About that Police "Militarization"....

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Those who want to lecture us about the "lessons of Ferguson" without waiting to find out what actually happened there have opened a related front calling for disarming demilitarizing the police.

This YouTube film of the London police in full fight from a mob of radical Muslims gives an eye-opening, if appalling, preview of what things will be like if the attack on the police succeeds.
Off-topic but interesting, Fergus Bordewich in the WSJ takes us on a historical trip down the "what if" road.
Prof. Sara Sun Beale of Duke Law School is, in my view, a more balanced intellect than one usually encounters in academia.  Her recent article seems to assume that having more information makes it more likely that one will oppose capital punishment  --  an assumption with which I disagree.  But her article has the virtue of laying bare one of the key facts about the abolitionist movement  -- that it lacks popular support even where it succeeds, and essentially is led by those who look down at "trailer park trash" and "women with big hair."  

The abstract of Prof. Beale's piece, found at SSRN, explains:

What explains the difference between the United States and the many other countries that have abolished capital punishment? Because the United States and many other nations that have abolished the death penalty are democracies, there seems to be an obvious answer: abolition or retention reflects the preferences of the electorate. According to this view, the U.S. electorate is simply more punitive, and the question becomes explaining the difference in national attitudes. There is some truth to this explanation. As I have argued elsewhere, the U.S. public generally does favor punitive criminal justice policies. But that cannot be the whole story. Other nations have abolished capital punishment despite widespread public support -- in many cases, support of more than 70 percent of the public at the time of abolition. In the United States, however, after the Supreme Court imposed a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in the early 1970s, strong public support led to its reintroduction in two-thirds of the states.

This paper explores the relationship between public opinion and the abolition or retention of the death penalty, comparing the U.S. experience to that of other nations (with a particular focus on Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada). Although the experience of each country includes distinctive elements, several common themes emerge. In each country, political elites led the abolition movement. The structure of the electoral process and the parliamentary party system, moreover, allowed legislators and other public officials a degree of insulation from popular opinion. The elites differed from their electorates in education, experience, and knowledge of the issue. Because of these differences, support for capital punishment was much lower among these elites than among the general public. In abolishing capital punishment, the elites acted in accordance with their own views, rather than those of the median voter or the general public. Some scholars have characterized this type of political behavior as the "elite leadership hypothesis." Additionally, international agreements and norms played a significant role in Europe, making abolition difficult to reverse once enacted and helping to persuade other nations to abolish capital punishment despite the existence of popular support. Finally, abolition (whether de jure or de facto) has had a tendency over time to reduce public support for capital punishment, thus diminishing popular pressure to reverse course


What Ferguson Is "About"

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Just now I read an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled, "Ferguson Isn't About Black Rage Against Cops; It's White Rage Against Progress."  The gist of the column, written by an associate professor in the African American studies and history department at Emory University, is that what's sparking the controversy isn't the shooting itself, nor the looting and violence thereafter, nor even any national concern about where we are, after all these years, with black crime and white police.

Nope, it's about how Ferguson "shows us" that white people still want to subjugate blacks a la' slavery (or as close as whites can get to slavery).  They want to do this by such vicious means as efforts "to dilute African American voting strength [through, e.g., voter ID laws] or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment."

The article is, in its way, just the most recent in a long line of furious, Sharptonesque attacks on whites, not dissimilar to the one I noted before arguing that what Ferguson is "about" is that whites had better cough up reparations.  But there's a more fundamental point about the vocabulary in which this entire discussion is being conducted.

Ferguson is the name of a town in Missouri.  It isn't "about" anything until we know what happened.  If you're reading something purporting to tell you what Ferguson is "about," or "the lessons of Ferguson," or "how to avoid the next Ferguson," put it down.  It's just using the word "Ferguson" to appropriate your attention to an agenda that's been around for years.

Those actually interested in knowing what Ferguson is "about" are still waiting. Waiting is annoying, for sure, but old-fashioned qualities like patience, maturity, authentic curiosity and fair play demand it.  If Ferguson turns out to be about a cop who shot a muscular, huge, enraged 18 year-old charging at him from a few seconds away, then it's "about" one thing.  If it shows a cop who shoot a huge, muscular 18 year-old who wanted nothing but to peacefully surrender and posed no realistic threat, then it's "about" something else.  In neither event is it necessarily about an issue with national resonance, although it might be, depending  --  again  --  on those pesky specifics.

For the moment, we are left to regret that, even as we're still in the dark about the most important facts,  the now standard-issue charge "KKK" gets hissed at those, white or black, who want to see that legitimate voters are the ones voting, and take at least a stab at paring back the government's sinkhole debt. If liberals are ever again able to make their arguments without this kind of opportunistic, race-baiting calumny, please, someone, jab me in the ribs.
Five years ago, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated former state Senator Charles Poochigian to the state Court of Appeal.  He was evaluated by the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation and given the lowest rating, Not Qualified.  This was not because of his personal characteristics.  On the contrary, reported Kenneth Ofgang in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise at the time,

JNE Commission Chair Jonathan Wolf of San Francisco wrote to the chief justice that the nominee "is intelligent, diligent, and articulate...is an independent thinker, courteous, and even tempered...works well under pressure and demonstrates courage, compassion, and common sense...is a hardworker...and...is committed to public service."
So what was the problem?  There was one and only one.

But Poochigian's legal background does not qualify him for the appellate bench, Wolf said, explaining:

"He had not practiced law for approximately 21 years and had not litigated a case in approximately the same amount of time. Moreover, he has no jury trials and no criminal law experience."

The commission did consider Poochigian's experience in the Legislature, including his work on criminal law issues as vice chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, but did not find this sufficient, Wolf related.
Why bring this up five years later?  Governor Jerry Brown recently nominated Stanford Law Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar to the California Supreme Court.  His CV, while otherwise impressive, is devoid of practical legal experience.  Does the JNE Commission have a problem with that?  Oh, heavens to Betsy, no.  "A state bar evaluating commission gave Cuellar ... its highest rating: exceptionally well qualified," reports Maura Dolan in the LA Times.

Does an otherwise well qualified nominee with little, no, or stale practical legal experience deserve the highest rating or the lowest?  The answer, if the rating is done by the California State Bar's commission, depends entirely on political alignment.

Claims that removing judicial nomination functions from elected officials and turning them over to bar committees will remove politics from the process are complete hokum.
Remember Clayton Lockett, the Oklahoma murderer who supposed died of a heart attack rather than the lethal injection?  Well, never mind.  An independent autopsy found he did indeed die of the lethal injection drugs, Tim Talley of AP reports.

An autopsy on an Oklahoma inmate who died after his troubled execution was halted concluded that he was killed by the lethal drugs, but it doesn't explain why he writhed, moaned and clenched his teeth before he was pronounced dead about 43 minutes after the process began.
This execution still counts as "botched," in my view, but it is the only one in years that does.  We can't say with confidence that he was "under" from the beginning of the procedure, which we can with the others.
Tony Mauro has this article at National Law Journal (registration required) on the reorganization of the Supreme Court Clerk's office, previously noted here.

Jordan "Danny" Bickell will serve in the new position of deputy clerk for practice and procedure, which will carry out some of the functions of the chief deputy. Those includes "the preparation of weekly conference lists, taking action on extensions of time to respond to petitions for writs of certiorari, and service as the primary point of contact for members of the Court's bar with respect to questions of practice and procedure," according to the announcement.

Bickell's new title also means a temporary vacancy in the position of staff attorney for emergency applications--known informally as the "death clerk," the court's liaison with state officials and defense lawyers in the final hours before scheduled executions. Bickell held that position and will continue to perform those duties until the vacancy is filled.
Let's hope they fill the vacancy soon.  That job is too important and too difficult to be an "additional duty" rather than the person's main job.

News Scan

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Convicted Killer to be Re-Sentenced: A New Hampshire man convicted and sentenced to life without parole (LWOP) for murdering two college professors when he was 17 years old, is scheduled to be re-sentenced after the state's Supreme Court ruled in favor of applying a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision retroactively.  Peter Schworm of The Boston Globe reports that the New Hampshire high court unanimously agreed to apply the Supreme Court's 2012 Miller decision retroactively to four inmates who are currently serving life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles.  Each of the men will have a re-sentencing hearing, however, judges have the right to re-sentence them to LWOP if they believe it is warranted.

Cop Killer Sentenced to Death: An Arizona jury has sentenced convicted cop killer Bryan Hulsey to death.  The Associated Press reports that Hulsey killed one officer and wounded another during a routine traffic stop in 2007.  Under Arizona law, Hulsey's death sentence will be automatically appealed to the state's high court.

Convicted Sex Offender Caught at U.S. Border:   An illegal immigrant convicted in Los Angeles County on several counts of lewd acts with a child was caught earlier this week trying to enter the U.S. illegally through the country's southwest border.  Michelle Moons of Breitbart reports that 43-year-old Osmar Acevedo was convicted in 2008 of five counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child and sentenced to three years behind bars.  It is unknown whether or not he served his entire sentence or was released early.  It is also unclear when Acevedo left the U.S, but court documents show he had been previously deported in 1996. 

The Victims of "Smart Sentencing"

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Over most of the past decade liberal groups, which originally opposed and have for years sought to eliminate the so-called  "harsh" habitual criminal sentencing policies adopted in the 80s and 90s, have launched collaborative efforts with libertarians and some Republicans to encourage alternative sentencing.  "Right on Crime","Smart on Crime" and "Smart Sentencing" advocates have been successful at changing policies in many parts of the country to reduce sentences for criminals categorized as non-violent, and placing them instead in community programs to help them become law-abiding members of society, with the promise of saving millions in state and federal prison costs.  At a time when crime rates are relatively low, and our European betters and Hollywood movie stars are constantly scolding America as the incarceration nation, the allure of an America where bright, dedicated government employees guide minor offenders off the criminal path is difficult for many to resist. 

Police Prudence or Hecklers' Veto?

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One of the tougher issues in First Amendment law is deciding when protected speech turns into unprotected incitement.  Police are often called upon to make that judgment.  In this case, they found incitement, moved the protesters out, and threatened them with arrest for disorderly conduct.  (No charges were actually brought in court, however).

A Sixth Circuit panel found that the district court got it right when it held for the police. On the circumstances of this case, I think the cops got it wrong, for the reasons explained by dissenting Judge Eric Clay (appointed by Bill Clinton).

To allow a menacing mob to trump peaceful (although very annoying) protesters' First Amendment rights is to allow the "heckler's veto," and that in turn will lead us to a place a free country should never go.

Canada's Fairness for Victims Act

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Our northern neighbor's House of Commons commendably passed the Fairness for Victims Act, which among other things allows the parole board to set reconsideration intervals up to five years rather than the current two.  When a rapist or murderer is eligible for parole and the victim or victim's family is opposed, they must go to the hearing and relive the horror.  They ought not have to do that more often than necessary.

In an amazing screw-up, though, the wrong version of the bill was sent to the Senate and referred to committee there, Sean Fine reports in the Globe and Mail.

Summer SCOTUS Orders

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Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued the last of its three summer orders lists.  As expected, it was routine stuff.

The "long conference," at which the Court considers the big stack of petitions that have built up over the summer, is set for Monday, September 29.  We can expect an orders list with the petitions granted the next day.  A long orders list of petitions denied will follow on the official opening day of the term, the First Monday in October, which is the 6th.

The Cert Pool has the list.  It's 1566 cases.  They aren't kidding about "long."

News Scan

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Repeat Offender Named as Homicide Suspect: A Northern California man is behind bars on suspicion of murder after leading police on a high-speed chase in a stolen car.  Jess Sullivan of the Daily Republic reports that 20-year-old Samuel Nodine has a lengthy criminal past that includes several probation violations and assault charges.  Nodine is believed to be the person responsible for stabbing to death a former gang associate on the night of July 31, just two months after a judge put him on probation for the third time in less than two years.

MO High Court Upholds Death Sentence: The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of murdering a 9-year-old girl.  Kyle Troutman of the Cassville Democrat reports that 39-year-old Christopher Collings appealed his  sentence claiming that he had confessed to a police officer he knew, and that photographs of the victim shown at trial were not relevant to the case.  Collings kidnapped the young girl and brought her back to his home where he raped and murdered her before dumping her body in a cave.

Gun Ban for Those Convicted of Domestic Violence: A California appeals court has ruled that anyone convicted of domestic violence will be permanently barred from possessing a firearm even if no physical injury was inflicted.  Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the decision made by the court applies a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Castleman which clarified a  law extending the federal ban on firearm ownership to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.  Prior to 1996, California law only restricted firearms for those convicted of felony domestic violence.
Phillip Reese has this post at the Sacramento Bee, noting a disturbingly sharp disparity in the arrest rate for one group in California, a rate nearly triple the state average.

News Scan

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Habitual Felon to be Charged with Multiple Murders: A California man with a lengthy criminal past has been arrested and is expected to be charged later today with several counts of murder.  The Associated Press reports that 34-year-old Alexander Hernandez is believed to be responsible for killing four people and wounding several others over five days across Los Angeles County.  Hernandez has already been charged with one count of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder, three counts of animal cruelty, and is expected to be charged with three more counts of first-degree murder.  If found guilty, Hernandez faces a possible death sentence.  

Convicted Murderer Kills Again: Authorities in Missouri say that an inmate has died from injuries he sustained at the hands of his cellmate, a convicted murderer.  The Associated Press reports that 35-year-old Mark Melton was assaulted in his cell earlier this month and eventually died from his injuries last weekend.  Authorities believe his cellmate, who is serving a sentence for second-degree murder was responsible for his death and have classified the incident as a homicide.

Oregon Killer Awaits Parole Decision: An Oregon man convicted of raping and murdering his 16-year-old classmate more than two decades ago is awaiting a decision from the state's parole board on whether or not he will be released from custody.  KOIN 6 News reports that Conrad Engweiler was 15 at the time of the killing, and is one of five Oregon men who committed aggravated murder as juveniles before mandatory sentencing guidelines had been established.  Engweiler was sentenced in 1991 to life with a minimum of 30 years.  The parole board is expected to make a decision on his release within weeks.

Fools, Damned Fools, and Clients

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Michael Barone writes in the Washington Examiner:

"About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists in telling would-be clients that they are damned fools and should stop." So supposedly said Elihu Root, New York lawyer and secretary of war and of state, and U.S. senator from 1909 to 1915.

Today it seems that many liberal "would-be clients" are in desperate need of what Root called "a decent lawyer."

Take Texans for Public Justice, the so-called public interest group that has been pushing for the indictment of Gov. Rick Perry by a grand jury at the urging of special prosecutor Michael McCrum.

The basis for the indictment is, in the words of liberal New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait, "unbelievably ridiculous."

New Chief for ICE?

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Devlin Barrett reports for the WSJ that Sarah Saldaña, US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, "is the leading candidate to run the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to people familiar with the discussions."

ICE is one of the agencies created in the post-9/11 reshuffle of homeland security organization.  It has many of the functions previously performed by the old Immigration and Naturalization Service.

And the story has this nugget:

Ms. Saldaña got her current job after an unusual political standoff in which her nomination to become U.S. attorney was backed by Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) and opposed by some Democrats in the Texas congressional delegation.

Arizona Primary

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Arizona had its primary election yesterday.  Mark Brnovich won the Republican nomination for Attorney General, defeating incumbent Tom Horne, Alia Beard Rau reports for the Arizona Republic.

I lauded Horne on this blog for moving forward with a "fast track" application for Arizona's capital cases in federal habeas corpus (here and here), but unfortunately the follow-through has been lacking.  I expect Brnovich to take up the fight if he wins the general election.  (He and I serve together on the Federalist Society's Criminal Law Practice Group Executive Committee, BTW.)

The general election is not a foregone conclusion, though.  The race was close last time, the Democratic nominee had no primary opponent, and she has a formidable warchest.

In the Governor's race Doug Doucey has taken the Republican nomination.  I haven't followed that race, but Doucey has endorsements from people whose judgment I respect.  His campaign website is nearly devoid of useful information on his positions, as most campaign websites are these days.
UC Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinksy has this op-ed in the NYT, titled "How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops." 

Chemerinsky is upset about the doctrine of qualified immunity in civil suits against police officers for excessive force.  Okay.  Although I generally support it, at times I have had some qualms about some aspects and applications of that doctrine myself.  But just looks at what he says to support this argument.

Arbitrariness, Expense and Delay

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Three of  the major emerging themes in the anti-death penalty movement are arbitrariness, expense and delay.  The first and third of these are, as I understand it, the principal arguments in the district court's opinion in Jones v. Chappell, about which Kent has written extensively.

I am not in this post going to attempt any extended analysis of these themes; instead, I'm going to do the really, really short take on the first*  --  the claim (see, e.g., here) that the death penalty is carried out so infrequently that in has become arbitrary in the constitutional or morally disabling sense.  

*In later posts I'll take on the other two.

Jones v. Chappell Appeal

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Last week I noted the appeal in Jones v. Chappell, the case holding that because of the delays in carrying out justice in the worst murder cases in California we must now forgo that justice altogether. The docket number in the Ninth Circuit is 14-56373.  The appellant's opening brief is due December 1.  The answer brief is due December 29.  The reply brief is due January 12.  These are all Mondays.

Some people have asked me about a stay.  There is nothing to stay.  There is no injunction affecting other cases.  There is no final judgment in this case.  This is just a ruling on one claim in one case.  To the extent the judge's order purports to vacate Jones's death sentence directly, it is void.  A federal district court judge has no authority to vacate a judgment in a state criminal case as such.  He can only issue a conditional release order, saying that the warden must release a person unless he is retried or resentenced, and the judge in this case has not done that yet.

BTW, Ninth Circuit case 14-56302 is the Soos/Justice appeal noted here, and that case will surely go away shortly.  Update: Today Mr. Soos and Dr. Justice filed their response to the Court of Appeals' order to explain what the heck they are doing appealing a case to which they are not parties.

News Scan

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CA Man Attacks Aunt Hours After Jail Release: A Fresno, CA man has been arrested and is facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon after authorities say he attacked his aunt with a hammer just hours after being released from county jail.  ABC 30 Action News reports that Anthony Palomino had been arrested last week after breaking into cars at his relative's funeral, but was released early from the Fresno County Jail due to overcrowding.  Authorities say after he was released, Palomino attacked his aunt with a hammer leaving her with a black eye, broken cheek bone, and 19 staples in her head.  He is being held in county jail on $25,000 bail.

Killers Plead Guilty to Avoid Death Penalty: A Pennsylvania couple has agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the alleged thrill-killing of a man last year in order to avoid a possible death sentence.  Nikki Krize of WNEP News reports that Miranda and Elytte Barbour, also known as the 'Craigslist killers', met their victim online and lured him into meeting them because they wanted to murder someone together.  The couple has also claimed responsibility in 20 other murders in different parts of the U.S., however, authorities have yet to confirm them.  The couple will be sentenced next month, likely to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

California's Firearm Wait Period Deemed Unconstitutional: A federal judge has ruled in favor of overturning part of a California law that mandated a 10-day waiting period for gun buyers, calling the legislation a violation of the Second Amendment.  KCRA Sacramento reports that the mandatory waiting period will no longer apply to individuals who already own firearms, however, first time gun buyers will still be required to undergo a background check and wait the mandatory 10 days.  The state attorney general has yet to announce whether or not she will appeal the ruling.

Evil, Part II

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Kent notes that WaPo columnist Richard Cohen has discovered the existence of evil. As Kent observes, this is progress.  Three years ago, Mr. Cohen took a more relativist approach.  The subject then was nothing like the grotesque beheading of a hostage (it was, instead, the behavior of the very unfortunately named Congressman Weiner), but relativism quickly balloons once it escapes, so I went after Mr. Cohen with both barrels in my comment to Kent's post.

Still, progress is progress and clarity is clarity, and I'm happy to see them.  Perhaps, in a different life, I'll see some on the editorial page of the New York Times.

Evil

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After 9/11, it briefly became acceptable across the ideological spectrum to speak of "evil."  Usually, the pseudosophisticates who dominate academia, journalism, and the political left consider it the mark of a rube to speak in terms of good and evil.  Being "advanced" requires moral relativism which requires understanding and compassion for people who commit horrendous crimes.  Murder and rape are "antisocial behavior," not evil acts.

Richard Cohen is a columnist for the WaPo who leans left but has more sense than most of his ilk.  In this column, he dares to use the e-word:
The sitting Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, is in a heated re-election campaign.  One of the issues is his handling of the case of convicted multiple killer John Dunlap.  

Dunlap gunned down four people in a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora in 1993.  He was sentenced to death, and the sentence has been affirmed after the usual multiple layers of review.  Nonetheless, and despite the fact that Hickenlooper originally ran for office as a death penalty supporter, he granted Dunlop a "temporary reprieve" earlier this year, saying that Dunlop would not be executed while he was in office.

In a TV interview with CNN, now reported by the Denver Post, Hickenlooper said that, should his pro-death penalty opponent, Rep. Bob Beauprez, win, he would consider granting "full clemency" to Dunlop.

It's hard to know where to begin with this story.


Pretrial Habeas Corpus and Gov. Perry

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Once upon a time, the use of habeas corpus in criminal cases was almost entirely pretrial.  A person jailed pending trial for alleged conduct that he contended was not a crime could get that issue reviewed via habeas corpus.  The most famous American case involved two men accused in the Aaron Burr conspiracy.  See Ex parte Bollman and Swartwout, 8 U.S. 75 (1807).  The writ could be used post-trial to attack the jurisdiction of a court of limited jurisdiction, such as a court-martial of a defendant who claimed to be a civilian, but collateral attack via habeas corpus on a conviction by a court of general jurisdiction was simply not available.  It was over 40 years after the formation of the federal courts before anyone tried, and the attempt was swiftly shot down in Ex parte Watkins, 28 U.S. 193 (1830).

Today the situation is very much the opposite.  We don't see a lot of pretrial habeas corpus these days, but Texas Governor Rick Perry is doing it old school.  Eugene Volokh has this post with a link to the application. Perry is in "custody," a jurisdictional requirement for habeas corpus, because he is out on bond.

Taranto on Obama's Ferguson Statement

Catching up on some stuff that happened while I was out of town, I found an interesting example of the political cross-currents in the Ferguson, Missouri matter.  James Taranto of the WSJ is not a big fan of President Obama, to put it mildly.  He does, though, give the President high marks for his statement last week in this column.

Multiple investigations are under way into the circumstances under which Michael Brown was killed. They must proceed deliberately, in accordance with the rule of law. "I have to be very careful about not prejudging these events before investigations are completed because, although these are issues of local jurisdiction, the [Department of Justice] works for me and when they're conducting an investigation I've got to make sure that I don't look like I'm putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other," the president said.

People in positions of authority have an obligation to conduct themselves with reason and restraint. Whether or not the Ferguson police have lived up to that duty, the president, in his public statements on the crisis, has.

News Scan

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Chicago Experiencing Crime Drop: Police in Chicago, Illinois have announced that the city has experienced a sharp decrease in crime as more residents have begun arming themselves after the state started granting concealed carry permits earlier this year.  Kelly Riddell of The Washington Times reports that the city has seen a decrease in burglaries and robberies, and Chicago's homicide rate was at a 56-year low.  Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, believes that the decreases are directly linked to the state allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons. 

Murderer Avoids Death Penalty: A Florida man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being charged in multiple killings.  Larry Hannan of the Florida Times-Union reports that 29-year-old DeShawn Green was able to avoid a death sentence for the third time last week after prosecutors elected to drop first-degree murder charges out of fear that a possible acquittal could jeopardize his prior two murder convictions.  Green was originally sentenced to death for a 2009 murder but the judge overruled the jury and gave him life without parole instead.

TX National Guard to Begin Patrolling Border: Roughly 1,000 Texas National Guard troops have been deployed to the Mexican border in an effort to combat escalating crime rates in the area.  Reuters reports that Texas Governor Rick Perry advised the troops that they were being deployed to the border region to deter criminal activity. Perry estimates that deploying the troops will cost the state at least $12 million a month. Texas border cities have been overwhelmed with immigrants flooding the state's borders since late 2013, causing escalating crime.

The Only Thing That Actually Counts

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The shooting in Ferguson, Mo. has been the launching pad for all manner of expounding about pre-existing agendas.  Libertarians have used it to urge the disarming of the police (called "demilitarization" for their present purposes); liberals have used it to push for legalizing dope; anti-white racists have used it to demand reparations ("reparations" being the word that radicals of one race use to promote appropriating money they did nothing to earn from people of a different race who did nothing to bring about the practices they condemn).

All this is the expected, if not exactly wholesome, reaction of a society that encourages free speech.  But it deflects  --  and is largely designed to deflect  -- from the one thing that actually counts.

There's Only So Much You Can Do

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I've done my share of criticizing the defense bar.  As I see the world, the problem is (1) the client is almost always factually guilty, therefore (2) the only way to an acquittal on the merits is through some sort of sleight-of-hand, but (3) doing sleight-of-hand day after day doesn't seem to be a real wholesome way to conduct one's career.

That said, most defense lawyers I know are good human beings, and sometimes they really are the heroes of civil liberties they claim.  Even when doing the routine case, however, the heart of the problem isn't the lawyer.  It's the client.

I mean, what exactly are you supposed to do when the fellow who shows up in your office is this guy?

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