Category Archives: Law/Justice

The OTHER Recall Election Results

District Attorney Jill Ravitch

So Gavin Newsom “survived” the recall election. Hmm, when a Repugnicant wins an election with 65% of the electorate in their favor the national media call it a landslide. When a Democrat does the same they “survive”.

So much for the so-called liberal media bias.

I wrote back in July about the OTHER recall we had going here in Sonoma County, that of our outgoing District Attorney. Jill Ravitch had all of nine months left in her term and had already announced she was not going to seek another one when the petitions, funded completely by one millionaire land developer she went after for abandoning senior citizens he was responsible for during a raging firestorm, went out to recall her. Read that article to get all the details.

You’ll be happy to hear (at least I was) that Ravitch “survived” her recall election. Is there another word to describe getting 80% of the electorate in your favor? Maybe the no longer failing New York Times can chirp in with the proper adjective. Yeah, 80% in her favor. I’ve seen elections where someone was running unopposed and didn’t get 80%.

A deeper dive into the numbers showed something even more interesting. In Sonoma County Newsom won his recall with 78% of the vote — 112,264 to 31,939. Ravitch won as previously mentioned with 80% of the vote — 101,269 to 25,400. She actually did better than Newsom, though not by that much. But add those totals up. There were literally just two questions on the ballot, the two recalls. Why did 17,534 people vote in the governor recall, but didn’t vote on the DA recall?

For that we need to look at the actual physical ballot. No, there were no hanging chads, this wasn’t a butterfly ballot of any sort, this was just a straight ahead regular old fill in the bubble with a blue or black pen ballot. Except for one thing.

While the governor recall, because of the extraordinary amount of potential replacements named, took up the entire of one page of the ballot, the DA recall was placed not on a second page, but on the back of the first page. In other words, you had to turn the page over in order to vote on the DA recall. And since no one signed up to be on the ballot as a potential replacement, the entirety of the back side of the ballot took up less space than the space this paragraph is taking.

17,534 people flat out DIDN’T NOTICE the DA election was happening at the same time. Wow, how did that happen? I mean it’s only been all over the local news since last June. But then again here is the sum total of the advertising the No D.A. Recall folks did for this election:

No D.A. Recall Poster

Notice something missing from this poster? That’s right, no where on it does it mention what day the recall election was taking place. In big giant lettering we are told who’s paying for it, but it never mentions the election is the same day as the OTHER recall election. Now yes, 126,669 citizens DID turn the ballot over and vote in the D.A. recall election, but the fact that 17,534 DIDN’T should worry not just educators and good government folks, but the Democratic Party as well.

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Justice Coney Clueless Meets The Turtle

Who said that Metry native Amy Coney Barrett has no sense of humor? The Trump appointed Supreme, hereinafter and forevermore Justice Coney Clueless, picked an odd place to declare that the Roberts Court “is not comprised of partisan hacks.”

The place is the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville best known for national championship winning hoops teams under Denny Crum and Rick Pitino. Pitino, of course, was the real crumb…

That’s McConnell Center as in Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell who is the most partisan hack to ever hack me off. As you can see from the featured image, the Turtle was there to cheer on Justice Coney Clueless as she declared that Justices must be:

“hyper-vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions since judges are people, too”.

Really? Even this guy?

If they named a beer after Kavanaugh, it would be Partisan Hack.

Like Justice Bro, Justice Coney Clueless is a right-wing Catholic who is bound to approve of Louisville’s mascot, which is a Cardinal, not a Turtle. It’s the bird, not a prelate but it strikes me as a significant symbol.

The McConnell Center’s ostensible mission is to:

Founded in 1991, the non-partisan McConnell Center at the University of Louisville seeks to identify, recruit and nurture Kentucky’s next generation of great leaders. Our core principles–leadership, scholarship and service–guide us as we (1) prepare top undergraduate students to become future leaders; (2) offer civic education programs for teachers, students and the public; and (3) conduct strategic leadership development for the US Army.

Something with the Turtle’s name on it non-partisan? They’re not partisan hacks like Mitch? Who knew? Sounds like the cardinal sin of lying to me.

The Turtle went on to cluelessly extol Justice Coney Clueless at the event:

McConnell, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported, praised Barrett for not trying to “legislate from the bench” and for being from “Middle America”. Barrett is from Indiana and, unlike the other eight justices, did not attend Harvard or Yale.

She’s been living in Indiana but she’s not only from Metairie, LA, she’s a graduate of St Mary’s Dominican High School. It’s a hoity-toity girl’s school in an area where you went to high school really matters. You can take the girl out of the Gret Stet of Louisiana, but you can’t expunge it from her soul, such as it is. Ya heard, Mitch?

This is my first non-Ida post since I got my internet access back. I missed the opening round of the Texas abortion ban mishigas. I have two points to make:

  1. SCOTUS acted improperly in allowing the law to take effect since it implicates constitutional rights.
  2.  Roe v. Wade has not been the controlling abortion rights case since 1992 when Justices O’Connor and Kennedy sidelined Roe in Casey v. Planned Parenthood. That case sets the current test for abortion rights.

That’s all for now. I suspect that I’ll be walking the legal beat a great deal as the summer of our discontent turns into autumn.

The last word goes to Ani DiFranco:

A Confederacy of Dunces

The crap that American women have been dealing with got even worse on Tuesday. Not content with ending abortion in Texas, Greg Abbott assured everyone that women in Texas who were raped didn’t have to worry about any resulting pregnancy because he was going to “end rape” in Texas.

I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t a particularly reassuring statement, given how little most men in power care about rape in this country. In fact, my first thought was that he was just going to decriminalize rape. My second thought was the same thing. Ugh.

Because Abbott is the gaffe that keeps on giving, today he also revealed his complete ignorance about a woman’s reproductive cycle. See, he confidently told everyone that 6 weeks was more than enough time for a woman who was pregnant to get an abortion. I mean, it’s a whole month and a half, right?

Well, here’s the thing:  the 6 week marker (or the 1 month marker, or the 3 month marker), is measured back from the first day of the woman’s last period. And since menstruation (if you’re not on hormonal birth control) is erratic for most women, lots of women wouldn’t even know at 6 weeks that they’d missed a period.

This reminds me of this story:

An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

The question on Monday from Republican state representative Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.

Dr Julie Madsen was testifying in opposition to the bill when Barbieri asked the question. Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

“Fascinating. That makes sense,” Barbieri said, amid the crowd’s laughter.

The more I read men’s comments about abortion, the more I realize that a lot of men have no idea of how a woman’s reproductive system works. It’s peak Dunning Kruger at work.

And there is some hope that there is a legal basis to undo the Texas law. I’ll let Laurence Tribe explain it:

In the Grendel’s Den case, the unbridled veto power interfered not with a service to which anyone had a constitutional right, like abortion, but just with serving liquor. It was simply being governed by someone unaccountable to nobody that offended the Constitution. In the Texas case, even a judge or justice convinced that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and that there is no constitutional right to end a pregnancy would need to confront the long line of precedent establishing that due process of law, enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not permit, to quote the court in Grendel’s Den “delegate[ing] to private, nongovernmental entities power to veto … a power ordinarily vested in agencies of government.”

As the court said, it is difficult in such situations to imagine “any ‘effective means of guaranteeing’ that the delegated power ‘will be used exclusively for secular, neutral, and nonideological purposes.’ ” As one of us wrote in 1973 in defending the court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, abortion is particularly fraught with deeply religious as opposed to secular concerns and commitments. Just because the religion clauses are not directly implicated by the Texas scheme, it doesn’t follow that the long line of decisions into which Grendel’s Den fits becomes irrelevant in the effort to legally defang the Texas abomination.

Let’s see what happens next.

 

If I Were King of the Forest

I’m going to cut to the chase:  the Republican Supreme Court justices are cowards. Their order came out under the cover of night—and on a night where much of the country was riveted by the complete havoc the remnants of Hurricane Ida were wreaking on the East Coast—and it was unsigned.

They didn’t hold a hearing or consult with legal and medical experts. They didn’t address the substance of the Texas law or even attempt to identify any constitutional issues. They gave an unsubstantiated and unrelated reason to deny the request to block the enforcement of the law, and then they skittered back into the darkness like the intellectual cockroaches they are.

People who have the courage of their convictions don’t do stuff in the dark, anonymously, and while everyone else is focused on something else. People who believe in their ideas present them in public, with facts, and take questions and criticism. People who are proud of what they do seek publicity for their actions.

I hate cowardice. I hate it so much when people do something they know is wrong and then they hide away instead of defending their actions.

It’s been a rough week and seeing how much Republican men hate women has been the main reason for it. I don’t know if men can understand how demoralizing, frightening, and infuriating the last few days have been. Right now in Texas a woman who is raped or is the victim of incest has to carry any resulting child to term unless she has a cycle that is 100000% regular.

There is no logical explanation for this apart from an extremely pernicious expression of sexism. I think Adam Serwer had the right take on it and his tweet can have the last word:

 

 

The American Taliban is Ascendant

There’s a new milepost on the country’s journey to be the American version of A Handmaid’s Tale. Last night the Supreme Court allowed a new Texas anti-woman law to take effect. This law prohibits abortions after 6 weeks, and so effectively outlaws most abortions in Texas.

I say “anti-woman” because that is what the anti-choice movement is these days. It’s not actually about stopping abortion. It’s about actively punishing women for being women, and especially for being sexually active without their permission. The movement went mainstream when TFG casually said that if abortion were made illegal, women who had abortions should be prosecuted.

His communications team later told us that he meant the doctors who performed illegal abortions should be prosecuted, of course. And of course TFG, who paid for abortions right and left, isn’t actually opposed to abortion. He was merely parroting the far right hate speech of the dregs of humanity who advised him, and he deliberately said that as a signal to his reprehensible followers.

The anti-woman movement currently holding the GOP in thrall is rooted in the forced birth movement, which itself is centered not on the baby that is born, but on punishing a woman for her sexuality. This in turn is rooted in the legalization of birth control.

There has been a century-long battle for women to regain a modicum of control over their reproductive health. Abortion was legal in this country until 1880 when the efforts of the AMA, coupled with fears of white “race suicide”, and the suffrage movement led–male–doctors to take abortion out of the hands of pregnant women and midwives and move it into the newly emerging “professional” realm. Female reproductive issues were moved from the home to the doctor’s office, women lost their previous autonomy over their own bodies. It’s also important to note that abortion has existed in all cultures since the beginning of humankind.

Part of the rationale the AMA provided for its push to take over women’s reproductive health was how dangerous abortion was, but instead of working to find safe ways to help women to terminate pregnancies, it instead chose to push to ban the practice altogether. This makes sense against a context of where gynecologists–men–were doing things like arbitrarily removing women’s uteri to cure their “hysteria”; i.e., their growing willingness to stand up for themselves. An uppity woman was a “hysterical” woman, and the cure, obviously, was to remove her uterus. Abortion wasn’t legalized again until 1973. Remember, birth control between married couples was ILLEGAL until 1965, and illegal between unmarried couples until 1972.

The introduction of The Pill, and the subsequent decriminalization of birth control, were watershed moments for women (and just think for a moment that birth control was illegal for a long, long time). On a social level, it allowed women to control their sex lives in an entirely new way. No longer afraid of a nearly inevitable pregnancy, single women turned the tables on men and began to make their own sexual choices, shattering the previous dynamic. The ripples from this transformation are still being seen now. It’s the basis for the increase in slut-shaming sexually active women, only now it’s moved from just single women, to now include married women as well.

On an economic level, delaying motherhood allowed women to get college educations and to begin to compete with men in the larger workforce, and not just the pink collar ghetto. The reactionary movement to ban birth control–because that is where the anti-woman movement wants to end up–is rooted in 2 things:  the desires to wipe out the economic gains of women over the last 50 years and to restore the previous sexual dynamic.

Feldt says, “When you peel back the layers of the anti-choice motivation, it always comes back to two things: What is the nature and purpose of human sexuality? And second, what is the role of women in the world?” Sex and the role of women are inextricably linked, because “if you can separate sex from procreation, you have given women the ability to participate in society on an equal basis with men.”

And today we’re a day closer to that goal.

Coda:  Some commentators are pointing out the bounty aspect of the Texas law and positing that the law will be overturned because that’s clearly illegal. That provision is a Trojan horse, the Harriet Miers dangled in front of you so you don’t smell the poison of the Samuel Alito. The American Taliban is fine with cutting that part out. For now.

And so here are. Bowie gets the final thought.

Recall the Recall

Welcome to California where the American Nazi Party formerly known as the Republican Party have taken advantage of our absurdly lenient recall rules to attempt to undo the results of an overwhelming victory by Gavin Newsom in the last gubernatorial election. 

I got my ballot today. That’s the way we roll here in the Golden State. No standing in line at the polling station, no wondering if the boss will give you time off to go vote, no muss, no fuss. The ballot arrives in the mail (much to Louis DeJoy’s consternation), you fill it out and then can either mail it back in, drop it off at an official ballot collection box which are located in about 20 places throughout the county, or bring it to ANY polling location on election day. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and make use of your local polling location to mark your ballot or press the lever.

Civic engagement made simple. 

Prior to COVID, several counties, mine being one of them, implemented this system for balloting. During last year’s elections the state adopted it for every county. We did not even have a suggestion of any ballot irregularities. In fact a non partisan commission determined there was no advantage gained by either party from full mail in balloting. There is even a system for tracking your ballot from the moment it is mailed to you until the moment it is counted. You get emails and/or texts alerting you to it’s status. It looks like this is the future of voting in California.

That is as long as Gavin Newsom remains governor. If he is recalled and any of the non-entities listed on the ballot take power all bets are off. The recall law is absolutely screwy. Just about anyone who can marshal enough signatures and can pay the filing fee can get their name on the ballot. The only person who can’t be on the ballot? Gavin Newsom.

24 of the 46 names on the ballot identify as Repugnicant while only 8 identify as Democrat. A couple are the usual Libertarian, Green, etc. and the rest have no party affiliation. Only one of the 46 has any governmental experience and that was as a member of the Board of Equalization (that’s the sales tax board). Several list their occupations as “entertainer”. Lots of former cops. And of course Caitlyn Jenner because we need to add a they to the hims and hers. Even the serious Repugnicant candidates for next year’s governors race didn’t get involved in this. 

And yet polls show this as a dead heat race, with an energized Nazi, er, I mean, Repugnicant base rallying around the hope Democrats will forget to send the ballot back in. So first let me scream at Democratic voters. SEND THE FUCKING BALLOT BACK IN YOU WANKERS. OK, now let me scream at the Nazi scum who are behind this bullshit recall. YOU ARE NOT TRUE AMERICANS AND HAVE NO IDEA WHAT ONE MAN ONE VOTE REALLY MEANS

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The Amateur Lawyers Are Killing Me

I don’t mean the killing me bit literally. It’s a vivid image that I’ve used countless times on Twitter. It’s also why I used the Hamilton Burger-Perry Mason featured image. Now that I think of it, fictional lawyers know more than amateur attorneys. The amateur ones are a Raymond Burr in my saddle…

I nearly used this title when I wrote The Law Is Slow, but I thought that title brought more light than heat. I’m big on bringing light when so many others only bring heat. It’s the curse of our age.

The latest know-nothing legal Tweet comes from former Tea Party dude turned Never-Trumper, the Other Joe Walsh.

I could just leave it there, but I feel like expounding. It’s what pundits do.

One of the most important recent legal developments took place a few weeks ago. It’s when DOJ announced that Trump regime officials could NOT invoke executive privilege. I celebrated it in a Not Everything Sucks post, but it was largely ignored by those who prefer drama to substance. That includes most of the MSM who miss the constant drama and leaks from the previous administration.

I think First Draft newbie Cassandra nailed it as a part of last night’s Other Joe Walsh conversation:

BTW, if you don’t follow Cassandra on Twitter please do so.  I’m uncertain if she’ll sing any strange opera, but she’s insightful and fierce as well as operatic. As long as it’s not Klingon opera, I can handle it.

Back to recent legal developments. Former acting Attorney General Rosen testified because of DOJ’s move on executive privilege. I hope nobody thinks that Bill Barr’s former deputy did this out of the goodness of his heart.  He’s hoping to avoid prosecution and/or disbarment. Besides, coup plotting was a bridge too far for both Rosen and Barr. I just said something nice about Bill Barr. There’s a first time for everything.

There’s been a lot of talk about the House Select Committee, but Dick Durbin the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is determined to get to the bottom of the intrigue at DOJ.

Josh Marshall nails the Durbin angle:

The Senate Judiciary Committee, under Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL), appears to be doing most of its work in private, rather than in set-piece hearings. Things appear to have kicked into higher gear after Attorney General Merrick Garland allowed former Trump-era DOJ officials to testify about what is now emerging as a fairly elaborate coup plot hatched in the waning months of the Trump administration. Judiciary committee investigators jumped at the chance and some who were involved in the plot – or at least were witnesses to the plot – have jumped themselves … to testify. Rosen apparently was in a bit of a rush to testify – once Garland gave the go-ahead – before anyone on the Trump side could get into court to try to stop him. The testimony was also conducted out of the press spotlight so it would be done before anyone who might want to block it knew.

That’s how investigations should be handled. It’s best to sneak up on suspected criminals before pouncing, especially when they’re former presidents*. One reason the Mueller Probe was a disappointment was that Team Trump saw it coming and mounted a concerted albeit mendacious counterattack.

All of these factors lead me to believe that there *is* a current investigation at DOJ. I realize the amateur lawyers don’t think so because they prefer to wallow in their “Merrick Garland sucks” narrative. Repeat after me: The law is slow.

Former US Attorneys Barbara McQuaid and Joyce Vance collaborated with Larry Tribe on a roadmap for a Trump investigation. When I saw Joyce discuss the piece on MSNBC, she said that she thought an investigation was underway. She added that she too preferred to investigate behind closed doors when she was a US Attorney. Always trust a cat person:

Another way in which the amateur lawyers are killing me is this: the incessant chants for Trump to be jailed immediately. While I’m in favor of prosecuting Trump, in America, we don’t just lock people up before filing charges. That’s what the Impeached Insult Comedian wanted to do to his enemies. It’s company that I don’t want to keep.

Even if Trump is indicted and convicted, he can still run for federal office unless the GOP changes its nominating rules. Anyone think that’s even remotely possible?

Here’s how I described the run from jail possibility in an earlier post, The Ghost Of Roy Cohn:

… a reminder that even if Donald Trump is convicted of a crime, he can still run for office from prison. Eugene V. Debs received 913, 664 votes while languishing in federal prison in 1920. Debs was a political prisoner locked up for his anti-war views. Trump is, of course, a criminal who deserves everything the justice system can throw at him.

The amateur lawyers of the MSM and Twitter need to learn patience. The law is slow, it doesn’t work as fast as Twitter, nor should it. We need to get this right, not fast.

The last word is an ironic one. It goes to the Real Joe Walsh with a song he wrote with Glenn Frey and Don Henley:

Cancel My Wake Up Call

Woman turning off alarm

I’ve been back at work the past couple of weeks which necessitated using something I haven’t had to use in a year and a half — my alarm clock.  Of course in this day and age an “alarm clock” is really the clock app on my phone even though I have a bedside clock with an alarm that would do the job just as well, but hey I paid a lot of money for this phone and I’m gonna get the most use out of it I can.

A lot of my work occurs at hours that for many people they’d be asking “There’s one of those in the morning?” 3AM wakeups are not uncommon. Don’t feel bad for me, I don’t have to do it every morning unlike my father who had to get up at that hour every weekday for years so he could put a roof over our heads and food on the table and send you three kids to those fancy schools…

Wow, sorry about that, I was suddenly possessed by my father’s spirit. Might explain why I also had a sudden urge to yell to the wife (Cruella) to get me a soda and a pretzel. Yeah he was like that and my mother went along with it because that’s how they were both raised. He yelled, she did what he wanted, and everything was fine with the world. And it wasn’t just my mother he did this with. His kids, his employees, even his friends all got the same treatment.

It was called “having a forceful personality” and it was seen as an emblem of American success.

As a child I thought that was the way things were supposed to be. A man needed to brutishly barge his way through life to get what he wanted for him and his. But as I grew older I began to realize this wasn’t a great example of how to go through life. I began to disregard many of his tirades about anything from work to schooling to what play the football team should run next (option pass to the tight end was his go to favorite). This of course led to sometimes long periods of sulking on his part. What’s the point of having kids if they don’t listen to you?

I do want to make it clear that he was extremely liberal…for his times. While he was totally behind the Civil Rights movement (he saw Blacks and Jews as similarly oppressed people), women’s rights or gay rights were too far a stretch for him, at least in my formative years. He did believe, and he showed it in his own businesses, that if a woman did the job of a man and did it just as well then she should be paid the same, but at the same time women should really be homemakers. Homosexuality wasn’t something that people should be jailed for, it was something for the psychiatrist’s couch.  These were the prevailing liberal views of the Sixties and early Seventies.

Over time, and I’d like to think that my rejection of many of his views helped him along, his opinions changed. An outsider would call it evolving. I would call it growing up. It’s something we as humans do every day, cradle to grave.

Which brings me to wokeness and cancel culture.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Hamburger Midnight

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

Dr. A is more disciplined that I am. She’d been on a rather stringent diet until she came home craving a burger but not at midnight. We ordered delivery from Shake Shack in the broad daylight. I’m not sure if the Nighthawks are eating hamburgers but I wouldn’t be surprised.

This week’s theme song was written by Lowell George and Roy Estrada in 1970 for Little Feat’s eponymous debut album. It’s a long-time favorite of mine; one that I used to request when I saw the band live. They ignored my pleas. And I wrote such a lovely tribute to Paul Barrerre in 2019. Oh well, what the hell.

We have three versions of Hamburger Midnight for your listening pleasure: the studio original, a 1973 live version, and a 2014 live version with guest vocalist Vince Herman.

Little Feat’s first single was Hamburger Midnight/Strawberry Flats. Here’s the B-Side:

Now that I’ve made you flat-out peckish, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Silent House

House By The Railroad by Edward Hopper.

Since the recent death of a family member, I’ve had mortality on my mind. Hence this week’s theme song and an appropriately somber featured image by Edward Hopper.

Silent House is a song about grief and loss. It was a collaboration between Neil Finn and Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, and Emily Robison of The Dixie Chicks. For more information about the song, click here.

The Dixie Chicks recorded Silent House first on their 2006 album Taking The Long Way. Crowded House cut their version for 2007’s Time Of Earth. Since I’m more of a Crowdie fan and prefer their version, we’ll start with it. Sorry, Chicks.

I hope everyone remembers the whole The Dixie Chicks controversy involving their opposition to the Bush-Cheney administration’s War in Iraq. In this Rodney Crowell song, the Yuppie neo-con narrator calls them out.

Now that we’ve heard Rodney sing “give it to me” repeatedly, let’s jump to the break.

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Malaka Of The Week: Michael Avenatti

Glory Days: Stormy Daniels & Michael Avenatti.

As a satirist I have a firm rule. I always kick up, never down. Kicking down isn’t funny, which is one reason my original nickname for Donald Trump, the Insult Comedian, is ironic. He always kicks down, never up. As a result, he’s not funny.

As a human being I have an analogous rule. My father taught me never kick a man when he’s down. There are exceptions to every rule. And that is why Michael Avenatti is malaka of the week.

I never cared for or wrote favorably about Malaka Michael. The MSM was madly in love with him because he was colorful and quotable. Besides, he represented a porn star going after then President* Pennywise. What’s more colorful than that?

I was struck by the man’s high regard for himself. He reminded me of a law school classmate who was my friend until he made law review. Then he dropped all his 1L friends. It was a classic kick down. It was no great loss; he was an asshole anyway. There’s a character based on him in my law school novel. Tongue In The Mail. He wasn’t the murderer just your basic malaka mouthpiece wannabe.

I began to detest Avenatti when he intervened in the Kavanaugh Mess. He made an easy target for Republicans who were able to paint him as a hyper partisan jerk who was only interested in himself not SCOTUS. Malaka Michael’s posturing made it harder for undecided GOP senators to vote Kavanaugh down. Thanks, dude.

Avenatti decided that being a porn star lawyer and cable news rock star qualified him to be president:

I wrote about this creep’s brief foray into Democratic presidential politics in a post with an apt title, The Ego Has Landed: Why Not Me Avenatti 2020?

His campaign slogan was ironic given his current circumstances: Restore Integrity.

The malakatude it burns.

Stephanie Clifford DBA Stormy Daniels made Malaka Michael a celebrity. Representing her turned out to be his undoing. His ego exploded to the point that he attempted to extort money from Nike. Pro-tip: never shake down a corporation that’s worth between 15 and 25 billion dollars.

Cue Carl Sagan meme:

Avenatti called it negotiating for a client, Nike called it extortion. A Manhattan jury agreed with Nike and found him guilty of extortion last year. Yesterday, Avenatti was sentenced to 30 months in jail by a federal judge who called him “drunk with power.”

Avenatti goes on trial in Los Angeles next week for stealing money from his clients.

In his future is another federal trial for stealing Stormy Daniels’ $300K book advance. Stormy giveth and Stormy taketh away.

Avenatti is a walking cautionary tale of the perils of believing your own publicity. A bit of humility never hurt anyone. And that is why Michael Avenatti is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers:

The OTHER Recall Election

District Attorney Jill Ravitch

A popular Democratic politician takes the necessary steps to provide justice and safety to the people of the community and for their trouble takes not only heat from conservatives and know nothings but ends up having to contest a recall election.

Oh, did you think I’m talking about Gavin Newsom and the Half-Witted Recall?

No I’m talking about the OTHER recall that hits a bit closer to home for me.

Jill Ravitch, Sonoma County District Attorney, faces a recall election this September. This even though her term would be over nine months later and she long ago announced she was not going to run for re-election.

So what heinous crime did she commit that requires the extraordinary enterprise of a recall election? Was she caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar? Was she allowing criminals to walk away Scot free? Was she in league with the forces of Satan?

None of the above. She did her job. She prosecuted a company for abandoning seniors living in a senior care facility the company ran during the 2017 Tubbs fires, leaving them with no way of getting out even though the area was under mandatory evacuation notices. That’s right, they left grandma to a raging firestorm. Residents of the facilities had to be rescued by loved ones and first responders. Fortunately none of the residents died. The county filed a civil suit against the company. I wish they had filed criminal charges for elder abuse, but the civil suit was the best they could do. The company, Oakmont Senior Living, eventually settled the county’s suit against them for a payment of $500,000.

Now you would think that kind of publicity is the kind you’d like to have just quietly fade into the mists of history. You’d like to think they’d take their licking and hire a good PR firm to smooth out the rough edges. You’d think that, but if you did you wouldn’t be Bill Gallaher, owner of Oakmont Senior Living and one of the larger developers in the county. He decided it wasn’t fair his company had to pay out half a million bucks just cause they left a bunch of old people to potentially die a gruesome death. Nope, he took a clue from the QAnon based recall efforts against Governor Newsom and started a recall petition against DA Ravitch.

According to state campaign financing records Gallaher has bankrolled the entire recall effort by himself. $750,000 or thereabouts. And how did he get Sonoma county voters to sign his petition? He had the petition peddlers tell potential signees that Ravitch needed to be recalled because she didn’t prosecute PG&E, the local power company, for their part in the Tubbs fires.

That is true, she didn’t. She didn’t because she and her office investigated PG&E’s culpability for that particular fire and found, unlike other fires, there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. As someone I know who has greater insight into the world of law and courts once said, it ain’t what you know is true, it’s what you can prove.

Nevertheless the anger still seething within the public breast over the fires found it’s way into the fingertips of enough registered voters to get the recall on the ballot. And so this September the county will spend somewhere between $600,000 and $900,000 to administer an election that is only happening because of the spite of one man.   Continue reading

The House Dipshit Insurrection Select Committee

It’s been six months since the Dipshit Insurrection. Former President* Pennywise is demanding the release of insurrectionists but Speaker Pelosi is moving forward with an investigation. See the post title.

Count me among those people who thinks that getting at the truth of what happened on 1/6 and during the Trump regime is more important than prosecuting crimes. Most aspects of the Dipshit Insurrection are clearly criminal whereas many Trump era scandals involve the violation of norms. We need to get at the truth of those norm violations, then figure out how to address them. The criminal law is a blunt instrument and cannot be used for everything.

The House Dipshit Insurrection Select Committee’s mission is to investigate what happened before during and after 1/6. The poorly led House Republican Caucus painted themselves in a corner by not supporting the commission. Congressman Katko cut a good deal, which gave them clout in the investigation. But KMac blows with the wind and the prevailing breeze comes from Mar-a-Doorn. KMac and the Turtle bowed to the Kaiser of Chaos’ wishes and are now living to regret it.

If only they could take responsibility like the guy in the Jackie Wilson song:

I find myself in the weird position of quoting Gret Stet Senator Bill Cassidy without any mockery. This is how he explained his vote for the 1/6 Commission:

“The legislation I voted for ensured Republicans had equal power over the commission and set a deadline of December 31, 2021 to prevent a needlessly drawn-out process,” he said in a statement.

“Without this commission, there will still be an investigation,” he added. “But it will be a House select-committee set up by Speaker Pelosi – the nature of which will be entirely dictated by Democrats and would stretch on for years.”

Cassidy feared a Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi style committee. That seems unlikely but the GOP shot itself in the foot by voting against the commission.

KMac got extra mad when Liz Cheney accepted a slot on the select committee. He’s running around like a headless chicken shaking blood over everything. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Dumbass.

Back to the substance of the committee’s work. There’s been talk of White House involvement in the Dipshit Insurrection. That should be a focus of the committee’s investigation. They may or may not be able to establish any violations of the criminal laws, but the facts need to come out.

I have no illusions that any of this will shake the faith of hardcore Trumpers and QAnon creeps. Frankly, I don’t care about them. They’re lost souls. I am, however, interested in keeping the GOP on defense in the House and elsewhere. The Dipshit Insurrection committee should stick the knife in slowly and let them bleed out.

Here’s the best-case scenario:

They’re not our friends but I like the funeral and bleeding stuff. Besides, I’ve gone to the Let It Bleed well too often.

As of this writing KMac hasn’t said whether they’ll participate in the select committee. They would be wise to do so. When Nancy Pelosi was confronted with the same choice over the Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi select committee, many thought Democrats should boycott, she did not. It was the right decision. Of course, KMac is not known for his judgment. I guess he’ll have to call the Impeached Insult Comedian for instructions.

Finally, if you haven’t seen the New York Times recent look at the Capitol riot, CLICK HERE. 

The last word goes to Roy Byrd DBA Professor Longhair with another fault-based song:

Trump Family Values

As I luxuriated in the Indictment Thursday coverage I found myself asking: what does Mary Trump think? I reviewed her book last year for Bayou Brief. Too Much and Never Enough made me respect her judgment and her take on her kin folks.

The most interesting moment of Mary’s interview with Rachel Maddow last night was this:

RM: Allen Weisselberg is being charged for benefitting from that scheme. The indictment says, other executives also benefitted from that scheme. And now, we`ve got solid reporting that the investigation continues. That raises the prospect that further charges could be brought against his children.

MT: Yeah, it does. And I — again, I think they should be quite anxious right now. Donald, on the other hand, will expect the same kind and level of loyalty from them, as he expects from Allen. You know, as far as Donald`s concerned, they have what they have because of him. And they should be willing to take whatever hit they are going to take.

He doesn`t understand, I guess, how these things work. Prosecutors won`t stop at my cousins. They will be going for the bigger fish, which would be Donald, who`s been running this organization for over 30 years, now.

So I think he would be surprised to learn that I don`t believe my cousins would exert that kind of — exercise that kind of loyalty towards him because his relationship with them and their relationship with him is entirely transactional. So — and conditional, I should say.

So, they`re not going to risk anything for him, just as he wouldn`t risk anything for them. So, it could get really, really interesting as these things unfold, because there are so many more documents that New York prosecutors have at their disposal.

RM: So, you have more confidence that Allen Weisselberg would — wouldn`t cooperate, than you do that the president`s — former president`s children wouldn`t cooperate?

MT: Yeah. I think, as far as I understand it, and, you know, I`m not a lawyer. But it seems that, as — as serious as these charges are, they may not end up with jail time or any significant amount of jail time. And the downside of cooperating with prosecutors, for Allen Weisselberg might be larger than the downside of going to jail if it`s for a short enough period of time.

So, again, it`s going to be very interesting to see just the — the case that can be made. And the sentencing, if it comes to that, because I think that will factor in, for sure. But I`m much less sanguine about my cousins` loyalty to their father.

Sorry for the long quote, but I wanted everything to be put in context. Mary Trump might be wrong about her cousins but the mere possibility they *could* flip on former President* Pennywise is fascinating. We all have fickle and untrustworthy relatives, but this takes the cake.

Speaking of cake and relatives who work together, I feel a musical interlude coming on.

The current edition of Crowded House has three Finns. I don’t think Liam or Elroy would flip on papa Neil. Their Uncle Tim never did. There’s more Eighties music to come at the end of the post. It was the decade in which Donald Trump became famous, after all.

Now that we’ve had dessert, back to the main course: the Trumps. There have long been rumors of discord between the Two Donalds. Junior rebelled against his father after his mother was so publicly dumped. That’s one of the few good things I’ve ever heard about Junior.

Don Junior seems to think he can be the next John Quincy Adams or George W Bush: son of a president who becomes one himself. Adams set the bar high, but W lowered it considerably; making even grandson of a president Benjamin Harrison look good. Ratting out the Kaiser of Chaos would be bad for Junior politically, so I think he’ll stay on the sinking ship.

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Like A Summer Thursday

There’s a lot going on in the legal world today. Make that too much. My head is spinning and glistening with sweat because it’s summer. That was almost melodramatic enough to score a gig as a cable news host. I can hype things with the best of them, but I choose not to. I value my sanity. I’ll never be able to sigh as much as Rachel Maddow…

I did a search for songs with Thursday in the title. I was surprised at how many there are. I picked this Townes Van Zandt song because it’s summer and it’s Thursday:

It has nothing to do with the law, but I like it. We need something mellow on such a frantic news day.

I’m not writing this in order of importance. The SCOTUS stuff and the Trump Org indictment are clearly the top stories for this edition of the Legal Docket, but we begin in Pennsylvania.

Castor Oiled: Cassandra wrote a swell post about the Cosby case and I’m following up with a few notes on the law. While the ruling by the Pennsylvania supremes is bizarre in its reliance on a Bruce Castor press release, the Cosby prosecution fucked up.

Prosecutors should have done a better job insulating their case from Castor’s promise not to prosecute Cosby. They’re only partially to blame for this clusterfuck. The bulk of the blame goes to Bruce Castor.

We all remember Castor as the faux folksy lawyer who worked on the second Trump impeachment.  He wasn’t any more competent as District Attorney of Montgomery County, PA.

I don’t agree with the court ruling but it’s not baseless since Castor made such a mess of everything. The good news is that it didn’t exonerate Cosby. The bad news is that it freed him so he can pontificate and lecture the rest of the country. He’ll always be a convicted sex offender to me. Fat Albert can fuck off too.

There are some fine instant analysis pieces by sharper legal minds than mine:

Daniel Joseph Stern at Slate.

Harry Litman at the WaPo

Barbara McQuade at the NYT.

SCOTUS: There was a major decision in an Arizona voting rights case. Plaintiffs said the laws discriminated against minorities. The majority opinion by Justice Alito dismissed those concerns. It’s genuinely frightening that Sam Alito created a new test to be applied to voting rights cases. Shorter Alito: Republicans good, Democrats bad. I oversimplify but that’s the end result.

California had a law that forced non-profit donors to disclose their identity. Transparency is good, right? Not according to 6 supremes who struck the law down. They even compared Americans for Prosperity to the NAACP during Jim Crow. AFP is a Koch brothers group. Oy just oy.

There’s been a lot of speculation that Justice Breyer *might* retire today but nothing has happened as of this writing. I remain concerned that the pressure campaign might have backfired. As I wrote a few weeks ago: “These tactics didn’t work with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, why would they work with Justice Breyer?”

Watch this space.

Manhattan Melodrama: I wrote this segment in bits and pieces before and after the arraignment hearing. Here we go.

I wish I could augment my original nickname for Donald Trump and make it the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian, but his head is not on the chopping block today. Since he never thinks ahead, he’s apparently celebrating that fact. The indictment of the Trump Org could doom it as a business enterprise. It owes hundreds of millions to lenders who may call in the loans. Spiking the ball prematurely is never a good idea.

I was hoping that Allen Weisselberg would flip but there’s still time. Why does he think that Trump will reciprocate his loyalty? Beats the hell out of me. Perhaps he sold his soul to the elder Trump long ago.

The indictment makes it clear that the charges involve a long-running scam to avoid taxes on the part of Weisselberg personally and the company. The amount listed is substantial: $1.5 million but the crime is not as sexy as insurance or bank fraud.

Prosecutors made it clear that the investigation continues. My hunch is that the indictment is a club to hang over Weisselberg’s head. They’re hoping he’ll flip now that he’s been cuffed and charged. If he doesn’t, it makes it less likely that Trump will be a defendant in this case.

A reminder that the law is slow.

Stay tuned.

I’ll be back if anything major happens today, but I’d rather focus on the Top Chef finale.

The last word goes to David Bowie:

 

The Thumb On The Scale

So yeah, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court let Bill Cosby out of jail. I’m not going to discuss the legal issues because they don’t matter to me—it’s not as if the justices are going to change their minds.

What struck me was the idea that Mr. Philly-Delphia, the dreadful Bruce Castor, would make a deal with a forking rapist to not prosecute him for rape. I mean here’s someone who was credibly accused of rape by 60 women, and at least 1 of the attorneys involved (who knows if it was a deal that also involved Cosby’s attorneys, too) decided to protect…the rapist.

I should be used to the pervasiveness of rape culture in US society. But I’m not. Cosby being let out of jail is a gut punch. Cosby being let out of jail because a pathetic human like Castor deliberately protected him is enraging.

And here’s another upsetting thing:  there are people who think Cosby’s freeing is funny. When the release was posted to the online community I frequent, one male poster responded by repeatedly posting gifs from The Cosby Show of Cosby and cast dancing in celebration. The vast majority of the nearly all male membership there has been silently approving of his celebration of rape culture.

And then the judge in the Britney Spears case refused her request to remove her father from her conservatorship. It wasn’t a great day for women’s rights in America.

The Law Is Slow

Charles Dickens famously wrote that “the law is an ass.” He should have added that it’s slow. 21st Century American law is not quite as slow as in Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, the interminable case in Bleak House BUT it’s still slow. The featured image is of Francis L. Sullivan as Pip’s solicitor Mr. Jaggers in David Lean’s 1946 version of Great Expectations. I used it instead of an image from Bleak House to slow things down…

This slowness is currently driving the MSM and the amateur lawyers mad. (I used the Britism to keep the Dickensian theme going.) There have been rumors that charges will soon be brought by the Manhattan DA’s office, which has left the MSM twitchy, and the amateur lawyers vexed. They seem to have forgotten how they reacted to similar slowness during the Mueller probe. Andrew Weissmann, who prosecuted Paul Manafort, has not:

… it`s fascinating now being on this side. You know, I spent two years where the press was speculating on what the special counsel investigation had and whether we had the goods and on who. And we`re doing the same thing now with respect to Manhattan.

But it`s clear something is going to happen. And to me it sounds like there may be individuals who are charged. There may be companies that are charged. And to me that`s sort of a classic case where they may build to go up and pressure people to cooperate.

But you`re not hearing that they yet have the goods on Donald Trump. There are no signs of that yet, although we could be surprised.

In addition to being slow, the law is also surprising. What shouldn’t be surprising is that rumors of impending action are often wrong. They fail to take account of the law’s slowness and the secrecy of the grand jury process.

One synonym for slow is methodical. Investigating the finances of a criminal organization must be done carefully. They have to start from the bottom and work their way up. Think of an investigation as a pyramid: you start at the bottom and build your case layer-by-layer, brick-by-brick. You need a solid foundation otherwise the case will collapse. They should not move against the boss until the underlings have been dealt with. The foundation of a case against the Impeached Insult Comedian is his company. That’s why it’s likely to be indicted first. Hopefully, the Weisslebergs and Calamaris will jump ship. The latter should land in a hot pan with garlic, onions, and olive oil. I like my calamari simple…

This brief treatise applies to Merrick Garland and the DOJ. Judge Garland is clearly a methodical, process-oriented lawyer. It’s what we should want after the Wild West shoot-from-the-hip Trump days. Think of Sessions, Barr, and the various acting AG’s as hired guns much like Jack Palance in Shane. They made a mess of DOJ and cleaning it up is going to be a slow process. New policies are in place, but the devil is always in the details. Detail work is always slow, especially when lawyers are involved.

The MSM and amateur lawyers have a hard time accepting how much of the spadework for legal investigations is done in secret. For example, the public did not learn that the FBI was investigating the Trump-Russia mishigas until well after the election. They were building a case. The DOJ’s Inspector General is already investigating Trumper misconduct, and the FBI may be at it as well. Whatever they’re doing it will be slow.

Larry Tribe recently admonished two Never Trump former Republicans for conclusion jumping:

The Salon headline in the second tweet is clearly click bait. Even if the Kaiser of Chaos had been charged, he’d be out on bail annoying wedding parties at Mar-a-Doorn.

Shorter Larry Tribe: The law is slow.

Finally, the wheels may grind slowly, but tomorrow is supposedly the day indictments will be handed down by the grand jury. I’ll believe it when I see it.

The last word goes to The Beatles:

Quote Of The Day: McCloskey Mishigas Edition

One of the stupidest things to come to national attention in 2020 was the McCloskey mishigas. They’re the St. Louis couple who raced out of stately McCloskey manor to “defend” themselves from BLM protestors. It’s hard to take someone who’s dressed like a mime seriously. I hate mimes. I’m not crazy about Mark and Patricia McCloskey either.

The McCloskeys have ridden this dubious incident to a speaking slot at the RNC, a guilty plea, and a senate run by Marky Mark or is that Macky Mac? They should have taken some gun safety classes instead. I’ve never even held an unloaded gun and I know better than to point a rod at anyone. I learned that from watching Mike Hammer and Frank Cannon.

This minor league Pennywise held a rally the other day in a parking lot. It bombed but led to a hilarious piece in the Riverfront Times by Daniel Hill. The opening paragraph is a classic:

Noted local criminal Mark McCloskey played host to a barbecue/political rally on Sunday afternoon, drawing tens of admirers to the sweltering parking lot of a closed outlet mall in St. Louis County to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the time he pulled a gun on a crowd of people who otherwise would never have noticed or cared he existed.

Make sure you read the whole damn piece. It contains spit take after spit take. Well done, Mr. Hill.

The entertainment at this rally ducked by Trumpist “luminaries” such as Michael Flynn and Madison Cawthorn was a Deep Purple cover band whose lead singer used to be in REO Speedwagon. I am not making this up.

The last word goes to Deep Purple with a song that was performed by the aforementioned cover band at the sparsely attended rally:

Doing What He Was Elected To Do

Marc Levine Assemblyman for CA10

We, by which I mean I, spend an inordinate amount of time here at First Draft excoriating national or wannabe national politicians for their various grandstanding moves and Sunday Morning talk show blather.  We, by which I mean I, never seem to talk about politicians doing the job they were elected to do.

Now yes politicians are elected for the most part to vote on enacting laws or to be our “leaders”, whatever that word might mean to you. But we are also supposed to elect politicians to help with more mundane everyday problems. The issue is that too often we forget about that last reason. Try and get a politician to help ME? They only want to help the big money donors. They only want me to remember them come election day, they’re not going to help ME with any personal problem.

But I’m here to tell you that political leaders can help you in your everyday life. One just did that for me.

Since the first days of shelter in place I’ve been on unemployment. All of my rather substantial work bookings for 2020 disappeared pretty much over night in late March and early April. Even though I got a job as an enumerator for the Census just as the bookings were drying up, that job ended up not beginning until mid August and ended in mid October. Thus I was four months without a paycheck.

I am fortunate to have other sources of income so the wife (Cruella) and I didn’t go hungry and we didn’t lose our house, but those bi-weekly checks from the Employment Development Department (EDD) went a long way to keeping us from the middle class’s greatest bête noir, dipping into savings.  Even when we both started work with the Census and our wages were greater than what we were getting via unemployment we kept the accounts going because we knew the Census job was ultimately a temp gig. Sure enough when it ended it was easy to get back to getting checks from the state.

I wanna stop at this point to say something about Unemployment Insurance. It IS an insurance policy. Workers pay into it on a paycheck by paycheck basis. In my case I not only paid into it for forty plus years, but for many of those years I paid into it twice per paycheck, once as the employee and once as the employer (yes, in case you didn’t know, your employer matches your contribution on a dollar for dollar basis). What it is NOT is an entitlement as some in the political sphere would have you believe. Whenever I hear things like that I want to respond “so when the house you’ve made insurance payments on for years burns down you’d be okay with the insurance company saying they’re not going to pay you because that would be an entitlement”? It’s the rainy day fund and in 2020 it was pouring.

By the way, it’s the same story for social security and disability. Insurance policies, not entitlements. Both.

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The Chauvin Sentencing Hearing: 270 Months

I couldn’t resist posting my favorite picture of convicted murderer Derek Chauvin and his annoying defense attorney, Eric Nelson. I have not missed Nelson, but I’ve covered this case extensively, so I didn’t want to miss the finale.

I’m writing this bit right before Judge Cahill calls the hearing to order. It’s somewhat anti-climatic. The Judge has already ruled that there are aggravating circumstances so the chances of Chauvin getting a light sentence seems low. Nelson asked for probation: never gonna happen, my friend.

Consider this live blogging even though it’s being posted at once.

I was hoping to see Chauvin in a prison jump suit, but he wore a suit. He did, however, sport a prison-style haircut along with his suit, which hung loose on him. He looks pale and thin. Good.

Four relatives of George Floyd made victim impact statements.

The video made of George Floyd’s young daughter Giana was heartbreaking. It’s unclear if she completely understands what happened. Poor baby.

The Floyd family wants the book thrown at Chauvin; preferably a thousand-page hardback.

Both Floyd brothers called it an execution. I concur.

It was good to see prosecutors Matthew Frank and Jerry Blackwell. A reminder that good lawyering helped win the case.

The four aggravating circumstances are some serious shit that should lead to a serious sentence. #fingerscrossed

I didn’t expect as this much argument from the lawyers. The Judge has likely made up his mind. It’s all in the briefs.

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