29 December 2006

Animal Taxonomy

From Wikipedia again (with related links):

Subregnum Parazoa
--Phylum Porifera (sponges) (5000 species, including 150 fresh water species)
--- Class Calcarea (bony)
--- Class Hexactenellida (glass)
--- Class Demospongiae (spongin) (90% of sponges)
Subregnum Eumetazoa
---Phylum Placozoa (2 species, 1 seen only once in 1896 (doubtful), soft-bodied, about 0.5 mm across, and somewhat resemble a large amoeba)
---Phylum Orthonectida (2 families, 5 genus, 20 species, tiny parasits of marine invertibates)
---Phylum Rhombozoa (cephalopod parasites under 1 cm in salt water)
-----Family Conocyemidae
-----Family Dicyemidae.
-Radiata (unranked)
---Phylum Ctenophora (comb jellies) (100 species)
-----Class Tentaculata (tenticles, make up by far the largest number of species)
------Order Cydippida, which includes the sea gooseberry (Pleurobrachia pileus)
------Order Platyctenida
------Order Ganeshida
------Order Thalassocalycida
------Order Lobata
------Order Cestida, which includes the Venus' belt (Cestum veneris)
-----Class Nuda (no tenticles)
------Order Beroida (includes the melon jelly (Beroe gracilis))
---Phylum Cnidaria (sea anemones, corals, and jellyfish) 11,000 species
-----Class Anthozoa (anemones, corals, etc.)
------Subclass Alcyonaria (= Octocorallia) (eight tentacles)
-------Order Alcyonacea (soft corals)
-------Order Gorgonacea (sea fans, sea feathers)
-------Order Helioporacea (Indo Pacific blue coral)
-------Order Pennatulacea (sea pens and sea pansies)
-------Order Stolonifera (organ pipe coral)
------Subclass Zoantharia (= Hexacorallia) (more than 8 tentacles - typically 12)
-------Order Antipatharia (black corals, thorny corals)
-------Order Scleractinia (=Madreporaria) (stony corals)
-------Order Corallimorpharia
-------Order Ptychodactiaria
------Subclass Hexacorallia (Sea anemones)
-------Order Actiniaria (4 suborders, 46 families)
--------Suborder Endocoelantheae
--------Suborder Nyantheae
--------Suborder Protantheae
--------Suborder Ptychodacteae
-----Class Scyphozoa (jellyfish)
------Order Stauromedusae (stalked jellyfish)
----------Family Cleistocarpidae
----------Family Eleutherocarpidae
----------Family Kyopodidae
----------Family Tesseranthidae
------Order Coronatae (crown jellyfish)
----------Family Atollidae
----------Family Atorellidae
----------Family Collaspididae
----------Family Linuchidae
----------Family Nausithoidae
----------Family Paraphyllinidae
----------Family Periphyllidae
----------Family Tetraplatidae
------Order Semaeostomeae (flag mouth jellyfish)
----------Family Cyaneidae
----------Family Depastridae
----------Family Halicyathidae
----------Family Pelagiidae
----------Family Ulmaridae
------Order Rhizostomae (no tenticles jellyfish)
--------Suborder Daktyliophorae
----------Family Catostylidae
----------Family Lobonematidae
----------Family Lychnorhizidae
----------Family Rhizostomatidae
----------Family Stomolophidae
--------Suborder Kolpophorae
----------Family Cassiopeidae
----------Family Cepheidae
----------Family Mastigiidae
----------Family Thysanostomatidae
----------Family Versurigidae
-----Class Cubozoa (box jellies including sea wasps)
----------Family Chirodropidae (4 genus, 7 species)
----------Family Carybdeidae (5 genus, 12 species)
-----Class Hydrozoa (Obelia, Aequorea, Portuguese Man o' War, etc.)
------Subclass Anthomedusae
------Subclass Laingiomedusae
------Subclass Leptomedusae
------Subclass Limnomedusae
------Subclass Siphonophorae
------Subclass Actinulidae
------Subclass Narcomedusae
------Subclass Trachymedusae

-Bilateria (unranked)
---Phylum Acoelomorpha
----Class Acoela (gutless flatworms)
----Class Nemertodermatida
---Phylum Myxozoa tiny, multistage fish and worm parasites)
----Class Malacosporea
----Class Myxosporea
---Phylum Chaetognatha (predatory marine worms in plankton, 3-120mm, 15 genus, 100 species)
----Class Archisagittoidea
----Class Sagittoidea
--Superphylum Deuterostomia
---Phylum Chordata (see separate post)
---Phylum Hemichordata (100 species)
----Class Enteropneusta (acorn worms)
----Class Pterobranchia
----Class Planctosphaeroidea (1 species, seen in one life cycle stage only)
---Phylum Echinodermata (7000 species)
----Class Asteroidea (asteroids, starfish, or sea stars): about 1,500 species that capture prey for their own food.
----Class Concentricycloidea (sea daisies), notable for their unique water vascular system; two species; recently merged into Asteroidea.
----Class Crinoidea (crinoids, feather stars or sea lilies): about 600 species that are suspension feeders.
----Class Echinoidea (echinoids, sea urchins and sand dollars): notable for their movable spines; about 1,000 species.
----Class Holothuroidea (sea cucumbers): elongated animals resembling slugs; about 1,000 species.
----Class Ophiuroidea (brittle stars and basket stars), the physically largest of echinoderms; about 1,500 species.
---Phylum Xenoturbellida (two marine worm-like species in one genus)
--Superphylum Ecdysozoa
---Phylum Kinorhyncha
---Phylum Loricifera (marine sediment-dwelling animals with about a twenty-one known species in six genera)
---Phylum Priapulida (penis worm, lives in mud in shallow sea water, 7 genera)
----Class Priapulimorpha
-----Order Priapulimorphida
------Family Priapulidae
-------Genus Acanthopriapulus
-------Genus Priapulopsis
-------Genus Priapulus
------Family Tubiluchidae
-------Genus Meiopriapulus
-------Genus Tubiluchus
----Class Halicryptomorpha
-----Order Halicryptomorphida
------Family Halicryptidae
-------Genus Halicryptus
----Class Seticoronaria
-----Order Seticoronarida
------Family Maccabeidae
-------Genus Maccabeus
---Phylum Nematoda
---Phylum Nematomorpha
---Phylum Onychophora
---Phylum Tardigrada
---Phylum Arthropoda
--Superphylum Platyzoa
---Phylum Platyhelminthes
---Phylum Gastrotricha
---Phylum Rotifera
---Phylum Acanthocephala
---Phylum Gnathostomulida
---Phylum Micrognathozoa
---Phylum Cycliophora
--Superphylum Lophotrochozoa
---Phylum Sipuncula
---Phylum Nemertea
---Phylum Phoronida
---Phylum Ectoprocta
---Phylum Bryozoa
---Phylum Entoprocta
---Phylum Brachiopoda
---Phylum Mollusca
---Phylum Annelida

Cordata Taxonomy

Cordata Taxonomy From Wikipedia (exitinct branches of the taxonomy suppressed), some information from links to the link above:

Phylum Chordata

-Subphylum Urochordata - Tunicates (tadpole like in youth, adults are fixed to a single location)
--Class Ascidiacea (Aplousobranchia, Phlebobranchia, and Stolidobranchia),
--Class Thaliacea,
--Class Appendicularia (Larvacea)
--Class Sorberacea.
[Newer evidence indicates that the Ascidiacea is an artificial group. The new classification would then look like this.]
-- Class Stolidobranchia,
-- Class Phlebobranchia and Thaliacea,
-- Class Aplousobranchia and Appendicularia,
-- Class Sorberacea would belong somewhere in Ascidiacea, or be in a taxon on its own

-Subphylum Cephalochordata - Lancelets (minnow sized sand worm like creatures)
Other sources show that there are up to thirty species.
--Family Asymmetronidæ (3 species in 2 genus)
--Family Branchiostomidæ (8 species in 1 genus)

-Subphylum Vertebrata (Vertebrates - animals with backbones)

--Infraphylum Agnatha (jawless vertebrates) (91 species)
---Class Myxini or Hyperotreti (hagfish) (50 species in 7 genus)
---Class Hyperoartia (Lampreys)
----One Class Cephalaspidomorphi, Order Petromyzontiformes and Family Petromyzontidae
-----Subfamily Geotriinae (1 species in 1 genus)
-----Subfamily Mordaciinae (3 species in 1 genus)
-----Subfamily Petromyzontinae (37 species in 7 genus)

-Infraphylum Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates)

--Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish)
---Subclass Elasmobranchii (sharks, rays and skates)
----Superorder Batoidea (rays and skates)
----- Order Rajiformes (common rays and skates)
------ Family Anacanthobatidae (smooth skates)
------ Family Dasyatidae (stingrays).
------ Family Gymnuridae (butterfly rays)
------ Family Hexatrygonidae (sixgill stingrays)
------ Family Myliobatidae (eagle rays).
------ Family Plesiobatidae (deepwater stingrays)
------ Family Potamotrygonidae (river stingrays)
------ Family Rajidae (skates)
------ Family Rhinobatidae (guitarfishes).
------ Family Urolophidae (round rays)
----- Order Pristiformes (Sawfishes) (7 species in 2 genus)
----- Order Torpediniformes (electric rays) (69 species in 4 families)
----Superorder Selachimorpha (sharks)
----- Order Hexanchiformes
------ Family Chlamydoselachidae (1 species in 1 genus)
------ Family Hexanchidae (4 species in 3 genus)
----- Order Squaliformes (More than 80 species)
------ Family Echinorhinidae (bramble sharks) (2 genus, at least 3 species)
------ Family Centrophoridae (gulper sharks) (2 genus, 15 species)
------ Family Dalatiidae (sleeper sharks) (4 subfamilies, 17 genus)
------ Family Squalidae (dogfish sharks) (2 genus, 17 speciees)
----- Order Pristiophoriformes One family, 2 genus, 9 species.
----- Order Squatiniformes (angel sharks) One family, 1 genus, 19 species.
----- Order Heterodontiformes (horn sharks) One family, 1 genus, 10 species.
----- Order Orectolobiformes (carpet sharks) Seven families.
------Order Carcharhiniformes (ground sharks) Eight families and almost 200 species.
----- Order Lamniformes (Marckerel sharks)
-------Family Alopiidae (thresher sharks) (4 species)
-------Family Cetorhinidae (basking shark) (1 species)
-------Family Lamnidae (mackerel sharks) (3 genus with a total of 5 species)
-------Family Megachasmidae (megamouth shark) (1 species)
-------Family Mitsukurinidae (goblin shark) (1 species)
-------Family Carchariidae (sand tigers) (2 species)
-------Family Odontaspididae (Raggedtooths) (2 species)
-------Family Pseudicarchariidae (crocodile shark) (1 species)
---Subclass Holocephali (chimaera aka ghost sharks)
-------Family Callorhinchidae (3 species in 1 genus)
-------Family Chimaeridae (29 species in 2 genus)
-------Family Rhinochimaeridae (9 species in 2 genus)

-Superclass Osteichthyes (bony fishes)
--Class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish) (27,000 species)
---Subclass Chondrostei
------Order Polypteriformes, including the bichirs and reedfishes
------Order Acipenseriformes, including the sturgeons and paddlefishes
---Subclass Neopterygii
----Infraclass Holostei
------Order Lepisosteiformes, the gars
------Order Amiiformes, the bowfins
----Infraclass Teleostei
-----Superorder Osteoglossomorpha
------Order Osteoglossiformes, the bony-tongued fishes
------Order Hiodontiformes, including the mooneye and goldeye
-----Superorder Elopomorpha
------Order Elopiformes, including the ladyfishes and tarpon
------Order Albuliformes, the bonefishes
------Order Notacanthiformes, including the halosaurs and spiny eels
------Order Anguilliformes, the true eels and gulpers
------Order Saccopharyngiformes, including the gulper eel
-----Superorder Clupeomorpha
------Order Clupeiformes, including herrings and anchovies
-----Superorder Ostariophysi
------Order Gonorynchiformes, including the milkfishes
------Order Cypriniformes, including barbs, carp, danios, goldfishes, loaches, minnows, rasboras
------Order Characiformes, including characins, pencilfishes, hatchetfishes, piranhas, tetras.
------Order Gymnotiformes, including electric eels and knifefishes
------Order Siluriformes, the catfishes
-----Superorder Protacanthopterygii
------Order Salmoniformes, including salmon and trout
------Order Esociformes the pike
------Order Osmeriformes, including the smelts and galaxiids
-----Superorder Stenopterygii
------Order Ateleopodiformes, the jellynose fish
------Order Stomiiformes, including the bristlemouths and marine hatchetfishes
-----Superorder Cyclosquamata
------Order Aulopiformes, including the Bombay duck and lancetfishes
-----Superorder Scopelomorpha
------Order Myctophiformes, including the lanternfishes
-----Superorder Lampridiomorpha
------Order Lampriformes, including the oarfish, opah and ribbonfishes
-----Superorder Polymyxiomorpha
------Order Polymixiiformes, the beardfishes
-----Superorder Paracanthopterygii
------Order Percopsiformes, including the cavefishes and trout-perches
------Order Batrachoidiformes, the toadfishes
------Order Lophiiformes, including the anglerfishes
------Order Gadiformes, including cods
------Order Ophidiiformes, including the pearlfishes
-----Superorder Acanthopterygii
------Order Mugiliformes, the mullets
------Order Atheriniformes, including silversides and rainbowfishes
------Order Beloniformes, including the flyingfishes
------Order Cetomimiformes, the whalefishes
------Order Cyprinodontiformes, including livebearers, killifishes
------Order Stephanoberyciformes, including the ridgeheads
------Order Beryciformes, including the fangtooths and pineconefishes
------Order Zeiformes, including the dories
------Order Gobiesociformes, the clingfishes
------Order Gasterosteiformes including sticklebacks, pipefishes, seahorses
------Order Syngnathiformes, including the seahorses and pipefishes
------Order Synbranchiformes, including the swamp eels
------Order Tetraodontiformes, including the filefishes and pufferfish
------Order Pleuronectiformes, the flatfishes
------Order Scorpaeniformes, including scorpionfishes and the weaver fish
------Order Perciformes 40% of all fish including anabantids, bass, cichlids, gobies, gouramis, mackerel, perches, scats, whiting, wrasses

--Class Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish)
---Coelacanths (1 subclass, 1 order, 1 family, 1 genus, 2 species)
---Subclass Dipnoi (Lungfish) (6 species)
-----Order Ceratodontiformes (1 family, 1 genus, 1 species)
-----Order Lepidosireniformes
-------Family Lepidosirenidae - South American lungfish (1 species)
-------Family Protopteridae - African lungfish (4 species)

-Superclass Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates)

--Class Amphibia (amphibians)
---Subclass Lissamphibia (frogs, salamanders, etc)
----Superorder Salientia
-----Order Anura (frogs and toads) 5,296 species
------Suborder Archaeobatrachia, which includes 28 species of primitive frogs
-------Family Ascaphidae
-------Family Bombinatoridae
-------Family Discoglossidae
-------Family Leiopelmatidae
------Suborder Mesobatrachia, which includes 6 families of more evolutionary intermediate frogs, 20 genera and 168 species
------Suborder Neobatrachia, 24 families of "modern" frogs, 5000 species (96% of frogs)
-------Family Allophrynidae
-------Family Arthroleptidae
-------Family Astylosternidae
-------Family Brachycephalidae
-------Family Bufonidae
-------Family Centrolenidae
-------Family Dendrobatidae
-------Family Heleophrynidae
-------Family Hemisotidae
-------Family Hylidae 800 species
-------Family Hyperoliidae
-------Family Leptodactylidae 1100 species
-------Family Limnodynastidae
-------Family Mantellidae
-------Family Microhylidae
-------Family Myobatrachidae
-------Family Nasikabatrachidae
-------Family Petropedetidae
-------Family Ranidae 750 species
-------Family Rhacophoridae
-------Family Rheobatrachidae
-------Family Rhinodermatidae
-------Family Sooglossidae
-----Order Caudata or Urodela (salamanders): 555 species
------Suborder Cryptobranchoidea (Giant salamanders)
-------Family Cryptobranchoidea (Giant salamanders)
-------Family Hynobiidae (Asiatic salamanders)
------Suborder Salamandroidea (Advanced salamanders)
-------Family Ambystomatidae (mole salamanders)
-------Family Amphiumidae (Congo eels)
-------Family Dicamptodontidae (Pacific giant salamanders)
-------Family Plethodontidae (lungless salamanders)
-------Family Proteidae (mudpuppies)
-------Family Rhyacotritonidae (torrent salamanders)
-------Family Salamandridae (true salamanders)
------Suborder Sirenoidea (Sirens)
-------Family Sirenidae
-----Order Gymnophiona or Apoda (caecilians --legless): 171 species
-------Family Beaked Caecilians (Rhinatrematidae) - 2 genera, 9 species
-------Family Fish Caecilians (Ichthyophiidae) - 2 genera, 39 species
-------Family Indian Caecilians (Uraeotyphlidae) - 1 genus, 5 species
-------Family Tropical Caecilians (Scolecomorphidae) - 2 genera, 6 species
-------Family Aquatic Caecilians (Typhlonectidae) - 5 genera, 13 species
-------Family Common Caecilians (Caeciliidae) - 26 genera, 99 species

-Series Amniota (amniotic egg)

--Class Sauropsida - (reptiles)
---Subclass Anapsida (= Parareptilia)
----Order Testudines (turtles) 300 species
-----Suborder Cryptodira
-------Family Chelydridae (Snapping Turtles)
------Superfamily Testudinoidae
-------Family Testudinidae (Tortoises)
-------Family Geoemydidae (Asian River Turtles, Leaf and Roofed Turtles, Asian Box Turtles)
-------Family Emydidae (Pond Turtles/Box and Water Turtles)
------Superfamily Trionychoidae
-------Family Carettochelyidae (Pignose Turtles)
-------Family Trionychidae (Softshell Turtles)
------Superfamily Kinosternoidae
-------Family Dermatemydidae (River Turtles)
-------Family Kinosternidae (Mud and Musk Turtles)
-------Family Platysternidae (Big-headed Turtles)
------Superfamily Chelonioidae (Sea Turtles)
-------Family Cheloniidae (Green Sea Turtles and relatives)
-------Family Dermochelyidae (Leatherback Turtles)
-----Suborder Pleurodira
-------Family Chelidae (Austro-American Sideneck Turtles)
------Superfamily Pelomedusoidae
-------Family Pelomedusidae (Afro-American Sideneck Turtles)
-------Family Podocnemididae (Madagascan Big-headed and American Sideneck River Turtles)
---Superorder Lepidosauria
----Order Sphenodontida (tuatara) (1 family, 1 genus, 2 species)
----Order Squamata (lizards and snakes)
-----Suborder Iguania (the iguanas and chameleons)
-----Suborder Scleroglossa
------Infraorder Gekkota (the geckos)
-------Subfamily Diplodactylinae
-------Subfamily Eublepharinae
-------Subfamily Gekkoninae
-------Subfamily Aeluroscalabotinae
-------Subfamily Teratoscincinae
------Infraorder Anguimorpha (the monitors, goannas, Komodo dragon, Gila monster, and slow-worms)
------Infraorder Scincomorpha (skinks and common European lizards)
------Infraorder Serpentes (the snakes)
-------Family Elapids - cobras, king cobras, kraits, mambas, Australian copperheads, and coral snakes.
-------Family Viperids - vipers, rattlesnakes, copperheads/cottonmouths, adders and bushmasters.
-------Family Colubrids - boomslangs, tree snakes, vine snakes, mangrove snakes, and many others, though not all colubrids are venomous.
-------Family Hydrophiidae - sea snakes
------Infraorder Amphisbaenia (worm lizards)
-------Family Amphisbaenidae
-------Family Trogonophidae
-------Family Bipedidae (1 genus, 3 species, only in Mexico)
-Infraclass Archosauromorpha (23 species)
---Superorder Crocodylomorpha
----Order Crocodylia (crocodiles and relatives)
-----Superfamily Gavialoidea
-------Family Gavialidae - Gharials & False Gharials (2 genus, 2 species)
-----Superfamily Alligatoroidea
-------Family Alligatoridae
--------Subfamily Alligatorinae - Alligators (1 genus, 2 species)
--------Subfamily Caimaninae - Caimans (3 genus, 6 species)
-----Superfamily Crocodyloidea
-------Family Crocodylidae
--------Subfamily Crocodylinae - Crocodiles (2 genus, 13 species)
--Class Aves (birds) 8,800–10,200 species
--- Superorder Paleognathae ("old jaws") (60 species)
----- Order Struthioniformes (flightless)
-------Family Struthionidae (ostriches) (1 species)
-------Family Rheidae (rheas) (2 species)
-------Family Casuariidae (emus etc.) (2 genus, 4 species)
-------Family Apterygidae (kiwis) (6 species)
----- Order Tinamiformes (primative flying) (1 family, 9 genus, 47 species) (Latin America only)
--- Superorder Neognathae
----- Order Anseriformes, waterfowl
----- Order Galliformes, fowl
----- Order Gaviiformes, loons
----- Order Podicipediformes, grebes
----- Order Procellariiformes, albatrosses, petrels, and allies
----- Order Sphenisciformes, penguins
----- Order Pelecaniformes, pelicans and allies
----- Order Ciconiiformes, storks and allies
----- Order Phoenicopteriformes, flamingos
----- Order Falconiformes, falcons, eagles, hawks and allies
----- Order Gruiformes, cranes and allies
----- Order Charadriiformes, gulls, button-quail, plovers and allies
----- Order Pteroclidiformes, sandgrouse
----- Order Columbiformes, doves and pigeons
----- Order Psittaciformes, parrots and allies
----- Order Cuculiformes, cuckoos, turacos, hoatzin
----- Order Strigiformes, owls
----- Order Caprimulgiformes, nightjars and allies
----- Order Apodiformes, swifts and hummingbirds
----- Order Coraciiformes, kingfishers
----- Order Piciformes, woodpeckers and allies
----- Order Trogoniformes, trogons
----- Order Coliiformes, mousebirds
----- Order Passeriformes, passerines
--Class Mammalia (mammals) (see separate post).

28 December 2006

2000 Posts

This is my 2000th post at Wash Park Prophet, which is now about a week short of a year and a half old.

On top of this blog, I have also posted a couple of hundred stories at Colorado Confidential (some of which, like a list of endorsements in the state, were regularly updated for a prolonged period), a small number of posts at Wash Park Poet (about 165 text pages worth, although most were written before I started Wash Park Prophet and only modestly editted before publishing them online), and a number of diaries at Daily Kos, Square State and Colorado Pols in this time period.

This is over 4 posts a day, every day, for the past year and a half. While I don't necessarily agree with one fellow blogger's characterization of my posts as "long winded," I do like to write in paragraphs rather than sentence fragments attached to links. It isn't unusual for a Wash Park Prophet post or Colorado Confidential story to have several hundred words.

On top of these posts and diaries, I've made often lengthy comments on other people's posts and diaries at those blogs, and several others, including a number of comments at Creative Destruction, SCOTUS blog, various law profs blogs, and the Physics Forums, have contributed to both dkospedia and Wikipedia, and have done a little copy editing of the free fiction Kelley Armstrong makes available at her website.

In addition I have written often lengthy responses to e-mail from readers and fellow Colorado Confidential writers with questions and comments, spent considerable time on the Internet looking for new stories to write about, helped with some state legislative issues, and done a day job as an attorney in a small firm, which also involves a lot of typing.

On top of this I've written 360 pages in long hand journals since this blog began, written quite a few miscellaneous ideas in lengthy computer documents that never ended up as blog material and was never included in a long hand journal, and have had a very small anonymous online writing project.

It is too much. I could certainly continue to generate new ideas at the same pace, despite some rare dry spells, which are terrifying. It is also nice to no longer have countless bankers boxes and file cabinet drawers filled with little scraps of paper with ideas written on them, as I had for years before I started blogging. But, I don't think it is good for my continuing physical health to do so much writing. I am feeling the very early stages of repetitive stress injury in my hands, and if I don't take some pretty bold action to address it, I will pay dearly for that choice. It also simply takes too much time do to this somewhat scatter shot kind of writing, which should probably be more focused on writing more polished and longer pieces for old fashioned print publications, and on getting more exercise (suffice it to say that I weigh a lot more than I did when I graduated from high school).

In 2007, I'll be scaling back my participation at Colorado Confidential, and also plan on cutting back the amount that I post here and elsewhere.

This is not a Goodbye Cruel World post. I'm not discontinuing Wash Park Prophet (although my New Year's Resolutions include an upgrade of this blog to a different platform than old style Blogger, in addition to some other nuts and bolts issues like a possible conversion of my laptop to Linux and some neglected virus protection software installation on another home computer). And, I'm not planning to end my association with Colorado Confidential either, although I will write there less often.

I may even increase my fiction writing a little to the point where it is a regular weekly activity, although not nearly as much as I'm decreasing my other kinds of writing. And, another of my New Year's Resolutions is to get an article or two, at least, published in print.

As always, feel free to add any comments you may have on meta issues related to this blog. Comments are always, well, almost always, appreciated.

Mammal Diversity

Let's face it. You probably don't give a rats ass if a rare species of beetle goes extinct, even though you know that you should care. Veterbrates get more respect. By the time you get to mammals, it gets personal.

What mammals are out there, and how likely is it that they will stay around?

There are three subclasses of mammals.


The monotremes make up by far the smallest subclass of mammals, with just three species, found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. One of these is the duck-billed platypus, and the remaining two are the echidnas, or spiny anteaters.


There are about 250 species of marsupials, and they are found in a variety of habitats. About two-thirds of them live in Australia, Tasmania, or New Guinea, where they have evolved into a wide variety of forms, including plant-eaters such as kangaroos, koalas, and wombats, and also animals such as bandicoots and quolls, which have sharp teeth and feed largely on insects and other invertebrates. The remainder of the world's marsupials live in the Americas. They include about 70 different kinds of opossum, one of which—the Virginia opossum—is the only marsupial found in North America.

Placental Mammals

The third subclass of mammals, called placentals, includes about 4300 species, making it by far the largest of all three mammal groups. . . .

Biologists classify placental mammals into about 19 groups called orders (the exact number varies in different classification systems). The largest group, with about 1500 species, contains the rodents, such as rats, mice, squirrels, and porcupines. . . . Another major group of mammals, with about 1000 species, contains the bats. . . . Most large predatory land mammals belong to a group called the carnivores, which contains about 240 species. . . . Primates include animals such as lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans, and most of the 230 species live in trees.

The world's large plant-eating mammals are divided into two major groups. One group, called the artiodactyls, contains animals such as hogs, deer, cattle, and antelope, which have hoofed feet with an even number of toes. The other, a much smaller group called the perissodactylas, includes horses, tapirs, and rhinoceroses, which have an odd number of toes.

Some mammals have adapted to life in the water. The seals, including sea lions and walruses, can sleep and feed in the open ocean but must return to land in order to reproduce. Manatees and dugongs are large, plant-eating mammals that spend their entire lives in the water. The whales, including the huge baleen whales and the dolphins, are well adapted as fast, open-ocean predators. Still, like all other mammals, aquatic mammals would drown if they could not reach the surface to breathe.

The orders of placental mammals are as follows (emphasis added):

Order Artiodactyla (even-toed hoofed animals)
Hoofed animals with an even number of toes include those that ruminate, or digest their food in four-chamber stomachs and chew cuds, and those that do not ruminate. Those that ruminate are the families Girrafidae (giraffes). Cervidae (deer, moose, reindeer, elk). Antilocapridae (pronghorn antelope), and Bovidae (cattle, bison, yaks, waterbucks, wildebeest, gazelles, springboks, sheep, musk oxen, goats). Nonruminators include the families Suidae (pigs), Tayassuidae (peccaries), Hippopotamidae (hippopotamuses), and Camelidae (camels, llamas).

Order Carnivora (meat-eaters)
There are two suborders of these toe-footed creatures. They include the Canidae (wolves, dogs, jackals, foxes), Ursidae (bears, giant pandas), Procyonidae (coatis, raccoons, lesser pandas), and Mustelidae (martens, weasels, skunks, otters), all part of one superfamily that is characterized by long snouts and unretractable claws; and Felidae (cats, lions, cheetahs, leopards) Hyaenidae (hyenas), and Viverridae (mongooses, civets), all of which have retractable claws.

Order Cetacea (whales and purpoises)
Two suborders of Order Cetacea are the toothed whales, which have regular conical teeth, and the baleen, or whalebone, whales, which have irregular whalebone surfaces instead of teeth. Toothed whales include the families Physeteridae (sperm whales), Monodontidae (narwhals, belugas), Phocoenidae (porpoises), and Delphinidae (dolphins, killer whales). Baleens are in the family Eschrichtiidae (gray whales), Balaenidae (right whales), or Balaenoptridae (fin-backed whales, hump-backed whales).

Order Chiroptera (bats)
There are two suborders of bats, the only mammals that can fly. Suborder Megachiroptera contains one family, the Pteropodidae (flying foxes, Old Worm fruit bats). Suborder Microchiroptera contains 17 families, including: Rhinopomatidae (mouse-tailed bats), Emballonuridae (sheath tailed bats), Craseonycteridae (hog-nosed or butterfly bats), Noctilionidae (bulldog or fisherman bats), Nycteridae (slit-faced bats), Megadermatidae (false vampire bats), and Rhinolophidae (horseshoe bats).

Order Dermoptera (colugos or flying lemurs)
These gliding tree mammals from Asia do not fly and are not lemurs, but they are known as flying lemurs, or Family Cynocephalidae .

Order Edentata (toothless mammals)
Three families of mammals get by without teeth: Dasypodidae (armadillos), Bradypodidae (sloths), and Myrmecophagidae (hairy anteaters).

Order Hyracoidae (hyraxes, dassies
Order Hyracoidae is one of three orders that has only one modern family remaining. Procavia capensis (the African rock hyrax) is one of nine living species in the Family Procaviidae .

Order Insectivora (insect-eaters)
The three members are the families Talpidae (moles), Soricidae (shrews), and Erinaceidae (hedgehogs).

Order Lagomorpha (pikas, hares, and rabbits)
Two families make up this order: Ochotonidae (pikas) and Leporidae (hares and rabbits of all sorts).

Order Marsupialia (pouched animals)
Included among these are the families Caenolestidae (rat opossums), Diddeelphidae (true opossums), Dasyuridae (native cats, native mice), Notoryctidae (marsupial moles), Myrmecobiidae (numbats), Peramelidae (bandicoots), Phalangeridae (koalas), Vombatidae (wombats), and Macropodidae (kangaroos and wallabies).

Order Monotremata (egg-laying mammals)
These more primitive mammals make up the families Tachyglossidae (echidnas, also called spiny anteaters) and Ornithorhynchidae (platypuses).

Order Perissodactyla (odd-toed hoofed animals)
The two suborders, Hippomorpha and Ceratomorpha, include creatures that have an odd number of toes. Families in this order are the Equidae (horses, donkeys, zebras), the Tapiridae (tapirs), and the Rhinocerotidae (rhinoceroses).

Order Pholidata
Family Manidae (pangolins) is the sole family in this order.

Order Pinnipedia (seals and walruses)
In the fin-footed order there are Otariidae (eared seals, sea lions), Odobenidae (walruses), and Phocidae (earless seals).

Order Primates (primates)
The order to which people belong is divided into two suborders: The Prosimii , who have longer snouts than their relatives, and the Anthropoidae . The first group includes the families Tupalidae (tree shrew), Lemuridae (lemurs), Daubentonlidae (aye-ayes), Lorisidae (lorises, pottos), and Tarsiidae (tarsiers). The anthropoids include the families Callitrichidae (marmosets), Cebidae (New World monkeys), Cercopithecidae (baboons, Old World monkeys), Hylobatidae (gibbons), Pongidae (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans), and Hominidae (human beings).

Order Proboscidea (elephants)
Large enough to have an order all to itself is Family Elephantidae .

Order Rodentia (gnawing mammals)
The most prolific mammals, Order Rodentia includes three suborders. It takes in the families Aplodontidae (mountain beavers), Sciuridae (chipmunks, squirrels, marmots), Cricetidae (field mice, lemmings, muskrats, hamsters, gerbils), Muridae (Old World mice, rats), Heteromyidae (New World mice), Geomyidae (gophers), and Dipodidae (jerboas).

Order Sirenia (dugongs and manatees)
The families Trichechidae (manatees) and Dugongidae (dugongs and other sea cows) make up the Order Sirenia .

Order Tubulidentata (aardvarks)
Another mammal in an order by itself is Family Orycteropodidae.

Dealing With Defective U.S. Income Tax Forms

The silly folks in Congress amended the tax laws for 2006 after the I.R.S. had already finalized 2006 tax forms, extending several tax breaks that were due to expire. What is a poor taxpayer to do? The I.R.S. says it won't be qable to process claims for these extended tax breaks until early Feb., 2007 (presumably to allow updates of I.R.S. computer software). But, you can claim them on Form 1040 if do the following:

Sales taxes. An individual claims the deduction for state and local general sales taxes on Schedule A (Form 1040), line 5, “State and local income taxes” by entering “ST” on the dotted line to the left of line 5 to indicate he is deducting sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes. IRS will be mailing Pub. 600, which contains the state and local sales tax tables and instructions for claiming the sales tax deduction on Schedule A (Form 1040), to 6 million taxpayers who will receive the 2006 Form 1040 package in early January. IRS also has posted Pub. 600 on its website (see article in yesterday's Newsstand e-mail entitled "IRS issues optional sales tax tables for use in figuring sales tax deduction for 2006").

Tuition deduction. An individual must file Form 1040 to take this deduction for up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution. It cannot be claimed on Form 1040A. An individual claims the deduction on Form 1040, line 35, “Domestic production activities deduction” by entering “T” on the dotted line to the left of that line entry. An individual claiming both a deduction for domestic production activities and the deduction for tuition and fees should enter “B” on the dotted line. Those entering “B” must attach a breakdown showing the amounts claimed for each deduction.

Educator expenses. Educators must file Form 1040 in order to take the deduction for up to $250 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses under Code Sec. 62(a)(2)(D). It cannot be claimed on Form 1040A. An individual claims the deduction on Form 1040, line 23, “Archer MSA Deduction” by entering “E” on the dotted line to the left of that line entry. An individual claiming both an Archer MSA deduction and a deduction for educator expenses should enter “B” on the dotted line. Those entering “B” must attach a breakdown showing the amounts claimed for each deduction.

In practice, relatively few Coloradoans who itemize come out ahead claiming a sales tax deduction rather than an income tax deduction, but the tuition break is relevant to almost everyone who is in college or has a child in college, and most K-12 educators have out of pocket classrom expenses, so this may be the year that thye need to file form 1040 rather than the simplified form 1040A in many cases.

Good luck!

27 December 2006

No Charter Change

I agree with No Charter Change a group of people opposed to a Referendum on the January 30, 2006 ballot in Denver to abolish the Denver Election Commission and replace the commission with an elected clerk and recorder.

While the Commission clearly failed us in the November 2006 election, replacing it with an even worse alternative, an elected clerk and recorder, is a bad idea.

Fast Track Executions In Iraq

Barring a de facto pardon from Iraq's triple Presidency, Saddam Hussein is headed for an execution within 30 days from the Iraqi Supreme Court's ruling yesterday.

The appeal was decided just 51 days after the sentencing hearing.

In contrast, in American courts, it usually takes a month or two to transcribe the court record and transmit it to the higher court, after which briefing typically takes place over three months, after which there would ordinarily be a few weeks, at least, to prepare for oral argument, and after which it would ordinarily take months for a court to rule, if not longer. It would be unheard of for a first appeal in a capital case to be decided sooner than six months after a sentencing hearing in American courts, and often the process would take much longer.

In the American system there would also generally be a series of appeals in addition to the initial decision and direct appeals, called habeas corpus review. The average death row prisoner in the United States has been in prison for a decade or more prior to an execution.

The execution was not postponed to allow consideration of another capital case pending against the former Iraqi dictator, which may be rendered moot if it is not decided very swiftly.

The Death Penalty In Iraq

Obviously, a former head of state's case isn't typical. And, no one doubts that there were lengthy proceedings in the trial court, where a panel of judges presided, rather than the single judge and twelve person jury of American practice, and no one doubts that a great deal of time was spent reaching a decision after that trial.

But, the fact that this decision could happen so swiftly and other information about the death penalty in Iraq, suggest that should the Iraqi legal system has joined Saudi Arabia, Iran, China and the United States on the list of the most prolific sources of executions in the world.

A report from Amnesty International in September of 2006 found that scores of people had been executed in Iraq and that a couple hundred were on death row there. An October report specifically identified more pending executions of individuals whose trial court experience was not as fair as that of Saddam Hussein. Two of seven co-defendants in Hussein's case also face execution and Amnesty notes correctly that the case had strong political dimensions.

According to Amnesty, the death penalty was reinstated in Iraq in August 2004, and the first exeecution was carried out September 1, 2005. It appears that at least 60 people have been executed in Iraq from September 1, 2005 to December 20, 2006. It appears that the post-conviction appeals process from sentencing hearing to execution is taking about seven months in more typical cases.

Unlike Amnesty, I am not an opponent of the death penalty in all circumstances. Pre-meditated multiple murders, the kinds of crimes for which the death penalty may be most appropriate, are far more common in Iraq than other places where the death penalty is used heavily, like Saudi Arabia, Iran, China and the United States, all of which are countries where law and order prevails. And, Iraq doesn't have the same resources to detain people in prison for very long time periods that a country like the United States or Saudi Arabia does.

Iraq is not executing people for the kinds of comparatively minor property crimes that China does, although it does execute people for kidnapping and drug dealing, like the U.S., as well as murder.

Iraq also appears to be holding trials that are, at least, more meaningful than those held in China, or in the Islamic justice systems of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The trials may not even be up to the standard of Texas in the United States, which are among the worst in the United States and are the source of a great many U.S. executions. But, the Iraqi trials do appear, at least, to be better than what might be expected if military justice were metted out by the Iraqi military, with or without formal courts-martial, instead.

There is also some reason to hope that Iraq, should a state of civil war cease in the country, might change the death penalty, whose adoption was justified based on that state of rampant chaos and a breakdown of law and order.

In short, in Iraq, executions authorized by regularly conducted criminal trials with some protections of the rights of the accused, and a cursory direct appeal, and the potential for a Presidential pardon in select cases, may be preferrable to lawless death squads, and might encourage people who long for vengence and law and order to buy into the formal legal system as opposed to resorting to death squads. It may not end up happening that way. The U.S. legacy of lynchings in the reconstruction period, some of which happened in Colorado, attest to that fact. But, it is a plausible possibility.

Tax Blogs Triumph Over Murphy

A U.S. Court of Appeals Circuit decision called Murphy, which held part of the tax code to be unconstitutional, has been vacated by the appellate court panel that made the decision in the wake of near universal criticism of the decision in tax blogs.

While many suspect that the panel has decided that it was wrong in making its decision on the merits, it is also possible that the criticism of the form of the opinion is the real issue.

The original decision declared that a provision of the tax law which excluded some, but not all, emotional distress damages from taxation was unconstitutional. But, the tax is due under the general definition of income, to which this particular exclusion does not apply, and not because this exclusion imposes a tax.

They could have held that Section 61, which provides that all income is taxed, simply does not apply to this kind of income, when interpreted within the constitutional boundaries of income.

Thus, rather than declaring an Internal Revenue Code section unconstitutional, it could simply interpret Section 61 in an implausible way, in order to preserve its constitutionality.

This would still be a decision that is wrong on the merits, but the underlying opinion would be far more logical and indicate that the appellate judges had a clue about how the tax code is designed to work.

When Does SCOTUS Reach Out?

We also had a question from a reader about which cases the Court granted cert. in which the pool had recommended deny and there was no circuit split. . . .

Seventeen cases from OT 84 and eighteen cases from OT 85 fell into this category, and there are few high-profile cases on the list. Instead, somewhat predictably, the two types of cases with the largest representation are essentially factbound criminal and habeas cases, as well as employment law cases, including matters involving the interpretation of the Rehabilitation Act (Alexander v. Jennings, No. 83-727 and Bowen v. American Hospital Assoc. , No. 84-1529), the Civil Service Reform Act (Cornelius v. Nutt, No. 83-1673), and ERISA (Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Russell, No. 84-9).

-- David Stras at SCOTUS Blog.

Commenting on the post Roger Friedman notes, in regard to a couple of these cases deemed particularly notable:

I think these two cases are good examples of reach-out by the bare conservative majority to quash libertarian strands of caselaw. Goldman was 5-4, Mechanik 5-3-1. Both were Rehnquist decisions in his spare ipse dixit style (q.v. Whren). Both decisions were criticized by O'Connor for want of standards (I suspect that if the true history becomes known, it will reveal that Burger:Blackmun::Rehnquist:O'Connor but not as extreme). It was this authoritarian streak, in contrast to the individual liberties approach of the Warren court era, that characterized the legal politics of the Nixon court (and which both Roberts and Alito have said many times over they were attracted to).

I had originally expected this comment to end up a practice pointer, in that about 10% of the docket constitutes reach-out cases, so as to constitute a worthwhile target for cert petitions. But it appears that you have to have a feel for where the majority wants to take doctrine and have an appropriate vehicle for doing so.

Thus, pinning down this 10% of the docket isn't easy.

Why Do Justice Stay On The Bench?

Empirical evidence collected and analyzed by political scientists demonstrates that judicial pensions are the most important factor in a Justice’s decision to retire, far more important than the party of the President or which political party has control of the Senate.

-- U.S. Supreme Court scholar David Stras, writing at SCOTUS Blog.

He suggests that the best way to reduce judicial tenure short of a constitutional amendment, would be to restructure judicial pensions, creating a better "Golden Parachute" for judges.

26 December 2006

Implications Of An Evolving Iraq War

Very early in the Iraq War, most conventional warfare threats to U.S. military forces were eliminated. Even before "Mission Accomplished" the Iraqi military such as it was, and the disorganized early insurgency lacked tanks, armored personnel carriers, military aircraft, self-propelled artillery, and fixed anti-aircraft artillery. Infantry weapons from personnel with non-military vehicles were the only weapons that remained.

Once these threats were eliminated, one of the main threats to American soldiers was the RPG, the rocket propelled grenade, and other infantry based anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons of disbanded Iraqi Army units.

This made side armor for American military vehicles in Iraq very important. And, only the heaviest American military vehicles can withstand a solid anti-armor weapon hit. It also made flying in Iraq treacherous and forced U.S. military aircraft to high altitudes.

These threats now appear to be all but gone. For many months, U.S. military casualties have overwhelmingly been caused by road side bombs and rifle fire. Perhaps the odd mortar round is launched. It has been a very long time since I have heard of a U.S. aircraft being shot down by enemy fire, or of a U.S. military vehicle being hit by an anti-armor weapon.

This means that going forward, U.S. military procurement should focus on providing troops in Iraq with vehicles with V-shaped underbodies, designed to resist roadside bombs, which may be only armored otherwise enough to stop rifle rounds and shrapenel, rather than more heavily armored Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and tanks, which devote a great deal of armor (and hence weight, fuel efficency and cost) to opposing tank rounds and anti-armor weapons that the Iraqi insurgents no longer seem to have in great numbers.

Unlike the Hezbollah fighters involved in the Israeli-Lebanon war earlier this year, which involved advanced military weapons that clearly pointed to sponsorship from an anti-Israeli government, the Iraqi insurgents are using a decreasing number of imported manufactured weapons. Instead, they are relying to an increasing extent on home grown weapons to take on the Americans. Moreover, the weapons they are using that they don't make, are increasingly the kinds of weapons available to non-military personnel. This implies either that U.S. weapons smuggling interdiction efforts are working, or that outside governments suspected of involvement, like Syria and Iran, are not shipping weapons to insurgents.

This also adds further credibility to the argument that the insurgency, because it is grassroots based, must be solved with a political solution acceptable to the various and divided people of Iraq. But, it casts doubt on the argument that this conflict is largely the product of outside agitators, and on the regional approach proposed by the Baker Commission.

Marine Space Planes

Both Popular Science and Popular Mechanics feature an article by a Defense Tech writer about a U.S. Marine Corps plan to build a space plane that could deliver thirteen Marines anywhere in the world in two hours. Oh, and they still need to land somewhere (at least a field airstrip or open flat space) and haven't figured out how to make the space plane take a return trip either. [Correction: The Popular Mechanics article is about long range hypersonic missiles that just look like space planes, another non-existent problem with U.S. forces which are good at hitting fixed targets half the world away, but not so hot at fighting counterinsurgencies. Both articles are written by Defense Tech writers.]

Marines Aren't Jedi Knights

This would be great if the U.S. Marine Corps consisted of a few dozen Jedi Knights or X-Men, who are unreproduceable, have superhuman fighting ability, and gear payloads that can fit in a single piece of carry on luggage. But, it doesn't.

We have no soldiers so elite that we can't position equally able Marine squads at a dozen or so spots around the globe to reduce the transportation demands, if we want a rapid reaction small unit capability. And, the military effectiveness of the U.S. military comes from pairing moderately above average people to exceptional equipment and training, and that exceptional equipment is hard to fit on a C-130 cargo plane, let alone a carry on bag.

Expensive Solutions Looking For Problems

The space plane program, and other similar very expensive methods of delivering a small number of special forces behind enemy lines such as a very expensive submarine based approach, all suffer from the same difficulty. They solve a problem the United State military had licked in 1941, with a solution called paratroopers, which still works. We can deliver small units of lightly armed special forces troops anywhere in the world, on short notice, and this is particularly easy if a return flight doesn't have to be arranged, so parachutes and airdrops can be used.

We have miraculous technologies like ships with helicopters or tilt wing aircraft on them that can be positioned near any likely hot spots well in advance of the conflict, and the vast majority of hot spots are within two hours by Osprey (a hybrid plane-helicopter that the Marines just purchased) from international waters. If speed were really an issue, AV-8B Harrier pilots (soon to be replaced by F-35B pilots) are cross trained as riflemen anyway and a squadron of them could fly in individual fighter aircraft and dismount upon arrival, deploying from aircraft carriers or Marine amphibious assault ships, at fairly high altitudes, in comparable times to U.S. based space planes, with no new R&D costs and no retrieval problems. This would also provide the arriving Marines with far more serious firepower than a space plane.

The Air Force can act with similar speed to reach inland targets from U.S. air bases abroad, which no hot spot is more than about 4,000 miles from and most are much closer to. Also, every U.S. embassy in the world has Marine guards who can simply get in a Humvee and drive to the crisis point, and if need be, the special operations soldiers can go undercover, take commercial planes to the nearest functional airport, and use $100 bills to purchase ground transporation to the hotspot. Weapons can be airdroped, by stealth bomber if necessary.

If we simply need to blow up fixed targets, we have fighters on air craft carriers and at U.S. air bases abroad that can do the job at several times the speed of sound, stealth bombers, and the F-22, in addition to long range ballistic missles that could be fitted with conventional warheads, and ship and submarine based cruise missiles that are all well equipped for the job.

Also, military disasters rarely happen on only two hours notice. If the CIA and mass media and state department are doing their jobs, we know days in advance when trouble is brewing.

The Real Problem

The real deployment problem the U.S. military faces is not prompt one way transporation of single squads of lightly armed elite troops. It is prompt deployment of military units which are large enough, and heavily armed enough, to be a formidable opponent to second and third world conventional military forces in a particular theater of battle.

(For reference purposes, a squad sized light infantry unit can be deployed in a Black Hawk sized helicopter of which there are many hundreds, if not thousands, a small platoon can be deployed by the largest transport helicopters, which are more scarce, and a C-130, which we also have hundreds of, can deploy a small company of Marines.)

Getting an armored or mechanized infantry division (is there any difference any more, both are large units with tanks, heavy artillery and Bradley fighting vehicles, in addition to some helicopters) or even an air assault division (i.e. a large unit with an emphasis on attack helicopters) to a distant battlefield can take months. It is done by a combination of freight rail, cargo ship, convoy (which has a long logistics tail to supply fuel and provisions), and transport plane (the largest of which requires a conventional runway, the smallest of which have relatively short ranges, and the intermediate of which are scarce).

Real Solutions

The real power projection developments in military procurement are less glamorous, but do have genuine military value. They main elements are:

(1) Buy more tranport planes.

a. Much of what we have is too light.

We have lots of C-130s and transport helicopters. They just can't carry lots of equipment that is needed for medium and heavy weight troops. Bradleys, tanks, and conventional self-propelled artillery are too heavy. The Marine's Osprey and all but the largest transport helicopters can't even carry a Humvee.

b. We have too few C-17s.

C-17s are long range, medium sized transport planes can land on field airstrips and carry a single tank or a couple of Bradleys. They do what we need them to do. We simply don't have enough of them to transport a substantial force quickly. The C-130 is too small to carry heavy equipment and has a comparatively short range. The C-5 needs a real airport.

c. Is there a gap between the C-130 and the C-17?

Also, many observers think that the U.S. military needs new cargo planes between a C-17 and C-130 in size, that can carry anything smaller than a heavy main battle tank, as a next generation replacement for the C-130. The question is whether a smaller per unit cost than a C-17 is worth it, given the R&D expense involved in creating an entirely new class of aircraft. The alternative would be to simply buy more C-17s, which carry more cargo and require no new R&D expenses or production delays.

d. Fixed wing alternatives to transport helicopters.

And, many observers also think that sub-C-130 fixed wing cargo aircraft, to carry payload comparable to those of heavy transport helicopters in situations where field airstrips are available, because fixed wing cargo aircraft have longer ranges, use less fuel per mile, are faster, are cheaper and are more reliable for transporting comparable payloads than transport helicopters. Reasonably priced off the shelf alternatives are available.

e. Seaplanes.

Finally, I am among at least a handful of observers who think that the U.S. military, and the U.S. Marine Corps in particular, would benefit from a modest fleet of sea planes. The Marine Expeditionary Vehicle (or whatever they're calling it this week, it has had many names over its development) can self-deploy from a ship 30 miles out at sea without a landing craft at speeds comparable to existing landing craft, and has capabilities comparable to an Army Stryker (common in Iraq). Why not eliminate the middle man of the deploying ship in small conflicts, and instead simply have the MEVs deployed and retrieved via seaplane from over the horizon? A couple dozen such planes, which could be based on C-130 or C-17 designs, would not be a major technological challenge. Similar planes exist in the Russian air force and were used in World War II. These seaplanes could also be used for deployments of heavier than special forces units to inland lakes.

Seaplanes would also be well suited to search and rescue (SAR) duty.

(2) High speed, relatively small cargo ships.

A few experiments along these lines have proven successful. A catamaran or trimaran hull design is used, and cargo loads, while as little as 10% of a full sized cargo ship, are still considerably larger than the largest cargo plane in U.S. service, the aging C-5. This can trim weeks of deployment times for large, heavy units, and allow swift intratheater shifts of forces in coastal areas.

They are similar in concept to the littoral combat ship, the newest class of ship in the Navy, and a much needed antidote to a blue sea, billion dollar plus per ship orientation in the U.S. Navy,

(3) C-130 sized version of heavier weapons.

One way to capitalize on the large number of C-130s available in the military is to make weapons systems they can actually carry.

These include the HIMARS reduced sized multiple rocket launcher, the Stryker (most versions of which are light weight, more deployable alternatives to the Bradley fighting vehicle), and the Stryker Mobile Gun System (a light weight, wheeled infantry support tank).

None of these C-130 sized systems are a match in armor or lethality to their heavy weight counterparts like the M1 Abrams tank, and the M2 Bradley and its variants, but getting these 30 ton plus systems to the field is much harder, because only the C-17 can airlift them close to the battlefield, each trip can't take many, and we don't have many C-17s. But, each is a considerable improvement over the only other option for quick deployments, which was paratroopers (aka speed bumps), who were basically limited to unarmored, more lightly armed, Humvee based systems.

Also, most military forces in the world don't have huge, top of the line, conventional armored military forces like the Soviet military that the U.S. military's heaviest systems were designed to fight. Most possible surprise deployments of U.S. forces are to places like Somolia or Rwanda or Sudan or Colombia, where opposition forces make the Iraqi Army and Serbian Army whom the U.S. has engaged in the past with little opposition once ground forces were committed, look impressive by comparison.

In the few cases where opponents do have those forces another option comes into play.

(4) Pre-positioned caches of heavy military equipment close to potential hot spots.

It takes months to deploy heavy forces only if you have to move them thousands of miles. If you know that you are going to want them, for example, in Poland or Turkey or South Korea, in contrast, months of transport time in peacetime is no big deal, and the equipment will be there waiting for you when you need it.

Similarly, if we were considering getting involved, for example, in a counterinsurgency operation in an evolving conflict in Liberia or Angola or Argentina, far from U.S. bases, it might be easier to simply have a couple of large, old fashioned, roll on, roll off, cargo ships fully loaded with heavy military equipment quietly move into position a couple of days off shore from a planned deployment point (i.e. about 600 miles away), months in advance in the open sea. This would require the U.S. to have excess quantities of some heavy equipment, but we already have excesses of some types of equipment (alas, not the kinds getting heavy use in Iraq), and could buy excess supplies for a price very competitive with the cost of buying more expensive transport planes or high speed transport ships. The U.S. already does this to be prepared for a conflict in Taiwan.

The Wrong Problem?

This isn't to say that the space plane concept is entirely without merit, but it misapprehends which passengers are most likely to be needed on very short notice, from the continental U.S., to anyplace in the world. Jar heads dashing off to assassinate terrorists aren't on that list, even really well trained special operations jar heads.

The sort of person who might need that kind of rapid deployment would be a specialist neurosurgeon needed for time critical brain surgery in a field hospital, or an F-22 avionics design engineer to address an unanticipated problem with enemy jamming technology, or a linguist who speaks an obscure language needed for an interrogation where a time bomb is ticking or a hostage situation is deteriorating.

These kinds of people with specialized skills are in jobs that would more often be carried out in the field from a relatively secure forward operating base with a partially improved or fully improved landing strip, in situations where a slow turnaround via piggy back on a C-17 might be a viable retrieval method for the vehicle. The people deployed might return by more conventional means, like transport planes or VIP planes. And, 13 passengers is probably more than is necessary for these kinds of missions. Half or a third of that number of passengers might be sufficient in most cases where a team with special skills is needed.

And, a small fleet of space planes (perhaps just three or four) designed to go one way and be ferried back via C-17, to land on secure, partially improved airstrips, and to carry just 4-6 passengers needed for their specialized skills, might cost less to design and build than the more ambitious plan envisioned by the Marine Corps.

21 December 2006


Today is the first day of winter.

Snowed In

A blizzard warning is in place until noon.

Every church, school and major employer in Denver is closed (including non-essential employees of state and federal governments). Denver schools last day of the term would have been today, it turned out to have been Tuesday of this week.

The state's appellate courts, all Denver metro area courts, and virtually all courts in Eastern Colorado counties are closed. Specifically (including some courts that closed yesterday and haven't yet announced their plans today):

Adams, Arapahoe, Baca , Bent, Boulder, Cheyenne Wells, Clear Creek, Crowley, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Gilpin, Jefferson, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Prowers, Pueblo, Sedgwick, Teller, Washington, Weld, Yuma

The U.S. District Court is closed until at least 10:00 a.m. today, as is the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The post offices are closed and not delivering mail today. The buses aren't running (although light rail is running a reduced schedule). Denver International Airport is closed and may not be up and running until Friday. With days of passengers backed up, my own family's flight on Saturday is likely to be impacted.

I-25 is closed outside the Denver metropolitan area. I-70 is closed from the airport road to Kansas. I-76 is closed. Loveland Pass is closed. Almost every state and U.S. highway on the Front Range or Eastern Plains is closed, including U.S. highways 6, 36 and 85.

But, it isn't clear that U.S. 36 from Denver to Boulder, or Westbound I-70 are closed, although both were previously closed due to accidents as was Westbound U.S. 6 in metro Denver.

The National Guard has been called out to rescue stranded motorists and patrol closed roads. The Red Cross has shelters open for stranded travelers. If you need to know, go to 9 News, which consistently is the best for breaking local news stories like this one. It has deemed this event the "Holiday Blizzard."

All city of Denver operations not related to public safety, emergency shelters and snow removal are shut down. The Mayor is appealing for donations of sleds so kids without them can sled in parks and suggesting that people walk to local merchants rather than drive, if the need something.

Side streets, like the one I live on, are virtually impassable. No effort is made to clear them until major roadways are cleared. I won't even bother trying to dig out this time until the snow is over, as I learned my lesson in the last blizzard. Fortunately, the buried natural gas and water lines are working fine, as are our phone, electrical and DSL connections. As it happened, we had just stocked up at CostCo and with the week's groceries last weekend. So for us, it is time to work from home and have fun and games for the kids.

A blizzard is an odd emergency. For the vast majority of people, the optimal response is to do nothing.

20 December 2006

Temporal Justice

Some countries include in their Bill of Rights, a provision that states that if someone is convicted of a crime, and the sentence for that crime is later reduced by the legislature, that people currently serving a sentence under the old regime are entitled to have their sentences revised to the maximum sentence allowed under the new law.

Neither the United States Constitution, nor the Georgia Constitution has such a provision. But, it should. It is a matter of simple justice. The Georgia case that is making that point now involves a boy sentenced to mandatory minimum of ten years in prison without parole for receiving consentual oral sex from a fifteen year old girl when he was seventeen years old. Georgia now punishes that crime with a maximum of a year in jail as a misdemeanor. In many states, it wouldn't be a crime at all.

The 8th Amendment and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment are more than sufficient to provide a remedy in cases like these, using legal reason much less imaginative than that used to apply most of the federal bill of rights to the states (a well established doctrine known as "partial incorporation"), to create the "dormant commerce clause" doctrine to invalidate many state regulations of interstate commece, to make proof beyond a reasonable doubt or the presumption of innocence constitutional rights, or to imply protections for privacy or a right to travel, by viewing them in light of other protections of the bill of rights.

This punishment is surely unusual, and by its extremity, is cruel. There is even a credible argument in this case, as in cases involving juvenile executions, that the punishment is so extreme relative to other state laws, federal law, international norms, and existing Georgia law, that it violates the cruel and unusual clause of the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

There is also a not entirely frivilous argument in this case that, as applied, the previous statute was enforced in such a racially discriminatory manner that it violated equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment in a manner that even the broad protections of prosecutorial discretion are insufficient to shield.

But, while current law does not support the argument that people currently incarcerated have an equal protection interest in being punished no more harshly than they would have been had they been convicted today, I believe that this would be a healthy doctrine to establish which is faithful to the inherently vague concept of equal protection and would not do any grave injustice.

There is some precedent for this as well. While the high court has never articulated it in these terms, major U.S. Supreme Court decisions invalidating whole classes of persons who would otherwise be eligible for the death penalty have been applied retroactively. Every death row in the country was emptied when the death penalty was invalided in the 1970s, even for those who had exhausted their direct appeals. The same thing was done when the death penalty was recently abolished for crimes committed while the offender was a juvenile or mentally retarded.

Why should people currently serving sentences no longer subject to such a severe punishment be entitled to benefit if a change in the law is made by a court, but not if a change in the law is made by a legislature?

In truth, this right wouldn't impact that many cases, most of the time.

Few people in prison at any given moment in time are there for crimes for which they were convicted more than five or six years ago. Those who had already completed their sentences would be unaffected. And, many people currently serving time would receive only partial benefit from a change in the law because they had already served more than the new maximum sentence for the crime for which they were convicted. For example, if the maximum sentence for burglary was reduced from ten years in prison to five years in prison, a prisoner who had already served eight years in prison would have his sentence reduced by only two years.

Many people serving long sentences in prison are doing so concurrently for multiple crimes. All of which would have to have sentences change for a change in the law to have any impact. If someone was sentenced to fifteen years for kidnapping and a concurrent fifteen year sentence for armed robbery, as a result of the same incident, and the maximum sentence for armed robbery was reduced to ten years, the actual sentenced served wouldn't change.

Also, only a minority of those serving sentences in prison at any one time are serving the maximum allowable sentence for that crime, so they would be impacted only if the maximum sentence for the crime was reduced below the lesser sentence actually imposed. If the sentencing range for burglarly used to be four to twelve years and was reduced to two to eight years, a burglar sentenced to seven years in prison for his crime would receive no relief.

The substantive criminal law is also sufficiently stable that dramatic reductions in the sentence that would be permissable for a particular change are rare. Very few offenses go from being punishable by up to ten years without parole as a serious felony, to being punishable by up to a year in jail for a misdemeanor, in a single legislative act. When it does, it is usually because the legislature recognizes that the old sentences were a grave injustice in the impacted class of cases.

Also, in some cases, the relief would have been provided anyway. People in this situation while a small percentage of the total population of prison inmates, are prime candidates for executive clemency. Most never get that clemency, but a fair share of those who do are facing this sort of injustice, or some similar injustice.

Law exists to encourge people to do the right thing, not to prevent people from doing the right thing. An expansion of the 14th Amendment to allow such a reform, would be eminently reasonable.

19 December 2006

How many tax patents are there?

There are 633 tax patents in the United States. While this isn't even one per section of the Internal Revenue Code, and I suspect that they predominantly involve tax shelters in obscure areas of corporate taxation and estate taxation, it is still disturbing.

18 December 2006

Diabetes Cured In Mice

New research has shown the diabetes has a much larger nervous system component than previously believed and even more amazingly, that addressing this component of the disease can cure mice that already have the disease.

[S]cientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body’s nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions . . . .

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

Who knew that the pancreas even had pain neurons? I had always thought that one of the reasons that pancreatic and liver cancers were so deadly was that you don't have many nerve receptors in that part of your body.

This story has to top the list of out of the blue, totally unexpected good news all year. I follow this stuffy pretty closely and had never even known that there was a nervous system component to diabetes. Neither did anyone else until 1999.

UPDATE: Reading the source story of NewMexiKen's story is even more amazing.

The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market. . . .

[T]here are far more similarities than previously thought between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and that nerves likely play a role in other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn's disease. . . .

Dr. [Hans Michael] Dosch had concluded in a 1999 paper that there were surprising similarities between diabetes and multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease. His interest was also piqued by the presence around the insulin-producing islets of an "enormous" number of nerves, pain neurons primarily used to signal the brain that tissue has been damaged.

Suspecting a link between the nerves and diabetes, he and Dr. [Michael] Salter used an old experimental trick -- injecting capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice that had an equivalent of Type 1 diabetes. . . .

The islet inflammation cleared up and the diabetes was gone. Some have remained in that state for as long as four months, with just one injection.

One shot, four months of cure, and the raw material is glorified hot chili juice. Human trials are only about a year away. Surgically, it may be easier to provide the treatment in humans than in mice, as the small size of mouse organs might it quite a tricky procedure. Major ailments like asthma and Crohn's disease might have cures around the corner as well.

And, this is on top of stunning news last week that ending hormone treatments for menopause reduced breast cancer incidence by 7% in a single year, far more than anyone would have dreamed of expecting.

The impact on health care budgets alone could be immense. Diabetes is one of the most expensive diseases to treat right now. Even a very expensive single shot, or infrequent injection procedure could save immense sums of money, and even more a couple decades later when the patents expire.

Confirmation and news of publication of the results in the scientific journal Cell can be found here and here. Abstract here.

15 December 2006

Law Clerks and the U.S. Supreme Court Docket

Suppose that your appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals or a state supreme court is concluded, and you still aren't happy. What do you do? You file a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.

This happens quite often. In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court processed 1,727 cases in which the person appealing paid a filing fee, and 5,815 case which were filed In Forma Pauperis, because they were indigent. In Forma Pauperis cases are usually mostly prisoner's petitions, seeking relief in criminal or civil rights cases, a health dose of frivilous crank filings, and a handful of other civil cases brought by indigent non-prisoners. Paid cases are generally either brought by government agencies, or by individuals or businesses or advocacy groups.

In the period from 2000 to 2004, the court has held oral arguments on between 84 and 91 cases a year. In the 2000 to 2003 period, it also decided summarily and without oral argument between 52 and 127 cases, in 2004, an extraordinary 826 cases were decided without oral argument, the vast majority of which were campaign finance reform act cases impact by a decision on the consistutionality of the act in another case decided after oral arguments.

Paid cases are far more likely to be granted. A few older figures, which remain representative of practices now, illustrate this fact:

According to the last Harvard Law Review round-up, over 7000 petitions for certiorari were filed during the 1994 Term of Court: 2151 in paid (i.e. , non-indigent) cases and 4,979 in in forma pauperis (IFP) cases. The Court granted review in 83 paid cases (3.9%) and 10 IFP cases (0.5%). It disposed of another 66 cases by summary affirmance or reversal or (most commonly) by simply vacating the judgment below and remanding for further proceedings in light of some intervening Supreme Court decision (a resolution referred to as a "GVR" — Grant, Vacate, and Remand). The tenure of Chief Justice Rehnquist has seen a sharp decline in the number of cases the Court hears on the merits. Only 90 cases were argued in the 1995 Term, compared to 167 in the 1987 Term and 116 in the 1992 Term.

If we assume that paid cases are overwhelmingly non-frivilous (in part, because it costs about $75,000 to prepare a paid petition for certiorari), and that non-frivilous IFP cases are granted at the same rate as paid cases (not true, but a starting point for an estimate), then perhaps 5% of IFP cases are really non-frivilous (an underestimate, but the true number of non-frivilous IFP cases is still probably not more than 10%-15%).

So, after you file you petition, what happens? The answer, according to the leading law review article on the topic, by David R. Stras, is that one copy of your petition is assigned more or less at random from a pool of clerks for the eight Justices other than Justice Stevens, and another copy goes to the clerks for Justice Stevens, who divy up the petitions and review them.

Clerks in the pool write a memo on each of their assigned petitions which is circulated to each of the eight Justices in the pool. Justice Stevens clerks advise him separately. Each Justice in collaboration with the clerks assigned to him or her then evaluates the memos, sometimes investigating potentially interesting cases further.

Then, the Justices all meet to vote on which cases to grant review (accounts from insiders suggest that there is less debate and more voting that one might expect) in each case, with four votes required to grant certiorari in a case. Some Justices, like Kennedy and Scalia, are known to be quite stingy about voting for review, while other Justices are more likely to vote for review. One factor, although not the only one, in the tendency towards a smaller U.S. Supreme Court docket, has been departure of some of the Justices more inclined to grant review.

The vast majority of the time, 92% of the time in 1992, the last year for which complete information is available, the clerk reviewing a petition recommends that it be denied and that is what the U.S. Supreme Court does.

This level of agreement is less remarkable than it seems, however, because roughly two-thirds of the petitions filed (using an 85% frivilous rate for IFPs) are easy cases of "frivilous" in forma pauperis petitions (where frivilous is defined for this purpose not with its formal legal definition but simply meaning below the standard of merit of the overwhelming majority of paid cases), typically in pool memos of one page or less.

In between two-thirds and three-quarters of cases where pool memo recommend that the Court grant review, it does grant review.

In about 0.8% to 1.3% of cases where a petition is filed (about 45-75 cases a year), the justices either grant review where the pools has recommended denying review, or deny review where the pool has recommended granting review. The number of grant recommendations that are denied and the number of deny recommendations that are granted are roughly equal in number, with the balance of cases beyond those recommend for review drawn from the 5%-7% of cases a year where some other action (such as a recommendation to seek comment from the solicitor general) is proposed.

The Court consistently grants review in about 25%-31% more casees than the pool recommends. Hence, the pool is consistently more stingy than the court itself (this is true both in the case of paid and IFP cases).

There several categories of cases which are particularly likely to receive U.S. Supreme Court review: cases brought on behalf of the federal government by the Solicitor General, whose opinion is often requested by the in cases where it is waivering on whether or not to grant review, death penalty cases, and cases where U.S. Court of Appeals or state supreme court has declared a law to be unconstitutional which is a case of first impression, and cases involving splits of authority between different states or federal circuits on questions of federal law.

Cases that are not brought by the solicitor general, are IFP cases, do not involve the death penalty, do not involve a determination below that a law is unconstitutional, and do not involve a circuit split, in contrast, are likely to have review denied.

Something on the order of 60% of cases reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court from the U.S. Court of Appeals involve circuit splits. A majority of the cases from the U.S. Court of Appeals recommended by the pool for review, that the Justices ultimately chooses to hear, involve circuit splits. In contrast, almost two-thirds of the cases that the Justices choose to hear from U.S. Courts of Appeal that the pool recommended by denied, did not involve circuit splits.

This does not, by any means, imply that the U.S. Supreme Court reviews all splits of authority between circuits on questions of federal law. About 400 new circuit splits arise every year. About 200 circuit split cases appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court are denied review every year, while about 30-40 receive review.

The best studies done to date estimate that considering both the ideology of Justices and the ideology of the clerks who write the pool memos, that about two-thirds of the decision making attributable to ideology is due to the ideology of the Justices, while a third is attributable to the ideology of the clerks (who are generally believed to have far lass influence on the outcome of cases once the Justices agree to hear them). This is a pretty impressive level of influence considering that the Justices have generally had long and remarkable careers as lawyers, secured the nomination of a President and survived review by the U.S. Senate, while clerks are vetted only by the Justice making the hiring decision.

Who are these people?

A typical U.S. Supreme Court clerk is among the top handful of students in grades in his or her law school class, has had a leadership role of a law review, attended either an elite law school or one with which the Justice has some special affinity (and even more spectacular qualifications), has had a previous clerkship or a year or two, usually in a U.S. Court of Appeals, although perhaps in a state supreme court, and has a personal affinity and comfort level with the hiring Justice.

These qualifications mean that they are typically in their mid- to late twenties, as non-traditional students are ill represented in this group. They are comparable in age and experience to Captains in the Army's Judge Advocate-General Corps.

Thus, U.S. Supreme Court Clerks are generally among the very, very smartest law graduates in their cohort by all conventional measures, but rarely have any legal experience at all outside an appellate court and a couple of summer clerkships. An IQ of under 150 would be unusually low for someone in this select group. But, most have never participated in litigation outside of a law school clinic and never drafted a document for a client, outside some legal research, document review or third chair gopher duty at a trial while on a summer clerkship. They have never struggled personally with the ethical dilemnas that lawyers in practice commonly face or had sole responsiblity for a client. They have never personally made a presentation to a judge or jury in a trial. And, they have never had to try to collect a fee.

Most will follow their U.S. Supreme Court clerkship with a professorship at an elite law school, a job as an associate in a large law firm representing primarily publicly held companies and very wealthy individuals (often in an appellate practice department or a part of the firm that deals with some obscure and highly academic area of law pertinent only to large corporations in regulated industries), or in elite positions in the U.S. Justice Department or a state solictor general's office.

Relatively few of these individuals will ever handle a divorce, a routine car accident, a non-capital state criminal case, or a residential eviction.

While this summary is, necessarily brief (the law review article runs to 58 pages and covers only a subset of the issues addressed in this post), it does provide a pretty solid empirical explanation of what is going on.

Love Thy Neighbor

I very rarely endorse charitable gifts to churches. But, while I've broken with Christianity, I haven't ceased to believe that everyone has a moral obligation to love their neighbor. And, there are times, such as this one, when a church is in a better position to help and be trusted to do the right thing, than anyone else. This is such a time.

Hundreds of families in Greeley have lost a breadwinner who worked at the SWIFT plant that was raided by immigration officials on Tuesday. They need help, government is not a suitable way to provide that help in this case, and no institution is better situated to provide it than the local Catholic church.

How you can support these families?

Please make a donation payable to: “Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church” with “fund for families affected by ICE” in the memo-line.

Mail your donation to: Our Lady of Peace; Att: Rev. Bernard Schmitz; 1311 Third Street Greeley, CO 80631.

Thank you for loving your neighbor.

12 December 2006

Juries in Divorces In Colorado?

Apparently, a prominent legal secondary source says that juries are allowed for parts of divorce actions in Colorado. See Family Law Profs blog citing 56 A.L.R.4th 955.

This is news to me. It must be relying on superceded old law.

Colorado's Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that "All issues raised by these proceedings shall be resolved by the court sitting without a jury." Section 14-10-107(6), Colorado Revised Statutes. Recent case law is in agreement: "All issues raised or presented in a dissolution proceeding are to be resolved by the court in equity sitting without a jury." In re Marriage of Lewis, 66 P.3d 204, 205 (Colo. App. 2003).

One can image a case where the existence of a marriage was an issue in a non-divorce case and this was resolved by a jury (e.g. a criminal trial for statutory rape), but that is an entirely different idea.

Footnote On Non-Divorce Claims In Divorces

The Lewis case, indeed, goes even further. It states that non-divorce related disputes can't be included in a divorce case precisely because it would create a right to a jury trial:

The joinder of marriage dissolution actions with claims sounding in tort or, for instance, contract would require our trial courts to address many extraneous issues, including trial by jury, and the difference between the "amicable settlement of disputes that have arisen between parties to a marriage," and the adversarial nature of other types of civil cases. Moreover, such would create tension between the acceptance of contingent fees in tort claims and our strong and longstanding public policy against contingent fees in domestic cases. We conclude that sound policy considerations preclude either permissive or compulsory joinder of interspousal tort claims, or non-related contract claims, with dissolution of marriage proceedings.

Id. at 206.

The reasoning in the Lewis case quoted above is a bit off, however, although its conclusion that there is never a right to a jury trial in divorce cases in Colorado remains solid. Also, Lewis does not impact appear the rule that says that co-ownership of property that is the subject of a divorce that involve third parties (a kind of lawsuit which in some circumstances might include a right to a jury trial ordinarily) can be resolved in a divorce.

Colorado takes the position that the right to a jury trial is addressed on a lawsuit by lawsuit basis, rather than individually on a claim by claim basis. If the principal relief sought in the complaint is one for which there is no jury trial right, then there is no right to a jury in the case, even if other claims asserted in the case could normally be tried before juries or the defendant has a counterclaim that would normally be tried before a jury.

This comes up, for example, in mechanic's lien cases, where lawsuits to enforce lien rights don't have a jury trial right associated with them, even though breach of contract suits do. In Colorado, the mechanic's lien enforcement is viewed as predominanting over the contract suit, so there is no right to a jury trial in a mechanic's lien case, even on the contract claims asserted in the lawsuit.

Thus, Colorado has a race to the courthouse rule on jury trial rights, since counterclaims must ordinarily be brought in the same suit in which one is sued, or they will be considered waived. (The general rule that counterclaims be filed in any pending current lawsuit between to parties, or never when parties are in a lawsuit against each other does not apply to divorce actions in Colorado. Simmons v. Simmons, 773 P.2d 602, 605 (Colo. App. 1988).)

So, even if a tort of contract case were allowed to be joined to a divorce case, it isn't at all obvious that they would include a jury trial right in that context, because the divorce would still be the prinicipal relief sought in the case.

Is The Child Yours?

A new study shows that about 1.7% of fathers who have no reason to doubt that their children are biologically related to them, do not in fact have a biological tie to their child. Previously, a 10% figure was often quoted. But, apparently, the study that produced the 10% figure included many parents who had good reason to know that they might not be biologically related to their children.

It is also worth noting that in Colorado and many other states, paternity is more than biology. Biological parents can have their rights terminated by operation of law through the passage of time (sometimes paternity cannot be legally adjudicated after a child becomes an adult), by a presumption of paternity that becomes conclusive in someone else, or by courts for neglect or absence. Adoption can establish a paternity relationship between a parent and a child in the absence of a biological tie. And, paternity is presumed if the father is married to the mother.

Controversially, but correctly IMHO, the marital presumption becomes conclusive after a certain number of years (often five), even if it can be definitively established that there is no biological relationship between the parent and the child. Also, standing to seek custody, which is the most important right flowing from paternity, can arise simply from an extended period of time in a parental relationship with a child.

Also controversially, and often incorrectly IMHO, standing to seek custody can often arise simply from having "possession" of a child, a provision which is not nearly narrowly tailored enough to do justice to all the circumstances it can encompass.

The PKPA works.

My very first appellate case, while I was still in law school, was legal research and brief writing concerning a high profile child custody/paternity dispute in which two states had reached opposite conclusions. Then, as now, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), a federal law that spells out which state has jurisdiction over the matter, controlled which court had the authority to resolve child custody disputes.

A recent case involving litigants who sought relief from the courts of Vermont and Virginia respectively illustrated that the PKPA still works. The trial judges in each state reached the merits of the custody dispute and reached opposite conclusions on the issues in the case. But, the PKPA's clear rules on which state is gets to make that decision allowed appellate courts in both Vermont and Virginia to resolve the dispute and reach the same conclusion for essentially the same reasons:

1. Vermont's courts had jurisdiction because Vermont was the child's home state under the Act. Why? The child had been removed from Vermont by a litigant in the Vermont case to Virginia less than six months before the Vermont litigation was begun, after the child had lived in Vermont for a prolonged period of time, and despite the fact that the other party stayed in Vermont.

2. The litigation was commenced first in Vermont. New litigation was commenced in Virginia only after the Vermont case was pending.

Given the facts above, the outcome under the PKPA is clear.

This case was newsworthy mostly because it involved custody of a child born to a mother who was part of a Vermont civil union at the time. But, the fact that courts from states on opposite ends of the gay marriage debate can reach a consensus, as a result of the PKPA, shows the wisdom of the law. It is also a fine illustration of the fact that the vast majority of legal disputes are questions resolved by judges are not resolved on a purely political basis.

The PKPA allows the child custody system at the state level to work in a society in which people frequent interstate moves by clearly allocating authority, without embroiling Congress and the federal courts in the merits of child custody laws by adopting a uniform child custody law.

This allows child custody laws to evolve at the state level. It also prevents child custody litigation from becoming hopelessly complicated with multiple lawsuits pending at the same time. Multi-lawsuit cases were much more common before the PKPA was passed, and often had no easy resolution sort of resort to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the Vermont-Virginia case discussed above, multiple lawsuits were pending until an appeal in the Virginia case shut down the Virginia litigation. But, no law can entirely prevent miscues at the trial court level when any of the facts are the least bit unusual.

Not only does the PKPA have clear rules, it is truly exceptional for providing clear rules without being arbitrary or irrelevant to the lives of the people in the litigation. There are lots of other rules the PKPA could have chosen that would have been clear, but arbitrary and irrelevant to the parties. For example, the PKPA could have declared that the court of the state where the child was born had jurisdiction. This would have been a clear rule, but would have required people to litigate in states with which they had no current connection at great expense.

In contrast, the PKPA has jurisdiction rules that cause child custody cases to be heard in a state which the child typically has a strong connnection to, without being vague about how to measure that connection. It also has sensible exceptions to the general rule, for example, for cases involving absue and neglect.

Lots of other clear rules, like the rule that a corporation's the state of incorporation is the appropriate place to file certain loan collateral papers and that people may commence lawsuits about corporate governance there against the corporation, even if the corporation does no meaningful business in that state, are far more arbitrary.

In short then, the PKPA is an excellent example of the federal government using its power to make federalism work, instead of undermining it.