The Unserious Approach To Ferguson – And A Serious Solution

I’m sure Eric Holder has good intentions, as far as they go. 

We’ve seen this before:  civil unrest followed by the National Guard followed by a sop from Washington, usually in the form of some high profile visit or other.  Maybe by the President.  More often the Attorney General.

On his day-long swing through the area, the attorney general was welcomed warmly at every stop.  At Drake’s Place, a soul food restaurant located a few blocks from the scene of overnight clashes, Holder went table to table offering words of encouragement to some stung by the fatal shooting and days of unrest. 

“We don’t want the world to know that’s all that’s going on here,” said Viola Murphy, mayor of the nearby Cool Valley community.

“We can make it better,” Holder told her.


How are you going to “make it better”, Eric?  You’ve got some kind of magic wand you wave?

We’ve said this many times:  civil unrest is an indictment of our courts and our legal profession.  Another program or edict emanating from Washington, punctuated by a media saturated visit from a high ranking official, isn’t going to accomplish jack other than maybe quelling the immediate disorder.  For now.

The serious solution, or at least one serious solution, is very simple.  Norm Pattis alluded to it the other day:

What is not written in the Constitution is the legal doctrine the courts have fallen in love with and rely upon to keep police misconduct cases from going to trial — qualified immunity. This doctrine sprung from the fertile imagination of a judiciary sick and tired of presiding over civil rights cases. It is a product of a judicial revolution no one noticed, a revolution that has effectively closed the courts to ordinary people seeking justice.


We at Lawyers on Strike suggested this kind of serious solution more than two years ago:

Statutes can be amended by a simple act of Congress.

So if the people of the US ever recover their gumption, they might want to browbeat their federal legislators/congress-critters into amending 42 U.S.C. 1983 to provide a few things to counteract the execrable rulings of the SCOTUS.  Such as:

1) no immunities for public officials, including judges;

2) no statute of limitations;

3) no summary judgment permitted (F.R.Civ.P Rule 56 won’t apply)

4) Make it all retroactive.


It bears repeating:  we have a lot of lawyers who need work.  For a long time – too long – lawyer “work” with any cache or prospect of a prosperous living has meant to become a toady and tool of the powerful against the weak:  represent the bank, the insurance company, the government.

Even so, all the unemployed and underemployed lawyers are a great untapped resource out there, and Ferguson demonstrates once again – just like the Occupy movement did – that there’s an increasingly desperate need.  What’s not to like? 

A “litigation explosion”?  Meh.  The only litigation explosion that ever actually happened was a stupefying increase in criminal prosecutions and imprisonments.  All the rest was insurance company propaganda.  We should be ashamed of ourselves for being so thoroughly duped. 

Nevertheless, however simple this serious solution is, it’s not easy.  There are a lot of conflicting and powerful interests – police unions, for example.  And as a people we don’t do difficult too well anymore.  Or at all, it sometimes seems.

There is a basic lack of discipline, I think.  Mental discipline in the first instance is required to understand what a serious solution might be.  And then personal and behavioral discipline is required to implement the serious solution.

So in the meantime there are emotionally cathartic visits by the Attorney General to the trouble spot of the day, and then when we tire of that there is Kim Kardashian.  Until the next unarmed black teenager is shot to death by a police officer at one of those odd moments that makes it a triggering event. 

The undisciplined lurch from crisis to crisis, in between long periods of indifference and indolence.  If that’s what we have become then what happened in Ferguson is just random, episodic noise, fodder for a news cycle and little else.



Filed under Judicial lying/cheating, Media incompetence/bias, Striking lawyers, wrongful convictions

4 responses to “The Unserious Approach To Ferguson – And A Serious Solution

  1. Absolutely! But with this Congress? And state legislators under the influence of dirty money?


    • If the public got as ginned up about making that kind of change as they do about Kim Kardashian’s wardrobe or which team is going to the Super Bowl we might get somewhere. Public pressure would overcome congressional fecklessness. And you know what? Maybe the public would be more inclined in that direction if, when they or their neighbors sat on juries it was a more meaningful experience than just rubber stamping the government’s case against an individual, and occasionally the individual faced down the government.

      We need more lawsuits. A lot more. And more trials. We have a lot to sort out, and a lot of work to do.


      • I agree but also suspect most of the public prefer to think they are immune from the rampant injustice, or hope they are–which is why they choose to believe the victim, regardless of race, must have done something wrong. Or they choose to follow sports or celebrity scandals because they cannot deal with the frightening, real issues.
        Then there are those who continue to have unquestioned trust in police and prosecutors. Michael Morton’s deceased wife’s family are typical. The prosecutor easily convinced them of his guilt–until 25 years later the proof of his innocence made national headlines and TV.


  2. Rolf Rosendahl

    Hello Lawyers on Strike. I am one of the Wrongfully Convicted. I got 15 years in Missouri based on perjury clear and simple on the “face of the documents” including a Governor’s Extradition Warrant. I spent all my years in prison becoming a “jailhouse lawyer” and I understand the cases and the courts all mentioned here. I most recently filed my Sec.1983 in the DC District Court arguing that Heck v. Humphrey does not apply to a criminal court that lacks jurisdiction because no probable cause for a charge ever existed and no probable cause hearing ever held. Jurisdiction cannot be based on perjury right? Jurisdiction cannot be subject to “time bars, procedural defects at trial, etc., right? The DC Chief Judge shot me into the Appeals Court within 30 days citing Heck v. Humphrey. The appellate court decided, sua sponte, that time bars were in place, failure to overturn a state court (without personal jurisdiction) conviction, and of course, res judicata. Cert. denied Rosendahl v. Jay Nixon, et al. (2010). I did in fact bring a habeas corpus (federal) while in prison, in fact five of them in state and fedral raisend the issue, all “summarily ignored” like all pro se prisoner suits regardless of legal precedents. After getting parole eight years after false conviction, I hired a man I had met in prison, John William Simon, to again take my habeas corpus to state court arguing that a prosecution that was void ab initio and based on documented perjury required a ruling on those merits. In case you recognize the name: John William Simon, yes, this is the man who argued Spencer v. Kemna in the Supreme Court in 1998. John lost his job at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for representing Spencer successfully, and I knew Randy Spencer as he worked with me as a prison law clerk. (I did not care much for him) but, Souter’s Opinion was exactly what I had been saying. I still have all the yellowing documents and still suffer from getting my skull bashed in when the 1983 action was ordered into discovery by the District Judge in K.C.Mo., Howard Sachs, and the defendants admitted everything under Fed.R.Civ.Proc 36 and 37, but they said “so what” the claim is barred by Heck. While I might be the only “jailhouse lawyer” to successfully bring a civil rights claim against the Governor of Missouri for outright perjury on the face of his sworn Extradition Warrant to California.(claiming I was convicted without so much as a preliminary hearing, or in federal courts, a prosecution without having an indictment). I also have the distinction of getting fifteen years on a marijuana charge in which it was alleged I “manufactured” 28.83 grams of marijuana (a first offense). Should anyone examine federal habeas corpus under Sec. 2241, it states: “for violations of the Constitution AND THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES.” Last I looked, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3182 is a federal statute that remains virtually unchanged since 1793, and the “Due Process Clause” applies to violations of statutory federal law, which also prohibits perjury by a state Governor. In re Doo Woon, 18 F. 898 (D.Ore. 1883), is still quoted today as authority for JURISDICTIONAL claims for extradition between states. There was a forfeiture action that was both the reason and goal for this absurd prosecution as I had the misfortune to own very valuable property where the housing was required for a then “secret” B-2 Stealth Bomber Wing. Took em’ ten years to get that civil forfeiture because I fought to the end, I guess if I had pled guilty I would have gotten time served, and I have re-filed every four years since Heck v. Humphrey was decided in 1994 while my first 1983 action was already in motion from a County Jail cell long BEFORE I was convicted at a bogus trial before a highly prejudiced judge. Yeah, I quoted Mooney and Giglio, and all the other judicial bias cases, so what? If anyone here who does criminal defense can imagine a prosecutor answering a discovery motion under Rovario v. U.S., by saying: ” the witness must have been someone, but we don’t know who (the state’s own) witness was …” My trial judge is currently a Chief Deputy Attorney General in Missouri, or at least he was when I sued him last. Rolf Rosendahl, pro se. Any suggestions at how to get a pardon from a Governor I sued are welcome at:


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