Friday, February 23, 2018

Should judges be armed?

Should judges be armed?

The big debate of the day is whether teachers should be armed.  Rumpole discusses it over at his blog today.  Sheriff Israel's answer during the town hall was the best one I've heard: "Teachers should teach" and not be armed.

What about judges?  Former Chief Judge Norman Roettger (1930-2003) used to carry on the bench even though guns were not permitted in the federal courthouses.  He also allowed his court reporter to carry.  Judge Roettger was quite a character.  He had a huge handle-bar mustache.  He was a maverick. 

One of my first hearings was in front of Judge Roettger.  I was a federal public defender and it was a change of plea.  And the government had just started trying to get appellate waivers in agreements.  I couldn't get this new prosecutor to take it out and I was very frustrated.  My supervisor at the time told me to leave the waiver in the agreement and watch what happened when Roettger saw it.  Roettger BLASTED the prosecutor.  He asked him whether he worked for the Department of Justice or the Department of INJustice.  Why would they want the defendant to waive appeal.  What if the judge made a mistake.  Roettger took out a big sharpie and crossed it out in a very dramatic fashion and told the prosecutor to come sign the cross out.  It was quite a show.

Who has some good Judge Roettger stories? 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Is Customs asking people for their papers in the courthouse?

Is Customs asking people for their papers in the courthouse?

I have heard it from reliable sources that agents from Customs and Border Protection have been seen in the Wilkie Ferguson Courthouse asking people for identification.  Has anyone else seen this?

Are people going to federal court now to worry that they are going to be confronted by federal agents?

Don’t our federal agents have better things to be doing?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Raising money for the victims in Parkland

This is a personal post, so forgive me in advance.

My15-year old daughter’s nonprofit organization is trying to raise money for the victims’ families in Parkland.  She is a high-school freshman and wants to help.

Her nonprofit,, sponsors a new charity each month and donates all profits to worthy causes.  She has designed a special shirt devoted to the Parkland victims.  100% of the profits will go to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

These kids, who are trying to make change, are really inspiring.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Being "a little defensive" is not enough for a Terry Stop.

Jill Pryor wrote this unpublished opinion (United States v. Heard) last week, holding that the motion to suppress should have been granted because being "a little defensive" in response to questioning isn't enough to conduct a Terry stop:
Patrick Heard appeals his conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2). After careful review, with the benefit of oral argument, we conclude that the officers who arrested Heard lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct a Terry1 stop. Because his motion to suppress should have been granted, we vacate Heard’s conviction and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Bisker parked his car and approached Heard. Bisker asked Heard whether he had heard gunshots; Heard said that he had and indicated that the gunshots came from the woods behind him. Bisker asked Heard for identification, and Heard provided him with ID. Heard’s identification did not confirm that he lived within the apartment complex,4 so Bisker asked where Heard lived. Heard said that his mother lived there and pointed to the apartment building closest to where he was standing with his small dog. Bisker believed this response to be “a little defensive” and an indirect answer to his question. Doc. 69 at 20. Bisker then asked Heard for his mother’s apartment number, and Heard did not provide a number.5 Bisker observed that Heard was swaying slightly. Based on his swaying and “overall demeanor,” Bisker thought “possibly [Heard] . . . wasn’t supposed to be there.” Id. at 20-21. At some point during the brief conversation Heard told Bisker he was there to walk his dog.

Why is this opinion unpublished?

Friday, February 16, 2018

You're invited

 Please RSVP to: and seating in the ceremonial courtroom will be on a first-come first-served basis.