CALawMama's Blog


Experiences at the interface of life, law, and motherhood in Cali

Liberal Education versus “Common Core”

“A mass culture is a culture which can be appropriated by the meanest capacities without any intellectual and moral effort whatsoever and at a very low monetary price.
Liberal education is the counterpoison to mass culture, to the corroding effects of mass culture, to its inherent tendency to produce nothing but “specialists without spirit or vision and voluptuaries without heart.”
Liberal education reminds those members of a mass democracy who have ears to hear, of human greatness.”
drops mic.
Leo Strauss, What is Liberal Education

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On the Prejudices of Philosophers

“So you want to live “according to nature?” Oh, you noble Stoics, what a fraud in this phrase!

[/]Imagine something like nature, profligate without measure, indifferent without measure, without purpose and regard, without mercy and justice, fertile and barren and uncertain at the same time, think of the indifference itself as power– how could you live according to this indifference?


[/]Living– isn’t that wanting specifically to be something other than this nature? Isn’t living assessing, preferring, being unfair, being limited, wanting to be different? And assuming your imperative to “live according to nature” basically amounts to “living according to life”– well how could you not? Why make a principle out of what you yourselves are and must be?–

[/]But in fact, something quite different is going on: while pretending with delight to read the canon of your law in nature, you want the opposite, you strange actors and self-deceivers! Your pride wants to dictate and annex your morals and ideals onto nature- yes, nature itself–, you demand that it be nature “according to Stoa” and you want to make all existence exist in your own image alone– as a huge eternal glorification and universalization of Stoicism!

[/]For all your love of truth, you have forced yourselves so long, so persistently, and with such hyptonic rigidity to have a false, namely Stoic, view of nature, that you can no longer see it any other way,– and some abysmal piece of arrogance finally gives you the madhouse hope that because you know how to tyrannize yourselves– Stoicism is self-tyranny-, nature lets itself be tyrannized as well: because isn’t the Stoic a piece of nature?

[/]…But this is an old, eternal story: what happened back then with the Stoics still happens today, just as soon as a philosophy begins believing in itself. It always creates the world in its own image, it cannot do otherwise; philosophy is this tyrannical drive itself, the most spiritual will to power, to the “creation of the world,” to the causa prima.”

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SCOTUS Condones Use of Deadly Force in “Shoot First, Think Later” Case

Kudos to Washington Post for covering the story.

Facts: potentially belligerent driver/officers attempting to arrest the driver for a misdemeanor probation violation/driver threatens to shoot police who give chase/high speed chase ensues:

Officers set up spike strips to puncture driver’s tires. Officer suggested shooting at driver’s engine to end the chase. Superior told him NOT to shoot, wait and see what happened with strips. Officer fired 6 shots at the car, none of which hit the engine, 4 of which hit the driver and killed him.

The court ruled in support of the officer’s use of deadly force EIGHT to ONE.

Sotomayor with the sole dissent:

“Chadrin Mullenix fired six rounds in the dark at a car traveling 85 miles per hour,” she wrote. “He did so without any training in that tactic, against the wait order of his superior officer, and less than a second before the car hit spike strips deployed to stop it.”

Her opinion stated that it was “clearly established” in prior decisions regarding excessive force that he acted improperly.

“Sotomayor noted that Mullenix’s words to his superior after the shooting were “How’s that for proactive?” It was an apparent reference to an earlier counseling session at which Mullenix was told he was not enterprising enough.

Mullenix’s “glib comment,” Sotomayor wrote, “seems to me revealing of the culture this court’s decision supports when it calls it reasonable — or even reasonably reasonable — to use deadly force for no discernible gain and over a supervisor’s express order to ‘stand by.’ ””

I can’t find the opinion, but here is the petition for cert.

First of all, however, eventhough we do not have the opinion to refer to, though I will do some more digging, the issues presented here, based on what I can glean from the sparse coverage, is not whether the officer is responsible (at all) as an agent of the state, but rather whether the victim’s family can sue the officer as an individual. In other words, the question presented seems to be whether the officer’s conduct can be said to go beyond that which other officers would reasonably do, thus removing him from the protections of sovereign immunity. That is the issue upon which the Court was ruling. It remains to be seen whether or not the officer as an agent of the police force, and therefore the state, remains liable to the family under whatever tort claim process is available in that jurisdiction.

That being said, what is most troubling about this case is how it seems to follow the trend we can observe in several recent opinions, in that it appears to utterly ignore prior SCOTUS precedent.

I mean Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985) is one of the first cases any given law student reads during their introductory Criminal Procedure class.

Here is the holding of the case:

“This case requires us to determine the constitutionality of the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of an apparently unarmed suspected felon. We conclude that such force may not be used unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

In Garner, the officers shot and killed a fleeing young unarmed man who was suspected of committing a robbery. Thus, clearly, the facts of the case are not exactly analogous. However, it is important to note that in both cases, there was no determinative felony that had been committed. In fact, in Mullenix, the officers were attempting to arrest him for a misdemeanor probation violation, not even a felony, and presumably not a violent offense.

“[T]here can be no question that apprehension by the use of deadly force is a seizure subject to the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment.” Remember that requirement, reasonableness?

Thus, in order determine the constitutionality of a seizure,

“[w]e must balance the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against the importance of the governmental interests alleged to justify the intrusion.” The intrusion, in both cases being the use of deadly force.

In Garner, the Court stated:

[Following the balancing process, and] notwithstanding probable cause to seize a suspect, an officer may not always do so by killing him. The intrusiveness of a seizure by means of deadly force is unmatched.The suspect’s fundamental interest in his own life need not be elaborated upon.The use of deadly force also frustrates the interest of the individual, and of society, in judicial determination of guilt and punishment.


The use of deadly force is a self-defeating way of apprehending a suspect and so setting the criminal justice mechanism in motion. If successful, it guarantees that that mechanism will not be set in motion. And while the meaningful threat of deadly force might be thought to lead to the arrest of more live suspects by discouraging escape attempts,  the presently available evidence does not support this thesis.


The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable.

It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. [emphasis added].

This is the fundamental disconnect that is perceptible not only in the Court’s opinion, but also in popular opinion as well. The lives of the suspects are not deemed worthy of receiving full fledged constitutional protections. It’s amazing really.

The tired arguments of law enforcement’s challenges cannot hold muster in cases such as this one, where you literally have the superior officer telling the inferior officer not to shoot. This is not the case of an officer having only one potential choice to make, not having the opportunity to consult with more experienced officers, and then using excessive force in order to preserve his life or the life of another. This is not that case.

If we do not hold officers accountable for KILLING someone, even when their superior officer told them NOT to shoot, then when will we hold them accountable? We have already seen that chokeholding someone suspected of petty theft, or shooting at someone in a wheelchair, leading to the death of both are not blameworthy offenses. So just how far will officers have to go until the public can rest assured that the actions they commit while under color of uniform will actually lead to them being held responsible in a court of law?

I’ve heard over and over again that officers have to go with their intuition in these circumstances. But there is one fact that all these cases have in common: all of the victims are minorities, and are overwhelmingly black.

Have you heard of any cases recently where the police shot and killed a white teenager or adult accused of stealing some cigarettes, or similar petty offense? For a misdemeanor probation violation? I know I haven’t. Perhaps it has occurred, and just hasn’t been reported on?

But here’s the thing, yes complying with police might be less likely to lead to an altercation, but what if you are innocent? What if you have committed no crime? What if you are pulled over for a traffic stop, and then informed by an officer that he will “light you up” for refusing to put out your cigarette, when your initial offense was allegedly failing to use a turn signal? Do you deserve to lose your life for voicing a dissent? Of what import are the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth, and Eighth Amendments if not to preserve your life and entitle you to a “fair” and “impartial” trial, in order to determine your innocence or guilt? Isn’t that the entire purpose of the Due Process clause and its purported protections?

It is a sad and pathetic state of the nation that no one other than white Americans can protest their unlawful arrest for fear of being killed. That is not justice, that is tyranny. And the blame does not lie solely with officers who act against their superiors’ orders, it lies with our “justice system” that continues to condone such behavior and protect officers who act out of turn.

This isn’t a matter of whether or not police officers are entitled to respect for putting their lives on the lines. Again, this is not a case of not having the time to reflect and choose carefully whether to use deadly force. This is a case whether the use was carefully considered, and the defendant officer was told not to pull the trigger–and he did anyway. He took the entire potential of a fair trial into his own hands, and executed the driver of that vehicle. “How’s that for proactive?” he said after the shots were fired.

The protections in Garner were meant to apply in cases just as this one. In fact, the Court stated in its opinion:

It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect.

Of course, this is not a novel issue. The Court having ruled quite recently, and again 8 – 1 on the issue of the use of deadly force in a high speed car chase. What has evolved, however, is this study by three law professors, and published in the Harvard Law Review, regarding the role of jurors in evaluating the reasonableness of the use of excessive force– which may arguably be summarized thus:

The result in the case, we argue, might be defensible, but the Court’s reasoning was not. Its insistence that there was only one “reasonable” view of the facts itself reflected a form of bias – cognitive illiberalism – that consists in the failure to recognize the connection between perceptions of societal risk and contested visions of the ideal society. When courts fail to take steps to counteract that bias, they needlessly invest the law with culturally partisan overtones that detract from the law’s legitimacy.

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Black Justice Matters

12063017_138484169836912_519062007_nIt is really no exaggeration to state that as a public interest minded lawyer, the opportunities for meaningful service are never ending. In fact, upon reading a letter authored by the new California State Bar President, I contacted his office on this matter. I’m sure the lure of the ACLU that initially brought me to law school in the first place has a little to do with that drive to help others through the law as well.

Recently, I have been listening to Hard Knock radio, on KPFA, which I highly recommend, and it tends to reinforce the message that we see played out across so many different political issues: the information we receive is highly controlled. I came across an image on Instagram recently that said something along the lines of, the two biggest myths Americans believe are 1) the government would never do anything like that to us; and 2) if they did, they would tell us about it on TV.

One of the things I love about social media, is that in addition to being able to connect with new people, and come across interesting accounts, there is often an opportunity for a share of information that goes beyond the typically “comfortable dialogue. For example, I was appalled when I heard about the following case:


And yet, I am sure many black Americans are not shocked. They have seen this injustice play out time and again. I pulled the following info from a news article on the case:
Although killing a police dog would be a third-degree felony, it would not count as murder, and besides, 5-year-old Drake was no longer on the force, having recently retired from the PBSO K9 unit due to a burned-out nose from too much drug-sniffing. But DiMola gave an ultimatum anyway: Confess to the shooting and face an animal cruelty charge or don’t confess and face charges of shooting a cop, he told the teen. “Will I go into a program or something?” Ivins asked. “Probably. You’re a juvenile,” DiMola answered. “Will it affect my school work? Can I still go to a university?” Ivins countered.DiMola said confessing wouldn’t impact Ivins future plans. “Ivins, help me to help you, because as soon as we part, I won’t be able to help you,” DiMola said. “I see a little guy in front of me. I see a 16-year-old boy who just told me he wants to go to college, that he wants to make something of himself, and I never hear ‘college’ out of kids. You’re in 11th grade. You know, it sounds like you want to have a future.” Should a Juvenile Serve 23 Years for Shooting a Retired Police Dog?
Ivins eventually mumbled that he shot Drake “two or three times” in the master bedroom but denied shooting the first bullets through the sliding glass door — and he wouldn’t say who did.Yet there would be no leniency for Ivins. Local news would plaster his name and face next to images of a bandaged-up dog. Infuriated dog lovers would seek revenge for the death of Drake. Their calls would be heard by prosecutors, who would utilize a one-two punch of Florida laws to charge Ivins as an adult, resulting in an extraordinarily long sentence for a teenager.It’s two years longer than the average time served in Florida for murder.Florida’s “direct file” law gives prosecutors — not judges — the power to decide whether teenagers are charged as juveniles rather than adults. The measure has long been decried by defense attorneys and juvenile advocates and was spotlighted by human rights activists in a report last year. Direct file, critics say, denies the youngest citizens access to a system that was designed precisely to address their age and immaturity.

Prosecutors called Ivins a “career criminal” and chose to charge him as an adult — a decision the state attorney defends to this day. Then, because of Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws, he faced a minimum of 20 years because his crime involved a gun. So instead of being sentenced to a three-year juvenile program based on rehabilitation or receiving a “youthful offender” sentence of six years — likely outcomes had he been granted leniency due to his age — Ivins got slammed with a 23-year sentence in state prison for killing a dog. That’s seven years longer than he had been alive. It’s two years longer than the average time served in Florida for murder. petition urged Drake supporters to bombard Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg with letters, emails, and phone calls. The 9,000 people who signed it asked the young, Harvard-educated prosecutor to punish Ivins to the fullest extent of the law. “ABSOLUTELY NO PLEA DEALS ON THIS CHARGE,” wrote Billie Young from New Smyrna, Florida. “There was NO REASON for the KILLER to have shot an innocent dog, especially a K-9 that is trained as an enforcer of the law.” Vicky Frederick from Canada had a less sympathetic take. “JUST KILL HIM!” she wrote.

His mother points out the “affluenza” story of white 16-year-old Texas teen Ethan Couch, who was given ten years’ probation and no prison time for killing four people in a drunk-driving case from February 2014. She also points out the story of 13-year-old Nathaniel Brazill, who in 2000 murdered his teacher and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.


In response, one of my lawyer friends turned my attention to another case, perhaps even more deprave? If that is possible.

Kalief Browder (

Browder’s story, in which he was held on Rikers Island for three years beginning at the age of 16, spent an accumulated two of those years in solitary confinement, and was ultimately released without a trial or charges,

Kalief shortly thereafter committed suicide.

In his book Just Mercy, which is ironically being offered for sale in select Starbuck’s locations, Bryan Stephenson proffers that the opposite of being poor is not wealth, but rather justice. Further, he states that by the rate at which individuals are being sentenced and incarcerated, “one in every three black male babies born in this century is expected to be incarcerated.”

But not all hope is lost.

I became more attuned to what was going on with the black lives movement following Ferguson. I had happened to just be getting more involved with Twitter, and of course we saw how it played out as an effective means of communicating the injustices as they were happening. It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention before, it’s more that I was too naive to think that the stories that were even garnering coverage could actually be true. I’m not sure if it’s more white privilege, lawyerly skepticism, or good ole American ignorance. I mean I could not believe South Carolina was still flying the Confederate flag when that became a regular news story. And that they had to have a vote! Apparently, others agreed it should be taken down sooner, rather than later.

Hearing the interview of a lawyer of this fine organization on Hard Knock radio was truly inspiring.

There is much work to be done. It’s time to put the activate into activist. Step one is acknowledging that something is very very wrong.

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California’s Unborn Children At Risk: CA Joins NY in Not Enforcing the Law

Go Mercury Free, an organization founded byEric Gladen and supported by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., today submitted a letter to all of California’s legislators asking them to reverse the mercury exemption granted by California Health Secretary Diana Dooley and “simply enforce the law.”

Dooley exempted California’s mercury law because of what she is reporting is a “shortage” of mercury-free flu vaccines used in pregnant women and infants.  However, her report is a direct contradiction to what the company that makes and distributes the mercury-free vaccine (Sanofi Pasteur) is reporting.  Just today, SP confirmed that the shortage “does not exist,”  that there has been a slight “delay in shipment,” but that there is “no shortage” and concerned Californians should contact the California Department of Public Health if they have any questions.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning Divine and Humane, First Book, Francis Bacon3.

3. And for matter of policy and government, that learning should rather hurt, than enable thereunto, is a thing very improbable: we see it is accounted an error to commit a natural body to empiric physicians, which commonly have a few pleasing receipts whereupon they are confident and adventurous, but know neither the cause of the diseases, nor the complexions of patients, nor peril of accidents, nor the true method of cures: we see it is like error to rely upon advocates or lawyers, which are only men of practice and not grounded in their books, who are many times easily surprised when matter falleth out besides their experience, to the prejudice of the causes they handle: so by like reason it cannot be but a matter of doubtful consequence if states be managed by empiric statesmen, not well mingled with men grounded in learning. [/]

But contrariwise, it is almost without instance contradictory that ever any government was disastrous that was in the hands of learned governors. For howsoever it hath been ordinary with politique men to extenuate and disable learned men by the names of pedantes; yet in the records of time it appeareth in many particulars that the government of princes in minority (notwithstanding the infinite disadvantage in that kind of state) have nevertheless excelled the government of princes of mature age, even for that reason which they seek to traduce, which is, that by that occasion the state hath been in the hands of pedantes: for so was the state of Rome for the first five years, which are so much magnified during the minority of Nero, in the hands of Seneca a pedanti: so it was again for ten years’ space or more, during the minority of Gordianus the younger, with great applause and contentation in the hands of Misitheus a pedanti: so was it before that, in the minority of Alexander Severus, in like happiness, in hands not much unlike, by reason of the rule of the women, who were aided by the teachers and preceptors.[/]

Nay, let a man look into the government of the bishops of Rome, as by name, into the government of Pius Quintus and Sextus Quintus in our times, who were both at their entrance esteemed but as pedantical friars, and he shall find that such popes do greater things, and proceed upon truer principles of estate, than those which have ascended to the papacy from an education and breeding in affairs of estate and courts of princes; for although men bred in learning are perhaps to seek in points of convenience and accommodating for the present, which the Italians call ragioni di stato, whereof the same Quintus could not hear spoken with patience, terming them inventories against religion and the moral virtues; yet on the other side to recompense that, they are perfect in those same plain grounds of religion, justice, honour, and moral virtue, which if they be well and watchfully pursued, there will be seldom use of those other, no more than of physic in a sound or well dieted body.[/]

Neither can the experience of one man’s life furnish examples and precedents for the events of one man’s life. For as it happeneth sometimes that the grandchild, or other descendant, resembleth the ancestor more than the son; so many times occurrences of present times may sort better with ancient examples than with those of the later or immediate times: and lastly, the wit of one man can no more countervail learning than one man’s means can hold way with a common purse.

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The DARK Act: AKA Congress BANS GMO Labeling

In case you missed it, in another example of how our elected officials are so corrupt it will make your head spin, The House passed a bill that will ban states from requiring food manufacturers to label GMOs in their products.

Friends of the Earth voiced deep disappointment at yesterday’s passage of H.R. 1599, a bill which preempts state and local authority to label and regulate genetically engineered food. Dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, the bill was backed primarily by Republicans and passed by a vote of 275-150.

  1. As reported by ABC, “The bill prevents states from each passing their own labeling laws”– the tired as hell argument being that these laws will increase food costs. Um no. You may or may not be aware that after a HUGE outcrying of moms regarding the alleged GMOs in Cheerios, gasp! the recipe was changed. No more GMOs in the cereal marketed to babies as a finger food. Eventhough it was clearly a bottom line decision, I applaud General Mills on that point.
  2. “While companies wouldn’t be required to disclose their products containing GMOs, they would have to get certified if they wanted a label that certifies their products do not contain GMOs — meaning you’d still be able to spot those products easily at the supermarket.” THIS IS where the increased costs will come in. You will have to go through a special process and have your product certified to label it as NON GMO. Whereas those who use GMOs would have an incredibly negligible task of simply adding a sticker to previously designed packaging, with no additional process required, those wishing to label their NON GMO foods would not only have the labeling issue, but also an entire additional process. Now that sounds like an added burden and increased food cost. Let us all pray to the universe that Congress doesn’t ban that bane of hope for real food.

Further troubling:

“The evidence is piling up that Monsanto’s glyphosate and other pesticides that go hand in hand with genetically engineered crops may be harming our health. Americans have more reason than ever to want to know whether they are eating GMOs,” Archer said.

In fact: “More than 300 farmer, consumer and environmental groups and the nation’s second largest farming group, the National Farmers Union opposed the Dark Act.”

H.R. 1599 would preempt more than 130 existing local and state statutes, regulations and ordinances in 43 states and block any future similar oversight of GMOs. GMO labeling is required by more than 64 countries around the world and higher food costs have not been reported in these countries as a result of labeling. In 2013 and 2014 more than 30 states introduced legislation to require GMO labeling, and Vermont, Connecticut and Maine recently passed GMO labeling laws.

Friends of the Earth supports the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), that would direct the FDA to require labeling of GMOs.

In writing to my Congressman, I stated how HR 1599 is counter intuitive. Not only does it favor corporations over people– who is it again Congress is supposed to serve? It also eliminates the ability for consumer to know and choose what they are eating. If individuals do not care whether they are eating GMOs or not, then they would continue to eat foods that contain GMOs, despite the labels. If, however, what is more likely the case, consumers do in fact care whether they are consuming GMOs, the label may serve as a warning, and discourage consumers from buying those products– which is likely what is occurring here. Rather than giving Americans the ability to determine what’s in their food, The House voted to keep us in the DARK, pun intended. Disappointing.

Filed under: Congress, Corporate America, Corporate Interests, GMOs, House of Representatives, Legislation, , , , , , , , , , ,

Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is Failing us, Says Stanford Law Professor

Someone sent me the following article, with a link to an article in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. The article, criticizing the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, is written by a Stanford Law Professor. See also


Stanford2.12.14_392The tort system is frequently criticized — for the unpredictability of its judgments, the stinginess (or, some say, profligacy) of its awards, and the slow pace, exorbitant cost and adversarial nature of its operation. In tort’s place, many suggest, we ought to create alternative compensation mechanisms — which is to say, programs that would provide payment to injured individuals outside the traditional court system. The idea is that, within these alternative mechanisms, compensation would be more quickly, more easily, more consistently and more simply delivered, without long delays or adversarial process.

Recently, this idea has been taking hold in the realm of medical injury. Fed up with the medical malpractice status quo, many advocate moving medical-malpractice cases outside the traditional court system into freestanding, dedicated tribunals. More than just a passing fancy, legislation to establish these “health courts” has been introduced in more than a half-dozen states, while bills to charter pilot projects have been introduced in both houses of Congress. If health courts’ many influential supporters are to be believed, these specialized courts are poised to revolutionize medical-malpractice litigation: They would offer faster compensation to far more people, while quelling adversarialism and restoring faith in the reliability of legal decision-making.

But would they? Do alternative compensation mechanisms really operate as effectively as proponents now predict? The best place to look for answers to that question is the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Created by Congress in 1986 as the problem of vaccine injury hit crisis proportions, the program is a no-fault compensation system housed within the U.S. Court of Claims and funded by a 75-cent tax on each vaccine dose administered. Since its effective date, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has adjudicated more than 14,000 petitions for vaccine injury. As such, it offers a rich empirical template to assess whether the advantages thought to accompany alternative compensation mechanisms actually accompany these mechanisms once the rubber hits the road.


I have studied nearly three decades of previously untapped material concerning the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’s operation, and the results are discouraging. Echoing current claims about health courts, back when the program was created, expectations for its operation were sky high. Congress expressed confidence that the program would resolve claims “quickly, easily and with certainty and generosity,” while contemporary commentators predicted that it would offer prompt justice to vaccine-injured children, while guaranteeing equal compensation to similarly situated individuals. So certain was Congress that adjudications would be straightforward that it established a mandatory, statutory 240-day deadline for all vaccine-injury adjudication decisions. Yet, it’s putting it charitably to say that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has failed to live up to these high hopes.

Despite predictions at enactment that it would “guarantee” equal treatment to similarly situated claimants, a lack of consistency has bedeviled the program. Even though Congress established that each petition would take, at most, 240 days to adjudicate, in reality, the average program adjudication takes more than five years. This is substantially ­longer than similar claims resolved by court judgment or trial verdict within the traditional tort system.

And although claims within the system are supposed to be amicably resolved, in reality their resolution is frequently antagonistic. In the words of a medical expert who has long participated in the program: “What should be a quiet, civil, deliberative discussion of facts and medicine too frequently degenerates into a contentious, vituperative, decibel-escalating exchange.”

The bottom line is that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was supposed to offer “simple justice” to vaccine-injured children. But it has largely failed to do so.

For two reasons, these findings should give us pause. First, problems that plague the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program should trouble us if we care about the plight of vaccine-injured children and whether the safety net Congress created to protect those who suffer from vaccine injury is working as intended. This concern is especially urgent now.

Vaccination rates in the United States are lower than they should be, with fewer of our children vaccinated for the measles than children in Uzbekistan, for example. And with the recent California measles outbreak, the effects of this comparatively low vaccine rate seem to be coming home to roost.

At the time the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was enacted, many thought a smoothly functioning, reliable compensation system would help to convince Americans to become (in the words of the day) “soldiers in the battlefield in the war against disease.” If we want to convince more American parents to vaccinate their children, improving the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program could help.

Second, these findings shed light on how well other alternative compensation mechanisms, including health courts, might work. There have been many proposals to create alternative compensation schemes in the past and many more will follow. But the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, with high hopes at its enactment yet disappointing performance over the past three decades, stands as a cautionary tale for all of them.

This story was first published on June 29 in the National Law Journal.

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Lack of Real Information

My children are fully vaccinated.

I have stayed away from re-stating any controversial conclusions, such as those stating that vaccines cause Autism, essentially because the message has just been repeated so frequently in the media, that it must be true right? I have not looked further into the “CDC Whistleblower” because it must just be a bunch of bs right? Except that the official statement made by the former CDC Scientist is not actually that outlandish. Read it for yourself. IMO, it seems to parallel everything else published by the CDC and CHOP that vaccines can, and do cause injury, sometimes very very serious injuries and death, BUT that doesn’t mean we should just not ever utilize vaccines. We don’t know whether the association with Autism is causation or correlation. However, we do know that data has been falsified in relation to vaccines. This is allegedly the reported reason that Merck has been involved in litigation for several years over their MMR vaccine. (I am not personally familiar with that case, this is just my understanding based on what has been reported)

Instead, I think, we should figure out what the fuck the actual information is regarding risks, and decide whether that is good enough. Is the risk of high fever and collapse of our kids at the reported rate of 1 in 10,000 per dose safe enough when we are giving our kids 5 doses before they turn 2? For an affliction that is almost non-existent? (tetanus) THEN, when we have ALL the relevant information, we can reach INFORMED decision. You know like the term INFORMED CONSENT implies.

I prefer to get information directly from doctors. I respect their medical training. I would like to hear from them what the various risks are. However, my personal experience has been that doctors willing to honestly discuss the risks associated with vaccines are in short supply. So who do I have to track down to hear the unbiased information? I just want to know. This is what the vaccine is made out of, this is what clinical trials revealed, these are the risks of vaccinating, these are the risks if you actually get the disease. All the information.

And I don’t think that is an unreasonable request. And I DO think I am entitled to that information as a concerned parent, and as an American.


August 27, 2014 Press Release, “Statement of William W. Thompson, Ph.D., Regarding the 2004 Article Examining the Possibility of a Relationship Between MMR Vaccine and Autism”


My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.

I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub­ group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his belief that CDC decision-making and analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.

I am grateful for the many supportive e-mails that I have received over the last several days.
I will not be answering further questions at this time. I am providing information to Congressman William Posey, and of course will continue to cooperate with Congress. I have also offered to assist with reanalysis of the study data or development of further studies. For the time being, however, I am focused on my job and my family.

Reasonable scientists can and do differ in their interpretation of information. I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.

My colleagues and supervisors at the CDC have been entirely professional since this matter became public. In fact, I received a performance-based award after this story came out. I have experienced no pressure or retaliation and certainly was not escorted from the building, as some have stated.

Dr. Thompson is represented by Frederick M. Morgan,Jr., Morgan Verkamp, LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio,

link to original:

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The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

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