More legal threads with story potential

I’m continuing my roundup of a few recent stories with tremendous story potential.

NPR reports on the election results approving recreational pot use in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, DC — joining Colorado and Washington. How will legal plot use affect your characters? Careful in DC, though — Congress must approve all new laws passed there.

My first jury trial was defending — successfully — a commercial fisherman charged with fishing in a closed area. Our defense was that he’d been fishing in a legal area, emptied his net and discovered a rip, then drifted into a closed area while repairing his net. It’s not illegal to be in a closed area if you’re not actively fishing. But he didn’t try to dump the fish he’d caught. NPR reports on arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the case of a fisherman who dumped his fish to avoid a federal conviction — and who now argues that the law being used to convict applies to the destruction of documents, not fish. It’s a question of statutory interpretation, coupled with evidence of bad intent, but it’s also a good illustration of legal arguments — and how destruction of evidence cases are treated.

I’ve written before about arbitrators, mediators, and administrative law judges. Can you use one in your story? Here’s an example: Former NFL running back Ray Rice filed a grievance over his ban from the league for beating his girlfriend unconscious in an elevator and dragging her body out. NPR profiles Barbara Jones, the independent arbiter presiding over the case. Update: Jones concluded that the NFL had already punished Rice once and could not punish him a second time without evidence of more wrong-doing. The law is procedural, as well as substantive.

Stories are all around us. So are characters, bits of backstory, complications, and speedbumps. Use ’em.

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