May 2006 Archives

News Scan

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U.S. Supreme Court won't hear case on sex offender visitation
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would not consider a constitutional challenge to a state policy that sharply restricts minors' visits to imprisoned sex offenders who victimized children. more

GPS tracking leads to Megan's Law arrest
The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Updated: Tuesday, May 30, 2006

NEWTON, N.J. (AP) - A high-tech tracking system led authorities to charge a high-risk sex offender with a Megan's Law violation in a first-of-its-kind case in the state. more

News Scan

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Third person executed this month in Texas, bringing the total to ten for the year. Read the full story here

Ten years of probation instead of ten years in prison for "short man" who sexually assaulted a child. Read the complete story here that's causing quite a debate.

Violent Crime Impact Teams: Mark Sherman of the Associated Press has this story on the USDoJ Inspector General's report on ATF's Violent Crime Impact Team Initiative. The report says ATF did not implement its strategy and "cannot definitively show" results. ATF's director is quoted in the story disputing the report.

News Scan

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TODAY, MEXICAN PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX will address a joint session of the California Legislature to share his views about America's effort to secure its Southern border. The Orange County Register reports that California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore will not be attending because Fox is urging America to welcome illegal immigrants while Mexico prosecutes them as felons.

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IS SUFFERING MIGHTILY over the Supreme Court's upcoming decision in the Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, which will determine if a failure by American police to notify the government of an illegal alien arrested for a crime (as required by the Vienna Convention Treaty) should result in the suppression of incriminating statements the alien makes during questioning. It is important to note, as you read the IPS story, that the treaty does not require this, and none of the 30 international rights advocates who filed amicus curiae arguments supporting the criminal, was able to cite any published decision by a foreign court where valid evidence was suppressed under the same circumstances.

The heading above is the subhead of Gallup’s annual report on what Americans find morally acceptable. The headline is “Republicans, Democrats Differ on What Is Morally Acceptable.” There are differences, to be sure, but also large areas of substantial agreement. As of this writing, the full report is available here, but Gallup’s content is only free for a brief interval and then becomes $ubscriber-only.

Here is the actual survey question: “28. Next, I’m going to read you a list of issues. Regardless of whether or not you think it should be legal, for each one, please tell me whether you personally believe that in general it is morally acceptable or morally wrong. How about – ” The various items then follow in random order, one of which is “The death penalty”

The report says that 71% of the American people overall answered “morally acceptable” to the death penalty. This was the highest level of support for any of the 16 issues in the survey. As is typical in death penalty surveys, this figure understates the actual level of support. Another 5% volunteered the answer “depends on the situation.” Because mandatory death penalties were abolished long ago, “depends on the situation” is a response in line with the current system. The real level of support therefore exceeds three-quarters of the American people, an exceptionally high level of agreement for any controversial issue. Only 22% answered “morally wrong,” with the “duh” contingent coming in at a very low 2%.

By political party, the “morally acceptable” responses came in at 82% of Republicans and persons who lean to the Republican Party and 63% of Democrats plus leaners. Nineteen percent is a significant party spread; only abortion and wearing animal fur had wider spreads in this survey. Yet the more liberal of the two political parties has nearly two-thirds support for the supposedly “conservative” position among its rank and file.

Perhaps the most newsworthy aspect of the poll is the trend line. Opponents of capital punishment have been trying to promote the idea that the tide has turned against it. This poll shows the percentage considering capital punishment to be morally acceptable at the highest level in the six years reported, up 8% from the low. The “unaccepable” view is at a new low, down 9% from its peak.

The Supreme Court's rejection of a Tennessee murderer's challenge to lethal injestion suggests that its upcoming decision in Hill v. McDonough may focus on the procedural question regarding the use of a civil rights lawsuit to attack a method of execution rather than on the issue of whether lethal injection violates the Eighth Amendment. Read the Associated Press story here

Justice Scalia speaks out on the High Court's reliance on the decisions of foreign courts, and on a Congressional effort to prohibit it. Read the Los Angeles Times story here

The politics of political correctness will probably prevail, as family members of the victims of the 2004 terrorist attack on a Russian school which resulted in the deaths of 340, mostly children, insist that, if found guilty, the only surviving terrorist receive the death penalty. Russia is a member of the Council of Europe, and the only member which had not formally abolished the death penalty, although it has maintained a morotorium on executions for ten years. Read the story from Moscownews.com here

Hawaii gets a Three Strikes law

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The Governor of Hawaii signed a Three Strikes sentencing law on May 9th, read the Honolulu Star-Bulletin story here

Memorial for Late Chief Justice

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Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog has this post on a memorial service for the late Chief Justice Rehnquist on June 15.

Re-argument In Knock-Notice Case

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The Associated Press has this story on the argument today in Hudson v. Michigan

Texas Murderer Executed

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Jermaine Herron was executed in Texas, as reported by The Houston Chronicle here

USCA 6 Denies Injection Stay

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has denied a stay of execution to convicted murderer Sedley Alley. The three-judge panel opinion is available here. The order denying rehearing en banc, with five judges dissenting, is available here.

On May 18, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear reargument in Hudson v. Michigan, No. 04-1360, on the question of whether the police's failure to comply with the knock and announce rule should result in the suppression of evidence obtained in an otherwise valid search. CJLF's amicus curiae brief supporting the State of Michigan is available here.

Judicature Special Issue

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The current issue of Judicature is devoted entirely to the subject of capital punishment. We will review these articles in due course.