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Archive for July, 2008

Scrabulous, RIP

You may have noticed that Facebook is a little sadder of a place these days.  Scrabulous, beloved game for procrastinators of all stripes, is no more.  After months of asking nicely, Hasbro (which owns rights to the Scrabble in the US and Canada) filed suit against Scrabulous on July 24th, and Facebook finally agreed to remove access to the application for US and Canadian users.  There’s a Scrabble-approved replacement game, but apparently it’s not the same, and angry Scrabulous devotees have already attacked and disabled it.  Sad, for sure.  But there’s an upside, too: as one fan put it, “The country is probably 10% more productive today.”  (H/T: Today’s Papers.)

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The Inspector General released the “Monica Goodling Report” today. In addition to outlining the politicized hiring practices for non-political positions at the DOJ, the report contains some humorous consequences of the politicized process.

First, this excerpt on page 90 is dealing with the changes that Kyle Sampson made to the hiring process for the DOJ’s selection of Immigration Judges, a non-political position.  In essence, candidates were selected (and sometimes offered positions!) by the White House for judgeship vacancies, sometimes without giving notice to any interested parties, including the DOJ or other judges. A representative from the DOJ sent this email to the White House after such a selection and offer:

The Chief Immigration Judge informs me that a gentleman by the name of Mark Metcalf called the Immigration Court in Orlando this morning. Mr. Metcalf told a judge there that he had been offered an IJ position in Orlando, that he needed to decide by December 1st whether he wanted to take the job, and that he wanted the judge to give him a tour of the court. Neither the judge in Orlando nor the Chief Judge nor I had ever heard of this person.

Second, this gem from page 94 of the report details the type of candidates the White House referred to the DOJ for IJ vacancies.

In an email dated December 7, 2005, [the DOJ] advised [the White House] that the candidate’s conduct during his EOIR interview “causes us to question whether he possesses the appropriate judicial temperament and demeanor to serve as an immigration judge.” Ohlson related that the candidate used profanity during the interview, acted abrasively, and when asked what his greatest weakness was, responded “Blondes.”

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Last week Time ran an article about the growing trend of purity balls across America, in which a daughter vows to her father to stay a virgin until marriage.  In reading the comments of the fathers and girls involved, these balls struck me as scary in their re-enforcing outdated gender stereotypes. For example the idea that the father and then the husband are protectors, or that these girls think Prince Charming is on his way and will find them and sweep them off their feet one day.  Also nauseating is the way these balls seem to put all the responsibility on girls. It accepts that boys will be boys and it is the job of the female to rebuff his advances. Placing such an emphasis at such a young age (indoctrination much?) on this concept of “purity” makes it likely that if the girl engages in premarital sex she will likely become a victim of her own guilt—and absolves the boys of any wrongdoing. Furthermore these men freely admit to fostering the antiquated idea of women as objects who are to be traded between progenitors and future husbands.  Will we soon be reduced to fighting over dowries? (more…)

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Justice Scalia and Bryan Garner will teach from their new book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.  In a quick-packed, five-hour CLE, they will discuss legal reasoning and argument, brief-writing and oral argument.  The Scalia-Garner team will also debate their four major points of disagreement–and deliver a seminar enlivened with their well-known trenchant humor.  (See here.)

Friday, July 25, 2008, 10:30AM-5:00PM, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

My street source tells me that law students can attend for free: the $600 enrollment fee is waived with a valid law school ID.  Just show up by 9:30AM and you should get a seat on the balcony. 

So hop to it!  Take the day off and figure out how to persuade Justice Scalia in the Van Vleck finals.  Those of you in CP really have no excuse.

(H/T: Mr. Grover + Ms. Donley.)

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The NY Times has an article today about the suppression of evidence in criminal trials based on police officers’ violation of a suspect’s Fourth amendment rights.  I did not realize this before reading the article, but the US is the only country in the world that excludes all evidence that a suspect can show was obtained in violation of their fourth amendment rights.  The article points to Canada, Britain, and Australia which all use some version of a balancing test weighing the police conduct against the gravity of the crime committed.  The article also goes through the history of suppression, which I found to be fascinating.  The suppression of evidence in federal cases began in 1914, and was not extended to the states until 1961 in a decision by the Warren Court.

As part of my judicial internship this summer I am working on a narcotics case with a suppression motion that has a chance of succeeding.  I’ve struggled with the case a lot emotionally and intellectually.  An allegedly significant distributor of Oxycontin in Vermont is seeking to suppress all evidence obtained from two searches; one conducted by a TSA officer at an airport and a second conducted by two police officers at the airport.  The evidence obtained that evening was likely the basis for all other investigations of this suspect and his brother.  One interesting thing to note about the suppression of evidence is that the brother of this suspect can not have this evidence suppressed in his trial because his constitutional rights were not violated. (more…)

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The RNC is trying to stop CafePress.com’s customers from designing t-shirts that use the trademarked “Official Elephant Logo” and the acronym “GOP.”  (Public Citizen’s blog and Politico).  Most of the “infringing” material, however, appears to be in support of the GOP.  Interestingly, the commentators agree that claims against the pro-GOP material actually have a better chance of suceeding since they are “diluting” the RNC’s official products, and clearly not parody like the anti-GOP material.

Is this a fight the RNC really wants to make?  And during an election year no less?  Not only is this fight potentially harmful to the GOP’s own supporters, it comes at a time when the GOP is practically incapable of courting young voters.  Any litigation on this issue could be perceived by web-savvy youth as another example of the GOP’s inability to relate to issues that greatly affect the young internet generation.

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Economic Mess

I’ll admit it.  I’m thoroughly confused about the whole economic meltdown that is apparently happening all around me.  I don’t have a car, I don’t own a house, and I don’t invest in the stock market, so I’m immune, at least directly, to most of the craziness.  But when I read about people in California waiting in lines to get their money from failed banks, I get worried.  So I did what I always do in these situations: I turned to my trusted anonymous source, who summed it up for my untrained economic mind. (more…)

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