Fines and imprisonment

As I’ve been skimming the DC Code, I’ve started keeping track of provisions that call for “a fine of no more than $387 or imprisonment for not longer than 14 days, or both.” Numbers obviously changed to protect the innocent. Mostly I want to explore the inconsistencies, see what is simply out of date and what reflects priorities, whether good or bad.

Then there’s the occasional head shake, such as DC Code 5-121.03 which calls for a fine of no more than $500 or imprisonment for not longer than “11 months and 29 days.”

But what I want to call to your attention today is an inconsistency that I can’t make heads or tails of. It is DC Code § 7-704.01, which discusses issues related to the long-term care ombudsman. There are three different violations discussed in this section of the Code. Two of them carry a fine of up to $1000 or imprisonment up to 180 days. The third carries a larger fine ($1500) and a much shorter maximum imprisonment (30 days).

I can see how things like that happen when they are in completely separate laws. And in this case, the two $1000/180 day violations were added 22 years after the law was originally passed, so one could claim that they didn’t have the third violation and its penalties in front of them while they were drafting. Not likely. I’ve drafted legislation. You really can’t draft amendments without having in front of you what’s currently in effect. So why not make the the fines/imprisonment consistent? Not necessarily the same, but proportional. Roughly proportional.

Your ideas?

(I have two. The first is carelessness. The second is that it has something to do with criminal laws in DC have a different Congressional review period and possibly other differences in procedure, so amending the original violation was too difficult.)

Over my…

DC Code § 7-201

(3) “Dead body” means a human body or such parts of such human body from the condition of which it may be reasonably concluded that death recently occurred.

Too long for a tweet but oh so good

D.C. Code § 7-205

(d) When a birth occurs on a moving conveyance within the United States and the child is first removed from the conveyance in the District, the birth shall be registered in the District, and the place where it is first removed shall be considered the place of birth. When a birth occurs on a moving conveyance while in international waters, air space, in a foreign country or its air space, and the child is first removed from the conveyance in the District, the birth shall be registered in the District, but the certificate shall show the actual place of birth insofar as can be determined.

UPDATE: Turns out this is model language. The 1992 Model State Vital Statistics Act can be found here, and there is a new Model Act in the review process.

Laws of the Day

Some sections of the DC Code that caught my eye today:

§ 3-1104. Restriction on job training program combined with sprinkler installation program.
Any job training programs chosen to be combined with a sprinkler installation program shall perform their job training activities within the District of Columbia.
§ 3-342.01. Definitions.
For the purposes of this subchapter, the term “Baseball Stadium” shall have the same meaning as that provided for the term “Ballpark” in § 47-2002.05(a)(1)(A).

Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies

Skimming the DC Code and I come across Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies after 1998. The statute gives Council the authority to issue rules, which struck me as kind of…off-putting? since rules are generally the province of the executive/Mayor. But whatever. A bit further along I notice reference to streetcars, and of course we’re in the process of getting streetcars now, again, but in 1998 there weren’t streetcars, so why did the law mention them?

Then I get to Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies after 1956 and it all becomes almost clear. In skimming, I noticed no differences — NONE — (though again, I was only skimming) in content between the two. The only differences were in format.

Why do I say “almost clear”? Because 1. the 1998 law was passed by Congress (which explains the keeping of Council-as-rule-maker, but why wasn’t the law the doing of Council?) and 2. if there’s no difference, then why the new law?

Anyone have insight on this?