Recently in Notorious Cases Category

Another shooting, this one from a remote area of Northern California.  Jim Schultz reports for the Record Searchlight in Redding.

Five people are dead, including the suspect, in a mass shooting at and around a school some 15 miles southwest of Red Bluff, where at least another 10 people have been hospitalized -- some of them children.
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The Rancho Tehama Reserve -- a subdivision home to about 1,485 people -- is described on its website as a "quiet private country community" located 12 miles west of Interstate 5 between Red Bluff and Corning. The community is a place "where people are friendly and the pace is relaxed," the website reads.
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Resident Brian Flint said he got a call in the morning that his roommate was injured and that his truck had been stolen. It turned out his neighbor was the gunman, Flint said.

"The crazy thing is that the neighbor has been shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines," Flint said. "We made it aware that this guy is crazy and he's been threatening us."

Living near the gunman was "hell," Flint said, and the man was a known felon who often harassed him and his neighbors.

If the as-yet-unidentified man was a known felon and neighbors notified law enforcement that he was armed, shooting hundreds of rounds, and threatening people, why wasn't he in jail?  It is much too early to point fingers, of course, but this is a question that needs answering.

Update:  Fox News reports that the murderer was Kevin Neal, who was free on bail after stabbing his neighbor last January.  Since then neighbors had reported several times to police that he had been firing guns in his yard.  The day before the shooting rampage, police had responded to his home on a domestic violence call.  Domestic violence is not considered a serious crime under California's Realignment.  In a different state, It is likely that he would have been in jail for his prior offenses and illegal possession of firearms.     

The Legal Profession Enabling Rape, Part II

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In this entry, I took issue with lawyers who write non-disclosure agreements (NDA's) to furnish to clients for the purpose of helping them muzzle women they have sexually abused or, sometimes, outright raped.  The Harvey Weinstein scandal was the occasion for that entry.

Things have gotten worse.  Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story about a previously very highly regarded lawyer, David Boies, who  --  to translate the somewhat opaque language in which the story is written  --  hired a "private investigative firm" to dig up dirt on one of Weinstein's numerous victims in order to bludgeon her into silence.

The reason the Times is angry about this, as it full well has a right to be, is that Boies was trying to prevent the Times, which was at the time also a client of his, from getting what would have been a fantastic scoop.  The Times is correct in viewing this as a betrayal.

But to my way of thinking, there is something else much more appalling about Boies' behavior:  It's another instance of a lawyer's not merely seeking, through a contractual clause, to suppress truthful information about his client's vile (and criminal) behavior, but of promoting a blackmail scheme to threaten the victim.

"Zealous advocacy," embrace your true name.


First Do No Harm?

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This story just keeps getting weirder.  Friday, Sen. Rand Paul, a medical doctor, was attacked by a neighbor, who is also a doctor.  The extent of his injuries and the reason for the altercation is a story that keeps dribbling out.

Manafort Indicted

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Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Weber report for the WSJ:

WASHINGTON--Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was taken into custody Monday on charges that he laundered more than $18 million in funds from his work for a pro-Russia party in Ukraine through offshore accounts.

In a separate plea deal in court documents that were unsealed Monday, George Papadopoulos, a foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign, admitted to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with a professor connected to Russian government officials.

The Legal Profession, Enabling Rape

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I haven't said anything up to now about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the multiple sexual assault scandal that's enveloping him, and  --  much more importantly  --  the Holier-Than-Thou entertainment industry culture of which he has been a mainstay for decades.  As with the narrative we often hear repeated in court, the rapist, Mr. Weinstein,  isn't the victimizer; he's the victim  --  the victim of an environment of indulgence, excessive drinking, "sex addiction" and so forth.

For generations, this way of thinking has massively contributed to, and excused, rape.  Indeed, rape has been all but accepted in Hollywood with the blase' phrase "casting couch," which was (and remains) a euphemism for powerful men forcing sex on women (or, in the case of director Roman Polanski, girls).

Of course, the enabling has its defenders and facilitators, to wit, lawyers.  The legal profession's stultifying self-justification towards its own "standards," and snickering indifference to victims, is all too obvious in this article from the very aptly named Above the Law.

LAPD Investigating Harvey Weinstein

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Richard Winton and Victoria Kim report for the LA Times:

An Italian model-actress met with Los Angeles police detectives for more than two hours Thursday morning, providing a detailed account of new allegations that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her at a hotel in 2013.

She is the sixth woman to accuse Weinstein of rape or forcible sex acts. Los Angeles police Capt. Billy Hayes confirmed that the department has launched an investigation into the matter.

It is the first case related to Weinstein to be reported in Southern California. New York police already have two active sex crime probes and London's Metropolitan Police is investigating allegations made by three women.

Collateral Consequences

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Some companies are largely driven by one person or a small number of people.  What happens to a company when one of those people turns out to be a serial sexual harasser and possibly a rapist?  Ben Fritz reports for the WSJ:

Weinstein Co. is exploring a sale or shutdown and is unlikely to continue as an independent entity, a person close to the company said.

The film and television studio's board of directors has been talking to possible buyers as it mulls how to move forward after firing co-chairman Harvey Weinstein on Sunday amid dozens of accusations against him of sexual assault and harassment.
I hope they find a buyer.  It would unfortunate if regular working folks found themselves unemployed due to a company collapse.

The Pride of Columbia Law

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I've often published entries here questioning top-ranked law schools, Manhattan liberals, and the media for their carefree bias, breathtaking mendacity, and phony "compassion."  Some might think I've overdone it.

I thus submit this most recent example of just how bad it is:  The former (as of a couple of days ago) vice-president and senior counsel for CBS was hurriedly let go after she published on her Facebook page that she was, "not even sympathetic" to victims of the Las Vegas rampage because "country music fans often are Republican..." 

This lady's name, as reported in the story, is Hayley Geftman-Gold.  She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (full disclosure:  so was my father) and Columbia Law School, two of the most prestigious schools in the country.  

Ms. Geftman-Gold is a wonderfully apt representative of what has gone wrong. I won't even get into the vileness of her statements.  More interesting, because more revealing, is the deceitfulness of the damage control and, yes, the startling stupidity of Ms. Geftman-Gold's original (and only authentic) remark.

The Chokehold Issue

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Barry Latzer has this article in City Journal on the Eric Garner case.

This is a classic situation of the law as written versus the law as applied. Legally speaking, to hold Panataleo accountable for a chokehold smacks of an ex post facto law (or its due-process equivalent): punishment for acts not clearly prohibited at the time that they occurred. Or, to use a sports analogy, penalizing Pantaleo for this offense would be moving the goalposts. Because the Garner case, tragically, led to a death, and because it was racially charged and heavily covered in the media, Pantaleo faces sanctions for conduct that has not been seriously punished in the last two and a half decades. And that's simply unfair.

The Las Vegas Shooter

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William Wan, Sandhya Somashekhar, Aaron C. Davis and Barbara Liston have this story in the WaPo on the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock.  He seems to be something of an odd duck, but there is no indication of what would have driven him to mass murder/suicide.

An Officer Doing His Job

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Barry Latzer, Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has this article at City Journal.

The case against Pantaleo rests on the supposed chokehold that he used to make the arrest. He never sought to choke Garner to death, or even injure him. He was doing his job, taking a resisting man to the ground, as NYPD regulations provide. Had Garner been cooperative, as the officers requested, the confrontation would never have happened. "We can do this the easy way or the hard way," Pantaleo's partner had told him.
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Police should not be afraid to carry out their duties. The Pantaleo case tells cops that, even if they're just doing their job, they can't count on institutional support if the incident becomes a media sensation. New York City's safety, like that of any city, depends on police feeling secure in performing their duties. It's time to end Officer Pantaleo's ordeal. NYPD chief James O'Neill and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should step up to the plate and dismiss the unwarranted charges against him.

Liberals Discover Problems with Clemency

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For years on this blog, I have campaigned against scattershot clemency for federal felons. While there is without doubt a place for clemency, and the Framers were wise to make it available to the Executive Branch, it can also be abused  --  as my liberal critics suddenly discovered over the weekend.  This was after years of their telling us that America needs to be a land of mercy and second chances, that we're too quick to look to punishment rather than understanding, there's an inherent political influence in prosecution and sentencing, and that older people in particular are good bets to remain in (or to be returned to) the community, because they're unlikely to re-offend and, well, simply because it's inhumane to incarcerate the elderly.

If anyone heard liberals repeat a single word of this years-long refrain in connection with Sheriff Joe, please quote it and link to it.  I sure haven't.

Pardoning Sheriff Joe

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President Trump pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio Friday, as he hinted he would at the earlier rally in Phoenix.  Arpaio was the Sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.  Shane Harris has this article in the WSJ on the divided reaction within the Republican Party.  The WSJ also has this editorial on the negative side of the reaction.

Retaining Counsel With Dirty Money

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Nicole Hong reports for the WSJ, "Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, the Mexican drug lord awaiting trial in New York, wants to hire private lawyers. But they may have to join the case without any assurance of getting paid."

Guzmán is presently represented by the federal defender.  His potential private lawyers want "blanket, prospective assurance" from the government that the money he uses to pay them won't be forfeited.  The government, unsurprisingly, said "fuggedaboudit," or something to that effect.

See this post from last year on the Supreme Court's fractured decision in Luis v. United States and Dean Mazzone's article that I linked to yesterday.  Continuing with the WSJ article:

Mr. Guzmán wants to hire a team led by Jeffrey Lichtman, most well-known for securing an acquittal for John A. Gotti, son of the notorious mob boss. The team also includes A. Eduardo Balarezo, William Purpura and Marc Fernich, all of whom have had experience defending mobsters or drug traffickers.
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"This is still America. The man deserves not only his choice of counsel, but he deserves a fair trial," Mr. Lichtman said.
Um, yes, this is still America, but a defendant does not have, and never has had in this country, a choice of counsel he does not have the money to pay for.  Indigent defendants get the counsel they are appointed.  Is the rule any different for a defendant who has money obtained illegally and forfeitable to the government?  No, but tracing the money can get complicated.

As for the right to a fair trial, is every trial in which the defendant is represented by a public defender inherently unfair?  I don't think so.

Evil or Crazy?

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When a shocking incident such as the Charlottesville car-murder occurs, we have to wonder if the perpetrator is evil or crazy.  Six years ago, Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded many others at a congressional event in Tucson, Arizona, and most people initially believed it was an act of political terrorism.  It turned out Loughner was floridly schizophrenic.

From the picture emerging out of Virginia, it appears that James Fields is mostly evil but maybe a little crazy.  Dake Kang and Sarah Rankin have this story for AP.  Along with being an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, it appears that he beat his own mother and threatened her with a knife.  He also was diagnosed with schizophrenia at one point, but it does not appear so far that his mental illness was on the same scale as Loughner's.

Bill argues in this post that the crime calls for the death penalty.  At this point, Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, which would preclude that sentence.  The charge could be upgraded as further facts develop, however.  Stay tuned.

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