Thursday, May 01, 2003
The Sodomy Tour
Seattle-based writer David Schmader has penned a thoughtful and funny piece describing his recent tour through the four states with same-sex sodomy proscriptions that are at issue in Lawrence v. Texas. I especially enjoy this article because it is written by a non-lawyer and makes you think about the chasm between what people do in their real lives and what the Supreme Court may or may not decide. It's good. It's funny. Give it a read.
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
How Are You Celebrating the One-Year Anniversary of How Appealing?
Here at The Academy, we are pleased to announce that we will be posting uber-blawgger Howard Bashman's answers to our 20 Questions on Tuesday, May 6, by noon EST. We have chosen May 6 because it marks the first birthday of How Appealing, the website that gives every law dork all the info we need to get through a day and to show others how incredibly in the know we are. Seriously, without Howard you would not be reading this right now. We are in his debt and we look forward to his answers to our piercing questions with eager anticipation. Although we agreed to 20 Questions, some of them are (admittedly) compound questions, so you can expect lots of info about Howard -- including (we hope) a detailed explanation of How He Does It. That, I'm sure my fellow demi-blawggers agree, is the most remarkable thing about How Appealing. Like my local TV news van always promises, he's there first, he's there live, and he brings you what you need to know. Plus, he's got interesting tastes in music for a 38 year old guy.
For those readers who think this is just a cheap ploy to get a bigger audience, we say: No Comment.
Forget Brooklyn the school, Geraldo's alma mater. As this article describes, Brooklyn the borough is doing a good job of portraying our profession in a bad light, even without the substantial helping hand of reality television.
I'd Beat My Chest, Jay, But....
frankly, I'm premenstrual and the boobs are a bit tender just now. I can't believe that article. That's one of those articles you pray is from The Onion, but you know in your heart is not.
Excuse me, please, while I beat my chest
Who picked this Jay Garner guy? No wait. I think I can answer that. He's clearly a Bushie.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The retired general overseeing Iraq's postwar reconstruction said on Wednesday that his fellow Americans should beat their chests with pride at having toppled Saddam Hussein without destroying the country's assets.
"We ought to be beating our chests every day. We ought to look in a mirror and get proud and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say: 'Damn, we're Americans!'," Jay Garner told reporters, saying that Iraq's oil fields and other infrastructure survived the war almost intact.
Garner, who was speaking after talks with visiting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Baghdad, took the media to task for emphasizing anti-American demonstrations and dissent in the wake of the three-week U.S. led war that deposed Saddam.
His comments came after U.S. troops opened fire for the second time this week on an angry crowd protesting against the U.S. presence in the town of Falluja, west of Baghdad. Iraqi hospital officials said two men were killed in the latest incident. At least 13 died in shooting on Monday, they said.
Garner said the war was fought in a way that prevented Saddam's forces from setting fire to its oilfields and had largely preserved Iraq's infrastructure intact:
"I was planning on the oilfields being torched, a huge humanitarian crisis and a monumental reconstruction task, " he said.
"There is no humanitarian crisis ... and there's not much infrastructure problem here, other than getting the electrical grid structure back together."
The situation in Baghdad was improving every day and power had been restored to about half of the city, he said.
The U.S. military is increasing its presence in the Iraqi capital to boost security and help in wiping out pockets of resistance from diehard Saddam supporters.
You learn something new every day
I tried really hard to avoid Joe Millionaire . . . but failed. I got suckered in for the last two episodes. In that brief time, though, I feel that I became familiar with Sarah. And I think she has made a good decision in accepting Playboy's offer. She will undoubtedly end up with more cash than the "bookish" Zora.
But, I'm a bit confused. The article mindse linked to said that Sarah did the bondage films to make money for law school. Does that mean she's a lawyer now?
I would like to point out a trend in the reality shows this season. We have Sarah Kozer, who was at least a law student. We have blue-masked Brian (rejected this week by Hayley on Mr. Personality), who is a criminal defense lawyer. And we have Kimberly Locke (American Idol finalist still in the running), who is on leave from law school. Hmmm.
Given that I and several of my fellow Academians attended Brooklyn Law School (alma mater of Geraldo), I feel a little odd saying this, but I think reality tv is managing to portray our profession in a worse light than ever.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
When We Last Saw Sarah Kozer....
....she had been dusted by celebrated meathead Evan Marriott in favor of the peculiarly shy Zora Andrich. We knew that the former bondage model would be heard from again, though. And now, her time has come. After twice rebuffing Playboy's offers to appear in a pictorial, Kozer has now agreed to appear in the June issue as long as it does not involve frontal nudity. By way of explaining her modesty, Kozer says that she was a women's studies major.
This modesty is late in coming, as anyone who listened in on the unzipping and slurping in the French woods can tell you.
Monday, April 28, 2003
The Amber Alert Bill
On NPR today, you can hear a story recounting the reactions of some federal judges to the sentencing provision in the Amber Alert bill. (To hear the story online, click on "NPR News" in the right-hand column and then click on the story title about half-way down the page.) You can also hear the Montana U.S. Attorney explain that the purpose of the bill is not to undermine judicial independence, but is instead to ensure "compliance" with the Sentencing Guidelines. Congressman Tom Feeney, the amendment's author, also chimes in, using the word "liberal" about forty times by my count.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Lawrence v. Texas
Frequent readers will remember that I wondered why Harris County District Attorney, Charles Rosenthal, argued for the state when the above-captioned case came before the United States Supreme Court. I had thought that the state's Attorney General would take on the task.
Turns out, as is often the case with Texas, there was some fussin' and-a feudin' about this sort of thing. John Cornyn, the former attorney general, took a position contrary to a local district attorney in a brief filed to the U.S. Supreme Court a few years ago. Then, when the DA squawked, the AG up and tried to get a law passed that gave him the sole authority to argue criminal cases from Texas heard up in Washington, D.C. But, that didn't work out, as this December 23, 2002 editorial from Texas Lawyer explains:
by John Bradley
The single most significant development in criminal law in 2002 was an appellate decision that resolved a constitutional standoff involving a district attorney, the Texas Office of the Attorney General, the Texas Legislature, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. In Saldano v. State, the Court of Criminal Appeals on March 13 stopped the AG from encroaching on the constitutional duty of elected prosecutors to represent the state in criminal matters.
In 1999, the CCA affirmed, in an unpublished opinion, the death penalty verdict against Victor Saldano. His appellate attorney argued that the punishment hearing had been tainted by allegedly inadmissible evidence. The court did not reach that issue because Saldano's trial lawyer had not objected to the evidence and, instead, had vigorously attacked its reliability through cross-examination and the presentation of contradicting expert testimony.
Saldano then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing admission of the evidence was fundamental error. To the surprise of the district attorney who had been defending the jury verdict, then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn stepped in and disagreed. Cornyn notified the Supreme Court that Texas was confessing error, despite contrary rules of evidence and long-standing case law. Faced with the confession of error, the Supreme Court vacated the decision and remanded it for reconsideration by the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Meanwhile, the AG boldly went to the Legislature seeking passage of a law that expressly gave his office sole control over litigation of criminal matters in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Legislature heard strong testimony from elected prosecutors, explaining and defending their state constitutional duty to control such litigation, and no bill was passed.
Subsequently, in an opinion on remand written by Judge Paul Womack, the Court of Criminal Appeals skillfully traced the same Texas constitutional history presented in testimony to the Texas Legislature and noted the "deliberately 'fractured' nature of Texas government." With great authority, the court confirmed that local elected prosecutors control criminal actions; the AG's office never has had authority to institute a criminal action; and the attorney general may enter a criminal action and provide advice, including the appeal of a case to the U.S. Supreme Court, only upon request of a local elected prosecutor.
The decision in Saldano preserved our special local-control preference for criminal prosecution and restored the wise separation of powers that has existed since 1876 in our state constitution. Elected prosecutors and their assistants easily recognize the decision as the most significant development in criminal law for 2002.
So, any conjecture on my part about the AG being too embarassed to argue the sodomy law was unfounded. Rosenthal, as the local elected prosecutor, had a constitutional duty to go up ther and get raked over the coals. I wonder if it was a violation of the Texas constitution to let Justice Scalia argue the case for him?