Why Democrats should block Gorsuch

Last year, Obama nominated a highly-qualified person to the Supreme Court but the Republicans, using their “block everything” strategy that they’d held during all eight years of the Obama administration, refused to “advise and consent” as the Constitution requires and didn’t even hold a single hearing on the nominee — something completely unprecedented in American history.Courtroom-Gavel

Now they’re upset that Democrats are planning to do something similar to them.

Oh, you big babies. You can dish it out but you can’t take it.

“But this is different,” they say. “We didn’t think the President should appoint someone when there was an election near, because they people should decide this.”

Well, guess what? The people did decide. The people supported Hillary Clinton by a pretty big margin. The Electoral College may have decided differently, but that’s not what you said. The majority of the people didn’t want you or your President to pick the next Supreme Court Justice.

How’s this, then? The President shouldn’t appoint a Supreme Court Justice when he is being investigated for treason. Isn’t that much better reason to deny it? Oh, right — it’s very different when it’s your leader who is accused of crimes that could have him impeached and removed soon.

Typical Republican logic:  “Never hold us to the same standards by which we hold you!”


Can Obama sue Trump?

Trump is usually the one randomly suing everyone, but lately people have been asking if Obama can sue Trump for the lies he’s been telling about him.

The short answer is “No.”

The long answer is “Noooooooooooooooooo.”

Defamation includes libel (written) and slander (spoken). In order to win a case, you have to prove three things:

First, that the statement was false. This is usually the easiest thing to prove, but sometimes the thing being said is merely an opinion. trump-liar“Joe is a jerk” is not true or false. “Joe is a pedophile” is a lie.

But there’s even more to it than that — you have to show that the person who made the statement knew that it was false or said it with reckless disregard as to whether it was true. (If it actually was true, then we stop there. Truth is always a defense against libel and slander).

In this case, the argument would be that no matter how much Trump believes it to be true, it just isn’t. Just like his belief that Obama wasn’t born in America, or that millions of people voted illegally, or practically anything else that pops into his brain that he tweets out that have no correlation to reality. Trump has a reckless disregard for the truth, and that means that he can’t use as a defense that he reasonably thought it was true.

And to make it even more difficult, the standard for celebrities and politicians is even higher than it is for a private citizen. You have to show that not only was the statement false and that the person knew it was false, but that they said it with malicious intent — they wanted to harm the other person, and weren’t just repeating some rumor or something. (Since almost everything Trump says has malicious intent, this requirement may be meant.)

So if you can show that the statement was a lie, you still have a ways to go.

The second thing is to show that other people believed it. If someone calls you a martian, then that’s clearly a lie. But if no one believes them, then what’s the point? The lie has to be believed by others, and by lots of others. The fact that a bunch of idiots who watch Fox News believe a lie doesn’t mean much — those people believe anything.

Finally, you have to show that you were seriously harmed in some way and not just insulted. You need to show that because of the lie, you lost your job and people are throwing bricks at your house and spitting on you as you walk down the street. You have to prove damage.

So if someone says “Joe is gay” and it’s not true and the person who said it knows that it’s not true, you’ve met the first burden. If everyone believes it, then you’ve met the second burden. But if no one cares and you aren’t harmed in the slightest other than perhaps being upset or embarrassed or insulted, then you have no case.

I don’t think Obama was harmed in the slightest by the latest Trump lie. The people who hate Obama still do, and those of us who have a brain still don’t believe anything Trump says.

So let me clarify:  Can Obama sue trump? Sure, anyone can sue anyone. Does he have a chance of winning?  Nah.



Driving under the Influence of Marijuana and the state of the law

Here in Pennsylvania, medical marijuana is about to become legal, so clearly our legislature will have to address that with the DUI laws which currently prohibits any amount of marijuana to be in your blood when you drive, even if you smoked it weeks earlier. So far, they’ve done nothing. It may take a few appeals from defense attorneys like me before that happens.

Years ago, that law was challenged but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that since marijuana was illegal, and since driving is a privilege and not a right, that you could be charged even if the amount in your system was minimal.marijuana-laws

I’ve been waiting for a client to come in and tell me she smoked in Colorado or somewhere else where it’s legal and then got pulled over in Pennsylvania days later and charged with a DUI for marijuana. I could then argue that the first part of the argument for our DUI laws was invalid because the marijuana was legal at the time smoked.

Realistically, though, if you’re not under the influence of it days later, you probably wouldn’t get pulled over anyway since you’re not showing any signs of being under the influence. A cop can’t demand you take a blood test without some sort of reasonable suspicion that you’re under the influence, even if you look like a stoner.

Where it still comes into play, though, is in situations like this: Let’s say you have had a beer and the cop smells alcohol on your breath and then makes you take a blood test. The blood test shows that your Blood Alcohol Count is .07% which is legal and under the DUI limits but the test also shows a presence of marijuana that you smoked days earlier. Now he can charge you, and in Pennsylvania the presence of drugs carries a harsher penalty than just alcohol. Technically and scientifically, you were “under the influence” of neither but legally, you were for marijuana. And that’s where the problem lies.

Remember that even when marijuana becomes legal, it will still be illegal to drive under its influence. Hell, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of cough syrup if it affects your driving.

Even in Colorado, you can’t drive while under the influence. However, their law (as I understand it) says what the limits have to be in your system, just like the law does now with alcohol. A small amount isn’t enough.

I bring this all up because of a recent decision in Arizona that held that simply having marijuana in your system is insufficient for a DUI conviction absent a showing of some sort of driving impairment. In other words, even if the amount shows that you just smoked it, if there is no evidence that your driving was impaired, you can’t be charged.  (This is unlike the “per se” alcohol laws that say if you have more than .08% in your system you can be charged even if your driving was perfect.)

Ironically, I have mixed feelings on this, as I have previously argued in favor of lowering the Blood Alcohol levels from .08% to .05% as it is in most of the rest of the world (as long as the penalty is non-criminal and minor). I personally believe that there should be a level for marijuana as well, even though I don’t know what that level should be.

Should you talk to the police?


That was easy!

Oh, fine. Let me go into a little more detail.

If you are the victim of a crime or need assistance in any way, absolutely talk to the police. But that’s not what this question is really asking. If there is any way that you might possibly be considered as a criminal, should you talk to the police? The answer is always no.shut-up

The main reason is that people just don’t know when they should or should not talk. So it’s better to just not talk in all situations.

Will it help you to talk to the police sometimes in these situations? Only if you have an air-tight alibi. (“I was in Europe all week, here’s my passport.”) The problem is that many people think what they say will help, and it doesn’t.

“If I explain to the cop why I hit the guy, he’ll certainly understand and not charge me” will not help you.

“Yes, I was there but I wasn’t involved with any of those guys” just gave the police half of what they need.

“I only had two beers, so surely the cop will understand that I’m not really drunk if I tell him that” isn’t in your best interest to say. (And don’t call him Shirley.)

Remember, it’s not your job to prove yourself innocent. It’s their job to prove you guilty. They need to prove that you were there, that you did something, and that the something you did was against the law. If you say, “Yes, I was there that night, but that didn’t happen” you’ve already made 50% of the case for them.

Remember: the police are trained to get confessions. That makes their job so much easier when that happens (and makes my job so much harder). Note that I said they are trained to get confessions. That’s not the same thing as saying they are trained to get the truth.

Look, I’m a trial lawyer. I’m trained to get confessions in a different way. I look at the statements made by officers and witnesses and look for errors, mistakes, misunderstandings, and lies. And I will use what you said against you at trial whenever I can. You’ll have to explain why you said what you did when you did. You think the District Attorney isn’t going to do the same thing to you, the defendant? Why give the DA the ammunition needed for that?

No, remain silent, as is your Constitutional right. Provide your name and address and identification if asked; don’t argue with the officer; don’t talk about your rights; remain polite and calm. Let the lawyer do the arguing for you later.

If nothing else, by not talking, I can work out a better deal for you if you have to plead to a crime. If you’ve already given the police everything they need, I have nothing to negotiate with on my side; nothing I can offer in exchange for a better deal.

The best legal advice I can give anyone is really quite simple:

Shut up!

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.



Don’t Listen to Republicans telling you the Democrats do the Same Thing

Republican Senators announced today that they would refuse to even consider anyone Obama nominates for the Supreme Court, despite the fact that the President has almost an entire year left in his term. (Apparently, in their minds, Obama only gets 3/5ths of a term).

This is completely unprecedented.w936uez3tdwl6tlcz20y (1)

But hey, don’t let facts stand in your way, Republicans. You never have before.

I’ve certainly seen a lot of it recently.

First, they claimed that Senator Chuck Schumer had given a speech where he said that the Senate should not approve of a Bush nominee in his final year. Of course, all you have to do is read the transcript of that speech to see that the comment was followed by “except in extraordinary circumstances” — and then he explained that the Senate should not approve someone so far out of the mainstream as to be unacceptable.

In other words, the Senate should do its job, have hearings, but should exercise its Constitutional duty to deny a candidate they disagree with.

This is not the same thing as refusing to consider ANY candidate, no matter how qualified.

Then they pointed out how Obama had objected to Justice Alito when he was a Senator, and had threatened a filibuster over it. Yet the Senate still had hearings about the candidate and ultimately did approve him.

This is not the same thing as refusing to consider ANY candidate, no matter how qualified.

Then they found a quote from Joe Biden which basically said that the Senate should not be a rubber-stamp and should refuse to accept any candidate they don’t think would be a good choice.

This is not the same thing as refusing to consider ANY candidate, no matter how qualified.

And it goes on. The right wing blogs post articles about how the Democrats have stood up to Supreme Court nominees in the past, and then they feebly try to fool their gullible readers into thinking this is the same thing as refusing to even hold hearings on any candidate.

It’s sad that some of my more intelligent conservative friends fall for this bullshit, but that’s what it is. There is no way to compare the Senate’s legitimate function to “advise and consent” and even to reject nominees they don’t want with the current Republican policy of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying “Lalalalala I can’t hear you” concerning any candidate.




The Illuminati Killed Scalia!

All the evidence is there, clearly. How can you sheeple not see it? It must be the chemtrails Obama is spraying into the air.

Look, Obama wanted him dead and we all know Obama runs the Illuminati (I mean, I don’t think I need to go into the obvious evidence for that). antonin_scalia3-620x412And Obama is clever — he has a lot of enemies, and he is throwing us off his track by having someone near the bottom of his enemies list killed instead of ones at the top! Further, instead of having Scalia killed near the start of Obama’s term in order to prevent Scalia from voting against Obama’s wishes (as he has done for seven years), he decided to wait until his term is almost up where the death does him the least amount of good!

What a distraction! Good thing we aren’t going to fall for that (mostly because our tinfoil hats prevent the chemtrails and hidden radio waves from brainwashing us).

Obama is even clever enough to plan this at a time when Scalia was surrounded by his friends instead of when he was alone in his home. Obviously, he used mind wave technology to make the friends hear Scalia say that he didn’t feel well just before he went to bed and then to have all of the friends not notice the ninja assassins creeping into Scalia’s bedroom. But we’re not fooled!

It’s perfect! It’s so perfect because absolutely no one, including his own family, thinks there was anything suspicious about an overweight 78-year old dying in his sleep, and so have they have not requested an autopsy.

Clearly Obama did this. Who else would want Scalia dead?

No. Wait. I just realized. Who would most want Scalia dead? Scalia, the “strict constructionalist” who could convince a majority of the court that someone born in Canada should not be considered a “natural born citizen” and thus ineligible to be President? Someone from Texas, maybe (where Scalia died)?

The plot thickens!