Category Archives: Law

Let’s Go To Town!.

Tired of calling your senators and congressman/woman?  Maybe what you need to do instead is go to town.  Town Halls, that is.

Yup.  Here’s another way to raise some hell.

The Town Hall Project 2018 is a website that posts public forums for senators and members of congress.  Meetings where you can go and listen to and talk with the people who claim to represent you.

If you have questions, problems concerns with what is happening in our government, in our world, go to town.

If you think that keeping Obamacare is important to you, go to town.

If you think that maintaining Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as you’ve expected them to be when it was time for you to collect on what you’ve paid out for decades, go to town.

If you think that protecting the environment is important to you, go to town.

If you think that Trump’s Executive Order banning Muslims should be revoked, go to town.

If you have other opinions that I haven’t listed and that you feel your representatives in Congress need to hear about, go to town.  And bring friends.  Bring lots and lots of friends.

The Town Hall Project 2018 has promised to update its website regularly.  So bookmark it, and show up.

American Democracy is no longer a spectator sport.  Get it in gear.

 

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Hallelujah(?)

Like many of you, I still wake in the night with a knot in my stomach.  It’s Donald Trump, of course.  He’s making me sick.  He’s making me anxious.  He’s making me unusually serious.

But of course, we are all here in this country — although I think all of us want to pack our bags and leave a country that just elected such a seriously flawed man.  A man who cheats, and lies and treats all non-white men as if they are less than human.

This video has helped me.  It reminded me that I’m part of the loyal opposition — loyal to the system of government as it should act under the Constitution.  That I’m an American and I value my institutions and I will fight against tyranny. That I am descended from immigrants who helped build our country.

That I have to be part of the solution.  Whatever that may be.

Oh and that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million votes, at last count.

Hallelujah.

 

 

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Serious and Silly

cusedToday’s post is stolen.  Copied.  Plagarized (with attribution, but hey, it doesn’t make me any less lazy, just less liable for prosecution.  But I’m good with that).  Sometimes other people just hit the nail on the head and, well, it should be shared/stolen and disseminated all over the sphere.

Serious

One clear lesson I learned in grammar school is that everyone in America deserves a fair trial by a competent lawyer.  It serves to promote confidence in our government, avoid mob actions against accused people, and prevents unjust imprisonment.  In short, it demonstrates that we are a nation of laws.  In fact, it long predates our independence.

My first exposure to it was in 5th grade, when Mrs. Ganley (a wonderful soul, RIP) taught us about the Boston Massacre and how John Adams, later one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the 2nd U.S. President, defended the British soldiers accused of killing colonists in December 1770 Boston.

The story of the Boston Massacre and John Adams’ able defense of the soldiers is a noble story.  And it helped establish in the new Republic, formed not too long thereafter, the tradition of capable representation for the accused.

Hillary did just that when she was assigned to defend a man accused of raping a 12 year old girl.

My friend Karen in her blog Why I’m Voting For Hillary and Not Against Trump reposted a lawyer’s excellent Facebook explanation of the duty of lawyers to represent those accused of crimes.  Hillary Clinton’s representation in that long ago case demonstrates that she did what lawyers, including John Adams, have done for centuries.  Ensure justice is delivered.

Gail Webb West
(earlier this week on Facebook)·

[…] Before you run that misleading, disgusting video about Hillary Clinton representing the piece of scum who violated Kathy Shelton or repeat the blatant lies about Hillary Clinton laughing about “getting him off” you might want to think about who, and more importantly what, your mud slinging is hitting. It’s hitting me, my husband, and every other attorney who has ever been appointed to represent an indigent criminal defendant. It’s hitting the United States Constitution and the constitutions of every state, including the Tennessee State Constitution.

I woke up to that b***s*** this morning and that’s when the whole thing got way too personal and, just to be frank, way too ignorant, for me. Until you’ve been in the position of being REQUIRED by your professional oath and license to represent to the best of your capabilities the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS of an individual charged with a crime, you don’t have a clue. I’ve been there. In a big way. Step into my shoes. Walk with me . . .

Just a small town lawyer, growing a general practice of law, trying to make a living to support your family, and doing the best you can for your clients, you get a call (while on vacation no less) from the local court clerk saying that your name (or my husband’s name) has come up next on the list to represent a defendant who can’t afford an attorney. Then the “other shoe falls”, the defendant is charged in one of the most heinous crimes that your little county has ever known. There’s no choice. There’s no question being asked. You accept the appointment unless you have a valid and real conflict of interest that would be a detriment to the CLIENT . . . the detriment to you and your livelihood and your family can’t even be a consideration.

You represent that client aggressively to the full extent the law will allow. You do it because you took an oath to do that for EVERY client. How they became your client is irrelevant. But you also do that because the Constitution REQUIRES that every person charged with a crime be given DUE PROCESS and EQUAL PROTECTION under the law and it’s your job, defense attorney, to be sure that burden is met BY THE STATE. You also do the very best job you can because 1.) If this defendant is denied due process and equal protection, the precedent is set for any person, even those who may be falsely accused, to be denied those fundamental rights; 2.) If you don’t do this job you’ve been appointed to right, everyone may have to go through this process again based on the appeal process. Everyone means the victim, the victim’s family, the defendant’s family, law enforcement who investigated the crime, the community and the defendant; and 3.) If you don’t do this job, NO INDIGENT DEFENDANT COULD EVER BE CONVICTED OF A CRIME because an indigent defendant is ENTITLED by law to a court-appointed attorney.

Another perhaps less noble, but very real, reason you do this job is that failure to do it and do it right could result in being sued for malpractice and loss of your law license = your ability to provide for your family.

Which brings us to the realities for the defense attorney in an appointed case:

1.) You’re going to be paid approximately 1/5 of what your normal hourly rate is. But your overhead is going to stay the same. And the time required for that appointed case is going to mean there are cases (that would pay your normal rate) that you won’t be able to take while the appointed case is ongoing. Bottom line is you’re going to lose money. The reality is that you may come to the brink of financial ruin because of this one case and what it does to your cash flow situation and your client base in the community.

2.) People in the community who either don’t understand all this or who don’t give a flip or are just ignorant or mean are going to treat you and your family like crap. In the grocery line behind you and your two small children, they’re going to say that the defendant deserves public hanging and any attorney who represents that defendant deserves to be hung, too. They’re going to tell your five year old (at school, no less) that her daddy works for the Devil. Under the cover of night, they’re going to hang a gutted, black cat from your office door to “greet” your office staff the next morning.
3.) And when it’s over for the community, it’s not over for you. You get to go through the appeal process and even post-conviction relief. Post-conviction relief is where the defendant you represented gets another lawyer appointed whose job requires him/her to go through everything you did in representing that defendant with a fine tooth comb to try to find anything you did wrong or not well enough to use to say the defendant should get another trial because you didn’t do your job. So, in a sense, you go on trial.

But enough about the appointed defense attorney, what about the prosecution? The Constitution requires the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in every criminal case. The prosecution carries that burden. The defense does not have to prove anything except that the prosecution did not meet it’s burden of proof for the result (theoretically) to be a not guilty verdict. And long before a trial, that burden of proof is being weighed in the minds of the prosecution. If the prosecution believes that the evidence is not strong enough, or the witnesses are not credible enough, or that the process of testifying or going through the trial is too much to ask of the victim and would victimize the victim all over again, or that there were problems/mistakes made in the investigation or in handling the physical evidence that would make that evidence less convincing to a jury, or that there are any other number of reasons that a guilty plea to a plea agreement would better serve the community they represent or justice as a principle, then they negotiate and extend a plea offer to the defendant. None of that is an easy process for the prosecution. There are factors the prosecutor and law enforcement officers involved know that the general community does not know. So when you hear about a “plea deal”, don’t be so quick to judge the prosecution for making the offer. You don’t know what he/she knows.

Now about the tape. Have you seen the whole thing? I have. I’m not talking about the put together commercial video that’s going around. I’m talking about the full footage of the actual interview. It is an interview in which Hillary Clinton goes through a discussion of the role of the appointed defense attorney. Taken in context, her “laughter” (which is really just what I, myself, use as a “shaking my head, you can’t make this shit up” sarcastic chuckle) is in terms of what her client claimed had happened and the role in it all that she was forced to play as the appointed attorney required to do her job. There is no way anyone with sound mind and reasonable judgment could view that tape in its entirety and say she was laughing about what happened to that victim or about “getting off” the defendant.

In fact, Hillary Clinton didn’t get the defendant “off”. Her client accepted a plea offer made to him by the Prosecutor on the case. A prosecutor employed by the State of Arkansas hired by someone that the voters of Arkansas elected. Have you seen the recent interview with that prosecutor? I have. He says that Hillary Clinton did her job and did it well. He says there were problems with the investigative part of the case concerning mistakes made and mishandling of physical evidence. Those issues rest with law enforcement employed by the State of Arkansas hired by someone that the voters of Arkansas elected. So if you have a problem with the result on the case, you need to look to the voters of Arkansas.

You STILL don’t like the part Hillary Clinton had in this case? That’s understandable, you may have no frame of reference. But if ever, you (or someone you care about) stand accused of any crime, whether you’re guilty or innocent, you’ll get frame of reference real quick. And you’ll want someone who’ll do just what Hillary Clinton did in that case standing on that wall defending you and your constitutional rights.  [Emphasis added.]

Silly

From today’s  Abbreviated Pundit Round-up at Daily Kos (which I highly recommend)

What more can anyone say about the GOP nominee than this:

… perhaps the most eloquent condemnation of Trump came from one of the houses of state parliament in New South Wales, which, according to BuzzFeed Australia, just passed a unanimous motion to declare Donald Trump a “revolting slug.” The motion—a symbolic declaration of sorts with no real legislative heft—was tendered by a member of the Greens Party:

“I move that this house condemns the misogynistic, hateful comments made by…Mr Donald Trump, about women and minorities, including the remarks revealed over the weekend that clearly describe sexual assault…and agrees with those who have described Mr Trump as ‘a revolting slug’ unfit for public office,” the motion read.

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(Un?)Intended Consequences

In January 1998 John, Jacob and I visited the town of Canterbury, home to Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral

Image from Wikipedia because it was a damn good picture.

It is a a beautiful cathedral.  But part of the fascination with it is it’s history — the fact that it was the site of the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Beckett at the behest of King Henry II.  Sort of.

Reportedly, the King was famously infuriated with his former friend, the Archbishop for a number of transgressions, including excommunicating a bunch of English nobles.  He famously uttered:

“Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”

Being the King, folks took it as a command.  Wikipedia names the four knights, Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton, either carried out the king’s command, or misinterpreted the king’s intention.  Either way, they assassinated Archbishop Thomas Beckett on the altar of Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral Altar

Google Image

In case you are hiding under your bed trying to get away from news about the election, Trump opened his trap again today, and once again said something that should disqualify him for the presidency.

Today’s vomit from Trump can be heard here:

Yeah, I know you didn’t click on the link.

He said:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Now let’s see.  Did Donald Trump just call for the assassination of Hillary Clinton?  Or will one of his followers, you know, one of the disgruntled, racist, misogynistic white guys get out his gun(s) and do Donald’s bidding.

“Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”/

“Who will rid me of this troublesome girl?”

Especially since, in spite of the fact that Trump’s campaign is tanking and he is hemorrhaging in the polls, and he’s claiming that the election, if he loses, will be rigged.

What could possibly go wrong.

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Vote Out These Cowards

You’ve no doubt heard the news from last night.

The GOP voted down four different measures designed to protect you and me.  Designed to keep folks on the terror watch list from getting assault weapons.  They did this in spite of the fact that:

A new poll from CNN shows 92 percent of Americans support expanded background checks and 85 percent support preventing those on terror watch lists from buying guns. As we’ll explain in the post below, though, none of the below proposals aimed at these things are likely to pass. (Washington Post — https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/20/the-senate-will-vote-on-4-gun-control-proposals-monday-heres-everything-you-need-to-know/Emphasis added.

Senator Chris Murphy, who I am proud to say represents my home state of Connecticut in the Senate said the following:

“We’ve got to make this clear, constant case that Republicans have decided to sell weapons to ISIS,” [Senator Chris] Murphy said, using an alternative term for the Islamic State militant group. “That’s what they’ve decided to do. ISIS has decided that the assault weapon is the new airplane, and Republicans, in refusing to close the terror gap, refusing to pass bans on assault weapons, are allowing these weapons to get in the hands of potential lone-wolf attackers. We’ve got to make this connection and make it in very stark terms.” (Daily Kos — http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/6/21/1540914/–ISIS-has-decided-that-the-assault-weapon-is-the-new-airplane).

Senator Murphy made clear that he will look to November, to make sure that those opposed to gun sanity don’t return to the Senate.  That’s just what I’m going to do.  So here’s where to start:

All Democrats favored the Democratic version of a bill to restrict assault weapons from folks on the no fly list except the following:  Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.  ALL Republicans voted against sensible gun laws except Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)  who backed it; he voted with Democrats on all four measures.

Elections matter.

Vote the bastards who refuse to protect us

OUT OF THE U.S. SENATE

Photo from NBC News

Senator Murphy, talking about Dylan, one of the 20 6 year olds who died in Sandy Hook, CT.  Photo from NBC News

 

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Yup. Let’s Fear 3-year Old Syrian Refugees. 

Yes, it is much better to give in to manufactured terror from folks we don’t know, than terror from the very same folks — the ones with guns and ‘God on their side’ who keep killing people.   To donate to Planned Parenthood:  https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Donation2?df_id=12913&12913.donation=form1

 

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This Sums it Up Nicely — NSFW

As I often do, I’m snagging something else from my bloggin’ buddy, Father Kane over at The Last of the Millenniums.  Because, really, I haven’t seen such a good summary of why folks have guns in a while (Not Safe For Work).

I give you Australian comedian Jim Jefferies:

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