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Comment Re:No just laws = No fair trial (Score 1) 592 592

Don't bother. The "law" and the "process" are totally different things according to him, so he's scoring points on his private definition. If the law says, "Nobody gets to make arguments at trial," the trial is still fair because it follows the law. Laws on how trials are run have no bearing on whether the trial itself is fair.

Unfortunately, we've now defined the term "fair trial" in such a way that it's 100% meaningless. As a completely innocent man with the evidence on my side sitting in prison, God Himself could appear in my cell and say, "Fear not, My Son. You shall receive a fair trial," and I'm afraid it would not comfort me in the slightest. "What does that mean, Father? Is it one of those fair trials where I get summarily executed before the opening arguments, or is it one of the ones with evidence and stuff?"

Comment Re:But But This is Anti Homeless! (Score 1) 209 209

It's cheaper than either cigarettes or alcohol, especially in places where it's available "medicinally", like SF.

Yes, I've been to those places because THC suppressed epileptic seizures I used to have (but only for several hours while it was in effect- it's an extremely expensive anticonvulsant and insurance doesn't cover it). Legal pot is particularly expensive. On what basis is pot cheaper that liquor or alcohol? Per "dose" (whatever that is for any of those three)? Cigarettes and liquor never tempted me to cut up my ATM card.
Plus, you can't survive on a 100% Taco Bell diet... just eating the pot would be more nutritious.

Comment Re:No just laws = No fair trial (Score 1) 592 592

Like I said, I'm not arguing with you about the fairness of the law.

No, I recognize that. You're just restating your premise over and over again and not engaging any responses or questions about your position. We've established that your definition of a "fair trial" is one that follows any set of written laws and is held in America (yay!) regardless of what actually happens in that trial. By that definition, I fully acknowledge that Mr. Snowden would receive a fair trial. It's a wonder that he doesn't rush back to avail himself of one. Or maybe two!

What you NEED to be doing is to stop yammering about how unfair all this is and start working to change the law you think is so unfair.

Ah, the argument from incomplete civic engagement. My favorite! You start by pretending that you're on Slashdot to educate the uneducated masses while the person you're arguing with is a hopeless idiot who genuinely believes that arguing with random yahoos on Slashdot is how you change laws and who never actually engages in any political activity. Once that's established, you can change the subject, extricate yourself from the conversation, condescend to your interlocutor (Really, Thunder? There are people you vote for who make laws? Tell me more!), all while pretending to somehow be above the fray even after you just spent a bunch of posts arguing with random yahoos on Slashdot. It's a quality gambit every time I see it, even if it's not very original.

With that, I don't look forward to your likely reply.

Why? It's so little effort to simply restate your priors, ignore every line of argumentation presented and skirt any questions asking you to defend your definitions. It's not like you spend a lot of time on this stuff. I suppose you're too busy running Senate campaigns and reviewing constitutional law journals to engage with little people who don't even understand how voting works.

All I can say to you on that front is, good luck, you are going to need it because I get the feeling the majority of people who vote in this country don't support a change in law big enough to get Snowden off the hook.

You're assuming that I want him "off the hook." I think that with a fair trial, he'd likely do some time, albeit not the same amount of time as a genuine spy who acted against our interests with no justification. What I don't accept is the notion that in a country that supposedly values due process and freedom of speech, we think a trial that doesn't allow the defendant to speak in his own defense is "fair," much less good enough to live up to the standards we supposedly set when we defined what due process meant to a democracy.

Comment Re:No just laws = No fair trial (Score 1) 592 592

Shesh.. Look, the trial would be "fair" as in done by the rules. Let it go...

I can't help but notice that you didn't answer the question. If the rules stated that he wasn't allowed to speak in his own defense, is the trial still fair just because that's how the rules are written? If your definition of "fair trial" means that honest people apply ridiculous rules equally to all, then yes, it's fair. But that definition of "fair" would apply to a system that simply executed every defendant without hearing any evidence either way. As long as it's done by the book and nobody gets special treatment one way or the other, why not?

Again, if you want to claim the LAW is not fair, fine, but don't confuse the LAW with the trial.

The law and the trial are not separable in this case. The law determines what arguments can be made at the trial, so treating them as two totally unrelated things is nonsense. I'll clarify that I'm not impugning the motives of the jurors or the judge. But the "trial" is more than just people. It's people and rules, and those rules are a mix of written law, tradition and precedent. Unfortunately in this case, those rules come together in such a way that one of the basic principles of a fair trial, the ability to speak in one's own defense, is missing.

He is innocent until proven guilty, will be afforded an attorney, will be given a trial before his peers, face his accusers and present evidence at his trial. This is NOT a kangaroo court.

This is where we disagree. If he's not allowed to present the best evidence in his defense, then he's not by any reasonable standard being allowed to "present evidence" at his trial. "You can present evidence, but not the evidence that might convince a jury," is a meaningless guarantee. Without the ability to present true, relevant statements in your own defense, it is a kangaroo court. The fact that it was set up that way by law and the fact that it's offensive to call it so doesn't make it any less of a kangaroo court.

That's not how we've done criminal justice for centuries. It's a mess that we've slowly allowed our courts to evolve into by steadily adding rules for excluding evidence and arguments. For example, strict liability in criminal cases only really started in the late 19th century, and its liberal application to serious crimes (as opposed to regulatory violations) is much more recent.

Just like the slow stripping away of due process for suspected drug offenders, all branches of government have been complicit including the courts. New laws were written, new court precedents were set, and before we knew it, we had a system that allowed asset forfeiture without a trial and prevented criminal defendants from presenting true evidence in their defense. This is just another example of exactly how far we've drifted from those traditions you reference. Those are traditions that we should be proud of, and we should be screaming bloody murder at every step away from them.

Comment All your data r belong to us! (Score 3, Informative) 258 258

As another noted on the Red Site:

"We'll know everything* about you and we'll be snitching (including your BitLocker key) whenever and/or to anyone we think is in our interest to. Starting Aug 15"[1]

In particular, this is more than a little disturbing.

"But Microsoftâ(TM)s updated privacy policy is not only bad news for privacy. Your free speech rights can also be violated on an ad hoc basis as the company warns:

In particular, âoeWe will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary toâ, for example, âoeprotect their customersâ or âoeenforce the terms governing
the use of the servicesâ."

As with all things Microsoft, use at your own risk. Only now, the risks to you personally are higher than ever before.


Comment Re:No just laws = No fair trial (Score 1) 592 592

What you can and cannot argue as a defense to a crime is spelled out in the law.

If the law said, "The defense is not allowed to make any arguments," would it still be a fair trial simply because the rules were spelled out beforehand and applied equally to every defense? If not, how much of a minimal defense must be allowed before you'd consider it fair?

Defense is usually given wide latitude in what kinds of arguments they try so I see no reason why the argument wouldn't be tried, but I do see where it wouldn't be successful.

That's not how the courts work. If you start bringing in "irrelevant" evidence, the prosecution objects that it's irrelevant. The judge says, "Yup, that's not relevant according to the law. You can't say that. Move along." For example, in medical marijuana cases, you'd think that the dispensary owner would be able to say, "Look, it's legal in my state and I'm selling it only to people with medical need," to at least mitigate the crime. Nope. You can't mention those facts. They're irrelevant to the federal case. The only question before the federal court is whether you sold marijuana in large quantites. Off to prison wtih you, Scarface. This happens all the time.

Another example is any crime with strict liability rules. Those are crimes which have no requirement to prove intent. The flip side of the coin is that you can't prove that you did it by accident. Statutory rape, for example. If you have sex with an adult-looking minor, it doesn't matter if she produced a perfect US passport for you to check, that you followed up with her friends and family, and everybody told you she was 18. The very fact that she truly wasn't 18 is all that matters and your efforts at screening are no defense. Not a "weak" defense that might not work. They're not a valid defense for the jury to consider. I don't know of any test cases where the defense was not allowed to make the point, but that's how the law actually works and it's totally valid for the judge to prevent you from arguing it.

Also, comparing our legal system to that of North Korea is very unfair.

It's not a direct comparison. It's an analogy and it works precisely because the direct comparison is so unflattering. Your argument seems to be that something is "fair" just because the rules are written down in advance. My argument is that you can construct any number of perfectly consistent laws, write them down, and apply them without bias and still have a completely unfair system. The analogy works unless you can come up with a sensible answer to my first question in this post: Is it OK to write a law that says that no defense may be presented in court? If not, how much of a defense should be allowed? Should the single best argument for the defense ever be disallowed?

If this was a matter of Snowden making a Hail Mary pass at the jury and hoping for some sympathy, I could understand your position if not necessarily agree with it. But that's not the situation. He'd be expected to sit in court and smile and nod because the single best (and only) argument for what he did isn't admissable and can't even be discussed. That's a total departure from the notion of arguing your case before a jury of your peers. You might as well not have a jury at that point.

Comment Re:Yeah, be a man! (Score 1) 592 592

If there was ever a valid case for it, this seems like it. But you're going to have to hope that the jury hears those arguments before the trial starts, because Snowden certainly won't be allowed to make them to the jury during the trial. Choose your jurors carefully so they don't know anything about Snowden, what he did, or why he did it and you're going to have a very short trial with a very predictable outcome.

"Why waste negative entropy on comments, when you could use the same entropy to create bugs instead?" -- Steve Elias