Sunday, February 29, 2004

Talking about Equality in the First State

There is a great trilogy of stories in today's Wilmington News Journal which take a look at the tales being told about the search for equality in Delaware.

One tells of the efforts of Littleton Mitchell, who had been a long time leader of the push for civil rights in Delaware, including efforts to improve the lives of migrant workers.

Vivian Tribbett Hendricks was the first black girl to attend Harrington High School. It's enlightening to hear her words about what the experience was like.

The third article is about efforts to collect oral histories of black Delawareans. An even larger effort to preserve history is that made by the National Visionary Leadership Project.

Delaware Events

I was visiting Matt Haughey's A Whole Lot of Nothing when I noticed that he had a listing of area concerts on his page. I thought that it might be a good idea to do some type of listing of local events such as concerts, lectures, plays, and other things that I sometimes miss because I forget about them.

I also considered that it might be nice to put the list up on the Delaware Law Office page to keep our readers informed of some to the regional events that they could see if they were so inclined. I noticed that Matt was using a service through Upcoming.org to list the events. It appears that anyone can use that site in a similar manner. I'm also using feedroll display the RSS feed that appears on this page. If you're interested in showing events on your site, definitely take a look. If you have any questions, please let me know, and I'll try to help out.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Call centers behind bars

Wired News takes a look at a work force behind prison bars. Ten states are permitting companies to set up call centers in prisons. I find myself divided by this approach. I appreciate that prisoners are getting the chance to get some job training. But, I find myself agreeing with the critics who point at minimum wage laws and unemployment outside of prison.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

ICANN or I Can't

Verisign has brought a suit against ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), one of the chief regulators of the internet.

The outcome of the suit may help define the role of ICANN as a regulator of the web, and the ability of large corporations such as Verisign to manipulate their grasp of the web as they wish.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

How to get rid of problem punctuation

No disrespect to the subjects of the next two posts, but a judge has come up with an approach to combat bad writing and worse punctuation: lessen the dollar amount in the fees paid to the writing challenged attorney.

How to get rid of problem deer

The State is considering an extended hunting season to try to reduce Delaware's deer population. The good news is that the University of Delaware has been pressed into service to come up with a long range plan to manage the deer population.

How to get rid of problem geese

There's a population problem in southern Delaware when it comes to Canada Geese, and one solution would see that population drastically reduced by killing some of the geese. It's good to discover that Rehoboth Officials will hear comments on geese removal

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

600 military re-enactors

From May 7 thorugh May 9, Delaware City will host dozens of re-enactment groups re-enacting every American battle in an event entitled Soldier Timeline. There's an estimate that mroe than 30,000 visitors will come to watch the performances.

167 stolen licenses

There's a new practice at the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles. From now on, licenses that are turned in for renewal will be shredded on the spot. 167 Licenses were swiped from the Delaware Motor Vehicle's Office last Wednesday.

10,000 Rebate Checks

Delawareans who signed up prior to a deadline to enter a claim against music distributors and retail chains will be seeing a check from the settlement. According to a press release from the Delaware Attorney General Office, 10,000 Delawareans should be receiving checks of $13.86 each.

Monday, February 23, 2004

The State of surveillance

The average American is being filmed at least 12 times a day.

It's not always easy to catch the cameras pointing at you. Chances are good that there's at least one in the nearest convenience store. A sign on the door at the Newark Wilmington Trust asks patrons to remove hats when entering the building. The better to capture a face on film?

What is privacy, and where are you entitled to it? Is a discussion on a pay phone private? What about on a wireless phone? How about on a wireless phone while strolling down the public sidewalk? If a camera is in a public place, and points to a window, are the actions in plain view of the camera protected by privacy laws? When a camera on private property points to a public area, who do the images captured belong to?

Those questions aren't answered in the Wilmington News Journal's article on surveillance camers, but a good number of other questions are raised. See: Lots of cameras watch you - and catch criminals.

Here's an interesting scenerio. Delaware's bus service, DART, uses five cameras per bus, inside and out, to help in liability claims. Sometimes those cameras capture more than passengers:
DART has had about 10 requests from police departments asking if the agency had a bus in the area when a crime occurred. "We determine what bus was involved, go out and hook up a laptop, and have video of the location and time frame they're looking for," Ford said.
Next time you're in Wilmington, or on Main Street in Newark, see how many cameras you can spot.

copyright and your name

Something seems fishy about this story, of an Elkton, Maryland man who tried to copyright his name by running an ad in the legal ads section of a York, Pennsylvania Newspaper. The article is titled An original take on brand names.

The Wilmington News Journal Blogs

The local paper has started blogs with three of their columnists. I like the idea, and hope that it succeeds. Each has its own particular subject area, and after at least a couple of entries from all three, we're seeing a little more informality in blogging than each writer might have used in their columns. That's a good thing.

Ryan Cormier's blog is titled Pulp Culture and that is also its focus. So far, so fun. He's hit the ground running, and even has a few Delaware references amongst his posts.

I remember Al Mascitti from his days as restaurant reviewer years ago. He was quite good at it. Then he disappeared from the public eye for a number of years (he spent approximately four years behind the scenes). Lately, he's been offering commentary on political and legal issues in the first state, and does an excellent job of inspiring feedback from Delaware's citizens. His blog is entitled First Statements and covers news, politics, and other local issues.

The third blog is Health Beat, from medical columnist Laura Ungar. It has a nice personal touch to it that makes it interesting reading.

All three blogs have comments. Should be interesting.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Big Ownership Battle in Delaware's Chancery Court this Week

It's kind of fun having Wilmington, Delaware, referred to as an otherwise obscure outpost of corporate America. That's what the Independent.co.uk is calling it in an article about a shareholder's battle:
This week's case will hear a lawsuit brought by Hollinger International, which seeks to stop Lord Black selling his 73 per cent voting stake in the company held through Hollinger Inc to Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay - a surprise deal that was sprung on the world last month. Lord Black is countersuing to safeguard the transaction.
It should make for a couple of interesting days around the courthouse. I'll see if I can get some snapshots.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Homeland Privacy

The Executive Director of the Center for Democracy & Technology presented a statement today before the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law.

The topic was on our privacy "in the Hands of the Government" and focused upon the Privacy Officer for the Department of Homeland Security.

Should there be more Privacy Officers in government agencies? How effective can they be?

Where's my Press Pass?

The Online Journalism Review takes a look at how the criteria to determine access to the government may need some review when it comes to online media: New Media Often Takes Back Seat to Old Media on Press Credentials

You can hear it in my voice

If I told you that Voice Stress analysis was an effective way of determining whether someone was telling the truth or not, would you believe me? (Later - even better: would a juror?)

The test is used by police officers and insurance investigators.

Some federal studies are coming up with less than stellar results for its efficacy as a truth determining tool.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Sugar, Sugar, oh Honey, Honey

I like this announcement: Australia, US strike free trade deal, though I'm not sure I understand why Australian sugar isn't included.

Finding Directors on the Inside

An interesting article is in the latest online issue of Corporate Board Member Magazine from former Delaware Chancellor William T. Allen. Entitled An Outside-the-Box Idea: Go Inside for Directors, it focuses upon the benefits of sometimes moving senior managers onto the Board.

He makes a strong case for the idea, too.

Doubt in Digital Images?

Is the digital enhancement of photographs "junk" science? A recent case in Florida saw challenges based upon that notion, and the murder trial ended in an acquittal.

So, what are the differences between analog and digital images, and should it make a difference in the courtroom? The FBI has an interesting set of Recommendations and Guidelines for the Use of Digital Image Processing in the Criminal Justice System, Forensic Science Communicaton

The Guidelines contain some nice examples of enhancements to digital images. There are a lot of issues to consider when it comes to the ability to digitally enhance images. There is some potential to make challenges to the technology interesting.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

UK based crime reseach site

Some excellent articles at Crime-Research.org, like one entitled Footprints on the disk, which looks at how common computer-based evidence has become in British courtooms.

When is recusal appropriate?

When should a judge recuse himself or herself from a case? I'm afraid we have some confusion on the subject after a five day long hunting trip shared by a Supreme Court Justice and The Vice President, who is a party to a case that will appear before the Court. Findlaw has an thought provoking article on the subject: Why Justice Scalia Is Wrong To Refuse to Recuse Himself From a Case Involving Dick Cheney and His Energy Task Force

Disappearing Neighborhoods

I'm posting this story as a reminder to me to schedule a lunchtime visit to the Delaware Historic Society during lunch one day this week to see a new exhibit that displaying 1930s East Side captured on film. Looks like a great show.

Time for Delaware Bicyclists to speak up

If you like biking around the First State your chance is at hand to get a say on planning paths. Three workshops will be held this week on the Delaware Bicycle Facility Master Plan - one in each county. The first is on Monday in Stantion. The second on Tuesday in Dover, and the third in Georgetown on Wednesday.

Chilling dissent

This seems surreal. A lawyers' activist group and attendees of a group protesting the war have been issued subpoenas from the federal government. Campus security records have also been sought regarding the meeting. The story out of the Iowa Times Union is entitled Feds win right to war protesters' records. Frightening stuff.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Well about time, Rick

Several years ago I stood up and spoke at the annual planning conference for the Secretary of State and the Registered Agent companies, urging public online access for general corporate information. I advised that it would be in keeping with world-wide practices of putting useful information at the fingertips of the public. And, I said the other states (Delaware's competitors) are doing it.

I was met with cold resistance and silence.

In today's News Journal, the Division of Corporation announced that now we have this type of public access. Hurray! I am very pleased. You can now get basic corporate existence information free and online. Other services and certain copies of documents are available online also, but at a charge. Here is a link that you may find helpful for the Division of Corporations - Online Corporate Information.

What common sense and good government could not accomplish, was accomplished by AT&T turning off the switch to the antiquated 900 phone system that the State was using for requests for this information previously. So it seems, like too many other things, the actions of bureaucrats are driven more by convenience and necessity than they are by sound progressive judgment.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

such is solo practice

Life as a solo lawyer... is not extremely predictable. I haven't written much these last few weeks because I have been immersed in a case. Sometimes they have a way of taking over our lives for a period of time. Well, my part of that case is now completed. Whew!

I am peeking out into the real world now like Punxsutawney Phil.