Wednesday, September 23, 2009

U.S. v. Watson (9th Cir. - Sept. 23, 2009)

Scott McKensie used to sing: "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair. If you're going to San Fransciso. . . ." A classic 60s paeon to the City of Love.

But if you're Deandre Watson, all you can do is watch this video. Because you've been banished from San Francisco by Judge Alsup. And, today, the Ninth Ciruict affirms.

It's actually a neat little opinion. You'd have thought that banishment was an old-style -- and unconstitutional -- remedy, at least from a variety of post-nineteenth century cases that have so held. But you'd be wrong. One can reasonably dispute whether Judge Alsup's correct or not; essentially, he's convinced that if Watson goes back to San Francisco, he'll fall in with his old friend/gang and be rearrested. So as a condition of supervised release, he's not allowed to go back there (unless he's got a darn good reason and his probation officer agrees).

So what does that mean for Watson. Well, I guess he could live in Marin. Theoretically, at least. (I smiled when Judge Clifton explained in footnote 2 of the opinion: "Marin is the county immediately north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge." Which is pretty funny to include in an opinion from the Ninth Circuit, especially in a case argued in San Francisco.)

But (much) more likely, Watson ends up in Oakland. Which I'm sure will help him a ton. (Judge Alsup recognized this, but said: "Now, living in Oakland may not be much better, but at least they make new friends. Maybe some of those are law-abiding friends." Yeah. Maybe.)

Judge Alsup ultimately concludes: "I’m going to require that, because I think it’s for his own good. I promise you in the long run, he’s going to be thanking me for this." We'll see. For now, though, Watson's got to keep out of the Big City. But feel free to enjoy any of the other Cities By The Bay.