October 2016 Archives

News Scan

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GA Man Gets Execution Date:  A Georgia man on death row for killing his ex-girlfriend over 15 years ago is scheduled to be executed next month, the state Corrections Commissioner announced last Thursday.  Kate Brumback of the AP reports that Steven Frederick Spears, 54, will be put to death by lethal injection on Nov. 16 for the August 2001 murder of Sherri Holland, whom he killed after suspecting her of dating someone else.  Spears hid in a closet in Holland's home and waiting for her to fall asleep, and then choked her, wrapped tape around her mouth and face, and put a plastic bag over her head.  Spears will be the eighth inmate executed in the state this year.

Jury Finds NE Man Eligible for Death Penalty:  A jury last week found a Nebraska man guilty of murder and determined that there are enough aggravating circumstances to make him eligible for the death penalty.  KETV reports that Anthony Garcia was convicted Wednesday of four counts of first-degree murder in the 2008 killings of Thomas Hunter, 11, his family's housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, and the 2013 slayings of Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife, Mary.  The murders were for revenge after Dr. William Hunter, Thomas' father, and Brumback fired Garcia in 2001.  The aggravating factors found on Friday by the jury were that the murders were especially heinous, more than one person was killed and the murders were committed to conceal the identity of the killer.  Garcia now faces a three-judge panel, which must agree with the jury on aggravated circumstances in order to impose a death sentence.  A death sentence, however, will only stand if Nebraska voters vote to bring back the death penalty in the November election.

Deadliest Weekend in Chicago this Year:  Chicago saw its deadliest weekend so far this year, with 17 killed and 42 wounded in shootings and homicides across the city.  The Chicago Tribune reports that among the 17 victims that were killed between Friday afternoon and Monday, seven were younger than 20 and included a 14-year-old honors student and twin 17-year-old boys.  The weekend toll surpassed that of Father's Day weekend, which had been the most violent up until now with 59 people shot and 13 killed, and also exceeded the numbers of the three long summer holiday weekends -- Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day -- which are typified by spikes in violence due to warmer weather.  So far this year in the city, 638 people have been killed, 217 more than this time last year, and at least 3,662 have been injured in shootings, 1,106 more than during the same period last year.  Update:  Shibani Mahtani has this story in the WSJ.

OK Fugitive Killed in Shootout:  A weeklong manhunt for an Oklahoma man wanted for murdering two relatives, shooting three law enforcement officers and multiple carjackings has ended in a police chase and shootout that left him dead.  The AP reports that Michael Dale Vance Jr., 38, began his crime spree on Oct. 23 when he shot and injured a woman for her car, which he drove to his relatives' home, where he killed them.  Vance also shot and wounded two responding police officers and fled, committing more carjackings in an effort to evade capture.  Police were finally tipped off on Vance's location on Monday.  In the process of trying to apprehend Vance, he shot a sheriff in the shoulder and arm, and then led police on a 30-minute chase before being fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire with a state trooper.  The sheriff's wounds were non-life threatening.  Authorities say that the deaths of Vance's relatives were "rage killings" connected to a pending sexual assault case filed against him by a 15-year-old girl.  He was scheduled to appear in court on the charge in one week.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Phil McCausland reports for NBC:

A group of Democratic senators on Saturday sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking for more details about the new development in the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

The letter signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Thomas Carper and Ben Cardin called a letter sent to Congress about newly discovered emails that could be pertinent to the investigation "vaguely worded" and open for misinterpretation with just a little more than a week before the election.

Are you sure you want that, Honorable Senators?  A demand to replace vagueness with clarity this close to the election is like doubling down in blackjack.  If that card is turned over, do you really think it is more likely to give you a 21 than a 13?  I don't.

Why did Director Comey make this announcement?  Would he have made it if the emails in question are really no big deal?  That seems inconceivable to me.  Just look at the list of people who are now seriously ticked off at him:

Brett Kendall reports in the WSJ:

WASHINGTON--The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider whether North Carolina can bar individuals on the state's sex-offender registry from accessing social-media websites such as Facebook.

The high court, in a brief written order, agreed to take up the appeal of Lester Packingham, who was convicted of violating the social-media ban after a Durham, N.C., police officer in 2010 found a Facebook post in which the defendant happily announced the dismissal of a traffic ticket. "Man God is Good!" the post said.

Mr. Packingham in 2002 pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties with a 13-year-old when he was age 21.

A North Carolina law enacted in 2008 prohibits sex offenders from accessing social-networking sites when the offender knows that the site allows minors to become members. The Supreme Court will consider whether that law is allowed under the Constitution.
Newspaper editorials contain both opinions and factual assertions supporting those opinions.  Editorial writers, like everyone else, are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts, as the saying goes.  Professionalism requires that the facts in an editorial be checked as carefully as those in a news story.

Last week the Los Angeles Times failed this standard and published an editorial that blatantly misrepresented the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Calderon v. Thompson, 523 U.S. 538 (1998).  In so doing, the Times defamed the Court and, even worse, misled its readers on a vitally important public issue they will be voting on shortly.

Did anyone at the Times actually read the opinion before publishing this editorial, or did they just regurgitate the propaganda fed to them by the anti-death-penalty lobby?  It is difficult to believe they read it.

Trouble in Poll-Land

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We talk a considerable amount about polls on this blog, enough to devote a category to them.

But polling is getting harder, and the pollsters have done some belly flops in recent years, including the Kentucky Governor election and Brexit.  Ryan Knutson has this article in the WSJ on the challenges and responses.

The problem of the growing number of people who have only cellphones, no landline, and the legal prohibition on robocalling cell phones is well known.  Here is another problem I did not know about.

In 1997, 36% of households sampled agreed to participate in a poll, according to the Pew Research Center. Now it is 9%. This means thousands more calls must be made for a telephone survey to reach a sufficient sample.
Wow.  It's not just more calls.  How do we know the 9% who will talk to pollsters are representative of the 91% who will not?  Pollsters can match on demographics, but demographics are not everything.  Is it possible that willingness to take the poll correlates to views on the questions being asked, even after demographic adjustments are made?  That seems to me to be entirely plausible.

A variety of new polling methods are being used, but until they have a track record we won't know how valid they are.

News Scan

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Obama Grants 98 More Commutations:  President Obama commuted the sentences of 98 federal inmates Thursday, bringing his total number of commutations to 872, more than the previous 11 presidents combined.  Dave Boyer of the Washington Times reports that of the inmates granted clemency, 19 committed crimes with firearms, 42 had life sentences for drug offenses, 11 had convictions of trafficking at least 11 pounds of cocaine and several others were convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Earlier this month, Obama commuted the sentenced of another 102 prisoners.  This year alone, Obama has granted clemency to 688 prisoners.

La. Man to Face Death Penalty:  The Jefferson Parish district attorney's office announced Thursday that it will pursue the death penalty against a Louisiana man, marking the second capital punishment case the office announced in a two week period, following a three-year lull.  The New Orleans Time-Picayune reports that Joshua Every faces a death sentence for the murder of a restaurant manager in a robbery-turned-homicide.  The decision to seek the death penalty was made after District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. met with the victim's family.  Earlier this month, Connick announced he will seek the death penalty against Jerman Neveaux Jr., 19, who fatally shot Sheriff's Office detective David Michel Jr. during a stop.

MD Sheriff Begins Immigrant Screening Program:  A Maryland sheriff has implemented a new program in his department to screen for dangerous illegal immigrants and see that they are deported.  NumbersUSA reports that Maryland Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler signed a 287(g) local/federal partnership which will allow his deputies to screen for illegal immigrants with a criminal history identifying them as a threat to the community.  Once these criminals are identified, the deputies will be able to collaborate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure that the criminals are deported back to their home countries.  ICE representative Tom Homan states that 287(g) is not meant to target all illegal aliens, but intends to deal with those that pose a threat to public safety.

Battle on the Ballot

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CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger and Attorney Donald Heller speak on KFBK Radio about opposing death penalty initiatives on the November ballot:  Prop 62, which would repeal the death penalty, and Prop 66, which would expedite executions.

Listen to the debate here.
President Obama continues his reckless and ideologically-driven course of handing out commutations in record numbers.  Just this year, he's handed out 688 of them, dozens to inmates with firearms as well as hard drug convictions.  This is from the same President who says he's worried about "gun violence."  Apparently, he's most worried about it when guns are in the hands of normal, law-abiding people, less so when they're in the hands of felons who've been packin' heat to their 2 a.m. drug deals.

The commutation story is covered by Brendan Kirby in a relatively new and very worthwhile online publication, Lifezette.  The article is here; it quotes me a few times.

When it could no longer be hidden that murder and heroin overdose deaths have been spiking for (now) close to two years, the once-sanguine Congressional prospects for "sentencing reform," i.e., sentencing reduction, took a nosedive.  The President saw this, and did what he so often does:  He just walked past the reasons for Congress's wise caution and used unilateral executive power, knowing he would never again have to face the electorate.

If you think Bill Clinton's disgraceful midnight pardons were a doozie, you're right. But I strongly suspect you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Young Adults as Juveniles

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Should 25 year olds be tried as juveniles? 

That is the title of a recent article in the New Republic that lays out the claim that because brain imaging suggests that some people's brains in their early 20s have not maximized their myelination (e.g., the white matter that insulates the neurons) then should not be punished as adults.  This is just the latest stop on the merry go 'round of using brain images to set public policy.  So let us review the problems with this line of thinking (something I've done for many years now):

1.  No one has a perfect brain.  All of us have brains that have been damaged by what may be called "life."  We don't get enough sleep, we eat poorly, we fall and hit our heads (hopefully infrequently), many of us drink alcohol or we consume excessive amounts of sugar.  And as soon as our brains finalize their myelination, they age.  There is no moral agent out there with an optimal brain.

Should the Police Seek Community Trust?

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One theme of the Black Lives Matter movement is that rampant police brutality has cost the police the "community's" supposed "trust," and that the police need to earn it back by genuflecting to BLM's (and the Administration's) sneering cops-should-sit-in-the-corner attitude.

BLM is exactly correct that police should earn the trust of normal, law-abiding members of the community.  Of course, they already have that trust in record numbers, as this week's Gallup poll makes clear.  Police are vastly more trusted than, to take one example, lawyers (76% to 21%).

But we should not want thugs and punks like these  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/10/26/flash-mob-of-150-teens-attacks-temple-university-students-cops-in-philly/  to trust the police.  We should want them to fear the police, the more the better.

I will welcome comments to make the case otherwise

A Conversation With Justice Thomas

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Video of an hour-long conversation with Justice Clarence Thomas is available here.   The event is the annual Joseph Story lecture, presented in an unusual conversational form.  Former Attorney General Edwin Meese gives the introduction, and John Malcolm of Heritage conducts the interview.

Foul Play on 62 Campaign

James Rojas reports for KABC (LA): 

The campaign seeking to abolish the state's death penalty is in some hot water after advocating to high school students in East Los Angeles without the school's permission.

The Garfield High School administration says it was never told that members of Yes on 62 would be on campus.

"Always will be a risk to execute an innocent one."

Last Friday, death row exoneree Juan Melendez and another speaker told students to convince their parents to vote yes on the measure. Kent Scheidegger is with the No on 62 campaign.

"Basically, a one-sided campaign event and it's not an appropriate thing to hold on a school campus."

The LA Unified School District says what happened was against policy. The Yes on 62 campaign has not responded for comment.

With large numbers of people getting their information primarily from alternative media, mostly on the Internet, the prosecution side of criminal law may need to rethink how it approaches cases and public opinion.  Tony Saavedra writes in the Orange County (CA) Register:

It's a standard line in almost any Hollywood legal drama: A prosecutor tells a herd of reporters he won't answer a question because "I don't want to try this case in the court of public opinion."

In real life, that premise might be changing.

Go to YouTube this week and punch in the words "Orange County District Attorney and Kenneth Clair" and you'll find a legal drama playing out almost exclusively in the court of public opinion.

On one side is the first in a series of short videos from the District Attorney's Office explaining why it thinks there should be no new trial, or any leniency for Clair, who in 1987 was convicted of the murder three years earlier of Linda Faye Rodgers, a Santa Ana nanny.

Note the important distinction that this is a long-ago trial in which the judgment is being collaterally attacked.  This is not a case presently going before a jury, and it never will go to a jury again if the DA and AG can help it.

Advocates for death row inmates regularly whip up public opinion on the net with misleading characterizations of the case.  When Georgia sought to execute cop-killer Troy Davis, there was a national furor.  The U.S. Supreme Court took the extremely rare step of entertaining a habeas corpus petition filed directly in that court and transferring it to a district court for hearing and findings.  The district court judge, after hearing the witnesses in person, held that Davis's case was "largely smoke and mirrors" and "not credible or lacking in probative value."  The bottom line was, "Mr. Davis is not innocent."  Would the case have gotten that far if the PR campaign for Davis had been met with a PR response?  Would that be a better result?

News Scan

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Palm Springs Cop Killer Faces Death Sentence:  The death penalty will be sought against the California man who fatally shot two Palm Springs officers earlier this month, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office announced this week.  Patrick Edgell of KESQ reports that John Hernandez Felix, 26, an admitted and known gang member, faces two counts of murder for gunning down Office Jose Gilbert Vega, 63, and Officer Lesley Zerenby, 27, during a domestic call on Oct. 8.  Special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, murder of a police officer and lying in wait make Felix eligible for the death penalty.  Felix is also charged with three counts of attempted murder for firing at three other Palm Springs police officers, one of whom was shot and injured.  There are several allegations attached to the two murder and three attempted murder charges, including possession of armor-piercing ammunition, unlawful possession of an assault weapon and wearing a body vest during the commission of a violent crime.  He pleaded not guilty to the charges on Oct. 13.

Thousands of Birthright Citizens Born in One Year:  Illegal immigrant mothers gave birth to 275,000 babies in 2014, representing enough birthright citizens to fill Orlando, Fla.  Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports that an analysis form the National Center for Health Statistics found that newborns to illegals accounted for 7% of all births in 2014 and 32% of all U.S. births to foreign-born mothers.  The analysis concluded that immigrant births are driving the birthrate growth in the U.S.

Polls Find Wide Support in CA for Death Penalty: 
Charles Lane for WaPo writes that out of five statewide polls conducted in California since Sept. 1, only one, a Field Poll, showed Prop. 62 -- the ballot initiative that would abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole -- ahead, indicating that there is wider support for the death penalty than other reports have suggested.  An Oct. 4 headline in the New York Times read, "Death Penalty Loses Majority Support for First Time in 45 Years," however, a Gallup Poll taken a few days after the article was published found 60% support for the death penalty.  Another Gallup poll found 45% believe the justice system is "not tough enough" while 67% say the death penalty is not imposed often enough.  Overall, 50% believe capital punishment is applied fairly.  Ultimately, Prop 62's future is uncertain, but its passage is certainly not in the bag, says Lane.

Slain Officers' Families Oppose Prop. 57

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The family members of slain Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Steve Owen and Palm Springs Officer Lesley Zerebny spoke out this week against Prop. 57, calling it a lie, a farce and a "criminal's bill of rights."

Read their remarks here.

News Scan

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Five-Time Deported Illegal Immigrant Sparks CA Forest Fire:  An illegal immigrant with a lengthy criminal record and five deportations under his belt is facing charges of sparking a fire in California's Sequoia National Forest last month, which cost the government $61 million.  Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports that Angel Gilberto Garcia-Avalos faces a 13-month sentence, agreed to during plea bargaining, for sparking the forest fire in August after crashing his car into a tree, the hot muffler from his vehicle igniting the dry grass.  The fire took six weeks to contain, damaging 29,000 acres, prompting the evacuation of two counties and scorching a number of cabins and outbuildings.  Garcia-Avalos, a native of Mexico, has been charged in the U.S. with driving without a license, attempted burglary and felony weapons charges, and been deported five times in four years, sneaking back into the U.S. each time.  Shortly before the fire, he had been released form the Kern County jail, but was not deported due to the state's sanctuary city laws.  Federal agents say they will deport Garcia-Avalos after completion of his current sentence.

OH Man Accused of Killing Child Faces Death Penalty:  An Ohio man charged with the murder of a four-year-old child will face the death penalty at his trial.  Greg Sowinski of the Lima News reports that Cory Eischen, 39, is charged with aggravated murder, two counts of murder, involuntary manslaughter, two counts of felonious assault, two counts of endangering children and domestic violence in the Sept. 25 death of Jaxxen Baker, who Eischen was babysitting while the boy's mother was at work.  The charges of murder and manslaughter are lesser options for a jury to weigh at trial if the elements of aggravated murder cannot be met, though none of the charges impede the ability of prosecutors to seek and obtain the death penalty against Eischen.

Death Penalty Uncertainty Surround Retrial of FL Man:
  The fate of a Florida man previously convicted of murder and sentenced to death is uncertain in light of the Florida Supreme Court ruling earlier this month stating that juries must decide unanimously to send a defendant to death row.  The NY Times reports that Patrick Evans' sentence has been altered twice in the past year, the first time last November when his conviction and death sentence were overturned due to errors in a detective's testimony and then on Oct. 14, when the state high court made their latest death penalty ruling, complicating his case further.  Prosecutors will seek the death penalty again at Evans' Oct. 31 retrial, although Evans' demand for a speedy trial -- meaning it must proceed within 50 days -- are muddling matters even more since a new law clarifying jury unanimity from the Supreme Court may be months away.  Evans is charged in the 2008 double homicide of his estranged wife and a co-worker she dated after filing for a  divorce. 
The Gallup Poll has released results on its survey of American attitudes on the death penalty.  They are largely stable since 2011.  The better worded of the two questions is this:

In your opinion, is the death penalty imposed -- [ROTATED: too often, about the right amount, or not often enough]?
About 2/3 of respondents say about right or not enough, indicating support for capital punishment in its present use or greater.  This is a few percent lower than the 72% in 2001 when Gallup first asked the question, but still a very strong majority.


News Scan

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Terror Suspects Lied to Achieve Refugee Status:  Two men with terrorism ties allegedly lied to U.S. immigration officials and continued their terror-related activities after being admitted as refugees, exposing a flawed screening process that is jeopardizing the safety of Americans.  Malia Zimmerman of Fox News reports that Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee in 2012 but returned to the Middle East twice to fight for a terrorist group, and was later recorded by the FBI talking about executing Syrian Army members and Russian allies.  He is currently being held in Chicago for attempting to support a terrorist group and is facing charges in California for lying about residing in Syria.  Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, the nephew of a famed Al Qaeda bomb maker, moved to Houston in 2009 after living in Iraqi and Jordanian refugee camps, lying to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to obtain asylum and was granted permanent residency two years later.  He is facing up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty last week to plotting and training to bomb and open fire in two Houston malls, and for attempting to assist the Islamic State for the past two years.  These two cases "confirm that it is simply impossible for our screening system to detect all those who are a treat."  Over 100,000 Iraqis and 130,000 Syrians have been granted refugee status over the last seven years, with dozens of them convicted of terror-related crimes.

Driver Opens Fire on Officer and Ride Along Passenger:  Another violent attack on a California police officer and a civilian passenger over the weekend has sent shock waves throughout the police community, with law enforcement officials vowing to have the perpetrator arrested by week's end.  Vanessa Vasconcelos of ABC30 reports that Madera police officer Julian Garcia, 23, was making a routine traffic stop for a broken taillight Sunday morning when the driver opened fire, firing a total of 14 shots, three of which struck the police vehicle.  Garcia is a rookie officer who finished the academy in July and field training two weeks ago.  The passenger, whose identity has been withheld for her safety, is a woman in her 20s who was riding along as part of a 14-week program called the Volunteer Citizen's Academy.  She was not wearing a bulletproof vest.  Fortunately, neither Garcia nor the passenger were hit.  The brazen attack comes amid a string of brutal -- oftentimes targeted -- attacks on law enforcement officers across the nation.

Two Death Sentences Upheld Last Week:  The Louisiana Supreme Court last week upheld the conviction and death sentence of a man convicted of killing three relatives of his estranged wife eight years ago.  ArkLaTex reports that Robert McCoy was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in 2011 for the 2008 deaths of his estranged wife's son, mother and stepfather, and sentenced to death in 2012.  McCoy appealed his case to the state high court, raising 16 claims of error, but the high court affirmed both the conviction and death sentence last Wednesday.  Also last week, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction and death sentence of a man convicted of killing his pregnant wife in 2009.  WAAY reports that Jessie Phillips was convicted twice of killing his eight-weeks pregnant wife at a car wash, marking the first time a person in the state was tried under "Brody's Law," which permits unborn children to be counted as homicide victims.  The appeals court affirmed both Phillips' conviction and death sentence last Friday.

Ex-AG Sentenced to Jail:  Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was handcuffed inside a courtroom on Monday after being sentenced to a 10- to 23-month jail sentence and eight years of probation for a retaliation scheme.  The AP reports that Kane, 50, was convicted in August of two felony counts of perjury and seven misdemeanor charges after being accused of leaking secret investigative files to embarrass a rival prosecutor, Frank Fina.  Kane had someone pass confidential files to a reporter regarding a corruption case Fina had declined to charge prior to his departure from the office, then tried to frame someone else for the leak.  Kane, who resigned a day after her conviction, took office in 2013 and was the first woman and first Democrat elected as the state's top prosecutor.  Throughout her trial, aides described her as a paranoid person with an "off with your heads mentality" and a political "neophyte" hellbent on revenge.  She posted $75,000 cash bail on Monday and was freed, and can remain free while her conviction is appealed.

KABC on Cal. DP Propositions

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CJLF's Legal Director Kent Scheidegger was on KABC-AM 790 on The Drive Home with Jillian Barberie and John Phillips yesterday (10/24) at 5:00.  Audio is available here.
Justin McCarthy reports for Gallup:

Three in four Americans (76%) say they have "a great deal" of respect for the police in their area, up 12 percentage points from last year.

In addition to the large majority of Americans expressing "a great deal" of respect for their local police, 17% say they have "some" respect while 7% say they have "hardly any."

Gallup has asked this question nine times since 1965. The percentage who say they respect the police is significantly higher now than in any measurement taken since the 1990s and is just one point below the high of 77% recorded in 1967. Solid majorities of Americans have said they respect their local law enforcement in all polls conducted since 1965.

News Scan

CA Father Sentenced to Thousands of Years for Raping Daughter:  A Fresno man was sentenced on Friday to 1,503 years in prison for the years-long rape of his daughter, marking the longest-known prison sentence in Fresno Superior Court history.  Pablo Lopez of the Fresno Bee reports that Rene Lopez, 41, raped his teenage daughter, now 23, two to three times a week over a four-year period, from May 2009 to May 2013.  He was arrested in November 2013 after his daughter reported the abuse to police, and found guilty last month of 186 felony counts of sexual assault, including dozens of counts of rape of a minor, and is required to register as a sex offender.  Lopez turned down two plea deals prior to his trial, the first that would have resulted in a 13-year prison sentence and the second a 22-year sentence.  Both plea deals required him to admit guilt, but he refused.  He contests that his daughter lied, but prosecutors say that the evidence against him was overwhelming.

Manhunt Underway for OK Gunman who Shot 2 Officers, 3 Others:  An intensive manhunt is underway on Monday for an Oklahoma man accused of shooting and wounding two police officers and stealing their patrol car, and killing two of his relatives.  Fox News reports that Michael Vance shot and injured the two officers with an AK-47 on Sunday after they responded to a report of shots fired, and then stole their police car along with an alleged accomplice, who was later arrested.  After Vance fled, the bodies of his aunt and uncle were discovered in the home where the incident occurred.  Vance then ditched the patrol car at a mobile home park and shot and injured another woman before taking her car.  The Oklahoma Highway Patrol announced Monday that Vance has HIV/AIDS and "may try to spread disease."  He was recently released from jail, where he was being held on child sexual assault allegations.

A Prop. 66 Landslide?

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The Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State U. has this poll of 622 likely California voters surveyed October 7-13.

Proposition 66 would aim to speed up the death penalty court process in California. For example, it would require the superior court to review initial petitions, increase the number of available attorneys to accept those appeals, and allow condemned inmates to be housed at any state prison.

Do you plan to vote 'YES' to change these death penalty court procedures, or 'NO' to make no changes to existing procedures?

51%      Yes (1)
20         No (2)
29         Undecided/Don't Know (8)

News Scan

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KS High Court Upholds Death Sentence:  The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on Friday of a man who raped and murdered a college student two decades ago.  Amy Renee Leiker of the Wichita Eagle reports that Gary Kleypas, the state's first death row inmate, was tried twice for the 1996 rape, torture and murder of Carrie Williams, 20.  In 2001, his conviction and death sentence were overturned by the Supreme Court, but following a retrial in 2008, jurors handed down a second death sentence.  The ruling is the third death sentence over the past year to be upheld by the state high court, which also affirmed the death sentences of serial killer John Robinson Jr. and cop killer Scott Cheever.

AL Inmate Asks for Stay of Execution:  An Alabama death row inmate has requested a stay of execution by an appellate court until a ruling is issued on his challenge to the state's lethal injection process, just a few short weeks ahead of his scheduled execution.  Kim Chandler of the AP reports that Tommy Arthur, 74, asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to stay his Nov. 3 execution, arguing that the state's lethal injection procedure is unconstitutional because it causes pain and suffering.  Arthur's challenge was initially dismissed by a federal judge in July after Arthur failed to name a viable execution alternative, required by the U.S. Supreme Court of inmates challenging death penalty procedures.  Lawyers representing the state argue that Alabama's execution method is essentially identical to Oklahoma's, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld.  Arthur faces execution for killing businessman Troy Wicker in a 1982 murder-for-hire scheme.

CA's Early Release Program Under Scrutiny:  California's early release program continues to raise questions and concerns when so-called "non-violent second-strikers" are released from prison and quickly reoffend.  Sarah Dowling of the Woodland Daily Democrat reports that a slew of measures were enacted in the state beginning in early 2015 with the objective of relieving prison overcrowding, including early parole consideration for inmates classified as "non-violent second-strikers."  To be eligible for release under the program, inmates must not be serving time for a crime deemed a "violent felony" and cannot be a registered sex offender.  Offenders that qualify become eligible for parole consideration once 50% of their sentence has been served, or they are within 12 months of having served 50% of their sentences.  In Yolo County alone, 26 inmates were released early under the program, even though District Attorney Jeff Reisig opposed it, and six of them have been rearrested for crimes such as domestic violence, drug possession and resisting arrest.  Statewide, over 2,900 convicted felons have been released early under the program.

Mac Donald v. Solomon

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In a written debate regarding what the next presidential administration's policing and criminal justice policies should be, published on on Real Clear Policy, Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald and Danyelle Solomon from the Center for American Progress face off.  This is the third part of a series on major policy ideas, from left to right.  It is worth reading.

Here is Mac Donald's piece, here is Solomon's and here are their responses to each other.
A:  In a word, no.  Not close.

I want to follow up on Kent's post about the Gallup poll on sentencing, focusing specifically on drugs. My reason is that the sentencing reform proposals in Congress concentrate mainly on lowering drug sentences. This has also been the focus of the (liberal majority) Sentencing Commission in recent years. 

One of the things I often hear when I debate sentencing "reform" is that lowering sentences is the politically astute thing for Republicans to do.

That is simply false.
As noted in a CJLF press release last month, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) reported a 3% increase in violent crime in 2015 over 2014.  Today, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that its National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) showed no statistically significant change.  The lesson here is in the limitations of statistics.
Justin McCarthy has this article for Gallup. 

Q:  In general, do you think the criminal justice system in this country is too tough, not tough enough or about right in its handling of crime?

A: 45% not tough enough, 35% about right, 14% too tough, 6% duh.

Gallup headlines the fact that "not tough enough" has dropped substantially over the years, but most of that drop has gone to the Goldilocks answer of "about right."  Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth we have heard from academia and the press over the last decade or so, only 1 American in 7 thinks the system is too tough.

The other half of the split sample was asked specifically about drugs, with a quite different result:

News Scan

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Deputy is 4th CA Officer Slain in 2 Weeks:  A California deputy was fatally shot Wednesday while responding to a disturbance call, marking the fourth time in two weeks that a law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty in the state.  The AP reports that Modoc County sheriff's Deputy Jack Hopkins, 31, who joined the force last year, was shot and killed after he and other deputies responded to a call near the Oregon border.  A suspect was taken into custody but no other details have been released.  Hopkins's death comes just weeks after a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant was shot and killed in Lancaster while responding to a burglary call and two Palm Springs officers were gunned down while responding to a domestic disturbance. 

OH Father Sentenced to Death for Killing Daughter:  After deliberating for less than an hour on Monday, a jury recommended death for an Ohio man who starved and beat his two-year-old daughter to death.  CBS reports that Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Megan Shanahan affirmed the jury's recommendation, sentencing Glen Bates, 34, to death for aggravated murder in the death of his daughter, Glenara.  Glenara died in March 2015, the cause of death revealed to be blunt force trauma.  An autopsy found that she had belt and bite marks, bruises, missing teeth, broken ribs, head trauma and other injuries.  Prosecutors say she was slammed against the wall by Bates.  Additionally, Glenara weighed just 13 pounds when she died, though the average weight of a two-year-old is over 20 pounds.  Glenara's mother, Andrea Bradley, is also facing aggravated murder charges and has pleaded not guilty.  Bates plans to appeal his sentence.

"The morality of preserving the death penalty":  John Phillips has this piece in the OC Register arguing against Proposition 62, a California ballot initiative that would abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole.  Phillips disagrees with death penalty abolitionists' argument that the practice is a waste of taxpayer money and immoral, believing that not only is capital punishment a good use of resources, but "the moral answer to society's most immoral people."  Two stats, he asserts, are significant to the his argument in favor of the death penalty:  The state has never executed an innocent person and the recidivism rate is zero among those executed.   CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger, an author for Proposition 66, an opposing measure that would save the death penalty and expedite executions, says, "If the death penalty is abolished on Tuesday, the drive to abolish life without parole begins Wednesday."

Georgia Executes Cop Killer

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The State of Georgia executed Gregory Lawler last night for the murder of Atlanta police officer John Sowa in 1997.  Lawler wounded Officer Pat Cocciolone in the same incident.  Rhonda Cook has this story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the execution and this earlier one on the denial of executive clemency.  The U.S. Supreme Court's "green light for the green mile" order is here.

Cook notes that the basis of the clemency petition was "Lawler's recently diagnosed autism."  Seriously, now.  The man was 63.  If he had autism in the severity that would justify clemency, everyone who knew him in his entire life would have known it.  It would not be a recent discovery.

Georgia evidently still has pentobarbital.

Last night, when I heard Donald Trump decline to pledge to accept the result of the election, I understood him to mean that in the event we have an outcome like 2000 he reserved the right to file a challenge like Al Gore did in Florida.  Reading the papers this morning, one would think that he threatened a violent overthrow of the government.

Al Gore did not "accept" the "result" announced by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.  He took the case to the Florida courts.  George Bush did not "accept" the "result" of the Florida Supreme Court decision.  He took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two presidential elections in living memory have been close enough to be within what John Fund called the "margin of litigation":  1960 and 2000.  Richard Nixon chose not to litigate; Al Gore chose to.  I consider it extremely unlikely that 2016 will be anywhere near that close, but this year has provided multiple examples of the wisdom of Yogi Berra's admonition against predictions.

I have no reason to believe that Donald Trump reads my advice, and he certainly doesn't take it, but for the record I recommend that he come out promptly with a clarification that all that he reserves is an Al Gore type challenge.

A Supreme Court that Takes Sides? Part II

Paul Mirengoff of PowerLine saw the same zinger in Hillary Clinton's Supreme Court answer that I did.  With characteristic insight, Paul quotes the oath of office Supreme Court Justices are required to take, and notes that anyone appointed under the partisan, agenda-laden criteria Ms. Clinton set forth last night could not possibly be faithful to the oath, which is as follows (emphasis added):

I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. 

The question, which Paul then addresses, is whether Clinton appointees are likely to be, not merely misguided, but illegitimate in a deeper sense when seen through the lens of the neutrality Americans historically (and rightly) demand of judges.

A Supreme Court that Takes Sides?

I did not watch tonight's debate, but I have seen it reported in more than one source, e.g., here, that Hillary Clinton, when asked if she supported a Supreme Court that would adopt a strict reading of the Constitution, responded with no mention of that document, and said instead:

I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not the powerful corporations and the wealthy.

I will put to one side Ms. Clinton's remarks (at $250,000 a  pop) to the powerful corporation known as Goldman Sachs, and her income last year, reportedly a bit over ten million dollars. The main takeaway from her comment is her breathtaking misunderstanding of both the Court and the Constitution.

As liberals used to know, an independent Court was created by the Constitution precisely to be anti-majoritarian, that is, to be a neutral, not a "side-taking," arbiter of the law. Giving effect to popular will is the job of the political branches, not the Supreme Court (or inferior courts).

Someone might also inform Ms. Clinton that corporate managers and the rich are also  -- ready now?  --  part of the American people, and deserve no more justice, and no less, than anyone else. 

KCRA Report on Cal. DP Propositions

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Mike Luery of KCRA, the NBC affiliate in Sacramento, has this report on California's dueling death penalty propositions, including a brief appearance by your humble blogger.

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Chicago Surpasses 600 Homicides:  A Monday night homicide put Chicago's total homicides thus far in 2016 at over 600, affirming statements made by residents that the city has turned in a "war zone" in recent years.  CBS reports that the more than 600 people killed this year represents a 24% increase compared to the same time last year, and is approximately 100 more homicides than the combined totals in New York and Los Angeles.  It is also far above the Chicago's yearly 2015 total, with 486 people killed.  Nonfatal shootings have spiked as well:  As of last week, over 2,100 people were injured in shooting incidents, up from 1,400 people wounded in the same time period in 2015.  Of the homicide victims, 540 died of gunshot wounds, 28 were stabbed to death, 19 were beaten to death, nine died in arson-related homicides and two were run down by people driving cars.  Chicago police have determined that, of the over 600 murders recorded so far, 571 are first-degree murders.  They have made arrests in 115 homicide cases so far.

Record Number of Opioid Overdoses in 2014, says CDC:  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a report released earlier this year, said that more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record, fueling the nationwide concern over the deadly drug epidemic.  Penny Starr of CNS News reports that in 2014, nearly 19,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses, "equivalent to about 52 deaths per day," while 28,000 people died from non-prescription opioid overdoses.  The report also found that opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.  Officials say the surge in opioid overdoses is driven by heroin and illegally-made fentanyl.  Opioids include heroin, morphine, codine and methadone, among others, and can be natural, semi-synthetic or synthetic.

Asylum Seekers Spike Dramatically:  In less than a decade, the number of illegals who have sought asylum in order to gain easy access to the U.S. has spiked 900%, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports that in 2009, about 8,000 people sought asylum, but the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) estimates that number to reach at least 80,000 this year.  The CIS analysis also states that while 90% of asylum seekers have their requests granted, a House panel found only 30% to be fraud free.  Among those seeking asylum, 80% come from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, who have come to the border in droves after President Obama freed up restrictions of those requesting asylum, allowing them to stay in the U.S. while they pursue their request.  Once an illegal immigrant is granted asylum, they become entitled to federal programs including green cards, Social Security, school loans, welfare, Medicaid, cash and housing assistance.

SurveyUSA Poll on Prop. 62

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SurveyUSA has released another California poll.  As with the two previous polls (noted here and here), they surveyed on Prop. 62, the death penalty repeal initiative, but not on Prop. 66, the "fix it" initiative.

Prop. 62 has slipped three points since the previous poll and now trails by 18%.  The pollsters still characterize it as "headed for defeat."

Crosstabs (the breakdown by various groups within the total) haven't changed too much, although there is an interesting indication that repeal has lost considerable support with black voters.  For the survey collected Sept. 8 - Sept. 11, black voters favored 62 by a slim majority, 51-36.  However, for the most recent survey, conducted Oct. 13 - Oct. 15, the slim majority goes the other way, 41-52.  That is a change from +15% to -11%, or a 26% swing.  Crosstabs have higher margins of error than the overall poll due to the smaller sample size of the subgroups, so this result should be treated with caution, but even so that is quite a shift.

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GA Death Row Inmate Seeks Clemency:  A Georgia cop killer awaiting execution is requesting to be pardoned based on a recent diagnosis of autism.  Tracy Connor of NBC News reports that Gregory Lawler, 63, is scheduled to die Wednesday by lethal injection for the 1997 fatal shooting of Officer John Sowa, who was escorting Lawler's drunk girlfriend home.  Sowa's partner was also critically injured, but survived.  A clemency petition revealed that Lawler was diagnosed with autism last month.  His attorneys argue that the disorder impaired his judgment and social interactions, causing him to become "freaked out" by his contact with police when he could not read the officers' facial expressions.  He will be the seventh inmate executed in the state of Georgia this year.  Update:  Lawler was executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening.  He is the 17th death row inmate put to death in the United States this year.

Illegal Immigration Rises Significantly Over Past Year:  Illegal immigration rose significantly in fiscal year 2016, and the increase in apprehensions means an increase in immigrants sneaking across the border unnoticed, say Homeland Security officials.  Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports that nearly 409,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at the border in FY 2016, up from 331,000 the year prior.  The number of families nabbed traveling together reached a record high of 77,674, while unaccompanied minors increased to nearly 60,000 apprehensions.  Claims of asylum have spiked while deportations have dropped.  Officials assert that lax immigration enforcement has contributed to the surge, believing cartels and migrants have "learned to game a more relaxed system under President Obama."

CA Officers Spared after Gunman's Weapon Jams:  A California man wearing "police-style" body armor and armed with an assault rifle and handgun is in custody after he pointed the rifle at two police officers at a Vallejo Starbucks and attempted to shoot, only to have the weapon jam.  The AP reports that Adam Powell, 41, fled after his weapon malfunctioned, attempting to clean it as he ran, until he was shot three times by the officers about 100 feet away from Starbucks.  Six hours before the incident at a family home 20 miles away from Vallejo, police responded to a shooting and found Powell's two-year-old son critically wounded from accidentally shooting himself.  Powell's step-daughter believes that the incident with his son prompted Powell to attempt suicide by cop.  Police are unsure at this point if Powell expressed any anger toward police.  The attempted shooting comes just weeks after two separate shootings in California left three officers dead.

More on Elmore

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In addition to the excerpts from the Attorney General's brief in the Clark Elmore case, noted here, readers may also wish to consider the following excerpts from the opinion of the Supreme Court of Washington:

No Blank Check for President Hillary

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It is likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected President.  I don't have to like it,* but the polls say what they say.  The question is what can be done to cabin her decidedly unhealthy agenda (exemplified by, among other things, her embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement).

One thing that can be done is to keep the Senate in the hands of the opposition party. This will have, among other salutary effects, an influence on how far to the left she might go in making Supreme Court and court of appeals picks.  

Thus, I have contributed to the campaigns of a number of Republican Senate candidates, including Rubio, Ayotte, Toomey, Heck, Young and Burr.  Rubio is likely to win; the others are close races that could go either way.  

*  Not that I much like any probable outcome of the Presidential race, as it is presently constituted.  
The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review the case of Washington State murderer Clark Elmore.  Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsburg, dissented in an opinion castigating the defense lawyer at trial.  If the lawyer was so bad, one might ask, why did the Washington Supreme Court deny relief?  That court has certainly had no difficulty ruling in favor of murderers in past capital cases.  It is one of the country's more criminal-friendly forums.  If the lawyer was so bad, why did six of the eight Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court decline to join Justice Sotomayor's vigorous dissent?

There is, of course, more to the story.  After the break, I have copied an extensive portion of the Brief in Opposition written by Senior Counsel John Samson for the Washington AG's office.  See also the excerpt from the Supreme Court of Washington in the follow-up post.

Time for a Noble, Selfless Act

    Does Donald Trump want to be remembered as the man who handed the White House to Hillary Clinton on a silver platter, with all the disastrous results that are sure to follow?  Or would he rather be remembered as the man who put his country above himself?

Stockton Record Gets It Right

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Those of us who fight for justice in the worst murder cases have become accustomed to having the press almost entirely on the side of the murderers. I was pleasantly surprised this Sunday morning to read this in the Stockton Record:

Our editorial board was divided on these death penalty propositions. Our consensus is a no vote on Proposition 62 and yes on 66. We do not feel the death penalty should be abolished with so many on death row (whose sentences would be converted to life in prison). We do, however, concur that the process for legal challenges should not be so drawn out.
The Record also endorsed a "no" vote on Proposition 57, a trifecta of good sense in the criminal justice arena.

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La. Man Faces Death Penalty for Murdering Detective:  Prosecutors announced Thursday that they plan to seek the death penalty against a Louisiana man who fatally shot a JPSO detective four months ago.  Michelle Hunter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the announcement by the Jefferson Parish district attorney's office came after a grand jury handed down an indictment charging Jerman Neveaux Jr., 19, with first-degree murder in the death of Detective David Michel Jr., 50.  Neveaux also faces charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, illegal possession of a stolen firearm and two counts of resisting arrest by force or violence.  On June 22, Neveaux fatally shot Michel three times in the back after Michel stopped him while he was walking.  It is the first time since 2013 that the Jefferson Parish district attorney's office will pursue a death sentence.

FL High Court says Jurors Must be Unanimous on Death Sentences:  A ruling issued Friday by the Florida Supreme Court announced that a jury's death recommendation in capital punishment cases must be unanimous, answering a question left unanswered by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.  Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that the decision strikes down part of a state law that was passed earlier this year requiring a 10-2 jury recommendation for death before a judge could impose a death sentence.  Prior to that ruling, Florida only required a simple majority of seven votes, making it one of just three death penalty states that didn't require a unanimous jury recommendation.  Florida's death penalty system was subject to debate following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in January -- Hurst v. Florida -- that found the state's system unconstitutional because it gave judges too much power and juries too little in applying capital punishment.  The justices, however, never addressed a requirement for unanimity of juror's recommendations in such cases.

MO May Keep Execution Drug Suppliers Secret:  A federal appellate court ruled Thursday that Missouri can keep its lethal injection drug supplier a secret, reversing its own ruling made last month.  Jim Suhr of the AP reports that this week's ruling by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overrules a Sept. 2 ruling made by the same judges, which stated that Missouri must disclose its pentobarbital supplier to two Mississippi death row inmates that have filed a lawsuit.  The judges made their initial ruling on the ground that the state's claim -- that revealing how it obtains the drugs could hamper its ability to get the chemicals for future executions -- was "inherently speculative."  During their rehearing Thursday, however, the drug supplier told the court it would cease doing business with Missouri or any other state if its identity were made public, and the 8th Circuit concluded that "the harm to MDOC (Missouri) clearly outweighs the need of the inmates, and disclosure would represent an undue burden" on the state's prison system.  The ruling comes one day after the Missouri Supreme Court scheduled an execution for January.
The Florida Supreme Court has decided the case of Timothy Hurst on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hurst v. Florida.  The majority wrongly interpreted the high court decision to require that the jury be unanimous in all of its decisions, not just the finding of the death-eligibility circumstance.

To insulate its error from a likely reversal by the high court, the Florida Supreme Court cynically added the state constitution as an additional ground for its holding, casually tossing out forty years of precedent from the restoration of capital punishment in the 1970s until the decision in Hurst.   Stare decisis?  We don't need no stinking stare decisis.

When Florida's Legislature was considering how to fix its statute in light of Hurst, the debate was all about whether to authorize a less-than-unanimous penalty verdict or go for the single-juror-veto law that lets one juror impose his will over the objection of the other 11.  I tried to tell them that the Arizona/California method of requiring the jury to be unanimous one way or the other was the way to go, and they blew me off.  Maybe now they will listen?
Gallup has a poll out today showing that, when asked to choose the higher priority between (1) strengthening law and order through more police and greater enforcement, or (2) reducing bias against minorities in the criminal justice system by reforming court and police practices,  49% choose the former and 43% the latter. The 6% difference is outside the margin of error.  The poll can be found here.

So how does this translate in terms of political advantage?  Specifically, is it smarter to run a national race prioritizing law and order, or prioritizing bias reduction?

Let me ask that question a different way:  Is 49% higher than 43%?

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MO High Court Sets Execution Date:  Missouri's Supreme Court set an execution date on Wednesday for a man convicted of killing a woman and her two children almost two decades ago.  The AP reports that Mark Christeson, 37, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Jan. 31.  The Missouri high court scheduled the execution as five legal groups are actively urging an appeals court to spare Christeson's life.  The groups -- three national criminal defense associations, a civil rights law firm and the American Bar Association -- argue that Christeson is unable to afford to bring in experts to testify that his mental impairment affected his ability to assert his rights when his lawyers did an inadequate job at his 1999 trial.  In 1998, Christeson, then 18, and his 17-year-old cousin, Jesse Carter, planned to run away from home, armed themselves with shotguns and went to the home of Susan Brouk so they could steal her car.  The cousins bound the hands of Brouk's two children, ages 12 and nine, before Christeson forced Brouk into a bedroom and raped her.  The suspects then drove the family to a pond, where they stabbed Brouk and one of the children and threw them into the water to drown.  The other child died of suffocation when Chrsiteson pressed on her throat while Carter held her.  Carter was sentenced to life in prison after testifying against Christeson.  Missouri's last execution was in May.  The state has executed 19 murderers since November 2013, more than any state in recent years except Texas.

Weak Sentencing Laws Benefited CA Cop Killers:  The criminal histories of the two ex-cons arrested in the killings of three California law enforcement officers last week are sparking outrage, as information continues to come out detailing the violent crimes and parole violations they committed.  Patrick Healy of NBC reports that Trenton Lovell was arrested in Lancaster last Wednesday for fatally shooting Steve Owen, 53, who was responding to a burglary call.  Lovell was sentenced to six years for a 2008 armed robbery but was paroled in just under five years after being entitled to credit for 15% of his sentence under Penal Code section 2933.  Last year, while out on parole, Lovell was convicted of misdemeanor DUI causing injury and placed on county probation simultaneously with parole.  On Saturday, John Felix shot and killed two Palm Springs officers, Jose Vega, 63, and Lesley Zerebny, 27, when they arrived at his home in response to a domestic violence call.  Felix had completed his parole for a 2010 conviction of assault with a deadly weapon, which was plea bargained down from attempted murder.  He was sentenced to four years in prison, but paroled after 19 months.  While on parole, Felix was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and even absconded at one point.  Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell says there is a need to address a system that is permitting repeat offenders to cycle in and out of custody.

Two Boston Cops in Critical Condition After Shootings:  A man was shot and killed by police Wednesday evening after opening fire on several Boston law enforcement officers, leaving two of them in "extremely critical" condition.  Fox News reports that Kirk Figueroa, 33, armed with an assault rifle and wearing body armor, opened fire on the officers after they arrived at his home in response to a domestic dispute call.  The two critically wounded officers, one a 28-year veteran and the other a 12-year veteran, underwent surgery for their injuries.  Nine other officers sustained minor injures and were also treated for trauma and stress.

A Cop's Perspective on CopCams

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Sean Van Leeuwen has this post in the blog of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS):

ALADS has long supported issuing BWC [Body Worn Cameras] to all patrol and jail deputies. We believe this equipment will serve to protect them from frivolous complaints and help prosecute criminals who gas or attack deputies while they work in the jail or on patrol.

Despite their usefulness, BWC have limitations.  Recordings are two-dimensional, potentially hindered by frame count, limited to a single perspective and other technical limitations.  They are a useful addendum to the observations and recollections of deputies and other witnesses and are not by themselves a complete documentation of an incident. The Sheriff's Department completed a two-year body camera pilot program last year and is still reviewing the data collected.  While the test was promising, it was only limited to a few deputies at a few stations. Before such a program is implemented department wide, there will have to be a commitment for proper training and funding in order to ensure the success of a future BWC program.

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Police Ramp up Presence in Central Park:  A crime wave in New York City's Central Park has prompted police to ramp up patrols in and around the sprawling area.  Lisa Evers of WNYN reports that this past month, there were five incidents of violent armed robberies committed by groups of people and one attempted rape.  Over the weekend, a man was beaten and stomped by eight to nine teens who stole his cellphone and tablet, and another man was knocked off his bike, beaten and robbed of his phone.  On Monday, a woman jogging in the park was knocked to the ground by a man who tried to rape her, but fought him off and escaped.  The NYPD say they are going to beef up police presence both inside the park and around its perimeter in an effort to stop the violence before it gets worse and "change the disturbing pattern" they have observed.

OH Man's Death Sentence Overturned:  An Ohio man sentenced to death three decades ago had his death sentence overturned on Wednesday by a federal appeals court.  Eric Heisig of Cleveland reports that in a 2-1 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the sentence of Percy "June" Hutton, 62, after ruling that the presiding judge at Hutton's trial failed to properly instruct the jury on how to weigh aggravating circumstances.  Hutton was convicted in 1986 of fatally shooting a man and attempting to kill another man in a dispute over a sewing machine, and sentenced to die in 1987.  The Ohio Attorney General's Office has yet to decide whether to challenge the court's ruling.

CA Death Row Inmate Slashes Officer:  An inmate on San Quentin's death row in California slashed a correctional officer with a homemade weapon last week, a decade after carrying out a similar attack on another correctional officer.  Jenna Lyons of the SF Chronicle reports that Richard Penunuri, 38, attacked the officer on Oct. 3 as he was being secured in the shower stall.  He grabbed the officer's right arm and his handcuffs were being removed, slashing it with a makeshift weapon.  Penunuri committed a similar attack in 2006, slashing an officer on the arm as he was being locked in his cell.  The officer's injury almost reached the bone and required 30 stitches.  Penunuri was sentenced to death in 2001 for the 1997 gang-related murders of two teens who were "unintended targets" not associated with gangs.  He was also convicted of an additional count of first-degree murder for ordering a hit on a witness to prevent him from testifying at the trial.  Penunuri will receive a rules violation for the attack, and the Marin County district attorney's office will decide whether to press charges once an investigation is complete.  The officer who was attacked is expected to fully recover.

A Tragic and Ominous Story

We are often told, by law professors among others, that community release with close monitoring is more humane than incarceration, less expensive, and equally effective.

It's simply false.  The question is not whether it can be counted upon to work.   The question is who pays the price when it doesn't.

This story gives us a glimpse of a thoroughly unfunny answer.  

Preventable violent crime against women, or against anyone, is a blight.  Q:  Where is the outrage over this, and who is going to take responsibility?  A:  Nowhere and no one.  And we all know it.

For a generation, we have known how to cut back on violent crime.  If we forget now, those least able to fight back will be the first to pay the price  --  although sooner or later, we all will.

Hillary's Defense of a Child Molester

Hillary Clinton, as a young lawyer, accepted a court appointment to represent a man accused of raping a 12 year-old girl.  He was eventually convicted, I believe, of a lesser charge of sexual battery on a person less than 14 years of age.

The question has arisen whether our view of Hillary should be better or worse because she took this case and how she behaved when she had it.  Some (easily the majority of the reactions I've seen) think we should think better.  The argument is that it is the best of our legal tradition that even the most despised defendant is entitled to a faithful and energetic ally as he  faces the power of the state.  The most frequently given example is John Adams' defense of British soldiers accused of brutality in the Boston Massacre.

The minority point of view is that Hillary's defense of the child molester was at best a display of callousness; a moral holiday from the consequences to the victim; a choice she did not need to make; and, in the course of the actual defense, a demonstration of the truth-optional attitude for which Hillary (and in my view, a big segment of criminal defense generally) has become known.

There are two among many articles, here and here, that discuss this episode in a way favorable to Hillary.  Without for the moment going into my view of it (less favorable), I'm seeking readers' views.  There are a number of questions here.  A very, very non-exhaustive list is:  Does or should the underlying truth about the client's behavior affect the lawyer's decision about how, and whether, to represent? Does or should a defense lawyer  --  as an attorney, a citizen, or a human being  -- have any moral obligation to the child victim?  To potential (probable?) future victims if the client wins an erroneous acquittal and is thus emboldened?  Should the lawyer undertake intentionally deceitful (even if not directly unethical) tactics in order to bring about such an acquittal?  Or any acquittal?  Is it a good or a bad thing to allow lawyers to have a "conscientious objection" exemption from a court appointment that makes them morally queasy?  Or is conscientious objection limited to military duty?
Why don't you just call the cops?  That's what sociologists Matthew Desmond and Andrew V. Papachristos wonder aloud in this NY Times piece in which they attempt to debunk the "Ferguson effect."  Desmond and Papachristos contend that the national crime wave is a result of a drop-off in crime reporting rather than a drop-off in proactive policing.  They suggest that people are simply not calling the cops due to loss of faith following several controversial police shootings, and faith lost makes citizens "more apt to take the law into their own hands."

Not quite.  While the authors offer a interesting theory, Heather Mac Donald offers the facts.  Ultimately, "the data supporting the Ferguson effect are stronger than the evidence offered by Mr. Desmond and Mr. Papachristos to discredit it."  Read her rebuttal letter here.

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High Court Vacates OK Man's Death Sentence:  The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday to throw out an Oklahoma triple murderer's death sentence because the victim's family members were asked by the state to recommend a sentence to the jury at his trial.  Lydia Wheeler of the Hill reports that Shaun Michael Bosse was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for killing his girlfriend and her two children in 2010.  At his trial, three of the victims' relatives recommended the death penalty to the jury after which the jury sentenced Bosse to death.  The sentence was vacated by Supreme Court justices, who ruled that court precedent barred the state from introducing family member's opinions about the crime.  The state argues that while it was not proper in its victim impact ruling, the decision had no effect on the jury's sentencing determination.

Mexican Officials Helping Haitian Illegals Reach U.S.: 
Recently released internal Homeland Security documents reveal that Mexican officials are assisting thousands of Haitians reach the U.S. illegally.  Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports that the documents, obtained by Rep, Duncan Hunter, a California republican, detail the routes migrants take, how much money human smugglers are paid and the complicit role of neighboring countries' governments.  According to the documents, over the past year, more than 6,000 Haitians arrived at the border in San Diego, an 18-fold increase over FY 2015.  And as of last week, about 2,600 were waiting in northern Mexico, with some 3,500 not far behind in Panama.  Migrants are paying at least $2,350 to be smuggled to the U.S., a 71,000-mile, four-month long journey that starts in Brazil and ends at the U.S. border, where they demand asylum in the hopes of taking advantage of Obama's lax immigration policies.  Immigration experts say that the numbers emphasize the significant control that smuggling operations have over illegal immigration.  Moreover, the high percentage of Haitians arriving in San Diego indicates an arrangement between migrants and Mexico, possibly even the Sinaloa cartel.
From 1987 to 1991, U.S. Supreme Court precedents created an atrocious and unjust imbalance in the penalty phase of capital cases.  Under the dubious rule of Lockett v. Ohio (1978), the defendant had (and has to this day) the unlimited right to bring in "any aspect of a defendant's character or record ...  that the defendant proffers as a basis for a sentence less than death."  So the defendant can bring in his family to offer real or fabricated stories of his childhood with little or nothing to do with the crime.  His mother can testify as what a very good boy he is (when he is not raping, torturing, and murdering children).  The Constitution requires this, the Supreme Court solemnly informed us, even though it never did prior to the 1970s and has not been amended in this respect.

Under the rule of Booth v. Maryland (1987), on the other hand, the victim's family was prohibited from testifying about the victim or about the impact of the murder on them.  The result was that they had to sit in silence as the defendant's family humanized him, while the victim remained nothing more than abstraction.

The high court saw the error of this injustice four years later and partially overruled Booth in Payne v. Tennessee (1991).  We at CJLF are proud to have played a rule in that badly needed correction.  However, Booth was not completely overruled.  Victim impact evidence is now admissible, but the opinions of the victim's family as to the appropriate sentence are not.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals apparently needed to be reminded of that latter proviso, and the U.S. Supreme Court did so this morning, without dissent, in Bosse v. Oklahoma, No. 15-9173.  Justices Thomas and Alito concurred:

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Two CA Police Officers Shot and Killed, Suspect in Custody:  The father of the man accused of fatally shooting two Palm Springs police officers over the weekend said that his son was "acting crazy" and wanted to shoot police.  The AP reports that John Felix, 26, was arrested early Sunday following a lengthy standoff, during which he shot and killed officers Jose "Gil" Gilbert Vega, 63, and Lesley Zerebny, 27, and wounded and third officer.  The officers had gone to the home Felix shared with his parents in response to a domestic disturbance call.  Vega was a 35-year veteran of the force with eight children who planned to retire this December, and Zerebny, who had been with the department for 18 months, had just returned to work from maternity leave after giving birth to a daughter four months ago.  Felix is a gang member who was previously sentenced to four years in prison in a failed murder plot in 2009.  He was initially charged with attempted murder but pleaded down to assault with a firearm.  He will be formally charged on Tuesday with first-degree murder and other felonies.  Whether or not prosecutors will seek the death penalty against him will be decided within two weeks.  The last time an on-duty uniformed police officer was killed in Palm Springs was 54 years ago.

Officers Warned Against Opioid Field Tests:
  Police departments across the country are warning their officers of the dangers of opioid filed tests and advising officers to let the state police lab handle synesthetic drug samples in order to promote officer safety.  Tom Howell Jr. of the Washington Times reports that law enforcement leaders in several states have ordered their officers to cease field-testing suspected heroin on drug calls, fearing they will be accidentally exposed to synthetic fentanyl and carfentanil, two drugs fueling the overdose epidemic.  The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which also notified police officers about the dangerous drugs and advised against field testing, says that even minor inhalation or skin contact with synthetic opioids can be toxic, causing disorientation, breathing problems and clammy skin.  In one incident, two New Jersey detectives thought their bodies were "shutting down" after a bag of fentanyl puffed in their faces.  Last month, almost a dozen Connecticut SWAT team members had be to hospitalized after a flash bang device they set off during a drug raid sent heroin and fentanyl into the air.  Fentanyl, which is competing with heroin on the streets, is a synthetic drug that is 50 times more powerful than heroin.  Carfentanil, which is used as an animal tranquilizer, is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine and 100 times more so than fentabyl.  The drugs are entering the U.S. through Mexico and via mail from overseas labs, and are appealing to drug dealers that see them as profitable because of cheaper manufacturing. 

As the Election Nears, Californians Consider Prop 57:  With the November ballot just weeks away, California voters are faced with a decision to approve or reject an initiative intent on softening the state's tough-on-crime laws, for the third time in four years.  Tracey Kaplan of the Bay Area News Group has this article discussing Proposition 57, which we at CJLF call Gov. Jerry Brown's "Jailbreak" initiative, would allow prisoners to qualify parole years earlier.  Proponents argue that Prop. 57 will restore fairness in the criminal justice system, ease prison overcrowding and costs, and give inmates a second chance.  Opponents, however, warn that the measure will allow the early release of dangerous criminals whose crimes are not technically classified as violent under state law, such as rape of an unconscious person.  Opponents anticipate the measure will increase crime, just as other sentence-reducing and early release measures like AB 109 (realignment), Prop. 36 and Prop. 47 already have.  "It's a good reason not to go further down the same road," said CJLF legal director Kent Scheidegger.

Justice Ginsburg on Kaepernick

Justice Ginsburg nails it on this one.  Teresa Welsh reports in the SacBee:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known for saying what she means. So no one should be surprised the Supreme Court justice shared her opinion about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest in stark terms.

When Flakiness Becomes Criminal

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There are a lot of flaky people in the world, people with strange and stupid ideas that defy logic and science.  They have the right to be flaky as long as they don't hurt anyone else.  When flaky people become parents, though, they may very well hurt someone else.  Ross Guidotti reports for KDKA in Pittsburg:

A mother in Fayette County is facing charges for allegedly starving her 11-month-old son.

The child's father brought the boy to CYS and told them that his estranged wife was "obsessed" with following a strict diet, and only fed the child fruit and nuts.

Elizabeth Hawk, 33, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child after investigators say she allegedly failed to give her 11-month-old son sufficient food.

SCOTUS Next Week

The U.S. Supreme Court has a one-day argument week next week.  Normal argument weeks are Monday through Wednesday.  Next week, Monday is a legal holiday, Columbus Day.  No arguments are scheduled for Wednesday, which is Yom Kippur.

So it's all about Tuesday.  The main action, for our purposes, is Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado, asking whether the Constitution requires an exception to the time-honored rule that you can't impeach a jury verdict by calling the jurors to testify as to what was said during deliberations.  CJLF's brief, written by Kym Stapleton, is here.  Our press release is here.

Manrique v. United States is a technical question about restitution.  The Question Presented, as drafted by counsel for defendant, occupies an entire page and is a fine example of how not to write a Question Presented.   However, the fact that the Court took it anyway is an example of why that may not matter as much as some of us think.

News Scan

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L.A. Sgt's Killer Identified:  The parolee accused of killing a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant earlier this week has been identified as a man with a long criminal history who is known for his hot temper.  Veronica Rocha, James Queally and Brittany Mejia of the L.A. Times report that Trenton Trevon Lovell, 27, fatally shot Sgt. Steve Owen, 53, with a stolen handgun on Wednesday afternoon after Owen responded to a reported residential burglary.  Lovell first shot and wounded Owen, a 29-year decorated veteran, then stood over him and pumped four more bullets into his body, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.  Lovell was apprehended after attempting to steal Owen's patrol car, reversing it into another patrol car and striking and injuring another deputy, exchanging gunfire with that deputy and then running into a home occupied by two teenagers.  Lovell's criminal history dates back to when he was a juvenile selling marijuana.  He has since racked up 11 arrests, two for which he served time in state prison.  His record includes resisting arrest, armed robbery and, most recently, driving under the influence of alcohol and causing injury to another person, for which he was ordered to complete a program.

Officer Feared Using Gun While Being Beaten:  A Chicago police officer is in the hospital after being severely beaten by a man that she was afraid  to shoot because she was fearful of facing public scrutiny for defending her life.  ABC7 reports that the officer was one of three that were hospitalized after responding to a car crash on Wednesday morning, where they encountered a man they described as violent and under the influence of drugs.  Although the officer feared for her life while the suspect was beating her, she was hesitant to use lethal force "because she didn't want her family or the department to have to go through the scrutiny the next day on the national news," said Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson.

SCOUTS Won't Hear AZ Death Penalty Case:  U.S. Supreme Court justices' refusal on Monday to hear Arizona's appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned a convicted murderer's death sentence could affect up to 25 other death row inmates, allowing them to challenge their sentences.  Astrid Galvan of the AP reports that justices let stand last December's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of James McKinney.  The court ruled that Arizona unconstitutionally excluded evidence about McKinney's troubled, abusive childhood might have led the judge to grant leniency and avoid a death sentence.  At issue in the case is Arizona's casual nexus rule, which requires mitigating evidence like mental illness or PTSD to be directly tied to the crime in order to be relevant in sentencing.  McKinney was sentenced to death after being convicted of murder in two separate killings he committed during burglaries, one in February 1991 and the other a month later.  His sentencing case will go back to state court within 90 to 120 days.  For now, his conviction stands.
Bill noted earlier this morning the renaming of George Mason's law school as the Antonin Scalia Law School.  As he and Justice Kagan note, Justice Scalia was a giant of the law and a leader in producing an important change in direction for our judicial system.

The fundamental principle, too often forgotten, is that the rightful power belongs to the people "to institute [their] Government, laying its Foundation on Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

The Declaration is not just a decorative backdrop for debates.  It is the guiding light of our government.

When the judicial branch of government imputes new principles into the Constitution that the people never put there and when it usurps to itself decisions that the form established by the people assigned to another branch it violates both the Constitution and the fundamental principle on which it is based.

Judges who commit such acts of usurpation may have the best of intentions.  They may genuinely believe that different principles and different forms would be more just.  But that is not their decision to make in a democracy.  The sole legitimate way to make those changes is through the amendment process in Article V of the Constitution.

Originalism is not merely a philosophy or a theory.  It is nothing less than the defense of the democratic bedrock of our government against autocracy.

Justice Scalia understood this.  A great many more judges understand this now than did when he joined the Supreme Court, but still not enough.

Justice Kagan on Justice Scalia

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Yesterday I had the honor of attending the re-naming ceremony for the law school at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia (about 20 minutes from my home)  --  now known as Antonin Scalia Law School.  Among the speakers was Justice Elena Kagan.  I thought she did a brilliant and heartfelt job of summarizing the enormous impact Justice Scalia had on law and judging in the United States.

I told my students at Georgetown Law at the beginning of our class this semester that, fifty years ago, the question I thought most judges would have asked themselves was, "What is the just outcome in this case?"  The question far more frequently has become one that respects democratic self-government:  "What outcome in this case is most faithful to law?"

The change is due principally to the work of Justice Scalia, probably the most intelligent man I have ever known, His acumen is widely recognized; his courage in taking on the existing order isn't so much, but should be.

Justice Kagan's remarks are here.

News Scan

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TX Killer Executed:  An inmate on Texas' death row who said he wanted to be executed was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday evening.  CBS reports that Barney Fuller Jr., 58, pleaded guilty to capital murder in 2004 for the 2003 shooting that left his neighbors, Nathan Copeland, 43, and Annette Copeland, 39, dead inside their home.  The married couple's 14-year-old son suffered two gunshot wounds and survived while their 10-year-old daughter escaped injury.  The shooting was motivated by a two-year dispute between Fuller and the Copelands that began on New Year's Day in 2001 when Fuller made a threatening phone call to Annette after she complained to authorities had shot her dog and shout out the electrical transformer that powered their home.  The incident was addressed in court two nights before the murder.  Fuller dropped all of his appeals last year in order to expedite his execution.  He was the seventh convicted killer put to death in Texas this year and the 16th nationally.

CA Sergeant Fatally Shot, Suspect in Custody:  A Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant died Wednesday following a deputy-involved shooting in Lancaster, Calif., and one suspect is injured and in custody.  Fox News reports that Sgt. Steve Owen, 53, a 29-year veteran of the department and a Meritorious Conduct Medal, Gold recipient, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the face after he and another deputy responded to a reported burglary.  After shooting Owen, the gunman attempted to steal Owen's patrol car, exchanging gunfire with the other deputy before reversing the vehicle into the other patrol car and fleeing on foot and into a home with two teens inside.  The teens were safely removed from the home before the suspect, who is on active parole, was taken into custody. 

Sharp Increase in CA Crime Fuels Political Debate: 
Dan Walters has this piece in the Sac Bee discussing the political climate in California amid a sharp increase in crime and next month's impending ballot.  After decades of decline, violent crimes such as armed robberies, rapes and homicides have surged, says Walters.  In 2015, violent crime increased 7.6% from the previous year to 426.3 per 100,000 population, two-and-a-half times the 3% national increase.  The homicide rate alone spiked by 8.5% last year, bringing it far above the 4.9% increase recorded nationally.  This year, approximately 170,000 violent crimes have been recorded in the state.  The disturbing data comes to light just in time for California voters to weigh in on several Nov. 8 ballot initiatives:  Proposition 62, which would repeal the death penalty, Proposition 66, which would expedite executions, and Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 57, which essentially changes the definition of "nonviolent felony" and makes it easier for felons to obtain parole.  These measures follow Brown's prison realignment (AB109) in 2011 and voter-approved Proposition 47 in 2014, which have been central in the debate over California's crime spike, with many believing the two laws to be the prime factor.

MO Officer Fatally Shot, Suspect in Custody:  A St. Louis County police officer was shot and killed early Thursday by a suspect with whom he had been previously connected.  Fox News reports that St. Louis County officer Blake Snyder, 33, a four-year veteran of the force, was fatally shot by an 18-year-old suspect, who remains unidentified, "almost immediately" after approaching him in his vehicle in relation to a disturbance case.  The suspect had been previously charged with a felony in a case that Snyder was a part of, prompting officials to announce during a news conference that they "wouldn't discount that this was an ambush."  The suspect was injured by another officer in an exchange of gunfire and is currently in custody.  Snyder's death was the first on-duty death of a St. Louis County officer since October 2000. 
The New Mexico House of Representatives today passed the death penalty restoration bill, HB 7, by a vote of 36-30.  Regrettably, the vote was along party lines.  Hopefully some of those "no" votes won't be back in 2017.  The Senate adjourned without considering the bill, allowing its members who would have voted no to chicken out and not face the voters with an express vote on the record.

Although the bill will not be enacted this year, it is a landmark.  A restoration bill has passed a house of an American legislature for the first time after a period when the other side had the legislative momentum.  Hopefully favorable votes by the people of Nebraska and California a month from now will add to the momentum in the correct direction.
Associated Press has this report.

A proposal to reinstate the death penalty in New Mexico has cleared a new hurdle in the state Legislature.

The appropriations and finance committee in the House of Representatives recommended approval Monday night of a bill to reinstate capital punishment by lethal injection for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers.

The proposal moves next to the full House, which reconvenes on Wednesday.

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and allies in the Legislature are pushing to revive the death penalty in response to the recent killings of two police officers and the sexual assault, killing and dismemberment in August of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in Albuquerque.

Committee members voted 8-6 along party lines to advance the bill, with Democrats in opposition.

Deliberations over the death penalty are spilling over into fall election campaigns. The entire Legislature is up for re-election in November.

It would certainly be a good thing if some members lost their seats over opposition to restoration.

A journalist asked me the other day if my support for California Proposition 66 wasn't "going against a trend," as if going against a trend was a mortal sin.  Some trends should be gone against, and this is one of them.  Between New Mexico, Nebraska, and California, maybe we will turn the tide and start a trend in the other direction.

News Scan

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Illegal Immigrant Charged in Deadly Phoenix Crash:  An illegal immigrant who drunkenly struck a pickup truck carrying several children, killing one of them, in Phoenix over the weekend said he drank a small bottle of whiskey, 12 beers and used cocaine three times in the hours before the fatal crash.  ABC15 reports that German Godinez-Godinez, 19, ran a red light Sunday night before plowing into a pickup truck, killing six-year-old Tyrik Jenkins, who was sitting in the bed of the truck, and injuring three other children and one adult.  Godinez, a citizen of Guatemala, told authorities that he entered the U.S. on a tourist visa and stayed after it expired.  He is facing one count of manslaughter and five counts of endangerment.  His next scheduled court appearance is Oct. 10. 

NH Cop Killer Granted Parole:  The state of New Hampshire granted parole Tuesday to a convicted killer who gunned down a Manchester police officer four decades ago when he was a teenager.  Doug Alden of the New Hampshire Union Leader reports that Cleo Roy, 55, was 15-years old in 1976 when he fatally shot Officer Ralph Miller, 25, a rookie officer with a toddler and a pregnant wife.  Roy had been partying with friends while his parents were out of town and bragged to some older friends that he would kill any cops that showed up.  Roy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.  While doing his time in New Hampshire, he escaped in 1977.  He was never charged but was transferred to a federal prison in Illinois, where he was was charged with killing a fellow inmate in 1988.  Roy was later indicted and sentenced in 2005 to federal racketeering charges along with 39 individuals associated with the Aryan Brotherhood, a gang he was a member of.  He has since left the gang, expressed remorse for killing Miller, completed programs and remained free of disciplinary problems for five years.  Roy's release is conditional and lifelong.  For the first 90 days, he will be on intensive supervision and must frequently report to his parole officer, be subject to random drug tests and abide by a curfew.  He is also not allowed to go to Manchester or have any contact with the Miller family.

DEA Moves to Limit Overprescribing of Opioids:  The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in a final order to be published Wednesday in the federal register, will reduce the amount of opioid medications manufactured in the U.S. next year, lowering the production quotas of several highly addictive drugs that have proven fatal.  Andrea Noble of the Washington Times reports that in 2017, the approved production of oxycodone decreased by 22%, while morphine and hydrocodone dropped 34% and fentanyl fell 24%, making next year's reductions the largest production quota declines in the last decade.  Officials added that a large part of the reduction was accomplished by eliminating a 25% production buffer that was implemented in 2013 to combat concern over a possible painkiller shortage, which "proved unnecessary."  Opioid overdose deaths from prescription drugs and heroin hit record levels in 2014, with nearly 30,000 deaths, and continues to affect communities across the U.S.

NY Family Fighting for Domestic Violence Registry:
  The parents of a domestic violence victim are fighting for a domestic violence registry in New York state that would work like a sex offender registry, consisting of individuals with prior felony domestic violence convictions.  Jordan Williams of WIVB reports that Linda and Thom Randolph's daughter, Shannon Pepper, was assaulted by her boyfriend, Tony Nevone over the course of two days in 2013 after she received a text from her ex.  Nevone broke Pepper's eye sockets and upper and lower jaw, punctured her lung and bit her lips down, almost completely off, leaving her unrecognizable and comatose for a month.  After regaining consciousness, Pepper was the first to sign a petition in the fight against domestic violence, but unfortunately died in an accidental apartment fire last year.  The registry bill passed the Senate six times and has yet to pass the Assembly due to opposition from the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a group which argues that domestic violence registries have "dangerous unintended consequences" such as providing a false sense of security -- as many attackers don't have prior criminal records and wouldn't be listed -- and compromising victims' privacy and lessening the likelihood of them reaching out for services out of fear of being identified.  The Rudolphs are working with Congressman Tom Reed's office to gain momentum at the federal level.  Pepper's attacker was charged with first-degree assault and will be in prison until at least 2030.

Rudy for AG?

Elise Viebeck has this post at the WaPo.

Giuliani is eyeing the role of Trump's attorney general if he's elected in November, according to sources close to the process. And to campaign for it -- after all, he's got to beat Chris Christie -- he's giving the surrogate performance of a lifetime. Trump's preferred policy of stop-and-frisk? Giuliani claims it brought about an 85-percent reduction in crime in New York City. Black Lives Matter? "Inherently racist." And police relations? He's holding a meet-and-greet for Trump with Cleveland's police union Tuesday.

Well, stop-and-frisk is a component of effective policing, and BLM is inherently racist, so there is nothing wrong in what Mr. Giuliani is saying and doing. 

Giuliani denied he's pursuing "any office or position in a future administration."
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[Ted Olson said,] "Rudy was a tremendous associate attorney general and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is more important than any of the other federal prosecutorial districts. I doubt there is anyone in the country who could come close in terms of his experience. ... He had the job of number three [at the Justice Department], then was U.S. attorney, then ran for mayor. He is exquisitely well-suited for attorney general."

But of course none of that matters unless there is a Trump Administration, and given that the candidate himself punches a new hole in the hull of his campaign ship almost daily, that seems to be a sinking possibility.

Two Years After the Lies, the Truth

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From the Washington Post:

A federal judge has dismissed a $41.5 million lawsuit that protesters in Ferguson, Mo., had filed against police, the city and the county, alleging that police used excessive force against them during unrest that erupted after a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager in August 2014.

In a 74-page decision, Judge Henry Autrey ruled that plaintiffs "have completely failed to present any credible evidence" that any actions by police "were taken with malice or were committed in bad faith" during protests in the wake of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson. Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson in Brown's death.

Autrey wrote that police gave numerous orders for the protesters to disperse and that police "clearly had argued probable cause to arrest any individual" who refused to comply with the orders.

The story is here.

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OH Plans January Execution Using 3-Drug Combo:  Representatives for Ohio announced Monday of the state's plans to resume executions in January with a new three-drug combination, following a three-year moratorium brought on by drug shortages and legal challenges.  Andrew Welsh-Huggins of the AP reports that the drugs intended for use by the state are midazolam, which renders sleep, recuronium bromide, which causes paralysis, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.  The drugs have been approved by the FDA and are not compounded, says Thomas Madden of the Ohio attorney general's office.  The last time Ohio carried out a death sentence was January 2014, when Dennis McGuire was put to death in a procedure that took 26 minutes using a two-drug combo that had never been tried.  It was McGuire's execution which led to several complicating legal problems and changes to the state's death penalty system.  There are over two dozen inmates on Ohio's death row with firm execution dates, some of which are scheduled as far out as October 2019.  The next inmate in line to be executed is Ronald Phillips, who raped and murdered his girlfriend's three-year-old daughter in 1993. 

Video Shows Mob Attacking CHP Patrol Car with Officer Inside:  A newly released video taken on Sept. 25 in Fresno, Calif., shows a police officer who responded to several calls about illegal street racing and reckless driving become surrounded by a mob of people yelling at him and kicking his vehicle while he sat inside.  Kristine Guerra of the WaPo reports that the crowd of 30 to 40 people shouted, "F the police, we run the streets," as they violently kicked the sides of the officer's SUV and recorded the incident on their phones.  The officer, whose name has not been released, drove away unharmed, while his patrol car sustained $12,000 worth of damage.  Police have arrested three men in connection with the incident, two of whom are members of the Bulldog gang, and more suspects are being sought.  Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said during a Friday news conference that he believes this incident is a symptom of the current environment of riots and targeted attacks on police officers across the nation.

NY Community Reeling from Violent Impact of Immigration Policies: 
A violence-plagued Long Island, N.Y., community is pointing a critical finger at federal and local immigration policies that have allowed illegal immigrants to flood Suffolk County and gangs to thrive.  Joseph J. Kolb of Fox News reports that over the past four years, 225,725 unaccompanied Central American children entered the U.S., 3,500 of them placed in Suffolk County between October 2013 and July 2016.  A federal policy allowing Central American children apprehended at the border to be placed with illegal immigrant sponsors has enticed thousands of unaccompanied minors to journey to the U.S., where they are often placed in homes with little supervision and government monitoring.  The HHS website indicates that in FY 2015, only 1,895 home visits were conducted out of 33,726 referrals made by DHS.  This means that young migrants are even easier to target for gang recruitment by the MS-13, a notorious El Salvadorian gang that is thriving under Suffolk County's sanctuary city policies.  Last month, two 15-year-old girls were brutally murdered and the skeletal remains of two teenage boys were discovered, all allegedly connected to MS-13. 

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