Category Archives: legal

lawyers, laws, and lunacy

Seattle City Council vs Table Scraps

Seattle is a pretty cool town. I love living here, but stupid crap like this makes me a bit itchier to get out of the city limits. Here’s the gist:

All single-family homes in Seattle must sign up for table-scrap recycling in 2009, the City Council decided Monday.

While residents will have to pay for the service, the city will not check whether they are actually dumping food in the new separate bin.

That’s right. Seattle’s city council in all its foresight and wisdom deemed it necessary to force people to pay for food-scrap recycling while not enforcing the law. We’re talking about food-scraps. Last time I checked food-scraps are biodegradable and quite quickly turn into what is essentially dirt, you know, the stuff of which Mother Earth is made. So how are we going to “recycle” table-scraps? One giant community compost pile?

And here’s another rich part:

Recycling food waste will be voluntary for apartments, as well as for businesses, which produce twice as much food waste as residents.

Conlin said he hopes garbage-collection rates can be adjusted to absorb some of the additional cost homeowners will have to pay for food recycling.

So, the real producers of food waste, apartments and businesses, can opt out of this regulatory nitpicking. I’m glad for them, but if food waste was really a problem wouldn’t be smart to try to stop the major source of the problem? This is like plugging a small hole in the dam while ignoring the big gushing hole next to it. Very very smart.

Luckily, I don’t plan on being a homeowner any time soon, and I am seriously considering moving out of the city limits. I’d move out of the county limits if it wasn’t obnoxious to do so.

(via Soundpolitics)

Andersen vs. King County

A longish legal analysis of the gay marriage ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court, which ruled against gay marriage yesterday. The short of the analysis is this: gays may not have a legal right to marriage, but the legislature better pick up the ball when it comes to partner benefits in civil unions or a better case might judicially force the issue. I haven’t read the opinion myself, but this analysis strikes me as well reasoned.

Personally, I’m still undecided on the whole issue. I’ve been struggling to come up with a reasonable position that is consistent with all my ideals. I have an extremely long post written on the issue, but it is far from complete and I’m not confident with it yet. I’m not sure it will ever see the light of the Internets.

Constitutional Picketing

Eugene Volokh has an article giving a good run down on Constitutional limits on picketing. Here’s the short of it:

It turns out that the government (a) can ban loud picketing outside funerals, and (b) can probably ban all picketing immediately outside the funeral, but (c) must allow picketing or marching relatively near to funerals. How near is impossible to tell, but picketers can’t be required to stay 300 feet or more away; they probably have to be allowed to march past the funeral, and perhaps even to picket, say, 100 or 200 feet away.

I’m not sure if the statute the ACLU and Westboro Baptist Church are challenging would survive Consitutional scrutiny as I have not read it. It’s probably a safe bet that if the law is content-neutral (I’m assuming it is unless the legislature likes to enact laws that are obviously going to be struck down), then it will survive. Anyway, we’ll have have to wait and see.

Strange bedfellows

Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes. The Wesboro Baptist Church, known for their “God hates fags” picket signs, and the ACLU, known for frequently championing “far left” causes in court, have joined forces to battle a law that limits picketing around funerals. The law itself seems pretty sensible to me, though I’d rather not have such a law in place:

The law bans picketing and protests “in front of or about” any location where a funeral is held, from an hour before it begins until an hour after it ends. Offenders can face fines and jail time.

A number of other state laws and a federal law, signed in May by President Bush, bar such protests within a certain distance of a cemetery or funeral.

Weird, huh?

Silent screams, the invisible tears

“This is what I call invisible scars in the mind. The only injuries is what I call silent screams, the invisible tears.” That’s Douglas Hornsby’s dramatic description of the injuries suffered by patients who experience “anesthesia awareness,” which occurs when the patient awakes while still under the knife. Clearly, they aren’t awake in the fullest sense otherwise they’d sit up on the operating table and say, “Cut that out!” (haha!) However, they are awake enough to realize something is poking around inside them, and that can be traumatic, as you can imagine. Anesthesia awareness may soon become the new hotness in medical-malpractice suits:

Plaintiffs attorneys claim that in the past, people who awoke during operations rarely sued because they couldn’t prove it, and doctors ignored them.

But now, they say, these patients have new ammunition: an alert recently released by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. It says that anesthesia awareness happens 20,000 to 40,000 times a year, and that this phenomenon is an “under-recognized and under-treated” problem in the health care industry.

“Somebody has actually opened the door and said, ‘Hey, this does happen,'” said attorney William DeGarmo of San Jose, Calif.’s McCann & Logue, who is handling two anesthesia awareness suits.

“If someone had said to me 10 years ago, even five years ago, that someone had woken up during surgery, I’d say, ‘I can’t imagine that.’ … But it’s only recently that publicity has come out about this that people are saying, ‘I’m not nuts. This did happen.'”

The joint commission noted that while the 20,000 to 40,000 figure cited in the report represents only one to two cases in every 1,000, the experience is “traumatic for those people who do become aware,” and called on hospitals to do more to prevent it.

“I think there’s a concern that this kind of an alert could prompt more lawsuits,” said Karen Posner, an anesthesiology professor at the University of Washington who tracks medical malpractice claims for the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

You don’t say, Ms. Posner.

Apparently, anesthesiologists have done a pretty good job of keeping their malpractice rates down — good job, Dad! — , but the increased awareness of this unfortunate event may bump them up. And of course, anesthesiologists aren’t given a particularly easy job:

In defense of the anesthesia profession, Roger Litwiller, past president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, issued a recent statement saying, “In some types of surgeries, awareness is the result not of error, but of the need to give the patient only as much anesthesia as his or her body can tolerate. In other cases, the sounds or sensations that patients become aware of are fleeting and not traumatic.” He added: “Awareness under general anesthesia is not common. The vast majority of surgeries performed under general anesthesia are accomplished with the patient unaware and pain-free.”

In the past, I’ve schemed of ways for the Barnett Family to make megabucks, but now I have my most brilliant plan yet. Dad keeps working how he is now. I actually finish law school. Dad puts Little Brother under for some routine surgery. Little Brother suffers some silent screams, invisible tears. I represent him. Dad throws the case (“I effed it all up, yer Honor!”). We take the med-mal insurance for all it’s worth. Dad retires. I take my 20% cut. Little Brother makes bank. And the cool thing about this is we can do this twice if Older Brother becomes an anesthesiologist too. The only flaw is the whole law school part.

(via Point of Law)

The RIAA takes action!

I’ve been warned by email that the RIAA is really ramping up their legal activity to protect their precious copyrighted (and crappy) songs. They’re now going after “unauthorized peer-to-peer notification of the existence of copyrighted material” and are also looking into the legality of “‘favorites-sharing’ sites, such as coffee shops, universities, and living rooms.” In light of this, I will now no longer recommend or discuss any music; furthermore, I will delete from my archives all posts dealing with this subject matter. Thanks for warning me, Greg!