Category Archives: Legal Docket

The Legal Docket: Bragging Rights

You’re probably asking yourself, what’s up with that title? I’ll get to that in a minute.

The picture above comes from Judge Garland zooming into a Congressional hearing in which he requested a massive increase in spending to combat domestic terrorism. It’s about bloody time.

Note the portraits of past Attorney Generals flanking Merrick Garland: to his left Edward Levi and to his right Robert Kennedy.

Here’s where the bragging rights come in. I wrote a piece called Merrick Garland’s Time. In it, I compared him favorably to his fellow Chicagoan, Edward Levi who cleaned up the DOJ in the wake of Watergate.

Like Edward Levi and John Paul Stevens, Merrick Garland hails from the Chicago area.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi was a modest unassuming man.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi faced a difficult task. He did the job, then returned to the University of Chicago where he had previously served as dean of the law school and president of the university.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi was Jewish. He was the first Jewish AG; Garland will be the third.

<SNIP>

Edward Levi is one of the most underrated figures in American history. He not only had to clean up the DOJ, but he also had to reform the FBI, which J. Edgar Hoover had turned into his private police force. He accomplished both in two years. It can be done again.

1975 was Edward Levi’s time.

2021 is Merrick Garland’s time.

I’m pleased but not surprised to see that Garland shares my high opinion of Levi. Keep up the good work, General Garland.

In other legal news, we have a flashback to former Attorney General Bill Barr’s misrepresentations of the Mueller Report:

The blistering opinion by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson concerned an Office of Legal Counsel memo that was drafted in the key weekend between when special counsel Robert Mueller issued his report to Attorney General Bill Barr and when Barr released a public letter to Congress ostensibly “summarizing” the report.

<SNIP>

She said that the department had made a “misrepresentation” about the purpose of the memo and engaged in a “the lack of candor” about its content. She said that CREW, while never laying “eyes on the document,” had supplied a summary “more accurate than the one supplied by the department’s declarants” in its filings alleging that the memo was being illegally withheld.

Team Barr violated the first rule of litigation: NEVER PISS OFF THE JUDGE.

The DOJ has two weeks to decide if the memo remains withheld. It’s unlikely that Team Garland will continue the cover up.

Today, I once again compared Merrick Garland to Edward Levi. It’s time to recapitulate my comparison of Bill Barr to jailed Nixon Attorney Generals John Mitchell and Dick Kleindienst:

Talk about a rogue’s gallery. None of those guys will be hanging on the wall in a future AG’s office.

I found those official portraits at the DOJ web site. The portraits of LBJ’s AGs took a decidedly modernist turn.

That’s Nick Katzenbach by Alan Wood-Thomas and Ramsey Clark by Robert Berks.

I hope that the fashion of calling presidents by their numbers doesn’t catch on with Attorney Generals. If it does, we began with 86 flanked by 71 and 64.

That is all.

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy

In the last 20 years, Rudy Giuliani has gone from unpopular mayor to national hero to failed presidential candidate to national joke. It’s been quite a journey and he only has himself to blame for the next phase of his odyssey. Rudy’s big fat mouth has positioned him to be a defendant in the dock and/or a stool pigeon who might die in jail. What a long strange trip it’s been.

There’s long been chatter that the Southern District of New York was thwarted in its effort to go after Trump’s nominal personal lawyer by then AG Bill Barr. (I say nominal because the Rudester seems to have been an unpaid volunteer representing a grifter who never pays his legal bills.) That ended last week with a search warrant executed on Rudy’s office and residence. Thanks, General Garland.

Rudy squealed like a stuck pig about how this was an unprecedented violation of attorney-client privilege. Really? What about Trump’s former fixer/lawyer, Michael Cohen? The same thing happened to Cohen and the Impeached Insult Comedian sided with him for half a second before betraying him. This strikes me as Rudy’s most likely fate.

For his part, Cohen thinks that the Artist Formerly Known As Mayor Combover will flip, rollover, and otherwise turn on former President* Pennywise:

It always comes back to Vladimir Putin’s ambition to reassemble the Russian Empire by regaining control of the jewel in both the Tsarist and Soviet crown. Ukraine.

It’s fitting that Rudy’s quest to oust Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch led to Trump’s first impeachment and now legal jeopardy for the Artist Formerly Known As America’s Mayor.

The weirdest thing about the Ukraine scandal is that the Kaiser of Chaos *had* the power to remove Yovanovitch. But his desire to keep his fingerprints off the ouster resulted in his and Rudy’s ongoing Ukraine-related legal problems. The moral of that part of the story: never send a heavy-handed clown to do a job that requires subtlety and discretion.

Rudy The Clown by Barry Blitt.

The loudmouth Rudy-Pennywise approach worked to defang the Mueller investigation, but it’s failed subsequently. The only thing that saved Rudy’s ass was being backed up by a president* and the pardon power. No wonder Rudy participated in the Big Election Lie. It was a no-brainer and Rudy seems to have precious few little grey cells left. Hercule Poirot weeps.

There’s a certain symmetry to Rudy Giuliani’s rise and fall. He first rose to prominence as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Now that office is trying to nail his scalp to the wall. How the mighty have fallen.

The question is: how did the seemingly intelligent asshole of the 1980s morph into the stupid asshole of 2021? It’s partially the Trump effect: hanging out with him seems to cut people’s IQ in half and result in chronic mendacity.

Michael Cohen had a more practical explanation in an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber last fall:

“The problem here is that Rudy isn’t a soldier. Rudy is—Rudy is drunk all the time, which is a big problem and that’s what makes him susceptible because his faculties are gone. He behaves crazy.”

Melber challenges Cohen on this point, asking, “are you sharing an opinion or are you sharing an observation like you’ve seen him drink X amount?”

Cohen, who was jailed in 2018 for arranging payments to silence women who claimed to have affairs with Trump, continued: “I’ve seen him drink to the point like he’s a high school drunk,” adding, “and it makes him susceptible.”

It also makes Rudy susceptible to Trumpian manipulation. The teetotaler has played the drunk for a chump. He’s kept him inside the tent thus far because Rudy knows too much. That won’t last now that Rudy is under investigation and Trump is no longer “immune” from prosecution. No wonder Rudy wanted a blanket pardon.

This story has more twists and turns coming. I think a bag of pretzels is in order because Rudy has long specialized in Pretzel Logic.

That was just the first last word for this post. The penultimate one involves the demon alcohol and goes to the Kinks:

The last last word goes to Sarah Vaughan with a Sassy rendition of a Stephen Sondheim song:

Malaka Of The Week: Amanda Chase

The woman in the red and white elephant skirt with an assault weapon draped around her neck is Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase. She’s running for the Republican nomination for Governor. I don’t think the Commonwealth is ready for a Governor who describes herself as “Trump in heels.” She looks more like Trump in sandals to me. And that is why Amanda Chase is malaka of the week.

Chase is from the Richmond suburbs, Midlothian in Chesterfield County to be precise. It’s a town name I used to like but now regard with considerable fear and Midloathing. It does, however, make for a memorable nickname: the Midlothian Malaka.

Chase gets around. She spoke at the “Stop The Steal” rally that preceded the 1/6 Dipshit Insurrection. She denies storming the Capitol but has vehemently defended the insurrectionists, “These were not rioters and looters. These were patriots who love their country and do not want to see our great republic turn into a socialist country.”

She was censured by her colleagues for that bit of brazen dipshittery and is fighting it in court. You would have thought that she’d wear it as a badge of pride.

Her latest cause is defending this guy:

After the verdict in a state whose capitol is 1.200 miles away from home, the Midlothian Malaka attacked the jury and praised convicted murderer Derek Chauvin:

Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase (R), a prominent Republican candidate in her state’s gubernatorial race, copied Greene’s fear-mongering tactic in response to Chauvin’s verdict by saying that it made her “sick.”

During a campaign stop on Tuesday shortly after the announcement of Chauvin’s verdict, Chase griped that she is “so concerned about our law enforcement right now quitting. And you should be, too.”

Chase, who describes herself as “Trump in heels” and was censured by the Virginia state Senate after praising the mob behind the Capitol attack as “patriots,” doubled down on her stance in a written statement.

“I’m concerned that the decision was politically motivated more to prevent civil unrest than to serve justice,” Chase said in a written statement, according to the Washington Post. “The decision made today sends a clear message to law enforcement; the justice system doesn’t have your back.”

I wonder if she’s going to start a Chauvin fan club and invite rotten defense lawyer Eric Nelson to speak. They both make me sick.

Is it just me or does Eric Nelson look like Garth Algar?

Nelson can still suck it.

Back to the Midlothian Malaka.  She has been on my radar for quite some time. If there’s a retrograde position, she’s taken it. Her comments about rape are reprehensible even by her own low standards: “It’s those who are naive and unprepared that end up raped. Sorry. But I’m not going to be a statistic.”

She’s also a hardcore Lost Causer. She adores the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, which state and local officials want lost like the cause it represents. She described the removal attempt as: “a cowardly capitulation to the looters and domestic terrorists” and an “overt effort to erase all white history.”

Does Malaka Mandy kiss her children with that mouth?

The good news is that the Midlothian Malaka’s chances of being elected Governor are slim and none and slim was just consigned to the dust heap of history. The bad news is that she has any support at all. She’s Virginia’s answer to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert. And that is why Amanda Chase is malaka of the week.

I’ve used Sweet Virginia many times over the years, but it has never been more appropriate: the Midlothian Malaka is the shit that needs to be scraped off the Commonwealth’s shoes. That’s why the last word goes to the Rolling Stones:

 

 

The Chauvin Trial: Evidence Matters, Lawyering Matters

I made a mistake yesterday and spent too much time on Twitter before the verdict. The amateur lawyers and jurors were doing their thing, insisting that Derek Chauvin would be acquitted because that’s how it’s always gone. Each criminal case is different, a discrete and insular universe of its own. Precedents are for appellate courts; trial courts are all about verdicts. Each case stands alone.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison assembled a 21st Century dream team for the prosecution. They also had a dream case and the right jury to hear the case. Evidence matters. Lawyering matters. Voir dire matters. Everything came together for this conviction including some significant erosion of the thin blue line.

I’m not a fan of teevee cameras in the courtroom. The prosecution handled it well, acting as if they weren’t there. Eric Nelson (who can still suck it) played to the cameras and his own vanity. Lawyers tend to revel in detail and miss the big picture. Nelson kept making those mistakes and, more importantly, misread the jury. Jurors matter.

During his doomed closing argument, Nelson missed a chance to woo the jury. At the ninety-minute mark, he should have paused and said something like this, “Your honor, I’m going to need more time to make my case, but I see that it’s lunch time. I bet everyone in the court room is hungry. Why don’t we take a break and I’ll finish after lunch.”

Would it have helped his client? Given the evidence, no, but he should done it anyway as a signal to the jury that he cared about them, instead the judge was obliged to intervene.

I don’t know about you, but I get cranky when I’m really hungry. The focus of juror crankiness was Nelson who can still suck it. My idea of hell is his closing argument on a loop for eternity. Now, that’s damnation.

It’s another example of how the defense was focused on minutiae. Details matter but getting lost in them leads to three hour closing arguments that lead to disaster for a client. In this case, Chauvin had it coming.

I usually stick up for lawyers defending the indefensible. Everyone has the right to representation. This was a tough case but Nelson (who can still suck it) made everything worse with his showboating and verbosity. He was blowing smoke to get the jury to invoke reasonable doubt, but his case died of smoke inhalation, right? Apologies for the Nelsonism, they’re annoying, agreed? Nelson can still suck it.

It would not surprise me if the police union and the convicted defendant fired Nelson. Given the mountain of evidence, an appeal is unlikely to succeed in this case but the best ground is ineffective representation by counsel. Nelson was that bad.

A friend asked if I thought Nelson was throwing the case. Definitely not. Tanking a case can get you fired and even worse disbarred, especially in such a high-profile case. Cliche warning: He couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: not all lawyers are smart. I went to law school with some dumb people, but they were good test takers, so they made it through. That’s not unusual in a society where teachers teach to the test, not because they want to but because it’s required. Herd immunity is a good thing, but group think is not. Heed George Harrison’s advice and:

In fairness to Eric Nelson, if the prosecution had the dream case, he had the nightmare client. Derek Chauvin is as unlikeable a defendant as imaginable.

One reason Chauvin murdered George Floyd was stubborn pride. The crowd was urging him to get off Floyd’s neck and he wasn’t going to let them tell him how to do his job. He should have listened. I’m convinced that many problems could be solved if people just shut up and listened.

Chauvin’s face was blank as the verdict was read. He blinked but his visage was as emotionless as when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. I try not to take pleasure in other people’s misfortune but watching him led away in handcuffs was a thing of beauty. His face remained expressionless and his eyes blank much like the character in this Kinks song:

Justice *was* achieved in the Chauvin case notwithstanding the desire of some to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. But like all criminal verdicts, it stands alone, it has no precedential value. One could even call it a legal island.

It’s a good start but few cases will have such perfect evidence and such good lawyering. It should, however, serve as a warning to rogue cops that things have changed, and that accountability is possible. Some of them, alas, will be slow learners.

In the end, people matter. The conviction was made possible by people like Darnella Frazier, Genevieve Hansen, Donald Williams, Charles McMillian, Courtney Ross, Chief Arradondo. Lt. Zimmerman, Doctors Tobin and Rich, and all the other witnesses who stood their ground and told the truth.

The truth matters.

The Verdict: Guilty On All Counts

I know everyone has already heard but we’ve gone through the process together so we might as well have a brief encounter.

I was expecting a guilty verdict but this exceeded my expectations. The look on Chauvin’s face when he was cuffed was priceless.

The criminal justice system still has a lot of work to do but this is a step forward. I expect some people on the left to try and pull defeat  from the jaws of victory but we should enjoy this moment.

Suck it, Nelson.

I promised to do this. I’ll the Master speak for me:

I’ll be back with more on the verdict tomorrow when the dust has settled.

The last word goes to Randy Newman:

Closing Arguments

The day began with jury instructions from Judge Peter Cahill, which were, of course drafted with input from both sides. I listened carefully and they sounded fairly standard; nothing wildly pro-prosecution or defense. That did not surprise me. The judge has been fair and even-handed throughout the trial. This does, however, give the prosecution an edge because they have such a strong case.

PROSECUTION ARGUMENT: Calm but impassioned best describes lead prosecutor Steve Schleicher’s style. It’s what you’d expect from a Minnesota lawyer. Those people aren’t known for raising their voices. It’s a perfect demeanor for a trial lawyer.

Schleicher began by discussing who George Floyd was and why the police response to his alleged crime was disproportionate. A reminder that the call for service was initiated because Floyd passed a counterfeit bill. It remains unclear if he knew it was a fake or not. Whatever the case, suspects are rarely cuffed and arrested for passing funny money. They’re typically issued a summons. That’s right, it’s a ticket, the monetary equivalent of a traffic stop. Repeat after me: Nobody should die during a traffic stop.

Schleicher emphasized that Floyd complied with the police until they tried to shove this large man into the cramped backseat of a squad car. Even then Floyd’s “resistance” was mostly verbal telling the cops that he was claustrophobic and not a bad guy. I understand this because I’m mildly claustrophobic myself. They did not listen and the result was George’s Floyd’s death.

Schleicher urged the jury to use their common sense and ignore the nonsense thrown at them by the defense. Nonsense is, of course, Eric Nelson’s specialty.

Schleicher pre-rebutted some of Nelson’s sillier arguments: crowd noise, carbon monoxide and the like.

For any conservative leaning jurors, Schleicher stressed that this was “not a prosecution of the police, it’s a prosecution of the defendant.” Something that was supported by the testimony of seven law enforcement professionals AGAINST Chauvin.

This was one of the strongest passages of the prosecution’s argument:

“This wasn’t policing; this was murder,” Schleicher told jurors. He cited the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department, which fired Chauvin and three other officers involved the day after Floyd’s arrest: “To protect with courage and to serve with compassion.”

“George Floyd was not a threat to anyone,” Schleicher said, often speaking with audible anger and disgust. “Facing George Floyd that day that did not require one ounce of courage, and none was shown on that day, no courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”

Compassion seems to be in short supply when it comes to Derek Chauvin.

I’m in a pedagogical mood so I’ll rate Schleicher’s argument. It was cogent, coherent, and well organized. I give him an A- mostly because I’m a tough grader.

DEFENSE ARGUMENT: Nelson’s argument started off fairly well, but unraveled under the weight of his words. He even conceded that he was going to be long-winded. He did not disappoint.

I originally planned to count Nelson’s use of the word right. I gave up at twenty. Oy just oy.

Nelson’s argument was disjointed and disorganized. It gave me a reasonable doubt that he’s a competent counsel. He also has some issues with the language. I’ve never heard the word fanciful pronounced fancy-full. I laughed, then thought of this venerable song:

Nelson stressed the “reasonable police officer” argument. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing reasonable about putting one’s knee on another guy’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

I thought Nelson’s use of video backfired. It made it clear that Floyd was begging for his life as Chauvin pinned him in a prone position. Floyd was even polite calling Chauvin, Mr. Officer when he was really Officer Asshole.

Nelson must have hoped that the guttural and agonized sounds made by Floyd would evoke stereotypes of scary Black street criminals but instead they were pitiable. Chauvin reacted with no pity. I don’t think he’s capable of it; another reason for keeping him off the witness stand.

The cause of death portion of Nelson’s argument was equally weak. Instead of keeping it short and punchy, he went on and on and on, so I’ll keep it short and snappy. It was unconvincing and so windy that the judge took a lunch break before Nelson finished.

I tried not to be too hard on Nelson just because I’ve come to dislike him over the course of the trial. It’s a very tough case for a defense lawyer. He has an unappealing client who would have no chance of acquittal if he weren’t a cop. I’m doubtful that an acquittal is possible at this point, especially since the jury is likely to be pissed off at Nelson’s windbaggery,

Nelson’s strategy seems to have been to bore or starve the jury into submission. I don’t think it will work. I give his closing argument a D- and that’s being charitable.

PROSECUTION REBUTTAL: Two of MSNBC’s Black reporters insisted on calling Jerry Blackwell the Johnnie Cochran of the Midwest. It’s meant as a compliment, but their styles are entirely different.  Besides, Blackwell is alive, and Johnnie is not. So it goes.

Blackwell did a decent job but I, along with everyone else, had trial fatigue as he spoke. I just wanted it to end.

Finally. today was a disaster for the defense. Nobody wants to hear anyone speak for 3 hours. Nelson is lucky that Chauvin didn’t kick his ass on the break. Eric Nelson is now the Fidel Castro of the legal profession. What a maroon.

The Defense Rests

Who are these masked men? Eric Nelson and Derek Chauvin.

I originally didn’t plan to write about the defense mounted on behalf of Derek Chauvin by his pesky and annoying lawyer Eric Nelson. But I was asked several times to do so, and I’ve been known to take requests. I will not, however, play either Louie Louie or Whipping Post, which are my stock mock concert song requests. I once got Weather Report’s Joe Zawinul to play a few bars of the former and was mocked by Richard Thompson for requesting the latter.

I only watched bits and bobs of the defense presentation because Nelson annoys me so much. Besides, I have other things to do such as writing about my parents and the corrupt Gilroy cop. End of shameless plug for one of my better recent posts.

Nelson’s defense predictably consisted of throwing shit against the wall and seeing how much sticks. But the defense doesn’t have the burden of proof, in a case like this its job is to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. Nelson tried mightily but as far as I can tell failed. His experts simply weren’t as good as those of the prosecution. His use of force guy essentially paraphrased Tricky Dick:

Just substitute police for president and do for does and Bob’s your uncle.

Nelson’s medical expert Dr. David Fowler was no better. He’s the reflexively pro-police former chief medical examiner of Maryland. He’s currently being sued by the family of a 19-year-old black man killed by police. Fowler ruled Anton Black’s death to be accidental and caused by his heart problems and bipolar disorder. The facts of that case are strikingly similar to the Floyd case.

Dr. Fowler pulled a joker out of the deck and cited carbon monoxide poisoning as a factor in George Floyd’s death. That led to the prosecution calling lovable expert witness Dr. Martin Tobin to rebut Fowler’s claim. That was win-win for the prosecution: Fowler is a dick with a South African accent and Tobin is a nice guy with an Irish brogue. He reminds me of two Irish members of the John Ford stock company: Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields.

The least surprising thing that happened yesterday was Chauvin’s decision to exercise his 5th Amendment right not to testify. The guy has 18 citizen complaints against him. If he testified, they would have come in. There was no way Nelson would advise him to take the stand. Nelson is a jerk, not an idiot. I stand by what I wrote on Tuesday.

The trial is on hiatus until Monday. The defense tried to throw Judge Peter Cahill for a loop by resting earlier than expected. The judge was not rattled by Nelson’s antics and stuck to the plan of closing arguments on Monday. He promised the jury the weekend off before being sequestered for deliberation. One of the least commented upon aspects of a judge’s life is jury management. This judge kept his word to his jury. He’s got a swell first name as well.

A few words about the teevee coverage. I mostly watched MSNBC and CSPAN, but I dallied with Court TV. I skipped CNN because of my Wolf Blitzer phobia. Mercifully, MSNBC let its regular hosts handle the coverage, which spared me from seeing New Jersey’s answer to Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams.

Court TV is used to covering tabloidy trials and its coverage reflected that. This trial is significant in a way that the Casey Anthony trial never was. Their analysts and anchors were shockingly bad. One predicted that Chauvin *would* testify. Say what? Talk about pundit malpractice.

As to MSNBC, its reporters were in over their head and fell back on reporting on juror quirks. How can you read their reaction when they’re wearing masks? Oy just oy.

When MSNBC’s crack legal analysts such as Chuck Rosenberg, Joyce Vance, and David Henderson were on the air things were better. I could have done without some of the political/cultural analysts such as Professor Eddie Glaude who specialized in windy and negative pronouncements about the jury. Here’s the deal: even when juries get it wrong, they’re doing the best they can. It’s not easy being a juror in a high-profile case, you’re going to get criticized whichever way you come down.

The closing arguments should be interesting. Both sides will use them to remind the jury of what happened during the trial. The prosecution has the upper hand because it has a stronger case, but Nelson might be able to pester and annoy the panel into hanging.

Predicting outcomes in a jury trial is a sucker’s game. I don’t expect an acquittal, but a hung jury is a possibility.

Stay tuned.

The last word goes to the Allman Brothers Band:

Small Town Cops

The revelation that Army Lt. Caron Nazario was pepper sprayed last December by Windsor, Virginia police got me thinking of a scary encounter my family had with a small town cop many years ago.

Windsor is as small as it gets with a population of 1,902. Its police force had only five cops at the time of the traffic stop. The number is down one because Officer Pepper Spray was fired. The only reason that happened is that Lt. Nazario sued over what may well be business as usual for that police force.

When I was a kid, my father thought nothing of hopping into the family car to spend weekends with relatives in Salinas or Los Angeles. He grew up in the mountain West where distances are great, and people drive really fast. In fact, my Aunt Mary had a radar detector in her car when she was in her 80’s. That side of the family were fast drivers. Perhaps that explains my affinity for actor/race car drivers such as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and James Garner.

There was a notorious speed trap on Highway 101 in those days, Gilroy. It’s now part of the San Jose/Silicon Valley urban sprawl but back in the day, it was a very small town in the middle of nowhere or so it seemed to me as a kid.

We were pulled over by the Gilroy police at least five times over the years. Every time we approached that benighted little town, my mom would warn Lou to slow down. He waved her off every time convinced he could talk his way out of anything.

We were lucky. We only received two tickets. Lou’s charm offensive usually worked. On one occasion, it did not. Lou was nearly arrested and cuffed on the spot. We were stopped by a cop who was impervious to his charm and didn’t care that he was related to Los Angeles County Sheriff, Pete Pitchess. This was Gilroy whose only claim to fame was its garlic festival and status as a speed trap.

The officer was infuriated by Lou’s name dropping and ordered him to get out of the car. He complied but didn’t stop talking. Bad idea as all it did was make the cop angrier. He started to pull out his handcuffs, which was when my mother intervened.

She apologized to the officer and offered to accompany him to the station where we would gladly pay the fine on the spot. She added, “We’re just trying to get home so our son can go to school tomorrow.”

It worked. The wannabe brutal cop turned out to be corrupt and asked for a $100 bill to let us go. He insisted that mom drive saying, “You’re a nice lady, but your husband has a big mouth. He should learn to keep it shut.”

We hit the road home. Lou tried to get mom to pull over so he could drive. It was one of the few times I recall her yelling at him: “Shut up, Lou, just shut up.”

She was magnificent.

This is not a story either of my parents ever told as far as I know, a rare thing in my father’s case. I wasn’t sworn to silence but never wanted to embarrass them over something that could have easily gone terribly wrong.

Imagine if we’d been a black family. The story wouldn’t have concluded with a bribe and our departure. I hesitate to think how it would have ended but that was one angry small town cop who was ready to kick my father’s ass or worse. A nice black lady’s intervention wouldn’t have been treated so indulgently.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s never any reason for the police to draw their weapons during a traffic stop. In Lt. Nazario’s case, it was allegedly over a temporary license tag. He wisely delayed pulling over until he was in a well-lit area. It could have been much, much worse.

Driving While Black should not be dangerous. If this can happen to a soldier in uniform, it can happen to anyone. I’m glad that Lt. Nazario had the presence of mind to record the incident on his phone camera. The small town cops expected him to be grateful that they didn’t arrest him. So much for supporting our troops.

I told my story about a traffic stop that nearly went sideways, not to equate Driving While Greek with Driving While Black. It’s an example of how police training does not work. A citizen should be able to speak freely with the police, not fear for their safety when pulled over. Not every encounter with the public is life threatening but police are trained to fear those they supposedly protect and serve, especially if they’re people of color. It has to stop.

Repeat after me: Retrain The Police.

Roll Over Josh Greenberg, Tell Matt Gaetz The News

I’ve assumed that Matt Gaetz’s pervy little friend Josh Greenberg would rat him out. The NYT confirmed yesterday that Greenberg has flipped like a flapjack or whatever your preferred name for a pancake is:

Mr. Greenberg began speaking with investigators once he realized that the government had overwhelming evidence against him and that his only path to leniency lay in cooperation, the people said. He has met several times with investigators to try to establish his trustworthiness, though the range of criminal charges against him — including fraud — could undermine his credibility as a witness.

Unlike the Gray Lady, the thought of a criminal testifying against another criminal doesn’t give me the vapors. Most witnesses in federal criminal cases are, well, criminals. Federal prosecutors are always looking for the biggest fish in any investigation. A congressman trumps a local tax collector with delusions of grandeur any day.

Speaking of delusions, Matt Gaetz has torn out a page from the Impeached Insult Comedian’s scandal manual and is on the attack. Of course, Trump was president* when he went after Team Mueller, which means the bully had the bully pulpit and the pardon power to dangle. All Gaetz has is big hair and an even bigger mouth.

It’s much harder to be Mini-Me than Dr. Evil and, at best, Gaetz is the former. His lord and master had the full-throated support of congressional Republicans whereas Mini-Me only has Gym Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene. In a word, pitiful.

There’s talk that Gaetzgate may be linked to a Florida election scandal. TPM’s Josh Kovensky thinks it’s a possibility:

Call it a harmonic convergence. Or simply too good to be true.

There are some indications that two scandals roiling Florida politics may actually be connected, tying the federal probe of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to a slate of sham candidates that cropped up across the state in 2020.

Could that possibly be? This may not be the scandal we want, but is it possibly the one we deserve?

<SNIP>

And in the other, there’s an equally bizarre but perhaps more typical political scheme: a plot to run sham candidates across Florida to siphon votes away from the Democratic Party candidates.

It’s not clear how closely the two are connected. But what may bring them together is a confluence of money, Gaetz’s political connections, and a man loudly bragging at a Florida bar.

There’s always a man bragging in a bar with Trump scandals. My disgraced countryman George Papadopoulos’ loose lips eventually led to the Mueller probe, criminal charges, and a pardon from the Kaiser of Chaos. Trumpers do not know how to STFU.

Stay tuned.

The post title is a play on the Chuck Berry song, Roll Over Beethoven. That’s why Chuck, The Beatles, and ELO get the last word.

The Prosecution Rests

The prosecution in the Derek Chauvin case rested after 11 days. The streets in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota are restless after another senseless shooting during a traffic stop. We’ll get to that wrinkle a bit later.

The state’s prosecutors have built an impressive case.  It was in three acts: the eyeball witnesses, the police, and the medical experts, Yesterday, they closed with a cardiologist, George Floyd’s grieving brother, and a cop turned law professor who’s an expert on police use of force.

George Floyd’s brother Philonise painted a portrait of his brother as a loving man and mama’s boy. Their mother died not long before George did, and he had her on his mind as he died with Derek Chauvin’s leg on his neck.

George Floyd’s crime was to pass a $20 bill that he may or may have not known was counterfeit. Nobody should die because of a minor non-violent offense such as that or a traffic stop. Pesky and annoying defense lawyer Eric Nelson did not cross-examine Philonise. Wise choice.

I saw the entirety of Professor Seth Stoughton’s testimony. He methodically explained why Derek Chauvin’s use of force violated the reasonable police officer standard. Once Floyd was cuffed and subdued, Chauvin’s actions were unreasonable by this standard. I’d add ruthless, vicious, and cold-hearted. How can you listen to someone beg for their life and not relent? That’s some cold shit, y’all.

Watching Eric Nelson cross-examine Stoughton was fascinating. It was like watching a golden retriever try and fail to catch a Frisbee. Stoughton is a much better lawyer and smarter man than Nelson. He visibly flinched whenever Nelson ended a question with “right” or “agreed.”

Several times Stoughton calmly upbraided the pesky and annoying counsel for the defense by saying, “That’s not my testimony.” I kept hoping that Stoughton would say wrong when Nelson said right. He didn’t but I can dream. Oh well, what the hell.

I’m not sure how much of Nelson’s defense presentation I can stand watching. He’s an annoying little bugger who has already shown his hand. He’ll claim that Chauvin’s fear of the crowd fed his paranoia, but he didn’t cause Floyd’s death anyway. His experts will blame it on drug use, heart problems, anything but the heartless cop who killed him by using unreasonable force.

I’ll be shocked if Chauvin testifies. He’s a cold fish who has been remorseless since he killed George Floyd. There’s very little upside to his testimony. The downside is that the 18 complaints filed against him for excessive force will come out in court. Never gonna testify, my friend.

As to the victim’s drug use, I had this exchange on the Tweeter Tube:

Let’s travel ten miles away from the Hennepin County courthouse to suburban Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Another case of police overreaction occurred last Sunday night. It cost Daunte Wright his life. He was pulled over for an allegedly expired license tag, but it was really for DWB: Driving While Black.

The police chief of that suburban burg called it an accident. I call it manslaughter. A veteran cop thought she was about to tase Wright, but she shot and killed him instead. It was a traffic stop. There was no need to use weapons. In this case, I believe that the officer is sorry, but people are punished every day of the week for things they regret doing. She should be fired and tried.

This latest incident shows that police need to be demilitarized and trained not to shoot to kill. Lethal force is not just unattractive as Eric Nelson characterized it, it’s usually unnecessary. These grotesque errors of judgment are driven by fear and bigotry. When a cop makes a mistake, it can be lethal as it was in this case.

Repeat after me: Nobody should lose their life during a traffic stop.

I watched some of the amazing coverage by Ron Allen on MSNBC last night. He did a good job in getting people to calm down and state their case. Eventually, that was impossible because of the advance of a line of police marching as if they were soldiers in a Napoleonic battle.

Stop the madness.

I got an earworm while watching Ron Allen cope with the crowd. The last word goes to Bruce Springsteen:

INSTANT UPDATE: The Brooklyn Park police chief and the officer who shot Daunte Wright have been forced to resign.

The Trumpcine?

It’s been swell taking a Trump break. I made a conscious decision to reduce the number of former guy posts. All he’s done since leaving office is lie about the election and everything else. He hasn’t made any news, fake or otherwise until last weekend.

The RNC had its winter retreat at Mar-a-Doorn, if only they’d retreat from their 2016 and 2020 nominee. The joint was jumping with party luminaries and potential 2024 candidates who are Trumpier than the original model.

The keynote speaker was the Kaiser of Chaos. It was a litany of familiar grievances, attacks on fellow GOPers, and lies but he added something new:

The former president said, without saying who, that someone recently suggested to him that the coronavirus vaccine should be called the “Trumpcine.” He bragged about his handling of the pandemic, dismissing the widespread criticism of his approach and not mentioning the more than 500,000 who have died of covid-19.

The Trumpcine? Uh, Donald they name vaccines after living viruses, not living people or monsters in your case.

Just imagine people calling it the Trump Harumph instead of the Fauci Ouchie. Ugh, just ugh.

If the Kaiser of Chaos wants a vaccine named for him, it would be nice if he’d actively promote its use. Never gonna happen, my friend. I’m stealing Paul Reiser’s catchphrase since we’re rewatching Mad About You. I only steal from the best, my friend.

We could, however, use a vaccine against Trumpism and all the forces that former President* Pennywise has unleashed.

If only there was a jab that could cure white supremacy, anti-Semitism, QAnon delusions, and the other maladies that exploded during the Trump Regime. I’d love to jab away my memories of his presidency* as if it were one of those movies or teevee shows that turns out to have been a dream like St. Elsewhere. Now, that would be a happy ending.

In other Trump related news, the investigations in Atlanta and Manhattan are heating up. The Manhattan DA’s office seems to be mounting a full court press to flip the man who knows where Trump’s financial bodies are buried, Alan Weisselberg. Circling around his son, who seems to have lived large and largely tax-free on Trump’s dime, is a classic prosecution tactic. There are no pardons to dangle this time. Break a leg, y’all.

I have a dream that sometime this year, I will augment my original nickname for the former guy and call him the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian. Make it so, prosecutors, make it so.

Let’s circle back to the Trumpcine with a last word from Roseanne Cash:

Gaetzgate: Blankety Blank

We begin with a couple of housekeeping notes. I wrote my maiden Gaetzgate post before hearing that the Panhandle Pinhead himself made a request:

I’ve decided to take pity on a doomed pol and spell it his way instead of in all-caps. Who knew that the Panhandle Pinhead’s fellow whiny man baby had the wit to make such a good pun?

Since Gaetz allegedly sough a blanket pardon, the phrase blankety blank immediately came to mind. I didn’t realize that it was the name of the UK equivalent of The Match Game. Where have you gone Gene Rayburn, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Brett Somers? They’re all long dead, alas.

Dead is also the word that best describes Matt Gaetz’s political career. It’s so dead that not even the Impeached Insult Comedian could revive it. He’s yet to defend his little friend, Matt; only Gym Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene have done so. How’s that for:

I know I’ve made that joke before but I can’t get enough of it. That concludes the classic rock jokes section of the post.

How was that for an epic opening tangent? It’s windy even by my standards.

Let’s move on to the opening lines I wrote immediately upon hearing about the latest Gaetzgate twist:

Blankets have been in the news recently. First Andrew Cuomo, now Matt Gaetz.

in the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s term, Mr. Gaetz sought something in return. He privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people told of the discussions.

Around that time, Mr. Gaetz was also publicly calling for broad pardons from Mr. Trump to thwart what he termed the “bloodlust” of their political opponents. But Justice Department investigators had begun questioning Mr. Gaetz’s associates about his conduct, including whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old that violated sex trafficking laws, in an inquiry that grew out of the case of an indicted associate in Florida.

It was unclear whether Mr. Gaetz or the White House knew at the time about the inquiry, or who else he sought pardons for. Mr. Gaetz did not tell White House aides that he was under investigation for potential sex trafficking violations when he made the request. But top White House lawyers and officials viewed the request for a pre-emptive pardon as a nonstarter that would set a bad precedent, the people said.

An idea so bad that even Team Trump flinched at the notion? That makes it a *really* bad even rotten idea. The whole Trump era could be summed up by the title of this failed Mel Brooks sitcom:

While Gaetz may not have known that a gate was to be affixed to his name when he begged for a pardon, he knew that his little friend Josh Greenberg was in deep shit and sinking fast. My hunch is that Greenberg was to be covered in the blankety blank blanket pardon. But was the My Pillow Guy involved? What’s a blanket without a pillow? I deserve to be given sheet for that joke…

I eagerly await the Panhandle Pinhead’s next PR gaffe. Who will he drag into his mess next: Hannity? KMac? BillO? Donnie Junior?

Stay tuned.

The last word goes to The Kinks:

 

The Thinning Blue Line

I paid another extended visit to the Derek Chauvin trial yesterday. I wanted to see Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s testimony. I was not disappointed.

The Chief’s demeanor goes against all the cop stereotypes. He’s a calm and soft-spoken man who thinks before speaking as opposed to the blustery cops we’re more familiar with from both real life and fiction. These qualities made him a devastating witness for the prosecution. I was tempted to make a Marlene Dietrich or Tyrone Power joke but decided to skip it; more or less.

The Chief made it clear that Chauvin’s actions on that fateful May evening violated departmental policy:

“To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy,” said the chief, Medaria Arradondo. “It is not part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”

It’s extraordinarily rare for a police chief to testify against one of their officers but it’s not the first time for Arradondo:

 In 2017, he became its first Black chief after his predecessor was forced out in the wake of a police shooting: Another officer, Mohamed Noor, was accused of murder in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, who had called the police to report what she thought was a sexual assault of a woman in an alley behind her home.

In one of the few previous instances of a police chief testifying for the prosecution against an officer, Chief Arradondo took the stand in that case as well; Mr. Noor was ultimately convicted of third-degree murder.

The Chief kept his cool while under cross-examination by pesky, annoying defense attorney Eric Nelson. He has a nasty habit of ending every question with either “right” or “agreed.” He laid several rhetorical traps for the Chief who declined to take the bait.

Given the weakness of the defense’s case, Nelson kept posing hypothetical questions to muddy the waters. Arradondo listened carefully and thought before replying as well as asking Nelson to repeat his questions. Nelson is a wordy lawyer who often trips himself up because he’s in love with his own voice. It’s an occupational hazard.

The Chief has a long record of independence: he sued his own department for racial discrimination and served as the head of internal affairs; not a post that’s guaranteed to win friends among old school coppers.

Arradando was the third senior police officer to testify against Chauvin. His former supervisor and the head of the department’s homicide bureau chimed in earlier. The thin blue line may not be vanishing in Minneapolis but it’s eroding.

One thing I’m not going to do is to predict a verdict. That’s a sucker’s game. I do, however, think that the Chief’s testimony reduced the chances of an outright acquittal as has the defendant’s demeanor. He rarely makes eye contact with the jury instead scribbling notes even when nothing is happening in the courtroom. Chauvin is lucky he’s required to wear a mask: I have a hunch he’s scowling under it. He’s such a cold fish that the visitor’s seat behind the defense table has been empty every day. I’d feel sorry for another defendant but not this guy.

Back to possible outcomes. It will take more than one holdout to hang this jury. It’s difficult for a lone juror to resist peer pressure and refuse to compromise. That’s why Henry Fonda was cast in Twelve Angry Men. It was plausible that the guy who played Young Mr. Lincoln, Tom Joad, Wyatt Earp, and Mr. Roberts would stand on principle and buck the majority. There are few Henry Fondas in real life. It always comes back to John Ford movies with me, doesn’t it?

I’m cautiously optimistic about the trial. My only quibble with the prosecution is they’re using too many lawyers: five by my reckoning. That gives Nelson the chance to play David to the prosecution’s Goliath. Nobody roots for Goliath. But given the complexity of the evidence, it’s understandable. Besides, Nelson is *not* a likeable lawyer so this is a push.

The blue line may be thinning in Minneapolis but whether or not it will happen elsewhere is a different story. If a department has a reform minded chief, it can happen, but we’ve ridden the reform rollercoaster several times in New Orleans. We had a reform chief in Richard Pennington from 1994-2002. NOPD suffered a relapse of “old school” policing after the storm and federal flood so pronounced that a consent decree was imposed by the Feds in 2013. It requires not only strong leadership but eternal vigilance. And you know what they say about that.

A final note about Chief Arradando’s surname. It’s similar to that of longtime WWL-TV weatherman Carl Arredondo.  Carl, too, is a calm man who radiates knowledge and authority. He was my go-to guy during hurricane season: when he looked grim on the Friday before Katrina hit, I knew we were in for it. He had to retire in 2019 because he’s going blind. I wish him well. The same goes for Chief Arradando. Hopefully, he won’t reap the whirlwind after this trial concludes.

The last word goes to Roxy Music:

Calling The Cops On The Cops

I’ve been watching bits and pieces of the trial of Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. I have some random thoughts about what I’ve seen thus far.

The way the defendant’s name is pronounced is jarring to this Louisianan’s ear. In the Gret Stet, it’s pronounced SHOW-VAN. We have some good friends who are Chauvins, no relation.

In Minnesota the name seems to be pronounced SHAW-VIN.

Oh well, what the hell.

The prosecution’s main witness is THE VIDEO. But it needed to be authenticated by Darnella Frazier who filmed the whole incident with her camera phone. She was also a helluva witness. The defense opened the door with a question about her emotional reaction to the murder of George Floyd. The prosecution threw her a hanging curveball and she knocked it out of the park.

Defense lawyer Eric Nelson is a bad cross-examiner whose attempts to provoke witnesses have been largely ineffective. He’s trying to prove that the crowd assembled outside Cup Foods was an angry mob in a bad neighborhood. It hasn’t worked with me but I’m not on the jury. It’s the only audience that matters.

Nelson wisely limited his cross-examination of the underage witnesses. Bullying a 9-year-old girl is a bad look.

He had no compunction about going after Donald Williams who was one of the most voluble eyeball witnesses at the crime scene. He’s a mixed martial arts fighter so he immediately understood the peril George Floyd was in.

Williams heckled the cops with the refrain, “You a bum.” I believe in calling a bum a bum so I’m in complete agreement.

Nelson trotted out the angry black man thing with Williams. It was undermined by the simple fact that he was the one who called the police on the police. I’ve paraphrased it for the post title: cops flows better.

That brings me to firefighter Genevieve Hansen. The defense quite rightly views her as an existential threat. She’s a certified EMT who has the expertise to comment upon Chauvin’s actions.  The police refused to allow her to help George Floyd.

Hansen is also a white chick and, more importantly in Minnesota, Norwegian or Swedish. Probably the former because of the sen.

If you’ve ever seen the original Fargo, you know that her ethnicity is a big deal in heavily Scandinavian Minnesota. It’s like a Cajun witness testifying against a rogue racist cop in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Nelson’s cross-examination of  Hansen made me cross. He patronized her because of her youth and gender. Hansen got irritated and fought back. The judge was not amused. I was.

The prosecution case is off to a roaring start. The hard part comes next: proving intent. In order to convict Chauvin of any degree of murder, intent is the key. His actions meet the depraved indifference standard but intent is the key to locking this bigoted bastard up.

The MSM focus on social media reactions to the trial is amusing but misplaced. The only reaction that matters is that of the jury. Just ask Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger, they know. Mercifully, Eric Nelson is no Perry Mason.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Powell to the Peephole edition

Well, The Darnold still hasn’t figured out a way to funnel his creme de la demenziale directly into the alleged brains of his sycophants, but never fear – his  craken  crack legal team is still making headlines for him!

Sidney Powell argues in new court filing that no reasonable people would believe her election fraud claims
edition.cnn.com ^ | March 23, 2021 | Katelyn Polantz

Posted on 3/22/2021, 11:04:32 PM by Berlin_Freeper

Right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell is claiming in a new court filing that reasonable people wouldn’t have believed as fact her assertions of fraud after the 2020 presidential election.

The election infrastructure company Dominion Voting Systems sued Powell for defamation after she pushed lawsuits and made appearances in conservative media on behalf of then-President Donald Trump to sow doubt about the 2020 election results. Dominion claims that Powell knew her election fraud accusations were false and hurtful to the company.

In a new court filing, Powell’s attorneys write that she was sharing her “opinion” and that the public could reach “their own conclusions” about whether votes were changed by election machines.

“Given the highly charged and political context of the statements, it is clear that Powell was describing the facts on which she based the lawsuits she filed in support of President Trump,” Powell’s defense lawyers wrote in a court filing on Monday.

“Indeed, Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as ‘wild accusations’ and ‘outlandish claims.’ They are repeatedly labelled ‘inherently improbable’ and even ‘impossible.’ Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants’ position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.”

Or, in other words :

******************************
So much for discovery.
1 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:04:32 PM by Berlin_Freeper

 

To: Berlin_Freeper

That is how you get disbarred.

2 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:06:58 PM by Salvavida

To: Berlin_Freeper

Now we see why Trump distanced himself.

3 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:08:04 PM by Trumpisourlastchance

Love your handle, BTW. Probably should change it to “TrumpWASourlastchance”, though.
To: Trumpisourlastchance

“Now we see why Trump distanced himself.”

Hopefully she and Lin Wood get the help they need.

4 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:09:16 PM by BobL (TheDonald.win is now Patriots.win)

To: Berlin_Freeper
does this mean that the CIA server farm raid in Germany didn’t seize the computers used to switch votes from Trump to Biden?

6 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:09:55 PM by JerryBlackwell (some animals are more equal than others)

To: Berlin_Freeper

If CNN says it, it must be true. /sarc

9 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:12:42 PM by Perseverando (Antifa, BLM, RINO’s, Islamonazis, Statists, Communists, DemoKKKrats: It’s a Godlessness disorder!)

A DC judge is going to chew her to pieces.

10 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:13:46 PM by bhl

Magic 8 ball says:
To: Berlin_Freeper

Right-wing lawyer …No need to read further than that slanderous propaganda.

18 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:27:47 PM by TigersEye (Will the Younger Dryas Impact you? )
So she’s really a left-wing lawyer? Working undercover, perhaps?
.
I’m calling a false flag on that one.
.
Continue reading at the “continue reading”….

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Day After Day

La Décalcomanie by Rene Magritte

I’m getting vaccinated this afternoon at the Morial Convention Center. I’m a bit nervous and uncertain as to which vaccine I’ll be getting. I’m fine with any of them. The one-shot J&J variant has considerable appeal because I hate needles. Here’s hoping I get jabbed by someone with a light touch. Just don’t give me a smiley faced Band-Aid. I hope that’s not too much to ask. Enough jab jabber.

It’s pollen season in New Orleans. The mighty oaks are spewing forth their yellow poison (to me) and my eyes are red and runny. If I were a Republican, I’d turn this into a culture war grievance but I’m not so I won’t.

This week’s theme song was written in 1971 by Pete Ham for Badfinger’s Straight Up album. It was a smash hit across the globe hitting number 4 on the Billboard charts in the US&A. The song was produced by George Harrison and featured George on slide guitar and Leon Russell on piano.

We begin with the Badfinger original:

I had no idea that the second version existed until I checked out Second Hand Songs. Ladies and gentlemen, Bradyfinger:

The Brady Bunch kids cut two albums of then contemporary hit songs. It’s weird to hear a chirpy version of Pete Ham’s mournful song. If it weren’t so damn funny, I’d give it the finger, then eat a Butterfinger. Candy is the cure for many of the ills of society including Bradyfinger.

Speaking of fingers:

It’s time to cut out (cut off?) the finger jokes and jump to the break.

Continue reading

Murder Among The Mormons

A little known fact about me: I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Also little known is that there’s a fairly large Greek community there. My papou landed in Salt Lake because he was recruited to work in a Kennecott Copper mine at the docks in New York.

The recruiter was a Greek guy who showed my namesake pictures of Utah and it looked like the Peloponnesian region from which he hailed. He signed up and raised his family there. I still have some kin there and my parents are buried there as well. That concludes this leisurely stroll down memory lane.

The featured image is an example of how popular true crime is. I cannot fathom wanting a throw pillow with the Mormon temple and blood on it but I guess someone will buy it from Red Bubble. There’s no accounting for taste.

Hell, I don’t want a film noir throw pillow, not even a Claire Trevor one. I don’t want to confuse the cat. I’ll leave that to Monty Python:

Let’s exit this long and winding road of an introduction and get down to business. The business of forgery, deception, and murder most foul.

The latest Netflix true crime series Murder Among The Mormons is set in Salt Lake City during the 1980’s. Three pipe bombs exploded in a short period of time. Two people died from the first two bombs and Mark Hofmann was seriously injured by the third. He set the bomb himself. The why of the third bomb is less clear.

Mark Hofmann was a dealer in documents with a specialty in Mormon stuff. Not surprising for a guy who was raised in the LDS church by sternly pious parents. Hofmann turned out to be something of an LDS rebel, which had dire consequences for his friends and family.

Hofmann caused a sensation by “uncovering” the so-called White Salamander letter, which seemed to refute the church’s belief that the Book of Mormon was given to Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni. That’s the dude on top of most Mormon churches. Instead, Smith was led to the fateful cave by a white salamander. It’s hocus pocus either way as far as I’m concerned and that was true for Hofmann as well.

The White Salamander letter was a fake. Hofmann was on the verge of discovery when he planted the bombs. The investigation was extensive and eventually led to him. He is currently serving a life sentence. He ducked the firing squad by telling his story to the Utah Parole Board.

Murder Among The Mormons tells this story in three parts. It was, of course, a huge news story in Utah and was covered thoroughly by the Salt Lake media. We see a lot of their work and they did a helluva job as did the prosecution team.

We spend a great deal of time with some folks close to the master forger: his ex-wife Dorie Olds, and his former friends Shannon Flynn, and Brent Metcalfe. They’re swell talking heads who we get to know over the course of the series.

Here’s the trailer:

Mark Hofmann’s goal was to make a fortune off his fakery and to blow up the Mormon church in the process. Instead, he blew himself up and destroyed his life and the lives of some good people close to him.

I give Murder Among The Mormons 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+. It’s true crime at its finest. I’ll skip the throw pillows.

Let’s close out this bloody, bomby, and pillowy post with some music. The last word goes to Johnny Mercer and Bob Weir.

 

Merrick Garland’s Time

We all hoped that Merrick Garland’s time was in 2016 when President Obama appointed him to the Supreme Court. It was not to be. I still hold a grudge over the way the Turtle killed his nomination. He snuck into the judicial nursery and smothered the nomination with a pillow, then claimed it was an act of principle. The hollowness of that claim was confirmed last fall with the Barrett nomination. It’s always about power with Mitch McConnell.

At the time of the nomination, people were fixated on the labels applied to Judge Garland. People on the left fretted because he was dubbed a moderate by the punditocracy. A reminder: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was called a moderate upon her nomination. Labels have a way of peeling off when a nominee becomes a Supreme. That’s neither here nor there in the case of Merrick Garland as we’ll never know if he would have morphed from a moderate to liberal Justice a la Bill Brennan. It’s why I hate labels. They’re almost as invidious as stereotypes.

Merrick Garland’s time is now. The job is different but it’s one for which he’s perfectly suited: Attorney General. Word of Biden’s choice came the day after the Georgia runoff handed control of the senate to Democrats. It was also the date of the Dipshit Insurrection.

After serving as a line prosecutor, Garland became a deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division during the Clinton administration. He found himself supervising two of DOJ’s most important criminal cases ever: the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber. That’s right, Merrick Garland’s remit was the battle against domestic terrorism. That’s why his time is now.

There’s a must-read piece in the WaPo about the impact the McVeigh-Nichols OKC bombing case had on the next Attorney General:

The truck bomb leveled a section of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring hundreds more in one of the deadliest domestic terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. But as Merrick Garland huddled with the lead prosecutor on the case, he urged caution in presenting the massive amount of evidence from the wreckage.

“Do not bury the crime in the clutter,” he said.

Garland, then a top Justice Department official, was encouraging prosecutors to speed the trial along and jettison superfluous findings in their case against Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of carrying out the 1995 attack and executed in 2001, said Joe Hartzler, the team’s lead attorney. Hartzler said he found the advice so compelling that he wrote the words on a sheet of paper and hung it on an office wall as a rallying cry for his team.

More than two decades later, Garland, 68, is preparing to lead the Justice Department as attorney general and facing a domestic terrorism threat that has metastasized, with white supremacists and conspiracy-minded anti-government types emboldened by their acknowledgment from former president Donald Trump.

I commend the entire article to your attention, but I posted the first four paragraphs to not bury the article in clutter.

Judge Garland has pledged to make the fight against domestic terrorism his top priority. He’s a man of his word so I eagerly await the end of decades of ignoring right-wing extremists.

Judge Garland has another important task: rebuilding the morale of the Justice Department after four years of political hackery during the Trump regime. It wasn’t just Bill Barr, it was Jeff Bo Sessions and the acting AGs, which sounds like the name of a jug band.

Judge Garland has promised to be “the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer” and I take him at his word. White House meddling was an endemic epidemic in the bad old Barr days. It ends now.

The Garland confirmation hearing was characterized by much bad faith tut-tutting by Republican senators. Tailgunner Ted and Senator Cornhole were particularly sanctimonious in discussing political influence at DOJ. It’s why I could only watch snippets of it. They’re afraid that Trump will be prosecuted by the incoming administration. That’s the politicization they fear. Charges against the Impeached Insult Comedian are a distinct possibility but that will be up to Merrick Garland, not Joe Biden. The president has quite rightly vowed to stay out of it.

There’s been much hand wringing about how hard it will be to restore the apolitical culture at DOJ. Rachel Maddow devoted an entire show to the issue. I love Rachel but she’s the quintessential liberal worry wort, especially on this issue.

Will it be easy? No, nothing worthwhile ever is.

Is it doable? Absolutely.

Why? It’s been done before in 1975 in the wake of Watergate and two Attorneys General going to the hoosegow.

The best appointments made by Gerald Ford during his brief presidency were these two bow-tied Chicagoans:

You probably recognize the guy on the left: Justice John Paul Stevens. The man on the right is the one who turned DOJ around and urged President Ford to appoint Stevens to SCOTUS. His name was Edward Levi.

Like Edward Levi and John Paul Stevens, Merrick Garland hails from the Chicago area.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi was a modest unassuming man.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi faced a difficult task. He did the job, then returned to the University of Chicago where he had previously served as dean of the law school and president of the university.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi was Jewish. He was the first Jewish AG; Garland will be the third. Garland has always been reticent about his background, but Cory Booker worked his magic on the judge:

Senator Booker also elicited this strong statement on racial injustice from the next AG:

Back to Jerry Ford’s attorney general.

Edward Levi is one of the most underrated figures in American history. He not only had to clean up the DOJ, but he also had to reform the FBI, which J. Edgar Hoover had turned into his private police force. He accomplished both in two years. It can be done again.

1975 was Edward Levi’s time.

2021 is Merrick Garland’s time.

The last word goes to Bill Withers:

The Slow-Motion Reckoning

I wanted to let the dust settle before writing my detailed thoughts about the second impeachment trial. I dispensed hot takes during the five days of the trial. It’s time for reflection.

I’m disappointed but not surprised by some of the reactions to how the final day of the impeachment trial played out. As always, some Democrats are lost in the weeds. Details *do* matter but so does the big picture. I consider the 57-43 vote to be both a rebuke to Republicans and a moral victory. In an election, 57% is a landslide. For example, in the 1984 Reagan landslide he received 58% of the popular vote. Saturday’s vote is only a devastating loss if people allow it to be.

The “always blame Democrats” group is apoplectic about the witness kerfuffle. They say the managers should have stuck to their guns. Many of them were among the most ardent proponents of a second impeachment. They knew, or should have known, that the Senate would vote to acquit. The final vote was no surprise. The current GOP is the party of selfishness and cowardice.

The fact of the matter is that none of the potential witnesses was willing to come forward voluntarily. Subpoenas would have to be issued. That could have delayed the trial indefinitely. The House Intelligence Committee ordered Don McGahn to appear before them in April, 2019. That’s 22 months ago. It’s still in the courts. I am not making this up.

The House managers threw a Hail Mary pass on witnesses; it was not entirely a flop: they got Congresswoman Beutler Herrera’s statement into evidence. It would have been posturing for them to press on without the voluntary cooperation of witnesses, not to mention Senate Democrats. I’m not a member of the “heroes and villains” caucus, I’m a member of the “get shit done” caucus.

Delivering on the Biden agenda is the most important thing Congressional Democrats can do. When the Senate is in impeachment session, it cannot conduct any other business. In a 50-50 Senate that could have resulted in a prolonged deadlock. People are suffering: the COVID relief bill cannot wait. If Democrats don’t deliver, the 2022 mid-terms could be an undeserved windfall for the GOP. They deserve to be beaten like a drum.

It may not feel like it, but a reckoning is on the horizon. This was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment vote in American history. Senate GOPers relied on a procedural fig leaf to justify their cowardly vote. Defenses of Trump’s conduct were rare after the vote. Mitch McConnell’s speech was another attempt to have it both ways, but he denounced Trump’s actions before, during, and after the Dipshit Insurrection. He made it clear that his defense of Pennywise was over.

After the first impeachment, most Republicans defended the Impeached Insult Comedian’s “perfect phone call.” This time, they’re trying to split the difference and looking ridiculous in the process. They’re all Lamar Alexander this time.

The Kaiser of Chaos remains in serious legal jeopardy. There are criminal investigations in Georgia, New York, and the District of Columbia. There will be civil lawsuits from those harmed during the Twelfth Night White Riot. The reckoning will not come as quickly as we would like but it’s coming. A slow-motion reckoning is better than no reckoning at all.

Notice the difference in Trump’s “celebration” this time. He issued a written statement. As of yet, he hasn’t called into Fox & Friends or Hannity. His profile remains low because he’s frightened of what is to come now that he’s out of office. He incited an insurrection for purely selfish motives: to save his worthless ass from jail and/or penury.

While he’s not disqualified from running for president again, Pennywise will spend most of the next four years in court as a defendant in civil and criminal cases. The slow drip of revelations will damage his standing among his supporters. They’re not all QAnon shamen and Proud Boys. Many of them will want to get on with their lives. Donald John Trump is the past, not the future.

A reminder of why I started calling him President* Pennywise in 2019:

We recently watched the 2017 movie IT, which is based on the Stephen King novel. I wasn’t terribly familiar with that terrible tale except for the sinister clown Pennywise. I loved the movie and realized that it was remade for two possible reasons: the popularity of Stranger Things and the rise of Trumpism.

Pennywise the evil clown (is there any other kind?) thrives on fear. He gets stronger the more he fearmongers. It’s what emboldens him to get out of the gutter and come into the open. The Insult Comedian never leaves the gutter BUT he too thrives on fear. That’s why I mock him: he feeds off our fear and recoils from our scorn.

He wants his enemies to fear him. He feeds off that fear. It’s time to eject him from your heads and turn him into the joke that he is. He tried but failed to destroy our country for base and selfish reasons. Don’t let him do it again.

His transformation into the Kaiser of Chaos is complete. He’s an old man in exile at Mar-a-Doorn. He’ll spend the rest of his life bitterly complaining about his mistreatment. He has much to complain about but so do we. He’s a coward who threw his own Veep under the proverbial bus on that fateful day. The betrayals will keep mounting and his support will erode. Will it be as fast as we would like? No, but it’s already happening.

A slow-motion reckoning is not the most desirable outcome, but it will have to do. It’s time for the legal system to deal with Trump and for Congress to do the work of the American people.

Repeat after me: former President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Trial and Errors edition

OK people – ISO suits on? Let’s dive in! We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Trump’s impeachment defense team leaves less than two weeks before trial
CNN ^ | 1/31/21 | Gloria Borger

Posted on 1/31/2021, 7:12:46 AM by jstolzen

(CNN) Former President Donald Trump’s five impeachment defense attorneys have left a little more than a week before his trial is set to begin, according to people familiar with the case, amid a disagreement over his legal strategy.

It was a dramatic development in the second impeachment trial for Trump, who has struggled to find lawyers willing to take his case. And now, with legal briefs due next week and a trial set to begin only days later, Trump is clinging to his election fraud charade and suddenly finds himself without legal representation.

*********************

Looks like a major disagreement on strategy – Trump apparently wanted his legal team to focus on election fraud, and they wanted to focus instead on legality of trying a FORMER President.Either way..not good this close to the charade..er..trial.

1 posted on 1/31/2021, 7:12:46 AM by jstolzen
Oh, I thought it was an excellent move. But then, I hate The Darnold’s guts.
To: jstolzen

Sorry. CNN is hardly a credible news source.

5 posted on 1/31/2021, 7:20:00 AM by Blennos ( )

Need to reload so you can shoot that messenger some more?
To: jstolzen
Get a couple of first year law students.

Looks like he took your advice.

He doesn’t need any more firepower than that for this utter foolishness.

America is far more interested in their MIA $1400 checks than impeaching a private citizen.

7 posted on 1/31/2021, 7:22:40 AM by jazminerose (America’s most dangerous domestic terrorists—believers and objectors.)

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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator
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Sometimes, even when the replier to a deleted post doesn’t quote the deletee, it’s easy to figure out who posted the deleted comment:
To: snarkytart
So, you seem to doubt that his legal team has, indeed, left?
11 posted on 1/31/2021, 7:25:29 AM by jstolzen
(there is no visible post from snarkyfart before post number 11)
To: DoodleDawg
numerous sources that someone close to the ….blah blah blah

whatever.

19 posted on 1/31/2021, 7:40:19 AM by snarkytart

I’ll see your “whatever” and raise you a “holy fuck”.
To: snarkytart
What happened to Jay Sekulow? He and Rudy did a great job last time.

22 posted on 1/31/2021, 7:44:18 AM by Saveourcountry

To: Saveourcountry

He and Rudy did a great job last time

You forgot the /s

59 posted on 1/31/2021, 8:22:28 AM by Jim Noble (He who saves his nation violates no law)
No kidding.
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(Tommy T resists doing a search and replace to change every “snarkytart” reference to “snarkyfart”)
To: snarkytart

Please watch your language. Thanks.

42 posted on 1/31/2021, 8:04:40 AM by Sidebar Moderator

To: Zwerni1

Why can’t he argue voter fraud?He was charged in the impeachment of “Incitement of Insurrection”. The case at hand is whether or not he did that. Arguing election fraud is:

A. Admitting he incited insurrection as a result of his being cheated.

-or-

B. Not pertinent to the fact that he didn’t incite insurrection.

Any good lawyer on the other side would argue that it has no relevance to the case, and the biased judge would throw it out as inadmissible.

John Roberts himself recused from this, knowing that it was unconstitutional and a circus. Trump and his team should do the same. As I mentioned, his presence only gives the charade credence and will not change a single vote for or against.

49 posted on 1/31/2021, 8:16:14 AM by Magnatron
One Freeper finds the silver lining in this particular cloud :
To: Jim Noble
Agree with every word you wrote. .At least Trump isn’t on Twitter blasting this idiocy right now.
.

 

Jack Dorsey actually did him a favor.

54 posted on 1/31/2021, 8:21:23 AM by hcmama

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…along with the entire country….
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To: Repealthe17thAmendment

and legal professionals know that if they assist Trump, their careers will be ruined

Nonsense.

Any competent lawyer knows that allowing election fraud as a defense is equivalent in this forum to his client pleading guilty, any lawyer who would allow it SHOULD have his career ruined.

66 posted on 1/31/2021, 8:26:28 AM by Jim Noble (He who saves his nation violates no law)
To: jstolzen
Good grief…Trump is his own worse (sic) enemy!!!

You’re just now figuring that out, are you?

Unless he gets past this impeachment mess there is no future for Trump, no 2024.

121 posted on 1/31/2021, 9:57:03 AM by devane617 (‘It’s Only Donuts Ma’am’)

More snarky farts after the break –

 

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