Patterico's Pontifications


What Should the Rules Be for Peremptory Challenges?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:48 pm

Over at The Jury Talks Back, JRM has a post asking for feedback on what y’all think the rules should be for peremptory challenges of jurors:

Let us suppose that virtually all experienced prosecutors in Irishtown have discovered that, all else being equal, people of French ancestry are far more likely to vote not guilty than people of Irish ancestry. Names are useful to guess what ancestry people have.

By “all else being equal,” I’m saying that if an Irish person and a French person answer the questions the same way, with the same intonations, and have the same job/marital status/everything else, the Irish person is significantly more likely to vote for guilt. Prosecutors suspect this is because the French feel oppressed by the majority Irish population. Please assume, for these purposes, that prosecutors are very likely right about the tendencies of voting, though you need not assume they are right about the reason for those tendencies (maybe the French just like surrendering.)

Should the prosecutor be permitted to use his peremptory challenges partly or wholly on the basis that the juror appears to be of French ancestry? Should the defense be permitted to throw off Irish people on the basis that they are Irish? Neither side will throw off all members of the troublesome group, but they wish to use it as a factor.

Let’s take another one: Prosecutor believes that younger jurors are less likely to convict than older jurors, and wishes to use age as a factor. Should he be able to do so? How about the defense?

And, number three: Prosecutor believes that gay jurors are less likely to convict than straight jurors. Should she be able to do that? Should the defense be able to kick straight jurors for being straight? Should the defense be able to keep a gay juror based on their orientation?

Last one: Prosecutor believes that on a rape case, male jurors are more likely to convict than female jurors. Should she be able to use gender as a proxy?

He’s careful to emphasize that he’s asking what you think the rules should be — so pay no attention to what the rules actually are.

Paging James Rainey

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 11:43 pm

Yet another memo to the L.A. Times media columnist, who told us nobody is pushing the Fairness Doctrine: meet Tom Harkin.

By the way, the Bill Press Washington Post op-ed (discussed at the first link) is worth reading if you need a good laugh. It’s a little fantasy piece about how the public would just love to listen to liberal talk radio — and would tune in to such programs in droves — if it weren’t for those nasty stations that just don’t want to make any money.

Dream on, Billy boy.

Let the Beheadings Begin!

Filed under: International — Patterico @ 11:29 pm

Many of us who have been following the horrific violence of the Mexican drug wars have been wondering: will the violence spill across the border?

Apparently, it already has.

Illegals Trespass on Rancher’s Land, Sue Him After He Detains Them

Filed under: General,Immigration — Patterico @ 11:25 pm

This story is from Monday, but I hadn’t had time to blog it yet. Still, it cries out to be blogged:

An Arizona man who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The guy claims that he has turned in 12,000 illegals over the years. And he has good reason to resent them:

Mr. Barnett told The Washington Times in a 2002 interview that he began rounding up illegal immigrants after they started to vandalize his property, northeast of Douglas along Arizona Highway 80. He said the immigrants tore up water pumps, killed calves, destroyed fences and gates, stole trucks and broke into his home.

Some of his cattle died from ingesting the plastic bottles left behind by the immigrants, he said, adding that he installed a faucet on an 8,000-gallon water tank so the immigrants would stop damaging the tank to get water.

Mr. Barnett said some of the ranch´s established immigrant trails were littered with trash 10 inches deep, including human waste, used toilet paper, soiled diapers, cigarette packs, clothes, backpacks, empty 1-gallon water bottles, chewing-gum wrappers and aluminum foil – which supposedly is used to pack the drugs the immigrant smugglers give their “clients” to keep them running.

Unbelievable. And they’re suing him. For $32 million. Because he detained them at gunpoint.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop drinking.

Is the Homeless “Face of the Economic Crisis” Really Homeless?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:22 pm

At a town meeting in Fort Myers, Florida, President Obama met a woman named Henrietta Hughes, whom the media is now dubbing “The Face of the Economic Crisis.” Here’s Jake Tapper:

“I have an urgent need, unemployment and homelessness, a very small vehicle for my family and I to live in,” she said. “The housing authority has two years’ waiting lists, and we need something more than the vehicle and the parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom. Please help.”

President Obama gave her a kiss on the cheek, telling her, “We’re going to do everything we can to help you, but there are a lot of people like you.” He said his staff would meet with her after the town hall.

Hughes says she and her adult son have been homeless for “a long time.” She says her son lost his job in computer programming, and they in turn lost their house. She says she has been looking for a job, although she is on disability for cancer, but so far has not been able to find work.

The video:

Private eye Joe Culligan, who broke the news about the tax liens of Obama’s Chief Performance Officer, as well as those of Obama’s treasurer Martin Nesbitt, now writes at his web site “”:

Audience member Henrietta C. Hughes . . . has lived in city and federal subsidized housing going back to at least 1983.

Feel free to click the link and see what you think his records establish. [UPDATE: Culligan has now added the caveat that she has lived in such housing “at times.”]

Blogger Macsmind says:

According to records, she owns a house. She satisfied her mortgage in 2003.

(Read the comments at MacsMind for quibbling over the current status of the house. For all I know, she’s telling the truth. I don’t claim to be an expert on reading real estate records, and I don’t have the time or energy to sort it all out. But maybe some of you have the expertise that I lack, and can figure out whether her story meshes with the real estate records. Macsmind provides this link to do the search.)

Oddly enough, Ms. Hughes is also dubbed “the face of the economic crisis” on a new web site, just created, called The site is registered to a Judah Fontz, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as an online marketing strategist at a company called VeraData. I wonder what his angle is . . .

It’s by no means certain that she is a plant, or that her story is untrue. Perhaps she truly is the face of this economic crisis — and some online marketing strategist is simply leaping on her story as some weird kind of opportunity. But there are some interesting questions about her story. What do you think?

UPDATE: A reader writes:

I am a local government lawyer (read county) in Florida and I do real estate, lots of real estate. I used 15 minutes of my lunch hour to research Henrietta and her housing woes. Below are the results. Essentially she took title to two lots, built on one, returned the property to the bank to avoid foreclosure (thus the “Satisfaction of Mortgage’). Corey Hughes (I am assuming her son) still owns the lot next door and the taxes are current. Henrietta and Corey owned one other lot in the same subdivision, which they sold in 2005 for $47,000 (according to the documentary stamp taxes they paid on the property). Neither Henrietta nor Corey own any other property in Lee County. It would take awhile to research all of the 67 counties, and I am not that curious.

Thanks for that.

California to Raise $14 Billion in Taxes?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 pm

California lawmakers have agreed on a budget framework that, if approved, would raise taxes to the tune of $14 billon.

In a recession.

Vehicle license fees would nearly double, going from the current rate of 0.65% to 1.15% of the value of a car or truck. The sales tax would increase by 1 cent, raising the rate in Los Angeles County to 9.75%. Gasoline taxes would increase by 12 cents a gallon. And Californians would pay a new surcharge on their personal income taxes, amounting to 2.5% of their total tax bills.

That’s right: they’re planning to tax our taxes.

I heard numerous callers on the radio today saying this is the final straw. They’re selling their houses and moving to Colorado.

A Pair of Chuckling, Sneering Charlies Smirk and Laugh It Up About That $780 Billion Disaster

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:22 pm

Politico on today’s $780 billion stimulus deal:

“[Senate Democrats] don’t know everything that’s in the bill,” said a laughing Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Ways and [Means] Committee. “So I’m afraid to go to that damned conference.”

Above: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) yuks it up.

I guess Charlie R. believes Chuckie S.:

Another Fun Surprise in the Stimulus

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 am

The New York Post reports that the stimulus contains $300 million for green vehicles:

But the money won’t just go to buy fuel-efficient hybrids such as the Ford Escape or Chevy Volt.

The cash also can be used to purchase “neighborhood electric vehicles.”

The NEVs, which resemble streamlined golf carts, scoot at up to 25 mph, operate on battery power and can be plugged into 110-volt outlets for charging.

How cute.

Although the origins of the provision are unclear, it could be a boon to North Dakota-based NEV manufacturer Global Electric Motorcars, a division of Chrysler. . . . Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which produced the spending part of the stimulus.

Lucky thing we have Obama’s assurance that the stimulus contains no pet projects or pork. Because otherwise this might look pretty porky.

Apparently the folks who voted on this bill didn’t all read it, and are starting to say they’re surprised by some of the provisions. One guy who says they should have had more time: Arlen Specter — one of three human beings on the planet who could have actually made that happen.

They’d better pass this quick, before people find what else is hidden in there.

Octomom Getting Welfare — Er, Sorry: SSI and Food Stamps, But Definitely No Welfare

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:17 am

From the L.A. Times:

Nadya Suleman, the woman who gave birth to octuplets last month, is receiving $490 a month in food stamps, and three of her first six children are disabled and receiving federal assistance, her publicist confirmed to The Times.

Publicist Michael Furtney confirmed the information after two sources told The Times that Suleman was receiving food stamps and federal supplemental security income.

Suleman had told NBC News correspondent Ann Curry in an interview that she was not receiving welfare. Furtney said Suleman didn’t consider the food stamps and SSI to be welfare.

Hey, Obama says he doesn’t consider the crap in the stimulus to be pork. At least this woman’s lie is only costing a few thousand dollars, instead of a trillion.

P.S. Publicists have really crappy jobs, huh? You have to tell ridiculous lies like this all day long. It’s like being a White House spokesman, but you get paid less.

UPDATE: The L.A. Times is now reporting that Octomom’s bill to the state and federal governments could reach $2900 per month, in theory.

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