The decision of the board to uphold the decision to ban Trump but reconsider his lifetime ban may seem transparently convenient for many. However, there is precedent. One of my favorite trial accounts is from Ireland where an Irishman was accused by an Englishman of stealing a pair of boots. The guilt of the defendant was absolutely clear but the Irish jury could not get itself to rule for the Englishman. Instead, it acquitted the Irishman but added a line, “We do believe O’Brien should give the Englishman back his boots.” Case closed. Continue reading “Facebook Upholds Trump Ban But Admits Permanent Ban Lacked Any Objective Standard”
The conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was undermined this week after the previously anonymous Juror #52 went public with interviews to discuss his experience on the jury and support the movement to curtail police abuse. The problem was not the public disclosure of his identity (which jurors can elect to do) but what his self-identification triggered on the Internet. A picture soon emerged showing Brandon Mitchell wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt with a reference to the death of George Floyd. The image was raised as contradicting his answers in voir dire and raising an appellate question as to juror bias that could be used to challenge the conviction. Continue reading “Juror 52: Does Chauvin Have A New Challenge Over Juror Brandon Mitchell?”
In 1964, Stanley Kubrick released a dark comedy classic titled “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” The title captured the absurdity of getting people to embrace the concept of weapons of mass destruction. The movie came to mind recently with the public campaign of Facebook calling for people to change her attitudes about the Internet and rethink issues like “content modification” – the new Orwellian term for censorship. Continue reading “Evolving With Big Tech: Facebook’s New Campaign Should Have Free Speech Advocates Nervous”
We have been writing about the assault on foundational concepts of neutrality in journalism in academia. This includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. Now the University of North Carolina has awarded the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism to New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. While Hannah-Jones was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her writing on The 1619 Project, she has been criticized (including on this blog) for her role in purging dissenting views from the New York Times pages and embracing absurd anti-police conspiracy theories.
The conservative site College Fix has an account from a Cornell student that caught my eye today in light of the lawsuit yesterday against Twitter by Project Veritas for violating ill-defined “privacy rule.” Joseph Silverstein says that he was suspended after showing a widely available picture of Hunter Biden in his underwear — one of the pictures taken from his laptop. Twitter insists that the picture violates privacy rules despite being taken from an allegedly abandoned laptop, widely discussed in the public domain, and concerning a matter of public debate. It is also another example of Twitter’s strikingly conflicted censorship policies where images of Rudy Giuliani allegedly groping himself are permissible but a media confrontation in front of a home with a Facebook executive or a picture connected to the Biden laptop are not. Continue reading “Twitter Suspends Cornell Student For Showing Embarrassing Picture Of Hunter Biden”
Project Veritas has followed through with the pledge of its founder James O’Keefe to sue CNN over coverage of the ban imposed by Twitter (The group also sued Twitter in a separate lawsuit). There has been an explosion of such defamation lawsuits including a suit by Dominion against Fox News (For full disclosure, I am a Fox contributor). The lawsuits raise interesting but challenging grounds for media lawsuits.
Below is my column in the Hill on the spate of recent police shootings and the resulting calls for reforms and criminal charges. Two new incidents have occurred in the last week and both raise serious questions that must be answered on the use of lethal force. In North Carolina, Andrew Brown Jr., 42, was shot and killed during execution of an arrest warrant. He was reportedly shot in the back while trying to flee but no gun was found. In Virginia, Isaiah Brown, 32, was shot more than six times by a deputy who appears to have thought that a cellphone was a gun. The officers had previously given Brown a ride home and they were later called back to the home due to a disagreement. The tape shows Brown saying that he was going to kill his brother with a gun, but Brown told the 911 operator that he did not have a gun. These and the prior cases capture the dangerously uncertain and chaotic context of such cases. Both Brown cases raise serious questions that need to be answered on the use of lethal force.
Here is the column:
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that President Joe Biden has thus far failed in unifying the nation. His approval level stands at just 52 percent, one of the lowest polling results for a president since 1945. An NBC poll shows 80 percent of Americans view the country as still deeply divided. The result reflects not just our hardened politics but also the decision of Biden to move forward with a hard-left agenda as well as legislation that is muscled through on a handful of votes. There has been little evidence of an effort to reach consensus or compromise. Nevertheless, the poll is surprising. After all, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is polling at 56 percent and would still win reelection despite allegations that he engaged in rampant sexual harassment, bungled the pandemic, and hid embarrassing data on deaths from Covid-19.
Public trust in the media has hit an all-time-low in polling and the reason was evident this week with controversies over partisan and erroneous pieces published by the Washington Post and HuffPost targeting Senators Ted Cruz (R., Tx.) and Tim Scott (R., S.C.). The HuffPost was compelled to take down a tweet falsely accusing Cruz of lying while the Washington Post ran a hit piece on Scott that claimed (but failed) to show false elements to his “cotton to Congress” life story. Continue reading “Hits and Misses: HuffPost and Washington Post Criticized Over Pieces Attacking GOP Senators”
Sgt. William Kelly, the second highest-ranking official in the Norfolk Police Department’s internal affairs division, has been fired for making an anonymous donation to the defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse. The donation (revealed after a security breach of the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo was accompanied by a note saying that Rittenhouse did “nothing wrong.” Despite the obvious attack on free speech and associational rights, there has been little concern raised in the media or by legal experts. Two days ago, a reporter in Utah went to the home of a paramedic to confront him on why he made a $10 donation of Rittenhouse, who is accused of killing two people during violent protests last summer in Wisconsin.
The shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, in Columbus, Ohio has sparked protests despite the police releasing a videotape that appeared to show Bryant moving to stab another girl. The incident has strikingly similar legal issues to the shooting of Adam Toledo in Chicago. The parents of Bryant insist that she dropped the knife just before being shot, the same situation raised in the Toledo shooting. The videotape does appear to satisfy the standard for the use of lethal force under Tennessee v. Garner and other case law. Continue reading “Columbus Shooting Sparks Protests Despite Videotape Showing Knife Attack”
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:
The fallout over the comments of Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Cal.) continued as Democrats were asked to condemn her call for protesters to stay in the streets and get more confrontational. I recently wrote a column on how Waters had become the best possible witness for Donald Trump in her own lawsuit against him. Waters was denounced by Judge Peter Cahill for undermining not just any conviction in the trial of Derek Chauvin but the court itself in seeking to carry out its constitutional function. It would seem a simple matter for responsible people to condemn Waters’ inflammatory remarks but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Cal.) defended her and refused to criticize the comments. Earlier this year, Pelosi condemned Trump for criminal incitement and pushed through his impeachment for using similar words on Jan. 6th. Waters was also defended on CNN where media figures supported her call for protesters to stay in the streets and get “more confrontational.” Continue reading “Pelosi Refuses To Criticize Waters Despite Court Denouncing Her Remarks For Undermining 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”