I can’t believe I almost let today go by without a reminder that today is Hug A Public Defender Day, i.e., the day that I was born, 51 years ago.
Here is the post I wrote last year on this day which ring just as true today.
There can be little doubt that abuse of children has been the cause du jour. Children do get abused and used and should be protected. To that end, there’s a new bill in the CT legislature that seeks to make several “technical changes” to the child pornography laws, but which actually makes it impossible for anyone to avoid a five year minimum prison sentence, no matter how one came into possession of the video.
There’s a growing discussion among those who observe the effects of the harsh punishment meted out by our black-and-white justice system on the people who are the subject of these zero-tolerance laws: the similar treatment of those who engage in sexual behavior with children and those who, without ever touching a child, view pictures and videos of children in sexual situations or engaging in sexual acts.
In other words, people are starting to realize that the two situations are disparate and should be treated as such. For one thing, the federal sentencing guidelines are over-the-top and maddeningly inconsistent. For instance:
An extensive U.S. Sentencing Commission study of child pornography sentences in 2012 found that current federal guidelines produce “overly severe sentencing ranges for some offenders, unduly lenient ranges for other offenders, and widespread inconsistent application.”
As Jacob Sullum recently wrote in the Washington Post:
The maximum penalty for receiving or distributing child porn is 20 years, and federal sentencing guidelines recommend stiff enhancements based on factors that are extremely common in these cases, such as using a computer, possessing more than 600 images (with each video clip counted as 75 images), and exchanging photos for something of value, including other photos. Federal agents reportedly found 200 child porn videos on Loskarn’s hard drive when they arrested him on December 11.
Ninety percent of federal child-porn prosecutions involve “non-production offenses” like Loskarn’s: downloading or passing along images of sexual abuse, as opposed to perpetrating or recording it. As a result of congressional edicts, the average sentence in such cases rose from 54 months in 2004 to 95 months in 2010, according to a 2012 report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC). The penalties have become so severe, the commission noted, that judges frequently find ways to dodge them, resulting in wildly inconsistent sentences for people guilty of essentially the same conduct.
As someone who has represented individuals accused of both – having sexual contact and merely viewing child pornography – I can tell you that there is a difference in the type of personality. The latter are more frequently than not what we call in the business “mopes”. Individuals with severe mental health issues, several AXIS-I diagnoses and limited social functioning skills. They wouldn’t be a risk to molesting children even if they weren’t so afraid of their own shadow.
But I do understand the need to punish viewers of child pornography, even though the old rationales for doing so may no longer be applicable:
While the original justification for criminalizing possession of child pornography was that demand creates supply (an argument that has been weakened by the shift to free online distribution), the escalation of penalties seems to be driven largely by the assumption that people who look at these images are all undiscovered or would-be child molesters.
Tracking 610 defendants sentenced in fiscal years 1999 and 2000 for eight and a half years after they were released, the USSC found that 7 percent were arrested for a new sexual offense.
Even allowing for the fact that many cases of sexual abuse go unreported (as indicated by victim surveys), it seems clear that some consumers of child pornography never abuse children. “There does exist a distinct group of offenders who are Internet-only and do not present a significant risk for hands-on sex offending,” says Karl Hanson, a senior research officer at Public Safety Canada who has co-authored several recidivism studies.
The real question is whether we need a sentencing scheme that treats the two classes of offenders the same or one that is slightly more nuanced, allowing for individualistic sentencing determinations and building in safety valves for those who may mistakenly come in contact with child pornography or, for the sake of argument, intentionally download a video “just to see what it’s about”.
It’s obviously a trick question. It’s what we should do, whereas we do exactly the opposite in reality. For instance, possessing child pornography in the first degree is a class B felony carrying a sentence of 5-20 years. This is for “50 or more visual depictions”, which is, according to Federal statutes, not quite one video2.
Now there’s a new bill in CT that seeks to make “technical changes” to the child porn laws, but in reality, does a whole lot more damage.
See, the technical changes they propose (as outlined in the written testimony submitted by the State’s Attorney’s Office [PDF]) is to eliminate a “loophole” whereby videos are counted as single ‘visual depictions’.
On the surface, it’s an understandable change: is it really fair to treat one video the same as one still image? Perhaps not.
But in the quest to bring ‘modernity’ to our child porn laws, the bill makes one dangerous change: it eliminates the affirmative defense for any quantity of videos.
In other words, in CT, it will no longer be possible to say “I accidentally downloaded one video”. Here’s the affirmative defense statute, with relevant proposed changes:
In any prosecution for a violation of section 53a-196d, as amended by this act, 53a-196e, as amended by this act, 53a-196f or 53a-196h it shall be an affirmative defense that (1) the defendant (A) possessed fewer than three visual depictions, other than a series of images in electronic, digital or other format which is intended to be displayed continuously, or a film or videotape, of child pornography, (B) did not knowingly purchase, procure, solicit or request such visual depictions or knowingly take any other action to cause such visual depictions to come into the defendant’s possession, and (C) promptly and in good faith, and without retaining or allowing any person, other than a law enforcement agency, to access any visual depiction or copy thereof, took reasonable steps to destroy each such visual depiction or reported the matter to a law enforcement agency and afforded that agency access to each such visual depiction, or (2) the defendant possessed a visual depiction of a nude person under sixteen years of age for a bona fide artistic, medical, scientific, educational, religious, governmental or judicial purpose.
In other words, you simply cannot, evermore, say you accidentally downloaded a video. It doesn’t matter if you did accidentally download it, or unknowingly clicked on a video that happened to be child porn. You are guilty and will be subjected to 20 years’ maximum punishment in jail.
Who the hell “accidentally” downloads child porn, you ask? It’s not who does, but who can.
You can. Right now. It’s easy. The web is a massive place. Remember that when it comes to “child” porn, the “child” is under 18, not under 16, which is merely the age of consent.
You could be like 28,000 Americans viewing porn every second. Or you could be one of seventy-five percent who say they’ve viewed porn “accidentally”. Or you could be one of – I’m sorry, are you ready? – 450 MILLION MONTHLY visitors to porn sites.
Now, most of these are “legit” porn sites that are required to keep records of the age of the models and their legal status. But do you ever check? Do you know? You just assume and presume. But what if you happen to watch one that isn’t legal? Did you do that intentionally? Under our new law, it doesn’t matter.
What about someone who isn’t looking for pornography at all, but is tricked by someone else into downloading it? Have you heard of being Rick-Rolled? It’s very easy to imagine someone playing a joke on you and sending you a link to child porn. Have you watched child porn intentionally or accidentally? Under our new law, it doesn’t matter.
Or what about something less nefarious? What of someone who is looking for the most recent ‘cats-after-a-bath’ video and finds something that ends up being child porn? Remember Julie Amero who accidentally downloaded porn to her classroom computer? Clicked on a .gif that turned out to be a slightly underage woman performing a sex act? Too bad. Under our new law, it wouldn’t matter.
Oh, what if you’re a teenager, engaging in this new act of “sexting”? You know, you send your also underage girlfriend a picture of your one-eyed-monster? Are you suddenly both guilty of a 20 year felony?
The thing is, the law is designed to protect the actually innocent: those who unknowingly download contraband. That’s why it’s an affirmative defense: the burden is on the defendant to prove not only that he possessed a minor amount of pornography, but also that it was downloaded accidentally and unintentionally.
This “technical” change3 to our child pornography law would eliminate the ability of anybody, no matter how accidentally they acquired pornography, to escape a five year mandatory minimum jail sentence.
You might want to lock up your computer after you finish reading this post.
You know the drill, baby, drill!
Okay enough procrastination; get to work.
King Bruce of Scotland, you will recall, was a king driven into exile by those damn British. During the course of this, he was taking refuge in a cave, defeated, when he chanced upon a spider which was unable to spin a web, presumably having nothing to do with the fact that it was Scottish and hence drunk. So it tried and failed and tried and failed until it finally succeeded, which gave the Good King Bruce an epiphany that if you try enough times you will eventually succeed at what you want. He then promptly defeated the British and Scotland has been an independent country ever since but he doesn’t get nearly all the credit that Mel Gibson does presumably because he wasn’t wearing blue war paint.
Just last week, the Connecticut Appellate Court issued an opinion [PDF] endorsing the ‘King Bruce’ theory of prosecutions: try as many times as you want. But in order to understand the opinion in State v. Brundage II, you have to start at the beginning with State v. Brundage I.
In the beginning, Brundage was a creep. Over a period of roughly 8 years, he allegedly sexually assaulted his then-girlfriend’s daughter. The girlfriend ended the relationship in 2003 and the girl finally reported the abuse in 2007.
He was charged by the prosecution with two counts of Sexual Assault in the First Degree and two counts of Risk of Injury to a Minor. Out of all the possible crimes available to them, these are the two they chose to proceed on. Brundage, on cue, got convicted and was sentenced to a long time in jail.
Except he appealed, claiming that the criminal charges were actually barred by the statute of limitations. On appeal, the prosecution and the Appellate Court agreed that all charges for all incidents occurring prior to 2003 were barred and could not be prosecuted:
Thus, the only alleged offenses that are not time barred are those that occurred after May 22, 2002, because the current version of § 54-193a, which provides an extended limitation period, applies to those offenses. The defendant and the state disagree, however, as to the appropriate remand in these cases. The defendant urges us to set aside the judgments of conviction and direct the trial court to dismiss the charges. The state argues that we should remand the cases for a new trial, providing the state with the opportunity to amend the informations to allege only offenses that occurred after May 22, 2002. We conclude that the cases should be remanded for a new trial.
And so remanded for a new trial it was. Except now the State saw an opportunity. Instead of charging him again with two counts of Sexual Assault in the First Degree and two counts of Risk of Injury, simply for two incidents that occurred between 2002 and 2003, the State’s eyes lit up.
We can charge him with anything that isn’t time barred, they thought. And so they charged him with Kidnapping in the First Degree, a charge that has no statute of limitations and one that has a greater punishment than either Sex 1 or Risk of Injury.
To care about this story, you have to care about a few things like Due Process and the potential for abuse by prosecutors. If you don’t care about those things, you can stop reading now.
So Brundage filed a motion to dismiss, saying that the prosecution couldn’t add charges that it didn’t file the first time around. In effect, they were estopped from doing that because the remand of the case in Brundage I was very specific to the charges at issue.
The trial judge agreed with Brundage but unfortunately for him, the Appellate Court did not. It is important to note at this point that there is no commonality of judges between Brundage I and Brundage II.
After spending some pages extolling the law of prosecutorial discretion, the Appellate Court held last week that:
In light of those factual allegations, the state was well within its broad discretion to charge the defendant with the aforementioned offenses. The mandate of Brundage I is that the state could not proceed on any charges against the defendant that were time barred under General Statutes (Rev. to 1993) § 54-193a. The charges contained in the November 26, 2012 substitute information are not time barred under that statute. Accordingly, we conclude that the court improperly dismissed that substitute information.
In his appellate brief, the defendant alleges that ‘‘[t]he state is seeking to retry the defendant on the kidnapping charges only because the defendant successfully exercised his constitutional and statutory rights to contest the validity of the original prosecution.’’ That bald assertion is not accompanied by analysis or reference to any evidence indicative of such animus. As the state persuasively has argued in this appeal, its decision not to pursue the kidnapping charges at the defendant’s first trial ‘‘very well may have been influenced by the state of flux that existed in our kidnapping law in 2008 and 2009 . . . .’’ Absent any evidence to the contrary, we presume that the state did not harbor such animus toward the defendant, but rather acted to vindicate its legitimate interest in the prosecution of crime.
Did you get that? It’s okay for the State to add new charges that they previously did not, after the defendant won his appeal and got a new trial because they had [insert whatever excuse you want] that is presumptively legitimate and thus there is no indication of animus. Except that in the first appeal, the State sought only to try him again on the charges that he was originally charged with.
Prosecutorial discretion is the bogeyman that gives unfettered power to the prosecutors to do as they choose, frequently without having to provide an explanation for it.
If they felt that strongly that the defendant had kidnapped the victim, then why not charge that in the first instance? Is there an opportunity to perpetually subject the defendant to the stress and danger of criminal prosecution?
What if, for instance, they choose to charge only one instance of sexual assault in a trial, out of 50 alleged incidents? With a 30 year statute of limitations, does that mean that if the defendant keeps winning, they get to keep trying over and over again until they get a conviction?
Where does this end? Can the State try you first for a murder and then if you win, try you again for a felony murder?
Is the goal here to weave a web of fairness and justice or a trap of convictions?
What can be more frightening to the innocent man walking down a city street, minding his own business, when a bunch of thugs comes out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason, violently strikes that innocent man causing him physical injury?
Nothing, which is why there was widespread panic last year about the emergence of a new activity that further signaled the moral decay of America’s urban youth: the knockout game.
A game in which seemingly innocent people were randomly targeted to be punched in the head for no other reason than apparent boredom on the part of the hooligans.
And so it comes as no surprise that this viral act of violence that has put fear into the minds and hearts of innocent city working folk and has caused our urban areas to become veritable fields of random assaults has brought about a strict new legislative fix: by God we’ll fix ‘em.
The new bill, proposed by legislator and Police Officer Joe Verrengia of West Hartford, CT, would make a “knockout” punch a felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail1. The bill states (and I’ve reproduced the entire section because context is relevant):
(a) A person is guilty of assault in the second degree when:
(1) With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person; or
(2) with intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument other than by means of the discharge of a firearm; or
(3) he recklessly causes serious physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument; or
(4) for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, he intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness or other physical impairment or injury to another person by administering to such person, without his consent, a drug, substance or preparation capable of producing the same; or
(5) he is a parolee from a correctional institution and with intent to cause physical injury to an employee or member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, he causes physical injury to such employee or member; or
(6) with intent to cause the loss of consciousness of another person, he causes such injury to such person by a single punch or kick or other singular striking motion.
As you can see from the entire statute reproduced above, (6) is redundant. We must, of course, concede that “loss of consciousness” is “serious physical injury”. Putting aside caselaw that states that a fist or shoe can indeed be a dangerous instrument (thus covering subsections 2 and/or 3), subsection (6) seeks to carve out a specific subset of subsection (1), i.e. causing of serious physical injury. Subsection (1) has no restrictions on the type of injury (loss of consciousness) or the manner in which it is caused (single punch or kick).
So, simply put, (6) is useless. But that’s not all. The bill would make a conviction of subsection (6) have a mandatory prison sentence of at least 2 years.
So what’s going on here? Why this bill? Is the “knockout game” such a big problem in our cities that we need to send a strong message? Let me be clear: it is certainly quite distressing and scary to be suddenly and randomly attacked on the street by strangers for no reason whatsoever.
But the fact that some people do get attacked in such a way, doesn’t automatically equate to the existence of such a “knockout game”. In fact, evidence – not media spin – suggest quite the opposite.
First, let’s start with the one section of criminal justice system that Verrengia can’t argue with: law enforcement.
Yet police officials in several cities where such attacks have been reported said that the “game” amounted to little more than an urban myth, and that the attacks in question might be nothing more than the sort of random assaults that have always occurred.
And in New York City, police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the Knockout Game — or whether in fact it existed.
“We’re trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Friday. “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.”
See that part where it says urban myth? That’s because there’s no trend of such a violent “game” on the rise in urban America. Can and do these attacks happen? Of course they do. Does that mean there’s a rise in hoodlums knocking you on your ass as you peaceably go to work? No.
Framing it as a game gives it a hook for the news media, but we already have a name for this type of thing: It’s a random street assault, a terrible phenomenon, but not a new one. And the language that kids and the news media have latched onto makes it sound both sinister and casual. It dramatizes the behavior, perversely elevating it above the senseless street violence that happens every day and has happened for decades. (There were more than 750,000 assaults in 2011, according to the FBI.)
You know what else is an indication that this is a media-fabricated myth? The fact that no one can agree on its name and that it’s been around forever:
The “Knockout King” or “Knockout Game” has been playing out for more than a decade on streets in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Chicago, St. Louis, and now Washington D.C. in small numbers. But videos of the incidents have gone viral on the Internet, creating the illusion these things happen more often than they do.
“There is no evidence supporting this as a huge, viral number of attacks. If the ‘Knockout Game’ really exists and isn’t just a media label that could fit many of the hundreds of thousands of random attacks on strangers,” says Mike Males, senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice located in San Francisco. I’ve heard of incidents of this so-called Knockout Game dating back to 1996. It’s not new.”
Indeed, as Jamelle Bouie points out in The Daily Beast:
The case for “myth” is bolstered further by the fact that the “knockout game” has been cited as far back as 1992, when it was compared to “wilding” as an example of dangerous teen behavior. What’s more, several widely circulated stories concerning the game have been debunked by websites such as Snopes, which note that they have no “verifying information.”
Of course there’s still the other dimension to this that I haven’t explicitly mentioned but that I’m sure you’ve caught on. Remember the scenario I opened with, with the man walking down the street, being assaulted? I’m gonna pull a Matthew McConanagjguahey: what race did you imagine them? Scientific studies2 show that most of you thought of them as black.
Think about who would be punished by Verrengia’s legislation? Who are going to be caught up in street arrests for assault in urban cities? Bouie again:
One last thing: Race is an obvious element in all of this. In almost every report, the assailants are described as young black men, and many of the victims have been white. It’s hard not to see the sensationalized coverage of “knockout”—and before that, “wilding”—as a reflection of our national fear of young black men. Indeed, in the more sinister corners of the Internet, you can find people who argue that these incidents are the opening shots in a “race war” by “feral black youth.”
But of course, this is a State that has condoned, in the case of a black defendant accused of assaulting suburban white women, a prosecutor beginning her closing argument with:
[The four women] got together for dinner on December 14, 1991, a nice relaxing dinner. They had plans to go out after dinner. They were minding their own business when they were confronted with what suburbanites would call the ultimate urban nightmare.’
So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that either the legislators were oblivious to the racial undertones in the “knockout game” or ignored them altogether.
The perpetuated myth of the violent black juvenile is a hard one for people to let go of, even if it’s found to be based on nothing but their own ignorance and fear.
But that’s not all. I wish that was all.
In addition to this waste of space bill on a media perpetuated myth, Verrengia also wants to make sure that if you’re a juvenile, you’re sucker punched just as much as the person you sucker punch.
See, as I’ve written extensively, in CT if you’re between the ages of 14 and 17, you get automatically transferred to adult court only if you commit the most serious crimes: A and B felonies which carry prison sentences of 20 years or more. If you are charged with a less serious crime, like a C or D felony, you remain in juvenile court unless a prosecutor makes a motion to move the case to adult court and in that event you get a hearing before a judge in juvenile court.
Verrengia wants to make the “knockout game” the only Class D felony that gets automatically transferred to adult court. So, there are many, many crimes that are more serious than this assault (all Class C felonies, for instance) that may not end up in adult court, yet some punk kid who punches a dude on the street for no reason suddenly ends up in adult court facing a two-year mandatory minimum sentence.
One of the more important things I write about here at ‘a public defender’ is the notion that “Justice” is a complicated concept. It is not limited to what you are fed through your televisions and it is certainly not a government-centric idea.
Justice takes many obvious forms, such as the apprehension and conviction of a criminal. But limiting the definition of justice to something as simplistic as “good guys vs. bad guys” leaves you with a very narrow worldview and an over-inflated sense of morality.
Justice can mean that the right person was punished and that the punishment was just. Justice can mean standing up for unpopular causes, maybe sometimes precisely because they are unpopular.
The persecution of this nuanced meaning of justice, however, has never been more fervent than in this day of “speak by shouting at others” discourse and base politics that pander to ever-extreme hysterical idiots who have found a sure-fire method of whipping up political points and ire by removing any semblance of complexity from American politics and intellectual discussion.
I speak, of course, of the shameful defeat of the president’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the civil rights division at the Department of Justice. Joined by 7 democrats, Republicans torpedoed this highly qualified, lifelong public servant from running the civil rights division because a long time ago, he spent some part of his career working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, during which time he worked on a brief seeking to overturn the conviction of “noted cop-killer” Mumia Abu-Jamal.
What, exactly, does this boil down to? What the’re saying, in effect, is that there is one kind of justice that’s acceptable and there’s another that’s not. That our founding principles are great, but only in name. And that hatred of cop killers will always trump everything else:
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who is facing reelection this year and whose state sits within the Philadelphia media market, said he thought Adegbile was well-qualified for the position, but was concerned that he would face “visceral opposition from law enforcement on his first day on the job,” citing the opposition to his nomination by several law enforcement organizations.
Adegbile was presumably only doing his job. I am only doing my job. But I also believe in what I do. That doesn’t make me a lesser person or any less deserving of a job that I am qualified for. The fact that I despise the death penalty is not a fault or a bug. The fact that I am highly skeptical of the Government’s power and their irresponsible exercise of that power doesn’t make me an amoral person. The fact that I have represented robbers and rapists and killers doesn’t make me one.
To hold that view is akin to, as Dahlia Lithwick at Slate writes:
a referendum on the most basic premise of any functioning legal system: that even the guilty deserve representation and that the justice system cannot operate if we don’t work to correct systemic injustice. As the president of the American Bar Association, James R. Silkenat, was forced to explain to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “a fundamental tenet of our justice system and our Constitution is that anyone who faces loss of liberty has a right to legal counsel. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to uphold that principle and provide zealous representation to people who otherwise would stand alone against the power and resources of the government—even to those accused or convicted of terrible crimes.”
But as of today, you are as guilty as your guiltiest client, and your representation of that client—especially if it is both zealous and successful—is now disqualifying as well. Cop-killers deserve no lawyers and their lawyers deserve no role in government service. It’s not hard to imagine the scorching Fox News headlines, under the new standards set forth by the Judiciary Committee today: “John Adams Frees Vicious Patriot-Killer in Boston Massacre.” “John Roberts Unsuccessfully Defends Serial Killer in Florida!” “Anarchist-Loving Felix Frankfurter Advocates for Sacco and Vanzetti!” Clarence Darrow! Lover of Killers, Monkeys, and Commies; Disgrace to Legal Profession!.” “Murderer-Coddler John Paul Stevens disqualified from Supreme Court at 80!”
We became who we claim to be because we valued the rights of individuals above all else. Because we had people willing to fight for those who were minorities and whose positions were unpopular.
Imagine if Republicans had voted against Adegbile because he represented Edith Windsor or Mildred Loving? Would you be as outraged as you are now? What’s stopping you today?
This is what happens when we willingly accept a Fox News/Law and Order society: where everything is so black and white and you’re always good and they’re always bad.
A good, honest, hard-working man doesn’t get a job he deserves because our world has become so isolated and selfish and so mind-numbingly ignorant.
Update: As Scott points out, this “defense” of Adegbile by Sen. Harkin (2:00 mark) is well-meaning but also exposes the greater point that I’m talking about. Harkin says “not that he defended this person”, distinguishing the act of actually representing and fighting for the Constitutional rights of an individual at the trial level and “signing on an appeal”, which places the lawyer at a distance.
The implication, again, is that anyone who does represent cop-killers and child molesters is unworthy of political office or even recognition or any sort of reward.
Due process has always been an obstacle on the way to conviction, but we were always willing to pay it lip service:
In Oct. 1990, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) passionately defended then-Supreme Court nominee David Souter, who faced criticism during his confirmation process for defending literacy tests in his home state of New Hampshire. Hatch noted that those tests were existing law at the time, and that Souter, as the state’s assistant attorney general, was required to defend them.
“It is not right to go back in hindsight and say he should not have done that; that that shows something wrong with him. Come on, that is what advocates do,” Hatch said at the time.
“If we are going to start using a nominee’s briefs against him in the confirmation process, we are going to be setting a shocking precedent,” he continued. “It would be a very, very dangerous message to send to lawyers: If you have any ambition to be a judge, you lawyers, do not represent controversial clients and be careful what you say on behalf of a client because you might be held responsible for the fact that the law was as it was at the time you made the statement.”
Now we won’t even do that. Long live the Justice System.
My second column for the CT Law Tribune is online now. Since it’s technically behind the paywall, you have to click on the link in this Law Tribune tweet.
The column is about a South Carolina supreme court justice who publicly warned prosecutors to shape up on Brady violations and other misconduct and was the subject of recusal motions as a result.
It’s good. Go read it.