This page includes posts from
April 24-May 7, 2005 in the usual reverse
order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these
May 7, 2005
We were out of town for a couple days, attending older daughter's college graduation.
She made her parents very proud of the way she handled herself over the last four years.
May 7, 2005
As of yesterday, this site has been up and running for three and one-third years. Thus far there have been 367,996 visits, with 481,506 pages viewed.
Thanks again for your patronage.
May 5, 2005
A Delaware Common Pleas Court judge issued a criminal law decision today that shows that modern technology can be a decidedly mixed blessing.
According to the stipulated facts, a woman named Nancy Biddle attached a GPS tracking device to the bottom of another woman’s automobile. Her intent was to determine the car’s location and movement through the middle of the state.
Biddle eventually removed the device from the other woman’s car, before the police became involved.
Judge Merrill C. Trader found Biddle guilty of the misdemeanor offense of invasion of privacy, under 11 Del.C. Section 1335(a)(2). As he noted, the criminal charge for using a GPS device in this case was a first for Delaware. Nonetheless, after reviewing the language of the Delaware statute and analogous case law from other jurisdictions, Judge Trader appeared to have little difficulty finding Biddle guilty as charged:
The judge later amplified his remarks with commentary that should give privacy advocates a warm glow:
If I were a marketing manager for a company that made or sold GPS tracking devices, I think I’d be re-checking my ad copy right about now.
On the other hand, if a suspicious spouse decides to see where his or her jointly-owned car goes when he or she is not riding in it, this case probably won't put a crimp in those plans.
May 4, 2005
My recent experience with helicopter pilots also included an introduction to a volunteer service that deserves wide support.
Angel Flight America is a charitable organization of pilots and their aircraft. They provide free flight services to folks who need help being transported long distances for surgery, or for other critical medical needs, including transporting organs intended for transplants.
The group is now seeking legislative help to amend the Federal Good Samaritan laws.
The latest version of the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act was introduced in Congress on April 27. Here’s how one sponsor, Congresswoman Thelma Drake (R-VA), describes the bill:
A friend of mine, Neil Kaye, MD, is a helicopter pilot/owner and an active member of Angel Flight. In a recent email he gave a very practical reason for the legislation:
I join Neil and his fellow volunteer pilots in asking you to contact your Congressional representatives to ask for their votes in favor of this legislation. In addition, if you’re a blogger reading this, please pass the word to your own audience.
Thanks very much!
May 3, 2005
This morning I accompanied two helicopter pilots on a ride over parts of southern Delaware, on a work-related matter.
Fortunately it was a gorgeous spring day, and I remembered to have my camera with me.
Click here for more pictures.
May 2, 2005
A front-page, top-of-the-fold story in today’s Wilmington News-Journal about a glut in beach house rental opportunities in Delaware was noteworthy for the semi-breathless way it described a standard Economics 101 lesson.
Consider the logical conclusion to be drawn from the following not-so-amazing facts reported in the article:
But wait—there’s more:
We’ve certainly seen more than our share of price appreciation in the Rehoboth Beach housing market in the last few years, with annualized increases of 20-30% frequently noted by local real estate agents we know. While some of us actually live here year-round, far more homes in this resort community are used by their owners on a part-year basis at best. It’s common knowledge that many of these investors count on either seasonal rentals or year-round rentals to offset the increasingly huge carrying costs of these properties.
Unfortunately for them, the folks doing the renting couldn’t help but notice that they now have more choices, and they’re not shy about pressing their new-found advantage.
Shocking, I know.
Thus far the diminished level of cost-sharing contributed by renters hasn’t seemed to affect the local housing sales market. Surely the current disconnect can’t last forever, however.
I give this story two Claudes.
April 30, 2005
I posted my newest golf book review this morning.
The Augusta National Golf Club: Alister MacKenzie's Masterpiece, by Stan Byrdy, looks like a standard coffee table book.
Looks can deceive, and sometimes that's a good thing.
April 30, 2005
State and local governments are frequently the targets of litigious wrath by some of our less than happy fellow citizens.
Unfortunately, the anger that drives these lawsuits is sometimes well out of proportion to the real or imagined offense being caused or taken.
It’s up to the attorneys who take these cases to refrain from making frivolous claims in a vain effort to bolster their clients’ chances. Sometimes the courts will give a short sharp reminder of that fact to those lawyers who neglect that duty, as well as to the plaintiffs who don’t bother using a lawyer to file their suits.
For example, I can well imagine the glint in Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner’s eye as he wrote the unanimous panel opinion in Wall v. City of Brookfield, Wisconsin, issued April 27.
Sherry Wall owns two dogs, one of which is a 95-pound Doberman Pinscher with a penchant for escaping the confines of Wall's home.
A dog of that size and breed simply doesn’t give most people a case of warm fuzzies when they see it bounding toward them. In fact, the city government took what it thought was decisive action against the problem. It issued nine citations, forcing Wall to pay about $25,000 in fines and attorney’s fees for the continuous violations of the common city ordinance prohibiting dog owners from letting their pets run free.
Despite these expensive reminders to be more neighborly, one day Wall’s Doberman escaped again. This time the city decided to take a different approach to the recurring problem. The officials told the local humane society, which picked up the Doberman, to treat it as a stray and hold it for a while, even though the dog’s identity was well-known.
After keeping the dog for 60 days, the society returned it to Wall, who promptly filed a Federal lawsuit over the “loss of … dog companionship” that she allegedly suffered.
Since the Doberman was constantly escaping from her home, one wonders if the dog ever really shared her interest in being together, but never mind.
The District Court dismissed the case, but Wall was undeterred. She appealed the suit to the Seventh Circuit, attempting to take a bite out of the Brookfield city treasury.
Judge Posner bit back:
The case may not have engaged the judges’ expertise, but it certainly engaged their sense that something else would be done about it:
By the way, whoever handled this appeal for this dog-loving plaintiff might want to keep an additional fact in mind when next they appear before Judge Posner.
April 28, 2005
My daughters and I were together for a short while yesterday, and we drove to a few stores. Among other destinations, younger daughter asked me to stop at the local WaWa store for a sub.
I pulled into the parking lot, and had just begun to turn into a space in front of the store when I heard an engine roaring up, far too close for comfort.
I braked in time to watch a scruffy young guy in a small pickup truck speed between us and our parking space, heading from a long row of gasoline pumps toward the single exit.
Once again I didn't really need or want this extra bit of excitement in our lives, but luckily he missed us.
The girls wondered why he drove so recklessly. I suggested he had just left the pumps after filling up, without paying for his gas.
As we walked into the store, the cashier stood at her station, peering through a set of binoculars at the vehicles stopped at the corner intersection where this WaWa sits.
When the kid took off, he didn't notice that he had no easy escape route.
The clerk carefully noted the vehicle's tag number, so that the store manager could pass along that information to the police.
Good. Hope they catch that fool.
I just wonder how long this store was open before they issued those binoculars to the cashiers.
April 28, 2005
I had a great golfing trip with ten other friends. We stayed at Sea Trail, in Sunset Beach, NC, a frequent site for these vacations.
The experience will be part of a golf/travelogue column in a week or so.
Official small print disclaimer: This is, after all, a personal web site. Any opinions or comments I express here are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the official position of my work as a government attorney or any of my clients.
That fact may become obvious later on, but it needs to be said here anyway.
© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2005