- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau cracks down on “rent-a-D.A.” scheme in which private debt collector acquired right to use prosecutor’s letterhead [Jeff Gelles, Philadelphia Inquirer, earlier here and here]
- What Santa Ana, Calif. cops did “after destroying –- or so they thought –- all the surveillance cameras inside the cannabis shop.” [Orange County Weekly via Radley Balko]
- Maryland reforms mandatory minimums [Scott Shackford/Reason, Sen. Michael Hough/Washington Times]
- Locking up past sex offenders for pre-crime: “Civil Commitment and Civil Liberties” [Cato Unbound with Galen Baughman, David Prescott, Eric Janus, Amanda Pustilnik; Jason Kuznicki, ed.]
- Two strikes and you’re out, Sen. Warren? Or is there some alternative to DPAs/NPAs (deferred prosecution agreements/non-prosecution agreements?) [Scott Greenfield, Simple Justice]
- Covert cellphone tracking: “Baltimore Police Admit Thousands of Stingray Uses” [Adam Bates, Cato, related on Erie County/Buffalo]
- “Citizens face consequences for breaking the law, but those with the power to administer those laws rarely face any.” [Ken White, Popehat] “61% of IRS Employees Who Cheated On Their Taxes Were Allowed To Keep Their Jobs” [Paul Caron, TaxProf]
- “To the public, a car’s status is binary: it is either broken or working, flawed or functional.” But to an engineer… [Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker; our coverage of autos and sudden acceleration]
- Canadian court awards special costs, akin to sanctions, for bad litigant conduct in “Real Housewives of Vancouver” divorce case [CBC]
- As IRS scandals grind on, lawyers defending agency meet with less than favorable reception before D.C. Circuit panel [Scott Johnson, Power Line, our earlier takes here, here, etc.]
- Gov. Larry Hogan signs Tesla bill, okay. But Maryland auto buyers should be demanding more freedom than that [my Free State Notes, related Peter Van Doren, Cato and Nick Zaiac, Maryland Public Policy Institute]
- Why one victim of Washington, D.C.’s peeping-Tom rabbi isn’t suing [Bethany S. Mandel]
- After Illinois Supreme Court rules that state constitution forbids lawmakers ever to cut public pensions for any reason, Moody’s slashes Chicago bond rating to junk status [Daniel Fisher; David Skeel, On Labor]
- Panel on Capitol Hill tomorrow (Fri., 5/22) on lessons of Baltimore with Cato’s Tim Lynch, Matthew Feeney, Michael Tanner, moderated by Peter Russo [register or watch online] Richard Epstein on Baltimore with a critique of both 1) police unions and 2) Ta-Nehisi Coates’s apologia for violence [Hoover “Defining Ideas”]
Caleb Brown interviewed me for the Cato Daily Podcast on the rise of union-backed legislation in more than 15 states throwing up procedural barriers to investigating or firing police officers charged with misconduct. Maryland was the first state to pass such a law, back in the 1970s, and it has now been debating proposals to trim it back, which have intensified in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray story in Baltimore. Earlier on LEOBR/LEOBoR laws here and, generally, here, and be sure to check out Ken White’s annihilating post on the concept at Popehat, with comment discussion.
P.S. Perhaps not unrelated: charged officer “had been accused of theft four previous times” but was still on the Baltimore force [AP after surveillance cameras in federal sting operation allegedly showed officer pocketing thousands of dollars in a hotel room]
What went wrong with police-community relations in Baltimore, and are there any hopes for improvement? I liked David Simon’s interview on this subject so well that I edited it down into a sort of highlights reel in a Cato at Liberty post.
P.S.: Flashback to this December post: “At least twelve Baltimore cops sought workers’ comp for stress after using deadly force on citizens [Luke Broadwater, Baltimore Sun/Carroll County Times] And I was a guest on the national Leslie Marshall show Monday, guest-hosted by Newsweek opinion editor Nicholas Wapshott, on the topic of Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights.
As surmised earlier, Maryland knife law has emerged as an issue in the Freddie Gray story; Gray’s death in police custody has now resulted in the filing of charges against six police officers, the most serious charge, “depraved heart murder,” being leveled against the driver of the police van from which Gray, unbelted, emerged with fatal injuries. [Washington Post] More links on “rough rides” here, here, and here. “The Baltimore police union defended the officers involved…. ‘none….are responsible'” [Baltimore Sun, The Hill, Ed Krayewski/Reason] Some obstacles for the prosecution [Associated Press]
Update, Colin Campbell, Baltimore Sun:
The separate investigations by police and prosecutors have some conflicting findings.
While Mosby said Friday that the officers had made an illegal arrest because a knife Gray was carrying was not a “switchblade,” a violation of state law, the police task force studied the knife and determined it was “spring-assisted,” which does violate a Baltimore code.
More from Twitchy link roundup (investigators have not yet released picture of knife or other information that could help identify model and resolve dispute), Andrew Branca (Baltimore code bans “spring-assisted” weapons not banned under Maryland law; also, reasonable mistake of law on illegality of weapon might still support probable cause finding).
From Twitter, some further thoughts on the Baltimore riots and their implications:
Why – paradoxically – the poor need property rights even more than the rich. http://t.co/iTsoz2Atip
— Jason Kuznicki (@JasonKuznicki) April 30, 2015
In response, Twitter user @hamilt0n cites this NBER paper by William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo on the (very harmful) labor market effects of the 1960s riots, adds: “Riots=more spending, higher taxation, rich are mobile and flee, poor get stuck with the bill”
Sweetness and light in a New York Times “Crips and Bloods gangs come together to save Baltimore” story:
— Matt Bors (@MattBors) April 28, 2015
More from Liz Mair on how the rights just go to show what you already believed; Cathy Young (arguing, inter alia, that any system is going to accord police suspected of wrongdoing some advantages over other citizens in those circumstances and we might just as well accept this). Meanwhile, the seven-day 10 p.m. curfew threatens the livelihoods of thousands of Baltimoreans and small businesses [New York Times, Baltimore Sun]
Following the outbreak of serious riots on the streets of Baltimore, I wrote a post yesterday at Cato:
…More than twenty years ago in the Cato Journal, distinguished law and economics scholars David Haddock and Daniel Polsby published a paper entitled “Understanding Riots” that’s still highly relevant in making sense of events like these. Employing familiar economic concepts such as opportunity cost, coordination problems, and free-rider issues, Haddock and Polsby help explain why riots cluster around sports wins as well as assassinations, funerals, and jury verdicts; the group psychology of rioting, and why most crowds never turn riotous; the important role of focal points (often lightly policed commercial areas) and rock-throwing “entrepreneurs” of disorder; the tenuous relationship between riots and root causes or contemporary grievances; and why when a riot occurs the police (at least those in places like the United States and United Kingdom) seldom manage to be in enough places at once, more or less by definition.
P.S.: This is neat: Jack Shafer at Politico takes and runs with some of the paper’s analysis about prevention strategies and the spread of information about riot locations. And Jesse Walker looks further at the role of “outside agitators.”
Related, and outrageous: Morgan State University (Baltimore) journalism school dean wants to classify religiously irreverent speech as “fighting words,” which would throw into doubt its legal protection [DeWayne Wickham, USA Today] More: Allahpundit, Taranto/WSJ, The College Fix; edited to reflect Wickham’s (non)-clarification of his stance in the last-named link).
P.S. Via @benjaminlam: “Today’s Straits Times [Singapore] carried Feldman’s article.”
- At least twelve Baltimore cops sought workers’ comp for stress after using deadly force on citizens [Luke Broadwater, Baltimore Sun/Carroll County Times]
- “D.C. Council votes to overhaul asset forfeiture, give property owners new rights” [Washington Post]
- A different view on Ferguson: Richard Epstein defends grand jury outcome [Hoover]
- “The House GOP leadership is blocking a police militarization reform bill from even getting a vote.” [Zach Carter, HuffPo, via @radleybalko]
- Will potential cost of citizen public records requests sink police body-camera schemes? [Seattle Times, ABA Journal]
- Marissa Alexander case, cited by critics of mandatory minimum sentencing, ends in plea deal [Brian Doherty, earlier, CBS Sunday Morning on mandatory minimum sentencing]
- Forensics guy hired by Michael Brown’s family: “If they want to think I’m a physician, then more power to them.” [Radley Balko]
- St. Louis County fines/fees: “Municipal courts charge $100 for Christmas gift of fake amnesty” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial]
- Civil libertarians won victories last term in restraining open-ended use of police surveillance, search and seizure: access to emails and social media postings older than six months will now require warrant, as will location tracking; new restrictions also placed on use of automatic license plate reading system data [ACLU 2014 policy report]
- Bill that would have banned weapons on private school grounds, whether or not the school itself had objection, failed to make it out of committee [SB 353, earlier here, here]
- Judge overturns state union’s takeover of Wicomico County teacher’s association [Mike Antonucci, more]
- Vague definitions of “trafficking” + asset forfeiture: what could go wrong with Del. Kathleen Dumais’s plan? [Reason, WYPR “Maryland Morning”, more (legislative agenda of “trafficking task force”)]
- In his spare time, Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry Ronald DeJuliis apparently likes to engage in urban beautification of the sign removal variety [Baltimore Sun, Quinton Report, Daily Record (governor’s office considers criminal charges against appointee “personal” and relating to “after hours”)]
- Behind the controversy over Rockville firearms dealer’s plan to offer “smart gun” [David Kopel]
- Baltimore tightens curfew laws, ’cause criminalizing kids’ being outside is for their own good [Jesse Walker, followup]
- In Montgomery County, police-union demands for “effects bargaining” were a bridge too far even for many deep-dyed liberals, but union hasn’t given up yet [Seventh State]