A blog devoted to law, politics, philosophy, & life. Nothing in this blog is to be construed as legal advice.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Hearsay hearings

In California, as well as many other states, the trial court may rely on hearsay statements for their truth in determining whether a defendant shall be held to answer (re: whether there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that it was committed by the defendant). Preliminary hearings are thus a sham. A police officer takes the stand. The police officer relates to the court what witnesses heard, said, smelled, etc. This testimony is offered for the truth of the matter asserted. Defendants are held to answer without ever having the opportunity to run the testimony of the witness through the crucible.

Does the rule in Crawford v. Washington (No. 02-9410)sweep broadly enough that this practice is no longer constitutional?

CrimLaw notes an article discussing the recent severity of white collar criminal offenses.

I am not sympathetic to the plight of white collar criminal offenders. For years they have lobbied the state court systems to ensure that petty thieves would suffer severe punishment. For example, in California a person commits felony (grand) theft if he steals an object worth $400 or more. Almost EVERYTHING in California costs $400 or more. But these stiff penalities were lobbied for by the wealthy to protect the wealthy.

Now the wealthy are on the receiving end of overly harsh penalities. It sucks, huh?
Standing after Pringle

In Maryland v. Pringle (No. 02-809), the Supreme Court held that a police officer may arrest every occupant of a car if the officer finds illegal drugs in that car and none admit to owning the drugs.

Shouldn't this mean that each occupant of a car now has standing to challenge the lawfulness of a search of the car in which they ride? If each occupant of the car can be held liable for the contents of the car, then can't we fairly say that each occupant has a concomitant privacy interest in a vehicle's contents?

Monday, March 22, 2004

Oh how the times have changed

The author of a 1982 book about finding a job as a lawyer provides this advice:

"There may be instances in which younger lawyers escorting you to dinner may offer or use marijuana or other narcotics. Even if you normally use marijuana, prudence suggests abstinence during the interviewing process. You simply are unable to gauge the effect of such an action, however innocent or otherwise appropriate, in the interviewing process. The same may be said of opportunities for sexual encounters, particularly with people from the firm you are visiting." Joseph Ryan, Stating Your Case: How to Interview for a Job as a Lawyer at 75 (West 1982).

I can't imagine today's lawyers offering drugs to interviewees, unless maybe you were interviewing with NORML.

Which is more important to you as a concerned citizen: 1. Justice Antonin Scalia went duck hunting with several of his long-time friends, including Vice President Cheney; or 2. Senate Democrats delayed the confirmation of at least one federal judge in order to manufacture the result of a pending appellate case?

Chances are that many Americans do not know that special-interest groups sent a memo to Senator Ted Kennedy, asking that he delay the confirmation of any Bush-appointee judges to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The reason? The Sixth Circuit was going to hear the University of Michigan affirmative actions cases. These special interest groups were afraid that a Bush-appointee would vote to strike down the programs.

Senator Kennedy was pleased to please these groups: No judges were appointed to the Sixth Circuit until after it was too late for them to hear the affirmative action cases.

What is most appalling about the delay in the lack of media coverage on this scandal - Judgegate. Juxtaposed with this media blackout is the coverage of Justice Scalia's duck hunting trip. Although duck hunting with someone who is being sued before the Court shows questionable judgment, delaying the confirmation of an otherwise qualified and non-controversial judge to manufacture the result of a case is outright-criminal.