Patterico's Pontifications


Turn Out the Lights, The Party’s Over

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:34 pm

RIP Dandy Don.

Obama Caught Cooking the Books on Deportations

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:23 pm

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

Let’s all remember this next time someone says that Obama is enforcing immigration law.  Oh, and let’s remember that he is doing little to ensure that they don’t turn around and come right back:

Unusual methods helped ICE break deportation record, e-mails and interviews show

For much of this year, the Obama administration touted its tougher-than-ever approach to immigration enforcement, culminating in a record number of deportations.

But in reaching 392,862 deportations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement included more than 19,000 immigrants who had exited the previous fiscal year, according to agency statistics. ICE also ran a Mexican repatriation program five weeks longer than ever before, allowing the agency to count at least 6,500 exits that, without the program, would normally have been tallied by the U.S. Border Patrol.

When ICE officials realized in the final weeks of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, that the agency still was in jeopardy of falling short of last year’s mark, it scrambled to reach the goal. Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal e-mails and interviews show.

Instead, officials told immigration officers to encourage eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, ICE employees said.

The option, known as voluntary return, may have allowed hundreds of immigrants – who typically would have gone before an immigration judge to contest deportation for offenses such as drunken driving, domestic violence and misdemeanor assault – to leave the country. A voluntary return doesn’t bar a foreigner from applying for legal residence or traveling to the United States in the future.

Once the agency closed the books for fiscal 2010 and the record was broken, agents say they were told to stop widely offering the voluntary return option and revert to business as usual.

Read the whole thing. And good for the WaPo for calling them out.

But the other thing that this results in is a lower quality of deportations.  If they are trying to meet a quota, they are not going to go after the drug lord, whose business hires him excellent attorneys able to put up a first class fight.  No, they will go after the poor guy who can only hope to get a good Federal Public Defender.  And they are pretty good lawyers, but their resources are not unlimited.  But I don’t know about you, but I would rather they deport one drug lord than one hundred day laborers.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Watch the Proposition 8 Appeal Today

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:34 am

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

At 10 a.m. Pacific time, which translates to 1 p.m. Eastern, C-SPAN will carry the thing online.

C-SPAN will provide live online coverage of today’s Ninth Circuit oral argument in the Prop 8 appeal.

The argument is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. PT (1:00 p.m. ET) and to run two hours. The panel has divided the argument into two hour-long sessions. The first hour will address issues regarding the standing of Prop 8 proponents and of Imperial County. The second hour will address the constitutionality of Prop 8.

In related news, Reinhardt promised a memorandum on why he shouldn’t have to disqualify himself from this case.  He has yet to deliver it, leading Ed Whelan to speculate about the reason why.

If he doesn’t get it done before the hearing then it is officially unacceptably late.  Why?  Because honestly sometimes when writing something, we lawyers convince ourselves we are wrong.  As we are forced to actually explain it, we start to see the holes that were not immediately obvious.  So that process should be finished before we hit a point of no return.

Of course, Whelan is right to suppose that this is really a pre-ordained conclusion, but still procedures matter.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Prop 8 Argument Today

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:25 am

Gabriel Malor has a nice guide.

I believe the argument will be on C-SPAN at 10 a.m. Pacific.

Polanski Phones It In (Update: New Swiss Deportation Law)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:22 am

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

Lots of interesting bits on this article about Polanski winning an award given out by a bunch of people I never heard of before, don’t care much about.  But in case you do care:

Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” a story of a journalist hired to write the memoirs of a British prime minister, has won the prize for best film at the European Film Awards.

But it seems he doesn’t totally feel safe picking up his award in person:

“You have awarded a truly European venture. This is too much … thank you very much,” Polanski said in an acceptance speech through a Skype connection from an unknown location. “I wish to thank—before anything—this wonderful crew I had, a truly European crew.”

(Emphasis added.)  And then as usual, the AP mangles the facts:

As he was finishing the movie in September 2009 Polanski was taken into custody at Zurich airport by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities to face prosecution in a 1977 child sex case. He had to finish editing the film while in Swiss prison before being released on house arrest.

In July, Polanski was freed after the Swiss government declined to deport him to the United States. But he still faces an Interpol warrant in 188 countries. Most European nations, including Estonia, have an extradition treaty with the United States.

To “face prosecution”?  No, to face sentencing.  Now he might also be prosecuted for fleeing the jurisdiction, but not for raping a child.

And would it kill them to call the crime “raping a child?”

Meanwhile, Ewan McGregor has the unintentionally funny line in the piece (emphasis added):

McGregor, who played the ghostwriter, said he had a “fantastic time” while making the film.

“More than any other part I’ve played I feel like the director Roman Polanski had his hands really on my performance and is as worthy of this award as I am,” McGregor told the audience through a video message from Thailand, where he is currently shooting a film.

Kids, do not let Roman touch your performance.  And he tries to, run and tell an adult (but not Ewan McGregor).

Update: Hat tip to SPQR in the comments who pointed me in the direction of this story:

Swiss Right Wins Vote on Deportation of Criminals

GENEVA — After heated debate and a campaign utilizing controversial “black sheep” posters, Switzerland’s far-right party won voters’ support in a referendum Sunday that calls for the automatic deportation of foreigners who are convicted of serious crimes….

Final results of the poll showed that 52.9 percent of voters and a majority of Switzerland’s cantons supported the rightist Swiss People’s Party initiative calling for the expulsion of foreigners convicted of crimes ranging from murder and rape to drug dealing and social security fraud.

Legal experts have warned that automatic deportation could violate a 1999 agreement between Switzerland and the European Union that provides for freedom of movement in the Continent. The government also expressed concern that the measure would breach Switzerland’s obligation not to return people to countries that practice torture.

But those arguments evidently made little impression on voters uneasy over a large immigrant population.

A counter-proposal by the government and center-right parties opposed to the People’s Party initiative that was also put to the vote in the referendum failed to garner a majority in any of the cantons and won support from only 46 percent of voters. The counter-proposal also would have toughened provisions for deporting foreigners, but it would have allowed a judge to review each case.

There is no mention in the New York Times article about whether the Polanski situation inspired this law, or what the proposal actually is.  For the second part, you have to go to, of all things, the Amnesty International website which explains that:

If the results of the referendum known as the ’Deportation Initiative’ are implemented, the Swiss constitution would be amended to permit the “automatic” and immediate deportation of non-citizens convicted for certain criminal offences to their countries of origin.

So if they are characterizing this correctly, this allows for automatic deportation—which AA and a few other sources understand to mean without any judicial review.  Depending on how it is written, it might mean merely that they have no business exercising mercy, but they can make sure that the person is actually convicted, etc. of the relevant crimes.  And if it only allows for such deportations, then this doesn’t mean that the legislature has to put that into effect.  I mean, Congress is allowed to pass an income tax under the constitution, but that doesn’t mean it has to.

They even show you what the hell that “black sheep” ad was and it is pretty hard to defend:

And while cases like the Polanski case makes me sympathize with this law’s impulse, it is still wrong.  For instance, if a man said something critical of Switerland, could that country get him expelled from China by convicting him of trumped up charges?  At the very least, if I was in Switzerland, I would advocate that the automatic expulsion only apply when the convictions are in certain countries that practice a modicum of due process.  Switzerland can rationally say the United States of America is not the same as China.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Wikileaks Gives Terrorists a List of Targets

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:24 am

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

The irresponsibility of the wikileaking goes on:

In February 2009 the State Department asked all US missions abroad to list all installations whose loss could critically affect US national security.

The list includes pipelines, communication and transport hubs.

Several UK sites are listed, including cable locations, satellite sites and BAE Systems plants.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says this is probably the most controversial document yet from the Wikileaks organisation.

The definition of US national security revealed by the cable is broad and all embracing, he says.

There are obvious pieces of strategic infrastructure like communications hubs, gas pipelines and so on.

The article lists several examples, but I am not going to further disseminate that information.  Just suffice to say that it’s a real “how-to” on crippling United States interests around the world.

Meanwhile a few days ago, Legal Insurrection identified Wikileaks’ Likely First Victim.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I actually have some concerns with governmental secretiveness at times — especially when the secretiveness appears motivated by a desire to hide embarrassing and/or illegal activity by governmental officials. I have discussed these concerns before, in posts like this one.

But I cannot for the life of me imagine how anyone could justify leaking information like this. It is immoral. It is almost certainly illegal. This cannot be justified by a mere desire for openness. It is the kind of action undertaken by our enemies. Pure and simple.

Jury Duty [Guest Post by aphrael, Promoted from The Jury Talks Back]

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:08 am

[The following is a guest post by commenter aphrael, originally posted at The Jury Talks Back, and promoted at the recommendation of commenter Dana. I have edited the post to remove names of witnesses and for spelling and grammar. Otherwise the post is as aphrael wrote it. — P]

[Guest post by aphrael and NOT by Patterico.]

I was talking in the hallway of the county courthouse, a few weeks ago when I began this diary, with a fellow potential juror. He was a talkative and excitable wiry older man in a baseball cap — a man who had moved here from Thailand and who extolled at length the flaws in the Thai legal system, where a single man’s decision can mean the difference between life and death. He told me how much better our system is, because many people have to look at a case together, and bring their own experiences and lives together, to think about the man and his fate. (He kept trying to talk about the case, and I kept trying to lead him back to safe topics).

I believe in the jury system, especially when compared to the alternatives. The state should not have the power to punish a man on its own whim, on the judgment of someone who draws his paycheck from the state. It’s not perfect; juries are flawed, because they consist of humans, and humans are flawed; but better the flaws of a dozen sitting in judgment than the flaws of one.

Jury duty is, in my mind, something of a sacred duty: an obligation we have to one another, to accept the call when issued, and to listen with open mind, and hear the evidence from both sides, and hold the prosecution to its duty. I have never tried, and never would try, to get out of jury duty; I get irritated at those who do. Sure, it’s an interruption, a diversion from your normal life; a pull away from what you want to do into what you have to do, paid poorly if at all. I understand that missing work can be a financial hardship, but absent a real hardship, I think trying to get out of jury duty is a betrayal of a fundamental duty of citizenship.

What I haven’t understood, at least not emotionally, is that service on some juries carries with it a cost beyond the cost of time and money involved; some cases inflict a psychic, emotional cost on the jurors hearing the case: that even listening to the evidence and trying to judge it honestly and dispassionately hurts, and strikes the jurors deep in their souls.

I was sworn in as an alternate juror on November 18 in the case of a man who was charged with fourteen counts of conducting molesting three minors under the age of 14 over a period of sixteen years.

Warning: this post contains explicit descriptions of sexual activity. There are no pictures, of course, and all names have been redacted. However, due to the descriptions, this post should be considered not safe for work.

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