Category Archives: Law & Law Enforcement

Perfect Timing: The Tamir Rice Shooting

The boy and his toy.

The boy and his toy.

Unluckily for poor Tamir Rice, Cleveland, its police Department and Officer Timothy Loehmann, but luckily for the race-hucksters, activists and anti-police zealots determined to sell the position that white police have a secret hunting license for black kids, we have this latest tragedy, with another unarmed black child, this one just 12-years-old, killed by police.

Although it will doubtlessly not be portrayed that way in the media, there were many contributing factors to Tamir’s death. He was carrying a realistic pellet gun revolver in a park, and this is not a good idea. The guns are very realistic, especially from a distance. An observer called in a 911 alarm…I suppose the citizen can’t be blamed for being cautious, but in an earlier age, when toy guns looked like toy guns and the idea of a kid shooting anyone for real was unimaginable, this would have never happened.

Incredibly, the dispatcher didn’t relay to the officers the information from the caller that the gun was “probably fake.” The police excuse for that obviously crucial mistake was “We need to get that information to that zone car.”  Get the information that someone is wielding a real gun when there is already reason to believe it might be fake? There is never a need to get bad and potentially deadly information out fast. If nothing else, this is negligence, and would fuel a powerful lawsuit.

Then the officers arrived, encountered the kid, and apparently shot him dead without using a megaphone to warn the boy to drop his pellet gun. Not only did they assume the gun was real, thanks to the incomplete dispatcher report, but the shooting officer was a rookie. Would a more experienced cop have kept a cooler head? Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Attorney General Eric Holder

“While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing.  Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now.  Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence.  And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions.”

—-Attorney General Eric Holder’s official statement following the announcement that the grand jury would not be handing down an indictment against Michale Brown’s shooter, Officer Wilson.

Sure, why change now?

Sure, why change now?

Why is this statement so unethical? There are three reasons.

1. The positioning of this statement, at the very beginning of the whole release, suggests and is meant to suggest that Holder and the Justice Department are in sympathy with those who believe that Wilson should be prosecuted. It translates into “Don’t despair! There is still hope! Your black Attorney General is doing all he can to get this racist cop and avenge Mike Brown!” for many who read or heard it, and that was the intent.

2. This is misrepresentation, essentially a lie, designed to mislead. No legal experts believe that there is any chance that the Justice Department will find probable cause to make a civil rights case against Wilson, and Holder is too good a lawyer—or once was—not to know that.  The bar is too high, and the evidence isn’t there, just as it wasn’t there in the equally futile civil rights investigation against George Zimmerman. Most, if not all, of those determined to see Wilson punished don’t comprehend what the investigation of the shooting by Justice signifies, and think it is just a separate chance to get him on trial for murder. Holder, again intentionally, did nothing to enlighten them.

3. To the extent that anyone does believe that the Justice investigation holds out hope of an indictment against Wilson, Holder is setting Brown’s supporters up for a second disappointment, and conceivably setting up Ferguson and the nation for a second round of rioting when the inevitable bad news comes down. Good plan.

What an ethics disaster and a national disgrace Eric Holder has been as Attorney General. And he is clearly determined to be both until the day he walks out of Justice for good….and I do mean “for good.

 

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Verdict: The Grand Jury Process Was Fair and Just

abstract door grand jury room

The accusations and complaints about the Darren Wilson grand jury just don’t hold up.

Criminal law professor Paul Cassell consolidates several issues raised in the comments here and in the news media in his excellent analysis in the Volokh Conspiracy, here.

Among the criticisms he addresses…

1. Using a Grand Jury Deviated from Normal Process.
2. The Grand Jury Took Too Long.
3. The Grand Jury Got Too Much Evidence.
4. The Grand Jury Operated in Secret.
5. The Grand Jury Was Exposed to Pressure.
6. The Grand Jury Did Something That Grand Juries Ordinarily Don’t Do.
7. The Grand Jury Misunderstood the Standard of Proof.
8. Robert McCulloch was Biased and Should Have Recused Himself.
9. The Grand Jury Evidence Shouldn’t Be Released.

He also echoes my conclusion about many of the protesters, as he ends his piece with this: Continue reading

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If Bill Cosby Were An Incredibly Unethical Lawyer…

"Hypnotism 101" isn't required in law school, but it's recommended...

“Hypnotism 101″ isn’t required in law school, but it’s recommended…

…he might be Michael Fine, 57, a Sheffield, Ohio attorney who has an even more effective method for raping women that the Cos’s drug-and-drink trick.  Police say that Fine convinced female clients to let him hypnotize them, and then had sex with them while instructing them to forget everything but their legal discussions. He  agreed to have his law license suspended temporarily while the Lorain County Bar Association and  the Ohio Supreme Court deal with the results of the police investigation, or perhaps until he can hypnotize all of them and make them forget the whole thing. Or believe they are chickens or something.

Fine allegedly told the women that his hypnotic machinations were a meditation and relaxation technique that he used to help his clients. Bear with me: I don’t want to make light of rape, but this whole story sounds like a really silly Charlie Chan movie. Unfortunately, it appears to be true. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunces, Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Files, “Seriously Confused” Division: The Looters of Ferguson Market and Liquor

Ferguson Market

Ferguson Market and Liquor was looted last night, targeted by protesters demanding “justice” for Michael Brown.

I’d like someone to explain the logic of that act to me, please.  Please. That was the store where Michael Brown was captured on video shoplifting and assaulting a clerk prior to his fatal encounter with Officer Wilson.

How dare that store be robbed by an unarmed teen! No, that doesn’t work. How dare an employee be assaulted by a shooting victim! Hmmm…no, no, that’s stupid. How dare the business allow the media to mention its name in connection with the examination of whether Mike Brown was just a gentle giant who wouldn’t hurt a fly or intimidate a clerk!  That can’t be it, can it? Or is it, “Let’s honor Mike by really hurting that small business where he stole some blunts  and shoved that  little clerk!” Really?

What exactly is the theory of justice here? My mind is open, it really is. I so want to understand.

Absent a persuasive explanation, however, I must conclude that anyone who sees “justice” in punishing Michael Brown’s innocent victims, however the teen met his demise, no more understands the concept of justice than I understand string theory, and I have no interest at all in listening to such an individual’s theories, protests, or rants about a subject about which that they are not only embarrassingly ignorant, but deluded as well.

What they did is injustice. They don’t know the difference between injustice and justice, which tells me that neither they nor anyone allied with them, supporting them or sympathetic with them should be taken seriously or heeded.

And when we are told, “The police are biased against people who think looting a store is justice!,” I am compelled to answer,

“As well they should be.”

 

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “The Ferguson Riots: Of Course.”

I know this is a departure: this is my own comment. After I posted it in a fevered state, I decided that it warranted wider exposure.

It comes in response to a jaw-dropping post by one of the most articulate and analytical regulars on Ethics Alarms, who wrote in response to the original essay, this, beginning with a quote from it:

“the activists don’t care, literally don’t care, about [what really happened and why] For them, the issue is simple. A white cop in a racist police department shot an unarmed black teen to death, and that means that there will be riots if he’s not indicted.”

“As there should be.

The moral is – if you don’t want riots, regardless of whether the shooting was justified (if I were on the Grand Jury, then on the scraps of evidence I’ve seen, I’d indict to let it go to trial – just as if I were on the jury of the trial, I’d acquit barring more evidence) – anyway, the moral is – don’t run a racist police department.

Such civil disturbance is the natural countermeasure to tyranny.

I consider such civil disturbance to be a really, really, REALLY bad thing. I think anyone rational does. That means we have a responsibility to make sure that Law Enforcement is not so manifestly, systemically unjust that regardless of the facts in an individual case, riots are inevitable.

What should be is that there’s a justice system that, even though imperfect, is not so horrible that rational people become irrational and desperate. While there will always be some who are “professional rioters”, without a groundswell of popular sentiment behind them, they’re a small bunch of crims easily dealt with.”

After I carefully picked my jaw off the floor, I wrote this, the Comment of the Day, in response… Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

The Ferguson Riots: Of Course.

A car burns on the street after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

From Ethics Alarms, August 17, 2014:

IF the evidence supports the conclusion that Brown charged at Wilson, neither the family of the slain teen, nor the African American community in Ferguson, nor the protesters, the race-hustlers, the black and progressive politicians who benefit by preserving racial tension and distrust,  much of the news media and many, many pundits and political bloggers, will change their rhetoric, accusations or the prevailing Ferguson narrative one bit. They need for the narrative as it stands to be true, and want it to be true. Massive confirmation bias will ensure that the death of Mike Brown will be talked about, protested and regarded as an example of racist police oppression of young black men, and the truth, in the end, will be irrelevant.

I hope my prediction is wrong.

But it was not wrong. Everything that has happened since the announcement that the grand jury returned no indictment against Darren Wilson has been inevitable for months, and more so since no responsible steps were taken by the Obama administration to prevent it all. The desultory, disgusted, support-of-the-rule-of-law-by-rote speech by the President tonight, calling for calm while signaling to all by tone, expression and body language that his personal opinion was in conflict with his words, couldn’t have helped.

So now the race-baiters, dividers, bigots, rioters, looters, and hustlers, as well as the rest who have waited for so long to exploit this tragedy for partisan and ideological objectives, have what they want.

My thoughts on the matter from an ethics point of view were stated here a month ago. The riots, lootings and burnings hadn’t happened yet, but otherwise everything is as it was when I wrote…

At this point, confirmation bias has completely taken over the Ferguson story, meaning that a combination of factors—police incompetence; a toxic racial culture in the city and region;  the racial distrust carefully nurtured by Democrats, the Obama Administration, and an irresponsible news media; anger and cynicism by non-black, non-race-baiters over the disgraceful George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin tragedy;  the slanted reporting of Brown’s shooting from the outset, and especially the full commitment of the civil rights establishment to make this incident the centerpiece of an attack on racial profiling and police violence against blacks regardless of whether the facts of the case justify it—now make any fair resolution of the incident impossible. They also guarantee that whatever occurs, the end result will be police anger, more racial division and distrust, and activists continuing to promote a false or misleading narrative as truth, just as in the Zimmerman-Martin debacle. It is hopeless….

….the activists don’t care, literally don’t care, about [what really happened and why] For them, the issue is simple. A white cop in a racist police department shot an unarmed black teen to death, and that means that it was a racially motivated murder.

The police and their mostly conservative defenders also don’t care about the details. Once again, a dedicated public servant who put his life on the line was forced to use deadly force against a dangerous thug who attacked him, and because the cop is white, is being persecuted and unjustly maligned.

Everyone is poised to see what they want to see, believe what supports their biases and agendas, and shout loudly about injustice regardless of what occurs, fertilizing the ground for the next incident they can exploit, along with cynical politicians.

Good job, everybody.

_______________________

UPDATE: The grand jury documents are beginning to trickle out. Here is Officer Wilson’s testimony.

 

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society