Monday, December 27, 2004

Judge Gebelein Continuing His Efforts to Support Humanity and Justice in Afghanistan

Several months ago when we wrote about our Judge Gebelein being activated and sent to the middle east as a Colonel with the Delaware Army National Guard, we knew that we would hear more of his work there. And the word has begun to trickle in. In Sunday's News Journal, you can read about how the Del. judge adopts Afghan orphanage. We are proud of Judge Gebelein, and hope that the support for his efforts there will continue to flow in.

Monday, December 13, 2004


After three years of law school, three months of studying for the bar exam, two and a half months of waiting for the bar results, and then two more months of waiting, I am finally a lawyer. Delaware Attorney #4576 to be exact. The ceremony was very nice and more interactive than I had expected. Larry got to stand in front of the Supreme Court Justices and say that it was his pleasure to move my admission to the bar of this great State of Delaware. And the Justices accepted my admission and welcomed me to the Bar. To which I responded with a "Thank you, your honor" that was a long time in the making. I'm nervous of course, but really looking forward to getting some experience under my belt.

Also, I know that I've really slacked off on the blog entries about my clerkship, but the truth is that after I got started writing I found that I didn't have too many interesting things to say on the subject. So, here are a few insights I picked up along the way:

- If you are going to appeal a case to the Delaware Supreme Court, make sure that you have a really good argument.

- If you wear a suit anywhere near the New Castle County Courthouse, be prepared to be stopped and asked, "Are you a lawyer?"

- It is really hard to find a civil trial in Court of Common Pleas. Here's a hint for anyone still working on their checklist: The Supreme Court has one on tape.

- If you are just going to a Sheriff sale just to watch, don't bring your checkbook. Or your ATM card.

- There's not much to learn by simply watching a jury selection happen. Most of the lawyer's whisper amongst themselves and the judge turns on a white noise machine when talking to potential jurors. Also, it seems like most people really don't want to serve on a jury. I didn't really understand this mentality for short trials. I wouldn't want to sit in the jury box for a week, let alone six months, but I would love to be called for jury duty for a few days.

- When going to a hearing in Chancery Court, leave your cell phone, laptop, pager, etc. in the car. It's easier than having to surrender your electronics to the bailiff.

- Federal District Court is really quiet and the courtrooms are huge.

- An uncontested divorce hearing only takes about five minutes. I think that this suprises a lot of pro se litigants. Quick story: One of the cases that I sat in on was a woman who had been seperated from her husband for seventeen years without getting a divorce. After the initial questions, the judge asked, "Do you know your husband's address?" The woman responded, "Nope." The judge asked, "Do you know your husband's social security number?" The woman again responded, "Nope." The judge then asked, "When was the last time that you spoke to your husband?" To which the woman responded, "About sixteen years ago." The judge then granted the divorce. The woman, visibly elated, looked at me as she exited the courtroom and excitedly whispered, "YES!!" I wonder if she had known that the hearing would be so easy, if she had just gotten it over with in 1987.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Buy Nothing and Get Arrested

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.

I enjoy the joining together of family, the holiday feast, the mistletoe, and singing of songs, the decorations, and the giving of gifts. Yet I often wonder if the whole celebration is too commercialized.

When the lines start forming at the doors of shopping centers at 4 am, enticed by offers too good to refuse, I get a little bothered.

There's a movement that a growing number of people are participating in called Buy Nothing Day, sponsored by a group that asks us to look seriously at consumerism run wild, and to take some action to make others think seriously about it too.

Three sisters from Newark, Delaware, traveled to Christiana Mall this last Black Friday to try to get others to think about the holiday season in terms of what it means without the consumerism. They were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing for their efforts.

My family has instituted a no-gift-above-$10 rule this year. I hope admitting that in public doesn't get me led away in handcuffs.

Goodbye Paper, and Good Riddance

From the New Castle County Clerk of the Peace office comes the news that they will be getting rid of paper records.

It's great news. Remove the 400,000 thousand index cards, the 100 plus dusty old binders and books, and the hundreds of microfilm reels. Their day is done.

The Clerk of the Peace office keeps track of marriage licenses, and while they do a pretty good job of it, relying on the older media can mean that looking up older records can be a time consuming task. And all that paper takes up a lot of space.

When you hear that it will take about 30 DVDs to replace all of their paper records, you get a little idea of how much of an improvement that is. When you find out that it will take seconds to find records, even the older ones, the impact really hits home. Especially when some older records would take days and weeks to locate.

Certified copies of marraige licenses are needed for divorces, for estate law cases, for genealogical searches, and for other instances where that record may be important. This change will make the work of finding those records much easier for the Clerk's Office, and the decreased waiting time will be a boon for the people who need the records.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Busing Newark: those who make the laws rarely ride the bus

A plan for a bus hub in Newark sounds like it has everything going for it.

From what I gather, no longer will larger buses be roaming the streets of Newark. The destination point for the vehicles will be the transit hub, and smaller city buses will travel around the neighborhood streets.

Fine and good.

But it leads me to wonder how many of the people making this decision actually depend upon bus routes. How many of them know what it is like to transfer from bus to bus to bus to get to work. Especially on cold winter days, or when riders rely upon a wheelchair.

Are the smaller buses capable of picking up and carrying passengers with wheelchairs?

There are a series of public meetings to be held on this project. The first will be at the Newark Public Library from 4 pm to 7 pm on December 15th. I hope my bus gets me there on time.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Tax Presence - Tax Shelter or Tax Sham

Well, it froze over! I agree with a statement attributed to Richard Geisenberger in the News Journal today in an article about Delaware's efforts to continue to lead the way as a Corporate Headquarters location. He reportedly said:

"The stronger your presence in Delaware, the stronger defense you'll have in tax court,"

Delaware created a statutory Headquarters Management Corporation to provide structure and incentive for corporations to house their headquarters functions in Delaware. It is hoped by the State that this will bring new jobs and increased State revenues.

But this new law, and new type of corporation wasn't intended to handle all situations. Analysis will continue to be performed by other States' courts as to whether the protections under Delware Law have been properly implemented. As I have said many times, and as Richard Voll, Esquire (New Jersey) is reported to have said:

"You can't get credit just because you have a piece of paper in a lawyer's desk, you have to earn it."

This means that you should follow the advice of competent counsel as to the setting up and operation of your Delaware corporation, so as to receive the full benefit of this lawful vehicle to efficiency and tax savings.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Two Radically Different Approaches to Privacy and Incorrect Domain Names

A friend is setting up his first web site, and asked me for some advice about hosting, choices of blogging software, and what information he should provide during the registration of a domain name.

One of his big worries and concerns was that his home address would display in the whois information for the site.

I suggested that he contact the host and domain registrar whom we had thought would be a good match for him, to see if they offered the private registration that some registrars do provide. The host responded, saying that they did not offer the type of "registration by proxy" that some other registrars did, and suggested that after he signed up for their service, that he could go in, and change the address to something other than his billing address.

I wonder what they had in mind.

When I saw that the Canadian Internet Registration Authority had come up with a New Standard for Domain Name Whois Privacy, I wondered why the registration of commercial addresses (.com) couldn't be handled in the same manner.

As pointed out in a recent engadget post, "The Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act presumes that anyone who has tried to protect his or her privacy by faking the WHOIS info in a domain name registration is willfully infringing copyright or trademark."

The Bill imposes the possibility of some pretty serious criminal penalties for including false information in the whois record for a site. Yet, many people do, and have done so to protect their privacy for a number of seemingly very legitimate reasons - the protection of privacy or the ability to anonymously exercise free speech.

Yes, people do sometimes (perhaps often) purposefully provide false whois information as part of an attempt to commit fradulent acts. But the Canadian solution may be closer to a reasonable solution than the one offered by the U.S. House of Representatives.

My friend is going to change his whois information to his work address, so that he doesn't come home to find his wife and home and neighborhood invaded by someone who may have disagreed with an opinion stated on his new website.

Message on a T-Shirt

A thirteen year old in Middletown has been ordered to cover up his T-Shirt because of a political statement on it.

The front of the shirt reads 'The Real Terrorist Is In The White House', and has been called a distraction by school officials.

Free speech can be a distraction. It's a burden that living in a society where people can express their opinions brings us.

Seems like the display of this garment in public presents an opportunity to talk about topics such as democracy, free speech, political power, the processes of government, and many more.

Or the squelching of intellectual curiosity, and the drowning of rational debate and discourse.

The T-Shirt doesn't sound like the type of harmful distraction that maliciously yelling "Fire" in a theatre would be, but rather that of a young mind trying to understand.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Complaining could get you sued

Yahoo! News - Web Site for Complaints Sparks Lawsuit

A couple in Georgia created a website,, to give unsatisified consumers a place to complain about the sprayed-on siding on their houses. Now the company that manufactured their siding is fighting back, filing suit against the couple for copyright infringement, defamation, and misleading consumers.

This case could lead to some very interesting rules about what you can and can't post on the Internet.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Clerkship Journal

As I mentioned a few days ago, before I can be sworn in to practice law in Delaware, I need to complete a clerkship checklist. I plan on commenting here in the blog about a few select items on my checklist in the next few weeks before the swearing in ceremony. The first item on the list is "Attendance at one complete civil trial in a Justice of the Peace Court ."

Fortunately, before heading out to any old JP Court, I had the foresight to ask Larry which one I should attend. Most of the JP Courts only handle criminal matters, while JP Court #12 near Price's Corner is a civil court. Maybe they did that to trick the unsuspecting law clerks.

My first impressions of the court were how tiny it was and how cold it was in the courtroom. The receptionist told me that I could sit in the back of the courtroom which was about a foot behind the tables where the litigants sat. I was also struck by how informal the proceedings were. No opening argument, no introductions by the litigants or their lawyers. The judge simple started asking questions of the parties.

Pretty simple. It almost appeared to me like a mediation session with the judge playing the mediator.

Get Out and Vote Delaware

I've been encouraged by all of the folks I've heard expressing an interest in getting to the election ballots.

With some state elections decided by the slimmest of margins last year, I think we received a message that every vote does count. I heard a local radio broadcast a couple of days ago that mentioned that a large number of people in their 40s and 50s had registered to vote in their first elections

Polls in Delaware open at 7:00 am, and close at 8:00 pm.

A record number of voters are expected to turn out to decide who our future representatives willl be.

If you are a registered voter in Delaware, and you're not sure of which poll you are supposed to vote at, the Department of Elections has a Polling Place Locator online that you can use.

Delaware's electronic voting system enables votes to be counted fairly quickly. The polls close tomorrow at 8:00 pm, and the Delaware Department of Elections should be reporting results soon afterward.

See you at the polls.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Coming Soon! The NCC Superior Court Verdict Book!

We are very excited about our recent purchase of the data for the New Castle County Superior Court Verdict Book. This is a little known public data source which gives us information on verdicts in civil cases. will be posting this book in its entirety, and updating it monthly! This is a great resource and will now be readily accessible to the public, like it should be.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

"So, are you a lawyer yet?"

A big thank you to everyone who has congratulated me on passing the bar and an answer to the question, "So, are you a lawyer yet?" The answer: not quite yet. As per Supreme Court Rule 52(a)(8), I have to complete a five month clerkship ( . Also, under Supreme Court Rule 52(a)(1) ( , I have to have "good moral character and reputation."

Well, I'm making a lot of progress on my clerkship checklist and I will post the details of that in the coming weeks. Also, I had my Character and Fitness interview (there were no jumping jacks or sit-ups involved) which was surprisingly painless. The Character and Fitness board member that interviewed me gave me a bit of a ribbing about a speeding ticket that I got a few years ago, but I otherwise passed with flying colors. There was a laugh at the expense of my Duck-torate degree ( from the Walt Disney World College Program.

So as long as all continues to go well, I will be sworn in to practice in the State of Delaware on December 10, 2004. Then I will officially be a lawyer that is licensed to practice law.

Kevin S. Mann

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Watching the Disney Trial

You don't need to be in Georgetown, Delaware, to watch the Disney trial presently happening in Chancery Court.

There's a webcast available for anyone who would like to see the events of the trial unfold. Courtroom Connect is providing free access for up to 50 simultaneous viewers from outside of Delaware, and unlimited simultaneous access for Delaware Residents. If there are more than 50 viewers watching at the same time from outside of the state, there is a fee of $10 for those outside of Delaware to view the broadcast for the day. Details are on their site at: Disney trial webcast

The free webcasts are time delayed. They are also providing realtime viewing for a fee.

I haven't tried the service yet, but will probably give it a shot sometime tomorrow.

The first of three planned witnesses for the share holders testified today on whether the record reflected that the board discussed the hiring and subsequent firing of the president of the company, Michael Ovitz.

This is the first time that a Delaware Court has made a webcast available to the public.

Ebooks, online publishing, and the EFF

Cory Doctorow is a science fiction novelist, advocate for online publishing, and member of The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

An interview with him provides some thoughtful commentary on how electronic publishing can work to help a first time novelist's career.

With a future in sight that promises more online distribution of music, movies, and books, listening to the success of one author is probably a good idea.

Lip-Sticking interviews Joy London of Excited Utterances

Definitely worth checking out - an insightful interview from Yvonne Divita of blogger Joy London, who writes about issues involving the knowledge management of law firms.

It provides some great information about the inner workings of large law firms, and the ways they look at technology and knowledge management. For even more on the subject, visit excited utterances.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Delaware's Official State Ghosts

Somehow I didn't expect to see ghost stories on the State of Delaware's web site.

But then, I hadn't realized that the Governor's Mansion, Woodburn, is haunted.

According to some stories about the Woodburn Ghosts, the noncorporeal inhabitants of the house love their wine, and at least one former Delaware governor went on record as having seen a ghost emptying a decanter. Guests to the inauguration party of former Governor Mike Castle also described an encounter with a ghost.

A list of the owners and occupants of the mansion notes that Governor Minner is only the second of Delaware's governors to make the house their primary residence. I haven't located any tales of Governor Minner and the ghosts of Woodburn.

I'm not sure that it's a topic that she would want to discuss during an election year either. Maybe we will get to hear more after Return Day.

Disney Comes to Georgetown

I'm reminded of the plot of a movie in which a high-powered executive is forced, for one reason or another, to spend some time away from a grand metropolis, and encounters small town America and all of its charms, and experiences a life-changing adventure.

It's the type of plot that may have even run in a Disney movie or two. In the real life version of this vision, Disney is coming to Georgetown, Delaware. I don't know how Delaware's small town ambience will affect the litigants, and the executives involved, but the residents of Georgetown may experience a media circus that could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

The lawsuit is one which questions the severance package that had been given to former Disney executive Michael Ovitz. Since the action is on behalf of the shareholders of the company, and Disney is incorporated in Delaware, the venue for the case is in Delaware, within Delaware's Chancery Court.

As the folks at CNN point out, the Disney hearings in Georgetown will be under a microscope. It's possible that in addition to the severence monies paid to Michael Ovitz, some of the issues discussed will involve the topic of compensation of executives for large corporations. An article from the Quad-City Times last month (reprinted from the LA Times), Disney struggles with CEO choice today, mentions some of the concerns that share holders may have had in the choice to hire Ovitz, and the negotiations surrounding his firing and severence.

The case starts on Wednesday, and while it might not be showing on the movie screens, it may have an impact upon what does in the years to come.

In Which the Uncivil Litigator Describes His Very First Jury Trial

Ever wondered what a trial might look like from an attorney's perspective?

A very enjoyable series of posts from The Uncivil Litigator provides a view as he describes My very first jury trial.

Normally acting as a defense attorney for an office that represents insurance companies, the Uncivil Litigator finds himself representing a plaintiff against an insurance company in a trial resulting from a minor traffic accident.

The posts give a great set of insights into how a lawyer should behave during his or her appearance at court, some strategies during the examination and cross examination of witnesses, the interactions between lawyers before a trial, and notions on the preparation for trial.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Congratulations To Kevin!

We are proud to announce that our law clerk-and soon to be Associate Attorney - Kevin S. Mann has successfully navigated the Delaware Bar Examination.

Congratulations Kevin!

He is one of the few passing applicants (61% of the 261 examinees passed) of this year's Delaware Bar Examination, believed to be one of the toughest in the nation. We look forward to many years of announcements concerning Kevin's career and achievements.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Delaware Dreams-A New Citizen Reports In

After my husband lost his job of 30 years and with a large house in great need of repair, our decision to move was a given. I was a life long Maryland native while he lived in Maryland, having moved down from Massachusetts, the fifteen years of our marriage. Husband was originally from Indiana; his family relocated to Massachusetts as a result of a job change.

We fancied ourselves to be former hippies now settled and with a conservative ideology more vociferous due to its conversion from liberal. At least that's how we saw it but it was no mind. Husband was tired of living in liberal bastions on the east coast and asked that we compromise from my desire to move to Maryland's eastern shore to a move to Delaware, right up the street.

And so we did and it's been a year. In that year I've managed to fashion my image of Delaware, its quirks and niceties, its annoyances, the very cuteness of being a state with only three electoral votes.

Before June of 2003, my image of Delaware was of a state somewhere between New Jersey and Maryland. Most of any visits I ever made to the little state was to cross over the Delaware Memorial Bridge. I'd driven up Highway 1 from Maryland's Ocean City a few times, the sort of things summer vacationers do during duller moments or cloudy days. A few times I walked the Rehobeth Beach boardwalk, smug that Ocean City's was way cooler.

The first characteristic I'd use to describe Delaware, and this is important to understand my perspective throughout, is that it might be small but it's schizophrenic to a fault. Maryland, well you knew this was a liberal state. Though that state did, ahem, recently elect a Republican Governor. New Jersey to the north, also very liberal. Delaware is very liberal to the north and increasingly conservative in its south.

Husband and I live in Sussex county, about eight miles from Rehobeth Beach and Lewes. Thus we are affected by tourism and all involved with that. Georgetown is five miles to our west and it's staid and simple compared to the oceanfront areaa. Sussex county has been undergoing a major population boom over the past five years, most of it caused by persons just like husband and myself. Middle aged, mostly conservative, economically flush and generally law-abiding.

Wilmington, even Dover, may as well be in California for how they relate to Delaware's south.

Living in "lower and slower" has its benefits, however. I smile every time I take a leisurely drive through Georgetown's Circle. Even a jaunt down Route 1, through Lewes, Rehobeth, Bethany, it's an interesting, sometimes nerve-wracking, journey.

Both husband and I were dismayed to discover that the small state's politicians were notoriously liberal, with a virtual nanny for a Governor and a camera hog for a Senator. That would be Minner and Biden.

Recently, Governor Minner declared Sussex county as being hostile territory. That was the day I became a Delaware citizen, in my mind though already by law. A local conservative radio guy had a mole in the Minner office and somehow weaseled out the information that Minner would not be a guest on his show because of, well that bit about hostile Sussex county. Nothing brings us together like a good war, and Governor Minner has declared war on my county.

Delaware soil is way better than Maryland soil, at least that silt on the lot where I lived. They call it a swamp, sometimes a marsh. But the flowers, given some sun and rain, love the thick mucky stuff. Bird life in Delaware is vastly different from my old home though I hasten to note that in Maryland I lived on a small cove off of the Chesapeake Bay. There are more pine trees in Delaware, thus more pine siskins and gold finches. Last summer husband and I listened for fifteen minutes to a whippoorwill singing his heart in the dead of night. I thought these birds were only in Arizona or some such.

I love having the raucous of the beach resort close enough to take visitors for a happy jaunt. Though one must be cautious of the plethora of visitors only too happy to share a nice house during a weekend getaway.

Husband and I both love it here in schizoid Delaware. I even take a bit of pride when Joe Biden graces my screen with his phony smile and fake hair. Dang, I think, this state with only three electoral votes has this self-important senator getting all this face time.

So there's hope, as husband and I dream. Republicans and Democrats have a long history of strong cooperation in Delaware. It could work.

There were times when I would look at a map and note Delaware's odd outline, a straight line carved out of Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, to the end of a thumb-shaped peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. I often wondered "Why bother?"

Husband and I are glad they did.

Pat Fish is a Delaware Blogger recently featured in the Delaware Coast Press' article on blogging. Her Blog is titled "The Kaitlyn Mae Book Blog". Don't let the name confuse you. For while she does direct her interesting commentary to her granddaughter who is only one year old, the punditry is aimed to obliquely point out how the decisions we make today affect our children of tomorrow.Fish writes of politics, birds, gardens, cooking and pop culture on her Blog. Below is a link to her Blog. If you'd like to put on a list for notification of updates to the Blog, send an email to

Pat Fish's Kaitlyn Mae Book Blog

Misuse of Blog Comments

We encourage the exchange of ideas through the use of this blog and the comment function we have installed, even if your views and ideas differ from mine. But there are a few people out there who are inserting their commercial advertisements and other irrelevant postings in the guise of comments. This type of misuse of the blog comment function is not welcome, and not permitted. I have enough trouble avoiding pop-ups without having these silly things invade my own site. Thank you for your cooperation. All violators of this policy will be banned and the offending entries will be deleted.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Happy Birthday #3

Well, it crept up on me! This month is the 3rd anniversary of the Delawoffice Blog. We are in the final stages of planning the party. I look forward to sharing the pictures with you in the upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

not yet in the news?

A reliable source has reported that a veteran U.S. Customs officer was just arrested allegedly attempting to pass through the Washington State - Canada border with a van filled with over 500 pounds of marijuana. Apparently the rookie inspector was not deterred by the senior uniformed customs officer and his diplomatic passport. The rookie did his job as was taught to him at the academy, and caught the alleged bad guy. Good Job!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Encounter with a Blogger

Bloggers make up a growing, but yet small community. That's why I was pleased and surprised to find myself chatting at the courthouse with a fellow blogger-attorney, and one that we had linked to no less. Amy, of Salvation Amy - blog was doing the courthouse lobby search for the client with me this morning (a traditional attorney sport). We were sharing notes about the general appearance of our respective clients so as to help each other locate them. In the process we had a nice chat, and we discovered that we knew of each other in the blog world.

Well, that's the warm and fuzzy feeling for the day. You get no more. The Quota has been met.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Here There Be Pirates

Delaware is home to some famous illustrators of pirates.

Today's Wilmington News Journal has a nice piece on efforts of family members of one of them to catalog all of his works. Frank E. Schoonover was a student of Howard Pyle, and created many covers and interior illustrations for books and magazines.

The newspaper has a nice history of efforts to locate some of his works, which he often sold after they were returned to him by publishers of the books and magazines they appeared upon. See: Illustrator's kin on trail of lost art

If you would like to see one of his paintings, and you find yourself in Wilmington, there's a large mural by him on display in the New Castle County Court House.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Welcome to Funkytown

When I came across the following single page newsletter from the newest Mayor of the City of Newark, I had intended to copy it here. As an official municipal document, I figured it was in the public domain.

Somehow my copy got misplaced before I could transcribe it on the web.

The Mayor and the City Coucil have been having a rather rocky adjustment period as he becomes used to their style of operating the city, and he tries to do some things his own unique way.

I'm not sure I the City Council had a chance to look at this first issue before it was published, and I don't know if another followed behind it.

I've been keeping my eyes open, but it's possible that I missed the latest version. If I come across a newer one, I'll post that too.

I know that Larry hadn't seen a copy; I'm publishing this so that he does.

Funkytown Gazette

Musings from Mayor Vance Funk of Newark, Delaware
June 25, 2004

Vol. 1, No. 1

Reflections on the first 60 days

  • Only 61 City Council meetings to go.

  • Yes, you did actually see the street cleaner on Main Street last Saturday, cleaning the street and sidewalks. And, yes, you actually did see a City trash truck last Saturday afternoon emptying the trashcans on Main Street. Remember to make a difference by picking up litter in our communities.

  • If you haven't met me yet, I'm on Main Street sayng hello to everyone. It's really fun, because it's not expected. You would be surprised how much better you lookwith a smile.

  • For residents wh are participating in the "Find the City Police Car with Installed Radar," the correct answer is car 900. All the other answers are wrong. What you see in the front window is a camera.

  • Yes, you did actuall see me on Chapel Street with WILMAPCO and DELDOT representatives, and they have agreed to investigate using the land under the second trestle for a possible extension of the right-turn lane. They also agree that Cleveland Avenue could be three lanes between North College Avenue and New London Road, to help ease the gridlock every morning on Cleveland Avenue.

  • For those of you who answered "Bethany Beach" to the question, "Which Delaware town has more thatn 1,000 residents and the fewest radar units," you're wrong for two reasons:

    1. Bethany Beach does not have more than 1,000 full time residents.

    2. With six radar units, Bethany Beach has more units than several other cities.

  • If there is a need, I would like to donate my $8,400 salary to the Newark Police Department.

  • Yes, the DELDOT Design group is studying the Amstel/South College avenues intersection with the hope that a left trun lean, northbound onto South college, can be created, to make it easier to get to the Schilling-Douglas School of Hair Design and The Trap. They also are exploring the possibility that the light will stay green on South College Avenue unless needed for pedestrian crossings. This way, my friends in Covered Bridge Farms can stop using Orchard Road as a shortcut.

  • Traffic Studies: Imagine someone racing down Orchard or Beverly roads at 40 m.p.h., approaching Winslow Avenue and finding themselves in the middle of a traffic study. Maybe they would start using South College Avenue and Elkton Road. Why do so many cars use these roads? We need a traffic Study to find out. To do a traffic study, you need two students, one police officer, on traffic study sign and quetionnaires to fill out, which I'm sure WILMAPCO can give us. You can use the students in my office: four hours, three times a week, for four to six weeks. You will be amazed how much information you will receive. I'm sure we cn get Mr. Norton to help us! (And, yes, I did traffic studies for two summers while in college/law school for the organization that predated WILMAPCO.)

  • Hope you enjoyed "your" newsletter from the "funkytown Press." The "I's" are out, and "You" can make a difference. Say hello to our neighbors, friends and visitors. Pick up litter. Be ready to help us as we create a more positive image. Please Recycle.

New-ark...A Wonderful Place to Live

  • Next Funkytown Gazette topics:
    1. Conservation -- What can we do?
    2. The students are coming.
    3. Lawsuits -- Why is "the insurance company paid" relevant?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

back from the beach

I am back from our excursion to Ogunquit Maine (with daytrips to Kittery and Freeport). We really enjoyed the beaches there, and I was pleased to find them to be powdery sand rather than just rocky shoreline. Very pleasant.

And, I have now had enough lobster to last me for quite a while.

Hope to be caught up and back in the saddle by next week.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Freedom of Information Only to Delaware Citizens?

The State of Delaware's freedom of information act limits requests to residents of the State.

One lawyer, on behalf of a political activist and journalist fromthe Bronx, is requesting a Federal judge weigh the Delaware records law to see if it iunconstitutional.

It bugs me to see a flippant remark reported from a Delaware Deputy Attorney General on this subject. I expect a little more graciousness from these public officers, who represent the state when they speak to the press. In this article, one is quoted as saying that nothing is stopping the reporter from becoming a resident of Delaware.

I'd imagine that nothing is stopping me, as a resident of the State, to make an offer to reporter Matthew Lee to forward his requests to the Delaware Attorney General's office on his behalf. AS long as he covers any reasonable expenses that they may require, such as copy costs or what ever, and he doesn't give me truckloads of documents to file at one time, I'd be happy to exercise my right as a citizen of Delaware and help him find some answers.

I like this freedom of the press thingy.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Small Business Survival Committee

I came across the Small Business Survival Committee during my business law blogging. I think that it's a good resource, and worth consideration when making business planning decisions. It's non-partisan, which for me means a lot.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Thomas J. Scarf's History of Delaware, 1609-1888. The Bench and Bar

One of the most reknown histories of the State of Delaware is online.

I saw a copy of the two volumes of this history in an antique shop last fall, and was severly tempted to buy it and transcribe in onto the web. There were only two things holding me back. The price was one. The sheer volume of words in the thick and heavy tomes was the other.

I'm glad to see that the first volume is online. When I came across it yesterday, the first section on turned to was the chapter on the Delaware Bench and Bar.

It's interesting to read about some of the very early days of the Delaware Courts.

I also turned to the section on the "hundred" where I'm located, and read about some of the history of Newark, where I live. I knew that Washington came down the Main Street here in town. I didn't know that the British marched down Main Street after him.

It's kind of fun to see the names of some of the people that streets and places are named after, too.

Forgiving Jack Johnson

Documentary creator Ken Burns is spearheading an effort to have the President Pardon Boxer Jack Johnson. It sounds like an effort worth pursuing.

Seems like Jack Johnson was also an inventor.

via metafilter

Thursday, July 22, 2004

What Sort of System Will be Whipped Up?

It will be interesting to see the blend of justice and punishment that may result from the influence of the american justice system, by sending Judge Gebelein to Afghanistan, and the former Afghan judicial system that sometimes resulted in whipping, as a form of public punishment.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Delaware Judge to Help Build Afghanistan Court

Delaware's Superior Court will be without the services of Judge Richard S. Gebelein for the next year or so.

Instead of adjudicating in Delaware's courtrooms, Judge Gebelein will be serving in his role as a colonel in the Delaware Army National Guard, presumably to help build a court system in Afghanistan.

We'd like to offer Judge Gebelein the best of all wishes in his efforts, and safety in his endeavors. We're proud of the Courts of Delaware, and know that with Judge Gebelein's presence, the court system in Afghanistan is in very good hands.

Estate Planning 101

Here are some basic estate planning concepts and terminology that people should know. I find many people who get these concepts confused. These are of course only for Delaware estate planning and should be untilized and discussed with your Delaware Estate Planning Attorney.

Myths: There are many myths associated with estate law. One of the most common myths is that if a person dies without a will (intestate) then all of his property goes to the state. The law provides that if a person dies intestate, his property goes to his next of kin in certain shares. A person's property would only go to the state if we could find no blood relative whatsoever, after an exhaustive search.

Simple Will: A will makes directions as to how a person's property is to be handled and disbursed upon his or her death. It can be as simple or complex as the individual wishes.

An attorney can help you come up with the appropriate plan for you and your family. In making your goals, you should consider, among other things, the following:

* Your control of your assets during your life.

* A business exit strategy if you have an ownership interest in a business.

* Providing instructions for your care and the management of your assets for you and your family if you become incompetent.

* Protecting the assets that you leave to your spouse and children from creditors and unscrupulous persons.

* A plan of distribution that will leave your assets to whom you want, when you want, and with whatever controls you want.

* Avoiding probate

* Saving the greatest amount of taxes and post death administrative costs possible--not only in your own estate, but also in the estates of your spouse and your descendants.

Some things to think about before your meeting with a Delaware lawyer for a will are:

* Who would you like to be in charge of processing your estate? (an executor)

* Who should take that person's place, if necessary? (an alternate executor)?

* By whom do you want your property to be inherited? (a beneficiary)

* What different arrangements would you like made if your beneficiary dies before or at the same time that you die? (an alternative beneficiary)

* If you have minor children, whom would you choose to be their guardian?

Instead of taking a transaction oriented perspective, you should view estate planning as an ongoing process that evolves as your needs, your goals, and your family changes, as the laws change, and as new estate planning tools and techniques are developed. It is a process of continually evolving strategies. Proper planning requires professional thoroughness, which respects you and your family's overall goals.

Advanced estate planning uses estate planning tools that are beyond the basic will, durable power of attorney, and living will. The following are examples of some of these tools.

A complex will is a will that includes a trust within it or otherwise uses very complicated terms. (Complicated from an attorney's perspective.)

A testamentary trust is a trust that is created by a will and takes effect when the maker dies. The text of a testamentary trust is embedded within the complex will.

A living will is not a will at all. It is an "Advance Healthcare Directive". It is a legal document explaining one's wishes about medical treatment if one becomes terminally ill or in a coma.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Copyright, Copy Wrong

Should someone be able to copyright stickmen?

A copyright case against Nike makes the claim for ownership of stickmen in commercial activities.

If anyone wants some proof that stickmen aren't exactly unique, I might be able to find some of my crayon renderings of stickmen that graced our refrigerator when I was little.

Monday, July 19, 2004

It's Alright Now, Anyway You Choose

Elvis is coming out of copyright in Europe, and I think it's great.

I can't wait as some of the staples of old time rock come into the public domain. I'm looking forward to bands taking some of those songs, and making them their own.

The Washington Post makes it sound as if it's a calamity in an article entitled European Copyright Clock Ticking on Elvis Hits. I think that copyright law does need to change. We need to shorten the copyrights here in the US to match the length of the European times covered. Otherwise, there will be a whole lot of shakin' going on, across the Atlantic only.

Recording Stars Checking the Books

One that seems like a positive outcome when it comes to the entertainment field. A new California law makes it easier for musical artists to audit record labels.

Wild Wild Horses

The federal government has more horses than they can handle.

It has nothing to do with having a self-styled cowboy in the oval office. Rather, it's a result of efforts to protect and feed wild horses and burros under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. It seems that the federal government has been more successful than they ever imagined.
TITLE 16 > CHAPTER 30 > Sec. 1331. - Congressional findings and declaration of policy

Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands
It will be interesting to see what we do as Protected wild horses and burros overwhelm federal government.

The Buckeye State Says No E-Votes

Two forces are coming into possible collision in the 2004 elections.

One is the desire to use technology, and roll out a means of using technology to make it easier for people to vote.

The other is to provide a trustworthy method of voting, especially in light of irregularities in the 2000 vote.

The Secretary of State of Ohio has blocked the use of Diebold voting machines for the 2004 elections unless certain deficiencies are addressed. Will we see similar actions in other states?

Delaware has had electronic voting for longer than most other states, and the Delaware Commissioner of Elections has pointed out that Delaware is the only state with a uniform voting system. The benefit of that is:
Delaware is one of a handful of states with a statewide registration system. It is the only state with a uniform voting system. While electronic voting systems vary, they prevent voters from voting more than once and provide mechanisms to allow voters to correct unintentional undervoting. Electronic systems feature other physical and logical security at least as good and generally better than older voting equipment.
. While that statement from the commissioner should make us feel a little more comfortable, a new tidbit of information could erase that ease. According to a Scripps Howard Report from a couple of days ago, there was a significant undervote when it came to talleys of votes for a choice of president in New Castle County's 2000 elections.

Pencil and paper have their charms, too.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Tell us Your Name, and Your Reasons For Not Revealing Your Identity

Some privacy issues in the news that look interesting:

The first is that the Commerce Department has a new Chief Privacy Officer. In typical government fashion, it appears that this is an internal move and the person filling the position will retain his old title, too. Guess that job didn't keep him too busy.

We're being told that the program to screen information about plane passengers, the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System II, or CAPPS II is gone. But Wired points to the possibility that it might rise from the grave.

A crime and anti-terrorism database known as the MATRIX will become decentralized, which sounds good. The program combines State Vehicle and Crime information with commercial information. I'm glad that Delaware isn't one of the participating states. We're also told that the company producing the technology is being purchased by LexisNexis, which may have some privacy advocates concerned. It has me worried.

An article on picture phones and corporate security concerns makes some intriguing reading. A camera phone should definitely be in James Bond's arsenal of spy tools.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Blakely and Delaware Sentences

Talkleft has a post about a ruling in the Federal 6th Circuit, where it was decided that Blakely Invalidates Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The Blakely ruling was in a Washington State case. The conclusion cited by Justice Scalia in the case?
Petitioner was sentenced to prison for more than three years beyond what the law allowed for the crime to which he confessed, on the basis of a disputed finding that he had acted with "deliberate cruelty." The Framers would not have thought it too much to demand that, before depriving a man of three more years of his liberty, the State should suffer the modest inconvenience of submitting its accusation to "the unanimous suffrage of twelve of his equals and neighbours," 4 Blackstone, Commentaries, at 343, rather than a lone employee of the State.
A News Journal article from a couple of weeks back, involved a sentencing in Delaware's Federal Court which was postponed so that they could decide the impact of the Blakely case upon sentencings.

Will the law have an impact upon Delaware State courts? That's a good question, and it may get an answer in court. The Journal notes that
Sentencing guidelines, used in federal courts and, with variations, in state courts, allow judges to adjust an offender's sentence within a specified range based on factors in the case. In Delaware courts, those guidelines are advisory, but in federal court, they are binding.
It's possible that the "advisory" nature of Delaware State sentences will mean that Blakely doesn't apply to them.

Celebrating Delaware City

Fireworks, mummers, games, food, ferry rides, and a tour of an infamous civil war prison. Tomorrow is Delaware City Day, and you can experience all of the above.

A parade ground overlooked by Officers' quarters.
The image above was taken for a 1964 survey for the historic building register, and is from the Library of Congress.

The Fort has been fixed up some since then.

I've seen their fireworks show before, and it was definitely worth watching. If you go, have a good time.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

More Suspects, as Delaware Blogs

I'm searching for Delaware Bloggers.

If you look at Larry's entry yesterday, so is the Delaware Republican Party.

I don't think that any of the following Delaware weblog owners is the author who elevated the pulses of Delaware General Assembly members a couple of days ago. Frankly, I really didn't expect to uncover the secret identity of the writer of that post.

That post?

You know, the Delatacit article that had a Republican staffer upset enough to call Larry to interrogate him about it. The tie between Larry, and the post? There's a link on the Delaware Law Office blog to the blog where that post appears. That's it. No other relationship.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite articles from the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, who wrote about The Implications of Links:
The intention in the design of the web was that normal links should simply be references, with no implied meaning.

A normal hypertext link does NOT necessarily imply that
  • One document endorses the other; or that
  • One document is created by the same person as the other, or that
  • One document is to be considered part of another.
Typically when the user of a graphical window-oriented Web browser follows a normal link, a new window is created and the linked document is displayed in it, or the old document is deleted from its window and the linked document displayed in its place. The window system has a user interface metaphor that things in different windows are different objects.
We do link to sites here that may express views we don't necessarily agree with.

Neither Larry nor I are the authors of any of the following Delaware blogs. And, I don't think any of them write for the Delatacit site. Just in case you Grand Old Party types aren't convinced, I'm not sure that it will be as easy to get the phone numbers of some of these other bloggers. But if you bookmark their sites, you might get a sense of what Delawareans might think about their lives and communities.

A number of them do express some thoughts on politics, and you just never know. One or all of them could really be Larry in disquise. Or the writer of the post about the attractiveness of Delaware's General Assembly members.

But I don't think so.

I visited Lars Hindley's Another Lousy Day in Paradise a couple of weeks ago, and didn't realize that he was a Delawarean. Certainly a good enough writer. Interested in politics. The Republican party better bookmark that one.

Next in the lineup is Paul Smith, who is even more political in his writing than Lars, and who has some great links on his page, like one explaining why we have a Vice-President.

Should a couple of news radio jockeys be blogging? Flyn & Larrimore take on some important issues that the General Assembly considered seriously, such as recycling. These guys actually talk about Delaware legislation on their broadcasts.

A long time favorite Delaware-based blog is Fritz Schranck's Sneaking Suspicions, and I'm wondering if he was looking over my shoulder as I started putting together this post. He just added a new section to his blogroll listing "Blue Hen Bloggers". Thanks for including us there, Fritz.

Ivan's DeLaWho? DeLaWhat? DeLaWhere? just seemed too upbeat for him to be the writer the Delaware Republican party is searching for.

The author of Paul WishenBLOG also writes about politics. Some excellent movie reviews on his site, too.

I'm finding Stephen Donato's PHL-Citizens Aviation Watch fascinating, and it's great to get his perspective upon aviation over Delaware.

I met Daryl Cobranchi of Homeschool & Other Education Stuff a while ago, and should have linked to his site long ago. His pages focus mostly upon homeschooling, but he's as big a watchdog of local government as anyone.

Not every Delaware blog is political, though a post from Tine Norton describes her enthusiasm over the ability to vote. Yep, legislators of Delaware, these people are the ones who decide whether or not you stay in office.

Amongst the mostly music and performance type posts from The Look Machine is one about a band member's serious consideration of joining the Green Party.   Democrats and Republicans alike should take note of his reasons why.

When you read Salvation Amy's garden posts, you might not deduce that she's a practicing attorney. Or you could realize how well written those posts are, and it might not come as a surprise.

I'm not sure that you can call Matt Hearn a usual suspect. Funny site. It's interesting to see Matt's perspective of Delaware. I think this may be the same Matt Hearn who helped me with a visual basic problem a few years back.

Matt Hearn seems to also have a hand in the colloborative blog Free Range Human. Some Delaware issues get addressed in posts there.

Imp, of slowerlower, claims to have three current readers. He deserves more than a few more.

The crew at blogolution have interesting perspectives on political events, and aren't afraid to air them.   They don't seem to mind taking credit for their posts without the use of an alias.

Natalie, at Pomegranate Dreams, doesn't write much about politics. But she's a pretty good writer, like the folks above.

Larry is not the author of any of those blogs. Neither am I. We just link to them.

I know that there are more Delaware bloggers out there, and I'd love to hear from some of them. I think that we'll be adding a Delaware blogs link roll over the next couple of days. If you know of any other Delaware blogs out there that we should look at, please let us know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

who is delatacit?

I received a call from the Delaware Republican Party today. As a Republican, I took the call and tried to assist with their inquiry.

It was rumored that I am the anonymous author behind, a different Delaware blog. I was told that Delatacit had the look and feel of my weblogs, and that my site comes up high when they do an internet search for Delatacit.

There were apparently some political views and criticisms espoused on Delatacit that has the Republican Party curious. I am not sure what they are, particularly. I looked at the site and verified that it wasn't one of mine (perhaps one that I had created one wild night and subsequently forgot). I even did a search on popular web site registration resources to seek the web administrator's name. To no avail. It appears to be solidly anonymous.

My site comes back on a search for Delatacit because there is a link to it on my blog, along with numerous other legal and delaware related blogs. I guess my blog's decent Google rating brings a high placement for the search of Delatacit.

So lets be clear. Delatacit is not my work. I haven't read it. I have skimmed it and it appears to be interesting. But frankly, I haven't the time. To the extent that it is a forum for lawful free speech, I applaud it. But beyond that, I don't particularly care what it says.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Radio Frequency Identification and School Kids

Children in a primary school in Osaka, Japan, will be carrying Radio Frequency Identification chips around with them so their movements around the school can be monitored.

I wonder what the reaction to that might be if it happened here in the US?

Slamming Doors in the Courtroom

Working in a courtroom can be a difficult situation.

And, it is important to maintain order. Conditions aren't always ideal.

But I'm going to say, with a quick apology to judges everywhere (including Larry), sometimes you just have to fix those doors before they slam.

Delaware Coast Press - Blogging Article

I couldn't find the recent article about blogging on the Delaware Coast Press - website, and so I am hosting a copy of it here, as Paige was kind enough to send me a copy.


WHAT: On line journals or blogs are the newest way for people to share their ideas with the public. WEB SITES: Pat Fish's blog at, Fred Schranck's blog at, and Larry Sullivan's blog at

By Paige Lauren Deiner
Coast Press Reporter

Blogging, short for Web logging, or creating online journals, is a way for ordinary people to become columnists and write about the subjects that matter most to them, whether it be politics or gardening, and share them with the world via the Internet.

Blogging is a relatively new trend that is rapidly growing. A Google search on the Internet generates more than three million hits. Bloggers post information on the Internet and update their blog on a regular basis.

Pat Fish, who has a blog and lives in Milton said, "Blogs are out there so that the little people get a voice." She said blogging gives people the opportunity to share their opinions with a large audience without being employed by a newspaper. "A lot of famous people (columnists) are also starting blogs. Television personalities are writing blogs, but as many people read my blogs as read theirs. Their blogs are no more interesting, that makes the field equal," said Fish. Fish said she started blogging when her granddaughter was born in December of 2003. She said she had always kept an e-mail list of friends and family to send her thoughts to and when blogging became popular, it was a natural transition.

Fish said she uses her Web log as a medium to share the book she is writing for her granddaughter, Kaitlyn Mae. The blog is the making of a book, but also a public forum for her to express her viewpoints on everything from funny incidents, to gardens and birds, to politics and current events.
She posts her stories twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, and generally writes them a week earlier so she "can edit them and let them cool off." An excerpt from a posting on June 13 on Fish's blog, entitled "The Drama That Is Iraq" reads:

"It's likely when you are an adult, Kaitlyn Mae, that the Iraq War will be but a footnote in the history text, if that. Right now it looms large on our national horizon. Grandmother thinks this conflict, and the Afghanistan conflict still under way as of this writing, is a study of dreams, ideals, intrigue, politics, violence and a clash of civilizations as great as any of the ancient past." Fish said, "People who do blogs are writers, if not they don't get read. There are lots of silly blogs, but no one wants to read crappy writing."

Fish said she plans to start her own Web site at the end of July, so she can upload pictures, and have more space, but currently her blog is hosted by blogspot, a free blog hosting site. She estimates that more than a hundred people read her blog each week. But she said, "I don't care if nobody reads them (my blogs). It makes me happy."

Shrank blogs to start dialogues.

Fred Schrank, a deputy attorney general who lives in Rehoboth Beach, is also a blogger. He said he began learning about blogging after Sept. 11 while he was searching out more information about what happened. He became hooked on the blog and then began his own blog in 2002. He said he usually posts content to his site five or six times a week, and he has gathered a following. Schrank said a satiric piece he wrote about marshmallow farming attracted thousands of reads. On the average, though, he said 250-350 people read his blog every day. He said that he doesn't make any money from his blog, but encourages people who enjoy reading his posts to donate to either the ALS foundation or the Epilepsy Foundation. There are links to each organization on his site.

Shrank said his posts, which range from serious to silly, have been conversation starters between him and other bloggers. He said sometimes other bloggers will comment on what he wrote on their blogs, or readers will e-mail him with questions.

Because of his blog, Shrank said he has met many interesting people, some of whom have become friends. "The nice thing about blogging, is that you meet people who really know their field and who are interested enough in it to write about it."

Sullivan blogs to inform clients

Larry Sullivan is a lawyer in Newark who started his blog on his work web-site three years ago as a way to disseminate information to his clients and provide free general legal information to the public. He said that he spends about 40 minutes a week on his blog and that other staff members spend about the same amount of time posting information to the site. Sullivan said there has been a large response, favorable comments and an increase in Web traffic to the site.

"As best we can determine, the site has about 2,000 hits per day, 600 visits per day to the site," said Sullivan. He said that his blog has increased business and provided a cost effective way for him to share information with his clients about changes to Delaware law. "It's clearly an effective method of meeting new clients," said Sullivan.

According to Sullivan, his blog is one of the few blogs in existence that just deals with legal issues in Delaware. "This is especially important in Delaware where the attorneys are traditionally conservative and slow to venture into the Internet, but they are doing so," said Sullivan. He said an added benefit to the blog is that by providing generalized legal information to the public, people know what types of questions to ask when they come in to see him.

E-mail Paige Lauren Deiner at

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Photography in An Atmosphere of Distrust

A change really needs to come. I've heard too many stories like the one expressed by Ian Spiers in his article Humiliated, Angry, Ashamed, Brown.

Of course we should be concerned about the possible threat of terrorism. But that doesn't mean that we should proceed to treat each other as if we are all terrorists.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Happy Belated Birthday to Overlawyered

The site that takes a critical and always interesting look at the legal profession, Overlawyered, turned five years old a couple of days ago.

Congratulations and thanks to its creator, Walter Olson.

The Mouse Caught Singing the Lion's Song

There are songs that force you to sing along, whether you want to or not.

The song The Lion Sleeps Tonight has that effect upon me. I suspect that I'm not alone. Disney used the song in their soundtrack in the film and play versions of The Lion King.

The family of the composer of the song is claiming copyright ownership over the song. While they might not be able to bring a legal action in the US, there might be a right to an action using a 1911 British imperial copyright law. At least in South Africa.

The song has some history. It's also been covered by quite a few people. It will be interesting to see what Disney does in this instance, knowing how much they value copyrights.

You Don't Need the Fourth of July to Have Fireworks

But, if you're going to have fireworks in the State of Delaware, you're supposed to have a permit.

One section of the Delaware Code which covers the use of Fireworks, describes how the permit process is supposed to work.

The Law Office is located about three miles from the Maryland State line, and some enterprising folks have been taking advantage of differences in State laws at that border for years. I took a journey into Maryland earlier today, and drove past a couple of temporary fireworks stands which sprung forth from the ground seemingly overnight. The liquor stores just across that border have been making Sunday sales for years, I suspect to many Delawareans, before Delaware recently allowed liquor sales on Sundays. There was a time in the past when those Maryland stores were also able to sell beer and wine to people over 18, when the legal drinking age limit in Delaware was 21.

Delaware's lack of a sales tax, and slot machines seem to bring many folks across that line into Delaware. Interesting how differences in state laws can affect people who live near borders.

Be careful, and have a great Fourth of July.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

But How do They Make Backups?

If you have essential, important information, I urge you to make copies as backups.

I don't know the number of times that I've had to tell someone that their information was lost for good because they hadn't made a backup of their document or program. And, I suspect that if the information was really important to an organization, the failure to be able to make backups would be a pretty bad policy. Potentially devastating.

I don't intend this post as a political comment, yet I just can't fathom a statement from the Bush Administration that copying data from the Department of Justice computer system would cause it to crash, and result in the loss of extremely sensitive and important material. I can't imagine a computer system where backups weren't an integral part of the failsafes practiced. Yet, that is the reason being used to deny a Freedom of Information Act Request - that Sharing Lobbying Data Will Crash Computers

Maybe they need to get a group of IT specialists in there fast before a squirrel messing with an electrical line causes a power outage that robs us of extremely important data.

The Foreign Lobbyist Database contains records first collected to track if lobbyists were spending money to help spread propaganda by Nazi agents in 1938. It supposedly contains records of some significant recent spending by the Saudi Government. The Center for Public Integrity has more information about its importance on their site in an article entitled Foreign Lobbyist Database Could Vanish.

This sounds like some information that is worth protecting carefully. It's definitely time to update those computers,and make backups.

Tall Ship Warning

If you have a chance to keep an eye out on the Delaware Bay tonight or tommorrow morning, you might see part of a fleet of a dozen tall ships that will be sailing up the Delaware Bay.

Some of them will enter or have entered the Delaware Bay between Cape May and Lewes, and others will be navigating the C & D canal, and entering the Delaware Bay over by Delaware City.

The Tenacious, a UK ship, was set to arrive at Pea Patch Island, near Delaware City, tonight. I wish I had learned this earlier. I would have run out with my camera for some photos.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Michigan Legislates Legible MDs

We do venture outside of Delaware's borders sometimes, and look at what other states are doing.

Especially when someone is blogging about it. Case in point, a blog about Michigan Comp Law which pointed out a home grown bill that would require Doctors to write legibly.

Why is it that I can't help but think that the Michigan legislation might be as effective as a recent amendment to a minimum wage law in Delaware that Fritz Schranck pointed towards at Sneaking Suspicions, which would repeal the law of supply and demand.

Ferry Celebrates 40th

On July 1st, the Cape May - Lewes Ferry will Celebrate its 40th Anniversary.

On the 2nd and 3rd, fireworks, pirates, and a tribute to the Beatles mark the celebration in family fun style.

Will it see another forty years? Regardless of that, the celebration looks like a good time if you want to entertain the family.

But, I'm going to pursue the question just a little. Will it see forty more years? I guess that depends on who you ask.

In the Anniversary press release, the Executive Director of the Delaware River Bay Authority stated:
The Ferry, which handles 1.1 million passengers each year, is an integral component in the region's transportation and tourism industry. Today, we are laying the foundation for the next forty years and our commitment to this important southern link and the people who use it has never been stronger.
That's not quite the impression I get from the Delaware Legislature, which initiated a two year study on the feasibility of replacing the ferry with a combination bridge and tunnel. Their joint House and Senate resolution will supply a decision in January of 2005:
WHEREAS, growth and development in Sussex County has increased the pressure on Delaware's highway system in that area; and

WHEREAS, as it is currently operated, the Cape May - Lewes Ferry is neither an effective commuter conveyance nor a strong draw for tourists to Sussex County, losing millions of dollars each year and having lost approximately $3 million last year alone; and

WHEREAS, it takes over an hour to cross the Delaware Bay by Ferry at a cost of $25.00 each way during the peak travel season; and

WHEREAS, years ago, the concept of a combined bridge/tunnel crossing to traverse the Chesapeake Bay between the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula with the Virginia mainland was investigated and built; and

WHEREAS, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel Crossing has proven successful, providing for uninterrupted and expedient travel across the Bay; and

WHEREAS, a project to build a bridge/tunnel crossing to traverse the Delaware Bay between Delaware and New Jersey would be similar in scope to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel Crossing; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly finds and declares that the construction of a Delaware Bay Bridge/Tunnel Crossing would be an inspiring engineering feat and, when completed, could be used as a multi-purpose structure, acting both as a major route for interstate transportation and travel and a platform for wind turbines or tidal generation facilities to generate electricity desperately needed throughout Sussex County;


BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the 142nd General Assembly of the State of Delaware, the House of Representatives thereof concurring therein, with the approval of the Governor, that the Delaware River and Bay Authority is directed to study the feasibility of constructing a Combined Bridge/Tunnel Crossing to traverse the Delaware Bay.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that no later than January 15, 2005, the Delaware River and Bay Authority is directed to submit to the Governor and the General Assembly a report describing its research and findings, including the potential costs to motorists using the bridge/tunnel.
So, the foundation for the next forty years of transportation between Cape May and Lewes may be something being considered by the Delaware River Bay Authority. But it may not include a ferry.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Gambling on a Wink and a Nod

There's a fear that slot machines will soon become a reality in Pennsylvania.

What does that mean for the State of Delaware?

It could be detrimental to the State's budget. Delaware receives a decent sum of money every year from slot machines placed at three horse tracks in the State. Except, they aren't slot machines. They're "video lottery" machines.

What's the difference? I'm not sure. The last time I stuffed one of the machines with quarters and pulled down a handle, I didn't see anything about it that reminded me of a video lottery. It seemed to be a slot machine. If it looks like a slot machine, and plays like a slot machine, and pays like slot machine, I'd suspect that it is one.

But slot machines are unconstitutional in Delaware. Section 2, dealing with the legislature states the following:

17. Lotteries and other gambling.

Section 17. All forms of gambling are prohibited in this State except the following:

(a) Lotteries under State control for the purpose of raising funds,

(b) Lotteries (other than slot machines, roulette, craps and baccarat games) provided that each is sponsored and conducted under the limitations of Section 17B by companies, organizations or societies which have been in existence for at least 2 years; provided, however, that no person who shall not have attained the age of 18 years shall participate in any lottery (where money is the prize) otherwise authorized by the article,

(c) Wagering or betting by the use of pari-mutuel machines or totalizators on horse races conducted at racetracks within or without the State, provided that such wagering or betting may be conducted only either:

(1) within the enclosure of any racetrack licensed under the laws of the State to conduct a race meeting, or

(2) within the enclosure of any racetrack licensed under the laws of the State to receive and accept wagers or bets on electronically televised simulcasts of horse races.

(d) Bingo games as conducted under the limitations of Section 17A.

The General Assembly shall enforce this Section by appropriate legislation.

While the language is a little confusing above, it does allow for scratch off and drawing styled lotteries by the state, horse racing at licensed tracks, and other lotteries (not including slot machines) organized by the types of groups listed in the next section:

17B. Lotteries not under State control; organizations authorized to conduct; submission to referendum; districts; regulation; penalties.

Section 17B. Lotteries not under State control shall be lawful when sponsored and conducted by volunteer fire companies, veterans organizations, religious or charitable organizations, or by fraternal societies provided that said company, organization or society has been in existence a minimum of 2 years and provided the net receipts or profits arising from the conducting or operating of such lotteries by the aforementioned companies, organizations or societies are used solely for the promotion or achievement of the purposes of such companies, organizations or societies, and provided further that the aforementioned companies, organizations or societies are operated in a manner so as to come within § 170 of the United States Revenue Code and regulations promulgated thereunder by the United States Secretary of the Treasury.

1. The General Assembly shall provide by law for the submission to the vote of the qualified electors of the several districts of the State, or any of them, mentioned in paragraph 2 of this section at the general election held in 1984, the question whether the playing of lotteries not under State control shall be licensed or prohibited within the limits thereof; and in every district in which there is a majority against license, no organization, mentioned in this section, shall thereafter sponsor or permit lotteries not under State control, within said district, until at a subsequent submission of such question a majority of votes shall be cast in said district for license. Whenever a majority of all the members elected to each House of the General Assembly by the qualified electors in any district named in paragraph 2 of this section shall request the submission of the question of license or no license to a vote of the qualified electors in said district, the General Assembly shall provide for the submission of such question to the qualified electors in such district at the next general election thereafter.

2. Under this article, Sussex County shall comprise 1 district, Kent County shall comprise 1 district, the City of Wilmington, as its corporate limits now are or may hereafter be extended, 1 district, and the remaining part of New Castle County, 1 district.

3. The General Assembly shall enact comprehensive legislation providing for licensing for all organizations conducting and regulating the conduct of lotteries under this section and may provide such penalties as may be necessary to enforce such legislation.

Nothing in there appears to give the State the right to allow slot machines at race tracks, or anywhere else. So, what's the story? notes that seven per cent of Delaware's budget from last year was from "video lotteries" yet notes a legislator's concern that gambling in neighboring states might take away that source of revenue. The First State pockets a nice chunk of change from the non-video video lotteries.

The Albany Law School Program on Racing and Wagering Law has an excellent page on definitions of the machines titled What Is a Video Lottery Terminal, Anyway? They look at the statutes that have been passed to authorize video lotteries in a number of states, including Delaware. The definitions' section of the Delaware Code Chapter on Lotteries defines the machines as follows:

(i) "Video lottery machine" shall mean any machine in which bills, coins or tokens are deposited in order to play in a game of chance in which the results, including options available to the player, are randomly and immediately determined by the machine. A machine may use spinning reels or video displays or both, and may or may not dispense coins or tokens directly to winning players. A machine shall be considered a video lottery machine notwithstanding the use of an electronic credit system making the deposit of bills, coins or tokens unnecessary.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a great chart which looks at the status of all the states when it comes to gambling laws. pinpoints Middle America as the nation's betting hotbed.

What should Delaware's reaction be to the possibility that Pennsylvania might permit slot machines at 12 establishments around the State, and Maryland's legislature will probably discuss the issue next week? Should there be an expansion of slots to a Casino on the Wilmington Riverfront? Another casino in Southern Delaware in Georgetown?

Delaware's video lotteries may be some of the most recent efforts in a long history of governments earning money on games of chance. It's now ten years since the Horse Racing Preservation Act helped save the race tracks of Delaware. The law was passed in 1994, and it turned some run-down tracks into some of the most profitable racing venues in the United States.

But, I'll confess that I've only been to the local track twice to pull back a slot machine's handle. And, I'm not sure I really care if another couple of casinos are added to Delaware. And, I suspect that basing the economic health of a State on games of chance is a little like building a foundation for good government with a house of cards (no pun intended.)

And the thing that bugs me most is that we've been letting people gamble for a decade on slot machines, while with a nod and a wink, we've been calling them video lottery machines. I'm a little tired of the lie, and I think it's long overdue to actually amend the State constitution to conform to reality. You can call it a video lottery, but the more common name is a "one-armed bandit." The fraudulent name the legislature has given it has robbed them of their dignity and integrity.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

President Ronald Reagan- My Recollections of an Army Assignment

I served a short but interesting 2 year tour of service in the U.S. Army MP Corps. After my training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, I was assigned to permanent duty at Ft. Carson Colorado, near Colorado Springs and NORAD. The very first duty that I had at Ft. Carson, just a couple of days after moving in, was to participate in the presidential security detail for President Ronald Reagan.

The president was to visit the Air Force Academy which was also located in Colorado Springs, and Army MP's were called upon to supplement the Air Force security personnel and the Secret Service. It was an exciting duty for a young recruit, one who was still trying to acclimate to the altitude and army life. It was a memorable couple of days done in traditional army style (with no sleep). I was impressed by the complexity of the security plans and the number of personnel and equipment that was utilized on this routine travel stop by our president. My specific task involved securing a rooftop from enemy snipers. None were permitted to set up shop there, and none did.

Later in my tour of service I helped with the security detail for the Arch Duke of Luxemburg. It was fun and memorable as well, but performed after a good night's sleep. My most difficult task on that day was to handle an unruly photographer in such a way as remove him from the area I was to secure, but without making a spectacle. Unbeknownst to me, I was being watched by my Command Sergeant Major at that moment. His comments about that incident were the only positive words I ever heard him say..."good job". Actually, he followed the chain of command and said it to my sergeant, not to me.

On those duty assignments, I was well trained, briefed, and comfortable with my assigned tasks. I do remember times however, earlier at Ft. McClellan where I was twice given an assault rifle and a loaded magazine and assigned to guard duty. First I guarded a payroll, and on the second occasion I guarded a ammo storage area. This was simple enough, except for the fact that I had never previously seen or touched an M-16. Thank goodness those assignments turned out to be uneventful as well.

Monday, June 07, 2004

In-House Counsel - Limited License to Practice Law

In an article at Law.Com, the current trend to require limited licensing of In-House counsel is discussed. This would mean in some instances that an attorney would be required to be licensed in the state wherein she works as in-house counsel, and in some cases she would have to register or get limited licenses in all of the states that the client company operates. Apparently NJ is charging $750 each, for such a license/registration. This can get really expensive, really quickly. And why is it necessary? Is it more than a fund raiser?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Freebery and Gordon - What should they do?

As news of the indictments continues to flow, and predictions of the impact upon the upcoming county elections, what should Freebery and Gordon do? Should they perhaps follow the same procedure that they would apply if one of the County Police were under indictment? Or the Treasurer (if we even have one) ? Should they put themselves on administrative leave pending the resolution of the charges?

Or are they somehow different?

Maybe the County Council should step forward and make the responsible administrative decision?

Friday, May 28, 2004

Microsoft Gets Off of Mythic[a]

Microsoft has agreed to step back from its alleged trademark infringement of Mythic Entertainment's popular trade name. Mythic had filed suit to stop Microsoft from pursuing game software under the name of Mythica, because it claimed that such use would be violative of Mythic's trademark. They settled under partially undisclosed ($) terms, and some other substantial terms involving the use of the name and web advertising.

Ooops! Check out the Copyright notice at the bottom of Mythic's page (the second link, above). There is a question mark after the word "copyright".

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Delaware's New Castle County Politics Gets Ugly with Indictment

In New Castle County, Delaware, the County Executive and his Chief Administrative Officer were indicted yesterday in a 47 page long indictment (pdf) in Federal District Court in Delaware.

There's been quite a bit of chatter about county politics the last couple of years, and I'd guess that the indictment might not be a surprise to anyone paying attention. The Wilmington News Journal has a number of articles today worth reading on the subject:

Gordon known for "simple hard work'

Freebery no stranger to controversy

Business goes on despite allegations

Janet Smith has followed parallel path

The headlines for the first News Journal article were in the largest front page type size I've seen in quite a while. I suspect that we will be seeing quite a lot of this tale in the local paper. I hope that whatever the outcome we can learn more about governing the county in a manner that doesn't allow people in positions of power to be facing charges like this.

Slower Lower Delaware Cuisine

The Washington Post takes a look at the food of Slower Lower Delaware.

While the Delaware Law Office is located above the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal, some of us have been rumored to sneak across the canal in search of southern Delaware cooking.

The article made me hungry for some Old Bay coated shrimp. Umm... good eating.

Blogging to the Front of Business

The momentum is increasing, as blogging becomes more widely recognized as a valuable business communications tool. And the goliaths of the tech world are jostling for position. Bill Gates commented about the business role of blogging in this Reuters article. Google bought up last year. What's next? It looks like there will be a battle over the dominent blog technology, and to what, if anything, it is tied or bundled.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Meet the New Chief Justice

Many nights you can find him driving around the back forty acres in a tractor. Or mending fences. His hero is Thomas Jefferson. He's been a Judge in Superior Court, and Vice-Chancellor in Chancery Court, and a Justice in Delaware's Supreme Court.

This afternoon Myron T. Steele was invested with the office of Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. It marks a new beginning for Delaware Courts' which were lead wonderfully for a twelve year term by former Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey. Congratulations to the new Chief Justice.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

There are a lot of myths and confusion about some aspects of estate planning. While you should always refer your specific question to an estate planning attorney, educating yourself about the process before hand will empower you to ask the right questions and understand the answers. Here is a good source for basic information to start your empowerment: ABA Public Information On Wills and Estate Planning

Sunday, May 23, 2004

More Pro Bono Representation in Delaware

Esteban Parra is reporting in the Wilmington News Journal that more Delaware lawyers donate their time to help people who can't afford legal representation.

A great place to start looking for information about free legal assistance is on the pages of Delaware Volunteer Legal Services.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Can I get You a Deck for Your Interstate?

Some interesting plans for the development of the City of Wilmington were unfurled this morning. Amongst them is a deck that would cover part of Interstate 95, which bisects the City of Wilmington.

Some of the plans have people concerned that the neighborhoods they know will be completely changed. They're right.

But, it's reassuring that there are plans as complete as the ones being discussed, which show some vision for a better City. Now the City just needs to find some money to make it happen.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Delaware has a New Chief Justice

Delaware's Supreme Court has a new leader with the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Myron T. Steele as Chief Justice. May his twelve year term be a successful one.

eBay tricks and traps

I might be the only member of my family that doesn't sell stuff on eBay.. But, I've thought about it.

While I'm usually pretty careful anyway, this article, Seller Beware: Protecting Yourself Against Auction Fraud, points out some fo the pitfalls of selling in a risk filled world. Recommended.

Search warrants and user information

LLRX presents an interesting question: Could you be sued for turning over an Internet user's sign-up information to law enforcement? The answer is a definite maybe.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Listening to Internet Phone Calls

The federal government is working to get authorization to listen to "voice over internet protocol" based calls, and have asked the Federal Communications Commission to conduct a rulemaking to create new regulations making it easier for them to provide easy eavesdropping of those internet based calls.

The laws that might enable the FCC to create such regulations without Congress hearing these issues, depend upon an interpretation of the Communications Asssitance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The Electronic Frontier Foundation has comments on the matter for the FCC that are thoughtful, and worth paying a lot of consideration.

Google's French Lawsuit

The third largest insurance company in the world has brought a lawsuit challenging Google's adwords advertising and the use of their registered trademarks as search terms which display their competitors' advertisements.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

what's in rebecca's pocket?

One of the hallmark blogs... a blog against which all other blogs are measured... is rebecca's pocket.

I am always delighted when I get a chance to peruse the pocket. I think you will be pleased too.

Today I was very interested in 4 or 5 articles. But I won't tell you which ones. You'll just have to find out for yourselves.