Friday, June 29, 2007

SCOTUS Changes Mind, Will Hear Gitmo Detainee Case After All

In a surprising and rare move, the SCOTUS ended their last week (which was not absent of doosies handing down significant decisions on both the death penalty and affirmative action), with a doosie. The Court, which had previously refused to grant cert in the Gitmo detainee habeas cases in April (previous post), today changed course and decided to grant cert.

06-1195 ) BOUMEDIENE, LAKHDAR, ET AL. V. BUSH PRESIDENT OF U.S., ET AL. ) 06-1196 ) AL ODAH, KHALED A. F., ET AL. V UNITED STATES, ET AL. The petitions for rehearing are granted. The orders entered April 2, 2007, denying the petitions for writs of certiorari are vacated. The petitions for writs of certiorari are granted. The cases are consolidated and a total of one hour is allotted for oral argument. As it would be of material assistance to consult any decision in Bismullah, et al., v. Gates, No. 06-1197, and Parhat, et al., v. Gates, No. 06-1397,
currently pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, supplemental briefing will be scheduled upon the issuance of any decision in those cases.
One news article guesses that it was one particular affidavit filed last week that made the difference.
An Army reserve officer and lawyer who played a key role in the enemy combatant hearings at Guantanamo Bay says tribunal members relied on vague and incomplete intelligence while being pressured to rule against detainees, often without any specific evidence. The officer's affidavit, submitted to the Supreme Court last Friday, is the first criticism by a member of the military panels that determine whether detainees will continue to be held.
From Yahoo News.
If this is the information that changed their minds (meaning Kennedy and Stevens), there might still be hope. But it's going to be a while. I'm sure this comes as only mild reassurance to those detainees who have been at Gitmo for over five years now.


I just learned over at Abovethelaw that this is the first time in SIXTY YEARS that they've changed their mind on granting cert. Wow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus: Part "Dude!"

In a 5-4 decision handed down yesterday, the Supreme Court reversed a Ninth Circuit decision and held that the school board did not offend the First Amendment when it disciplined a student who held up a sign that read "BONG HiTS 4 Jesus" at a "school outing" when the class was outside watching the Olympic torch go by.

Now as a practical matter, it is a pretty stupid thing to do and I don't think disciplining the student for being a jackass is a bad idea. But if you read why the board disciplined him, and more importantly, why the SCOTUS upholds the school board's decision is more than a little disturbing.

While the court admitted the message was "cryptic," it went on to conclude that the sign "advocated the use of illegal drugs," and that thus the school could thus restrict the student's speech consistent with the First Amendment.

But pay close attention to how the Court concludes that the sign promotes and advocates illegal drug use. Here is the key paragraph.

At least two interpretations of the words on the banner demonstrate that the sign advocated the use of illegal drugs. First, the phrase could be interpreted as an imperative: “[Take] bong hits . . .”—a message equivalent, as Morse explained in her declaration, to “smoke marijuana” or “use an illegal drug.” Alternatively, the phrase could be viewed as celebrating drug use—“bong hits [are a good thing],” or “[we take] bong hits”—and we discern no meaningful distinction between celebrating illegal drug use in the midst of fellow students and outright advocacy or promotion.
So the phrase could be interpreted as an "imperative" when the court inserts the correct verb and appropriate conjugation in front of the what the sign actually says "[Take] bong hits..." or it could be "celebrating" drug use when the Court inserts pretty much ALL of the necessary language for that interpretation "bong hits [are a good thing]."

I'm sorry, but that's fucking crazy. Here, I can play that too. How about "bong hits [are totally bogus]." See? It's actually promoting a drug-free America, Judge Roberts! Or maybe the sign read "[All students have to pray ] 4 Jesus!" Now we have an establishment clause violation! This is fun. Feel free to come up with your own meaning!

If there's anything that can be called "judicial activism," it includes adding operative language to the speech in question so that it can be placed outside of the full scope of protection of the First Amendment.

Previous post on the oral argument, Bong Stinks for Jesus: collateral tokage.

Better written article at the, from whence I also stole the picture.

Full SCOTUS opinion

Sunday, June 24, 2007

F*ck Your Gender

The Gay Pride Parade and associated festivities are a special time here in San Francisco. The only similar situation I can imagine is perhaps Easter in Vatican City, or or maybe Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. While SF is known for having a large gay population, for one weekend a year it becomes gay ground zero: or man mecca: or something like that. I like to go and enjoy the festivities and show my support. And pick up some lube and other party favors.

I noticed this year that Pride Weekend has become increasingly corporate; or perhaps more accurately, there is now a larger corporate presence at the fair. I saw booths for Yahoo (see above), Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and many others. At first I was a little taken aback (is nothing sacred!!), but as a friend pointed out, this is actually a good sign. First, it shows that the gay community is being increasingly embraced, or at least sought after as potential consumers and clients. This should really be no surprise as I've seen several surveys that indicated that the average income of gays is generally higher than that of the equivalent heterosexual individual. Banks aren't really being purely altruistic here, surprise surprise.

Second, it's moving away from the stereotype that all this is only about (promiscuous) sex. Which, while there is an element of that, no more than would be expected at an event that is based on sexual orientation. It is definitely a place to meet people, but that's not the main focus or the whole point.

It was fun. You can see all of the pics on flickr, but here are some of my faves.

Personal favorite, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Don't forget to share your Altoids with the man meat next to you!

Longest 2.5 miles EVER!

These amazing samba dancers were apparently from the Department of Health. I might have to drop my health insurance and drop by. That one girl goes to my gym.

That is my old law school in the background. And on Sunday it became the right bank of Leather Alley. Awesome!

Favorite party favor. This was given to me by a man who poked me in the nipple with it. On the bottom is a public service announcement to get tested for syphilis. I felt a little weird being singled out for this. But he's smiling, so that's a good sign.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nebraska Judge Disallows Use of Word "Rape"

A Nebraska judge bans the word rape from his courtroom
By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007, at 7:27 PM ET

[Redacted for boringness]
Yet a Nebraska district judge, Jeffre Cheuvront, suddenly finds himself in a war of words with attorneys on both sides of a sexual assault trial. More worrisome, he appears to be at war with language itself, and his paradoxical answer is to ban it: Last fall, Cheuvront granted a motion by defense attorneys barring the use of the words rape, sexual assault, victim, assailant, and sexual assault kit from the trial of Pamir Safi—accused of raping Tory Bowen in October 2004.

Full Article from Slate.

When I first read this headline, I got angry at the idea of another backwards southern state trying to turn back the clock on women's rights, or as I like to call it the "Shush up honey, and get me another mint julep" style of jurisprudence. But as it turns out, this is actually a rape case and now I'm a little torn on the issue myself.

Rape, as it is being used here in the court room, is a criminal offense that only legally exists when all of the elements of the crime are met. So anytime someone uses it, it is a legal conclusion. It would be the same as allowing the prosecution or a witness to refer to a person accused of embezzling as an "embezzler who was embezzling." You can testify that he had forcible intercourse or that he used violence or anything to describe the situation, you just can't say what it is up to the jury to decide. Whether it was "rape." If everyone is allowed to describe the conduct as "rape" during the trial then it would make sense that the jury would agree.

But to exclude the word at all (as I imagine this was a motion in limine, at the beginning of trial) seems excessive. I'm sure that the victim of a mugging would testify that he was "mugged" or that he was "robbed," even though the latter would qualify as a legal conclusions as well. Of course the victim thinks a crime was committed. I think an instruction or admonishion to the jury before hand would have been sufficient. Something to the effect of "any time someone uses the word rape, you should disregard the use of the word as evidence that the crime was actually committed."

I wonder how this works most of the time. This is too heavy for a friday.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Quelle Bonne Idée!

Yesterday, Paris began its Velib' program (velo + liberté = velib'). A program where eventually over 10,000 bicycles will be available to Parisians for their daily commute at 750 different points throughout the city. All it takes is a 150€ deposit, and, while the first half-hour is free, one also needs to sign some sort of rental agreement, depending on needs. The best deal seems to be the annual 29€ rental.

I don't know if that would work in SF, because of these.

photo courtesy of Dizzy Atmosphere on flicker

But what a great idea! Although not everyone's happy. The reaction of one bicylce store owner, was "not everone wants to ride a communist bike." («Tout le monde n'a pas envie de rouler sur un vélo communiste») (from la lib)

Article from La Liberation

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sarkozy and Putin: No wounded soldiers on their watch

"Tout qui commence bien...."

This is a clip of a befuddled Sarkozy apologizing for arriving late to a press conference, stating that it was due to the length of discussions with Vladamir Putin. The Belgians picked this up first, and inferred that Sarko was wasted by saying that he had had more to drink than just water. Others have implied that he tried to keep up with Putin and lost.

I don't know. He has said before that he doesn't drink alcohol. He might also just be a befuddled new president late for an important press conference.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer in SF Will Last Approximately 3 days

No, this isn't about climate change. When people think of California, they don't usually think of cold-ass bitter wind in June. They think of boobs bouncing in slow-motion along the beach or the warm Silicon Valley, or sometimes a cross between the two. But the weather in SF is a little different. It's not perma-summer like down in LA. And for some reason the summer is actually one of our coldest seasons. Something to do with the heat of the valley, bringing in fog, something something something, blah blah blah.

But hey, guess what? According to the Chronicle, we're going to have a "75-Degree 'Heat Wave' in SF." That's how cold the summers are here people. Our Heat Waves aren't all that hot and get put in quotes.

I own a lot of fleece.

But, of course, not everyone is happy about this.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I Know Why the Caged Bird Feels "Caged"

In an exclusive interview with Barbara Walters, an imprisoned Paris Hilton described her first few days in jail as a “horrible experience,” saying she didn’t eat, sleep, was severely depressed and felt like she was “in a cage.” (Boston Herald article)
A caaaaaaage? Prison? Really? I never! Perhaps she meant "open field of daisies" or "like a princess on her throne." As long as no one takes a picture!

This reminds me of an event that kept me motivated to stay in school when I worked in the service industry in high school and college. The dialog is reproduced below.

Client: I'll have the entrée.
Me: Great, would you like a salad or the soup du jour?
Client: What is the soup du jour?
Me: Today we have the "wild mushroom soup."
Client: Hmm, I think I'll have that.
Me: Ok, great. Thank You.
(I bring the soup, along with the rest of the table's appetizers/starters. Several minutes later, I am flagged down by the client.)
Me: Yes?
Client: I don't know about this soup.
Me: I'm sorry, is there something wrong with it?
Client: I don't tastes like mushrooms. It's too mushroom-y.

We ended comping that table a lot of stuff. You can imagine how the rest of the meal went.

I feel that we all have been a little too obsessed with the Paris Hilton thing. Myself most definitely included. I'm a little burnt out, to tell you the truth. So, absent any crazy and completely unforeseen circumstances, I'm going to do all (3) of us a favor and not going to talk about her anymore.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Paris Back in the Pokey

As opposed to getting poked in the back-y. You know, like her sex film? Nah, too much of a stretch, huh? Well all the good ones have already been taken in the nanosecond since this news was released.

While I have made my opinion clear in my previous posts, I do think it is unfair for the Sheriff to release Paris, only to have the Court haul her back in the next day and change her sentence. This seemed to be more of a dispute between the sheriff's department and the court/city attorney. They really didn't need to drag her into court again. Sorry Paris. But still not too sorry.


Photo from The Superficial

I really wish she would just stay put. Having so many freaking posts about Paris Hilton is really starting to freak me out.

Not So Fast Paris

The judge and City Attorney aren't so happy with the Sheriff's decision to put Paris under mansion-arrest. (cnn article). She is being ordered to appear in court today. Apparently the judge's sentencing order explicitly states that she is not to serve her time at home.

Hmmm. I wonder she did during those "extensive consultations" with doctors that so convinced them she deserved to go home?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Paris Serves Forty-Five Days

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Paris Hilton was let out of jail Thursday morning, days after she began serving what was to have been a 45-day sentence for violating probation, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

Hilton must wear a monitoring bracelet and remain at her home for another 40 days, said sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Well, Paris is loose. Well, in one way that is news, and in another, it really isn't. I'm sure that totally seemed like 45 days and that you like, you know, totally learned your lesson and stuff. P.S. Paris, think of it as an accessory. Michelle Rodriguez totally made it work.

Apparently Paris was refusing to eat la cuisine served en prison. She was allowed to do her time under home confinement due to "medical considerations." Yes, refusing to eat will always be a medical consideration that warrants lenient treatment. Just ask the boys in Guantanamo.

I feel like this should make me angry. But I guess I'm just not surprised.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Charges Against Hamdan & Khadr Dismissed

Military judges dismissed all charges against Salim Ahmed Hamdan (the same Hamdan who was the petitioner in the 2006 Supreme Court case) and Omar Ahmed Khadr (the kid who was 15 when he was detained).

These detainees had been previously determined to be "enemy combatants" but not "unlawful enemy combatants." As the tribunal only has jurisdiction to hear cases involving "unlawful enemy combatants, the judge found it did not have jurisdiction to hear the cases.

bite-size article

In depth analysis

Written ruling

Arcade Fire Posts up in Berkeley

Photo swiped from douglemoin's flicker page available here

The gf was in town last week (thus the lack of copious posts), and we went and saw the Arcade Fire play at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on June 2. Incredible show, and the Greek Theatre (huge stage) was a great venue for a band with so many members. The percussionists at one point were climbing the scaffolding and banging on the metal with their drum sticks. I don't know how they manage to maintain such energy for the whole show. We were actually a little closer than the guy who took the photo. I'm always scared to bring cameras to concerts, cuz I don't want to get it confiscated.

So at one point, Win Butler (singer), tells us this story. He said he had come the closest he ever had to being arrested earlier that day in Berkeley. Butler said he went to the Berkeley gym (the "RSF," to the initiated) to shoot some hoops. He didn't want to play a game, but just shoot by himself. He said guys came and wanted to kick him off of the half-court. He refused to leave. The confrontation escalated, and eventually campus security and I believe the police came. He said he had paid good money to just shoot some hoops. Eventually he left, but he was obviously still angry about it. I mean he brought it up in front of several thousand people a couple of hours later.

I thought you guys played hockey?

I would NEVER have foreseen this, but apparently several people have started blogs on the event. One guy, says he was in the group of guys who wanted the court, and accused Butler of stealing his basket ball. It has since been deleted, but several others (mock?) have sprouted up. Man, the internet is weird. Here's a link that still works.

Anyway, the show was great, and no offense to Win Butler, but I have such a crush on your wife. Elle est tellment douée!! See you guys next time you come through town!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Why I Love the Internet

Within hours of each other two people on opposite sides of the globe found this blog by inserting search terms into Google. The search terms were:

Person 1: "format for a memo attorney"

Person 2: "Fuzzy condoms"

I hope you both found what you're looking for!