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Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual

Articles by Edward Lyon

Successful Alternatives to Armed Police Response

Barry Friedman runs New York University’s Policing Project. He points out that police officers are molded from a “one-size-fits-all-model. Police just aren’t trained to do a lot of the things they end up doing. They are trained for force and law. So you get force-and-law results.” The old saying “when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail” is particularly apt with respect to cops, so some forward-thinking municipalities around the country have stopped sending hammers to every type of emergency service call with unsurprisingly positive results.  

Currently, activists across the country ...

When Police Caught Lying, the Spin Begins

Many police officers have become the opposite of what they were meant to be. Even when caught on video committing atrocities against the citizens they swore to protect, they downplay and even get away with the evil they have done by lying and spinning the facts.

Take for example Buffalo, New York, on June 4, 2020. In clear daylight, the city’s Emergency Response Team (“ERT”) marched toward peaceful protesters. Two ERT cops shoved an elderly man down with such force that when the victim’s head hit the ground an audible “thunk” is heard as blood runs from one ear. The ERT leaves him.

The cops tell the press he “tripped and fell.” The Lie.

Then a video of what happened appears on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Uh oh: The Truth.

A Buffalo police captain explains the cops’ perspective was based on a camera ...

The Warrior Cop Mindset

Somewhere along the timeline to the present day, the warrior mentality inherent in the monikers has taken root in the psyche of America’s cops. It is not confined to street cops, either. It flows upward through command ranks, sometimes all the way to treetop levels, where decisions are made to foot the bill for additional training that turns average police officers into “warrior cops.”

Far from being the licensed peace officers they were originally commissioned to be, ...

Police Body Cams Are not a Cure-All

There is a growing movement to defund police departments or at least reduce their budgets to divert funding to underserved community needs.

Police response? No, do not defund us. Instead, give us millions of dollars more. We will buy body cameras to fix all of the problems people are complaining about.

Academia weighed in on the issue through a 2016 University of Cambridge study on 2,000 U.S. and U.K. cops. They observed a huge drop in complaints about police resulting from “the ‘digital witness’ of the camera,” which caused positive improvements by everyone.

However, a trial study evaluating 2,224 Metropolitan officers in Washington, D.C., came to the opposite conclusion, reporting in 2019 that “cameras did not meaningfully affect police behavior on a range of outcomes, including complaints and use of force.”

Daniel Lawrence, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center in Washington, D.C., identifies three important factors concerning the effectiveness of body cams: ...

Ban the Box not Applicable to COVID-19 Stimulus Aid

This built-in impediment to employment for former prisoners has been eased somewhat over the past few years by a movement called Ban the Box. The “box” is the one on employment applications asking about an applicant’s criminal history. However, revelations from a 2011 study found that many prospective employers skirt the banned box by simply barring former prisoners from applying for a job. A full third of able-bodied, unemployed men in their prime have a criminal record; that’s a lot of people potentially frozen out of the job market. 

That number of unemployed former prisoners would likely be a lot higher were it not for the inner drive and entrepreneurial spirit of many of them who ...

The Lunacy of Qualified Immunity

The legal doctrine of qualified immunity is a legalized adoption of this tenet as applied to public servants who commit a wrongful act during their official duties.

They are shielded from civil liability unless the plaintiff can prove the official had no notice that the act they were performing violated one or more constitutional rights that had been clearly established as a violation by a court, statute, law or policy adopted by their employing agency.

Basic moral societal behavior should be taught to all people beginning at a young age, starting with parents and reinforced by schoolteachers. These are things such as not stealing property from others and not lying. These are societal norms that should not have to be deemed wrong in specific circumstances by courts, legislatures or employing agencies, yet they are anyway.

A good example of qualified immunity lunacy involved two Fresno, California, police officers executing ...

FOIA Redaction Limbo: How Low They Will Go

One of the things most free governments around the world have historically admired about the United States is its willingness to open its file cabinets’ many drawers to its citizens upon request. Since the passage of the Patriot Act that followed the Twin Towers’ destruction on 9/11, however, that willingness to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by the government has become increasingly limited by congressional acts with whatever remains untouched steadily dwindling.

Journalist Emma Best has submitted enough FOIA requests that she is considered to be a “vexatious” requester, according to writer Tim Cushing. She has filed more than 1,600 FOIA requests with the FBI alone.

What the government often does is deny, dilute, and redact its responses in order to “secure the nation” and “protect the integrity of deliberative processes.”

AlphaBay was one of the many progenies of the dark web’s Silk Road, a clandestine URL site where anything from firearms, identities, and narcotics had been bought and sold. A U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) taskforce, combining elements of the DEA, FBI, and IRS, took down AlphaBay in 2017.

The DOJ issued a public statement about the operation and posted it ...

Big Brother, as Well as Big Business, Are Tracking You: the Snitch in Your Own Pocket, Purse, or Belt Holder

For instance, it is not unusual for a person with a cellphone to receive a text message and accompanying coupon for a business they are strolling by. Yes, Big Business wants your business to the point that it tracks your every move through your smart phone. Big Business is on point and on its toes in its never-ending quest for its share of the almighty dollar. It is, however, the entity that mints those dollars that citizens need be aware of.

Big Brother has partnered with Big Business in a Big Way to share the ability to track peoples’ movements. The Wall Street Journal (“WSJ”) reported on a major operation by the Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) Customs and Border Protection division in early 2020. The anomaly the agencies focused on was a spate of cellular phone signals in a remote desert area between ...

Never Convicted but Never Exonerated, Either

Issues facing exonerees and wrongfully convicted individuals have been recurring topics in CLN and PLN. Still, there’s another category of arguably similarly situated citizens that must also be paid some attention: Those who were wrongfully accused of crimes they did not commit.

Even though a great many of these innocents were cleared of culpability and released before trial and others prior to being indicted, consider those whose lives were temporarily disrupted. Some of these victimized citizens’ lives would be all but destroyed just by their accusation and arrest.

Brandon Gonzales, 23, was attending a homecoming party in October 2019 at a Greenville, Texas, event hall. He had left the event and was sitting in a car outside when gunfire erupted from within the venue. He was told by fleeing partygoers that someone was inside shooting a firearm. Two partiers were killed, and many others wounded. Gonzales left the area and went home, thankful that neither he nor any of his friends had been among the dead or wounded, resuming his former life ... for a short while.

Gonzales would fall victim to an all-too-real (and common) example of an erroneous eyewitness identification. Three days after leaving ...

Idaho Exoneree Fights for Wrongful Conviction Compensation

Despite being innocent of the crime, after intensive browbeating by cops, he pleaded guilty. This is not as uncommon as it may seem. A full 18 percent of exonerations arise from guilty pleas. [CLN, August 2019]

The victim’s mother, Carol Dodge, was never quite fully convinced of Tapp’s guilt in the death of her daughter Angie. In a surprising twist, it was Dodge who steered the exoneration efforts to genetic genealogist Cece Moore. Moore was able to use cutting-edge technology to resurrect remaining leftover DNA evidence in a highly degraded state to find a match between it and the killer on the DNA profile match company GED Match. The accused, Brian Leigh Dripps, Sr., pleaded guilty to the crime. [CLN, December 2019, p. 41]

A newly exonerated Tapp was freed from prison in 2017 to a new life — hard labor shoveling hot tar on a road crew. Idaho’s prison system, like most others, provides virtually nothing in the way ...



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