My exuberant colleague Ricardo J. Bascuas has put online an early draft of an important article, The Unconstitutionality of “Hold Until Cleared”: Reexamining Material Witness Detentions in the Wake of the September 11th Dragnet ( forthcoming Vanderbilt Law Review, April 2005).
The article argues very persuasively that the material witness statute is being seriously misused to hold innocent people in jail, and to sweat possibly guilty ones when the government lacks the information to charge them. But we knew that.
What makes this article special is that it also demonstrates through careful textual analysis that the courts which approved the government's use of the material witness statute to jail people fundamentally misunderstood the original meaning of the orignial material witness statute, which was in fact carefully designed to do no such thing, but only to allow the jailing of witnesses who failed to promise to appear, or who failed to appear when bound to do so.
Not only is this a great article, but it's Ricardo's first one — a sign of a glittering academic career in the making.
Slashdot | Absentee Ballots Go Missing in Florida.
I've said for months that the real election fraud in Florida would be absentee ballots not voting machines. This has a tip of the iceberg feel to it.
If Bush should win the state by fewer than 58,000 votes, I will not believe the result unless these ballots are found. (I could even understand why a Bush supporter would say the same thing about a narrow Kerry victory…which just underscores the importance of getting to the bottom of this.)
This is a GREAT idea:
Election Day Project — The Seattle University School of Law is sponsoring an Election Day Project. The purpose of this Project is to provide assistance to attorneys, voting rights and community advocates in key presidential electoral states. This assistance will consist of preparing statements from voters who have experienced harassment or intimidation at polling places. Attorneys and advocates can refer voters who have experienced such harassment or intimidation to a toll free number: (866) 896-4033. Law students will be servicing telephone calls from these voters and will assist in the preparation of statements. These statements will then be e-mailed to the referring attorney or advocate for final edits and signatures. These statements can form the basis for seeking temporary restraining orders or as documentation for any hearings conducted by legislative bodies, regulatory agencies, or the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
Please note the following:
1. The toll free number and the service to be provided will be available only on election day, Tuesday, November 2, 2004. The toll free number is (866) 896-4033.
2. The hours of operation are based upon Pacific Standard Time. The toll free telephone lines will be operational from 7:00 a.m. (PST) to 7:00 pm (PST).
3. When referring a voter to the toll free number, (866) 896-4033, the attorneys, voting rights and community advocates should provide the voter with the name, telephone number, and e-mail of the referring attorneys, voting rights and community advocates. Otherwise we will not be able to forward the statement.
4. The law students will not be providing legal advice or voter assistance.
5. If the lines are busy, please keep trying.
6. For further information contact, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Joaquin G. Avila (206) 398-4117.
Much kudos to Prof. Avila and Seattle law school.
Called home yesterday evening (London time) and among other things learned that the 'Morales' family (read about them here) now has a Kerry-Edwards sign, bringing our street's total to four!
Here's a wacky theory: what if Chief Justice Rehnquist resigns due to ill health, and the court is split 4-4 when it has to decide the election. Apparently the Bush folks are preparing a contingency plan for a recess appointment.
I'm going to go out on a limb here: not going to happen. Why? Rehnquist will not resign in the next few weeks. Not his style, not at all. Of course, if someone on the Supreme Court were to actually die, then all bets are off on this one. And that would create a stir….
TalkLeft: Bush Needs to Get His Bulge Stories Straight. Is Karl Rove getting unhinged? How can they be so off-message on this one?
I just saw the National Theater's performance of Allan Bennett's new play The History Boys, thanks to a barrister friend who was able to get tickets.
This is simply a spectacular play, brilliantly performed by an outstanding cast. It was even better than Bennett's The Madness of King George III, which I saw years ago in its first run at the National. And that was a great play and a great production (better than the film, I thought, although there's always a tendency to like the one you see first best).
Londoners are so spoiled when it comes to theater. When Caroline and I lived here we went to an average of more than one play a week. It is easily the thing I most miss about London. (Number two, oddly enough, is doing my weekly shopping at the Dalston Market.)
A mathematician friend has an extra ticket for another play at the National on Saturday that he is going to let me have. Tomorrow morning I'm going to TKTS to see what I can scare up. That makes three. Friday is complicated as I have appointments out of town, but I could either (horrors) book a full price ticket by phone, or see if I can get to TKTS early enough to catch my train after buying a ticket. That would make four.
I suppose going to a matinee on Saturday as well as an evening performance would be gluttonous. But I'm tempted.
(Recommendations from any readers who happen to be in London or know about what's on gratefully welcomed.)