“What I said was terrible, mean and downright stupid…. I wasn’t trying to scare anyone, I was trying to be witty and sarcastic. I failed and I was arrested.”
– Justin Carter, in a letter to District Judge Jack Robison
On February 14, in New Braunfels, Texas, Justin Carter was arrested on terroristic threat charges. Carter, then age 18, had been posting on a Facebook page for the game League of Legends. When a friend called Carter crazy, Carter allegedly volleyed back that, yeah, he was messed up in the head and that he was going to “shoot up a kindergarten, watch the blood rain down and eat the beating heart out of one of them.” A Canadian woman who viewed the comment reported Carter to law enforcement officials.
Carter’s father insists that his son immediately followed his first Facebook comment with “LOL” and “JK,” clear indications that Carter was . . . laughing out loud and joking when he wrote. Lest you think that explicitly stating that you are joking is enough to insulate your comments from criminal liability, Justin Carter was arrested, then charged by the Comal County Criminal District Attorney. In Comal County, txtspk cannot save you….
* From the White House to the ivory tower: Cass Sunstein is leaving OIRA to return to Harvard Law. Perhaps his thoughts on behavioral economics and public policy will be appreciated in academia. [New York Times]
* Jared Loughner is reportedly set to plead guilty in the Arizona shooting attack that killed six people, including Judge John Roll, and injured 13, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. [Los Angeles Times]
* Lance Armstrong is going for the gold against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, this time with a bid to Judge Sam Sparks for a restraining order blocking the USADA from forcing the cyclist into binding arbitration. [Bloomberg]
* “[T]his is not the time for us to become an international accrediting agency.” The ABA will remain a faulty U.S. accrediting agency, because the Legal Ed Section voted against accrediting foreign law schools. [ABA Journal]
* Apparently Texas Tech Law has more than beauty queens. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has appointed dean emeritus and current law professor Walter Huffman to the new Defense Legal Policy Board. [KCBD 11]
* Remember Joshua Gomes, the UVA Law student who allegedly broke into the school’s registrar office? As it turns out, there’s no more “allegedly” about it. We’ll likely have more on this news later today. [Daily Progress]
* Law school graduates’ tales of woe are still making headlines in newspapers. Please take heed, 0Ls, and remember that you decided to discount this info if you’re told that you “should have known better.” [Oregonian]
* If you want to eat mor chikin but the thought of supporting Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay marriage is giving you indigestion, now you can eat your fill with the assistance of Ted Frank’s chicken offsets. [Huffington Post]
As many of you know, one of our running features here at Above the Law is Lawyer of the Day. We don’t literally name one every day, but we like to keep you informed of the famous and infamous lawyers of the world. At the end of the year, we give you guys an opportunity to vote for a Lawyer of the Year.
Apparently you guys like to vote on lawyers, so why limit the experience to once a year? Above the Law has decided to let you crown a lawyer every month. We’ll pick the nominees (going forward, feel free to submit nominees to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you’ll vote for the most deserving. There are no specific criteria — just vote for the lawyer or lawyers you think most deserve the title.
Investigators looking at surveillance footage from the Tucson attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords say that Chief Judge John Roll died a hero. According to the New York Times, the video shows that Judge Roll apparently died while helping to save the life of Ronald Barber, a Giffords staffer. Barber, who was shot twice while standing near Congresswoman Giffords, survived the attack and has since left the hospital.
The descriptions of Judge Roll’s actions during the shooting are amazing…
What is not thought of or talked about relative to these threats and follow-up protection is the effect on a judge’s ability to think about the cases and the law. With gun toting Deputy Marshals, good people all, within arm’s reach, it’s pretty hard to think about anything other than security. The whole experience is very distracting and the public suffers in the sense that the judge can’t do his/her best in such circumstances.
— a federal trial judge, commenting to Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic about how judges have been affected by the recent killing of Chief Judge John Roll (D. Ariz.).
I’m on record as thinking that it’s inappropriate to blame Sarah Palin or any other source of fiery political rhetoric for the horrific shooting that took place in Tucson on Saturday. I said it in real time as facts were coming to light; I said it on Twitter.
There are any number of reasons why psychos like Jared Lee Loughner try to kill people. I don’t think political rhetoric is a useful reason to focus on. The long view of history shows that crazy people will twist any number of words into an excuse for violence.
You can’t talk to crazy. You can’t reason with crazy. You can’t know what crazy will do to your words. I mean, people have used the words of Jesus Christ (a hippie pacifist who hung out with prostitutes and lepers) as a call to violence, bigotry, and hate. If Jesus can’t craft an ironclad message that defies misinterpretation, how can we say that Sarah Palin somehow created a culture of violence? Sorry, but I refuse to live in a world where the rhetorical skills of Sarah Palin explain anything.
Instead, I’d like to blame a much more obvious culprit…
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