Friday, May 30, 2003

New Law Expands Chancery Court's Role

Senate Bill 58, reportedly signed by Governor Minner yesterday and now named Title 10 Sections 346 and 347 of the Delaware Code, greatly increases Chancery Court's jurisdiction to include technology disputes worth more than one million dollars and, allows private pre-litigation mediation to be handled by the Court.

This is HUGE.

§346. Technology Disputes.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision in this Code, and without limiting the jurisdiction vested in any court in this State, the Court of Chancery shall have power to mediate and jurisdiction to hear and determine technology disputes as defined herein when
  1. the parties have consented to the jurisdiction of or mediation by the Court of Chancery by agreement or by stipulation,
  2. at least one party is a business entity as defined herein,
  3. at least one party is a business entity formed or organized under the laws of this State or having its principal place of business in this State,
  4. no party is a consumer, as that term is defined in § 2731 of Title 6, with respect to the technology dispute, and
  5. in the case of technology disputes involving solely a claim for monetary damages, the amount in controversy is no less than one million dollars or such greater amount as the Court of Chancery determines by rule.
Neither punitive damages nor a jury trial shall be available for a technology dispute heard and determined by the Court of Chancery pursuant to this Section. Mediation proceedings shall be considered confidential and not of public record.

(b) A ‘business entity’ means a corporation, statutory trust, business trust or association, a real estate investment trust, a common-law trust, or any other unincorporated business, including a partnership (whether general (including a limited liability partnership) or limited (including a limited liability limited partnership)) or a limited liability company.

(c) A ‘technology dispute’ means a dispute arising out of an agreement and relating primarily to: the purchase or lease of computer hardware; the development, use, licensing or transfer of computer software; information, biological, pharmaceutical, agricultural or other technology of a complex or scientific nature that has commercial value, or the intellectual property rights pertaining thereto; the creation or operation of Internet web sites; rights or electronic access to electronic, digital or similar information; or support or maintenance of the above. The term does not include a dispute arising out of an agreement
  1. that is primarily a financing transaction, or
  2. merely because the parties’ agreement is formed by, or contemplates that communications about the transaction will be by, the transmission of electronic, digital or similar information.

(d) The Court shall interpret the term ‘technology dispute’ liberally so as to effectuate the intent of this section to provide an expeditious and expert forum for the handling of technology disputes involving parties who have agreed to resolve their disputes in the Court of Chancery, whether the parties are seeking to have the Court of Chancery
  1. mediate the dispute only,
  2. mediate the dispute initially, and if that fails, adjudicate the dispute; or
  3. adjudicate the dispute.
The Court shall adopt rules to facilitate the efficient processing of technology disputes, including rules to govern the filing of mediation only technology disputes, and to set filing fees and other cost schedules for the processing of technology disputes.”

§347. Mediation Proceedings For Business Disputes

Without limiting the jurisdiction of any court of this State, the Court of Chancery shall have the power to mediate business disputes when
  1. the parties have consented to the mediation by the Court of Chancery by agreement or by stipulation,
  2. at least one party is a business entity as defined in § 346 of this Title,
  3. at least one party is a business entity formed or organized under the laws of this State or having its principal place of business in this State,
  4. no party is a consumer, as that term is defined in § 2731 of Title 6, with respect to the business dispute, and
  5. in the case of disputes involving solely a claim for monetary damages, the amount in controversy is no less than one million dollars or such greater amount as the Court of Chancery determines by rule.
A mediation pursuant to this section shall involve a request by parties to have a member of the Court of Chancery, or such other person as may be authorized under rules of the Court, act as a mediator to assist the parties in reaching a mutually satisfactory resolution of their dispute. Mediation proceedings shall be considered confidential and not of public record. By rule, the Court of Chancery may define those types of cases that are eligible for submission as a business dispute mediation. This section is intended to encourage the Court of Chancery to include complex corporate and commercial disputes, including technology disputes, within the ambit of the business dispute mediation rules. The Court of Chancery should interpret its rule-making authority broadly to effectuate that intention.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

bill proposes delaware trusts for pets

Delaware House Bill 31 passed the House of Representatives and is now awaiting action in the Senate Judiciary Committee:
House Bill No. 31

An Act to Amend Title 12 of the Delaware Code Relating to Trusts.

Be it Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Amend Title 12 of the Delaware Code by enacting as a new "sec. 3593. Caretaker Trusts For Pets." and "sec. 3594 Definitions." as follows:

"Sec. 3593. Caretaker Trusts For Pets.

Purpose. It is hereby established under Delaware law that persons can leave funds in a ‘Caretaker Trust’ for the care of pets similar to other trusts under Delaware law subject to the same rules, regulations and reporting requirements as other trusts.

Sec. 3594. Definitions.

‘Caretaker Trust’. A type of Trust that provides for the care of a pet or pets.

‘Caretaker Trustee’. A person or entity that serves as the principal director of the trust, including trust companies, financial institutions, educational institutions, and any other corporations permitted under Delaware law to serve as trustee for a trust.".


This establishes "Caretaker Trusts For Pets" as a type of Trust permitted under Delaware law
The proposed bill would allow Delawareans to establish trusts for the benefit of their pets, so that the pets may be cared for after the death of the pet owners. Delaware Lawyers have previously had to draft Trust and Will provisions that leave funds to humans, with conditions and with the hope that the humans would care for the pets.

If passed, the pet owners will be able to make more clear and enforceable trust provisions, naming their pets and appointing a "caretaker". This will be a nice step forward in enabling residents to plan for the care of their pets.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

A conspiracy of sorts -- Blawgs from our blogroll that begin with the letter "v" have decided to move. I'm guessing that they didn't call each other first, and it's purely a coincidence.

Just in case, if you've previously bookmarked the Volokh Conspiracy or Votelaw, you'll want to update your favorites. If you haven't visited either site before, now's your chance.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

one year at the trademark blog

The law is amazing sometimes, like when state supreme courts make rulings determining that cats aren't dogs. It's good to have a place where common sense and a bit of humor shine through like Martin Schwimmer's Trademark Blog, which turned one this weekend. Congratulations!

judging delaware

Governor Minner made two judicial nominations on Friday. One will bring Vice-Chancellor Jack B. Jacobs to the Delaware Supreme Court. The other sees Family Court Associate Judge Chandlee Johnson Kuhn becoming the Chief Judge in Family Court.

The Wilmington News-Journal is overjoyed by the nomination of Vice Chancellor Jacobs, and explain why in an editorial in today's paper. I'd have to say that their analysis is spot-on.

The Governor's press release indicates when these nominees will be presented to the Senate for confirmation. From this vantage, it appears unlikely that there will be any controversy over the selections. Celia Cohen has a nice look at the nominees over at the Delaware Grapevine.

a road runs through it

Delaware has spent $894 million on a road that passes through a large part of the State, from the City of Wilmington, to the south of Dover. In addition to being one of the costliest public works projects in State history, it has transformed the State.

justice bobbled

It was bound to happen. OK, maybe it wasn't. The publishers of law journal Green Bag are producing a 1000 figure limited run of Justice William Rehnquist bobble-headed dolls. One was sent to the Chief Justice earlier this month.

Right now, on the web site of Green Bag, you can "click his head to see him move."

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

blogging security and the matrix

An article from IDG's Computer World looks at the use of blogs in developing homeland security.

One organization that will be using limited-access blogs as knowledge sharing tools will be the Multistate Anti-TeRrorism Information EXchangetm (MATRIX). For more about the MATRIXtm and other trademarked policing programs, visit the Institute for Intergovernmental Research.

And here's a link to that other Matrix.

the first state in science

Delaware's schools have been receiving accolades over a set of curriculum standards for science classes that are ranked amongst the top three in the country, and had them consulting with the heads of schools like MIT during the planning stages.

May is Archeology Month in Delaware, and there are a large number of events happening thoughout the state.

old business

A 319 year old farm in Kent County, Delaware, has been named the fifth oldest family business in the United States. The family originally purchased the property from someone who was granted ownership of the land directly from William Penn. Family Business Magazine lists the 102 oldest family run businesses in their spring issue. It's an awesome list.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Anchorage balances free speech with safety, in considering anti-panhandler legislation

With some modifications, the anti-panhandler ordinance became a safety ordinance. Rather than proposing an absolute ban, the revised, proposed ordinance would ban all such sign waving and begging activities within 4 feet of the curb.

Defendant's Doozie of the Week

"I have an SUV, so I can drive 70 in the snow"

[ a 35mph zone after drinking, an accident, and running a stop sign]

Sunday, May 11, 2003

floating around the blogoverse

A visit by the Secret Service to a couple of high school students in Oakland, California, have many people upset.

Webraw is telling us that weblogs will save the world. The author makes lots of great points.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has made a ruling about gun ownership upholding a California law which bans a number of different types of assault weapons.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

delaware news

A team from the University of Delaware has unveiled exciting new technology with a wide variety of applications. Their terahertz nanotechnology emitter is a breakthough in a number of fields.

Delaware is the target of an ad campaign aiming at stopping an increase in taxes for tobacco products. The claim being made is that any additional taxes on cigarettes will result in an increase in crime.

the great seal

"Novus Ordo Seclorum" is the phrase that comes under the pyramid on the American seal. The best explanation I've seen of what that means comes from an Armistice Day Address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Just exactly what is a "New order for the ages?"

Above the pyramid comes another phrase: "Annuit Coeptus" which translates to Providence Has Favored Our Undertakings.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

reducing crime

I enjoyed an article which I came across that addresses some of the problems of recidivism, and high incarceration rates, while looking at New York's Parole system with an intelligent and critical eye. There are some good suggestions throughout. The article is How to Straighten Out Ex-Cons.

licensing your dog

If Delaware has approximately the same "per capita" dog ownership as the rest of the United States, then it may be possible that only one-in-eight dogs in the State are properly licensed. Not very many.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Defendant's Doozie of the Week

"If the police had arrested me right away like they should have, I wouldn't have had time to commit the other offenses! ... So they should be dismissed"

Thursday, May 01, 2003

New Rules of Professional Conduct

Effective July 1, 2003, there is a new set of the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct. There are some humungous changes. It will take me a couple of years to fully digest the implications. Here is the full text, in pdf format. I've got two months. :-) Aye Aye Captain