October 17, 2006

Four legal stories.

1. Ken Lay's conviction was overturned. And don't think, oh, he's dead so he can't enjoy the victory. He won because he's dead.

2. Wesley Snipes was indicted for tax fraud -- failing to pay almost $12 million. He could face 16 years in prison, but the authorities don't know where he is. Perhaps we'll never see him again.

3. Madonna defends herself, saying she "acted according to the law." Ah, well, not good enough. Here you are trying to look like a beneficent humanitarian, and all you can say is you followed the law.

4. A man is accused of trying to kill his wife with a latex glove -- not by strangling her with it, but by putting his gloved hand in her mouth knowing she's allergic to latex. In thinking about whether he had the requisite murderous intent, please take into account that he shouted: "By the power of Grayskull!"

48 comments:

Sanjay said...

Maybe Snipes will pull a Polanski?

Lordy, lordy me, all you folks who didn't click though to the link on #4 -- go back and do it or you're way missing out. I feel dirty, but it's a good dirty.

Christopher Althouse said...

I don't see how anyone can legitimately criticize Madonna's actions, unless they think she did not follow the law. The idea that she should write the father a check as a substitute for adopting is absurd. Writing a check, to that man or to charity groups in the area, will not magically solve their problems anytime soon. This is a country filled with disease, with no real education, and even if you gave them the money to take care of these problems, they would not be able to solve them successfully for generations. The father has said very clearly that he wants the child to be adopted, and with good reason. She's doing a great thing by taking a baby out of these horrible conditions and giving him opportunity in life that he would never be able to find in Malawi. People who make the argument we keep hearing about this are living in a fantasy world in which rich people could solve all the world's poverty problems by writing out checks. I'm shocked by the reaction Madonna's getting, and afraid for what this "outcry" could mean for adoptions in general. Adoption is a wonderful thing and should be encouraged; people who do great things for developing countries should not be insulted for doing so. When was the last time any of you who are critizing Madonna over this did something for the children of Malawi? If the boy Madonna is adopting were left in Malawi, regardless of whether or not Madonna wrote his father a check, he would live a horrible life with little opportunity, and frankly, he would probably contract HIV at a young age--regardless of the millions of dollars in charity Madonna is giving to the country. If Madonna gave up and allowed online bickering about the issue to send the boy back to Malawi, she would be dooming him to a terrible life just for the sake of PR, which seems to be what many of you think she should do.

Dave said...

So what about Lynne Stewart being sentenced to only 28 months?

As for Snipes--he'd snap the handcuffs right off, so I don't think he has too much to worry about. He's Blade, after all!

And, if that doesn't stop them, remember, also, White Men Can't Jump; therefore he'll jump over the prison walls.

Eli Blake said...

What the Lay verdict means is that a lot of people who gave Ken Lay years of sweat and hard work and lost everything they had for it, won't even have a claim on his estate. He screwed them real, real hard.

Ron said...

"By the power of Greyskull?"
Wow is he gonna be BooBoo Bear to somebody's Yogi in The Big House!

John Salmon said...

Mr. Latex (if you read the story) makes Charle Manson look like St. Francis of Asissi.

Pogo said...

The victim of the latex glove called herself "Salacious Squirrel" in the chatroom.

Bondage squirrels?

Sanjay said...

CA, I'm not one to pooh-pooh Madonna's efforts to do good, and she certainly seems to deserve praise not condemnation (at least, for this) but that seems unfair. I can think of two lines of reasoning against it.

Firstly, in some sense it seems to me that the kid "belongs to" the state, not the dad -- after all the state can come in and take away your kid if you treat him/her badly. And the people of Malawi have clearly decided they'd like you to try to raise children as one of them, within their culture, and I'm hesitant to bite at that. So they want you not to adopt unless you've been there a while and (presumably) thereby acquired some ties to the country and knowledge of its ways. I think that's sorta kinda reasonable: it's not entirely about the kid, it's about the people of whom he is one. Maybe from their perspective, better another poor Malawian than a disconnected emigre? I guess I _would_ like Madonna to've arranged, say, frequent visits with/alone time with the father in this circumstance, and see the father preserve some control -- and somehow that option lies somewhere between full-on adopting the child and just giving the dad checks, no? And certainly she has the resources to pull off a trick like that.

Secondly, man, there's a real danger here, it seems to me. I know a couple people who've adopted orphans from the third world, and, it's a noble and good thing. But here there is a parent who seems to love the kid, but is resource deprived -- I mean, ugh. It's just a paradigm for where you get your children that frightens me. I mean, almost any child, anywhere in the third world -- even with two living parents --- might live a better, healthier life in the West. And maybe any parent would therefore choose that for their children. But it's not a choice I'd like to see a lot of Westerners offering; that's a pretty cruel game. Maybe that goes back to point #1 -- the Malawians come in as a people and say, look, parents, I know you want material comfort for your children, but we're going to come in and put a necessary backstop there.

Pogo said...

Re: Madonna:

1. Man, talk about colonialism!
2. If superor wealth trumps all, let's just cut off parental rights below incomes of, say, $14K annually. Worldwide.
3. Why does the rest of the world hate us? Because we can take their kids away with a little cash.

George said...
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George said...

In England (if that is M's legal residence), how do prospective adoptive parents prove their competence?

In the U.S., courts require that the parents submit to multiple home visits by a social worker who then files a report to judge. Doesn't that mean the moral character of the parents is within the court's purview? Certainly alcoholism and use of illegal drugs would bar the adoptive parent.

In her book "Sex," Ms. Ciccione is depicted....ah....well... visit Wikipedia....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_(book)

How does someone who simulates sex with a....[I feel much better now that I've vomited]...get custody of a baby?

Revenant said...

How does someone who simulates sex with a....[I feel much better now that I've vomited]...get custody of a baby?

Good point. The last thing we want is babies raised by people who've had sex. If virginal parenting was good enough for Jesus then by god it's good enough for America.

Seriously, though -- what did Madonna do wrong here? She tried to adopt a kid and it turned out the kid had a living relative. So either she gives the kid back or she adopts him anyway, but in either case I don't see how the relative deserves any money. Sure, he *needs* money, but so do two billion people in the third world.

chuck b. said...

Unlike Brangelina, Madonna's like a virgin when it comes to adopting African babies. She's just trying to express herself and now she has to justify her love. I think it's great adoption is so vogue, but I think it's reasonable to make sure she hasn't crossed the legal borderline.

Madonna inspires us to dig deeper and deeper into our own hearts and look beyond the material world we live in. Madonna's not a bad girl; she's a ray of light. I hope she doesn't get hung up on this.

Mortimer Brezny said...

You know, there are plenty of black kids in the United States requiring adoption. Maybe Madonna should take a trip to Detroit. Or, better yet, she should adopt Wesley Snipes and pay his damn taxes.

reader_iam said...

You know, there are plenty of black kids in the United States requiring adoption.

Isn't that still a little controversial, in the sense that there's pushback and fairly sharp criticism over the concept and practice?

I haven't made up my mind (and really haven't taken real time to truly research and ponder) on what does appear to be a modest trend in splashy international adopting.

But Mortimer's comment has certainly brought up a couple of--avenues? parallels? intersections? questions? Well, whatever. Interesting implications.

dave said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
reader_iam said...

in some sense it seems to me that the kid "belongs to" the state, not the dad

Not personally intended, Sanjay, but that idea really, really chills me, and on number of levels, not the least of which philosophically.

stories like this can help explain why some are morally dead set against legitimizing same-sex unions, specifically same-sex adoptions

Seems a stretch to me to linke this with the topic at hand, at least as stated, Derve.

reader_iam said...

Dave:

This is the problem, looking retrospectively, with your so frequently and relatively indiscriminately whipping out "brownshirt" and etc. etc.

Because when you then employ them with reference to a statement or argument that really does seem to be gratuitous to the discussion and out to lunch in relationship tothe argument, your words don't really carry very impact.

Ho hum, Boy Crying Wolf again.

JohnF said...

A. Is this the beginning of the long awaited Althouse casebook on oddities of the law?

B. Is "Dave" really necessary here?

nedludd said...

"By the power of Greyskull?"

I can't be the only one who thought that was just an odd editorial comment by the hostess until I linked through, right?

dklittl said...

Christopher,

I've historically been a big fan of Madonna, and have no problem with her crazy psycho politics either, but I can't help be a little cynical about the adoption. It seems just a bit to contrived and opportunistic, as if people are using Foreign children like the bite-sized dogs as the newest celebrity accessory. I've always been big on adoption, and I applaud people how are willing to take someone else's child as their own, but time will tell if this was real or just opportunistic.

A family friend of mine adopted a kid awhile back and after 9 months sent him back, like he was some animal at the shelter, so personally I'm cautious about praising her in the short term, when it seems like such a P.R. stunt. I can only hope that she is doing what's best for that child and not her future record sales.

George said...

Revenant--

I wrote: How does someone who simulates sex with a....[I feel much better now that I've vomited]...get custody of a baby?

You wrote: Good point. The last thing we want is babies raised by people who've had sex...

I agree: The last thing we want is babies raised by a person who's had simulated oral sex with a dog and had the photo (or photos) published globally.

That's what it says on the Wiki page I provided the link for.....

She's a monster.

Troy said...

dave... you need help. Maybe you need to blow some stuff out of your ass? Like that corncob?

As for Wesley Snipes -- ALWAYS bet on black.

Anonymous said...

The reason I would critisize Madona here (if I were so inclined; I generally feel like I have better things to do with my time), I would say that there are probably many other kids who don't have someone looking out for them in that country who would be better off getting adopted.

Of course, there's no accounting for taste; evidently she and the kid really hit it off...however, I question how long it will take for Madona to get bored and move on to a different hobby. I would have rather seen her 'adopt' the boy and his father, moving both closer to her, or moving closer to them, so that she could have a relationship with the kid still, and the kid would be able to be with his father.

However, this doesn't seem like anything close to earthshaking importance...

and, Dave, where did that quote come from? And where did you come from? Is there any problem with reacting to distastful comments with civility? That is, of course, what separates hicks and bigots from cultured people, at least somewhat. Your concern is appreciated, but if you spoke more eloquently, more people who disagree with you would listen, instead of shutting you out.

Doug said...

Since I really don't know Madonna's intent , her seriousness in this matter, or what is in her heart, I am not qualified to speak to her specifically. But I do fear that adopting a poor kid from overseas will become a Hollywood trend like adopting a vietnamese potbellied pig was ten years ago. Once the pigs grew up, they weren't as cute or easy to deal with as when they were young. Flighty celebs often get involved in fads like cocaine, Kaballah or AIDS ribbons, but there is little harm when a celeb becomes disinterested in these things. It is beyond obvious that an adoptor needs to be committed for the long haul.

There are rumours that Britney wants an impoverished little adopted kid of her own. So maybe Madonna can and will pull this off, but B list celebs may see this as the thing to do and not have the follow through required to raise a kid.

Revenant said...

I agree: The last thing we want is babies raised by a person who's had simulated oral sex with a dog and had the photo (or photos) published globally.

Oh, *that's* what you were talking about. It wasn't clear from your first post -- the wikipedia page mentions quite a few potentially objectionable things. "Simulated oral sex with a dog" is an overwrought way of describing the picture in question, which is here. Given that the dog's head is nowhere near her genitals and she's still wearing panties, it is hard to see how this qualifies as "simulated sex" of any kind, oral or otherwise. I would also suggest that if that picture makes you vomit, you are perhaps more than a bit oversensitive.

She's a monster.

Now that's just silly.

bill said...

Wesley Snipes has had a few odd news stories in the past. Back in 2000, he was in the news for his possible involvement in the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, a cult based in Georgia.

Freeman Hunt said...

So there you are in the third world. You have a kid. You can't feed him or care for him. It breaks your heart, but you take him to the orphanage and hope that he ends up with a nice family. If not, at least the people at the orphanage will feed him. Later, outrageously wealthy celebrities show up in your country, adopt your child, and wisk him away to live a life of endless opportunity and luxury. The world is now his oyster. Is this not an ideal sort of outcome for the parent who gave up his parental rights?

She didn't take him away from his father--his father had already given him up.

We can wring our hands over third world adoptions all we want. Meanwhile every kid who gets adopted by a celebrity is winning the lottery.

Jim H said...

What the Lay verdict means is that a lot of people who gave Ken Lay years of sweat and hard work and lost everything they had for it, won't even have a claim on his estate. He screwed them real, real hard.

Anyone who had a claim against Lay can proceed against his estate. A criminal conviction tends to make liability easier to prove, but it certainly isn't necessary.

That's not to suggest that there's enough to repay those people.

Maxine Weiss said...

"When was the last time any of you who are critizing Madonna over this did something for the children of Malawi?" --Christopher

Oh my goodness. So self-righteous.

We don't need to lift a finger for the children of Malawi, because we have enough problems in our own backyard.

That's where the criticism is coming from. Idiots like Madonna who turn a blind eye to the suffering in their midst, and run off to some far-off nightmare thousands-millions of miles away to do not a bit of good, except get some more needless, shameless publicity.

Christopher, charity begins at home...not millions of miles away. If you can't get it together in your own backyard, how you gonna go fix someone else's?

Billie Holliday: "Back in your own Backyard"---love that song!

Peace, Maxine

Freeman Hunt said...

If you can't get it together in your own backyard, how you gonna go fix someone else's?

Every kid deserves a family, but I would bet that being an orphan in the United States is a much better lot than being an orphan just about anywhere else. I see no problem with people adopting children from developing countries.

Christopher Althouse said...
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Christopher Althouse said...

Maxine: Malawi is the second poorest country in the world. Their problems are a lot worse than ours. Your argument seems to be that, until everything is absolutely perfect in our own country, we should not only do nothing about problems in other countries but actually denounce those who try help developing nations. That seems highly questionable, and the empty accusation of self-righteousness (I'm not personally claiming to have helped anyone at all) doesn't help your cause. Even if you think, rightly or wrongly, that charity would be better spent (or should only be spent) in one's own country, who are you to trash those who put their efforts into aiding parts of Africa?

freeman hunt: Exactly. Adopting a child from a country with severe problems--like Malawi--saves them from a future much worse than being a poor orphan here or in Britain.

reader_iam said...

think if you listen closely, you're currently hearing the pushback and fairly sharp criticisms that make international adoptions "still a little controversial" too in some circles.

Boy, you really missed the point, didn't you?

And I don't know that international adoptions, in general, are particularly controversial anymore. They happen relatively regularly among non-celebrity types.

Derve said...

"Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development," said the Nobel Committee, announcing its Peace Prize.

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Bangladeshi microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their work in advancing economic and social opportunities for the poor, particularly women. The economist and the bank he founded will share the prize. They were cited for their efforts to help "create economic and social development from below" in their home country by using innovative economic programs such as microcredit lending.

Helping "from below". This man is a true hero. Some of you might look into the lives of children adopted by Hollywood stars in earlier eras, or the fate of people who have won the lottery. It's not all good things the money brings.

No matter the education or material goods, a child knowing his loving father, extended family, and his own culture are priceless. You can't discount this, even if you approve of the adoption. I hope the family wishes are honored and David is raised Christian and knowledgeable about Malawi. I also hope he gets to see his biological father often and benefits from the man's influence.

I suspect some here are manipulating the facts, not truly acknowledging the father's situation, in order to make Madonna more a hero:

"A simple man, he spends his days tending a tiny vegetable garden, caring for a handful of scrawny goats and growing maize, which he sells in local markets. To make extra money he carves wooden handles for hoses, axes and other tools used by subsistence farmers like himself. Around him run ragged children. Everyone here is poor beyond the imagination of most Westerners.

Lipunga, the village where he lives has no electricity or lavatories and baths are pits dug on the outskirts of the settlement. Children, clad in rags, are covered in the red dirt that blows over the mountain range from Zambia, their faces smothered with the remains of dried food.

There are no obvious signs of hunger, but nor is there any indication that anyone here owns anything of any value.

Yohane's 56-year-old mother, Athnet Mwale, explained: "No-one here could take care of David. He needed good milk and nutrition. We are too poor even to properly feed ourselves.

"When we sent him away it wasn't because we did not want him. It was because we could not look after him."

Now Yohande's younger brother Jeffrey and other family members have written a letter to the orphanage protesting that David could be taken out of the country by a "rich white donor". It pleads that the baby must be brought up "knowing his Malawian culture".

Yohane told how David had been in the orphanage since his mother died. The intention was that he would one day return to live at home.
******

Meanwhile Yohane still struggles to come to terms with what he has done. He says he has received no money in connection with the adoption of his child, but there is a sense that this committed Christian, who sang with his late wife in the local church choir, has a niggling suspicion that what has happened is not right.

Certainly he has never behaved like a man who willingly abandoned his son. For the past nine months he has visited his son whenever he could - regularly cycling the 25 miles from his home in the village to the orphanage along treacherous dirt and stone tracks more suited to rugged four wheel drive vehicles.

He said: "I would bring him food from my garden, then sit and play with him for a while. I wanted him to know that I was his father, that I love him very much. He is my only child still living and I think of him as a gift from God. He is also the best memory I have left of my wife."
*************
Inter-country adoption is only allowed if the prospective parent can show the child "has broken all ties with their original family.
But while David's mother died shortly after giving birth, his father Yohame, 32, is alive - as are his extended family, including uncles and grandmother.

Malawi rarely allows its children abroad. Total figures for adoption last year: To the US 3 To the UK 0

Derve said...

I suspect the schools don't assign Steinbeck's The Pearl anymore.

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J said...

"Anyone who had a claim against Lay can proceed against his estate. A criminal conviction tends to make liability easier to prove, but it certainly isn't necessary"

I think what Eli was referring to was that Lay moved all his assets into "homestead" property, and in Texas (whose laws in that realm are unlike any other state) a criminal conviction will be required to get at them.

For anyone familiar with Texas law, will the original conviction suffice to let plaintiffs make a legal claim, since the dismissal isn't really an acquittal?

vegetius said...

"Now the rich can order their children
from Africa in three days...just liking getting Omaha Steaks"

George said...

Rev-

I'm not going to look at the picture you so kindly posted a link to. That's the whole point--Madonna is a malignant narcissist, the Kim Jong Il of pop stars. She's a cultural terrorist. She wants to pull everyone down in the gutter with her, and she wants us to look at her wallowing and argue about how dirty (or not) she is.

The question is--If you stood up in court during an adoption proceeding and presented evidence that a potential mother had been photographed performing as many bizarre, creepy, depraved, and, yes, blasphemous acts as Madonna, would any U.S. judge give her custody of a child?

I'd love to hear a lawyer telling a judge what you've posted above..."Given that the dog's head is nowhere near her genitals and she's still wearing panties" your honor, it's clearly not beastiality, and, your honor, I have a good explanation for the 300 other so-called perverted photographs in the book, too....

tjl said...

"For anyone familiar with Texas law, will the original conviction suffice to let plaintiffs make a legal claim, since the dismissal isn't really an acquittal?"

Judge Lake's ruling vacates Lay's conviction and dismisses the indictments against him. The consequences are 1) no criminal forfeiture of Lay's assets and 2) the criminal conduct for which Lay was convicted won't be res judicata in a civil action against the estate.

The ruling does nothing to bar the filing of a civil action. It simply means that plaintiffs will have to prove Lay's wrongdoing all over again.

As a relic of agrarian times, Texas law is debtor-friendly and protects homestead property from judgment creditors. It also protects your livestock, poultry, and guns, just in case you were looking for other creative ways to thwart your creditors.

J said...

"The ruling does nothing to bar the filing of a civil action. It simply means that plaintiffs will have to prove Lay's wrongdoing all over again"

I know the dismissal knocks out the claim by the feds. As for ex-Enron employees or others who would like to sue, under Texas law do they have to have a conviction, or is proving criminal activity, even in the absence of a conviction, sufficient for a judgement taking homestead property? Does evidence from or derived from Lay's trial exist for purposes of a civil action?

tjl said...

The Texas Rules of Evidence provide that a judgment of conviction is admissible in a later proceeding to prove any fact essential to sustain the judgment.

Since the judgment has been set aside, the conviction itself is not admissible. Testimony by Lay himself at his criminal trial could be admitted as a hearsay exception at a civil trial since Lay is now unavailable. Testimony at the criminal trial by Lay's underlings or co-conspirators could be admitted at a civil trial as admissions by a party-opponent.

A criminal conviction is not a prerequisite to a civil suit by claimants against Lay's estate. The Lays' homestead (a highrise condo) should still be exempt.

JodyTresidder said...

George,
I don't understand your facetious comment: "I'd love to hear a lawyer telling a judge what you've posted above..."Given that the dog's head is nowhere near her genitals and she's still wearing panties" your honor, it's clearly not beastiality..."

If someone produced a similar snap of you as a dog lover in your yard in your boxers (that is, not in your Boxers!) - wouldn't you wish your lawyer to argue it wasn't evidence of beastiality?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Even if you think, rightly or wrongly, that charity would be better spent (or should only be spent) in one's own country, who are you to trash those who put their efforts into aiding parts of Africa?

Someone offended by the shameless publicity Madonna is reaping to further her flagging career.

If Madonna were concerned with aiding Africa in its recovery from colonialism, or neo-colonialism, or whatever vogue theory of the week, there are plenty of impoverished slave descendants in her own country.

Even ignoring black kids in this country, there are better and easier ways to help Africa or Africans. Madonna could easily have greater impact by becoming a U.N. ambassador like Bono, Nicole Kidman, or Angelina Jolie.

The only difference between kidnapping a black kid from Africa and helping one down the block is the lack of publicity -- in other words, profit.

We're criticizing the obvious profit-motive and the obvious insincerity of Madonna's actions. What should be obvious to anyone is that this isn't an act of charity, because the benefit to Madonna, by millions of dollars, outweighs the cost of the act. She doesn't care about Africans, or Africa, or black kids, or changing the world.

She's a vapid, self-absorbed pop star looking to make a quick buck and willing to exploit black orphans to do it. Criticizing exploitation is a moral obligation.

Revenant said...

Rev- I'm not going to look at the picture you so kindly posted a link to

Then I don't give a rat's ass what your opinion of it is, as you are by your own admission uninterested in actually knowing what the heck you're talking about.

The question is--If you stood up in court during an adoption proceeding and presented evidence that a potential mother had been photographed performing as many bizarre, creepy, depraved, and, yes, blasphemous acts as Madonna, would any U.S. judge give her custody of a child?

If the person testifying that the acts were bizarre, creepy, depraced, and blasphemous admitted to not actually having witnessed any of the acts in question? You betcha. :)

And by the way, any judge who denies someone an adoption the the grounds of blasphemy is deserving of impeachment and criminal prosecution. This isn't Iran.

Maxine Weiss said...

"Malawi is the second poorest country in the world. Their problems are a lot worse than ours."--Christopher Althouse Cohen

(OK, then our problems oughta be a cinch to solve, by now.)

"...denounce those who try help developing nations."---Christopher Althouse Cohen

(Um, no I denounce those who engage in shameless self-promotion and ridiculous publicity stunts)

"... who are you to trash those who put their efforts into aiding parts of Africa?"---Christopher Althouse Cohen

Again, I'm not trashing anyone, I'm simply pointing out that another morally bankrupt celebrity has engaged in a sick and depraved, self-serving scheme to pump up her record sales while simultaneously keeping her name in print.

And even if I were trashing her, who better? I'm a member of the Public, she's a Public Figure. Public Figures are meant to be trashed. That's what we, the Public, do.

Christopher, who should be allowed to trash celebrities?

Meanwhile there's plenty of poor little brown-skinned babies in the good 'ol USA that are ready for her to adopt.



Peace, Maxine

Chris said...

the great thing about number 4 is, i know who it is IRL :D ahaha MY FRIENDS MUM