Sunday, February 11, 2007

I’d Rather Watch Sausage Being Made

What's wrong with this picture?

This is State Sen. Shannon Robinson, (D) Bernalillo County, District 17, during the recent cockfighting ban debate on the floor of the Senate. This piece of legislation, in particular, seemed like a forum for excessive grandstanding.

With existing laws against cruelty to animals and gambling, specifically outlawing cockfighting would seem superfluous. Except there is an exemption for cockfighting; it’s not against the law now. It’s actually allowed.
“K. The provisions of this section shall not be interpreted to prohibit cockfighting in New Mexico.”

The current law has a list of exceptions that make perfect sense:
“(1) humanely destroying a sick or injured animal; or
(2) protecting a person or animal from death or injury due to an attack by another animal.”
E. Extreme cruelty to animals consists of a person:
(1) intentionally or maliciously torturing, mutilating, injuring or poisoning an animal; or
(2) maliciously killing an animal.”

Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Sen. Mary Jane M. Garcia, (D) Dona Ana County, District 36, right, strikes the exception and prohibits cockfighting.

Sen. Phil A. Griego, (D) Los Alamos, Mora, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe and Taos Counties, District: 39 opposed the bill and argued strongly against the ban using the argument and suggesting that the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo protected cultural activities, including cockfighting. However, article IX of the treaty delineates that the former citizens of Mexico, at the end of the Mexican-American War, were entitled to, “…the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles of the Constitution; and in the mean time, shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion without; restriction.”

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo argument fails miserably as the other states that were covered by it: California, Arizona, Utah and parts of Colorado, all have outlawed cockfighting?

Another thought: I cannot think of any other “legal” activity that is so deeply underground. Could it be that supporters of cockfighting know that if they practiced their “sport” in the light of day, the general public would be even more outraged than they already seem.

The bill passed the Senate 31-11 and is on its way to the House, where has passed repeatedly.

So what's wrong with this picture?

There is an old saw that goes, there are two things you don’t want to see made: sausage and legislation.

It matters little what the debate is about. See fellow student Jo Fanelli’s blog at:

I enjoy seeing politicians verbally turn themselves inside out trying to make language support logic to illogical propositions. The use of rhetoric and hyperbole are common devices in this linguistic exercise. It should be expected. Robinson, however, got so worked up that he misstated the law. I wouldn’t normally get upset about such a gaff, but he made a huge blunder.

In talking about the potential penalties associated with this bill, Robinson tried to point out that, because ultimately, upon a third conviction, the penalty was a fourth degree felony.

The Senate Judiciary committee had reduced the original penalties for a first conviction from a full misdemeanor, with a fine of $1,000, and or confinement in the county jail for a definite term less than one year, to a petty misdemeanor, carrying a fine of $500 and or jail time of up to six months. A second conviction would be a full misdemeanor.

A third and subsequent conviction would be a fourth degree felony, carrying a possible punishment of a fine of $5,000 and or up to eighteen months in the state prison.

Robinson made the argument that because ultimately, upon a third conviction, the penalty was a felony, that felony rules applied to all cases; whether or it not it was a third offense.

He then went into hyperbole hyper-drive stating that one trying to enforce the ban would have to shoot the “felon” if they tried to escape a cockfighting event, whether they were owners of a bird or a child of a spectator.

What sets me off about this diatribe is that as a practicing attorney, a member of the state bar, Robinson could possibly get such a fundamental legal concept so completely wrong. The use of deadly force is only authorized when a felon is in the actual commission of a violent act that could kill or seriously injure another person or, while still armed, flees where they may continue their violent act. Then, and only then, may a person use deadly-force. What is so wrong about Robinson’s comment was it was made in the well of the Senate, while a number of students were visiting the gallery. They heard a prominent legislator make a statement, as if it were a fact of law.

I don’t call for censoring bad speech; I’m just raising the volume to say that Robinson’s comments were irresponsible because they are simply untrue. I am concerned that young impressionable minds will believe Robinson. How can Robinson justify the next “kid” who chases a car thief to recover his father’s stolen vehicle and shoots him, because “he’d heard a senator and lawyer say that was the law?”

After all that, I still had to stop at a Kentucky Fried Chicken to pick up some wings. No baloney!

1 comment:

Joseph Lopez said...

Mr. Bralley, you know your use of force doctrine WELL, sir.

I went through 18 weeks of academy, and it sounds friggin' pitch perfect as to what we were told in 1989 on use of force on fleeing felons. They drilled it into us in the law block, during the tactical "hands on" stuff, all the time we were at the range, we were reminded of

1. Ability

2. Opportunity

3. Manifest intent (imminent jeopardy)

4. Preclusion

It SCARES me that people we have entrusted with our lives and liberties could be so seemingly incompetent and not just look up the statutes that have the curriculum requirements in it, its like crib notes for the law block...