Last week, I went to the preliminary hearing for Chris Bucchere, a software developer charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. On a workday morning in March 2012, Bucchere struck and killed a 71-year-old pedestrian, Sutchi Hui, in a busy, crowded intersection. Bucchere’s case has gotten a lot of attention in San Francisco, both because this is a case of manslaughter by bike rather than by car, and because Bucchere garnered criticism for writing about the incident on an online biking forum afterward, particularly because he ended the post by lamenting the “heroic” death of his helmet.
As in many urban environments, there is strife between the different classes of commuters in his city. Bucchere epitomized for many the reckless biker who takes liberties with the laws of the road — annoying drivers — and does not take seriously the damage that can be done on two wheels to those on two legs — annoying pedestrians, and in this case, mortally injuring one. The case interested me because press reports indicated that data from Bucchere’s Strava account — an app that bikers can use to track their rides — had been used to show how fast he had been going and to prove he had ignored stop signs.
District Attorney George Gascón told me the Strava data was part of the reason the city had decided to bring such severe charges against Bucchere. “It implies he was trying to compete with himself,” Gascón said. Bucchere’s online comments also played a role. “His helmet was more important than a human being.”
The Strava data did not wind up being instrumental in the hearing at all, though; instead 30 seconds of surveillance video took center stage.
I wish I could tell you that Americans fought the good fight, and the TSA let us be. I wish I could tell you that — but holiday travel is no fairy-tale world. We never said who did it, but we all knew. Things went on like that for awhile — travel consists of routine, and then more routine. Every so often, Americans would show up with fresh bruises. The TSA kept at us — sometimes we were able to fight ‘em off, sometimes not. And that’s how it went for American travelers — that was our routine.
Today is the biggest travel day of the year, and for another Thanksgiving, Americans will be doing it under the watchful eye of the Orwellian Transportation Security And Molestation Administration. The $8 billion dollar organization is alive, well, and entrenched. And nobody can accuse the freshly reelected Democratic president of doing anything to protect our civil liberties against the TSA. Nor has the supposedly liberty-loving Tea Party made aggressive groping at airports a major issue.
But for the most part, the country seems resigned to the TSA’s continued existence. Ooh, now kids under 12 don’t have to take off their shoes. Progress! We don’t sue them, we don’t legislate against them, we just kind of take it and hope that they decide to take their hands off our junk out of the kindness of their hearts.
We’ve got a couple of stories that, in their own way, highlight how cowed we’ve become….
Yesterday we covered the internet brouhaha over Progressive Insurance. The insurance company caught a lot of internet flak after comedian Matt Fisher wrote this provocative blog post: My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court. Outrage against Progressive’s apparent provision of a defense to the driver who killed Katie Fisher — even though Katie Fisher was Progressive’s insured, not that driver — went viral over social media (especially after actor Wil Wheaton got involved).
Now Progressive is paying up. The company has reached a settlement with the Fisher family.
We recently heard from Progressive’s PR firm, which sent us a statement on the Fisher case. What does Flo have to say for herself?
If you were on the internet at all yesterday, you likely heard about this. Your mom probably posted it on her Facebook wall and a thousand of your tweeps probably hit you up on the Twitter to register their outrage. On Monday, a comedian by the name of Matt Fisher wrote a post on his tumblr account titled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court.” What resulted was an outpouring of rage and hive-minded moralizing that has become the internet’s stock in trade. A great injustice had been done and, dammit, the internet was going to save the day. Or at least tweet about the day. Even Wil Wheaton made an impassioned cameo in the great shoutathon, presumably because a cameo is the best Wil Wheaton can hope for these days.
And this great unwashed mass of outrage went to sleep last night and slept like babies, secure in the smug knowledge that they had done good. Of course, the picture that was so broadly painted yesterday didn’t do justice to anyone. Progressive Insurance is not evil and the Internet remains a cesspool of pornography and legal blog posts. Matt Fisher did a pretty solid number on Progressive Insurance; this is true. They’ve taken a great PR hit, and most coverage of the whole affair has quickly moved on from any sort of analysis of the actual claim itself to a much easier consideration of how, and in which ways, Progressive Insurance is royally f**ked.
Many of us get snarky in our personal writing, and many of us employ emoticons in email messages or Gchat exchanges. As litigators well know, sometimes a cold transcript doesn’t adequately convey tone. For this reason, I’ve even seen federal judges use winking smiley-face emoticons in email messages.
But you shouldn’t use smiley faces in documents you file with the court — even the super-icky courts that hear traffic appeals (yes, they exist). This is a lesson that Marilyn Ringstaff, a 2006 graduate of John Marshall Law School, learned the hard way….
Here’s the second half of the “head-to-head” round of ATL Idol. If you’re not up to speed on what’s going on, background information is available in this prior post (or just scroll down the front page to the post immediately below this one).
You can check out the second half of the head-to-head round, featuring the blogging of SOPHIST and FROLIC AND DETOUR, after the jump.
The rain in Spain falls mainly on… a**holes? Well, only if most Spaniards are like Tomas Delgado — and we’re guessing (and hoping) they’re not.
After all, since chutzpah like this doesn’t come along often. Our latest Lawsuit of the Day hails from Spain, via CNN:
A Spanish businessman withdrew a controversial lawsuit Wednesday against the family of a teenage boy he struck and killed while driving a luxury car.
Tomas Delgado had filed a suit asking the dead boy’s parents to pay him €20,000 ($29,400) on the grounds that the collision that killed their teenage son also damaged his Audi A-8.
After public outrage ensued, Delgado dropped the suit — but was none too happy about it:
The businessman had insisted in a recent television interview that he was a victim, too. He was not present for a court hearing Wednesday. His lawyer told the court that Delgado felt that the extensive publicity amounted to a public lynching.
A high-tech lynch mob for an uppity Audi driver. Who was reportedly driving 107 miles per hour in an area where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour. Who hit the boy from behind, according to the boy’s father, and “dragged [him] 106 meters (347 feet) along a rural highway.”
Read more in the full article (which includes an interesting digression about how quickly you need to file your notice of appeal in Spanish courts; their appeal periods make ours look like an eternity). Driver drops bid to sue family of boy he killed [CNN]
* Senator Brownback doesn’t include women of reproductive age in his litany. But you can’t protect everyone, can you? [Mirror of Justice]
* I once sent out letters like this to production companies, volunteering my script-reading services, and one guy took the time to tell me to f*%k myself because what the hell did I know about scripts. But I’m sure this guy will have much better luck. [Prettier Than Napolean]
* Let’s all be thankful that cosmos weren’t served. My gender-neutral marketing and client development strategy would be to recruit only hot associates of both genders and all sexual orientations, and pimp them out to clients as appropriate. [WSJ Law Blog via Professor Bainbridge]
* Looks like it’s every man for himself. [Overlawyered]
* Sucks to be a plaintiff’s lawyer. [Business Week via How Appealing]
* Classy. [CNN]
* The whole lynch-mob-style execution thing was not our idea. [Jurist]
* Westar convictions overturned. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Detention of three legal immigrants at Port of Miami evidently amounts to nothing; the whole thing was a “misunderstanding”. [AP via Yahoo!]
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