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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Earlier posts on this case:
The Lackey Claim, Again
Summing up the Jones Death Penalty Case
Why Jones v. Chappell is Wrong, Part 2
Why Jones v. Chappell is Wrong, Part 3 -- Teague v. Lane
Time to Appeal Jones v. Chappell, Ms. Harris
Does a California District Attorney Have Standing to Intervene in a Federal Habeas Corpus Case?
Further Strange Developments in Jones v. Chappell
The Attorney General said in a press release, "I am appealing the court's decision because it is not supported by the law, and it undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants. This flawed ruling requires appellate review." Undermines important protections? Well, certainly "not supported by the law," "flawed," and "requires appellate review" are correct. With apologies to Meatloaf, three out of four ain't bad.
Arias Granted Delay in Penalty Phase Retrial: An Arizona judge has delayed the penalty phase retrial of convicted killer Jodi Arias until September 29. Brian Skoloff of the Associated Press reports that Arias, who is acting as her own attorney, asked the judge to delay her trial in order to have more time to prepare. Arias was convicted last year of killing her ex-boyfriend and faced a possible death sentence, however, the jury presiding over her case was unable to reach a unanimous sentencing decision. Under Arizona law, prosecutors are allowed to hold a second penalty phase trial with a new jury in death penalty cases-if this jury also fails to reach a unanimous decision, Arias will automatically be sentenced to 25 years to life.
Sex Offender Charged in Brutal Attack: A New York man has been charged with attempted murder after authorities say he pulled a woman into the woods and repeatedly stabbed her. CBS Albany reports that 50-year-old James Sayers, a convicted sex offender, followed the woman for nearly a mile before attacking the woman and stabbing her so many times that his knife eventually broke. A warrant had been issued for Sayers arrest shortly after the attack when his parole officer discovered that he had removed his electronic monitoring device, he had just been released from prison and put on parole in May after serving a sentence for robbery.
Eric Holder's Justice Department is in Missouri, some 50 strong according to Megyn Kelly, to investigate the shooting of Michael Brown and to decide whether to charge police officer Darren Wilson with civil rights crimes. The investigation and decision is in the hands of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.
How much confidence can Americans have in the fairness and objectivity of this unit? The answer, I submit, is little if any.
Christian Adams at PJ Media has been covering the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division for years. PJ Media had to file a lawsuit to obtain the resumes of the lawyers Holder has brought into that group. According to Adams, it turned out that every one of his hires is a left-wing activist, and that some have histories of anti-police activity.
What follows is a hair-raising rundown of the background of the lawyers who will be running the grand jury. The short of it is that they're a bunch of far left ideologues.
If you thought the Rick Perry indictment was a creature of politics, you're right. But I fear it was just a rehearsal.
The strange case of Jones v. Chappell, got a little stranger on August 11. It was curious enough with the district judge's order, noted here and in several posts since. Then the PACER docket shows a notice of appeal filed August 11 by Jones, which is curious, since the ruling appealed from is in his favor. Even more curious is that when you download the actual document it isn't by Jones at all. Or by Chappell. The appeal is filed by "Mr. Emery D. Soos, Jr. and Dr. Robert V. Justice, Citizens of the State of California."
Um, nice try, guys. The Court of Appeals is not amused. "By August 26, 2014, non-parties Emery Soos and Robert Justice shall move in this Court for voluntary dismissal of this appeal or explain in writing why the appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction due to their lack of standing to appeal."
August 26, interestingly, is the day after the deadline for the actual respondent to appeal, and given that there is not a single legitimate reason not to there should be a bona fide appeal in the Ninth Circuit on that date.
Convicted Cop Killers Denied Parole: The Ohio Parole Board has once again denied release for two men convicted of murdering a Cincinnati Police Officer in 1978. Brad Evans of WLWT News reports that both men were originally sentenced to death for the crime, but that sentence was reduced to life behind bars by the state's Supreme Court. Both men will be eligible for parole again in May 2019.
CA High Court Upholds Death Sentence: In a unanimous ruling, California's Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding the death penalty verdict for convicted killer Gene McCurdy. Lewis Griswold of the Fresno Bee reports that McCurdy was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering an 8-year-old girl nearly two decades ago. McCurdy appealed his ruling based on the claim that statements given to detectives during the interview process should have been suppressed and that instructions given to the jury prior to sentencing were faulty.
This is a common outcome in such cases. The Supreme Court seemed poised to decide the "actual innocence" question in Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993), but when it took a good, hard look at the evidence it saw that it fell "far short" of anything that might conceivably warrant overturning a conviction. In the infamous Troy Davis case, the high court took the extraordinary step of sending an original habeas petition to a district court for fact-finding on innocence, where the district judge found that Davis's claim of innocence was "smoke and mirrors."
The new petition is number 14-191.
Convicted Killer Granted Stay of Execution: An Ohio man sentenced to death after being convicted of killing his two young children and former mother-in-law has been granted a stay of execution. The Canton Rep reports that James Mammone was scheduled to be executed on March 8, 2017, the stay will remain in effect until he has exhausted all post-conviction court proceedings and appeals. Mammone recently asked the court reconsider his murder convictions and death sentence, however, the court ruled by a vote of 6-1 to uphold both the verdict and sentence.
CA High Court Upholds Death Sentence: In a unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court upheld the conviction and death sentence of a man who killed a young woman more than two decades ago. Marjorie Hernandez of the Ventura County Star reports that Justin Merriman, a documented skinhead gang member, was sentenced to death in 2001 for the rape and murder of a Southern California college student. Merriman challenged his conviction and sentence based on a claim of juror misconduct and evidence errors.