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March 2013 Archives

1st Circuit to Hear TSA Groping, 'Naked' Scanner Case

Yeah. Stand there. That's right. Put your hands above your head. Yeah. That's good. Okay, you can go. Next. Yeah.

Okay, maybe it's not that creepy, and perhaps the strange men at the airport don't want to see me naked, but that's what it feels like to those of us who have passed through the "naked" scanners that are now occupying the nation's airports. Of course, if you say "no thanks" they say, "come here, big boy" and give you the old grope.

Did we mention that the scanners may (may, evidence still shakey) cause cancer and aren't especially effective at detecting booty bombs or strategically-placed metallic objects?

1st Circuit Respectfully Removes Judge from Bulger Mob Trial

You might have heard of James “Whitey” Bulger. He was the alleged head of the Winter Hill Gang, also known as Boston’s chapter of La Costra Nostra. During his time as the mob boss, he is alleged to have played a part in the deaths of at least nineteen men. In 2011, after being on the lam in Santa Monica, California for over ten years, he was identified, extradited, and set for prosecution.

You probably haven’t heard of the Honorable Judge Richard G. Stearns. His long and distinguished legal career includes stops, and supervisory positions, in the United States Attorney’s Office. Though his office was not tasked with investigating Bulger, the defendant still argues for his recusal due to the appearance of bias.

Why? To understand that, you’ll need a bit more background on the Bulger case.

Detailing Drone Debate Developments in the 1st Circuit States

As our dear First Circuit court has remained relatively silent for the past week, we thought it might be a good opportunity to discuss an ongoing debate in First Circuit states: the proper limits on drone usage.

As the usage of drones increases, and the acquisition costs decrease (a Maine agency just acquired a $300 drone out of “curiosity”) the potential for a pummeling of privacy rights looms. With telephoto lenses, night-vision, and other photography enhancements, the day where a law enforcement agency can cheaply and easily track and photograph your every move is nearly at hand, and it has many Americans concerned.

The ACLU has a great roundup of pending legislation in over thirty states to limit or prohibit the use of drones. There are a few notable local developments in New Hampshire and Maine that are worth taking a closer look at.

Judge Selya Has Fun With Speedy Trial Appeal

Frederick Gates burned through six court-appointed attorneys, filed a salmagundi* of pretrial motions, entered a guilty plea mid-trial, and then attempted to withdraw that plea. After all of that, he complains about Speedy Trial Act (STA) violations.

Sometimes, if you throw enough crap at the wall, some of it will stick and the court will be forced to address speedy trial issues of first impression. That’s not what happened here.

This week Judge Bruce Selya, our favorite First Circuit wordsmith, explained that Gates’ STA arguments just didn’t stick..