Sentencing Law

A very Simpsonian sentence.

Boys do not hit girls.

Pacer Anthony Ferguson, 5,000 times, between December 23, 2013 and May 23, 2014. Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced Ferguson to write this phrase on a numbered list as punishment for punching his girlfriend in the face.

(If you recall, Judge Baugh is known for sentencing a convicted rapist to 30 days in jail because the victim looked “older than her chronological age.” Perhaps he’s turned over a new leaf.)

(A stock photo of a teen driver — not actually Ethan Couch.)

I’m sure that by now you’ve all heard the story about the wealthy white teenager who killed four people while drunk driving. As we mentioned in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs, 16-year-old Ethan Couch got off — sentenced to therapy — because the judge agreed that the kid was a victim of “affluenza”: his parents gave him everything he wanted, and he believed that being rich meant that he wouldn’t have to face consequences for his actions.

The kid’s not wrong; the fact that he’s not facing incarceration for killing four people kind of proves the point. A poor white kid would be in jail right now. A rich black kid would be in jail right now. A poor black kid would be picking out items for his last supper right now. Anybody who thinks that this kind of lenience would be given to anybody other than a wealthy white dauphin is wrong and stupid (and probably racist). The rich kid isn’t in jail because rich people don’t suffer the full force of consequences for their actions.

That said… the judge isn’t wrong either. When you have a jerk-off prick of a 16-year-old, as this kid appears to be, it’s probably not his fault. Not really. My outrage isn’t that Couch is getting off, it’s that so many other teens and young people are being incarcerated without this kind of compassion.

Not that there aren’t people who deserve jail time behind this. It’s just that those people are Couch’s parents….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense Of The Rich White Boy Who Killed Four People And Got Away With It”

A Washington Post article this past weekend gave me the willies.  It was about SIGTARP – the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Leave aside that the article hits the tired drum that more people should have gone to prison after the financial crisis – because, of course, the only thing that causes an economic downturn is crime.

Instead, check out how SIGTARP shows us that they’re doing good work as a law enforcement agency.

[Special Inspector General Christy] Romero noted that the average prison sentence imposed by courts for crimes investigated by SIGTARP is five years and nine months — nearly twice the national average for white-collar fraud.

Right – SIGTARP is a serious player because it’s getting serious prison time…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Putting People In Prison To Get To The Cool Kids’ Table”

* Beware of “affluenza” — the condition where rich kids believe that their wealth shields them from consequences. One kid with affluenza was convicted of four counts of manslaughter and got… probation. Great way to teach him that there are consequences. I don’t doubt being a hyper-privileged douche contributed to his criminal behavior, but let’s see if the judge is equally lenient to the next kid in this courtroom who argues that poverty contributed to his crimes. [Gawker]

* In America people complain about law reviews sharing outlines for free. In the U.K., they’re selling notes on eBay. If you’re buying notes off the Internet, perhaps law school isn’t your bag. [Legal Cheek]

* Do Twitter mentions reflect the scholarly significance of a professor’s articles? No. [TaxProf Blog]

* Here’s some terrifying stuff that lawyers want for Christmas. It’s not quite our gift guide. [The Spark File]

* The word “spin” is apparently trademarked. This is the company that did it and enforces its trademark against gyms with uncertified spin classes. [Racked]

* Law school applications are in free fall. Too bad all these people are going to miss out on that sweet $1 million law degree. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Mental health remains a seriously undiscussed problem in the legal industry. [Law and More]

* TSA now confiscating prop guns off stuffed animals. [Lowering the Bar]

* A Chinese law professor lost his job for writing an article advocating constitutional rule. If you think this is a harsh response, remember this government used to throw tanks at people over less. [Washington Post]

* Speaking of China, next month the CBLA is hosting a panel discussion about the expanded use of the FCPA, specifically with regard to China. [CBLA]

* The NSA protests that its spying on foreign leaders was entirely legal. In defense of the NSA, this latest uproar seems misplaced. Warrantless spying on Americans is illegal, but spying on foreign governments is kind of the whole point of the NSA. [Associated Press]

* Judge James Bredar has laid out his thoughts on how sentencing judges should deal with the changing legal landscape surrounding marijuana. This is important because those dumb Guidelines still recommend an enhancement for taking One Toke Over the Line. [Sentencing Law & Policy]

* Should a plagiarizing journalist be allowed to join the ranks of licensed attorneys? Con: His crime suggests low moral character. Pro: He’s going to be a master of boilerplate. [Juice, Justice & Corgis]

* Jones Day is representing pro bono a number of Catholic institutions ticked off that they might have to buy insurance that their workers might, at some point, maybe use to buy birth control pills. It’s a tremendous intrusion upon religious liberty that Catholic institutions routinely did before they decided to make a political spectacle out of it. [National Law Journal]

* A speech to Harvard Law alums about the slow death of free speech at Harvard. By “slow death of free speech” the speaker details how a private, non-governmental institution decided not to tolerate jackassery, but whatever. [Minding the Campus via The Volokh Conspiracy]

* It’s still several months until the ATL Law Revue competition. So to keep you entertained until then, check out this parody of Lorde’s Royals performed by some law students. It looks like it’s the same geniuses from Auckland Law School behind the Blurred Lines parody. Do the Kiwis have time to do actual law school stuff? Video embedded after the jump… [Legal Cheek]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 11.04.13″

You don’t often see federal courts striking down conditions of supervised release as violations of substantive due process. But you don’t often see the federal government wanting to hook up a device to a man’s penis, make the man watch pornography, and see what happens. It sounds a bit… 1984 (affiliate link).

I couldn’t help noticing this opinion, given its unusual nature and its focus on the peen. I’m sure you’re all dying to learn more about the procedure known as “penile plethysmography.” (The good news: it’s not as bad as a penile embolism or penile degloving.)

You know you want to see what those Second Circuit judges are hiding underneath their robes. Let’s dig a little deeper (into the opinion), shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Second Circuit To Feds: Don’t Touch His Junk”

Shon Hopwood

* Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Department of Justice will be declassifying some secret opinions from the FISA Court. We wonder who’ll be hosting the giant redaction party. [Associated Press]

* Morgan Lewis paid out a $1.15 million settlement over unfinished business claims to this defunct firm. Great work, Mr. Diamond, but Howrey going to get the rest to do the same? [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* “[Shon] Hopwood proves that my sentencing instincts suck.” Now that this former bank robber has a clerkship with the D.C. Circuit, the judge who sentenced him is having second thoughts. [The Two-Way / NPR]

* Laptops are useful tools for students in law school classrooms, but they’re also great for checking Above the Law and buying shoes while professors are droning on and on. Apparently we needed a study to confirm this. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* George Zimmerman’s wife filed for divorce, citing “disappointment” as one of her reasons for ending the marriage. Don’t worry, Shellie, half of the nation was disappointed with the verdict too. [Washington Post]

* “The situation is an absolute mess.” Last summer’s SCOTUS decision on mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders has created a “legal limbo” for inmates. We hope they find suitable dance partners. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Even after you retire, you apparently still have to deal with the Cebullsh*t from your life on the bench. Former Chief District Judge Richard Cebull’s misconduct review is likely heading to Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. [Great Falls Tribune]

* Woe unto them that call unpaid work fair: the Second Circuit quickly granted Fox Searchlight an appeal in the Black Swan unpaid intern case in the hope of offering some “much-needed guidance.” [Deadline]

* Which private law schools offer students the best value? Some unlikely contenders are named on this list, and some T14 schools even make appearances. We’ll have more on this later today. [National Jurist]

* GW wasn’t the only school that grew the size of its entering class (although it was the largest increase). William & Mary and Missouri-KC saw big gains, too. Yay, more lawyers! [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* If you’re considering applying to law school, think about schools that have lowered their standards and are offering scholarship money like candy. Otherwise, here are some helpful hints. [Huffington Post]

* Henry Putzel Jr., former reporter of decisions at the Supreme Court, RIP. [Washington Post]

* The NFL has reached a $765 million settlement with the over 4,500 retired concussion victims whose injuries paved the way for the league’s success. [Sports Illustrated]

* Dennis Rodman confidante Kim Jong-un had his ex-girlfriend executed on pornography charges. Kind of puts the whole “revenge porn” thing in perspective. [The Telegraph]

* A lawsuit against Curt Schilling, based on allegations that he deceived the state into giving his company $75 million, will go forward. Like most conservative Republicans, Schilling saw no problem with taking millions in handouts from the government so long as poor people don’t get $4.50 a day for food. [Comcast SportsNet]

* Judge Mark Bennett (N.D. Iowa) ripped the Department of Justice for creating massive drug sentencing disparities because the DOJ went years without a policy for when prosecutors should double the prison time for repeat offenders. In Northern Iowa, that’s a LOT of meth heads in prison. [Des Moines Register]

* Attorneys for the Governor of Pennsylvania equate gay marriage to letting 12-year-olds marry. Just because a demographic calls everything “gay” doesn’t make them gay. [ABA Journal]

* Study shows academics use lots of adjectives and adverbs. This is really a very terrific and awesome study. [TaxProf Blog]

* Polygraphs are inadmissible, but remember invisible jets are A-OK. [Texts from Superheroes]

* REMINDER: OK NYU, Columbia, Fordham, Cardozo, and NYLS students! It’s time to send nominations to us for where you want us to go on the Great Above the Law/Kaplan Bar Review Bar Crawl. Send bar nominations to tips@abovethelaw.com, subject: “Bar Crawl.” See you on September 18th! [Above the Law]

Alan Dershowitz

It’s going to happen the way things always happen at the court. The court will appear to be leading, but it will be following.

– Professor Alan Dershowitz, offering a prediction about how the Supreme Court will eventually kill off the death penalty. The Court effectively suspended the death penalty in 1972 but brought it back in 1976, a story chronicled in a fascinating new book I’m currently reading, Evan Mandery’s A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America (affiliate link).

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