Friday, November 12, 2021

News and notes

1. The Rittenhouse trial.  Lots of talk about the defendant taking the stand and the tongue lashing that the state is getting throughout the trial.  But how about the judge not understanding how zooming works on an ipad.  Oh boy

The man responsible for overseeing the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial has some questions about how iPad's pinch-to-zoom feature works, and he’d really like an expert witness to explain it to him. On Wednesday, Judge Bruce Schroeder disallowed Kenosha County prosecutor Thomas Binger from showing evidence on an iPad that would require the use of the built-in zoom feature. The reason? Well, as Judge Schroeder tried and failed to articulate, maybe pinching and zooming, you know, does stuff to change the image?

"What [the defense is] saying, I think, and I know less than anyone in the room, I'm sure, about all of this stuff, but I'm hearing him to say that they are actually artificially inserting pixels into there, which is altering the object which is being portrayed," observed the judge.

This, as anyone who uses a modern smartphone knows, is not how pinch-to-zoom works. But, in the hopes of explaining it to the judge, we reached out to Apple for its thoughts on this technical dilemma.

We received no immediate response. Which is too bad, as Judge Schroeder really wanted someone to explain it to him.

"You're the proponent," he told the prosecutor, "and you need to assure me before I let the jury speculate on it that [pinch-to-zoom] is a reliable method that does not distort what is depicted."

The judge's dumbfounding technical obliviousness kicked off when Rittenhouse’s defense attorney, Mark Richards, also admitted he didn’t understand what he was talking about. You can watch the jaw-dropping exchange, starting around the the 5 hour, 2 minute and 26 second mark, in the below video uploaded by the Washington Post.
"iPads, which are made by Apple, have artificial intelligence in them that allow things to be viewed through three dimensions and logarithms," he told the judge. 
Again, this was in service of Richards' effort to prevent the use of pinch-to-zoom.

2. Blogs matter.  Congress is investigating a law clerk's "a history of nakedly racist and hateful conduct."  Jerry Nadler and Hank Johnson have sent the following letter to Chief Justice Roberts.  Footnote 1 of the letter cites to posts at Above the Law about the clerk.

3. Finally, defense lawyers are trying to keep Al Sharpton out of the Ahmaud Arbery trial gallery.  Another oh boy:  

An attorney representing one of three men on trial in the deadly shooting of Ahmaud Arbery made a bizarre request Thursday afternoon when he called for the judge in the case to ban Black pastors from the courtroom gallery.

“We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here,” Kevin Gough, who represents William “Roddie” Bryan, told the judge before the jury returned from their lunch break.

The Brunswick attorney for the man who recorded the cellphone video of Arbery’s death has repeatedly taken issue with the ongoing demonstrations on courthouse grounds during the widely publicized, racially charged trial.

Gough was referring to an appearance by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who sat in on some of Wednesday’s court proceedings and held a lunchtime prayer vigil outside the courthouse. During his remarks on the courthouse steps, Sharpton criticized the racial composition of the nearly all-white jury overhearing the case, calling it “an insult to the intelligence of the American people.”


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