Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Happy Holidays

It's quiet in Newark, for Christmas eve, with a sprinkling of rain rather than a dusting of snow. Last minute shoppers are visiting merchants for gifts and offices are holding holiday parties.

If you're traveling for the holiday, be careful on the roadways.

The Delaware Law Office will probably be quiet for a couple of days. The trees are up, and the ornaments are hung, but there's need for an emergency trip to the store to make sure that there's milk for Santa to go with his late night cookies.

Here's hoping that your holiday is a joyful one, and that the next year brings much happiness your way.

Monday, December 22, 2003

taxing the UK

A new category in the Open Directory on United Kingdom: Society and Culture: History: Taxation has some fascinating links on it. It's kind of interesting to find out what the Corn Laws were, and Ship Money, and the Danegeld. (Thanks, Jean)

December 11th

Brevin is officially a teenager! Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Saint Bernards, IRAs, and Trusted Politics

I only had a chance to meet Senator Bill Roth a couple of times. Both when he was on the campaign trail. The first was on Market Street Mall in Wilmington with one of his Saint Bernards accompanying him, and then by himself in front of my local grocery store. Both times I shook his hand and said hi. But, I really didn't stop and talk with him. He didn't need to convince me to vote for him. His actions as a US Senator were enough to do that.

His political party affiliation was something that many of Delaware citizens weren't concerned about. We weren't voting for a party, but rather a person. One who proved over and over that he was in Washington on our behalf. President Bush has called him the People's Champion, and you'll find little disagreement in Delaware. Many of us felt the same way that Senator Biden does when he mentioned in a statement from Sunday that, "There is no one in public life that I trusted more than Bill Roth."

Celia Cohen, from the Delaware Grapevine puts into perspective for us the impact upon Delaware that Bill Roth had in an adaptation from her Book titled Only in Delaware, on State politics from the end of World War Two until 2000. She also has posted the obituary released by his family which does a little more to describe the impact he upon the Nation and the World.

The Wilmington News Journal has a number of other articles on Senator Roth:

Roth's final role: grandfather

Roth's tax cutting 'changed the world'

From his IRA to tax cuts, Roth was a force in politics

He 'had a rare breed of elegance'

I wish that on one of those two opportunities I had to shake Senator Roth's hand that I had also thanked him. But, I think he knew the high regard people in Delaware had for him.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday afternoon at 2pm at the University of Delaware's Clayton Hall.

Senator William Roth Dies at 82

The national impact of the distinguished career of former Del. Sen. William Roth is well reported. What is not so widely known outside of Delaware is the way that he treated Delawareans. Senator Roth's office was the most responsive and responsible element of Delaware's government. If you had a problem with government, his staff would listen and work with you to fix it - immediately. It was a breath of fresh air government that I have not seen before, or after. I remember several times I made that call. Senator Roth's staff would hear my position, and they would immediately open a conference call with the offending party to resolve the issue - on the spot. It was amazing. We Delawareans sorely miss him and what he brought to our government.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Turow on the Death Penalty

Scott Turow is one of the leading writers of best selling books involving legal issues. He recently wrote a nonfiction volume on the Death penalty. The Atlantic Monthly interviews him on the subject, and on his involvement in an Illinois commission which reexamined the state's death penalty statutes.

Delaware Students take close look at law and Politics

I'm really happy to see the first issue of the Delaware Politics and Law Review, published by students from the University of Delaware.

I came across the print copy yesterday, and I just visited their web version today. I'm glad to see students voices raised on issues such as:
  • the USA PATRIOT Act,
  • the National Do Not Call List and its impact upon the economy,
  • the difficulty of self-representation in capital murder cases with information about a Delaware case,
  • and serious criticism and comments on local politics.
Congratulations, and welcome to the web. We'll be pointing some links your way.

Insight on law and lawschool from the Mendik Library

A hello and thanks to the good people at the Mendick Law Library and New York Law School who include the Delaware Law Office in their publication Insight (pdf).

The booklet has a great list of books, movies, and web sites for law students and prospective law students. If you are considering law school, you should check out their recommendations.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Intellectual property uk styled

I'm having fun going through some of the older blog posts from Jeremy Phillips and Ilanah Simon at IPKat.

I have a feeling that they are having at least as much fun, if not more, adding to their blog which focuses upon intellectual property with a UK and European perspective.

I don't know how well the snot jokes will play on this side of the Atlantic, though.

Santa Lucia

Days before they arrive in the final installation of Lord of the Rings, Elves will be appearing in Delaware on Sunday, as the State experiences the holding of the 28th annual procession and service honoring Santa Lucia.

The saint symbolizes love, compassion, and light, and those are things we hope abound for all this holiday season.

More on the Lucyfest, as it is practiced in Sweden. It's definitely a fascinating celebration.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Educating legislators

The Walk a Mile project uses the tagline "making politics personal" on their web site. I think that it's a brilliant idea to give politicians a chance to gain perspectives other than their own on legislation that can effect a broad range of people. (via metafilter)

the 9th degree of separation

Russell Rozanski spotlights the ninth reason that delaware is the strongest choice for a corporate home.

Friday, December 05, 2003

adwords vs trademarks

In one corner, the holders of trademarks.

In another, a search engine which is knowingly allowing competitors of the trademark holders to use those trademarked terms to trigger the presence of their advertisements on search results pages.

Google is suing in a U.S. District Court in California to argue for a declaratory judgment holding that their adwords advertising does not constitute trademark infringement.

I'm wondering in this instance, if we're seeing one of those situations which someone could preface with a "be careful what you ask for, because you just might not like the answer you get?"

Law school exams

To those who will be taking law school exams over the next few weeks, good luck.

Professor Bainbridge has shared his last year's exam for advanced corporations.

He also posted links for good and bad law school studying tips.

One of the things I liked was the set up question at the end of the exam problem:
You are a clerk to a Vice Chancellor of the Delaware chancery court. The Vice Chancellor has asked you to write a bench memorandum discussing the relevant issues raised by Empire’s suit.

patents, software and business practices

Andis Kaulins caught our mention of a recently filed lawsuit over a web based payment system. The result was a thoughtful post at LawPundit on the absurdity of applying patent law to business practices on the web.

questioning Howard

We recently pointed towards an Interview with Judge Posner conducted by Howard Bashman. unbillable hours points us towards an interview that puts Howard Bashman on the hot seat.

giacalone's Bar & Grill

Welcome back, David Giacalone. It's good to see giacalone's Bar & Grill open for business.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Open Directory Hits a Milestone

Congratulations to all of the former and active editors of the Open Directory Project. The site's front page was updated today to indicate that the Directory now includes more than 4 million sites. (thanks, Jean)

Supreme Court to Tackle Privacy Today

Wired asks How Much Is Privacy Worth? We may find out later today, when our federal Justices hear oral arguments in Doe v. Chao.

How public should public hearings be?

Should members of the public be permitted to ask questions, or cross examine witnesses? A 9:30 am meeting in Dover may just decide how much involvement the public can have in public hearings on environmental issues. See: Proposal overhauls public hearings

indicted by ashtrays

Overlawyered is pointing towards a rush of tickets for ashtrays in New York City. They might be carrying things a little too far. I hope this doesn't catch on under Delaware's Clean Indoor Air Act.

Delaware on Wikipedia

I was looking at the Wikipedia for Delaware, and it appears to need just a little TLC and updating. If you haven't seen a wiki before, and you think the idea of having fresh information for the First State is a good idea, why not give it a shot?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Annual Shopping/ Holiday Celebration

Yesterday the DE Law Office and Delaware Intercorp, Inc celebrated their annual shopping day. We shut down the offices and convoyed to the mall, where the stores were just opening and not crowded. We shopped and then gathered for a feast. It really makes for a nice tradition.

Still waiting on the developing of our pictures from the DE Law Office Holiday Dinner, a couple of weeks ago. Shouldn't be long now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Monday, December 01, 2003

Joining the Fight Against AIDs at Home

There are quite a few people who have allowed their home computers to be used in the search for intelligent life in outer space. It's possible to utilize your computer to be used in a similar manner to battle against AIDs. See the FightAIDS@Home page for more details. (via metafilter)

Ask the White House about AIDs

If you have questions for the Whitehouse on AIDs and HIV, get them in quickly.

At 2pm EST, Dr. Joseph O'Neill, Director of the Office of National AIDs Policy will be answering questions on the topic of HIV and AIDs. Submit your questions now. You might want to visit the National AIDs Policy Office first, and look through their fact sheet summary and other offerings. This stood out:
Number of people who may not know they are HIV pos. -- Approx. 300,000
I believe that number only includes American citizens. World Wide, the number is likely considerably higher.

The World's 3 by 5 Initiative

Is it possible to bring needed medicine to three million people by the year 2005? That's the goal behind the 3 by 5 Initiative. The World Health Organization has much more on the topic, and Wired puts the plan into perspective with an article entitled Hopes Pinned on New Drug Plan on World AIDS Day.

HIV and Civil Rights

The American Civil Liberties Union interviewed service providers around the United States and the results are eye-opening. See: American Civil Liberties Union : HIV & Civil Rights

AIDs and the Law

Not quite a legal blog, or BLAWG, David Webber's page, AIDs and the Law cover a lot of the legal aspects surrounding HIV and AIDs. As a Pennsylvania Attorney, much of his site focuses upon Pennsylvania law, but a good amount covers a broader spectrum than that.

David Webber is a founder of the AIDs Law Project of Pennsylvania, which is a non profit public interest law firm.

Some Delaware resources include:

The Delaware HIV Consortium

46664 was Nelson Mandela's Prison Number

It's also part of the web site address where you can find out more about a recent all star benefit held to help fight AIDs. More details are at 46664.COM.

A live global webcast of the benefit had an estimated audience of 2 billion people. Performers included Bono, Eurythmics, Beyonce, Jimmy Cliff, and others.

MTV webcast the show on Saturday at noon, and will be airing it globally at 6 pm EST tonight.

The Role of Government in the Fight against AIDs

Amnesty International's press release on World AIDs day takes a harsh look at some of the governmental practices that are hurting the fight against AIDs, and some that are more effective, such as those followed by Uganda and Brazil. See: Discrimination and misinformation impede AIDS fight

Today is World AIDs Day

We are participating in the Link and Think project in the hope that our one small effort here might combine with the efforts of many others to make a difference in at least one person's life. If you have a blog or a personal web site, please consider participating, and joining in.

Link and Think Banner

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Limiting the Cost of Sequestration

What do you do with jurors when they are in the midst of deliberations and it's time to call it a day? Do you isolate them from most of the rest of the world?

Delaware's jurors are sequestered at the discretion of the trial judge. It's an expensive practice that seems to be on the decline in most states.

Newark Cider Mill to be Rebuilt

This is the type of project that I love. When people recognize the importance of history, and try to reclaim it. A cider mill that burned down in May of 1972 will be rebuilt by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

It should make Apple Cider Saturday a whole lot more fun.

AIDS in Delaware

AIDs is a disease. It infects people regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. It's killed countless people, and changed lives forever. Delaware is amongst the worst states in the nation when it comes to "infection rate per capita among intravenous drug users."

The Wilmington News Journal is noting that Delaware will mark World AIDS Day on Monday, December 1st. Candlelight vigils will take place throughout Delaware. has more.

When is the Public not Public...

...when they aren't citizens of the First State.

Delaware's Freedom of Information Act can only be used by citizens of the State of Delaware. Who are your state's public records open to? Does it matter if they are citizens of the state, or citizens of the United States?

A consumer activists' group is suing the state and challenging the citizenship provision: Lawsuit challenges Del. records law

Which constitutional ground would you proceed under if you pursued a suit like this? Would it matter what you wanted the records for?

Friday, November 28, 2003

Initial Consultation Fees... or Are you Serious Fees

I read an interesting depiction of a disagreement between an attorney and a potential client on, as was handily pointed out to me by

It is a story about an individual who refused to pay the $35 admin fee for a lawyer referral service (because he felt that there weren't any qualified attorneys participating with that service). The individual was referred to an attorney (for free) who reviewed the matter with the individual and indicated that there would be $25,000 retainer to handle the legal matter. The individual then claims that he should have recieved legal advice as to how to handle his case during the 30 minute initial consultation.

Unrealistic expectations.

How can an attorney answer all of your questions (with one simple "yes" or "no"), and solve all of your legal problems in the initial consultation? And for free?

It just isn't possible (except in very rare circumstances).

To a large extent, the initial consultation fee can serve the purpose of screening out those persons who want to meet for the purpose of meeting... want to talk to an attorney for the purpose of saying that they talked with an attorney... and who are otherwise not really serious about dealing with their legal matter in a reasonable way.

Had the legal referral service administrator, in the case above, taken the hint and closed the conversation when the potential client refused to pay the $35 admin fee, this blooming exchange would not have occurred.

Carry-On Baggage (The Bag and Baggage Moblog)

Denise Howell's Carry-On Baggage (The Bag and Baggage Moblog) took on a new meaning yesterday?

Congratulations on the BABY!

You will indeed now have much more baggage, carry-on and otherwise. But it is a good thing. :-)

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving!

We find ourselves with many reasons to be thankful for this year, including those who visit the Delaware Law Office both in person and on the Web. Thank you.

A friend has put together a page on some of the history behind thanksgiving, and a few of her ancestors are involved in the telling of the tale. I thought her story was pretty interesting, and I hope that you do too. It's at: Aspects of the History Behind Thanksgiving.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Printed Press Postures for Preeminence

Jennifer Howard, whose site looks like a blog but isn't (she protests vigorously), writes an interesting critique about blogs, blogging, and bloggers. She acknowledges the social value, cautions us to take what we read with a dose of salt (and maybe check the sources?), and seems very subtly to protest too much in defense of the established press.

Jennifer hosted an online forum to discuss her article, and it worked a heck of a lot like a comment section of a blog.

I think that blogging and the established news forums interact well with one another, and compliment the good things that each have to offer.

But yes, blogging is not CNN. Thank goodness! Yes, there is a difference. And it is on purpose! Yes you can get bogged down reading lots of blogs, but how many newspapers can you read? How many hours of network news can you watch?

Blogging is useful in and of itself to combat just that problem which she highlights, and blogging offers tools to help us to sort through it all, and unclog our blog, such as XML feeds (a process that I am still learning).

Next, she flatly criticizes bloggers for too much back patting. What I have seen is not so much gratuitous petting, but instead, cordiality, ethics, and etiquette. Maybe the paper press could pick up on this?

Jennifer indicates that she has been highly criticized for her position on blogging. I wouldn't know. But I can see how it would be frustrating for a serious blogger to see such a well read and well written professional such as Jennifer Howard, only almost get it.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Pardoning the Turkey

Whitehouse representative JD Estes is fielding questions about turkeys and the presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey, and includes some great pictures of previous presidents doing so.

The pardoning will be webcast live, today at 9:28 am, EST.
Center for the Art's befriends Middle School

It's good to see the Capital School District teaming up with the the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts to modernize the Central Middle School's auditorium. Nice going, Schwatz Center!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Something in the Air

Fourteen States surrounding Delaware have filed suit against the EPA, fearing the relaxation of the Clean Air Act, and the impact that will have upon the air we breathe. May it Please the Court takes a look, and presents a nice set of links on the subject. Funny, it's the same air we share in Delaware, which hasn't joined in on the suit.

Delaware's Governor has asked the State's Attorney General to get involved. The Wilmington News Journal surmises why the AG's Office hasn't.

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt, and Pumpkins

There have been rumblings from the Delaware Division of Boiler Safety that the power used to hurl gourds tremendous distances poses a real risk to the residents of Delaware. Al Mascitti takes a critical look, and decides that the State is trying to turn into into your mom.

He's not just carving silly faces in pumpkins.

Lessons in California Parole Experiences?

A findlaw article by Barton Aronson takes a good long look at The Results of A Just-Released Study of California Parolees. I imagine that there are probably lessons from this study (130 page pdf file) that could be learned by folks from outside of California.

misguided by voices

How easy is it to recognize a voice that you've only heard once, a few years before? Or through a ski mask? How often is that vocal recognition challenged in court? Just how reliable are earwitnesses?

Saturday, November 22, 2003

spam in the house

Would the risk of five years in prison stop someone from sending spam? A bill that passed through the US House of Representatives today, and which could see Senate action next week might make that a serious question for senders of unsolicited mail to ponder. Yesterday's House Committee on Energy and Commerce has more details upon what the House version of what the anti-spam legislation will do.

Hopefully, we will leave behind the ill-advised Senate name for their version of the legislation which is S.877, Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 or as it is more commonly referred to, CAN-SPAM). The intent might be to "can" spam, as in throw it away, but the word "can" might also be easily interpreted as "enabling" spam.

Will this federal law regulating spam remove from states the power to do so? States with stricter enforcement, and rights for individuals to persue private enforcement actions. Is the problem that there's too much unregulated spam, or just too much spam in general?

JFK in Delaware 40 years ago

I never felt the need to ask why the 12 mile stretch of Interstate 95 that goes through Delaware is known as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway. I wasn't aware that he had visited the State to help open the roadway:
Eight days before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy made his seventh and last speaking engagement in the First State. He visited Delaware and Maryland by helicopter on a windy November day to cut the ribbon on the state's new superhighway - I-95. The ceremony was on the median strip at the state line.

Internet payment squabble in Delaware Court

Delaware District Court was the recipient of a complaint filed by AT&T against eBay over Paypal in a patent infringement lawsuit over electronic payments.

The nice thing about Paypal is that it enables the growth of ecommerce by providing a reliable third party to help a commercial transaction take place. We'll be keeping an eye on this case.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

law school spam

The web is transforming law school curriculums in wired and wonderful ways. This last summer, Law Professor David Sorkin taught a class on spam that sounded like a lot of fun. Then again, maybe I say this because, according to the syllabus (pdf), one of the ways of meeting the graded requirements for the class was to build an interactive web site on some aspect of the subject.

I'm tempted to do that without even taking the class. (via cre8asiteforums).

Legal Information Website Gets The Close Eye

We have been notified that the use of pictures of the judiciary on the general information pages concerning the Delaware courts may raise some ethical issues.

As a review of the breadth of the law office site will reveal, we try to provide significant general legal information to the public, and to our clients. As a part of this general information, we have a page which outlines the Delaware Court System, the Delaware Supreme Court, the Chancery Court, the Superior Court, and the Justice of the Peace Courts, among others. On these pages we describe the general jurisdiction and function of the court and provide a link to the court's website. In addition, we have placed pictures of the judges on those courts (although some of them need to be updated due to changes on the bench). The pictures were copied without permission from the official court websites. It is these pictures which have given rise to the questions with which we now struggle.

As an interim measure, I have posted the following Notice on each referenced page, and republish it here:

NOTICE: The information on this site regarding Courts and Judges is for public information purposes only. It is by no means intended to infer or imply that my private law office or this web site is in any way related to, endorsed, approved of, acknowledged, or even known by the judges and courts portrayed herein. Photographs of the Judiciary portrayed on this site were copied from the official Court web sites without the knowledge or consent of the Court or the Judiciary.

I believe that anyone who has taken an actual look at these pages can see that I am just trying to provide general information to the public. For those who are confused, read the notice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Chancellor speaks at seminar

Last night at a seminar jointly sponsored by the Delaware Valley Association of Corporate Counsel of America (DELVACCA), the Delaware State Bar Association (DSBA), MBNA, and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), Delaware's Chancellor William B. Chandler III, spoke eloquently regarding the impact (or mostly the lack thereof) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) on corporate governance issues. I think that I will venture to summarize the Chancellor's points in saying that there is no one-size SOX that fit all corporations' feet.

In a brief pre-seminar dramatic clash between the MBNA culture and normal world culture, I was forced to leave the lobby to wait on the front stairwell for my co-workers to arrive. It wasn't enough that I had been cleared on the guest list by security and was standing in the plain view of three MBNA reps, in a large otherwise empty lobby a few feet from the front door. The MBNA culture was that I should either proceed to the bar and mingle, or wait outside. I, of course, would rather rough it than knuckle under to big brother (or big sister in this case). Thanks Regina.

In fairness, the MBNA facilities were beautiful and the refreshments and h'ourderves were nicely done.

hunting decoys, but in a whole new way

The News Journal got the scoop on a different kind of decoy for deer hunters. This is really a decoy FOR deer hunters. Let's stay tuned and see how many poachers it nets!

decoy deer

Thursday, November 13, 2003

the devil and the deep blue code

The US Patent and Trademark office is reconsidering an internet code patent, as reported in the News Journal. This is not a "one-in-a-million" shot, more like a one-in-twenty-five-thousand shot. In an interesting twist that has Microsoft appealing a $520M jury award for being too compatible [story by Kim Peterson at the Seattle Times]? Microsoft quickly countered that it would remedy that in a snap! I suppose the dirty tricks unit is idle now, since Microsoft bought Corel stock. Or so I am told.

Thanks to Paul Andrews for snooping out the Seattle Times link.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Drano for the Arteries

An exciting new experimental drug promises to roto root your arteries, cleaning out the plaque build up and reversing the effects of bad chloresterol. Now I just have to hang in there long enough for them to finish the trials and put this within the tools available to my doctor.

Nothing in this article is intended to suggest that anyone drink or otherwise use Drano for medical purposes. Nor should you use any sort of drain cleaner or drain cleaning tool on your arteries or any other part of the human body. To the contrary, I am sure that it would be disasterous to your health, were you to do so. (DUH!)

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Punkin Chunkin 2003

On November 1st and 2nd, the 2003 World Championship Punkin Chunkin was held in Millsboro, Delaware. Continuing my quest to become a true Delawarean, I was there. I still haven't tried scrapple, but I have now partaken in a great Delaware tradition, watching air cannons, catapults, sling shots, and trebouchets launch pumpkins thousands of feet. The county fair atmosphere mixed with beautiful weather made it an event to remember. My only complaint was the horrendous traffic, but I guess that's what happens when 30,000 people converge on a small town.

Second Amendment , an air cannon team from Michigan, won the event with a shot of 4,434.28 feet. Their shot broke the record of 4,109 feet set in 2000.

Check out the NewsJournal's chunkin coverage here.

On a related note, check out the Elephant Punkin Stomp.

Here are some pics from our trip. The scale doesn't do them justice, however.

chunkr also

Kevin Mann

Monday, November 03, 2003

Pediatricians Urged to Step Up Fight Against Obesity

A proper diet and exercise is every parent's business, and Pediatricians can help us to help ourselves and our children. But there's no substitute for personal (and parental) responsibility.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Chicago pediatrician accused of child pornography crimes

One of a parent's worst nightmares...Chicago pediatrician arrested on porn charges. Dr. H. Marc Watzman is accused of possession of child pornography.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus T. Funk, no stranger to sex related charges involving children, says that we will be advised of any new developments in this investigation.

In addition to the photos on computers, drugs were found including : morphine; two compounds used to induce unconsciousness; a substance used to induce temporary muscular paralysis; a sedative used by surgeons; Viagra; and marijuana.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Don't let red lights get you down

If you had a device on your dashboard that you could use to change red lights to green, would you use it?

It's interesting watching the law attempt to address technological advances. Should drivers have the power to change stoplights?

How will legislatures address this problem...

Tire Safety, and the misperceptions of youth

When I was a young car owner, I developed a theory regarding tire rotation. My theory was that it was a concept invented by the tire manufacturers to trick people into a situation where they had to buy all 5 tires at once, rather than one at a time. Long lasting are some aspects of our youth. But I am finally softening to the concept. Here is a link to some tire safety tips, to counterbalance my warped youthful perspective.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Aetna Settles With Doctors for $470M

In a national class action suit U.S. judge approves $470M Aetna settlement with doctors . Now let us see if this helps us to get medical care without the interference of the insurance companies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Common Good

Philip Howard writes an insightful article about the responsibility of the judiciary in keeping the rif raff out of courts. I very much like the article, but I stop short of jumping entirely on his soapbox. I think I will just have a seat on the edge of it. A well drafted and moderate set of "Loser Pay" laws by our legislature would greatly assist in the reform process which he advocates and give teeth to the judges' ability to accomplish it. I will climb entirely onto that one.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Trademark Upheld in Seach Term Usage Suit

In what will (hopefully) become a solid trend, Google France was fined for trademark violation (story by: | CNET by selling trademarked search terms, to the competitors of the owners of the trademarks. ... Seems like a no-brainer when I put it that way, huh?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Corp Law Blog: Why Delaware is a Corporation Magnet

Mike O'Sullivan wrote this scholarly and yet practical answer to a much asked question. And with a name like "O'Sullivan", I am not surprised.

While I agree 100%, there are a number of other lesser factors that contribute to Delaware's magnetism. One of these factors derives from Delaware having a small bar, a collegial bar (aside from the Deer Park). There is no room to hide and no room for petty politics. We all share the common goal of maintaining the high quality of the Delaware Corporate body of law. I couldn't tell you what political party another Delaware lawyer belongs to, because for the most part, we don't care. It just doesn't matter.

There is a Delaware Constitutional provision which requires that the bench of some courts be somewhat balanced as between the two major parties. But this is secondary to picking the right person for the right job. We have a Democrat for a Governor who has nominated a number of Republican attorneys to positions on courts. Do you see that in other States?

And yes, our judges are nominated by the Governor, and confirmed by our Legislature. They are not elected. There are no judicial campaigns.

Removing politics from the equation has freed us up to do a better job for our profession, our Corporations, and for the human citizens of Delaware. After all, what else matters?

2nd Blawgiversary

A few weeks ago we celebrated our 2nd Blawgiversary at Michael's. A good time was had by all. And this year we had a real cake!

Real Cake!



Wednesday, October 08, 2003

4 die in failed experiment with nature

Two brown bears and two humans are the immediate casualties from a naturalist's experiment in living with the bears as reported by Reuters. Timonthy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, and two unnamed bears are now evidence for three laws of nature: survival of the fittest; natural selection; and don't mess around with mother nature. The humans, part of an organization called Grizzly People were intentionally camping in an Alaska area heavily populated by large brown bears. The remains of their bodies were found by the pilot who flew in to pick them up. Alaska State Troopers and Rangers were forced to shoot the two bears during the process of retrieving the human remains. This scenario was all but foretold by bear biologist, Tom Smith.

Timothy Treadwell

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Banking More Difficult under the USA PATRIOT Act

If you want to open a bank account or brokerage account or sign up for a mutual fund, you're going to have to prove that you're not a criminal or a terrorist first. That is, after Wednesday, when another part of the USA PATRIOT Act sets in.

Civil E-filing Steps Up in Delaware

Delaware's Superior Court and Chancery Court become a lot more wired tomorrow.

Delaware was one of the leaders in the country when it came to electronic filing of documents in civil cases. The State's Complex Litigation Automated Docket (CLAD) was the very first electronic filing and docketing system for civil cases in the U.S. The system was limited to a handful of complex civil cases, with large number of litigants.

CLAD used WordPerfect 5.1 as its file format of choice, and that remained the format until very recently. In the meantime, a number of other states have adopted electronic filing, and have leap frogged past Delaware's older system. The Wilmington News Journal takes a close look in their article, Court steps up e-filing.

Delaware's Superior Court starts accepting non-arbitration complaint filings tomorrow. Chancery Court will also be using this e-filing system. There are a couple of days left of the free online training scheduled for filing of electronic documents for Superior and Chancery Courts. Classes are free, online, and can be registered for online. They last approximately 90 minutes. More details here (pdf).

Saturday, October 04, 2003

looking at the Public Defender Dude

It's good to get the perspective of someone like the Public Defender Dude.

Live free or die

Somehow I didn't think that the members of The Free State Project would choose Delaware as their final destination. I guess the grass is greener in New Hampshire.

Vote Fort Delaware

Preservation of our past, conservation of our natural environment. Smithsonian Magazine is recognizing efforts towards both, and has selected nominees to be commended for their work towards sustaining both.

Amongst the nominees is Fort Delaware State Park, which has come a long way in the past few years, and has a bit of a way to go in becoming a traveler's destination.

Delaware's first female judge dies

Roxana C. Arsht was the fifth female member of the Delaware Bar, and the first woman to become a judicial officer in Delaware. The Wilmington News Journal takes a look at her career and accomplishments in an article entitled Delaware's first female judge dies. Her dedication to helping others will be missed.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Rush into Controversy

A fan of Rush's, I am not. And confused I am (as well as a Yoda fan), as is The Ben File. So Rush Limbaugh has now resigned from the CNN post. That doesn't bother me too much. But please help me out here... what words am I allowed to speak? what topics and opinions are now illegal? And when did this happen?

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Delaware's WASPs

An article I was happy to see in this weekend's Wilmington News Journal Recognizing Delaware's WASPs.
Virginia Gough and fellow WASP Ethel Meyer Finley will receive "Exploring Salute to Women Pioneers" Awards in early December at the DuPont Country Club, before both attend the Wright Brothers centennial celebration in Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17.
Congratulations, and Thank you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Ghasb, the last Gasp

The $416 million dollar Superior Court Judgment in favor of ExxonMobil still stands despite the slew of Post-Trial Motions filed by SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation). In summary, the Court ruled that SABIC had usurped $92 million dollars of ExxonMobil’s shares of overcharges. SABIC still insists that they did not usurp the money because they did not “act forcefully”, yet the U.S. Court found them guilty of the Saudi Law doctrine of ghasb, which was defined by the Court as exercising ownership over another’s property without consent, wrongfully. With the first SABIC Motion being filed four days late, and consequently being denied, SABIC was not off to a good start. SABIC, which passionately argued that this case should be tried in the United States, was quoted in their Second Motion as stating that “no American Judge is qualified to interpret and apply Saudi Law.”

In the numerous Motions filed, SABIC implies that no Saudi Court would have ruled in favor of ExxonMobil. How does SABIC know? After all, under Saudi Law, no Court decisions are public, nor are they open for research. SABIC persistently stated in their numerous Post-Trial Motions that the Court defined ghasb, (equivalent to usurpate), incorrectly, and subsequently had their Islamic Law expert submit an Affidavit to “reiterate” his opinion. The Court notes that the correct time to submit such an Affidavit would have been March 7, 2003, when the Court held a Hearing for the full day to discuss Saudi Law Issues. Finally, to end it’s Post Trial Motion Series with a bang, SABIC then referred back to the $416 million dollars in damages, and it’s rare occurrence in Saudi Law. (Once again, I refer you to the very non-public Saudi Law.) SABIC has exhausted all of its options, and thus the end of the Post-Trial Motion frenzy.

Stefanie Biddle

Friday, September 19, 2003

Tribe on California

What value for the rest of the country is there in the opinion of the Ninth Circuit on the California recall election? According to Lawrence Tribe, quite a bit. See: The Ninth Circuit Got it Right.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

a refreshing look at copyright

Writer Orson Scott Card presents an intriguing glimpse at copyright in MP3s Are Not the Devil. He takes on the concept of "work for hire", the extreme prices charged for CDs, creative accounting in Hollywood, and how markets can adjust to technology. And this is just part one.

You Can Take Them With You

Your important documents, that is. The Weather.Com site has a nice article reminding you to take your important documents with you when you plan to take shelter from hurricanes and other disasters. It is an important part of disaster planning. I suggest to you now (as I did about a year ago) that you have your important documents scanned and written to a cd. I offer this to my estate planning clients as a convenient way to carry Durable Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. It is just as valid for your other important docs. There are several sizes of cd's available which add to the convenience: a business card size cd; a 3 inch diameter cd; and the standard 4 1/2 inch diameter cd. All of them work equally well in standard cd drives in computers, without modification.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

NELLCO Legal Scholarship Repository

I'm a research fanatic. I love it when I find new sources of papers and articles. I'm just starting to explore the NELLCO Legal Scholarship Repository, but it looks like a fun stop

"Toynbee ideas in Kubrick's 2001 resurrect dead on planet Jupiter" WHAT?

Weird little plaques have been popping up in cities all over the East coast sporting cryptic messages like the one above. They seem to appear overnight in the middle of streets and sidewalks. Philadelphia and New York City are the main hot spots. But, nobody knows what they mean, who is making them, or how they are being made. reports that these bizarre plaques have appearing steadily for the past ten years and have been spotted as far away as Chile, Brazil, and Argentina.
If anyone knows anything about these plaques (What they mean, who is creating them, why) I would love to know. Also, if you spot any in Delaware let us know.

Kevin Mann
Law Clerk

My Computer was Hijacked!!!

A few weeks ago, my computer started acting up. Whenever I would type a web address into Internet Explorer, I would automatically be redirected to a bogus search page. Then the search page would try to redirect me to an adult content site, but Explorer would usually just freeze up. I tried everything. I deleted cookies. I blocked cookies from those sites. I deleted all new programs. No luck. After consulting with Bill, I downloaded two programs, Adaware and Spybot . I highly recommend both programs. In the end Spybot did the trick, but both programs showed me how much junk gets put on your computer by simply surfing the web.

Now, software developers are trying to help people who have problems like mine before the problems even begin. is reporting that Intermute has developed a program called SpySubtract that targets spyware and adware. While the program is similar to Spybot and Adaware, it also includes a feature that automatically deletes plug-ins anytime that they are detected. What this means is that whenever a spyware company tries to add software to your computer, it is automatically deleted without ever bothering you. In a recent Virginia Federal court ruling, spyware company WhenU won out in a suit against U-Haul. The Court dismissed the case stating that computer users consented to allowing WhenU's pop-up ads by downloading WhenU's software. What the ruling did not address is the fact that most users did not actively download WhenU's software. The software was put onto their machines without their knowledge probably while they were downloading other software applications. The problem now is that the ruling will most likely bring about many new spyware companies to clog up our computers. So, start combating them now.

Kevin Mann
Law Clerk

Monday, September 15, 2003

Who pays for a cleaner Delaware?

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays was set up by the Delaware Legislature in 1994, and its mission has been to "to oversee and facilitate the implementation of a long-term approach for the wise use and enhancement of the Inland Bays' Watershed."

The Agency is seeking to build a new headquarters, and fundraising for the effort has sparked a bit of controversy. Should this public agency use money from developers to further their goals, or is that inappropriate? The mandate from the Delaware legislature to the Directors of the Center includes this line:
The Board shall be responsible for the procurement and administration of federal and private moneys secured to fulfill the responsibilities pursuant to the protection and restoration of the Inland Bays' watershed.
My eyes are drawn to that word "Private." The legislation does't ask them to discriminate on the basis of where the money comes from. But, it's easy to understand the arguments against accepting money from developers who may have an interest in future actions of the Center.

Should they or shouldn't they?

How to prepare for a hurricane

From the information-we-hope-you-don't-have-to-use-department comes How to prepare for a hurricane. The Family Preparedness Plan (pdf) from Delaware's Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) might be a good thing to share with younger children before any storm hits, to help them understand what may be coming.

Lost while browsing

It seems like Verisign will now help me find the right address when I misspell a URL in the address bar of my browser. Or, they will if the company with the right address pays to be included in that service.

See: VeriSign's new typo service.

If I accidentally make a typographical error while typing in an address, I just want to correct my error, and not be subjected to paid advertising from the highest bidders.

ICANNWatch and Thomas Roessler have more.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Judicial appointments in Delaware

Governor Minner has announced the names of three candidates to fill vacant positions in the Delaware Courts. A special session of the Delaware Senate will meet to consider those nominations.

The candidates are Donald F. Parsons Jr., for Chancery Court, Mary M. Johnston, for Superior Court, and Arlene Minus Coppadge, for Family Court.

Congratulations to all.

[later - the Governor's Press Release on the appointments]

Delaware's history and old mysteries

Unearthing surprises in old New Castle, Delaware, doesn't seem like much of a shock. The location is rich in native folklore and hsitorical accounts. It's not only the location of two of the oldest recorded settlements in the state, and an early capitol, but also where William Penn first landed on North America.

If you look at Delaware on a map of the US, you'll notice an arc at the top of the state. If you were to try to find the center point of a circle that the arc might complete, it would point to an iron rod on top of the Courthouse in New Castle. An unknown and unanticipated cellar was discovered under the plaza to the building this summer. The Wilmington News Journal reports more in Unearthing history.

Another recent historic mystery in the First State involved a tombstone in an unusual place.
Public Safety at the University of Delaware sees one of their biggest changes as the University arms its police

Polo on TV

A shout out and congratulations to Dover native Teri Polo on her new television series I'm With Her, which premieres on Tuesday, September 23 at 8:30.

The recording industry gives lessons on public relations

It may not be their intention, but the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is showing us the power of bad press, and how being a publicly visible institution can be difficult.

There seems to be a rising tide of public opinion against the Recording Industry in the US. Suing 12 year olds probably isn't a way to look good in the eyes of the public. The RIAA "Clean Slate" program appears to have triggered a few tempers too, as the RIAA is sued for amnesty offer.

Satellites, suspects, and warrants

At the cross roads of technology and the law comes a decision by the Washington State Supreme Court regarding the ability to do what one commentator stated amounts to "placing an invisible police officer in a person's back seat."

The New York Times reports on this in Satellite Tracking of Suspects Requires a Warrant, Court Rules. It is quite possible that this is the first ruling of its type regarding the satellite tracking devices.

Are public workers' emails private

The Florida Supreme Court ruled last week that private emails sent to and received by State employees do not have to be turned over to the public. The St. Petersberg Times covered that issue in an article titled State: Workers' private e-mail is just that.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Secretary of State's Husband dies

Following a tragic traffic accident, Richard L Windsor died this morning at Christiana Hospital. A friend of Governor Minner, and husband to Harriet Smith Windsor, Mr. Windsor was employed by Delaware Technical and Community College.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

lost and found $24 million

State finds $24 million for budget. Wouldn't it be nice to find $24M on your way to work? Would that change your plans? Well the State of Delaware apparently forgot that a recent corporate tax rate hike is retroactive to January 1.

For other lost and found searching, you may want to try State Escheat pages like... Delaware's Escheat Page. It's not cheating, it is escheat. This is the way that unclaimed property gets turned over to the State. So you may want to check it out periodically to see if you lost, or forgot something.

But don't expect a timely response. You will probably get an auto response e-mail and nothing else. So if you find something, send a real letter and follow up with a phone call.

Monday, September 01, 2003

homes of the stars

The California Coastal Records Project is a labor of love with its aerial photos of the California coastline used by schools, the government, and environmental groups.

The project has run into a number of bumps along the path. One was the military. An even bigger impediment was Barbara Streisand. As interesting a project as I think this is, I'd be a little upset if they photographed my house and labeled it. Ms. Streisand was. But $50 million in claimed damages?

The Coastal Records Project pages examine their side of the dispute in vivid detail, including links to the Streisand-filed court complaint and other filed documents case.

But also make sure that you see the June 13, 2003, post from Barbara Streisand's web site, including a quote from Don Henley related to the Coast Records Project.

what is the cost of privacy?

How much is your privacy worth? How cheaply would you sell it? It appears that it's quite possible that you social security number could be had on the web for as little as $26, even if you might be the the Head of the CIA.

virus liability

Who should take responsibility for the damage caused by viruses? What about when a company transmits a virus and they know that their systems are infected? Or when a company neglects to use up-to-date antivirus software? The Economist takes a look at the state of viruses, and makes in prediction in their latest article on Computer viruses:
However, his [Harvard Law School's Berkman Centre for Internet and Society] colleague John Palfrey says that it would not surprise him if a lawsuit were brought against an organisation which unknowingly but negligently transmitted a virus. And if you think virus writers are scary, you have clearly never met a tort lawyer.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Labor Day Weekend

Happy Labor Day Weekend to you all. Hope you don't have to labor so much over the holiday. See you all on Tuesday!

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Third Second Blawgiversary

DELAWOFFICE is celebrating the 3rd 2nd anniversary of its legal blog "Blawg" in Newark on September 10, 2003. Anyone interested in attending should contact me in advance. Time sure flies when you are writing fun.

OK. You caught us. We've only been doing this for just about two years. It seems longer, and besides, we can't bring the blog out for a drink if it isn't old enough.

Sorry about the "three years" thing. I sent an email to Larry, telling him it was the three year anniversary. He asked me in person if I was sure. I insisted. Should have counted on my fingers, in retrospect.

It's actually the third year that we're going into. Hopefully with some fresh new ideas, and some fun in mind. If we can interest some readers of this blog to join us in the lifting of a glass, or in a meal somewhere on the 10th, please let Larry know. Thanks. -- Bill Slawski

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

red wine molecule extends life

More evidence in support of one of my favorite and expensive hobbies: US study- ABC News Online

old new castle county courthouse

I visited the little town of North East, Maryland, over the weekend, and came across a great bunch of small restaurants and shops. I stopped in one shop, and found a post card of Delaware's major courthouse in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Once upon a time, where a statue of Caesar Rodney is now prominently on display in the center of Wilmington, was the New Castle County Courthouse:

from 1880 to the 1920s, the stately looking New Castle County Court House was the place to go for justice in Northern Delaware.

I think I like the exterior of this building better than the present courthouse. It has a sense of stateliness about it.

the friendly skies

The best thing about the Computerized Airline Passenger Pre-Screening System II seems to be the drawing together of those who oppose it. One reaction that's worth a look is the Don't Spy on us web site.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

the dark goddess of replevin fades into the shadows

The dark goddess of replevin speaks. Her voice is fading. She is being engulfed by the big firms. We will miss you goddess.

Confront Your Accusers... Tell them "sit", "stay", then give them a biscuit

Popular Science Magazine published an interesting article about how dogs are being used as witnesses (or not) in courts. As we tap into their nasal resources as a tool in crime detection, many legal issues come to mind:

How do you cross-examine a dog?
How can we distinguish independent dog identification of a scent as from the Clever Hans effect?
How can we verify dog training accuracy and reliability?
How can a defendant overcome the prejudicial "cute puppy effect"?
Cousins of our new puppy, Misty

photo by Stephanie Martucci

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Fox Watching the Henhouse - EPA digs up DNREC hypocrisy

In a very embarrassing series of events for DNREC, EPA has found cruddy violations at DNREC site, apparently perpetrated by DNREC, as reported by the News Journal.

Dirty Deeds

photo by The News Journal/SCOTT NATHAN

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Dirty Dirt Done Dirt Cheap

The U.S. isn't the only place on the planet (although sometimes we act like it) with political issues involving environmental and corporate responsibility. Taiwan has some dirt of its own. It was shipped to Cambodia and dumped illegally there, and then it was scooped back up along with all of the dirt around it and shipped back to Taiwan.

Does the way that I described this as a "political issue" somehow distance it from real people and their real people lives? And does the term "corporate responsibility" somehow lessen the severity of the criminal acts that people committed? Remember people act. Corporations are artificial (imaginary) legal thoughts. Corporations don't do anything... people do.

This is not to say that the owners of corporations should profit from the irresponsibility or deliberate acts of their employees and agents. To the extent that misdeeds are attributable to that group of people who are a corporation, the financial resources of the corporation are fair game for the cost of the repair of the errant acts.

I don't like the way the word "Corporation" is slurred, as a "C" word, something to be viewed with disdain. Corporations are tremendously valuable and indispensable tools for people to organize and conduct business. I challenge you to look around the room you are sitting in and find something that wasn't manufactured, grown, marketed, distributed, or sold by a corporation. Even the hand-made lawyer's bookcase that my dad made for me that sits next to my desk was made with the use of tools made and sold by corporations. And the wood was grown, harvested, and sold by corporations.

So when we go a' hunting for scapegoats, let's get the correct goats. The ones who did the dirty deeds.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Delaware to Be New Home of Coors (Kinda)

The Denver Business Journal is reporting that Fortune 500 company Adolph Coors Co. might soon be a Delaware corporation. A reincorporation plan has already been approved by the brewer's board of directors and will be voted on by shareholders this fall. Although there are no plans to move its headquarters to Delaware, the company will be taking advantage of Delaware's business-friendly corporate laws.

Adolph Coors Co. was founded in 1873 and is the maker of Coors Light , the fourth ranked beer in terms of sales in the United States and a favorite of many poor college students. Coors has been a Colorado Corporation since 1913.

Kevin Mann
Law Clerk

play ball

The sound of baseball has filled the air this summer. The field next to the Newark VFW hall is within earshot of the law office, and the evening sounds of the Star Spangled Banner frequently signify the start of some innings of ball.

When I was a little leaguer, we didn't have announcers reading our names off. The only ones who came to watch our games were our relatives, and they knew who we were. Baseball these days. The kids get announced as they approach home plate.

I've imagined cameras and play-by-play announcers would be next. I didn't anticipate that it would be this year that we would get to watch little league on TV in Delaware. I didn't foresee Delaware having a team in the Little League World Series.

I hope the cameras and all of the attention doesn't ruin the game for the kids. I also hope that they have a lot of fun, and wish them a lot of luck. Go Delaware.

mobile phones vs emergency rescue

The Washington Post looks at the popularity of mobile phones, limitations of airwaves, and how Wireless Growth Hinders Rescuers.

Maybe this is how the movement to an open spectrum of wireless communications begins.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Delaware first on EPA network

Federal Computer Week is reporting that The State of Delaware is now the first on the EPA network.
Delaware has completed development of its Exchange Network node, making it the first state to have its server operational and able to share vital environmental information on the new network, according to EPA officials.
The Environmental Information Exchange Network will tie together information from all fifity states, Indian Tribes, and the Federal Government.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

the ocean's bounty

In The Bounty Hunter, Wired magazine looks at a plan to retrieve the "riches shipwreck in history" and the technology used to make that plan. The same equipment was used for a recent survey of the Hudson Riverbed in New York State.
The results were so revealing that the city refused to release them for fear of mass looting. Every one of the hundreds of barges, tugboats, passenger ships, and pleasure craft that had sunk over the centuries had been identified.
I'd love to see a similar survey done on the waters off of the State of Delaware.

building cities pixel by pixel

The construction crew at City Creator have made the process of building a city fun. Keep in mind that building roads first can be a really good idea.

recording industry to visit the senate

We've been watching the Recording industry carefully, especially in the wake of a large number of suits they've brought against people for downloading music on the web. It appears that the US Senate has also.

hello Delaware

Local paper, the Wilmington News Journal takes a look at blogging and the legal profession with an article titled Lawyers air views on 'blogs'. If you're following the story from the newspaper, to the web, welcome aboard.

We try to cover a wide variety of topics from Delaware specific stories to national and international subjects. Sometimes you'll find something that looks like a rant here. It happens. If there's a topic that you're interested in on Delaware or Delaware and the law, please let us know.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Judge Haile Alford Found Dead

I am saddened to hear of our loss of Judge Alford.

I was working as a Staff Attorney at Superior Court when Judge Alford took the bench. I was struck by her ability to relate on a personal level while also commanding the respect that the Court deserves. She is an excellent role model, and will be sorely missed.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Vacation Notes

Hello from North Carolina. I would say that we wish you were here... but it would be crowded.

See you all in a week or two.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Same-Sex Entities

Limited Liability Companies (LLC) are increasingly popular vehicles for same sex domestic partners to organize their affairs and protect their respective financial interests, while at the same time conducting a side business. Although gay or lesbian marriages are not legally recognized in many places, Delaware Corporations are given wide acceptance. LLC's can provide a legal framework of rights which approach, but do not duplicate the traditional marital rights. With good planning, a business purpose, and sound legal guidance, an LLC combined with a Will, a Living Will, and a Durable Power of Attorney can accomplish your estate planning goals.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I Just Have One Question!

My staff and I hear this every day, all day long. Normal people who have questions about some legal aspect of their life, and want the answer. They don't want to pay for legal advice, they just want the answer to their question. Why should they have to pay for that!? Well the answer is 42.

What some clients don't understand is that in order for me to answer their one question, I must ask and answer dozens more. And even then we may need to review documents and trace the history of the problem. Thus what is initially percieved by the client as being a simple question, is most usually an hour or more of work.

Delaware Almanac : Courts

The News Journal's Almanac re: Courts gives us a nice quick reference guide to the who and where questions of Courts. While the Alamanac as a whole is an excellent resource for general info.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

sundaes and litigation

It's a hot day in Delaware, and an ice cream cone would be an enjoyable treat. The Washington Times is reporting about a George Washington University law professor and a consumer health group that have sent threatening letters to ice cream chains demanding healthier alternatives and more easily available consumer information in an article called Lawyers scream about ice cream.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Maryland Announces Closing of State

The Onion | Deficit-Wracked Maryland Calls It Quits

Now here's a perfect example of what happens when a State doesn't prop itself up with a well planned, stable, income base. Take a look at Delaware, in contrast. We have government sponsored gambling and liberal corporate formation laws. This helps us to get through the lean years. Too bad our neighbor didn't make arrangements for their economic future.

Anyone want some used State vehicles... cheap?

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Aren't There At least Two Trial Lawyers Per Trial?

As one thinks past the rhetoric and smirkish "trial lawyer" name calling, we can clearly see that President Bush and his propaganda crew can't logically be opposed to all trial lawyers, it must only be that one-half of them that oppose his clique of oil, insurance, and special interest industries. So, I suppose for him to be honest, he would have to say that his trial lawyers are ok, but not yours. But that level of honesty stretches even his level of school yard posturing.

It is easy to pick a word that many people dislike, and utter it with a distasteful look and a grimace. To do so disingenuously in support of one's own unrelated political agenda is the slimy sort of politics that works against the needs of the people as a whole. (see how I used the words "slimy sort of politics" here with a grimace)

Even litigators should be disappointed with the onset of a trial. A trial means that we have failed to encourage the parties to reach a reasonable resolution to their issues. But trials are there to keep us all honest. They are the constitutional backbone of our rights as citizens. Without the looming pressure of a trial, many folk would not have the incentive to negotiate reasonably.

Sure, there are erroneous trial results. That's why we have courts of appeals. Don't be distracted by the few examples held up on politically motivated banners. But let us work together to improve the judicial system with reforms that really help all of the people, not just the special interest campaign contributors.

Right, Jane?

Friday, July 18, 2003

Herbal Smokes Not Banned

A bunch of the boys were whoopin it up at the Malamute Saloon... or rather, Smyrna's Bulldozer saloon. Apparently they were sitting around drinking beer and smoking herbal cigarettes. And since herbal cigarettes aren't banned by Delaware's indoor no-smoking law, they can keep on doin' it. Kinda paints a different picture of the Smyrna bar scene though, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

For Sale: 1994 Ford Crown Victoria. +/- 140k loving miles. Factory tow package. 8 cyl. All the extras. Burns oil. Very good condition. $3250.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

cases back up in state courts

It looks as though someone from the Wilmington News Journal has been carefully studying statistics about the court system in Delaware. They've come up with a number of good points, and some excellent quotes from participants in the State's judicial system.

In their article entitled Cases back up in state courts, it's noted that
The number of cases filed in Delaware's state court system increased by 30 percent in the last decade, and the backlog waiting to be tried in some lower courts at the end of each year doubled and tripled.

It's good to get that decade long perspective, to see what changes have taken place. It would be interesting to define some aims or goals to use to measure the effectiveness of the courts over that period of time. A few are mentioned in passing, such as the length of time from arrest to disposition in cases.

There are signs in these numbers that the Courts, and the Public Defender and Attorney General need more personnel. When the State's Chief Justice asks for more people, it's a request worth considering seriously.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

A painful malpractice debate 07/12/03

From the Dodge Globe, finally, a well balanced and thoughtful discussion without the rhetoric: Kinsley: A painful malpractice debate : "The malpractice debate is a war of anecdotes. Both sides want you to feel that life could go awry at any moment."

blaming overtime amendment on trial lawyers?

In an article entitled House OKs rules to revise overtime, we get the following statement:

“The only winners under this amendment are the trial lawyers,” said Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Ga.

I'm trying to figure out exactly how that works...

arrrggh... there be treasure on them beaches

The Wilmington News Journal takes a look at treasure hunting along Delaware's shores, with metal detectors. The article quickly turns into a history of pirates who frequented Delaware's beaches and bay. If you find a local treasure map, you might not want to be too quick to scoff at it.

cache and copyright concerns

Ever use Google to search for information, and click on a link provided only to find the site isn't coming up? Then, returning to Google and clicking on the "cache" link to the site? I have, and it's vey useful.

But, is it ok for Google to have copies of web sites like that? I'm not sure that I want to make the argument for or against. It has helped me in the past.

But, there is a concern being voiced by some people on the web. There's an argument that I've seen a number of people make in web forums. It was only a matter of time before mainstream media took a closer look at Google's cache. Especially since it can provide looks at pages they've archived, to be retrieved for a price.

stocking the law library -- with CDs

The Delaware Law Office is a fan of law books on CD, and has been for years. When you consider how much can actually fit on one of those CDs, it really becomes a decision that doesn't require a great deal of thought.

There is something about having a book in your hands that can't be duplicated by the keyboard and monitor. But it's something that you can learn to do without when you consider the savings in terms of space, and convenience.

Just how large is the law library in your office? has an article that looks at law firms and their libraries: Revolution or Evolution for Law Libraries?

Friday, July 11, 2003

delaware seeks designers

Your help is needed if you are an artist or designer. And the results of your efforts could be seen on roadways in Delaware, and anywhere that a Delawarean might drive.

The State has sent out a call for artists to help design a novelty license plate "to honor Delaware's farmland preservation program."

Entries are due by August 12th. I don't see anything in the announcement that limits participation to Delawareans.
Delaware's gallows have now been dismantled.

international law and bounties

If you've been following along at home, this might sound a little like a rerun of a syndicated tv series. A bounty hunter, trying to bring in fugitives, while being a fugitive himself.

In the case of Duane Lee Chapman (warning, audio clip of "who let the dog out" plays repeatedly), it's the real thing. While capturing Andrew Luster in Mexico recently, he broke that Country's law. It's illegal to be a bounty hunter in Mexico.

This last Monday, instead of appearing in front of a Mexican judge, which is a weekly condition of his bail, Dog Chapman was busy picking up the bounty for the capture of Andrew Luster. The failure to appear now makes him a fugitive.

A Findlaw article on The Perils of Bounty Hunting offer an interesting and informative look at extradition in North America and the difficulties in chasing someone across national borders.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

banned books database

The Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression has created an international database of banned books called the Beacon for Freedom of Expression. I was surprised by how many banned books I've read.

Corporate Forms Disc Hits The Streets

DE LAW OFFICE today began offering for sale, a cd of more than 70 sample corporate and general business forms. For $50 plus shipping and handling. E-mail me to order.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

UNUM Steps In It Again

The United States District Court for the District of Delaware, in Purnell v. Unum C.A. No. 02-160-JJF, held up UNUM at 2nd base as UNUM tried to steal. Veteran pitcher, Selma Hayman, Esquire walked one make-believe doctor and then held the score to 0 - 0. UNUM is building a body of case law on their own, as they strive to cut their insureds from the bench, like so many unsigned free agents. Mark down a win for the little gal.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

delaware justices make the news

On Thursday of last week, former Vice-Chancellor Jack Jacobs was introduced as Justice Jack Jacobs, at an investiture ceremony held that afternoon at the New Castle County Courthouse.

Also on Thursday, his predecessor, Joseph T. Walsh was recognized by Delaware's Governor Ruth Ann Minner with the Order of the First State, the State's highest official governmental honor, for his years of public service.

justice O'Connor likely to return

it's beginning to look likely that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will likely return when the US Supreme Court reconvenes in October. Justice O'Connor indicates she will return to high court.

bursting the beach bubble

Housing and transportation are concerns everywhere. Delaware is such a small state, that it can be interesting watching how development in one part of a state can have an impact upon the whole state.

Sussex County, the southernmost part of Delaware, is going through interesting times. Between its access to the ocean, an evergrowing number of outlet shops, and the growth of a number of towns and developments, it is seeing some serious changes. And it's experiencing some serious growth spurts.

The Wilmington News Journal takes a look at real estate and traffic in the areas near Delaware's beaches and finds some reason for concerns.

Is there a real estate bubble waiting to burst? Are there steps that need to be taken now by the Delaware Department of Transportation to improve the traffic situation?

Friday, July 04, 2003

tv bricks and politics

I'd like a TV brick, a device that you hook up to a tv station and a DSL line, to watch any station in the world.

Right now, the broadcasting of stations outside their "geographical territory." violates copyright agreements. Broadcasters better consider changing those agreements fast. Moving slowly means that they're losing a lot of money.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

recognizing caesar rodney

A ceremony in Downtown Wilmington, Delaware recognized Delaware's revolutionary days hero Caesar Rodney.

While you may be familiar with Caesar Rodney's career as a politician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, his role as a Brigadier General in George Washington's army is less well known.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

artists v critics, round one

The Guardian UK has an amusing look at what they call the second most infamous libel trial of the 19th century. On one side, art and social critic John Ruskin, and on the other side James Whistler.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Delaware: Bankruptcy Venue to the World

Thanks to Senator Joe Biden, senior Democrat on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Delaware is positioning itself as the capital of bankruptcy filings. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware has signed a new lease in downtown Wilmington, effectively doubling the space that the Court had in its previous building. Also, of the 29 new bankruptcy judges approved by the U.S. Senate, four will sit in Delaware full time.

Currently, Delaware is head-to-head with New York for top honors, each pulling in about 20% of all major filings. So, whether you need a 7, 11, 12 (for bankrupt family farmers) or 13, Wilmington is the place to be.

-Kevin, Law Clerk

Saturday, June 28, 2003

accessible web sites

It's good to see the working draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 come out this last week. There are some great ideas in the draft. It's documents like this one that simultaneously remind you that the web is still in its infancy, and that it has great potential as a communications tool.

radio frequency identification overview

Security Focus magazine is running an article which gives an in depth look at privacy and technology in the form of RFID Chips. As they state:
The law of unintended consequences is about to encounter surveillance devices smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
I'm wondering when the first radio frequency identification blocking devices will start rolling out.

Friday, June 27, 2003

sneaking suspicions about Brighton, Delaware

Welcome to The City of Brighton would be a traffic sign that Fritz Schranck, of Sneaking Suspicions, would like to see in Sussex County Delaware. But...

There is no Brighton, Delaware. The only traffic it gets is to its homepage. Regardless, it's a brilliant idea.

don't call around here no more

It's now a reality. The National Do Not Call Registry is something you can sign up for online. I haven't checked into all of the details, and I'm going to make sure that I do before I submit my information. For people who sign up this summer, the telemarketers have to stop calling October 1st.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

retiring justice too soon

It's not every job that you can do well into your later days. Supreme Court Justice is an exception. The Christian Science Monitor is warning us that we may soon start seeing a justice or two retire. Or will we? Is it The great court shuffle that may not come. As the authors of the piece state:
Nothing concentrates Washington minds quite like speculation about an imminent departure from the US Supreme Court.

shiver me timbers

A blogdex search turned up this job posting from the Motion Picture Association, for a captain (Internet Enforcement Administrator - to use their words) to fight piracy world wide. It's amazing that they look for someone who has a intricate knowledge of networking protocols, supervisory skills, a firm grasp of legal issues related to the subject, and then they limit it to "California Residents only."

reducing repeat offenses

The Wilmington News Journal is reporting upon a project [that] helps ex-cons adjust. I like the sound of this program. It builds a support system based upon relationships between individuals.
The three-year project, created under a $2 million federal grant, would allow ex-convicts to work with one person instead of multiple agencies to receive services they need to successfully re-enter society
I think that this has a chance of having an impact upon recidivism rates.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

mediation only cases in Chancery Court

Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr. takes a look at how Delaware's Chancery Court might be able to fill a role in corporate disputes as a mediating body that hears a dispute privately, before any filing of a lawsuit may be undertaken.

The essay, 'Mediation Only' Filings in the Delaware Court of Chancery: Can New Value Be Added by One of America's Business Courts? explores the topic in fairly broad terms. It also provides insight into how the process will work now that the State of Delaware has made recent chances to Delaware's laws to allow for this type of mediation in Chancery Court.

delaware on the web

Dale Dallabrida takes a look at Delaware on the web for the Wilmington News Journal, in an article that provides a lot of links to local web sites. There are some great local links there if you want to find more online about the first state.

a little too connected

I've been managing to avoid getting a cell phone. I just don't want to be that connected to the world. But, it looks like it will be an unavoidable piece of technology. Or will it be?

I remember the "reasonable expectation of privacy" cases in law school over the content of telephone messages. But, what if it's location and not content that someone is interested in uncovering? The latest issue of Legal Affairs is filled with some great articles. One that captured my attention quickly was called Your Cellphone is a Homing Device. It defines possibilities as technology becomes more capable of infringing upon privacy:
No federal statute is keeping your wireless provider from informing Dunkin' Donuts that your visits to Starbucks have been dropping off and you may be ripe for a special coupon offer. Nor are cops explicitly required to obtain a judicial warrant before compiling a record of where you sneaked off to last Thursday night.
Speaking of technology and privacy, has anyone seen wallets for sale that have aluminum foil lining to block the radio frenquency identification tag in my work badge? Since I'm asking for shopping advice, I might as well also inquire about recommendations on shoes that don't trigger walk-through metal detectors?

Sunday, June 22, 2003

delaware witness relocation program

Delaware's Senate and House recently approved of bill in Delaware that echoes the Federal Winess protection Program. It's a well written set of statutes that covers the creation of a"witness services and relocation program."

This House Bill 61 from the 142nd General Assembly is awaiting the signature of Governor Minner. There's only one minor drawback to the bill that I can think of. That is, Where do you hide someone in Delaware? The State just seems to small to have a relocation program. Maybe we can set up an exchance program with some other small states.

Friday, June 20, 2003

more blawgers

We've been receiving some emails from people who have blogs that they thought might be interesting to us. We're glad they contacted us. I recently added Corp Law Blog to our list of blogs in response to an email sent our way, and no sooner than I did, we received an email from Broc Romanek of Blog. It's good to see these. Especially when they contain posts that might be of particular interest to Delaware readers, like today's post from Broc's blog which includes this nugget:
Compensation committees should heed the warning from Delaware ...Chancellor Chandler in the recent Disney opinion who indicated that directors might have personal liability for a breach of "good faith" if they approve compensation packages without exercising proper diligence. More to come on the Disney opinion soon...
Another surprise email was one from a lot closer to home. Law student to be, Ken Weeks, has been stirring up some dust with some stinging commentary on Delaware events and politics at Blogolution. We need more blogs from Delaware like Ken's. Of course, there's also Fritz Schranck's Sneaking Suspicions which has some great recent posts on Delaware's budget shortfalls.

setting bad examples

Senator Orrin Hatch has been sanctioning the use of destructive force to handle illegal file sharing.

It appears that the Senator's web site is using unlicensed softtware as part of its menu system, as discovered by Amish Tech Support. The folks at Wired have picked up on the story, in an article entitled Orrin Hatch, Software Pirate? Might want to duck and roll Senator.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

New Fines for Smokers

A new bill has passed the State House to fine smokers caught violating the Indoor Clean Air Act. Currently, the law imposes fines on the owner of a bar or restaurant when a complaint is filed. The new version will create fines for individual smokers who light up at an indoor public establishment.

While I am a huge fan of the Indoor Clean Air Act, I think that there are several problems with this mode of enforcement. First off, it will be incredibly difficult to enforce. Is the state planning on employing undercover smoke cops to slap handcuffs on offenders or are they planning on raiding bars SWAT team style? Generally complaints about people violating the Act are made by patrons after they leave a bar or restaurant. It seems unlikely that people will start calling in complaints while they are still at a restaurant and the owner of the establishment will not want to fine their own customers. The owner would probably be more likely to ask a patron to extinguish a cigarette than to call in the cops. Secondly, this does nothing to stop pro-smoking bar owners that allow their customers to violate the act. And lastly, by saying that the current fines are unfair to bar/restaurant owners, we are taking away their duty to help keep the air clean in their own watering holes. It’s really not that hard to keep smoking under control. When the smell of smoke isn’t in the air, it is much easier to detect one person lighting up. The last time that I was in a crowded bar and someone lit a cigarette, you could smell it across the whole room and the bouncer found the offender within a few seconds.

Maybe the fine for people caught smoking indoors should be to eat a pack of cigarettes. That should solve the problem pretty quick.

Kevin, Law Clerk Extraordinaire

delaware -- last state in speech

It's been a couple of hundred years, but we finally have freedom of speech in Delaware. We are the last state.

Here's the text of the Bill that passed into law this week in Delaware:
Delaware State Senate

142nd General Assembly

Senate Bill No. 7

An Act Concurring in a Proposed Amendment to Article I, Section 5 of the Delaware Constitution of 1897, as Amended, Relating to Freedom of Speech.

Be it Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (Two-thirds of all members elected to each house thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Amend Article I, section 5 of the Delaware Constitution of 1897, as amended, by inserting in the title of §5 the words "and speech" after the phrase "Freedom of press" and before the semicolon.

Section 2. Amend Article I, section 5 of the Delaware Constitution of 1897, as amended, by inserting the following sentence before the first sentence:

"The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man."

Section 3. Amend Article I, section 5 of the Delaware Constitution of 1897, as amended, by inserting the words "freely speak, write and" between the phrases "and any citizen may" and "print on any subject".


This is the second leg of a Constitutional Amendment. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America prohibits Congress from making a law that abridges freedom of speech. Delaware is one of the only states in the country that has failed to adopt a similar amendment explicitly guaranteeing its citizens the freedom of speech. This Constitutional Amendment guarantees Delaware citizens the right to freedom of speech, which includes spoken or written communications.

The protections afforded Delawareans in this Constitutional Amendment serve to reinforce one of the most basic, fundamental rights upon which this country was founded – the right to communicate one’s thoughts and ideas without fear of government persecution. Throughout history, people; around the world have struggled and fought for this very right.

Delaware’s Bill of Rights was modeled upon the 1790 Constitution of Pennsylvania. Thus, the language contained in this Amendment closely tracks the Pennsylvania constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to free speech. This will offer Delawareans consistency and continuity in the enjoyment of their State constitutional rights.

Author: Senator Blevins
Free speech. It feels good. We should have done this sooner.