How does a 3-year-old in the backseat get his hands on his father’s loaded service weapon and shoot him? The dad, a 10-year LAPD veteran, is in critical condition. There is, according to the newspaper sources, a chance of paralysis. His captain described it as a terrible tragedy.

He patrolled one of the toughest sections of South Los Angeles and reportedly most police officers with those assignments do carry their weapons off duty. Officers are permitted to carry their weapons off duty provided they maintain control of them.

It’s against the law to keep a loaded weapon where a kid can get their hands on it. If they use it, you can be responsible. So the police, it is reported, are also investigating whether any crimes took place. This creates the law school hypothetical of whether you can be responsible for your own shooting, to which the answer seems to be, perhaps.

They are indeed investigating whether any crime was committed. Sources in the paper said there was a threat of paralysis. According to news accounts, the boy wasn’t in a child-safety seat.

Political Shootout

Score one for the independent judiciary in the battle of the branches going on right now in and around the reported shenanigans of one Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana, alleged by federal agents to prefer his dollars foil-wrapped and kept in the freezer.

This is my favorite part. This is the man that brought Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Hastert together. This is the guy who had 90 grand in cash in his freezer at home and the entire leadership, Republican and Democrat, want to block the FBI from searching his office.

The Founding Fathers were concerned, in providing immunity from prosecution for members of Congress in their “speech or debate,” that the tool of criminal punishment or a civil suit not be used against someone for their legislative acts.

Legislative acts, however, have never been considered to include bribery. This is settled law. There might someday be a close case. This has none of the markings of it.

Two of Rep. Jefferson’s associates have already pled guilty to trying to bribe him, including one of his former aides. There is the $90,000 in the frozen-food containers. And if that were not enough, there is the videotape of him taking the $100,000, making jokes about the FBI watching, writing in code; all of it is attested to in the affidavit in support of the search warrant here.

It was more than enough for the federal judge below to conclude that there was probable cause to search Rep. Jefferson’s Congressional office, particularly since, as the judge recounts in rejecting the Congressman’s challenge to the search, there were special filtering procedures in place to assure that any documents that related to legislative business and/or were not relevant were immediately returned to him.

To interpret the clause to prohibit the search altogether, the way the Congressman and his bipartisan supporters wanted, would “have the effect of converting every Congressional office into a taxpayer subsidized sanctuary for crime.”

That according to Thomas Hogan, the federal district judge in Washington who — not by coincidence — also signed the warrant, and if Rep. Jefferson is truly unlucky, will also preside over what is said to be a likely criminal case against him.

It would be laughable if it weren’t true that what it finally takes to get the Democrats and Republicans together is a case like this one.

Why? If you wonder why anyone cares about this clause, take a look at who’s waiting in the wings in Congress, likely to come up next in the string of bribery prosecutions. Did I mention the friends of Jack Abramoff crowd?

I understand why Republicans may want to keep the feds out of their offices right now, but it’s the Democrats that confound me.

They’ve already bounced this particular "distinguished gentleman" from the Ways and Means committee; why not just tell him he’s on his on his own and holding on to the corruption issue and running with it, rather than making fools of themselves arguing a constitutional right to store the recipes for frozen dollars in your office?

Unless they want to protect the general right to hide as well.

Certainly gives that warm and cozy feeling about your government and your elected officials heading into the midterm elections, doesn’t it?

Congressman Jefferson made clear that he plans to appeal. His bipartisan support committee will no doubt be by his side in that effort.

Stay tuned.

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Estrich's books include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System," "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders," "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women" and "Sex & Power," currently a Los Angeles Times bestseller.

She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel.

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Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.

A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership.

Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.