Several of these items deserve special treatment, but I am way behind and still have to finish my Christmas shopping. Please accept this list therefore as my Christmas gift to you.
- An IRS spokesperson stated that yes, the criminal charges against one of its workers "could affect his employment status," which conveys no information at all, really. Seems like she could have gone a little further out on that limb, given that the worker was arrested at a Steelers game for public drunkenness, throwing a steel crowd divider that hit and knocked a woman unconscious, and trying to bribe the officers arresting him for the foregoing.
- Back in May, a farmer in New Zealand was convicted on 10 counts of violating the Dog Control Act by failing to implant microchips in nine Pekingese dogs and one Jack Russell terrier. He claimed an exemption, arguing that all 10 are "working farm dogs" that help herd sheep, a claim the judge rejected as "nonsensical and entirely artificial" given the breeds involved. Experts disagreed, but the High Court affirmed. At trial the farmer was asked whether a cat seen in one of the photo exhibits also worked herding sheep. "That volunteered," he replied.
- Ordinarily one might be sympathetic to a father who wants to maintain parental rights. But as the court in this case stated, "[T]here are some decisions in life one makes that have significant consequences. The decision to hire someone to murder your child's mother is one of those." Seems hard to argue with that. (He didn't succeed, but—and I guess you could call this ironic—the mother died anyway just a year after he tried to hire someone to kill her.)
- "JOHANNESBURG: A South African ventriloquist said Monday [Nov. 10] that he will challenge a gag order against his puppet." Like I said, these deserve more attention than I can give them today.
- Speaking of gag orders, a retired naval officer and former secretary of the Kansas DOT has filed a lawsuit against Edward Snowden and the makers of the documentary Citizenfour, arguing that they breached a "fiduciary duty" and seeking to impose a constructive trust on the film's earnings. The US itself might have such a claim against Snowden, but this guy, a private citizen, has about the same legal standing as Orly Taitz did to sue Obama or the Electoral College. Which is to say, none.
- Speaking of standing, animals don't have any, but that doesn't mean they can't be "persons" for some purposes. So said a court in Argentina that granted a writ of habeas corpus last month on behalf of Sandra, a 29-year-old orangutan. According to the report, the ruling meant the ape might be sprung from the zoo and moved to a sanctuary, on the grounds she is a "non-human person" unlawfully deprived of freedom. The ape's lawyer suggested that this set a precedent for all other "sentient beings." That might be going a bit far. But if corporations can be treated as "persons" for some purposes, there's no reason animals can't; and maybe more to the point, I feel safe in saying that there is currently no requirement that a person be especially "sentient" in order to bring a lawsuit.
Finally, I just realized that I haven't mentioned that the ABA Journal picked Lowering the Bar again this year for its "Blawg 100" list, and in fact named it this year to its blog "Hall of Fame." There it now ruins the neighborhood for 29 respectable and even useful sites written by people like Eric Turkewitz, Kashmir Hill, Walter Olson, Scott Greenfield, and Jeff Richardson, and also group ventures like Above the Law, Abnormal Use, The Volokh Conspiracy, and even SCOTUSblog.
I honestly thought I had mentioned this, but apparently didn't, probably dithering about whether to ask people to vote for LTB on the 2014 list or not. Now that problem is solved, at least, because the voting has already closed. Well, while winning that vote is better than not winning it, it matters much less to me than the feedback and readership—to say nothing of book purchases—that I get from you, as well as the enjoyment I still get from writing this, 3,263 posts and maybe 1.75 million words after I started. So thanks for that, and Merry Christmas, or whatever you may currently be celebrating, if anything. (You, too, Sandra.)