31 July 2014

Two-year law school graduation countdown: what then?

Two years ago, I started my law school journey (there have been a few twists along the way). Just this week, thousands of law school graduates endured the dreaded bar exam. Assuming all goes to plan, two years from now I'll be among those graduates and among those who endure the dreaded bar exam. Then what?

From the day I began law school, people have asked me: What are you going to do after you graduate? Or, what kind of law do you want to practice? Good questions. My first answer has always been that I have a reasonably reliable and well-paying job right now, so I am in no rush to quit. Short of a big city-style big law job working 70-80+ hours a week (a job I would not likely take at this point in my life anyways), there are precious few (if any) entry level jobs for law school graduates that would compensate me as well as my current job. So now, as then, I'm not planning on quitting my job anytime soon or accepting blind offers from Bendini, Lambert and Locke.

On the other hand, I'm not going to law school "just because." Although I am very happily accumulating zero student loan debt to the very generous Post-9/11 GI Bill, law school has (and continues) to consume an enormous chunk of my time. I don't plan to work in my current job forever. At some point, I'd like to actually be, you know, a lawyer.

On top of all of this, the job market for lawyers has been pretty shitty the last few years. No one is banging down my door offering me the moon (although if you want to consider me for a job, my resume is available and a number of writing samples are linked here!). I will not be a 20-something law school grad. I'll be 40 years old with a family. That being said, I have done pretty well academically, I made law review. Supposedly I'm a pretty decent writer. I write Plain English posts that have turned out to be reasonably popular. I think I will have some options available to me around the time I graduate.

Being a part-time student complicates things. Many full-time students will have obtained a summer internship between their second and third years of law school that usually lead to a full-time job offer after graduation. These internships are sought after precisely because they do often lead to job offers. I can't exactly take off the summer to do that. It is true that I have a considerable amount of work experience (almost 9 years in the Navy and six years since then) that your average law school graduate doesn't have. But that work experience only goes so far. As far as I'm concerned, my previous experience (while personally valuable to me) is unlikely to mean much to a law firm hiring partner. I'd be better off considering myself in the same boat as everyone else. I'd be happy to be wrong about this.

So, what do I want to do?

I've told people this before, but long-term I'd really like to be a judge. If I had my druthers (which I don't), I'd really like to be a federal appellate judge. There are probably 99 (or more) reasons why that might never happen. But there is one reason why it might: because it is what I want to do. That's not enough to make it happen, but it is enough to make it a goal. So off in the distance, that has been my long-term goal for a while now.

But what about now? Or two years from now? A judicial clerkship, maybe. I'm not sure the geography would work. I'm not sure I could take the salary hit for a year. But maybe, just maybe, it would be the path to take. In case you were wondering, some judges begin accepting applications for federal clerkship jobs for the 2016-17 year as early as tomorrow. Tomorrow, as in two years in advance. Yikes.

I have taken a serious interest in appellate work. I'm taking another appellate writing class. And this next academic year, I will be working in the law school's Appellate Advocacy Clinic representing convicted defendants on appeal in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals as a Rule 16 student attorney. This means that I can practice law under the supervision of another lawyer. This is really, really exciting for me. If all goes as planned, I would be very interested in pursuing full-time appellate work after graduation.

Teaching is something that's always been in the back of my mind, but I was particularly happy when one of my professors encouraged me to pursue it as an option. I've been cautioned by several people about the job market for law professors. Yes, I know, it doesn't look good. There are precious few jobs. Many of them would require me to uproot. All of that might seem somewhat discouraging, but I'm not going to let it get me down. As in all things, I am neither an optimist or a pessimist but a realist. That being said, why not me?

I try not to close any doors or burn any bridges. Who knows what might happen a year or two from now. Who knows what may come of the people I might meet or the judges I will argue in front of. I may have specific end goals in mine, but that won't stop me from casting a wide net.

For the next two years I will keep my head down, working hard to be a better legal writer. As a student attorney, I will strive to give my clients the best representation that I am capable of giving. I will seek out the guidance of professors, lawyers, judges, friends and family. I will rely on my considerable support structure and people like you to help me along the way (yes, if you've read this far, I think I deserve to put some trust in your opinion). I will practice hundreds of bar exam review questions and labor through painful essays about legal hypotheticals.

What then? Who knows. But I'm still looking forward to it.

Law in Plain English: Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogPerez v. Mortgage Bankers Association; consolidated with Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Association

Argument: TBD (Aud.)

Background: In 2006, the Department of Labor issued an opinion letter interpreting the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to exempt mortgage loan officers from FLSA's overtime requirements under the "administrative exemption." In 2010, the Department (without notice or comment) withdrew the 2006 opinion letter and issued a new interpretation that mortgage loan officers did not qualify for the administration exemption. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) challenged the 2010 interpretation as violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because the Department significantly altered the rule without first undergoing notice­-and-comment rulemaking. The district court rejected the argument, finding that MBA had not demonstrated substantial and justifiable reliance on a well­-established agency interpretation. The D.C. Circuit reversed, finding that reliance is but one factor courts must consider in assessing whether an agencinterpretation qualifies as definitive.

Issue: The question before the Court is whether a federal agency must engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act before it can significantly alter an interpretive rule that articulates an interpretation of an agency regulation.

Holding: TBD

Law in Plain English: B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc.

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogB&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc.

Argument: TBD (Aud.)

Background: In 2007, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) denied Hargis' application for registration of its "Sealtite" mark for a line of self-drilling and self-taping screws that are commonly used in the construction of metal buildings. The TTAB determined that there was a likelihood of confusion with B&B Hardware's "Sealtight" mark for fasteners that is used predominantly in the aerospace industry. B&B later brought trademark infringement and unfair competition claims against Hargis, and argued that the TTAB's decision should be given preclusive effect on the question of likelihood of confusion. Alternatively, B&B attempted to admit the TTAB decision into evidence. Hargis filed counterclaims for false advertising and false designation of origin. The jury rejected B&B's trademark infringement and unfair competition claims. Hargis prevailed on its counterclaims. The district court also awarded Hargis attorney fees, holding that B&B's conduct of willfully and deliberately manufacturing evidence to support its trademark infringement claim made the case an exceptional one appropriate under the Lanham Act. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, finding that the TTAB, in denying registration, did not decide the same likelihood-of-confusion issues presented to the district court. Additionally, the panel ruled that admitting the TTAB' s decision into evidence would be confusing and misleading to the jury because the TTAB applied its factors and analyzed the evidence in a manner significantly different than the jury would be required to do in an infringement action.

Issue: The questions before the Court are (1) whether the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s finding of a likelihood of confusion precludes respondent from relitigating that issue in infringement litigation, in which likelihood of confusion is an element; and (2) whether, if issue preclusion does not apply, the district court was obliged to defer to the Board’s finding of a likelihood of confusion absent strong evidence to rebut it.

Holding: TBD

30 July 2014

Law in Plain English: Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation, Inc.

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogAlabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation, Inc.

Argument: TBD (Aud.)

Background: CSX pays Alabama's 4% sales tax whenever it purchases diesel fuel in the state. CSX's main competitors in the state-interstate motor and water carriers do not. Motor carriers pay an excise tax of 19c per gallon. Water carriers pay no tax at all on diesel fuel purchases. CSX filed suit, alleging that by paying the 4% sales tax, the state discriminated against CSX in violation of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulation Reform Act of 1976 (4-R Act). The Act provides that a state may not "[i]mpose another tax that discriminates against a rail carrier providing transportation subject to the jurisdiction of the Board under this part." The district court dismissed the complaint, reasoning that because the state's motor carriers paid a roughly equivalent amount in taxes pursuant to the state's fuel excise tax, the motor carriers' exemption from the sales tax was not discriminatory. The district court also found that CSX had offered no evidence regarding the purported discriminatory effect of the tax as it related to water carriers. The Eleventh Circuit reversed, finding that because rail carriers paid the state's sales tax and motor and water carriers did not, the
tax was discriminatory-regardless of whether other taxes leveled the playing field.

Issue: The questions before the Court are (1) whether a state “discriminates against a rail carrier” in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 11501(b)(4) when the state generally requires commercial and industrial businesses, including rail carriers, to pay a sales-and-use tax but grants exemptions from the tax to the railroads’ competitors; and (2) whether, in resolving a claim of unlawful tax discrimination under 49 U.S.C. § 11501(b)(4), a court should consider other aspects of the state's tax scheme rather than focusing solely on the challenged tax provision.

Holding: TBD

Law in Plain English: Whitfield v. United States

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogWhitfield v. United States

Argument: TBD (Aud.)

Background: Larry Whitfield and an accomplice tried (unsuccessfully) to rob a bank, and then fled. Whitfield ended up in the home of an elderly woman. After directing the woman to a room within her home, Whitfield tried to escape and was captured. The woman died of a heart attack. Whitfield was charged and convicted of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e), the federal forced accompaniment statute. The Fourth Circuit affirmed.

Issue: The question before the Court is whether 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e), which provides a minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for a bank robber who forces another person “to accompany him” during the robbery or while in flight, requires proof of more than a de minimis movement of the victim.

Holding: TBD

29 July 2014

Law in Plain English: Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogReed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona

Argument: TBD (Aud.)

Click image to visit ADF website
Background: Good News Community Church placed several signs around the area of its church announcing the time and location of its services. The Town of Gilbert, Arizona notified the Church that its signs were violating Gilbert's sign ordinance because the signs were displayed outside the statutorily-limited time period. The ordinance required that signs could not be erected without a permit, but that three categories of signs were exempted from the permit requirement: 1) temporary directional signs relating to qualifying events (no greater than six feet in height and six square feet in area; only to be displayed for 12 hours before and one hour after an event; not placed in the public right-of-way); 2) political signs (up to 32 square feet in size; erected at any time, but taken down within ten days after an election; may be placed in the public right­-of-way); and 3) ideological signs (not limited in time or number; may be placed in the public right-of-way). The district court found that the ordinance was not a content-based regulation; was a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction; and (on remand) did not favor some noncommercial speech over other commercial speech. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.

Issue: The question before the Court is whether the Town of Gilbert's mere assertion that its sign code lacks a discriminatory motive renders its facially content-based sign code content-neutral and justifies the code's differential treatment of petitioners' religious signs.

Holding: TBD

28 July 2014

Palentine's Day: a celebration of guy friendships (because good buddies deserve gifts too)

This is a real email:
Hello Mike,  
My name is Alexandra Kubal and I'm the community manager at Man Crates. We are a new company that ships awesome gifts for men in custom wooden crates that you open with a crowbar (forget tube socks and tie clips — we sell the manliest gifts around!). At Man Crates, it is our mission to end the difficulties that have long been associated with finding great gifts for men!  
I'm contacting you because we are looking for bloggers to help us introduce, and celebrate, a new holiday. This holiday is "Palentine's Day" — a celebration of guy friendships (because good buddies deserve gifts too). We've intentionally designated Palentine's Day to be 6 months after Valentine's Day, squarely the middle of baseball season, BBQ grilling season, golf season, fishing season, football pre-season, and all the things guys love!  
At Man Crates we don't think it's fair that Hallmark gets to launch commercial holidays like with Valentine's Day… why should they have all the fun? So we decided to do one better and create a gifting holiday just for men! We are looking for bloggers like yourself to spread the word by creating a post on your blog about how you plan to give back to your best pal, and celebrate your friendship. Whether it's buying him a beer, spending the day at the ballpark, or enjoying a good steak, we want to hear it!  
Let me know if you are interested and I will send along a few more details!  

25 July 2014

I fought the law...and won (sort of)

This TechDirt t-shirt seems appropriate.
As you may remember, last month I received an email notification from Blogger (Google) that they had received a DMCA takedown notice for one of my blog posts. Because the blog post was about Gregory Evans, I speculated that he might have been involved in the takedown. Although to be clear, it was Google who received the actual takedown notice, and all I got was a notification about the notice, so at the time I was never actually aware of 1) who sent it; and 2) what content of the blog post was supposed to have been infringing.

You can read the original blog post here (I have since republished it). The entire blog post was authored by me with the exception of two small screenshots from the MIS Training Institute's homepage which reflected substantive changes to their speaker lineup and the comparison screenshots reflected that change. The rest of the blog post was the copy of an email that I wrote to the MIS Training Institute and links to other posts.

Blogger told me that they would post the takedown notice on Chilling Effects. That never happened. Nonetheless, without any evidence of how my blog post might have been infringing, I filled a counter-notice essentially arguing fair use of whatever content I had used.

Yesterday, I received notice that Google had completed processing my counter notification and had reinstated the content in question. What content was that? Of course, they didn't tell me. My best guess is this: in the original blog post, I included the text of an email that I wrote to the MIS Training Institute. In that email, I linked to a CBS Atlanta expose of Evans that was posted on YouTube. That video had subsequently been taken down (you can see if you follow the link here). Linking to infringing content could be considered a DMCA violation. On the other hand, if the infringing content has already been taken down, then I'm not really linking to infringing content anymore, because the content doesn't exist. Again, I have no evidence that this is why my blog post has been restored, but it's my only reasonable guess at this point.

The DMCA process is broken. It is largely automated which means that you can't really expect to ever speak to a human being to help sort out your problem. If your blog is hosted (as mine is), the hoster receives the takedown notice, and you may never see it (as I never did). You might guess that Google receives hundreds or thousands of takedown notices every day. Mine wasn't worth anyone's individual attention. Chilling Effects may be a good idea in theory, but in practice the site is difficult to use. My attempts to contact the site's administrators to help in finding my notice (if perhaps it was posted and I couldn't find it) went unanswered.

In the end, my content is back. Again, I'm not quite sure what content was at question, which is sort of a big deal when you think about it. How can you fight back if you don't even know what you're fighting for (or against)? I may have been lucky. But others might give up more easily.

The DMCA process is broken. If we want content creators to thrive, it's a problem we're going to have to confront.

23 July 2014

A few thoughts on blood doping and performance enhancing drugs

One of my earliest memories growing up was watching Tug McGraw strike out Willie Wilson to win the World Series for the Phillies over the Royals in 1980. I was a baseball and Phillies fan for life. I was devastated when the Phillies lost to a young Cal Ripken and the Orioles in 1983. I would have never guessed that it would be ten years before the Phillies returned to the World Series (1993), and another fifteen years after that (2008) when they would finally win it again.

The mid-1980s also saw the emergence of American cycling on the world stage. The success by American cyclists at the 1984 Olympics (undoubtedly buoyed by the Soviet boycott) and Greg LeMond's breakthrough as the first American to win the Tour de France (LeMond won the Tour three times, but could have won at least five
and potentially more if it weren't for a hunting accident in 1987 which caused him to miss two Tours; he likely have won in 1985 too if he wasn't riding in support of Bernard Hinault). Cycling made it onto the big screen, too: Breaking Away in 1979 and American Flyers in 1985 (which is one of my favorites). Racing around the neighborhood on my bike, I often imagined I was LeMond while a friend often became "the Russian" (the "Belov" character from American Flyers). As clycing goes, I never became more than that kid riding around the neighborhood, but l've always considered myself a dedicated fan of cycling. Even then, though, cycling was not really popular in the United States.

That all changed when Lance Armstrong returned from cancer to win seven straight Tour de France victories (1999-2005); no one had ever won more than five. Lance was a master of the time trial and a menace in the mountains. In one of his finest victories, while riding in a small group of leaders up the Alpe d'Huez (one of the most famous and difficult climbs in the history of the Tour), he turned to look at his fiercest competitor Jan Ullrich (immortalized as "The Look") and then left Ullrich and everyone else in the dust. It all seemed like a fairy tale story that was too good to be true (and as it turns out, it was).

Over the past 25 years, both baseball and cycling have enduring scandals involving doping and performance enhancing drugs. It is impossible for me to know how widespread these practices were in either sport, but it seems at least likely that it was, at times, commonplace among at least some competitors. There is also evidence that athletes have been artificially enhancing their performances long before the 1980s. In one infamous incident, British cyclist Tom Simpson died on the ascent to Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France. Simpson died from a mix of amphetamines and alcohol. In many cases, both in baseball and in cycling, these practices weren't even illegal at the time. Baseball players like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa (and now perhaps Alex Rodriguez), all surefire Hall of Famers by their numbers, may never reach Cooperstown because of the taint of performance enhancing drugs (and at least in McGwire's case, most or all of his use of Androstenedione came before it was even banned by baseball).

The impact on cyclists has been less uniform. Lance Armstrong has been disgraced by his admission (costing him all seven Tour victories and every other competitive result from August 1998 onward) despite having never had an official positive test. On the other hand, Eddy Merckx tested positive at least three times during his career. Merckx won the World Championship three times, the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia five times each, and the Vuelta a Espana once. He also won all of professional cycling's classic "monument" races at least twice each (totaling 19 Classics victories in all); and is generally regarded as the greatest pro-cyclist in the history of the sport. The three positive tests have not really tainted his career nor did they void any of his victories. Of course, it is fair to speculate that the hit to Lance's reputation may be greater because of the alleged extensive nature of his team's doping scheme, the constant denials, and the bullying of his teammates and friends.

My position has generally been that if you are doping or using performance enhancing drugs, then you have, on your own volition, tainted your performance. You deserve whatever scorn comes your way, even and especially if that includes voided victories or reduced Hall of Fame consideration. On the other hand, it seems harsh to punish someone for doing something that was legal at the time. Some of the cyclists on the 1984 Olympic team later admitted to having had blood transfusions; they were not illegal in 1984 and no one has questioned the validity of the medals they won. On the other hand, McGwire's Hall of Fame chances seemed perpetually doomed despite having taken a substance that wasn't banned when he took it.

My position has evolved somewhat, perhaps because I have spent a lot of time looking at the issue from a more critical perspective. As a result, it is not so clear to me that we can draw definitive lines about right and wrong in regards to blood doping and performance enhancing drugs. Let me highlight a few observations that have driven me in this direction.

First, although I have highlighted that it is impossible to know how widespread the use of these substances were in baseball or cycling during these periods, it seems pretty obvious that the use was far more common than positive test results or admissions by athletes would suggest. I doubt that anyone believes that Lance Armstrong (and his team) were the only cyclists doping during Lance's incredible streak. Jan Ullrich, Armstrong's biggest rival, has said that Armstrong's wins should be reinstated because doping was so prevalent at the time. A recent survey found that 12 of 25 living Tour de France winners believed that Lance's titles should be reinstated. I'm not sure that result is ever likely to happen (perhaps the same likelihood as McGwire reaching the Hall of Fame), and I'm not sure that full reinstatement is even appropriate, but I don't think I'd be adverse to the "asterisk" approach. More importantly, it seems clear that other cyclists and baseball players were enhancing their performance during this period and did not get caught. In one sense, it's about athletes who used versus athletes who didn't use. But it's also about athletes who got caught versus athletes who didn't get caught. Frankly, it is impossible to make a clear distinction between these two. Do we really know for sure that Hank Aaron (or any other great player) never used a performance enhancing drug? According to one player, the use of performance-enhancing drugs were widespread in baseball during the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, I'm not sure that a ticket to the Hall of Fame or a decision to keep a yellow jersey should based upon one athlete's ability to avoid getting caught. I appreciate the fact that it is not fair to those who never used to be tainted by those who did. But that's the reality of the situation. If we don't treat everyone as suspect, then those who used and got away with it become the real winners.

Second, it is not clear to me that the line between permitted and denied is drawn at the correct location. For example, Erythropoietin (EPO) is banned (synthesized EPO is used to stimulate red blood cell production). Blood transfusions are also banned, including autologous blood transfusions (the athlete receives his or her own blood which had been taken prior to the competition and presumably has a higher red blood cell count). Although there are some potential health complications from autologous blood transfusions, it is unclear to me if these reasons are really sufficient for them to be banned. Transfusing someone with their own blood seems to me a considerable stretch (added to that, testing for autologous blood transfusions requires the testers to maintain a biologic profile of the athlete. As a third example, some athletes may use an altitude tent to stimulate the body to produce more red blood cells. Altitude tents are not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. All three of these methods are designed to introduce more red blood cells into the athlete's body to carry more oxygen to the muscles. Two of these methods are banned while the third is not. Have we drawn the line at the correct location? I don't know. But I think it is reasonable to have this debate, rather than just assume that the line drawn by USADA or WADA cannot be questioned.

Third, these anti-doping organizations can preach zero tolerance, but athletes in competitive sports will always be searching for the smallest of advantages. Is cycling or baseball (or any other sport) really clean now? Or are athletes just one more step ahead of the anti-doping authorities? When today's legal advantage becomes tomorrow's prohibited substance, another generation of athletes will be tainted by accusations or doping or the use of performance enhancing substances. Once again we will have to confront the impossible dilemma of the innocent, the caught, and unknown guilty. The results won't likely turn out any differently.

Lastly, I am obviously not a doctor. I do not pretend to know more than the absolute basic biology of how certain substances affect the human body. To be sure, I do not question the science of performance enhancing drugs or of blood doping. I'm not apologizing for Lance Armstrong or defending doping. My focus should be seen in the context of how those medical decisions affect the perception of the sport by the public at large.

17 July 2014

Law in Plain English: Elonis v. United States

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogElonis v. United States

Argument: TBD (Aud.)

Background: After being fired from his job, Anthony Elonis made several posts on Facebook threatening former co-workers, his wife (who had a protection from abuse order against him), and federal law enforcement officers (who had visited him earlier that day to ask about his previous posts) (click here to read some of Elonis's threats). At trial, Elonis was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) for "transmit[ing] in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injury the person of another ... " The Third Circuit affirmed, finding that Elonis's Facebook threats were not protected by the First Amendment if a reasonable person would regard the statements as threatening.

Issue: The questions before the Court are (1) whether, consistent with the First Amendment and Virginia v. Black, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten, as required by the Ninth Circuit and the supreme courts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont; or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening, as held by other federal courts of appeals and state courts of last resort; and (2) whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten.

Holding: TBD

Elonis Facebook Threats

This page is a supplement to my case page on Elonis v. United States. It contains an except from the Third Circuit's opinion that includes some of the threats Elonis posted on Facebook. For a summary of the case, click here.

Following the issuance of the state court Protection From Abuse order, Elonis posted several statements on Facebook expressing intent to harm his wife. On November 7 he wrote:
Did you know that it's illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife?
It's illegal.
It's indirect criminal contempt.
It's one of the only sentences that I'm not allowed to say.
Now it was okay for me to say it right then because I was just telling you that it's illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife.
I'm not actually saying it.
I'm just letting you know that it's illegal for me to say that.
It's kind of like a public service.
I'm letting you know so that you don't accidently go out and say something like that
Um, what's interesting is that it's very illegal to say I really, really think someone out there should kill my wife.
That's illegal.
Very, very illegal.
But not illegal to say with a mortar launcher.
Because that's its own sentence.
It's an incomplete sentence but it may have nothing to do with the sentence before that. So that's perfectly fine. Perfectly legal.
I also found out that it's incredibly illegal, extremely illegal, to go on Facebook and say something like the best place to fire a mortar launcher at her house would be from the cornfield behind it because of easy access to a getaway road and you'd have a clear line of sight through the sun room.
Insanely illegal.
Ridiculously, wrecklessly, insanely illegal.
Yet even more illegal to show an illustrated diagram.
Insanely illegal.
Ridiculously, horribly felonious.
Cause they will come to my house in the middle of the night and they will lock me up.
Extremely against the law.
Uh, one thing that is technically legal to say is that we have a group that meets Fridays at my parent's house and the password is sic simper tyrannis.
Tara Elonis testified at trial that she took these statements seriously, saying, "I felt like I was being stalked. I felt extremely afraid for mine and my children's and my families' lives." Trial Tr. 97, Oct. 19, 2011. Ms. Elonis further testified that Elonis rarely listened to rap music, and that she had never seen Elonis write rap lyrics during their seven years of marriage. She explained that the lyric form of the statements did not make her take the threats any less seriously.

On November 15 Elonis posted on his Facebook page:
Fold up your PFA and put it in your pocket Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?
Try to enforce an Order
That was improperly granted in the first place Me thinks the judge needs an education on true threat jurisprudence
And prison time will add zeroes to my settlement
Which you won't see a lick
Because you suck dog dick in front of children
* * *
And if worse comes to worse
I've got enough explosives to take care of the state police and the sheriff's department
[link: Freedom of Speech, www.wikipedia.org]
This statement was the basis both of Count 2, threats to Elonis's wife, and Count 3, threats to local law enforcement. A post the following day on November 16 involving an elementary school was the basis of Count 4:
That's it, I've had about enough
I'm checking out and making a name for myself Enough elementary schools in a ten mile radius to initiate the most heinous school shooting ever imagined
And hell hath no fury like a crazy man in a kindergarten class
The only question is . . . which one?
By this point FBI Agent Denise Stevens was monitoring Elonis's public Facebook postings, because Dorney Park contacted the FBI claiming Elonis had posted threats against Dorney Park and its employees on his Facebook page. After reading these and other Facebook posts by Elonis, Agent Stevens and another FBI agent went to Elonis's house to interview him. When the agents knocked on his door, Elonis's father answered and told the agents Elonis was sleeping. The agents waited several minutes until Elonis came to the door wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and no shoes. Elonis asked the agents if they were law enforcement and asked if he was free to go. After the agents identified themselves and told him he was free to go, Elonis went inside and closed the door. Later that day, Elonis posted the following on Facebook:
You know your shit's ridiculous when you have the FBI knockin' at yo' door
Little Agent Lady stood so close
Took all the strength I had not to turn the bitch ghost
Pull my knife, flick my wrist, and slit her throat Leave her bleedin' from her jugular in the arms of her partner
So the next time you knock, you best be serving a warrant
And bring yo' SWAT and an explosives expert while you're at it
Cause little did y'all know, I was strapped wit' a bomb
Why do you think it took me so long to get dressed with no shoes on?
I was jus' waitin' for y'all to handcuff me and pat me down
Touch the detonator in my pocket and we're all goin'