More on the College Admissions Scandal

I’m still finding this interesting. This lawyer spells out the legality that pertains to Operation Varsity Blues.


McDonald’s Hot Coffee Suit

For the whole truth on the legendary lawsuit against McDonald’s watch the video above. As with all the Adam Ruins Everything videos’ Adam Conover will see that the scales fall from your eyes and the truth comes to light.

I’m not kidding, you should see this and spread the truth.

Justice Served


Yesterday I had jury duty, and while I know most people loathe the hassle I like the whole idea. I wasn’t thrilled that I had to take a 30 bus ride after getting in to Union Station downtown, but the commute wasn’t too bad.

The journey went smoothly. I got to the courthouse without a problem. Outside the criminal court I saw a group, Courtside Prayer. It’s a new ministry that prays for whomever wants it.

holtAt 9:00 prospective jurors were shown a video, a tad dated as it featured NBC’s Lester Holt with a mustache. It looked like the video was from the 1980s. Afterwards we were told that we’d be bused to a courthouse on Harrison.  When we got there the 32 of us went up to the courtroom and swiftly began jury selection. Throughout the judge was swift and got down to business. He was clear and attentive to procedure and the law.

I was one of the first 14 called up and was put on the jury. I was worried that since this was a criminal case, there might be gruesome graphics, but I trusted that I’d be on a case I could handle and I was. The first group was sent into the jury room to wait for them to choose three more jurors and an alternate. By 12:20 pm the judge was explaining the schedule and process. We then had to return by 1:30 from lunch.

The judge kept things moving along and our case was straightforward. The victim had gone to pick up her mother for a 4th of July party at her house. She had an altercation with her stepfather, who eventually hit her repeatedly. During the confusion, the victim said a man from the barbecue behind the apartment burst into the hallway of the building and stopped the fight. At some point the victim’s mother came out too and yelled, “Stop hitting my daughter!” The police were called and took the victim’s story and tried to find the defendant who’d left the scene.

The judge kept everything going at a brisk pace and all the lawyers seemed new to the profession, but the case was pretty simple and they did fine. (I do think they tried to be more dramatic and verbose than needed.) The state called four witnesses and the defense called one.

By probably 3:40 we had the case for deliberation and after two votes and a thorough discussion, we reached our verdict. Guilty as charged. The jurors were conscientious and a good group to work with. We stuck to the facts and invited dissension. While people didn’t want things to drag out, from what I could tell, no one compromised on their duty to be fair. All earned their $17.20 for the day. One man said that was the rate they paid in 1972, when gas cost .36 a gallon. (Most people drove to the courthouse.)

Considering that the incident occurred less than a month ago, it’s possible to get a speedy trial in this county at least. Perhaps domestic violence cases are sped along as the parties are so closely tied.

On Privacy

I got to attend the ALA session “Don’t Track Me: A Cross-Generational Conversation on Personal Privacy” on Monday.

Law Professor Geoff Stone from Univ. of Chicago led a Socratic discussion with 10 high school students. Stone opened with asking students how they would feel about losing a diary they kept on a iPad. “Would you care?” All said they would; several asserted that they believed they had a right to manage personal information.

Stone asked whether managing one’s personal image, hiding information about failures, mistakes, actions at parties, etc. isn’t presenting a false self. He asked whether it’s illegitimate to present a false self to the community or public. That stumped the panel and, I admit, me. Stone wondered whether presenting a polished self that’s better than others and better than you are is something one has a right to.

Then Stone reminded the audience and panel that the constitution only limits the government, not companies or organizations. The topic then moved to the 4th amendment and the question of what is an unreasonable search. How far does the 4th amendment go? Is collecting phone numbers and data on calls a search? If you have a phone, you agree to give the phone company all this information. Why would you be bothered by the government having it? The students struggled with many of these questions.

Then Stone asked about an instance when you tell a friend something that you want to keep confidential. The friend though shares or broadcasts the information. The students who spoke realized that we risk sharing information when we communicate with individuals. The distinction is that in such instances we have choice. With phone data, we don’t.

Stone moved on to the issue of PRISM. The government could collect no data. It has chosen to (more or less*) secretly collect data. Some have said we should have had a public discussion and agreed to allow the government to collect this data. However, Stone pointed out that the government sees their action as taking the middle ground and is better than doing nothing and possibly losing more rights in the long run should terrorism have flourished. Had the government opened PRISM to public discourse, it would not have been effective as such disclosure would have tipped off possible terrorists.

Stone asked the students why so many of their peers disclose so much in social media. One teen mentioned that she’s an activist, but her parents don’t know. Thus she never grants interviews and she always wears masks to protests. Another student described how careful he is with social media and Stone pointed out that his circumspect behavior was more like a 50 year old than a teen.

Stone offered the idea that perhaps we will just learn to put things in a new perspective. By learning to live with less privacy, we might become more used to having our failings exposed through our own gaffs on social media or government surveillance.

Prof Stone has an article on the Snowden story on the Huffington Post website.

More on Enclosures


What were enclosures?

  1. Enclosure meant joining the strips of the open fields to make larger compact units of land. These units were then fenced or hedged off from the next person’s land. In this way a farmer had land in one farm, rather than in scattered strips. This brought greater independence. Enclosing land was not new; it dated back to at least the Medieval period.
  2. The areas of England affected by the enclosure movement of this period were mainly the counties of the Midlands, East Anglia and Central Southern England.

How was land enclosed?

  • Before about 1740, most villages were enclosed by agreement. This was when the main owners of the land made a private agreement to join their strips together. This may have involved buying some strips from the small farmers to get rid of any possible opposition. Where all the land in a village was owned by one or two people, enclosure by agreement was relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell how much land was enclosed in this way, as little documentation was kept.
  • Where a number of smaller landowners provided determined opposition to enclosure by agreement, an Act of Parliament had to be obtained. This became the accepted procedure after 1750. It had a number of factors in its favor:
    1. Each enclosure had legal documentation and certification
    2. It provided the machinery for opposition to be heard
    3. It allowed the whole of the village to be enclosed at the same time (that is, commons, waste
    4. land, meadows and open fields.) Up to 1750, many villages had been enclosed a little at a time.
  • Between 1750 and 1850 there were approximately 4,000 Enclosure Acts of Parliament.

Why was Parliamentary Enclosure so widespread in the periods 1760-1780 and 1793 to 1815?

  • Between 1760 and 1780, some 900 Enclosure acts were passed. Historians agree that high cereal prices motivated farmers to enclose land in order to produce a greater amount, thereby earning bigger profits. Also, where land was enclosed, landlords could charge tenants higher rents.
  • The years of the French Wars (1793-1815) saw almost 2,000 Enclosure Acts being passed. This can also be explained by high cereal prices, which were the results of a series of poor harvests and the difficulty of importing foreign corn at a time when Europe was involved in a major war. This led to widespread enclosure with even marginal waste land being enclosed. With enclosures the farmers could grow more food to feed the domestic population and make larger profits.