When Attorney General Dick Thornburgh issued his notorious memo in 1989, he put into writing what everyone took for granted. Federal prosecutors weren’t like mere lawyers, subject to the constraints of state ethical rules for lawyers. Not that it changed much about the way prosecutors went about their job, but it proclaimed they were untouchable. It wasn’t that AUSAs didn’t engage in misconduct, but that their misconduct wasn’t subject to the ethical rules that constrained the rest of us.
Thornburgh’s successor, Janet Reno, reversed course, issuing rules that federal prosecutors were subject to the same ethical rules as every other lawyer. This ended up being codified in 28 U.S.C. § 530(b). Not that it had much actual impact, as AUSAs remained unmolested, but at least it created the appearance of applicability.
The Volunteer State, Tennessee, has figured out that this gap provides a means to exert some control over prosecutors, and has joined other states in trying to exploit it. The DoJ is not pleased. Continue reading →
It’s a sad commentary on the state of policing that a video of cops beating an unarmed guy, then mocking him as he lay in a pool of his own blood, isn’t huge news in itself. It’s not as if they gunned him down, murdered him, like a dog in the street. And even that might not be enough to catch people’s attention anymore. It’s been done, and we’re so inured to police violence, to the constant din of misconduct and excessive force, that it’s hard for even a graphic video to have legs these days.
As a law student, the predominant theory of constitutional interpretation was the “living Constitution.” That’s what we were taught. That’s what we believed to be right. It made sense, as the document ratified in 1789 couldn’t possibly account for all that would follow, and the only way it could survive was to evolve to address the needs of a nation over time. Frankly, I never thought all that hard about it at the time. All the prawfs said so, and so it was.
As the word “originalism” began to emerge as an alternative to interpretation, I was forced to give it some thought. I didn’t want to, as thinking was hard and could lead to unpleasant things, like headaches. Who needed that? But then, emanations and penumbras never really made a lot of sense, even when the outcome was something with which I agreed. As a principled approach, it was essentially, “we want to get there and, well, we got nothing, so emanations and penumbras, baby.” Sure, I would take it when it worked in my favor, but that nagging idea that it would eventually turn on me, bite me in the butt, was disturbing. Continue reading →
That prosecutorial misconduct is a problem isn’t exactly news, even as prosecutors vehemently deny that it’s widespread, that there are already ways to deal with it and that it will hamper their effectiveness by making prosecutors fearful of doing their job without fear of repercussions.
Of course they hate being denigrated. Who doesn’t? But that doesn’t change the facts.
The problem is obvious: Prosecutors don’t like to admit it, but even though most are honest and law-abiding, misconduct in prosecutorial ranks remains all too common. A review of 250 exonerations in New York since 1989 found that one-third involved prosecutorial misconduct, like tampering with key evidence, withholding evidence from the defendant or coercing a witness to give false testimony.
Then again, the fact that a problem exists does not lead inexorably to the conclusion that any solution will fix the problem. The syllogism is well worn. Continue reading →
The report of a homicide prepared by police included basic facts: the gender of the deceased. The name. The sort of basic information that would comprise any police report, that would be expected of any police report. And yet, it’s not only the subject of controversy, but outrage. What could possibly make the recording of facts so very wrong?
Laverne Cox says she “sobbed and wept” after reading a new report from ProPublica about multiple transgender murder victims who were repeatedly misgendered by the police departments and agencies charged with working the cases.
Cox said the lack of policies in place to ensure transgender murder victims’ gender identities are respected was an “injustice on top of injustice.”
Not the Supreme Court in Washington, but not too far from it, either. The West Virginia Supreme Court consists of five justices, but there are only four at the moment, and the Judiciary Committee of the House has decided that they suck.
West Virginia’s House Judiciary Committee has adopted articles of impeachment against all four justices on the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals, accusing the judges of a range of crimes and throwing the court’s immediate future into disarray.
Approved on Tuesday afternoon, the articles of impeachment recommend that the entire bench — Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Justice Allen Loughry, Justice Robin Davis and Justice Elizabeth Walker – be impeached “for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty, and certain high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Justice Loughry is under indictment, based upon claimed travel expenses he wasn’t due, plus taking a historic desk and putting it in his home office. Continue reading →
Omarosa Manigault Newman, the reality show villain who campaigned for Donald Trump and followed him into the White House, is an amoral, dishonest, mercenary grifter. This makes her just like most people in Trump’s orbit. What separates her from them is that she might be capable of a sliver of shame.
What separates Goldberg’s willingness to invite Omarosa to her sleepover party is that the target of her vitriol is Trump. Continue reading →
When law and philosophy prof Brian Leiter revealed academic and feminist superstar Judith Butler’s disgraceful and flagrantly hypocritical letter defending her sister superstar, NYU prof Avital Ronell, I was ready to pull the trigger. I have a post, dated June 13, 2018, fully written, but never published. I knew something Leiter didn’t.
At the time the Butler letter was sent around for signatures, threatening NYU with the wrath of scholars if Ronell wasn’t exonerated, the university had already found Ronell responsible. The only remaining question was what to do about it, one of the university’s brightest academic lights had sexually harassed a gay male student under her care.
This wasn’t one of the faux Title IX cases of post-hoc regret, but the real deal. Ronell was grad student Nimrod Reitman’s doctoral adviser. He came to NYU because of her, to study under her. And from the start of his graduate studies, she turned him into her boy toy upon the implicit threat of destroying his career. And it continued throughout his graduate studies, as proven by Ronell’s emails. Continue reading →
It was supposed to be the start of another show of force by white nationalists: Unite the Right 2, the follow-up to last year’s disastrous and violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, which concluded with a Nazi sympathizer ramming his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, injuring several and killing one.
But Dan, who said he was a supporter of “peaceful” ethnic cleansing, was the only white nationalist to be seen at the march’s starting point, the Foggy Bottom metro station. Continue reading →
Nebraska hasn’t executed anyone in 21 years, but the people of Nebraska are jonesing for a kill and Carey Dean Moore* looks to be the one to do it. Unlike the fiasco in Tennessee with Billy Ray Irick’s torture by midazolam, Nebraska will use the dreaded opioid, fentanyl.
The German drug company, Fresenius Kabi, contends that it must have manufactured the fentanyl Nebraska intends to use, and that Nebraska must possess it unlawfully since it refuses to sell the drug for the purpose of executions and includes restrictions on the use of its drug when it’s sold. It doesn’t want the drug it manufactures to be used for that purpose. It doesn’t want to be known as the company that provides drugs to kill. Continue reading →