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Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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Pushing the Personhood Envelope

California activist Jonathan Frieman finally got his day in court in January, but a Marin County judge quickly rejected his argument that he is entitled to use the state's carpool lanes accompanied only by a sheaf of corporate papers in the passenger seat. (During the 2012 Republican primaries, Mitt Romney famously asserted a corporation's general right under the law to be treated as a "person.") The judge decided that the state legislature's carpool law was intended only to reduce traffic clutter and that driving with no passenger except corporate papers was unrelated to that goal. Frieman told reporters that he had been carrying the papers around for years, hoping to be challenged.

Cultural Diversity

China's national legislature passed a law in December to establish that people have a duty to visit their aged parents periodically. China's rapid urbanization has not developed nursing homes and similar facilities to keep pace with the population, and sponsors of the law said it would give the parents a legal right to sue their children for ignoring them.

Latest Religious Messages

God and Shoes: Dublin, Ireland, inventor David Bonney recently decided to change the marketing of his new shoes to "Atheist Shoes." Two years earlier, he had started the business with the idea of selling "Christian" shoes that contained water in the soles so that wearers could walk on water.

Questionable Judgments

  • Four days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., officials at Public School 79 in New York City decided it would be a good time for a full-blown lockdown drill—with no advance warning. Though P.S. 79 is a high school and not an elementary school, it is composed of about 300 students with special needs (autism, cerebral palsy, severe emotional disorders) who, with their teachers, were startled to hear the early-morning loudspeaker blaring, "Shooter, get out, get out, lockdown!" One adult said it took her about five minutes to realize that it was only a drill. Still, said another, "It was probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life."

  • In November, Tokyo's Kenichi Ito, 29, bested his own Guinness World Record by a full second (down to 17.47 seconds) in the 100-meter dash—on all fours. Ito runs like the Patas monkey, which he has long admired, and which (along with his self-described monkey-like face) inspired him nine years ago to take up "four-legged" running. He reported trouble only once, when he went to the mountains to train and was shot at by a hunter who mistook him for a wild boar.

Perspective

Generally, clients are held to account for their lawyers' errors because the lawyers are their "agents," but death row inmates might be treated differently, for they usually do not select or pay for their lawyers—and because the stakes are so high. Alabama, though, looks at the problem unsympathetically, according to a January New York Times report. When an Alabama death row inmate misses an appeals-filing deadline only because of his/her lawyer's error (in murder client Ronald Smith's case, only because lawyer C. Wade Johnson was an often-incapacitated methamphetamine addict), the client forgoes the appeal. The Smith case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Alabama also remains the only state in which judges overrule juries and impose the death penalty instead of life in prison.

Readers' Choice

Donald Blood III, 55, was charged with DUI in December in Dorset, Vt., after driving into a yard, thinking it was a parking lot. It was actually historic property: the 1852 home in which Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was born and which is "a place of sanctuary where people can come to give thanks to God for their new lives."          
 
© 2013 Chuck Shepherd     

 

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