Author Topic: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us  (Read 407 times)

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Offline Harmony

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The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« on: December 04, 2018, 08:44:58 AM »
I'd like to use this thread to discuss various instances where the wealthy and powerful seemingly get benefits that the rest of us do not.

Let's start here.  Can someone please explain to me why perpetrators of horrific crimes against children are continuously protected and yet the victims get no recompense?  The victims here were not even allowed to give testomy before the Grand Jury decided to protect "the reputation" of the priests.  WTF?   :censored

https://www.pennlive.com/news/2018/12/names-of-priests-redacted-from-grand-jury-report-to-remain-permanently-blocked-high-court-rules.html


Offline El Barto

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 08:59:42 AM »
I'd like to use this thread to discuss various instances where the wealthy and powerful seemingly get benefits that the rest of us do not.

Let's start here.  Can someone please explain to me why perpetrators of horrific crimes against children are continuously protected and yet the victims get no recompense?  The victims here were not even allowed to give testomy before the Grand Jury decided to protect "the reputation" of the priests.  WTF?   :censored

https://www.pennlive.com/news/2018/12/names-of-priests-redacted-from-grand-jury-report-to-remain-permanently-blocked-high-court-rules.html
I don't have a problem with this decision. Yet it does point at a real problem. In this case the priests weren't convicted of any crime, and if I understand correctly, were no-billed by the grand jury. Outing them would be wrong. You'd be wrecking somebody's life without affording them due process.

Where I have a problem is that this standard isn't applied to anybody else. If you or I get busted for something, wrong or right, all of the details become public knowledge. Christ, I can't even get a speeding ticket without being hounded by attorneys looking for a quick $90 because they found my name in the public records. I enjoy laughing at the wacky misadventures of deranged Floridians as much as the next guy, but perhaps we should be protecting their identities.
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Offline Harmony

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2018, 09:06:57 AM »
But that's the whole point of this thread.  We can argue legalities of individual cases but what you say is exactly the point.  The different standard being applied.

And why aren't the victims being given due process?  Why was their testimony not provided to the Grand Jury before the decision was made.  Some powerful people were undoubtedly pulling strings.  And that is NOTHING new.

Offline bosk1

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2018, 09:11:41 AM »
Maybe I'm missing something.  How were the victims not given due process?  And how exactly were their due process rights invoked here?
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Offline Harmony

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2018, 09:16:57 AM »
Hang on - I'm getting petitioners and victims mixed up.  I think I got it now.

The names of the nearly dozen priests remained redacted while the court considered the arguments from petitioners, as well as that of Shapiro, who appealed to the court to release the names of the priests. Victims have decried the so-called “interim report.

If the petitioners are not allowed to '"be provided the opportunity to testify before the court to answer to the grand jury’s “particularized findings of criminal and/or morally reprehensible conduct”' then why not are they not?  I realize that Grand Jury proceedings are not the same as in court, but from my personal experience (not in PA), then why after reading the report:

https://www.pennlive.com/news/2018/08/grand_jury_report_overview_a_s.html

(Sorry I don't know how to imbed the link) then why only these particular 11 out of 301?  Indict and go to trial.  Give these "priests" their day in court if that is what they want.  The systemic abuse is not a secret any more.  There is enough to go forward.  Why are these 11 being protected?  If the church is interested in transparency and reparations, why redact?

« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 09:32:24 AM by Harmony »

Offline El Barto

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2018, 09:20:41 AM »
But that's the whole point of this thread.  We can argue legalities of individual cases but what you say is exactly the point.  The different standard being applied.
I get that, and I pretty much agree with you. I just can't speak of this case any more than what I read from the article. From what I've read I think there might be some peculiarity with this case and this grand jury. Specifically, I don't think the grand jury was convened to determine whether or not criminal charges were warranted. And I don't think any arrests were ever made (in which case I would hope their names would be part of the public record like the rest of us). I think this was just an investigatory thing. The grand jury was tasked with completing a report as to what went down. That makes this whole thing an exception to the norm.

And that's probably the answer to the greater question. There will always be exceptions to the norm. The difference is that you and I haven't the resources to find them and take advantage. The Diocese of Greater Wherever can hire 20 lawyers to search the legal nooks and crannies for aspects that make their case unique. You or I are stuck with whatever we can figure out during our lunch breaks.
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Offline bosk1

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2018, 09:24:20 AM »
If that response was in response to me, what does that have to do with the victims' right to due process?  And, again, how exactly were their due process rights invoked here?
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Offline Harmony

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2018, 09:33:37 AM »
Sorry I was replying to fast.  Now I'm really running late!  I modified my post, bosk.  Back later.

Offline Harmony

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2018, 06:05:50 PM »
But that's the whole point of this thread.  We can argue legalities of individual cases but what you say is exactly the point.  The different standard being applied.
I get that, and I pretty much agree with you. I just can't speak of this case any more than what I read from the article. From what I've read I think there might be some peculiarity with this case and this grand jury. Specifically, I don't think the grand jury was convened to determine whether or not criminal charges were warranted. And I don't think any arrests were ever made (in which case I would hope their names would be part of the public record like the rest of us). I think this was just an investigatory thing. The grand jury was tasked with completing a report as to what went down. That makes this whole thing an exception to the norm.

And that's probably the answer to the greater question. There will always be exceptions to the norm. The difference is that you and I haven't the resources to find them and take advantage. The Diocese of Greater Wherever can hire 20 lawyers to search the legal nooks and crannies for aspects that make their case unique. You or I are stuck with whatever we can figure out during our lunch breaks.


Exactly right.  Well said.

Offline Stadler

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2018, 09:48:12 AM »
But that's the whole point of this thread.  We can argue legalities of individual cases but what you say is exactly the point.  The different standard being applied.

And that's probably the answer to the greater question. There will always be exceptions to the norm. The difference is that you and I haven't the resources to find them and take advantage. The Diocese of Greater Wherever can hire 20 lawyers to search the legal nooks and crannies for aspects that make their case unique. You or I are stuck with whatever we can figure out during our lunch breaks.

I don't disagree, but that's the part of the law that many people forget about.  It's not a static, one-time thing, like a lottery ticket.  It's a living, breathing, fluid thing that works on a dynamic continuum.    Just like Eddie Van Halen blew our minds with Eruption back in '78, and played it live with his back to the audience so people couldn't see exactly what he was doing, now, any 12 year old can walk into Guitar Center, plug in a Jackson, and whip off Eruption like he was shooting Zombies in Call Of Duty.   They get it FIRST, but they don't necessarily get it EXCLUSIVELY.   

You also have to account for human nature and the way humans process things.   The Catholic Church (by way of example, mind you; this isn't about the Church per se) handled the issue the same way we in society have handled the issue for years (and continue to handle it now).   Slap the offender on the wrist, put 'em on the list, and make sure they terrorize some OTHER community (parish), not ours.   Private schools the same way.  "Newtown" is famous for it's shooting, but it must not have made the national papers, because there was another scandal here not long ago, when it turned out a teacher at a local private school apparently had  anal sex with a student on a school trip to Costa Rica, then went on to be Assistant Principal at Newtown, then full-on Principal at a school in Litchfield.  it finally caught up to him, but the point is, there's nothing "wealthy" or "powerful" about that.   

Offline Stadler

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2018, 10:02:36 AM »
I also think it's sort of - not sure what the word is but you can fill one in - that we point at the things they can do and we can't, but ovelook the good lessons and do the things they do that we CAN.  Do you think Jack Welch or Elon Musk spends all his days playing Candy Crush and posting duck-face selfies?   Probably not.  They also put their money to use for themselves in any way they can.   I  get a lot of pushback for this, but I'll say it again:  if  more of us  took that $50 a month we spend on Spotify and HBO and put it in a DRiP program - you don't need millions; you can do it for as little as $25 a month - maybe we would  be able to have a little on the side to pay for lawyers to get us out of that little jam.   I argued with my brother that he should  put money from his paycheck into a flex program, and he wouldn't because he "needed every last dollar" he made.  I asked him:  do you buy toothpaste? Medicine?  Pay co-pays?  Of course the answer was "yes".  So I asked "If you need every last dollar, why are you paying $1.00 for everything when you can be paying $0.70, AND get it in an interest-free loan immediately on January 1?   "Huh?"

Offline El Barto

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2018, 10:15:50 AM »
But that's the whole point of this thread.  We can argue legalities of individual cases but what you say is exactly the point.  The different standard being applied.

And that's probably the answer to the greater question. There will always be exceptions to the norm. The difference is that you and I haven't the resources to find them and take advantage. The Diocese of Greater Wherever can hire 20 lawyers to search the legal nooks and crannies for aspects that make their case unique. You or I are stuck with whatever we can figure out during our lunch breaks.

I don't disagree, but that's the part of the law that many people forget about.  It's not a static, one-time thing, like a lottery ticket.  It's a living, breathing, fluid thing that works on a dynamic continuum.    Just like Eddie Van Halen blew our minds with Eruption back in '78, and played it live with his back to the audience so people couldn't see exactly what he was doing, now, any 12 year old can walk into Guitar Center, plug in a Jackson, and whip off Eruption like he was shooting Zombies in Call Of Duty.   They get it FIRST, but they don't necessarily get it EXCLUSIVELY.   
Ah, the trickle down theory of economics applied to the legal system. Sorry, bud, but you're not exactly winning hearts and minds with that one.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2018, 11:57:30 AM »
But that's the whole point of this thread.  We can argue legalities of individual cases but what you say is exactly the point.  The different standard being applied.

And that's probably the answer to the greater question. There will always be exceptions to the norm. The difference is that you and I haven't the resources to find them and take advantage. The Diocese of Greater Wherever can hire 20 lawyers to search the legal nooks and crannies for aspects that make their case unique. You or I are stuck with whatever we can figure out during our lunch breaks.

I don't disagree, but that's the part of the law that many people forget about.  It's not a static, one-time thing, like a lottery ticket.  It's a living, breathing, fluid thing that works on a dynamic continuum.    Just like Eddie Van Halen blew our minds with Eruption back in '78, and played it live with his back to the audience so people couldn't see exactly what he was doing, now, any 12 year old can walk into Guitar Center, plug in a Jackson, and whip off Eruption like he was shooting Zombies in Call Of Duty.   They get it FIRST, but they don't necessarily get it EXCLUSIVELY.   
Ah, the trickle down theory of economics applied to the legal system. Sorry, bud, but you're not exactly winning hearts and minds with that one.

I'm not sure I expect to; I'm advocating for giving the rich the benefit of the doubt.  But it's not really "trickle down" in the sense that people think of that.  Its representative of the way our system relies on precedent to spread the protections of the law to the rest of the people subject to the law (class-actions are the best example).   I think the Ed Van Halen example is really apt here.  Is that really "trickle down"?

And even if it is, is that bad?  What were luxury extras on Cadillacs in the '70's and '80's are now base-model Hyundais, and we all benefit.  Computers.   Remember when calculators - with the red digits - were $200 a pop?   

Offline Adami

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2018, 12:02:51 PM »
But what if 200 people could have been able to set that precedent long before it was set, but couldn't because they weren't able to afford all those lawyers. At this point we're just waiting for the rich people to do what benefits us all. What if we can't wait? And what if a precedent isn't enough? What if it really is the case of not being able to get justice because we couldn't afford the best people to help us? The trickle down stuff doesn't work then.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2018, 12:19:04 PM »
Yeah, we're not talking about being able to roll the back window down without leaning over. We're talking about things that put people in prison, or cost them in other ways. How many people should have to go to jail before somebody with deep pockets challenges the constitutionality of what sent them there? The ACLU can't be there for everybody.
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Offline Adami

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2018, 12:24:17 PM »
Yeah, we're not talking about being able to roll the back window down without leaning over. We're talking about things that put people in prison, or cost them in other ways. How many people should have to go to jail before somebody with deep pockets challenges the constitutionality of what sent them there? The ACLU can't be there for everybody.

And even then, I don't know much about the law, but I'm pretty sure when laws are changed, the people who were put in jail for them prior don't get released.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2018, 12:35:18 PM »
Yeah, we're not talking about being able to roll the back window down without leaning over. We're talking about things that put people in prison, or cost them in other ways. How many people should have to go to jail before somebody with deep pockets challenges the constitutionality of what sent them there? The ACLU can't be there for everybody.

And even then, I don't know much about the law, but I'm pretty sure when laws are changed, the people who were put in jail for them prior don't get released.
Some will and some won't. And those that do will generally have to do quite a bit of legwork. There will be plenty of pro boner help coming their way, but it'll still take time.

Poor dude is in prison because a police helicopter using infrared noticed a hotspot on his house indicating he was growing dope. Rich Dude gets busted under the same circumstances, but challenges the constitutionality of the search. Rich Dude wins and doesn't go to jail. Poor Dude has to appeal his conviction on the grounds that the search, and therefore the evidence it produced, was bogus. The problem is that a judge might conclude that even without the bogus search and inadmissible evidence there was still grounds for a conviction. Or, perhaps he grants the appeal but decides that a new trial is in order, absent the invalid evidence obtained. So yeah, just losing one component of a case doesn't necessarily get you off the hook.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2018, 07:16:56 PM »
But what if 200 people could have been able to set that precedent long before it was set, but couldn't because they weren't able to afford all those lawyers. At this point we're just waiting for the rich people to do what benefits us all. What if we can't wait? And what if a precedent isn't enough? What if it really is the case of not being able to get justice because we couldn't afford the best people to help us? The trickle down stuff doesn't work then.

What if?  What if 200 people could have been able to set that precedent long before it was set, but couldn't because... the fact pattern wasn't exact?  ...the makeup of the court wasn't sympathetic?   ...the rich plaintiff's $1500/hour lawyer didn't convince the court?  ...the Legislature didn't pass the laws to form the framework for the winning argument?   

These are all "shoulda woulda coulda's" that while interesting, and perhaps in some cases tragic, aren't determinative for forming precedent or driving legal decision-making. 

Offline Stadler

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2018, 07:47:59 PM »
Yeah, we're not talking about being able to roll the back window down without leaning over. We're talking about things that put people in prison, or cost them in other ways. How many people should have to go to jail before somebody with deep pockets challenges the constitutionality of what sent them there? The ACLU can't be there for everybody.

And even then, I don't know much about the law, but I'm pretty sure when laws are changed, the people who were put in jail for them prior don't get released.
Some will and some won't. And those that do will generally have to do quite a bit of legwork. There will be plenty of pro boner help coming their way, but it'll still take time.

Poor dude is in prison because a police helicopter using infrared noticed a hotspot on his house indicating he was growing dope. Rich Dude gets busted under the same circumstances, but challenges the constitutionality of the search. Rich Dude wins and doesn't go to jail. Poor Dude has to appeal his conviction on the grounds that the search, and therefore the evidence it produced, was bogus. The problem is that a judge might conclude that even without the bogus search and inadmissible evidence there was still grounds for a conviction. Or, perhaps he grants the appeal but decides that a new trial is in order, absent the invalid evidence obtained. So yeah, just losing one component of a case doesn't necessarily get you off the hook.

What's stopping the poor dude from challenging the constitutionality?  Nothing.  There's nothing in your fact pattern that actually SHOWS advantage. 

Expensive lawyers are not good lawyers.  Good lawyers can, if that's their chosen path, become expensive lawyers.   Around here, though, there are plenty of decent lawyers that have a bone to pick with The Man, and make their services available.   I've talked extensively about my experience on a jury, and the lawyer for the Defendant - if I can find his name it'd be better - made that his calling card.  His raison d'ętre is to make sure law enforcement doesn't get too big for their britches, and he's got the pony tail and long hair to prove it. 

I'm trying to be fair here; but the only real way where money comes in that I can come up with, is when that's the strategy; meaning, in certain cases, it's a strategic decision to challenge everything, file motions on everything, request discovery on everything, etc. in order to "starve out" the other side.   "OJ" wasn't "OJ" because of rich lawyers; "OJ" was "OJ" because of a combination of about four or five factors that all combined for a perfect storm.   No one can accuse the Los Angeles County of being "short of funds".  Vincent Bugliosi, in his excellent book on the subject - and I mean EXCELLENT - puts the blame squarely on Clark and Darden.   

Offline El Barto

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2018, 08:28:07 PM »
Yeah, we're not talking about being able to roll the back window down without leaning over. We're talking about things that put people in prison, or cost them in other ways. How many people should have to go to jail before somebody with deep pockets challenges the constitutionality of what sent them there? The ACLU can't be there for everybody.

And even then, I don't know much about the law, but I'm pretty sure when laws are changed, the people who were put in jail for them prior don't get released.
Some will and some won't. And those that do will generally have to do quite a bit of legwork. There will be plenty of pro boner help coming their way, but it'll still take time.

Poor dude is in prison because a police helicopter using infrared noticed a hotspot on his house indicating he was growing dope. Rich Dude gets busted under the same circumstances, but challenges the constitutionality of the search. Rich Dude wins and doesn't go to jail. Poor Dude has to appeal his conviction on the grounds that the search, and therefore the evidence it produced, was bogus. The problem is that a judge might conclude that even without the bogus search and inadmissible evidence there was still grounds for a conviction. Or, perhaps he grants the appeal but decides that a new trial is in order, absent the invalid evidence obtained. So yeah, just losing one component of a case doesn't necessarily get you off the hook.

What's stopping the poor dude from challenging the constitutionality?  Nothing.  There's nothing in your fact pattern that actually SHOWS advantage. 

The understanding to try and the ability to do it. I have no idea if Kylo was wealthy or not, I brought his case up to try and toss out a demonstration of Adami's question, not to address my greater point. But I do know that a whole lot of people got rung up before Kylo came along, and he [eventually] walked because he either paid for the best or stumbled across your ponytail feller who was able to pull it off. If you want to chalk that up to being smarter or just dumb-ass luck then so be it, but I think you'd be disingenuous to ignore the countless examples we all see of this topic on a very regular basis.

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I'm trying to be fair here; but the only real way where money comes in that I can come up with, is when that's the strategy; meaning, in certain cases, it's a strategic decision to challenge everything, file motions on everything, request discovery on everything, etc. in order to "starve out" the other side.   "OJ" wasn't "OJ" because of rich lawyers; "OJ" was "OJ" because of a combination of about four or five factors that all combined for a perfect storm.   No one can accuse the Los Angeles County of being "short of funds".  Vincent Bugliosi, in his excellent book on the subject - and I mean EXCELLENT - puts the blame squarely on Clark and Darden.
If OJ had to rely upon somebody from the public defenders pool where would he be right now?
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Offline Stadler

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2018, 08:56:06 AM »
Yeah, we're not talking about being able to roll the back window down without leaning over. We're talking about things that put people in prison, or cost them in other ways. How many people should have to go to jail before somebody with deep pockets challenges the constitutionality of what sent them there? The ACLU can't be there for everybody.

And even then, I don't know much about the law, but I'm pretty sure when laws are changed, the people who were put in jail for them prior don't get released.
Some will and some won't. And those that do will generally have to do quite a bit of legwork. There will be plenty of pro boner help coming their way, but it'll still take time.

Poor dude is in prison because a police helicopter using infrared noticed a hotspot on his house indicating he was growing dope. Rich Dude gets busted under the same circumstances, but challenges the constitutionality of the search. Rich Dude wins and doesn't go to jail. Poor Dude has to appeal his conviction on the grounds that the search, and therefore the evidence it produced, was bogus. The problem is that a judge might conclude that even without the bogus search and inadmissible evidence there was still grounds for a conviction. Or, perhaps he grants the appeal but decides that a new trial is in order, absent the invalid evidence obtained. So yeah, just losing one component of a case doesn't necessarily get you off the hook.

What's stopping the poor dude from challenging the constitutionality?  Nothing.  There's nothing in your fact pattern that actually SHOWS advantage. 

The understanding to try and the ability to do it. I have no idea if Kylo was wealthy or not, I brought his case up to try and toss out a demonstration of Adami's question, not to address my greater point. But I do know that a whole lot of people got rung up before Kylo came along, and he [eventually] walked because he either paid for the best or stumbled across your ponytail feller who was able to pull it off. If you want to chalk that up to being smarter or just dumb-ass luck then so be it, but I think you'd be disingenuous to ignore the countless examples we all see of this topic on a very regular basis.

I think I know you well enough to know what you DON'T mean here, but I'll ask anyway, in the interest of discussion.  What does "rich" or "poor" have to do with "understanding"?  That's a complicated road to go down, because it then begs "cause and effect".  If the non-wealthy person - or the counsel he can afford - doesn't have the understanding to make certain legal arguments, then we're in a whole different realm.  At that point, is the wealth the cause of someone "understanding", or the EFFECT of someone "understanding"?

We've (collective) talked about this before, and while I am loathe to put words in anyone's mouth, I believe Tempus opined about this a bit; "earning money" and "having money" are both skills.  Not to say that everyone WITH money has those skills, but there's a reason that lottery winners file bankruptcy at something like five times the national average (guessing on the number, but I trust point made).   Or that many professional athletes have a five-year window, plus/minus, and yet so often are financially struggling not five years out of the years of plenty.   

There is some research that shows that "intelligence" (for lack of a better word, but we can use "understanding" or "learning") is not tied to economics, but rather culture.  One example is a chapter in the (probably now dated) book, "Dumbing Down Our Kids" by Charles Sykes.   He showed that "rich/poor" wasn't the primary indicator in how children do academically in the grade school years.  What IS an indicator is the level of engagement of children year-round, i.e. not just when school is in session.  (Thus summer reading lists; the theory is, kids that stay engaged year-round take less time in the fall to reacquaint with the lessons of the previous year and thus can add to their learning, whereas kids that were not engaged spend an inordinate time in the fall "relearning" last years lessons). 

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I'm trying to be fair here; but the only real way where money comes in that I can come up with, is when that's the strategy; meaning, in certain cases, it's a strategic decision to challenge everything, file motions on everything, request discovery on everything, etc. in order to "starve out" the other side.   "OJ" wasn't "OJ" because of rich lawyers; "OJ" was "OJ" because of a combination of about four or five factors that all combined for a perfect storm.   No one can accuse the Los Angeles County of being "short of funds".  Vincent Bugliosi, in his excellent book on the subject - and I mean EXCELLENT - puts the blame squarely on Clark and Darden.
If OJ had to rely upon somebody from the public defenders pool where would he be right now?

Right answer for the wrong reasons.  He'd be in jail, but it wouldn't be because of "rich"/"poor" or quality of the defense.   Johnny Cochran was making a point with that trial, and he had a perfect storm to do it.  I wouldn't say he "didn't give a fuck about OJ" - I don't think that's true - but he was less about the details of THAT trial than he was making a bold sociological statement.  For various reasons, a public defender is not likely going to make that grand a statement with his client's fate on the line. 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 11:08:30 AM by Stadler »

Offline El Barto

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2018, 09:37:44 AM »
Easy part first: We'll take it from the back side. Would Johnny Cochran have been able to make that statement without a rich, powerful defendant?

I think wealth is taking too much of a role in this discussion. Power factors into it, and OJ's fame granted him a great deal of power. And as you pointed out there's a big sociological component involved, which as you also pointed out, is intertwined with wealth and power. In the end, though, I think we're losing the bigger picture by focusing on specific examples. As I pointed out, there will always be things that make situations unique. Yet I don't think you can deny that in the more general sense a guy with money/power is going to have a completely different experience in the legal system than some poor bastard from the hood. And these different experiences are going to effect the fairness of the process in the aggregate. Some of us have been watching it happen for 50 years now.

Do you honestly think that, all other things being equal, a rich guy, or a powerful guy, has the same chance of beating a rap he's clearly guilty of than a poor kid? Do you think that if they're both convicted the sentence will be comparable? Does the rich guy stand the same chance of being rung up for something they're not guilty of?


Insofar as rich/poor/understanding goes, that's a valid point. Yet I think when you address it as a wealth/power/sociological dynamic there are connections. I'm really trying to avoid digging rabbit holes here (like Kylo), but I do want to defend my point. Here's an interesting angle (which also addresses Harmony's initial point). If the poor kid sees this dynamic play out for the entirety of his life, in the only world he's known, does he actually have a reason (from his point of view) to learn about constitutional law? Hasn't he been conditioned to believe that it doesn't apply to him? From his standpoint once he's arrested his fate is sealed. We can point fingers about who's to blame for his willful ignorance, but that's not the point here. The point is whether or not wealth and power (and the intertwining sociological conditions) play a role in the the fairness of the system.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2018, 11:38:46 AM »
Easy part first: We'll take it from the back side. Would Johnny Cochran have been able to make that statement without a rich, powerful defendant?

He would have been able to make it, but no one would have listened.   He had an audience of at least 325 million people in real life; absent "OJ", his audience would have been, at best [insert population of Los Angeles County].   I don't think we're worlds apart here...

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I think wealth is taking too much of a role in this discussion. Power factors into it, and OJ's fame granted him a great deal of power. And as you pointed out there's a big sociological component involved, which as you also pointed out, is intertwined with wealth and power. In the end, though, I think we're losing the bigger picture by focusing on specific examples. As I pointed out, there will always be things that make situations unique. Yet I don't think you can deny that in the more general sense a guy with money/power is going to have a completely different experience in the legal system than some poor bastard from the hood. And these different experiences are going to effect the fairness of the process in the aggregate. Some of us have been watching it happen for 50 years now.

I don't disagree at all, but when you move it out of "wealth", and away from specific examples, the point gets, at least for me, blunted.  There's not a time, place or society in the history of the planet - I wouldn't even limit it to "humans", either - that didn't have a power differential of some kind.  Be it money, physical strength, intellectual strength, beauty, height, cock size, there is some element of power in almost everything.   I'll reserve the right to amend this, but I'd off the cuff go so far as to say in every single INTERACTION between two or more people there is some element of power in play. 

If you want to limit to "court rooms", every rule of civil (and criminal) procedure is predicated in at least part on power differential.  The notion of a jury of your "peers".  The requirement that prosecutors release all their evidence and their witness list.   Due process is a function of power differential.  Miranda is a response to a power differential.     

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Do you honestly think that, all other things being equal, a rich guy, or a powerful guy, has the same chance of beating a rap he's clearly guilty of than a poor kid? Do you think that if they're both convicted the sentence will be comparable? Does the rich guy stand the same chance of being rung up for something they're not guilty of?

I don't know because all things aren't equal.  I don't want you to think I'm being difficult or argumentative, but if you remove ALL variables EXCEPT "wealth", I would honestly say it could go both ways.  We had a Presidential election not that long ago where one candidate based his entire platform on the notion of that power/wealth differential, and went so far as to - in my mind, I'm sure some here would disagree - paint "wealth" itself as some sort of social crime to be punished (largely through taxation).  The "beeyonaires" and the "1%" were painted as villains.  How many movies have we seen where the denouement of the story is the "wealthy powerful person" (I don't say "guy", because I'm thinking of that movie with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds where she's the boss) gets their comeuppance and Hollywood justice is served, beeyotch! 

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Insofar as rich/poor/understanding goes, that's a valid point. Yet I think when you address it as a wealth/power/sociological dynamic there are connections. I'm really trying to avoid digging rabbit holes here (like Kylo), but I do want to defend my point. Here's an interesting angle (which also addresses Harmony's initial point). If the poor kid sees this dynamic play out for the entirety of his life, in the only world he's known, does he actually have a reason (from his point of view) to learn about constitutional law? Hasn't he been conditioned to believe that it doesn't apply to him? From his standpoint once he's arrested his fate is sealed. We can point fingers about who's to blame for his willful ignorance, but that's not the point here. The point is whether or not wealth and power (and the intertwining sociological conditions) play a role in the the fairness of the system.

And please know, I'm not trying to force you into a rabbit hole.  But I am coming at this from a sort of "so what?" perspective.  Not "so what" as in I don't care about  your point - exactly the opposite - but "so what" in the sense of it is what it is, like the day has light, the night does not, and Vince Neil is going to cavort with strippers.  You can't stop it even if you wanted to, and I would argue that you DON'T want to stop it, because the relative downside is far outweighed by the upside. 

I would  not have used that example, but your example is why I'm pushing back so much.  I agree with that; I don't think that is addressed by attacking "wealth" and "power".   I am well and truly blessed, and have connected so much with George and his family over the past few days because I can relate.  My dad is handicapped (physically) to the point he had to ask another father to have a catch with me to teach me how to throw a baseball (how humiliating that must have been).   But he taught me - implicitly, and explicitly - that you work with the tools you have.  You're not rich? Then be more efficient.  You're not a better athlete? Then be the smarter athlete.   You don't know about how that particular car engine works?  Ask someone who does. 

At some point, it helps to identify these points, but to attribute them to something abstract as "wealth" and "power" is to promote the victim mentality.  I would argue that the kid in your  example is not only conditioned to not only not bother with "constitutional law", but to not bother with the system in general.   We're scratching at something entirely different than what we started with; I would revamp our entire education system to address these points.  We're so worried about whether there are Commandments posted on the wall, or whether there's a swear word on page 67 or, worse, "homasectsial content" in that classic novel, or whether Jimmy gets proper self-esteem from getting whacked in the head in the first round of dodgeball that we're not teaching our kids what they SHOULD be learning.  Not hollow moral messages, but practical hands on information that empowers them.  That's where the power REALLY comes from.

Let me end with this:  can you name any poor people that pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve positions of power and wealth?  That have changed the course of the world they lived in?  I know I can; Bill Clinton.  Larry Ellison.   Ken Langone.   Jack Welch wasn't dirt poor, but modest.   (I did not name celebrities on purpose).   Other than Trump, do you think the list of ignorant stupid people that pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve positions of power and wealth?  I'm sure there's one or two, but by and large, these are the people that you read about being rolled at a strip club with a brief case of $400,000 in $1's and $5's. 

Offline El Barto

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2018, 01:36:06 PM »
Easy part first: We'll take it from the back side. Would Johnny Cochran have been able to make that statement without a rich, powerful defendant?

He would have been able to make it, but no one would have listened.   He had an audience of at least 325 million people in real life; absent "OJ", his audience would have been, at best [insert population of Los Angeles County].   I don't think we're worlds apart here...
Which still makes him an example of somebody whose wealth/power provided him an outcome mostly unavailable to us commoners.

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I don't disagree at all, but when you move it out of "wealth", and away from specific examples, the point gets, at least for me, blunted.  There's not a time, place or society in the history of the planet - I wouldn't even limit it to "humans", either - that didn't have a power differential of some kind.  Be it money, physical strength, intellectual strength, beauty, height, cock size, there is some element of power in almost everything.   I'll reserve the right to amend this, but I'd off the cuff go so far as to say in every single INTERACTION between two or more people there is some element of power in play. 
In a situation where a person is at risk of losing his freedom I don't think this is acceptable. See below.

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If you want to limit to "court rooms", every rule of civil (and criminal) procedure is predicated in at least part on power differential.  The notion of a jury of your "peers".  The requirement that prosecutors release all their evidence and their witness list.   Due process is a function of power differential.  Miranda is a response to a power differential.   
Which suggests that the power differential is something we as a society want to mitigate in this situation. Good on us. The eyeball test suggests to me that we're failing. You think there's room for improvement?

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Let me end with this:  can you name any poor people that pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve positions of power and wealth?  That have changed the course of the world they lived in?  I know I can; Bill Clinton.  Larry Ellison.   Ken Langone.   Jack Welch wasn't dirt poor, but modest.   (I did not name celebrities on purpose).   Other than Trump, do you think the list of ignorant stupid people that pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve positions of power and wealth?  I'm sure there's one or two, but by and large, these are the people that you read about being rolled at a strip club with a brief case of $400,000 in $1's and $5's.
I would suggest to you that Kennebunkport is chock full of ignorant and stupid people who blundered their way into power and wealth through accidents of birth. These are the sorts of people drown their dates or molest them at family parties and walk away with no repercussions.


I omitted some of your points (and replies), and dropped this one down here, because there's a more philosophical aspect of this I want to raise.
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I would  not have used that example, but your example is why I'm pushing back so much.  I agree with that; I don't think that is addressed by attacking "wealth" and "power".   I am well and truly blessed, and have connected so much with George and his family over the past few days because I can relate.  My dad is handicapped (physically) to the point he had to ask another father to have a catch with me to teach me how to throw a baseball (how humiliating that must have been).   But he taught me - implicitly, and explicitly - that you work with the tools you have.  You're not rich? Then be more efficient.  You're not a better athlete? Then be the smarter athlete.   You don't know about how that particular car engine works?  Ask someone who does. 
I'm sure you recognize that this isn't an option for all. In some cases it might be a lack of tools. In other cases it might be a lack of the mentality to do so. In the case of the latter we're all wired very differently, and while one person might have the ambition to start up a software company, another might be of the disposition to become an artist. This isn't something that I'm inclined to blame on the individual. None of us asked to be who we became, and none of us can relate to who we didn't become. Yet blame is exactly what we do when the problems arise. "If he can't afford his medications he should get a real job." That to me is saying that he shouldn't be the person he is, and isn't how a decent society should operate. You've made the argument that the poor kid had the capability to learn about the system that put him in prison. How can you be so sure of that? Because you did, or Jack Welch did? Maybe he's a dumbass. Neither of us know his circumstances. I'm sure we both want him to have equal access to the same outcomes as the people who did, but certainly from my point of view he does not, and I'm not inclined to dump it on him if I'm proven correct. And I certainly don't think "hey, he could have boned up on constitutional law and challenged his conviction" is a reasonable response to the disparity that put him there.


And I realize I'm dragging this thing in 18 different directions. Sorry bout that. As you said, this is pretty complex, and I'm having a hard time nailing down specifics in what I see time and time again to reflect the aggregate. Each part is a separate component, with different circumstances, but I can't ignore the constant pattern.
Argument, the presentation of reasonable views, never makes headway against conviction, and conviction takes no part in argument because it knows.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: The Wealthy and Powerful vs. The Rest of Us
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2018, 09:53:19 AM »
Which suggests that the power differential is something we as a society want to mitigate in this situation. Good on us. The eyeball test suggests to me that we're failing. You think there's room for improvement?

There's always room for improvement, but I find that a human trait, not a systemic one.  I don't know that we can get there here with written posts every couple of hours, but I suspect over a couple beers this would boil down ultimately to a discussion of human nature more than anything else.   I don't see the problem, necessarily, being in the system, I see it in the humans that use the system.

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I would suggest to you that Kennebunkport is chock full of ignorant and stupid people who blundered their way into power and wealth through accidents of birth. These are the sorts of people drown their dates or molest them at family parties and walk away with no repercussions.

And in keeping with what I wrote above, there are likely the same in south Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs.  In Louisiana.


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]I'm sure you recognize that this isn't an option for all. In some cases it might be a lack of tools. In other cases it might be a lack of the mentality to do so. In the case of the latter we're all wired very differently, and while one person might have the ambition to start up a software company, another might be of the disposition to become an artist. This isn't something that I'm inclined to blame on the individual. None of us asked to be who we became, and none of us can relate to who we didn't become. Yet blame is exactly what we do when the problems arise. "If he can't afford his medications he should get a real job." That to me is saying that he shouldn't be the person he is, and isn't how a decent society should operate. You've made the argument that the poor kid had the capability to learn about the system that put him in prison. How can you be so sure of that? Because you did, or Jack Welch did? Maybe he's a dumbass. Neither of us know his circumstances. I'm sure we both want him to have equal access to the same outcomes as the people who did, but certainly from my point of view he does not, and I'm not inclined to dump it on him if I'm proven correct. And I certainly don't think "hey, he could have boned up on constitutional law and challenged his conviction" is a reasonable response to the disparity that put him there.

So what's the next step?  For me, I don't fundamentally disagree with anything you've written, but what's the next step? Because I can't read your paragraph without thinking that the only response to that - beyond "acknowledge and ignore" - is an outcome based system, and I don't know how you do that and still keep the upside that we've seen over the last 100,000 years (or 6,000, depending on where you're parked) of human civilization?   "Outcome based system" meaning, not just the OPPORTUNITY for the same outcome, but the ACTUAL same outcome.   I'm really struggling to see how him "being stupid" doesn't come AFTER "equal access". 

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And I realize I'm dragging this thing in 18 different directions. Sorry bout that. As you said, this is pretty complex, and I'm having a hard time nailing down specifics in what I see time and time again to reflect the aggregate. Each part is a separate component, with different circumstances, but I can't ignore the constant pattern.

You and me both.  Seriously.  I think we both see the pattern, I think we are attributing it to different things (or maybe I should say, we see the variables differently).   I really, really hesitate to start focusing in on things like "stupid" (and I use that generically, since I don't at all think you were meaning to limit it to just that) because we get close to the outcome based solution - um, maybe the facts actually WERE that the Kennebunkport guy that drowned his date (wasn't he from Martha's Vineyard?  :)) deserved an acquittal and the other kid from Compton didn't? So why do we get to change that based on income/wealth/power?  The facts haven't changed? - and we also get dangerously close to dictating thought.   Meaning, if we are going to say "hey, not questioning your conviction is stupid, and we can't let you be stupid!" how far a putt is it to say "hey, not rejecting a border wall is stupid, and we can't let you be stupid!"?   And from there, it's only a backrub away from "hey, not accepting singe-payer universal healthcare and the corresponding higher taxes that go along with it is stupid, and we can't let you be stupid!"  Then where are we?