Thursday, March 31, 2005
Private illegal immigration enforcement
A citizen's arrest is a formal arrest by a citizen has no official government authority to make such an arrest as an agent of the government. The California Penal Code gives any citizen the right to make a citizen's arrest of another citizen in three alternative situations:
- A public offense was committed or attempted in the citizen's presence.
- The person arrested has committed a felony, although not in the citizen's presence.
- A felony has been in fact committed and the citizen has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested has committed it.
I've been looking through various case law on the subject, and from what I gather, a written notice of an intent to perform a citizens arrest in the state of Arizona is required, if the person you are intending to take into custody is a legal resident of the United States. The key word here is legal ---- the grey zone in this argument is what to do with illegal immigrants, or people who crossed the border a few days ago and are laying-low.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
If it doesn't fit, you must acquit
Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., who became a legal superstar after helping clear former football star O.J. Simpson during a sensational murder trial in which he uttered the famous quote "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," died Tuesday. He was 67.
Cochran died of a brain disorder in Los Angeles, said law partner Randy McMurray.
Monday, March 28, 2005
2006 US NEWS Law School Rankings
My fearless student readers, I'll be the first one to tell you that in the end, it doesn't matter what law school you go to, it's what you get out of the law school you went to. So if you're currently enrolled in a law school that isn't in the top ten, or if your school isn't listed, just remember it's what you learn, and how you use it. To quote Eugene Volokh in regard to this list, "It's basically the same as last year, which was basically the same as the year before that, which was basically the same as the year before that."
1. Yale 2. Harvard 3. Stanford 4. Columbia 5. NYU 6. Chicago 7. Penn 8. Michigan, UVA 10. Northwestern 11. Boalt, Cornell, Duke 14. GULC 15. UCLA, Texas 17. Vandy 18. USC 19. Minnesota 20. BU, GW 22. Iowa, W&L 24. ND, WUSTL 26. UIUC 27. BC, W&M, Fordham, UNC, U Wash 32. Emory, UC Davis, Wisconsin 35. BYU 36. Indiana, UGA, Wake Forest 39. OSU, Hastings 41. George Mason, Tulane, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, UMD 47. American 48. Colorado 49. Case Western, U Conn, Utah 52 Baylor, SMU, Pitt, U Tenn Knoxville 56. FSU, U Kentucky 58. ASU, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Loyola LA, U Cincinnati 63. USD, Villanova 65. Chicago-Kent, Rutgers Camden, Temple, Houston 69. Loyola Chicago, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon 73. Rutgers Newark, St. Louis, Miami, Richmond 77. Lewis & Clark, Pepperdine, St John's, SUNY Buffalo, Nebraska, Oklahoma 83. Seton Hall, Hawaii 85. Catholic, GA State, Northeastern, Louisville, U Miss 90. LSU, Penn State, UNLV, U of SC, U Pacific (McGeorge) 95. Hofstra, Indiana (Indianapolis), Seattle, Syracuse, Denver 100. Marquette, Mercer, Kansas
People v. Jackson, results of the 1108 hearing
In a major setback for Michael Jackson, a judge ruled Monday the jury can hear allegations the pop star molested or had designs on five other boys, including actor Macaulay Culkin and two youngsters who reached multimillion-dollar settlements with the singer.
Now, all of you legal scholars outside of California are sitting there, scratching your heads, wondering how a prior allegation that resulted in an out of court settlement can be brought up during trial by the prosecution. Well, there's a lovely new penal code in California, established in the mid-90's, that allows for prior alleged acts of molestation to be presented to the jury, although the jury cannot use the information to decide guilt, but only as a point of reference. Sound tricky? It is, and most defense lawyers hate it with a passion, because even though the jury can not use it as evidence, it still can not be considered heresay, thus making it a valid reference point. For your reference, here's a copy of the entire code.
California Penal Code 1108:
(a) In a criminal action in which the defendant is accused of a sexual offense, evidence of the defendant's commission of another sexual offense or offenses is not made inadmissible by Section 1101, if the evidence is not inadmissible pursuant to Section 352.
(b) In an action in which evidence is to be offered under this section, the people shall disclose the evidence to the defendant, including statements of witnesses or a summary of the substance of any testimony that is expected to be offered, at least 30 days before the scheduled date of trial or at such later time as the court may allow for good cause.
(c) This section shall not be construed to limit the admission or consideration of evidence under any other section of this code.
(d) As used in this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) "Sexual offense" means a crime under the law of a state or of the United States that involved any of the following:
(A) Any conduct proscribed by Section 243.4, 261, 261.5, 262, 264.1, 266c, 286, 288, 288a, 288.2, 288.5, or 289, or subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2 or Section 311.3, 311.4, 311.10, 311.11, 314, or 647.6, of the Penal Code. (B) Contact, without consent, between any part of the defendant's body or an object and the genitals or anus of another person.(C) Contact, without consent, between the genitals or anus of the defendant and any part of another person's body.(D) Deriving sexual pleasure or gratification from the infliction of death, bodily injury, or physical pain on another person.(E) An attempt or conspiracy to engage in conduct described in this paragraph.
(2) "Consent" shall have the same meaning as provided in Section 261.6 of the Penal Code, except that it does not include consent which is legally ineffective because of the age, mental disorder, or developmental or physical disability of the victim.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Getting yourself a living will
Disclaimer: I really dislike the fact that I have to do this, but it must be done. The above link does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and I. Please refer to my Disclaimer / Terms of Service to the left in the links section for detailed information. Use of the document above or anything of mention does not mean this website, or the author, is acting as your attorney, and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Rather, it helps you represent yourself in your own legal matters. If you seek representation, are involved in litigation or have complex legal issues that cannot be resolved on your own, I recommend that you hire an attorney.
Transcription and report of Jackson fingerprint evidence
Technician Lisa Hemman said the brother's fingerprint was found on a page of a magazine called Finally Legal.
She said that the print was initially ruled inconclusive by her and her co-examiner in September and October of 2004, but that it was re-examined and ruled conclusive in a report filed in January.
Asked why that had transpired, the witness said, "As an examiner you always go on the edge of caution. If you don't want to rush a job you make it inconclusive."
Hemman said the process involved comparing hundreds of fingerprints to those of three people. She did not name the three, who presumably were the accuser, his brother and Jackson.
She said that on first examination they concluded the one fingerprint was inconclusive.
"It means it's a difficult print. We can't rule the person to be a positive ID and we can't rule it out," she said.
"With respect to that particular print, did you have a belief as to who the print was made by when you ruled it inconclusive?" asked Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola.
"Yes," she said, and named the brother of the accuser.
Hemman also testified that the fingerprint of another minor was found but she did not identify that person.
On cross-examination, Sanger said that fingerprint analysis is "your subjective opinion of the evidence" and the witness agreed.
Another witness, Charlene Marie of the California Department of Justice crime lab, testified she received 15 items - magazines and pages - from Hemman to analyze for biological substances and found none.
Planning for the future
The American Bar Association reviewed and posted generic versions of most of these, although I would recommend swinging over to LegalZoom.com for actual documents that you can have completed for virtually nothing at all, and have your wishes set in stone.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Choice stats in The Minneapolis DV Experiment
The 205 completed initial interviews provide some sense of who the subjects involved in domestic violence are, although the data may not properly represent the characteristics of the full sample of 314. They show the now familiar pattern that domestic violence cases coming to police attention disproportionately involve unmarried couples with lower than average education levels, who are disproportionately minority and mixed race (black male, white female) and who are very likely to have had prior violent incidents with police intervention. The 60 percent unemployment rate for the experiments suspects is strikingly high in a community with only about five percent of the workforce unemployed. The 59 percent prior arrest rate is also strikingly high, suggesting (with the 80 percent prior domestic assault rate) that the suspects generally are experienced law-breakers who are accustomed to police interventions.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Wal-Mart at $11 million
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $11 million to settle federal allegations it used illegal immigrants to clean its stores, attorneys in the case said Friday.
The landmark settlement was expected to be announced by federal immigration officials at a news conference Friday morning.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Sixty minute methods
Until a few years ago, checking for gun powder residue rarely occurred, because the technology simply wasn't there. Investigating officers (IO's, from hereon) would do their job, quite well I might add, and solve the crime the old fashioned way, by detecting, interviewing, interrrogating, and reconstructing exactly what happened. Circumstancial evidence was the key; technology did not exist then, as it does not exist now, which enables us to go back in time and take a digital videocam shot of what happened at the exact moment in time, or in the moments leading up to and occuring after, the crime. Therefore, IO's will put it together, and establish the circumstances surrounding the event. Turning that evidence over, prosecutors would present this evidence to the jury, and the hury would deliberate and come to a conclusion about what happened.
Today, as proven by the Robert Blake verdict, not only have the tables turned, but the defintion of "beyond a reasonable doubt" has been thrown so high in the air that a prosecutor on a big case has to literally pull a confession out of the defendant in order to receive a verdict of guilty, and even in that case, the ability for it to be appealed, citing the thousands and thousands of pages of case law can have the defendant, who survived for a few months as a convict, released as a free man, set back onto the street to not only seek revenge against those who testified against him or her, but to commit even more crimes.
On a theoretical level, that is where the problem lies. It's highly doubtful that anyone would expect for Robert Blake to be seen on a ATM camera pulling a 211, although the burden of proof required for a guilty verdict has many prosecutors waking up with a cold sweat when they realize how much evidence they have to compile in order to make the jury believe the defendant was even at the scene of the named crime, even though two-dozen witnesses can place him there, naming the clothes he was weather, and what kind of cigarette he was smoking. Staff writers for the Los Angeles Times, Andrew Blankstein and Jean Guccione, cite this exact point in their review of the Blake verdict.
Across the country, prosecutors say juries are demanding more from them. In the Blake case, jurors said Thursday that they wanted more-convincing evidence, such as conclusive gunshot residue on Blake's hands, or a fingerprint on the murder weapon, or more precision from casual eyewitnesses about Blake's actions around the time Bakley was shot to death in a parked car in Studio City.
"There is no doubt that there's increasing expectation by jurors of [the evidence] they're going to see," said Joshua Marquis, an Oregon prosecutor and member of the board of directors of the National District Attorneys Assn. "Prosecutors across the country are very concerned about this."
Marquis found it disturbing that Blake jurors "seemed very dismissive of circumstantial evidence," he said. "Well, guess what? In most cases … you don't have physical evidence."
The cold sweat that prosecutors are feeling at 3:00 AM is a result of that. People fail to realize that 30 years ago, cases were proven on circumstancial evidence alone. The fact that a defendant threw shell casings in the LA River, melted his shotgun into a steaming pile in the local boiler room, burnt the inside of his car to prevent blood traces from being found, or the lack of an on-site camera, should not be a guideline for the jury to automatically acquit someone. The factors of the case, and the events surrounding the event, must be weighed equally in coming to a final decision on a single, or various, counts.
So where does this leave the infamous burden of proof, which is currently sitting on top of a flagpole, planted somewhere on the top of Mount Everest? Hopefully back where it started. The directive of "beyond a reasonable doubt," although meant to be subjective in it's use, does not mean a jury should hold the prosecution to such high standards that the bar is constantly being raised everytime a new piece of evidence is presented, instead, it should mean that everything shown to the jury is given weight based on it's significance to the trial.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Turn that frown upside down
- Los Angeles residents are stunningly unhappy with some key indicators of quality of life: Large majorities say traffic congestion on freeways and major roads (74%) and the availability of affordable housing (64%) are big problems in the county today, up markedly from just two years ago (67% traffic, 54%affordable housing).
- Assessments of police protection and the quality of parks, beaches, and recreation facilities have fallen considerably from the ratings given only one year ago. In addition, only one-third of county residents give excellent or good ratings to the condition of streets and roads (32% today, 51% in 2004) and public schools (36% today, 43% in 2004).
- County residents are more likely to believe that the county will be a worse place to live in twenty years (37%) than a better place (24%).
- Only 28% of the likely voters in the city of Los Angeles say that they trust their city government to do what is right just about always or most of the time.
- Crime and gangs remain the top issue concerning county residents (21%), followed by education (17%), and traffic (10%).
- One-third of county residents hope to leave Los Angeles County in the next five years.
ACLU v. DOC & DEA, collectively
America's war on drugs is inflicting deep and disproportionate harm on women _ most of them mothers _ who are filling prisons in ever-rising numbers despite their typically minor roles in drug rings, the American Civil Liberties Union and two other groups contend in a major new report.
The report, "Caught in the Net," is being released Thursday as the focus of a two-day national conference in New York, bringing together criminal justice officials, sentence-reform activists and other experts to consider its package of proposed legislative and policy changes. The report recommends expansion of treatment programs geared toward women, says incarceration should be a last resort, and urges more vigorous efforts to maintain ties between imprisoned mothers and their children.
"Drug convictions have caused the number of women behind bars to explode, leaving in the rubble displaced children and overburdened families," the document says.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
The Chewbacca Defense is a satirical term for any legal strategy that seeks to overwhelm its udience with nonsensical arguments and thus confuse them into failing to take account of the opposing arguments and, ultimately, to reject them. It is thus a kind of logical fallacy, specifically a red herring fallacy and non sequitur similar to argumentum ad nauseam.
The term originated in the animated television series South Park. In its typically hyperbolic style, the show satirized real-life lawyer Johnnie Cochran's closing argument defending O.J. Simpson in his murder trial.
Right now, attorneys across the world who are reading this know exactly what I'm talking about. But, it's not until you read the transcript from an episode of South Park, that you realize there's a name for the madness you've seen displayed.
In the episode, Johnnie Cochran defends a "major record company" against copyright violation charges by regular series character Chef—that the (fictional) song "Stinky Britches" by Alanis Morissette was in fact originally written by Chef, a claim that the story makes obvious to the viewer and is supported by reasonable evidence. In response, Cochran resorts to his "famous" Chewbacca Defense, which he "used during the Simpson trial", according to another South Park character.
Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, Chef's attorney would certainly want you to believe that his client wrote "Stinky Britches" ten years ago. And they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself! But ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider: Ladies and gentlemen this [pointing to a picture of Chewbacca] is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now, think about that. That does not make sense! Why would a Wookiee—an eight foot tall Wookiee—want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense!
But more important, you have to ask yourself, what does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense!
Look at me, I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca. Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense. None of this makes sense!
And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberating and conjugating the Emancipation Proclamation... does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense. If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.
[It is perhaps worth noting parenthetically that in the Star Wars series, Chewbacca (a Wookiee) does not in fact live on Endor. It is also worth noting that Ewoks do not live on Endor itself, but rather on the forest moon thereof.]
That, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is the Chewbacca Defense. One thing I've noticed [in life] is the funniest things are the ones that you can point to and say, "That happened to me yesterday!" The sad part is that no one will believe that some defense attorneys use the Chewbacca Defense on a daily basis. I've seen judges rest their head in their hands, with a look on their face like they're on the verge of tears, because they don't know what to do with the mayhem that is occuring in their courtroom. But, the beautiful part of our justice system is that arguments like that are allowed, and as long as they don't get personal, misstate previous testimony, refer to facts not in evidence, or cross the line into prosecutorial misconduct, they can take it and run.
Dr M K Mani, senior nephrologist at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, has a clearly laid down policy. Once a person is deemed to be brain dead, the relatives are called in and the diagnosis and its implications are clearly explained to them. After confirming that they have understood what has been told, they are asked to decide on the further course of action - donation of organs or stoppage of all treatment. Should they opt for the latter, the legal next-of-kin are requested to put this decision own on the case paper and sign the document. All treatment is now discontinued and the body is handed over to them. If, however, the family chooses to continue care in the intensive care unit till breathing and the action of the heart come to a permanent halt, this is honoured.
A senior consultant in Pune informed delegates attending the annual conference of this Society in that city some time ago that he proceeds along the same lines as Dr Mani but takes the additional step of asking the relatives to switch off the ventilator and stop the intravenous fluids. These are unsatisfactory measures in that they do not have the clear sanction of the law. Mr. Bumble's observation and the law enunciated by U S Air Force Captain Edward A Murphy Jr ('If anything can go wrong, it will.') may yet lead to the prosecution of a doctor by misguided relatives of a brain dead person. We have been assured by senior judges sitting on the bench and senior lawyers practising at the Supreme Court that should such a case be brought before a court, it will, almost certainly, be dismissed. Even so, the dread of seeing one's name in bold headlines - 'Doctor ABC accused of killing patient' - haunts many minds. Courts are heavily burdened and judgements often delayed by years. The appearance of the line - 'Doctor ABC found not guilty of murder' - as a footnote at the bottom of an obscure column years after the event will prove small compensation for the agony suffered by the doctor and his family.
This is an interesting scenario. Essentially, what the doctor(s) are proposing is that family members make the call, and they pull the plug. By doing this, the hospital and the treating physician are removed from any possible legal actions, and the authorization form clearly outlines what will happen. Various parties around the globe are turning this into both a political and religious issue, which is something it should not be unless dictated by the patient and/or victim, but only on religious ground on that case alone. One can see where a party would have a problem with the removal of a feeding tube, as currently being played out in the Terry Schiavo case, as death by starvation could be described as some as a form of torture. But, in order to be torture, the patient would have to be cognitive and feel, or realize, that pain was being inflicted via a lack of food. The argument can then be made that while sensory receptors do register pain, and nerves would send signals to the brain, a lack of function within the cerebral cortex would not allow for registration. But, that goes far beyond the fact. The issue at hand is the legality, and who is flipping the switch. In this case, Dr. Pandya presents a proposal worth looking at, and noteworthy for revisions to take place on existing contracts if it has not been layed-out already. Also, it should be noted that it is the responsibility of various factions in the legal community to take a neutral stance on the matter, unless acting as an advocate for one side of the other, and in that case, that it is made perfectly clear.
Jesse James Hollywood has been returned to Santa Barbara after being tracked to coastal Brazil and arrested. Authorities say he was being supported there by $1,200 a month sent from his parents. Hollywood went on the lam five years ago after being charged with kidnapping and murder in the killing of 15-year-old Nick Markowitz, who was from West Hills in the Valley.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Ringed by 19 officers in a cinderblock jail room, his hands and ankles shackled, the man accused in the crime spree that left an Atlanta judge and three others dead went before a judge Tuesday for the first time since the rampage. Brian Nichols, 33, was informed that authorities plan to charge him with murder.
Nichols looked straight ahead during the five-minute hearing and did not make eye contact with anyone in the room, including the judge. He spoke only once, when Judge Frank Cox asked him if he had any questions.
"Not at this time," he said.
Nichols was held without bail on the rape charge he was on trial for Friday, when he allegedly overpowered a guard at the Fulton County courthouse, stole her gun and started a rampage that terrorized Atlanta and left four people dead.
Monday, March 14, 2005
One of more than 70 illegal immigrants who were trapped in a sweltering, airless tractor-trailer testified against the driver Thursday, describing the thud of falling bodies as people died around him in the darkness.
Asked how long he believed he was in the trailer, Jose Juan Roldan Castro replied, "For me, it was centuries."
Roldan testified Thursday on the third day of the trial of Tyrone Williams, who drove and abandoned the big rig and could face the death penalty if convicted for his role in the deaths of 19 of the immigrants in May 2003.
Roldan, who was smuggled from Mexico, said he listened as others began dying and their bodies fell.
"At that point, I was in bad shape. My head was bursting. I could no longer breathe," Roldan said.
Even though the first death - that of a 5-year-old boy - sent a wave of panic through the group, Roldan said other illegal immigrants who feared being apprehended yelled and hit him as he punched a hole through one of the rear brake lights to create an air hole.
"I told them, 'Don't you understand? We run the risk of losing our lives.' When people realized (that) they began making another hole," Roldan testified, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter.
Roldan, 38, said as the heat became unbearable, he and the other immigrants took off their sweat-drenched clothes and crowded around the punched-out holes so they could breathe.
When prosecutors asked if he wanted to get out of the vehicle, Roldan responded: "Who would want to be inside that truck, inside that hell?"
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Mayor James Hahn is limping toward a May runoff with no clear path to a second term, mostly deserted by his fragile political coalition in one of the nation's most diverse cities.
Hahn squeaked into a rematch against city Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa with a paltry 24 percent of the vote in Tuesday's primary, having squandered his good will with the two constituencies credited with vaulting him into office four years ago: South Los Angeles blacks and the moderate-to-conservative voters in the San Fernando Valley.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
It wasn't uncommon for members of the press to attend high-level informational gatherings organized by the President and his cabinet, as the reporters would actually report, and ask meaningful questions that weren't mean to demonize or demoralize the administration, but to spread the words and information that needed to be conveyed. Opinions were left to the opinion pages, most of which were stuck in the back of the newspaper, written by those who were looking to make a few extra dollars in-between the publishing of their next book in order to make rent for that month.
Journalism, as a whole, has seen the greatest changes out of any industry that comes to mind, as the electronic age has allowed for information to be streamed at the speed of light. At the same time, anyone can publish on the internet, which decreased the validity of information being offered. The Los Angeles Times, which has earned the title of a left-wing attack machine, comes to mind when thinking of outlets that run a high probability of releasing articles that are a mix of fact and opinion. With writers such as Barbara Demick, who complied the pro-North Korea piece, "North Korea, Without the Rancor," give a horrible name to the Times, who stays middle-of-the-road, only to be thrown to the far-left by articles such as that, and agenda-driven journalists such as Demick.
The mixture of fact and opinion is where mainstream journalism has taken a jump off the deep end. One has to wonder how wonderful universities such as Columbia turn out sub-par journalists who believe front page stories should be written from the point of view of having an axe to grind, instead of reporting the facts and allowing the reader to decide for themselves. But at the same time, looking to professors such as the University of Colorado/Boulder's Ward Churchill, who spend more time promoting an anti-American message and siding with Al Qaeda than teaching students, it's easy to see how one might graduate jaded and full of both hate and rage.
This collective set of reasons, as well as the monstrative nature of being able to post anything on the internet and claim it to be factual, has allowed bloggers to emerge as the sole fact-finders in a world ruled by opinion and feeling, disguised as truth and fact. The bloggers of today are an ode to the journalists of yester-year, in which the paycheck, nor the fame, were the deciding factors, but the search for truth, and the desire to report actual events take presedence over anything else. In the same way that John Peter Zenger had to fight for his rights to report what he saw, using the New York Gazette as his outlet in 1735, bloggers face a challenge today as not being covered by the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of the press, as well as the guarantee that journalists will be able to hold their sources confidential. On March 3rd, a California judge passed down a decision that made heads spin in both the legal world, and the news media world.
A California judge issued a preliminary ruling on Mar. 3 that three bloggers who published leaked information about an unreleased Apple (NasdaqNM:AAPL - News) product must divulge their confidential sources. If the ruling holds, it will set a precedent certain to reverberate through the blogosphere because this means under the law bloggers aren't considered journalists.While this ruling still has the ability to be overturned, and a written opinion has not been passed down, decisions such as this one make it painfully apparent that bloggers, as a whole, are not viewed by key decision makers as real journalists, despite the fact that they have been the breaking point for a majority of the news stories for the past 24 months, and acted as both campaign promotional tools as well as daily commentary for the presidential campaigns of 2004. That's not to say that it cannot be changed, and considering the fact that most newspapers get more viewers on their websites, and not from printed deliveries, it's not hard to run a parallel and see that blogs provide the exact same service, and that any blogger can review and report on a Reuters or AP Wire story just as well as the New York Times.
This leaves us with the notion that if blogs are to be taken seriously, the blogging community has to establish an unwritten set of rules to distinguish the serious blogs that report news, from the personal blogs that allow 11th graders to talk about their day in school. While newspapers worldwide are printed on gray paper, or fold into quarters on shiny UV-coated paper like The Weekly Standard and the Los Angeles Business Journal, blogs are designed based on the mood and feelings of the writer. But at the same time, bloggers around the world, regardless of political views, favorite sports teams, language, or monetary resources, will have to band together to promote the positive use of blogs as legitimate news sources instead of online hit pieces.
Once bloggers, and the blogs themselves, are recognized as more than guys in PJ's getting lucky by turning out news stories before the mainstream outlets, and it's realized that they are the electronic version of reporters in the field submitting wire stories, the second generation of journalism will finally show their forefathers who's boss.
Friday, March 11, 2005
You can't win
A slow-speed police pursuit escalated into a furious gun battle before dawn Thursday, rattling a South Los Angeles neighborhood as police fired more than 100 rounds, killing one suspect and wounding another who had fired first, authorities said.
In the shootout, 16 to 18 officers fired weapons in a 40-minute, 35-block-long chase that ended in a volley of gunfire after the fleeing vehicle plowed into a fence in a supermarket parking lot at the
northwest corner of Vermont and Vernon avenues.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Face to face
Michael Jackson's young accuser came face-to-face with the singer for the first time since leaving the Neverland Ranch two years ago and described watching sexually explicit images with the singer in his bedroom.
The 15-year-old was not asked about the molestation allegations before court ended Wednesday, but testified about seeing adult Internet sites with Jackson and others after the singer suggested he and his brother sleep in his room on their first visit to Neverland in 2000.
With an expression that appeared to verge on a sneer, the young cancer survivor said yes when District Attorney Tom Sneddon asked him if he recognized the defendant.
As I've said many times before, this entire trial hinges on whether or not the jury likes this kid or not. From what I gather, and from the scuttlebutt around the legal circuit, this kid could put a smile on the face of Kim Jong Il by simply beind himself, and that's he's rather upbeat and open to answer questions. But, as we all know, the whole thing can go up in smoke if there's one, single, solitary lie told while he's on the stand. Jackson's defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., is as good as it gets, and he'll pick up on that in two seconds flat and turn the trial around before we know it.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I've looked through a number of articles, but Kevin Roderick grabbed the LMU poll from who knows where --- most likely a wire service or one of the other hundred streams he's fortunate enough to receive --- has the most accurate opinion poll, while the LA City Clerk has the exact numbers for our viewing pleasure. Los Angeles will have a new mayor, as Antonio Villaraigosa pulled in about 33% of the vote, leaving him to go head-to-head with Mayor Jim Hahn, the incumbent, and my pick for the guy to beat, who pulled in 19% of the vote. Now, the preliminary race was to break it down to the two finalists, who will go head to head a few weeks from now in a final run-off to decide who gets the cushy seat on the top of City Hall. Villaraigosa, who ran as the ultra pro-law enforcement, anti-corruption, anti-pollution, anti-ghetto schools candidate pulled forward from his defeat in 2001, when he saw the title of mayor float downstream as Mayor Jim Hahn walked into office. This time around, as more and more voters decided they wanted to give the new flavor a shot, Villaraigosa pulled a 14-point lead in the primaries, something I haven't seen since the Riordan days.
Stay tuned for the final results. As a note to both Mayor Hahn and the Villaraigosa campaign team, make sure to send me updated press info ASAP, with comments on the results from this poll. Also, I would really enjoy an interview with both Hertzberg and Moore, so feel free to drop me a note.
Sharon Tay v. Cher Calvin
Frankly, I don't really care about the pictures on the website. None of them involved nudity, and some of the covers of those magazines that line the checkout counters at the supermarket show more skin. But, I know where Tribune is coming from when they're throwing fits in the boardroom because of these personal websites with photo galleries that get more webhits on a daily basis than I get in one month. First of all, both Sharon Tay and Cher Calvin are really pretty women, there's no doubt about that. But, as news anchors, they have a responsibility to the network airwaves to remain modest to keep the shareholders happy, or to at least watch their actions to prevent another FCC/Janet Jackson debacle from happening. While the shareholder debate is an easy one to understand --- as keeping money coming into the company is the numbe one priority --- the last thing they need is to break one of the FCC's rules:
The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community broadcast standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities." Indecent programming contains
patently offensive sexual or excretory references that do not rise to the level of obscenity. Indecent programming may, however, be restricted in order to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.
Consistent with a federal statute and federal court decisions interpreting the indecency statute, the Commission adopted a rule pursuant to which broadcasts -- both on television and radio -- that fit within the indecency definition and that are aired between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. are subject to indecency enforcement action.
LA Observed brings up some very important points about the anchorwomen, and how talent still cannot be trumped by good looks.
FDA on the take
The Food and Drug Administration on February 16-18, 2005 held an advisory committee meeting to discuss the cardiovascular risk posed by painkillers known as Cox-2 inhibitors, which include Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx. The former two drugs are manufactured by Pfizer. The latter is manufactured by Merck. Novartis also has a Cox-2 inhibitor in its pipeline. At the end of the hearing, the FDA advisory panel voted to keep all three on the market, though with heightened warnings about the dangers posed by this class of drugs.
At the request of the New York Times, the Center for Science in the Public Interest evaluated the 32 scientific experts chosen by the FDA to evaluate these drugs. The CSPI research uncovered affiliations between 10 of the scientists that served on the committee and the three manufacturers of Cox-2 inhibitors. This would appear to be a direct violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which prohibits scientists with direct conflicts of interest from serving on panels offering advise to federal regulatory agencies. Another 17 scientists had other ties to drug manufacturers, though not the three with products under consideration at the meeting.
According to a New York Times analysis of the votes, the advisory committee would have voted against Bextra and Vioxx staying on the market had scientists with conflicts of interest been excluded from the vote.
Here is the CSPI analysis of the FDA Advisory Panel:
CSPI found ten (10) physician/researchers with direct ties to Pfizer, Merck or Novartis (including G.D. Searle and Pharmacia, which are now part of Pfizer). They were:
Steven Abramson, M.D., Professor and Chairman, Division of Rheumatology, NYU School of Medicine, New York. Has an interest in Merck. (“Food and Drug Administration Center for Drug Evaluation and Research,” Congressional Hearing Transcripts, 7/20/99) Received speaker's honoraria or consulting fees from Pfizer, Amgen, Novartis, and Pharmacia. Consultant for Searle, and a member of the Speakers Bureau for Pfizer. Received an unrestricted educational grant from Pharmacia.
Joan M. Bathon, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University. Received consultancies and/or honoraria from Centocor, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, totaling less than $10,000 per year. (Arthritis Rheum. 2004;50:3432-43.) Received ad hoc consultant fees and support for this research from Immunex. (Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Jun;46(6):1443-50.) Received support for research on etanercept and methotrexate in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis from Immunex, Inc. (N Engl J Med. 2000 Nov 30;343(22):1586-93.) Consultant for: National Advisory Board CTLA4-IG Project, Bristol Myers Squibb, 2000; International Advisory Board, Anti-TNF Project, Centocor, 2000; National Advisory Board, Anti-TNF Project, Knoll Pharmaceuticals, 2000; National Advisory Board, Anti-TNF Project, Immunex and Wyeth, 1998-99; National Advisory Board, Cox-2 Project, Searle, 1998-2000; Consultant, Bradykinin receptor antagonist project, Fournier Pharmaceuticals, 1996; Consultant, Anti-inflammatory initiative, Procter & Gamble.
John J. Cush, M.D., Chief of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas, TX. Article on concomitant leflunomide therapy in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis despite stable doses of methotrexate listed potential conflicts of interest due to consultancies, honoraria and grants received. (Ann Intern Med. 2002 Nov 5;137(9):726-33.) Consultant: Abbott, Amgen, Wyeth, Centocor, Pfizer, Regeneron; Disclosure: Current Investigator: Abbott, Amgen, Biogen Idec, Pfizer. (J Rheumatol. 2005 Feb;32(2):203-7.) ) Received grants from Abbott, Amgen/Weiss, Aventis, Centocor, IDEC/Genentech, Isis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Cush is a member of The Cadeuceus Group, LLC.
Robert H. Dworkin, Ph.D., Professor of Anesthesiology, Neurology, Oncology and Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, NY. Member of the Steering Committee of the Pfizer Medical and Academic Partnerships in Pain Medicine. Received research support, consulting fees, or speakers bureau honoraria in the past year from Abbott Laboratories, Allergan, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Elan Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly and Co, Endo Pharmaceuticals, King Pharmaceuticals, Johnson and Johnson, NeurogesX, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Pfizer, Purdue Pharma, Quigley Pharma, Reliant Pharmaceuticals, and UCB Pharma.
John T. Farrar, M.D., Senior Scholar, University of Pennsylvania, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Philadelphia. Received research or grant support from Pfizer, Cephalon, Smithkline Beecham, Knoll, and Searle; served as a consultant for Abbott Laboratories, Alza, Endo Pharmaceuticals, UCB Pharma, and Faulding; and served on the speakers bureau of Purdue Frederick.
J. Michael Finley, D.O., Associate Professor and Chair of Medicine, Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Received funding for the Zometa Trial from Novartis Pharmaceuticals in 2000.
Allan Gibofsky, M.D., J.D., Professor of Medicine and Public Health, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York, NY. Independent advisor to Amgen and Wyeth trial to evaluate the impact of a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the United States (RADIUS study). (2002 Drug Week via NewsRx.com and NewsRx.net , Drug Week, November 29) Clinical trial comparing the efficacy of cyclooxygenase 2-specific inhibitors in treating osteoarthritis supported by Pharmacia (Arthritis Rheum. 2003 Nov;48(11):3102-11.) On the Speaker’s Bureau for Abbott, Amgen/Wyeth, Pfizer and TAP Pharmaceuticals. Consultant to Abbott, Amgen/Wyeth and Pfizer. Stockholder: Abbott, Amgen, Bristol Myers-Squibb and Pfizer. Dr. Gibofsky is a member of The Cadeuceus Group, LLC.
Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Visiting Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Miami, Boca Raton, FL. Coinventor on a patent application filed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital on the use of markers of inflammation in coronary artery disease. (N Engl J Med. 2000; 342:836-43) Consultant for AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi, Novartis, Pfizer, and Reliant. Co-author of Pfizer funded study, “Absence of Interaction Between Atorvastatin or Other Statins and Clopidogrel.” (Arch Int Med. 2004; 164: 2051-7) Serves as a consultant, including Chair or membership on Data and Safety Monitoring Boards, to AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chattem, Delaco, Glaxo-Smith Kline, McNeil, Novartis, Pfizer, and Reliant. (Circulation. 2003;108(10):1191-5)
Steven E. Nissen, M.D., Vice-chairman of Cardiology, and Head of Clinical Cardiology, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH. Research on lipid-lowering therapy on progression of coronary atherosclerosis through the use of statins Pravachol (pravastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) funded by Pfizer. Research support from AstraZeneca, Merck-Schering Plough, Esperion Therapeutics, Takeda, Pfizer, and Sankyo. (JAMA. 2004;291:1071-80)
Richard Platt, M.D., M.Sc., Professor and Chair, Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Primary investigator in 9/1/04-8/31/05 project funded by Pfizer on enhanced identification of adverse drug events. Primary investigator in 9/1/04-8/31/05 project funded by TAP Pharmaceuticals on Gout Pharmacoepidemiology. Co-investigator of 01/01/03-12/31/05 study funded by GlaxoSmithKline on Safety and Utilization of Lotronex in the United States.
In addition, CSPI found seventeen (17) physician/researchers who received research support or had other financial ties to pharmaceutical firms (but not direct ties to manufacturers of Cox-2 inhibitors). In three cases, the ties were to Merck or Pfizer but were deemed too old to be relevant. They were:
Ralph B. D’Agostino, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics/Statistics and Public Health, Boston University, MA. On the scientific advisory board of Gentium S.p.A. On scientific advisory board of Penwest. (“Penwest Appoints Pharmaceutical Industry Leaders Dr. William M. Wardell And Dr. Ralph B. D'Agostino to Scientific Advisory Board,” PR NewsWire, 6/8/01) Has interests in pharmaceutical companies which necessitate his being granted a full waiver in order to participate in a Food and Drug Administration Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee meeting regarding OTC Vaginal Antifungal Class Labeling. (“Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Subcommittee with Industry Representation from the Reproductive Health Drugs and Anti-Infective Drugs Advisory Committee,” Congressional Hearing Transcripts, 9/11/98)
Michael R. Cohen, R.Ph., M.S., D. Sc., President, Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Huntington Valley, PA. Consultant and advisory board member for Merck (1988-1992).
Stephanie Y. Crawford, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois, Chicago. Research on cost effectiveness of HMG-CoA reductase inihibitors in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia sponsored by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals (1995-1997).
Ruth S. Day, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Duke University, Durham, NC. Research on optimizing patient comprehension through medicine information leaflets sponsored by U.S. Pharmacopeia, Inc., Glaxo, and on auto injectors for drug delivery to Dey, Inc.
Janet Elashoff, Ph.D., Director, Division of Biostatistics, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA. Has interests in pharmaceutical companies which necessitate her being granted a general matters waiver in order to participate in a Food and Drug Administration Anti-Infective Drugs Advisory Committee meeting regarding the ranking of antimicrobial drugs according to their importance in human medicine.
Thomas Fleming, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle. 17 Receives between $10,000 and $50,001 in consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline and receives less than $10,001 per year from each of four of its competitors. Fleming received a consulting fee for a limited consultation with Boehringer-Ingelheim. (Circulation. 2004;109:e9004-5) Served on oncology Clinical Advisory Board for Sunesis. (“Sunesis Begins Phase I Clinical Study of SNS-595 for Cancer; Prestigious Oncology Clinical Advisory Board Established,” PR Newswire, 6/28/04) Speaker on IntraBiotics’ live web cast featuring a panel of experts to discuss iseganan for the treatment of oral mucositis. (“IntraBiotics to Host a Conference Call and Web Cast with a Panel of Experts,” PR NewsWire, 3/18/02)
Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., In 2002 to 2003, his services were retained by plaintiffs’ attorneys as expert in cases related to cerivastatin and rhabdomyolysis or myopathy. In that capacity, he was compensated for reviewing this issue and providing expert opinions for use in litigation. Plaintiffs’ attorneys reviewed and commented on written expert reports resulting from this work. These expert reports were disclosed to the defendants in the cases, including Bayer Corporation, and the author has been questioned in deposition regarding the reports. (JAMA. 2004 Dec 1;292(21):2622-31. Epub 2004 Nov 22) Wake Forest University. A “member of a paid panel asked by Wyeth-Ayerst to ensure the validity of the firm’s research” re diet drug Redux (USA Today, 4/1/98, p. 1A) Co-author of a study of a Sandias calcium channel blocker, DynaCirc. (Lingua Franca, June/July, 1997; p. 56) Chair (1992-present), Investigators Committee of the Heart, Estrogen-Progestin Replacement Study, Wyeth; Co-chair (1992-1999), Steering Committee of Prospective Randomized Evaluation of the Vascular Effects of Norvasc Trials, Pfizer; Chair (1992-present), Prospective Pravastatin Pooling Project, Bristol Myers Squibb.
Jacqueline S. Gardner, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Received support from Glaxo for a comparative study of prescription and medical service utilization patterns among pediatric asthmatics in Medicaid and HMO’s (1993-1994); research supported by Solvay Pharmaceuticals and The Upjohn Company.
Peter A. Gross, M.D., Chairman, Department of Internal Medicine, Hackensack, NJ. Received grants from Wyeth (1994-1995, 2000), Abbott (1995).
Gary Stuart Hoffman, M.D., Chairman, Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, OH. Studies evaluating anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapies in Wegener's granulomatosis and giant cell arteritis, were partially funded by Centocor, Immunex, and Amgen. (Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Jul;50(7):2296-304.)
Norman T. Ilowite, M.D., Director, Division of Rheumatology, Schneider Children’s Hospital, New Hyde Park, NY. Industry sponsored on-going research: A 12 week randomized double blind trial with a 12 week open label extension to investigate the efficacy and safety of novel agent administered once daily and naproxen oral suspension administered twice daily in children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (2001-2003); Safety population pharmacokinetics of a novel agent in the treatment of JRA (1997-2003); Randomized multi center, blinded, placebo-controlled study with an open label run in period to evaluate the efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of a novel agent in particular course JRA (2000-02); Companion study to evaluate the long term safety of a novel agent in polyarticular course JRA (200-02); Phase IV registry of a novel agent in JRA(2000-05); Phase III, double-blind, randomized study comparing methotrexate plus novel agent vs. methotrexate alone in polyarticular course JRA (2000-02). Completed industry sponsored research: Pharmokinetics, safety and efficacy of TNFR:Fc in the treatment of methotrexate resistant polyarticular JRA (1996-1999); Open, oral dose study to evaluate the steady state plasma concentration profile of a novel agent, followed by a 12 week, double-blind, active comparator-controlled extension in late and post-pubertal adolescents with JRA (1999-2001); Open label study of a NSAID in patients with JRA (1999-2000).
Susan M. Manzi, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh. An open label, multi-center study (1997-2001) to evaluate the long term safety and reliability of GL701 in patients with systemic Lupus erythomatosus sponsored by Genelabs Technologies, Inc. Received grants from LaJolla Pharmaceuticals (2000-2001). Biogen, Inc. (1998-2000), Dupont (1998), Merck (1998) .
Louis A. Morris, Ph.D., President, Louis A. Morris & Associates, Dix Hills, NY. He has Served as an expert consultant to numerous pharmaceutical and communication companies.
Emil Paganini, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.R.C.P., Section Head, Dialysis, Cleveland, OH. Co-inventor of 05/13/03 US Patent 6,561,997 “Extracorporeal fluid circuit and related methods” assigned to The Regents of the University of Michigan and Nephros Therapeutics.
Steven L. Shafer, M.D., Professor of Anesthesia, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. Vice President of Product Development at the Pharsight Corporation. Owns 1.3 percent of the company’s stocks. Study partially funded by AstraZeneca on “Propofol Dosing Regimens for ICU Sedation based upon an Integrated Pharmacokinetic-Pharmacodynamic Model.” (Anesthesiology. 2001;95:324-33)
Robyn S. Shapiro, J.D., Ursula Von der Ruhr Professor of Bioethics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Speaker at a Medical Education Symposium Sponsored by PointOne Systems. (“National Leaders Will Share Expertise in Genetics and Application of Genetic Knowledge in Clinical Practice at Daylong Event, 'Clinical Application of Genomic Discovery,'” PR NewsWires, 3/4/03) Served on Glaxo/Wellcome Data and Safety Monitoring Board. Speaker at 5/12/99 Ethics Conference sponsored by SSM Ministry Corporation, "Ethical Issues in Health Care: End-of-Life Issues."
Alastair Wood, M.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN. Co-inventor of 12/11/01 U.S. patent 6,329,153 “Method for evaluating immunosuppressive” assigned to Vanderbilt University. Served on Board of Directors of Antigenics. (“Antigenics Reports Third Quarter 2004 Financial Results and Recent Highlights.” Business Wire. 10/19/04)
Simply amazing. One thing is for sure --- when people are willing to put money or ties over the health of the public, especially when protecting the health of the people is their job, criminal charges are justified.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
5 1/2 on ID theft
A Nigerian national who used personal information from ChoicePoint Inc. and other companies to commit identity theft against thousands of people was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in federal prison.
Besides his term, Adedayo Benson, 38, was ordered Monday to pay nearly $155,000 in restitution to 10 financial institutions.
Authorities said Benson opened "mail drops" to which he redirected mail from victims' credit card companies, then used the cards to make fraudulent purchases and get cash advances.
His sister, Bibiana Benson obtained the information by opening accounts with several public records database firms, including ChoicePoint Services, Advantage Financial and Equifax, while posing as a real estate agent.
Adedayo Benson pleaded guilty to charges related to fraudulently obtained credit cards. Bibiana Benson was sentenced to 4 1/2 years after pleading guilty to unlawful use of identification.
ChoicePoint last month publicly announced a different security breach involving scammers who posed as small business customers to access sensitive data for identity theft.
We have to pull RAP sheets on a daily basis, and the RAP alone tells me everything I need to know about your criminal history, your drivers license number, and even your social security number. But, if you don't work in law enforcement, chances are you'll have to take alternate routes to gain access to personal information, all of which is readily available if you're willing to sit down and create the accounts that are needed to grab it. As stated, this guy setup accounts with private companies such as ChoicePoint and Equifax, all of which collect your information and resell it to various companies. Now, the argument can be made that companies such as ChoicePoint and Equifax aren't the safest things in the world, as anyone who wants to spend a few months to pass a real estate exam can simply register to acquire the information, but it's a little thicker than that. The best way to stay off the radar is to protect yourself, and do your best to make sure that your private information isn't tagged. Here's the definition of identify theft:
Identity theft laws in most states make it a crime to misuse another person's identifying information -- whether personal or financial. Such data (including social security numbers, credit history, and PIN numbers) is often acquired through 1) the offender's unlawful access to information from government and financial entities, or 2) lost or stolen mail, wallets and purses, identification, and credit or debit cards.
I highly recommend looking through Federal Code Section 1028: Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents and information.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
5 million ways
Little more than three years after US forces, backed by their faithful British allies, set foot in Afghanistan, the entire historical dynamic of this blighted region has already shifted.
Ignoring, fortunately, the assault from clever world opinion on America’s motives, its credibility and its ambitions, the Bush Administration set out not only to eliminate immediate threats but also to remake the Middle East. In the last month, the pace of progress has accelerated, and from Beirut to Kabul.