Patterico's Pontifications

7/31/2003

THE “F” WORD: For those

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:21 am

THE “F” WORD: For those of you who are not offended by reading something that contains literally dozens of instances of the “F” word, I commend to you this legal document available at The Smoking Gun web site, which collects legal documents of interest.

The document in question is the winner of the site’s award for 2003 Legal Document of the Year. It is a motion to dismiss a disorderly conduct charge against a Colorado teenager, for his use of the “F” word and numerous variants to cuss out his school principal. As the Smoking Gun describes it, the motion “is an amusing and profane look at the world’s favorite four-letter word, from its origins in 1500 to today’s frequent use of the term by Eminem, Chris Rock, and Lenny Kravitz.” Patterico agrees with the Smoking Gun that perhaps the best part of the document is “the chart comparing Google results for the ‘F’ word and other all-American terms.”

According to the site, the motion was never argued. The kid cut a plea bargain that will earn him a dismissal if he stays out of trouble for four months. Still, this motion is [predictable expletive deleted]ing hilarious.

7/30/2003

RESPONSE ON THE OLIVERIO MARTINEZ

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:57 pm

RESPONSE ON THE OLIVERIO MARTINEZ CASE: On May 28 and 29, I wrote about the distortion of the facts of a Supreme Court case by the Los Angeles Times. You can read my complaints in detail in my May 28 post, which you can access here, and my May 29 post, which you can access here. Those posts provide the detail of my complaints, which I will summarize more briefly here.

In a nutshell, the Times had written about a guy named Oliverio Martinez who had gotten into a confrontation with police, was shot, and is paralyzed. Martinez was questioned by police while in the hospital. He sued police for questioning him without first reading him his rights, and for shooting him. The paper explained that police claimed that Martinez had grabbed an officer’s gun, which is why they shot Martinez. Martinez denies grabbing the gun. What the paper didn’t tell its readers, in the main story or in a companion puff piece about Martinez, was that Martinez had admitted to police on tape that he had grabbed the gun. Not only did this fact go unreported, but in an editorial, the Times claimed that police had interviewed Martinez and “got nothing useful.” I wrote the Times‘s editor to complain.

Today, I got a response from the “reader representative.” This led to a brief exchange of e-mails between that individual and myself. I would like to share the entire correspondence with you, the reader. This will be a long post, so if you’re not interested in the issue, don’t worry about it.

Here is the e-mail I got today:

“Your letter was forwarded to the office of the readers’ representative. I apologize for the great delay in responding.

“I see your point about the fact that the Supreme Court news story on the day you wrote did not say clearly that Martinez took the gun. From that, you infer that the reporter was trying to make the man look sympathetic. While I agree that the detail could have been made more clear, I do think the information was there, in condensed form [the representative then quoted the following passage from one of the stories]:

“‘When he approached, an officer called for him to halt. He did so, but when the officer grabbed for the field knife on his belt, a scuffle ensued. . . . “He’s got my gun,” the first officer called out. A second officer then fired five shots, hitting Martinez in the eyes and in his lower back. He was left blind and was paralyzed below the waist.’

“I think that the editors and reporters saw the Supreme Court article as a legal story more than a step-by-step recounting of the event. I understand you feel that the newsroom was trying to ‘portray’ Martinez as a ‘complete innocent,’ but the bulk of the article was a rundown of the Supreme Court legal decision and implications, rather than an examination of the run-in, and that’s one reason they didn’t include a line about Martinez’s saying he took the gun. As you know, the other article did say: ‘At that point, police said, he tried to snatch the officer’s gun.’

“However, I do will [sic] pass along to editors, even now, your point that the articles should have alluded to the transcript in which he admitted taking the gun. Further, you see this as a sign of liberal leanings in the newsroom; and I’ll let editors and the reporter know that as well.

“Every editor I work with here is concerned with bias in stories, and the appearance of bias, and I’m sorry that you are among readers who don’t believe that to be the case. It helps when specifics like this are pointed out, so I can go back to editors and show them where readers feel their attempts at neutral reporting fall short. I hope you choose to write to this office in the future when you see coverage you feel is unfair; I send a weekly report to the staff on what readers are saying about Times coverage. I also work directly with editors in hopes of making the Times’ news coverage as accurate and straight-forward as possible.”

I responded as follows:

“Thanks for your reply. Although it took a while, I am pleased and encouraged that someone at the paper took the time to look into this. However, I do feel the need to respond to your e-mail. Perhaps the fault is mine for not being more clear in my initial e-mail to Mr. Carroll, but I believe that you have not understood the point I was trying to make at all.

“My complaint was specific and limited: that the paper never even hinted — in condensed form or otherwise — that Martinez had admitted on tape that he had taken an officer’s gun in the struggle. The stories reported only that officers had claimed this. That is quite different.

“Any defense that Martinez’ admission was not a crucial element of the story begs the question: why was it considered important to inform readers (in both stories) that Martinez currently denies that he took the officer’s gun? If Martinez’ current story is relevant, so is his admission to the contrary, made on tape.

“If such an admission had been made by a cop, as opposed to a poor Hispanic guy, would the L.A. Times report the officer’s current story — but omit a damning admission to the contrary that the officer had previously made on tape? Come on! And would there be a puff piece about the officer and what a rough time he has had dealing with some unfair situation — again omitting his taped admission that he was the one who caused the situation to begin with? (I realize the term ‘puff piece’ may appear argumentative, but it is an accurate description of the companion piece the Times ran on Martinez.)

“Perhaps the worst thing the Times did that day was to print an editorial that affirmatively stated: ‘officers got nothing useful from Martinez.’ This was not merely a suspicious omission of a highly relevant fact, as occurred in the straight news stories. This was worse: a flat-out misrepresentation. I found it interesting that you seem to offer no defense for this statement.

“The misrepresentation in the editorial makes my point about the omission in the news stories of any mention of the taped admission. I can’t imagine that the editorial writer intentionally misstated the facts. The only reason I can imagine that the editorial writer would have said something so blatantly untrue is that the editorial writer got snookered by your news coverage into thinking that the cops must not have gotten anything good from Martinez. I can’t think of a better illustration of how misleading the news coverage was, than the fact that it apparently caused an editorial writer to flat-out misstate the facts.

“I accept your representation that the Times is working to keep bias off its news pages. (Presumably it is also working to keep factual misstatements off its pages, period — even its editorials.) However, I must admit that I cannot feel even slightly satisfied with respect to this particular episode if I believe that my objections have not even been understood. It seems to me that there is no defense for what I have outlined to you above.

“I hope I have now made my point clear. Thank you again for your time and your
response.”

I got a fairly immediate response:

“Thanks for this. I am in the newsroom, which is separate from the editorial pages, which is why I didn’t address your comment about the editorial-page essay. I can send this as well to the editorial-page editors. Most likely they wrote their opinions based on news stories, which as you point out didn’t mention the Martinez admission.

“It occurred to me that reporters might have felt the admission was in itself questionable because of the nature of the entire case — that his comments were coerced — but that is just my speculation. Let me ask the reporter specifically if he was aware of Martinez’s taped comment, and if so why he chose to leave it out of the story. I’ll let you know what I hear back.”

I sent the following response:

“Thanks for the quick response. If you could, ask both reporters. I think David Savage did the legal piece, and if memory serves, someone else (don’t remember who) did the companion piece about Martinez’ life nowadays. Both stories reported Martinez’ current version of events, and omitted the taped admission to the contrary, so I would be interested in what both reporters had to say. (Incidentally, the fact of Martinez’ admission is reported at page 2 of the Supreme Court opinion, so I will be pretty surprised if at least Savage was unaware of it.)

“If either or both reporter(s) uses the defense you suggested — that the statement was coerced, and therefore was suspect — please also ask them why readers aren’t capable of making such judgments for themselves. (I would also be interested to have them re-read the editorial that may have been based on their stories, and make their comments in light of the fact that their stories may have misled an editorial writer.)

“Thanks again. Let me add that I give you credit for writing me back, and taking these other steps. I will be very interested to hear the reporters’ responses.”

I trust that you, dear reader, will also be interested. I assure you that I will report back as soon as the reporters have offered their justifications.

TEN MINUTES: It took jurors

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:58 pm

TEN MINUTES: It took jurors ten minutes to vote report-writer Bijan Darvish not guilty in the Inglewood case, according to an interview with a juror.

FELONS AND VOTING: This article

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:44 pm

FELONS AND VOTING: This article from Reason Online argues that felons should be allowed to vote, because we’re all felons. The author sets forth a list of felonies and argues that we have all committed at least one — taken a baseball bat to a mailbox, or written a lewd comment on a postcard.

Brilliant. By the same logic, we should stop sending felons to prison, I guess.

UPDATE: In the original post, I hesitated to pass along the fact that I haven’t committed any of the felonies listed in the article. Obviously, I’m supposed to have committed at least one; the fact that I hadn’t had me feeling a little abnormal. But a reader has written to say he hasn’t, either. So that makes two of us, anyway. I feel a little better now.

THE OTHER TAPE: Wasn’t there

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:41 pm

THE OTHER TAPE: Wasn’t there supposed to be another tape of the Inglewood incident — from the convenience store? Which showed the altercation leading up to the car slam and punch? Whatever happened to that tape? Has anyone ever seen it??

DONOVAN JACKSON CONSISTENT?: This L.A.

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:24 pm

DONOVAN JACKSON CONSISTENT?: This L.A. Times story on the Inglewood police case, which I first discussed in the post immediately below, states: “When Jackson took the witness stand, he gave confused and at times conflicting testimony. But the 17-year-old stuck to his original story: That he was unconscious and didn’t remember the slam or the punch to his face.” I read this as saying: he was sometimes inconsistent — but not as to whether he was unconscious. He stuck to his original story on that issue.

I read this and thought: “Hmmmmmmm. That’s not how I remember it.” I had to dig through a stack of newspapers to find the Dog Trainer‘s original story on Jackson’s testimony. The story is so old (from Friday, July 11, 2003), you gotta pay to see it on the Times‘s web site. No thanks! So I can’t give you a working link. But here’s what that story said about whether Jackson offered contradictory testimony on whether he was unconscious (all emphasis mine):

“When [Morse's attorney John] Barnett tried to pin him [Jackson] down on whether he was conscious when Morse manhandled him, Jackson gave contradictory responses, finally saying that he didn’t know the definition of the word. Then he said he thought conscious means to be ‘not awake.’”

Here’s from an AP story:

“Jackson was not seriously injured. On the witness stand, he gave inconsistent answers about whether he was conscious when Morse slammed him and said he didn’t remember much of the incident.”

Your local Dog Trainer in action.

DARVISH SHOUTS, SUPPOSEDLY: I just

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:29 am

DARVISH SHOUTS, SUPPOSEDLY: I just read the Los Angeles Times story on the Inglewood police case: Mistrial Declared in Inglewood Police Case. The story says: “Seconds after his verdict was read, Darvish shouted, ‘Yes!’ and he and his attorney, Ronald Brower, pounded their fists on the table.”

Shouted? I watched the verdict on television. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but I do not remember Darvish shouting. I wouldn’t even describe his voice as having been raised. I remember it as a loud whisper. He and his attorney did both hit the table with their fists — one time.

It’s a minor point, to be sure, but the description of Darvish as “shouting” is so at odds with my recollection it has me wondering: did the Times reporters and I see the same thing? I am a poor witness, and I watched the verdict only once. If any other viewers remember Darvish “shouting,” write me and tell me. If someone manages to see the tape of the verdict after reading this, that would be especially helpful.

Interesting side note: I have it on good authority that the black juror showed up to closing arguments with a Kobe Bryant related T-shirt on.

UPDATE: Everyone I asked who watched the verdict said Darvish said “Yes!” in a loud whisper — not a shout. According to USA Today, “Darvish and his attorney banged their fists on the table and quietly uttered ‘yes.’”

7/29/2003

BETTING ON TERRORISM: “The Pentagon

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:06 am

BETTING ON TERRORISM: “The Pentagon is setting up a commodity-style market to use real investors putting down real money to help its generals predict terrorist attacks, coups d’etat and other turmoil in the Middle East.”

Brilliant. Soon, rich people will be betting millions that a terrorist act will occur within x days. Luckily, human nature provides no incentive for those making such bets to help them come true. If, however, humans were driven by a lust for money — well, then we’d all be in deep s**t.

POLL SHOWS BACKLASH ON GAY

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:15 am

POLL SHOWS BACKLASH ON GAY ISSUES: “Americans have become significantly less accepting of homosexuality since a Supreme Court decision that was hailed as clearing the way for new gay civil rights, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll has found.”

This is too bad, I think. But not totally surprising. I think the problem here, as the public perceives it, is the Court’s lack of a principled reason that the latest decision won’t be read, at some point down the road, as a basis to constitutionalize gay marriage. The general principle is this: if you take away American citizens’ right to decide these sorts of issues for themselves, through the electoral process, you shouldn’t be surprised to see a backlash.

ARMSTRONG: A reader writes to

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:10 am

ARMSTRONG: A reader writes to offer, if not an authoritative answer, then at least a theory to answer my Lance Armstrong question. My correspondent believes that when Armstrong waited for Ullrich two years ago, the two were “within a few feet of each other.” I should add that my correspondent is not certain of this fact, stating: “I might be wrong here. I see in the messy video vault of my mind that those two were pretty close to each other.” My correspondent theorizes that Armstrong didn’t see Ullrich’s latest spill, and/or if he learned of it, Armsrong “probably thought that they were both ‘even’ as far as sporting favors were concerned.”

If anyone has views on this, let me know by e-mailing me at the link to the left.

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