Everyday Erinyes #65

 Posted by at 8:05 am  Politics
Mar 112017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are always many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I am going to simplify things for the Furies this week, because, expected to come up next week, there will begin the confirmation hearings for the position in the Trump administration which has the greatest potential to do the longest lasting harm to the American people.  More harm, and longer lasting than Scott Pruitt?  I hear someone ask.  Yes.  I am talking about Neil Gorsuch, the Resident's nominee to the Supreme Court.

Paul Gordon, for People for the American Way, has prepared a report on Judge Gorsuch.  It's called "Real People, Real Lives: The Harm Caused by Judge Gorsuch."  Now, I am sure that even a President who is himself a Constitutional lawyer will ask for recommendations when there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court to fill.  That isn't a problem.  This is a problem:

When Donald Trump was running for president, he outsourced his future selection of potential Supreme Court nominees to two right wing organizations, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. They provided him a list of 21 people who were acceptable to them, Trump promised to select a nominee from the list they gave him, and they and their right wing colleagues agreed to support him. Neil Gorsuch was nominated as the product of this political arrangement.

Mr. Gordon, after this introduction, sets forth twelve cases actually decided by Judge Gorsuch during his tenure as a judge, and then ends with a conclusion.  Here is his Table of Contents:

 1 No Understanding of Sexual Harassment in the Real World
 2 Medical Device Maker Pushes Misuse of Product
 3 Gorsuch and Children with Autism
 4 No Leave Extension for Leukemia Patient
 5 Excessive Force
 6 Worker Dies Due to Inadequate Training
 7 Die or Be Fired
 8 Defer to the Governor, Facts Notwithstanding
 9 No Understanding of Another’s Perspective
10 Sex Discrimination
11 The Most Vulnerable
12 The Sixth Amendment: Undermining the Right to Counsel
13 Conclusion

That makes it sound like the report is practically a book.  It isn't really.  If you printed the whole thing out as a PDF, it would be 26 pages, or roughly 2 pages per case discussed.  In 16 point type (you're used to seeing 12 point), with the chapter headings in 28 point, with a lot of space between them and the text before and after.  So it's practically a walk in the park to read through (except for the ourageous results, which are hard on the blood pressure.)  But I'll provide here a little information about a few of the cases whose nature is not obvious from the title.

In Chapter 5, for instance, titled "Excessive Force," the force in question was a taser aimed from about 10 feet away at the victim, who died of it.  His bereaved parents brought suit against the City.  Judge Gorsuch dismissed the case.  made sure it did not even get to trial.

In Chapter 7, "Die or Be Fired," a trucker was hauling cargo in subzero weather, and his brakes froze.  He stopped and reported the problem to the company, then waited for a repair person.  Who did not show (may never have shown – it's not exactly clear who did come to do the repair.)  The heater in his cab was not working, and, remember, this is subzero weather.  After a couple of hours, he was numb and his speech was slurred.  He called the company twice more, the second time to notify the company he was going to unhitch the cab and drive for help and return (already an iffy plan with the shape he was in.) The company told him not to leave the cargo (in the trailer with the frozen brakes.  Right.) 

He drove for help anyway, and returned within about FIFTEEN MINUTES with assistance.  A week later, he was fired.  For abandoning his cargo.

Fortunately this case did not end tragically, since the Labor Department found for him, and it was upheld upon Administrative Review in the Tenth Circuit.  With Judge Gorsuch dissenting.  The law, he said, protects a driver who refuses to drive an unsafe vehicle.  It doesn't protect a driver who drives in a way he was instructed not to.
In Chapter 11, "The Most Vulnerable" applies to children with disabilities (and by extension to their guardians.)  The case hinged on the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) requirement that before going to court, a claimant must have exhausted all IDEA administrative remedies.  Simply put (and probably from a legal standpoint inaccurately), Judge Gorsuch's position was that if you get a school district to the point of agreeeing that your child has a disability (but won't do anything about it), you will never be able to exhaust administrative remedies, because you will have "settled."  Gordon quotes another judge who explains how – um – against Congressional intent that is.

Dear Furies, I am not going to ask you to go after Judge Gorsuch.  He ia a lost cause.  No, instead I would like for Alecto to concentrate on all of the Democratic Senators and help them stiffen their backbones to filibuster and do whatever they can to prevent this confirmation.  You can (and probably should) share this report with them and encourage them to ask hard questions in the hearings based on the stupidest of the decisions.  Megaera and Tisiphone, I'd like for you to concentrate on the Republican Senators.  If we can keep the Democratic Senators firm (I know, that's a big if – maybe Tisiphone should pick up Manchin), it will only take two Republicans to deny him confirmation.

Gorsuch is only 49.  That is quite young for a Supreme Court Justice.  He could be there for as much as forty years.  I find that unthinkable.  Ladies, best of luck.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4041623


Everyday Erinyes #46

 Posted by at 10:09 am  Politics
Oct 082016

I have two items today which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

Barely had I posted #45 than I got an email which made me say "WTF!"  The subject line was "Death Penalty bill Includes public pregnancy examination for accused women, antiquated 'retard' provisions"  It was from Progress Now New Mexico.  After three articles of picking on places the staff live, I was hoping for something from Colorado, but next door is as close as I could get.  And, although the bill in question will not be considered in this session, in fact pursuing it will apparently now wait till January, I wanted to share it because it is not every day we see a legislative story with so many kinds of ick in just one bill.  Death penalty – women's health – mental illness.  Quite an achievement.

A little history here.  New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009.  At that time there was a Democratic Governor as well as a Democratic majority in both legislative houses.  Today the Democratic majority in the Senate is all that is left of that.  So far in 2016 there have been a couple of high profile cases involving LEOs being killed, and one even higher profile case involving the death and dismemberment of a child.  The Governor and the rest of her party seized upon this to push reinstating the death penalty – specifically for people who kill children and/or LEOs, whether in police or in corrections. 

Enter HB 7.  You can read the full bill at that link, but unless you are a lawyer, you may prefer the report on the website of Progress Now New Mexico.  Right away you will se an image that appears to have nothing to do with the death penalty.  Ah, but it does.dpnm

Section 18 of HB7 requires judges to “inquire into the question” of pregnancy of female death row defendants by having three physicians conduct physical examinations of the woman, in open court before a judge and witnesses, if a woman is suspected of or raises the question of pregnancy…. The sponsors would require these procedures to be forced on convicted women and performed in open court, though she can ask for the courtroom door to be closed.

Then there are the sections on "mental retardation" and "insanity."  Since what used to be called "mental retardation" is now recognized as a mental disability, this will be interesting.  "Insanity" can postpone execution, but if the indivudal "recovers sanity" the execution is to proceed as directed.  Does this remind anyone besides me of Catch-22?

Dear ladies, here's what I'd like to see – I'd like to see the New Mexico Senate remain in Democratic control, and the House transition to Democratic control (The Governor is not up this year).  If you listen to Republicans, an election that is rigged by supernatural beings does not count as a rigged election.  Can you work on that please?

The second title that made me go "WTF?" was the title of a Daily Kos story:

Man shoots and kills wife, blames his fear of Black Lives Matter

tex-photoHere's the story as prominent Atlanta attorney (don't you just already know this is going to be a doozy?) Tex McIver tells it, cut and paraphrased:

He and his wife were being driven by a chauffeur.  She was in the front seat, he in the back.  He saw what he thought were "threatening people" and asked her for his gun.  He took it and fell asleep.  They hit a bump.  The gun went off and hit his wife in the back.

(And if you are thinking of looking for a bridge to buy, check with me first.  I'll make you a really good deal.)

They took her to a hospital twice as far away as the nearest one, where she later died during surgery.  After which McIver went home on his own recognizance, as authorized by an Atlanta police officer.  The vehicle was impounded (Bad SUV! Bad SUV!) and the driver was interviewed.  Apparently McIver was not.  The police report does not include information about who was in the vehicle, nor about what the driver said.

McIver is a labor and employment lawyer who exclusively represents employers.  He has "successfully defended employers in more than 200 union organizing campaigns.”  He once personally represented Governor Nathan Deal (great name for a Republican, isn't it?  Sorry – I just notice people's names sometimes.)  He was, incidentally, back to work within a couple of days, although he said he felt bad.

You know, this wouldn't even make a good detective story.  It's both too obvious and too unbelievable.  Unless it were going to turn into a huge expose of corruption in high places, i.e. at least up to the Governor.  Yeah, like that's going to happen.  I see that, this week, he passed a polygraph, but, knowing what I do about polygraphs, I'm afraid I'm not terribly impressed.

Well, dear Furies, you have a little time before the November election.  Maybe you can learn what the Atlanta police have not shown any interest in – and get someone to hear it, which may actually be the hardest part.  Good luck.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4014818