Archive for the 'law stuff' Category

Justice RBG

I urge you to watch this. I think it’s just fascinating.

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And she’s free!

Yowsers! Like millions, I have been anxiously awaiting today’s announcement of the appellate verdict in the Amanda Knox case. Although I wrote about the case only one time, I have been following it off and on since the crime. And now, just now, the court has announced that Knox and Raffaele Sollecito will be freed, clearing them of the horrible murder charges on which they have been imprisoned for years.

Although I obviously do not know what happened that terrible night in 2007, I believe the prosecution’s theory of the case was so incredibly bizzare and convulted that it strained plausibility from the start. The evidence against Knox and Sollecito was so slim that I hesitate to call it ‘evidence.’ I know that my understanding of the case is limited by all the usual obstacles, but increased by a language barrier and a large ocean. Still, the case seemed so strange that I really did not understand how she was found guilty in the first place. I make no claim to being able to grasp the Italian criminal justice system, which seems hopelessly intertwined with its civil system, so I feel uncomfortable commenting on either the trial or the appeal. That said, if I took what I know of the case, or what I think I know, I would not have been able to find her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial. And taking that same knowledge, or what I think is knowledge, and applying it to the US’s appellate system, I could not have found sufficient evidence to sustain the jury’s verdict.

The thing that can be so frustrating about many wrongful conviction cases is not really present in this case. Often, when a person is exonerated it is the result of physical evidence that shows the accused could not have committed the crime or, maybe even more often, that an unknown person clearly participated in the crime. This is frustrating because although we know someone committed the crime, there is no one in prison to “pay” for it. Take, for instance, the recently freed West Memphis Three. Although they have been released because they entered Alford pleas for the murders, it is generally believed that they did not kill the three little boys whose bodies were found in the river all those years ago. This means, of course, that there is still a murderer or murderers out there somewhere that have never been arrested or tried, much less convicted, of the atrocious crime of child-killing.

Here, though, we do not seem to have that problem. While Knox and Sollecito have been freed, Rudy Guede continues to sit in prison for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Guede admitted he was at the scene the night of the crime, his bloody handprint was found on a pillow, his alibi is that he was in the bathroom while an Italian man killed Kercher, he claimed he came out of the bathroom to find blood everywhere, he ran out of the apartment and then fled to Germany.

I am generally a ‘lone gunman’ believer or, rather, I am much more apt to believe the simplest theory of a crime. Here, it seems to me, the most plausible explanation for the murder, which is the one supported by significant evidence, is that Guede acted alone in killing Kercher.

What do you think?

Putting those degrees to use

Well, it was only a matter of time before these grads (or a law firm that was paying any attention at all) decided to litigate this nonsense. As I’ve said in previous posts, there’s ample blame to go around — the schools, the student loan industry, the students — but I look forward to seeing how these suits play out.

Why I love paying taxes, reason #64365181682

You know those people who seem to live in bubbles and make a point to tell you that they are so unbelievably busy that they don’t have time for things like, say, ‘news?’ And then they ask you a question that you don’t know the answer to, and the answer to which doesn’t have any effect on you in any manner, but they whine with such gravity that you feel compelled to spend your time finding the answer? Well, maybe you don’t, but I do. And one such person just irked me. For the billionth time.

Which leads me to an ode to Eau Claire. I never really thought I’d write such a sentence, but here I am doing so, and doing so happily. There have been rumors aplenty in the office about the contents of Joint Finance Committee’s dreaded Wisconsin’s 2011-13 budget. You may have even heard some yourself, Dear Reader. I decided to try to tackle one such rumor myself by, shockingly, finding the text of the budget. Radical, I know. Although I do have an unabashed love for Wikipedia (despite learning recently — from Wikipedia — that one of its founders purportedly has an unabashed love for all things Ayn Rand-y), sometimes it’s best to, you know, do some actual research. Original texts can be a good place to start. So, what do I do? Well, I hit up a variety of sites, including the legislature’s own. Hmm. Can’t find anything. My research turns up what Walker proposed what feels like a century ago, but was really March, what the assembly proposed and what the senate proposed and what was taken up in JFC. But nowhere can I find what JFC sent to the assembly on Monday when the committee took its sad, final vote on the destructive nonsense. Boo.

Well, where the hell is it? After checking the usual suspects — the LFB, the Wheeler Report, Wispolitics’ budget blog (which is genius, by the way) — I turn back to the old and reliable stand-by, the google search. After paging through a few pages devoted to Monday’s supreme court argument (oh, google, you were there with me when I listened to the whole thing online! you should know I don’t need any more info on that), I came across a page from the UW-Eau Claire’s library that appeared to house state government documents. Voila! Click and click! Hmm. It wasn’t there. But what was set off in the lower right-hand corner? It looked to be…wait, is that right? No, it couldn’t be…Well, maybe…It was an area to type in a question and to instant-message with a public school librarian! (Is instant-message a verb?) I cautiously type in my query, “Where can I find the text of the budget bill that has been sent to the assembly?” I wait. I take a bite of salad. A co-worker pops his head in to ask about a brief. Beep! I am now chatting with the government documents librarian at Eau Claire. Genius! We have a brief chat about my request, she starts to look around for it, I tell her where I have looked, she tells me she can’t find it either, she takes me email address and says she’ll email me if she locates it. Hoo-ray! I know I may never hear from her again, but the beauty of being able to chat on the computer with a public-employee librarian really made my day. Possibly my week. We’ll see.

Snoozefest

I’m aware that this blog has turned into a real snoozefest lately and I apologize for that. I know that I am nowhere near as busy as most people in the universe, but when I get busy I just don’t handle it well. I get cranky. And lately I have felt busy. And cranky.

I feel like work is piling up like crazy and everytime I think I have a handle on things, something drops out of the sky requiring my immediate attention. Relatedly, I feel so anxious and angry and sad about these political events that I don’t know where to focus my attention. As a former member of our union’s board and a current member of its bargaining team, I have been very active in meetings to discuss these goings on. Meetings after work and on weekends. And it’s been frustrating. Last night, I dreamt that Walker had us all corralled in a warehouse and he took out some sort of machine gun to keep everyone under control (even though everyone was under control). It was pretty upsetting.

On a positive note, though, I’m very excited that our long-awaited honeymoon is in T-5 days. Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, here we come!