News Scan

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Court Rejects Iowa Murderer's Appeal:  An Iowa appeals court has denied a life-sentenced murderer's claim that his re sentencing to comply with the Supreme Court's 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama remains unconstitutionally harsh.  Mark Mahoney of NWest Iowa reports that John Mulder had been sentenced to LWOP for the 1976 murder of a 55-year-old woman in her bed.  Mulder, who was 14 at the time, used a stolen rifle to shoot Jean Homan as she was sleeping next to her husband.  Following the high court's ruling in Miller, a new sentencing hearing was held to provide individualized consideration of his age when determining his sentence.  After the judge re-sentenced Mulder to life in prison with parole eligibility after 42 years, Mulder appealed arguing that the sentence still violated the state's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  The Iowa Court of Appeals rejected this claim.   

Primary Notes

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A couple of congressional primary elections were held yesterday.

Alabama held a primary to fill the remaining two years of Jeff Sessions' Senate term.  Senator and former AG Luther Strange, appointed to fill the seat until the election, finished second with 32.8% of the vote.  Former Chief Justice Roy "We Don't Need No Stinking Establishment Clause" Moore finished first with 38.9%.  Alabama has runoffs for primaries, so they will go "heads up" on September 26.

How will the voters who voted for other candidates divide in the runoff, if they show up at all?  I'm inclined to think they will break for Senator Strange in a large enough proportion to make up for his 6-point lag.  I hope so.  We don't need any more loose cannons in the Senate.  The general election is December 12.  The Dems have chosen former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones as their candidate.

Utah held a primary in the race to fill the vacant seat of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz.  Provo Mayor John Curtis won the Republican nomination with 42% of the vote.  No runoffs in Utah.  Mayor Curtis was regarded as the more moderate candidate.  The district is overwhelmingly Republican, so the November general election is likely to be a blowout.

News Scan

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MS-13 Bust in Ohio & Indiana:  On Tuesday, Federal agents arrested ten members of the "Columbus Clique,"  a branch of the brutal MS-13 gang.  Travis Fedschun of Fox News reports that three other members of the gang were arrested in Indiana and agents are looking for two others.  All of the suspects have been indicted for extortion, money laundering and illegal firearms charges.  The Justice Department estimates that there are 10,000 MS-13 members spread across 40 states, engaging in extortion of immigrant businesses, sex trafficking, and the machete and baseball-bat murders of teens, children and pregnant woman.  The President has tasked federal law enforcement with taking down the Salvadorian-based gang. 

ABA: Allow Illegals to Practice Law:   The American Bar Association House of Delegates passed a resolution Monday directing Congress to allow "undocumented" immigrants to practice law in the U.S.  Alberto Luperon of LawNewz reports that the resolution seeks to amend 8 U.S.C. 5 § 1621(d) to read: a state court vested with exclusive authority to regulate admission to the bar may, by rule, or other affirmation act, permit an undocumented alien seeking legal status to obtain a professional license to practice law in that jurisdiction.  California, Florida and New York have allowed illegals to represent clients before their courts.
Teen Drug Overdoses Spiking:  A report by the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that, for the first time in seven years, the drug overdose rate for U.S. teens is rising, increasing by nearly 20% in 2015.  Jessica Glenza of the Guardian reports that the same report found that the overdose rate from synthetic opioids for all Americans has increased six-fold since 2002, with fatal heroin overdoses tripling over the same period.  Among teens the increase in overdoses is highest for girls.  While the abuse of prescription drugs is also a serious national problem, most fentanyl and heroin is sold by drug dealers (undocumented pharmacists).  In August 2014, the drug dealer who sold heroin to fatally overdosed actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman cut a plea deal reducing his possible 25-year prison sentence, to 25 days in rehab and 5 years probation.     

Is the ABA a Shill for the Defense Bar?

Read this and decide for yourself.  It starts off (emphasis added):

The ABA House of Delegates on Tuesday approved a late-offered resolution backing a ban on mandatory minimum sentences, while sponsors withdrew another late sentencing resolution after hearing from the U.S. Justice Department.

Delegates approved Resolution 10B, which opposes the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences in any criminal case. The resolution calls on Congress and state legislatures to repeal laws requiring mandatory minimums and to refrain from adopting such laws in the future....

"Sentencing by mandatory minimums is the antithesis of rational sentencing policy," the report says. Basic fairness and due process require sentences to be the same among similarly situated offenders and proportional to the crime, the report says.

The belief that Congress ought to be able to set a rock bottom minimum for serious offenses  --  an idea taking root in the same uncontroversial notion that it can set a binding-on-judges maximum  -- evidently never occurs to the ABA.  The organization understandably cites no precedent in two centuries of case law for its proposal that sentencing courts should have 100% discretion 100% of the time, and Congress can go sit in the corner.

Hat tip to SL&P.

They Keep Lying and Lying

The main problem in being an advocate for robust law enforcement is not putting up with repeated smears from the other side.  Kent and I have been called fascists and bloodlusters too many times to remember.  After a while, you get used to it as the way many people (although not the majority) on the other side do business.  (I have also been called a kapo and  --  get this  --  a necrophiliac.  I think Kent has missed out on those two bouquets, so far).

No, the main problem is not that the Left smears but that they lie.  "Lie" is a strong word, but it's the only one that correctly captures what's going on.  Moreover, they generally lie with impunity.  While the more adult advocates on the Left will criticize insult as a means of debate, only a handful will call out the lying.  Even when they do, it's largely excused as being merely push-the-envelope advocacy.

Two recent examples of flagrant lying come to mind.

Retaining Counsel With Dirty Money

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Nicole Hong reports for the WSJ, "Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, the Mexican drug lord awaiting trial in New York, wants to hire private lawyers. But they may have to join the case without any assurance of getting paid."

Guzmán is presently represented by the federal defender.  His potential private lawyers want "blanket, prospective assurance" from the government that the money he uses to pay them won't be forfeited.  The government, unsurprisingly, said "fuggedaboudit," or something to that effect.

See this post from last year on the Supreme Court's fractured decision in Luis v. United States and Dean Mazzone's article that I linked to yesterday.  Continuing with the WSJ article:

Mr. Guzmán wants to hire a team led by Jeffrey Lichtman, most well-known for securing an acquittal for John A. Gotti, son of the notorious mob boss. The team also includes A. Eduardo Balarezo, William Purpura and Marc Fernich, all of whom have had experience defending mobsters or drug traffickers.
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"This is still America. The man deserves not only his choice of counsel, but he deserves a fair trial," Mr. Lichtman said.
Um, yes, this is still America, but a defendant does not have, and never has had in this country, a choice of counsel he does not have the money to pay for.  Indigent defendants get the counsel they are appointed.  Is the rule any different for a defendant who has money obtained illegally and forfeitable to the government?  No, but tracing the money can get complicated.

As for the right to a fair trial, is every trial in which the defendant is represented by a public defender inherently unfair?  I don't think so.

News Scan

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NY Times: Counter-Protesters Were Armed:  The violence in Charlottesville last weekend and the death caused by what appears to be a deranged neo-Nazi has appropriately focused national attention on the despicable views held by some on the fringe right.  A piece by Farah Stockman of The New York Times reports on the counter protest organized to confront the white supremacists who organized the rally.  Masked members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, some carrying weapons, showed up to engage in violence.  Similar protesters showed up last February at U.C. Berkeley to shut down a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos, setting fires, and attacking people, ditto for a talk by Heather MacDonald at Claremont McKenna College last June, and a small white supremacist rally in Sacramento last summer.  In all of these cases the protesters initiated the violence.   Bob McManus of the City Journal wrote this piece on how the police handled things in Charlottesville.     

Rate of Black Homicides:   A recently released article by Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health reports that the rate of black homicides is nearly quadruple the national average.  Specifically the homicide rate per 100,000 is 20.9 for blacks, 4.9 for Hispanics, 2.6 for whites and 5.7 for all races.   BlackMurder.png

Justified Use of Force

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Alex Schiffer reports in the WaPo:

The New England Holocaust Memorial in downtown Boston was vandalized Monday night by a 17-year-old who was immediately tackled by bystanders and held until police arrived, police said.
I wonder ... If the vandal sues the tacklers, will the people who regularly decry the use of force in response to "mere property crimes" support him?
Andy Kessler has this article with the above title in the WSJ.

Hands down, the two most dangerous words in the English language today are "studies show."

The world is inundated with the manipulation of flighty studies to prove some larger point about mankind in the name of behavioral science. Pop psychologists have churned out mountains of books proving some intuitive point that turns out to be wrong. It's "sciencey," with a whiff of (false) authenticity.
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Evil or Crazy?

When a shocking incident such as the Charlottesville car-murder occurs, we have to wonder if the perpetrator is evil or crazy.  Six years ago, Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded many others at a congressional event in Tucson, Arizona, and most people initially believed it was an act of political terrorism.  It turned out Loughner was floridly schizophrenic.

From the picture emerging out of Virginia, it appears that James Fields is mostly evil but maybe a little crazy.  Dake Kang and Sarah Rankin have this story for AP.  Along with being an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, it appears that he beat his own mother and threatened her with a knife.  He also was diagnosed with schizophrenia at one point, but it does not appear so far that his mental illness was on the same scale as Loughner's.

Bill argues in this post that the crime calls for the death penalty.  At this point, Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, which would preclude that sentence.  The charge could be upgraded as further facts develop, however.  Stay tuned.

Shifting Ground on Forfeiture

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Dean Mazzone of the Massachusetts AG's Office has this article in the Federalist Society Review discussing last year's Supreme Court decision in Luis v. United States.
We don't yet know all the facts about the Charlottesville murder, but it certainly seems on the present evidence to amount to this:  A Nazi or Nazi sympathizer ran down a fellow citizen, killing her, because she was in a political protest with which he disagreed.

I support the death penalty for a number of reasons, but the Charlottesville murder, like the Boston Marathon murders and Charleston church massacre, illustrates the main one. There is some behavior so pernicious, and so grossly outside the boundaries of peaceable life as we have come to understand it, that we as a polity have the right to say no and mean it.  Not merely to gush with remonstrance.  To act, with certainty and force.

I have my doubts that the death penalty should be reserved for "the worst of the worst," even supposing that phrase could be subject to any operational definition.  But even if I'm wrong about that, this episode, if it is what it seems to be, qualifies under any definition.

Nazism, Aryan supremacy, or racial supremacy of any kind has a history.  We don't have to guess where it leads.  Slave ships and the ovens at Dachau and Buchenwald tell us.  A society that lacks the moral confidence to put a permanent end to actors this barbaric lacks the moral confidence to do anything.

News Scan

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The Risk of Using Risk Assessment Tools:  Anti-death penalty advocates make their strongest argument when they remind us that, for all of its time intensive layers of review, America's criminal justice system cannot guarantee that 100% of the murderers sentenced to death are actually 100% guilty of the murders they were sentenced to die for.  Because of this, CJLF has always advocated that any legitimate question of guilt, ie. a claim supported by evidence, should trigger additional review or default the sentence to LWOP.   Anti-incarceration advocates use the same "the system is not perfect" argument to support "smart sentencing" and "right on crime" reforms aimed to prevent the good criminals from going to prison, or even jail in some states. To placate the gullible into supporting such reforms proponents assure us that brilliant scientists have developed sophisticated "risk assessment tools"  to distinguish the bad criminals who might hurt somebody from the good criminals who just want to steal your car or wallet.  This would be wonderful if the risk assessment tools, which are algorithms originally developed to anticipate changes in financial markets, worked on humans.  But they don't.  In fact, they are far less perfect than the mean old "three strikes and your out policy" of the 1990s or the "three will get you twenty" policy of the 1950s.  When these risk assessments get it wrong, innocent people get raped, robbed and murdered by the bad criminals the algorithm failed to identify.  Right now in California, the Legislature is considering using these wonderful "risk assessment tools" to determine which arrestees should be released without bail prior to trial.  The one-thousand-strong Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys Association has this post on the real world effect this junk science has on public safety.
Note:  The Arnold Foundation, which developed the tool discussed, partners with George Soros' Open Society Foundation on criminal justice policy issues. 

News Scan

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Habitual Criminal Stabs CA Woman:  A Sacramento woman is in the hospital today after a habitual criminal on probation broke into her home and stabbed her just after 5:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.  Nashelly Chavez and Jacob Sweet of the Sacramento Bee report that the suspect, 24-year-old Jordan Lynch was on probation when he entered Delia Trip's home through a sliding door and attacked her.  The woman suffered stab wounds on her neck and back as she fought for her life.  Neighbors, alerted by her screams, caught Lynch attempting to flee and subdued him until police arrived.  He is facing charges of attempted murder.  California law categorizes most property and drug offenders as low risk for violence, and restricts sentences for these crimes to county jail and probation.  Serious felons released from prison who violate their parole are routinely sentenced to a few days in county jail and released to light supervision on probation.  

10th Circuit Overturns Murder Conviction:  A unanimous panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of an Oklahoma man who murdered his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend in 1999.  Robert Boczkiewicz of The Oklahoman reports that the court overturned the conviction because the murder occurred on Indian Land and murderer Patrick Murphy should have faced trial in federal court rather than in state court.  Facts provided in the ruling indicate that in August 1999 Murphy, a member of the Muscogee Tribe, told his girlfriend that he was going to kill her ex-boyfriend George Jacobs and his family.  Murphy and two accomplices tracked Jacobs down on a rural road in Indian Territory and forced his car off the road.  The group attacked Jacobs and another man in the car.  During the attack Murphy dragged Jacobs into the bushes and castrated him, then dragged him back to the side of the road and fatally slashed his throat and stomach.  A jury convicted Murphy of murder and sentenced him to death.  Murphy appealed citing the jurisdiction issue and claimed he was mentally retarded.  The court rejected the retardation claim.  Murphy will be retried in federal court.   

News Scan

Repeat Felon Nabbed For Killing Cop:  A habitual criminal has been arrested for last Sunday's murder of a Missouri police officer.  Dhomonique Ricks of Fox News reports that during a traffic stop at about 10:45 Sunday night, Ian McCarthy jumped out of his vehicle and shot down officer Gary Michael, 37.  Roughly 100 local, county and state law enforcement officers were involved in an intense manhunt which ended with McCarthy's arrest Tuesday.  At the time of the shooting, McCarthy, who has spent time in prison for first-degree assault and violating parole, was wanted in New Hampshire for leaving the state prior to sentencing on a disorderly conduct charge and in Johnson County, Missouri for unlawful possession of a firearm.  The murdered officer had a wife and three children. 

Non-Violent Offender Charged With Murder:  A Louisville, KY man charged with the Saturday, August 5th murder of 31-year-old man, had been released on Kentucky's Home Incarceration Program (HIP) five days earlier.  Natalia Martinez of Wave News reports that proponents of the HIP program touted it as a safe way for the state to prevent jail overcrowding and reduce incarceration costs.  The suspect, Justin Curry, has been released on HIP on August 1st after he was arrested for cocaine possession and violating probation.  Currey had priors for drug dealing, receiving stolen property, illegal firearm possession, assault and domestic violence.  All of these are considered low-level, non-violent crimes that qualified Curry for release as a low risk-offender. Prior to the 2011 adoption of Kentucky's Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act, these crimes would have qualified him for time in prison or county jail.  Tough luck for the victim.    

News Scan

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Death Penalty For Woman Who Killed Cousin:  On Monday, a 29-year-old Phoenix woman was sentenced to death for locking her 10-year-old cousin in a plastic storage box and leaving her to die. CBS News reports that Amy Deal was locked in the box as punishment for stealing a popsicle.  The girl's death ended a lifetime of abuse.  Samantha Allen became Amy's legal guardian after Samantha's mother was sentenced to 24 years in prison for abusing Amy.  The abuse continued under Samantha's care and included repeated beatings, being kicked in the face, near drownings, and being locked in the storage container.   Samantha's husband will also be tried for first-degree murder and child abuse beginning on October 9. 

Illegal Immigrant Convicted of Rape:  An illegal immigrant living in Vacaville, CA, has agreed to plead guilty to the rape and sexual abuse of three young girls.  Jess Sullivan of the Daily Republic reports that 36-year-old Nelson Arana agreed to the plea deal rather than face a second trial on the charges.  He had been in prison since 2012 after an earlier conviction on the same charges, but a court of appeal overturned the conviction based upon evidence that the sex with one of his victims had been consensual.  Rather than face a retrial and the possibility of a longer sentence, Arana agreed to a six-year sentence and deportation.

News Scan

Study: Oakland Cops Are Racists:  The scholars at Stanford have proven what the media, Black Lives Matter and Eric Holder have known all along, the police are racists.  Heather MacDonald has this piece in the City Journal about the study performed by psychologists, linguists, and computer scientists which suggests that Oakland police treat black drivers less respectfully than white ones. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was well received by journalists at The Washington Post, the New York Times, and Science.  Lead researcher Jennifer Eberhardt, is a Stanford psychology professor,  who specializes in implicit bias, the idea that nearly everyone approaches allegedly disfavored groups with unconscious prejudice. 

7th Circuit Overturns Death Sentence:  The death sentence of a triple-murderer was overturned Friday in a ruling from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Jonathan Stempel of Reuters reports that the court found that the "stun belt" worn by the defendant, to help control him, contaminated the penalty phase and likely prejudiced the jury.  While the belt was not visible to jurors, a box on the belt containing wiring, while hidden under murderer John Stephenson's shirt, caused a visible bulge.  Stephenson was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1996 murders of two men and a woman who were in a pickup truck.  A witness testified that Stephenson had fired multiple rounds into the truck with his assault rifle, then stabbed the three victims with a knife.  The state has not indicated whether it will seek the death penalty at Stephenson's new sentencing hearing.     

News Scan

DC Circuit Tosses Blackwater Conviction:  A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned the first-degree murder conviction of a security contractor who fired on a group of Iraqi civilians in 2007, leaving 14 dead.  Spencer S. Hsu of the Washington Post reports that the court found the 2014 conviction of guard Nicholas Slatten resulted from an abuse of discretion by the trial judge for not allowing him a separate trial as the only one of the four guards facing a murder charge.  The court also overturned Slatten's life sentence, and the 30-year sentences given the three other guards.  The court determined that  the sentences, required under federal law for use of military weapons, were not intended for military security contractors, but for U.S. drug traffickers.  Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson and Janice Rogers Brown held that the sentences were "grossly disproportionate to their culpability for using government-issued weapons in a war zone." 

ICE Banned From CA Labor Offices:  The California Labor Commissioner has ordered her employees to refuse entry to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to state labor offices unless the agents have a court warrant.  Adam Ashton of the Sacramento Bee reports that the order was in response to three instances in recent months where ICE agents sought the immigration status of workers who had filed claims against employers.  The Commissioner said that the presence of ICE agents would discourage immigrants from reporting employers.  We assume she meant illegal immigrants.  Last December the CA Superintendent of Schools encouraged school districts to declare campuses "safe havens" from immigration enforcement.  Rather than wait for all other state agencies to take similar action, the state legislature is currently moving a bill that would declare the entire state a sanctuary for illegal aliens. In late July the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported that it had issued driver's licenses to nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants, in effect making them documented immigrants.  
Late on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court launched its revamped website.  Fortunately, the horrible red background on some of the pages was removed even faster than Mr. Scaramucci.  The big news is the upcoming launch of electronic filing:

The Supreme Court's new electronic filing system will begin operation on November 13, 2017. A quick link on the Court's website homepage will provide access to the new system, developed in-house to provide prompt and easy access to case documents. Once the system is in place, virtually all new filings will be accessible without cost to the public and legal community.
That last part is very good news.  In the lower federal courts, public documents are available only by payment of a fee that has little relation to the cost of providing the service.  On a per-page basis the fee may not seem like much, but it adds up for a small non-profit that needs and uses the system extensively.

The good part about the lower federal courts' e-filing system is that if you e-file a PDF of your brief on the due date then the deadline is met.  The paper copies can be printed and mailed in due course.  The Supreme Court's current requirement that paper copies be mailed by the due date effectively backs up the deadline a few business days, particularly since they have to be printed in the high court's odd little booklet size.

I rarely recommend that the Supreme Court follow the Ninth Circuit.  Quite the contrary, the Conclusion section of my SCOTUS briefs quite often reads, "The decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit should be reversed."  When it comes to e-filing, though, the Ninth does it right, and the Supreme Court would do well to consider its template.

The Limits of Public Order Control

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Only marginally, if at all, on-topic, but amusing:  Joe Parkinson and Georgi Kantchev have this story in the WSJ.  The headline is "British pubs ban swearing, are accused of having %$&# for brains."

News Scan

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Trump's Fifth Judicial Appointment Confirmed:  On Tuesday the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of former Alabama Solicitor General Kevin Newsom to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Alex Swoyer of the Washington Times reports that this was the fifth Trump judicial pick confirmed this year, far outpacing Presidents Obama and George W. Bush.  Obama had zero appointees confirmed by August of 2009, Bush had three by August of his first year in office.  So far, in addition to Justice Gorsuch and Judge Newsom, Trump has placed two other judges in federal courts of appeal and one on a district court. There are 28 other Trump judicial appointees awaiting Senate confirmation.   

News Scan

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42,000 Immigrants in Federal Prisons:  Federal officials reported Tuesday that as of June 24th, 22% of federal prison inmates were aliens who entered the U.S. illegally or who are subject to deportation.  Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports that while roughly 13.5% of the U.S. population are foreign born, aliens are significantly over represented for committing federal crimes. Among the 42,000 in federal lockup are some foreign citizens who once had legal status but, by committing serious crimes, are losing that status and become targets for deportation.  Efforts are underway to determine how many foreign nationals are currently housed in state prisons and local jails.    

Dreamer Arrested For Brutal Rape:  A 23-year-old Mexican national has been arrested for the June 25 rape of a 19-year-old woman in the Seattle suburb of Burien.  Dan Springer of Fox News reports that Salvador Diaz-Garcia entered the U.S. illegally and was granted "dreamer" status in 2013 under President Obama's Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program.  He had groped the victim a month earlier, but became violent last week when she was working out in her apartment complex gym, raping her and beating her severely enough to knock out some of her teeth.  Diaz-Garcia is also facing charges for molesting a 14-year-old girl earlier the same day as the rape.   Like Seattle, the community of Burien is a sanctuary city.    

Probationer Shoots Two CA Cops:  A habitual criminal on probation, classified under California law as a non-serious, non-violent offender, shot two Los Banos police officers before being fatally injured by return fire Tuesday.  Brianna Calix and Vikaas Shanker of the Los Banos Enterprise report that there were restraining orders against Norberto Nieblas-Reyes from his estranged wife and the owner of her apartment for previous incidents when he climbed into her apartment through a window at 6:18 a.m.  He attacked responding officers, and grabbed one of their guns before shooting one officer in the chest, and the other in the head, torso and leg.  Both are expected to recover.  Nieblas-Reyes had multiple priors for DUI, drug possession, assaults on police officers, and spousal abuse.      

Trump and Sessions, the Path Forward

The appointment of Gen. Kelly as White House Chief of Staff, and his immediate replacement of the loose-lipped (to be kind) Anthony Scaramucci, may provide the occasion for a re-set of the frayed relationship between President Trump and Attorney General Sessions.

We should remember the basics.  The President could hardly have done a better job finding a man with the experience and dedication to advance his justice-related agenda. The problem arose when Sessions recused himself from the Department's Russia investigation.  Reportedly, this made the President angry and frustrated, notwithstanding that Sessions' action was, as I and others have argued, wise if not required under the governing law.  (This may be the place to remember that there is governing law, and that recusal decisions are not just a matter of preference or perceived political interest).

It now seems that the President has, perhaps reluctantly, decided to retain the Attorney General.  Their relationship, however, can become cordial and productive, and consign to the past the tension that seems to exist now.  In other words, there is a constructive way forward.

News Scan

Crackdown in MS-13 is Making the Gang Stronger:  In a CNN report released Friday journalist Dan Lieberman spoke to an illegal immigrant and members of the gang who say that the Trump Administration's crackdown on the violent gang is actually making it stronger.  An undocumented immigrant who refused to give her name, told Lieberman that her son, who came from El Salvador to live with her in Long Island, has been attacked by the gang for refusing to join.  "I think it's worse (in the US) because over there (El Salvador) they hadn't tried to kill him.  But here they have," she said.  The story also cited "several people familiar with MS-13, including two gang members themselves...told CNN they think Trump's crackdown on immigrants is actually making MS-13 stronger because witnesses are more reluctant to come forward for fear of being deported."  The story also quoted the leader of a immigrant advocacy group who agreed.  For balance the story quoted a "senior administration official" who disputed that thinking.  

Chicago On Track For New Homicide Record:  A man murdered in the Near North Side of Chicago early last Friday marked the city's 400 homicide.  Mitchell Armentrout of the Sun Times reports that at around 3:00 a.m. a 31-year-old man was shot multiple times in the face and died at the scene.  A 34-year-old man was also shot multiple times during the same incident, but as of Friday, remained alive in critical condition.  Later that morning a 23-year-old man become the 401 victim in a south side shooting.  There were 781 homicides in Chicago last year, but the 400th murder did not occur until August 1.  The Chicago Tribune has different numbers, reporting that there have been 409 homicides to date, probably accounting for additional murders over the weekend.  The same article lists the names of the victims for each month. 

News Scan

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Ohio Court Upholds Death Sentence:  An Ohio murderer lost a bid to overturn his death sentence Tuesday.  The Associated Press reports that a divided Ohio Supreme Court rejected Jeffrey Wogenstahl's claim that that the state lacked jurisdiction to prosecute him because the body of 10-year-old girl he murdered was found in Indiana.  Wogenstahl was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1991 kidnap and murder of Amber Garrett.  Facts found by the jury indicate that he abducted the girl from her bedroom at roughly 3:15 AM in Harrison, a town on the Ohio-Indiana border.  The girl's body was found about 4 miles across the border in ditch five days later.  Amber had been stabbed 11 times in the chest and neck, and her head had blunt force trauma consistent being hit with a jack handle.  While there was evidence to suggest that she was not killed where her body was found, and that she might have died in Wogenstahl's apartment, it was not conclusive.  The question of jurisdiction was not directly raised at trial.  The Court held that, considering the evidence in this case, state law allowed the presumption that the murder occurred in Ohio.   

Murderer's Challenge to Execution Drug Rejected:  A Florida judge has denied a double-murderer's claim that the anesthesia used in the state's execution protocol may allow him to feel pain.  Julia Jenae of WTLV reports that white supremacist Mark Asay, sentenced to death for gunning down two black men in 1998, brought in an out-of-state expert to support his claim that the drug etomidate does not keep a person unconscious long enough, and can cause pain during injection.  A state expert disputed the claim, noting that the drug works in 10-15 seconds and lasts long enough to allow a painless execution. In rejecting Asay's claim the judge noted that he only "demonstrated the possibility of mild to moderate pain that would last, at most tens of seconds."  Asay has until July 31 to appeal the judge's decision to the Florida Supreme Court.   His execution is scheduled for August 24.  No word on whether the ACLU and the NAACP will file argument on his behalf. 
Q:  Wanna know why the particular law school you attended is a leftist haven?

A:  Because they're all leftist havens.

Why Sessions Recused Himself

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The Wall Street Journal explains as well as anyone why Attorney General Sessions was right to recuse himself from the Russia probe.  Its piece is here.  I will make no attempt to improve on it; I'll only repeat that fidelity to law means adhering to both its letter and spirit.

Sessions has done himself and DOJ proud by taking the action he did, and by the restraint and dignity he has shown in the face of the recent attacks on him.

I would  contrast this with Eric Holder's fuming claim that the American people are "a nation of cowards" for turning away from a discussion of race,  Mr. Holder's remark had two principal problems, to wit, that the American people are not cowards, and that we talk about race from morning to night, then have at it again the next day.

But don't get me started.

USCA5 Denies Stay to Texas Murderer

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has denied a stay of execution for Tai Chin Preyor.  Let's start with what he did:

Briefly, Preyor was convicted and sentenced to death in Texas in March 2005, for the 2004 capital murder of Jami Tackett during the course of committing or attempting to commit burglary. He stabbed her numerous times, severing her trachea, jugular vein, and carotid artery. He was arrested on the grounds of her apartment complex, covered in blood. The jury rejected his claim of self-defense, convicted him and sentenced him to death.
Here are the legal issues:

Tai Chin Preyor was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 2005. He challenged his conviction and sentence on direct appeal, in state post-conviction proceedings, and a federal habeas proceeding. No challenges were successful. On July 17, 2017, ten days before his scheduled execution, he filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, seeking to reopen his federal habeas proceedings under Rule 60(d)(3) (fraud on the court) and/or Rule 60(b)(6) (extraordinary circumstances). He claimed that his former habeas counsel of record, Brandy Estelle, who had been retained to represent him by his mother, committed a fraud upon the court by acting largely as a puppet for Philip Jefferson, a now deceased California attorney who had been disbarred in 1990, and by concealing Jefferson's habeas involvement from the court. Preyor sought to have the district court restore him to the position he was in before Jefferson and Estelle filed the federal habeas petition on his behalf, so that he can now assert a new claim that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to investigate, discover, and present mitigating evidence of physical and sexual abuse and substance addiction.

News Scan

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Activists Oppose Baltimore Gun Crackdown:  Two people were arrested at the Baltimore City Hall Tuesday night as activists protested against the adoption of a local law to take guns off the streets.  reports that bill would require a one year jail sentence for anyone convicted for a second time of illegal possession of a firearm in the city.  The Mayor noted that there have been over 600 shootings in Baltimore this year and that something had to be done to get illegal guns off the streets.  Opponents are against the mandatory sentence.  The City Council voted 5-2 to move the bill to the next stage of review.

Illegal Charged for Rape of NY Girl:  A 37-year-old illegal alien has been charged with first degree rape for multiple assaults on a 12-year-old New York girl.  Fox News reports that Fernando Alvarado-Perez allegedly had sex with the girl several times when she was 12 and 13.  Local officials report that he had entered the US illegally ten years ago.  The Livingston County Police Chief told reporters that the immigration status of Avafado-Perez  "wasn't a priority to us."  ICE has placed a detainer hold on the suspect, who is being held without bail. 
Zusha Elinson reports for the WSJ:

SAN FRANCISCO--During his campaign, President Donald Trump repeatedly pointed to the wrenching story of Kate Steinle--a young woman allegedly murdered by an undocumented Mexican--as a prime example of violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

Now, the man accused of killing Ms. Steinle, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, will soon be on trial, refocusing attention on an issue that Mr. Trump has continued to emphasize as president.
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The defendant, a repeat felon who was deported five times, has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder of Ms. Steinle, 32, while she walked on pier with her father on July 1, 2015. The single bullet that killed Ms. Steinle ricocheted off the ground before hitting her, ballistics experts have testified.
Elinson goes on to note the irrelevant statistic, furnished by a criminology professor, that immigration in general does not increase crime rates.  That has nothing to do with anything at issue.  The defendant in this case is not just an immigrant.  He is a habitual criminal who has been repeatedly deported and just waltzed back over our porous border.  We need to have enough control over our border that alien criminals who are deported stay deported.  Those who oppose having that degree of control have the blood of the victims on their hands.

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