Have Gun, Will Travel To New York

New York has never been a gun-friendly place, which made it a good venue to take the chance of sucking in Ohio gun seller, Charles Brown, when a gun he sold lawfully ended up being illegally sold to a “Buffalo gang member” and, ultimately, injuring the plaintiff. How far can New York’s long arm statute reach? Not that far, the Court of Appeals held.

Defendant Charles Brown, a federal firearm licensee, was authorized to sell handguns only in Ohio and only to Ohio residents, which he primarily accomplished through retail sales at gun shows held in various locations in Ohio. Brown did not maintain a website, had no retail store or business telephone listing, and did no advertising of any kind, except by posting a sign at his booth when participating in a gun show. In a series of transactions in 2000, Brown sold handguns to James Nigel Bostic and his associates. Prior to the transaction involving the gun at issue here, Brown consulted with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to ensure its legality. For each transaction, the necessary forms required by the ATF were properly completed and submitted, the purchaser passed the required Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check before the firearms were transferred, Brown verified that the purchaser had government-issued identification demonstrating Ohio residency, and notification of the purchases was timely sent to local law enforcement and the ATF as required by the federal Gun Control Act (see 18 USC § 922).

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When Defense Lawyers Become “Those People”

He may only be woke lite, but South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg asked the question (at ~the 9 minute mark) to “what extent do you invite those people, or appear to be conferring honor on them?” By “those people,” he was referring to criminal defense lawyers in general, and Harvard lawprof Ron Sullivan, in particular, for representing Harvey Weinstein.

Of course, Sullivan wasn’t up for the Nobel Prize for his representation, but stripped of his position as Winthrop House dean. Is it too nuanced for Buttigieg to distinguish conferring an honor from being punished? He was a Harvard College grad, a Rhodes Scholar, but then again, he’s not a lawyer. Perhaps he just lacks an appreciation of the Constitution, in general, and the Sixth Amendment, in particular.

Except what appears otherwise obvious to lawyers, that the right to counsel is fundamental, is now subject to “reasonable” dispute among a certain cohort of lawyers, the public defenders. Continue reading

The Nursery School Named Harvard

It came after the protests, the  crying, the deeply-hurt feelings of unsafety expressed by the students so brilliant they are capable of transmuting the pain of people far, far away to their own world, via a transmission system leaping from actress to movie mogul, from movie mogul to lawyer, from lawyer to housemaster faculty dean, and from there to students, to house culture, to the threat in the middle of the day or the middle of the night that waves of rapist threat will somehow permeate Winthrop House at Harvard College.

After all, this, the savvy students searched history like a twitter feed for that errant twit they could throw out and scream, “AHA!!! He was always awful.” And they believe it, because despite all their brilliance, they remain insipid children.

Harvard College, by its dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana, decided not to renew the appointments of law prof Ronald Sullivan and his wife, law instructor, Stephanie Robinson, as faculty deans of Winthrop House. They were out. They were out because Sullivan joined the defense team for Harvey Weinstein. Continue reading

Better Choices, Better Rates

Not until the end does Malcolm Harris give it a name, and it’s a good one: Subprime Kids. Like puppies, kids evade criticism, as they possess an innate purity that shouldn’t be subject to cynicism. While they may turn bad, turn sour, along the way, no child starts out that way, and so each deserves their chance to be all they can be. It’s got enormous appeal.

But Harris’ description of I.S.A.s, income share agreements, otherwise sounds like a pretty good pitch.

Now private capital is starting to find its way into I.S.A.s, through a handful of online computer science training programs. With names like Pathrise, Thinkful and the Lambda School, these “career accelerators” provide tech companies with certified coders and provide participants with a credential in months, not years. Students in these programs can pay by way of an I.S.A. that is financed and serviced by investors gathered under their own Silicon Valley-style names like Leif.

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If It’s Just Systemic Racism, Let’s Execute the Bad White Dudes

Much to the chagrin outrage of many of the unduly passionate advocates for criminal law reform, I’ve refused to succumb to the facile, if simplistic, mantra of “everything is racism or sexism.” Indeed, I’ve explained why this is both wrong and a dangerous conflation of two extant problems that exist side by side, but separate, which is why they don’t want to hang out with me anymore. If you’re not part of their tribe, you’re part of their enemies’ tribe.

When it comes to an issue like the death penalty, invariably emotionally charged and particularly susceptible to reduction to absurdity, the calls that the system is broken because it’s racist are particularly loud and strident. It’s bad enough that so many advocates think only black and brown people are arrested and imprisoned, rather than grasp that they may be disproportionately targeted, but the same system puts white people in prison as well.

In California, where the death penalty remains a theoretically available punishment, the problem with this misguided understanding of the problem came to a head. Continue reading

Capping Interest Rates and Ceteris Paribus

Two of Congress’ most curious economics mavens teamed up to introduce a bill to cap credit card interest rates at 15%. Their argument in favor of this legislation was straightforward.

Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will introduce the House version of the bill. “There is no reason a person should pay more than 15% interest in the United States,” she said on Twitter. “It’s a debt trap for working people + it has to end.”

So “no reason” isn’t exactly a strong argument, but it’s more than sufficient to appeal to the base. And, in a vacuum, it’s hard to argue that interest rates of 15%, no less the maximum below usury, 25%, are fair when banks are paying a pittance, if anything, on deposits. But then, that’s not the criterion for unsecured credit. Continue reading

Seaton: Community In Shock As Neighbors Civilly Disagree

A quiet suburban community is reeling from the horrific tragedy of two men leaving a home dinner mutually agreeing to disagree with each other over certain controversial subjects.

“Look, I like Jim,” said John Anderson, “We meet every week or two with our spouses for dinner, and we’ll try occasionally to find common ground on stuff, but I just think he’s wrong about a few things. He’s got great taste in scotch, though!”

“I’ve known John ever since he and his husband moved to the neighborhood,” quipped Jim Stone. “He’s an incredibly smart guy and very generous with his time to anyone who asks. I just fundamentally disagree with him on a few issues and have since we first met.” Continue reading

Short Take: The List of Shame

The argument, spurious as it may be, is that the Sex Offender Registry is justified as a means of alerting people to the child molester or rapist next door. Not “fair enough,” but still, that’s the rationalization. So Florida has taken the “sex” part, ignored the rest of the reasoning, and run with it.

Florida lawmakers just voted to create a public registry of people caught paying or attempting to pay for sex.

After an initial defeat in the Florida House of Representatives, the registry—arguably the worst part of a new Florida crime bill capitalizing on human-trafficking propaganda—was revived and reinserted before the measure’s passage in the Florida Senate. The final version, approved last week, creates a database of convicted prostitution customers, targets strip clubs, and mandates that a slew of state workers and businesses jump through new hoops to accommodate a few politicians’ latest attempt to get their names in the press.

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Fool On The Hill

Yesterday, the New York Times published an op-ed by former Obama chief of staff, now Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, laying claim to having begun the successful reform of the Chicago police department. The Chicago Tribune replied with an editorial calling bullshit. The reason is clear: Emanuel, in the midst of his farewell tour, having announced that he would not be running for another term, has fabricated his success out of whole cloth. It’s a lie. It’s revisionist history. It is bullshit.

Today, the New York Times has published another lie, this time by Anita Hill. I have no clue what happened between her and Clarence Thomas. I remember well watching Thomas’ confirmation hearing. I recall being grossed out by Hill’s testimony about a pubic hair on her can of Coke. I was no fan of Thomas, and believed he was singularly inadequately distinguished to serve on the Supreme Court.

But Hill’s testimony, disturbing though it was, failed to doom the nomination for an obvious reason. She could have taken action against Thomas, proved her claim and prevailed. Instead, she did nothing, save made excuses for her failure to act. That was 1991, decades before people forgot that mouthing untested accusations was absurdly inadequate to prove they were wronged. Continue reading

Preening At The Vermont Coffeehouse

Tom Nichols, who has curmudgeon potential should he seek to work a little harder on it, revisits the (thus far) ineffective calls to fire Camille Paglia from Philly’s University of the Arts and Sarah Lawrence’s “Diaspora Coalition’s” condemnation of its professor, Samuel Abrams. And, of course, the students at Vermont’s Middlebury College, threatening governmental suicide if their demands aren’t met.

In Vermont, students at Middlebury College have threatened to disband their own student government if the school does not respond to a hodgepodge of demands ranging from greater student presence in the administration to the creation of a black-studies department. Many years ago, I taught at Dartmouth College and lived in Vermont just up the road from Middlebury; just 1.1 percent of the population of Vermont, the whitest state in the nation, and 1.9 percent of Middlebury’s is black. That might make recruiting faculty for a black-studies department a challenge for any institution in the region, but students also want a two-year plan to create an LGBTQ center, hire more counselors who are “femme, of color, and/or queer,” and “provide a more robust health service for transitioning people,” proposals that are likely to be especially expensive for a small institution in rural New England.

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