Brad King before he was killed by part-time sheriff’s deputies

Now that it’s been two months since Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, I can confidently say she is not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. Sure, she was nominated by the vilest figure in the last century of American politics. Sure, McConnell rammed her nomination through the Senate while millions of Americans were dying, getting evicted, and trying to figure out where their next meal was coming from. And sure, Barrett is an ideologue who will undoubtedly be toxic to women, unions, the LGBT community, immigrants, and any other vulnerable population you can think of. Those curiosities render her…

IMAGE CREDIT: The author confesses that her owner drew this. She is not proud.

As a dog, I have enjoyed this last year tremendously.

Not because of all those people who died of COVID (sorry about that). But because of you. This letter is to say thank you. Thank you for staying home and adding features to what used to be a dreadfully boring backyard. Thank you for the new deck. Thank you for the compost pile. Thank you for the firepit. Thank you most of all for the raised garden. They are all truly excellent places to make doo-doo.

We dogs thought crapping was passably enjoyable before. …

Photo by the author. You can use it if you want to.

I had the recent misfortune to learn of a death, and then to learn that it occurred long before I learned of it, both facts I wish I had never learned at all.

It’s 2011. I’m 33 years old and getting off a plane in Dublin. I had casually mentioned to a Twitter friend that my soon-to-be wife and I would be arriving on such-and-such day if he’d like to get together. …

Bodycam footage from the day of Andrew Brown’s death

Think you know your constitutional law? Here’s a pop quiz: When can a moving vehicle be considered a deadly weapon?

Before I reveal the answer, a little backstory: In 2001, a Georgia sheriff’s deputy clocked 19-year-old Victor Harris going 18 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Instead of pulling over, Harris decided to run. Soon he was being chased by a fleet of cruisers down a dark, deserted, two-lane highway in rural Georgia.

One of the deputies who gave chase, Timothy Scott, decided he was going to ram Harris’s vehicle from behind. Scott‘s supervisor told him to “go…

Cartoon from The Coming Nation, Sep. 28, 1912

One basic truth is America’s Rosetta Stone: The country has always been run by people who need a lot of work done by other people, and who would like to have that work cost as close to nothing as possible, moral consequences be damned. From this, all things American may be understood.

What makes a good worker under this system — the kind who doesn’t cost much? The kind who won’t, or can’t, demand much in exchange for their own sweat. The kind who will drop dead from doing the same thing every day for 30 years or more with…

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I asked the people of Facebook to give me examples of outlandish medical bills they’ve received. Beware: this is not the kind of question you should ask if you’ve got high blood pressure, or you’ll end up in the hospital yourself. Among the worst charges were:

  • An angiogram: $157,000.00.
  • A single blood transfusion for MS, of which several per year are required: $98,000.00.
  • A three-day hospital stay: $80,000.00.
  • A helicopter ride to a hospital for a child having a seizure: $50,000.00.
  • Giving birth to a child (1.5 day stay, no NICU): $25,000.00.
  • Giving birth to a child (via C-section with…

Photo by the author. You can use it if you want.

My friend Damon (not his real name) has been a prosecutor in a major metropolitan area in the Midwest for more than six years. He’s earnest and conscientious, just like you’d hope a prosecutor would be. He went to a middle-tier law school, comes from a middle-class background, and is the only lawyer in his family. He’s also drowning in student loan debt. In fact, he owes about $60,000 more now than when he started his career.

Damon’s story is one of thousands like it. The common refrains are: “No matter how much I pay, my balance never changes.” “I…

A white supremacist mob lays waste to Wilmington, NC (image from North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

No one told me about Tulsa until I was in my 30s. I suspect I’m not the only one. Most Gen-Xers and older millennials, even those of us who went to college, didn’t have the story of how “Black Wall Street” was razed to the ground by white supremacists in our curricula. I had an advanced degree and a civil rights law practice before I heard about it for the first time.

Now, on its 100th anniversary, the Tulsa Massacre is finally part of our popular national narrative — for now, anyway. That is to say: White folks who happen…

Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash

In an all-but-forgotten story from 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — widely considered the most liberal federal court in America— let cops off the hook for stealing $225,000.00 from two business owners. This wasn’t a criminal case, of course. The idea that cops would face prosecution for stealing cash is practically unheard of. Rather, the court absolved them of all civil liability, meaning they didn’t have to pay the money back. The case was dismissed, never to be heard by a jury, and the officers never faced any meaningful consequences.

Qualified immunity, a judge-made hobgoblin long despised by…

Photo by Janine Joles on Unsplash

I don’t know shit about the Israel-Palestine conflict. I’m just a hilljack who didn’t even finish high school. Like most hilljacks, I don’t have a degree in Middle Eastern studies. and despite being a fairly well-traveled hilljack, I’ve never visited that part of the world. Best I can tell, it’s really, really bad over there. Just like nearly every other conflict in the history of humanity, there are lots of innocent people who are getting fucked over to satiate the egos of a few not-so-innocent-but-powerful people.

But look, I know it’s more complicated than that. A few years ago, I…

Dan Canon

Civil rights lawyer, law professor, and high school dropout. Writes about the Midwest, class struggle, and the untold horrors of the justice system.

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