May 5, 2012

"Judge Robert Mandelbaum asked to meet singer Suzanne Vega, who is married to a defense lawyer in the case..."

"... after convicting the demonstrators of disorderly conduct."
But Vega, whose hits include “Tom’s Diner,” took the meeting as a chance to tell her fan, “I’m really disappointed by the verdict.”

“He told me that’s my prerogative,” Vega said outside the judge's courtroom. “It was sort of awkward.”
Ah, go write a song about it. Call it "My Prerogative."


Scott said...

Bobby Brown: It's My Prerogative

Scott said...

Dut duh duh duh, dut duh duh duh, dut duh duh dut duh da duh dut.

edutcher said...

There's a judge up near Lake Erie that probably would have tossed in the clink for a night for disagreeing.

SteveR said...

Did he roll her a crepe?

Lem said...

“It was sort of awkward.”

Awkward Turtle

Anga2010 said...


Mark said...

Professor: I know it's not a good idea to trust a newspaper version of a news event. That being said, based on this story it does appear that law enforcement in NY is going beyond an approved Terry stop -- again, at least as reflected by the news story. Do you read the story differently? I ask b/c I usually (not always, but usually) agree with your take on legal issues but the tone of your post suggests to me that we don't agree here.

howzerdo said...

Why did the judge ask to meet her? Fan or not, isn't that a little strange under the circumstances? He had to suspect she would tell him she disagreed with the verdict. I wonder if he asked for her autograph too?

Aridog said...

Mark said...

... based on this story it does appear that law enforcement in NY is going beyond an approved Terry stop ...

What in the story cited makes it seem like NYPD is going beyond the limits of a Terry Stop? The cited story didn't even give the charge they defendants were convicted of, which was disorderly conduct. No Terry Stop (detention for suspicion, etc.) is evident because the protesters were in locked arms blocking a pedestrian sidewalk and part of a street, fronting the police precinct. They were lawfully directed to disburse locked arms and clear the sidewalk, not to disperse per se. They refused and were arrested, not "stopped" on any suspicion when the cause was obvious.

It is NYC, a very crowded city, and the aggrieved crowd (reported elsewhere as nearing 200) was lead by a collection of "usual suspects" who spend most of their time gleaning spotlights in protest and use old 1950-60's techniques, like locked arms, perhaps hoping the police might bash one or two of them ala' "Days of Rage" circa 1968. They got a few of the "usual suspects" arrested, martyrs you know, so it was a partial success from their point of view.

The police do have every right to order public walkways cleared of impeding groups, such as those with locked arms. That's not stopping on suspicion, it is maintaining the public order.

Aridog said...

Correction of my 7:32 comment:

" The cited story did give the charge they defendants were convicted of, which was disorderly conduct. "

Aridog said...

Curiosity question:

How many legal field people here would consider a man walking down the street carrying a paper bag in one hand, when the paper bag is not obviously full, but the content is obviously heavy, as reasonable suspicion for a Terry Stop?

See, where I live, that is considered the preferred "holster" for a pistol by many thugs ... purported not "suspicious", easy to dump when necessary, easy to shoot through when you chose, quick to "draw" from if you like, etc.

The classic case involving such a man and bag/gun incident was the killing of Federal Police Officer Ron Sheffield on 9/21/2001, in the lobby of the McNamara (federal) Building, Detroit. Ron was shot through the arm pit at point blank range, with a .357 Magnum, while he reached for the shooter's bag & gun, thus by-passing the bullet proof vest he wore. There as no racial element, just murder, in a crowded lobby of citizens where several shots were fired to bring down the shooter. No civilians were hit or hurt. The police did their job, protecting, and one paid with his life due to a guy carrying a paper bag that just didn't look right.

Mark said...

Aridog: Perhaps one day I will write clearly enough that people understand me. But as I get older I truly wonder.

You are right: as for the protesting defendants, I have no idea whether they violated the law. And no Terry stop issue is implicated by those arrests.

But I was not speaking of the protesting defendants. I was speaking of the policy that led to the protest, which is the real reason Suzanne was there, if I understand correctly.

I will quote the article:

"But [Vega] stood by her decision to protest the NYPD’s policy of stopping people they deem suspicious on the street, asking them questions and patting them down for weapons or drugs."

If that description of the policy is accurate -- a very big if, I realize -- then the policy appears to violate Terry v. Ohio. As I understand Terry, an officer cannot just "deem" a person suspicious and then frisk them. To stop a person, the officer has to have a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. To then frisk the person stopped, the officer has to further have a reasonable belief that the person is armed.

Based on the news article, the NYPD's policy violates Terry.

As a longtime reader of the Professor's blog, I find I most enjoy her posts where what she has found interesting enough to write about aligns with topics or persons whom I have also long appreciated. Sort of a confluence of things or persons I like -- Ann, and whatever her subject is. I have loved Suzanne Vega's music for 25 years or so. I find her to be not unlike the good professor, in the sense that both are idealistic but apply a good dose of hard reality to those ideals.

I do not agree with either Ann or Suzanne on every topic they choose to opine about, but I always believe they defend their positions in an intellectually honest way, which is more than can be said about many these days. I'd probably call Ann and Suzanne kindred spirits -- or, at least, they have something in common which causes me to return over and over, for many years, to their work.

Hopefully this post is clearer than the first, but I doubt it.

EDH said...

“I’m really disappointed by the verdict.”

Defense lawyer Paul Mills, Vega’s husband, vowed to appeal the verdicts.

Why be disappointed? Taking this case up the appellate ladder for a lawyer is like going from singing "My Name is Luka" in coffee shops to a full-blown theater tour.

TheFunkyDonutMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheFunkyDonutMan said...

I was thinking the same thing.
"Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum!"

Aridog said...

@Mark ... as I age I miss things, such as Vega's remark containing the word "deem." As you acknowledge that's pretty iffy ... and I strong suspect Vega either didn't know or didn't care about the legal interpretation of the word "deem."

It is a fairly easy leap to perceive a suspicion as reasonable without "deeming" it so. That's a semantic morass at least. The example I gave of the man with a paper bag is a fair example. No "deeming" necessary IMO.

Mark said...

@aridog -- I am not quoting Suzanne Vega. I am quoting the Daily News. The article that Ann linked says that the policy allows for an NYPD officer to "deem" someone suspicious and then stop them. It's not Suzanne saying that, it's the Daily News describing the policy.

Perhaps an officer can only "deem" someone suspicious and a person to be stopped if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. Seems unlikely though -- either that or the protesters don't understand the law of Terry v. Ohio, which has been the law for nearly 50 years -- so I doubt it. I presume this NYPD policy of which these protesters are complaining is a change from a prior policy that followed Terry, although I don't know that. I don't really get why people would be protesting *now* if this has been the policy for a long time.

As for your example of a shooting in a federal building, that scenario is not a Terry stop scenario. The government can search you when you enter a federal government building, and the federal government does search you in any federal government building I have visited in the last, say, 10 years. Law enforcement in that situation does not need reasonable suspicion to search you.

Aridog said...

Mark ... my point vis a vis a "Terry Stop" was that this person should have been stopped ands frisked long before he reached the federal building. It's a fair hike from parking or bus stop to the public entrance. The nearly empty but otherwise heavy bag is grounds for suspicion of criminality. Had he been stopped and checked out, if he had a CCW (now a CPL) permit, fine, move along now. But that was not the case.

In my experience Terry Stops are performed far less frequently than deserved. A uniformed officer stops and asks you what'zup should not be grounds for taking offense. In my experience the only people, here in the USA, who carry on about this "police state" crap are those who in fact have intentions to commit crime or fraud. But it is every time some self anointed aggrieved individual gets stopped, even if nothing else comes of it. The police get a bad rap in the press and later we wonder why so many cops have bad attitudes. No doubt in my military mind why.

Mark said...

@aridog: First, thank you for your service to our country.

You wrote: <>

You may be right about Terry being bad law, but I don't think a different policy could have helped much vis-a-vis your example. A guy carrying a bag is simply not something that is going to trip anyone's wires, regardless of the policy. I suppose a search-everyone-everywhere-in-public policy could do the trick, but that's obviously not workable or something we would want to work in the USA.


I don't know what your experience actually is. In my experience, I have seen plenty of officers able to articulate the facts necessary to make out a reasonable suspicion to stop someone (a bit tougher to then come up with the reasons to frisk unless they are valid i.e. based on actual evidence). It's the cases where the officers don't even bother to come up with a reason that are the problems.

<< A uniformed officer stops and asks you what'zup should not be grounds for taking offense.>

That's not a Terry stop.

<< In my experience the only people, here in the USA, who carry on about this "police state" crap are those who in fact have intentions to commit crime or fraud.>>

I disagree. I think libertarians tend to be the ones "carrying on" about "this police state crap" and I don't think they have intentions to commit crime or fraud. Rand Paul was angered to be detained at his local airport, and I applauded him for complaining. I am not a member of the Libertarian party but I applaud their respect for the Fourth Amendment. Glenn Reynolds does an excellent job of making this case regularly on Instapundit.


In my experience most law enforcement officers have good attitudes. The ones with bad attitudes are few and far between. And I don't think the police get a bad rap. I think they are a very well-respected profession, much more respected than my profession, I'll tell you that! :-)

Our founding fathers got the Fourth Amendment right. You may disagree with the Warren Court's Terry v. Ohio decision, but in practice it seems to work pretty well. And again, I don't think your example shows why Terry doesn't work. I don't think your example has anything to say about Terry. There may have been a failure that allowed that to happen, but it wasn't Terry that allowed that to happen.

Nice typing with you.

Duncan said...

Here's where the judge and the singer got together:

"If you want me
You can find me
Left of center
Off of the strip

In the outskirts
In the fringes
In the corner
Out of the grip"

--Just a bit of pop cult one picks up listening to right-wing-hate radio (which has a prodigious appetite for bumper music and guest themes). said...

Thank you! I say do it, definitely! Flowers are such a common sticker that you should have no problem finding a set that will work for you. Just make sure you don't get gems like I did. ;) I would love to see the finished mani if you decide to do it! It seems like such a cool idea.
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