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How did Eric Holder manage to stay at the Department of Justice this long? Why wasn't he pushed out sooner?I don't think that Holder was pushed out, at all. He serves at the president's will, like any AG, once appointed, and by all accounts, President Obama was sorry to see him go. It seems clear that Holder acted as the president's proxy in some areas where Obama has felt he can't take an overt stand, especially regarding social justice and race--something one sees as recently as in Holder's trip to Ferguson, Missouri, and in the longer range in the Justice Department's unfolding focus on capital punishment and the inequalities and lack of efficacy in its application.The wording of this question contains a tacit assumption that Holder should have been pushed out sooner, or that he was pushed out at all, and I'm not sure this is accurate. Certainly it seems that he is leaving under his own steam--my sense is that Obama would prefer that he stay, perhaps partly because the confirmation battle for a new AG in a deadlocked congress is bound to be a messy one, and perhaps partly because Obama has consistently demonstrated a great deal of loyalty to his appointees.Whether Holder has "held on" as AG despite some of the failures on his watch--the position covers a lot of bureaucratic terrain and there certainly are some incidents in departments he oversees that have been unfortunate and messy--depends on how one parses the quality of his tenure. My sense is that Obama is canny enough to recognize the limits to any cabinet-level appointee's ability to control the inertial systems he or she oversees, and that Holder performed a very useful role for him, as a sort of proxy in matters of social justice.It seems clear to me that Holder is leaving for personal reasons, not being asked to go, and in that sense he has neither "held on" nor is being "pushed out." However one may judge his execution of his role., ultimately, he serves at the will of the president, and from everything I have read, Obama would have preferred that he stay in office.
Would it be a matter of justice to execute the killers of innocent people even if we are filling our hands with blood like they did?An interesting test to consider here: if it were possible to go back to the event of the crime and stop the perpetrator from doing it by killing him/her, would I do it? If yes, why should I not execute the perpetrator now that the crime has come and gone?In some cases that gets ambiguous, but in clear cut situations like the lives of innocent people I wouldn't hesitate. Man opens fire at a freedom of speech rally and at a synagogue: I'd have appreciated seeing him dead before the event, wouldn't you? An Iranian refugee in Australia, my country, given asylum for ten years, takes hostages in a siege lasting the whole day and ending in the deaths of two hard working citizens: I'd have loved it if he'd been dead before he started. Both men are dead now: good. What of those we capture alive? It's like we remove ourselves from the events, excuse the criminal of direct culpability and pretend their crimes are worth less than their life - when really, they have exacted more than the worth of their life upon others, in some cases manifold more. This is the drawback with doubt; we would prefer to let a thousand guilty people go unpunished than to see one innocent person suffer for crimes they have not committed. That is the answer to why you would not execute a convict; you cannot be completely sure of their guilt. Why lock them up, though, if you cannot be sure? Why do anything? It's no less fragile a position than execution, and it is one that questions the validity and effectiveness of the judicial system, a position that has come out of precedent and reform rather than actual conceptualization.You could look at a lot of historical examples, and apply the test I laid out initially: would you stop crime x if you had to kill the perpetrator of crime x? If you can't say you'd stop a massacre of innocent people by killing the perpetrator, what sort of person are you? I'm of the leaning that if a person is found to be guilty beyond all doubt of heinous crimes, they should be shown exactly the mercy they showed their victims: none. Would this make my hands dirty? I would like to think it cleans them.
How can I fill out Google's intern host matching form to optimize my chances of receiving a match?I was selected for a summer internship 2016.I tried to be very open while filling the preference form: I choose many products as my favorite products and I said I'm open about the team I want to join.I even was very open in the location and start date to get host matching interviews (I negotiated the start date in the interview until both me and my host were happy.) You could ask your recruiter to review your form (there are very cool and could help you a lot since they have a bigger experience).Do a search on the potential team.Before the interviews, try to find smart question that you are going to ask for the potential host (do a search on the team to find nice and deep questions to impress your host). Prepare well your resume.You are very likely not going to get algorithm/data structure questions like in the first round. It's going to be just some friendly chat if you are lucky. If your potential team is working on something like machine learning, expect that they are going to ask you questions about machine learning, courses related to machine learning you have and relevant experience (projects, internship). Of course you have to study that before the interview. Take as long time as you need if you feel rusty. It takes some time to get ready for the host matching (it's less than the technical interview) but it's worth it of course.
If Twitter wants to resist the US Department of Justice subpoena relating to Wikileaks, how strong is its legal position?Twitter has resisted - the gag order that came along with the subpoena was lifted, which I understand gives the Wikileaks account holders 10 days to fight this. We would not have heard about this unless Twitter had made a stand, so my reading is that Twitter think they have a strong position - they are certainly not taking it lying down so far.I think the issuance of the subpoena from Virginia is for a very specific reason, as I've heard there is an exemption in Californian and Virginian State law that the Department of Justice may be hoping can be applied. Any US legal experts out there to clarify?
In light of the evidence, was justice served by recalling Judge Persky for the sentence he gave Brock Turner?I’ll open with a warning: what follows isn’t short, isn’t simple, and isn’t likely to leave anyone feeling entirely satisfied.But it is important. Deeply so.Like many, my first exposure to this story was via Emily Doe’s victim impact statement — an eloquent essay that became a key plank in the scaffolding of the #MeToo movement, itself the most overdue reckoning of our time.Emily referred to her statement as a “tiny fire”. It was anything but. It raged, far and beautifully. Reading it brought back the tears I’ve shed with those I love as they wrestled with their own aftermaths. If you’d asked me in the hours after, I would have signed any petition and joined any march. I was inspired, and angry.That’s the thing about righteous anger: it burns.But once my fire had time to reduce down to the coals, I decided to learn more about the judge in question. I wanted to understand why he did it.What I found was unnerving.The Big PictureI’ve invested a lot of time into this case over the past two years. I’ve reviewed all but one of the public trial documents, most of them multiple times. I’ve waded through somewhere around 100 additional articles, transcripts, and recaps. I’ve checked, cross-checked, and re-checked. This is by far the most work I’ve put into a single piece of writing. I wanted to be clear, and sure.My conclusion?Righteous anger blinded us to some really important things.This shouldn’t be surprising. We’re hardwired for clean narratives. We love being presented with binary action options that let us make our stance towards larger issues known. We love to reduce the chaos of the world to simple propositions that let us clearly place ourselves on the right side of the things we hate.Trouble is, Judge Persky’s recall was always more complicated than a simple referendum on how we feel about sexual assault. A vote against him was never a vote for justice or a vote against rape culture. It was a vote for a story. And it so happens that there was far more to that story than most of us knew.For a distilled version of my thesis, I’m going to quote (of all things) a random Reddit user:My lawyer friend had this take on it: “Let’s be clear: Brock turner is a piece of sh*t. The justice system failed this woman. But when our jails and criminal courtrooms are still primarily filled with poor / black / brown / undocumented defendants, scaring judges out of showing leniency is not achieving justice. The Brock Turners of the world will not pay for Persky’s recall.”While I somewhat disagree that the system failed Emily (we’ll get to that), the last line really gets to the heart of it.The Brock Turners of the world will not pay for Persky’s recall.If true, this suggests a crucial question: if the recall won’t hurt Brock or those like him, who will it hurt?That’s what I want to explore in what follows.Just four quick caveats before we get into the meat of it:Brock Turner did a terrible thing. I have no interest in exonerating him. What follows is less about him and more about modern journalism, our treatment of Judge Persky, and our ideas of justice more broadly.For the purposes of cutting length, I’ve moved everything not vital to this story into a supplemental post. You’ll find an index of the topics it covers at the end.Some who read this will likely have cast a ballot in favor of Persky’s recall. Please know I have zero desire to confront anyone for their vote. My aim is to deconstruct the popular narratives behind the campaign for going-forward value only.I’m neither a lawyer nor a journalist. While I’ve done fairly extensive research into sexual abuse and its prosecution in the course of past roles, I’m not a credentialed expert there either. As such, I’ve gone to lengths to link authoritative sources as I go.That all in mind, let’s dive in.The Story of What HappenedIf you boil down the majority reporting, you get a story something like this:A rich white kid was caught red-handed raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, then was let off with a slap on the wrist because his rich white judge was once a fellow Stanford athlete.Some of the better outlets were a bit more nuanced than that. But they were few.What We KnowAt 12:19am on January 18th, 2015, Emily Doe receives a call from her boyfriend in Philadelphia. She’d just left him a voicemail that he couldn’t make sense of. When she picks up, her speech is heavily slurred. The boyfriend is concerned. He tells Emily to find her sister.Unbeknownst to him, Emily’s sister had left two minutes earlier to take a friend somewhere safe for the night. So when Emily rings her at 12:29am, the sister is still preoccupied. She asks Emily to call her back.When Emily doesn’t, the sister both calls and texts her.She gets no response.At 1:01am, the police are dispatched. Two cyclists found a young man, later identified as Brock Turner, thrusting atop an unconscious Emily. The cyclists tackle Brock and hold him until the campus police arrive five minutes later.The authorities find Emily out cold, her underwear in a ball next to her, her other clothes in various stages of undress. They find Brock with his pants on, but with Emily’s vaginal DNA on his right hand.Emily doesn’t wake up for several more hours. Even after the IV drip, she’s at no less than a .22 BAC — blackout territory. When she does wake up at 4:15am, she doesn’t remember anything from after about when her sister left.The police do tests. Emily hasn’t been drugged. But the tests do confirm something else: Emily has been assaulted. No semen, but the abrasions are consistent with aggressive digital penetration.What We Don’t KnowBetween 12:29 and 1:01, Emily Doe moved from the patio of Stanford’s Kappa Alpha house to where the cyclists found her — lying on a slope near a three-sided wooden enclosure often used to store bikes and the frat’s dumpster.No one except perhaps Brock Turner knows how Emily traveled those 116 feet, nor in what kind of a state. We do know that it was in the rough direction of his dorm, and that she had no bruises or defensive wounds consistent with a struggle. But on what pretense she and he left the porch, we have only his word. He says he invited her to his room. She doesn’t remember anything.Some time after his arrest and initial statement, Brock expands his story:They had been kissing and dancing on the porch.She agreed to leave with him.On their way to his dorm, she slipped on the pine needles on the slope.They laughed about it.He leaned in and kissed her.Rather than getting up, he proposed digitally pleasing her then and there.She consented, and rubbed his back as he proceeded.He thought she climaxed.He moved on to dry-humping.He hopped off at some point because he was feeling sick.It was only then that he noticed the cyclists.He doesn’t know when Emily lost consciousness, or her name.Brock alone knows how much of this is true. He was drunk that night, but not so much that he’s likely to have forgotten much. His BAC was around .16. Drunk enough, but still aware. And culpable.Sadly, we have no help from other witnesses. We know that Brock kissed Emily’s sister earlier and that he was generally acting in a hounding sort of way. The sisters and their friends teased him with a nickname based on how he resembled someone else they knew. But no one saw them together after Emily’s sister left, nor did anyone hear or see any kind of struggle or altercation.At minimum, Brock was caught dry-humping someone no longer conscious. As for how long she’d been in that state or what prior consent she may have given for that or other acts (or in which state she gave it), we have only his testimony.The Anatomy of White PrivilegeLet’s recall the popular framing:A rich white kid was caught red-handed raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, then was let off with a slap on the wrist because his rich white judge was once a fellow Stanford athlete.Well, about that.As it happens, the Turner family isn’t rich. Brock only got into Stanford because of a 60% swimming scholarship. His older siblings weren’t so lucky. All told, they’ve accumulated around $150k in student debt between them. The family wasn’t poor enough for aid, nor wealthy enough to afford the tuitions outright. In all likelihood, Brock’s case will leave them in or near bankruptcy.And if the narrative isn’t quite true with Brock, it’s far less true with Judge Persky. If we look into his record, we find that:He’s a decorated advocate for mental health, AIDS awareness, and civil rights, especially known for his pro bono work.He was on the board of the Support Network for Battered Women in Santa Clara, where he built a reputation as a champion for their cause.Before becoming a judge, he served for six years as a well-respected prosecutor focused specifically on sexually violent predators.As a judge, he had a thoroughly corroborated and very public history of ruling equally across ethnic lines.He was one of many Stanford-educated judges serving on a Bay Area court (though he actually got his law degree elsewhere).Prior to the Turner case, he’d never had an official complaint launched against him.Almost everyone who’d ever worked with him (prosecutor or defender) had only positive things to say about his character and judgment.The entire basis of Turner’s appeal is that Persky was prejudicial against him.Aaron Persky has a black wife and biracial kids.In other words, Turner wasn’t a privileged kid (apart from his skin, which played no role in the courtroom), and Persky had no reason to favor him.This isn’t to say that white privilege in courtrooms isn’t a thing. Nearly every study I’ve ever consulted says it is. But Aaron Persky happened to be one of the judges well-known for fighting against that particular problem.To The Left, To The LeftIt’s worth noting that Aaron Persky is almost stereotypical in his philosophical consistency. Like many Bay Area natives, he’s a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, possibly from the womb.Putting that in practical terms as it concerned his judgeship:He favored restorative over punitive justice (i.e., he worried more about improving the future than correcting the past).He had a fondness for tailored punishments (which the data suggests are more likely to produce positive outcomes).He was against prison in general, especially for first-time offenders (unless there was reason to believe that their release would lead to re-offense or some other public harm).Media distortion aside, I think part of our problem with Turner’s sentence has a lot to do with the difficulty of this philosophy. Progressive values are tough. They ask us to accept hard truths about the limits of eye-for-an-eye rulings. They ask us to take a much longer view of things. They give us precious little catharsis.As a consensus of qualified parties later acknowledged (we’ll get to them), most progressive judges would have placed a broadly similar sentence on Turner as Persky did. If we have a problem with that, it’s really with progressivism itself, not with a man who had long been an exemplary and consistent steward of the values he was appointed to uphold.The Day of JudgmentThe jury found Brock Turner guilty of three crimes:unlawful sexual penetration of an intoxicated personunlawful sexual penetration of an unconscious personassault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious personAs he often did, Judge Persky opted to follow the Santa Clara County Probation Department’s recommendation to the letter, sentencing Turner to six months in county jail, three years of probation, a year of mandatory counselling, lifetime sex-offender status, and a handful of non-trivial financial penalties.That’s s lot. But the crux of this particular case is that we have an unnatural tendency to over-focus on just one of those punishments. Our diet of Law & Order et al has tuned us to see prison sentences as the real meat. Everything else feels trivial and insufficient to answer the demands of anything we’d agree on as justice.Well, here’s the thing: prison time is not intended to be the real punishment.There’s been a growing consensus in the legal community (particularly in progressive circles) that two things are particularly punitive:The restrictions and stigma that come with a felony conviction.The restrictions and stigma that come with being a registered sex offender.Around a week before Turner’s sentencing, Judge Frederic Block of the Eastern District Court of New York dropped whatever the judicial equivalent of a hit record is. Over the course of 42 pages, he articulated a masterful summary of what progressive judges have been saying for decades: that the 50,000 or so various legal restrictions applied to felons across the US often produce something quite other than their intended civic effect.Sexual offenders have it even harder, particularly in states like Ohio (where Turner is from). He’ll have to register in the same category as pedophiles. Being honest, I find it improbable that the accompanying downsides could fail to deter anyone capable of being deterred. Even before his sentence was compounded by the public attention, it’s exceedingly difficult to imagine a scenario in which a would-be rapist could look at the totality of Brock’s punishment and consider it a slap on the wrist worth risking.It’s for this reason that progressive judges tend to eschew prison time unless especially warranted. In their calculus, most facilities are under-funded and over-crowded anyway. And while long sentences might give the illusion of justice, the evidence says they aren’t actually any better at producing rehabilitation or deterrence. As such, adding another prisoner at taxpayer expense only makes sense when the taxpaying public is receiving some extra benefit in return.Put another way, progressives judges tend to use prison as a means of protecting the public, not punishing the perpetrator. They’re just not that useful at the latter.And so, given the cost and diminishing returns of imprisonment, the relatively low risk of re-offence, and the presence of what they felt was sufficient empathy and remorse, two seasoned Santa Clara County probation officials, both of them women, decided there was no compelling public benefit in Brock Turner spending more than six months behind bars.Judge Persky, in turn, found no cause to disagree. He handed down the recommended sentence with detailed commentary as to the mechanics of his thinking. (While the infamous phrases “severe impact on him” and “I take him at his word” do appear in there, the context is other than you may think.)Though Justice Be Thy PleaNow — if a longer sentence does nothing to improve deterrence, nothing to reduce recidivism, and eats up costly public resources better spent on increasing conviction rates (which do matter), we’re left with a very important question:Who exactly is benefited by Brock Turner being in prison?This returns us to rival definitions of justice. Is it the gut pleasure of evil being overwhelmed with swift retribution? Is it the cold math of reciprocity? Is it the measured response of a society determined to salvage what they can as best as they can? Or, as some wonder, is it the victim getting what they want?Emily’s impact statement was published on June 3rd, 2016, exactly a month after her interview with the probation officer. A good chunk of it is dedicated to revisiting their discussion and how the latter party interpreted it.While we can (and should) be sympathetic to the inadequate amount of time that the two spent together, what Emily said at the time seems pretty clear.Note that last half-line. Then note what Emily says in her letter (emphasis mine):I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars.Unless we’re going to quibble about the difference between “need” and “deserve”, there’s a discrepancy there. Is it possible that the probation officer paraphrased incorrectly? If anyone made that claim, I didn’t come across it.Based on what Emily says in her impact statement, it seems more probable that three other factors played into her shift:The meeting wasn’t long enough for full nuance. The probation officer wasn’t wrong in her transcript. She just got a rushed, incomplete picture.When Emily made her statement, she wasn’t privy to what Brock would say in his. As such, what she suggested was predicated on her assumption of a certain remorse on his end.It wasn’t until she read his statement and the defense’s sentencing memo that it became clear to her that neither she nor the process had signNowed Brock in the way she’d hoped.To give a quick taste of how Turner framed it:I am the sole proprietor of what happened on the night that these people’s lives were changed forever. […] I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [her]. It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair. […] I wish I had the ability to go back in time and never pick up a drink that night, let alone interact with Emily. […] At this point in my life, I never want to have a drop of alcohol again. […] I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity. […] I made a mistake, I drank too much, and my decisions hurt someone.He’s basically saying “everything between us was consensual — I just made a mistake in not recognizing how drunk she was, mostly because I was really drunk myself”.Emily felt this fell short of full honesty and remorse. I’d tend to agree.The trouble is that to expect more was a very bad idea.Defense attorney Nicholas Wooldridge explains it neatly:[The statement that] Brock's victim read during the sentencing hearing underscored the detachment between what victims expect from the criminal justice and what the criminal justice system is designed to deliver. Her victim impact statement was an attack on the system—she wanted a trial where Brock admits his guilt—that's not what happens in an adversarial system. A trial is a contact sport with a binary outcome: guilty or not guilty. The victim expected something from the criminal justice system that it was never designed to provide outside of the movies, at least, so long as fundamental principles such as the presumption of innocence or due process are to have any meaning. The victim is very much entitled and has a right to expect some responsibility, accountability, remorse and perhaps understanding and support from her attacker (by not having put her through the trial process in the first place)—but the criminal justice system is a blunt force tool not designed to provide any of the things that she desires. And, even after conviction, many defendants choose to appeal, so to expect a confession at that point is a non-starter.We can add to that a few comments from Judge Persky at sentencing:And so you have Mr. Turner expressing remorse — which I think, subjectively, is genuine — and [Emily] not seeing that as a genuine expression of remorse because he never says, “I did this. I knew how drunk you were. I knew how out of it you were, and I did it anyway.” And that — I don’t think that bridge will, probably, ever be crossed.Mr. Armstrong [Brock’s attorney] offered an explanation for that disconnect, which is that Mr. Turner, in his state of intoxication, sees the events in a certain way. And if he were to, just for the benefit of a lighter sentence or to pacify the Court or the public, come in at a sentencing hearing or any other time and state otherwise, which I’m sure defendants do all the time, he really would be not honest. I mean, I take him at his word that, subjectively, that’s his version of events. […]Once a jury renders a verdict, everybody is bound by that verdict. Everybody must accept the verdict, including Mr. Turner. But I’m not convinced that his lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him with respect to an expression of remorse, because I do find that his remorse is genuine.Emily’s counsel should have prepared her for this. Instead, Ms. Kianerci focusing on preparing a sentencing memo of her own — one she misguidedly hoped would match her client’s letter in tone and effect. But she was so focused on destroying rape culture as a whole that she seems to have forgotten the realities of how courts actually work (and what her client really needed from her).Brock didn’t get all the way to Jesus, no. But that was almost certainly never going to happen. It just wasn’t a resonable expectation.That said, Brock did get somewhere. In the opinion of the probation department, he demonstrated that he understood that he’d hurt Emily and why and how he needed to change. For them, that was enough.We should want more from him. We’d just be unwise to pin our hopes on it. The law is frustrating like that. It almost never gives us the justice we want in our bones.But neither does any alternative we’ve ever come up with.Enter the Den MotherIf you’ve heard of this case, it’s likely because of Emily’s letter.If you have strong feelings against Judge Persky, it’s likely because of Professor Michele Dauber.The best way to understand her is to read this excellent Highline piece. It’s by far the best thing I’ve read about the case in general.But for those who already feel over-invested (you have my empathy), here’s the gist of what Professor Dauber is all about:She had two direct connections to this case: (i) her relationship to sexual assault at Stanford, (ii) her relationship to Emily.In the first case, Dauber was something of an internal crusader at Stanford. She’d pushed hard to modernize what she felt were backward and antagonistic sexual assault response policies. This introduced friction with her colleagues — but not enough to deter her from a cause she felt too just and too needful to ignore.In the second case, Emily was like a daughter to her. One of Dauber’s own daughters was roughly the same age, and the two had been “inseparable” in childhood. Emily had even joined them on at least one family vacation.(As an aside, Dauber has an impressive backstory. She rose from being a homeless teenager working on her GED to a tenured position at one of the most prestigious law schools in the world — while raising five kids in the process!)In sum, we have a tenacious advocate for women being led to apply that tenacity in the aid of a young woman she loved dearly.On the surface, there’s a lot that’s good and wholesome in this. I’m glad Stanford has her. And I’m glad Emily had someone like that in her corner.The issue is that Professor Dauber didn’t exactly stay in the corner. Despite the obvious concerns about being too close to the case, she decided she was going after Persky personally for failing to deliver the justice she felt Emily deserved.But while intimacy clouding judgment was always going to be a concern here, there was something else too. Something more concerning.In this particular war, Professor Dauber had a hard time telling the truth.A Tale of Two SidesAs Professor Dauber’s recall campaign gained steam, the legal community began sorting themselves in two camps.Except, not really.Though much of the reporting would give the impression of arrayed forces on both sides, the ratios here were, well, not very equal.I reviewed the recall campaign’s website, combed through newspaper archives, and Googled to the best of my ability. From what I could find, precious few legal professionals, active or retired, were inclined to take Dauber’s position.I managed to identify eight in total, at least six of which either had conspicuous causes of potential bias or a noticeably deficient understanding of the case. Some had both.In no particular order:Stanford Professor Mark Lemley (who admitted that Persky didn’t commit misconduct but thought he should be recalled anyway).Brandeis Professor Anita Hill (who, though I think highly of her, has her own well-known history here).California Attorney General Kamala Harris (who was stumping and admitted she wasn’t clear on the details).NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (essentially the same as Kamala).Retired U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner (who may or may not have actually supported the recall; the article they quote from is paywalled, and the excerpt itself is negative but inconclusive).Georgetown Professor William G. Otis (who wrote an New York Times op-ed which opens with the phrase “it is not disputed” and then carries on to list facts very much still in dispute).Stanford Professor David Palumbo-Liu (whose op-ed in The Guardian made a brittle argument that Persky was racially biased based on a single ill-reasoned point of comparison).Attorney Barbara Spector (who was the plaintiff’s lawyer in the De Anza case and still seems angry at Persky about it — despite his decisions being deemed uncontroversial by nearly everyone else).All considered, not exactly a weighty lot.[EDIT: I’ve taken Judge Del Pozzo off the list. The recall campaign quotes his disagreement with the Turner sentence, but fails to mention what he says minutes later in the same podcast interview: “Should he be recalled? Absolutely not.” Del Pozzo also goes on to say of Dauber’s attempt to show a pattern of favoritism in Persky’s past cases: “she fell flat on her face”. So yeah. If there’s a pattern, it’s misrepresentation on her part. See audio from 49:30.]The campaign otherwise rested on quotes from Dauber’s husband, a few politicians, a flock of random celebrities — oh, and one more retired judge.Trouble is, that last judge was LaDoris Cordell, who happens to have been the most vocal voice of the pro-Persky counter-campaign.(Best as I can tell, Dauber had some intern/assistant pull every quote that looked like it could be rhetorically favorable, context and integrity be damned.)While they were happy to quote Cordell about a different trial, they left out this more relevant gem:We did everything we could possibly do to fight the most dishonest campaign I had ever encountered. It was dishonest about who Aaron Persky was on the bench, and dishonest about his record. People were basically ill-informed about him and also about how the court system — and particularly the criminal justice system — works.She went on elsewhere to call Dauber a “bully” and “a smart, relentless, troubled human being”. So, yeah, perhaps not a star witness.As for the anti-recall team, support letters were signed by at least 91 law professors (including 29 from Stanford), the California Judges Association, the Santa Clara Bar Association, and quite a long list of Bay Area public defenders. Supportive op-eds appeared all across the US (and beyond).More narrowly, I was particularly interested in what those connected to the Santa Clara justice system thought. In reading those takes (here, here, here, and here), you’ll notice a common theme. The only person with direct knowledge of Persky that supported the recall seem to be Spector, a woman with a long-standing grievance not shared by her peers. The rest were effusive in their praise and/or defense.But the real kicker is that the recall was also opposed by the last three elected District Attorneys of the Santa Clara County court — including none other than Jeff Rosen, i.e. the DA that oversaw the prosecution of Brock Turner.All said, it seems that the recall effort wasn’t really supported by any legal professionals with signNow knowledge of Persky or the case.Which raises the question — why did it pass?History on RepeatAs the media did a decent job of making clear, recalls are extraordinary measures. There’s a reason California hadn’t passed one since 1932.To quote the California Code of Judicial Ethics:An independent judge is one who is able to rule as he or she determines appropriate, without fear of jeopardy or punishment. So long as the judge makes rulings in good faith, and in an effort to follow the law as the judge understands it, the usual safeguard against error or oversignNowing lies in the adversary system and appellate review.Put simply, there are better paths to correcting otherwise good judges when they err.Of course, the sticking point is whether or not Persky ought to be viewed as good. Professor Dauber clearly felt otherwise, pointing to what she claimed was a history of gender and racial favoritism.Well, those concerns were investigated by three bodies:The California Commission on Judicial Performance (report here).The Associated Press (findings here).Local newspaper Palo Alto Online (rundown here).Taken together, they found exactly one case where Persky did something even vaguely objectionable. And that exception concerned a somewhat obscure quirk of an interstate compact that even California’s overseer of said compact suggested was unclear to many judges.(In the interest of fairness, the recall campaign did write up a response to the CJP report. I didn’t find it very compelling. Seemed like it was written by someone with marginal court knowledge. But your mileage may vary.)Now, in the absence of any real evidence, one might wonder on what basis someone might still push for a recall?The clearest answer I can give you comes in the form of a editorial from The Mercury News (a Bay Area paper that covered the trial):The decision comes down to this: Voters need to stand up and make a statement on behalf of women and men about the seriousness of sexual assault. Persky’s sentence failed to do so to an extent that he never will again be able to serve as a respected, effective judge. He should be recalled.Bizarrely, the editors went on to concede that the recall team had cherry-picked data and that the CJP had reviewed the relevant cases and found Persky innocent of any misconduct. And yet they supported the recall anyway because…?It may not be fair to Persky, who is a decent man and an able judge. […] But opportunities such as the Turner case to alter longstanding cultural problems are rare. It’s imperative that Santa Clara County lead where Persky failed when given the opportunity.I struggle deeply with that thinking. The idea of offering up innocent sacrifices in the name of progress is Bronze Age thinking. We have a long history of that approach ushering in grotesque unintended consequences. We also have mines of data telling us that increasing social pressure on judges inevitably leads to less overall justice.Even so, the editors hand-waved those concerns away, suggesting that any damage a recall might unleash had already been summoned anyway. That they found this argument compelling was even more curious and upsetting. By their logic, their own support of the recall was pointless. Either the outcome mattered or it didn’t.Well, here’s the thing: all available evidence says that it did matter — a lot.Paying the PiperDo you know what happens when you make judges afraid of being perceived as soft on crime?To quote the Dean of Law at Berkeley:Efforts to recall judges for light sentences encourage judges to impose maximum penalties out of fear that anything else could cost them their positions. After all, no one has begun a recall when a judge imposed an outrageously high punishment, such as in the first case I argued in the Supreme Court where my client received a sentence of 50 years to life under California’s “three strikes law” for stealing $153 worth of videotapes.Judicial independence is crucial to upholding the rule of law, and history shows that it is lost when judges fear removal for their unpopular decisions. This is not a new realization.Not new indeed. As per a metastudy by the Brennan Center (NYU Law) in 2015, more public pressure on judges invariably leads to longer sentences and more death penalties. This is something we’ve understood for a while.And, as with so many things, this is worst for minorities. Every “tough on crime” push falls heaviest on their shoulders (which statistically has nothing to do with how often they commit crimes). This is cruelty for them.Perhaps most perverse of all, longer sentences can result in fewer men being held accountable for sexual assault. Female victims have a tendency to be reluctant to name and charge their assailants when the penalty is perceived as being too severe.So, the net outcome of Persky’s recall?Judge Persky, stripped of his judgeship, had to take the numbers off his house because his address was doxed online.Judges, terrified of being “Perskied”, will now rule more harshly and with less discretion.More bills like Assembly Bill 2888 will introduce new mandatory minimums (again leading to diminished judicial discretion).Fewer men like Brock Turner are going to be prosecuted.Who exactly is winning here?A Better WayMy heart breaks for victims of abuse. I know what it’s like to weep with them. I have an idea of what it takes for them to rebuild, and how difficult it can be for them to relearn how to feel safe and whole. We should have deep empathy.To quote Emily (emphasis my own):I stood [in the shower] examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided I didn’t want it anymore. I was terrified of it. I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information.Imagine that indeed.There’s a lot there to chew on, and a lot we need to fix. But doing so is going to take far more than casting a ballot. These aren’t problems we can abstract or outsource. If we want culture to change, we have to roll up our sleeves and do the messier, much harder work.As a short list of what that might entail:Demand better journalism. Most of the reporting on this case had negative value. Rewriting a trending story to get your click-share is how the press dies. Why was the Highline piece the only coverage that helped me really understand the case? And where are the deep dives into the mechanics of rape culture and how we can undo them?Demand increased budgets. Emily said she had a “fifteen minute” conversation with the probation officer, most of which was spent reviewing legal procedures. That isn’t sufficient. If we want victims to feel like justice has been served, the most important factor is making sure they feel (and are) heard.Train and volunteer as crisis counselors. Most sexual assault victims get (at most) a half-dozen sessions with a qualified therapist. They need far more support than that. Every victim should have people they can turn to for help — for as long as it takes, not as long as the system allows.Train and volunteer as youth mentors. Teaching consent is critical. Young men like Brock Turner need to be told by every adult they look up to about when to stop and why. This message can never be repeated enough. Millions of teens are still unclear on the basics.Watch over our friends. Victim-blaming is a problem. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need more dialogue about responsible partying. Anyone with a BAC 3-4x the legal limit needs to be cared for. We can’t catch and cure all the predators out there (though we must try). But we can limit the opportunities for them to act.Support and celebrate wins. The conviction rate for sexual abuse is well under 1%. When it touches those near us, we need to walk alongside them through what can be an enormously draining process. Many won’t pursue charges because they worry about their own ability to get to the other side intact. That’s far more bearable with cheerleaders and warm voices saying over and over again “we will win together”.What happened to Emily should be a spur to all of us — not towards reflexive action, but towards creating a world in which young women like her don’t have to wake up alone in a hospital room wondering what happened, if their body is still their own, and what we’re going to do on their behalf.Covered in the appendix:What else should people know about Judge Persky’s background?Didn’t Judge Persky favor student athletes in the De Anza case?What would a normal sentence be for Turner’s specific crimes?What actually increases deterrence from sexual crimes?What’s the basis of Turner’s appeal?What about that letter from Turner’s father?What other motivations may Professor Dauber have had?Does it matter that Professor Dauber was never a lawyer?What impact does being on a sexual offender list have on one’s life?How likely is it that Turner took a picture of the victim?How aware was Turner that what he was doing was criminal?Don’t Turner’s comments about drinking prove that he still doesn’t understand what he did wrong?What’s the real purpose of victim impact statements?
How extensive can a Department of Justice investigation be?That’s an awfully open-ended question.A simple fugitive apprehension once took 32 years. That was a fellow named Victor Manuel Gerena, who spent that long on the FBI’s Top Ten list,OTOH, some walk-ins are probably dealt with the same day.So it all depends.It can be very extensive, particularly something like putting together a RICO case that extends over many states. Or it can be solved at the scene, like a screwed-up bank robbery, the perpetrators of which are apprehended on the spot by local police and turned over to the US Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The investigators really have nothing to do but the paperwork.
A former top official in Barack Obama’s Justice Department has argued Donald Trump can be indicted as a sitting president, laying out a roadmap of how the controversial move could take place in a new interview. How?Well, there is no official law or court ruling that says the sitting president can’t be indicted, just a series of DOJ memos from the Watergate era. So, a grand jury could issue an indictment against Trump and let him challenge it in court. That would give us a definitive answer one way or another.It should be noted that one of the primary arguments against indicting a president is that fighting a criminal charge would take too much time away from his busy schedule of running the country. Given that Trump spends at least half his day just watching TV and tweeting, that’s going to be a hard sell.
Is it justice that all crime gets the same punishment just a matter of time like some giant 'time out'?Not really sure what you mean, but if you get a sentence of 10–20 years, in the USA, you’re going to do at least 8–1/2 years, that seems a little extreme to be called a time out, imagine your life with a gap that large, I think you would consider it a punishment, now imagine being in custody for 8–1/2 years in a US prison where the government has decided that the custodial part of custody isn’t really that important, so you’re at the mercy of a group of thugs for the entire 8–1/2 years, yeah, sounds just like sitting in the corner when you were a 5 year old