Saturday, July 28, 2012

The difference between a cop and a client

When one of my clients is found to have a bound and gagged man in his garage, my client is unquestionably arrested. Held in jail. Charged with crimes. Serious felonies, like kidnapping and aggravated battery, perhaps.

But when it's a detective in Queens whose garage is the site of a kidnapping,

according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case, investigators decided they did not have enough evidence to arrest Mr. Johnson.
 My clients do not get that benefit of the doubt. Ever. Frankly, neither would I. Or my kindly, retired, professorial father. Normal people do not get the benefit of the doubt when a kidnapping victim is found in their home.

See, it's a detached garage and the detective says he doesn't use it. Hmm. You know, I have a detached garage in my car and I don't park in it. I'm still fairly confident that I would be aware if someone tried to stash a kidnapping victim in there. There are windows, after all.

I guess it's better that there are two apartments in this detective's house and the person living in the other apartment has been arrested. But that other guy is the detective's cousin. Which, once again, is a connection that would most definitely land one of my clients in the clink. Because the general rule is to arrest everyone first and sort it out later. I can't help but note, though, that the official quoted in the article did say there was lots of suspicion of this detective, but no hard evidence tying him into it. Again, I have to note that I have clients serving long sentences in prison on the basis of a whole lot of suspicion and not much else. Somehow, kidnapped man physically found on your property doesn't seem like such a dearth of "hard evidence" that an arrest could not possibly be justified. Without the detective badge, that is.

Now it may well be (in fact I wouldn't be surprised at all) that the detective really didn't know anything about this and should not be arrested. I'm just saying that the only reason he did not spend a night or two in jail like his cousin did and like my clients would is that he is a detective so other cops give him a benefit of the doubt that they would not give to any lesser mortal.

Might I suggest, detectives everywhere, if it turns out that this detective really didn't have anything to do with it and really didn't know anything about the kidnapped man in his garage, perhaps the lesson you should take from that is that you should, from time to time, give the rest of us the benefit of the doubt, too.

Yes, stuff like this still happens. Sigh.

This story is from 1960, right? After all, this is post-racial America, right? Our president is black, so we're totally over our history of racism, even though an awful lot of it was institutionalized at the highest levels of government and in our founding document. We don't still have racism. And honestly, it's the people still talking about race who are stirring up the trouble.

Or in 2012, we still live in a country where a church congregation will come together and tell a black couple, "No, you can't get married in our church." The wedding had been scheduled for months, but on the day before the wedding, the church let the pastor know that the wedding was unacceptable and that his job would be in jeopardy if he proceeded. Now in an ideal world, the pastor would quit, perhaps, but he lives in the real world where he has to feed his family. As it stands, he married the couple in another location. In another article, the pastor was quoted as saying that he thought a venue change was best because he didn't want to risk there being a scene at the church that could ruin the couple's day. Seems reasonable to me. No reason for the poor couple who just wanted to have a happy day to have to face angry congregants who don't want their church defiled. (Turns out there had never before been a wedding involving a person of color at that church and the congregants didn't want to spoil that tradition.)

My favorite line from the article:

The church is now holding internal meetings to figure out how it should respond to future requests by black couples to be married there

Really, what is there to figure out? When a black couple or an Asian couple or an Arab couple or a couple that is made up of any combination of races other than lily white comes to your church and says, "We like your church and we want to commit our lives to each other in front of god and family," you say, "Congratulations! That would be lovely and here are the dates that are available." Surely that's a better answer than, "Actually, we're a bunch of racist jerks and we've never let anyone but pretty, pretty white people get married here and we'd hate to break that streak, so just head on out and find yourself some other church that will let you darken its door."

I sincerely hope the people of Jackson, Mississippi shame the hell out of the members of this church. I hope that the members who disagree with this disgusting display of racism rise up and reclaim their church from the bigots. And if they're outnumbered, I hope they all resign and find a more welcoming church.

Most importantly, I hope the lovely couple enjoyed their special day in spite of the dark shadow that was cast on it. And that they may have a lifetime of happiness.

Oh, you crazy birthers. You really are the gift that just keeps giving.

I have a new favorite, crazy, frivolous but awesome birther lawsuit. By now, we're used to the lawsuits challenging the President's eligibility to be President because a certified record from Hawaii as well as sworn statements from Hawaiian officials just isn't good enough. So a charming loon has filed a suit in Alaska, seeking to force the state to "prove" the President's citizenship before the state includes him on the November ballot. (As if there's a state anywhere that would actually follow through and keep him off...)

But this guy in Alaska isn't content to limit his complaint to the President. He's attacking Nancy Pelosi, too. (Apparently he's not troubled by the idea that a guy from Alaska probably doesn't have standing to complain about the eligibility of a representative from California.) And what is his objection to Pelosi?

"There are no provisions in the Constitution of the United States that grants Women 'Political Rights' of Suffrage to hold any Political Office of the United States Government," the lawsuit says.
 Are you done laughing yet? There are so many ways to go with this. Like why didn't this guy challenge the female Senator from his own state? (I mean other than the obvious fact that Murkowski is a Republican while Pelosi is a Democrat and the Devil.) Why didn't he include other prominent female Democrats, like Debbie Wasserman Schultz or California's Senators? And can I assume this means that he did not vote for John McCain in the 2008 election, what with McCain choosing a running mate who was ineligible to hold any political office? And has this man ever heard of the 14th and 19th Amendments?

In the end, though, all I really want to say to my crazy Alaska friend is, "Thanks for the laugh!" Hmm, I wonder if this is the guy who left that woman-hating comment on my last post?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kristen Stewart is a dirty, dirty whore. Rupert Sanders is a man.

Can we take a minute to talk about the Kristen Stewart-Rupert Sanders-Robert Pattinson mess? It wasn't long after a national magazine broke the pictures of Stewart and Sanders behaving very inappropriately for a cohabiting woman and a married man that Stewart issued a public apology, seemingly aimed at Pattison, her long-term boyfriend. And almost in the same breath that the gossip rags were reporting on this apology, they were all commenting on the fact that Stewart's apology did not mention Sanders' wife and children. That sentiment has been repeated widely since then, that somehow Stewart's statement was insufficient because it lacked any recognition of the pain she caused to Sanders' family. Meanwhile, Sanders also issued a public statement, apologizing to his family. But I have yet to see anyone anywhere suggest that Sanders' statement was lacking as it made no mention of Pattinson, who may not be legally married to Stewart but does (did) live with her. No one has referred to him as a homewrecker.

I've complained about this kind of double standard before. The woman is painted as the homewrecking hussy who needs to be redeemed and the man, who really can't be expected to help himself, is the one who can ultimately redeem her.

To which I can only say a very exasperated, "COME ON!" They are both at fault here. They both cheated. One isn't more or less responsible based on sex. They should not be held to different standards. And, frankly, neither one of them should be expected to issue public apologies to the cuckolded partners, because, awkward! I'm quite confident that if I had been cheated on, the last thing in the world I would want would be a public statement published on every gossip website in the world from the person who slept with my partner saying how terribly sorry she was for causing me pain. Such a public apology would be wildly inappropriate. But, gosh darn it, if the gossip rags are going to judge Stewart for not following this hideously awful suggestion, they'd sure as heck better start judging Sanders, too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

That sound you hear is me banging my head against the wall

It's presidential election season, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. But that ridiculous, absurd, ludicrous, illogical, just plain stupid story about President Obama using a Social Security Number stolen from a French immigrant is making the rounds again. And it makes me crazy.

Because, first and foremost, the story just ain't true. The French guy's SSN was totally different. Just as a starter. There are other logic and fact flaws in the story, but I'm not going to get into them here. But the people who spread this story by posting it on FB or e-mailing it to everyone they know or wearing it on a sandwich board as they wander around town don't give a rat's ass whether the story is true. They just want to believe bad things about the president and jump on everything and anything they hear. Without actually thinking about it.

This is the only explanation because it seems so obvious to me that anyone, ANYONE, capable of critical thought who comes across this story should recognize the impossibility of this story being true. Really, even a brief moment of thoughtful reflection is all that should be necessary to realize that the current sitting President of the United States who was before that a Senator and before that a state Senator could not possibly be using a stolen SSN without someone, somewhere noticing it. The IRS to whom the man submits a tax return every year? The SSA who collects a tax and sends him a statement every year, showing what his current retirement income would be? The Post Office who issued him a passport? The FBI who did a background check on him before he could get the security clearance a Senator requires? Or any number of other state and federal agencies who have had to do something, process some record over the years? I mean, either we have the most inept boobs at pretty much every desk job and managerial position at just about every agency throughout the federal government (a tempting conclusion to tea partiers, no doubt, but highly unrealistic) or this would require the biggest conspiracy ever known to humankind. This conspiracy would make the forged birth certificate conspiracy look like a single drop of rain next to a hurricane. And yet, not one person, not ONE, has blown the whistle and come forward with evidence of this major and life-long felony committed by the president of our nation? And his sweet grandmother? It's ridiculous and it clearly could not possibly be true. As anyone thinking clearly and rationally should see.

But, yet, even decent people just pass on this story, via e-mail chains, without giving it a second thought. No, wait, a first thought. And so once again, presidential election season will be filled with this nonsense and a little part of my soul will die every day. Because I can't keep having this conversation. But when people cite this crap, I can't let it go, either.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

If a right exists, but nobody wrote it down on parchment paper with a quill pen in 1787, is it still a right?

In today's Tea Party, radicalized, vitriolic atmosphere of discussing rights and invoking Founding Fathers, it has become en vogue to complain that people are claiming to have rights that aren't listed anywhere in the Bill of Rights. Or the Declaration of Independence, for that matter. Usually the complaints come from those who oppose whatever it is the right-seekers are asking for.

Today, there was a letter to the editor in the local paper about the right to marry. The letter writer's short, pithy letter was only one paragraph, five brief sentences. He said he'd decided to do a little research, looked in the Declaration, the Bill of Rights, and other writings of the founders and found no mention of that right. Ipso facto, he concludes there is no such right.

(I will stop now and note that my assumption is that Mr. Letter Writer opposes same-sex marriage and so wrote this letter to rebut the argument that such couples have any sort of "right" to marry. His letter did not offer any greater context, so I am feeling free to make my own reasonable inferences. If anyone can offer a better idea of what this guy meant, let me know.)

Naturally, some comments rebutted this sadly simplistic take on things. And, of course, some other comments agreed, further complaining about the "penumbra" of rights horse hockey that our rogue, out-of-control courts have come up with as they legislate from the bench. If it's not in the Constitution, by gosh, it's not a right, they cry!

As a lawyer and a student of the Constitution, this nonsense makes me crazy. If the people making these arguments (that rights don't exist unless they're specifically enumerated in the Constitution) really thought it through, they'd see that it's nonsense. If the Bill of Rights explicitly listed every right that we as citizens, or as humans, possess, well, we'd never have ratified the Constitution because we'd still be writing the damn thing. They can't possibly all be listed. But not being listed does not mean those rights do not exist and to argue otherwise is dangerous in the extreme.

The Constitution says not one word about procreation. But I'm fairly confident the letter-writer would argue to his dying breath that he had an absolute, fundamental right to have his children and to raise them as he saw fit.

I would also wager that the letter writer would object strenuously (at least I hope he would) if any state tried to pass a law saying that brunettes could not marry blonds or that people with green eyes could only marry other green-eyed crazies. I would hope he would expect the Supreme Court to strike down any such law just as they rightly struck down laws banning mixed-race marriages.

Those are just two examples. The Founders never intended the Bill of Rights to be an exhaustive list. In fact, that was one of the objections to having a bill of rights, because it could be seen as exhaustive and could therefore some day be used by a letter-writer in Kansas as authority for arguing against a right. I guess Mr. Letter Writer didn't read that in the Founding Fathers' documents he so thoroughly researched.

But the Bill of Rights does offer some clues. It talks about the right of persons to be secure in their homes and their effects. It talks about liberty. It includes the rights of religion, association, and speech which, when combined and viewed properly, can cover a lot of things. Oh, and let's not forget that we've since amended the document to be clear that all persons are entitled to equal protection of the law. It's a simple phrase, but it means so much and applies to oh so many situations. Some (many) would even suggest it would apply to
the situation where the state offers up marriage as a legal option, but only to couples the state approves of.

The bottom line is that we can't look to the enumerated rights specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights and stop there. That isn't all there is to it. Those rights are the tip of the iceberg. It requires thoughtful analysis to look beyond that basic list and consider the full import of the ideals they embody. This is why the extreme textualism some people apply to Constitutional analysis makes me nuts, because it is the very last thing the founders would have wanted us to do. Sheesh, anyone who thinks we are limited to the explicit words the Founders included in that fairly brief document didn't study the founding of our nation at all.

I want to go to there

The Bibles in the hotel room thing has always irked me. There's something so blandly presumptuous about it. As if they assume no one can really object to the bible and so putting one particular religion in your face like that is ok.

So I'm kind of in love with this hotel. The hotel in England that replaced all of the bibles with "Fifty Shades of Gray." Now, I have no desire to read that book as everything I've heard leads me to believe it's a horrible piece of writing. And I'm a little sorry I know that the 50ish year old woman on the plane next to me last week who complained about how hot the plane was was reading that book. But I really don't like finding a bible in every darn hotel room I check into. (Did you know you can call ahead and ask for it to be removed? But what would they do if I asked for the Quran or the Bhagadvad-Gita instead?)

I also want to go to there because, you know, it's in England. The Lake District even. (Go back now and re-read your Pride and Prejudice if you don't remember why I care about the Lake District.) I must say, touring around the Lake District, free from the spectre of a silly book of myths, sounds way, way better than my real life these days.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Things cops and prosecutors shouldn't care about #1

Grown men touching themselves while watching adult films in an adult movie theater. Yes, I am thinking of Fred Willard today. But he's not the first one and he won't be the last.

Seriously, I have to wonder what the cop wandering the aisles of an adult theater really expects to see. What do they think the patrons go there for? What do the other patrons think their fellow film-goers are there for?

Arresting a guy like Fred Willard for jerking off in the dark private of an adult film theater is a complete and total waste. We the taxpayers paying for this nonsense should revolt. There are a dozen shootings every day in Chicago. My town has a rash of home burglaries. I'm pretty sure car thefts are common around the country. There are much, much better things for police and prosecutors to be spending their time and energy (aka money) on than grown adults doing exactly what we would expect them to do while watching adult films at adult movie theaters.

Please, cops, spend your time doing things that actually make us safer or solve real crimes or something. And let the Fred Willards of the world get their jollies in a dark adult movie theater. For crying out loud.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh, the fuzzy law on silly t.v. shows makes my head hurt. But then again, sometimes the fuzzy law in district court makes my head hurt, too. So maybe the tv shows aren't so far off.

Prison for everyone!

Today's local paper included a short article about a man who was facing two counts of felony theft. Now felony theft is a pretty low level offense. You pretty much have to be a psycho killer to get prison for felony theft. So it was no surprise to me to read that this particular person, who apparently had no prior criminal history, got a diversion.

A diversion is something you've probably heard of, where no conviction is actually entered and the defendant has certain conditions that he has to meet. If those conditions are met and the defendant stays out of trouble for some designated period of time (say a year), then the diverted charge goes away. If the defendant screws up in some way, the charges come back and the defendant can now be convicted and face a criminal sentence. You're not eligible for diversion if you have any substantial criminal history. (I'm not sure on the exact details because I've only ever done appellate work and for the last 8 years or so, I've not done much below first-degree murder.)

The details of this particular diversion agreement require the guy to perform 100 hours of community service, take a theft offender class, a gambling addiction class, and write a letter of apology to the victims. The article says nothing about restitution, but that is something the district court should absolutely include in the diversion agreement, if the victims ask for it.

To me, this seems like an entirely reasonable, just, beneficial-to-society resolution of a low-level case like this. And yet, the first 7 or so comments on this story were all about how the county is so ridiculously soft on crime, how there was no punishment here, mocking the letter of apology, suggesting he should get milk and cookies, too, etc. Which just makes me wonder, what on earth do people want? Would these people like to go a little Merchant of Venice on this petty criminal and get a pound of flesh? Would they like to throw this guy in jail for months on end? Where they would undoubtedly whine if he had access to tv, exercise, decent food, or educational opportunities?

The reality is that we incarcerate too many people. Way too many people. People who commit low-level felonies, have no criminal history, or don't pose physical risks to others should not be incarcerated. That seems like a self-evident starting point. Next point is that we don't really gain anything by giving this guy a criminal record, which will make it harder for him to find gainful employment. Do we want him to turn his path around and become a productive member of society? Or do we want him to be unemployable, which increases the likelihood that he will turn to crime again and continue to be a drain on the rest of us? Again, the answer seems self-evident to me.

Instead of incarcerating this guy, we're teaching him things. Making him perform services for his community, which might actually make him feel useful and connected to the community. Instead of being isolated, as one naturally is when one is behind bars.

And that letter of apology to the victims? I don't think that should be mocked at all. There is real value in getting him to own up to what he did and to acknowledge the effect it had on his victims. The value is to both the defendant and to the victims. I studied this movement toward restorative justice back in law school. Bringing victims and offenders together can be very powerful, even with something as simple as a letter of apology. It's an idea that should be pursued, not mocked.

The bottom line is that this is the way we should address crimes whenever possible. We shouldn't knee-jerk and send everyone to jail. We shouldn't punish, punish, punish. We're only hurting ourselves if we do because we're the ones who have to pay for all that bed space behind bars and we're the ones who have to deal with the very real problem of finding ways to reintegrate people after they're released from prison. That problem of reintegration has got to be one of the biggest causes of recidivism, so why would we set ourselves up for failure?

Not everyone should go to prison. In fact, I would suggest that we'd all be better off if the vast majority of people convicted of crimes never went to prison. Certainly, sending this guy to prison won't do anyone any good. Thankfully, the judge and prosecutors get that, even if idiots online don't.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A new chapter

I don't care how good a change is or how badly it needed to happen. Change is always scary. Stressful. Unnerving.

But it's also exhilarating. Especially when the new thing is pretty much exactly what you hoped for in your wildest dreams.

So if I'm really stressed out and wacky for the next few weeks, just know it's 'cause I got what I wanted and am focused on making it as fabulous as I think it can be.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

When I was in 5th grade, all the cool kids put lots of buttons on their jean jackets. The more buttons you had, the cooler you were. Now, I had lots of the requisite Garfield buttons, sassy slogan buttons, and I had one purple "S" that I thought was awesome.

But I also had two other buttons. Buttons that probably set me apart a bit from most 5th graders. These buttons read "Execute Justice, Not People" and "Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?" I've never been a normal person...

In 8th grade, my debate topic was the death penalty and no way would I take the pro side. Throughout high school and college, I followed Amnesty International's bulletins. My senior thesis was on the death penalty. And in law school, I was a vocal member of my university's chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, participating in debates on the square outside the union among other things.

I hate, hate, hate that my state has a death penalty statute and pursues death sentences against my clients. I wish we had won the fight decades ago. But the reality is that we haven't won yet. So there is still a fight to fight and I have somehow managed to become one of the handful of people in my state who get to be on the front lines (and who get paid for it, too.)

This weekend, I am surrounded by the best and the brightest death penalty defenders from around the nation. We're talking about the legendary Thurgood Marshall, who risked his own life so many times to defend the lives of others. We're hearing from the current legends of the game who have achieved major victories in the last three decades. And no one is looking at me and calling for security, yelling, "What is this silly little girl doing here?" Because while I might sometimes still feel like that dreamy 5th grader, no one else sees her. These defenders see a fellow fighter, someone who naturally belongs among their ranks. I may not know how to manage any other aspects of my life, but man, did I nail living out this dream.

If that 5th grader could only see me now, she would think grown-up Sarah was just about the coolest person ever.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My baseball bucket list

This is turning into the year of the baseball bucket list. Back in March, we hit up spring training. 4 games at 4 stadiums. And, thus, 4 mini bats.

And tonight, the All Star Game! Kansas City doesn't usually get the big sporting events. We're too far north and lacking a dome, so we can't get the Super Bowl. We don't have a big enough arena to get the Final Four. We haven't made the baseball playoffs since, well, we don't talk about that... Because we're one of those overlooked, small market cities that never contends and never matters, we haven't hosted an All Star Game since before I was born. So maybe an ASG doesn't seem like that big a deal to a New Yorker or someone from Los Angeles. But to a lifelong Kansan, it's something we never thought we could just drive to after work.

But this year, KC got the All Star Game. And I got to go. (Courtesy of my friend A, who is pretty much the source of all fun opportunities and trips and good things that come my way. Everyone should have a friend like this. Or at least be like my game date and have a friend who has a friend like this.)

So now I have been to an All Star Game and I have the free t-shirt and not-so-free mini bat to show for it.

We should all take a minute to marvel that I have somehow added 6 bats to my mini bat collection (don't forget the pine tar mini bat incident from Cinco de Mayo) since March without attending a single regular season game. Odd.

Anyway, I have crossed Spring Training off the bucket list. Now I can cross off the All Star Game. The only thing left? The play-offs. But if you've looked at the standings and watched any Royals games this season, I think you'd tell me I'd better not expect the bucket list hat trick to be completed this year. That's all right. Two out of three ain't bad.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My 4th of July rant

This fireworks crap has absolutely ruined the Fourth of July for me. I dread this day. I dread the week surrounding this day. The only redeeming things about July 4th anymore are that I get the day off and I get to watch Wimbledon. But in the evening, I just get so freakin' pissed off, I can't enjoy anything.

Shooting off fireworks in my town is illegal. And for good reason. It's dangerous, especially this year with a heat wave and a drought. There have already today been multiple fires attributed to idiots shooting off fireworks. It's also loud and disruptive. Fireworks make children cry and dogs bark. And they're hard to sleep through, which is a problem as most of us don't get July 5th off. Especially hard since people who want to blow shit up continue to do so until the wee small hours of the morning, without regard to their neighbors.

But, man oh man, people just feel effin' entitled to blow shit up today. They act like it's their God and Forefathers given right to do so. And screw anyone who tries to stop them. In fact, anyone who tries to stop them is bad, mean, a grinch (or worse), a whiner, a killjoy, and just plain unAmerican.

Well, pardon my French, but FU. You have made our nation's holiday all about your precious right to endanger my property and disrupt my night. You have no respect for anyone but your precious selves and I for one am sick to death of it. You, the ones who insist on breaking the law and keeping your neighbors up at night with hoses at the ready to douse any stray sparks, are the jerks. You are the rude ones. You are the obnoxious, entitled assholes who should shove it. Not me.

And by forcing this fight every goddamn year, you are the ones ruining the Fourth of July for me. Wankers.

I swear, next year I'm taking my dog on a road trip to Canada 'cause I've had it with this nonsense. I'll just celebrate Constitution Day instead.

UPDATE: But apparently, it is asking too much that the pro-blowing shit up crowd show any respect or consideration to those of us who aren't in love with blowing shit up. Sorry. I thought kindness and respect were good things.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My newest new obsession

I'll admit it. I'm a little obsessed. With the TomKat thing. I mean, come on. Aren't you? At least a little bit? It was such a bizarre marriage that made no sense. And it started with the implosion of one of the world's biggest movie stars. And then there was that crazy culty-religious aspect of it. And I kept watching for Pacey to show up and cure Joey of her childhood crush... Oh, wait. (I did always prefer Pacey, btw. Cheered when he and Joey hooked up, even if it hurt Dawson.)

I've always been a little more interested in cults than most people, so I've looked into Scientology a bit before. I've previously read the big New Yorker article about Paul Haggis' departure. I was familiar with the Sea Org stuff and the church's control of every member's money and the Lisa McPherson story. But I've gone a bit overboard in the past few days reading stuff at the Village Voice (which has done a series of articles about Scientology). Then there's TMZ and E!Online and Radaronline. And now my new favorite website, a gossip compendium if you will, Celebitchy.

Naturally, the lawyer nerd in me is coming out when it comes to considering the divorce issues. Ooh, she filed in New York. What does that mean? The one semester I took of family law 12 years ago isn't really doing me a lot of good right now. I suspect she's ok filing in New York, especially since I have a hard time imagining that her big, high-powered divorce attorneys would let her file somewhere she can't actually file.

I don't know (or don't remember) much about how religion can play into custodial disputes. I'm pretty well-versed in some First Amendment issues re: religion, but I don't know what courts really do when the fight between the two parents is which religion will win out. There are potential 1st Amend issues if a court overtly says, "Your religion is kooky, so you lose legal custody of your kid." But there has to be some leeway for considering potential harm to a child. And you've got to believe that if Tom and Katie really can't get along making a judge think that granting sole legal custody really is the best way to go, Tom's kooky religion has to make him look like the less appealing choice.

One thing I have seen is lots of speculation that Tom isn't really Suri's biological child followed by the idea that that will give Katie the upper hand in a custody battle. Or even that she can cut Tom out on that basis. This, I definitely remember from family law. At this point in Suri's life, it matters not one bit if Tom is her biological father. He is her legal father (barring some other thing we don't know). He can't get cut out of custody and visitation. And he can't get out of paying child support.

So, yeah, this what I have been spending my time on the past few days. 'Cause I'm awesome.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rants of the day

I have several rants in mind today.

1) It should be illegal to water lawns. Watering lawns is nothing more than vanity and is a waste of what we should start viewing as a precious resource. Watering food gardens, of course, is ok. But running sprinklers to keep your lawn looking perfect and green when farmers are wondering how they are going to keep their crops alive is not. I'd go so far as to say it's immoral.

2) I get crabby enough about people violating the law and setting off fireworks in my neighborhood in a normal year. They agitate my dog, which makes me not able to sleep. Because if she's barking until 2 am, I'm awake. And it does make me nervous to think that a stray spark could set my house on fire. Yes, I know the chances are very slim, but the fear of a house fire is strong in me. But this year, with these hot and uber-dry conditions, it will seriously piss me off when people do it. There isn't a burn ban in effect (yet), but even if there is, you know there will be plenty of jackasses who think the law is stupid, shouldn't apply to them, and they're entitled to do whatever the hell they want, no matter how dangerous it is or how disruptive it is to neighbors. Jerks.

3) Paying sales tax on food really is outrageous. I try really hard to stay within a budget. And I am the dork who wanders around the grocery store with a calculator out, making sure I stay on target. Every time I go to check out, it always comes as a shock when the register total is so much higher than my math. Because I pay roughly 8.5% sales tax. On food! On things like blueberries and eggs and tortillas and cheese. I'm not buying outrageous luxury items or unhealthy, processed food. (Ok, I did buy some ramen noodles and a can of refried beans, but the rest of my food choices are very healthy!) This is the only state I have ever lived in where I had to pay sales tax on food and it's outrageous.

4) I thought I was done with just these 3 rants, but ESPN has just started going out on my cable system. During the EuroCup final. Unacceptable, ESPN!!
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