Friday, January 18, 2013

Drone Law Scribble

Bob Wenzel over at EPJ provoked me to think about drone law a bit with this posting today:

Here are my edited comments on his post, as a sort of note to myself to expand on the topic a bit when I get the chance.

Airspace and oceans are areas where Lockean-Rothbardian homesteading theory, as useful as it is, does not provide very satisfactory answers to the balance of rights that should be afforded to carriages in transit over or under private property as opposed to the land holders below or above the carriage.  Libertarians of the bleeding heart variety have some useful things to say about spaces that are not owned by anyone in particular, but it would require some research on my part to outline some of the prominent points of left-libertarian public space theory and relate them to the problem at hand.

Regarding flying drones, it seems to me that these should be permitted and legally protected (as property) from attack so long as not creating a nuisance, or posing an unreasonable risk of harm to any property owners below.  Spying on private property may be, at least under some circumstances, a nuisance that deprives the owner of the enjoyment of privacy that owning an expanse of rock or soil might reasonably expected to provide, although the nuances of that need some hashing out.  No distinction should be made between private or government drones.

Because the real estate property owner cannot determine, using present technology, whether or not a drone is spying on property below, real property owners should be permitted to bring down or otherwise disable any overflying drones owned by others, so long as they do not use an unreasonable amount of force in doing so.  Such drones should be protected (i.e., subject to no more than the minimal necessary trespass on chattel required to protect the land holder's rights) and returned to the rightful owners if possible to do so, presuming that the drones are not evidence of a violent crime.  What is "reasonable force" should depend on the circumstances and may change with time as drone-protection technology improves.  The burden of risk for overflying another person's land should belong to the drone operator, not the land holder, based on the principle that the drone operator is the one who decides to overfly the property of another and the land holder has no say in the matter.  One who intentionally and unilaterally initiates an unforced action should bear all the risks of doing so.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Aaron Sandusky Sentenced

Aaron Sandusky was sentenced to 10 years (the mandatory minimum sentence for what he was convicted of) + 5 probation today, for having wronged no one.  He is representing himself on appeal, and greatly in need of and deserving your support. If you believe than this is too harsh a sentence for operating a cannabis dispensary in accordance with state law, visit and donate what you can. 

Also check out, and join if you agree with supporting the "P.O.W.s for a plant."

"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated."  Hebrews 3:13.  While this was written to admonish the early Christians to support those who were imprisoned for spreading their radical new faith, its moral force applies in any circumstance where those pursuing justice by breaking unjust laws are imprisoned.  We who support  the same just causes must not let our imprisoned fellows be forgotten.

The transcript of the sentencing hearing will be published.  I'll be watching for that and post a link when I can.

I attended the hearing this morning.  Sandusky's counsel (Roger Diamond) made various constitutional objections.  Of necessity these were short on precedent, which says more about the immoral state of American constitutional jurisprudence than the merits of the moralities at play.  The sole precedent relied on was "Loving v. Virginia" which invalidated state laws against interracial marriage; in that case, the defendants were given a suspended sentence of  one year and essentially ordered to stay out of Virginia.  Sadly, the US Supreme Court has already found, in "Gonzales v. Raich" that the Federal government can criminalize the growing of cannabis even for personal use.  To me, that is morally akin to banning interracial marriage or requiring all Jews to wear a yellow star, proving that "the law" on this point is morally bankrupt and deserves no respect.  Unfortunately, that plus mandatory minimum sentences also means that Aaron Sandusky will be spending the next ten years in a Federal "correctional" institute; violent felons routinely receive milder sentences.  His best hope at this point may be a repeal of federal prohibition and a presidential pardon.  There is a pardon petition started at:
About 20,000 more signatures are needed by January 16th.

Judge Percy Anderson went on a bit about Sandusky's supposed refusal to "take responsibility" for breaking the law.   Aaron Sandusky always conducted his medical cannabis operation openly and in compliance with state law, so he cannot have meant that Aaron sought to conceal his actions.   Perhaps what the Judge really meant is that Sandusky demanded a trial and has shown no remorse, believing the Federal prohibition against cannabis would not be enforced.  Perhaps to the Judge, losing at trial and refusing to bow down to the idol of "the law" are offenses deserving ten years in prison, never mind the virtue of the underlying actions of which the defendant stands accused.  Judge Anderson also threw in the old saw about drugs being tied to violent gangs, which was not apropos in this case where no violence was even alleged and all the cannabis sold was grown by Aaron Sandusky.  I would not expect the Judge to admit the truth -- that the very prohibition he defends is the cause of virtually all drug-related violence.  He is acting, after all, as the representative of the prison-industrial state, looking out for the welfare of the legions of federal employees whose jobs and pensions depend on maintaining the prohibition in effect.

There were only about 25 supporters of Mr. Sandusky there; the courtroom could have held much more.  Many of those in attendance (perhaps about half) had a personal connection to him.  Many were former clients of his C3 collective, who were generally elderly people with sweet and gentle dispositions.  Cases like these don't come around all that often, but there are a number of other people facing Federal prosecution and imprisonment for supplying cannabis in accordance with state law.  In an area as populous as Southern California, where medical cannabis is widely supported, it was disappointing to see so few people without a personal connection to Aaron Sandusky attend the hearing.  People going to prison for peacefully supplying cannabis need our support, even if it's just quietly attending a hearing.  Remember!