California assemblyman resigns after a lobbyist accuses him of masturbating in front of her in a bathroom

Matt Dababneh

  • Two women have publicly alleged sexual misconduct by Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, who represents California’s 45th district. 
  • One of the women, Pamela Lopez, alleged that Dababneh locked her into a bathroom during a wedding celebration in Las Vegas and masturbated in front of her. 
  • Dababneh denied all allegations, but said he is resigning anyway because he no longer believes he can serve his district effectively. 

Earlier this week, California-based lobbyist Pamela Lopez accused Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of forcing her into a bathroom, exposing his genitals, and urging her to touch him.

Another woman, Jessica Yas Barker, alleged Dababneh repeatedly commented on her appearance and talked about his sexual exploits while they were colleagues in Sherman’s office from June 2009 to December 2010, the LA Times reported

Dababneh, who represented the California State Assembly’s 45th district and previously worked as a senior aide to Congressman Brad Sherman, has flatly denied the allegations. 

He nevertheless announced on Friday that he would resign, effective on January 1.

“To be absolutely clear, the allegations made against me are not true. However, due to the current environment, I, unfortunately, no longer believe I can serve my district effectively, as I have done for the last four years,” Dababneh said. “I remain inspired by the many brave women across the country who have recently come forward with their stories. I will continue to support this fight as a private citizen in any way that I can.”

He said he will continue to fully participate in an ongoing Assembly investigation into the matter. 

“I am confident that the completed investigation will bring to light and into focus the significant and persuasive evidence of my innocence,” Dababneh said. 

The incident described by Lopez allegedly took place in January 2016 at a wedding celebration at a Las Vegas hotel.

“I felt a large body rush up behind me, use the weight of their body to push me into the restroom and I heard the door slam behind us,” Lopez told KTLA News, a Los Angeles-area local news station. “I spun around and realized I was face to face with Matt and that he had very quickly exposed himself and begun masturbating.” 

Lopez said she did not immediately report the encounter, fearing retribution. She said Friday that Dababneh’s resignation meant little without an apology.

“He’s not attempting to atone for his behavior,” she told the Associated Press.

Read Dababneh’s full resignation letter here.  

SEE ALSO: Sexual harassment isn’t a Hollywood, tech, or media issue — it affects everyone

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As Mueller's Russia Probe Forges Ahead, Potential Legal Endgames Begin to Take Shape – NPR

Protesters outside the federal courthouse where Michael Flynn pleaded guilty early this month speculate what is coming next in the special counsel probe.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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While many aspects of the Justice Department’s Russia investigation remain shrouded in secrecy, one thing at this point is clear: Special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t finished yet.

That raises the question about where he might be heading.

Mueller has moved aggressively in his high-profile probe since taking the reins seven months ago. He has brought charges against four people with ties to the Trump campaign or administration so far, including the president’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The outcome of Mueller’s relationship with Flynn — who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with investigators — could be the key to what happens down the line, attorneys say.

“There are two possible ways this could end up going, and both hinge on why Flynn lied,” said Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor who teaches white collar criminal law at George Washington University Law School. “Depending on which is the case, you could have very different endgames.”

If Flynn lied about his Russia contacts because they were deemed politically damaging, then Trump associates — and maybe the president himself — could get caught in a cover-up, even if what they’re trying to hide isn’t itself criminal.

If the facts bear that out, that could mean an obstruction of justice case. For months, news outlets have reported that Mueller is looking into whether Trump obstructed justice, which would amount to attempting to influence or subvert an ongoing investigation.

A Trump tweet after Flynn’s guilty plea renewed the talk about possible obstruction and fueled questions about what the president knew when he cut Flynn loose in February.

Trump said on Twitter that he fired Flynn “because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies.” Trump lawyer John Dowd took responsibility for the tweet after it ignited a firestorm, but the White House ultimately acknowledged that Trump knew in late January, before he fired Flynn, that Flynn had probably lied to the FBI.

“The president has the right to fire anybody when he wants. But what he can’t do is try to interject improper influence in, and impede, an investigation,” said Michael J. Moore, a former U.S. attorney now at Pope McGlamry in Atlanta.

Moore alluded to the account of former FBI Director James Comey after Flynn’s firing. Trump, in Comey’s telling, asked him in a confidential meeting at the White House whether he would “let this go.” And Trump later fired Comey himself.

“That’s why that tweet was so important,” Moore said. “If he knew at the time that Flynn had lied to the FBI and told Comey to back off, then he’s using his position as Comey’s superior as leverage to try to achieve an outcome in an investigation — that amounts to obstruction.”

Obstruction could remain a possible endgame charge in a second scenario as well: If Flynn lied to shield a broader network of contacts between Trump associates, Russians and some nefarious actions they engaged in together.

Mueller’s mandate from the Justice Department calls for him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government” and the Trump campaign. In the popular parlance, that is often called the question of “collusion.”

But even though “collusion” is a word that has been frequently bandied about, there is no such criminal charge. There is another C-word that could come into play — conspiracy.

Depending on the facts developed in Mueller’s investigation, there are a couple of options.

A Trump tweet after Flynn pleaded guilty renewed the talk about possible obstruction and fueled questions about what the president knew when he cut Flynn loose in February.

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One potential charge might be conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, says Barak Cohen, a partner and litigation lead at Perkins Coie in Washington, D.C. Mueller’s team could reach for that if there is evidence that Trump associates worked with Russia on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee or the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

“I think the special counsel would like to be able to charge them as co-conspirators to the hack or accessories after the fact,” Cohen said. “It’s the most credible and well-established legal theory.”

If Trump associates weren’t directly involved in the hacks but, say, knew about them and kept them hidden, then they could be charged as accessories after that fact, Cohen said.

Another theory proffered by John Norris and Carolyn Kenney for the liberal Center for American Progress is that Mueller might try to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

“More dominoes seem almost inevitable to fall given the special counsel’s efforts to secure cooperating witnesses, and RICO statutes give him a powerful card to play if he wishes to do so,” they wrote.

Or a more general conspiracy charge — to defraud the United States — could come into play, according to Eliason. Conspiracy of this sort means interfering with a lawful government function by deceit or dishonest means. In this case, prosecutors might try to prove the Trump camp had helped pervert the election.

“Of course, it depends on what the facts show,” Eliason said, “but if one worked with the Russians to leak information and create false social media accounts and other such stuff, that could be conspiracy to defraud the U.S.”

A third possible endgame is some sort of financial crime such as money laundering.

“My guess is this is all going to center around money — Russian money,” Moore said.

Questions swirl around Trump’s finances, partly because he has been opaque about his tax payments and partly because of charges by opponents that his businesses are the terminus of a money laundering scheme.

This aspect of the story got a boost after reports that Deutsche Bank had received a subpoena from Mueller’s team for information on accounts held by people or entities connected to Trump.

A lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, denied those reports. The bank itself has made no comment. A Deutsche Bank spokesman told a German business newspaper that it cooperates with official inquiries but does not comment on individual cases.

Probing possible financial crimes dating back to before Trump took office and unrelated to Russia could be perilous politically. Trump’s aides and Republicans have already argued that such a move would be a step too far for Mueller.

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The 'electronic privacy case of the century' is now in court, and it could redefine your right to privacy

supreme court

  • The Supreme Court is re-examining American rights to digital privacy in a case that has been described as the most important electronic privacy case of the 21st century.
  • The court’s ruling, which takes place in June, will determine whether or not law enforcement must acquire warrants when accessing geolocational data emitted by cell phones. 
  • If the case is lost, it could transform digital privacy and allow for closer government surveillance. 

 

The Supreme Court is re-examining American rights to digital privacy in a hallmark case that’s been called the most important electronic privacy case of the 21st century.

Potentially, the court’s decision could reframe the modern-day understanding of the Fourth Amendment, imperil society’s expectations of digital privacy, and reinterpret notions of American identity and the American right to privacy.

This landmark decision can be traced back to a series of crimes that took place nearly eight years ago, when Timothy Ivory Carpenter orchestrated a string of robberies at cellphone stores, including Radio Shack and T-Mobile, in several midwest cities in the US. After Carpenter’s arrest, prosecutors recreated his physical movements over a six-month period using geolocational data from his cellphone records. Their case rested almost entirely on Carpenter’s cell phone records, which had been obtained through the Stored Communications Act, a federal law that requires investigators provide reasonable proof to obtain tracking data, but has less exacting stipulations than those demanded by a warrant.

David Gray, attorney and author of the book “The Fourth Amendment in an Age of Surveillance,” says that at the core of the Supreme Court case is the understanding of the word “search,” as defined by the Fourth Amendment. 

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against arbitrary arrests and seizure, and in one clause, upholds that citizens are protected against unreasonable searches.

“It all depends on this weird definition of the word ‘search’ and how that applies to technology,” Gray told Business Insider. “The court is using their authority to impose limitations on the use of new technologies by changing the definition of the word ‘search.'”

Jeffrey Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center, an educational nonprofit, agrees with Gray’s assessment. In an interview with Business Insider, Rosen said the court’s definition of the word “search” is determined by a 1970s Supreme Court case that ruled Americans have no privacy protections over most of their data because it’s voluntarily shared with third parties.

“If the court applies that idea to our most intimate data, including huge amounts of information about where we move in public, that can essentially mean that we have no privacy,” said Rosen. “The broad, important, crucial question is how much privacy do we have when the government seizes huge amounts of data stored by third parties.”

The outcome of the case will be determined in June, and according to Rosen, it could be lost either broadly or narrowly. If the court loses broadly and the court upholds that Americans have no expectation of privacy in digital data stored with third parties, Rosen says “it could transform American identity.”

“It would mean that we have no private spaces in which we record our most intimate thoughts, our criticism of the government, our hopes, and our fears,” he said. “It would mean that Americans aren’t as free today than they were at the time of the framing of the Constitution.”

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TV Ratings Wednesday: 'Empire,' 'Modern Family' rise, 'Criminal Minds' ties series low – TVbytheNumbers

Masked Scheduler’s Ratings Smackdown

To the Masked Mailbox! NW wants to know:
“Most of your columns are on your involvement in pilot screening and initial scheduling, but what of your role in the evolution of a show? You were obviously in the loop on the initial rounds of the dreaded ‘notes from the network suits,’ but shows evolve after the premiere, too. Show elements are a product of negotiations between the creatives and the suits that never ends until the show does. Where would you have been in such mid-game drama behind the scenes? Do you have any stories of watching such drastic changes unfold in a show you initially bought and the headaches/relief it brought the network? I’d love for you to write about those.”
The scheduler usually becomes the consiglieri to the head of entertainment and thus has the ability to whisper in his or her boss’ ear. I did a lot of that, not that I was listened to all the time. What I had going for me was a 10-plus year background in television research, so when I went to my boss, or a current executive, I would generally come armed with some data to support my suggestion. Otherwise I was just offering another opinion.
For several years at NBC, I ran the current meeting, where we would go over all the shows on the network. I don’t know if that was appreciated by the current executives — probably not — and I made sure the marketing people were well represented and offered their suggestions.
As far as influencing the direction of a show, three come to mind. I may have talked about them here or in posts on my blog, Revenge of the Masked Scheduler.
During the third season of “24,” the ratings were beginning to decline. We did some research and it was clear to me that the viewers were frustrated with spreading the series out over the full television season, especially given the concept driving the show. With my colleague MJ LaVacarre, we worked out a plan to delay “24” until midseason and run it without any weekly interruptions. I first pitched this concept to Joel Surnow, the showrunner, and once he bought in, I sold it to my bosses. I think that strategy added a few additional years to the show and millions to the 20th coffers.
Early in the history of “Law & Order,” we did an episode featuring the female psychiatrist who had a recurring role on the show. I noticed that the ratings among women popped for the episode, and I went to my boss Warren Littlefield with the data. “L&O” was on the fence at the time, and the four leads were all men. Warren called Dick Wolf and told Dick we would cancel the show unless Dick added more women to the cast. Dick immediately did, and the rest is history.
We did an episode of “Blossom” that featured Joey Lawrence having a fantasy sequence with Susan Anton. The next morning, I saw a large increase in young male ratings and went to the current exec, Ken Mok, and suggested that we do more Joey episodes featuring him with hot women. I’m not saying I’m proud of that one, but it worked as far as adding another segment to the “Blossom” audience.
There are other examples like these, but the point is, for me it was less about my opinion and more about using research to improve a show’s ratings.
Email me questions at masked.scheduler@gmail.com and follow on Twitter @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017

The numbers for Wednesday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. Survivor (CBS) 1.8/7 8.93
Empire (FOX) 1.8/7 5.70
The Goldbergs (ABC) 1.5/6 5.40
A Very Pentatonix Christmas (NBC) – R 0.8/3 4.85
Riverdale (The CW) 0.5/2 1.46
8:30 p.m. Speechless (ABC) 1.1/4 4.25
9 p.m. Modern Family (ABC) 1.7/7 5.78
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) 1.3/5 6.19
Star (FOX) 1.2/4 4.01
SEAL Team (CBS) 1.1/4 6.82
Dynasty (The CW) 0.2/1 0.69
9:30 p.m. American Housewife (ABC) 1.2/5 4.56
10 p.m. Chicago PD (NBC) 1.2/5 6.47
Criminal Minds (CBS) 0.9/4 5.28
Designated Survivor (ABC) 0.7/3 3.91

Wednesday was an up night for several shows, but a long-running series tied its all-time low in the ratings.

First, the good: “Empire” (1.8 rating among adults 18-49), “Modern Family” (1.7), “The Goldbergs” (1.5) and “American Housewife” (1.2) all improved their numbers week to week. The first three were up a tenth of a point, and “American Housewife” rose two tenths.

On the downside, “Criminal Minds” was off a tenth vs. its last episode tied its series low with a 0.9. “Law & Order: SVU” (1.3, -0.2) and “Chicago PD” (1.2, -0.1) declined as well but were in line with their season averages.

“Survivor” tied “Empire” as the night’s top show in adults 18-49 and was even with last week in the demo. It had its largest total audience of the season. “Riverdale,” “Dynasty,” “Speechless,” “Star,” “SEAL Team” and “Designated Survivor” were all steady too.

Network averages:

FOX CBS ABC NBC CW
Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.5/6 1.3/5 1.2/5 1.1/4 0.4/2
Total Viewers (millions) 4.85 7.01 4.63 5.84 1.07

Late-night metered market ratings (adults 18-49, households):

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/4, 2.1/6

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.5/3, 2.6/7

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.6/4

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.4/3, 1.3/5

“Nightline”: 0.4/3, 1.1/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/2, 1.1/4

Definitions:

Rating: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.
Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings are available at approximately 11 a.m. ET the day after telecast. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. 
Share (of Audience): 
The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. 
Time Shifted Viewing:
 Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live +Same-Day and Live +7 Day. Time-shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+SD includes viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3 a.m. local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live +7 ratings include  viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

Source: The Nielsen Company.

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'Morning Joe' host Mika Brzezinski questions the #MeToo movement: Do 'all women need to be believed?'

Morning Joe

  • “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski on Friday cast doubt on the veracity of the allegations made by one of Al Franken’s sexual harassment accusers.
  • Brzezinksi’s comments seemed to question the intentions of the #MeToo movement at large.
  • In the same broadcast, Brzezinski announced MSNBC’s suspension of a “Morning Joe” contributor who was accused of sexual misconduct. 

 

On Friday, “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski cast doubt on a sexual harassment accuser of Al Franken while seeming to question the intentions of the #MeToo phenomenon, a movement which has seen myriad women come forward with experiences and accusations of sexual misconduct in recent months. 

“In this #MeToo environment, you must always just believe the women and I think that there’s a lot of reasons why we need to look at the women seriously and believe them,” Brzezinski said on Friday’s show. “I’m just wondering if all women need to be believed, and I’m concerned that we are being the judge, the jury, and the cops here, and so did Senate Democrats getting ahead of their skis.”

Brzezinski went on to question whether the first woman to accuse Al Franken of sexual harassment, Leeann Tweeden, had a political motive. (Franken resigned from his Senate seat on Thursday in response to the numerous allegations of misconduct made against him over weeks, and pressure from his Democratic colleagues.) 

Brzezinski noted that Tweeden had appeared as a “Hannity” contributor.

“We’ve never really talked about the woman who first came out against Al Franken,” Brzezinski said. “A performer, a Playboy model who goes on ‘Hannity,’ who voted for Trump. I see some politics there.”

In the same broadcast on Friday, Brzezinski announced that “Morning Joe” contributor Harold Ford Jr. would be taken off the air after Ford was terminated by his employer, Morgan Stanley, for alleged misconduct. 

Watch a segment of the broadcast below:

SEE ALSO: 36 powerful men accused of sexual misconduct after Harvey Weinstein

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TV Ratings: 'Empire' Rises, 'Criminal Minds' Matches Low | Deadline – Deadline

While no longer the blockbuster it was,Empire (1.8/7) proved the doubters wrong last night in its penultimate episode of 2017. With a strong hour full of prison flashbacks, suburban revelations, boozy sibling bonding and a delusional death, what may be making Fox even happier is that the ratings for the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created drama climbed 13% in the fast affiliates key demo from last week’s series low.

Last night’s Empire result, which could see an adjustment like last week did, plus a steady Star (1.2/4) delivered a Wednesday primetime 18-49 win for the still Murdoch owned net. CBS was tops in viewership with 7.01 million watching Survivor (1.8/7), SEAL Team (1.1/4) and Criminal Minds (0.9/4), but Fox easily won the demo category with a 1.5/6 rating.

Both the vet reality show and the Navy warriors series were even with their November 29 airings while 10 PM’s Criminal Minds slipped a tenth from its last original to match a series low among adults 18-49. Tied with Empire for the highest rated show of the night, Survivor was the most watched show on Wednesday with an audience of 8.93 million.

On the whole, even was kind of the word on Wednesday as Speechless (1.1/4), Designated Survivor (0.7/3), Riverdale (0.5/2), and Dynasty (0.2/1) also matched their results of last week.

Then again, ABC saw Modern Family and The Goldbergs up a tenth from their November 29 shows while American Housewife rose 20%. Starting out with a repeat of it’s a Very Pentatonix Christmas (0.8/3) special, NBC had Law & Order: SVU (1.3/5) and Chicago PD (1.2/5) on. The former was down 13% in the demo and the latter dipped 8% from last week.

And for a bit more math – are you counting the remaining shopping days to Christmas yet?

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Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney-client privilege claim probably won't work, legal experts say

Donald Trump Jr.

  • Donald Trump Jr. cited attorney-client privilege as the reason he refused to answer lawmakers’ questions about a meeting he had with his father, President Donald Trump.
  • Trump Jr. said because a lawyer was present during the meeting, their conversation was protected.
  • Legal experts say that’s not how attorney-client privilege works.

Donald Trump Jr. invoked attorney-client privilege during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, arguing that because lawyers were present during one of his meetings with his father, President Donald Trump, he could refuse to answer lawmakers’ questions about their conversation.

The conversation between Trump Jr. and his father was about a meeting Trump Jr. had at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyerto get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. spoke with his father shortly after the news about the meeting broke in July 2017, but declined to share details of their discussion with lawmakers.

Lawmakers and legal experts immediately derided Trump Jr.’s invocation of attorney-client privilege, noting on social media and in news outlets that the mere presence of a lawyer does not make a conversation protected.

“A lawyer isn’t a walking cone of silence,” Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky told Vox. “The attorney-client privilege only protects confidential communications between a lawyer and a client to facilitate the provision of legal services.”

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told The Washington Post he’ll issue a subpoena if Trump Jr.’s lawyers continue to pursue his claim of attorney-client privilege. In the meantime, Schiff said, the lawyers have asked for more time to decide how to handle the claim.

“I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” Schiff told Politico on Wednesday. “That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, said on Twitter that he doubted any court would conclude Trump Jr.’s conversation with his father was protected.

“The general rule is that a conversation is *not* privileged if a third person is present for the conversation with an attorney and a client,” Mariotti said. “In this instance, both Trump and Trump Jr. are subjects of the same investigation and any legal advice they received on these topics would potentially implicate the other person.”

In fact, no communication between the Trumps would be protected unless both parties were receiving legal advice from a lawyer that applied to both of them, Duke University law professor Samuel Buell told the Post.

“That seems highly unlikely,” Buell said. “And the mere presence of a lawyer in the room is legally irrelevant. This is likely a frivolous assertion of the privilege.”

SEE ALSO: A ‘serious case of amnesia’: House Intel Democrat says Trump Jr. was ‘pretty non-responsive’ in 8-hour interview

DON’T MISS: This timeline paints the clearest picture we have yet of Russia’s meddling in the US election — and how the Trump campaign reacted

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The Keanu Reeves cinematic guide to being an 'excellent!' criminal defense attorney – ABA Journal

Law in Popular Culture

The Whole Truth

Keanu Reeves as small-town criminal defense lawyer Richard Ramsay in “The Whole Truth,” decades after his first “excellent adventure.” Lionsgate Publicity

Disclaimer: this is not the article I intended to write. Keanu Reeves’ hasn’t endorsed it … yet.

I had planned on penning something regarding the new Denzel Washington legal thriller Roman J. Israel, Esq. When I first learned of its impending release a couple of months ago, I was seriously stoked: I love watching Denzel Washington, and I love watching legal movies. I write this column. Perfect.

But as much as I love legal movies, I really, really love comic book films. So, obviously, Thor: Ragnarok took precedence. Then came the new Justice League film. And after a lackluster opening weekend—plus plenty of negative reviews—the newest Denzel vehicle was removed from rotation at my favorite local theater. Then came Thanksgiving … you get the picture.

ALL DEFENDANTS DESERVE THEIR DAY IN COURT

Missing out on Denzel somehow led me to Keanu. Instead of trying to find time to see the new film at some inferior theater during the holiday, I decided to stream something at home instead.

I found The Whole Truth. It was released late 2016 to little fanfare. Honestly, I had never heard of the film until I came across it on Amazon, probably because of the critical beating it took. It’s got a 29 percent approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes. But, we’re not here to talk about the movie’s cinematic merits. We’re here to discuss the man who was, and always will be, Ted “Theodore” Logan, III.

But first, an aside: My legal partner and I have a running joke in the office about the difference between an innocent client and a guilty one. It’s in regards to the 1997 Keanu Reeves hit Devil’s Advocate and its opening scene. There, you see Keanu’s character, Kevin Lomax, come to grips with the realization that his client is likely guilty. This is in the middle of jury trial. A confrontation ensues, as Keanu is obviously upset that his client has been lying to him about his innocence through the whole case.

However, Keanu does what any good trial lawyer would do. He puts his own personal perception of the situation aside—remembers he’s not judge nor jury—and proceeds to destroy the prosecution’s case with a very well-crafted cross-examination of the teenage accuser.

Guilty or innocent, every criminal defendant deserves their day in court. Guilty or innocent, every criminal defendant deserves a zealous advocate.

DEFENDING THE INNOCENT CLIENT VS. DEFENDING THE GUILTY CLIENT

Which brings us back to The Whole Truth (my Denzel substitute). Keanu plays small-town defense attorney Richard Ramsay tasked with defending a teenage boy against accusations he murdered his wealthy father. Ramsay knows the family, also represents the mother, and used to work with the deceased (don’t get me started on the potential ethical implications).

Here, Keanu plays pseudo mentor to a young attorney. He lets her second-chair the jury trial. As the trial unfolds, the young attorney begins to question the evidence and the defense theory.

Keanu explains that every witness lies in their own way and for their own reason. It may be something small, or it may be something bigger; regardless, it happens.

When the young attorney pointedly confronts Keanu about the possibility that defense witnesses may be stretching the truth, he answers “That might be true. I don’t know or care.”

The fact of the matter is that the testimony is the testimony. Neither attorney on either side can or should coach their witnesses. Obviously, there is a very thick, bright line between simply eliciting testimony and suborning perjury. Any trial attorney will tell you it is impossible to predict exactly what a witness will say when they get on the stand. Many times, it’s something they’ve never said before. A good defense attorney handles the testimony as is. After all, the witness is under oath. You have to assume, and hope, that they will testify truthfully.

As Keanu so aptly puts it, any attorney worth his salt has to find a balance between “his own need to know the truth and the best interest of his client.”

TRUST IS INTEGRAL TO THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP

Towards the end of The Whole Truth, Keanu is faced with a difficult situation. His client has refused to discuss potential testimony with him. In fact, the client has refused to speak with anyone during the pendency of his criminal case. Even though Keanu admits that normally such circumstances might call for a psychological evaluation, he believes the kid is competent and does not request one. He intends to proceed with the defense based solely on attacking the prosecution’s evidence in hopes the jury will hold them to their burden.

Regardless, things take a surprise turn when the defendant demands to testify on his own behalf. When asked about his thoughts on this turn of events, Keanu knows the rules: If the defendant wants to testify, he gets to testify. “It’s his constitutional right.”

Some might think this scene could only occur in a Hollywood production. Well, I’m here to tell you personally that it can happen in real life as well, to a certain degree. I distinctly remember a jury trial a few years back where I worked tirelessly with my client and explained to him that taking the stand and testifying would completely ruin any chance we had of winning … and we didn’t have much of a chance to start with.

Now, the case never should have gone to trial in the first place (we had bad facts, and I had worked a deal for the mandatory minimum). I tried my best to convince the client of what I thought was best, but he would have none of it.

For whatever reason, there was some level of trust lacking in our relationship. He did not trust my trial plan, and I did not trust his ability to testify truthfully without sinking our ship. Regardless, my client did end up testifying on his own behalf. Consequently, he also ended up confessing to the crime, on the stand, under oath. I kid you not.

Luckily, I was able to minimize the damage during closing, and the jury recommended only one year above the mandatory minimum sentence. Still, the result could have been so much worse. At the end of the day, though, it was his case. “It’s his constitutional right.”

NEVER TALK WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT

I had to throw this into the mix as well. It has nothing to do with The Whole Truth or Devil’s Advocate, but it’s still a great takeaway from the man in question.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who enjoys the stress, confusion, and uncertainty of a criminal interrogation. Well, guess what? Keanu doesn’t like it either. (Warning: Language NSFW.)

If law enforcement officers want to speak with you, call your lawyer first …even if you are a lawyer. Don’t go it alone even if you are a practicing attorney (or have simply portrayed one on the silver screen). It’s a bad idea 10 times out of 10.

Thanks for your wisdom, Keanu. You’ve made us all most triumphant attorneys because of it.


Adam Banner

Adam R. Banner is the founder and lead attorney at the Oklahoma Legal Group, a criminal defense law firm in Oklahoma City. Mr. Banner’s practice focuses solely on state and federal criminal defense. He represents the accused against allegations of sex crimes, violent crimes, drug crimes, and white collar crimes.

The study of law isn’t for everyone, yet its practice and procedure seems to permeate pop culture at an increasing rate. This column is about the intersection of law and pop culture in an attempt to separate the real from the ridiculous.


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Federal appeals court grapples with a third version of Trump's travel ban following his administration's early Supreme Court victory

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  • Federal appeals court judges in Seattle heard arguments Wednesday on President Donald Trump’s third travel ban.
  • The ban targets people from eight countries, imposing various restrictions on their entry to the United States.
  • The arguments were highly anticipated, after the Supreme Court appeared to hand a small victory to the Trump administration two days earlier.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle heard fiery arguments on Wednesday regarding the latest iteration of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which the Supreme Court on Monday allowed to fully take effect.

The ban targets roughly 150 million residents of eight nations — six of which are majority-Muslim — and imposes varying restrictions on their entry to the United States.

The case was first brought by the state of Hawaii, which convinced Judge Derrick Watson to block its implementation in October — as he had done with Trump’s previous two travel bans. Wednesday’s arguments were highly anticipated after the Supreme Court on Monday appeared to hand a small victory to the Trump administration in allowing the ban to be enforced pending the two federal appeals.

The Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel, all of whom were Clinton appointees, appeared at times skeptical of the government’s arguments. They frequently interrupted an attorney representing the Trump administration who argued that the eight countries named in the ban have “inadequate information-sharing practices” or other factors that warranted tailored entry restrictions.

“The president was setting restrictions in a manner that was designed to encourage countries to improve their practices,” Justice Department attorney Hashim Mooppan said, arguing that the third ban was written following an extensive review of data that foreign governments have collected on their travelers.

But the judges questioned Mooppan on whether the Trump administration recognized any limits to its authority to use a federal statute giving the president the power to determine that certain classes of foreigners are detrimental to the interests of the US and can warrant restrictions on their entry.

donald trumpMooppan likened the travel ban to similar measures former presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan had used to restrict travel from Iran during the hostage crisis in 1980 and from Cuba in 1985, respectively.

The judges asked fewer questions, however, of Neal Katyal, the attorney representing the challengers to the ban. He called Trump’s ban “unprecedented and sweeping,” and argued that the president has not made any findings to support his conclusion that the entry of those travelers identified in the ban would harm the US.

The Trump administration’s “argument is, essentially, the president can take an iron wrecking ball to the immigration code, that finely reticulated system that Congress has done, and put the president in the driver’s seat,” Katyal said. “That’s certainly — it may be some constitution, it is not the Constitution of the United States.”

Katyal went on to argue that the government had presented “zero language” or evidence that the current vetting process for travelers to the US was failing.

“The burden is always on the individual visa applicant to come to the US, and if you can’t show that bad folks are coming here, there is no finding,” he said. “As long as the individualized vetting system is working, that’s enough.”

The court will issue an opinion as soon as is practical, Judge Ronald Gould said before adjourning.

“I think the Supreme Court has asked us to do that, so we shall comply,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience.

A separate challenge to the travel ban will be heard in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia on Friday.

SEE ALSO: Dozens of House Republicans are demanding a permanent DACA fix by the end of the year

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Justice Department emails reveal support for Sally Yates after she refused to enforce Trump's travel ban

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  • A Freedom of Information Act request from the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch revealed emails sent to former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from several Justice Department employees.
  • One of the emails from a prominent prosecutor who is now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team appeared to be supportive of Yates’ decision not to enforce President Donald Trump’s original travel ban earlier this year.

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent lawsuit filed against the US Justice Department for the release of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ emails revealed mess, including a prominent prosecutor who praised Yates’ decision not to enforce President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban earlier this year.

Judicial Watch released emails sent from multiple Justice Department employees to Yates during her tenure as acting attorney general in the first week of the Trump administration. On January 27, Trump implemented an executive order intended to temporarily bar refugees and people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US.

Yates, a former deputy attorney general under the Obama administration, refused to defend Trump’s order, saying his administration’s justification for the ban — that it was a national-security issue and not a religious one — was indefensible. Yates was promptly fired.

Yates outlined her reasoning for not enforcing Trump’s executive order in a letter to Justice Department lawyers: “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Yates wrote. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

Some of Yates’ colleagues within the department applauded her decision. One email with the subject line, “Executive order” was sent three days after Trump’s travel ban went into effect: “Thank you Yates. Ive [sic] been civil/appellate for years and have never seen administration with such contempt for democratic values and the rule law,” read the employee’s email. “The Presidents order unconstitutional embarrassment and applaud you for taking principled stand against defending it.”

Another email from prosecutor Andrew Weissmann reveals that he also supported Yates’ decision. “I am so proud,” Weissmann wrote. “And in awe. Thank you so much.”

Weissman later joined special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the high-profile investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Some Trump supporters in recent days have sought to highlight alleged political biases among members of Mueller’s investigative team in order to call their credibility into question as the Russia probe heats up.

Four former Trump associates have been charged, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian operatives.

SEE ALSO: Mueller just abruptly reversed course on his bail agreement with Manafort

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NOW WATCH: Everything we know about Trump’s unhealthy diet

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