Rebirth of Reason

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Post 180

Saturday, April 11, 2009 - 4:05pmSanction this postReply
Medieval Iceland: not just for libertarians.
Two academic papers I found.

"Avoiding Legal Judgment: The Submission of Disputes to Arbitration in Medieval Iceland" by William Ian Miller. The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Apr., 1984), pp. 95-134.
"...  why and under what circumstances certain disputes lead to arbitrated settlements (saett, pl. saettir)4 rather than to a legal judgment or to violent self-help. The paper is intended as an introduction to a rich collection of evidence ..."

"Choosing the Avenger: Some Aspects of the Bloodfeud in Medieval Iceland and England" by William Ian Miller. Law and History Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Autumn, 1983), pp. 159-204.
"...  evidence is not abundant, and what there is is strange and often difficult to interpret. Yet, there is enough material to justify the attempt to describe how a person, who for some reason is not able to take vengeance, is able to oblige another to take up the feud."

Post 181

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - 4:41amSanction this postReply
Police as highway robbers.

Texas police shake down drivers, lawsuit claims

updated 2:40 p.m. EDT, Tue May 5, 2009


The Tennessee man says he was ordered to pull his car over and surrender his jewelry and $8,500 in cash that he had with him to buy a new car.  But Daniels couldn't go to the police to report the incident.  The men who stopped him were the police.

 George Bowers, Tenaha's longtime mayor, says his police follow the law. And through her lawyers, Shelby County District Attorney Lynda Russell denied any impropriety

 According to public records obtained by CNN using open-records laws, an account funded by property forfeitures in Russell's office included $524 for a popcorn machine, $195 for candy for a poultry festival, and $400 for catering.

In addition, Russell donated money to the local chamber of commerce and a youth baseball league. A local Baptist church received two checks totaling $6,000.

And one check for $10,000 went to Barry Washington, a Tenaha police officer whose name has come up in several complaints by stopped motorists. The money was paid for "investigative costs," the records state.

Washington would not comment for this report but has denied all allegations in his answer to Guillory's lawsuit.

 Bowers, who has been Tenaha's mayor for 54 years, is also named in the lawsuit. But he said his employees "will follow the law."


Good thing that they have limited constitutional government in the state of Texas, otherwise, armed men would...  But, then, of course, as the people of Texas have the right to own firearms without restriction, they can keep the government in line... 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 5/06, 4:58am)

Post 182

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - 6:11amSanction this postReply
Coming soon to a federal government near you?


Post 183

Thursday, May 7, 2009 - 4:32amSanction this postReply
Wel, Jay, that is what RICO is all about, depriving the defendent of assets before trial.  So, it is not "coming soon" it has been here for over 30 years.
One of the most controversial statutes in the federal criminal code is that entitled "Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations," known familiarly by its acronym, RICO. Passed in 1970 as title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, RICO has attracted much attention because of its draconian penalties, including innovative forfeiture provisions; its broad draftsmanship, which has left it open to a wide range of applications, not all of which were foreseen or intended by the Congress that enacted it; and the sometimes dramatic prosecutions that have been brought in its name. 

By the way:
Texas police will return cash in case that prompted lawsuit
That is just for this last case, not for all the previous thefts.  I like the fact that the prosecutor speaks to the press through her lawyer.  That is ironic.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 5/07, 4:34am)

Post 184

Thursday, May 7, 2009 - 12:17pmSanction this postReply
Why not refuse to return the loot?  After all it appears that technically the police were in full compliance with the letter of the "law".  Perhaps they sense the strong public disapproval of their actions and don't want to rock gravy boat any more than they already have.  Other law enforcement agencies that benefit from forfeiture laws are probably hoping the fallout from this case won't lead to major legislative reforms in their jurisdictions.  Kudos to CNN for airing this story. 
(Edited by Steven Pilotte on 5/07, 12:19pm)

Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Post 185

Thursday, May 7, 2009 - 6:22pmSanction this postReply
Then there was - and still is, I believe - that judge in a New England state who made the news when it was discovered that he had been taking kickbacks on a per conviction basis for putting teen arrestees into one of these private jail work camps.  It was allegedly discovered that in most cases, when a teen defendant was brought before him, he did not even bother to read the charges, and went straight to sentencing, putting hundreds of kids behind bars - with typical sentences of years - where they were then gainfully employed in further enriching their captors.  There are also plenty of small-town public defenders who have discovered that if they simply pocket the court assigned fee and do nothing - or simply "plead" every case - they can live the life of Riley, while hundreds of innocent defendants rot for years in prison without ever having even a hearing.

Post 186

Friday, May 8, 2009 - 7:20amSanction this postReply
Interesting, I just saw that on "Law and Order" last night - Swoozie Kurtz was the judge. Like they say "ripped from the headlines"....

: )


Post 187

Saturday, May 9, 2009 - 1:43pmSanction this postReply
Here's a couple links to the real story:



I don't recall the source that I originally saw - likely the Wall St. Journal or some doctor's office magazine - but the details were pretty grim.  No attempt at all to determine guilt.  Just pocket the money and ship them on.  Of course, I'm sure that if the parents were involved and had money or community support, then things went differently.  So, this was yet another example of how the state reinforces "class" distinctions and creates divisions.  If you're a member of an ethnic minority and your parents are fearful of opposing the authorities, because of their own experiences here or in their country of origin, then you are not nearly as likely to get anything approximating justice.

Oh, and then your "conviction" will find its way into the stats that will be used to justify further marginalization of anyone ethnically similar to you and new public "anti-gang" boondoggles, etc.

(Edited by Phil Osborn on 5/09, 1:55pm)

Post 188

Sunday, August 16, 2009 - 2:17pmSanction this postReply
Here's a thought:

If you compare the actions and methods of the typical city council, county board of supervisors, police department or DA's office to that of a criminal gang, my impression is that the similarities overwhelm the differences to the point that legally many of them could in fact be treated as actual gangs.

For example, city councils routinely pass ordinances that are illegal on the face of it, knowing perfectly well that if they are taken to court they will lose. So what? If they lose, then, at worst, they pay some damages and settle out of court. Meanwhile, they've passed 50 more egregiously illegal ordinances, typically targeting people who are unable to fight back unless the ACLU steps in, and their resources are definitely finite.

So, we have a bunch of people committing actual crimes, under cover of authority, which theoretically makes it all that much worse, engaged in a ongoing and systematic conspiracy to prevent disclosure and prosecution of these crimes.

So, here's the solution:

Go to the federal courts and ask for a gang injunction against the criminals, whether DA's office, Police, City Council, or Board of Supervisors, or any other municipal or county bureau, board, etc. The gang injunction will not only tie their hands from committing future crimes, but will also add enhanced penalties to whatever they are convicted of.

Post 189

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 1:24amSanction this postReply
Global Outlaws: Crime, Money, and Power in the Contemporary World by Carolyn Nordstrom (University of California Press, 2007), brings home the special agony of Africa.  Early on, she introduces us to Okidi, a boy of about nine who sells cigarettes – Marlboros most often – one-up in the wartorn outback of Angola.  Okidi shows Nordstom the convenience store that fronts him.

“This is where I get my cigarettes.”

“Do you have to buy them?”

He shook his head no:

“The man gives me a packet, and when I have sold all of the cigarettes, I return to give him his share of the money, and get more.”

The store proffers a wide range of convenience goods.  Even the owner’s Mercedes is for sale.  The store faces an ad hoc open air market where an even wider variety of articles, including pharmaceuticals and art, can be had in a place where, paradoxically, no one has any money.

“I met Okidi, the young war orphan, when I was charting ‘robber barons’: those who trade for immense profits, most visible in international exchanges of resources (gold, diamonds, timber, humans, etc.) for arms.  Military supplies are so expensive the few countries’ tax bases can provide sufficient funds to purchase them.  National currencies in war zones are generally shunned by financial markets: they tend to be weak and unpredictable monies that few urban industrial centers can accept.  Natural resources become the ‘hard currencies’ of choice to raise the capital to run wars and countries.  Given the pressures of international laws, sanctions, and national industry regulations, much of this commerce crosses the line of the law in the journey from source to profit.”

            “The illegal is also sustained by a human desire for beauty.  In these places, people congregate to seek or sell pitifully small amounts of food or a handful of live-saving medicines, often carried over-mined fields and under gunfire.  Amidst these critical necessities, there often something of beauty for sale, a delicate piece of cloth, a pair of counterfeit Nike shoes, or the recording of a beloved musician, carried across the trenches of hell and outside the law, one, it would seem, to remind us of our spark of humanity.”  (Nordstrom, 9)


The convenience store was momentarily unattended and Nordstrom waited to meet and interview the owner.  Inside was an open bucket for cash as people bought small items on the honor system – again a paradox, seemingly of deep sociological consequence, but which Nordstrom observed and reported without further comment. 

Post 190

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 4:20pmSanction this postReply
City outsources police ... and everything else.

Over the last few years, the local government in this tiny, blue-collar town about 20 minutes drive from downtown Los Angeles drifted towards bankruptcy. Poverty, gang violence and inner-city deprivation were spiralling. Then last month – in a move that made it instantly famous – Maywood's cash-strapped city council decided to respond to its myriad problems with a revolutionary initiative: it voted to contract out every single public service the city once provided, from the management of parks and libraries, to the book-keeping at City Hall, to the running of its police department.

Read here.

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