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.