Author Archives: SHG

Arizona’s “Revenge Porn” Law Challenged

Not that any pass constitutional muster, but of the knee-jerk laws passed to criminalize revenge porn, Arizona’s was among the worst.  On behalf of bookstores, libraries, newspapers and other lawful and First Amendment protected people and entities who would prefer not to be imprisoned for the exercise of a constitutional right, the ACLU and the Media Coalition have challenged the law.

Protecting personal privacy is, without doubt, a laudable goal. Indeed, the ACLU works tirelessly to protect your private data. But Arizona’s “nude photo law” is a seriously misguided attempt to achieve that goal. This new crime is broad and confusing. It applies to anyone who shares a nude image, not just to bad actors who intentionally invade another’s privacy. A prosecutor need not demonstrate that a person had an expectation of privacy in an image before charging you with a crime for sharing it. And the law applies equally to a private person’s hacked naked photo and a beautiful nude at a photography exhibit — because the law’s breadth encompasses truly newsworthy, artistic, and historical images.

As a result, the nude photo law creates bizarre and troubling burdens on speech fully protected by the First Amendment.

To drive home the point, Lee Rowland gives a pop quiz: Continue reading

That’s It? The Saga of The First Million Emails

There are the pitches from publicists that some nobody in nowhere opened a new office on Main Street.  There is the 32nd email from the Brennan Center that Attorney General Eric Holder will be speaking at their forum today.  There is the latest attempt from some low-rent publicist trying to sell an ignorant piece of crap by some nobody scum lawyer, who also notes he’s available for an interview. Continue reading

Take the Bait

When Drug Warrior Kelly Racca, who split her time as a teacher at Clovis North High School, decided that it was up to her to rid her school of demon weed, she saw no issue with using students as bait.  When her undercover plans hit the skids, she learned that the cops disagreed.

But at least the students who did as their teacher told them survived with their physical integrity intact.  A 14-year-old special needs girl wasn’t so lucky.

Court records indicate the 14-year-old girl was raped after teacher’s aide June Simpson told her to go into a boys’ restroom with the 16-year-old boy, who had reportedly been harassing several girls and asking them to have sex with him. Both he and the victim were special needs students.

Simpson told the girl that the school administration could punish him if they could “catch him in the act.” When neither Simpson nor any other school official followed the teens into the bathroom immediately, the girl was sodomized.

As it turned out, Teacher’s Aide Simpson wasn’t nearly as good at playing cop as she thought, and it all fell to pieces, with the young girl suffering not only an anal rape, but an educational one as well. Continue reading

An Exercise In Absolving Responsibility In One Page

The upshot of the car stop was that Bryce Masters, the 17-year-old son of a Kansas City police officer, will be brain damaged following his being tased by Independence, Missouri police officer Tim Runnels.  As Sgt. Darrell Schmidli explained, before the police had the chance to really put their “A game” story together, Masters “was just being completely uncooperative with the officer.”

But a couple good night’s sleep and some hard-noodling produced the search warrant application for the Masters’ car.

On 9-14-2014 at about 1507 hours, Independence Police Officer Timothy Runnels (PID #1439) conducted a car stop near Main Street and Southside Boulevard. Officer Runnels stopped a gray 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix bearing Missouri license KHI-M5Y. Prior to conducting the car stop, Officer Runnels observed the vehicle to have darkly tinted windows. Reported computer checks on the vehicle license were reported to have an active warrant association. Officer Runnels approached the passenger side of the vehicle and instructed the occupant to roll down the window. The driver partially rolled down the window a few inches. Officer Runnels reported that he detected an odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. The driver refused to completely roll down the passenger side window and asked Officer Runnels, “Why?, I can hear you!”. Officer Runnels responded to the driver’s side door, where he opened the door. Continue reading

Giving A Haircut To Crime

Radley Balko writes about a bizarre pseudo-regulatory raid of barber shops by “SWAT-like” teams comprised of deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s administrative inspectors.  The 11th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s denial of qualified immunity to the cops for the raid, offering the sad rationale:

We first held nineteen years ago that conducting a run-of-the-mill administrative inspection as though it is a criminal raid, when no indication exists that safety will be threatened by the inspection, violates clearly established Fourth Amendment rights. See Swint v. City of Wadley, 51 F.3d 988 (11th Cir. 1995). We reaffirmed that principle in 2007 when we held that other deputies of the very same Orange County Sheriff’s Office who participated in a similar warrantless criminal raid under the guise of executing an administrative inspection were not entitled to qualified immunity. See Bruce v. Beary, 498 F.3d 1232 (11th Cir. 2007). Today, we repeat that same message once again. We hope that the third time will be the charm.

In other words, don’t do it or we will be forced to write mean things about you again.  Still, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and against the police for masking their warrantless search in regulatory clothing and exceeding the scope of reasonableness in the execution of the administrative search for barber licenses.  Hooray.

But buried in footnote 6 is a detail that undermines what might otherwise appear to be the point of the decision. Continue reading

Sex With Goats (Including Oral) and Other Questions on the Test

Sending off your baby to college at Clemson, your eyes may be a bit teary but you have the comfort of knowing that this fine institution of higher learning will demonstrate the care and sensitivity you would demand be shown your child.  And it will be on the test.

[T]he South Carolina university is asking students invasive and personal questions about their drinking habits and sex life as part of what they’ve billed as an online Title IX training course.

“How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks one question.

“With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks another.

Invasive? Well, yeah, but then, this is college and sex (including oral) is part of the game.

“We believe you’ll enjoy the assignment,” the email, provided to Campus Reform, reads. “It is an engaging and informative online course, created with students for students. It will provide you with useful information regarding sexual violence and relationships. The course promotes a healthier and safer campus environment.”

Continue reading

Cyclists: Tastes Like Chicken

Adults who ride bicycles on the road with cars present a problem, and they know it.

When I drive my car, I get mad at cyclists who weave in and out of traffic, won’t move over, never stop at a red light and flip me off when I come within eye contact of them — the self-righteous bastards. When I ride my bike, I hate all those people in cars, some of whom are texting while driving — far worse than driving drunk.

Timothy Egan in the New York Times argues “[I]f each side could just think a little more like the other side, it would go a long way toward improved safety.” It’s unclear how exactly that would work, or what problem that would solve.  Sure, we should all be more careful, less hostile and aggressive, when on the road, regardless of our chosen vehicle.  But even if bikers suddenly stopped daring drivers to run them down, and drivers started driving competently, would that change things?

Cities are changing, quickly, to accommodate the new urban commuter. It’s not quite like the transformation from horse carriages to backfiring internal combustion engines, but a revolution is underway. Uber, Lyft and other ride services make it easy not to own a car. Bike commuting is at an all-time high in many cities.

But lanes for cyclists and signage for special routes might offer little more than the illusion of safety.

Continue reading

Blame the Children

Q: What happens when a police officer finds a 5-year-old special needs boy by himself a couple of blocks from the school house?

A:  Suspend the child.  At least, if the principal is Denise Segars-McPhatter, and the school is Early Childhood Center School 82.  What, you thought the cop did something wrong? Not this time.

From the Buffalo News:

A 5-year-old boy with special needs managed to grab his jacket and bookbag, leave his kindergarten class, get down a flight of stairs and walk out of a Buffalo elementary school undetected Tuesday.

A police officer on patrol around noon happened to spot the child nearly two blocks away in the East Side Kensington-Bailey neighborhood and returned him to Early Childhood Center School 82. Shortly afterward, the child’s mother got a call from a school staffer.

To apologize?  To beg forgiveness?  To seek the mercy and understanding of parents from those in loco parentis?  Nope. Wrong loco. Continue reading

The Forfeiture Curmudgeons

When we were young, asset forfeiture was only used against evil drug kingpins, to take the profit out of crime, because we were pure at heart and would never tolerate an abuse of the vast power entrusted to us. 

–Paraphrased from a Washington Post op-ed John Yoder and Brad Cates

These aren’t two random lunatics, but two men in whom the United States of America reposed huge power to wreak havoc with the fundamental underpinnings of our legal system.  And they did.

John Yoder was director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office from 1983 to 1985. Brad Cates was the director of the office from 1985 to 1989.

I can still remember sitting in the judge’s chambers on my first asset forfeiture conference, the judge looking sternly at the AUSA and saying, “you know, the law abhors a forfeiture, right?” It’s unbearably quaint today. I suspect newer judges aren’t even familiar with the maxim, no less interested in uttering it.  And it’s all because of Yoder and Cates. Continue reading

Safety First?

Lead paint. It was a far better paint than anything we have today. It stuck. It held. It was damn fine paint. But when it did come off the walls, and was eaten by children because it tasted sweet, it caused brain damage, loss of impulse control and a slew of other problems. In 1978, lead paint was banned from household use. In the scheme of things, brain damage was deemed far worse than paint that lacked durability.

At Hercules and the Umpire, Judge Richard Kopf raises a troubling problem based on Rick Nevin’s theory that the elimination of lead paint in the environment was a causal force in the decline of crimes rates.  The TL:dr explanation is that

Excessive lead exposure due to paint chips, car and truck fumes and otherwise can permanently drive down the IQ of a child and, at the same time, it can permanently reduce the child’s ability to control his impulses. Those twin harms tend to produce a criminal when the child grows up. Before lead reduction efforts by the government, crime rates rose, but after government lead reduction efforts, crime rates fell. That’s why you see reduction in crime rates for younger men, but no reduction, or even an increase, in crime rates for older men. Presumably, many of these older men have suffered the deleterious effect of excessive lead exposure when they were children, but the younger men have been spared.

This raised the question posed by Judge Kopf, and the one that is at issue here:  Assuming Nevin is correct, what does a judge do with this? Continue reading

This Is Your Brain On Cheetos

Because they’re not the entitled Slackoisie. Because they say so.

1. We play by our own rules.

2. We don’t take the first answer given to us.

3. We don’t care about getting into trouble.

4. We’re willing to work for nothing if it means being happy… Despite being in debt.

5. We know how to beat the system.

6. We’re always trying to change the game.

7. We have social media on our side. Continue reading

Outlaw Apple

Apple!  Yay!!!  iPhone!  Yay!!!  iOS8!  Yay!!!

Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.

During the Lavabit fiasco, geeks explained with as much aplomb as they could muster how technology could solve government intrusion by making it impossible, with a few deft keystrokes, to get its nasty mitts on anything.  Ironically, nobody adores alphabet soup more than the government than geeks.  SQL? Cool.

Already, applause can be heard.  And Android will follow suit any moment now. Continue reading