Robocop vs. The Dallas Shooter

So much for the First Law.

Many civil libertarians are upset about the robot that was used to blow up the Dallas sniper. And I can kind of understand the concerns. We don’t want police blowing up people using robots, acting as judge, jury and executioner; we want people captured so they can face justice.robocop

But you know, sometimes you can’t capture people.

Micah Johnson killed cops. He wanted to kill more. He knew he was surrounded and knew that if he surrendered, he’d be getting the death penalty (This is Texas, after all). What would a few more cop deaths matter? His goal was to lure the cops in and hopefully take a few more down before he died.

So if I have the choice between risking the life of a cop (hell, of any human being) and that of a robot, then bye-bye, Daneel Olivaw*.

The robot is a tool. Like any tool, it can be used for good things and for evil things. I don’t disagree with the police’s use of the robot here.


*go ahead and google it

Criminal defense attorneys support crime!

There’s a new meme out there against Hillary Clinton which is full of lies, false quotes, and misleading information but that’s nothing new. (You can read about it on Snopes if you wish). The part that bothers me is this:

It criticizes her for representing a criminal when she was a young defense attorney and calls her an “advocate for rapists.”justice

This is the kind of attack we’ve seen before, usually from conservatives. It’s sad that I am seeing my liberal friends post this crap.

Conservatives who say things like that are hypocrites who say they love America while hating one of the very reasons the Founding Fathers fought the revolution: To rebel against a government that ignored basic rights. They put those rights in the first Ten Amendments: The right to counsel, the right to remain silent, the right to not be searched without a warrant and probable cause, the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment — more than half of the Bill of Rights are about criminal rights.

And what’s to prevent the government from abusing these rights? Why, it’s defense attorneys.

But when we hold police responsible for illegal searches or argue that our clients’ rights are being abused, what do people say? “Oh, he got off on a technicality.” Yes, a technicality called the United States Constitution — the very foundation of our nation.

This is like the people who demand that freedom of speech be denied to speech they disagree with while defending that same right for themselves. Our freedoms are meaningless if they don’t apply to everyone, even people we hate.

Look, most of the people I represent are guilty of something. 95% of all cases end up with a plea. My job is to make sure that the innocent are defended and the guilty don’t have their rights denied or otherwise get screwed by the system.

This is patriotic. This is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended. This is what makes America great — that we, the people, can stand up to a powerful government that does wrong and can win without resorting to violence.

To imply that a defense attorney performing his or her job “supports crime” is an insult not just to attorneys, but to all Americans.



Driving While Black

Let me tell you about a recent case I had.

My client is a young black kid in college.  He’s never been in trouble before in his life. His dad is a successful businessman.

Being a good kid, he was allowed to borrow Dad’s expensive car to hang out with his friends. He did.

On the way home, he gets pulled over by a cop, who cites as the reason an “obscured license plate,” meaning it was covered in mud or something and the officer couldn’t read it. They’re allowed to stop to make sure it isn’t a false plate or something. (Actually, these days, cops can pull you over for just about anything, but that’s a topic for another day.)

My client is cooperative and polite.police car

The officer then says to my client that he wants to search the car. Thanks to a recent decision by a Republican-run Pennsylvania Supreme Court,*  you have no privacy rights in your car and the police can pretty much search whenever they want to. So my client, not wanting to cause a fuss, agrees. The officer finds a small amount of marijuana, left there by one of my client’s friends.

It should be noted that the officer detected no sign that my client was under the influence of marijuana — because he wasn’t. My client says he never smokes, and I have no reason to doubt that. Officers look for things like the smell of burnt marijuana, glassy eyes, and you know, the kind of way stoned people act. Had the officer thought there was any sign of that he would have taken my client in for a blood test and then, if there was a positive result, charged him with Driving Under the Influence.

So my client gets charged with Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana.

He continues on his way home.

As he nears home, he gets pulled over again. This time, this new officer says he’s pulling him over because the windows were too harshly tinted. Same thing happens — he doesn’t suspect my client of having committed any crime but demands a search anyway, and finds a grinder that the first cop missed. Now my client gets charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of Marijuana (for the few seeds found in the grinder).

Notice that the first cop never mentioned tinted windows and the second cop never mentioned an obscured license plate. Note as well that my client was never charged with the supposed reasons for the stops.

Now, for all my white friends: How often has this happened to you? How often are you pulled over for tinted windows or an obscured license plate or something else that is solely based on the officer’s opinion? A light out is an objective thing that makes sense for a traffic stop; how much tint is too much? How much mud is too much? Those kinds of things are judgment calls.

In my job as a defense attorney, I see those kinds of stops all the time, and almost always for young, dark-skinned men in expensive cars. In fact, as I have written about before, my Office Manager’s husband — a dark-skinned Hispanic businessman — gets pulled over probably once every two or three months for these kinds of reasons. He stands by and waits while the officer searches his car and always finds nothing and then he either gets a warning or a minor ticket that is hardly worth fighting over.

And many of my clients have similar stories, the worst of which are when the police find money and no other sign of criminal activity but keep the money because “it must have come from drugs!” Often, the cost of hiring an attorney to fight to get the money back is more than the amount of money taken, so ca-ching! Free money for the police fund. (That’s where a lot of those police tanks and other military gear comes from, you know.)

Now, are all police profiling black drivers? Oh, of course not. But when you see it happen as often as those of us in the criminal justice system see, you realize that there’s something going on here.

Once I was discussing a case in chambers with a judge who said that the police clearly knew what they were doing since she sees so many cases where drugs have been found during these searches. “That’s because you never hear about the stops where nothing is found,” I countered. “It looks like 100% of all searches are successful to you, because those are the only cases that come before you.” To her credit, she nodded, as if she had never considered that fact before.

And I think that’s where a lot of white people are — they don’t personally see it, so they think it doesn’t happen.

Now back to my case: There were two different DAs assigned to this case because they happened in two different jurisdictions, but I got them to talk to each other. They saw what was going on agreed to give my client probation without a verdict — he doesn’t plead guilty, and as long as he stays out of trouble and doesn’t test positive for any drugs (not a problem for him) the matter will eventually be dismissed and wiped from his record.

And boy, has he learned not to let those particular friends ride in his car any more.


*The good news is that thanks to some of these judges now being forced to resign due to various scandals, including one judge who is now in jail, a bunch of Democrats were elected to replace them. So this policy may change in the future.

Lying Liars respond to Planned Parenthood attack with lying lies

Carly Fiorino has made a name for herself by repeating a lie about Planned Parenthood selling baby parts, based on a false video that even its creator has admitted was a lie.  The rest of the GOP candidates haven’t called her out for this, and in fact have repeated other lies about PP while spending much of their time talking about how evil PP is for doing a perfectly legal medical procedure.

cartoon by Darren Bell

cartoon by Darren Bell

And people listen. They do. Of course they do — that’s the whole point. That’s why Planned Parenthood facilities all over the United States have been the subject of vandalism, arson, and shootings.

So when another one of those crazed loners who listens to them kills those “evil people” it’s hard to deny that it is because of the things that crazed loner heard those people say.

Unless, of course, you’re a liar to begin with. Then it’s easy to deny facts. After all, what’s one more lie?

These liars are now throwing up all sorts of lies to distance themselves from this guy.

“He was a trangendered leftist activist,” said Ted Cruz — because, you know, when you think of those transgendered leftist activists, what comes to mind are crazed loners who have crosses all over their walls living in a trailer surrounded by guns in the middle of nowhere. It’s practically a cliche.  In the real world, rational people can’t deny that the shooter was a right-wing conservative Christian, based on stuff found in his home and reports from his ex-wife.

This was a bank robbery gone bad,” goes another lie, repeated often by Fox News, only because this happened next door to a bank. They can’t quite explain why the shooter was saying “No more baby parts” during the botched bank robbery though. (The local police, by the way, have called this a “politically motivated shooting” and deny that there was a bank robbery at all.)

And then they continue to lie about the baby parts.

I guess that’s what happens when you’re addicted to being a liar. Once you start, it’s hard to stop.


Jaywalkers, Zealous Cops, and The Scientific Method

Jaywalking is the example you give for the most minor offense possible under the law; it ranks up there with the “no spitting on the sidewalk” ordinances.

Jaywalking is a “summary” offense, like getting a traffic ticket, less than a misdemeanor, and carrying no jail time. If you get caught jaywalking, the worst that can possibly happen is that a cop will give you a ticket and you’ll pay a fine of $25 or so.

Well, unless you’re a young black male.

A few days ago, I posted the above video on my Facebook page, which caused quite a commotion. A cop arrests a kid for jaywalking to catch the bus, detains him, and then is seen beating the kid, who apparently fights back (as would anyone who is being beaten). Even then, the kid doesn’t run away, and the cop then calls over 8 more who surround the kid and harass him.

That’s all I know, based on the video. So I formed an opinion that the cops had tremendously overreacted over the most innocuous “crime” possible.

Some of my Facebook friends took me to task over this, complaining that I didn’t know the whole picture, and then they proceeded to come up with a bunch of possibilities that could have caused the officer to act this way.

Well, geez, I could do that too. What if the kid had fought the officer? What if he was seen with a weapon? What if the kid was actually a lizard space alien who had hypnotized the cop as part of a vast conspiracy to overthrow the planet Earth and steal our women?

Making up stuff to justify your already-held position is really easy to do.

Still, I was accused of being dishonest for making a decision about something when I don’t have all the facts.

Well, that’s how it works. You base an opinion on the facts you have before you. You don’t make up theories about stuff you have no evidence for. And if new facts emerge, you change your opinion to take those into account.

That’s the scientific method, usable in everyday life.

The problem is with people who make up “what if” scenarios to give them a conclusion opposite of all the facts before you. That’s a bit intellectually dishonest, if you ask me. While there is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t have enough evidence to form an opinion yet” there is definitely something wrong with saying “I have an opinion but it’s not based on any facts we have right now.”

Then again, often these are the same people who will never change their minds when new facts emerge; they’re the ones who never let facts spoil their conclusions.

Clock blocked

by Guest Blogger Gail Z. Martin

I know there are good public school teachers and good principals. My kids have had some great teachers over the years, and I have friends whom I know are fantastic teachers.


Do you think the fact that this was a Muslim boy named Ahmed instead of a freckle-faced blonde kid named “Skippy” might have made a difference?

And then there are the paranoid idiots. We’ve had some of those through the years, too. My two oldest daughters, both straight-A, Advanced Placement students, were so excited that when they went to college, they no longer had to have an armed guard assigned to them in order to use the bathroom.

Yeah. We call it ‘partner peeing’. Even the guards seemed to be embarrassed about it, but it was school policy because…..bathrooms.

As a parent, you have to protect your kids by anticipating how idiots think. I warned my kids not to turn in any creative writing assignments that might be interpreted as violent or depressed because there’d be a teacher out there speed-dialing DSS unable to believe someone could have imagined something not real (see definition of ‘imagined’). My son wanted to wear his trench coat one day when it rained and he had to wear a suit for a presentation. I didn’t let him because I didn’t want to run into some teacher who thinks trench coats are evil (google ‘trench coat mafia’ if you don’t remember). Ditto doodling. When I was in high school, the boys used to doodle all kinds of weapons, explosives, and …ahem…anatomically correct elements on the covers of their notebooks. Now that would be a fast-track to the front office, with a paddywagon waiting.

One year, the school district banned the wearing of plain white t-shirts because….gangs. (Apparently gangs with absolutely no fashion sense.) Last year they sent home threatening letters promising to suspend any kid who didn’t wear his/her school photo ID to school (and then didn’t actually issue the photo IDs for two months, and dropped the whole thing by January). There’s plenty of crazy to go around.

The White House response

So here we have it, a smart kid who will probably end up founding the next Apple or Microsoft or inventing a break-through artificial organ or building some kind of amazing new technology, not only arrested for building a clock, but facing a police chief who made this statement: “Chief Larry Boyd said that the teen should have been ‘forthcoming’ by going beyond the description that what he made was a clock.” (CNN). HOW, exactly, can you be forthcoming about saying a clock is a clock? Perhaps a thesaurus listing of synonyms?

We need not only more money to hire better teachers and retain good teachers, but also a shift in our culture to value smart people instead of seeing them as someone to be mocked or frightened of.

I hope this kid and his parents sue the school and the cops and win a big enough settlement to send him to the best engineering schools in the country. And they’d better get that ‘arrest’ expunged from his record while they’re at it.

Gail Z. Martin is a novelist who writes thrilling fantasy and science fiction adventures. Her latest novel is the steampunk adventure “Iron Blood.” Read my recent interview with her here!

It’s time we started profiling conservative white men

Let’s face facts, people. Other than 9/11, the greatest terrorist attacks in America have been predominately from conservative, Christian white males. You are far more likely to die from a Christian attack than a Muslim one here.  It’s time we got rid of our political correctness and admit that these people all want us dead!

Who blew up a building in Kansas City? Conservative white guys. Who flew that plane into the IRS building? o-CHARLESTON-CHURCH-SHOOTING-570A conservative white guy. Who shot up the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin? Who murdered people in that church in Knoxville? Who blew up a bomb at the Olympic park in Atlanta? Who shot up the Holocaust Museum? And who, today, killed children in a church in South Carolina?

Hint: It wasn’t Muslims.

Those are only some of the examples. Clearly, we must start treating all conservative Christian white men as terrorists. Perhaps we should start deporting them all, regardless of whether we have evidence against them or not. And it’s not like we need to worry about rights like habeas corpus — these are terrorists we’re talking about. Simply being a conservative Christian white male is enough to be a suspect.

This policy of profiling and saying that every conservative white male is a potential terrorist and therefore deserves no rights should be quite popular among the people who have for years argued against giving rights to suspected terrorists: Conservative white males.

Oh, and we also need to start profiling babies. Last year, more people in America were killed by toddlers handling guns than by Muslims committing acts of terror. Clearly, babies cannot be trusted — our only solution is to profile them all and place restrictions on where babies can be taken. (I mean, duh, we’re not going to restrict guns, are we? They have rights, you know!)

* If you can’t see the point I am making here, please refrain from the angry responses.