- Investigation of problems with no-knock “dynamic entry” police raids [Kevin Sack, New York Times; cf. Radley Balko’s work] But her living room furniture was just sitting there! Why shouldn’t we take it? [C.J. Ciaramella on Mississippi case]
- Minnesota judge approves (which doesn’t mean Google will go along with) police demand for all search records on a certain name from any and all users in town of Edina [Mike Mullen, City Pages]
- “The L.A. County sheriff wants to release names of 300 deputies with histories of misconduct. He can’t.” [Jessica Pishko, Slate; Tim Cushing, TechDirt (list is of cops considered highly impeachable in court testimony)]
- Just catching up with this still-relevant Joshua Muravchik critique of Black Lives Matter [Commentary]
- Feds indict seven members of elite Baltimore police gun trace task force on racketeering charges; underlying predicates include robbery, swearing out false search warrants, false overtime claims (“one hour can be eight hours.”) [U.S. Department of Justice, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post]
- “New Orleans Police Chief Says He Needs to Hire and Fire Commanders at Will to Protect Reforms” [Ed Krayewski]
Yesterday the city of Baltimore signed a 227-page consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice putting the city’s police department under wide-ranging federal control for the indefinite future (earlier).
The decree (document; summary of high points) mingles some terms that rise to genuine constitutional significance with others that no court would have ordered, and yet others that appear not to be requirements of the law at all, but at most best practices. Many are virtually or entirely unenforceable (“professional and courteous” interaction with citizens). Whether or not the decree results in the less frequent violation of citizens’ rights, it is certain to result in large amounts of new spending and in the extension of the powers of lawyers working for various parties.
In November David Meyer Lindenberg of Fault Lines, the criminal justice website, wrote this opinion piece about the failure of DoJ police reform consent decrees to live up to the high claims often made for them (more: Scott Shackford, Reason). Our consent decrees tag traces the problems with these devices in a variety of public agencies such as those handling children’s and mental health services, as well as the budgetary rigidity they often impose.
Since Congress passed enabling legislation in 1994 in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, the Washington Post and Frontline reported in a 2015 investigation, “Twenty-six [police] investigations — a little more than half of them since President Obama took office — have led to the most rigorous outcome: binding agreements tracked by monitors. More than half were consent decrees, meaning they were approved and managed in federal court.” As of that point only Ohio, at 4 agreements, had had more than Maryland, at 3.
This 2008 report from the Alabama Policy Institute by Michael DeBow, Gary Palmer, and John J. Park, Jr. takes a critical view of the decrees’ use in institutional reform litigation (not specifically police), and comes with a foreword by Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the nominee to replace Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the U.S. Speaking of which, there’s something so weird about some liberals’ eagerness to hand the keys to big-city police departments over to Mr. Sessions. It’s as if they think once Main Justice is calling the shots it won’t think of using that leverage on issues like, say, sanctuary cities.
Will the departing Obama administration Department of Justice persuade the departing administration of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to lock the city into an expensive, rigid police consent decree? [George Liebmann, Baltimore Sun]
- The stalker wore a badge: AP finds mass abuse by police of non-public databases to check out romantic interests, celebrities, journalists;
- Union-backed bill: “Pennsylvania lawmakers approve ban on naming officers in shootings” [Philadelphia Daily News]
- How Chicago’s FOP shapes coverage of police shootings [Chicago Reader] Reason coverage of police unions here, here (Cleveland demand to stop open carry), here (union contracts restrict oversight), etc.
- Inside the Chicago Police Department’s secret budget of millions a year from seizures and forfeitures [Chicago Reader]
- Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith about force’s use of dragnet of social media information about citizens: “The only people that have anything to fear about anything being monitored are those that are criminals and attempting to commit criminal acts.” Yes, that’s really what Smith said [Alison Knezevich/Baltimore Sun; in sequel, social media companies rescind access to the Geofeedia service]
- “It ought to be possible to terminate cops short of criminal convictions for incidents like that involving [Freddie] Gray’s” [Ed Krayewski]
- With U.S. international adoption already down 75 percent, proposed State Department regulations could choke off much of remainder [SaveAdoptions.org, Jayme Metzgar/Federalist, National Council for Adoption]
- Baltimore police surveillance, redistricting, teacher’s union holidays: after a hiatus I’ve resumed Maryland policy roundups at Free State Notes;
- Facebook potluck group was being monitored: “Single Mother Facing Prison for Selling Homemade Mexican Dish to Undercover Cop” [Robby Soave]
- Brad Avakian, tormentor of small businesspeople under Oregon discrimination law, loses Secretary of State bid [Victoria Taft, IJR]
- Shipping & Transit LLC: “America’s Biggest Filer of Patent Suits Wants You to Know It Invented Shipping Notification” [Ruth Simon and Loretta Chao, WSJ] “Stupid Patent of the Month: Changing the Channel” [Daniel Nazer, EFF]
- Mississippi AG Jim Hood, a longtime Overlawyered fave, finds way to snipe at opposing death penalty counsel [Radley Balko]
- Police use forced catheterization to obtain urine samples from unwilling suspects. A constitutional issue? [Argus-Leader, South Dakota]
- “Why Gary Johnson Opposes Hate-Crime Laws (and You Should Too)” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
- Yes, the Baltimore aerial surveillance program should raise concerns [Matthew Feeney, Cato]
- “The Citizen as ATM: A small Missouri city has become a legal testing ground for ticketing practices and court reform” [Carla Main, City Journal]
- New Mexico, a leader on asset forfeiture reform, should now tackle mens rea reform [Paul Gessing]
- Upcoming evening panel on the Olympics and aggressive trademark/copyright policing, with Jim Harper, Julian Sanchez, and me, Kat Murti moderating [at Cato, August 24]
- “We are drowning in law.” New reform project from Philip K. Howard’s Common Good [Take-Charge.org]
- “Extremely Rare Deadly Balloon Tragedy Leads to Familiar Calls for More Regulation” [Scott Shackford, Reason]
- FTC, reversing its administrative law judge, asserts widened authority over data security practices in LabMD case [James Cooper, earlier here, etc.]
- Baltimore police matters, gerrymandering, historic preservation and more in my latest Maryland roundup at Free State Notes;
- “Shark-Attack Lawsuit Raises Interesting Questions, Like What Were You Doing in the Ocean to Begin With” [Lowering the Bar]
In suburban Baltimore County, county executive Kevin Kamenetz has introduced a bill to ban “housing voucher discrimination,” that is to say, a bill requiring landlords to take Section 8 tenants. “Kamenetz is required to introduce the bill as part of a housing discrimination settlement with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that was reached this year. … If [it] does not pass the County Council, the HUD settlement requires it to be reintroduced in future years.” Landlords and property owners say that it is unfair to force them to enroll against their will in a program with cumbersome paperwork and inspections. [Pamela Wood, Baltimore Sun] HUD is now arm-twisting jurisdictions nationwide into enacting these bad laws; earlier here (bad renter trashes unit), here, etc.
Update: County legislature votes down bill [Baltimore Campaign for Liberty]
Following a series of episodes including the death of Freddie Gray in a Baltimore police van, sentiment seemed to run high for reconsidering at least some of Maryland’s “Law Enforcement Bill of Rights” law, which erects tenure-like obstacles to firing or disciplining police over suspected misconduct. But critics say by the time a commission’s recommendations made it to legislative consideration, they had been watered down to accomplish relatively little and even give the state’s police unions more power than before [WBAL, Jim Giza/Baltimore Sun]
- Malheur standoff: here come the self-styled “citizens’ grand jury” hobbyists [Oregonian, my two cents on this branch of folk law, earlier]
- Your egg-flipping, coffee-guzzling grandma was right all along about nutrition, federal government now seems gradually to be conceding [Washington Post]
- “Obama’s State of the Union pledge to push for bipartisan redistricting reform was a late add” [L.A. Times, Politico, American Prospect, Todd Eberly on Twitter, some earlier takes here and here]
- More Charlie Hebdo retrospectives after a year [Anthony Fisher, Reason] Another bad year for blasphemers [Sarah McLaughlin, more] The magazine’s false friends [Andrew Stuttaford; hadn’t realized that departing NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos, who so curiously compared the magazine’s contents to “hate speech unprotected by the Constitution,” has lately held “the James Madison Visiting Professorship on First Amendment Issues” at the Columbia School of Journalism]
- “The Ten Most Significant Class Action Cases of 2015” [Andrew Trask]
- More from Cato on Obama’s “mishmash” of executive orders on guns [Adam Bates, Tim Lynch, Emily Ekins]
- The “worst and most counter-productive legal complaint that’s been filed in a long, long time” [Barry Rascovar, Maryland Reporter on move by ACLU of Maryland/NAACP Legal Defense Fund to challenge as racially discriminatory the decision to cancel construction of a new Baltimore subway line]