Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Joining the "Community of Chutzpah"

I know that yesterday I wrote that it was too early in the week to be thinking about the Chutzpah of the Week award, but I have to confess that the prospect of bringing imprisoned sex offenders into the community of past award recipients was close to irresistible. This premature presentation of the award is based on today's Police Blotter report by Declan McCullagh for CNET The direct recipients are Rodger Robb and Larry Schultz, both of whom are patients at the Therapeutic Concepts Unit (TCU). This is a site maintained by the state of Minnesota for "people who are committed by courts as a sexual psychopathic personality or a sexual dangerous person." The patients' act of chutzpah consisted in suing TCU for the confiscation of their personal computers on the grounds that it was a violation of "due process rights" (on the basis of his text, these appear to be McCullagh's words, rather than those of the plaintiffs'). The Minnesota judiciary dealt with the case as might be expected:

Robb and Schultz lost before a trial judge, who rejected their request for an injunction and ruled that the duo had "fallen far short" of demonstrating that they would suffer a violation of their rights.

So did a state appeals court, which said last week that administrators enjoy great latitude "to accommodate a growing patient population and provide a safe and secure facility for patients and staff."

Given the role that computers are now playing in sex offenses, one wonders why TCU allowed them in the first place, whatever Robb's protestations, as reported by McCullagh, may have been:

"The point about this computer thing that is so angering to so many people is that they painted with this real broad brush," Robb said, according to "I have never been accused of misusing my computer for anything. I have never misused my computer for anything."

However, it was the fact that this episode was elevated to the level of a law suit that most would regard as frivolous that justifies the act as one of chutzpah. Condi and Paul, meet your new neighbors, Rodger and Larry!

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