30 November 2021

International Extradition Is Rare

In theory, felons who flee abroad can be extradited to face criminal charges, even in international cases. In practice, the process is sufficiently cumbersome that it is reserved for the most egregious cases, and even then, it takes a long time to make it happen.

A Colorado man wanted as a suspect in a 2016 sexual assault case has been extradited from Ecuador to Jefferson County. Peter Robert Dettmer, 69, faces 126 sexual assault charges, according to a district attorney’s office news release. He was extradited last Wednesday. Dettmer was arrested in Colorado on June 10, 2016, on multiple sex assault charges and entered a plea of not guilty on Aug. 29, 2016, court records show. He then failed to appear for a trial scheduled for Jan. 23, 2017. 
Arrested in Cuenca, Ecuador, on April 27, Dettmer’s extradition was carried out by the FBI with assistance from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Department of State, the DA’s office news release said. His is the second extradition from Ecuador to the United States in the past 27 years.

From the Denver Post

29 November 2021

Astronomers Consider ET Impact Driven Immigration

What should we do if a predicted asteroid impact that we can predict, which is big enough to cause regional damage, but not big enough to end the species, makes it necessary to evacuate hundreds of thousand or millions of people from their homes, perhaps permanently?

I'm skeptical that we as a global human race could listen to scientists and behave in a civil way, but one can hope.
Throughout recorded history, humans have crossed national borders to seek safety in nearby countries. The reasons for displacement have been generated by phenomena of terrestrial origin, but exposure to unexpected extra-terrestrial threats poses a different scenario. An asteroid impact warning implies a change of paradigm which would represent a historic precedent. 
In this regard, the analogies with natural disasters must be considered, along with multiple possible scenarios, and legal aspects related to a) the legal framework to regulate this situation; b) the action and responsibility of the states; and c) the definition of impact refugee and the reconfiguration of traditional concepts such as deterritorialized states. 
In addition, the decision-making process and the actors involved must be led by a cooperative effort to improve international law. These new circumstances should be established with a consideration of inequalities between the states, and an aim of protecting humanity through democratic solutions using the safest, most effective techniques.
Elisa Simó-Soler, Eloy Peña-Asensio, "From impact refugees to deterritorialized states: foresighting extreme legal-policy cases in asteroid impact scenarios" arXiv:2111.13643 (November 5, 2021) (Acta Astronautica (in revision)).

26 November 2021

Fighting A Serious And Common Bacterial Disease With A Natural Virus

Good news in treating an often neglected problem that causes great suffering. 

Phages are viruses that infect bacteria and can also be used to treat human infections. . . . researchers have shown that the naturally occurring phage A1-1 kills Shigella flexneri, a major cause of dysentery in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia and selects for phage-resistant mutants with reduced virulence.

From here

India Falls Below Replacement Rate Child Bearing

India is no longer a significant source of net global population growth. The national average, however, conceals vast disparities between regions, mostly with more children per woman per lifetime in the North and in rural areas, and fewer in the South and in urban areas.

India’s most recent National Family Health Survey, which is conducted every five years by the Health Ministry, was released Wednesday and showed the total fertility rate (TFR) across India dropping to 2.0 in 2019-2021, compared with 2.2 in 2015-2016. A country with a TFR of 2.1, known as the replacement rate, would maintain a stable population over time; a lower TFR means the population would decrease in the absence of other factors, such as immigration…

In cities across India — as in other countries — women are opting for fewer children: The urban fertility rate is 1.6.

From the Washington Post

Human 2.0: Executive Function Boosting

Another high risk, high reward concept from DARPA:
Researchers show it is possible to improve specific human brain functions related to self-control and mental flexibility by merging artificial intelligence with targeted electrical brain stimulation. . . . 
[T]hey identified a brain region -- the internal capsule -- that improved patients' mental function when stimulated with small amounts of electrical energy. That part of the brain is responsible for cognitive control -- the process of shifting from one thought pattern or behavior to another, which is impaired in most mental illnesses.
An example might include a person with depression who just can't get out of a "stuck" negative thought. Because it is so central to mental illness, finding a way to improve it could be a powerful new way to treat those illnesses.
The team developed algorithms, so that after stimulation, they could track patients' cognitive control abilities, both from their actions and directly from their brain activity. The controller method provided boosts of stimulation whenever the patients were doing worse on a laboratory test of cognitive control.
This system can read brain activity, "decode" from that when a patient is having difficulty, and apply a small burst of electrical stimulation to the brain to boost them past that difficulty. The analogy I often use is an electric bike. When someone's pedaling but having difficulty, the bike senses it and augments it. We've made the equivalent of that for human mental function.
The study is the first to show that:
* A specific human mental function linked to mental illness can be reliably enhanced using precisely targeted electrical stimulation; 
* There are specific sub-parts of the internal capsule brain structure that are particularly effective for cognitive enhancement; and 
* A closed-loop algorithm used as a controller was twice as effective than stimulating at random times.

Some of the patients had significant anxiety in addition to their epilepsy. When given the cognitive-enhancing stimulation, they reported that their anxiety got better, because they were more able to shift their thoughts away from their distress and focus on what they wanted. Widge says that this suggests this method could be used to treat patients with severe and medication-resistant anxiety, depression or other disorders. 
. . .  
The research team is now preparing for clinical trials. Because the target for improving cognitive control is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for deep brain stimulation, . . .  this research can be done with existing tools and devices -- once a trial is formally approved -- and the translation of this care to current medical practice could be rapid.
From Science Daily citing Ishita Basu, et al., "Closed-loop enhancement and neural decoding of cognitive control in humans." Nature Biomedical Engineering (2021) DOI: 10.1038/s41551-021-00804-y

A Hybrid Brass-String Instrument

I love this hybrid brass-string instrument devised for the series Arcane: League of Legends.


20 November 2021


One of the particularly extreme contractions in modern casual English speech is "ima" which means "I am going to". Or, more exactly:

IMA is actually a contraction of the slang phrase "I'm gonna," which means "I am going to."

18 November 2021

Bonded And Insured - A Way To Make The Economy More Robust

This is a proposal designed to protect governments entering into contracts, businesses in the course of their regular businesses, and other members of the general public, from the risk that a company that enjoys the benefits of limited liability becomes insolvent or goes bankrupt, except when these persons are consciously evaluating this risk because they are intentionally making an investment.

This would make our economy more robust and would make bankruptcies for covered businesses much less expensive, simpler, more swift, and much less likely to have contagion effects that propagate beyond the bankrupt firm.

It basically generalizes the model of agencies like the the FDIC and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (a government agency that partially pays obligations of insolvent defined benefit pension plans), which have proven to be very effective at mitigating the harm caused by insolvent major private institutions, especially during recessions and financial crises, thereby making the economy more robust and reducing systemic risk in the economy, and making the navigation of institution insolvency more smooth collectively and for innocent people affected by these insolvencies.

It is also inspired by regulations in other countries of limited liability entities that is more robust than in the U.S. and regulation of limited liability entities used in the practice of law in Colorado.

There is a good argument that some insurance requirement should be present for all limited liability entities. Realistically, almost all covered entities below already have insurance and the bonding requirement is the innovative part.

Who Would Be Subject To The Bonded And Insured System?

The basic idea is that certain companies would have to be bonded and insured. This would include:

Every company with publicly held equity or debt doing business in the United States or traded on a securities exchange in the United States. 

Every privately held limited liability entity with 50 or more persons providing services to it during the course of the most recent calendar year, for whom a W-2 or 1099 had to be issued. 

Every privately held limited liability entity bidding on or performing a significant contract or grant with a government in the United States. 

Every privately held limited liability entity bidding on or performing a significant contract or grant with a public charity doing business in the United States. A public charity would be a non-profit defined as such in the Internal Revenue Code. A public charity is doing business in the United States if it is organized under the laws of a government in the United States or if the contract or grant is to be performed for an office of the public charity in the United States or the contract is to be performed in the United States. 

A significant contract or grant would be a contract that is either more than $1,000,000, or more than $100,000 if the amount of the contract is more than 10% of the government entity or public charity's annual expenditures in its most recent fiscal year. 

Any company or non-profit that opts into the system even though it is not required to do so. A company that opted in would be authorized to advertise that fact. False claims of being bonding and insured voluntarily would be handled by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).

What Would Participants Be Required To Do?

Participants would be required to obtain federal government regulatory agency approved bonding and insurance.

The company would be required to have certain kind of liability insurance in placxe. This would include: (1) comprehensive general liability insurance, (2) worker's compensation insurance, (3) automobile insurance and the equivalent for other vehicles, (4) construction defect coverage for firms engaging in construction, (5) professional liability insurance for firms providing professional services, (6) flood insurance for business with operations in flood plains, and (7) earthquake insurance for businesses located in high earthquake risks.  There would be no deductible as to third-parties on these insurance policies, but the insurance company could reserve a right to reimbursement for a deductible from the company up to an amount allowed by a formula or rule. The insurer would also provide a legal defense to the claims and eroding policies (where defense costs were paid from the policy limits) would be prohibited.

The company would be required to be bonded with a bonding agency meeting certain standards up to a dollar amount determined by a simple formula. Bonding agencies in the program would also have to pay a tax to fund a firm that would guarantee claims on bonds that are owed by insolvent bonding agencies. The bonding agency would be required to pay on demand any covered claim up to the dollar amount of the bond on a covered claim. 

Covered claim types would include properly "perfected" claims for essentially all trade creditors of a company including deductibles owed to insurance companies, money market loans (up to some formula cap amount), mechanic's lien claims where the company doesn't have primary contractual liability, and tax obligations other than income taxes (e.g. withholding taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, and property taxes). The main liabilities that would not be covered claims would be (1)  finance debt (i.e. loans of cash for more than 91 days or large short term loans up to some formula cap amount, obligations on guarantees of such loans such as corporate bonds, unsecured bank loans, deficiency judgments on secured loans, and derivative instrument debts), (2) claims for income taxes, (3) claims on insurance claims in excess of policy limits, (4) civil claims for uninsurable tort claims, punitive damages and penalties, and (5) criminal penalties, fines and costs.

The most common way to "perfect" a claim would be to get a money judgment against the bonded company that has been unstayed and unpaid for five weeks (35 days) from entry of judgment. But insurance company deductible claims would be perfected if certified by the insurance company as having been paid by it and not reimbursed within 91 days but not more than three years, by the bonded company. Tax claims would be perfected when assessed. In the case of companies that have ceased to be going concerns, a Bond Claims Receiver, a public official similar to the U.S. bankruptcy trustee, would be appointed by a federal district court or bankruptcy court upon the petition of the company or its bonding agency or other claimant representatives where a mass claim filing was underway or imminent.

Bonding agencies would have a right to indemnification from the company bonded for the aggregate outstanding amount all claims paid by the bonding agency, plus a service fee in a contractually established amount subject to regulation by the federal government regulatory agency for each claim paid, plus interest at a rate similar to subordinated corporate bond interest rates on the outstanding balance owed each day. This indemnification right would be secured by a UCC-1 filed blanket security interest under the UCC in all of the tangible and intangible personal property of the company and recorded security interests in all of its real property, with these security interests subordinate only to purchase money security interests in the collateral (and refinancing of that debt), tax liens to the extent provided by law, HOA liens to the extent provided by law, and express subordinations agreed to by the bonding agency.

Bond premiums would be subject to an excise tax used to fund an agency that would pay some or all of covered bond claims in excess of bonding agency bond amount limits because the federal government agency's required bond amount limits were too low in the case of a particular company.

Establishing Regulations

A federal advisory board attached to the Commerce Department Bureau administering the program would establish regulations for the program.

The insurance coverages and minimum policy limits and maximum deductible  amounts required for each type of insurance would be established with a rule or formula, and this agency would also establish a simple formula to determine the dollar amount of the bond required.

This advisory board would also establish regulations to determine which state licensed insurance companies and bonding agencies would qualify for use by companies in the program. 

Primary regulation of bonding agencies and insurance companies would remain with state governments and would be ratified by this agency essentially providing a second look to make sure that state regulation of bonding company and insurance company reserves was not too lax. 


Publicly held companies would have to certify to the SEC that they were still bonded and insured on each regular report or with a special notice if this ceased to be the case. Compliance by publicly held companies would be enforced by the SEC. 

A small new Commerce Department Bureau with a tiny budget and few employees would enforce compliance with an administer the program in the case of non-publicly held companies, government agencies, and public charities. It would would have a system for sanctioning or bringing into compliance entities in its jurisdiction that should have been bonded and insured, but were not, and for dealing with bonding agencies and insurance companies that fail to comply with the rules.

The Commerce Department Bureau would also vet insurance and bonding companies that wished to participate in the program to determine if they complied with the regulations for the program and were eligible to provide insurance or bonding that satisfied the program's requirements.

Privately held companies with 50 or more employees would have to certify that they were bonded and insured on their tax returns each year with a notice given by the IRS to the Commerce Department Bureau, if they were not. Other privately held companies filing tax returns with the IRS would have to check a box that they were or were not covered on their annual tax return, and another box regarding whether they were or were not required to be covered which would be similarly reported if appropriate. Firms that were covered or required to be covered, but did not have to file their own tax returns with the IRS in a given year, would still have to file an annual report with the IRS certifying their compliance and informing it of their non-compliance with referral to the Commerce Department Bureau, if necessary. Public charities would certify compliance on their annual Form 990 filed with the IRS or risk losing public charity status and would also be referred to the Commerce Department Bureau if they were not.

Local governments and state agencies would be to certify compliance each year to a responsible state government official designated by the state, and that designated state official would certify compliance (subject to exceptions reported along with a report on the actions being taken by that state official to resolve the non-compliance) to the Commerce Department Bureau.

Bonding agencies and insurance companies of covered companies would have to notify  the SEC or the Commerce Department Bureau, as the case might be, if their bonds or insurance policies were terminated by the company covered by them for any reason. 

Complaints that a company required to be bonded and insured, or representing that it was bonded and insured, was not bonded and insured, could be made to the SEC for publicly held companies, to the designated state official for state and local governments, and to the Commerce Department Bureau otherwise. 

Complaints that a bonding agency or insurance company of a bonded and insured company was not acting properly would be referred to the state regulatory licensing that company.

A corps of Bond Claim Receivers would be established as an additional division of U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee's office. The U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee's office would not have any direct dealing with the Commerce Department Bureau or the SEC.

What Would This Mean?

Bankruptcies involving reorganizations of going concerns be limited to allocating the assets of the company left over after payment of purchase money secured debt, priority tax and HOA liens, and the bond indemnification lien debt. The only claimants in the bankruptcy would be (1) finance creditors, (2) income tax claims, (3) claims on insurance claims in excess of policy limits, (4) civil claims for uninsurable tort claims, punitive damages and penalties, and (5) criminal penalties, fines and costs.

Finance creditors would have loan covenants requiring excess insurance policies if in their financial judgment, the federal regulatory agency's minimum policy limits were too low and management didn't already decide to put that in place to protect equity owners.

People other than finance creditors dealing voluntarily with bonded and insured companies would almost never have uncollectible debts, thus protecting innocent people who have no choice but to do business with some big business in many circumstances. 

The fact that all of their legal obligations would be collectible would also encourage bonded and insured companies to act lawfully, relative to people who would be uncollectible vis-a-vis major tort or other debt obligations. This would prevent the contagion of unpaid claims of bonding and insured companies from taking down innocent firms that do business with them, governments that do business with them, and public charities.

This system would not impact the vast majority of existing small businesses or impede small business formation, but would highly the heightened default risk of dealing with these businesses as trade creditors. But individual small business defaults of non-government contractors don't pose the same systemic risk to the economy.

17 November 2021

Public Sector Unions In The United States

The private sector unionization rate continues to fall, while public sector unions remain robust.

Can Public Sector Workers Unionize?

There are many U.S. jurisdictions in which some public sector employees cannot unionize, and in the U.S. the right of most kinds of private sector employees who aren't part of management (although not all) to unionize, is secured by federal law (the National Labor Relations Act). Unsurprisingly, unionization of federal government employees is also governed by federal law.

Management workers in both government and the private sector are not generally permitted to unionize (including almost all government lawyers and judges and all military personnel, for what it is worth).

Federal law (other than the U.S. Constitution) does not apply to public sector unionization at the state and local level in the U.S., for federalism reasons.

Wikipedia reviews the relevant U.S. history. Postal service unions first arose in 1890 and have persisted to the present. Other public service unions emerged, such as the Boston Police Union, but a strike by that union in 1919 resulted in the elimination of public sector unionization in the U.S. (outside public schools and the post office) from 1919 to 1958. Public sector unions in the U.S. have expanded rapidly since then. Federal government unions outside the postal service were legalized in 1962.

In 2010 8.4 million government workers were represented by unions, including 31% of federal workers, 35% of state workers and 46% of local workers.

The union membership rate (the percentage of wage and salary workers who were members of unions) was 10.8 percent. . . . the union membership rate in the public sector . . . [was] 34.8 percent, while the rate in the private sector . . . [was] 6.3 percent.
Public sector unions typically afford a different mix of benefits for members than a typical private sector union does.

Public sector workers have had many union-like benefits such as defined benefit pension plans and the right to be fired only for cause (two of the main goals of many private sector unions), for much longer than public sector unions have been widespread. The federal civil service system was begun in 1883 in reaction to abuses of political patronage by prior administrations, especially that of President Andrew Jackson.

There continue to be many cases in the U.S. where government workers can unionize, but not strike, either due to a global rule that applies to every unionized government workplace of that type in that jurisdiction, or due to a widely adopted collective bargaining agreement term.

For example, unionized federal government employees don't have the right to strike, as a matter of federal statutory law.

Some Brief Comparative Observations About Private Sector Unions

What a union does and means varies from country to country.

For example, the main kind of private sector union in Japan, which is sponsored by the company itself, is prohibited under the National Labor Relations Act in the United States.

Similarly, while U.S. unions are organized primarily on an employer by employer basis (with a few notable exceptions like people in the live theater, TV and film industries), some countries have unions organized on an industry by industry basis.

Private sector unionization in the U.S., in contrast to public sector unionization, has declined more or less steadily since about 1970, mostly due to outsourcing and off shoring that is not feasible for many kinds of government workers (a full analysis of that point is beyond the scope of this question).

16 November 2021

Small Business Ownership Disclosure

Under a new U.S. law that took effect January 1, 2021, new small closely held business entities that aren't otherwise regulated businesses (basically corporations and LLCs) once regulations are enacted but no later than January 1, 2022, and by January 1, 2023, existing small, closely held business entities that aren't otherwise regulated businesses, must file an annual federal disclosure of their beneficial owners and if a regulation requires it, after certain changes in ownership. 

As of November 3, 2021, however, according to the Financial Times, however, the regulatory process was stalled:

A new law that will stop US businesses using shell companies to hide from tax authorities has run into delays at the Treasury department, senior Congressional Democrats have warned, with a key legal deadline set to be missed. Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act in January with the intention of forcing businesses to declare for the first time who their true owners are — a key weapon for US tax officials. The bill came after more than a decade of political wrangling, and was meant to come into force by January 1 2022. 
On Wednesday, however, the three Democratic committee chairs who shepherded the bill through Congress wrote to Janet Yellen, the US Treasury secretary, expressing disappointment at the slow pace of implementation. The letter, which has been seen by the Financial Times, was signed by Sherrod Brown, chair of the Senate banking committee, Maxine Waters, chair of the House of Representatives financial services committee, and Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House oversight committee. In it, the three Democrats warn: “We are disappointed by delays on this important rule, but recognise that . . . a final rule is now not likely to be issued by the implementation deadline.” 
They urged Yellen to move faster with the rulemaking process. “We hope that as the department’s leader, you will do everything that you can to ensure swift action on the rule, including urgently providing additional staff and resources as necessary to achieve the effective and timely issuance of a proposed and subsequent final rule,” they said. . . .
It is deliberately broad in its scope, covering corporations, LLCs and any other state-registered or foreign-registered business that transacts in the US. Anti-tax avoidance campaigners have previously called the move “the biggest anti-money-laundering update that we’ve had in 20 years”. . . .  
The legislation required the Treasury to create the new rule, setting out more detail on which companies would be covered and how it would be monitored and enforced. But the department only published a request for public comment in April, and is still going through hundreds of responses to that, many of which come from organisations that opposed the law in the first place. The bill’s backers say it would have been quicker to publish a proposed rule before requesting comment. 
Other hurdles have been the chaotic transition between the Trump and Biden administrations, and the fact that Congress has not yet passed a measure increasing the Treasury’s budget to enforce it. 
A Treasury spokesperson defended the process, saying: “The insights and views of stakeholders — including federal agencies, states, tribes and the private sector — provided in response to [a request to comment] are invaluable to the rulemaking process, and help inform both the [proposed rule] and the final rule.” The person added: “FinCEN has a substantial and proactive agenda, and one of our highest priorities is the implementation of the beneficial ownership requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act.”
All nonexempt entities, or “reporting companies,” must submit beneficial ownership information to FinCEN, which will hold that information in a secure, nonpublic database once forms are drawn up and regulations are in place.

The full text of the law is available here.

Who Is a “Beneficial Owner” for the Corporate Transparency Act?

Under the Act, each of the following is a “beneficial owner:”

* A natural person
* Who directly or indirectly (through any contract, arrangement, understanding, relationship, or otherwise)
* Exercises substantial control over the entity, owns 25% or more of the equity, or receives “substantial economic benefits” from the assets of the entity 
What Information Is Required for Each “Beneficial Owner?”

* Full legal name
* Date of birth
* Current residential or business address
* The unique identifying number from a valid U.S. passport, personal identification card, state driver’s license, or if none of those are available, a valid foreign passport (subject to some fussy detailed requirements).
What Are the Consequences of a Failure to Comply?

Failure to comply with the new CTA reporting requirements will result in serious penalties. An individual who fails to meet the reporting standards may face civil penalties of up to $500 per day. An individual who willfully provides or attempts to provide false or fraudulent information, or willfully fails to provide FinCEN with the requisite information, may face criminal fines up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years.

Moreover, the statute imposes penalties for individuals who engage in unauthorized use or disclosure of beneficial ownership information collected under the CTA. The civil penalty is up to $500 per day, and the criminal penalty includes fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to five years.
The Act does provide that civil or criminal penalties shall not apply in the case of negligent non-compliance, although it remains to be seen how “negligence” will be interpreted. 
Who Is Exempt? 
Not a “beneficial owner”
* A minor child
* A nominee, custodian, or agent
* An employee “whose control over or economic benefits” from the entity “derives solely from” employment status
* A person whose interest is through inheritance
* A creditor (unless that gives the creditor control)

Excluded entities

* An entity whose securities are registered with the SEC
* An entity chartered under an interstate compact
* An FDIC depository institution
* A credit union
* A bank holding company
* An SEC-registered broker/dealer
* A securities exchange or clearing agency
* An investment company or an investment advisor registered under the 1940 Acts or described in one of the Acts
* An insurance company
* An entity registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”)
* A public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”)
* A financial market utility designated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”)
* An insurance producer
* Certain pooled investment vehicles
* A public utility
* A church, charity, or non-profit with tax-exempt status
* A business concern with 20 or more full-time employees in the U.S.; $5 million in gross receipts or sales as shown on U.S. tax filings; and an operating physical presence at an office in the U.S. 
* Dormant companies which have been in existence for more than one year, are not engaged in “active business,” AND not owned (either directly or indirectly) by a non-U.S. individual
* Any corporation or LLC formed and owned by an excluded entity
FinCEN has express authority to remove types of entities from the excluded list or to add new exclusions. In relation to that authority, FinCEN is charged with continuing to study “beneficial owner” issues.

Colorado Supreme Court Takes Action To Authorize Independent Divorce Paraprofessionals

I was on a Colorado Bar Association committee that pushed this initiative, way too many years ago, and left it when it seemed like the bar association vetoed the idea. But the Colorado Supreme Court pushed forward and is making this happen. The statement below is from a press release from the Colorado Supreme Court:

Volunteer judges, attorneys, paralegals, family court facilitators, and other court staff have been busy developing an implementation plan to license legal paraprofessionals for certain types of domestic relations matters, pursuant to an order by the Colorado Supreme Court. The plan will address education and qualifications, licensure requirements, ethics rules, procedural rules, training and systems requirements. 
This project is described on a new webpage, which links to the Supreme Court’s authorization orders as well as the preliminary report sent to the Court from the Advisory Committee.

The project anticipates that licensing legal paraprofessionals for non-complex, lower-asset domestic relations cases may make legal services more widely available to the many litigants who otherwise would appear in family court without a lawyer. Specifically, the preliminary report – which formed the basis of the Court’s order to develop a follow-up implementation plan – provides that licensed legal paraprofessionals would be allowed to undertake certain matters where net marital assets are below a threshold amount, such as $200,000. The report provides that licensed legal paraprofessionals would be allowed to accompany their clients to court, and would be allowed to answer factual questions of the court but could not orally advocate for them. There would be a licensure exam and an ethics exam specific to this new group of licensed professionals.

The Colorado Supreme Court would need to approve a more detailed implementation plan and draft rules. The Advisory Committee anticipates that the Court will provide a public comment period and public hearing.

Please refer to the project webpage and report for more information. Questions can be directed to paraprofessionals@csc.state.co.us.

15 November 2021

Guys Are The Same At Five And Thirty-Five


From here.

It doesn't improve at fifty.

Hakuri's "One Room Of Happiness" In A Nutshell

Hakuri's "One Room of Happiness" (2017) is a manga about a girl who is kidnapped by her stalker but finds it to be a great step up because her parents were severely abusive (constantly beating her, having her eat off the floor, berating her if she got a 98% on an exam for not being good enough), she was bullied at school, and her teacher sexually harassed her.  But they both know it is wrong and feel uncomfortable about it.

12 November 2021

Women Scarce Among Most Cited Legal Scholars

I'm not surprised that women are very underrepresented among the most cited legal scholars, but I am surprised that it is so extreme.
Retired federal appellate judge and law professor Richard Posner is the most cited U.S. legal scholar on record, followed by Harvard University law professor Cass Sunstein, and the late New York University law professor Ronald Dworkin.

That’s according to Yale Law librarian Fred Shapiro, who analyzed the law review article and book citations of thousands of legal academics and jurists for a new list of the 50 most-cited legal scholars of all time, which appears in the latest edition of the University of Chicago Law Review.

Shapiro’s list, which includes citations through 2020, includes many familiar names, including Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe at No. 4; former U.S. Supreme Court Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr and Antonin Scalia at Nos. 6 and 39, respectively; and former Yale law dean and federal appellate judge Guido Calabresi at No. 25.

But it’s also generating discussion among legal academics about who’s all but missing from the list: women. University of Michigan law professor Catharine MacKinnon is No. 40. Stanford law professor Deborah Rhode, who died earlier this year, is the only other women to make the cut, at No. 45.
From here.

11 November 2021

Yale Epitomizes Academic Administration Bloat

The trend towards increasing the number of administrators at colleges and universities relative to students and professors is notable at most major institutions in the U.S., but Yale, with almost one administrator per student, and slightly more administrators than professors, is at the cutting edge of this development. 

It is a trend that is somewhat puzzling because its root source isn't entire clear (to me anyway).

Over the last two decades, the number of managerial and professional staff that Yale employs has risen three times faster than the undergraduate student body, according to University financial reports. The group’s 44.7 percent expansion since 2003 has had detrimental effects on faculty, students and tuition, according to eight faculty members.

In 2003, when 5,307 undergraduate students studied on campus, the University employed 3,500 administrators and managers. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on student enrollment, only 600 more students were living and studying at Yale, yet the number of administrators had risen by more than 1,500 — a nearly 45 percent hike. In 2018, The Chronicle of Higher Education found that Yale had the highest manager-to-student ratio of any Ivy League university, and the fifth highest in the nation among four-year private colleges. . . . the number of Yale’s administrators today exceeds the number of faculty — 5,066 compared to 4,937[.]

From here

Rich States, Poor States


The county level map is per capita income, not per capita GDP. Per capital income averages about 40% of per capita GDP, but is usually roughly proportional.

United States overall (2021 estimated): $68,607

Some select per capita GDP figures for U.S. states and D.C. (2021 estimated):

D.C. (1/51) $219,550

New York (2/51) $92,480

California (6/51) $83,213

Colorado (12/51) $72,212

Oregon (26/51) $62,331

Ohio (27/51) $62,046

Montana (42/51) $53,419

West Virginia (49/51) $47,883

Mississippi (51/51) $41,796

GDP per capita for U.S. territories (2019 except for Puerto Rico 2020):

U.S. Virgin Islands $38,136

Guam $37,723

Puerto Rico $31,388

Northern Marina Islands $20,659

American Samoa $11,534

From here and here.

09 November 2021

Pew Finds Nine Clusters Of U.S. Political Ideology

The Pew Research Center has another fine study parsing clusters of political identity in the United States and finding nine main categories which don't map perfectly to partisan identification, although they come close. This kind of analysis is critical in understanding how politics within the nation's two main political parties plays out.

Honestly, some of the distinctions seem pretty subtle.

They include two very different groups of liberal Democrats: Progressive Left and Establishment Liberals. Progressive Left, the only majority White, non-Hispanic group of Democrats, have very liberal views on virtually every issue and support far-reaching changes to address racial injustice and expand the social safety net. Establishment Liberals, while just as liberal in many ways as Progressive Left, are far less persuaded of the need for sweeping change.

Two other Democratic-aligned groups could not be more different from each other, both demographically and in their relationship to the party. Democratic Mainstays, the largest Democratic-oriented group, as well as the oldest on average, are unshakeable Democratic loyalists and have a moderate tilt on some issues. Outsider Left, the youngest typology group, voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden a year ago and are very liberal in most of their views, but they are deeply frustrated with the political system – including the Democratic Party and its leaders.

The four Republican-oriented groups include three groups of conservatives: Faith and Flag Conservatives are intensely conservative in all realms; they are far more likely than all other typology groups to say government policies should support religious values and that compromise in politics is just “selling out on what you believe in.” Committed Conservatives also express conservative views across the board, but with a somewhat softer edge, particularly on issues of immigration and America’s place in the world. Populist Right, who have less formal education than most other typology groups and are among the most likely to live in rural areas, are highly critical of both immigrants and major U.S. corporations.

Ambivalent Right, the youngest and least conservative GOP-aligned group, hold conservative views about the size of government, the economic system and issues of race and gender. But they are the only group on the political right in which majorities favor legal abortion and say marijuana should be legal for recreational and medical use. They are also distinct in their views about Donald Trump – while a majority voted for him in 2020, most say they would prefer he not continue to be a major political figure.

The only typology group without a clear partisan orientation – Stressed Sideliners – also is the group with the lowest level of political engagement. Stressed Sideliners, who make up 15% of the public but constituted just 10% of voters in 2020, have a mix of conservative and liberal views but are largely defined by their minimal interest in politics.

The intensity of political engagement differs in these clusters and is weakest in the ideological center. The study says this about the ideological middle in America:
Is there a ‘middle’ in politics today? Surveys by Pew Research Center and other national polling organizations have found broad support, in principle, for a third major political party. Yet the typology study finds that the three groups with the largest shares of self-identified independents (most of whom lean toward a party) – Stressed Sideliners, Outsider Left and Ambivalent Right – have very little in common politically. Stressed Sideliners hold mixed views; Ambivalent Right are conservative on many economic issues, while moderate on some social issues; and Outsider Left are very liberal on most issues, especially on race and the social safety net. What these groups do have in common is relatively low interest in politics: They had the lowest rates of voting in the 2020 presidential election and are less likely than other groups to follow government and public affairs most of the time.

Proposition 13 Makes California Housing Less Affordable

Favoring the status quo discourages housing construction which reduces housing supply, which makes housing less affordable.
California faces a shortage of housing according to politicians, activists, and residents. In his paper, I leverage differential exposure to the Proposition 13 tax laws to understand the impact of this policy on the production of housing in Southern California. Proposition 13 restricts property tax growth as long as the owner doesn’t sell or redevelop the property, which allows me to exploit differences in market conditions at the time of prior purchase to identify the effect of these property tax limits on property redevelopment. I find that Proposition 13 discourages redevelopment and sales. In a dynamic discrete choice model of land use, I find that adopting a land value tax that replaces Proposition 13 based property taxes would increase housing production by 35% generating a similar or greater amount of new housing as other policies under consideration in California.
Full paper here.

08 November 2021

Colorado Prohibits Criminal Restitution Liability For Dismissed Conduct

For what conduct can restitution be imposed by a criminal court in connection with a plea bargain that dismisses some charges against a defendant.

a sentencing court may not impose restitution for pecuniary losses proximately caused by conduct exclusively related to dismissed charges.

It reached this decision as a matter of statutory interpretation of Colorado laws, rather than as a matter of constitutional law. 

This differs from the rule in federal courts which allows criminal courts to impose sentences based, in part, upon acquitted, dismissed, or uncharged conduct, so long as the sentence as a whole does not exceed the sentence authorized by a jury verdict or a plea of guilty to a charge. 

The Colorado Supreme Court also interpreted the meaning of the deadline for restitution orders, clarifying which deadlines apply to the date that the orders are entered by the court (absent a showing of good cause for delay) and which apply to the date that this relief may be requested by prosecutors.

02 November 2021

Denver and Colorado 2021 Election Results

It is early yet, but most of the Denver School Board and ballot issue results aren't close.

Denver Public Schools Board Seats

In the Denver School Board race Scott Esserman, the teacher's union supported candidate, will easily win first place in the "at large" race, Carrie A. Olsen, the incumbent Board President, will easily win re-election in District 3, and Michelle Quattlebaum, also supported by the teacher's union, will have a secure win in District 4. I endorsed both the District 3 and District 4 winners, and as it happens, ended up voting for Esserman in the end for the "at large" race as well although I was torn between the two front runners in that race.

But, District 2 between teacher's union supported Xochitl "Sochi" Gaytan and reformer supported Karolina Villagrana is down to the wire: 41 votes out of 7,009 favor Gaytan right now, with many more votes to be counted. I endorsed Villagrana in that race, but it will hardly be a tragedy for the Denver Public Schools if Gaytan wins instead and there are still votes left to count.

Denver Ballot Issues

On Denver specific ballot issues, voters are lining up perfectly with my recommendations.

Five municipal bond authorizations were on the ballot (2A, 2B, 2C, 2D and 2E). Four of them 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D are passing by large margins. But 2E to finance a $190 million overhaul of the National Western Stock Show complex faces an overwhelming defeat.

2F which would have repealed a group housing ordinance passed by the city to allow more unrelated people to live together and open more zones to nursing homes, group homes, and homeless shelters is trailing by 2-1 margins. Issue 303 which would have allowed private citizens to quickly evict homeless people from city property (in a manner contrary to a binding court order) and would have limited the city's ability to establish homeless camps, was defeated.

2G which would give the Independent Police Monitor more authority, and 2H which would push the municipal election date from May to April since the current date violated state and federal law are passing easily.

Issue 300 which would tax marijuana for non-medical COVID prevent measure research was defeated.

Issues 301 and 302 pertained to the Park Hill Golf Course. Issue 301 honored a conservation easement for the property despite a loophole in it, and kept the Park Hill Golf Course as a park or open space. Issue 302 which would have allowed housing developments there was defeated. 

Issue 304 which would have cut $50 million a year of sale tax revenue each year without replacing it, forcibly denting the City budget was also soundly defeated.

State Ballot Issues 

City and County of Denver voters also rejected all three state ballot issues (in line with my endorsements): 78 requiring legislative approval of non-tax revenue spending otherwise allocated to the Governor, 119 raising marijuana taxes for after school program vouchers, and 120 permanently reducing property taxes that the legislature mostly reduced temporarily already, were all disfavored in Denver, but we'll have to see the statewide counts to know if these measures pass overall or not.

So far, all three measures are heading to defeat statewide by substantial margins as well. Amendment 78, as a state constitutional amendment, required a 55% majority to pass.