Monday, October 15, 2018

Hey, Right Wingers, Got a tatttoo?

I am going straight to the source since I don't want to be accused of spreading fake news. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is running something called Tatt-C. Here's the link.

This is a call for development for a pattern recognition program to detect and track people by their tattoos.

NIST's Summary of it is:
The Tattoo Recognition Technology – Challenge (Tatt-C) is being conducted to challenge the commercial and academic community in advancing research and development into automated image-based tattoo matching technology.
Some background on this from the NIST page:
Tattoos have been used for many years to assist law enforcement in the identification of criminals and victims and for investigative research purposes.* Historically, law enforcement agencies have followed the ANSI-NIST-ITL 1-2011 standard to collect and assign keyword labels to tattoos. This keyword labeling approach comes with drawbacks, which include the limitation of ANSI-NIST standard class labels to describe the increasing variety of new tattoo designs, the need for multiple keywords to sufficiently describe some tattoos, and subjectivity in human annotation as the same tattoo can be labeled differently between examiners. As such, the shortcomings of keyword-based tattoo image retrieval have driven the need for automated image-based tattoo recognition capabilities.
IOW, You is out of luck if you've got tatts since the guvment may soon be able to track your movements.

Friday, September 28, 2018

How Kavanaugh (and the legal community) flubbed the Sexual Assault Accusations.

Note: this was written close to when the first post was, but posted later for a few reasons.

Let's start with the facts as stated by the accuser, which I will take as being true ad argumentum:
According to the Post, Ford described how Kavanaugh and a friend – both “stumbling drunk” – corralled her into a bedroom at a house in Montgomery county, Maryland.
The Post reported: “While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.”
Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California, told the Post: “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”
She added: “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Aside from the fact that Kavanaugh was under the age of majority, which leads to questions about criminal responsibility in this matter. Various issues regarding juvenile justice had there been an adjudication of delinquency and its ability to be used in this matter. There wasn't any sort of formal process in this matter, which is another problem.

Next, Maryland changed its laws regarding rape in 2017, this incident occurred in the early 1980s. Should Maryland apply the law in effect when this incident occurred or would that make Maryland's current rape statute an ex post facto law, and unconstitutional? Toss in Maryland rape laws require actual penetration, which there wasn't according to the above statement. This might be a fourth degree Sexual Offense (MD code 3-308), but I am not sure there would be proof if I were trying to prosecute the case. It would definitely be some kind of assault (unlawful touching). I would make an offer for assault if I were a prosecutor in this case.

Unlawful sexual contact is one of the most commonly charged sex crimes in Maryland. There are two basic elements to this crime — sexual contact and lack of consent. Under Maryland law, sexual contact includes touching the genitals or some other intimate area, which is often interpreted to include the buttocks and the female breasts. If an individual’s hand, body part or extension of a hand touches a person in any of these areas, that may be classified as sexual contact.

The law is unclear whether the contact needs to be direct to those parts or whether one could make sexual contact with a clothed person. I am of the opinion that the statute requires direct contact. This would be a question of law. But the rape sections of Maryland law require actual penetration.

Saying this is assault is more serious due to the fear of harm or actual harm being inflicted on the victim even if this is not a sexual offence in my opinion. But I do not see any of the specific penetration or other element that would cause this to rise to the level of being specifically a sex crime.

The statute of limitations applies in this case since it wasn't any form of rape because there was no penetration. There is a one year statute of limitations for fourth degree sexual offences (Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-106; In re Anthony R., 362 Md. 51, 73, 763 A.2d 136, 148 [2000]) if one wants to continue with an allegation of criminal sexual conduct that might stick.

Maryland does not have a statute of limitation on assault according to Lawrence Tribe (however Maryland lawyers say it is one year. Remember we need to use the law that was in effect when the crime was committed), but the next question if there is no liimit to prosecution would be which court would have jurisdiction: juvenile or adult? Again, even if one wants to say that there is no statute of limitation on this case, then does this issue of criminal responsibility based upon age come into the play. After all, the alleged incident happened when Kavanaugh was a juvenile according to the law.

Sorry Prof. Tribe, but Maryland's juvenile act would have been the proper standard to have been used at this time: not adult law. Something about ex post facto laws being an issue, which is a mistake that a noted Constitutional law prof should not be making. Especially since competence to stand trial is a constitutional issue.

That means there would be a statute of limitation based on Maryland's Juvenile Act due to this? The real issue isn't as much a statute of limitations as it is that this incident occurred when Kavanaugh was a juvenile. Juvenile court can retain jurisdiction over youth until age 21, provided that the offense alleged to have been committed occurred before the youth turned 18. (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-8A-01(d) and Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-8A-07(a), (b))

One of reason for statutes of limitation is the fairness of the prosecution in regard to finding evidence, witnesses, and so on. That is important given this would be and 35+ year old allegation. Can she offer proof which would go beyond a reasonable doubt?

Mark Judge, the alleged partner to this, does not remember the event ever happening. So, we have evidentiary problems.

Also, this is one incident. I would be hesitant to use an isolated incident this old as an indicator of Kavanaugh's personality. I would be less hesitant if there were incidents which were more recent to show he has not changed.

Bottom line, there are Constitutional due process issues a plenty here which make this line of attack highly problematic for me. I would have hoped that a judge with a staff would have enumerated them, but he has failed to address this highly important issue.

I feel sorry for the accuser, but legally this shouldn't see the light of day given the length of time from the incident to any public accusation. She wouldn't get a day in court based upon the facts, yet this has shown up in the political arena for whatever reason.

I doubt there is a person who hasn't committed a crime whether intentionally or unintentionally which may or may not have been prosecuted. Likewise, there are defences and mitigations to crimes which must be taken into account. Not to mention constitutionality of this. These matters need to be considered by Kavanaugh's accusers.

Even more importantly, I see the facts of this case being twisted into partisan fodder to try and thwart the confirmation of someone who doesn't have the legal acumen of a first year law student. The lack of legal knowledge to provide a defence to this, especially from a judge with a staff, is troubling to me.

As I said before, this accusation demonstrates that Brett Kavanaugh is not worthy of a seat on the highest court because he lacks a basic knowledge of the law, of which this an exposition. I could probably come up with far more constitutional and criminal defences to this accusation, but that would be more nails in the coffin to his lack of basic legal knowledge.


See also:

Sunday, September 23, 2018

More on the founders and republics

Another of the benefits claimed by the founders for having a republic over a democracy is that republics are supposed to be free of factions. That is that partisan bickering that we see in US politics should not be happening.

Boy, were they WRONG on that one with the partisan bullshit beginning long before the ink dried on the Constitution (or they even began debating the thing).

So, this is further evidence that the founders had no fucking idea what they were doing and had basically buried themselves. That means the US has been in constitutional crisis from at least the first Continental Congress.

No wonder the place is a mess.

See also:
The Founding Fathers on Party Strife (Quotes)
The Founding Fathers & Political Parties The Origins of Today's Bitter Partisanship: The Founding Fathers

Friday, September 21, 2018

Don’t quote the Founders on republics

I have serious questions about anyone who venerated the founders, who had no fucking idea what they were doing. That’s pretty much of an understatement for anyone who has any idea of early American history. Patrick Henry had an inkling he was making a mistake when he said:
Whether this (Independence) will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people will make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable.Righteousness alone cannot exalt us as a nation. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.
Not sure how anyone who was paying off the cost of a war would think that having another one would solve any problems. Toss in all the other issues that were left unaddressed because a bunch of hotheads wanted another war.

Anyway, their love for republics was yet another aspect of their ignorance. The Roman republic may have lasted for nearly 500 years but
Unlike the Pax Romana of the Roman Empire, the Republic was in a state of quasi-perpetual war throughout its existence. Its first enemies were its Latin and Etruscan neighbours, as well as the Gauls, who even sacked the city in 387 BC. The Republic nonetheless demonstrated extreme resilience and always managed to overcome its losses, however catastrophic…At home, the Republic similarly experienced a long streak of social and political crises, which ended in several bloody civil wars.
Toss in the French revolution would demonstrate that republics were anything but stable.

So, for all their attempts at trying to show a difference between a republic and a democracy. there probably wasn’t that much of one even in classical times,. But it sounds nice if one is starting on shaky ground.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The accusations against Kavanaugh show he shouldn't be a justice, but not for the harassment aspect.

OK, there was a question using a similar scenario to what Kavanaugh is facing given on a test during my legal education, which means that the legal issues here the should be obvious to a first year law student let alone someone who wants to be a supreme court justice.

The fact that Kavanaugh was 17 when this happened should be sending out shitloads of objections to this, but that would only be the beginning. I am amazed that all the profs who blog on this topic aren't going on about them. Clarence Thomas was Anita Hill's supervisor at the Department of Education and the EEOC, not a teenager: major difference.

I am not going to say what they are, but at least one of them is a constitutional issue. The fact that Kavanaugh isn't talking about it makes me worry about how good of a justice he would be.

The fact that this line of questioning Kavanaugh's ability to be a justice was allowed to see the light of day has me worried about the legal fraternity in the US.

So, while these allegations are serious, I don't think this is a fair line of questioning even if they are true. In fact, it makes me wonder how much of a case Kavanaugh's opponents have against him (other than his not having a basic knowledge of the law).

I think Kavanaugh's inability to address this basic issue of the law along with his poor knowledge of the law would be more than enough to deny him the nomination. But dragging an incident that happened 36 years ago is questionable even if true (hint hint).

This incident makes me worry about how far back opponents might go to destroy someone's political career. No one is going to be without some taint, but there may be a dearth of qualified candidates if the nomination process goes over someone's record with an electron microscope.

But the legal aspects and the defences they afford Kavanaugh in this situation are far more troubling to me in this process. The fact that a supreme court justice is unable to articulate them is even more troubling.