Defending Hypocrites

As I’ve been critical in the past of the New York Times’ Ethicist, Chuck Klosterman, when he sticks his nose into legal issues without having a clue about the law, it’s only fair I write something nice when he gets it right.  Today, he got it right.

The question posed wasn’t an unusual one, at least for people who spend their days trying to help people who wouldn’t give them a glass of water if they were dying of thirst otherwise.

Recently, I needed critical legal advice to save a friend’s life. I was able to get the information, along with a generous offer to provide legal help, from a nonprofit organization. I am incredibly grateful for this advice, which indeed may have saved my friend’s life. But I believe that this organization causes harm to individuals and to society as a whole. In fact, I have vocally opposed them for decades. Was I wrong to seek help from them? NAME WITHHELD, NEW YORK

Sound familiar?  These are our clients.  Hate crime. Love cops. All criminals should rot in hell.  Until they need a hand, when the world shifts on its axis because now it’s their turn.  So far, nothing new. Continue reading

But You Can Trust The Cops, Right?

An aspect of the push for new laws criminalizing intimate conduct that hasn’t been given much attention is the underlying assumption that if such laws are enacted, they will not only be enforced, but they will be enforced by law enforcement with a level of trust and respect for the delicate subject matter and the sensibilities of the victims.

Good luck with that. From lovely Contra Costa, California:

The California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from a DUI suspect’s phone told investigators that he and his fellow officers have been trading such images for years, in a practice that stretches from its Los Angeles office to his own Dublin station, according to court documents obtained by this newspaper Friday.

CHP Officer Sean Harrington, 35, of Martinez, also confessed to stealing explicit photos from the cellphone of a second Contra Costa County DUI suspect in August and forwarding those images to at least two CHP colleagues. The five-year CHP veteran called it a “game” among officers, according to an Oct. 14 search warrant affidavit.

Not to paint cops with too broad a brush, but, ahem, some of them aren’t a whole lot better than those “frat boys” or MRAs you think so poorly of.  In fact, some are pretty awful when it comes to respecting the physical integrity of female suspects, trading off sex acts for arrest because they can.  Continue reading

Blinded By The Light

Sitting next to a lovely young lady at dinner the other night, she turned to me, eyes bright with enthusiasm, to tell me what she was passionate about.  She then asked me what I was passionate about.  I resisted my typical snarky reply, “I’m passionate about never saying I’m passionate,” and deflected the question.  After all, it was a nice dinner and not a lecture, so there was nothing to be gained by being disagreeable.

The problem isn’t so much that I am a “passion” hater, but that people who are “passionate” become so deeply tied to their passion that it blinds them.  They found the light, at least their light, and love it ever so much that they see the world through only passionate eyes. That also means they can’t see the world any other way, because passion.

This was driven home in the reaction to a post here yesterday, which was noted by Judge Kopf at Hercules and the Umpire, and a coattail ride by lawprof Will Baude at Volokh Conspiracy.  All the posts addressed a Slate article by Dahlia Lithwick, but the comments and approach were so starkly different that one would never know they were addressing the same piece.  One side, supportive of Lithwick’s cause, either ignored what she wrote or excused it. The other, unsupportive, not so much. Both were guided by passion, seeing only what confirmed their bias. Continue reading

A Hostile Takeover of Victim, Inc.

Remember the good old days when the demand to criminalize revenge porn was all about the terrible harm being done to women?  It wasn’t just a matter of embarrassment, when private naked images went public, but an attack on gender?  Sure you do. But what happens when reality doesn’t match the narrative?

Revenge porn is widely portrayed as an act committed by men against women. But in a new twist, women are no longer just the victims of those who post explicit photos of someone online without that person’s consent.

They are also the perpetrators of revenge porn.

As one of the foremost legal advocates of the victims of revenge porn, Marc Randazza, responded: Continue reading

Horse-Trading Constitutional Rights

Dahlia Lithwick managed to overcome her Canadian roots, graduate Stanford Law and become a respected writer about the Supreme Court and American law at Slate and other, more credible, media outlets.  So what was she thinking when she blew her cred in this opening paragraph?

The Supreme Court of the John Roberts era gets one thing very right: It’s one of the most free-speech-protective courts in modern history. There is no purveyor of semi-pornographic crush videos, no maker of rape-aspiring violent video games, no homophobic funeral protester, no anti-abortion clinic counselor, and no filthy-rich campaign contribution–seeker whose rights and privileges will not be treated by the court with the utmost reverence and solicitude.

Some very harsh descriptions of the cases, the sort designed to inflame the ignorant who think nothing of the underlying doctrine and instead focus only on the hatred of the content, from someone who passive-aggressively agrees with the rulings. Continue reading

Ferguson and The Grand Jury Sieve

Who says the cops in St. Louis don’t learn how to play the media?  Sure, they may have arrested reporters and gotten nailed on video dismantling equipment after they gassed them, but that was then. This is now:

Some of the physical evidence — including blood spatter analysis, shell casings and ballistics tests — also supports Wilson’s account of the shooting, The Post’s sources said, which casts Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer’s life. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited from publicly discussing the case.

See that last sentence?  These bits, together with Wilson’s accounts, come from grand jury leaks.  The grand jury operates in secrecy, so that means they get to selectively spill what serves their interests and maintain anonymity so they are immune from responsibility for violating grand jury secrecy. Except, Continue reading

The Puddle: Why Are Lawyers So Expensive?

At The Puddle, Sam Glover takes up the annual cause of explaining to the groundlings why lawyers have to charge such high fees.  Personally, I’m just happy to see an occasional new post at The Puddle, because its vapid rehashes of worthless old posts left a huge void for those lawyers whose depth of understanding was maxed out by kitten pictures. Where were they going to learn about the law?

It’s not that the issue of legal fees, and its corollary problem of access to justice, isn’t a perennial fav of blogs, always good for clickbait, that purport to teach lawyers how to practice (and what’s the best scanner to buy), but this time Sam goes in a somewhat unusual direction, making his post discussion-worthy.

I don’t know if the public really appreciates what a lawyer agrees to do for her clients when we sign a retainer. In fact, I think some lawyers need to be reminded. It’s true that many clients just want to get out of jail or a contract or for their insurance company to pay up. But in order to do that, lawyers have [to] commit to much more.

Are we really just like Mother Theresa in a pinstripe suit? Continue reading

When Any Alpaca Will Do

No doubt a psychologist can explain how prescribing a guinea pig for emotional support serves a real purpose, a medically necessary purpose, even if it defies empirical proof.  And similarly, there are those who will speak in glowing terms of how a dog at their side during testimony soothes their anxiety.  Others may feel the same way about a few tumblers of scotch, but Glenlivet isn’t cute and furry.

Walter Olson at Overlawyered exposes the silly side of over-emotionalism in the embrace of comfort animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Author Patricia Marx decided to brazen her way through New York restaurants, museums, high-end fashion shops, and other institutions with five “un-cuddly, non-nurturing animals” such as a turtle, snake, and turkey, and some therapist paperwork that was easy enough to procure.

While it served to produce an hysterically funny, as in ridiculous, tale, it also served to highlight how easily we succumb to the insanity of vagaries in the law. Continue reading

To Silence Mumia

Regardless of whether you think Mumia Abu-Jamal to be a cop killer or political prisoner of a racist legal system, his voice continued to ring out, first from death row and later from his life-cell after his sentence was reduced to slow-death, on social and political issues.  It’s a voice that has something to say, and a voice that others want to hear.

So the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania decided that Mumia must be silenced. From the AP:

Ignoring the chants of protesters on the block where a police officer was killed and the cause célèbre of Mumia Abu-Jamal was born, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law Tuesday a measure he said would curb the “obscene celebrity” cultivated by convicts at the expense of victims.

When there is no rational basis in law for government action, it’s wrapped in the rhetoric of emotion with a pretty pink bow, using phrases artfully designed to evoke enough sorrow and misery to cloud our judgment and blind our eyes. Whether this reflects advocates and politicians getting shiftier, the public getting lazier and stupider, or both isn’t clear. What is clear is that it works. Continue reading

Deputy Matt: Forget Ferguson And Love Me

Via Tim Cushing at Techdirt, a pseudonymous cop who calls himself Deputy Matt explains at the Daily Caller how the evil forces of the media have turned the heads of not just the “normal criminal element” but good people, law-abiding people, from their adoration of the police.

I live and work more than 1900 miles west of Ferguson, but the effects of that case are still being felt here. Not a week goes by without someone I encounter mentioning it.

“Ferguson” has become the latest defense for committing crime, often invoked by people we arrest and their loved ones. Sadly, this feeling has not only infected the normal criminal element that I expect that behavior from, but even seems to be effecting middle class families as well.

Based on the required opening anecdote, offered to prove by one data point that the entire nation has gone nuts, Deputy Matt may misconstrue “the latest defense for committing crime” when what he means is contempt for cops.  Or maybe they’re the same thing. Continue reading

4 Out of 5 Marketers Agree

When I speak about blawging, it’s usually in the context of an ethics lecture.  Ethics and social media is a fairly hot topic, and when the alternatives are guys who make a living off of convincing lawyers that there is no such thing as ethics in social media, it makes me look good.

The one time Kevin O’Keefe made the foolish mistake of inviting me to join him on a panel about blogging at the New York City Bar.  Aside from the fact that I’m not good for business, I’m also not good about people who only want to know a shortcut to the nuts and bolts of fabulous wealth and fame on in the interwebz.  As one woman there demanded, she paid for the CLE (yes, it was a CLE) and damn well expected us to tell what she wanted to know. Ah, lawyers.

So when I was asked to speak to a diverse group of people this weekend about SJ, I saw it as an interesting experiment.  I would speak to the good, bad and ugly of blawging, of which all existed in vast quantities, but it would not be a marketing pitch, as I had nothing to sell.  It wasn’t about my own great glory, since I was well aware nobody cared, nor about some magic bullet that didn’t exist.  It would be real.  At least, that was my plan. Continue reading