Monday, October 22, 2001

The publishing home of a number of tabloids, where a worker contracted a fatal case of Anthrax is being tested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The American Media Inc.'s offices were granted superfund status by the EPA. This designation allows the federal government to pay for the decontamination costs of the building in Boca Raton, Florida.
Bioterrorism is forcing us to examine a number of issues in the laws today. We're examining patents, governmental purchases, and the powers of federal agencies dealing with drugs and illness in considerable detail. Some recent stories in the media cover the range of these issues:

High Cipro Prices Bring Drug Patent Issue Home

US Law Would Allow Generic Cipro in Crisis-Experts

U.S. requesting 300M smallpox vaccines

Ammo for the War on Germs

Two of the agencies that are at the heart of our well being have presences on the net were you can learn more about measures being taken to protect us from germ warfare:

The Center for Disease Control has a page on Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response

The Food and Drug Administration covers some interesting information about bioterrorism, buying medicines online, and antibiotic resistance.
Perjury in the Courtroom, when will it end? It is an all too common occurrence for litigants to lie, while under oath, in Family Court trials. And when clear documentation is then presented to refute this lie, it is very uncommon for any consequence to befall the perjurer. Is it because everyone in the courtroom has a different job description, none of which includes prosecuting the crime of perjury? Is it because Family Court is such a pit of misery, that we just want to get this case behind us and go home?

A person is guilty of perjury in the first degree when the person swears falsely and when the false statement consists of testimony and is material to the action, proceeding or matter in which it is made. Perjury in the first degree is a class D felony.

The law sets forth this crime, and yet it is largely ignored. And in ignoring this crime, we participate in the degrading of the integrity of the system of laws, and the confidence of the populace in our courts. I for one, hereby pledge, to personally file a criminal complaint the next time I am a witness to this variety of felony. Will anyone join me?

Thursday, October 18, 2001

The United States Department of Justice has made changes to the policies that they follow for Freedom of Information Act Requests. A memo from Attorney General John Ashcroft has been sent out to the executive branch agencies, making changes to a policy that had been in effect since Octobler of 1993. It's not unusual for a new Attorney General to make changes to the way that the executive branch responds to requests for information. It appears to be a bit of a tradition - something that happens normally in a new administration. This one seems to replace a "foreseeable harm" standard with a "sound legal basis" standard, but doesn't create any new substantive or procedural rights.
Vice Chancellor Jack B. Jacobs was selected as this year's recipient of the Chief Justice's Annual Award for Outstanding Judicial Service. Delaware's Chancery Court is well known for the opinions that come from its judicial officers, and Vice Chancellor Jacobs has been recognized nationwide for adding to the excellent reputation that the Court has earned.
An entry yesterday mentioned virtual shareholder's meetings for Delaware corporations. It appears that Washington might be considering some of the advantages of having a dedicated highspeed intranet to use in case of emergencies. An article on virtual leadership describes how President Bush met a few days ago with Cisco CEO John Chambers to discuss how broadband can be used to help the economy, and to consider the possibility of convening congress by teleconference during times of emergency, if necessary.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

A Delaware law that entered into Delaware's General Corporate Law last year is finally starting to get some attention on a national level. It appears that Oracle is considering holding their next shareholder's meeting electronically, for reasons dealing with security and costs. Other tech companies are also considering using virtual shareholders meetings as a means of saving on the costs of travel and security. Will something be lost in the move from a face-to-face confrontation with a CEO or other shareholders? Perhaps only time, and litigation, will tell. With more people concerned about security these days, the use of this statute may be seen by many as an improvement to the previous requirement for live and in-person meetings.
On Tuesday, a U.S. Federal District Court upheld the ownership of a gun as a Constitutional Right. There had been some argument in federal courts that this right was restricted to ownership of a gun when part of a state militia. The District Court which oversees Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi decided differently yesterday.
One of the purposes of the federal government is to allow states to govern themselves in harmony with states that surround them. Or, to at least provide a forum where issues that affect more than one state can be addressed. But sometimes cooperation is more appropriately addressed by the use of an agency created through mutual efforts by more than one state. One example might be the attempt to reduce water pollution in the Great Lakes region. Eight states and Canada are involved in the Great Lakes information Network for just that very purpose. Cooperative efforts between states can often be achieved without having to resort to the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate. Here are a number of other multi-state organizations:

Appalachian Regional Commission

Delaware River Basin Commission

Great Lakes Commission (multi-state and multi-national)

Multistate Tax Commission (45 member states, but not Delaware)

Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments

Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor

A much bigger list is present on the pages of the Council of States Governments. They have compiled a list of 193 interstate compacts believed to been in effect in 2001.

One of the multi-state agencies that Delaware is involved in is the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which oversees the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Cape May Ferry, and small airports in both States. One of the difficulties of an agency like this one is that there are often questions of how they should be policed. The Authority's Board will be considering proposals from Ruth Ann Minner, Delaware's Governor, later this week on subjects such as employee whistleblower protection and greater monitoring of the board's spending.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

The U.S. Department of State is the office responsible for issuing passports in the United States. They have a number of dated, but still helpful publications describing other nations' customs, currency, health issues, drug laws, politics, and other things you might consider before you travel abroad.

The Canada Passport Office has an interesting article online about the history of passports. It offers some insightful information about the relationship between Canada and the United States, as it describes the history of the regulation of movement between the countries.

In addition to being a source of information about international history, individual passport applications can be used as a method of finding out more about your family's personal history. The National Archives and Records Administration describes how passport applications can be a tremendous source of genealogical information, and the types of information that they can disclose.
The arctic bridge between continents can be a bridge between people and a unifying step forward in U.S. – Russian relations. Progress is being made towards a collaborative sea park in the Bering Strait, thanks to a new Russian Governor.
The airline industry is trying to bounce back, and airlines are offering very low rates for travel. Before you pack, and head out to the airport, be sure to check with U.S. Customs to acquaint yourself with current regulations and travel tips. Some other information and updates on air travel can be found on the pages of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Monday, October 15, 2001

The Delaware Secretary of State – Division of Corporations Executive Strategic Planning Conference was held on October 10, 11, and 12. It was an informative conference which continues to foster a cooperative and productive partnership between the State of Delaware and the private Registered Agent firms. This process is key in furthering Delaware as the premier environment for corporations.

As part of the closing statements, on October 12th, Secretary of State Dr. Harriet Smith Windsor related her experience at a national gathering of Secretaries of State in which it was quite evident that Delaware’s Division of Corporations was the envy of the other states. “They’re all wannabes,” Secretary Windsor quipped. The Strategic Planning Conference was successful in making plans to keep Delaware in the forefront of incorporating jurisdictions, for the foreseeable future.

Friday, October 12, 2001

New Anti Terrorism Bill

A new anti-terrorism bill was passed by the House of Representatives today. Delaware Republican Mike Castle attempted to amend the bill to change one of its controversial aspects, which limits internet gambling, but while he was able to rouse some non-partisan support, his amendment was voted down 25 - 37. Castle explained his amendment by saying: "My concern is we're imposing an obligation on financial companies to check virtually all of their statements, especially customers who deal with websites."

Apple and HP have modified their stances regarding a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) proposal which would include patents within the standards used to build the web. While both were involved in the writing of the new policies, the companies have now submitted statements to the W3C asking to retain royalty free standards, after an avalanche of comments from the public regarding the proposals.

Thursday, October 11, 2001


Concerned about getting the news straight from the horse's mouth? The Defenselink News Today page can keep you on top of press releases from the Department of Defense.

A new copyright bill is headed towards the District of Columbia. There's confusion as to the required “certified security technologies” aspects of the law, and if they will burden the use of programming languages that aren't created by large corporations such as perl, python, etc.

Daniel L. Herrmann Courthouse

The Daniel L. Herrmann Courthouse has less than a year left to act as an integral part of the Delaware judicial system. Superior Court, Chancery Court, and the Court of Common Pleas are all moving from the Herrmann Courthouse into a new building along with Family Court, in the Summer of 2002. A good number of pictures of the putting together their new home - the New Castle County Courthouse are online.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

From the "unsafe at any speed" department comes an expose from the archives of Mother Jones. The story of a coverup regarding a Ford Motor Company car saw light in 1977. In Pinto Madness, secret documents are described which show that Ford was aware of a risk that would result in hundreds of people burning to death. A friend had one of these cars, until it spontaneously combusted in a parking lot in Newark, Delaware a few years back. Makes you think about some of the recalls we've been seeing with tires lately.

A different look at preserving archives of past artistic and literary works can be found in an essay called Copy Protection Robs The Future.

If you've never read the Clue Train Manifesto, and you're running your own business, but not reaching out to customers on the internet, you might want to spend some time perusing the 95 Theses of the manifesto. At least one of them will give you an idea or two about how you might want to conduct business differently.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

One of the most important political commentators of the twentieth century passed away yesterday, October 8th. The man who coined the term “McCarthyism” also caused two presidents to cancel their subscriptions to the Washington Post. He won three Pulitzer Prizes and shared a fourth one. His work was displayed in the collection of the National Gallery of Art. Bill Clinton honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, even though he once drew a picture of Clinton walking along a tightrope with the budget balanced on one finger and an attractive young woman on the other. Herbert L. Block, better known as Herblock will be missed.

There’s been a lot of press on the proposed PATRIOT Act lately, and a lot of concern about what it might mean to legal immigrants. One perspective on the bill, from Findlaw’s Legal Writ pages examines the subject in more detail in an article from Anita Ramasastry, about How The Patriot Act Will Disrupt Many Lawful Immigrants’ Lives.

What kind of Robot are you? Take this test from and find out.

Delaware’s Attorney General’s election looms on the horizon. Incumbent Jane Brady may be facing a plenty stiff challenge in Carl Schnee who is a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware. While there has not been an official announcement, all indications are that he will challenge Brady for the post.

Monday, October 08, 2001

Do you have a hard time saying, or even thinking about, dimpled chads? Concerned about the possibility of someday voting online? The University of Georgia is working on a Next Generation Voting System research project.

Delaware Federal Bankruptcy cases are being returned to the Bankruptcy Court. Delaware is a popular forum for the filing of bankruptcy cases. Recently, it's been too popular, and the Bankruptcy Court Judges have been given a helping hand from District Court Judges to meet their heavy caseload. The solution may be in more Bankruptcy Court Judges...

A three dimensional map of lower Manhattan from CNN.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has proposed a new policy related to patents, and their inclusion in web standards. This may have some serious implications for applications developers, and has some people talking about a fragmentation of the web.

Speaking of standards, an excerpt from a book on the development of standard time does a great deal towards examining the importance of a standard.

Speaking of patents, an article on business methods and patents called The Patentability of Internet Business Methods: A Systematic Approach to Evaluating Obviousness does a great deal to clarify some of the issues related to the patenting of such things as "one click shopping" or other business methods being quickly filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Tricks of the Trade

by Private Investigator Michael T. O'Rourke

Question: I would like to file a Summons and Complaint against a Defendant, but have only a Post Office Box. How do I determine a physical address for Service of Process?

Answer: The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 39, Chapter 1, Part 265.6 (4)(d)(2)(ii) allows persons empowered to serve legal process to obtain true address information of P.O. Box holders. On Firm letterhead, provide the Postmaster of any Post Office

  • a certification that the name or address is needed and will be used solely for the service of legal process in connection with actual or prospective litigation;

  • a citation to the statute or regulation that empowers the requester to serve process, if the requester is other than the attorney for the party in whose behalf service will be made, or a party who is acting pro se;

  • the names of all known parties to the litigation;

  • the Court in which the case has been or will be connected;

  • the docket or other identifying number, if one has been issued; and

  • the capacity in which the box holder is to be served, i.e. defendant or witness.

By submitting such information, the requestor certifies that it is true. Date, and sign the document, and mail to the appropriate Postmaster. Be sure to include a SASE for a prompt return. You should have your information in less than a week.

Question: My Firm is currently defending a large Corporation in the Court of Chancery. The attorney involved has asked me to gain more information regarding the litigants. Where do I start?

Answer: Utilize the Internet. If your subject is a publicly traded corporation on the stock exchange, you can develop information through SEC filings. Go to

Question: I am attempting to locate a classmate from the College I attended. Any ideas?

Answer: Start with the Alumni Association. Most colleges and Universities keep a database for fund raising purposes. You will at a minimum, obtain a last known address. Access the internet site and search for a phone number.

Det. Michael T. O'Rourke is a Sustaining member of the Delaware Paralegal Association. He invites you to send questions to:

O'Rourke Investigative Associates, Inc.
824 N. Market Street,
Suite 425, P.O. Box 368,
Wilmington DE 19899-0368.
(302) 427-3600.

Or you may e-mail him at