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NY Considers Helping Terrorists:  Ninety days before utilizing surveillance technology the New York Police Department will have to post a description of how it works and how it will be used on the internet, if the city council adopts the "Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act.  This brilliant idea is discussed by Heather MacDonald in Sunday's City Journal.  While the proposal is billed as enhancing New York's sanctuary city credentials, MacDonald notes that it would actually impede law enforcement's ability to identify and intercept terrorists.  But supporters on the city council insist "Surveillance technology often has a disproportionate, harmful impact on communities of color."  The Brennan Center, which authored the proposal is also pushing for its adoption in Seattle and San Francisco.  

One Death Sentence Upheld, One Overturned:  As Kent noted in his post below, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence of Percy Hutton, who in 1986 murdered one man and shot another because of a dispute about a sewing machine. Cory Shaffer of Cleveland.com reports that the high court's per curiam opinion overturned a Sixth Circuit ruling that found a jury instruction given during the sentencing hearing caused an inadequate finding on the aggravating circumstances.  Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a double-murderer last week ruling that his attorneys failed to adequately investigate mitigating evidence which might have convinced jurors to sentence him to life.  Andrew Pantanzi of the Florida Times Union reports that in 2004 Thomas Bevel murdered a fellow drug dealer, his 13-year-old son, and attempted to murder a woman who was visiting the victims.  The woman and Bevel's girlfriend, who has also in the house during the murders, testified at the trial.  The Florida court's 4-3 ruling held that the defense attorney for the sentencing hearing should have hired a mitigation specialist to fully investigate Bevel's troubled childhood, drug abuse, and mental health problems.  A former circuit court judge who had rejected this claim wrote, "This Court should not and will not codify or institutionalize the burgeoning cottage industry of former paralegals or social workers who are ardent death penalty opponents who declare themselves to be 'mitigation experts' and demand exorbitant fees from the judicial system for doing the work that any competent paralegal or investigator could do for one-third the cost."     

1 Comment

I am curious about the Florida case.

As I am not a lawyer, I suppose this could be far fetched and ridiculous. If I was an unscrupulous defense attorney (Is there any other kind? Ba dum dum!) with an obviously guilty client, it seems like it would be a decent practice to plant small land mines (like not properly investigating mitigating factors) as an attempt to grind the gears of justice to a halt years later in appeal.

Could that happen? Has it?

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