"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

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A blessed Christmas...

to all who read these pages. I hope yours is filled with family, faith, and joy. Christmas truce is declared; back to the trenches afterwards.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I thought nuns knew that part about not bearing false witness...

For a view on why Sr. Helen "Dead Man Walking" Prejean's new book, Death of Innocents, constitutes imposition of the death penalty on the truth, see my review of it over at New Oxford Review.

Sr. Helen and the late Dobie Williams

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

PP: Covering Up for Rapists

"I was raped at 11, by my 17 year old boyfriend. I chose not to tell my parents because I didn't think their involvement would help, that was the right choice for me. Planned Parethood helped me deal with the aftermath of the rape allowing me to deal and cope as best as I could in my own way."

Planned Parenthood: more concerned about doling out abortions than in reporting crimes against women and minors. They won't call the police, they won't tell an 11-year old's parents that she's been raped. No, they respect the "judgment" of an 11-year old child!

I don't know if California, where this child was victimized, has reporting laws for health-care providers who become aware of crimes committed against children, but if CA doesn't, it should, and if they do, PP employees should be prosecuted.

Hat tip: Feddie at Southern Appeal.

Fatal Justice?

Lest any readers here think that I never side with a defendant and am reflexively pro-prosecution, let me introduce you to Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, who, despite an acquittal in military court, was convicted in federal court in 1979 for killing his wife and children at Fort Bragg in 1970. Go here for an overview of the facts and proceedings in the case.

I've followed the MacDonald case with some interest for years, ever since my father showed me an appellate brief he'd been asked to comment on by one of MacDonald's lawyers back in the '80s.

That brief revealed a clear pattern of the prosecution suppressing exculpatory evidence that would have corroborated MacDonald's claim that drug-crazed hippies invaded his home and committed the crimes. This prosecutorial misconduct was the subject of a popular book, Fatal Justice, the title of which is a play on the book Fatal Vision by Joe McGinnis, upon which a movie was based, both of which portray MacDonald as a lying murderer. That the prosecutors were less than ethical is not surprising given later events, such as the lead prosecutor going to prison for embezzlement after entering private practice.

The case is entering another round of appeals in the Fourth Circuit here in Richmond, because new evidence has been uncovered that the woman who ultimately confessed to the crime, Helena Stoeckley, told prosecutors before trial that she was in the MacDonald house the night of the murders, and they covered this information up. The convicted thief-prosecutor denies this; the other prosecutor, now a ranking Justice Department attorney, would not comment. Hmmm.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Semper Fi

Last weekend, I took my boy scout troop down to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, otherwise known as Parris Island, S.C. to observe how the Marines make new Marines. Very enlightening: we stayed in recruits' barracks, ate at the mess and had an actual D.I. escorting us, and yelling at the boys as they cleaned the "head" on the last day of our trip. The best part was observing the pugil stick course, where two recruits run down opposing narrow walled-in paths, coming out into a small open-air room where they commence to pounding each other with padded sticks to simulate hand-to-hand rifle combat. Their DIs stand around, yelling and cajoling them, and one DI calls out hits and declares a winner. The recruits really go at it, and a couple had to be helped out of the room.

A very rewarding trip which increased my already great respect for the USMC and how well they train their basic recruits. Of course, I may be a little biased, since my eldest wants to join next summer.

RIP, Tookie

Well, they finally ended it. The State of California executed the judgment rendered by a jury against Stanley Williams, the infamous thug who murdered Yen-I Yang, 76, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 63, and the couple's daughter Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 43, while robbing their motel.

Needless to say, since this was a high-profile convict, the usual suspects were out in force, lamenting his execution and pleading for clemency because Williams was supposedly a changed man, who had turned to writing children's books in his latter years.

The Governor of California did not find his redemption claims credible, but let's assume Williams was really a changed man. Should he have been spared?

No. Why? Because the point of capital punishment is not solely to execute unrepetant killers; it is to restore to the greatest degree possible the moral equilibrium which has been upset by the killer's conduct.

Thus, in Williams' case, he ruthlessly snuffed out the lives of three innocent victims. The only way such a crime can remotely be paid for is by the killer forfeiting his own life. Now this rationale remains regardless of the personal virtue of the killer. This is why Karla Faye Tucker was justly executed despite her conversion to Evangelical Christianity and against the wishes of Jerry Falwell and others. It is simply beside the point that someone has become a saint in prison. Because even if we could gauge the sincerity of such conversions (an inherently implausible task given the built-in motivation to feign such conversion in order to garner clemency) the fact remains that the crime must be atoned for. Premeditated, deliberate murder can only be adequately atoned for by death: it is the only penalty for that crime that comes close to approximating a congruent satisfaction for the ultimate crime.

May Williams, and his victims, rest in peace, and may their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Magic Number

What gives with the numerical obsession of the media? First it was the tizzy over the 1,000th Iraq military death; now it's the 1,000th execution since restoration of the death penalty in 1976.

The 1,000th criminal executed was a fellow named Kenneth Boyd, who has never denied that he went to his estranged wife's house and gunned down both her and her father. Oh, and it didn't bother him that their children were watching this go down, and in fact, "Boyd's son Christopher was pinned under his mother's body as Boyd unloaded a .357-caliber Magnum into her. The boy pushed his way under a bed to escape the barrage. Another son grabbed the pistol while Boyd tried to reload."

Nevertheless, somehow Boyd's lawyer managed to utter this whopper with a straight face: the "execution of Kenneth Boyd has not made this a better or safer world." Boyd certainly will do no more killing, and his loss certainly gives a sense of satisfaction of justice that makes me conclude the world is better than it would be if he were still breathing our air while that poor woman and her father are not.

Anyway, he was an appropriate 1,000th, since the media has made such a deal out of this number. Not even abolitionists can claim the guy didn't do it. Virginia almost had number 1,000, but Governor Warner commuted a death row inmate's sentence to life imprisonment. It seems the court clerk in that case disposed of the murder weapon depriving the defendant of the opportunity of having new DNA tests run on it. There was no real doubt about the guy's guilt (he was identified as the perpetrator by a witness and he was found in possession of a cash drawer stolen from the business), but Warner probably wisely decided not to make the guy the poster child for the 1,000th execution, given the media obsession and his own political ambitions.

In other developments, in the case I've mentioned before, here, Joseph Smith, who raped and stangled 11 year-old Carlie Brucia in Florida, has been recommended for a death sentence by a jury.