Patterico's Pontifications


Girls with Guns

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:18 pm

Meryl Yourish has a post titled Girls with Guns. Good title, and it has pictures. But she blew the opening line. The best one has already been taken:

The other day I spent most of the morning with a .38 in my hand.

OK, so you can’t use that, Meryl. But you get the idea.

Matt Welch to Head Up reason Magazine

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 pm

Matt Welch is becoming the editor in chief of reason magazine. I have known this for over a month, when I overheard Emmanuelle telling Eugene Volokh about it at Matt’s book party. But it was clear that Matt didn’t want this out, so I didn’t say anything.

(Knowing that Matt wanted to keep the move under wraps didn’t stop Luke Ford from spilling the beans. But, unlike Matt’s former employers at the L.A. Times, I don’t take the view that publication of news in any venue justifies spreading it as far and wide as possible. Hence, the silence until today.)

I’m thrilled to finally have the opportunity to publicly congratulate Matt.

The Readers’ Representative Blog Is Online — So Go Leave a Comment!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:52 pm

The blog of the L.A. Times‘s “Readers’ Representative” is now online.

One of the first posts addresses an area that the Readers’ Representative had said she was going to address: the paper’s decision to name an undercover officer despite the LAPD’s request that he not be named.

I was worried about interactivity, but I am pleased to see that the blog has comments. At least, it has the capacity for comments. As of right now, no comments have been left and approved. I find it hard to believe that nobody has commented, so I’m guessing they’re very slow to approve them.

I suggest you go to the introductory post and leave a comment, if you are so inclined, and have any unanswered questions about the paper’s recent performance.

You might find fertile ground for comments in my recent post on Tim Rutten — in particular my unanswered e-mail about the difference between making an error and “concocting” a story. Or maybe you’re curious about Rutten’s violation of the paper’s policy on using anonymous sources, and when this issue will be raised on the blog.

You might even have questions that have nothing to do with Tim Rutten!

Go forth and leave a comment!

UPDATE: Actually, they will only publish the comments they choose to publish. In other words, it’s what I thought to begin with: only such interactivity as they specifically permit.

BREAKING: Yagman Gets Three Years

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:11 pm

Stephen Yagman has been sentenced to three years in federal prison.

His surrender date is January 15.

This morning I predicted he would get 4-6 years, and be allowed to surrender in 2008. This is a hair less than the sentence I thought he’d get, but not much.

UPDATE: Justin posted about this one minute after I did. I’m taking his post down and transferring the content to this update. Justin said:

My understanding is that with federal prison, 3 years actually means something close to 3 years.

Initial round up here, here and here.

Patterico’s own prediction/guess was off by a year – but he got the surrender date right. Not bad actually.

Especially for a completely uneducated guess.

Gems from the article linked above:

Yagman said he thought it wasn’t a crime to file tax returns but not to pay taxes.

After his 1998 suspension by the State Bar of California, Yagman had three surgeries on his back and was taking the drugs Vicodin and prednisone, he said. The drugs made him paranoid when the Internal Revenue Service began demanding back taxes, he said. As a result, he didn’t pay the taxes he owed.

. . . .

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson called Yagman’s explanations “difficult to swallow.”

Gee. Ya think?

This Judge Meant It When He Said “Turn Off Your Cell Phones”

Filed under: Judiciary,Law — DRJ @ 4:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct has removed from the bench a Niagara Falls city judge who, during court in 2005, sent 46 people to jail because of a ringing cell phone:

“A sign in Niagara Falls’ city court warns that cell phones and pagers must be turned off. Folks there believe it. On Tuesday, a judge was bounced from the bench for jailing 46 people after none would own up to a cell phone that began ringing during his court session.

Judge Robert Restaino “snapped” and “engaged in what can only be described as two hours of inexplicable madness” during the March 2005 session, Raoul Felder, chairman of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, wrote in the decision to remove the judge.

Restaino, who became a full-time judge in 2002 after serving part-time since 1996, was hearing domestic violence cases when a phone rang.

“Everyone is going to jail,” the judge said. “Every single person is gong to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I’m kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going.”

When no one came forward, the judge ordered the group into custody and they were taken by police to the city jail, where they were searched and packed into crowded cells. Fourteen people who could not post bail were shackled and bused to the Niagara County Jail in Lockport, a 30-minute drive away.

Later in the afternoon, after being told reporters were calling, the judge ordered the defendants released. The judge told the state panel he was under stress in his personal life.”

Based on the judge’s quoted statement (“If anybody believes I’m kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while”) and the next article, this judge may have *snapped* more than once. This article about a 2006 2005 incident in which the same judge jailed five people over a watch alarm. The judge was sued but successfully claimed judicial immunity:

“The instant case stems from allegations by the plaintiffs, Mark E. Glavin, Joseph R. McCarthy, Marcellus Overton, Martha R. Seaberry and Dedrick G. Williams, against the defendant, Niagara Falls City Court Judge Robert M. Restaino. Each of the plaintiffs were charged with various offenses and had to appear before Judge Restaino in city court on March 11, 2005.

During the court proceeding a wristwatch alarm sounded several times. The judge believed it was a ringing cell phone and asked everyone in the courtroom, including the plaintiffs, about the source of the noise.

As each plaintiff appeared individually before the judge, he assessed new bail requirements for each of them, based on his conclusion that they failed to cooperate in his investigation as to the source of the noise. Each of the plaintiffs were subsequently taken into custody and placed in the lockup for a minimum of one and one-half hours.

The Judicial Commission had no choice but it took at least two years (maybe more) to put a stop to his conduct. This story illustrates how important it is to select good judges, if only because it’s hard to get them off the bench.

I don’t know if New York has elected or appointed judges. While the process of electing judges has many drawbacks, I think judicial elections work better at the local level. It’s much harder to get away with this kind of behavior when it happens to you or your neighbors and is reported in the local newspaper.


The Power of the Jump™: L.A. Times Buries Hillary Negatives on Back Pages — Plus, Release the Healthcare Documents!

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:16 am

(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)

There were high-fives all around the Clinton campaign this morning after they picked up their paper and read this article on the front page of the L.A. Times. Marvel at the bootlicking apparent in the first few paragraphs:


Wow. “She always came prepared.” She was “a force to be reckoned with as a decision-maker.” She “emerged as Bill Clinton’s most influential campaign strategist and policy advisor.” She was “forceful and methodical in shaping the Clinton administration’s domestic policies and political strategy, and proved to be a disciplined partner” to Bill. She was “commanding, opinionated, daunting.” She came to meetings “[a]rmed with an exhaustively researched grasp of the issues at hand.” And in argument, she was commonly found “lacerating opposing arguments with surgical precision.”

Surgical precision!

She had an “all-access pass into the West Wing” which “gave her an intimate education in presidential decision-making that none of her opponents can claim.”

This article could hardly be any more sycophantic if Hillary’s own campaign had written it.

Yeah, sure, there are “buts” coming — but they are safely tucked away on the back pages, where most readers will never turn. Here’s what you see if you turn aaaaaallll the way back to page A18:

government works, and she learned painfully from her missteps how easily it bogs down.

Yet Clinton has never exercised ultimate executive authority. Unlike some of her campaign rivals, she has no experience in managing massive state budgets or city bureaucracies, a critique pointedly raised by former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The healthcare initiative started out as Clinton’s most ambitious experiment in policymaking and ended up as her greatest management failure, trailing criticism that her performance was flawed by hubris, inflexibility and a penchant for secrecy and political combat.

Yup, all the negatives are neatly tucked away out of view. Just at the exact moment the negatives begin, the article snips them off the front page, with great precision.

Why, one might even call it . . . surgical precision!

By the way, late, late in the piece — on page 3 of the online version’s 3-page article –the paper notes an interesting issue:

She appeared sensitive to scrutiny from the start. Just three days after her husband gave her authority over the healthcare plan, she was already considering limits on public access to the plan’s records. In a Jan. 28, 1993, memo, deputy counsel Vincent Foster advised the first lady and Ira Magaziner, who devised the complex healthcare process structure, that task-force records might be withheld from release under the Freedom of Information Act if the files remained “in the control of the president.”

Her response is not known because many of her healthcare documents have not been released. The Clinton library in Little Rock has released scores of healthcare memos sent to the first lady. But none of her own memos or notes is available, and though some are now scheduled for release early next year, others may remain locked away until after the 2008 election.

Gee, why would that be?

Oh, well. All they are, are documents that show how she handled the most significant task ever assigned her in the Executive Branch. I don’t know why there would be any kind of demand for documents like those! After all, they’re locked away! I’m sure she has no say in that!

Actually, as the local rag noted earlier this month — and props to them for that — she probably does have some say. If she and her husband pressured the archives to release the documents, they would almost certainly release them.

I think this is a major issue that needs more sunlight. She’s been asked about it in a debate. But there should be more pressure.

Remember when newspapers like the L.A. Times told us we needed to see decades-old Reagan-era memos from Sam Alito and John Roberts — and privilege be damned? Remember the editorials and the constant drumbeat?

I’d like to see a constant drumbeat over this.

Again, this is about the most significant responsibility Hillary was ever given in the Executive Branch. She screwed it up, royally. Let’s find out why.

Make her release the documents.

More on the Yagman Sentencing

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,Scum — Patterico @ 6:48 am

The L.A. Times provides more detail on the Yagman sentencing hearing, which began last Wednesday, and continued yesterday. Apparently yesterday’s hearing ran 4 1/2 hours — in addition to the hours-long hearing from last Wednesday — and featured Yagman speaking at great length:

Wilson cut short Yagman’s testimony after the lawyer had been speaking for about two hours and indicated he had several more points to cover.

Yagman began his comments by saying that the worst thing that could happen to a lawyer is to be convicted of breaking the law, “and that has happened to me. I am responsible. I stand convicted.”

Yagman then went into great detail seeking to explain his conduct before Wilson was to impose his sentence. He is expected to resume his remarks to the judge today.

I wonder if he thinks he can filibuster his way into never being sentenced.

In any event, it’s interesting that he testified in his own defense, and is now speaking at length and purporting to accept responsibility. That may technically gain him points under the sentencing guidelines — something he knows, of course — but it makes you wonder whether he is saying anything inconsistent with his testimony.

There’s an outside chance we’ll have a firsthand account of today’s imposition of sentence from a correspondent (not me). My completely uneducated guess is 4-6 years, with a surrender date in 2008.

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