Patterico's Pontifications


Can’t Find Truthout Post (UPDATED: There It Is!)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:23 pm

Wasn’t there supposed to be a big defense of Jason Leopold at Truthout at 5 p.m. sharp?

I just went by and didn’t see it.

UPDATE: It was there all along. See Dubya provides the link.

UPDATE x2: Just for the sake of amusement, read the Lauria piece, with its level of detail, and the Marc Ash denial. The contrast is amusing.

Truthout’s defense is: Rove’s spokesman is the only guy who confirms that Leopold used Lauria’s name. Hey, he’s lying about everything else! Why not this too?

But Rove’s spokesman also gave Lauria a phone number that was one digit off of Lauria’s. And before Lauria ever got involved, Rove’s spokesman gave much of this information to Jeralyn Merritt — including the reporter’s first name, the area code of his cell phone, and the fact that he freelances for the London Sunday Times.

I mean, it’s pathetic. If Rove’s spokesman is making this up, what is Truthout’s explanation for how Rove’s spokesman knew all this information about Lauria? Did they pick a random acquaintance of Leopold’s, give Merritt that random acquaintance a first name, area code, and connection to a newspaper, and sit back and hope Lauria would make the connection?

If you’re following the details on this, it’s just sad what this guy Ash has talked himself into believing. Man, these guys are easily led. They must have hellish lives each April 1.

WMD Found: But How Big a Deal Is This?

Filed under: Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 4:13 pm

A few conservative bloggers are very excited by Rick Santorum’s announcement that some 500 chemical shells have been found in Iraq with degraded sarin and mustard gas. Hot Air has the details.

But I’m staying calm for now. My recollection is that we have found such material before, albeit in significantly smaller quantities, and the conclusion was that the material was probably left over and forgotten from the 1991 war.

Sure, this contradicts anyone who says Saddam *never* had WMD. But those people were always idiots. The question that interests most people is whether he had an active, ongoing program when we invaded. I don’t yet know whether today’s discovery sheds any light on that.

Stay tuned. I’d check Hot Air regularly for the best updates. I’m at the park.

UPDATE: I don’t mean to suggest that only an active program would have justified the invasion. Stockpiles of usable chemical weapons would also.

Old, unusable, forgotten ones probably wouldn’t.

It remains to be seen which this is.

UPDATE x2: Via steve in the comments comes a link to a Fox News article which says:

Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

“This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991,” the official said, adding the munitions “are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war.”

I think if they were usable, it would be a different story. Since they apparently aren’t, it doesn’t sound too earth-shaking to me . . .

UPDATE x3: So if this is the huge revelation that some conservative bloggers (like See Dubya) appear to think it is, why did we hear it from Rick Santorum? And why is a senior Defense Department guy downplaying it?

Giving Appendages a Leg Up Can Be Self-Defeating

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:28 pm

Jeff Goldstein boldly states some uncomfortable facts about European programs of affirmative action for feet.

Former Public Defender Underestimates How Often the Exclusionary Rule Sets the Guilty Free

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,Crime,General — Patterico @ 9:52 am

People are unfamiliar with the way that the exclusionary rule operates to deny justice. Why, even a former public defender writing in a major national newspaper doesn’t get it — or, at least, he pretends not to.

In an op-ed in yesterday’s L.A. Times, David Feige writes:

SO THAT’S IT?” My young African American client was shaking his head in disbelief, a look of expectant perplexity warming his face.

“Yep,” I smiled, giving him a quick embrace, “Case dismissed.”

“Cool,” he said, shaking his head just a little bit.

This exchange took place some years ago in a fluorescent-lighted hallway just outside the subterranean courtroom of Judge Robert Cohen in the Bronx. The judge had just ruled that because the police illegally searched a bag inside the trunk of my client’s car, the gun they found there would not be admitted into evidence. And so, there, outside Cohen’s courtroom, I was saying goodbye to a client who no longer faced the specter of a prison term.

Heartwarming, isn’t it? But we soon learn that, according to Feige, the rosy scenario of the guilty going free is happening all too seldom:

Such an outcome, though depicted regularly on “Law & Order,” is actually uncommon. And from now on, there’ll be even fewer.

. . . .

As Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent suggests, last week’s [knock-and-announce] ruling is itself a significant departure from traditional 4th Amendment jurisprudence. But though the Hudson decision is deeply alarming for what it says, it is even more so for what it presages: a direct attack on the entire remedy of suppression.

Feige says that this is terrible, because the exclusionary rule is almost dead anyway. He knows this because he talked to some public defenders, and they say that they haven’t won a lot of hearings:

For all its traditional centrality and high-minded value, the exclusionary rule these days is honored mainly in the breach. In an informal poll of several public defenders, most could count on one hand the number of times they’ve won suppression motions that have resulted in dismissal.

The fact that the exclusionary rule has been virtually dead for years may come as a surprise to those who don’t see the daily grind of cases being processed through the system.

Yeah, and it comes as an even bigger surprise to those of us who do.

No, suppression motions are not routinely granted (although it happens). But what Feige doesn’t take into account is the filtering that happens before a case gets to court. Police bring cases to a filing D.A., who makes a decision about whether the case should be filed, based upon numerous factors. One of the factors that the filing D.A. considers is whether the case is going to be dismissed because the defense would almost certainly win a suppression motion.

I have seen this happen first-hand. A friend of mine files cases, and I have been in his office watching him explain to the filing officer that he won’t file the case, because the officer had no justification for the search. (By the way, a “bad search” doesn’t necessarily mean we have a “bad cop.” Scroll down to this post for an explanation.)

I can’t give you statistics on how often cases are rejected due to a bad search. But I’d wager that it happens far more often than it happens that a case gets filed and tossed out of court due to a bad search. (I have seen that happen too, by the way.) That’s because your average filing D.A. knows his job, and won’t file a case that’s a sure loser on a suppression motion.

Defense attorneys never see these cases, because they don’t get filed to begin with. So you can’t measure the number of guilty people set free by the exclusionary rule by asking public defenders how many cases they win on suppression motions.

Many more guilty people go free than Mr. Feige and his fellow public defenders see in court.

Mr. Feige should know better. True, he was a public defender, and public defenders don’t file cases. But public defenders know that cases have to be filed, and they know that the exclusionary rule plays a role in filing decisions. If he is going to write a book about this stuff, and write op-eds in major newspapers about it, he owes his readers a duty to be more accurate.

The worst part is that his words take on a greater ring of truth because of his status as a former “insider.” That’s what I have taken the time to type up this post, so you’ll see that not all “insiders” agree with him.

UPDATE: A commenter notes that the author of the op-ed limits his poll of public defenders to the issue of “the number of times they’ve won suppression motions that have resulted in dismissal.” Why is that the relevant number? Why isn’t it the number of suppression motions they have won — period?

In my experience, most suppression motions do result in dismissal, so I wouldn’t think this would lead to a significant difference. But I find it curious that he needs to qualify the statement that way.

“Bad Search” Doesn’t Mean “Bad Cop”

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Crime,General — Patterico @ 9:46 am

In the post above this one, I discuss the fact that criminal cases are sometimes rejected due to bad police searches. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the police are arbitrarily disregarding people’s rights.

Many people think it’s all very simple: there are clear lines, the police know what they are, and they simply choose to cross the line on a routine basis.

I don’t think that’s the case.

Most of the time, when a search is “bad,” police believed that the search was “good.” In my experience, the police generally try to stay within the bounds of the Constitution. But Fourth Amendment law is very complex, with all sorts of arbitrary lines. Sure, you can search the car, but can you search the container inside the car? Can you search the trunk? Can you search containers in the trunk? Can you order a passenger out of the car? Can you pat her down? Can you reach into her pockets? Can you search the passenger’s handbag? Does it matter whether she left it in the car, or still has it on her shoulder when she exits?

There are answers to most of these questions, and police officers are trained on these issues. But they aren’t lawyers, and situations come up that aren’t clearly covered by what they’re taught in class. Lawyers can sit in their chairs, pull a book off a shelf or punch a case up on a computer, and determine whether a judge is likely to toss this case based on a particular set of facts. But even we must sometimes resort to the books.

A cop in the field doesn’t have that luxury. He has to make a decision: can he take this action or not?

If he makes the wrong decision, on a case where I would have had to look up the answer in a book, that doesn’t make him a bad cop.

Clint Taylor on James Van de Velde

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:42 am

Clint Taylor has an interesting piece about his former Yale professor James Van de Velde, and how Yale jettisoned him for being a suspect in a murder, despite the lack of any evidence tying him to the killing.

Seems a little trumped-up.

Maybe he’d have been better off if his real-world experience had been with the Taliban, rather than the George H.W. Bush Administration.

Is That a Banana in Your Pocket, Or Just a Minute Change in Your Erectile Response?

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 12:10 am

This interesting How Appealing blog entry says:

“Penile plethysmograph testing is a procedure that ‘involves placing a pressure-sensitive device around a man’s penis, presenting him with an array of sexually stimulating images, and determining his level of sexual attraction by measuring minute changes in his erectile responses.'” So begins an opinion that a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued today.

The punch-line potential is endless. Write your own.

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