I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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“Shiny objects have no place in the law.”

While you await my discussion of the McDaniel election contest opinion, I will direct your attention to Anderson’s quotation and discussion of the Tea Party response. The response contains the sentence quoted in the title of this post. While I cannot explain its meaning, I make some notes about the recurrence of warnings about “shiny objects” in various right wing media outlets.

And, as an aside, shiny objects do, in fact, have their place in the law, but they are quite literally shiny objects.  The phrase is a favorite for law enforcement officers who happen upon someone allegedly carrying drugs.  The officers regularly report seeing the suspect discard a “shiny object:”

testified that as he approached the defendant he saw him throw a silver colored object into the weeds about 2 or 3 feet away. Hunt went to the area and picked up a cigarette lighter which he identified at the trial as the lighter he retrieved from the weeds. He searched the area and found no other shiny objects.
State v. Allen, 183 Neb. 831, 832, 164 N.W.2d 662, 663 (1969).  Occasionally the shiny object is a spent cartridge in the grass, and a couple of time it is smuggled emeralds.  Only in one instance (of 49 cases where the phrase crops up in Westlaw) are the shiny objects metaphorical, in a case where the prosecutor in closing warns that the apparent contradictions cited by the defense are just “shiny objects:”
Trying to have shiny objects on the edge that you’ll focus your attention to instead of where it needs to be on what happened.
People v. Ring, 298074, 2011 WL 4104959 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 15, 2011)

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