Legal protections that confound the mind |

Legal protections that confound the mind

Jim Porter, Law Review

The ACLU, it seems to me, is on the wrong side of just about every controversial issue. Here’s my latest beef.

Killer haunts victim’s family

Jack Trawick murdered Stephanie Gach, daughter of Mary Kate Gach.

Trawick confessed to kidnapping Stephanie Gach from a shopping mall, taking her to an isolated area where he beat her with a hammer, strangled her and stabbed her through the heart. He was convicted of her murder and others and finally sent to prison. Trawick has yet to exhaust his appeals (at taxpayers’ expense), but don’t get me started.

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While in prison, Trawick has been putting out warped writings that become e-mails on the Net describing how he killed Stephanie Gach and other women. He taunts Mary Kay Gach by name.

The problem with stopping Jack Trawick and others from continuing to live their tortured lives from prison is the free-speech protections of the First Amendment, pushed by the ACLU.

The ACLU’s position is that the First Amendment prevents prison officials from blocking inmates’ outgoing mail, unless it presents a security risk or involves a crime in progress. That’s absurd.

I have said for years that the First Amendment is overrated, meaning it’s being used in a way never imagined by our founding fathers. It is patently obvious that the right to free speech, as argued by the ACLU, was never intended to allow distribution of hate speech like Trawick’s, allow porn purveyors to invade our lives with impunity and prevent Nativity scenes on public property.

Captain Kangaroo

Changing topics, just a little. You all read that Captain Kangaroo, Bob Keeshan, died last week at 76. He looked 76 when I watched him as a kid. Captain Kangaroo first aired in 1955 and ran until 1985.

As an early baby boomer, my best recollections of Bob Keeshan are when he was the first Clarabell on Howdy Doody. The mute clown communicated by honking a horn from a little box at his waist. Now that was a program. Buffalo Bob, Clarabell, Flub-a-Dub, Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring and The Peanut Gallery. Eat your heart out, Miss Piggy.

Barbra Streisand loses

You remember the Law Review describing Barbra Streisand’s lawsuit against Ken Adelman, who photographed the entire California coast and allowed his 12,000 photos to be used as part of the California Coastal Records Project to protect the coast from overdevelopment.

He identified Barbra Streisand’s mansion and she sued, claiming invasion of privacy.

Bab’s goal was privacy. Her lawsuit made sure that didn’t happen.

Handgun design case

I never understood how a gun manufacturer can be found responsible when someone accidentally shoots a friend. The reputable gun manufacturer, Beretta, made a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol with a chamber-loaded indicator, a red dot that pops up on the barrel when a bullet fills the chamber. That’s a big step for gun safety.

Was Beretta rewarded for its novel safety design? No. It was sued for $10 million. So far, two juries have deadlocked on whether an improved chamber-loaded indicator would have saved the boy’s life. In these trials there is no discussion of assumption of liability by the young man who accidentally shot his friend. Remarkable.

Michael Jackson

Next week I have to get Michael Jackson off my chest. The bizarre obsession much of the world has with Michael Jackson taints my ability to write a balanced, thoughtful column, so I won’t even try. But I may have an opinion or two.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter-Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno. He may be reached at or at the firm’s web site


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