Re: Legal Hell

1

You could start by getting rid of prosecutorial immunity, for one thing. There's a lot more you could do, but it would be expensive and cumbersome, and people don't care enough.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 7:08 AM
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Getting rid of election of prosecutors seems like a solid option.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 7:15 AM
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Federal prosecutors aren't elected and we still had one with nothing better to do than send Tommy Chong up the river.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 7:16 AM
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I still vote for a separate prosecutor whose sole job is going after cops and prosecutors. Probably wouldn't do much in deep red jurisdictions, but I'd imagine that, among blue electorates, you'd see enough grass roots support for the role that you'd get decent candidates and a legit independent power base.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 7:24 AM
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4: Later today, I think, a Cincinnati grand jury is almost certain to indict a (campus) police officer who shot an unarmed black man. That seems like progress, though not shooting people is the progress I'd prefer.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 7:25 AM
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I don't understand the "it's an adversarial system" response. I mean, yes, it is. But that doesn't mean that you can't put significant restrictions on what moves are available and what duties people have in that system that aren't "beat the other guy" - and obviously so because there are already a lot of them. I mean, court shows would be even more fun to watch if it was totally allowed for lawyers to duel in the courtroom, drug judges before sentencing, and stuff. But they can't because that would lead to insane incentives and horrible results, just like... oh hey this kind of thing.

Strong penalties, and losing legal immunity, for prosecutors who have significant/overwhelming/substantial-preponderance-of-the/whatever evidence of the innocence of the defendant but ignore it completely, or at least ones who engage in obvious misconduct seems like a pretty obvious start on the problem.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 7:54 AM
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I mean, court shows would be even more fun to watch if it was totally allowed for lawyers to duel in the courtroom, drug judges before sentencing, and stuff. But they can't because that would lead to insane incentives and horrible results, just like... oh hey this kind of thing.

I know, but why can't the shows do it?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 7:59 AM
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I agree with ogged. Accountability for prosecutors. There is rarely any accountability with their law license or criminally or civilly. Depriving someone of their freedom is a huge deal. Or at least it should be.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 8:02 AM
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7: getting in here with the Gowachin Bar reference before LB does.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 8:09 AM
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3: The problem of prosecutors going after stupid crimes is different from the problem of prosecutors digging in their heels in the face of mounting evidence that the defendant didn't commit a crime. The latter involves admitting a mistake, and potentially appearing soft on crime (because hey the guy got charged so he must be guilty of something, right?), which seems like it might be a bigger issue for someone running for election. No real idea if it's true, but anecdotally it does seem like these kinds of cases overwhelmingly involve local rather than federal prosecutions (of course, criminal prosecutions in general are overwhelmingly local so that might be enough to explain that).


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 8:24 AM
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|| Note from legal hell. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:07 AM
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the lawyers' response was "Well, look. It's an adversarial system. You have any better ideas?"

Wait a minute... we're not a monolith, and I'm fairly certain that wasn't my response.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:08 AM
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Don't forget the police. I strongly suspect that a police officer had a corrupt motive here, too.

The 'victim' was known to the police at the time. Lithwick says that 'victim's' then-husband was incarcerated at the time of the claimed attack. But when the initial police investigation turns up only evidence that either contradicts or fails to support the complaint, the police make the arrest anyway.

Police have a motive to invent major crimes which they can quickly solve. It makes the crime reports scarier (we need moar police!) and it makes their statistics look better (100% of crime reports result in arrest!)

Prosecutors have a motive to keep the police happy. Where elected, prosecutors want to be endorsed by the police. Where appointed, prosecutors want happy cooperative police giving them good evidence and testimony.

It's turtles all the way down in our system. It's all perverse incentives, from the police to the appellate courts.


Posted by: Anonymous Troll | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:13 AM
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#notalllawyers

I'm thinking a strong IG might be better than lifting immunity.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:13 AM
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Weiner sure sure loves him some street whores.

At 2:30 a.m. April 7, 2005, a woman called 911 and told authorities in Culpeper that a man in a van followed her as she walked along the road and stopped alongside her. Police saw the van at a motel and questioned Weiner, who said the woman had waved to him and he stopped to see if she wanted to talk.
• On Dec. 9, 2009, a woman got off a bus in Charlotesville around 10:30 p.m. and a man in a white van followed her to her home. After the same thing happened on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 she called police. On April 21, 2010, she reported to police that the van had returned, and the license plate came back as Weiner's.
• At 1:30 a.m. on June 23, 2010, Charlottesville police saw a woman believed to have been arrested previously for prostitution get into a van. An officer approached the van and discovered Weiner with his clothes in disarray. Weiner said there had been some heavy petting but no money exchanged hands. He said he was giving her a ride home.

So a guy with a minimum decade long habit of picking up street girls picks up a crazy one with a husband in prison and a boyfriend in a halfway house. She gets pissed at boyfriend and makes up a crazy assault story, which isn't exactly uncommon in that group. Maybe he didn't do this specific thing but since his kick is to lowball the most desperate girls imaginable for sexual favors maybe the balance of the universe wasn't too upset here.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:17 AM
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Wait a minute... we're not a monolith, and I'm fairly certain that wasn't my response.

IIRC, it was one of those weird simultaneous posts where every lawyer here posted the exact comment at the exact moment, no exceptions BUB.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:23 AM
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Yeah, what's the big deal if a guy who looks like he's probably a scumbag does a few years for a crime he didn't commit?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:23 AM
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The link if 15 is kind of bizarre. First, it has an ad for KY. Second, I can't see the sex offender hearing as anything but vindictiveness. The prosecutor withheld evidence from the jury that would have pretty obviously made it impossible to get a conviction. That's actually evil. Weiner has never actually been convicted of anything else.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:36 AM
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17 I saw Justice Scalia offer (deniably in jest) this exact rationale for someone wrongly convicted and executed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:41 AM
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5. The extent to which the prosecutor/police chief/etc. all seem to be reacting to the video with "Oh that's fucked up" rather than trying to defend anything that happened is kind of heartening, though I suppose we'll only know how heartening when the video itself comes out.

One thing that the news reports on this one made me think is that replacing dashboard cameras as the primary video record with body cameras is likely to make the videos of killings a lot more graphic and a lot less "noise-and-falls-over", which is probably a good thing. At least it's harder for people looking to minimize what happened if you're seeing it from (roughly) the perspective of one of the people, up close, rather than grainy footage from a distance.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 9:51 AM
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I can't see the sex offender hearing as anything but vindictiveness.

The prosecutor needs to go but if anyone is looking to avoid sex offender evaluations then maybe a hobby of following and attempting to pick up women in your van isn't doing you any favors.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:23 AM
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There are many, many reasons to not own a van and that is one of them. But I wasn't aware that you could be evaluated as a sex offender when you have no convictions.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:26 AM
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20: The stream I was watching panned away and isn't showing the video of the actual murder until the press conference is over, but the audio was clear. And the prosecutor here is typically kind of a jerk IMO, but it is heartening to hear things like "This guy didn't deserve to be tased and he certainly didn't deserve to be shot in the head."


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:35 AM
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22: To be on the safe side, we should probably just go ahead and put everyone who owns a white van on the sex offenders registry.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:47 AM
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At least one without windows.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:49 AM
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22.last: that looks like it was part of a pre-sentence report--judges will typically get a report with all kinds of stuff about the defendant, putatively to help guide the judge's sentencing discretion. Don't know about "sex offender evaluation" specifically, but in the context of a system where the judge gets to take all kinds of things into account in deciding on a sentence (which of course is its own set of problems) that in and of itself doesn't seem weird or necessarily vindictive.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:50 AM
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When God closes the door on you in a registry, find one with windows.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:50 AM
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28

It's a problem because he's still in jail, if I understand correctly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:51 AM
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29

28: No, he's out. I could totally be wrong but I would be surprised if the evaluation ordered in 15 could have had any direct consequences beyond potentially affecting his sentence; i.e., if the evaluator said he was a sex offender, that wouldn't have automatically triggered putting him on a registry, much less getting him time for some other sex offense. (If I am wrong about that, then yes, totally outrageous.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:56 AM
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I thought the link in 15 said he was still locked up, but I can't open it again because I'm afraid it will be autoplay sound and I'm on a call.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 10:59 AM
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15:

It definitely didnt help that this looked like the type of thing Weiner would do. It is a safe assumption that he acted fairly creepy with her so she saw an opportunity.

Prosecutors don't get reelected by refusing to prosecute close cases. They get opponents running ads about how the pled out close case or "let a criminal off easy."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:01 AM
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Those sex offender evaluations are often full of crap.

I read one once where the evaluator was arguing that the 49 year old man was clearly a sexual deviant bc he had had sex with approximately 100 women total in his life.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:03 AM
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30: The link in 15 did say he was still locked up, but it was from June of last year.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:05 AM
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June s/b July


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:06 AM
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35

It's the guy who had sex with 100 partial women you want to watch for.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:06 AM
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The Dubose video is flabbergasting. The whole interaction is low-key, and then it seems Tensing wants to take Dubose out of the car, and Dubose puts his hand on the car door lock to keep Tensing from opening it, and Tensing yells "Stop!" while simultaneously pulling his gun and shooting Dubose in the head.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:10 AM
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When God closes the door on you in a registry, find one with windows.

This is why many people prefer Unix-style config files.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:12 AM
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38

Holy shit, that Tensing Dubose video is horrific.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:45 AM
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39

38 is right, hadn't realized they'd released it. Fucking insane and revolting.

And as recently as this morning the officer's lawyer is going on about how Tensing thought he was going to get run over and die. Even though the video clearly shows that the car didn't move until after he shot Dubose. (And what could Dubose possibly do to hit a guy standing next to the drivers' side door anyway, beyond maybe run over his foot if he was really lucky?) What the fuck? Couldn't he at least claim he thought he saw a furtive movement or something?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 11:52 AM
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The Dubose video is really hard to comprehend. Absolutely no reason to shoot.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 12:55 PM
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Couldn't he at least claim he thought he saw a furtive movement or something?

The video kind of makes that hard. Left hand is outside the vehicle and the right hand is clearly being used to start the car.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 1:45 PM
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Some people are quite dextrous with their feet. Oh wait, manual transmission, that doesn't work either.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 1:53 PM
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41: Well sure but (a) I wasn't actually serious and (b) the video makes it kind of hard to claim he was about to be run over, but Tensing took a flyer on it anyway. And "I thought he was going for a weapon" seems marginally less ridiculous in light of the video (though of course still completely ridiculous) than "I thought he was about to kill me with his car."


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 1:55 PM
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44

Maybe everybody in Ohio has one of these.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 1:57 PM
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45

44: No. I don't.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 2:23 PM
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46

Everybody who is anybody.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-15 2:32 PM
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46: Good point.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-30-15 6:22 AM
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