Florida’s “stand your ground” law has received a lot of attention this week as people struggle to understand how a teenager named Trayvon Martin, armed with Skittles, was gunned down in the street. The FBI, the Justice Department, and a Florida grand jury are now all investigating the incident where Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, claims he was acting in self-defense.
I don’t want to get into the racial aspect of the instant situation — mainly because it’s too obvious. Don’t get me started on what the police would have done if a black man shot a white teenager to death and claimed he was standing his ground. It’s not even worth debating.
But even if race played a role here, it doesn’t mean a prosecutable crime took place. As many now know, that’s because Florida’s “stand your ground” law does not require people to retreat, even if they can do so safely.
Sure, “real men” don’t run. You can’t find a culture on Earth where running away is “honorable.” But in light of what’s happened with these laws on the books, do they really make sense? Is the enforcement of these laws racially prejudiced? Do “stand your ground” laws really just make it open season on black youths who might “scare” prejudiced people who incorrectly think they’re in danger of their lives?
I think so, but at least that’s a position where reasonable people will disagree….
The prosecution has done the charging, but the defense has done the talking. A few weeks ago we told you Gay’s attorney argued that the victim, Robert Kingston, had been hitting on Gay’s girlfriend. Now, the defense has apparently conducted an investigation and found some witnesses who paint a very different picture of what went down before Kingston’s death.
And, not surprisingly, the defense’s investigation is not favorable to the victim…
The fate of Tyler Clementi’s roommate is about to be decided. Dharun Ravi has been charged with a number of counts of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation because of the events surrounding Clementi’s suicide. The verdict is being read on television right now.
Ravi has been found guilty of invasion of privacy.
But not guilty of the top counts of bias intimidation. Wait, no — he’s being found GUILTY of different theories of bias intimidation. Ravi is getting slammed.
There are 15 counts. It seems like Ravi is being found guilty of all the invasion of privacy counts, and guilty of invading Clementi’s privacy in order to intimidate him due Clementi’s sexual orientation.
They’re still reading counts. Ravi has also been found guilty of witness tampering and hindering prosecution.
Man, Ravi should have taken the plea deal. Now he’s going to jail (additional UPDATES after the jump)….
* Who will play starring roles in the Obamacare arguments before SCOTUS? A bunch of older white guys. Good thing this isn’t televised, because the ratings would probably suck. [Legal Times]
* The judiciary is on the cusp of a “financial crisis,” and some trials may be put on hold. That, or they’re just going to get rid of people. Which do you think it’ll be? [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* When rankings like these are available, who cares about U.S. News? Here’s a list of the law schools you should go to if you want to actually make bank as a lawyer. [Forbes]
* Covington & Burling is the latest Biglaw firm to sign up for an office in Seoul. Memo to partners: this is not the spring “bonus” your associates care about. [Capital Business Blog / Washington Post]
* The jury in the Dharun Ravi privacy trial is set to begin its deliberations this morning. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that room — or, more on point, a webcam. [Statehouse Bureau]
* Thomas Puccio, a former Biglaw partner known for his notorious clientele, RIP. [New York Times]
Man, some people got really worked up about about some of the opinions I shared in yesterday’s post about Kenan Gay, the second-year student at Charlotte Law School who has been charged with murdering a man by pushing him out in traffic. (Note to readers: if you don’t like strong opinions, you might want to steer clear of my posts; there are many other writers to read on this fine website.)
People especially took offense to my raising the possibility that the victim, Robert Kingston, might have been a “townie.” When I used the term “townie,” I was referring to the discord you see on some campuses between the student population and the population of people who live in the town on a full-time basis.
But I guess a lot of you college-educated types also like to impose your own class and educational prejudices on townies. So many of you emailed me to tell me about Kingston’s education and socioeconomic status, it’s as if you think that holding a college degree and a good job absolves you of the “townie” distinction. To that I can only hope that you keep your uppity, educated asses out of my local bar. Nobody wants to hear about what you just learned in your comparative trust-fund psychology class when we’re out for an after-work drink.
Anyway, I’d like to move beyond Towniegate to discuss some actual allegations about Kingston. But first I’d like to share the quasi-death threat I received from a so-called friend of Kingston, just so everybody has a suspect in case I’m found on FDR miles away from a Taco Bell…
They say campus security starts in the admissions office, but no admissions committee can truly screen out all of the bad apples.
The community at Charlotte School of Law (not to be confused with UNC-Charlotte) is in a state of shock. A current student there was charged with murder following a bar fight.
We’re not even talking about one of those tragic “eggshell victim” situations, where the alleged attacker lands a punch that would cause a normal person to have a hurt jaw but causes the alleged victim to have a life-threatening embolism. Unless you consider not being able to survive being hit by a BMW to be “eggshell.”
I met Andrew Breitbart three weeks ago. We both were on a Huckabee Show panel that subsequently got bumped when news of Whitney Houston’s death broke. I’m not terribly sorry, it wasn’t one of my best. But the chemistry between us was pretty good, off-camera at least. After the show I texted him and he said we should try to set up a debate again.
Now he’s dead, and it’s all pretty shocking to me because four weeks ago, Andrew Breitbart would have been in the running for people I would be least concerned about if they happened to die. And it’s not like I had any kind of political conversion, and I don’t have a particular soft spot for saying nice things about dead people just because they died.
So why in the hell am I about to say something nice-ish about Andrew Breitbart?
With Murdoch gone, British media can return to doing what it does best.
* A federal judge tossed out a law requiring tobacco companies to put graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. If paying $7 a pack doesn’t stop you from buying smokes, I don’t think nasty photos will either. [CNN]
* SCOTUS won’t deal with Arizona’s controversial immigration law for a couple months, but the Eleventh Circuit will hear oral arguments about Alabama’s even stricter law today. But why would you immigrate to Alabama, of all places? Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* The Seventh Circuit ruled that police can search a cellphone for its number without a warrant. Judge Richard Posner compared it to law enforcement’s ability to open a pocket diary and copy the owner’s address. The bigger question is: do drug dealers keep diaries? [Wall Street Journal]
* James Murdoch, the News Corp. heir apparent, has resigned in the wake of the News of the World scandal and related lawsuits. Now everyone can just go back to reading British tabloids for the Page Three Girls. [Los Angeles Times]
* RIP Lynn D. “Buck” Compton, the prosecutor who secured a conviction of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, and the Army paratrooper portrayed in the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.” [Washington Post]
Last night, a dramatic scene unfolded in the parking lot of a movie theater. A suspected drunk driver allegedly took off without his headlights on, hit two police cruisers, terrified several witnesses, and then slammed his car into a tree. The driver was killed.
“It was coming straight towards us and I didn’t know if he was going to stop or what he was doing,” said one witness. “He was going 70, 80 miles an hour. It was scary.”
The driver of the vehicle was a young lawyer, an associate at a law firm. He graduated not too long ago from a leading law school….
* It’s hard to get a mortgage if you have a lot of student debt, even if you make a lot of money. Who needs a house anyway? Your advanced degree will keep you warm. [BusinessWeek]
* A civil trial over BP’s Gulf Oil spill was supposed to start today, but it was postponed at the last minute. Is it just me or does it smell like settlement in here? [New York Times]
* As if anyone needed another reason to never take a Carnival Cruise…. [CNN]
* The Catholic Church just couldn’t handle sharing its ignominious spotlight with Penn State any longer. Attorneys allege that the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, former Archbishop of Philadelphia, destroyed a list of 35 active priests accused of child sexual abuse. [Washington Post]
* Some movie with no sound, color, explosions, or giant robots won a bunch of Academy Awards last night. I can’t say I care too much. Here’s a rundown of some classic cine con lawyers instead. [ABA Journal]
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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