Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Supreme Court allows retaliatory arrest claim for exercising First Amendment right

The US Supreme Court held 8-1  in Lozman v. Riviera Beach that it is possible an arrest could have violated the First Amendment when it was ordered in retaliation for earlier, protected speech, even in the presence of probable cause, reported Jurist.
Lozman filed a lawsuit alleging that the city of Riviera, Florida, arrested him after speaking out at a public comments session in retaliation for two instances of First Amendment protected expressions: a then-pending lawsuit under the Florida Sunshine Act and his history of publicly criticizing city officials and policies.
The court decided narrowly. Lozman argued that the city itself retaliated against him pursuant to an "official municipal policy" of intimidation and that they formed a "premeditated plan to intimidate him in retaliation for his criticisms of city officials and his open-meetings lawsuit." The court agreed that if this is true, Lozman would have a stronger case.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:
It must be underscored that this Court has recognized the 'right to petition as one of the most precious of the liberties safeguarded by the Bill of Rights.'... Lozman alleges the City deprived him of this liberty by retaliating against him for his lawsuit against the City and his criticisms of public officials. Thus, Lozman's speech is high in the hierarchy of First Amendment values.
The court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals to decide consistent with its opinion. 
To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sessions tries to distinguish U.S. border policy from Nazi policy

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rebuffed claims that the Justice Department’s new zero-tolerance immigration policy that separates families echoed Nazi Germany  concentration camps, reported the Huffington Post.
Sessions spoke with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Monday and defended his agency amid a growing outcry over family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border under the new DOJ policy.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security said nearly 2,000 children had been separated from their parents over a six-week period ending in May. Many of these children are being held in juvenile detention centers.
Sessions said comparisons of those centers to the Nazis camps wasn’t fair, “Well, it’s a real exaggeration, of course. In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country,” Sessions said. The Justice Department was simply trying to deter people from crossing the border, not keep them in the U.S.
The best the attorney general could do to refute comparisons to the Nazi's is that the U.S. Government wants to keep people out of the county and the Nazi's wanted to keep them in--what a sad day in America where the U.S. Government is trying to distinguish its conduct from that of the Nazi Germany.
To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, June 18, 2018

White supremacists surge on college campuses

Recently released reports from a pair of prominent nonprofit organizations reveal the increased targeting of student spaces by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and the violence these ideologies entail, according to The Intercept .
The Anti-Defamation League reported that incidents of white supremacist propaganda on U.S. campuses more than tripled in 2017. Groups doubling down on campus propagandizing include explicit neo-Nazis like the Florida-based Atomwaffen Division, as well as associations like Identity Evropa, known for couching its unabashed racist message in thinly veiled panegyrics to protecting Western culture and posters bearing Michelangelo’s David.
“The ‘alt-right’ is a movement of mostly young white males,” Carla Hill, senior researcher for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told me. “They realize that for any movement to truly grow, they must reach young minds, and this segment of the white supremacist movement has been focused on doing that.”
The potential gravity of this surge was then underlined by a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, titled simply, “The Alt-Right Is Killing People.” More than 100 people have been killed or injured since 2014 by perpetrators believed to be influenced by the racism and misogyny that defines the so-called alt-right, the center found. More than 60 people were killed or injured in “alt-right” violence last year alone.
The reports draw no direct link between the rise in white supremacist propaganda and the spike in white supremacist murders. But together, they make clear that the threat of “alt-right” influence on young people, above all young white men, is anything but academic: Racist ideology is never free of violence, and neither is it in the case of the cosplaying, Nazi-adjacent trolls of the “alt-right.”
The Anti-Defamation League reported separately in November that white supremacists and other far-right extremists were responsible for 59 percent of all extremist-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2017, up from 20 percent in 2016. While it’s too soon for much dispositive social science on the link, it’s difficult to consider all this data outside of the Trump era in American politics.
To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, June 17, 2018

GateHouse: Police are not the answer to every social ill

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
June 17, 22018
As policymakers nationwide scramble to deal with policing issues — everything from excessive force; to disrespect for authority; to the role of police in troubled neighborhoods — the recurring question is, are we asking police officers to do too much?
Alex Vitale, Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College, and author of “The End of Policing” told NPR, “The problem is that they’ve (police have) been given a limited set of tools and placed into circumstances where those tools often can be counterproductive.”
Vitale is not alone. “What police have been forced to do in this country is perform triage,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown told the Washington Post.
In Dallas, according to the Post, police work includes corralling potentially dangerous dogs, among other duties that extend well beyond routine crime. “We have got a loose dog problem — let’s have the cops chase loose dogs,” Brown said. “Schools fail? Give it to the cops.”
Vitale said “the answer is to quit using police to solve every social problem under the sun. Instead we need to invest in new systems of discipline that treat people with dignity and respect and try to identify what’s driving problematic behavior and actually address those root causes.”
The opioid epidemic has exacerbated the role of the police is addressing the community’s social problems, whether criminal or not. Dallas Police Detective Chelsea Whitaker told Reuters, “We can be glorified social workers.”
She described her contact with two teenagers who constantly got into fights at school. One of them had not been eating. Whitaker took her to grocery store to buy food.
“I had to take another girl to get sanitary napkins because nobody ever taught her that,” Whitaker told Reuters. “She is angry and fighting all the time; of course, you would be angry.”
“A lot of the officers are resistant to what we call social work. They want to go out and fight crime, put people in jail,” Capt. Ron Meyers of the in Chillicothe, Ohio Police Department told the Washington Post. “We need to make sure the officers understand this is what is going to stop the (opioid) epidemic.”
Officers are finding children who were barricaded in rooms while their parents got high, and they are responding to the same homes for the same problems. Feelings of exasperation course through some departments in which officers are interacting with the same drug users over and over again, sometimes saving their lives repeatedly with naloxone, a drug that reverses an opiate overdose, reported the Post.
Couple addiction with mental illness and the tension between the police and a bad actor can escalate rapidly — often with disastrous results. Police departments are looking for new and innovative ways to cope with this growing menace.
Amy Watson, an associate professor of social work at The University of Illinois at Chicago, described Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs) for Social Work Today. The CIT Model is an innovative police-based first responder program designed to help law enforcement recognize and appropriately respond to a mental health crisis.
As money for mental health institutions evolved into community based treatment, prisons have become de facto mental health facilities. Police officers have become the caretaker in the community charged with protecting the public from the double malaise of addiction and mental illness.
Being a cop isn’t easy. Sending him or her into the street to deal with issues beyond the scope of law enforcement is outrageous. Sure, training is available, but shouldn’t police officers focus on public safety and law enforcement while other trained professionals deal with illnesses like addiction and schizophrenia?
The police are not the answer to every social ill, nor should that be society’s expectation.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.

Support for the death penalty on the rise

Public support for the death penalty, which reached a four-decade low in 2016, has increased somewhat since then. Today, 54% of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 39% are opposed, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April and May.
Two years ago, 49% favored the death penalty for people convicted of murder, the lowest level of support for capital punishment in surveys dating back to the early 1970s.
While the share of Americans supporting the death penalty has risen since 2016, it remains much lower than in the 1990s or throughout much of the 2000s. As recently as 2007, about twice as many Americans favored (64%) as opposed (29%) the death penalty for people convicted of murder.
Since the mid-1990s, support for the death penalty has fallen among Democrats and independents but remained strong among Republicans.
About three-quarters of Republicans (77%) currently favor the death penalty, compared with 52% of independents and 35% of Democrats.
To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, June 15, 2018

PA State Police must report all interaction with immigration officials

By the end of this month, Pennsylvania State Police officers will be required to file a report any time they call immigration authorities to the scene of a traffic stop, detailing the circumstances behind the call, the agency said Wednesday.
This change comes two months after ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer published an investigation about state and local police officers in Pennsylvania helping ICE round up immigrants for deportation, using tactics that raise questions about racial profiling and unlawful arrest.
The story focused on Pennsylvania state Trooper Luke C. Macke as an extreme example. In 2017, Macke turned over at least 19 undocumented immigrants to ICE after interrogating them about their legal status and detaining them for up to four hours without a warrant.
In response to the April investigation, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf released a statement calling for “a need for stronger uniform procedures addressing state police requests for assistance from outside agencies, including ICE, especially given the new pressure on state and local agencies from the federal government.”
To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, June 14, 2018

SCOTUS to examine juvenile interrogations today

Decades ago, the Supreme Court articulated that courts should evaluate teenagers' confessions with special care, because kids aren't able to cope with the psychological challenges of police interrogation in the same way adults do, reported CNN.
On June 14, the court will consider whether this requirement is still sound when it meets behind closed doors and discusses whether to take up the case of Brendan Dassey, an intellectually impaired Wisconsin boy who, according to his lawyers, gave a coerced confession to murder at age 16.
Dassey became famous after his story was featured in Netflix's "Making a Murderer." His videotaped interrogation was unforgettable: police falsely promised Dassey he'd be set free if he confessed and then coached him on how the crime unfolded when he was unable to guess even the most basic details. Shockingly, Dassey remains imprisoned for life after a federal appeals court ruled that his confession should not be thrown out.
To read more CLICK HERE