Why the Cops Who Beat Kelly Thomas to Death Should Not Be Tried Again

Like most
people who have watched the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas by
Fullerton police officers, I was dismayed at a jury’s decision
to acquit two
of them. Actually, dismayed does not quite cover it.
Flabbergasted is more like it. It is hard for me to
imagine how 12 people agreed that it was reasonable to view the
appalling violence that Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli
committed in subduing a pleading and apologetic Thomas as
legally justified. At the very least, the verdict seems to reflect
a disturbing deference to police, who too often get away with
actions that would be universally viewed as crimes if carried out
by someone without a badge.

Then again, I did not sit through the trial. I did not hear the
defense dissect the video frame by frame, arguing that at every
step police responded in a way that was appropriate given their
training. Something similar happened in the 1992 trial of the Los
Angeles cops who beat Rodney King. What looked like an obvious case
of police brutality seemed more ambiguous to the jury after it was
broken into its component pieces.

In both cases, I thought the jury got it wrong. But that
conviction, by itself, does not justify trying the defendants again
in the hope that another jury will get it right. That’s what
happened
in the Rodney King case: Two officers who were acquitted by a state
jury in 1992, a decision that triggered riots in the streets of Los
Angeles, were convicted by a federal jury in 1993. It looked a lot
like a justice system capitulating to mob violence. It also looked
a lot like double jeopardy, which the Fifth Amendment notionally
prohibits. It supposedly was not, thanks to the “dual sovereignty”
doctrine, which sanctions serial state and federal prosecutions for
the same actions based on the fiction that relabeling them makes
them into something new.

The understandable outrage provoked by the Kelly Thomas verdict
may likewise lead to federal charges, which his family
would like to see
. The FBI, which has been looking into the
case since 2011,
says
it will now examine the evidence and testimony presented
at the trial before deciding whether to charge the acquitted
officers with violating Thomas’ civil rights. But that sort of
review cannot answer the question of whether federal charges are
appropriate. Instead it will reveal whether federal prosecutors
might be able to obtain a conviction, which is not the same thing.
In the absence of evidence that the process by which Ramos and
Cicinelli were acquitted was fundamentally corrupt, such that their
trial was a sham—something no one has alleged—the federal
government has no business intervening.

To try Ramos and Cininelli again in anticipation of a different
result is the very definition of double jeopardy, no matter what
the Supreme Court says. That sort of second-guessing invites
arbitrary, politically driven prosecutions that threaten the
innocent as well as the guilty. If it can be wielded against brutal
cops you think should have been convicted, it can be wielded
against defendants whose acquittals were
entirely appropriate
. The safeguards that defendants enjoy
under our Constitution, including the ban on double jeopardy, do
not always produce just results, but they are better than the
alternative. 

The original Reason TV story on Thomas’ death:

 

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Senate Report: Attack on US Consulate in Benghazi Could Have Been Prevented

A Senate
Intelligence Committee report on the September 2012 assault on the
U.S. consulate in Benghazi blames the State Department and American
intelligence agencies for not preventing the attack, which resulted
in the deaths of four Americans.

From
The Washington Post
:

A long-delayed Senate intelligence committee
report released on Wednesday spreads blame among the State
Department and intelligence agencies for not preventing an attack
at an outpost in Libya that killed four Americans,
including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The bipartisan report lays out more than a dozen findings
regarding the Sept. 11, 2012 assault on the diplomatic compound in
the Libyan city of Benghazi. It says the State Department failed to
increase security at the compound despite warnings, and faults
intelligence agencies for not sharing information about the
existence of a secret CIA outpost at the site.

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Vid: The Brothel King – Dennis Hof on Prostitution, Wild West Libertarianism, and “Pimpin’ for Paul”

“Nevada’s the last of the live and let live states,” says Dennis
Hof, the self-described “Brothel King” and owner and proprieter of
Nevada’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch, made famous as the setting for the
HBO documentary series, Cathouse
(2005-2008). “I don’t care if you smoke weed. Don’t bother me
because I have a safe full of guns and work in the sex
business.”

Reason TV’s Zach Weissmueller sat down with Hof in his brothel
for a wide-ranging interview about sex, prostitution, black
markets, politics, and more.

Hof acquired the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in 1992 and systematically
pushed it into the public eye through a blend of showmanship,
attention-seeking, and media outreach he calls the “PT Barnum/Andy
Kaufman” school of marketing and publicity. In fact, he claims that
Andy Kaufman gave him the initial idea to buy the Bunny Ranch when
they partied there together in the late ’70s. 

 ”In about ’78, Kaufman said, ‘Dennis, let’s buy this place
and make it our den,'” says Hof (1:30).

Since then, Hof has gone on to acquire six more brothels, giving
him a huge share of a national market that only includes 17 total
brothels. This is because Nevada is the only state in the U.S. that
has legalized prostitution, and only in counties with populations
of less than 400,000. This, of course, rules out Clark County,
where Las Vegas is located.

“It’s illegal in Las Vegas, and look what you’ve got,” says Hof.
“You’ve got 2,000 girls a month being arrested. Lots of guys being
arrested, lives being ruined… Las Vegas is the sexual cesspool of
America.” (24:20)

He also points to the
remarkably high rate of HIV infection among prosititutes in Las
Vegas
. By contrast, he says, under the state’s regime of
mandatory STD testing, there has never been a
documented case of HIV
among licensed workers in Nevada’s
brothels.

Watch the whole interview above to hear Hof talk more about what
it’s like to run some of the country’s only legal brothels, as well
as stories about his run-ins with Sen. Harry Reid (7:10), his advice for
Anthony Weiner and Elliot Spitzer (17:45), and why he
started the group “Pimpin’ for [Ron] Paul” (18:17).

Click the link below for downloadable versions of this
video.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Sharif Matar and Will
Neff. Approximately 27 minutes.

Subscribe to Reason TV’s
YouTube channel
to receive automatic notification when new
material goes live.

View this article.

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Vid: The Brothel King – Dennis Hof on Prostitution, Wild West Libertarianism, and "Pimpin' for Paul"

“Nevada’s the last of the live and let live states,” says Dennis
Hof, the self-described “Brothel King” and owner and proprieter of
Nevada’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch, made famous as the setting for the
HBO documentary series, Cathouse
(2005-2008). “I don’t care if you smoke weed. Don’t bother me
because I have a safe full of guns and work in the sex
business.”

Reason TV’s Zach Weissmueller sat down with Hof in his brothel
for a wide-ranging interview about sex, prostitution, black
markets, politics, and more.

Hof acquired the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in 1992 and systematically
pushed it into the public eye through a blend of showmanship,
attention-seeking, and media outreach he calls the “PT Barnum/Andy
Kaufman” school of marketing and publicity. In fact, he claims that
Andy Kaufman gave him the initial idea to buy the Bunny Ranch when
they partied there together in the late ’70s. 

 ”In about ’78, Kaufman said, ‘Dennis, let’s buy this place
and make it our den,'” says Hof (1:30).

Since then, Hof has gone on to acquire six more brothels, giving
him a huge share of a national market that only includes 17 total
brothels. This is because Nevada is the only state in the U.S. that
has legalized prostitution, and only in counties with populations
of less than 400,000. This, of course, rules out Clark County,
where Las Vegas is located.

“It’s illegal in Las Vegas, and look what you’ve got,” says Hof.
“You’ve got 2,000 girls a month being arrested. Lots of guys being
arrested, lives being ruined… Las Vegas is the sexual cesspool of
America.” (24:20)

He also points to the
remarkably high rate of HIV infection among prosititutes in Las
Vegas
. By contrast, he says, under the state’s regime of
mandatory STD testing, there has never been a
documented case of HIV
among licensed workers in Nevada’s
brothels.

Watch the whole interview above to hear Hof talk more about what
it’s like to run some of the country’s only legal brothels, as well
as stories about his run-ins with Sen. Harry Reid (7:10), his advice for
Anthony Weiner and Elliot Spitzer (17:45), and why he
started the group “Pimpin’ for [Ron] Paul” (18:17).

Click the link below for downloadable versions of this
video.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Sharif Matar and Will
Neff. Approximately 27 minutes.

Subscribe to Reason TV’s
YouTube channel
to receive automatic notification when new
material goes live.

View this article.

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Judge Orders Feds to Correct Woman’s Inclusion on No-Fly List

The next remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" will have an Islamic terrorist on the wing that only a federal agent can see.In an important ruling
yesterday, a federal judge declared that the government must
actually fix the problem when it puts people on its “no-fly”
terrorist watch lists when it turns out they have no reason to be
on them.

From the
San Jose Mercury News
:

The federal government violated a former Stanford University
doctoral student’s legal rights nine years ago when it put her on
its secretive “no-fly” lists targeting suspected terrorists, a San
Francisco federal judge ruled Tuesday.

In a decision for the most part sealed, U.S. District Judge
William Alsup disclosed that Rahinah Ibrahim was mistakenly placed
on the controversial list and said that the government must now
clear up the mistake. The decision comes in a case that has for the
first time revealed how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
assembles the no-fly lists, used to tighten security in the
aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Obama administration has vigorously contested the case, the
first of its kind to reach trial, warning that it might reveal
top-secret information about the anti-terrorism program. As a
result, Alsup sealed his ruling until April to give the government
an opportunity to persuade a federal appeals court to keep the
order from being released publicly.

The administration’s efforts to “vigorously” contest the case
went so far as to ordering an airline to
not let Ibrahim’s daughter board a flight
to San Francisco in
December to testify at the trial. Given the petty tactics used by
the feds in this case, one wonders if they even have any reason
other than “OMG! Terrorists!” to keep the order sealed. If, for
example, you were an actual terrorist, wouldn’t you
already know why you’re on the no-fly list and once you found out,
wouldn’t you be able to figure out what information the feds would
likely have on you to keep you from flying? Are the feds trying the
argue that the average terrorist has so many balls in the air −
like the evil mastermind in some television spy serial − that he or
she needs to sue the government to find out which ones they’ve
figured out? The existence of the no-fly list itself and the
discovery that one is on it provides enough information to create
concerns for any actual terrorist that the feds know something is
going on.

Or, like analysis of NSA’s bulk metadata collection program

shows
, will public release of information about the “no fly”
list reveal it has not actually played any significant role in
stopping terrorist activity?

In August, a judge ruled that fliers are entitled to
due process
and that the federal “no fly” list must have a
redress procedure to clear the names of people who shouldn’t be on
there.

(Hat tip to CharlesWT.)

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U.S. Economic Freedom Keeps Slip-Sliding Away

Cash drawerLast year, the Heritage Foundation’s Index of
Economic Freedom ranked the United States as the
tenth freest economy
in the world; in this year’s just-released
Index, it comes in at
number 12. This sort of slide actually isn’t a new phenomenon;
Jesse Walker noted
when the Index first dropped the U.S. out of the top ten, which was
“partly a matter of other countries getting better, as opposed to
the United States getting worse.” Since then, though, the land of
the brave and home of the free-ish has been sliding on its own
merits, “with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom
from corruption, and control of government spending.” Even non-fans
of the Heritage Foundation’s number-crunching style should note
that an even more dramatic decline in America’s economic freedom is
reported by Canada’s Fraser Institute.

Overall score

According to the 2014 entry
for the United States at the Index of Economic Freedom:

The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic
freedom each of the past seven years. The overall U.S. score
decline from 1995 to 2014 is 1.2 points, the fourth worst drop
among advanced economies.

Substantial expansion in the size and scope of government,
including through new and costly regulations in areas like finance
and health care, has contributed significantly to the erosion of
U.S. economic freedom. The growth of government has been
accompanied by increasing cronyism that has undermined the rule of
law and perceptions of fairness.

This is after a gradual rise in the country’s economic
freedom ranking relative to other countries during the first ten
years of the index. While sniffer-outers of partisanship may wonder
why government spending received a better (though sliding) score
during George W. Bush’s not-so-frugal years than during Barack
Obama’s continuation of those policies, Bill Clinton’s tenure looks
like one of moderate improvement.

Government Spending

It’s probably not a shocker that property rights have suffered a
steady decline through the years—not just in the U.S. but around
the world.

The Index of Economic Freedom doesn’t stand alone in its
assessment. 

The Fraser Institute’s Economic
Freedom of the World: 2013
Annual Report
(PDF) agrees that
the country is slip-sliding in the rankings.

Throughout most of period from 1980 to 2000, the United States
ranked as the world’s third-freest economy, behind Hong Kong and
Singapore. As Exhibit 1.5 indicates, the chain-linked summary
rating of the United States in 2000 was 8.65, second only to Hong
Kong. By 2005, the US rating had slipped to 8.21 and its ranking
fallen to 8th. The slide has continued. The United States placed
16th in 2010 and 19th in 2011. The 7.74 chain-linked rating of the
United States in 2011 was nearly a full point less than the 2000
rating.

What accounts for the decline of economic freedom in the United
States? While the US ratings and rankings have fallen in all five
areas of the EFW index, the reductions have been largest in Legal
System and Property Rights (Area 2), Freedom to Trade
Internationally (Area 4), and Regulation (Area 5). The plunge in
Area 2 has been huge. In 2000, the 9.23 rating of the United States
was the ninth highest in the world. But by 2011, the area rating
had slid to 6.93, placing the United States 38th worldwide. The
2.30-point reduction in the Area 2 rating of the United States was
tied with Venezuela as the largest reduction among the countries
rated.

That’s an even more dramatic fall from grace than the Index
indicates.

The U.S. now ranks behind Canada economic-freedom-wise in both
the Fraser and Heritage assessments. In fact,
U.S. federal policies now threaten the competitiveness
, Fraser
reports, of U.S. states that seek to make it easier to earn and
keep money and property.

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A. Barton Hinkle Says Protecting Kids From Predators Doesn’t Require Bigotry

Some Virginia public
officials seem to have trouble grasping an extremely simple
concept: Protecting children from sexual predation does not require
drawing distinctions among different types of sex. Had he
emphasized that point more, state Sen. Tom Garrett might have
spared himself a great deal of grief. A. Barton Hinkle discusses
regulating the “who” and “where” of sex, without getting involved
in the “how” of it.

View this article.

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A. Barton Hinkle Says Protecting Kids From Predators Doesn't Require Bigotry

Some Virginia public
officials seem to have trouble grasping an extremely simple
concept: Protecting children from sexual predation does not require
drawing distinctions among different types of sex. Had he
emphasized that point more, state Sen. Tom Garrett might have
spared himself a great deal of grief. A. Barton Hinkle discusses
regulating the “who” and “where” of sex, without getting involved
in the “how” of it.

View this article.

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Bill Kristol Self-Parody Alert

For full protection against a pundit's gaseous emissions.The editor of The Weekly
Standard
wishes we would all just get over World War I
already. You can’t really appreciate his editorial on the subject
unless you experience the inanity in
full
, but if I had to pick out a representative line, it would
be this one: “perhaps a century of increasingly unthinking bitter
disgust with our heritage is enough.”

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