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Glenn Reynolds: Our Criminal Justice System Has Become a Crime

(Photo: Karen Bleier, AFP Getty Images)

(Photo: Karen Bleier, AFP Getty Images)

Prosecutors too often abuse unrestrained powers

For USA TodayGlenn Harlan Reynolds writes: Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Upon evidence that a crime has been committed — Professor Plum, found dead in the conservatory with a lead pipe on the floor next to him, say — the police commence an investigation. When they have probable cause to believe that someone is guilty, the case is taken to a prosecutor, who (in the federal system, and many states) puts it before a grand jury. If the grand jury agrees that there’s probable cause, it indicts. The case goes to trial, where a jury of 12 ordinary citizens hears the evidence. If they judge the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they convict. If they think the accused not guilty — or even simply believe that a conviction would be unjust — they acquit.

[Glenn Harlan Reynolds is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, available at Amazon]

Here’s how things all-too-often work today: Law enforcement decides that a person is suspicious (or, possibly, just a political enemy). Upon investigation into every aspect of his/her life, they find possible violations of the law, often involving obscure, technical statutes that no one really knows. They then file a “kitchen-sink” indictment involving dozens, or even hundreds of charges, which the grand jury rubber stamps. The accused then must choose between a plea bargain, or the risk of a trial in which a jury might convict on one or two felony counts simply on a “where there’s smoke there must be fire” theory even if the evidence seems less than compelling.

[Also, Harvey Silverglate's Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent at Amazon]

This is why, in our current system, the vast majority of cases never go to trial, but end in plea bargains. And if being charged with a crime ultimately leads to a plea bargain, then it follows that the real action in the criminal justice system doesn’t happen at trial, as it does in most legal TV shows, but way before, at the time when prosecutors decide to bring charges. Because usually, once charges are brought, the defendant will wind up doing time for something.

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After a Wave of Scholarship in 20 Years, the Verdict is In: Americans Embrace Guns

Image: www.shecanshoot.com

Image: shecanshoot


Despite anti-gun hysteria following shootings, the trend is toward expanding gun rights.

For USA TodayGlenn Harlan Reynolds writes: This past weekend, the Tennessee Law Review held a symposium on “New Frontiers in the Second Amendment.” It was a follow-up, of sorts, to a symposium held almost 20 years ago, and boy, has a lot changed since then.

“Overall, the trend of the past couple of decades seems to be toward expanding gun rights, just as the trend in the 1950s and 1960s was toward expanding free speech rights”

In 1995, Second Amendment scholarship had been almost entirely nonexistent for decades, and what little there was (mostly written by lobbyists for gun-control groups) treated the matter as open-and-shut: The Second Amendment, we were told, protected only the right of state militias (or as former Chief Justice Warren Burger characterized them, “state armies“) to possess guns.

Image: www.shecanshoot.com

Image: shecanshoot

Lower court opinions, to the extent they existed, were largely in agreement, and the political discussion, such as it was, generally held that anyone who believed that the Second Amendment might embody a judicially enforceable right for ordinary citizens to possess guns was a shill — probably paid — for the NRA. Whatever the Second Amendment meant, it did not, we were told, protect a right of individuals to possess firearms, enforceable in court against governmental entities that infringed on individuals’ gun possession.

But then came a wave of scholarship, much of it by eminent constitutional scholars ranging from William Van Alstyne, to Laurence Tribe, to Sanford Levinson, toRobert Cottrol, exploring the original purposes and understanding of the Second Amendment. By the turn of the millennium, it was well-established among scholars that the Second Amendment was intended to protect an individual right to arms, one that would be enforceable in court against infringements by states, municipalities and the federal government.

[Glenn Reynolds is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself look for it at Amazon]

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Glenn Harlan Reynolds: Americans Rising Up Against Government: Three Examples of Pushback Against the Ruling Class

Gun rights activist Holly Cusumano, 18, waves a flag during a rally for the 2nd Amendment at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Massive new gun-registration scheme is also facing massive civil disobedience. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

America’s ruling class has been experiencing more pushback than usual lately. It just might be a harbinger of things to come.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds  writes:  First, in response to widespread protests last week, the Department of Homeland Security canceled plans to build a nationwide license plate database.

“This is more “Irish Democracy,” passive resistance to government overreach.”

Many local police departments already use license-plate readers that track every car as it passes traffic signals or pole-mounted cameras. Specially equipped police cars even track cars parked on the street or even in driveways.

push-back-tread

The DHS put out a bid request for a system that would have gone national, letting the federal government track millions of people’s comings and goings just as it tracks data about every phone call we make. But the proposal was suddenly withdrawn last week, with the unconvincing explanation that it was all a mistake. I’m inclined to agree with TechDirt‘s Tim Cushing, who wrote: “The most plausible explanation is that someone up top at the DHS or ICE suddenly realized that publicly calling for bids on a nationwide surveillance system while nationwide surveillance systems are being hotly debated was … a horrible idea.”

Order Reynold’s book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself” from Amazon

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Obama’s Legacy: Government Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Crazy

code-pink-stop-nsa

From the IRS to the NSA, Americans have reasons not to trust the Obama Administration

Glenn Reynolds  writes:  At a tax symposium at Pepperdine Law School last week, former IRS chief counsel Donald Korb was asked, “On a scale of 1-10 … how damaging is the current IRS scandal?”

His answer: 9.5. Other tax experts on the panel called it “awful,” and said that it has done “tremendous damage.”

I think that’s right. And I think that the damage extends well beyond the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, I think that the government agency suffering the most damage isn’t the IRS, but the National Security Agency. Because the NSA, even more than the IRS, depends on public trust. And now that the IRS has been revealed to be a political weapon, it’s much harder for people to have faith in the NSA.

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Analysis: Bad Managers Ruined Obamacare

pic_giant_102513_SM_Sebelius-Ducks

Politicians can’t talk their way out of a technological mess

Glenn Harlan Reynolds  writes: The Obamacare rollout remains a debacle, but now enough time has passed that smart people are beginning to dissect what went wrong. So far, the best take I’ve seen comes from Internet pioneer Clay Shirky, who notes that the politicians weren’t listening to the people doing the actual work.

I was talking about this to my Administrative Law class not long ago. I had told them that there are few real secrets in D.C. because everyone sleeps with everyone else. A student then asked why both the administration and the GOP seemed to have been blindsided by the Obamacare website problems. “I guess nobody was sleeping with the techies,” was my response.

Shirky leaves out sex as an explanation — always a mistake where Washington is concerned — but he does focus on communication, and on the problems with having big tech programs run by people who don’t actually understand the technology.

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Analysis: The Book Obama Didn’t Read, and Should Have

bookOshouldHave
Maybe the next elected president will think before he enacts big change

Glenn Reynolds writes:  Back when President Obama was first elected, the folks at Amazon offered a presidential reading list. My own recommendation for him was James Scott’s Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes To Improve The Human Condition Have Failed. Obama should have taken it.

Scott, a Yale professor and no right-winger, produced a lengthy catalog of centrally planned disasters: Everything from compulsory villagization in Tanzania, to the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union, to the “Authoritarian High Modernism” that led to immense, unlivable housing projects and the destruction of urban life in cities around the world. The book stands as a warning to hubristic technocrats: You may think you understand how things work, and how people will respond to your carefully (or, often, not-so-carefully) laid plans, but you are likely to be wrong, and the result is likely to be somewhere between tragedy and farce. The world is more complicated than planners are capable of grasping — and so, for that matter, are the people who inhabit it.

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Technology Is Killing ObamaCare, But It Might Save The Rest of Us

(Photo: Leslie Smith Jr., USA TODAY)

(Photo: Leslie Smith Jr., USA TODAY)

Glenn Reynolds writes:  Despite all the problems with Obamacare, there’s some good news on the horizon for medical care and costs. The good news has nothing to do with exchanges, reimbursement rates or “navigators,” but everything to do with a phenomenon that has cut costs elsewhere in American society: technology.

We’re already seeing things that once took place only in doctors’ offices trickling out into the real world. I thought about this just the other day when reading that schools are stocking auto-injectors of epinephrine to deal with sudden, life-threatening allergy attacks. With these injectors, you don’t have to have any particular medical skill: “The tip of the device is placed firmly against the thigh, which releases a short, spring activated needle that injects the epinephrine.”

With a severe allergic reaction, by the time you got the victim to the hospital it would probably be too late. But with an auto-injector on the hand, you can administer life-saving treatment right away, and the technology makes it easy to store and easy to use. Read the rest of this entry »


SHIELD LAW: Is DOJ licensing or unleashing the press?

Gary Pruitt, president and chief executive officer of the Associated Press, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on June 19. (Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)

(Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)

Glenn Reynolds writes: Last week, stung by reactions to phone-snooping on reporters (and, in at least one case, a reporter’s parents), the Justice Department issued new guidelines for dealing with the media when investigating leaks. Many people are cheering these guidelines, but I’m not sure they’re good enough. Read the rest of this entry »


Time to Stop the Special Perks of Politics

Time to Stop the Special Perks of Politics

If there’s anything that’s fundamentally un-American, it’s the burgeoning system of politicians bestowing on themselves special privileges that are largely unavailable to the public — that is, the people who elect them and pay their salaries.

As Glenn Reynolds pointed out in USA Today, special laws around the country give some states’ politicians special gun rights, legal immunity and a variety of other perks.  It’s a disgusting practice that needs to stop.  It’s impossible for our elected representatives to “represent” us properly if they are living a life that’s insulated from many of the onerous laws or regulations they inflict on the rest of us — or, more generally, if they’re a special “protected class.”

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Book Review: Men on Strike by Dr. Helen Smith

A real eye-opener about the feminist cultural demonization and trivialization of men, and the consequences.

 by 
A few years ago, I rejected donating to a breast cancer charity in favor of one focused on prostate cancer.

I recognized that there was a vast disparity between the funding amounts and promotion levelsfor the two cancers — despite the nearly equal number of deaths from each of these illnesses. Knowing men would never organize to complain, I decided to “rebel against the matriarchy” for them.

Little did I realize I was engaging in “men’s rights” activism, as outlined in Dr. Helen Smith’s new book, Men on Strike: Why Men are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream — and Why It Matters.

Men on Strike Cover

Long-time readers of Legal Insurrection recognize that when I write about “feminism”, my goal is to ensure women empower themselves by getting the full story on any matter and then making fully informed decisions. While I was aware the rate of marriage in this country was going down and the number of single-parent households was going up, I never connected it to men making their own set of informed decisions.

Therefore, Dr. Helen’s book was a real eye-opener.

As an unabashed capitalist, I recognize that rewarding desired behaviors and punishing unfavored ones is a successful strategy. The book clearly outlines how modern feminism demonizes men as “potential perverts”, punishes them with fiscally punitive court decisions in divorce and custody cases, and trivializes the needs of males in educational and college settings. The result is a decline in traditional and positive male behaviors.

In fact, Dr. Helen often references The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. I read the book shortly after having my son, and it inspires me to be pro-active in his education and ensure he has alpha-male role models.  It also influenced my incipient activism.

Dr. Helen (the wife of Professor Glenn Reynolds) uses much information gleaned from herPajamas Media website.She offers the testimony from her comments section to discuss the reasons our men are opting out of college, marriage, and fatherhood. Part of the reason is that today’s society has empowered women’s sexuality while controlling men’s via the legal system (e.g., being sued for childcare for children not their own). One 23-year-old offered the following perspective:

“I think girls a long time ago, maybe forty or fifty years ago, were doing less cheating and were more trustworthy. Now girls are like guys used to be. I would say that eight out of ten girls are ‘sketchy’ and about six or seven guys out of ten are those girls can trust”.

Dr. Helen notes that middle management is now comprised predominately of women, and many of them favor women in hiring and promotions. Over 90% of the genetics counselors are women, who do not feel the need to inform male partners of the results of DNA tests. Women dominate in higher education at every degree level.

Society has evolved into a “girl’s club”.

What is the ultimate impact? Dr. Helen cites the Costa Concordia tragedy, which made it seem like chivalry is dead because men saved themselves as their boat sank.  Interestingly, at the time, I had an online discussion about “What Became of Real Men” with a paid expert on masculinity about the event.

Dr. Helen rightly points out that when you reward the “Uncle Tims” at the expense of the “White Knights”, and decry masculinity as evil, then self-serving behavior will be the result. She notes, “as you sow, so shall you reap.”

True, that.

I hope to keep up the battle for “men’s rights” in my own way: Inspiring women to make healthy choices and respect the wonderful differences of masculinity. Here is one of my many rewards — being surrounded by a group of dashing warriors, who treat me like a queen and make very special memories for my son.

Leslie Eastman with San Diego's Lanciari, costumes by Ovidia 550 AD

Leslie Eastman with San Diego’s Lanciari, costumes by Ovidia 550 AD

via »  Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.


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