Author Archives: SHG

The Fear of Fear Isn’t Justification

David Kassick probably isn’t the kind of guy most would want to hang out with.  He had addiction issues, and enough paranoia, maybe, that when Hummelstown police officer Lisa Mearkle turned on the turret lights, he took off rather than stop.  For an expired inspection sticker.  No, Kassick exercised some pretty poor judgment.

Yet, it wasn’t bad enough for him to die.

Authorities said Mearkle had attempted to pull over Kassick for expired inspection and emissions stickers before he sped away. She caught up to Kassick near his sister’s home where he had been living for a short time.

He got out and ran before Mearkle incapacitated him with a stun gun, held in her left hand. He was on the ground when she shot him twice in the back with the gun in her right hand, police said.

Given that Kassick was at his sister’s home when he was stopped, one might question the pressing need to tase him, as opposed to calling back-up and having a nice chat with Kassick about his reaction to a minor traffic infraction. But given what happened afterward, all that seems rather trivial. Continue reading

But The Other Guy

At Above the Law, fellow curmudgeon Mark Herrmann confuses new lawyers with a foreign and hated concept: responsibility.

I recently heard an in-house lawyer bemoaning her fate.

But she didn’t have to be in-house; lawyers at firms experience exactly the same thing.

“I was told to accomplish a certain thing. Only one person could make it happen — a very senior executive had to make a phone call to strike a deal. So I sent an email to the senior executive asking him to make the call. He didn’t. Three weeks later, people were blaming me. How can that be? I’m just a low-level in-house lawyer. I can’t force Mr. Big to act. How can people possibly blame me for this?”

Sorry, Charlie — it’s your fault.

With minor variations, this scenario plays out with pathetic regularity. For the corporate types, it may be an executive. For the criminal law types, it may be a client, family member, witness perhaps, or even the prosecutor.  One moving part in the Rube Goldberg machine fails to budge, and so we sit there, stymied, helpless. Continue reading

Gone Fishing

By the time this posts, I will be leaving on a jet plane, seated next to Dr. SJ, pondering the delights awaiting me in various very cool European destinations.  I have left my computer home, and will take a breather from writing for a couple of weeks, focusing all my attention instead on my beautiful, wonderful and tolerant wife.

No doubt, you will miss me terribly, but you’ll get over it.  See you when I get back.  Oh, and if I get a chance to moderate comments, I will, but it’s not high on my agenda so don’t get pissed with me if they don’t post instantaneously.  Frankly, it’s probably a good time to forget about commenting and express your critically important views elsewhere.

Have a great couple weeks, and see you upon my return.

Bye.

Rape Culture, Finally Defined

A while back, I asked for a definition of “rape culture.”  It wasn’t that I was being deliberately difficult, but it was one of the fuzzy phrases thrown back at anyone who questioned anything about the alleged epidemic of sexual assault and rape.  If the reason was “rape culture,” then it was critical to know what that meant.

One reaction that comes with regularity, and the anger that suggests that anyone who doesn’t grasp and embrace it is, by definition, the scum of the earth, is the phrase “rape culture.”  It’s a catch-all justification for feminists, and spit at people as if no further explanation is needed.  If one doesn’t “get” rape culture, it’s proof of their misogyny. Not only do I not get it, but I didn’t really know what it meant as it was being thrown my way.  I may be thick, but it wasn’t part of my worldview.

Unsurprisingly, there was no answer.  There was no definition. It was two words, strung together,  that conveyed some amorphous sense of terrible wrongfulness, rape being an extremely loaded word, without any parameters.  People could give examples of what they deemed to be “rape culture,” but they were examples because they felt they were. Without a definition, examples are hollow. Continue reading

A Snapshot Of Two Proposed Laws

Via the Chron, Texas Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) has introduced House Bill 2918, which would make it a crime for private citizens to photograph or record police: “within 25 feet of them a class B misdemeanor, and those who are armed would not be able to stand recording within 100 feet of an officer.”

Villalba contends that while citizens have a right to photograph cops, his bill has no constitutional implications as he’s not preventing them from doing do, but just adding some definition to what constitutes interfering with police:

“(My bill) just asks filmers to stand back a little so as to not interfere with law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, Colorado Rep. Joe Salazar, a Democrat from Thornton, has introduced House Bill 15-1290, which:

would impose up to $15,000 in civil penalties if a law enforcement officer seizes or destroys a citizen’s recording or interferes with someone trying to film them.

The Colorado bill addresses police commanding people to stop filming or seizing their cameras or content. Continue reading

But For Video: Police Math Edition

There are five cops. There are two perps. One is white. One is black. Do the math.

But the lingering questions remain, how far does the white guy get with his hands cuffed behind his back? How does he get the cuffs off?  And what was the cop who watched the white guy run off thinking about?  Donuts?

The “Secret Trial” of Garner’s Killer Remains Secret

Justice William Garnett heard argument for the disclosure of the grand jury minutes against Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the killing of Eric Garner and ruled. Did you know?  Do you still care?  Oh, it was so very hot at the moment, but that was months ago, an eternity. Has your attention waned and your interest focused on something else?

If not, or at least not totally, this was the ruling:

The prosecutor in the Brown case made public much of the information about the Ferguson grand jury. But on Staten Island, Justice William E. Garnett of State Supreme Court decided against the request for public disclosure sought by the New York Civil Liberties Union; the city’s public advocate, Letitia James; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and The New York Post.

Justice Garnett sided with the Staten Island district attorney, Daniel M. Donovan Jr., who has fought the release of grand jury materials, arguing such disclosure would have a “chilling effect” on witnesses.

The Times’ characterization is a bit unfair.  The judge didn’t so much side with Donovan, as apply the law. The movants, seeking disclosure, just didn’t win. Continue reading

Judge Jeffrey Weill: No Zealous PDs Allowed

Perhaps the nicest thing any judge could say about public defenders is that they’re too zealous in the defense of their clients.  It should happen everywhere, except in the courtroom of Hind County, Mississippi Judge Jeffrey Weill. He’s having none of it, according to Jon Rapping.

Judge Jeffrey Weill seems to believe public defenders should be more deferential to him and less passionate in the representation of their clients.  Apparently disapproving of the zealous advocacy of one public defender, Judge Weill removed her from all of her cases and, according to Public Defender Michelle Harris, to identify any specific behavior that violated the lawyer’s professional obligations to her clients, or the court.

The story is frustrating, in that Weill fails to offer anything the PD did, “any specific behavior,” that justifies, or even explains, what got him bent out of shape.  As described in the Clarion-Ledger, the biggest issue is that the PD, Allison Kelly, wins too much. Continue reading

The Return of the Happy

Just before the great recession of 2007, not a day went by without some calling for “work/life balance.”  That was the complaint that expectations stemming from being paid too much were interfering with Millennials’ God-given right to enjoy themselves and have a seat at the bar for happy hour.  Then jobs disappeared and the only seat they could afford was on mommy’s couch in the basement.

Is it back?  At What About Clients?, Dan Hull gets teary eyed for Justin’s needs.

Read or skim in Entrepreneur this month the article “This Is How Millennials Want to Be Managed“. It’s a “happy workplace” piece and you can get its gist and message in a flash. We’ve all seen them before.

Finish it? Good. Thanks for reading. At the risk of sounding old, mean and cranky, let me make two quick comments.

So the Slackoisie got jobs, and they’re back to demanding that the world revolve around them?  Some dope started, built and succeeded in creating a business, only to be told by some happiness consultant its survival depends on adapting the business to meet the feelings of its newest hire? Continue reading

The Consequences of Free Speech Strike Northwestern

When Northwestern professor Laura Kipnis wrote her post for the Chronicle of Higher Education, she must have anticipated that some folks would not take kindly to her thoughts.  After all, it was about gender, and had a “slightly mocking tone.”  When it comes to gender, some people just can’t see the humor.

But the reaction on campus could not have been more pitch-perfect.  Not for those who raised their metaphorical torches and pitchforks, but for Kipnis.

Last Monday, about thirty Northwestern anti-rape activists marched to their school’s administrative center carrying mattresses and pillows. The event was a deliberate echo of the performance art project of Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz, who is lugging a mattress everywhere she goes on campus for a year to draw attention to the university’s failure to expel her alleged rapist. At Northwestern, the target of the protest was not a person accused of assault, but the provocative feminist film professor Laura Kipnis. Her offense was penning a February essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education, titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe,” which argues against her school’s ban on sex between professors and students, and more broadly against the growing obsession with trauma and vulnerability among feminists on campus.

That the “anti-rape activists” would choose Sulkowicz as their martyr heaps irony upon irony, as she persists in her performance art despite having her accused “rapist” cleared twice of wrongdoing, and having provided the bulk of the evidence of his innocence herself, albeit conditioned on the usual excuses that make all men guilty because of their innocence. Continue reading

New Jersey’s Sensitive Victim Bias Crime Unconstitutional

A basic tenet of due process requires that a law give a defendant notice of what conduct is criminal.  Without such notice, there would be no way to know that it shouldn’t be committed. So it comes as no shock that the New Jersey Supreme Court held that section 3 of the Bias Intimidation law, N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1, was rejected as unconstitutional in State v. Pomianek.

While the other prongs of the crime remain untouched, a facial challenge prevailed against the third prong:

A person is guilty of the crime of bias intimidation if…

(3) under circumstances that caused any victim of the underlying offense to be intimidated and the victim, considering the manner in which the offense was committed, reasonably believed either that (a) the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate the victim or any person or entity in whose welfare the victim is interested because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity, or (b) the victim or the victim’s property was selected to be the target of the offense because of the victim’s race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.

In other words, a crime occurs because the victim felt intimidated, and the victim’s feelings weren’t unreasonable.  As the New York Times reported: Continue reading

Hot Cash And Cold Consent

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been so incredibly effective in eradicating demon narcotics that it no longer has any cartel kingpins that require its time and, instead, its agents can hang around bus stops.  Bet you didn’t realize that these guys deserved a statue.

Federal drug agents may be racially profiling and unjustly seizing cash from travelers in the nation’s airports, bus stations and train stations. A new report released by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Justice examined the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s controversial use of “cold consent.”

What makes this unusual, to the extent it is unusual, isn’t that it happens, but that Mike Horowitz, DoJ Inspector General, calls out the DEA for engaging in these “interdiction” approaches.

When it comes to exceptions to the Fourth Amendment, none is better than consent, which vitiates all protections that might otherwise be available to an individual to protect themselves from a search.  Continue reading