Kellie Chauvin, the wife of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, has announced that she is filing for divorce after 10 years of marriage. In her statement, she expresses sympathy for the family of George Floyd. There is no evidence that this is a tactic to shield assets from the inevitable civil lawsuit against the estate of Chauvin. However, it is a question that often comes up with clients that I dealt with on both civil and criminal cases. When faced with potential of civil liability, some clients raise the possibility of shielding their assets by transferring them or seeking a divorce. Such maneuvers often do not work for a variety of legal and practical reasons.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is facing criticism for a curious distinction that he drew in a message to protesters about how they should treat the national guard versus the police. Ellison has been in a difficult spot over the rioting following the death of George Floyd in an arrest by the Minneapolis Police Department. I thought he did well in a recent interview in resisting pressure to declare the officers clearly guilty and cautioned that everyone should allow the system to work in the bringing of any criminal charges. On this occasion, however, he seemed to throw the police, including state police and other assisting jurisdictions, under the bus.
Twitter has (correctly) declined demands from various people to delete the tweets of President Donald Trump pushing the conspiracy theory that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough murdered a young intern, Lori Klausutis. I have repeatedly denounced the use of this tragedy as reprehensible given what the family has gone through. I have received many emails from people who defend Trump’s tweets and advance this claim. I am not convinced for all of the reasons that I have stated previously. I view this conspiracy theory as analogous to the one involving with Rep. Gary Condit and the death of intern Chandra Levy. In that case, Condit actually had an affair with Levy but I was highly critical from the outset of the overwhelming presumption of guilt based on nothing but sensational and scurrilous rumor. It is not enough to say that “some people believe this might be true” to justify such tweets. Seven percent of Americans believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows, but we do not investigate the claim.
For decades, the legal community has decried common practices used by prosecutors to coerce pleas from defendants. Prosecutors often stack up charges and then drain defendants until they agree to pleading guilty. There was a time when such abuses were regularly called out in leading newspapers. These are not those times. Continue reading “Out Like Flynn: How the Media Embraced Prosecutorial Misconduct As An Article Of Faith”
For years, many of us who have long supporteded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have grown alarmed by its abandonment of core principles in the support of civil liberties in favor of support what seems a more political agenda. Under the leadership of a President Susan N. Herman and Executive Director Anthony Romero, the ACLU has dropped support for unpopular causes while aligning itself more closely with the Democratic Party’s position on issues ranging from immigration to sexual harassment. I have spent my life supporting the ACLU and speaking at its conferences. It has been very painful for many of us in the “Old guard” as these political advocates have taken over the board and organization. That has been evidenced as the ACLU moved to develop a more nuanced approach to “hate speech” after criticism following the Charlottesville protests. Free speech protection was once the touchstone of the ACLU which was fearless in its unpopular advocacy. It is now an area of open retreat for the organization as the leadership seeks to appease irate donors. Despite the right to carry being a constitutional right, the ACLU has indicated that it will not vigorously support the right to lawfully carry weapons at protests. That is no more evident than in the truly shocking filing of the ACLU to oppose due process rights for students at our colleges and universities, particularly in the imposition of a higher and more consistent evidentiary standard. While I found aspects of the brief to raise compelling points, the thrust of the brief is an attack on basic evidentiary protections that would have once been viewed as a position fundamentally at odds with the organization’s mission.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on how the media seems confused by polls that not only fail to show former Vice President Joe Biden surging but some showing Trump pulling ahead with voters. The problem is that the media has never shown any real interest in understanding Trump voters, preferring to stereotype them as racists, as done in a recent Washington Post column. The truth might be found in a famous Stanford experiment called “Bobo the Clown.”
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the contradictions revealed in recent disclosures, including the list of officials seeking to “unmask” the identity of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. There seems a virtual news blackout on these disclosures, including the fact that both former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden followed the investigation. Indeed, Biden’s name is on the unmasking list.
Here is the column: Continue reading “The Unmasking of Joe Biden”
On Friday night, President Donald Trump fired the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick in a troubling and potentially unlawful act. We previously discussed the President’s firing of then-Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson for his role in the whistleblower complaint that prompted the Ukraine probe — a move that I criticized. He also fired the inspector general overseeing pandemic relief, Glenn Fine. The firing of Linick when his office was reportedly investigating the alleged misuse of public resources by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is arguably in violation of federal law and in my view worthy of investigation by both houses. The Inspector General system plays a vital role in combatting corruption and abuse. The President’s actions against multiple inspectors general constitute one of the greatest challenges to that system since its founding.
We have been discussing litigation of strip clubs denied pandemic relief, including a recent ruling in favor of such clubs in Nevada. I have been highly critical of such denials. Now, another judge, has ruled correctly in favor of these businesses. District Judge Matthew Leitman in Flint, Michigan, issued a preliminary injunction barring the Small Business Administration from excluding businesses that present live performances or sell products of a “prurient sexual nature” from loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. Businessman Jason Mohney who owns various clubs including Little Darlings (left) brought the action. The Trump Administration is dead wrong in litigating these cases to use the pandemic funds to impose a moral judgment on certain lawful businesses.
Below is my column in The Hill on the legal foundation for an economic recovery in reopening businesses in the United States. While some often seem to assume a zero tolerance approach for any risk of spread, we have no choice but to try to get this economy out of the current disastrous conditions. Unless we want to reintroduce a barter economy, we need to stop the exponential growth of debt coupled with the perilous decline of employment. The key may be individual choice and an ancient legal doctrine.
Happy Mother’s Day to all! This holiday holds particular meaning to many of us as we all weather this pandemic by pulling our family closer and tighter. I am still in Chicago with my 92-year-old mother, Angela Piazza Turley. We will be celebrating today on Zoom with the rest of the family.
Yesterday, we discussed the astonishing tweet from Lisa Bloom that she believes that Joe Biden is a rapist and continues to lie about raping a former staffer, but she still will endorse him for President. Now Linda Hirshman in the New York Times has run an opinion piece entitled “I Believe Tara Reade. I’m Voting for Joe Biden Anyway.” It is a chilling example of how feminist writers are retaining their “women must be believed” position from Kavanaugh and simply declaring that they will support someone they believe to be a rapist. Imagine if a Republican senator said he believed Dr. Ford that Kavanaugh was clearly a rapist but we need a reliable conservative on the Court.
Over a week ago, I wrote a column calling for the Justice Department to drop its case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. I have long been a critic of the case but the new evidence undermined not just the legitimacy of the prosecution but of the Justice Department itself. The Justice Department just moved to dismiss the case, a belated but commendable decision. The Flynn case represents one of the most ignoble chapters of the Special Counsel investigation. Notably, the motion itself could lay the foundation for suing on the basis of malicious prosecution.
While Judge Emmet Sullivan could dismiss the charges on the papers (an unopposed motion), I would expect a hearing to be called. There is a great irony here. Sullivan’s last hearing on sentencing led to controversial statements from the bench and a delay in sentencing that resulted in an easier path to dismissal.
The Supreme Court today unanimously threw out the convictions of Bridget Kelly, a former aide to Christie, and Bill Baroni, a former Port Authority official, for their role in “Bridgegate.” The dispute involved the controversial closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge to create traffic problems for the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., who had refused to endorse Christie. Notably, the Court rejected the very arguments raised by some experts against Trump and relied on some of the same analysis that I raised in my testimony in the Trump impeachment against such claims. Continue reading “Supreme Court Unanimously Throws Out Bridgegate Convictions — And Rejects Prior Legal Arguments Against Trump”