The New York Times raises an oft-forgotten stepchild of the legal system, parole, in an editorial calling for change in the system. The reason it rarely comes onto the radar is simple, these are convicts. They are beyond the question of guilt or innocence, rarely have the capacity to retain counsel and are almost entirely unseen by anyone outside prison. Only their families know the disgrace of the parole system.
For those unfamiliar with New York’s sentencing scheme, many sentences are imposed with an indeterminate span, say 15 years to life in prison. That means a prisoner is eligible for parole after 15 years, having served the minimum of the sentence.
From the perspective of all the players at the time of sentence, it is anticipated that in the absence of any post-sentence aggravating factors, Continue reading
When police harm someone with a disability that isn’t very easy to see or grasp, the comparison is often made to those who are blind or deaf. After all, it really doesn’t take a genius to appreciate that a blind person cannot see or a deaf person cannot hear, right? Sadly, no, as Jonathan Meister learned. Via Courthouse News:
Clueless Hawthorne police beat and Tasered a deaf man as he signaled to them that he was deaf and his friend had loaned him the snowboard he was carrying, the man claims in court.
When the police approached Meister, he attempted to alert them to the fact that he was deaf by using hand gestures. Cops hate hand gestures. They’re threatening. Of course, since Meister was deaf, it’s not as if he had a choice in the matter. Continue reading
Soon after I wrote about Mary Anne Franks’ efforts to distort free speech to gain advantage in promoting her revenge porn law, and catapult her from a decidedly undistinguished, untenured, career as an academic toward Kim Kardashian recognition, I received an email from a very well-regarded law professor who told me that she was a disgrace to the Academy.
“Why don’t you do something about it,” I asked?
“Because Franks will call me a misogynist or racist, and I don’t need that.”
He asked me to keep this to myself, and I agreed not to disclose it. He didn’t need to become embroiled in this sort of garbage, which has been the modus operandi for those challenging the religion of a small group of law profs who try to make their name by championing radical views. This wasn’t his fight. That was understandable. Continue reading
At Techdirt, Tim Cushing writes about the egregious case of Justin Carter, the Texas teen indicted for making terroristic threats because of some monumentally stupid and infantile trash-talk on Facebook. The result was beyond belief:
So, the grand jury indicted Carter and the prosecutor asked for $500,000 bail. Carter was jailed in February of 2013 (the first month of which he spent unindicted while officials sorted out jurisdictional issues), where he was beaten, raped, put in solitary for his own protection and placed on suicide watch. He wasn’t released until July when an anonymous donor paid the bail.
Tim also refers back to Gideon’s post at A Public Defender decrying the Mecklenburg County, Continue reading
While we were busily applauding the approval of laws in Colorado and Washington State to allow the recreational use of marijuana, not to mention the many states that have followed California’s lead in permitting the use of medical marijuana, there was a huge, essentially insurmountable obstacle, hiding in the background that few failed to consider.
The production and sale of this now-lawful product requires that nasty little detail involving finance. There is a need for money to flow into the lease of space and purchase of equipment. There is a need for the money received from the sale to go, well, somewhere. The exchange of money by plastic, currency, bitcoins, whatever, has to happen.
Except the banking system of the United States, Continue reading
Adam Steinbaugh broke the news late yesterday that a third revenge porn “king” was arrested.
Meyering is the second revenge porn site owner to face extortion charges in California. Kevin Bollaert, who operated YouGotPosted, was arrested on thirty-one felony counts in December and is awaiting trial. Revenge porn kingpin Hunter Moore was arrested on federal ‘hacking’ charges in January. Nobody, including Meyering, has been charged under California’s new revenge porn law, at least in part because the Communications Decency Act prohibits many state-level criminal charges against website owners.
Despite the rhetoric of how it’s critical to make sacrifices to “soft” constitutional rights like free speech in order to rid society of a blight like revenge porn, it turns out to be false. As with most outrageous conduct with a financial incentive, strip it of its motivation and you can eliminate the manifestations. Continue reading
Via Eugene Volokh at WaPo/VC, a post whose title demands repeating:
Your mother, officer, was a hamster, and your bicycle smells of elderberries
Come on, you have to love the Monty Python reference. It’s perfect here. Eugene’s reference is to an Arizona law prohibiting, inter alia, the taunting of specific “vulnerable” parties.
A. A person commits harassment [a misdemeanor] if, with intent to harass or with knowledge that the person is harassing another person, the person: …
7. TAUNTS OR MALICIOUSLY THROWS AN OBJECT AT OR IN THE DIRECTION OF A VULNERABLE USER OF A PUBLIC WAY AS DEFINED IN SECTION 28‑913…. Continue reading
In addition to a proposal to allow law students to take the bar a semester early if they promise to do pro bono their final semester, New York Court of Appeals Judge Jonathan Lippman raised another, tangentially related, issue that has long been on the agenda of the criminal defense bar: Expungement.
The bad news. His answer to expungement is “no.” The not-quite-as-bad news:
“The stigma of a criminal record continues long after a sentence has been served,” Judge Lippman said. “Under this new policy,” he added, “individuals who have led a law-abiding lifestyle will not permanently be burdened by a single misdemeanor conviction, giving them a second chance.” Continue reading
Few things cause fear and loathing in academia more than the words, “sexual assault.” The definition of rape and sexual assault has undergone a monster shift in the past generation, with the explanation of “rape culture” to justify its near-total divorce from anything remotely resembling doctrinal adherence. Rape happens whenever a woman says it happens, and if you disagree, you are a misogynist and a rape apologist.
James Taranto challenged the feminist orthodoxy in his Wall Street Journal column, and was immediately attacked for doing so. No doubt he expected as much. After offering the requisite anecdotes, Taranto taps a New York Times article by Michael Winerip which ultimately makes the point the genre of rape and sexual assault stemming from a drunk boy and drunk girl could be avoided if others intervened before things went too far.
It’s a “sensible” point, given the fluctuating definition of rape which includes post hoc regret. Continue reading
When I was a young man, a friend who assured me he was a Talmudic scholar started dating a shiksa (שיקסע, a non-Jewish girl in Yiddish). This was curious, so I asked him to explain why a person who professed to be as religious as he, would go out with a shiksa. He explained that the Talmud says ”shiksas are for practice.”
Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, has been at the forefront of trying imaginative ideas to address two vexing problems. On the one side is the “access to justice” (A2J) problem, that there is a huge under- and unserved community in need of legal assistance but unable to afford it. On the other, there are law students coming out of school with huge debt and little hope of finding employment.
One idea that has made its way into practice is the 50 hour pro bono rule, that anyone seeking admission to the New York bar will be required to have fulfilled this requirement. Its novelty was that it took unadmitted, inexperienced lawyers who needed jobs, money and experience, and gave them a bit of experience without a job or money. Continue reading
As happens sometimes, the outcome of the raid failed to meet expectations. As Radley Balko explains,
Last December 19th, nine of the 10 members of the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department staged a raid on the rural home of Henry Magee. An informant had told Deputy Adam Sowders that Magee was running a major marijuana grow. They’d find 12-14 plants, all over six fee tall, the informant said. Magee also had, according to the informant, a vicious dog and several guns, one of which had been stolen from the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department.
The threat to humanity of a dozen pot plants was more than the sheriff’s department could bear, and so raid they must. After all, an informant said so, and that’s good enough when the lives of children are at stake. Unless, of course, it turns out that the informant was, well, misinforming. Continue reading
In case you missed it, The New York Times announced that we’re saved. Its former editor cum columnist Bill Keller is leaving dead wood behind to fix the criminal justice system.
Bill Keller, a columnist at The New York Times and its former executive editor, will leave the paper to become editor in chief of The Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalism start-up focused on the American criminal justice system.
“It’s a chance to build something from scratch, which I’ve never done before,” Mr. Keller said, “and to use all the tools that digital technology offers journalists in terms of ways to investigate and to present on a subject that really matters personally.” Continue reading
At What About Clients?, Dan Hull has long been pounding away at the concept that lawyers need to make their services easier to use.
Client service. In our view, that huge gap between the promise and the reality has rendered the term “client service” nearly meaningless. Even for those who deeply care about the crusade of delivering “it”, this simple idea generates much loathing and guilt. It’s a mantra we repeat to ourselves, to our employees, and to our customers. We believe that if we say “it” enough, “it” will come. Service providers really do institute–but rarely work at and enforce–regime after regime of CS. The reason: CS is much harder than it looks. You weave your skills into a buyer’s “experience” of them, and deliver them together as One Thing. CS is a hard-acquired habit. It never was easy. Never supposed to be easy. So… Continue reading
Engineers and clerks love systems. They’re repetitive, conceptually sound and facilitate the movement of huge numbers of widgets, be they ball bearings or human beings, from the beginning to the end of the system. When the occasional bad widget comes out the end, it can be chalked up to an expected failure rate.
When the bad widget turns out to be a human being, the consequences can be devastating and nearly impossible to undo. Systems, it turns out, are designed to move widgets only in one direction, and are not designed to take into account their own fallibility. Systems don’t like to admit to failure, and fight efforts to correct their mistakes.
The findings and conclusions of Northern District of California Judge William Haskell Alsup in the case of Stanford Ph.D student Rahinah Ibrahim has issued, having been duly redacted by that other branch of government who is in charge of none of its secrets are revealed. Continue reading
Like most maxims, it sounds better in Latin: Inter arma enim silent leges. Its message, however, is not merely important, but provides a deep insight into the dynamic of jurisprudence. At Volokh/WaPo, Ilya Somin writes about Nino Scalia’s extrajudicial observations:
In a recent speech in Hawaii, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made some interesting predictions about two of the Supreme Court’s most notorious decisions: Kelo v. City of New London (2005), which ruled that government can condemn private property and give it to other private owners to promote “economic development,” and Korematsu v. United States (1944), which upheld the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during World War II.
With regard to the controversial Kelo decision, Nino offered his view that it “will not survive.” Continue reading
Among the weird things that happen in the blawgosphere is the sudden, unexpected appearance of a comment long after a post appeared. More than a year ago, I posted about a Ft. Lauderdale lawyer named Gary Ostrow, who you may recall from his “press release” announced his intention ”to take on all celebrity criminal cases in the state of Florida, effective immediately.”
Okay, stop your snickering. That’s old news. There’s new news. Just calm down.
It’s hard to know for sure why Gary stumbled upon my old post. Perhaps he was doing a vanity Google of his name, or maybe he was checking on whether it was worthwhile to send another check to Bangalore’s finest to promote his brand, but there it was. Continue reading
Before jumping into my review, two points must be made. First, I have been an admirer of Kevin Underhill’s work at Lowering the Bar for as long as I’ve been part of the blawgosphere. In other words, I’m biased. Second, he did not send me a cupcake with the book, despite my admonition that he do so to assure a positive review. I really could have used the cupcake.
I started reading The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance by Kevin Underhill, published by ABA Books, on the train into the City. It was awful, as people kept staring at the crazy guy who couldn’t stop laughing. I was unable to make it through the Introduction and Disclaimer without embarrassing myself by violating basic train etiquette and annoying all around me with my loud laughter. Continue reading
When I mentioned #ReinventLaw, Silicon Valley edition, my bona fides to question its glorious exposition were challenged because I wasn’t in the room. Ironic for people with an affinity for distant connections via the internet, but there it was.
Scott – you owe me a retraction.
You were not in the room. Really? but you feel like making the sort of sweeping statements about what occurred via the prism of twitter?
Seriously – I would hope you are better than this?
I leave it to you to decide the level of irony in Dan’s demand. And so, when Reinvent Law came to New York City, and it became clear that neither of its young lawprof sponsors, Dan Katz or Renee Knake, planned to ask me to speak as a juxtaposition to cries for passion, pyrotechnics and safety glasses, I did the only thing left for me to do. Continue reading
It’s been a long, hard week. Lousy weather, snow and more snow, followed by freezing rain. I was out in the John Deere Gator 6×4 at 5:30 a.m., plowing for an hour and a half to get the snow off the driveway before the freezing rain turned it into a sheet of ice. Lucky the Gator had headlights. Wish it had a roof and heater.
But it’s Friday, and that means my suffering isn’t necessarily over. I’m taking the train to Cooper Union to see ReinventLaw in the flesh. Given all the less-than-positive things I’ve said, how could I not?
The word on the street is that it’s “sold out,” which is a curious description given that there was nothing to sell in the first place. Tickets were free, and LegalTechNY was in town this week, so the same crowd for one could attend the other. Plus me. Continue reading
The first time I heard the sound of my voice while going through recordings of a client’s wiretaps was too funny to be disturbing. The client was driving me home from an arraignment for a friend of his, and I had forgotten to call my mother to wish her a happy birthday. It upset her when that happened, and the client was an early adopter of cellphones. I borrowed his, wished her a happy birthday and all was well.
Until the turnover. In there, it said, “Unk Male” was speaking to “Unk Female” in code, “believed to be narcotics.” The code was, “Happy birthday, Mom.” I laughed. The judge laughed. The prosecutor laughed. Even my client laughed.
Of course, there was nothing in my communication to indicate I was a lawyer, and my conversation wasn’t privileged. In context, it showed how they would turn any conversation, no matter how innocuous, into a secret discussion in furtherance of the conspiracy. The agents were dopes. Had they known it was a privileged attorney/client conversation, Title III would have required minimization; turn off the recorder and note the privilege in the log. Continue reading