Wednesday, May 30, 2012

'Attenuating the Taint,' and other stories

Let's clear the decks of a few recent non-election related items that merit Grits readers' attention:

CCA: End justifies means on illegal traffic stops
Reported the Courthouse News Service, "Police can make illegal traffic stops if the driver or passengers have outstanding warrants, the divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled." Read Liberty and Justice for Y'all's take on this ignominious opinion, "Attenuating the Taint."

Congress may prohibit employers requiring social media passwords
Legislation has been filed in Congress to prevent employers from requiring employees to give up their social networking username and password, reports The Back Gate. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice allegedly had done just that, the website reported earlier.

Adios, Injustice Everywhere
The CATO Institute has taken over the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project after a brief hiatus following its founder's retirement, and has resumed the site's original mission publishing daily summaries of police-misconduct related news stories found online. The site, previously called "Injustice Everywhere," has migrated to a new URL, Congrats to David Packman for successfully passing off the project.

'Why We Lie'
The Wall Street Journal excerpted a forthcoming book which argues, "We tend to think that people are either honest or dishonest. ... But that is not how dishonesty works. Over the past decade or so, my colleagues and I have taken a close look at why people cheat, using a variety of experiments and looking at a panoply of unique data sets—from insurance claims to employment histories to the treatment records of doctors and dentists. What we have found, in a nutshell: Everybody has the capacity to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats—just by a little." Most people cheat right up until they think it makes them look bad, says the author. "Sadly, it is this kind of small-scale mass cheating, not the high-profile cases, that is most corrosive to society."

Stop and frisk on trial
A federal judge granted class-action certification in a civil rights lawsuit to plaintiffs alleging mass constitutional violations under New York City's famed "stop and frisk" policy. Those interested can read the judge's blistering opinion (pdf). Unless an appellate court says otherwise, the suit will put the "stop and frisk" policy itself on trial.

Could most gunfire incidents really go unreported?
Something doesn't add up here.The New York Times has a story on cities which have adopted "ShotSpotter" technology which allows them to triangulate the source of gunfire by sound. The company charges cities a yearly fee of $40-60,000 per square mile as a subscription package. Predictably, concerns have been raised about recording conversations in one incident (the system isn't supposed to). More surprising, though: the technology has "made it clear how much unreported gunfire takes place on city streets. ... In the Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco, for example, where one square mile is covered by ShotSpotter sensors, only 10 percent of the verified incidents of gunfire detected by the system were accompanied by 911 calls, Commander Ali said. In Oakland, Sergeant Bolton said, only 22 percent of the verified gunfire the system detected over a three-month period was also reported by residents." Those are eye-popping numbers: One wonders if that much "verified" gunfire truly goes unreported or if the technology is generating false positives?

Reviewing new Florida regs on confidential informants
At the Snitching Blog, Alexandra Natapoff points to a retrospective on the death of Rachel Hoffman, a Florida drug informant whose death spawned a new state statute regulating confidential informant use. (See prior Grits coverage.) Natapoff also mentioned an interesting looking law-review article about the Florida statute that "focuses on an important provision in Rachel's Law that was eliminated [during the legislative process], that would have required police to provide potential informants with counsel."


Anonymous said...

Bradley is out.

Anonymous said...

Bradley is out with the stinky douchewater.

ckikerintulia said...

RE: Attenuating the taint--no lawyer I, but my unprofessional scanning of CCA seems to allow police to simply go fishing, and if they find a warrant they have the fish and whatever pond it may be swimming in.

Re: elections--Bradley is out PTL, but Baird is not in.

Wierd opinion by CCA said...

ckikerintulia: Your concern is exactly what the dissent was concerned about, although the majority indicated that, where the police do not appear to have been simply fishing, the warrant should override their inadvertent improper stop. The real problem with that, in this case, is the fact that the trial judge determined and found that the stop apparently was pretty egregious, essentially holding that the police officer's testimony that the car's taillights were white instead of red was simply false. The dissents, even the ones without a written opinion (including Judge Keller), I assume all felt like the CCA shouldn't be making a ruling so contrary to the facts determined by the trial court.

While I personally feel that a person with a warrant should have no standing to complain when he is stopped for whatever reason--since a judge has essentially determined that no further cause is necessary to arrest that person--I have some problems with the way the court establishes this rule, but then seems to render a decision which is the opposite of what the trial court would presumably have done if they had given the court the rule up front. Maybe they'll grant rehearing, if it's been requested.

FleaStiff said...

False positives on gunfire sounds?
I'd like to see the times at which those so-called shots are being fired and the collection of garbage cans or levels of truck traffic or something.

City of Richmond reported 100 rounds being fired and no calls to 911. Either the citizens of Richmond sleep very soundly or the microphones are picking up echoes.

The Comedian said...

The so called "false positives" are probably the result of birthday or New Year celebrations, weddings, funerals, divorces, holidays, backyard target practice, warning shots to neighbors and kids on the lawn, loud TVs, gun cleaning accidents, disposing of old ammo, or encouraging someone to "dance".

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits,
to learn exactly how many times gunfire occurs within a certain location & time frame all it needs to do is; *require police officers to record the number of instances per shift and file it with the Mayor's Office, *ask residence, mailpeople, city / county workers, businesses, to contact police with time and location utilizing a certain extention and e-mail address everytime they think they hear it. Patterns and locations being easily investigated for resolution.

Sadly, even though this could save a krap load of money the numbers will always reflect; lawn mower & vehicle backfire, tire blowouts, left over blackcats, one liter plastic bottles with stuff in them that goes boom & frigin dumsters being pounded on to the ground to point of bouncing.

If the wish is to eradicate gunfire or distinguish it from other sounds, dream-on. But, by simply deploying roving patrol officers in the hood 24/7 like in the old days goes along way, plus they already get paid to do it. The problem is getting them to get out of the car and follow the smell of gunpowder to the backyard or alley. Thanks.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Regarding Injustice Everywhere - the public at large owes Mr. Packman aka: 'Packratt' big-time for his brave endeavors. Embarking on the creation of a fact finding and educational project that clearly bennifits everyone in the U.S.A. & Canada, tirelessly maintaining it & mothering it until its adoption, qualifies and makes him a true Public Hero.

Thank you for your sacrafices and that of your family, please consider visiting GFB and let Grits (and us the readers) know what you feel was accomplished and what still needs to be done to eradicate police misconduct. Of course, we wish for nothing but the best for the project's future.

Anonymous said...

It's the Lone Gunmen.

NPMSRP said...

Thanks Scott, while the handover took longer than I expected and longer than many readers would have hoped, I'm glad to see they're starting to get into a groove. Hopefully they'll continue refining their own process and make it better than Injustice Everywhere was.

All the best!