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Judge Paul Ridgeway Rules Witnesses can be Sworn in With Quran

One of our local (Wake County) Judges has ruled that witnesses in court can now be "sworn in" with just about any religious text, including the Quran.  I completely agree with this decision and applaud Judge Paul Ridgeway for the courage to do the right thing.

Interestingly, the stories don't mention that witnesses already have the ability to "affirm" to tell the truth when being "sworn in."  This was an accomodation for people who's faith did not allow them to "swear" on the bible.

It only makes sense that a witness can provide their own religious text upon which to swear they will tell the truth.  I guess the point of the excercise is that if you truly beleive in the teachings of the bible, you would not want to offend God by lying.  So if you don't belive in the Bible as holy scripture, shouldn't you be able to swear on something you do believe in?

Honestly, I think this decision is only news because it involves the Quaran and Muslims.  Had we been talking about the King James v. the New King James v. English Standard v. New American Standard v. Revised Standard (RSV) v. New Revised Standard, etc, no one would have cared.  Of course, many folks argue over the "validity" of each of those translations of the bible.

I think Judge Ridgeway saw through the politics of the controversy, and realized that anything that promotes the real search for truth, would suffice. 

From the Greensboro News-Record

Muslims can now swear on the Quran when called as witnesses in North Carolina courtrooms, a Wake County judge ruled Thursday.

The decision represents a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina , which sued the state after two Guilford County judges rejected an offer from an Islamic center to provide county courthouses with free copies of the Quran.

"The highest aim of every legal contest is the search for truth," Wake Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway wrote in an 18-page opinion. "To require pious and faithful practitioners of religions other than Christianity to swear oaths in a form other than the form most meaningful to them would thwart the search for the truth.

"It would elevate form over substance."

The Guilford County judges argued that North Carolina law only allowed oaths to be taken on the Bible. Ridgeway agreed that a phrase in the law governing oaths, "Holy Scriptures," refers to the Bible, but he cited other case law that would allow a Muslim to swear on the Quran.

Chris Nichols 1.800.906.5984

MySpace to Begin Sharing Information on Sex Offenders

I think this is a decent idea, in general terms, though I doubt that it will do much to actually prevent predatory practices. 

Realistically, if a sexual predator is being "smart" they will have no real identifying information on their MySpace profile.  Given the absolute ease of setting up free and virtually untraceable email accounts, I don't see any way for MySpace and the Attorney General's office to "trace" predators to MySpace.  About the only thing that i can think of would be to require sexual predators to register their ISP Providers and addresses, and trace the original source of the profile that way.

I'll be interested to see if this actually "eliminates" any predators.  It is one thing to prevent predators from coming near schools and libraries.  The Internet is just so unregulatable, and is essentially one "big" play gorund for kids, and those who seek them.

MySpace to share sex offender data with states

RALEIGH, N.C. - Faced with legal demands from several state attorneys general, said Monday it will immediately begin sharing data on the registered sex offenders it has identified and removed from the popular social networking Web site.

MySpace balked last week when attorneys general from eight states, including Ohio, demanded it provide data on how many registered sex offenders are using the site and where they live.

The company said federal privacy laws required the states to file subpoenas or other legal requests before it could release the information. MySpace general counsel Mike Angus said company officials met with North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal last week to sort out the details of those requests.

"We hope to get requests from every state," Angus said. "From day one, we have preserved all the information in the hopes of getting these requests."

MySpace, owned by media conglomerate News Corp., obtained the data from Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. The companies partnered in December to build a database with information on sex offenders in the United States, and Angus said MySpace has already used the database to remove about 7,000 profiles out of a total of about 180 million.

The companies "developed 'Sentinel Safe' from scratch because there was no means to weed (sexual predators) out and get them off of our site," Angus said.

Last week, attorneys general in North Carolina, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania asked for the Sentinel data. The company initially refused, saying the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act required the states to file a subpoena or similar legal request before it could release the data.

North Carolina filed a civil investigative demand Monday, and states including Ohio, New York and Connecticut also pursued subpoenas. Blumenthal said his subpoena "compels this information right away - within hours, not weeks, without delay - because it is vital to protecting children."

Cooper said the information from the Sentinel system could potentially be used to look for parole violations or help in investigations. He said lawmakers in North Carolina are considering legislation that would further restrict access to social networking Web sites, including one that would require parents' permission for minors to set up a profile.


Chris Nichols 1.800.906.5984

NC Trial Law Blog hits 10,000

I'm happy to say that today turned "10,000" so to speak.  I've had 10,000 visitors since the "launch" of the Blog last August.

Honestly, I have no idea if this is "good" or not, but it averages out to about 30 new visits per day, so I think in general, it's been a good thing.

For those very few that subscribe to an RSS feed, sorry I've not been posting a whole lot lately.  I had a month long trial in Charlotte, back in March, and that kept me pretty busy for the two months before, and the two months after.

I'll be posting some new lien resources in the next few weeks, and I'm working on a neat little software package that might just help the lawyers out there.

As always, send me your suggestions by email to [email protected], if you have them.

Chris Nichols

10000_hits 1.800.906.5984