Patterico's Pontifications


Los Angeles Times (Possibly) Errs in Describing Third Striker’s Record; UPDATE: And Possibly Not; NEW UPDATE: Definitely Not

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 8:14 pm

I am going to refrain from commenting on the following case except for noting evidence of a possible error by the Los Angeles Times. Here is the Times report:

To hear him tell his story, John Wesley Ewell was the victim of an overly harsh criminal justice system.

The South Los Angeles hairstylist complained to journalists over the last decade about the unfairness of the state’s tough three-strikes law, saying he lived in fear that even a small offense would land him back in prison for life.

He even appeared on the “The Montel Williams Show” to argue the case against three strikes. A caption that flashed on the screen when Ewell spoke read: “Afraid to leave his house because he has 2 ‘Strikes.'”

But Ewell is now charged with murdering four people in a series of home invasion robberies that terrorized the South Bay this fall. On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance at the Airport Courthouse.

Far from embodying the severity of the justice system, Ewell benefited from its lenience over the last 16 years, according to a Times review of court records and interviews.

Ewell has a lengthy criminal history that includes two robbery convictions from the 1980s.

Meanwhile, Larry Altman at the Daily Breeze reports:

Records show Ewell has an extensive criminal history dating to the 1980s that includes grand theft, robbery, burglary and forgery.

The complaint shows him with two prior “strikes” for robbery convictions in 1988 and 2005.

Frankly, between the L.A. Times and Larry Altman at the Daily Breeze — a reporter I respect quite a bit — I’m going with the Daily Breeze on this one.

If he’s right, the Los Angeles Times owes its readers a correction.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

UPDATE: Poking around some more, there are other stories whose facts suggest that Altman got it wrong. A Press-Telegram editorial says:

From a prosecutor’s viewpoint, Ewell didn’t seem violent. As the LA Times reported, his most recent arrest was for petty thievery at a Huntington Park Home Depot. He had been out of prison since 2002 . . .

If he had a robbery conviction in 2005, he would not have been out of prison since 2002. Similarly, the New York Times implies that he already had the two strikes on his record in the 1990s:

Judges convicted him of forcing a woman to withdraw money at an A.T.M. in 1985 and pulling a man from a parked truck, binding his arms and driving off with the man’s wallet. He became an advocate of repealing the three-strikes law, which allows for life sentences on a third conviction, appearing at events and on the “The Montel Williams Show” and saying he feared being thrown in prison for good.

Under the law, a person with two felony convictions is eligible for a sentence of 25 years to life on any third offense. In most California counties, that law is applied as written, Mr. Grace said. But in Los Angeles, he said, public outcry against life imprisonment for third offenses as minor as “stealing a piece of pizza” led the current district attorney, Steve Cooley, to win his post in 2000 on a platform of reforming the law. Mr. Grace said Mr. Cooley’s “office policy is to treat as a second-strike case” a third offense that is not violent. In the late 1990s, when Mr. Ewell was convicted of forging a check, prosecutors did not pursue a life sentence.

So perhaps the L.A. Times got it right after all. It will be interesting to see whether they run any editorials about the case — given that their editorials have for years called for precisely the sort of treatment this individual received from the system.

UPDATE 12-11-10: Turns out the reporters got it right after all. Ewell had robbery convictions in 1985 and 1989. Details and proof here. My apologies for suggesting the paper got it wrong.

Your Video Zen of the Day: I Can Beat You With One Arm Tied Behind My Back (or Just Plain Missing)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:05 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

I would post this video directly but something in word press positively impairs my ability to post video.  But this is a very nice, very awesome video clip of a young man named Jay Flemming who shows you that you should never underestimate the handicapped.  “This summer he competed in the 9-10 year old 25 meter butterfly event at the Nashville City Swim Meet.”  He only has one arm.  And he beats a bunch of kids with two arms.

When it comes to the human spirit, never say never.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Here is the video:

Reinhardt Refuses to Disqualify Himself from Proposition 8 Case

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:32 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Ed Whelan, who has been all over this Proposition 8 case, reports that pro-Prop-8 forces filed a motion yesterday asking Judge Reinhardt to disqualify himself.  You can read it here, but it has already been refused.  And you can read more background on the issue, here.

I suppose Reinhardt interpreted the canons of judicial conduct as a living document.

Joking aside, I will wait to read his full explanation when he provides it, but it had better be good.  And if it is not satisfactory, I am ready to file an official complaint.  I am sick of these shenanigans.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

(Delusional) Quote of the Day

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:16 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Light blogging this morning, but here is a pretty amazing quote, from Matt Bai, in the New York Times:

Privately, Mr. Obama has described himself, at times, as essentially a Blue Dog Democrat, referring to the shrinking caucus of fiscally conservative members of the party.

Funny, only a few months ago he said his opponents talk about him like a dogAnd you don’t realize, you’re the one who’s square.  Now he is talking about himself, like a dog, but of the blue variety.

This was in the context of a larger piece suggesting Obama might become a deficit hawk.  Of course, commenting over at Legal Insurrection, I predicted we would start hearing things like this:

[I] am willing to bet that they will try to make him into a deficit hawk in the next year. He will propose a slight decrease, and thus with our unbelievably biased media, he will be called a deficit hawk. I mean [I] am not saying he will EARN that title, but I do believe they will give it to him anyway.

Of course, I don’t consider that to be any great insight, but I think you can definitely see that starting to happen.

Oh, and presented without comment, the DSM-5, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, is coming out soon and its authors plan to drop narcissism as an official mental disorder.  And what is narcissism exactly?  Charles Zanor explains:

Our everyday picture of a narcissist is that of someone who is very self-involved — the conversation is always about them. While this characterization does apply to people with narcissistic personality disorder, it is too broad. There are many people who are completely self-absorbed who would not qualify for a diagnosis of N.P.D.

The central requirement for N.P.D. is a special kind of self-absorption: a grandiose sense of self, a serious miscalculation of one’s abilities and potential that is often accompanied by fantasies of greatness. It is the difference between two high school baseball players of moderate ability: one is absolutely convinced he’ll be a major-league player, the other is hoping for a college scholarship.

Of course, it would be premature to call the major-league hopeful a narcissist at such an early age, but imagine that same kind of unstoppable, unrealistic attitude 10 or 20 years later.

The second requirement for N.P.D.: since the narcissist is so convinced of his high station (most are men), he automatically expects that others will recognize his superior qualities and will tell him so. This is often referred to as “mirroring.” It’s not enough that he knows he’s great. Others must confirm it as well, and they must do so in the spirit of “vote early, and vote often.”

Finally, the narcissist, who longs for the approval and admiration of others, is often clueless about how things look from someone else’s perspective. Narcissists are very sensitive to being overlooked or slighted in the smallest fashion, but they often fail to recognize when they are doing it to others.

Most of us would agree that this is an easily recognizable profile[.]

Yep, I think I can recognize it.

Hat tip to The New Editor, and Althouse.

Update: The Daily Caller points out that Obama’s much ballyhooed (by the White House) and denounced (by the left) federal pay freeze is better characterized as a reduction in the rate of increase of federal pay.  He keeps proposing pittance savings and claiming it was a first step.  Well, great, then can we get to the second step already?

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

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