Who's Joe Lab?

On the way home from the office today I was stuck in traffic behind a car with a bunch of www.FreeJoeLab.com bumper stickers and the unusual vanity license plate of “PRISMS”. Being curious about this I checked out the web site once I got home. It turns out the site is about Joe Labriola a highly decorated Marine who served two tours in Vietnam. He is currently serving a life sentence in Massachusetts and has published a book of his poetry entitled “Prisms of War”.

After reading everything on that web site tonight, I can only say that it certainly appears there may have been an injustice done to Joe Labriola . However, the site does not contain much in the way of evidence to back up the claims of injustice. If the 1973 trial transcript was posted in its entirety it would help but there is only one page available there. I searched around a bit with Google but there is very little at other spots on the net about Joe. There is one poem on a guys My Space page, and mentions in newsletters from two political groups, MIM Notes 1997 and, MASSRAIL 1999.

If any law students happen to read this post please check out his site, I think Joe’s case would make a good project for you. I can strongly recommend that everyone read the articles on www.FreeJoeLab.com many are very sad or troubling making them a tough read but they are all informative and thought provoking so I feel it is well worth the effort.

Wise words from a Rabbi

From an article in the Hampstead and Highgate Express:

In the question and answer session that followed, Rabbi Sacks was asked how he would convince someone like scientist and atheist, Richard Dawkins of the benefits of religious identity.

Mr Sacks responded: “We need atheists to remind us things are not God’s will, God does not want hunger, injustice or violence. I am quite happy Richard Dawkins stops us having too much faith. There’s a lot more religion in the world than there was 25 years ago and there’s a lot more violence in the world than there was 25 years ago.”

U.S. Supreme Court issues patent system ruling

This is not a giant leap forward but it’s at least progress. From an article on CNET that I was pointed to by Harold on the PICList. On Monday the court ruled unanimously to change the rules set by the patent appeals court for determining patent validity. IBM’s assistant general counsel for intellectual property law, David Kappos said:

“What we have had is an era of extreme uncertainty caused by the issuance of many trivial and marginal patents under the old test,” he said in a telephone interview. “What we’re going to see now is actually more certainty because those trivial and marginal patents aren’t going to get issued.”

Anything that will help stop bogus patents is a good thing. I’m certain this ruling won’t be even close to a complete cure for the problems of the U.S. patent system but it’s a start. Ed Black, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association commented:

“This may make the holders of some lousy patents a little less interested in going the litigation route because it may well be they realize that their chances of winning are lower”

But qualified this with:

“I have to mitigate that comment unfortunately a little bit by saying that an awful lot of litigation goes on here that isn’t expected to go to trial; it’s for extortion purposes.”

A great day for rational people and a bad day for the frauds

This is one of the most encouraging stories I’ve read in a while. Philadelphia PA is enforcing a law that was passed decades ago prohibiting fortune telling for profit. Far too many gullible people lose money they can’t really afford to these con-people. I think shutting them down is the right thing to do.

The AP story is here and a larger article from The Philadelphia Inquirer is here.

Now if only we can get this local law to become a federal law we can hit the frauds where they hurt, their wallets.