The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


??? + Zoolander

"I feel like I am taking crazy pills."


From yesterday's dissenting opinion by Ninth Circuit Judge N.R. Smith in U.S. v. Begay:

MURDER in the second-degree is NOT a crime of violence??? Yet attempted first-degree murder, battery, assault, exhibiting a firearm, criminal threats (even attempted criminal threats), and mailing threatening communications are crimes of violence. How can this be? "I feel like I am taking crazy pills" [quoting Zoolander].

The underlying legal question—what qualifies as a "crime of violence" for purposes of the federal statute banning discharging a firearm during a "crime of violence"—is complicated (needlessly so, some say), because of the Supreme Court precedent on the subject; if you're interested, read the majority and dissenting opinions. Here I just wanted to pass along the dissent, which James Klugman (who alerted me to the opinion) speculates might be the first occurrence of "???" in a circuit court opinion. Regrettably, Westlaw and Lexis can't search for punctuation like that, so I can't confirm or deny that speculation ….