Thursday, August 31, 2006

Local legal news

In the near future, the shooting death of Bradley Horton will be presented to a grand jury to assess whether the NY State Trooper acted in a criminal fashion.

Basically, whatever happens, someone will be howling in the press. If the trooper is indicted, though, I fear that it will be played in the regional press as if this is a whole enclave of Bucky-lovers who despise the police and the implication will be facts played no role in the jury deliberations. Alternately, if the trooper is not indicted (which seems likely and possibly justified given initial reports from the scene), the local and vocal will be garnering headlines.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Following up on Jeffs story

Unrelated to the Jeffs story in many ways, but having a common Con Law theme in my head, is this recent ABC News story of Mary Byler. Raised in an Amish family, she was repeatedly raped by her brothers. Unable to find help within her family or community, she went to the authorities outside the Amish community, which is apparently a worse transgression than rape and child abuse.

Phillips Update

Apparently, Phillips has been linked to a theft at a Southern Tier gun shop and is now believed by the State Troopers to have an arsenal at hand. I have some of my normal cynical skepticism on the claim that he's made threats since the robbery, since (1) that seems out of character from his previous actions in the area and (2) it implies the police are in some sort of contact with him or those near to him. Then again, I don't believe anything until I see it explained in mindnumbing detail.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today's Salacious News

News outlets are reporting the arrest of Warren Jeffs, the leader of a polygamist branch of the Mormon church. Jeffs is wanted in relation to various matters involving the forced marriage of underage/teenage girls/women to older men.

Now that the Karr news fizzled out, this story will probably be the latest to catch the public eye. Sex sells, after all. Add in the stories of dissident/expelled church members alleging young men were forced out in order for older men to claim the younger women, and there's the start of dramatic headlines good for at least a week of coverage.

Rural Crime: Timber Theft

Many urbanites don't know that there is such a thing as "timber theft" or that trees not only have significant value as a commodity, but can be relatively easy to steal. Jamestown-area Assemblyman William Parment has long been a backer of legislation to stiffen the penalties, including sponsoring the legislation mentioned in the article linked above. Prior to the 2004 amendment, which I also worked on tangentially from the private sector, the last amendment was in the early 1900s and capped the recovery by the owner at something like $10 per tree. For reference, individual trees can have a value in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Monday, August 28, 2006

No DNA Match

News from Colorado indicates that Karr's DNA doesn't match foreign DNA found at murder scene. Lesson in not rushing to judgment likely to be ignored by media.

ETA: the People's motion to quash the arrest warrant, detailing the State's reasoning leading to said warrant.

Karr and Lawyers

Recent story offered for your amusement and/or consternation. It seems there's trouble brewing with regard to who will represent the accused in the current legal headline du jour.

Downtown Jamestown

The Post-Journal ran a recent article on some of the proposed developments, and their hurdles, in downtown Jamestown.

I'd prefer a little more investigation and fact behind the article, but then again, it is the P-J. Left out of this article is a mention of the deteriorating condition of some properties, especially the 3rd/Cherry building mentioned, and the lack of maintenance and upkeep. Property seems to be treated like stocks around here--dump in some money and let it sit until it turns a profit--regardless of the necessary steps to keep the area from being an eyesore.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Elderly Drivers

Driving is a privilege, not a right, but it seems that legislators continually ignore the mistakes of a large voting bloc and focus on younger drivers as the cause of all ills.

Yesterday in Rochester, an 89 year old man drove his Subaru into a bunch of market stalls at the Rochester farmers market when, he claims, his foot slipped. 10 people were injured, mainly by moving/flying debris. But with demonstrated remorse like this, how can you take away someone's license? (/saracasm)

"The lawyers are going to be all over this tomorrow," he said from his house in Canandaigua. "(They'll say) everyone was under my car."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Away from my desk.

Briefly out of town. I have a couple ideas for posts that might be worked on over the weekend. That's right, substantive content and not just righteous indignation. Keep an eye out for it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Specialized Courts

There seems to be a move to focus parts of the criminal court system onto specific issues, in order to prevent a more holistic answer than repeated jail sentences. Drug Court is one such example, where nonviolent offenders can stay out of jail and receive treatment for addictions. There has also been talk locally of a Mental Health Court, a similar model where the cause of problems (often overlapping with addiction) is mental illness. Amherst, near Buffalo, also has a Gambling Court.

Today's NY Times has a good story on a "quality of life" court in Brooklyn. This model seems to have several benefits over the traditional specialized court. For one, it sorts out minor offenses and reduces the docket load in traditional criminal court. As well, this court has more time to devote to the minor offenses, instead of loud stereos being blown off while the court takes a break from arraigning murderers and theives. The informality as described by the Times also seems more conducive to reaching defendants.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Preferential Treatment

A story that was in the news recently. Two youths convicted of causing a personal injury accident by placing a decoy deer in the road given 60 days in juvenile detention, but then allowed to remain out to play football. The judge, as quoted in this article, based the decision to delay the beginning of the sentence on the positive effects of football. Sounds to me like one positive effect is escaping responsibility.

Phillips Update

Today's Post-Journal reports that Ralph Phillips narrowly eluded troopers and that three people were arrested for aiding his escape from police.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mortgage Fraud and other crimes

In a 1992 article, Robert Palano was named as the "worst slumlord" in Buffalo and his various drug and tax arrests noted, in addition to the deplorable state of the 90+ properties he owned or controlled in Buffalo. 14 years later, he's still at it, as news just filtered down to me that he recently pleaded to two felonies as part of an investigation by the AG's office into mortgage peculiarities.

Of course, had this occured in Jamestown he'd be lauded as a visionary businessmen and his tenants blamed for the problem.

Court of Appeals

As discussed briefly a few days ago, Judge Eugene Pigott, Jr., has been nominated by Gov. Pataki to the Court of Appeals. Pigott is currently the top judge in the appellate court for WNY/Southern Tier.

Today's NY Times

Today's Times has an interesting (also: disturbing, appalling) article about the growth of websites featuring children in erotic poses, in an attempt to circumvent child pornography laws.

The article contains a brief and straightforward discussion about the relevant test a court would apply, including case names, which is unusual to find in a non-law publication.

To the Jamestown Lawyer, as someone with an interest in First Amendment law, this article is something I'd have loved to use as a start for a discussion in a Con Law class. With Justice Potter Stewart's famous quote in mind, the tests discussed in the article involve "seeing it" and forming an opinion that is at least subconsciously subjective. While it's seemingly a no-brainer to everyone but the people raking in the cash that these sites are child pornography, what about the same images and subscription sites with a 16 year old? What is she is physically indistinguishable from someone who is 18 or 21? What if someone isn't arrested for subscribing to a commercial site, but because of downloaded images from something like Myspace, posted by the teenager herself? What if the person in the photos appears a teen, but lists her age at "99" on Myspace and there's no other indicator of age? Those are just a series of hypotheticals off the top of my head which I would pose in a class, to show how this area of law relies so much on personal interpretation of the situation. It's an interesting area of law that I'm sure will see some more attention, if this Times article is any indication.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Proper Pleading Procedures

Civil Practice Law and Rules section 2101(d) states that the attorney issuing papers must sign the papers and include an address and telephone number. If a party is not represented by counsel, the party is to include this information. Improprieties are presumed waived unless the receiving party returns the papers in two days or less with a "statement of particular objections." (CPLR 2101(f)). Defects are to be disregarded if a substantial right of a party is not prejudiced. do I return papers to complain about the lack of an address or telephone number if the papers don't include an address or telephone number? How do I serve responsive pleadings, which I think a fairly substantial right of the respondent, without an address or telephone number? There's some circular logic at work here.

The State Court System

Hon. Eugene Pigott, the presiding judge on the 4th Department, is reported by the Buffalo News to be the leading contender to the Court of Appeals.

New York has a somewhat unique system for selecting state court judges. The lowest level general state court, the Supreme Court, theoretically has a branch in every county. However, judges are elected in multi-county judicial districts and then assigned within the district. Supreme Court justices are elected for 14 year terms.

There are four intermediate level appellate courts, the Appellate Division(s) of the Supreme Court. The multitude of judicial districts are grouped into four departments and each department has an appellate court. The judges on these courts are appointed by the Governor from the existing body of Supreme Court judges. So Judge Pigott, for example, is elected from the 8th Judicial District but instead of hearing cases in the District, sits on the Appellate Division for the Fourth Department.

The top court in New York is the Court of Appeals. Judges of this court sit in fourteen year terms. However, these are all appointed positions and it is not required that one be a sitting Supreme Court justice to become a Court of Appeals judge.

This brief summary leaves out Family Court and Surrogate Court judge, state judges elected and assigned within an individual county, and ignores the overlapping duties/offices that often occur in less populated areas (ie, Cattaragus County has two judges who share the duties of County Court/Family Court/Surrogate's Court, or, ie, the Chautauqua County Surrogate is also an Acting Supreme Court Justice, handling divorce cases.)

LSC: Necessary Costs

The chairman of the Legal Services Corp. has responded to charges that the board/execs were spending outrageously. (As profiled in a post earlier this week.)

I'm of a mixed mind on this one, to insert some unsolicited editorializing. The sort of people who end up on a national governing board, even a public interest one, generally are used to a certain lifestyle. At the same time, this is public money. At the same time, to respond to myself, people generally have a kneejerk reaction to any spending of public money without considering value received for the dollar, which makes me try to hesitate and analyze this mess. There's also the kneejerk reaction from within the legal services community that any federal question is just an opening gambit before attempts to cut/dismantle the civil legal services programs entirely.

As someone who has some experience with the LSC, I think the regulators need to focus less on the waste of a few thousand dollars and more on the waste of time and energy by legal staff in complying with absolutely pointless regulations.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Solo Practice

An interesting (if not entirely objective) article on some of the benefits of solo practice, featuring some pop psychology of the legal profession. I'm not so sold on the analysis of lawyers as a group, but I think there's merit to the article, especially the anecdote of the ethnic attorney.

My question, as someone who has a network of people always wanting legal help (as with the example above) is whether those people are willing and able to pay for legal help. My solo work has always had a built-in cushion wherein some of what I'm doing is under a contract that pays me fairly regularly. Going completely solo and relying on networking and contacts seems dangerous from a business perspective.

Differences between lawyers and people.

On a trip from his home in the U.S. to a vacation spot in Canada, a friend was ticketed for speeding. The officer spelled his name wrong and checked "female" instead of "male." The friend wanted to know, as all ticketees do, if this meant a free pass. My initial question, as a lawyer, was "where did you get the ticket?"

Some jurisdictions, as you may know, have statutes delineating which errors are automatic dismissals, and my thought was not only of this, but if it happened in a jurisdiction where I know someone practicing law. As I awaited his response, I pulled up traffic statutes and caselaw from various jurisdictions along his travel route, as well as combing my memory for the name of that classmate that went back to Canada and that guy I knew in grad school who went to Vermont.

His non-lawyer answer? "On the highway."

Sometimes it pays to be very clear with the questions we ask, as not everyone thinks like a lawyer. Or thinks.
(Sorry, dude, it was too good not to use as a post).

LL/T in Jamestown

Today's Post-Journal carries an article of interest on this topic. It has long been a complaint of the Real Estate Investors Association that the BPU liens property for delinquent utility bills at a property, regardless of the customer of record. Last year, the REIA sued the City and it was held that the City couldn't lien property without a hearing process, which it has now developed and intiated. REIA members were not happy with the return of the liens and apparenty continue to seek a new way to assure payment. A new proposal may allow a deposit to be charged for utility service.

A couple thoughts occur to me on this. There are already some laws concerning deposits for customers with a poor history, and there are already exemptions written into the law. If these people are the "dregs of society," as REIA secretary Mr. Whitmeyer so generously stated, it's possible they fall into a category that's already exempt. Will the Jamestown law mirror state exemption law? If not, and the BPU requires a deposit from someone on SSI, for example, I can see a Federal lawsuit. And what happens if someone is exempt and has utility arrears?

Secondly, there's a broader applicability rule. Who will be required to pay? Will it be all new customers, or based on a credit report, or renters?

It's understandable that property owners want to safeguard investments (trying hard not to editorialize on that one) and the City wants to get paid (even if the Public Service Commission regs state that utilities aren't supposed to be profit centers, but are to provide a public utility service). In some ways, though, this seems like an attempt to close the barn door after the horses have escaped. A landlord can do a credit and background check for a nominal fee prior to move-in and can always deny entry or, if debts accumulate, remove the tenant (by legal process). The need for an additional deposit seems, to this writer, as if it could be eliminated through business practices prior to enacting new legislation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

LSC: Let them eat cake.

Waiting for my blood pressure to come down before I editorialize. Legal Services Corporation, the federally-created body that oversees legal assistance efforts, in the news as certain execs living high on the hog.

Monday, August 14, 2006

An exam question for you lawyers and aspiring lawyers.

Non-lawyers and all others are encouraged to play, too.

You're a tenant-side attorney. The landlord on the opposite side of one of your cases shows up at your office. In hand, he has a blank form (a la Bloomberg, Excelsior,etc). The form is a notice to remove. He fills out the form at your desk, including the affidavit of service, and hands it to you on behalf of your client. No court action has been commenced, and he received the form from the town justice over coffee when he stopped to tell the judge of his troublesome tenant and took photos and video of the rental unit to the judge.

Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to find the problems with the above situation. (Other than my abuse of grammar, that is.)

Bonus points for citations to relevant law or cases. Bonus points double if you buy a drink for the lawyer who related this true-to-life situation to me.

More ll/t: the cost of doing it right.

I'm continually amazed (astounded? horrified?) by the parade before me of people who attempt to do the "easy" way instead of doing it the "right" way. This applies to landlords and tenants.

Landlord, if the tenant hasn't paid the rent and you want him/her gone, the proper method is to take the tenant to court. With a lawyer, total costs can be around $300 (yes, that's not a typo. I know some in the area charge $600 to $1000 for an eviction, but you can also find some charging $150 to $200). Still, $300 may sound like a lot of money compared to say, turning off the power and padlocking the breaker shut. Except, of course, that such actions are illegal in New York and the tenant can be entitled to treble (3x) damages for an illegal eviction. So instead of going to court with a possibly iron-clad case because rent hasn't been paid, this landlord is now looking at being the defendant in a suit for big damages. Likewise, if the building needs repair, don't try to claim it's all due to the tenant, because that's going to result in a court case. Stick to legitimate damages/costs and there isn't a problem.

Tenant, you too must learn to do things the right way. If the landlord gives you a notice because Great Aunt Milly needs to live in the place you've rented for 23 years, then move out without trashing the place and with your rent paid up. If you can't make a rent payment, talk to your landlord instead of dodging him/her. Give proper notice before moving out, and leave it in decent condition. And if there are sufficient problems that you feel justified in withholding rent, seek the assistance of the housing inspector to document the problem and don't spend the money unless it's to move elsewhere. "This place is falling apart, but I spent the money on a new pair of shoes," is not a defense that will get you far. Neither is spending on the money on a necessity like food or soap. It's rent money and needs to stay rent money, whether it's paid out or not.

Jamestown is currently locked in an unproductive cycle. There's a large percentage of landlords who invest in real estate like they invest in stocks--drop some money down and wait for the returns, without doing necessary upkeep and maintenance. There is also a large group of tenants who don't respect people or property. Neither is a majority, or even a plurality, but both have a negative effect on everyone else. Even lawyers, the courts, and policy makers become attuned to the negatives as a representation of the whole, and it becomes too easy to paint every businessman as a slumlord or every tenant as a crackdealing roach motel. Part of the solution, though, is for each person to take care of his/her personal business according to the law.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Succession Order

I won't delve too much into this one, based as it is in Pennsylvania law and a city code I don't have in front of me, but Pittsburgh seems to have the foundation of a fight over who is in charge well in hand. Unlike NY, maybe the elected officials (and unelected officials) will act like adults and it won't devolve into squabbling.

As a student of municipal law, however, the situation poses an intriguing scenario to ponder. Certainly, you want a deputy to take over in the absence of the elected executive. Having that deputy come from the higher reaches of the executive branch makes sense, too, until you end up with a situation where you have an unelected person with undefined powers in the role for a significant length of time. The alternative is to promote the next-in-line, which tends to be a city council president or the like--but then there's a learning curve in shifting from the legislative role to the day-to-day executive role. As well, the new mayor isn't elected at large, which can also be an issue, and there's always the issue of if/when the elected mayor can resume duties. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Pitt.

Sick...and stupid.

Michigan mother pimps out teen daughter so boyfriend won't leave while mom recovers from surgery. Via written contract, now safely in the hands of the police. Thankfully, so are her other children.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Buffalo's Vanwaldick?

Apparently, the BPD has a "four strikes" policy. If you or I had pulled a weapon on a boy/girlfriend, do you think the police would have told us to go home and stay away from that person, or would it have been a trip to the holding cell automatically? That's rhetorical, by the way.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Career Advice

One of the better articles I've seen on law school teaching comes from Professor Wendel at Cornell. The approach taken in the article is to present that this is a very difficult field to enter, but with a certain lighthearted tone so that those of us without Ivy League degrees don't go away crying.

Not that long ago, in attempting to burnish my resume, I was shopping around a scholarly article I'd written. The tepid reception I received from law reviews is somewhat explained by the article. The clueless reception from the one journal in my academic field that I tried isn't, but maybe they were just dazzled by my use of footnotes.

Sports Law: NCAA

The NCAA always intrigues me with their rules and restrictions. As reported by another blogger, apparently it's ok to have an agent representing a college player negotiating a pro contract as long as the agent is acting as a "family advisor". But if the same player gets a work study job at $5.15 an hour, that's a violation of NCAA rules and he can lose his eligibility to compete.

ETA: Retitled the post since I ended up writing less about contracts that expected. As for the NCAA issue mentioned, check out this article from ESPN. There's a vast difference between boosters paying kids to play and a roommate's dad underwriting the rent. Unless you're the NCAA--then the boosters get invited to cocktail parties and the kid nearly loses the chance to play college sports.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sports Law: Beyond Iron Clad

Roughly 30 years ago, the American Basketball Association gave up as a competitor to the National Basketball Association and agreed to a merger. Four of the six ABA teams became NBA teams (Pacers, Nets, Nuggets and Spurs). The owner of the Kentucky Colonels agreed to a buyout, but the interesting twist in this story involves the Spirits of St. Louis and their owners, the Silna brothers.

The story comes from the Los Angeles Times, and all of the above facts are cribbed from the article. Instead of agreeing to a straightforward cash buyout, the Silna brothers were paid $3 million and, in perpetuity, a share of the tv revenues of the four ABA teams merged into the NBA.

What is most amazing, other than the league agreeing to perpetual payout (what were they thinking?), is that this contract has apparently been challenged by various parties--the league, the former ABA teams, former St. Louis execs--and has been upheld. In sports and entertainment law today, contracts are often incredibly long and complex, seeking to cover every eventuality, yet somehow I bet they are more open to attack than whatever document has paid the Silnas $168 million over the past 30 years.

Trivia: Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo at one time all had NBA teams. All three teams are still active, but have relocated. Which cities are home to the progeny of upstate basketball?

Lawyer: Defending While Impaired

Las Vegas attorney jailed on contempt, mistrial declared, after the lawyer blew a .075 on the breathalyzer at court.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Phillips Update

Ralph Phillips allegedly spotted in Niagara County, and a car missing from Cattaragus County was recovered in the vicinity.

I think the trooper's credibility re: the Horton family takes a hit if Phillips is found to have been driving himself around and not operating within some vast conspiracy of allies and relatives. Pure speculation, though.

More Szot

Today's Post-Journal has a story with a misleading headline. I won't really blame the P-J, as this is a common misconception.

The P-J posts that Mr. Szot "says he's not guilty." What actually happened is that Szot pleaded "not guilty" in an appearance in Chautauqua Town Court. I already discussed this briefly in a post back in February, so I won't elaborate too much. Basically, though, at this stage 99.9% of defendants plead "not guilty." For most, it's after this first appearance they'll obtain counsel, his/her lawyer will talk to the DA's office, paperwork will start to be generated, etc. It isn't entirely logical, but it's how the system operates. A plea of "not guilty" at this stage doesn't really say anything about the case or the defendant.

It is worth noting, though, that Szot has retained a firm that wrote (literally) the book on drunk driving defense.

ETA: Also worth noting, there's a not-subtle distinction between "prosecutor" and "persecutor" which the P-J might want to look into.

Monday, August 07, 2006

the internet at work

BuffaloPundit posts a link to a research question posed by a Buff. News reporter on the tech beat, regarding people's internet activity and access during the workday. Check it out and comment. While it's not technically "legal", as is supposed to be the topic of my blog, it does relate to the evolving/modernizing workplace, which is a big topic in law firm management these days.

For instance, at the firm where I spend most of my time, there is a policy of no personal email or internet use on company time. At the same time, there's no enforcement, so there's no drive to update/refine a policy that's basically nonsense.

What's a defense attorney to do?

A little game I play in my head as I read the paper: if I was assigned or retained, what would I be able to do in terms of zealous yet ethical representation?

This kid went to the same school as me but really isn't a ringing endorsement for NY public schools or the old hometown. He was stopped, apparently driving his own car while his driving privileges were suspended, carrying narcotics, after an assault arrest warrant was issued for him from a separate incident.

Village police arrested Kazz S. Snyder, 24, and two passengers in Mr. Snyder's 2003 Mitsubishi at 7:20 p.m. Saturday on drug charges.

Police stopped Mr. Snyder, after realizing his driving privileges were suspended and used a drug dog to investigate. Ten grams of cocaine, a small amount of marijuana, some money and the vehicle were seized.

The only hook I can think of, off the top of my head, is to question whether there was good cause for the use of the drug dog, along with making sure that the drugs were found on the person that was charged for each. The fact a simple plate check and/or the arrestee's appearance was known resulted in the stop, and it's hard to argue that when he has a rap sheet longer than your arm.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Quite often, you can find pleadings on the web by a simple search, which can be useful for an attorney who might not have an example or template laying about. Or not useful, in certain cases.

(Thx Joel)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A common problem, eh?

A very telling quote from a very different system: "But it gets to a point where you'd rather do no work than work that's trivial."

Ontario has strict limits on billing and hours for legal aid lawyers, to the point that many lawyers are getting out of the system. In part, it's because it's simply not economically possible to make a living doing it, and in part because of the reasons behind the above quote. Eventually, if you're just going through the motions and are so limited by regulation that you can't represent the client fully, is it really worth doing at all?

There are a number of programs, from loan assistance/forgiveness to increased salaries, designed to make a public interest career more attractive to law school graduates. In NY, though, changes have been slow to develop, either at the state level or in each individual agency. Aside from the money, though, I think there's a very important question for lawyers in the field about the value of the work being done. If a legal services lawyer got into the business to help people or "make a difference", he or she isn't likely to stay long once the feeling of usefulness passes.

Professional Liability Insurance

An article from discusses the proposal in Mass. to require attorneys to disclose whether or not they carry professional liability (malpractice) insurance. According to the article, only one state (OR) requires the insurance but several others require an attorney to disclose if he/she doesn't carry it.

New York is currently not a disclosure state, but I imagine it isn't too far in the future. It would be nice, though, if the Powers That Be took steps to make coverage more affordable to the small firm/solo with any step toward a (tacit or literal) requirement.

Mileage and Expenses Imbroglio

A report is due out today concerning the St. Lawrence County legislators' alleged overbilling for mileage and expenses. It's expected that the amounts in question are minimal--a couple hundred dollars, tops. Why it is still news, apparently, is that the defense of those questioned was apparently "I didn't know there was a policy." Always good to hear from elected officials. In the interim, the county has adopted a new policy and screening procedure.

From the Watertown Daily Times:
The long-awaited result of an investigation into allegations of mileage and meal reimbursement abuse by St. Lawrence County legislators will be made public this morning, a spokesman for the state agency said.

The state Commission of Investigation will publicize the findings of a probe spurred by a series of 2003 media reports alleging that legislators inappropriately received compensation for travel and meal costs.

Lawmakers have grown restless waiting for the report, which has hung a dark cloud over the Legislature.

ETA: the promised link and another.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Another bad report for a state agency

This time, it's the State Liquor Authority. Did you know we had such a creature? I was at best vaguely aware, and certainly unaware of what they were supposed to be regulating. So, judging by this article from the Buffalo News, was the SLA.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

High School, Part 2: Less Serious

Following up, from today's P-J, an article on a bill in the State Legislature to amend the way schools participate in statewide championship tournaments. It appears the "problem" (perhaps you can sense my bias by the quotes) is that schools in some sections have more teams than others. In a system where only the top team advances, a district with 40 teams is at somewhat of a disadvantage compared to a district with 3 teams.

My first thought was "the Legislature has time for this?", thinking of Last Comic Standing contestant Ty Burnett's riff on the search for King Tut's killer. With more reading, though, this may just be an attempt to force the association which runs the tournaments into action. Countering that, though, is the inertia in Albany, which quite often leads to "one house bills" that are pet projects in one chamber and never go anywhere.

Even so, I still don't see a need to legislate in the absence of some quantifiable damage. Show me that topflight wrestlers (which seems to be the main concern of the bill) aren't getting scholarships, WWE developmental deals or Olympic tryouts, and then I'll think it worthy of corrective legislation. Otherwise, I'm in the apparent minority that thinks high school sports should be about learning sportsmanship, discipline and getting some exercise as a complement to education.

Girls Sue School Over Bullying

Interesting lawsuit underway in Kentucky, posted due to my interest in admin law/public school discipline proceedings (even if not mentioned directly here).