Noon-Thirty News, 06/21/10

Posted in News on June 21st, 2010 by bl1y
  • Patricia McGuire Reveals the Secret to Career Success: Coincidence

My colleague offered a different point of view: “A good career is a series of well-managed coincidences,” he said. He was right! A coincidence of my work with Street Law was the opportunity to learn how to do television — I was a guest commentator for two years on a weekly CBS News program for children (“30 Minutes”) and later on a local talk show (“Panorama”). Later on, as the chief development officer, I developed invaluable administrative and management skills.

Unfortunately, McGuire has confused “coincidences” with “opportunities” and “experience.”  Fortunately, you have more control over opportunities and experience than coincidence.  Good thing she’s wrong.  Alanis Morissette would call the mistake “ironic.”  [Washington Post]

  • Ninth Circuit Bats 0 for 4

The Ninth Circuit has a reputation for forging its own path but today had to be special: It was reversed three times by the Supreme Court, with a partial defeat in another case.

The Supreme Court was poised to uphold the Ninth Circuit’s opinion in Kawasaki v. Regal Beloit, but Judge Koman Coulibaly called off the victory, causing the Ninth Circuit to settle for a tie with Slovenia. [Forbes]

  • SCOTUS Votes 6-3 to Ban Peaceful Support of Terrorist Organizations

The law had been challenged by aid groups who taught Kurds in southeastern Turkey how to bring human rights complaints to the United Nations and helped them in peace negotiations. The plaintiffs had claimed the material support ban was too vague, in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and infringed their rights to free speech and association, in violation of the First Amendment.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said support for even benign purposes “frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends. It also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups—legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members, and to raise funds—all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks.”

Here’s a pretty sure fire way of making sure that a terrorist organization continues to see violence as the only method available to achieve their goals: cut them off from legitimate channels of voicing their grievances. [ABA Journal] [Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project]

  • E-Mail Record Reveals Harder Side of Kagan

An enormous trove of e-mail messages from Elena Kagan’s years in the Clinton White House released late Friday afternoon offered glimpses of a savvy, sharp-elbowed and sometimes salty-tongued lawyer at ease with politics, policy and bureaucratic infighting.

“Not to carp,” she told a colleague, “but on memos to the president, it’s usually wise to spellcheck.”

Kagan added to another colleague who was slow in responding to messages, “CHECK YOU E-MAIL.” [New York Times]

  • Israel Eases Gaza Blockade

Israel plans to ease its blockade of Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday following an Israeli Security Cabinet meeting, a step commended by major powers and brushed off by a Palestinian organization and government.

Critics of the blockade had previously been accused of being antisemitic and supporting terrorists.  No word on whether the same labels will be applied to Prime Minister Netanyahu. [CNN]

  • Killer Professor Amy Bishop Fails in Suicide Attempt

University of Alabama Huntsville biology professor Amy Bishop, who’s charged with killing three Alabama university colleagues in a campus shooting rampage, was back in her cell Saturday after she attempted suicide in jail.

Earlier in the week she was indicted in her brother’s murder in 1986 in Massachusetts and at least one defense lawyer said news of the indictment probably affected her state of mind. [KWTX]

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Crazy Professor, Once Offended by Being Called Crazy, Now Claims She Really is Crazy.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21st, 2010 by bl1y

Turns out there’s another legal angle to the Amy Bishop UAH shooting.  Some time last year a male colleague of Bishop’s called her “crazy” to another colleague. When Bishop found out, she responded by filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging gender discrimination.

That case is still pending, but given that she ended up shooting six other faculty members, killing three, and is now pursuing an insanity defense, I have the feeling the comment about her being crazy has little to do with her gender and a whole lot to do with her being crazy.

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Good Lord Y’all!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20th, 2010 by bl1y

Attorney Roy Miller, who is representing Amy Bishop, accused of killing three of her colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, regrets calling his client “wacko.” No shit?

At least he didn’t say something like Bishop is “aware of what she’s done and she’s very sorry for it.”

…Oh.  Damn.

About his comment (presumably the wacko one) Miller said, “Good lord, y’all.  Listen, I went overboard with that. When I talk to y’all I make statements … I wish I hadn’t have made. And probably that’s one of them.”

I guess that’s what you get when your attorney went to Samford “Not to be Confused With Stanford” University Cumberland School of Law.

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UAH Killer Professor Claims Insanity

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19th, 2010 by bl1y

As anyone who follows national news will have heard, last week in Huntsville, Professor Amy Bishop took out a gun at a faculty meeting for the UAH biology department and shot six of her colleagues, killing three.  Just one week earlier a 14 year old student at Discovery Middle School shot and killed a fellow 14 year old classmate, allegedly as part of a would-be gang renunciation.  Though the Huntsville-Madison city line runs between the two, the shootings occurred in the same community, only about 6 miles apart.  Both appear to be pre-meditated (the professor took a gun to the meeting, the kid took a gun to school).  One involves a middle aged Harvard educated white women, the other a 14 year old black boy.  It will be interesting to see how the two cases play out.

(Ordinarily I’d talk about a criminal proceeding in terms of the “alleged” attackers, but so far no one in these cases has disputed that the accused committed the act.  Both have multiple witnesses, and the real story is going to be arguing mitigating circumstances and the sentencing process.)

The most recent development comes from the Bishop case.  Her lawyer is claiming that Bishop suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and cannot be prosecuted because she is insane.  If you’re a criminal procedure junkie, you’re probably aware that a plea of insanity, if proven, does not mean that you get to walk free.  Given her questionable criminal history (shot and killed her brother in a death that was ruled an accident; was questioned in a pipe bomb mailing), my guess is that Bishop would end up in Tuscaloosa’s Taylor Harden Secure Medical Facility.  It’s essentially Alabama’s Arkhum, except that prisoners don’t routinely break out.  (Though, my senior year at Alabama, a man who killed his father did walk right out the front door of another mental health hospital down the road and go missing for two months.)

If she ends up succeeding with the insanity plea, she will likely remain locked up for life.  Her lawyer is probably taking this route to avoid the death penalty.  Not the worst strategy, since life in prison is the best option she’ll get at trial.  She may have a better chance at getting released from a mental health facility than getting paroled from prison.

Bishop’s attorney pointed to her tenure denial as the likely spark that set off her allegedly insane powder keg.  No doubt anyone who would shoot at 6 of her colleagues in cold blood has mental problems.  Bishop claims that she can’t remember what happened in the meeting, and I think that’s likely true.  Such an event would be traumatic not just for the victims and witnesses, but for the culprit as well.  It’s hard to think about anything horrible we’ve done, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Bishop’s mind had put a wall around the event.

However, Bishop’s tenure denial came last April, and the denial of her appeal on the matter was still months before the shooting.  Normally people get set off by big events like that closer to when they happen.  That’s not to say someone can’t brood for months and eventually snap, but I think the timing will work against Bishop.  Also, there seems to be lacking an important narrative to Bishop’s alleged schizophrenia.  I’m no mental health expert, but I think that people having paranoid delusions usually have…some sort of delusion.  We’ve yet to hear what the delusional story in Bishop’s head would have been.  Without some narrative that would explain why she killed her colleagues, it doesn’t seem like this will make for a good defense.  You can be paranoid and delusional, and at the same time commit a premeditated murder that isn’t explained by your mental condition.

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