Prosecutorial Ethics: Not Charging The Police In The Eric Garner Case Is The Right Ethical Decision…

…and trying any of the officers involved would be unethical.

Naturally, Eric Garner’s family immediately is attacking  the decision of the Justice Department today not to bring federal charges against  the New York police officers whose ugly and violent arrest of Eric Garner in 2014 led to his death. This incident came in the midst of several high-profile police shootings following the triggering Trayvon Martin killing, and led directly to the emergence of Black Lives Matters as well as launching one of several catch phrases connected with the movement, “I can’t breath.”

The Department of Justice took a long time reviewing the incident and the evidence, and could not determine that Officer Daniel Pantaleo willfully committed misconduct, an “essential element necessary to bring federal charges,” a senior department official told reporters at a briefing today. Considering all the elements of the  crime required to be proven under the law, the DOJ official said, the conclusion was that  the police conduct did not “fit within the statute.”

In deciding not to bring charges, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr sided with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn. The  Justice’s Civil Rights Division had favored bringing charges.

The main problem facing the Justice Department and the New York prosecutors was that a conviction would be unlikely, making a prosecution more of a show trial than a real one, much like the George Zimmerman trial for allegedly murdering Martin. That trial was brought unethically to slake activist thirst for vengeance against Martin’s shooter, despite the glaring  evidence indicating self-defense. Prosecutors may not use the process itself to punish citizens. If a trial can’t be won, or if the justification for charges are dubious, then it is professional misconduct to bring them.

Were police negligent and reckless in using such aggressive measures to bring down a suspect who was resisting arrest? Absolutely, and this was addressed, as it should have been, in a civil trial. (Garner’s family was awarded 4 million dollars from the city.) Did the cops intend to kill Garner? It takes real anti-police bias to conclude that. The video shows a huge, morbidly obese man resisting arrest by a group of much smaller officers, who pretty evidently over-reacted. Although the ME attributed Garner’s death to “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” the defense in a criminal trial will have no trouble finding persuasive expert testimony to the effect that what ultimately killed Eric Garner was his weight and poor health. Continue reading

Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 7/16/2019: Funny But Wrong, Important But Incompetent, Too Hungry But Still Employed, And Right But Irrelevant

Yum!

It’s ethical dilemma time for a Red Sox fan. I have an opportunity to get two excellent seats for Sunday’s game in Baltimore. It will be about 99 degrees, and the seats are without any protection from old Sol. Loyalty and dedication demand that I go and support the Sox, whom I have not watched in person for two years. Survival and common sense—non-ethical considerations—argue that this would be nuts.

As Jack Benny said when a robber stuck a gun in his ribs and said, “Your money or your life!,” 

1. Funny! Revealing! But still wrong. Campus Reform utilizes a James O’Keefe- inspired wag named  Cabot Phillips whose signature stunt is to get college students to reveal their ignorance and unthinking social justice warrior ways. He typically does this by lying to them, as when he gives them quotes from Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and tells them that the speaker was Donald Trump. Outrage and hilarity ensues.

This time, he traveled to the University of Miami and presented students with a fake petition demanding that the college remove its famed mascot and team name, “Hurricanes,” because the name might be  offensive and hurtful to students who’ve been “negatively impacted by hurricanes throughout their lives.” Sure enough, many of the students he spoke with agreed withe the premise. Phillips then posted the video of the students making fools of themselves.

Human beings are wired to trust other human beings, and these stunts take advantage of that. Trust is essential to a healthy and cohesive society, and any exploitation of trust, be it for political purposes, financial gain or amusement, damages society.

It’s not worth it. In this case, the same point could be made by asking, “Would you a support an effort to ban the “Hurricanes” nickname as being potentially hurtful to the victims of tropical storms?”

2. “Spinquark” A helpful reader sent me a link to this website, which purports to expose “big tech companies that don’t respect your privacy..that aren’t transparent and consistent in their algorithms and policies or who use their platforms as a type of privatized online government, a government without recourse or representation.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/10/2019: The All-Star Game, The National Anthem, Quotas, And Secretary Acosta

Good morning!

1. All-Star Game ethics reflections (with a dash of women’s soccer):

  • Competence. Can someone tell me how many different keys MAX wandered into while trying to sing the National Anthem at the MLB All-Star game last night? He was flat, he was sharp, he fluctuated mid-phrase.  My rule is that I don’t care to hear a singer’s self-indulgent riffs at the end of the anthem if he couldn’t sing the real notes accurately earlier. That was awful. I know: it’s a tough song to sing on pitch without accompaniment, but these people are supposed to be professionals, and that was an amateurish, sloppy job.Incredibly, MAX has performed the Star-Spangles Banner at other sporting events.

Somebody tell him.

A saving grace: at least he remembered all the words (more or less) and didn’t kneel.

  • [ Speaking of kneeling: Women’s soccer team captain Megan Rapinoe “explained” her disrespecting the National Anthem (in defiance of her own team’s rules) while representing the nation abroad, telling Anderson Cooper last night (of course Anderson had neither the wit nor integrity to challenge her nonsense,

“I think that protest is not comfortable ever. It’s going to force people to look inward and question everything they thought that they knew….taking care of others, standing up for yourself and other people if they don’t have the ability to do so, is very uniquely American…I don’t think anybody can deny the horrors of racism and Jim Crow and mass incarceration and what’s happening on the southern border and gay rights and women’s rights.”

This is a sub-breed of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, the increasingly common species called the Self-Righteous Virtue-Signaling Authentic Frontier Gibberish, or “Kaepernick-speak,” SRVSAFG for short.. If an athlete hates the country because of its past mistakes more than he or she is proud of the country because of what it stands for, aspires to, and has accomplished, then it is hypocritical to play for a national team. “What’s happening” on the Southern border is an under-funded law enforcement and security agency doing the best it can to handle a flood of deliberate law-breakers who have chosen to endanger their own children. “What’s happening” in gay rights is that they are stronger now than they were during the first term of the previous administration. “What’s happening” in women’s rights is a healthy national debate over whether those rights should include an upon-ended right to end the life of  another human being—none of which has anything to do with soccer.

But I digress–we were talking about an American sport, baseball…

  • Integrity. Fox’s baseball broadcasting is marginally better than ESPN’s but only because Fox doesn’t include a sociopathic steroid cheat like Alex Rodriguez on its broadcast team. However, the devise of having live interviews with the players on the field during the game is offensive and insulting. MLB is foolish to allow it.

2.  Oh for God’s sake...In her review of “Dog Man: The Musical,” New York Times reviewer Laurie Graeber writes, “[M]y only quibble is the same one I have with the novel: All the really interesting characters are male.” Okay, it’s only a quibble, but it’s an offensive and biased quibble, and since her editor–if the Times still uses editors; I see no sign of them of late—didn’t have the sense to slap her down, it’s up to the rest of us. What does she want, EEOC quotas in every story now? Yes, that’s exactly what she wants, and the idea is creatively stultifying. This quibble leads to other similar quibbles, and the next thing you know, a production of “Twelve Angry Men” or “That Championship Season” or “The Fantastiks” will be labelled racist, sexist, homophobic or “ablist” because it does’t perfectly balance its casting with an equal number of men, women, blacks, Asians, Hispanic, gay, transgender, non-binary, “differently-abled” characters. If there aren’t enough characters to get them all in, then eliminate the white males.

Graeber’s “quibble” is based on tribalism and bigotry, and she should not be allowed to get away with it without a fight.

3. Apparently Labor Secretary Acosta is resigning today. GOOD. Ethics Alarms covered the reasons this is necessary and now long-past due in a November 2018 post about the revelations involving Jeffrey Epstein’s unconscionable plea deal. I wrote then..

I do not see how Acosta can remain as Secretary of Labor following these revelations, incomplete as they are. I don’t see how we can trust his judgment, and even if, somehow, he could justify the deal with Epstein on legal, technical or pragmatic grounds, I doubt that the general public would be reassured. He should resign.

Yet it took eight more months and a new set of charges against Epstein for President Trump, or Acosta to accept the obvious and to do the right thing. There’s no excuse for this.

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/7/2019: BAM! POW! BOOM!

Welcome.

1.BAM! Billionaire sex-predator Jeffrey Epstein was arrested again, but that’s just the tip of the proverbial ethics iceberg:

  • This was the feds doing the arresting, which is confusing, since one of the controversies involving Epstein is a federal non-prosecution agreement that was part of his plea deal, negotiated by a team of super-lawyers including Alan Dershowitz.

This means that the victims in the new prosecution must be different victims from the ones in the case that send Epstein to prison for a paltry 13 months.

  • If so, I’m shocked–shocked!–that a mega-sex trafficker and sexual predator like Epstein hasn’t learned the error of his ways!

Actually, it would be shocking if a billionaire sex predator who got just a slap on the wrist for paying procurers to search the world for underage girls to be ravaged by Epstein and others at Epstein’s private plane, his Palm Beach mansion, and other locales didn’t keep engaging in his extra-curricular passion.

  • Federal prosecutors recently filed court papers in Florida case contending Epstein’s no prosecution deal must stand, with the filing stating,  “The past cannot be undone; the government committed itself to the NPA, and the parties have not disputed that Epstein complied with its provisions.”

    Now the The victims in the Florida case have until Monday to respond to the Justice Department’s filing.

  • The news media and social media resistance squads are hustling to connect Epstein to President Trump. Are they friends? Were they friends?  Most of the nation’s billionaires know each other: Trump has confirmed that he knows Epstein. Nothing has connected Trump to Epstein’s sex parties, however.

The same cannot be said of Bill Clinton.

  • The Trump connection is Labor Secretary Alexander Accosta. He was the Miami prosecutor who cut the outrageous deal with Epstein. I wrote in detail about the scandal here. Knowing all of this, President Trump still appointed Accosta as his Labor Secretary—you know, “the best people”—and the Senate confirmed him, even though this was a guaranteed ticking time-bomb.

It looks like it may finally blow.  Stay tuned.

2. POW! Res Ipsa Loquitur? Here is the Antifa’s press guidance distributed in advance of its planned disruption of a conservative protest against what the New York Times calls “perceived censorship of conservatives on social media.”

Hmmm. Continue reading

Ethics Hero Or Ethics Dunce? The Rogue Valedictorian

I couldn’t find an appropriate graphic for this story, so I decided to post this, my favorite photo of anything, ever.

[My mind is made up about this one, but because my brain is fried after my just completed Rhode trip, I’m willing to be dissuaded.]

Nataly Nolastnamebecauseapparentlyshesoldenoughtobeapublicjerk-Buttooyoungtoaccepttheconsequencesofheractions (I wonder what nationality that is?) was the valedictorian  at the San Ysidro High School  graduation ceremonies. All was going well with the young woman’s speech, which, according to the communications director for the Sweet Union High School District, had been duly approved by the San Ysidro school administration, when her oratory suddenly took a dark and unexpected turn.  After expressing gratitude to her friends, family and some teachers at the school, she began using her moment on stage to throw metaphorical bombs and settle scores.

“To my counselor, thank you for letting me fend for myself,” she said. “You were always unavailable to my parents and I, despite appointments….You expressed to me your joy in having one of your students be valedictorian when you had absolutely no role in my achievements.”

Ms. Nolastnamebecauseapparentlyshesoldenoughtobeapublicjerk-Buttooyoungtoaccepttheconsequencesofheractions moved on to attacking the administration staff, for “teaching me how to be resourceful” because, she claimed,  they failed to inform her of scholarships in a timely manner. Then she really got down to it, telling the audience about a San Ysidro teacher who , she said,“regularly” came to class up drunk.  Natalie thanked the teacher sarcastically for warning students about “the dangers of alcoholism.”

With a final coda—- “I hope that future students and staff learn from these examples”—she left the stage to the cheers of her fellow students.

Here is the Ethics Hero argument, which I expect some, especially some  current high school students, to make: Continue reading

Another Mass Shooting, More Reminders Of Why The Anti-Gun Left Cannot Be Trusted

When there was a mass- shooting in Virginia Beach last week, I wondered if this time the determined gun-grabbers would pretty much leave it alone. After all, it was carried out with hand-guns, legally purchased. The perpetrator had no criminal record or psychiatric issues. None of the so-called “sensible gun regulations” that we are lectured about constantly would have stopped him.

My curiosity was quickly slaked when the sad, openly partisan shell of Dan Rather, who was once respected when he was able to pretend that he was an ethical, objective  journalist before the mask dropped, appeared  on “CNN Tonight,”  to accuse Second Amendment-respecting members of Congress who do not rush to disarm law-abiding Americans in the wake of every shooting as “bought and paid for by the gun lobby.” This, of course, is the present disgraceful ideological certitude of the Left: no one of good faith and virtuous objectives can possibly disagree with progressive cant, so dissenters must be evil or corrupt. But, to take an example I am extremely familiar with, if the trial lawyers spend millions to support mostly Democratic legislators who refuse to accept “sensible” reforms to the current civil justice system that makes plaintiffs’ attorneys millionaires, the representatives who vote their way have just been persuaded by the innate rightness of their arguments. The same is true of Democratic support of illegal immigration, abortion, climate change policies, legalizing pot, and on and on—but according to Rather, only gun supporting Congress members are “bought and paid for.”

Boy, do I feel like a chump! Here I am, thinking I was a non-gun owning ethicist who has studied our history, the law, the court cases and the statistics, and thought about the issue a great deal over many years.  I’ve concluded, without anyone paying me a cent, that the Second Amendment is the bulwark of the Bill of Rights, and one of an essential and indispensable defense against the desires of power-seeking politicians to reduce individual liberty in the U.S. to advance an agenda of suffocating government control. What’s the matter with me?

Then came another of the Democratic Presidential candidates, this time the slippery Cory Booker, who also addressed my internal curiosity. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Boy, The GOP Really, Really Likes Census Scams!”

In this Comment of the Day, Chris Marschner expresses more sympathy for the frauds, scammers and bait-and-switch artists of the world, and less sympathy for the scammed, than I have. He is right, I think, that by the time someone fooled by fundraising letters masquerading as something else actually send in a donation they have figured things out. It doesn’t matter. The scam is fooling people into opening the letter.  And donors are indeed fools to willingly give money to any organization or entity that show such disrespect by using deceptive tactics.

Chris writes that people should read envelopes and mailers carefully. Sure they should, but reality is that they don’t. They also don’t read the small print in contracts, or users agreements on smart phones and social media sites. Human beings are wired to be trusting, not to assume that everyone is trying to pull something over on them. That’s a good thing. Society is based on trust. And little by little, in almost imperceptible ways, manipulative, unethical people and organizations erode that trust.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Boy, The GOP Really, Really Likes Census Scams!”:

I understand why people see this as sleazy but to say people sent money in because they were duped is unsupported. All one has to do is read the questions and see it it is pro- fill in the party. You can (should – provided you were not born yesterday) assume there will be an appeal for a donation.

Let me be very clear. Congress passed a law with a hole in it a 777 could fly through. I thought the lawyers that write the text of these laws are trained in writing. All that law needed to say is that the word census cannot be visible to tbe recipient prior to opening. Or, if you don’t want any misunderstanding simply say the word census may not be used anywhere in the mailing.

I get these types of fundraising letters from a variety of groups; police, firefighers, veterans etc. All appeal to some authority to compel action. Continue reading