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.