An Old Man Playing Fantasy Cop With A Real Gun (Update X2)

Just because he was 73 years of age doesn’t mean Bob Bates was beyond playing dress up.  In his case, the fantasy was to pretend he was a cop, and the Tulsa Sheriff’s department offered a guy who just happened to donate enough stuff the chance to strap on a really cool uniform.

But not just a uniform. It came with a gun. A real, working, gun.  A gun with which a guy like Bob Bates, an older fellow who might be scrutinized to determine whether he should be allowed behind the wheel of a car, was provided the chance to shoot and kill another human being.  Via Tulsa World:

Robert Bates, the reserve Tulsa County deputy who fatally shot a man who was in a physical altercation with another deputy last week, has donated thousands of dollars worth of items to the Sheriff’s Office since becoming a reserve deputy in 2008.

Bates, 73, accidentally shot Eric Harris on Thursday, according to Maj. Shannon Clark, after Harris — the subject of an undercover gun and ammunition buy by the Sheriff’s Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force — fled from arrest and then fought with a deputy who tackled him. Bates, Clark said, thought he was holding a stun gun when he pulled the trigger.

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

The New York Times offers one of its occasional editorials decrying the death penalty by pointing out that nobody wants innocent people executed.

And yet, far too often, people end up on death row after being convicted of horrific crimes they did not commit. The lucky ones are exonerated while they are still alive — a macabre club that has grown to include 152 members since 1973.

The rest remain locked up for life in closet-size cells. Some die there of natural causes; in at least two documented cases, inmates who were almost certainly innocent were put to death.

If the innocent on death row are a macabre club, what about its auxiliary, the tens of thousands of people convicted and imprisoned shy of death by the same system? Continue reading

Big Fish, Small Fish and Sting Rays

Not that anyone paying even a modicum of attention is unaware that there’s a cool box around that mimics cell sites so that it picks up your cellular communications, colloquially referred to as the Sting Ray, but that law enforcement has been using it with reckless abandon and without judicial approval. Ah, good times.

The excuse proffered is that Harris Corp., maker of the cell site simulator, required a non-disclosure agreement of law enforcement, and you know how law enforcement feels so strongly about its duty to uphold the law.  Unfortunately, some judges haven’t gotten with the program, and compelled the disclosure of both the NDA and the technology, causing sad cop tears at the idea that the bad guys will learn about the tradecraft.

Bad news for the cops is good news for the bad dudes?  Ironically, yes, but not for the reason one might expect.  It’s not that the gangsters are busy pouring over the schematics of Sting Rays to figure out how to elude detection, but that the feds are so bent on keeping their spyware from judges and public scrutiny that they would rather cut criminals loose than reveal their voodoo. Continue reading

New York Court of Appeals Abandons The Law

Among the few saving graces of the New York Court of Appeals was its stand-alone protection of constitutional rights.  Not that it was some long-haired hippie throw-back to the Warren Court, but that there was a long tradition of the top court refusing to trot in lock-step with the United States Supreme Court when it came to finding novel excuses to ignore the Bill of Rights, or the local flavor, Article I, § 12 of the New York Constitution.

Say bah-bye, as the Court of Appeals, in an opinion by one of its newest judges, Leslie Stein, capitulated to one of the most doctrinally bizarre and incomprehensible decisions ever issued by the Supremes, Heien v. North Carolina.  So much for New York protecting constitutional rights. So much for New York defending its own Constitution. And reason? Be damned.

Lest anyone forget the brilliance of Heien, the Supreme Court held that a police officer can possess probable cause not only for a mistake of fact, which is disturbing enough, but for a “reasonable” mistake of law. Continue reading

But, But, Victim!!!

At Above The Law, Tamara Tabo does the unthinkable.  She refuses to be the victim.

As a university employee, my personal experience with Title IX has been discouraging, frustrating, alienating. I have been recruited to join complaints against male colleagues, most recently against someone with whom I was friends outside of our workplace. I have, when I refused to be a complainant, been interviewed as a witness. I have, when interviewed as a witness, been grilled over a multitude of conversations and social interactions that took place away from campus, in the company of adults, that I never expected that I would one day have to explain in a formal setting.

I quickly realized that Title IX can be applied in ways that don’t tolerate ambiguity or, God forbid, a bawdy sense of humor.

This stemmed from a post about the unfortunate link in an email to students by Drexel law professor Lisa McElroy: Continue reading

The Sunshine Superman Syndrome

A while back, Keith Lee wrote about the Imposter Syndrome, and took the path to happiness:

The problem many people who suffer from imposter syndrome are unable to engage in authentic, detached self-assessment. Some people are unable to look at themselves and their performance in an objective manner. Far easier to look at other people and find yourself lacking by measure. Instead you have to step back and try and look at how you are really performing. 

At the outset, Keith properly criticizes the inability to engage in “authentic, detached self-assessment.”  A worthy point. But then he veers hard left when he writes, “find yourself lacking by measure.”

Why is this a problem?  Chances are pretty darned good that you are lacking. Me too.  Mark Bennett responded to Keith’s happy dance with a smack:

This should be no great surprise; Dunning and Kruger would predict this result. And there are certainly exceptions, but the exceptions are those that Dunning and Kruger might predict: unskilled people who overestimate their own level of skill, rather than the more skilled who underestimate their own.

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Justified Or Avoidable: When Cops Kill

Much as I’ve questioned some of the subjects of the New York Times’ Room for Debate, yesterday’s flavor raised the big question of whether police use deadly force too often, and offered some very thoughtful responses.   One debater, South Carolina law professor and former police officer Seth Stoughton, raised a deeply disconcerting point:

Every time a police shooting gets national attention, the difference in the conflicting attitudes that civilians and law enforcement have toward the use of force is glaring. That conflict drives much of the tension between police agencies and the communities they serve.

Indeed, as I’ve often noted, the First Rule of Policing is to make it home for dinner, a rule that every cop inherently applies in every interaction.

When cops evaluate a use-of-force incident, they ask whether it was justified, focusing on the legal rule set by the Supreme Court in the 1989 case Graham v. Connor. The Court held that officers may use force so long as it is “objectively reasonable.” To determine whether a particular action was objectively reasonable, the Court held, judges must view the situation through the deferential lens of “a reasonable officer on the scene.”

When civilians evaluate a use-of-force incident, they ask whether it was avoidable. They want to know whether the officer could have done something—anything—else.

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But For Video: Horse With No Name Edition

The chase lasted three hours, after sheriff’s deputies in Apple Valley, California, tried to serve a search warrant on Francis Jared Pusok for identity theft.  Pusok took off, and deputies followed.

Authorities said the incident began around 12:12 p.m. when deputies from the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station served a search warrant at a home in the 25300 block of Zuni Road in unincorporated Apple Valley. The warrant was reportedly related to an identity theft investigation. Sheriff’s officials said Pusok fled the residence in a blue Dodge sedan when deputies arrived.

Pusok drove away, refused to yield to deputies, and a pursuit began in the area of Laguna Seca and Standing Rock roads in Apple Valley. The pursuit continued onto southbound Central Avenue and into Apple Valley town limits briefly, before continuing south into unincorporated Hesperia and onto Bowen Ranch Road. The pursuit reached speeds of 70 mph on paved roads, and 50 mph on the dirt roads south of Bowen Ranch Road, authorities said.

But Pusok then stole an unidentified horse and rode into the desert, where the bulk of the chase occurred. Eventually, deputies caught up to Pusok on the unnamed horse and nailed him with a Taser. What happened next was caught on video by a news helicopter. Continue reading

When 99Rise Wanted To Be Heard

At 10:00 a.m., the words ring out:

The Honorable, the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!

It’s a curious tradition, reflecting the conflicted purpose of a court that was constituted to serve a newborn nation, whose purpose wasn’t entirely clear at first. But traditions are funny things, and so the words are repeated every day the Court is in session, term after term, year after year.

When they say “all persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court,” one might hear an invitation.  Need redress?  They’re here for you, if you take this “admonition” literally, notwithstanding the pomposity of calling themselves “honorable.”  After all, shouldn’t honor be something bestowed by others rather than claimed for oneself?

Perhaps a group of young, idealistic people took the opening that way. Perhaps they thought it was truly an invitation to speak to a branch of government comprised of nine lifetime appointees, who were answerable to no one provided they kept their bloomers up. Or perhaps they wanted to make a point and didn’t really give a damn. Continue reading

David Aylor, The Other Shooter

It’s so very tempting, especially to a new lawyer seeking to establish his brand.  After all, the legal marketing gurus all say that if you don’t get out there and sell yourself, who will?  So when Charleston, South Carolina lawyer David Aylor, admitted to practice law in 2006, saw his opening, he went for it.

Aylor was tapped to represent then-North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, who shot and killed Walter Scott.  It was, from all known information at the time, a good gig, a cop who had the usual justification for a kill.  It would put Aylor in the local Post and Courier, sympathetic to his client, and add to his local brand as the “best law firm in Charleston.”

Aylor has quite a few videos on Youtube, reflecting a bit of a penchant for marketing and self-promotion. Of course, these came well before his representation of Slager.  Perhaps he got the Slager case because of them. Perhaps if he had known what would follow, he might have chosen a different brand. Continue reading

Sen. Gillibrand’s Quiet Deletion

The Senate’s foremost advocate for feelz, New York’s own junior Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, may still cling to her deepest, heartfelt belief that American college campuses are hotbeds of rape that make the Congo look like a safe place, but she has silently deleted from her website the thoroughly debunked statistic upon which so much of the hysteria relied. Via Ashe Schow:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., one of the most prominent lawmakers working to curb campus sexual assault, has removed from her website the debunk[ed] claim that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college, according to Politico.

Using the tracking website ChangeDetection.com, Politico’s Caitlin Emma found that a sentence claiming that incredibly high rate of sexual assault had been deleted from Gillibrand’s website page about her bill, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. The change was first detected by Inside Higher Ed reporter Michael Stratford.

The one in five stat has been foundational to the claim that there is an epidemic of rape and sexual assault on campus, justifying the evisceration of due process as well as the demand for extreme changes in law and culture to end this blight that doesn’t exist. Continue reading