News Roundup

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Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, the beginning of the end of WWII. Over 4,000 Allied soldiers died that day, and many more were injured. People have different ways of remembering the anniversary. My favorite commemoration is the one undertaken by 93-year-old Jim Martin, who did the same parachute drop into France he did 70 years ago. The story is here. Martin said his recent jump was much easier because “there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.”

In other news:

Former Charlotte mayor pleads guilty in corruption case. Patrick Cannon entered a guilty plea in federal court this week. Consistent with normal federal practice, he will be sentenced in several months. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, but early estimates I have seen suggest that his sentence will likely be much shorter. The News and Observer has the story here.

Lawsuit may proceed against former Charlotte DA. In 2010, former Charlotte ADA Sean Smith (now a district court judge) sued then-Charlotte DA Peter Gilchrist. Apparently, the district attorney’s office looked favorably on motorists who attended a defensive driving school after being cited for traffic violations, but Smith thought that the school wasn’t up to snuff, and said so in a TV interview. Gilchrist then fired Smith. Smith alleged that Gilchrist had violated Smith’s free-speech rights by firing him for his public remarks, while Gilchrist contended that Smith wasn’t fired for his televised statements, but rather, for insubordination during a discussion of the matter. A federal district court granted summary judgment for Gilchrist, finding that he was protected by qualified immunity. The Fourth Circuit recently reversed, remanding the case for trial. The court’s opinion is worth a read for all government officials with managerial responsibilities as a reminder that although it is often said that at will employees may be discharged for any reason or for no reason, in fact there are prohibited reasons of which employers should be aware. Courthouse News has a summary of the case here, and the full opinion is here.

One last story about Charlotte.The Charlotte Observer recently ran this story about the ban on photography inside the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. Apparently, “[t]he ban extends to participants . . . [in] courthouse weddings,” who need court permission to take pictures of the big event. Restrictions on photography in courtrooms have generally been upheld, but I can imagine a First Amendment argument about the right to take pictures in other areas of the courthouse. For those interested in further reading, photographers’ First Amendment rights are discussed here, here, and here.

Sentencing videos. This Wall Street Journal article discusses the rise of sentencing videos, essentially professionally edited mitigation movies that are shown to sentencing judges. I’ve heard about these being used in federal court – perhaps Patrick Cannon’s defense team will create one – but would be interested to know whether they have debuted in North Carolina’s state courts yet.

Update on marijuana legalization in Colorado.This New York Times article, entitled After 5 Months of Sales, Colorado Sees the Downside of a Legal High, starts off by noting that “[l]aw enforcement officers in Colorado and neighboring states, emergency room doctors and legalization opponents increasingly are highlighting a series of recent problems as cautionary lessons for other states flirting with loosening marijuana laws.” The frequency and severity of the problems are subject to debate, and the article contains quotes from folks with a variety of perspectives.

Judge beats up public defender. Finally, a troubling story from Florida. A judge – who happens to be a retired Army colonel – recently became aggravated with a public defender and invited him to “go out back” so the judge could “beat [his] ass.” According to this local story, the two left the courtroom together, and witnesses described a scuffle accompanied by several “loud thuds,” apparently from blows the judge landed on the lawyer. The judge then returned to the courtroom and went back on the bench, huffing and puffing. Judicial disciplinary proceedings have apparently begun.

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4 comments on “News Roundup

  1. Re: The article on cannabis legalization; Of course the law enforcement and prohibitionist lobbies will object to anything that takes money away from their coffers..and I have yet to see a consensus of Er doctors claiming any notable increases in admissions due to pot smoking. For years the prohibitionists have made the false claims that pot causes Er admission, which is nonsense; when testing people at the ER for drugs and alcohol they naturally find a number of people who have metabolites of pot in their systems, but that does not and never has meant that is why they are at the hospital. Doctoring statistics is a common ply for the dishonest anti- cannabis forces, and they have no shame when it comes to trying to link pot use to admissions. When alcohol prohibition was lifted I am sure that some people got carried away and were injured as a result of overindulging, but personal responsibility is the key..demonizing a substance is ludicrous.

    If someone drinks a quart of vodka and smokes a joint and falls off a balcony, of course the prohibitionists will claim that the pot is at fault…if a drunk driver had smoked a little days before and had metabolites in his system, the drug war profiteers will insinuate, at minimum, that the pot was the reason for the offense. The prohibitionists, frantically and desperately trying to maintain their grip on the profits of illegality, will scream ” The sky is falling…the sky is falling ” as long as some few people refuse to look up. Not ONE death can be attributed soley to pot..not ONE overdose has been recorded in all of human history, and while cannabis is the safest and least toxic of any known mild intoxicant, human nature being what it is..we can expect that a few, very few, people will act irresponsibly and suffer the consequences. There are laws to deal with stoned driving..we never hear cops and prohibitionists demanding that alcohol be once again prohibited despite the horrific effects, deaths and addictions inherent in the overuse and abuse of that toxic chemical, do we?

    Why? Because prohibition NEVER works, and never will. Keping marijuana illegal makes no sense from any standpoint except for those who profit from the illegality..cops, lawyers, druh ” rehab ‘ scammers and the ridiculous ‘ drug free” promoters, who all stand to lose funds when common sense and logic prevail. Qui bono? Who profits from laws against pot? CARTELS and COPS primarily. When the cops are on the same side of the issue as cartels, you know the stench of corrupt motivation is in the air. And since the anti-pot lobby cannot come up with scientific, historical or sensible reasons for their stance, they just fall back on their tried and true tactics: Make wildly dishonest claims, try to imply causality when none is proven, scare the people still uneducated about pot, and hope that no one researches their claims. They cannot withstand scrutiny, they are motivated by greed, and prove that they are totally untrustworthy when it comes to advocating a position.

    Cops are always climing that ..” we don’t make the laws, we just enforce them..write your congresman if you want a change “..but when the people by substantial majorities reject the insanity of prohibition, the cops now pretend to be concerned and impartial protectors of the people, who must be too ignorant to be trusted to make decisions and vote on the issue..they are protecting us from ourselves!! The nerve!! They are just afraid that all of the overtime they get paid for easy busts and court appearances, as well as the hours spent safely doing paperwork for the peaceful pot smoker will stop and that they might actually have to fight real crime..every hour spent processing a pot bust is an hour not spent on stopping a burglary, helping a domestic violence victim, finding a stolen car, etc. Cops usually seek the path of least resistance and the least danger, and pot users are a cash crop for them. Over 800,000 citizens a year are charged with pot offenses, the vast majority simple possession..that dwarfs the number of arrests for all other categories, and as long as cops have the legal ability to choose fish in a barrel we will see them waste time and resources and ruin lives without good reason and no moral justification.

    Has marijuana prohibition achieved any goal other than enrich cartels and cops? NO! Has the availability been reduced or stopped? Has the price become prohibitively high? Has the law convinced people to refrain? No , no and no! The laws have only created a disrespect for the system in general, as no one with any sense believes the prohibitionist propaganda, and caused an erosion of our rights, as cops bend or break the Constitutional protections we are supposed to enjoy as they illegally detain and search people hoping to find even a tiny bit of pot so they can chalk up another bust..the 4th amendment is almost a dead letter due to the drug war, and after 70 years and over a trillion dollars of taxpayers money wasted all the prohibitionists can do is spew the same old reefer madness lies they have relied on in the past…well, the majority of the people are not buying their snake oil remedies any more, and the end of an indefensible marijuana prohibition is inevitable and apparent. The profiteers better find new victims for their scams, as truth and the will of the people are prevailing in record numbers.

    The days of predatory policing on cannabis users is almost over, thank God, and the dreams of the cops and cartels to keep the gravy train going is up in smoke. The writing is on the wall..rather than preserving what little dignity they have remaining, the profiteers will no doubt kick and scream until the futility of their protests becomes obvious even to them. Giving up a lucrative racket is difficult, I know, but the cop are just going to have to accept the fact that their cash cow is dead and get about the duties we need them to do to fight real crime..the easy way is almost over.

    • I have written both my of my so called State (House and Senate) representatives concerning the two bills that have been entered concerning marijuana.

      I have also written a potential candidate concerning their stance.

      Of course I am not a big business, non profit, pac, super pac, or other organized group that has large amounts of cash at my disposal to support their support their re election, election, or party and have not gotten a response.

      It appears that only the money has any meaningful representation and the individuals have none. This seems to be the case at all levels of government today.

      Only ‘persons’ (created by and under the laws) have any rights, or representation in government. People have none.

    • Wow…did you think of this comment all by yourself??? Apparently you are an expert when it comes to deciding which laws should be enforced and which should not. How long was your career in law enforcement since you seem to know what they do, how they do it and for what purposes, or also apparent from your rant, you have been an elected official and know how it all works in there. You are stereotyping police officers according to what you see on television and from what you hear, not exactly the most efficient way of putting forth an argument such as yours. From the child abuse cases while mom and dad are getting high to the family killed while junior drove to another party, I had to pick up the pieces, take the child to the hospital or morgue….I dont care what you like to do…if it is going to affect the lives of other people negatively and there is a law in place to deter you with a prescribed punishment then I will do my job with the mindset that you just don’t give a damn about anybody but yourself!

      • You have never had a case of parents abusing their kids from smoking a joint..and you have no proof whatsoever that teens are killing people while driving due to pot. The responsible adult use of cannabis does not affect anyone else negatively, and you kn ow it. And if you are delusional enough to think that busting people for personal use amounts of pot deters them, you are obviously out of touch with reality. the statistics are clear: Cops bust more pot smokers every year than all other categories of ” crime ‘ put together. Cops will spend hours on a traffic stop trying to get consent to search, unles they manufacture it with a false dog alert, etc..in order to find a seed or roach in order to get another bust..the hours spent processing the paperwork are wasted and take away from stopping real criminals. Cops have great discretion as to which laws they enforce, and the fact that you will shred the 4th amendment and make the average citizen hate you so you can get a petty pot bust speaks volumes. you don’t hate the overtime you get for court appearances, do you? If enforcing pot laws deterred anyone, we would see a drop in arrests, not the yearly increases we all see. People are not going to stop an enjoyable activity just because they got unlucky and got caught..they will try and be more careful, but that is not deterrence. Has the efforts of the cops reduced the supply of pot? No. Now in Colorado and Wash. state the cops have to find another way to spend their time..perhaps even patroling for property criminals of helping domestic violence victims? We must take away the bad laws, the insane laws that have no foundation in reality so the cops cannot exercise their discretion, as we all know that the cops will seek the easiest way possible to fill a shift..busting pot users is a safe way to bump up arrest numbers and make money.The majority of Americans want legalization, while the cops are screaming and kicking that the sky is falling..with no proof of course, in order to hold onto their cash cow. You are losing the battle..no one applauds you for petty pot busts, you make no one safer, and you protect no one by doing so. Alcohol is the most abused drug, the most horrific in terms of abuse and death and injury, yet you will see no cops crying for prhibition to be reinstated again..your gravy train days are almost over, thank God.

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