Thursday, May 26, 2005

Alderman Confirmed and Sworn

Newark Aldermans Court was the first (ever) Aldermans Court in Delaware to have its judges nominated by the Governor (The Honorable Ruth Ann Minner) and confirmed by the Delaware Senate (no filibuster needed).

This past Monday night at the Newark City Council meeting, Alderman Anthony Forcina and Deputy Alderman Larry D. Sullivan were sworn in by Mayor Vance Funk under their new commissions as State approved judicial officers.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wendy's Finger Has Been Traced

According to the Associated Press on Yahoo! News, after several weeks of investigation, the finger that was reported to be in the Wendy's chili has finally been traced to a man who was in an industrial accident and gave it to the husband of Ayala who allegedly planted it in a scam to get money. Investigators found at least 13 cases in which Ayala has filed claims her or her children's name. Surrounding Wendy's in the California area, at the time of the incident reported 60 to 70 percent loss in business and is currently still at 20 percent loss.

By Craig J. Springer

Monday, May 16, 2005

Update on Expungement

In response to my entry of 4/11/05 about expungement, we received an email from John Sandy, Esquire of Stumpf Vickers & Sandy, P.A. in Georgetown, Delaware. He notes that when there is a previous conviction, it is still sometimes possible to get a new criminal charge expunged. He says in part:

4373 (a) states that the existence of the previous conviction is "prima facie" evidence that dissemination of information relating to the arrest to be expunged does not constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner. Prima facie evidence is conclusive on the issue unless rebutted.

In my own practice, on several occasions, when the previous conviction was remote in time and/or considerably different in degree or nature, I have been able to convince the DOJ not to oppose the motion or the court of the "manifest injustice" over the State's objection. Within the past year I had a young lady turned down for a job with the Dept. of Corrections (I didn't think that they turned anyone down) on the basis of an arrest for Assault 3rd on her boyfriend. That charge was subsequently dismissed but because she had had an Under Age Consumption on her record 3 years earlier the DOJ opposed the motion. When I produced the letter from DOC stating that it was the assault arrest that kept her from being hired and pointed out that this was not a plea bargain where she pled to the alcohol charge in return for a dismissal of the assault, the DOJ withdrew its objection (but noted the previous conviction in its response to the court). The court granted the motion knowing that she had previously been convicted.

Another point that was not addressed in my previous entry, but that Mr. Sandy brought to my attention is that when a person is involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in Delaware, it is noted on that person's record and can be viewed by anyone with access to the criminal record. However, these records can also be expunged. Mr. Sandy writes:

I have twice been successful in having the "Mental Patient" notation removed (sealed) from the SBI record. In both cases SBI itself vehemently opposed and the DOJ took up their position. The cases, about 5 years apart, were nearly identical. Both involved young women applying for jobs that required a background check. As I recollect, they were both applying for teaching positions. At the time of their petitions both were in their mid twenties. In each case, when they were 15 or 16, they threatened (but did not attempt) suicide over breakups with boyfriends. In both cases, alarmed parents enlisted the aid of the State Police and 72 hour commitments were procured. Both girls were released before the 72 hours elapsed and neither ever had any other problem. Clearly, a background check would have been severely detrimental to their teaching careers. A reading of the statue clearly stated that "adult" commitments were to be reported. Despite the fact that the records should never have been made available to SBI the State opposed sealing the record. In both cases the court (Graves in one and Bradley in the other) granted the motion. I am surprised that some of the mental health advocates have not taken up the issue of the inclusion of this information in the SBI records.

Thank you Mr. Sandy for your insights.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

School Trip Day - Not like it used to be.

Thursday, I spent 12 hours as a chaperone to eight 8th graders in Washington DC. We saw the Arlington National Cemetery, the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol, and several of the Smithsonian museums.

What a day. I really respect those teachers. They have a tough job.

What was disappointing to me was that we didn't get to go inside the Capitol Building. Guards with automatic weapons were prevalent around the structure. We couldn't even stand still to try to organize the several hundred school children who had been given the wrong directions by Capitol staff. We lumbered from one spot to the next, stopped to regroup for a few seconds before security forces would swoop down on us again to tell us we couldn't stand still. This happened 4 or 5 times until we used up all of the time we had allotted to tour the Capitol, and then we left.

Very few people appreciate security as much as do I. But there is something very disheartening about showing these kids where our government is, and being treated that way. By the end of it, I was fully prepared to be arrested and interrogated. I would have been fine with that.

The rest of the trip was wonderful. Nice weather. Reasonably good kids. Security at the Smithsonian was both workable and effective. The dinosaurs seemed smaller than I remembered though.

It just wasn't like I remembered it from my school trips. I guess nothing is.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Finger Frenzy

According to, a man in Wilmington, North Carolina found a finger in his frozen custard. This time, officials have confirmed that this incident was no hoax. Officials from the agricultural department said that the owner of the ice cream shop confirmed that one employee lost a finger in a food processing machine.

Story by Craig Springer

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

How Safe Is Your Childrens' School Bus Driver?

I was surprised to find that we shouldn't have much faith in our Delaware public school system's ability to screen school bus drivers.

Some of these drivers work for the school district, and some work for private bus companies which are contracted by the school District.

In either case, Delaware Law requires a record check.

Are these checks being done? The answer may surprise you. And if they are being done, what is happening when they find a record? What sort of record should disqualify a person from being a school bus driver?

How about convictions for :

Failure to Stop at a Red Light
Possession of Marijuana
Offensive Touching
Attempted Criminal Mischief
Reckless Driving
Patronizing a Prostitute
Resisting Arrest
Inattentive Driving
Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Would you want such a driver driving your children around? Our bus driver had all of those convictions.

A couple of years ago, the State of Georgia discovered their part of this problem. When will Delaware fix ours?