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February 2018 Archives

Border Patrol Warrantless Searches Far From The Border

A federal law says the Border Patrol can conduct warrantless searches and trespass on private property within 100 miles of the Border. Think about that. Why should people who look dark or Latino have all the fun of being treated like criminals or the enemy in their own country? Let's all join in the exciting adventure of police stopping us at checkpoints on streets right by our homes; producing ID; and getting searched and maybe even arrested for contraband. Not at the border; but in the good old formerly freedom-loving USA.

Lawsuit alleges teacher was fired because she wears a hijab

Attorney David Nacht is fighting for his client and for all workplaces to be free of national origin and religious discrimination.  Watch his recent interview with WXYZ Channel 7 News.   Click here for video

Clearing Marijuana Convictions

The idea that people who smoke marijuana and provide small quantities to their friends should continue to classified as criminals is frankly ridiculous and harms the economy. Drug convictions in Michigan are generally not expungeable. We have a law "7411" that allows a first time drug offender who avoids trouble to avoid a conviction. We have another, the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, that applies to student age offenders for a variety of crimes. But prosecutors and judges must agree to confer these benefits on the offenders. Many young people, as parents of teenagers will acknowledge, do not always show the best attitude. This can translate into a police officer, prosecutor or judge deciding that the young person should have a record that sticks. I have never been a believer that marijuana is good for people or for our society. But it clearly doesn't kill nearly as many people as alcohol or tobacco. And the criminalization and indeed the "war on drugs" has been a major drag on the economy as it hobbles careers. Student loans, bank loans for starting businesses, and a variety of other job opportunities have been denied to many solid citizens who preferred a joint to a beer. The proliferation of drug tests for a variety of jobs that bars marijuana "positives" from employment is essentially prejudice. The culture has overwhelmingly rejected the notion that marijuana is dangerous. Our completely failed approach to the opiate crisis which now kills more of us than car accidents demonstrates that our criminalization policies are the opposite of sensible. Our prisons are filled with "dangerous drug dealers" while more Americans than ever are dying from drugs. We are focused on the wrong drug. I assure you that criminal cases continue to be routinely brought among marijuana smokers in Michigan. It is time to follow the lead of the western states and stop branding our fellow citizens as criminals who indulge in marijuana. Prior criminal records should be automatically expunged. This is exactly what prosecutors in San Francisco and San Diego are doing. Michigan should legalize marijuana, and thousands of our fellow citizens should have their criminal records erased. 

In an age of accusations, please remember that due process matters

Every day we are bombarded with public accusations. Not all of them are true. Some of them are. People who make claims should be taken seriously. But they should not automatically be believed. Last Friday, we filed suit against the University of Michigan on behalf of a woman professor who was falsely accused of sexual harassment by three graduate students. They also falsely accused her of another ridiculous allegation: that she kept a gun in her office. Even after the police searched the office and found that accusation to be false, the University kept an investigation going for a year. That she was cleared of sex harassment did not end things. The University decided to punish her for unspecified decisions in her interactions with students that they claim violate some undefined policy. They stripped her of the right to take on new students. In an age of accusations, please remember that due process matters. And while the news may be filled with powerful men being taken down, history shows that the loss of due process tends to harm those who are weakest.

A More Nuanced Look at the Nunes Memo

The FISA court -- a court of rotating federal judges that issues warrants on intelligence suspects-- authorized a secret wiretap on a US citizen suspected of close ties with Russian agents, Carter Page. That the Intelligence Committee of the House of Republicans investigated this process is normal and healthy.  That it made public, with Presidential permission, its findings, should not automatically be seen as a rotten political trick or assumed to be dangerous.  

To give the public more information is usually a good idea.  We should all be concerned about  search warrants of presidential campaigns, especially when issued to investigate the campaign of the opposite political party from the sitting President.  That the FBI objects, when it is made to look bad, should come as no surprise and should not automatically make citizens, even those who happen to distrust President Trump, automatically opposed to disclosure.  

The Nunes memo is short and easy to read.  I am glad to know what it says.

What is troubling is that the same House committee voted to prevent the Democratic Committee members' minority report from getting declassified.  That is unusual and disturbing. And that act makes one wonder if the true intent is political. 

And if so, then that is scary. 

The reason is because the Deputy Attorney General who oversees the Mueller investigation, Rod Rosenstein, a career prosecutor, is made to look bad in the Nunes report.  If Chairman Nunes' intent is to publicly discredit the Deputy Attorney General, in order to allow the President to replace him with someone more pliable and less principled, then that has consequences.  Rosenstein supervises the Mueller investigation.  The new deputy attorney general could dramatically reduce the ability of the Mueller investigation to get resources, bring charges, and uncover wrongdoing.   In short, Mueller could keep his job and be neutered. 

If Nunes is protecting the President and his friends from having their dirty linen aired, then this act of public disclosure will actually result in more secrecy.  Since Mueller is investigating Russian efforts to  undermine our election, that would be very bad for us all.

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