Saturday, August 24, 2013

“This is getting more and more out of control the more we find out about it.”

The title of this post is a quote from Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, who was weighing in on the NSA and its spying on American citizens. We now know that the NSA’s spy programs covered 75 percent of all domestic internet traffic, and included a special program that targeted love interests—a program the NSA cutely dubbed LOVEINT, for “love intelligence.”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The non-recommendation recommendation (and other government bullshit)

When some prosecutors argue in court, the things they sometimes say are so absurd (and often factually wrong) that I wish the trial judges had some inner Professor Kingsfield and could muster the courage to call bullshit, i.e., tell the prosecutors that they’re offending the concepts of logic, reason, and truth.  The recent case of State v. Locke perfectly illustrates this all too common problem.  In Locke, the prosecutor induced the defendant to plead guilty to some serious felonies, thus saving the prosecutor and the court several days in trial, and taking away all risk that a jury could find the defendant not guilty.  In exchange for the pleas, the prosecutor agreed not to make a specific sentence recommendation.  That is, the prosecutor retained the right to talk about the offenses and say negative things about the defendant, but he promised to leave the specific sentence up to the judge.  So what happened at the sentencing hearing?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why judges should read The Legal Watchdog

Back in 2011 I wrote a post titled Hearsay 101, and begged trial judges to take the time to learn the rules on hearsay.  I reasoned that trial judges wouldn’t want to have surgery at the hand of a surgeon who doesn’t know basic human anatomy, and defendants don’t want to have their freedom ripped from them because a trial judge doesn’t understand basic rules of evidence.  Unfortunately, after reading the recent decision of United States v. Stern, it is painfully obvious that at least one federal trial judge missed my earlier post.     

Back to the 80s?

I would love to go back to the 80s.  We had Al Bundy and Married with Children, style like LA Gear, movies like Back to School, and actual music videos like Rio on MTV.  Oh, yeah, and most importantly, our government used to spy on the Soviets, instead of spying on its own citizens. Of course we can't really go back to the 80s, but maybe the 80s will be coming back to us. Now that Russia ironically gave shelter to NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, I hear that even the Cold War is coming back into fashion.