How Appealing

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

“Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest; Jurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel”: The Washington Post on Wednesday will contain a front page article that begins, “A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush’s secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources. U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.” Judge Robertson serves on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In somewhat related news, Wednesday’s edition of The New York Times will report that “Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls.”

Posted at 11:10 PM by Howard Bashman

“Bar Association objects to police posing as lawyers”: The Associated Press provides a report from Seattle, Washington that begins, “The Washington State Bar Association is asking the state Supreme Court to ban police from posing as lawyers – as officers did to obtain DNA evidence in one recent case – saying the practice is unnecessary and damages the credibility of attorney-client relationships.”

According to the article, “The issue arose following the conviction of John Athan, a Palisades Park, N.J., man found to have murdered a 13-year-old girl in Seattle in 1982, when he was 14. Though Athan was a suspect in the case, police didn’t have the evidence to arrest him and the case went unsolved for two decades. In 2003, police sent him a letter on the stationery of a fictitious law firm, asking if they could represent him in a class-action lawsuit. Athan licked the envelope and returned it, providing the DNA sample investigators needed to link him to semen found on the girl’s body.”

Posted at 10:54 PM by Howard Bashman

Available online from National Public Radio: This evening’s broadcast of “All Things Considered” contained segments entitled “Pa. Judge Bars Intelligent Design in Science Classes“; “How ‘Dover’ May Affect U.S. Schools“; “In Favor of Barring Intelligent Design from the Classroom“; “Assessing the Legal Reaches of Executive Power“; and “Behind the ‘Times’ Publication of U.S. Spying Story.”

And today’s broadcast of “Talk of the Nation” contained a segment entitled “Pa. Judge Bans Intelligent Design in Schools.”

RealPlayer is required to launch these audio segments.

Posted at 10:12 PM by Howard Bashman

“Chief justice asks 17 percent raise for state’s judges; Idea gets lukewarm response from Corzine transition team”: The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger contains this article today.

Posted at 5:28 PM by Howard Bashman

“Banned in biology class: intelligent design; Teaching the theory in public schools violates Constitution, judge rules.” This article will appear Wednesday in The Christian Science Monitor.

Posted at 5:20 PM by Howard Bashman

“Displaced artifacts generate legal heat; The fate of rare items occupies a judge and three native groups”: This article appears today in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Posted at 5:08 PM by Howard Bashman

“Polygraph Loomed For Md. Lawyer; Federal Prosecutor Found Dead in ’03”: The Washington Post today contains an article that begins, “Federal prosecutor Jonathan P. Luna, whose death has confounded authorities for two years, was asked to take a lie detector test in connection with about $36,000 in missing evidence shortly before he was found stabbed and drowned in rural Pennsylvania, according to several sources familiar with the investigation. The previously undisclosed polygraph examination sheds new light on the investigation into the Baltimore prosecutor’s death, one of the region’s most enduring mysteries. The sources said some investigators view the looming polygraph test as support for the theory that Luna — whose body was found two years ago this month with 36 stab wounds, most of them superficial — took his own life. The sources asked not to be identified because the case remains open.”

And The Baltimore Sun provides a news update headlined “Source: Luna avoided polygraph before death; Federal prosecutor’s 2003 death was ruled a homicide, remains unsolved” that begins, “Investigators looking into the still-unsolved death of Jonathan P. Luna have not ruled out that he took his own life because the federal prosecutor may have worried about passing a polygraph, a source familiar with the probe confirmed today.”

Posted at 4:45 PM by Howard Bashman

“’01 Resolution Is Central to ’05 Controversy”: Today in The New York Times, David Johnston and Linda Greenhouse have an article that begins, “At the heart of the debate over the legality of the program to eavesdrop on the international communications of American citizens without a court order is a Congressional resolution passed a week after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings that authorized the president to use force against those responsible for the attacks.”

Posted at 4:25 PM by Howard Bashman

Auctions of U.S. Supreme Court bobblehead dolls vs. that Court’s ruling in Basic Inc. v. Levinson: Today’s mail contained the Autumn 2005 issue of The Green Bag, a publication that’s so interesting I might subscribe even without the bobblehead dolls. But speaking of bobblehead dolls, the brand new issue of that publication contains a quite interesting letter titled “An Irrational Market” written by Ira Brad Matetsky addressing the topic mentioned at the outset of this post. (Thanks to Ira and The Green Bag for allowing me to upload a copy of his letter.)

While I’m on the subject, the Justice Antonin Scalia bobblehead being auctioned at eBay ended up selling for $370.00 two days ago. And Tom Goldstein’s auction of a Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist bobblehead doll that will conclude on Christmas Eve currently reflects a high bid of $2,025.00.

Posted at 4:00 PM by Howard Bashman

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting: Today’s newspaper reports that “Judge Downey to retire in 2007; In a statement saying he won’t seek re-election, the judge denies sexual harassment allegations that have stirred controversy for months.” A related news update is headlined “Judge faces charges; Pinellas Circuit Judge Brandt Downey could be removed if he is found guilty of viewing pornography and improper contact with attorneys.”

Elsewhere in today’s newspaper, an article reports that “Al-Arian wants charges dropped; There’s no point for federal prosecutors to retry him on the charges the jury couldn’t decide, Al-Arian’s lawyer says.”

Posted at 3:50 PM by Howard Bashman

“Courthouse returns to former glory; 130-year-old building gets seismic upgrade and new technology”: This article about the Pioneer Courthouse in Portland, Oregon appears today in The Portland Tribune.

Posted at 3:40 PM by Howard Bashman

“ACLJ Gets 10 Commandments Win in Kentucky Case; Federal Appeals Court OK’s Constitutional Display”: The American Center for Law and Justice has issued this news release today. My earlier coverage is here.

Posted at 3:20 PM by Howard Bashman

Where do Becker and Posner stand on the question of the death penalty for drunk drivers? Responding to recent posts at “The Becker-Posner Blog” that I earlier linked to here, Law Professor Doug Berman in his update to this post at the “Sentencing Law and Policy” blog asks some interesting questions.

Posted at 3:15 PM by Howard Bashman