Seaton: An Infernal Appletini Happy Hour

An uneventful night at the Grassy Knoll Pub got interesting when Jesse Custer, the proprietor and bartender, noticed droplets of water on the bar forming letters.

The letters formed words. The words a sentence.

Specifically one that read “I DESIRE A DRINK-M.”

Time to make good on that promise, Jesse thought. Raising his voice above the noisy jukebox, he yelled “Pay for your shit and get out! We’re closed!” Continue reading

Halkides: Fingerprint Databases As Post-Conviction Tools

Ed. Note: Chris Halkides has been kind enough to try to make us lawyers smarter by dumbing down science enough that we have a small chance of understanding how it’s being used to wrongfully convict and, in some cases, execute defendants. Chris graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and teaches biochemistry, organic chemistry, and forensic chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

From the perspective of the defense, excluding the defendant does not require that the person who made the fingermark (an unintentionally made impression) be identified.  However, when they point to an alternate suspect, they gain value as evidence.  The location or medium in which fingermarks are made occasionally give probative value, for example when a medium such as blood localizes the time period in which the fingermark was made.  There are over 160 million fingerprints (deliberately made impressions) in the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).  Therefore, an automated searching system, followed by manual checking, is used to identify the source of fingermarks. Continue reading

Why Wouldn’t Any Cop Believe Randy Cox?

The video is hard to watch, the clear and graphic view of 36-year-old Randy Cox sitting in the back of a police wagon, his hands cuffed behind him, then suddenly being hurled into the door head first and, well, you’ll see.

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Short Take: Of Docs and Dealers

While most people were losing their heads over the “big” Supreme Court decisions about guns, abortion and prayer, there was another ruling, unanimous, that would have (or at least, should have) been huge in less controversial times to criminal defense lawyers. In Ruan v. United States, the Supreme Court reversed the convictions of two medical doctors, for running what the government contended were “pill mills.”

Petitioners Xiulu Ruan and Shakeel Kahn are both doctors who actively practiced medicine. They both possessed licenses permitting them to prescribe controlled substances. The Government separately charged them with unlawfully dispensing and distributing drugs in violation of §841. Each proceeded to a jury trial, and each was convicted of the charges.
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Is Legitimacy Just For Losers?

The past week has been pretty hard at the Supreme Court for some, and pretty great for others. If you’ve been on the winning side, whether on guns, abortion, prayer or all three, you may take the attitude, “We won, you lost, get over it.” And, perhaps, you would also argue that if the other side was able to stack the deck with its ideological loyalists, they would have done so in a flash and been just as pleased with being winners.

But what about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court?

“Legitimacy is for losers,” a political scientist once said. It’s a profound concept. The winning side in a decision will gladly accept it without asking why. But the losing side — whether the decision is made by a basketball referee or the Supreme Court — will accept defeat only if they believe the decision was made fairly and by the book. Continue reading

Beyond Due Process, The Title IX Attack On Free Speech

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Express, FIRE, which has picked up the gauntlet tossed in the trash by the ACLU on such civil liberties issues as free speech for people who don’t pray at the alter of identity politics (or donate to the ACLU), has taken up arms against the Biden administration’s proposed changes to Title IX regs for campus sex tribunals.

  • eliminating students’ right to a live hearing;
  • eliminating the right to cross-examination;
  • weakening students’ right to active legal representation;
  • allowing a single campus bureaucrat to serve as judge and jury;
  • rejecting the Supreme Court’s definition of sexual harassment in favor of a definition that threatens free speech rights;
  • requiring colleges and universities to use the weak “preponderance of the evidence” standard to determine guilt, unless they use a higher standard for other alleged misconduct.

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The Guns of Manhattan

Since Heller and McDonald are the law, holding the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental personal right applicable to the states, the only remaining question was whether a state like New York, or more to the point, a City like New York, could just say “nah,” do as it always did with a warm hug from the Second Circuit and have the Supreme Court look away and pretend it saw nothing.

That looked pretty much to be the net outcomes until N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, where, painful as it is to say, Justice Clarence Thomas’ rationale is entirely sound. Continue reading

Right Or Wrong, Dobbs Was Reckless

Regardless of whether you support the policy choice of being for or against abortions, and for most people, it’s some more nuanced point in the middle rather than the extreme “all or nothing” position of ideologues and fools, you may well come to regret the Friday when the majority of the Supreme Court proved themselves as venal as they’re been painted. They didn’t need to do it. They shouldn’t have done it. But they could do it, so they did.

And for Clarence Thomas to then throw fuel on a bonfire, while Ginni cackles, was one of the single stupidest and self-indulgent things a justice has ever done. But, of course, he did it. Continue reading

Seaton: Thoughts On McMahon’s #MeToo

If the last two years taught us anything, it’s that just when you think life can’t get any weirder, life will stare you straight in the eye and say “Hold my silly-string flavored beer.”

Last week I made a bunch of bad jokes about an incident where a Washington Post reporter got suspended without pay for retweeting a joke. Then this week I find out Vince McMahon, the 76-year-old billionaire at the helm of professional wrestling giant WWE, is stepping down from his roles as Chairman of the Board and CEO due to an alleged $3 million hush money payout made to a former paralegal. Continue reading

Lhamon’s Whiplash

As expected, the 50th Anniversary of Title IX wasn’t merely a day to remember when women got to play sports and men’s teams were eliminated because there weren’t enough women interested to align the numbers. It was the day Joe Biden’s renominated head of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights would have her last hurrah. As expected, Catherine Lhamon introduced her new rules designed to undo the regulations instituted by Betsy DeVos to provide minimal due process to the nightmare of campus sex inquisitions.

You see, Lhamon has dedicated her public service to the nightmare of campus sex inquisitions. Continue reading