Recently in Humor Category

Judge Alcee Hastings, Living in Sackcloth

In his ten years (1979-1989) as a federal District Judge, Alcee Hastings did "sentencing reform" the old-fashioned way:  He accepted bribes for lower sentences. This is the story in a nutshell:

In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case. In 1983, he was acquitted by a jury after his alleged co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify in court (resulting in a jail sentence for Borders).

In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413-3. He was then convicted in 1989 by the United States Senate (also controlled by the Democrats), becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate.

But Judge Hastings is a superb politician, and got himself elected to Congress in 1992.  He's still there  --  but as he tells us, just getting by.

The Supreme Court of La Mancha, in a decision announced by Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, found that Don Quixote, alias Alonso Quixana, does not require a guardian. Kali Borkowski reports for SCOTUSblog on the proceedings at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Rey v. Quixote

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Don Quixote goes on trial tonight at the Annual Mock Trial & Dinner of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington.  Justice Ginsburg presides with a five-judge panel including Justice Breyer.  Thomas Goldstein represents the schizophrenic knight in shining armor.  Carter Phillips is listed as Counsel for the Family Court.

Update:  Turns out this was a guardianship case, not a criminal case, so the caption above isn't strictly correct.  See follow-up post.

Rob Your Bank with Instagram

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In a world where the Justice Department is on a tear against the police, and "scientists" want us to believe that a college student has insufficient brain development to understand that it's wrong to blow up little boys, we can all use some amusement.

Here it is.

I have often said that the real reason suspects give statements to the police is not coercion, either explicit or subtle.  Mostly it's that they think they can talk their way out of it. A significant portion, however, is just the old stand-by:  Human beings like to talk about themselves, and criminals are human beings.

The advent of social media has made this tendency even more pronounced, so now we have bank robbers essentially doing selfies.
There are reasons to vote for, and reasons to vote against, the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General.  Kent and I have discussed the question in several places.  

Kent has noted that Ms. Lynch, while not an ideal candidate from the perspective of those favoring resolute enforcement of criminal law, is about the best we can expect from this Administration.  I have expressed more than a little concern about Ms. Lynch's complicity is what she could not help knowing was perverse, and  -- much more troubling  --  unethical behavior by Judge John Gleeson.  On the other hand, I am favorably impressed with her refusal to adopt the liberal line on pot.

The vote on her nomination has not yet been taken in the Senate.  For whatever one might make of the procedural maneuvers involved, today we saw the announcement of an unusual but some might say compelling reason to delay the vote for weeks. Maybe months.

The Congress-following paper The Hill has the story.

How to misattribute a quotation

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Alexandra Petri has this amusing column in the WaPo. Love that flowchart.

One of my favorite quotes is, "It's not what we don't know that gets us in trouble; it's what we know for a fact that just ain't so."  Do I know for a fact that Will Rogers said that? Um, no.  Not Mark Twain either.

The Boston Bombing Trial Defense Rests

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The Boston Globe begins its story:

After 15 days of victims recounting their injuries, experts testifying about explosives and terrorism, and witnesses detailing the deaths of three people in the Boston Marathon bombings, the defense team of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had its turn to make a case.

It was over in six hours.

Defense counsel has been understandably circumspect in dealing with the press. Still, in an exclusive to this author, counsel gave a brief statement:

In the guilt phase of the trial, there wasn't a lot we could do.  We've been preparing for what we expect will be the penalty phase.

What's needed is to humanize the client, to show he's not a monster. That's where we've been aiming.  Still, it's not been without trouble. In the months we've been working with Mr. Tsarnaev, it's become clear that he's a narcissistic brat.  Not only did he never deny planting the bomb, he's proud of it. He's told us that America had it coming for its treatment of Muslims. When his brother broached the idea, he couldn't have been more enthusiastic. He thinks the little boy he blew up was just one more infidel.  To make things worse, he was headed toward an arrogant life of White Privilege. He was so spoiled he even wanted to play Little League. Can you imagine?

The reason I'm willing to discuss these things is that I think it's important for lawyers to tell the truth, be fully forthcoming, and not try to hoodwink anyone. I mean, this is about justice, right?"

Pi Day

An off-topic note for math geeks.



Too Good to Pass Up

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I will just let this item from today's Washington Post speak for itself:

Some snickered and wondered if Del. Joseph D. Morrissey might have had a conflict of interest Wednesday when he voted against a bill to keep "obscene materials" out of the hands of prison inmates.

Morrissey (I-Henrico) has been spending his nights in jail since before the start of the current legislative session, on a misdemeanor charge related to his relationship with a 17-year-old receptionist at his law office.

The lawmaker, who won reelection literally from his jail cell and has since been charged with four felonies on top of the earlier charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, has caused much hand-wringing and consternation in Mr. Jefferson's Capitol.


Morrissey has a long history of legal skirmishes, starting 20 years ago with a courthouse fistfight.

In June, he was charged with multiple felonies for allegedly having sex with the young woman and sharing nude photos of her. Morrissey and the woman, now pregnant with a child prosecutors say is "perhaps" his, have denied any wrongdoing and blamed the woman's ex-girlfriend for hacking their phones to frame them.

Morrissey agreed to a plea deal in which he admitted no guilt but avoided conviction on the felony charges....A second indictment unsealed in January alleges that Morrissey, 57, submitted a forged document as evidence and lied under oath in the earlier case.

The phrase "you can't make this up" hardly suffices.

Interparty Dating

From the Daily Show, off-topic but very funny.
I noted in my last post that President Obama erred in suggesting that crime and incarceration had both decreased for the first time in forty years.  The statistics are not yet in for 2014, and if the President was meaning to refer to 2013 (or any other year of his Presidency, for that matter), he was mistaken.

Six Supreme Court Justices attended the SOTU, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The tradition is that Justices do not react during the speech, lest they be thought to be expressing either approval or dissent from what the head of the Executive Branch is saying. (Although sometimes the temptation is too much for a truth-insistent Justice to resist).

Justice Ginsburg did a first-rate job of keeping faith with that tradition.

Self-Help For Package Theft

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Christin Ayers reports for KPIX, San Francisco:

A Vallejo homeowner fed up with package thefts from his front porch left a stinky surprise boxed up for the thief with a little help from his dog.
This article in the Georgetown student newspaper, written by a student who "understands" why he was mugged, is a parody.

I mean, it is a parody, right?

Will someone tell me it's a parody?


How A Bill Becomes Law, Revised

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Saturday Night Live updates a Schoolhouse Rock civics classic.

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