In 1996, Benjamin Schreiber, 66, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man with an axe handle. A few years later in the Iowa State Penitentiary, Schreiber suffered from septic poisoning, briefly died, and was resuscitated. So he argued to an Iowa appeals court that he has served his sentence and should be set free. The court ruled with what might be called the "Schrödinger's convict" respsonse. From the New York Times:
“Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot,” Judge Amanda Potterfield wrote for the court....
Judge Potterfield wrote in the ruling this week that because “life” is not defined by the state’s code, the judges had given the term “its plain meaning,” which they took to prescribe that Mr. Schreiber must spend the rest of his natural life incarcerated, regardless of whether he had been revived.
“We do not find his argument persuasive,” Judge Potterfield wrote, adding that the judges found it unlikely the Legislature would have wanted “to set criminal defendants free whenever medical procedures during their incarceration lead to their resuscitation by medical professionals.”
Image: TheCatalyst31 (CC0 1.0)
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On Monday, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka pulled over a minivan in the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane because nobody else was visible inside except for the driver. Turns out, the driver works for a funeral home and was transporting a body. From the Reno Gazette Journal
"He immediately tells me he's got the remains of a person in the vehicle behind him, so I kind of glanced in the back and confirmed that,” Smaka said of what he saw in the cargo area – a bodybag strapped to a gurney. “It kind of threw me off a little bit, and then he just made the funny remark, something along the lines of, 'So he won't count?'.."
Nevada's HOV rules do not clarify whether an occupant must be breathing and leans on federal law, which is not much clearer....
An official with the Federal Highway Administration said it is up to individual states to define what an occupant is – and referred the USA Today Network to the Nevada Department of Transportation for additional information.
“When you talk about high occupancy vehicle lanes, you’re talking about seats – so a person would need to occupy a seat to qualify,” said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Buratczuk. “This person was obviously a decedent and in the cargo area of the car, so they would not qualify for the HOV lane.”
The officer let the driver off with a warning.
image: SounderBruce/CC BY-SA 4.0
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California's 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that inmates can have a small supply of marijuana behind bars but "smoking or ingesting cannabis in prison remains a felony.” The ruling overturned convictions of five inmates busted for possessing marijuana in prison. From KTLA:
“The voters (who in 2016 passed Proposition 64 legalizing marijuana) made quite clear their intention to avoid spending state and county funds prosecuting possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and quite clear that they did not want to see adults suffer criminal convictions for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana,” Sacramento County Assistant Public Defender Leonard Tauman said in an email. The appeals court “quite properly honored what the electorate passed..."
While prison officials can still punish inmates for violating the rules, “this ruling will prevent inmates from having years added to their sentences for simple possession, reducing overcrowding and saving $50,000-75,000 a year in unnecessary costs,” said Assistant Public Defender David Lynch.
image: Ahston / CC BY 2.0
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The damage done by domestic violence doesn't stop when a victim finds the strength and support system needed to escape physical or emotional abuse at home. Breaking the cycle of abuse inflicted by the hands of someone you once trusted can send shock waves into every facet of your life: shared friends may turn against you, individuals you called family may disbelieve your claims of abuse and the time and energy it takes to break ties with an abuser can take a toll on your professional life. Happily, with a piece of policy that every nation on the planet should copy, New Zealand is taking steps to ensure that the latter won't be something that those looking to escape domestic violence will have to worry about any longer.
According to The New York Times, members of New Zealand's parliament have voted to approve a bill which states that individuals feeling domestic violence in their country must be given a 10-day leave of absence from their jobs--time to care for children, seek out assistance in setting up a new life and find shelter--in addition to whatever paid vacation days the victim's job comes with. The Domestic Violence Victims’ Protection Bill will go into effect in 2019.
From The New York Times:
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Jan Logie, a lawmaker for the left-leaning Green Party who proposed the bill in 2016, said gender-based violence had become “entrenched” in New Zealand and “reaches into workplaces,” with victims often turning up late or missing work altogether.
Ms. Logie said that existing leave allowances were not enough for victims to “deal with the courts, find a new house, go to counseling or support their children dealing with trauma.”
“It doesn’t make sense to tell victims we want them to leave and then force them into poverty when they do,” she said.
Håkon Wium Lie has many claims to fame -- he not only created Cascading Style Sheets, an integral part of the web, but he also was the first person to publish the laws of Norway (which are public domain, but were behind a $1/minute paywall at the time) for free, online. Though the company that maintained this paywall threatened to sue, they eventually saw the light and put the laws up for free.
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Jeffery Shaver, 31, stood outside the Kitchener, Ontario courthouse yesterday in his underwear beside two signs that read "RETURN MY BONG" and "RETURN MY MARIJUANA." He claims that police seized his bong and stash at a local hospital where he was taken during a panic attack. He says he was yelling about a problem with a vending machine when they arrested and searched him. This is the second time one of his bongs and his weed were confiscated. From The Record:
"I have a legal medical marijuana card. Five months after I got it, I was arrested for possession of marijuana, but I had my card on me," Shaver said.
"So two days later, I went back and smoked marijuana on the front lawn of the police station," Shaver said. "Again they arrested me. I went to jail for the first time. They held me there for 16 hours.
"And that charge, ironically, has already been dropped and this is the very bong they returned to me," he said, pausing to take a hit off the bong. "They refuse to return the other one because they haven't dropped that marijuana charge."
photo: Vanessa Tignanelli/The Record Read the rest
In Ohio is illegal to disrobe in front of a portrait of a man. In Texas it is illegal for children to have unusual haircuts. In Nevada it is illegal to put an American flag on a bar of soap. Photographer Olivia Locher broke these laws, and 40 others just as ridiculous, by taking photos depicting the illegal acts.
In Pennsylvania, It’s Illegal To Tie A Dollar Bill To A String And Pull It Away When Someone Tries To Pick It Up
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Funny: In Florida, it's unlawful to have sex with a porcupine. Sad: In Russia, it's illegal to tell minors that gay people exist. (Sam O'Nella)
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Texas passed a new regulation requiring "cremation or burial" of fetal tissue after a miscarriage or medical abortion, and to hear the lawmakers who passed this idiotic rule, this requires grieving women to dress up minute scraps of tissue in little funeral suits and stand contrite over a tiny casket while a clergyman excoriates them for disappointing god with their selfish uteruses. Read the rest
The evidence against tipping is voluminous and damning: it plunges workers into sub-subsistence wages, subjects woman servers to sexual harassment, encourages servers to deliver poor service to people of color (and old, young, and foreign people), incentivizes workers to take actions that harm the business (free drinks for big tippers!), and covers up a system of widespread criminal wage-fraud that lands disproportionately on the backs of workers who are already poor and marginalized. Read the rest
Howard Arthur Klein, 87, was nabbed in Grand rapids, Michigan for soliciting a prostitute. Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth decided not to pursue the matter, saying, "He wouldn't and shouldn't go to jail and 87 years without involvement in the criminal justice system has, in my opinion, earned him a pass." Read the rest
Jim Fouts, mayor of Warren, Michigan, has proposed a ban on flamethrowers.
Chris Byars, seen above, is CEO of Detroit-area flamethrower firm Ion Productions Team. He says that to automatically assume people will do stupid things with his company's products is "insulting and discriminatory." Read the rest
Banning the homeless from sleeping outside when they have nowhere else to sleep is unconstitutional, argues the United States Department of Justice in a statement of interest filed regarding a Boise, Idaho court case about an anti-camping ordinance. Read the rest
The state of Tennessee extended its "Good Samaritan law" this month, allowing people to smash a car window to save a dog from dying in a hot car.
“If you act reasonably, as any reasonable person would respond, you will not be at fault to save a life," says Nashville Fire Department Chief of Staff Mike Franklin. "You will not be at any fault to save a life and/or animals."
Apparently, acting "reasonably" includes first searching the for car's owner and calling police. I don't think I'd waste the time.
According to the Humane Society, "On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die."
"It’s Now Legal to Break Into Cars to Save Dogs in Tennessee" (TIME)
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Yes, pinball is illegal in Oakland, California. But this week, the 80-year-old law, tied to anti-gambling ordinances, will be reversed. Read the rest
Senator Joe Manchin delivered a grandstanding, technologically clueless, facepalm-inducing request to the Treasury Department to ban Bitcoin. In response, Rep Jared Polis (who proudly wears Boing Boing tee-shirts in his spare time, and rocks some snazzy duds on the floor of Congress) wrote a mock-serious request for dollar bills to be removed from circulation, pointing out that practically every objection that Manchin raised over Bitcoin applies equally well to paper money. Read the rest
Mother Jones has published a heartbreaking story about the survivors of the Florida School for Boys; children who were, basically, kidnapped by southern cops and sent to a hellhole where backbreaking labor, torture, and murder were the order of the day. A state court has finally given the go-ahead to exhume the graves of the children who were killed and buried in anonymous, unmarked graves by their jailers. The survivors returned for a press-conference, but found themselves with almost no press to speak to.
Mike Mechanic writes, "Johnny Gaddy, 68, still doesn't understand how he landed at Florida's Dozier reform school. When he was 11, the police showed up at his front door. 'They told me the judge wanted to talk to me,' he recalls. 'I'll never forget it as long as I live. I was watching 'The Lone Ranger' on TV. My mama said, 'The officer going to take you down, the judge going to talk to you.' I said, 'Mama, why's he going to talk to me?' She said, 'Go ahead.' He took me to the police station, told me to get in a cell. I never saw a judge. I wasn't sentenced for anything as far as I know. I was handcuffed all the way to Marianna.' Read the rest