Monica Still Yacking, WaPo Still Spinning

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Kent wrote this post about how the Washington Post (WaPo) published a blatantly biased story about this week's Gallup poll  --  the one that shows continuing overwhelming public support for the death penalty.

I was peaceably eating lunch today when I saw this WaPo story about how Monica Lewinsky was "mistreated" by the FBI when they first interviewed her. The story starts:

When onetime White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky broke her silence with a major speech this week, one subject brought her nearly to tears.

Lewinsky's voice cracked as she recalled the moment in January 1998 when she was first confronted by FBI agents and lawyers working for Kenneth W. Starr's Office of Independent Counsel, who threatened her and her mother with criminal prosecution if she did not agree to wear a wire against President Bill Clinton.

Lewinsky, now 41, has long felt that she was mistreated by authorities in the 12-hour marathon session, which began as an ambush at the food court at the Pentagon City mall and then moved to a hotel room at the mall's adjoining Ritz-Carlton hotel.


Sounds  pretty bad, right?  I mean, this behavior has to be a gross violation of Ms. Lewinsky's constitutional rights.


Well, ummmmm.......

Scratch One From the AG Short List

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Carol Lee reports in the WSJ:

Former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler has withdrawn her name from consideration as President Barack Obama 's nominee for attorney general, a White House official said Friday.

Mr. Obama had asked Ms. Ruemmler to consider succeeding Eric Holder, who announced last month he would step down as attorney general when a replacement is confirmed. But Ms. Ruemmler, who was at the center of every legal decision made by the White House in Mr. Obama's second term, concluded her closeness with the president would make Senate confirmation difficult and create a bitter partisan fight, the White House official said.

Ms. Ruemmler spoke directly with Mr. Obama on Wednesday to inform him of her decision, after speaking earlier in the week with senior White House officials about her concerns, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Mr. Obama is expected to name a nominee after the Nov. 4 election.

Other potential picks for the attorney general post include Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Of course, if the President actually wants a "bitter partisan fight," he can nominate Perez.  I don't know why he would, but why else is he waiting until after the election?

Wouldn't it be a nice boost to Democratic candidates in close Senate races if the President nominated a solid, accomplished person, highly respected across the board in the law enforcement community?  Sure, the candidates could stand up proudly before the swing voters and say "yes, that's the kind of nominee I will gladly support."  If that were the kind of person he wanted to nominate, he would have done so already.

News Scan

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Convicted Sex Offender Accused of Rape: Authorities in Texas have arrested a convicted sex offender who is accused of raping two young girls and infecting them with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.  Mike Glenn of the Houston Chronicle reports that 33-year-old David Wilson is believed to have sexually assaulted his niece, who was just under 2-years-old at the time, and his ex-girlfriend's 14-year-old daughter.  Wilson was sentenced to four years in prison in 2004 after being found guilty of sexually assaulting another 14-year-old girl, he is currently being held in county jail without bond.

Parolee Charged in Cold Case Killing: An Illinois parolee with a lengthy criminal past has been charged with first-degree murder for a 2002 cold case killing.  Fox Chicago reports that 40-year-old Steven Podkulski was paroled on Wednesday after serving just five years of a 10-year sentence for a burglary conviction, police arrested him for the murder immediately after he was released from custody.  Podkulski is currently in county jail facing one count of first-degree murder and is being held on a $3 million bond.

Convicted Felon Shoots at CA Police Officer: A California man is behind bars and facing a possible life sentence after shooting at a police officer earlier this week.  Andrea Castillo of the Fresno Bee reports that 34-year-old Patrick Hall, who already has two prior felony 'strikes' against him, fired his gun while the officer held onto the barrel during an arrest attempt, the officer was taken to the hospital and is recovering after sustaining a severe burn to the palm of his hand.  If convicted, this will be Hall's third felony strike and he will face a possible life sentence.

FedSoc Event on Prop. 47

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The Federalist Society has a debate Monday evening in San Francisco on the "defining criminality down" ballot measure, Proposition 47.  SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi will speak for the measure, and San Mateo DA Steve Wagstaffe will speak against it.  Announcement is here.

More on the Gallup Death Penalty Poll

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Yesterday we noted on this blog that the Gallup Poll found little change in Americans' views on the death penalty.  Well, "little change" isn't news.  It's dog bites man.  So Mark Berman in the WaPo has this story emphasizing the supposedly "botched" executions, plural, in the last year, and implying a sense of wonderment that this didn't change anything.  (Only one actually qualifies as "botched," IMHO.)

Well, why should it?  Do we change our views on any major issue because of isolated problems?  Do air bag recalls make us stop driving cars?  The problems with lethal injection are, for the most part, caused by the opponents of capital punishment, and our response should be to fix the problems, not to abandon a punishment that the vast majority of the American people believe to be the fundamentally right one for the worst murders.

Far worse than this, though, is a link at the bottom of the page, which takes the reader to a May 1 article titled "Everything you need to know about executions in the United States."  I hadn't seen this before.  Turns out that "everything" is the anti-death-penalty crowd's talking points straight down the line.  One misleading half-truth after another. Seriously, if anti-DP propagandist Richard Dieter had written this article himself, this is pretty much how he would write it.  Dieter is quoted twice in the article, without identifying him as an advocate for one side.  Ditto Denno.

It is disappointing to see such shamelessly one-sided coverage in the WaPo, which has generally been more balanced than certain other major newspapers.

Debating the Death Penalty

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Kent noted that it's next to impossible to change someone's mind about the death penalty, because the most basic and controlling views are dug deeper than the place argument can reach.

I've had much that same experience.  In all the time I've been thinking about this issue, I have changed only two minds.  One belonged to my mother-in-law, a pretty much down the line liberal, but with an independent streak (she ran away from home as a teenager to join the Israeli army in its earliest days.  She was an ambulance driver on the battlefield).

She held the conventional wisdom in Upper East Side Manhattan, where she lived. We got to talking one day about capital punishment, and I brought up the question what we're supposed to do with a previously convicted, angry and unrepentant multiple killer serving LWOP, who then does it again in prison, and vows this won't be his last.

That stumped her.  (She's not the only one, of course).  So she came around.

She was very into Jewish causes (the Holocaust Museum among them).  I'm sure she knew that Israel had kidnapped and executed Adolph Eichmann, and thought that was the right thing to do.  I believe that set the stage for her having the sort of open mind that, while rare, is the essential precondition for coming around. 
Earlier today, I noted Gallup's most recent poll on people's attitudes on the death penalty.  That post was updated later with some further data.

Structured questions in polls can give useful numbers, but open-ended questions can tell us some interesting things also.  Art Swift of Gallup reported separately on an open-ended question that asked people for the reason behind their position on the main question.
I was intending to make my next entry about the danger our country faces from the kind of murderous episode we saw yesterday in Ottawa, when this comic relief piece in the ABA Law Journal caught me eye.  The title is, "Judge Accused of Courthouse Sex Was 'Seduced and Taken Advantage Of,' Her Lawyer Says." It states (emphasis added):

A West Virginia judge accused of a sexual relationship with a community corrections director was "seduced and taken advantage of," her lawyer argued in her ethics case before the state supreme court.

***************************************

[Jaymie] Wilfong, a Randolph County circuit judge, had a two-year romantic relationship with North Central Community Corrections Director William Travis Carter that included in-chambers trysts between court proceedings...

Deitzler [her defense attorney at ethics proceedings] told the state supreme court there were only two instances of sexual conduct at the courthouse, and the affair didn't affect the judge's impartiality. He also said the judge was seduced.

"I'm not using it as an excuse," Deitzler said. "The perception unquestionably is she was seduced and taken advantage of."

You have to love the, er, creativity of an attorney who says, "I'm not using it as an excuse," and then, a full ten words later, says she was "taken advantage of."

News Scan

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Teen Convicted in Brutal Double-Murder: A Colorado teen convicted of murdering a soldier and his pregnant wife has been sentenced to two back-to-back life sentences.  KRDO News reports that Mayco January, who was 17-years-old at the time of the murders, killed the couple after they walked in on him burglarizing their home.  January will be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 80 years behind bars.  Under Colorado law, January was not subject to a third murder charge for killing the unborn child.

Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty for Accused Killer: Prosecutors in Kentucky have announced plans to seek the death penalty for a man accused in a brutal kidnapping and murder.  WLKY News reports that 24-year-old Octavio Correa and a female companion kidnapped a man from his home earlier this year, shot him in the head, and left his body in the trunk of his car.  Co-defendant Tiffany Hodges is also in custody for the murder, but prosecutors have yet to announce whether they will pursue a possible death sentence for her as well.   

Convicted Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison Plus 202 Years: A Michigan man has been sentenced to life in prison plus an additional 202 years after being found guilty of raping three women and killing a fourth woman who tried to intervene.  Heidi Fenton of M Live reports that Duncan Willis broke into the home of one of the victim's under the false assumption that she had called Child Protective Services on him earlier that week. Willis proceeded to rape that woman along with two others over a 10-hour period until a fourth woman showed up and intervened.  The judge presiding over the case called this crime the 'most heinous cowardly act' he had ever heard of, and commented that the sentence handed down would ensure that Willis would remain behind bars for the rest of his life. 

Michael Brown Autopsy Report

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Christine Byers reports for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The official autopsy on Michael Brown shows that he was shot in the hand at close range, according to an analysis of the findings by two experts not involved directly in the case.
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Gallup has this report by Jeffrey Jones, with the above headline, on its last poll on the death penalty.

On the standard question, asked since the 30s and best used for trends over time, support is 63%, about where it's been for the last decade.  There is a strong difference by political party, but even among Democrats, the "yes" vote is a plurality, just shy of a majority.

On the very badly worded question that effectively asks people to specify a single punishment for all murders regardless of degree or circumstances, respondents chose the death penalty over life without parole by 50-45.  This is up in the last few years.  The LWOP choice was briefly a tick ahead, 48-47, in 2006.

The actual public policy question to be decided -- what punishment to impose on the very worst murderers -- was once again not asked.

My criticisms of poll wording on this topic are noted in this post last February.

Update:  Not mentioned in the report linked above, but found in the linked data report, is a better question, "In your opinion, is the death penalty imposed -- [ROTATED: too often, about the right amount, or not often enough]?"  This question is better because, unlike the other two, it at least partially addresses the fact that were are talking about a (small) subset of murders, not all murders.  The result is 40% Not Enough, 28% About Right, 24% Too Often, and 9% No Opinion. 

Support for capital punishment in its present scope or tougher is the sum of Not Enough and About Right, which comes to 68%.  That's down somewhat from the historical average ("only" 2/3, rather than 3/4), but it still swamps the Too Often vote by well over 2-to-1.
Kimberly Kindy and Sari Horwitz have this article in the WaPo with the above headline:

Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown fought for control of the officer's gun, and Wilson fatally shot the unarmed teenager after he moved toward the officer as they faced off in the street, according to interviews, news accounts and the full report of the St. Louis County autopsy of Brown's body.

Because Wilson is white and Brown was black, the case has ignited intense debate over how police interact with African American men. But more than a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses have provided testimony to a St. Louis County grand jury that largely supports Wilson's account of events of Aug. 9, according to several people familiar with the investigation who spoke with The Washington Post.

News Scan

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Cop Killer Sentenced to Life Without Parole: A California man convicted of killing a police officer nearly a decade ago has been re-sentenced to life without parole (LWOP).  Gary Peterson of the Contra Costa Times reports that this is the third time in six years that Andrew Moffett has been sentenced to LWOP  for the killing, which he committed when he was a few days shy of his 18th birthday.  The state Supreme Court ordered the re-sentencing earlier this year after modifying the interpretation of the state's sentencing law for under-18 murderers and then upholding the law, as modified, as consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama.  CJLF filed a brief in the case on behalf of Officer Lasater's family.

Rapist to Spend Over 100 Years Behind Bars: An Arizona man convicted of nearly a dozen sexual assaults has been sentenced to more than 113 years in prison.  The Associated Press reports that 23-year-old Gregory Woody Jr. was found guilty of multiple felonies including aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping.  Police say he raped, beat, and choked two women last year, and DNA was finally able to link him to the crimes.

Supreme Court to Hear CA Death Penalty Case: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear California's appeal of the decades-old death sentence given Hector Ayala for the murders of three people in 1985.  Deb Welsh of KPBS reports that Ayala's original death sentence was vacated after a the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals court ruled that he was denied a fair trial. California has not carried out an execution since 2006 and currently has 745 inmates on death row.   Oral argument in the case will be held this winter.

Modifying Opinions

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Nobody is perfect, and even the nation's highest courts sometimes make mistakes in their opinions.  When the California Supreme Court makes a mistake and needs to modify an opinion, it issues a modification order like this.

Not so at the U.S. Supreme Court.  Opinions come out in four forms.  There is the bench opinion used to announce the decision live in court.  That one has a shorter life span than a fruit fly.  Almost immediately we get the slip opinion.  That one is posted on the Court's website, and it is the one we link to on this blog for same-day commentary. 

After the slip opinion, unofficial versions are printed by the West Publishing Company (S.Ct.) and Lexis Law Publishing (L.Ed.2d), but the Court is not involved in these.

The slip opinion remains the official opinion until publication of the preliminary print, currently running about four years after the opinion date.  Why so long?  Beats me.  After another year or so we get the bound volume, which will be the final, official word on the shelf of the law library forevermore.  The BVs are also available in PDF form on Court's website, with the caveat that the dead-tree version and not the digital one is official, if there is any difference.

Sometimes there are changes between these versions, but there is generally not a public announcement.  Adam Liptak reports at the NYT:

Earth to Academia Re: Jones Certiorari Denial

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The defense bar is hopping mad about the denial of cert in the Jones case.  There, the Court declined to hear a challenge to the use of acquitted conduct in fashioning the sentence.  Kent discussed it here, and I did here.

There has been a good deal of fussing about it, as you might expect.  There have also been guesses galore about why the Court denied review.  The most remarkable I have seen is this one by University of Illinois law Professor Margareth Etienne (quoted in the National Journal):

Etienne speculated that some justices may have felt the facts of the Jones case were "too good" to be a vehicle for making a broad pronouncement on the issue. She explained that Jones involved a judge ignoring an actual acquittal by a jury, whereas a more common scenario is a judge basing an enhanced sentence on conduct that may or may not have been charged or was not part of a plea agreement. Ruling on a case involving an actual acquittal might leave the broader issue unresolved.

With all respect to Prof. Etienne, a Yale Law graduate, her analysis is wildly and transparently incorrect.

News Scan

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Delaware Sets Execution Date for Murderer: A Delaware man convicted of raping and murdering a college student in 2005 is set to be executed for his crime December 4, 2014.  The Associated Press reports that 43-year-old James Cooke had his original conviction overturned in 2007 due to an error made by his public defender, he was then re-tried, convicted and sentenced to death again in 2012.  Cooke's most recent appeal to the state Supreme Court was denied in July 2014.

Teen Sentenced to Life in Prison: A Florida teen convicted of killing a security guard at an apartment complex in 2012 has been sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole.  WFTV News reports that Terrance Anthony was 16-years-old when he shot and killed the security officer.  Police reported that the victim had previously confronted Anthony because the teen did not live at the complex.  Anthony will be eligible for parole after his case is reviewed by a judge in 25 years.    

Murderer Challenges Prison Porn Ban: A Connecticut man convicted of murder and sentenced to more than 50 years behind bars is suing the state for his right to look at pornography in prison.  Pat Eaton-Robb of the Associated Press reports that 44-year-old Dwight Pink Jr. claims that the porn ban violates his constitutional rights, and that guards are using it as a way to deny him access to an art book that uses nude models to teach readers how to 'draw the human form.' The state maintains that Pink has not been harmed by the ban and that none of his rights have been violated.

Eric Holder's Biggest Regret

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Attorney General Holder was asked in a CNN interview what his biggest regret was looking back at his tenure in office.  John Hinderaker has this take on it:

Holder was asked by the interviewer, what was your biggest failure as Attorney General? He had so many to choose from! Politicizing the Justice Department, Fast and Furious, stonewalling the House of Representatives, allowing the legalization of marijuana contrary to federal law, failure to enforce the immigration laws, and lots more. But naturally, Holder didn't mention any of those failures.

Mr. Holder's answer was that his biggest regret was the failure to pass gun control (which he calls "gun safety") legislation.

The answer is incoherent on four levels.  First, someone should tell him the Justice Department doesn't pass legislation.  Second, if it did, further restrictions on civil rights (specifically Second Amendment rights) would be a poor idea.  Third, if such legislation were so desirable, it could have been passed (by Congress, that is) when Mr. Holder's party held super-majorities during his first two years in office. Fourth, the failure to secure gun legislation is nowhere near his biggest failure.

Other than that...............................

School Discipline and Criminal Law

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Gary Fields and John Emshwiller have this article in the WSJ on the overuse of police arrest and the juvenile justice system to deal with misbehavior that should be addressed with school discipline.

This article makes some very valid points, but it is disappointing in its failure to fully explore why the use of traditional school discipline has declined, and at one point it goes completely off the rails:

In recent decades, a new philosophy in law enforcement had been applied to schools. It was "deal with the small stuff so they won't go to the big stuff, and also it sent a strong message of deterrence," said James Alan Fox, the Lipman Professor of criminology at Boston's Northeastern University.

The zero-tolerance approach started as part of the 1994 Gun-Free Schools Act, Mr. Fox said, but it expanded to other weapons, then to drug contraband and "finally into ordinary violations of school rules, disrespect, skipping. It eventually became an across the board response to discipline."
Fox is seriously trying to equate "broken windows policing" with "zero tolerance" nonsense?  The two are nearly diametric opposites.

But the primary emphasis here should be understanding why traditional school discipline has declined and fixing it.  School administrators just don't want to punish misbehaving kids like they used to.  When they do punish, their instrument of choice is suspension, exactly the wrong thing to do with a kid who doesn't want to be in school anyway.  Suspension has gotten so absurd that some schools suspend kindergarteners.  What are these people thinking?

Ferguson, from Tragedy to Farce

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Rich Lowry of National Review Online takes a look at Ferguson, Mo., as that unfortunate town becomes a staging ground for increasingly exotic protests. Here's a sample:


It wasn't so long ago that Ferguson, Mo., was supposed to be an American morality tale of racism, the militarization of police, and all manner of other evil. For a few weeks in August, the attention of the national media focused on the suburb of St. Louis, and MSNBC practically broadcast nothing else. President Barack Obama even mentioned Ferguson at a U.N. speech in the context of terror groups that behead people and sectarian conflicts that kill hundreds of thousands of people.

While the media long ago moved on, the protests have persisted, entering their late, decadent phase of self-indulgent triviality. Cornel West got arrested last week, and Al Sharpton is heading back to Ferguson at the end of the month to pump up attention for what styles itself a movement, although it is more tinny by the day.

**************************************

In nearby St. Louis [recently], an off-duty cop working as a private security guard shot to death a teen who had fired at him with a Ruger 9mm. It turned out the gun had been stolen two weeks earlier, and the teen, monitored with an ankle bracelet, had been awaiting trial on a felony concealed-weapon charge. This event was nonetheless filtered through the lens of Ferguson. Protesters took the streets to demonstrate against what would strike most people as a legitimate act of self-defense, chanting the inapt "Hands up, don't shoot!"


Ten Questions for the Next Attorney General

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Roll Call is slightly to the left for my tastes, but it has a short, intelligent and spot-on article today listing ten questions the Senate is likely to ask the next nominee for Attorney General.

CJLF Newsletter

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For readers interested in following CJLF's work, the present and previous editions of our quarterly (more or less) newsletter, the Advisory, are available online.  Links are maintained in the Publications section of our main web site.

Hard copies of the Advisory are mailed to all CJLF contributors upon publication.

News Scan

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Accused Murderer Faces Death Penalty in Two States: An Illinois man who sparked a two-state manhunt last month will now face death penalty trials in both Ohio and Kentucky for his crimes.  Jill Drury of WDTN News reports that 41-year-old Terry Froman is accused of murdering a teenager in Kentucky and then kidnapping the boy's mother and driving her to Ohio, where he shot and killed her as well.  Froman will face murder charges in Kentucky first, then face kidnapping and murder charges in Ohio, he is being held on $1 million bond.

Convicted Sex Offender Identified as Murder Suspect: An Indiana man is behind bars and facing murder charges after confessing to killing at least seven women.  CBS Chicago reports that 43-year-old Darren Vann, who is a registered sex offender in Texas, allegedly told police that the murders date back to as many as 20 years ago, and so far, all of his victims appear to be women.  Vann claims to have victims in other states as well, but is only choosing to discuss his Indiana victims because the state has the death penalty and he wants to be executed for his crimes.

Parole Denied for Convicted Cop Killer: One of the men convicted of murdering a Massachusetts police chief will remain behind bars after being denied parole for the second time since being convicted two decades ago.  Scott J. Croteau of The Telegram reports that 42-year-old Kenneth B. Padgett, along with two co-defendants, were breaking into homes and stole a vehicle on the morning of February 1, 1994, when the officer pursued them one of the men fired several rounds piercing his lung and heart, leaving him for dead.  Since being incarcerated, Croteau has had several disciplinary issues and involved himself in a white supremacist gang.  His next parole hearing will be in a few years.
We often hear that non-violent offenses, of which white collar offenses are a significant part, should seldom or never earn jail time.

I have previously argued that non-violent offenses can be terribly harmful and often merit imprisonment.  Swindling an elderly couple out of their life savings or selling heroin to a teenage addict are among numerous examples.

Today, I saw a story in the ABA Journal about a white collar offense  -- insurance fraud  --  in which the defendant had additional things in mind to see to it that he'd become one of the "exonerated":

Already facing a 50-count indictment, a jailed defendant in a California insurance fraud prosecution is now facing 10 new charges concerning nine witnesses he is accused of targeting for murder in the Contra Costa County case.

District Attorney Mark Peterson said a witness "hit list" found by investigators not only lists the nine witnesses allegedly targeted by Charles Waldo, 37, but specifies the order in which they were to be killed and the methods by which they were to be slain, the Bay Area News Group and KTVU report.

The methods included fatal drug overdoses and staged car accidents, as well as slayings during robberies "gone bad," the DA said.

The Journal story noted that the articles don't include any comment from the defendant or his counsel.  I have no trouble believing that.

Looks like criminal law and law enforcement are going to be a bigger part of this Term of the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Court's Monday orders list took up for full briefing and argument three criminal and related cases:

Chappell v. Ayala, No. 13-1428, the Ninth Circuit decided in favor of California death row inmate Hector Ayala.   The case involves the interaction between harmless error analysis and the deference owed to state court decisions when an inmate takes his rejected claims to the federal courts on habeas corpus.  If I'm not mistaken, the Ninth Circuit's batting average in California capital cases, once certiorari is granted, is .000.

Los Angeles v. Patel, No. 13-1175:  Does a hotel have a privacy interest in its guest register, so that police cannot inspect it at will even though a local ordinance says they can?  There are a lot of heavily regulated industries that have such requirements.  The government can go through an auto wrecking yard checking the VINs for stolen vehicles, for example.  No warrant or particularized basis of suspicion required.  How about hotels?

Henderson v. United States, No. 13-1487:  What to do with a defendant's guns when, as a result of his conviction, he can no longer legally possess them?
Question:  When can a judge ethically be an advocate for a party in his court?

Answer:  Pick one  --  (a) never; or (b) when the party is a violent criminal serving the sentence he earned.

Until Saturday, I didn't know anyone who would pick (b) over (a).

On that day, however, I learned that it might be OK for a judge to be an advocate for a party, at least in a case where he has "a strong vision of legal justice and then acts in service to that vision."

That's the answer I believe is suggested by Prof. Doug Berman, a distinguished lawyer and law professor who sees things from the defense perspective.

I respectfully dissent.  It is precisely when the judge feels most strongly that he must be most disciplined.  The credibility of the judicial branch, and indispensable public confidence in its neutrality, require nothing less.  The notion that the judge can be an advocate for one side is toxic to the core idea of what it means to be a judge at all.
Last year, the Legion of Whiners was in good form, trying to intimidate speech not conforming to their views.  Indeed, they marched beyond the typical snarling reception given conservative speakers, and filed a formal complaint against Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit for her talk at a Federalist Society function at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  The gist of the complaint, as reported below, was that the Judge's remarks were  --  ready now?  --  racist, and inappropriately favorable to the death penalty.

The complaint was widely reported, see, e.g., this NYT story and this one from CBS.  It was also reported on legal blogs, see, e.g.,  this entry.

The complaint was referred by Chief Justice Roberts to the DC Circuit.  After a lengthy and thorough investigation, the Court rejected the complaint in its entirety, with no dissent.  Its order is here.  Hat tip to Judge Richard Kopf on his blog Hercules and the Umpire.

I have been writing recently about left wing attempts to silence dissenting conservatives, basically by false and disgusting accusations.  The Jones complaint was of a piece with this New McCarthyism.........as is the relative silence about its dismissal.

Congratulations to Judge Jones.  May she serve many more years on the bench, and continue to defy the Politically Correct Brownshirts who would silence her.


SCOTUS Denies Stay of Texas Voter ID

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Consistently with its recent pattern of not making major election changes close to the election, noted here, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the application to lift the Fifth Circuit's stay of an injunction against that state's voter ID law.  In other words, the ID law will be in effect for the coming election.

The vote was apparently 6-3, with Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissenting.

The Legalization Lobby Parodies Itself

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Those preferring to see more widespread use of pot are, naturally, for legalizing it, thus removing one of the barriers to broad consumption.

In the course of their campaign (upon which CJLF takes no position), they have claimed that pot affirmatively makes you healthier.  Indeed, it's something of a wonder drug!

Thus I guess this was bound to happen, but I still feel like I should pass it along:  "Smoking Marijuana Can Protect You From Ebola."

I swear I am not making this up.
President Obama yesterday named DC lawyer Ron Klain as the Ebola "czar."  I know Mr. Klain only very slightly, from when I was moving out of the White House at the end of the GHWB administration and he was helping the Clinton administration move in.  I found him intelligent, thoroughly pleasant and a gentleman.  Our contacts were slight and fleeting, and I haven't seen him in more than 20 years. 

The WSJ has an editorial today about the Klain appointment.  Its title is, "Ebola Political Contagion," and it begins:

President Obama bowed to the growing Ebola political furor on Friday and named a so-called Ebola czar, though maybe the better label is apparatchik. His man isn't a military general, despite the troops in West Africa, or even someone with so much as nominal expertise in disasters or infectious disease. He's the political operative Ron Klain.

The Attorney General has directed that appeal waivers in plea agreements should no longer require that defendants waive the right to raise ineffective assistance of counsel claims.  The story is covered here on SL&P, and the Deputy Attorney General's memo is here

As the SL&P entry notes (in the comments section), I am the inventor of appeal waivers.  I litigated their validity for the first time in federal court in US v. Wiggins, 905 F.2d 51 (1990).  That case, and all subsequent cases on the question in the courts of appeals, upheld the waiver.  Probably because the resolution is so obvious, and the appellate courts unanimous, the Supreme Court has never addressed the issue.  I will bet $1,000 here and now on the outcome if it ever does.

The reason the issue is obvious, as explained by Judge Wilkinson in the Fourth Circuit's seminal opinion, is easy to summarize:  If a defendant can waive his constitutional right to a trial, something that has been established forever, he can waive his mere statutory right to an appeal.

DOJ's new modification makes little difference, to the small extent there has been a modification at all.  Accordingly, it's not causing me a lot of heartburn.


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