THE MATTER OF JUDGE MANUEL L. REAL
His reversal rate is estimated to be 10 times the average for sitting federal judges.
He has had ten cases outright snatched away from him by appeals courts.
In 2006, there was serious talk of impeaching him.
The Judicial Council of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has examined 89 cases in which his conduct was challenged.
He has been exhibit A in the ongoing discussion about whether federal judges need better oversight.
Now, this past Friday, U.S. Judge Manuel Real was sharply rebuked by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for his bizarre and unaccountably high-handed handling of yet another case.
While he has his supporters, he has a long list of critics, including a string of prominent attorneys and some legal scholars have said publicly that, if Judge Real takes a dislike to one’s case or one’s client, it is extreme difficult to get a fair trial in his court.
Having observed his behavior twice close-up during the last two bail hearings for Alex Sanchez, I can fully understand the concern about his impartiality. It is not that he is overly conservative or overly liberal on the law. It is more that he seems often to make up his mind on things whimsically, facts and due process be damned, and then will skew the proceedings to match his personal view—all of which is pretty much what his critics describe as well.
U.S. District Court judges, like Real, are appointed for life, as a way of protecting judicial independence. It takes just short of an act of God to remove them, an arrangement that also has its distinct downsides.
As it stands now, Judge Manuel Real will be the one to preside over Sanchez’ trial.
In the meantime, Alex Sanchez’ attorney has filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit of Real’s decision not to grant Sanchez bail.
CHARLIE BECK’S AH-HA MOMENT
Joel Rubin has an interesting and thoughtful story in Sunday’s LA Times about the evolution of soon-to-be LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s view of policing. Some of it we already know, some is new. But Rubin has re-contextualized the facts of Beck’s philosophic journey in a way that makes for a good an informative read.
NOTE: In a separate story, the Times also reports on some old unproved allegations of mismanagement when he was a board member of the Los Angeles Police Relief Association.
OHIO’S (AND TED STRICKLAND’S) CLEMENCY PROBLEM
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Governor Ted Strickland has 712 pending clemency applications sitting on his desk (metaphorically speaking. I am assuming all 712 aren’t, literally on his desk). Some date back to 2005.
The problem is not that Governor Strickland turns down clemency requests with great abandon (or that he grants them with that same abandon). The problem is that the governor of Ohio does nothing. He just lets the requests sit. And sit.
As its case in point, the Dispatch cites the story of a former business man with no previous adult criminal record, now a prisoner for a decade, Bradley Tapp, whom the Ohio parole board recently unanimously recommended for release. The board also recommended Tapp for executive clemency in 2008. Even the judge who sentenced Tapp to fourteen years in prison for his angry, drunken, violent assault on two neighbors in 1999, has signed an affidavit saying his own decision was too harsh.
Anyway, whatever the merits, or lack thereof of each individual case, one cannot help but wonder why Strickland continues to fail to make decisions on these 712 lives.
ONLY DISCONNECT: ONE MAN’S TALE OF DIGITAL HUNTER-GATHERING
This essay isn’t in the least social justice-y. But it was in Sunday’s NY times Magazine, and it’s very smart and funny and you should read it. (Really.)
It’s about giving up one’s Internet connection. Sort of. It is written by one of my Bennington pals, Wyatt Mason, who is ridiculously brainy, but who also (thankfully) has a silly side.
GRANDSTANDING OVER BLOCKING HELP FOR VETS WITH LONG TERM HEALTH CARE NEEDS
The first paragraph of Monday’s NY Times Op Ed explains the issue very plainly.
A creative plan to help wounded veterans and their exhausted families adapt to the strain of long-term home care is on the brink of bipartisan approval â€” but for the familiar obstructionism of Senator Tom Coburn. This is one of the most deplorable displays by the lawmaker-physician, an Oklahoma Republican who relishes playing the self-styled budget hawk by putting attention-grabbing holds on crucial legislation.
Read the rest.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA—GOOD SENSE AND NONSENSE
Today, Monday, a joint session of the City Council’s Public Safety and Planning and Land
Use committees will talk over (likely endlessly, if the past is any bellwether) an ordinance that would outlaw most of the medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.
Under the proposed ordinance, medical marijuana “collectives’‘ would be allowed to grow pot for members with serious illnesses, but could not sell marijuana for a profit, and collectives could have no more than five pounds of dried pot or 100 plants at any given time.
MEANWHILE, in West Hollywood, reports the LA Times’ John Hoeffell, the We Ho city council has been rigorously and appropriately regulating marijuana dispensaries for years, and everything has worked out fine for all concerned without the kind of draconian restrictions the LA City Council is now about to contemplate.
PHOTO NOTE: All the roses in these occasional “Fresh picks’ or “Monday picks’ photos are taken in my garden. In the case, the rose is a classic yellow tea called Midas Touch