Author Archives: SHG

Taser’s Body Cams Extra Special Feature

Albuquerque police have issues.

The most famous recording of Albuquerque police in action shows them shooting and killing a homeless man — a shooting that began as a normal rousting for the crime of “illegal camping.” From there, the police turned it into a “standoff” with a cooperative person unsure of which direction to move next out of the very justifiable fear of being shot.

This was just another in a long line of killings by APD officers, not many of which were captured on video. The DOJ issued a report stating that a “majority” of shootings by the city’s police officers were “unreasonable and violated the Fourth Amendment.”

Ain’t that DoJ great, reporting that the shoots are bad? It’s a shame they’re never around before the cops wrongfully kill people, dealing with the known problem until after the blood is cleaned up, but hey, who doesn’t love a report afterward confirming what everybody knew? Yay, feds! But I digress. Continue reading

The “Regular Guy” Goes To Washington

Larry Tribe called him “constitutionally clueless,” which is a fair and alliterative reaction to the president-elect’s latest dictate by twit:

Without needlessly delving into the obvious, Texas v. Johnson held that desecretion of the flag is protected speech, and there is no remedy of “loss of citizenship.” The kings of old might have been able to banish undesirables from the land, but the president cannot.  Even the venerated Scalia, who was no fan of flag burning, realized that presidents don’t get to wear the crown of feelz.

scaliaflag Continue reading

California Lawyers Dreaming (About Sex With Clients)

There are plenty of nice people out there, and maybe even one or two who might want to have sex with you (for free). Find them. Go and search. But leave your clients, their wives, husbands, sons and daughters alone. This makes some California lawyers sad.

The nation’s largest state bar association is overhauling ethics rules for attorneys for the first time in 30 years, and some lawyers are unhappy about a proposal that would open them up to discipline for having sex with clients.

California currently bars attorneys from coercing a client into sex or demanding sex in exchange for legal representation.

Yes, that would be the same California that championed the affirmative consent approach to collegiate sex, even though they had no clue what it meant, So what? It’s sex, and when it comes to sex, one can never be too cautious and harsh. Except when it comes to lawyers. Continue reading

The Solution To Fake News Is Progressive News

Most of us believe we’re too savvy to fall for a fake news site, whether a non-existent Denver newspaper created by a Democrat from California, or fake news spread by the Russians and Chinese taking the most trusted source of information, Facebook, by storm. But the point of fake news isn’t that you actually believe the stories, but that they sow a sufficient seed of doubt.

Sure, some percentage of people actually believed the content such sites (for instance, that Hillary Clinton was behind the death of a federal agent). But a far greater number of people came away ever so slightly more doubtful of what is true. They didn’t believe Hillary Clinton ordered a hit, but they didn’t disbelieve it either. It simply became part of the background, one more unsettled question.

Part of the problem is that the internet has allowed us to live in a bubble of confirmation bias, believing what serves our beliefs because we want to believe.

Many of us are ensconced in our own information bubbles. Few people reject crazy claims based on the fact they hadn’t heard about them before now, because chances are they already have heard about them, or something close to them, from the sites that tend to confirm their biases. That makes them more susceptible to taking fake news seriously.

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Mindfulness When The Moment Kinda Sucks (Update)

As fads go, mindfulness was relatively harmless, unless you were one of the few people who spent a lot of money trying to find happiness in the moment. When you spend your time wallowing in the misery of your life, you look for a magic bullet to make it better. There are two ways to go, change your life for the better or bask in the misery. The former is hard. The latter is far easier, and when there was an industry telling you that it was totally great to wallow, why not?

Since then, there have been many responses that maybe anxiety is good for people. It gets them off their lazy, self-indulgent butt so they improve their lot in life, their performance, their contribution to humanity. If they happen to be lawyers, they will be better lawyers for it, as opposed to the incompetent lawyers who turn to mindfulness as an excuse for being shitty lawyers. But maybe it’s time to speak an unpleasant truth out loud: being “in the moment” is for idiots.

So does the moment really deserve its many accolades? It is a philosophy likely to be more rewarding for those whose lives contain more privileged moments than grinding, humiliating or exhausting ones. Those for whom a given moment is more likely to be “sun-dappled yoga pose” than “hour 11 manning the deep-fat fryer.”

On the face of it, our lives are often much more fulfilling lived outside the present than in it. As anyone who has ever maintained that they will one day lose 10 pounds or learn Spanish or find the matching lids for the Tupperware will know, we often anticipate our futures with more blind optimism than the reality is likely to warrant.

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The Killing Seemed So Important At The Time

People argued at the time whether it was “terrorism.” It was one of those absurd arguments, as if giving it the current flavor of the most extreme name of awfulness made it as awful as it needed to be. After all, Dylann Roof was already in custody, so it wasn’t a cry for additional resources needed to locate the killer, whether he was a white supremacist nutjob or a domestic terrorist. It was a Seinfeld episode about murder.

Yet, the passionate gang argued that it was terrorism, because it was. After the State of South Carolina had already decided to seek the death penalty for murdering nine black parishioners in a church, there being little doubt of his commission of the crimes and the only real question being punishment, the feds horned in on the action.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Tuesday that the Justice Department would seek the death penalty against Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.

“The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision,’’ Lynch said in written statement.

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Shelter From The Storm

There are “sanctuary cities,” places which, as a matter of local policy, have chosen to be less than cooperative with federal requests to hold undocumented aliens who come into their clutches. Usually, this means that a person arrested for a violation of law will not be held on an immigration detainer after he would otherwise be released.

There are a few reasons why a local government would want to do this. The first is financial. Holding people until the ICE shows up to take them is expensive. They still need to be housed and fed in custody, and ICE is busy. It may show up today or a month from today. Or never. It’s not like the local sheriff can call ICE and order them to get their butts over to pick up their prisoners.

The second is that feds and locals don’t get along. The feds are snotty elites to the locals, and the locals have their own jobs to do, like stopping murders and mean twits that hurt their feelings. The feds’ “desire” for the locals to do their job for them isn’t at the top of the local law enforcement priority list.

The third is that some cities have taken an actual position in conflict with federal immigration policy, such that they choose not to cooperate, not to be complicit in the continued incarceration and deportation of people they don’t believe deserve to be treated in such a way. This is the principled sanctuary, where a city will affirmatively decide that it will not be complicit in federal conduct with which it disagrees. It can’t stop the feds from being the feds, but it doesn’t have to help. Continue reading

The Business Transaction Called “Dinner” At 1300 On Fillmore

The choice of an upscale soul food restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner was an interesting one. Since we were far from home, a restaurant was the only option, and why not try something interesting since it wasn’t going to be the Thanksgiving flavors that brought us home anyway? Reservations were made for 1300 On Fillmore in San Francisco.

Here’s the review for Zagat’s:

It seemed like an interesting idea to have Thanksgiving dinner here. It was not. We had 6:30 reservations, but weren’t seated until 7:30. We ordered a bottle of white wine and they gave us burgundy glasses. When I asked, a random guy came to the table, said “those are the only wine glasses we have,” and walked away. Either they ran out of clean wine glasses or are clueless. This guy, we later learned was the manager, had severe social issues. The wine bottle was left on the table as they had no ice buckets.

The duck salad app, supposedly duck and confit, had one tiny bit of duck and a lot of frisee salad. We’re pretty sure they ran out of duck, but served it anyway. The shrimp and grits was better, until the bus person came, put her hand on the plate with her fingers in the food, and asked if I was done. I wasn’t before, but I was after her dirty hands were in my food. Continue reading

Talking Thanks, Hearing Thanks

In advance of Thanksgiving, lots of websites give “tips” to young people, who perceive themselves as more knowledgeable, smarter, better educated and right, on how to talk to that drunken idiot uncle who is against everything he shouldn’t be and who is destroying everything. There hasn’t been as much of that this year, but what there has been has been far more vicious and furious.

Sit down. I have something to tell you and it’s going to make you sad. This is the year you will shut up and listen to your uncle. He’s not drunk. He’s not mean. He’s not stupid. And most importantly, he may not be wrong.

Yes, the very existence and celebration of Thanksgiving is wrong. I know about the disease brought from Europe, the slaughter of the native Americans, who were called Indians before we became sensitive. And I know all the arguments against Trump, racism, sexism, global warming, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, technophobia, arachnophobia and that tattoos are perfectly reasonable expressions of your deepest emotions that couldn’t possibly be undesirable ten years from now. You’ve told me. You’ve screamed at me. You’ve called me every name you can think of plus some. I heard you. Continue reading

Baby You Can Drive My Car

At PrawfsBlawgTracy Hresko Pearl makes a bold prediction: fully driverless cars are coming to U.S. roads, and they’ll be arriving much sooner than you might think: probably within five years. There remains a laundry list of technical problems that need to be sorted out, not the least of which is the assurance that the computer doing the driving doesn’t crash. There are moral issues to be decided, such as the Trolley Problem, or who found the parking space first.

But assuming, arguendo, technology can figure out a way to get past its problems, including the fact that cars aren’t iPhones, meant to be thrown away every two years when shinier new hardware comes out, or what to do with the hundreds of thousands of displaced workers who can’t buy a driverless car because they have no jobs, there remains an additional problem.

As the conversation wound down, however, he noted that, despite everything I had said, he would always love driving.  He asked whether, once fully driverless cars are widely available, he would still be able to drive his own car.  I quickly reassured him he would always be able to do so, but as we parted ways, I questioned what I had just told him.  If autonomous vehicle advocates are correct about the dramatic safety gains fully driverless cars stand to offer, might the government eventually outlaw human-driven cars on public roads?

To the extent the introduction of driverless cars reflects an overarching concern for safety and efficiency, because everybody really wants to sit in a car driven at speeds that would make grandma smile, the sacrifice would be visceral. We would be reduced to mediocrity in the name of safety. Continue reading

Can Kiddies Consent?

It would not be unfair to guess that more than a million words have been murdered in the name of “consent” over the past couple years. But then, that’s when it relates to sex and the litany of things that can interfere with enthusiastic, if not aggressive, desire for the 50 shades of, I dunno, maybe yes, maybe no, I’ll decide tomorrow, but for now, YES, YES, YES!!! What about the children?

Consent by a child is guided the same, regardless of whether it’s consent to have sex, to eat one’s beans or to a cop’s sweet requests to search.

Officers Biandudi and Wyle were patrolling a Pinellas County neighborhood in a marked police car. They saw twelve-year-old F.C. and his friend, Pedro, playing in the grassy common area of their mobile home park. Officer Biandudi testified that the boys looked like they were just playing around and having fun. He saw nothing alarming. Nevertheless, he pulled over and stopped the patrol car. He and Officer Wyle exited the car. They were uniformed and armed. They approached the boys and asked if they could search them. The boys consented. The officers found small amounts of marijuana on each boy.

That’s right, the old “playing around and having fun” excuse. Street cops have a sixth sense about these things, knowing how scheming 12-year-old boys use “playing around and having fun” to throw cops off their trail to conceal their reefer madness. Continue reading

Lawyers Left And Model Rule 8.4(g)

In the aftermath of a disappointing outcome, a Harvard Law grad turned marketeer created a Facebook group for disaffected lawyers. The groups was named, unironically, Lawyers of the Left. Brian Tannebaum shared their sentiments, and tried to share a zombie post. It was “moderated” into oblivion, censored for not meeting “community standards,” causing Brian to walk away with a parting thought.

Some complained about the group’s name, because they didn’t view themselves as being “of the left,” but rather mainstream believers in the righteousness of social justice. They saw nothing peculiar about one of the group’s first acts being censorship. Silencing people is a fixture of those who rely solely on vague feelings, shared among others who have similar feelings, but can’t put them into rational words. If they have no meaningful words, neither will anyone else to drag them down from their perch of righteousness with the tyranny of reason.

While real lawyers were busy representing clients, passionate lawyers were reinventing legal ethics at the American Bar Association meeting last September to create their own, private Utopia, because lawyers should be leaders in social justice. The rule, which extended basic discrimination law into heretofore virgin territories, unanimously passed.

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: Continue reading