Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Licensed concealed carrier saves multiple lives

"37-year old Lisa Harris saved the lives of multiple people after using her concealed carry pistol to take down a department store shooter in Virginia."
Don't look for this in the segment of the media dominated by liberals.


Gun shows and purchases from lawful sources are not the biggest sources. Gun control legislation needs to focus on what is going on in the real world.  This study, however, involved only one city.  The results may not be generalizable.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


I have edited the post below.  In my anger, I over-generalized about Texas and its people.  The problem is abuse of public trust by the political and administrative leadership.  Power corrupts.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


The Texas Child Protective Service scandal just keeps getting worse. Thousands of children in desperate situations are not even being seen.  The foster care system is a disaster. http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2016/03/17/texas-foster-care-crisis-children-sleeping-in-cps-offices-again-as-more-removed-from-homes-but-state-out-of-places-to-care-for-them


It's unbelievable how incompetent or uncaring state leadership is.  A tip off should have been when they hired Hank Whitman to lead the agency.  What is his background?  Head of the Texas Rangers, now retired.  No real experience in CPS-type work.  Looks like another political hack put in charge of another lets-pretend-we-care move.

"The problem, apparently, is that state lawmakers are talking out of both sides of their mouths: They say they want to hire more CPS investigators and caseworkers, pronto.
But they still want to pay them diddly-squat, even though they know that chronic low pay is a key reason many CPS workers don't hang around long enough for the paint to dry.
That does not sound like urgency to me.
Doesn't sound like a state agency ready to do whatever it takes to turn the corner."

Public services in Texas are generally pathetic.  The prison system, metnal health resources and inner-city public schools are among the continuing scandals.  Corruption of all kinds is rampant.  https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/414910/texas-has-corruption-problem
Texas ranks low in most measures of government services yet, it has a huge budget surplus and lots of money to throw at corrupt, political favorite, contractors.  Is there no compassion for the needs of defenseless children? How do we explain this?  Here's part of the answer.  There is a significant white supremacist presence in Texas.  See https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2016/active-hate-groups-united-states-2015 and map.  Blacks and Hispanics are much poorer, on average, than whites. Another is the belief that those who are poor are poor because they are lazy or mentally defective.  Affluent people are credited with working harder and are seen as genetically superior.  Most Texas citizens ae not like this, but those who are seem to have a lot of political clout, and seem to manage to get elected and re-elected.  The leadership is more interested in fighting the culture wars than in helping vulnerable Texans.

Decases ago, Texas was dominated by mostly corrupt democrats.  There was no meaningful political opposition.  Now Republicans dominate at the state and many local levels.  Corruption, favoritism, patronage, etc.
are rampant because, in part, the Republicans have so much power and control.  Many Republicans and Tea Partiers hate to spend money on the poor and disadvantaged.  Xenophobia is rampant.  Anyone who is not a conservative, white Christian is suspect. Again, this is not most Texans.
 Ironically, South Texas which is among the most corrupt areas of the state is dominated by Democrats.  It's not just the republicans.  Power corrupts and the more power the more corruption.  It seems that only the newspapers are willing to call out the politicians.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

New 2nd Amend. decision

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a ban on gun sales to patients holding a medical marijuana card is legal, ABC News reports Wednesday.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/31/us-court-denies-second-amendment-rights-for-medical-marijuana-cardholders/#ixzz4Ndx1VBLk

If that's the only reason for denial, I question the decision.  She's a lawful user of marijuana.  I have never seen a violent crime case where medical marijuana was deemed a factor.

Friday, October 14, 2016


The media are reporting that gun accidents kill a child every other day.
E.g. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/10/14/ap-usa-today-gun-accidents-children/91906700/   Notice how the article begins with the tragic story of the death of a 4-year old in a gun accident.  This is a common propaganda technique designed to arouse the reader's emotion rather than their reason. They claim that the data comes from the 'nonpartisan' "Gun Violence Archive." The Archive claims to be nonpartisan.  However if you go to their website, http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/you find the following:

"Related Websites

Except for the Sunlight Foundation and Officer down and perhaps Gun policy, all of these organizations are pro-control.  Check them out yourself.
For instance Armed for Reason" is sponsored by Gabby Giffords and her husband.  The "Brady Center" is an aggressive advocate of more controls.  My perusal of "Gun Policy" suggest a pro-control stance.  They are sponsored by the Sydney School of Public Health.  I've never seen a public health organization that wasn't pro-control  They s support the controversial "U.N. Program for Action on Small Arms."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


It's disgusting that many police agencies view themselves as above the law.
The excuses given are usually lame.  In TX failure to report is a crime. Don't hold your breath on charges against any of the officials involved being filed.
The sad fact of the matter is that many politicians and people applaud unlawful shootings and get-tough tactics as a way to keep the "dangerous classes in line."  Some of it reflects a white supremacist mentality.  If affluent whites were being subjected to these tactics, something would be done. 

Sunday, October 09, 2016


"Authorities early Sunday arrested a 26-year-old man on suspicion of killing two Palm Springs police officers and wounding a third when they responded to a domestic disturbance Saturday.
The arrest capped a nearly 12-hour standoff in a quiet Palm Springs neighborhood involving scores of police when swarmed the area after the three officers were gunned down."

Thursday, October 06, 2016


1966 is the 50th anniversary of what is perhaps the best book on policing and the law, Jerome Skolnick's Justice Without Trial: Law Enforcement in a Democratic Society.  It is not book for lawyers or law students.  It is generally about cops in the American legal system.  It only discusses a few Supreme Court opinions.  It is written by a sociologist, with an excellent understanding of the legal basics.  He throws in some history and focuses on the subculture of policing and the cops' outlook on their job.  Although much has changed since then, the basic insights of the book still run true.  I strongly recommend this book if you are interested in the topic.

See Skolnick's update at  http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4613-8312-3_10#page-1

For a review see  http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1920&context=flr

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court, awaiting the outcome of a presidential election that will determine its future, returns to the bench this week to face a volatile docket studded with timely cases on race, religion and immigration.
The justices have been shorthanded since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February, and say they are determined to avoid deadlocks. That will require resolve and creativity.
“This term promises to be the most unpredictable one in many, many years,” said Neal K. Katyal, a former acting United States solicitor general in the Obama administration now with Hogan Lovells.
There is no case yet on the docket that rivals the blockbusters of recent terms addressing health care, abortion or same-sex marriage. But such cases are rare, whether there are eight justices or nine."

This is one of the most controversial and interesting cases: "Later this term, in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111, the justices will decide whether to take up a baker’s contention that he should not be compelled to create a cake for a same-sex wedding."

Monday, October 03, 2016


Latest on research on the "Ferguson Effect" on policing.

Man unconstiutionally arrested for desecrating U.S. Flag

All state and federal criminal laws must be consistent with the U.S. Constitution. An arrest and conviction based on an unconstitutional statute are invalid, unlawful and a violation of the suspect's rights.  See this blog post:


The issue this time is AL clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
"The federal court decisions on same-sex marriage, including the ruling in June 2015 by the United States Supreme Court that it is a constitutional right, outraged him. In a 93-page concurrence to an Alabama Supreme Court decision on the matter earlier year, he condemned the gay rights movement as leading to a “wasteland of sexual anarchy” and wrote, in the context of the federal Supreme Court decision, of the “duty to disregard illegal orders.”
In Judge Moore’s view, the Supreme Court’s decision guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to marry was not binding on Alabama. Despite a Federal District Court’s order to the state’s probate judges,
Despite a Federal District Court’s order to the state’s probate judges, Mr. Moore insisted that until a final ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, the matter was still unresolved.
In January he issued his order to the probate judges, informing them that they had a “ministerial duty” to refuse licenses to same-sex couples until a state-level decision was handed down."
 UPDATE,  C.J. Moore suspended (again)

Saturday, September 24, 2016


White female officer indicted for manslaughter in killing of unarmed black male motorist.

System stacked against the poor

In many ways, much that goes on in the U.S. is unfairly stacked against the poor, who are disproportionately black and Hispanic.  Here's just one example.
"JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When Dequan Jackson had his only brush with the law, at 13, he tried to do everything right.
Charged with battery for banging into a teacher while horsing around in a hallway, he pleaded guilty with the promise that after one year of successful probation, the conviction would be reduced to a misdemeanor.
He worked 40 hours in a food bank. He met with an anger management counselor. He kept to an 8 p.m. curfew except when returning from football practice or church.
And he kept out of trouble.
But Dequan and his mother, who is struggling to raise two sons here on wisps of income, were unable to meet one final condition: payment of $200 in court and public defender fees. For that reason alone, his probation was extended for what turned out to be 14 more months, until they pulled together the money at a time when they had trouble finding quarters for the laundromat.
Dequan’s experience is hardly an isolated one. The ways that fines and fees can entrap low-income people in the adult courts have received enormous attention in the past year or two. But the systematic imposition of costs on juvenile offenders, with equally pernicious effects on the poorest of them, is far less known.
And for Dequan and his family, it got worse. Duval County, where they live, charges a dollar per day for probation supervision, so that meter kept on ticking. On a recent evening in their sparse apartment, in a rough public housing complex here, his mother, Shenna Jackson, displayed their unpaid bill from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s Cost of Care Recovery Unit: $868.
“You feel like you’re drowning and you’re trying to get some air, but people are just pouring more water into the pool,” is how Dequan, now a 16-year-old honor student and star linebacker at Robert E. Lee High School, described his despair over what, for this family, is a crushing financial burden."


"CHARLOTTE — For two nights, enraged residents here have taken to the streets in both peaceful and violent demonstrations following the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, 43.
Police have said Scott raised a gun toward an officer. Scott’s family members have said he had a book in his hands. Activists have noted that North Carolina is an open-carry state — and that even if Scott was armed, they want to see proof of him raising the weapon in a way that would justify lethal force.
Body-camera video of the incident could settle the dispute over whether Scott was armed, but police and city officials have declined to make the video public.
Last year, Charlotte became the first city in North Carolina to equip all of its uniformed officers with body cameras. Although the officer who shot and killed Scott was in plainclothes and not wearing a body camera, officials have said that parts of the interaction were captured by body cameras worn by other officers as well as a dash-mounted camera.
This tussle — between public calls for transparency and police pleas for patience — has played out in dozens of U.S. cities in the past two years. Citing cases such as the shootings of Walter Scott, where video upends the police narrative of events, many activists argue that the only way they can know for sure what happened in an incident is if officials release video. Police departments often say that releasing the video too soon could undermine their investigations of these incidents.
“Transparency is in the eye of the beholder,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference  Thursday morning. “I’m going to be very intentional about protecting the integrity of the investigation. We release it when we believe it’s a compelling reason.”

Failure to release the videos quickly only feeds suspicion, distrust and conspiracy theories.  It appears that some police leaders are more interested in protecting their agencies and officers.  The cost of this can be violent riots.  Videos never tell the complete story, but transparency is essential.  There is always a threat to an officer's right to a fair trial, but there are numerous methods to protect that rights. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


The 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger was a milestone in the development of First Amendment freedom of the press in America.  See this review of a new book on the topic.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is notoriously anti-gun rights.  However, gun rights did win a victory in this case.  The court held that the Second Amendment includes a limited right to acquire firearms.


In spite of the fact that the Second Amendment protects the right to both "keep and bear" arms, and the underlying rationale of the Supreme Court's decisions in Heller and McDonald, a number of courts have defied the rule of law and have ruled that the  Second Amendment does not apply outside the home.  See   http://www.jurist.org/feature/featured/concealed-and-open-carry-under-the-second-amendment/detail.php
Here is a sensible decision by a very repsected U.S. Court of Appeals judge who ruled the Amendment does apply outside the home. 
702 F.3d 933 (2012)

Michael MOORE, et al., and Mary E. Shepard, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Lisa MADIGAN, Attorney General of Illinois, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 12-1788, 12-1269.
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Argued June 8, 2012.
Decided December 11, 2012.

See also
"Our conclusion that the right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense is perhaps unsurprising—other circuits faced with this question have expressly held, or at the very least have assumed, that this is so. Moore, 702 F.3d at 936 ("A right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home."); see also, e.g., Drake, 724 F.3d at 431 (recognizing that the Second Amendment right "may have some application beyond the home"); Woollard v. Gallagher, 712 F.3d 865, 876 (4th Cir.2013) ("We ... assume that the Heller right exists outside the home...."); Kachalsky, 701 F.3d at 89 (assuming that the Second Amendment "must have some application in the very different context of the public possession of firearms").
Given this consensus, one might consider it odd that we have gone to such lengths to trace the historical scope of the Second Amendment right. But we have good reason to do so: we must fully understand the historical scope of the right before we can determine whether and to what extent the San Diego County policy burdens the right or whether it goes even further and "amounts to a destruction of the right" altogether. See Heller, 554 U.S. at 629, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (quoting Reid, 1 Ala. at 616-17). Heller instructs that text and history are our primary guides in that inquiry.
1167*1167 One of Heller's most important lessons is that the Second Amendment "codif[ies] a pre-existing right" whose contours can be understood principally through an evaluation of contemporaneous accounts by courts, legislators, legal commentators, and the like. Heller, 554 U.S. at 603, 605, 128 S.Ct. 2783; see also McDonald, 130 S.Ct. at 3056-57 (Scalia, J., concurring) ("The traditional restrictions [on the keeping and bearing of arms] go to show the scope of the right."). Tracing the scope of the right is a necessary first step in the constitutionality analysis-and sometimes it is the dispositive one. See Heller, 554 U.S. at 628-35, 128 S.Ct. 2783. "[C]onstitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them...." Id. at 634-35, 128 S.Ct. 2783. A law that "under the pretence of regulating, amounts to a destruction of the right" would not pass constitutional muster "[u]nder any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights." Id. at 628-29, 128 S.Ct. 2783. Put simply, a law that destroys (rather than merely burdens) a right central to the Second Amendment must be struck down. Id.
We thus disagree with those courts— including the district court in this case— that have taken the view that it is not necessary (and, thus, necessary not) to decide whether carrying a gun in public for the lawful purpose of self-defense is a constitutionally protected activity. See, e.g., Drake, 724 F.3d at 431; Woollard, 712 F.3d at 876; Kachalsky, 701 F.3d at 89; cf. Masciandaro, 638 F.3d at 475. Understanding the scope of the right is not just necessary, it is key to our analysis. For if self-defense outside the home is part of the core right to "bear arms" and the California regulatory scheme prohibits the exercise of that right, no amount of interest-balancing under a heightened form of means-ends scrutiny can justify San Diego County's policy. See Heller, 554 U.S. at 634, 128 S.Ct. 2783 ("The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon.").

742 F.3d 1144 (2014)

Edward PERUTA; Michelle Laxson; James Dodd; Leslie Buncher, Dr.; Mark Cleary; California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; William D. Gore, individually and in his capacity as Sheriff, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 10-56971.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
742 F.3d 1144 (2014)

Edward PERUTA; Michelle Laxson; James Dodd; Leslie Buncher, Dr.; Mark Cleary; California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; William D. Gore, individually and in his capacity as Sheriff, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 10-56971.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Gun control groups and much of the media are touting polls suggesting gun ownership and the percentage of homes with guns is going down.  They do a nice job of cherry-picking the data they like.Not all surveys show a significant decrease in gun ownership or the percentage of households with guns.
There is no definitive data source from the government or elsewhere on how many Americans own guns or how gun ownership rates have changed over time. Also, public opinion surveys provide conflicting results: Some show a decline in the number of households with guns, but another does not.
The General Social Survey (GSS), conducted roughly every two years by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, with principal funding from the National Science Foundation, provides a widely-used look at the rate of gun ownership over time. The GSS data show a substantial decline in the shares of both households and individuals with guns. When the GSS first asked about gun ownership in 1973, 49% reported having a gun or revolver in their home or garage. In 2012, 34% said they had a gun in their home or garage. When the survey first asked about personal gun ownership in 1980, 29% said a gun in their home personally belonged to them. This stands at 22% in the 2012 GSS survey.
3-12-13 #13
The Pew Research Center has tracked gun ownership since 1993, and our surveys largely confirm the General Social Survey trend. In our December 1993 survey, 45% reported having a gun in their household; in early 1994, the GSS found 44% saying they had a gun in their home. A January 2013 Pew Research Center survey found 33% saying they had a gun, rifle or pistol in their home, as did 34% in the 2012 wave of the General Social Survey.
The Gallup Organization has been tracking gun ownership in their surveys over this time period as well, but their trend suggests no consistent decline. A Gallup survey in May 1972 found 43% reporting having a gun in their home. The percentage subsequently fluctuated a great deal, reaching a high of 51% in 1993 and a low of 34% in 1999 – but the percentage saying they had a gun in their home last year was the same as it was 40 years earlier (43%)."


"Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror documents EJI’s multi-year investigation into lynching in twelve Southern states during the period between Reconstruction and World War II. EJI researchers documented 4075 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950 – at least 800 more lynchings of black people in these states than previously reported in the most comprehensive work done on lynching to date.
Lynching in America makes the case that lynching of African Americans was terrorism, a widely supported phenomenon used to enforce racial subordination and segregation. Lynchings were violent and public events that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. This was not “frontier justice” carried out by a few marginalized vigilantes or extremists. Instead, many African Americans who were never accused of any crime were tortured and murdered in front of picnicking spectators (including elected officials and prominent citizens) for bumping into a white person, or wearing their military uniforms after World War I, or not using the appropriate title when addressing a white person. People who participated in lynchings were celebrated and acted with impunity.
The report explores the ways in which lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the contemporary geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans. Most importantly, lynching reinforced a narrative of racial difference and a legacy of racial inequality that is readily apparent in our criminal justice system today. Mass incarceration, racially biased capital punishment, excessive sentencing, disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, and police abuse of people of color reveal problems in American society that were shaped by the terror era."  The state with the most lynchings is Louisiana.  The worst single even involved around 240 murders of blacks in Phillips County, Arkansas. (Note that the term "lynching" is not limited to murder by hanging).

Saturday, September 17, 2016




According to the NYT"
"Six former New York City correction officers returned to Rikers Island — this time as inmates — after being sentenced on Friday to prison terms of from four and a half years to six and a half years for their roles in the brutal beating of an inmate there in 2012.
The sentencing of the former officers in State Supreme Court in the Bronx came three months after they were convicted of first-degree attempted gang assault, the most serious offense, and other charges. The case opened a window on a pervasive culture of violence at Rikers, the troubled city jail complex that houses 8,000 inmates, at a time when many critics, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, have called for it to be closed.
While there have been other instances of brutality against inmates, this case stood out because of the large number of officers involved, as well as the high rank of some of them. Prosecutors said Eliseo Perez Jr., an assistant chief for security, and Gerald Vaughn, a captain, ordered members of an elite squad to beat the inmate, Jahmal Lightfoot, after Mr. Perez decided Mr. Lightfoot was being insolent."


See http://substativecriminallawissues.blogspot.com/2016/09/no-probable-cause-leads-to-bad-arrest.html


What can we predict abut crime for the next few years?


From the NYT:
"Here is the case of a missing paragraph that turned into a trap door that dropped a man into prison.
The paragraph vanished from a police report in a Brooklyn criminal case, but essential information has been hidden from people accused of crimes in courthouses across the country. Even though failing to share exculpatory information is among the most serious breaches of ethics and law for the police and prosecutors, there is little personal or institutional accountability for such tactics."  This needs to change.