Thursday, May 31, 2007 

I'm Out

I'll be out of town this weekend. Hopefully, nothing major will happen in my absence. I'm planning on having a big post about entrapment when I get back, considering that is on the minds of many people right now. Maybe Alderman (for now) McGee will call into another radio show and sing another song too. Hopefully, it will be something cool, like Journey's "Any Way You Want It" or Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up,"... it should at least have a good beat. Anyway, adios.

PS: I've had that picture for months and no reason to post it. Since I'm going on a road trip, I guess it's apt.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 

More McGee

If you're looking for a great round up of links, Badger Blogger is the go to blog for all things McGee. You can even take a look at the alderman's mug shot. I had no idea that he was only 5'9". Michelle Malkin is covering the story nationally too. Be proud, Milwaukee.

According to the Journal Sentinel (ha, I know the person who wrote that entry), McGee will be back in court tomorrow for his initial appearance...
Ald. Michael McGee appeared briefly before a state court commissioner this afternoon on two felony charges: Solicitation to commit a felony/conspiracy and solicitation to commit a felony/substantial battery. Due to the nature of the charges, his initial appearance was then postponed until 2 p.m. tomorrow so that he could appear before a judge instead of a court commissioner.

McGee was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and waved to a couple supporters in the courtroom. He did not speak during the brief hearing.
I have no plans tomorrow. Should I go to the court house for the initial appearance?

For those of you playing along at home, here is how a felony prosecution works in Wisconsin. Tomorrow, McGee will have his initial appearance. The initial appearance is a short hearing where the DA files the criminal complaint, the judge sets bail, and McGee's legal representation is determined (AKA who is his lawyer). It's a very fast proceeding.

Within 10 days of the initial appearance, there will be a preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial. The state has to prove probable cause. If probable cause is found, then the defendant is bound over for trial.

Within 30 days of the prelim, the DA must file a document known as the information. This document contains the charges being brought against the defendant. It does not have to have the same charges as the criminal complaint (but that's another can of worms that would take many posts to fully explain).

At the arraignment (the next step in the prosecution), the defendant enters a plea to the charges in the information. It's usually not guilty, though that can and often does change. Then we enter pretrial. This is where discovery, motions, and plea negotiation happen. After that, we have a trial, which is where the really fun stuff happens.

Hopefully, there will be more information about this case tomorrow. Right now, I'm going to lay down because I have sunburn.


The Continuing McGee Drama

Well, Alderman Michael McGee Jr. was arrested last night on public corruption charges. Color me shocked. Here's the story...
McGee is under investigation on potential public corruption charges, according to sources familiar with the probe, which has been placed under seal. Further details are expected to be announced today during a joint news conference by U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

It was unclear late Monday where and under what circumstances McGee was arrested, but sources said the arrest was made earlier than planned because investigators suspected the potential for violence
And an interesting update...
Court documents related to the arrest of Ald. Michael McGee remain under seal and are not expected to be released for several days, Milwaukee Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said this morning.

Lovern would not say why the documents are under seal, but said state law requires that they be sealed and there is a specific process that must occur before they are released.

"We understand the public wants to know, has a right to know and will know, but there is a protocol that we have to follow in accordance with Wisconsin law that says how and when this information will be disseminated to the public," Lovern said.
And how about a leak for good measure...
Ald. Michael McGee is expected to be charged by federal prosecutors with soliciting a bribe, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

The source, who asked not be named because the case remains under seal, said McGee could face additional federal charges as well as state charges of threatening violence. Whether the soliciting charge would come today, or would follow other charges, is unclear, given he's being held on a state charge.
The news conference is in about 15 minutes. I'm not sure how much information that the DA and USA will give us, especially if the case is under seal. This is going to be an interesting Summer.

EDIT: Here is the federal criminal complaint, courtesy of Prof. McAdams. It's quite a read.

Monday, May 28, 2007 

GA Judge Lets Rip

And in this case, I think it's deserved.


Alito Gets a Degree Too

Justice Alito was decked out in his graduation garb at Seton Hall last week. He got an honorary degree and gave the commencement speech. This picture reminded me of something. I really liked the graduation gown that I got for my law school graduation. It wasn't one of those cheap, thin things that you get for high school graduation. This gown was heavy duty. It reminded me of a judge's robes. I was mad when I had to give it back (it was a rental).

Alito's got a cool gown. I'm pretty sure that is a Yale gown. One of my professors had a similar one on for our ceremony, and he's a Yalie. I don't like the hat though. I'm not a fan of the rounded, puffy hat. It looks too much like a throw pillow for a couch. I don't really like the square mortar board either, though. But I hate it less.

This concludes my first and only fashion post.


The Ohio "Stripper Bill"

Trouble is brewing in Ohio for fans of exotic dancing. A "stripper bill" is on its way out of the Senate, headed to the governor, and expected to become law. Here is what the bill does...
The measure would force strip clubs, adult bookstores, peep shows and other adult entertainment venues to close between midnight and 6 a.m. Those with liquor licenses could stay open until last call, but nudity would be banned after midnight. Partial nudity would be allowed, but dancers would have to conform to the existing state law by wearing at least G-strings and pasties.

It also institutes a no-touch rule between patrons and nude or partially nude dancers. It would be a first-degree misdemeanor to touch someone's clothed or unclothed private parts and a fourth-degree misdemeanor to touch other body parts.
I'm a little confused by the wording in the article. It says that nudity would be banned after midnight, but partial nudity would be allowed if the dancers conform to existing law that requires G-strings and pasties. So, is total nude dancing allowed (the previously mentioned "nudity"), just before midnight? Or are the G-string/pasties requirements considered "nudity" and always in effect, even before midnight? Or am I just reading this wrong? I have no idea. Whatever.

Now, onto the really juicy stuff...
Strickland press secretary Keith Dailey said the governor did not find constitutional flaws in the bill, which received wide support in the House and Senate.
Ah, the constitutionality question. Does this bill pass muster?

Well, stripping does have some First Amendment protections. The Court considers it expressive conduct, sort of like miming but hotter. The case on point that immediately comes to mind is Barnes v Glen Theater, Inc. In Barnes, the Court dealt with a law banning public nudity and requiring the wearing of G-strings and pasties. The Rehnquist, O'Connor, Kennedy plurality upheld the ban, but they stated that stripping was "expressive conduct within the outer perimeters of the First Amendment." The G-string/pasties requirement was a minimal restriction, so it was allowed. It still let the speaker (or stripper, in this situation) express her message. Barnes was anything but clear, though. The plurality picked up two votes from Scalia and Souter, both filing separate and very different concurrences based on very different reasoning.

There are limits to the First Amendment protections, though. In Schultz v. City of Cumberland, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was constitutional to ban totally nude dancing. The court applied the framework laid out in Barnes and another case, City of Erie v Pap's AM. As an aside, that case also said that banning particular movements or actions by the dancer was unconstitutional. Legislators can't be correographers, I guess.

Buffer zones are another issue. Lower federal courts have upheld some dancer-customer buffer zones, while a few others have struck them down. The trend seems to be to uphold the buffers, though. If you're interested in more of the caselaw in this area, I recommend this page by the First Amendment Center. I used it as a refresher while writing this post.

I'm not exactly sure what a court would do with this law. I think that most of this law is easily constitutional under the current caselaw. The Court does not have an absolutist view of First Amendment rights. Some restrictions are allowed (time, place, and manner restrictions, generally applicable laws, etc.). Here, the state is only slightly regulating the expressive conduct, like the distance and coverage requirements. These have been upheld, as stated previously. I think that a court would uphold the G-string and pasties requirements.

However, the touching penalties seem a bit troublesome. Simply touching someone anywhere on their body is considered a fourth-degree misdemeanor, a crime. Sure, it's a minor crime, but it's a crime nonetheless. My gut reaction is that that part of the law wouldn't be enforced in practice. Are the police really going to charge a dancer for touching a customer's shoulder? I'm skeptical. However, I'm not from Ohio so I can't really speak about what their police would do. The other touching restriction, the "private parts" touching, seems like an easier call.

Personally, I think that the law is pretty silly. If you don't like these clubs, don't go to them. Of course, silly does not mean unconstitutional. Under the current caselaw, I think that this is Ohio's decision to make.

Sunday, May 27, 2007 

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Honey Porter

It's been a long, long time since I've done a beer review. There are a few reasons for that. First, my beer reviewing skills were being used elsewhere. Second, I haven't kept beer in the fridge on a regular basis lately. I just haven't been buying it for some reason. Third, I haven't been posting much at all. It really is some form of writer's block. I've started a handful of posts that I've never finished. My goal tonight is to finish a post and drink this beer.

Samuel Adams Honey Porter is part of their Brewmaster's Collection. The beers in this group are some of the best that Sam Adams has to offer. I picked up the Brewmaster's case this weekend. It's a 12 pack of beer with 6 different varieties. If you are looking to try a lot of new styles of beer without blind buying a 6 pack, this is the way to go.

The Honey Porter is a dark, fragrant beer. It's black with a mocha colored head. The aroma a strong and sweet. It reminds me a lot of coffee, sort of a brewed (non-beer) scent with hints of malt and honey. The flavor is a lot like what I expected. It is very smooth with no carbonation. There are light hop flavors, but those are overpowered by the smooth, coffee-like malts. There is no strong bite in the Honey Porter. This isn't exactly what I would call a Summer beer. It is thick and it is heavy. I certainly wouldn't buy a 6 pack of this for a weekend cook out. It's the kind of beer that you have when you just want one and you want to enjoy it. This is a sipper. It's a good beer, but it definitely has its time and place.

Friday, May 25, 2007 

Supreme Discomfort Discussion

Supreme Discomfort is a new book about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I've read a few Thomas books in the past (Judging Thomas and Resurrection come to mind immediately), but I haven't had the chance to read this one yet. It's on my Summer reading list though.

In these two video clips, Gwen Ifill interviews the authors, Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher...

The book sounds like an interesting examination of one of the Court's most interesting personalities.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 

The Least Hated Branch

The Judiciary (Supreme Court) has the highest approval rating of the three branches of government at 51%. That's kind of like being valedictorian of summer school... not exactly a source of pride. I'm sure that this has something to do with the lower profile of the Court. Most of the public is ignorant of most of their docket. The big cases make the news and cause shifts in approval for a while. Speaking of the big cases, here's some polling info on the recent partial birth abortion cases...

It will be interesting to see how the public reacts when the school-race cases are handed down.

Monday, May 21, 2007 

An Eventful Morning

At 9:30 this morning, I swore the attorney's oath in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I am officially licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. Heavy, I know.

I arrived at the State Capitol building early this morning and headed to the second floor, home of our Supreme Court. I signed in with the friendly people from the Board of Bar Examiners at their table, showed them my ID, paid them for their hard work, and got my information packet. The first group of my classmates was already lined up when I arrived, waiting to enter the court room. We were broken into groups alphabetically by last name. My H last name put me in the center of group #2.

Slowly, more of my groupmates showed up, signed in, and joined me in our hallway waiting game. A lot of people brought their families. My parents were there, but took a short tour of the Capitol before the ceremony. That left me alone for a while. I took the time to chat a little with a few friends, but honestly, not much was said. We've spent the last two days together for our hooding and graduation ceremonies. There had been more than enough waiting time between, during, and after those ceremonies for us to say just about everything that we had to say to each other.

Eventually, the first group came out of the court room and the rest of us were all lined up for our turn. Our families were let in before us so we could have the privilege of marching into the room in front of them. Isn't it great to have an entire room of people staring at you? As we filed in, I saw that one of my old classmates Quinn had shown up for the ceremony. He graduated a semester early and works in Madison. It was a pleasant surprise.

We all walked into the court room and made our way to the chairs placed right in front of the bench. And I mean that it was right in front of it. I was in the second row of seats, but I could have touched the bench if i leaned all the way forward in my chair. The marshal of the court gave us all some instructions about the ceremony. Then she disappeared to get the Justices.

After a few minutes, the marshal gave the "all rise" order and the seven Justices walked into the court room. They took their places behind the bench, and we were told to sit. Chief Justice Abrahamson welcomed us and gave us a brief rundown of the ceremony. There were remarks from the Director of the Board of Bar Examiners. He certified that we all had the character and fitness to serve as lawyers. The BBE basically does a background check on us. Dean Kearney of the law school then spoke, moving for us graduates to be admitted to the state bar. As he introduced us each by name, we stood up.

Once we were all on our feet, Justice Bradley took over and administered the oath to us. The oath is pretty long and contains great words like "lucre." After "So help me God," everyone clapped for us and seven hundred camera flashes went off. My mom claims that she got a great shot of the back of my head during the oath, which is... great. But hey, it's better than nothing.

After the oath, Justice Butler made some remarks about the importance of the legal profession and its role in society. The state bar president also made some remarks, praising our hard work, pledging to help us in our careers, and urging us to get involved with the state bar. The Chief Justice closed the ceremony. She reminded us all of the importance of an independent bar and an independent judiciary. She urged us to get involved in pro bono work and to use our talents to help people who can't pay our normal hourly rates. And that was that.

After leaving the court room, I said a few good-byes to my classmates. We all had to go over to Monona Terrace for a reception, but I didn't intend on staying long so I decided to say bye while at the court. I talked to Quinn briefly, making sure to give him a hard time for taking a break on taxpayer time. He works for the state.

At the Terrace, I picked up my state bar materials (including my first name tag with the "Atty" title in front of my name) and signed the roll of attorneys (it's a big book with names). A glass of water later, I was on my way home. Quite a morning.

Friday, May 18, 2007 

I have...

...serious writer's block.

Thursday, May 10, 2007 

And People Wonder Why I Don't Vote Democrat

Beer tax proposal rises next week

Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, and State Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, announced today they would introduce legislation next week to raise the beer tax for the first time since 1969.

Under their proposal, the tax on a 12-ounce bottle of beer would increase from 2.4 to 3 cents a bottle, generating approximately $40 million a year for alcohol abuse prevention, treatment and enforcement.
Thanks to Owen for the pointer.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007 


Last night at 8:30 pm, I walked out of my last exam of law school (God willing that I passed them all). It's been a long and difficult ride. It's also been a lot of fun and very fulfilling. Now that exams are over, I should be posting much more often. There are a bunch of pending Supreme Court decisions, the looming possibility that cert will be granted in the Parker DC handgun ban case, and a bunch of other legal news to discuss. I certainly won't be lacking material.

It feels weird to get out of "exam" mode and into "never going to school again" mode. The exam period really takes over my entire life. I missed out on a lot of cool stuff during the last few weeks. I missed the WisPolitics Blog Summit, which I was interested in attending. I missed the Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference, which was being held a few blocks down the street from school. I missed out on having a beer with Simon while he was here for the aforementioned conference. I missed seeing the Brewers crush the Pirates last Friday (box seats with full catering too). Sacrifices were definitely made during this exam period, but that's the way it has to be. And hey, I got a J.D. out of it (I hope).

Now I'm getting back to the job search process. If anyone knows of any cool legal or political job opportunities, drop me an e-mail at the linked address in the box at the top of the right hand column.

About me

  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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