February 3, 2012

©2012 jbjd

For the first time in ages, I got sick. And, for the first time in longer than that, I was too sick to go to work. In fact, I was so sick I didn’t even take advantage of being home; to work on my blog. But that was before I decided to put aside the music playlist I was compiling to peruse the blogosphere to sample materials related to these nationwide ballot challenges. Now, I am so angry that, I am actually angrier than I am sick. Fingers crossed, I will feel better if I write.

I have decided to compile a frenemies list from among those on-line characters spewing their interminable fixes to the glitches implicated either directly or tangentially in undermining our electoral system. The bizarre ‘cures’ championed, accepted by too many unwitting citizens as true, are doing more damage to our political system than was already accomplished in the past by sheer apathy. Because those of us who know better and who truly want our government to work as we presume the Founders intended; and who have been exercising our considerable energies (and finite monetary resources) to educating those of our fellow citizens without access to our information or facts or powers of analysis, often with only psychic remuneration; now are additionally compelled to expend our finite resources de-programming those same citizens who have been indoctrinated with this poisonous tripe.

Here’s how Urban Dictionary defines the word “frenemy“:

An enemy disguised as a friend.The type of “friend” whose words or actions bring you down (whether you realize it as intentional). The type of friend you ought to cut off but don’t cuz…he’s nice… good…you’ve had good times with him. He’s good people you can count on to bring you down again sometime in the near future.The friend you may or may not have cornered about his quicksand-like ways and keep around rationalizing “its in the past”…. The person who will continue to bring you down until you demand better for yourself.

So, who has aroused my ire to the point of becoming the first frenemy on my brand new list, the person who whether intentionally or through a personal character flaw is leading you astray under the guise of helping you to find your way?

Leo Donofrio, Attorney at Law.

And what precisely after all of this time has put me into a ‘I’ve-had-it-up-to-here’ stance with respect to Mr. Donofrio’s seemingly endless deluge of fecal matter-cum-legal critique? That *!*!*!* 200+-page amicus brief he assembled and is submitting to every ballot challenge forum he can find, from the GA OSAH hearing to the IL election commission.

(Note: For the purpose of this article, I am intentionally omitting any discussion as to the propriety of submitting such a brief in the first place.)

At first, I only intended to dismiss the brief as irrelevant, by specifically pointing to Leo’s reliably faulty analyses of so many other issues in the past few years. (Note: I am not charging here that everything Leo writes is legally unsound, but only that assuming it is unsound is safer than a detrimental reliance on its validity.) For example, more than 3 years ago, I drafted those military complaints after seeing those many failed attempts by Plaintiffs to address the issue of Presidential eligibility through the federal courts, whose cases were tossed out on procedural grounds. Looking for a way to get around the ‘standing’ problem they encountered, I found the the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, which led to the idea that people seeking redress in federal court could ask for a Declaratory Judgment, using state National Guard Plaintiffs subject to federal recall. Naturally, when drafting the military complaint, I cited to the applicable federal law. Yet, Leo criticized my proposal as un-Constitutional, absurdly arguing federal courts could not issue declaratory judgments! Now, it’s true, the Constitution explicitly says, the authority of the federal court is restricted to deciding “cases” and controversies.”  http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/controversy  But, of course, the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act provides a mechanism for obtaining the court’s opinion within the framework of this restriction.  (His rationale in this instance represented a common flaw that appears in Leo’s reasoning: he looks narrowly to the ‘plain language’ in a passage without considering its practical meaning in the larger legal and political context.) (FYI, here is the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure on Declaratory Judgments. http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_57 For a comprehensive explanation as to when the federal court may issue declaratory judgments, see http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/art3frag21_user.html)

Then, there was the time he argued that he had found a federal law allowing a member of the security division of the Executive branch to withhold ‘secrets’ from the President, the boss of the Executive, based on a determination, this is in the public interest. I spent hours explaining, especially on CW’s blog, this is not what the law means. For definitions of the terms contained in this section of the law, you have to look at another section of the law. And those definitions spelled out, the law Leo claimed applied to the President applied only to contract employees. (Or you can use your common sense!) Indeed, I intended to make my case that any ‘legal’ work produced by Mr. Donofrio is irrelevant; by searching through years of internet postings, in which I refuted such tripe; and even began such a search. But I found the task overwhelming. (Readers of the CW blog familiar with this exchange might look it up and send here; I will post.)

I also figured Leo likely had only reached the 200-page milestone by incorporating into this amicus brief much of that same flawed ‘legal’ reasoning I had already de-bunked over the years. That’s when I decided to skim the brief. And, sure enough, this document contains many of those ‘legal’ arguments conjured up only in Leo’s imagination, which arguments even if they could be said to validate his personal private machinations; nonetheless still detract from the practical approach required to engage an active citizenry in shoring up our electoral system so as to ensure, only the candidate who is a NBC, can be elected for the job.

PLEASE, LEST YOU ARE TEMPTED AT THE OUTSET OF MY ANALYSIS TO COMPARE, CONTRAST, OR CHALLENGE RESPECTIVE CREDENTIALS WHICH HAVE BEEN MADE PUBLIC BY US ON-LINE PUNDITS; STOP! I have asked readers to consider our respective legitimacy only by examining on-line track records based on criteria that include reliability of analysis, and accurate reporting of facts, a feat which can be accomplished even absent full access to the particulars in his or her CV. (Let’s start with this fact. The legal and political analyses of issues related to presidential eligibility which I began in 2008 in response to voter concerns, led me to recommend at that time, given existing state laws, the mechanism for keeping Barack Obama out of the WH was to keep his name off the state election ballot. Leo only accessed this mechanism for redress of the eligibility dilemma, 3 1/2 years after the fact.) CHALLENGING BO’S ELIGIBILITY TO GET ONTO THE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT AS THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR POTUS)

Leo begins the amicus brief with his assumptions of these facts: 1) Barack Obama was born in HI; and 2) his father was a British subject at the time of his birth. Then, based on these assumptions, he argues, Barack Obama is not a NBC because Minor v. Happersett defines only those citizens born in the U.S. of 2 U.S. citizen parents are NBCs.

No, it does not. And I have explained several times, it does not. For example, see SENSE and non-SENSE, relying on such sources such as the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University School of Law. Nor does Minor in any way limit the definition of NBC to only those people born in the U.S. of 2 U.S. citizen parents.

The decision from the lower courts which was appealed to the Supreme Court in Minor was quite narrow:

The question is presented in this case, whether, since the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, a woman, who is a citizen of the United States and of the State of Missouri, is a voter in that State, notwithstanding the provision of the constitution and laws of the State, which confine the right of suffrage to men alone.


Thus, the main focus of this case was not on citizenship; in fact, everyone involved in the case already agreed, based on the wording of the 14th Amendment, she was a citizen. Rather, the question presented to the high court was whether privileges and immunities connected to  citizenship included the right to vote. The lower courts had ruled, it did not. Minor disagreed; that’s why she appealed. But before the high court could issue what would then become a legal “fact” with respect to voting as a privilege and immunity of citizenship; it first had to determine whether those “persons” now classified in the 14th Amendment as (having always been) citizens with a right to privileges and immunities, (historically) included women. If yes; the court would then determine whether voting had historically been treated as a privilege and immunity of citizenship, so as to determine whether it would be a privilege and immunity of citizenship, now. For this analysis, the court looked back at the history of women-qua-persons-who-would-have-been-considered-citizens pre-14th Amendment. Determining Minor was always considered a citizen (and thus, would have enjoyed the privileges and immunities of citizenship) even before the formalization of that designation in the 14th Amendment, was easy. As the court pointed out, given her specific set of circumstances – she was a woman born in the U.S. of 2 U.S. citizen parents – the literature was consistent. Thus, at a minimum, she was a citizen entitled to the same privileges and immunities of all citizens. Then, the court ‘just’ had to consider whether voting was one of these privileges and immunities which had historically been attached to such citizenship.

But you didn’t stop there.

Referring again to the Minor court, you wrote, “Their holding was that natural-born citizens were citizens at birth who do not require the 14th Amendment to establish their membership in the nation.” No, it was not; the holding in Minor had absolutely nothing to do with citizenship. Remember, the lower courts all agreed, Minor was both a citizen of MO and of the U.S.; and that voting wasn’t a privilege and immunity with respect to such citizenship. Minor appealed to the high court on the narrow grounds, she believed voting was a privilege and immunity tied to her citizenship under the 14th Amendment.

Here’s the holding in Minor, again, closely correlated to the narrow question asked:

Being unanimously of the opinion that the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one, and that the constitutions and laws of the several States which commit that important trust to men alone are not necessarily void, we AFFIRM THE JUDGMENT.


As for your statement that the court [said] Minor was a citizen before the 14th Amendment, well, of course, it could not say otherwise, since everyone who was a U.S. citizen before the 14th Amendment was still a citizen after its passage; and no one who wasn’t already a U.S. citizen was made a citizen by this Amendment. The court actually said,

There is no doubt that women may be citizens. They are persons, and by the fourteenth amendment “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are expressly declared to be “citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” But, in our opinion, it did not need this amendment to give them that position. Before its adoption the Constitution of the United States did not in terms prescribe who should be citizens of the United States or of the several States, yet there were necessarily such citizens without such provision. There cannot be a nation without a people. The very idea of a political community, such as a nation is, implies an [p166] association of persons for the promotion of their general welfare. Each one of the persons associated becomes a member of the nation formed by the association.


Read the legislative history; the 14th Amendment did not confer a new status of citizenship on anyone not already a citizen before its passage, whether native, natural born, or naturalized. It merely had to find that   http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/amdt14a_user.html#amdt14a_hd1

And then, you really went off the deep end. “The Court determined it was necessary to define the class of natural-born citizens, and the definition remains current legal precedent.”

Leo, for goodness sake, get a grip. The court explicitly only set out to confirm that the word “citizen” appearing in the 14th Amendment also meant women who ‘belonged’ to this country before the 14th Amendment officially codified they were citizens. Because once it confirmed that women had always been considered ‘citizens,’ from the founding of this country and, therefore, that all of the privileges and immunities attached to such citizenship, beginning at that time, should apply now under the 14th Amendment; it could then figure out whether voting had been treated as a privilege or immunity of that citizenship. It made no difference to the analysis rendered by the court whether Minor could be said to be a native, natural born, or naturalized citizen but only whether she could be said to have been a citizen even before that word was codified in the 14th Amendment; and only because the rights enumerated in the 14th Amendment were limited to citizens. Yes, by reasoning that Minor was a citizen before the 14th Amendment the court also confirmed, the amendment did not confer new citizenship status or rights but merely ‘codified’ s status which already existed with respect to Minor. However, it did not, as you would suggest, confirm, in dicta, that the only “citizens” who were citizens before the 14th Amendment were NBCs; rather, it only confirmed that, at least, NBCs (like Minor) were citizens before the 14th Amendment.

Thus, consistent with the lower courts, the Supreme Court agreed, Minor was a citizen according to the language in the 14th Amendment. Then, examining the implications of citizenship before the 14th Amendment, the court found, in fact, Minor rightly could be considered a citizen before the 14th Amendment. But, alas, having examined the historical privileges and immunities ancillary to citizenship before the 14th Amendment; it also agreed, voting appears not to have been one of those privileges and immunities of citizenship. Thus, the court did not have to enforce a right to vote in MO. (Interestingly, the court  virtually invited the electorate to cure this mistake.)

We have given this case the careful consideration its importance demands. If the law is wrong, it ought to be changed; but the power for that is not with us. The arguments addressed to us bearing upon such a view of the subject may perhaps be sufficient to induce those having the power, to make the alteration, but they ought not to be permitted to influence our judgment in determining the present rights of the parties now litigating before us. No argument as to woman’s need of suffrage can be considered. We can only act upon her rights as they exist. It is not for us to look at the hardship of withholding. Our duty is at an end if we find it is within the power of a State to withhold.



Got that now? And the only reason the court even reached the analysis of Minor’s citizenship was so as to confirm the word “citizen” and “person” as used in the new 14th Amendment necessarily meant even before the 14th Amendment, women who were similarly situated, that is, women born here of 2 citizen parents, but only because Minor was a woman born here of 2 citizen parents. Once it determined the threshold issue, that is, the new Amendment did, indeed, apply to the woman named in the present case; it stopped the ‘citizen’ aspect of its analysis and reached the voting qua “privileges and immunities” of citizenship core of the case. The Minor court only ruled, for the first time, under this new right vested in citizens by the 14th Amendment, voting cannot be said to be a “privilege or immunity.” It did not rule that only citizens born here of 2 citizen parents are NBCs.

Then, Leo contradicted himself.

The Minor Court’s construction of the natural-born citizen clause was the independent ground by which the Court avoided construing the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause.Therefore, such construction is precedent, not dicta, despite Presidential eligibility not being an issue in that case. The Court determined it was necessary to define the class of natural-born citizens, and the definition remains current legal precedent.

As I have stated, the Minor court did, in fact, undertake a legal and historical analysis which, as a threshold issue, determined that, as the word “citizen” was used in the new 14th Amendment; Minor was a citizen even before the 14th Amendment. Thus, having considered the issue of Minor’s pre-14th Amendment citizenship (status) in order to “construe” that the word “citizen” in the 14th Amendment means her; the court cannot be said to be simultaneously “avoiding construing the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause.” It did construe the 14th Amendment’s guarantee to equal privileges and immunities of all citizens, to mean all “persons” who have ‘belonged’ to this country even before the 14th Amendment, including women. At this same time, it did avoid an exhaustive exploration of all of the possible iterations of  ‘women belonging to a country’ which also might rightly have triggered the designation “citizen” that appears in the 14th Amendment and, thereby implicated the “privileges and immunities” clause. And it avoided an exhaustive consideration of these ancillary issues because in the present case, it did not have to reach these issues in order to render its ruling on the case before the court.

Finally, Leo again raises the specter of Vattel. For goodness sake, give up that ghost! DEFINITION on DEMAND


Freedom costs.


October 29, 2011

©2011 jbjd

(UPDATE 10.30.11, AT BOTTOM)

I make mistakes; but if, after several defenses of my work over time, I continue to insist I am right then, you likely waste your time betting against me that I am wrong.  Especially when the person insisting I am wrong is one of the usual ‘suspects.’

I received an email from PJRieke, the contents of which appeared to be a wholesale copy of a lengthy post from the site naturalborncitizen, authored by Leo Donofrio.  The crux of the email and the post was this.  Since 2006, either the on-line publisher, Justia.com or, as Leo concedes, perhaps a hacker, ostensibly altered versions of the ‘legal’ cases appearing on the Justia.com web site so as to eliminate all references to Minor v. Happersett, the case Leo (wrongly) insists points to the ‘fact,’ Barack Obama cannot be said to be a NBC.

Here was my email response.

From: jbjd
To: PJR…
Sent: 10/22/2011 7:45:24 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time


Justia.com is a commercial web site and not the official publisher of court cases in any state or the federal bench.  Therefore, crying ‘the sky is falling’ even assuming they are intentionally doctoring the text of ‘actual’ court cases by editing out certain references to force their point of view  is like complaining Bayer is intentionally over-simplifying the human digestive system in the rudimentary diagrams featured in its commercials for Alka-Seltzer.

And I have been saying this about Justia, for months… Do a search for “jbjd” and “Justia”..


Well, this prompted an even lengthier email response from PJR, again, imported wholesale from Leo.  But this time, he defended against Leo’s baseless assertion that Justia.com or the hacker did something wrong, by elevating their alleged manipulation of electronically posted court cases into a criminal act, citing a portion of the U.S. Code relating to false publication. (Please note, I am only leaving in these excerpts from Leo’s blog so as to show to what lengths both PJR and he have gone trying to prove the falsehood they are peddling, is true.  Clearly, I neither support not endorse this ‘research.’)

On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 12:39 PM, <PJRieke@aol.com> wrote:

Just sayin’…,
and OH, BTW, it appears that “other” (than “most”) folks (that would be the lawyerly types – no offense intended) DO make use of it – also.
As for your comment
“… crying ‘the sky is falling’ even assuming they are intentionally doctoring the text of ‘actual’ court cases by editing out certain references to force their point of view  is like complaining Bayer is intentionally over-simplifying the human digestive system in the rudimentary diagrams featured in its commercials for Alka-Seltzer. “,
it’s considered a crime / felony to conceal, obfuscate or otherwise alter legal renderings…as I’m sure you’re well aware ofTAMPERING WITH OFFICIAL WRITINGS IS A CRIME UNDER 18 U.S.C. 1018.

§1018. Official certificates or writings

Whoever, being a public officer or other person authorized by any law of the United States to make or give a certificate or other writing, knowingly makes and delivers as true such a certificate or writing, containing any statement which he knows to be false, in a case where the punishment thereof is not elsewhere expressly provided by law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

The statute covers a “person” authorized by any law of the US to make or give official writings.  Justia.com is authorized – according to the federal Public Domain laws – to re-publish US Supreme Court opinions.

Justia CEO Tim Stanley gave a 21 minute podcast interview to Ken Chan of “Law And Legal Research” in Jan. ’07 after Tim was awarded the Google Enterprise Search Superstar award.  In that interview, Stanley was asked who Justia was created to benefit.  Here is Stanley’s candid reply:

Stanley: The primary users of it tend to be lawyers or attorneys looking for legal information or looking for case-law, or looking for information from some of the legal blogs that are online. And the other sort of major group of users tends to be law students or other students in the college environment or high schools that are looking for information on the US Government and sort of how the court system works.

Chan: The homepage, if you will, mentions the indexing of all of the Supreme Court cases… What would you say is the primary piece of information that somebody is coming to your web site to find, or is there one?  Is it a wide basis of information or is there a particular type of information that somebody is coming to find?

Stanley:  In most cases they’re looking for a variety of types of legal information.There is a large percentage though that are looking for Supreme Court information, and looking at particular Supreme Court cases.  And one of the nice things we’ve done using the Google Mini is we’ve indexed all the Supreme Court cases, and we have a nice sort of inter-linking among the cases, so you can go from one case, you know, quickly link over to a previous case.  And the Google algorithm when it’s indexing the cases does a very good job in terms of prioritizing the cases based on those that sort of have more value to the legal community.

Stanley tells us that the primary users are lawyers, not lay people.  Also, keep in mind that when he gave this interview in ’07, none of the cases had been sabotaged yet.  The cases were in the database with full case names, citations, and no text had been removed.

Here is my response.


I am so glad you sent this email, which affords me the opportunity to 1) clarify the misconception you share with several others over the role of “official” publishers of state and federal court decisions versus commercial re-‘printers’; and 2) remind you about the uselessness of self-authentication.

Federal law (U.S. Code) governs that U.S. Reports is the official publisher of decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.  http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/info_opinions.aspx State laws which govern the operation of state courts, include language that mandates court decisions will be published.  http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/ Official publishers of court decisions, such as Lexis/Nexis work under contract with the state. http://www.lexisnexis.com/clients/CACourts/ States may also contract with publishers such as West to print digests of cases. http://www.courts.alaska.gov/aklegal.htm  While both Lexis/Nexis and West are commercial concerns, when publishing state court materials under state contracts, each is bound by strict protocols and standards imposed by the state, which may include allowing the state to retain rights to prior consultation and approval.

Remember, appellate decisions have precedential effect. That is, what happened in the past sets the standard for conduct in the future. Thus, in order for both judges and lawyers to determine how to present and rule on subsequent cases, they must be able to research prior cases.  Looking through court records is prohibitive and so, these cases are compiled in official publications intended to streamline the process.  In effect, by contracting with legal publishers, the state is actually providing services to state actors, including not only these judges and lawyers but also state legislators.

It is no exaggeration to say, misrepresenting the content of a case, whether by changing the words in the judge’s ruling or, omitting a comma; may mean the difference between life and death.  Ensuring the accurate reproduction of the original court ruling is, therefore, a solemn responsibility.  Only those publishers officially contracted with the state have been given that responsibility.  It is their work which can be trusted, and their work which, therefore, can be cited in subsequent submissions to the court.

Justicia.com is not an official publisher of court cases in any state or issuing from the federal bench.  Therefore, the law you cite related to false publication of official documents, does not apply to them.

The second point I want to make seems to me would have been self-evident.  In the same way we urge people not to look to, say, Barack Obama for self-authentication – after all, he said he was Constitutionally eligible for the job of President but, we don’t just believe him – you are now urging me to believe Justia has some innate value because its owner says, the product his company offers is so good, even lawyers use it (along with high school students).

Again, I want to thank you for this second email insisting I was wrong to fob off hyperbolic charges against Justia.com raised by you and Leo, among others. Because in the past, I had only supported my dismissal of these ridiculous charges against the company by saying, they are not official publishers of state or federal court decisions and so, can post anything they want.  Now, I have taken the time to explain myself more fully and thereby not only validated my position but also, undoubtedly, educated people as to how our government works.


Imagine, all of this time spent just to prove the fallacy that a legal definition exists as to what is a NBC; while, since 2008, no new state election laws mandating that the state may only print on the ballot the names of those candidates it determines are qualified for the job; or requiring that Electors may only elect a President whose name the state has printed on the ballot.

UPDATE 10.30.11:  Well, it would appear Leo read my post, which establishes that his hyperbolic campaign of moral outrage against Justia is misplaced.  Then, instead of honing his methodology, he sought to discredit my criticism.

I tried to assuage readers ostensibly outraged by the ‘conspiracy’ Leo has been championing involving Justia, namely, that various on-line versions of Justia cases appear to have edited out references or links which he claims support what I insist is his mistaken opinion, under the language of Minor v. Happersett, President Obama cannot be said to be a NBC. I said that, citations to Justia are not even allowed in legal submissions to the court, as Justia is not an “official” publisher of court cases in any state.  Following my post, Leo posted another article on the subject, vainly trying to shore up his baseless argument by artificially inflating Justia’s position within the legal community.  Specifically, in order to ‘prove’ that lawyers really do count on Justia, he cited to a reference he claims appeared on the web site operated by Perkins Coie, Bob Bauer’s firm, which Leo characterizes as first class legal practitioners. (Of course, notwithstanding the lawyers at PC might be bright, this does not mean, they are honest; or that, if Leo is correct, that is, if Justia is rigging its cases so as to benefit Obama, Perkins Coie would never have assisted such subterfuge by touting their services! (See, for example, COUNSEL for DNC SERVICES CORPORATION PERFORMS 3 CARD MONTE* for FEDERAL COURT; and COUNSEL for DNC SERVICES CORPORATION PERFORMS 3 CARD MONTE* for FEDERAL COURT)  It certainly does not mean, anyone from Perkins Coie would cite to a case published in Justia as legal precedent in a document prepared for submission to the court.)

Yes, Leo, lawyers tout whatever legal publication services they want.  Indeed, I have often steered readers to both cases and statutes which appear on the web site maintained by Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. But even cases and laws posted on Cornell’s site may not be cited (as precedent) in legal briefs.  Of course, if Attorney Courtney Minick, Product Manager at Justia has her way, states will one day abandon their rigid filing requirements and allow citations to their on-line product, abandoning the current practice of allowing into court only citations to those cases published officially by companies contracted with the state.

In his recent post, Fastcase CEO Ed Walters called on American states to tear down the copyright paywall for statutes. States that assert copyright over public laws limit their citizens’ access to such laws and impede a free and educated society. Convincing states (and publishers) to surrender these claims, however, is going to take some time.

A parallel problem involves The Bluebook and the courts that endorse it as a citation authority. By requiring parties to cite to an official published version of a statutory code, the courts are effectively restricting participants in the legal research market. Nowhere is this more evident than in those states where the government has delegated the publishing of the official code to a private publisher, as is the situation in more than half of the states.  Thus, even if the state itself or another company, such as Justia, publishes the law online for free, a brief cannot cite to these versions of the code.


See, even Attorney Minick isn’t saying, Justia’s work merits the award of such state contracts!

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