Updated: Jan 15
Legal news at ALO takes a back seat this month to legal news on the national level as America staggers to the end of the Trump era. Thorny legal questions have sprung up almost daily for a while, and some of them are worth comment here. Before getting to that, it might be worth talking about silver linings that might emerge from the cloud hanging over this transition period. There actually might be some good news coming out of this mess.
The Trump Years
The Trump years had policy issues that folks either supported or opposed, which is to be expected. Those issues were heated at times, and his decisions related to the environment, taxation of the ultra-wealthy and policies toward minority groups, along with his approach to the pandemic, likely cost him his job. But it was the style of governing that was the key to his solidly entrenched popularity among his rabid base. That style, and the enthusiasm it created among those who approved of it, promised to attract a number of office seekers attempting to emulate Trump in order to get elected. That suddenly changed January 6th, 2021. There were already signs the day before that Trump’s election fraud myth was turning away a portion of Republican support when both Democrats won in the Georgia Senate elections. Voter analysis clearly revealed that some voters who supported Trump in November did not vote for the candidates he endorsed in January. That all came to a head when the Trump mob stormed the Capitol. In the aftermath of that event, a significant number of Trump supporters spoke up and declared they were done, and that pattern has continued as the story unfolds. There is no suggestion that the hard core Trumpers will abandon ship in great numbers, but with his recent loss as a starting point, the Georgia Senate race as a midpoint, and the Capitol fiasco as the end point, savvy office seekers will be wary of taking up the Trump banner anytime soon in national elections. Even a five point shift away from his November total would spell doom for any candidate, and that shift has already happened. Hopefully sane candidates will be the norm going forward, at least for the near future.
Were any laws broken by Trump in recent weeks? Of course there were. His calls to various Georgia election officials asking them to change vote totals were clearly illegal. One of those calls was recorded and presents obvious illegality by Trump. There is no such thing as recalculating votes after they have been recounted and audited several times. One of the more interesting legal items comes from Pennsylvania where a lawyer, Jerome M. Marcus of Marcus & Auerbach LLC, hired by Trump, withdrew from a still pending lawsuit contesting the election, and in so doing said he was being asked to break the law by none other than his client Donald Trump. [Trump Lawyer In Philly Says He Was Used To Aid 'Crime']
"The undersigned respectfully requests leave of this court to withdraw as counsel ... inasmuch as the client has used the lawyer's services to perpetrate a crime and the client insists upon taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant and with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement," the motion said.
This is someone on the Trump payroll, trusted enough to go to court and advocate for the President to overturn an election. One can only assume he was a Trump supporter or would never have been hired in the first place. Remember this is Trump’s lawyer speaking directly to the Court.
But then there is the Trump mob. They were incited by a number of Trump family members, Trump's minions and finally by Trump himself. Please watch and then ask yourself if these people share any of the blame for the events of January 6th. And remember this is just a small sampling.
But Trump’s efforts to stir up violence go way back. His calls for violence were on display in many of his ridiculous rallies, where he advocated for not being too kind to folks who protested or to the press. He also incited the riots by continually pushing the debunked theory that there was fraud in the election. He had over 50 lawsuits to show proof of that and judge after judge, including those appointed by him, said there was no evidence of fraud. Losing in court, he tried to simply increase the lie and take his case directly to his crowd, many of whom took the bait eagerly. From all of this, it is clear that Trumpers believe a vote is fraudulent if it is cast before election day and even more fraudulent if cast by a non-white person. The threats, the violence, and the anger are the result of a group of white folks that can plainly see their power gradually slipping away. Republicans have won the popular vote for President only one time in the past 30 years, and that trend will only worsen as the white share of the population decreases. Many countries have tried to figure out some system to allow minority rule through voting systems that favor the minority. That has worked to some extent here where gerrymandering and voter suppression are common tools of the minority party to win elections, and the electoral college furthers that effort. But the steadily eroding numbers make it clear to those on the far right that they are not going to be able to hold national power in the future without a substantial change of policies. This past election revealed that futility, and the result was the one effort that has often been mentioned as a last resort, using force to change the results of an election. So far it hasn’t been successful but expect more violence in the future. Many militia types have been dreaming of the day when they can use their weapons for an actual cause, instead of merely waving them about at public meetings. The notion that elections results can be overturned by force should be scary to any thinking American, because once that approach is started, it has the potential to become the norm. It will be a stormy ride.
Another legal issue to come out of the Trump riots has been censorship. Many complain that silencing Trump on social media is some form of censorship, when in fact it is not. Censorship is an effort by a government entity to prevent certain ideas from being presented, and is very strictly limited by the Constitution and case law. But it only applies to the government, and not to private entities. Twitter for example is not the government, and can restrict the content of messages allowed on their platform as they see fit. Here is an example: No one could prevent a US citizen from standing in a public place and expressing support for a political cause as long as that was done in a manner that did not incite illegal conduct. But that same citizen would not be allowed to stand on your porch and utter things you disliked without your permission. The reason is clear, anyone passing by might assume you agree with ideas spoken by someone on your porch and therefore you control what is said on your property. Or to put it more directly, do you suppose a Trump supporter would allow anyone to post a Biden sign on his lawn???
The Trump riots will be examined in exhausting detail in the coming months. There will be shocking facts revealed about normally peaceful folks who took part in the events in some fashion. There will be serious reckoning. If the organized terror groups responsible are not curtailed in some way, America is in for trouble.
In the midst of all that, ALO managed to accomplish a bit of legal work, settling a plane crash case for three clients. That settlement came against the now bankrupt Hageland Aviation Services, which was part of Ravn Alaska. Now that Hageland no longer exists, the company doesn’t demand confidentiality in its settlement agreements as they always did in the past. This case had one interesting element worthy of note. Hageland blamed the crash on a poorly maintained runway. Investigation revealed that indeed the runway had long standing issues but of course Hageland used the runway almost daily for years. Federal regulations require pilots to determine the suitability of any potential runway prior to departure. That was going to be a tough argument to sustain.
Mandatory Moose & Other Animals
Animals are often the highlight of ALO news, and this month is a good time to post a few more critters that have showed up on cameras both in Alaska and Minnesota. On the farm, a deer feeder is used for part of the year with an Arlo security camera nearby. That brings in more than just deer, as demonstrated in this video of an owl standing watch over the feeder.
Here is another shot of an owl capturing a flying squirrel.
And this flying squirrel swooped in to feed, and disappeared right inside the feeding tube.
This deer first showed up recently with part of one leg missing. He seems able to get around fairly well on three legs.
Here is one of the bigger bucks who enjoyed the feeder.
This unidentified critter showed up on a trail cam at the farm. What is it?
Here is a photo of a possible Golden Eagle from a walk near Westchester Lagoon. The bird landed about 15 feet above the walker who was accompanied by a lively dog.
And finally some mandatory moose...
Here is a video from the urban office of ALO, where the orderly function of a law office is sometimes disrupted by this.
Of course, there are cartoons. Both of these come from Lamont Albertson, as usual.
And of course the recently passed stimulus funds need to be paid by someone. How about these folks?
Vaccination for the Essential Worker
Alaskans seem to be getting their Covid-19 shots fairly quickly, for reasons unknown. Bethel was among the first communities to get the vaccine, and many friends suggested a quick return for a shot would be a good idea. That didn’t seem like a good idea, but this week an appointment was obtained in Anchorage. It’s possible that authorities determined that Jack’s designated walk partner was an essential worker, but more likely they determined that advanced age was a good enough reason. It is distressing that many are opting to not get vaccinated. The world needs widespread immunity and these shots will speed that process. The anti-science movement is part of a greater move to distrust all government. That notion is dangerous, and this photo from the Capitol riot demonstrates the end product of that distrust.