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.