"Liberal" Does Not Reliably Mean "Respectful of the Rights of the Accused"

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28 Responses

  1. TJIC says:

    I depart from libertarian utter ideological purity in liking laws against owning child pornography.

    That said, yes, I'm 100% in agreement with you here – if someone is accused, it's insane to deny them the right to review the evidence.

  2. SeanD says:

    The media in all of its traditional forms, liberal or otherwise, have long sought to undermine the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" – perp walks, publishing mugshots of suspects, Nancy Grace and the deification of law enforcement have been the main avenues.

    It was not until I began to work in the criminal justice field that I truly began to understand (IMHO) the nuances that had been obfuscated by a lifetime of feeding at the mainstream media's teat.

    This really hits home when interviewing otherwise liberal jurors after a conviction (I'm based in SF) – it is very difficult for people get out of their bubbles and give people a true benefit of a doubt.

  3. Hasdrubal says:

    In all fairness, most of the commentors at Gawker pretty much agree with you. From the first comment saying "If we outlaw this, justice would NEVER get done in any case. Not sure how to change that without making seriously flawed laws that undermine justice….. " most of them agree.

    The True Crime Reports commentariat, on the other hand, perfect examples of your thesis.

  4. Quizikle says:

    Used to be the saying was:
    "A conservative is someone who has been robbed, a liberal is someone who has been arrested". Now both sides seem to favor: "The police are right – throw 'em in jail and sort it out later".

    I consider TJIC one of my blog fathers, but as "child pornography" now seems to cover parents having pictures of the baby in the bath or the kids in bathing suits in the pool, I have to maintain some degree of libertarian leanings towards child pornography laws. And an even stronger distrust of prosecutors (especially in WA) than police.

  5. Xenocles says:

    "This is how justice gets served."

    We agree, but I don't think he meant it to go that way.

    Another question: if it should be a crime for the defense to view it, why should the jury be allowed to see it? Why should the prosecutor?

  6. ecurbCO says:

    On the other hand, the comments in the seattle times are encouraging. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/reader_feedback/public/display.php?registration_return=true&source_id=2015591611&source_name=mbase&offset=0&direction=DESC&column=rating
    Of course, it's as close as you can get to a conservative paper in Seattle…

  7. TJIC says:

    @Quizikle:

    > I consider TJIC one of my blog fathers

    Thanks!

    > but as “child pornography” now seems to cover parents having pictures of the baby in the bath or the kids in bathing suits in the pool, I have to maintain some degree of libertarian leanings towards child pornography laws.

    Agreed, large numbers of the prosecutions are garbage.

    …but then again, so are large numbers of prosecutions for many crimes.

    If we can limit the concept of "child pornography" to the truly horrible 99-out-of-100-people-agree-a-child-is-being-harmed stuff (and perhaps we can't – feel free to argue that), then I defend the laws as being a small infringement on rights in return for a large decrease in the incentive to harm children by creating more of the stuff.

    I think that laws against possession of stolen property are likewise pragmatic and not unreasonable.

  8. Ken says:

    I can't tell if this True Crime Reports commenter is being sarcastic or not:

    After the Casey Anthony trial this does not surprise me a bit.

  9. Ken says:

    Edited to add a comment exchange over at True Crime Report.

  10. SPQR says:

    Ah, Ken, that exchange went waaaaay over someone's head.

  11. Ken says:

    Mine, right? It's mine, and you are all laughing at me?

  12. Justin T. says:

    Why did they bother interviewing the sheriff about this issue? It's an issue of law, not law enforcement. That's like interviewing the district court clerk about his reaction to the latest Supreme Court decision.

  13. SPQR says:

    Not this time, Ken.

  14. Linus says:

    Yeah, I'm shocked, SHOCKED that the sheriff believes the guy is guilty before trial, and that he is in favor of removing obstacles to conviction. I did NOT see that coming. Usually sheriffs are so solicitous of the rights of the accused.

  15. Patrick says:

    I'm not sure why this needs to be viewed through a "liberal/conservative" lens, but insofar as there is a "liberal" position on this issue, it is yours. I'm pretty confident that none of the crazy liberal hippies at the super-liberal law school I just graduated from would think this guy shouldn't be able to review the evidence against him.

  16. Richard Hershberger says:

    @ Hasdrubal:

    It's not just the commenters. The guy who posted the on Gawker agrees. See the fourth comment in. His original post is a visceral reaction to the situation, not a recommendation for a change to legal procedure. The only person quoted who is advocating such a change is the prosecutor. It may be that Pierce County is so lefty that even the prosecutor is a pot smoking hippie, but this looks suspiciously like an over-strenuous effort on Ken's part to make this a indictment of liberalism.

  17. Ken says:

    In the fourth comment in, he says "I agree, and it's almost genius that this guy found an unbreakable loophole." That doesn't raise my esteem for him much. The defense having access to the evidence against the accused isn't a "loophole."

    And if anyone takes this as an indictment of all liberals or liberalism, that's sloppiness on my part. Some liberals are distinctly pro-defendants-rights. The headline says it better — being liberal does not make people reliably pro-defendant — particularly not in some types of cases (like, say, rape).

  18. Bob says:

    If he -wants- to see the evidence against him, he must be a guilty, why else would he -want- to watch child pornagraphy, right?

  19. Contracts says:

    @Justin T.:

    The sheriff probably runs the county jail, where this guy is incarcerated and actually watching the videos. And possession of such videos is, likely, against normal jail policy. So talking to the sheriff does make some sense.

  20. piperTom says:

    In answer to Xenocles, neither the viewing nor the possessing of child porn contributes to the victimization. The buying of it is different.

    Suppose we could change the law so that only buying (or producing) child porn was illegal. (Child porn, like music, is pirated.) Under the new law, many sad, demented people could satisfy their perverted lust without risk, without expense, and without enabling those who directly abuse children! The legislature, in its zeal to seem strongly intolerant of "badness" has, in fact, induced more of the badness. Note: this is not the first time this has happened.

  21. PLW says:

    Ohh, I don't know about that. If all the readers of Popehat went away, I bet there would be an appreciable decrease in the amount of quality legal-gaming-libertarian-art-history snark on the internet, even though none of us pay anything. There's not even any advertising.

  22. Xenocles says:

    @piperTom: I'm not really sure how that answers me. The issue is whether he should be allowed to view it as a part of the business before the court. If not, why should any others involved in that business be allowed to?

  23. piperTom says:

    @Xenocles: I propose that everyone be allowed to view. So the prosecutors, defense, and jurors are not exceptions to the basic rule.

  24. Richard Hershberger says:

    @ Ken:

    The comment he is agreeing with is this, in its entirety:

    "As much as I am pissed off about this, unfortunately it's not something we can prevent. The guy is acting as his own lawyer. Defense lawyers get access to all evidence. If we outlaw this, justice would NEVER get done in any case. Not sure how to change that without making seriously flawed laws that undermine justice….. "

    The loophole in the Gawker post, which you are so exercised about, is not that "a person accused of a terrible crime is entitled to review the evidence against him." It is that this person is has found a way to use this right to perform an otherwise illegal and immoral act. If you can manage to read this as "Nancy-Grace-style, law-and-order, hostile-to-rights-of-the-accused" then I can only stand back and admire your ingenuity. But I feel no urge to join you.

  25. Scott Jacobs says:

    The defense having access to the evidence against the accused isn’t a “loophole.”

    I've long since decided that whenever someone talks about a loophole, they are really just talking about a law they don't agree with.

    I'm sure plenty of far-left Liberals consider the 2nd Amendment to be a loophole, just like plenty of far-right Conservatives consider the protection "Pastor" Phelps' enjoys regarding his words under the 1st Amendment to be a loophole.

  26. Scott Jacobs says:

    It is that this person is has found a way to use this right to perform an otherwise illegal and immoral act.

    An illegal and immoral act, in the opinion of the sheriff.

    For all you fucking know, it's a DVD video of his niece at a pool party, sent to him by her parents.

    It isn't that we think you might be hostile to the rights of the accused, it's that you just assume he's guilty of what he's been charged with.

    Not unlike Nancy Grace.

  27. piperTom says:

    R. Hershberger: "this person [has] found a way … to perform an otherwise illegal and immoral act." I get the "illegal" part, but we are talking about viewing here. Not Making; not even Buying… so what's the "immoral" part? Explain how the viewing hurts anyone, please.

  28. vegas710 says:

    That assumes that everyone defines morality the same way you do. I'm guessing here but I would think that the majority of people don't define morality based on harm done to others.