Author Archives: Chris Seaton

Debate: Stingrays Aren’t Third Parties; Get A Warrant

Ed. Note: Following the District of Columbia Court of Appeals decision in Jones v. United States, holding that the use of a “Stingray” cellsite simulator required a warrant under the Fourth Amendment, Chris Seaton and Andrew King were challenged to debate whether the Third-Party Doctrine or the Supreme Court’s Riley v. California decision should control. This is Chris’ argument.

On June 25, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that made every red-blooded, patriotic American heart swell with pride. Chief Justice Roberts’ words screamed the very essence of “rock flag eagle”:

Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple— get a warrant.

This emphatic affirmation of our Fourth Amendment rights caused a certain Admiral to channel his inner Jesse Pinkman* on reading Riley v. California. Unfortunately the ink wasn’t even dry on the opinion before cops and legislators started to try and figure out ways around Riley. Continue reading

Debate: Just Say No To Legislating Hate Speech on Campus

Ed. Note: In light of United States Rep. Anthony Brown’s (D-MD) proposed bill to prohibit “hate speech” on campus, Chris Seaton and Andrew King have agreed to debate whether Congress should craft “hate speech” prohibitions for colleges. This is Chris’ argument:

Before taking the law school plunge, I briefly toyed with the notion of becoming a psychologist. An elective class in sociology at the University of Tennessee introduced me to an atheist African-American professor who openly mocked me in class, claimed the attacks on September 11, 2001 were a “white man’s conspiracy,” and proudly professed a love of Fidel Castro.

At the course’s conclusion, this professor sent me an email with my grade and expressed her deep concern that I thought my classmates and the course material were “a load of crap.”

If the lunatics running the asylum students and faculty of today had their way, that professor could be punished for “hate speech.” We must stand boldly against people like Maryland’s Representative Anthony Brown and firmly say “Fuck you, we stand for the free exchange of all ideas.” Congress has no business regulating speech on college campuses, much less crafting bills to punish “hate speech.”* Continue reading

Debate: Crazy Joe’s Pardon Slaps Law And Order in the Face

Ed. Note: Like the old Fault Lines days, Chris Seaton and Mario Machado will duke it out over whether the pardon of former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was the worst pardon ever. This is Chris’ argument.

Maricopa County, Arizona put their trust in a man named Joe Arpaio back in 1993. They gave him a badge, a gun, the state-sanctioned license to kill and an entire Sheriff’s department. A man tasked with upholding the law would then repeatedly violate the law and abuse the power of his office for twenty-four years. Pardoning “Crazy” Joe Arpaio, the self-styled “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” is undoubtedly the worst pardon in Presidential history.

Let’s look at the offense Arpaio committed: criminal contempt of court. At face value, it seems harmless compared to other offenses wiped clean by presidential pardon. Arpaio defied a federal judge’s order to stop detaining undocumented immigrants. That’s a far cry from jury tampering, robbing a bank or tax fraud. Contempt is the mechanism by which the courts enforce their orders. Essentially, a judge told an old man to not do something, and the old man said “no.”

What makes Arpaio’s defiance so odious is his insistence on enforcing a certain aspect of Arizona’s human-smuggling law. Specifically, this section of the law: Continue reading

Seaton: Mountain Anger Conceals Doctored Prosecution Agreement

When a defendant walks on criminal charges following a horrendous crime or tragedy, the outrage mob heads to the streets or social media crying foul play and the lack of fairness in the courts. This anger, seething in the Smoky Mountains, conceals a troubling revelation. Someone doctored a prosecution agreement giving Sevier County DA’s the authority to prosecute crimes in federal parks, and no one’s talking about it.

Aggravated arson charges against the boys, ages 17 and 15, were dropped Friday in part because 4th Judicial District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn did not have authority under a 1997 agreement between the state and federal government to prosecute crimes committed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The park was left out of the 1997 agreement, which granted both state and federal authorities the power to prosecute crimes committed on federal lands within Tennessee. That meant only federal authorities could level charges for crimes committed in the park. That omission was discovered during Dunn’s attempt to prosecute the boys.

 National parks are federal land. That means absent an agreement like the one former Governor Don Sundquist reached with the Feds giving local law enforcement power to prosecute crimes in national parks, the US Attorney’s office is left with the job. Continue reading

Seaton: Senator Beavers Goes To War With Porn

Tennessee formally recognized a serious public health hazard in April. It’s not the opioid abuse epidemic that has a stranglehold on the state’s poorest citizens. That’s wishful thinking. According to the state legislature, the major public health crisis is pornography.

The Tennessee General Assembly approved a joint resolution that “recognizes pornography as a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and society harms.”

SJR 0035, introduced by Senator Mae Beavers* of Mount Juliet, swept the state Senate unanimously. The state House of Representatives was nearly unanimous. Governor Bill Haslam signed the joint resolution on April 24.

With such widespread, bipartisan support, one wonders what makes pornography such a public health hazard** that the General Assembly could cross party lines and get this ridiculous bill on the Governor’s desk in record time. A read-through of the resolution gives you an answer: propaganda lines nearly curated from “Reefer Madness” and tailored to porn. Continue reading