"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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Prosecutors Taking Over

Congratulations to my old boss are in order, as Bill Petty, the elected Commonwealth's Attorney of Lynchburg, Virginia, gets the Republican nod to a spot on the Court of Appeals of Virginia. This means he will most likely be elected by the General Assembly. He will join Randy Beales, another former boss of mine when he was interim Virginia Attorney General for a few months, who is being tapped to fill a second vacancy.

The good news for prosecutors and the law-abiding public is that now the Court of Appeals, consisting of 11 judges, will have as members former prosecutors Bob Humphreys, Bill Petty, and Walt Felton (who for many years was in charge of Virginia's Commonwealth's Attorney's Services Council); and a former AG, Randy Beales.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"It feels like we just got punched in the stomach."

That's the mom of Terri Winchell (pic at right) reacting to news that two anesthesiologists refused to take part in the execution of the man who choked, beat, and stabbed her daughter to death. The anesthesiologists claimed it was "medically unethical" to be required to give the executioner advice if something went wrong with the execution.
Morales, now 46, was convicted of choking, beating and stabbing Terri Winchell to death in a remote area of San Joaquin County in January 1981. Prosecution witnesses said a cousin of Morales, Ricky Ortega, had learned Winchell was having an affair with Ortega's male lover and asked Morales to kill her.
(Hmmmm, was that a hate crime by a homosexual against a heterosexual?) Anyway, it is remarkable that a man who essentially tortured a teenager to death continues to breathe because he might feel some discomfort from his nice, tidy, lethal injection. Solution? California should bring back the electric chair and/or the gas chamber and/or firing squad. All relatively quick. Where did we get the notion that the death penalty should be pain free anyway? I missed that class in law school, I guess. This is of course just the latest effort by the left to impede the course of justice in death penalty cases: we can't have an execution that hurts anyone! That violates the Eighth Amendment as currently brought to you by Justice Kennedy and his so-called "evolving standards of decency." Standards that no doubt will be constantly "evolved" to preclude whatever execution method the states utilize.

The American Medical Association, The American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the California Medical Association all opposed the anesthesiologists' participation as unethical and unprofessional. What a hoot. These hypocrites don't mind if a doctor sticks a scissors into the base of the skull of a partially-delivered baby and sucks the child's brains out, or if an elderly or infirm patient is starved to death, but they get all squeamish if an anesthesiologist merely stands by to monitor a murderer's lawful execution which is actually carried out by prison staff.

"Hate Crimes"

In an interesting new study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (HT, WND), widely ignored by the MSM, it seems that whites are more likely than blacks to suffer from so-called hate crimes. The absolute percentage of victimization is: whites are victims 66.5% of the time, blacks: 29.1%, other: 4.4%.

What I find utterly ridiculous about this whole enterprise of "hate crime," however, is the fact, mentioned in this report, that
Victims of hate crimes knew the crime they experienced was hate related because offenders made fun of them, made negative comments, used slang, hurtful words, or abusive language. About 99% of victims encountered hate-related language, irrespective of the offenders' motives.
Say what? If a "hate crime" is defined as any crime where the victim was made fun of, subjected to hurtful words or abusive language, "irrespective of the offenders' motives," then many more than half the violent crimes I prosecute are hate crimes.

In short, these "hate crime" statistics are nothing more than a guess on the part of the victim as to the offender's motives. The BJS report admits that only in 6.8% of the racial hate crime cases were the motives of the offenders verified by police investigation. Even then, the 6.8% is an estimate based on 10 or fewer sample cases. The BJS simply takes any case where offensive language is employed and lumps it in as a hate crime, whether or not "bias" was the primary motivation of the offender in commiting the crime.

The whole thing is a sorry example of political correctness infecting the justice system. Isn't almost every crime (and I would argue all violent crime) an example of hatred of the victim? Criminals don't offend because they love the victim, do they? We should punish criminal actions, not perceived motivations of the offenders. Does getting mugged traumatize a victim less because the offender did not utter a racial slur? Is a beating more injurious because the offender called the victim a name?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Real Courage: No More Life Imprisonment?

The next frontier for death penalty abolitionists, although they will certainly not admit this yet, is getting rid of life imprisonment. Why can't they advocate that just yet? Because part of the strategy of the left is to argue that we can incarcerate people effectively for life, thus rendering them harmless. So why execute them? This accords also with the latest views expressed by the the Catholic Church on the death penalty, which argue that such "bloodless means" of incapacitation are preferable to the death penalty. So for the time being, the possibility of life imprisonment is being used to argue against the necessity for the death penalty.

Some, however, have not gotten the message to downplay the next stage of the game. Some inmates in France, of all places, are arguing that death would be preferable to life imprionment:
We, those who have been entombed alive for life… we ask for the reestablishment of the death penalty for ourselves. … Enough hypocrisy! We'd rather get it over with … than to see ourselves die a slow death. … Noone speaks about long sentences anymore, which are [nothing less than] slow death penalties. [HT: No Pasaran]
Right. Of course these convicts understand very well that France will never reinstate the death penalty. What they are in fact advocating is abolition of life sentences. Another French convict/author, Claude Lucas, who wrote a book titled "Suerte" while in jail comes right out with the program, saying that:
abolishing the death penalty to substitute it with real life in jail, that is no better … A life sentence is forsaking a prisoner to a degenerative existence, it's torture, euthanasia … [Real] courage would be to say, no condemnations whatsoever beyond 15 or 20 years.
This is not just some Continental phenomenon, either. As Professor Doug Berman points out in this blog posting at Sentencing Law and Policy, "in the wake of the Roper decision precluding the application of the death penalty to juvenile offenders, the next notable Eighth Amendment battleground could be LWOP sentences for juveniles." Berman is skeptical these arguments will ultimately succeed, but seems hopeful that this "next frontier" may open up a broader discussion of the supposed injustices involved in many life sentence cases.

It does not take a crystal ball to figure out that the left, especially the ones using religious rationales to advance their cause, will, if capital punishment is eliminated, soon thereafter go all out against the supposed inhumanity of life imprisonment. This will be all the more highlighted in murder sentences, which are often served in "super-max" and other high-security prisons, where there are often indignities such as 23-hour a day lockdowns and severly limited privileges.

You read it here first.

"Hand of Hope"

Meet Samuel. He is being operated on in utero to repair his diagnosed Spina Bifida:

"The tiny hand of 21-week-old foetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life." Little Samuel's mother said they "wept for days" when they saw the picture. She said, "The photo reminds us my pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person." Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 per cent successful."

Via A Worker in the Vineyard.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Check out this new addition to my blogroll, BlackFive. Voted best milblog in 2005, its author is "on a mission to highlight the good that our military men and women do every day." Especially interesting is the story of the brave Marine in the center of this picture:

Where do we find such men?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Just as every cop is a criminal?

You won't find many people more supportive of law enforcement than yours truly; however, I have to say that this story is an outrage:
In Spotsylvania County, as part of a campaign by the sheriff's office to root out prostitution in the massage parlor business, detectives have been receiving sexual services from "masseuses." During several visits to Moon Spa on Plank Road last month, detectives allowed women to perform sexual acts on them on four occasions and once left a $350 tip, according to court papers.

If I were the Commonwealth's Attorney in Spotsylvania, I would categorically refuse prosecution of these cases and advise the sheriff that if he uses this "technique" again, his detectives will be charged with solicitation of prostitution: "Any person who offers money or its equivalent to another for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts as enumerated above and thereafter does any substantial act in furtherance thereof shall be guilty of solicitation of prostitution and shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor."

Sheesh, can we talk public perception of law enforcement here? Not to mention simple sexual morality? Since when do the police get carte blanche to commit violations of the law to make arrests, especially when the offense is as (relatively) slight as the discreet prostitution taking place at private massage parlors? The County could address this more effectively by enacting some creative zoning ordinances.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Via Stop the ACLU (dontcha love their accompanying photo to the left?) and WND:

An ACLU lawsuit on behalf of an agnostic, lesbian couple seeking to nullify the Boy Scouts’ long-standing lease with a San Diego park will be heard in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, widely regarded as the nation’s most liberal. The city of San Diego is appealing a U.S. District Court judge’s ruling in 2003, which determined the agreement violates the First Amendment’s ban on state-sponsored religion.
Oral arguments will begin Tuesday morning in Pasadena, Calif. A decision is expected later this year.
Judge Napoleon Jones said in his 2003 ruling the Boy Scouts are a religious organization with a “religious purpose” because adult leaders and youth members are required to believe in a “formal deity” and to swear duty to God. Backers of the Boy Scouts argue that while the group promotes belief in God, it represents no particular denomination or religion. Individual troops can be sponsored by a church, synagogue, mosque or secular organization.

Meanwhile, while the freak-show parade that is the ACLU continues its assault on God, motherhood, apple-pie, and America, the scouts go about the business of becoming honest, ethical, religious, productive members of society (so needless to say, few plan on law school). Here's a batch of them this past Sunday at my parish:

How Low Will They Go...

... to try to throw mud at the justice system? Lawyers for this man, Michael Morales, who raped and murdered a teenaged girl, have apparently submitted five forged affidavits purportedly from jurors in Morales' case urging California Gov. Schwarzenegger to commute his death sentence.
the five jurors in question told prosecutors under oath this week that "they have never been contacted by anyone from the Morales team, that they have no idea who Kathleen Culhane [a defense private investigator] is, that they did not sign declarations the Morales team attributed to them, and most importantly, they do not support clemency," prosecutors said in arguments presented to Schwarzenegger. One juror's name was misspelled on one of the documents described as fabricated."I never would have signed a declaration under penalty of perjury that included a misspelling of my name without at least correcting the misspelling," said the juror, whose name was redacted from the new declaration.

It seems that the culprit is an overzealous defense lawyer, David Senior, but Ken Starr, dean of Pepperdine's law school, is also involved in the case and will undoubtedly have his reputation besmirched by the corrupt and criminal actions taken by the defense in this case.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rendering Criminals Harmless?

No. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Death Penalty is a valid option for punishment of murder, but admonishes that:
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm--without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself--the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are rare, if not practically non-existent.'

(echoing John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, no. 56)

News story: "Black and Latino inmates were segregated in one Los Angeles County jail on Monday and the entire jail system was on indefinite lockdown following weekend riots that left one dead and about 60 injured." And of course, what Virginian can forget the infamous 1984 mass death row escape from the supposedly max-security, escape-proof Mecklenburg Correctional Facility?

So, what exactly is the Catechism referring to when it talks about these possibilities for rendering offenders "incapable of doing harm"? Because it certainly couldn't be the prison system we have in this country.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The ACLU and its Friends

From the frozen Northlands: "Four male Wisconsin prisoners who are trying to become women will continue receiving hormone treatments until at least August despite a state law prohibiting the practice, which took effect last week."

Now who is supporting these convicted criminals in their efforts to keep making honest citizens pay for their twisted self-mutilation? The usual suspects of course, the ACLU and the Lambda Legal dandies. "The Legislature is substituting its judgment for medical judgment, which is causing serious harm to our clients," said attorney Cole Thaler, who represents three of the inmates.

The "medical judgment?" The thugs suffer from "gender identity disorder." Hmmmm. So mutilating their genitals and pumping them full of hormones will somehow change their chromosomal makeup? Of course not, and to get to such a "medical judgment" one has to go to the Diagnostic and Statiscal Manual, that last refuge of scoundrels of all sorts, and which as we all know has little to do with medicine and lots to do with political correctness. Witness how homosexuality was transformed from a mental disorder in the DSM to a social status symbol.

But thank goodness the enlightened ones at the ACLU will be there for the pervs...it's no surprise; as noted before here, they have a weak spot for cross-dressers.

A Tale of Two Juries

I'm in recovery mode, having prepped for two felony jury trials this week.

Jury #1 was an abduction with intent to defile and firearms case, which appeared to be ready to go on Tuesday... until a witness showed up in a less than totally sober condition, and the defendant had been swept off to the hospital the afternoon before trial for double hernia surgery. Unfortunately, for security reasons, the jail did not tell the defendant or the defense attorney about the date or time of this operation, so when the attorney went to talk to his client at 6pm, he found the guy freshly back from surgery, doped up on Percocet.

We tried to contact the judge to ask him to call off the jury, but he refused. Morning of trial, the witness shows up in no condition to testify, the defendant is still on Percocet and now in a wheelchair. I point out to the judge that I don't want my witness to be perceived as having been drinking when testifying before the jury, and further, I don't think it's fair to have to try the defendant while he's temporarily in a wheelchair... and the judge is unmoved. Fortunately, he cannot let the defendant stand trial when the defendant is on Percocet, since he must be cognizant of what is happening and able to assist in his defense. Case continued.

My second jury was a classic he said/ she said felony wounding trial, which had to be tried after the defendant turned down my proposed plea agreement. I'm fortunate when the defendant concedes on cross that he did initially grab my victim by the arm, even while he insists her other injuries were the result of his self-defense against her assault on him. Result: defendant found guilty of a lesser-included misdemeanor assault, which had been my offer to him. I'm satisfied with the result, while not happy with the fine (no jail) the jury settled on for punishment. It's the lightest sentence I've ever obtained from a jury, which clearly indicated to me their difficulty in resolving the conflicting testimony. In short, they may have compromised on a guilty verdict to the lesser included while not wanting to impose jail for a situation where they could not clearly identify one person as being wholly at fault.

I'm ready for the weekend.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Brow

Now all America has experienced The Brow. The Brow tells us there's a better way. His way. Mark Warner's way, of promising not to raise taxes, then giving Virginians the largest tax increase in state history. The Brow's way, of not waiting a month after taking office before proposing new taxes. The Brow does not call them taxes. No. They are "investments." That is Brow-speak. It's akin to calling rape unilateral sexual fulfillment....

The Brow wants to appear to be non-partisan, non-ideological. The Brow has not told his listeners what is "better" or even new about the same old Democratic agenda of abortion on demand, special rights for homosexuals, and high taxes, er, "investments;" like the "investment" he proposed last night from the oil industry, whereby their "excessive profits" would be "invested" by the government in programs The Brow supports. The Brow knows an "excessive profit" when he sees it.

The Brow was apparently chosen to represent the kinder, gentler face of a Democratic Party increasingly seen as strident and radical. He would not call for a withdrawal from Iraq; he would not criticize the terrorist/phone surveillance operation; he would not speak of homosexual marriage or the impending demise of Roe v. Wade and the resulting enslavement of American women once that issue is returned to the states.

The Brow is nice (look at The Brow). The Brow is soothing (look at the Brow). The Brow makes you feel calm (look at The Brow). The Brow....zzzzzzzzzz.