Article 25

Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

Ask an Unemployed Lawyer

In Uncategorized on 11/27/2013 at 6:46 pm


Courthouse Crap

By U.L.

Dear U.L.:

Do you know (or sleep alongside) Shafter Jinks? He’s suing the Hamilton County Sheriff for refusing to let bums – er, homeless people – sleep on the plaza in front of the courthouse, which they have used as a bedroom and as a public toilet. Does ol’ Shafter really have a case? And don’t you just love that name?

A Local Homeowner

Dear Homeowner:

U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott doesn’t think much of it.

Dlott denied the request for a temporary restraining order the day after the motion was filed: “The court cannot begin to consider whether such arrests would amount to unconstitutional criminalization of homelessness when the very occurrence of those arrests is speculative.”

Meaning, if Shafter Jinks is a name destined to live in legal folklore, he’ll likely have to get arrested first. And even then, I’m not sure about his odds, for reasons I’ll get to.

This or that

The lawsuit asked for two things: One, the temporary restraining order, which Judge Dlott dispatched with due haste. Two, “A declaration that the sheriff’s policy of arresting homeless individuals at the Hamilton County Courthouse and Justice Center violates the First, Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Some call it “Case or Controversy.” Courts don’t really do declarations like that. They prefer you come to them with a specific problem and offer them a solution within the court’s power to order.

Think of our judicial system not as the Wizard of Oz, where magical, idealistic wishes come true. Instead, think of The Godfather, where problems are solved, and you can even get someone whacked if you prove they deserve it.

Fuming feces

I’ll just throw it out there: Could this lawsuit be some evil conspiracy to link “homeless people” with “poop?

You gotta think some policy wonk has looked at the Q scores of homeless people and concluded: Too much consumer sympathy, low ROI, reallocate.

Middle-class folk think, “Hey, I pick up my dog’s poo. My homeowners association would fine me if I didn’t, or even threaten to evict me. Why do the homeless think they have a right to poop anywhere?”

And there goes any sympathy for the homeless, and their paltry holiday donations will now mostly go to “Save the Streetcar.” Because someone envisioned a federal judge champing at the bit to give people a constitutional right to public pooping.

Like me!

A Facebook rabble broke out on the Article 25 page last month, when the editor asked why the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless didn’t allow the homeless to sleep in its three-story building, pointing out that, unlike the courthouse steps, the building has two restrooms.

Like all things Facebook, it quickly turned personal and pointless. But why can’t vendors of Streetvibes use the restrooms in the building of the Homeless Coalition?

Probably for the same reasons places that make food throw it out instead of giving it to hungry people who need it. Why has no one sought an injunction to stop that stupid practice?

Nobody wants to put the homeless in jail. Room, board and a warm place to poo costs taxpayer dollars, with little chance of recouping said dollars from said homeless person. They serve no example, their punishment brings no one joy, their story makes movie audiences sad.

Besides, we need our jails filled with younger men so we can outsource their 20-cents-an-hour labor. Homeless people tend to be feeble and malnourished. They’re just poor investments.

Bidet time

See, here’s what the practice of law is like to me:

I recently attended a continuing legal education class featuring a local court staff repeating mea culpas about how they are understaffed and overburdened and nothing can be done about it. So please try to be nice to people, at least.

Coffee and pastries were served. Meetings were planned.

Never take the advice of an Unemployed Lawyer. Always consult with an attorney for any legal advice in your situation. If, however, you want to ask, write to