Archive for November, 2014

Grand Juries and Police Officers

November 25, 2014 | By | Reply More

From Five Thirty Eight:

Former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” The data suggests he was barely exaggerating: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them…

“If the prosecutor wants an indictment and doesn’t get one, something has gone horribly wrong,” said Andrew D. Leipold, a University of Illinois law professor who has written critically about grand juries. “It just doesn’t happen.”

Cases involving police shootings, however, appear to be an exception. As my colleague Reuben Fischer-Baum has written, we don’t have good data on officer-involved killings. But newspaper accounts suggest, grand juries frequently decline to indict law-enforcement officials. A recent Houston Chronicle investigation found that “police have been nearly immune from criminal charges in shootings” in Houston and other large cities in recent years. In Harris County, Texas, for example, grand juries haven’t indicted a Houston police officer since 2004; in Dallas, grand juries reviewed 81 shootings between 2008 and 2012 and returned just one indictment.

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On Being Primed For Worse

November 25, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
On Being Primed For Worse

Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Sure looked like we expected what we got. [More . . . ]

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Eulogy by the Deceased

November 18, 2014 | By | Reply More

Eulogies are best when given by the (not-quite-yet) deceased.

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Antidotes for regret

November 18, 2014 | By | Reply More

As one who is sometimes consumed by regret, I found this post by Eric Barker to be of great interest.

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Missouri Botanical Garden After a November Snow.

November 16, 2014 | By | Reply More
Missouri Botanical Garden After a November Snow.

IMO, the Missouri Botanical Garden is at its best when it’s covered with sticky snow. I was there this afternoon at 4pm to catch these scenes.

IMG_1468 MBG Snow

IMG_1390 MBG Snow

IMG_1429 MBG Snow

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The kind of people who persevere with the practice of law

November 13, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More

Conclusions like these do make me stop and think, given that I’ve survived the practice of law for more than 30 years.

Law firms seeking to hire lawyers more likely to stay in law practice should be forewarned: Lawyers with “higher levels of resilience, empathy, initiative and sociability” are more likely to leave law practice than those with lower levels of those traits.

That finding is from an online assessment of more than 1,400 people by Right Profile and JD Match that sought to improve hiring by matching lawyers’ practice areas with personality traits,

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Time to end the “war on drugs”

November 12, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

What’s the drug war about? American psychosis, born of racism, but now one humongous wholly misguided attempt to put children into a protective bubble. But now there is some hope for change in the right direction, according to Ethan Nadelmann’s TED talk. He is Director of Drug Policy Alliance. Brilliant talk, concluding with a call to end the drug war.

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Karl Marx was correct about these ill-affects of capitalism

November 12, 2014 | By | Reply More

Rolling Stone points out that, despite some huge problems with his proposed solutions, Marx was correct about these ill-effects of capitalism.

1. Capitalism’s Chaotic Nature

2. Imaginary Appetites

3. The Globalization of Capitalism

4. Monopoly

5. The Reserve Army of Industrial Labor

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Eric Barker summarizes Stephen Pinker’s advice on how to write

November 11, 2014 | By | Reply More

What can you do to be a better writer? Stephen Pinker offers some excellent advice, and Eric Barker puts it into summary fashion, peppering the ideas with useful links.

The beauty of Barker’s posts is that the links tend to lead you to rich clusters of new links. One of the links from this post lead me to a link on how to be a better story teller. The person interviewed is UCLA Film School Professor Howard Suber. Here’s a captivating bit of advice:

Every so often in my personal life with friends, I’ll have somebody who will be telling me, it’s usually over a meal, about they’re in a relationship, and it’s in trouble and this trouble has been going on for some time, often years, and it’s now heading for a crisis. And it’s one of those things where you know sort of, even though they don’t verbalize it, they’re asking, “What do you think? What do you think I should do?”

And after listening to the narrative for a while, every so often, I’ll say, “What movie are you living now?” And it always produces the same response. The person is startled because it sounds initially like a trivial question. They’re usually telling the story with considerable agony, and so they kind of freeze like a deer. And then their eyes rotate, usually upwards to the right, which is where a lot of people go when they’re searching their memory bank, and then they’ll laugh.

That’s the important point of this, and they’ll laugh and say, “The Exorcist,” or something like that. And the laugh is a sign of recognition that the story they’ve been telling me has a recognizable structure, and once they give me that, they then usually laugh again and say something like, “Oh, my God.” I then say, as quietly as I can, “And where does the story go?” And that’s the advice I’ve given them.

While on the topic of Barker, this might be my favorite of his many posts: “Which Old Sayings are True?”

One more: Barker summarizes a study on the importance of sleep. Stunning results:

By the end of two weeks, the six-hour sleepers were as impaired as those who, in another Dinges study, had been sleep-deprived for 24 hours straight — the cognitive equivalent of being legally drunk.

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