Spanning the globe
First, let's update some stuff. Earlier this week, I wrote about Cully Stimson, the Pentagon official who'd suggested a boycott for law firms doing pro bono work for the Guantanomo detainees. Stimson issued a formal mea culpa a couple of days ago, acknowledging that his comments "left the impression that I question the integrity of those engaged in the zealous defense of detainees in Guantanamo." Well, yeah, they left that impression, maybe because that's what he said. Still, the apology was appropriately abject.
And a month or so ago, I did a post on Kathryn Johnston, an 88-year-old Atlanta woman who was gunned down when she opened fire on police who were conducting a drug raid on her house. I mentioned at the time that the informant who supposedly provided the information that served as the basis for the warrant for the raid claimed that he'd never bought drugs at that house, and that the police had told him to lie and say that he did after the shooting. Turns out that may be true, at least according to reports of what one of the officers involved in the raid has told FBI investigators. You can read about it here.
Another raid that went awry, albeit not with such tragic consequences, is recounted in this decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last November, upholding an award of $138,000 against three Tacoma, Washington policemen. There's some argument that the possibility of damage awards is a more adequate deterrent to police violations of the Fourth Amendment than the exclusionary rule; I don't buy it, but it most probably worked that way in this case. Here are the basics from the first paragraph of the court's opinion:
The facts are remarkable. Plaintiff, Susan Frunz, and her two guests were in Frunz's home in Tacoma, Washington, when police surrounded the house, broke down the back door and entered. The police had no warrant and had not announced their presence. Frunz first became aware of them when an officer accosted her in the kitchen and pointed his gun, bringing the barrel within two inches of her forehead. The police ordered or slammed the occupants to the floor and cuffed their hands behind their backs--Frunz for about an hour, until she proved to their satisfaction that she owned the house, at which time they said "never mind" and left.
One of the more satisfying aspects of the case is that the Court was so bewildered by the fact that the defendants had the temerity to appeal -- "A prompt payment of the verdict, accompanied by a letter of apology from the city fathers and mothers, might have been a more appropriate response to the jury's collective wisdom" -- that they gave them and their counsel fourteen days to show cause why they shouldn't be assessed double costs and attorney fees for filing a frivolous appeal.
Speaking of the 9th Circuit, although I find no problem with this decision, the court does have a reputation for being one of the most-reversed in the country; its nickname among conservatives is the "9th Circus." That reputation may be deserved. Of the 11 decisions handed down so far by the Supreme Court this term, 6 have been 9th Circuit cases. All of have been reversed, 4 unanimously and 1 summarily. The only thing that kept the 5th decision from being unanimous was a dissent by, of all people, Scalia.
Speaking of courts -- and yes, I realize that my segues are getting increasingly tenuous -- check out this motion for continuance in a case in New Orleans. The reason for seeking a delay of the trial?
As this Court knows, the New Orleans Saints will play in the National Football Conference Championship game - the first such game in the franchise's forty-year history - against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Illinois on January 21, 2007 at 2:30 p.m. In order to accommodate all fans, including the great majority of the jury pool, the parties involved in this case, and in order to ensure that a full jury pool appears on the first day of trial, Defendants request that the beginning of trial be pushed back two days to January 24, 2007.
You might want to copy that, so that you can use it when you need a continuance because the Browns are in a championship game. Or, better yet, copy it and put it in a safe place so that your great-great-grandchildren can use it when the occasion arises.
Well, at least you won't be bothered by cigarette smoke while you're at the game, since the Browns have announced that they've prohibited smoking at the stadium because of the passage of the public smoking ban in November. As this post from the Cuyahoga County Law Library's web site shows, though, the ban's implementation has had anything but smooth sailing. Of course, this might be one of those things that only Ohio could screw up this bad.
And speaking of Ohio... Well, we're not. We'll speak of Saudi Arabia instead. A citizen of that country is the hands-down winner of this week's award for Weirdest Google Phrase for someone landing on this site: somebody from Riyahd got here by entering the phrase "briefcase sex." Just a guess, but I'm betting he was disappointed.
See you on Monday.