April 2012 Archives
San Diego Jails Nearing Capacity: Dana Littlefield of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, in a letter to local law enforcement, stated his department will no longer accept bookings for certain types of misdemeanors as jails are approaching full capacity. Friday, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, in an e-mail, said, "shifting the State's responsibility to incarcerate felons to the local level is creating safety risks to our communities," blaming the Legislature and governor for transferring the overcrowding problem to local governments rather than cutting unnecessary spending at the state level. Gore's department has established a unit to handle custody alternatives, including GPS monitoring and home custody, in an attempt to open up some space in local jails.
New Mexico Fixes Online Sex Offender Registration Mistake: KOAT 7 Albuquerque reports New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is requiring law enforcement to get all online sex offenders convicted after 2007 registered after closing a loop hole in the law. There are 12 situations in which convicted predators are required to register, but somehow the requirement to register online was placed in the annotations when the law was compiled with other laws from the same year. The oversight was what the governor called a 'dangerous mistake.' Gov. Martinez stated, "We deserve, (and) the public deserves to know that someone in their neighborhood is a convicted sex offender." During the next legislative session, Martinez intends to ensure the error is corrected in every law book.
Bill to Lessen Overcrowding in CA Jails Voted Down: City News Service reports Senate Bill 1441, which would have amended Governor Brown's Public Safety Realignment Act, AB 109, and ease jail overcrowding, was voted down in the Senate Public Safety Committee last week. Senator Bill Emmerson (R-Riverside) introduced SB 1441 to require all convicts sentenced to over 36 months in jail for any one or series of offenses to serve their sentence in prison instead. Before AB 109, anyone who received more than a one year sentence automatically went to prison to serve their sentence. However, AB 109 does not spell out any length of time after which an inmate would be transferred to prison, resulting in some offenders currently serving jail terms in excess of 10 years. By June 2013, 23,000 more inmates must be moved from prisons in accordance with a federal court order. With only 11,000 inmates moved so far, Emmerson points out that AB 109 as it stands puts public safety at risk, as jails will be well over maximum capacity and sheriff's officials are forced to release low-level offenders from custody early.
Because this case is a federal prosecution -- not federal habeas review of a state case -- it involves only the rule of Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989), not the different but often overlapping rule of 28 U.S.C. §2254(d).
The Teague question is an easy one if the Court is faithful to its precedents. Of course Padilla is a new rule for Teague. The Court could not hold otherwise without eviscerating Teague.
This is strange because Wood has nothing to do with the Seventh Circuit's decision in United States v. Ryan. "A court is not at liberty, we have cautioned, to bypass, override, or excuse a State's deliberate waiver of a limitations defense," the Supreme Court held in Wood. Okay, but the Seventh did not do that in Ryan. Quite the contrary, the Seventh held that the prosecution's waiver took the statute of limitations issue out of the case. The Court of Appeals then went on to hold that an argument Ryan could have made on appeal but did not, and that was subsequently made successfully by Jeffery Skilling, was not available for a do-over on collateral review, applying well-established law.
What's to reconsider?
Let us talk sense, like adults. Nothing that is done to George Zimmerman -- justly or unjustly -- will unlynch a single black man who was tortured and killed in the Jim Crow South for a crime he didn't commit.
Letting hoodlums get away with hoodlumism today does not undo a single injustice of the past. It is not even a favor to the hoodlums, for many of whom this is just the first step on a path that leads to the penitentiary, and maybe to the execution chamber.
Winston Churchill said, "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." He wasn't talking about racial issues, but what he said applies especially where race is involved.
Could a single molecule--one chemical substance--lie at the very center of our moral lives?Research that I have done over the past decade suggests that a chemical messenger called oxytocin accounts for why some people give freely of themselves and others are coldhearted louts, why some people cheat and steal and others you can trust with your life, why some husbands are more faithful than others, and why women tend to be nicer and more generous than men. In our blood and in the brain, oxytocin appears to be the chemical elixir that creates bonds of trust not just in our intimate relationships but also in our business dealings, in politics and in society at large.
Fascinating stuff. In criminal law terms, of course, the defense sees every advance in the knowledge of the biology of behavior as a chance to create a new defense. We are all just driftwood on the ocean of chemistry rather than free agents with free will, and therefore it is wrong to punish. I suppose a "lack of oxytocin made me do it" defense is around the corner.
That is not a reason to oppose research, of course. That is a reason to be aware of both the research and its limitations so as to oppose the extrapolation of it to reach unwarranted conclusions. When all is said and done, all of us except the truly insane still choose to do what we do.
47. As you may know, in 2010 the state of Arizona passed a law that requires police to verify the legal status of someone they have already stopped or arrested if they suspect that the person is in the country illegally. Do you approve or disapprove of Arizona's immigration law?
Tot Rep Dem Ind Wht Blk Hsp
Approve 68% 92% 46% 72% 74% 55% 47% Disapprove 27 5 47 24 22 37 49 DK/NA 5 3 7 4 4 7 5
Given the vehemence of the attack on this law by leaders of the Democratic Party and the claim that it is anti-Hispanic, the fact that both Democrats and Hispanics are almost evenly split on it is interesting. Thanks to Eugene Volokh for the tip.
Border Patrol Sued by ACLU Over Traffic Stops: Manuel Valdes of the Associated Press reports the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Border Patrol on Thursday in an attempt to prohibit agents from making traffic stops until they are trained on what constitutes reasonable suspicion. The suit alleges people are being pulled over and questioned based on the way they look and without reasonable suspicion. The ACLU and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed the lawsuit of behalf of three residents of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula who have been stopped by Border Patrol agents. The lawsuit says the traffic stops by agents violate the Fourth Amendment and exceed the agency's legal powers. The suit also asks that agents be required to file paperwork justifying each traffic stop, and to make that information available to a court-appointed special master.
Bill to Amend Provisions of Realignment Fails in Committee: The Victorville Daily Press reports California Senator Sharon Runner's (R-Lancaster) proposed Senate Bill 1435 died on a 4-3 vote in the Senate's Public Safety Committee and will not advance to the floor. The bill would have required defendants convicted of a felony who had three or more prior felony convictions be sentenced to state prison instead of county jail under the new realignment sentencing regulations.
Interestingly, the notice also indicates "under the Governor's direction, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will also begin the process of considering alternative regulatory protocols, including a one-drug protocol, for carrying out the death penalty."
Update: Maura Dolan has this story in the LA Times.
Stay Granted to Louisiana Double-Murderer: Bill Lodge of The Advocate (LA) reports a federal judge on Wednesday granted a stay for the May 9 execution of Todd Kelvin Wessinger in Louisiana for killing two restaurant workers in 1995. U.S. District Judge James J. Brady granted the stay while he reviews claims made by Wessinger's attorneys that he suffered childhood seizures and physical and emotional abuse, developed substance addictions, and was traumatized by the deaths of his children. His appellate attorneys also allege that his trial attorney should not have called a doctor to the trial witness stand without first reviewing the doctor's report about his interviews with Wessinger. Brady did not say when he would announce his decision.
Illinois Senate Passes Constitutional Amendment for Victim's Rights: Dave McKinney of the Chicago Sun-Times reports a measure known as Marsy's Law, named after a California murder victim, passed out of the Illinois Senate 55-1. The measure would guarantee victims of violent crimes and families of murder victims or minors, among other things, the right to be informed about court proceedings, to make victim-impact statements during sentencing, to get "timely" notification when prosecutors are seeking a plea deal, and to have their safety considered at bail hearings. Illinois' Constitution currently contains victims-rights language, but there is no means by which victims or their families can enforce those rights by seeking relief from the courts. The measure now moves to the House. If successful, Illinois would become the fourth state with such language in its Constitution.
When that method was first proposed, some experts were concerned that it might take the inmate a long time to die. That concern has proven unfounded. The AP story on the Kemp execution notes, "The one-drug execution took seven minutes, and Kemp's time of death was 10:08 a.m."
Last week, as noted in this post, CJLF filed a petition for writ of mandate to force California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to issue a single-drug protocol for the execution of Michael Morales, who has now evaded justice for 29 years, 6 of them after completion of all reviews of his sentence. Morales has been allowed more time on the lethal injection issue alone than the D.C. Sniper got for the entire review of his case.
Update: AP reports that Thomas Kemp shook during the execution, and his lawyer was "very disturbed by that."
We have known all along that involuntary movements were a possible side-effect of the one-drug method and that some witnesses might find that disturbing. That was the precise purpose of the pancuronium bromide in the three-drug method. However, the risk of pancuronium outweighs the benefit, which is why states are dropping it.
Shaking does not necessarily mean pain or even consciousness. A person receiving a big dose of pentobarbital is not going to be in extreme pain, and that is all that matters. Murderers are not entitled to the most peaceful, painless death possible. Anyone executed with a single dose of barbiturate will feel less pain in his death than most of us are going to suffer when we die, and that is enough to end the matter.
See also prior posts on Martinez here and here.
Update: The Supreme Court's denial of a stay in this matter is here. No dissent is noted. Denial of a stay and certiorari in the case from state court is here.
Notice there is no denial of certiorari in the federal habeas case. Does that mean Adams hasn't filed a certiorari petition yet but only a stay request? After Adams is executed, will there be a claim that the case is moot and the precedential value of the USCA5 opinion is wiped out by the Munsingwear rule? Stay tuned.
Connecticut Death Penalty Repeal Signed Into Law: The Associated Press reports Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday signed a new law that ends the state's death penalty for future crimes, effective immediately. The bill was signed the same day a new Quinnipiac University Poll showed 62 percent of Connecticut registered voters are still in favor of the death penalty for those convicted of murder. The poll also showed 47 percent of voters disapprove of Malloy's handling of the issue, and 51 percent disapprove of the legislature's handling of the issue.
Judge Says Kentucky Must Consider One-Drug Protocol: Brett Barrouquere of the Associated Press reports Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd in Kentucky on Wednesday directed the state to consider using one drug instead of three to execution inmates by lethal injection now that other states have been successful using a single drug method. Shepherd halted all executions in Kentucky 20 months ago over inmates' challenges to whether the state's lethal injection rules prohibited the use of a single drug and if there were adequate protections against executing the mentally ill. Kentucky has 90 days to consider the changes. Shepherd said the challenge by inmates will be allowed to go to trial if the state stays with the three-drug method.
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arizona Immigration Law: Mark Sherman of the Associated Press reports the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments for Arizona's immigration law signed by Governor Jan Brewer two years ago. Justices suggested they would allow the state to enforce part of the law that requires police officers to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally. Justices reacted skeptically to the argument by the Obama administration that that the state exceeded its authority when it created the law. Chief Justice John Roberts said the state simply wants to notify federal authorities that they have someone in their custody who may be in the country illegally. "It seems to me that the federal government just doesn't want to know who's here illegally and who's not," Roberts said. A decision in the case is expected in late June.
Maryland Court Blocks Police Collection of DNA at Arrest: Yvonne Wenger of The Baltimore Sun reports the Court of Appeals in Maryland ruled 5-2 that the state law which allows the collection of DNA evidence from arrestees violated the rights of Alonzo Jay King Jr. King was arrested months after the law was adopted for assault and his DNA was later used to convict him of a six-year-old rape case. The court said collecting Kings DNA at arrest violated protections against unreasonable searches without a warrant. The state can still collect DNA after convictions, and law enforcement agencies can still use DNA samples to verify the person they arrested is the correct suspect. Since the law took effect in January 2009, the state has collected nearly 16,000 DNA samples, and used that evidence to gain 58 convictions that include 34 burglaries and 8 rapes. "The concept is simple: When we increase the library of DNA samples in our state, we solve more crimes," Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said in a statement. "We take more criminals off the streets more quickly and put them in jail for a longer period of time so that they cannot murder, rape or harm other citizens among us."
The Costs of Leniency: Theodore Dalrymple has this piece in City Journal highlighting the laxity of the British criminal justice system, using the case of Gordon Thompson as an example. Thompson was recently sentenced to 11 and a half years for arson, in which he set fire to a family-owned furniture store that quickly spread to nearby houses during the London riots last summer. Thompson claims he was upset about the recent break up of his marriage, but it turns out Thompson had 20 previous convictions. Dalrymple questions what Thompson was doing at liberty, and says the cause of the riots in London was because of the laxity in such cases.
Grandma Fires Back at Robbery Suspects: CBS Atlanta and the Associated Press report a Georgia grandmother thwarted a robbery attempt by two armed suspects by getting into a shootout with them. Two men attempted to rob Lulu Campbell outside of her car Saturday morning. When one of the men fired at her and missed, Campbell fired back and struck him in the chest. Campbell owns convenience stores and gas stations and is always armed. "I thought that the only way to protect myself was to run him down," she said. "Otherwise, he would have gotten away." Police say Brenton Lance Spencer has been hospitalized and charged with aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery. Dantre Shivers, the other suspect, remains at large.
The hot news is, of course, the Arizona immigration law argument, a civil case with criminal law implications. Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog has this early report, indicating we may a get a relatively narrow opinion.
The discovery failures in the Stevens case were not typical and must be considered in their proper context. Over the past 10 years, the Department has filed over 800,000 cases involving more than one million defendants. In the same time period, only one-third of one percent (.33 percent) of these cases warranted inquiries and investigations of professional misconduct by the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility. Less than three-hundredths of one percent (.03 percent) related to alleged discovery violations, and just a fraction of these resulted in actual findings of misconduct. Department regulations require DOJ attorneys to report any judicial finding of misconduct to OPR, and OPR conducts computer searches to identify court opinions that reach such findings in order to confirm that it examines any judicial findings of misconduct, reported or not. In addition, defense attorneys are not reticent to raise allegations of discovery failures when they do occur.
Last week, the Huffington Post wrote about a 10-year-old diabetic boy who received a pat-down after his insulin pump triggered the alarm. Jacob Wisnik was wearing a new pump that was placed over his groin. According to his mother, Eva, he was not permitted to reposition or move the pump before the pat-down.
"[The agency] is reviewing the passenger's screening experience to determine whether procedures were appropriately applied. We regret the family's perception of the experience was not positive and always strive to screen passengers respectfully while ensuring the safety of all travelers."
The problem with studying such things, of course, is that there are many factors that go into crime rates, and untangling them is difficult to impossible.
The best studies tend to be longitudinal studies that follow a group of people over a long time. These studies cost a lot of money and take a long time, obviously, but they overcome some of the difficulties with snapshot surveys taken at one point in time.
The Christchurch Health and Development Study by Otago University in New Zealand has this press release today.
"But contrary to popular belief being brought up in a poor family in this study does not mean increased rates of crime or mental health problems in adulthood," adds Professor Fergusson.
The contextual impact of factors relating to the individual, as well as the family and social environment, were adjusted to distinguish these from the direct impact of low family income.
When this was done it found that poverty and other family factors are not associated with increased rates of crime in adulthood, or mental health problems or related outcomes; but the reasons are not yet clear.
The study therefore suggests caution with regard to claims that reducing childhood poverty will also have a significant and direct effect on crime and other psychosocial outcomes in New Zealand.
The technical article is Sheree J. Gibb, David M. Fergusson, and L. John Horwood, Childhood family income and life outcomes in adulthood: Findings from a 30-year longitudinal study in New Zealand, Social Science and Medicine (in press). Abstract follows the jump.
Missing from the Court's version of the rules are amendments to Rules 5(d) and 58(b) approved by the Judicial Conference regarding consular notification for arrested aliens to comply with the Vienna Convention. See the Judicial Conference's page with links to the committee report and proposed rules.
The consular notification issue is presently before Congress in S. 1194 (Leahy). It is quite understandable that the Court did not wish to act through the rulemaking process while the issue is under active consideration in Congress.
California Death Penalty Ban Measure Qualifies For November Ballot: Eric Bradley of the Contra Costa Times reports the SAFE Act, the initiative to replace California's death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole, will be on the November ballot. In a September 2011 Field Poll of registered California voters, 68% of voters supported keeping the death penalty. Advocates of the measure on Monday could not say where the redirected funds to send $100 million to police agencies to help solve more rape and homicide cases would come from.
Man Beaten by Mob as "Justice for Trayvon": Matthew Owens from Mobile, Alabama was beaten by a mob on the front porch of his home after giving some kids playing basketball out in the street a hard time on Saturday night. wielding pipes, paint cans, chairs, and brass knuckles "Now that's justice for Trayvon" after the attack. A neighbor also said they heard a member of the mob make the same comment. Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said, "Police will certainly explore a racial motive if the evidence supports it...If people think we are going to tolerate that to bring attention to some national event, they are surely mistaken."
Montgomery v. Robinson is a capital habeas case in which the Sixth Circuit en banc held, 11-5, that the state court reasonably applied the Brady v. Maryland rule. Given the makeup of the Sixth Circuit, a claim on which the petitioner gets only five votes would not seem to be a strong one.
Garcia v. California, 11-8371, is unusual in that the Court seems to be taking a hard look at a capital case from California on direct appeal. Offhand, I can't recall a single case in the modern era where the US Supreme Court took such a case on the defendant's petition. Generally, the Ninth Circuit could be counted on to overturn death sentences 100% of the time when it is warranted and ~95% of the time when it is not warranted, so the only needed SCOTUS supervision is overturning wrong grants by the Ninth Circuit. The issue on certiorari this time, according to Elwood's post, is a victim-impact videotape claimed to be "unfairly prejudicial." In capital-defense-speak, "unfairly prejudicial" means "effective," violating the capital defendant's constitutional right to ineffective opposition of prosecutor. I certainly hope the Court is not even considering going down the disastrous road of Booth v. Maryland again. Of all the things that need fixing in American criminal justice, effective victim-impact evidence should be at the bottom of the list. If they wanted to overrule Lockett v. Ohio and bring back Booth at the same time, thus curtailing the emotional appeals on both sides, that would be different. But bringing back the extremely skewed situation we had with Lockett + Booth should not even be on the table.
Elwood thinks Brown v. Bobby is on hold for Johnson v. Williams, 11-465, formerly Cavazos v. Williams. That case has to do with the application of AEDPA to a case where the defendant's state appeal has closely related state and federal claims and there is no separate discussion of the federal aspect of the claim.
Justices Thomas and Scalia concur in the judgment but not the opinion on grounds more favorable to habeas petitioners generally. They would hold that the state forfeits its statute of limitations defense in a habeas case by not raising it, and the court has no discretion to raise it on its own. An earlier case gave such discretion to the District Court, but they would decline to extend a precedent they regard as erroneous to the Court of Appeals.
CA Prison Overhaul Said to Save State $1.5 Billion Annually: The corrections department will ask federal judges to allow the state to house an additional 6,000 inmates, which exceeds the judicial panel's inmate limit. California has leeway to negotiate the final inmate count, though it will have to demonstrate why the population cap set is wrong. If the court rejects the higher population, prison officials will keep housing the inmates in private out of state prisons, continuing to cost California $318 million a year. The CDCR's press release is here.
Death Penalty Repeal Carries Political Risk for Connecticut Governor: Shannon Young of the Associated Press reports Connecticut's Governor Dannel P. Malloy says he will sign the repeal of Connecticut's death penalty into law despite a lack of public support. Tom C. Foley, the Republican candidate who ran against Malloy in the 2010 gubernatorial election, pointed to recent Quinnipiac University polls which suggest majority support for the death penalty in Connecticut. "Anytime you implement policies that a large majority of people don't support, your chances of being re-elected will diminish," he said. Foley also pointed out a possible public backlash if the 11 inmates currently on death row that are not affected by the repeal use it as a new means for appeal, and criticized Malloy for putting his own convictions against the death penalty above those of a majority of polled Connecticut residents who are still in favor of capital punishment. "I'm representing the people who agree with me," Malloy said.
Two men convicted of transporting 35 kilos of cocaine up Interstate 5 were each sentenced Friday to 13 years in "county jail prison," a new Sacramento record for the longest local term under the state's new realignment law.Sure, I could make my work more efficient, too, if I could just dump a big part of it on someone without the resources to do it properly. But that would not make it the right thing to do.
Superior Court Judge Lawrence G. Brown said the sentences he handed down to David Ciarelli and Richard Wisneski "seems to flesh out and stretch out the contours of correctional realignment."
Brown said he had "no discretion" under the law but to sentence the two Los Angeles County men to county jail rather than state prison.* * *"Realignment is enabling the department to comply (with the federal court orders) and reduce overcrowding," [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry] Thornton said. "It makes for a far more efficient prison system."
Peggy Noonan has this article in the WSJ with the above title.
I've long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it's also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.Why is our culture spiraling downward? Any attempt to identify one factor as the sole cause would be simplistic and naive. A big part of the problem, in my view, is that too few people of sense choose the occupations that have the greatest influence in shaping the next generation. Teachers who believe in standards of behavior, striving for excellence, and rejecting weak excuses find themselves an embattled minority. The spectrum of viewpoints among journalists is substantially skewed from that of the general population. The same is true in the entertainment industry.
Now I'd go a step beyond that. I think more and more people are worried about the American character--who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.
Every story that has broken through the past few weeks has been about who we are as a people. And they are all disturbing.
If young people grow up in an environment where the values that constitute character are regularly sneered at, a downward spiraling culture is the natural result.
So, young people of sense, consider teaching, journalism, and other future-shaping professions as your career. The culture you save may be your own.
"For every complex problem," H.L. Mencken wrote, "there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong."
That is especially true of drug abuse and addiction. Indeed, the problem is so complex that it has produced not just one clear, simple, wrong solution but two: the "drug war" (prohibition plus massive, undifferentiated enforcement) and proposals for wholesale drug legalization.
Fortunately, these two bad ideas are not our only choices. We could instead take advantage of proven new approaches that can make us safer while greatly reducing the number of Americans behind bars for drug offenses.
Nebraska will not surrender its supply of a controversial execution drug to the Food and Drug Administration because it believes the court order requiring it to do so is flawed, the state Attorney General's office indicated in a letter to the federal agency Friday.
James Smith, an assistant attorney general, suggested in the letter to the FDA that the agency should appeal U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's ruling on the drug, sodium thiopental. Leon ruled last month that the FDA was wrong to allow the drug into the country and he ordered the agency to immediately notify state correctional departments with foreign-manufactured stores of the drug, including Nebraska's, that its use is prohibited by law and that it must be surrendered.
"Other than the court's erroneous order, we are unaware of any evidence or reasons why the Department of Correctional Services should be required to return any thiopental in its possession," wrote Smith wrote, who also asked for contact information for the FDA's attorney and Justice Department officials who might be involved in deciding whether to appeal the ruling.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning issued a statement Friday saying that Nebraska's supply of sodium thiopental was purchased from a different supplier than the one cited in the case over which Leon presided, and that Nebraska's drug "was approved for importation by the U.S. DEA, FDA and Customs."
Sentence of Georgia Death Row Inmate Commuted to LWOP: A News Release by Steve Hayes, , reports clemency was granted to condemned inmate Daniel Greene. His sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole. Greene was sentenced to death in 1992 for stabbing a man to death during a convenience store robbery. Greene had been scheduled for execution Thursday, and a stay had been issued Tuesday. The clemency order is here.
Los Angeles Police Union Sues Over New Unlicensed Driver Policy: The Associated Press reports the Los Angeles police officers' union has filed a lawsuit against the city and police chief over a new policy that would allow some unlicensed drivers to keep their cars instead of having them impounded for 30 days. The suit, filed by the Police Protective League Wednesday in Superior Court, asks the court to block Chief Charlie Beck's new order. The union says the policy violates state law and could leave officers open to lawsuits if an unlicensed driver who was allowed to keep their car later hurts or kills someone.
CA Death Row Inmate Confesses to Another Murder: The Associated Press reports Royal Clark Jr., who is on California's death row for strangling a 14-year-old girl in 1995, has pleaded guilty to the strangulation of a 15-year-old girl in 1989. Charges were filed against Clark in December after a DNA hit was made.
"The fact that Johnson himself has joined in the State's motion speaks volumes about this case."
Update: The District Court entered a second stay, and the Court of Appeals lifted it again. Text follows the jump.
Update 2: The Supreme Court denied a stay Friday morning. No dissent is noted.
Update 3: UPI story on the completed execution is here.
This suit is the first of its type to invoke the standing given to victims by Proposition 9 of 2008, the Victims' Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy's Law. Former California Governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson are co-counsel on the petition.
In the federal litigation initiated by Morales, the federal court has ruled three times that California could proceed with executions if it simply replaced its three-drug method with a single-drug method. Although Ohio, Washington, and Arizona have successfully adopted this method, CDCR stubbornly refuses to do, leaving in force an injunction against Morales's execution that it could have lifted six years ago.
CDCR has further allowed litigation under the Administrative Procedure Act to block executions, despite California Supreme Court precedent to the contrary and despite the existence of multiple available exceptions to that Act.
The action was announced this morning at a press conference at CJLF's office. The press release is here.
Agreement Made on Timetable to Reconsider Haugen's Death Sentence: Peter Wong of the Statesman Journal reports the timetable for Gary Haugen's request for the death penalty to be reinstated in his case was agreed upon in an open court proceeding today. Haugen has been in prison since 1981 for the murder of his girlfriend's mother, receiving a second sentence in 2004 for the murder of a fellow inmate. Haugen is seeking to reinstate the warrant Judge Joseph Guimond signed on Nov 21, 2011, prior to retiring. The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the warrant for his execution in a 4-3 decision. Haugen had been scheduled to die by lethal injection on Dec. 6, 2011, until Gov. John Kitzhaber announced on Nov. 22, 2011, he was issuing a reprieve to Haugen and imposing a moratorium on all executions until the end of his term on Jan. 12, 2015. The hearing is set for June 11, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. in Marion County Circuit Court after written arguments are submitted by Haugen's lawyers and by the state. In a statement in court Wednesday, Haugen called it "an unsolicited reprieve."
Kansas Pulls Inmates From County Jail After Four Escape: John Hanna of the Associated Press reports the Kansas inmates who were being held at the Ottawa County Jail have been moved back to a state facility after four inmates escaped Wednesday morning. Two still remain missing. The inmates armed themselves with homemade knives and were able to open the cell doors after overpowering guards after complaining about a broken water line in the holding area. Three of the inmates had medium-security status based on evaluations done when they entered the prison system. Records show the three also had numerous disciplinary issues while behind bars.
Four inmates escaped early Wednesday from a Kansas jail where they were transferred because of overcrowding at a state prison, and three of the men -- including a convicted murderer -- remained on the loose by late afternoon.* * *
Lawmakers are considering providing more funding and beds in state prisons. Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed using revenue from state-owned casinos to reopen a prison facility that was closed because of budget restraints in 2009. The Republican also wants to expand contracts with county jails.
The Corrections Department would rather purchase the St. Francis Boys' Home near the prison in Ellsworth to provide 95 additional beds.
"We'd better get that done because, apparently, farming them out doesn't work," Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, a Republican whose district includes the prison, said, adding that he's concerned that budget cuts have gone too far.
Ohio on Wednesday executed a man for fatally stabbing the 15-year-old son of his former employers during a 1985 farmhouse burglary, marking the state's first execution in six months.
Forty-nine-year-old Mark Wiles died by lethal injection at 10:42 a.m., ending an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty that occurred while the state and a federal judge wrangled over Ohio's lethal injection procedures. It was the 47th execution since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999.* * *
"Finally, the state of Ohio should not be in the business of killing its citizens," Wiles concluded, reading a statement that the warden held over his head. "May God bless us all that fall short."
Wiles' stomach rose and fell several times and his head moved slightly, then his mouth fell open and he lay still for several minutes before he was pronounced dead.
John Craig, a cousin of Wiles' victim Mark Klima and a witness of the execution, appeared briefly before reporters to respond to Wiles' last words.
"It's my opinion that Mark Wiles gave up his citizenship to Ohio when he murdered my cousin and became an inmate, more or less a condemned man," Craig said.* * *
Before the execution, [prisons director Gary] Mohr said he was "absolutely confident" in the state's ability to carry out the procedure properly.
"We have more documentation on this than anything in my 38 years that I've been in this business," Mohr said. "It's the most documented execution in the United States of America."
This might even be a case of a genuine claim of temporary insanity, even more rare.
In February last year, a group of murderers from Arizona, California, and Tennessee filed suit against the FDA claiming that agency was acting improperly in allowing imports of thiopental for use in lethal injection.
Last month, Federal District Judge Richard Leon in D.C. issued a remarkable opinion, complete with exclamation points, accepting the murderers' arguments. In addition to granting declaratory relief and enjoining the FDA from allowing further imports, the accompanying order says this:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the FDA:
1. immediately notify any and all state correctional departments which it has
reason to believe are still in possession of any foreign manufactured thiopental that the use of such drug is prohibited by law and that, that thiopental must be returned immediately to the FDA; ...
How is this wrong? Let me count the ways.
First, the gnarled syntax is a crime against the English language.
Proposition 200 requires prospective voters in Arizona to provide proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote, see Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-166(F) (the "registration provision"), and requires registered voters to show identification to cast a ballot at the polls, see Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-579(A) (the "polling place provision"). This appeal raises the questions whether Proposition 200 violates § 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1973, is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth or Twenty-fourth Amendments to the Constitution, or is void as inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973gg et seq. We uphold Proposition 200's requirement that voters show identification at the polling place, but conclude that the NVRA supersedes Proposition 200's registration provision as that provision is applied to applicants using the National Mail Voter Registration Form (the "Federal Form") to register to vote in federal elections.
California Prisons to Block Use of Unauthorized Phones: Jack Dolan of the Los Angeles Times reports a deal was made with Global Tel Link to disable the use of contraband cell devices at California prisons. Global Tel Link also owns the pay phones inmates are allowed to use, and will pay to install the new technology. Each prison will get its own cell tower that can be controlled by prison officials. There will be a list of approved phones that can send and receive signals, and any other devices will be rendered useless. Prison officials say a one-day test of a similar system at a single California prison last year intercepted more than 4,000 attempts to make calls, send text messages, or access the Internet. CDCR's press release is here.
Victim's Aunt Speaks Out About Execution of Nephew's Killer: Virginia Klima, the aunt of Mark Klima, who was killed by Mark Wiles more than 25 years ago, has this piece in the Plain Dealer (OH). Wiles is scheduled to be executed in Ohio Wednesday. "There are always two sides to every story. Unfortunately, if you murder the one person who can tell the story, we only hear one side," she writes. Wiles, who had previously been employed by the victim's family, bludgeoned their son to death in their living room because he caught Wiles robbing their home, and Wiles knew Mark would be able to identify him.
First Convictions Under Broadened Federal Hate-Crimes Law: Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports according to U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey, the convictions of two Kentucky women are the first in the U.S. under parts of the federal law covering crimes of violence motivated by a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation. The two women pleaded guilty to one charge of kidnapping and one charge of aiding others in causing bodily injury to the victim because he is gay. According to Harvey's office, in 2009, the law was broadened by Congress to include crimes of violence motivated by a person's actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Sentencing for the two women will be in August.
Oklahoma Board Denies Clemency to Condemned Inmate: Tim Talley of the Associated Press reports the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Monday voted 4-1 to reject death row inmate Michael Bascum Selsor's bid for clemency. Selsor is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection May 1 for killing a convenience store clerk during a robbery in 1975. Prosecutors said the victim suffered eight bullet wounds.
The Obama Administration's favorite antidiscrimination tool is "disparate impact," which relies on statistics to allege racial prejudice, regardless of intent. The Justice Department is using it to lean on banks to lend to more minorities, and now we hear the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission wants to use it to wield more power over business hiring.
Several sources tell us the Commission is working on policy guidance that would significantly limit companies' use of credit and criminal histories in hiring under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A Commission spokeswoman declined to comment by email, "citing Agency practice barring public discussion of any policy that may or may not be in development."
Employment of people with criminal histories is an important issue in rehabilitation, and we don't want to choke off opportunity entirely. After all, if the person really does want to go straight, employment is a big part of that effort. Even so, for some jobs we do not anyone with certain kinds of histories. We don't want embezzlers in accounting. We don't want child molesters in day care.
Section 1983 provides a cause of action against state actors who violate an individual's rights under federal law. 42 U. S. C. §1983. At common law, those who carried out the work of government enjoyed various protections from liability when doing so, in order to allow them to serve the government without undue fear of personal exposure. Our decisions have looked to these common law protections in affording either absolute or qualified immunity to individuals sued under §1983. The question in this case is whether an individual hired by the government to do its work is prohibited from seeking such immunity, solely be- cause he works for the government on something other than a permanent or full-time basis.
As you might guess from the phrasing of the question, the answer is no. The temporary or part-time government actor gets the same immunity, the Court held unanimously. Filarsky arises out of civil litigation, but its rationale would extend to an attorney who acts as a prosecutor on a less-than-full-time basis.
A citizen judge in the trial of confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was dismissed Tuesday for saying online that the anti-Muslim extremist deserves the death penalty for killing 77 people in a bomb-and-shooting massacre.It's not clear from the story whether he was removed for prejudging the case or for favoring the death penalty. The former would be valid.
Lawyers on all sides requested that lay judge Thomas Indreboe be dismissed for his comments online the day after the July 22 attacks.
CA Bill Would Require Qualifying Inmates to Pay for Imprisonment: The Paper reports California Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) has introduced a bill to require a court to order an offender to pay all or a portion of the costs of imprisonment in a state prison or county jail if they are able. The court would be required to order the defendant, before a hearing on the matter, to file a statement setting forth their assets, liability, and income. The latest version of the bill, SB 1124, is here. It will be heard in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.
Tennessee Appeals Court Upholds New Execution Procedures: Jamie Satterfield of the Knoxville News Sentinel reports the Tennessee Court of Appeals last week affirmed the decision by Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman that upheld a new state Department of Correction procedure under the state's three-drug lethal injection process. After an inmate is given a single dose of sodium thiopental, the warden will check to ensure the inmate is unconscious before the executioner is instructed to continue with the next two drugs. The decision is likely be appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court by current death row inmates. The court's opinion is here.
In the April 3 D.C. election, a man walked into a precinct, asked if they had an Eric Holder (being careful not to actually say or sign that he was Holder), and was nearly given Holder's ballot. WaPo story here. Project Veritas video here.
Some states, however, don't need a "stand your ground" statute because their courts never made a "duty to retreat" rule by caselaw in the first place. Bob Egelko has this story in the SF Chron noting that California is one such state. Overall, though, California law is not particularly friendly to people using deadly force against the initial aggressor. Of the three briefs that CJLF has filed in support of defendants over the years, two of them have been in California cases where the initial victim was charged with murder for using supposedly excessive force against the initial aggressor.
Both Egelko and Curt Anderson for AP note additional advantages for the defendant in the Florida law, aside from the "stand your ground" aspect.
Anderson says, "The U.S. Supreme Court has never weighed in on the constitutionality of such laws, and none has been struck down by a lower court." Well, of course not. People can, should, and do debate the wisdom of such laws, but what serious argument could be made that they are unconstitutional? It has apparently become part of our modern legal mentality that we assume every important question must be a constitutional question, and a federal one at that.
Bill Cosby weighs in with an interesting interview at CNN.
First, and most personally, the article quotes me out of context, and very badly so. It quotes a statement I made, "That's not the way a democracy is supposed to work," without telling the reader what "that" refers to. "That" was the action of the Connecticut Legislature passing a repeal bill when the vast majority of the people of that state oppose repeal. The way the quote follows another quote about the substantive decision on the repeal v. reform question makes it sound like I am saying that decision is not a proper subject for the democratic process, which would be absurd.
There are other errors and significant omissions in the article. The article cites "a comprehensive 2011 study [on costs] by Loyola Law School." Loyola has not done a study. There is an article by federal judge Arthur Alarcon and his career law clerk, Paula Mitchell (mostly by Mitchell and not much by Alarcon, I suspect). Mitchell happens to be an adjunct professor at Loyola, meaning she teaches a course or two on the side, but that does not transform the article into a Loyola Law School study. Whether this study is "comprehensive" or deeply flawed is a matter of opinion.
The article cites cost studies by opponents of the death penalty, but it does not mention other studies or criticisms of the studies it does cite. The issue is nowhere near so clear-cut.
The article very prominently features one mother of a murder victim who is opposed to the death penalty. It does not mention others who very much support it.
LAPD Makes Changes to Transgender Policies: CBS Los Angeles reports on the LAPD announcement that by the end of the month, arrested transgender men and women will be housed in a separate section of the Los Angeles Police Department's downtown Metropolitan Detention Center. The separate section will hold as many as 24 people. LAPD jail division commander Capt. Dave Lindsay also said the section's transgender detainees will have access to male or female clothes and medical care, including hormone treatments. Officers are also no longer allowed to pat down a transgendered person to determine their gender. Instead, Police Chief Charlie Beck said officers will have to rely on the person's clothing, language, or demeanor.
DNA Matches Lead to Arrests in Two Murders: The Associated Press reports DNA has linked an Indiana inmate to the rape and killing of a 19-year-old mother in Arkansas in 2000. Authorities plan to extradite Anthony Johnson to Arkansas, where he is expected to be charged with capital murder, rape, and kidnapping. The young mother had been raped, tortured, and strangled with a ligature. An initial match in a DNA database linked the slaying to 44-year-old Johnson, and officials in Indiana collected more DNA samples from him in prison. He was serving time for domestic battery, burglary, and intimidation in the beating of his girlfriend in Indiana. In Arizona, the Associated Press reports 45-year-old Raymond Rivera will be extradited from California to Arizona to face a first-degree murder charge in the 1998 killing of 62-year-old Habib Raies. The victim was found bleeding to death from a single gunshot wound to the chest in Phoenix. The case went cold, but was reopened in 2009 when DNA evidence taken from a water bottle and bite marks on Raies was tested. Last month Rivera was arrested in the Los Angeles area on a felony burglary charge. His DNA was taken, and was matched to the DNA taken from the Raies case.
The affidavit says Martin "was on his way back to the townhouse where he was living when he was profiled by George Zimmerman." It does not explain what it means by "profiled," a word that has become loaded in recent years.
The affidavit says Zimmerman continued to follow Martin after being told not to by the dispatcher and that Zimmerman confronted Martin, contrary to Zimmerman's version of being attacked from behind while walking back to his vehicle.
On the critical issue of the voice calling for help on the 911 calls, the affidavit says, "Trayvon Martin's mother has reviewed the 911 calls and identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin's voice." Well, that's disappointing. I was hoping for something more scientific. Both sets of parents claim it is their own son's voice. Shouldn't the investigation have included an expert analysis?
David Alan Gore was set to be executed Thursday nearly 29 years after murdering 17-year-old Lynn Elliott, whose attempted escape ended a string of rapes and murders that shook the quiet coastal town of Vero Beach.So what did take so long?
In all, Gore killed four teenage girls and two women. Elliott's murder is the only one for which he's condemned. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison. It's a day Elliott's parents have been waiting for - they say living for - and one many think should have come years ago considering there is no doubt he committed the crimes and he has shown no remorse for the killings.
"For us it's been a nightmare, because I just turned 81. I was beginning to think that I might die before he went," said Carl Elliott, the girl's father.
Jeanne Elliott almost did die. About two years ago she was in a coma, and doctors told her son to begin making funeral arrangements. She suddenly began recovering, and she said she believes it was because of her wish to see Gore die first.
I would offer to bet a beer that certiorari will be denied, but maybe there's something in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 about that, so I won't.
Stay of Execution for Oklahoma Killer: The Associated Press reports a federal judge in Oklahoma City has issued a stay of execution for Garry Allen, who was scheduled to be executed Thursday for killing a woman in 1986, with whom he had two children. She had broken off the relationship three days before the murder and sought a protective order. Allen shot her four times while she was picking up their sons at daycare. He resisted arrest when police arrived, and was shot in the head, losing an eye. The governor's office said Allen's execution was stayed to give him "adequate opportunity to litigate claims regarding competency." Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office filed an appeal of the stay with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday, arguing Allen has been found sane by the courts. His attorney's have said his head injury caused mental impairments. "Now they are trying to say he is not competent, but he did this," said Adrian Titsworth, the victim's son. "The gunshot wound was after the fact."
Connecticut House Approves Death Penalty Repeal: Douglas Stanglin of USA Today reports after 10 hours of debate, the Connecticut House approved and sent to the governor a bill to abolish the death penalty in the state. The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House mostly along party lines, 86-62.
Louisiana Bill Would Give Twice-Convicted Felons Earlier Chance at Parole: Ed Anderson of The Times-Picayune reports Louisiana's Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice sent to the House floor on a unanimous vote legislation that would allow second-time felons a chance to apply for parole after serving one-third of their sentence. Currently in the state, second-time felons have to serve half of their sentence before they are eligible to seek parole. The bill would not apply to felons sentenced for crimes of violence or sex-related offenses. The bill is expected to be debated on the House floor next week.
In 1971, Manson received a thoroughly deserved sentence of death. The next year, the California Supreme Court misconstrued the state's constitution to prohibit the death penalty -- despite the fact that the state's original constitutional convention had expressly decided the precise question the other way and the relevant language had been carried over unchanged in subsequent revisions. (People v. Anderson, 6 Cal.3d 628 (1972).) A few months later, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all remaining capital sentencing laws in the country -- despite the fact it had carefully considered and rejected essentially the same claim the year before in a California case. (Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972); McGautha v. California, 402 U.S. 183 (1971).)
Manson's sentence was changed to life in prison, and at the time life with possibility of parole was the only legal alternative. The spectacle of these periodic hearings serves only to highlight the travesty of justice, and it would be a travesty with or without the hearings.
Manson is allowed to live out his natural life. He is able to network with his fan base on his smuggled cell phone. This simply is not sufficient punishment for the horrific crimes he committed.
California's death row today holds some killers whose evilness is in the same league with Manson. There is Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, convicted of 13 murders, 5 attempts, and 11 sexual assaults. There is David Carpenter, the Trailside Killer, convicted of nine murders in two separate trials.
The question before the people of California this November is whether we will commit the same travesty of justice in these cases and many others as the courts committed in the Manson case.
As Murders Rise in Chicago, Focus is on Gangs: Frank Main of the Chicago Sun-Times reports Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling for anti-gang legislation as murders rose 60 percent in the city for the first three months of 2012 compared to the same time last year. A bill passed by the House and now pending in the Senate would allow racketeering prosecutions of those directly or indirectly involved in gang activity through violent crimes, gun and drug crimes, or collection of illegal debts. A conviction would carry a fine of up to $250,000 and 10 to 30 years in prison.
Charles Manson Denied Parole for 12th Time: Linda Deutsch of the Associated Press reports California mass murderer Charles Manson was denied parole Tuesday for the 12th time. Manson and three female cult followers were convicted of slaying five people in 1969. Manson was also convicted of two other unrelated murders. The last parole hearing he attended was in 1997. Manson has been cited twice for having smuggled cell phones, and was cited for having a homemade weapon in his cell in October. He was originally sentenced to death, but his penalty was changed when the death penalty was temporarily outlawed in 1972.
Connecticut House Debates Death Penalty Repeal: The Associated Press reports the Connecticut House Tuesday began debating the death penalty repeal bill passed in the state Senate last week. The bill abolishes the death penalty in the state and replaces it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Offenders convicted under the new law would face prison conditions similar to those currently experienced by condemned inmates. Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has said he will support the bill.
Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey plans to announce as early as Wednesday afternoon that she is charging neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation.Update: Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, Gary Fineout and Brendan Farrington report for AP.
It was not immediately clear what charge Zimmerman will face.
Police in Taft say a career criminal is demonstrating what's wrong with the new state law that keeps non-violent offenders out of state prison. The suspect is facing new charges that could have him spending 26 years in county jail.
Increase in Officer Deaths Prompts Change from FBI: Michael S. Schmidt and Joseph Goldstein of The New York Times report the number of officers killed in the line of duty has increased by 76% over the last four years, and a series of killings in early 2011 prompted Attorney General Eric Holder to ask federal authorities to work with local police departments in search of solutions to the problem. The FBI paid for a study done by John Jay College that found in many of the cases, officers were trying to stop or arrest a suspect who had been previously arrested for a violent crime. Officials said that prompted the FBI to change what information was provided to local police departments. Starting this year, when police officers call a car's license plate into the FBI's database, they will be told whether the vehicle's owner has a violent history. The number of police fatalities has dropped during the first three months of this year.
Philadelphia Trains Officers to Tweet: Elizabeth Fiedler of WHYY reports the Philadelphia Police Department is training around 15 police officers across the city and of various ranks to use Twitter to help police better protect and build a stronger rapport with residents. Karima Zedan, director of communications for the Philadelphia Police Department, says officers tweeting while on the beat will allow police to communicate about safety and crime with those in individual neighborhoods.
The special prosecutor has decided not to take the case to the grand jury. AP story is here. What does that mean? Not much. The grand jury was once considered a key protection, and for federal cases it is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment, but the institution is largely obsolete and most states have made it optional. California's law was upheld by the US Supreme Court way back in 1884, and the grand jury indictment clause remains one of the few provisions of the Bill of Rights not "incorporated" and applied to the states. The AP story indicates that the decision to pass on the grand jury rules out a first-degree murder charge in Florida, but this case was highly unlikely to be first-degree murder anyway.
William McGurn in the WSJ asks "What Would Atticus Do?" in light of the recent 50th anniversary of the film version of To Kill A Mockingbird and the showing of the film at the White House. The parallels are not as obvious as some think, McGurn says.
NBC News has fired the producer who made the infamously distorting edit of the Zimmerman phone tape. Erik Wemple at the WaPo's media blog discusses whether it was error or intentional distortion. He notes, "Effort would be required to contrive a more injurious abridgement of the tape, at least as far as Zimmerman's interests are concerned. The prima facie outrageousness of the editing, in fact, convinced a vocal group that NBC had acted deliberately -- that it was out to tar Zimmerman." Even so, Wemple says, "I am not pitching a tent in the 'deliberate' camp. I've seen too many errors over the years, and I know how simple carelessness can come off as a conspiracy."
Alabama Supreme Court Halts Execution: Eric Velasco of The Birmingham News reports the Alabama Supreme Court on Monday halted the execution of Cary Dale Grayson, which was scheduled for Thursday. In 1994, Grayson and three others picked up hitchhiker Vicki Lynn DeBlieux, who they beat, murdered, and threw off a cliff. Grayson and two of the boys returned to the scene later, where they mutilated DeBlieux's body, stabbing her more than 180 times. They kept a severed finger as a souvenir, which they showed off to others. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month halted the execution of Tommy Arthur scheduled for March 29 after his lawyers challenged a change in the drugs used in Alabama's lethal injection process. The Alabama Supreme Court issued a stay for Grayson pending further order of the court.
Wisconsin Governor Signs Handful of Criminal Justice Bills: Gitte Laasby of the Journal Sentinel reports Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed seven criminal justice bills into law Monday morning. Among them was Senate Bill 173, which will give police, prosecutors, and judges faster access to electronic juvenile records. Mallory O'Brien of Milwaukee's Homicide Review Commission said, "That information has to be shared. If they don't know that they're on supervision in the first place, they're never going to be sharing the information. It just kind of closes a loop that was kind of wide open with no accountability." Walker also signed Assembly Bill 397, also known as Caylee's law, related to penalties for failing to report the death of a child or to report a missing child, moving the corpse of a child, and hiding a corpse to collect public benefits.
Florida Governor Signs Bil Inspired by Caylee Anthony's Death: The Associated Press reports Florida Governor Rick Scott on Friday signed into law legislation inspired by the death of Caylee Anthony. The law increases the maximum penalty for knowingly making a false statement to police about a missing child from a year in jail to five years in prison. Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, was convicted on four counts of lying to investigators and her four-year maximum sentence was completed by the time she was acquitted of murdering her daughter. If the law had been in effect at the time, she would have gotten up to 20 years in prison.
Yet the Ninth Circuit's application of Jackson v. Virginia to overturn the conviction was "plainly wrong." The jury resolved the conflicting evidence in favor of guilt, unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt, and the state courts properly deferred to the factfinder's decision.
To see the "bad law" potential of this case, see another case reversed by the Supreme Court a few years ago, also from the Ninth Circuit, also based on Jackson v. Virginia. Troy Brown was guilty as sin of a horrible rape of a little girl. The case was not capital murder only because she survived, no thanks to Brown. The Ninth completely botched it. The unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court is here. CJLF brief is here.
The criminal justice system does have a safety valve for unusual cases where a properly conducted trial may have reached an unjust result. That "safety valve" power is vested in the executive branch, not the judiciary. It is executive clemency.
On Friday, Gov. Brown commuted Ms. Smith's sentence. David Siders has this post at the SacBee. Curiously, I couldn't find the commutation statement on the Gov's website. Update: Still not on the Gov's site, but I found it here.
has been debased in our Tilt-a-Whirl media culture that can't distinguish between notoriety and fame. In contemporary America, redemption begins sometime between the first check-in into rehab and the first cable-TV interview, and reaches completion when everyone gets distracted by someone else's attention-grabbing disgrace.
Colson left government after Nixon's reelection, feeling exhausted and empty. As the furor over Watergate grew, he visited a friend one night, a successful businessman who had converted to Christianity. The friend read a passage from C. S. Lewis: "Pride always means enmity -- it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." Later, Colson sat in his car outside the house weeping alone in the darkness, not tears of sadness nor of joy, but "of relief."
When he realized that the exigencies of his legal defense were inconsistent with the forthrightness entailed by his new faith, he pleaded guilty and became Prisoner 23226 at Maxwell Federal Prison Camp in Alabama.
Today, Good Friday, might be the time to recall that, although claims of redemption are often hogwash and should be treated as such, "often" is not "always."
Then there is the last sentence: "The President's remarks were fully consistent with the principles described herein."
I've already said in a previous post and a comment that I think the president's original statement was preposterous but also that Judge Smith was out of line. I won't comment any further. Cut loose in the comments, if you like.
Passed in 1977, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA") set out to achieve a laudable goal: to prevent U.S. companies and persons, when conducting business abroad, from corrupting the governments and people they meet.... Unfortunately, that unobjectionable vision has virtually disappeared in a miasma of aggressive prosecutions by the Justice Department--with $2.95 billion in penalties collected since 2009.
My report to the Connecticut General Assembly last year, Mend It, Don't End It, is here.
The people of Connecticut oppose repeal 62-31, according to the Quinnipiac Poll, but the opinions of the great unwashed apparently don't matter to a majority of the Senate.
The repeal is prospective only, so the well-deserved sentences of those presently on death row in Connecticut can, in theory, be carried out. The murderers will surely make an equal protection challenge, which should be rejected, but we'll see.
I expect that the deceased vote will be 100% against this proposal.
Steele Argues Trayvon Martin Exploited: Shelby Steele of the Wall Street Journal writes there are two tragedies which took place in the case of Trayvon Martin; first, an unarmed teenager committing no crime was shot dead, and second, since the 1960s, the black American identity has shifted from common humanity to historical victimization. Steele argues this shift in identity was the worst mistake black Americans could have made. He describes a generation of ambulance-chasing, stating the greatest power current black leaders have "lies in the manipulation of white guilt" through poetic truth. According to Steele, the tragedy in the death of Martin is not the possibility of white racism, particularly since his shooter, George Zimmerman, was Hispanic. The tragedy lies in the desire many black leaders have in combination with the media to exploit tragedies and further their agendas.
Access to Drugs Could Put Executions on Hold: Kimberly Leonard of iWatch News reports a federal judge ruled to block the import of sodium thiopental. An alternative for the lethal injection is pentobarbital, though it is expected that its supplies may become limited. With manufacturers selling pentobarbital directly to health care facilities and the drug having a shelf-life of about 18 months, the stockpiles states bought prior to distribution limitations may expire before use. While the FDA has not approved pentobarbital for use in executions or as anesthesia, Ed Elder, director at Lenor Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the use of drugs in executions may fall outside of FDA oversight, a position the FDA has taken in the past. Mike Rushford of the CJLF said the important thing is not which drugs states use specifically, but to simplify the process so arguments against lethal injections have little ground left to stand on. Rushford said concerns regarding lethal injections are "claims by people who wouldn't want to execute any murderer under any circumstances by any means." Whether states will be able to maintain access to lethal injections and continue executions remains to be seen.
Louisiana Lawmakers Seek to Rewrite Sex Offender Social Networking Ban: The Associated Press reports a bid seeking to rewrite a state law to ban certain sex offenders from social networking sites, such as Facebook, began moving through the Louisiana Legislature on Wednesday. The existing law is argued to violate a convicted sex offender's free speech protections and was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge. The bill is sought by Gov. Bobby Jindal and sponsored by Rep. Ledricka Thierry, and will more narrowly define what specific sites are banned in hopes that it could withstand a court challenge. Thierry's bill would ban anyone convicted of a sex offense against a minor or of video voyeurism from websites whose primary purpose is "facilitating social interaction with other users of the website and which allows users to create web pages or profiles about themselves that are available to the public or other users." The bill is heading to the full House for debate.
A senior Pentagon official on Wednesday authorized a new trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a step that restarts the most momentous terrorism case likely to be held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The suspects were first charged in a military commission in 2008, but the case was suspended when the Obama administration came into office and later moved to have them tried in federal court in New York.That effort collapsed in the face of congressional and local opposition. In April 2011, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that he was reluctantly sending the case back to the military.
In World War II, U-boat saboteur Richard Quirin was arrested June 20, 1942, the Supreme Court decided his case July 31, 1942, and he was executed August 8, 1942.
Where is FDR when we need him?
Justice Department Threatens to Sue Arizona Sheriff: Sari Horwitz of The Washington Post reports the Justice Department threatened to sue Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Tuesday when negotiations fell through in the case where Justice officials have accused Arpaio of discriminating against Hispanics. Arpaio refused to agree to one of the Justice Department's requirements, an independent monitor to oversee changes in his department. Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said they hope to resolve the issues, "but we will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action if the [Maricopa County Sheriff's Office] chooses a different course of action." This is one of 17 probes the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is conducting of sheriff and police departments, which is the most in its 54-year history.
Appeals Court Hears Case in Surrendering of Rhode Island Murderer: Laura Crimaldi of the Associated Press reports a five-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday heard arguments in the case of Jason Pleau, who Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is refusing to surrender to federal authorities because he could face the death penalty if prosecuted in federal court. Rhode Island does not have the death penalty. Pleau is accused of fatally shooting a gas station manager outside of a bank in 2010 and making off with a bank deposit bag with more than $12,000 inside. Pleau is serving an 18-year-sentence in state prison for a probation violation in another case.
Ohio's first execution in six months can proceed, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying it appears the state is serious about following its own lethal injection procedures.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost ends an unofficial moratorium dating to November, when members of the Ohio execution team deviated from the official injection procedures when putting a Cleveland man to death.
The changes were minor -- failing to properly check a box on a medical form, for example -- but they angered Frost, who had previously criticized the state for failing to follow its rules.
The judge's decision followed a seven-day trial over the state's lethal injection process last month.
The ruling paves the way for the April 18 execution of Mark Wiles for stabbing a 15-year-old boy to death during a farmhouse burglary.
"Ultimately I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress," President Obama said. Whatever else may be said on this topic, "unprecedented" is preposterous.
Los Angeles County Supervision of Ex-Cons Off to a Rough Start: Jason Song of the Los Angeles Times reports the shift of about 6,000 released prisoners now being supervised by local officials under realignment has gotten off to a rough start in Los Angeles County. Many offenders are not showing up for counseling appointments and some care centers are not being reimbursed. About a quarter of the probationers have been arrested for new crimes in the six months since realignment went into effect. That number could continue to climb, especially since about 10% of released convicts have gone missing or are not attending meetings.
Sheriff Introduces Chess Program at Chicago Jail: Don Babwin of the Associated Press reports Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has launched a chess program at the county jail in Chicago. Dart says he hopes inmates can apply what they learn from the game about patience and problem-solving to their own lives. "We see it day-in and day-out that people want instant gratification and that often individuals do not think before they act," Dart said Monday. "Thoughtless actions will hurt you while playing chess and hurt you more on the street." 100 inmates are currently participating, and Dart's office said ultimately about 150 inmates are to take part.
Two More Victims of Speed Freak Killers Identified: Justin Berton of the San Francisco Chronicle reports police said Friday they had identified the remains of two teenage victims of the Speed Freak Killers, whose skeletal remains had been excavated from a compacted well where 1,000 bone fragments have been collected by investigators in recent weeks. The victims identified were Kimberly Billy, who was 19 when she went missing in 1984, and Joann Hobson, who was 16 when she disappeared in 1985. "They finally get the closure they need," said Rob Dick, a private investigator who has worked with victims' families during the three-decade investigation. "These families have been dying for answers." Sheriff Steve Moore said Friday the bones of a third victim were also found, but could not be identified.
Execution Date Set for Georgia Inmate: Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Daniel Greene has been scheduled for execution April 19 in Georgia for the 1991 murder of 19-year-old Bernard Walker. Walker was trying to help a store clerk after Greene forced her to give him money from the cash register before taking her to the back room and stabbing her. The store clerk survived, but Greene stabbed Walker in the heart, and he died in the parking lot. After killing Walker, Greene drove to home of a couple who he had previously worked for and stabbed them multiple times. The couple survived. Green then drove to another convenience store where he pulled a knife on the store attendant. After she gave Green money from the cash register, he stabbed her in the back of the shoulder before fleeing. Greene later confessed to the crimes in a videotaped interview, saying he needed the money for crack cocaine.
CA Bill Proposed to Prohibit Medically Unnecessary Procedures for Inmates: Turnto23.com reports from Bakersfield that California Senator Michael J. Rubio (D - Shafter) announced his proposed legislation, SB 1079, which would establish state law prohibiting medically unnecessary procedures and services for inmates, was passed out of the Senate Health Committee Wednesday afternoon. The bill would prevent taxpayer money from being used to pay for treatments including sex changes, infertility treatments, breast enlargements, and weight reduction surgery for inmates. The most recent version of the bill, which now goes to the Senate Committee on Public Safety, is here.
Trayvon Martin Case Puts Worst Media Tendencies on Display: Dylan Stableford of The Cutline/Yahoo! News reports how the Trayvon Martin case out of Florida has exposed the worst media tendencies, which include selective editing, fake photos, rushed judgments, and invoking anger for ratings and page views. Stableford points to three recent examples from the Daily Caller, the "Today" show, and CBS News.
Charges Dropped Against Man Who Shot Intruder: Lauren Fitzpatrick of the Chicago Sun-Times reports prosecutors on Monday dropped weapons charges against Homer Wright, 81, who had shot in the ankle a man who had broken into his bar to steal alcohol. Anthony Robinson, 19, was charged with burglary and is being held on bail. Court records show Robinson has been arrested at least 13 times since 2009, primarily for theft, burglary, and minor drug offenses, and that he skipped multiple hearings. See previous post here.
The Court dropped a harmless error case, Vasquez v. U.S. No explanation is given, as usual. Tejinder Singh has this post at SCOTUSblog.
The Court accepted for review yet another case on what is an "aggravated felony" for purpose of deportation, Moncrieffe v. Holder, No. 11-702.
Justice Alito's concurring opinion notes:
It is important to note, however, that the Court does not hold that it is always reasonable to conduct a full strip search of an arrestee whose detention has not been reviewed by a judicial officer and who could be held in available facilities apart from the general population.* * *The Court does not address whether it is always reasonable, without regard to the offense or the reason for detention, to strip search an arrestee before the arrestee's detention has been reviewed by a judicial officer. The lead opinion explicitly reserves judgment on that question. See ante, at 18-19. In light of that limitation, I join the opinion of the Court in full.
Opponents of capital punishment regularly harp on how it has been abandoned by Europe, but they rarely mention Asia. Such an emphasis would be condemned as eurocentric or even racist if advanced in support of a Politically Incorrect position, but because it is advanced for a Politically Correct position it is okay.