Thursday, December 30, 2010

Legal Standards for Use of Force against Immigration Detainees

Great article on an important topic. Due process is the standard. AELE is a great organization for finding good, current, legal materials relevant to CJ. If these topics interest you, I strongly you subscribe to their updates. LINK

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Great article on U.S. Gun Control Strategies

Great law review article on gun control strategies in the U.S. at LINK The author’s final words” “CONCLUSION Without a commitment to or capacity for eliminating the existing inventory of private guns, the supply-side ideal and regulations based on it cannot be taken seriously. It is best to acknowledge the blocking power of the remainder and adjust our gun control regulations and goals to that reality. Policymakers who continue to press legislation grounded on the supply-side ideal while disclaiming the goal of prohibition are deluded or pandering.”

Police fatalities up sharply in 2010.

Some of the increase is due to more incidents in which more than one officer is killed. LINK

Holiday Tragedy: Officer killed during traffic stop!

While many of us are home relaxing, our peace officers and military personnel are putting their lives on the line every day! Never forget! RIP! LINK

Review of the Year in CounterTerrorism

Yes, the workaholic is back. Had a great vacation! I hope everyone out there is feeling refreshed and revitalized. Anyway, great, brief article on the year in counterterrorism for those interested in the legal aspects of the topic. Also included a few relevant reading choices. LINK

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!

I'll be taking off a couple weeks (please keep the applause down), and hope everyone stays safe and enjoys the holiday season!

3 NOPD officers convicted in Henry Glover shooting case

In the post-Katrina hell, part of which was created by NOPD, Henry Glover, an unarmed man, was shot and killed by a NOPD officer. There was absolutely no justification for the shooting. Officers attempted to cover it up by burning Glover's body in a car and keeping quiet. In federal court, the officer who shot Glover was convicted of manslaughter. Two other officers were convicted of participating in the cover up. Two officers were acquitted. LINK Will officers who were acquitted but admitted involvement in the coverup be fired? Will NOPD finally be cleaned up? LINK

Monday, December 13, 2010

U.S. Dist. Ct. Judge finds part of Obama Care Unconstitutional

A U.S. District Court judge in Virginia held that a key part of the massive "ObamaCare" legislation was beyond Congress' power under the Commerce clause. I agree with the ruling. However, the Supreme Court will probably have the final say, and that could take years. Stay tuned! LINK

Friday, December 10, 2010

My top 11 impact (good or bad) Supreme Court cases

On one of the Professor Discussion Boards I watch, a Prof. asked for people's top 10-15 all-time high impact U.S. Supreme Court decisions--whether or not you agree or disagree with the decision. My list is below. Are there any you would add or subtract? Top 11 U.S. Supreme Court decisions in terms of impact/potential impact (whether or not I agree with the result) in no particular order. Everybody has a top 10 or Dirty Dozen--I just have to be different some times! 1. Dred Scott v. Sanford (expression of white supremacy, highly controversial at time, factor in triggering Civil War) 2. Brown v Bd. of Education (beginning of the end separate but equal and de jure racial discrimination, spurred Civil Right Revolution, highly controversial at time) 3. Mapp v. Ohio (4th Amend. Exclusionary rule applies to states, states now have to take Fourth Amendment seriously, great increase in police training on search and seizure, great increase in litigation in criminal cases, highly controversial) 4. Reynolds v. Sims (requires one-man one-vote in state legislatures, major shift in power from rural to urban in many states,highly controversial, very unpopular in rural circles) 5. Griswold v. Conn. (birth or substantive due process right to privacy, led to Roe and Lawrence, most people liked result, Court's methodology controversial) 6. Roe v. Wade (woman’s right to abortion under right to privacy; highly controversial to this day) 7. Marbury v. Madison (established principle of judicial review) 8. Miranda v. AZ (warnings required before police can interrogate suspect in custody, major change in required police procedures, helps make privilege against self-incrimination a viable right when dealing with police, promoted police professionalism and improved respect for suspects, controversial at time) 9. Gregg v. Ga. (allowed reinstatement of death penalty) 10. McDonald v. Chi. (Individual rights interpretation of 2nd Amendment binding on states, spurred gun-rights movement, lawsuits and legislative proposals, highly disliked by many on the Left, Full impact still to be played out) 11. Lawrence v. Texas (right to engage in adult consensual homosexual activity in private; will spurred more gay rights cases, e.g., right of gays to marry, “don’t ask, don’t tell, highly disliked by many on the Right) Being a CJ Professor, my list might be biased in that direction. What are your top 10-15 Supreme Court decisions in terms of impact (whether you like them or not)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Potential "repeal" amendment worthy of debate

With Republican and Tea Party gains in the last elections, the “repeal” amendment to the Constitution is getting increased attention. The basic idea is that if legislatures of 2/3 of the states so vote, it will repeal the targeted federal legislation. Although I am always leery of tinkering with our fundamental law (witness the 18th Amend.), I think this proposal is well worth exploring. Federalism, the 10th Amend., and alleged federal over-reaching are not new issues. They have been with us since the founding of the Republic. One of the key factors in America having a stable democracy is that there are lawful processes for challenging legislation that at least some people do not like. The proposal would strengthen the concept of limited government and complement separation of powers, checks and balances, and the Bill of Rights. It will help quell fears of a run-away, authoritarian federal government. Given our national political diversity, and the requirement that 2/3 of state legislatures must concur, the overruling or repeal of federal legislation will probably be a very rare occurrence. Of course, if one does not value the concept of limited government, the proposal is automatically a bad idea. Let’s start thinking about and debating this proposal. For more on the amendment see LINK

Monday, December 06, 2010

If you are trying to keep up with the legal challenges to "ObamaCare," the linked site might be helpful. LINK The blog states that the judge is likely to find at least one section unconstitutional. Even if that is so, this is just the beginning of the legal battle, which will likely take at least 2 years to get to the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Change of Pace: Slices of Life--Comletely rebuilt vehicle

Every once in a while I'll sneak in something interesting, puzzling or humorous that has noting to do with CL or J. (Warning: I some times have a twisted sense of humor). Anyway, I was leafing through the classifieds to get to the crossword puzzle and "Jumble." I got a quick glance of a classified ad in the autos section that was headlined "COMPLETELY REBUILT, NEW, NEW, NEW, EVERYTHING." Expecting to see an ad for a really neat classic or hot car (e.g, '57 Chevy Bel Air, 2dr hdtp or 68 Plymouth Hemi-Cuda) I went back to the ad. Guess what the vehicle was? 1984 Ford Bronco II 4x4. WT *#$@%! Am I missing something here?

Passengers soon allowed Guns on Most Amtrak trains

The rules against guns on Amtrak trains will change Dec. 15. Another victory for the Second Amendment and freedom of choice! LINK

Monday, November 29, 2010

Supreme Court to hear another campaign finance case.

Liberals and Dems were screaming like stuck pigs when the Supreme Court found in Citizens United that parts of the federal campaign spending act violated the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has agreed to review another campaign finance law Although this AZ law is different, it still, IMHO violates one of the basic commands of the First Amendment which is that government should stay out of the marketplace of ideas. J. Kennedy will, as usual, be the swing vote. Look for a 5-4 decision no matter who wins. LINK

Former Republican House Leader Convicted

One of the biggest stories breaking over Thanksgiving vacation was that Tom DeLay, former U.S. Rep. and House majority leader for the Republicans, was convicted in state court of money laundering related to violation of state campaign funding laws. He plans to appeal. LINK

Monday, November 22, 2010

HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

OK folks, it's time for everyone to once again to look at their lives and focus on the half of the glass that is full. Even if it's not half-full, be thankful you at least have a glass with a little in it. Things could always be better, but nature and fate owe us nothing! Death, pain, frustration and tragedy are a built-in part of the human condition. Let's all try to focus on some of the happiness that is also occasionally a built-in part of the human condition. HAVE A GOOD ONE!

AZ becomes 15th State to Approve Medical Marijuana

Lost in the election and California marijuana initiative news was the fact that Arizona, usually thought of as a conservative state, approved medical marijuana by a slim margin. As you might imagine, Calif. was the first to approve (in 1996). D.C. has also jumped on board recently. Stay tuned! LINK

The impending death of the concept of the individual

The latest uproar over intrusive search procedures by the TSA at airports is just another step in a possibly irreversible trend in America and other societies. LINK Thanks to the Enlightenment, Civil Rights, and other movements, human beings came to be viewed as individual beings entitled to rights and to be treated with dignity and respect. Authoritarian government was rejected. Obviously, some intrusions can be justified. However, the cumulative effects of both justified and unjustified intrusions will have dire consequences. Because of a number of factors, including mass culture, mass society, fear of crime and terrorism, huge, paternalistic governments and unethical corporations, those values are being lost. The individual will no longer be valued as a citizen, voter and taxpayer. Individuals will come to be viewed by government as clients, people in need of help and protection against bad choices such as diet, recreation, etc. Increasingly everyone will be viewed as a potential criminal or terrorist.. Freedom of choice in important matters will disappear. Mass processing and the assembly lines will be how most individuals are dealt with. Welcome to the cattle pen and the cattle prod! 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 will no longer be viewed as scare tactics.

EU border and immigration problems

Certainly the U.S. deserves lots of criticism, but many Europeans are self-righteously critical of the U.S. Some people need to look at the European Union before throwing stones at others. Many left-leaning Americans look on Europe as a model we ought be emulating. There is lots of criticism of U.S. immigration and border policies from both Americans and Europeans. It might be informative to look at how the EU is handling their Muslim and other immigration problems. LINK

LAPD in hot water again

Racial profiling still an issue. LINK Remember LAPD's Rampart scandal--one of the most widespread police corruption scandals in American history? LINK

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Texas Law Enforcement Officer dies in crash

We almost always hear about officers who are killed by suspects. However, there are often as many officer killed in accidents, usually automotive. This Texas DPS officer died in an accident while serving us. RIP. LINK

The problem of vague Supreme Court decisions

Lower courts and public officials are expected to follow Supreme Court decisions. Sometimes, however, perhaps unavoidably, these decisions do not provide clear guidance. This article is a good discussion of this problem. LINK Hopefully you can access this without having to subscribe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Licensed concealed carry on TX state college campuses again an issue.

During the Texas legislature's prior session, bills to allow those with valid Texas concealed carry licenses to carry on public college campuses never got up for a real vote. This will be an issue again in the new session which starts in January. You can make a good argument that a ban on concealed carry on public college campuses is a violation of the Second Amendment. Let's be clear on this. There is no requirement that licensees do so. The bills only give them freedom of choice on the issue. I know my libertarian bias is showing, but one would think that a society that labels itself free would welcome freedom of choice among law-abiding, trained, citizens who have cleared the legal and practical hurdles of getting a license to carry. Bill White would have let college Presidents make the decision. That was a cop-out. Decisions effecting freedom of choice for law-abiding licensed citizens should be made by politically accountable officials, mot politically unaccountable bureaucrats. One of the few (and far between) positive things about Rick Perry was that he would not leave the decision to the bureaucrats, but to politically accountable officials. IMHO, many liberal Democrats will be tip-toeing gingerly around this issue in the coming months. We can probably anticipate delaying and other tactics against the bill from some of these reps. LINK

H.S. Teacher suspended for violating student's First Amendment Rights

There are too many right and left-wing ideologues in public school classrooms. I sometimes shudder at the frequency of reported cases of strip searches, and other constitutional violations in our public schools. LINK

Scalia-Breyer Debate--Scalia would repeal 17th Amend.

Supreme Court Justices Steven, "the Huckster" Breyer and Antonin, "The Originalist" Scalia, had a public debate recently. One of the topics was the 17th Amend. The debate appears to be pretty-much a draw. LINK However, in Court opinions, IMHO, Scalia usually demolishes Breyer.

FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center

Feel free to check out the FBI"s Internet Crime Complaint Center! LINK

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Seventeenth Amendment and Federalism

Some of you might enjoy this brief article on federalism and the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment (direct election of U.S. Senators). LINK

History of Political Scandals in the U.S.

Some of you might enjoy this long and detailed accounting of political scandals in the U.S. LINK

Texas Inmate Dies After 34 years on Death Row

Ronald Chambers was Texas'longest-serving death row inmate. Although cause of death has not yet been determined, he did manage to avoid execution. LINK

Police Chief's Son Killed in shootout with Police

A police officer, a bystander and the son of Dallas's Police Chief were killed in the shootout. The son was allegedly high on PCP and had a long history of mental illness. Appears to be another suicide by cop. Tragically, he took two other with him. LINK

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Same Distortions, Different Dude

It doesn't seem to matter who's in the White House. Unfavorable data and research results will be spun, misrepresented, and distorted. This time it's the Obama administration and studies on the Gulf Oil Spill. Other than a distinct shift to the far-left, nothing has changed about the integrity of our politicians in charge. If you voted for change, you got a lot of ideological change--but not much else. So much for campaign promises. When are the two main political parties going to come up with some candidates who deserve our votes? LINK

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Smugglers use Traffic Spikes Against the Police

Law enforcement frequently uses traffic spikes to stop suspects fleeing in vehicles. Here, the suspects used the spikes against the police. What else are the bad guys going to steal from the police bag of tricks? LINK

America's Food Police march on!

This is the kind of stuff that makes libertarians go ballistic! The Nanny state never rests. Where does it stop? LINK

Monday, November 08, 2010

Moratorium on Taser Use? Police defend device

As the death toll of persons tased by police rises, Amnesty International and others have called for a moratorium. Police argue the devices are valuable tools. LINK

Another Texas Exoneration

Anthony Graves spent 18 years in prison, 12 years of it on death row. He's now been exonerated. As is often the case, prosecutorial misconduct was to blame. We've got to get better people in the DA's offices across this state. First LINK Longer article link from Texas Monthly LINK

Saturday, November 06, 2010

MEHSERLE gets 2 years in BART slaying

More than 150 people were arrested during protests Friday night over the perceived leniency of the 2-year prison sentence given to former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the killing of Oscar Grant. Mehserle could have gotten up to 14 years. lINK

Friday, November 05, 2010

Gridlock may not be the end of the world

Media airheads like Diane Sawyer and others are bemoaning the potential "gridlock" in Congress following Republican gains in the most recent election. I guess if you believe in the Nanny state and that everyone who is "hurting" needs a government program, gridlock is bad. However, some economists think that the economy has a better chance of recovering if left alone for a while. Wall Street saw a surge after the election results were in. Further, reckless programs like Obama care, a 2500 page bill rushed through Congress that was probably not read completely by anyone in Congress, (and is probably loaded with special interest goodies), become less likely when there is "gridlock." House Speaker Pelosi said Congress needed to pass the bill so the people could find out what was in it. Contrary to Obama's promises, the bill was not available on the internet before he signed it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against health care reform. I prefer a more careful, thoughtful approach. Further, deficit spending is not always bad. Up to a point it can stimulate the economy. Gridlock may also slow the relentless assault on privacy and Fourth Amendment rights. Contrary to what you may hear, the sky is not falling. LINK

No legalized pot in California

The California initiative to legalize small-scale pot use and production failed at the polls. Mexico's President was against it. It might have been an interesting experiment, but it would have been contrary to federal law and may never have gotten off the ground anyway. Backers may try again in 2012. LINK

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Post-Katrina Cop's Suicide Now Being Investigated as Murder

Latest twist in the ongoing tale of the dark world of the NOPD. LINK

Plain & True Talk about politicians and huge budget deficits.

Plain and True talk about huge budget deficits at both the state and federal level: Ralph Martire, head of Illinois' liberal-leaning Center for Tax and Budget Accountability,” stated “Politicians promise more services but won't raise taxes to pay for them, Martire said. They depend on budget games and shortcuts instead and wind up blowing holes in the budget. Voters then get used to the idea that they can have services without any pain, and they reject politicians who say otherwise. "That's nonsense, but they believe it because that's the track record. Eventually, you run out of those games you can play," Martire said.” LINK

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Editor calls for Repealing Second Amend. & banning handguns

Even in the land of the free, your civil liberties and freedom to choose are always in jeopardy. IMHO, just more authoritarianism emanating from the left. LINK

Former Officer Not Guilty in Trial for Taser Death of Suspect.

The trial in another racially polarizing Taser death ends with a not guilty verdict. The suspect was Tased 8 or 9 times. It took the jury only about 3 hours to reach the verdict. LINK

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Democratic Congressman want to impeach CJ Roberts over Citizens United Decision

As discussed earlier, in the Supreme Court's (2010) decision in Citizens United, the majority struck down part of the federal campaign finance law on First Amendment grounds. As I suggested earlier, the real purpose of the statute was not to clean up politics but to create an advantage for the Dems and the left. Anytime politicos, on either the left of right, talk about cleaning up politics, you can usually be sure that cleansing is not the real goal. IMHO, The majority decision was consistent with the First Amendment which was designed to keep the government out of the market place of ideas. Another stuck pig is squealing--calling for CJ Robert's impeachment. Haven't heard talk about impeachment of a S.Ct. Justice since the Warren Court days. Now it's the left's ox who is being gored and impeachment talk is back. It would be nice if the politicos could rise above ideology and partisan advantage and provide sincere, balanced support for the First Amend. LINK

Taser problems in Canada--officers face criminal trial

The U.S. is not the only country where officers are increasingly being charged with criminal offenses for alleged excessive force involving Tasers. LINK

Monday, October 25, 2010

Need for leadership from the middle of the political spectrum?

IMHO,as American society becomes more polarized, we seem to get a decreasing number of candidates and officials who can lead from the middle of the political spectrum. This Rasmussen Report provides indirect evidence for that conclusion. It also suggests that the time might be right for a 3rd political party (one that can lead from the middle). 43% of Americans polled conclude that neither major party in Congress represents the people. LINK

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Manslaughter trial of officer for killing suspect with Taser opens

This should be interesting. This case was mentioned in a post below.It is very rare for a police officer to be criminally prosecuted. LINK

The Supreme Court's next Second Amend. case?

This case, Nordyke v. King, is now before the 9th Circuit. There is a good chance it will be the next U.S. Supreme Court case on the Second Amendment. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will specify the test or standard of review in Second Amendment cases. Personally, I feel strict scrutiny is the appropriate standard. LINK (see post on Wisconsin v. Schultz case below)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

No charges or discipline against officer who tasered man a total of 54 seconds.

The suspect died, but the officer has thus far escaped any sanctions. The city offered a $2 million settlement. The family is suing Taser and the officer/agency. According to the complaint against Taser filed by the family, the device is designed to administer a 5 second shock with each separate trigger pull. Holding down the trigger and not releasing it causes the shocking to continue. Obviously,the officer did not release the trigger for at least 44 seconds. It is also alleged that the victim was mentally handicapped, unarmed and did not strike or attack the officers. No discipline for tasing this suspect in this situation for 49 seconds with a 5 second tasing follow up? Perhaps additional or corrected facts will emerge in the future, but I have seen no denials of any of the alleged facts. This is getting a little hard to believe. LINK See the family's civil complaint against Taser at LINK

Monday, October 18, 2010

48 Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty in 2009.

Updated data shows that 48 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed and made the ultimate sacrifice in 2009. R.I.P. LINK

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Officer Tasered suspect 9 times, supect dies, officer criminally charged

A Former police officer was charged with manslaughter and malfeasance in office after tasing a subject 9 times. Shouldn't it have become obvious to the officer that he should have tried something different after the first few tasings? A jury could not be seated in the trial and the prosecutor asked for a change of venue. Stay tuned! LINK

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sensible state court opinion on Second Amend.

The first good state court opinion on the Second Amendment since McDonald v. Chicago (2010) made the Second Amendment applicable against the states. Unfortunately, neither the Heller nor McDonald decisions specify a test or standard or review. What's good about this state court opinion is the application of "strict scrutiny" judicial review which puts some real teeth in the right. Note, however, that this is a trial court decision, not an appellate court decision, and thus has no weight as a precedent. But, you've got to start somewhere. Be sure to read the facts. This is not a guy in a bar with a .44 magnum. Go to the link, scroll down, and read the opinion in Wisconsin v. Schultz. LINK

Lawful, licensed peaceful open gun carriers charged with disorderly conduct.

Police and citizen harassment of licensed persons lawfully engaged in open carry and not causing any problems is here. If anyone who dislikes guns calls the police and says they are "concerned" and fear something "horrible" might happen and then the police charge the carriers with disorderly conduct, the constitutional and statutory right to carry means very little. When are folks going to wake up and realize that individual Second Amendment rights are now the supreme law of the land! LINK

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poll shows majority view U.S. government as too powerful

These Gallup poll results are probably not surprising. An increasing number view it as a threat to their rights. This fear has increased slightly since Obama took office. I'm glad to see more people getting concerned about this. Perhaps the Tea Party folks are on to something. LINK

Australian Prisoner Tasered 12 times on one occasion

A prisoner in Australia was tasered 12 (or is it 13?) times on a single occasion. LINK Is Taser use against individuals getting out of hand some places? I wonder what the record is for being tasered on a single occasion. Anyone know? Please provide link if possible. Thanks.

How cities compare on payouts for suits against their police.

Police misconduct can get expensive. LINK

New High-tech tools for Police

In recent years, the technology available to police has mushroomed. This is some of the latest LINK

Monday, October 11, 2010

Good artice on the funeral picketing case (Snyder v. Phelps)

Although the behavior of Phelps and his group is certainly obnoxious and offensive, the First Amendment protects it. Unless it falls within certain specific exceptions, even obnoxious, offensive speech is protected. Phelps' First Amendment activity falls under none of the exceptions. For Phelps to lose, the Court would have to make up a new exception. If it does so, then do we start down the slippery slope? Further, the facts are not as bad as one might expect. Phelps held the protest on public property, completely followed all police directives and laws, and the demonstration was not visible or audible to Snyder and the funeral party. Phelps did not enter the church and they stopped the demonstration before the funeral service started. Under current First Amendment law, Phelps wins and the grieving family loses. That's the price we pay as a society for being a free one. See article at LINK

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Working hard against Citizens United and the First Amendment

Just as pro-lifers worked hard to get around and overrule Roe v. Wade and it’s progeny, others are working to try to get around (and overrule) the U.S. Supreme Court's recent First Amendment decision, Citizens United. LINK I suggest these newest busy bees consider the following: “But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas--that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution.” Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630, 40 S.Ct. 17, 22, 63 L. Ed. 1173 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting) In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are, prominent in church or state, and even to false statement. But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens of a democracy. Cantwell v. State of Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 310, 60 S.Ct. 900, 906, 84 L. Ed. 1213 (1940) This final quote suggests faith in the people to overcome the flaws in the marketplace and reach an enlightened decision. If you don’t trust the average voter, then government intervention to “protect” the public is necessary. I don’t see why we should let government tinker with First Amendment freedoms. It’s like asking the fox to guard the hen house.

NYPD to test new Taser after failed Tasing

Police shot and killed a suspect after he reportedly had been tased but removed one of the prongs and attacked police with a knife. NYPD is now looking at a more powerful and reliable TASER. See the links at the LINK

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Tough First Amendment Case: Protest at Military Funeral

Very tough First Amendment case involving protest at a military funeral. However, IMHO, unless the protesters conduct is a breach of the peace or could incite violence, they are protected. Sometimes this is the kind of price we have to pay for living in a free society. Even the wacko groups get First Amendment protection, and this group is really way out there. LINK

Friday, October 01, 2010

Isn't it time to abolish the Texas State Board of Education?

Their ideologically motivated shenanigans are an embarrassment. The latest flap over Islam in texts is just the latest in a long series of transparent moves. LINK LINK

Obama Admin. a threat to civil liberties

Anyone who thinks that liberal or Democratic Presidents are more respectful of civil liberties than conservatives or Republicans is living in a dream world. The Obama administration increases surveillance, asks for more snooping powers, etc., etc., etc. LINK

Interesting data on armed burglars, victimization, etc.

Lots of interesting info. burglary, armed burglars and violent crime during burglaries. (See esp. p. 10) As usual, the highest rates of victimization are among the poorest segments of the population. These are the folks who need defensive weapons the most and have the highest rates of distrusting the police. Of course, most America's elites have their own private police (security guards,) live in high security buildings or communities, trust the police, and are more likely get quick response to calls to the police. Do you suspect that there might be some class and racial bias against citizen ownership of guns for self-defense? LINK

Police brutality cases on the rise since 9-11.

Of course, filing a lawsuit does not prove there was police brutality, but this is something that deserves professional attention! Have we hired too many minimally or un-qualified people in the rush to protect homeland security? LINK

UT Austin tragedy--Attempted suicide-by-cop?

This tragedy was all over the headlines, so no need for a blogger to comment immediately. This tragedy will obviously stimulate lots of debate over gun control. Unfortunately, for many of the authoritarians in our society, it will not trigger debate over the scope of Second Amendment rights, the lack of an empirical case for gun control, etc. Many will post how they hate guns, etc., etc., etc. and call for more laws, but never get around to mentioning the supreme law of the land, the implausibility of the arguments that more guns = more crime, and that criminals and those with violent intentions will obey gun laws, etc. Obviously, one cannot get a TX concealed carry permit for an AK-47, so whether or not the shooter had a concealed carry permit is not an issue. However, the TX legislature is starting to gear up and it will be an issue that I will be posting on in the future. Finally, FWIW, at this point, it suggest to me that this tragedy may have started out as an attempted suicide-by-cop. It seems the shooter could have shot others if he really wanted to. It does not appear that hurting others was the motive. The fact that he ultimately shot himself suggests that his own death was the ultimate goal. However, why do it in a public place where there is sure to be an armed response by police unless he has the hope the police will shoot him. Perhaps the shooter changed his plan because he feared being taken alive and or just wounded which would defeat his wish to die. We may never know what triggered this tragic incident, but at this point, this seems a plausible theory. For some recent news on this see LINK.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Juarez newspaper surrenders to cartels

LINK. Is it only a matter of time until the whole country surrenders? Many mayors and other public officials already have. Of course, it won't be an explicit surrender from the government. According to Pres. Calderon, if American only had stronger controls on assault weapons this wouldn't have happened.

Fired Sheriff's Officer gets off on Technicality

This result is stupid. It seems to me that the rational remedy would be to give him the required notice and then have a totally new hearing. If this result is required by contract or collective bargaining agreement, those documents should be changed. Where do they find these employees and administrators? LINK

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interesting article on gun self-defense and juries

LINK

Former NOPD Cop get 3 yrs. for Danziger Bridge Coverup

More legal action still coming. LINK

The System fails again.

Unfortunately, the system failed to protect this woman or provide help for the dangerous mentally ill man from whom she needed protection. Anyone who thinks they don't need weapons to protect their lives and homes and can safely rely on the police is living in La-La land. LINK

Unsuprevised tot overdoses on Pot

Unfortunately, a brain functioning at a socially acceptable level is not a prerequisite for reproduction. See second article at the LINK

First Amendment Hypocrisy: Dems & Citizens Unitied Decision

If it isn’t already obvious, it should be by now why The Dems are against the U.S. Supreme Court's First Amendment decision in Citizens United, and voted for the bill which was partly struck down by the Supreme Court. They are for the First Amendment only when they benefit. "I want you to understand right now all over this country special interests are planning and running millions of dollars of attack ads against Democratic candidates," Obama said at a Democratic fundraiser in New York on Wednesday. "Because of last year's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, they are now allowed to spend as much as they want, unlimited amounts of money, and they don't have to reveal who is paying for these ads." Source: LINK IMHO anyone who thinks most American’s politicians have any sincere concern about broad-based First Amendment principles beyond self-interest are terribly na├»ve. Think critically: Who Benefits?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brits arrested for allegedly burning Qurans

In the U.S., this would be protected by the First Amendment. The U.S. has more protections for speech and press than any nation on earth. Many people think the U.S. should be more like Britain and Europe. Sorry, but I personally don't like it when government tries to punish those who are politically incorrect according to the regime's standards. LINK

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Anti-Second Amendment Propaganda

Many on the left are in a continuing propaganda campaign trying to paint those who support the Second Amendment as extremists and domestic terrorists. The most recent example is at the LINK

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Getting Serious about the Justices

Okay, let me get serious for a moment about our Supreme Court Justices. A few serious, but opinionated comments: CJ ROBERTS: A consistently conservative CJ, just like his predecessor Rehnquist. Eminently qualified to be CJ. Although he often has opinion-assigning authority, he doesn’t hog it. At his confirmation hearings he showed great knowledge of the Constitution and was able to charm many of the skeptics. Samuel ALITO: Had trouble coming up with one for him, hence the long reach. In spite of the negative connotation, I was pleased with his nomination and confirmation. He might be one of the few who takes judicial restraint seriously. It’s a big feather in his cap to get authorship of the landmark McDonald opinion. The nickname comes from his tendency to be ruthlessly conservative in his opinions like his namesake was in history as a warrior and ruler. Too much knee-jerk conservatism. On the positive side, without him our Second Amendment rights might still be buried under a liberal smokescreen. Anthony KENNEDY: IMHO, the Justice most likely to be able to rise above ideology to do real judging. I agree with Kennedy more often than any other Justice. As the most frequent swing-vote, one of the most powerful public officials in America. IMHO, he usually gets the big ones right, e.g., Heller, McDonald, Boumediene and the corporate campaign finance case. Probably the closest thing to a real libertarian on the Court. Perhaps a little too conservative when it comes to the rights of suspects and defendant. Antonin SCALIA: The most brilliant, witty, perceptive and overall the best writer and researcher. At one time he was my favorite and I thought he was serious about setting aside ideology. He seems to be have become another knee-jerk conservative. He writes too many nit-picking dissents. However, his brilliance came through in his McDonald concurrence which made mincemeat of Stevens’ dissent. No one on the Court comes close to his intellect, esp. the liberals. Clarence THOMAS: Frequently way out in right-field. Times have changed and precedents have come and gone since the 1800’s. Tends to be a knee-jerk conservative—sometimes an embarrassment. Nickname comes from his tendency to remain totally silent at oral argument. Stephen BREYER: Most transparently aggressive of the left-wing cultural warriors on the Court. Not impressed with his intellect, but am impressed with his creativity. He can find more arguments that have little or no basis in the Constitution, history or precedent to justify his preferred result than any Justice I’ve seen. Over-sized ego. His huckstering of his book is an embarrassment. Ruth Bader GINSBURG: I am impressed with her intellect but not with her knee-jerk liberalism. As for the nickname, check out some of her recent photos. Sonya SOTOMAYOR: Not impressed yet. She will probably turn out to be another knee-jerk liberal. Elena KAGAN: Too early to tell, but given her background and her nominator, she’ll probably turn out to be another knee-jerk liberal. Too much experience in academe, not enough in areas that should count more. Finally, the most recent retiree, STEVENS: another nickname would be John Paul, “Don’t burn that flag” Stevens. Some of his later year opinions were weak. Although not as bad as some of the others, generally a knee-jerk liberal. I’m anxious to hear your opinions on this crew.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Irreverent nicknames for Supreme Court Justices

All right, let’s have a little fun and a few laughs. I know this is irreverent and disrespectful, but I have little respect for any of the Justices. I know the stuffed shirts, and Supreme Court idolaters will not be pleased, but there must be a few people out there with a sense of sarcastic humor. The Justices already have in-court nicknames, but let’s have some fun and make up some new ones. CJ John, “Rehnquist II,” Roberts (or “the Charmer”) Clarence “19th Century” Thomas (or “Big Mouth”) Antonin, “The Originalist,” Scalia (or “the Professor,” “the Scourge” [of oral argument]) Samuel, “Attila,” Alito. Stephen “the Huckster” Breyer Sonya,“Wise Latina,” Sotomayor Elena, “Ivory Tower,” Kagan Ruth Bader, Sourpuss” Ginsburg, and finally, my favorite Justice Anthony “The trapeze artist” Kennedy (or “How much am I bid”) We certainly can’t let Stevens get by even though he has retired: John Paul “way past retirement” Stevens.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guns don't cause violent crime.

The number of firearms and handguns in U.S. society goes up every year. However, the rates of all kinds of violent crime have been declining for years. When are the simple-mind gun banners going to face the facts? LINK

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Danziger Bridge cops will not face death penalty

The 3 current and 1 former NOPD officer(s) charged with the murder of 2 persons during the notorious Danziger Bridge incident will NOT face the death penalty. LINK

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Burning Qurans--protected by the First Amend,, but not real bright.

Although protected by the First Amendment, this is not the way to protest terrorism committed by Islamic extremists. It shows a lack of sophisticated understanding of the issues, and may only fan the flames of terrorism. Religious bigotry and book-burning are an embarrassment in a free and educated society. LINK

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

More unrest in L.A. over police shooting

Let's hope this problem doesn't get any bigger! LINK

More evidence of the importance of ideology on the Supreme Court

IMHO it is naive to believe that most of the people on the Supreme Court are trying to be impartial judges. Most, IMHO, are ideologues. More evidence re this on selection of law clerks. LINK

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What authority does the U.S. have to Kill U.S. Citizens Overseas?

My own conclusion is that it has a lot of, but not unlimited, authority if the person is outside the usual legal jurisdiction of the U.S and has committed criminal acts against the U.S. or U.S. citizens. This suit may help answer that question. LINK

Monday, August 30, 2010

Two officers fatally shot in Alaska

Small town loses half its full-time force. LINK

Something different: Verse 1 of the Serenity Prayer

Occasionally I hope to be able to pass on some words of fundamental wisdom. Verse One of The Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. --Reinhold Niebuhr SOURCE: Wikipedia at http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/special/serenity.html

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Orleans Police Authorized to Shoot Looters?

As part of the investigation of the Danziger Bridge incident, investigators have found evidence that New Orleans Police were authorized to shoot looters. Such orders would be contrary to the Fourth Amendment. LINK

Newest 2nd Amend. decision.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment applies against the states (McDonald v. Chicago, 2010), we can expect a number of challenges to state laws. This is an exaMple one that is, thus far, unsuccessful. LINK This ruling is not surprising as the Supreme Court has hinted in D.C. v. Heller (2008) that this type of gun ban would be constitutional.

Stray rounds from Juarez hit El Paso

More good news from the southern border. LINK

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

High costs of extradition frustrating law enforcement.

Extradition with the U.S. was pretty much taken for granted for significant offenses. That may no longer be the case. I hate to see state and local officials begging for federal money. Apparently, federalism is a principle which can be sacrificed if the price is right. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. LINK

Principles, results, dilemmas and the NYC Islamic Center

The current controversy over the Islamic Center in New York near 9-11 ground zero is a controversial topic. It highlights the tension between principles and results. I hope this brief discussion will help focus the issues. The U.S. Constitution is full of principles, federalism, freedom of religion, due process, equal protection etc. Because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, these principles are paramount for public officials who take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution.” While the exact scope of these principles is subject to debate, there are some things about which there is little debate. For instance, under the First Amendment, government cannot discriminate for or against any particular religion as long as their pursuits are lawful. There is also a federal statute, a religious land-use act, which prevents religious discrimination by government with regard to the use of land. Individuals also have principles. These are often religious or philosophical principles. If you are not a public official, you are not bound by the Constitution, except for a few provisions (e.g. 13th Amendment ban on slavery). However, once you become a public official, the Constitution binds you in your official acts. In your purely individual capacity, you do not have to comply with anything in the Bill of Rights. However, many people conclude that constitutional values are also good personal values. For instance, many libertarians support freedom of speech and religion as personal values. The problem for both public officials and individuals occurs when the results of applying a relatively clear principle they publicly support leads to results that they do not like. We are not talking about catastrophic results, huge costs or anything like that. We are talking about results that one thinks are wrong, disrespectful or unpleasant, distasteful, in bad taste, etc. This tension between principles and results creates a dilemma. Some conceptualize this as an ethical dilemma. There are three usual reactions to the dilemma. (1) Bite the bullet, accept the primacy of the principle in spite of the results, and suffer the consequences (e.g. getting voted out of office, social isolations, etc.) (2) Ignore the principle and (a) publicly abandon the principle permanently or (b) ignore it in this case but continue to give it verbal support. (2) (B) could be considered hypocrisy. The third option is to devise a phony rationale for avoiding the principle in this particular case. This may protect against charges of hypocrisy. This is a favorite tactic of Supreme Court Justices. Everyone wants their favorite rights for themselves and those they support. Other rights and other people are devalued. For example, the Second Amendment is a right devalued by many on the left. Islam is a religion devalued by many people who want First Amendment protection for their faith and similar ones but not for unpopular religions. However, the main purposes of First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech and press are to protect unpopular views and religions. The fundamental question is what is more important to you? (1) Principles or (2) results Again, we are not talking about catastrophic or financially costly results. First Amendment caselaw is full of cases where classless, tasteless, offensive, racist and sexist speech was deemed protected. For instance, assume some person is handing out pamphlets on a public street lawfully and peacefully urging people to vote for the Communist party. Most everyone ignores him and looks at him like he is some kind of wacko. Some people may be distasteful and offensive, but it is protected by the First Amendment. As a police officer or public official you have to let the person continue until there is a threat of some kind. As a private citizen you can urge him to quit, but you cannot threaten him with physical harm. That would be a crime. If you care about intellectual issues, think about this. What are your principles? How strongly and sincerely do you believe in those principles? One of my all-time favorite quotes, attributed to German pastor Martin Niemoller is as follows LINK: "THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Ideology & Criminal Justice/Criminology

One of the generally taboo topics in the social sciences, including criminology and criminal justice is the impact of ideology on the field, research, textbooks, etc. The journal "Quarterly Journal of Ideology" LINK is a hidden gem that touches on topics that the main journals will, for a variety of reasons, will not touch. This linked article, IMHO, hits the nail on the head. It is titled "Ideology: Criminology's Achilles Heel." The Introduction is dynamite, although the research study suffers from a small non-random sample. LINK

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts on the Blago trial.

The jury verdicts were surprising. Most of us thought there would be convictions on most counts. See the analysis at the LINK

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another First Amendment Victory for Students

It never ceases to amaze me how little freedom of speech and press are valued in higher education. LINK

Demagoguery Re the Islamic center near 9-11 site.

Many Republican candidates and current officials and some Democrats are speaking out against a proposed Islamic Center near the 9-11 site. This is sheer, unacceptable demagoguery. Only a tiny fraction of a fraction of Muslims are terrorists. There is no need to tar an entire religion. This is unacceptable in a society that supposedly values religious freedom. I guess, religious freedom is only for some religions. What hypocrisy! A sad commentary on how important First Amendment values are to many of our politicians. LINK

Mexican blog on the drug war

If you read Spanish, check out this blog on the Mexican drug written by an anonymous 20-something Mexican. It has been covered on CNN and the AP. LINK

Monday, August 16, 2010

The best state judges money can buy?

Campaign funding for state top appellate judges doubles in last decade. LINK

Taser Int'l settles suit for $2.85 million

For the first time ever, the primary manufacturer of the Taser has settled a lawsuit filed by a Plaintiff who was Tased by police. The company has never lost a lawsuit, but this settlement suggests the tide may be turning. Could this be the beginning of the end for the current generation of Tasers? LINK

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Taser suit settled for $9,000--Good or bad decision?

Should weak cases like this one be settled for less-than-litigation costs or fought? If the officer did no wrong, why should it be settled? Doesn't this practice encourage frivolous lawsuits? LINK Be sure to scroll down to update.

Chicago pays $500,000 to family of man killed by police taser

It might be a lot cheaper for police agencies to properly train, supervise and discipline officers with Tasers than continue to pay out huge damage awards. LINK

Don't confuse me with the facts--My mind is made up

Ever wonder why we are so polarized and so many folks are so close-minded? This informative newspaper piece provides an explanation. After reading this, it's easy to become pessimistic about the electorate and democracy. LINK I think what we need is a long period of widespread prosperity with no wars and everyone just chilling out a little.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Small town politics cost County big bucks

One of the most bizarre episodes in West Texas legal history came to an end. The prosecution of this nurse was a travesty and embarrassment. Where do these locals find these public officials? For a small and relatively poor county like Winkler, that money could have been put to better use. LINK

McNuggets rage costs woman 60 days in jail

Perhaps McNuggets need to be classified as a controlled substance. LINK

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

4 Cops charged in Danziger Bridge killings could face death penalty

The 4 officers directly involved in the Danziger Bridge killing of two allegedly unarmed civilians face possible death sentences if convicted. The Dept of Justice has still not officially decided yet if they will seek the death penalty in these cases. Good video. LINK

Saturday, August 07, 2010

College Student Study Time Declining

This item is not about C, L, or J, but as a professional educator, I am always interested in what is going on in higher ed. in the U.S. If you are a parent, student, taxpayer or employer, you might find the linked report disturbing. Is this more evidence that education in the U.S. is being dumbed down? LINK Thanks to Paul Wright of SRSU for calling this report to my attention.

Friday, August 06, 2010

5th Circuit opinion on Length of Traffic Stops

U.S. v. Pack (2010) is an important 5th Circuit (La., Miss. & Tex) decision on length of traffic stops. It is consistent with Supreme Court precedent, but seems to make the points more clearly. LINK The latest edition of FLETC’s “The Informer” summarizes the main points as follows: “U.S. v. Pack, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 14562, July 15, 2010 A detention during a valid traffic stop does not violate the Fourth Amendment where it exceeds the amount of time needed to investigate the traffic infraction that initially caused the stop as long as: 1. The facts that emerge during the officer’s investigation of the original offense create reasonable suspicion that additional criminal activity warranting additional present investigation is afoot, 2. The length of the entire detention is reasonable in light of the suspicious facts, and 3. The scope of the additional investigation is reasonable in light of the suspicious facts. In this case, following a valid traffic stop for speeding, reasonable suspicion arose after the driver and passenger gave conflicting stories as to their travel history, the passenger appeared to be extremely nervous, and the pair was travelling on a drug trafficking corridor. The court held that the officer’s suspicion was entitled to significant weight because he had been a law enforcement officer for seventeen years, the length of the entire detention was reasonable in light of the suspicious acts observed, and the scope of the investigation conducted during the detention was reasonable. (The officer requested a canine unit, which responded, and the dog alerted to the trunk of the vehicle. A search of the trunk revealed 17.91 pounds of marijuana and a pistol).” Source: Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Legal Division) "The Informer" August 2010 See the post below on how to subscribe to "The Informer."

FLETC Legal Newsletter

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) has an excellent e-mail legal update publication called "The Informer." It's a great tool for trying to keep up with all the changes in the law. It's free. Subscribe at the LINK

Kagan Konfirmed

As everyone knows and expected, Elena Kagan was confirmed by the Senate to be a Justice on the Supreme Court. Also as expected, the vote was pretty much along party lines. Because she replaces another liberal (Stevens) she is not expected to alter the Court’s prior ideological balance of 4 liberals, 4 conservatives and a swing voter (Kennedy). LINK The polarization of American society will continue to be fueled by and reflected on the Court. For the first time in history, the Court will have 3 women—all liberals. She is the first nominee in almost forty years to come to the nation’s highest bench without judicial experience. While there have been outstanding justices who had no judicial experience (e.g. C.J. Earl Warren), her lack of judicial experience is a concern. (1) There was no judicial opinion paper trail to follow to determine the nominee’s judicial philosophy. Confirmation hearings have become a joke as nominees dodge all the important questions. (2) A Justice with prior judicial experience is, one would think, more likely to approach issues from a judicial stance rather than a policy-making, ideological or academic stance. (I am assuming that most of us want Justices to take a judicial approach). The sad fact of the matter is that Presidents of both parties have been more interested in trying to nominate their ideological clones than finding wise judges. Roberts and Alito have certainly generally satisfied Bush, and there is little doubt that Sotomayor and Kagan will, in general, become Obama clones. One might even expect that because of the similarities in their backgrounds, Kagan, at least initially will become a Sotomayor clone. Quite frankly, IMHO, both of them are minor intellectual legal lights as compared to Ginsburg, who had a long history of involvement in constitutional litigation and a number of appearances as counsel before the Supreme Court.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Violating Prof's Academic Freedom Costs College $100,00

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant academic administrators can be about First Amendment academic freedom. LINK

Presiding Judge of TX Ct. Criminal Appeals appeals official rebuke

Many thought the rebuke for her actions in a capital punishment case was a slap on the wrist. Apparently the Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals thought it was too much punishment. LINK

New FBI report on the SW U.S. border

As Charlie Chan would say "Velly intelesting!" LINK

Videotaping the police in a public place a crime?

I hope this doesn't become a trend. LINK

Mexican Drug War a long way from over.

Anyone who thinks Mexico is even close to winning the Drug War is probably seriously mistaken. LINK The recent killing of a cartel leader is a good sign but of little real importance. His position will undoubtedly be filled, perhaps after more massive bloodletting. IMHO, Mexico is a basket case.

Court strikes down ban on gay marriage.

A U.S. District Court in CA struck down CA's ban on gay marriages on both equal protection and due process grounds. An appeal seems likely. LINK However, it is not hard to see where all this will eventually end up. Justice O'Connor, concurring in Lawrence v. Texas provided the basic outline and arguments. I predict, before 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule that equal protection requires that marriage be made equally available to both gays and straights. This result follows from two prior Court opinions, Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas. It only takes 4 Justices to grant an appeal (certiorari) and there are 4 liberals on the Court (Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Breyer and soon-to-be confirmed Kagan). Kennedy, who authored both Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans will vote to require that marriage be made equally available to both gays and straights.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

PBS documentary on the Danziger Bridge Case.

On Aug. 25, PBS will air a documentary on the Danziger Bridge case. LINK

Troubling Death Penalty Case

Troubling death penalty case. Did Webster's early lawyers mess up bigtime? LINK

Article on Roberts Court and its shift to the Right

LINK

Supreme Court waters down Miranda protections

The most recent Supreme Court term was unusual in that there were 3 opinions on Miranda rights. In all 3 the Court seemed to weaken the protections of Miranda. Even some of the liberals joined in the blood-letting. link

Back in Business & Thank yous!

Well, I'm back and ready to get fired up again. Thanks to Bull Morehouse and Montana for their comments. Thanks to the "joiners." Lots happened while I was away, but I'm not going to spend much time on old news.

Monday, July 19, 2010

On Vacation for 2 weeks

Even blustering, blithering, bloggers need vacations. I'm signing off for about two weeks. Thanks for putting up with me, participaitng and contributing. Keep up the good work! Take care! Prof. Ray Kessler

More on the Danziger Bridge incident in New Orleans

One of the most egregious examples of police misconduct in recent years continues to play out aganst New Orleans PD. The latest at LINK

ACLU finally coming around on 2nd Amend.?

One of the most egregious acts of public hypocrisy by a national organization supposedly dedicated to civil rights has been the ACLU's failure to support the individual rights approach to the Second Amendment. For many years they supported a collective rights approach which was rejected by the Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller. Perhaps the ACLU is eventually going to become a TRUE civil liberties organization some day. LINK

Judge strikes down federal Defense of Marriage Act

A District Court judge struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Many conservatives sacrificed federalism (which they claim to value) to pass this law to try to protect the traditional heterosexual definition of marriage. IMHO the DOMA was beyond the powers granted to the federal government and these matters were reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment. LINK Where is it all going to end? There's a good chance it will end with the Supreme Court holding that Equal Protection requires that legal marriage be made equally available to both gays and straights. For a start, see Justice O'Connor's concurring opinion in Lawrence v. Texas. Although O'Connor says her opinion has nothing to do with gay marriage, her logic clearly does. LINK

BART police to get more oversight after suspect killed by officer.

In response the the recent killing of Oscar Grant by BART Officer Johannes Mehserle, the state of California took new steps to increase civilian oversight over BART police. LINK

Oakland/ BART police killing Part Deux?

Just when you hoped things might quiet down in Oakland, another tragic incident involving BART officers. LINK

Murderous Mexican Madness Marches On

18 murdered at Mexican party. In addition to the current chaos, what will Mexico be like when the next generation, who grew up in the midst of a bloody narco-war where many seem to place little value on human life, takes over. LINK

Friday, July 16, 2010

Good summary of last Supreme Court term's decisions

For a short and readable summary of the Supreme Court's decisions from the just-ended term, see the ACLU's. LINK Although the ACLU leans heavily to the left, their summary is almost always fairly bias free.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The BART shooting tragedy: drawing the handgun rather than the Taser

Article by an officer involved in the criminal case of BART officer Johannes Mehserle. He lists a surprisingly large number of other cases where the officer made the same claim. LINK Mehserle faces a sentence anywhere from probation to 14 years in prison for his involuntary manslaughter conviction in this case.

New DNA technique, familial matching, nabs accused serial killer

A relatively new DNA matching technique, "familial DNA," helped catch an accused serial killer. If this technique proves valid and reliable, it could result in even more of the guilty being punished and more of the innocent being cleared. LINK

California to Legalize Marjuana?

Legalizing marijuana is a hot topic in California. It's on an upcoming voter inititiative and has been called a "civil rights issue" by the CA NAACP. LINK Just in time, there is a new Rand Corp. study on legalizing marijuana in CA. Unfortunately, as the report notes, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about the effects of legalizaiiton. LINK Finally, even if legalizied in CA, federal law which bans pot, generally prevails over state laws. A few years ago, the Supreme Court found that federal law too precedence over CA's medical marijuana law. LINK

Friday, July 09, 2010

Provocative Article on Race and Gun Control

Strong stuff, but there is some truth in there! LINK

Riots Follow Mehserle Verdict in BART killing

Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a Black teen. Mehserle claimed he thought he had drawn his Taser and fired it instead of his handgun. Mehserle was initially charged with first-degree murder, but the judge threw out that charge because of insufficient evidence of "premeditation." The jury passed on the more serious charge of second-degree murder. Demonstrations were reported in many cities, but rioting was reported thus far only in Oakland. Many think the verdict was a "compromise." Mehserle faces 2-4 years in prison for the offense, but the jury found an enhancement for a "gun crime" which increases the possible imprisonment from 5-14 years. LINK

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Feds sue Arizona over state immigration enforcement law

The Obama administration has sued the state of Arizona over the state's new law regarding questioning suspects in lawful contact with police (e.g. Terry stop) about possible illegal immigration. As is usual with culture wars issues, emotion trumps reason and facts, and there is lots of heat being generated--but little light. The law is, at least in part, an emotional reaction to frustration caused the inability or unwillingness of the feds to control illegal immigration. Laws based on emotional reactions are often, but not always, unwise. The way I, and others interpret the law, is that there must already be a lawful reason for the officer- citizen contact before the inquiry about citizenship is made. The inquiry about citizenship can then only be made on reasonable suspicion. The way I read existing 4th Amendment and Equal Protection law, ethnicity alone can never justify police intervention. The law does not authorize anything that some state officers in AZ and elsewhere have been doing lawfully for years. The Fourth Amendment and Equal Protection clause and numerous anti-discrimination and anti-profiling laws are available, at least on paper, to prevent abuses. Is it a good policy? Will there be widespread abuse? Who knows! Given that the law has yet to be enforced and that this is an on-its-face challenge based on supremacy clause arguments (which seem dubious in this case since the law assists the feds) it appears to me to be more grandstanding by the Obama administration. See the text of the law at the first link and commentary thereon at the second link LINK LINK

Great editorial on the McDonald Dissenters.

I don't always agree with conservative columnist Jacob Sullum, but he hit the the nail on the head with this critique of the dissenters in the Second Amendment incorporation (McDonald) case. Constitutional law makes strange bedfellows. It's usually the conservatives who make these arguments in civil rights cases. However, when ideologue liberals don't like the results in a civil rights case, they pull the arguments they have long dismissed out of their result-oriented tools bag. The same tool bag used by the conservative ideologues on the Court. LINK

Monday, July 05, 2010

Study on Career-Ending Misconduct of Police in NYC

There are lots of interesting and provocative reports of research funded by the U.S. Government that never get any publicity. The U.S. Dept. of Justice Funded this study entitled "Bad Cops: A Study of Career Ending Misconduct Among New York City Police Officers." Relative to the bad publicity, there are surprisingly few NYPD officers whose careers are ended because of brutality and abuse. The authors suggest that NYPD effectively controls and disciplines its officers and thus the low rate of dismissals. Others might disagree. One of the authors is James J. Fyfe--a well-respected criminal justice authority on the police. LINK

Friday, July 02, 2010

New Study on less than lethal weapons, esp. Taser

The Weapons and Equipment Research Institute of Florida Gulf Coast University is the author of "Less Lethal Weapon Effectiveness, Use of Force, and Suspect and Officer Injuries: A Five-Year Analysis."(Report to NIJ, 2008). The report is generally positive about Tasers. LINK

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sotomayor speaks with forked tongue?

Now-Justice Sotomayor told the world at her confirmation hearings that she supported the individual rights approach to the Second Amendment. However, the opinion she joined in McDonald seems to say otherwise. Why is it so hard to find people with real integrity for public office? If we can't get it with judges, where can we get it? LINK

Great short comment on McD. v. Chicago

Law Professor Robert Cottrol hits the nail on the head. Great, short read! SCOTUSblog 6/30/10. Scroll down to bottom. Among the ironies are the refusal of the liberals on the Court to continue their previously unwavering desire to incorporate constitutional rights. No other incorporated right has been subjected to such "ifs, ands, or buts" by dissenters. Ironically, in this case liberal dissenters. This decision is a monument to hypocrisy by the liberals. LINK

Censorship of student speech about guns on campus (FIRE)

FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) is an important group advocating First Amendment protections for students, faculty, and staff on college campuses. You should at least sign up for their e-mail alerts. They have just released a short video on widespread campus censorship of protected student speech about guns. An example is the opposition "empty holster" protesters have faced. LINK

Campus gun bans probably still safe after McDonald?

Many college campuses ban handgun possession by civilians, even those with concealed-carry licenses. Personally, I think these bans for licensees are bad policy, but I'm not sure about their constitutionality. These experts think these bans will survive Second Amendment challenges. LINK

Don't waste your time on the Kagan confirmation hearing.

Unless she carelessly drops a smoking gun, she's in. I concur with liberal columnist Susan Estrich that it's a charade. Skeptical Senators are reduced to finding 20 year old memos written by the nominee. Estrich writes:

“Watching the confirmation hearings, unless you're a masochist or a satirist, is a waste of time. You learn nothing except how silly the process has become. Ever since Robert Bork -- who was highly qualified but also arrogant and divisive -- went down in flames at his hearing, every successive nominee has understood that the game is to say as little as possible, disown prior controversies, eschew any hint of ideology and simply endure. Five days of misery are certainly worth a lifetime appointment.” LINK

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Two Tampa Bay Officers Killed in Shootout

Two Tampa Bay officers killed in shootout. We must never forget that the violence flows both ways out there in the real world. LINK

Fort Worth offers $2 million to settle Taser death case

The City of Fort Worth, Texas has offered $2 million to settle a case brought by the family of a man who died after being Tased by a female Forth Worth police officer. The officer held back the trigger on the Taser for 49 seconds. She claimed she didn't know the device would continue to discharge electricity until she released the trigger. According to one source, the officer has not been disciplined. LINK. Link with news VIDEO

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Good Guys Win Again--2nd Amend applies against states

In case you haven't heard, the U.S. Supreme Court held today that the Second Amendment applies against the states. Libertarians are celebrating, liberals are seething. However there are a couple worrisome points. First, although 5 Justices voted to incorporate the Amendment against the states via the 14th Amendment, 4 used the due process clause and 1 (Thomas) use the Privileges or immunities clause. This makes this case a more vulnerable precedent than if all 5 had agreed on one rationale. As usual, Kennedy, probably the only one on the Court who can rise above ideology, was the swing vote. As expected, the 4 knee-jerk liberals voted against incorporation. This is probably the first time in history that liberals voted against incorporating a provision in the Bill of Rights. It shows, IMHO, rank hypocrisy among those who claim to be champions of a free society. Sotomayor is falling into line as a liberal flunky. I am very disappointed--I thought she would be more intellectually independent. Obama got what he wanted. Your Second Amendment rights hang by the thin reed of a one-vote switcheroo somewhere down the line. If you want to provide more security for our Second Amendment rights, you better start getting politically involved and make sure the Republicans come up with a quality candidate who will appoint Justices who support a truly free society.

See the slip opinion at LINK