Paranoia from the PBA President

Over lunch today, the head of one of the NYPD’s powerful police unions* emailed a shrill “open letter” to the press, blaming the “armchair rhetoric” of columnists and pundits for the worsening relations between the police and the communities they serve.  Here’s the email: To all arm-chair judges: If you have...

A Modest Proposal

Yesterday, the New York Senate voted to pass “Brittany’s Law,” to create a new public registry of offenders. Think “sex offender” registry, only for anyone convicted of any violent felony. People with a conviction in their past would have to register for ten years or more (under penalty of another...

A Fundamental Disconnect

Your smartphone has a lot of private stuff on it. Passwords, photos, messages, files. You want to keep it private. So it’s a good thing that companies are building better encryption into their phones, right? Not according to law enforcement. They complain a lot about encryption. Encryption is pretty good,...

Inexpert Testimony

The purpose of a trial is not to discover the truth. Sorry. Whether civil or criminal, bench or jury, the purpose of a trial is to decide on an “official version” of the facts. The purpose of the justice system is to make an enforceable, hopefully final, decision about a...

Undoing overcriminalization

So I saw this opinion piece in USA Today by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, titled “You Are Probably Breaking the Law Right Now: When lawmakers don’t even know how many laws exist, how can citizens be expected to follow them?” It joins a growing tide of public awareness about overcriminalization in the U.S....

Training and Experience

This has been another one of those years with a heightened awareness of police violence against unarmed black men. Awareness is a good thing. Understanding, however, is better. You can’t solve a problem until you know what the problem is. The problem isn’t really racism, though. The problem is fear. These shootings...

Ferguson Q&A

From Tumblr: I haven’t seen the actual evidence yet, so I’ll hold off on analyzing the case just yet. As for the prosecutor’s actions? I think it was a strategy of wussing out. Let me explain: I’m pretty sure the prosecutor decided early on that either (1) there was no...

Let’s Make a New Law!

Any moderately well-informed person these days is aware of the shocking injustices that happen whenever criminal laws get written by people who don’t really understand what criminal law is, or how it works. (Brilliant summary here.) They tend to create crimes that are ill-defined, overbroad, and usually an overreaction to...

Q&A Dump

I’m on the road today, but I wanted to post something. So I’m going to cheat and cut-and-paste some recent Q&A posts from my Tumblr. If you’re looking for a longer read, go check out my comic, which just completed a long section involving how the Fourth Amendment plays out...

Too Many Lawyers?

Keith Lee posted an interesting chart on his blog today, comparing how fast the number of lawyers is growing to how fast the general population is growing. The U.S. population has grown at a slow and steady pace since 1945. The lawyer population, however, has grown at a much faster...

No, that’s not what the Fifth Circuit said.

The internet is abuzz over yesterday’s Fifth Circuit decision on cell-site data. And hardly anyone seems to know what they’re talking about, as usual. It’s to be expected when sources like Wired say “cops can track cellphones without warrants, appeals court rules.” Which is not what the court ruled at all....