Thanksgiving, 2020

Looking through some of my past Thanksgiving posts provides some needed perspective for me. For many, this has been the worst year ever, between politics, COVID, the economy, education, riots and the culture war. And perhaps it is, at least for some. But what the past reminds us is that problems, suffering and misery have always been here, and if it’s your suffering, it’s the worst.

But this is why we give thanks. Not for the suffering we endure, but for the suffering we don’t. Continue reading

Sneaky Law That’s Not From Credible Sources

Try not to make people stupider about law. It’s been a guiding principle here, whether it serves to promote outcomes I support or prefer or not. This doesn’t mean that I won’t argue against extant law that I think is wrong, but that I won’t claim that the law says something it does not, omit salient facts which impact an outcome or introduce facts that I don’t believe to be accurate. I may fall short on occasion, for which I apologize, but I will not do so intentionally.

Others do not share my concerns. Some play fast and loose with facts, law and the heartstrings of non-lawyers for the sake of collecting “likes,” followers or validating the feelings of the ignorant. It’s often done for their cause, and justified by the sincere belief that the outcome matters enough, so much, that there is no means so dishonest, disreputable, disgraceful, that they would not use it. “By any means necessary” matters more than honesty. Continue reading

Honestie, Uncuffed

Had there been any reason to suspect that an 11-year-old girl had been the person the cops were looking for, might pose a threat of harm to the officers, there might be some nagging voice in the back of your head saying, “well sure, it’s needless, wrong and just perversely cruel, but not totally outside the realm of reason.” Except none of this was true for 11-year-hold Honestie Hodges.

“Put your hands on top of your—,” an officer ordered them before he was interrupted by Honestie’s mother screaming, “She is 11 years old, sir!”

“Stop yelling!” the officer responded, as recorded by an officer’s body camera. He ordered Honestie to walk backward toward him with her hands up.

Continue reading

Tuesday Talk*: Defund Police, The Video

There are more flavors of “defund police” than ice cream at Baskin Robbins, each of which claims ownership of possibly the worst slogan ever. A group called Project NIA put together a video to pitch their version of “defund police.”

It’s a curious effort, indulging in stereotypes, ahistorical claims and grossly simplistic “truths,” which are only “truths” because they want them to be. On the other hand, it makes some valid points about many of the intransigent problems in policing and society.

What’s right? What’s wrong? Is it persuasive or not? Putting aside the misbegotten slogan, what of the seeds of ideas that form the basis for changing the relative dedication to policing, not to mention its cost both in terms of money and social damage? Continue reading

Frisco First, Boudin Charges A Cop

It might seem hard to imagine, what with Kamala Harris, progressive prosecutor, having been the district attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to until she was elected California Attorney General in 2010, but San Francisco never prosecuted a cop for killing. It could be that the cops were so good that they never had a bad shoot, or it could have something to do with Harris’ understanding of what it is to be a progressive prosecutor. Ahem.

The other day, Judge Kopf raised the question of what it means to be a progressive prosecutor. People run for office under that claim, usually wrapped up in fuzzy vagaries about their being decarceral or choosing to not prosecute categories of crime, from pot to theft, that are out of favor. Curiously, while they campaign on the promise to lock up fewer people in general, the calculus reverses when it comes to at least one class of defendant: police officers. Continue reading

Questions Are Easy; Proof Is Hard

To the consternation of many for whom their ideological view relies on the ability to raise questions and be taken seriously, even though the only basis for their claims is their own belief system, the presumption of regularity keeps rearing its nasty head. I know, you don’t want to give the benefit to people you hate, whomever that might be, but that nasty presumption just won’t go away. This election, with spiraling claims of “biblical” voter fraud, is either over or just beginning.

Sidney Powell may be persona non grata as of the end of business Sunday, but she’s made a great many “shocking” claims, with evidence always a day or two away. To many, this is more than sufficient to raise questions. Continue reading

Cash Bail Redux: Does It “Criminalize Poverty”?

As word spread that Kyle Rittenhouse was out on $2 million dollar bail, the screams of the unduly passionate could be heard around the nation. No, they weren’t screams of joy at the respect shown the foundational jurisprudential concept and constitutional right of the presumption of innocence and an accused’s release.

Whether he’s a murderer remains to be seen, as he’s innocent until proven guilty. That his bail was paid by “wypipo” (slang for “white people,” assuming that only white people contributed to his legal defense fund and not people who believe in the presumption of innocence), is functionally indistinguishable from bail paid by the many funds, like the Bronx Freedom Fund, that exist around the country to bail people out of jail. Continue reading

Will Kamala Make Prosecutors Great Again?

Not too long ago, ambitious law students wanted to land a job as a prosecutor. The best might end up in Manhattan, which was about as good as it got when it came to elite state prosecutors. The alt path was a couple years in Biglaw after their judicial clerkship, then a walk to the Southern District of New York, the epitome of prosecutorial prestige. The second team walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to the Eastern District in dreaded Brooklyn, heads bent in shame.

Law students wanted to be prosecutors. Being a prosecutor was great experience, impressive on a resume, alluring to cable television producers and a path to political prominence, whether as judge or elected official. After all, voters appreciated those who dedicated their careers to protecting us from criminals. But then, in the past couple of years, it dropped like a rock as a favored career path. Continue reading

Patriot Games

They’re still rioting in Portland, not that you would know it from stories in the New York Times. Last night’s rioting was dedicated to Trans Remembrance Day. For as long as they could, this was all blamed on Trump, but the concern remains that when Biden takes office, nothing will change because this isn’t about Trump, they have no greater respect for Biden and the new administration will be caught in the untenable situation of having to deal with the protests and rioting in perpetuity. Unless, of course, it’s never reported and no one knows it’s still going on.

But where once this rioting appeared to be the rioting to watch, their alter egos are about to take their place in the pantheon of the righteous because they believe, with the same religious fervor as any true believer, that the Dems have stolen the election. They, as Patriots, have heard the call that it’s left to them to save democracy, save America, and they plan to answer. Continue reading

Seaton: Saturday At The Knoll

It was a good Saturday night at the Grassy Knoll Pub.

Patrons just finished the nightly tradition of singing “Sweet Home Alabama” while the jukebox played. The Tide’s win meant business was up. All this had owner Jesse Custer in a jovial mood from his spot behind the bar.

Custer’s mood gave way to disbelief when two black SUVs pulled up to the curb at closing time.

Here we go again, Jesse thought. Continue reading