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News Scan

Florida High Court Rules on Relief for Erroneous Death Sentences:  The Florida Supreme Court yesterday clarified the appropriate remedy for death sentences reversed because the sentencing judge erroneously overrode a jury recommendation of life.  The court previously handled such reversals inconsistently, sometimes remanding the case to the trial court for resentencing and other times remanding for imposition of a life sentence.  The court held the latter to be correct.  "Once a defendant has demonstrated that the mitigation presented would have provided a reasonable basis for the jury recommendation, the defendant is entitled to a life sentence.  Accordingly, we now hold that the proper course . . . is to remand the case to the trial court for imposition of a life sentence.  By eliminating the resentencing proceeding on remand, as well as any subsequent appeal, this approach will promote the timely resolution of these cases, and it will foster uniformity in this area."  Brendan Farrington of the AP has this story.

A Prostitute Can Be Recruited to Prostitution, California Supreme Court Says:  Bob Egelko of the SF Chronicle reports the California Supreme Court yesterday ruled that one who recruits another to "become a prostitute" can be convicted under California's pandering law - even if the recruitee is already a prostitute.  Jomo Zambia was arrested in June 2007 for soliciting an undercover policewoman who was posing as a prostitute, after he told her he was a pimp and offered to pay for her housing and clothing if she would work for him.  After he was convicted, his attorney argued on appeal that the relevant statute did not prohibit encouraging a current prostitute (or someone posing as one).  The court disagreed, noting that "[t]he plain intent and purpose [of the statute] . . . is to deter pimps or others from establishing new working relationships in the unlawful prostitution trade." 

"Mr. Blagojevich, you are a convicted liar, correct?": 
So went the first moments of Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar's cross examination of former Governor Rod Blagojevich during his retrial on corruption charges, reports Chicago Tribune reporters Jeff Coen and Bob Secter.  After five days of direct testimony during which Blagojevich seemed "relaxed and sometimes jovial," prosecutors attacked about his past dishonesty while in office.  Blogojevich punted the questions, responding "I try to be as truthful as possible.  Politics is a difficult business," and characterizing what prosecutors called a "lie" as "a misdirection play in politics."  The AP has some additional notable quotations here.

South Dakota Inmates to Get Voicemail System:  Megan Luther of The Argus Leader (SD) reports the South Dakota Department of Corrections will soon be adding a voicemail feature to allow callers, for $1, to leave a 60-second voicemail for inmates in state prison.  Inmates will be able to check their messages twice a day for no cost.  Michael Winder, communications and information manager for the Department of Corrections, says the equipment and operating costs of the system will be covered by the $1 fee and will not cost taxpayers any additional money.  Under the current rules, inmates are allowed to place calls, but can only accept emergency incoming calls.

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