- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2003

Nobles: Miguel Estrada, for his dignified withdrawal from a princely opportunity. Nothing in is life became him like the leaving it,” wrote Shakespeare of the Thane of Crawdor in his play Macbeth. That certainly is not the case of Mr. Estrada, who withdrew from his nomination to a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia with the same quite dignity he endured during the dragged-out process.

Mr. Estrada had put his life on hold for two years, waiting and hoping that the Senate would see fit to confirm him for the position. Certainly he was fit to serve. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from New York’s Columbia University and earned his law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he also was an editor of Harvard Law Review. He served as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and later argued 15 cases before Justice Kennedy and his fellows on that bench. While his accomplishment of all of that by age 40 would have been impressive under any circumstance, Mr. Estrada did not learn English until age 17, after he arrived in the United States from his native Honduras.

Although Mr. Bush had promised to keep fighting, Mr. Estrada decided that he had been in a holding pattern for long enough. He wrote Mr. Bush, “The time has come to return my full attention to the practice of law and to regain the ability to make long-term plans for my family,” mentioning neither the insults hurled at him nor the filibusters he endured.

Mr. Estrada was walking away from more than a highly visible, highly influential judicial seat. He was widely seen as a possible Supreme Court nominee, and while he still could be picked, that prospect seems rather more uncertain.

For suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with princely dignity, Mr. Estrada is the noble of the week.

Knaves: John Zuccarini, perverted purveyor of ad sticks and porn clicks.

Mr. Zuccarini is one of the few individuals who can claim with justification to have actually built a better mousetrap. And, yes, the world has beaten a path to his door — mostly to serve him with subpoenas, and cease and desist orders.

Mr. Zuccarini perfected the technique of computer mousetrapping, of sending a barrage of advertisements whenever certain Web sites are visited. Many of those sites are ads for gambling or pornography, and when the Web surfer attempts to go backward or delete the ads, additional barrages are launched. Even more insidiously, Mr. Zuccarini’s sites also contained an invisible timer, which periodically launched additional advertising salvos.

Mr. Zuccarini turned his mousetraps into man traps by registering more than 5,500 copycat Web addresses, which are only subtly different from the real ones — often the only difference was a missing letter or a transposed term. For instance, he registered britineyspears.com, kevinspacy.com., and jeffgordan.com. He also registered numerous other addresses related to Disneyland, the Teletubbies and other children’s characters.

No wonder that his list of legal suitors reads like a who’s who of who to avoid in court. He has lost many of his domain names in legal challenges and much of his money in court orders. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission ordered him to return almost $1.8 million in “ill-gotten gains.” Mr. Zuccarini many not miss the money, since he is estimated to have earned up to $1 million annually for his antics.

He might not make much more. This week, he was arrested and charged with purveying pornography to children under a provision of the Amber Alert legislation, the first prosecution under the statue. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison.

Any way one looks at it, Mr. Zuccarini’s business was tawdry and exploitive. It would be wholly appropriate if the creator of such a rancid mousetrap spent several years nibbling dry crusts while locked in a trap of his own devising.

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