Carry A Big Stick, But Drop It On Command

When the kids get home and dad asks what happened at camp today, maybe they will finally say more than “nuttin.”  From CBS Local in Miami:

Fritz was reportedly shot by an officer Thursday morning at 350 NW 13th Street, near Gibson Park in Overtown. Police say the shooting occurred just outside the nearby library’s entrance.

The dead man, Fritz Severe (when is the last time a media reported a killing and used the first, rather than last, name of the deceased?), was mentally ill and homeless, but a regular in the area.  Also in the area was a group of about 50 children from a summer camp.

[Witness Nichelle] Miller was at the park when it happened – so were about 50 children who were apart of the summer camp. Continue reading

His Own Private Iowa

The other Mark W. Bennett, the one confirmed by the United States Senate, found himself in an untenable, and unacceptable, situation, as told by Eli Saslow in the Washington Post.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett entered and everyone stood. He sat and then they sat. “Another hard one,” he said, and the room fell silent. He was one of 670 federal district judges in the United States, appointed for life by a president and confirmed by the Senate, and he had taken an oath to “administer justice” in each case he heard. Now he read the sentencing documents at his bench and punched numbers into an oversize calculator. When he finally looked up, he raised his hands together in the air as if his wrists were handcuffed, and then he repeated the conclusion that had come to define so much about his career.

“My hands are tied on your sentence,” he said. “I’m sorry. This isn’t up to me.”

These are perverse words for a United States District Court Judge to utter. After all, what position is better described as “master of his own domain” than a federal judge? Yet, there they are, laid out for all to see. “My hands are tied.” Continue reading

The Next “Crime” Down The Title IX Rabbit Hole

Have neo-feminists won the battle of rape on campus?  Enough so, apparently, that they’re ready to move on to the next offense to gender to be “fixed” in the college star chamber.  Spokesgal for the future victims, Amanda Marcotte, gives the talking points:

Katie Baker at BuzzFeed has a new piece out about one of the less attention-getting aspects of Title IX: that it’s supposed to protect students against domestic violence as well as sexual assault. 

“The next wave of Title IX activism, researchers and activists say, will focus on how colleges investigate allegations of and provide resources to students in abusive relationships,” Baker writes. “And it’s going to be just as complicated and contentious.”

It seems like only yesterday when neo-feminists were railing about how one in five women will be raped in college, demanding that we believe accusers who almost never lie. Good times. Continue reading

Fault Lines: This Past Week

Time for another wrap up of the past week at Fault Lines, with some damn fine stuff.  This week, we’ve added a new writer, Ken Womble, who is a criminal defense lawyer in Brooklyn, having paid his dues in the trenches as public defender.  And if that’s not enough to get you cranking, we have my old buddy Ron Kuby and Allan Brenner guest-posting as well. Damn fine stuff.








Read them all. No, I mean it. Read them all. Do it for the children.

Backdoor Prosecution of Tamir Rice’s Killers

Tamir Rice was executed on November 22, 2014.  The 12-year-old was mowed down by bullets fired by Cleveland cop Timothy Loehmann in an encounter lasting less than two seconds.  Yet, it remains in stasis, awaiting the promise of Cleveland officials to make a decision about whether to prosecute Loehmann, Rice’s killer, and his partner, Frank Garmback.  It’s too long. Much too long. Absurdly too long.

Tired of waiting, and distrustful of the eventual outcome regardless, “community leaders,” whoever that may be, have decided to invoke an archaic procedural backdoor to initiate prosecution.  Section 2935.09 of the Ohio Revised Statutes provides:

(B) In . . . order to cause the arrest or prosecution of a person charged with committing an offense in this state, a peace officer or a private citizen having knowledge of the facts shall comply with this section.


(D) A private citizen having knowledge of the facts who seeks to cause an arrest or prosecution under this section may file an affidavit charging the offense committed with a reviewing official for the purpose of review to determine if a complaint should be filed by the prosecuting attorney or attorney charged by law with the prosecution of offenses in the court or before the magistrate. A private citizen may file an affidavit charging the offense committed with the clerk of a court of record . . ..

And apparently, that’s exactly what happened. Continue reading

What Part Of “Get It Right” Confuses You?

My fellow curmudgeon, Mark Herrmann, nails another peevish problem that makes any serious lawyer’s head explode. Well, he doesn’t call us “serious lawyers.” He calls us “compulsive nutcases.” Curmudgeons can be very mean.

Once, for example, we asked a client to deliver a list containing the names of the (few thousand) members of a class for us to use at a settlement hearing. We told the client that the list was very important; we needed it before the specified deadline, and the list had to be accurate.

The client seemed to understand those words.

Just before the deadline, the client told us that other work had gotten in the way, and the client could not provide the list on time.

And, per Mark’s story, the client proceeded to blow it the next time around, and the time after that, because the admonition that “the list had to be accurate” was understood to mean, throw something together, and don’t worry too much if its completely wrong. Continue reading


At Popehat, Ken White reveals that my second favorite local prosecutor’s, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, by way of AUSA Niketh Velamoor, has issued a grand jury subpoena to Its ostensible purpose is to obtain the identity, and bank or credit information, for a handful of commenters on a post by Nick Gillespie about the sentencing of Ross Ulbricht, Dread Pirate Roberts of Silk Road.

The government, ever generous in its information, listed the offending comments:

AgammamonI5.31.15 @ lO:47AMltt
Its judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.

AlanI5.31.15 @ 12:09PMltt
It’s judges like these that will be taken out back and shot.

croakerI6.1.15 @ 11:06AMltt
Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you
feed them in feet first.

Cloudbusterl6.l.15 @ 2:40PMIIt
Why do it out back? Shoot them out front, on the steps of the courthouse.

Rhywunl5.3l.15 @ 11:35AMIIt
I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman. Continue reading

Entitlement Wasn’t Born Yesterday

Lee Siegel writes a powerful philippic for the New York Times Sunday Review entitled “Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans.”  It may not be entirely clear from his rant that he’s no kid, but the same age as me.  That being so, I call bullshit.  Siegel is full of crap and playing his audience for fools.

Siegel begins his facile spin in his first paragraph, painting the banker who gave him his student loan as his own personal merchant of Venice.

ONE late summer afternoon when I was 17, I went with my mother to the local bank, a long-defunct institution whose name I cannot remember, to apply for my first student loan. My mother co-signed. When we finished, the banker, a balding man in his late 50s, congratulated us, as if I had just won some kind of award rather than signed away my young life.

No. The “balding” man, an interesting detail recollected by someone who can’t recall the bank, didn’t congratulate Siegel “as if” he won an award, but as if he was just enabled to get an education.  It might fairly be said that is a prize, a college education which he would otherwise not be capable of obtaining. Continue reading

To Fear Or Not To Fear

During the dinner party Friday night (yes, old people still have dinner parties), the guy sitting across from me explained that we’re back to rampant crime, a crime spree.  I asked him why he thought so, and he looked at me like I was a moron. “Don’t you read the papers?” he finally sputtered.

I sighed, knowing what he meant.  If it bleeds, it leads, and there has been no shortage of news about people getting killed, both cops and robbers people shot by cops.  For nice people who have no other context, it could well seem like we’re back to gunfights in the street.

After gently suggesting that there really isn’t any crime spree going on, to which he gave me one of those looks that suggested I shouldn’t move any closer to him or he would have to take a defensive stance, I tried to explain that a handful of high profile issues mask the fact that, compared to the 1980s, we’re living in crime paradise. It’s just not happening, a point echoed by the New York Times editorial. Continue reading

Tyranny Of The Geezers

What kind of truck does an old judge drive, and why should you care?  Because that’s the sensibility of the geezer who’s going to make some decisions that dictate what will happen with your life or fortune.  In America, most judges are, well, old.

Conventional wisdom has it that wielding the gavel takes years upon years of lawyerly practice. Judging by that standard, the U.S. federal bench must be very effective, indeed: About 12 percent of the nation’s 1,200 federal judges are 80 or older, according to a 2010 survey by ProPublica. Eleven were over the age of 90, almost three times as many 20 years before. Other things that happened over those 20 years: the Internet. Plus smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, hacking, legal weed, etc., etc., etc. Plus dementia and senility, for some. On issues of the day, like privacy or hacking, can older judges possibly keep up?

On the one hand, they have the wisdom and experience gained from a lifetime, assuming you don’t look too closely at how their lives paralleled yours. On the other hand, they don’t have an adequate appreciation of the value of Facebook friends, or the insult of being unfriended by your former BFF. Continue reading

But For Video: Why Dillon Taylor Had To Die

It was one of those videos that didn’t seem to make much sense, the shooting and killing of Dillon Taylor by Salt Lake City Police Officer Bron Cruz.  Shaun King at the Daily Kos gave a moment by moment run down of what happened, but it clarified nothing.

At 0:17, Officer Bron Cruz gets out of his vehicle. You will notice people confused by his presence.

At 0:22, Officer Cruz walks past two men who were friends with Dillon Taylor.

At 0:24, Officer Cruz walks behind Taylor, who has on a white T-shirt and is listening to music. Continue reading