Tag Archives: new york times

Sea Monkey Legal Battle

From a legal standpoint, the Sea Monkey legal battle is no laughing matter: an ongoing conflict between Yolanda Signorelli von Braunhut, widow of Sea Monkeys “inventor” Harold Nathan Braunhut, and Big Time Toys. Yes, that’s really the company’s name – at least it’s not “Acme.”

Sea Monkey Legal Battle

The backstory, however, is something that Federico Fellini might have created in one of his more eccentric moments.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Ms. von Braunhut now lives in poverty on an estate on the Potomac River, frequently without heat, electricity, or running water.
  • She is being represented by William Timmons, who years ago attended legendary Halloween parties hosted by Ms. von Braunhut’s father, opera singer Maestro Signorelli. It was at these events that Timmons met Yolanda, Signorelli’s second-youngest daughter.
  • In the 1960s, Ms. von Braunhut began a career in bondage films, appearing in “Venus in Furs,” “All Women Are Bad,” “Too Much Too Often!” “Death of a Nymphette,” and “Assignment: Female.” When asked to comment on her film career, Ms. von Braunhut observed:

In those days, they might have been racy, but today? I don’t think so.

  • Husband Harold was quite a unique individual as well. He took out patents on 196 different inventions during the 1950s and 60s, was single-handedly responsible for the products advertised on the back page of comic books, raced motorcycles under the name the Green Hornet, worked as a magician called the Great Telepo, and high-dived into a wading pool filled with 12 inches of water.
  • On the opposing side, Sam Harwell, chief executive of Big Time Toys, is married to Beth Harwell, Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Regardless of the legal outcome, the cast of characters in this legal matter make it well worth following.

Click here to read Jack Hitt’s delightful and informative article in the New York Times.

Supreme Court Appears Divided on Immigration

United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, now before the Supreme Court, concerns Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, which was introduced by the Obama administration in November 2014.

DAPA, if implemented, would allow some four million unauthorized immigrants, who are the parents of citizens or legal permanent residents, to apply for a program that would defer their deportation and allow them to apply for work permits.

Texas and 25 other states have filed suit, claiming that the president has exceeded his authority by proposing this program.

Supreme Court Appears Divided on Immigration

As is often the case, the arguments before the court are based not so much on the moral and ethical questions tied to immigration, but on a legal issue: standing to sue.

Standing to sue requires that the plaintiffs in a case would suffer some substantive injury. In this case, Texas claims that it would be prohibitively expensive to issue drivers’ licenses to the immigrants.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., presenting the administration’s case, argued that Texas had not – or would not – suffer the kind of injury that would give it standing to sue. Justice Sotomayor also questioned the idea that DAPA created a real, financial burden, asking:

Why can’t you just let people wait on line?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s line of questioning suggested he might side with the more conservative members of the court, upholding the plaintiffs’ claim of standing to sue.

A four-to-four decision would leave in place a lower court decision blocking the plan, effectively preventing President Obama from reintroducing DAPA during the remainder of his term. It would also set no Supreme Court precedent, thus allowing for a challenge at some later date, presumably after the appointment of a new Justice to replace Antonin Scalia.

Click here to read the New York Times article.