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
Jacob Gocheski was a teen with issues, which was why he went to school at the Parsons Child and Family Center. To get there, he took a bus, but the driver wasn’t comfortable with this troubled kid as a passenger, and so the Rotterdam police were called in. From the Albany Times Union:
Police were called after the driver said he felt he could not safely transport Gocheski to school at Parsons Child and Family Center, “based on threats that the student made in an aggressive manner,” police said in the release.
According to his attorney, who likely revealed far too much about a minor’s condition than discretion would have suggested, Continue reading
When Noam Scheiber began his pitch for socialized law, he opened with the “requisite anecdote.” It’s a rhetorical device, used by those knowledgeable in the art of persuasion against the unwary. It’s also used by the unwary because they fail to understand that it’s of no conceptual significance and they think it proves their point. Let me tell you a tale of woe or joy, they begin, and you will then agree with me.
Linda Greenhouse explains the pitch as well as I’ve ever seen in her New York Times op-ed on the little nuns, a grandmother, Hobby Lobby and the murder of two abortion clinic workers.
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion famously wrote in her essay collection “The White Album.” It’s a haunting line, because it’s so universally applicable. We tell ourselves stories not only for profound reasons but for mundane ones as well: to process the ambiguous and complex events that unfold every day around us, or even to try to understand the issues presented in a major Supreme Court case. Continue reading
Bob Autobee was a corrections officer. His son, Eric, followed in his footsteps, and was murdered by Edward Montour, a prisoner already doing life. Bob wants to speak at the sentencing of his son’s killer, as is his right under law as a victim, but a legal battle is at hand to stop him, to silence him.
Via Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic:
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler . . . wants to block one couple’s efforts to speak out against the death penalty for the man who murdered their child. Brauchler has filed a motion in a pending case seeking to bar Bob and Lola Autobee from participating in the sentencing phase of the trial of Edward Montour, their son’s killer. The law only guarantees the rights of victims to “discuss the harm that resulted from the crime,” Brauchler argues.
What distinguishes the Autobees is that they are against the death penalty. Continue reading
It’s not a new idea, by any stretch of the imagination. At worst, it’s a variation on an old theme. Target those who are hated and helpless, steal from them and, boom, Profit!!! How long it worked for Suffolk County Police Sergeant Scott Greene isn’t clear, but it’s over now.
Via Newsday, courtesy of Radley Balko’s morning links (every one of which would be post-worthy on its own):
Sixth Precinct Sgt. Scott A. Greene was arrested during a sting operation after stealing a $100 bill from a car driven by an undercover Latino officer, Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said Friday.
Moments later, the uniformed patrol officer was caught on videotape taking the money from an envelope on the passenger seat, then folding the bill and stuffing it in his left sleeve. Continue reading
When Eugene Volokh took up the pro bono cause of Crystal Cox, whose insane rantings and accusations bought her $2.5 million in judgments for having smeared Kevin Padrick and Obsidian Finance, it was believed to be a principled stand. Ken White described it best:
So it shouldn’t be any surprise that we protect the free speech rights of the disturbed and vengeful blogger Crystal Cox, even though she abuses the legal system in an effort to censor and retaliate against people for criticizing her.
That’s how we roll.
And the 9th Circuit agreed, reversing the judgment and holding that anyone, not just bloggers as has been widely misreported, Continue reading
In outraged voice, Noam Scheiber offers a radical proposition in the New Republic. He sets the stage with the requisite anecdotes, since an appeal to emotion is always a great way to get the juices flowing despite it being a logical fallacy, tell of how the wealthy walk away from criminal charges unscathed while the poor go to prison forever, and their little dog, too.
One anecdote, however, strikes the mark pretty well.
This maxim is illustrated perfectly by the cases of two notorious Fort Worth teenagers, who trailed five dead bodies behind them. One night in 2004, 16-year-old Eric Bradlee Miller got drunk on a bottle of vodka, stole a pickup truck at a convenience store, then plowed into a car, killing the driver. Almost ten years later, Ethan Couch, also 16, packed several friends into his father’s pickup, stole two cases of beer from a Walmart, and proceeded to scream down a local thoroughfare until he collided with a disabled vehicle, killing its driver and three passersby. Continue reading
There is no shortage of stories about a parent going into a bar while leaving a child alone in a car. This is one such story.
INDIANAPOLIS – A woman was arrested after police said she left her two children alone in an unlocked, running car while she went into a bar to get a beer Sunday evening.
Police were called to John Wayne’s Pub & Eatery in the 2300 block of East Stop 11 Road after a concerned person called for a welfare check on two children left alone in a car.
When police arrived, they found a 1-year-old and 9-year-old alone in the back seat of an unlocked Volkswagen Beetle.
Denise Shannon, who will not win mother of the year, didn’t see the problem. Then again, she was drunk. And she left the engine running. Few will argue that it was wrong to arrest her for endangering the welfare of her children. Continue reading
The New York Times’ public editor, whose job it is to concede its editorial foibles in such a way as to create the appearance of fairness while not dulling the newspaper’s shine, admitted that a story failed to do something critical to legitimate journalism:
Curtis Tate, a reporter for McClatchy News’s Washington bureau, spent a recent weekend generating spreadsheets from a database on hazardous materials for his story on the increasing amount of crude oil spilled in rail accidents.
A week later, The Times ran a broader article on the same subject, complete with photographs, requisite anecdotal lead, and big-picture sweep. It included findings that came from Mr. Tate’s research, but it did not credit McClatchy.
The excuse was that the reporter “didn’t realize that what he paraphrased was based on another news organizations’s exclusive reporting.” Because, you know, there are simply free-floating “findings” out there for anybody to use. Continue reading
Via South Florida Lawyers blog:
And they’re”insightful!” And “dynamic!” And “outspoken!”
Terrence McCoy over at Riptide broke this amazing story. According to Terrence, this appears to be an email Mike sent out to the media:
Are you a member of the media? Do you care about Justin Bieber? Of course you do. Silly question.
That’s where I, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco, come in. Not only am I a former state prosecutor and defense attorney — but I’m also available for comment. Right now. Call me. I know I told you last time that I’d only ask once. I was wrong. Whatevs. But, really, last time I’m asking: Let’s talk Bieber. (Please.)
–XOXO Michael Grieco Continue reading
Orin Kerr, at his new WaPo Volokh Conspiracy money machine gig, combines the holdings in two cases to arrive at a mathematical solution to one of the most intractable problems in criminal law. First, the scenario:
Imagine a police officer pulls over a car for a routine traffic violation, such as speeding or driving with a broken taillight. During the stop, the officer develops a hunch that there may be drugs in the car. He contacts a local K-9 unit and requests a trained drug-sniffing dog; when the unit arrives, another officer will walk the dog around the car to see if it alerts to drugs inside. Although the Supreme Court has held that the use of the dog is not a search, the length of a warrantless stop must be reasonable. The officer can’t delay the driver forever.
While Orin relies on a hunch, it’s really not critical that the cop have any basis whatsoever. Even if the situation was changed to cover the cop who calls for a dog because it’s a black driver in a new Mercedes, or a couple of Hispanics in a car on a drug route in an area where there aren’t a lot of folks with colored complexions, the tactic is the same. Stopped car. No reasonable suspicion. Call in the dog. Continue reading
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for an academic to stake out a place for himself in the universe of worthless scholarship. Danielle Citron owns Cyber Civil Rights. Mary Anne Franks nailed down revenge porn. Even the empathetic killer space was nabbed by Robert Blecker.
Poor Thane Rosenbaum of Fordham Law School was nicheless. Sure, he tried his hand at being the hero of revenge, but nobody noticed. There were lots of articles about the enemies of Judaism, but there is no juice left in condemning Eichmann, even with Osama bin Laden thrown in for timeliness. He would never become a brand this way.
But maybe, just maybe, by combining his interests he could develop a new niche, a heretofore unrecognized space that he could fill? Enter the Daily Beast:
New studies show that unbridled hateful speech can cause emotional harm. Is it time for the United States to follow other democracies and impose limits on what Neo-Nazis and other haters say? Continue reading
Via the spokesmodel for Occupy Main Justice, Bill Otis:
The Attorney General announced last week that he would support the Durbin-Lee bill pending in the Senate. That legislation would drastically cut back on mandatory minimum sentences for drug pushers – not just for pot, but for all drug offenses, including major and repeat trafficking in heroin, meth, PCP and other extremely dangerous, and often lethal, drugs.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be sentenced to life plus cancer, but that judges won’t be constrained to do so. That alone provoked outrage.
As career DOJ prosecutors know, strong mandatory minimum statutes are essential to rein in the sometimes ideological, sometimes naive, and sometimes careless decisions of sentencing courts.
When the Attorney General decided to join the effort to kneecap mandatory minimums, career attorneys could remain silent no longer. Continue reading
Among the skills one would find desirable in a judge, such as intelligence, fairness, honesty and an even temperament, the ability to communicate with others would be right up there. Not only the ability to write and speak clearly and comprehensibly, but to listen to others and grasp what they are saying.
You see, some folks who come before a judge aren’t the most articulate, and often speak in a vernacular that’s foreign to the sanitary world of official lawyers and judges. Elyria, Ohio, Municipal Court Judge Gary Bennett made himself the posterjudge for this point. Via Gideon at A Public Defender:
A curious email came in from Dubois, Wyoming the other day. Scott Trimble, chargé d’affaires for the Trial Lawyers College, which is either one of the top three programs for criminal defense lawyers or a dangerous cult bent on getting grown-up lawyers to wear cowboy jackets with fringes, had a question.
I’m wondering if there’s any way you can help us get the word out?
Me? Because I’m one of those “get the word out” kinda guys? Being that sort of fellow, I replied to Scott with my usual, thoughtful aplomb:
So I’ve notice that lawyers of a certain age look quite good in those fringed cowboy coats they have up there in Dubois, Wyoming. While I normally charge for advertising conferences, one of those cool coats might just do the trick. And maybe a hat. Hats are good too. Continue reading
The breaking news is that Bill deBlasio kept his campaign promise. From the New York Times:
New York City will settle its long-running legal battle over the Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning and often frisking people on the street — a divisive issue at the heart of the mayoral race last year — by agreeing to reforms that a judge ordered in August, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.
The City has moved to drop the 2d Circuit appeal that gave rise to the infamous Shira Scheindlin ouster ruling, the police unions’ motion to intervene to prevent the City from settling the case and the Bloomberg administration’s last-ditch effort to gets its brief in ahead of schedule to force the issue. As Jacob Gershman at the WSJLawBlog notes, the deal is in the works. Continue reading
The story is long and convoluted, as most are when you go a bit below the surface. Thomas Henderson had been a prosecutor in Shelby County, Tennessee, since 1976, and by 1997, was the top trial guy in District Attorney Amy Weirich’s office. When the no-body case of a motel clerk, Ricci Ellsworth, came in, Henderson caught it.
From Memphis Flyer:
Officers from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and the Memphis Police Department found large amounts of blood in the employee bathroom, a cracked sink, bloody towels, and the seat had been torn off the toilet. Sheets were taken, as well as $600 from the register. Ricci Ellsworth, the motel night clerk, was gone. Her 1989 Dodge Dynasty was still in the parking lot. Her body has not been found. She disappeared, but not without a trace. Continue reading
Via Bmaz at Empty Wheel, a decision of little substantive interest but absolutely fascinating from a process point of view flew under the radar. In Royer v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, District of Columbia Judge Royce Lamberth was called upon to decide a discovery motion in a case involving an improper classification claim.
Royer is a federal inmate who has served about half of his 20 year sentence who in 2010 started bringing a mandamus action complaining that he was improperly classified as a “terrorist inmate” causing him to be wrongfully placed in Communication Management Unit (CMU) detention. The case has meandered along ever since.
Not the sexiest case around, and a discovery order in a classification case isn’t likely to cause lawyers to rush to read it. After all, here was the government, yanking the plaintiff’s chain by ignoring the demands, the time limits, the procedural requirements, all because, well, it’s the government. Isn’t that good enough reason? Continue reading