Monthly Archives: June 2014

SCOTUS Gets It Right: Cops Need A Search Warrant for Your Cellphone

It’s axiomatic. Search incident to a lawful arrest. Cops have a field day seizing whatever’s on the defendant’s person and whatever’s nearby. And it makes eminent sense. Let’s seize evidence and fruits of the crime and especially secure the area to ensure the police officer’s safety. And cellphones fell prey to the vacuum cleaner swath of the search. Until now.

Cellphones are data troves. They’re repositories of pictures, notes, emails , thoughts, itineraries. The rough draft of your life. And Roberts spelled it out perfectly. Imagine that!

Lyle Denniston in SCOTUSblog said it best:

Treating modern cellphones as gaping windows into nearly all aspects of the user’s life and private conduct, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ordered police to get a search warrant before examining the contents of any such device they take from a person they have arrested.  Seeing an individual with a cellphone is such a common thing today, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., wrote, “the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”

And it even addressed the idea of cloud technology and data storage platforms. This really mucks up the works. Again, Denniston notes

[t]he ruling was such a sweeping embrace of digital privacy that it even reached remotely stored private information that can be reached by a hand-held device — as in the modern-day data storage “cloud.”  And it implied that the tracking data that a cellphone may contain about the places that an individual visited also is entitled to the same shield of privacy.

The Court’s ruling drew some suggestions by Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to narrow its scope, but it did not accept those.  The result was the broadest constitutional ruling on privacy in the face of modern technology since the Court’s ruling two Terms ago limiting police use of satellite-linked GPS tracking of a suspect’s movements by car.

The tutorial commences infra. I love this stuff. Being a lawyer, law-trained but more importantly having slogged through MASH-unit Flawda highfalutin rootin’ tootin’ prosecutin’, I’ve a different perspective. A different take. Theory meets practical. And it’s legal commentary that I love inside and out. Because it’s real and it affects you. Moreover you’re charged with knowing it. Ignorance is not a defense. Unless your Linda Tripp, but that’s another story.

Rejoice! The Constitution’s alive and well. And the Supremes got if right.

On the Sixth Anniversary of the Death of the Prophet George Carlin

He was a prophet who might have made you laugh. But that was incidental. That was an added bonus. What he spoke of were subjects that more often than not were anything but funny. And he left a legacy of some of the most brilliant routines and writings and observations ever recorded.

His verbal facility was nonpareil. There simply was nothing like it. It was jazz. Lyrical, verbal jazz. And here’s why we may never see the likes of him again.

Why? Because in so many instances, in so many arenas what passes for Carlin is mockery of the opposing view, typically anything uttered by anyone from the GOP or Republicans or Tea Party. That’s not Carlin. He had platforms and positions and ideologies that stood independent of the object of targeted ridicule. Political discourse today is personal. Snarky, smarmy, impolite and hardly impolitic.

There’s nothing like him now. And with the exception of the late Bill Hicks, no one with the intellectual firepower.


The 20th Anniversary of O. J.’s Murders: Part III – O. J. Pre-Twitter and Post Ted Baxter

Holy Narcissus, Batman! Imagine. Just imagine. O. J. With no Twitter, no hashtags, no Facebook, microblogging. Nothing. Zip. Just plain old cable. Tired, haggard, hoary, unimaginative and cobwebbed. Well, Junior, that’s exactly the way it was. And somehow we survived. In fact, I respectfully submit, it was better. Social media would have destroyed it. Because the heft that’s associated with simultaneous tweetage amounts in effect to a poor man’s stenography. We’re so busy reacting we miss that which we should react to. Not to mention, twits tweeting create a separate, ancillary and attendant substory.

And to the scores of 20-something millipedes (or is that millennials?) who suggest that since they were in fifth grade when Simpson commenced with his slashings they have no singular and independent recollection or reference point to the event, let me respond to these cub citizens that I wasn’t around tic the Civil War bug it was in all the papers. The height of hubris and arrogance from these kids today, I’m tellin’ ya! In the scope of history events are modular. They fit together and interlock. Their significance aside from the fact that it happened is that it happened. How’s that for cosmic?

And here, my third installment.

The 20th Anniversary of O. J.’s Murders: Part II – The Matter of Race

Guilt had nothing to do with it. Culpability is too direct. To many it was about a lot of things inter alia, all shaded, tainted and cast in a host of perspectives. Historical, social. To the evidentiary purist, he was guilty. As sin. It was obvious. He just happened to elect not to videotape the event or admit to it, but it was clear he did it. It was circumstantial evidence, textbook. And forget that motive and opportunity TV CSI biz. He did it. All by himself. But through the miracle of happenstance and his good luck he almost got away with it. In fact in the video herein I describe a scenario wherein he would certainly have walked.

Yet to a host of Americans this was in part a case of divine comeuppance. Here a rich, connected Black man could hire the best legal team and basically shove it up the juridical arse of a careless, uncaring and racist American criminal justice (the greatest oxymoron since military intelligence) system. And who could blame anyone for that thinking? Least of all a group of Americans who (to quote St. Richard of Pryor), looked for justice and found “just us.” After all, when John Gotti was acquitted of crimes through bought and paid for bribed juries, people cheered , not out of the recognition of his non-guilt but that he was someone folks liked and identified with. So fine, trials are a Rorschach Test. And so was O.J.’s.

And if you had any doubt as to the depth of the racial divide, all you had do was watch the reactions to the verdict. Black groups gathered for the verdict cheered; White groups hung their heads and stared in disbelief. The obvious was obvious.

But yet Simpson was still guilty. And the case was replete in reasonable doubt. But the real issue, the gloating subtext, was race. Not as a motivator for the crime but in the disparate dissonance in how the case was received and interpreted.

The 20th Anniversary of O. J.’s Murders: Part I – The Bastard’s Still Guilty

Bloody well right. This is about murder. A very bloody murder. Have you ever seen a crime scene? It’s something you’ll never forget. This is one of the least gruesome photos I’ve elected to show. I’ve left out the more grizzly photos of Nicole’s throat slit and in essence dissected so deeply she was virtually decapitated. Go ahead, look around. You’ll find them.

Because rememberer, this is first and foremost a murder. And not just any murder. This was the grandaddy of media murders, the one and only. Twenty years ago this week the country was riveted to their TV. This was before Twitter and Facebook, pre social media, pre blogs and microblogs, pre alternative media. June 13th was the murder. June 17th the slow speed chase. One of the more famous oxymorons next to criminal justice. Domino’s Pizza claims that deliveries that night rivaled the Super Bowl. The coverage was third when compared to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. This event knew no peer. No equal. To this day it’s never been duplicated. And the case unfolded and developed on so many levels and planes. It introduced the country to DNA collection and contamination. Before CSI, before blue-gloved and booty-shod crime scene techs, before the careful and methodical work of today’s criminalist there were the bumbling, oafish Keystone Coppers of Lange and Vannatter, the nincompoop twins walking around with blood vials and evidence in their pockets. Truly amazing.

There was the incomparable Johnnie Cochran, whose juridical doggerel “If the glove doesn’t fit you must acquit” should have been met with “If you acquit you’re full of shit.” But I digress. And in reference to that jury, to be fair they were certainly within their rights To find reasonable doubt. I mean for Chrissakes, with Barney Fife and Goober at the helm, the case was replete with doubt.

But it was more than O.J. and Cochran and Mark Furman. More than Bronco chases and blood stains. It was about race, justice, injustice and the media. It was about everything. This is installment one. With more to come. I assure you.