Thursday, March 19, 2015

Arresting Robots?

Excellent article over at

Perhaps our legal system can assuage these fears somewhat. "Criminal law plays an important role in giving people a sense of personal confidence," Hallevy writes. "If any individual or group is not subject to the criminal law, the personal confidence of the other individuals is severely harmed because those who are not subject to the criminal law have no incentive to obey the law." But if we understand that drug-buying bots and self-driving cars must abide by the same rules we all follow, and face similar punishments when they transgress, perhaps some of our anxieties about their potential behavior will dissipate.
Is this perspective fair to robots, though? Essentially, it puts them on the same level as people, even though they're clearly not human. The robot that killed Robert Williams in 1979 had no conception of morality. Neither did the ecstasy-buying bot.
In Hallevy's estimation, such concerns are unfounded. "Criminal liability does not require that offenders possess all human capabilities, only some," he writes. "If an AI entity possesses these capabilities, then logically and rationally, criminal liability can be imposed whenever an offense is committed."
Are Robots and robotic machinations to be held to the same standard of criminal culpability as humans? Can they be convicted of a crime? Who is responsible if a drunk person is in a cab driven by a robot?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jury for a Coroner's Inquest

Monroe County on Tuesday picked a jury for its first coroner's inquest in 30 years, according to County Coroner Bob Allen, at the county courthouse in Stroudsburg.
Six regular and two alternate jurors were picked from a pool of more than 20 residents to hear and rule on suspicious circumstances surrounding the Dec. 27 death of William Collins, 92, who lived with his caregiver in A Pocono Country Place, Coolbaugh Township. The jury of six men and two women in mid-April will hear witness testimony and see visual evidence presented.
The jury will then deliberate to give an unbiased opinion as to Collins' cause and manner of death and, if it's believed to be a homicide, who likely committed that homicide. The jury's opinion must be unanimous.
The Coroner's Office in more normal situations determines cause and manner of death. For example, "cause" would be listed as "gunshot wound" and "manner" as "homicide" or "suicide" on the death certificate.

It is indeed rare, especially in Monroe County, to request a Coroner's Inquest to determine whether criminal charges should be filed, but it does occasionally happen.

Friday, March 6, 2015

"Barrett man convicted in child porn case"

After a two-hour deliberation, a jury Friday convicted Nathan Sauers, 35, of Barrett Township, on 10 counts of possessing child pornography, 10 counts of distributing child pornography and one count of criminally using a communication facility.
Sauers had posted on $20,000 bail after his Aug. 12, 2013, arrest on charges, but upon his conviction Friday was placed back in Monroe County Correctional Facility in lieu of bail modified to $100,000 by County Court Judge Jon Mark.
District Attorney's Office detectives had charged Sauers of downloading multiple child porn images between Aug. 4 and Aug. 8, 2013.
The defense and prosecution presented closing arguments Friday morning, prior to jury deliberation.
Attorney Brad Weidenbaum, who with attorney Axel Jones is representing Sauers, said there was reasonable doubt as to who in the Sauers household was using the computer, whether any child porn was in fact downloaded to the computer and, if so, whether there was in fact intent to download child porn. Software programs like the one Sauers used are notoriously virus-prone and can download files containing material not wanted by the user, Weidenbaum said.

Split verdict...

Nathan Robert Sauers was convicted today of 10 counts of dissemination of child pornography, 10 counts of possession of child pornography, and 1 count of unlawful use of a communications device. However, he was acquitted of 70 other counts of possession of child pornography. He faces sentencing in May as well as an assessment as to whether he would qualify as a sexually violent predator.

To be clear, he was not charged with or convicted of producing any child pornography, and the counts that did result in a conviction were unambiguously shown to be the effect of downloading a bit torrent like program and not properly securing his computer.

I have had the honour of working with Attorney Bradley Weidenbaum for the past year on this case and although I am disappointed in the convictions I am hopeful as to the acquittals.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A lawyer for a Kentucky man who spent several days in jail after posting violent song lyrics on Facebook says he should be cleared of a felony charge.
James E. Evans was charged in late August with terroristic threatening and spent several days in jail. Evans had posted the lyrics from a song by the heavy metal band Exodus that included the words, "student bodies lying dead in the halls."
Bill Sharp, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, says the case is a free speech issue. The ACLU announced Wednesday that it is representing Evans.
"At this point, we're looking to have him completely exonerated," Sharp said.
Evans was charged by a law enforcement officer for the Muhlenberg County schools, about 100 miles west of Louisville. Evans lives in the county.
County officials did not return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.
The school officer, Mike Drake, told WFIE-TV in Evansville that several agencies received calls about Evans' post, and the arrest warrant said he was taken into custody because he threatened to kill students or school staff. It was not clear what school the warrant was referring to. A phone message left for Drake was not returned Wednesday.;_ylt=AwrBT7VCqvJUyKUAxbLBGOd_;_ylu=X3oDMTByZDBpbXI5BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDNQRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw--

Drake should be fired, excommunicated and sued into bankruptcy. I try not to curse or use epithets here, but he has every indication of being an asshole.

Preparing to go back to trial...

Trial this Tuesday with attorney Bradley W. Weidenbaum, we've prepped the case as best we could. It will be a difficult case but Brad is an excellent litigator and the client could not be in better hands.