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California Judge Routes Campaign Robocalls Through Colorado 191

Posted by timothy
from the parsing-the-point-finely dept.
Thomas Hawk writes "Victoria Kolakowski, a current sitting law judge at the California PUC, is running for Alameda Superior Court judge in California. As part of her campaign she is robodialing people in California with a pre-recorded message. The only problem is that in Califorina robodials are actually illegal unless first introduced by a non-recorded natural person who gains consent to play the call. Ironically, the agency set up to protect our privacy and enforce this law, the California PUC, is the very agency where Kolakowski works today. Kolakowski originally apologized for the calls but then later deleted messages on her Facebook account from people objecting to her use of these calls. Now Kolakowski is trying to argue that because 'technically' she is routing her calls through Colorado from outside the state that her robodials are actually legal."
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California Judge Routes Campaign Robocalls Through Colorado

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  • Re:go figure. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msobkow (48369) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:34PM (#32477340) Homepage Journal

    Call centers are our main customers at my current job. You wouldn't believe how creative people get, trying to bypass the laws that restrict use of certain dialing technologies (robo-dialers, predictive dialers, progressive dialers, etc.) As a software provider we have to implement options that support those legal restrictions, but a huge number of clients want to know how to disable those features because they've come up with a creative reason why the law doesn't apply to them. We advise them not to do it, but in the end, it's the call center that's in control.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:36PM (#32477358)

    Though this is for a State Commission, and subject to Ca. rule of law, wouldn't campaigning across Federal Districts be, a no-no? Much less an ethics violation.

    Can we get a lawyer in here?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:48PM (#32477430)

    Here in AZ, one thing they got right was to appoint judges, which cuts out most of this type of campaigning crap. The list of appointees from which the governor chooses is drawn up by the judicial nominating commission, a bipartisan body that consists of lawyers AND nonlawyers. This allows a consensus to be reached as to who is at least _competent_ enough to be appointed. After 2 years of serving on the bench, judges face a retention election, and every 6 years thereafter they are up for another retention election. Usually, the only time the retention elections receive much public attention is when a judge has gone off the deep end in some respect and faces being dumped by the voters. IANAL, but many law professionals around the country hold the AZ judicial appointment process in very high regard, as it produces quality appointments without most of the partisan garbage present in judicial elections.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr AT mac DOT com> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:50PM (#32477438) Journal

    We do not need weasels on the bench, or acting as officers of the court in any capacity. This woman is a disgrace to her profession.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:24PM (#32477670)

    If they can't even obey the rules of the campaigns, then revoke their right to even run!

    Oath breakers SUCK

  • Re:go figure. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thomas Hawk (796343) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @04:52PM (#32478318)
    I was the one that Kolakowski robodialed. I am not an "established business associate, customer, or other person having an established relationship with" her, therefore this exception would not apply to her. If you want to try and argue that the same political party would constitute an "established" relationship (which is a total stretch) then in order to be of my same party, Kolakowski would have to be a registered Libertarian like I am. I doubt she is. But here again, if political party affiliation was enough, then couldn't someone who was a Democrat simply robodial all of the Democrats in California with an unsavory auto warranty scam phone call? As I read this law there is no wiggle room at all. She is breaking the law and she should admit it, apologize and pledge not to use robodialers in the state of California in the future. If she'd like to use them then she needs to work to change the laws in the State to allow them, rather then simply ignore a law that she doesn't like or that is inconvenient for her. But even if she can find some wiggle room or some minor technicality to skate by the intent of this law, certainly the ethical thing for a candidate for judge to do would be to abide by the spirit of the law which is to stop these annoying and harassing cals in the State of California.
  • Re:Elected judged (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sycorob (180615) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @04:55PM (#32478344)

    Do you guys not have issues with judges/sheriffs/etc being the buddies of the elected officials? The supposed advantage of having these officials elected is that you can boot them if they're not doing their job.

    John "Heckuva job" Brown was appointed by Bush, and that didn't work out great.

  • Re:go figure. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by faedle (114018) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @04:57PM (#32478352) Homepage Journal


    Isn't the stance of the Libertarian party that such laws are a violation of people's freedom of speech and "robocalls" should be legal?

  • Re:go figure. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thomas Hawk (796343) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @06:18PM (#32478936)
    I have no idea how the Libertarian party feels about robo calls. But me personally, I hate them. The Libertarian party best represents most of my major politica views though.
  • Re:go figure. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Sunday June 06, 2010 @09:44PM (#32480018)

    I'm guessing (based upon general libertarian principles, not knowledge of the Libertarian party's stance) that they would be opposed to a blanket ban on robocalls on the grounds you state. I would also guess that they would very much support the do-not-call list applying to all unsolicited calls (correct me if I'm wrong, but right now political calling is exempt), as people should have the right to be free of harassment if they choose.

    So I would guess that technically you're right that they think such calls should be legal, but in practice their ideal rules would make them illegal anyway, just via different means.

  • Re:go figure. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by micheas (231635) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @10:56PM (#32480400) Homepage Journal

    The established relationship is voter, candidate.

    That would be like saying that a spammer/customer relationship is satisfied by the fact that the spammer was selling toilet paper and the recipient was a user of toilet paper.

    As a vendor of toilet paper, I may be free to spam my existing customer base, but I'm not free to spam yours (or any other potential customers that aren't already engaging me an existing and ongoing relationship).

    With that in mind, even if we could assume that just by the fact that a voter voting for her automatically satisfies the requisite relationship criteria, there is still no way for her to know who voted for her and who voted for another candidate.

    The judge is going to be hired or not hired based in part on Thomas Hawks vote.

    If someone has the ability to fire you, you have a relationship with them.

    Unfortunately for the judge, this was like someone calling when the application page says do not call about this job.

    You can do it, you are not going to get hired.

  • Re:go figure. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:49AM (#32480948)
    I'd like to think an enterprising telco would stand up as the "spam free" carrier, and block calls similar to how gmail filters email. If it truly was what people wanted then there would be demand, and other telco's would follow suit.
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:17AM (#32481342) Journal

    My time is far more valuable than that of the agent on the other end of the phone.

    Your time may be valuable to you but it's not as valuable to them unless you make it expensive for them. They already work the costs of the hangup and auto dialer into the fees so you are not making a dent in their bottom line. However, take an employee and put him in a position that he can only make one or two calls an hour with little to no effectiveness and you have essentially changed their entire business model and it will require them to either stop robocalling, take you off the list, or hire more employees and up the costs of the service- most likely to the point it won't be used because of the costs.

    Sure, your American Idol is important to you. But do the world a favor and skip a couple hours of TV and make a telemarketing firm's life hell. You will be doing yourself and the country/world a huge favor. And I will be thinking good things about you the next time a telemarketer doesn't call me.

  • Re:go figure. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @08:08AM (#32482628)

    I suspect this would fall into a gray area for most Libertarians (like me). While natural law rights (free speech for example) are very important, so are property rights, so someone hijacking my phone with voice-spam could go either way. It would be logical for a Libertarian to assert that voice-spam is "an initiation of force" against me and my property (my phone), so I don't think there's any inconsistency.

  • by Uncle Rummy (943608) on Monday June 07, 2010 @11:52AM (#32485488)

    do the world a favor and skip a couple hours of TV and make a telemarketing firm's life hell.

    You know what would be awesome? If somebody were to set up a phone bank to which we could forward telemarketing calls to tie up the agents' time without having to actually stay on the phone feigning interest. It wouldn't have to be too fancy - just a basic IVR that did something like this:

    Joe Blow: Hello?
    Telemarketer: Hello! My name is Jim and I'm...
    Joe Blow: Oh, hi Jim. Can you hold on a sec? I want to forward you to my other phone because I don't like to keep this line tied up. It'll just take a sec.
    Telemarketer: Uh, sure, no problem.
    [forward to 555-whatever]
    [ring ring]
    IVR: Thanks for waiting - I really need to keep that other line open. So what can I do for you?
    Telemarketer: Oh, uh, as I was saying, my name is Jim and I'm calling on behalf of...
    IVR: Oh, oops - can you hold on a second? Somebody's at the door. Be right back, thanks!
    Telemarketer: Oh, um... ok
    ...[random delay between 1 and 5 minutes]...
    IVR: Sorry, I'm back. My neighbor Shirley is looking for her dogs again. Ha ha ha ha ha.
    Telemarketer: Oh, no problem sir. So, as I was saying, I'm calling on behalf of The Human Fund. We see that you donated...
    IVR: Oh, crap. I have to get the roast out of the oven. Can you hold on a sec again? Sorry - thanks!
    Telemarketer: Uhhh, ok I guess...
    ...[random delay]...

    ...and so on. Surely such a service wouldn't be too terribly expensive or difficult to run these days, would it?

One has to look out for engineers -- they begin with sewing machines and end up with the atomic bomb. -- Marcel Pagnol