Author Archives: SHG

A Tale Of Two Senators

George Will gives the outgoing Senator, incoming Attorney General, Jeff Sessions a well-deserved poke for the ignorant things he said on the Senate floor about civil forfeiture. They were the sort of words a politician would utter, baseless but designed to appeal to those without a clue. Whether Sessions didn’t know better or was deliberately talking smack is unclear. One would hope a senator wasn’t that clueless, and that at least there was method to his lies.

But then, how can one explain California’s outgoing Attorney General, Kamala Harris, who is on her way to Washington to take her seat in the Senate? After having the bizarrely improper case against Backpage dismissed with extreme prejudice, she decided to take one more shot.

Let’s be crystal clear here: California Attorney General Kamala Harris (who in just a few weeks will become a US Senator) knows that she has no legal basis for arresting the execs behind Backpage. How do we know she knows this? Because three years ago she signed a letter whining about how she had no legal authority to arrest Backpage because it’s (rightly) protected by Section 230 of the CDA, saying that you can’t blame a site for the actions of its users. So it did seem weird, back in October, when Harris — along with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — decided to arrest Backpage’s execs anyway, and charge them with “pimping.” Continue reading

Nancy Shurtz And The Trauma Of The Extended Victim (Update)

It was dumb. It was dumb given the environment. It was dumb no matter what the purported justification. University of Oregon prof Nancy Shurtz should have known better than to go to a Halloween party in black face. And no doubt the uproar her decision caused drove that point home.

But it didn’t end there. Nor did it end with her dean having a stern talking-to about engaging in dumb conduct. As soon as it became known beyond a small circle of friends, Shurtz’s purpose, her intent, no longer mattered. It was no longer just a particularly dumb decision by a prof, but an act that left the campus analogue for horror in its path. Josh Blackman expands:

Nancy Shurtz, a tenured professor at the University of Oregon Law School, wore black face to a halloween party. Her costume, which also included a white lab coat and stethoscope, was meant as some sort of social commentary about the book “Black Man in a White Coat.” Nearly two dozen of Shurtz’s colleagues called on her to resign. Shurtz was suspended with pay, pending an investigation. That investigation came to a close on November 30.

Calls for her to resign. An “investigation,” a word simultaneously meaningless and scary, since the word “inquisition” has fallen from favor, undertaken. Continue reading

Believe The Victim (Because He’s Dead)

There are two primary differences between rape and murder. The second most significant difference is that murder is worse than rape.* No matter how visceral the description of trauma and pain, the victim of rape is still alive.

The first, and most significant difference is that we know, with absolute certainty, that a murder wasn’t a wholesale fabrication because of one fact: there is a lifeless body of a human being left behind.

These two factors do not always come without a connection. While the fashion trend of expressing horror in the most “horrifying” of language, rife with the deepest emotions of pain and terror, has become a staple of feminism, backlashes happen. It happened to Moises Arias-Aranda.

When authorities found the body of Moises Arias-Aranda in a maroon SUV parked along North Hydraulic last Christmas Eve, his hands and legs were bound with electrical cords, he had been stabbed in the back 36 times and had head and facial injuries. A piece of cloth tied to look like a noose lay beside him. Continue reading

Minnesota Football: Is It Belief Or Evidence?

The reaction to ten of their University of Minnesota teammates being suspended was first to protest and then, after disclosure of the confidential Title IX report to a local television station, to not. At immediate stake was a bowl game.

The boycott ended almost as quickly as it started, with senior Drew Wolitarsky reading from a two-page typed statement affirming the team’s commitment to seeing due process for any student accused of sexual assault. Wolitarsky’s statement also expressed concern for the young woman at the center of the incident, and condemned sexual violence on campus. While it’s back to business for the Golden Gophers, the questionable circumstances surrounding the boycott’s end, the utter disregard for the lives of ten young black men, and what could be viewed as a University decision to value money and prestige over the tarnished reputations of its student body, remain. Lingering questions deserving answers.

Chris Seaton took the position that the disclosure may have been a deliberate effort by the school to interfere with the players’ exercise of their First Amendment right to protest.

There is an argument to be made that the disclosure, unlawful though it may have been, enlightened the other team members and informed their decision to end their boycott. Judge Mark Bennett made this very important point, that evidence might have persuaded the other team members to change their position. Continue reading

Good Cop, Bad Cop, Drunk Cop

Washtenaw County Lt. Brian Filipiak was pulled over, shit-faced and red-handed. But this time, the “courtesy” extended was to the lives of others on the road rather than Filipak.

Video shows Filipak repeatedly asking to just be let go, but the Montmorency deputies weren’t having it, and at one point, told him they would use a stun gun on him if he didn’t knock it off.

It’s impossible to know with certainty that, had the deputies not done their job, Filipiak would have killed or maimed someone. But it was surely a possibility, just as it would be with any non-cop. And so they did their job.

When a drunk cop kills, the victims are just as dead as when anyone else kills. Kudos to the Montmorency deputies who did their job.

H/T Mike Paar

Woman Of The House

The old joke, when women stopped going to college to become teachers and nurses, but to become whatever they wanted to be, was that what a husband earned was theirs and what a wife earned was hers. It wasn’t a very feminist view, but then, we were still able to make jokes back then, so everybody laughed at it.

Brianna Wu of GamerGate notoriety has announced that she’s going to run for Congress.

By “all of us,” she means all of her. Continue reading

Big Words, Big Thoughts (Update)

It can be hard to express deep thoughts. It’s harder still to have them, but that’s a different issue. A lot of people conflate the two by using strings of jargon, big words, to create the appearance of big thoughts when, perhaps unbeknownst to them, they aren’t actually saying anything. Why? Apparently, it makes them look sexy.

Sapiosexual, according to the Collins Dictionary online is “one who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature” and the “behaviour of becoming attracted to or aroused by intelligence and its use”.

For the sake of staying on topic, just ignore the placement of the period outside the quotation marks.

If a man uses a word I’ve never heard before, my attraction radar surges to Defcon 1. Likewise if he uses somewhat poetic, non-standard language, my brain enters orgasmatron mode. Long complicated words, beautiful poetry, technical phrases that I don’t understand are all tantamount to talking dirty to me. In other words, I like big words and I cannot lie.

Continue reading

Loyola Chicago Students Outraged At Pre-Guilty Rapist

When students learned they had a “rapist” in their midst, they were outraged at their college, Loyola University Chicago, for not telling them, protecting them.

For three years, Benjamin Holm walked the Catholic campus at Loyola University in Chicago like any other student, pursuing a double major in finance and economics and playing for the school’s golf team.

But his life in Chicago hid the reality he faced back home in the suburbs of Atlanta.

There, he was being investigated for rape.

Or to put that somewhat differently, Holm was just like any other student at Loyola and did nothing wrong, harmed no one and went about his studies like a typical college student.  Continue reading

Above And Beyond? Reasonable Doubt Is Unethical

Both of the writers, Christopher Wareham and James Vos, are putative ethicists. Not lawyers. Not here. Not anywhere. They don’t even teach law. Which naturally frees them from the constraints of facts and reason, an enviable position to be sure.

Conviction rates for sexual assault against women are shockingly low, to the extent that, even in a developed nation such as the United Kingdom, only 6 per cent of rape allegations result in a conviction, a far lower rate than for any other violent crime. As The Guardian columnist Julia Bindel puts it, ‘rape might as well be legal’.

What are the chances you might actually click on the 6% link? The writers must be betting slim, since it kinda makes them look idiotic.

Of those cases that completed to the point of guilty or acquittal at the magistrates’ court or Crown Court in 2011, just under two thirds were convicted. This is eight percentage points higher than 2005.

Continue reading

An Homage To The Electoral College

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The only reason the New York Times is calling for the end of the electoral college is that its candidate lost. Had Hillary Clinton won, there would be no cries, no sad tears, no editorial. But disingenuous motives don’t change the merit of the argument.

By overwhelming majorities, Americans would prefer to elect the president by direct popular vote, not filtered through the antiquated mechanism of the Electoral College. They understand, on a gut level, the basic fairness of awarding the nation’s highest office on the same basis as every other elected office — to the person who gets the most votes.

Cool links, but neither supports the proposition for which it’s included. Americans love platitudes, as they eliminate the need for deeper thought or greater understanding. Smart people, and make no mistake, the nice folks on the editorial board at the Times are smart, use that to their advantage, to manipulate the understanding of their lessers. An ironically popular platitude is “one man*, one vote.” Continue reading

Nominations Are Open For the 2016 Best Criminal Law Blawg Post

As is the SJ end of year tradition, nominations are open for the most prestigious award in all of the criminal law blawgosphere, the 8th Annual Jdog Prize for the best blawg post in criminal law.

The prize recognizes and honors the effort and thoughtfulness of criminal law blawgers with our annual Best Criminal Law Blawg Post, which has been dedicated to the memory of our dear friend, Joel Rosenberg. Continue reading