Kopf: A Short Take On Sessions’ “War on Drugs”

I am still chuckling about making the Appellate Twitters  explode with angry twits (I mean tweets) about my advice to young practicing lawyers not to complain about work/life imbalance (and lots of other stuff that the twitters (tweeters?) ignored). In that vein, as my daughter, her husband and my three grandchildren, all from China, are here, I am obligated to show up at home.

After all, down deep where the wild things are, I am a true believer in work/life balance particularly because (1) I now have no clients to blow off and (2) I also no longer have a child whose psychosexual development will be grievously impaired if I absent myself from an award ceremony where a prestigious participation trophy will be presented. Of course, and because I love it so, I will make time for sending folks to prison.

The foregoing explained, this is a roundabout way of telling you that this post will be short. Here goes.

Attorney General Sessions* has decided to reinvigorate the war on drugs. That is slightly stunning because, according to leakers[i]; he has been extremely busy giving away the nuclear codes to the Russians. I don’t know where he finds the time. Anyway, the reinvigoration of the war on drugs by Sessions stimulated my aging synapses and the following spilled out.

I think Sessions is wrong about the war on drugs. But not for the reasons you might think. Rather, my view is that his marketing strategy is wrong, although the substance of his message of life plus cancer is sound or at least good enough for government work. Let me explain.

The vast majority of drug dealers I deal with—white, black or brown—are terminally stupid. Let me offer Exhibit A in support of my assertion:

Exhibit A

There are some things that may not warrant a phone call to 911, and stolen cocaine may be one of those things.

David Blackmon, 32, of Fort Walton Beach, called authorities, identified himself as a drug dealer and proceeded to report that cash and cocaine had been stolen from his car, according to a Facebook post by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

A deputy responded to the scene, at which point Blackmon told him that $50 and a ¼-ounce bag of cocaine[ii] had been stolen from the car’s center console.

The deputy searched the vehicle and found the cocaine in the same spot from where it had been reported stolen. He also found a crack pipe on the floor and a crack rock near the cocaine, according to the Facebook post.

Blackmon was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, resisting arrest without violence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Ryan DiPentima, Florida drug dealer calls cops asking for help to find stolen cocaine, Palm Beach Post (July 18, 2017).[iii]

So, I recommend that Mr. Sessions change his marketing strategy. He should instead commence a “War on Stupid.”


Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge

[i] My fervent wish is that the leakers are found out, prosecuted and end up meeting a shot-caller at an FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) who demands to see their PSRs (presentence reports) or else.

[ii] This is about 7 grams. (Two eight balls.) By cooking the powder into crack, you can almost double the quantity. At that point, you have plenty to sell and use.

[iii] A tip of the hat to Jeff Kay, a former FBI agent, turned federal prosecutor. Jeff is retired now, but sends me amusing tidbits. I have written about Jeff before. See, for example, here. Thanks, Jeff.

*Ed. Note: As of publication, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is the 84th Attorney General of the United States. Whether his tenure will last to the end of the day is unknown.

19 thoughts on “Kopf: A Short Take On Sessions’ “War on Drugs”

  1. Scott Jacobs

    I never thanked you, your honor, for your missive last week. Coming as it did on my birthday, it provided much in the way of what the kids today call “the lols.”

    It also lead to a great deal of learning about people I follow on Twitter and knowledge, regardless of whether or not it is comfortable or pleasant, is always a good thing.

    1. SHG

      There’s nothing like a hard dose of the feelz within a bubble to reveal that people you believed to be thoughtful are unprincipled shit for brains. But hey, at least you learned. Had they not been given the rope with which to hang themselves, they would remain unhung.

    2. Richard Kopf

      Scott Jacobs,

      You are very welcome.

      It seemed unremarkable to me that the client comes first, although I thought it worth mentioning. But when I read that this view represents a “pathology” I knew that I was not solely or only an old coot baying at the moon.

      Something bad has infected a fairly large segment of young lawyers. I fear the Gram-negative germ is resistant to any antibiotic. Additionally, I am reasonably sure that the bug is culturally transmitted somewhat like Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

      All the best.


  2. B. McLeod

    Great cartoon on the ABA theory of “marketing”! It does not surprise me that others are getting onto it now as well.

  3. Tom

    If we’re going to do a war on stupid, we’re going to need a LOT more prisons.
    As Einstein reportedly said: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

  4. Dan T.

    “Tweet” is the standard terminology, but “twit” has its amusing charm, particularly with its double meaning of “idiot” or “nincompoop”. Way back in the dialup BBS days, the Fido BBS program had “twit” as its most limited user privilege level, akin to blocking or banning somebody. (It was one level beneath “disgrace”.)

  5. Stephan Illa

    Hi Judge:

    My clients tell me that shot-callers no longer demand to see an inmate’s PSR. The reason is that years ago, the Bureau of Prisons classified those documents as contraband and now prohibits inmates from possessing them. [BOP Policy Statement 1351.05.]

    Instead, savvy block wardens now ask to see the indictment and judgment. The offenses of conviction (and often even more horrible initial accusations) identify those offenders deemed deserving of special consideration. Any significant disparity between a defendant’s initial exposure [say, a 120-month mandatory minimum] and sentence imposed [far lower than that] will trigger further inquiry. Any inmate who got a really good sentence will need a really good explanation for his good fortune.

  6. Richard Kopf


    I know a fair amount about the ban on PSRs and the strengths and weakness of the prohibition. Of course, I support the ban strongly but much more is being done by the judiciary behind the curtain. Even so, the safety of cooperators remains a huge problem.

    Several additional observations.

    First, the fact that PSRs are banned has not stopped demands by the shot-callers for a newbie to produce one. This can be sorta a test even if the PSR (or the much shorter and easier to smuggle sentencing recommendation or Statement of Reasons) cannot find its way into the prison.

    Second, you are quite right about comparing the indictment to the judgment. However, Rule 35(b) can be used to make the sentence in the original judgment go down and, if the Rule 35(b) sentence reduction proceeding is properly handled (I will not go into the details), no one need be the wiser. But, the logistics are not simple or easy.

    Third, because cooperation information is often given over in discovery to other offenders, the very effective communication network of prisoners throughout the system is quite likely to finger the snitch no matter what. Thus, many cooperators spend a lot of time in protective custody to avoid unpleasantness in the extreme.

    All the best.


    1. Pedantic Grammar Police

      Maybe federal prison is different; in the state prisons I’ve seen, the inmates run everything and inmate clerks routinely access information that one would expect to be restricted. It’s extremely difficult for an inmate to hide the details of his arrest and conviction from fellow inmates.

  7. Ken Mackenzie

    Is the judge’s impression of dealers’ intelligence formed because it’s the stupid ones who get caught? It’s easier to pick the low hanging fruit.

    1. Richard Kopf


      It is largely true that only the dumb ones get caught. I once had a Cartel lieutenant who handled things this side of the border. He was not dumb.

      I could probably come up with some other smart ones, but the number is vanishingly small.
      The truth is dumb makes my life pretty easy. For that, I lift a glass to dumb.

      All the best.


  8. Eliot J CLingman

    Being stupid is an unfair punishment of providence. So to punish the stupid is to punish the unfairly punished!

    Karma sure is a b**ch!


  9. Richard Kopf

    Dear Eliot,

    Truly, what would know about Karma (or Providence for that matter)?

    Cave ne pugnes contra me amplius.

    All the best.


  10. Sgt. Schultz

    Since you began this post by noting the hilarity of the #appellatetwitter slackers, a question about that: Is the problem just that they’re pathetic mopes, or is there a difference in perception between appellate lawyers and trial lawyers? Maybe they don’t get it because they spend their days in transcripts instead of human beings, or because their job is leisurely rather than pressured?

    Then again, if they were half as smart as they pretend to be, wouldn’t they grasp that most lawyers have to actually work for a living?


    1. Richard Kopf


      My guess is that it’s both.

      What I do know is this: Lawyers who only do appellate work have about the same right to bitch about work/life imbalance as I have the right to complain about my lack of my own Article III toilet.

      All the best.


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