Tag Archives: First Amendment

Jury Nullification Ethics: Denver’s District Attorney Tries To Make It Illegal To Teach Jurors About The Power Of Juries

ZengerIs it just me, or does it seem to everyone as if  a lot of public officials have been trying to shrink the First Amendment lately?

Jury nullification is the doctrine, rich in jurisprudential and American history, that declares that juries have the power and the right to reject what they believe are either unjust criminal laws or unjust prosecutions, and acquit defendants who may have been proven guilty on the evidence, essentially nullifying the law by refusing to enforce it . They definitely have that power: once a citizen is declared not guilty, that citizen cannot be tried again. The dilemma is that neither judges nor lawyers are permitted to let juries know about nullification, since nullification defies the law. A defense lawyer mentioning it in a closing argument risks a mistrial, and bar sanctions. In most jurisdictions, judges instruct jurors that it is their duty to apply the law as it is written whether they agree with the law or not. In only a few states are jurors expressly permitted to judge both the facts and the law of the case. In 2012, New Hampshire passed a unique law explicitly allowing defense attorneys to inform juries about jury nullification.

In Denver this week, Mark Iannicelli, 56, set up a small booth with a sign that said “Juror Info” in front of the city’s courthouse. The Denver District Attorney’s Office has charged him with eight counts of jury tampering, because Iannicelli used that booth to hand out flyers about jurors’ rights to practice jury nullification to jury pool members. Yes, he has been charged with tampering with juries that aren’t even juries yet. Continue reading

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When Law Co-Opts Ethics: Florida’s Unconstitutional Pro-Gun Doctor Gag Law Upheld

Unbelievable!

“See doc? That’s what you get for shooting your mouth off! Get it?”

A federal appeals court this week upheld an NRA-crafted Florida law making it illegal for doctors to ask questions and record information about a patient’s gun ownership. Medical groups had challenged the law, arguing that it infringed on doctors’ First Amendment rights.

Which it does. The law is an outrageous incursion on free speech in order to protect gun owners from unwelcome anti-gun lobbying by their physicians.

Among other restrictions, the law says doctors must refrain from asking about gun ownership by patients or family members unless the they believe in “good faith” that the information is relevant to medical care or safety. It also prevent doctors from discriminating against patients or “harassing” them because of owning firearms, which presumably means that it is illegal for a doctor to tell a patient, “You’re too clumsy to own a gun, and if you blow your damn face off, don’t come crying to me.”

“The purpose of the act, as we read it, is not to protect patient privacy by shielding patients from any and all discussion about firearms with their physicians; the act merely requires physicians to refrain from broaching a concededly sensitive topic when they lack any good-faith belief that such information is relevant to the medical care or safety of their patients or others,” said the 2-1 majority opinion, written by Judge Gerald Tjoflat and joined by Judge L. Scott Coogler.

Dissenting Judge Charles Wilson argued that the law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians:

“Simply put, the act is a gag order that prevents doctors from even asking the first question in a conversation about firearms. The act prohibits or significantly chills doctors from expressing their views and providing information to patients about one topic and one topic only, firearms.”

I don’t see how anyone can dispute that analysis. I especially don’t see how the other two judges dispute it.

Doctors shouldn’t use their position of influence to try to impose their political, social and life-style views on patients. If the American Medical Association wants to declare that to be an unethical abuse of a doctor’s status and a patient’s trust, I wouldn’t complain. The law, however, has no more business telling doctors that they can’t advise their patients that owning guns may be bad for their health or their neighbor’s health than it has making it illegal for doctors to tell patients that Donald Trump is just what this country needs in the White House. What’s next, telling dentists that they can’t tell you about their brilliant kids while they’re poking around your mouth?

The state doesn’t have to get involved in what patients and doctors talk about, shouldn’t, and mustn’t. This is a job for ethics, not law. If a doctor won’t stop telling you that the Second Amendment should be repealed, the remedy is easy: tell him to shut up, or you’ll find a new doctor.

Or just shoot him.

Kidding.

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Pointer: Legal Ethics Forum

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Incompetent Elected Official of The Month: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

You're supposed to know all this BEFORE you run for President, Bobby...or Governor, for that matters.

You’re supposed to know all this BEFORE you run for President, Bobby…or Governor, for that matter.

The Westboro Baptist Church has threatened to picket the funerals of the victims of the Lafayette theater shooting.

Governor Jindal, an alleged Presidential candidate, thinks that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them, despite a well-publicized Supreme Court decision to the contrary. “If they come here to Louisiana, if they try to disrupt this funeral, we’re gonna lock them up,” Jindal said on “Face the Nation.”. “We won’t abide by that here…Let these families grieve in peace.”

Hmmmm. Appealing to ignorant voters. Grandstanding. Pandering. Abuse of power.  Talking as if the Constitution doesn’t exist. Threatening to break the law. Sounding like an idiot blowhard.

Just the guy to give Donald Trump a run for his money.

 

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Four Ethics Dunces And An Unethical Quote Of The Week Double Feature: The Wallingford, Connecticut Mayor And The Anti-Defamation League

Beware of Nazi fleas!

Beware of Nazi fleas!

“I had to check with the chief over what is actionable and what isn’t,” according to the mayor. “Unless something violates state or federal law, there’s no jurisdiction for government to do anything. We had to ask, is it something controlled by law?”

—-Wallingford, Connecticut Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr, explaining why his ignorance of Constitutional rights compelled him to check with the police after a hysteric freaked out over a flea market that was selling Confederate and Nazi themed items, and called 911 and the mayor’s office in a panic.

“It’s unfortunate that under the law people have the right to sell these things; but it doesn’t mean they should sell these things.” 

—-Joshua Sayles, assistant regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Connecticut, expressing his regret that the Constitution includes the First Amendment and a right to Free Speech.

The Wallingford resident who called 911 said he “was shaking and almost vomiting. I had to run.” He told 911 there were helmets with swastikas, images of Hitler and other historical Nazi items.  He complained that the Confederate items were “not authentic” and were replicas of flags and weapons.

The appropriate response to this individual is: grow up. People do things, like things, say things, believe things, sell things, buy things and think things you may not like, and your proper response if you are offended is to leave the scene,  put it out of your mind, make a personal complaint to the individual or individuals in question to express your disagreement if you feel you have to, and then go away.  You have no right to sic the law on them. You have no right to stop them. Calling 911 is an abuse of the service. Ethics Dunce #1. Continue reading

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More Obama Administration Abuse of Power In The Service of Political Correctness

 redskins

From the Washington Post:

Efforts to lure the Washington Redskins back to the District have come up against a potentially insurmountable challenge: the Obama administration’s objections to the team’s name.Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser this spring that the National Park Service, which owns the land beneath Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, was unlikely to accommodate construction of a new stadium for the Redskins unless the team changes its name.

Jewell oversees both national park land and America’s trust and treaty relationships with Native American tribes.Her decision not to extend the District’s lease of the RFK land badly hinders Bowser’s bid to return the Redskins to D.C. — and boosts efforts to lure the team across the Potomac to Northern Virginia.

It is also a blatant abuse of government power and an  insult to the spirit and intent of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Continue reading

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Surely There Is A Gay John Adams In Oregon Who Will Fight The State’s Outrageous Persecution Of The Kleins…Isn’t There?

Come on, John, I know you're out there....

Come on, John, I know you’re out there….

Even if one believes that the refusal of  Sweet Cakes  to make a wedding cake for a gay couple was a dubious exercise of religion as well as a mean and petty one, the astounding punishment levied on the now defunct bakery’s owners must be condemned as an abuse of power.

Having already lost their bakery business due to mob action online by Gay Marriage Advocate Furies, Aaron and Melissa Klein were walloped by former Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian with a $135,000 judgment  for “emotional damages” to the couple. He also issued a gag order on the ex-bakers that forbids the Kleins from explaining to potential customers of Sweet Cakes their anti- same-sex wedding policies.

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UPDATE (7/9): This is, I have learned, an overly simplistic description. Ken at Popehat explains what’s really going on as far as the “gagging” goes.

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Of course—I guess I can’t really say “of course” if such a travesty can occur—no state can order anyone not to talk about anything in such a situation. The unconstitutional gag order is essentially moot, since to violate it the Kleins would have to still own a bakery and they do not, but it still acts to intimidate others and chill freedom of speech. It must be challenged and overturned. The fine is also unconscionable, and effectively makes villains out of the originally aggrieved couple if they don’t immediately agree to waive it. There is a duty in law to mitigate damages: the couple could and did minimize the harm of their cake request’s rejection by obtaining a wedding cake elsewhere. The Kleins didn’t stop them from getting married, and any harm that came to them from the publicity of their humiliation by the bakery was exacerbated by the couple’s own actions, not the Kleins’. $135,000? That’s beyond punitive. That’s vengeance. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

The Great “Gotcha!”: Walmart Exposed As The Cynical Corporate Hypocrite It Is

ISIS-Cake

I don’t generally approve of “gotchas,” but you have to love this.

After Walmart’s CEO piously announced that his chain aims to never offend a single customer and was thus banning everything with a Confederate flag in it, on it, or around it, Chuck Netzhammer went to a Walmart in Louisiana and requested a cake decorated with the taboo flag’s image. He was refused. Then he asked to have a cake decorated with the ISIS battle flag. Walmart happily obliged! After all, who’s offended by ISIS?

Netzhammer then posted a video memorializing Walmart’s hypocrisy, saying on it that the Islamic State “is beheading Christians, selling little girls into slavery and is currently a terrorist org at war with the United States — but you can’t buy the General Lee toy car …?”

Yup, that’s about the size of it. Continue reading

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