Category Archives: Uncategorized

Whatever, Waco

There are two surprising bits in this story from the Waco Trib.

A visiting judge ruled Monday that authorities had sufficient probable cause to arrest a pistol-packing chaplain for the Bandidos motorcycle group.

Lawrence Yager, a 65-year-old minister from Buda who said he is chaplain for the Bandidos and two veterans groups, at his Monday examining trial challenged the authority under which he was arrested after the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout.

The first is that the Bandidos motorcycle club has a chaplain.  It’s not so much that the club may indulge, on rare occasion, in activities that could possibly be considered contrary to religious teachings. Motorcycle clubs can do that sometimes.  Especially when the club picked the name “Bandidos” to capture its essence.

It’s that, well, the devotion to the deity of choice is really kinda sweet.  And perhaps, given some of the things they are accused of doing, it’s a wise choice to keep a channel to the lord as close at hand as possible. Continue reading

Bazelon Forfeits Her Credibility

Among the very small world of established and credible legal pundits, three women stood at the pinnacle:  Linda Greenhouse, Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon. They earned their cred from years of hard work, honest writing and legal acumen. But like any other pundit, regardless of gender, their credibility is at risk when they trade off their politics for their integrity. Today is Bazelon’s turn to fall.

The case is a difficult one, still on trial and hotly contested, dealing with terrible allegations of rape at the private prep school, St. Paul’s.  The alleged victim says she was raped by a senior.  The senior denies they engaged in sex. Bazelon will have none of it.

The dispute is a familiar-enough scenario for a rape case. But the fact that it has gone to court is also relatively unusual for a reason that may seem surprising: Labrie’s guilt or innocence hinges on the question of consent. This is much less common than you might assume — in fact, in many states, Labrie probably would not face felony charges of sexual assault at all. (Emphasis added.)

This premise, upon which the balance of her commentary relies, is not merely wrong, but a deliberate distortion, a lie if you will.  As already noted, consent has nothing whatsoever to do with anything in this trial. He testified that he did not have sex with her, consent or not. Continue reading

The Nasty Smell of Kiddie Porn

The headline is misleading, but definitely catchy:

Porn-Sniffing Dog Helped Bring Down Subway Star Jared Fogle.

No, dogs cannot smell porn. Not kiddie porn. Not adult porn. Not lawful or unlawful porn. Not porn at all.   A $5 footlong, sure, but pretty much anyone can smell that, not that they necessarily want to unless they’ve made millions off them.

Yet, apparently, dogs (Labradors in particular) can be trained to sniff out data storage devices. Whoda thunk?

A rambunctious black Labrador named Bear — one of only five dogs in the nation trained to sniff out electronic data devices — played a key role in thearrest of former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle on child-porn charges.

The 2-year-old rescue pooch nosed out a thumb drive that humans had failed to find during a search of Fogle’s Indiana house in July, several weeks before he agreed to plead guilty to having X-rated images of minors and paying to have sex with teenage girls.

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A Modest Definition of “Now”

The email from a young colleague seemed sufficiently emphatic:

I really need to speak with you now. When are you available for a call?

I made myself available, and responded immediately.

I’m here. Call me now.

As I spent the next ten minutes twiddling my thumbs, one eye on the silent phone, I started to burn. I had things to do, but when there’s an emergency, I do what I have to do to help. I sat there. I sat there some more. Finally the phone rang, and I grabbed it. It was some guy’s robo voice congratulating me for having been selected to get a business loan. Well, that was sure worth my having blown ten minutes of my life.

About an hour later, I got another email from the same colleague: Continue reading

The Poor, Maligned Office of Civil Rights

The first sentence of the article started that twitch that happens when it presages bad things to come.

In response to alarming statistics indicating that sexual violence is widespread at colleges and universities—and growing pressure from activists to do something about it—the Obama administration’s Department of Education has taken aggressive steps to enforce Title IX of the Education Amendments against sexual harassment and violence on campus. 

Oof.  I can’t even, to borrow a phrase.  But as the author, lawprof and former DoJ principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, Sam Bagenstos, pointed out to me on the twitters where I was critical of the post, the article really wasn’t about statistics. He had a point. He accepted the basic premise that there was a rape epidemic happening, as his purpose wasn’t to debate its existence or depth.  That was merely a given in his article.

The point of Bagenstos’ article was that the fiasco that’s manifested in colleges nationwide applying the “suggestions” of the “dear colleague” letter from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights wasn’t the government’s fault, but the outgrowth of a cottage industry of Title IX coordinators determined to milk the system for all its worth. Continue reading

A Judge’s Lament: Not Good Enough

The judge found the “cover-up worse than the crime,” which would seem to lead to the inexorable conclusion that if one had to be punished to be deterred, she would pick the cover-up.  And that’s where Louisville, Kentucky Judge  Audra Eckerle seemed to be heading.

In a sometimes blistering ruling Tuesday, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Audra Eckerle accused a prosecutor of intentionally withholding evidence and “secretly” trying to hide his tracks.

In her ruling, Eckerle maintained that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office excluded documents from evidence turned over to the defense, “secretly” shelved the subpoena saying how they had obtained the records and prejudiced Sandoval.

And Eckerle said while withholding the documents was bad enough, “the intentional dismantling of evidence and extraction of other documents that would have shown it was hiding other documents is even worse than the concealment of the medical records.”

Not just Brady, but the narrow and rarely used Mooney brand of intentional concealment.  The reason no one uses Mooney is that it’s nearly impossible to prove, and even if you do, judges almost never adopt it. It’s one thing to say that exculpatory evidence has not been disclosed, and another to lay blame on a prosecutor for intentional, malevolent concealment.  That’s a step too far, and the surest way to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. Continue reading

Jailhouse Lawyers, The Unicorn In The Next Cell

Shon Hopwood was a freak of nature.  How he was capable of such astounding success as a jailhouse lawyer is a mystery, but he was.  And so to the clueless eye, this means jailhouse lawyers are saviors of the downtrodden prisoner. Yet again, the Marshall Project, the self-proclaimed savior of criminal law because no one else has ever bothered to write about it, dives into the cesspool.

In a post entitled, ‘For $12 of Commissary, He Got 10 Years Off His Sentence,’ itself a silly conflation of unrelated things typically used to create an impression designed to fool the unwary.  Or, had the outcome been different, as it is in 99.9% of the cases, “for $12 of commissary, he got squat.”

The post has two thrusts, an homage to jailhouse lawyers and debunking their “myth.”

What Everyone Gets Wrong

“There’s this story about prisoners constantly using lawsuits to complain about frivolous things,” says Meeropol. The image of the prisoner with too much time on his hands, filing one lawsuit after another, gained currency in the 1990s, and remains potent today. “Rikers Island inmates cost city big $$ with ‘frivolous’ lawsuits,” blared the New York Post(citing anonymous sources) in 2013. A San Diego paper ran a similar story that same year.

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Their Special Bill of Rights

Like whoever came up with the name heirloom tomatoes (because nobody would buy them if they were called ugly misshapen tomatoes), the person who coined the name Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights did a great job.  Who wants to be against the Bill of Rights? When you cut cops, do they not bleed? Are they not entitled to rights?

Well sure, and no, not at all.  The LEOBR is a gimmick, a union negotiating ploy wrapped in a pristine blue ribbon, designed to save the taxpayers a few bucks until the next contract negotiation while giving cops a benefit of enormous value. It’s a political win-win, as no politician has ever lost an election for his support of LEOBR.

In the aftermath of the Freddie Gray killing in Baltimore, however, the Maryland lege is under pressure to review how the LEOBR undermined a serious investigation into the police role in the murder.  Most notably, how is it possible that your ordinary citizen killer gets seized and interrogated immediately, Reid technique applied to a lone person in a windowless room, when cops get ample time to get their story straight and a union rep at their side?

The arguments in favor are fascinating, as they are in direct facial conflict with the arguments for depriving citizens of similar benefits. Why cops and not you?

A hearing is scheduled before the Public Safety and Policing Work Group, programmed like a play by Kafka. Continue reading

California To The World: It’s All Our Campus

The rationale was dubious from the outset.  Title IX, they said, entitled students to a safe environment, which morphed into an environment where no one, no matter how delicate or irresponsible, no matter how infantile or peculiar, would suffer unpleasant feelings, no matter what the costs. Those costs being the safety of, and fairness to, other students about whom nobody gave a damn.

And now, boom!  The rationale was lost to the rubric.

California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s (D) bill, which would allow community colleges in the state to punish students for off-campus sexual assaults, was approved by the state senate unanimously this past week.

Her bill was introduced back in February. It now awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature to become law.

He’s a hard-working gov, that Jerry Brown. He must get hand cramps.  From the Daily Nexus: Continue reading

A Night of Mistakes On Both Sides

The split was 8-4 when the mistrial was declared in the trial of 29-year-old, three year veteran Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick for shooting 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell to death.  The night went from bad to deadly bad for Ferrell.

The shooting unfolded on Sept. 14, 2013, after Ferrell, who’d once played defensive back for Florida A&M University, crawled from a wrecked car and staggered to a nearby house for help. A woman inside called 911 to report a possible break-in. Kerrick and two other officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department responded to the scene.

And yes, Ferrell was black. Kerrick was white. Ferrell mistakenly thought that being the victim in an auto accident would somehow relieve him of the burden of being black in the gunsight of a cop for at least that moment. He was deathly wrong.

Police dashcam footage showed officers pointing Tasers at Ferrell, who then ran. Kerrick, who’d been an officer for three years, stood in his path. He shouted for Ferrell to get on the ground, then shot Ferrell 10 times. Kerrick said he feared Ferrell was going to hurt him when he opened fire.

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Fault Lines: Can You Make A Difference?

Fault Lines has grown exponentially since its inception less than three months ago, and it’s time to bulk up its writers.  I am looking for five new writers for FL, and rather than just reach out to people I already know, now seems a good time to open the door to new voices.

Do you want to do something that will matter to others?  Do you have insights that will cause other people to think, to consider ideas they may not have considered before?  This is the way to make it happen.

There is one firm criterion: you must speak from authority. I’m looking for lawyers or academics who know what they’re talking about. This isn’t about pontification, but illumination.

Everyone has opinions, and everyone thinks their opinions are worthwhile. This is about bringing a deeper insight into criminal law news. FL is about bringing all perspectives, cop, prosecutor, private defense, public defense, together, even if they are in direct conflict, in a way that enlightens. Continue reading

Disruptive Investing For Millennials: Suckers

Some millennials blame their boomer parents for making them the Slackoisie, because of feeding, housing and clothing them during their formative years. Oh yeah, and ruining the environment, economy and mental stability of their generation.  We’re sorry about that, by the way, but now that you’re almost grown ups, you might do better putting your efforts into fixing things rather than whining about them.

Anyway, as millennials are finally coming to the realization that they will need to do something with the money they saved while living in their parents’ basement, eating their parents food, complaining about how they are micro-aggressed and harassed by all things hurtful to their delicate psyche, they are embarking on a journey into the fabulous world of investing.

And, like most other things in their life, it’s too much work. It’s hard. It requires thought. Somebody needs to do it for them.

Well, aren’t you the lucky ones, as your need is about to be filled.

Remember how Goldman did all that research on Millennials and concluded that they suck and are terrible?

Turns out the annoying beliefs and habits of the next generation are actually already being used against them by some canny young entrepreneurs.

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