Anyway, it turns out that this "court" is a complete fabrication that the city put up as a way to put up the appearance of being fair. But cities are corporations, they aren't allowed to establish courts like this, and it was a complete sham. That's why you have to have a real judge hear traffic cases.
This is a sham traffic court too. This is not part of the judicial branch of government any more than the "property code violations court" presided over by a clown in black robes. There's a reason we have a separation of powers. A paid employee wielding a rubber stamp is not justice.
This depends on the laws of the state in which a city is located. In Texas, for instance, cities are "municipal corporations" whose only commonality with a "business corporation" is the word "corporation." State law, consistent with the state constitution, gives certain cities the authority to establish a variety of courts and "administrative tribunals" by passing a city ordinance. So, they are very much "allowed to establish courts like this," though the fairness in practicality may be in question.
It's actually the Wiretap Act that protects telephone calls, not the 4th amendment. But there's no real analogue of the Wiretap Act for things like email and Facebook.
The wiretap law should be revised to include other forms of electronic communications in order to thwart such applications of the feeble 3rd party doctrine.
I find it reprehensible that in the "Land of the Free" we allow our government to circumvent the letter and intent of the Bill of Rights in the name of "security" when these very circumventions are the antithesis of freedom.
I've been reading up on that a bit since your comment, it's a pretty interesting topic because it touches on one branch's ability to influence another. It's a little troubling that a supreme court justice (Roberts, in this case) has the ability to fill this oversight court with whoever he wants. It seems that needs to be fixed.
One of the more serious issues with the FISA court is that they appear to be only nominally distinct from the Executive. The staff seems to come from the DoJ, for example. I think this reflects the fact that this was until recently a sleepy backwater of the court system.
I wouldn't focus too much on the Chief Justice's ability to appoint the judges. Federal judges are very powerful people, and that power (and the permanence of their position) gives them more independence in terms of judgement than just about anyone.
This episode reminds me of the red warning light from ksm's gitmo trial that would sometimes light up and cut the gallery feeds on its own: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/01/secrec...
Why cameras are banned on courtrooms? I remember the last US trial news all of them had sketches like this instead of photos and videos...
EDIT about the argument below about google: I always search Google first, but I found lots of random answers, and I don't have enough domain knowledge to know what one (or ones) are correct or resemble how things really are, asking here usually spark people to post very interesting information, that sometimes are obscure even, and hard to find on Google.
Instead of telling people to use Google, why not wonder: If the person CAN have that information, and is asking anyway, what the person wants to know, that is not easy to find on Google?
I wanted very much to stand and ask what other laws did not apply to them, if they were free to ignore those pertaining to automobiles, or even if they felt they should be held responsible if they were to break the same law they were charging my family member for.
It definitely depends on the court, OJ's trial was on TV.
They certainly wouldn't allow the media (or the public) in the courtroom, with or without cameras, or allow the media/public access to anything any cameras they did allow in captured.
In general, because the judiciary has watched what the "news media" has done to every other aspect of life, and doesn't want trials and judging to become a popularity contest.
They try to strike a balance by doing things like having most court of appeals release live or near-live audio versions of arguments, allowing tweeting from court rooms, whatever.
Just not the "let's put up the satellites and get nancy grace on live"
Privacy for the people being tried, and in many legitimate cases to protect identities. I suspect they just vetoed them rather than having to decide.
Besides, the vast majority of interesting content is captured by audio recording equipment.
The question wasn't just a request for raw data. It was also an expression of frustration and an invitation to debate.
The former is lazy and relatively useless, the latter is an opportunity for enticing discussion.
Joking aside, it is obviously very concerning that FISA is completely unaccountable to the public. The lack of a sign is just another symptom of the abuse of secrecy.
They just tell you you are in room 302 for this or that, or whatever (this is true even in appeals courts where they aren't really shifting around courtrooms all the time. The main courtroom will just be some numbered nameless room).
The only usually obvious signs are the names on judges chambers, and in a lot of cases, they aren't even in the same building!
edit: great little piece, btw. I'll pass it around.
And, given that it is a secret court, well it wouldn't be very secret if everyone knew where the courtroom was, would it?
For me, yes, what is secret about a secret court matters.
Classified proceedings? I think there could be room for that, within reason and with some kind of oversight.
A court that makes a secret of its existence? No way. That makes oversight more difficult -- one of the few who oversees it can't make a democratic issue of how it operates.
A court that makes its rules and workings secret? Nope.
A court that makes its location secret? Not sure if that's particularly bad if everything else is on the level, but I also don't know if it's necessary, and keeping the location secret seems like a step towards forgetting it's there and what it's doing. So I'm less comfortable with that.
What is a problem, is not having anyone to answer the phones and not having the building receptionist know what to tell people.
In a maelstrom of political chaos, it's nice to see at least a bit of humor every now and then. It seems Life Imitates Art. This pleases the Potter fan in me.