“Qualified” immunity might as well be absolute"> Qualified” immunity might as well be absolute
Apr 26th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

We're the Only Ones Absolutely Immune Enough.

Generally speaking, it is smart public policy to shield prosecutors from lawsuits when it comes to determining in which cases they'll pursue charges...

But you could make a good case that absolute immunity takes this idea too far. Even police officers are given what's called "qualified immunity" from civil rights suits, which in 1983 the Supreme Court determined meant, "insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known."

That sets a hurdle for lawsuits against the police, but not a wall (some would argue that this hurdle is also too high). It might be time to consider applying that standard to prosecutors, too.

Actually, it's past time. The absolute immunity doctrine should never have been established.
The simple fact is, freedom depends on responsibility and accountability. You just can't have one without the others.

Having "Only Ones" impervious to the laws the rest of us are bound by is the essence of tyranny.

And as for incentives for prosecutors, the incentive ought to be to reduce prosecutable "offenses."

[Via Carl S] [The War on Guns]

Actually, I think even the "qualified immunity" is pretty meaningless today. Cops constantly, systematically, and with impunity "violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Nothing ever happens to them for doing so. In fact, as far as I can tell it's impossible to be a cop without violating people's rights. What do you suppose happens to some trainee cop the first time he refuses to search or arrest someone for carrying a pistol, for example, even though doing so would be a blatant violation of that person's constitutional rights?

Mass imprisonment of innocents–not just for Iraq any more
Apr 23rd, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Blog­ger William Grigg has a series of posts on the mass kid­nap­ping and child abuse case in Texas:

“Your Chil­dren Are Ours” (Updat­ed, 416)

Col­lec­tivist Child Abuse (Fourth Update, 418)

Quid Spu­ca­tum Tau­ri Est? (Sec­ond Update, April 22)

The Sub­ject “Peo­ple” vs. The Rul­ing “Per­sons” (Updat­ed, April 23) 

By way of con­trast, here is an account of what hap­pened to a cor­rupt Sheriff’s depart­ment at a time when there were still enough peo­ple around with a vague mem­o­ry of what a free coun­try was.

Amusing band name
Apr 22nd, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Seen on a poster at the Room 5 Lounge:

Pi and the Irra­tional Band

Apr 21st, 2008 by Ken Hagler


The New York Times reports that a bunch of ex-military on-air “ana­lysts” are in bed with both mil­i­tary con­trac­tors and the Bush admin­is­tra­tion:

Records and inter­views show how the Bush admin­is­tra­tion has used its con­trol over access and infor­ma­tion in an effort to trans­form the ana­lysts into a kind of media Tro­jan horse — an instru­ment intend­ed to shape ter­ror­ism cov­er­age from inside the major TV and radio net­works.

Ana­lysts have been wooed in hun­dreds of pri­vate brief­in­gs with senior mil­i­tary lead­ers, includ­ing offi­cials with sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence over con­tract­ing and bud­get mat­ters, records show. They have been tak­en on tours of Iraq and giv­en access to clas­si­fied intel­li­gence. They have been briefed by offi­cials from the White House, State Depart­ment and Jus­tice Depart­ment, includ­ing Mr. Cheney, Alber­to R. Gon­za­les and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, mem­bers of this group have echoed admin­is­tra­tion talk­ing points, some­times even when they sus­pect­ed the infor­ma­tion was false or inflat­ed. Some ana­lysts acknowl­edge they sup­pressed doubts because they feared jeop­ar­diz­ing their access.

This is what gov­ern­ments do. Repub­li­can gov­ern­ments. Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments. They spend their sub­jects’ mon­ey shap­ing their sub­jects’ opin­ions, so that they can spend more of their sub­jects’ mon­ey.

No doubt most of the talk­ing head gen­er­als and colonels believe sin­cere­ly that they were act­ing in the best inter­ests of the peo­ple they have devot­ed their lives to serv­ing. It is sim­ply that we “civil­ians” do not real­ly know what we need to know in order to decide wise­ly for our­selves, and so pub­lic opin­ion needs to be mas­saged a bit to gen­er­ate polit­i­cal sup­port for poli­cies that tru­ly do pro­tect us. If the well-meaning soft pater­nal­ism of con­cert­ed pro­pa­gan­da and finan­cial self-interest hap­pen to coin­cide, then all the bet­ter. Our guardians will only be bet­ter moti­vat­ed to guard us! (And, real­ly, after a life­time of ser­vice, don’t they deserve to get theirs?) Cru­cial­ly, no one here is forc­ing any­one to sup­port the administration’s poli­cies. It’s just a bit of a nudge, from peo­ple who know bet­ter.

[Will Wilkin­son / The Fly Bot­tle]

Of course the main­stream media also has a his­to­ry of par­rot­ing the gov­ern­ment line “because they feared jeop­ar­diz­ing their access.” I doubt the New York Times will be in any hur­ry to men­tion that, despite its own role in push­ing gov­ern­ment pro­pa­gan­da.

What a shock, the government was lying
Apr 17th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

About a year ago there was a big fuss when Iran cap­tured a bunch of British mil­i­tary per­son­al who had intrud­ed in Iran­ian waters. The British gov­ern­ment insist­ed that they had been in Iraqi waters (as if that’s bet­ter), and the Bushe­viks used the whole thing to attack Iran and try to drum up sup­port for start­ing anoth­er war.

Now, it’s final­ly come out that the Ira­ni­ans were telling the truth all along, and that the Evil Empire was not mere­ly mis­tak­en but knew all along what the truth was and were active­ly lying about it. This is hard­ly surprising–in fact, it was pret­ty obvi­ous at the time. Still, The Times deserves cred­it for per­sis­tence in uncov­er­ing the proof. We can only hope that the next time Wash­ing­ton or one of its client states says some­thing nasty about Iran, peo­ple will remem­ber this.

You can’t use laws against the government
Apr 10th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

More From Mis­sis­sip­pi.

The Jack­son Free Press wrote up the Inno­cence Project’s move for Dr. Hayne’s med­ical license. But the arti­cle also includes some info about Cedric Willis, the third exon­er­a­tion in Mis­sis­sip­pi this year–one we haven’t heard near­ly as much about.

Exon­er­at­ed Jack­son­ian Cedric Willis spoke to the audi­ence about spend­ing 12 years behind bars, nine of them in Parch­man, for a mur­der he did not commit—even as Hinds Coun­ty Cir­cuit Judge Bob­by DeLaugh­ter made no move to exon­er­ate him dur­ing those years he spent wrong­ful­ly serv­ing time, despite the exis­tence of evi­dence that could clear him.

He had a motion on my free­dom for years, and I nev­er got a response from him. The judge had a right to say, ‘this is not right,’” Willis said, ear­li­er ques­tion­ing how DeLaugh­ter could “sleep at night” know­ing he’d sent an inno­cent man to rot in prison.

Here’s how:

DeLaugh­ter was the assis­tant dis­trict attor­ney at the time, work­ing under Dis­trict Attor­ney Ed Peters, who pros­e­cut­ed Willis. Judge Bre­land Hilburn was the judge in the Willis case; nei­ther he, DeLaugh­ter or Peters pushed to allow DNA evi­dence and wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny that could have proved Willis inno­cent. The real killer remains at large.

So the judge who heard most of Willis’ appeals was an assis­tant DA in the office that pros­e­cut­ed him. Love­ly. Oh, and then there’s this:

DeLaugh­ter is cur­rent­ly under inves­ti­ga­tion for alleged­ly tak­ing bribes from Peters, on behalf of attor­ney Dick­ie Scrug­gs, to influ­ence cas­es. The Mis­sis­sip­pi Com­mis­sion on Judi­cial Per­for­mance recent­ly sus­pend­ed DeLaugh­ter from the bench while the fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues.

This is worth not­ing, too:

When Cedric Willis was pros­e­cut­ed, the state of Mis­sis­sip­pi knew full well that they had an inno­cent man,” Maw said. “This was not a case where the pros­e­cu­tor thought he maybe had a weak case but … went ahead with the pros­e­cu­tion with some reser­va­tions.”

Maw added: “They knew out­right that Cedric Willis did not com­mit this crime and they said so them­selves in the newspapers—then they will­ing­ly kept out evi­dence that would have proved him inno­cent, and they let him sit in jail.”

They should be pun­ished for that and prob­a­bly nev­er will be because state law says that if the pros­e­cu­tor does some­thing wrong they have almost absolute immu­ni­ty.”

It’s way past time to start rethink­ing absolute pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al immu­ni­ty.

[The Agi­ta­tor]

The prob­lem is, that won’t do any good. There’s already a law on the books that applies in cas­es like this:

If two or more per­sons con­spire to injure, oppress, threat­en, or intim­i­date any per­son in any State, Ter­ri­to­ry, Com­mon­wealth, Pos­ses­sion, or Dis­trict in the free exer­cise or enjoy­ment of any right or priv­i­lege secured to him by the Con­sti­tu­tion or laws of the Unit­ed States, or because of his hav­ing so exer­cised the same; or

If two or more per­sons go in dis­guise on the high­way, or on the premis­es of anoth­er, with intent to pre­vent or hin­der his free exer­cise or enjoy­ment of any right or priv­i­lege so secured -

They shall be fined under this title or impris­oned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts com­mit­ted in vio­la­tion of this sec­tion or if such acts include kid­nap­ping or an attempt to kid­nap, aggra­vat­ed sex­u­al abuse or an attempt to com­mit aggra­vat­ed sex­u­al abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or impris­oned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sen­tenced to death

Title 18, Part I, Chap­ter 13, Sec­tion 241 US Code

Under this law, Judge DeLaugh­ter should be fac­ing life in prison or the death penal­ty. But this law will nev­er be applied, any more than any changes to pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al immu­ni­ty would be, because these are the peo­ple who apply them. They don’t pros­e­cute each oth­er any more than cops arrest each oth­er.

Thermonuclear Flash
Apr 10th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

From a post:

Inter­est­ing­ly, my wife does use a cam­era with flash­bulbs in clubs occa­sion­al­ly. It’s a Polaroid 100 that uses M3 and M3B bulbs. She’s nev­er been thrown out, but once after tak­ing a pic­ture of a per­former at the Hotel Café in Hol­ly­wood a mem­ber of the audi­ence was over­heard say­ing “well, I’m blind now.”

The post was made in 2006. That was the year the Hotel Café banned flash pho­tog­ra­phy.

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