May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - Due to the shape of the North American Elk's esophagus, even if it could speak, it could not pronounce the word "lasanga."
Bulletproof Vests for Wolves
A judge in Alaska has refused to block hunters from shooting wolves from airplanes. The refusal has sparked a promise to boycott the State's $2 billion tourism industry.
Air Pollution: Getting Less Fast Enough?The USEPA indicated yesterday that because the Clear Skies Initiative is bogged down in Congress, it will begin establishing regulations to do the same thing.
If you can't beat 'em, go around 'em.
Air advocates are hopping mad. "The reality is that what they are proposing will still allow industry to pollute too much for too long," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of Clean Air Trust. "And that will lead to continuing unnecessary health problems."
New USEPA Chief Mike Leavitt says that the regs will cut mercury emissions by 70 percent from 48 tons to 15 tons by 2018. If you click the link, you'll see that this is not news - it's something they haven't done for the last three years. The plan will also establish a type of pollution credit trading program for large utilities.
The new regs would also reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants from about 10 million tons a year to 3.2 million tons by 2015. Also, nitrogen oxide would drop from 4 million tons annually to 1.7 million tons.
Another air advocate group, Environmental Defense had no issue with the trading program, but claimed "reductions ought to be deeper than being proposed."
Other environmental groups have criticized pollution credit trading for allowing the development of "hot spots" of higher pollution around homes and schools. They claim increased emissions are possible just by purchasing credits instead of reducing emissions.
Looks like we're moving forward, just not fast enough for everyone's tastes.
Dirty Harry's New Law for 2004Well, it's time to start thinking about next year's new laws. I still haven't even started my Christmas shopping yet, but I'm already beset by a bevy of new laws. This one's right up there with Court TV's Stupid Crimes and Misdemeanors. There's usually a good crop of candidates there for the Darwin Awards, too, if you're looking for some runners-up.
Anyway, I'm getting off track. New laws.
In California, if you go to the movie theater with your camcorder and videotape the movie before January 1, you will not have violated this crime. There are likely a number of other crimes and copyrights you will have violated, but not this one.
After the New Year, it's $2,500 and up to one year in jail for videotaping a movie in a theater. And, the guy with the popcorn next to you can make a citizen's arrest if he spots you. Only New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have similar laws.
Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo tried to get into the news with this sound bite: "These thieves are stealing from Los Angeles and are stealing from American creativity." Wtih a palm-sized camcorder in one hand, Delgadillo stole a line from the Dirty Harry movie: "If you carry one of these into a movie theater, you have to ask yourself, 'Do I feel lucky?'"
Me? I'll just rent the DVD when it comes out. It's cheaper than buying a camcorder.
Enlibra - More Regulation Than EnforcementUSEPA head bureaucrat Mike Leavitt gave his first speech yesterday.
Heavy on regulations, snappy titles for new programs (Enlibra), and light on enforcement. In fact, Leavitt said, "What about enforcement? I want our first goal to be compliance." Good news for business, bad news for environmentalists.
Leavitt explained Enlibra this way, "I subscribe to an environmental philosophy called Enlibra. It’s a Latin derivative meaning “to move toward balance.” Read compromise.
No judgments here, it's a wait and see attitude.
New USEPA Chief to Speak About Clean Air PlanIn about an hour, we'll hear the first public speech from the new USEPA chief, Mike Leavitt, Utah's former governor.
In case you're wondering about Leavitt's policies, click here. Here's what he has said about the environment.
According to a USEPA press release, "Leavitt has repeatedly stated that 'environmental protection needs to be more than an agency – it needs to be an ethic,'" a statement that doesn't appear on this
full quote page.
In any event, Leavitt's talk should identify where the USEPA will be going in the near future. So far, his past has not met with much support. CNN reported that environmental groups were not pleased with his nomination.
But, let's give him a chance. Leavitt's speech is expected to detail a nationwide clean air plan. No matter what he says, though, vocal critics of the USEPA's relaxation of air rules will surely speak out after the talk.
You can read about it here tomorrow.
Commonalities in Polygamy and Same Sex MarriagesOK, you're right. I don't normally pander to prurient interests. Plus, who needs one more article about polygamy? But, I can't resist this one, especially given how many people have been asking my opinion as a lawyer on the recent spate of decisions on same sex marriages.
I can pick hot topics, can't I?
Well, here's a new twist on an old saw. Detod Legal News posted an AP report that an avowed polygamist believes his case is no different than the cases courts have recently made in favor of same sex marriages.
As a lawyer, I can see his reasoning. I mean if the social policy against same sex marriages is based on lack of procreation, then this guy's made his point. After all, he's got 30 children.
But of course, that's not the "rest of the story." Apparently, according to the AP article, this polygamist allegedly "married" a 13-year old, and he's up on charges of failure to pay child support. I make a good living, but I wouldn't want to see that bill at the end of the month.
For anyone who's wondering, I don't endorse polygamy, although I have to admit .... well, never mind. And to be totally clear, I'll quote the AP report, "Polygamy was renounced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1890 as part of a deal to grant Utah statehood, and the church now excommunicates those members who practice or advocate it. "
There you have it. Notice how I completely avoided giving my opinion on these two issues? Well, if you have to know, I'm a libertarian, so I don't really care whether same sex marriages or polygamy are approved or not.
But I do want to know if that polygamy guy succeeds. Maybe he's got something going there...
Holidays, Friends, Great Food and ThankfulnessThanksgiving is over, Christmas and Chanauka and Kwanzaa are just around the corner.
Ramadan is over, as well as Los Dias de los Muertos.
Whew! Did I cover all the bases? Personally, I celebrate Haloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don't even think I get the other days off.
So in this brief interlude, I'm catching up on sleep (something that's sorely lacking these days) and got to get away this weekend. Of course, before I could I had to go over billing and finish preparing for an arbitration early next week. That took up a fair chunk of yesterday and today. Do I sound like I'm complaining?
If so, I really don't mean to be that way. I'm up at the cabin this weekend, and as some readers know, we survived the Old Fire that came dangerously close to Running Springs.
To see your house standing makes your appreciate what you've got. There were many homes that didn't make it. It makes you appreciate a lot of things you don't normally think about.
During the fire coverage, one of the TV news stations incorrectly broadcast that my friends' business, the Storybook Inn had burned down. But no fear, we had dinner last night in their new restaurant, The View (click on The View Menu). The food was excellent and moderately priced - which is saying a lot for mountain restaurants. Up here, restaurants open and close frequently, and when you find one like this, it's time to give it publicity.
Richard and Patty's Storybook Inn is also a great Bed & Breakfast, with fun theme rooms throughout their large property. There are also some spectacular photographs of the incredible 100-mile views from their sunporch.
The fire devastation makes things look like a moonscape. The nice thing is that the forest repopulates itself quickly, and the sunsets are still spectacular.
I am thankful for friends, holidays, great food and a cabin that is still standing.
Not Blackwells' List - 13 Judicial HellholesThe American Tort Reform Association has labeled our own Los Angeles County Court system a judicial hellhole.
Yes, it's absolutely true. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. In fact, we're one of 13 hellholes in the country, and several others that qualified for "dishonorable mention." You can download the entire report here if you don't believe me.
Never fear, though, several communities have been highlighted as "points of light."
The ATRA is upset at million and billion dollar verdits, and they've created this "Hellhole" report to identify those jurisdictions that have crossed the River of Styx. Most defendants, too, get upset with verdicts like that.
The group defines the phenomenon: "Judicial hellholes" are cities, counties, or judicial districts that attract lawsuits from around the nation or the region because they are correctly perceived as very plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions. They are places where the law is not applied evenhandedly to all litigants. In these areas, there is a systematic bias against defendants, particularly those located outside of the state.
They even quote one judicial author (West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Richard Neeley) who said, "As long as I am allowed to redistribute wealth from out-of-state companies to injured in-state plaintiffs, I shall continue to do so. Not only is my sleep enhanced when I give someone's else money away, but so is my job security, because the in-state plaintiffs, their families, and their friends will reelect me .... It should be obvious that the instate local plaintiff, his witnesses and his friends, can all vote for the judge, while the out-of-state defendants can't even be relied upon to send a campaign donation."
Next time I go to Court in Los Angeles, I'll be looking for judges in bright red robes in the red devil lounge. Then I'll know which courtrooms to stay away from.