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December 1, 2011

Once again, I would like to thank the ABA and the criminals and their lawyers...

12CVRimageAs I have said before and will say again, it is always an honor just to be nominated.  But, since the ABA's Blawg list nominations are not generally made public, it is even more exciting to win again -- for the fifth year in a row, I believe -- a (coveted?) place on the ABA's list of the best legal blogs. 

This report from the ABA Journal, titled "The 5th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100," reports the background and the list:

On our 5th birthday, you’ll see some familiar faces at the party: bloggers who’ve been on our list in years past.

But 2011 also brought along a lot of newcomers, and we’re delighted that so many RSVP’d our invitation to nominate their favorites.  We received more than 1,300 Blawg Amici this year, and that made for a hard time narrowing the field to 100 law blogs in 12 categories.

As usual, we couldn’t help mixing things up a bit.  In print, you’ll find the blogs in alphabetical order, color-coded by category. And as always, you can vote for your favorites online through Dec. 30 at ABAJournal.com/blawg100.

Here is how this site gets described:

Sentencing Law and Policy: sentencing.typepad.com

Ohio State law professor Douglas Berman notes congressional hearings, scholarship and general trends related to sentencing, and sometimes handicaps the sentences that can be anticipated by those convicted in high-profile criminal cases. Unlike most criminal law bloggers, he writes with a fairly objective tone.

Speaking fairly objectively I kind of like this description of my writing: "with a fairly objective tone."  I wonder if all readers would agree.  And, via this ABA page, one can click through to see a bunch of other criminal law blogs making the list that, apparently, write in a fairly subjective tone.

December 1, 2011 at 04:44 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Congratulations Doug, keep up the good work. bruce

Posted by: bruce cunningham | Dec 1, 2011 5:54:21 PM

I agree! Thank you.

Posted by: beth | Dec 1, 2011 10:37:08 PM

Congratulations. Yours is an excellent blog indeed. However, it has a decided left wing tilt, and would not have been selected were it not for that bias. The blog never, ever, ever, ever refers to the safety interests of the V word. Most postings promote more procedure for more lawyer employment.

The ABA is a coven of lawyer rent seeking, pro big government, political correctness. It is less professional society, more an awful guild always stabbing the public interest in the heart, and supporting horrible left wing extremist judicial candidates, judicial activist traitors to the constitution. It does not even represent the views of the average lawyer, but rather of its supercilious, Hate America, Ivy indoctrinated staff. It is a tyrannical, quasi-governmental organization. I would like to see it defunded by a barrage of litigation. to deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 2, 2011 5:30:16 AM

Prof. Berman:

Congratulations and thank you. You clearly understand the main benefit of blogging to a blog's audience: which is to share. Every day you share and share and share and share. Yes, you may exhibit a particular point of view on various issues and your point of view may be expressed in how you curate the links you provide. But so what. The quantity and quality of your sharing far outweighs this. Thank you.

Posted by: Fred | Dec 2, 2011 11:02:24 AM

Part of the reason you can present an objective tone is you so rarely offer an opinion. Looking at all the posts on the current front page of your blog, I can see links to interesting stories with either no analysis or only a statement that the issue is interesting.

For example, you provide links to the sentencing memos for Raj Rajaratman, which have radically different Guidelines calculations, but you offer no opinion or analysis of which is correct. Just below that you post a link to a paper on racial disparities in sentencing, but you offer no opinions of your own. You have repeatedly posted about the North Carolina Racial Justice Act and efforts to repeal it, but you have never said whether you think the Act should be repealed, whether you think the goals of the Act are worthy or misguided or if the Act is the proper way to achieve its goals.

The quality of this blog has declined significantly in the last several years. That is partly because trolls have taken over the comments (with little to no resistance by you), but partly because when Blakely, Booker and Cunningham were litigated you had a definite opinion about the proper rule and you advocated your position. Now the blog has degenerated into you posting links to news articles and law review articles without adding any substance and a comments section that anyone interested in rational, civilized discussion quickly learns to avoid.

I say this not to bury you, but to inspire you. You can do better, and you don't need to wait until the Supreme Court grants cert over another Apprendi issue.

Posted by: Paul | Dec 2, 2011 11:33:41 AM

"Part of the reason you can present an objective tone is you so rarely offer an opinion."

I have a long-standing belief that Supremacy Claus is just Prof. Berman in disguise. They have that Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going.

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 2, 2011 12:36:47 PM

Prof.:

I concur that your tone is fairly objective or at least reasonable.
One can infer your general philosophical stance with ease, nonetheless, you tend to view various arguments with deliberation and without undue partiality.

Kudos & thank you.

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 2, 2011 1:01:49 PM

Ditto re the kudos. Your blog is a tremendously helpful resource for the practicing criminal-justice attorney. I agree with Paul, though, that the comments component is the blog's weakest link. The blog would probably be better overall if the comments were eliminated altogether a la SCOTUS blog.

Posted by: sua sponte | Dec 2, 2011 1:56:24 PM

Thank you for your work. Interesting, thought-provoking, and relevant. Keep it up and know your work is appreciated.

Posted by: michael | Dec 2, 2011 5:18:33 PM

Well deserved, as always! Best,

Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Dec 2, 2011 7:37:20 PM

Daniel: Prof. Berman has a picture as proof. It is of him and of the author of this SC character. Prof. Berman is a dynamic, engaging, stimulating speaker. When the Supremacy speaks, it kills the party or conversation. He is Harvard Law educated, thus indoctrinated to believe in supoernatural core legal doctrines. The Supremacy gets its material from 10th grade World History, albeit in a very academic high school, caught the origin of the supernatural doctrines and did not buy the indoctrination.

Prof. Berman has an inkling, from his extreme intelligence, that the law has some room for improvement. The Supremacy, has no hope, wants the lot of the lawyer hierarchy arrested, tried, and executed, with a total revamp and modernization of the law. There would no recognizable trace of 13th Century common law. But, there would also be no trace of crime. All contracts, down to those worht a penny, would be enforced, not just those for over $million. The American family would be preserved. The economic growth rate would be 9%. Obstructionists would be crushed. Rent seeking would be criminalized. Judging would be a separate profession, related to lawyering, as truck engineering is related to truck driving.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 2, 2011 9:46:24 PM

I appreciate everyone's input and hope it continues. A few quick response here seem worthwhile.

1. I always struggle to understand complaints about comments: if you don't like them, just don't click through to them. If you want them to be better, get involved in writing better comments. And just scroll past the trolls... That is what works.well for me.

2. I think I still offer plenty of opinions, Paul, on issues ranging lately from pot legalization, to application of the FSA, to gun rights for felons, to Obama's sorry clemency record. But I do not seek to be a pundit on every topic in every post, and I am disinclined to repeat long stated views on topics like prosecutorial discretion and the death penalty over and over and over again (my disinclination to repeat old range is further proof I am no Supremecy Claus).

When blakely and booker and this blog were all new, there we so many topic that needed informed pundity in order to ensure readers could even understand what was really going on. The need to opine in order to explain seems lessened of late.

Posted by: Doug B. | Dec 2, 2011 10:40:53 PM

Paul and Sua, if I may presume to read their minds, want more technical discussions, as if rehearsing appellate advocacy, parsing decisions, bringing up opposing dissents, arguing public policy points. The underlying assumption is that business as usual is pretty good, should not be questioned in its fundamentals. Let's just use this blog to rehearse points that will be made in court, and to work out their weaknesses.

So? Go ahead. Why are you deterred by civilian owners of the law. I do not even attack individuals. Even if I did, why can't a technical discussion still proceed? Unless questions about fundamentals do have merit, and have shut you up, about the trivial, pretextual, lawyer gibberish garbage, designed only to generate fees, and validated only at the point of a gun.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2011 12:44:35 AM

Prof. Berman: Small point in my defense. I admit to being repetitive. However, you are repetitive as well, in your relentless selection of biased, pro-criminal, left wing propaganda articles, requiring a full time truth squad. The entire profession repeatedly protects the criminal to generate fees, and will not even allow verbal criticism without having the prison staff fired for verbal abuse.

Have something about crime victims more than 1 in a 100 postings. I will not have to repeatedly explain the basics of the rent seeking theory, the Grand Unifying Theory of Lawyer Anomalous Behaviors and Appellate Decisions.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2011 12:52:06 AM

If there were an award given for repetition on this blog, I think it would be a toss-up between Bill Otis and king of the trolls, SC.
As for Prof. B's question about why people like me don't just skip the comments, the answer is I often do. But there are occasionally (although more and more rarely) valuable substantive comments. So I sometimes read through the comments (skipping the obvious trolls), only to almost invariably be aggravated (mostly with myself, I'll grant you) over how much time I've just wasted.

Posted by: reader | Dec 3, 2011 2:06:40 PM

reader --

When you repeat error, I'll repeat correction.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 3, 2011 3:20:36 PM

Paul, Sua, and Reader would be of service by defining what they consider "valuable substantive comments." What do these contain, and could they give us an example of one?

Ironic when any lawyer calls someone a troll. The biggest troll of all is the lawyer profession, causing $trillions in troll damages yearly to our nation. I have not generated massive legal fees, destroyed the family, crippled our economy, allowed 20 million Index felonies, with 18 million going completely unanswered, caused 9/11, massively expanded our government, which does nothing right, and executes innocent people, after getting their confessions. I just point my finger.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2011 6:08:59 PM

Doug, unfortunately I have to agree with Paul and Reader that the blog, while still excellent, is less helpful from the perspective of brainstorming legal issues and practical tips from the comments. I understand your request to just skip the comments, but it is not as easy as it sounds when one is the subject of ad hominem attacks from Supremacy Claus and others. When a comment begins, "Bruce" it is hard to ignore. For a long time I just quit posting comments. I still read the blog every day, but I've surrendered the thought that I will get very many serious responses to serious questions.

bruce

Posted by: bruce cunningham | Dec 3, 2011 8:38:24 PM

Bruce: I consider ad hominem attacks to represent surrender in the traverse, like knocking over one's king in a hopeless position in a chess match. I do not engage in them, but I do post loving criticism of the lawyer profession. Perhaps, you took one of those as applying to you, but I do not surrender in the traverse by making ad hominem remarks to individuals. I cannot surrender in the traverse. I have a duty to the nation that privileged me so highly to help it free itself from the criminal cult enterprise that makes 99% of its government decision. Corrupt Mexico needs to pity us, not the other way around. Their criminal element has not totally taken over their government.

If the public is oppressed by the lawyer hierarchy, the lawyer is doubly so, and the street judge, triply so. Once this hierarchy is arrested, tried for an hour, and executed, the lawyer profession will benefit far more than the public.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2011 9:35:48 PM

Layman's point of view, good selection of subjects, comments section is interesting except for the few indviduals that seem to love seeing there comments in print and reveling in the pontification of their viewpoints (I image that they're Ivy Leaguer lawyers still searching for an audience) and most of the time breeze past them like a gust of hot air. Congratulations on the recognition and thanks for keeping it readable.

Posted by: comment | Dec 3, 2011 10:20:09 PM

To further discuss the two points Professor Berman raises:

First, about the horrible state of the comments, an ideal blog is more than a newspaper column where the author expresses their wisdom and the reader merely absorbs it. On an ideal blog the author is the host of a discussion. An interesting idea offered in a post should be the starting point of a conversation, not the end of it, and a worthy comments section can feature interesting developments of an idea and illumination from people with real-world expertise. A blog with vibrant comments is better than a blog without such comments. For a real world example, compare the comments at the Volokh Conspiracy to the comments at Crime & Consequences. Which one do you want?

Second, looking at the last sixteen posts at the time I am writing this comment you offer an opinion in only one (the post about the cert grant in Setser). I agree that offering an opinion about the death penalty is unproductive, but you must have an opinion about the North Carolina Racial Justice Act. Your blog should be more than a sentencing version of the AP news wire.

Posted by: Paul | Dec 3, 2011 10:40:16 PM

Paul: I have never seen anyone criticized or insulted here for the types of comments you prefer.

The blog has a definite point of view. It expresses its left wing bias in a stealthy, sophisticated way by the selection of news items. This the same propaganda methodology for the Democratic Party at PBS, and for the Republican Party at Fox News. The content of these selective items must be rebutted.

As to Volokh. Here is what is permitted. Personalized highly specific death threats. Live links to animal porn. Live links to illegal pharmaceutical suppliers in foreign lands. Repeated, 4th grade level, puerile, unfunny ad hominem attacks. The puerile ad hominems here are at least at the 7th grade level.

Here is what is not permitted, banned, and results in a rambling, foam at the mouth, hostile comments policy once at the bottom of the blog, now changed out of embarrassment.

Now, Eugene Volokh is an expert on the case law of having a cross in a city flag, a cross representing its number one tourist landmark, and not an endorsement of religion.

He does not know that the core doctrines of the law were plagiarized from the Catechism, almost unchanged. He does not know the origin and technical meaning of the word, reasonable, in Scholasticism. He does not know the format of the brief and IRAC are from Abelard of Abelard and Heloise fame, and brought to its zenith by St. Aquinas. He does not know, the reasonable person is Jesus in disguise as a fictional character to keep his standards objective. A fictional character disguised as a fictional character, that is the central concept of your profession. These are all violations of the Establishment Clause, which can no more be faced by the lawyer than staring at the sun. Substitute the word Sharia for Catechism, and the outrageousness of the violation of the Establishment Clause is easier to grasp.

When you try to share this stuff from 10th grade World History and Western Civ 101, he gets irritated and that's when he bans the person.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2011 11:51:16 PM

No lawyer, however, well paid, will go after a judge or opposing counsel. Those are the real sources of their incomes, and are sacrosanct. I want to go out on my own, and try these tactics. If I can drive off thin skinned commentators, perhaps, I can drive off judges and opposing lawyers to leave the business, or ultimately, to commit suicide, after I get through with them. Lawyers like to attack. They are crybabies if anyone returns a shot.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 4, 2011 3:07:45 PM

Two quick follow-ups for Paul:

First, I agree that "an ideal blog is ... the host of a discussion." But look at the challenge that SCOTUSblog has in reaching that ideal AND they have a (full-time?) staff who spends lots and lots of time managing the blog. I am a solo here, and I am still waiting for someone to be my assistant comment screener. (Better yet, feel free to take my content and run a parallel blog for thoughtful commentors. You could ban SC and Bill Otis and whomever else does not meet your commenting standards and I will be grateful to see what developing in that parallel forum. I would run such a screened comment alternative if I had the time and energy (and/or financial reward) for doing so.)

Second, I do aspire for my blog to "be more than a sentencing version of the AP news wire." However, when I am busy on other fronts (both work and home) and have less time for blogging, my reporting instincts take over so that there is some content for blog readers. I suppose I could post only once a day and thereby have time to include commentary with every post. But I tend to assume that folks prefer the AP wire approach to blog silence when I am busy on other fronts. And, when I am not as busy on other fronts (which will be the case as classes end for me in the next few days), I think you will see more and more posts with commentary.

Please keep commenting about all this, as I remain eager to continue to improve and evolve in this (and other) spaces.

Posted by: Doug B. | Dec 5, 2011 8:27:58 AM

Doug (cc: Paul) --

My own point of view is this: You won't need to use a blocking mechanism or a screener or assistant screener. You have only to ask, and I will stop commenting here permanently. This is your blog to be run as you wish. The moment you think, in your sole discretion, that my comments subtract more than they add, say so and I'll be gone.

It amazes me that any commenter would think he has portfolio to tell you what you must say, or refrain from saying, or whom you should allow here and who should be banned.

The host decides who comes to the party, not the guests.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 5, 2011 1:27:10 PM

i'm with bill on this one!

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 5, 2011 3:13:03 PM

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