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.