Tuesday, May 31, 2016


There's a new ebook out titled Ted Bundy: A Visual Timeline, which should tell you more about the life and crimes of Ted Bundy than you'll ever want to know. The author, Rob Dielenberg, consulted with me concerning the Lake City case, and that portion of the book devoted to Lake City is accurate. If Dielenberg took as much care with the rest of Bundy's career as he did with the portion I know about, and I see no reason why he shouldn't have, then the book will be far more accurate than most of the existing literature on Bundy.

Friday, May 20, 2016


When I was a teenager, I went to a hunting-themed restaurant. When it came time to visit the restroom, I saw that the signs on the doors depicted bird dogs. One door had the picture of a pointer and the other the picture of a setter. I chose the door with the pointer on it, and when I got inside, I found a line of urinals along one wall. The restaurant's humorous reference to the structural differences between men and women made it very easy to distinguish the men's room from the women's room.

Oddly enough, restrooms have historically been designed to accommodate the external plumbing of the "gender" using them. Lately, in a move for gender equity, buildings have begun installing "family" restrooms which are essentially unisex rooms designed to accommodate parents with small children. Now the ruling has come down from Mount Olympus, er Washington, that the external plumbing of the users of bathrooms is irrelevant to whichever bathroom they choose to use, and if the recipients of government grants want to keep on getting government funds they'd better get with the program and let people use whichever bathroom makes them feel better.

Transgendered people have been around at least since the seventies. When I was a public defender, I represented a woman who disclosed to me that I had gone to high school with him. It was something of a shock back in that day and age, but my client had submitted to the necessary medical procedures and was living with her boyfriend. A few years later an acquaintance of mine moved away from town, had a sex-change operation, and became a lesbian.

I never followed either one of these people into a bathroom, but I don't think they caused a stir by entering a women's room and using the facilities as "setters." I don't really see how something like that could be aproblem unless the transgendered individual marched into the bathroom beating a drum and loudly proclaiming "I am transgendered!" That seems to me to be about the only way anyone would notice, unless the transgendered individual was some sort of a reality TV star.

The very real problem with letting people equipped with external plumbing who claim that they "feel like a woman" use the women's room is that there are a lot of dirtbags among the ranks of the pointers who would be happy to use such a license to go into women's rooms for the purpose of voyeurism and sexual harassment.

I propose a gender-neutral solution to the problem. Take down all signs everywhere which refer to the "gender" of the users of the bathrooms. No "Men's Rooms," no "Women's Rooms." Put up signs saying "Pointers" and "Setters." Those who came into this world fully equipped for pointing and who have not had that equipment surgically removed, regardless of "gender," would be required to use the "Pointers" room. All others could use the "Setters" room. Those who feel uncomfortable in either place can opt for the "family" bathroom.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


There’s a lot of noise in the media now about our president going to Japan and apologizing for Hiroshima. There happens to be nothing to apologize for. We did not start the war, and it quickly became a no-holds-barred fight to the finish, with the Japanese strategy being to inflict so many casualties upon us that we would give up the fight rather than continue it. Each storm landing in our island-hopping campaign was bloodier that the previous one, and the biggest bloodbaths came at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The cost in American lives and the maimed bodies of American fighting men, however, was nothing compared to the butcher’s bill that was expected from the invasion of Japan.

They planned a two stage operation. First we would invade Kyushu, seize its ports and airfields, and from there stage an invasion of Honshu, the main island. The terrain of Kyushu was every bit as formidable as that of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. It would not be a war of maneuver as in Europe, but a toe-to-toe slugfest with a dug-in and highly motivated defense force. Planners anticipated 60,000 casualties in the invasion of Kyushu, but this was before they found out about the Japanese plans. We had cracked the Japanese codes and were reading their mail by the end of the war, and knew exactly what they were up to. That knowledge was not reassuring. The Japanese high command had wargamed the US invasion, and they had predicted what we planned to do so precisely that our side thought they had spies among our planners. 

The Japanese were as ready for us as one war-weary country can be ready for another war-weary country. The number of troops defending Kyushu was equal to the number of troops assigned to take the island. Military theory posits that in order to insure success in an attack, the attacker should outnumber the defender by 3 to 1. They had trained up a new fleet of Kamikaze aircraft and pilots, and they were training these pilots to ignore the warships and attack only troop transports. They had a fleet of suicide boats and mini-submarines ready to attack the landing craft as they went ashore. They had special troops trained for suicide attacks on the forces which arrived ashore. We would have eventually taken our objectives on Kyushu, but the cost in human life, both Japanese and American, would be staggering. Then we would have to turn around and do it all over again on Honshu.

My father was in the Third Marine Division, having seen combat at Guam, Bougainville, and Iwo Jima. The Third Marine Division was slated to spearhead the assault on the island along with the Second Marine Division. My father, like a lot of other young men who had spent the last three years of their lives fighting in the Pacific, had decided that he was not going to survive the invasion. Many of the men training for the invasion of Honshu believed that the death told would be so high at Kyushu that they would be called into combat at Kyushu. 

The worst thing about fighting a war is that people die. When waging war, you really want to try your best to make sure that fewest number of your people die as possible. When confronted with the unpleasant choice of many of their people dying versus many of our people dying, then we must choose many of their people dying. But that wasn’t the choice Truman faced. He faced the choice of many of their people dying versus many more of our people dying AND many more of their people dying. 

Before considering making an apology for Hiroshima, read Chapter 9 of Joseph H. Alexander’s book Storm Landings: Epic Amphibious Battles in the Central Pacific, or some similar source describing the anticipated invasion of Japan. If Truman had not ordered the use of the atomic bomb, we would have invaded Japan, and there would probably have been a postwar Baby Bubble rather than a Baby Boom. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here, and I suspect many of those who want to line up and apologize for Hiroshima wouldn’t be here either.

Friday, May 6, 2016


When I worked for the State Attorney's Office we had a saying that went something like this: "Your day is off to a good start if you pick up the morning paper and your name isn't on the front page." I picked up the Lake City Reporter yesterday morning and by golly, not only my name but my picture was on the front page. My first thought was "Oh, [organic fertilizer]!" The headline made it look like State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister and I were about to square off and come to blows over the issue of a proposed ordinance to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Columbia County. We aren't. We've never discussed the matter, and our views are not as far apart as the headline would lead the casual reader to believe.

If you read the article carefully, you see that the disagreement between Mr. Siegmeister and me is more apparent than real. Such an ordinance is most likely unconstitutional and would be struck down if challenged. Until challenged and invalidated it could be enforced. Mr. Siegmeister says they can't pass such an ordinance, meaning if they pass it the ordinance would be unconstitutional. I say they can pass it, but it will likely be struck down as unconstitutional if challenged. Two lawyers saying basically the same thing but sounding like they disagree.

A county ordinance in derogation of statewide criminal law is prima facie unconstitutional and vulnerable to being struck down. I remember a situation years ago where some county passed an ordinance for issuing concealed weapons permits. That ordinance sought to decriminalize carrying concealed weapons, and it was struck down as unconstitutional. I foresee the same fate for a county ordinance decriminalizing possession of marijuana IF it is challenged.

If the State Attorney agreed not to challenge the ordinance, then such an ordinance could fly, unless some other representative of the state (the Attorney General maybe) decided to step in and challenge it. 

Nobody asked me about the wisdom of a local ordinance decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, but I'll put in my two cents' worth anyway. For all practical purposes the possession of small FELONY amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized ever since the Florida Legislature enacted the Sentencing Guidelines back in 1983. Break out a Florida Punishment Code score sheet and figure out how many times you'd have to be convicted of FELONY possession of marijuana before you would score incarceration. If possession of marijuana is going to be further decriminalized, it ought to be decriminalized by the Florida Legislature, not individual Boards of County Commissioners.

There was one thing that Mr. Siegmeister and I seem to have a genuine disagreement about, and that is the effect that a decriminalization ordinance would have on search and seizure law. According to the paper, he argued to the Board of County Commissioners that a decriminalization ordinance would make it difficult to establish probable cause for searches based on the smell of cannabis. I contend that it would have no effect. State law trumps County Ordinance. Search and seizure law would be unaffected by a decriminalization ordinance.