I mentioned a while back indications of political favoritism in admissions to the University of Texas law school. It sounds like those indications are getting stronger.
BOOK PUBLISHING IS CHANGING
I don’t think I have addressed this topic here before, but it’s a topic that I have some awareness of thanks to my lovely and talented wife, a self-published author. This item at forbes.com gives a glimpse of what is happening in the world of book publishing, which is changing rapidly, to the chagrin of the traditional publishers. I hope you will find it interesting, even if you, like me, have yet to fully embrace the e-book revolution.
“In May 2004, Plaintiff hired Ra Shonda Kay Marshall (“Marshall”) to 'assist [him] in budgeting [his] income and expenses and to provide bill payment services.' Marshall was previously employed at Omni Elite, a financial management firm in Ohio, where she had provided bill payment and other financial services to Plaintiff. However, she left the firm to work exclusively for Plaintiff. Upon hiring Marshall, Plaintiff signed a Power of Attorney giving her control over his funds and authority to file and pay taxes on his behalf.
Additionally, Plaintiff retained a tax accountant, David Krebs (“Krebs”) of CPA Advisory Group, Inc., 'to provide tax advice, to ensure tax returns were properly filed, and to confirm that [Plaintiff's] tax bills were paid on time.'”
Plaintiff is a recently retired major league baseball player who had a very successful career. Can you guess what happened next? I knew it as soon as I read the last sentence of the first quoted paragraph above:
“In late 2008, Plaintiff decided to mange his money himself and terminated Marshall. At this time, Plaintiff hired new tax advisors and also terminated Krebs. After terminating Marshall and Krebs, Plaintiff reviewed his bank statements for 2008 and realized that Marshall had embezzled millions of dollars from him and used his funds to pay her personal expenses.”
The above quotes are from an article posted July 15 at Forbes.com that quoted a federal court decision. No, the court decision wasn’t on the ballplayer’s claim for damages against the financial manager. It was on the ballplayer’s claim that he didn’t owe the government penalties for willful neglect. Seems that his adviser was too busy stealing his money to be bothered to file tax returns or pay income tax for him.
Now, this is different from the Wesley Snipes story. The ballplayer didn’t think that he didn’t have to file tax returns or pay income tax. He just thought it was ok to delegate that responsibility to someone else, then not bother to check to see if the other person was doing it. The court disagreed with the ballplayer’s argument that delegating the responsibility meant that he wasn’t responsible:
“….while Plaintiff signed a Power of Attorney giving authority to an agent and delegated his responsibility for tax liabilities to agents, he still maintained the ultimate responsibility for his tax liabilities, oversight of his agents, and the ultimate control over his taxpaying activities. Thus, the failure to file and pay taxes as a result of the embezzlement by Plaintiff’s agent which resulted in penalty assessments against him was not beyond Plaintiff’s control….”
You had to know the ballplayer was in trouble as soon as you knew that he gave his newly independent financial manager control of his money, including filing his tax returns and paying his taxes. He ended up owing the government over $1 million in penalties for late filing of his returns and late payment of the taxes, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The financial adviser stole from him to the tune of about $2.7 million.
The ballplayer sued the thief and got a judgment against her, of course, but I doubt he will ever collect. No word on whether the thief was prosecuted.
I also doubt that the ballplayer will ever again delegate the handling of his money to someone else and not bother to make sure that his tax returns were filed and the tax was paid.
I GUESS THE SUPREME COURT wasn't persuaded by the 9th circuit's reasoning in this case
It didn’t take long for the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that a death row convict had a First Amendment right to sue the government to reveal the details of how he will be executed.
Here’s how the case was blurbed in the July 22 update that I received from the State Bar of Arizona:
"July 21, 2014 - 14-16310 - Joseph R. Wood, III v. Charles L. Ryan, Director of Arizona DOC
The district court's denial of petitioner's motion for a preliminary injunction to delay his execution until he receives information regarding the method of his execution that he requested from the Arizona Department of Corrections, is reversed, where: 1) petitioner has presented serious questions going to the merits of his First Amendment right of access claim; 2) petitioner has established irreparable injury; 3) the balance of hardships tips sharply in his favor; and 4) the injunction is in the public interest."
Not coincidentally, the 9th Circuit’s ruling delayed the execution, to which the convict was sentenced in 1991 for murders he committed in 1989.
And here’s how the U. S. Supreme Court responded in its order of July 22 (the day after the 9th Circuit issued its ruling):
"The application to vacate the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granting a conditional preliminary injunction, presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court, is granted. The district judge did not abuse his discretion in denying Wood’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversing the district court and granting a conditional preliminary injunction is vacated."
As Orin Kerr said at the Volokh Conspiracy blog: “That was fast.”
Driverless cars will be here sooner than you think. There’s a conference about them going on this week in San Francisco. You can find out what is going on at the web site for the Automated Vehicles Symposium.
Via the Antiplanner blog.
From an actual letter to the United Nations (PDF) from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“the “DPRK”), about a film called “The Interview”:
"Absolutely intolerable is the distribution of such a film in the U.S., as it is the most undisguised terrorism and an act of war to deprive the service personnel and people of DPRK of their mental mainstay and bring down its social system.
The dignified and worthwhile life that the Korean people enjoy at present and the great changes taking place in the country, as well as everything valuable that will belong to the rosy future when the dreams and ideals of the people will come true, would be unthinkable apart from the supreme leadership of DPRK.
That is why they regard the supreme leadership as dearer than their own lives."
According to imdb, the film is about a plot to assassinate the “supreme leader” of the DPRK (North Korea).
A cover letter for the one quoted above says this:
"To allow the production and distribution of such a film on the assassination of an incumbent Head of a sovereign State should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war.
The United States authorities should take immediate and appropriate actions to ban the production and distribution of the aforementioned film; otherwise, it will be fully responsible for encouraging and sponsoring terrorism."
Unfortunately, that last paragraph might actually have significant support in some quarters. Fortunately, we have the First Amendment.
Via the Volokh Conspiracy blog.
THE ANSWER TO THE APPARENT INCONSISTENCY OF THE IRS SPENDING AND BUDGET FIGURES?
I think I found the answer to the apparent inconsistency I mentioned recently between the IRS budget and IRS spending. This chart makes it appear that the spending figures for the IRS include amounts disbursed by the federal government under “refundable” tax credits (meaning tax programs where you can get money back from the government in excess of the tax that you owe) such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (“EITC”).
If the chart is correct, spending on IRS administration has increased, but only gradually, while the amounts disbursed under refundable tax credits have exploded.
Anyway, it doesn't change my opinion that with a budget of over $7 billion for new information technology for the period 2012 through 2014, it's pretty hard to believe that the IRS' professed inability to retain and recover its employees' emails is due to under-funding.
I wish I had seen this post last week because it would have been a fitting subject for the 4th of July, but better late than never. It’s about the tradition of putting yellow fringe on the U. S. flag.
The upshot of it is, as the title of the post suggests, that the fringe has no significance. The Attorney General of the United States said so in 1925. I’m pretty sure this was covered in my Boy Scout flag training.
The line item for “Total IT Investments” in the IRS budget for the current year is more than $2.4 billion. $2,408,245,000, to be exact.
Don’t just take the Cato Institute’s word for it. You can see it for yourself here (pdf; p.149).
That’s total information technology investments, which I take to mean new information technology. In other words, the IRS is buying more than $2.4 billion worth of new information technology systems and equipment this year.
How does that compare with the last two years? Again, see for yourself: total information technology investments were $2,478,063,000 in 2012, and $2,284,828,000 in 2013. That adds up to over $7 billion the IRS will have spent on new information technology in the three year period from 2012 through 2014.
Sorry, but with budget figures like those, I just find it a little hard to believe that the problems at the IRS are a result of it being under-funded.
Ok, so this post has a chart that indicates that the budget for the IRS has actually gone down steadily since 2010. That seems inconsistent with the chart that I blogged yesterday, which indicates that IRS funding this year is above where it was in 2010, despite a drop in the interim.
I do note, for what it’s worth, that the first chart says it reflects spending, while the second one says it shows discretionary funding, so the two charts could be referring to two different measurements.
Even if the second chart is right, however, it starts with 2010, and therefore doesn’t contradict my point that the drop in 2011-2012 didn’t even reduce the IRS’ spending/budget below the level that existed just two years earlier, in 2009.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.