Should a criminal defendant be required to wear a mask at trial?

Coronavirus is here to stay, just as the Swedish MD/PhDs said back in February 2020 (“don’t lock down unless you’re willing to keep everyone at home for the next 20 years”). Criminal defendants are also likely to remain plentiful here in the U.S. Where do these phenomena intersect? San Jose!

“At Issue in Theranos Trial: Whether Elizabeth Holmes, Witnesses Will Wear Face Masks” (WSJ, August 16, 2021):

Attorneys for Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes told a federal judge on Monday that she plans to attend her criminal fraud trial with three family members or friends by her side and strongly prefers not to wear a face mask.

Should this be at the discretion of judges? Suppose that Dr. Fauci says that the best way to #StopTheSpread is to cover people in hoods, like Al-Qaeda warriors getting into a CIA-chartered Gulfstream for the trip to Guantanamo. Would it be okay for a jury to convict a defendant whose head they’ve never seen? If not, why is it okay for a jury to convict a defendant whose full face they’ve never seen?

Separately, the Theranos fraud (largely perpetrated, according to Bad Blood, by David Boies (on the Theranos Board) and the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner (now representing Palm Beach County in its fight to keep schoolchildren masked against the Florida governor’s order to allow parental choice)), was vaguely predicted here in 2014:

New Yorker magazine carries an article about a young self-made billionaire whose success was partly due to having put in the effort to learn Mandarin while in high school.

Separately, the article covers the question of whether people will benefit from being able to get blood tests more easily and cheaply, e.g., without having to first visit a physician and without having a vein opened up. A doctor friend says “Never order a test unless you know what you’re going to do with the answer.” If he is correct then generally we will not be healthier if we get more numbers more frequently. The article also covers the question of the extent to which the FDA will regulate vertically integrated blood testing labs differently than labs who buy their machines from third-party vendors.

Regarding the second question, I queried a friend in the pharma industry. Here’s what she had to say…

A couple of things struck me, the first being the powerful friends/supporters that she has on her Board. I really do believe that this has insulated her from some rather obvious scrutiny. The second was the FDA representatives who appear to not have a clue regarding their own regulations.

Who was the first to expose what Elizabeth Holmes and David Boies were up to at Theranos? According to Wikipedia, it was coronaheretic John Ioannidis (excommunicated Stanford professor, author of “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”, and colleague of Dr. Jill Biden, M.D., Ph.D.). Dr. Ionnidis, M.D., Ph.D. pointed out the red flags in February 2015 (a little later than this blog!), which was well before the October 2015 Wall Street Journal article that destroyed the company.

Circling back to the main topic… is it acceptable to run criminal trials in which defendants can be forced by judges to wear masks?


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Longest terms and conditions document for consumers? (177 pages at National rental car)

Signing up to the National Emerald Club since the U.S. is mostly out of rental cars and Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise are no longer sufficient….

How long are these Ts & Cs?

Is this a record? Here’s some of the stuff that I’m supposed to read now and remember perhaps a few years from now when it is time to visit Nicaragua:

On the other hand, maybe it will be sooner. The ruling party there seems to realize, as we do, that preventing citizens from hearing opposition voices is the best path to stable government: “Fifth presidential candidate detained in Nicaragua; 15 opposition leaders now detained in total” (CNN, June 21). Certainly, Nicaragua can teach us a lot about how to control COVID-19. As of June 22, the country had suffered 188 COVID-19-tagged deaths in a population of 6.5 million. Compare to New Jersey: nearly 26,377 deaths in a population of 9.3 million (Census 2020, though it is unclear if Census documents account for the undocumented.)

Readers: Who has ever seen a longer terms and conditions document from a company offering goods or services to consumers?

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Cost of being continuously stoned: $7,400 per year

From “Medical marijuana patients just got huge win as N.J. court says company must pay injured worker’s bills” (

The New Jersey Supreme Court dealt medical marijuana patients a big victory Tuesday, ruling unanimously that a construction company must pay for an injured employer’s medical cannabis bills.

The decision upheld an Appellate Division ruling from January 2020. That court said Vincent Hager’s former employer, M&K Construction, must foot the monthly bill for medical marijuana he uses to treat injuries he sustained on the job in 2001. As of early 2020, those costs were about $616 a month, according to court documents.

New Jersey’s medical marijuana patients have long complained of high costs. Prices have averaged between $350 to $500 an ounce. The law allows them to purchase up to 3 ounces each month, though most use less.

Only in America could we figure out a way for a literal “weed” to cost $7,400 per year per person!

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The idiots who said that marijuana legalization would be the gateway for harder drugs…

For those fools who objected to legalizing marijuana because it would open the door to social acceptance of more harmful drugs…. “This Heroin-Using Professor Wants to Change How We Think About Drugs” (New York Times, April 10, 2021):

Carl L. Hart, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, … confides that he has used heroin regularly for the last four years and describes the time he took morphine daily for three weeks in order to experience withdrawal.

Dr. Hart argued that most of what you think you know about drugs and drug abuse is wrong: that addiction is not a brain disease; that most of the 50 million Americans who use an illegal drug in a given year have overwhelmingly positive experiences; that our policies have been warped by a focus only on the bad outcomes; and that the results have been devastating for African-American families like his own.

Unlike past academic advocates for drug use, like Timothy Leary and Baba Ram Dass, who both experimented with L.S.D. at Harvard University, Dr. Hart rejects as “self-serving” the distinction between so-called good drugs, like psychedelics, and more maligned substances, like heroin and methamphetamine. All, he said, have their place.

What to do with all of the COVID vaccination sites once smart humans have shown the dumb virus who is boss?

A next step, Dr. Hart said, should be setting up testing sites nationwide where users can determine the purity and strength of their drugs — anathema to researchers like Dr. Madras, who say that anything that “normalizes” drug use leads to more use by adolescents — but essential for saving lives, Dr. Hart said.

He held out little hope that such sites would appear any time soon.

But he noted a twist during his time in the field. When he started, his students wanted to explore the dangers of drugs. Now they see more harm in drug prohibitions, he said.

(For the record, I am personally against the War on Drugs because it leads to an expansion of the government in general and the police state in particular. But I do think that alcohol should be cut way back (see Reintroduce Prohibition for the U.S.? and Use testing and tracing infrastructure to enforce alcohol Prohibition?) and I wouldn’t be telling folks to pick up heroin at the Safeway.)

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How’s the Derek Chauvin trial going?

How’s State v. Chauvin going? I haven’t been paying attention to this trial because I assume that conviction is guaranteed. If nothing else, since the judge denied a change of venue to somewhere outside the city, jurors who live in Minneapolis will have to convict Chauvin or risk having their houses burned down in a wave of post-acquittal mostly peaceful demonstrations (see also the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which followed an unwelcome acquittal).

Readers: Has anything new been learned?

It is a little unclear why taxpayers must fund this trial. Mr. Chauvin has already been convicted here in Massachusetts. From the Harvard Art Museum director, in an email regarding “Anti-Asian racism”: “It feels only moments ago that I was writing to you about the murder of George Floyd and so many others and the importance of banding together in support of our black and brown communities.” From our town’s “Selectmen” (one of whom is named “Jennifer”, so don’t take the “men” part literally): “Embedded in our town vision statement is a commitment to fostering economic, racial, ethnic, and age diversity within ***Happy Valley***. This longstanding commitment was brought into sharper focus and scrutiny last spring after the murder of George Floyd.” (the 2-acre zoning minimum is the cornerstone of our commitment to economic diversity, enabling us to welcome anyone able to afford a $1 million vacant lot) From the school superintendent: “Following George Floyd’s murder you received messages from [a diversity bureaucrat], me, and recently a statement from the School Committee expressing a commitment to focusing on race, inclusion, equity, and diversity in all aspects of our schools.”

Mr. Chauvin was also quickly convicted by our best and brightest nationwide. An email received July 4, 2020: “… more than 200 years of systemic racism. And just weeks ago, the murder of George Floyd. … We have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country. … Happy Fourth of July, Joe Biden.” An email received February 9, 2021: “Black History Month is a time to celebrate, reflect, and be inspired to action. … from the wrongful murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, to the treatment of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, to the attempts to diminish Black votes and Black voices in last year’s elections. … Happy Black History Month! Jaime Harrison, Chair, Democratic National Committee.”

[Regarding the unfortunate Breonna Taylor, note that a Grand Jury came to the opposite conclusion.]

Update, 4/20/2021: In case the jury is confused regarding the correct verdict … “President Biden calls George Floyd’s family and says evidence for a guilty verdict is ‘overwhelming.’” (NYT).


  • a 2015 post in which I noted that “Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted by an impartial jury of 12 locals wearing ‘Boston Strong’ T-shirts.” (the trial judge’s and prosecution’s failure to agree to the seemingly obvious need for change of venue has now resulted in years of litigation all the way up to the Supreme Court and, 8 years after Mr. Tsarnaev’s jihad, his fate remains uncertain)

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Raping by lying

“You Were Duped Into Saying Yes. Is That Still Consent?” (New York Times, March 5):

Imagine the following hypothetical situation: Frank and Ellen meet at a night course and end up getting drinks together after class several times. The drinks start to feel like dates, so Ellen asks Frank if he is married, making it clear that adultery is a deal-breaker for her. Frank is married, but he lies and says he is single. The two go to bed. Is Frank guilty of rape?

To many feminist legal scholars, the law’s failure to regard sexual fraud as a crime — when fraud elsewhere, such as fraud in business transactions, is taken to invalidate legal consent — shows that we are still beholden to an antiquated notion that rape is primarily a crime of force committed against a chaste, protesting victim, rather than primarily a violation of the right to control access to one’s body on one’s own terms.

The author, Roseanna Sommers, is a law professor and she essentially concludes that Frank did rape Ellen.

If the goal of “feminist legal scholars” is to help those who identify as “women”, I wonder if lying = rape will actually be helpful. Perhaps the theory is that this will be good for those who identify as “women” eager to file rape lawsuits because it is almost exclusively those who identify as “men” who lie to obtain consent. But the hypothetical example isn’t comprehensive. If Ellen is having sex in order to turn a profit via child support, for example, Frank being married actually improves her chances of getting consistently paid for 23 years (if Frank can’t pay, his beleaguered spouse will work and pay). What if Ellen were to say “It’s okay because I’m on the Pill”? She still has a good claim for $2 million in tax-free child support, but now Frank can file a civil lawsuit against her for rape and receive some of that money back (and then Ellen can file a child support modification lawsuit saying that Frank’s new wealth entitles her to higher monthly checks?).

Let’s tweak the story a little, to align it with a common lie

Frank asks Ellen if she has previously slept with more than 100 sex partners, making it clear that being a Tinder super user is a deal-breaker for him. Ellen is Tinderlicious, but she lies and says she hasn’t had sex with anyone since the Obama years. The two go to bed. Is Ellen guilty of rape?

Would it be a positive, from a feminist perspective, for Ellen to face a lawsuit in which sexual history is a legitimate subject for cross-examination?

How about financial matters? “Do Americans marry for love or money?” (MarketWatch):

Some 56% of Americans say they want a partner who provides financial security more than “head over heels” love (44%), a recent survey released by Merrill Edge, an online discount brokerage and division of Bank of America Merrill Lynch BAC, +1.18%, found. This sentiment is held in almost equal measure by both men and women (54% and 57%).

Should someone who identifies as a “woman” be exposed to a rape lawsuit because she purportedly told someone at a club that she expected to be promoted to a lucrative executive position that, in fact, did not materialize and that a reasonable person should not have expected? After a year of sex without the promotion materializing, the “duped-at-the-club” person now has a rape claim?

What about people who have difficulty remembering what they said years ago? “New state law extends the statute of limitations for rape in New York” (CNN):

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday that extends the statute of limitations for certain cases of rape and other sex crimes. He was joined at the signing by actresses… And under the law, victims now have 20 years in which to bring a civil suit for the offenses.

(and maybe Governor Cuomo was joined by some of those actresses after the signing as well?)

Suppose that a plaintiff sues Dianne Feinstein, alleging that the 87-year-old senator committed rape by lying in 2000, when she was 67 years old. That’s within the statute of limitations for rape, but are 20-year-old statements within the likely memory of an 87-year-old? Unless Feinstein is much sharper than the average 87-year-old and can testify convincingly, the $88 million that she acquired via marriage can be mined out by the plaintiff?

The good news is that the taxpayers of Michigan paid Professor Sommers to think about these issues! (or, if $billions for universities is buried somewhere in the latest $1.9 trillion spending package, perhaps taxpayers nationwide paid for this idea)

The scales of Justice, Gainesville, Florida, January 2021:

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Could coronashutdown help people forget old scandals?

“Former Sequoia Partner Wins Extortion Suit Against Ex-Mistress” (Bloomberg, January 3, 2020):

A salacious three-year legal battle involving a former partner at Sequoia Capital, a onetime exotic dancer and a promised $40 million hush money payment has come to an end.

A California Superior Court judge ruled in favor of venture capitalist Michael Goguen, finding his former mistress Amber Laurel Baptiste committed fraud and extortion when she threatened to publicize false claims, including that he gave her a sexually transmitted infection. The judge ordered Baptiste to pay back the full $10.25 million she got from Goguen. After a three-day trial that Baptiste didn’t attend, the court also approved a restraining order to protect Goguen and his current wife, Jamie Goguen.

She said she has already spent nearly $5 million of the money Goguen gave her on legal fees…

How complex is the case?

Goguen and Baptiste have said they met in 2002 at strip club in Dallas where she was working, and they began spending time together. In 2014, Goguen paid Baptiste $10 million in what was to be the first of four installments to sever communication and keep details of their affair and other allegations under wraps.

In her 2016 complaint, Baptiste alleged that Goguen sexually abused her for more than a decade, infected her and then reneged on a promise to pay the full $40 million. Goguen countersued, calling the affair consensual and accusing her of extortion. Goguen claimed he stopped paying her because she violated their contract by continuing to contact him and then broke their confidentiality agreement with her suit.

Stripping and sex can be complex, no doubt, but $5 million would ordinarily be considered a reasonable outcome in compensation for a wrongful death. If we assume that his fees were twice hers, that’s $15 million in transaction costs.

Leaving the question of why we’re happy with a legal system in which it costs $15 million in fees to settle a seemingly straightforward dispute of how much someone should be paid for having sex, does coronashutdown help people such as Mr. Goguen (his site is and suggests that he is still lying low)? Can people who’ve been locked into their apartments for a year get excited about an old scandal?


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Julian Assange cannot be held in isolation, rules a judge in the locked-down UK

“Julian Assange cannot be extradited to US, British judge rules” (Guardian):

Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the US to face charges of espionage and of hacking government computers, a British judge has decided.

Delivering her ruling the judge said said the WikiLeaks founder was likely to be held in conditions of isolation in a so-called supermax prison in the US … “I find that the mental condition of Mr Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” she said.

But she accepted the evidence of prominent medical experts, including details of how Assange had suffered from depression while in prison in London. “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man who is genuinely depressed about his future,” said Baraitser.

My Facebook friends assure me that government-imposed isolation is no hardship whenever the person who is isolated has access to Zoom. Perhaps the U.S. could obtain Assange if we promised the UK that we would let him have access to unlimited video chat?

Separately, Jan Steen’s painting of Londoners (those fortunate enough to live in a multi-person household) trying to make it through their Nth lockdown… (from the (real) National Gallery)

From London, 2017, #AheadOfTheCurve:

And a Messerschmitt car to keep you safe while traveling solo during COVID-19 (London 2007):

The Sitting Ducks of St. James’s Park (2007):


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Facebook reminds us how lucky we are

A post from Donald Trump, edited by Facebook:

I’m not sure how the identity of the president who takes over in January 2021 is relevant to a post regarding a coronaplague vaccine, but it is comforting to be reminded how lucky we are to have Joe Biden. #ThankYouFacebookEditorialDepartment

(The above was highlighted by a friend: “This is like AT&T listening to your call and editing.”)

From our local supermarket, Joe Biden is already an “American Legend”:

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