Patterico's Pontifications


The Oscars

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:05 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Variety is watching the Oscars so I don’t have to. So far Avatar and The Hurt Locker lead with 3 Oscars each, but the night is young.

EDIT: The Hurt Locker won Best Picture and Director, Jeff Bridges was Best Actor, and Sandra Bullock was Best Actress. Other winners are at the link.


A Question for Texans

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 7:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Tell me one good reason Texans should support this proposed policy change:

“The Texas Department of Public Safety today proposed new rules for easing the burden on low-income people who are fined under the state’s Driver Responsibility Program.

Under the proposed rules, drivers who are fined and live at or below 125 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for a reduction in charges.

The Driver Responsibility Program, which was approved by lawmakers in 2003, imposes hefty charges on people who violate certain traffic laws. If they do not pay those fines their licenses could be suspended.

The money from the surcharges is primarily dedicated to hospital trauma centers and road construction.

Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, has long been a critic of the program because he says it hurts poor Texans who cannot afford to pay the fines. He unsuccessfully attempted to do away with the program through legislation last year.”

The Driver Responsibility Program adds surcharges for driving without insurance, an invalid license or DUIs. The change would allow eligible persons to apply online or over the phone for indigent status and would grant an extension of 90 days to pay any fine.


America’s Misguided Lawyers

Filed under: Law,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Andrew McCarthy on lawyers who volunteer to represent jihadists:

“There is something wrong with a legal profession that insists we not only let American lawyers take up the enemy’s cause but that we admire them for doing so.”

Read the whole thing but here’s the part liberals never talk about:

“The Gitmo detainees, prisoners of war, are not like indigent defendants prosecuted in the criminal-justice system. The Constitution guarantees counsel to people accused of ordinary crimes. The lawyers who represent such defendants do fulfill a necessary constitutional function. The criminal-justice system, which undergirds the rule of law on which our society depends, could not function without them.

That’s not the case with the volunteer Gitmo Bar. If that enterprise were dissolved tomorrow, the rule of law would not be compromised in any way. Prisoners of war could still file habeas corpus petitions — they’d just have to do it themselves, like American prisoners do. If a military judge thought a particular legal claim was potentially meritorious but complex, the judge could appoint a military lawyer to help the detainee — just as the federal district courts, at their discretion, can appoint counsel in unusual cases to represent habeas claimants. And if detainees were charged with war crimes, they would be more than adequately represented by the military defense lawyers. The system would get along just fine — indeed, it would get along just as it was designed to get along. Sure, we’d no longer have hundreds of volunteer litigators making the military’s job far more difficult as it tried to fight the war we rely on it to fight. That would be bad for al-Qaeda, but it would be good for us.

America’s enemies are no more entitled to counsel in pursuing legal claims than, say, a pro-life group that chooses to file a lawsuit. If I went out of my way to contribute my services for free to a pro-life group, do you suppose the New York Times would have the slightest hesitation about drawing the inference that I was sympathetic to the pro-life cause? Of course not. The Gray Lady wouldn’t pretend that I was just, in the Gillers lexicon, promoting “the administration of justice.” After all, no one would have forced me to take that case. There are countless causes that a lawyer willing to donate his services can find. When you’re a volunteer, you’re doing what you want to do, not what you have to do.”



No Tweeting Allowed

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 6:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

What’s the newest problem America’s courts face? Juror tweeting and other electronic communications:

“Enough with the tweets, the blogs, the Internet searches.

That’s the message being communicated by courts across the country as jurors using their portable electronic devices continue to cause mistrials, overturned convictions and chaotic delays in court proceedings.”

The Denver Post lists three instances where juror conduct disrupted or halted legal proceedings:

• Last year, a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed 600 potential jurors after several acknowledged going online to research the criminal case before them.

• Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon challenged her misdemeanor embezzlement conviction after discovering five jurors “friended” one another on Facebook during the trial.

• A federal judge in Florida declared a mistrial after eight jurors admitted Web surfing about a drug case.

New technology brings new problems, and it may take the courts time to catch up.


The New McCarthy

Filed under: Law,Politics — DRJ @ 2:44 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Liz Cheney has been compared to Sen. Joseph McCarthy because of this video on the “Al Qaeda 7” attorneys:

Her accusers? One was Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine, although he later clarified:

“PAUL adds: The Huffington Post has a story about conservative reaction (or at least the reaction of a handful of conservatives) to the video. The story says I declared that what Cheney did is comparable if not potentially worse than the notorious anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It then quotes some of the things I told Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein.

The quotes themselves are accurate, but I think the characterization of what I said is somewhat misleading. In response to Stein’s questions asking me to compare the video to “McCarthyism,” I said the implication that the DOJ lawyers share al Qaeda’s values is almost certainly false. I also said that some of McCarthy’s assertions were true and others were false (or unfounded, I’m not sure which word I used).

That, if I recall correctly, was the extent of my willingness to compare the video to “McCarthyism.” I don’t think I said or implied that the video is comparable to or worse than the totality of what goes by the name of McCarthyism or to the “crusades” launched by Sen. McCarthy.”

That’s reasonable, although what the HuffPo writer planned is predictable and it’s too bad Mirengoff didn’t see it coming.


Iraqis Defy Violence to Vote

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 1:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Iraqis voted today. For some, it required time and courage but it was worth it:

“Despite mortars raining down nearby, voters in the capital still came to the polls. In the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad, Walid Abid, a 40-year-old father of two, was speaking as mortars boomed several hundreds yards (meters) away. Police reported at least 20 mortar attacks in the neighborhood shortly after daybreak. Mortars also fell in the Green Zone – home to the U.S. Embassy and the prime minister’s office.

“I am not scared and I am not going to stay put at home,” said Abid, who owns a cafe. “Until when? We need to change things. If I stay home and not come to vote, Azamiyah will get worse.”

Sunnis and Shiites are beginning to see elections as a way to decide Iraq’s future:

“Many view the election as a crossroads where Iraq will decide whether to adhere to politics along the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish lines or move away from the ethnic and sectarian tensions that have emerged since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s iron-fisted, Sunni-minority rule.

Al-Maliki, who has built his reputation as the man who restored order to the country, is facing a tough battle from his former Shiite allies, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and a party headed by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

“Al-Maliki gave us security despite all the terror. What more can he do?” said Mariam Omran, a 55-year-old bespectacled mother of four clad in a black chador. “All I want is peace for my country,” she said after voting in the Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah in northern Baghdad.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said “early reports indicate turnout was at or above expectations.”

I wish the Iraqis well.


Adam Gadahn Captured?

Filed under: International,Terrorism — DRJ @ 1:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Updates have called into question earlier reports that Adam Gadahn was captured in Pakistan:

“We are checking with Pakistani authorities to confirm one way or the other,” said FBI spokesman William Carter.

A Pakistani official told Agence France Presses that “we thought it could have been a big catch, but it appeared it’s not Gadahn.”

The confusing swirl of reports began in Karachi, where the Associated Press and several Pakistani and Indian outlets quoted Pakistani officials announcing the arrest of Osama bin Laden’s American mouthpiece.

The Dawn, Karachi’s English-language paper, ran a photo of a man said to be Gadahn being taken away with a bag on his head.”

Too bad.


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