Morning Links

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

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90 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Section 643:1 Official Oppression

    A public servant… is guilty of a misdemeanor if, with a purpose to … harm another, he knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office;….

    “knowingly”. Soooooo…that’s another worthless law that is completely unenforceable against a state agent.

    Respect the insipid authority or the police bring da pain.

    I’ll take a million people not taking their hats off instead of a million that do.

  2. #2 |  Radley Balko | 

    Radley, violation of courtroom decorum does make you subject to arrest.

    And of course, it would have been impossible for the government employee to have concluded to himself that a guy wearing a non-obtrusive hat in a courtroom isn’t something worth hauling a guy off in handcuffs over. Perhaps, just perhaps, he could have shown some judgment, could have deviated from the “all rules must be enforced at all times, and with full consequences” playbook long enough to conclude that Pete’s hat wasn’t exactly going to bring the proceedings to a halt.

    Your reaction reminds me of the reaction on the left to Brooke Oberwetter’s arrest at the Jefferson Memorial a few years ago. Ah, it’s just some spoiled, smarmy libertarian smartass. So who cares if her rights were violated. Funny thing is, swap out Pete or Brooke with a poor black kid, and you get a very similar reaction from the right. Punk ghetto kid should have done what he was told. Got what was coming to him.

  3. #3 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Is it legal to resist an unlawful order?

    Yes, I use Shady URL to shorten addresses. Google search confirms what you already knew. It is legal to resist an unlawful order in most states…and you’ll get the crap beaten out of you and you’ll be unable to prove it was an unlawful order while going broke paying court costs…if you aren’t killed.

  4. #4 |  SJE | 

    Radley: The situation, and the behavior of the arrestees, is completely different.

    Brooke Oberwetter was in a public space, where she had a right to dance, and was arrested for asking why she couldn’t dance.

    Pete was in a court room, where he has no right to wear a hat, however unobtrusive. He was asked to take off his hat or leave, refused either, and went limp, so they arrested him.

  5. #5 |  Old Fart | 

    @ SJE and Curt
    No one here is saying he should be allowed to bring in a gun just because the cops have them. Nice strawman though.

    But, if it is court policy (or some stupid rule of decorum) that hats be removed inside the court room, then that should be enforced… whether it’s a cop or a citizen who is paying the salaries and for the upkeep of the building.

    And since we are going on about courtroom decorum… I want powdered wigs brought back! Oh wait, that’s kind of like a hat.

  6. #6 |  SJE | 

    I suppose my point is the distinction between libertarianism and anarchism. A belief in smaller government of limited powers does not mean that a court, which is supposed to be the most independant of all branches of government, cannot make its own rules of behavior when you are in the court. Even the rules of evidence and procedure in Federal courts are driven by the Supreme Court, not Congress or the agencies.

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    Old Fart: its not a strawman. If the judge allows cops to wear hats and guns, its his choice. If he tells the cops to take off their hats and stop wearing guns, they should do it. If you come into my house, and I am wearing a hat, I can still ask you to take off your hat, coz its my house.

  8. #8 |  ALowe | 


    You still haven’t told me whether, in your opinion, there is any article of clothing you cannot be ordered to remove in a courtroom.

  9. #9 |  Chuchundra | 

    Radley, you’ve been in a lot more courtrooms than I have. Have you ever seen that happen? Have you ever seen someone disregard the instructions of the Bailiff and then the Bailiff shrugs his shoulders and lets it go?

    There are plenty of lawyers who read this blog. Have they ever seen such a thing?

    I mean, part of my job involves enforcing rules. If you let people just blow your off when you tell them to do something, even if it’s something minor, it undermines your authority and credibility and makes doing your job much more difficult.

    And I’m not sure where the accusations of bad faith on my part are coming from. I could care less about about Pete’s personal beliefs or his libertarian smartassert. What he did was just plain dumb.

  10. #10 |  ALowe | 

    Show me the law that says you have to do whatever a bailiff tells you to, no matter how ridiculous.

  11. #11 |  PogueMahone | 

    ‎”Sex was a tool to help officers blend in, the officer claimed, and was widely used as a technique to glean intelligence.”

    Yes, to “glean” intelligence. Analysis of said intelligence… that chick is batshit crazy… and clingy.

  12. #12 |  Aresen | 

    ALowe | January 25th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Show me the law that says you have to do whatever a bailiff tells you to, no matter how ridiculous.

    Mr Bailiff says “Pat your tush.”

    “Mr Jones, you didn’t say ‘Mr. Bailiff, can I pat my tush?’ first! Take 3 steps back and pay a $15,000 fine.”

  13. #13 |  Radley Balko | 

    And I’m not sure where the accusations of bad faith on my part are coming from. I could care less about about Pete’s personal beliefs or his libertarian smartassert.

    Comes from here:

    Seriously, is hat wearing in court going to be a new libertarian cause celbre? Are you just begging people to make fun of you eevn more.

  14. #14 |  Six | 

    I love the guys from MHD and FreeKeen – but this is just a waste and makes a mockery of the very worthy cause of expanding liberty. I have even sent them a little bit of money for previous ’causes’. However, this is a distraction that errodes how seriously people take thier message.

    Pete, you will not be taken seriously if this is where you decide to take some sort of principled stand. What’s your goal here? Do you actually believe this will advance your cause? I have a hard time understanding how it does… in fact, this hurts the cause. Use a little common sense.

    There are far better ways to demonstrate civil disobediance than provoking a judge and baliff by refusing to take off a trucker-style hat in a courtroom. Different rules accordingly and appropriately apply to a courtroom. One of those being, that a judge pretty much gets the say over who may be present in his courtroom and how they may be dressed. Despite my inherit suspicion with our criminal justice system, and especially those people who seek out to have the power and authority to be a police officer, judge, etc., I am perfectly okay with a judge or baliff having the discretion to decide who may – or may not – wear a hat or particular article of clothing (i.e. if a judge says, ‘no wife-beater tank-tops in my court’, okay; ‘no baseball caps’, again okay).

    I compare this to my friend who wanted to make a point so he called the cop an asshole to his face that was lecturing us, in an incredibly condescending tone, for speeding (my friend, the driver, was not in fact speeding). The cop was clearly on the path of letting him off with a warning without a ticket, and had indicated as much, despite the major power-trip attidue towards us and clearly the cop wanted to get the last word – so what?!?! It was pretty hard to sympathize with my friend after he got his ticket, which the cop made clear was to prove the point to my friend, who had persisted in arguing with the cop and calling the cop an asshole even after being told he was only going to get a warning. Sure, the cop was being an asshole, but so was my friend – surprise, the guy with the ticket-book got the last word and issued a ticket when a simple, “no problem officer, we will be careful to drive more slowly through here next time” – then shut up, would have obviously yielded no ticket (By the way, he lost when tried to fight the ticket in traffic court). Likewise, it is pretty difficult to be motivated to support Pete’s cause when, quite frankly, he was the one being a bit of a dick in this situation (however right he might have been).

  15. #15 |  Pablo | 

    OK I’m not sure how I feel about the hat issue–the guy really was being a jerk, and taking off your hat inside is just the polite thing to do, like holding the door for someone behind you, or calling a stranger sir or ma’am. OTOH the cop wore a hat so as Radley said it does seem arbitrary.

    I’ve always had a problem with judges calling a courtroom “my court.” It doesnt belong to the judge–it belongs to the people and it is a public place just like the park in front of the courthouse. The judge works there, just like the janitor. He/she has a lot more power, because that is necessary to do the job–but he/she doesn’t own the place.

  16. #16 |  Old Fart | 

    [If you come into my house, and I am wearing a hat, I can still ask you to take off your hat, coz its my house.]

    100 percent agreement.

    The judge does not own the courtroom, it doesn’t belong to him any more than the cubicle I work in belongs to me.

    The person who pays the bills makes the rules.

    At my house, that’s me.
    At your house, that’s you.
    In my cubicle, it’s my employer
    In a courthouse, it’s the taxpayer.

  17. #17 |  qwints | 

    Pablo, a court DOES belong to a judge. It’s a long standing principle of common law jurisprudence. There are constitutional restrictions on how they rule their courtroom, but if they’re not encroaching on people’s constitutional rights (e.g. free exercise of religion or access to the courts), they are pretty free to do as they like in running their courtroom. I’ve never been to a courtroom that didn’t have some form of a dress code, and I’ve seen plenty of draconian warnings about cell phones.

    [Irrelevant personal anecdote]
    As an example, in the criminal court I interned in, we had somewhere between 50 and 100 defendants in the courtroom on any given day. Combine that with defense attorneys negotiating with prosecutors around the jury box and the court running through a long docket making sure everyone who had to make an appearance actually showed up and things can become chaotic quite quickly. The court’s rules were pretty simple – dress nicely and don’t eat, drink or sleep. If you were breaking a rule, the bailiff told you the rule. If it was a matter of dress, defendants were just reminded what attire was unacceptable for the next time they came. For food or drink, you could just finish it outside the courtroom or throw it away – I had this happen to me one of my first days when I brought in some coffee.

  18. #18 |  chris | 

    Dam I need to keep a better eye on my dogs. They have the worst breath ever! They’re luckier than I thought! :]

  19. #19 |  Paul Antosh | 

    Let me start by saying that I have zero law enforcement experience and zero courtroom experience. However; I sometimes write Sci-Fi/Fantasy. As such, I propose that things could’ve gone differently in that courtroom.

    Bailiff: Sir, the judge requests that you please remove your hat or leave the courtroom.

    Pete: I refuse. What law says I have to remove my hat!

    From here we can go two directions:

    1. No Hat Law
    Bailiff: Sir, there is no law saying you must remove your hat but the court would appreciate your compliance.

    Pete: No.

    Bailiff: I understand. Court will continue as this does not meet the definition of a disturbance.

    2. Hat Law
    Bailiff: If you do not remove your hat, I am authorized under (cites law #) to place you under arrest. My extensive training thru my professional union and years of experience have enabled me to cite this law by memory…which is why I know I can arrest you for wearing a hat. Makes sense, eh?

    Pete: So be it.

    Bailiff: You are now being placed under arrest. You have no weapon (metal detector outside courtroom) and you’ve been peaceful, so I have no reason to use aggressive procedures. AH! I see you are passively protesting by going limp. My training has given me skills with which to secure you and transport you safely to be processed. I will ask for assistance from my fellow officer so that you are not injured in any way…as I do not have the right to injure you or cause you pain. I am only acting in my authorized duty to arrest you.

    Officer Marty: Let’s CRACK his skull!

    Bailiff: NO, OFFICER MARTY! This man is under my protection as the arresting officer and he is my responsibility. Officer Marty, you have lost your composure and I will subit a full report of your actions. Now step away!

  20. #20 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Chuchundra wrote:

    I mean, part of my job involves enforcing rules. If you let people just blow your off when you tell them to do something, even if it’s something minor, it undermines your authority and credibility and makes doing your job much more difficult.

    Been around kids much?


    “no problem officer, we will be careful to drive more slowly through here next time”

    Your friend probably thinks your mindset is part of the reason we have the current state of affairs. Rolling over is habit forming.

  21. #21 |  PW | 

    Here comes the Thin Blue Whine of “officer safety” hysteria…

    When reading this, just remember that cops are more likely to die in common traffic accidents than die from a gunshot on the job.

    And remember that the clerk at 7-Eleven faces a far greater likelihood of being shot to death on the job than a cop.

    The claim that policing is an inordinately “dangerous” job is a complete MYTH, contradicted by virtually every single statistic and measure we have of job fatalities. But that doesn’t stop them from politicizing “officer down” deaths. And today’s storyline about a so-called “War on Cops” should be viewed the same way.

  22. #22 |  KBCraig | 

    SJE fapped upon its keyboard and scrit:

    Brooke Oberwetter was in a public space…

    Pete was in a court room…

    Seriously? You posit that a court room is not a “public space”?

    Both of those spaces are public property, AKA “government property”. Courts, except in rare circumstances involving the privacy of victims or secrecy of the government, are open to the public.

    Ridiculous follow-up: Pete’s “Motorhome Diaries” partner, Adam, left Pete’s contempt hearing in disgust. The judge ordered baillifs to arrest Adam, return him to the courtroom, and immediately sentenced him to 60 days in jail.

  23. #23 |  Six | 

    @#70 I see your point and do not mistake being polite and respectful with ‘rolling over’. Perhaps I just live in the big-picture world of measuring results, effectivness and getting things done. I am all for making a complaint against the cop and NOT rolling over, that’s just the wrong way to do it.

    If you want to call a cop an asshole to his face – fine with me! Just don’t be further pissed that he found some bullshit way to make your life a little more unpleasant. Face reality, when you choose to behave that way, don’t be surprised that most people will not sympathize with you, especially those in a position to help your cause (i.e. a superior officer you are filing a complaint with, media, etc)… if your goal, as I beleive Pete’s was, is to call attention to abuse of powers, this does help his cause. This is a poor, poor way to do it and in the long run hurts his credibility. What do you expect a baliff to do when instructions with options are given and not followed? Removing a baseball cap when going in to a courtroom is far from an unreasonable request, however petty it might be. You represent yourself as someone full of contempt seeking to incite cops rather than someone who genuinely cares about civil liberties that are being infringed. Taking his hat off would not have been ‘rolling over’.

  24. #24 |  SJE | 

    KBCraig: way to stay classy.

    Being libertarian, being for small government, and for the rights of the people, doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want, where ever you want. We taxpayers also own the White House, all the nukes, aircraft carriers, bases, etc. That doesn’t mean we can just go into any military base for a picnic just because “we own it.”

    So, we the people, own the courts, pay the judges salaries etc. However, we the people have, through the constitution, have given that court to the judge. It is now his court, and he has a pretty damn difficult job keeping everything together. There is a long history of judges being able to kick you out of court, imprison, and fine you, for contempt. In fact, they can imprison you for contempt for as long as you continue to fail to comply. Frankly, I’d much rather a powerful judge to a bootlicker that you get in much of the world.

    By contrast, we the people, also through the constitution, have constrained the rights of cops. So, while its probably wise to be polite to the cops, they have no right to arrest you for asking “why” or even for calling them names. Brooke pissed off a cop, and the cop exceeded his power.

    Its not really that hard.

  25. #25 |  SJE | 

    KBCraig: another point. Courts are open to the public. Military bases are not. Why the difference? We the public own them, why can we go to one and not the other. Why can’t we piss on the grass in the national mall, like I can do in my own back yard?

  26. #26 |  Paul | 

    I believe Sinead O’Connor’s protest on SNL was primarily about abortion. (In one interview she also mentioned the issues of birth control and divorce.) She referenced abuse (at least as I understand it) because of restrictions on abortion in Ireland even in the case of pregnancies caused by sexual abuse/rape of girls.

    I have done a quick (and admittedly not comprehensive) LexisNexus search. But I can find no reference to sexual abuse by _clergy_ in any of her statements following the SNL appearance. Here is an excerpt from Newsweek magazine in 1994:

    O’Connor’s most famous transgression came in October 1992, when she went on “Saturday Night Live” and ripped up a photograph of the pope. The singer was protesting all sorts of things, among them the fact that the Irish courts had tried to prevent a 14-year-old rape victim from leaving the country to get an abortion.

  27. #27 |  ALowe | 

    “Being libertarian, being for small government, and for the rights of the people, doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want, where ever you want.”

    But apparently being a judge does.

    What does history and tradition have to do with this, anyway? There are long histories behind a lot of evil things, but that doesn’t make them right.

    Remember, we’re talking about imprisoning someone for wearing a hat. Think about that for a moment. Imprisoning someone to be insolent as to wear a hat in the presence of His Honor, Exalted Ruler of the Courtroom. Did I fall asleep and wake up in the middle ages? Only a self-important douchebag would have someone imprisoned for wearing a hat in their presence.

    I wonder how much it’s going to cost the taxpayers to polish His Honor’s ego? What are you willing to spend on imprisonment, prosecution, appeals, and civil rights lawsuits, all to make some insecure tyrant feel validated?

    It’s an excessive punishment for violating meaningless social standards that have been irrelevant for the past century at least. There is absolutely no harm to anyone or anything in allowing someone to wear a hat in a courtroom. If you want the judge to be able to maintain order and control, you should be condemning his actions. He’s the one who lost control in the first place. If you don’t want people to question your authority, don’t make silly demands that cause people to question your authority.

  28. #28 |  hexag1 | 

    can someone explain the Mick Jagger reference?

  29. #29 |  perlhaqr | 

    Hey, if I get elected judge, and I get to make people take off clothes, can I force them to put more on?

    “Welcome to the court of Judge Perlhaqr. Please make sure you’re wearing your burqa, unless it is ‘bunny-suit Friday’, in which case, well, bunny-suit.”

  30. #30 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Mick Jagger: “she make a dead man cum” lyric. Story is about orgasm. Apparently you can cum even when dead.

  31. #31 |  highnumber | 

    Paul @76,
    I don’t have the references handy, but I recall her speaking out on the abuses she herself received at the hands of nuns when she was growing up.

    Sinead’s career has been brilliant if you’ve continued to pay attention, by the way.

  32. #32 |  MPH | 

    There are certain religions that require wearing a head cover as a sign of respect for their god. Can the judge overrule their right to their religious beliefs and require them to take off their head covering (not sure you’d call it a “hat”)?

    The discussion of why we should remove our hats (indoors, or in court) reminds me of an incident my stepson went through in high school. Who would have thought that wearing a jester’s cap would be considered “gang related”? I haven’t seen any news stories about gangs of unruly youths terrorizing neighborhoods while wearing jester’s caps. But “gang related” is the reason my stepson was told he couldn’t wear a jester’s cap to school. The claim that not taking off your hat is a sign of disrespect is equally spurious. No, it’s a sign that you’re wearing a hat (sometimes a cigar is just a cigar), unless it’s a huge hat that reads “The judge is a wanker”, or some such insult. What is next? Requiring that all salute the judge? The salute is supposedly a hold over from the medieval custom of raising the visor on your helmet when approaching the king so that he can see your face; failing to raise the visor was considered an insult. When visors went away, the motion remained. Should we all be required to salute the judge, as the “sovereign” of the court?

    What if a judge were to state that hot women who didn’t uncover their breasts would be considered to be disrupting the court, and have them remove their clothing or be removed from the court (and he could even claim there’s a good reason for this; until she disrobes, all the men in the court room will be “distracted” thinking about what she’d look like naked). Isn’t this his courtroom, where he and he alone sets the standards for decorum?

    Given the preceding nods at inanity, what is my real point? If the members of the gallery are taking little or no note of it, then it isn’t a “distraction” or “disruptive”. All a judge needs in a court room is that those in the gallery be unobtrusive. Anything beyond that is merely a way to inculcate servility in those present.

  33. #33 |  qwints | 


    I completely understand your rejection of the idea of “decorum,” but I disagree with your calling dress codes “silly demands.” The judges I have known honestly believe in maintining the dignity of the courtrrom in order to esnure everyone takes the proceedings seriously.

  34. #34 |  highnumber | 

    I got this from the Chicago Tribune’s archives (I hope this counts as fair use):

    The gesture was “nothing personal against (the pope). It was a statement against organized religion that was not telling the truth but claiming to represent the truth and being a bad parent figure, certainly in Ireland,” she said, referring to the child sex-abuse scandal in the Church.
    Chicago Tribune [Chicago, Ill] 04 July 1997: pp. 41.

    It’s tough to tell if she actually referred to the sex abuse scandal or if the reporter made the assumption. Other articles, particularly the ones published immediately after the SNL incident, reference her anger with the Catholic church for fostering an atmosphere that tacitly approved of the abuse she received at the hands of her own mother. I found nothing but good words for the nuns who taught and cared for her as a teenager, so I may have been mistaken about that earlier.

  35. #35 |  SJE | 

    ALowe: a judge cannot do whatever he wants, even in his courtroom. As for tradition, its very important in how the law is interpreted and applied. In fact, the law in the common law countries is, more or less, just codified tradition.

  36. #36 |  SJE | 

    As for why having powerful judges is good, look at Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He was once one of the most powerful people in Russia, until he challenged Putin. He was jailed on the flimsiest of charges for several years and was just about to complete his term. A few days before he was to released, Putin made some comment on TV. Khodorkovsky was suddenly “convicted” of 17 more years in Siberia.

  37. #37 |  ALowe | 

    “The judges I have known honestly believe in maintining the dignity of the courtrrom in order to esnure everyone takes the proceedings seriously.”

    Yeah, dignity, that’s it. Letting normal people dress like normal people just isn’t a dignified thing to do, is it?

    I guess the dignity of a room is more important than the dignity of a human. How does a hat destroy the dignity of a courtroom anyway, and why does it do so when on a head but not in a lap? How can a courtroom have dignity? Was this a sentient courtroom?

    Nothing makes people take you seriously like jailing someone for wearing a common article of clothing. Want to maintain dignity? Try acting with a little bit of it instead of lashing out over arbitrary things.

  38. #38 |  ALowe | 

    “As for tradition, its very important in how the law is interpreted and applied.”

    What are you trying to say here? Are laws interpreted differently if someone in the room happens to have an object on their head at the time?

    Also not sure what you’re trying to say in your last post. So Putin does essentially the same thing as the judge and he’s the bad guy, but the judge is the good guy when he does it? Or are you saying the dude with the long last name deserved it and Putin needed that power to maintain order? Either way, I don’t think you have a very credible argument.

  39. #39 |  SJE | 

    Re Tradition: I was responding to an earlier point (yours, I believe), where it was asserted that tradition is irrelevant because we used to have slaves or something like that. My point is not about hats, its to point out that tradition is important in the law. You can’t just look at a particular law on its own, without understanding how it is understood and applied. This is just how it is, whether we like it or not. Personally, I like it, because it provides continuity and weakens the power of government to go with the latest fad.

    My point re Russia is that the PM can say it would be a good idea for someone to rot in prison, and the judges are happy to oblige. In the USA, the judges are supposed to be immune from that sort of pressure, and to call the case as they see fit, based on the law and the facts. For the same reason, I oppose Bush and Obama’s indefinite detention without trial, and why I prefer smaller government, less laws, and oversight of prosecutors, so that they cannot just find any ridiculous law to f*k with you because they don’t like you.

  40. #40 |  Paul | 

    Highnumber #84,

    Good find. Thanks for sharing that.