Lest We Forget

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MemorialDayCubSoldier.jpg
Let us all take a moment today to remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion to the cause of freedom.

Insomnia Is for Our Enemies

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This is off topic, but too good to pass up.

Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis let one journalist know how accurate his fearless reputation apparently is.

In a wide-ranging interview with CBS' John Dickerson, Mattis was asked, "What keeps you awake at night?"

Without a second to consider, Mattis responded: "Nothing. I keep other people awake at night."

I've been in Washington for over forty years, and that's the best answer I ever heard.

I've often said that Heather Mac Donald is the best in the business for analyzing policy about police practices and sentencing.  She proves it again in her May 25 piece from the Wall Street Journal.  I'll give a three paragraph teaser:

No one who gets caught smoking a joint is going to be implicated by Mr. Sessions's order [requiring prosecutors ordinarily to charge the most serious readily provable offense]. The number of federal convictions for simple possession is negligible: only 198 in 2015. Most of those were plea-bargained down from trafficking charges, usually of marijuana. Last year the median weight of marijuana possessed by those convicted of simple possession was 48.5 pounds. To trigger a mandatory penalty for marijuana trafficking, a dealer would need to be caught with more than 2,200 pounds of cannabis.

[T]he idea that Mr. Sessions's memo will exacerbate racial disparities in prison does not stand up to the facts. Drug enforcement is not the cause of those disparities. In 2014, 37.4% of state and federal prisoners were black. If all drug prisoners--who are virtually all dealers--had been released, the share of black prisoners would have dropped to 37.2%. What truly causes racial disparities in incarceration is racial disparities in violent crime.

Likewise, it is America's higher violent-crime rates overall, not drug enforcement, that cause the country's higher incarceration rates compared with other Western industrialized countries. The U.S. homicide rate is seven times the average of 21 Western developed nations plus Japan; the U.S. gun homicide rate is 19.5 times that average. Americans ages 15 to 24 kill with guns at nearly 43 times the rate of their counterparts in those same industrialized nations.

News Scan

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Man Pleads to 7 Murders to Avoid Death Penalty:  Todd Kohlhepp, arrested last year for keeping a woman chained in a storage container after killing her boyfriend, has pleaded guilty to murdering 6 others in South Carolina to avoid a death sentence.  CBS News reports that under the plea agreement, Kohlhepp will be sentenced to 7 life terms, plus 60 years for the murders, sexual assault, and other charges.  The woman, who Kohlhepp kept chained for two months as a sex slave, said that he told her "as long as I served my purpose, I was safe."  He was released from an Arizona prison in 2001 after serving 14 years for the kidnap and rape of a 14-year-old girl at gunpoint.  Kohlhepp was 15 when he committed those crimes.

LA Sweep Nabs 188 Criminal Aliens:  A 5-day operation by ICE agents targeting criminal aliens has resulted in the arrest of 188 illegal immigrants, 90% of which had prior convictions.  Sarah Parvini and Joel Rubin of the Los Angeles Times report that those arrested had illegally immigrated from 11 countries with the majority (146) from Mexico.  Among the crimes committed by them were drug dealing, domestic violence, DUI, sexual assault, burglary, fraud, auto theft, larceny, manslaughter, prostitution, and incest.  "By taking these individuals off the streets and removing them from the country, we're making our communities safer for everyone," said an ICE official.  While nationally arrests by ICE are up 35%, the number of arrests in Los Angeles are about the same as last year. 

Rape Victim Threatened With Deportation:  A Baltimore defense attorney representing an accused rapist is facing charges for intimidating the victim from testifying with threats that she would be deported.  Katie Mettler of The Washington Post reports that in addition to telling the victim that ICE agents would likely be in the courtroom when she testified and "You know how things are with Trump's laws now," attorney Christos Vasiliades offered the woman and her husband $3,000 if she avoided the trial and his client's case was thrown out.  Apparently acknowledging that his client was guilty, he told the couple that instead of participating in the trial, they should track him down and "kick his ass."

Eighth Time's the Charm

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Hit man and repeat murderer Thomas Arthur was finally executed in Alabama last night after dodging seven prior execution dates.   Kim Chandler has this story for AP.

Arthur filed a last-minute petition in the U.S. Supreme Court, and Justice Thomas (the assigned Circuit Justice for the Eleventh Circuit, including Alabama) granted a temporary stay while the Court considered it.  The Court lifted the stay and denied relief barely in time for the execution to be carried out before the warrant expired at midnight.

The petition had to do with the state's use of midazolam as the first drug of the protocol.  An additional wrinkle was the defendant's request for his lawyer to have a cell phone to make a call if things went badly.  Justice Sotomayor dissented alone.

The midazolam problem is entirely artificial and entirely unnecessary.  The federal government needs to bring down the barriers that are presently preventing the states from importing barbiturates from willing suppliers in Asia.  Is anyone in the government paying attention?

Update:  Kim Chandler and Jay Reeves have this follow-up story for AP on racing the clock.

A Welcome Change

The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs has this post with the above title:

As the nation gets ready for Memorial Day, a day to remember the people who died while serving in the nation's armed forces, the past week signaled a welcome change in attitude towards law enforcement from the highest leadership in the nation. From the symbolic act of lighting the White House in blue during that week to an executive action directing a review of federal law that could lead to legislation making it a federal crime to attack law enforcement officers, there has been a sea of change in support for law enforcement.
 
Under the prior administration, law enforcement was often in the crosshairs of a rush to judgment. The pattern that started from the first days with the knee jerk condemnation of Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley for "acting stupidly," and continued non-stop with the invitation to the White House of a rapper who had a song dedicated to a fugitive cop killer, or using a police memorial service to defend anti-police protestors and lecture on criminal justice "reform" and gun control. 
Kent noted today's travel ban case, decided in an opinion written by Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the Fourth Circuit.

There is an interesting story about how Judge Gregory got his job.  It contains a warning for Republicans.
One thing that really makes my eyes roll is seeing someone state the question presented in a case in a way that assumes one side of a hotly disputed point and then phrases the "question" as something that no one would dispute based on that assumption.  It's bad enough when advocates do it.  It is inexcusable for a judge to do it.  For the majority of a U.S. Court of Appeals en banc to join an opinion doing that is a head-shaker.  The Fourth Circuit opinion in the travel ban case, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, No. 17-1351, begins:

The question for this Court, distilled to its essential form, is whether the Constitution, as the Supreme Court declared in Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2, 120 (1866), remains "a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace." And if so, whether it protects Plaintiffs' right to challenge an Executive Order that in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.
I don't have time at present to write up a complete analysis of the opinion, but right out of the gate this seems to call for Supreme Court review.

Restitution

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In People v. Martinez (S219970), the defendant's vehicle collided with a 12-year old boy riding on a scooter.  The defendant got out of his truck to check on the boy.  When the boy's mother rushed to the scene, the defendant got back into his truck and left.  The boy sustained multiple broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.  The defendant was uninsured, unlicensed, and on felony probation.  The defendant was soon located and voluntarily came forward admitting his involvement in the accident.

The defendant was charged with one felony count of leaving the scene of an accident (Calif. Vehicle Code 20001(a)).  He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 3-years imprisonment.  At sentencing, the boy's mother stated that her son hit the defendant's truck and that it was an accident.  The defendant stated that the boy failed to stop his scooter and ran into his truck.  No findings were made regarding the defendant's responsibility for the accident.

The trial court later ordered the defendant to pay $425,654.63 in restitution to the victim's family for medical costs the boy incurred as a result of the accident.  On appeal, the defendant argued, and the Court of Appeal agreed, that
 
because defendant was not convicted for any offense involving responsibility for the actual accident and no factual determination of his responsibility for the collision or the victim's injuries has been made, the court erred in ordering restitution to the victim for treatment of the injuries he received as a result of the accident. 

Today the California Supreme Court also agreed with the defendant holding:

Where, as here, a criminal defendant is convicted and sentenced to state prison, section 1202.4 of the Penal Code (section 1202.4) provides that the defendant must pay restitution directly to the victim for losses incurred "as a result of the commission of a crime" (§1202.4, subd. (a)(1); see People v. Giordano (2007) 42 Cal.4th 644, 651-52 ("Giordano").)  "To the extent possible," direct victim restitution is to be ordered in an amount "sufficient to fully reimburse the victim or victims for every determined economic loss incurred as the result of the defendant's criminal conduct." (§1202.4, subd. (f)(3).)  Application of these provisions depends on the relationship between the victim's loss and the defendant's crime. Here, defendant's crime was not being involved in a traffic accident, nor does his conviction imply that he was at fault in the accident.  Defendant's crime, rather, was leaving the scene of the accident without presenting identification or rendering aid.  Thus, under section 1202.4, the trial court was authorized to order restitution for those injuries that were caused or exacerbated by defendant's criminal flight from the scene of the accident, but it was not authorized to award restitution for injuries resulting from the accident itself.

  

News Scan

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KS High Court Upholds Capital Murder Conviction:  In a unanimous decision announced last Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man found guilty of the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl.  Justin Wingerter of the Topeka Capital Journal reports that on March 20, 2012, Billy Davis Jr. kidnapped the child from a sleepover at a friend's house, took her to the basement of his house, and then brutally raped, beat, and choked her to death.  Police later found the little girl's body in the basement stuffed in a dryer.  After his arrest, Davis admitted kidnapping and raping the girl but said he never intended to kill her.  He also admitted to burglarizing several apartments that night.  After Davis was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to LWOP, he appealed, arguing that he was too drunk and high on cocaine to have premeditated the murder.  The court rejected that claim.  

Typical Weekday in ChiTown--8 Shootings:  Four teenage boys were shot between 9:20 p.m. Wednesday night and 1:15 a.m. Thursday morning in Chicago, leaving one dead.  The Chicago Tribune reports that there were six other shootings Wednesday in the city's urban neighborhoods, but none of the victims have died so far.  The fatality was a 16-year-old boy shot in the head around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday on the city's South Side.
 

FBI Director Candidates

A couple of developments on the search for a new FBI Director, as reported in the WSJ:

Rebecca Ballhaus reports:

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, once a leading contender for FBI director, on Thursday withdrew himself from consideration for the post in a letter to President Donald Trump, citing the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The former Connecticut senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate works at the same law firm as Marc Kasowitz, whom Mr. Trump retained earlier this week to serve on a team of private attorneys representing him in the broad special-counsel probe of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election. "I do believe it would be best to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, given my role as senior counsel in the law firm of which Marc is the senior partner," Mr. Lieberman wrote in the letter dated Wednesday ....

Del Quentin Wilber reports:

Top Justice Department officials recently interviewed a former U.S. attorney to be the next FBI director, as the Trump administration continues its search for someone to lead the nation's top law enforcement agency.

That search has been less public during President Donald Trump's current overseas trip, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spoke last week with Ken Wainstein, a top national security official in the George W. Bush administration, according to a person familiar with the selection process.
Kent noted that an unrepentant terrorist will be honored in this year's NYC Puerto Rico Day parade (with Mayor de Blasio proudly marching in step).

Along those same lines, and also from the "you-can't-make-this-up" department, it now seems that Sydney plans to honor Black Lives Matter with a "peace" prize.


The Black Lives Matter movement will receive the Sydney Peace Prize, an award given by the Sydney Peace Foundation -- part of the University of Sydney -- and be honored at an event in the city in November, the foundation announced this week.

Black Lives Matter was chosen for allegedly "building a powerful movement for racial equality, courageously reigniting a global conversation around state violence and racism. And for harnessing the potential of new platforms and power of people to inspire a bold movement for change at a time when peace is threatened by growing inequality and injustice," the foundation's website states.

I registered my dissent.

News Scan

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Prison for Faking Military Record:  A Wisconsin man who falsely claimed he was a Navy Seal wounded in Vietnam in order to get veteran's benefits has been sentenced to four years in prison.  Jeanette Steele of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that 68-year-old Kenneth Jozwiak presented fake discharge papers to Veterans Affairs officials identifying him as a Navy SEAL from 1965 to 1968 who received four Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star.  All of it was fake.  Jozwiak's military service was actually one year in 1967, before he quit and began his lifelong career as a grifter, racking up 120 arrests and scores of convictions.

MS-13 Members Welcomed in 2014:  The Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee told reporters that 16 members of the brutal MS-13 gang were allowed to immigrate into the US in 2014 as part of the Obama administration's program to admit unaccompanied children.  Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports that a whistleblower gave the committee Customs and Border Protection documents that indicate that the government was aware that the juveniles were MS-13 members but admitted them under the Unaccompanied Alien Children program, and distributed them to US communities.  Government data shows that 68% of the "children" admitted under the program were between the ages of 15 and 17 and most were males, prime recruits for membership in criminal gangs.  Senator Claire McCaskill, the ranking Democrat on the committee, had "concerns that the documents were released so quickly."

Alabama Killer Tries For 8th Execution Delay:  The state of Alabama is scheduled its eighth attempt to execute murderer-for-hire Tommy Arthur for tomorrow.  Alan Blinder of the New York Times reports that Arthur was convicted in 1983 for the murder-for-hire killing of a man whose wife payed him $10,000.  When he committed that murder in 1982 he was on work- release for a previous murder.  Since his conviction Arthur has won delays of his execution seven times, winning two new trials and five appellate rulings allowing additional review on his claims including incompetent counsel, failure to consider evidence and challenges to the state's execution method.  The New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, with is representing Arthur pro bono, is currently filing petitions seeking an eighth delay.   

News Scan

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The Manchester Bombing:  As expected, the suicide bomber who exploded a bomb killing 22 (so far) at a concert in Manchester was a young Muslim.  Fox News reports that British police identified the bomber as 22-year-old Salman Abedi.  ISIS has already taken credit for the shrapnel bombing of children and young girls attending the Ariana Grande concert.  Another young Muslim man has also been arrested for suspected involvement in the incident.  The question must again be asked, is Jamelle Bouie correct in asserting in his Slate article earlier this month that the real motivation for the President's effort to more thoroughly vet Muslim immigrants is racism, or is it about preventing terrorists from blowing up innocent little American girls.

Celebrating Murder

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Seth Barron writes in the City Journal:

The announcement that the 2017 Puerto Rican Day Parade would honor seditionist and Puerto Rican independentista Oscar López Rivera as a "National Freedom Hero" has led several sponsors of the parade to withdraw their endorsements. López Rivera was a leader of FALN, which conducted a campaign of deadly bombings around New York City and Chicago in the 1970s, and he was recently released from prison after having his 75-year sentence commuted by President Obama. Goya Foods, a significant backer of the parade for its entire 60-year history, has backed out, as have the NYPD Hispanic Society, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, and the other police unions representing the NYPD senior ranks. NYPD commissioner James O'Neill announced this afternoon that he will not march in the parade because he deems Lopez Rivera a "terrorist."

In response, city council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today held a "rally to defend the parade," though the parade itself is not in need of defense, its only sticking point being the inclusion of a convicted terrorist as guest of honor. About 50 ardent supporters of Rivera assembled in a meeting hall at the headquarters of 32BJ, the building-service workers local of labor powerhouse SEIU, where they displayed banners and chanted, "We stand with the Puerto Rican Parade/Oscar López is our hero today!"
No one doubts that the increased use of mandatory minimum sentencing laws has contributed, likely significantly, to the big increase in the prison population from 1990-2010 (it has dropped since then).

The next question crucial to our sentencing debate, then, is how much has increased incarceration contributed to the astonishing drop in crime over those 20 years (and astonishing is the right word, see this table showing that crime rates fell by nearly half).

Obviously, if increased incarceration accounts for only a small part of the falloff in crime, then the case for easing off on the use of prison becomes stronger. Conversely, if more prison has been a big driver of plummeting crime, the country justifiably will be more hesitant to go back to the softer policies that brought us the crime explosion in the quarter century before 1990.

This central question has been studied.  How much does increased incarceration contribute to the drop in crime?  What do the data say?
A little less than a month ago, I discussed the preliminary injunction issued by the federal district court in San Francisco regarding the section of President Trump's Executive Order 13768 that deals with so-called sanctuary cities and federal grants.  Judge Orrick badly misconstrued the order for the evident purpose of striking it down, and he refused to accept the reasonable interpretation that was offered by counsel for the government and was entirely consistent with the text.

I have been working on an amicus brief arguing for reversal of this ill-considered injunction and wondering what was taking the government so long to file its notice of appeal.  This afternoon I got the answer.

Attorney General Sessions has issued a memorandum on the implementation of the defunding provision of the Executive Order.  The memorandum clarifies several important points:

  • The provision applies only to grants administered by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.  Grants for health care, education, and other purposes from other departments are not affected.
  • A "sanctuary jurisdiction" for the purpose of the defunding provision (§9(a)) is one that "willfully refuse[s] to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373."  That statute forbids a jurisdiction to prohibit information sharing regarding immigration status.  It has nothing to do with policies against honoring ICE detainers.
  • Conditions of §1373 compliance will only be placed on future grants when a statute authorizes DoJ or DHS to do so.  The Executive Order does not and does not purport to authorize the executive branch to impose new conditions not authoritized by statute.
  • Grants previously issued without §1373 compliance conditions are not going to be clawed back.
Most of this was clear enough at the time the injunction was issued, but the issuance of an official document to this effect further undercuts Judge Orrick's already shaky order.

Flynn Taking the Fifth

Byron Tau reports for the WSJ:

Former national security adviser Mike Flynn will decline to cooperate with a Senate subpoena, invoking his constitutional right against self incrimination and setting off a legal showdown with Congress over a key witness in its investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

According to a person close to him, Mr. Flynn planed to tell the Senate Intelligence Committee later on Monday that he won't comply with the panel's request for documents, citing the Fifth Amendment's protections against self incrimination. Mr. Flynn is expected to inform the committee of his decision in a letter, through a representative.

News Scan

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WA Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence:  In an 8-1 decision announced Friday, the Washington Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Cecil Davis for the 1997 murder of Yoshiko Couch.  The Tacoma Weekly reports that after he was convicted and sentenced for rape, robbery, and murder of the 65-year-old woman, his death sentence was set aside for a trial error in 2004, and reinstated after a new sentencing trial in 2007.  Friday's decision rejected Davis's claim that the Washington's death penalty is unconstitutional because it does not require a jury to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a defendant facing the death penalty does not have an intellectual disability. 

Illegal Meth Traffickers Arrested:  Two illegal immigrants were arrested in an Ohio drug bust last week, which recovered cash and enough methamphetamine for 3,600 doses.  NBC4 Columbus reports that 33-year-old Francisco Torres-Davilla [sic] and 27-year-old Ramon Sanchez-Reyes admitted to sheriff's deputies that they were in the U.S. illegally to sell drugs.  Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones told reporters "that wall can't go up fast enough."  In March, the Washington Post reported that there were so many fatal drug overdoses in Ohio that one county coroner was using a cold-storage trailer as a temporary morgue.  According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of opioid-related deaths skyrocketed from 296 in 2003 to 2,590 in 2015 -- a 775% jump over a 13-year period.

Why Baltimore Is a Murder Vortex

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It's no longer disputed (if it ever was) that Baltimore has seen a staggering increase in murder at least since the politically-staged Freddie Gray prosecutions of six police officers.  This was the city where the then-Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, told us that rioters and arsonists should be given "space to destroy."  (Ms. Rawlings-Blake later went on to fame when she was chosen to open the Democratic National Convention).

One might wonder why, exactly, Baltimore has become a murder vortex to an even greater extent than in the past.  I can't say for sure.  One reason is likely to be the handicapping of the police, most vividly on display with the aforementioned Freddie Gray prosecutions, and more recently backed up by the consent decree engineered by Obama administration lawyers in order to benefit drug dealers insure civil rights.

A second, more deep-seated and in a way even more appalling reason is captured by the news story whose first line is:  "A Project Baltimore investigation has found five Baltimore City high schools and one middle school do not have a single student proficient in the state tested subjects of math and English."

No FBI Pick For Now

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Darlene Superville reports for AP:

After saying he was "very close" to naming a new FBI director, President Donald Trump boarded Air Force One on Friday for his first foreign trip without making any comment about the future leadership of the law enforcement agency.

The White House said earlier in the day that no announcement would be made.

The Washington Examiner has this editorial:

President Trump's last minute decision to put off the selection of a new FBI director until after his overseas trip is a good sign, perhaps even an indication that he's learned something and avoided making a mistake.

In the last two days, the strange choice of former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman had been floated as a trial balloon. It seemed like a very bad idea, and perhaps Trump has ultimately decided to deflate it. The choice of the 75-year-old Lieberman -- who, remember, addressed the 2008 Republican convention, and also recently wrote a letter of recommendation for Jeff Sessions as attorney general -- was never going to placate Democrats, if that's what was intended.

Right Man, Wrong Job

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There are news reports that the President is considering former Sen. Joe Lieberman as the next FBI Director.

Lieberman is a person of integrity and high character, schooled in the ways of Washington, and he has respect in Congress.  All are valuable qualities.  But he is not the man for this job.

The head of the FBI needs extensive experience in law enforcement, preferably federal law enforcement.  Sen. Lieberman has none.  He was at one point, many years ago, Attorney General of Connecticut, but that's it.  He is a respected political figure, but at this moment, the FBI needs someone who is not a political figure in any way at all.

People of equally high integrity and no political valence are available.  I have named two, Judge Julie Carnes of the Eleventh Circuit and former DEA Administrator Karen Tandy.  I hope the President will look in their direction.

News Scan

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The Worst Kind of Racism:  A piece by Heather MacDonald in yesterday's City Journal calls out the "Black Lives Matter" movement and the mainstream media for the racist hypocrites that they are.  Citing the example of a black habitual felon who beat another black man to death with a liquor bottle last November, which did not make the news even though the murder was caught on video, she correctly notes that "if a white man had beaten a black man to death it would have been international news.. But the routine taking of black lives by other blacks generates no interest in the mainstream media."  Last year 4,300 mostly black people were shot in Chicago.  The overwhelming majority of the shooters were black habitual criminals.  Apparently these black lives don't matter.

Three Teens Face Capital Murder Charges:  Two 17-year-old males and a third, whose age was not reported, will be arraigned Monday for the murder of a 6-year-old boy in Mississippi.  Fox News reports that the three males were caught on security cameras stealing a woman's car from a supermarket parking lot on Thursday.  The woman's 6-year-old son was in the car, which had been left running and unlocked while she was in the store.  Hours later the car was found abandoned with the little boy's body in the back seat.  He apparently died from a gunshot wound to the head.  Witnesses and the video helped police identify the suspects.  In Mississippi a-17-year old charged with capital murder is tried as an adult.  Although the crime is designated "capital" under state law, U.S. Supreme Court precedent precludes the death penalty for murderers under 18 at the time of the crime.
    
The Washington Post has printed on its editorial page a few of my remarks commending the charging policy Attorney General Sessions issued last week for federal prosecutors.  I appreciate the Post's  willingness to air a competing point of view.  

The piece was written as an op-ed, but was considerably shortened when the Post published it, and omits some of the points I believe merit attention

The piece as originally submitted argues:

Contrary to the Post's May 13 editorial ("It's time for federal sentencing reform"), Attorney General Sessions made the right call in restoring a long-honored standard for bringing criminal charges against those who profit from the ignorance and misery that fuels drug trafficking.

Editorials Impersonating News

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The New York Times, more unabashedly than perhaps any other MSM outlet, is a cheerleader for less accountability for criminals.  It is, more specifically, a reliable shill for "sentencing reform"  --  which, it says (quoting only its usual stable of True Believers), continues to have "momentum" notwithstanding its wipe-out in Congress followed by Trump's election. 

The Times' "news" article is here. Actually, it's a poorly disguised editorial trying to sell itself as news.  (This apart from the fact that it isn't even new  --  it's a re-tread of exactly the same sentencing reform rah-rah we've been hearing for months).

I could do my same-old rebuttals to its same-old bolstering, but it would be tiring. Instead, I'll take just one paragraph and see how it might be re-cast by someone who'd like to see something closer to the truth.

News Scan

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Criminals Game CA Sentencing Laws:  Over the past six years, California has passed three major sentencing laws geared to keep criminals out of state prison.  Over that period, 45,000 mostly habitual felons have been released into communities.  Jessica Rosenthal at Fox News reports that, while criminals whose most recent conviction was for a property or drug crime are released from prison to light supervision on county probation, the serious and violent criminals released to the more intense supervision on state parole are taking advantage of a major flaw in the state's sentencing scheme to get off parole.  The trick....commit a new crime.  The reporter says they can get off parole for committing a misdemeanor, but it is worse than that.  Because CA law does not allow prison for virtually any property or drug felony, and even crimes like assault, anyone convicted of one of these crimes receives a short county jail sentence and is released on probation.  The result...criminals on parole are stealing a car or burglarizing a business in order to get the lighter supervision.  Two legislators, a democrat and a republican, have introduced a bill to require the state parole board to look at a criminal's entire record to determine the level of supervision on which he should be placed.  This a very modest reform that won't affect thousands of criminals who are released administratively or criminals who do not commit violent crimes.
The California Court of Appeal for the Fifth District (Fresno) yesterday decided People v. Marquez, F070609.

Mental Health in the Big Apple

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Mental disorders and their treatment (or non-treatment) are related to issues of crime and incarceration, so C&C readers might be interested in this article by Stephen Eide in the City Journal.

Since the 1960s, America has faced an epidemic of serious mental illness that represents a shameful chapter in social policymaking. Hundreds of billions spent on "mental health" programs have left many untreated, fated to eke out a pitiful existence on the institutional circuit of jails, homeless shelters, and psychiatric hospitals. We often take for granted that modern times are gentler than the dark days of the thumbscrew, lynchings, and public executions. Yet we have allowed scores of tormented men and women to suffer and die on city streets every year.
*        *        *
New York mayor Bill de Blasio has made improving New Yorkers' mental health a priority of his administration, but his ThriveNYC program repeats too many of the mistakes of the past and will deliver too little assistance to those in greatest need. Promising a "comprehensive solution to a pervasive problem," ThriveNYC relies on an overly expansive definition of mental health and lacks focus. While de Blasio claims that public confusion about the nature of mental health makes matters worse, his plan will increase that confusion by blurring the lines between mental illness in its serious and mild forms, making too much out of "stigma," and emphasizing prevention over treatment. De Blasio has committed more than $800 million to ThriveNYC, but these resources are spread too thin, across too many priorities. A better approach would focus more on helping the seriously mentally ill and less on ideological and political concerns.
The oral argument before the California Supreme Court in the suit challenging Proposition 66, the death penalty reform initiative, is set for Tuesday, June 6 at 9:30 a.m.

California's nomadic Supreme Court hears arguments in Sacramento and Los Angeles as well as its headquarters in San Francisco, and this argument date is in L.A.

That's D-Day, appropriately enough.  We are anxious to head south, storm the beach, and engage in the battle, hopefully winning a major victory for justice.
Del Quentin Wilber and Aruna Viswanatha report for the WSJ:

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller III was appointed as special counsel to oversee the FBI investigation of the Russian government's efforts to influence the 2016 election, the Justice Department said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigation related to the 2016 race. Mr. Rosenstein said in a statement that "I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility of this matter."

Mr. Rosenstein, who signed the order on Wednesday, cautioned that his decision wasn't the result of a "finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted."
Update:  The DoJ press release is here. The appointment order is here.

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