Prosecution’s Documents Reveal Grisly Desert Slayings

A few miles southwest of the Strip, where the megawatt glare of the casinos meets a lonely stretch of desert, three young women were forced to walk into the night. Only one crawled out alive.

Prosecutors say it began in the chilly, early morning hours of March 5, 2003, when Kim Choy, her younger sister, Sophear, and friend Priscella Van Dine went to retrieve their belongings from a spacious home in the suburbs.

Now a Las Vegas man, Alfonso “Slinkey” Blake, is scheduled to be tried later this month for two counts of murder. The AP has the chilling details here via CNN.com.



Microsoft Goes After Teen Named “Mike Rowe” Over Domain Name

A Vancouver Island high school student who does Web site design part-time is locked in a legal battle with one of the biggest companies in the world.

Microsoft Corp. of Seattle, currently valued at $300 billion US, wants Mike Rowe to give up www.mikerowesoft.com as his Internet domain name. The company claims copyright infringement of its name.

I love it! Apparently, Microsoft has offered Mike $10 for the domain — which is what he paid to register it. Read more about Mr. Rowe’s woes here from the Victoria Times. (via Atrios)

UPDATE: The AP is reporting the same story here.


Judge May Face Sanctions

A veteran federal judge faces disciplinary proceedings after he improperly seized control of a bankruptcy case in an effort to protect a woman whose probation he had decided to oversee personally, according to a federal judicial disciplinary council.

Penalties for District Judge Manuel L. Real, 79, who has been a controversial member of the federal judiciary in Los Angeles since 1966, could range from a private reprimand to loss of the authority to hear cases. . . .

[T]he judge has a reputation for being charming outside court but cantankerous and peremptory on the bench. He is famous among lawyers for telling attorneys who appear before him: “This isn’t Burger King. We don’t do it your way here.”

Real has “created a courtroom of terror,” said Victor Sherman, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.

The case involves one of Real’s idiosyncrasies: For the last 25 years, he has personally supervised numerous cases of criminals on probation, according to a statement he made to the judicial council. The judge said he had taken pride in helping criminals rehabilitate themselves by getting directly involved in their activities.

Details here from The Los Angeles Times.


Suzuki v. Consumers Union Headed for Trial

The last Samurai, Suzuki’s knockabout sport utility vehicle, rolled off the assembly line in 1995. The Japanese automaker retired the popular model after just seven years of production.

Suzuki lawyer George F. Ball blames the early demise on Consumer Reports magazine, which heavily publicized the SUV’s rollover potential. “They wouldn’t leave it alone,” he said.

At least, that’s the case that Ball will soon roll out before an Orange County, Calif., jury.

Alleging a type of defamation known as product disparagement, the automaker is seeking $60 million in damages from the magazine’s corporate parent, Consumers Union (C.U.).

For the magazine and publications like it, the stakes may be much higher.

Details here from the National Law Journal.


Pair Cry Foul Over Arrests in Court on U.S. Pot Charges

The medical marijuana confrontation between California and the U.S. government took a dramatic turn this week when two people were arrested on federal charges as they sat in a Tehama County courtroom.

David Dean Davidson and Cynthia Barcelo Blake were waiting for their attorneys to finish a meeting in the judge’s chambers after Deputy District Attorney Lynn Strom had announced at the Tuesday hearing that she would seek a dismissal of charges against the pair for cultivation and possession for sale of marijuana.

When the prosecutor, who requested the meeting in chambers, left the courtroom with the defense attorneys and the judge, sheriff’s deputies ordered the defendants into the hall, handcuffed them and told them they were under federal arrest.

At the same time, the county prosecutor informed the judge and defense attorneys that the pair had been indicted five days earlier by a federal grand jury in Sacramento. When the defense attorneys rushed back to the Corning courtroom, their clients were gone and they were informed by a deputy that the pair were on their way to jail in Sacramento.

Details here from the Sacramento Bee.

UPDATE: Law.com now weighs in here.


Scalia-Cheney Trip Raises Eyebrows

Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent part of last week duck hunting together at a private camp in southern Louisiana, just three weeks after the court agreed to take up the vice president’s appeal in lawsuits over his handling of the administration’s energy task force, the Los Angeles Times says in its Saturday editions.

While Scalia and Cheney are avid hunters and longtime friends, several experts in legal ethics questioned the timing of their trip and said it raised doubts about Scalia’s ability to judge the case impartially, the newspaper pointed out.

Details here from CBS News.


Bush Puts Pickering on Appeals Court

President Bush bypassed Congress and installed Charles Pickering on the federal appeals court Friday in an election-year slap at Democrats who had blocked the nomination for more than two years.

Bush installed Pickering by a recess appointment, which avoids the confirmation process. Such appointments are valid until the next Congress takes office, in this case in January 2005.

Pickering, a federal trial judge whom Bush nominated for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, has been waiting for a confirmation vote in the Senate.

Details here from the AP via CNN.com.


Groups Want Prosecutor to Probe Ashcroft

Several groups Thursday urged the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Attorney General John Ashcroft’s use of a political action committee mailing list during his 2000 Senate race.

The National Voting Rights Institute, Public Citizen and other groups contended in a letter that Ashcroft evaded campaign finance laws through his Senate campaign’s use of a mailing list developed by his Spirit of America PAC at a cost of $1.7 million.

They also say that while Ashcroft told the Federal Election Commission he personally owned the mailing list at one point, he failed to include it on a required report to the Senate outlining his financial holdings. He may have broken tax laws by failing to report income earned from the list on his Internal Revenue Service income tax filings, they say.

I am no fan of John Ashcroft. The man is a fundamentalist zealot and has no place in the Justice Department. Among his other “sins,” Ashcroft felt he deserved to be “anointed” upon his election to the senate (“as the kings of Israel were when they undertook their administrative duties”), and thinks it is appropriate to sing terrible quasi-religious/patriotic songs in public in his official capacity as the Attorney General of the United States of America. The AP has details of his possible criminal campaign violations here via Findlaw.com. I say “bring ’em on.”


Ted Kennedy’s Speech: “America, Iraq and Presidential Leadership”

If you only read one thing this month, read this speech delivered by Senator Edward M. Kennedy today to the Center for American Progress at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Brought to you by Salon.com, which subtitled it “The Axis of War: Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.” (It is free to read. You won’t even have to view Salon’s usual “premium content” advertising dreck to get there.)

I happen to agree with almost everything Senator Kennedy said, and I think he said it eloquently. I think the American public needs to hear this point of view. Do you? Whether you do or don’t, please consider sharing your thoughts in a comment for other readers to consider (below).

UPDATE (11/30/04): Salon’s link to the speech is troublesome, so I’m posting the entire text of it at the link just below this.