Wednesday, April 27, 2005

California's (and maybe the whole country's?) Strange Justice

When considering what the Democrats in the Senate are trying to do in fillibuster the nominations of certain Bush appointments to the Federal Courts, one should really go and read what some of the justices believe in before immediately denouncing their "obstructionism." Forget for a moment that the Republicans denied up or down votes to numerous Clinton appointees (far more, by the way, than the Democrats have done to Bush, although they only did an actual fillibuster on one or two occasions, they used other techniques at other times), just look at where these judges will take this country, and it's a no-brainer - these people should not be sitting on any bench, let alone a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. Unless, that is, you want to take our country back nearly a century when the power of corporations and government over individuals was paramount, and people could be randomly thrown in jail for doing things like striking, speaking out against the government, being born of Japanese descent in the time of war, etc.... Many of these judges want to take us to an even more evil period, where the state will become one with religious authorities, so that we become, in effect, a theocracy.

Case in point is California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Yesterday's LA Times quotes her at length speaking to a group of Catholic lawyers about the cultural war we are engaged in - secular humanists against people of faith, and how people of faith must crush those cursed secular humanists or perish, or something of the sort (alright, a little hyperbole, but read the whole article linked here or reprinted in my comments section if the link has expired to know exactly what she said - it's pretty extreme, and would pretty much turn us into an oligarcichal theocracy if her vision for the country were to succeed). She makes it clear that she is fighting a religious war against the "unbelievers" or "infidels" (my words, not hers). This is a modern day fight like the enlightenemnt, like Galileo against the Catholic church, like the Salem witch trials. Today, the fight is over teaching real science versus "creationism" (ie - the bible as the absolute truth, science be damned), over stem cell research, and the right to have autonomy in your own body. Same battle, different lines.

Another example of Janice Brown's tilt towards autocracy (or at least a autocracy of the rich and powerful against the rest of society) comes in an analysis on the Counterpunch website (I don't necessarily agree with people like Alexander Cockburn on many issues, certainly not much on foreign affairs, but when it comes to Janice Brown, he's right on). Read this article to see how she is willing to uphold, through use of some contorted reasoning, the first amendment right of people to demonize and harass co-workers while at work (ie - you have no right not to listen), while at the same time finding that a company has the first amendment right not to listen when they are hit with a mass email from a former digruntled employee. In other words, we'll protect the right of the racists to spew their hate, but not the right of disgruntled employees to make their views against precious corporate America heard.

This shows the contortions that judges like Janice Brown are willing to engage in to uphold any law restricting redress from private citizens while expanding the right of corporations or haters to intimidate and shut up individuals.

You may say, what the hell is PD Dude writing about this for, it's not about being a public defender. But, that's not quite true. I'm fighting for the underdog, but Janice Brown, George Bush, and the corporate elite that they serve, are fighting to keep the underdog even more down. They want to keep us subservient and silent so that we will not stop them from making huge money in an unfettered manner. Want to change the bankruptcy laws? No problem. Want to restrict science so that religion can run this country? No problem. Want to make laws to encourage medical and other health providers to freeze out people from engaging in private, consensual behavior? No problem. This making the world safe for "people of faith" (in what?), has made things more and more intolerable for anyone who disagrees with that faith. That is the ultimate 800 pound gorilla throwing it's weight around among a bunch of underdogs. And it's wrong. Don't allow these judges to take the bench.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Long Time, No Post

Alright, I'll improve here a little bit. It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted.

I hate to keep talking about Michael Jackson, but I have to say that I've met the victim's mother thousands of times in the past. Alright, not the real mother, but the proverbial mother. She is the splitting image of so many clients and clients' mothers that I've met over the years that it's eery. It's clear that she is a manipulative person who both loves her son, and uses him for her own benefit. She is not above lying for money or to further her position in life, and while she does so in part to help her children, the messages that she's willing to impart to her children in so doing are just so terrible, it is hard to reconcile with love.

I don't know if MJ did molest her son, but regardless of that, it's clear that it wasn't only for his benefit - financial and medical - that she hung around with MJ, and more importantly, allowed her son to hang around with MJ. It was also for her benefit. To hang around with stars, to make money, to be someone in life. This is the reason for the constant name dropping, the lawsuits, and things of the like. She had to have known MJ's reputation, and yet she would allow her son to spend the night alone with him?

If MJ is a molester, he deserves to go to prison. If not, it is a terrible thing to see this wacko person picked on so much by gold diggers. But, let's reserve a special little place in hell for those parents who have consistently let their kids hang out with MJ for whatever demented reason that they did.

As a father of 2 little boys, I can't fathom anything that would push me into sending my children into that kind of a situation, even if I wasn't convinced that the allegations were true. The sniff would be all that I needed to keep my kids far away.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bush & Bob Jones

I wrote my last post about Bush going to Bob Jones University on his way to the Pope's funeral as a means of giving equal time, and some apparently didn't understand my evidently too subtle reference to the 2000 presidential race. Prior to the South Carolina primary, when McCain had the momentum, Bush adopted his own "Southern Strategy" (not to be confused with Nixon's southern strategy, which was blatantly racist) and his campaign started a whispering campaign about McCain coming back from Vietnam crazy and having an child with a black woman out of wedlock. Then, he spoke at Bob Jones University and extolled it's virtues, evidently unaware (or blissfully aware?) of the fact that BJU is a virulently anti-Catholic place that also banned interracial dating.

Here are a couple of cites that give reference to this, but they were just a cursory review after typing "Bob Jones" and "Catholic" on Google, so it's hardly scientific or seriously researched. Here is the wikipedia cite on it.

Here's a baptist defense of BJU for equal time.


Bush going to the Pope's funeral

I wonder if he stopped by Bob Jones University on the way out, just for equal time, you know.

Michael Jackson Update

Alright, is the case as weak as it seems from the outside? The testimony related to complaining witness charged in this case, as well as his family and other supporters, seems underwhelming. Obviously, getting in Jackson's history is a large victory for the prosecution, especially because of the confusing jury instructions related to prior bad acts.

First, the strength of the case. It appears as if the son of Jackson's former maid probably had more compelling testimony than the new complaining witness did. He actually was somewhat consistent in his claims, although he, too, once repeatedly denied anything untoward happening between him and Jackson. Tears appear to go a long way, especially from a grown man. But, could the case be any weaker vis a vis the recent complaints? I mean, the kid denies to everyone he sees, for the longest time, that Jackson does anything wrong to him. In the meantime, he appears to be a terror of a kid, always out of control (this according to the prosecution's own witness). Finally, they talk to a lawyer, and everything changes, and now he was molested. Oh, and this family has previously conspired to shakedown a big business for extra spending money.

The fingerprints of both Jackson and the kid on the dirty magazine? I had once thought this would be damning, but then we find out, according to different people's testimony, that the kids would happily rummage through Jackson's stuff, and they didn't even fingerprint the magazines until AFTER the kid testified (and held them?) at the grand jury. How could the prosecution be so dumb as to wait until after the kid had contact with the magazines in their presence before printing them? That's as dumb as the detectives in the OJ case drawing OJ's blood in downtown LA, and then driving themselves (and the vial of blood) to the crime scene, where they gave it to the rookie criminalist who stuck it in her pocket along with all of the samples she was collecting (later, of course, they found 2 cc's of blood missing, which was all the jury needed in order to disregard the blood - and DNA - completely. The mid-trial deathbed deposition of the person who drew his blood and testified that he actually drew 2cc's less was not enough to save that evidence.).

But, the jury instructions. Now this can be complex, so bear with me here. The idiotic law on prior sexual conduct by a defendant is a little crazy, but hey, our compliant courts here in California have found simply no problem with them, so here's how they go. A defendant is presumed innocent, and the prosecution has the burden of proving them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (the highest level in the law). To prove someone guilty of a sex crime, they can use prior sexual conduct in order to prove a pattern or character trait that may make someone inclined to commit a new crime. However, the prior crimes need only be proved by a preponderance of the evidence (the civil standard, or about 50% + 1, the lowest standard of evidence). Thus, the new case may be really weak (like here), as may be the prior acts (they need not have been convictions, or even charged offenses). However, the jury believes the prior acts by a preponderance of the evidence, but not beyond a reasonable doubt. They also have a reasonable doubt as to the new charges. However, the fact that he did it once earlier, something they believe by just a slight amount, coupled with the fact of the new charges, for which they now have motive and character (per the prior acts), means that there is enough to convict him of the new act. Thus, for someone charged with having done multiple acts of sexual misconduct, the standard of proof is effectively reduced to a preponderance of the evidence.

Our exalted California courts have sought to save that idiocy by claiming that the person still need be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but they never explain how to get past this conundrum. And they do not make any changes in the jury instructions that explain how it is they are supposed to find someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, the law is beyond a reasonable doubt, but the reality is preponderance of the evidence.

This is how Jackson could be convicted even if the new case is total crap. However, on the Drudge report today (not something I would necessarily consider a reliable source of information), he writes that jurors have been overheard mocking the testimony of the maid's son. If that's the case, then Jackson can plan that summer concert tour.