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Comment: Re:The wider social context - people distrust scie (Score 1) 173

Forensic analysis methods are not scientifically validated in general. AFAIK any forensic evidence is admissible if the the judge decides so. The general standard is that is sounds plausible.

No. The general standard is the Daubert standard (so named because it arose in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993). The standard is:
        Judge is gatekeeper: Under Rule 702, the task of "gatekeeping", or assuring that scientific expert testimony truly proceeds from "scientific knowledge", rests on the trial judge.
        Relevance and reliability: This requires the trial judge to ensure that the expert's testimony is "relevant to the task at hand" and that it rests "on a reliable foundation". Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 584-587. Concerns about expert testimony cannot be simply referred to the jury as a question of weight. Furthermore, the admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Rule 104(a), not Rule 104(b); thus, the Judge must find it more likely than not that the expert's methods are reliable and reliably applied to the facts at hand.
        Scientific knowledge = scientific method/methodology: A conclusion will qualify as scientific knowledge if the proponent can demonstrate that it is the product of sound "scientific methodology" derived from the scientific method.[3]
        Factors relevant: The Court defined "scientific methodology" as the process of formulating hypotheses and then conducting experiments to prove or falsify the hypothesis, and provided a nondispositive, nonexclusive, "flexible" set of "general observations" (i.e. not a "test") [4] that it considered relevant for establishing the "validity" of scientific testimony:

                Empirical testing: whether the theory or technique is falsifiable, refutable, and/or testable.
                Whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication.
                The known or potential error rate.
                The existence and maintenance of standards and controls concerning its operation.
                The degree to which the theory and technique is generally accepted by a relevant scientific community.

That's a whole lot more stringent than "sounds plausible" (which is fairly close to the Frye "general acceptance" standard that Daubert replaced).

Comment: Re:How many other flaws (Score 1) 173

Some facts about the U.S. justice system:

* Judges are elected, subjecting them to the whims of public opinion and making them more politicians than impartial legal officials.

Actually, judges in the U.S. justice system are appointed for life. State and municipal systems differ (some are elected, some are hired under civil service rules), but judges in the federal government are, in fact, appointed.

Mind you, that doesn't make any of the rest of your points invalid, I just wanted to correct the record.

Comment: Re:So sad :( (Score 1) 117

To be fair, the USPS is specified in the constitution as a government-run institution, so it would take some very creative legislation.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 7: "To establish Post Offices and post Roads;"

There's absolutely nothing in there that requires it to be run by the government. The USPS could easily be spun off as a private company. In fact, in some ways, it is already; it's not a government agency like the FCC or EPA, it's a government-sponsored corporation, legally separate from fed.gov.

Comment: Re:Can someone please explain to me (Score 1) 197

How is that states can pass laws that relate to in-state sales of cars to consumers, but apparently laws that relate to in-state sales of drugs to consumers are pre-empted by federal law?

Because there is no federal law explicitly granting the right of direct sale of cars to consumers. Also, because you're talking about permission rather than prohibition; the sale of marijuana in Colorado and Washington is legal under state law, and so will not incur prosecution by the state. It's still illegal under federal law, and can still be prosecuted in federal court under the theory of concurrent jurisdiction. The states' laws are not "pre-empted" by federal law; rather, federal law creates an entirely separate basis for prosecution in an entirely separate legal system.

An example of concurrent jurisdiction: Timothy McVeigh, the bomber of the Oklahoma City federal building, killed 168 people. He was never tried on 168 counts of murder (a crime under Oklahoma law; murder is almost invariably a state crime, not federal). He was tried on eleven counts, eight of them murder of federal officials (the other three were weapons and terrorism counts). 168 dead, and only eight counts of murder. Why? Because murder is generally not a federal crime; the federal government only has jurisdiction over the murder of certain federal employees, in this case judges and United States Attorneys.

The State of Oklahoma--a separate political entity from the United States--had jurisdiction over all 168 people who died, as well as for the hundreds injured, property damage, and weapons charges. The State of Oklahoma never brought charges on any of those. Why not? Because McVeigh was already facing a death sentence in the federal system. Charging him in state court would have been redundant, and would have expended state resources to gain a conviction and sentence that McVeigh would never serve because his federal death sentence would be carried out before he even spent a night in a holding cell in a county jail awaiting trial, let alone a state penitentiary. It would have been a waste.

The distinction, though, is important. McVeigh was indicted, tried, convicted, sentenced, and punished in the federal system under federal law. He could also have been charged under state law. In Colorado and Washington, the possession and use of marijuana is not forbidden by state law, but federal law still applies. That isn't federal law "pre-empting" state law; the feds are not commanding the states to pass and enforce drug laws. Rather, the feds are enforcing their own separate laws, as is their prerogative under the jurisprudence established by Wickard v. Filmore and Gonzales v. Raich, and bringing the case in the (entirely-separate) federal system.

Comment: Re:Why do people like you hate people in Indiana a (Score 1) 197

So for example, if a baker refused to bake a cake for a fundamentalist Christian couple, that would be prefectly okay?

Absolutely.

It's one of the problems of people of great faith, I was raised by them, and they believe that they do have the right to do whatever they want to to those they hate.

Enh, not so much. Declining to participate isn't so much doing to someone as it is not doing. The baker isn't stoning the prospective customer, flogging him, or even raising public sentiment against him; the baker is just saying "hey, I don't want to be a part of this; why don't you take your money to our competition instead?"

But as for selling a cake to a couple homosexuals, the last time I checked, their money was just as good as anyone else's. I'd sell to them, I'd sell to you. As long as it's lawful, no reason not to.

So would I. But if a business owner doesn't want to take a customer's money, preferring instead that it go to his competition, it seems like that's a problem that will sort itself out. Furthermore, nothing prevents the customer from sharing his experience; given the ever-increasing climate of tolerance, it seems like that sort of publicity would cause even more harm than just the loss of that single customer, and I'm glad of that.

Comment: Re:Personally... (Score 1) 183

How would you prosecute a rape case without the jury assuming the accused was male and the victim female?

How would you prosecute a child abuse case without admitting that the victim is, indeed, a child?

How would you prosecute an aggravated assault case without showing the disparity of force between assailant and victim (or, conversely, how would you defend a the case without allowing the accused to present disparity of force as justifying his defensive actions)?

Comment: Re: Welcome to the U.S. of A. (Score 4, Informative) 148

The estate is a separate legal entity from any person. Contracts that flow into the estate remain binding upon the estate. Ergo, she doesn't need to have signed it; it's still binding upon the estate.

The distinction that people seem to be missing is that nobody is squelching her freedom of speech as an individual, but rather as a beneficiary of the estate. Again, remember that the estate is its own legal entity. She's not being sued as J. Random Person, but rather as somebody who profits from that estate. As a beneficiary, she's also subject to its contracts. If she breaches those contracts, she's subject to suit in her capacity as beneficiary, and can be forced to disgorge her profits from the estate.

(Note: I practice in probate law.)

Comment: Re: Welcome to the U.S. of A. (Score 1) 148

" If she doesn't want to abide by the terms of the contract, she should at least be compelled to disgorge the money she was paid."

Certainly doable, but then that would generally void the contract on both sides and the movie itself is lost. So no, the company doing the suing doesn't want that.

I'd like to know if she herself signed the contract. From the sounds of it, she's being bound by it the actions of the Estate itself. So... did she promise to keep her mouth shut, or did someone else promise she'd keep her mouth shut?

If she wants to enjoy the profits of the estate she should also abide by its constraints. Nothing it preventing her from completely disclaiming her rights in same.

Comment: Re:So they are doing what? (Score 1) 509

by Maxwell'sSilverLART (#48782327) Attached to: Anonymous Declares War Over Charlie Hebdo Attack

Not an FFL, just a $200 tax stamp (which won't be issued without a background check, but still). It takes a Type 03 FFL to transfer an NFA item, but not to own one. And yes, Obama's ATF will issue it as long as the paperwork comes back clean, just as it will with a suppressor, machine gun, short-barreled rifle or shotgun, or any other NFA item.

Comment: Re:So they are doing what? (Score 2) 509

by Maxwell'sSilverLART (#48782285) Attached to: Anonymous Declares War Over Charlie Hebdo Attack

You're sitting in front of a terminal that gives you access to information in a way that makes the great library at Alexandria look like a comic book store, and you can't be arsed to look up what the 17th Amendment says before commenting on it?

The 17th Amendment does not give two senators to each state. That was written into the original Constitution; the bicameral system was a compromise between those who wanted population-proportional representation (i.e. the House of Representatives) and equal-state representation (i.e. the Senate).

The 17th Amendment changed the method for choosing senators from selection by the state legislature (US Constitution, Article 1, Section 3, Clause 1) to a popular vote by the people of the state. The Founders had very specific reasons for having the state legislatures choose senators instead of the people; the 17th Amendment changed the balance of power significantly.

Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.

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