Author Archives: SHG

Seattle Police Officer Randy Jokela Makes His Own Law

How to decide who gets to suffer the misery of Seattle cop Randy Jokela? Flip a coin.

Coin Flip

It seems that Jokela either has the best nose for dope in all of Seattle, or he doesn’t care who suffers for his dislike of Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who has been a strong supporter of marijuana legalization.  Either way, Jokela has been a remarkably productive cop:

In a Wednesday afternoon blotter post, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said she reassigned the officer to administrative duty after learning that he had written nearly 80 percent of all the marijuana tickets issued in Seattle between January 1 and June 30.

Sources confirm to KOMO News the officer’s name is Randy Jokela.

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Fresno Deputies and the Terrorists Hiding in Harry Drandell’s Wallet

Prosecutors walk into courthouses across the country with a breezy wave of their hand to the deputies and court officers who stand between Americans and their legal system.  They, of course, can be trusted, because prosecutors are the good guys.  But what about criminal defense lawyers?

In Fresno, criminal defense lawyer Harry Drandell walked into the courthouse that he’s been in a thousand times before.  Somehow, he managed not to do harm to anyone, provided you don’t consider defending the accused doing harm. Some do, you know.  It’s impossible to imagine the deputies at the gate didn’t know Drandell, didn’t recognize him and realize why he was there.  But security changed that day, and nothing is more important than security.  From the Fresno Bee:

Attorney Harry Drandell, 57, refused to let his wallet be scanned by deputies when he tried to enter the courthouse about 10 a.m., sheriff’s spokesman Chris Curtice said. Drandell then became angry and argued with deputies, who ordered him to leave the building. He refused, and scuffled with deputies when they tried to escort him outside. That’s when he was arrested and taken to Fresno County Jail.

He was booked on suspicion of trespass in a public building and resisting arrest.

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“Hackcess” to Delusion: Tech Won’t Do It

As the bar exam takers this week learned the hard way, technology’s promise isn’t always kept.  Sure, it’s shiny and, when it works, can serve as a tool that makes life a bit easier. But when it doesn’t, such as Examsoft’s bar exam failure to allow test takers to upload their answers, it turns into a nightmare.

And yet, those who pray to the tech god as the answer to all the problems mankind can create persist in their belief that somehow, some way, it’s the solution.  The ABA Journal will be holding a “hackathon” in Boston next week, this one dedicated to Access to Justice, which is the cute name given the disaster of people who can’t afford legal representation.

The theme of this hackathon is Hackcess to Justice – and there is prize money to be had. A total of $3,000 will be awarded to the top three hacks, with $1,500 to the winner, $1,000 to second place and $500 to third place. (Read more at this Challengepost page.) Continue reading

Snitch or Suffer

The United States Department of Justice has grown fat and lazy.  Way back when, G-men had to go out and make their cases, find evidence of crimes and get their criminal.  It was hard work,  Then, they figured out a really cool trick: use their ever-increasing clout to beat people into submission with threats of life plus cancer sentences, and turn them into snitches.

Snitches are a panacea for the government. They made everything easy, gave them access to “evidence” that served any purpose they wanted and facilitated the arrest and conviction of any target of their choosing.  And they never had to leave the office.

So there they sat, munching donuts and making threats, as they scared the daylights out some poor schmuck, who then flipped to serve their new master, the Department of Justice.  Ah, the good life. For federal agents and prosecutors, at least. Continue reading

Why Can’t We See It Through The Cops’ Eyes

Via Radley Balko, the story of Roger Carlos’ beating in San Antonio reflects a disconnect from reality that ought to shame Police Chief William McManus into, at the very least, a tearful, heartfelt apology.  But no, it doesn’t.  Not even close.

Roger Carlos was in the 10600 block of Westover Hills Boulevard taking photos of a building that will soon be home to his wife’s medical practice, when he was approached by three officers around 2:30 p.m.

The cops were looking for a drug suspect, Josue Gonzalez, who ditched his car in the parking lot of a restaurant a few hundred feet away.  No Gonzalez. One Carlos.

“All three of them started beating me on the head,” said Carlos, who still showed visible signs of the beating when he spoke with KENS 5 weeks after the incident.

“It was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.” Continue reading

Broken Bullets, A Response To Bill Bratton

Even after the dubious correction posted by the Gothamist about NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s pronouncement of “what is democracy,” where the asserted duty to “respect” police morphed into a duty to “respond” to police, the dysmorphic vision of our relative roles in society remained manifest.  Not to feed into the anger and craziness, but the primary duty, the first responsibility, is Bratton’s to make his cops treat people with respect and courtesy, not the other way around.

This is dangerous turf to discuss.  For those filled with anger and hatred toward the police, as an occupying force subjugating the citizenry through the abuse of their authority and force, this feeds into the cries for resistance and violence.  If the cops are going to break into your house at night, or beat the living daylights out of you before figuring out if you’re the guy they even want to beat (and putting aside the entire question of the wrongfulness of the beating at all), then must we not resist? Must we not defend our lives, our homes, our families against this “band of violent thugs” called the police?

The adage heard too many times is “better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.”  It’s uttered by both sides, and a foundational justification for the First Rule of Policing.  But it’s hard, if not impossible, to argue that not all police are violent, malevolent, when a person finds themselves on the receiving end of arbitrary violence at the hands of the police.  Continue reading

#RevengePorn: Real Numbers Show It’s Not Really A Gender Issue

The anti-revenge porn advocates have put out an infographic with statistics that have found their way into articles on the subject and, ultimately, the discussion supporting its criminalization.  Pounding these numbers has proven a very effective tool in the argument that this is a misogynistic plot by evil men to viciously harm women, and has bolstered the pervasive narrative justifying the need to create new crimes to protect women.

Scott Stroud, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Texas, has put these claims under scrutiny in a Journal of Mass Media Ethics article, The Dark Side of the Online Self: A Pragmatist Critique of the Growing Plague of Revenge Porn.  By no means does Stroud diminish the ugliness of Revenge Porn websites or the harm they do, but he does parse the statistics to reveal that the narrative employed by advocates, and repeated by others who believed they were accurate, do not bear out.

There are two main reasons why a pragmatist inquiry would insist on a rich pluralism in understanding and critiquing revenge porn. First, many of these sites proffer in female and male victims, and some of the first revenge porn postings were of male musicians (Dodero, 2012, April 4). One might argue that there appear to be more females posted than males, and that there are more sites dedicated to females only than mixed-sex sites.* Continue reading

Bratton: Democracy Is All About Showing Police Respect (Update)

Bratton added, “Would you not want us to deal with that quality of life crime?”

That was one of the artful lines offered by NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in a press conference with Mayor de Blasio about the killing of Eric Garner.  The line sought to justify the post-hoc narrative that the police were attempting to arrest Garner for selling loosies, individual cigarettes, without paying the state sales tax.

One response to his killing was that it was over such a trivial “wrong” as to render the police action, Garner’s killing, absurd.  Bratton, whose advocacy of the Broken Windows theory of policing in his first stint under Rudy Giuliani, hasn’t changed. Stop the petty stuff and the big stuff won’t happen. An atmosphere of order will pervade the land, and crime will cease.

The problem with Bratton’s line is the disconnect between the wrong and its solution.  Indeed, for most of those who want to excuse Garner’s killing, the argument is “he shouldn’t have been doing something wrong.”  The failing of the argument is that every wrong, no matter how petty, doesn’t deserve the death penalty.  You wouldn’t think this too nuanced a point, but it completely eludes a great many people.  Apparently, Bratton is among them. Continue reading

Why Congress Can’t Spell Parsimony

Until the day courts realized that the Supreme Court meant what it said in Booker, and that the guidelines really, really weren’t mandatory anymore, nobody gave a damn about 18 U.S.C. §3553(a). It was an orphan statute, rendered superfluous by Mistretta, and the annual tweaks by the unelected commissioners who magically caused huge sentencing swings for reasons that evaded empirical explanation. But that was then, this is now.

In the post-Booker world, there is nothing more critical to sentencing than 3553(a). Until you read it.  Section 3553(a) is best understood as two separate parts, the parsimony clause and the considerations.  First is a clear, and critical statement:

The court shall impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection.

The key phrase is “not greater than necessary,” the admonition that no judge is empowered to imprison a person for a day, a minute, longer than necessary.  The problem is, obviously, necessary to do what?  And so we come to the second part, the considerations: Continue reading

If You Can’t Fubar, Then Why Bother?

For those of you who don’t read the comments, you’re missing something quite remarkable.  An anon commenter here, who goes by the handle Fubar, has taken to offering comments that make my posts pale in comparison:

Excerpted from a manuscript initially hailed as a lost fifth book of Pope’s Dunciad, but quickly proved a wretchedly bad forgery, by a document examiner who could count.

Computer-armed, angry and witless,
Some jerk sent vile taunts to a witness.
“Slice your wrists!” is a threat?
Sayeth Kingkade, “You bet!”
Casting doubt on his logical fitness.

FIRE published the court-released docs.
(They never were locked in Fort Knox.)
“The vile taunt’s recipient
Was a witness percipient.
Lock ‘em up again!” bleat HuffPo’s flocks:

“Due process must always accrue
To me and mine, less so to you.
Tell the world that I’m talking,
I’ll be victim of stalking.
Common sense tells us that just won’t do.”

So goes forth this tale of stupidity,
And reasoning of dubious validity.
Do red faces enraged
Show their brains are engaged?
Or cerebral post-mortem lividity?

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The Gray Lady Gets High

In one sense, it may not come as a huge shock that the New York Times editorial board has decided to go public in support of ending the federal prohibition on marijuana.  After all, its liberal credentials are renown, and isn’t legalizing pot a liberal cause célèbre? But it’s hardly that simple.

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.

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The Silence of the Witnesses

The role played by sociology professor Danielle Dirks, in counseling the purported Occidental College victim to cry rape despite having engaged in consensual sex, became widely known from the publishing of publicly available court papers.  Her name didn’t hit the big time because she was an innocent victim to a terrible crime, but because of what she said:

The student, identified only as “John Doe,” had sex with his accuser on September 8th, 2013, according to details of the case obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Both Doe and his accuser had been drinking. By several accounts, the sex was consensual. The accuser sent Doe a text message beforehand asking him if he had a condom. She also texted a friend and clearly announced her intention to have sex with Doe.

After that night, the accuser spoke with several Occidental employees, including Danielle Dirks, an assistant professor of sociology. Dirks told the accuser that Doe “fit the profile of other rapists on campus in that he had a high GPA in high school, was his class valedictorian, was on [a sports team], and was ‘from a good family.’”

A week later, the accuser filed a sexual assault report against Doe.

At Huffington Post, Tyler Kingkade attacks FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, for its discussion of the Oxy case, including Dirks’ role in influencing the accuser to cry post-hoc rape.  Continue reading