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March 14, 2014

"G.O.P. Moving to Ease Its Stance on Sentencing"

The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new New York Times article, which reports on political developments that should be largely well-known to regular readers of this blog.  Here are snippets (with a key legislative development highlighted in the middle):

[L]eading Republicans are saying that mandatory minimum sentences in the federal system have failed — too costly, overly punitive and ineffective. So they are embracing a range of ideas from Republican-controlled states that have reduced prison populations and brought down the cost of incarceration.

The shift turns upside down the “war on crime” ethos on the right, and even among some on the left, an approach that has dominated the policy of punishment for more than two decades.

Religious conservatives see these efforts as offering compassion and the hope of reuniting broken families. Fiscal conservatives say the proposals would shave billions off the federal budget. The combination has made closing prisons and releasing inmates who no longer appear to pose a threat new articles of faith among politicians who would have rejected them out of hand only a few years ago....

The changes represent a rare example of both parties agreeing in a major area of domestic policy. The Obama administration is engaged and supportive of the efforts in Congress, as was evident on Thursday when Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. endorsed a proposal that would reduce prison sentences for people convicted of dealing drugs, the latest sign that the White House is making criminal justice a priority of President Obama’s second term.

Bipartisan talks to move forward on a broad criminal justice bill have escalated in recent days. Republicans and Democrats are in early discussions about combining two bills that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved overwhelmingly this year. The first would give judges more discretion to depart from mandatory minimum sentences in lower-level drug cases, cut down mandatory sentences for other drug offenses, and make retroactive the 2010 law that shrunk the disparity between cocaine and crack-cocaine sentences.

The second bill seeks to tackle the other end of the problem by establishing a skills-training and early-release system for those who already are incarcerated but are considered at low risk of committing another crime. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has signaled to both parties in the chamber that he will bring a criminal justice bill to the floor this year.

These proposals have united political odd couples. Senator Mike Lee of Utah, along with and Senator Ted Cruz and Senator John Cornyn, both of Texas — some of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate — are aligned with Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who are among the more liberal Democrats. The subject consumed an animated panel discussion last weekend at CPAC, the annual gathering of conservatives, with Grover Norquist, the antitax advocate; Gov. Rick Perry of Texas; and Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner....

Mr. Cornyn, a former judge and the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, identified another conservative ideal behind the changes: They originated in the states, where most Republicans would prefer to let policies develop and mature. “When the states take the initiative, it goes from being a theory or a philosophy or an ideological discussion to ‘What’s the evidence?’ ” he said. “From Texas’s perspective, the evidence is in.”...

Mr. Whitehouse noted how politically and demographically diverse the states were that formed the basis for the Senate’s legislative model. “The states we’d talk most about,” he said, “were Rhode Island, Texas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Go figure.”

Some Republicans want to take the changes even further. Legislation that Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is drafting would restore voting rights for some nonviolent felons and convert some drug felonies to misdemeanors.

Mr. Paul, who is a possible presidential candidate in 2016 and has been courting constituencies like African-Americans and young people who feel alienated by the Republican Party, said it was only a matter of time before more Republicans joined him. “I’m not afraid of appearing to be not conservative enough,” he said, explaining that he got the idea for his legislation by talking with black constituents in the western part of Louisville who complained to him that criminal convictions were often crosses to bear for years, keeping them from voting and getting jobs.

“I don’t think most of the country thinks marijuana is a good idea,” Mr. Paul added. “But I think most of the country thinks that if you happen to get caught doing it when you’re a teenager you should get a second chance.” Like several of the Republicans who have changed their minds on the issue, Mr. Paul has a personal story that helped shape his position. The brother of a good friend, he said, is unable to vote today because 30 years ago he was convicted of growing marijuana — a felony.

For Mr. Portman, it was his encounters with a man about his age, a drug addict who had been in and out of the system several times but received the assistance he needed in prison to help turn around his life. “He’s got dignity and self-respect,” Mr. Portman said. “These stories are unbelievably encouraging.”

For Mr. Lee, who like Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Cornyn and many of the other lawmakers involved in drafting the legislation has experience as a prosecutor or judge, it was seeing firsthand the inflexible nature of the federal sentencing system. “As an assistant U.S. attorney, I saw from time to time instances in which a judge would say, ‘I’m not sure this sentence makes sense, in fact I have real reservations about it. But I have to,’ ” Mr. Lee said. “Those memories have stayed with me.”

Some longtime supporters of overhauling the federal sentencing and prison systems wish Republicans had come to see their way sooner. But they still marvel at the turnaround. “It’s really striking,” said Jeremy Haile, federal advocacy counsel for the Sentencing Project. “Now they’re arguing the other way: who can be the smartest on crime.”

March 14, 2014 at 04:17 PM | Permalink

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"The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new New York Times article, which reports on political developments that should be largely well-known to regular readers of this blog."

That's for sure. That's because "this blog" and the NYT put up the same story every few days, with slightly different wording.

P.S. Neither a majority of Republicans in the House or in the Senate support the SSA. That makes no difference in the Senate, where the Dems can pass it on their own (if it gets to the floor). But it makes plenty of difference in the House, about which the story is conspicuously, and tellingly, silent.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 14, 2014 5:09:46 PM

Bill Otis, lets face it. We're getting old. There's a new generation coming. We are fighting against the tide. Take gay marriage. Who would have thunk it. It's spreading like a wildfire. Well, here comes sentence reduction. But now we're like the old guys from the newsreels with horses and carts who said they would never buy one of them new-fangled machines with four tires. But look at my heroes who who are supporting reduction in sentences and abolition of mandatory minimums: Cornyn, Chafetz, Lee, Cruz, Norquist. Heck, these guys are are to the right of Atilla the Hun, and even they are beating the drums for lower sentences. Well, you and I: I guess we'll just stick with that old horse--we just have to keep shoveling the you know what. (I know I have mixed about 5 metaphors, but it's fun).

Posted by: very conservative | Mar 14, 2014 5:30:23 PM

"very conservative" notes the spread of gay marriage and likens it to the growing movement to reduce sentences or abolish mandatory minimums. I hope he's right.
I note that in today's New York Post there is an article headlined, "Support for same-sex marriage is increasing faster than ever before." May the same soon be said for support for abolition of mandatory minimums.

Posted by: Amy | Mar 14, 2014 5:39:23 PM

Amy and very conservative --

I'll just be content to note that you don't -- because you can't -- contradict a single word I wrote.

Oh, well, perhaps I will say one more thing. "Very conservative," you might want to think again about your assertion that Cornyn, Chafetz, Lee, Cruz, and Norquist are supporting "abolition of mandatory minimums." The SSA does not abolish a single mandatory minimum and in fact adds three. The more harebrained Leahy/Paul bill -- the one that actually would abolish MM's -- had so little support among either party that it wasn't even brought up in Committee.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 14, 2014 6:37:28 PM

And to Very Conservative's list, provisionally add Sen. Lindsey Graham, who told CQ yesterday that reducing criminal penalties is “kind of a no brainer." Note that Graham is running for reelection in South Carolina.

Posted by: Jeremy Haile | Mar 14, 2014 6:37:37 PM

"P.S. Neither a majority of Republicans in the House or in the Senate support the SSA"

Citation Bill? I want to know exactly which representatives have spoken out.

Posted by: Skeptical | Mar 14, 2014 11:31:21 PM

I just got done looking at the S. 1675 "Public Safety Act" amendment that passed the Senate Judiciary Commitee last week. The bill went from around 20 pages of very promising and straight forward text to over 50 pages of caveats. It categorically removes anyone convicted in a "crime of violence", sex offense, high criminal history level, major fraud, and others. We all know how inclusive "crime of violence" is, but I'm most suprised by the sex offender part, as we already pay for SOMP/SOTP treatment in prison. Now there is absolutely no reason to enter those programs. I always tell clients NOT to enter because anything they say in therapy can be used to civilly commit them at the end of thier sentence. The very people we want to get treatment must absolutely steer clear.

With the amendment, the committee exaggerates the amount of inmates that can see "credits" given, and therefore the amount of money the BOP can save. It will cost a lot to implement this bill, why hamstring the impact? The BOP is holisticly overcrowded, but medium security classification was the most overcrowded at last glance. How many inmates can be affected if you exclude "violent" crimes.

Posted by: Skeptical | Mar 15, 2014 2:11:46 AM

Skeptical --

"I want to know exactly which representatives have spoken out."

I'll bet you do. Is that so your clients will be able to pay them a visit for some, uh, "lobbying?"

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 15, 2014 7:12:08 AM

Bill:

Are you making up your statistics regarding House members against the SSA?

Posted by: Skeptical | Mar 15, 2014 12:12:12 PM

Assuming the accuracy of this likely false report. One has to worry when lawyer rent seekers from two sides get together. Whom are going after, now? The black crime victim has no clout and will bear the cost of their idiocy.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 15, 2014 1:13:26 PM

All released prisoners to halfway houses on Sen. Graham's home street, left wing collabrator, lawyer. Seize the neighbors' homes under Kelo.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 15, 2014 1:24:09 PM

Skeptical --

"Are you making up your statistics regarding House members against the SSA?"

No.

Are you making it up that you're a lawyer?

No?

Then maybe you'll tell us your name and business address.

No? Understandable. If I spent my time helping the people you say you spend your time helping, I'd hide my name, too.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 15, 2014 2:21:23 PM

You pivot away from you not having a shred of supporting information to a "who are you"? Don't you harass people on this blog for making assertions without evidence? You made an assertion, now I'm asking you to back it up.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, though. Cite the statistics or study, even without the names of the representatives, and that will be adequate to support your assertion.

Posted by: Skeptical | Mar 15, 2014 3:32:54 PM

Skeptical --

My info is not from statistics or a study. I know people you don't, and who are better positioned to know than any statistics or study would be. That's as much info as you're going to get.

If you don't like it, well, I don't particularly like my wife's being referred to as a kapo, which one of your allies has recently done, with absolutely no objection from you.

I am powerless to improve your sides standards of conversation, but I'm not going to indulge them either.

If you don't believe what I tell you about what's going on in the House, I could care less. Your refusal to believe people who know more than you will be its own reward.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 15, 2014 3:47:15 PM

I believe that most people know more than me. I have friends that are engineers, a chemical biologist, a biological engineer, a novelist, etc, etc, that are all in a different plane than me some days. It can be humbling.

But they can all do more than "I just know this to be true, accept it". They can provide me with justifications and rationale I may not understand, but are empirical none the less. Much like we do by citing legal precedent.

I appreciate your candor in admitting you have absolutely no empirical information. So yes, I will choose to ignore it until I see something tangible.

Posted by: Skeptical | Mar 15, 2014 4:04:24 PM

Skeptical --

"But they can all do more than 'I just know this to be true, accept it.'"

I repeat: I don't care if you accept it. Where I get my information about the lay of the land in Congress is none of your business. If I started naming on the Internet the people in this town who talk to me, they wouldn't be talking to me very long, now would they?

But I'll put my money where my mouth is. I'll bet $100 here and now that the SSA in the Senate is not enacted by the House (if it gets out of the Senate at all).

There's $100 bucks for you, right on the table.

Are we on?

P.S. It's duly noted that you lodge no objection to false and scurrilous insults being directed at my family. No wonder you don't give your name.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 15, 2014 5:51:11 PM

Bill:

I'm trying to figure out why you view my responsiblity to apologize for someone elses statements. I'm a casual visitor to Professor Berman's blog. I can't fathom that any pain laid on your family through name calling can even come close to the pain your politics have caused families I've seen first hand affected by our crazy drug sentencing. They aren't politically connected men like Scooter Libbey you will argue should be commuted.

What do you expect to be the outcome of the overcrowding we have today in the BoP if not bills like SSA or Public Safety Act? More prisons? 50% overcrowding is pretty serious, and people are starting to push back against private prisons.

Posted by: Skeptical | Mar 15, 2014 8:56:09 PM

It's telling, I think that Bill Otis is never anywhere to be found at legal blogs with respectable comment sections where he might face sustained intellectual challenge (Volokh, say).

He shows up here to do his weird goalpost-shifting rhetoric performances in the comments, aided by the fact that there are a number of regulars here who are flat out nuts, so he looks slightly more sane in comparison. When he encounters someone making an intelligible argument, the usual responses are those on display these threads: demanding people identify themselves (particularly rich in light of his defense of anonymity for AUSAs); bringing up mean things other people have said about him, and, my personal favorite, offering to bet on the outcome (goalpost-shifting from discussing ideas to just discussing outcomes is a Mr. Bill favorite).

Posted by: Jay | Mar 15, 2014 9:42:13 PM

Skeptical: Entertaining to see lawyers arguing over citations. But a bit narrow for us civilians. You want to loose non-violent offenders to relieve prison over-crowding. Since 95% of adjudicated charges are fictitious, and markedly discounted from the real crimes of the prisoner.

Can you give us a methodology for assessing the non-violent nature of the prisoner to be released, beside reliance on the fictitious adjudicated charges?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 15, 2014 9:43:25 PM

Jay --

1. Duly noted that you see, but voice no objection to, astonishingly vicious attacks on members of my family.

2. It's precisely because that is your kind of thing that you refuse to identify yourself. Anonymity facilitates lowering the level of discourse on this blog, now to the new and disgusting level you gleefully indulge.

3. The reason I offer bets (and I'll offer the same one to you) is simple: I'll put my money where my mouth is. Something wrong with that? My statements about the supposed Republican Congressional support for the SSA have been challenged as being without basis. The challenge is false, but I am not going to disclose my sources of information because I respect confidences. And the reason Skeptical won't take the bet is that he knows or strongly suspects that he'll lose.

4. I comment on this blog, write on Crime and Consequences, and occasionally contribute to Powerline. If that's not enough for you, that's just too bad.

5. Contrary to your snide and dismissive remark, I did not bring up to Skeptical "mean things other people have said about" me. I brought up, as an unfortunate but timely example of what, on your side, passes for "argument" a particularly vile and disgusting comment made about my WIFE, a brilliant lawyer who has never posted a word on this blog, but is now regarded as fair game for your side's anonymous guttersniping.

I give you credit for honesty, though. You don't pretend you see anything wrong with going after the family of someone with the audacity to think that heroin pushers earn what they get.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 15, 2014 11:16:23 PM

Skeptical --

It being your opinion that I have "absolutely no empirical information" (your words) for my view that a majority of House Republicans oppose the Senate's SSA, I don't see why you won't take my bet that the Senate's SSA will not be enacted by the House.

C'mon, Skeptical! It's an easy $100 for you, since you know so much more than I do about the lay of the land in Congress. And it's $100 you can get from someone other than your drug-pushing clients.

As to the fate of said clients: They made their own decisions, right? They knew drugs are illegal, right? They knew the sentences are tough, right? But they went ahead anyway, because (1) a fast buck is better than a normal job and (2) rules are for suckers and (3) they're smarter than the cops anyway.

And now you want me to beg their (and your) forgiveness because it's really everyone ELSE'S fault.

Sorry about that.

Will you take the bet?

P.S. Don't worry; I didn't really expect you to see anything amiss with grossly insulting the family members of commenters who don't toe the Amerika Stinks line.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 15, 2014 11:35:38 PM

BIll,

Like Skeptical, I'm confused. Are you under the impression that the internet is a conversation between you and just one other person? What I have done to indicate that I'm on the same "side" as someone who posted a comment in another thread that you find objectionable? What was "disgusting" in anything I said (I noted that you don't really dispute any of it, as usual).

Anyway, it's worth noting just how apparently detached you are from reality on this issue, even as you refuse to engage with anyone on the substance of it. Rick Perry endorsed sentencing reform at CPAC a couple weeks ago. This is not some libertarian nut idea supported by only Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, or whatever you're trying to imply. Why don't you say something serious about it rather than weirdly trying to bait others into quibbling side arguments? (Is asking for a bet about whether "the Senate's SSA" will be enacted by the House meant to allow you to claim victory if the House gets in any amendments at all? How droll!)

Posted by: Jay | Mar 16, 2014 1:27:16 AM

sorry to hear this one bill!

"I brought up, as an unfortunate but timely example of what, on your side, passes for "argument" a particularly vile and disgusting comment made about my WIFE, a brilliant lawyer who has never posted a word on this blog, but is now regarded as fair game for your side's anonymous guttersniping."

I must have missed that one. I didn't even know you had a wife. I'm sorry she was dragged into this mess. I think taking pot shots at anyone not involved and present is about the lowest thing you can do. Yes I do take pot shots at our useless govt officals but those shots are taken at public officials based on their admitted conduct. They are welcome to release the hidden facts that prove I'm wrong anytime.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 16, 2014 1:29:28 AM

Jay --

"Like Skeptical, I'm confused."

The easy response would be, "Finally, you got something right." But that would be incorrect. You're by no means confused. You're quite clear in condoning gutter-level attacks on family members of commenters who don't buy your Criminals-Are-Victims mantra.

"Are you under the impression that the internet is a conversation between you and just one other person?"

I am under the impression that a comment addressed specifically to me is addressed specifically to me, yes. Just as yours is, nimwit.

"What I have done to indicate that I'm on the same 'side' as someone who posted a comment in another thread that you find objectionable?"

And you DON'T find it (the allegation that my was has the morality of a kapo) objectionable?? How revealing.

As to what you've done to indicate you're on the same side: You've made the same argument. I will concede, however, that there's a difference. In making that argument, the scumbag who originally went after my wife was scurrilous and disgusting; you're merely superior and snide.

"What was 'disgusting' in anything I said (I noted that you don't really dispute any of it, as usual)."

I have disputed the supposed merits of the Heroin Dealers Windfall Act -- oh, make that the Smarter Sentencing Act -- probably a dozen times on this forum, and in numerous other public settings including an interview with the NYT, an op-ed in USAT, a piece in US News & World Report, and others. I will be doing so again in a Federalist Society Teleforum at 2 pm EDT on March 24.

And you?

You, of course, have done zip. The reason, other than your lack of wattage, is that respectable national publications don't accept anonymous pieces.

"Anyway, it's worth noting just how apparently detached you are from reality on this issue, even as you refuse to engage with anyone on the substance of it."

Oh, yeah, "detached from reality." Just more of your mud-throwing. At least you haven't attacked my wife. Yet.

As to whether I've engaged with anyone on the substance of it, go read my Pro-Con piece (versus Doug Berman and Prof. Steve Chanenson) in the Congressional Quarterly Research (here: http://photo.pds.org:5012/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2014011006), or my similar piece versus Julie Stewart, head of FAMM (here: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/09/02/tell-eric-holder-that-mandatory-minimums-worked-to-reduce-crime).

Then you can apologize for your point-blank lie that I have "refused to engage with anyone on the substance of it."

Should I wait?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 16, 2014 10:06:54 AM

rodsmith --

Thanks.

I've grown accustomed to all manner of anonymous guttersniping against me, but going after my wife (or anyone's family members) breaks new ground.

If it starts to get indulged, as Jay and Skeptical indulge it, the whole forum will sink into the mud.

FYI, the specific comment was: "Bill Otis is a disgrace for helping these people. What is wrong with you? You have nothing better to do then support those who would keep in place our monstrosity of a criminal justice system? There is a term for those like you and you[r] wife who help the fascists suppress liberty and eliminate supposed undesirables from society -- kapos."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 16, 2014 10:18:38 AM

Skeptical --

"I'm trying to figure out why you view my responsiblity to apologize for someone elses statements."

No, you are not trying to figure it out. Nor, for that matter, did I say it was your responsibility or ask you to apologize -- that's just fabricated. Why do you do that?

"I'm a casual visitor to Professor Berman's blog. I can't fathom that any pain laid on your family through name calling can even come close to the pain your politics have caused families I've seen first hand..."

So calling my wife a kapo is OK because my "politics" has helped bring about stiff drug sentences???

Could you take me through the logic of that?

And could you tell me if your clients bear any responsibility for their fate? Or were they just sleepwalking while selling their drugs?

"What do you expect to be the outcome of the overcrowding we have today in the BoP if not bills like SSA or Public Safety Act? More prisons?"

Yup. Incarceration helps reduce crime, and is an infinitesimal portion of the federal budget. You don't know that?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 16, 2014 11:35:44 AM

This style of argument is rife with transparent (and like likely serious) cognitive distortions and truly bizarre fallacy. It's what most expect to leave behind on the playground.

As to the term "Kapo", I was not even familiar with the term; I had to google it. It is not my job to police Internet forums, nor apologize (or 'object' as you put it) when clearly smart individuals get called names. Are you a 10 year old schoolboy? Stop playing the enfant provocateur and feigning shock when someone gets angry.

I had to search to find your blog, and I noticed there is a distinct lack of comments and likely readership. So to make sure people hear your opinions (they are clearly very important), you infect this more successful venue where a majority of people disagree with you but may lack the facilities to argue with your bizarre style of rhetoric, or give up confronting you on it due to your condescending and toxic manner. I can understand both.

No I will not take your bet, as I enjoy my anonymity and I think you are perhaps a bit out of your mind. You can be sure that I (and hundreds of thousands of legal professionals and affected families) will be paying attention to the SSA vote.

Get some help Bill.

Posted by: Skeptical | Mar 16, 2014 2:22:59 PM

Skeptical --

"As to the term 'Kapo', I was not even familiar with the term; I had to google it."

Then your education was even more deficient than I had thought.

"It is not my job to police Internet forums, nor apologize (or 'object' as you put it) when clearly smart individuals get called names."

The problem is not that I get called names; I'm used to that by now from your ever-so-mature allies. The problem is that my FAMILY now gets vile insults directed at them -- a practice to which, I see, you still voice no objection.

Now that's classy.

Instead, you say this: "Are you a 10 year old schoolboy?"

Well, Skeptical, you sure set an example of thoughtful argument!

To answer your question directly, no, I am not a 10 year-old schoolboy, meaning that, if you're Jerry Sandusky's lawyer, your client won't have a lot of use for me (just as you don't). Sorry about that.

"I had to search to find your blog..."

Gads, the hardship of it all! The "search" took, what, 25 seconds?

"...you infect this more successful venue where a majority of people disagree with you but may lack the facilities to argue with your bizarre style of rhetoric..."

Oh, please forgive me. I'd forgotten that I should refrain from posting on a blog where the majority of people disagree with me. How much better if the pro-druggie types had it all to themselves, so we could do away with that pesky dissenting stuff. For sure, people who support the existing sentencing system -- the one that has helped bring down crime -- should know better than to affront Their Superiors.

"...or give up confronting you on it due to your condescending and toxic manner. I can understand both."

Anything you do toward achieving the ability to understand is all to the good.

"No I will not take your bet, as I enjoy my anonymity..."

I'll bet you do. Not that it makes a difference. The actual reason you won't take the bet is you know you'd lose it -- not that that makes any difference either, since you wouldn't pay anyway.

"...and I think you are perhaps a bit out of your mind."

Hey, look, while you're holding forth with opinions of that sort, could you tell me if my wife is a kapo, too? Personally, I very much doubt my ability to make Internet diagnoses of people I never met, but since you seem more confident, maybe you could help out here. My experience with her is that she's incredibly kind and generous, in addition to being brilliant, but perhaps I should defer to you. Is she too "a bit out of [her] mind" -- you know, a sadist and a kapo-type? You and your pals do seem to have a knack at that sort of assessment.

"Get some help Bill."

I already have a research assistant for next semester, but thanks.

P.S. Here's one of the numerous questions you just whistled past: Could you tell me if your clients bear any responsibility for their fate? Or were they just sleepwalking while selling their drugs?


Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 16, 2014 5:49:52 PM

Prof. Berman does not like to get bored. He likes to hear alternative views. He is also incredibly bright, in person, far more dazzling than apparent here. He has to hedge on policy, in case his homogeneous environment of left leaning academia is making a serious policy mistake.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 16, 2014 7:26:45 PM

SC --

Correct. Doug is a charming and effective speaker in person. He has also affirmatively encouraged my participation on this blog, contrary to Skeptical's claim that I "infect" it.

I don't Doug think hedges on the "incarceration nation" aspect of policy. He's pretty clearly for shorter sentences for the majority of crimes, and certainly for those involving drugs.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 16, 2014 8:08:29 PM

that was some comment. "fascists"? someone needs some more history lessons. Police State certainly. Monarchy could be. but fascists? pft!

plus of course I'm not sure how discussing the problems on a public forum is support?

If anything I think it's a great way to find and pinpoint problems and maybe realize we have the problem and then work to find a solution the majority can live with.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 17, 2014 12:15:16 AM

Skeptical appears to be a working lawyer. Some legal advice (unclear if advice to lawyers is unauthorized practice of law). Personal remarks in a trial will get a rejoinder by the judge. The befuddled jury will then grasp that as a signal from the judge to go against your side. Case is over. So, the phrase, get help, is legal malpractice if uttered in a tribunal. Important to develop a thicker skin, and not let frustration in the traverse cause this elementary mistake. Inducing such a mistake is sometimes a specialty skill of the adversary. Don't let him get to you.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 17, 2014 9:46:58 AM

SC --

I agree; it's pretty clear that Skeptical is a practicing lawyer. I'd bet good money that he does not behave in court as he does here. The reason is simple: Here, he can hide his identity, and there is no authority to enforce standards of behavior. The opposite is true in court.

Skeptical is obviously smart, and could behave better if he wanted to (as I'm quite certain he does in court). You would never see him there sneering at the opposing lawyer to "get help."

That kind of weary BS only gets tried in an anonymous forum, where cheap shots come without a price.

P.S. To those who say you too are anonymous, the answer is that every regular here knows who you are.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 17, 2014 10:49:34 AM

we do? I've never thought about it.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 19, 2014 2:43:21 AM

rodsmith --

SC is a psychologist in Pennsylvania. I'll leave it to him if he wants to say more than that.

He has a somewhat offbeat take on the legal profession, to say the least, but he knows a lot of stuff and, like you, is honest and calls 'em as he sees 'em.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 19, 2014 3:29:41 AM

nice I did not know that. how goes all that snow up there SC.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 19, 2014 3:23:21 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB