Author Archives: SHG

Not Only The Dead Keep Secrets

The bullet that struck Hofstra student Andrea Rebello and took her life was a tragedy, but it also set in motion a series of excuses designed to obfuscate what happened and shift blame away from the officer who pulled the trigger at all costs.  Her family’s lawyer, David Roth, wasn’t having any of it.

A State Supreme Court judge has ordered Nassau County police to turn over investigative files to the family of a Hofstra student who died in an off-campus police shooting after an armed robber took her hostage.

Andrea Rebello’s family is entitled to access to the records, which include the entire files from the police department’s homicide squad and internal affairs bureau relating to the deadly shooting on May 17, 2013, Justice Karen Murphy’s order says.

“We’re hopeful that this will shed light on what really happened that night,” said Manhattan attorney David Roth, who filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the county and police in May on behalf of Rebello’s family. “The records will certainly be germane to the claims that we’re making in the case.”

At the outset of every tragedy, there is a call to await the investigation, await the facts, withhold judgment until all the evidence is gathered and then, and only then, will we be capable of assessing fault.  Continue reading

Walking A Month In Her Heels (Update)

For quite a while, I was constrained to accept that my view of what a woman had to endure in her daily life was limited to that of an outsider, and an outsider who wasn’t really around young women very much.  While it was necessarily integrated into my commentary, it was from a distance, and perhaps I was missing too much to offer a meaningful view.

When Lawprof Nancy Leong wrote a post about an interesting experience, to show the “cumulative effect of street harassment,” I eagerly followed. Contrary to popular belief, I want to know more, not just confirm my bias.

One of my former classmates at Stanford Law School has started a new Tumblr — Not Your Fucking Sweetheart — that documents the ongoing problem of street harassment. Her immediate goal is to document a month of street harassment in her life in a major metropolitan area (in this case, Washington DC, which is notorious for street harassment).

The experiment went on for the month of August, which struck me as a good month for such an experiment as people would be out on the street, thus eliminating the possibility that harassment was reduced by bad weather.  And I was prepared to accept Nancy’s assessment that Washington, D.C. was notorious. Continue reading

It’s Not Personal; It’s Just Business

The Economist posits a question:

WHO runs the world’s most lucrative shakedown operation?

Yes, that’s right. Of course it’s the United States of America, our beloved government doing what it has to do to regulate business so that it meets the great many rules that we demand of it.  Well, perhaps not exactly we, but rather the fact is that a lot of people really hate big business. Liars, cheaters, greedy scum. It needs to be regulated, because how else can we protect the spotted salamander?

Fair enough.  Let’s forget the flip side, that it provides the goods and services we rely upon to live, because those iPhones won’t make themselves, and gives us the jobs that allow us to buy the next shiny thing.  If they don’t make a profit, they can’t continue to exist, even if that smacks of greed.

But the regulatory system is backed up by criminal penalties, even though the regulation has all the attributes of civil dispute, where the issue is one of monetary penalties should a corporation not meet a baby prosecutor’s expectation of how business ought to happen. Continue reading

The Intellectually Disabled Cannot Be Cured

When the rules for competence to stand trial were crafted, there was neither concern nor thought about the intellectually challenged.  They were then called “retarded,” which has since fallen out of favor though it provided a clearer understanding of what that challenge was.  It meant a person whose intelligence was below a certain level, 70 on an IQ Test.

Not all intellectually challenged defendants were incompetent. Some could understand the proceedings and assist in their own defense, but some couldn’t.  They lacked the capacity.  The rules, however, were created for the protection of a defendant’s rights, to assure that a defendant wouldn’t be put on trial without the ability to defend himself.  Like so many rules, they seemed like a good idea at the time, only to later be perverted to serve a different master.

It’s one thing when the rules were applied to the insane, with the potential that they might improve with therapy and medication to the point where they could be competent. But when applied to the intellectually challenged, they reflected systemic ignorance.  The mentally retarded do not get unretarded; they cannot be “cured” because they aren’t ill.  For better of worse, they are what they are. And what they are is intellectually disabled, and they will be for the rest of their lives.

Dan Sullivan writes in the Tampa Bay Times of the plight of Dreek Drayton. Continue reading

Dead, But With Official Explanation

There are a few things that no one disputes.  Martin Olin, a 65-year-old lawyer and music industry guy who was riding his bike in the bike lane, was dead.  Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Andrew Wood ran Olin down because he was on his computer while driving.  And Martin Olin is still dead.

Wood was returning from a fire call at Calabasas High School and was on patrol when the accident occurred.

‘He was responding to a deputy who was inquiring whether the fire investigation had been completed,’ the letter from the prosecutor’s office stated. ‘Since Wood was acting within the course and scope of his duties when he began to type his response, under Vehicle Code section 23123.5, he acted lawfully.

This came in explanation of why Deputy Wood would not be prosecuted for killing Martin Olin.  It seems when one is playing with a cop computer rather than an iPad, the guy they kill is official collateral damage. This makes all the difference.

‘Wood briefly took his eyes away from the road precisely when the narrow roadway curved slightly to the left without prior warning, causing him to inadvertently travel straight into the bike lane, immediately striking Olin.’

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But For Video: The Ordinariness of Force

Christopher Lollie was like most of us.  A father who arrived a bit early to gather his kids from school, the New Horizon Academy, so he had ten minutes to kill.  A weird phrase, time to kill.  So he sat down in the skyway in St. Paul, Minnesota.  That’s what good guys do.

Someone apparently didn’t care for his looks.  According to Conor Friedersdorf, Lollie had dreads, and the skin to go with them, so the police were called because there was a guy sitting there, black and all, and who knows what terrible things that can mean.  And the police came.

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Because The Internets Need A New Takedown Regime

An academic has called for an amendment to a major US law to help victims of revenge porn: the online posting of nude or sexually explicit photographs or videos of a former lover without his or her consent.

Memo to Taylor & Francis Group:  A third-year law student is not an academic.  Generally, there are few voices less worthy of note than a law student’s.  That said, University of Missouri Law School’s Allison Tungate’s note, “Bare necessities: the argument for a ‘revenge porn’ exception in Section 230 immunity” is better than most of what’s been promoted as a cure up to now.

‘Revenge porn’ is the online posting of nude or sexually explicit photographs or videos of a former lover without his or her consent. Despite the malicious intent behind revenge porn, victims are provided with little to no relief due to Section 230 of the Federal Communications Decency Act, also known as the ‘Good Samaritan’ provisions. Section 230 unambiguously provides blanket immunity for website operators and Internet service providers that feature user-generated content, including revenge porn.

Granted, little effort is put into defining, and refining, the superficial definitions used in the article, but that’s not unusual for law students. They tend to take a lot for granted, like “we know it when we see it.” Continue reading

A Czar? Yeah, That’s The Ticket!

If you liked pogroms, you’ll love this idea. Via CBS News:

In the eyes of many progressives and civil rights advocates, the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month was a tragic and familiar story: the latest example of the law enforcement community’s prejudiced administration of justice.

Now, a group of notables and activists, joined by several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are demanding the establishment of a federal police “czar,” employed by the Justice Department, to oversee local law enforcement practices and help prevent racial bias in policing.

It’s curious that the progressive demand is for a Czar.  We had a drug Czar. We had a homeland security Czar. We had real a Czar until the revolution of 1917 took Nicholas offline.  The pseudo-title seemed a bit more appropriate when the purpose was to use overt force to destroy someone.  Perhaps they think a federal police czar will, what?, destroy the vestiges of racism in America’s police forces?  Continue reading

Denied, With Extreme Prejudice (Update)

“…do it,” Nalley ordered. “Use it.”

“(DEFENDANT SCREAMS).”

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a judge, clothed in immunity, became so annoyed by an argument that he whipped out his Glock from under his robes and plugged the litigant between the eyes?  Who hasn’t felt that, right?

Except Maryland Circuit Court Judge Robert C. Nalley, the same one who got caught deflating the tire of the miscreant who had the audacity to park in his space, acted upon it.  No Glock, and it wasn’t actually at his own hand, but he gave the order.  And Mr. Sheriff was only too happy to comply.

Via the Baltimore Post-Examiner, by way of Gideon, pro se litigant Devlon King was trying to argue his cause in a gun case, which had already proven sufficiently annoying to get him pushed from his trial judge to Nalley. Continue reading

Broken Windows, From the My Little Pony Perspective

So what if guys like Radley Balko and me were writing about this while lawprofs were on summer vacation?  After all, we’re not the deep thinkers worthy of note by serious scholars.  Even lawprof Jonathan Turley, who had the audacity to win big on polygamy while his brethren were picking out their favorite tea, was in on the deal, but wasn’t worth mentioning.

What?  It started at PrawfsBlawg, with lawprof Howard Wasserman free-riding the coattails of Cornell lawprof Mike Dorf, with the Wass-man noting “Mike share [sic] my view that cameras are a good idea but not a panacea.”  Bold move, guys, hopping on the caboose of cutting-edge thought.

But the Wass-man notes Dorf’s views on Broken Windows, and that’s where the uptown D goes off the tracks and crashes on 161st Street.

The most well-known attempt to implement broken-windows policing occurred during the NYC Mayoral administration of Rudy Giuliani. He cracked down on “squeegee men”–who “cleaned” windshields of motorists stopped at traffic lights, sometimes with an implicit threat of damage to the car or worse if drivers did not agree to pay for this ostensible service; he went after graffiti artists; he targeted subway fare-beating. And–according to the proponents of the broken windows theory–it worked. The nation as a whole experienced a substantial drop in violent crime from the peaks of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the drop in crime in New York City was substantially larger.

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