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. Toynbee.net 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. News.com 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.