Category: Lawyering

The Chauvin Appeal: How The Comments Of The Court and The Prosecutors Could Raise Challenges Going Forward

Below is my column in The Hill on two issues that arose on the final day of the trial of Derek Chauvin that could now feature prominently in any appeal. There will likely be an array of conventional appellate issues from the elements of the murder counts to the sufficiency of the evidence. Obviously, any appeal will wait until after sentencing, which will take many weeks. However, two issues were highlighted on the final day which could play a role in the appeal even if the odds are against Chauvin. The first on the denial of a venue change and the sequestering of the jury is very difficult make work on appeal. However, there are strong arguments to be made in this case.  I believe Judge Cahill should have granted the venue change and also sequestered this jury. It is not clear if the court polled the jury on trial coverage, particularly after the inflammatory remarks of Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Cal.). However, there are credible grounds for challenging how this jury may have been influenced by the saturation of coverage of the trial as well as rioting in the area.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “The Chauvin Appeal: How The Comments Of The Court and The Prosecutors Could Raise Challenges Going Forward”

“Believe Your Eyes, Chauvin’s Knee Killed Floyd”: How The Line Between The Press and The Prosecution Disappeared In The Chauvin Trial

I previously wrote a column warning that media coverage of the George Floyd trial of Derek Chauvin was dangerously incomplete and slanted. The concern was that the public was not being informed of strong defense arguments that would be used at the trial. The danger is that any acquittal or hung jury would then come as an even greater surprise — contributing to more rioting and violence. The coverage of the final day of the trial only magnified those concerns as legal experts and journalists seemed more set on advocating than reporting on the underlying issues. Continue reading ““Believe Your Eyes, Chauvin’s Knee Killed Floyd”: How The Line Between The Press and The Prosecution Disappeared In The Chauvin Trial”

Chicago Prosecutor Suspended For Stating Adam Toledo Was Armed Before The Shooting

Chicago prosecutor, James Murphy, has been placed on leave Saturday after he noted in court hearing this month that Adam Toledo, 13, had a gun in his possession. The statement was made at the bond hearing for Ruben Roman, 21, who was with Toledo on the night that he died.  The action was taken despite the position of the Chicago police that Toledo was armed until a fraction of a second before the shooting — a view also echoed by local media after reviewing the videotape. However, various politicians like Andrew Yang have insisted that this was the shooting of “an unarmed child” by police. The error may prove be the use of the word “has” in a court statement. The question is whether this type of action was warranted for a prosecutor who was trying to keep a dangerous individual in jail.

Continue reading “Chicago Prosecutor Suspended For Stating Adam Toledo Was Armed Before The Shooting”

Psaki’s Alternative Facts: How The Georgia Election Law Became Part of Our Alternate Political Reality

For years, the media shredded Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway for a statement on Meet The Press interview on January 22, 2017, in which she defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on attendance numbers at the inauguration. Conway insisted that, while Chuck Todd was citing one set of numbers, Spicer was giving “alternative facts”. The statement produced a firestorm of ridicule that the Trump White House was constructing an alternate reality. That is not the response however to the repeated misrepresentations of the Georgia election law by President Joe Biden — false statements criticized even by the Washington Post.  Likewise, there was little response this week when Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the alternative facts presented the White House and some media outlets, even after another major newspaper called out the same false statements about the law.

Continue reading “Psaki’s Alternative Facts: How The Georgia Election Law Became Part of Our Alternate Political Reality”

Democratic Lawyer Marc Elias Under Fire For Suggesting Georgia Voters Will Be Unable To Correctly Identify Their Driver’s License Number

Georgia Department of Driver Services

We have previously discussed the controversial history of Marc Elias, including allegations that he lied about the funding of Steele Dossier by the Clinton campaign. Elias has also been criticized for challenging elections when he and other Democratic lawyers denounced Republican challenges as a threat to democracy. Now, Elias (who is heading a new group called “Democracy Docket”) is again under intense criticism after a tweet that some have called inherently racist. Continue reading “Democratic Lawyer Marc Elias Under Fire For Suggesting Georgia Voters Will Be Unable To Correctly Identify Their Driver’s License Number”

Key Witness In Chauvin Trial To Invoke The Fifth Amendment And Refuse To Testify

One of the key witnesses in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd will not be testifying. Other than the officers themselves, the person with the greatest knowledge and observation of Floyd was his friend who was in the car with him, Morries Lester Hall.  Hall, 42, has given public interviews but has declared that he will not testify in fear that he might incriminate himself. He was listed as a witness for both the prosecution and the defense.  It is rare for someone who gave interviews to news organizations like CNN to refuse to testify in trial. Usually such witnesses decline to speak in any forum to maintain their silence. Continue reading “Key Witness In Chauvin Trial To Invoke The Fifth Amendment And Refuse To Testify”

Two Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump Over Capitol Riot

recently wrote about the lawsuit by Rep. Eric Swalwell against former President Donald Trump as a serious miscalculation that could result in a legal vindication for Trump either on the trial or appellate levels. In my view, the lawsuit contravenes free speech as well as controlling case law from the Supreme Court. Now two Capitol Police officers injured during the riot, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, have sued on similar grounds with many of the same inherent flaws. The 40-page lawsuit was written by D.C. attorney Patrick Malone, who previously filed ethics complaints against lawyers representing the Trump campaign or the Republican party.  Trump lawyers many view this lawsuit as a greater opportunity than a liability for their client.

Continue reading “Two Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump Over Capitol Riot”

Michigan AG Nessel Unleashes Political Diatribe Against Defiant Restaurant Owner

We previously discussed the controversial threats of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) against those who were raising electoral fraud allegations. She is currently in another controversy involving the arrest of restaurant owner Marlena Pavlos-Hackney. Fox Host Tucker Carlson has alleged that the owner was arrested due to her appearance on his show. (For full disclosure, I am a contributor to Fox News). Nessel can certainly point to a long history of noncompliance to justify the arrest but her statement issued in response to the allegations is, in my view, highly inappropriate and shows raw political bias. Continue reading “Michigan AG Nessel Unleashes Political Diatribe Against Defiant Restaurant Owner”

The Domino Effect: How All Four Cases In The Death of George Floyd Could Collapse With A Chauvin Acquittal

Below is my column in USA Today on the approaching trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the alleged murder of George Floyd. Thus far, many in the media have failed to shoulder their own burden to discuss the countervailing evidence in the case.  Indeed, there is a real danger of a cascading failure in the case where a loss in the Chauvin case could bring down the cases against all four officers. This potential domino effect is the result of making the three other cases dependent on the base murder/manslaughter charge against Chauvin.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The Domino Effect: How All Four Cases In The Death of George Floyd Could Collapse With A Chauvin Acquittal”

Lincoln Project Scandals Highlight The Role Of Lawyers As Donors

The Lincoln Project is facing rising allegations of ignoring sexual harassment claims against co-founder John Weaver, profiteering on donations, and even violating federal law in posting private messages by another co-founder. Now, in an effort to show that it is addressing the Weaver allegations fully and openly, the Project announced that it has retained a law firm to do an independent assessment of the controversy. However, the Project selected Paul Hastings, which has leading members (including a managing partner) who supported the Project financially. The support of lawyers for the Project is particularly troubling given its campaign to harass other lawyers to get them to drop Donald Trump or the Republican party as clients in election challenges. Continue reading “Lincoln Project Scandals Highlight The Role Of Lawyers As Donors”

Mutual Destruction: How Trump’s Trial Became A Tale Of Constitutional Noir

Below is my column in the Hill on second Trump trial and how core values quickly became the extraneous to the purpose of this constitutional process.  The final chaos triggered by Rep. Jaime Raskin (D., Md) only highlighted the procedural and legal irregularities in a trial that seem increasingly detached from values like due process.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Mutual Destruction: How Trump’s Trial Became A Tale Of Constitutional Noir”

“We’ve Heard From Enough Witnesses”: Democrats Oppose Calling Witnesses While Schumer Leaves It To The House Managers

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced yesterday that he would leave the question of whether to call witnesses to the House managers to decide. In the meantime, various Democratic senators said that there is no need for witnesses despite the House repeatedly acknowledging that it does not know critical facts related to Donald Trump’s state of mind. The position of Schumer and the Democrats is in strikingly contrast to their positions in the last two impeachments. Continue reading ““We’ve Heard From Enough Witnesses”: Democrats Oppose Calling Witnesses While Schumer Leaves It To The House Managers”

The Return Of Marc Elias: The Lawyer Implicated In The Clinton Dossier Scandal Is Back In The News

It appears that Marc E. Elias is back. The Perkins Coie lawyer was the focus of stories related to the Steele dossier and the long-denial of the Clinton campaign that it actually funded investigation. Despite such false statements by the campaign before the election, the money was found to have been paid out as a legal expense through Elias as counsel for the campaign. Elias also reportedly was present when this funding was denied to the media and to Congress. The Biden campaign enlisted Elias to lead efforts in election challenges despite that history. He is now making a curious argument in New York for a Democratic lawyer: he is alleging that thousands of votes may have been switched or changed by Dominion voting machines. Continue reading “The Return Of Marc Elias: The Lawyer Implicated In The Clinton Dossier Scandal Is Back In The News”

When The Best Is Not Good Enough: Scarborough Recounts Clearly Bad Advice On Suing Trump

NBC News

I have long-criticized President Donald Trump for his tweets suggestions that MSNBC Joe Scarborough murdered a former aide when he was a Republican congressman two decades ago and suggested on Twitter that the two had an “affair.” The tweets are cruel for the family of Lori Klausutis but make scurrilous unproven allegations against Scarborough. Scarborough is saying that he may now sue Trump for defamation. The problem remains that Scarborough is a public figure and, as such, is subject to a high burden for defamation.  What is most striking however is what Scarborough said his lawyers told him about suing earlier.  The “best lawyer in New York” and the “best lawyer in New York” told him that he could not sue a sitting president. That is clearly untrue.

Continue reading “When The Best Is Not Good Enough: Scarborough Recounts Clearly Bad Advice On Suing Trump”

Ron Paul Posts Criticism of Censorship on Social Media Shortly Before Facebook Blocks Him

We have been discussing the chilling crackdown on free speech that has been building for years in the United States. This effort has accelerated in the aftermath of the Capitol riot including the shutdown sites like Parler.  Now former Texas congressman Ron Paul, 85, has been blocked from using his Facebook page for unspecified violations of “community standards.” Paul’s last posting was linked to an article on the “shocking” increase of censorship on social media. Facebook then proceeded to block him under the same undefined “community standards” policy.

Continue reading “Ron Paul Posts Criticism of Censorship on Social Media Shortly Before Facebook Blocks Him”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks