April 11, 2009

Senator still a link to cinemas past

Thanks for your editorial "City to the rescue" (April 3). There can be no doubt: The Senator Theatre must be saved.

In historic preservation, you must pick your battles, and this is a battle that must be joined and won. Baltimore has lost too many of its historic theaters - the Stanley, Century, Royal and Grand, to name a few.

The Senator is the work of an outstanding Baltimore architect and is one of the best examples of an art-deco neighborhood movie house in the country.

Owner Tom Kiefaber deserves recognition for the love and hard work he has put into the Senator. Critics of his management have no idea the difficulties of running a theater, let alone a single-screen theater.

I hope the city will do the right thing: Save the Senator.

Robert K. Headley, University Park

The writer is the author of several books on the history of movie theaters in Baltimore.

Will Congress stop union intimidation?

Janet Gilbert's column "Protection from whom?" (Commentary, April 6) could not have provided a better argument against the so-called Employee Free Choice Act.

She wrote from experience and defined the intimidating actions that are likely should this legislation pass.

Will employees be protected from the intimidating actions of labor unions and their cronies in the administration?

Or will the U.S. Congress again fail the people, as it has done so frequently this year?

W.C. Harsanyi, Pasadena

Many courts report all of their opinions

Judge Deborah S. Eyler's objections to the publication online of all opinions of the Court of Special Appeals were strikingly unpersuasive ("Court isn't hiding legal reasoning," letters, April 7).

First, she argues that "if all cases were reported, lawyers would not know which ones the court views as legally significant ... and would waste time and their clients' money plowing through avalanches of paper."

But other courts, including the federal appeals courts and the U.S. Tax Court, publish all of their opinions online. And these courts distinguish between opinions that have precedential value (that is, where the reasoning of the opinion is binding on both the issuing court and lower courts within its jurisdiction) and those that do not establish precedent.

One would think that the Court of Special Appeals could adopt similar procedures.

And various search mechanisms available on any office computer have obviated the need to "plow through avalanches of paper."

The privacy concerns expressed by Judge Eyler are similarly misplaced. After all, the cases in which privacy concerns arise represent a small minority of cases before the court.

And if there is material in an opinion that might be considered sensitive if it were identified with a particular individual or family, the identities of the people involved can easily be masked in the opinion.

Appellate courts in Maryland do this now in various sorts of cases, such as juvenile matters, and it would not be burdensome to extend the practice to any case where the privacy of the parties or persons related to them is problematic.

But the transparency we demand of all branches of government requires that all the opinions of the Court of Special Appeals should be widely and easily available to the public.

Stuart Levine, Baltimore

The writer is an attorney who has litigated cases before the Court of Special Appeals.

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