Later On

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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Maybe at last we can see some of what was done in our name

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Not the CIA torture tapes, though: those were carefully destroyed. But these photos.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2014 at 1:49 pm

A problem of ignorance: Number of police shootings, homicides

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We simply lack the data. Why? I suspect because police departments do not wish the public to know. Michael Wines describes the lack of reliable statistics regarding police shootings and killings in the NY Times.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2014 at 11:55 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Isn’t this reminiscent of some bungling East-European country in the Soviet days?

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This is just exactly the sort of incompetence and bureaucratic bumbling to protect one’s job at all costs that you see in the early Moscow detective novels by Martin Cruz Smith. It’s the exact same thing, only different language, different time, different country. A translation, of sorts.

And if the deaths in that prison are so bad, I hate to think what their lives are like.

UPDATE: Soviet-style bungling seems to be fairly common. I suppose most of the time the cover-ups work.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2014 at 1:44 pm

The US human rights record domestically: Poor

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Joanna Rothkopf reports in Salon:

The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recently concluded its 85th Session during which time it considered seven state reports, including one on the United States.

The report praised many progressive steps the U.S. has taken to ensure equality, including the termination of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, the adoption of the Fair Sentencing Act and the adoption of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

However, the number of issues the report raises is pretty abominable. CERD expressed concern over the following problems:

  1. Lack of a national human rights institution
  2. Persistent racial profiling and illegal surveillance
  3. Prevalence and under-reporting of racist hate speech and hate crimes
  4. Disparate impact of environmental pollution in low income and minority communities
  5. Restrictive voter identification laws leading to unequal right to vote
  6. Criminalization of homelessness when homeless people are disproportionately minorities
  7. Discrimination and segregation in housing
  8. De facto racial segregation in education
  9. Unequal right to health and access to health care
  10. High number of gun-related deaths and “Stand Your Ground” laws, which disproportionately affect members of racial and ethnic minorities
  11. Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
  12. Increasingly militarized approach to immigration law enforcement
  13. Violence against women occurs disproportionately more frequently for women from racial/ethnic minorities
  14. Criminal justice system disproportionately arrests, incarcerates and subjects to harsher sentences people from racial/ethnic minorities
  15. Youth from racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately prosecuted as adults, incarcerated in adult prisons, and sentenced to life without parole
  16. Non-citizens are arbitrarily detained in Guantanamo Bay without equal access to the criminal justice system, while at risk of being subjected to torture
  17. Unequal access to legal aid
  18. Lacking rights of indigenous peoples (the report lists numerous different concerns)
  19. Absence of a National Action Plan to combat racial discrimination

In a press conference convened Friday, CERD committee vice chairman Noureddine Amir highlighted the death of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2014 at 1:34 pm

What a good free press can do

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In the New Yorker Ken Auletta has an excellent review of journalist Nick Davies’s new book Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch:

When he’s investigating a story, Nick Davies, of the Guardian, has been known to barrage his subjects with phone calls, wait outside their homes or offices, and accost their friends with hard-to-duck questions. Davies, who is sixty-one, works from home, because, he says, “I don’t need a school prefect to stand over me.” He was the indispensible reporter in the revelation of the abuse of power and illegal phone hacking perpetrated by News of the World and the Sun, the London newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. In the midst of the scandal, before the official inquiries and trial juries confirmed the story, I separately asked two senior News Corp. executives, “How accurate was Nick Davies’s reporting?” Given the trouble that their company was in, I was ready for them to try to persuade me that Davies was an irresponsible sensationalist. Instead, each declared, “About ninety-five per cent accurate.”

Now Davies has produced a four-hundred-page ticktock of the scandal, called “Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch.” It’s not Davies’s style to rely on the he-said-she-said or on-one-hand, on-the-other-hand formulations. When he has compelling evidence, as he did against Scotland Yard, Davies is direct:

Something very worrying has been going on at Scotland Yard. We now know that in dealing with the phone-hacking affair at the News of the World, they cut short their original inquiry; suppressed evidence; misled the public and the press; concealed information and broke the law. Why?

Davies collects facts, one brick at a time. He tilts to the left, but he does not lose his balance. When it might be easy to assume that Scotland Yard officers were silent because they feared that the newspapers would expose their extramarital affairs, Davies writes that he found “absolutely no evidence” of this. For too many years, the story that Davies and the Guardian unearthed was ignored by much of the British press. Davies told of how reporters for News of the World routinely tapped phone messages, producing verbatim dialogue that could only have come from illegal intercepts, and yet Murdoch’s editors, whose job it is to monitor a reporter’s sources, professed their innocence.

“A monstering from Murdoch’s droogs is a terrible experience,” Davies writes, going on to describe how, after the former Labour minister Clare Short criticized the Suns daily Page 3 pictures of topless women (which jacked up newsstand sales), the editors launched a campaign to savage Short. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2014 at 11:21 am

“He reached for his waistband, so I shot him dead”

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“Reaching for his waistband” (a VERY odd thing for an unarmed man to do when faced by police with their guns drawn and trained on him) is replacing “made a furtive gesture.”

Radley Balko brings us a refreshing judicial opinion in this article. The closing paragraphs of the article:

Back in March I noted a recent series of police shootings in the San Diego area in which the cops also claimed an unarmed man was reaching for his waistband. A September 2011 investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that in half the cases in which police shot at someone they claimed was reaching for his waistband, the suspect was unarmed. (There was another incident in Long Beach, California, in April.) A 2013 Houston Chronicle investigation found multiple incidents there. There have been other recent “unarmed man reaches for his waistband” shootings in Pierce County, Washington; Pasadena, California; and Portland, Oregon. It’s also the story we heard from BART Officer Johannes Mehserle after he shot and killed Oscar Grant in an Oakland subway station.

I doubt that these cops are gunning people down in cold blood, then using the waistband excuse to justify their bloodlust. It’s likely more a product of inappropriate training. A few years ago, a guy who trains police in the use of lethal force told me that he had grown quite concerned about the direction that training has taken in recent years. He said that police departments are increasingly eschewing training that emphasizes deescalation and conflict resolution for classes that overly emphasize the dangers of the job, teach cops to view every citizen as a potential threat, and focus most of the training on how to justify their actions after the fact to avoid disciplinary action and lawsuits. Other police officials have since expressed similar concerns. This boilerplate language we sometimes see in police reports about unarmed suspects reaching for their waistbands or making “furtive gestures” suggests that this sort of training is having an impact.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2014 at 11:03 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

More news on US as a Police State: Police tase a man for no reason

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In St. Paul, police used a Taser gun on a man because the man is black. Pure and simple.

Fortunately, the man had turned on his cellphone video so we have an audible record of the encounter. No telling how many encounters like this go unreported for lack of evidence. NOTE: Body cameras should be REQUIRED of all uniformed officers, and the missing-video presumption should apply. (Missing-video presumption: if the police cannot produce a video that should be available but has been “lost” or “accidentally” erased or whatever, then the presumption is that the video corroborates the account given by the defendant—which does seem a safe presumption.)

Here’s one account (with video) and here’s another. Both make good points, and the comments are interesting.

A few notes from the comments to the above:

DaveM48 writes:

By law, in Minnesota, one is not required to show identification to a police officer unless one is actively suspected of a crime (which includes traffic stops). “Your papers, please” is not supposed to be in the vocabulary of any law enforcement officer. That said, you stand on your rights at your peril. One must ask, in such situations, whether the game is worth the candle.

One is perfectly free, in a situation like this, to ask “am I being detained?” which would be the only circumstance under which showing identification can be compelled. Unfortunately, the answer is all too likely to be “yes”, and they’ll make up something when you get to the station. . .

Wesley Sandel writes:

“Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529. The Court stated: “Where the officer is killed in the course of the disorder which naturally accompanies an attempted arrest that is resisted, the law looks with very different eyes upon the transaction, when the officer had the right to make the arrest, from what it does if the officer had no right. What may be murder in the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the facts might show that no offense had been committed.”

“An arrest made with a defective warrant, or one issued without affidavit, or one that fails to allege a crime is within jurisdiction, and one who is being arrested, may resist arrest and break away. lf the arresting officer is killed by one who is so resisting, the killing will be no more than an involuntary manslaughter.” Housh v. People, 75 111. 491; reaffirmed and quoted in State v. Leach, 7 Conn. 452; State v. Gleason, 32 Kan. 245; Ballard v. State, 43 Ohio 349; State v Rousseau, 241 P. 2d 447; State v. Spaulding, 34 Minn. 3621.

Finally, a legitimate reason to carry a gun.

Here’s the video:

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2014 at 8:59 am

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