Friday, February 10, 2017

Eyes on the Ninth Circuit court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has been in the headlines this week because of the riveting decision tasked to a three-judge panel regarding the White House’s now-blocked travel ban. But the storied court in San Francisco is certainly no stranger to America’s front page news.

Not only has the legendary Ninth Circuit got the most districts and the most judges, but it also hears by far the most cases. The docket is a monster.

Currently, the court has appellate jurisdiction over the 13 district courts in seven western states, plus Hawaii and Alaska. It also has jurisdiction over Guam and the District of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Sidney Runyan Thomas is chief judge of this huge circuit, which currently has 29 active judgeships. Of those, 68 percent were appointed by Democratic presidents – which lends to its reputation for liberalism. It was established in 1869 and is headquartered in the historic James R. Browning Building (court house and post office). The building itself is magnificent. The design is influenced heavily by Italian Renaissance style, lavish with white Sierra granite and described as palatial. In 1906, when an earthquake devastated the city, the courthouse remained standing.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hashknife riders sharing Arizona roads

Courtesy of Hashknife Pony Express 
“Hell-bent for leather” – don’t tell me you’ve never heard that expression. If you are driving between Holbrook and the East Valley, Ariz., in the next few days, you may see an authentic example of what that old saying means. 

Pony Express re-enactment riders will be carrying mail along state highways through Friday, Feb. 10, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, mail pouches, real letters and all.

The Hashknife Pony Express riders left Holbrook Wednesday with plans to stop at post offices in Heber-Overgaard, Payson and Fountain Hills on the way to their final destination in downtown Scottsdale on Friday.

The Navajo County Hashknife Sheriff’s Posse leads the ride every January/February. Riders travel 200 miles from Holbrook to Scottsdale, and deliver 20,000 first-class letters by horseback. They’ve been doing this for 60 years. According to the website, this event is the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Will more safety laws decrease traffic deaths?

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recently released its annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws after the United States came off its second consecutive year of increasing traffic deaths. Their solution to traffic deaths: more safety laws.

Before we get into the advocacy group’s report, let’s establish the undeniable facts. More than 35,000 people were killed in crashes in 2015, the largest percentage increase in nearly half a century. Preliminary data for 2016 is not faring any better. More people are dying on the roadways. We can all agree on that.

There are many theories regarding how we as a nation can solve this problem. Here’s Advocates’ solution: “…we cannot forget that state adoption of comprehensive traffic safety laws is the most effective countermeasure to avert crashes, save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs to the public and to the government.”

More specifically, Advocates argues that more state laws need to be enacted. The group claims that “states are missing 376 traffic safety laws,” including seatbelt, helmet, child restraints, teen driver training, impaired and distracted driving laws: