Racism

Kim Kardashian

* First things first, she’s the realest: In light of the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri, of course Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged that we have a “real racial problem” in America. [National Law Journal]

* Cooley Law has experienced legal troubles over its job stats for the past few years, and a great deal of it has been handled by Miller Canfield. It raked in almost $1M from the school from 2011 to 2012. [Am Law Daily]

* Yesterday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional. The latest opinion is one of nineteen in favor of marriage equality. The decision was stayed, but yay for Flori-duh! [CNN]

* Half of Concordia Law’s third-year class will not be returning to school this fall because they’d rather wait to receive word on whether the school will be accredited than waste more of their time there. [Boise State Public Radio]

* Thanks to JudgmentMarketplace.com, a dentist was finally able to collect on a a years-old default judgment against Kim Kardashian — but only because a lawyer bought it from him. [WSJ Law Blog]

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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Listen closely. Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of gun rights advocates emitting a yawning silence over the death of Michael Brown. An unarmed teen was shot dead in the street, sparking a national controversy. In any other situation like that, the Second Amendment nuts would be telling us that perhaps the victim could have “defended himself” if he had a gun.

In other news, citizens’ constitutional rights are being abridged by state actors. The Second Amendment is there, at least in part, so that ordinary citizens may defend themselves should the state unlawfully abridge constitutional rights… so the story goes. If the Feds were trying to bring medicine into an episode of Doomsday Preppers, gun nuts would be talking about their rights to a well armed militia. In Ferguson, the government is arresting journalists, and not a peep for those who think the Second Amendment is necessary to give citizens the ability to defend their constitutional rights. The Daily Beast called out the NRA today. This is the kind of situation the NRA usually politicizes to full effect….

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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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Some Biglaw firms put on variety shows and have associates sing, dance, and act out lame sketch comedy. It’s all about associates demeaning themselves for the amusement of partners in new and more interesting ways. And I guess it’s supposed to engender some kind of camaraderie, though it’s not clear how.

But sketch comedy can go horribly wrong. Like, any time a white guy shows up in blackface.

That’s a problem. And yet this Biglaw firm doesn’t seem to understand why….

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* Proximate cause and the Incredible Hulk. Whatever, everyone knows Kirby was the real brains behind Palsgraf. [The Legal Geeks]

* Someone is having fun with their RFAs: Admit… that we are going to whip the dog piss out of you. We were specifically chided: “please don’t say ‘only in Arkansas,’” so we won’t. You should feel free to say exactly that though. [Hawg Law Blog]

* Not really surprising, but patent trolling is the worst it has ever been. I’ll sit here and wait for the New York Times to blame millennials. [io9]

* The most important Supreme Court decision you’ve never heard of! Well, except I have heard of it. In fact, there was a year-long college debate topic about it. But it’s still important. [Washington Post]

* What’s the appropriate sentence for having a dog off a leash? Confining the guy to a seven-county area? [LA Weekly]

* Things to do in Denver when you’re a lawyer: allegedly scam a few million off a client. [Denver Post]

* Meet the lawyer who came up with the quirky reading that got the D.C. Circuit to temporarily derail Obamacare. [Wall Street Journal]

* Meanwhile, this title says it all about Halbig: “Well, Conjecture, Tendentious Misreadings, and Cherry Picking Are Kinds of Evidence.” Pour a little out for Lionel Hutz. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Everyday we (the ABA) hustlin’. [Law and More]

Hurry up, you don’t have much time.

* A company has limited bathroom breaks to 6 minutes daily. Well, gutting pensions and suppressing wages hasn’t caused a revolution, why not let it ride? [Slate]

* A Florida town has imposed criminal sanctions against sagging pants. But Chief Justice Roberts told me racism was over in the South… [Fashionista]

* Who says crime doesn’t pay? [CBS News]

* Mayer Brown wants you to think the Supreme Court wasn’t tilted toward business interests this Term. Yes, we all know how Homer City turned out, but maybe it’s worth evaluating this based on how important the cases were. Is Petrella really equivalent to Noel Canning? [Mayer Brown]

* Not one, but two former Utah Attorneys General charged with corruption. [Deseret News]

* The CFPB brought suit against a debt collection lawsuit mill. A working CFPB. One more great thing we used to get from recess appointments. Thanks Breyer. [CFPB]

* Oh no. A law school tuition Kickstarter. [Kickstarter]

* New York tried to help homeowners facing foreclosure. Unfortunately, the law didn’t create a remedy if the banks refused to follow the law. Well, it was our fault for thinking Albany could do something right. [WiseLaw NY]

The world of specialty license plates is a complicated intersection of private douchebaggery and governmental robbery. Why do we even have to pay for a license and registration? The government shouldn’t be jacking people with a hidden tax — a hidden regressive tax that hits poor people harder than the rich — for the “privilege” of complying with the government’s own requirements.

Meanwhile, if the car is an outward, rolling expression of your inner self, then the vanity license plate is the part of yourself that is an ass. The level of narcissism it takes to tell people stuck behind you on the Major Deegan that you “LVB00B$” is astounding.

The government should either get out of the charge-for-plates business, OR they should give everybody the same freedom you get when you sign up for Gmail. If Nigerian princes can find me over email easily enough, then surely the state trooper can run “em1@NYS” when he pulls me over.

Otherwise, we end up with Texas…

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