Police

* Here’s the international sign for “don’t urinate in public.” Glad to know we needed a sign for this. [National Review]

* An illegal hostile work environment is created when coworkers wear confederate flag T-shirts. Because… obviously it is. Professor Volokh thinks this is unconstitutional. Apparently a document drafted by white slaveholders is set up to protect “broadcasting to black people that they should still be enslaved.” Because… obviously it is. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Police accidentally killed a crew member for the TV show “Cops” while foiling a robbery. That’s just shocking… the fact that “Cops” is still on the air. [Associated Press via ABC News]

* Practice pointer: Get in the practice of writing non-clients to tell them that they are not, in fact, your clients. People can be crazy stalkers out there and you need to protect your practice. [What About Clients]

* Scheduling trials is like playing musical chairs. Except no matter when the music stops someone’s probably getting screwed. [Katz Justice]

* It turns out that lawyers have a hard time talking to clients about overdue bills. As a lawyer who has literally had state troopers impound a client’s private jet, I don’t understand this. But here are the results of a comprehensive survey on the subject. [Lexis-Nexis]

* If you’re interested in how the “justice gap” functions overseas, here’s a report from the Legal Services Board in the UK. [Red Brick Solutions]

* A Texas man, David Barajas, was acquitted of shooting and killing a drunk driver who had killed the man’s sons. The defense argued that Barajas didn’t kill the guy and that there was little physical evidence tying Barajas to the killing. Atlanta news (specifically WSB-TV) may not quite understand the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing. Pic after the jump [via Twitter]:

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* Dean Chemerinsky lays out how the Supreme Court is protecting local corruption. It’s what the Framers would have intended. [New York Times]

* In response to the latest article from Professor Michael Krauss, a former student suggests that maybe the so-called “justice gap” is a good thing. It kind of comes down to how much you believe in the efficiency value of the “American Rule.” [That's My Argument]

* The eternal question for female lawyers: do you dye your hair or embrace the gray? [Gray Hair]

* Boston’s drivers suck. [The Faculty Lounge]

* A well-written tribute to a Nashville civil rights lawyer. [Nashville Scene]

* This seems like a place to remind people that David’s going to Houston next month. [Above the Law]

* Here’s a new game to check out. It’s a twisted dirty word game called F**ktionary (affiliate link), so obviously it was made by a lawyer. It’s kind of like Cards Against Humanity meets Scattergories, which is just as fun as it sounds. The promo is after the jump….

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Burger King bounty for Biglaw.

* Judge Posner dished out a whole lot of benchslaps at yesterday’s Seventh Circuit arguments over Indiana and Wisconsin’s bans on same-sex marriage. [BuzzFeed]

* Major U.S. and Canadian law firms chow down on Burger King’s whopper of a deal with Tim Hortons. [Am Law Daily]

* A recent Delaware court ruling on attorney-client privilege might allow in-house lawyers to speak more freely about wrongdoing at their companies, according to Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The corruption trial of former Virginia governor continues; yesterday Bob McDonnell’s sister took the stand. [Washington Post]

* A favorable evidentiary ruling for Aaron Hernandez. [Fox Sports]

* And good news for Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, the two law professors running for governor and lieutenant governor of New York: the Times dissed their opponent, Andrew Cuomo, with a non-endorsement. [New York Times]

* I recently spoke with one of my cousins Joao Atienza of the Cebu Sun Star, about Above the Law and the world of legal blogging. [Cebu Sun Star]

In Ferguson, Missouri, outrage over the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown roils on.  Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson yesterday, promising Brown’s family and the concerned public that a federal investigation would ensure justice.  If Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Brown, willfully deprived the young black man of his constitutional rights to be free from unlawful deadly force, Wilson could be convicted under federal civil rights law, in addition to any possible state charges.

Much of the outrage over Brown’s death is rooted in the belief that Wilson responded to Michael Brown as he did because of Brown’s race.  The case calls up a painful history of racist white men murdering black men under color of law.  I don’t dispute the existence of that history, and I humbly acknowledge that, as a white woman, I will never feel the same pain associated with that history that black men and women will.  Even so, I wonder about what in this particular case leads so many observers to conclude that racism obviously caused Wilson to shoot and kill Brown — not simply to conclude that Wilson was unjustified in his use of force for non-race-based reasons, or to be suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the use of force.

How could we distinguish a set of facts where a white police officer improperly kills a black teenager without racial bias from one where a white officer improperly kills a black teenager because of racial bias?  Do we have a picture of criminal violence by a white officer against a black teenager that is wrong, but not wrong for any reasons that involve race?

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Facts enjoy mythical stature in our society. In a diverse community with many competing and often conflicting views, facts ring out with a promise of objective clarity. You are entitled to your opinions, but not your own facts. I’m sure you’ve said that/had that said to you.

Facts are bullshit. A skilled lawyer can turn a competent eyewitness into a blathering idiot. A skilled rhetorician can make facts dance on strings for the amusement of the masses. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. Fact.

Truly objective facts are few and far between. Evolution is what happened. Annie is not okay. Light travels at 299,792,458 meters per second. Much beyond that, who can say? People like to say, “Let’s wait for all the facts to come out.” What they are really saying is, “Let’s wait for additional information that I can fit into my preconceived world view.” There have been studies about this. If a “fact” doesn’t fit into a person’s standing world view, that fact is likely to be ignored and have no impact on the person’s judgment.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the video of Kajieme Powell getting shot to death in St. Louis. You’ll remember Powell as the alleged “knife wielding” crazy man who seemed to be trying to commit suicide by cop when St. Louis PD eagerly obliged. Tell me what you see…

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* Full, fair, and independent: In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed, Attorney General Eric Holder promised “robust action” in Ferguson, Mo., in light of Michael Brown’s killing. [National Law Journal]

* Biglaw firms have taken notice of the crowdfunding scene, and some have started up their own practice groups dedicated to the cause. Goodwin Procter just got in on the ground floor. [Crowdfund Insider]

* Who will be honored with induction to the American Lawyer’s Legal Hall of Fame in 2014? Take a look at a list of past winners of the title to see if you can guess which legal luminaries will be next. [Am Law Daily]

* “We are actively investigating. We will not rest until we bring this case to a close.” Police still have no leads or suspects in the tragic murder of FSU Law Professor Dan Markel. Sad. [Tallahassee Democrat]

* Is your fantasy football league legal? Like the answer to all questions of law, it depends. Not for nothing, but we’re willing to bet that you won’t really care if it’s legal if it’s going to impede on your fun. [Forbes]

I would like to throw a brick at a cop in Ferguson. Any cop. All the cops. As a black male, I would like to fight back, violently, against the forces that have hunted me all my life, and will hunt my son all his life.

I’m not going to, but that is because history is not on my side. I no longer give a damn about the moral virtues of non-violence, but recorded history tells us that an oppressed minority population cannot succeed through violence. I don’t have a magic staff that can bring locusts and selectively drain or flood rivers, and without such a weapon, being peaceful out there is the only effective and reasonable option. I have just enough education to understand that, and just enough restraint to practice it. I believe in non-violence because it’s the only thing that works.

Thomas Jefferson has a famous quote about slavery. He was talking about the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the union as a slave state (a fact way more relevant to the current situation than Mike Brown’s alleged shoplifting). On the slavery question, Jefferson offered: “We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.” Everybody remembers that part, but here’s the next line: “Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” Jefferson is talking about justice for the slave, and self-preservation for America.

What America has done since 1820 is to gain self-preservation for itself without granting justice to those it oppressed. It’s been a neat trick. Go ahead, name any “justice” statistic: incarceration rates, conviction rates, homicides, homicides by cop, death penalty rates, drug prosecutions, forced plea bargains, diversity in the police force, diversity on the bench, name ANY JUSTICE STAT YOU CARE ABOUT. You have just named a statistic that illustrates how African-Americans are denied equal justice as compared to white Americans.

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…

“Tear gas?”
“Wait, was that a flash grenade?”
“Oh, now there’s a picture!”
“They arrested journalists… just for being in a McDonald’s?”
“Now the arrested reporters are back online!”

Last night, many of us fixated on our Twitter feeds to follow, in real time, every breaking development in Ferguson, Missouri. The hashtag acted as a latter day, crowdsourced ticker tape keeping those miles away from the town — clear to Gaza — abreast as the peaceful protests brought on a symbolically striking military-style occupation, complete with the use of gas and rubber bullets and the arrest of journalists for performing their constitutionally protected jobs.

That’s what Twitter did that was awesome. Unfortunately, last night also put on display everything awful about Twitter. Everything that people mistake it to be when they set up a handle and broadcast their message to the world in 140 character segments. Others have tackled what Ferguson means in the grand scheme of criminal law and what lawyers should do in response to Ferguson. But there are also lessons to be learned from “#Ferguson” — the cyber place that conveyed the events of Ferguson — and the opinions of casual observers — to the world.

Lessons that all technologically connected lawyers, and frankly everyone, can use….

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Michael Brown, age 18 and a high school graduate, was scheduled to begin college classes on Monday.

He won’t be. He was shot, unarmed with his hands in the air, by police near his apartment on Saturday afternoon. The shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, a mostly black working-class St. Louis suburb of 20,000, has ignited outrage and skepticism of the police’s explanation for the shooting.

As Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told Steve Giegerich of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the shooting took place as her son was walking to his grandmother’s residence.

One witness, Piaget Crenshaw, gave this account to Giegerich:

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Just try telling him to put out his smokes. Not gonna happen.

* Looming legal battle over the confidentiality agreement at the center of lawsuit over which team John Travolta plays for. [Gawker]

* The fallout from yesterday’s Obamacare Appellageddon continues. The D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit are going to have some awkward parties until this gets resolved. [Federal Regulations Advisor]

* Somebody got confused and thought that Stand Your Ground laws applied to protect black people. [News 4 Jax]

* In Louisiana, a justice of the peace is given public money to hire all their staff and buy all their equipment and pay themselves whatever salary they want out of the remainder. One guy had a very clever idea about how to allocate that money and it set off a legal fight. Oh, and apparently the best job in Louisiana is to be a constable. So now you know. [Times-Picayune]

* Do you know the 12 Rules of Client Service? Are you at least ready to fight over them? [What About Clients?]

* Newark police can’t even come up with constitutional excuses for 75 percent of what they do. [Slate]

* Lululemon figured that patent trolls were onto something and patented its clothing designs and aggressively pursues anyone who dares design a tank top with a built-in bra. Who would ever have thought of such an original idea? [Jezebel]

* The University of California is increasing non-resident enrollment for budget reasons. Law schools presumably follow suit. [TaxProf Blog]

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