The Jury Talks Back


You May Not Have Known: They Kill Turkeys At Turkey Farms

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 9:46 pm

Killing Turkeys

h/t: RedState

Thinking About Marriage

Filed under: California Politics — Fritz @ 9:33 pm

Keith Burgess-Jackson, a philosophy professor and lawyer, writes about marriage:

Marriage (the legal institution, not the moral or religious institution) is a bundle of legal rights and responsibilities. Some of these rights and responsibilities should, arguably, be available to homosexual couples. Many of them already are. For example, it is available to anyone, in or out of a relationship, to execute a durable power of attorney, which designates another person to make medical, financial, or other decisions in one’s behalf. Homosexual couples don’t need to be married to do this…


The Murdering Pirates

Filed under: Uncategorized — JRM @ 9:05 pm

The weird romanticization of pirates in American culture is going to take a hit with real pirates killing real people and taking down really big ships.

The latest and biggest is the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star, now being held for $25 million ransom.

They’ve had a Ukranian ship filled with tanks and other military hardware since September.

They’ve made tens of millions in piracy, and it’s getting worse. Somalia’s a mess; whatever income made in non-theft related industries is getting used in the unending, brutal Somali Civil War.

And they’ve kidnapped 537 crew members in the last quarter.

So, what now?

It’s a fairly classic prisoner’s dilemma situation. If the pirates steal my giant ship, worth $180 million, and they hold it for ransom, and I pay them $12 million rather than blowing up the ship and the crew, I’m up $168 million and a better ability to recruit more crew members. It’s a no-brainer.

Pirates get their $12 million, I get my ship. Win-win.

Of course, the pirates are going to take the next guy’s ship, too. It’s in everyone else’s interest that I not pay and fund and encourage more piracy.

It’s a problem that requires everyone involved to take action:

1. The Saudis must stop the owners of the Sirius Star from paying one dime. The owners can negotiate and agree to pay; that’s not a problem. Lying to pirates is fine. But you can’t actually pay them.

People are likely going to get killed through that course of action. It’s a price to pay for fewer people getting killed in the long-term.

2. The pirates need to be treated as military actors. They fashion themselves as Coast Guard organizations; treat them like the military they claim they are. Tell ship crews that you will want to rescue them, but if the pirates take them, ransom will not be paid. Encourage as much armed combat against takeovers as possible. (On ships filled with flammable liquids, firefights are discouraged. I understand that.)

People will get killed. That’s a price to pay to prevent people from getting killed long-term.

3. Stabilize Somalia. Everyone – including a little bit of al Qaeda – is trying to kill everyone else with great rigor. The US is currently involved in trying to make this situation better. They have no good solution, and I have no good solution either, unless winged unicorns have become available. But it is an appropriate goal.

This is going to get ugly no matter how it rolls, but it’s time for the U.S. to impress upon its allies, including the Saudis, the importance of a unified front. It’s also time to take some dramatic action to impress upon the pirates our overall dissatisfaction with their actions. There will be blowback. There will be people dead. But it is worse to let things keep going down this road.

Let me make myself clear on paying off pirates, kidnappers, and the like: If I get kidnapped and held hostage, to be freed on condition that some guy I prosecuted – let’s say Joe the Wife-Beater – gets released from jail, Joe better stay in. You release Joe, and I get free, and I will be right pissed.

If I get killed by the kidnappers, then it sucks to be me. You cannot reward this behavior, not because it’s not a good deal in isolation – my life is worth way, way more than the downside of a little extra freedom for Joe – but because it encourages repeats of that behavior. Disincentivizing kidnapping is a really good thing.

The pirates have made it clear: This is going to keep happening until it’s too dangerous or too unprofitable. Let’s help make it too dangerous and too unprofitable, and let’s make it clear that those who would help make it profitable by paying ransoms will also face consequences.



Filed under: Uncategorized — JD @ 8:57 pm

This weekend should add to the annual BCS drama, and the travesty that is the lack of a college football playoff system.  Now, you all likely know that I cannot stand that dirty little pseudo-socialist Baracky, but if the only thing he ever accomplishes by throwing his weight around is to force the NCAA to somehow implement a college football playoff system, then he will not have to worry about being a worse President than Jimmy Carter.

Now, when Oklahoma beats Texas Tech on Saturday night, there will be 3 mighty giants in the Big 12 South, all tied with each other, and all with a home win and a road loss against each other.  Any selection of one over either of the others will be arbitrary, at best, assuming no further losses along with way.  All will have one a good game at home, and lost a good game on the road. 

Personally, I think Texas Tech and Oklahoma are the best 2 teams in the country, but that is entirely subjective based on my love of offense, their stellar offensive and defensive lines, and their splendid quarterback play.  The same can be said of Texas.   If Florida sneaks back into the title game after a HOME LOSS to Ole Miss, I would reference the travesty above.

Selections from The Conservative Mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 3:13 pm

Selection from The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk

I think that there are six canons of conservative thought:

1.Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience…

2. Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems…

3. Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a “classless society”…

4. Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked…

5. Faith in prescription and distrust of “sophisters, calculators, and economists” who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs. Custom, convention, and old prescription are checks both upon man’s anarchic impulse and upon the innovator’s lust for power.

6. Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress…

Any rethinking of the meaning of conservativism, for the benefit of the Republican Party and its platform natch, must come to terms with these propositions.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in all its Glory

Filed under: Uncategorized — WLS @ 11:53 am

Posted by WLS Shipwrecked:

For those of you who are lawyer-types, you’re probably familiar with the reputation of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as one of the loopiest and most liberal of the 13 federal judicial appeals courts. For those of you who are not lawyers, you’ve probably seen references in the news to the crazy things that pass for legal judgments in the Ninth.

Before giving you the benefit of its most recent pearl of wisdom, here are a few factoids about the Court:

The Court hears appeals from 13 different federal district courts in 11 states, as well as appeals from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Nearly 60 million citizens — 20% of the US population — live in the states over which the 9th Circuit has jurisdiction.

There are currently 27 regular appellate judges and 21 senior status judges, though many of the senior judges no longer participate in court activities.

Yesterday, the matter of United States v. Nevils, Judges Richard Paez and T.G. Nelson held in a 2-1 decision that no rational juror could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant, while asleep on a couch, “possessed” a loaded Tech-9 handgun on his lap, and a .40 caliber pistol at his feet.

LAPD officers chased a suspect into the courtyard of an apartment complex, where, through an open apartment door, they saw deft asleep on a couch with a loaded, chambered semiautomatic Tec 9 on his lap and a loaded, chambered .40 caliber pistol by his leg. On a coffee table one foot from him were baggies full of marijuana and ecstasy, as well as a cell phone and currency. When the officers entered, they startled deft awake, and one officer testified that deft started to grab toward his lap before putting his hands up. When questioned, deft stated “I don’t believe this shit. Those motherfuckers left me sleeping and didn’t wake me.” He was convicted of felon-in-possession under Section 922(g)(1).

At trial, the defendant’s theory — though the defendant didn’t testify to it — was that he arrived at the apartment complex for a baby shower, got drunk and passed out at about 4 or 5 p.m., and was carried to the particular apartment by some female friends, where he remained unconscious until the police woke him at 11:45 p.m. (Now that’s a baby shower.) During this time, the theory went, some unidentified persons placed the drugs, cash, and phone on the table and the loaded guns on deft’s lap and leg — without waking him.

The panel concluded that the fact that deft was asleep when discovered with the guns meant that his actual possession of them (i.e., the guns in contact with his body) was not enough to show that he knew they were there. Further, there was not enough additional evidence for the jury to rely upon. Deft’s gang affiliation, familiarity with the apartment complex, and prior experience with drugs were not enough. Nor was one officer’s testimony that deft reached for his lap upon waking. And Deft’s post-arrest statement was ambiguous and the govt “did not produce evidence sufficient to allow a jury to choose an inculpatory interpretation” of the statement.

An “amazed and disappointed” Judge Bybee dissented, arguing that the record contained “ample circumstantial evidence” for a rational juror to conclude that deft knew he possessed, at the least, the handgun on his lap: it was loaded, one of the officers saw him reach toward his lap when awakened, and he never expressed amazement or surprise about the presence of the guns. Judge Bybee wrote that the majority’s implausible “innocent explanation” for the guns on his body – that the culprits, who deft did not know, “decided it was best to leave their drugs and weaponry” with the sleeping defendant, “and either threw or placed the heavy guns onto his lap and leg (all without waking him) as they rushed to leave” – “taxes credulity.”

D.A. Who indicted Cheney Melts Down

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 11:47 am

You really cannot make this up.

Excitable Andrew’s favorite D.A. seems a bit excitable himself.  During a hearing before the supervising judge, Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerrapounded his fist and shouted at the judge Friday during a routine hearing” when the judge allowed motions to quash.  Apparently, the D.A. wanted Cheney and Gonzales in a perp walk and was upset when the judge didn’t order an arraignment.  Much screaming ensued and the judge called a recess to consult with the state Supreme Court, most likely about how to deal with an obstreperous D.A.  Given that he told the D.A. not to go anywhere, I expect the D.A. will be lucky to sleep at home tonight.

Fact not reported in the previous press items: the D.A. failed re-election, partly due to his own indictments.

Initiative revisionism

Filed under: California Politics — Kevin M @ 4:38 am

It seems as though the fix is in on Proposition 8.  The official defender, AG Jerry Brown, asked the state Supreme Court to intervene, in some strange “please sue my client” gambit.  The Governor, shamefully, asked the court to overturn, for whatever reason seems most handy.  Judging by the suits the court took up, the handy reason seems to be that the 14-word initiative is a “revision” not a simple amendment, because it overturns the weeks-old fundamental right of same-sex marriage.

The ends, it seems, justify the means.

Even hearing these suits is a gross error by the Court.  If they were simply baseless rants by sore losers, seeking to fabricate constitutional rights, that would be one thing and par for the course.  Annoying, but mostly harmless even if successful.  But the “revision” claim attacks the initiative process itself and if it succeeds future initiative amendments will be radically limited.

If a 14-word amendment is a revision, what is not? Previously the bright line test was the “single subject rule.”  What bright line is left when a short, clearly-worded amendment on a very narrow subject is found to be a “revision”?  What will be immune to challenge by the low bar of “it affects a basic function of government” or “it impacts a fundamental right”?  Will only trivialities remain within the People’s power?

I suggest that the following initiative amendments would fail the new test:

  • Prop 11 (2008):  Places legislative reapportionment in the hands of a state jury.
  • Prop 9 (2008):  Affects the rights of defendants.  Reduces opportunities for parole.
  • Prop 209 (1996):  Bars racial preferences, “restricting” the rights of minorities.
  • Prop 140 (1990):  Term limits for state officeholders
  • Prop 115 (1990):  Revokes all criminal rights not based on federal constitution.
  • Prop 13 (1978):  Limits property tax to 1% and redefines assessment methods.

Further, any amendment that alters abortion rights, limits political activity, changes criminal proceedings to the detriment of the defendant, substantially changes state finances or alters a basic governmental procedure could be subject to this new rule.  Certainly they will be stayed  until the court can decide.

Is establishing gay marriage right this minute important enough to justify savaging the century-old initiative process?  Is popular government to be further diminished and judicial power expanded yet again, just to meet this one end?

I’d hope not.  But there is cause today for despair.

Obligatory disclaimer:  Since anyone who suggests that the people’s vote should be respected is (ironically) being cast as a vile oppressor of the masses, I feel the need to point out that not only did I vote against Prop 8, I voted against the statute version in 2000’s Proposition 22.  I believe that gays should have the right to marry.  But I do not believe that right can be founded solely on a court’s divination of constitutional entrails.  As with Roe v Wade, attempting to do so does harm to the integrity of both the constitution and the court.  On matters like these, the people must get there themselves for there to be closure and acceptance.

Hawaii Election Shenanigans – update

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 12:42 am

Awhile back, WLS posted about a wild finish at the filing deadline by candidates running for local offices in Hawaii.

Here’s the story in a nutshell: Honolulu City Council Member Ann Kobayashi surprised many by filing to run for Honolulu mayor just 2 1/2 hours before the filing deadline.  Kobayashi had tipped off former council member Duke Bainum, a losing 2004 mayoral candidate, the day before.  Bainum flew in from Arkansas, rented an apartment to establish residency, and filed for her seat – all in one day.  State Representative Kirk Caldwell also rushed to file for the vacated seat, relinquishing his powerful position as State House Majority Leader in the process.  Whereupon Chrysten Eads, an assistant to the current Honolulu mayor, raced to file her nomination papers for Caldwell’s vacated seat.  As WLS noted, “Keep in mind that these are ALL Democrats.”

In the frantic melee that followed, Eads was unable to submit her papers by 4:30.  After coaxing by a Democratic Party official, election workers allowed her to gather the necessary signatures and file an hour late.  Meanwhile, at 4:29pm Caldwell submitted 18 signatures, 4 of which were ruled ineligible.  Not to worry – an election worker agreed to sign his filing paper at 5:30pm.

Here’s the update: Eventually, elections officials ruled that both Caldwell and Eads were ineligible, because they failed to file on time.  That meant that Bainum would be running unopposed for city council.  However state law apparently allowed the Democrats to appoint another candidate to challenge the Republican candidate for Caldwell’s seat.

Well, the election results are in.  The incumbent mayor won reelection over Kobayashi.  The Democrat easily won Caldwell’s state house seat.  Bainum, unopposed, won the council seat with 57% of the vote; however due to an organized protest effort, 43% of the ballots were left blank.  Although Bainum has not yet taken office, opponents have vowed to organize a recall following a one-year waiting period.

The moral of the story: don’t wait until the last minute.

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