Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hello Officer, read my middle finger!!

In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.” Read this: giving a cop the finger!

This case all started when John Swartz  flipped off an officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, N.Y. Swartz was later charged with a violation of New York’s disorderly conduct statute. Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz sued the two police officers who arrested him.

The officer’s record and explanation as to why he pulled over the couple on this case is classic! Richard Insogna, the officer who stopped Swartz and his wife claimed he pulled the couple over because he believed Swartz was “trying to get my attention for some reason.” The officer further claimed: “I thought that maybe there could be a problem in the car. I just wanted to assure the safety of the passengers,” and “I was concerned for the female driver, if there was a domestic dispute.”

Thankfully the appeals court didn’t buy that crap, ruling that the “nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”

This opinion is awesome. In a wonderful analysis of the standard of “reasonable suspicion” the Court lamented

Perhaps there is a police officer somewhere who would interpret an automobile passenger’s giving him the finger as a signal of distress, creating a suspicion that something occurring in the automobile warranted investigation. And perhaps that interpretation is what prompted Insogna to act, as he claims. But the nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness. This ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity. Surely no passenger planning some wrongful conduct toward another occupant of an automobile would call attention to himself by giving the finger to a police officer.

Hey officer Krupke, Krup you!

indexHere’s the opinion.


2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Righthaven hit with another marshal’s writ…

Glad to be a part of this! Let’s hope we can do something about it and gain something from it.

Vegas, Inc. Article

 

 


Social Media Decisions

I ran across these two court decisions recently.  Two very different interpretations of First Amendment Protection.

PFLAG v. Camdenton School Dist. III, out of the Western District of Missouri,the Court granted an injunction against the Camdenton school district when it prohibited students’ access to Lesbian and Gay friendly websites but allowed access to Anti-lesbian and gay websites.

The court ruled that the school district violated students’ First Amendment rights by intentionally blocking websites supportive of gays and lesbians using filtering software.PFLAG claimed the School District administrators intentionally blocked 41 websites based solely on their LGBT-supportive content, but allowed anti-LGBT websites through the filter. The Court ordered Camdenton to “discontinue its Internet-filtering system as currently configured, and any new system must not discriminate against websites expressing a positive viewpoint toward LGBT individuals.”

In another case,John Doe v. Bobby Jindal, out of the Middle District of Louisiana, the Court upheld a criminal defendant’s First Amendment rights when the government attempted to impose a state law prohibition against his use if Facebook while on sex offender probation. The Court ruled that the law imposed “a sweeping ban on many commonly read news and information websites,” as well as social networking sites. The definition of “chat room” in the law is so broad, for instance, the court’s own website could fall under the ban.


Back From Hiatus…

Well, we’re back!

 

Please look forward to some interesting topics as the days move on…


Vermont Proposes Changing Laws on “sexting”

This article is an importnt addition to the my recent posts. (See, Girl Posts Nude Pics of Self and is Charged with Child Porn, Teens Sue Prosecutor over Racy Cell phone pics,and the Hypocracy of Law) It completes the circle in the variuos arguments for and against this conduct.

State legislators in Vermont are moving to decriminalize the practice known as “sexting.” “Sexting” is the sending of “erotic” (i use that term loosely) images taken with your cell phone and sent to another’s cell phone.  When this is done between individuals who are under tha age of 18, the images, in the eyes of the law, become child pornogrpahy. Vermont legislators, unwilling to force teens to go through life as registered sex offenders because they foolishly used their cell phones and computers to exchange revealing photos of themselves with friends, feel that a change in the law is necessary.

As  most states’ laws are written, no distinction exists between pedophiles who possess sexually explicit images of minors and underage teens who consensually exchange images of themselves. As more minors are being prosecuted as adults and being branded sex offenders for life, Vermont is among the first to consider legislation to separate what teens do among themselves from adult crimes.

The proposed legislation in Vermont would decriminalize consensual sexting between kids who are between 13 and 18 years old.

Clearly, this opens the flood gates of debate.

Read the story here.


Producers of “Terminator: Salvation” in Legal Battle

Imagine that…. a lawsuit in Hollywood! According to Variety:

“Terminator: Salvation” producer Moritz Borman has sued fellow producers Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek and their Halcyon Co. banner, alleging fraud and breach for not paying him producing fees.

Borman claims he help arrange for Anderson and Kubicek to acquire the rights to the Terminator franchise for their company Halcyon Co. in 2007. It gave the pair full rights over the production of Terminator Salvation and any future sequels, plus merchandise and licensing. Borman alleges financial backing for the movie was secured through investment fund Pacificor LLC in exchange for approval rights over the movie, involvement in all creative decisions, and a $5 million producing fee.

“Notwithstanding the fact that defendants obtained the substantial franchise rights and assets through Borman, Anderson and Kubicek failed to honor their assurances, representations and contractual obligations to Borman,” the suit said. “Defendants’ egregious fraud, bad faith conduct and refusal to abide by their contracts has led to the filing of this lawsuit.”

Borman alleges that Anderson and Kubicek “hijacked” the production last July as principal photography was being completed and refused to pay him the $2.5 million balance of his producing fee. “Soon after, it also came to light that Anderson and Kubicek did not have the means to finance the picture, had defaulted on numerous loans and owed over $1 million to creditors on the picture,” the suit added.

If I get a copy of the Complaint, I will post it here.

Read the Variety story here.


Judge for yourself…police and protestors clash

I know there are always two sides to a story.  But the actions in this clip from the DNC last week seem a little disproportionate. You decide on your own.


Antiwar T-shirts win protection

The Arizona daily Sun is reporting that a federal judge on Wednesday permanently blocked state and local officials from prosecuting a Flagstaff man who produces and sells antiwar T-shirts with the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

According to the report, U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake said the shirts are “core political speech fully protected by the First Amendment.” Wake acknowledged that Dan Frazier sells the shirts. But he said the fact that an item is sold rather than given away does not strip it of its constitutional protections.

At the heart of this case are Frazier’s T-shirts, which have the words “Bush Lied” on one side and “They Died” on the other, all superimposed over the names of more than 4,000 soldiers killed in the Iraq war. This all stemming from actions of Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, who pushed through a law making it a crime to use the names, portraits or pictures of dead soldiers to market any items without first obtaining consent of next of kin. Waring acknowledged the statute, which allows an offender to be jailed for up to six months, was aimed specifically at Frazier. (Source)


From “Freedom Cage” to “Gitmo on the Platte”

Well, as all of you are aware, the DNC is right around the corner. Denver is getting ready for the onslaught of delegates and protesters to hit this town. However, while the Delegates are watching the events at the Pepsi Center, protesters will be funneled into a 50,000-square-foot demonstration zone that will have two layers of chain-link fences wrapped around it during the Democratic National Convention. It has been deemed the “freedom cage” by a group planning on protesting during the convention.

The ACLU challenged the protesting restrictions in a recent lawsuit claiming that the security restrictions imposed during the Convention will violate [detainees] rights to freedom of speech and assembly under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

In that action, the Plaintiffs identified four facets of the security restrictions that they contend infringe upon their First Amendment rights:

• The location and configuration of the Public Demonstration Zone on the Pepsi Center grounds, being outside “sight and sound” of delegates and the Pepsi Center building itself, renders it an inadequate alternative to offset the closure of some public streets to First Amendment uses;

• The terminus of the approved route for parades scheduled during the Convention, on Monday, August 25, through Wednesday, August 27, is not within “sight and sound” of the Pepsi

• The route for parades scheduled before the Convention begins, on Sunday, August 24, does not travel over Chopper Circle; and

• The City of Denver denied a permit to Plaintiff Recreate 68 for an afternoon parade on Monday, August 25 through downtown Denver, citing traffic and staffing concerns.

Federal District Judge Kreiger upheld the restriction determining that although “the Plaintiffs have shown that the challenged restrictions affect their ability to engage in expressive activities in traditional public fora. However, the Defendants have shown that the restrictions are content-neutral, that they are narrowly tailored to serve important governmental interests, and that there are adequate alternative channels by which the Plaintiffs can communicate their messages. Thus, the Plaintiffs have not shown that their First Amendment rights will be infringed, nor that they are entitled to any injunctive relief. (ACLU v. City of Denver – Read the Order here).

For the protesters who will fall to the arbitrary enforcement procedures of the Denver police force over the week, they can look forward to visiting Denver’s temporary “jail” and holding facility which has been dubbed “Gitmo on the Platte” where detainees can be happy that their confinement will not include razor wire. But, anyone arrested during the Democratic National Convention will be held in locked chain-link cells in an old warehouse. The Denver County Sheriff’s Office unveiled the facility Wednesday, saying it was designed to mimic the functions of a real jail. Hey, at least the facility will have air conditioning. However, there will be 20 people to an 18 by 18 fenced “cell.” (Source)