Ferguson: Whiteness or Copness

In an unsurprisingly confused New York Times op-ed, Kate Manne, assistant professor of philosophy at Cornell University and writer on moral and feminist philosophy, seeks to explain the phenomenon of police treating protesters in Ferguson “like animals.”

On Sept. 26, two peaceful protesters were arrested in Ferguson, Mo. Watch this video (warning: includes profanity) and you will see two white officers arresting a young black woman who is wearing a red hoodie. One tackles her in a chokehold and yanks her hands behind her back. She whimpers, and they force her face down on the pavement. They then carry her off with one officer holding her by an arm, and the other holding her by a leg. Her body has gone limp; they dangle her between them carelessly. Why were these two men handling her “like an animal?” asks the protester recording the scene with her cellphone. It is a good question. And its answer is not obvious.

That her attention is drawn to the mistreatment of a protester, giving rise to her questioning why some human beings treat other human beings so callously, is good.  But as one commenter to the post notes, Manne blindly assumes that the analysis begins with race.

Manne has an agenda and plugs Ferguson into her favored paradigm. Continue reading

Direct Inverse Proportion: Words to Worthiness

I spent a few hours this morning researching some nice folks I’ve been asked to introduce at a panel I’m moderating next weekend, and I thought immediately of Jeff Gamso’s intro of a panel yesterday at the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers conference.

Gamso:  “This is so and so, who’s a good criminal defense lawyer.” /end

This may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I liked it.  One of the things I find disturbing is the need for people to be self-aggrandizing, rather than to let their body of work speak for itself.  “What,” you say?  They have no body of work, so they have to be self-aggrandizing.  After all, if they didn’t tell the world how groovy they are, how would anybody know?

Well, true. And that’s the point. If they have to tell the world, then chances are extremely good that they aren’t all that groovy.  If they were, the world would know. Continue reading

Criminalizing Creepy (Update)

It turns out that there is a narrow slice of the world where creepy people can engage in kinda twisted stuff without committing a crime.  The place happens to be on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  From the Washington Post:

“There is no evidence Mr. [Christopher Hunt] Cleveland positioned his camera in any way or employed photographic techniques or illumination, so as to capture images that were not already on public display,” [D.C. Superior Court Judge Juliet J.] McKenna wrote in her ruling.

This appears to be technically true.

The move was opposed by U.S. Attorney Akhi Johnson, who wrote in a filing that “it would be difficult to dispute that women generally have a subjective expectation of privacy against photographs of their private areas while wearing clothing to cover the private area.”

Continue reading

Falling For Technology’s Promise

According to 4Chan, the Snappening is imminent.

Hackers have warned that thousands of nude images sent via the mobile-messaging service Snapchat, many of which users believed self-destructed after being sent, are to be released online in a searchable database.

Messaging boards on the notorious website 4chan have been filling up with news of the imminent leak, already being referred to as “The Snappening”.

Snapchat is one of the tiny handful of tech ideas that survive the initial chuckle, filling a peculiar niche for people who want to show someone an image, but only once, and then have it disappear into the ether.  It’s not entirely clear why this is a desirable feature, but it is for some.  The reason for wanting an image to disappear isn’t hard to understand; what makes this dubious is the need to show the image at all if it’s not an image that a person wants to keep around. Continue reading

A Warm, Yet Disturbing, Vignette

When Jake DiMare sent me the link to Rawstory, he included the subject line “this gave me a feeling.”  I responded, “me too,” but wasn’t entirely clear what the feeling was.  You see, so many of these videos end with blood on the sidewalk, or if we’re lucky, only a man being led away in cuffs for having the audacity of being all black and stuff.  Not this one.

On its surface, one could see a man, Dennis Stucky, sitting on the curb, wrongly denied his right to be left alone even though it was a neighborhood where he appeared “out of place,” with a woman who came to his aid, a lawyer, who not only dealt with the police, but took charge of the man, walked him to freedom and made clear that the police were not welcome to engage in such impropriety in that neighborhood.

Jody Westby was a star.  A good person. A strong person. A person who stood up for another person in need.  While it’s possible she could have been at some risk, she gave it no thought. But then, a woman like Westby would never think she’s at risk from the police.  And for the most part, that’s true. Continue reading

Jenny Miranda Update: A Failed Plan

If someone had bet me that I would mention the name of sensitive publicist, Jenny Miranda, again, I would have taken that bet.  After all, she was a one-post wonder, and sufficiently butthurt that she was going to make magic happen so I could never again besmirch her reputation.

I informed you that you are in the Gorkana database as someone who receives pitches. I will call them myself and show them the blog you wrote and explain to them this is what can happen if you are not removed. I’d hate for another publicist to go through this.

I don’t plan on reaching out to you again. I’ll handle everything through Gorkana directly.

And had I taken that bet that I would never again hear from Jenny Miranda, I would have lost.  And lost quickly.  There it was, in my inbox, prominent, smirking at me, daring me, tempting me.  Another pitch from Jenny Miranda, PR Executive Consultant. Continue reading

Defying Gravity

Remember Riff, Bernardo and Tony?  Immortalized by Leonard Bernstein for your viewing pleasure:

These were simpler times, when gun referred to a zip gun, but the weapon of choice was the switchblade and gravity knife.  Ethnic gangs of New York held rumbles, and these kids used knives that could easily be deployed with the flick of a wrist. And so, New York Penal Law §265.01(1) followed, “fixing” the hysteria of the day by criminalizing  the sorts of knives that rumbling gangs preferred: Continue reading

Dot Lawyer

And because there are too few opportunities for lawyers to put on their hotpants and strut down the boulevard giving their sexy come hither look, ICANN came up with two new “general top level domain” names for your marketing pleasure.



Apparently, rumors that dot sleazebag would also become available were greatly exaggerated.   The new GTLD names became available yesterday, forcing guys like me to buy up our names so that someone else didn’t. Yes, I purchased scottgreenfield.lawyer and scottgreenfield.attorney. They forward to my old website, simplejustice.us, which makes them a total waste of money.  But the alternative was to have Jamison Koehler buy them for his, ahem, massage services.  The tummy rub problem loomed large.

For those lawyers who were slow on the uptake and missed the opportunity to buy urls for their name, this is a second chance at establishing an internet existence.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  These new GTLD names are regulated, meaning that you are supposed to actually be a lawyer to get to use dot lawyer or dot attorney urls.  Whether that proves accurate has yet to be seen.  It doesn’t seem too hard to game, and I would shocked if it turns out that the use of these urls is actually limited to lawyers. Continue reading

Due Deference and The Vignette

In deconstructing the tête-à-tête between Judge Richard Kopf and Lawprof Orin Kerr the other day, I noted the “remarkable deference” shown police safety by the judge.  Judge Kopf reacted by offering a vignette involving the murder of Nebraska State Trooper George Amos in 1973.

This is not an excuse, this is not an explanation, this is not a denial and this is not an admission. Literary types might call it a vignette–a small illustration that fades into its background without a definite border.

The difference between due deference and undue deference is the accumulation of our experiences that give rise to our sensibilities.  Our lives are made up of thousands of such vignettes. They are neither right nor wrong. They simply are.

Whether we remember them explicitly or simply allow them to fade into our subconscious as a piece of the puzzle that forms the line we constantly draw between right and wrong, good and evil, isn’t important. They exist for each of us, and that’s enough. Continue reading

Uniform Bar Exam?

For some time, there has been a strong push for the licensing of lawyers on the national level rather than by state jurisdictions.  In a flat world, where the internet makes a lawyer in Peoria as accessible as one down the block, it creates options for both lawyer and client that never before existed.  And from a more self-serving view, it enables lawyers who are admitted to the bar in one jurisdiction to take jobs or cases in other jurisdictions without having to retake the bar exam.

The New York Board of Law Examiners supports the replacement of the state bar exam with the Uniform Bar Exam.  The New York Court of Appeals has asked for comment from the bar.

The New York State Board of Law Examiners (SBLE) has recommended to the New York Court of Appeals that the current bar examination be replaced with the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). To date, 14 other state jurisdictions have adopted the UBE, but New York would be a national leader as the first large state in terms of bar applicants to administer this test, having examined over 15,200 candidates in 2014.

Is it really significant that New York would be the “first large state” to go the UBE route?  Certainly, from the perspective of state bar examiners this would matter, as it’s a leap into the abyss from which there is no return.  So a bunch of small states are happy enough to take down the walls, but the real action is in the big cities, and they don’t get much bigger than the Big Apple. Continue reading

The Blissful Solitude of a Revenge Porn Crusader (Update)

One of the Popehats (it’s hard to tell whether it was Ken White or Patrick Beige) twitted a bit of hyperbole:


The twit referred to Mark Bennett’s First Amendment 101 post, clearing up the lawprof Danielle Citron’s effort to obfuscate the law in the hope to deceive non-lawyers into believing that her model revenge porn law wasn’t flagrantly unconstitutional.

Citron’s lieutenant in the battle, Mary Anne Franks took up arms against this twit by offering one of her own.


Obviously, Franks thought her twit witty and cutting.  I thought it rather infantile and goofy, particularly for someone with academic pretenses.  Particularly for someone so quick to attack others for not being as matronly as she demands.  So I went to retwit it.  I tried. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. That’s weird, I thought to myself. And then I saw the notice at the top. Continue reading

Law: Too Little, Too Late

For those who practice law, human interaction too often falls into our skewed paradigm of comply now, grieve later.  We promote that notion because that’s how the law works.  What we too often fail to grasp is that it’s not a feature, but a bug, and we’re just too indoctrinated into what’s good for us that we fail to see how bad a solution it is for real people.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a ruling about our favorite suburb of St. Louis:

Police may not force peaceful, law-abiding protesters to keep moving, a federal judge said Monday, because it violates their constitutional rights.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued a preliminary injunction ordering police to stop using a crowd-control tactic that was intended to enforce curfew during the most volatile nights of the Ferguson protests.

Ain’t that great?  Remember when the nation’s eyes were on Ferguson, galvanized by the killing of Michael Brown and images of militarized police running roughshod over a handful of our most beloved constitutional amendments?  Remember how the cops shut it down by herding reporters into tiny First Amendment pens, arresting protesters who didn’t keep on trucking, firing into crowds that just didn’t do as they were told? Continue reading