Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

The press and the prosecutors

Did federal prosecutors manipulate Los Angeles Times reporting to help win a case? Even if editors don’t care, readers might [Ken White, Popehat]. Read the whole thing, but here’s one choice quote:

The problem illuminated here isn’t just one of possible government misconduct. It’s the too-cozy too-credulous relationship between law enforcement and the press, and the very questionable decisions the press makes about what is a story. I’ve been writing about this for some time. The press thinks that a picture of a guy being perp-walked is a story, but the willingness of the cops to stage that picture to humiliate the defendant is not a story. The press thinks that juicy evidence against a defendant is a story but law enforcement’s motive in leaking that evidence isn’t. When the people sworn to uphold the law, who are prosecuting someone for violating the law, break the law to damage a defendant, the press thinks that the leaked information is the story, not the lawbreaking by law enforcers. The press does not, as far as I can tell, assess when it is being used as a tool by law enforcement. How could it, if it wants to preserve its source of tasty leaks?

Police roundup

  • Ex-Costa Mesa police union head testifies re: scheme to set up councilman on bogus DUI charge [Daily Pilot, our earlier coverage of the scandal]
  • Ferguson-1-year-later stories should concede that initial “hands-up” accounts of the Michael Brown shooting were wrong, no? [Greg Weiner, Law and Liberty]
  • “Cops: We ‘Expected Privacy’ Because We Tried to Smash All the Cameras” [Lowering the Bar, Conor Friedersdorf/The Atlantic on Santa Ana, Calif. police union’s effort to suppress evidence in dispensary raid case]
  • Beach patrol, serving warrants, college football display: reasons departments gave in 465 requests for mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles from the Pentagon’s 1033 program [Molly Redden, Mother Jones via Anthony Fisher, Reason]
  • “Prosecutors’ union inadvertently demonstrates why local prosecutors shouldn’t investigate police shootings” [Radley Balko]
  • Past time for a public airing of what went on in the Chicago facility known as Homan Square [Spencer Ackerman and Zach Stafford, The Guardian]
  • Which human decision-making process claims a mere 0.25% error rate? Shootings by Chicago police [Coyote, Radley Balko on investigator in that city fired for resisting pressure to exonerate cops]

August 12 roundup

  • “‘Game Of Thrones’ Fan Demands Trial By Combat” [Lowering the Bar]
  • One way to lose your city job in NYC: “An administrative-law judge then agreed to his firing, noting [the deceased] didn’t show up at his hearing.” [New York Post]
  • International Trade Commission asked to curb improper “imports,” i.e. transmissions, of data into the US, and yes, that could create quite a precedent [WSJ, R Street Institute, Niskanen Center, FreedomWorks letter] More: K. William Watson, Cato;
  • Sixth Circuit panel explains in cement case why some towns (e.g. St. Marys) have no apostrophes, others do [St. Marys Cement v. EPA opinion via Institute for Justice “Short Circuit“]
  • Proposed ban on export of some fine art from Germany stirs discontent [New York Times via Tyler Cowen]
  • With its SEO budget already committed to “Oliver Wendell Holmes = doofus” keywords and the like, Volokh Conspiracy must rely on organic content to boost Brazilian apartment seeker clicks [David Kopel]
  • But federal law forbids paying them, so the city won’t do that: “2 immigrants in U.S. illegally are named to Huntington Park commissions” [L.A. Times]

Wage and hour roundup

Children and schools roundup

  • L.A.: “school police estimated they would need 80 new officers to protect students walking home from school with iPads.” [Annie Gilbertson/KPCC]
  • “Md. officials: Letting ‘free range’ kids walk or play alone is not neglect” [Donna St. George/Washington Post, earlier]
  • Foes of education vouchers turn to argument that private schools not obliged to accommodate disabled kids, but it’s complicated [Rick Esenberg]
  • U.K.: “Children banned from doing handstands and cartwheels at Plymouth primary school” [Plymouth Herald]
  • Florida officials remove kids from home after 11 year old found playing alone in yard [Lenore Skenazy posts one, two, three, plus a Chicago case (“Family Defense Center”) and overview]
  • In left-meets-right campaign to beat up on “deadbeat dads,” right seems more gung-ho at the moment [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, my earlier Cato]
  • North Carolina high schoolers’ alarm-clocks-go-off-in-lockers prank annoyed school administrators. Felony-level annoyance? [Uproxx]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • 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]

Orange County lowers the boom on Axe

“Recently, the consumer protection unit of the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office filed suit against Unilever, parent company of AXE, accusing the company of fudging the packaging of its male grooming products.” The charges, which were filed concomitantly with a proposed settlement the same day, do not claim that Axe misstated the quantity of product contained by weight, but say its packaging employed “false bottoms, false sidewalls, false lids or false coverings” which “serve no legitimate purpose and mislead consumers as to the amount of product contained in the containers. …Apparently, the DA has never purchased a bag of potato chips.” It is unclear from the coverage whether Orange County consumers were constrained from ascertaining how much product was in one of the packages by, say, lifting it to see how heavy it was, or looking at the number of ounces on the label. In settlement (the same day) of the charges, the company agreed to pay $750,000 to Orange County and $24,000 to its D.A.’s office, and to take out ads in various California newspapers with $3 coupons good off a consumer purchase of Axe. [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use; Orange County Register]

The Orange County district attorney’s office under Tony Rackauckas is emerging as an Overlawyered favorite, having knocked an impressive $16 million out of Toyota in the sudden-acceleration affair even though the cars in question do not suddenly accelerate, of which $4 million went to a locally influential tort attorney; the office has also kept mum about arrangements it has with tort attorneys. And of course Rackauckas’s office has lately been embroiled in one of the nation’s most prominent scandals of prosecutorial abuse (with retaliation angle).

P.S. Oh, and here is coverage of “slack fill” class action suits organized by private lawyers against both Unilever/Axe and competitor Procter & Gamble, confirming that this wasn’t exactly a solitary frolic on the county’s part. More: Amy Alkon.

Orange County prosecutorial misconduct scandal

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas may pull out the old playbook, but it hasn’t kept the latest scandal from getting national play [OC Weekly, Dahlia Lithwick/Slate, Kevin Williamson/NRO (entire office disqualified from representation in case “following revelations that the office colluded with the Orange County sheriff’s department to systematically suppress potentially exculpatory evidence in at least three dozen cases, committing what legal scholars have characterized as perjury and obstruction of justice in the process.”]

If they choose our dues, low pay’s OK

“Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide [$15 and indexing] minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.” [Los Angeles Times] What’s more, these union “escape” clauses keep coming up in minimum wage statutes, as the U.S. Chamber has documented in a lengthy report. It’s almost as if these campaigns are run for unions’ benefit rather than that of their ostensible beneficiaries!

Related: Tim Sandefur, 2011, on a Los Angeles ordinance

that forces businesses that buy grocery stores to retain certain employees on their payroll for three months, even though they don’t want to. There’s an exception in the law for companies that have a collective bargaining agreement with a union. Thus the ordinance is little more than a tax on non-union employers — a restriction that exists for no other reason than to make it more expensive to operate a non-union grocery store.