Author Archives: SHG

Can Old Houses Be “Racist”?

Casa de SJ will soon celebrate its centennial. Built as a Georgian Colonial country house in 1927 by architects Polemus and Coffin, its first resident was Hoffman Nickerson, who was not only dear friends with H.L. Mencken, but an advocate for an American landed gentry. He would not, in today’s parlance, be considered “woke.” Indeed, his attitude toward the poor and downtrodden would like be roundly condemned. Does that make Casa de SJ a racist house?

The two-and-a-half storey 9,000-square foot house in the Yonge and St. Clair area, was built in 1906 for Stapleton Pitt Caldecott, a former Toronto Board of Trade president who was opposed to immigration, a University of Toronto historian says. Continue reading

Executing The “Bad Woman”

The Supreme Court will soon hear argument in the capital case of Brenda Andrew, the only woman on death row in Oklahoma. Whether she murdered her estranged husband is one question, central to her conviction. But whether she wore thong underwear, as put on display to the jury during the prosecution’s summation? Not so much.

During his closing argument in the 2004 murder trial of Brenda Andrew in Oklahoma, a prosecutor dangled her thong underwear before the jury. She had packed the undergarment for a trip to Mexico a few days after her estranged husband was killed. Continue reading

Are Voting Crimes Different?

As a general rule, relying on the kindness of prosecutors to not abuse poorly written laws by prosecuting people who did no intentional wrong is not a viable solution. Sure, some prosecutors will say they would never abuse their authority, but then, when they decide to prosecute, they believe they are on the side of justice, whatever that means. The problem is “justice” means whatever the prosecutor believes it means, and that’s not at all how law is supposed to work. Yet, that’s how it worked for Texas defendant and erstwhile voter, Crystal Mason

.When a Texas appeals court reversed itself last week and acquitted Crystal Mason, a mother of three, in a voting fraud case, it ended almost a decade in which Ms. Mason lived in fear of being torn away from her family and imprisoned. Continue reading

No Margin For Tragedy

The simple answer, that it’s war and sometimes mistakes happen in war, isn’t good enough. Sure, mistakes happen. Sure, war is confusing and chaotic. But Israel knew only too well that it was under extreme scrutiny. Israel knew whose trucks they were, what they were doing there, where they were going and that they were not Hamas, but humanitarian aid workers. It seems impossible that such a mistake could be made.

Israel’s top military commander formally acknowledged on Wednesday that its military had made a “grave mistake” and apologized for the attack on an aid convoy that killed seven workers from the charity group World Central Kitchen, a rare admission of fault by Israel in the six-month-old war in the Gaza Strip. Continue reading

Tuesday Talk*: Muzzling A Candidate Defendant

In the usual course, a criminal defendant would not deliberately try to anger the judge in his case. It’s not that one shouldn’t expect a judge to be above personal attacks and render decisions that are correct regardless, but to the extent a defendant would want the judge to be  as sympathetic to his cause as possible, attacking the judge is not the best plan. Then again, Donald Trump is not the usual defendant.

It was an explosive claim from Donald J. Trump, just weeks before his Manhattan criminal trial is set to begin: He assailed the judge’s daughter on Wednesday, saying she had used an image of the former president behind bars as a social media profile picture.

The photo made it “completely impossible for me to get a fair trial,” Mr. Trump wrote on Truth Social. He demanded that the judge, Juan M. Merchan, recuse himself.

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Professor Eastman’s Last Class

He must have been respected as an academic enough to have reached the position of dean of Chapman Law School, so it’s not as if John Eastman, Republican though he may be, was left with few other career options. That said, he made a choice to torch the one thing he was that set him apart from the sort of guy who makes pillows. John Eastman was a lawyer.

Eastman “made multiple patently false and misleading statements in court filings, in public remarks heard by countless Americans,” Judge Yvette Roland wrote in her 128-page ruling. These statements were “improperly aimed at casting doubt on the legitimate election results and support for the baseless claim that the presidency was stolen from his client — all while relying on his credentials as an attorney and constitutional scholar to lend credibility to his unfounded claims.”

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A Parent’s Responsibility

Riffing off Jon Haidt’s argument that the primary culprit in the degradation of youth is the smartphone, David French takes up the cause.

Older generations reflect on the deficiencies of “kids these days,” and they find something new to blame. The latest technology and new forms of entertainment are always bewitching our children. In my time, I’ve witnessed several distinct public panics over television, video games and music. They’ve all been overblown. Continue reading

Are DHS DEI Training Videos “Compulsion”?

It’s quite normal for employees of government entities to be required to watch various training videos, from sexual harassment to racial sensitivity, as a requirement of the job. To some extent, it’s a protective measure to provide a defense against liability should some claim arise later that someone acted inappropriately. The entity can point at the training video and argue, “we tried our best.” And at the same time, almost no one believes these videos accomplish anything, and some contend they make matters worse.

But DHS employees Aaron and his father Joseph Norgren claimed these videos compelled speech on their part, in violation of their rights under the First Amendment. Continue reading

Squat Thrust

Whether it’s an epidemic or just a rare but outrageous scenario, squatters have emerged as a manifestation of what’s wrong with ‘Merica. Even if its little more than the latest hysteria, it’s worthwhile understanding how and why this happens and the squatters manage to get away with it.

A recent string of incidents in Georgia, New York and Washington has brought squatting, the practice of occupying someone else’s property without their consent, into the spotlight.

In Washington, a squatter named Sang Kim made headlines after preventing Jaskaran Singh, a landlord, from possessing his $2 million property following Kim’s refusal to pay rent for two years. Continue reading