"Unfortunately, the patterns that we’ve been seeing recently are consistent: The police don’t show as much care when they are handling incidents that involve young black men and women, and so they do shoot and kill," says Jones-Brown, a former assistant prosecutor in Monmouth County, New Jersey. "And then for whatever reason, juries and prosecutor’s offices are much less likely to indict or convict."
Between 2003 and 2009, the DOJ reported that 4,813 people died while in the process of arrest or in the custody of law enforcement. These include people who died before an officer physically placed him or her under custody or arrest. This data, known as arrest-related deaths, doesn’t reveal a significant discrepancy between whites, blacks, or hispanics. It also doesn’t specify how many victims were unarmed. According to the FBI, which has tracked justifiable homicides up to 2012, 410 felons died at the hands of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.
But black people are more likely than whites or Hispanics to experience a police officer’s threat or use of force, according to the Department of Justice’s Police Public Contact Survey in 2008, the latest year for which data is available.
Supreme Court justices are remarkably susceptible to dubious factual claims when deciding important cases, according to an eye-opening new research paper.
An unverifiable source
1. In Caperton v. AT Massey Coal — a 2009 case in which the Court said the constitution required a state judge to recuse himself due to a “probability of bias” given his deep financial ties to one of the parties — Chief Justice John Roberts argued in his dissent that the judge’s participation in the case did not violate Due Process…
No source at all
2. In a 2012 decision in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for a 5-4 majority that prison strip-searches were constitutional even in the absence of evidence that the person was carrying contraband. Kennedy argued, among other things, that the number of gang fights in prisons was rising…
3. In NASA v. Nelson, decided in 2011, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court that NASA’s policy of conducting background checks on contract workers did not infringe on privacy rights. Alito shot down the plaintiffs’ claim that their privacy was violated, arguing that “millions of private employers” used background checks.
His evidence was dicey: an amicus brief in which one association declares itself to be among “88% of US companies” that perform background checks. Larsen puzzled over that statistic: “Where this number comes from is a mystery….
A false government claim
4. In Nken v. Holder, Roberts in 2009 decided for the Court that removing a non-citizen from the country while the person’s case was being appealed did not constitute irreparable injury. He argued that it was U.S. policy to facilitate the return of the person to the country if the individual won the case.
For his evidence, the chief justice cited a brief by the U.S. solicitor general, arguing against the plaintiff, which contained that statement of federal policy. Immigration lawyers later disputed claim and demanded evidence; in response, the solicitor general’s office backed off and submitted a correction to the Supreme Court. But that didn’t change the ruling.
A curiously timed blog post
5. In a 2013 decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the the Court that a Thai international student studying in the U.S. was legally allowed to resell textbooks on eBay that were sent to him from Thailand. He cited a brief from the American Library Association which said that “library collections contain at least 200 million books published abroad.”
But the 200 million figure, which revealed the magnitude of the issue, was based on an unverified estimate in a blog post…
Consider the source
6. In the 2010 case Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the Court upholding a law banning “material support” for groups linked to designated terrorists. In rejecting the First Amendment challenge, Roberts cited a brief from the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group whose mission it is to fight anti-Semitism, which said money raised for purportedly charitable reasons have been funneled to terrorist entities…
A discredited expert
7. In the 2007 case Gonzales v. Carhart upholding bans on late-term abortion, Kennedy wrote for the Court that “it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.”
His citation was quite sketchy: an amicus brief which relied on the work of David Reardon, an anti-abortion advocate with a PhD from an uncredited and now-shuttered college in Hawaii.
Lucy was 12 when she was raped and forced to have sex with numerous men in Rotherham, an English town of 257,000 people. When she finally found the courage to tell her mother, two police officers came to collect her soiled clothes as evidence, only to lose them days later. A check was mailed for loss of property and the case was closed.
Lucy’s story is just one of many child abuse cases that have recently rocked Britain and shocked the world. At least 1,400 minors were sexually abused and trafficked from 1997 to 2013 while local authorities reportedly looked the other way, according to an official report on the sexual abuse of children in Rotherham.
Despite numerous reports of rampant abuse and exploitation, only one case, involving three teenage girls, was prosecuted, and five men were sent to jail.