"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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


But then again, that may just be a burgeois value judgment. A German brother and sister have enlisted the aid of a crimlaw prof (surprise) to argue that the German anti-incest law under which they were prosecuted is a "breach of their civil rights" and a "relic of the past."

They want the state to acknowledge their "right" to have sex and get married. Two of their four children have handicaps, but there's, like, no proof that the handicaps are attributable to screwed up genetics.

Coming soon to a jurisdiction near you, courtesy of Lawrence v. Texas?

HT: CrimProf Blog

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Happy St. Gabriel Possenti Day! Check the link for David Kopel's excellent review of the highlights of this gun-toting saint's life.
Here's the site of the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, dedicated to promoting Possenti as the patron saint of handgunners.

DPIC gets Religion

The Death Penalty Information Center, a long-time abolitionist outfit, has just added a new page to their website, "Religion and the Death Penalty."

This is typical of the left, which has recently discovered that their contempt for traditional religion has not benefitted them politically. So, no doubt holding their noses, they attempt to re-cast their policies in religious garb or at least trot out the latest group of ecclesiastics looking to bask in the glow of secular approval by blessing whatever the zeitgeist blesses and condemning whatever the zeitgeist condemns.

So no question, there are certainly liberal religious leaders who are more concerned about aligning their denomination's doctrine with the Democrat party platform than about saving souls or expounding the Faith of their Fathers. But it's certainly a stretch to claim that the mainstream religious traditions (as opposed to these temporizing and modernist churchmen) oppose capital punishment (unless, of course, you buy the view that these great religions can simply be re-written by each generation of their leaders).

Needless to say, the DPIC won't inform their readers that the main so-called Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) all have strong traditions favoring the appropriate resort to the death penalty. If you dig deeply enough, you can find a grudging theoretical support for the legitimacy of the death penalty in some of the contemporary teachings of some of these religions, but not the broad view of their traditional teachings, which would reveal a strong pro-capital punishment stance (note, which is not to be confused with an indiscriminate or unjust use of this punishment).

Nevertheless, best of luck to the DPIC. Maybe some of that religious research and reading will rub off on them.

HT: Berman.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

True Believer on Trial

I'll admit, the capital punishment abolitionists are devoted.

So devoted, in fact, that one of them, Kathleen Culhane, a defense investigator, is about to stand trial in Sacramento on 45 counts for forging witness and juror affidavits and other documents designed to spring four convicted murderers from death row. She worked for the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, but her "work" was used by notables such as Ken Starr. Of course, her bosses are just shocked, shocked, that Kulhane was producing these (often quite clumsy) forgeries.

As for Culhane, "Ms. Culhane has a strong belief against the death penalty, and she devoted her life to fighting it by legal means," her lawyer told the press. The guy has a funny definition of "legal means," but I suppose for the abolitionists, the goal trumps everything else, even the integrity of the courts.

See my earlier posting about this here.

HT: Crime and Consequences.

Appellate Lessons

Well, the AG has decided to ask the en banc Court of Appeals to hear my bank robbery case which a three-judge panel reversed on Batson grounds. (See here for more on Batson generally and here's the opinion itself).

Without getting too much into the legal argument, which I will leave in the capable hands of the AG, I did find it curious that the majority panel decision referred to "the Commonwealth’s limited questioning on voir dire to reveal the jurors’ potential for bias."

The learned judges in the majority may have forgotten what it's like to try cases in the "real world." Many trial judges are very grudging about jury voir dire, and while they recognize they must give the defendant broader latitude, or risk reversal, they do not fear reversal (because it cannot happen) for summarily limiting the Commonwealth's voir dire.

It is often better to be quick with a few questions and get out, than to risk being cut off by the judge in front of the jury. Moreover, my philosophy is that voir dire questions are in many (not all) cases of limited use. I've found that the questions I asked in this case usually are sufficient to locate the "problem" jurors.

I like to let the defendant ask lots of intrusive questions, spend alot of time, and potentially irritate the jury, while using whatever information is produced to my own benefit.

I suppose, however, since two Court of Appeals judges think my brief questioning an important fact to mention in finding a Batson violation (implying what?-- that I didn't care to ask too many questions because I was already determined to be a racist meany and strike all the black jurors?), I will have to reconsider my practice.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tall Tales of Torture

Soldiers making up stories of abuse at Guantanamo? It's a cold hard fact, but it won't prevent some from instantly crediting and fervently believing whatever second-hand hearsay accounts surface, such as the purported "baptizing" of a detainee (an incident only supported by the same kind of "boasting"). After all, if you've made up your mind that our forces are basically out of control torture-meisters, you're going to rejoice when you find accounts that support your world-view.

Sadly, the sensational allegations get far more notice than the subsequent "whoops, never mind."

I won't hold my breath for the hysterical crowd to start being more careful about engaging in slander.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gone to the Mall


But what should we expect when not only the MSM, but even some conservatives and certain Catholic bloggers, denigrate the military, the Commander-in-Chief, and the mission? Ironically, when radical Islam wins, one of the first things to go will be the "decadent" malls.

Monday, February 12, 2007

From the LWOP "Ooops" List...

Michael Rodriguez, a Texas death-row inmate who had been in jail for hiring a hit man to kill his wife before breaking out of prison with six others and ultimately murdering a police officer, has asked to drop further appeals and be executed.

This poster child for the death penalty could not be deterred by life in prison without parole, which supposedly protects us all from such murderers.

Apparently, he did not get enough "stimuli and encouragement" in prison, which, according to the Vatican, would have incapacitated him as a further threat, and Officer Aubrey Hawkins (pictured at left) would not have been shot eleven times, leaving behind a wife and son.

Cases like this show why, no matter what the agitation level from abolitionists, the death penalty will always be a necessary option.

HT: Crime and Consequences.

Vatican Reaffirms Morality of Death Penalty

... while simulataneously claiming that capital punishment is "a clear offense against the inviolability of human life... and, for Christians, an affront to the evangelical teaching of forgiveness."

Uh, whatever. This interesting schizophrenic exercize took place recently when the Vatican issued a statement for the "world congress on the death penalty" held in that bastion of Christian values, France, earlier this month.

The part of the statement the press ignored reaffirms that "The Catholic Church continues to maintain that the legitimate authorities of State have the duty to protect society from aggressors."

At the same time, and in direct contradiction to what it just affirmed, the statement alleges that capital punishment is "a clear offense against the inviolability of human life ... and, for Christians, an affront to the evangelical teaching of forgiveness."

So one must ask which teaching is Rome positing? Either the death penalty is part of the legitimate aresenal of the State to defend against aggressors, or it's an affront to human dignity and the right to life which, it is claimed, is "inviolable" and extends "from conception to natural end," a radical claim that eliminates not only the death penalty but the just war doctrine!

And as for the "evangelical teaching" of forgiveness, where is the principled attempt to reconcile the radical (and heretical) pacifism of this statement with the clear teaching of both Scripture and Tradition on the morality of both the death penalty and the just war?

The situation is not helped by the addition of a smattering of extremely ignorant statements about how other non-lethal means of punishment "offer[] the accused stimuli and encouragement" and therefore obviate the need for the death penalty (an argument that would get an "F" in a high school sociology course).

And people wonder why the Church is ignored.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Small Steps Forward

You won't hear it or read about in the MSM, or at certain blogs which root for failure in Iraq, but there are good things like this story happening every day.

Whether these good things will survive the onslaught of the nattering nabobs of negativism, only time will tell.

HT: Black Five.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Torture, Again

Papa Shea is on a tear again about torture, even though, as I documented here, he finally was compelled to admit that not all physical compulsion constitutes torture, thus backing down from his prior, absolutist, no-compulsion-is-permissible stance.

Now he's insisting on the "golden rule" doctrine of prisoner treatment, i.e., our guys should treat all enemies they capture the way our guys would like to be treated if captured by the enemy. Shea cites this blogger, who found the "golden rule" doctrine in his old Army manual from the mid-1980s.

The problem with all this is that while the "golden rule" might apply to how we treat surrending enemy combatants, it does not apply to captured terrorists (who are not "lawful combatants" under the Geneva Convention) who may have life-saving and time sensitive intelligence that needs to be ferreted out.

More importantly, as I have exhaustively shown before, international and domestic definitions of torture, some of which have even been endorsed by the Holy See, permit lesser, "non-torture" coercive measures to be taken against detained individuals. Now, no one would want to undergo these non-torture, coercive means of gathering intelligence, such as sleep deprivation, room temperature manipulation, loud music, forced standing, etc. Yet their use is proper under the correct circumstances.

So please, Papa Mark, try not to obfuscate the issue by claiming that our guys can never treat a captured terrorist other than the way our guys would hope to be treated if captured. In the alternative, can we agree that if AlQaeda captures one of our guys, and the guy was planning to blow up innocent women and children in some Moslem city, that our guy ought to expect that he will be coerced into giving his interrogators what they need to thwart such an immoral attack?

More on this here:

"Pounding the Table"

"Defining Terms"

"Miranda v. Arizona as 'Torture'"

"In the Ghetto"

"Torture By Overstuffing"

"More on Gestalt Morality"

"He Should Have Been a Lawyer"

Ken Strikes Again

A last, parting shot from the old, evil, defense attorney Ken Lammers before he donned his white hat:

A Court of Appeals panel reversed a bank robbery jury conviction that Ken defended against me. It's a strange opinion, and I would have more to say about it, but there is a potential for further appellate litigation. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Felon Peace Prize Nominee

If you didn't already know it, the Nobel Peace Prize has frequently become an award for conspicuous service against the interests of the United States. Notable past nominees include Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Yasser Arafat.

Now not only does the award routinely go out to international criminals and thugs, it goes out to our domestic criminals. The criminal in question is convicted felon George Ryan, the former governor of Illinois. As I documented here, Ryan's claim to infamy was that he literally emptied out Illinois' death row, commuting the death sentences of all 167 inmates awaiting execution, without regard to the strength of the cases, the evidence, the wishes of the victims or the police and prosecutors.

Here's the low down on this Nobel Peace Prize nominee:
Late in the 1990s, two young federal prosecutors in Chicago prepared a two-page memo that outlined allegations of corruption in the office of George Ryan, then the Illinois secretary of state. The prosecutors had evidence that unqualified truckers were bribing Ryan's employees to obtain driver's licenses. Just as bad, somebody on Ryan's staff had thwarted an internal investigation of these dangerous criminal acts.The memo prompted piercing questions about a horror that had occurred on Election Day 1994. That was the day Rev. Duane "Scott" Willis and his wife, Janet, voted--their church was the polling place--before driving to Wisconsin with most of their family to visit one of their sons. For Illinois secretary of state, both Willises selected George Ryan.Later that day, on a Milwaukee expressway, an accident that involved one of those illicit truckers incinerated six Willis children. Ryan would later insist--angrily and often--that the trucker, Ricardo Guzman, had been legally licensed. No problem here in Illinois. In 1998, George Ryan was elected governor of Illinois on the strength of that lie about the Willis case. An internal memo later established that, just eight days after the Willis tragedy, at least four officials in Ryan's office were aware that "there is a strong possibility that this individual obtained his [commercial driver's license] illegally." Elsewhere at least three other people died in crashes involving truckers improperly licensed by Ryan's staff.That 1998 campaign for the job Ryan coveted set the pattern: To distance himself from the immolation of the Willis children, Ryan concocted the strategy of deflection, denial and dishonesty that today rests in ruin. The conviction Monday of the disgraced former governor on all counts certifies him as a federal felon.That verdict of guilt in U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer's wood-paneled courtroom puts Ryan squarely at the cold heart of a corruption scandal with a death toll."Ryan is charged with betraying the citizens of Illinois for over a decade on state business, both large and small. By giving friends free rein over state employees and state business to make profits--and by steering those profits to his friends and, at times, his family--defendant Ryan sold his office."--U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago on Dec. 17, 2003, the date of Ryan's indictment.

Nevertheless, despite Ryan being thrown into prison for six and one-half years for his deadly negligence and corruption, the abolitionist left views him as a hero for emptying death row.

It shows you where their values are.