Notes on the Devil’s Weed


After only five months in Idaho, WC was selected for jury duty by the good folks at the Ada County Court System. WC reported for duty on February 1, 2016, along with 40 of his fellow citizens. The case, the judge explained, involved a felony, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, an inference derived…

D.N.R.I.P. Cyber Ninjas, 2014-2022


Cyber Ninjas, the wholly unqualified computer security firm hired by the Arizona state senate to perform a wholly unnecessary audit of the Maricopa County, Arizona 2020 election, is going out of business. It leaves behind compromised election data, unpaid subcontractors, unperformed work, ongoing court fines and a laughably shoddy report, devastatingly rebutted by the Maricopa…

The Consequences of Greed


U.S. District Judge David Barlow – a Trump-appointed federal judge – killed the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to lease 59 parcels in Utah’s Uinta Basin for oil and gas development. His December 10 decision was a very near thing, and serves as a lesson in both the consequences of greed and the serious deficiencies…

Chesapeake Energy Logo

The True Cost of Carbon: Chesapeake Energy


Chesapeake Energy, the largest fracking company in the United States, is bankrupt. Chesapeake filed for Chapter 11 protection on June 28. The claimed reason for bankruptcy is some $9 billion in debt and the crash in natural gas prices. The real reasons are much more concerning. WC isn’t talking about the management follies. Under the…

Tales from Wasilla: The Book Burners Are Back


WC had intended to make this Tale from Wasilla about Shawn O’Shea-Grantham, who died recently while serving her prison sentence. But as appalling as Shawn O’Shea-Grantham’s story is, she’s been trumped (sorry) by the Mat-Su School Board and its 5-2 decision to ban five outstanding books from the tender eyes of Mat-Su high school students.1…

Associate Judge Todd E. Edelman, Superior Court of the District of Columbia

Law, Junk Science and Daubert


WC warns readers in advance we’re going to get pretty deep into law and science in this post. You might want to have a cup of coffee at hand. WC also warns readers that if you are fan of the CSI television series, you’re about to suffer a reality check. The law doesn’t deal with…

A Boise police officer stops his bike in front of homeless residents under the South 16th Street bridge in September 2014. (Photo credit: Idaho Statesman)

That’s $75,000 Pissed Away


The City of Boise has a homeless problem. Depending on who is counting, there are 120-150 homeless folks who shuttle between Boise’s limited number of shelter beds and the streets. Outgoing Mayor David Bieter tried to “solve” the problem by enforcing Boise’s long-standing, if unconstitutional, ordinances prohibiting folks from sleeping on the streets. Never mind…

A cloud of untruths, a fog of lies

Weaponizing Defamation


Defamation – slander, libel and false light – has its origins in Roman law, but American law of defamation came to us as a part of the British common law. Under the common law, truth is usually a defense to a claim of defamation. Fewer than half of the American states still have criminal defamation…

Marc Leder, left, and guests attend a 2015 benefit in the Hamptons. (Scott Roth/Invision/AP)

Sun Capital Is Scum: A Case Study


Mitt Romney looks pretty benign now, at least in comparison to the current clown sitting in the White House. But back when Romney was running for president, WC wrote a series of blog posts attempting to show just how dreadful Romney’s original line of work was: that leveraged buy-outs and Romney’s Bain Capital had done…

Bad Laws: Criminal Libel


There is no shortage of bad laws in America. For example in 23 states, libel – published defamation – is a serious crime, for example. In Idaho, criminal libel is punishable by a fine of $5,000 and 6 months in jail, with each publication  separate crime. It’s a stupid, dangerous, unconstitutional law and it needs…

Justin Schneider in court, photographer unknown

Some Notes on Justin Schneider


Justin Schneider, for readers outside of Alaska, is a 34-year old Eagle River, Alaska man. He assaulted an Alaska Native woman. He picked her up at a gas station in Midtown Anchorage, He told he’d drive her to her boyfriend’s house, Instead, he drove her to a secluded area, attacked her, choked her until she…

Congress: Let’s Have Another Thalidomide!


One of the most infuriating aspects of the Trump Administration’s roll-back of federal regulatory powers is the implied assumption that those laws and regulations exist for no reason. That’s dangerous nonsense. Those laws were passed in response to real, serious risks. The major revisions to the Food and Drug Administration laws and regulations in the…

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Punishing the Blue States


U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R, Opportunism) has announced the G.O.P. tax bill is “great” because it gets the federal government out of the business of subsidizing high tax states. Ryan said the rest of the country is “propping up profligate, big-government states.” He said, “States that got their act together are paying for states that didn’t.”…

Hammond Ranch at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

The Hammond Back Story


The Bundy boys seized Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, they said, to protest the U.S. government’s mistreatment of two ranchers, father and son Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr. and Steven Dwight Hammond. The Federal government, the Bundys claimed, had treated the Hammonds unfairly. Really? The Hammonds went to trial on two sets of charges.1 One involved a 2001…

Sessions' Swiss Cheese Memory

Laugh at Your Peril


Desiree Fairooz laughed out loud at Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R, Alabama) assertion that Senator Jeff Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” That was during Sessions’ confirmation hearing to be Attorney General. The Justice Department has announced it will retry Fairooz, who was arrested for her laughter during…

Retired Associated Justice John Paul Stevens (via WikiCommons)

Citizens United and Redflex: More Evidence SCOTUS Screwed Up


Justice John Paul Stevens’ dissent in Citizens United challenged the unspoken majority premise that campaign contributions from businesses wouldn’t corrupt the political process. The majority rejected the argument but the evidence continues to mount that the line between campaign contributions and bribes is too fuzzy to be safe. WC has written before about the Redflex Scandal. Redflex…

Software Patent Troll (Not to Scale)

Another Patent Troll Gets Slapped


WC has been railing against software patent trolls pretty much since this blog began, back in 2008.1 Especially software patent trolls. It’s a self-inflicted wound; noting in U.S. patent law requires computer software to receive a patent. It’s a result of case law, culminating in Diamond v. Diehr, where a software algorithm implementing the Arrhenius Equation…

Software Patent Troll (Not to Scale)

Patent Troll Update: Another One Bites the Dust


It’s been a while since WC excoriated a patent troll. There’s a company in East Texas – the jurisdiction famously most friendly to patent trolls – called eDekka, LLC. eDekka has exactly one asset: US Patent No. 6,266,674. The ‘674 patent was filed in 1992, and it was granted to a man named Donald Hejna in 2001. He assigned it to eDekka.…

Justice Antonin Scalia—a well known critic of affirmative action—suggested that the policy was hurting minority students by sending them to schools too academically challenging for them.

A Prayer for Antonin Scalia


Several readers are apparently outraged that WC could be so callous as to speak ill of the dead. And in particular the recently deceased U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Heh. All right. In a modest effort to be a little more charitable, a little more forgiving, WC will offer a prayer for Antonin Scalia. Specifically, in…

Justice Antonin Scalia—a well known critic of affirmative action—suggested that the policy was hurting minority students by sending them to schools too academically challenging for them.

Birding with Antonin Scalia


Yes, it’s true. WC and Mrs .WC went birding in Fairbanks with the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. A few months after he joined in the supreme court decision that stole the presidency from Vice President Al Gore.1 And we let him live. It happened like this. The Alaska Bar Convention was in Fairbanks that…

WC Is Always Willing to Help Republicans Better Grasp Reality

Alaska’s Megaprojects and the Sunk Cost Fallacy


Charles Wohlforth had a nice opinion piece in the Alaska Dispatch News recently, discussing one of Alaska’s failed megaprojects, the Point MacKenzie Rail Extension Project. At this point, Wohlforth shows, it is a hideously expensive bike path. But it offers WC an irresistible opportunity to provide the Republican Majority caucus of the Alaska Legislature with an object lesson…

Photo by U.S. Coast Guard

Deepwater Horizon: Where Is the Outrage?


The criminal negligence of British Petroleum killed 11 people on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. If you need a refresher on this point, read the excellent New York Times article chronicling the events surrounding the disaster or look at the trial court’s decision in the civil case. Driven by corporate greed –…

Dangerous Computer Hacker or Childish Prank?

Aaron’s Law – A Law We Need


The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was passed in 1986. It has a very, very broad definition of “hacking,” one that is so broad that it has triggered some very serious prosecutorial abuse. For example, in 2011, a security researcher named Andrew Auernheimer was arrested, then tried and convicted under CFAA for “hacking.” What…