Tag Archives: abuse of power

More Unethical—But NICE!— Police Tricks

This nice officer appears to be lobotomized, which at least gives him an excuse for his conduct...

This nice Halifax, VA. officer appears to be lobotomized, which at least gives him an excuse for his conduct…

The politically-fanned hatred and distrust for police has seemingly caused the profession to lose its bearings entirely. We have the Ferguson Effect in major cities, where police avoid proactive law enforcement for fear of getting in any confrontations with  African Americans, and now the desperate efforts of police to be loved is starting to spawn the Police As Cuddly Do-Gooders movement.

This will not end well.

Last week on a hot Friday in Virginia, Halifax police pulled drivers over to—SURPRISE!— hand out ice cream instead of tickets, and captured some of the reactions on camera. Officer Brian Warner said his officers “just wanted to spread some summer sweetness in the community.” They had patrol cars  equipped with coolers of ice cream, and they stopped about 20 motorists, handing out cones instead of tickets after the drivers were convinced they were being stopped for infractions.

Awww!

Warner, I’m afraid, is an idiot. Stopping a car to do anything unrelated to police work is an abuse of power and authority, and unethical. It doesn’t matter if it’s a well-intentioned abuse of power, or a nice abuse of power. It’s wrong, and I would make the case that it’s also illegal, no matter how nice it is.

I’m glad I wasn’t caught on camera, because my message would have been this: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

So It Has Come To This: Criminalizing Burps In Middle School

At  Cleveland Middle School in Albuquerque, a persistent class clown, age 13, kept burping in class, followed by the usual titters from his classmates.

I was in class with one of these characters in the 8th grade, and I must admit, his burp was something: loud, long, low, and seemingly inexhaustible. He was yanked out of class, he was sent to detention, his parents were called, he was suspended, and eventually, without too much conflict, he learned to cut it out. (They never caught the guy who shouted “HOG!” in a raucous voice during study hall.) Apparently this method was beyond the abilities of the  Cleveland Middle School staff to execute.

The teacher, Ms. Mines-Hornbeck, called the police, who arrested and eventually cuffed the boy. Principal Susan LaBarge and Assistant Principal Ann Holmes  not only suspended him for the rest of the school year, but allowed the criminal justice process to proceed, with the boy being processed for the charge of  violating a New Mexico statute, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-20-13(D), that reads…

No person shall willfully interfere with the educational process of any public or private school by committing, threatening to commit or inciting others to commit any act which would disrupt, impair, interfere with or obstruct the lawful mission, processes, procedures or functions of a public or private school.

That’s right: arrest and criminal prosecution for burping in class.

None of the staff at the school, apparently, had an ethics alarm go off that induced them to point out that the year long suspension was an unethically harsh punishment, and the criminal charge was tantamount to child abuse. I remember that in the fourth grade at Parmenter School in Arlington, Mass, my friend Timmy Russell was moved to leap to his feet during a math lesson and do a ten second imitation of Elvis singing “Hound Dog.” Everyone laughed, including the teacher. Then, that burst of childish energy over, she went on with the lesson, because she was a confident professional.

In New Mexico, 2016, Timmy would have broken the law. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

The Good News: At Least The Cops Didn’t Shoot Anyone In This Traffic Stop, And No One Got A Ticket For “Driving While Black”… The Bad: What They Did Was Still An Abuse Of Authority

Pop Quiz: How many idiots in this photo?

Pop Quiz: How many idiots in this photo?

Is this really what we are going to put up with now—city police departments so desperate for love (and not to have their members picked off by snipers) that they start pandering to citizens in idiotic ways? That’s not the way to earn anyone’s respect and trust. It is, however, a good way to lose it.

Three NYPD officers from the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway cops  pulled over the car being driven by Yehuda Coriat, 22, with his 20-year-old girlfriend, Sorah Oppen as a passenger. The police accused the couple of transporting weapons and drugs in the car.

Then they grilled Oppen about her boyfriend, ordered her out of the vehicle, and told her to open the trunk — and out came balloons! That was the cue for Coriat to get down on his knee and propose!

Awwww.

Yecchh.

This is wrong, wrong, wrong; an especially horrible example of the “Awww!” Factor, in which conduct that makes sentimental souls get all gooey inside is mistaken for ethical conduct. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Professions

Marilyn Mosby Secures Her Reputation As One Of The Most Shamelessly Unethical U.S. Prosecutors Of All Time

The other shoe dropped: prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against three Baltimore police officers accused in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray,  following the acquittals of three other officers  by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams. He was expected to preside over the remaining trials, and, as the Bible says, the writing was on the wall.

Make no mistake: this result was completely and entirely the result of the incompetent, unethical conduct of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who vaingloriously announced charges against the officers in the immediate wake of rioting in Baltimore, following the dictates of a mob. She did this without sufficient investigation, evidence or, despite the ethical requirements of her office, probable cause. She had the city of Baltimore agree to a large damages settlement for Gray’s family before any of the officers were tried, prejudicing their cases. She spent millions on the prosecutions, and shattered the lives of all six officers, and yet never made a case that justified any of it.

There are more unethical things that a prosecutor can do, and they certainly do them. Some prosecute individuals they know are innocent, which is a bit worse than prosecuting someone who might be guilty because a mob wants blood. Those unethical prosecutors, however, try to cover their tracks. Not Mosby: she’s proud of being unethical, because its the kind of unethical conduct that African-American activists think promotes justice. Justice is when someone pays with their life or liberty if an African American dies, regardless of law or evidence.  That’s the theory, anyway. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Why Dan Pabon’s DUI Stop Matters To Everyone, And Why He Must Resign

Pabon Apology

Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon (D. North Denver) was considered a rising political star. Among his well-publicized public policy triumphs was to  help pass a law forcing convicted drunk drivers to appear before a DUI victim-impact panel.

Then Pabon himself was pulled over in his vehicle on St. Patrick’s Day evening for driving under the influence of alcohol. Instead of Pabon accepting his fate as an honest lawyer and elected official should, the video of the stop shows the legislator trying to persuade the officer who stopped him not to make the  arrest. He tells the officer that he is a state representative who is driving a car without his legislative plates. He asks the officer to call a supervisor or the city attorney so they can direct the officer to give him mulligan. When Officer Brian Bienemann explains that he cannot let Pabon off and indeed would be subject to discipline if he did,  Pabon pleads,  “Is there any way we can avoid this possibility? This is going to change my life.”

After Pabon pleaded guilty and gave an emotional apology (above) to the public and the legislature, saying  “I have taken full responsibility. I have done everything above board,” the editors of The Denver Post begged to disagree. They called for his resignation in an edotorial. They were correct, but they weren’t clear enough about why.

The Post was upset that Pabon didn’t specifically apologize for trying to use abuse his position and power to avoid legal accountability for a serious violation of the law, even after the video of the stop was leaked to the news media. Of course he didn’t. Like most current elected officials, he didn’t see anything wrong with that. Don’t they deserve special consideration and privileges?

There can be no sufficient apology for what Pabon did. Elected officials and other government personnel must not view themselves as deserving special immunity from the laws and regulations they impose on society. Pabon’s attitude and attempt to play the “Do you know who I am?” card is poison to democracy, and exactly the kind of “fix” Donald Trump’s speech last night correctly condemned.

The public sees a Secretary of State expose sensitive information to discovery by the enemies of the United States, and not only is she not punished, she is selected to run for President. The public sees HUD Secretary Julian Castro blatantly violate the Hatch Act, combining an official appearance with campaigning for Clinton, and  then learns that the President will not discipline Castro in any way. Casrto is also considered a “rising political star.” A nation in which individuals who break the law are still considered “rising stars” and prospects for national leadership has its values in a tangle. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Make America’s Children Props And Billboards Again! Or Rather, Let’s Not…

trump rally Westfield

I hate this.

Using children as props for adults to make their own political or commercial statements is unfair, demeaning and an abuse of power. Oh, maybe putting kids in T-shirts with messages they neither understand nor have consented to convey is not as bad as this exploitation of children for publicity value, perhaps, or this exploitation of kids by their parents, a website and a shameless comedian.  And I know that politicians using his own children as their clueless and unconsenting mouthpieces has a long and shameful history, with such landmarks as President Jimmy Carter trying to use his young daughter Amy as the agent of his own position during a Presidential debate with Ronald Reagan, to Ted Cruz’s employment of his daughters in a campaign video that inspired Washington Post political cartoonist Ann Telnaes to portray the little Cruz girls as monkeys.

Nevertheless, I do hate this stuff, and I’m calling for a cultural consensus that using children as billboards, mouthpeices or props for advocacy purposes, no matter what the cause or context, is wrong. I would like to see politicians, advocates, organizations and movements that use children in this manner pay a steep price in lost contributions and support, until the message is learned that the tactic will not be tolerated. I would like to see any parents who volunteer their kids for this demeaning duty to be properly and decisively shamed.

The photo above is an easy place to start; after all, this was at a Donald Trump appearance in Westfield, Indiana,  and a substantial percentage of the public hates Trump already.

It’s not like the kids are wearing shirts spelling out “GIVE PEACE A CHANCE,” though that would be equally unethical.

_________________

Pointer: Prof. Mike McGregor

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Filed under Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising

Freddie Gray Prosecution Update: A Law Professor Formally Accuses The Unethical Prosecutor Of Being Unethical

finger-pointing

George Washington Law School Professor John F. Banzhaf III has filed an ethics  complaint against State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby with Maryland’s Attorney Grievance Commission. Banzhaf accuses Mosby in his 10-page complaint of breaching Maryland’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers, which requires that a prosecutor refrain from prosecuting a charge unless it is supported by probable cause, in her conflicted and incompetent prosecution of six police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray. The complaint also flags Mosby’s improper use of public statements to bias the administration of justice.

Good.

Of course he is right, as I have repeatedly explained here, here, here, here, and here. I assume there have been other complaints before this one, but he has made the issue a high profile one, and that’s excellent news.

Mosby has earned the Mike NiFong treatment: the unethical prosecutor in the Duke Lacrosse rape case was disbarred, briefly jailed, and sued. She is black, female, and a Democrat, and NiFong remains one of the very, very few prosecutors to be punished significantly for unethical conduct. I will be amazed if the commission does anything momentous or sufficient to discourage grandstanding prosecutors like Mosby in the future, even though such prosecutors are willing to ruin lives for political gain.

I hope I am wrong.

(But I’m not.)

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Filed under Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions