Author Archives: SHG

The Donna Hylton Dilemma

If Charles Manson somehow managed to get himself released from prison, would he be your choice of an inspirational speaker? A freak show, perhaps, but getting past the fact that he’s the poster boy for the absolute worst of schizophrenia and paranoid delusions. He’s not the guy you would invite to dinner, even if you could.

But Manson has the experience to tell you about prison, about being sentenced to death, about many of the issues that confront society. It’s not that he lacks the knowledge and experience to offer insight. It’s that he’s a psycho killer.

So what makes Donna Hylton a wise choice for a person to speak to hundreds of thousands of women at their march?  At Fault Lines, Matt Brown tries to thread the needle of what someone like Hylton has to offer despite what she did. The “what she did” part needs to be said. Continue reading

The Immigrant Chops

In his signing message on October 3, 1965, Lyndon Baines Johnson explained that the immigration law of the United States, mired in our preference for “good” immigrants from Western Europe, would no longer be based upon what kind of people we “liked.” Those days were done.

This bill says simply that from this day forth those wishing to immigrate to America shall be admitted on the basis of their skills and their close relationship to those already here.

This is a simple test, and it is a fair test. Those who can contribute most to this country–to its growth, to its strength, to its spirit–will be the first that are admitted to this land.

The fairness of this standard is so self-evident that we may well wonder that it has not always been applied. Yet the fact is that for over four decades the immigration policy of the United States has been twisted and has been distorted by the harsh injustice of the national origins quota system.

Are they back? So it would seem. While many argue policy and fallacy, because it’s so much easier to spew feelings, whether supported or passionate, Cato’s David Bier does the unthinkable. He argues law. Continue reading

From Sharktank To Drunktank

How cool is it to buy something “as seen on TV”! After all, if it’s on the telly, it must be real. Not necessarily? Fair enough. But if a Shark on TV buys into it, then it really, really must be real. After all, these are rich guys and they know stuff, right? And if all five sharks go for it, then it doesn’t get more real.

Except when it’s not.

Remember the Breathometer?

You have to admit, it’s a very cool idea. Test your sobriety on your iPhone. Tech plus tech means you’ll never get busted for drunk driving. Plus, you won’t kill babies. Always a plus. And it was available at an Amazon near you! Continue reading

Reporters Reporting Rioters Rioting

Swept into the kettle of felony riot charges during the inauguration of Donald Trump (the one with more people in attendance than all inaugurations ever, if only they can find the really good pictures that truthfully show what Trump believes) were six journalists covering events. The Guardian went nuts.

“These charges are clearly inappropriate, and we are concerned that they could send a chilling message to journalists covering future protests,” said Carlos Lauría, the CPJ’s senior Americas program coordinator. “We call on authorities in Washington to drop these charges immediately.”

“The way we were treated was an absolute travesty,” said Keller, whose cellphone has been kept by the authorities. Keller’s editor, Annabel Park, said: “It is a maddening and frustrating situation. These are people who were there observing and documenting.”

The handling of the arrests was, indeed, a travesty. Some people were engaged in criminal conduct, burning limos and smashing windows. And so the police rounded them up, en masse, by surrounding the group and herding them into what has been called the “kettle.” So what? They deserved it? Continue reading

Downstream Law And The Second Amendment

At National Review, David French takes the Fourth Circuit en banc to task for failing to toughen up.

There’s an old saying that “bad facts make bad law.” In other words, the desire to punish bad people and prevent perceived miscarriages of justice can lead judges to craft overbroad or oppressive opinions that ultimately lead to far worse outcomes. But judges are supposed to wrestle with bad facts, tease out the true and appropriate legal standards, and keep in mind the consequences of their opinions. So, no, bad facts don’t make bad law. Bad judges do.

He has a point, that the job of judging isn’t limited to easy cases with clean, sanitary answers. But to contend that there are “true and appropriate legal standards” is painfully naive. The law is a Rube Goldberg machine, built over centuries, replete with rights and doctrines in perpetual conflict, and when they clash, the answers get messy and ugly. Somebody’s rights will end up coming in second, which in law means they lose.

How rights and doctrines happened can be critical to appreciating why, downstream, another right ends up getting the booby prize. That’s the case in United States v. RobinsonContinue reading

Floyd Abrams v. Publius

There has been much gnashing of teeth over the allegation that the Russians, or more specifically, the very sexy Vladimir Putin, “stole” the election for Trump. If you hate Trump, this is an article of faith, believing it’s true because the government said so (because who doesn’t believe whatever the government says) and then, ignoring the rules of logic to conflate correlation with causation.

It may well be true, but there is no way to know, even if it is, whether it changed anything. But believing is enough to make a lot of otherwise smart people lose their minds. Politics, right?

Yet, what if you learned that the Super PAC or the non-profit that ran those killer political ads was funded by Russia? Or by a corporate giant? What if they were funding a disinformation campaign targeted at their interest and against yours, but concealed behind a wall of secrecy so that you, the American citizen, the voter, had no clue it was all manipulation? Not cool, right?

New York has taken the position that this is a violation of state ethics laws and demands disclosure of who is funding political position ads. After all, don’t you deserve to know if the Saudis put their money behind Pantsuit Nation? And the state has retained the Godfather of Free Speech, Floyd Abrams, to fight its cause. Continue reading

The Arrests That Weren’t

One of the most extraordinary things to come out of the Women’s March was that there were no arrests.

No arrests were made during the Women’s March on Washington Saturday, according to a top official in the capital.

The peaceful protest, which had an estimated 500,000 in attendance, was so much larger than its expected size that the march route had to be altered and couldn’t pass the White House as planned.

As required, the absence of arrests gave rise to finger-pointing and blame, with black women blaming it on White Privilege, the police being kinder to the marchers because they were mostly white women, while the cops explained that the marchers were peaceful, as opposed to, say, Ferguson.

Then the peaceful march narrative took a turn for the worst. Continue reading

The Price Of Quality of Life

A settlement has been reached in Stinson v. City of New York, a class-action lawsuit seeking damages against the City for for making the quality of life for blacks and Latinos suck so that the quality of life in the good neighborhoods wouldn’t.

New York City has agreed to pay up to $75 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit that accused its Police Department of issuing hundreds of thousands of criminal summonses that were later found to be without legal justification, according to a signed copy of the proposed deal filed on Monday.

The summonses had been issued for typically minor offenses, like disorderly conduct, trespassing and drinking in public — quality-of-life concerns that had been a major theme of policing in New York for two decades or so.

The link is to Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s “quality of life” initiative, but this was all the rage back when Giuliani was mayor and Bratton was still police chief the first time, before Rudy fired him for being more popular than he was. Continue reading

Silencing Nair Rodriguez: Of Pigs, Cowards And Killer Cops

Nair Rodriguez has damn good reason to be angry and emotional. Her husband, Luis, was killed by police in front of her and her daughter, in Moore, Oklahoma.

The underlying facts of this killing, which never made “big” news at the time, were sadly pedestrian.

Luis, age 44, his wife Nair, and their then 19-year-old daughter, Luinahi, went to the movie theatre and together watched a movie, Robocop. The theatre served alcohol and although there were security officers working at the theatre (two off-duty game warden officers and one off-duty Moore police officer), local Moore police were summoned because of intoxicated patrons in the theatre.

However, Luis and Nair were not the intoxicated patrons. The autopsy revealed no alcohol in Luis’ bloodstream. Rather, in the parking lot of the theatre, Nair and her daughter had a dispute and Nair slapped her daughter. In fact, in the video you can hear Nair telling the officer that their daughter “has been treating us like crap” and that she was the one who had slapped her.

Continue reading

NY Times To Resurrect The Serial Campus Rapist Myth

Anyone with a smattering of knowledge about the wild west of campus sexual assault hysteria would know that the study by David Lisak was utterly, thoroughly, totally debunked. And, for a brief shining moment, it disappeared from the dialogue, relegated to the trash bin of “fake news.”

It’s back. Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Stephanie Saul, takes the lead in resurrecting the myth:

For several years, researchers have been fiercely debating how many campus rapes are committed by serial offenders. A 2002 study based on surveys of 1,882 college men and published in Violence and Victims, an academic journal, found that as many as 63 percent of those who admitted to behaviors that fit the definition of rape or attempted rape said they had engaged in those behaviors more than once.

But in 2015, a study of 1,642 men at two different colleges was published in JAMA Pediatrics and found that while a larger number of men admitted to behaviors that constituted rape, a smaller percentage of them, closer to 25 percent, were repeat offenders.

Continue reading

Bet You Can’t Read Just One

The posts at Fault Lines are, ahem, exceptional. If you want something to read that will really make you think, read Fault Lines. This is what you’ll find there today:

By Thomas Johnson:
SHOULD THE POLICE BE LEFT TO DECIDE WHO’S “PRESS”?

By David Meyer-Lindenberg:
ACLU TO COPS: TURN OFF THE BODY CAMS (UPDATE)

By Noel Erinjeri:
LOUISIANA’S BLUE LIVES MATTER LAW DOES NOT MEAN WHAT CALDER HEBERT THINKS IT MEANS

By Mario Machado:
SOCIAL MEDIA GIANTS SUED FOR AIDING AND ABETTING ATTACK ON DALLAS COPS

By Sam Bieler:
IS POLICE REFORM OVER WITH AG SESSIONS? ONLY FOR COWARDS

By Lou Hayes, Jr.:
GETTING PAST THE CULT OF COMPLIANCE

You will not find smarter, more provocative, more informative criminal law commentary anywhere.

Facts And Alternative Facts

Actually, the phrase “alternative facts” got a bad rap. Period. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a “fact” is:

 

  • 1:  a thing done: such asa obsolete :  feat

    b :  crime <accessory after the fact>c archaic :  action

  • 2archaic :  performance, doing

  • 3:  the quality of being actual :  actuality <a question of fact hinges on evidence>

  • 4a :  something that has actual existence <space exploration is now a fact>

    b :  an actual occurrence <prove the fact of damage>

  • 5:  a piece of information presented as having objective reality <These are the hard factof the case.>

There are things that are susceptible to objective proof. such as whether there are five objects on a table or not. And then, there are things that are not susceptible to objective proof, such as whether there is a god. Continue reading