Tuesday, October 31, 2006

There Go De Judge? Let's Hope So

A little more than a week from now, if Jesus tarries* and Utah voters are wise, Judge Leslie Lewis will be out of a job. Utterly devoid of judicial temperament or corresponding intellectual endowments, Lewis, who has afflicted the state's 3rd District Court for several years, has been targeted for recall by a citizen's group outraged over an incident last February in which she ordered the arrest of a courtroom spectator for leaving the room.

The spectator, Kent Jacobson, was on hand for a hearing involving his brother Michael, who was accused of (and later found guilty of) a poaching-related offense. Little Miss Lewis (hereafter referred to by her given name, as is appropriate in dealing with any other ill-behaved child) is apparently one of those misguided people who view nature through a Disney filter: The wild is a joyous realm in which anthropomorphized animals gambol about, speaking English and playing soccer, and every hunter is a heartless bipedal predator bent on slaughtering Bambi's Mother.

Because of her strong feelings about hunting, Leslie recused herself from the case, but like any other termagant unduly infatuated with the sound of her voice, she had to say her piece before doing so. This she did at great and (owing to the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard quality of said voice) excruciating length, mocking and ridiculing not only the accused poacher, but hunters in general.

“I have a prejudice concerning deer hunters and people who kill deal and transport deer that have been shot,” Leslie sniped, according to a transcript of the incident. “Have you ever actually looked at a deer when they're alive?... And it doesn't bother you that you can see its heart beating?... I'm asking you a question, I expect an answer.”

No doubt acting on an impulse shared with others in the courtroom, Kent Jacobson, heaving a weary sigh, left the courtroom – which was an act of gentlemanly restraint in the face of Leslie's arrogant, juvenile provocation. In a fit of childish pique over the fact that a member of her audience was leaving in disgust, Leslie directed a taunt at Mr. Jacobson: “Are we boring you?” When Jacobson left the room without replying, Leslie sicced the Bailiff on him.

“Now, why did you feel the need to make such an explosive and clear indication of your displeasure or boredom at being here?” Leslie upbraided Kent Jacobson, once he had been dragged in front of her.

Bear in mind, that 1) Leslie had asked Kent a question, and 2) that she had just ordered Kent's brother Michael to answer a previous question. Like any rational adult, Kent proceeded to supply an answer.

“OK, it's not just the displeasure of being bored here,” he began, offering a fully responsive answer to the question just asked by the snitty, arrogant little girl play-acting the role of a judge. “The problem is, we have just as much rights of going out and shooting deer as you have the right...”

Following some brief cross-talk, little Leslie ordered that Mr. Jacobson be arrested – for the supposed offense of answering a question he had been asked in court.

“Put him in custody,” snipped the little caniform female to the Bailiff, before directing some more trash-talk at Mr. Jacobson. “I'm not going to argue with you, and you have no business chastising me, sir, and I did not make a comment you have any right to correct.... I don't want to hear a word from you. You and I are not in the same position, we are not having a dialogue.”

“I was bored,” mumbled Mr. Jacobsen as the Bailiff took him away.

“You're bored?” mocked little Leslie from the bench. “Let's see how you feel in the holding cell.”

At this point, if this incident had taken place in a self-governing community in a free country, one of two things would have happened: Either the Bailiff would have refused to carry out this patently illegal arrest, or the spectators in the courtroom would have interdicted that arrest. But the Bailiff obeyed the illegal order, and the spectators passively permitted Leslie to commit the crime of false imprisonment.

(Click here to see a video recording of this incident.)

Leslie's little tantrum reminded me of a similarly repellent episode that took place about a year ago.

In October 2005, the then-CEO of the company that until recently employed me was forced to resign. As he left the office, carrying a company-purchased laptop computer, the former CEO was gently and respectfully accosted by a meek but dutiful company officer, who had to check to see if any of the company's proprietary information was still on the laptop. This is called “due diligence,” just as Kent Jacobsen's composed and polite comments to Leslie is properly described as “answering a question posed by a judge.”

According to several eyewitnesses, the ex-CEO whirled on the company official (who may be the most unassuming person I've ever met) and hissed at him: “I can still fire you.”

That's what was on the tip of that guy's brain, as it were, as he was resigning his position. He was not thinking about the company's future, or dwelling on considerations of his family's financial well-being; he was entirely preoccupied with the thought that he was losing the ability to fire people.

I suspect that similar fleeting impulses ricocheted around in Leslie's uncluttered mind as she dealt with Michael and Kent Jacobsen. Because of her irrational aversion to hunting, she was going to miss out on sending someone to jail – unless, of course, she could provoke Michael into doing something that could be construed as contempt of court. Michael didn't commit that offense. Neither did Kent, as the record reflects; he was, after all, trying to answer an open-ended question posed by the silly little girl playing dress-up in judicial robes on that occasion.

But Leslie was determined to send someone to jail, if only to demonstrate that she was “not in the same position” as the hoi polloi on hand to witness her descent into pure, unalloyed adolescent spite.

Kent Jacobsen spent several hours in state custody. That is an atrocity, a form of kidnapping – and it is the defining offense of what has been a hugely embarrassing judicial career. Leslie is as unqualified to be a judge as she is to be a pole dancer, although in the latter career she would have inflicted less damage on society.

Repulsive as her behavior is, Leslie is merely a symptom, in much the same way that an acutely painful rectal itch might be a warning sign of a potentially fatal cancer. The key to understanding why this is so can be found in two things: Leslie's arrogant statement that as a judge she was “not in the same position” as common citizens, and the obedience rendered to her by the Bailiff and the courtroom spectators.

As Roger Roots points out in a thought-provoking historical survey published by Seton Hall Constitutional Law Journal, our present system of “law enforcement” is based on collectivist premises entirely foreign to our constitutional system and common law heritage.

“Under the common law, there was no difference whatsoever between the privileges, immunities, and powers of the constables and those of private citizens,” writes Roots in summarizing his findings. “Constables were literally and figuratively clothed in the same garments as everyone else and faced the same liabilities – civil and criminal – as everyone else under identical circumstances.

Until the late 1800s, “police were a sanitation and repair workforce more than a corps of crime-fighting gun-slingers,” he continues. “Sheriff Wyatt Earp of OK Corral fame, for example, repaired boardwalks as part of his duties.” It wasn't until the dawn of the 20th Century that American communities alienated the law enforcement role – once carried out by Sheriffs, their deputies, and deputized posses of citizens – to professional police officers endowed with exceptional powers and prerogatives.

The most provocative finding in Roots' study, and the one most relevant to the incident in Judge Leslie's courtroom, is the following:

“Nothing illustrates the modern disparity between the rights and powers of police and citizen as much as the modern law of resisting arrest. At the time of the nation's founding, any citizen was privileged to resist arrest if, for example, probable cause for arrest did not exist or the arresting person could not produce a valid arrest warrant where one was needed..... [As recently as a century ago, police officers] who executed an arrest without proper warrant were themselves considered trespassers, and any trespassee had a right to violently resist (or even assault and batter) an officer to evade such arrest.”

"You're out of order! This WHOLE TRIAL is out of order!"

Under that standard – assuming that Roots' findings are reliable – Kent Jacobsen would have been fully within his legal and constitutional rights to resist the arrest order issued by Judge Leslie, and the courtroom spectators would have acted properly had they taken action to prevent Kent's arrest.

It should be remembered that the kind of outrage inflicted on Kent Jacobsen is hardly uncommon; in fact, summary execution during unjustified arrest is becoming distressingly common.

To cite just two examples:

*Last February, 43-year-old Michael Kreca was murdered by San Diego police when the mild-mannered, non-violent tech writer refused to submit to an utterly unjustified arrest. Kreca had been walking in Sorrento Mesa when he was accosted by two officers who claimed to have had heard gunshots. Kreca, who was carrying a firearm (as any rational person would when walking alone in San Diego) told the officers he had not been shooting and hadn't heard gunshots. He consented to a body search that turned up a 9mm pistol in the waistband of his baggy clothes.

One officer, Samantha Fleming, told Kreca that she was going to handcuff him “for her safety,” according to an official report. “No, you're not going to do that,” replied Kreca. “Let me go; I want to leave.” As he tried to leave, the other officer – Sergeant Elmer Edwards -- placed his gun against Kreca's chest and fired twice, killing him.

What a hero.

The official inquiry ruled that Sgt. Edwards “acted within the law,” since California statutes permit police “to use deadly force to protect themselves and members of the public from serious injury or death” -- which means, in practice, that police officers in that jurisdiction can murder civilians without consequence, unless said citizens are members of a protected minority class.

*Just yesterday, police in Jerseyville, Illinois killed 17-year-old Roger Holyfield, a youth who apparently suffered from emotional problems. Someone had called the police to complain about Holyfield's behavior: He was carrying a Bible and a cordless phone and shouting “I want Jesus!”

The troubled youth reportedly suffered from bipolar disorder, and from my admittedly untrained perspective, that seems like a plausible explanation. (“Religious preoccupation” is a common symptom of bi-polar disorder.) Rather than being treated as sick person needing treatment, the young man was treated as a threat to officer safety: He was surrounded by a scrum of police and Tasered twice when he became “combative.” Rushed to a nearby hospital, Holyfield became unresponsive; he was medevaced to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis, where he died.

According to an eyewitness, four police, two State Troopers, and a plainclothes officer were deployed to deal with the supposed threat posed by one sick teenager armed with a Bible. Another commented that there were more than enough men on hand to subdue the youth without shooting him twice with 50,000 volts of electricity. Another witness contended that the police had acted properly: “[Holyfield] was struggling, he was resisting. [The police] did what the could to hold him down.”

Really? Seven tax-fattened heroes did everything they could to avoid using a consistently lethal “non-lethal” weapon on a sick, unarmed, non-violent teenager? Or did they simply do what was convenient, in the serene confidence that they wouldn't be held responsible if that young man died?

All of these episodes illustrate the often murderous impunity enjoyed by those who have been given a state-issued license to kidnap and kill other human beings. That license needs to be revoked immediately, from as many of those people as possible – and evicting Leslie Lewis from her judicial post in Utah would be a splendid way to begin.

*When I use the expression “if Jesus tarries,” I'm not being profane; I'm expressing frustrated impatience.

Oh, and my apologies to Flip Wilson, as well as his brothers Fetch and Scrud (that's an allusion to Utah's disinctive patois, of course.)


Jeff Taylor said...

I'm don't like hunting myself but I also dislike judicial tyranny. I watched the video of the judge. Typical arrogance of someone who has let power go to her head.

Will, this is off-topic but I wanted you to know that I've cited your blog in an article I wrote for CounterPunch. I hope some of the liberals at CP will drop by and see what an intelligent and principled conservative looks like. My original piece is here. It's been formatted by the Antiwar League for easier reading and has a clickable link to your site here. The AWL, by the way, is trying to construct a Left-Middle-Right coalition to oppose war. It's a far cry from the warmed-over-hippie, free-Mumia, hail-Marx movement against war from the doctrinaire Left. Some of your readers may be interested in checking it out.

Anonymous said...

"Repulsive as her behavior is, Leslie is merely a symptom, in much the same way that an acutely painful rectal itch might be a warning sign of a potentially fatal cancer."


This post was such a joy to read.

And thanks for the Pacino quote. I love Pacino and was unaware of this film. I have since added it to the top of my Netflix queue and am eagerly awaiting it in my mailbox (after I get one of the other three films I have out sent back).

dixiedog said...

At this point, if this incident had taken place in a self-governing community in a free country, one of two things would have happened: Either the Bailiff would have refused to carry out this patently illegal arrest, or the spectators in the courtroom would have interdicted that arrest. But the Bailiff obeyed the illegal order, and the spectators passively permitted Leslie to commit the crime of false imprisonment.

That be it! I've said it before Will; the people are by far the problem, not government agents such as this judge that basically reflect the mindset of the folk at large. IOW, folk like you and probably most of the commenters here are tiny minorities who see that judge as repulsive and unfit.

It's real simple, either the commoners act in accordance with Burke's timeless premise and are consequently apathetic and suffer accordingly and predictably, OR the commoners actually want government's agents to be proactive and overreactive and suffer accordingly and predictably. There no longer is any consideration by many, if not most, commoners of the constitutionally sound principled position and the noisy resolve to restrain government accordingly.

Again, the commoners are either in agreement, however coarse (macht nichts), or are lazy, rudderless, and consequently apathetic. Either way, it's a fatalistic mindset to harbor and, hence, the death of freedom, as the Founders envisioned it, is also inevitable either way.

Yes, there are exceptions in small pockets of the country where folk take notice of constitutional breaches, whether seemingly insignificant or major power grabs, by government. However, among the commoners at large, there is no such notice and many/most could not care less.

The bottom line, as I mentioned in a previous thread, is that folk are more terrified of losing their jobs than they are terrified of losing their freedom. The reason being is that the term "freedom" in the modern sense is so vague and almost meaningless since no one is chained as literal slaves they cannot imagine it in their minds like they can losing their livelihood, for instance. To most, if they could only have sex and do drugs without restraint, they'd think they were "free." Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association is not at all what most think about when they think of f r e e d o m at all.


dixiedog said...

OT Will, and it's not my intent to hijack the comment thread, but I just have to mention it. I actually agree with John Kerry's missive he blurted out recently that has the conservative commentariat in an uproar. When he intimated, in essence, that only the "uneducated" (actually those who possess no sheepskin or attend a center of higher indoctrination for the purpose of obtaining that sheepskin) end up being cannon fodder is dead right. It's all about economics like I mentioned in a past thread as well. Folk don't voluntarily join the military out of some wacked out vision of extreme patriotism for the country that must be mysteriously lacking in others who avoid the same. No, they like anybody else don't have some mad desire to kill foreign folk for fun. They just joined the imperial service to try to get ahead in life.

Imagine that...

Anyway, before my blood pressure rises to much, I'll leave it at that.

kishnevi said...

Specifically about hunting and not about judges on power trips:

Do you realize the Bible agrees with Her Dishonor? It marks out Nimrod as the first hunter, and Nimrod isn't exactly the best role model, I think you will agree. And any animal killed through hunting is considered by the Pentateuchal laws as being unfit to eat.

Jeff Taylor said...

I've never heard of a scriptural prohibition on hunting. I do know that Adam and Eve were created as vegetarians in Eden. Meat-eating was a concession that was granted only after the Flood.

dixiedog said...

Indeed, rick. One has to possess the ability to discriminate b/w the message and the messenger and most cannot or will not discriminate. You know, all the messages being dissiminated about the e v i l s of discrimination probably have ingrained themselves into the minds of the serfs ;). That Kerry tree obscures the forest, ya see.

Whatever...I'm looking forward to the pendulum swingin' wildly in the other direction next Tuesday. Yippee!.....Y-a-w-n.

dixiedog said...

BTW Will, a perfect illustration of how the commoners are providing in vivid detail their desire to be obedient serfs is the following exchange from the transcripts, right off the top as it turns out:

Lewis: "And it doesn't bother you that you can see its heart beating?" (pause) "I'm asking you a question, I expect an answer."
Michael Jacobson: "Yeah."
Lewis: "Were you starving? Did you need the meat?"
Michael Jacobson: "I wasn't the one that shot the animal."
Lewis: "Would you have stopped your friend?"
Michael Jacobson: "Nope, I wasn't there at all."

Mr. Michael Jacobson answered the questions above just like a wannabe serf.

Instead of answering the second inquiry directly above, with no added nuance thrown in, he implies that shooting the animal is bad right off the top with: "I wasn't the one that shot the animal." After supplying that kind of answer, one might as well suck it up, shut down any defense you had in mind, and simply pay the piper. End of story.

I've met the enemy and the enemy is us. The commoners are their own worst enemies and provide the impetus for the elitists to continue unhindered herding the cattle into their pre-fab'd corral, Will.

Captain Kirk said...


On the subject of abuse of authority, I think it gets worse the higher the public official is up on the food chain. This is a long comment, so I apologize in advance for the length.

There allegedly was a murder here in Placer County last year. No corpse was recovered, no murder waepon was found. The woman, one Christy Wilson simply disappeared. A man, by the name of Garcia was arrested and charged with Capital Murder and is currently being tried on what appears to solely be circumstantial evidence. This, however is strictly background to my point as the above matter is entirely another kettle of fish.

Early on in the investigation, a student at my son's middle-school was identified as someone who might have critical information in the case. The Community Service Officer, an employee of the local PD and a detective, took the girl off of campus for questioning without the prior knowledge or consent of the girl's legal guardian which in this case is the step-mother. The step-mom threw a fit. The PD officer was "fired" from the local school district as the Community Service Officer and the PD demoted him one grade.

Compare this to a situation where a 14 year old girl (a high school freshman) in Sacramento allowed some content on her MySpace page last year that suggested harm be done to the Emperor. The offending content on the MySpace page was "Kill Bush". The girl was 13 years old and in the 8th grade when the offending content was published.

A month or so ago, the Secret Service (SS here for short, befitting, no?) called the girl's home and informed her mother that they needed to speak with her daughter. The mother informed the SS that she was in class and she didn't want to pull the girl out of class and that the girl would be home in a short time. The mother also made it known to the SS that she wanted to be present during the interview.

Upon terminating the phone call, the SS drove to the school, pulled the girl out of class and grilled her in a separate room, scaring the crap out of her in the process. The Principle was aware of all of this and when asked why she didn't immediately call the mother, she remarked that parents often "get in the way" during such investigatory interviews and as such, she doesn't call the parents when something like this is taking place at the school.

It is obvious to anyone with at least three neurons linked together in series that this girl was not a genuine threat. The fact that it took the SS the better part of a year to show up indicates that they didn't consider her a genuine or immediate threat either.

A small-town policeman got his buttocks handed to him for doing essentially the same thing that the SS did. The SS agents suffered no repercussions; and the high school Principle totally caved in, as it seems to me that she was/is more interested in protecting her job that protecting the students she is charged with (a point you made in your blog, Will). I assert that the higher up one goes in either the Executive or Judiciary Branches, the chances of having to face the consequences for breaking the law, rules or regulations, is correspondingly reduced. In the words of my son, "That's messed up dude."

jose hosel [old raffin] said...

So will Jesus get rid of this judge, then?