Posts tagged united states

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Indian treaties belong not just to Indians; they belong to everyone in the United States. Today, some of these treaties especially those reserving water rights or hunting and fishing rights, or granting immunities from certain state taxes, may seem “unfair” to non-Indians, just as many of these treaties seemed unfair to Indians at the time they were signed. But regardless of how they seemed then or now, the citizens of this country have legal, moral, and ethical duty to enforce these treaties. Indians paid dearly for their treaty rights, and the United States must keep its end of the bargain. Some people, calling these treaties “ancient documents,” argue that they no longer need to be enforced. However, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are “ancient” documents as well. As one court observed in enforcing a century-old treaty, “the mere passage of time has not eroded, and cannot erode, the rights guaranteed by solemn treaties that both sides pledged on their honor to uphold.
Stephen L. Pevar, The Rights of Indians And Tribes, Fourth Edition (via adailyriot)

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Filed under Native American American Indian NDN Tribes Indian Tribes Indian Tribe Treaties Indian Law Native Law Tribal Law United States water rights hunting fishing treaty rights U.S. Consitution Consitution Declaration of Independence

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Damages at Trial: Reactions to Race-Based Remittitur


An important example of the tension between equal treatment and individualized claim resolution was the New York case of Griffin v. Brady, which was notorious at the time, but has since receded into obscurity. The New York Times on May 22, 1909 carried the headline, “Negro Not Equal to White: Suffers Less Humiliation in False Arrest, Court Holds.” George Griffin, a black Pullman porter, had sued Daniel Brady, president of Brady Brass Company, for false imprisonment damages because, he claimed, Brady had “maliciously caused his arrest on the charge of having stolen a card case containing $20, several railroad passes, and valuable papers, but the next day, when the case was investigated by the Magistrate, he was discharged” (New York Times, May 22, 1909). The events took place in Montreal. A jury in New York found Brady liable and awarded Griffin $2,500. After the verdict, trial judge Philip Dugro told Griffin’s lawyers “that he would set the verdict aside unless their client would consent to a reduction of the amount of damages to $300.” This practice, known as remittitur, allows a trial judge who thinks a jury verdict is excessive to give the plaintiff a choice between a lower damages amount and a new trial (Johnson and Gunn, 2005, 185). When the plaintiff objected, the judge reduced the verdict (NYT).

Justice Dugro’s courtroom comments attracted notice. Referring to Mr. Griffin, Judge Dugro reportedly said:

He was a porter, and while he is just as good as the President of the United States, and if he is imprisoned wrongfully he should be paid for it, it would be a bad argument to say that he is just as good in many senses. He would not be hurt just as much if put in prison as every other man would be. That depends on a man’s standing, what his circumstances are, and, if he is a colored man, the fact that he is a colored man is to be considered…[I]n one sense, a colored man is just as good as a white man, for the law says he is, but he has not the same amount of injury under all circumstances that a white man would have. Maybe in a colored community down South, where the white man was held in great disfavor, he might be more injured, but after all that is not this sort of community. In this sort of community I dare say the amount of evil that would flow to the colored man from a charge like this would not be as great as it probably would be to a white man (New York Times, 1909, 16)

Despite these race-specific and racist statements by the judge in reducing the damage amount, this decision was affirmed by at least three appellate orders, none of which discussed its substance (Griffin v. Brady 1909, 1909, and 1910).

- Whiteness, Equal Treatment, and the Valuation of Injury in Torts, 1900-1949 by Jennifer B. Wriggins, found in the anthology Fault Lines, edited by David M. Engel and Michael McCann.

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Filed under Civil law Law Legal culture Race Racism United States White supremacy White northern liberals

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You are going around to get a story of slavery conditions and the persecutions of negroes before the civil war and the economic conditions concerning them since that war. You should have known before this late day all about that. Are you going to help us? No! you are only helping yourself. You say that my story may be put into a book, that you are from the Federal Writers’ Project. Well, the negro will not get anything out of it, no matter where you are from. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I didn’t like her book and I hate her. No matter where you are from I don’t want you to write my story cause the white folks have been and are now and always will be against the negro.

Thomas Hall, ex-slave of Orange County, North Carolina; from Been in the Storm So Long by Leon Litwack.

More than seventy years after emancipation, Thomas Hall, who had been born a slave in Orange County, North Carolina, could still shake with anger when he thought about the way his people had been freed. “Lincoln got the praise for freeing us, but did he do it? He give us freedom without giving us any chance to live to ourselves and we still had to depend on the southern white man for work, food and clothing, and he held us through our necessity and want in a state of servitude but little better than slavery. Lincoln done but little for the negro race and from living standpoint nothing.” While relating a history of white betrayal, North and South, the bitterness overflowed and he finally turned it upon the white interviewer.

(via bowfolk)

they say “bitterness” here like it’s a bad thing…

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Filed under Race Racism United States Reconstruction Post-Civil War

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Fantastic anthology of articles pertaining to civil litigation in the U.S.


I considered posting sections of this book, but the entire thing is so informative and groundbreaking (in the sense that most legal scholars don’t actually evaluate the effects of cultural bias or systemic oppression in cases of injury, or torts).

The chapter it directly links to, Regulating Middlesex, gives an insightful and relatively easy to digest introduction to forced gender assignment in the cases of children and adolescents who are classified as intersex or whose bodies do not fit the cultural demand for a gender binary classification system. As someone who underwent several of these operations and ordeals myself, it is terribly upsetting and I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking to read something that isn’t going to ruin your day.

Well.. if you’re a decent human being, I suppose.

Trimmed off the part where the chapter is embedded; if you want to see it, check it out in reinventionoftheprintingpress’s OP. I’m reading it.

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Filed under Information Politics United States Racism Intersex Trans* rights Civil law Civil rights Law Gender

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Trigger Warning for lots of things

Nonconsensual surgery on infants (intersex infants specifically) and genital essentialism are the most obvious.


“For medical experts, the appearance of external genitalia tends to be considered more important than chromosomes in determining sexual identity. Current medical protocols, for example, indicate that newborn boys should have a penis that is at least 2.5 centimeters long and newborn girls should have a clitoris that is no larger than 1 centimeter (Ben-Asher, 2006). Children who do not conform to these norms are designated for medical treatment, including hormone therapy and surgery, to help them more closely approximate the traits of either a male or female classification. Although ambiguous genitalia pose no physical health risk, the birth of a child with ambiguous genitalia is deemed by medical experts to be a “social emergency” requiring immediate medical attention (American Association of Pediatrics [AAP] Policy, 2000). As a practical matter, it is much easier to construct an artificial vagina than an artificial penis. Because of this, it remains standard practice within the medical profession to perform a sex change operation on children with unusually small penises and other “under-masculinized” traits, even if the chromosomes fit the XY classification as male. XX babies with enlarged clitorises, on the other hand, are not converted into “boys” but undergo surgery to either remove or alter the clitoris to conform to medical expectations for girls.”

Regulating Middlesex by Anne Bloom, found in the anthology Fault Lines, edited by David M. Engel and Michael McCann

(Source: books.google.com, via reinventionoftheprintingpress-d)

Filed under Intersex Gender Sex Medicine Health United States Biopower Misogyny

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“The term “litigation” conjures up, in most peoples’ minds, the image of a trial: a judge and jury, a courtroom with an American flag, rows of seats with crowded onlookers. Above all, it conveys the idea of a trial - a procedure in court. In fact, trials went into a steep decline in the late twentieth century, so mush so, that Marc Galanter and other scholars began to talk about the “vanishing trial”. Federal civil cases filed in 1962 ended up as actual trials in only 11.5 percent of cases - which seems like very little; yet by 2002, the portion that ended up in an actual trial was astonishingly low - 1.8 percent. The same decline seems to be taking place in state courts.

Most cases, then, do not fit the popular image of the trial. The trial, in fact, has been vanishing for a long time. Jury trials have been declining for more than 150 years. Certain categories of case never went before a jury - cases involving family trusts, for example, or maritime cases - and even where this a right to a jury, the parties can, if they wish, choose to waive a jury and let a judge handle the case by herself. Moreover, it would surprise people to know how little litigation lawyers actually spend in a courtroom arguing a case. Mainly this is because, as we shall see, most cases settle, so that what litigation lawyers do has been described as “litigotion,” that is, a process of bargaining and dickering, outside of court.

But it is also because the center of gravity in trials, even those that do not settle, has shifted dramatically to the pre-trial phase. Many of the witnesses are “deposed”; that is, their testimony is taken and recorded in a kind of mini-trial outside the courtroom. Also important is the rise of “discovery”. Under Rule 34 of the Federal Rules, either side, for “good cause,” can get a court order to discover any “documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects” from the other side, if they “constitute or contain evidence”. Discovery, at its worst, permits wild and expensive fishing expeditions; at its best, it makes for more efficient trials, avoiding surprises and wasted energy. All of this pre-trial activity, however, by now perhaps outweighs the actual trial as an element in the life-course of litigation.”

- The Litigation Revolution by Lawrence M. Friedman

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Filed under Civil court Tort law Injury United States Trial Law Watching Law and Order does not make you a lawyer

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Haiti: Seven Places Where the Earthquake Money Did and Did Not Go


The UN estimated international donors gave Haiti over $1.6 billion in relief aid since the earthquake (about $155 per Haitian) and over $2 billion in recovery aid (about $173 per Haitian) over the last two years.

Yet Haiti looks like the earthquake happened two months ago, not two years. Over half a million people remain homeless in hundreds of informal camps, most of the tons of debris from destroyed buildings still lays where it fell, and cholera, a preventable disease, was introduced into the country and is now an epidemic killing thousands and sickening hundreds of thousands more.

It turns out that almost none of the money that the general public thought was going to Haiti actually went directly to Haiti.  The international community chose to bypass the Haitian people, Haitian non-governmental organizations and the government of Haiti.  Funds were instead diverted to other governments, international NGOs, and private companies.

Despite this near total lack of control of the money by Haitians, if history is an indication, it is quite likely that the failures will ultimately be blamed on the Haitians themselves in a “blame the victim” reaction.

Haitians ask the same question as many around the world “Where did the money go?

Here are seven places where the earthquake money did and did not go.

One.  The largest single recipient of US earthquake money was the US government.  The same holds true for donations by other countries.

Right after the earthquake, the US allocated $379 million in aid and sent in 5000 troops.  The Associated Press discovered that of the $379 million in initial US money promised for Haiti, most was not really money going directly, or in some cases even indirectly, to Haiti.  They documented in January 2010 that thirty three cents of each of these US dollars for Haiti was actually given directly back to the US to reimburse ourselves for sending in our military.  Forty two cents of each dollar went to private and public non-governmental organizations like Save the Children, the UN World Food Program and the Pan American Health Organization.  Hardly any went directly to Haitians or their government.

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Filed under Haiti Charity Disaster relief United States

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It is not an exaggeration to state that intellectual property rights are a matter of life or death. This is most obvious in the case of the patent protection of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related medicines. Since the late 1990s, pharmaceutical patents have been a lightning rod for criticism of the manner in which intellectual property rights function within the global system. The yearly cost of keeping human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients alive on the cocktail of drugs currently available in the developed countries has in the past cost up to a thousand times the typical annual health expenditure per capita for developing countries. Under structural adjustment programs (supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund), many of these countries have also seen health-sector expenditures decline precipitously. The drugs remain prohibitively expensive, costing the lives of the patients too poor to afford the medicines to keep them living with AIDS.

To deal with this problem, in the 1990s Ghana and Brazil tried to import from Indian manufacturers cheaper generic versions of the AIDS-cocktail’s component drugs. This action reflected a long history of non-protection for foreign pharmaceutical patents in INdia, where a large generic manufacturing sector had developed. This competition from generics prompted some multinational pharmaceutical companies to offer discounts on their AIDS drug treatments (although large-scale importation remains beyond even Brazil, which is relatively wealthy), and in some cases companies offered free shipment of drugs.

The use of generic substitutes for patented drugs also spurred legal action on behalf of Merck and others by the United States against Brazil in the World Trade Organization (WTO), however, the US Trade Representative (USTR) argued that the production and use of generics were directly in contravention of international law and that there could be no justification for the appropriation of US companies’ (intellectual) property. This was theft, and the USTR vigorously protested that it helped no one. Despite being subsequently dropped owing to political pressure, this action reveals much about the overall attitude of the office of the USTR: whatever the human costs, intellectual property rights (IPRs) must be upheld

Intellectual Property Rights: A Critical History by Christopher May and Susan K. Sell (2006)

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Filed under Intellectual property Intellectual property law United States WTO IMF AIDS HIV Health Capitalism