Author Archives: SHG

DEA’s Chuck Rosenberg And Reefer Madness

The 1936 propaganda movie, Reefer Madness, has since morphed into a cult favorite. If you somehow haven’t seen it, get some munchies and prepare to laugh. But acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, still thinks it’s a documentary.

“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,” Rosenberg said in a briefing to reporters. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine — that is a joke.”

The absurdity of Rosenberg’s assertion is striking, particularly in his suggestion that we can have an “intellectually honest debate” provided we ignore all medical evidence proving his head is deeply embedded in his ass. That marijuana has significant medical uses isn’t a matter of debate. Hell, heroin has medical uses as well, it being just another opiate.

But Rosenberg’s comments have given rise to calls for his ouster by medical marijuana patients and even members of Congress. Continue reading

Princeton Without Wilson: To What End?

Princeton University was as tied to Woodrow Wilson as a school could be.  Not only was Wilson the nation’s 28th President, but also the president of Princeton.

As the school’s president in the early 20th century, Wilson initiated its expansion into a full-scale university. He lifted educational standards, created academic majors and introduced the small-group classes, often led by professors, known as precepts.

And so, his name was on the wall there.

To honor him, Princeton created the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs — an elite institution within an elite institution — and a residential complex, Wilson College, where quotations from the revered leader have been displayed on a television screen in the dining hall.

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When Rights Become “Incidental” To Death (Update)

Some people find it unbearable to read what “the other side” has to say about the issues we find clear and substantial.  After all, they’re WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!! But neither hiding from contrary views, nor allowing oneself to indulge in outrage does much to help.  Reading, understanding and addressing views that are “wrong” is far more productive.

The murder of John Livingston was discussed here and at Fault Lines, by Josh Kendrick.  Within this story of a guy killed for doing what the courts tell us he’s entitled to do are two significant problems:

Even more unfortunately, Livingston’s killer was a cop. So now we have a problem. Livingston doesn’t, because he is dead. It will remain to be seen if the killer cop has a problem, because we don’t like to prosecute cops, even for killing innocent civilians.

But in this case, North Carolina law is on the side of the angels. Though its little comfort to Livingston, North Carolina statute § 14-51.2(c)(4) says a North Carolinian can use force against a law enforcement officer who is attempting to enter a home illegally.

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After The Gushing: Sentencing Reform Is Inadequate

A mere month ago, everybody was gushing praise over the “bipartisan” sentencing reform that finally won the blessing of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who holds the keys to change as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Even FAMM got behind the bill, and if FAMM backed it, it must be good.

Not perfect, perhaps, but, as the New York Times proclaimed as they issued their good housekeeping seal of approval, “a crucial first step on the long path toward unwinding the federal government’s decades-long reliance on prisons as the answer to every ill.” Anybody could see that, right?

Except one old, negative curmudgeon who called bullshit.

As the glow of irrational exuberance wore off, and people actually read the bill, thought about what it gave and what it didn’t, not to mention took away, it slowly began to dawn on people that this glorious bipartisan proposal kinda didn’t do muchContinue reading

Fem Faux Failure And The Rape Tape

The judge’s order was understandable.  If the prosecution had the video, the defense was entitled to it as well.  It was, without question, Giglio material, evidence that could be used to challenge the credibility of a prosecution witness.  And it did, without question, “re-victimize” Lara McLeod, assuming she was victimized in the first place.

A Virginia court ruled this week that a four-year-old videotape depicting what a woman says is her rape will be handed over to the defense team in an upcoming capital murder trial, even though the woman says the video was recorded without her consent.

Lara McLeod, now 24, is not a witness and will not testify in the trial, which is slated for January 2016. The video was evidence in a case that was expunged two years ago. Under Virginia law, it’s illegal to record someone having sex without their consent.

But a judge ruled on Wednesday that the defense team had the right to view the video nonetheless.

Joaquin Rams is being prosecuted for the murder of McLeod’s 15-month-old nephew. Rams had earlier been accused by McLeod of raping her, but produced the tape to show he hadn’t, resulting in McLeod’s arrest for falsely reporting. What the tape shows, exactly, isn’t known, but certainly is subject to controversy. Does it prove a rape or disprove a rape? Who knows? Continue reading

Affirmative Action In Execution

Trigger Warning: Facts ahead that will traumatize people who can’t stand facts that don’t comport with their emotional beliefs.

The numbers don’t lie.

The black-white gap is 15 points when measured on the Wechsler tests, 18 on the Stanford-Binet. Both tests are, of course, normed so as to produce an average of 100, but the white average is a bit higher. On the Wechsler metric, whites and blacks average 102 and 87, respectively. On both tests, the gap between the races is almost exactly 1 SD (standard deviation). The gap of 1 SD has been observed since the earliest days of intelligence testing.

IQ Distribution Continue reading

Orleans Parish Public Defender Says “No More” (Update)

The conundrum is one that no public defender wants to admit exists. Not that they don’t know it exists, but they just don’t want to admit it, because it’s contrary to every sense of duty that pulses through their being. They are there to help the indigent, to be their protectors, and the very idea of turning a poor defendant away is anathema.

But, as is clear from a cold, detached perspective, there is no other choice when society doesn’t carry its responsibility, and shifts it onto the public defenders.  When there is no good option, their duty is to select the bad option.

Claiming that its staff is too undermanned and overworked to provide constitutionally adequate legal defense to indigent clients, the Orleans Parish Public Defenders office on Friday (Nov. 20) asked a judge to stop appointing new criminal cases to its lawyers “as soon as possible.”

Deputy District Defender Jee Park made the bombshell request before Judge Arthur Hunter, who convened a hearing to examine the public defenders’ plight.

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Strength In Numbers: The Nassau County LAS Failure

In a series of highly controversial posts at Fault Lines, former Nassau County legal aid lawyer, Ken Womble, has exposed a failure of significant dimension in the representation of the poor in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. There have been three reactions to these revelations.  For those on the outside, it’s been one of shock and disgust, as the bubble of competent indigent defense unceremoniously burst.

On the inside, however, the reactions have been far more problematic. Some have applauded the effort to bring to an end the “way things were always done” in Nassau County, who were as disgusted as Ken at the selling out of indigent defendants to keep the system grinding. Indeed, the clearest demonstration of this support was shown in the election of union officers, shortly after Ken’s disclosure, where the old-time insiders lost decisively in favor of the new lawyers who supported change.

But then there were the sycophants, the ones dedicated to pulling whatever they could find out of their butts to defend the institution, its management, the perpetuation of doing business the “way things were always done.”  Some did so to support personal friends at the expense of the poor. Some did so to protect their resumé, so as not to diminish the marketing value of their experience. Some did so out of some misguided support for the institution of the Nassau Legal Aid Society.

There is a long-held belief that there is strength in numbers. It’s the notion behind unionism, that one person may be incapable of taking on power, but that the synergy of the group has the ability to move mountains.  And indeed, this is true, as the history of unionism has proven. Continue reading

Professional Free Speech: Lawyer Say, Lawyer Do

At Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene delves into one of the shadier areas of First Amendment law, professional-client speech.  While it might be easily ignored, as one of those things that “just is” because it’s the way it’s always been, this subset of speech has been seized by the free speech relativists as a rationale for why they get to criminalize speech whenever there’s a teary-eyed story to tell.

The Court did not say that only speech falling within explicitly recognized categories (such as defamation, true threats, obscenity, imminent incitement of violence, and crime-facilitating speech) are proscribable. To the contrary, the Court specifically recognized that other forms of speech have “enjoyed less rigorous protection as a historical matter, even though they have not been recognized as such explicitly.”

In a breathless list, proponents run through restrictions like doctors and lawyers being prohibited from revealing patients’ and clients’ confidences, as proof that the categorical exceptions to free speech are vast, rather than limited to the specific handful the law recognizes.  And if the crimes concocted by anti-revenge porn zealots aren’t enough, there’s the “hate speech isn’t free speech” lie propagated by academics and SJWs. Continue reading

Fay Wells And The Police Response

Fay Wells is, by her own description, a successful, educated black woman.  Clearly, she writes well, and her story of mistreatment at the hands of the Santa Monica police department was moving.

I heard barking. I approached my front window and loudly asked what was going on. Peering through my blinds, I saw a gun. A man stood at the bottom of the stairs, pointing it at me. I stepped back and heard: “Come outside with your hands up.” I thought: This man has a gun and will kill me if I don’t come outside. At the same time, I thought: I’ve heard this line from policemen in movies. Although he didn’t identify himself, perhaps he’s an officer.

There were 19 police officers outside Wells’ apartment. That’s a lot of cops. It would appear that they either have way too many police officers with nothing better to do, or way too little crime and everybody wants in on a potential bust.

It seems that Wells’ neighbor, a lawyer, called in a burglary when Wells had forgotten her keys and had a locksmith open the door.  He says he didn’t recognize her as someone who lived in the apartment complex, so he saw something and said something. Continue reading

A Safe Gulag Of Their Own

Contrary to popular belief, there were choices available to readers of newspapers in Soviet Russia. There was Pravda, which means “Truth,” and Izvestia, which means “News.”  This led to a cute saying, “there’s no truth in the news, and no news in the truth.” So why not recreate this at Smith College?

Alyssa Mata-Flores, a 21-year-old Smith College senior and one of the sit-in’s organizers, explained that the rule was born from “the way that media has historically painted radical black movements as violent and aggressive.”

“We are asking that any journalists or press that cover our story participate and articulate their solidarity with black students and students of color,” she told MassLive in the Student Center Wednesday. “By taking a neutral stance, journalists and media are being complacent in our fight.”

In contrast to the students at the University of Missouri, who sought to avoid any scrutiny whatsoever by use of force, rationalized by a putative “reporter” who disgraced himself for the cause, the children of Smith have openly admitted their claims can’t withstand the slightest scrutiny. Continue reading

Ordinary Injustice, Nassau Style, Parts 1 & 2

At Fault Lines, Ken Womble has dug deep into the bowels of Nassau County Legal Aid Society’s representation of the poor, going to the source training materials and what they instruct public defenders to do. And it is ugly.

In long form, Womble lays it out, chapter and verse, with hard proof that rights of indigent defendants in Nassau County, Long Island, are being ignored so that the wheels of “justice” grind smoothly.

If you read nothing else today, read Ken’s post.

Update:  Part 2 of Ken’s magnum opus is up at Fault Lines. Part 1 was the “how.” Part 2 is the “why.”