Zimmerman Reading Material

Thanks to an online friend,1 I learned of a great blog post about the Zimmerman trial / verdict … which then resulted in a couple more posts. Read and be enlightened about our criminal justice system and how it works:

It’s worth reading the posts’ comments, too.


  1. Thanks, Ron Coleman

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Quote of the Day — David T. Hardy

In law school, we were told to be careful what we ask for, because the fates may give us just that. If the Supreme Court upholds a broad Second Amendment right, tens of millions of gun-owning Americans will be reminded of the high court’s role as protector of their Constitution.

If it goes the other way, those millions will be asking how arms ownership, expressly mentioned in that document, is unprotected while abortion (no where mentioned) is broadly protected.

They will come to believe that the Constitution is merely a paper covering for arbitrary judicial rule. This is not a lesson we want taught in a democracy.

David T. Hardy

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Can we stop genocide?

David Kopel (of The Volokh Conspiracy), Paul Gallant, and Joanne D. Eisen have posted a law review article, Is Resisting Genocide a Human Right?, as a working paper draft. It discusses the history and effectiveness of various methods used to stop genocide.

Kofi Annan observes “the developing international norm in favor of intervention to protect innocent civilians from wholesale slaughter.” Unfortunately, the norm of intervention to stop wholesale slaughter is extremely underdeveloped in practice. Neither the Security Council, nor any other multilateral body, nor any nation(s) acting unilaterally have stopped the genocide in Sudan. Nor are they stopping the genocide by government-caused starvation in Zimbabwe. Nor did they stop the genocides in the Soviet Union, Communist China, Guatemala, or Rwanda. Even when a genocidal government (such as Hitler’s Germany, Amin’s Uganda, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia) made the error of provoking a stronger nation and prompting an invasion, that invasion eventually stopped the genocide, but did not prevent the genocide from being initiated.

A policy that relies on the Security Council to prevent genocides has historically been proven to be ineffective. A policy that relies on unilateral invasions to prevent genocide may save lives, but such a policy has, historically, resulted in action that, at best, came far too late to save millions of genocide victims. Moreover, humanitarian, non-defensive unilateral intervention is, by the dominant interpretation of international law, illegal.

In other words, multilateral bodies have a terrible record on stopping genocides. Unilateral action to stop genocide is illegal. What’s left?

For one answer, plus a good background on the Darfur genocide, read the whole paper.

The authors also invite your comments by e-mail.

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Comments on blogs dangerous?

Hugh Hewitt Hugh Hewitt, in the same sentence, explains (maybe) why he he doesn’t have comments on his blog and at the same time destroys his ability to win a defamation suit against derogatory comments in a blog.

So let’s get a little bit more conspiratorial. Let’s say you want to take down a blog or at least bleed it a little. So you hire someone to post a series of defamatory comments about you or a close associate, and then you bring or finance the payback lawsuit.

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Microsoft Proposes Patent 2005

Microsoft wants a new version of the U.S. patent system. On March 10, 2005, at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith proposed several changes to the current U.S. patent system.

Among the proposed changes are:

Patent fees stay in the patent office — Because patent fees are diverted to other governmental uses, the patent system suffers and fees no longer have any connection to the cost of examining and issuing patents. Keeping the fees in the patent office would fund more and better-qualified examiners plus the infrastructure needed to competently examine patent applications

Third parties able to submit “prior art” during examination — If interested third parties could submit “prior art” before a patent issues, the patents that ultimately issue would be that much stronger. Some patents would never issue (and never should).

Post grant administrative challenge procedure — Allowing administrative challenges to patents after granting could short-circuit expensive patent litigation.

Single patent trial court — The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit hears all patent appeals, eliminating forum shopping and regional variances in patent law interpretation. Having a single District Court to try all patent case would result in expert patent judges at the trial level and minimize uncertainty.

“Willful infringement” redefined to egregious behavior — Those who willfully infringe can be liable to pay treble damages, that is, three times as much. The current system rewards those who are intentionally ignorant about others’ patents.

First-to-file system — Currently, if two inventors file for patent protection on the same invention, the patent is issued to the inventor who invented first, not who filed for protection first. Changing to first-to-file would simplify the process and bring the U.S. in line with the majority of other countries.

No filing fee for “small entity” inventors — Those who can show “small entity” status have their patent fees cut in half. Microsoft proposes eliminating the filing fees (though apparently not any other patent-related fees). Not only would this make the patent system more accessible to individual inventors, but would also increase the patent office’s files of prior art. Individual inventors willing (reckless enough?) to write their own patent applications would have virtually no barrier to filing applications.

Microsoft isn’t the first to propose these changes. Some of the proposals have been resisted before being perceived as favoring large corporations at the expense of individual inventors. Eliminating filing fees might tip the balance.

Hat tip: Robert Scoble, Microsoft Watch.

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McCain-Feingold vs. Blogs

The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law might have been passed with the best of intentions. However, those intentions pave a certain road and I don’t like the destination.

C|Net writer Declan McCullagh interviewed Bradley Smith, one of six commissioners at the Federal Election Commissioners. The FEC now is struggling with applying McCain-Feingold to the internet.

In just a few months, [Smith] warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign’s Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate’s press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin, whose post contains more analysis and links.

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