Federal Appeals Court Refuses to Lift Immigration Hold: A request from Justice Department lawyers allowing President Obama to enforce his immigration actions pending appeal has been denied by a federal appeals court. Ariane de Vogue of CNN reports that the decision, a victory for 26 states that have challenged the president's executive actions, means that "eligible undocumented immigrants will be unable to apply for the programs aimed at easing deportation threats." Lawyers for the Justice Department and the White House are evaluating the ruling together to determine the next steps.
Taliban 5 Free to Travel Soon: The five leaders of the Taliban traded one year ago for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and under heavy supervision in Qatar ever since, are approaching the end of their terms for supervised release and could be free to travel as early as Monday. Fox News reports that the Obama administration has discussed extending the security measures for the "Taliban 5" with Qatari officials, but "it's unclear if any restrictions will remain in place after the end of the month." Congressional lawmakers are concerned that the former Guantanamo detainees will rejoin the battlefield in Afghanistan. In March, a government official revealed that at least three of the five members have tried reconnecting with their former terrorist networks.
Shooting Spree at ND Wal-Mart: A North Dakota Wal-Mart Supercenter was the scene of a shooting early Tuesday when a U.S. airman opened fire with a handgun inside the store, killing one worker and injuring another before killing himself. The AP reports that 21-year-old Marcell Willis, an airman stationed at the Grand Forks Air Force Base located about 12 miles west of the Wal-Mart, has no known connection to any of the victims. Law enforcement says that at this time, Willis' motive is unknown.
Tougher Punishment for Child Porn Offenders: New York state Senator Tim Kennedy has introduced legislation that would toughen the penalties for those in possession or in promotion of child pornography, increasing the maximum jail time from four years to seven. Katie Gibas of Time Warner Cable News reports that Kennedy and law enforcement officials emphasize the necessity of stiffer penalties for such offenders because "up to 40 percent of criminals arrested for child pornography have also personally victimized a child." Kennedy is confident the legislation will be approved.
Crime Spike in NYC Tourist Areas: Shootings and murders are up in New York City, spilling over from outer boroughs to Manhattan tourist areas. Juliet Papas of CBS reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio believes that gang-on-gang crime is to blame for the spike, but former FBI agent and NYPD sergeant Manny Gomez says that the upswing in violence "gives us pause to believe there is something that is just not right in the city's policing system right now." Popular tourist spots in the city, such as Radio City Music Hall's area of Midtown North Precinct, have seen murders increase 28.6 percent, while robberies in Central Park are up 125 percent.
FIFA Officials Indicted by US: Fourteen world soccer leaders, including officials from the international Federation of Football Associations (FIFA), have been charged by the U.S. with racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud, revealed in a 47-count indictment from the Justice Department. Michael E. Miller and Fred Barbash of the Washington Post report that the allegations involve "kickbacks" to FIFA officials by sports marketing executives and companies, and bribes in connection with both the selection of the 2010 World Cup's host country and FIFA's presidential election in 2011. Four of the accused have already pleaded guilty of the charges.
But anyone who wants to know the name of the perp can find out easily. Here are the first two paragraphs of the opinion from March 31:
In 1984, a house in California was burglarized and a number of items were stolen. K.H. and M.H. resided there with M.H.'s young children, a live-in babysitter, L.R., and her daughter. Petitioner John Doe,1 who was living at the time in a vacant house adjacent to the property, was arrested in connection with the burglary, but then released.Go to Lexis, limit to California, and search for "babysitter & strangled & vibrator" and the California Supreme Court's opinion on direct appeal, with the perp's real name, pops up. If you don't have Lexis or one of its competitors, the same can be done with Google Scholar case law.
Soon after, while K.H. and M.H. were not at home, their house was burglarized again. L.R. was murdered, having been beaten, stabbed, and strangled. Her body was found supine on the bed in the master bedroom, with her hands bound behind her back. She was naked from the waist down, with her legs open, and a vibrator near her body. A number of items were stolen.
Today the Ninth Circuit denied rehearing en banc and reiterated its reasons for the "John Doe."
Will the U.S. Supreme Court take the case? It's an uphill battle to get them to take a pre-AEDPA, fact-bound, ineffective assistance case, but it's not out of the question. The opinion is written by the frequently reversed Judge Reinhardt, and that's always a plus.
But some lawmakers said they still believed the veto could be sustained -- and at least one senator who previously voted for the repeal said Tuesday he had changed his mind.For opposing repeal efforts nationwide, it is important that supporters of the death penalty take an active stance in pushing reforms, not just opposing repeal. The opponents are getting their swing votes with the argument that we aren't enforcing it anyway, so it's just a waste of money. The answer must be to push the reforms that will get it enforced.
"You wouldn't see an effort like this if all hope was lost," said Sen. Beau McCoy, an Omaha Republican who supports capital punishment.
Sen. Jerry Johnson, a Republican who voted for the repeal, said he decided to switch votes because he believes the new governor's administration needs more time to carry out an execution. Johnson said he took calls all weekend from constituents who support the death penalty.
One simple reform would speed things up substantially in states that have not yet reformed their successive petition rules. Adopt the rule endorsed by a plurality of the Supreme Court in Kuhlmann v. Wilson (1986) that no prisoner will get consideration of a second collateral review petition unless he supplements his petition with a colorable showing of actual innocence.
Baltimore's Deadliest Month in 15 Years: Over the weekend in Baltimore, 29 people were shot - nine of them fatally - in what has become the city's deadliest month since 1999. Fox News reports that violence has been reported in every part of the city and no neighborhood is immune. In the month of May alone, 35 people have been murdered, with a total of 108 homicides for the year.
Border Still Wide Open: Border Patrol agents have been trying, in vain, to stop the flow of illegals but "open border initiatives" have allowed for the continuous flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across our southern border with Mexico. Bob Casimiro, former executive director of Massachusetts for Immigration Reform, has this piece in the Bangor Daily News describing two Arizona groups, the Arizona Border Defendants and the Arizona Border Recon, trying to secure the border by "augmenting what the Border Patrol does." It is estimated that only 30 percent of illegal aliens that cross the border are apprehended.
Death Penalty for Sex Traffickers?: A Utah lawmaker has proposed legislation that would extend capital punishment to child-sex traffickers. Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Rep. Paul Ray, who sponsored the measure that reinstated the firing squad as the state's backup execution method, believes that sex traffickers need to face harsher punishment with a stronger deterrent effect. Civil-liberties groups oppose the measure, claiming that the death penalty will not deter child-sex traffickers.
Cleveland Agrees to New Rules for Police: Under an agreement with the Justice Department, the city of Cleveland will have its police department overseen by an independent monitor and require its officers to adhere with strict new rules on the use of force. Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post reports that the agreement, followed Justice Department findings that the city's police "engaged in unnecessary and excessive use of force," requires oversight by a community police commission and a mental health response advisory committee. The agreement is court-enforceable.
B.B. King's Death Investigated As Homicide: A homicide investigation is underway in the death of blues legend B.B. King, whose two daughters have filed affidavits alleging that he was intentionally poisoned. Justin Wm. Moyer of the Washington Post reports that the late musician's daughters, Patty King and Karen Williams, believe that Patricia Toney, King's longtime business agent who has the power of attorney in this case, may be responsible. King died at the age of 89 on May 14 and the results of his autopsy, which was performed on Sunday, will be available in approximately eight weeks.
The Internal Revenue Service said identity thieves used its online services to obtain prior-year tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households, a major setback for the agency that is charged with safeguarding taxpayers' privacy.
The IRS said criminals used stolen Social Security numbers and other specific data acquired from elsewhere to gain unauthorized access to the tax agency accounts. About 100,000 more attempts were unsuccessful, the agency said.
The State's Brief in Opposition is here.
The Court also took up a federal case, Lockhart v. United States, No. 14-8358. The question relates to sex offenses triggering a mandatory minimum under federal sentencing law.
The Court decided three civil cases.
Generally in May and early June the Supreme Court announces opinions only on Mondays (and the Monday-like Tuesday after Memorial Day), so we expect opinions again on Monday, June 1.
Big for his age at 14, Jack Lucas begged his mother to help him enlist after Pearl Harbor. She collaborated in lying about his age in return for his promise to someday finish school. After training at Parris Island, he was sent to Honolulu. When his unit boarded a troop ship for Iwo Jima, Mr. Lucas was ordered to remain behind for guard duty. He stowed away to be with his friends and, discovered two days out at sea, convinced his commanding officer to put him in a combat unit rather than the brig. He had just turned 17 when he hit the beach, and a day later he was fighting in a Japanese trench when he saw two grenades land near his comrades.
He threw himself onto the grenades and absorbed the explosion. Later a medic, assuming he was dead, was about to take his dog tag when he saw Mr. Lucas's finger twitch. After months of treatment and recovery, he returned to school as he'd promised his mother, a ninth-grader wearing a Medal of Honor around his neck.
[T]he Cleveland police declined to tolerate lawlessness. Paula Bolyard of PJ Media reports:
Cleveland police were taking no chances in the wake of the acquittal of police officer Michael Brelo, going to great lengths to ensure that Saturday afternoon's peaceful protests didn't evolve into violent riots like Baltimore and Ferguson have experienced in recent months.
In addition to having the National Guard on standby, police followed protesters through the streets and arrested anyone who acted violently or refused to obey police orders to disperse. A total of 71 people were arrested. . . .
Just as important is passing on our traditions and values to succeeding generations. In this photo, Scouts place flags on graves at the Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Click on the photo for a larger view.
Of the criminal charges proposed by Marilyn Mosby, the state's attorney for Baltimore, in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, three are notably missing from the indictments approved by a grand jury today. The Washington Post reports that "charges of false imprisonment against three of the officers are no longer part of the case." That change presumably reflects the dispute over whether the knife Gray was carrying, which was the official justification for his arrest, qualified as an illegal switchblade.
Judging from the way police described Gray's knife ("a spring-assisted, one-hand-operated knife"), it did not fit the state's definition of a switchblade (as Mosby noted) and probably did not fit the city's definition either. But the latter point--which Mosby did not publicly address, even though Gray was charged with violating the city ordinance--is open to debate, which suggests that the officers who arrested him might reasonably have believed the knife was illegal. If so, they could not be convicted of false imprisonment, since to arrest Gray they needed only probable cause to believe he had broken the law.
Police Officer Killed Hours Before Maternity Leave: An Omaha police officer was shot and killed by a fugitive on Wednesday, just hours before she was to go on maternity leave. Fox News reports that 29-year-old Kerrie Orozco was part of the city's fugitive taskforce and had closed in on 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler, a fugitive with a felony arrest warrant who then opened fire at Orozco and other officers. Orozco had given birth to a premature baby girl in February, postponing her maternity leave until the baby's release from the hospital, which was the day after she was killed. The shooting suspect was also fatally shot.
Transgender Inmate's Surgery Delayed: Hours after a California panel recommended parole for convicted killer Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, a federal appeals court delayed his sex reassignment surgery, making it unlikely that he will receive prison-funded surgery before his release. Don Thompson of the AP reports that the state contested a lower court judge's ruling that Norsworthy receive the surgery as soon as possible, but now it could be delayed for months while the appellate court considers the case. Corrections officials are "pleased that the delay will let the appeals court review the merits of the state's appeal." Norsworthy's attorneys argue that the denial of his surgery amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
Six Baltimore Officers Indicted: A grand jury decided to indict all six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, allowing the criminal prosecution to proceed. The AP reports that the officers' attorneys believe that Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby should be replaced with an independent prosecutor, arguing the current prosecution as "overzealous."
Two ISIS Recruits Arrested in LA: Two men were arrested by the FBI in Southern California yesterday, one at the Los Angeles International Airport, on suspicion of terrorism related charges. Andrew Blankstein of NBC News reports that Muhanad Badawi and Nader Elhuzayel of Anaheim were allegedly planning to travel abroad and join the Islamic State terrorist group, known as ISIS. Two search warrants were also served in relation to the charges.
Suspect In DC Homicide Charged: Daron Dylon Wint, suspected of murdering a Washington businessman, his family, and their housekeeper last week and setting their mansion on fire in an extortion scheme, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Greg Botelho, Mary Kay Mallonee, and Ed Payne of CNN report that Wint was apprehended Thursday while traveling from a Maryland hotel to Washington D.C. in a car with two women alongside a box truck driven by his brother and two other men. At least $10,000 was discovered during the arrest. The other five individuals were arrested but have not been charged. Wint is set to make his first court appearance on Friday afternoon.
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- New, horrifying details are surfacing about what happened inside the Savopoulos mansion near Vice President Joe Biden's house before the murders.
A law enforcement source tell WUSA9's Bruce Leshan that detectives now believe the killers tortured the 10-year-old boy, Phillip Savopoulos, in the effort to get money out of his father.
Police believe the killers were in the house for about 10 hours, and that they successfully forced the Savopoulos family to get them tens of thousands of dollars. Someone may have actually had to go out and get the cash while the rest of the family and their housekeeper were held hostage.
The prime suspect in this grotesque crime is one Daron Dylan Wint.
Was Wint a stranger to the criminal justice system? Not exactly.
[I]ndiscriminately attributing all of the ills displayed in recent events in cities to Broken Windows risks taking us back decades in our attempts to improve public safety and quality of life for all citizens....
There's every reason to believe de-policing high-crime minority neighborhoods would be a disaster. We tried it in the past, and it's taken decades for us to regain control of public spaces, and even now some neighborhoods remain under threat.
No surprise there, but this was eye-opening:
[W]hile some have argued that Broken-Windows policing results in higher incarceration rates, research indicates that police crime-prevention methods, including Broken Windows, have actually reduced mass incarceration.
In New York City, both prison commitments and jailings declined substantially between 1992 and 2013 -- prison by 69 percent; jailing by 45 percent.
Baltimore logged its 100th murder of the year on Thursday morning, hitting the milestone after recording more than a murder per day in the month following Freddie Gray's death.
The massive increase in homicide, shootings, and violent crime comes as arrests have plummeted to their lowest levels all year. In the week before Gray died, 682 people were arrested. In the last week of available data, 339 people were arrested.
The Western District, where Gray was arrested, is the center of the crime boom. Homicides are up 200 percent compared to this time last year; non-fatal shootings have risen 800 percent; robberies of varying types 100 to 300 percent.
Forbes ranked Baltimore the seventh most dangerous city in the country. My strong guess is that, this year, it will be moving "up."
Despite more crime, there are far fewer arrests in the district. In fact, at least three days in May saw no arrests.
NE Bill Abolishing Death Penalty Approved: A bill abolishing the death penalty was approved on Wednesday by Nebraska's legislature with a 32 to 15 vote. The AP reports that Governor Pete Ricketts promises to veto the bill, although there may be enough votes in favor of the bill to possibly override a veto.Parolee Found Guilty of Investigator's Murder: Paroled sex offender Randy Alana was convicted Wednesday of murder, second-degree robbery, auto theft and grand theft for the 2013 killing of Sandra Coke, a federal defense investigator from Oakland. Henry K. Lee of SF Gate reports that the jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Alana guilty. Alana, who had previously dated the victim and was the father of her teenage daughter, was out on parole and being tracked by authorities with a GPS anklet in August 2013 when he strangled Coke and dumped her body in Vacaville, because she called his parole agent.
Man Who Landed Gyrocopter At Capitol Faces Nine Years: The man who landed his one-man gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol last month to protest campaign finance could face over nine years in prison. Warner Todd Huston of Breitbart reports that Douglas Hughes, a mail carrier from Florida, flew through restricted airspace on April 15 before landing on the west lawn of the Capitol building, and was arrested immediately. He has been indicted on six charges by a federal grand jury, including violation of national defense airspace and violation of aircraft registration requirements.
Bill that Loosens Execution Restrictions Passes House: A North Carolina bill, which passed the House and is under consideration in the Senate, would permit other medical professionals to oversee executions, not just licensed physicians. The Daily Tar Heel reports that House Bill 774 was created in response to physicians' growing unwillingness since 2007 to participate in executions, when the North Carolina Medical Board banned providers from giving lethal injections. Although the state Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the board could not revoke physicians' licenses, physicians in the state have still been hesitant. The bill would extend execution participation to physician assistants, registered nurses, nurse practitioners and emergency medical technicians, but a licensed physician would still be required to pronounce an inmate dead.
Suspect Named In Quadruple Murder: Police have identified a suspect in last week's quadruple homicide of a wealthy couple, their 10-year-old son, and their housekeeper that occurred in one of Washington D.C.'s poshest neighborhoods, just down the street from the Vice President's residence. Fox News reports that Daron Dylon Wint, a career criminal whose DNA was found on pizza crust left at the crime scene, is believed to have held the family hostage on the evening of May 13 while coordinating the delivery of $40,000 in cash, then killed them and set their mansion ablaze before fleeing in the couple's Porsche, which was also torched. Law enforcement believes Wint is hiding out in Brooklyn and have expanded their manhunt.
The conservative case against capital punishment, which 32 states have, is threefold. First, the power to inflict death cloaks government with a majesty and pretense of infallibility discordant with conservatism.
Second, when capital punishment is inflicted, it cannot later be corrected because of new evidence, so a capital punishment regime must be administered with extraordinary competence. It is, however, a government program. Since 1973, more than 140 people sentenced to death have been acquitted of their crimes (sometimes by DNA evidence), had the charges against them dismissed by prosecutors or have been pardoned based on evidence of innocence....
Third, administration of death sentences is so sporadic and protracted that their power to deter is attenuated. And the expensive, because labyrinthine, legal protocols with which the judiciary has enveloped capital punishment are here to stay.
Let's start from the beginning.
[T]he question before Congress is not whether to reauthorize or prohibit the bulk telephone records program that has garnered so much attention. It is whether to reauthorize Section 215 itself. This authority was enacted after 9/11 to remedy the problem that officers conducting foreign intelligence investigations of international terrorism and espionage did not have a basic investigative tool available even in ordinary criminal investigations. The telephone records program conducted by the NSA is only one application of that authority. If Congress allows Section 215 to expire, it will not just eliminate that program; it will do away entirely with an essential investigative tool.
Police Oppose Obama's Military Equipment Ban: Law enforcement agencies nationwide will no longer be provided with certain military equipment by the federal government under President Obama's executive order. Genny McLaren of Fox 40 reports that Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones calls the ban the president's "latest missive," reinforcing the administration's attitude that "local police and sheriff's departments are incapable of effectively and fairly providing public safety." The equipment ban includes tracked armored vehicles and a lot of stuff police don't use like 50 caliber weapons and ammunition, certain camouflage clothing, bayonets, weaponized aircraft and grenade launchers.
Report Links Auto Thefts To Realignment: The Public Policy
Institute of California released a report on Tuesday suggesting the state's
AB 109 Realignment law, which released thousands of felons from prison, resulted in increased auto
thefts but had no impact on violent crime. The report, which relies on 2013 data, left out 2014 data reported by the LA Times showing the state prison population increasing due to increased convictions for violent and serious felonies, and also missed the Los Angeles Police Chief's March 24, 2015 statement that violent crime has increased 26% in his city so far this year.
Trove Of Bin Laden Documents Released: A trove of documents recovered during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in 2011 have been released to the public by U.S. Intelligence, revealing Al Qaeda's operations. Fox News reports that included among the documents are letters, accounting information, and application forms from prospective members. One document in particular warned that the "motives that led to 9/11 are still there." The Office of the Director of National Intelligence says they will review hundreds more documents for possible declassification and release.
Development Of San
Quentin's Land Debated: The $18
million project to demolish and rebuild San Quentin State Prison's boiler
house, which is non-compliant with the Bay Area's air emissions regulations, is
reigniting the debate over whether the aging prison should stay or go. KTVU reports that a global property
strategist says that the land occupied by the prison could sell for "at least a
billion," and transform the facility into a revenue generator rather than an
economic drain. Inmates are against the
relocation, however, citing their proximity to the courts and tech companies who
send in volunteers as their reasons for wanting to stay put.
Bandidos Biker Gang Allied With Drug Cartel: The Bandidos, one of the biker gangs involved in the shootout at a Texas restaurant Sunday, has been identified by the FBI as a longtime affiliate of the violent Mexican cartel Los Zetas. Ildefonso Ortiz of Breitbart reports that the Bandidos coordinate drug smuggling operations with international drug-trafficking organizations such as Los Zetas, in which they manufacture, transport, and distribute marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine. The gang's ties to the cartels provide them with a steady flow of drugs that "make up the majority of the gangs profits."
It has been getting easier by the day for politicians to talk about fixing the nation's broken criminal justice system. But when states in the Deep South, which have long had some of the country's harshest penal systems, make significant sentencing and prison reforms, you know something has changed.
Khalid Al Fawwaz was sentenced today for his part in the 1998 Embassy Bombing plot. He received three life sentences and a ten-year sentence, concurrent. And Judge Kaplan added this:
The Court makes the following recommendation to the Department of Justice: The Court is mindful of the fact that defendant may have the ability to apply to the U.S. Department of Justice under the international prisoner transfer program to be allowed to serve some or all of his sentence in another nation. Although a decision on any such application, if one is made, would be up to the Department of Justice, the Court strongly recommends that any such application be denied. The defendant has been convicted of very serious crimes against American citizens. His punishment ought to be served in, and more particularly, always remain under the control of the United States of America.Now that's refreshing to hear from a federal judge.
In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case. In 1983, he was acquitted by a jury after his alleged co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify in court (resulting in a jail sentence for Borders).
In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413-3. He was then convicted in 1989 by the United States Senate (also controlled by the Democrats), becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate.
But Judge Hastings is a superb politician, and got himself elected to Congress in 1992. He's still there -- but as he tells us, just getting by.
People in the nation's capital no longer have to show a good reason to get a permit to carry concealed handguns outside their homes and businesses.
The District of Columbia's police chief said Tuesday that she's dropping this requirement, a centerpiece of the city's handgun-control legislation, after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against it.
How about being in a jurisdiction where the murder rate is many times higher than the national average and among the highest of all American cities? Doesn't everyone in the District have a "good reason"?
The Supreme Court has mandated since 1978 that the defendant can proffer to the jury any aspect of his character, background, or record that he wants to argue as mitigating. When he does, there are actually three decisions to be made. (1) Is the factor factually true? (2) If so, is it actually mitigating? (3) If so, how much weight should it be given?
It seems to me that there is not enough attention given to the second step. Supposedly mitigating factor 16 on page 18, for example is, "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's mother facilitated his brother Tamerlan's radicalization." Ten jurors found that factually true. How many considered it mitigating? Did all 10 understand they could find it true and still say "So what? That's not mitigating."
These kinds of failures to make clear to the jury the nature of what they are supposed to be deciding were held to be unconstitutional when they ran against the defendant many years ago. But ambiguities and omissions that run in the defendant's favor apparently go uncorrected.
The jurors probably get to the right end result in any case. In the weighing process, jurors may find that a true factor gets zero weight if it is not mitigating. Still, I would like to see this cleaned up.