"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

Friday, May 26, 2006

Thanks alot, Ken

Thanks to the generosity of a colleague with a twisted sense of humor, I am now the proud owner of a new dartboard, er, I mean, a new book, the aptly-titled Indefensible by the the often indefensible cop-hating (see here for more), prosecutor-bashing (see here for more), potty-mouthed author of this blog bearing the same name as the book.

This guy's schtick is trashing the entire criminal justice system and all its players (except noble public defenders like himself) in some bizzare effort to make himself feel better about representing criminals. Most normal defense attorneys are able to understand that the majority of their clients are guilty and work within the system to reach the best outcome for them by working with the prosecutors and the court to ensure that the defendant's rights are respected, trying cases where there is a legitimate defense, all without having a hissy fit about how corrupt and awful the whole system is.

Nevertheless, I shall dutifully read his tale of woe and report back here.

P.S.: I am a little hurt that I didn't get an autographed copy.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

ACLU slapdown, Part II

I imagine the ACLU-types back in the day were big on tuning in, turning on, and dropping out as social protest. It looks like the current youth revolution is based on the wild notion that public acknowledgement of God and public prayer will not bring an end to the republic.

Americans: death penalty a moral option

For some years now, the left has been waging a pitched war against the death penalty. This war takes place on many fronts, from the movie industry to religious representatives to the legal academy. Almost no aspect of American culture and thought has escaped the influence of this movement. On the other hand, there is no pro-death penalty movement as such. There are individuals here and there who support and defend the death penalty, but on nothing like the scale of the self-styled "abolitionist" movement.

Yet despite the constant drumbeat of the left against the death penalty, Americans have remained remarkably firm in their support of the practice. A new Gallup poll finds, in measuring American's assesment of 16 "hot button" moral issues that:
Six of these issues are viewed as morally acceptable by at least 6 in 10 Americans, including the death penalty, which tops the list this year with 71% saying it is morally acceptable. Following behind the death penalty are divorce (67%), buying and wearing fur clothing (62%), medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos (61%), medical testing on animals (also 61%), and gambling (60%).
So of all 16 issues, the death penalty is view as the most morally acceptable practice. This is a testament, in my view, to the common sense observation that some crimes are so horrible they deserve to be punished by the ultimate sanction. When you have cases like these, people's innate sense of justice tells them that sometimes execution is the appropriate penalty.

All the propaganda in the left's aresenal will not obliterate the natural understanding of justice that most people hold.

HT: Sentencing Law and Policy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Selective federalism?

Ken at CrimLaw thinks with respect to the death penalty that it's
shameful that the federal government is forcing it into parts of the US where it has been done away with by the will of the people as expressed by their legislatures. Rebuffed in Puerto Rico (how desperate do you sound when you're talking about how one juror supported your position?) the feds succeeded in Vermont.

Hmmm. So does he also think that in matters like abortion, sodomy, medical marijuana, school prayer, and flag desecration (just to name a few) that the federal guvmint should bow out in deference to the will of the people, who in each instance in various states have had their expressed will overturned by the Supremes?

How bout when the Supremes enforce their often contorted views of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments on states whose courts have interpreted them differently? (And for the combox anons--yes, I am aware of the so-called doctrine of selective incorporation, whereby the 14th Amendment supposedly requires the states to observe whatever portions of the Bill of Rights the SCOTUS thinks they should, together with whatever glosses the Supremes put on those provisions.)

High Schoolers slap down ACLU, fed judge

Some who read this blog occasionally accuse me of being knee-jerk pro-government. Not so. In fact, this story about a high school graduating class in Russell County, Kentucky warms my cold government-lawyer heart.

It seems that the usual valedictory prayer at this school's commencement exercizes would just have devastated an unnamed student, who procured the KY branch of the ACLU to respond by following that great American tradition, suing the school board. The ACLU, ever on the lookout for some offensive activity like a student uttering a prayer, obliged, and a federal judge as usual did his part by enjoing the school from such a clearly unconstitutional and anti-American activity.

Now the graduating seniors obviously missed the civics class where it says that when the ACLU and a federal judge say that prayer is forbidden in public, the proper response is to bow and scrape, and meekly obey.

Instead the seniors stood as one at the commencement and recited the Lord's Prayer, followed by a student's clearly unconstitutional and dangerous remarks that God had guided her since childhood.

No word yet on whether the judge will be ordering bench warrants issued for such contemptuous, outrageous, and subversive behavior.

Two of the dangerous offenders

Monday, May 22, 2006

Christ vs. Anti-Christ

With little serious competition over the weekend, and with tons of free publicity and support from the MSM, "The DaVinci Code" pulled in big bucks on its first weekend.

But as pointed out here, an accurate movie about Christ, "The Passion of the Christ," beat DaVinci Code by $7 million, despite fewer screens, an "R" rating, and the scorn of the MSM.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Prosecutor's tip: be aware that some warmed-over 60's baby-boomer types are advocating trying to mislead you into allowing them onto your capital jury by fudging the answers to your voir dire questions on ability to impose the death penalty.

This clown also argues that if he can't mislead the court into being selected for jury duty, he'll try to infect the venire panel by making an anti-death penalty speech. I hope that if and when he does it, he not only gets charged with contempt, but is compelled to pay the costs for that jury venire which will have to be excused from duty.

HT: Capital Defense Weekly.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Myth of Innocence

Check out Josh Marquis debunking the "myth of innocence." A well-reasoned reminder that the pro-criminal left has yet to locate that elusive actually-innocent executed inmate, and a useful summary of the methods and unscrupulous tactics of the death penalty abolitionists and their useful tools in the MSM.

Lynchburg Grows...

Pot, that is. The president of a non-profit gardening group called "Lynchburg Grows" has been arrested for growing the wrong crop in his apartment just down the street from Police headquarters in Lynchburg, Va.

The arrest is hampering efforts of the non-profit to acquire some historic greenhouses and acreage that would make them the largest greenhouse producers of organic crops in the mid-Atlantic.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Requiem for Gideon?

Ken worries that "underpaid" defense attorneys might not be giving "effective assistance of counsel" because their clients may feel that they cannot "risk" a trial when an underpaid lawyer does not have enough time to prepare the case adequately. (this is somewhat odd, since Ken admits that all the court-appointed lawyers he knows devote themselves to the interests of their clients. By that measure, surely they will be reasonably prepared to try the case if the client wants a trial. My own experience confirms this: I haven't tried a jury case yet with a court-appointed lawyer who didn't do a competent job. On the other hand, I have tried cases with "real" [retained] lawyers, who did horrible jobs at premium prices-- ironically, the very lawyer Ken mentions in his posting was one of these "real" lawyers who did a far worse job for his paying client than most of the court-appointed lawyers in this area would have done for him. Competency cannot be measured by compensation).

But Ken's worried clients may have another option since according to a soon-to-be-released study, defendants may be better off just skipping the lawyer altogether. Georgia law prof Erica Hashimoto apparently has found that:
pro se felony defendants in state courts were as likely as defendants with counsel to win complete acquittal. In addition, they were more likely to be convicted of lesser offenses - misdemeanors rather than felonies, according to Hashimoto's review of data, a sample from the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data that covers the country's 75 largest counties in the even years between 1990 and 1998.

Wow. Maybe lawyers aren't the saviors of mankind after all. Just think of all the heroic defense lawyer scripts Hollywood will have to revamp and the oh-so-pious books that will have to reconsidered.

Please don't take it too hard guys. I'm sure those biglaw places and the PI firms have room for y'all!

HT: Crim Prof Blog

Friday, May 05, 2006

The real heroes (hint: they're not lawyers)

A shooting yesterday took the life of one of our jurisdiction's finest. Officer Buro was responding to a domestic dispute, and when he was told by the complaining witness that her boyfriend had a gun, approached him and asked him if he had a gun. The killer then drew a gun and immediately shot Buro, killing him. His backup, Officer Diman, returned fire and ultimately killed the man, after being shot twice in the firefight. And apropos of the last posting, it's sad to observe that when an officer like Gary Buro is killed by some animal, I find myself relieved that the peretrator was put down by a brave officer like Joe Diman. There is no chance now that some poverty/race/bad-upbringing hustler will have a chance to convince a jury that in these circumstances the murderer of a police officer deserves to live.

For officer Diman, recovering from 2 bullet wounds, our prayers for a speedy recovery and our thanks for his valorous service to our community.

More about Officer Buro:

Police say Buro lost his wife in a car crash several years ago, when he was working at a Florida Police Department. He moved to Chesterfield from New York City , where he was an officer there for five years and was there during the 9-11 attacks. He also previously served as a military police officer with the US Marine Corps for four years. Chesterfield Police say Buro was easy to be around. They say he did an excellent job, in fact, police tell us he made a quick arrest in a robbery over the weekend and he was going to be commended for that.
Buro is survived by his mother, Agnes Thalman, his father, Ralph Buro Sr., his sister, Jennifer and his brother, Ralph.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, REST IN PEACE.

Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

HT to Ken for the links.

"America, you lost. ... I won."

That's the hard truth that Moussaoui uttered after masterfully manipulating our "justice" system to avoid the death penalty. It's really not surprising that a jury, even a Virginia jury, might pass on executing this guy, since the usual, moronic and irrelevant "I had a wretched childhood" show was put on by the usual warmed-over 60's radical lawyers (Gerald Zerkin is well known as a long-time agitator and activist against the death penalty, having been praised by such pro-criminal lobbies as Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (that's him in the pic getting his award)). Also, the relentless and dishonest propaganda barrage by the legal, religious, and political left against the death penalty and the criminal justice system is no doubt beginning to pay dividends to the defense bar.

It is refreshing, however, to note that the jury did not buy for one second the main contention of the defense that the accused was mentally incompetent or schizophrenic and therefore did not merit death. They specifically rejected that contention.

So while the Islamic world contemptously chuckles at our quaint devotion to "due process," we are left wondering: what would it take for us to fight back and start treating this as the war our enemies recognize it as already? If we understood that Moussaoui was not just a domestic criminal commiting a criminal act, but rather a trained, devoted soldier dedicated to waging war on our people (although since he was acting contrary to the Geneva conventions, he is not entitled to be treated as a POW), we might conclude: in such cases, a quick military hearing to ensure we've got the right guy (not at issue here, given his repeated confessions), then off to the firing squad. Leave the Peyton Place death penalty litigation circus to the "routine" cases of aggravated murder; that's the appropriate forum for people like Zerkin to showboat and excuse murder by appeal to the murderer's underprivileged upbringing: our country will survive the sad excuse for justice that such pandering antics produce; it may not survive too many Moussaoui-like trials.

As to making him a "martyr" by executing him, this strikes me as the lamest of reasons not to kill him. Our enemies are dedicated to our destruction, and simply imprisoning this terrorist will not sway them in the slightest from their goals. The only thing this verdict did was to re-affirm the belief of our enemies that we are too morally weak to kill our enemies and will not fight them seriously or proportionally; and to give our guilt-ridden and cowardly leftists grist for self-congratulatory rhetoric about how we are superior to the enemy because, as with every social and political issue, we resort to lawyers to solve our problems.

At least there was one upside to the verdict: we did not have to watch this guy bloviate on some cable show.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Coming soon to a country near you

From Somalia comes this interesting tidbit on what Sharia will be like when Islam conquers by demographics a Western Europe which is not sustaining reproduction rates sufficient to maintain its population levels:
A 16-year-old boy in Somalia, on orders from an Islamic court, publicly stabbed his father's killer to death at a Koranic school in the capital Mogadishu. A large crowd gathered to watch Mohamed Moallim, 16, stab Omar Hussein in the head and throat, reports the BBC. Hussein was convicted of killing the father, Sheikh Osman Moallim, after a row over the boy's education, the report said.

Of course, execution skillfully done in this manner might allay the concerns of some very sensitive and compassionate lawyers in this country who worry that lethal injection is too drawn out and painful to possibly be constitutional.
About this whole Duke lacrosse thing... I should have known better than to hope that out of this mess of rush to judgment on the one hand and new-found concern for possible false accusation on the other hand there might emerge an understanding on the right that yes, rich white kids can be criminals too, even if their accuser presents as an unsavory character; and on the left that yes, prosecutors have a responsibility to pursue cases in an even-handed way and that most genuinely seek to do so in a color-blind manner.

Alas, with lawyers like this around, who make a living ingratiating themselves with the MSM by condemning the entire enterprise of bringing punishment to criminals, it's going to be hard to get anyone to be level-headed. According to this (thankfully fringe) view, the lesson we are to draw is that "the Duke case merely illustrates just how hard it is for anyone--black or white to get a fair shake in the criminal justice system, once an accusation has been made." Oh really? Is that why the entire world now knows there is no DNA tying the defendants to the victim, or that the victim has made a similar complaint in the past, or that her companion has shifted her story several times? The way this case has been aired in the media, it is the victim who will ulitimately be lucky to get her day in court to confront the men she claims raped her. By the way, that's how the system works: we try cases in court according to the rules of evidence. Then the fact-finder decides if the government proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

We don't try cases by pompous wind bags declaring that the defendants are "innocent privileged white kids" and morph that claim into a charge that nobody gets a fair shake in court. The "fair shake" is precisely to try these charges before a jury and let the evidence, good, bad, or indifferent, convince the jury one way or another.

If the conspiracy-theory loony left were correct, this railroad system of justice would already have these boys hanging from a tree out behind the courthouse. Instead, the challenge is for the prosecutor to withstand the pressure from his "own people" to simply throw up his hands and do nothing because it is a difficult case to prove. Any choice he made about this case was bound to infuriate some group or other. It has obviously infuriated the leftist lawyer fringe, who oddly have forgotten their usual complaints about the "man" ignoring the vulnerable black underclass and favoring the rich, privileged white establishment. This case boldly contradicts that absurd and false characterization.

Maybe that's why the nattering nabobs on the legal left hate this prosecutor so much. Ignore him, they tell the black community, because after all, he's just one of the "the same prosecutors who are driving a racially unbalanced criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates their children." Right. So don't cooperate, don't support him, don't try to convince him to thoroughly investigate and prosecute crimes involving black victims. This is the same warped ideology behind the whole "Stop Snitching" movement. These white liberal lawyers apparently are so anxious to bring down the "system" that they don't care if black victims pay the price by being ignored by it.

But logic is not the strong suit of the left: in condemning the "system" for not simply ignoring this rape allegation, and pursuing it despite the reversal of the usual racial roles of white victim, black suspect, the "system" is actually showing that it is not "racially unbalanced"(whatever that means: should we have quotas now for how many representatives of particular races can be arrested?). So the left condemns the system for being racially blind in the Duke case AND for being racist, all at the same time!