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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Hard to believe: Police chief in Rohnert Park CA

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From Radley Balko’s links today:

Police in Rohnert Park, Calif., raid the home of a man who posted critical comments about them online. The police chief says the raid came after someone called 911 to report a woman screaming inside the man’s home, but there was no woman, and the chief now refuses to release the recording of the 911 call.

More links here.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 August 2015 at 6:27 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

Judge Halts Unconstitutional Ban on Juror Rights Education

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Very good news indeed, in a press release from the Fully Informed Jury Association. It’s hard to understand why the government would take action to prevent informing people of their rights.

Helena, MT—A federal court today issued an Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction, effectively gutting paragraph 1 of a recently issued administrative order against juror rights educators sharing information at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse Plaza in Denver, Colorado. Paragraph 1 still applies to the landscaping and gravel area of the plaza, but juror rights educators should be able to share FIJA brochures and verbal jury nullification information for general educational purposes with people in other areas of the plaza without fear of arrest.

FIJA joined with co-plaintiffs Eric Verlo and Janet Matzen of Occupy Denver in filing a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent further arrests for general juror rights educational outreach after juror rights educators Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt were arrested and charged with seven felony counts each of jury tampering for sharing jury nullification information outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in July.

Shortly thereafter, Judge Michael Martinez issued a heavy-handed order prohibiting a broad array of expressive activities in areas outside the Courthouse that constitute a traditional public forum for free speech, and the plaintiffs amended their motion to challenge this sweeping violation of the First Amendment as well.

“We are thrilled with this timely victory for both free speech and juror rights education,” says FIJA Executive Director Kirsten Tynan. “Jury Rights Day commemorates the notable jury nullification case of William Penn, who was arrested for just the sort of peaceful, expressive activity that Judge Michael Martinez attempted to ban outside of Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. His acquittal by conscientious jurors—who would not obey even when a judge who ordered them to find Penn guilty proceeded to imprison them without food and water—was foundational to our legal ability to conduct juror rights outreach at this Courthouse still today. We look forward to celebrating Jury Rights Day at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver next week.”

FIJA will join with Occupy Denver in celebrating Jury Rights Day on Friday, September 4 on the plaza outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver. Each year since 1991, FIJA has rallied juror rights educators nationwide for educational outreach at courthouses and other appropriate locations on and around September 5, known as Jury Rights Day. Jury Rights Day commemorates the famous jury nullification case of the trial of William Penn and William Mead in 1670, which anchored in English common law and U.S. jurisprudence the right of the jury to deliver verdicts from conscience without being punished, as well as our rights to freedom of speech, association, and religion.

On this day of celebration and commemoration, juror educators will create many fully informed jurors who understand and are prepared to act on the knowledge that:

  • Jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts.
  • Jurors have the right to deliver a general verdict and are not required to explain the reason for their verdict.
  • Jurors have the legal authority and the ethical duty to consult their consciences and to render a just verdict, even if it requires setting aside the law and voting Not Guilty when strictly enforcing the law would be unjust.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 August 2015 at 10:37 am

Posted in Law

The Wisconsin water-fight reminds me of all those treaties we made with Indians “as long as grass shall grow and water run” and then broke

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When the going gets tough, the tough ignore what they had agreed to. Monica Davey has a very interesting report in the NY Times of an opening salvo in the war for fresh water.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2015 at 3:34 pm

Interesting reflections on the Ashley-Madison hack

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By Spocko at Hullabaloo:

Hey, did you read that Josh Duggar was on the Ashley Madison list? And it wasn’t a fake email address either! He confirmed it!

I know that some people get a feeling of joy or pleasure seeing Duggar suffer more misfortune. That’s nice for them. But with all the genuine suffering that this exposure will be causing innocents, can we at least get something good out of it?

The media are already using it for their headlines, therapists and divorce lawyers will be using it to get new clients. But can we get more out of this hack than media hits and billable hours?

We know that some people use disasters to profit, others to push an agenda. “We are going to turn Iraq into a free market paradise using these Heritage Foundation interns!”

I propose we have a couple of items to push on our agenda.

First, increase the importance of privacy in both private governments and corporations. Second, use this data to show the problem with passing judgement on the private lives of ordinary people.

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his piece, The Puritanical Glee Over the Ashley Madison Hack,

[None of us should cheer when the private lives of ordinary people are indiscriminately invaded, no matter how much voyeuristic arousal or feelings of moral superiority it provides. We love to think of ourselves as so progressive and advanced, yet so often leap at the opportunity to intervene and wallow around in, and sternly pass judgment on, the private sexual choices of other adults.

But, what are the concrete things we can change beyond trying to change attitudes? [Emphasis added, since this is key: What to do, specifically? – LG] How about a focus on . . .

Continue reading.

It is in fact a well-thought-out list of specific, concrete steps. Well worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2015 at 2:50 pm

The Black Lives Matter policy agenda is practical, thoughtful — and urgent

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Very interesting, and it has the potential to make a big difference. Radley Balko reports in the Washington Post:

Last week, the leaders of Black Lives Matter* released a series of policy solutions to address police killings, excessive force, profiling and racial discrimination, and other problems in law enforcement, called “Campaign Zero.” Critics and police organizations have portrayed Black Lives Matter as radical, anti-police, and anti-white. But the policies Campaign Zero is pushing are none of those things. Instead, they’re practical, well-thought out, and in most cases, achievable. Most will also directly benefit everyone — not just black people.

In most cases, the policies Campaign Zero is suggesting are already in place in one or more police departments across the country, and Campaign Zero points this out. That’s smart, and I suspect that it will prove to be effective. It makes it more difficult for police groups to portray those proposals as “anti-cop.” But it also makes it easier to pitch those ideas to policymakers and the public. They’ve already been field-tested. As a set, these policies are more a list of “best practices” than revolutionary reform. A few of the proposals will be a tougher sell, but even those are far short of world-shaking. There are no calls to disarm the police. No calls to abolish law enforcement agencies. No demands that police unions be prohibited. This isn’t a fervid manifesto. It’s a serious effort to solve a problem. (Its practicality is undoubtedly born of urgency. There’s no time for wild-eyed ideology when people are dying.)

This isn’t criticism, but praise. These are proposals that will almost certainly have an impact, even if only some of them are implemented. The ideas here are well-researched, supported with real-world evidence and ought to be seriously considered by policymakers at all levels of government.

Here’s a quick rundown: . . .

Continue reading.

A step taken with hope, and a good hope: something that will help us all. And, as Balko points out, these are not mere aspirations, these are things actually being done in some police departments. It’s totally possible.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2015 at 1:23 pm

LAPD now emphasizes that police are community guardians, not warriors on crime

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A very good sign, I think. Kate Mather reports in the LA Times:

For years, Los Angeles police officers have worked under the shadow of the department’s dark past.

The LAPD of the 1970s and ’80s acted as a hard-charging, occupying force that raided poor neighborhoods and rounded up anyone in sight. Police stormed suspected crack houses, tearing down walls with a tank-like battering ram. Officers of that era were trained to think of themselves as soldiers in a never-ending war on crime.

But now the department is using that notorious history as a crucial lesson for its officers.

“We were warriors,” Deputy Chief Bill Scott recently told a room filled with LAPD rank-and-file officers, a group of fresh-faced rookies watching from the front.

Now, he said, officers need to think of themselves as guardians watching over communities — not warriors cracking down on them.

“That means if we’ve got to take somebody to jail, we’ll take them to jail,” Scott said. “But when we need to be empathetic and we need to be human, we’ve got to do that too.”

The message is one the LAPD is drilling into its officers in training that has been rolled out in recent weeks, part of a national movement to change law enforcement at a time when policing tactics are under increased public scrutiny.

Departments across the country are taking steps to replace the warrior mentality with a different approach, one that emphasizes protection over suppression, patience instead of zero tolerance. It’s a fundamental shift, one that could affect issues such as how often officers fire their guns and the way they walk down the street.

After decades of training that focused mostly on firearms and force, agencies from Seattle to New York are introducing what they call de-escalation training, which looks at ways officers can reduce tension and potentially avoid using force during encounters with the public.

The LAPD training comes as several police shootings have strained relationships that the department is carefully trying to cultivate with the same communities that bore the brunt of its old heavy-handed approach. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2015 at 5:29 pm

The only town in America (so far) where cops grant amnesty to drug addicts seeking help

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In the Washington Post Terrence McCoy has an inspiring story about a police initiative to help addicts:

The coastal Massachusetts town of Gloucester was in the middle of a quiet Friday evening this March when a phone call disturbed the police chief relaxing at home. Another deadly heroin overdose had just hit the city, the chief learned. It marked Gloucester’s fourth that year. Leonard Campanello put down the phone. He turned the grim math over in his head — four deaths, three months, in a city of 30,000 people.

Then Campanello, a stout commander who more growls than talks, stood up and rumbled over to the computer. He’s the sort of police chief who maintains an active presence on social media. He posts frequent “Gloucester Police Chief Updates” — episodic fireside chats delivered from his desk — to the police department’s Facebook page. Most of those remarks barely ripple — a dozen ‘likes’ at most.

But that was about to change. “Since January of this year, we have responded to dozens of opiate-related overdoses and, unfortunately, the City has seen 4 deaths in this time that are heroin related,” he wrote, adding: “4 deaths is 4 too many.” Then in a moment Campanello now recalls as extemporaneous, he continued. “If you are a user of opiates or heroin, let us help you. We know you do not want this addiction. We have resources here in the City that can and will make a difference in your life. Do not become a statistic.”

The response was staggering. The post collected 1,226 “likes” and more page views than there were people in the city. It was then Campanello knew he was onto something. The community, he said, was hungry for different ideas. The number of heroin-related overdoses quadrupled between 2002 and 2013, when more than 8,200 people died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The trend has hit Massachusetts — and Gloucester — especially hard.

“The war on drugs is over,” Campanello said in an interview. “And we lost. There is no way we can arrest our way out of this. We’ve been trying that for 50 years. We’ve been fighting it for 50 years, and the only thing that has happened is heroin has become cheaper and more people are dying.”

So he started making calls. He got in touch with the local mayor. He wanted to talk about a plan that experts say is unique across the country — and would ultimately bring a national debate over the criminalization of addicts to this small, coastal town. It was simple, Campanello said. He didn’t want to arrest more drug addicts battling what he calls the “disease of addiction.” He’d been doing that for too long. Seven years he spent as a narcotics officer, watching drugs or the system swallow families.

He now wanted to turn Gloucester’s police station into an oasis of amnesty in the drug addict’s perilous world. No heroin addict who entered the police seeking help — unless they had outstanding warrants — would face charges or arrest. Even if they toted their drugs and paraphernalia. Instead, they would get help. “Our argument was you don’t cut off the head of the snake,” he said. “You cut off its food chain.”In another Facebook post in early May, he laid it out. “Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, etc) or drugs and asks for help with NOT be charged,” he wrote. “Instead, we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an “angel” who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot.”

No one was quite sure what would happen. Think about it, said communications director John Guilfoil. The chief was asking a bunch of addicts who until that point had violated the law to suddenly walk into the police station — armed with drugs. It was crazy. It was madness. It worked.

The post collected more than 30,000 “likes,” an additional 30,000 shares and millions of clicks, the chief said. Things then happened fast. The force opened a non-profit called the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. Addicts started flooding the police station — dozens of them. And reporters arrived to a curious sight of cops greeting addicts rather than charging them.

“A reporter asked one of my officers last night, ‘Do you see a common thread in all addicts?’ one Facebook post said. “Without hesitation, the officer responded: ‘Absolutely. They’re all human beings.”

The chief approached a local CVS to talk about a drug that reverses overdoses.  Nasal Narcan administers a burst of a drug that binds with the brain’s opiate receptors and can reverse an overdose. Without insurance, it costs $140. But Campanello told the CVS about the agency’s new program, and it lowered the cost to $20 per pack. He then started providing it to the addicts for free. “The police department will pay the cost of the Nasal Narcan for those without insurance,” Campanello wrote in a post. “We will pay for it with money seized from drug dealers during investigations. We will save lives with the money from the pockets of those who take them.”So far, Campanello said, 109 addicts have sought help at the police station. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2015 at 8:30 am

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