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.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Cooch's Bridge, then and now

The State of Delaware has taken steps, 6,750,000 steps actually, to preserve part of Delaware and U.S. history. At the site of the the only Revolutionary War land battle in Delaware, and the first land battle in the war [decent pictures dude!] at which the stars and stripes were unfurled, is Cooch's Bridge and the Cooch House. It is more than a traffic snarl, and a dangerously narrow rush hour funnel. It is a unique and important site, just ask the Daughters of the American Revolution. I look forward to its preservation and to the opportunity to visit it as a State Park.

The Cooch House, 1936
Historic American Buildings Survey W. S. Stewart, Photographer

And the Cooch family relevance in Delaware did not end there. Descendants are still prominent in Delaware. Case in point, New Castle County Superior Court Resident Judge, The Honorable Richard R. Cooch. Time, Delaware, and the Cooch family, march on.

new mural shows old newark

I'm a big fan of public art works. Especially murals. The City of Newark has a new mural on the wall of their Park Division's Office. It's based upon a photograph of Newark, taken almost 100 years ago. The painting was created by Amy Calvarese.

an image of horses pulling sleighs down the Main Street of Newark, Delaware.

This small image doesn't do the original wall sized picture justice. I understand another mural will be painted in the office, and plans are in the works for at least one mural outdoors in Newark in the near future.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

open source software in state government

The idea of states using Linux for IT projects doesn't seem outrageous. At least, those are my thoughts after reading a Linux Journal article called Linux Access in State and Local Government, Part I. I hope that there's going to be a part two sometime soon. I'd like to hear more.

doing art online

Recommended reading: a thoughful and interesting look at selling art work online called Format Wars: What Cartoonists Can Learn from Other Media in the Digital Age

politics and the bench in delaware

Delaware Grapevine's Celia Cohen has a great article about the judicial leadership in Delaware called Judging Republicans. It seems that four out of five of the major courts in Delaware are headed by Republican presiding judges. And that's "after 10 years of Democratic governors naming the judges."

My favorite quote from the article is this one:
In analyzing the Delaware judiciary, it pays to remember that there actually are three major political parties in the state -- Democrats, Republicans and Sussex County. Adams is an undisputed power in Sussex County, which plays politics under its own set of rules. Party labels usually pale beside personal relationships, and that is what accounts for a number of the presiding judges.
It's an insightful look at politics and the Bench in Delaware.

ftc gearing up for the 21st century

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made a presentation before the US House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection earlier today. While the Washington Post is focusing upon the agency's statements about needing more tools to combat spam, the FTC asked for more than that. The agency is asking for "reauthorization" with some new tools and powers. Commissioners of the Agency provided testimony on a number of other subjects:
The Commissioners also provided a range of legislative recommendations that would: 1) enact measures to improve the FTC’s ability to combat cross-border fraud; 2) enact measures to improve the FTC’s ability to combat unauthorized commercial e-mail, commonly known as spam; 3) eliminate the FTC Act’s exemption for communications common carriers; and 4) make it possible for the agency to accept certain types of reimbursement that will enhance overall mission performance.
The recommendations made would provide considerably more power for the agency to use to combat cross border unsolicited commercial email, would make getting subpoenas easier, and would amend the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act to include "deceptive and abusive practices" when it comes to email.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

spike vs spike

Spike TV or Spike Lee? That's the question. The world isn't big enough for the both of them, claims Spike Lee.

three strikes revisited

Local pundit Al Mascitti takes a close look at a recent ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court ordering a resentencing in an criminal felony case where the original sentence had been extended to life based upon prior convictions and Delaware's Habitual Offender statute.

teen speaks out about riaa's legal threat

While ABC is reporting about the teenager who agreed to pay the RIAA $ 12,000.00 for them to drop their multi-billion dollar lawsuit against him, it's kind of interesting to hear more about what transgression he was guilty of. He had created a search engine that uncovered the contents of a network of computers.

More details follow on his web site,

MD Court tries to Medic Budget with Long Arm Tax

Monday, the Maryland Court of Appeals, Judge John C. Eldridge, used a long handled ladle to reach into Delaware income and claim it taxable in Maryland. In a decision that will likely be appealed, the Maryland Court ruled that the defendant corporations were using Delaware corporations as vehicles to hide profits. Central to the Judge's reasoning was that the proper steps to establish a real and substantial business presence in Delaware had not been taken, and that the Delaware corporations were not much more than mail drops.

Lesson to be learned? Do it right. If you are going to properly form your entity to make lawful and effective use of Delaware's corporate, taxation laws and judicial structures, take the time and effort to establish an actual business presence. Sham's will be treated as shams.

There are a great number of reasons to incorporate in Delaware for business, and financial purposes. For ease of filing, cost, efficiency, tax and corporate friendly laws, and a specialized business court, Delaware is unsurpassed. It is important to properly plan your Delaware incorporation, however, and take the appropriate steps to meet your particular goals. Some of these steps are: obtaining legal and accounting advice; choosing the right type of corporate entity; choosing the right Delaware registered agent; assuring that all of your documents are filed correctly and maintained; and determining what level of business presence will be necessary to meet the goals of your incorporation plan. It was (apparently) on this last step that the defendant corporations were weighed and found wanting.

[later -- More here from the Wilmington News Journal.]

Sunday, June 08, 2003

jazz comes to town

One of the biggest annual musical events in Delaware kicks off next Sunday, and runs from June 15 thorugh June 22. It's the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. Two of the performers attending will be Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis. There is quite a crew of other talented performers planning on attending. This will be good.

expanding chancery court

Delaware's Chancery Court is different from most courts in most states in the United States. Less than a handful of states have courts that only handle equity cases. Earlier this week, we posted a copy of the legislation that our Governor signed which adds cases involving disputes over $1 million in the technology industry, and to allow Chancery's judicial officers to act as mediators in disputes prior to the filing of a lawsuit.

Will this addition in jurisdiction help or harm the State? One difficulty I envision is defining what exactly a "technology" case may be. But, regardless of the difficulties of that determination, I'm guessing that this will work out well. If not for any other reason than the fact that Delaware's Chancellor and Vice-Chancellors fully deserve the fine reputation they possess.

Since there are no juries in a Chancery Court, many decisions of the Court will be issued in writing. As those begin to accumulate, a body of case law will develop. It will be interesting to see where that leads us. For more on the growing court, the local Wilmington News Journal is carrying a story called Jurisdiction, judges' power expanded.

Friday, June 06, 2003

too much time is cruel AND unusual

As our society of people becomes desensitized to violence on the screen and in video games, our legal society is evolving on an opposite path. In Delaware, we have abolished the whipping post, chosen the less dramatic/barbaric (if that can be possible) lethal injection method of capital punishment, and now drawn the dotted line in the shifting sands as to how much time in jail constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

On the 30th of May, the Delaware Supreme Court decided to remand the case of Crosby v. Delaware for a third time, because the lower Court's 45 year sentence under Delaware's "too many strikes" law was so long as to be impermissible under the U.S. Supreme Court's recent 8th Amendment rulings. In the Delaware Supreme Court's 43 + page Opinion, it can clearly be seen that the Court is interpreting the U.S. Supreme Court rulings and apply them to the facts in Crosby. We were a little lost in some of the language in the first half of the Opinion, but found the review of the history of Delaware's habitual criminal statutes and the ultimate logic of the analysis to be instructive.

The Delaware Supreme Court's decision is, of course by definition, correct. This entry is a report and commentary and is not intended as a critique.

more proof

That Denise Howell is awesome comes in this Wired article called Gag Rules? Bloggers Report Anyway.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

in the public domain

I've signed the petition to Reclaim the Public Domain in support of the Public Domain Enhancement Act.

While I was there, I looked through some of the other signatures of folks who put their names on the document. There's a section called "Something I Created Using Public Domain Work" which allows people to write about their efforts to improve our society by using ideas and works from the public domain.

I grabbed some links to those, and want to share them. There's some awesome stuff amongst them, and these were just taken from the first 5,000 or so signers. If you've created anything from the public domain, you might want to go and show your support. You'll be in good company. I had so many links that I'm publishing some of them here, and some of them over on my other blog.

Translation: The Cry of Merlin the Wise
Dorothea Salo’s translation of a text from 1498, about a mage named Merlin.

The Oyez Project
is a dazzling multimedia approach to the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Symbology for the Cathedral
I didn't know that there was a Cathedral underneath Central Park. This Arcanum Project is spooking me out.

Giant World History Timeline Chart
I really want this for my wall. But first, I think I have to get a bigger wall.

The Book of Dzyan
Russian psychic Helena Petrovna Blavatsky kind of scares me. She has a pretty intense stare.

appears to marry ecards and old photos, and you're going to be wondering just where in the world they got some of those photos.

The Freenet Project
An interesting type of software that allows encrypted surfing.

Internet Moving Images Archives
everytime I visit the Prelinger Archives, I come away wanting a bigger, faster computer with lots of video editing software so that I can make my own collages of films.

Berkman Center's H2O Project
Harvard is using this set of software projects to build community, and aid education.

Apache Software Foundation
open source software projects.

Some neat stuff, and that's only a few of them.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

complaining about the laws

The story of a South Baltimore resident who spent 5 1/2 hours in lockup for complaining to police about prioritizing their click-it seat belt roadblocks is a sad commentary upon our police system and government.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

winer on blogs

Dave Winer takes a look at blogs at Havard, and asks What makes a weblog a weblog?. It's a work in progress, and may see some changes. Not sure that I agree with everything said there so far, but I'll wait to see how the final edition turns out.