Archive for the ‘Legal Issues’ Category

I am.  I’m a law-abiding Michigander.  But I’ll tell you this:

If the Michigan police think that if I am stopped that they can download data off my cellphone they are going to have to arrest me.  AFTER I take my SIM card and destroy it.  There is no F*CKING WAY they get to intrude on my privacy like this.  No way.

The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.

ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.

I will endure arrest on principle.  I will be respectful to the officer, as much as I can and still refuse to comply with his “orders”, but I will NOT hand over my personal information to anyone under duress.

A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

“Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags,” a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device’s capabilities. “The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps.”

The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

“With certain exceptions that do not apply here, a search cannot occur without a warrant in which a judicial officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that the search will yield evidence of criminal activity,” Fancher wrote. “A device that allows immediate, surreptitious intrusion into private data creates enormous risks that troopers will ignore these requirements to the detriment of the constitutional rights of persons whose cell phones are searched.”

Many thanks to The Butcher of Lansing for this link.


Now, do NOT think that this next graphic (not mine) and the previous section above are related in any way.  They aren’t.  But Llamas with Hats make me laugh and damnit, I could use a laugh.  Family health issues with my sister have made this kind of a dark week.

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Deputy Sheriff said to me
Tell me what you come here for, boy.
You better get your bags and flee.
You’re in trouble boy,
And now you’re heading into more.

– Simon and Garfunkel – Keep the Customer Satisfied

Except I wasn’t told to flee.  All of the rest?  Oh yes.

It all started a long long time ago in a Tennessee county far far away…

I had just spent a month on a business trip to a town in the south where we were taking data.  We packed up the last of our equipment and instruments and closed the door on the truck.  I slammed the enormous lock home and spun the dial the requisite three complete turns.

Our wheezing and sweaty boss said “You can stay at a hotel overnight and take off in the morning if you like.”

To myself and technician “Annoying Man™” the very thought of spending one more depressing evening in  a hotel had the same appeal as having your fingernails pulled out one by one.  We quickly assured the boss that we felt “100% better, energized, and ready to hit the road.  Sir.”

So we drove out of there as if the gates of Hell itself had been breached and the the demon hordes were pouring out in pursuit of our very souls.

Thus started what should have been an twelve hour trip back to Michigan.  Annoying Man™ took the first shift.

We got through Nashville, Tennessee, and were making good time.  Just before the border to Kentucky, Annoying Man™ saw a weigh station and then he had a thought that should never have been thought:  “Hey, I’m going to pull in and see how much we weigh on the scales.”

I immediately said “Nah, Annoying Man™, let’s just go on.  I want to go home and see my wife.”

“Nah,” said Annoying Man™, dismissing my , “It’ll only take a second.”

More ridiculous words have not been uttered since Custer’s pronouncement “Indians?  I don’t see any indians.”

“Oh, all right Annoying Man™, go ahead,” I sighed resignedly.

And pull in and stop on the scales we did.  The truck stopped on the scales and the scales settled in with a sigh.

Our weight flashed in at 11,300lbs.

“Ok, you can go…” said The Voice.  The Voice was behind some very dark glass which was rendered even more impenetrable by the waning sun – dusk was settling in with that ponderous and implacable chill that is so common in mid-October.

Annoying Man™ accelerated gently and we had moved about eight feet when The Voice said quickly “Wait.  Pull around back.”

I knew that tone of voice.  There is a particular timbre to a voice that will brook no argument.  It is the sound of a voice that does not feel pity, fear, or remorse.  That was the sound of my doom approaching.  The spectre in the shadows.  The whisper of dark wings in the night.

So we pulled around back.

I said to Annoying Man™:  “You ******* idiot!  You complete ******* moron, what the **** did you think you were ******* doing?  I told you NOT to ******* pull in, and WHAT did you do?  YOU HAD TO GO AND ******* PULL INTO THE ************* WEIGH STATION TO GET OUR ******* ******* WEIGHT ON A VEHICLE THAT DIDN’T  ******* HAVE TO ******** BE WEIGHED, YOU COMPLETE AND UTTER ******** MORON!”

Yes, I did say that, and worse, much worse.  It was not my finest hour and it CERTAINLY wasn’t the pinnacle of Annoying Man’s™ intellectual career, either.  I was exhausted, hungry, homesick, and irritable.  Imagine that please… I was irritable.

Out walked Buford T. Justice.  I swear to you it was HIM, only a bit taller.

We slid out of the small rental truck and got down.  I had lived this nightmare before and was dreading what was coming.

“Hello, boys” growled Sheriff Buford T. Justice.

“Hi Sheriff!” said  Annoying Man™.   I said nothing, feeling that once again discretion was the better part of valor and that if I opened my mouth I was likely to be in a world of trouble.

“What you boys carryin’?” asked Sheriff Buford T. Justice in his delightfully southern drawl.

“Data collection instruments for [redacted], Sheriff.”

The Sheriff sighed as if this were the last thing he needed to hear at the end of his strenuous day when he was responsible for so very much.   “Boys, I’m going to need to look through your VEE-hicle.”

I should note here that Annoying Man™ was in his early sixties and I was approximately 28 at the time.  The good Sheriff could not have been more than 45.  But, being the (relative) south, I guess lots of people are “boys” and “hon” and “son” and so on and so forth.  Anyway, for the duration we were “Boys.”

Sheriff Buford T. Justice asked if I would kindly open the driver’s side door and I complied.  He stopped just before looking inside the VEE-hicle and said “Boys, I need to know if you are carryin’ and kind of contraband – moonshine, cigarettes, marijuana, drugs – anything like that.”

“No Sir, Sheriff,” we said, “Nothing like that – just equipment.”

The good Sheriff sighed his world-weary sigh again, as if he couldn’t believe two stupider fools had been placed on this earth by God himself.

“Boys… ” he continued, “If I have to get dogs down here and they smell anything on this truck it and everything in it will become the property of the State of Tennessee, and you two will be spending time in our jail until we can get this straightened out.”

Seriously.  I swear this is what Sheriff Buford T. Justice said.   Somewhere, I heard a banjo strike up some chords in imitation of ‘Deliverance’.  Perhaps it was my fertile imagination, which was in overdrive.  I had heard things about the jails in these parts.  Things that involved images of a big mentally-challenged sweaty 360lb guy named Bubba who cries himself to sleep every night and needs a “teddy bear” who happens to be whoever his current cellmate is.

We denied any wrongdoing again and again we were given the Sheriff’s world-weary sigh which now sounded even wearier.

He rooted around on the floor of the driver’s side and came up with something between his thumb and forefinger and said with a sigh “Boysssss… this here is a marijuana seed.”

Now.  I could see very well that it was NOT a marijuana seed but in this sort of situation to tell the good Sheriff that it was NOT in fact a seed from the Cannabis sativa plant would be to invite a certain and swift demise.  Since I was not a total fool, I elected to remain silent.

“I need you to open the back of the truck,” drawled Sheriff Buford T. Justice.

I led him around to the back and pointed out the [redacted]-issue combination lock on the truck, very clearly stressing that this was government equipment.   He did not respond or reply other than to say “Open it up.”

I dialed the lock open and lifted the door.  We were greeted to stacks and stacks of large grey crates commonly used in our line of work.  All of them were labeled with big scientific words commonly associated with high-end research instruments – NOT labeled with things like “moonshine”, “contraband”, “cigarettes”, “marijuana”, etc.

He pointed at Annoying Man’s™ suitcase and said “Whose suitcase is this?”  Annoying Man™ claimed his property.

The Sheriff then pointed to my suitcase and said “Open ‘er up.”  I walked over and laid my suitcase out for his inspection.

Now, to this day I am not sure if he was just begging for me to cold-cock him from behind or if the good Sheriff Buford T. Justice actually was a mental cull, but he had his back to me as he rifled through my stuff.  I noted that within myself there was a certain darkness that was a terrible storm growing out of control and it was telling me “Just hit the ******, and lay him out flat.”

I realized that I was at a dangerous crossroads and walked about ten steps away and took many deep breaths.  From behind me I heard the Sheriff say “What’s this?”

I turned around to see that he had opened up my bottle of Tylenol PM™ and was holding some in his hand.  I said in a rather caustic voice (my fluffy-puppy voice seemed to have fled for the day) “Just what it says on the bottle.  SIR.”

Then, and I SHIT YOU NOT… he tried to unscrew the bottom off of my shaving cream.  For cryin’ out loud.  Did I really look so stupid as to use such an old hiding place?  I must have looked that stupid, and I don’t suppose it was too much of a stretch considering that Annoying Man™ had driven an over-GVW VEE-hicle onto Sheriff Buford T. Justice’s personal scales.

The Sheriff’s beady little rat eyes (he had finally taken off his Dirty Harry glasses now that it was completely dark) bored into my soul, or at least he thought they did.  He didn’t actually get to bore that deep because if he had he would have seen that I was kind of red-lining it right about then and that black malevolence dwelt there.

At some point he broke eye contact and he said “Well, I guess you boys are clean, but we ain’t done yet.  Come on inside, we have things to go over.”

We went inside where Sheriff Buford T. Justice proceeded to write Annoying Man™ roughly $550 worth of tickets because we didn’t have CDL’s, we didn’t have medical checkup papers, and because we didn’t have logbooks.  And oh yes, we could not forget the fact that we were over GVW by about 800lbs.

“Now, boys, I want you to do the following,” he said, looking at me, “I want you to drive because Annoying Man™ here is done for the day.   I want you to drive about ten miles down the road and stop off for the night.  I’ll be checking on you.  I want you to go into the gas station there and buy some logbooks and then stay in the hotel for the night.”

“Yes, SIR.” I said.  And we walked out of there, with me never once looking back.  Apparently Annoying Man™ didn’t either because he did not turn into a pillar of salt.

I started the truck and Annoying Man™ said “Lemur… I admit I might have made a mistake there… I feel really bad about…”

I then had many many things to say to Annoying Man™ – awful things that cannot bear repeating – as I drove down the road, leaving Sheriff Buford T. Justice at our backs, but certainly not out of our minds.

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Rep. Fagan is already taking heat. I understand why. People read what he said and assume that he is taking the stance that he is going to relish victimizing further young rape victims on the stand. He certainly sounds gung-ho about it, but it warrants further investigation.

I think I understand what this trial lawyer was trying to say (he’s a representative) but perhaps he could have used gentler wording. Maybe not… maybe he needed to be strident to get the point across to people the fact that the Law of Unintended Consequences holds sway here, too. No matter which it is, this is hard reading. Unless I’m totally misinterpreting, he says that by going to mandatory sentences, he’s going to have to be brutal to the brutalized in order to protect his client’s rights to fair trial and ensure that no innocent person goes to jail. He’s cut to the bottom line and illustrated what is going to be the end result of this process.

“I’m gonna rip them apart,” Fagan said of young victims. “I’m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.” – Rep. James Fagan, who is a defense attorney

I’d like to think that “no innocent person goes to jails” was the goal all along.

Anyway, the father (Jessisca’s father) was interviewed:

Mark Lunsford, whose 9-year-old daughter was abducted and buried alive in a trash bag by a sex offender in 2005, told the Boston Herald on Tuesday that Fagan should take the rights of victimized children seriously.

I think Fagan was taking the rights of victimized children seriously. If you look at the context of the big picture, you have to keep in mind that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty – this means that the lawyer has every right and indeed a duty to fight as hard as he can against the charges. If proof does exist, well, it should come out. If there is any doubt, then our courts are set up to default to innocence. That’s the way it works. And, I must add, it is very very hard to remember that at times.

So here’s Fagan saying “This will be the unintended result of this kind of ruling, and it will be horrible, because the stakes are now suddenly so much higher.”

I have no complaint with what the father is feeling – frustrated. But he’s not seeing the big picture.

“Why doesn’t he figure out a way to defend that child and put these kind of people away instead of trying to figure ways for defense attorneys to get around Jessica’s Law?” Lunsford told the paper. “These are very serious crimes that nobody wants to take serious. What about the rights of these children?”

Again, he is making the assumption that just because you are in the defendant’s chair you are automatically the perpetrator, which isn’t how it works, nor is it true all of the time. Sure, find some way to close loopholes that allow obviously guilty perps from walking away free, but the fact remains, that the accused MUST be given fair representation, which is not necessarily “get(ting) around Jessica’s Law”.

I will chalk it up to his emotion, but I will say this:

EVERYONE takes the rights of these children seriously – sit down, take a breath, and think about what you are saying – high emotions are not a free-pass to plastering everybody with a “doesn’t care” label.

Legal scholars tend to agree that courtrooms are ground-zero for hard truths – which won’t necessarily even be listened to when emotions run high:

But from a legal perspective, law professor Phyllis Goldfarb said Fagan was probably expressing a basic courtroom truth – that it is a defense attorney’s job to test the prosecution’s case, especially when mandatory penalties are on the line.

“It is fundamentally true … if the proof is coming almost exclusively through a child witness you may have to find a way to test it. That’s the attorney-client obligation there,” Goldfarb told FOXNews.com.


But THIS is ok, right?

What gets me is his last sentence which allows the “husband” to do whatever he wants.

“You can have a marriage contract even with a 1-year-old girl, not to mention a girl of 9, 7 or 8,” he said. “But is the girl ready for sex or not?” What is the appropriate age for sex for the first time? This varies according to environment and tradition,” al-Mu’bi said.


At the risk of being burned alive at the stake for heresy, may I just say that I’m thanking God that our savior wasn’t a teletubby? We’d be seeing teletubbies in everything from tapioca to rhubarb crunch to grease spots in driveways to even (oh how silly this gets) to grilled cheese sandwiches.

I get really irritated and weirded out when people start needing to get all mystical “signs and portents” and the like, saying they saw Jesus in everything. And when it is considered news. No one seems to be able to say why they would be chosen to be blessed with such a thing as Jesus showing up in the placental wall of their newborn child. To be fair, no one has explained why they shouldn’t be, either, but I rather doubt it is anything more than wishful mysticism.

Man, if you want proof of a higher power… just look out your door. You don’t need to go seeing Jesus in tea leaves, talcum powder on a baby’s butt, or in rocks in your front yard. The world around you is sufficient.

I know… I’m a party-pooper.

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