Is San Diego Lawyer Mary Frances Prevost Unhinged?

JoAnne Musick is not only a contributing writer at Fault Lines, but the past-president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, maybe the best local criminal defense bar association in the nation.  So when a Houston lawyer, Brian Roberts, found that a post he wrote had been reposted without permission, JoAnne stood up for him, because that’s what honest lawyers do for other honest lawyers.

A lawyer stealing a post? Not exactly a new phenomenon. But there is a secondary phenomenon which takes a disgraceful situation and makes it worse.  There are two choices when a lawyer is caught red-handed stealing someone else’s posts. You can apologize for being a worthless scoundrel who lacks the capacity to write for herself, or you can be Mary Frances Prevost.

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Well sure, lots of people who lack the minimal competence to produce writing of their own steal the efforts of others to slime the internet with other people’s thoughts. And even though it’s wrong with attribution to lift a post wholesale, the problem is compounded when the claim that there was attribution isn’t true either.  But then, Prevost’s history with plagiarism is nothing new. Continue reading

Dress Code At University of Chicago? Big Boy Pants

A relatively innocuous retwit of third-wave feminist cartoon character Barry Deutsch caused him such butthurt that he felt compelled to ask that I not “tweet or mention him on my blog again.” This was odd in that, aside from the one retwit that came on my radar because of a Ken White twit, I had forgotten he existed.

I responded to Barry, “Sorry. That’s not how the world works, Barry. Feel free to block me, but I will mention you whenever I please.” And Barry did what has become de rigueur for the deeply sensitive male ally of feminists:

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Ironically, chances were slim to none that I would have mentioned him here, or anywhere else, because he’s insignificant. It’s unsurprising, as children often need the attention of grownups, and will go to desperate lengths to gain it.* Continue reading

Victim Blaming? So The Dentist Claims

The twists and turns of internet intrigue provide a never-ending source of amusement and bewilderment.  When I received a DMCA takedown notice from Carl David Ceder, the Texas Dipshit, he denied knowing anything about it.

He has not yet explained how this DMCA notice was sent (though he insists he doesn’t even know what it is).

Who stole Carl Ceder’s name, email, shoes and license to use his pic?  Heh. Who believes his bullshit is the real question.

But now, it appears to be an epidemic of people stealing other people’s identities to take legal action in their name. From Paul Alan Levy at Public Citizen, the latest victim is dentist Mitul Patel, who got nabbed going after Matthew Chan for leaving a Yelp review that said he pulled a bait and switch on him: Continue reading

When Meanings Morph: Can Statutory Ambiguity Be Manufactured? (Update)

In the discussion surrounding the meaning of the phrase “sex discrimination” in Titles VII and IX, Jonathan Adler at Volokh Conspiracy has taken a different and curious view.  Jonathan contends that the phrase is sufficiently textually vague as to give the regulatory agencies charged with implementation of these laws sufficient leeway to provide their interpretation.  It’s not that it’s vague from an originalist or legislative history perspective, both of which are indisputably clear, but from the text itself. Are the words “sex discrimination” unclear?

This matters because administrative agencies are authorized to interpret ambiguous language in the laws they are charged to administer, and their interpretations are entitled to deference. If, as Jonathan argues, this phrase is in need of clarification, then the interpretations contained in EEOC, Department of Justice and Department of Education “guidance” matter. If not, then they’re blowing hot air.

This doesn’t impact the failure to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act in creating regulations, even if they try to call them guidance to circumvent their legal duties, but the issue Jonathan raises is one of statutory interpretation, which applies to all laws enforced by administrative agencies, and not just the Civil Rights Act. It raises some fascinating questions. Continue reading

Fix-It-Feds

There are few jobs worse than being a member of Congress. One is being a New York City councilman.  At least a congressman gets to vote on laws that have an actual impact, even if they’re just one of 435 votes and have to spend every other waking second begging for donations. But a NYC councilman screams into the void, because the city council has essentially no power to do anything. Cool job if you can get it.

But one would suspect that someone elected to the NYC council, even from Queens, would have a small clue as to how government works. Apparently, that would give them too much credit. In an “exclusive,” the Daily News reports:

A Queens City Councilman is asking the Justice Department to investigate New York’s bail system, after the feds claimed it’s unconstitutional to keep poor defendants in jail because they can’t pay afford to pay bail.

The DOJ filed a friend of the court brief in a Georgia case last week arguing that it was unlawful discrimination against the poor to keep a man arrested for walking while intoxicated locked up because he couldn’t pay the fixed $160 bail for the offense.

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Battle Of The Sexes (Update)

At a minute before midnight, Northern District of Texas Judge Reed O’Connor issued a decision in U.S. v. Texas shutting down implementation of the combined Department of Justice and Department of Education “Guidance” letter directing school districts to accommodate gender identity under Title IX upon pain of losing federal funds. With the school year about to begin, Judge O’Connor issued a nationwide injunction against the government enforcing its rules.

The rationale behind Judge O’Connor was nothing shocking or outrageous, despite advocates’ efforts to spin it so. These were the same arguments raised here, that these are regulations issued in circumvention of the Administrative Procedure Act, without notice and comment, and that the executive agencies grossly overstepped their authority by redefining Title IX (as well as Title VII) to convert the prohibition on “sex discrimination” into a prohibition against discrimination on gender identity.*

Almost all of the reaction to Judge O’Connor’s ruling focused on the propriety of opening bathrooms to transgender students, reminiscent of how the commentary about the Gawker demise focused on how awful Gawker was. These are policy issues, questions of what law people would prefer, rather than what the law is. Regardless of how one feels about transgender discrimination, the question of whether it’s prohibited by Titles VII and IX is entirely different.

As has been argued here, and held by Judge O’Connor, the executive agencies have pulled an agenda out of their butts, shoehorned it into existing law by dissembling, and sold it to a progressive public that wants the outcome without regard to the fact that there is no law behind it.  Continue reading

WaPo Beats The 1st Amendment Strawman To Death

In an editorial, the Washington Post has come out in favor of Rep. Jackie Speier’s federal revenge porn law. Like everyone else, they decry the harm that revenge porn, in its worst sense, can cause:

Too often, people put explicit images of former partners online to hurt and harass them, sometimes along with information that can lead to stalking and threats. Because not every state has a law barring the practice, many perpetrators go unpunished. A bill in the House of Representatives could help deter the behavior.

This isn’t particularly controversial, although its advocates prefer to tar anyone who mentions the fact that these laws not only capture the “perpetrators” they want so badly to get, but many others they don’t. Shh. Don’t mention that part or they will call you revenge porn apologists. That’s what advocates do if you don’t tell them how special they are.

In its effort to address and deflect the myriad criticisms raised by these attempts to create a law that sacrifices innocent people and free speech so that no “perpetrator goes unpunished,” WaPo does the classic strawman shtick. Continue reading

Killer Shrinks

There is no medical science more squishy than psychiatry/psychologytherapy. This isn’t to say that psych impairment isn’t real, or that psychiatrists and psychologiststherapists aren’t effective in treating it, whether by drugs or therapy, but that it sucks at drawing clear lines. Yet, judges have tried to create lines where none exist forever when it comes to who gets to live and die based upon what’s happening in people’s minds.

Texas was six days off from killing a guy, Jeff Wood, who never killed anyone. His conviction was based on the theory of prosecution of felony murder. It’s an old doctrine, even though most people know nothing about it. What was new was that Wood was the first person to be sentenced to death for it. His execution was stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to consider whether the death jury was “improperly” influenced by psychiatrist James Grigson.

Nicknamed “Dr. Death” for his willingness to testify against capital murder defendants, Grigson was a witness in hundreds of death penalty cases. His pleasant manner, down-to-earth vocabulary and air of certainty helped persuade juries that the defendant — just about every defendant — would kill again if given the chance. That Grigson often had not met with the defendant did not deter him from forming an opinion about him and defending it to the hilt.

Grigson was a killer witness, and, even though he died at 72, Texas courts are still dealing with the fallout. What made him so effective, which is why prosecutors used him, is that he knew how to play a jury and there wasn’t a defendant against whom he testified who didn’t need killin’.  Prosecutors would use his combination of skills to do everything possible to assure the defendant would be sentenced to death. Continue reading

Sorority Girls* Make A Federal Case Of It

Many legal disputes seem so terribly important to the litigants, while remarkably petty to outsiders, but few are as ridiculously insignificant as this battle between two sisters of Alpha Sigma Alpha at Penn State. That didn’t stop them from going to federal court.

Molly Brownstein, a Pennsylvania State University senior, and her family describe her roommate Rachel Lader as a classic mean girl – a “monster” and an “expert bully, with a Ph.D. in intimidation.”

Lader denies this and paints Brownstein as a coddled whiner, quick to turn to her parents to solve problems she created with her own standoffish behavior.

Harsh. It must be horrifying, exhausting, to be a sister of this sorority. Sorry, it’s wrong of me to trivialize their pain. Continue reading

It’s Not About The Tie: Transgender v. Religious Freedom

As efforts to use litigation to compensate for congressional action/inaction continue, clashes persist that give rise to outcomes that create difficult, if not impossible, conflicts with current progressive trends. Judge Sean Cox’s decision in EEOC v. Harris Funeral Homes presents such a clash, and reaction to the opinion does the public no favors.

Religious freedom is a valid defense for a Michigan business owner who fired a trans woman after she asked to dress in accordance with her gender identity, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox said that the funeral home deserved an exemption from complying with the law because compliance “would impose a substantial burden on its ability to conduct business in accordance with its sincerely-held religious beliefs.”

That language is lifted from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law that protects individuals from government action that may “substantially burden” their religious tenets. Rost had raised it as a defense in the litigation.

That Rost was able to fall back on Religious Freedom Restoration Act was a quirk of the case, as the action was prosecuted by the EEOC on behalf of the employee. Had the employee sued on his own behalf, it would not have been available, as it only applies to the government’s imposition of a burden on a person’s free exercise of religious belief. Continue reading

Don’t Law Firms Even Care About Diversity?

Even a blind squirrel finds an occasional nut, and so this post at the Social Justice Law Blog raised a surprisingly interesting point.

Whenever I apply for a job at a major company, their job application website states that the company is an equal opportunity employer. And for those who want to learn more, they provide a link to their equal opportunity policy statement. Most of these policy statements sound the same and at times use very technical terms. This leads me to believe that these policy statements are there for legal reasons. I also find it amusing when they ask for your ethnic background for “statistical purposes.” I’m sure that’s the reason.

Alright, granted that stuff somebody named Shannon Achimalbe finds amusing isn’t interesting to anyone but her, but bear with me.

Over the years, there have been calls by thought leaders to increase diversity in the workforce. While businesses tried and succeeded on various levels to improve the numbers of minorities on their payroll, the legal sector has been slow and reluctant to do so. As noted by Renwei Chung, Above the Law’s diversity columnist, law firms are perceived to have the lowest commitment to diversity when it comes to hiring and retention.

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An Acquitted Black Man Is Guilty Because Gay Says So

This black guy was tried and acquitted in 1999. Throw a parade? The system worked? How often do we decry racism in the legal system, the chances that an innocent black man will be wrongfully convicted. But not this time. This time, the defendant was acquitted.

Sure, criminal defense lawyers will applaud the fact that a jury tested the allegations and concluded that they failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Sure, we will explain why the presumption of innocence remains intact, that this man, this black man, is innocent, as in everyone who is not convicted of a crime. Because this is how the system works. Because this is our legal system as its best.

And certainly the social justice warriors, while clueless as to the legal aspects of trials and acquittal, will stand behind this innocent black man and praise this outcome, right?  The mere “technicalities” of law, that they either embrace or ignore according to the outcomes their religion dictates, favor this innocent defendant, because systemic racism is a tenet of their belief system. But no. Not this time.

The High Priestess of Feelings, Roxane Gay, cannot muster the empathy. As for the intelligence, she doesn’t bother to try, inherently realizing it’s a lost cause. Continue reading