Re: Why do all these homosexuals keep forcing me to obsess over them?

1

Blow goo.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:20 AM
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Not to be all sterotypey, but, um, hello self-hating, closeted gay man.

And who told him that prefacing every response with "Anderson" would make him come across better?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:22 AM
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I would emphatically endorse 1 if I had any idea what it meant.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:22 AM
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"Go Blue!" is a standard U of Michigan sports cheer.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:28 AM
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um, hello self-hating, closeted gay man

Couldn't be any more obvious, could it?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:34 AM
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1 made me laugh out loud.

Seriously, that was inspired.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:35 AM
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2: Yeah, this was my thought exactly.

(Other recent example where this was my immediate reaction: An episode of "Say Yes to the Dress"* in which the fiancé** insisted in coming along to "help" choose the dress and proceeded to bitchily tell his betrothed how each dress highlighted some flaw or other. Just tell her you can't marry her, dude! You'll both be much happier!)

*Don't judge me.
**In addition, he was wearing a skin-tight tshirt with a very deep v-neck.*** I was impressed that show didn't try to insinuate a thing, not even so much as a cutaway to a discreetly raised eyebrow.
***Yeah, I am being super stereotypey.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:38 AM
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2: Wait, which one of them? This is not even a fake question.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:39 AM
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8: Anderson isn't closeted. He doesn't announce anything on teevee, but he's said "we" often enough wrt the gay community, and lives his life very openly and takes his (adorable, French) boyfriend to public events.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:41 AM
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Isn't Cooper out?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:41 AM
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Pwned, and with details.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:43 AM
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OHMYGOD CRAZY.

Just watched it.

Seriously? Not fired? What?


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:43 AM
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8, 9: I knew he was gay before I knew he was a Vanderbilt.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:45 AM
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I know The Advocate considers him out, but it always seems weird to me to see him covering stories like this. And no, I don't think everyone has an obligation to come out or anything, but it kind of makes me uncomfortable to watch.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:46 AM
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Although Oudemia's details make me feel better about things and revise my opinion somewhat.

Also and unrelatedly, I am feeling sick again and seriously am about to cry. I am so, so tired of this. Can't wait to see a doctor, and I never say that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:47 AM
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Thorn, I'm so sorry.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:48 AM
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That really sucks, Thorn. I'm a wallower, so if I were you I'd weep with frustration and self-pity. Can you just go to the doctor now?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:49 AM
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Thanks, dona. I think i'm just frustrated because I think I'm going to be told that I'm being a whiny little baby and should be able to handle getting suddenly overwhelmingly queasy and prickly hot, and apparently I have something mentally tied up in my normally very high pain tolerance or something else that makes me feel like I'm a failure and a bad person because I don't feel well. I'll stop talking about this now; you've heard more than enough.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:49 AM
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Not fired?

Dude's doing it on his own time. The whole thing reads like a sordid tale of woe and revenge.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:56 AM
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I liked the line in "Good Morning, Viet Nam":

That guy is in more desperate need of a blow job than any white man I know.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:56 AM
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Um, Anderson! Um, it sounds like you've got a lot of anger in your voice, Anderson! Um, please kick me around a little more, Anderson! Remember, I'm a *private* citizen, Anderson!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:57 AM
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Dude's doing it on his own time.

People at private companies can get fired for their off-time conduct, never mind public servants.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:03 AM
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Wow, I didn't know Anderson Cooper was gay. I knew it about Thorn, and this guy who hates gay people.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:06 AM
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Wow, I didn't know Anderson Cooper was gay.

Liar.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:09 AM
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To be fair, he's not a giant homosexual. I passed him on the street once and he's kind of little.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:10 AM
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Among the offenses of Chris Armstrong listed by Shirvell: sexually seducing and influencing "a previously conservative [male] student" so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, "morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda." You can see why that would disturb him.

Between that and the orgy accusation I have to say: Well done Chris Armstrong! Good luck with the recruitment and all.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:13 AM
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You can see why that would disturb him.

Yeah, the jerk stole his boyfriend!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:15 AM
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Little like a fox. A silver, silver fox.

(Hey, Thorn, for what it's worth: I can handle a wide variety of painful things, except nausea. This really bothered me, and when I started obsessively analyzing it (as I am wont to do), I realized that, for me, anything stomach related triggers an actual panic response. I think the circuits are just close together, or for years my only experience with stomach ailments was during panic attacks. Whatever it is, legitimate stomach problems now induce feelings of anxiety and panic like nothing else. I can be all stoic about severe physical pain, but if my tummy is weird I am reduced to blubbering childhood. Then I feel crappy about myself, much as you described. I don't know if this helps, except to say: I been there. If there's also a hormonal component...wow do I also know from that. And it blows. I hope you don't feel crappy about yourself.)


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:17 AM
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People at private companies can get fired for their off-time conduct, never mind public servants.

You don't think that's a good thing generally, right?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:18 AM
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I hope when a conservative morphs into a homo-nazi extremist, it makes a noise like Optimus Prime shapeshifting.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:19 AM
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29: Not generally, no. But for certain jobs? Sure. If a cop had a sideline in white supremacy, yeah, I really, really do think that his job is flat incompatible with it. Same with asst attys gen. and persecuting gay men.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:20 AM
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26: I want gay lessons from Chris Armstrong.

Also, I have no idea if this is the appropriate place to say this, or if you people care, but since the break up is why I comment here now, it feels weird not to mention it...I'm back with the ex. She came around, in most ways. Still edging out of the closet, but that was never gonna be an overnight thing, and if she can struggle ahead with it, I can be patient. But she did the whole commitment, yeah I'm in love with you thing, and that's good enough for now. She hasn't freaked out again yet, so...I dunno. One day at a time.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:20 AM
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32.2: I'm sorry we didn't get you laid with a stranger in time!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:22 AM
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Homos in disguise.

Also, 31 is correct. Although I wonder about a sideline in white supremacy. "Do your minorities need intimidating? Is everything changing much too fast? Are those Jews who run things just not getting the job done? Call 1-800-CRKRCOP."


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:24 AM
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33: I know! It's ok. Worth it.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:25 AM
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33: It's her own fault, really, for not attending that recent NY orgymeet-up.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:25 AM
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Nobody told me there would be an orgy.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:25 AM
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"Drive your own damn self home from oral surgery!"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:27 AM
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"Ma? Ma, you're fine. Just stay on this bus till you remember where you live. No, it's fine. It goes through Riverdale. Because I have somewhere to be, that's why! Just stay on the bus!"

...That was dark.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:29 AM
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Is it bad that my initial reaction was disappointment, DQ??

Did we even get one tale of DQ's efforts to pick someone up?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:32 AM
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37: they don't call 'em meat-ups for nothing, dear.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:34 AM
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If a cop had a sideline in white supremacy, yeah, I really, really do think that his job is flat incompatible with it. Same with asst attys gen. and persecuting gay men.

Maybe, I guess. Hard for me to advocate firing someone for something they do at home. I'm much more comfortable saying: if he's trading on his position in any way at all, no matter how small, fire him; if his conduct has crossed the line into legally prohibited, fire him; if his hate makes him unable to fulfill the obligations and duties of his job, fire him.

Ultimately I don't know what "doing his job" entails. Maybe it is clearly true that his prejudice makes it impossible for him to execute his office, but this is not clear to me. There's a big, seething, mass of people whose prejudice nauseates me... but if they are accomplishing the things they're paid to do, I have a really tough time saying they ought to be fired.



Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:36 AM
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The weirdest part regarding Shirvell's employment: according to the link, no less than the AG of Michigan, Mike Cox, issued a statement disassociating the office from Shirvell's actions and then saying "his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear." And somehow Shirvell still has a job - he must have either influential friends, or a juicy filing cabinet.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:37 AM
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As if somehow his faculties of judgment just turn back on once he steps into the office?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:37 AM
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Isn't it illegal to go around publishing your own accounts of a private person's sex life, as in the videotape-suicide case? I suppose it's not libel to call someone a Nazi. Who hasn't called someone a Nazi?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:39 AM
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42: It's not all that "at home," either. He seems to spend a lot of time hanging outside his victim's house with a videocamera.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:40 AM
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As if somehow his faculties of judgment just turn back on once he steps into the office?

Well, should everyone who smokes pot in their off time be fired? After all, they're engaging in illegal activities--not an obvious sign of good judgment. And his conduct, while less moral, is probably also less illegal.

Oh. Analogy ban. Nevermind.

Yes, agree. Now does his work-product demonstrate his lack of judgment?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:41 AM
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46: Um, Anderson! Um, I was *protesting*, Anderson!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:41 AM
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Who hasn't called someone a Nazi?

Hitler.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:41 AM
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It's not all that "at home," either. He seems to spend a lot of time hanging outside his victim's house with a videocamera.

So? I'm not disagreeing the man is behaving like an idiot and a bad person.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:43 AM
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Actually, I wonder if it's an error that Shirvell is an assistant attorney general. CNN says so, but a local paper just refers to him as "an attorney who works in Cox's appellate division." In which case he's presumably a civil servant rather than an executive appointment, and civil service protections could come into play.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:43 AM
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40: You did not, mostly because I went out one night like a 3 days after the break up, and freaked out when I got hit on. Lame, I know, but, BUT: it was very soon. And then a little after that the ex - wait, the girlfriend - contacted me, and while we didn't immediately get back together, it was clear I was winning, so I stopped thinking about fucking as many strangers as possible.

That's a healthy way to look at things, right? Whatever, I won. Then she got me to tile her kitchen.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:43 AM
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Then she got me to tile her kitchen.

Well, I certainly hope so!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:45 AM
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53: Did I miss this euphemism? "There was mastic everywhere."

Ha. Sorry.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:47 AM
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You know that it is going to get messy and wild when you get out the wet saw.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:50 AM
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OT:

Jury duty. Feh. On the other hand, getting to watch people get voir dired is neat -- ten years a litigator, and I've never worked on a jury trial. Bench trials, but no jury trials. Still, I have work to do, and as much fun as juring would be, I don't have time for it. Any good ideas on how to sound insane or biased?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:51 AM
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Ah, directory for the Michigan AG's office. Looks like "assistant attorney general" is not an executive position or anything necessarily close to Cox; I count about 200 of them.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:51 AM
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Also, because I am a crazy person, I am streaming the Gloria Allred press conference.

C'moooooon secret sex dungeon! That they made her clean!


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:51 AM
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LB:

Dont you believe in jury nullification? Tell them.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:52 AM
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Any good ideas on how to sound insane or biased?

RTFA


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:57 AM
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56: You can just tell them now isn't a good time and they'll reschedule you. They're actually incredibly understanding. Unless you mean that never is a good time for you, in which case, shame on you, bad citizen.
I was horrified during voir dire watching adults debase themselves trying to get out of jury duty. ("My mother was once a landlord, and never again can I think of renters as anything but vermin!" or, my favorite, and said with actually tears by a young man, "I'm only 25 years ollllllld! How can you expect me to thissssss!"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:58 AM
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Gloria Allred knows not to bury the lede, right? This is probs a bust. Rich people are exploitive assholes, dog bites man, etc.

I have never been called for jury duty. I probs just jinxed myself, right? Aren't standards for the crazy pretty high in nyc?

P.S. "Her own form of Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Really? Anyone know California? Is this likely to make a difference?


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:59 AM
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61: + do!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:59 AM
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If they'll take you, serving on a jury is in fact work you should be doing.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:59 AM
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Jury duty. Feh.

Dammit, everybody gets jury duty except me. Only one summons in 23 years, and then the night before, they told us none of us had to show up.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:00 PM
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It's alleged that Whitman exploited then fired an undocumented worker when she decided to run for governor.

Honestly, I'm mostly concerned by Whitman's failure to pay this woman off well before this. That's executive incompetence, right? She has literally a billion dollars. This can't have been difficult.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:04 PM
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Ok, I'll stop now. What a bust.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:04 PM
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Toldja so.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:06 PM
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Any good ideas on how to sound insane or biased?

Sorry, LB! None of us here can help with that!



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:06 PM
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I had the impression that being a lawyer was a nearly automatic reason for exclusion from a jury.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:08 PM
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70: Not in NYC! Even a little.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:09 PM
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LB, my relatives who were DAs in your area insisted that women who wore hats always got dismissed, but that's probably not what you need.

peep! I tried to email you at an email address left on a comment on my blog, but it may not have been you and may not have been a real email address. In any event, I'd like to talk to you! (Not about anything urgent or major, though.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:10 PM
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LB- criminal trial? Just tell the judge that you believe in innocent before proven guilty, but that the D.A. is not going to bother wasting everyone's time with a loser.

I have been called several times, and alway thrown out by the defense attorney. Don't they want middle aged white males?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:10 PM
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In DC, once you get into the system, you will get called every 2 years like clockwork. I've also had federal court jury duty -- which lasts two weeks -- three times.

But I've never been on a jury. So sad.

Last time, a guy said he would have a moral problem with sitting in judgment over other people. The judge sort of tried to talk him out of it, but he was ultimately excused. It helped that his mother had written a book on that very subject.


Posted by: tulip | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:11 PM
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What if it's a comically tiny hat?


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:11 PM
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Liz!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:12 PM
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But Blandings' 64 is exactly right, people. Especially wrt criminal trials.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:12 PM
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Some jagweed philosophy prof. wrote a piece about how his thoughts on what constituted "reasonable doubt" were just too intense for mortal folk and how he used this to get out of jury duty all the time.
I just hate it when people -- and I am not saying LB is doing this -- decide they're too good/important for jury duty.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:14 PM
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My only experience on a jury was having to decide on guardians for adults. It was very easy in the case of the girl who'd turned 18 and couldn't walk or talk and needed to be legally kept in her parents' care. Having to decide whether a schizophrenic 40-something who won't stay on meds should basically become a ward of the state, though, was painful.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:17 PM
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I couldn't do it in a death penalty case. No death penalty. Nooooo. Not acceptable. If there's a chance they get the chair or whatever it is, no. Just no.

But I suppose they excuse you for that, right? Still.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:17 PM
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I think I would enjoy doing it if it didn't mean canceling classes for weeks. I'd make an effort to get deferred to the summer, I guess.

Right now I have a waiver for the next 8 years after spending a day watching voir dire and not being needed. I learned a lot, like that some attorneys go to court wearing pants that have a ten-inch rip in the back of the crotch, displaying a vast expanse of bright red underpants. Is this a strategy I did not know about?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:19 PM
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People at private companies can get fired for their off-time conduct, never mind public servants.

You don't think that's a good thing generally, right?

Not at all, especially since it often gets used as a morals clause or retaliation for someone bitching about their job on Facebook.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:19 PM
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My fear of being on a death penalty case revolved around wondering if I was ethically required to lie and say that I could vote for it, and then refuse to do so.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:20 PM
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79.2: Oh, what the fuck? I can barely keep my own life in order, it seriously disturbs me that the state of New York might consider me competent to judge whether or not some one else can do it. Obviously I'm not schizophrenic, but Jesus, surely not everyone has the expertise necessary to make those kinds of judgments? That's really a jury thing, where any shmuck can be called to serve? (Thorn is not a shmuck.)


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:20 PM
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81: They reschedule instantly with respect to the convenience of teachers. It's an automatic out until summer.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:21 PM
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81: 8 years?! I thought it was 1 or 2.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:22 PM
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Nope. It's a lot of years.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:25 PM
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83: I know! You can be all, protest through the appropriate channels etc., but it's someone's life. If I were in a state that seemed to take a perverse joy in executions (rhymes with Mexas), I might feel compelled to take this route. But then there's the whole brutal-killer-walking-free thing? Quandry! What if you discovered the accused really was a monstrous sort of serial killer person, and would keep killing, and then you had to hunt them down?

(With Adam Sandler attached this is an Awesome-O pitch.)


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:25 PM
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(Probably.)


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:26 PM
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80, 83: They do excuse you for that, which is a huge problem because people who support the death penalty are also disproportionately likely to follow the Ed Meese "if a person is a suspect, that person is by definition guilty" approach to criminal justice.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:28 PM
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How about you quote some statistics about prison brutality and rape (in your state), explain that this makes you very conflicted about sending anyone to prison at all, and that at the very least you would consider a 10-year sentence the same way an average juror would consider a 30-year one?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:29 PM
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84: Nobody has the expertise to make that determination, or at least no judges do, and lawyers don't have a neat little checklist they can use, so they send it to a bunch of strangers whose reasoning is not available for complete inspection.

It actually makes a lot of sense. Condorcet or something.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:29 PM
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You're all right that I shouldn't want to get out of this, it's just that it's annoying schedulingwise. I'd actually really like the chance to do it, if it didn't involve doing everything I'd be doing if I were in work all day as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:30 PM
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Thinking about juries and death penalty cases, combined with my experience this morning driving on the highway for the first time (learning to drive, quite late, it's time), is really making me question my faith in democracy.

Just...give me a feudal seat. It'll be fine. I'll run things real good.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:30 PM
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87: I'm pretty sure it is 1 year if you are called and aren't chosen for a trial and 2 years if you are chosen for a trial.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:31 PM
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91 is also right. I feel that way too. I'm pretty sure prison isn't synonymous with "rape" or "torture" or "beatings" or "insanity due to solitary confinement" in other countries. Well, not countries we want to be compared to, anyway.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:33 PM
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95: Oooh. It depends on the court.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:33 PM
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84: Seriously! If they'd had a "check back in 18 months" clause, it wouldn't have been a huge decision. I think the jury may have been just five or seven of us, but it included one person with experience as a psychiatric nurse, one parenting a child with major developmental delays, and the rest who were all willing to think and talk about tough situations. I was afraid going in there that I'd be the only one saying, "Um, can we not just rubber stamp this one?" but everyone wanted to look at all the options. We did end up deciding the person should indeed be in the guardianship and custodianship of the state and the judge assured us that the person in question and/or the person's caseworker would have the right to petition for increased freedoms in the future and that those could well be granted. I think we did the right thing based on the information we had, but it was very difficult for me, especially because I've taken a lot of the medications this person was refusing and still have side effects from one 15 or whatever years later....


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:34 PM
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97: But you only get 8 years off if you've served on a jury for more than 10 days.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:36 PM
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According to current Kings County standards, it's 4 years, but for some reason I'm almost sure it used to be longer. I could be insane.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:37 PM
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98: I'm glad it wasn't an entirely negative experience, but still...that must have been a fun day. Shudder.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:37 PM
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What if you discovered the accused really was a monstrous sort of serial killer person, and would keep killing, and then you had to hunt them down?

You mean the guy that just had his appointment with death postponed ? If ever there was a guy that needed killin', it's him.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:42 PM
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101: I don't know. I'm personally responsible for taking away at least one person's freedom, right? It was as good as it could have been, I think. I mean, I'm not giving all the details of the case and it was clear that if what was alleged by the police was true, unsafe an unwise things were going on. But still, ugh.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 12:45 PM
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I could be insane.

In that case, they probably wouldn't make you serve on a jury.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 1:18 PM
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Mike Cox, Michigan's elected attorney general, hired this guy Shirvell right out of law school in 2006. And not just any law school -- Ave Maria Law School, while it was still in Ann Arbor (it's in Florida now). Shirvell also served as deputy campaign manager for Cox's successful 2006 re-election campaign.

So there's that.

Also, "assistant attorney general" is a common title for a non-political attorney working in an AG's office, at least in NC. *cough* *cough*


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 1:47 PM
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65: It's almost as if someone inside the criminal justice system were preventing your name from entering the jury pool... MUAHAHAHAHA!!!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 1:51 PM
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Yes, almost as if. Though now that I'm sporting my long, flowing Jesus hair, I'd probably be summarily axed anyhow.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 1:56 PM
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I almost never get summoned, and have never been through voir dire. It's quite an experience doing selection, though.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 1:57 PM
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105.last: Yup, same in NY.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:02 PM
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Completely OT: Anyone know how to reliably find out what song is playing at a particular moment in a (british) tv show? I am back to googling in a moment when I'm not on my phone, but figure I'd ask in case that's a thing everyone already knows about.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:02 PM
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According to my dad "both my sons are cops" is an excellent line to get out of jury duty.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:06 PM
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111: Wouldn't work for LB. She looks too young.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:07 PM
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111: There is a (likely apocryphal) story about George and Ira Gershwin's dad getting pulled over by a cop and saying, "My son is George Gershwin!"* and the cop letting him go because his son was a judge.

*Say this with a thick yiddishe accent.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:19 PM
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Speaking of judges, teh creepy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:21 PM
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114: Because he was from Intercourse, PA? He thought his job was to promote intercourse?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:29 PM
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Sometimes acorns come that way.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:32 PM
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Acorns come outside the condom, which is why there are so many oak trees.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:34 PM
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Some people don't know this, but when acorns come without which a condom has been inserted, giants are born, men and women of renown. They roam the countryside hogging up all the sunlight and spreading allergens. Their names stay with us. Ann Arbor, for instance.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:38 PM
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And Charles Oakley.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:49 PM
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119: Aw. I love him. And I'm a Bulls fan.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:51 PM
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110: you could try Shazam or the like if you have an iPhone.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 2:58 PM
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119: Aw. I love [Charles Oakley].

Bill Simmons on Oakley

One of the networks needs to have a "Coolest guy on the planet" contest because Oakley would absolutely win. You know those "Road House" scenes in which Swayze just stands in the bar, surveying the scene with a thin smile on his face, barely moving a fingernail and meanwhile, 10 drunk guys are brawling a few feet away from him? That's what Oakley is like. You could hire some extras to play gang members at one of these parties, then have them fire blanks at each other 10 feet from Oakley and I'm not even sure he would flinch. The great thing about him: He served as MJ's enforcer in Chicago, and now they're both retired ... and from what I could tell, he's still Jordan's enforcer. Could there be a greater tribute in life to someone's kickassability than Michael Jordan himself deciding, "You know what? I need to make sure he's still on my side. I don't care if we're in our 40s."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 3:04 PM
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Judging by my experience last year, you can't get dismissed (from grand jury) for being crazy. Or not very bright. Or an annoying little republican who works for Goldman. Or a weird recent college grad with not quite comfortable boundaries. (It wasn't the most gratifying mix of people. I was hoping we would find out by the end that each of us was a jock, a princess, a basket case, a brain, and a criminal, but this did not happen.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 3:59 PM
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But wait. Re: 9. Anderson Cooper is doing the same thing Jodie Foster and Rosie O'Donnell and some other celebrity 'mos did with even less excuse because it's 2010. Now, it isn't my decision whether anyone in the world should come out, but if you're famous and have every possible advantage, I think it's sort of shitty to say "well everyone in my community [Hollywood, NYC] knows!" Make it public, Anderson Cooper. Visibility is still really important. A lot of people know or suppose, but a lot of people don't, and it'd be beneficial if they did, because you are a well liked public presence. I will now stop addressing Anderson Cooper, because it makes me looks like I'm having delusions of reference. "Patient is oriented to place and time but believes Anderson Cooper reads his blog comments."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:06 PM
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For years, I didn't need to worry about jury service because I'd been "involved in the administration of justice". IE three months as a clerk in the crown prosecution service. Apparently the law has now changed and this won't work..


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:10 PM
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I consider the tiny smirk AC gives when Shirvell prissily accuses him of having an angry tone to his voice a "coming out."

I read somewhere (er) that AC isn't out because it would be dangerous on some of his assignments. Also BS, but.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:12 PM
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I consider the tiny smirk AC gives when Shirvell prissily accuses him of having an angry tone to his voice a "coming out."

It's like none of you has ever seen him co-host Regis&Kelly with Kelly Ripa.

But seriously, Smearcase is right. You can't call him closeted, because he isn't, but he does apparently make the topic entirely off limits in interviews, which is bullshit, and worse, pointless.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:26 PM
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...he does apparently make the topic entirely off limits in interviews....

I wouldn't want to be the sort of person who asks people about their sex lives,* but from time to time I wonder how one goes about making a topic off-limits to interviewers. Are there no journalists with sufficient killer instinct to know that what a subject wants to put off-limits ought to be the first thing one asks about, or is that too Chuck Klosterman?

* I do come from New England. Why do you ask?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:32 PM
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128: It's made off limits even before the interview begins! You're faxed a list of do's and don't's by his publicist!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:34 PM
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You're faxed a list of do's and don't's by his publicist!

But what about the brown M&Ms?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:35 PM
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129: A fax? Heavens to Betsy. That's how wars get started!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:41 PM
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128: Are there no journalists with sufficient killer instinct

It's all a scam. Ask questions you've been told not to ask, and you don't get invited to any more press conferences. Worse, your organization doesn't get invited, which makes your editor very, very unhappy. Obviously, you can ask washed-up has-beens anything you want, but why would you be interviewing them in the first place?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:46 PM
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But what about the brown M&Ms?

I understand they mean one thing if they're in your left pocket and another thing altogether if they're in your right pocket.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:52 PM
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Ask questions you've been told not to ask, and you don't get invited to any more press conferences

Not that I believe in celebrity journalism, but I just read that Woodward has such great access because people are afraid not to talk to him. You need to be able to put your spin on his facts, or the other guys will and you will like like the asshole. But given who Woodward writes about, it may be impossible not to look like an asshole.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:53 PM
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I've never been called for jury duty or by Anderson Cooper's publicist. Apparently I don't matter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:54 PM
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you will like like the asshole

Like, like him like him?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 4:55 PM
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Look like, like like, love like, it's all the same.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 5:00 PM
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134: Right, it's all just a calculation about relative levels of power. And journalism is hardly a monolith. But if you ask too many difficult questions, you're more likely to end up like Giancarlo Esposito's character in Bob Roberts than end up like I.F. Stone.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 5:01 PM
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As always:

Don't you like me?
I like you, I just don't like you, like you.
What the hell does that mean?
It means I don't like you.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 5:03 PM
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But what about the brown M&Ms?

My middled-aged druggie neighbor, who worked for one of the local concert promoters in the 80s, claims that he personally sorted the M&Ms for Van Halen. (I'd be inclined to disbelieve him if he hadn't, when telling the story, kept returning in stoner verité fashion to the detail that he paid two girls who worked at 7-11 to help him.)

He also claims that Santana requested a full Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of July.


Posted by: bizzah | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 5:23 PM
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140: He should have just used the M&Ms webstore.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 5:36 PM
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140.last: Oh, Carlos.

Are celebrities any better or worse about that sort of precious behavior these days? I expect not. It's somehow slightly more cringe-worthy lately in light of things like this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 6:03 PM
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A friend of mine hot grand jury duty -- Monday to Thursday for 6-8 weeks or something.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 6:05 PM
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Van Halen, famously, was not actually being precious when they made that request.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 6:12 PM
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Got it made. I'm hot for jury.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 6:14 PM
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144: Oh. Sorry.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 6:18 PM
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But seriously, Smearcase is right. You can't call him closeted, because he isn't, but he does apparently make the topic entirely off limits in interviews, which is bullshit, and worse, pointless.

It would be better if it depended on the content of the particular show whether or not it was off limits. But I do have some sympathy to his choice.

To violate the analogy ban, I can't stand to talk politics to conservative people. So I never mention my beliefs even when they're relevant, in math classes, except in unbelievably egregious situations. I could be doing a lot more good by providing a normative example that awesome math teachers have liberal, non-Christian beliefs, and here you were unsuspectingly learning stuff! But I don't do what I could.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 6:59 PM
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From David Lee Roth's biography:

Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We'd pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors -- whether it was the girders couldn't support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren't big enough to move the gear through.The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say "Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes . . ." This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: "There will be no brown M&M's in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation."

So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl . . . well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you're going to arrive at a technical error. They didn't read the contract. Guaranteed you'd run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:04 PM
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I hear that Sarah Palin insists on certain things in her contracts as well, in order to ensure that everything is in order and will go smoothly.

(/snark)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:18 PM
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That's the least vicious snark ever.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:20 PM
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Who is it even directed at? Van Halen?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:26 PM
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I know I'm taking it personally.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:29 PM
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152: suck it up, Cherone.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:30 PM
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at David Lee Roth. And don't tell me you think he's suffered enough yet.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:32 PM
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150: I was afraid Sifu would yell at me for comparing Van Halen to Sarah Palin.

On 147 and 127 and previous: But seriously, Smearcase is right. You can't call him closeted, because he isn't, but he does apparently make the topic entirely off limits in interviews, which is bullshit, and worse, pointless.

I understand the point Smearcase is making in 124. I do. But I really tend to draw a line when it comes to personal choices about degree of out-ness. If, say, Rachel Maddow chooses to be low-key, that is fine. It's her choice, not anyone else's. I have a pretty hard and fast line here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:32 PM
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No one needs "nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear," to listen to Van Halen. A six-pack and a Trans Am with a cassette deck ought to do just fine.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:33 PM
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I slow-danced to More Than Words in 8th grade and it was very romantic. Or maybe I really wanted to and it didn't quite happen. Oddly enough, I remember the boy but not whether or not we actually danced.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:34 PM
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That might suffice to get their corporeal bodies to the show, sure. The eighteen-wheelers were for their egos..


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:35 PM
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A white Trans Am with a rusted S on the driver's side door?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:36 PM
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I actually enjoyed listening to David Lee Roth during his doomed radio gig taking over Howard Stern's time slot.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:39 PM
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That drum kit alone probably took one semi.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:39 PM
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159: "What the Sartorialist photographed in Williamsburg yesterday."

"Joyce Carol Oates began a short story with the following words...."

"It was the most I ever threw up, and it changed my life forever."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:42 PM
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You're getting warmer! But still pretty cold.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:46 PM
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161: At least that drum kit stayed on the ground.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:50 PM
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In case it hasn't yet been noted: no more masturbating to Greg Giraldo.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:52 PM
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165: I have to think he'd want people to keep at it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:53 PM
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I understand they mean one thing if they're in your left pocket and another thing altogether if they're in your right pocket.

You know, I haven't been near a leather bar, or even around people who go to leather bars, in years, but I'm still ambivalent about having a red bandana in public.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:55 PM
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166: I think he'd insist.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:56 PM
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The only inference I can draw from 157 is that Heebie thinks that "More than Words" was a Van Halen song. Wrong!!! I mean, I'm not saying that song would be beneath Van Hagar, but still.

Re: Why don't journalists ask tough questions of celebrities, everyone understands the number of people involved and the kinds of negotiations that get done before those things happen, right? It's not just publicists, but executives, lawyers, agents, etc. Celebrities are assets, valuable to a lot of different stakeholders, including both themselves and their camp followers, studios, and the media that want to publicize them. Essentially everything that gets publicized about celebrities is the result of a lot of negotiation, and cash, moving between different parties.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 7:59 PM
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167: Otherwise, a bandanna would work perfectly with the look you are going for?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:00 PM
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153 to 169.1, and you of all people should know these things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:01 PM
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164: Yeah, I can't help but think how many eighteen-wheelers it might have taken to move a late-Pink Floyd show from venue to venue, what with the flying pigs and all that. It's obviously what Sarah Palin has been missing: the laser light shows and the flying pigs.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:01 PM
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170: You got something against Swiss yodelers, racist?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:04 PM
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173: Only if I can hear them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:05 PM
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(The actual answer is that I don't often wear bandanas, but I do usually carry one in my bag in the summer as a sweat rag.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:05 PM
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I just read that Woodward has such great access because people are afraid not to talk to him.

I doubt that. People talk to Woodward because they want to see their names in the index of his next book.

or is that too Chuck Klosterman Lester Bangs?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:15 PM
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171 -- You know, I'd actually forgotten about the Cherone era. I'm glad to see that my mind is making progress on forgetting the sad and horrible things.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:18 PM
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I slow-danced to More Than Words in 8th grade and it was very romantic.

This is a great bar question. The first song I slow-danced to was Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:27 PM
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The first song I slow-danced to was "Safety Dance." I wasn't very smooth with the laydeez.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:30 PM
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I don't remember for sure but it was almost certainly "Everything I do (I do it for you)."


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:32 PM
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Hm, guess I switched the parens.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:34 PM
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I don't recall my first slow dance, but the worst was definitely when I'd been crowned prom queen of the boys' school across the street from mine. (Our school only featured prom prin/cess/es because the Vir/gin Mary was the queen of the prom as well as everything else.) i'd agreed to go with a classmate's brother, who knew me mostly because I'd called him after seeing how he'd been mocked at an assembly I attended at his school to say that I thought the mockery was gross and basically hoped he wouldn't kill himself over it or anything. So months later he asked me to prom (well, had a friend ask) and I figured it would be no big deal. Instead I was in one of my worst high school depressions and had pneumonia and a 102 fever and was so pale I look painted into the photos. Apparently the guys in his class thought he was lying about having a date and voted him prom king as some sort of Carrie humiliation deal, though I spoiled that somewhat and I don't think he ever got much backlash for bringing a lesbian since so many of them didn't really know who I was. There were several girls from my school who dated athletes and were mad at me for stealing what was owed to them, but they ranted at me that night while they were drunk and then left me alone. The end.

(I also don't remember the first slow dance I danced with a girl, when I went to gay prom the next year at 17. Guess I already knew I didn't like cheesy slow songs and wasn't really comfortable with slow dancing, because nothing stands out in my memory.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:40 PM
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Our school only featured prom prin/cess/es because the Vir/gin Mary was the queen of the prom as well as everything else.

"Do you love Jesus enough to take Him to the prom?" asks the Gospel according to John Hughes.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:44 PM
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I don't think I ever slow-danced. I want to say "Stairway to Heaven," but that's only because my first real boyfriend sang it, so I was slow-dancing in my mind, I imagine.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:44 PM
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I did attend my senior prom, taking a male friend who wanted a chance to wear a peach polyester suit of his father's he'd found recently. I did not dance with him or with anyone else, though I did drop pretzels in regular Coke and Diet Coke to g which would fizz better.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:46 PM
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I was massively sunburned before my senior prom. Beet red.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:49 PM
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I went to the prom my junior year, but not senior year.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:51 PM
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187: Likewise. I made myself scarce that year, generally.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:53 PM
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187, 188: I went stag. If I'd have known you were free....


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:54 PM
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I'm happy to continue to believe that I didn't miss a thing in not going to the prom. That is correct, right? They all looked so stiff and unhappy in their prom outfits! I was barred from going, which was fine, because I think I'd have found it horrible. Even now I shrink in dismay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 8:58 PM
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Why am I thinking that one had to bring a date, and an opposite-gendered date at that?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:00 PM
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Recently, someone made fun of me for having gone to prom, proving that I was regular-popular and therefore now very uncool, but I couldn't help it! I went to an awesome public high school where the only really cool people were smart and artsy! High school was great.

I tried to downplay it by saying I went with a gay drama boy, which I did my senior year, but junior year, I went with the eventual Homecoming King and Big Man on Campus. He had a job at the biochemistry lab next to mine at the Med School. Nerds were gods at my school. (Still didn't get laid, of course.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:04 PM
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190. Except for Land of Hope and Glory, you didn't miss much.


Posted by: H. Wood | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:04 PM
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182: Heh. I too was junior prom royalty, so after the goofball awarding of the scepter and all that crap I had to slow dance with the prom queen, Tisha, who was not only intimidatingly cute but spectacularly built. Focusing on keeping my composure probably helped prevent an unwanted erection, which was always a threat while slow dancing in high school. Bonus fun: the song was Styx's "The Best of Times".


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:06 PM
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I won a boom box at the post prom party they created to keep us from drinking heavily until after 3:00 a.m.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:06 PM
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I got pushed in the pool by a resentful subject at the post-prom party.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:09 PM
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I was king of the senior prom. It was a very small school. The kings of earlier dances weren't eligible, leaving me with a 20% shot by random chance. Only the junior and senior classes could vote, the queen and myself were both the only people in the senior class with siblings in the junior class. I think that helped.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:09 PM
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I had a blast at the prom. The song I remember most clearly was "Summer of 69", which, oh well. Then afterwards we went to a beach house and frolicked in the dunes. It was basically a movie. It was bracketed by a normally awful high school experience, but things came together that night.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:12 PM
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194: Is it unfair if I'm picturing your prom prince outfit as a powder-blue suit with wide lapels?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:12 PM
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199: That's how I picture him all the time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:15 PM
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199: I was prom king, sweetie, and you wouldn't have caught me dead in such clothing, ever. I had black tails that my mom had found in an antique shop (wool, very nice quality) and those thin-striped black and gray pants you often see with morning coats. I still have both.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:21 PM
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I'm pretty sure my first slow dance was to "Heaven" by Warrant.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:23 PM
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I spent a lot of time looking for a powder blue tux. Not so easy to find for cheap.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:25 PM
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I mean, not for the prom. That wouldn't have been classy at all. For... other things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:26 PM
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204: Wedding DJ business?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:27 PM
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Nerds were gods at my school.

It's kind of funny, for all of the environments in which you've, genuinely, been an outsider, that High School was not one of them.

You've lived an interesting life.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:27 PM
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201: I stand corrected. I just thought that since you said you were junior prom royalty, you were, like, a junior, dancing with the prom queen who was a senior, and I thought this was some kind of prom prince with prom queen thingumabob, uh.

So you never wore short pants when you were little, either, then, eh?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:30 PM
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First slow dance song: Not sure, but maybe that "Lady in Red" song? I remember the fast songs better. Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's "White Lines (Dont Do It)" was the most popular 7th grade dance song, along with Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party". I remember being shocked! by possibly true, possibly false claims that some 9th graders were doing coke at a dance -- the song just told them not to! Freeze! Stop!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:33 PM
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Prom was ON A BOAT and totally sucked -- I was so drunk/high I didn't notice my cummerbund falling off until it was too late. And I hated my date.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:36 PM
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It isn't food. If a cummerbund hits the floor, you can put it back on.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:38 PM
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I went to my senior prom with my high-school girlfriend, who was by then my ex-girlfriend. We'd broken up nearly amicably some months before, largely because I had developed a massive crush on a guy.

In the intervening time she had gotten involved with a good-looking, popular rich kid who invited her to their prom and then, as nearly as I could determine, committed date rape.

Since we were still friends, I invited her (after some none-too-subtle prompting) to my prom--since we went to different schools (so she didn't have to deal with the rat) and she'd already dropped $200 on a dress she'd never need again.

Then the after-prom party: she made a half-sincere pass at me; I made an apparently undetectable pass at my crush (after her mom drove her home, natch); nobody got any (though some people got drunk enough to get prom parties banned from the hotel), and I stumbled a couple of blocks on no sleep at 6 in the morning to work a shift washing dishes and busing tables for an 8-hour shift in a greasy spoon--in my rented dress shoes. Good times.

The slow dance was OMD's "If You Leave".


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:41 PM
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Not if it falls in the ocean.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:41 PM
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I went to both my junior and senior proms. Junior prom I went with my then-girlfriend and wore a purple polyester suit (with paisley lining!) that I had bought at a thrift store for $22. I still wear that suit on special occasions.

Senior prom I didn't have a date and wore a keffiyeh. Boy was that ever an eye-opening experience. This was in the spring of 2003, which made it particularly interesting.

I don't remember any of the music.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:45 PM
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DO NOT RESIST THE EARWORM!


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:46 PM
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Couldn't powder be any shade of blue, and even entirely different colors?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:46 PM
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Senior prom I didn't have a date and wore a keffiyeh. Boy was that ever an eye-opening experience

If you wore a keffiyeh rather than a suit, I bet it was.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:47 PM
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155: Well I mean my usual standard (in the context of me ruling the world) is that closet cases are sort of ok/shouldn't be outed or anything as long as they're inflicting harm upon their own. I don't think Anderson Cooper is a villain; I just think he's kind of a coward because I can't imagine a good reason he's in the glass closet or whatever they call it, and would do some good if he weren't. I'm sure it's tedious to do a cookie-cutter interview with The Advocate and stuff, but Visibility Is Important. It is.

In other news, I mis-typed "drug-infested" (client describing neighborhood of origin) as "dug-infested" earlier this evening and was amused for several minutes by this, because I'm a dullard.

In other other news, is the current mouseover text a Tom Swifty I don't get on account of this comment.2.last clause?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:47 PM
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213: Robust & I say: pics or it didn't happen!


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:48 PM
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I have no memory of what songs I ever slow danced to, or what music was played at my prom. My strongest memory of my senior prom is that my girlfriend was extremely pissed off and nearly broke up with me because I hadn't asked her to it already like four months in advance or something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:48 PM
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I was king of the prom president of the Latin Club. I did attend my senior prom, though. With a date who got pinkeye the day before.

Also, it's "Freeze! Rock!"


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:50 PM
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216: I wore a keffiyeh and a suit.

218: Unfortunately I didn't get a picture taken. In retrospect I don't know why the hell I didn't, because that would have been a great picture to have. I'm sure I'm in the background of a bunch of people's snapshots, but I haven't seen any.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:53 PM
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I wore an ascot because I didn't like bowties.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:53 PM
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I was also president of the Latin Club! (Well, co-president with the friend of mine with whom I founded it.) People like that didn't get elected prom royalty at my school, and I was no exception.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:55 PM
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Powder blue leisure suit, nice material. We weren't at the prom all that long -- enough so my gf got to see and be seen by all her friends. Music undoubtedly mid-70s pop. Nice to watch the sun come up from Grizzly Peak Blvd, Oakland.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:56 PM
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I don't think I have ever been to a dance.

The only party that I remember going to in HS was a pre-graduation party hosted by somebody that I was on math team with, who had been a close friend in Middle School and a distant friend in High School. I went, in part, because I was curious what it would be like to go to a social gathering that was mostly people that I didn't know or didn't know well. I was glad I did it, but it didn't make me regret not going parties, not that it was really a party.

I really dislike being in large groups of people. But, for all of that, my High School experience was genuinely pretty good.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:56 PM
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I got asked to prom by two or maybe three girls because I was shall we say non-threatening, and said no to both because I thought they'd feel silly about it later. And because prom sounded horrible. I can't locate any regret in my soul about not going.

Junior high dances, also horrible, but I'm pretty sure I slow danced with even more awkwardness than characterizes the average adolescent slow dance, to "Take My Breath Away" by whoever sings that. It was in Top Gun, I think?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:56 PM
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221: I'm sure the keffiyeh was striking--but frankly, we were thinking of the purple suit.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 9:57 PM
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226: Berlin.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:00 PM
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228 -- Picking places to send Trapnel is in the other thread.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:04 PM
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maybe three girls because I was shall we say non-threatening

That must have been my problem. Just too damn threatening.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:07 PM
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227: Oh, there's tons of pictures of me in the purple suit. There's a bunch on Facebook; Robust is friends with me, so he should be able to see them.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:09 PM
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None of them are from prom, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:11 PM
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but frankly, we were thinking of the purple suit

Weren't we all! Since teo still dons it from time to time for special occasions, perhaps we'll see it someday.

220: a date who got pinkeye the day before

High school (and junior high) really was a bitch, wasn't it? Between the beet-red or zit-prone faces, and the unwanted erections and the, oh, general stomping or slinking around. (I had a pair of cowboy boots the heels of which made a satisfying sound on the floors in the high school hallways.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:11 PM
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Awesome.

And so (coincidentally) to bed.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:12 PM
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83, 88, 90, etc. (re: jury duty, bad laws)--

I'm going to be all Judge McJudgeypants & humorless here, but I was absolutely enraged by all the people in my voir dire panel a few years ago who got themselves excused by saying they objected to the drug laws. Way to ensure that the jury pool is stacked towards conviction, assholes.

The idea that there's something wrong with perjuring yourself in order to block the state from putting a person in a cage, or executing them, is just ... bizarre.

(My sense of the literature is that few writers on political obligation would endorse anything near what the judge at my voir dire was claiming, when lecturing various potentials. I was tempted to point out the holes in his arguments, but I decided trying to get on the jury took precedence.)


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:12 PM
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233.1 before seeing 231, obviously.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:12 PM
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Our prom was for seniors and juniors. I attended with a senior date my sophomore year (my then girlfriend; we subsequently broke up but have been in contact and might go on a date again soon, actually; life's weird). I attended my senior year with my next-door neighbor, who was also my girlfriend at the time.

Sophomore year: ditched the post-prom party after winning some chotchkies. Went to a party where bands played.

Senior year: ditched the prom to go to the pre-determined house-without-parents to watch kids get drunk and do stuff in a hot tub. Neighbor girlfriend and I played it safe, considering the difficultly of coordinating alibis among our neighboring parents, and just called it a night.

You don't need to plan elaborate hook-up-enabling alibis when you're neighbors.

First slow dance: Boyz II Men, "End of the Road"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:24 PM
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I added some purple suit pictures to the Flickr pool.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:25 PM
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Our prom was for seniors and juniors.

Mine too. When I said "junior prom" and "senior prom" above I was referring to the year of school I was in when I attended each.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:29 PM
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That suit is regal, teo.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:33 PM
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Thanks.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:33 PM
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I fear I've had you stuck at a more baby-faced stage of life than you are now, teo. I must have seen pictures of you when younger; you look quite the mature gent now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:50 PM
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Those pictures are a few years old, actually.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:55 PM
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And if you go all the way to the beginning of my photostream there's a picture of me from when I was in high school. I look pretty much the same.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:56 PM
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He's just weathered, parsimon.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 10:57 PM
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I figured they were, actually. Huh. I don't know. We met for all of two seconds at UnfoggeDCon II, which I barely remember given the general blur of activity, so I've got some Chaco picture in mind, I guess. Anyway: the suit looks good on you.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:00 PM
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Thanks.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-10 11:03 PM
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148: I didn't know that. Cool. Like the nonexistent buildings the Ordnance Survey adds to maps so they can tell if anyone is ripping off their copyright.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:23 AM
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I'm going to be all Judge McJudgeypants & humorless here, but I was absolutely enraged by all the people in my voir dire panel a few years ago who got themselves excused by saying they objected to the drug laws. Way to ensure that the jury pool is stacked towards conviction, assholes.

Yeah, there was one of those yesterday. Guy was saying all sorts of charming stuff about police abuse of power and so on, and he was just making sure he wouldn't be on the jury. Counterproductive, dude.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:50 AM
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249: I used to love it when people would do that in jury selection (back when I actually did jury trials). I'd let that guy go on and on for as long as he wanted, smile kindly, and move on to the next good citizen. My sense was the other prospective jury members found that sort of thing sort of ridiculous. Then again, I've never been empaneled as a juror (did get picked once, in Manhattan, made it onto the actual jury for a murder case that ultimately plead out), so all I know about jury deliberations is what the jurors told me after the trial.

Oh, and person in 235? That's just a messed up way to go about things. Lying is uncool.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:54 AM
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The guy in this video creeps me out, no less for his manner than for his job title.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:16 AM
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During voir dire, I said that I thought marijuana should be legal, and I was still put on the jury for a drug case. The drug involved was cocaine.

We acquitted.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:22 AM
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My jury duty experiences were generally positive. In each case the jury had a majority of members who took their task very seriously. There was only one juror I served with (out of 18) who was a genuine grad-A moron. After one hour of deliberation we had 11 for acquital and Captain Dumbass just sitting there repeating "I think he done it," utterly failing to grasp both reasonable doubt and the requirement of unanimity. He honestly thought, despite the judge's clear instructions, repeated three times, that it was simply a matter of majority rule. It took another ~90 minutes to break his will and get him to sign the damn verdict form, which he did only because he wanted us to stop badgering him, not because he changed his mind or developed a new understanding of the process.

I don't know about NYC, but in the case above the jury foreman was selected by the jurors - I nominated myself immediately and got the spot. Do this if you can. Not only does it avoid the potential for getting an idiot, authoritarian, or incompetent in the spot, it also gives you a bit more stuff to do while everyone is picking over seemingly trivial points of the case.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:26 AM
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252: Sounds like poor lawyering to me, but I'm sure your defendant was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that the cocaine in question totally didn't belong to them. :)


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:26 AM
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253: Yeah, badgering that guy into signing the form when he really didn't change his mind sounds like a "generally positive" jury duty experience!

I kid, I kid! I'm really not spoiling for a fight this morning. Can we take this comment as a witty little nugget and not turn it into an indictment of anybody or anything.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:29 AM
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254: Yes, I think it was poor lawyering. Maybe he decided I was a better bet just because I'm a white male, and so unlikely to be sympathetic to a black male defendant.

And, yes, I realized he was probably guilty.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:40 AM
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I thought I had a prom photo to share, but it turns out I never scanned it. Just as well.

You can't see the hole that I burned in the polyester rental tuxedo when I dropeed ashes from a joint on the thigh, because the suit was white, and I was able to paint over the charred perimeter of the hole and over the exposed flesh of my thigh with a bottle of whiteout.

First slow dance for me was Kenny Rogers' "Lady". It was with one of the two black girls in the school -- the nicer, slightly overweight one.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:55 AM
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Sounds like poor lawyering to me.

I might have told this story before, but my mother was empaneled on a jury where the defendant, on trial for two felony counts of something or other, was a nere-do-well neighbor who had previously been convicted of stealing her car.

The crazy part is, the defense attorney probably made the right call by empanelling her, because she actually persuaded her fellow jurors to acquit on one of the charges.

The same neighbor is now serving life for a subsequent murder conviction (he slit a guy's throat in cold blood). He's a poster child for Three Strikes laws (which our jurisdiction had before it was cool; IIRC it was known as the "habitual criminal" statute rather than "three strikes").


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:05 AM
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I just read through this thread, and developed a theory that you can either go to a prom or be on a jury, but you can't do both.

I have been on 3 juries, but I didn't go to any proms.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:14 AM
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My other head-scratching jury story is a case that my father served on (as foreman) a few years back. The cops used some seriously abusive investigative techniques to bring the case. They got the game warden, who by law has virtually unimpeded authority to tresspass on private property to enforce game laws, to check out the suspect's property to establish probable cause for a search warrant. Then the sheriff's department came in and searched the place and secured evidence sufficient to get an indictment.

My dad was the foreman of the jury. Both defendants had been, IIRC, students of his, but if the courts in our county excluded jurors on the basis of that sort of connection, they'd never find 12 eligible jurors.

Anyway, my dad thought the kids were probably guilty, but that the prosecution had totally failed to make its case; the evidence was almost purely circumstantial, the physical evidence did not tie them directly to the crime, etc. Their case came down to a version of "Y'all know good and well that that whole clan is a bunch of good-fer-nuthins, and ain't this just the sort of thing they'd do?"

So the jury voted to acquit. And the police and prosecutors were stunned and angered. So angered, it turns out, that the cop in charge of the investigation wrote a letter to the local paper saying that property was not safe in this county, because jurors wouldn't do the right thing and convict an obviously guilty defendant -- calling out my dad by name as someone who was responsible for the moral degeneration of the community or something like that.

I figure that any defense attorney ought to be able to win an appeal of any subsequent conviction on the grounds that law enforcement obviously seeks to intimidate the jury pool.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:19 AM
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260: Wow. Out of curiosity, what size/type of town was this in?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:24 AM
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261: ~10K in the county, and 99% of them have lived there their whole lives, so everyone knows everyone's business.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:30 AM
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259: Wrong! Proms, juries, leatherbars, you name it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:49 AM
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Juror is excused for using a red bandana as a cummerbund.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:53 AM
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263: oudemia is the exception that proves the rule.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:59 AM
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253: Not only does it avoid the potential for getting an idiot, authoritarian, or incompetent in the spot

Don't we think highly of ourselves.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:03 AM
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I don't know if I've talked here about my jury experience but it was really an interesting situation.

Generally I was really glad to have served. It was definitely a good opportunity to observe and think about the role of jury trials in the justice system. It did feel like performing a civic role in a nice way, and I would definitely be much more comfortable now if I had to participate in a trial in some other capacity (witness, principle . . .).

My major regret about the whole thing is that I've come to feel like I made the wrong decision, and had a significant voice in helping convince the rest of the jury to agree with that opinion (not that I should overemphasize my role, the rest of the jury seemed generally thoughtful and serious in their deliberation, but I was actively trying to be persuasive).

It was a case in which the basic events were not in question but motives were -- there was a fight at a party, one person ended up stabbing another person with a kitchen knife, the defense claimed that it was self-defense. At the time I pushed for acquittal with the thought process of (1) it was clearly a chaotic situation and I don't trust anybody to have a clear memory of a fight that happened three months prior when everybody was drunk so . . . reasonable doubt and (2) When in doubt I'd rather err on the side of not convicting people. Not only because I believe that is the legal standard, but also because I think convictions rarely improve anybody's life.

I don't think that was completely unreasonable but, in the intervening time, I've come to think that I should have put more weight on (3) it just isn't okay to stab somebody during a fight at a party.

So an interesting experience.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:04 AM
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...it just isn't okay to stab somebody during a fight at a party.

It is more O.K. then stabbing somebody at a party when there isn't a fight.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:08 AM
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266: Perhaps it avoids by realizing.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:09 AM
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I don't think that was completely unreasonable but, in the intervening time, I've come to think that I should have put more weight on (3) it just isn't okay to stab somebody during a fight at a party.

What was the charge? In cases where the facts and motives are murky, prosecutors have to think tactically about what to bring the perpetrator up on. If they overplay their hand (say, attempted murder instead of assault with a deadly weapon), they've got to reckon with jurors like yourself putting more weight on (1) and (2) than (3). That's more or less why feminists pushed for the creation of charges short of rape in the 1970's -- to give juries a choice other than decades in prison or acquital.

Of course, the whole reason the case went to a jury might be that the prosecutor offered a plea for a lesser charge, and threatened the heavier charge as a bluff.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:15 AM
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268: however it is approximately equally not okay to stabbing somebody during a fight that's not at a party.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:17 AM
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Not only does it avoid the potential for getting an idiot, authoritarian, or incompetent in the spot,

Assumes facts not in evidence.

I just read through this thread, and developed a theory that you can either go to a prom or be on a jury, but you can't do both.

Two juries, no proms.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:19 AM
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(say, attempted murder instead of assault with a deadly weapon)

I think it was assault with a deadly weapon.

And the self-defense explanation was both a bit of a stretch and not completely unreasonable. The person with the knife was clearly escalating by getting the knife, but they were also (a) the smallest person there and (b) the new guy in a group in which most of the other people were old friends or family. So, even though his judgment was obviously incredibly bad, it's quite plausible that he felt threatened.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:22 AM
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263: I'm in oudemia's group.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:23 AM
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I have been on 3 juries, but I didn't go to any proms.

I've never been to heaven, but I've been to Oklahoma.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:25 AM
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I've never been to heaven, but I've been to Oklahoma.

I have been to Cleveland and you have been to jail.
You seem to be recovering but I felt a little pale.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:27 AM
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Whoops, three juries, no proms.

All the trials were interesting. The last one I did was a personal injury case where the parents of one kid were suing the parents of another on behalf of a kid who allegedly got injured in a whiffle ball game.

The plaintiffs put on their case and, in doing so:

1. Demonstrated that the defendants were super-careful and that
2. Their kid may well have suffered the injury in another incident.

We were such a good jury, we followed instructions and didn't talk about the case at all when we were sent to the jury room. But when, after the plaintiffs were done, the judge dismissed the case, we all said, yeah, of course. And a lot of us went to congratulate the defense attorney.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:29 AM
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I've never been to heaven, but I've been to Oklahoma.

For some reason this reminds me of a delightful anecdote I read recently that I just have to share. It concerns the celebration of independence for Ghana, the first domino to topple in the decolonization of Africa. The celebration was attended by both Martin Luther King, Jr. (then not yet a household name) and Vice President Richard Nixon.

In the midst of the festivities, Nixon puts his arm around one of King's entourage and, thinking him a local, asked "How does it feel to be free?"

The man replied, "I wouldn't know, sir. I'm from Alabama."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:30 AM
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274: Another exception! Even more proof for the rule!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:32 AM
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aw, c'mon, there could be good reasons to stab someone at a party! my dad and the man who would later become my step-dad had a knife wielding standoff the first time they ever met. self-defense (E. drew his knife first and threatened to kill him), in his home; my dad could have gotten off, I think. had he stabbed him, which he, in a remiss moment, did not.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:32 AM
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||
Winner of first prize for best headline about the O'Keefe / attempted seduction story goes to DougJ at Balloon Juice.
|>


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:35 AM
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there could be good reasons to stab someone at a party!

If I knew it was gonna be *that* kind of party, I'd have stuck my dick in the mashed potatoes knife in the guest of honor.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:35 AM
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it just isn't okay to stab somebody during a fight at a party

Of course it isn't. Unless it is. The appropriate standard for judging which was part of the jury instructions.

I haven't served on a jury, but I've talked to jurors after trial, and found, over and over, that they often substitute their own moral judgment for the explicit instructions they have been directed to follow.

One sea story to illustrate: we had an employment case where one of the claims was breach of contract, based on the employer's complete failure to follow the procedures in the employee handbook. Now the question of whether this particular handbook is an enforceable contract has been the subject of a number of appellate court rulings, and the conclusion is that it might be, in particular circumstances, based on certain case-specific facts. Appropriate instructions were given (but of course no one told the jurors about the prior cases etc.) Defense verdict on the contract issue. Why? It turns out that one of the jurors noticed that the copy of the handbook introduced into evidence wasn't signed by the plaintiff. The juror had to sign hers at her employer, so she thought that this one must not be valid. Now, no one was claiming that this was the exact handbook given to the employee. In fact, it had been fished up from the employer's archives as the one in effect at the time of the termination. Parties had agreed that this was the version of the handbook in effect at the time, and the jury was advised of that fact. And certainly whether or not it was signed wasn't part of either the instructions,* or the extensive litigation history concerning this handbook.

They did rule for the plaintiff on her Title VII claim, but it was clear that a majority didn't actually think that membership in a protected class had played a significant role in the termination. They thought the employee got a raw deal, though, and, without the handbook claim, this was apparently their only way of showing it. They didn't give her much in the way of damages, though, because I guess they didn't think the deal was all that raw. There's no way they would have known that the Title VII claim carries attorneys fees (which were several times the damages awarded) and the handbook claim would not have.


* Ironically, the defense had actually included the standard 'it doesn't matter if it's signed' contract instruction in its proposed instructions, but was successfully convinced by the plaintiff's counsel to drop it in the interest of simplification. What could go wrong: no one was claiming that signature was an issue.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:40 AM
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No juries, no proms. My high school didn't have one. No leather bars, either, but I used to wear a red bandana under my lacrosse helmet to keep my hair out of my eyes and absorb the sweat.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:41 AM
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that they often substitute their own moral judgment for the explicit instructions they have been directed to follow.

I like how lawyers are pretty much the only people genuinely shocked to learn that most people ignore instructions most of the time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:47 AM
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Of course it isn't. Unless it is. The appropriate standard for judging which was part of the jury instructions.

The jury instructions were not that specific, in this case.

But, in debate terms, the defense attorney made an argument about the standard of judgment (in this case about what was or was not required for behavior to qualify as "self-defense") which was not addressed by the prosecuting attorney.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:48 AM
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I've talked to jurors after trial, and found, over and over, that they often substitute their own moral judgment for the explicit instructions they have been directed to follow.

I should say that my experience was that part of the challenge of being a juror is balancing one's moral intuition with one's sense of the law.

I'm very good at following explicit instructions. I really like following explicit instructions. I still felt the actual events at the heart of the case were enough of a muddle that the instructions were not sufficient to decide it on their own and some level of common sense was required.

That said, if the instructions did apply in some specific way to the decision you can bet that I would have been bringing that up during the discussion.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:58 AM
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285 -- It's not shocking. And adopting a 'to hell with the law, I'm staging an entertainment' attitude fits my proclivities well enough.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:00 AM
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One prom (went with a group of five other friends, three boys, two other girls, none of whom were dating when we made plans. Then four of the other five paired off between plans and the prom, leaving me kind of sort of on a date with a guy who (a) really annoyed me, rather badly (b) I had ill-advisedly made out with at a party a few months before and (c) came out as gay in college. Hijinks failed to ensue. Also, I was in a truly terrible dress my mother talked me into: a forest-green satin bridesmaid's thing in which I looked like the Statue of Liberty out on the town), no juries. They just cut me loose without ever even voir-dire-ing me .


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:04 AM
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289: You just told them you went to a prom, right?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:05 AM
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I like how lawyers are pretty much the only people genuinely shocked to learn that most people ignore instructions most of the time.

Oh, there's plenty of other people who think "legal" = "ethical".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:06 AM
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It was one of the questions on the back of the summons.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:06 AM
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266: I admit, that made me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:25 AM
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no juries. They just cut me loose without ever even voir-dire-ing me .

Probably shouldn't have worn that dress. Prosecutors are legendarily suspicious of people in satin.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:29 AM
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Oh, further to 293 by way of clarification: togolosh's remark made me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:34 AM
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My feelings. You've hurt them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:39 AM
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287 and previous: IANAL, but I wonder if it's significant that the prosecutor's argument ignored self-defense--perhaps there was no basis for contesting the defense?


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:43 AM
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there was a fight at a party, one person ended up stabbing another person with a kitchen knife, the defense claimed that it was self-defense.

NickS is Will Parker?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:51 AM
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259: Three juries, no prom. I helped organize the only sort-of prom my school had, but the great advantage of being an organizer is that you have plenty of things to do to get you out of having to dance.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:53 AM
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296: Sorry. I was looking after togolosh's feelings. You're okay?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:54 AM
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Thanks. I'm fine. Kobe is a bit hurt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:55 AM
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tog is exhibiting a pattern here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:55 AM
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(a) really annoyed me, rather badly (b) I had ill-advisedly made out with at a party a few months before and (c) came out as gay in college.

Oddly enough, all three of these things were true of my senior prom date, whom I also took as part of a group plan gone wrong.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:56 AM
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I haven't served on a jury, but I've talked to jurors after trial, and found, over and over, that they often substitute their own moral judgment for the explicit instructions they have been directed to follow.

But at least half of what you describe doesn't involve moral judgment at all; it involves the jurors not knowing something about which they had received no instruction and winging it as best they could as far as that went.

If the instructions left no room for the exercise of the jurors' judgment (moral or otherwise), there would be no point to having a jury.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:01 AM
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It's supposed to be only their factual judgment: the idea is that the instructions will make it clear exactly what factual questions they are to answer ("Did A happen or didn't it? What about B? And C? If you believe that a preponderance of the evidence shows that A, B, and C all happened, your verdict should be this, otherwise it should be that.") They shouldn't be making moral or legal judgments at all.

They do, of course, and sometimes they should in terms of what the right thing to do is, but not in terms of how the system is supposed to work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:07 AM
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If it was supposed to happen, they'd call it something less scary sounding than "jury nullification."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:09 AM
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I was psyched to be called for the jury duty pool*. My job pays me just the same for time spent in jury duty and expects me to do no work while doing jury duty. That sort of employee-doing-jury-duty policy seems appallingly rare.

*Alas, I never actually had to report.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:14 AM
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305.1. And there's a place for common sense: has Party A has proven that his reliance on the statement of Party B was reasonable. In this case, no one is asking you whether you think Party B is a bad guy, or Party A a saint.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:16 AM
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expects me to do no work

It's a nature of the beast thing. For me to stop working, I have to move my deadlines around -- someone else can't step in and do two days worth of work on my cases without a whole lot of getting up to speed. For more easily hand-offable work, I'd expect jury duty to be a no-work-expected period.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:16 AM
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It's supposed to be only their factual judgment

Honestly, if that's the case, I find it hard to see what the point of a jury is.

If, on the other hand, the point of a jury is that a jury can, under cover of making factual judgments, actually make moral judgments, then it makes a lot of sense.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:18 AM
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308: But, I was on my way to give sandwiches to orphans when Party B tried to merge in front of me without signaling. I had to skin him alive.


Posted by: Party A | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:19 AM
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I think we can all agree here: PARTY!!!!


Posted by: Juror Andrew W.K. | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:21 AM
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305 is right. I've sometimes wondered if we shouldn't relieve juries of the potentially confusing burden of deciding "guilty/not guilty"/"plaintiff/defendant", and instead just instruct them to answer the series of relevent factual questions: was it proven [by a preponderance of the evidence/beyond a reasonable doubt] that A occured? That B occurred? That C occurred? That D did not occur? That E did not occur?

And then leave the calculation of a final verdict (if: A + (B or (C and ~D)) + ~E, then: Guilty) to the judge. I think you'd sometimes need 20+ questions, but that's doable. (And in those cases we're implicitly asking the jury to answer all those questions anyway.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:21 AM
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310: Honestly, if that's the case, I find it hard to see what the point of a jury is.

To have an unbiased (in theory) group of people determine what facts the parties have shown to be true, where they disagree. When the parties agree on the facts, and just disagree about the legal significance of those facts, the case shouldn't get to a jury.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:23 AM
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310 -- They take an oath to follow the instructions. And the instructions ask them to make factual judgments, resolving disputed accounts about what actually happened. Now it's true that no one can prevent a juror from saying 'I don't think the state has proven that this here good old boy beat up that there fag' when what he really thinks is 'gay people do not deserve the protection of the law.' It's not exactly the point of the jury system, though.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:25 AM
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Take heart. Usually, jury instructions and verdict forms proceed in something like the manner described in 313 -- separate findings of fact, for each element, that lead up to an overall verdict. I've seen forms with more than 20 questions. The Court, not the jury, enters the judgment.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:26 AM
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Okay, having talked about it this much, I'm no curious to get the opinions of the lawyers here about the case I was on. Here is the story to the best of my memory.

***

The defendant is in town after having spent the summer fishing in Alaska (I don't remember whether he had lived her prior). He is staying with his new girlfriend -- which means that he is sleeping on a couch in her mother's basement.

He has only been there for a week or a couple of weeks when the girlfriend's brother decides to host a party at the house. The brother invites his cousin and a close friend of the cousin both of whom bring their girlfriends. All of the men are in their early to mid twenties, two of the women are under 21.

About 4 hours into the party (with everybody drinking) the defendant's sister gets into a fight with the girlfriend of one of the people that he doesn't know. As that fight is breaking up the defendant goes upstairs into the kitchen and gets a knife.

The defendant waits upstairs for a short while and then comes back downstairs. He doesn't go back into the basement but stays either at the base of the stairs or in the hallway (details are unclear).

At some point he gets into a fight with one of the guys that he didn't know. Somebody describes the other person as having charged or lunged at the defendant and it's a little unclear how close or far apart they were from each other before the altercation occurred. The defendant stabs the person in the head (no real damage, mostly a scalp wound, but the ER doc who treated it described some minor bone splintering that made it clear that he was stabbed with the tip of the knife). The victim's friend intervenes to break up the fight and, while he's trying to get the knife away the defendant stabs him in the back (the defendant was in front of him, and reaching over him -- I assume they were wrestling in some way).

At this point the defendant's sister calls the cops. Everybody takes off (with the two people who have been hurt screaming a series of threats before driving off). At the time that the leave neither of the people thought that they were badly hurt but, after they get home, the person who was stabbed in the back realizes that he's in significant pain so they go to the ER.

Meanwhile the cops have showed up to the house and, essentially, everybody who is there is mostly trying to get the cops to leave. The cops do find the defendant, who is in a bedroom, and is withdrawn and non-responsive. I don't remember whether or not the cops knew that a stabbing had taken place, but they don't see the knife.

***

I'm sure there are more details but that is essentially the story.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:27 AM
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Honestly, if that's the case, I find it hard to see what the point of a jury is.

There is no point if you assume a fair and impartial judiciary, uninfluenced by the rapacious leviathan of the state. That wasn't typically a safe assumption at the time juries were conceived.

(They can independently be justified on grounds of jury nullification, although most people are uncomfortable doing that.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:28 AM
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To have an unbiased (in theory) group of people determine what facts the parties have shown to be true, where they disagree.

This alone isn't much of a justification for juries. Judges are unbiased (in theory).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:29 AM
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Usually, jury instructions and verdict forms proceed in something like the manner described in 313 -- separate findings of fact, for each element, that lead up to an overall verdict. I've seen forms with more than 20 questions. The Court, not the jury, enters the judgment.

Huh. This was not true on either of the two juries on which I've served (in two different states). I'm not a litigator, though--maybe it's common. It seems sensible.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:31 AM
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Unusually, perhaps, for lawyers, I've become a big believer in the jury system. Real questions of fact, where there is seriously disputed evidence, are pretty hard to resolve and often come down to what amounts to a judgment call about the facts (not a moral judgment, in neb's sense, just a judgment about what the evidence actually shows). It's very helpful to have different perspectives on those issues. I think it's really important to have folks other than judges who hear hundreds of cases per year deciding them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:31 AM
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317: Apropos of the thread the other day, it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to see that story ending in a homicide trial if there had been firearms in the picture.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:33 AM
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Apropos of the thread the other day

Which thread?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:35 AM
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317:

I would convict the one-armed man in that scenerio.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:47 AM
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323: The "More Guns, Less Crime" thread.

IANAL, but the description in 317 makes me think that NCP's diagnosis of "poor lawyering" might be correct. I believe a claim of self-defense is limited by a duty to retreat (i.e. if you can flee the scene to avoid expected bodily harm, you have to do that before resorting to violence). OTOH, a duty to retreat ordinarily doesn't apply when you're threatened in your own home, so there could be some ambiguity in this case: does crashing on your girlfriend's mother's couch make it your home? But the facts as described make it at least arguable that the conditions for a defense of self-defense were not met.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:49 AM
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I believe a claim of self-defense is limited by a duty to retreat

The defense attorney specifically said that this was not a requirement in our state, and wasn't challenged on that.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:51 AM
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so there could be some ambiguity in this case: does crashing on your girlfriend's mother's couch make it your home?

This may vary somewhat from state to state, but as a general rule, there's no ambiguity there, and the answer is yes, crashing on your girlfriend's mother's couch makes it (temporarily) your home, at least for most purposes under the law.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:53 AM
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In some states, not only is there no duty to retreat, but if you do, the DA will insult your masculinity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:54 AM
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But the facts as described make it at least arguable that the conditions for a defense of self-defense were not met.

I do agree, however, that it is arguable whether or not the legal conditions for self-defense were met. The standard that was at issue in this case, however, seemed to be whether stabbing somebody with a knife was a "reasonable" reaction (that is to say [c,w]ould a hypothetical "reasonable" person react that way in that situation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:54 AM
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I would convict the one-armed man in that scenerio.

How dare you bring my father into this, will.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:57 AM
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I think the whole voir dire process makes the jury system astoundingly corrupt. Are there countries where a jury is actually randomly selected?

As for the prom, my date is now a professional dancer and opera singer in an Eastern Bloc nation, with many clips on Youtube. After prom went to gay friend's parents' basement and watched, I believe, "Three To Tango" and "Scream 2".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:58 AM
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Did the defendant testify? Was there anything made of the fact (as you presented it) that he went and got a knife before he was involved in a fight -- like he was just waiting for an opportunity to use it (?).


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:06 PM
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The standard that was at issue in this case, however, seemed to be whether stabbing somebody with a knife was a "reasonable" reaction (that is to say [c,w]ould a hypothetical "reasonable" person react that way in that situation.

I am not a criminal lawyer, but I'm almost certain that this was not the right way to think about the standard. The question is usually something like "was the defendant in fact actually in serious and immediate bodily danger, such that his response was reasonable" not just a totally amorphous reasonableness standard.

Anyhow, I would almost certainly have voted to convict.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:10 PM
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What peep said. And, stabbed a dude in the head? At least out here, you'd need to articulate a reason why you thought you were in danger of serious injury or death. Someone trying to punch you in the face wouldn't cut it.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:10 PM
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I dunno, I feel like there ought to be a whole set of specific exemptions in law for injuries and deaths that result from situations where everyone involved has been drinking. Because seriously, I don't like getting stabbed at parties myself, but if I'm sitting around getting wasted with a bunch of people I don't really know, I'm clear on the fact that anything could happen. It usually doesn't, but there's always that chance.

That story kinda reminded me of one I heard from Alaska: Everybody is at a party, drinking, and there's a big dog there. One fellow notices the dog, and the dog's owner is like: "be careful, he's not mean, but he doesn't like to be fooled with either." So what does Einstein do? Sticks his face in the dogs muzzle and starts teasing it. Well, predictable result: the dog bites a chunk of his lip and cheek off. So they get him to the hospital and he's basically okay, except now he's got a bunch of butt skin grafted onto his face to make a new lip and cheek. Apparently they did a good job, but of course it's Alaska, so pretty much everybody knows he's a butt-face. The moral of the story is don't do stupid shit at parties when you're drunk unless you want to be whistling out of your asshole for the rest of your life.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:12 PM
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334: I remember being on a mock jury (which is a danger of being married to a law student). The defense wanted me to believe that a guy accidentally shot a woman, at her place of employment, the day after she broke-up with him. I was offended that they would argue something so obviously absurd and the fake lawyers were offended that I was getting other jurors convinced that it was first degree murder when the pizza came and we stopped.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:15 PM
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And, stabbed a dude in the head?

Stabbing the other dude in the back is a pretty bad fact, too. What, you were scared he was going to mule-kick you to death?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:16 PM
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One unmemorable prom, no juries.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:16 PM
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I feel like there ought to be a whole set of specific exemptions in law for injuries and deaths that result from situations where everyone involved has been drinking. Because seriously, I don't like getting stabbed at parties myself, but if I'm sitting around getting wasted with a bunch of people I don't really know, I'm clear on the fact that anything could happen.

Really? What about rape cases?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:17 PM
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But lots of camp dances which were way more magical than a prom.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:17 PM
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Well, that's why I said "specific". I mean, yeah, I don't have a lot of sympathy for rapists in general, even when there's alcohol involved. But I'm talking about the kind of thing where you've got two jerks acting the fool because they're drunk, and surprise, surprise, somebody falls out a window, or gets smashed through a glass coffee table, or cuts his foot off in the lawnmower or whatever. The kind of thing where if you were alone and sober it would just be bad luck, and if you hadn't started drinking, probably nothing bad would have happened.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:20 PM
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I remember being on a mock jury (which is a danger of being married to a law student).

I was the defendant in a mock trial at one of the various statewide nerd camps I attended. My defense attorney was one of the most celebrated lawyers in the state capital, a real character. One of my classmates was a witness for the prosecution. He dutifully recited from the briefing book he got that the perpetrator was about six feet tall. I was, at a stretch, five feet tall at the time. My lawyer put up a bitchin' defense and got me acquitted.

He made the mistake of putting me on the stand, though, where I proceeded to get myself tied up in knots by volunteering information. Afterwards my lawyer told me that if I ever found myself in a similar position again, to respond with the minimum amount of information required to be responsive to the question. I've taken that advice to heart in all my dealings with authority figures since then.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:22 PM
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Did the defendant testify?

No. Which, in my opinion was totally fine.

One thing that was obvious was that nobody was telling precisely the truth. Everybody was, inevitably, shading their description of things to match their prejudices (and, again, they were all trying to describe something that had happened quickly and chaotically several months previously -- I don't think that anybody could remember exactly what happened in an objective way). So, as a juror, I almost didn't want the defendant to testify because I knew that the emotional stakes would make it even more difficult to try to figure out what was true and what was spin.

Seriously -- whatever one's normal intuitions are about when people are lying, it felt like literally everybody who testified was lying at some point.
I'm certain that part of that is reading nervousness as "lying" and that everybody was nervous testifying in court.

Was there anything made of the fact (as you presented it) that he went and got a knife before he was involved in a fight -- like he was just waiting for an opportunity to use it (?).

That is the reason to convict (which would, now, be how I would lean). But, see natilo:

I feel like there ought to be a whole set of specific exemptions in law for injuries and deaths that result from situations where everyone involved has been drinking. .

I think it was some combination of bad decision making, and a combination of fear and aggression. What I can't tell you is what the combination of fear and aggression was.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:22 PM
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somebody falls out a window, or gets smashed through a glass coffee table, or cuts his foot off in the lawnmower or whatever

There's not "exemptions" when it comes to that stuff, but loads of those kind of calls don't result in arrests because often the injuries are from actions that lack intent. Or if there's an arrest, it's for a minor charge like public intox or disorderly conduct.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:25 PM
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Stabbing the other dude in the back is a pretty bad fact, too.

Again, I don't think the victim had turned his back on the defendant.

I imagine it as a situation similar to wrestling with somebody and hitting them on the shoulder blades while you're grappling only doing so while holding a knife.

One other detail that I've left out, which makes the entire situation even more awkward: the defendant is white, both of the people that he was fighting with were Hispanic (as were his girlfriend and her brother).

On one hand a big part of why I feel badly about the decision, in retrospect, is that I don't like being part of an all-white jury (it's a pretty white town) that acquitted a white person who stabbed two people of color. On the other hand, it is part of why I think he could feel like, if there were two sides in the fight, he was on the smaller side. But mostly I think it just makes the entire situation more touchy and makes me less confident in my ability to read it.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:28 PM
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Yeah, I was thinking about both criminal AND civil cases.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:29 PM
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Clearly I'm still conflicted about the case.

On one hand if you asked me whether I thought the defendant's actions were excusable or ethical I would say "no."

On the other hand, I'd really rather not convict anybody in a situation that I read as, "a bunch of people being stupid, drunk, and aggressive."

On the third hand the defendant clearly escalated the situation, and probably enough so that he did deserve to be convicted. On the forth hand he would have been at a serious disadvantage in a fight but (fifth hand) the way things turned out did not make it sound like the people that he was fighting with were seriously trying to hurt him.

If I had to vote now I'd vote for conviction but I wouldn't be happy about it. Mostly I just feel badly for everybody involved.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:36 PM
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As far as the specific case NickS is talking about, it does seem like, to the extent that there was intent, it was mutual. And to the extent that there was just poor decision making, it was also mutual. This really seems like one of those cases where a more restorative-justice type approach would make sense. I mean, what important lesson is going to be imparted by sending this guy to prison for a couple of years "don't get into fights with a bunch of people when you've all been drinking"? Because it seems like pretty much everybody involved needs to learn that lesson, and sending one person to jail, bandaging up another, and making everyone semi-perjure themselves seems like a poor way to teach it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:37 PM
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"don't get into fights with a bunch of people when you've all been drinking"?

I was thinking more along the lines of "escalating drunken fights with a weapon gets people seriously hurt", or "just because someone's drunk and belligerent doesn't mean you can stab them in the head".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:42 PM
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Those are good things to think about too.

Something semi-related that I've been thinking about recently: I read a fair amount of genre fiction which includes extensive descriptions of all sorts of hand-to-hand combat, both with weapons and without. And most of the writers seem to have done a fair amount of homework on how to write these fights out so that they sound plausible and exciting. And yet, when I actually see people fighting (which, despite living in a "bad neighborhood" and going to low dives, is not all that often) it usually seems like most people have not given the slightest bit of thought to how to fight. Seriously. The fights I see on the street have a lot more in common with that (Mad TV? SNL?) sketch where the tough-looking guy comes on like he's all hard, and then when he actually attacks someone, it's all kinda limp-wristed slappy stuff. The few fights I've seen where it looked like someone might get seriously hurt (and these are a very, very small minority of the actual fights I've witnessed) basically proceed along the lines of: "get a bunch of guys together around one guy you want to beat up, knock him down, and then start kicking him."

Seriously. Doesn't anyone take pride in personal combat anymore?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:51 PM
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Mostly I just feel badly for everybody involved.

Odds are they don't deserve it. Most of the time people are in these situations because drunken fights are their SOP and the case you were on is likely far from their first or last dance with the system.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:51 PM
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"just because someone's drunk and belligerent doesn't mean you can stab them in the head"

Send that one to Hallmark.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:52 PM
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Odds are they don't deserve it.

Perhaps, but it sounded like a mess all around.

At some point in the trial it came up that the family in who's house the fight had taken place (the girlfriend, her brother, and their mother) had all moved out of the state since the fight.

I don't think the brother was the one to say that but I remember him saying that he just hoped to be able to repair the rift in their family and to be able to make peace with his cousin again (and he said this while testifying for the defense that the defendant hadn't initiated the fight, which couldn't have made a reconciliation easier).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 12:56 PM
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350: Another indicator of our decline as a nation.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:01 PM
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Doesn't anyone take pride in personal combat anymore?

Even the Army is stopping bayonet training


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:08 PM
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Speaking of combat, how about the NPR report about the military spending more than 250 million a year on bands?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:35 PM
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356: Silly Bandz?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:41 PM
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357: We have a crap-ton of those.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:43 PM
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356: that doesn't seem high.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:48 PM
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351: wait, we can't feel bad for people who spend their lives getting in drunken fights and ending up in jail? Why on earth not? That sounds like a crappy way to live.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:49 PM
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My high school music teacher left teaching to join the army band. It was probably because we were really horrible at singing and making music in general.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:50 PM
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the military spending more than 250 million a year on bands?

Not near enough, to my mind. Good thing we have DADT, or it would be higher, with all the extra bandfags.


Posted by: John Philip Sousa | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 1:59 PM
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So the reason for all the bands is the huge number of WWII vets dying and requesting military funerals, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:03 PM
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A lot of great jazz players went through army bands. Maybe the army is just trying to continue that tradition.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:05 PM
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Seriously. Doesn't anyone take pride in personal combat anymore?

Dude, fighting with form is hard. Particularly when you're really jacked up on adrenaline. You tend to miss a lot more than you think you will. And it hurts.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:18 PM
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364: Yeah! Don't we support government funding for the arts?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:20 PM
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A high school drumline buddy joined the Army band early in 2001. I suspect he was sort of rethinking things come September, but he did all his service in South Korea. He once described a typical workday as (1) wake up, (2) rehearse till 5pm, and (3) do a jazz gig in Seoul at night.

He's now studying for the GMAT, though, so, you know.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:20 PM
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Leap Day bonus comment: when fighting as contest or performance it is a lot easier, for some reason to keep one's head.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:21 PM
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IANACL, and don't know the law in your jurisdiction, but on the facts I've read, I'd vote to convict in a minute. If there had been no knife, what sort of injuries would the defendant have suffered?

Defendant not testifying, well that's certainly his right as to the charge. Self-defense, though, strikes me as something on which he might bear the burden, and, while you can certainly try to establish this through other testimony, I'd expect him to take the stand and talk about how dangerous the situation really was (for reasons other than his escalation). Keeping him off the stand, though, seems to have been a good idea, not least because you didn't learn of his prior convictions for knife fighting (or whatever else he didn't want you to know about).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:26 PM
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Maybe the defendant couldn't be put on the stand because he would have to make the "That's not a knife" joke. Some people can't stop themselves.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:31 PM
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Typically, there is no duty to retreat. But if you
have another option, you have to take it.

The guy going upstairs, arming himself, and then coming back downstairs would make his self-defense case difficult.

You might get a break with the old, "this victim needed a good killing/ass kicking/etc" but I doubt it.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:35 PM
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IANACL, and don't know the law in your jurisdiction,

Here's the first thing I can find (emphasis mine):

In Washington State self defense is deemed an affirmative defense against Assault allegations; essentially an affirmative defense admits, or otherwise recognizes, that the act took place, but was done under lawful pretense based on the totality of the circumstances. Under Washington State law, the use of force against another person is lawful: (1) when used by a person who reasonably believes that he is about to be injured, and (2) when the force is not more than is necessary. The person using the force may use such force that a reasonable person would use under the same circumstances. The determination of reasonableness is made from the perspective of the person using the force taking into consideration, however, all the facts and circumstances known to the person at the time of the incident. The reasonableness of the use of force is not judged from the perspective of hindsight, nor is reasonableness assessed by what a person should have done after thinking it through. Washington State law requires that the use of force be "necessary"; in other words, no reasonably effective alternative to the use of force appeared to exist. The law is based on the presumption that a person in Washington State has a right to stand his ground in a place he has a right to be, and that he has a right to defend himself by the use of lawful force; the law does not impose a duty to retreat. Interestingly, in Washington State, it is not the burden of a defendant to prove that he acted in self defense. To the contrary, it is the prosecutor's burden to prove to the jury -beyond a reasonable doubt - that the force used was not done in self defense.

A couple of thoughts.

It seems obvious to me that a sober person would not have found it reasonable to use a knife in that situation. It was never addressed during the trial whether the "totality of circumstances" includes the fact that the defendant had impaired judgment at the time.

I think that it's a significant stretch to claim that the violence was "necessary" and I think that's a solid reason to vote to convict. When arguing for acquittal I only argued that I had "reasonable doubt" not that, if I had to guess, I thought he was acting in a reasonable manner.

Which leads me to the final sentence, which I highlighted, is interesting to me because the prosecuting attorney really didn't do much to attack the self defense claim. That does make it sound like a poor job on his part. What's interesting is that I don't remember that specific feature of the law coming up in the judges instructions to the jury. I remember the defense attorney talking about the legal standard for self-defense (and saying something very close to the quoted passage, but my memory is not reliable enough to say that it was identical) but I don't remember the judge giving us a specific instruction on that topic (there was, of course, the general instructions about what "reasonable doubt" meant as a standard.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:45 PM
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Doesn't sound to me like a situation the criminal justice system could do much to improve.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:45 PM
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"I was drunk" doesn't fly in UT.

76-2-306. Voluntary intoxication.
Voluntary intoxication shall not be a defense to a criminal charge unless such intoxication negates the existence of the mental state which is an element of the offense; however, if recklessness or criminal negligence establishes an element of an offense and the actor is unaware of the risk because of voluntary intoxication, his unawareness is immaterial in a prosecution for that offense.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:50 PM
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The guy going upstairs, arming himself, and then coming back downstairs would make his self-defense case difficult.

The discussion of this point among the jurors included two items: (1) That his sister, who had been involved in the prior fight, was still downstairs and (2) that, when he went back downstairs with the knife, it isn't clear that he did so with the intention of attacking anybody (that is to say, he didn't go downstairs and start swinging, he probable did something like going downstairs and waving a knife around saying something like, "everybody stay away from my" or "don't mess with me, I have a knife" while staying in the basic vicinity of the base of the stairs).

Essentially the jurors decided that, while grabbing a knife was a bad idea, they also (as "reasonable people") would have gone back downstairs.

I say, "the jurors" because that wasn't a part of the discussion in which I had a strong position of advocacy.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:51 PM
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I was drunk" doesn't fly in UT.

Your honor, my client was too drunk to know he shouldn't drive while under the influence.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:52 PM
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I got jury duty last May and pushed the time forward. I'm not going to try to get out of it, since I picked a time before even classes start. Might be interesting.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:52 PM
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"I was drunk" doesn't fly in UT.

Good to know and, all I can say, is that it, surprisingly, wasn't brought up one way or the other during the trial (and, of course, jurors are prohibited from doing external research).

Had the prosecuting attorney said something like, "the fact that the defendant was drunk does not absolve them from the responsibility to behave in the ways that a 'reasonable' sober person would in that situation" I, for one, would have found that a very strong argument.

I do think that the defense attorney was working harder during the trial but, of course, she had to -- she had the more difficult side of the case.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:55 PM
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I am sorting of hoping that my now being in a non-legal position will allow me to sneak onto a jury at some point.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:55 PM
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I should add that I hope everybody takes my story as an argument for why it's good to serve on juries.

I'm conflicted about the actual decision we rendered but I thought that the presence of a jury was clearly valuable in that case and that, when the decisions are difficult, it's good to have as many people on the jury who are thinking clearly and logically as possible.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 2:59 PM
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I'm still wondering what it's going to be like the first time I get called for jury duty. Now that I vote and have a house and what not, it seems like it shouldn't take too much longer before my name comes up.

I mean, the thing is, I do believe, strongly, in jury nullification -- that's the whole point of having juries, it seems to me. And I have many grievances against the police. And I'm suspicious of most judges as well. And I advocate revolution. I mean, what prosecutor in their right mind would want me on a jury? So it seems like if I'm honest, I'll get stuck in the pool until the time runs out or whatever, and if I want to be on a jury, it's only going to happen if nobody asks me the most pertinent questions.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:04 PM
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381.1: I've voted for 20 years and had a car registered for the same period of time. For all but two of those years, I've had a lease in my name or a mortgage in my name. Never been called.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:07 PM
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German criminal law has a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card if you're completely drunk: the doctrine of verminderte Schuldfähigkeit. The obvious potential for miscarriage of justice led the Nazi government to criminalize the act of getting yourself so drunk that you commit a crime you can't be prosecuted for, which law still stands. Yay, Nazis!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:08 PM
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So ... once you've accepted the initial penalty it's open season for as long as you can remain hammered?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:14 PM
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Imagine the havoc Jackie Chan could legally cause.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:20 PM
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Learn something every say. This is from a 1997 Washington case:

Evidence of self-defense is evaluated "from the standpoint of the reasonably prudent person, knowing all the defendant knows and seeing all the defendant sees."  [State v.] Janes, 121 Wash.2d [220,] ․ 238, [850 P.2d 495, 22 A.L.R.5th 921 (1993) ] (citing [State v.] Allery, 101 Wash.2d [591,] ․ 594, [682 P.2d 312 (1984) ] ).   This standard incorporates both objective and subjective elements.   The subjective portion requires the jury to stand in the shoes of the defendant and consider all the facts and circumstances known to him or her;  the objective portion requires the jury to use this information to determine what a reasonably prudent person similarly situated would have done.  Janes, 121 Wash.2d at 238, 850 P.2d 495.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:22 PM
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Provided he started his binge in, say, Denmark.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:23 PM
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384: Yeah, pretty much. There have been some pretty awful cases (eg arson attacks resulting in fiery death of child asylum-seekers) where the defense has argued Schuldunfaehigkeit. .


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:26 PM
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LB: It's supposed to be only their factual judgment... They shouldn't be making moral or legal judgments at all. ... They do, of course, and sometimes they should in terms of what the right thing to do is, but not in terms of how the system is supposed to work.

This strikes me as precisely the wrong way to go about things. What's facing you is a decision: vote one way or not, say "yes" or "no" at voir dire. These decisions have more-or-less predictable consequences. At a first cut, we should aim at making things better, but [insert standard objections to straw-man consequentialism], so instead various things intervene--duties, habits, virtues, institutions, professions, etc.--aimed at excluding certain otherwise-apparently-valid reasons.

All well and good. But the point is, it all has to be grounded in morality; that's the only place the normativity comes from. At each stage, there has to be reason to accept the exclusion of otherwise-compelling reasons, and not simply because "that's the system"--the law may present itself as a seamless web, but its addressees don't have to accept that self-presentation, and ought not accept it. Do criminal/civil trials actually go better if jurors limit their judgements to what they're told, if they let themselves get kicked out at voir dire because of qualms about lying? Doubtful, but particularly doubtful in cases of bad, overly punitive laws--of which the USA has a gazillion.

Lawyers and judges often act like there's some uncontested, uncontroversial telos in the legal system, one that part-time participants ought to respect. But that doubly crazy--it's a historically contingent, institutionalized normative system that's been created through the struggles of various powerful actors over time, and as a result neither univocal nor particularly ethical. Not only can jurors pick and choose, they necessarily do--it's just that most refuse to take responsibility for their choices.
[/humorless political theorist]


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:33 PM
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All of my 'should's there were describing the rules of the game -- the legal role of jurors is to make factual determinations, rather than legal or moral ones. On whether jurors should be stepping outside their roles as defined by the legal system? Um, sometimes, maybe? On the other hand, they're generally not in a good position to fully evaluate the rights and wrongs of any given situation -- they're intentionally kept isolated from anything but the evidence relevant to the specific factual determinations that are their job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:40 PM
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381: And I advocate revolution. ... So it seems like if I'm honest ... it's only going to happen if nobody asks me the most pertinent questions.

Again, I'm puzzled. You rightly reject the claims of political authority, even to the point of advocating revolution. But you think you're bound to tell the truth to the man in the robe, when what he'll do with this information is prevent you from interfering with the operation of laws you claim to distrust?

I'm not saying honesty is for suckers--many exercises of coercive authority are only made at all tolerable if accompanied by sincere reasons. But you're in precisely the opposite position--at least in a criminal trial, which is what I'm assuming for the sake of argument--in a unanimity situation, you'll (more or less, first-cut simplification) only be pivotal if the defendant is on the verge of conviction. Which is to say, is about to be locked in a cage and stripped of most personal, civil, and political rights. In such a situation, you're potentially that defendant's last chance for protection from coercive authority--the usual arguments for honesty just don't carry much weight. Pace Christine O'Donnell, and Kant.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:47 PM
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On whether jurors should be stepping outside their roles as defined by the legal system? Um, sometimes, maybe?

Put me in the "Sometimes, maybe" camp as well. On the one hand, War on Drugs. OTOH, the bulk of actual, factual jury nullification cases have probably involved perpetrating injustice against black people in one way or another, so it's not something I want to uncritically encourage.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:50 PM
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And plenty of that evidence is withheld from them for various reasons. They don't have the information to act as philosopher kings/queens, even if that was what we wanted from them.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:52 PM
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391: The way I figure it, I'm not going to perjure myself, or act in such a way that I'm liable to be held for contempt, when there's a reasonable possibility that it's going to be some frivolous case, or something where my vote for acquittal wouldn't matter.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:52 PM
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All of my 'should's there were describing the rules of the game ... [not] whether jurors should be stepping outside their roles as defined by the legal system

But judges don't get to unilaterally set the rules of the game, and then hand it to the juror as a take-it-or-leave-it deal. Seeing it like that--as two separate and complete normative systems, such that you either accept The Law's view, and take the judges' word for it, or make your own decision--is a false dichotomy. The law sets up a number of institutions, expectations, patterns, and these have moral impact just like anything else does, but the impact they have on the space of reasons is variable and context-sensitive. Flattening it out into that two-step process might sometimes be justified, but it's odd to think it would be justified across precisely the domain the law claims for itself--especially in, say, the United States, where we're collectively barbaric about punishment.

Ok, gaaah, need to plan friend's bachelor party. Don't worry--I'm not just going to accept the internal normative perspective of that particular institution, either!


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:55 PM
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395: I'm really sorry that we seem to have upset you, x.

What I was trying to express was that I have a lot of ambivalence about what the right course of action would be if I, as an anarchist, were called for jury duty. So your intervention may indeed help me clarify that for myself.

I hope the bachelor party planning goes well.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 3:59 PM
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I think serious instances of jury nullification -- that is, the facts say you're guilty, but the law is wrong, so, acquittal -- are vanishingly rare, and should be. Nullification is essentially criminal. I mean, I guess if you're into breaking the law to promote revolution, that's one (extremely ineffective) way to do it, but it's not much different than breaking a store window in a protest march. I don't think jurors get to decide what the law is, that's not their purpose or function, and the system relies on jurors not just making up what the law is to suit their preferences.

I think sometimes people get nullification confused with something quite different, which is allowing one's background sense of who's credible and who's not -- corporations, criminals, cops -- to inflect one's consideration of the evidence. That happens all the time, of course, and is kind of the point of the jury system.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:01 PM
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At each stage, there has to be reason to accept the exclusion of otherwise-compelling reasons, and not simply because "that's the system"--the law may present itself as a seamless web, but its addressees don't have to accept that self-presentation, and ought not accept it.

FWIW, I thought that was particularly well stated.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:01 PM
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But judges don't get to unilaterally set the rules of the game, and then hand it to the juror as a take-it-or-leave-it deal.

I'm feeling simpleminded here, but on a simpleminded level, they do (or, not 'set' the rules, but state and enforce the rules set by the legislature and by higher courts). At a trial court level, they're supposed to be like football refs -- applying, rather than making, neutrally applicable rules.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:01 PM
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One guy says the light was red, and the other says the light was green. We ask jurors to decide which one they believe. We do not ask them to decide whether traffic should be regulated, either at that intersection or in general, or whether green should mean stop and red go.

In voir dire, you're asked if you have any problem following instructions and putting your feelings aside, and then, having said you don't, you have to promise under oath to follow the instructions.

There are plenty of laws I don't like either, but if we're going to drop even the pretense of equality before the law, I don't think the majority of folks reading these words are going to like the result.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:01 PM
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need to plan friend's bachelor party

Smokers or drinkers?

Celebration of the female form through interpretive dance doesn't have to be on the menu, but it depends on the constituency.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:01 PM
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399, 400-- Right -- the whole point of the legal system is to set the rules of the game. You don't get to have an iterative relationship with the law, taking or leaving whatever feels good to you. That's kinda the whole point of having it be the law and a legal determination in the courtroom.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:04 PM
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I found this excerpt from the Minnesota judiciary's webpage on "Coping After Jury Service" an interesting gloss to the reading I did on FIJA/nullification as sparked by this discussion:

# Resist negative thoughts about verdict.
# No matter what others think about the verdict, your opinion is the only one that matters.
# You don't have to prove yourself to anyone.

This is just a webpage, of course, and does not have the force of law, but it certainly seems to be leaning towards a pro-nullification position, depending on your interpretation.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:10 PM
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Knowing that we have a fairly strict intoxication defense statute, I thought I'd take a look at the Washington code.

WA: No act committed by a person while in a state of voluntary intoxication shall be deemed less criminal by reason of his condition, but whenever the actual existence of any particular mental state is a necessary element to constitute a particular species or degree of crime, the fact of his intoxication may be taken into consideration in determining such mental state.

MT: A person who is in an intoxicated condition is criminally responsible for the person's conduct, and an intoxicated condition is not a defense to any offense and may not be taken into consideration in determining the existence of a mental state that is an element of the offense unless the defendant proves that the defendant did not know that it was an intoxicating substance when the defendant consumed, smoked, sniffed, injected, or otherwise ingested the substance causing the condition.

So, if you're going to get all fucked up and do something really stupid, go to Washington.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:11 PM
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This Second Circuit case has the best recent discussion of nullification that I'm aware of, and represents what I think is the establishment legal view on the subject.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:11 PM
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To clarify, that was the 4th district's page.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:11 PM
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That's kinda the whole point of having it be the law and a legal determination in the courtroom.

I remember seeing James Burke in "The Day The Universe Changed" talking about how the robes and wigs in court being part of the visual clues that we are not making this up as we go along. Tradition makes people feel more comfortable with rules.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:12 PM
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There are plenty of laws I don't like either, but if we're going to drop even the pretense of equality before the law, I don't think the majority of folks reading these words are going to like the result.

This is what Jimmy Smits' character argued in that new SC-Justice-steps-down-to-do-some-honest-lawyerin' show regarding a controversial new law in Arizona.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:14 PM
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I remember seeing James Burke in "The Day The Universe Changed" talking about how the robes and wigs in court being part of the visual clues that we are not making this up as we go along. Tradition makes people feel more comfortable with rules.

One of my big takeaways from serving on a jury was that, to a large extent, it does consist of people making things up as they go along.

Obviously there are lots of rules and structure -- it isn't being made up from nothing, but it ultimately comes down to a bunch of people (the jury, but also the judge) making a bunch of decisions about how to interpret what's going on.

Honestly I found that comforting. It all felt very human.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:18 PM
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One of my big takeaways from Jury Duty was not to wheeze the juice. Or maybe that was some other Pauly Shore movie.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:26 PM
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404.last: On the advice of counsel, I've purchased a ticket to Seattle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:36 PM
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405 was interesting, but I remain unconvinced. The argument in the decision basically boils down to "we always have to say that we're right, even when we're wrong, or people will never respect us". Ultimately, I think this line of reasoning contradicts itself. If I, as a citizen, know that the considered opinion of the courts is that unjust laws must always be followed to the letter, because they are the law, and that no one should have the power to ameliorate that injustice, except through legislative action, then really, why should I have any respect for the courts at all?

Obviously, as a citizen anarchist, I've already thought this through and figured out where I stand: I don't think unjust laws should be followed, merely because they are the law, and furthermore I think the fact that this system of government allows this contradiction to stay in place is one of the many reasons why it is invalid and should be overthrown.

Right now, this very minute, a number of people who I've known for half my life are being investigated under the incredibly unjust and arbitrary set of laws we have around terrorism in this country. I'm morally certain that they're not guilty in any meaningful sense of the term. They've been peace activists forever, and all of their activism takes the form of what ought to be totally protected First Amendment political speech. However, I have no idea what the outcome of this investigation is going to be, since the laws against materially supporting so-called foreign terrorist organizations have been written so broadly, and interpreted so badly, that it seems entirely possible that they're going to be convicted of something if they draw a jury who will support the obviously unjust law. They've already had their lives turned upside down by the investigation -- doors broken, papers stolen, passports and cellphones and computers confiscated -- and if the investigation is proved, somehow, to be baseless, will the legal terrorists who instigated it ever be punished? Of course not.

So yeah "equality before the law", sounds like a nice idea, tell me when you find some.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:36 PM
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412 -- Again, rather a jury that follows instructions regarding the various defenses -- instructions that should embed First Amendment concerns -- than one that just decides to convict because it doesn't like radicals.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:46 PM
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as a citizen anarchist

I haven't got the game yet, but I hear this is an Industrial era military unit in Civ 5.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:47 PM
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413: But what about Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project? Basically there are no First Amendment rights at this point if the government says the magic word "terrorism". As a radical, I'm going into any court pretty much assured that the majority of the jury will already be against me, as will the judge, the prosecutor, the cops, and probably a lot of witnesses too. They don't need nullification, the cards are already stacked in their favor.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:53 PM
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You don't get to have an iterative relationship with the law, taking or leaving whatever feels good to you.

Well, except that the rule of law isn't an end in itself, it's an instrumental tool to achieve justice. Now, it's a useful tool, and it's the sort of tool that only works when there's very broad buy-in, so generally the statement above has to be something close to the default mindset, and it's almost certainly right that if we lost that, most people here would be very unhappy about the result. But: there are times when this instrumental tool we call the law is getting in the way of justice. When that happens, and it's a situation where the law safely be ignored with breaking its general utility as a tool for justice, there's good reason to ignore the law and opt for justice. Jury nullification largely fits this, IMO.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 4:57 PM
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Seriously. Doesn't anyone take pride in personal combat anymore?

Dude, fighting with form is hard.?

I've known people who were pretty seriously good at fighting people for real [not martial artists, just headcases where I grew up], and they had fairly decent form while 'working'. But it was simple stuff: just throw solid punches until the other guy caves. But there was nothing random or slappy about it. Most people can't kick for shit, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:07 PM
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This is all interesting to me right now because I've recently been thinking about a lot the same thoughts w/r/t democracy (which is also, IMO, not an end in itself, but a tool to achieve political justice). I don't trust the American right, and I'm not longer sure that peacefully handing them power is the best way to achieve just outcomes. (Following an election loss, I mean.) Civil war would be a bitch, though, so it's a tough question.

(It's not completly outside the realm of my imagination that Palin/Beck '12 would run on some absolutely batshit campaign promise to, I don't know, order a nuclear strike Iran on the day of their inauguration, the sincerity of which I'd have no reason to doubt. I don't really think this is realistic (or that they'd win an election, in that case), but it's not completely unimaginable, if you see what I mean. In that case I'm more or less sure that accepting the outcome of the election and peacefully handing them power would be a mistake. And I don't just mean that citizens should stand in the streets with giant puppets, I mean that the military should intervene.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:09 PM
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Lex iniusta non est lex.


Posted by: Augustine | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:10 PM
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Exactly.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:13 PM
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415 -- I don't know what your friends are accused of doing, but Holder has a number of limitations and caveats.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:19 PM
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OT: Why is Pete Rose replacing Rahm Emanuel? Even without the gambling, he is too old and inexperienced.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:22 PM
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Jury nullification largely fits this, IMO.

In theory, in some circumstances, I should say. In practice, or generally? Probably not, mostly.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:23 PM
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422: Because the Reds have taken over the White House! I warned about this!


Posted by: Glenn Beck | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:24 PM
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I didn't listen. I just didn't listen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:26 PM
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422: Nice.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:26 PM
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422 424


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:27 PM
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427: You too?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:30 PM
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421: Limitations and caveats that seem to be pretty irrelevant to the Fibbies.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:33 PM
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389.2 and .last and subsequent: I don't want to make you cringe, x.Trapnel, but it's unfortunate that you had to walk away from your discipline in the academy. (Cringe! That's roughly what my advisor told me when I left my program A.B.D. as well. It was nice to hear, but sigh, well.)

Anyway, you think well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 5:57 PM
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418: In that case I'm more or less sure that accepting the outcome of the election and peacefully handing them power would be a mistake. And I don't just mean that citizens should stand in the streets with giant puppets, I mean that the military should intervene.

Let's make sure they don't win the election (2012, certainly, but also the midterms), shall we? Seriously, let's get out there, friends. If you're not sufficiently worried, watch Fox News for an hour or so. Bill Kristol wants to bomb Iran and is telling the nation that Obama is a fairy if he doesn't do it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:28 PM
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I'm not really advocating jury nullification, on the practical grounds that others have cited (the jury pool being what it is, in most jurisdictions we'd see more cases of "you can't blame a fellow for shootin' a fag that came onto him" than "we oughtn't punish a doctor for neglecting these outrageous personal disclosure requirements for abortion patients".

As a practical matter, adherence to the rule of law is the smarter bet.

But in principle, I don't think it's as clear cut as Charlie and Halford make it out to be. The cops exercise discretion about whether to arrest, as gswift acknowledges. Prosecutors exercise discretion about whether and how aggressively to prosecute. Judges exercise (within limits) discretion over sentencing. Why should the juror be the only participant in the process who is forbidden to take any subjective sense of justice into account in his decision?

It can't be because the juror lacks formal legal training. The cop who turns a blind eye because involving the criminal justice system would hurt more than it helps is making a moral and/or pragmatic judgment, not a legal one. The prosecutor who presses a lesser charge because the defendant is a good kid from a good family who made a mistake is doing the same, as is the judge who hands down a suspended sentence to a first-time offender.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:34 PM
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431: You can put me in the "opposed to a coup" group also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:39 PM
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I like fairies.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:48 PM
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434: In fairness, the man promised us unicorns, and fairies is pretty damn close.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:50 PM
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433: Indeed, the empirical record of military coups at advancing progressive goals is rather poor*, especially when they are launched against democratically elected governments. Put me in the "the Republic survived 8 years of Bush, we'll survive four of Palin, though possibly without me as a citizen" camp.


* I'll concede that the case of Portugal in 1974 keeps it from being a complete open-and-shut case.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:50 PM
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The cop who turns a blind eye because involving the criminal justice system would hurt more than it helps is making a moral and/or pragmatic judgment, not a legal one. The prosecutor who presses a lesser charge because the defendant is a good kid from a good family who made a mistake is doing the same, as is the judge who hands down a suspended sentence to a first-time offender.

Sure, that's right (although, and IANACL, my understanding is that judges have lost discretion to hand down suspended sentences in many such cases). But nullification is a different animal, and a very distinct thing. The difference is a difference in roles. The jury is being asked to determine whether or not the disputed facts that make up the elements of a crime (or a civil cause of action) have been proven, based on their understanding of the evidence at trial. That's it. That's a factual determination. The jury does not have, as a matter of right, the ability to discretionarily enforce the law -- the legal system has already made the decision that the legal system will apply, and the jury's role is to find facts within that system. A juror who says "I've found that all the facts happened as the prosecution (or the plaintiff) alleged, but I think that the law is an abomination, so the plaintiff goes free" is not really acting as a juror, but as something else. Exercising discretion in enforcement based on non-legal factors is the job of cops, prosecutors, and civil plaintiffs, but it's not something jurors are supposed to be doing.

Nullification is a form of lawbreaking. Sometimes, lawbreaking is a good thing, and we call it "civil disobedience." When, more often, it's a bad thing, we call that simply illegal. I'd argue that in most current US cases, even with unjust laws, attempting jury nullification is a poor kind of civil disobedience, but that's what it is, and as such it violates the notionof equal protection under the law.

Obviously, the system is set up so that nullification is possible (although real nullification is in practice extremely rare). But that's really just a consequence of preserving the ability of the jury to make factual determinations.

Just to be clear, jurors have plenty of discretion -- I'm not saying they don't. But it should be discretion to weigh the relative importance of facts put into evidence, not to exercise discretion in enforcing the law.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:54 PM
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I honestly can't believe I just wrote "and the plaintiff goes free" above. Revoke my J.D.! And I haven't even finished proofreading that last comment.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:55 PM
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434: So do I. I guess you could go door to door asking people whether they really want to kill Tinkerbell.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 6:57 PM
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436: Put me in the "the Republic survived 8 years of Bush, we'll survive four of Palin, though possibly without me as a citizen" camp.

There are too many citizens without that option who won't survive very well. I don't advocate a military coup, but try to be less cavalier.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:07 PM
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The difference is a difference in roles.... The jury does not have, as a matter of right, the ability to discretionarily enforce the law -- the legal system has already made the decision that the legal system will apply, and the jury's role is to find facts within that system.

Show me in the statute book where it says gswift has, as a matter of right, the ability to send the two drunken, brawling brothers home who committed the crime of assault in front of multiple witnesses at the softball game. His role is to enforce the law without fear or favor. Except that institutionally, the police have claimed for themselves the authority to make pragmatic determinations about when their authority to arrest people and refer them for prosecution serves the interest of public safety and order, and when it doesn't.

As a practical matter, I'm in full agreement that jury nullification should be treated with exceptional trepidation, but as a philosophical matter, I don't see it as any more problematic than exercise of discretion by any other cog in the criminal justice machine.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:11 PM
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I don't advocate a military coup, but try to be less cavalier

Honestly, do you think vigorously supporting the Democrats in the coming midterms is going to make much difference? Obama rode the progressive hope and enthusiasm into the White House, where he has since proceeded to piss all over it. F the country is fucked, the elections really aren't the place to fix it.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:16 PM
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Yes, I do, Di. It's not fantastic, but it's all we've got. Sorry. I don't take any other response seriously. The Republicans are far too fucked up and irresponsible to be allowed to run this country.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:21 PM
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, do you think vigorously supporting the Democrats in the coming midterms is going to make much difference?

Think back: did the Clinton administration pay more attention to progressive causes before or after the 1994 midterms?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:22 PM
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Show me in the statute book where it says gswift has, as a matter of right, the ability to send the two drunken, brawling brothers home who committed the crime of assault in front of multiple witnesses at the softball game.

It's pretty much black-letter law in the USA, and I believe always has been. Cops and prosecutors have discretion on how best to use the resources of the state for law enforcement. For some case cites that I pulled up in a couple seconds (and, again, I'm not a criminal lawyer): Bordenkircher v. Hayes, 434 U.S. 357, 364, (1978) (""[S]o long as the prosecutor has probable cause to believe that the accused committed an offense defined by statute, the decision whether or not to prosecute, and what charge to file or bring before a grand jury, generally rests entirely in his discretion.");Wayte v. United States, 470 U.S. 598, 607(1985) ("In our criminal justice system, the Government retains 'broad discretion' as to whom to prosecute.").

I'm sure I could find other, better cites, but that's really a pretty fundamental principle. There is a big difference between the decision to initiate prosecution (or litigation) and a juror's role within that system, which is simply to weigh the evidence and reach a concusion about the facts.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:27 PM
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I am reminded of a line from _The_Godfather_: "Now who's being naïve, Kate?"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:27 PM
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445: Got a cite for the proposition that juror nullification is "illegal"?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:33 PM
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445 was me.

And I agree fully with 444 -- people who sincerely think that (a) progressive politics would be better off if the Republicans take both houses in November; or (b) things wouldn't be that different with Republicans in power have incredibly short memories. I hate it that people who are pissed off because they didn't get their pony are helping to kill off what little chance we have for realistic progress.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:37 PM
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Fuck progressive causes at this point, by the way. We're just talking about continuing welfare programs, providing unemployment insurance and protecting existing health and human services.

Anyone who thinks the Republicans aren't more of a distinct and active threat to those things than the Democrats hasn't been paying attention. Even remotely.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:38 PM
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447 -- Yes. I cited it in 405. Which I believe is the leading current case on nullification. "Inasmuch as no juror has a right to engage in nullification-and, on the contrary, it is a violation of a juror's sworn duty to follow the law as instructed by the court-trial courts have the duty to forestall or prevent such conduct, whether by firm instruction or admonition or, where it does not interfere with guaranteed rights or the need to protect the secrecy of jury deliberations . . . . by dismissal of an offending juror from the venire or the jury."

The decision recognizes that, under our system, courts sometimes cannot enforce against nullification, but that does not mean it is not a violation of the juror's duties.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:42 PM
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445: You cite case law, not statute. Which is consistent with my claim that the police (you refer to prosecutors, I to police, but the point is the same) have institutionally claimed for themselves a particular scope of discretion. The courts have endorsed that claim (a mere contingent fact of legal history, as someone noted above).

While case law smiles on prosecutorial discretion and frowns on jury nullification, Lawmakers have AFAIK declined to endorse the former or criminalize the latter. So we're talking about a legal convention (a good one, on balance, but still just a convention) that with equally valid philosophical justification could be exactly the inverse of what it actually is.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:43 PM
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Show me in the statute book where it says gswift has, as a matter of right, the ability to send the two drunken, brawling brothers home who committed the crime of assault in front of multiple witnesses at the softball game.

Brothers would be a mandatory arrest due to the overly broad nature of DV laws. But, friends or strangers in bar, game, etc.? We send them home all the time with no police action other than breaking it up.

Granted this is with the stipulation of mutual combat without anything like serious injuries or weapons that would raise the incident to a felony. If anyone demands an arrest or documentation we write a report, give them the case number, and tell them to press charges with the city prosecutor. Because once everyone sobers up and cools down the actual number of people willing to spend the necessary time in court over a fistfight is approximately 0.

In UT, these are probably the most relevant codes.

77-7-2. Arrest by peace officers.
A peace officer may make an arrest under authority of a warrant or may, without warrant, arrest a person:...

77-2-3. Termination of investigative action.
Prior to the commencement of prosecution, the prosecutor may, without approval of a magistrate, authorize a termination of investigative action when it appears that further investigative action is not in the public interest.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:49 PM
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452.last illustrates the hazards of my plunging into topics I'm not well informed about.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:52 PM
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Not to be a dick, but I seriously don't understand 451. The fact that officers charged with enforcing the law have discretion not to prosecute everything that's arguably a crime is not "a contingent fact of legal history." Discretionary action is what law enforcement is and always has been, and, really needs to be. The state can't -- and could never -- function if there was some duty to formally charge everything that was on the books as a crime and introduce the perpetrator to legal process. Cops are not Robocop-like automatons who have to automatically dispense precise punishments for statutory violations whenever they encounter them. That's just a fundamental misunderstanding of how both law enforcement and the criminal law work.

I also don't understand, at all, your distinction between statute and caselaw. The freedom of a prosecutor not to prosecute is basically just the common law, and predates criminal statutes.

(Also, while I'm not particularly knowledgeable about civil law countries, I'm sure a similar distinction, allowing for police discretion in decisions not to prosecute, exists in those countries as well.).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:56 PM
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That said, the first use of "may" in boldface might prove too much. Does an officer really have the discretion to decline to execute an arrest warrant? Because that's kinda disturbing.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:56 PM
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This is not exactly relevant, but Rowan, the kid in our state we may adopt someday, both turns 16 and finally has to testify against his dad in he coming week. I know these kinds of abuse cases are difficult on jurors and I know he has the potential to be a great witness just from what he's shared with me, but he's also fed up with how long it's taken for this to get to trial (dad's been in jail for almost 15 months, I think) and it's making him more resistant to have to go over all of this yet again. I'll be there in the courtroom if it's not cleared and otherwise out in the hall playing cards and keeping him occupied, but I'm scared and worried about this even though I have no control at all. I know there's other testimony and evidence and I truly believe it will work out in his favor. Well, I hope so and I'm also grateful it will let him finish this chapter and start dealing with things differently, but argh!!!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 7:58 PM
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Does an officer really have the discretion to decline to execute an arrest warrant?

Do it with minor offenses and traffic warrants all the time. Just tell them to get it taken care of. Serving every podunk traffic warrant you run across is a waste of resources.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:07 PM
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Generally speaking it's understood that the greater the offense the less the discretion. Some misdemeanor offenses like DV and DUI are mandatory arrest.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:09 PM
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Yeah, I should have made the point in 458 -- the legislature has sometimes mandated arrest in particular cases, especially things like domestic violence where there was fear that cops systematically weren't enforcing the law. But those are really exceptions to a general background American (I think Anglo-American) rule of discretionary enforcement.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:16 PM
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454: Don't get me wrong, I think it's right and proper that police and prosecutors have discretionary authority; the track record of "zero tolerance" policies strikes me as sufficient proof of that. And yes, even in cicil law countries... The phrase "Liegt im Ermessen des Beamten ("Lies in the discretion of the official") crops up all over the place in German legal proceedings.

All that said, the division of labor among police, prosecutors, judges, prosecuting magistrates (where such a thing exists), and juries is historically contingent. Various parties have arrogated for themselves at various times in various countries various authorities. The right of defendants to have juries of their peers decide guilt or innocence is historically contingent. From time to time judges and legislators have stepped in to reallocate authority and restrict or expand discretion (think minimum sentences or penalty phases in capital trials).

The system we ended up with is one of countless possible outcomes. It reflects, as others have noted, the constellation of power that prevailed at various times in our history (nobles versus king, law and order faction versus ACLU). There's no reason apart from pragmatism to favor the "division of labor" we ended up with over any other.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:20 PM
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Best of wishes to Rowan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:21 PM
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I agree with a lot of 460. I mean, historically, the jury started off as essentially a prosecutorial agency in the Azzize of Clarendon, and then transformed into a fact-finding entity after the trial by ordeal was abolished in 1215 (which meant that you needed something other than the ordeal to tell you what is true and what is false).

With that said, in our system as it has evolved, nullification isn't really equivalent to an exercise of police or prosecutorial discretion. The one is basically civil disobedience outside of the system, the other an ordinary workaday part of the system.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:34 PM
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To Parsimon in 430: thanks, that's really nice to hear. Sigh.

To R Halford et al.:

I'd love to engage in this more, but I honestly don't have the energy tonight. I'll just gesture in the direction where an argument would be: When evaluating proper moral stance of differently situated individuals within large and differentiated institutions, there's no particular reason to privilege that institution's self-understanding. This goes double when it's an institution that develops, not out of largely consensual interaction among more-or-less equals, but through the authoritative declarations by the powerful.

"Equal protection under the law" is a particularly ugly American legalism for a very complicated concept. Yes, having laws be enforced impartially is valuable. But the idea that this is compatible with police, prosecutorial, & sentencing discretion, but not with jury nullification, doesn't strike me as persuasive at all. Yes, it's been the party line for awhile now, and it's obviously congenial to the state actors who operate the legal system, but ... no.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:35 PM
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Executive bodies are at least theoretically accountable for abuses of their discretion. Judges can be appealed and reversed. Or removed, if their conduct is too egregious. There's no accountability for jurors who usurp to themselves a role that is not allotted to them in our system.

Civil war in the face of a majority vote for Beck/Palin or whatever is a pipe dream. A pipe full of really good stuff. There is no chance that the Air Force, for example, would do a damn thing. No chance that any military officers would do anything. No chance that any state -- even one that went 60-40 for Obama -- is going to support any such thing. Why do I bother responding to escapist fantasies like this, or emigration? Because Parsi is right, and people should get off their asses and do something that might actually work. Before the election.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 8:57 PM
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Not to engage you while you're both sleepy and on your way out of the academy, but I think 463 is probably at too high a level of abstraction to be of much use in thinking about how juries actually work in the system that we have. (Maybe it's just at too high a level of abstraction for me to understand clearly). If you're empaneled on a jury, your job is to make a factual determination based on the limited evidence presented to you. You don't have the overall information (about resources, extra-record facts, cases not before you, real world consequences) to make a determination about whether the case should have been brought in the first place; nor are you supposed to be acting like a one-person legislature declaring a law improper.

I mean, as I've said above, I think that the system is designed such that sometimes the jury can be used as a means of civil disobedience. I also think that, sometimes, the jury should be used as a means of civil disobedience. I hope that I wouldn't have voted to convict under the Fugitive Slave Act. But all that really proves is that sometimes (hopefully rarely) there are times when the laws are so unjust that resistance is called for -- just as you can't have civil disobedience all the time, you shouldn't have nullification for laws of which you merely disapprove, and we should all be pretty clear that when jurors are nullifying they're violating their oaths and their legal obligations.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:14 PM
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Because Parsi is right, and people should get off their asses and do something that might actually work. Before the election

Like what?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:19 PM
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Liberate the stink bugs! It's what I'm doing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:20 PM
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466 -- There's a dead-even senate race in your home state. You could kick the right candidate a few bucks, or do some campaigning. Not that I'm some kind of saint on this front -- at all -- but I did send some money Harry Reid's way, and if I can work out the child care I'll try to do a Vegas trip/campaign work trip in early November. All the more important when enthusiasm and money from the base is low.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:27 PM
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Or, not. I'm not trying to paint my lame ass lazy contributions as anything particularly special or admirable, just to say that there's not nothing you can do.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:28 PM
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Silver thinks that IL-14 is a tossup as well, along with IL-10 and 11. Not sure where you live, but you might be able to do something useful in either of those spots, even if it's just bucking up your friends who live in those districts and making sure that they don't get too caught up in fantasies of revolution or emigration to get out and vote.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:45 PM
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Looking at Silver's House chart, it seems that if the leaners go as they are leaning, then Republicans have to win 30 of the 36 tossup districts in order to win a majority. That sounds like a long way from a done deal to me.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:01 PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaHIO-Bdr8E&

Thread merge.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:08 PM
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473

Civil war in the face of a majority vote for Beck/Palin or whatever is a pipe dream. A pipe full of really good stuff. There is no chance that the Air Force, for example, would do a damn thing. No chance that any military officers would do anything. No chance that any state -- even one that went 60-40 for Obama -- is going to support any such thing.

Of course. Agree 100%. I wasn't tying to suggest otherwise. I was just churning through the thought experiment of what I thought the right outcome would be. I.e., whose side would I be on? And, just an election win? I don't know what the right answer is. Very likely, it's let them take power, and take another swing in four years. But I'm surprised by how difficult that question is for me, and how many not-impossible-to-imagine scenarios there are in which the answer comes out the other way. Not that long ago, I'd have thought it was insane. Now, well, I'd want to know more about who was likely to be leading the opposition, and what exactly they were proposing.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:11 PM
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474

Abortions for some! Tiny American flags for others!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:17 PM
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475

I don't see it as any more problematic than exercise of discretion by any other cog in the criminal justice machine.

I think what makes me wary of this is the overlap of roles. The system breaks up responsibilities for a good reason. Somewhere along the way someone has to be the trier of fact and I think that's a role that needs to be separate from the legislative and enforcement aspects of the system.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 10:37 PM
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476

I find myself mostly in comity with Charlie, Halford, gswift, *and* x.trapnel. Let me suggest another way of thinking about jury nullification to explain why.

The objections (all of which I share, to a greater or lesser degree) seem to boil down to (1) it's a judicial usurpation of a legislative function; (2) it violates a bright line rule that juries should be finders of fact only; (3) we only grant discretionary authority to institutions that have democratic accountability, which juries do not; and (4) OK, maybe there are some *really* egregious cases where we might accept it against our better judgment, but let's reserve it for the Fugitive Slave Act and such like.

The instances where I think jury nullification is most easily justified from a theoretical point of view do not full under any of those objections.

Specifically, I'm thinking about cases of abuse of police and prosecutorial discretion. The law in question might be a good and just one, but bad actors who are mostly insulated from political accountability use the coercive power of the state for unjust ends.

(1) In such a case, jury nullification is not a usurpation of legislative authority, but a check on executive authority. (2) In an important sense, the jurors are acting as finders of fact: this prosecution is politically motivated or otherwise abusive. (3) The democratic accountability is being provided by the jurors themselves. Prosecutors and police, as part of the executive, are theoretically democratically accountable, but in practice even the most egregious prosecutorial abuses rarely result in any sanction. (4) Paradoxically, the option of nullification is most important where the injustice isn't on the scale of slavery or segregation; with those causes, it's ultimately better that the remedy come through the judicial appeals or legislative or constitutional change. Jury notification is a narrow remedy for injustices that are too trifling on a social scale to trigger the mechanisms of democratic accountability, but not at all trifling for the individual whose liberty is at stake.

A concrete example where I could see jury nullification being a just outcome: the Don Siegelmann trial. Defense attorneys implicitly invoke a nullification doctrine in the court of public opinion all the time, when they stand up at a press conference and say "these charges are politically motivated". I don't think it would have been necessarily wrong for them to have done so in the trial court. Might the jurors have voted to acquit if the defense had been permitted to introduce evidence that Rove-appointed US attorneys around the country were conspiring to prosecute Democratic officials on the flimsiest pretexts? Even if the jurors reached the conclusion that Siegelmann was guilty as a matter of law ("Give me six sentences written in the hand of the most honest man, and I will find something to hang him"), they might have concluded that a verdict of not guilty was the just outcome. They'd be nullifying the prosecution, not an unjust law.

Again, as a practical matter, I don't place too much faith in jury nullification as a remedy for prosecutorial abuse, not least because I think we would likely see more cases of "That Emmett Till / Matthew Sheppard had it coming" than we would acquitals of Natilo's anarchist pals. But as a philosophical matter, I think it's sometimes entirely defensible and even consistent with the principles that Halford et al expound.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 5:32 AM
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Not only the legislative function of making the law, and the judicial function of saying what the law is, but also the executive function of granting clemency when the law has led to an unjust result. And not just lack of accountability, but also lack of knowledge. Both of facts not in evidence (for a number of reasons) and also of public issues like death panels and the like.

Not that I would want to replace the jury system, and, except for the cases where I've had to go get verdicts overturned on appeal, ime juries seem to get it right, in the end, even if their process doesn't stand up to much in the way of scrutiny.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 6:15 AM
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And those reversals are for judicial, not juror, error.

The one thing that, imo, is truly worse than the jury system is corporate America's response to it: arbitration.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 6:18 AM
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479

478.Last: Comity!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 7:54 AM
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478.1: Let the record reflect, though, that reversals for juror error are, in fact, possible -- verdicts contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence, e.g. The only circumstance in which the jury cannot be second-guessed (short of demonstrable fraud, jury-tampering) is a criminal acquittal.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 8:00 AM
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http://www.detnews.com/article/20101001/METRO/10010422/Assistant-AG-takes-leave-amid-gay-bashing-controversy#ixzz117Liuz4B

An assistant attorney general who has attracted national attention for a controversial blog that ridicules and denounces a University of Michigan student leader for his gay advocacy, religious beliefs and character has taken a personal leave following intense public scrutiny, a spokesman for Attorney General Mike Cox said today. Cox spokesman John Sellek said, however, Andrew Shirvell will be the subject of a disciplinary hearing after he returns to work at an undetermined future date.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 10:36 AM
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Cox. You said "Cox."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 10:38 AM
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482: Attorney General My Cocks.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 10:41 AM
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He has, like, thirty goddamn AAGs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 10:41 AM
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My Cocks have a spokesman and there is nothing gay about that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 10:42 AM
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I could never be a journalist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 10:43 AM
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This conversation has probably bored everyone else and is dying, but I think the right response to 476 is the knowledge problem. A jury is not going to be well informed about the circumstances leading up to a prosecution or the exercise of prosecutorial discretion -- those things won't come up in the presentation of the evidence, and it's unlikely that the jurors will have any real knowledge outside of the purest innuendo. For example, defendants being prosecuted on apparently minor charges or technicalities are often being brought up on those charges because there is substantial (though perhaps inadmissible) evidence that they are up to much worse things. Just as the jury shouldn't punish them for things that aren't in the evidence before the jury, they shouldn't acquit them based on those things, either.

And amen to 478 and 479.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10- 1-10 2:17 PM
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487: don't have the energy to argue this, but: no, acquittal and conviction are not symmetric, period. No. No, no. 476 is completely right, except insofar as it doesn't go as far as to agreeing with me in everything. =P

Going to bed now, 4:33am for the bachelor party. Fucking christ, I hate the weather--how dare you rain out the Sox-Yankees game?

Bed.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 10- 2-10 2:16 AM
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for the bachelor party. Fucking christ,

Now *that's* a bachelor party.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10- 2-10 7:00 AM
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488: FWIW, *I* agree with you in everything. (At least in this thread.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 2-10 4:48 PM
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Attorney General My Cocks

... meet Sheriff Mike Hunt.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10- 2-10 4:58 PM
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Er... 490 was me.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 2-10 5:09 PM
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My Cocks have a spokesman

Mike Cox has a posse.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 2-10 5:13 PM
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I got one joke. Just one. Keep off my territory.


Posted by: Opinionated Lone Ranger | Link to this comment | 10- 2-10 5:47 PM
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