Clyde were killed by police in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, on May 23, 1934. The couple were ambushed and never stood a chance.

The recent case of Andrea Yates also makes Criminal Justice's top ten. Yates, who allegedly killed her five children on June 20, 2001 while bathing them is also explored. As you recall, the defense was postpartum depression and psychosis. Despite being diagnosed as suffering from postpartum psychosis, she gave birth to her sixth child, Mary. On June 20, 2001, Andrea drowned all five of her children one by one. Yates conviction for capital murder was overturned when a Texas jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.

Feel free to visit the above link for the Criminal Justice site and read the entire story. And keep in mind, all suspects, even legendary ones, are presumed innocent until otherwise proven in a court of law.

Update 12-8-10: Our readers at MastersDegree asked us to mention an article about famous lawyers including our favorite, Abraham Lincoln at : http://www.mastersdegree.net/blog/2010/12-great-lawyers-every-law-student-should-study/.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Did Shmeco Thomas and Aileen Brown Weigh In On The Retail Shoplifting Epidemic?

Can being overweight benefit one in their profession? Outside of the fat person at the circus, a football lineman, a wrestler or perhaps a power lifter, it is hard to imagine that excess weight could help someone perform their job. Nevertheless, two Oklahoma women may have thought of a way to use their excessive girth to aid in shoplifting. Aileen Brown, 28, and Shmeco Thomas, 37, are accused of hiding $2,600 worth of valuables under their skin folds. Edmond police arrested the pair on suspicion of shoplifting $2,600 worth of footwear, denim and accessories. The items were allegedly hidden under rolls of fat on their stomachs and beneath their breasts.

Concealing goods under excess skin may be considered "thinking outside of the box" but if the intent was to steal, then it is a crime. Between the two of them, they are suspected of attempting to conceal four pairs of boots, three pairs of jeans, as well as gloves and a wallet. NYDailyNews.com. Brown was in possession of a knife which could have been used to remove tags from the items. The suspects never made it out of the T.J. Maxx store.

Both are charged with felony shoplifting charges but are to be considered innocent unless otherwise proven in a court of law.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is Four Loko To Blame For Wide Awake Drunks?

Alcohol consumption in moderation is legal. Caffeine consumption in moderation is generally assumed as a norm. (Note: one person has apparently contended that it may be an excuse for murder: LINK) So are energy drinks premixed with alcohol dangerous? And assuming it is dangerous, can a plaintiff sue the manufacturer for compensation when a consumer gets involved in a car accident?

Decent questions that Janice Rivera, a Daytona Beach woman, apparently wants answered in the affirmative. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning to Phusion Projects Inc. and three similar manufacturers of energy drinks. The FDA has warned against the high content of caffeine in the drink as well. Consequently, the growing trend is to answer the first question in the affirmative, but is there research to back up the alleged danger?

Four Loko ("blackout in a can") is a caffeinated malt beverage consisting of 12 percent alcohol. (One 23.5 ounce can is the equivalent of drinking five or six beers.) It also contains caffeine which allegedly leads to wide awake drunks. (A similar drink pronounced juice, spelled J-o-o-s-e, also combines alcohol with caffeine.) But are wide awake drunks a recent phenomena?

An October 2007 study by the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at East Carolina University reported that mixing alcohol and energy drinks was fairly popular among college students. In other words, mixing alcohol and caffeine has been around longer than the manufacturing of Four Loko. Furthermore, no study has been presented that finds a cause-effect relationship between alcoholic energy drinks and health maladies. "There are no studies that address physiological changes when someone drinks an alcoholic energy drink," Bruce Goldberger, professor of toxicology at the University of Florida, told the Los Angeles Times.

The FDA and state regulators have cited studies which suggest some potential concerns.
A study published Nov. 12 in "Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research" suggested an association between alcohol abuse and the consumption of energy drinks. However, the study did not find a cause-effect relationship nor did it involve premixed drinks like Four Loko. The Department of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest University in N.C. found that students who consume alcoholic energy drinks were more likely to take part in alcohol-related incidents according to a 2008 study. However, the chance of such incidents still remained at a low 5 percent.
But even if the scientists are not in complete agreement, what is the response of our legal system?

Four Loco has been a target of recent laws designed to ban energy alcohol drinks. Janice Rivera, age 20, blames the manufacturer of Four Loco for her injuries arising from a serious car accident. She has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for her injuries sustained when she was ejected from a car on State Road 417 on August 13, 2010 in Seminole County. The driver of the car, Danielle C. Joseph, 20, is also a named a defendant. Danielle apparently drank the energy drink Four Loco prior to the accident. (Danielle's car apparently collided with another vehicle while Danielle was driving at a high rate of speed.) Sammy's, a convenience store in Deltona, has also been named in the suit. The theory against the retailer is not completely clear at this time.

Rivera's attorney, William McBride of Orlando, thinks that these alcohol energy drinks are "dangerous." The opinion is not unprecedented. The family of a young man has sued Phusion because he drank Four Loco drinks before committing suicide. But what is it that makes the combination of alcohol and caffeine so dangerous?

Some experts pontificate that caffeine masks sensory cues that people rely on to determine how drunk they are becoming. The FDA claims consumption of caffeine and alcohol could lead to risky behavior. But how are the ready mixed drinks different then Irish Coffee or Red Bull and Vodka? Does the premixing of alcohol and caffeine make it possible to consume more alcohol then if one mixes the ingredients themselves?

The difference in treatment of premixed drinks from traditional drinks may lie in the legislature. Five states have banned he sale of alcohol mixed energy drinks. Proponents of the law claim that these premixed beverages encourage binge-drinking. Drinks containing the stimulants taurine, guarine and caffeine are perceived to appeal to younger drinkers because it tastes like a soft drink. It is argued that younger consumers will not realize that they are intoxicated when they get behind the wheel.

So will a ban solve the problem of alcoholism in our youth? Brian Dvoret who works in the liquor industry sums up the issue, "The problem is that abuse doesn't happen because it's available. Abuse happens because it's cool to have something that you're not supposed to have. At that point it comes back to parental concern." All of the publicity of the ban has probably promoted great interest in the combination of alcohol and stimulants. As bans become more popular, the result may be the opposite of what was desired. If the ban does become nationwide, do Irish Pubs across the continental United States suddenly have long waiting lines to get in the door?
Note: November 17: The corporation announces it will voluntarily remove caffeine from Four Loko. Further action from the FDA seems unlikely.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just What Is So Offensive About David Weavering's Counterclaim?

Today's story could easily be slanted to take the popular course of condemning the filing of a lawsuit against a deceased minor. We all know how much anti lawyer sentiment was generated when Attorney Pfahler sued an eight year old boy for a skiing accident. LINK. (Incidentally, Pfahler did get a settlement.) While thoughts of the David J. Pfahler case initially clouded my thinking, a more balanced look at the David Weavering story seemed appropriate. By way of background, 48 year old David Weaving is being slammed in the media for "suing Stephen and Joanne Kenney because when he hit their 14 year old son, he was not wearing a helmet. A disgusting legal action considering Weaver is serving a 10-year sentence for manslaughter.

But is the suit frivolous? Stephen and Hianne Kenney actually sued David Weaving first. His claim is a counter suit for $15,000. Weaving claims that the boys parents should have insisted that the 14-year-old cyclist wear a helmet. If a helmet would have saved Matthew Kenney's life, is it a bad thing to bring the issue of parental safety into the public eye? Doesn't the defense typically plead "contributory negligence" if there is any evidence of fault on the plaintiffs?

Much is being made that David Weaving filed the counter claim while serving his time in jail. Does a person lose all legal rights to represent himself once imprisoned? The counter suit for $15,000 for failure to protect Matthew seems within the realm of reason if Weaving is somehow correct. Yet by being found guilty in December 2008 of manslaughter and other charges, the public sentiment is clearly against Weaving. Weaving can not possibly have a valid excuse for driving at 83mph in a 45mph zone at the time of this fatal Connecticut accident. While not relevant to any finding of guilt, Weaving's driving record reveals five previous occasions where he was caught allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. (Not a sympathetic defendant by any means.)

Joanne Kenney told the press that the counter suit was compounding the original hurt. "It's a constant reminder. Enough is enough. Can you just leave us alone and serve your time?" Yet, the Kenneys are the one's who initially initiated the civil suit. While the media reports that the Kenneys are incurring legal fees, don't plaintiff's attorneys usually take such suits on a contingency basis? As for Weaving, without free legal services would he have anyone to help defend the civil suit? Connecticut allows free legal representation because he has little or no income. In his handwritten counter claim, Weaving says that had the Kenneys "complied with the responsibilities of a parent and guardian and the laws of this state and not allowed their son to ride his bicycle without a helmet ... this incident and Matthew's death would not have happened".

Clearly my sympathies and sentiments are with the Kenney family. I too would be offended that a convict was trying to deflect the blame for the death of my child. But if it is statistically proven to increase the risk of death or injury, than perhaps it is a valid counter claim. If it is not, let the court strike the counter claim. But in the mean time, the media needs to let the courts try this case and not the court of public opinion.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fishing Is Fun But Phishing Is A Crime!

"Gone Fishing!" That phrase used to trigger pleasant images and lots of smiles. Now, phishing and other Internet scams have left a bad taste in one's mouth, and I don't meant from tainted carp. Phishing is the criminally fraudulent attempt to acquire personal information such as user-names, credit card numbers and passwords by pretending to be a trustworthy person or company. Emails from potential customers, facebook, myspace, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to trick people into providing their sensitive information.
Phishing often diverts the victim to a fake website that looks legitimate. Phishing is a serious crime that needs to be punished to the full extent of the law. Until all of the con artists are rounded up and behind bars, what can a reader do to avoid becoming a victim? Arm yourself with knowledge. Read some online training information and always be aware of the potential for fraud. Many Internet providers have phishing and spam filters available. Use them!
For historical information concerning phishing see: History of phishing.

What to look for? A phisher may pose as an employee of a Internet provider. Never respond to any email or instant message that requests your password. Your Internet provider all ready knows that information and will not ask for that information. In other words, your provider does not need you to verify your account because you are already signed in on your account.

Does the IRS contact someone initially by email? Very doubtful. If you receive an email from someone purporting to be from the IRS asking for your sensitive account information, it is likely a phisher. IRS agents usually contact you by United States mail. Phishers, on the other hand, love to initiate contact by email or instant messaging.
Feel dumb because you fell for a scam? Please don't feel that you were targeted because of a lack of sophistication. Phishers don't just pick on the uneducated. In fact, many phishing attacks are often specifically directed to attorneys, senior executives, doctors and other high profile targets.

What makes it so difficult to catch these thieves? Many of the thieves are foreigners and operate through groups like the Russian Business Network. Furthermore, international domain names add to the difficulty in promptly tracing and apprehending the perpetrators.
How can you more easily recognize a fraudulent message? Anti-phishing websites such as FraudWatch International and Millersmiles publish sample phishing messages that should arose your suspicion. Also check for misspelling in any URL (web address.) Misspelled URLs are a dead give away that an impostor is at work. Fortunately, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Foxfire, and Opera present a warning for some of the suspicious web addresses. Also beware of pop up adds on legitimate site. Clicking on such a pop up directs you away from the trusted site.

Is it just computers? Con artists might alternatively direct a victim to call a phone number to correct problems with the victim's bank account. Once the victim makes the call, a computer operator or person requests that the victim enter sensitive account information. Further complicating the detection of such scam artists is that they may have a caller id imitating an authentic bank or agency.

What steps lead to better safety? Stricter legislation and improved technology will aid in the battle against phishing. Anti-phishing software is a must. However educating Internet users to recognize phishing attempts is essential if the problem is to be substantially reduced. When an Internet users is contacted about an account needing to be "verified" (or any other topic used by phishers), be cautious. Try to contact the company directly to verify any email. Be suspicious and scrutinize any hyperlink contained within the suspect message. You can try to research the suspected site or email on services such as Snopes.com.

What is the government doing? On January 26, 2004, the U.S.Federal Trade Commission sued a suspected phisher. The defendant allegedly created a web page designed to look like AOL Using the site, the California teen attempted to steal credit card information. In another case, Valdir Paulo de Almeida, was arrested in Brazil suspected of leading a large phishing crime ring. Senator Pat Leahy authored a bill in 2005 which has yet to become law. If the bill passes, fines would be up to $250,000 and prison terms could reach five years. The U.K. has an even stronger law. Fraud Act 2006.

If you are a phisher, hang up your computer and grab an old fashion fishing pole. Otherwise, you will be caught and when you are, you will be wearing stripes for a long time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Charlie Sheen Is Certainly Not Dysfunctional!

If America loves a bad boy, then Charlie Sheen is a shoe in for President. Charlie's hotel room gets torn up. Charlie's $150,000 watch goes missing. But, it's all good. The "Two and a Half Men" actor isn't concerned. Sheen's New York hotel . "If a guy has one bad night, everybody goes insane and panics," Sheen told Extra.

Sheen rationalizes the missing watch by saying, "The way I look at it -- if you have expensive tastes, you gotta be prepared for expensive losses." Sheen just finished a show and seems to be functioning at his normal level. Work. His attorney indicates that Sheen broke no laws in the hotel incident. He echos Sheen's claim that all is well in Tinsel Town. As for his personal life, Brooke Mueller will soon be Charlie's third ex-wife. The parites have been separated since the knife incident in Colorado last Christmas. Sheen has filed for
divorce and requested joint custody of the couple’s twin boys.

Sheen and Mueller married in 2008. Both have apparently sought rehab during the past year. Sheen has enjoyed full custody of his 19-month-old sons. Mueller has asked for sole physical custody of the boys along with spousal support. A property separation agreement was entered into in May of 2010. Reportedly Mueller will recieve a lump sum payment of close to a million dollars. Sheen may be required to pay Mueller 55,000 dollars a month in child support.

Yet, all is fine...

Am I the only one who is starting to think that Charlie is a natural for Washington D.C.?
Update 1-19-11: Charlie Sheen got into trouble at least once before with his wife: LINK. But things never stay the same. While he broke up with his wife, now it looks like deja vu is about to strike. Charlie and estranged wife Brooke Mueller are reportedly discussing getting back together. The Palm Beach Post. Should we all send gifts?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Can You Name The Top 10 Missing Person Cases? The Criminal Justice Degree Site Thinks It Can...

The Criminal Justice Degree site has published a new article concerning the top 10 missing person's cases. Interestingly enough, D.B. Cooper LINK and Natalee Holloway LINK, both of which were previously featured on Legal Pub, made the list. However, perhaps the most interesting case not covered by Legal Pub is that of Ambrose Bierce. Ambrose was the author of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and "The Difficulty of Crossing a Field". Bierce, while functioning as a journalist, disappeared in Mexico. He was following Pancho Villa’s forces and his fate remains unknown.

While Legal Pub has informed readers concerning recent problems in Mexico LINK, the Ambrose Bierce disappearance is truly worthy of the top ten. As a recommended read, please follow the link to the full article: http://www.criminaljusticedegreesguide.com/features/top-10-unsolved-missing-person-cases.html

Monday, November 1, 2010

Should Four Year-Old Speed Demons Be Held Accountable?

Is it ever too early to learn about our legal system? How about to learn the lesson that street racing kills? LINK. Perhaps that was the dilemma faced by Justice Paul Wooten of State Supreme Court in Manhhattan when he ruled that a six year old girl can be sued for injuring an 87 year old woman with her bicycle with training wheels. The child struck the elderly woman while racing her bicycle on a Manhattan sidewalk two years ago when she was only four. The judges's ruling indicates that the then four year old may be held accountable for negligence. The ruling did not find that the girl was liable, but merely permits the woman's estate to pursue a lawsuit against the child, another boy and their parents.

In April of 2009, Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, were playful four year-old toddlers. Now they, along with their mothers, Dana Breitman and Rachel Kohn, are litigants. How? At some point while racing down East 52nd Street, a bicylce struck 87-year-old Claire Menagh. Claire apparently suffered a hip fracture that required surgery. She died three months later of unrelated causes. The four year old was riding either a small bicycle with training wheels or a tricycle. The estate is pursuing the claim for damages presumably to recoup some of the decedent's medical costs. While such litigation may be possible, is it a good idea? Should kids even younger than four (like the one photographed above and to the right) be held responsible for "getting a little sideways?" Afterall, things can get pretty wreckless around the holidays. You be the judge... and don't forget to vote!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can Jennifer Mee Find A Hiccup In The Prosecution's Case?

Try as I might, I couldn't think of a more original defense then the caffeine defense. LINK. Then along comes Jennifer Mee. Afterall, the poor Florida Teen has a compelling story. The teen has been hiccuping nonstop since 2007. That could drive anyone a little crazy, but does that justify robbery or murder?

Recently Jennifer Mee was arrested in connection with the attempted robbery and murder of Shannon Griffin. Mee, 19, is charged with being involved in the first-degree murder of Shannon Griffin (Note Mee did not actually do the shooting.) Authorities claim that Mee invited the Shannon Griffin to a home where two other suspects ( Laron Raiford and Lamont Newton) attempted to rob him. During a struggle, Griffin, 22, was shot with a 38 caliber revolver. Jennifer Mee apparently met the victim at a social networking site. After several phone calls back and forth, a meeting was arranged. When he arrived, Jennifer apparently brought him to the rear of the home where the other two tried to rob him. During a struggle, Shannon Griffin was shot. Investigators do not believe Mee was shot him. While police have had contacts with Mee regarding domestic-related incidents, she apparently had no record.

It is theorized that Mee's attorney may blame her involvement in this incident upon all of the attention she received because of her hiccups. It is true that in 2007, Mee's non-stop hiccups earned her the nickname "Hiccup Girl." She appeared on NBC's "Today" show. She tried "sugar, peanut butter, breathing in a bag, having people scare" her, all in an attempt to rid herself of hiccups. However, it is reported that in recent time, her hiccups had vanished. If so, this may be a blow to any imaginative defense.

Even though police do not believe Mee participated in the actual shooting, Florida law considers her an accessory to the robbery that resulted in a death. If convicted, she could get life in prison. But of course, Jennefer Mee, as well as the other suspects are innocent until otherwise proven guilty. Perhaps a relapse of the hiccups might help...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A State Supreme Court Justice With A Sense of Humor?

Justice Steven David is Indiana's newest state Supreme Court Judge. The former Boone Circuit Court Judge apparently gave one of the better inaugural speeches post robing. According to the President Elect of the State Defense Bar, Justice David mixed humor, humility and emotion in just the right portions while pledging to uphold the constitution and protect justice from partisan politics. LINK. Justice David quoted Abraham Lincoln and lyrics from Kenny Chesney, Lee Brice and Toby Keith to demonstrate his gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to serve his state.

The 106th Indiana Supreme Court justice, Justice Steven David demonstrates that a rise to the top can be accomplished by following his 12 words of wisdom: “Work hard, do good, be proud, have fun and do what’s right.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Zahra Clare Baker Did Not Likely Run Off By Herself

Bret Farve faces accusations of "sexting." Had Bret regularly read Legal Pub, he might have known better. LINK. (The NFL is reviewing reports that a person alleged to be Favre sent voice mails and lewd pictures to Jenn Sterger. Deadspin apparently broke the story according to Reuters.) While the allegations may disrupt Farve's preparation for Monday Night Football, Elisa Baker, the step mom of Zahra Clare Baker, faces perhaps more serious allegations which may prevent her from controlling the T.V. remote control for an extended period of time. Zahra Claire Baker is the hearing-impaired North Carolina girl with a prosthetic leg who disappeared over the weekend. Zahra needs a prosthetic leg to walk and hearing aides to hear. Adam Baker, the girl's father, said that it was possible that his wife was involved in the disappearance. The 10-year-old girl's step mom, Elisa Baker, is currently in custody on over ten charges not related to Zahra's disappearance.

Zahra Clare Baker was last seen by Elisa Baker at 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Adam Baker, told ABC's Good Morning America, "I just hope I can get my daughter back. I miss her so much." Elisa Baker claims she last saw her stepdaughter sleeping in her bed about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. A fire was reported in the Bakers' backyard about 5 a.m. Adam admits that he didn't check on his daughter after the fire.The FBI is currently gathering surveillance video from businesses near the home. Dogs have been used to search the neighborhood.

Tom Adkins, Hickory Police Chief, says he can't rule out any suspects. Citing an ongoing investigation, the chief wouldn't elaborate on the evidence to date. Who would harm this innocent little girl? Zahra had bone cancer and uses a prosthetic left leg from the knee down. She doesn't have her hearing aids with her, so she would be in total silence. The step mom, Elisa faces charges which include making threats, writing bad checks, larceny and driving with a revoked license. While not the resume of a model citizen, police have yet to reveal anything in Elisa Baker's background which would lead one to foresee that she might harm her stepdaughter.

Elisa Baker, as is any other suspect, is to be presumed innocent unless otherwise proven in a court of law. Meanwhile, the AMBER ALERT continues.
Update 1-3-11: Zahra Baker was found dismembered in Caldwell County. The step mom, Elisa Baker, was charged in October with Obstruction of Justice and remains in custody with a $90,000 bond. The charge arises from a fake ransom note discovered the day Zahra Baker was reported missing. Tuesday's hearing is expected to include an indictment on the Obstruction of Justice charge and a possible bond reduction motion. Elisa Baker's attorneys believe she deserves a bond reduction for leading authorities to Zahra's body. WBTV. The grand jury met Monday to discuss new charges against Elisa Baker. WRAL-TV reports a grand jury met Monday to discuss new charges against Elisa Baker.
Update 1-4-11: Farve should have retired last year and faded into the sunset without all of the drama. His playboy image may have played a role in his most recent legal troubles. For those who live in a cave, Farve is now being sued for sexual harassment by Christina Scavo and Shannon O'Toole, two massage therapists, who worked for the Jets in 2008. The Jets are also named defendants. Favre allegedly propositioned them and requested a threesome. Scavo says she turned Favre down and had her husband call him to demand an apology. Subsequently, she was allegedly fired. Favre allegedly sent an unidentified woman a text reading, "Brett here, you and Crissy want to get together, I'm all alone," and sent another message that said, "Kinda lonely tonight, I guess I have bad intentions." O'Toole also claims that she lost her position as a Jets massage therapist after Farve's advances.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Camp Jr. Caught Thinking With The Wrong Head? ~by Legal Pub

Judges aren't perfect. They can be accused of improper conduct and even impeached. Judge Thomas Porteous. Of course allegations are not limited to domestic officers of the court as allegations of misconduct can occur anywhere. LINK . Judges can even be accused of falling in love. Judge Verla Sue Holland. However, this next story has all the hooks, guns, drugs, prostitution, undercover agents and sex. Get an extra shot of java and prepare for factual allegations that are better than any drama seen on public television.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Camp Jr., a federal judge in Georgia, has been arrested on drug and weapons charges. Federal agents say the suspender wearing judge has more than love stains on his chin. The judge is accused of buying drugs for a stripper from the Goldrush Showbar in Atlanta with whom he was having an affair. And during the alleged transaction, the judge was apparently packing heat.

The official charges are possession of cocaine, marijuana and Roxicodone (pain pill). In addition, the judge is charged with possessing a firearm as an unlawful user of controlled substances and with aiding and abetting the possession of drugs by the stripper. (The woman has a prior drug conviction.) So just how did this presumably intelligent judge get caught falling to the lowest common denominator? Federal agents said he fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. He bought drugs from an undercover agent. (Not to be confused with being a client of the oldest profession in the books which also apparently played a major role in his arrest.)

Judge Camp appeared Monday in a federal court in Atlanta. He posted $50,000 bond and was accordingly released. As a result of Camp's arrest, the district's federal judges all recused themselves. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody of Alabama was brought in to hear the case. Federal prosecutors from Washington will handle the government's case. Camp has retained four defense attorneys. Putting aside the procedural issues and anticipated legal wrangling, a lingering question is whether it was an affair or whether it was strictly business. According to the charges, it is alleged that Judge Camp had been paying the stripper for sex since the past spring. It is also alleged that Judge Camp was fronting the woman money to buy drugs. Why?
The 67 year-old Camp's background is not helpful in determining a motive. (The former chief judge for the northern district of Georgia was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Camp took senior status in 2008. Camp has handled many high profile cases. In 2004, he sentenced two men convicted of killing DeKalb County Sheriff Derwin Brown to life in prison without parole. He has presided over litigation concerning Georgia's request that new voters to prove their identities and citizenship before voting. In May 2009, Camp sentenced the personal doctor of a professional wrestler who killed himself, his wife and their 7-year-old son concerning prescription related charges.) So what might motivate Camp to buy drugs for a stripper?

Keeping in mind these are only allegations against the judge, one must dig deeper for a possible motive and or a defense. Camp is ably represented by lead attorney Bill Morrison and one can only presume he knows his case better than us. But the Judge's actions appear to go beyond an abuse of his position. Clearly, he got into trouble when he committed the inconsiderate offense of cheating on his spouse. After all, Judge Camp is a married man. While perhaps immoral, that was not a crime. Perhaps after the fact he considered the effect of his behavior on his family.Was he trying to protect his family from the publicity his conduct would generate? So far his spouse has remained silent but Camps lawyers claim she is supporting him.
What of the other woman? While the dancer's name does not appear in court papers, she has not been at a loss for words. She had a prior federal felony conviction on her record so her identity is not all that secret. Since she is cooperating with the FBI, they might not like the public knowing her identity. And for the sentimental romantics who think this is a remake of Pretty Woman, think again before you blame the FBI for turning the Judge's alleged lover against him. Little miss professional was apparently recording the judge even before she officially became an informant. If true, a juror might question what she originally had in mind with regard to the recordings. Would the judge have paid money or even bought drugs for this woman in order to avoid the tapes from becoming public?

The woman allegedly has been promised immunity from prosecution. That in and of itself does not make her bias. But the early recordings might make a juror scratch her head wondering whether this weak pitiful excuse for a man was "set up." When Camp bought drugs from an undercover agent, he was allegedly in possession of two pistols because he was in fear of the participants in the transaction. Apparently three transactions took place where Camp was apparently armed. The deal apparently went down in the parking lot of a suburban Atlanta nightclub, an appropriate place for terminating not only a judiciary career but perhaps also a marriage.
Update 12-3-10: Judge Jack Camp pled guilty last month to buying drugs for a stripper. U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yate's office is investigating whether any of the cases Judge Camp handled were influenced by the use of drugs or racial bias. Any defendant may request resentencing in any case handled by Judge Camp from May of 2010 to the present.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dad's Gone Wild Or Justifiable Parenting?

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to be a dad. Sometimes doing the right thing is not as clear as perhaps it was a few years ago. We know that a parent can go to far in protecting their child. LINK. A more recent example, a San Jose, California police officer is under investigation after he allegedly handcuffed the 15-year-old boyfriend of his 14 year-old stepdaughter because he allegedly had sex with her. The father was off-duty when he appeared at the teenager's home in full uniform. "A cop's daughter is not somebody you mess around with," the officer allegedly told the teen. (So far apparently a true statement.) Next he allegedly said, "the district attorney will probably file charges." (Apparently not a true statement due to the closeness in age of the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim. However, both teens may be cited for underage sex according to Mercury News. So, perhaps still true.)

After removing the handcuffs, the officer admitted to the boy's parents that he just wanted to scare the youth. Apparently the incident was recorded by cell phone. San Jose Mercury News.
Attorney Terry Bowman, told local reporters that his client was doing the boy's parents a favor so he "doesn't continue to go down the wrong path." Apparently the boy's parents disagree since they reported the incident to internal affairs. The officer has been put on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Tony Boskovich, an attorney representing the boy's family, questioned, "What right does he have to use his uniform, his gun, his handcuffs if all he is is a dad?" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/. Probably none, Tony. But query, just what is a father to do when he feels his child is being victimized? Certainly not to beat the teen like might have happened in past generations. Nor can a dad apparently use threatening words as illustrated below with James Jones' mistake.

James Jones was the father who went onto a school bus and threatened to hurt the school bullies that were harassing his special needs daughter. After the incident was caught on video, school officials contacted the law enforcement. Jones was arrested. Jones apologized for his actions and admitted it was the wrong thing to do. But this father snapped because, "My daughter is not going to be hazed and beat up and touched on like what they've done, okay." Jones' attorney, Sadiki Alexander, said the father of two was simply trying to protect his child. Jones later went on t.v. and advocated that a better way to handle the problem would have been to work with the school authorities to stop the harassment. While police investigate the alleged 7th grade bullies, are they free to scare them straight or must it be all fluff and pampering?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Real Life Murder Mysteries V. Novels

On a recent auto trip I had occasion to listen to an audiotape reading of "To Kill A Mocking Bird" which is classified as one of the best books of all time. It caused me to ponder whether real life murder mysteries such as April Tinsley, Haleigh Cummings, and Caylee Anthony are simply not entertaining enough for some folks. Apparently in a search to avoid boredom, some readers apparently turn to murder mystery novels. First as a law student and then as a lawyer required to consume large volumes of verbose briefs and legal submissions, it is easy to appreciate the need to be efficient in selecting what to read in one's leisure. To help aid readers in efficiently finding some good books, Law Enforcement Schools has an article entitled "10 Good Murder Mysteries to get Your Hands On." The list can be found at this LINK.
Please feel free to share other novels that you recommend in the comments. As the first donation to the list, I suggest reading the murder story described in the "Good Book" pictured above!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A New Criminal Defense Of Caffeine Induced Insanity?

Play the insanity card! Play the race card! But play the caffeine intoxication card? Now I've seen everything. Woody Will Smith, a 33 year-old Kentucky man, is on trial for murder. Woody, a father of two, is accused of murdering his wife, Amanda, in 2009. His defense? He was so jacked up on caffeine (coffee, diet pills and energy drinks) that he was too insane to have consciously, intentionally strangled his wife. Smith claims he was delusional from chronic insomnia and fear that his wife would leave him.

Defense expert Dr. Robert Noelker indicates that the defendant dropped his children off at school "in a daze." Dr. Noelker opines: "It is my opinion that this disorder was the direct result of psychosis due to severe insomnia." Associated Press.

The American Psychiatric Association classifies a caffeine overdose as an excess of 300 milligrams -- around nine cans of Coke, four Red Bulls or three Starbucks tazo chai lattes. Mayo Clinic's. Smith allegedly consumed 400 mg of caffeine on the day of the murder. However, the state claims that blood tests do not support the defense. This is not much different than Dan White's claims that a junk food consumption was evidence of his depression which was to blame for his 1978 assassination of California politician Harvey Milk. (See HBO movie.) In 2009 Daniel Noble blamed a caffeine high in successfully defending a claim that he intentionally ran down several pedestrians in his car

Can a caffeine high lead to temporary insanity? While I have not asked him, I suspect that toxicologists like Richard Church would opine that one is more likely to vomit than become a homicidal maniac from an extra cup of coffee or two.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Judge Thomas Porteous Jr. Faces Impeachment In the Senate

Judges are not beyond scrutiny. Nor are they beyond making mistake. They are suppose to be beyond corruption and lying under oath. Today, the U.S. Senate begins the impeachment trial of federal judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. The judge is accused of corruption, accepting kick backs and lying about his past to the Senate and FBI regarding his nomination. Some say the judge is getting screwed. Others say he is not. Keep in mind, this is the first impeachment trial since President Bill Clinton's trial in 1999. (And we all know how that one turned out.. oral sex is not sex.)

In March, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to impeach Porteous. Porteous is the nation's 15th federal judge to be impeached. Porteous is accused of "intentionally made material false statements and representations under penalty of perjury, engaged in a corrupt kickback scheme, solicited and accepted unlawful gifts, and intentionally misled the Senate during his confirmation proceedings." According to U. S. Rep Adam Schiff, the House investigation "... found that Judge Porteous participated in a pattern of corrupt conduct for years."

Previously, Porteous' lawyer Richard W. Westling said the Justice Department had decided not to prosecute because it did not have credible evidence. The House, however, has decided otherwise. No criminal charges are pending. Among the issues the Senate must address is whether the judge failed to recuse himself from a case he was involved in and whether he made false and misleading statements, including concealing debts and gambling losses.

Porteous, 63, has not been on the bench since he was suspended with pay in the fall of 2008.Impeachment of judges is not unprecedented. Last year, Judge Samuel B. Kent of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas resigned after being impeached on charges of sexual assault, obstructing and impeding an official proceeding and making false and misleading statements. The Senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, dismissed the articles.
In 1989, Judge Walter L. Nixon of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi was impeached on charges of perjury before a federal grand jury. The Senate convicted him and removed him from office. What will happen to Porteous? Presumably justice and not a new definition for "failing to tell the truth."
9-23-10 Update: It is hard not to love Kate. She is always very complimentary of Legal Pub articles and the comments. Here is Kate's recent comment along with a links to some interesting opinions on Judge Porteous, Jr.
"Hi Legal Pub guys, I just saw your post about Judge Thomas Porteous’ Senate impeachment trial. I agree with you in that corrupt conduct should not be tolerated in office if the general public ever hopes to get a fair trial. Thanks for pointing out his debts and gambling losses--I hadn’t heard that, and it seems that not too many people are talking that up in the media. I wonder how much his personal life was affecting his ability to do his federal job. I wanted to share a video with you from Newsy.com that I thought you might find relevant to your post. It takes a look at much of the recent coverage from multiple sources regarding the Porteous case. However, it also raises the question about whether the trial is just the Senate’s attempt to save face because of their previous knowledge of the allegations, or if it’s true purpose is to serve justice: LINK.
I think that you and your readers will find this very relevant and hope you might consider embedding this video in your blog. Thanks so much for your time. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments."
Update 12-8-10: U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. was found guilty on four articles of impeachment by the U.S. Senate. He was thereby removed from his lifetime appointment to the federal bench in Louisiana. Impeachment also denies him the right to recieve a federal pension. Porteous, 63, is the eighth judge in American history to be removed from office by the Senate.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peterson's Remains Identified!

Headlines streamed across the prompter that Peterson's body had been positively identified. An instant, but incorrect thought, was that it was the body of Stacy Peterson. But it wasn't. It was Patricia Peterson, a 24 year old Mesa woman, who went missing nearly four years ago. Patricia Peterson is believed to be one of more than 500 victims in a series of unsolved highway serial murders.Patricia disappeared in November 2006 after being seen hitchhiking at a truck stop in Tulsa, Okla. In 2009, skeletal remains were found along I-40 near Lupton, Ariz.The victim had no identification and was listed as a "Jane Doe." The medical examiner concluded that the woman had been beaten to death. KPHO News

Only last month was a positive identification made by DNA. No suspects or people of interest have been named.The FBI has taken over the investigation into Peterson's homicide. The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation suspected murdered women's bodies were being dumped along the Interstate 40 corridor in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi during the past 30 years. Not even the radical Drew Peterson haters can try to blame Drew for those cases...
Update 9-13-10: Drew Peterson coverage can be found at: http://legalpublication.blogspot.com/2008/05/legal-pub-is-firm-believer-in-our.html

Friday, September 3, 2010

Crime Does Not Pay! ~Legal Eagle 7

Todd Jensen has written an article about ten criminals who can't be all that bright. It is a good read at: http://www.forensiccolleges.net/blog/2010/10-criminals-dumber-than-the-crime/

A favorite story involves Jeff Rarey. For those of you with Alzheimer's disease or simply experiencing a senior moment, Rarey is the 54 year old genius who told security at Indianapolis Airport that he had “a big bomb in his belly.” Rarey was not referring to a real bomb. He was joking about a Cinnabon and pizza he had eaten. But unlike the staff of Legal Pub, Indianapolis security didn’t think it was too funny. Jeff Rarey was arrested on a charge of false reporting. We all hope you enjoy the link.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Go to Jail For Loved Ones Or Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ~by Jay

Priorities? Obsession? No matter what label is given, it must be a difficult choice for some. Give up your pets or go to jail that is the ultimatum Wanda Moran, a Silver Grove Kentucky woman, must face. Is it really worth going to jail rather than give up one's pets? Wanda Moran has six dogs that she refers to as "family." She keeps her companions inside her home on East First Street at night. However, her companions roam her back yard during the day. As one might imagine, the dogs sometimes bark which apparently disturbs the local customer gossip at a nearby dairy bar.

A Silver Grove regulation indicates that a residence is limited to two dogs. Some question how fair that ordinance can be since a Kentucky resident can marry more than one cousin and have as many offspring as they want. As such, family reunions can create a whole heck of lot more disturbance than a few barking dogs. So authorities are faced with the dilemma of forcing Wanda to give up four of her canine family members or simply tell the rest of Silver Grove to just let sleeping dogs lie. Next week, Silver Grove will perhaps address the growing problem of too many rabbits within city limits.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are Social Networking Sites A Threat To One's Health?

Putting your life story on a social network is like shouting out your life story in the middle of Times Square. It is not a lot different than passing out your autobiography and resume to everyone at the mall. Is there a real danger in losing one's privacy in this modern era? Many think the dangers of spending so much time on the Internet are greater than simply the health risks of sitting on your butt for hours at a time. Some go so far as to suggest that Facebook and other social networking sites are truly dangerous because they can become tools to facilitate crime, even murder. Is there any evidence to back up such claims? The parents of three Colombian teens may thinks so...

Let's go back a few weeks. Three Colombian teenagers names appeared on a "hit list" posted to Facebook. Subsequently all three were fatally shot. International Reports. The identity of the murder remains a mystery. Even more troublesome is that the author of the list remains unknown. There are rumors that the victims may have had ties to drug gangs. Colombian news suggests the hits might somehow be related to a gang known as the Los Rastrojos ("The Stubble.") Los Rastrojos is rumored to be "one of the most powerful neo-paramilitary drug organizations" in Colombia. The gang has a reputation for making and following through on death threats.

However, others suggest that the hit list and murders are attributable to other rival paramilitary groups. What is known is that on Aug. 15, 16-year-old Diego Ferney Jaramillo and 17-year-old Eibart Alejandro Ruiz Munoz were shot and killed while riding a motorcycle. CNN. The hit list was published on Aug. 17, containing 69 names of local young men, including the two young men that were killed. The list warned: "Get out of town within three days or suffer the same fate as the victims." Facebook subsequently blocked the site. However, on August 20th, 19-year-old Norbey Alexander Vargas was fatally gunned down. His 16-year-old friend, Juan Pablo Zambrano Anacona was also wounded in the incident.

Hate lists have become all too common on social networking sites. Facebook threats. Yet little is typically done about them. In the instant case, no arrests have been made. No suspects have been named. Parents are rightfully concerned. Yet Facebook has remained quiet on the issue. Should Facebook and other sites be banned? Probably not. However, Facebook should make a commitment to do a better job of policing its site and reporting "hate lists" to the appropriate authorities. After all, an owner of a store typically has a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its invitees, so why should the same duty not be extended to a social networking site?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Does Shaquan Duley Give Us Pause To Ponder When Should A Bystander Act?

You may have heard it before. If you did, you probably didn't think it was a real threat and it probably wasn't. "You make me so mad I could just ... shake/ hit/ drown/ etc./ (fill in the blank) you!" When does such a statement become a legitimate threat? Did Shaquan Duley ever make any statements that might foreshadow the future death of her two toddlers?

Duley's two children were found dead in a submerged car. Both infants were still strapped into their car seats. Duley allegedly has confessed to suffocating the children before she drove her car into a South Carolina river. While at first blush it could have been an accident, Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams told reporters that Shaquan Duley admitted she staged the accident.

Shaquan Duley's alleged confession has lead to murder charges. The motive behind the alleged suffocation is not clear. However, Duley apparently became upset after arguing with her mother. This may have led Duley to cover her children's mouths with her hand. She then is charged with driving her car into the North Edisto River. "The Early Show." The bodies of Devean C. Duley, 2, and Ja'van T. Duley, 18 months, were both pulled from the river on Monday. Originally Duley claimed it had been an accident. However, she allegedly recanted the claim that it was an accident. Car submerged, boys drowned in car, children suffocated

So did Shaquan Duley ever say anything to foreshadow this tragedy? Nothing has been reported at this time. But keep this story in mind the next time you hear such words and then see if you react any differently? Take a recent example in today's news. Was a Southwest Airlines flight attendant on a flight from Dallas to Albuquerque thinking about this story when she reportedly took away a baby from its parents after the mother allegedly slapped the infant? Flying the friendly skies. The flight attendant later returned the 1-year-old child to its parents. However, at the airport the parents were apparently greeted by police. Apparently there were no signs of abuse and no charges were filed. But tragedies in the news may lead one to ponder when it is appropriate to intervene.