We haven't done a Friday Roundup for a while, where instead of launching into a jeremiad against some recent court decision, I'd simply surf the web and mail it in, extending myself only so far as to make some snarky comment or two. Well, tough week, so that's all the loving I'm showing today.
Neat trick. The FBI and the Justice Department managed to do something I thought was impossible: make me feel bad for former Sen. Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens. Even before Stevens conviction, which came just days before an election he narrowly lost, there were complaints that the prosecution was playing hide-and-seek with key evidence. A month later, a government witness told the judge he'd "received extensive help from prosecutors prior to taking the stand and would have testified differently had he not been given the assistance." Then in February, an FBI agent involved in the investigation claimed that the lead agent had an improper relationship with the government's main witness.
So yesterday, the Justice Department posted a press release announcing that, after a review of the case, the Attorney General had "determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial." Assuming it wasn't his idea of an April Fool's joke, I guess that makes it all better, huh?
Here's the scary part. Ted Stevens wasn't some rummy nickel and dime drug dealer. He was a United States Senator, and one of the most powerful members of that body. And the Feds still almost got away with taking him down. The next time you hear somebody complaining about all those rights criminals get, you explain to them that nothing is more powerful than the government, and those rights are just a way of trying to balance the scales. As Ted Stevens knows, even that's not enough sometimes.
Go west, young man. Back when I practiced personal injury law a bit, one of the biggest problems I had was lowering my client's expectations. As settlement time neared, I'd tell them what I thought we could get. They'd tell me I was crazy because some guy in California had gotten eight zillion dollars for the same type of injury, and I had to explain that California, at least insofar as it's legal system was concerned, was not part of the known Universe.
And that was back in the day when insurance companies were offering you five or even ten times your medical bills. Now, you get a fender-bender with medicals of $3,200, the insurance company lawyer offers you $3,400 to settle, then laughs as you curl up in a corner and whimper.
Well, California hasn't changed any, as Adam Rogers can tell you. As this story relates, Adam was driving his motorcyle down Highway 1 near Carmel when he ran into some wild boars who'd wandered onto the roadway. Who was at fault -- the state, which allegedly knew about the problem but did nothing to resolve it, or Adam, who happened to be drunk at the time? No brainer, concludes the jury as it awards $8.6 million to Adam.
April Fools. I missed the chance to post something clever here on April Fool's Day, but that would have required me to be clever. I did run across some April Fool's pranks from past years by people who were clever. Google has always been a contender in this category, starting out with its announcement of MentalPlex™ in 2000, which allowed you to perform a search merely by "projecting a mental image of what you want to find." Then there was Burger King's introduction of the "left-handed Whopper," which had "all the condiments rotated 180 degrees," redistributing the weight of the sandwich and thus resulting in "fewer condiment 'spills' for left-handed hamburger lovers."
The topper, though, was probably the BBC's 1957 production of the "Spaghetti Harvest" in Switzerland:
Hundreds of people called the BBC and asked where they might purchase such trees. The BBC advised them to put a sprig of spaghetti in a bowl of tomato sauce and "hope for the best."
See you on Monday.