From “Basketbrawl” to cervine (look it up) bullies?

Here’s a quick rundown of lawpsyc news developing since my last post:

Call it “basketbrawl” — there was a major brawl between players during a college basketball game Saturday night between Cincinnati and Xavier.  The local prosecutor in Cincinnati is considering filing criminal assault, battery, and disorderly-conduct charges against the players involved.  He shouldn’t just consider it — he should do it.  A brawl on a basketball court is legally no different from a brawl outside of a bar or in a middle-school hallway.  There’s usually criminal behavior involved, and not only do the criminals deserve to be identified and punished, but it’d also be a great lesson for the kids (about not making exceptions for sports players to laws that the rest of us are expected to follow).

And while I’m on the subject of sports, pro-baseball star Barry Bonds is scheduled to be sentenced this week for obstructing justice in connection with a federal probe of steroid-use in baseball.  He deserves prison time, and that’d also be a great lesson for the kids, but I’m not holding my breath.

Now here are some athletes who were accused of horrendous behavior wrongfully — the Duke University lacrosse team.  Remember the woman who claimed that several members of that team gang-raped her in 2006, only then it turned out that she had made the whole thing up?  Well, guess what, a forensic competency examination (of the type that I’ve performed many times) has paved the way for her to stand trial on a charge of — no, not a better-late-than-never charge of filing-a-false-report, something better (in terms of hopefully getting her out of circulation far longer) — murder (she allegedly stabbed her boyfriend earlier this year)!

But back on the subject of brawls, there was another mass prison brawl, a riot really, in California last week.  Ok, seriously now, isn’t it about time we gave my shock collar idea a try?  Haven’t heard my idea?  Well, basically, every prisoner would wear a locked-on collar, yes a collar, and if they ever came into physical contact with another prisoner or with a guard, the prisoner(s) involved would be shocked to the ground immediately with no permanent damage done.  Oh, and every guard would also have the ability to press a button and send every prisoner in the vicinity (or even the entire facility) to the ground in the event of a riot.  Why not?  Think it’s inhumane?  I’ll bet there are plenty of prisoners who’d welcome a guarantee that they’d never be touched by anyone else while in prison.  And what about the prisoners who wouldn’t welcome it?  I’d say they’re probably among the first ones who should get it!

Speaking of prison, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for his corruption convictions.  I’ve analyzed that case from it’s very beginning (photo above).  Good riddance.

Ok, here’s somebody who apparently still hasn’t seen enough of the inside of a prison — “actress” Lindsay Lohan — only this time, she’s (supposedly)…the “victim.”  It seems Lindsay’s had $10,000 in cash stolen from her.  Hmmmm.  Now, why might a chronic substance abuser need to have that much cash lying around?  It’s actually tough for me to think of many reasons other than drugs.  But surely not!  I mean, she’s on supervised release after only just umpteen prior offenses, so she’d never use drugs now, right?

Now this kid could set a record for the longest stint in prison of anyone in U.S. history — he’s 12 years old but charged as an adult with the first-degree murder of a younger sibling in Florida, so he’s facing a life sentence.  I’ve written and talked before about the factors involved in deciding whether to charge a juvenile as an adult (danger posed to the community, rehabilitation potential, ability of the juvenile system to handle the individual, etc.), and if you’re a regular reader or viewer, you know that I don’t automatically equate youth with lesser culpability.  Interestingly though, the U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that it’s unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment” to sentence someone to death if that person was under the age of 18 at the time he/she committed an otherwise-capital crime, so it’s not inconceivable that a similar ruling could take life-in-prison-no-parole off the table for this kid.  Stay tuned.  (Speaking of the Supreme Court, next summer, it’s going to decide the constitutionality of not just the pending federal health insurance reform legislation but also of an Arizona law making it a crime to be in Arizona illegally if you’re in the U.S. illegally — as a lawyer, I predict that the health reform law gets struck down and the Arizona law gets upheld.)

There were a couple of shooting stories.  One was at — deja vu — Virginia Tech, where a male driver shot and killed a cop during a traffic stop, then fled the scene and committed suicide (imagine the terror that must’ve swept through that campus until the shooter was found dead).  The other shooting story happened in Hollywood, CA — a lone gunman walking the streets randomly shooting at people, killing one — and it, too, ended in suicide, but of a different and relatively cowardly type known as “suicide by cop.”  Basically, as cops close in on a suspect with guns drawn, the suspect makes some kind of threatening gesture — in this case, pointing  a gun in their direction — so the cops shoot first and kill the suspect.

It’s been a while since I told you about a study, so here’s a new one:  According to a study released last week, lefties (left handers like me) are supposedly more susceptible to certain mental illnesses in life.  Uh oh, better get rid of those left-handed scissors with the green handles and have every kid learn to be a righty!  Wait a minute, there seem to be quite a few left-handed presidents, too.  I’m not going to worry about it, and I don’t think you should either.

But if you’re looking for something to seriously worry about, here it is:  A New York special education professor has been making the rounds of the talk shows warning America that the classic televised Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special promotes bullying.  That’s right, the professor is worried that kids will see all of the other reindeer laughing and calling Rudolph names, and never letting poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games, and then (I guess) the kids will go to school and do the same things to some little red-nosed kid.  Ok, ok, I admit it, as much as I deplore bullying, I’ve never noticed anything wrong with this particular program in decades of seeing it every December, so no, I’m not really worried about this one either.  After all, at the end, they all love Rudolph and shout out with glee, and he goes down in history!


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