The Law of Squirrels and Vampires

Of all the entities you’d expect to gelittle justicet airtime in a courtroom, squirrels and vampires are probably low on your list.  And yet.

Squirrels frequently show up in court (contextually, if not literally) in cases involving utility companies.  A power company was held not negligent in failing to foresee injuries sustained by a man who chased a squirrel up a utility pole (Keller v. Ohio Public Service Co. , 73 Ohio App. 530, 57 N.E.2d 176 (Ohio App. 1943), and another power company was found not negligent for injuries alleged by a cordless phone user when a squirrel got into a transformer and caused a power outage (Pardue v. AT&T Telephone Co., 799 So.2d 710 (La. App. 2001).

    From the Undead angle, not only is there a Vampire Nation (which appears to contain no actual vampires), but it’s been taken to court for a variety of white-collar crimes (U.S. v. Vampire Nation, 451 F.3d 189 (3rd Cir. 2006)). A Michigan carjacker explained his car theft spree as an attempt to “escape from flesh-eating bats and vampires” (People v. Morgan, No. 284986, 2009 WL 1397132, (Mich. App., May 19, 2009)).  A Massachusetts defendant testified to believing that he had been a vampire for years (Com. v. Riva, 469 N.E.2d 1307 (Mass. App. Div. 1984)). An Arizona defendant testified to stealing an ambulance and running it into a building in order to break a vampire curse (State v. Ward, 2015 WL 1516506, (Ariz. App., April 2, 2015)).  And that’s not nearly all, folks.  Numerous defendants have attempted to justify their misdeeds by invoking the Undead.  For an entertaining research romp, go to your favorite research service and run this search query:  vampire! /s crime




      A Short History of Memorial Day

      Throughout the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.  While many see the holiday as convenient day off work or the first day of summer, its real purpose is to serve as a day or remembrance for those who have died in combat.

      A number of cities and towns claim to have coined the term “memorial day.”  No one has been able to pin down or substantiate most of these claims.  However, we do know that memorial day as we know it started soon after the civil war.  In May of 1968 General John Logan declared the upcoming May 30th would be a “decoration day.”  In his General Order No. 11, he proclaimed 

      The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

      We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

      By 1890 all northern states officially recognized Memorial Day.  However, it wasn’t until after World War I that the southern states, who previously observed a similar holiday on a different date, began to celebrate Memorial Day as well.  At this point the holiday expanded to include all those who died in any combat as well as the Civil War. May 10 is still celebrated here in South Carolina as a separate Confederate Memorial Day.


      Summer in the (Soda) City


      A college campus during summer break is a thing to see.  Droves of students head home (or wherever students go when they are not studying) leaving the campus feeling a whole lot roomier.  Even the water in the Thomas Cooper reflecting pool has mysteriously taken off.
      IMG_20150512_082038400_HDRBUT, we don’t need to have college kids to have fun!  Plenty of activities exist to fill your entire summer, and thankfully, the Free Times has assembled most of them in its Summer Guide 2015.  Some of the highlights are

      So, don’t let the oppressive heat, flocks of mosquitos, and general ghosttownliness of the USC campus get you down!  Pick up your copy of the free times, or visit their website and join your summer Columbian compatriots for an exciting, albeit sweaty, good time.

      This Week In Legal News

      On Tuesday, the FDA released a set of proposed guidelines that would lift the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay donorsnews icon for blog.

      On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban most abortion procedures after 20 weeks.

      Also on Wednesday, the Missouri General Assembly passed a “right to work” bill that would prevent workers from being required to join a union or pay union dues.

      A Dutch appeals court on Wednesday cleared a man convicted of assisting in the suicide of his terminally-ill mother.


      South Carolina – Where Barbeque is Law

      barbecueOr at least it used to be. Here in Columbia, South Carolina, we take our barbeque very seriously.  Some of the state’s best barbeque resides here in the midlands.  The locals stand by their mustard based sauce, undeterred by the preferences of other southerners, including one outspoken Georgian expatriate .   In 1985, the South Carolina Assembly even passed a “Truth in Barbeque” law requiring some very distinct signage. The law hoped to address the fraudulent trend of selling oven-cooked pork as real barbeque, which is traditionally cooked over wood.   In particular, the law required the following:

      SECTION 1. The Department of Agriculture shall design and print distinctive decals which may be displayed wherever barbeque is sold. Each decal must state one of the following:

      (1) “Barbeque – Whole hog – Cooked with wood”.

      (2) “Barbeque – Whole hog – Cooked from a heat source other than wood”.

      (3) “Barbeque – Part of, but not whole hog – Cooked from any source of heat”.

      (4) “Barbeque – Part of, but not whole hog – Cooked with wood”.

      Any person who uses a decal which falsely states the type barbeque sold by him is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days.

      Not only does South Carolina have its own distinct kind of barbeque, it once took the process so seriously that it was willing, nay excited, to jail and fine those daring enough cook it improperly or dishonestly.  Sadly, the law was unceremoniously repealed in 1992, leaving us once again exposed to oven-cooked pork.  While the law no longer exists, the passion for South Carolina barbeque is as strong as ever and thriving in its mustard-based glory throughout the area.



      Have You Ever Wondered What This Thing Is?


      Enormous paperweight, book binding machine, or perhaps a torture device for late library book offenders?  Actually, it’s an antique copy machine. If you think current copiers can be a pain, keep this tedious process in mind the next time you have a multitude of pages to reproduce!

      For more information on the letter press copier and other 19th century law office devices, check out The Law Library’s Colcock-Hutson Collection here.

      Getting to Know Your Law Library: Alyson Drake

      pumpkinsProfessor Alyson Drake is in her third year of teaching the Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing course and working at the Coleman Karesh Law Library.  In addition to teaching LRAW, she helped develop and teach the Legal Research for Practice Workshop, and will be teaching a new course this Maymester on Foreign & International Legal Research.  You can also spot her at the Ref Desk a few mornings a week.  She answered a few questions to get to know her a little better.

      1.  We’re librarians, so the obvious first question: What’s your favorite book?  I tend to prefer the classics (and by that I mean Ancient Greek epic poetry and philosophy–nerd alert!), but my favorite modern novel is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.  I think it’s a really beautiful thought piece on humanity and the bonds we make across background, age, and ethnicity.

      2.  What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  I’d want to be a photographer.  While I like shooting black and white landscapes the most, I think it’d be a blast shooting weddings and engagements and baby pictures–you’re there for all of life’s happiest moments.

      3.  What profession would you not like to do?  Naval officer whose job involves living on a submarine for months at a time…I’d miss the fresh air too much.  I don’t know what the Beatles were thinking wanting to live in a yellow submarine.

      4.  What’s your form of exercise/outdoor activity?  Definitely swimming–it’s even more relaxing than yoga to me.

      5.  If you could visit any place in the world for a two-week vacation for free, where would you go?  Ireland.  I’ve wanted to go for a long time.  The rest of my family went during my first year of law school, but it was the first week of classes and I didn’t feel I could miss them.  What would y’all have done?  :p



      6.  When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?  Usually I spend time playing with my pup, Maxie.  She’s a snuggly little bug who loves to play fetch, so I’d probably spend the whole time throwing her tennis ball, penguin, or rope.maxie

      7.  When was the last time you had an amazing meal and where did you have it?  In Greenville.  We were going to see Wicked at the Peace Center, and we went out to a French bistro-type place beforehand: Passerelle Bistro.  The parsley-lemon stuffed mountain trout was seriously yummy, and so was the pork roulade my significant other got–especially the side of sweet potato–Roquefort cheese gratin that came with it.  Mmmmmmm, delicious!

      Disclosure: When Prof. Drake answered this question in February, this was the last amazing meal she’d had.  But two weeks ago, her significant other made the most delicious leg of lamb on the grill and it surpassed even the cheese gratin!

      Prof. Drake totally has this much swagger.

      Prof. Drake totally has this much swagger.

      8.  If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?  I think I’d pick Merry from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  He was able better able to handle serious matters than Pip, but still largely seemed to enjoy life.  Plus, he got to travel all over Middle Earth and meet Treebeard.  Who doesn’t want to meet an Ent? Answer: no one.

      9.  What’s your best (legal) research tip?  Read the resources you find as you find them–it’s the only way to make sure you’re on the right track.  Gathering up a pile of cases can be tempting, but reading the first one you find that’s on point can lead you to the most important authorities on that legal issue! (And tip 2: remember that secondary sources are your friends!)

      Move Over Moped – South Carolina Moped and Scooter Law

      10609045206_9abcdf5188_zOne of the first things I noticed when I moved to Columbia was the overabundance of scooter traffic.  There are scooters parked in all the campus motorcycle spots.  There are scooters locked to bike locks.  There is even a scooter store a few blocks from my house.  Scooters seem to be everywhere.  I get it, they’re inexpensive and easy to drive.  The hills in Columbia make biking difficult and the USC campus is rather spread out.  Still,  the overall glut of scooters here seems odd.

      As a good and devoted law librarian, I did a little research.  The mass of scooters and mopeds is due to some interesting loopholes in South Carolina law.

      First, all operators much possess a valid driver’s license OR a moped license.  As we all know, you have to be 16 to obtain a regular driver’s license.  However, the same is not true of moped licenses. Moped licenses are granted without regard to eligibility, possession, or suspension of driver’s licenses.  Practically speaking, this means a few things; 1.  If your regular driver’s license is suspended, you can still obtain a moped license. 2. If you are under 16 and you want to drive, you can still get a moped license (the law currently says 14 and older).  S.C. Code Ann. § 56-1-1720 (2006).

      Second, the State of South Carolina does not consider mopeds “motor vehicles.”  This means the laws regulating motor vehicles do not apply to mopeds.  This includes laws regulating registration, license plates, and even DUI.  While there is a bill in the Senate attempting to close this loophole, some judges have recently upheld that the South Carolina law prohibiting driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not apply to mopeds.  S.C. Code Ann. § 56-3-10 (2006).

      Note: South Carolina law refers to mopeds only, but the law includes scooters as well as defined by S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-165 (2006).

      This Week In Legal News

      news icon for blogOn Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that extending a completed traffic stop to conduct a dog sniff constitutes an unreasonable seizure and is, therefore, unconstitutional.

      On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on time limits for suing the federal government under the Federal Torts Claims Act.

      Also on Wednesday, a South Carolina lawmaker introduced a bill that would add the firing squad as an option for the state’s executions.

      On Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Loretta Lynch as the U.S. Attorney General.

      A Texas bankruptcy court has classified the social media accounts of a business as business assets, and has jailed a former business owner for contempt after he refused to turn over Facebook and Twitter passwords to the new owner.

      An Indiana lawyer has been disbarred following an email and voice mail harassment campaign carried out against his daughter’s former college roommate.