McCarthy's article is a goldmine about how the federal criminal justice system works on the inside, and well worth your read. Sentencing reform is getting as far as it is only because the public has no idea about how many breaks for criminals are already built into the system, though hidden from view.
Mandatory minimum sentences and strict sentencing guidelines for serious offenses were enacted precisely because judges, often in collusion with prosecutors [Ed. note: and virtually always at the urging of defense counsel], were systematically releasing serious offenders, allowing them to continue preying on society. While the "man-mins" and guidelines helped dramatically reduce crime, the left-leaning legal profession agitated against them. One result is "fact" pleading -- the sort of shenanigans that we see in the Hastert case: a willfully false rendition of the facts in order to sidestep sentencing enhancements required by law.
That is what sentencing "reform" has in store for us. The proposals may call for careful judicial fact finding before a felon is released. But the law already calls for careful judicial fact finding when the felon is sentenced. What we frequently get, instead, is careful judicial evasion -- often aided and abetted, it must be noted, by the Justice Department. It may be that careful fact finding would result in the release of some prisoners who should be released; but the breed of "fact" finding we are apt to get from sentencing "reform" will result in the mass release of incorrigible, violent criminals.
Recently in Notorious Cases Category
Police said Howard's arrest record goes back to when he was 13. In sum, the allegations included assault, robbery and a total of nine for the criminal sale of a controlled substance. Howard also had a record of two arrests for the criminal possession of marijuana, and others for public lewdness, criminal trespass and conspiracy.Easy enough to say after the fact, but did he meet the criteria for these programs as they are actually administered?
Last year, Howard was placed in a drug diversion program meant to spare jail time for drug offenders to ease jail overcrowding. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said that move was an incredibly bad idea.
"If ever there was a candidate for someone not to be diverted, it's this guy," Bratton said. "He's the poster boy for not being diverted."
WASHINGTON--The Supreme Court Monday granted former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's plea to avoid prison while he pursues a last-ditch appeal of his convictions on federal corruption charges.Chief Justice Roberts issued a stay pending consideration of the government's response last Monday. He then referred the stay application to the full court, which granted it today.
Mr. McDonnell was sentenced to two years' imprisonment following his January conviction on what federal prosecutors characterized as a "quid pro quo bribery scheme" with a Virginia businessman seeking to promote a dietary supplement product.
In an unsigned order, the justices said Mr. McDonnell need not report to prison while he prepares his Supreme Court appeal, which the justices will then consider whether to hear.
This post back in 2012 discusses the quirks of the jurisdiction of individual Justices and the full Court to issue stays.
Sal Perricone, a high-ranking prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office, using a fake name, posted commentary on Nola.com, the website of the Times-Picayune, that (in the words of the Court of Appeals) "castigated the defendants and their lawyers and repeatedly chastised the New Orleans Police Department as a fish 'rotten from the head down.'"
Perricone was joined in this outrageous misconduct by Jan Mann, the first assistant to the U.S. attorney.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, Karla Dobinski, a veteran of Holder's Civil Rights Division, also posted inflammatory commentary under at least one assumed name. Ironically -- appallingly -- Dobinsky was part of the DOJ "taint team" in this case. As such, she was assigned to protect the civil rights of the indicted defendants.
The whole appalling story is here.
Colorado theater shooter James Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury failed to agree Friday on whether he should get the death penalty for his murderous attack on a packed movie premiere.
The nine women and three men said they could not reach a unanimous verdict on each of the murder counts. That automatically eliminates the death penalty for the failed neuroscientist, who blamed his calculated murders of 12 people on mental illness.
A rule of law that says the opinion of one juror can trump the opinion of the other eleven borders on insane. We would never consent to such a rule for the guilt verdict. In no state of the union does a jury hung 11-1 for conviction produce an acquittal. Why does any state have such a rule for the penalty phase?
States that have this crazy rule need to get rid of it. A hung jury on penalty should trigger a retrial with a new jury, as it does in California and Arizona.
The Obama administration is preparing to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison, according to U.S. officials, some of whom hope the move will smooth relations with Israel in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal.Such a deal for Israel. First we sign the most toothless agreement since Neville Chamberlain came back from Munich in 1938 waving a document and claiming "peace in our time," an agreement that practically guarantees that a country determined to wipe Israel off the map will acquire nuclear weapons. But not to worry, we will make it up by releasing one spy.
Such a decision would end a decadeslong fight over Mr. Pollard, who was arrested on charges of spying for Israel in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison. The case has long been a source of tension between the U.S. and Israel, which has argued that a life sentence for spying on behalf of a close U.S. partner is too harsh. Israel has for years sought Mr. Pollard's early release, only to be rejected by the U.S.
Now, some U.S. officials are pushing for Mr. Pollard's release in a matter of weeks. Others expect it could take months, possibly until his parole consideration date in November.
The methods vary by state. Texas defined a higher degree of murder called "capital murder." Most states have a designated list of "aggravating circumstances." California calls its list "special circumstances" because we just have to be different.
In some states the plus factors are found concurrently with guilt. In others they are decided along with the decision on penalty. Colorado apparently "trifurcates" its capital trials, sandwiching an "aggravating factor" phase between the guilt and penalty phases. (California does that with the prior murder circumstance only. All the rest are decided concurrently with guilt.)
Are the following factors true in the case of the Aurora shooting?
• Intentionally killing a child under the age of 12.
• Killing more than two people during the same criminal act
• Creating a grave risk of death to people other than the 12 victims.
• Committing the murders in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner.
• Ambushing the victims.The jury did not find the first one, apparently not satisfied on the specific intent requirement. What's that fourth one? Hopefully the jury got a "narrowing" instruction to define that more precisely.
Jordan Steffen and John Ingold have this story in the Denver Post. Maria LaGanga has this story in the LA Times.
Blagojevich now asks us to hold that the evidence is insufficient to convict him on any count. The argument is frivolous. The evidence, much of it from Blagojevich's own mouth, is overwhelming. To the extent there are factual disputes, the jury was entitled to credit the prosecution's evidence and to find that Blagojevich acted with the knowledge required for conviction.
But a problem in the way the instructions told the jury to consider the evidence requires us to vacate the convictions on counts that concern Blagojevich's proposal to appoint Valerie Jarrett to the Senate in exchange for an appointment to the Cabinet. A jury could have found that Blagojevich asked the President‑elect for a private‑sector job, or for funds that he could control, but the instructions permitted the jury to convict even if it found that his only request of Sen. Obama was for a position in the Cabinet. The instructions treated all proposals alike. We conclude, however, that they are legally different: a proposal to trade one public act for another, a form of logrolling, is fundamentally unlike the swap of an official act for a private payment.
Because the instructions do not enable us to be sure that the jury found that Blagojevich offered to trade the appointment for a private salary after leaving the Governorship, these convictions cannot stand. Compare Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957), and United States v. Rivera Borrero, 771 F.3d 973 (7th Cir. 2014), with Griffin v. United States, 502 U.S. 46 (1991). (Perhaps because the jury deadlocked at the first trial, the United States does not seriously contend that any error was harmless; a one‑line statement in the brief differs from an argument. Cf. Hedgpeth v. Pulido, 555 U.S. 57, 60-62 (2008) (an error of this kind is not "structural").)
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) -- Jurors convicted Colorado theater shooter James Holmes on Thursday in the chilling 2012 attack on defenseless moviegoers at a midnight Batman premiere, rejecting defense arguments that the former graduate student was insane and driven to murder by delusions.
The 27-year-old Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded.
Jurors took about 12 hours over a day and a half to review all 165 charges. The same panel must now decide whether Holmes should pay with his life.
After Dylann Roof murdered nine pastors and churchgoers in the course of Bible study in Charleston, President Obama couldn't wait to use the occasion for his narrow political purposes. "Let's be clear," he said with urgency in his voice. "At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence ... doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it." The implication, of course, was that additional gun control legislation was required but that his political opponents refused to see the light.
Now we learn in whose power it was to do something about it, and it wasn't anyone Obama was talking about. The Washington Post reports: "Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina three weeks ago, was only able to purchase the gun used in the attack because of breakdowns in the FBI's background-check system, FBI Director James B. Comey said Friday." The White House, of course, declines to comment.
I said at the time of his nomination that Jim Comey was a man of integrity. I feel vindicated today. As to his boss, I have as much comment as the White House.