Friday, October 24, 2014

Iraq's WMD: The Shameless New York Times Moves the Goalposts - Larry Elder - Page full

Iraq's WMD: The Shameless New York Times Moves the Goalposts - Larry Elder - Page full


Contrary to the expectations of all 16 of our U.S. intelligence agencies, the "weapons hunters" sent to Iraq by President George W. Bush found no "stockpiles" of WMD.
Never mind that there was a 15-month run-up to the war, during which time Saddam was not combing his moustache. A former Iraqi general, Georges Sada, who met with members of Congress, has long claimed Saddam Hussein moved tons of WMD by land and air into Syria during the run-up to the 2003 invasion. James Clapper, the current Director of National Intelligence, has also said publicly that he, too, believes the WMD were there. But Bush's two weapons hunters found no stockpiles.
President George W. Bush looked like a fool.
Bush-hating critics chanted, "Bush lied, people died." About the prewar intelligence, Sen. Ted Kennedy said, "Before the war, week after week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie after lie." Critics said the lives of over 4,000 troops were wasted, in addition to the money supposedly squandered prosecuting the Iraq War.
Now comes the 10,000-word, eight-part story in The New York Times. The front-page story, called "The Secret Casualties Of Iraq's Abandoned Chemical Weapons," says WMD were in Iraq: "In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act."
Moreover, the soldiers were told to keep quiet about the WMD:
"Troops and officers were instructed to be silent or give deceptive accounts of what they had found. ?'Nothing of significance' is what I was ordered to say,' said Jarrod Lampier, a recently retired Army major who was present for the largest chemical weapons discovery of the war: more than 2,400 nerve-agent rockets unearthed in 2006 at a former Republican Guard compound.
"Jarrod L. Taylor, a former Army sergeant on hand for the destruction of mustard shells that burned two soldiers in his infantry company, joked of 'wounds that never happened' from 'that stuff that didn't exist.' The public, he said, was misled for a decade. 'I love it when I hear, 'Oh there weren't any chemical weapons in Iraq,' he said. 'There were plenty.'"
This is not new news to those who get news from publications other than the Times. Following a 2010 WikiLeaks leak, Wired magazine wrote: "By late 2003, even the Bush White House's staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction. But WikiLeaks' newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction (emphasis added). ... Chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam's toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict -- and may have brewed up their own deadly agents."
But, rest assured, the Times emphatically insists, the discovered WMD "did not support the government's invasion rationale." It doesn't? Well, you see, according to the Times, Bush still misled Americans because the discovered WMD were "old" and "degraded," not part of an "active" weapons program. "Active?"
But only days before the bombshell Times piece, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow restated why she felt Bush "lied." Not once during her three-minute send-up about Bush "lies" and "wrong" intel, did Maddow ever use the word "active," let alone the term "active weapons program":
"There still exists -- on the right -- a sort of dead-ender fringe who believe thatactually Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction. He must have. George Bush couldn't have been wrong about that. I say it's a dead-ender fringe because even ... George W. Bush had to admit he was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. Iraq did not have them. ...
"We are four weeks out from the elections this year. It is 10 years today since our own government officially admitted the whole WMDs thing about Iraq was a lie. It's not like an accusation that it was a lie. It's a lie. We've admitted it was a lie."
Maddow then handed the floor to colleague Lawrence O'Donnell, who promptly piled on. But again O'Donnell, like Maddow, said nothing about "active": "Rachel, I wish this wasn't true, but I do have a prediction for you -- and that is that you have not done your last segment about a Republican who believes that there were (starts laughing) weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
Now we know. WMD were, in fact, in Iraq.
The New York Times, Democrats and the doofi at MSNBC should apologize to President George W. Bush, an honorable man who attempted to do the right thing, only to be savaged by his critics. Fox's Charles Krauthammer has a term for this inability to acknowledge a scintilla of decency in our 43rd president -- "Bush Derangement Syndrome."

How Sexy is Affirmative Consent?

Source: Advice Goddess Blog

How Sexy Is "Affirmative Consent"?
Conor Friedersdorf, at The Atlantic, blogged an email from a guy who "began college determined to ask women for explicit verbal consent during sexual encounters, but abandoned that approach over time." The guy writes:
I was raised by a left-leaning, feminist family who (at least I thought at the time) were relatively open about sex. But while I arrived at college with a healthy respect for women, I was totally unprepared for the complex realities of female sexuality.
"Oh," sighed one platonic female friend after we had just watched Harrison Ford grab Alison Doody and kiss her is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "Why don't guys do that kind of thing anymore? Now days they are all too scared."
On our second night together, one of my first partners threw up her hands in disgust. "How am I supposed to get turned on when you keep asking for permission for everything like a little boy?" She said. "Just take me and fuck me already."
She didn't stay with me for long.
This would be a recurring theme. More than once I saw disappointment in the eyes of women when I didn't fulfill the leadership role they wanted me to perform in the bedroom. I realized that women don't just desire men, they desire men's desire―and often they don't want to have to ask for it. I also realized that I was in many ways ashamed of my own sexual desire as a man, and that this was not healthy.
...One night I ended up back in a girl's room after a first date (those do happen in college). She had invited me in and was clearly attracted to me. We were kissing on her bed, outer layers of clothing removed, but when my hands wandered downward she said, "No, wait." I waited. She began kissing me again, passionately, so again I moved to remove her underwear. "Stop," she said, "this is too fast." I stopped.
"That's fine," I said. I kissed her again and left soon after, looking forward to seeing her again.
But my text messages received only cold, vaguely angry replies, and then silence. I was rather confused. Only many weeks later did I find out the truth from one of her close friends: "She really wanted you, but you didn't make it happen. She was pretty upset that you didn't really want her."
"Why didn't she just say so then, why did she say we were moving too fast?"
"Of course she said that, you dumbass. She didn't want you to think she was a slut."
Talk about confusing. Apparently in this case even no didn't mean no. It wasn't the last time I've come across "token resistance" that is intended to be overcome either. But that's a line that I am still uncomfortable with testing, for obvious reasons.
But I have learned not to ask when it clearly isn't necessary, or desired.
There's a name for a guy like this -- at least on college campuses: "rapist."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Will Voting Litigation Affect the Upcoming Elections? | National Review Online

How Will Voting Litigation Affect the Upcoming Elections? | National Review Online

In Texas, to no one’s surprise, Obama appointee Nelva Gonzalez Ramos of the federal district court in Corpus Christi issued an injunction against the state’s voter-ID law despite the fact that it was successfully implemented in state elections in 2013 with none of the problems predicted by its opponents. As opposed to suppressing anyone’s vote, 2013 voter turnout actually went up compared to 2011 levels. This held true throughout the state, including its heavily minority counties.

Ramos made the remarkably illogical claim that, although Texas offers a free ID to anyone who doesn’t have one, the ID requirement still amounts to a prohibited poll tax. Her decision is an outlier. Federal district courts in other states including in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee have all concluded that an ID requirement is neither discriminatory nor a poll tax.

Fortunately, on October 14, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the Ramos injunction “based primarily on the extremely fast-approaching election date.” In other words, with Ramos issuing her opinion only nine days before early voting started and just 24 days before Election Day, the injunction “substantially disturbs” the election process. As Judge Edith Brown Clement said, the “Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed courts to carefully consider the importance of preserving the status quo on the eve of an election.” Otherwise, court orders affecting elections “especially conflicting orders, can themselves result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls. As an election draws closer, that risk will increase.”

The NAACP filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court to overturn the Fifth Circuit and restore the injunction. But on Saturday, October 18, the Supreme Court rejected the petition and refused to overrule the Fifth Circuit. Curiously, Justice Breyer did not join the dissent filed by Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor. So Texas’s voter-ID requirement will remain in place for this year’s election.

Finally, on October 16 the Arkansas state supreme court threw out that state’s voter-ID law, concluding that it violated the state constitution. The court held that voter ID is an additional “qualification” on voters that can only be implemented if the requirement is placed in the state constitution. Other state supreme courts have concluded that voter ID is just a way of verifying that a state resident meets the eligibility requirement to be a qualified voter — it is not a new qualification. Since this is a state constitutional issue, there is no basis for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, the law will not be in effect in Arkansas in the election, but the state legislature may be able to implement a voter-ID requirement if the Arkansas constitution is amended.

South-Western: Increase in the Minimum Wage

South-Western: Increase in the Minimum Wage

Issues and Background
The minimum wage does not prevent everyone from getting any job. But the minimum wage does make it more difficult for those who already have a hard time getting a job - the least skilled - to begin or continue a career. Passing a law that forces people to earn a minimum amount in order to work seems a cruel policy in an already cruel world? 
~Donald R. Deere
Our findings suggest that the efficiency aspects of a modest rise in the minimum wage are overstated.... [W]e find no evidence for a large negative employment effect of higher minimum wages. Even in the earlier literature, however, the magnitude of the predicted employment losses from a much higher minimum wage would be small: the evidence at hand is relevant only for a moderate range of minimum wages, such as those that prevailed in the U.S. labor market during the past few decades. Within this range, however, there is little reason to believe that increases in the minimum wage will generate large employment losses.
~David Card and Alan B. Krueger, Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995, p. 393).

Minimum wage laws in the U.S. were first introduced during the 1930s in response to the Great Depression. This period was characterized by falling output, falling prices, and falling employment. The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933 attempted to stop this downward spiral by encouraging the formation of trade association agreements that established price floors and minimum wages. This was the first national attempt to introduce minimum wages in major industries. Those firms that participated in the trade association agreements were able to display a "blue eagle" logo in their establishments. In 1935, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the NIRA was unconstitutional, and these initial minimum wage agreements were terminated.
In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established a national minimum wage of $0.25 an hour. (This act also established restrictions on child labor and required that overtime pay be provided for hours of work in excess of 40 hours per week.) This Act initially only applied to a relatively small share of the labor force, but has been revised over time so that it now applies to approximately 90% of all nonsupervisory workers.
Introductory economics textbooks usually first introduce the minimum wage as an application of demand and supply analysis. This initial discussion is usually based on the following assumptions:
  • the labor market is perfectly competitive, 
  • the minimum wage covers all workers, and 
  • worker productivity is unaffected by the wage rate.
Under these assumptions, the effect of the minimum wage is quite straightforward: the introduction of a minimum wage results in unemployment in those labor markets in which the equilibrium wage rate is below the minimum wage. This is illustrated in the diagram below:
In the labor market illustrated above, the equilibrium wage would be w* and the equilibrium level of employment would be L* in the absence of a minimum wage. When a minimum wage of wmin is introduced, however, the level of employment falls to LD. Notice that the quantity of labor demanded exceeds the quantity of labor supplied at this minimum wage. A total of LS - LD unemployed workers will be created by the introduction of this minimum wage.
While minimum wage increases generally receive substantial public support, economists have generally relied on the above analysis to argue that such legislation will result in an increase in the unemployment rate in low-wage labor markets. In recent years, however, a series of studies by David Card, Alan B. Krueger, Lawrence F. Katz, and others have suggested that small to moderate increases in the minimum wage will have no adverse effects on unemployment (and may even lead to reduced unemployment). There are a number of theoretical models that can explain such results. Among these are:
  • monopsony models, and
  • efficiency wage models.
In a monopsony labor market, there is a single employer of workers. This employer faces an upward sloping labor supply curve. Because the cost of hiring an extra worker (the marginal factor cost) exceeds the wage rate, a monopsony firm will hire fewer workers than would be hired in a perfectly competitive labor market. This is illustrated in the diagram below.
As the diagram above indicates, a profit-maximizing monopsonist will hire an optimal quantity of labor at the point at which the firm's marginal revenue product (MRP = the additional revenue associated with the use of an additional unit of labor) equals the firm's marginal factor cost (MFC = the additional cost associated with the use of an additional unit of labor). In this case, the optimal level of employment occurs at Lm. When this firm hires Lm workers, the labor supply curve indicates that it must pay a wage equal to wm.
If a minimum wage is introduced into this labor market, the labor supply curve effectively becomes horizontal at this wage up to the point at which the minimum wage intersects the supply curve. This is illustrated in the diagram below. The thicker red line represents the labor supply curve in the presence of a minimum wage equal to wmin. Because the wage is constant in this portion of the labor supply curve, the marginal factor cost is constant and equal to the minimum wage in this range. Once the labor supply curve starts rising again, the marginal factor cost once again is above the wage (in the diagram below, this occurs once the level of employment exceeds Lmin).
If a minimum wage equal to wmin is introduced into this market, the optimal level of employment for the monopsony firm will occur at Lmin (since MRP = MFC at this point). Thus, it is possible that the introduction of a minimum wage will result in both higher wages and a higher level of employment. If the minimum wage is set anywhere between wm and w', employment will increase in a monopsony labor market. A minimum wage equal to w' will result in the same level of employment as in the monopsony outcome (although with a higher wage). Employment will fall if the minimum wage is set above w' in this labor market.
The efficiency wage model suggests that firms that pay workers a wage above the equilibrium wage will find that the higher pay results in more productive workers. The higher pay results in less labor force turnover, lower training costs, and better motivated workers. If the increase in labor productivity is sufficiently large, an increase in the minimum wage need not reduce employment.
Much of the controversy surrounds a study conducted by David Card and Alan Krueger. In this study, Card and Krueger conducted a phone survey of 410 fast-food restaurants on both sides of the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey prior to and after an increase in the state minimum wage in New Jersey. They found that employment increased by more in New Jersey in response to the higher minimum wage in this state.
Because of concerns about the Card and Krueger data, the Employment Policies Institute examined payroll records for 71 fast-food restaurants and found significant discrepancies between the Card and Krueger data and payroll records for these firms. They found significantly different results when their revised data was used for estimation purposes. Critics of the EPI study argue that the selection process used to generate the Employment Policies Institute sample appears not to be random (all Pennsylvania observations are Burger King restaurants owned by a single franchise owner).
Those who believe that increases in the minimum wage will not adversely affect employment argue that, even if there are some problems with the data used by Card and Krueger in their study of fast-food restaurants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, there is a growing empirical literature that provides quite similar results. Card and Krueger present an extensive collection of such studies in Myth and Measurement (1995).
An issue related to that of a minimum wage is a growing movement for a "living wage." Living wage proposals suggest that the existing minimum wage is too low to allow families to exceed the poverty level. Advocates of this view support "living wage ordinances" that require the local government to only accept contracts from firms (or, in some cities, provide assistance to firms) that pay their workers a wage that is high enough to place the worker above the poverty line. Baltimore was the first city to adopt such an ordinance in 1994. Under Baltimore's "living wage" requirement, firms must pay a worker an hourly wage that will allow a full-time worker to receive an annual income greater than or equal to the poverty level for a family of three.
One of the reasons why the minimum wage is so often the focus of political debate is that it is set at a specific nominal value and is not indexed to inflation. Thus, as inflation occurs, the real value of the minimum wage declines until Congress decides to pass new legislation. (The highest real value of the minimum wage was reached in 1968.) Because of this, it is likely that the debate over the effects of the minimum wage will continue to remain a significant source of political and economic debate.

There follow a number of links to data and opinions.

Embarrassing Economists - Walter E. Williams - Page full

Embarrassing Economists - Walter E. Williams - Page full

It turns out that there's a law in economics known as the first fundamental law of demand, to which there are no known real-world exceptions. The law states that the higher the price of something the less people will take of it and vice versa. Another way of stating this very simple law is: There exists a price whereby people can be induced to take more of something, and there exists a price whereby people will take less of something.
Some people suggest that if the price of something is raised, buyers will take more or the same amount. That's silly because there'd be no limit to the price that sellers would charge. For example, if a grocer knew he would sell more -- or the same amount of -- milk at $8 a gallon than at $4 a gallon, why in the world would he sell it at $4? Then the question becomes: Why would he sell it at $8 if people would buy the same amount at a higher price?
There are economists, most notably Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who suggest that the law of demand applies to everything except labor prices (wages) of low-skilled workers. Krugman says that paying fast-food workers $15 an hour wouldn't cause big companies such as McDonald's to cut jobs. In other words, Krugman argues that raising the minimum wage doesn't change employer behavior.
....
Krugman says that most minimum-wage workers are employed in what he calls non-tradable industries -- industries that can't move to China. He says that there are few mechanization opportunities where minimum-wage workers are employed -- for example, fast-food restaurants, hotels, etc. That being the case, he contends, seeing as there aren't good substitutes for minimum-wage workers, they won't suffer unemployment from increases in the minimum wage. In other words, the law of demand doesn't apply to them.
Let's look at some of the history of some of Krugman's non-tradable industries. During the 1940s and '50s, there were very few self-serve gasoline stations. There were also theater ushers to show patrons to their seats. In 1900, 41 percent of the U.S. labor force was employed in agriculture. Now most gas stations are self-serve. Theater ushers disappeared. And only 2 percent of today's labor force works in agricultural jobs. There are many other examples of buyers of labor services seeking and ultimately finding substitutes when labor prices rise. It's economic malpractice for economists to suggest that they don't.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Employees Are Not Your Customers - Bloomberg View

Employees Are Not Your Customers - Bloomberg View



If Minimum Wage Is So Great, Why Cite Bogus Study? - Larry Elder

If Minimum Wage Is So Great, Why Cite Bogus Study? - Larry Elder

The head of a Los Angeles-based nonprofit "sustainable economy" association calls for a higher minimum wage. No surprise there. But he cites a major pro-minimum wage study that responsible academics long ago abandoned.
Daniel Flaming of the Economic Roundtable, in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed, said: "The conclusion that wage fairness is not a zero-sum game was established by a landmark study comparing neighboring counties in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, after New Jersey increased the minimum wage but Pennsylvania did not. It found that after the wage hike, employment in the fast-food industry increased more in New Jersey counties than in neighboring Pennsylvania counties."
Well, actually, no. This now infamous study by David Card and Alan Krueger did not prove such an outlandish thing. Here's what happened.
New Jersey raised its minimum wage. Pennsylvania did not. What will happen to the fast-food industry in these adjacent states? Good test case, right? If New Jersey fast-food workers suffered, it proves what most economists believe -- that minimum wage harms workers, particularly unskilled men, women and minorities, the kind of folks the left claims they care about. If, on the other hand, New Jersey's new wage law had no effect -- or even helped -- so much for the "artificially increase the cost of labor and you decrease the demand for it" argument.
Surprisingly, researchers discovered that New Jersey fast-food restaurants saw an (SET ITAL) increase (END ITAL) in employment relative to Pennsylvania. The study flew around the liberal world faster than a Sarah Palin joke. President Bill Clinton cited it. But a funny thing happened when the study was peer reviewed.
Researchers seeking to replicate the results obtained actual payroll records -- rather than simply phoning and asking hiring personnel whether they hired people during the period studied. Turns out, payroll records did not corroborate the verbal assertions made by employers. New Jersey actually suffered a (SET ITAL) decline (END ITAL) in employment relative to Pennsylvania -- just as traditional economic theory would have anticipated.
So why is this bogus study still cited? I put that question to Ohio University economist Lowell Gallaway, who has written critically about the study. Gallaway said: "The Card-Krueger study is still cited because it is useful politically. ... It still has legs because the minimum-wage notion is an idea that just will not die. You cannot put it to rest by any amount of evidence demonstrating its problems. Whenever people want to believe something strongly enough, any study that supports that belief -- no matter how bad it is -- will be accepted."
Vice President Joe Biden recently met with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to support the mayor's plan to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $13.25 an hour. Days before that, the L.A. City Council approved another Garcetti plan to increase minimum wage for workers in large hotels to $15.37 per hour. Now back in 2008, the L.A. City Council passed a "living wage ordinance" for hotel workers in the L.A. airport area.
As with the minimum wage study of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, this, too, presented us with a real-world test case. What happened?
Beacon Economics, chosen by both management and labor to give an objective, nonpartisan report on the effect of a $15.37 hourly minimum wage, concluded that the effect of this 2008 wage hike was devastating. Beacon's founding partner, economist Christopher Thornberg, said: "The data clearly show that hotels around the airport have seen a sharp decline in employment relative to hotels in Los Angeles County overall. Some 12 percent more people are employed at hotels in the county than in 2007. ... But in the airport hotels covered by the law, hotel employment has declined 10 percent."
Even the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, a supporter of the minimum wage, warned of the negative impact if surrounding cities failed to follow suit: "It's important that Los Angeles not go it alone. ... This is important to keep the city from becoming an island of high wages and to keep businesses from fleeing to cheaper locations outside L.A.'s borders." In other words, if Los Angeles acts stupidly, we hope and expect everybody else to do so as well.
More? How about the respected and widely cited leftwing think tank, the Brookings Institution? Brookings economist Gary Burtless, who specializes in labor, also says a $15-an-hour wage goes too far. While supportive of Obama's call for a $10.10 minimum wage, Burtless objected to Seattle's newly enacted $15 minimum wage: "Consider a business that mainly sells low-cost, fast-food meals. If it must pay $15 an hour to its low-wage employees, while its competitors less than a mile away are only required to pay $10 an hour, the companies outside Seattle can charge lower prices to their customers for shakes, burgers and fries, and yet still make a profit." Well, duh.
Why the madness despite its clear job-killing stupidity? L.A. City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, a Democrat who represents the Hollywood area, said he understood the anti-minimum-wage Beacon report. But, said O'Farrell, "At the end of the day, between the intellect and the heart, the heart wins out."
Now go find a job.

Mother Jones Claims the Rate of Mass Shootings Has Tripled Since 2011. Is That True? - Hit & Run : Reason.com

Mother Jones Claims the Rate of Mass Shootings Has Tripled Since 2011. Is That True? - Hit & Run : Reason.com
The best critique I've seen of the original Mother Jones article was written by Michael Siegel. You should read the whole thing, but this is the key passage:
It is a truism of science that the more narrowly you define your sample and the more you shrink the number of data points, the less reliable your conclusions will be. If you were to analyze all gun shootings and violence over the last thirty years, you'd have hundreds of thousands of data points to base your conclusions on. You could, as I like to say, achieve Victory Through Sheer Data Volume. But when you start parsing the data down further and further, you become more prone to random variation and even bias.

Even if we take Mother Jones' data at face value, we can see we're dealing with less than 120 victims every year and frequently less than 20. That's an awfully small number to be drawing conclusions from. To illustrate why, take the Virginia Tech killings. 56 people were killed or wounded. That is more than all but five entire years in their database. Something like that is simply going to swamp the statistics.

But we shouldn't even take Mother Jones' data at face value because it is highly suspect. First, it seems to be based on media coverage, which is not exactly an objective source and almost certainly leaves shootings out....Everywhere, they make arbitrary cuts to exclude murders that may not fit their conclusions. They limit the sample to lone shooters, but make exceptions for Columbine and Westside. They exclude gang activity and other crimes but include the Fort Hood Shootings, which were an act of terrorism....They arbitrarily throw in a few spree killings.

This is simply not a representative sample. It's cherry-picked to fit a definition, but leaves huge gaping biases all over the place. Mother Jones doesn't even acknowledge this.

All this would be fine if you wanted to create an illustrative or representative sample. This is even fine if you want to draw some broad and overwhelming conclusions such as that most spree killers get their guns legally. But the low numbers and the biases blow up in your face when you try to do a more rigorous analysis....They've narrowed the sample so far down that they are essentially looking at noise.
The new analysis looks at the intervals between each incident rather than the annual numbers of crimes and victims. But aside from the fact that the list has been updated through 2014, this is the same data as the original article, with all the problems that Siegel and others pointed out before.
The best alternative measurement that I'm aware of comes from Grant Duwe, a criminologist at the Minnesota Department of Corrections. His definition of mass publicshootings does not make the various one-time exceptions and other jerry-riggings that Siegel criticizes in the Mother Jones list; he simply keeps track of mass shootings that took place in public and were not a byproduct of some other crime, such as a robbery. And rather than beginning with a search of news accounts, with all the gaps and distortions that entails, he starts with the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports to find out when and where mass killings happened, then looks for news reports to fill in the details. According to Duwe, the annual number of mass public shootings declined from 1999 to 2011, spiked in 2012, then regressed to the mean.

Finally, a note on why this matters. Violent crime rates have been moving downward for decades now, and mass shootings—by any definition—are a very rare phenomenon. I've heard arguments from one direction that say there's no point in putting such a small risk under a microscope when the most pressing threats to people's lives lie elsewhere. I've heard arguments from another direction that say even one crime this horrible is too many, and that the effect of noting how infrequently it happens is just to discourage people from trying to prevent it.

To the first set of arguments, I say that when the press and politicians present a problem like this as a rising crisis, it's worthwhile to see whether it is indeed rising. To the second set of arguments, I say that absolutely nothing I've said here means we shouldn't try to prevent future mass murders. Plane crashes are extremely rare, but airlines still look for ways to make them even less likely. If a measure genuinely makes people safer without creating an intolerable trade-off, I'm for it.

Such measures are most likely to be incremental changes adopted at particular places (such as schools) and then imitated elsewhere, not big anti-crime bills rushed into law by national politicians eager to be seen Doing Something. But there may well be ways federal or state officials can make that experimentation and imitation easier. Good ideas are good—and bad ideas are bad—whether or not mass shootings are getting more common.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Instapundit » Blog Archive » ASHE SCHOW: ‘Yes means yes’ laws also hurt women. “Studies have shown that men are far less likely…

Instapundit » ASHE SCHOW: ‘Yes means yes’ laws also hurt women. “Studies have shown that men are far less likely…


ASHE SCHOW: ‘Yes means yes’ laws also hurt women. “Studies have shown that men are far less likely to report sexual assault than women, but with a law like this, where the choice could be between seeing their futures ruined by an accusation or coming forward with an accusation — young men would likely choose the latter option. If the law remains as it is written, then women would become just as disadvantaged. If, as opponents predict, the law leads to an increase of accusations, anyone accused — man or woman — would be hurt by the lack of basic due process rights.” Since in our culture, women generally feel privileged to touch men without prior consent, one would actually expect more women to be guilty.

It may be time to herd college-age (and soon, high-school and grade-school age?) men into "consciousness raising" sessions where they will learn to file accusations against women who touch them without their consent.

FIRE shreds Ezra Klein and denial of due process to college men

FIRE shreds Ezra Klein and denial of due process to college men

So I’m sympathetic to the case against Yes Means Yes. But as I read more about the bill, talked to more lawyers about it, talked to more of the women in my life about it, and particularly after I read Amanda Taub’s piece outlining the broader benefits for an affirmative consent culture, I changed my mind. In part, I initially misunderstood what the Yes Means Yes law does, and doesn’t, do. But I also approached the law with too much status quo bias. It was too easy for me to see the disruptions and dangers embedded in the change and too hard for me to see the rolling catastrophe of the status quo.
Actually, Klein did not misunderstand what the law does, as discussed above. But here you see the key reason he supports it anyway: He firmly (and presumably sincerely) believes that there should be a cultural shift on how sex takes place on campus and maybe even in the larger society. And calling for a cultural shift is fine; indeed, there are plenty of other folks who have ideas how the culture on campus should be.
But a core difference between them and supporters of the California law like Klein is that the latter are comfortable with enforcing their desired culture shift not just through the power of the state but by using that power to degrade the rights of the accused. As blogger Fredrik deBoer put it: “As long as we’re making an omelet, am I right?”
Klein and others need to have some awareness that this is not simply a tweaking of the concept of consent; it’s another battle in America’s seemingly unending culture war. That’s why the debate around California’s law has gotten so ugly so quickly.

=============

FIRE’s main concern, of course, is due process, which Klein addresses under the heading “Yes Means Yes and due process.” He begins:
The idea of “due process” kept coming up in replies.
Fancy that.
Jonathan Chait, for instance, worries that colleges are “trampling due process,” and links to this Judith Shulevitz piece, which isn’t about the Yes Means Yes law. One charming e-mailer wrote, “No due process? Really? I’m a lawyer and now you’re on my hit list.” This is either a deep misunderstanding of the Yes Means Yes law, of how colleges enforce their rules, or both.
Is it? Do tell.
The Yes Means Yes law just doesn’t have much to do with procedural due process. Due process guarantees certain rights around most legal proceedings, like the right to a public trial and an impartial jury. But the Yes Means Yes law isn’t about legal proceedings. It’s about college hearings. It doesn’t change criminal proceedings at all.
Klein’s flip reminder that college tribunals are not “legal proceedings” is a glib way of patting concerned citizens on the head and telling us we shouldn’t care if colleges have set up kangaroo courts. Due process is the normative idea that a disciplinary system must work fairly, consistently, and impartially to arrive at just results. It’s not confined solely to the legal sphere—at least, it shouldn’t be, if we as a society care about fundamental fairness and prefer justice to arbitrary and capricious decision-making.
As the Supreme Court wrote in Goss v. Lopez, a case about high school students in Ohio who had been suspended for up to 10 days with virtually no due process,
the total exclusion from the educational process for more than a trivial period, and certainly if the suspension is for 10 days, is a serious event in the life of the suspended child. Neither the property interest in educational benefits temporarily denied nor the liberty interest in reputation, which is also implicated, is so insubstantial that suspensions may constitutionally be imposed by any procedure the school chooses, no matter how arbitrary. 419 U.S. 565, 576 (1975).
Expulsion from a public college and a finding that a person committed sexual assault is surely a much more “serious event” than a sub-10-day suspension from high school and implicates the “liberty interest in reputation” exponentially more than a high school suspension.
Here’s a thought experiment that may illuminate the issue: If Ezra Klein were deemed a rapist by his college and expelled from school with that on his transcript, would he have been been hired and paid to blog by The Washington Post, become famous doing so, drawn profiles in major magazines complete with photo shoots, and used that fame to springboard himself to co-founder of a well-known website? To ask that question is to answer it, but I see no sign that Klein has asked.
Further, we really need to dispense with the idea that college tribunals are not miniature justice systems, even if they’re not courts of law.
Generally speaking, they involve an allegation, an investigation, a hearing, the presentation of evidence (however defined), fact-finding, the possibility of a sentence that can change the course of the accused’s life (in severe ways), and an appeals process. And when the allegations concern sexual assault, college tribunals just happen to be deciding whether someone committed conduct that constitutes a felony crime. Due process is most certainly a legitimate concern.
Klein continues:
The issue here goes far beyond Yes Means Yes, and into a harder question: what process should colleges uses for sexual harassment hearings? College hearings do not carry the full guarantee of due process that, say, criminal legal proceedings do. This is, for the record, something the courts have looked at: there were some very basic due process protections laid down in Goss v. Lopez, but, since then, courts have judged whether a student’s rights were violated on a case-by-case basis, and they have notably refused to say that all universities, or even all public universities, need to give students the full due process rights that the criminal or civil systems offer. This is why, for instance, students aren’t guaranteed legal representation in plagiarism hearings.
Klein is unwittingly making the case against colleges handling felony crimes like rape here. College disciplinary systems came into being precisely to handle academic infractions like plagiarism or cheating. Indeed, they are exactly the right institutions to handle those kinds of allegations, as they have the specialized expertise.

==========

When it comes to rape, however, college tribunals are terrifyingly out of their depth and have displayed what can only be called “anti-expertise.” The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto recounted an example of how this worked in one case at Auburn University. Actual kangaroos could not have done a worse job of adjudicating that case.
But Klein seems to think that the law will help that process rather than hurt it:
There’s a related, and serious, concern here that the process by which colleges manage sexual assault cases is a mess. In many cases, the accused lack very basic protections (the Harvard Law School’s faculty just published an open lettercondemning Harvard’s new sexual assault policies on these grounds). The Yes Means Yes law interacts with these processes a bit, but mostly by telling colleges to clarify them, which will, in many cases, be an improvement.
It will? California’s law effectively places the onus on the accused to prove to a college panel or a single administrator that they received continuous consent to any and every sexual act in question. If a student can’t produce that proof, he or she is a rapist.
It doesn’t matter whether the accuser did want the sexual act to happen, it only matters whether the accused can convince the school that they indicated as much. If he or she can’t, they’re a rapist. It’s hard to see how this can be described as fair, even if the procedures are scrupulously followed.
What it doesn’t do is somehow rip rights away from the accused. You could have a hearing process that is very similar to the process used in civil trials within the context of the Yes Means Yes law, complete with guaranteed legal representation.
You could, but you don’t, and Klein knows it. Worse, the affirmative consent bill he supports could have fixed that problem, but it didn’t.
For instance, students are nearly always denied competent representation, except in North Carolina, and that exception is in large part due to FIRE’s advocacy. Judge Henry Friendly, in a famous (among lawyers) 1975 article, laid out the basics of what it means to have a fair process when it comes to government hearings. They are:
  • An unbiased tribunal.
  • Notice of the proposed action and the grounds asserted for it.
  • Opportunity to present reasons why the proposed action should not be taken.
  • The right to present evidence, including the right to call witnesses.
  • The right to know opposing evidence.
  • The right to cross-examine adverse witnesses.
  • A decision based exclusively on the evidence presented.
  • Opportunity to be represented by counsel.
  • Requirement that the tribunal prepare a record of the evidence presented.
  • Requirement that the tribunal prepare written findings of fact and reasons for its decision.
FIRE has seen colleges violate every one of these principles, and often many of them at once, in our 15 years of handling due process cases. The Harvard Law faculty members are concerned about these as well. This is not a fringe concern or one to be easily dismissed.
There’s no contradiction between a fair and clear process, real protections for the accused, and an affirmative consent standard — and there’s no reason one shouldn’t support all simultaneously, as I do.
A somewhat separate issues that the Yes Means Yes law also directs California colleges to use the “preponderance of evidence” standard, which is what’s used in most civil trials. But that’s not much of a change: the federal government hasdirected colleges to use that standard back in 2011, though not all of them have complied.
The preponderance of evidence standard is a lower standard than is used in criminal trials. But as the federal government argued in 2011, it’s the standard that the Supreme Court laid down for civil discrimination suits under the Civil Rights Act, and it’s the standard the Office of Civil Rights uses when looking into Title IX violations.
It’s hard to imagine that there are “real protections for the accused” when the law Klein’s supporting not only requires that you be able to prove you had consent at every stage of sexual activity or at some undefined interval, but also lowers the burden of proof so that a tribunal only 51 percent certain of your guilt has to find you guilty of rape anyway.

============

The reason the criminal standard is so tough to meet is that people go to jail in criminal trials, they get the death penalty in them, they become registered sex offenders through them. The worst a college can do is expel you.
Yes, they can expel you, deny you further education at any other state institution (in some cases, like Caleb Warner’s), and make sure your transcript and your records, which are accessible to schools, employers, and the government, say that you’re a rapist. And I assure you that those notifications do not elaborate on the many due process failures of the university in making those findings.
That’s why colleges have never had to meet the criminal standard when deciding whether to expel a student for plagiarism or vandalism — and yet people don’t seem overly exercised about those verdicts. Why is sexual assault different, given that the punishment is the same?
Is this question serious? It’s because you have been found guilty of rape, not plagiarism or vandalism! If the punishment for murder were reduced to one year in prison, people would still treat murderers worse than vandals who got a year in prison, even though the punishments are the same. Come on.
Are you sure you want make it impossible for colleges to expel potential rapists where the preponderance of evidence shows them to be responsible for repeated sexual assaults, but it can’t quite be proven beyond a reasonable doubt? That’s not a standard, for instance, that we think employers should meet.
First, colleges aren’t students’ employers. Students pay them, not vice versa. So this is a bogus equivalency. But expulsion is not the panacea so many advocates make it out to be.
The best case scenario is that the expelled rapist is free to victimize people (generally, women) off campus. And on many campuses, there’s nothing preventing those expelled from coming back onto campus long enough to victimize students again—it’s not like they’re wearing a tracking ankle bracelet or being shadowed 24/7 by campus cops.
That’s why colleges should be leaving matters of public safety and criminal justice to the criminal justice system, which actually has the power to get rapists off the streets.
Colleges can provide plenty of services, from counseling to escorts to accommodations in scheduling or living, to help rape victims. But they can’t put the rapist in jail. If there’s a problem with the criminal justice system’s ability to achieve justice in rape cases, then that’sthe system that needs reforming by legislators, not the campus justice system.

Yes means Yes | affirmative consent | Ezra Klein | assault

Yes means Yes | affirmative consent | Ezra Klein | assault

I’ve written previously about California’s new “Yes Means Yes” law, which codifies a strict definition of “affirmative consent” as it applies to students on college campuses. It’s a terrible bill, but some liberals are touting its absolute failure to address any real problems as its greatest achievement. A group of professors at Harvard Law School recently published a joint letter in the Boston Globe begging the university to rethink its implementation of a similar standard:
We call on the university to withdraw this sexual harassment policy and begin the challenging project of carefully thinking through what substantive and procedural rules would best balance the complex issues involved in addressing sexual conduct and misconduct in our community. The goal must not be simply to go as far as possible in the direction of preventing anything that some might characterize as sexual harassment. The goal must instead be to fully address sexual harassment while at the same time protecting students against unfair and inappropriate discipline, honoring individual relationship autonomy, and maintaining the values of academic freedom.
28 professors from one of the finest law schools on the planet believe that these laws go to far. They’re not just a change in policy; they redefine the meaning of “sexual assault,” and “consent.” They’re a gross overreach into the lives of students that flies in the face of the basic concepts of justice and due process. Chief Voxsplainer Ezra Klein recently penned an article explaining why he believes affirmative consent regulatory overreach—and subsequent overregulation of the sex lives of young Californians—will eliminate the alleged culture of “sexual entitlement” on college campuses. In Ezra Klein’s illiberal utopia, we achieve that goal by making examples out of men whose only crime is that they are male:
The Yes Means Yes law is trying to change a culture of sexual entitlement. That culture of sexual entitlement is built on fear; fear that the word “no” will lead to violence, or that the complaint you bring to the authorities will be be ignored, or that the hearing will become a venue for your humiliation, as the man who assaulted you details all the ways you were asking for it. “No Means No” has created a world where women are afraid. To work, “Yes Means Yes” needs to create a world where men are afraid. For that reason, the law is only worth the paper it’s written on if some of the critics’ fears come true. Critics worry that colleges will fill with cases in which campus boards convict young men (and, occasionally, young women) of sexual assault for genuinely ambiguous situations. Sadly, that’s necessary for the law’s success. It’s those cases — particularly the ones that feel genuinely unclear and maybe even unfair, the ones that become lore in frats and cautionary tales that fathers e-mail to their sons — that will convince men that they better Be Pretty Damn Sure.
This idea that a law must first victimize the innocent in order to achieve social change flies in the face of the original concepts of justice. Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine points this out; it’s not that we expect campus disciplinary proceedings to exactly mirror judicial proceedings, but there is an inherent expectation that those sitting as judge and jury are there to suss out the facts, not settle the score in the Battle of the Sexes. Chait argues that this is exactly the case—that fans of this new law “[argue] for false convictions as a conscious strategy in order to strike fear into the innocent.”
And indeed, the notion of presumption of innocence has been decried, to me, in person, as "just what I'm talking about" as "rape culture".

I hate the phrase “hookup culture,” because it implies there’s some sort of implicit agreement between the sexes that by default, it’s going down; but the fact is that this sort of culture exists, at least in some fashion, and the result can either go one of two ways: you can either have a great time and leave the next morning happy (if not fulfilled,) or you can leave feeling sloppy, and dirty, and more than a little upset with what happened. Laws like Yes Means Yes assume for all of us that when this kind of sex happens, it happens towomen. They assume that women as sexual creatures are not only incapable of making choices, but will by default crumble under the fallout of their bad ones. At best, it is as Heather Mac Donald called it “neo-Victorian.” At worst, it is a mindset thatactually sets back women/feminism/the human condition back into the stone ages. What the philosophy behind “Yes Means Yes” means—and what Klein believes, even if he doesn’t realize it—is that a woman is only empowered by her ability to decide post facto that it is actually menwho are responsible for her now-regretted choice to have sex. In the real world, you would wake up from your encounter with Ted, toss the guy a water bottle, and throw him out with his pants still in his hands. You would sit on the couch and dial your friend and talk about how you’re going to shower for the next five hours because you drunkenly hooked up with some guy named Ted. Then you would move on with your life, because you are a grown woman who can deal with her choices. In Ezra Klein’s world, you would wake up from your encounter with Ted, toss the guy a water bottle, and throw him out with his pants still in his hands. You would sit on the couch and dial your campus counselor to discuss your options—as opposed to just doing some self-searching about why you chose to become so intimate with a stranger.
Did he force you? No.
Did he threaten you? No.
Were you into it? …Maybe?
Were you drunk? Definitely. I was definitely drunk.
Bingo. Now, instead of going to class on Monday, Ted is going to be having a very special conversation with a panel of bureaucrats about the consensual sex he had on Saturday. Ted is no longer a student. Ted, as it turns out, is a rapist without ever having committed a rape; and you, by default, are a victim who has pressed the statutory rewind button and changed the game after the fact. The Harvard professors understand exactly what these laws mean, and why Ezra Klein is so hopelessly wrong in his analysis of them. “Yes Means Yes” doesn’t institute a power shift; “Yes Means Yes” changes the rules and picks a winner in a hypothetical sexual assault scenario forced into reality. This isn’t justice. This isn’t empowerment. This is vindication on behalf of a particular class of women who have taken advantage of their sexual liberty, and realized that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

College Sexual Assault Rules Trample Rights of Accused Campus Rapists | New Republic


 I was curious to know what a lawyer outside the university system would make of one of these codes. So I sent the document to Robin Steinberg, a public defender and a feminist.
A few hours later, Steinberg wrote back in alarm. She had read the document with colleagues at the Bronx legal-aid center she runs. They were horrified, she saidnot because Columbia still hadn’t sufficiently protected survivors of assault, as some critics charge, but because its procedures revealed a cavalier disregard for the civil rights of people accused of rape, assault, and other gender-based crimes. “We are never sending our boys to college,” she wrote.
Columbia’s safeguards for the accused are better than most. For instance, it allows both accuser and accused to have a lawyer at a hearing, and, if asked, will locate free counsel. By contrast, Harvard, which issued a new code in July, holds investigations but not hearings and does not offer to obtain independent legal assistance. But Steinberg, like most people, hadn’t realized how far the rules governing sexual conduct on campus have strayed from any commonsense understanding of justice.
Most colleges that do allow lawyers into sexual-misconduct hearings or interrogations do not permit them to speak, though they may pass notes. Students on both sides must speak for themselves. This presents a serious problem for a young man charged with rape (and in the vast majority of campus cases, the accused are men). On one hand, if he doesn’t defend himself, he’ll be at a disadvantage. On the other, if he is also caught up in a criminal case, anything he says in a campus procedure can be used against him in court. Neither side may cross-examine witnesses to establish contradictions in their testimony. A school may withhold the identity of an accuser from the accused if she requests anonymity (though it may choose not to). Guilt or innocence hinges on a “preponderance” of evidence, a far lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” test that prevails in courtrooms. At Harvard, the Title IX enforcement office acts as cop, prosecutor, judge, and juryand also hears the appeals. This conflation of possibly conflicting roles is “fundamentally not due process,” says Janet Halley, a Harvard Law School professor whose areas of expertise include feminist legal theory and procedural law.....So what should colleges do about sexual assault? In February, RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, wrote to the White House task force to argue that complaints should be dealt with by the police. Victims’ rights advocates counter that the criminal justice system is insensitive to rape victims and bad at securing convictions. Either way, universities view it as their right and educational mission to create internal justice systems for their communities. The quickest fix would be to upgrade their procedures: to ensure that the rights of both parties are equally protected and that every administrator or faculty member involved is properly trained. If nobody trusts the processand right now, nobody appears tocampus unrest will only grow.
What’s happening at universities represents an often necessary effort to recategorize once-acceptable behaviors as unacceptable. But the government, via Title IX, is effectively acting on the notion popularized in the 1970s and ’80s by Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon that male domination is so pervasive that women need special protection from the rigors of the law. Men, as a class, have more power than women, but American law rests on the principle that individuals have rights even when accused of doing bad things. And American liberalism has long rejected the notion that those rights may be curtailed even for a noble cause. “We need to take into account our obligations to due process not because we are soft on rapists and other exploiters of women,” says Halley, but because “the danger of holding an innocent person responsible is real.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

George Zimmerman | Trayvon Martin | Disobeyed Police

George Zimmerman | Trayvon Martin | Disobeyed Police

Mistakes happen, of course, so I promptly sent off an email to Professor Coker alerting her to the error in the certainty that she would wish to issue a correction.  That email follows below.  I only sent it an hour or so ago, which is far to little time to expect a response of any kind, but should I receive a response I will naturally share it.
Dear Professor Coker,
I recently came across your Foreword for the University of Miami Law Review Summer 2014 edition, dealing with issues around Stand-Your-Ground law and other aspects of self-defense law. I myself am an attorney with a particularized interest in self-defense law, and found your article very interesting.
I did note one substantive factual error, however, that I know you would want me to bring to your attention for purposes of correction. It particularly references the Zimmerman trial.
On page 955 you write:
“The dispatcher advised him not to pursue the teenager, but Zimmerman disregarded this warning and set out on foot to follow the youth.82″
Your footnote #82 comments:
82. See id. Alafair Burke argues that had the court granted the prosecution’s request for a first
aggressor instruction, the trial outcome might have been different. See Alafair Burke, What You
May Not Know About the Zimmerman Verdict: The Evolution of a Jury Instruction, HUFFINGTON
POST (July 15, 2013, 11:19 AM), available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alafair-burke/
george-zimmerman-jury-instructions_b_3596685.html. See also FLA. STAT. § 776.041 (2013)
(“The justification described in the preceding sections . . . is not available to a person who . . . (2)
[i]nitially provokes the use of force against himself . . . .”).
The primary substantive error in your text is the mistaken order. You have the sequence as:
(1) The dispatcher advised Zimmerman not to pursue the teenager.
(2) Zimmerman disregarded this warning and set out on foot to follow the youth.
Self-defense cases are always exquisitely fact sensitive, and the sequence of events is of course critical. In fact, you’ve placed the sequence of events backwards, and stripped them of context that likely played a critical role in the jury’s conception of that night’s events.
In fact, the sequence of events as they actually occurred is:
(1) Zimmerman informed the dispatcher that Martin had fled from sight around the corner of a building.
(2) The dispatcher asked Zimmerman where Martin was running to.
(3) Unable to observe Martin from his vehicle, Zimmerman exited the vehicle and set out on foot to look around the corner of the building.
(4) The dispatcher, sensing that Zimmerman had exited his vehicle, asked Zimmerman if he was following Martin.
(5) Zimmerman affirmed that he was.
(6) The dispatcher advised Zimmerman, “We don’t need you to do that.”
(7) Zimmerman responded, “OK,” and began returning back to his vehicle.
On the way back to his vehicle Zimmerman concluded his call with 911. It was then that Zimmerman and Martin had their fateful encounter.
That my recounting of events is accurate is readily confirmable by listening to the 911 recording of Zimmerman speaking with the dispatcher. It is available from many sources, but for your convenience you can also listen to it here:
That post also has a transcript of the relevant portion of the recording.
As you can see, there’s a very good explanation for why the court did not grant the prosecution’s request for a first aggressor instruction. There is zero evidence–literally, none–to support a claim that Zimmerman was a first aggressor. He did not disregard dispatcher advice to not pursue the teenager, quite the contrary–he immediately complied. Indeed, it seems likely that the only reason Zimmerman got out of his vehicle to follow Martin in the first place was in the reasonable belief that the dispatcher was asking him to do so in order to ascertain Martin’s direction of travel.
Even if, however, Zimmerman HAD followed Martin in disregard of police instructions I am unaware of any state’s law that holds that merely following someone, absent malice (of which there was also no evidence) is sufficient to qualify as a first aggressor.
Frankly, the notion that a “first aggressor instruction would have saved the day” is just silly, once the actual facts of the case are known.
In any case, clients call. Again, I enjoyed your article, and I’m confident you’ll wish to make that correction.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you have actual evidence in support of your statement, I’ll adjust my understanding of the case accordingly.
Best regards,
Andrew
Andrew F. Branca
Attorney at Law (MA)
www.lawofselfdefense.com
@LawSelfDefense
Facebook: Law of Self Defense
I guess we’ll have to see what, if anything, happens.