Is The Washington State Experiment Committing Suicide? (Update)

It was a remarkably bold move when Washington State embraced the concept of Limited License Legal Technicians, or 3LTs as I’ve called them. There has been no shortage of truly bad, really unworkable, ideas to address the Access to Justice problem, but this was an idea that seemed to have merit. No, there was no assurance that this was “the answer,” but at least it was a sound effort.

And so, it’s imploding.

Last month, nearly the entire Practice of Law Board resigned along with several former or prospective Board members who had been nominated and were awaiting appointment or reappointment to the Board. We are a group of dedicated volunteers with decades of experience serving on a wide variety of professional and community boards and organizations. We have a deep commitment to and long track record of increasing access to justice. The Board’s mission is laudable and we could have accomplished much to help increase the availability of legal services to the public if we had been allowed to do our job. Instead of advancing our mission during the past two years, we have spent more time and energy responding to and fending off the Washington State Bar Association’s efforts to undermine and eliminate our Board.

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The Threatened Sense of Safety

Very bad things are happening on college campuses across the nation. Not the systemic racism of which so many complain. Not the never-ending stream of rapes allegations. Not the dethroning of college presidents or apologies of college administrators whose crime is failing to adhere to the orthodoxy of the Academy.

These may all be bad things, to the extent they’re true (and I have no doubt that there is truth in there; we may have come a long way in battling racism, but racism remains).  But these aren’t the bad things of which I write. The bad things are the dumbing down of thought, of rights, of words. And they make it impossible to fix the other bad things as we’ve lost the ability to distinguish, and in some instances care, between real harms and empty whining.

I was asked yesterday how it’s possible I can be as concerned as I am about the killing of black men by police, yet so callous about the racism and sexual assault claims on college campuses.  Which side am I on? The only answer I can give is that I’m on the side of real harms rather than “senses” of anything.  At HuffPo College, a statement by Yale senior, Reine Ibala, a founder of the Black Ivy Coalition, said:

“To the students of color at Mizzou, we stand with you in solidarity. To those who would threaten their sense of safety, we are watching.  #ConcernedStudent1950 #InSoliarityWithMizzou.”

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“Massive Hack” Reveals What Everybody Knew

Everybody, except maybe The Intercept, who has anything to do with the criminal justice system knows that you don’t talk about anything that matters on a jailhouse phone*.

There are signs by the phones: All Calls Are Recorded.

They’re not kidding. They’re not kidding when they say they’re “recorded.” They’re not kidding when they say “all.” And yet, amazement fills the air when people learn that all calls are recorded.

AN ENORMOUS CACHE of phone records obtained by The Intercept reveals a major breach of security at Securus Technologies, a leading provider of phone services inside the nation’s prisons and jails. The materials — leaked via SecureDrop by an anonymous hacker who believes that Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates — comprise over 70 million records of phone calls, placed by prisoners to at least 37 states, in addition to links to downloadable recordings of the calls.

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Mizzou Media, Servant To The Cause

Regardless of the facts, the claims of racism (systemic or individual) and the secondary claims of “pain” of being subject to feeling unvalued, betrayed and vulnerable, the anger turned from the grown-ups who didn’t do as desired to the media who did as expected.

In an article that’s striking for having found its way into the Washington Post, an actual newspaper, Terrell Jermaine Starr tries to explain:

These student protesters were not a government entity stonewalling access to public information or a public official hiding from media questions. They were young people trying to create a safe space from not only the racism they encounter on campus, but the insensitivity they encounter in the news media. In the outsized conversation that erupted about First-Amendment rights, journalists drowned out the very message of the students Tai was covering.

Establishing a “safe space” was about much more than denying the media access; it was about securing a rare space where their blackness could not be violated. Yes, the hunger strike, the safe space and other student demonstrations were protests, and protests should be covered. But what was fueling those protests was black pain. In most circumstances, when covering people who are in pain, journalists offer extra space and empathy. But that didn’t happen in this case; these young people weren’t treated as hurting victims.

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Trained To Kill: Why Car Chases End In Death

There seemed to be an inexplicable likelihood that a car chase would end in the police killing someone, and I ponder why that would be.  The Supreme Court, being as kind as it could to me, provided an answer in its per curiam opinion in Mullenix v. Luna.

In Brosseau, which also involved the shooting of a suspect fleeing by car, the Ninth Circuit denied qualified immunity on the ground that the officer had violated the clearly established rule, set forth in Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U. S. 1 (1985), that “deadly force is only permissible where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others.” . . . The correct inquiry, the Court explained, was whether it was clearly established that the Fourth Amendment prohibited the officer’s conduct in the “‘situation [she] confronted’: whether to shoot a disturbed felon, set on avoiding capture through vehicular flight, when persons in the immediate area are at risk from that flight.”

In this case, Mullenix confronted a reportedly intoxicated fugitive, set on avoiding capture through high-speed vehicular flight, who twice during his flight had threatened to shoot police officers, and who was moments away from encountering an officer at Cemetery Road. The relevant inquiry is whether existing precedent placed the conclusion that Mullenix acted unreasonably in these circumstances “beyond debate.” al-Kidd, supra, at 741. The general principle that deadly force requires a sufficient threat hardly settles this matter. See Pasco v. Knoblauch, 566 F. 3d 572, 580 (CA5 2009) (“[I]t would be unreasonable to expect a police officer to make the numerous legal conclusions necessary to apply Garner to a highspeed car chase . . .”).

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Dara Lind: Yale Promised Paradise

The young Yale student caught on video behaving poorly wanted a personal champion. Her complaint of Silliman College master Nicholas Christakis was that he failed to deliver.  He failed to fulfill the promise that the residential college would be her home.

She was unnamed in the post here, though she’s been doxxed elsewhere. Daniel Denzer had a point about what happened, that this was a child at her worst, and shouldn’t be forever tainted because her moment of childishness went viral.  What Greg Lukianoff’s video represented was an example of what was wrong, not a personal condemnation of the young lady who did it. You can’t blame a child for doing childish things. That’s their nature.

But a champion has appeared to explain the broken promise of which she spoke, and that champion is no longer protected as a child.  Vox’s Dara Lind is one of those non-lawyer writers who tries her hand at writing about legal issues. She may not be Radley Balko caliber, but she’s better than anyone at Slate and certainly the best Vox has to offer.  Mostly, she tries to get it right, which is worthy of recognition.

Lind wears her heart on her page to explain for the young lady who felt entitled to berate Christakis, and the other young lady who wrote a Yale Herald op-ed that was later removed because it was seen by unsympathetic eyes.  Lind offers her first-person view, that Yale broke its promise to Lind, as well as to these students, and outsiders don’t understand. Continue reading

Jack Yantis And The Bull Are Dead (Updated)

The details are about as far away from the usual cop killing as they come.  Jack Yantis was a rancher in Idaho, which is a state somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  That’s why they let their cows and bulls roam on the open plain. And by open plain, that includes U.S. 95, a highway where cars drive. It makes no sense to me, but then, I’m really not on top of bull issues.

It began with a phone call to Yantis from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher.  The Yantis’ lived “near milepost 142 of U.S. 95, about 6 miles north of Council,” and apparently one of their “2,500-pound black Gelbvieh bulls, similar to an Angus, named Keiford” was hit by a Subaru station wagon. Apparently, it was left to Yantis, who was having a nice dinner with his friend, Rowdy Paradis, to put his bull down and clean up the mess.  Off they went, with Mrs. Yantis, to deal with the bull.

Jack Yantis told Paradis to get a rifle, the family’s skid-steer loader (a small front-end loader) and a chain. Paradis in turn asked his aunt to the get the family’s .204-caliber rifle and bring it to the road.

While Paradis was getting the skid loader, the deputies started shooting at the bull. At least one of them had a semiautomatic rifle, perhaps an AR-15, an adaptation of the military M16.

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Mizzou: From Hotbed To Hot Mess

A mere 24 hours ago, I was impressed by the determination of the University of Missouri football team.  Not that they were in bowl contention, but that they made the decision to take a risk, a huge risk, and put some skin in the game. The black players decided to strike, to refuse to play ball, and they had the support of their coaches and white players.

Their grievance? “Systemic racism,” they said. Their demand?

“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,’” the tweet read. “We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!”

The “injustice” wasn’t quite as clear. There were instances of claimed racism, but that’s not a basis for a claim that it’s systemic.  It appears that the heart of the problem was that Wolfe acted too slowly in condemning the instances. They felt he failed to “respect and value” their voices, whatever that means. Continue reading

But For Video: Crimson Tide Edition

It can be soooo annoying when kids throw a loud party.  So call the Tuscaloosa cops to tell those darn University of Alabama kids to keep it down. Or else.

And if the tasing isn’t enough to teach a student a good lesson, there’s always beating him with a billy club too. High tech gadgets just don’t provide the same level of law enforcement satisfaction as a good hands-on beating.

The “Real” Problem At Yale

Avoiding the compulsion to make a cheap pun out of the word “Sillimanders,” the name given the residents of Silliman College at Yale university, a post by senior Aaron Z. Lewis tries to clear up the misunderstanding reflected by outsiders, like me.

By now, you’ve probably seen the video of a Yale student yelling at a professor, the Facebook post about a “white girls only” party, or the email about offensive Halloween costumes. Unfortunately, the short YouTube clips and articles I’ve seen don’t even come close to painting an accurate picture of what’s happening at Yale. I’m a senior here, and I’ve experienced the controversy firsthand over the past week (and years). I want to tell a more complete story and set a few facts straight.

For starters: the protests are not really about Halloween costumes or a frat party. They’re about a mismatch between the Yale we find in admissions brochures and the Yale we experience every day. They’re about real experiences with racism on this campus that have gone unacknowledged for far too long. The university sells itself as a welcoming and inclusive place for people of all backgrounds. Unfortunately, it often isn’t.

It’s good that Lewis wants to tell a more complete story. I want to learn a more complete story. It appears that the “complete story” is that Yale is a hotbed of racism and its administration didn’t admit its failing fast enough. Continue reading

Reinventing Boys

Jane McManus, an ESPN reporter, wrote about how her middle school daughter was less-than-enthusiastically received by a boy when she chose to learn football at school.

My daughter got off the school bus and came straight to find me in the office upstairs. In gym class, her teacher, Ms. Rivie, asked the students to pick which sport they wanted to learn: football or soccer. She picked football, and persuaded two of the girls in her sixth-grade class to join her.

“That’s great, Charlotte!”

Why “that’s great” isn’t clear, and isn’t given any further thought.  McManus’ daughter was given two options and picked one. Wasn’t that the point of options?  Perhaps no girl had ever chosen football before, which made it “great.” Perhaps it reflected a choice that finally broke away from gender stereotypes, and Ms. Rivie was thrilled to finally have a girl take the football route. If so, it’s unsaid.

But I could see by the look on her face that what happened next was not good. One of the boys said that girls couldn’t play football, then made a “Real Housewives” comment about the trio and laughed.

“It’s not OK,” she said.

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Bazelon’s Apology

What to do when an otherwise credible legal journalist lets her emotions and gender politics blind her to the facts? Emily Bazelon’s answer is to acknowledge her mistake.

Last February, I wrote a long article for this magazine about the relationship between Ellie Clougherty, a recent Stanford graduate, and Joe Lonsdale, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and alumnus of the school.

Lonsdale was Clougherty’s mentor. They had a sexual relationship. Guess what happened next?

After the relationship ended, Clougherty accused Lonsdale of sexual assault.

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