Not One of Your Busier Crossing Spots

St. Elana Canyon, Rio Grande, Texas

A survey of recent Appellate Court Decisions. Who says Judges don’t have a sense of humor?

At sentencing, the question arises whether “conspiracy to commit murder” qualifies as a “crime of violence.” Fourth Circuit: Congress defined the word “conspiracy” so broadly (without any “overt act” requirement) that we reluctantly conclude it does not. Dissent: Plotting to kill a human being is not a crime of violence? Heaven help us.

  • Standing on the Mexican side of the U.S.–Mexico border, unarmed 15-year-old is shot and killed by a border patrol agent. Can his family sue the agent for damages? Fifth Circuit(en banc): For the second time, no, they cannot.

As an aside, my partner Ed, and I were told similar stories. We were each told the stories in the same time period mid to late 70’s, by two different storytellers. Comparing notes I have no doubt that they were contemporaries, knew each other and rode together. One was a Border Patrol Agent and the other a Texas Ranger. At the time of the storytelling, they lived  100 miles apart and were relating events that had occurred fifty to sixty years in the past. Ed and I wouldn’t meet until 1990.

They would patrol the border for a week at a time. They would mix things up sometimes riding from point A to Point B and then catch a train back to the starting point. Sometimes they would ride out, one from point A and the other from point B. They would meet up campout for the night and then turn back.

Sometimes when they met up and the river crossing was particularly busy they would shoot for quarters. Stationed on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande they would shoot Mexicans crossing the river, after first betting whether the Mexican would sink or float once hit. This was a combination of skill, being able to hit the target and luck in predicting which body would sink and which would float. Both spoke fondly of a leisurely afternoon shooting on the Rio Grande

Guess some traditions stood the test of time.

  • Are a pro se prisoner’s allegations of excessive force “too vague” to support relief when he alleges that two Phoenix police officers “beat the crap out of” him? Ninth Circuit: No.Apparently “beat the crap out of” is quantifiable. I think it is somewhere between “Rip your head off and shit in your neck,” and “stomp a mudhole in ur ass.”