Monday, July 17, 2006

U.S. v. Lyons (9th Cir. - July 17, 2006)

Telemarketers. Who doesn't hate them? I know I do. With a deep and abiding passion. Perhaps I hate door-to-door solicitations more. But it's a close call. Neither of them are my favorites.

Like many people, I never buy from or give anything in response to any of these solicitations. And my pre-existing sentiment in this regard was only solidified after reading this opinion by Judge McKeown. Sure, you know intellectually that most of these telemarketer charity things have absurdly high expense ratios and/or are complete scams. But actually reading the details burns this reality into your soul. Check out the first half-dozen pages of the opinion and see where the millions of dollars in charitable contributions went, as well as just how deliberate and intentional (in my view) the scam was -- an attempt to do just pitifully enough to try to make it legal and stay out of jail. I really hope these people rot in prison.

Two other tangential points. First, I smiled at the first footnote. Always good to work in a Seinfeld dialogue in the first sentence. Second, conversely, I very much frowned at the last page; in particular, at what the district court judge -- Judge David O. Carter (of the Central District of California) -- said to the defendants and their counsel below. Sure, Judge Carter was mad. And, who knows, perhaps he was angry for good reason, as he had a sense -- and perhaps an accurate one -- that defendants' counsel was deliberately improperly objecting.

Still, you just don't say what Judge Carter did: "I'm warning you. [B]y the time they fish your client out of prison, if he's convicted -- and even if I'm overturned in terms of something I say in front of the jury, it will be years. So don't press me on it counsel." That just ain't right. You don't do (or say) something like that. It's an abuse of power. And a not-so-veiled threat.

So some interesting stuff in here. A nice opinion on a hot and muggy day in Southern California.