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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Orleans tries to reform its Police Department

Apparently the police shooting and killing of two unarmed civilians at the Danziger bridge during the Hurrucane Katrina aftermath was the last straw. Let's hope this works. Reform efforts in many cities have failed. LINK For more on the shooting,the police coverup, and an officer's guilty plea see LINK

Friday, June 25, 2010

The BART shooting video

There's a video of the shooting incident in the Mehserle case at the link. Unfortunately, the video doesn't help much. LINK

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BART murder trial: Officer received training on the problem shortly before the killing

The officer (Johaness Mehserle, who is on trial for murder) in the BART killing of an unarmed arrestee, claimed he mistakenly drew his handgun rather than his Taser. However, he received training on this problem shortly before the shooting. LINK

Police Friendly-Fire Deaths

Fortunately, one type of police officer death that is relatively infrequent is an accidental shooting of one officer by another. Since 1981, according to the report below, there have been only 26 such deaths.. The report below is, to my knowledge, the first and only attempt to deal with this topic in a fairly comprehensive fashion. With proper policies and training, most of these incidents should be preventable. Does the police agency in your jurisdiction have such policies and training?

New York State Task Froce on Police-on-Police Shooting, “Reducing Inherent Danger: Report of the Task Force on Police-on-Police Shootings,” 2010. LINK

Houston PD fires 7 officers for excessive force

It is rare to see this many officers fired at one time by any PD. Four were indicted on misdemeanor charges. LINK

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More repeal the 2nd Amend propaganda.

This blog has a good debate over repealing the Second Amendment. The blogger is another ideologue who is obviously more interested in propagandizing than informing. I agree with the first two commenters. WaddaUtink? LINK

More PC craziness--voters can cast up to 6 votes for one candidate!

Federal judge gives voters the option to vote for the same candidate six times. I thought it was supposed to be one person, one vote? Is this a great country or what? LINK

Crime fighting gets even more high-tech: gunshot sensors and smart cameras

I guess this is the future. I just sometimes feel a little uncomfortable with Big Brother having all this capability. LINK

Right-wing nonsense on the Second Amendment

Time to go after some of the wackos on the right. Looks like Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle never read the leading opinion on the Second Amendment--D.C. v. Heller. It did not interpret the 2nd Amend to give a legal right to insurrection or revolution or a legal right to keep and bear arms for such purposes. The Second Amendment is not absolute. According to Heller, it protects only weapons in common use and for legal purposes. Insurrection is not legal. Looks like she never checked the Constitution to see what was in there or wasn't. Angle is just another sad example of how candidates seem to prefer to lead from the fringes, rather than the political middle. Can't the Republicans find better candidates? LINK

Common sense and the instruments of crime.

Common sense and the instruments of crime. This article states the obvious to anyone with an open mind. It's amazing how ideological blinders prevent people from rational comprehension. My thanks to Paul Wright for this link. LINK

Friday, June 18, 2010

Recent U.S. S.Ct. Decision

Berghuis v. Thompkins, No. 08-1470, Decided June 1, 2010. Thompkins was in custody under arrest. The police told Thompkins that he had a Miranda right to remain silent. He remained silent and did not say anything. He did not request an attorney. The police continued to ask questions, but Thompkins said nothing. After 3 hours of interrogation and silence he made an incriminating statement. The Supreme Court held that there was no Miranda violation. The suspect must specifically say something that indicates an assertion of Miranda rights. By talking, Thompkins waived his Miranda rights. This is a bad decision which further erodes the protections of Miranda. The police are in control of the situation and (hopefully) know the law. They told him he could remain silent. How can one assert a right and still remain silent? Because the police are in control of the situation and know the law, the silence should have been interpreted as an assertion of the right to remain silent, and the police should have left. The police should not be able to exploit ambiguous situations. I agree with the dissenting liberals on this one. I was disappointed that Kennedy voted with the knee-jerk conservatives on this one. LINK

Two-thirds of American's can't name even one S. Ct. Justice.

Is this a great country or what? LINK

Recent Supreme Court decision--Quon case

Now that the Supreme Court's term is drawing to a close, I'll be posting on some of the more important decisions for CL&J. The first case to be discussed is CITY OF ONTARIO, CALIFORNIA, ET AL., v. QUON ET AL., No. 08-1332, Decided June 17, 2010. The Court held that there was no Fourth Amendment violation when the police department "searched" the officer’s agency-provided alpha-numeric pager (which could send text messages) without a warrant. Although I think the individual should get the benefit of the doubt in close cases when challenging government action violative of constitutional rights, this case wasn’t even close. The Court unanimously overturned the 9th Circuit (California, Idaho, etc.) which found for the officer. The 9th Circuit is probably the most frequently over-ruled Circuit. Although sometimes they get it right, there are too many left-wing ideologues on that Circuit Court of Appeals who appear to be unwilling to read and apply Supreme Court precedent. LINK

Utah murderer executed by firing squad

The U.S. Supreme Court and other courts refused to stay the execution by firing squad, and now it's over. Many Europeans are screaming in outrage. The linked article provides an eye-witness account of the execution LINK (I am not a big fan of the death penalty. IMHO the range of offenses and offenders eligible needs to be limited to the unusually culpable. Changes must be made to insure better attorneys for defendants. More safeguards are necessary to see that innocent persons are not executed. Although there are lots of problems in the system, I'm not quite ready to become an abolitionist.)

Toy Soldiers Violate School's Weapons Ban

The anti-gun wackos are at it again. Where do these school districts find these people? (In the interest of balance, I promise to go after some right-wing kooks in a later post) LINK

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Local Prof. makes the local paper on 2nd Amend case

Article on Sul Ross State University Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Ray Kessler in Alpine Avalanche LINK

Firing Squad Execution

Utah inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner is scheduled to be executed by firing squad-- the method he chose. Is it more humane than lethal injection? This is a case which causes left-wing ideologues to go apoplectic. It combines two things these self-righteous folks hate--guns and the death penalty. Lots of moaning and groaning and gnashing of teeth. Lots of talk about the "wild west" and guns causing more death, ad nauseum, ad nauseum, ad nauseum. LINK

Death of Mexican teen heightens tension on border

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse on the border! Latest news on the situation. Rumors are that Mexico will ask that the agent be tried IN MEXICO. If they do, it will be a sticky situation. Link

O.J. Appeal at Nev. Supreme Court

I am not a fan of O.J., but even our most notorious citizens deserve a fair trial. There are significant problems with his Nev. trial. Maybe not enough to get a new trial. Don't look for the Nev. Supreme Court to find in favor of O.J. Link Here

Stevens--the greatest Justice? LOL

Justice Stevens is the "greatest Justice"—so writes one former clerk (see link at bottom) Now that Stevens has announced his retirement, praise will be flowing further from former clerks, friends, patronage recipients, many on the left, and various sycophants. The most over-the-top praise is in the link. The author excluded CJ’s so as to avoid the obvious error of ranking Stevens above Marshall and Warren. But, Stevens has some black marks which make him unworthy of such adolescent adulation. His greatest and most unforgivable sin was voting against the First Amendment in the flag-burning case (Eichman). Stevens lets his personal patriotism trump fundamental First Amendment principles. A case in which my candidate for the non CJ award, (at least for the 20th Century) Brennan, voted in favor First Amendment principles. Although he has supported 4th Amend. values (e.g. Richards v. Wisc.,1997; Groh v. Ramirez, 2004) ) and the exclusionary rule, Stevens has too often. IMHO, voted in favor of the government in 4th Amendment cases, (e.g., U.S. v. Ross, 1982; Md. v. Garrison, 1987; Ill v. Caballes, 2005) He’s obviously not as destructive to those values as Scalia, but his support has not been as consistent as was Brennans. His dissent in U.S. v. Lopez was one of the most unprofessional I’ve seen. His dissent in Heller was sloppily researched and written. Stevens greater than Brennan? Than Brandeis? Than Holmes? Than John Marshall Harlan? Than Joseph Story? I could go on, but you get the picture. They all have their warts, but Stevens “greater?” In your dreams. Gimme a break! Although not as bad as some on the Court, Stevens was, too often, a knee-jerk liberal. Fortunately, he was countered by knee-jerk conservatives.

Police Pursuit of Dirt Bike Rider Ends Tragically

Police Pursuit of Dirt Bike Rider Ends Tragically. I teach an academic course on roadblocks and pursuits. Although all the facts are not out yet, IMHO agencies should have policies to minimize these types of situations. Pursuits, just like shootings, can severely damage police-community relations. Thanks to Michael Weininger for the link. Link

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big Decision soon from U.S. Supreme Court

The landmark decision on whether the Second Amendment applies to the states (McDonald v. Chicago) could be released any day now. The blockbusters are almost always released late in the term which usually ends around the middle or end of June. Like many I expect a 5-4 decision for McD., and a greater victory for libertarianism, the rule of law, and constitutionalism The conservatives, Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Thomas along with the swing vote, Kennedy for McD. Majority opinion to be written by Scalia or Kennedy. The 4 liberals, Soto, Stevens, Ginsburg and Breyer for Chicago. Dissent written by Stevens or Breyer.

For some background see