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CJLF Newsletter

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For readers interested in following CJLF's work, the present and previous editions of our quarterly (more or less) newsletter, the Advisory, are available online.  Links are maintained in the Publications section of our main web site.

Hard copies of the Advisory are mailed to all CJLF contributors upon publication.
We often hear that non-violent offenses, of which white collar offenses are a significant part, should seldom or never earn jail time.

I have previously argued that non-violent offenses can be terribly harmful and often merit imprisonment.  Swindling an elderly couple out of their life savings or selling heroin to a teenage addict are among numerous examples.

Today, I saw a story in the ABA Journal about a white collar offense  -- insurance fraud  --  in which the defendant had additional things in mind to see to it that he'd become one of the "exonerated":

Already facing a 50-count indictment, a jailed defendant in a California insurance fraud prosecution is now facing 10 new charges concerning nine witnesses he is accused of targeting for murder in the Contra Costa County case.

District Attorney Mark Peterson said a witness "hit list" found by investigators not only lists the nine witnesses allegedly targeted by Charles Waldo, 37, but specifies the order in which they were to be killed and the methods by which they were to be slain, the Bay Area News Group and KTVU report.

The methods included fatal drug overdoses and staged car accidents, as well as slayings during robberies "gone bad," the DA said.

The Journal story noted that the articles don't include any comment from the defendant or his counsel.  I have no trouble believing that.

Last year, the Legion of Whiners was in good form, trying to intimidate speech not conforming to their views.  Indeed, they marched beyond the typical snarling reception given conservative speakers, and filed a formal complaint against Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit for her talk at a Federalist Society function at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  The gist of the complaint, as reported below, was that the Judge's remarks were  --  ready now?  --  racist, and inappropriately favorable to the death penalty.

The complaint was widely reported, see, e.g., this NYT story and this one from CBS.  It was also reported on legal blogs, see, e.g.,  this entry.

The complaint was referred by Chief Justice Roberts to the DC Circuit.  After a lengthy and thorough investigation, the Court rejected the complaint in its entirety, with no dissent.  Its order is here.  Hat tip to Judge Richard Kopf on his blog Hercules and the Umpire.

I have been writing recently about left wing attempts to silence dissenting conservatives, basically by false and disgusting accusations.  The Jones complaint was of a piece with this New is the relative silence about its dismissal.

Congratulations to Judge Jones.  May she serve many more years on the bench, and continue to defy the Politically Correct Brownshirts who would silence her.

Ebola, Race and Criminal Justice

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Ebola screening of persons on incoming flights, and the concomitant implicit threat of detention and possible coercive quarantine, is deployed disproportionately against "people of color," to use the current politically correct phrase.  

Q:  Why, then, haven't the Usual Whiners against racial disproportionality been at the top of their lungs in protest? 

A:  Because even they understand that the government's response, though grossly racially disproportionate, has nothing to do with race.  It has to do with behavior. Specifically, it has to do with the higher-than-average prospect that persons on those particular flights have come in contact with the virus.

Q:  So why do Whiners refuse to understand that racial disproportionality in important areas of the criminal justice system  --  e.g., concentrating police patrols in high crime areas, and stiffer sentencing for those with long records or histories of violence  -- likewise reflects attention to behavior rather than attention to race?

A:  Because that is not on the Whiner Agenda.  Indeed, it affirmatively undermines the Agenda.  Once it is recognized that differences in treatment reflect differences in chosen behavior rather than differences in skin color, the Agenda collapses, and with it much of the force of the attack on police and prosecutors.

Eric Holder's Resignation

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This isn't entirely fair, but it's not entirely unfair, either.

Eric Holder Leaves

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It is by now old news (about six hours old) that Eric Holder will step down upon confirmation of a successor.

There is much to be said about Holder's stewardship of DOJ, and I'll have some observations in the offing.  His single most memorable moment, I thought, was his statement that the American people are cowards for refusing to talk candidly about race.

There are three things wrong with that statement.  First, it's false.  The American people are not cowards.  Second, not only does race get talked about, it gets talked about obsessively.  This is true in particular of those who want to provoke anger among Obama's voting base (election in six weeks, dontcha know) and guilt among the rest of us, thus to drain the moral confidence we need to enforce our law and keep the country safe.  Last, to the extent honesty is missing from the conversation, it's because Holder's Political Correctness Police in academia and the press can't jump fast enough to shout "racist" at anyone who disagrees with them.

Asset Forfeiture

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John Yoder and Brad Cates, former directors of USDoJ's Asset Forfeiture Office, have this op-ed in the WaPo:

Last week, The Post published a series of in-depth articles about the abuses spawned by the law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture. As two people who were heavily involved in the creation of the asset forfeiture initiative at the Justice Department in the 1980s, we find it particularly painful to watch as the heavy hand of government goes amok. The program began with good intentions but now, having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished.

Asset forfeiture was conceived as a way to cut into the profit motive that fueled rampant drug trafficking by cartels and other criminal enterprises, in order to fight the social evils of drug dealing and abuse. Over time, however, the tactic has turned into an evil itself, with the corruption it engendered among government and law enforcement coming to clearly outweigh any benefits.


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Eugene Robinson is a columnist for the WaPo whom I don't often agree with.  This column is about Hillary Clinton and her fuzzy message, and it is mostly off-topic for the blog.  I was struck by one paragraph, though.

In the book, Clinton rejects the idea of choosing between the "hard power" of military might and the "soft power" of diplomacy, sanctions and foreign aid. Instead, she advocates "smart power," which seems to mean "all of the above." When I hear officials talking about "smart" this or "smart" that, I hear a buzzword that is often meant to obscure policy choices rather than illuminate them.
Second the motion.  And it's not just officials.

Cold Case Autopsy

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Breaking news from the Wars of the Roses, 1485 ... Nick Kirkpatrick has a story in the WaPo headlined, King Richard III was probably hacked and stabbed to death in battle, according to a new study.  Prior posts:

Digging Up Richard III

My Kingdom for a DNA Identification

The Defence of Fort McHenry

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D.C. lawyer Francis Scott Key's name appears in many of the reports of early decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.  He is not best known for his legal briefs, though.  Two hundred years ago today, he witnessed his countrymen's valiant defense of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, from a British naval bombardment.  Morale had sunk after the burning of Washington and the White House, and the successful defense was a badly needed inspiration.  Key wrote a poem called The Defence of Fort McHenry.  Later set to music, it is now known as The Star Spangled Banner.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Why You Take the Press with a Grain of Salt

I've often noted that journalism, and in particular the reporting (and non-reporting) of crime, is not to be taken at face value.  The most deceptive part is not the slanting of stories, although that's a major problem. The most deceptive part is what gets covered and what gets deep-sixed.

Last weekend, the Palin family was apparently involved in a booze-filled free-for-all at a family party in Anchorage.  This was covered by the New York TimesCNN, USA Today, the Washington Post, ABCMSNBC, and a whole bunch more.

Fair enough.  Sarah Palin was a candidate for Vice President six years ago and remains, kind of, a voice within the Republican Party.  So I get the coverage.

What I don't get is the press's simultaneous and virtually uniform blackout of a grisly murder rampage by an avowed Jihadist.  As the conservative blog Powerline reports:

If a Jihadist were going around the United States committing random murders, you might think it would be a significant news story. But apparently not: until this morning, I had never heard of Ali Muhammad Brown, a "devout Muslim" who murdered at least four random American men as an act of Islamic jihad.

It seems that the only major paper to have picked up this story, though it broke last month, was the New York Post.

Moral of story:  As I tell my students, listen critically to what you're hearing  -- and even more critically to what you're not hearing.

"Mr. Death Penalty"

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The National Journal has an article titled, "Mr. Death Penalty," which describes the work of CJLF's own Kent Scheidegger.  Kent will be too modest to post about it himself, so I thought I would let you know.

The article is not a puff piece  --  there's nothing like the giddy, gushing tone you'd see if it were about "Mr. Abolitionist."  But it's reasonably fair-minded as these things go, and does not portray Kent as Satan.  Unfortunately, it doesn't go nearly far enough in describing the extent of either his fair-mindedness or his astonishing analytical abilities, which are as good as any I've seen in the legal profession.

Congratulations to Kent and CJLF for getting some overdue recognition as the country's leading advocate for what is, in some cases, the only punishment that even resembles justice.

[Ed. note:  I have updated this to give the National Journal link].

Seeing It Up Close Has an Effect

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I noted yesterday that one reason there is such a hue-and-cry about the slap-on-the-wrist deal Ray Rice got from the prosecutor  --  after knocking his girlfriend cold  -- was that the assault had been taped, and has now been seen on TV by tens of millions of people. Nothing works like the evidence of your own eyes.  

In the past, with no tape to view, we would have been left with the defense lawyer's breezy, courthouse-steps interview to the effect that, "My client had a moment of misjudgment.  He has taken responsibility, and he and his wife would now like their privacy to move on with a life full of hope."

(I regret to find that I can now write this BS in my sleep).

When a crime can be seen, with all its violence and bullying on unfiltered display, things change.  And now there is evidence, although mostly sketchy and suggestive at this point, that, indeed, they are changing.  This is the news:

As matters of public concern, crime and security are back.

The Most Transparent DOJ in History

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Ummm....well.....errrr....maybe not.

Would someone remind me how long Eric Holder has been Attorney General?  I mean, I know he wouldn't be hiding the ball from his own Inspector General.

Evil, Part II

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Kent notes that WaPo columnist Richard Cohen has discovered the existence of evil. As Kent observes, this is progress.  Three years ago, Mr. Cohen took a more relativist approach.  The subject then was nothing like the grotesque beheading of a hostage (it was, instead, the behavior of the very unfortunately named Congressman Weiner), but relativism quickly balloons once it escapes, so I went after Mr. Cohen with both barrels in my comment to Kent's post.

Still, progress is progress and clarity is clarity, and I'm happy to see them.  Perhaps, in a different life, I'll see some on the editorial page of the New York Times.

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