- Driver’s license suspensions, which many states use to punish unpaid court debt and other offenses unrelated to driving skill, can accelerate spiral into indigency [New York Times]
- Your war on distracted driving: woman says she received $200 ticket “for putting on lip balm at a red light.” [KLAS Las Vegas, Nev.]
- “Of Course We Have No Ticket Quotas, But ….” [Lowering the Bar; Edmundson, Mo., in St. Louis County; Mariah Stewart, Huffington Post on revenue generation in Berkeley, Mo., and other neighboring towns; Scott Greenfield (“Ferguson: Where Everyone’s a Criminal”)]
- Yet more on St. Louis County: it started with a “defective muffler” stop in Florissant [Riverfront Times]
- NYC: “Speed cameras lead to surge in tickets and $16.9M in revenue for city” [NY Daily News]
- New Los Angeles parking signs explain it all for you, also recall design of craps table [Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing]
- Virginia: “How Police Drones and License-Plate Readers Threaten Liberty” [A. Barton Hinkle; related, Jim Harper/D.C. Examiner]
- Please, someone: you can’t just donate money to the Tulsa police and get full deputy powers, can you? [Tulsa World via @RayDowns]
- Illinois bench-‘n’-bar buzz angrily at Gov. Rauner who broke rule re: not mentioning lawyers’ campaign cash to judges [Chicago Daily Law Bulletin]
- “New York’s Asbestos Court Mulls Changes After Sheldon Silver Scandal” [Daniel Fisher] “‘Judicial malpractice’ not to probe court tied to Silver: Judge” [New York Post]
- Let’s all panic about arsenic in wine, or maybe let’s all not [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use (“The highest arsenic levels cited in the lawsuit are less than half of the limits set by other countries such as Canada”), and more on class action lawsuit]
- “Tennessee Sacrifices Property Rights On The Altar Of ‘Gun Rights'” [Doug Mataconis, Outside the Beltway; earlier here, here, and here]
- Odd that while we make wedding cake bakers and florists common carriers, the old “cab-rank” (any paying client) rule for lawyers has come to seem almost unthinkable [Adam Liptak, NYT on big law firms’ avoidance of representing clients on the unpopular side of major gay rights cases] Similarly: Paul Karl Lukacs, L.A. Daily Journal. Related: “maelstrom of criticism” directed at Harvard lawprof Laurence Tribe over his Supreme Court representation of coal company against EPA [Orin Kerr]
- Just for fun: the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, in license plates [my post at Cato at Liberty]
“In South Carolina, at least one in eight people in jail are there on contempt-of-court charges related to late or unpaid child-support orders.” [Marshall Project; Christopher Mathias/Huffington Post] For decades elected officials of right and left alike have backed punitive handling of “deadbeat dads,” with results that include repeated jail terms levied over arrears unlikely ever to be paid, as well as the denial of drivers’ licenses and other basics of participation in the aboveground economy. Earlier on child support issues.
Some writings from my Cato Institute colleagues on the Walter Scott case: Tim Lynch, Jonathan Blanks, Matthew Feeney. And a New York Times “Room for Debate” roundtable on police use of deadly force featuring Walter Katz, Prof. Seth Stoughton and others.
- Arkansas passes first-in-nation law to protect photographers’ rights, including right to film public employees/officials [Dan Greenberg, The Arkansas Project] “Colorado, Texas and California Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Protect Rights of Citizens to Record Cops” [Carlos Miller, Photography Is Not A Crime] On the other hand: “Texas Bill Would Make It Illegal For You To Film A Cop Beating You” [Lowering the Bar, more (“if you tell me I can’t film you in public, no matter what, filming you in public is going to move way up my priority list”)]
- “‘Deactivated’ Facebook Account Is Discoverable In Litigation” [Eric Goldman]
- Public records request for Oakland dataset makes good introduction to privacy issues in automatic license plate recognition [Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica] “Los Angeles Cops Argue All Cars in LA Are Under Investigation” [Jennifer Lynch, EFF]
- “Texas says it will stop collecting fingerprints of driver’s license applicants” [Dave Lieber, Dallas Morning News, earlier]
- “An elite that has lost the impulse to police itself” [Conor Friedersdorf; a contrary view, Stewart Baker podcast with Rebecca Richards, NSA director of privacy and civil liberties]
- “Stingrays and Police Secrecy” [Adam Bates, earlier]
- Taxopticon: “Newport News to begin scanning license plates to find delinquent taxpayers” [Theresa Clift, Daily Press (Virginia) via Amy Alkon]
“A jury has awarded a total of $4 million to two Los Angeles police officers who sued the department alleging discrimination and retaliation after the shooting of an unarmed autistic man five years ago….They alleged that as Latinos their restrictions [to desk duty] were discrimination after the shooting of Steven Eugene Washington, who was black. Chief Charlie Beck denied that race was involved in the restrictions, saying the men were on desk duty because of the department’s potential liability.” [Southern California Public Radio]
…and steps into his own personal film noir [Scott Greenfield]
Courageous “I was wrong” column by Jonathan Capehart in the Washington Post on having prejudged the Brown-Wilson confrontation in Ferguson, Mo.:
But this month, the Justice Department released two must-read investigations connected to the killing of Brown that filled in blanks, corrected the record and brought sunlight to dark places by revealing ugly practices that institutionalized racism and hardship. They have also forced me to deal with two uncomfortable truths: Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown. …
…it is imperative that we continue marching for and giving voice to those killed in racially charged incidents at the hands of police and others. But we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong. And when we discover that we have, we must acknowledge it, admit our error and keep on marching. That’s what I’ve done here.
Meanwhile, in recent days, writers at National Review and Red State have taken a look at DoJ’s Ferguson report (our earlier post on it) and say conservatives should be in the forefront of criticizing and calling for reform of the police and municipal-court abuses it exposes. [summarized by Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic; see also Charles Cooke, National Review, on race and conservatives]
Left and right admitting that the other side had a point on some aspects of Ferguson? It seems as unlikely yet welcome as the sun coming out to shine after this past Northeastern winter.
- Noting statistical disparities, DoJ blames evils of Ferguson, Mo. policing on racism, conservatives push back [Dara Lind/Vox, Peter Kirsanow, IBD] Many of same trends in policing and incarceration found in cities where voters, elected officials and police forces are black-majority [Reihan Salam]
- “Resisting arrest” when there are no other charges against you: an odd crime may soon get odder if New York lawmakers yield to demands that it be made a felony [Scott Greenfield]
- Interview with former Virginia Attorney General and corrections reformer Mark Earley [Chase Madar, American Conservative]
- “How to Address Anger Over Shootings By Police? Hide Cops’ Names, Of Course!” [J.D. Tuccille; New York Times (“In many jurisdictions, including New York State, simply determining the names of officers involved in fatal shootings can be a struggle.”), earlier Virginia]
- Did Detroit really do itself a favor with its massive crackdown on noncompliant businesses? [Scott Beyer, Governing]
- “Governors Highlight Criminal Justice Reform in State of State Addresses” [ALEC “American Legislator”]
- Minnesota bill would bar police agencies from investigating own officer-involved shootings [KMSP via Radley Balko]
Confirming expectations, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it will not file federal civil rights charges against the police officer who shot Michael Brown following an altercation on the streets of Ferguson, Mo. [CBS] Contrary to a visual theme repeated before countless news cameras through weeks of protests, “no, Michael Brown’s hands probably were not up” at the time of the shooting [Wesley Lowery, Washington Post] In the end, “Hands Up — Don’t Shoot” 2014’s iconic protest gesture, was founded in the self-serving, oft-repeated eyewitness account of Brown chum/soon-established-robbery-accomplice Dorrian Johnson. And he was credible why?
At the same time, the report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Justice makes clear (AP, WaPo) that the Ferguson, Mo. police department was up to its hip in bad practices, ranging from the rights-violative (knowingly baseless arrests and stops, arresting persons for recording police actions) to the cynical (“revenue policing” aimed at squeezing money out of the populace over subjective/petty offenses that include “manner of walking.”)
Whether these bad local police practices are a suitable subject for federal oversight, and where the actually existing U.S. Department of Justice gets off complaining about high-handed and revenue-driven law enforcement given its own sorry track record, are other questions. But any view of Ferguson’s troubles in the back-view mirror should now acknowledge two things: 1) many people rushed to assume Officer Darren Wilson’s guilt who should have known better; 2) even so, there was much to protest in Ferguson law enforcement. (cross-posted, with a new concluding paragraph, at Cato at Liberty).
More links of interest: Don’t miss Conor Friedersdorf’s “parade of horrors” summary of the worst police abuses bared in the DoJ report [The Atlantic]; Alex Tabarrok on the Ferguson “kleptocracy” [Marginal Revolution] and Stephen Carter on “Ferguson and Its Money-Hungry Police” [Bloomberg View]; Scott Greenfield on whether or why to trust in the USDOJ.