Monthly Archives: November 2010

Student Blawg – PAT-DOWNS and BODY SCANS, ARE THEY REALLY NECESSARY?

By An Anonymous Student

In October of this year TSA was able to implement the new pat-downs or body scans.  Not everyone will need to do these.  There is much criticism over these new pat-downs and body scans and that is due to people feeling like their privacy is being invaded.  Not to mention, the delay associated with the search is making lines at the airport much longer then they have typically been.

I know we all can agree that we want it to be safe for us to travel by plane, but at what cost?  It wasn’t an easy decision for TSA to make in changing how they do their security checks; they had to get approval all the way up to the white house and give reasons for the change.  A lot of people seem to think that pat-downs are going above and beyond a reasonable search.  Some people feel as if they have been assaulted.

TSA already uses a method called profiling;  “behavioral and country-of-origin profiling” to be exact. This method is how they determine whom to subject to secondary screenings.  The pat-downs really only occur about 1 in every 100 passengers.  Usually, pat-downs would be done when someone refuses to go through the body scan.  They also occur randomly, or if the airport doesn’t have a scan machine.

No one is exempt from these new security checks, including kids and elderly.  Subjecting children to pat down searches raises concern to some that their children are being touched on parts of their body that they have never been touched before.  Critics argue, on the other hand, that it’s just as easy to use a child to bring a bomb on a plane as it is an adult.  One has to wonder if they are doing these new security checks on your body, then what more are they doing with your bags.

Advocates argue that while these new security measures may seem like they are taking away our rights to privacy, they are here for the point of making our country safer. You don’t hear much if any about bombs being smuggled in on a person traveling from the U.S. to another country.  The reason for this is because their security is so high there and the punishment is so harsh that it detours people from even trying.

So, what can we make of all this?  Well, it may be as simple as more people resorting to other ways we use to travel — car, train or even bus.  Leaving airlines with no ticket holders can lead airlines bankrupted and many would loose their jobs. But that is unlikely. Efficiency and speed dictate the airlines will be here to stay, and with it the enhanced invasions. Security has it’s price in one way or another.

Source

Source

Advertisements

District Attorney Criticizes Colorado’s Public Defenders

Colorado District Attorney Martin Beeson should hand in his prosecutor’s badge and tear up his bar card. It’s like he was asleep in Con Law class during law school. Perhaps he should join the Tea Party with Christine O’Donnell to burn up the Constitution.

According to the Aspen Daily News, District Attorney Martin Beeson said that he stands by recent comments he made in October 2010 criticizing public defenders, as lawyers throughout Colorado condemned his statements.

These comments stem from a meeting he had recently with Pitkin County commissioners concerning his office’s 2011 budget. Beeson criticized local public defenders for some overzealous courtroom tactics, accusing them of unethical behavior and abuse of the system, wasting taxpayer resources, filing meritless motions clogging courtrooms, and unnecessarily using up tremendous resources at taxpayers’ expense.

Beeson told the Aspen Daily News, “Public defenders are not defenders of the public. They are not serving the public good. They are taxpayer-funded attorneys for criminals.” According to the News, he said that Public Defenders “are government-funded defense attorneys and should be called just that, government-funded defense attorneys.”

Who is this guy? He is clearly not anyone who gives a damn about equal justice for all. I guess he skipped over the part of the Constitution that imposes due process. Remember that?  Thou shall not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law?  I guess he expects the accused to just lie down and roll over.

Talk Left commentator, Jeralyn stated in an article “The Worst Prosecutor Comment of the Week” of October 22, 2010, states that “… Someone needs to clue Beeson in to the purpose of the Bill of Rights… The framers of the Constitution understood mistakes happen, and it is better that a guilty person go free than an innocent person be convicted.”

SOURCE

I have to appreciate the comments of my friend and colleague, Tina Fang for sticking up for her office, who has to deal with this clown on a daily basis. According to the News, she said his characterization of their work “demonstrates why, now more than ever, the public defender’s office must heed its mission to ensure that indigent people accused of crimes in this valley are provided the highest and most zealous level of representation money can’t buy.”

The head of the Colorado Public Defenders System, Defender Douglas K. Wilson, said via e-mail: “It is sad, and scary that Mr. Beeson does not believe in the same principles.”

Doug Wilson went on record with the News criticizing Beeson.  “The men and women that work for the [state public defender] work for the poor with little financial reward because they believe in the protections set forth in the Constitution by our founding fathers.”

I agree! What kind of archaic attitude do you need to have to believe that the citizens of your country, state, or county are not entitled to due process and the right to be innocent until proven guilty; or that the government better have enough evidence to convict you beyond all reasonable doubt? It is the DA’s obligation to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to guarantee the protection of the innocent.

SOURCE

In retaliation to the report published in the Aspen Daily News, Martin Beeson refused to apologize for his statements about the public defenders, claiming that he was misquoted, and backed up his initial statement with a Guest Opinion article ‘The Truth Hurts’ which was published in The Aspen Times on November 1, 2010. Beeson writes “The presumption of innocence and the right to counsel are simply smoke screens thrown up by those who have a vested and pecuniary interest in protecting their dirty little secret. …It is the prosecutor who represents you, the people. It is the defense attorney who represents the interests of the perpetrator who has forever devastated the life of the victim… …The truth is that prosecutors and law enforcement officers live with the pain of victims of crime. Defense attorneys do not.  …the only apologies needed are from those defense attorneys who routinely re-victimize the good and decent people of our communities who have suffered devastating and life-altering experiences at the hands of their clients.”

SOURCE

Tom Silverman fired back at Beeson, stating that “Martin’s latest responses are so misguided, contradictory, and poorly grounded in law or fact that it begs for a response.”

“I remember cases in which the defense ‘frustrated’ the DA’s efforts to convict the innocent. The literal statement of the DA characterizes these people as ‘criminals’.”

“… Every warrantless arrest is presumed illegal. Most arrests are warrantless. Every statement to the police is subject to scrutiny regarding its voluntariness and compliance with constitutional warnings. Every case involves the obligation of the prosecution to provide exculpatory evidence, reports, and statements of witnesses to the defense. … Ethical conduct by the defense is to ensure the defendant’s rights are provided and protected. Failure to file motions is, in my opinion, a bigger problem than the filing of frivolous ones. Cynically believing that pecuniary interest of attorneys is the issue shows a fundamental misunderstanding of defense motives.”

SOURCE

Beeson’s unremitting statements are affirmation that his interests are not in support of due process of law, but more likely politically motivated tactics to instill fear in the public, as a push to move his political aspirations forward.


Could Our First Amendment Rights be Collateral Damage of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act?

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 19-0 on Thursday to approve the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, otherwise known as the COICA bill, and send it to the full Senate. The bill would give US Law enforcement more and faster ways of cracking down on websites engaged in piracy of movies, TV and music. It includes allowing law enforcement to issue court orders to seize domains located outside of the United States. The bill has bipartisan support and is supported by people in all facets of the entertainment industry including; music, movies, TV, newspapers, publishers and authors.

But not everyone is happy with the idea of the bill. While at a hearing on digital trade issues Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden, said he would block the bill from passing through the full Senate.  “Deploying this statute to combat online copyright infringement seems almost like using a bunker-busting cluster bomb, when what you need is a precision-guided missile… If you don’t think this thing through carefully the collateral damage would be American innovation, American jobs, and a secure Internet.”

With only a few more days in the session this year it means the bill will need to pass soon or sponsors of the bill will have to reintroduce it next session. Some of the sponsors of the bill include Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. They say it is much needed to combat copyright and trademark infringement online.

“The internet needs to be free – not lawless.” Leahy stated.

Similarly Hatch said in a statement, “The Internet serves as the glue of international commerce in today’s global economy. But it’s also been turned into a tool for online thieves to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, making hundreds of millions of dollars off of stolen American intellectual property.”

But when is protecting American intellectual property and preventing thieves from stealing millions of dollars infringing on American’s First Amendment rights? And if it does which is more important?…

Critics of the bill say it will amount to too much censorship and even if a website has infringing material it also has content that should be protected by free-speech rights. The Center for Democracy and Technology says it could lead to fragmentation of the Internet.  The EFF, Electronic Freedom Foundation, has labeled the bill as an “Internet censorship” bill.

President and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, Ed Black, says, “The significance and implications of the legislation I don’t think have been well thought through. Sadly, it’s an example of what not to do in an important, complicated digital ecosystem.”

Source

Source


Respect their right to make fools of themselves

Voltaire is attributed to saying “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

This seems to be a solid theme recently with many groups flexing their respective first amendment rights on various topics.  This is a free society, and with it comes the scrutiny of behavior and the right to counter point.

(and – as a bonus – you get to go to the U.S. Supreme Court when your local school board suspends the student with the “Fuck This Guy” signs.)

I can’t take any credit for any comments associated with these posts…


Student Blog: Should the right to burn the Koran be protected under the First Amendment?

By Patricia Pratt

Earlier this year, Pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn the Koran in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.  While free speech is constitutionally protected, even when it is considered offensive, outrageous and unpopular, there has to be a limit on what can and cannot be uttered.  You don’t need the courts to protect speech that everyone agrees with.  You need the First Amendment to protect speech that people regard as intolerable, because that is when the majority can and will wield its power to censor or suppress.  Has the current administration set a precedent for self-censorship based on the anticipated mood swings of mobs and fanatics or did it protect when the speech fostered such hatred and discrimination, promoting violence and killing?

Unique among courts of the world, the Supreme Court has extended broad protection in the area of hate speech.  The justices have consistently held that statutes punishing speech or conduct solely because they are unseemly or offensive are unconstitutionally overly broad. Still, many Americans argue to limit hateful expression. To support this position they invoke the fighting words doctrine articulated by Justice Frank Murphy’s unanimous opinion in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942). Murphy defined fighting words as those that neither contributed to the expression of ideas nor possessed any social value in the search for truth and that incited an immediate, violent response.   With the Chaplinsky exception in mind, the Court has generally given broad scope to speech that some would classify as hateful.

The concern in this instance is that even the mention of burning the Koran led to violence.  In Western Afghanistan, hundreds surrounded the NATO base and soldiers had to defend the base.  At least one civilian was killed and three were wounded.  In Northern Afghanistan angry Muslims charged another NATO building and at least five protesters were wounded and three police officers were hurt.  Thousands of protesters in Indonesia held signs promising Jihad if the Korans are burnt.  In Pakistan, hundreds of angry Muslims burned American flags, called for the hanging of Terry Jones, and shouted “death to America.”  The promise of burning books has led to not only threats of Jihad but actual killings, fires, and hatred.

General David Petraeus, the leading US and NATO commander in Afghanistan said threats to burn copies of the Koran could endanger troops in Afghanistan and Americans worldwide.  General Petraeus stated that, “Images of the burning of a Qur’an would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan, and around the world, to inflame public opinion and incite violence.  I am very concerned by the potential repercussions. Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul. Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy….”

Where does free speech end and hate speech begin?


Back From Hiatus…

Well, we’re back!

 

Please look forward to some interesting topics as the days move on…