This Week in WTF, August 21, 2015

– No points for good intentions: You have to admire the man’s sense of responsibility, although its belated nature does make it hard to be too sympathetic with his plight. I am referring, of course, to the man in Abbotsford, British Columbia who jumped into the back of what he thought was a taxi after concluding that he was too drunk to drive himself home (h/t Sean Robichaud).

There were two problems with this plan: (1) he came to the realization that he was too drunk to drive while he was driving; and (2) it was a police cruiser, not a cab.


– To be fair, plush-animal technology has made huge advances in recent years: A 911 caller reported a live tiger on the loose, which turned out to be an extremely lifelike stuffed tiger. Not “stuffed” in a taxidermy sense, but “stuffed” in a normally-snuggly/cuddly sense.

By Monika Wahi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“Oh, sorry, is this your couch? I just needed to rest for a—hey, is that a stuffed antelope? Yum!”

Continue reading


This Week in WTF, January 30, 2015

I have gotten very far behind on this particular blog series, so here is a quick roundup of what I meant to post over the past few months (part 1 of 3).

– Pumpkin Spice?: I really can’t add anything to this story:

Citing a satirical news report – which he appeared to take seriously – [Pastor James David Manning, of the ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem,] said: “Starbucks is a place where these types frequent and a lot of body fluids are exchanged there.

“The thing that I was not aware of is that… what Starbucks was doing, is they were taking specimens of male semen, and they were putting it in the blends of their lattes.

“It’s the absolute truth. They’re using male semen, and putting it into the blends of coffees that they sell.

“My suspicion is that they’re getting their semen from sodomites. Semen flavours up the coffee, and makes you thinks you’re having a good time.”

By Takeaway (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“Hmmm, do I detect a hint of……Jeff……in this latte?”

– Bling Your Baby: Have you been thinking that you wish your baby was a bit more crunk, but you’re (a) white, and (b) an idiot who doesn’t know what “crunk” means? Then you should try this gold grill pacifier: Continue reading


Drinking, Driving, and DAs: The Lehmberg Story Has Gotten Too Interesting for Austin’s Good (UPDATED)


From “Remove Rosemary Lehmberg” on Facebook

The Travis County legal community is choosing sides in the battle over whether our currently-incarcerated district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, should get to keep her job when she gets out of jail in a few weeks. She is currently serving a 45-day sentence for driving while intoxicated, which could be as short as 22-23 days if she manages to stay out of trouble while in there. A Travis County lawyer (also a colleague, law school classmate, and friend) filed a petition to remove her from office, citing a Texas statute allowing removal of a district attorney for intoxication. The County Attorney’s office has now filed suit under that statute to seek Lehmberg’s removal, and a group of Austin attorneys has filed a “Friends of Rosemary” memorandum opposing her removal.

My first thought upon hearing about the memorandum in Lehmberg’s support was a sense that, as a non-practicing but still-licensed attorney, I am somewhat on the sidelines of this debacle. The district attorney is elected by all the voters of Travis County, though, not just the attorneys who vote (even if the attorneys are usually the only ones who closely follow DA and judicial elections.) This affects me and every other individual in this county, even if I will never professionally deal with Lehmberg or her office. I understand the arguments in favor of Lehmberg remaining in office. Considering all of the factors at play, I’m not entirely happy to say this, but I agree that she should go. I think it would be better for her to resign, but the chess pieces are in place now, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

To be clear, I have one reason for this position: public safety. I do not care if the district attorney was drinking alcohol per se. I do not care what a public servant does in their private time, except when it directly threatens the safety of others. Driving while (apparently, very) intoxicated is a direct threat to public safety. The end (of my position statement.)

Here is a bit of a play-by-play of what has happened so far.


According to a police affidavit, as reported by KXAN, a 911 call at about 10:45 p.m. on Friday, April 12, 2013 reported that a Lexus had been driving in the bike lane and weaving for about a mile on southbound FM 620 in west Austin. Police arrested the driver, DA Rosemary Lehmberg. Her behavior at the police station is sure to be the stuff of legend (the affidavit reportedly described her as “both polite and excited, insulting and cocky.”) (Also, restraints were involved.) She was released on a personal bond at about 7:30 that Saturday morning. Continue reading


Beware the Vampire Cops


“Good evening, Officer The Impaler. May I call you Vlad?”

Police may soon have the authority to draw blood from you, even without your consent or a warrant, if they suspect you of driving while intoxicated. That was the argument, in its most basic form, put forth by the state of Missouri to the U.S. Supreme Court this week in Missouri v. McNeely, No. 11-1425.

The case involves a man pulled over for an alleged traffic offense, then arrested for suspected DWI when the officer noticed the “tell-tale signs” of drunkenness and the smell of booze. The man refused both breath and blood tests after reportedly flunking the field-sobriety test. The officer, who claimed in court that he read an article saying cops no longer needed warrants to draw blood (I did not make that up. Missouri v. McNeely, 358 S.W.3d 65, 68 (Mo. 2012) (“He testified that the article asserted officers no longer needed to obtain a warrant before requiring DWI suspects to submit to nonconsensual blood tests…”)), drove the man to a hospital and instructed a phlebotomist to draw blood. The blood test revealed a blood alcohol content of…….actually, we don’t need to know what it revealed, because Mr. McNeely moved the trial court to suppress the blood test results as a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, and the court did so.

Without the blood evidence, the prosecution had no case. Unlike Law and Order, where they start shaking down other witnesses until they can make a case again, the prosecutors here appealed the order to the Missouri Supreme Court, which also said no. The court cited the U.S. Supreme Court in Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966), which carved out a narrow exception in the case of a drunk-driving suspect who was injured in a car accident. Because of the time required to transport the guy to the hospital, along with the limited amount of time alcohol stayed in the body, the police in that case were justified in drawing blood without a warrant because (a) time was of the essence, and (b) the guy was already in a hospital bed.

Missouri prosecutors, with the federal government’s support, have now taken this to the high court. They are essentially asking the court to apply the holding of Schmerber to any DWI investigation. In other words, they claim that the fact that the human body metabolizes alcohol, by itself, should constitute exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless blood test. A blood test, by the way, that involves sticking a hypodermic needle into a vein in your arm and drawing a vial of precious bodily fluids.

I happen to personally think that people who drive while intoxicated need a severe ass beating. I have physically obstructed people I knew to be drunk from going anywhere near their vehicles, and I have hidden keys from people. I have never sucker-punched a drunk person to distract them from trying to get to their car, but I have certainly considered doing so (the person in question, even eight sheets to the wind, would have kicked my ass.)

That said, I find the precedent of allowing cops to collect blood without a warrant, regardless of the circumstances, very troubling. I already think that “no refusal” weekends (which are actually no different from any other weekend) are bumping up against constitutional limits.

At any rate, don’t drive drunk. If you do, I might work up the nerve to sucker-punch you.

Photo credit: by Curious Expeditions on Flickr.