Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Where to they find these people?  The legislature has committees that do investigating. 



“A Stratford police officer has been suspended without pay for leaving a loaded and unsecured .357 revolver in reach of his 8-year-old daughter, who was fatally shot New Year’s Eve at the family’s home, authorities said Friday.

Kenneth Righter, 46, has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and a disorderly-persons offense called “storage of firearms if minors may have access.” The gun, a personal weapon of Righter’s, was left on a shelf and was accessible to three children, including Sailor Lane Righter, who died, and her brothers, 14 and 17, authorities said.


“The Camden County [NJ] Prosecutor’s Office, which is leading the investigation, did not say whether Sailor or another family member fired the gun, but has said that only family members were home at the time. Kenneth Righter, who is paid $87,000 a year as a Stratford officer, was not home at the time of the shooting.

Righter's attorney, Dennis Wixted, said Friday the charges have added to the family's stress and sadness over Sailor's loss.

"The entire Righter family is devastated," Wixted said. He declined to comment on details of the case.

A 911 call from the Righter family's house on Union Avenue came around 1:50 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

"We need help now," one of Sailor's siblings told a dispatcher, according to a recording of the call provided by county officials. The sibling did not give the dispatcher his name.

"My mom just went upstairs and found her, and she told me to call 911," he said. "She's not breathing."

He then told the dispatcher the family was headed to the hospital.

Sailor was pronounced dead at Kennedy University Hospital in Stratford at 2:15 p.m., authorities said. Her mother brought her there.

Kenneth Righter became a Stratford police officer in 2004, according to the state Attorney General's Office. He passed firearms training several times in recent years, including last year, when he scored 100 percent with his personal revolver, according to qualification forms obtained through a public records request. That is the same weapon that authorities said killed Sailor.

Stratford's police department has guidelines on keeping a weapon at home.”

“Each full-time member of this police department shall be issued a secure gun-locking device, which without exception shall be utilized each day,” the guidelines state, adding, “Officers are encouraged to purchase a safe to further safeguard weapons.”

The department has 16 officers, including supervisors, according to its website.

Police Chief Ronald Morello said in a statement Friday that it is general policy to suspend any employees charged with an indictable crime. He said he could not comment on the investigation by the Prosecutor's Office. "
This is both tragic and inexcusable.



"LaGRANGE, Ga. — Some people here had never heard about the lynching of Austin Callaway — about how, almost 77 years ago, he was dragged out of a jail cell by a band of masked white men, then shot and left for dead.
Some people never forgot.
But on Thursday evening, the fatal cruelties inflicted upon Mr. Callaway — long obscured by time, fear, professional malfeasance and a reluctance to investigate the sins of the past — were acknowledged in this city of 31,000 people when LaGrange’s police chief, Louis M. Dekmar, who is white, issued a rare apology for a Southern lynching.
“I sincerely regret and denounce the role our Police Department played in Austin’s lynching, both through our action and our inaction,” Chief Dekmar told a crowd at a traditionally African-American church. “And for that, I’m profoundly sorry. It should never have happened.”

Thursday, January 26, 2017


See this post on my substantive criminal law blog.



Post-truth and the Trump administration have entered a new phase.  "Alternative truth" is the latest abomination of rational thinking.

Here's two views of the term.



The term is reminiscent of an idea from George Orwell's book 1984.


Here's the Press Secretary's non-sequitur defense of the concept.

Two of Trumps favorite leaders are Russian dictator V. Putin and Israel's hard-liner Netanyahu.  Netanyahu has thumbed his nose at the U.N., international law and complaints about violating the human rights of Palestinians--on whose land the Israeli's are building settlement for Jewish Israelis. Anyone who truly cares about freedom of speech and press, honest government and the future of freedom and democracy should be concerned.

Hopefully, the Republicans, who dominate both houses of Congress will  or say something about these abominations.


Pointing out the POTUS' many 'errors' (perhaps delusions) will become a cottage and national industry. As expected, his staff is falling in line.  The POTUS' and his press secretary's credibility is rapidly disappearing. All politicians have this problem. Trump's defenders use this argument.  However, Trump outpaces just about every policitian in his quantity of such behavior.  I hope the public expects more from the POTUS than from ordinary politicians.
Here's the latest



People wrongly registering is not the same as wrongly voting.  For instance, is a person who is registered in two states going to travel to one of these from his current location.  I'm probably registered to vote in 2 states.  I promise you I  only voted once (for neither Trump nor Clinton).  If the fraud were as massive as claimed, wouldn't the Republican poll watchers across the nation been filing thousands of complaints/reports.

As long as Trump is President people need t get familiar with these two highly respected and balanced web sites.

Will Trump have any credibility with foreign leaders.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Licensed Concealed Carriers subject to stop and frisk.

Cops Can Frisk Anyone Armed, Regardless of Concealed Carry Permits By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on January 25, 2017 5:20 AM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Fourth Circuit ruled on Monday, in an en banc decision, that police are justified in frisking individuals with concealed firearms, regardless of whether that individual could have a concealed carry permit or not. The fact that someone may have a concealed carry permit does not make it unreasonable for an officer to search them, "for the officer's protection and the safety of everyone at the scene," the Fourth ruled. The decision, U.S. v. Robinson, is in tension with a Sixth Circuit opinion from 2015 and could result in the Supreme Court taking up this developing circuit split. Concealed Carry Permits Are Inconsequential, Fourth Rules The case arose after police stopped two men in Ranson, West Virginia, after getting a tip that one of them had loaded a firearm and slipped it into his pocket. During the stop, the police frisked Shaquille Robinson, found a gun, and arrested him for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Robinson argued that the officers' search violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, as the officers had "no articulable facts demonstrating that he was dangerous since, as far as the officers knew, the state could have issued him a permit to carry a concealed firearm." That is, that concealing a firearm alone doesn't render one dangerous, and thus does not justify a subsequent Terry stop and frisk. Under Terry v. Ohio, officers may stop and frisk someone when they reasonably suspect "that the person apprehended is committing or has committed a criminal offense." Since it's possible for the concealed weapon to be legal, Robinson argued, his conduct was "seemingly innocent" and thus didn't justify the search. The Fourth Circuit rejected that argument, concluding that "an officer who makes a lawful traffic stop and who has a reasonable suspicion that one of the automobile's occupants is armed may frisk that individual for the officer's protection and the safety of everyone on the scene." The ability to carry a concealed firearm legally is "inconsequential," the Fourth explained: The danger justifying a protective frisk arises from the combination of a forced police encounter and the presence of a weapon, not from any illegality of the weapon's possession. Dissent Notes Circuit Split The dissent, written by Judge Pamela Harris and joined by three others, argues that, while concealed weapons were once "hallmarks of criminal activity," they can no longer be treated as such, "at least in states like West Virginia," where concealed carry permits make concealed weapons potentially legal. Where such conduct is legal, "there is no reason to think that a person carrying or concealing a weapon during a traffic stop ... is anything but a law-abiding citizen who poses no threat to authorities." That is, the dissent notes, similar to the position taken by the Sixth Circuit. In 2015's Northrup v. City of Toledo Police Dep't, the Sixth ruled that police could not conduct a Terry stop for open carriers, when the state law permits open carry. The Ohio legislature "has decided its citizens may be entrusted with firearms on public streets" and police have "no authority to disregard this." Not only does the majority's decision clash with the Sixth, the dissent argues, but it collapses Terry's "armed and dangerous" standard into one -- to be armed is to be dangerous. The dissent further contends that the majority's expansive reading of Terry will lead to increased racial profiling. There's no word yet whether Robinson will appeal to the Supreme Court, but some, including Texas Supreme Court justices and potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee Don Willett seems to think High Court review is likely: - See more at: http://blogs.findlaw.com/fourth_circuit/2017/01/cops-can-frisk-anyone-armed-regardless-of-concealed-carry-permits.html?DCMP=NWL-pro_top#sthash.SwpK7m5p.dpuf


Saturday, January 21, 2017


United States Supreme Court
White v. Pauly, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 5 (U.S. Jan. 9, 2017)
Two police officers went to Daniel Pauly’s house to investigate a road-rage incident that had occurred earlier that night. The officers made verbal contact with Daniel Pauly and his brother, Samuel, who remained inside the house. A third officer, Ray White, arrived at Pauly’s house several minutes later. As Officer White approached the house, someone from inside yelled, "We have guns," and then Daniel Pauly stepped out the back door and fired two shotgun blasts. A few seconds later, Samuel Pauly opened a window and pointed a handgun in Officer White’s direction. Officer White shot and killed Samuel Pauly.
Pauly’s estate filed a lawsuit against the officers, claiming the officers violated the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force against him.

The District Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the officers qualified immunity. The officers appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

The Court, which decided the case without oral arguments from the parties, vacated the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ judgment and remanded the case.
First, the court noted that qualified immunity is appropriate when an officer’s conduct does not violate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right of which a reasonable person would have known. Qualified immunity was designed to protect "all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law." Second, the court reiterated that "clearly established law" should not be defined "at a high level of generality," but instead it must be "particularized" to the facts of the case. Third, the Court stated that the lower court failed to identify a case where an officer acting under similar circumstances as Officer White was held to have violated the Fourth Amendment. Instead, the Court found that the lower court relied upon Graham v. Connor, Tennessee v. Garner, and other use of force cases, which only outline excessive force principles at a general level. The court added that this was not a case where it was obvious that there was a violation of clearly established law under Garner and Graham. Finally, the court found that Officer White arrived to scene late, and it was not clearly established that the Fourth Amendment requires an officer to second-guess the earlier steps already taken by fellow officers in situations like the one Officer White faced here.

While the Court vacated the Tenth Circuit’s judgment, the Court recognized that Pauly’s estate could still prevail after the case was remanded. Specifically, the Court commented that Pauly’s estate could claim that Officer White witnessed deficient performance by the other officers and should have realized that corrective action was necessary before he used deadly force. The Court took no position on this potential claim, as neither the District Court nor the Tenth Circuit had addressed the issue.

For the Court’s opinion: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-67_2c8f.pdf



Friday, January 20, 2017


As we await Trump's inaugural address, let us  reflect back on two of the greatest inaugural addresses, the two by Abraham Lincoln.

In polls of historians and political scientists, Lincoln is the President who most often comes out number 1.
 In terms of Presidential speakers of the 19th Century he ranks likewise.   His Gettysburg address is ranked by many as the best Presidential speech of all time.  The Klan, and many lost cause advocates hate Lincoln, but they are entitled to their opinions.

 I urge you to read his addresses.   They are masterpieces.


Every society is “‘socially stratified.”  Broadly viewed, the term goes beyond socioeconomic status, and includes status and other feature.  In the context here, this means that some categories of people are in control and are seen as superior to other categories of people.  Social stratifications includes hierarchies in which some categories of people are devalued and other are favored.  Some categories are entitled to control what others do.  Examples are India today with its caste system and South Africa under apartheid and blacks in the South under slavery and Jim Crow laws.

Hierarchies and stratification are justified by those who are advantaged.  It is in their interest to continue the status quo.  The status quo will be justified by a variety of arguments, including religious ones.  Even many in the disfavored categories accept their inferiority.  The hierarchy becomes, over time, a central feature of the society.  However, hierarchies are often challenged and those who benefit from it will often fight change.  Change does not come easy for some people, especially those with vested interests in the status quo.  With regard to blacks and whites in America, the term ‘white rage’ is used to describe the motivation for white supremacy and white resistance to measures to help the poor, who are disproportionately poor minorities. See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rage

Starting with Supreme Court decisions and federal civil rights laws, many whites, especially in the South resisted the challenges to white supremacy with hatred, if not violence.  This was especially noticeable with regard to desegregating public schools.

Another example is male domination over females. This has a long history in the U.S.and most, if not all countries.  Wives were viewed as the property of their husbands.  Women were seen as unfilt for many occupations.  They were forbidden to vote. Women were expected to marry and become sex and baby machines, maids, cooks and  for their husbands, and nannys for the man’s children.  Men were especially concerned about the sexuality of women.  Miscegenation was outlawed. Years ago, if a black man in the South was even suspected of raping a white woman, he would be lynched as soon aspossible. You can see this in the social structure in very conservative Jewish and Muslim cultures.  Men wanted to control the sexuality and reproduction of their wives.  This is one of the reasons, but not the only reason,  for opposition to abortion.  It gives women control of their fertility. The sexual double-standard allowed men to be promiscuous but women were not allowed.

Conservatives, who usually vote Republican value tradition and order and dislike change.  They are generally opposed changes in hierarchical relationships, on either the legal or social level. (e.g. opposition to abortion, equal rights for women constitutional amendment, voting rights laws which protect minorities, affirmative action).  Liberals tend to be more sympathetic to the ‘underdog’ and more likely to support legal changes to benefit ‘underdogs.’” 

Many suspect that one of the reasons for the Trump victory was that white working class people felt that the democrats were more interested in helping minorities, LJGBT’s etc., than white working class people.  In America, many white people view themselves as the better segment of the population and they become uneasy when their dominance is in jeopardy.

Results from a recent poll suggest this mechanism is at work.
“To be a woman in the United States is to feel unequal, despite great strides in gender equality, according to a wide-ranging poll about gender in postelection America released Tuesday. It’s catcalls on the street, disrespect at work and unbalanced responsibilities at home. For girls, it’s being taught, more than boys, to aspire to marriage, and for women, it’s watching positions of power go to men.
Men, however, don’t necessarily see it that way.
Those are some of the findings from the poll, by PerryUndem, a nonpartisan research and polling firm whose biggest clients are foundations. It surveyed 1,302 adults in December via the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak panel. . . .
Eighty-two percent of women said sexism was a problem in society today, and 41 percent of women said they had felt unequal because of their gender.
Men underestimated the sexism felt by the women in their lives, the survey found. And while most respondents agreed it’s a better time to be a man than a woman in our society, only Republican men thought it was a better time to be a woman than a man.”
Republican men seem to see it differently. Just over half thought it was a good time to be a woman, while only 41 percent of them thought it was a good time to be a man.
Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric has appealed to people who feel this way. At his victory rally in Cincinnati last month, he said about women: “I hate to tell you men, generally speaking, they’re better than you are. Now, if I said it the other way around, I’d be in big trouble.” . .
Dennis Halaszynski, 81, is a retired police captain in McKeesport, Pa., and a registered Democrat who voted for Mr. Trump. “It’s easier being a woman today than it is a man,” he said in an interview. “The white man is a low person on the totem pole. Everybody else is above the white man.”

It’s hard to tell how many people agree with Dennis, and how many voted for Trump. The emergence of the al-right was probably motivated by this thinking.  White supremacists and white nationalist would probably agree.

Although race and gender are not the only issues.  Religion and ethnicity are also factors.  White, Protestant residents of the U.S. were appalled at the influx of Catholic Irish starting in the 1830's. 

See the full article at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/upshot/republican-men-say-its-a-better-time-to-be-a-woman-than-a-man.html?_r=0




"ANNAPOLIS, Md. — It was early fall, and Donald J. Trump, behind in the polls, seemed to be preparing a rationale in case a winner like him somehow managed to lose. “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” the Republican nominee told a riled-up crowd in Columbus, Ohio. He was hearing “more and more” about evidence of rigging, he added, leaving the details to his supporters’ imagination.
A few weeks later, Cameron Harris, a new college graduate with a fervent interest in Maryland Republican politics and a need for cash, sat down at the kitchen table in his apartment to fill in the details Mr. Trump had left out. In a dubious art just coming into its prime, this bogus story would be his masterpiece.
Mr. Harris started by crafting the headline: “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.” It made sense, he figured, to locate this shocking discovery in the very city and state where Mr. Trump had highlighted his “rigged” meme.
“I had a theory when I sat down to write it,” recalled Mr. Harris, a 23-year-old former college quarterback and fraternity leader. “Given the severe distrust of the media among Trump supporters, anything that parroted Trump’s talking points people would click. Trump was saying ‘rigged election, rigged election.’ People were predisposed to believe Hillary Clinton could not win except by cheating.”
There probably has always been fake news.  The availability of the internet which can provide anonymity. and the possibility that the story will be picked up go viral encourages impulsive to make up this stuff.  Thus there is a lot more of it today. When coupled with political polarization, ideological fanaticism, and the desire to win, it will continue to grow.  Oy vay!


As most people know, today is Inauguration Day for President-elect Trump.  Although I am a big critic of Trump (and most politicians), like many critics I think we need to give him a chance to prove that we were wrong about him.  His choices for his cabinet are disappointments, but they deserve a chance. However, the First Amendment marches on. Here's two new items about Trump.

1.  "A flurry of polls released this week show approval ratings hovering around 44 percent. That's lower than the share of the popular vote he collected on Election Day, which is unusual.

At this point eight years ago, nearly eight in 10 Americans viewed Barack Obama favorably. Even George W. Bush, who took office after a recount that hinged on a few hundred ballots, entered under less of a cloud.  . .

This will be a president who called the election rigged and said he'd refuse to accept the outcome — unless he won. A president whose vulgarity shocked many — except for the millions who viewed him as exactly the unconventional, convention-defying leader needed to straighten out Washington."

2.  WASHINGTON — "American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.
The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts." [If he has nothing to hide, Trump will probably not interfere.  If he does, it will only increase suspicions.  Let's have some transparency in Washington for a change.  There may not be anything incriminating there and we should extend the presumption of innocence.  Thank God we have a free press in this country that will be doing its own investigations]
"National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House. . .
The decision to open the investigations was not based on a dossier of salacious, uncorroborated allegations that were compiled by a former British spy working for a Washington research firm.  . . TheF.B.I. is also examining the allegations in that dossier, and a summary of its contents was provided to Mr. Trump earlier this month. . . .The F.B.I. investigation into Mr. Manafort began last spring, and was an outgrowth of a criminal investigation into his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and for the country’s former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. In August, The Times reported that Mr. Manafort’s name had surfaced in a secret ledger that showed he had been paid millions in undisclosed cash payments. The Associated Press has reported that his work for Ukraine included a secret lobbying effort in Washington aimed at influencing American news organizations and government officials."
The F.B.I. investigation into Mr. Manafort [The Chair of Trump's presidential campaign organization] began last spring, and was an outgrowth of a criminal investigation into his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and for the country’s former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. In August, The Times reported that Mr. Manafort’s name had surfaced in a secret ledger that showed he had been paid millions in undisclosed cash payments. The Associated Press has reported that his work for Ukraine included a secret lobbying effort in Washington aimed at influencing American news organizations and government officials."
Here's an interesting related item:
"A lot of people aren’t thrilled about the impending reality of Donald Trump’s presidency, but you know who’s totally here for it? Russian state television."
This whole thing may turn out to be much ado about nothings, but it should be investigated.  If there is a fire under this smoke, the consequences for Trump could be serious.  Impeachment perhaps.  Stay tuned.


 "Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the notorious drug lord known as El Chapo who twice slipped out of high-security Mexican prisons and into criminal legend, was extradited to the United States on Thursday night, officials said, drawing to a close a decades-long quest to prosecute the head of one of the world’s largest narcotics organizations."

Monday, January 16, 2017


In spite of many examples to the contrary, (e.g. Dylan Roof, the white nationalist movement)  the nation, including the South, has made progress improving race relations and rejecting white supremacy. How many would have thought we would have a black president in 2008?
"For now, history will not be made in Washington with America's first female president. But, here in Texas, we have quietly made history this month swearing in the state's first African American female sheriff.
Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens took her oath in front of a packed audience in Beaumont, where she promised to get back to the basics of law enforcement with greater transparency and community engagement. Stephens spoke of being humbled by all the support, describing her November win as a team effort. "Our community made history," she said."

However, it was not always smooth.
"In February, Stephens' campaign headquarters were sprayed with gunfire by a man shouting racial slurs. Fortunately, none of the volunteers inside were hit or injured. Stephens never missed a beat, demonstrating why good cops deserve respect and more police departments could use womanpower.   
In 2015, only 11 percent of licensed police officers in Texas were women. Of the 254 counties in Texas, more than 50 do not employ any female deputies. Stephens is now one of only two black women in America to hold the job of sheriff. Yet, she does not concern herself much with the record books or her admission into a very impressive brotherhood of peace officers. (That includes Walter Moses Burton, who, in 1869, was elected the first black sheriff in Texas by the voters of Fort Bend County.)"


When the media talk about federal intervention to deal with police abuses, they are almost always, if not always, talking about settlements of federal pattern and practice lawsuits or actual implementations following a ruling against the police (see below).
“Looking to the federal government to rein in police excesses can be an exercise in managed expectations. . . On Friday, Chicago agreed to revamp its police department after the Justice Department found routine use of excessive force, and the mayor said he would negotiate a court-enforced settlement, known as a consent decree. But that is no guarantee of results — and not just because the man most likely to be the next attorney general has said he is skeptical of such endeavors.
Attempts to force change in police departments have met with mixed success even under the Obama administration, which made police reform a signature issue. It has opened 25 investigations into law enforcement agencies over issues like excessive force, racial bias and poor supervision, issuing reports choking with outrage.
Although there were successes in L.A. and elsewhere, ”. .  Pittsburgh, the target of the first consent decree based on a Justice Department finding of a “pattern and practice” of misconduct, later backslid after changes in leadership, said Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha [Walker is probably the nation’s top expert on police abuses and possible remedies.  I highly recommend his work]. And while Miami reduced police shootings to zero for 20 months after a federal investigation in 2002 that was later closed with no settlement, the Justice Department in 2013 reinvestigated and found a pattern of excessive force with firearms, underscoring some experts’ view that consent decrees or other settlements are needed for enduring improvements. Last year, Miami settled the 2013 inquiry by agreeing to improve supervision, training and internal investigations.
The “pattern and practice” approach developed after the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles in 1991 forced a period of national introspection over how to curb misconduct if individual officers could not be held accountable. A jury’s decision not to convict the four officers charged in the attack on Mr. King incited deadly riots.

Since the early attempts, Mr. Walker said, consent decrees have evolved to be more sophisticated and comprehensive. “The general pattern is that there is some backsliding on some issues,” he said, “but I don’t think there’s a case where a department has completely collapsed back to where it was before.” . . .
Still, Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and the nominee for attorney general under President-elect Donald J. Trump, called them “dangerous,” writing in 2008 that they “constitute an end run around the democratic process.” At his confirmation hearing this past week, he softened that critique, saying there were some circumstances that legitimately demanded consent decrees and that those already in place would be enforced."
Some reform advocates have expressed fears that the Trump administration will fail to investigate police departments or enforce consent decrees, robbing them of what they view as a crucial lever to compel change.”
Continue reading the main story
Even some police chiefs might mourn a retreat from consent decrees. Baltimore’s police commissioner, Kevin Davis, has said that a consent decree would aid community relations. Charles H. Ramsey, who as Washington’s police chief invited the Justice Department to review his department, said, “The DOJ gives legitimacy to the changes that you’re making.”
Chiefs may want consent decrees in order to insulate them from political and union opposition to change, as well as make it easier to demand money to pay for reforms.
Mr. Sessions wrote in his critique of consent decrees in 2008 that he is aware of that strategy.
“Such decrees are particularly offensive when certain governmental agencies secretly delight in being sued because they hope a settlement will be reached resulting in the agency receiving more money,” he wrote. “Thus, the taxpayers ultimately fund the settlement enacted through this undemocratic process.” [This is slightly misleading as the mayor, and city council, elected officials, also have to agree]
But, Mr. Sessions said, lawsuits could unfairly target whole police departments for the misdeeds of a few bad actors. “These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness,” he said.
His critique did not extend to how well consent decrees actually work. But experts say that even systemic changes, like greater oversight of officers’ use of force, can be slow to yield results."
Quite frankly, such lawsuits are just about the only effective remedy available.  Self-reform rarely works. To limit or abolish them will have negative effects of many, including black communities.  Opposition to such suits, in my opinion could be a latent seal of approval for what these agencies are doing.  Many people want the police to crack down violently on the dangerous classes.  White supremacists are opposed to the suits because they will benefit blacks disproportionately and pose a threat to white supremacy.  Opposition is especially strong in the South.  Many local politicians who overtly or covertly support white supremacy don’t want to lose control of their police, even temporarily, to the feds.



The President-elect continues to draw criticism because of his stupid/uninformed statements,  like ''NATO is obsolete" because it doesn't prevent terrorism.  NATO was not created to prevent terrorism,  it was created to counter the Soviet (now Russian) threat to Europe.  Its purpose is to deter and respond to Russian aggression.   Anyone who knows or cares about American or European history should know this.  Anyone who thinks it's not a threat apparently knows nothing about what has happened in the Ukraine, and the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.  I'm sure Putin was pleased to hear the President elect say it was obsolete.  Trump had to respond to European criticism by later saying it was "important." See

Given Trump and Putin's mutual admiration,  and Russian hacking of the Dems to benefit Trump, if I were a resident of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia or any eastern European country who valued their nation and its independence, I'd feel a little uneasy now.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


A man who shot and wounded an Arizona state trooper Thursday along a remote highway and then started slamming the helpless officer's head into the pavement as the two struggled was shot to death by a passing driver, authorities said.

Trooper Edward Andersson, a 27-year veteran of the Department of Public Safety, was shot in the right shoulder and chest in what authorities called an ambush and was in serious but stable condition after surgery at a Goodyear hospital.

"My trooper would not be alive without his assistance," DPS Director Frank Milstead said of the driver who stopped.

Arizona has a "defense of third person" law [like all states] that allows someone to use deadly force against another who is threatening or injuring a third person. It was not unusual that the passing driver was armed in this gun-friendly state with loose regulations.”



It will be interesting to see whether the NY Times carries this story, and if they do, how they will spin it.  I did a quick search but  could not find anything on it at the NYT.  It may be there.  Media bias is not so much reflected in what stories they carry, its more reflected by what stories they don't cover.

2,000 unfilled border protection jobs and lie detectors.

According to the AP at

David Kirk was a career Marine pilot with a top-secret security clearance and a record of flying classified missions. He was in the cockpit when President George W. Bush and Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden traveled around the nation's capital by helicopter.

With credentials like that, Kirk was stunned to fail a lie detector when he applied for a pilot's job with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which guards 6,000 miles of border with Mexico and Canada. After two contentious polygraph sessions that lasted a combined eight hours, Kirk said, he drove home "with my tail between my legs," wondering how things had gone so wrong.

Two out of three applicants to the CBP fail its polygraph, according to the agency — more than double the average rate of eight law enforcement agencies that provided data to The Associated Press under open-records requests.

It's a big reason approximately 2,000 jobs at the nation's largest law enforcement agency are empty, with the Border Patrol, a part of CBP, recently slipping below 20,000 agents for the first time since 2009. And it has raised questions of whether the lie detector tests are being properly administered."  [lots of experts and courts are extremely wary of the validity of lie detector tests]

No need to worry about all the unfilled jobs.  We'll soon have a wall along the border the cost for which Mexico will reimburse.  Further, after we spend millions, if not billions, on the wall, there won't be any money to pay more Border Patrol agents. 


"-- The Chicago police have systematically violated the civil rights of residents by routinely using excessive force, especially against black and Latino people, the Justice Department said in a scathing report released Friday.
Federal investigators excoriated the department and city officials alike for what they called "systemic deficiencies." They said their inquiry found that the Chicago police force did not provide officers with proper guidance for using force, did not properly investigate improper uses of force, and did not hold officers accountable for such incidents.
"The systems and policies that fail ordinary citizens also fail the vast majority of Chicago Police Department officers, who risk their lives every day to serve and protect the people of Chicago," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news conference.

The report culminates a 13-month federal investigation launched amid the fallout over the shooting of a black teenager by a white officer."

This sounds like many police departments.

On the other hand, here's Philadelphia's PD, now headed in the right direction after federal  intervention.  They couldn't do it by themselves.  Most problem agencies can't.  Ameond the reasons are the culture within the department and strong police unions which protect even the bad cops.

Philadelphia Police Department has made a "substantial effort" to implement reforms in its use of deadly force and is an example for the country amid the current climate of community and police tensions, federal officials said Friday.
The city's police department had been part of a collaborative effort with the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services Office to make changes to its culture and policy since 2013.
The Justice Department found a troubled agency it said was motivated by fear and a use of force that disproportionately affected black people. But by December 2015, the Justice Department praised Philadelphia for making a remarkable turnaround on 91 recommendations for improvement.
In an interim report Friday, the federal office's director, Ronald Davis, said the Philadelphia police have completed 61 of the recommendations — up from 21 about a year ago — and has made "demonstrable progress" on 22.
"We will never get comfortable," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross. "This does not mean we're at the finish line. This is the path we need to take, and we're willing to do that. We do realize there are issues in policing."
Officer-involved shootings have steadily declined in Philadelphia over the past decade. In 2007, there were more than 60. In 2015, there were 23."

However, it will take constant effort and monitoring to keep the agency from falling back to its former self.  The culture dies hard, unions will still protect even bad cops and public and politicians will lose interest.  Look at he long term history of NYPD--scandal, commission investigation, reforms then a few years later, another scandal.  The cycle goes on and on.


Texas seems to have more than its share of politicians who can't seem to be get  their brain in gear before they engage their mouth. E.g.,

"A Texas lawmaker on the House intelligence committee says it wasn't just the Russians who interfered in last year's election.
"Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, is comparing the use of Mexican entertainers to energize Democratic voters to the email hacking that officials say was orchestrated by Vladimir Putin's government.
Harry Reid and the Democrats brought in Mexican soap opera stars, singers and entertainers who had immense influence in those communities. into Las Vegas, to entertain, get out the vote and so forth,” Conaway told The Dallas Morning News this week. “Those are foreign actors, foreign people, influencing the vote in Nevada. You don’t hear the Democrats screaming and saying one word about that.”
Asked whether he considers that on par with Russian cyber-intrusions that aimed to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Conaway said: “Sure it is, it’s foreign influence. If we’re worried about foreign influence, let’s have the whole story.”

Sorry, but there is at least one significant difference.  There is no evidence that the musicians or those who hired them did anything illegal.  Hacking computers and servers is a crime.  Getting out the vote is  also legal.    Further, this is like comparing a mountain and a mole hill.  Where do they find these people?

Here's more outrageous quotes by both Dems and Republicans from around the country.  Where do the find these people.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


The Court strengthens the protection of qualified immunity, and sends a cautionary message to U.S. Courts of Appeal.  (P.S.   qualified immunity allows public officials and officers to avoid money damage liability when sued under Title 42 U.S. Code sec. 1983, the main federal civil rights statutes.  Suits under the statute can also be brought in state courts.)


One of the President-elect's Monday morning tweets "claimed that the allegation that he mocked disableD reporter was "more very dishonest media."  http://www.dfw.com/2017/01/09/1166035_overrated-or-not-streeps-speech.html

Take a look at the linked video below and make up your own minds.

(Sorry you'll have to tolerate a 30 second ad)

See also

A Trump look-alike was apparently hired by the media to make Trump look bad.   Our first post-truth President apparently also sometimes loses contact with reality.  I suspect the Trump White House will eventually adopt the paranoid,  siege mentality adopted by the Nixon White House late during Nixon's tenure.

Every once in a great while, Trump admits he was wrong, e.g., finally conceded that Russians hacked the Democrats and gave the info. to WikiLeaks.  We need more of this.

Trump apparently will continue tweeting after he takes office.  Let's hope it doesn't get in the way of his more important duties.

"If you made the assumption that a PR team is handling Donald Trump’s Twitter assaults, you’d be wrong. The incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said that the President-elect’s tweets are his own, and the team never knows when or what he’ll tweet next. He also said that it’s likely that President Trump will continue to tweet while in office, as this offers him a direct way to address the public."

Here comes the scary part parts [by Blogger] from Spicer who apparently doesn't know the difference between statements of fact (e.g.,whether something did or did not happen, and statements of opinion (e.g., "Meryl Street is overrated").

"Spicer also dismissed the idea that Trump tweets randomly, labeling such thinking as misconception. 'He is a very strategic thinker," Spicer said. “He thinks about where things are going to end up.”  [Does it take strategic thinking to  mock a disable reports call Meryl Streep "overated"]
Spicer also said that Trump’s doesn’t have to fact check what he says, and there’s a distinction between Trump’s “right to express his opinion,” and journalists’ duty to the truth.
“It’s one thing to make a statement, but if you’re a journalist, your job is to get that right,” he said, according to The Chicago Tribune.
[Apparently people running for or holding office have no obligation to be truthful]

Looks like we will have our first "post-truth" Presidential press secretary.

I know what Trump defenders are thinking:  all politicians lie and Hillary told lots of lies. Hillary pales in comparison Trump.  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/lists/people/comparing-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-truth-o-met/

It's pathetic that we tolerate this, and vote for these people. What ever happened to person integrity and ethics?  I guess it's OK to murder two people because other people have murdered more than two.  Trumps win sends the signal that honest is no longer important for a candidate. This is a pathetic situation. 

Trump doesn't just lie, he loses contact with reality. See also



Trump is an embarrassment to our great nation and people who really care about honesty and ethics.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


"Less than a year after the sports and entertainment industries turned their backs on North Carolina for passing its so-called bathroom bill, Texas’ lieutenant governor on Thursday helped unveil a legislative proposal that has much of the same intent as North Carolina’s law but appears to include the potential for exceptions for special events.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a conservative Republican and president of the Texas Senate, has been pushing for legislation he said would protect women and children by ensuring that transgender people would have to use public restrooms and locker rooms assigned to their "biological sex" on their birth certificate.
The Texas bill (SB6) contains language that would appear to make it possible for a private organization to determine the bathroom-usage rules at public facilities they rent — the situation that occurs when, for instance, the NCAA signs an agreement to hold the Final Four at a facility such as the Alamodome, which is owned and operated by the City of San Antonio.
Specifically, the bill states that a “private entity that leases or contracts to use a building owned or leased by" a public entity “is not subject to a policy developed under” the bill. In addition, the bill says that the state and various localities “may not require or prohibit a private entity that leases or contracts to use a building owned or leased by” a public entity “from adopting a policy on the designation or use of bathroom or changing facilities located in the building.”

A number of Texas business organizations and state economic development groups are afraid the bill could cost the state millions of dollars.  I don't know if the bills exception will make a difference.  Companies that want to invest in Texas are irrelevant to the exception.  The issue is the big picture of LGBT rights. Stay tuned.


Here's some of the most interesting Supreme Court cases to be decided  in 2017 by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Here's 2 of the most interesting ones.

1.  Transgender bathroom fight at public school
Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.  (to be scheduled)
The Court for the first time takes on the question of transgender rights in the case of Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.
The Justices will consider the appeal of a county school board in Virginia, challenging a federal appeals court ruling that gave a 17-year-old transgender boy a right to use the school restroom that conforms to his gender identity.
Specifically, the order grants review of two questions. One of those is the legality of the federal government’s view that the federal law banning sex bias in federally funded education programs also forbids discrimination based on gender identity. If the final decision does settle that issue, it could be the court’s first major ruling on the transgender rights controversy – the latest dispute over civil rights.
But the second question to be reviewed, if the decision goes against the government position, could make it unlikely the question about transgender rights will be decided. That other question tests whether the government announced its policy on transgender rights in the procedurally proper way. A ruling against the policy declaration would send this case back to the federal appeals court, which had relied on the declaration in ruling in favor of the transgender boy’s rights.

2.  Cross-border killing
Hernández v. Mesa (scheduled for February 21)
The United States Supreme Court said in October it would accept an appeal from the family of a boy from Mexico who was fatally shot by a U.S. Border Patrol officer. Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, 15, died in 2010 as he stood on Mexican soil by a border officer who fired his gun while on United States soil in Texas. The agent claimed Hernandez and others were throwing rocks at him.
Hernandez’s family sued the agent for damages, but in 2015 the Fifth Circuit appeals court said the family had no standing to sue because the teen was a Mexican citizen and not protected by the Fifth Amendment under its Due Process clause or by the Fourth Amendment.  The full appeals court had unanimously ruled in favor of the agent.
The Supreme Court took the appeal and also added a question about determining if the parents had a constitutional right to sue a Border Patrol officer.



Anarchists, anarcho-capitalists and many libertarians have a knee jerk reaction against regulations limiting businesses.  I suspect most of these folks don't know much about economics and apparently have not followed the news which shows harm to the public.   They seem to be unaware that almost all economists accept the reality of negative externalities.
"A negative externality (also called "external cost" or "external diseconomy") is an economic activity that imposes a negative effect on an unrelated third party. It can arise either during the production or the consumption of a good or service.[7] Pollution is termed an externality because it imposes costs on people who are "external" to the producer and consumer of the polluting product.[8] Barry Commoner commented on the costs of externalities:
Clearly, we have compiled a record of serious failures in recent technological encounters with the environment. In each case, the new technology was brought into use before the ultimate hazards were known. We have been quick to reap the benefits and slow to comprehend the costs.[9]
Many negative externalities are related to the environmental consequences of production and use. The article on environmental economics also addresses externalities and how they may be addressed in the context of environmental issues.
Examples for negative production externalities include:
  • Air pollution from burning fossil fuels. This activity causes damages to crops, (historic) buildings and public health.[10][11]
  • Anthropogenic climate change as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, gas, and coal. The Stern Review on the Economics Of Climate Change says "Climate change presents a unique challenge for economics: it is the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen."[12]
  • Water pollution by industries that adds effluent, which harms plants, animals, and humans.
  • Noise pollution during the production process, which may be mentally and psychologically disruptive.
  • Systemic risk: the risks to the overall economy arising from the risks that the banking system takes. A condition of moral hazard can occur in the absence of well-designed banking regulation,[13] or in the presence of badly designed regulation.[14]
  • Negative effects of Industrial farm animal production, including "the increase in the pool of antibiotic-resistant bacteria because of the overuse of antibiotics; air quality problems; the contamination of rivers, streams, and coastal waters with concentrated animal waste; animal welfare problems, mainly as a result of the extremely close quarters in which the animals are housed."[15][16]
  • The depletion of the stock of fish in the ocean due to overfishing. This is an example of a common property resource, which is vulnerable to the Tragedy of the commons in the absence of appropriate environmental governance.
  • In the United States, the cost of storing nuclear waste from nuclear plants for more than 1,000 years (over 100,000 for some types of nuclear waste) is, in principle, included in the cost of the electricity the plant produces in the form of a fee paid to the government and held in the nuclear waste superfund, although much of that fund was spent on Yucca Mountain without producing a solution. Conversely, the costs of managing the long term risks of disposal of chemicals, which may remain hazardous on similar time scales, is not commonly internalized in prices. The USEPA regulates chemicals for periods ranging from 100 years to a maximum of 10,000 years.

The list of business frauds against consumers grows longer every day as does the list of dangerous products, etc. (e.g. dangerous air bags, Wells Fargo Bank scam, dangerous ignition locks, Bhopal.)  Short-term profits and covering up are the primary pursuits of most large businesses.  Other values fall by the wayside.  Criminal prosecution or civil suit after the fact cannot really remedy the damage. 

Check out any of the links here.
https://www.google.com/#q=business+scandals or