Wednesday, May 18, 2011

If you are checking the blog from you car this morning...

...avoid US1. Horrible accident at 17th, and US1 is closed.

If you are stuck, here are some links:

1. The Taj Mahal judge is in trouble:

The appellate judge who orchestrated the construction of the elaborate "Taj Mahal" courthouse was charged Tuesday with abusing his authority as a judge, destroying public records and conduct that demonstrates he is unfit to hold office.

The charges against 1st District Court Judge Paul M. Hawkes were leveled by the Judicial Qualifications Commission after an investigation that focused on his push for a new $50-million courthouse in the midst of a budget crisis.

Hawkes' conduct and behavior "demonstrated a pattern of conduct that can only be characterized as intemperate, impatient, undignified and discourteous,'' the JQC alleged. That conduct has "brought the entire judiciary of the state of Florida into disrepute, has inflicted substantial harm upon the entire state court system and has therefore demeaned the entire court system of the state of Florida."

Seems like a scapegoat to me.

2. Justice Thomas speaks, but not at Court:

Thomas, who was born in nearby Pin Point, told the Augusta Bar Association that the downward spiral of public discourse from people who are "drunk on their own opinions" must come to an end.

"You don't just keep nagging and nagging and nagging. At some point it's got to stop. Sometimes, too much is too much," he said. "I think we are reaching the point where we are beginning to undermine the integrity of the law

3. The Fifth Circuit issues a strong opinion to keep courtrooms open to the public.

4. The Fourth Amendment is slowly dying. This is the latest opinion from the Supreme Court, and it was 8-1, with Alito writing the majority and only Ginsburg dissenting. It should come as no surprise that Kagan (the former SG) and Sotomayor (a former prosecutor) have no love for the 4th. From the Times:

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said police officers do not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches by kicking down a door after the occupants of an apartment react to hearing that officers are there by seeming to destroy evidence.

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the majority had handed the police an important new tool.

“The court today arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in drug cases,” Justice Ginsburg wrote. “In lieu of presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate, police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant.”

The case, Kentucky v. King, No. 09-1272, arose from a mistake. After seeing a drug deal in a parking lot, police officers in Lexington, Ky., rushed into an apartment complex looking for a suspect who had sold cocaine to an informant.

But the smell of burning marijuana led them to the wrong apartment. After knocking and announcing themselves, they heard sounds from inside the apartment that they said made them fear that evidence was being destroyed. They kicked the door in and found marijuana and cocaine but not the original suspect, who was in a different apartment.

The Kentucky Supreme Court suppressed the evidence, saying that any risk of drugs being destroyed was the result of the decision by the police to knock and announce themselves rather than obtain a warrant.

The United States Supreme Court reversed that decision on Monday, saying the police had acted lawfully and that was all that mattered. The defendant, Hollis D. King, had choices other than destroying evidence, Justice Alito wrote.

5. The second phase of the mortgage fraud trial started up yesterday before Judge Cohn. Thankfully Michael Walsh is OK and is participating. I hope he does well and am rooting for him and his client.

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