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LWOP for rape committed at age 13

Adam Liptak of the New York Times, writes of a 72-year-old woman who was raped back in 1989. Joe Sullivan, who was 13 at the time, admitted to burglarizing her home, but did not confess to the rape.  Now 33 years old, "Sullivan's lawyers have asked the United States Supreme Court to consider whether the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment extends to sentencing someone who was barely a teenager to die in prison for a crime that did not involve a killing." Taking a look at court decisions since Sullivan was sentenced, "Douglas A. Berman, an authority on sentencing law, said that it is time for the Supreme Court and the legal system to widen its relentless focus on capital cases and to look at other severe sentences as well."

Mississippi Mayor may be too tough on crime, scheduled to go on his third trial

According to a story by Paulo Prada of the Wall Street Journal, Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, who won his 2005 election with over 80% of the vote, is now facing "felony charges related to his hard-line, gun-toting tactics." This is not Mayor Melton's first charge. In May 2006, "Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood warned Mr. Melton about allegations of his conduct exceeding lawful authority." Later in the same year, Melton was indicted but never convicted of using similar tactics to conduct a home raid. Mr. Melton is receiving mixed responses from the community. "He means well and has a huge heart, but he's not an effective mayor" said Brad "Kamikaze" Franklin, a 35-year old rapper and Jackson developer who once supported Mayor Melton. Also mentioned, "in his zeal to fight crime, many add, he has ignored other city needs and led Jackson government astray." In response to all charges and reactions from the community, "Mr. Melton vows to press ahead. At the moment, he plans to issue an executive order against baggy, hip-hop-style pant." Recently when addressing council members, he said "we have some issues that are much bigger than the Constitution."

Holder confirmed: Eric Holder has been confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Attorney General, 75-21, reports Larry Margasak for AP.

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The top case falls into the category of "hard cases make bad law". It's difficult not to sympathize a bit with the criminal here--the conviction is not based on the strongest of evidence (although it's hard to feel sorry for criminals whose partners in crime go a little further than planned) and LWOP for a 13 yo rapist is harsh. I don't think, though, that it's worth opening the can of worms that would result if courts can start revising juvenile sentences for serious crimes. Lionel Tate provides a cautionary tale. Tate got off pretty easily for killing 6 yo Tiffany Eunick. He then repaid the kindness of society by sticking a gun in someone's face.

Liptak lays it on a little thick in the article. There was really no reason to repeat the indelicate language with which the victim identified her assailant.

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