Civil Gideon and Public Policy

Posted By on April 9, 2015

While the majority of Americans know they have a right to counsel when charged with a crime where imprisonment is the punishment, most don’t know that the right wasn’t applicable to the States until 1963 when the Supreme Court decided the case Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). The court reasoned that the Sixth Amendment guaranteed this right in criminal actions. However, there is no such guarantee for civil actions, even those where a fundamental right is concerned. Only Massachusetts has recognized a right to an attorney in civil actions512px-Parenting where the guardianship of a child is at issue. In every other state, parents whose children have been removed from their custody are not entitled to representation, with disastrous results.

In a recent case involving the death of a child, an Alabama grandmother was convicted of murder after forcing her nine-year-old granddaughter to run for hours.  The girl’s father had custody of her after he used child protective services to harass the mother and hired an attorney to pressure her into giving up custody. After that, he took the child away, in direct violation of the custody agreement. The girl’s mother fought to regain custody of her for over three years. She was granted visitation rights in time to hold her daughter as she died. One cannot help but wonder if the outcome would have been different if the child’s mother would have had the benefit of counsel.

What are the public policy considerations, pro and con, when considering amending the U.S.Constitution to guarantee legal representation in civil proceedings where the individual’s life, liberty, or property interests are at stake?

Have a Little Emotional Neutrality with Your Net Neutrality

Posted By on November 14, 2014

Photo Source:

Photo Source:

I’m not sure how, but the issue of internet regulation has somehow become a partisan question, with dutiful minions from both major political parties —and a few from the fringe —taking up sides and decrying the ignorance or evil of the other side. Here’s an idea. Let’s take some of the emotion out of this. One of the first rules of conflict resolution is to determine who benefits from the conflict in the first place, because someone always benefits. Here, the beneficiaries of the conflict are major political action committees of every stripe that are conjuring up Orwellian images of compliance or restrictions (depending on who’s doing the conjuring) in order to raise money. Not surprising, because in the end, Net Neutrality is about money.

The latest decision by a three-judge panel from the D.C. Court of Appeals has once again brought out the emotional lunacy that politicians and their financiers so desperately rely on. So, let’s understand just what the court did and didn’t do. The case, Verizon v. FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION came before the court to answer one question: Does the FCC have the authority to regulate broadband providers as common carriers? The answer is a resounding no. (more…)

Preventing Voter Fraud in Rural America

Posted By on November 4, 2014

UPDATE: I received the following statement from the Rusk County Republicans on this matter:

Thank you for contacting me regarding this, Jerri. I forwarded your concern on to a special hotline set up to report voter fraud. It is on file in case more becomes of the issue. I am glad to hear you did get in touch with GAB finally. Voter fraud is absolutely real and I just heard of a case of it in this election where people were bussed in from out of state to vote…thankfully it was caught. If you hear anything else from GAB on your encounter with this situation, let me know. I wish more people were as vigilante as you about suspicions of fraud at the ballot box. Who among us would want to be the one to have their vote negated by a fraudulent one? Thank you again, Jerri.

Your right to vote is your opportunity to protect over hrere the freedoms for which Americans fight over there.

Image Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

I have always understood what the privilege of voting means. At the age of 18, while living in what was then West Germany, I requested an absentee ballot so I could vote in my first election. I voted for the independent candidate, John Anderson. By the next election, I was a Reagan Republican. And later, a Clinton Democrat. I value the right to vote as highly as I value my American heritage. That’s why what I witnessed at my voting place in Rib Lake, Wisconsin, disturbed me so deeply.


Misleading Words, Misinformation, and Poor Design Drive Away Visitors and Money

Posted By on October 9, 2014

Photo Copyright: Fotolia

Photo Copyright: Fotolia

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper, addressing an issue that arose in the City of Medford, Wisconsin, over restrictions on sex offender residency. In response, a colleague contacted me to ask who would want to live in Medford anyway, given that the City’s website claims it is a progressive community. He was sincere. After visiting the City’s website, he came away with the impression that the City only welcomes those who self-identify as progressives—a common term meant to describe a person’s political viewpoint or affiliation. Is that what the Medford City Council intended when they authorized the language? Doubtful. (more…)

Using Internet Rumors for Crisis Control

Posted By on September 2, 2014

Floating Balloons

Photo Source: Library of Congress

The chances are pretty good that you either know a “birther” or have had the misfortune of crossing paths with one on social media. The Birther movement began during Barack Obama’s first campaign for President, and although the noise has died down in the past few months, the movement’s adherents remained steadfast that the first Black President was born in Kenya. Of course, they offer nothing in the way of solid proof, and what they do offer points to an altogether different, and far more logical conclusion: Before he was President, Barack Obama learned how to use Academia’s racial and national prejudices, along with its innate bias to add a little cash to his pocket. (more…)

Three Paths To Hyperlink Hell

Posted By on August 14, 2014

Network of cubes

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You wouldn’t think hyperlinking would be all that controversial or a material risk consideration when building and maintaining a website. But the threat of damage to your reputation, brand, and financial security are very real, and even though your web developer may be able to upload code to a site, unless they are also aware of the need for active site management and auditing, you could find yourself on a path to hyperlink Hell.

California Rules The Internet

Posted By on August 11, 2014

How would you like to take a trip to the parched ends of the Earth, or as the locals call it—California, to defend an action brought in a Superior Court because of something you said, did, or sold on your website? If this isn’t your idea of a good time, keep reading. California’s internet privacy laws have changed the way the internet works. Coupled with a long-arm statute that gives California courts the most liberal and extensive reach in the country, California’s online privacy laws make anyone who operates a business or personal website highly susceptible to being summoned into court in there.

California’s Absolute Right

Global computer technology concept

Image Source:

California took the lead in attempting to protect individual privacy on the internet with the enactment of The California Online Privacy Protection Act (“CalOPPA”).[1] The law, which became effective in July of 2004, subjects website owners to legal actions by California residents claiming their privacy rights have been violated. Residents of California have an absolute right to know how their information is being collected and used in cyber space. If you operate a website and receive a request from a California user asking you to tell them what information you are collecting and how you are using it, you have 30 days to post that information or face a lawsuit for non-compliance. (more…)

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