White People

(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….

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Justice Ginsburg: a full-service wedding provider.

Ed. note: We’ll return to our normal publication schedule on Monday, December 2. We hope to see you at our holiday happy hour on Thursday, December 5 — for details and to RSVP (to this free event with an open bar), click here.

* Even in a post-nuclear world, Republicans can still block certain judicial nominees. [New York Times]

* A prominent Toronto lawyer has gone missing — and so, allegedly, has $3 million in client trust funds. [Toronto Star]

* Dewey see legal fees in the future for Stephen DiCarmine and Joel Sanders? Well, multimillion-dollar lawsuits won’t dismiss themselves. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.); Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Congratulations to Matthew Layton, the new managing partner of Clifford Chance. [The Lawyer]

* And congratulations to Ralph Pellecchio and Jim Wernz, who were married by none other than Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who even helped them write their vows. [Talking Points Memo]

Harry Potter: guilty!

* Sure, let’s have the whole “is now a good time to go to law school?” debate again. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Especially if you’re a minority, since white people are losing interest in law school. [Am Law Daily]

* Congress can’t even get its act together about real guns, so perhaps it’s no surprise that limits on fake guns are set to expire soon. [New York Times]

* Harry Potter was convicted of obstruction of justice. Just because you’re a wizard doesn’t mean you’re above the law. [Daily Utah Chronicle]

Target’s idea of a Mexican employee.

I just got back from visiting my family in Indiana. While I was out there, I was reminded that while “Naptown” is actually fairly diverse in terms of color, it’s shockingly devoid of religious diversity. There aren’t a lot of Jews in Indianapolis. When I lived in Indy (for 13 months and nine days… not that I was counting), it struck me that people would believe pretty much any Eric Cartman-level stereotype about Jewish people. They all wore pouches with gold coins around their necks? Why not! My classmates would believe almost anything I said about Jewish people — since I was from New York, which is apparently a Zionist capital city. (They’d also believe almost anything I said about living in New York, like “there are underground cites in the subway tunnels” and “radiation levels are higher” there.)

So, here’s a question: would it have been “offensive” if my high school had “Jewish sensitivity day,” and class was all about dispelling really stupid and offensive myths about Jewish people? “Here, class, is a Jewish-American. As we can clearly see, there are no hooves or horns.”

Now, I think the answer to my question is, “Yes! Clearly! It would have been horribly offensive.” But on the other hand, people can be really, really stupid about cultures they haven’t been exposed to.

This question is going to face a California court thanks to a discrimination lawsuit filed by three Hispanic employees at Target. The employees claim, and Target admits, to keeping a list of “minority tips” that’s crazy offensive. But I don’t know, depending on how dumb the white people were that worked at Target, maybe they needed this kind of remedial help?

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If you want to see something really racist, check out what her lawyers are saying.

Look, I think the Paula Deen controversy is more theater than news. The only people who need the information that there are still white people in the South who are horribly racist are John Roberts and his band of conservatives. Deen is awful, but I don’t have a lot of spare outrage to waste on a television fry cook.

There is, however, a really interesting and novel legal argument being launched by Paula Deen and her attorneys. I think the argument is arguably just as racist as anything Deen actually said, but that doesn’t mean it’s legally incorrect. Deen’s lawyers are saying that white people, namely the white plaintiff suing Paula Deen, don’t have standing to claim a “hostile work environment” if all Deen did was run around saying awful things about non-whites.

And her lawyers are now using the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, as the basis for their objections…

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Remember David T. Shulick, the Philadelphia lawyer who filed a colorful case that we recently named a Lawsuit of the Day? After his luxury vacation was ruined, Shulick sued two airlines, alleging (among other things) that a sassy baggage agent referred to his wife as a “honkey.”

Well, David Shulick — “a nationally and locally recognized attorney,” according to his website, which also shows photos of him with famous people (like Barack Obama) — is back in the news….

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I would still trust Judge Wapner.

It feels like I receive at least one email a week from a pissed-off white male. I feel like everywhere I look there is some white person whining, complaining, playing the “victim” card, and moaning about how difficult things are for a white person nowadays. I’m telling you, if white males have to live under a non-white male president for another four years, Ted Nugent is going to start writing spirituals.

Sometimes I respond to these “white plight” emails. Sometimes I get into passionate debates with people. Never do I sit back and say, “Man, white men really are getting screwed on this issue. White power!” I mean, at the end of the day the playing field still ridiculously favors white males. Sometimes white men can’t see it, just like sometimes you can’t tell that the Earth is curved when you’re standing on the ground. But if you look up — and do some math — it’s pretty obvious we live on a sphere, and it’s pretty obvious we live in a society that favors white males.

But I am… open-minded. And my mind was blown wide open when I read a blog post on Just Enrichment about the paucity of white male judges as fictional characters. Without having the resources to do a full-scale survey of every movie or television character in the past twenty years, this guy makes a compelling point that white males are disfavored when it comes to portraying impartial justice.

And I think this guy — Adam Chandler, a 3L at Yale Law School — is absolutely right….

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There is this automatic assumption in any legal environment that Asians will have a particular talent for bitter labor. There was this weird self-selection where the Asians would migrate toward the most brutal part of the labor…. White people have this instinct that is really important: to give off the impression that they’re only going to do the really important work. You’re a quarterback. It’s a kind of arrogance that Asians are trained not to have.

Tim Wu, Columbia law professor and author of The Master Switch, quoted in a very interesting New York magazine piece by Wesley Yang, Paper Tigers: What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?

It doesn't help that Rich Whitney kind of looks like a Rich Whitey.

Sometimes, typos matter — a lot. We’ve seen typos get law firms into all kinds of trouble. And now a typo might ruin the already slim gubernatorial chances of a Green Party candidate.

Running on the Green Party line, Rich Whitney wasn’t likely to become the next Governor of Illinois anyway. But an error at the Chicago Board of Elections will cause Whitney’s name to be misspelled as “Whitey” on some touch screen ballots this November. Of the 23 wards affected by this typo, half of them are in largely African-American districts. And the error cannot not be fixed in time for Election Day.

So yeah, black people in Chicago will be able to vote for “Rich Whitey” this fall.

You remember that scene in Die Hard With a Vengeance where Bruce Willis has to stand in the middle of Harlem while wearing an offensive sandwich board? Things are going to turn out marginally better for Rich Whitney, but clearly Whitney would have been better off changing his last name to “not the whiteman’s bitch.” Or even “Kill Whitey,” as Juggalo Law suggests…

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If you spend any time around criminal defense lawyers, progressive lawyers, or people in a black barber shop, you’ll hear the claim that African-American criminal defendants receive harsher sentences than their white counterparts. People have done studies about this, people have written reports about this, people have held conferences about this institutional expression of discrimination.

Rarely do we see anybody trying to do anything about it. There are many reasons this fundamental unfairness persists, but only one of those reasons makes any sense: at the end of the day, nobody wants to be more lenient on a convicted criminal just because that criminal is black. And nobody wants to be more harsh towards a white criminal just because he’s white. So while we have these wide variations in sentencing outcomes, judges can’t re-balance the system from the bench. They have to sentence the criminal in front of them.

But that doesn’t mean judges are blind to the racial injustice of the system. And it doesn’t mean that judges can’t do what they have to in order to make sure that a particular punishment fits the crime.

I’m sure that Judge Joseph Williams of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, will be making all of those arguments shortly. Because he just threw out a plea on the grounds that the prosecutor had been too lenient on the young criminal, just because the criminal is white.

And to be clear, this wasn’t a passing or offhand remark from Judge Williams. Instead, he really laid into the prosecutor in this case…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Rejects Plea Deal as Something ‘That Only Goes to White Boys’”

* I’ll bite: I think a tanning tax is racist. It’s textbook disparate impact. African-Americans have been through enough; we shouldn’t be forced to look at pasty-faced white people all winter. [Concurring Opinions]

* DWI fines are so expensive drunk drivers can’t pay them, so a Texas state senator suggests repealing the law. The things that pass for logic down there are amazing. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Arizona Governor Jan Brewer finds a way to blame Mexico for everything. [Color Lines]

* Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the solution to police budget cuts is to make sure it’s easier for people to carry around concealed handguns. D’uh. When they’re not enough cops you absolutely need people walking around armed to the teeth. Don’t you know that safety smells like hot lead and fresh blood? [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Court orders joint custody … of a Lhasa Apso. I have a Lhasa Apso, and I’m pretty sure my wife only puts up with me so she can see the dog. [ABA Journal]

* This is a pretty interesting way of looking at the LeBron coverage. [Breaking Media]

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