Author Archives: SHG

Without The Video: The Worst Thing Charlotte Could Possibly Do

On October 1, a North Carolina law limiting the release of video of police goes into effect.

Under HB 972, also known as the “Body Cam” bill, recordings from body- or dashboard-mounted cameras can only be released to the public through a court order, instead of via a public records request. Those captured on police audio or video can ask to hear or watch the footage, though authorities can deny that request pending a judge compelling them to comply. Release of recordings to prosecutors would be permitted.

The purported rationale is that it protects the privacy of not only police, but suspects, victims and witnesses. Damn thoughtful of Gov. Pat McCrory to be so concerned with the privacy of defendants. Too bad that nobody’s buying.

But October 1st is more than a week away, and at the moment, Charlotte is burning.  Tulsa figured out how to address the loss of trust and faith in its police. Continue reading

Starting The Federal War Against Cyberharassment

Off the radar of most people is a thrust to create a federal law enforcement presence in making the internet “safe,” and that includes putting the FBI on the job. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) has introduced a bill to require the FBI to track “cybercrimes” and figure out how to win the “war” against them:

Under the new law, the FBI would add “cybercrimes against individuals” – online stalking, harassment, and threats – to its main crime reporting systems. The attorney general would release an annual summary of the cybercrime data, and the Department of Justice would have to come up with a national strategy for reducing these online crimes.

Clark’s rationale is rather unsophisticated:

“If the FBI can provide data on murders and robberies and arson, they should also be able to collect data on the number of cyberstalkings and any other cybercrimes against an individual,” Ms. Clark told Passcode.

There is a rather obvious difference between murders, robberies and arson, and cyberstalking, of course. The former crimes are well-defined. The former crimes don’t implicate constitutional rights. This eludes the good representative, perhaps because of the voices whispering in her ear. Continue reading

Fault Lines’ Holes: Plugs Needed

Our resident prosecutor, Delaware County, Ohio, assistant prosecuting attorney Andrew King gave me an elbow to the ribs the other day.

It is probably no surprise that here, at Fault Lines, there is not a lot of support for civil forfeiture.  It might have something to do with the criminal defense bias.

He’s right, and wrong.  The concept of Fault Lines is to have all legitimate voices in the criminal justice system heard. That means the voices that make you feel all warm and fuzzy, as well as those that infuriate you. Elsewhere, you find validation. At Fault Lines, leave your confirmation bias at the door. This is meant to be real, whether you agree with it or not.

But I added a footnote to Andrew’s post (because I’m the managing editor and have the keys to the backdoor). Continue reading

Known Facts And Three Dead Black Males

The sensibility was captured when Elie Mystal offered his reaction to the inevitable calls for “calm.”

F*ck calm.

What we know with certainty is that three black males, one a 13-year-old, are dead.

But don’t tell me to be calm. Calm is off the table.

When last I asked Elie about such things, he made a point worth repeating. He’s placed himself in the position of the white man’s black friend, writing at Above The Law at a time when bad things are happening. His audience is comprised of white Biglaw wannabes whose primary interest is what their firm’s bonus will be, or insipid SJW whiners seeking comfort from their deep fear of personal inadequacy.  Yet there he is, trying to explain what is happening because he’s the designated black guy, double Harvard notwithstanding. Continue reading

Nature v. Nutjob

In the comments to a post at SJ, a deeply passionate ally did his utmost to “dismantle” my frat bro “Klan circle jerk” to protect the honor of fragile womanhood. It was, to be kind, an interesting exchange.

More breaking news! A frat boy condoning non consensual sex-shocking!! You’re a mysogynist…sure you can have problems with the article, but you condone rape here and need to be called for it by other men. pink panty dropper drink…gee whatever do You mean?? im sure you felt Brock Turner should’ve gotten off too…you are the problem-not the author and not the drinking…you and your beliefs and actions…look back decades later with fondness LOL-tell that to the scores of women being raped by your bros. I’m sure You won’t publish this-bros hate to be challengers or have to think deeply about anything…but at least you should read that other men are ashamed of you and your beliefs

Nothing says “take me seriously” more than “LOL.”  But Jonny had plenty more to explain to this “mysogynist.” Seriously, go read the comments. While it’s easy to enjoy this irrational ranting of a cartoon character who thought himself (sorry, still not sure of his/her/Xir’s preferred pronouns) overwhelmingly persuasive, that’s because we don’t have to endure it. We can x out anytime we want.

Not so for the twin boys of Jody Allard. Continue reading

Running Away Is The Only Reasonable Response

Years ago, the late SDNY District Court Judge Harold Baer damn near got himself impeached by doing the unthinkable. He told the truth.

“Had the men not run when the cops began to stare at them, it would have been unusual,” the judge wrote in late January.

That was January, 1996, and the decision was United States v. Bayless. It caused a shitstorm around Judge Baer, who collapsed like a cheap suit, much to Bayless’ lawyer’s, Ramon Pagon’s, consternation.  It was a huge win, and then, poof, it was gone.

The judge, Harold Baer Jr. of Federal District Court in Manhattan, made no direct reference to the political storm his ruling had whipped up from City Hall to the White House. But he expressed regret for the remarks in his original decision that prompted the greatest outrage, in which he had questioned the credibility of police officers and suggested that it was not necessarily suspicious even for innocent people in Washington Heights to run from the police.

Continue reading

The Pyrrhic Victory For The Disabled (Update)

There are few places on earth more obsessed with social justice, whatever that means for the next ten minutes, than the University of California, Berkeley. But even Berkeley must occasionally confront reality, and as every grown-up knows, reality bites.  So Berkeley had to make its choice, and its choice was to shut down free online content.

The University of California, Berkeley has announced that it may eliminate free online content rather than comply with a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the content accessible to those with disabilities.

The content in question is all free and is for the general public to use. “The department’s findings do not implicate the accessibility of educational opportunities provided to our enrolled students,” said a statement on the situation by Cathy Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education.

Aren’t people with disabilities entitled to the same access to free online education as everyone else? Well yes. Maybe. And not exactly.  This has been a thrust of the DoJ, trying to make the world more socially just for all. Continue reading

Terence Crutcher’s Deadly Breakdown

His SUV was stopped in the middle of a road. Terence Crutcher was a guy who needed a hand, and police, in their public safety function, should have been the nice folks who helped him out. Instead, Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby killed him.

There will be intense parsing of the video of Crutcher’s killing. At Fault Lines, former police officer and firearms instructor Greg Prickett takes apart the video and tries to understand what might have given rise to this killing. The upshot is that while there are explanations, to some limited extent, for Shelby’s shooting, they aren’t good explanations. Not good at all.

But it remains to be seen, according to Greg, whether there is anything more, as the alternative of Betty Shelby being a stone-cold killer cop is hard to fathom. And Tulsa has demonstrated its willingness to prosecute a cop, take a cop to trial and convict a cop, if the facts warrant it. They did so with Robert Bates.

But while all eyes are on the moments before the killing, as the apologists at PoliceOne blame Crutcher for not complying with commands, as if that’s a reason to execute a man, and seek out any excuse to explain why one of theirs gets to kill one who isn’t one of theirs, Terence Crutcher’s SUV wasn’t the only breakdown on the road in Tulsa in need of explanation. Continue reading

Teacher Rapes 5 Students, Gets Probation

The facts are indistinct, but clear enough.  A former teacher at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville, Tennessee, was charged with raping five students. Some of the rapes occurred at the school. Upon arrest, the teacher was released on $1000 bail.

The Metro Nashville Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit started investigating Alston on Nov. 24, 2014 after the principal of Pearl-Cohn High School reported information she received about the teacher.

The investigation into Alston lasted several months and involved multiple interviews with students and others.

Detectives say they were told that Alston had sexual contact with several teens. Some of those incidents occurred on the school’s campus, according to officials.

While conducting “multiple” interviews may give the appearance of a great deal of work, it’s hard to imagine why it took “several months.”  Isn’t a teacher raping five students sufficiently horrible to compel the police to work a little more quickly? Continue reading

Make Drunken Choices, Win Prizes

Breaking: College students sometimes drink alcohol to excess.

When I was in a fraternity in college, the house drink was called a Blue Meanie. Its basic ingredient was grain alcohol, flavored with Blue Curacao and Triple Sec, so it tasted like lemonade. It did the trick. A few of those cool red solo cups and you were blotto.

But we knew what we were doing, and it was no one’s fault but our own if we chose to imbibe. And afterward, no matter what we did while under the influence, even if it was occasionally embarrassing (and it was), it was no one’s fault but our own. We were stupid, but we weren’t stupid about being stupid.

Ashton Katherine Carrick is a senior at the University of North Carolina, and she discovered the idea of getting drunk at college, as if no one ever did it before.

I hadn’t known it at the time, but this was my first introduction to the aspirational “blackout.” That is, intentionally drinking with the goal of submersing yourself in so much alcohol that you can’t remember what happened and the only vestiges that remain from the night before are the videos on your friends’ phones.

Continue reading

Will All Law Be Business Law?

On the one hand, Indiana lawprof Bill Henderson has been a tenacious proponent of changing the way law schools teach law, On the other hand, he’s fallen under the spell of shiny magic bullets, whether technological or systemic (as in, futurist crackpot Richard Susskind’s “the end of lawyers”). Once on the slippery slope of “why not,” ignoring the damn good reasons why not, it’s hard not to slide to the bottom. That doesn’t mean he’s totally wrong.

According to the recently released government Economic Census data, lawyers disproportionately represent business rather than people.

The work of lawyers is increasingly the work of businesses rather than people.  This conclusion flows from recently released Economic Census data, which is the U.S. Government’s “official five-year measure of American business and the economy.”

For the two most recent years (2007 and 2012), the Economic Census data includes an analysis called Revenues/Receipts by Class of Customer for Selected Industries.  The chart below compares these two years for Offices of Lawyers (NAICS 541110). Continue reading