Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why do we have the electoral college?

As some of you may know I write for 17 newspapers across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa.  I author a legal advice article in which people will write in with legal questions.  The website is, this question was submitted by three different people so I thought I would also answer it on this blog as well.

Q: Why do we have the electoral college for presidential elections?

*First let me preface this by saying its not the type of question I generally answer, it is not exactly a legal question.  That being said three different people submitted this question so... I'll do my best.

A:  The electoral college was installed for two primary reasons: (1) It was a compromise between very populated states and states without a large population.  It was a compromise between big states and small states.  It was supposed to keep small states from getting dominated by large states.  The idea was to keep candidates from just going to the populous states and leaving out the small states.  (2) You have to remember when the system was set up over 200 years ago the political, economic, and well everything was different than it it now.  The United States didn't have 20 channels of 24/7 news covering everything and broadcasting it out in HD to your TV, computer, and cell phone.  People were worried that some rouge but wealthy, "crazy person" would trick the electorate into voting for them.  The founders were worried that the average man wasn't smart enough to vote.  They set up the electoral college to act as a buffer between the common man and electing the president.  The idea being to save the people from the people.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kansas Lawyer seeks reinstatement after leaking Guantanamo documents

A lawyer that was convicted during a court martial proceeding back in 2007 for leaking secret documents about Guantanamo Bay detainees is trying to get his license to practice law back after what looks like a three year suspension.

Apparently, Mathew Diaz was a Naval officer whom printed off the names of about 500 Guantanamo Bay detainees and sent them to a advocacy group trying to obtain the names of the detainees and provide them legal counsel.

Here is the article in the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Former Navy Lawyer goes before Kansas Supreme Court
By: John Milburn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Navy lawyer who was convicted during a court martial in 2007 for mailing secret information about Guantanamo Bay detainees is seeking to get his law license reinstated in KansasAttorneys for Matthew Diaz will argue on Thursday before the Kansas Supreme Court to accept a recommendation from the Office of Judicial Administration to suspend his law license for three years effective 2008. Because of the timeline, Diaz would be reinstated with the Kansas bar.

The disciplinary hearing panel said Diaz warranted "significant discipline" for his actions, which included the act of printing and sending classified information and sending it to an unauthorized person.
"The respondent (Diaz) mailed the card the day before he left the island so as to reduce his chance of facing consequences for his actions," the hearing panel noted in its filing with the Kansas Supreme Court.

However, disciplinary administrator Stan Hazlett sought for the panel to recommend disbarring Diaz.
Diaz, who was a lieutenant commander in the Navy, is currently living in New York. He earned his law degree in 1994 from Washburn University in Topeka and was admitted to practice law in Kansas.

He is represented by Wichita attorney Jack Focht who argues that Diaz by virtue of his court martial, discharge from the Navy and prison term had been punished enough for his actions.  Focht argues that Diaz was torn between what he believed was his ethical duty to see that the accused terrorists received legal counsel and his duties as a military officer to obey orders.  Prosecutors say Diaz went to his office in January 2005 and used his classified computer to log onto a classified military network and access a database with detainee information. They say he printed information that included the names of 550 detainees, their nationalities, the interrogators assigned to them and intelligence sources and methods.

Diaz then cut the document into 39 sheets that he placed inside a card with a big heart and a Chihuahua on its front and mailed it to Barbara Olshansky, they say.  At the time, Olshansky worked for the Center for Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit legal group that was suing the federal government to obtain the names of detainees because the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled they had the right to challenge their detention.  She turned the document over to federal authorities, and they traced it to Diaz.  According to court documents, Diaz sent the list of names on the day before he was to leave Guantanamo, knowing that if he was no longer on the island he would not have to answer for his actions.

Diaz's attorneys noted that their client had strong feelings toward prisoner rights. When he was 16 years old, his father, who was a nurse, was convicted in Southern California for multiple counts of murder for injecting patients with a lethal dose of Lidocaine. His father was sentenced to death but died of natural causes in prison in 2010.