Patterico's Pontifications


Rivenburg on Phil Spector

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 11:22 pm

Kevin Roderick reports:

Times feature writer Roy Rivenburg is going legit, transferring to the Metro staff in Orange County. Writes Style editor Rich Nordwind, in a memo to the staff today: “The O.C. seems like just the place for Roy to engage his taste for modern life’s absurdities.” I hope Rivenburg continues his website at, where he recently discovered a separated-at-birth relation to murder suspect Phil Spector.

Congrats to Rivenburg on “going legit.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite have the right separated-at-birth relation for Spector. Here is Rivenburg’s suspect:

And here is the real twin:

P.S. I can’t take credit for this. But it sure is uncanny, isn’t it?

Tsunami Warning for U.S. West Coast

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:20 pm

If you’re on the West Coast, stay alert.

UPDATE: The warning was apparently rescinded an hour after the quake hit. Nice; I learned about it about an hour and a half after the quake hit.

We Don’t Spend Three Years in Law School For Nothing

Filed under: Humor,Law — Patterico @ 8:37 pm

The extended entry has a rare glimpse into the big-time lawyering we do here in Los Angeles.

It was the end of a long day in preliminary hearing court. We were finishing a hearing that normally would have taken about 15 minutes, but actually took almost an hour and a half, because the defense attorney had chosen to do an unusually detailed cross-examination.

When it came time for argument, the judge’s patience had clearly worn a bit thin. I decided that, no matter how long-winded the defense attorney’s legal argument was, I would make sure that my response was crisp, short, and to the point.

What follows is from the actual court transcript. (Mr. Price is the defense attorney; I am Mr. Frey.) You can be the judge of how well I achieved my goal of brevity:


The Supreme Court Nomination Blog Profiles Judge Edith Jones

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:02 pm

The post is here. It’s not the most instructive post you’ll ever read. The Houston Lawyer interview comes up “404 Not Found” and the links to the SCOTUSBlog detailed profile read like press releases from PFAW. But, if nothing else, the comments from Beldar make it worth a brief visit.

Regular readers will recall my post from the other day about meeting Judge Jones in the early 1990s.

Beldar’s War Story on Picking Juries

Filed under: Court Decisions — Patterico @ 6:46 pm

Beldar has a post titled A critique of Justice Souter’s Miller-El v. Dretke death penalty opinon (and a Beldar war story about picking juries). Good stuff. I’m happy to see my friend blogging more often. Go read it.

Dafydd: Can Celebrities Be Convicted Anymore?

Filed under: General — Dafydd @ 1:09 pm

It’s not so much the verdict in the Jackson case — there are good reasons why a jury might legitimately have found him not guilty — but the comments of the jurors in TV interviews that have me depressed.

I begin to believe that we have entered the Era of Infinite “Second Chances”… for celebrities.


See-Dubya: What Madrassa Problem?

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 10:33 am

My buddy Dave at Garfield Ridge soundly boxes the ears of the jackwipes at the NY Times, for the Old Grey Doddering Senile Lady’s silly take on Madrassas, which is basically this: “Since they don’t actually teach bombmaking skills, we don’t need to worry about them”. Please note: when Bush does something to stir up animus on the Arab street, that’s bad. When schools steep little children in the “Great Satan, Little Satan” Jihadi canon, that’s no big whoopdedoodle.

This is doubly ironic given that the Times has an especially delicate hate-o-meter running 24/7, and is constantly warning us about the corrosive effects of right wing hatred and haters and hatemongery. I guess the madrassas just pegged their dial.

Nonetheless, despite all this hatred, I still enjoy wearing cool, comfortable madrassa-plaid shirts in the summer months.

Hate tip: Junkyard Blog for the word “jackwipe.” He’s getting royalties.

See-Dubya: Chicago-Style Polling

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 10:14 am

The Junkyard Blog comes through with some polls that generally support my general contention in my post “The Chicago Way,” below: America wants an aggressive, unconventional war on terror, and efforts at Iraqi and Middle Eastern reconstruction and democratization are underway. If the Left seriously persists in talk of turning loose the prisoners in Gitmo, they’ll shoot themselves in the foot (and if they succeed, they’ll shoot us all in the head.)

JYB cautions: “The WH shouldn’t take this good result to mean that it is winning the info war. It should imho just go out and win the info war.” Amen. We’ve won it before, we’re still right, we’ll do it again.

L.A. Times Buries How Senate Obstructed Anti-Lynching Laws

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:21 am

The L.A. Times reports: Senate Issues an Apology for Inaction on Lynchings. The sub-head reads: “An attack survivor and descendants of other victims are on hand as decades of obstruction are acknowledged. No compensation is offered.”

How do you figure the Senate accomplished those “decades of obstruction”? The answer: through a quaint and curious device that has gotten some notoriety of late, known as the filibuster. I think it’s illuminating to the still-ongoing debate over this supposedly grand and time-honored tradition that it was repeatedly used to block anti-lynching laws. However, the L.A. Times waits until the very last sentence of the article to tell us this:

Each time the House passed an anti-lynching bill, Southern senators filibustered them — once in a monumental battle carried out on the Senate floor for six weeks in the late 1930s.

That is the first and last time that the word “filibuster” appears in the article. No mention is made of the current controversy over eliminating the filibuster for judicial candidates, despite the recent and very public debate over the filibuster. No experts are quoted. The fact that filibusters were used by the Senate to block anti-lynching laws is just slipped in at the end.

There has been a lot of praise of the filibuster in recent weeks. But its history has a darker side. The paper’s readers should be told this — and it should not be saved for the last sentence of the article. So why is it?

I don’t know, but I have a guess. This history doesn’t put filibusters in the best light. And I think most L.A. Times news editors probably want the filibuster preserved to block Bush’s judicial nominees.

I know, of course, that the L.A. Times editorial board has recently taken an editorial position supporting the nuclear option. But there is some obvious dissension there. My speculation is that this stance was forced on the editorial board by Michael Kinsley, and I’d bet that most of the editors there hold views that are diametrically opposed to Kinsley’s on this issue. Indeed, one felt so strongly about the issue that she penned a signed editorial opposing the paper’s stance of the issue. (Issuing such signed editorials opposing the paper’s editorial stance is an unusual and innovative procedure that Kinsley is making available to members of the editorial board once a year per editor.)

Things would be different if the editorial board had someone like Captain Ed, who notes the prominent role of Robert “KKK” Byrd in preserving the tool that prevented laws against lynching. (After a thorough review of the utterly depressing history, Ed lets his emotions get the better of him a bit; he ends up calling the filibuster compromise “morally depraved,” which is language that I don’t subscribe to. I’d stick to noting the irony involved. But I think Ed makes a good point.)

P.S. I am not equating the folks who capitulated on the nuclear option with lynchers. I feel I must say this to avoid having my post attacked as “hateful,” as the Commissar described Ed’s post. I recognize that many people on both sides of the aisle supported the capitulation, for entirely noble (if wholly misguided) reasons having nothing to do with racism.

My point is simple: the history of the filibuster’s use, good and bad, is relevant to any discussion about whether to keep it as a tool to obstruct judicial nominees. If a significant part of its past use was racist, then it’s ironic to see it defended so strongly by a former Klansman like Robert Byrd, who apparently finds it virtually impossible to vote for any black appellate court nominee.

Dafydd: Blinded by Color Blindness

Ted looks earnest, takes off glasses.

Ted: In other news today, the Rev. Martin Luther King, jr., called upon Americans not to judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Blacks across the country cheered, but many whites were skeptical.

All right, I made that part up. Here is what the AP article “Court Denounces Race Bias in Picking Jury,” by Michael Graczyk, actually said:

HOUSTON (AP) – A U.S. Supreme Court decision that warns against bias in death penalty cases is the latest indication that the high court may be losing confidence in Texas, the state that executes more people than any other, legal experts say.

In Monday’s 6-3 decision, the court sided with black murder suspects in Texas and California who said their juries had been unfairly stacked with whites. It was the fourth time in two years that the court has intervened in a Texas death penalty case.

All right; got it: trying to determine how people will think based upon their race = bad. But a scant two paragraphs later:

The Supreme Court used the cases to bolster its landmark 1986 decision barring prosecutors from disqualifying potential jurors based on their race. Justice Clarence Thomas, the only black member of the high court, voted against both suspects.

And just in case you didn’t get the point, here it is again a bit later:

Thomas, one of the most conservative members of the court, has opposed black defendants in the past and has voted against affirmative action.

In other words, it was especially bad that Clarence Thomas voted against black defendants, much worse than Scalia and Rhenquist (who also voted against the Texas defendant), because, you know, Thomas is one of them, if you know what I mean… and I think you do. Heavens, man, he voted against his own kind!

And once again, the left demonstrates that they can win any argument at all… so long as they get to write both sides. Here are all of the argumentative comments about the cases that AP thought it important to print:

“I think that probably one term ago a critical mass of justices on the Supreme Court lost confidence that the state courts in Texas or the federal courts reviewing cases in Texas were doing what they were supposed to be doing to correct constitutional errors,” said David Dow, director of the Texas Innocence Network and a law professor at the University of Houston….

“To have in the space of two terms as many interventions by the Supreme Court in the Texas death penalty, as we’ve seen, it’s unprecedented,” said Dow, who has represented a number of Texas death row inmates in their appeals.

Justice David H. Souter, writing the 6-3 decision, said there was strong evidence of prejudice during jury selection in Miller-El’s case. He noted the pool was “shuffled” at least twice by prosecutors, apparently to increase the chances whites would be selected.

“At least two of the jury shuffles conducted by the state make no sense except as efforts to delay consideration of black jury panelists,” Souter said, adding that it “blinks reality” to deny jurors were struck because they were black….

Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said the Supreme Court “finally had to step in because the Fifth Circuit repeatedly refused to acknowledge a serious problem of unfairness….”

Dow noted the importance of keeping in perspective the high court’s actions on Texas death penalty cases. Despite overturning the several state cases, “over that same period we’ve had 50 executions,” he said.

“The fact is a death penalty lawyer, even from Texas, is still going to lose much more often than he or she is going to win,” Dow said. “But I think in the last two years, especially, there has been a sense among death penalty lawyers you might actually get relief when you get to the Supreme Court.

Notice anything missing? Like, you know, the other side in these cases? Whoops, I forgot to mention… AP did quote one argument against the ruling in this case — that is, against the proposition that the Texas judicial system is packed with Klansmen:

“In view of the evidence actually presented to the Texas courts, their conclusion that the state did not discriminate was eminently reasonable,” Thomas wrote in an opinion joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia.

Ah. Fairness. Balance.

One final point. The entire thrust of the article is how Texas is sooooooo bad, the Supreme Court really had to let them have it with both barrels: they voted six to a measely three that Texas was discriminating against blacks. But then AP saves this morsel for near the very end:

In the California case, the court ruled 8-1 that courts there had made it too hard for defendants to claim racial bias in jury selection. Justices said courts should reconsider the case of a black man, Jay Shawn Johnson, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his white girlfriend’s baby. The jury was all white.

So the verdict in the California case was 8-1 — a considerably slappier slap in the face than the 6-3 decision in the Texas case. And the California state legislature has been dominated by liberal Democrats since before Thera erupted.


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