Non-Sequiturs: 10.09.15

* A biting take on legal system reform. [The Onion] * A law school class that actually changed something. [Chronicle of Higher Education] * Justin Bieber’s lawyers send around nasty notes after naked pics of the singer go viral. [TMZ] * Paid justice? Prosecutors are paid by an insurance company for “handling” their cases. Sounds suspect. [Texas Tribune] * Badass Ph.D. coldly takes down lawyer during a deposition. [Medium] * Highlights from the Academy for Private Practice. [CodeX] * The behavior that got Dewey into so much trouble is still going on. [Big Law Business / BNA]

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Gov. Christie Takes Eminent Domain Action Against Anti-Dune City

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration filed an eminent domain action against the small coastal city of Margate in Atlantic County whose residents have resisted his plan to construct massive dunes along the shore.

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The Next President Could Bring Back Torture

by Chris Edelson, assistant professor of government, American University School of Public Affairs. Edelson is the author of definitions and dangerous theories of unrestrained executive power to conclude that it could authorize waterboarding. Since waterboarding is torture, it is a crime, and waterboarding (since it is torture) cannot be justified by emergency. Apart from the fact that it is illegal, there is no evidence that waterboarding produces reliable intelligence. Some who are waterboarded simply tell their interrogators anything they think will get the waterboarding to stop. A Senate report concluded that Khalid Sheikh Muhammed provided fabricated information after being subjected to waterboarding and other interrogation methods.

To his credit, President Obama has rejected waterboarding, correctly identifying it as torture. He issued an executive order in 2009 that would rule out interrogation methods not authorized by and listed in the Army Field Manual (the manual specifically prohibits waterboarding). However, his administration has not prosecuted anyone for authorizing or carrying out waterboarding.

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Facebook and NY Attorney General Battle Sex Trafficking

Facebook and the New York Attorney General have formed a prolific crime-fighting partnership. The two have teamed up to find missing children and curb illegal gun sales. Now the Batman and Robin of Gotham justice are working on a new plan to battle online sex trafficking.

The latest partnership hopes to use Facebook’s mountains of user and ad data to identify human traffickers and child victims of sex trafficking.

Officer Facebook

Facebook has never been a company to shy away from police assistance. What you do on Facebook can be criminal, and Facebook has been willing to hand user data over to police (though not as willing to give it to criminal defendants). As for the latest initiative, Facebook’s director of state public policy Will Castleberry said the social media company “is pleased to be working with Attorney General [Eric T.] Schneiderman on his efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking.”

According to the Attorney General’s press release, that work will “leverage technology to identify victims of sex trafficking in online advertisements for commercial sex, and pursue the traffickers that engage in this practice of modern day slavery. The initiative will focus, in particular, on identifying child victims of sex trafficking, including those who are reported as missing.”

Specifically, Facebook will “develop algorithms that will identify evidence of trafficking in these online advertisements, including pattern analysis of ad language, phone numbers, images, and other data, as well as identification of missing children who appear in advertisements for commercial sex.”

The Human Toll of Trafficking

The use of Facebook’s data and analytical methods to crack down on human trafficking is welcome news to law enforcement and human rights advocates. Though most people may associate human trafficking with movies and crime dramas, illegal sex trafficking is all too real, even in America’s suburbs. And child sex trafficking is especially damaging.

Privacy advocates may worry about its methods, but if Facebook’s latest crime-fighting efforts can be as effective as its last, we’ll all be better off for it.

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