Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A vivid example of why self-policing does not work… and note

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Note, BTW, how the security apparatus takes it as given that it should be self-policing. Thus, the absolute outrage on Brennan’s part that the Senate Committee that looked into the US torture program: “It’s none of their business!” And his outright lies—indeed his very appointment, such a strange choice for one of Obama’s rhetoric, but making sense when you think it may have been forced on him by the security apparatus, which doubtless admires Brennan. The security apparatus must be self-policing because outsiders (a) don’t have the security clearances to even know the facts of any case, and (b) do not understand or fully grasp the requirements of the job, of how sometimes you have to make hard choices, and you really cannot always follow the law, and in an emergency torture is okay because they’ve seen numerous vivid examples of how, in the service of good, it’s okay to torture people you suspect may be involved in wrongdoing if you’re pretty sure they are—but we’ll find out, won’t we? (See earlier post of how fiction is remembered as reality.)

Well, self-policing doesn’t seem to work, at least for judges. Jordan Smith writes at The Intercept:

Judge Edith Jones is no stranger to controversy. The 65-year-old jurist has served since 1985 on the notoriously fractious 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and is known for her conservative and often controversial opinions. She’s decided that a sleeping lawyer isn’t necessarily a bad one for a criminal defendant to have, claimed that bankruptcy filings have increased because of a “decline in personal shame,” and said that the legal system is corrupt in part because it has strayed from its religious underpinnings.

But it was a speech at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law last year that earned her a formal ethics complaint, filed by several Texas civil rights groups and a group of nationally known legal ethicists. In that speech to an audience of law students—billed as a federal death penalty “review”—Jones allegedly made a host of improper and racist statements that, according to the complainants, violated her duty to be impartial and damaged public confidence in the judiciary. According to multiple affidavits, Jones said, among other things, that minorities are more “prone” to commit violent crimes (when questioned about this, Jones hedged, saying she was talking about statistics and that, “sadly,” blacks and Hispanics commit more violent crimes than do others); that Hispanic nationals would rather be on death rows in the U.S. than in Mexican prisons (even though Mexico has outlawed the death penalty); and that questions of racism, mental retardation, and even actual innocence are simply “red herrings” raised by defense attorneys interested only in helping heinous murderers to avoid execution.

To bolster that last point, Jones allegedly said that inmates freed from death sentences have been released not because they were innocent, but because of “technicalities”—including cases where prosecutors hid evidence favorable to the defense—and offered an odd analogy, noting that “there were just as many innocent people killed in drone strikes as innocent people executed for crimes,” according to several affidavits.

Just as controversial as Jones’ statements, however, was the conclusion of a panel of federal judges who reviewed the sworn complaint: Since no one actually recorded her speech, the panel found, there was no way to prove that Jones actually said any of the things she’s alleged to have said—even though some of the statements did indeed violate federal judicial ethics rules. Jones declined to comment for this story.

The opinion, released in mid-October, is a remarkable work of circular logic that calls into question whether the federal judiciary is capable of policing itself. The process for investigating the ethical lapses of federal judges is deliberately opaque and secretive, and it lacks the due process guarantees underpinning the justice system that those judges are charged with administering—leaving complainants unable to monitor or participate in the disciplinary process, let alone understand how decisions are made within it. In 2013, 99 percent of the more than 1,000 complaints against judges considered for action were simply dismissed.

On paper, the judicial review process is fairly straightforward: . . .

Continue reading. There’s lots more—several more examples. Self-policing does not work: it is set up to fail—all the natural social responses work against it. Why is that not perfectly obvious?

The Judiciary should not pretend that it can be investigator and jury and judge—of any group, they should know that does not work. And of any group, they should recognize the quite obvious conflict of interest, the intense institutional pressure to avoid scandal, and so on. You’d think the Judiciary, of all people, would recognize the obvious need for a disinterested investigation by an independent prosecutor. You’d think.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 November 2014 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

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