Turning the Tide

Letters from the week of January 2, 2003

The reason for this is simple: Judicial branches are not lawmaking bodies; they instead construe laws made by elected state representatives and the citizenry. Moreover, public access to legal-service delivery should not lie exclusively with the judicial branch of government because the interests of organized bars and their members are distinct from those of the public. While the organized bar's interest in unauthorized practice typically rests with whether the work performed by non-lawyers requires legal skills, the public's interest is focused on an accessible and affordable legal-service delivery system. Today, studies indicate that the legal needs of the majority of low- and middle-income households go unmet because legal services are unaffordable.

Legislatures in many states are taking note of this issue. Utah's 2001 legislature had concerns over the lack of access to legal services and charged the judiciary with studying the issue and suggesting changes.

Few non-lawyers would argue against regulation of non-lawyer legal-service providers. The branch of government under which non-lawyer regulation is initiated is what generates serious concern. At a public hearing concerning the Texas State Bar's sunset review audit, bar president-elect Guy Harrison remarked: "I don't think there's any question that the ultimate debate on [unauthorized practice of law] is going to have to take place in the legislature." Similarly, the debate on legal-service delivery and the unauthorized practice of law in Arizona should be held in this state's legislature.

Joan Dalton
Phoenix

Mars Madness

Ground control to ASU: Thank you for the nice article on researchers accusing ASU's THEMIS of fraud ("To Spite the Face," Quetta Carpenter, December 5). I am curious to see if there will be more on this subject. It would be very interesting to have a journalist visit NASA Ames Research Center consultant Keith Laney to examine the two images he downloaded from what he believed was the ASU Web site, and to observe firsthand his use of imaging software to obtain his surprising results.

The next step would be to visit Dr. Philip Christensen, principal investigator at THEMIS, and invite him to demonstrate his Photoshop technique that makes the ASU image look like Mr. Laney's. He might be able to make his degraded image look like Mr. Laney's if ASU had used Photoshop to degrade the image in the first place and then reversed those steps to produce a pristine image identical to the one Mr. Laney got off the Web site. If he is able to produce a duplicate of Mr. Laney's image, he should then be asked to process this image as Mr. Laney did.

Of course, in doing this, he would produce the same unmistakable images Mr. Laney produced -- ones that are eerily similar to those taken by the Russian Mars probe Phobos back in 1989. Obviously, this scenario will not happen. While I believe that Mr. Laney would be cooperative, I bet that Dr. Christensen would not be as forthcoming.

Brian F. Bowie
Via e-mail

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