Prosecutors Had the Wrong Man. They Prosecuted Him Anyway. – The New York Times

“In the robbery, kidnapping and rape that began in the French Quarter of New Orleans on April 6, 1992, much of the evidence pointed to a man named Lester Jones.He fit the description of the attacker down to his round-rimmed glasses. His car looked like the perpetrator’s. The rape took place near the housing project where he lived. And after the police arrested him on suspicion of other crimes in the French Quarter that same month, they found jewelry from the robbery in his possession.

Yet the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office chose to arrest a different man, 19-year-old Robert Jones — no relation — for the crime. Mr. Jones not only was convicted, but spent more than 23 years in jail before being cleared of those crimes and a murder he did not commit.On Tuesday, Mr. Jones sued, charging that prosecutors had deliberately and repeatedly covered up evidence that would have undermined the case against him. More than that, he charged that he was neither the first nor the last victim of such treatment — that prosecutors had an unwritten policy of hobbling the legal defenses of accused citizens without their knowledge.

The New Orleans district attorney’s office has chalked up legal black marks for years, including a string of Supreme Court cases involving prosecutorial misconduct. But the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, is perhaps the most damning compilation of misconduct accusations to date.”

Here is the top comment, which I recommend, and my reply to the following comment.

Marcus

San Antonio 1 hour ago

Rather amazing that this article fails to even mention the name of the Orleans Parish District Attorney, Harry Connick Sr., who held that position from 1973 to 2003. As a longtime resident of New Orleans, I am not alone in being aware of the vast corruption that infused that office for decades, including at the very top. Your story is about cover-ups, yet by not even mentioning Connick’s name, this article itself is covering up the truth.

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Heartbreaking and disgusting. In ancient China, acccording to Robert van Gulik, if a Magistrate sent a person to jail, concentration camp or death, and it was detemined later to be a mistake, the magistrate had to undergo the same penalty he had administered incorrectly. We should return to those good old days. There is a great comment below, about making prosecutors reveal all evidence as they receive it. Severe penalties for sending innocent people to prison would do wonders to reduce this problem.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

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The Mystery of the Crime Decline – David Leonhardt – NYT – Stop and Frisk Failed.

Stop and Frisk failed.

“As you probably know by now, I’m a fan of journalistic self-criticism, and Smith has engaged in some of it this week. His piece for National Review is called simply, “We Were Wrong About Stop-and-Frisk.” He notes that crime has continued to decline under de Blasio. “To compare today’s crime rate to even that of ten years ago is to observe a breathtaking decline,” Smith adds.”

Two Ways of Looking at Gerrymandering – by Linda Greenhouse – NYT

“Even though Doug Jones won a famous statewide victory in last month’s Alabama Senate race, he actually lost — less famously — to Roy Moore in six of the state’s seven congressional districts. That’s right: He carried only the heavily black Seventh Congressional District, into which the Alabama Legislature has jammed almost a third of the state’s African-American population while making sure that the rest of the districts remain safely white and Republican.

That’s gerrymandering in the raw. Something equally raw, although less overtly racial, happened in Maryland back in 2011, when the overwhelmingly Democratic State Legislature decided that one Republican out of Maryland’s eight-member congressional delegation was one Republican too many. The 2010 census required the state to shrink the majority-Republican Sixth District by 10,000 people in order to restore one-person, one-vote equality among the districts. Seeing its opportunity for some major new line-drawing, the Legislature conducted a population transfer. It moved 66,417 Republican voters out of the district while moving into it 24,460 Democratic voters from safely Democratic adjoining districts, a swing of more than 90,000 votes. And guess what? The 20-year Republican incumbent, Roscoe Bartlett, lost the 2012 election to the Democratic candidate, John Delaney, who has won re-election ever since.”

Yes. Here is the top comment I endorsed:

Brad

is a trusted commenter San Diego County, California 5 hours ago

Every time I read about the problem of gerrymandering and how districts are drawn to favor one party or another I keep thinking about conversations with Europeans about how they deal with gerrymandering.

One approach is not to have small electoral districts but rather have multiple seats open in a single state. A parliamentary style election in which party has a list of candidates allows proportional representation. If 40% of voters vote for a Republican, 35% for a Democrat, 15% for Libertarians and 10% for the Greens, those percentages determine the allocation of seats.

Alternatively is to have non-partisan “boundary commissions” as they are called in Great Britain. A similar approach is used in California and Arizona.

Gerrymandering – combined with corporate funding of candidates – has corroded American political system.

 

For Native Americans- a ‘Historic Moment’ on the Path to Power at the Ballot Box – The New York Times

“SAN JUAN COUNTY, Utah — In this county of desert and sagebrush, Wilfred Jones has spent a lifetime angered by what his people are missing. Running water, for one. Electricity, for another. But worst of all, in his view, is that the Navajo people here lack adequate political representation.

So Mr. Jones sued, and in late December, after a federal judge ruled that San Juan County’s longtime practice of packing Navajo voters into one voting district violated the United States Constitution, the county was ordered to draw new district lines for local elections.The move could allow Navajo people to win two of three county commission seats for the first time, overturning more than a century of political domination by white residents. And the shift here is part of an escalating battle over Native American enfranchisement, one that comes amid a larger wave of voting rights movements spreading across the country.“It’s a historic moment for us,” said Mr. Jones, during a drive on the county’s roller coaster dirt roads. “We look at what happened with the Deep South,” he went on, “how they accomplished what they have. We can do the same thing.” ”

Bravo. Here is a comment I endorse:

DW In the shadow of Monticello 38 minutes ago
it’s about time that the Native American citizens have an equal opportunity to have a proportional vote and to equalize the use of government resources (i.e., tax income) for all – not just for those who control the boundaries of voting districts in their favor.

FlagReply 9 Recommended

Yes- the President Can Obstruct Justice – The New York Times

“You know you have a problem when you’ve been president for less than 11 months and you’re already relying on Richard Nixon’s definition of what’s legal.

On Monday morning, Axios reported that Mr. Trump’s top personal lawyer, John Dowd, said in an interview that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer” under the Constitution and “has every right to express his view of any case.”This will come as news to Congress, which has passed laws criminalizing the obstruction of justice and decided twice in the last four decades that when a president violates those laws he has committed an impeachable offense.

In 1974, the first article of impeachment drafted by the House of Representatives charged President Nixon with “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force.”A quarter-century later, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House for, among other things, having “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice” and for having “engaged personally, and through his subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or scheme designed to delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence of evidence and testimony.” ”

DL: Yes, thank you.
Here are some excellent comments, just a few of many.

Bruce Rozenblit is a trusted commenter Kansas City, MO 15 hours ago
If this is the best defense Trump’s lawyer can come up with, then Trump should get another lawyer.

This is a non-defense defense. It is an idiotic circular argument. It’s the kind of thing a person would expect Hannity to say.

Due to the weakness of this strategy, logic can only lead to the conclusion that Trump has no defense.

I don’t like to deify the founding fathers as many do. They were mere mortals like all of us. But they did the modern world a tremendous service when they set our government up with three branches of equal power. One is hopelessly corrupt, one is bought and paid for and so far at least one, the judiciary still functions. If that branch collapses under the weight of partisan politics, we are done.

448 Recommended

TWR New York 16 hours ago
We are the heirs of Magna Carta upon which the founders of our American republic established our constitutional democracy. Magna Carta has not only been been invoked on the floor of the U.S. Senate in response to executive overreach but also cited as legally authoritative precedent in decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. If nothing else, it stands for the principle that in Anglo-American jurisprudence and governance that “the sovereign is not above the law.” Are we now willing to allow a president to assert that he, like Louis XIV, is the state and above the law? Heaven help us if our democratic institutions agree with him.
377 Recommended

ChristineMcM

is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 15 hours ago

“You cannot charge a president with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and to tell the Justice Department who to investigate and who not to investigate.”

This from Alan Dershowitz whose tenured spot at Harvard Law seems to have gone to his head.

No, I’m not a lawyer, but I do know why the US fought a revolution. I also know the founders were laser focused on creating a system of 3 branches of government, with checks and balances to keep any one person from acting like a king.

If Donald Trump could instruct Justice who to investigate –or not–he’d exercise the unchecked power of a king who not only administers laws, but makes them too.

I recently heard a lawyer frame it another way: the President only supervises judicial processes, not judicial content.

Frankly, I think Trump’s lawyers are all crackpots. One’s job seems to be to tell him fairy stories to calm him down before bed. Another’s is to go on TV, gesticulate wildly, and argue with pundits, sounding increasingly incoherent. The third who wrote the tweet has been videotaped cursing and making obscene gestures to reporters as he exits court after losing a case.

Maybe if Donald Trump paid these guys more, he’d have better counsel, at least lawyers who would tell him he isn’t a king.

Or a dictator, no matter how much Donald Trump tries to act like one.

pmbrig

Massachusetts 11 hours ago

The claim is that the president is the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement officer and has the constitutional authority to supervise and control the executive branch and can make decisions about what law enforcement actions will be pursued, without any checks on that power. This is tantamount to saying that the President is above the law.

That, my friends, is called a dictatorship.

 

The Colorado Cake Case Is as Easy as Pie – By RIA TABACCO MAR – NYT

“Is there a constitutional right to discriminate? That should be an easy “no.” But in President Trump’s America, that question will be argued in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, involves Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, whom I have represented since 2015. They were planning their wedding in 2012, and one of the details they were excited about was the cake. Mr. Craig’s mother, Debbie Munn, was set to visit them that summer, so they decided to wait for her to choose it.”

DL: Keep reading, it gets better.

Don’t Prosecute Trump. Impeach Him. – By JOHN YOO and SAIKRISHNA PRAKASH

“A wayward tweet on Saturday has set off renewed accusations that President Trump obstructed justice by impeding the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.The known facts are too weak to support any federal prosecution, not to mention one as momentous as indicting a sitting president. But even if Mr. Trump did illegally conspire to improve relations with Russia, his critics are pursuing their quarry down the wrong path. Impeachment — not criminal prosecution — is the tool for a corrupt sitting president.”

David Lindsay: What is that smell, I think it’s bullshit. Someone, please help me figure out what I am smelling?
Help is near. Bless the top commentators, for clarifying several complex issues. I endorsed all the following comments.

Rdeannyc is a trusted commenter Amherst MA 14 hours ago
The authors are probably correct that a sitting President cannot successfully be indicted. Yet, it is odd that they pit that prediction against the alternative of impeachment (which they recommend) at this point in time, since an indictment of Mr. Trump — even if moot as such — would not preclude subsequent impeachment proceedings. Odd, of course, because as the Times FAILS to note, Mr. Yoo once served in the White House counsel under President Bush, and wrote legal arguments defending waterboarding. Could it be that Mr. Yoo doesn’t like the idea that the Executive might be held accountable through a criminal investigation? And that he prefers the idea of a political opinion — as rendered by Congress — as the means of determining “corruption?”

Reply 471 Recommended

Look Ahead is a trusted commenter WA 14 hours ago
Unlike John Yoo, I am no legal expert. But also unlike Mr Yoo, I didn’t write the “Torture Memos” which have posed an extreme hazard to US military and diplomatic personnel serving in foreign countries.

We need to proceed with all available options for moving Trump and his parasitic family business clan out of the White House. Since he is harboring the delusion (among many others) that he already has a lock on the 2020 election, we can’t expect Trump to resign like Nixon.

But Trump is clearly more of a liability to the GOP brand where he is. And he is also a Right Wing White Nationalist fantasy. As much as I hate to see all of the destruction to America’s values, justice system and international leadership in the short term, it may actually stimulate the policy debate we should have had in 2016 but didn’t. (thanks to Matt Lauer and others).

And Trump is probably the best voter turnout weapon the Democrats have seen since Herbert Hoover. If we can at least keep Trump around until the 2018 midterms, we might inspire a wave of Millennials and women to show up, which could flip both State and Federal offices.

So tweet away, Mr President, tweet away!

Reply 424 Recommended

NYT Pick
Douglas Evans San Francisco 12 hours ago
The title of this article belies a fundamental misunderstanding of our system of government. The President has immunity from prosecution in order to maintain a separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive branches. It takes an act of the legislative branch to revoke that immunity. That’s called “impeachment.” A trial (“prosecution”) necessarily follows, in the Senate with the Chief Justice presiding. If convicted, the President is removed from office and may be sentenced for his offenses.

In other words, it’s not either/or, it’s impeachment => prosecution.

Reply 329 Recommended
Julie Sattazahn Playa del Rey, CA 12 hours ago
The founders clearly never imagined a president who lies like he breathes, enriches his businesses while in office and is a con artist. They also didn’t factor in a Congress with no scruples about this.
It’s not a question of one political party/ideology vs another.
It’s basic decency and love of our country vs the blatant opposite, happening before our eyes.

Reply 305 Recommended

Richard Luettgen is a trusted commenter New Jersey 12 hours ago
The authors really argue for doing nothing at all. Now, I admit that I have some sympathy for that argument, but I don’t like to have my intelligence insulted.

They argue fastidiously for not seeking an indictment, preferring impeachment of Trump. You can almost smell the legal wood burning in capacious brains as they expound their arguments. But the truth is that this House has absolutely no political incentive to impeach Donald Trump, and this Senate no political incentive to convict him on impeachment articles. So, if you buy the author of waterboarding’s legal justification that an indictment can’t happen, and you recognize that, absent a smoking gun proving that Trump IS the Grinch that stole Christmas, Congress will NOT impeach and remove Trump … then you’re really arguing for doing nothing.

But I suppose that Democrats can always seek to waterboard Trump – because Mr. Yoo told us it’s lawful.

297 Recommended

Time to Talk Impeachment – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“A few weeks ago, I read a short new book by the legal scholar Cass Sunstein titled, simply, “Impeachment.” The book doesn’t mention President Trump once. Sunstein started writing it, he told me, partly because he was alarmed by what he considered reckless talk of impeachment during Trump’s first weeks on the job, before he had started doing much.

Sunstein’s goal was to lay out a legal and historical framework for thinking about impeachment, independent of any specific president. I’ve been thinking about the topic a lot since finishing the book, and I want to recommend both Sunstein’s book and a Vox piece published this morning by Ezra Klein.

To be clear, I think it would be a mistake for Democrats to put much energy into impeachment right now, because it’s not going to happen: Republicans control Congress and show no interest.But I also think it would be a mistake for Americans — regardless of party — to be in denial about the governing crisis our country is facing. Let’s admit it: Trump is behaving in ways that call for serious talk of impeachment. If you read Sunstein’s careful history of impeachment — of when the founders believed it was appropriate and necessary — I expect you will come to the same conclusion.”

What Congressmen Are Hiding – The New York Times

“As charges of sexual harassment and assault swept from Hollywood to Washington, Congress has faced questions about how it addresses such claims. The answer: terribly.

For two decades, taxpayers have been underwriting secret payments to people who accuse lawmakers of sexual misconduct under a 1995 law called, paradoxically, the Congressional Accountability Act. The legislation applied to Congress many laws on workplace safety, employment and civil rights from which it had been exempt. In the process, it established an account to pay settlements, which prevented lawmakers from being personally liable, and created an Office of Compliance that kept charges and payments secret.

After public pressure, the Office of Compliance released a tally of the settlements this month: Between 1997 and the present, the office has paid more than $17 million on more than 260 claims. In keeping with Congress’s maddening lack of transparency, the tally lumps harassment with discrimination and other claims, so the number of harassment claims isn’t clear. It also doesn’t name any of those accused.”

DL: Yuck. Yuck. Thank you for the editorial. There were many good comments also, the most popular being:

Dandy Maine 13 hours ago
We would all want to know which Representatives and Senators were accused of sexual misconduct. Why should we tax payers help cover this up?

Reply 155 Recommended

ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 13 hours ago
And to think they’re about to pass a huge tax give-away to the wealthy while stiffing us working stiffs.

They should get their house in order, and pay the $17 million back to the US treasury before even thinking of passing tax “reform’.

It’s the ultimate irony that what they did to their victims they’re doing to us, with one exception: we won’t receive any hush money collected on the average taxpayer’s dime.

Reply 130 Recommended

c ny 13 hours ago
Disgusting, isn’t it?

We, taxpayers, foot the bill whether we agree or not.
Long past time the public knows who we are subsidizing, and time to stop making ANY person not accountable for his or her actions. In Congress or not.

Start with the White House occupant. He should be accountable too.

Reply 107 Recommended

NYT Pick
N. Eichler CA 3 hours ago
I would like those members of Congress for whom settlements have been paid to be named including, as well, the dates of their transgressions. Furthermore, each of these members of Congress must repay the Treasury the amount of the original settlement. Any future such acts of thoughtless idiocy must be made public, and settlements paid by the transgressor not the taxpayer.

None of my taxpayer dollars are to be used by these miscreants allowing them to remain anonymous. I expect those dollars to be used for medical coverage, to increase teachers’ salaries, build more schools, maintain roads and bridges,
make certain we have clean air and water.

Those dollars are to benefit our country and its citizens and not men who refuse to understand the limits of familiarity.

Reply 101
Recommended

NYT Pick
Bob Bascelli Seaford NY 3 hours ago
Jack and Jill went up the Hill. Jill came down and is required to undergo counseling, mediation and a 30-day “cooling off period” before filing a formal complaint of sexual misconduct. This is victim intimidation, plain and simple. Sexual misconduct by the “Fools on the Hill” is a national disgrace. If lawmakers need “mandatory training in appropriate behavior toward their staff” in order to avoid misconduct, how can they be competent enough to be our representatives? Why does Jill need a 30 day cooling off period when it is Jack who needs the cooling off?

Reply 88 Recommended

How a Radio Shack Robbery Could Spur a New Era in Digital Privacy

“WASHINGTON — The case that could transform privacy law in the digital era began with the armed robbery of a Radio Shack store in Detroit, a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2010. In the next three months, eight more stores in Michigan and Ohio were robbed at gunpoint.

The robbers took bags filled with smartphones. Their own phones would help send them to prison.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether prosecutors violated the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches, by collecting vast amounts of data from cellphone companies showing the movements of the man they say organized most of the robberies.

Experts in privacy law said the case, Carpenter v. United States, No. 16-402, was a potential blockbuster.

“Carpenter could be the most important electronic privacy case of the 21st century,” said Jeffrey Rosen, the president of the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit group devoted to educating the public about the Constitution.

In a pair of recent decisions, the Supreme Court expressed discomfort with allowing unlimited government access to digital data. It limited the ability of the police to use GPS devices to track suspects’ movements, and it required a warrant to search cellphones.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Interesting story. My first reaction is that the court has to allow this criminal to go to jail, while clarifying that going forward, the government needs to get a search warrant to look into the digital fingerprints we leave by using cell phones and other digital devices, to protect the general public from governmental over reach.