As I mentioned a couple weeks back, Cleveland Mayor Frank "Sleepy-Time" Jackson has announced a campaign to get guns off the streets of the city, acknowledging that this could result in more shootouts between the police and private citizens. So I was somewhat intrigued the other day when I ran across a 9th Circuit decision reported by the Decision of the Day blog. The case was a civil lawsuit involving a police shooting of an unarmed man, within seconds after he'd been stopped while driving a luxury sedan in a "high-drug activity" neighborhood. The legal issue revolved around the arcane question of whether there was a difference between "reasonable belief" and "probable cause," but what caught my eye was the dissent's summary of the testimony of the plaintiff's expert's testimony:
[The city used] a so-called "slumper" scenario in its training regimen, in which officers encounter a sleeping suspect in a car who, upon being awakened, immediately pulls out a hidden gun and fires at the officer. [In addition,] officers are trained on a computer simulation system in which suspects invariably attempt to kill the officer being trained. [The plaintiff's expert] ultimately concluded that the City's training program "creat[ed] a mindset for Portland officers that every citizen encountered may have a gun, and there is nothing the police officer can do to avoid being killed by a 'bad guy' unless the officer shoots first."
I'd never thought of it like that, but yes, if you do train police officers to believe that a certain situation is always dangerous, they will treat it that way, even if it isn't.
So I decided to stick Decision of the Day on my blogroll, the list of links on the right. In fact, I've revamped the blogroll a bit, adding some new ones. One of them is the Confrontation Blog, which, despite its title, is not a respository of "in-your-face" legal arguments, but instead focuses on the evolving case law since Crawford v. Washington came down. It's a handy resource if you've got that as an issue.
In fact, while checking to see what blogs I might want to add, I came to the conclusion that we're perilously close to a parallel to Andy Warhol's observation that, in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes; instead, in the future, everyone will have their own blog. There's Indefensible, by a public defender, which has this take on the top 10 legal stories of the past year. There's a blog called Boston Criminal Lawyer run by a firm in that city; Friday's post features a news story about a man recently charged with raping an unconscious woman in a men's bathroom, and then brightly announces that "our law firm would be happy to discuss your rape case with you during a free consultation." And that's for a run-of-the-mill rape. Imagine their excitement at discussing your child molestation case with them.
There's even a blog called Angry Pregnant Lawyer. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I was also going to add Above the Law, which bills itself as a legal tabloid, because they do have some interesting stories from time to time. But mostly, they feature a lot of stories on what the big firms are paying to their associates, and after reading that the going rate for someone fresh out of law school is $160,000 a year, plus a $35,000 bonus if they meet their target of 2000 billable hours, I felt like opening a vein. Our former docket runner just got hired for a summer associate's position at a big firm here in Cleveland, which means she'll get hired the following year after she graduates. So I guess she's not going to be crawling back to us for her old job anytime soon.
Maybe she'll loan me some money...
Tomorrow I'll throw a tantrum about yet another foray by the 8th District in to the Crawford thicket, in which no one emerges unscathed. See you then.