Tag Archives: police

The Most Unethical Prosecutor Of All: Baltimore’s Marilyn Mosby

Mosby

In a legal ethics seminar I taught this week for government attorneys, the vast majority of them voted that Marilyn Mosby’s vainglorious announcement of charges against six officers in the death of Freddie Gray was prosecutorial abuse, and a blatant violation of professional ethics rule 3.8, which directs that (this is the Maryland version)…

The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;


(e) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent an employee or other person under the control of the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.

Of course it was a breach of ethics, and an outrageous one. Her statement, which I discussed here, not only overstated her justification for bringing the charges, which were rushed and announced before a careful investigation was completed, it also stated that the officers were guilty, and worse, that the charges were being brought because the demonstrating and rioting protesters has demanded it. Mosby’s words suggested that she stood with the mob. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race

Warning: The Companion Rule To “Bias Makes You Stupid” Is “Immunity To Bias Makes You Dead”

terrorist

The picture above shows Denis Cuspert, a German rapper and the enterprising creator of the T-shirt he is holding in the shot on the left. The photo on the right shows Denis in his current incarnation, Abu Talha Al-Almani. He formally joined the Islamic State sometime in April 2014. It is believed that he has become the Islamic State’s chief propagandist in the German language, inspiring disillusioned young Germans to become jihadists. In November 2014, he appeared in an Islamic State video holding a severed head.

I saw the photo above online this morning, and it reminded me that I have never made an important point about bias explicit here. Bias causes a lot of problems, in society and in the life of individuals, but those who furiously condemn bias  and demand that we should eradicate it from human nature are reckless and ignorant, and often dishonest as well. Bias is a crucial evolutionary feature that allows human beings to avoid making the same mistake twice, or a hundred times. It is linked to trust, and leads to wariness. Without the ability to form biases, every one of us would be fatally naive, and a victim waiting to be harmed. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Daily Life, Ethics Scoreboard classics, Ethics Train Wrecks, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Ethics Observations On A Nashville Police Arrest Video

I encountered this video on CNN this morning:

Observations:

1. No police officers should have to work under these conditions. This requires courage and tolerance above what any professional should have to muster on a regular basis.

2. Every urban mayor, district attorney, police chief, civil rights advocate and journalist should be asked to comment on the video regarding the principles of respect, civic responsibility, and citizenship.

3. If the question is asked why crime rates are rising in several cities due to a cessation of proactive law-enforcement, this video is a nearly complete answer.

4. What prominent U.S. African American officials, leaders and celebrities are condemning this conduct by the friends of the individual being arrested, and conduct like it all over the nation? I haven’t seen or heard a single one.

5. Allowing this phenomenon to continue without addressing it directly is community malpractice, irresponsible, destructive, and almost certain to be deadly.

6. When such a situation escalates to violence, as this one easily could, who will be responsible, and who should be held responsible?

Discuss.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

The Trooper,The Law Clerk, And The Deer

This was all YOUR fault...

This was all YOUR fault…

Prof. Jonathan Turley would make this an ethics quiz, but not me.

He is troubled that a law clerk ended up an ex-law clerk after publishing a gratuitously nasty post on Facebook expressing her unseemly lack of sympathy for a New Jersey state trooper who died when his car collided with a deer. (Another trooper traveling with him was injured.) Turley shares my concern regarding the trend of employers punishing employees for their comments on social media, but in this case, I don’t have any sympathy for the clerk at all.

Responding to other Facebook commenters who expressed sorrow for the dead trooper and called him a hero, Leslie Anderson, who clerked for a News Jersey judge, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Travis L. Francis, expressed strenuous dissent, writing,

“Not that sad, and certainly not ‘tragic,’ Troopers were probably traveling at a dangerously high speed as per usual. Totally preventable. At least they didn’t take any of the citizens they were sworn to serve and protect with them…The ‘victim’s’ employment as a state trooper is irrelevant to the circumstances, other than the fact that he injured a fellow trooper and destroyed state property as a result of his recklessness. He wasn’t running into a burning building or otherwise acting within the course of his employment at the time of the accident. The outcry and ‘thank yous’ are absurd, nonsensical, and completely unwarranted. There are people in this country and around the world dying for much less. There is nothing ‘tragic’ about this. Get over yourselves and your sense of entitlement, people . . .

Nonetheless, I agree that it is sad and heart wrenching for the family members left to suffer the consequences of the Trooper’s recklessness — especially for the deer family who lost a mommy or daddy or baby deer.”

Jerk. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights, Social Media, Workplace

Unethical Words And Actions Have Consequences Dept.: The Baltimore Shooting Spree

baltimore-police-attacks

Since the Freddie Gray incident, Baltimore’s murder and criminal violence rate has climbed to record-setting levels, with over a hundred shooting deaths in the city this year. The Charm City’s police reported that 28 people were shot, and 9 of them killed, over the Memorial Day weekend alone.

Speaking to CNN anonymously, a Baltimore police officer attributed the spike to police officers in his city no longer doing their job proactively. This wasn’t a slowdown, he said, just low-risk policing, and the criminals are taking full advantage.

This seems extremely likely, and I would expect that the same phenomenon will take hold in other city police forces unless national leadership takes steps to…oh, what am I talking about? That’s not going to happen.

President Obama and Eric Holder’s racialized Justice Department planted the seeds of this with their irresponsible response to the Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown shootings, and those responses were modeled by a biased, unethical and politically ambitious state’s attorney in the Freddie Gray death. The war on police officers by African-American activists, Democrats and the Left was bound to have the result we are now seeing in Baltimore. Either the opportunistic pols, pundits and race-baiters wanted this, or they were too focused on gaining a political edge to foresee it. Now they are reaping what they have sown, and we should not allow them to deny accountability.

Why would any police officer engage in proactive policing when an unexpected turn of events, a resisting suspect or a single mistake in judgment under pressure will trigger protests and prejudging by mobs and the media, resulting in show trials ordered by cowardly prosecutors regardless of the evidence? It is a no-win situation for police, with personally, financially and professionally catastrophic consequences to an individual cop who ends up in the maw of one of these public lynchings. I expect that the next shoe in the process of dropping will be a sharp reduction in police recruits, except of the type that departments use at their peril.

There is no reason for any sane or intelligent individual to subject themselves to working conditions like this, where a disproportionate number of criminals and suspects he or she is going to encounter are African American, and any negative consequences to one of them under ambiguous circumstances will be attributed to racism, bias, homicidal tendencies or hate. We are going to end up with police forces made up entirely of insane or stupid cops.

CNN’s Carol Costello interviewed an African American community activist from Baltimore and asked the question I just did. His answer was a defiant “Because it’s their job!” Wrong. The job was not accepted with the risk of being thrown to the dogs by the Justice Department, state and local officials as an agreed-upon condition of employment. Police must be able to assume, as they once could, that the city, state and national leadership will support them and be reasonable regarding the occasional tragedies that the nature of the job will inevitably entail. Now they clearly cannot.

Had the pendulum swung too far to giving police the benefit of the doubt in every instance? Absolutely. Where the pendulum is swinging now, however, will result in urban chaos. That chaos, ironically, will fall most heavily on African American. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Workplace

Memorial Day Values And Ethics

arlington-cemetery-address

Many events, stories and trends have collided in the run-up to Memorial Day 2015, which itself illuminates a common theme, and, perhaps, emerging wisdom.

In recent weeks we have seen:

1. The terrorist scourge of ISIS, as many predicted, continuing to expand its power and destructive mission while the U.S. resists actively engaging it.

2. Through the prism of the British elections, the realization that our traditional ally and the nation closest to the U.S. in values, culture and commitment to democratic ideals, has surrendered its role as a world power, with its armed forces soon to be at a diminished level last reached in the 18th Century.

3. The growing national distrust and rejection of local police forces.

4. A resurgence of the debate over the Iraq war, with its related issue of the Obama administration’s premature and disastrous withdrawal of troops from that theater,

5. Reports that the United States is no longer regarded abroad as reliable as an ally and

6. The first credible evidence of an ISIS-related attack in the U.S.

And it’s Memorial Day, which is set aside to honor the Americans who died in foreign wars, and who did so under the impression that they were protecting and strengthening our nation’s values and ideals. Obviously, a large segment of the population, and virtually an entire political party, no longer shares those ideals, nor do they honor the sacrifice this holiday was created to recognize and validate. Hence this, from the Democratic Party’s twitter feed…

The Democrats ‏@TheDemocrats May 23 Memorial Day Weekend SALE. Save 15% when you enter MEMORIALDAY15 at The Democrats ✔ @TheDemocrats Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

The Democrats ‏@TheDemocrats May 23
Memorial Day Weekend SALE. Save 15% when you enter MEMORIALDAY15 at The Democrats

@TheDemocrats
Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

What’s going on here?

The ethics issues are policing, values, responsibility, and, yes, American exceptionalism.

It has become a cliché to say that the U.S. can’t be the world’s policeman, and the Obama foreign policy is entirely based on that assertion….except that the assertion is now that we won’t be the world’s policeman, so we will make certain that we can’t. In that assertion by Obama, which I would term essentially un-American as well as unwise and unethical, is a rejection of the national ideals that formed the basis for the U.S.’s participation in World War II, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, and the Cold War, among others. The problem with the assertion is that it ignores salient and irrefutable facts:

  • The world needs a policeman, and is a chaotic and dangerous place without it.
  • In the absence of a policeman, the brutal, Machiavellian, and genocidal and despotic run amuck.
  • The United Nations, created with the world’s consensus that a police force was necessary, is now structured to prevent it from filling that role.
  • Somebody needs to fill that role, and the role must be filled by a nation that is obligated by its values not to seek to abuse its power to impose its will on others for its own enrichment and benefit.
  • The United States, as the only nation formed with the mission of recognizing and upholding basic human rights, remains the only nation qualified to fill that role.

In short, it’s a lousy, dirty, thankless job, but someone has to do it, and there is nobody else that the world, or we, can or should trust to do it  Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Rights, U.S. Society, War and the Military

The Brelo Acquittal: Once Again, No Just Cause For Protest

Brelo car

Nobody should doubt that there are too many instances of excessive police force, that racism must playsa factor in many of these episodes, and that prosecutors and juries give police special, and perhaps excessively generous,  consideration when cases of alleged abuse come to trial. The sheer numbers compel that concludion. However, the now routine presumption on the part of civil rights activists, much of the news media and Obama racially-biased Justice Department that every instance where an unarmed African American is killed by a police officer warrants indictment and conviction is as pernicious as racism itself, and threatens the rule of law as well as any semblance of peaceful race relations.

Every incident is not like the Walter Scott shooting in South Carolina, where the police officer’s actions were unequivocally homicidal, but the news media seems to blur the lines as much as it can. In the current controversy out of Cleveland, police officer Michael Brelo’s acquittal of murder charges was announced with headlines resembling  Slate’s “Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted for Firing 15 Shots That Killed Unarmed Black Couple,” which makes it sound as if Brelo personally executed the Huxtables while they were taking a Sunday drive. “Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted for Firing 15 Shots out of 137 That Killed Two Mentally-Ill, Homeless Addicts Under The Influence of Drugs Who Fled A Lawful Police Stop And Were Credibly Believed to Have Discharged A Firearm” would have been lengthy, but also would have been fair rather than deceitful.

The acquittal came because there was no way to determine for certain that Brelo’s shots were the ones that killed the couple.  Nor were the Cleveland officers’ presumption that deadly force was necessary unreasonable. Police had been informed that shots had been fired from the car (they turned out to be backfires from the auto), and the driver  had certainly exhibited reckless conduct. Was it necessary for Brelo to jump up on the hood of the car after multiple shots had been fired into it by other officers (the chase involved over 60 police cars)?  Were more shots fired by all concerned than necessary? Maybe and almost certainly, but neither of those facts add up to guilt for the officer, or justification for another “Hand up, Don’t shoot!” protest. Officers didn’t know the occupants of the fleeing car were unarmed, and had reason to think they were armed. They didn’t know they were a “couple,” or African American, or mentally ill.

Never mind; African American protesters are demonstrating, protesting and getting arrested in Cleveland anyway. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, U.S. Society