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An opinion without value

I greatly enjoyed reading Debra Yang's defense of the USA Patriot Act (November), but I disagree with her assessment that it represents a balance of freedom and protection. She writes that the provisions of the act are carefully crafted to prevent future terrorist attacks and to preserve our Constitutional freedoms.

There is a section of the U.S. Constitution found at Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 which gives the power to declare war to the Congress. That section hasn't been defended nor protected nor balanced by the present administration, but is un-remarked upon by Ms. Yang.

The process clause which talks about not having life or liberty infringed upon without recourse was not protected nor defended when hundreds of people were locked up in military brigs. The U.S. citizen who was blown up by a CIA missile launched by a drone in Yemen did not receive any due process, but he goes unnoticed by Ms. Yang.

I'd like to thank the Bar Journal for publishing Ms. Yang's opinion, but as someone who took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, I don't find her opinion to be very valuable.

Alex Easterbrook
Redwood City

Unconstitutional Patriot Act

Debra Yang in her article supporting the Patriot Act makes the legal argument that the act cannot be overturned because "I assure you that it does not give unfettered power to the justice department and the FBI, nor does it trample on the civil rights of citizens . . ." What good are her assurances if the act's actual language does trample on everyone's civil rights? Moreover, to cover this up, it relies on what Ben Johnson called the last refuge of scoundrels, "patriotism."

If this act were in fact limited to terrorists as that is commonly understood (people who intend to do a great deal of personal injury, death and property damage solely to advance a political goal), it would not be so bad. In fact, a terrorist is anyone the government claims to be one, and includes all sorts of garden variety criminals that have no political goal.

Yang's assurances will evaporate like a drop of water in the desert sunshine. Prosecutors will utilize the act as much as they can, whenever they can, to get whatever results the act will allow them. In the end, the act will do nothing to stop organized terrorists, but it will be used to stop opposition to the government.

The Patriot Act is a mistake and should be unconstitutional, but I fear that the current Supreme Court justices are as blind to that fact as were the World War II justices blind to the illegal internment of the Japanese.

Robert Krase

Good lawyer deeds

I would like to officially commend a member of your organization. Barry Greene of Santa Ana took over my case from an attorney who was retiring. That attorney did not give the best effort to my case and I wound up in very serious legal trouble. Barry took over, got everything squared away and remains my attorney.

With all the negative sentiments about attorneys, I thought you would like to know that there are people in your profession who are ethical, fair, honest and truly sympathetic to others' problems. Barry is one of those people. I don't know if you give awards for someone who exemplifies your profession, but if you did Barry should receive it.

Steve Walczak

Pernicious poppycock

I defend habitual drug users in court every day. The "medical model" of drug use touted in the November MCLE self-study by Richard Carlton is pernicious poppycock.

The "medical model" confuses what a drug does to a body with how it gets in the body. A correct term for a person who ingests drugs is "a user."

The "medical model" couches political and moral judgments as scientific medical facts. When one of my client's urine tests returns positive for a forbidden drug, the authorities, including the "treatment professionals," call the test "dirty." That label belies that drug use really is a "disease." It reveals that narcotics prohibition is based on plain old moral value judgments.

One alarming fact I gleaned from the MCLE test is that no one is immune from the drug use "disease." Not just my clients fall victim, but my colleagues and I personally are at risk because "substance-related disorders" are an "apparent occupational hazard . . . in the legal profession," possibly because of "the stress of legal practice." I have polled my colleagues. We have seen what the drug use "disease" can do. We terribly fear catching it. We fear catching "alcoholism." We fear contracting a cocaine "addiction." We dread coming down with a bad case of heroin "addiction."

But, thanks to the bar, at least we take comfort that the Lawyer Assistance Program will "treat" us if we do. Of course, even Mr. Carlton's legions cannot "cure" us. The "disease," once you get it, lasts forever. Can I have my hour of MCLE credit for learning that?

Robert J. Hill
Los Angeles

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