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» Entries tagged with "black"

More Than Race

I’m hesitant to write a post making a similar point to my last one, but as one article after another comes out discussing racism in this country in the wake of another white cop avoiding indictment after murdering an unarmed black man, this time with clear video, I worry we’re only having part of the conversation. Race is part of problem. It may even be most of the problem right now. It’s also the reason why most people are even thinking about the issue of police violence. Unfortunately, I worry that it’s not the part of the problem we can fix. Although I’m not as optimistic or congratulatory about our progress, Chris Rock makes some amusing and likely accurate observations about race relations in this country: “When we … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

A Nice Thought, At Least

When a judge begins a dissent by calling something agents did “a profoundly disturbing use of government power that directly imperils some of our most fundamental constitutional values,” I expect it is going to be a good read. I also assume the case probably arose in Arizona, where most people seem to think fundamental constitutional values should be limited to an appreciation of the sacred right to have law enforcement make sure nobody but them breaks any laws. With the recent Ninth Circuit case of United States v. Black, I was right on both counts. The description of what happened from the dissent in Black is pretty much as spot-on as the analysis. As it explains, the government went to a “bad” part of town to find “bad” people to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Drugs

Victimless Non-Violent Federal Drug Crimes

I enjoy reading Richard Kopf‘s blog, Hercules and the Umpire. He’s a federal trial judge in Nebraska who mixes self-effacing honesty with humor and the sort of intellect and consistency that tend to be present in the best judges I’ve encountered. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a man with a lot of power, but it’s also at times a disturbing glimpse into the world of someone who can make the things he believes have real impacts on the real people who appear in front of him no matter how wrong he might be. A post of his from last month asked, “Are drug crimes ‘victimless’?” He previously wrote more about his views in another post entitled “No more bullshit: In the federal courts, there is … Read entire article »

Filed under: Drugs, Judges

In Other News, the Sky Is Blue and Marijuana Prohibition Is Bullshit

FourthAmendment.com put up a link yesterday to this New York Times story. Its title, “Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Data Suggests,” is news to exactly no one. Any perceptive human being who has set foot inside a criminal courthouse could also tell you the racial bias doesn’t end with the arrest. There are some other awful trends that quickly became apparent to me practicing criminal law in Arizona. I saw white defendants caught with marijuana for the first time get misdemeanor citations to appear in city or justice courts. Black defendants in the same position got felony charges in superior court. After charges, white defendants went through diversion, avoiding a conviction. Black defendants ended up pleading to misdemeanors. The second time around, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Getting in Their Heads

Eric Turkewitz at the New York Personal Injury Law Blog published a guest post about whether jurors should be allowed to ask questions at trial. Apparently that doesn’t happen in New York. It sure does here in Arizona, as we’ve heard about ad nauseam because of the Jodi Arias trial. The guest-poster, Peter DeFilippis, concluded that increased juror participation would aid their judicial system in achieving the goal of providing justice for all. I can’t say that I disagree. I am a pretty big fan of jury questions because they’re wonderful little spoilers that help you know where to focus. I can also see how they help to connect jurors to what’s happening. The insight into the jurors’ thoughts that a system like ours … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Juries, Trial

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