Nature v. Nutjob

In the comments to a post at SJ, a deeply passionate ally did his utmost to “dismantle” my frat bro “Klan circle jerk” to protect the honor of fragile womanhood. It was, to be kind, an interesting exchange.

More breaking news! A frat boy condoning non consensual sex-shocking!! You’re a mysogynist…sure you can have problems with the article, but you condone rape here and need to be called for it by other men. pink panty dropper drink…gee whatever do You mean?? im sure you felt Brock Turner should’ve gotten off too…you are the problem-not the author and not the drinking…you and your beliefs and actions…look back decades later with fondness LOL-tell that to the scores of women being raped by your bros. I’m sure You won’t publish this-bros hate to be challengers or have to think deeply about anything…but at least you should read that other men are ashamed of you and your beliefs

Nothing says “take me seriously” more than “LOL.”  But Jonny had plenty more to explain to this “mysogynist.” Seriously, go read the comments. While it’s easy to enjoy this irrational ranting of a cartoon character who thought himself (sorry, still not sure of his/her/Xir’s preferred pronouns) overwhelmingly persuasive, that’s because we don’t have to endure it. We can x out anytime we want.

Not so for the twin boys of Jody Allard. Continue reading

Running Away Is The Only Reasonable Response

Years ago, the late SDNY District Court Judge Harold Baer damn near got himself impeached by doing the unthinkable. He told the truth.

“Had the men not run when the cops began to stare at them, it would have been unusual,” the judge wrote in late January.

That was January, 1996, and the decision was United States v. Bayless. It caused a shitstorm around Judge Baer, who collapsed like a cheap suit, much to Bayless’ lawyer’s, Ramon Pagon’s, consternation.  It was a huge win, and then, poof, it was gone.

The judge, Harold Baer Jr. of Federal District Court in Manhattan, made no direct reference to the political storm his ruling had whipped up from City Hall to the White House. But he expressed regret for the remarks in his original decision that prompted the greatest outrage, in which he had questioned the credibility of police officers and suggested that it was not necessarily suspicious even for innocent people in Washington Heights to run from the police.

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The Pyrrhic Victory For The Disabled (Update)

There are few places on earth more obsessed with social justice, whatever that means for the next ten minutes, than the University of California, Berkeley. But even Berkeley must occasionally confront reality, and as every grown-up knows, reality bites.  So Berkeley had to make its choice, and its choice was to shut down free online content.

The University of California, Berkeley has announced that it may eliminate free online content rather than comply with a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the content accessible to those with disabilities.

The content in question is all free and is for the general public to use. “The department’s findings do not implicate the accessibility of educational opportunities provided to our enrolled students,” said a statement on the situation by Cathy Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education.

Aren’t people with disabilities entitled to the same access to free online education as everyone else? Well yes. Maybe. And not exactly.  This has been a thrust of the DoJ, trying to make the world more socially just for all. Continue reading

Terence Crutcher’s Deadly Breakdown

His SUV was stopped in the middle of a road. Terence Crutcher was a guy who needed a hand, and police, in their public safety function, should have been the nice folks who helped him out. Instead, Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby killed him.

There will be intense parsing of the video of Crutcher’s killing. At Fault Lines, former police officer and firearms instructor Greg Prickett takes apart the video and tries to understand what might have given rise to this killing. The upshot is that while there are explanations, to some limited extent, for Shelby’s shooting, they aren’t good explanations. Not good at all.

But it remains to be seen, according to Greg, whether there is anything more, as the alternative of Betty Shelby being a stone-cold killer cop is hard to fathom. And Tulsa has demonstrated its willingness to prosecute a cop, take a cop to trial and convict a cop, if the facts warrant it. They did so with Robert Bates.

But while all eyes are on the moments before the killing, as the apologists at PoliceOne blame Crutcher for not complying with commands, as if that’s a reason to execute a man, and seek out any excuse to explain why one of theirs gets to kill one who isn’t one of theirs, Terence Crutcher’s SUV wasn’t the only breakdown on the road in Tulsa in need of explanation. Continue reading

Teacher Rapes 5 Students, Gets Probation

The facts are indistinct, but clear enough.  A former teacher at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville, Tennessee, was charged with raping five students. Some of the rapes occurred at the school. Upon arrest, the teacher was released on $1000 bail.

The Metro Nashville Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit started investigating Alston on Nov. 24, 2014 after the principal of Pearl-Cohn High School reported information she received about the teacher.

The investigation into Alston lasted several months and involved multiple interviews with students and others.

Detectives say they were told that Alston had sexual contact with several teens. Some of those incidents occurred on the school’s campus, according to officials.

While conducting “multiple” interviews may give the appearance of a great deal of work, it’s hard to imagine why it took “several months.”  Isn’t a teacher raping five students sufficiently horrible to compel the police to work a little more quickly? Continue reading

Make Drunken Choices, Win Prizes

Breaking: College students sometimes drink alcohol to excess.

When I was in a fraternity in college, the house drink was called a Blue Meanie. Its basic ingredient was grain alcohol, flavored with Blue Curacao and Triple Sec, so it tasted like lemonade. It did the trick. A few of those cool red solo cups and you were blotto.

But we knew what we were doing, and it was no one’s fault but our own if we chose to imbibe. And afterward, no matter what we did while under the influence, even if it was occasionally embarrassing (and it was), it was no one’s fault but our own. We were stupid, but we weren’t stupid about being stupid.

Ashton Katherine Carrick is a senior at the University of North Carolina, and she discovered the idea of getting drunk at college, as if no one ever did it before.

I hadn’t known it at the time, but this was my first introduction to the aspirational “blackout.” That is, intentionally drinking with the goal of submersing yourself in so much alcohol that you can’t remember what happened and the only vestiges that remain from the night before are the videos on your friends’ phones.

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Will All Law Be Business Law?

On the one hand, Indiana lawprof Bill Henderson has been a tenacious proponent of changing the way law schools teach law, On the other hand, he’s fallen under the spell of shiny magic bullets, whether technological or systemic (as in, futurist crackpot Richard Susskind’s “the end of lawyers”). Once on the slippery slope of “why not,” ignoring the damn good reasons why not, it’s hard not to slide to the bottom. That doesn’t mean he’s totally wrong.

According to the recently released government Economic Census data, lawyers disproportionately represent business rather than people.

The work of lawyers is increasingly the work of businesses rather than people.  This conclusion flows from recently released Economic Census data, which is the U.S. Government’s “official five-year measure of American business and the economy.”

For the two most recent years (2007 and 2012), the Economic Census data includes an analysis called Revenues/Receipts by Class of Customer for Selected Industries.  The chart below compares these two years for Offices of Lawyers (NAICS 541110). Continue reading

One Law To Do It All

Imagine if Congress returned from summer camp, everybody hugged and kissed, apologized for all the mean things they’ve said about the other team, and agreed to rid our nation of the scourge of tens of thousands of criminal laws and replace them all with one:

It shall be a crime to engage in wrongful conduct, as determined by the facts and circumstances.

Crazy, obviously. But in a very real way, it’s what they’ve been doing for decades now, and are continuing to do on the federal and state level by the crafting of vague and overly broad laws, laws that lack the degree of clarity to meet the requirements of the Constitution. And yet, courts uphold them.

Shon Hopwood calls for the courts to refuse to be complicit in sloppy lawmaking. Continue reading

Aren’t Lawyers Victims Too?

A twit from Clio’s “lawyer-in-residence” (whatever that means), Joshua Lenon, was an eye-catcher:

‘The average mental state of lawyers is depressed.’ Belief expressed at #shapethelaw

It’s carefully worded to show that, while it was said, it wasn’t that Josh bought it. But still, it was said at a conference with a hashtag.  This “group,” if that’s what it can be called, offers its slogan: Authentic Necessary Collaboration.  That may mean something to you. It doesn’t to me, but then, what do I know? I’m just a lawyer.

Our goal is to help shape the future in terms of how people work and how our legal system functions. This means improving the lives of both lawyers and consumers of legal services. We want to create a community of lawyers that are dedicated to practicing law with authenticity and courage. The community will support one another in creating a society in which law is used for good of all, focused on what justice is and what it means to be just. Wellness, mental, physical, and emotional health plays a core part of each member’s identity not only as a lawyer but as human. One way of doing this is to facilitate safe spaces — such as an unconference to talk about what it means to be a human and a lawyer.

We value community, collaboration, commitment to self-care.

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Bail Weather: Naive With A Chance Of Good Intentions

When something isn’t working the way you think it should, find something different. And few will argue that bail (or bond, as some refer to it instead) isn’t broken, keeping innocent people in jail pending trial for their inability to pay. This has myriad impacts, most notable among them being guilty pleas to crimes that never occurred or weren’t committed by a defendant because it gets him out now rather than sitting in the can for the next year and a half awaiting a trial that will never happen.

So why impose bail? You can’t let people arrested not appear for court in the future. That would subvert the system and reduce the majesty of the law to a farce. (For the sarcasm impaired, that was sarcasm). Under some bail regimes,* it’s also for the safety of the community, since a presumptively innocent defendant might be cut loose, re-offend and ruin a night’s sleep for the judge who let him out, causing the judge’s worst picture to appear on the front page of a tabloid and all dinner invitations to be rescinded. No judge wants to suffer such humiliation. And why take the chance, just to cut some likely mutt a break by adhering to the law.

The solution most adored is the one least subjective, and that provides the most plausible deniability to those involved, so if the shit hits the fan, the defendant who’s cut loose goes out and murders a white family, has sex with their dog, calls police mean names and then snorts crack, it won’t be the judge’s fault. Blame the algorithm! Continue reading

A Constitutional Right, Kensplained

At Fault Lines, Ken White added a wrinkle to an evergreen post amongst criminal defense lawyers.  We keep telling people to STFU.

Criminal defense attorneys say it (often in vain, often too late) to defendants and targets of criminal investigations.  Litigators say it to their angry clients.  When a lawyer says “shut up,” that doesn’t mean you should never talk about your case again.  It means that you shouldn’t talk to police without your lawyer, because the police don’t have your best interests at heart.  It means you shouldn’t talk to your pals about your case, because one of them may be trying to work off an arrest and may repeat what you say to the cops.  They may even be wearing a wire.  It means that everything you say may be used against you – criminally or civilly – and so now, in recognition of your human frailty, you should only say things in carefully controlled circumstances after the benefit of the advice of someone who knows what is going on.

You get it, right? You’ve heard it, over and over, and you don’t need to hear it again. Sure, some n00b will get internet access and have to learn it for the first time, but for you old-timers, we’re boring you. Got it.

So then comes the wrinkle: Continue reading