Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Theory of Our Constitution

Back in the 1950s, Bob Hope used to tell this joke.
An American was in the Soviet Union explaining to a Russian citizen how we have the greatest country in the world.
"In America," he said, "anyone can get on a train, go to Washington, go up to the White House, and announce that President Eisenhower is a fool."
The Russian responded."It's no different here. Anyone can get on a train, go to Moscow, go up the the Kremlin, and announce that President Eisenhower is a fool."
* * * * *
We begin at the beginning, with the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Justice Black looked at those words and famously said, "No law means no law."

I suppose he may have said that at one time or another, but the actual quote is from a concurring opinion in Smith v. California. It's worth quoting the whole passage.
I read "no law . . . abridging" to mean no law abridging. The First Amendment, which is the supreme law of the land, has thus fixed its own value on freedom of speech and press by putting these freedoms wholly "beyond the reach" of federal power to abridge.
Oddly, Floyd Abrams doesn't quote that passage in The Soul of the First Amendment, his new book about the speech and press protections of the First Amendment. 

Nor does he quote Holmes, dissenting in Abrams v. United States:
But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution.
But if Abrams doesn't quote Black or Holmes in this brief book, he channels them.

Here, he says, is how it works in the United States under the First Amendment.  At least, how it works now and how it has generally worked since somewhere in the middle of the last century. 

Speech is protected.  The press is protected.

The government doesn't get to tell you what you can say and what you can't.  The government doesn't get to decide who can speak and who can't.  The government can't prevent people from saying offensive things.  It doesn't get to decide that the New York Times can have a voice but Breitbart can't.  

Or the other way around.

It's legal - offensive and hateful and stupid, but legal - to spout racist claptrap and insist that the Holocaust didn't happen, and it's too damn bad.

Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.

And corporations?  They really can spend their money on advertising to try and influence elections.

You may not like it.  You may prefer the greater privacy protections in Europe.  You may prefer to prevent speech you consider hateful.  You may think Citizens United was the worst, most wrong-headed decision the Supreme Court ever issued.  

And you may believe with every fiber of your being that Berkeley should prevent Ann Coulter from speaking there and that if Berkeley lets her in it would be proper to fire bomb the auditorium in order to shut her voice down.  Ulrich Baer, you may insist, is right when he claims in the Times that the remedy for bad speech is to stifle it, that it's only those who don't intuitively understand the harm of speech who believe that the remedy for bad speech is more speech.

But that's not our system.  Our system, as Abrams makes clear, is unique in rejecting every one of those things.  With the narrowest of exceptions (and still too many, some of us would argue), Hugo Black was right.  No law means no law.  The "spirit of the First Amendment," he says, is "its anticensorial soul." 

You're free to insist that he's wrong, of course, or that he should be.  You can speak out against free speech and the First Amendment as much as you like.  The First Amendment gives you that right. Maybe it would be better otherwise.  They think so everywhere else in the world, and maybe they're on to something.

Or maybe not.  Floyd Abrams thinks not.  Abrams is 80 years old.  He's been litigating these cases for decades.  And winning them.  

In The Soul of the First Amendment he tells the story of how "no law" came to mean something close to "no law."  He shows how it is that our approach to free speech really is unique.  And he explains, argues, why he thinks it's a good thing.

There are, of course, serious questions.  That you can speak doesn't necessarily mean that you should. In the book's final chapter he explores how "free speech should be responsibly exercised."  That's not a legal question, of course, and "[t]he First Amendment provides no answer to this question.  It never does."

-------------
My thanks to Yale University Press for sending me a copy for this review.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How Far We've Fallen

Let's start the way Laura Kipnis does:
Lately I've been thinking that future generations will look back on the recent upheavals in sexual culture on American campuses and see officially sanctioned hysteria.  They'll wonder how supposedly rational people could have succumbed so easily to collective paranoia, jus as we look back on previous such outbreaks (Salem, McCarthyism, the Satanic ritual abuse preschool trials of the 1980s) with condescension and bemusement. They'll wonder how the federal government got into the moral panic business, tossing constitutional rights out the window in an ill-conceived effort to protect women students from a rapidly growing catalogue of sexual bogeymen.  They'll wonder why anyone would have described any of this as feminism when it's so blatantly paternalistic, or a "political correctness" when sexual paranoia doesn't have any predictable political valence.  (Neither does sexual hypocrisy.) Restoring the most fettered versions of traditional femininity through the back door is backlash, not progress.
Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus is a terrific book.  It's a takedown of how
Title IX is used on college campuses to (all-too-often) punish men and infantalize women.  More, it's to roll back feminism (you know, equality) in favor of "captivity narratives and fair tales about endangered damsels."

Sexual agency?  Nah.  That was so 20th Century.  Today's women on campus are helpless wimps. Their tales of sexual predation, even when contradicted by the evidence they present, believed.  Or so Laura Kipnis argues, and argues convincingly, the campus culture - as applied by Title IX administrators and enthusiastically adopted by at least some women - insists.

At the same time, of course, those same helpless women are throwing themselves into situations where they are likely to be . . . .  Well, risk is (or at least used to be) part of growing up, of what college was about.  Make mistakes but learn from them.  And know the difference between the silly and the depraved.

Kipnis is a professor at Northwestern, and much of her book is about the trials of Peter Ludlow, once an internationally renowned philosophy professor.  Kipnis had rare access to the complete record of his cases and his own evidence.  She uses it to devastating effect to show that while in the context of 2012 on campus his judgment may not always have been wise (things he did would have been unexceptionable 10 years earlier), he was a victim of an extensive, extraordinarily expensive, witch hunt, that left him at least comparatively broke and living in Mexico.

And there's her own case.  Kipnis had written an article, "Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe,"
for the Chronicle of Higher Education, a weekly read mostly by college faculty and administrators. And, it seems, by at least some students at Northwestern who held a protest march against her.  And then brought charges against her under Title IX for sexual harassment and creating a chilling atmosphere by, I suppose, not being sufficiently deferential to the prevailing view that all men on campus - students and faculty both - are sexual predators and all women are, QED, prey.  

Of course, Kipnis then wrote another article for the Chronicle: "My Title IX Inquisition."  She is, you see, a trouble maker - and not to be trifled with.

OK, I said this is a terrific book, and I meant that.  But it's important to add that all her details have to be taken on faith.

She tells stories of other Title IX outrages both to, well, outrage and to indicate that it's not just Northwestern and not just she and Ludlow.  But there's no attribution, no documentation.  Just how widespread is the problem?  She declares, but we pretty much have to take her on faith.  (I do; enough stories seep into the public domain; but still.)

And while she's devastating in the critique of the cases against Ludlow, well, she's seen the thousands of text messages and thousands of pages of documentation.  But we see only the snippets that make her point.  It's what we in the criminal defense biz do during closing argument.  
You can't believe he's guilty.  You heard the witness.  When they spoke to the police at the time they said it was noon and he was wearing a red shirt.  In a follow-up report it was 7 a.m. and the shirt was blue.  Now, on the witness stand, it was nighttime and the shirt was entirely hidden by a coat. Reasonable doubt?  At least.  They can't keep their story straight.
Which is fine until the prosecutor gets up on rebuttal and reminds the jurors that the crime was on videotape and they saw the tape.

Is there a smoking video somewhere in the evidence against Ludlow?  I doubt it.  I believe Kipnis. But you do kind of have to take her word for it.  

In the last analysis, though, Unwanted Advances isn't about Title IX abuses.  That's the frame.  It's about a culture, and its danger.
All this being said, as I weigh the evidence in my own inner courtroom, I can understand why the university had to jettison Ludlow.  Personally, I don't think he abused his power. The problem was that he didn't share the conception of power in vogue in academic precincts. . . . Yes, Ludlow was guilty -- though not of what the university charged him with. His crime was thinking that women over the age of consent have sexual agency, which has lately become a heretical view, despite once being a crucial feminist position.  Of course the community had to expel him.  That's what you do with heretics.

-------------
My thanks to Harper Collins for making a copy of the book available to me.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Where it All Went Wrong - Kinda

I've been trying to figure out just why I found Michael D. Cicchini's deconstruction of the case(s) against Steven Avery so annoying.  

It's not that he says anything that's particularly wrong about how criminal law and procedure actually work (and don't).*  And it's not that Convicting Avery: The Bizarre Laws and Broken System Behind Making a Murderer is a polemic.  I mean, it is a polemic, but I'm OK with that.  Hell, half of what I write here is polemic.

And on the whole taking the book seriously won't make anyone stupider.  It's not bad.  It's just annoying.  And I think I've figured out why.

Go back to Mencken and what he wrote in "The Divine Afflatus" (1917).
Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.
If you don't go for Mencken, try Trump.
Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
It's just not that neat.  Not that simple.  

Sure, a show up is a terrible way for the cops to get an identification if they want to be sure they're identifying the right person.  And one bad ID tends to taint the next, which combine to taint the next even further.

And yeah, police are very good at getting people to waive their right to silence.  (And the courts are enthusiastic partners in the effort.  I mean, really, you can't invoke your right to silence simply by refusing to speak.  You have to announce that you are invoking.  You must, that is, speak in order to remain silent.  Welcome to OZ - or perhaps Catch 22.)  And of course, what you say will be held against you.  

And yeah, cops tell stretchers on the witness stand.  All the time.  (Of course, so does nearly everyone else - mostly on total trivia. The first lie every witness tells is swearing to tell the truth, but it's particularly pernicious when the cops do it.  Their lies don't tend to be trivia.



So yeah, all of that.

But it's not all even.  And it's simply worthless to be equally outraged about everything.   Maybe the cases against Avery were/are that bad and the cops simply decided to frame him.  It happens.  Not often, but it happens.  

Except that I'm not convinced.  

There's a tunnel vision to law enforcement - cops and prosecutors both.  Once they've figured out what they think happened, they focus only on proving it.  There's little room for reconsideration or doubt.  They're not in the business of second guessing.  And they too often decide what happened by looking at the evidence through the lens of what they'd like to find.

So give them a reason to hate Steve Avery and it's no surprise that they'll find themselves readily convinced that he killed even if the evidence is less than compelling.  (And it's not as far fetched as Cicchini makes it sound.  Often the simplest explanation is the right one.  Even smart people do stupid things.)

As I said, it's annoying.  Cicchini doesn't understand (or pretends he doesn't) nuance.  His world (at least as presented in Convicting Avery) is black and white.  The real world isn't. Which is perhaps why I don't come away from the book convinced that Steve Avery was framed.  Though it seems pretty clear that he's not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt - and maybe not at all.

There's lots wrong with the way police and prosecutors pursue cases.  And maybe Avery's is a model of error and bad judgment and bad law and misconduct.  Maybe it's the grossest miscarriage of justice ever. 

Or maybe it was an excuse for a book that's not wrong exactly, not a bad book certainly, but just - well - annoying.  

-----
I am grateful to the publisher for providing me with a copy.

------------------
*CAVEAT:  I'm one of the apparently very few people who didn't watch Making a Murderer, and I don't know the particulars of Wisconsin law or procedure, so I can't actually vouch for the factual accuracy of that stuff.  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The New Colossus


How naïve he'd been, thought the Optician.  How naïve.  Because there would always be greater sorrow, deeper and more unfathomable than any of us could ever imagine.

Emma Jane Kirby, The Optician of Lampedusa.
* * * * *
Nobody's ever accused me of being a glass-half-full kind of guy.

Years ago, at a meeting to determine whether an organization should or should not embrace a particular and potentially problematic position (the details don't matter here), the chair asked everyone to say what they brought to the table.  

I'm good with crunching data, said one.  I can design a web page, said another.  Someone liked to canvass.  Others could raise funds or organize demonstrations or arrange mailings or write press releases or whatever.  When it was my turn I said,
I bring cynicism.
And so I'm known, at least in some circles.

Obama talked a good game, but mostly he figured that if you just explained things calmly, everyone would get it and sign on.  

Come, let us reason together.

People liked him.  His popularity is great.  His party lost power, more and more during his presidency.  Then all of it as he asked for Hillary to be elected to protect his legacy.  Calm.  Rational.

Come, let us reason together.

You saw how that worked.

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day.  Donald Trump issued a statement.
It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.
Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.
In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.
No mention of 6 million Jews there, pointed out many reminding us (some specifically, some only by allusion) of apparently (though he denied it) anti-semitic tweets during the campaign and of the anti-semitism of the alt-right folks he sometimes channels.  Of course, the Nazi's committed genocide against the Roma, too.  And he didn't mention them, either.

But it's the other part, that 
pledge to do everything in my power . . . to . . . make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world
That's the part that interests me.  Not in and of itself, of course.  It's all pretty much standard political mouthing.  Nice words with little or no substantive content.

But at the same time, on the same day, Trump did provide some substantive content.  On the day he claimed to think of the 
depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people
on the day that he would
remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes
on that day, he shut the border to victims, survivors, heroes, who didn't happen to share a particular sort of racial religious purity - at least if they came from a particular subset of the countries (not from those with whom he does business, as more than one wag has pointed out) from whence come "radical Islamic terrorists."

* * * * *

In October 2013 a boat carrying somewhere over 400 refugees, mostly Eritreans, capsized as it was nearing its goal, the island of Lampedusa.  366 or so drowned.   The details are horrific.  A small group of friends, eight of them, sailing out from Lampedusa for a late season pleasure trip, heard the screams from across the water.  

They didn't know what those sounds were, seagulls perhaps.  But they went to investigate.  And there were desperate people in the water, trying not to drown.  They managed, heroically though they reject the designation, to save some 47.  Plucked from the sea.  55 on a boat designed to hold 10.  It was an amazing effort.  

But, 47 is not 400.  

Among the rescuers was Lampedusa's lone optician, Carmine Menna.  It is his story, with his permission, that BBC Radio 4 reporter Emma Jane Kirby turned not into a novel but a parable.  The Optician of LampedusaTold from his point of view, though he's never named, just referred to as "the Optician," an ordinary man, everyman.  He knew, of course, of refugees and that some didn't make it. Lampedusa is a small island, but a goal for many because of its location.  But knowledge doesn't necessarily inspire action. He was, after all, an optician, not a lifeguard.

But when they come upon Thrust into the position where he could act, had to act.

Before their small craft came, the 8 rescuers are told, another boat came by and ignored the desperate men and women and children.  Let them drown.   The woman whose body was found recovered (this is true) clutching her newborn baby, still joined by umbilical cord to the child.

There are, you see, fine (and not so fine words).  And our history welcoming (or too often not welcoming) those who would come to our shores (or those who were here first) rarely matches those fine words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It was 1882 when Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act.  Roosevelt did not open our doors to the Jews fleeing the Nazis.   Obama's administration set records for the most people deported.

It is said that when Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, he said, "So you're the little lady who started this big war."  Because the story. 

Because reason isn't enough.  Because knowledge is too often abstract.  Because as Stalin is said to have observed to Averill Harriman, "The death of a million is a statistic."  On the other hand, as the first part of that Stalin quote goes, "The death of one man is a tragedy."

Our President doesn't read books so he surely won't read The Optician of Lampedusa. Damned shame.  He should.  You should.  

Consider it an act of rebellion.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lies, Damn Lies, and the Law

Some true stories:


  • A judge told me (off the record) that when it comes down to it, he finds cops more credible than lay witnesses.


  • Another judge told me (off the record) that if it had been a DUI he'd have granted the defendant's motion and dismissed the case, but the charge was aggravated murder so he denied the motion.


  • Another judge told me (off the record) that the three-judge panel trying the death penalty case dismissed the death specifications after finding they were proved but before the sentencing phase of the trial and imposed a life sentence because "we knew if the case had gone forward we would have sentenced him to die."


  • The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals explained that it was denying the pro se defendant relief because he'd filed his documents the wrong way, but if he did it right - and they told him how to do it - they'd grant relief.  He followed instructions.  They denied relief.

* * *
None of this, except possibly for the specific examples, is new to anyone who's been in the trenches for a bit.  If we were ever naive enough to believe, we've learned otherwise.  It's why I so often say, to the frustration and irritation of law students and new lawyers that I don't believe in The Law, that thing they teach in the law schools that comes with the upper case L.  I believe, of course, in law. That's the thing that bites you on the ass when you think The Law is on your side.

* * *
We have in Ohio executions scheduled, with real, serious execution dates, through September 2020, which, if you're mathematically challenged, is nearly four years from now.  That's 23 men who know when they're supposed to be killed.  They've run through all standard process, both state and federal. Sometimes more than once.  It's pretty much a certainty that some of them (no, I don't know which, nobody does) will not in fact be killed as scheduled, because there's all sorts of things outside standard process that can happen.  But those dates are real.

In the last week, the Supreme Court of Ohio scheduled executions in two more cases:  For November 2020 and March 2021.  Those dates are not serious. The court sets an execution date when it denies direct appeal and affirms a death sentence.  But it's consistently followed the rule that everyone is entitled to at least one full round of state review.  So it grants motions to stay those dates.  Doesn't mean those two men won't ever be executed.  But it won't happen on the current schedule.  Those men each have more years to go.

In fact, trial judges are supposed to set execution dates when they impose death sentences.  The Supreme Court then vacates those dates so it has time to hear and affirm the death sentences and set its own first set of fictitious dates.

* * *
It's not exactly that it's a game. And not exactly that it's dishonest.  It's partly the Law of Rule rather than the Rule of Law.  Partly it's power.  Partly it's fear. And sometimes what's actually supposed to happen does, which gives too many people false expectations about next week.

Really, it's something like a legal fiction.  We pretend, because it's what keeps the system - and for better or worse the system is all we have - operating.

But you do kinda have to wonder.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Better Angels My Ass

Lincoln, at his first inaugural, spoke of healing of the nation's wounds.
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
He was hoping to head off civil war.  It didn't work.  The war came.

And it was bloody and it was awful and it ended up, well, kind of back where we started.  Slavery abolished, sure.  But equality?  Real equality?  Nah.  And certainly not amity.



So much for the better angels of our nature.

We've come a long way since then, of course, mostly leaving the bloodshed behind.  But let's not kid ourselves.  Remember Oklahoma City?

And, of course.


Because whatever lip service we pay

  
Or as The Youngbloods put it 



Because our real American value, the one we demonstrate rather than pontificate, is rather different.

So it's no surprise, really, that when the opportunity presents itself we cheer the killing and condemn those who would . . . .

You know what happened.  


At Ohio State the other day a guy purposely drove into a crowd of people, injuring at least one, then jumped out of his car and began knifing people.  Until a campus cop shot him dead. 

I'm not interested in the cop or the shooting.  I'm not interested in the now-dead guy.  I'm interested in Stephanie Clemons Thompson, assistant director of residence life at Ohio State.  At least, she still is as I write this.  That's the Stephanie Clemons Thompson who posted on facebook
Abdul Razak Ali Artan was a BUCKEYE, a member of our family.  If you think it is okay to celebrate his death and/or share a photo of his dead body and I see it in my timeline I will unfriend you.  I pray you find compassion for his life, as troubled as it clearly was.  Think of the pain he must have been in to feel that his actions were the only solution.  We must come together in this time of tragedy. #BuckeyeStrong #BlackLivesMatter #SayHisName
And, naturally, by Thursday afternoon more than 900 people had signed a petition calling for her to be fired.

Because as true Americans and patriots (and Buckeyes it seems) it is important that we remember to hate and never to show compassion for those who do wrong.

Well, maybe it's OK to not hate once a year.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This Won't End Well

It is too often true in the trenches of criminal defense that if our clients were good at making decisions they wouldn't be our clients.

Case in point:  Dylan Roof.  

Charged with killing 9 African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.  His motive, they say, was to start a race war.  It was, they say, an act of terrorism.  Regardless of what additional names you give to the murder, regardless of the motive, it was an horrific crime.

Bad decision to do that? Certainly.  Bad decision to hate that much (and that way)?  Certainly.  Bad decision to have that picture taken?  Certainly.

Anyhow, he's facing (you know this and I've written about it several times) capital trials in both federal and state court.

They began selecting the jury this morning in the federal trial.  From a pool of 512 (down from 747 who filled out questionnaires, which is down from the 3,000 who were originally summoned), they'll get down to a dozen jurors and 6 alternates.  It's a slow process under the best of circumstances.  So slow that testimony likely won't begin until January (so the reporters are saying), perhaps just a few days before the trial in state court is set to start.  (The state trial will be delayed.)

Of course, one thing might speed it up a bit.

Just before they started with the jurors this morning, the judge granted Roof's request to represent himself.  This is the same judge who just held a two-day, closed-door hearing on whether Roof was competent to stand trial - a lesser degree of competence, the Supreme Court says.  But, and with some reluctance (judges hate pro se defendants; their lack of legal training and acculturation makes them unpredictable and tends to complicate the trial), the judge warned Roof he was probably making a serious mistake and then gave him the green light.

Which he wanted because, you know, he knows better how to convince the . . . .  Aw, the hell with the snark.  You know the old saying.
Anyone who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client.
Jennifer Berry Hawes in the Post and Courier, wondered why Roof would want to represent himself.
Defendants typically seek to represent themselves in capital cases for three reasons, said Charleston attorney Chris Adams, who specializes in federal court defenses, including death penalty cases, and is secretary of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
"They don’t have faith in their legal team, they want to die, or they want to conceal their mental illness," Adams said. "In this case, Mr. Roof had a great defense team, so I don’t think there would be any sane reason to not trust them."
No "sane reason" not to trust them.  Well, yeah.  But then ordinary sanity and the competence to stand trial or represent oneself aren't the same thing (as Chris well knows).  And trust?  Hell, the same government that wants to murder Roof is paying his lawyers to try and save his life.  It's not hard to see why he might have some trust issues.*

But as Chris rejects the trust thing, he offers another guess.
Instead, Adams figured that Roof "wants suicide by jury" to conceal mental health issues. "Since it is doubtful Mr. Roof will present his own case for life, the hearing becomes a charade as jurors are denied the information that is critical to their decision," added Adams, who isn't involved in the case.
But that doesn't seem quite right, either.  The record, such as it is, does not suggest that Roof wants to be murdered by prison personnel.  He has, after all, consistently offered to plead guilty if the governments would just take execution off the table and sentence him to death by incarceration.

But if not the suicide by jury part, the rest (perhaps with variation) seems plausible: He wants to be sure that nobody will hear mitigation evidence he'd rather conceal.  Maybe it's about his mental health.  Maybe it's about his mother.  Maybe it's about how he's been abused.  

Or maybe it's that he wants to be able to tell the jury that he did it and he's glad and fuck those niggers.  Heil!  Besides, it's federal court and Donald Trump can grant him a pardon, so what the hell.

Back when he was blogging at Hercules and the Umpire, Judge Kopf posted this picture of a sullen Dylan Roof with the lead in, "let me show you what evil looks like."


I'm more struck by this picture of a seriously fucked-up and pathetic kid.  Just the sort who'd want to keep his truths to himself.


But monster or not, evil or just pitiable in his self-absorbed mania, if he keeps representing himself, you can be pretty sure what the verdict will be.

The Lynch can be proud that she got a death sentence in an even-more-than-usual unfair fight.


-----------------
*No, I'm not saying they're legitimate.  But they're things that every lawyer who takes court-appointments and every public defender has to deal with from time to time.