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Join the conversation! There are now 36 comments on “Convict Yourself pg 50
  1. austin says

    hmm…not sure where this is going…obscenity laws? *sits down, makes a bridge of his hands* go on….

    • If I were to only look at today’s comic, I’d guess libel. Since that is civil, not criminal, and doesn’t fit with the preceding comics, I’d guess that she “confesses” to a crime in one of her comics.

    • It could be a fictional story about a real (unpopular) politician being killed put in such a way as to advocate it.. You could get in trouble for that.

  2. I resemble that, except for the obscure sex jokes.

    Do I need to know what happens next?

  3. Alex Wyman says

    That Taylor series pun really does live up to the promised obscurity…

  4. shirenomad says

    Then she gets sued by Randall Munroe for copyright infringement…

  5. I’m going to comment on the Elephant in the room here.

    Do you really wanna teach people to hate the American legal system?

    • Absolutely not! It’s the best legal system I know of. It’s the system I proudly serve every day.

      My purpose is to dispel myths — which are legion, and which do more harm than good — and show how things really work. Too many people wind up putting their heads in the noose because they’re ignorant about what the law actually is (entrapment, self-defense) or what it does (overcrim/strict liability, Miranda). Not just ignorant, but misinformed. I just want to show how the law really is, and reveal the principles and practices that explain why it is that way.

      Miranda is an excellent example of a bug that people mistakenly think of as a feature. It’s fascinating to me that this rule, which everyone thinks is anti-law-enforcement, is really about as pro-cop as you can get. (I had a professor back in law school who said this was why it’s never been overturned. But that presumes the Court understands this point, and I’m not persuaded that it ever really has.) Or I dunno, maybe it is a feature — but if it is, it’s not for the reasons people say.

      So don’t hate the American legal system. See how awesome and amazing it is! See what really works and how it really works. Sure it’s not perfect, so also be aware of what doesn’t work so well. With an understanding of its underlying principles, maybe even come up with a way to improve it!

      The law is the rulebook for the game of life. Best to know what the rules actually are, instead of believing in fairy tales and hoping for the best. As they say: ignorance of the law is no excuse.

      • As a software engineer, I might enjoy programming immensely, but I also occasionally hate computers and software in a special way that only engineers can. Are you saying that you don’t have a similar relationship to the legal system?

        • I think we have the same feelings — love it in general, but get infuriated at specifics. Usually at the stuff that frustrates what you’re trying to do.

          My beefs aren’t so much with the legal system, but with what people in the system do. Or with the idiosyncrasies of a particular courthouse or courtroom. Most are excellent, by the way. But even so, don’t get me started on all the ways people can screw things up.

          As for the law itself? If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be doing what I do.

          • Any bug reports for the District of Massachusetts?
            Also, how do you feel about PACER or the state court equivalents?

            • Ooh, good idea for a blog — just a collection of anonymous venting sent in by lawyers who want to bitch about their courthouse without screwing the fact that they have to keep appearing there.

              I like PACER, but it really ought to be free and its interface could stand some improvement.

              • If you ever set that up, let me know. I know the clerk of court for MA and he’s a big fan of continuous improvement .

                Yea, thats basically my opinion of PACER. I like RECAP in principle, but they don’t have a sustainable business model as a nonprofit.

          • Are you ever going to cover divorce law and the Family Courts, out of curiosity, along with the way they essentially make men the financial slaves of any woman they’re unfortunate enough to impregnate?

  6. Librarian says

    I just had a question with regards to something that was brought up several panels ago. (I’m asking it here so I can keep track of the answer)

    Earlier it was discussed about Police Interrogations and how they’ll lie and trick you into confessing, under the pretext that leniency might be shown in return.
    I was reading in Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, and found this little gem
    “Promises, evidences. When a defendant has been arrested, he is frequently induced to make confessions in consequence of promises made to him, that if he will tell the truth, he will be either discharged or favored: in such a case evidence of the confession cannot be received, because being obtained by the flattery of hope, it comes in so questionable a shape, when it is to be considered evidence of guilt, that no credit ought to be given to it. 1 Leach, 263. This is the principle, but what amounts to a promise is not so easily defined”

    Where does this fall in with the aforementioned assurances of leniency cops will tell you in order to get a confession?

    • Or does it not apply since the suspect has not been charged with anything yet, or because they “consented” to the confession?

  7. Raen says

    Oy – a reference (the sex panel) to THAT strip. Someone’s found the dark corners of the Internet.

    …actually, I’ve got to say, there’s a panel of this strip that made me wonder when I saw it if it might have been illegal to post… I think you know which… and I suspect you’ll be addressing it.

  8. Matthew` says

    I get that the general thrust is to not talk to the police, during an interrogation until you have a lawyer present. I just wonder what advice you have for someone who isn’t able for whatever reason to have one. Basically ideally wondering how far wrong I went when I was arrested some time back. As a foreign national, not resident in the USA, I was told I wasn’t entitled to a lawyer and that my alleged crime was too minor for consular assistance.
    I don’t have any great complaint about how I was treated, I was released without charge in under a week managing to get the last plane out of the USA home before my visa expired so in the end it wasn’t a problem.

    • From what I understand, you only receive a court-appointed lawyer if your offense carries jail time. For minor offenses, you have a right to an attorney, but not necessarily the right to a free one.

      • That violates the stated miranda rights: “If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you by the court.”

        Of note, I’ve read of one case where they froze a person’s assets, claiming it was evidence of a crime (used RICO); then, they denied him a court-appointed attorney because he “had assets,” I.E., could afford an attorney.
        IIRC, this was a family court custody issue in NJ…
        But it begs the question: How can you HAVE ASSETS that you cannot touch – making you in essence bankrupt – and STILL be declared fiscally capable of providing for your own defense?

        You don’t HAVE the assets if they are frozen. And if you produce new assets, it’s going to be seized as evidence anyway. (this was also before Crowdsourcing or similar approaches appeared online. Like mid 90s, maybe early 00s.)

  9. Matthew` says

    Not sure what the exact legal term was, but it was drug possession that they accused me of, based on finding trace amounts of something in the hire car.

    Anyway as I am saying I wasn’t complaining about how I was treated, I accept that foreign non residents can’t accept the full protection of the US constitution. To be clear though it wasn’t that I wasn’t allowed free legal advice, but that I wasn’t allowed legal advice at all. I suppose the only thing that shocked me was not being able to contact the embassy for consular support, but I suppose it makes sense that it is reserved for more serious crimes.

    In the end I signed something promising not to sue them, or to return to the USA in return they dropped an underage drinking charge (I was 25 at the time but admitted to drinking age 20) and actually helped me to get to the airport in time to leave before my visa expired, which was the single thing I was most worried about. Well that and sorting the funds for a transatlantic flight booked less than a day before it left. I could afford it just didn’t have that kind of spare budget on the card I was using on holiday.

    • Foreign non-residents actually do have full Constitutional protection. That I know for a fact. Those crimes just aren’t severe enough for an appointed lawyer to kick in – in truth, they’re very minor offenses.

      • Well the police at the time seemed to say I wasn’t allowed a lawyer because I wasn’t a resident and wasn’t allowed consular support because it wasn’t serious enough.

        That all said, I was asking how I should have handled the situation, not whether the situation was legal. I am sure it was, they will have know the law better than me.

        Also for very minor, they were definitely talking about a custodial sentence for the drugs part. Seems unreasonable to not allow someone facing jail time access to a lawyer, I can understand not providing one but that wasn’t the problem.

        The underage drinking was only going to be a fine and frankly it was that that annoyed me most. I had drunk underage for the USA, but had done so in a different country where it wasn’t underage. It seemed inherently unjust that I was to be punished for it. Didn’t see how it was any business of the NYPD what I had done in a different country. Though on reflection telling them that wasn’t diplomatic.

        • Hasn’t the point of this comic been *not* to trust police to tell you anything? Yes they probably know better than you about the law. They also are allowed to lie to you about it, and they frequently do.

          Only your lawyer, hired or appointed, has a duty or even a reason to help you. The police, sadly, are often more interested in getting fines and racking up arrests than they are about actually, you know, enforcing the law.

          From your description, it seems your rights were seriously violated in an attempt to get you deported. Any time you are under arrest you have the right to an attorney and as a non-citizen, the right to contact your country’s embassy or consular office.

          The courts have ruled here that the rights apply to you based on where you are, not what country you are a citizen of. In fact, US citizens who leave the country have *fewer* rights than you have while in the country. In the end, you were tricked, lied to, and coerced by police and it sounds like ICE personnel too.

          Signing the agreement has certainly damaged your options, but you may be able to have it vacated on the grounds that police illegally coerced you to sign it.

          Once you agree to self-deportation or an equivalent procedure, you risk being denied entry into the US not only for the terms of your agreement, but also thereon after as it shows up in ICE records. You should seriously consider hiring a US immigration attorney if you ever intend to return to the US. Even a layover in a US airport could be complicated by such a record.

          You seem unconcerned about what happened to you. I don’t know what country you are in, but your treatment is an embarrassment to me as an American, to the NYPD, and it should be to all else who live in the USA.

          • I strongly suspect that you, as a foreign national who was in the country legally, probably have MORE rights than a native: you are probably protected by treaty and international law for certain things, and you could probably be simply deported instead of being tried (or instead of being jailed if you do get tried).

            I agree that you were probably lied to — about EVERYTHING. Even for the underage drinking, I suspect the statute of limitations ran out long before, and if it didn’t occur in jurisdiction, they would have had NO authority over it anyway.

        • Matthew,
          Cops don’t often know the law for shit.
          They often don’t WANT to know (meaning, REALLY KNOW AND UNDERSTAND) the law.
          They want to make arrests. They want to be seen as heros and (avenging) angels.

          Mostly, assume they are compensating for an abusive childhood and/or inferiority complex. (Example of the tell: They have more tats than the gangs they arrest, up to but not necessarily including lifelong Yakuza.)
          More information in a sensationalized nature, watch “Criminal Minds” if you can find it, goes into a lot of psychology (profiling). Not saying it’s any more accurate than, say, CSI – but it’s less involved with individual crimes, like a “Law and Order” (Which has a corrupt prosecutor more interested in the outcome than the law, and a LOT of bad law, and even more bad/shoddy police work – which often, in fact underscores the Miranda and 5th amendment information presented here. If confronted with a cop, STFU. If you cannot leave, determine the value of going peacefully – for most of us, it’s the better alternative, but you still lawyer up ASAP. And if they deny you consular contact, and deny you a lawyer – it’s a kangaroo court, STFU and find a way to get out.
          With my attitude, that includes all means, legal and not. )
          As for the Visa issue, that becomes paperwork. IIRC, it’s bad form at the very least to charge someone for a crime you have made unavoidable. E.G., if a foreigner is incarcerated, and then charged for their overstay of the visa because they are in prison? It’s not like the made a CHOICE to stay – there’s no Mens Rea.
          OTOH, I also understand it to be a statutory thing, and reality often doesn’t matter to small-minded bureaucrats. That is, cops, many lawyers (Sorry, Nathan, but you CHOSE the profession), most judges… Most business people.
          E.G., I just completed last month’s timesheet. I MUST fill in ALL the days and hours worked, with the right project, task, etc. Because they use it for budgeting and costs, dontcha know.
          So when I first started, and the projects were shite, and the three-man team (We ahd 4, but #4 was on something else) was working 60-80 hours a week, ALL OF US, for something like 3 months…?
          They added two people in India during this time, based on the PAST records, supposedly – and then one guy (#4 above) quit; and then they cut the funds for the other consultant.
          We are now working 10 hours a day (only allowed to report 8, mind!) and the boss is working like 12 hours a day…
          And if these A-holes cared about more than the bottom line, and following the procedure, and “getting the guilty” – we’d have about 3 more people brought on board by now. The projects… Well, dealing with one right now where they have TWO assets for the development – one of whom is 50%+ allocated to fixing Production issues. Go live was Friday…. They didn’t have a functioning product. It’s comparable to making a railroad switch – that’s ALL it does. And it doesn’t work, after 9 weeks of “testing.” I.E., the development was supposed to be COMPLETED 9 weeks ago…. Functionally tested, too.

          Small-mindedness is endemic, and no one wants MORE work. (“Good enough for government work.” )

          I’m a software engineer doing Performance Testing of systems. E.G., eBay. Toys R Us. Radio Shack.
          All anyone wants to do is shovel shit over the wall. In fact, I had to defend my abilities from their inquisition in the first project I was doing. It was along the lines of,
          “There’s a problem.”
          “No there’s not.”
          “No, there’s a problem, look here.”
          There’s no problem.”
          “No, here’s the spec, here’s the service agreement, it takes this long, you need to look here to find the problem in detail and fix it.”
          “Do you even know what you’re talking about? Maybe we should have a discussion about your inadequacies as a tester.”

          At which point, I dug in deep, took screenshots of every step and the associated code, and sent it to them in a nasty, semi-professional polemic.

          They fixed the problem. (Sounded like some management escalation occurred.)
          Next time I found a problem, they said, “We’ll fix it…”

          You sound like you were in my position, without the tools I had. IE, no lawyer, no consul, no notification. On a deadline, no ability to change things on your own.

          You were a victim of the “our shit don’t stink” doctrine Nathan is exposing.

          Hence the prevalent bad attitude in the USA towards cops, overall. “Uncle Harry” is a cop, he’s awesome! (Little Jimmy, age 5)
          “Uncle Harry” is a pig, he busts people on made up offenses and things they didn’t do, and lies to their face – then tells me about it at the family BBQ, and laughs the whole time. (Little Jimmy, age 10)

          [simplified, of course.]

          Google “the myth of authority.” Or, “The reluctant anarchist.”

          And I was brought up a Republican, a conservative. Yet I view the cops as “the enemy” now, and I’ve only had speeding tickets, and those aren’t recent…
          Wonder what made the change in attitude?

  10. Matthew` says

    Not sure what the exact legal term was, but it was drug possession that they accused me of, based on finding trace amounts of something in the hire car.

    Anyway as I am saying I wasn’t complaining about how I was treated, I accept that foreign non residents can’t accept the full protection of the US constitution. To be clear though it wasn’t that I wasn’t allowed free legal advice, but that I wasn’t allowed legal advice at all. I suppose the only thing that shocked me was not being able to contact the embassy for consular support, but I suppose it makes sense that it is reserved for more serious crimes.

    In the end I signed something promising not to sue them, or to return to the USA in return they dropped an underage drinking charge (I was 27 at the time but admitted to drinking age 20) and actually helped me to get to the airport in time to leave before my visa expired, which was the single thing I was most worried about. Well that and sorting the funds for a transatlantic flight booked less than a day before it left. I could afford it just didn’t have that kind of spare budget on the card I was using on holiday.

    • Trace amounts of drugs in a RENTAL? And they actually managed to say that with a straight face? They must have practiced for a long time to do it without fainting from laughing so hard. Either that or they were too totally dumb to realize how totally nonsensical that was.

      Oh, not you; I wouldn’t really expect anyone to be thinking straight in that kinda situation.

  11. Aieou says

    “Wow, your truncated Maclaurin fits so well!”
    “Of course… it’s TAYLOR made!”
    I cracked up. XD

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