Jackson trial.

Why is it celebrities have such a good track record avoiding conviction? I was trying to recall this morning the last time a celeb was found guilty by a jury—maybe Winona Ryder for shoplifting. (I think Courtney Love typically just pleads guilty since there’s always cameras witnessing her bad behavior.)

It’s always hard to tell from media coverage how evidence plays in the courtroom. I don’t think Michael Jackson brought up any witnesses that directly contradicted the people who testified he’s a pedophile. Sure, he had folks saying he’s a genuinely nice man, that the accuser’s mother is a weirdo, etc. but those don’t really cut into the heart of the allegations.

But if you’re a juror, regardless of whether you love him or hate him, there’s got to be some part of you that doesn’t want to go down in history as one of the people who sent Michael Jackson to jail for fondling children. And for that reason alone, you would see reasonable doubt.

I hate to say it but I think he’ll be found not guilty on all counts.

UPDATE: Yep.

07 Jun 05

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Who’s on first.

McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 9. If you have any bright ideas for figuring out the vote on this one, let me know.

Stevens and O’Connor, JJ., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, in which O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ., joined, in which Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined except with respect to BCRA § 305, and in which Thomas, J., joined with respect to BCRA §§ 304, 305, 307, 316, 319, and 403(b). Breyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Title V, in which Stevens, O’Connor, Souter, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., filed an opinion concurring with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I and V, and concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Title II. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, except for BCRA §§ 311 and 318, concurring in the result with respect to BCRA § 318, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Title II, and dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I, V, and § 311, in which opinion Scalia, J., joined as to Parts I, II-A, and II-B. Kennedy, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which Rehnquist, C. J., joined, in which Scalia, J., joined except to the extent the opinion upholds new FECA § 323(e) and BCRA § 202, and in which Thomas, J., joined with respect to BCRA § 213. Rehnquist, C. J., filed an opinion dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I and V, in which Scalia and Kennedy, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed an opinion dissenting with respect to BCRA § 305, in which Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined.

09 Jun 05

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WTF

Posted by: Damien at June 10, 2005 11:24 AM


Ethics Hotline.

This week I got to exact my $76 worth of value from the State Bar of California. Some research work for my attorney employer led to a question of legal ethics, and he said “hey, just call up the ethics hotline.”

The SBC operates an 800 number that’s ready to field all your ethical inquiries. I mean, that have to do with the practice of law in California. Not whether it’s ok to get off the highway to pee at McDonald’s, when you have no intention of purchasing something, but you did buy an iced tea at a different one about 100 miles back so you feel you’re entitled.

When you call, they take your name & number and call you back. The good news is, both people I spoke to really knew their ethics. They could cite & quote large segments of the Rules of Business & Professional Conduct and 1974 cases defining what it means to practice law “in-state”.

The bad news is, apparently these people are lawyers. So in both cases they converted the question I was asking into a question they knew the answer to, and proceeded to deliver a monologue which was extremely difficult to interrupt once it got started, like a telemarketer delivering a pitch.

I felt a little bad about cutting short their guitar solo but I felt like I shouldn’t hog the ethics hotline—better to steer them back on topic. “Wow, that’s really helpful. [Lying.] So let me ask you a followup question: [repeat original question].”

In related news, a few weeks ago I met a miniature doberman while out walking in my neighborhood. I asked the owner what her dog’s name was. “Ethics.” The dog’s name is Ethics? “Yes.” I really couldn’t think of a worse possible name for a dog. But I kept that to myself.

14 Jun 05

Comments

Justices.

As part of my summer academic research I’ve put together a database of supreme court justices of the last 50 years to figure out who was on the court for which decisions. A side effect is I can generate extremely useless information.

Such as: there have been 4 justices who died while on the bench (Rutledge, Jackson, Vinson, Murphy).

Longest retirement after leaving the bench: James Byrnes, 29 yrs (because he resigned after only 16 months—did he qualify for full pension?)

Shortest retirement: Hugo Black (died 8 days after retiring)

Youngest justice appointed: William Douglas (40 yrs). Oldest appointed: Lewis Powell (64 yrs)

Oldest justice: Harry Blackmun retired just short of his 86th birthday. But John Paul Stevens is 85 and in one more year, will take the title.

24 Jun 05

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