A Review of James Darley’s, Rebirth of the Royal Spaniel; The Clumber in the field

By R Tamara de Silvarebirth-royal-spaniel-300x236George V Shooting Woodcock, R. Ward Binks, 1929 from the

Queen’s private collection in Sandringham. 

blm-300x200   The grand jury’s decision yesterday in the murder of 26 year old Breonna Taylor exposes some of the many problems with our criminal justice system, particularly the use of no-knock warrants.   There is so much wrong with this outcome like the fact that Louisville Police executed a no-knock warrant on her home, that no drugs were found in her home, that she was not even the target of any police investigation, and that no one has yet, or will, stand trial for this outcome.   This piece however, just focuses on the type of search warrant used.

Yesterday’s announcement is unsurprising in that criminal charges seldom follow the most notorious incidents where the police kill Black Americans.  Even when the cases of police killings of Black Americans make the national news, they do not normally result in criminal indictments and almost never in criminal convictions.  Names such as Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, or Freddie Gray briefly gained national prominence in the news media but did not except in one case, result in a criminal conviction.

No-knock warrants played a central role in the death of Breonna Taylor.  When a no-knock warrant was used against former Trump associate, Paul Manafort, the well-known television legal pundit, Jeffrey Toobin reassured Americans that magistrates put a great deal of care into issuing no-knock warrants.  In reality though, the probable cause needed to be shown to get a search warrant is not a high standard to meet and warrants, statistically speaking are more often given than not.

shutterstock_86040664-scaledDid Senators Burr and Loeffler Commit Insider Trading?

R Tamara de Silva

Many businesses are better off than ever.  Take red ink, for instance: Who doesn’t use it?

How Blockchain Can Protect Your DNA Information

By R Tamara de Silva

2018 has seen many pundits proclaim the death of cryptocurrency and the permanent supremacy of fiat currency. But there is a third currency class that continues to make its ascendency-largely by stealth. This is the currency of data and it now includes your DNA information.


Link to the indictment of President Trump’s former campaign advisor on charges of money laundering, tax fraud and unregistered lobbying.  At this point, the charges are related to financial crimes unrelated to possible and alleged Russian collusion with the Presidential election.

Former Presidential advisor, George Papadopoulos pleads guilty for making false statements to the FBI.  gp_plea_agreement.filed_

IMG_1241-300x200Sentence Before Verdict- Civil Asset Forfeiture Considered

by R Tamara de Silva

January 26, 2017


Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

`No, no!’ said the Queen. `Sentence first–verdict afterwards.’

`Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!’

`Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.

`I won’t!’ said Alice.

`Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.


                                                      Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


Few things in the practice of law have struck me as more similar in practice to the Queen’s declaration in Alice in Wonderland than the often seemingly surreal practice of civil forfeiture. Not only when in instances that it goes awry but just even as a theory as it sits written into federal and state statutes -resting on the books yet so very much at odds even in written theory with the scant enumerated rights and protections that are our constitutional safeguards against tyranny. It was anticipated by some that the recent confirmation hearings of the new United States Attorney General would draw attention to the practice of civil forfeiture.  Mr. Sessions had previously defended the practice of civil forfeiture as it was used in Alabama in his tenure as a prosecutor there.

The practice of civil forfeiture provides that federal and state statutes allow the government to seize private property when that property is used in prohibited ways. Like so much in the law, the room for disaster lies in the application of what is subject to interpretation and by whom it is that is doing the interpreting.

Civil forfeiture originated in the laws of admiralty when ships carrying contraband were subject to seizure.  The cargo carried would be seized whether on port or on the high seas often of necessity outside of the presence of the ship’s owners who may have been in distant countries.  Forfeiture was later used in the area of border crossing during customs examinations starting in England in the 1700s and through the Act of Frauds.

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The Doctrine of Privacy in the Age of Big Data

by R Tamara de Silva


We all have an unthinking certitude about what privacy means.  We are reasonably sure that we retain this right to privacy when we go about our ordinary activities like buying groceries or using the Internet.

But it is not unreasonable to question what our right to privacy means in the digital world of Big Data.  It bears noting that this cursory discussion will not delve into the more complex issue of what the right of privacy actually is and from where it arises.  Case law typically considers the right to privacy when it comes to striking down laws related to the rubric of human sexuality-the familiar topics of abortion, marriage and contraception.  Aside from First Amendment protections and the right to be secure in your home, what is meant by privacy here for our purposes is the idea of what is left for so many of us to retain as our own.  Or stated alternatively, what we do not want to be shared-even when we seem so compelled to seemingly ‘over share’ so much else.

Privacy is a sphere into which the individual does not want the government, or anyone else for that matter, to reach.  Privacy in any case is practically better discussed in this colloquial and ‘common sense’ way than in the legal sense where one’s politics, ideas of judicial interpretation, and judicial activism do not need to be summoned.

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Edward Snowden and the Meaning of the Espionage Act Post 9-11


June 25, 2013

R. Tamara de Silva

The point of demarcation between speech, whistleblowing and espionage has in some instances the aspects of a razor’s edge.
Edward Snowden’s criminal complaint under the Espionage Act was unsealed last Friday.  The Espionage Act has only been used three times since it became law during WWI.  In just five years, President Obama has used it eight additional times to prosecute whistleblowers under an elastic and theoretically boundless definition of what constitutes national security.  Since 2009, the Espionage Act has been used against whistleblowers more than in all other Presidential administrations in the past 90 years combined.
Whether one thinks Edward Snowden is a traitor for exposing a clandestine wiretap dragnet of Americans and foreigners, or a patriot for exposing a truth that may not otherwise ever become known to his countrymen, is largely beside the point.  Snowden’s case reveals a lot more as we approach another Independence Day about how one day has changed our system of government.   The arguments advanced to suggest that the NSA’s powers are checked by two other branches of government, are largely specious.  What Snowden’s case reveals is the extent to which Americans gave the Executive Branch a blank check after September 11, 2001 and what that actually means for every American hereafter.

In the Inferno,
when Dante begins his entrance into the gates of hell, guided by no one less than the great Virgil, he comes across a bleak warning, lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate or, “abandon all hope ye who enter here.”  After 9-11, contrapasso to the United States Constitution,
as if capitulating to the admonishment that greeted Dante, Americans abandoned a measure of hope in America’s core values and founding principles.   A bi-partisan Congress signed the Patriot Act-in the absence of any public outcry, and almost no media attention or intellectual grasp of what it would actually mean. 

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Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Horror Practice


By R. Tamara de Silva

April 13, 2013



Kermit Gosnell’s illegal abortion practices such as killing babies born alive and performing an abortion on a 14 year old girl who was 30 weeks pregnant, as alleged in a grand jury report, are horrifying.  I first read about this case in the NYT, but it has otherwise received scant national media attention.  It seems that the same CNN that was obsessed with the Casey Anthony trial has gone on to obsess over the Jodi Arias trial.  Or perhaps editorial boards and news editors do not want to run a story that mentions abortion-for whatever reason.  Sex and scandal sell, ghoulish murders that do not involve guns, remarkably less so.     But the story of Kermit Gosnell’s medical practice, to the extent that it can be called this, is not an abortion story; it is a sordid tale of deliberate murders,
concealment of crime and massive regulatory failure.

       Abortion is perhaps the single most polarizing issue in American politics argued between the same parties along predictable lines.  To frame the story of Dr. Gosnell’s case as part of the abortion debate, although tempting, is to miss the fact that it is a human rights issue and a civil rights issue.  Pro-choice advocates are not well cast by the story nor is the story done justice as an opportune trophy for the pro-life crowd.
This is not an abortion story yet a much larger one than Trevon Martin,
some selectively chosen missing teenager or much of what the main stream media obsesses on including at this point, Sandy Hook.  According to the testimony contained within the grand jury report on Dr. Kermit Gosnell, many more lives have been deliberated killed than were lost in the last lunatic’s tragic shooting spree. 

       If the facts are to be believed, the trial of Kermit Gosnell is nothing less than the indictment of several murders.
Murder is murder and you need not inject politics into the matter.  The murder of innocents ought to shock a conscience and the failure to do so is a separate and perhaps more troubling diagnosis.  Wherever one may stand on the abortion issue and separately, what the government’s role in that is or should be, the deliberate taking of a life that is born alive, without legal justification, is murder.  It debases both sides of the abortion issue and evades reality to deny this.
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