even better than lawyer punch

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 27, 2009

This past summer when I worked at the Atlanta Public Defender, we waited three days for a jury verdict on a robbery case.  Three days!  To compare, in a colleague’s murder case the jury deliberated for like four hours.

We were supposed to be preparing other things, but you just can’t work while waiting for a verdict.  It’s like Christmas morning when you’re a kid and you wake up at 5am but you wait in your room until 7 because Dad said he’d kill you if you get him up before then — except there’s a 50% chance there are no presents under the tree.  So we sat around in the PD’s courthouse office and watched movies on a laptop, taking a break every now and then to speculate on what the jury was thinking.

That’s when I discovered the lawyer punch video.  Watch it here.  A public defender is making a motion to get his client a new attorney when BAM!  Right in the kisser!

Today, I found something even better than the lawyer punch video.  Here’s someone else who is mad about not getting a new attorney.

A mistrial was declared Monday when a home-invasion robbery suspect smeared human feces on his attorney’s face then threw more at the jury.

Weusi McGowan, 37, was upset because San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser refused to remove Deputy Alternate Public Defender Jeffrey Martin from the case, prosecutor Christopher Lawson said.At the mid-morning break, McGowan produced a plastic baggie filled with fecal matter and spread it on Martin’s hair and face, then flung the excrement toward the jury box, hitting the briefcase of juror No. 9 but missing the juror himself.

I’m just waiting for the video.


NSA also has your credit card and financial data

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 26, 2009

says Ryan.

We know NSA was monitoring faxes, phone calls, and computer information without a warrant.  We know that the telecom CEOs were complicit in the scheme — that’s why Congress passed a telecom immunity bill.

Well, now add your credit card and financial data to the growing list of stuff NSA has in their databases.  This begs the question: Did credit card companies and banks give the government this information?  Russell Tice is back and it looks like the answer’s yes.


actually, the NSA was intercepting all US communications

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 25, 2009

says Ryan.

Here come the leaks!  Now that Bush has left office, Russell Tice is pretty confident that he won’t be prosecuted for revealing what he knows about the NSA communications intercept program.  So reveal he does:


ridin’ dirty

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 24, 2009

Don’t chamber a round while driving with no hands.  Turns out that’s reasonable suspicion to pull you over.  Isn’t criminal law fun?

will statements obtained contrary to the sixth amendment still come back to haunt you?

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 22, 2009

Maybe, says Ryan.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Kansas v. Ventris today, a case about a jailhouse informant and the Sixth Amendment.  Prepare for extreme legal geekery.


obama is left-handed!

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 20, 2009

How could I have missed this?  Obama joins four of the last six presidents in being left-handed — Clinton, H.W. Bush, Reagan, and Ford.

One of the many curses of being left-handed — along with scissors, sitting next to right-handed people for meals, those pesky half-desks in stadium seating that are always on the right arm — is that we must shoulder immense power and responsibility.  We truly are the chosen people.


“It is possible that left-handed politicians are more strong-willed because they’ve chosen not to conform to a right-handed world,” said Jan van Strien, an expert on biological psychology at Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Wrong.  It’s because left-handed people are a genetically advanced race of humans poised to take over the world.  Our day will soon come.  You’ll know because television and radio will fall silent, the air will crackle with the sounds of revolution, and we’ll finally get rid of all those damn scissors.

DOJ has shifted focus to immigration prosecutions over the past year

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 17, 2009

…which is causing other crimes to be underprosecuted by the DOJ, says Ryan.

From the NY Times:

Federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled in the last fiscal year, reaching more than 70,000 immigration cases in the 2008 fiscal year, according to federal data compiled by a Syracuse University research group. The emphasis, many federal judges and prosecutors say, has siphoned resources from other crimes, eroded morale among federal lawyers and overloaded the federal court system. Many of those other crimes, including gun trafficking, organized crime and the increasingly violent drug trade, are now routinely referred to state and county officials, who say they often lack the finances or authority to prosecute them effectively.

Immigration prosecutions have steeply risen over the last five years, while white-collar prosecutions have fallen by 18 percent, weapons prosecutions have dropped by 19 percent, organized crime prosecutions are down by 20 percent and public corruption prosecutions have dropped by 14 percent, according to the Syracuse group’s statistics. Drug prosecutions — the enforcement priority of the Reagan, first Bush and Clinton administrations — have declined by 20 percent since 2003.

“I have seen a national abdication by the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Terry Goddard of Arizona.

Should we be prosecuting way more immigration crimes over other types of crime?  Are our US Attorneys exercising the kind of justice-seeking prosecutorial discretion that we want?  Maybe — you’d have to look at the details of the cases, I guess.

In any event, immigration enforcement is a complicated, multi-agency effort.

head of Guantanamo military commissions uses the “t” word

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 16, 2009

says Ryan.

We know about the enhanced interrogation techniques that Bush and his top aids approved for use on military detainees.  Were they torture?  That’s been somewhat up in the air — at the very least, no Government officials have used the “t” word in conjunction with these techniques…until now.


bush and the constitution, a historical perspective

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 14, 2009

The Christian Science Monitor has a pretty good article about Bush, the Constitution, and how history might view their interaction.  It’s rare to see articles that approach Bush from a legal history perspective, so check it out here.

Many legal scholars question President Bush’s claim to unilateral power as commander in chief in the war on terror. And experts will long debate his aggressive approach to the fight against Al Qaeda – authorizing warrantless wiretaps within the US, secret kidnappings of terror suspects, coercive interrogation tactics, and military commissions with stripped-down legal protections.

But even Mr. Bush’s harshest critics must concede that on his watch the country remained free of further terrorist atrocities following the 9/11 attacks.

The deeper question is at what price?

At the heart of the debate over Bush’s legacy is a fundamental difference in outlook over what it means to remain faithful to the constitutional protections laid down by America’s founding generation.

US will hold torturers fully accountable

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on January 13, 2009

says Ryan.

Charles Emmanuel, the son of a former president of Liberia, was sentenced to 97 years in prison last week by a US District Court for committing torture in Liberia.  He was the head of a paramilitary group that tortured and killed opponents of his father during his father’s presidency.

Emmanuel is the first person to be convicted under the 1994 federal anti-torture statute that permits US federal courts to charge US citizens or those present in the US for acts of torture committed abroad.  Emmanuel is a US citizen (he was born in Boston) and was arrested while in the US.