"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Most Deadly Branch

"Death is the gate of life" said St. Bernard of Clairvaux and we hope and pray that the soul of Terri Schiavo has passed through to a place devoid of faithless, scheming husbands, ghoulish, blood thirsty lawyers, cold, corrupt, proud judges, posturing politicians, and the cries of the crowd for her death. May she be in that land of plenty, quenching her thirst from the waters of eternal life and satisfying her hunger from the Bread of Life. May she be looking down on her parents, wracked with anguish, and on us who mourn her, with the smile of one who now knows no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more strife, but only peace, only rest, only the vision of her One True End.

She is a martyr, a martyr to the killing machine of the modern state. A martyr to the "death with dignity" crowd, though her death was anything but dignified-- a horrific torment of starvation and thirst that had to be hidden by morphine injections. A martyr to a society unmoved by the sight of a man who seeks his wife's blood in court while he commits adultery with a new victim, er, woman. A martyr especially to a judicial system gone amok, which will extend absurd procedural protections to confessed murderers, but which dispatched this gentle woman without the intervention Congress clearly intended.

The "least dangerous branch" has struck again. It is already responsible for the killing of millions of unborn citizens. It has prevented states from protecting their citizens' moral welfare, "legalizing" sodomy and in some cases has attacked the sanctity of the family by mandating homosexual "marriage." And now a state court with the connivance of the federal district and appellate courts, has killed an utterly innocent woman, a victim of her devious, cheating, lying husband and his immoral, degenerate, death-worshipping lawyer George Felos. One wonders if now they are paying homage at the temple of their god, Quetzalcoatl, having shed innocent blood to his name, not to keep the sun on its path as the Aztecs believed, but so Michael Schiavo could be rid of the burden of his wife.

Jefferson's famed tree of liberty is parched, as parched as Terri Schiavo's dying body. It needs to be watered.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Strange signs

If you can find an issue that unites the likes of Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice, Jesse Jackson, Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter, let me know, but the murder of Terri Schiavo has brought out some strong currents of commonality among very diverse segments of our activist/chattering class. I wish I could be confident that this development presaged a reexamination of the culture of death, but I fear the death cult that the left in this country has become, has still too strong a hold on the public discourse. This is why they can cook up some polling with leading questions to use as a weapon-- "see, you religious nuts are yet again out of the mainstream... every reasonable person wants Terri dead!"

Hope for the Future

Check out this this blog from a young priest in the Arlington, Virginia diocese. Very gratifying to see young orthodox clergy displacing the older, liberal, "reformed" priests who have done so much to drag the Church into its current morass of liturgical revolution, doctrinal confusion, and moral pollution (ryhmes in honor of just-deceased Johnnie_Cochran, RIP).

An early victory in the war on terror.

How could I have missed this most important anniversary of the reconquest of Madrid from the communists during the Spanish Civil War? Shame on me! For all his faults, Franco saved Spain from becoming a communist country in 1936 and from the consequent persecution of Christians the reds had clearly in mind. The communists had made a game out of brutally murdering Catholic priests, nuns, and bishops and any laymen who opposed them. It's impossible to imagine how a communist Spain might have undermined the rest of Europe. And despite receiving aid from Germany in his struggle, Franco resisted entering the Axis, remaining neutral even when in 1940 it seemed that Germany would win the war. Post war, Franco brought Spain into the modern world economically, while showing that a state built upon Catholic principles was still viable even into the 20th century.

Compared with contemporary, homogenized, EU-ized Spain, with its easy divorce and abortion laws, Franco's Spain looks better all the time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Client control anyone?

Somedays this job really leaves you scratching your head. I just wrapped up a preliminary hearing on some serious robberies with 4 co-defendants. 3 had confessed and were apparently willing to testify against #4 to help themselves out. I had two ready to testify, and their attorneys had told them to do the right and sensible thing. Yet when they got up to testify, #1 said he "wasn't ready just yet" to testify. Take him away, deputy... #2 comes out: "I'll testify against #1 but NOT against this def, #4." Take him away, deputy. Call the jail, can we get #3 over here? Short break, he's here, but won't testify without his lawyer being present despite our lengthy proffer session where he and his lawyer both assured us he would love to testify.... Judge, after much argument, gives me a 24 hour adjournment to get the lawyer here so #3 will testify.

Sometimes it's hard to stick to the facts and equities and not just slam these idiots for their game-playing. #1 and #2, who were hoping for leniency in a state court, will now likely be hooked up federally. They (and their people in the gallery) probably won't be smirking then. #3 will hopefully do the right thing tommorrow. And the game continues....

Friday, March 25, 2005

Thanks to my colleague Ken Lammers over at CrimLaw for being the first blog to link to CM. It's humbling in a way, since as anyone knows who's been at trial work for any amount of time, your most frequent opponents often see your worst mistakes. Now we prosecutors are loath to admit making mistakes (it's that frickin' judge's fault for buying that laughable defense!), but I'll own up to a few. 'Course we won't mention the one that happened in a jury case Ken and I were trying, but let's just allow that we both will always remember to check the evidence for incriminating "blow job coupons" before the jury finds them on their own! (by the way, a split decision in that case, guilty of one felony, not guilty of two if I remember).

At any rate, hopefully he will be sparing with broadcasting my foul-ups, and I for my part will try not to keep reminding him all the time that prosecutors, NOT the pontificating defense bar, are the only players in this game whose sole job is to see that justice is done!

Good Friday in America, 2005

Another station in Terri's calvary. Starring Jeb Bush as Pontius Pilate, now set on washing his hands of this "problem;"; George Greer and the appellate courts as the high priests; and of course, starring as Judas, Michael Schiavo. Read all about it.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

"Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable." --Chesterton

Now, mirabile dictu, it seems that those "involuntary twitches" and "facial spasms" so airily posited as reasons for Terri Schiavo's seeming responses to those around her, might in fact be legitimate semi-conscious reactions after all. Also, amazingly, it seems that some doctors have concluded that starvation and dehydration are actually painful! What new medical revelations might be forthcoming one can only guess. Stay tuned... I hear they're about to announce that PMS often causes mood swings and that sugar causes tooth decay.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Silver Lining?

Funny how the "conservatives" out there can can worry so much about federalism in the Terry Schiavo case. Has it occurred to them that Congress has exercized its Art. III, section 2 authority (remember that?) to establish the federal court's jurisdiction to directly consider, NOT a "domestic" case, but an allegation of deprivation of life without due process of law, a concept they might recall is expressly mentioned in the 14th Amendment. So this action of Congress is entirely consistent with federalism and strict construction of the Constitution. In fact, I hope to see Congress "adjusting" the jurisdiction of the federal courts in order to effect the popular will much more often in the future!

Could this be one small gem buried in the stinking dung heap of this ghoulish case?

Reading Is Fundamental

What part of:

the District Court shall determine de novo any claim of a violation of any right of Theresa Marie Schiavo within the scope of this Act, notwithstanding any prior State court determination and regardless of whether such a claim has previously been raised, considered, or decided in State court proceedings. The District Court shall entertain and determine the suit without any delay or abstention in favor of State court proceedings, and regardless of whether remedies available in the State courts have been exhausted....(emphasis added)

do these courts NOT understand?

Monday, March 21, 2005

In Praise of Our Bishops

Just a note of thanks... now that our Bishops have removed homosexual priests from the seminaries and the ranks of the clergy; have eradicated the problem of homosexual clergy abusing young boys; have stemmed rampant doctrinal dissent in our colleges and universities; have by their voice and example led a massive Catholic resistance to abortion on demand; have brought Catholics to accept the Church's teaching on the illicitness of contraception; have stifled liturgical abuses and restored reverence to the Mass; have made the priesthood attractive to normal Catholic young men.....

Now that these feats have been accomplished, our good shepherds can finally takcle that ancient moral evil, capital punishment.

It's just a hobgoblin of little minds

Our dear shepherds, on the one hand sticking up boldly for convicted murderers and rapists, yet not in the least concerned with an utterly innocent woman being starved to death by her husband's manipulation of the "justice" system.

Unnatural Supreme Court

Some Catholics are apparently overjoyed that the Supreme Court has joined the Bishops' crusade against the Fifth Commandment as realized in the just and proportionate use of the death penalty. Deacon Fournier, a lawyer who dresses up to play priest on weekends, thinks the Supremes are finally getting on the Natural Law bandwagon in their decision negating state laws allowing for capital punishment of 16 to 18 year olds.

The argument that our country needs a “natural Law Jurisprudence” as Mr. Fournier termed it, is enticing to a Catholic. There is no question that our legal institutions should reflect, as a baseline, the dictates of the Natural Law as understood in the West for several millennia and as explicated and confirmed by the wisdom of the Church.

The difficulty arises in our Constitutional system as to where to locate that function of implementing the Natural Law. Congress is our lawmaker. They are solely responsible for drafting and enacting legislation. The Supreme Court’s mandate is not to make law, but only to decide whether laws which have been enacted are in conformity with the requirements of the Constitution.

Perhaps unlike in some other legal systems, American judges are essentially technicians, not philosophers, and imposing on them the responsibility to discern the Natural Law is like asking your local parish priest to conduct open-heart surgery. It is not an insult to the priest to recognize that surgery is not his line of work. Judges are good at applying the law to a set of facts in a case, or in putting a piece of legislation next to the Constitution and seeing if they conflict. They are not trained in law school to plumb the depths of the Natural Law; worse, life-appointed Justices are not accountable to anyone if their view of Natural Law turns out to be erroneous. It is therefore a dangerous idea to vest the safety of our institutions and traditions in the hands of lawyers who are not qualified academically or by temperment to be philosophers.

As long ago as 1947, before the culture wars stated, a Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black, explained that a Natural Law approach would "appropriate for this Court a broad power which we are not authorized by the Constitution to exercise." (Adamson v. California).

Note that none of this is to say that Natural Law does not have a role in our legal system. It is only to suggest that judges are not the proper repositories of the myriad practical determinations as to what laws are consonant with Natural Law. It is understandable that one might like some of the philosophically based, non-Constitutional rulings of the Supreme Court (like Mr. Fournier apparently does). But it should be remembered that once we admit the principle that the Supreme Court can impose its particular view (or more correctly, the view of five prevailing Justices) as “law,” we should not complain when they discern a hitherto unknown “right of privacy” in the Constitution which negates the states’ laws against abortion and contraception (Roe v. Wade, Griswold v. Connecticut). Or when they determine that the interest in self-determination and privacy means that sodomy laws are unconstitutional (Lawrence v. Texas). Or when they decide in the near future, as it seems they might, that fundamental fairness and equality under the law require that states not prevent homosexuals from “marrying.”

The decision to prevent states from justly executing juveniles stems likewise from just such judicial inventiveness. No genuinely principled legal, Constitutional argument can be made that such laws are unconstitutional. The Court is simply imposing the personal philosophical views of the prevailing Justices upon the will of the citizens of the states. They are in short doing just what Mr. Fournier is advocating. He cannot decry Roe and praise Roper. They are cut of the same cloth and result from the same lawless disregarding of the Court’s traditionally limited role in our system.

The question for any person dedicated to the Natural Law, then, is how do we best advance just laws? As the examples cited above (abortion, contraception, sodomy, marriage, capital punishment) show, the people usually do support and enact just laws. It is the Court which overturns these just laws. Our experience has thus been that the people and their representatives are a surer custodian of Natural Law principles.

So we should reject Mr. Fournier’s call for a generation of Catholic jurists armed to discern the Natural Law and enforce it from the bench. Such judges would actually be violating their oaths and undermining our legitimate institutions by usurping functions assigned by our system elsewhere than the courts. It is comparable to urging police officers not just to enforce the laws as written, but to seek out and punish any wrongdoing they find, whether the conduct is legal or not. It might sound nice (to some) but it is a recipe for lawlessness cloaked with a veneer of righteousness. The Natural Law must be advanced, but not every public official must advance it if his job does not permit him to do so.

This is beneficial, since from a Catholic perspective, it is relatively easy to influence our state and national laws through the (admittedly flawed) mechanisms of representative democracy. It is extremely difficult, however, to change radical Supreme Court decisions—to amend the Constitution or to wait for death and sympathetic presidents to appoint Justices who might (or might not) right the prior wrongs of their predecessors.

In sum, in accordance with the well-known Catholic principle of subsidiarity, our system is designed to keep such important issues close to the people. This is accomplished by vesting the legislative power solely in elected representatives. It is there we must work to advance the Natural Law, not in hoping for enlightened lawyers on the Supreme Court.

In principio

I hope to avoid the condemnation implied in the qoute from Chesterton on this blog's masthead... it will be a challenge, as I look at the blogs out there, to avoid falling into that trap of really saying nothing. To that end, I invoke the patronage of the "good thief" St. Dismas, who famously did not complain that his punishment was unjust, but rather rebuked his fellow thief “Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this man hath done no evil.” Our Lord did not contradict Dismas’ assertion that the thieves are being justly executed, but rather guaranteed him salvation that same day. Would that criminals were so contrite nowadays! Would that our bishops ponder this great saint before wading into capital punishment politics!

This blog will be devoted to exploring the crisis in the Catholic Church, the destruction of Western Civilization, and the airing of my gripes about my professional field, criminal justice, viewed from my lofty perch as a local prosecutor in the trenches. I make no apologies for my visceral traditionalism nor for my heroes, such as (in random order) Chesterton, Salazar, Scalia,
Marcel Lefebvre.

I hope to make the ride enjoyable.