Prosecutors Have No Immunity From Ethics

Let’s be clear up front. The Code of Professional Responsibility, or whatever it’s called in your jurisdiction, is a minimal floor of ethical responsibility for the legal profession. It’s not very demanding. It doesn’t ask much of us. It barely scratches the surface of actual ethics, and it takes so little to comply. So expecting lawyers who happen to work for a governmental entity and call themselves prosecutors to adhere to it really isn’t much to ask.

Yet, as the New York Times editorial says, they’re treated as if they’re untouchable.

Prosecutors are among the most powerful players in the criminal justice system. They can send a defendant off to years in prison, or even to death row. Most wield this power honorably. Yet, when prosecutors don’t, they rarely pay a price, even for repeated and egregious misconduct that puts innocent people behind bars.

Continue reading

The Red Flag of “Loud and Proud”

It’s cool. It’s hip. It’s happening. Even @Jack did it. So what could go wrong?

For Gabby Ianniello, it was the blisters from putting on stilettos every morning for her real estate job, which had called employees back to the office last fall. For Giovanna Gonzalez, it was those three little letters, R.T.O., coming from her investment management boss. For Tiffany Knighten, it was finding out that a teammate’s annual salary was over $10,000 higher than hers for a role at her level.

They were fed up. They were ready to resign. And they wanted their TikTok followers to know.

Continue reading

Exigency, Manufactured

Among the tactics used to investigate a crime, one of the easiest and most useful is “knock and talk,” where agents without a warrant go to the home of a suspect, knock on the door and see what comes of it. Since they need no warrant to knock on a door like anyone else, it suffers from neither the need to show probable cause and the effort to prepare papers, nor judicial review. And people being people, it’s remarkably effective because people just can’t  manage to just say “no.”

As part of an investigation named “Operation Dark Room,” federal agents discovered financial ties between Meyer and individuals in the Philippines who were livestreaming sex acts involving children. To gather more information, two agents decided to visit Meyer at his home and knock on his door. During the course of the conversation, which took place in the agents’ car, Meyer revealed a number of facts that aroused suspicion, including that he had personal and financial ties to the individuals involved in the abuse. When he further admitted that he used a computer and cellphone to contact them, the agents asked if he would be willing to turn those devices over for an examination.

Continue reading

Seaton: Dispatches From The Field, Part II

When we last left your humble humorist, he was touring Uzbekistan helping legless pig farmers resettle into their native homeland. Vowing a vacation on his return, we now rejoin our intrepid adventurer…

SHG:

This is the worst vacation ever, and I had to spend an entire week with the in-laws once.

So the IDEA was for me to return from Uzbekistan to the States by way of Florida, where I would meet my family and enjoy a nice little beach trip prior to Thanksgiving. Continue reading

The Lawyer Lottery

There are better criminal defense lawyers and worse criminal defense lawyers. There are lawyers who care and lawyers who don’t. There are lawyers who have the time and lawyers who are too busy to be able to do what needs to be done. There are incompetent lawyers. Most don’t know, or won’t admit, they suck at law. Many will fight to their last breath to argue they don’t. If only they would put that level of energy into fighting for their clients.

You can’t discuss this problem without inviting outrage from whatever interest group gets poked. And to be fair, there are incompetent lawyers across the board, from retained counsel to indigent defense to public defenders. Sometimes it’s due to circumstances, lack of time or money, carrying too high a caseload or getting too little compensation to pay for the time and resources needed. Continue reading

WaPo Announces “Roe Is Dead”

My wife came home yesterday and told me that the guy on the radio said the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. I calmly told her they didn’t reverse anything, but held oral argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. She was unconvinced, so we turned on the news. It was a bit fuzzier, but made the clear point that it wasn’t “if,” but “how” the Supreme Court would reverse Roe. She gave me that face, the one that says “so everybody else is wrong and you’re right?”

I get that face a lot. Continue reading

Short Take: Use or Mention Of The N-Word

As I’ve made clear in the past, I don’t use it. Not because I can’t. My mouth can form the word. Not even because my buddy Elie tells me I’m never allowed to. Elie’s got a lot of rules like that. It’s simply a matter of choice, and I choose not to. But that doesn’t mean others can’t, including University of Rochester Prof David Bleich or Harvard Law Prof Randall Kennedy, who made it really hard to avoid given the title of his book,

Bleich teaches, of all things, about race and gender, and in the course of his instruction, he read from Kennedy’s writings. Verbatim.

This semester, Professor Bleich is teaching a class on Gender and Anger. He read aloud from a short story that had been assigned to the class. The portion of the text he read included the n-word. Students objected, and there was a vigorous conversation about the use of the word. In a subsequent class, Professor Bleich read to the students a section of Harvard Law School Professor Randall Kennedy‘s Chronicle of Higher Education article on the use of the n-word in classroom settings.

Continue reading

When Cops Do The Damage, Is It A Taking?

Of all the houses on all the streets in Greenwood Village, Colorado, Robert Jonathan Seacat had to pick Leo Lech’s. To save a child they (wrongly) believed was held captive in the house, police pretty much destroyed the place.

Well, we did what we had to do.

Whether that was so is disputable, but what was not disputable is that the Tenth Circuit held that the Village was not liable for the damage the cops caused to Lech’s home because it was a proper use of the “police power,” an exception to the Fifth Amendment’s “takings clause,” which provides “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Continue reading

Tuesday Talk*: Are “Minor-Attracted People” A Subject For Discussion?

It’s a funny joke, and not a joke at all.

What do you call someone who knows the difference between pedophilia and ephebophilia? A pedophile.

Assistant prof Allyn Walker doesn’t call them pedophiles, but MAPs, minor-attracted people. It’s not a new approach, just as ex-cons are now “previously-incarcerated persons,” where adding more words to the description is intended to break from derogatory words and humanize the individuals. But these are pedos, and why would anyone want to humanize pedos? Continue reading

Thoroughly Uncontroversial Policing

Two cops approached 23-year-old Charlie Vazquez in the Bronx.

The officers were responding to a 911 call for a person with a gun about 8 p.m. near E. 187th St. and Beaumont Ave. in Belmont.

When Officers Alejandra Jacobs and Robert Holmes arrived, they found Charlie Vasquez, 23, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, sitting on the stoop of an apartment building, police said.

He matched the description from the 911 call “to a T,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a late-night news conference. “Within seconds, they are involved in a gun battle,” he said.

Continue reading