Sunday Links

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

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38 Responses to “Sunday Links”

  1. #1 |  Jerryskids | 

    That story on the Austin Police Chief responding to the outrage over the dog being shot was tough to read. Not just the part about how the obvious solution to this problem is more money for cops, I am used to public employees claiming more money will solve any problem. The tough part was following the links that pop up once you follow his excuse that this might be related to the cop who got killed at Wal-mart (the first such death in over 10 years in Austin) that proved anti-cop sentiments were on the rise.

    The link from there mentioned that the cop at Wal-mart was shot just hours after a controversial police shooting of a fleeing suspect (although the police didn’t say what he was fleeing from other than the police). And that link of course mentioned that this shooting happened just a month after a controversial police shooting of the passenger in a car of a fleeing suspect (although the police didn’t say what he was fleeing from other than the police).

    So since a cop gets killed once every ten years, it is understandable that cops would be on edge, but it is not reasonable for citizens to be on edge when cops shoot unarmed fleeing suspects and dogs once a month? Do cops make a distinction between unarmed fleeing suspects and dogs?

  2. #2 |  Cynical in New York | 

    RE: Police State

    Yes, it’s not sliding, we’ve been a police state for awhile. In addition given the attitude of “if you don’t have anything to hide…” it seems that plenty of people don’t care.

    RE: Carden article

    Good stuff and he pointed out that civil liberties have suffered as well although he should’ve used some specific examples

    RE: NYPD

    I can’t say that I’m surprised

    RE: Austin Police Chief

    Yea people get pissed when you kill a man’s dog in cold blood when said dog and owner did nothing to warrant it.

  3. #3 |  Dante | 

    Re: Austin dog killing

    That isn’t a mob mentality. When thousands of outraged citizens show up at the offending officer’s house with torches and pitchforks, THAT is a mob mentality. Keep shooting unarmed kids and dogs and you will get a front seat view.

    Protect and Serve (Themselves!)

  4. #4 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    Yes! Exactly! I really despise people who climb up on a cross and whine about how they are being persecuted by a Mob, or Fascism, or some other damned thing which if they WERE being persecuted by, they would be dead (and mercifully silent). For one thing, their whining makes an ugly part of me think “I hope the Universe gives you the opportunity to appreciate the difference!”, and that makes me feel like I need to wash.

  5. #5 |  Charlie O | 

    Kudos to Judge Wood for tossing the jury nullification case. The charges were ridiculous at the outset.

    I have been making Steven Greenhut’s case for years now. We are NOT sliding towards a police state. We’re there. Have been for years. The behavior of police in this country is exactly why I conceal carry. I’m not afraid of the so-called “bad guys.” They already know not to mess with someone who looks like me. I travel armed to protect myself from the big blue gang. I may lose in any encounter with them, but at last I’m going while fighting for my life rather than laying on the ground being told to “stop resisting.”

  6. #6 |  winston smith | 

    thank god Julian Heicklen had his charges thrown out…..

  7. #7 |  Burgers Allday | 

    That Art Acevedo thing was kind of sickening.

    I haven’t been impressed by him ever since one of his officers woke up a sleeping man in a car and then shot him to death for being startled.

    The part that Acevedo didn’t say about the Cisco the dog case, but should of said, is how much he is willing to pay Paxton for Cisco’s loss. He can stool around on the other aspects of the investigation all he wants, but he needs to pay Paxton, and if he offers Paxton $10,000 now, then it is unlikely his city will end up having to pay Paxton $100,000 (or more) plus legal fees later.

    This is “duh level” strategic thinking. A no brainer. For whatever reason, Acevedo wants to put those lawyers (Paxton’s and the city’s) to work. Not smart. Not cool. Bad chief.

  8. #8 |  greenback | 

    Prosecutors are stepping up their game when it comes to terrorism.

    “For example, in his opening statement to the jury one prosecutor suggested that “it’s not illegal to watch something on the television. It is illegal, however, to watch something in order to cultivate your desire, your ideology.” In other words, viewing perfectly legal material can become a crime with nothing other than a change of heart. When it comes to prosecuting speech as support for terrorism, it’s the thought that counts.”

  9. #9 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Anybody who has not read Heicklen’s winning legal brief needs to read it.

    The existence of that brief, and the fact that he still won after having wrote it, is by far the most interesting aspect of Heicklen’s case.

    It is on the internet. Greenfield has a link. Greenfield didn’t seem to like the brief, or its contentions, very much at all. He seems to take the position that Heicklen should have just let the court-appointed defense attorneys do the job their way. Still, it is hard to argue with Heicklen’s success and I think Heicklen made a stronger and more lasting impression doing it his way. Sometimes defense attys are more part of the problem than part of the solution. They really tend to bristle when you tell them that though.

  10. #10 |  albatross | 

    The police chief was right that an angry mob whipped up by video of a dog getting shot should not influence the investigation of the incident. What he’s missing is that there appears to be no other way to get incidents of this kind meaningfully investigated or stopped.

    What is needed here isn’t making a sacrificial example of the cop who shot the dog. What’s needed is a change in procedures so dogs and people don’t get shot do often, and so that cops who are inclined to unnecessarily shoot dogs and people get removed from the police force and moved into some other line of work.

  11. #11 |  JimBob | 

    An Open Message to Chief Acevedo from an Austinite:

    Art– can I call you Art?– we need to talk.

    The people of Austin know what’s up. We know how the APD likes to roll. Cops respond to a call, and the magic dividing line is I-35. West of I-35, in those nice neighborhoods where the politicians and lobbyists live? The cops show up wearing kid gloves and making sure that they watch their language. East of I-35, where all them dirty brown people live? The cops show up spoiling for a fight, using foul language, and itching to show who is in charge. Look at the police monitor’s statistics– where are most of the complaints, Art? Where are most of the complaints for “discourteous behavior” versus “unreasonable use of force” or “intimidation”?

    Honestly, Art, you’re largely to blame for this. You don’t regulate your own department.

    There are two cops currently on your payroll that have been identified as “Brady” cops by the Travis County DA’s office– Michael Morgovnik and Samuel Sanchez. You punished Sanchez with a temporary suspension for tampering with evidence, and Morgovnik has never been significantly punished for his actions. Shouldn’t a complete lack of credibility on the witness stand be treated as a fitness-for-duty issue, and not a mere disciplinary matter– if you even address it at all?

    You punish officers more harshly for fender-benders than for improperly handling their firearms– swap some paint with a civilian car, and an officer gets a three-day suspension. Accidentally fire a pistol in a crowded area, or leave it sitting around, loaded, at a grocery store, and the result is a one-day suspension. Both of these actions put the lives of civilians at risk and show a lack diligence and care by officers– shouldn’t they be treated as equally serious offenses?

    You loudly and publicly called Scott Henson a liar for incorrectly recalling a single detail of his horrific encounter with the Austin PD. Yet you failed to fire Corporal Jones, who witnessed Officer Gish assaulting a restrained woman (in front of EMTs, no less), when he “forgot” about the entire incident. I guess it’s one thing for a cop to “misremember” an entire assault, but a completely different thing for a civilian to “misremember” every action taken by the officers that harassed him.

    You held a Friday press event to point out that the officers never drew their Tasers on Henson, but didn’t stop ONCE to answer questions about whether the outrageous show of force was reasonable. Hell, you seemed PROUD of it. This is especially galling since your officers completely ignored the resolution that was radioed in by another law enforcement officer on the scene– an officer who actually investigated the issue without subjecting a man and his granddaughter to completely degrading treatment.

    I could go on a lot longer, but doing so would only serve to raise my blood pressure. So you’ll have to forgive me, Art. When I hear the Chief of Police for Austin talking about how evil a “mob” mentality can be, given the APD’s willingness to protect its own at the expense of public safety, I tend to think of an old story about a pot and a kettle.

    Thanks kindly,

  12. #12 |  Bergman | 

    With regard to the jury nullification pamphlets…

    If educating citizens (whether actively on a jury or not) about statutory law, case law and constitutional law is the crime of jury tampering, then both judges and school teachers would become felons on the spot.

    Nothing in the law shields a sitting judge from a felony arrest and (at least in my home state) a citizen’s arrest has most of the same legal standing as a police arrest (the only restrictions being a citizen cannot investigate crimes, or arrest someone later, after the fact…nor can a citizen forcibly disarm a sworn officer except in self-defense).

    Nothing in the law prevents a juror from performing a citizen’s arrest either.

    If Heicklen’s case had been ruled to actually be jury tampering, it would be the possible for any citizen (whether a juror, a spectator or an officer of the court) to arrest anyone they saw engaging in such jury tampering on the spot, even if it were the judge him/her-self. And it would be legal.

  13. #13 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    No, you don’t understand at all. Judges and School Teachers are agents of the State. COMPLETELY different rules apply!

    (mutter, mutter…first against the wall when the Revolution comes….)

  14. #14 |  (B)oscoH | 

    Austin Police Chief guy just made it worse. That they were reeling from the shooting of an officer is somehow anything to consider in the killing of an innocent dog owned by someone at the “wrong address”? That makes it more understandable to the public?

    Memo to police chiefs everywhere. The right response is:
    1. This was deplorable.
    2. Obviously, one of more officers or support staff made grave mistakes in this. The mistakes will be identified. The people responsible will be held accountable.
    3. If there are systemic problems we can fix, we will identify them and fix them.
    4. We are all very sorry. This event is not consistent with our values or our mission in keeping the peace.

  15. #15 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Don’t forget:

    5. Mr. Paxton: your $10,000 check is waiting if you want it now.

  16. #16 |  SusanK | 

    Reading Acevedo’s statement, I thought maybe it was a dog that shot the officer at Wal-Mart.

  17. #17 |  EH | 

    Regarding Acevedo, it’s a mob mentality among police officers that allows them to shoot dogs without a second thought.

  18. #18 |  Coises | 

    Art Carden writes:
    “The war on drugs has been a dismal failure.”
    “Albert Einstein is reported to have said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By this definition, the drug war is insane.”

    Whenever I hear this, I want to slap somebody.

    If my Sunday paperboy clipped a rose in my garden, but he said he was aiming for the front porch and missed, I would probably believe him. If the same thing happened every Sunday for a year, I would no longer believe him. The Federal government has been waging a “War on Drugs” (by that name) for forty-one years now. Either “they” are very, very stupid, or very, very mendacious. I find the latter much more plausible.

    By simple observation, the purposes of the “War on Drugs” include (but are not limited to):

    * justifying a far larger law enforcement, criminal justice and penal system that we would otherwise require;

    * providing a pretext for erosion of basic liberties, particularly fourth amendment protections;

    * helping to maintain a general climate of fear and distrust;

    * enabling asset forfeiture;

    * putting lots of dark-skinned people in prison.

    It has been quite successful at achieving those goals. The only way you can think the “War on Drugs” is at all a failure is if you are naïve enough to believe that it has anything to do with reducing or mitigating the damage certain psychoactive substances might do to individuals or to society.

    The problem with this misunderstanding is that it leads to arguing against a straw man. The folks who push to maintain and expand the “War on Drugs” don’t care that it isn’t accomplishing its stated objectives: those are just marketing hype; and the collateral damage isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

  19. #19 |  Marty | 

    cops taking dna off of middle school kids is unbelievable. this is the freakiest thing I’ve heard in a while… I hope there’s a shitstorm of lawsuits over this.

  20. #20 |  ktc2 | 

    We are sliding toward awareness that we’ve been in a police state for at least a decade now.

  21. #21 |  Irving Washington | 

    Re.: Heicklen

    As a trial lawyer, I am deeply opposed to jury nullification in all but the most extreme cases. I also notice that advocates for it sometimes credit nullification when, in fact, the jurors have merely exercised their judgment even though it created an unexpected outcome given the language of the court’s charge.

    But if we’re not allowed to talk about nullification, how do we know when it happened, whether it was just, or if it even exists. I haven’t read the Heicklen brochures, but even if they urged jurors to disregard the law and their own consciences and refuse to convict just for the purpose of bringing down a corrupt criminal justice system, how does that violate the 1st Amendment? Just because a position is extreme, does that mean it can’t be discussed with potential jurors?

  22. #22 |  jmcross | 

    Regarding the police state:

    When the frog finally notices the boiling water, is it too late?
    Who is going to turn off the flame?
    Police Chiefs?
    City councils or county commissions?
    Local judges?
    State supreme courts or legislatures?
    Congress, POTUS or SCOTUS? The UN or ICC?


    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” —The Declaration of Independence

  23. #23 |  Burgers Allday | 

    As a trial lawyer, I am deeply opposed to jury nullification in all but the most extreme cases.

    The last two criminal jurors I spoke with told me that their respective juries nullified.

    In one case the jury didn’t think a folding knife that small should be illegal. So they nullified. They were acting in protest of the law.

    In the other case, the tiny, embarrassed lady slapped her drunken troublemaking husband (who’s bad behavior had gotten the police called). Again, the jury nullified. In this case, I don’t think the jury was protesting the spousal abuse law, but rather I think they were protesting a perceived lack of prosecutorial discretion.

    Now two cases is a real small sample, but I don’t often talk to jurors who are willing to tell me what happened in a jury deliberation.

    I don’t think jury nullification becomes problemmatic for the court system until somebody suggests that it be used in a case where a jury will not come up the idea to nullify naturally and on their own (as in the two trials described above).

    If you look at it that way, courts various efforts to avoid the jurors hearing about nullification makes some sense. You get kind of a de facto standard that says: if the injustice is great and apparent enuf then the jury will nullify even in the absence of a suggestion to nullify, but if the injustice is so subtle that it would not normally occur to the jury then they just need to “not go there” — they need to not be encouraged because then they will tend to overapply the doctrine.

  24. #24 |  Onlooker | 

    Regardless of what you think of the concept of jury nullification, we should all be happy to see that case be dismissed. It was a gross violation of free speech to arrest Heicklen for his activities.

    But I do also like the idea of jury nullification as it is a tool that the people can use to defend against the over-criminalization of our society, as well as prosecutorial abuse of power.

  25. #25 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    While I agree that the purposes you suggest may be real, don’t be too quick to jettison the idea that the War on Drugs is about drugs. Mencken defined Puritanism as “the dreadful fear that somebody, somewhere, may be having a good time” and wrote that a significant part of the impetus for the passage of the Volstead Act (Prohibition) was the countryman’s resentment of the fleshpots of the Cities. I think there are significant numbers of people in Law Enforcement and the Legal/Political professions who have seen what drugs can do to addicts, and what addicts can do to those around them, and declared unlimited war on the scourge for respectable if misguided reasons. And I also think there are those who simply want to force others to do as they are told. You see the same thinking at work in the anti-smoking Crusade.

  26. #26 |  Juice | 

    The DNA story reminds me of another one where cops told elementary students that they were going to play a “detective” game by giving their DNA. I can’t find the story by googling though.

  27. #27 |  Pablo | 

    #25 CSP–good point. There is still a major Puritan streak in this county, and a lot of control freaks. Look at the uproar over the Secret Service prostitution scandal. For the life of me I dont see what the big deal is with that. So they want to have sex? Oh noes!!

  28. #28 |  markm | 

    “These are interviews, not interrogations,” Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Ramos told “They are all consensual.”

    So kids 4 to 9 years under the age at which they can consent to sex (in CA) are considered able to understand and consent to waiving their 5th Amendment rights???

  29. #29 |  Pablo | 

    Im also calling bullshit on the idea that these DNA samples were given “consensually.” So a school child is called into an office with cops and they are expected to understand that they can refuse to cooperate? yeah right.

    The whole point of this is to teach kids that they have no rights. Metal detectors, “resource officers,” drug dog sniffs, locker searches, vehicle searches, etc. The Constitution just does not apply in schools, and pretty soon it won’t apply anywhere else either.

  30. #30 |  CC | 

    I’ve met Julian Heicklen and he’s a really great guy. It took guts to risk arrest doing what he did, and to fight the prosecution afterwards. Kudos to him.

  31. #31 |  JOR | 

    We’ve been in a police state ever since they started deciding that cops are a de facto legally entitled class that it’s illegal and wrong to intentionally resist in all cases.

    The Rule of Law is often favorably defined as the opposite of the Rule of Men, but that’s not quite right. Laws are products of men, and are as arbitrary as anything else men do. All rule is rule by men, and rule by terror. The real opposite end of the continuum from the Rule of Law is the Rule of Status, of which aristocracies and police states are closely related forms (one often develops out of the other, as in America’s case). American cops of today are much like samurai or knights; legally entitled to physically assault or even kill anyone of lesser status who insults their fragile egos, with whatever obligations they have in return for their privileged status being entirely directed toward their masters and patrons.

  32. #32 |  CyniCAl | 

    Julian Heicklein is my hero. I intend to inform the court of this fact when I report for jury duty in November.

  33. #33 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    “Julian Heicklein is my hero. I intend to inform the court of this fact when I report for jury duty in November.”

    I think you’re missing the point. It only counts if you manage to get on a jury and actually exercise your jury nullification powers. Otherwise you’d just be a blowhard taking an irrelevant stand and doing nobody whatsoever any good.

  34. #34 |  navroan | 

    “They are all consensual” … Minors cannot legally consent to anything, so there is no “consensual”.

  35. #35 |  Brooks | 

    Re: DNA from Kids

    it is utterly outrageous. Any argument for why minors can’t consent to sex applies with even more force in this situation. The quoted law professor is ridiculous as well, or at least they way the quote is used. Essentially, “there’s no law on the books against it, so it’s ok.”

    Realistically though, the entire exercise was to see which kids, if any, refused to give DNA or got squirmy about it, so they could focus on those kids more. I don’t think they’re actually gonna sequence an entire school.

  36. #36 |  Jozef | 

    RE: Police state

    I grew up in communist Czechoslovakia, and I know a police state when I see one. The US is definitely a police state. I’ve lived there a nice, comfortable life for 16 years, but about seven months ago I packed up and moved back to Europe. The No. 1 reason was that the US is dangerously coming close to the last stage of full police state conversion – abolishing the freedom to travel. TSA notwithstanding, the fact that passports can be now routinely taken away from some people (currently people who don’t pay child support and some felons, but this is just the beginning) is one of the best indicators that the US is turning into a nation-wide prison, Soviet style. I took the advantage while I still had my passport, bought a one-way ticket to Europe (actually, a return ticket because it was cheaper than one-way), sold of or moved all my property, and completely disassociated myself from the country I tried to hard to get into some 17 years ago. And all that because the Reason article, even though a little too late to the party, is absolutely right.

  37. #37 |  Marty | 

    #36- I’ve been comparing the US to Czechoslovakia for some time for the reasons you state. I can see passports being revoked at the borders. It would not be difficult to dramatically restrict the borders to US citizens- we’ve invested a great deal in border security to deal with illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

  38. #38 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @13 – That’s right, anyone who dares take a career helping others is evil and must be exterminated!

    @22 – In Europe, typically the ECHR. Which is why the European right hate it so much.