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Piano keys descending

by Walter Olson on September 24, 2014

Further reading on the federal regulations forcing destruction of ivory keys when old pianos are sold across state lines [Sally Phillips, Piano World, Piano Buyer (Sen. Alexander, Rep. Daines introduce relief bills), Doug Bandow, Cato, earlier here (violin bows), here, etc.] Miscellaneous on ivory and antiques: John Leydon/WSJ (“Grandma’s Cameo Becomes Yard Sale Contraband,” related here (raid on auction by “heavily-armed” California agents) and here.


No, the monkey doesn’t own copyright in the picture it reportedly snapped of itself. But does anyone own it, or is it public domain from the time of the click? [David Post/Volokh, The Passive Voice with comments, GigaOm, BuzzFeed]


“Busted for Off-Leash Dog, Man Ordered Not to Leave Southern California,” reads the headline. John Gladwin lives right next to a national park in the mountains outside Los Angeles, and has had a series of run-ins with park police after letting his Australian cattle dog, Molly, roam on both sides of the boundary. Now Gladwin “cannot leave a seven-county area, for any reason, without permission from his probation officer.” [L.A. Weekly]


“Exxon Mobil Corp. isn’t responsible for alligators overrunning a rural dump site it owns in Mississippi, the state supreme court ruled, because the global oil explorer can’t control wild animals. … Even if Exxon had wanted to cull the congregation, it would have been prevented by state law that designates alligators as a protected species, making it illegal to hunt or disturb them, according to the ruling.” [Bloomberg/Insurance Journal]

“The lawsuit claims [owner] knew the duck had ‘Abnormally dangerous propensities in attacking people.'” [Lowering the Bar, KATU; Estacada, Ore.]


Environmental roundup

by Walter Olson on March 12, 2014

  • Environmental advocates and their fans in the press come off badly in Chevron/Ecuador litigation scandal [Coyote, earlier]
  • Drought disaster unfolds in California’s Central Valley, where project water is allocated by fiat, not bid for in market [Allysia Finley, WSJ; San Jose Mercury-News]
  • Other large democracies resist the idea of packing environmental terms into trade treaties, and maybe they’re right [Simon Lester, Cato]
  • “A Tough Day in Court for the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations” [Andrew Grossman]
  • R.I.P. leading environmental law professor Joseph Sax [NYT, I discussed his work in Schools for Misrule]
  • Lawyers have hijacked Endangered Species Act [Congressional Working Group report via Washington Examiner editorial]
  • When science begins bringing extinct animals back to life, watch for unintended legal consequences [Tyler Cowen]
  • After criticism of heavy-handed Ankeny, Iowa police raid on persons suspected of credit card fraud, not actually reassuring to be told militarized methods needed because one house occupant had firearms carry permit [Radley Balko, more, more]
  • Advocates strain mightily to fit unpopular Dunn verdict into Stand Your Ground theme [David Kopel, Jacob Sullum] More: sorry, pundits, but Rasmussen poll shows public’s plurality SYG support unshaken [Althouse]
  • “‘Drop the Cabbage, Bullwinkle!': Alaskan Man Faces Prison for the Crime of Moose-Feeding” [Evan Bernick, Heritage] “Criminalizing America: How Big Government Makes A Criminal of Every American” [ALEC "State Factor"]
  • “We’ve also bred into dogs … an eagerness to please us.” Bad news for K-9 forensics [Balko]
  • “Has overcharging killed the criminal trial?” [Legal Ethics Forum] Is the “trial penalty” a myth? [David Abrams via Dan Markel, Scott Greenfield]
  • What if cops, as opposed to, say, gun owners, were obliged by law to purchase liability insurance? [Popehat]
  • That’s productivity: North Carolina grand jury managed to crank out roughly one indictment every 52 seconds [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

“Basically, we have someone that just is not getting the fact that you have to be in control of your animal when it’s off your property,” said Capt. Bob Brown of Brevard County, Florida, Animal Services, speaking of the $230 in fines Yvonne Steel was slapped with for having an off-leash cat along with a couple of other animal offenses. “Animal services said there are no exceptions to the leash law, even for disabled animals,” and noted that one rationale for the law is that an unleashed pet might be attacked by other animals, although what help a leash would have contributed for this particular pet is not clear. [WESH] Correction/update: not so unreasonable, as commenter Nevins points out: the cat is mobile when in the wheeled device and not reliant on its mistress as I had wrongly assumed.


“The flower was packaged with a warning about not being for human consumption and about the risk of staining clothing, but there was nothing about potential harm to cats, said [Charley Gee, a] Southeast Portland lawyer.” A pet cat chewed the lily’s leaves — which are toxic to felines — and required expensive veterinary care. The suit calls lilies unreasonably dangerous and says they should be labeled with cat-specific warnings. [Oregonian]


According to Ed Schulze, an employee of the Society of St. Francis animal shelter in Kenosha, Wisconsin, nine state agents and four deputy sheriffs were “armed to the teeth” and appeared “like a SWAT team” when they descended without warning on the shelter two weeks ago. Their target? A fawn that shelter employees had rescued and planned to release into a wildlife preserve the next day. Possession of wildlife is unlawful in Wisconsin, and officials proceeded to euthanize (kill) the juvenile deer. [WISN]

Asked later why the action was staged as a surprise raid, supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer told WISN, “If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up.”

Much of the reaction to this story concentrates on sympathy for the deer, which is understandable, but please spare some thought for what happens to humans when such police conduct comes to be accepted as normal. Our coverage of Radley Balko’s new book on police militarization, Rise of the Warrior Cop, is here, here, here, etc.


Radley Balko, often linked in this space, is out with a new book entitled Rise of the Warrior Cop, about the militarization of local police forces. [Reviews: Scott Greenfield, Diane Goldstein] A Salon excerpt details SWAT team raids over such offenses as sports gambling (“It [the Fairfax County, Va. 2006 shooting of football bettor Sal Culosi) wasn’t even the first time a Virginia SWAT team had killed someone during a gambling raid”) as well as dog shootings by police and aggressive actions against political protests. Balko has been devoting his Huffington Post column to such related topics as the police-industrial complex, and the ABA Journal also has an extensive treatment (related podcast).


Inspired in part by Hurricane Katrina, a new federal regulation requires commercial animal handlers to develop disaster contingency plans for their animals. Because working with even a single animal can put you under the rules, a magician in Missouri is now mulling how to assess what potential disasters may pose risks for his rabbit, what “materials, resources, and training needs” may be necessary to prepare for them, and how best to “identify a chain of command” given that it’s just him and the rabbit. [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]


“… I’d go with this one.” [Lowering the Bar]

“[14-year-old chow mix] Harley was confiscated from [owner Tammy] Brown in 2011 by a Pasco County, Fla., animal services officer and euthanized. At the time, he had some pus in his eyes and some of his skin was cracked and bleeding. Although Brown couldn’t afford to take the dog to the vet, the state argued at a hearing last year that she could have taken Harley to a local shelter or animal rescue.” [Martha Neil, ABA Journal]

More, follow-up story on sentencing: after 36 days in jail, Brown drew six months house arrest, three years probation, $1,000 in court costs, and an order that she not own a pet of any kind. The prosecutor, pointing to earlier misdemeanor convictions not involving animals, had asked that she be given a year behind bars.


“The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources wants to prosecute Jeff and Jennifer Counceller for taking care of an injured deer that showed up on their doorstep.” [CBS Cleveland via Amy Alkon, Dan Mitchell] A while back I wrote about the case in which a Virginia family got in trouble with the feds after their 11-year-old rescued a baby woodpecker in their back yard and cared for it for a day or two before releasing it.


Key West, Fla.: “The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum reports that it currently houses between 40 and 50 cats [descended from the famous author's beloved six-toed cat]…. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled Friday that the Hemingway Home falls under the classification of an ‘animal exhibitor,’ subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act.” [David Demirbilek, Daily Caller; Christian Science Monitor; ABA Journal]


In the New York Daily News, Lawrence Cunningham argues that skewed economic incentives — some of them advanced by the actions of federal prosecutors, who applied muscle in a tax-fraud settlement to press for the casino-ization of Aqueduct Race Track — contributed to the deaths of 21 racehorses, most of whom were entered in races with purses artificially inflated so as far to exceed their own economic worth. “Politicians and prosecutors should not direct business changes without understanding their significance. What’s happening to the horses at Aqueduct could have been prevented.”

October 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 15, 2012