Saturday, October 31, 2015

Gun Control Expert on Licensed campus carry

Interview of Prof. Gary Kleck.

Food for thought on police-minority interactions

James Ragland is one of my favorite columnists at the Dallas Morning News.  This piece, "Turning a petty incident to battle cry hurts us all,"  is on reaction to white officer interaction with black citizens,  and provides good perspective.  Yes, there are lots of victims, and blacks are disproportionately the victims of unlawful police force, but  too many people who don't deserve the tag, want to wrap themselves in the cloak of "victimization."  This sad tendency affects people of all classes and colors.
 Have a dysfunctional presumption of guilt about officers and creeping "paranoia' distorted things too much? Ragland makes some great points.  Unlawful, excessive force by police is a huge and crucial problem, but we need to keep focus and fairness in mind too.

Demographics, crime, punishment and heroin--the changing war on drugs

According to the NYT and other sources:
"When the nation’s long-running war against drugs was defined by the crack epidemic and based in poor, predominantly black urban areas, the public response was defined by zero tolerance and stiff prison sentences. But today’s heroin crisis is different. While heroin use has climbed among all demographic groups, it has skyrocketed among whites; nearly 90 percent of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white."  Now that more affluent and influential people are being affected,  the tune has changed.

"And the growing army of families of those lost to heroin — many of them in the suburbs and small towns — are now using their influence, anger and grief to cushion the country’s approach to drugs, from altering the language around addiction to prodding government to treat it not as a crime, but as a disease."
“Because the demographic of people affected are more white, more middle class, these are parents who are empowered,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, better known as the nation’s drug czar. “They know how to call a legislator, they know how to get angry with their insurance company, they know how to advocate. They have been so instrumental in changing the conversation.”
One of the sad things about many people is that they don't care about issues that have great consequences for others until they themselves are affected.  When those effected have few resources, change is unlikely.  When those affected have greater resources, change starts.  Although the problem may have racial, ethnic and religious roots, resources is the difference.  We all know that resources are not equally distributed across racial, ethnic and religious groups.  I'm not calling for the elimination of economic inequality, just a greater concern for others who are less affluent.  Reducing long sentences for non-violent, small-quantity offenders is a step in the right direction, but we need to keep looking at these issues.

If like me, you sometimes have difficulty with "affected" vs. "effected." see this site.

Criminal Justice Reform through litigation

The issue that is missed by the NYT in the article below is making sure that public officials respect constitutional rights such as the Fourth Amendment, due process and equal protection. 
According to the NYT:

"  In January, Christy Dawn Varden was arrested in a Walmart parking lot, charged with shoplifting and three other misdemeanors, and taken to jail. There, she was told that if she had $2,000, she could post bail and leave. If she did not, she would wait a week before seeing a judge. Ms. Varden, who lived with her mother and two children, had serious mental and physical health problems; her only income was her monthly food stamp allotment.

The response was quick: Clanton, while defending its policies, told the court that defendants would be able to see a judge within 48 hours. Within a couple of months, the city agreed to release most misdemeanor defendants immediately, without their posting bail.

Since then, Mr. Karakatsanis has sued six additional jurisdictions in four different states, representing single mothers, homeless men and people with mental disabilities, all who would have been free but for some ready cash. His novel legal strategy has proved effective: So far five of the cities have changed their policies. The suits, which are now being replicated around the country, have won support from the federal Justice Department and rulings that endorse his assertion that the money bail system is unfair to the poor.

Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case on race and jury selection

Three of the most interesting cases to be heard by the U.S. Sureme Court in Nov. are outlined here.  The most interesting and one with potential for major changes in the law involves prosecution and race in jury selection.  "
"1. Foster v. Chatman (November 2)
When picking a jury, both sides have peremptory challenges that can strike a juror without needing to give a reason for the challenge, but the challenges can't be based on race. In this case, Georgia prosecutors struck all four black prospective jurors for a black defendant's murder trial and provided race-neutral explanations.
As it turns out, notes reveal "the prosecution (1) marked the name of each black prospective juror in green highlighter on four different copies of the jury list; (2) circled the word "BLACK'' next to the "Race" question on the juror questionnaires of five black prospective jurors; (3) identified three black prospective jurors as "B#1," "B#2," and "B#3"; (4) ranked the black prospective jurors against each other in case "it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors;" and (5) created strike lists that contradict the "race-neutral" explanation provided by the prosecution for its strike of one of the black prospective jurors." Does this count as excluding prospective jurors on the basis of race?"

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Did Obama vioate the rule of law?

It's bad enough when county clerks violate the rule of law. When the President appears to be acting likewise, it raises serious red-flags.  Public officials should avoid even the appearance of impropriety.  Most Americans were happy the raid to kill Bin Laden. succeeded. But it goes deeper than this. You be the judge.
According the the NYT:
"Weeks before President Obama ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011, four administration lawyers developed rationales intended to overcome any legal obstacles — and made it all but inevitable that Navy SEALs would kill the fugitive Qaeda leader, not capture him. . . .

Stretching sparse precedents, the lawyers worked in intense secrecy. Fearing leaks, the White House would not let them consult aides or even the administration’s top lawyer, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. They did their own research, wrote memos on highly secure laptops and traded drafts hand-delivered by trusted couriers." . . .
Just days before the raid, the lawyers drafted five secret memos so that if pressed later, they could prove they were not inventing after-the-fact reasons for having blessed it. “We should memorialize our rationales because we may be called upon to explain our legal conclusions, particularly if the operation goes terribly badly,” said Stephen W. Preston, the C.I.A.’s general counsel, according to officials familiar with the internal deliberations. . .
The legal analysis offered the administration wide flexibility to send ground forces onto Pakistani soil without the country’s consent, to explicitly authorize a lethal mission, to delay telling Congress until afterward, and to bury a wartime enemy at sea. By the end, one official said, the lawyers concluded that there was “clear and ample authority for the use of lethal force under U.S. and international law.”
Some legal scholars later raised objections, but criticism was muted after the successful operation. The administration lawyers, however, did not know at the time how events would play out, and they faced the “unenviable task” of “resolving a cluster of sensitive legal issues without any consultation with colleagues,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin who worked on a Justice Department detainee policy task force in 2009."

Another crooked politician bites the dust

According to the NYT:
"J. Dennis Hastert, the longest serving Republican speaker of the House, could face as much as six months behind bars or as little as no prison time, according to preliminary sentencing guideline calculations announced Wednesday by federal prosecutors as Mr. Hastert pleaded guilty to trying to evade federal banking laws."

It's no wonder so many people are fed up with government.

Free new legal research website

A great new, free legal research tool is not up and running.  It's called "Free the Law."  It will expand over time.  If you don't have access to Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis this could be of use if you like to do legal research.  Scroll down to register.  If you try it, please post your impression.

Excessive force in the classroom, suggestions.

The vide of the officer violently yanking a black teenage student out of her chair  in S.C. and what followed has again raised the  issue of excessive use of force.  However these in-school cases raise additional issues.  According to the NYT:

"Experts on school safety say the line between security, the officers’ prime responsibility, and discipline, which administrators and teachers traditionally manage, has been blurred. In the South Carolina case, a girl at Spring Valley High School defied a teacher’s instruction to stop using her phone in class and refused orders — first from the teacher, then from an administrator, and finally from a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school — to stand up and leave the classroom."

The officer has been terminated.  Hindsight is always 20-20, but school personnel and officers need training and rules to deal with these cases.  This prevents the need to second guess.

So, how should this have been handled.  First, there is no security issue here. Do we really need officers using force on unarmed teenage girls to manage school discipline?  First, students should not be allowed to have their phones in class.  A procedure needs to be created to allow the phone to be checked to a secure location and then retrieved when the student is ready to leave school. With regard to the use of force incident, nesuggestion would be to dismiss the rest of the class and leave an officer or official with the student in the classroom.  The student's parents should be notified and, if necessary provided transportation to the school.  The student should be suspended immediately with a hearing later.  In the alternative, dismiss the whole class, including the offending student.  I doubt she would want to be in the classroom all by herself.  Discipline could be administered later.  If she refuses to leave, just wait her out with someone there with her in the empty classroom. If other procedures fail and it is necessary to remove the student, the officer, in the classroom emptied of other students, but with the parent and/or administrator present, the officer, should tell the student that this officer is going to count to ten and if the student is not moving toward the door he will use pepper spray.  The student should not be alone with the officer. The student should be advised that such spray rarely causes serious or permanent damage but will cause severe pain and irritation.  Treatment for pepper spray should be ready for the student. 

Trivia sample from new blog

I hope you don't mind the sample of what is on the
website.  Just wanted to see if you were interested.  Now, back to CL&J

Saturday, October 24, 2015



          1.   Five years after Columbus discovered American, what explorer sailing for the English landed on Newfoundland.                

          2.   In what year did the English defeat the Spanish Armada?

   3.  In 1607, the Mayflower was headed for Virginia, but mistakenly landed where? 

  4.  In 1520, what Spanish Conquistador conquered the Aztecs in Mexico?

  5.  In 1532, what Spanish Conquistador conquered the Incas in Peru?

         6.  The “Age of Reason” is also known as what?

          7.  In 1611 a new version of the Bible was created that was less congenial to Purtianism more congenial to the King.  What was this version called?           

         8.    The English Bill of Rights took effect in what year?       

         9.  Revolutionary fervor in the U.S. was fueled by what document written by Thomas Payne?

         10.  Who was the leader of the radical, violent Jacobins during the French Revolution?





1.  John Cabot

2.  1588

3.  Cade Cod, Mass.

4.  Hernan Cortez

5.  Franiscco Pizarro

6.  The Enlightenment

7.  The King James version

8.  1689

9.  ”Common Sense”

10.  Robespierre

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chicago Mayor and others blame increased police accoutability for rise in crime

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) thinks the nationwide push for police accountability has made cops go "fetal," leading to a surge in crime.
“They don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact,” Emanuel told reporters last week at a meeting convened by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Washington, D.C. to address rising homicide rates in some cities.
The mayor defended his comments on Monday. "Officers themselves are telling me about how the news over the last 15 months impacted their instincts: Do they stop or do they keep driving?" he told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"What happened post-Baltimore, what happened post-Ferguson is having an impact," Emanuel said. "And I still believe recent events over the last year or 18 months have had an impact. And officers will tell you that. And I tried to speak up for the good officers that are doing community policing that make up the men and women of the Chicago Police Department."
Emanuel is just the latest in a series of public figures to blame the Black Lives Matter movement, directly or indirectly, for a growth in violent crime. Last month, former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly blamed it on the climate created by the Ferguson protests against police brutality. “I think you'll see, you know, the rise in murders in 30 cities, that's the so-called Ferguson effect where cops are less reluctant to engage in proactive policing."

Fox News went so far as to call Black Lives Matter a "hate group." Even The New York Times asked if the "Ferguson effect" is driving up homicide rates on its front page last month.
But there is little evidence that this is in fact the case. For one thing, it's questionable whether murder rates are actually surging nationwide, let alone what might be driving that surge, as safety and justice researcher Bruce Frederick wrote in The Marshall Project:
Even where a statistically reliable increase has been experienced, a single year-to-year increase does not necessarily imply a meaningful trend. Often, such changes fall within the range of normal year-to-year fluctuations. For example, I was able to obtain historical data on year-to-year changes in homicide counts for Chicago, the only top-20 city in the Times analysis that had a statistically significant increase from 2014 to 2015. From 2009 to 2010, homicides increased 5.1 percent. The next year, however, there was a 13.1 percent decrease. The year after that, a 28.5 percent increase, and then decreases of 16.4 and 3.4 percent in 2013 and 2014, before homicides climbed back up 11.3 percent in 2015. Looked at over a longer time period, the numbers do not demonstrate a stable trend."

I'm not buying it Rahm.  Before, the NYT  and Rahm were arguing that more guns were the cause.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sesquicentennial of Reconstruction

As you may know, we are now in the sesquicentennial of the period in American history known as "Reconstruction."  On a variety of levels this was a momentous period in America, not only socially, but economically, politically and legally.  In this and following posts some of the crime, law and justice issues will be examined.

First, although the Civil War and the 13th Amendment, ended slavery,  it did not extinguish the ideology which justified slavery, white supremacy. The 14th and 15th Amendments attempted to overcome the legal side of white supremacy., but once free of federal control all states in the Confederacy violated the 14th and 15th Amendments.  Black codes, or Jim Crow laws resulted.  The federal courts, following the leadership of the U.S. Supreme Court, did little or nothing to enforce the Rconstruction Amendments.  Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era were probably the eras when civil rights and the Constitution were flagrantly violated on a vast scale.  This is not to say that there weren't civil rights violations against blacks in other parts of the country, built was a fact that most blacks still lived in the South and that's the region where white supremacy ideas were strongest and most violently expressed by whites. 

Slavery ended in the South, but white supremacy ideology carried on.  According to the NYT:

"One of the few acts at Appomattox that moves so many white Southerners to emotion was the generosity of permitting Gen. Robert E. Lee and his officers to depart with their side arms. It was technically a gallant gesture but arguably Grant’s unconscious acknowledgment of what we now know: that the war didn’t end but would merely be engaged on other battlefields: Klan terrorism, Jim Crow, redlining, housing covenants, voting ­rights restrictions."  To that list we might add lynching and resistance to public school and university integration.

Second Amendment takes a hit

According to the NYT:
"A federal appeals court on Monday upheld strict statewide bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines that were passed in New York and Connecticut after the 2012 mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
In finding that the “core provisions” of the laws did not violate the Second Amendment, Judge José A. Cabranes, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan, said the states had acted “based on substantial evidence” and had “tailored the legislation at issue to address these particularly hazardous weapons.”
He noted that state legislatures were “far better equipped than the judiciary to make sensitive public policy judgments (within constitutional limits) concerning the dangers in carrying firearms and the manner to combat those risks.”

There's a few things wrong with the opinion. I'll mention just one.
 Courts routinely overturn state laws and second guess state and federal governments.  All of a sudden there seems to be reluctance.  The court's making an exception for gun control laws disrespects the Second Amendment.  The Second Circuit has a reputation for being pro-control

Corrections Re New Blog on Trivia

          This embarrassed low-tech blogger has finally got the title (Trivia Questions Plus Answers) and URL for the new trivia website site ( settled.  This is the final, correct information.  I apologize for the confusion and the delay.  Please check it out!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

"Justice" NCAA style

If you've been following big time, big $ college sports you know that there are lots of ethically challenged folks in that business.  The NCAA "tries" to police it ,but scandals are rampant.  Banning post-season play for the next season and cutting back on scholarships punishes "student athletes" who had no part in the wrongdoing.  "The NCAA's willingness to punish unpaid amateur athletes for the sins committed by well-compensated administrators and coaches has been well-documented." See this article on SMU.

Which Presidential candidate has raised the most money? Citizens United decision

Do you recall which party and which candidates complained about the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Citizens United and how all the $ would corrupt the process?  Guess who has raised the most money.

According to the NYT, which leans liberal:   

Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent more than twice as much as any other presidential candidate on campaign staff, more than three times as much on office space and millions of dollars more on advertising, according to reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.
Three months before the first nominating contest, Mrs. Clinton has built a cash-hungry campaign juggernaut that is more far-flung and more expensive than anything else on the horizon.
The goal is to overwhelm her rivals for the Democratic nomination — including those who are still considering a bid — before the first flowers of spring, and to amass an organizational advantage that no Republican rival will be able to match by Election Day."

I guess campaign contribution money only corrupts certain parties and candidates.  I guess only certain parties and candidates can be bought.  Does the word "hypocrisy" come to mind?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Gun Control 'Farce'

As Thomas Sowell points out in this excellent article, the empirical support underlying gun control proposals is not there. Alternate link here.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Book Review and essay: The Cause Lost

This short book, subtitled "Myths and Realities of the Confederacy", is available in paperback.  It's easy reading.  It deals with a number of issues that tend to be slighted, such as the election of 1864. There are chapters dealing with Confederate Generals and politicians. In parts it critiques the "Lost Cause" pseudo-history of the Civil War.

The authors is not a "Yankee" or "Lincoln Lover.' In a footnote, the author  reveals had a number of ancestors who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.   His son is named "Jefferson Davis."  According to Wikipedia:
"William Charles Davis (born 1946) is an American historian who is the professor of history at Virginia Tech and Director of Programs at that school's Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. Specializing in the American Civil War, Davis has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (for Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol and Battle at Bull Run). He has written more than 40 books on the American Civil War and other aspects of early southern U.S. history.[1] He is the only three-time winner of the Jefferson Davis Prize for Confederate history and was awarded the Jules F. Landry Award for Southern history." . . .In 1996, Davis authored the book The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy, a critical examination of mythical claims made by neo-Confederate and Lost Cause members regarding the Confederacy and the American Civil War. Davis states that "it is impossible to point to any other local issue but slavery and say that Southerners would have seceded and fought over it." However Davis contrasted this with the motivations for individuals in the confederate military. He wrote, "The widespread northern myth that the Confederates went to the battlefield to perpetuate slavery is just that, a myth. Their letters and diaries, in the tens of thousands, reveal again and again that they fought and died because their Southern homeland was invaded and their natural instinct was to protect home and hearth."
What Davis misses is that the 'fireaters' and Confederate leadership convinced many followers that blacks were on the verge of being freed and that there would be massive rapes and murders and mongrelization of the white race.  Further, slaves provided  psychological security for poor southerners that they were not the bottom off the barrel racially, socially, or economically.  Freedom of the slaves would create a glut of cheap labor threatening the white working class.  He also downplays the existence of the Confederate draft and the influence of white supremacy.  To supplement this book, one should read "Apostles of Disunion; Southern Secession Commissions and the Cause of the Civil War" by Charles B. Dew, another southerner.   One review is here. A longer one is here.  Slave owners and traders had a vested economic interest in the continuance of slavery.  They were the elite and controlled the South. Yes, Davis is right about the motivation of many southerners but he misses a lot.  Slave owners and traders used white supremacy theory to support the institution.  They needed to stir up the masses using propaganda and fear tactics.

Corruption in public education

One of the reasons that public education is such a losing proposition in this country is because of corruption and cheating.  Below is a recent example from one of America's most corrupt cities.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ):
"The former chief executive of the Chicago public school system will plead guilty to federal charges she received kickbacks and bribes in exchange for steering district contracts to a former employer, her lawyer said Thursday.
The indictment of Barbara Byrd-Bennett, announced by prosecutors earlier in the day, is the latest blow to the nation’s third-largest school system, which is facing a growing fiscal crisis. Ms. Byrd-Bennett resigned in late spring during the federal probe."

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Gun Control Debate heating up (again)

The gun control debate is heating up again. Rather than examine the research or facts, gun control activists and their supporters act in knee-jerk fashion and never get around to the key questions of causation (rather than just correlation) and whether and what kind of gun controls will actually work. Second Amendment, due process, equal protection and privacy rights get trampled in the stampede. They try to make us feel good and appear to have answers. This Federalist article looks at the underlying facts.
Thanks to 44 shot for the link

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Another college campus free speech victory

Free speech finally overcomes  another state university censorship try.  Thanks to John Hughes for the link

Some lesser-known quotes from Thomas Jefferson

Among Jefferson's lesser-known quotes:

"Aware of the tendency of power to degenerate into abuse, the
worthies of our country have secured its independence by the
establishment of a Constitution and form of government for our
nation, calculated to prevent as well as to correct abuse."
--Thomas Jefferson to Washington Tammany Society, 1809.

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as
are injurious to others." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782.

"Laws provide against injury from others, but not from
ourselves." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776?

"In questions of power...let no more be heard of confidence in
man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the
Constitution." --Thomas Jefferson: Kentucky Resolutions, 1798.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Latest on the fatal May bikers shoout in Waco

All  of the 170+ that were arrested have been released.   They were originally arrested for 'organized criminal activity.' None face any charges specifically related to the 9 deaths or injuries--yet.

Lessons from Social Security Disability Case

This article from the Dallas Morning News provides a lot of insights into government benefit frauds.
1.  Defrauding the federal government appears to be a way of life for some families.  Each generation passes on the necessary skills.
2.  The feds don't spend enough time, money or effort to root out fraud.
3.  Psychiatric/psychological expert testimony is often wrong.  For example, look at criminal insanity defense cases.  Lots of  "experts" on both sides
4.  The appeal process often results in underserved benefits.

While the concepts of the "worthy" and "unworthy" poor are controversial, there shouldn't be any doubt that those who commit intentional fraud are unworthy.

The U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term (Oct. 2015) Today

See this article from the Washington Post on what we might expect.  Here's a look at some of the cases the Court has tentatively agreed to decide.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Mexico finally extradites drug kingpins

According to the New York Times:
"The Mexican government extradited several top drug kingpins to the United States on Wednesday, signaling a change of heart after the stunning escape of Joaquín Guzmán Loera this summer from the nation’s most secure prison. . . .


IL Officer Killed with Own Gun

According to U.S. News & World Report:
"The Illinois police officer whose fatal shooting last month set off a massive manhunt was shot twice with his own weapon, and there were signs of a struggle at the scene, the lead investigator said Thursday in releasing what he called carefully vetted details."  RIP Officer Gliniewicz.

This sad case highlights an issue that is a difficult one in cases where unlawful use of deadly force by officers is alleged.  Generally, officers can use deadly force in defense only when the officer objectively reasonably believes the the offender poses an immediate threat of using deadly force against the officer.  However, there is always a deadly weapon present in these types of cases--the officer's sidearm.  If the suspect and officer start grappling or wrestling there is always a chance that the suspect may get the officer's sidearm and use it on the officer. There are millions of possible examples of this type of situation, and each one has be examined in detail.

NYPD reforms re use of force

According to the New York Times (NYT):
"For the first time in its modern history, the New York Police Department is establishing explicit guidelines — backed by a sweeping new tracking system — for using and documenting force.
Every police officer will have to detail virtually every instance when force is used not only in an arrest but also in other encounters with the public, including the sort of brief, violent detention and release that occurs routinely on the street and, in the case of the retired tennis star James Blake, is captured on video.
Officers, who have long been required to intervene when they see other officers using excessive force, will now face formal discipline, up to and including dismissal, not only if they fail to step in or report excessive force, but also if they also fail to seek medical assistance for someone who requests it."
Although it means more paper-work for officers, the ideas look good.  The key will be enforcement.  Further, reforms are often pushed when they are new, but then are gradually ignored.